Google Local has started rolling out an updated interface for “Places for Business” that will replace the current dashboard. The new dashboard will make use of the “widget” approach to all functionality making it easier to manage the account.
However, the rollout will be in stages and will be initially made available to a small number of US businesses and businesses newly claimed via the G+ Local page. Local SEO expert, Mike Blumenthal was provided by a test account by Google with this new interface. His views on this new dashboard are posted on his blogpost – https://goo.gl/n1wzc
The new interface takes “widget” approach to all functionality. Editing data is a widget as are G+, Adwords Express and Offers. That implies that many more “widgets” will make their way in the new Dashboard:
The listing “widget” provides a tabbed interface to the editor (Edit Business Information) and analytics (Insights). Note the array of feedback provided (same as the Plus editing environment).
Here’s the BIG improvement. This upgrade DOES allow for service area businesses to hide their address if they choose to get a G+ Page with their address hidden. The verbiage also makes clear whether the business accepts walk-ins or not AND provides contextual help.
As far as contact details are concerned, many more contact options are now available so one presumes that things like email address will once again show on the Google+ Local page.
Coming to Categories, it will no longer accept custom categories. However, you can add up to 10 pre-defined categories that relate to your business.
The Category list is very similar to those categories previously available to users of the current Dashboard. However, the list has been dramatically improved for restaurants from 76 types of restaurants to 230. Overall, the new list contains a total 2295 category choices which can be found here (US only).
Matt Cutts made an announcement at the recent SXSW conference in March intimating at an algorithm update that would penalize low quality or “bad” merchants. This is what Cutts mentioned:
“We have a potential launch later this year, maybe a little bit sooner, looking at the quality of merchants and whether we can do a better job on that, because we don’t want low quality experience merchants to be ranking in the search results.”
However, the quality and preference of merchant sites that will rank in the search results was not clarified. Cutts went on to say that the quality parameters will be considered by usefulness and spammability. Expect customer reviews to play a considerable role in quality scores in both the number of reviews and also the percentage of positive reviews.
As SEO experts, we have optimized close to 2000 ecommerce sites. As far as our knowledge of working on these sites is concerned, we believe that along with the review count, site architecture and usability indicators will play a very vital role in the filtering.
Below are some very important points to consider if you have an ecommerce / merchant website:
- Try to get as many positive reviews as possible from your customers on your website as well as your Google+ Business Page and other review sites. Make sure that these reviews are genuine. Fake reviews are considered as a negative tactic by Google and might put you in trouble.
- Improve the quality of the product pages. Avoid high bounce rates, too many page not found errors, internal server errors. Check our Google Webmaster Tools and get the crawl errors resolved first.
- Have unique content on the site. Avoid duplicate content especially on the product listing page. Verifying your site via Google Authorship will help as well.
- Drop any manufacturer provided images in favor of multiple unique ones.
- Mark up your site with Microdata so that Rich snippets appear in Google search results.
It would be rather smart to consider this update a fact and not an opinion so that you can begin preparing for it now. We will keep you updated as things progress, but in the meantime be sure you’re doing what you can to work on your website AND attract those online reviews.
As we all know, being hacked is a big deal and can direct affect your website rankings as well as reputation. Fortunately, Google has produced a free resource for you to leverage. The Webmasters help for hacked sites page outlines an 8-step course of action to help you regain control of your site and get rid of Google’s “This site may harm your computer” warning.
The 8 steps are as follows:
- Watch the overview (here’s the video URL – https://goo.gl/V1qyT)
- Contact your site’s Host and build a support team
- Quarantine your site
- Touch base with Webmaster Tools
- Assess the damage (hacked with spam) or (hacked with malware)
- Identify the vulnerability
- Clean and maintain your site
- Request a review
Google appears to be experimenting with changing page titles within their search listings to elevate brand name. The change shows that Google is, in some cases, ignoring the title tag meta data (which is not unusual in itself) and bumping the brand name to the front of the page title followed by a colon and the keywords.
Google often rewords the title headlines within the search results to make them more attractive, but this particular change is worth noting because it goes against the traditional line of thought that your most important keywords should go first within the page’s title. Perhaps Google is starting to see more relevance with branding.
Here’s an example search for “Lincoln Nebraska Performing Arts”
When you view the source code it’s obvious that Google moved the brand name to the front bumping the keywords back. This is how it was listed in the code.
<title>Performing Arts Theater Events Midwest Lincoln Nebraska (NE) – Lied Center for Performing Arts</title>
We’ll keep you posted on this topic if it continues to grow. Regardless, Google knows when people are looking for a specific business by name and will adjust its search results to increase clicks and user satisfaction. It is always advisable to keep building your business’s brand and regardless of your title tags you’ll do just fine.
Starting from April, if a marketer wants to include a contact number in an Adwords Ad, they need to call extensions feature. Google will start disapproving any ads that include telephone numbers in the ad text, according to a recent policy update.
The official word from Google:
“In the next few weeks, we will no longer allow phone numbers to be used in the ad text of new ads. Advertisers who would still like to promote phone numbers in their AdWords advertising can use the call extensions feature. We’re posting this alert now to provide adequate lead time to make ad changes.
In April 2013, we will begin to disapprove ads that were using phone numbers in their ad text before the March 2013 policy change.”
While an ad like this is currently visible, it will no longer be allowed in AdWords:
The change will be enacted in April of this year, but Google made the announcement last week in order to give businesses enough time to react. It seems that there are a few things to keep in mind starting in April:
- Call extensions
This is a feature that will show up on a Google ad for users to press. In other words, instead of seeing the actual phone number in the ad, you will just see a button that says “call” that forwards messages to a given number.
- Forwarding Numbers
This is another option of call extensions that allows you to direct calls to your business when the ads show up on desktop or laptop computers.
The new call extensions will charge advertisers every time a mobile user clicks on the call button. Advertisers will have to pay a standard ad click; however the $1 charge for a forwarding number or a number that appears just next to the ad has been eliminated.
- Measure Conversions
Companies can visit the Campaign and Ad Group tabs to check things such as the number of phone calls and average cost per each phone call, which is something that was difficult in the past.
Using call extensions with a Google forwarding number allows you to measure conversions. You can find details such as phone impressions, phone calls, phone-through rate, and average cost per phone call in the Campaign and Ad Group tabs.
According to Google, “your ad group will have to receive a minimum number of clicks to be able to show call extensions, and a minimum number of calls to show a Google forwarding number.”
Advertisers will continue to be charged for a standard ad click every time a mobile user clicks on the forwarding phone number link or “Call” button (this is not a new charge), both of which can be seen in the below screen-shot:
The biggest takeaway from the news is just the importance of getting started. Phone numbers aren’t important for every type of business, but if the benefits work for you, then now is the time to make it happen. Soon any phone number in your AdWords ads, even if they are old, will be removed.
Pinterest Web Analytics has been the most awaited and talked about feature for a while now. This feature has now gone live. With the substantial Growth and Increase in Number of Users worldwide, it was certain that Pinterest will become the new Social phenomenon.
While Brands started recognizing the influential Power of this new addictive platform, Pinterest itself couldn’t tell Brands about their users, which were the most pinned Images and Analytics that could be of much importance. Now, Pinterest does this all!
Pinterest Web Analytics provides the ability to Track their Pinning activity, what the Followers and Other Pinners like, most Repinned Images, most Clicked Images, and other Site Metrics. These Web Analytics can be checked for a custom date range and it also provides a Quick Select option for 7 days, 14 days and 30 days respectively. We think the inclusion of Analytics has not only been a crucial one, but the one most needed!
You need to follow the below steps to check the Analytics of your Pinterest Account:
- Verify your Account (Both Personal & Business Account need to be verified). Click here to know more (Insert this link: https://business.pinterest.com/verify/)
- Select “Analytics” from the Drop Down Menu in the top right corner.
These Web Analytics will help you know more about your Followers and what they like so that you can develop or modify your Pinterest Strategy accordingly.
Note: The Analytics are only supported with the new layout of Pinterest.