Archive for February, 2010
Microsoft updates its Bing Maps application with more features, including one that integrates Flickr photos into its Streetside view, which presents an eye-level view of terrain. In the future, Microsoft plans to add real-time video, interior panoramas and constellation viewing to Bing Maps. The Bing road map for 2010 includes an increased focus on knitting together data from multiple sources for its results pages and structuring results more efficiently with help from third parties.
Microsoft has integrated new features into its Bing Maps application as it continues to battle Google for U.S. search engine market share. The latest features continue the bulking-up of Bing Maps that has taken place over the previous few months and follow the road map for Bing that Microsoft laid out in January at the Consumer Electronics Show.
One of the new features is a technology preview of the Streetside Photos application, which attaches geotagged Flickr photos to a particular location in Bing Maps’ eye-level Streetside view of terrain. Historical photos will also be incorporated, allowing users to see a particular neighborhood as it looked in the past. Microsoft is working on video overlay technology that will attempt to unite real-time video with street-level imagery, something it promises to demonstrate in more depth by the end of 2010.
On December 3, 2009 Greg Sterling had posted an article saying that Google Suspends Local Listing Ads – For Now. Well it seems that they have suspended them indefinitely since they completely remove the section of their website that was deticated to the local listing ads. Take a look at the screenshot below:
This is what I end up on after performing the search query “Local Listing Ads” (LLA) and click on the number one result, Google’s own page dedicated for these ads. Well it seems that the beta test didn’t go over as well as they thought or they are about to launch some nationwide model.
If you are unfamiliar with Local Listing Ads, they are/were an advertising medium that Google offered to it’s Local Business Center clients where they would pay a flat monthly fee to have a advertisement placed above the map-pack and below the search field. This advertisement was given a blue pin icon so it could stand out from all the red ones.
I thought this was one of the best values for a local business since you are paying a flat fee to have arguably the best position on the SERPs. One downside seemed to be that more competitive markets would yield rotating LLA in order to keep the clicks equal. If your market was not highly competitive the value appeared to be greater on the consumer’s end.
Google announced the beta release of Local Listing Ads on October 6, 2009 and suspended them on Dec 3, 2009.
The ads were only released in the San Francisco and San Diego metropolitan markets.
Google Maps is a great tool for local businesses, but can be a complete headache when it creates multiple or duplicate listings for your business. This makes the job of obtaining a “Lucky 7-Pack” position very hard. Your companies value-added information, reviews, photos and more can be split between multiple accounts making optimization very difficult.
Most of the time this is caused by Google’s algorithm pulling in the same or similar information from multiple reliable sources. This can also occur when the local merchant does not realize he/she already has a Google Local Business Center Profile and creates another. Any way it happens the outcome is never good.
The main problem in having numerous listings is the division of information, reviews, and possibly URLs, and even photos and videos.
Google states, when you find out that you have duplicate listings you should follow the following steps:
I personally have followed the above instructions numerous times successfully.
The Small Business Online Coach states that 30-40% of his clients have some sort of duplicate content.
PLEASE NOTE: The above method only works for unverified listings. If you believe that your listing has been owner verified without your consent please go to the Google Maps Help Forum and start a thread asking one of the Google Maps Employees to possibly give you a helping hand.
I have encountered a few cases where one of my customer’s LBC listing had been verified by someone else, possibly a competitor or a spammer. I reported the listing using the More > Report a Listing tab on the profile page then played the waiting game.
After reading Mike Blumenthal‘s post on Google’s new feature, Nearby Places, I just felt like I had to write this. I did a local search for the most popular Chinese food restaurant in Petaluma, CA to see what places this new feature recommended. Take a look below to see what was yielded for the search “Lily Kai Chinese Petaluma, CA”:
If I was a competing small business I would not be happy about this update one bit. It is only a matter of time before Google places advertisements at the bottom of those listings. They could potentially place the new “enhanced listings” there to attract the reader’s eye to their restaurant. The addition of rich snippets is very important to these Nearby Places listings too. If your business has 5 ratings that average 3 stars and a few of your Nearby Places have solid 5 star ratings you actually might loose a customer. This is opening the doors for automated content aggregation companies to take a leap into the local scene by signing a content partnership with Google. This allows Google to take rich content provided by companies like CitySearch, Yelp, InsiderPages, and yes… even DemandForce. and have it get merged into your businesses local profile.
Greg Sterling posted yesterday about Ads Entering the Google ’7-Pack’. These ads are actually called Enhanced Listings that Google is now featuring in the map pack. This was also noted on Mike Blumenthal’s blog post titled Google’s “Enhanced Listings” for Local earlier today.
You will notice that the Golf Club at Boulder Ridge is highlighting photos. This is just one of the many options that Google allows you to choose to highlight.
Google says that you can use any of the following enhancements to jazz up your listing.
- Website for your business.
- Photos of your business.
- Videos of your business.
- Coupons for your listing.
- Menu for your restaurant.
- Reservations page for your business.
- Driving directions to your business.
“The enhancement types you can select depend on what information you already have available in your business listing. If you want to highlight a video, for example, you’ll first need to add a video to your business listing. Once you’ve done that, the option will show up in the menu for your enhancement types.”
There is a $25 monthly fee that gets paid to Google to create an enhanced listing for your local company. There are no bids or keywords to optimize for either.
The Burlison Law Firm chose to highlight some of their videos, in order to persuade the viewer to click the link.
Not only does your listing get highlight next to where you appear in the maps, but you also get a nice icon to accompany the map its self. This should improve the click through rate of your listing since it is a way to separate your map listing from your competition’s.