Google’s Fake Listings Problem Gets More Attention—and May Spur Regulation

Blumenthal to Mihm: It seems to me that Google could take the fake listings issue off the table by seriously investing in cleaning up the fake listing and fake review issue. I just don’t think that they think that way.

At a minimum, as the company that has the monopoly in the local space, Google faces the expectation and responsibility to provide a service that truly serves the public and businesses. And they seem to forget that.

Google Antitrust: Is It Enough for Yelp?

Mihm to Blumenthal: I’m not averse to the idea of the government regulating Google’s practices in Maps or local search, but it feels like rewarding Yelp in particular is not going to bring consumers any particular benefit, nor will it meaningfully benefit small businesses, as Elizabeth Warren seems to indicate is a primary goal of her plan.

If anything, Google has gone out of its way to help small businesses compete in its search results with the introduction of the local pack and the Venice update, whereas small businesses continue to rate Yelp as poorly as any company in tech.

Who’s Winning the Reviews Race? How Do We Define Winning?

In their latest Street Fight conversation, Mike Blumenthal and David Mihm examine the state of the local reviews space and assess the reasons for Google’s dominance. “For me, the question of the future is whether Google’s behaviors will impact the remaining vertical sites over the next 10 years,” Mike writes.

At I/O, Google Offers a New Vision for Local Search

The notion of “helping you get things done,” emphasized by Sundar Pichai in his I/O keynote, provides a through-line for many of the event’s announcements. It struck me watching the presentations how thoroughly Google has become a consumer electronics company, a marketer of devices where search is more a central feature than a standalone product. Google, in other words, has become thoroughly dedicated to marketing its famous search capabilities in the context of devices that help you perform daily tasks. In the process, it is transforming local search and how we relate to the world with electronic devices.

Beyond SEO: How to Reframe the Local Marketing Conversation

“I am looking for a language framework that helps business understand that the idea of ranking only makes sense in the context of not just getting more customers but also keeping them. While businesses might want a floodgate of leads, there are many things that they could be doing that would be cost-effective and productive,” Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm in their latest Street Fight discussion.

Will Google Ask Businesses to Pay for Listings?

Google recently sent surveys to a number of Google My Business (GMB) users, asking a range of questions about their local marketing activities and their level of interest in certain paid features within GMB. The survey suggests that Google is at least thinking about a paid version of the GMB feature set. For the local search industry, a paid GMB product offered to businesses of all types could be quite disruptive, especially if it ended up gradually degrading the value of organic listings.

Brand Building Beyond Reviews: Is the Local Marketing Ecosystem Ready?

“I think it makes more sense for a small business to buy ‘brand building’ that includes some community events and link building than for that same business to buy SEO,” Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm. Find out what tech tools can build a local brand and why David disagrees partly with Mike’s suggestion.

Four Keys to Ensure Your Brand Has Local Authenticity Online

Taking time to ensure that your brand is represented authoritatively and genuinely online helps build a solid connection with your audience. But how does your brand communicate that authenticity at a local level? Here are four essential ways to build local authenticity through your localized social marketing efforts.

Communicating on GMB Poses Some Challenges, but the Local Ecosystem Has Answers

Google has been hard at work on local in 2018 and 2019, taking strides toward making its Google My Business app the one-stop-shop for local businesses hoping to connect with customers through digital means. Nevertheless, local is a tricky, 24-7 business, and when it comes to connecting brick-and-mortars with customers nearby, Alphabet’s core business has some room for improvement.

Local Search Association Announces New President, Bill Dinan

The Local Search Association, which brings together over 300 companies intent on connecting enterprises and small businesses alike with consumers, announced on Wednesday morning Bill Dinan as its new president. The announcement follows the retirement of its previous president Neg Norton, who held the role for 15 years.

Omnichannel Optimization: What’s Changing (and What Isn’t) in Post-Screen Search

For brand marketers, addressing the expansion of local search into voice and visual contexts is really a matter of digging in and getting more involved with rich local context that appears to grow more expansive by the day. Google alone has introduced a vast array of opportunities for business to differentiate themselves from the competition, including photos, videos, 360° virtual tours, business descriptions, menus, Posts, reviews, and several other features.

Privacy-Forward Search Engine DuckDuckGo Partners with Apple Maps

Making a big splash in privacy, the ongoing story that has dominated location data-based marketing buzz in 2019, DuckDuckGo, the search engine that does not store user data in order to sell pricey ads, announced that it is using Apple’s MapKit JS to power searches. While the search engine’s results are sought out by far fewer users than search industry leader Google’s, the growth DuckDuckGo is experiencing further validates the impression the tech media has practically been screaming about this year: The winds on privacy are definitively changing, and data-driven companies that fail to heed those changes are in for quite a storm.

Will 2019 Be Remembered as the Year of GMB Messaging?

Mihm to Blumenthal: Absent a messaging competitor, even a handful of conversations with real customers make businesses *think* Facebook is where the party is. In reality, as you and plenty of others have found, 90% of actual leads are coming from Google. And a serious chunk of that 90% comes directly from Google My Business. Per my prediction, Google is *just* starting to push the “Message” CTA to consumers. And I think the floodgates are about to open.

What’s Visual Search, and How Will It Play Out in 2019?

While visual search isn’t exactly catching on like fire yet, its evolution is buttressed by powerful developments of late in the tech industry. Among these: smartphones are increasingly ubiquitous, more efficient, and we’re all more accustomed to using them; investment in AI from both big companies and startups is widespread, making machine vision more effective; and augmented reality (AR), a similar modality in which tech overlays graphics onto images captured via camera lens, is taking off. Below are a few ways visual search will play out in local and retail in 2019.

Relevnt Aims to Integrate Local and Social Media on Community-Based Website

Local and social media, produced by individuals and news sites alike, have a new place to hang out, and it’s called Relevnt. Launched late last year, the app “is like Yelp meets Reddit for social media,” said Winder Hughes, the company’s CEO and founder.

Google’s Path to Becoming the Transaction Layer of the Web

“Google is controlling the entire local experience—discovery, presentation, and transaction—and there’s just nowhere for agencies to add value, or make any money from that value,” David Mihm tells Mike Blumenthal in their biweekly column.

Google Updates Search to Recommend Local Events Based on User Interests

Google is bringing the personalization zeitgeist to local event recommendations. The company reported on its blog Thursday that it is releasing a series of new features that will make it easier for users to find essential information about events of interest to them right on search engine result pages.

Nextdoor Partners With HouseCanary, Adding Real Estate Functionality to its Social Network

The news, announced Tuesday morning, marks progress in a natural direction for Nextdoor, whose users already jabber about real estate without prodding on the social network’s part, said Nextdoor’s Chief Revenue Officer Lauren Nemeth in a company press release.

Prime Day 2017 Marked Week of Lowest Foot Traffic for Retailers Last Summer

Those are the latest numbers on foot traffic and e-commerce from location data experts at Foursquare, which posted the information on Medium. As we suggested over here at Street Fight last week, Prime Day, which arrives this Monday and continues on through Tuesday, is a testament to Amazon’s power to disrupt all of retail when it so chooses.

Does Google Really Need a Social Network to Succeed at Local?

“The driving vision of Google’s entire local arc is to be able to give a single eyes-free answer to any query with local intent. Social features like reviews, Guides, business owner data, and Q&A are just the means to that end,” writes David Mihm in his biweekly column with Mike Blumenthal.