The Hidden Opportunity Cost of Google Plus: Review Volume

Blumenthal: I was able to look at reviews per month since 2015 for a large number of restaurant locations across the sites that are now common in the restaurant industry. Interestingly, Yelp’s and TripAdvisor’s review volume is roughly the same now as it was in January 2015, while you can see that Google’s review volume is now roughly 10x that of either of those two sites. And Google was receiving fewer reviews per location per month than either Yelp or TA in early 2015.

There is an interesting but not totally obvious point on the slide where Google’s review volume starts to take off and that is April 2016. For those of you who don’t track Google minutiae quite the way that I do, that was the month when Google finally separated reviews from Google Plus and no longer required a Plus profile to leave a review. 

Fake Reviews Are Silicon Valley’s Next Fake News Problem

Local businesses are struggling to adapt to a world where online reputation drives offline sales, and fake reviews are making the transition harder. What’s more, the fake review problem is getting worse. A Harvard study found that fake reviews on Yelp grew from 5% to 20% over several years.

There are lots of reasons for this trend, but this is an area where big data can be used to the benefit of consumers and businesses to increase trust. This means it’s on the tech community—not small businesses—to fix fake reviews. Just as media platforms have a moral obligation to avoid the spread of fake news, review sites have a responsibility to their users and businesses to ensure their content is as accurate as possible.

GrubHub or GrabHub? Thoughts on the Latest Predatory Industry to Target SMBs

“Growth hacking” along these lines is enough to gag a maggot, but there is the more “benign” approach of Google that says, “Let’s add an order button to every restaurant for the ‘benefit of the customer’” that is equally reprehensible. The business is effectively paying a searcher “head tax” to the food delivery companies on brand searches where the consumer just wanted to get the restaurant phone number, and the searcher was offered a big order button that is so much more convenient to click. 

In Google’s case, it would be a simple matter to provide the local restaurant the option to turn off the Order CTA in the dashboard. Instead, if a business complains to Google, they foist them on the delivery service for resolution. (Or not.) 

The Importance of Online Review Management for SMBs

Operators of small- and medium-sized businesses can get by ignoring many of the tech innovations that large companies adopt. Managing online reviews is not one of them.

Like it or not, the widespread usage of review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and even Google and Facebook have changed the landscape of how local businesses attract and retain customers. Left ignored or handled the wrong way, a business’s negative online reviews can be a deterrent to potential new customers. Managed the right way, however, those same review sites can be a valuable marketing and customer service tool that leads to improved revenue.

The History and Value of Citations, or Citations are Dead, Long Live the Citation

Mihm to Blumenthal: Setting aside the fact that the vast majority of calls you receive from non-Google directories are from salespeople, if you’re paying for an expensive citation service with analytics, compare the non-Google numbers to your GMB Insights. It’s going to be a drop in the bucket.

It’s time that every brand, regardless of size, ask itself whether going beyond Google, Facebook, and maybe Yelp is worth paying any premium. 

If a tree falls in the citation forest and no customers are there to see it, not only does it not make a sound, but Google doesn’t care that it fell.

Retailers Leverage Prime Day to Boost Offline Sales

Unlike other shopping “holidays,” like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Amazon Prime Day is specific to a single retailer. But as the event grows, other retailers—both online and offline—are finding ways to leverage the anticipation that consumers are feeling.

Last year, 63% of Prime Day shoppers said they visited competing websites to compare prices. This is a major opportunity for online retailers to capitalize on the spike in traffic and provide consumers with personalized and targeted offerings and exclusive deals.

Fresh Chalk Has a New Take on Local Reviews

Despite digital change, recommendations from friends remain one of the most credible forms of marketing. Now, a new startup called Fresh Chalk is aiming to capitalize on that, giving consumers a way to find local professionals with help from their friends.

Like Yelp, Facebook, Google, and other local business directories, Fresh Chalk is aiming to help people source recommendations from reliable, qualified businesses in their own communities. But unlike most other competitors in the market, Fresh Chalk is keeping a tight focus on personal connections.

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.

Voice-Readiness Study Indicates Vast Majority of Businesses Fail Basic Listings Test

It only takes listing correct and comprehensive information on Google, Yelp, and Bing for a brand or small business to earn 90% on location management solution Uberall’s voice search readiness test. Yet only 4% of the businesses in the company’s latest study, which examined the voice preparedness of 75,000 listings, had correct info on all three of those major directories.

Google Appears to Test Netflix-Like Personalization Score for Local Businesses

Just as Netflix displays match scores in the arena of entertainment, showing users a percentage indicating how likely they are to enjoy a new film or TV show, Google appears to be testing a feature that shows searchers how likely they are to enjoy a local business.

Voice Search Readiness in 2019 and Beyond

Bernadette Coleman: 2019 is here. While the focus in recent weeks has been predictions on the digital marketing trends that are expected to emerge this year, I would argue that one of the most important measures brands need to take in 2019 is to implement a full-scale voice search readiness strategy, if they have not already.

Consumers’ Reliance on Online Reviews, Evolving Rapidly, Is Reshaping Local Search

Recommendations gradually exchanged in person are now flooding webpages, most notably Google’s SERPs. Twenty-seven percent of consumers are now reading reviews of local businesses every day, marking a staggering jump from just 12% in 2017, according to a recent report.

LBMA Podcast: Amazon’s Search Re-Targeting, Target’s Use of Runerra

Listen to This Week in Location Based Marketing, a weekly video podcast from the Location Based Marketing Association with Asif Khan & Aubriana Lopez. On the show: Amazon’s search re-targeting, Target using Runerra, Intraposition raises $1.5M, Buick integrates Yelp, Walmart goes with maps and faster checkout, Macy’s invests in VR roll-out.

How Content Partnerships Have Made Yelp a Data Amplifier

Damian Rollison: It became clear to me, during Yelp’s presentation at the recent Brandify Summit, that the company has become a data amplifier. Here I’m making use of Gib Olander’s helpful term for companies whose data finds its way into a multitude of consumer-facing channels. In this column, I break down the significance of that state of affairs for hyperlocal marketing.

Street Fight Daily: Boosting Sales with Google My Business; Battle Over Yelp Reviews May Go to Supreme Court

TODAY IN LOCAL & DIGITAL MARKETING AND MEDIA… Heard on the Street, Episode 14: Boosting Sales with Google My Business… Battle Over Negative Reviews on Yelp Could Go to Supreme Court… Apps Downloaded on Millions of Android Phones Tracked Users in Ad Fraud Scheme…

Street Fight Daily: Facebook to Cut Off Third-Party Data Oct 1, Amazon Wants to Monopolize the Smart Home

TODAY IN LOCAL & DIGITAL MARKETING AND MEDIA… Ad Buyers Prepare for Headaches as Facebook Cuts Off Third-Party Data… Report: Voice Tech Not Meeting Consumer Expectations… Amazon Announces Slew of Voice-Activated Products, Leading the Way on Voice…

Yelp, Google Reviews, and Antitrust

Forcing Google to split Maps-related business into a standalone “geo” unit would foster a more diverse technology ecosystem. But as far as Google’s review practices are concerned, regulators should not be convinced by an irrational argument that indexation of Google reviews has any bearing on the harm created for, or benefit gained by, consumers.

Street Fight Daily: Integration of Listings & Reputation Management; Google Reviews, Yelp, and Antitrust

TODAY IN LOCAL & DIGITAL MARKETING AND MEDIA… Latest Local Marketing Merger Aims for Scale in Critical Listings Management Sector… Yelp, Google Reviews, and Antitrust… Oath Integrates Its Ad Tech Assets—But What About the Verizon Data?…