Figuring out what type of Local Guides are leaving reviews, and what kind of reviews they are leaving, matters for a few reasons. First, Local Guides are responsible for writing more reviews of local businesses than any other group on the internet. Second, Local Guides write reviews under circumstances that make them different from ordinary consumers: They are self-selected volunteers who get rewarded, albeit in a non-monetary fashion, for their contributions. Fairly or not, they are often thought of as biased and their contributions as less valuable, merely “written for points.” Third, the true characteristics of Local Guides are not well known, because they have not yet been subject to this type of study.
After conducting more than 50 “local intent” searches, I’ve found that not all of them return the new “mega map,” nor is the new layout as consistent as it at first appeared it would be. The range of searches I tried includes generic keyword searches for brick-and-mortar stores, such as the example above, as well as searches for local service providers, chain stores, products, and more. I tried covering a broad base of searches covering a range of categories. I made sure all of my searches would be interpreted as local by appending “san francisco” to each query.
Three of the most notable trends — the ever-increasing importance of native Google My Business (now Google Business Profile) factors and, in particular, of reviews, as well as the diminished impact of citation building — are reinforced this year, with Google profile optimization accounting for 36% of local ranking, up from 33% last year, and reviews inching up from 16% to 17%, while citations continue at 7%, down significantly in importance compared to their prominent role in earlier years.
In this episode of Location Weekly, the Location-Based Marketing Association covers Google getting into the OEM vehicle navigation space, Giant Food piloting mobile deals on perishable foods, Lowe’s launching a “room scanning tool” using LIDAR in their app, and Amazon’s Alexa coming to hospitals and assisted living homes.
In an analysis of more than 4 million store reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, and TripAdvisor, Uberall and The Transparency Company found that Google has the highest average percentage of inauthentic reviews across business categories. More than one in 10 reviews on Google’s platform was identified as fraudulent or fake in Uberall’s analysis. The category with the highest percentage of fake reviews was locksmiths, while pharmacies came in as the category with the lowest percentage of fake reviews.
The initial launch of the GMB API in late 2015 allowed partners to maintain listings in near-real-time and at a much greater scale than was possible before. Now we’re in the midst of another sea change. Since the beginning of 2021, the API has been undergoing a complete overhaul from the ground up, a change that, once completed, will leave us with a totally different architecture that is more flexible and capable of much quicker iteration. This means, in all likelihood, that Google My Business as it is used by partners and the businesses who work with them will be able to move faster to fix issues and release new features.
In this third of four installments in my series on recent and ongoing trends in local search, I want to focus on signs that Google’s local platform — comprising Google My Business, Google Maps, and the local component of Google Search — has become, under our noses, a massive social network. Google has achieved this status not through traditional methods of connecting users to each other, but by allowing and encouraging users to share their experiences, questions, and opinions about local businesses in a variety of forms and at a massive scale.
A trio of local search experts expound on the latest in the industry. Claire Carlile proposes Google My Business as a CMS and covers how businesses should approach the channel; Miriam Ellis explores the increasingly blurred lines between different categories of sites and businesses; and Damian Rollison delineates the major trends shaping the trajectory of local search, especially on Google.
This is the second in a series of four articles covering the themes behind many of Google’s recent local search feature releases and interface updates. In the first installment, I discussed Google’s increasingly personalized or customized search results, marked by content pulled from GMB profiles, the business website, and Google users, and matched to specific queries so that each SERP is unique. In this second installment, I’ll be talking too about interfaces that differ according to what you’re searching for, but in this case the differences are verticalized.
Though it’s not always easy to find the common threads in Google’s complex evolution of the local search consumer experience, some themes do stand out, such as the drive toward increasingly personalized search results, which I’ll be covering in this initial entry in the series. Fortunately for marketers, personalization, along with the other themes I’ll cover, offers numerous opportunities to outpace the competition and convert more searchers into buyers. A better understanding of these emerging trends will help marketers prioritize their efforts.
In this episode of Location Weekly, the Location-Based Marketing Association covers Google’s FLoCs as an alternative to the disappearing third-party cookie, the AR platform Beerscans turning beer labels into augmented reality experiences, Krispy Kreme offering free donuts to encourage vaccination, and GroundTruth acquiring Addy.
The initial frenzy over Google’s news regarding its latest privacy updates has abated, and now it’s time to really think about what it means – for Google, for brands, and for the industry as a whole.
As governments have lit a fire under brands and consumers have become more data-conscious, the future of marketing and advertising is unfolding before us. Let’s take a dive into what it all really signifies.