Archive for September, 2011

Whole Foods’ Sponsored Corn Field Maze

Friday, September 30th, 2011

I’ve written a few times about corn field mazes which can be seen using Google Maps – enter the newest “skyvertisement” promoting Whole Foods at P Bar Farms:

Whole Foods corn field maze ad

The Whole Foods corn field maze advertisement

It’s not the first time “crop art” or corn field maze designs have been used to promote a company. (more…)

Google Maps: New Changes, New Errors

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Matt McGee’s news piece on SEL caught my eye this morning, reporting that Google Maps now sports a new look and feel. The change was apparently announced late yesterday on the Google LatLong blog (I have to agree with Matt’s aside, their blog redesign is not an improvement).

The change comes after a few weeks of observed changes to Google Place Search and rumors and speculation about “big changes coming to Google Maps” followed by increasing buzz around place editing bugs and map interface errors.

Could this be what all the hubbub was about?!? At first glance, most of the changes seem relatively superficial.

This likely does explain some of the errors I encountered yesterday when attempting to do some searches and driving directions requests – that was likely during their code propagation. However, it still seems to me that there could be other changes on the horizon for when Google Plus for businesses rolls out.

Unfortunately, I can immediately see errors in the code that was just rolled out. For instance, the tooltips which appear when moused-over contain encoding errors, rendering various special characters like ampersands and apostrophes into gobbledygook:

Google Maps tooltip title display error


Facebook’s New Place Discovery Feature – A.K.A. “Spam Your Friends”

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Facebook has recently been rolling out new features and layouts, willy-nilly, risking the ire of many users who may be getting upgrade fatigue.

One of the many changes I noticed was a new feature intended to leverage users into promoting “great places” more when they “Like” a location:

Facebook's new Friends Discover Great Places Feature

Wasn’t just having Likes appearing on your wall page sufficient endorsement of a place? Now the service is trying to get you to push status updates for some places when they’re liked, and this just seems overly… pushy.

Is this what they intend to replace their becoming-deprecated check-in service feature? If so, this is particularly lame.

The “Like” activity itself is a form of endorsement and needs no further embellishment.

Google Scaling-Down Local Results? Possible Explanations Abound

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011
Google Place Search

Normal Google Place Search Results

People have reported seeing the “7-pack”, or local integrated listings under Universal/Place Search, in Google SERPs less in the past few days (reported on Search Engine Roundtable and WebmasterWorld). I’m seeing some similar cases where local queries are not invoking the business listings as I would’ve expected previously (such as for “Memphis locksmiths”).

So far, one of the prime theories in the discussion forums is that Google might’ve done that in advance of their antitrust hearings in Washington this week, in order to appear less aggressive by allowing more competitor directory pages to rank higher. I find that theory hard to believe, although it’s possible.

However, another theory is that this could be linked-to the recent rumors I earlier reported upon regarding Google planning to launch some “big changes” to Google Maps on October 1st. I opined that this could tie into their planned release of Google+ pages for businesses, and I think that’s still the case.

If Google were merely showing fewer local listings in the SERPs, I might suspect that (more…)

Amazon’s Daily Deals Is Yet Another Flirtation With Local

Friday, September 16th, 2011

It’s almost, but not quite, shocking to me that Amazon has launched another experiment into local business marketing with the Amazon Local daily deals service. I just got an email promotion for Dallas-Fort Worth area from them this morning:

AmazonLocal Deals

Amazon apparently uses LivingSocial, with which they are an investment partner, to power this service, and it launched a short while ago in June.

There are lots of companies hopping on the daily deals bandwagon, and this has been described as one of many “Groupon killer” competing services out there.

What’s almost shocking to me about it is that Amazon launched an online yellow pages directory some years ago with A9, back in 2005. The product was innovative (the first business directory to provide “Street View” pictures of businesses, perhaps), and those of us at Superpages watched the development with some apprehension. But, they did a very crappy job at SEO (more…)

Google Plus Snippets Launch In Google Maps

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

I happened to see Greg Sterling briefly at SMX East today, and he alerted me that Google announced that they’ve launched “+snippets” for Maps, allowing users to share Google Maps pages with their friends in Google+:

Google Plus Snippets in Google Maps

Could this be what the “big changes planned for Google Maps” rumor I earlier reported was referring-to? (more…)

Drop In Major IYP Traffic

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

According to Google Trends, it appears there may have been a significant drop in traffic from Google referrals to major Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs) sites:

Drop in Local Directories' Traffic?,,,, and all look like they’re dipping in sync.

Is it possible that IYPs have fallen under the treads of a Panda update?

It’s still perhaps early to tell, but it’s looking like they’re all experiencing something similar.

Rumored Google Maps Changes Could Involve Google+

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Google Plus + Google MapsOver the weekend, I received a credible rumor from one of the larger companies I work with. Purportedly, they were contacted by their Google Ads rep and urged to purchase more advertising now, inadvance of some “big changes” planned to happen on October 1.

It’s still early, and I haven’t been able to confirm this rumor as of yet, despite putting out feelers to a number of sources. However, it feels believable because Google Plus has promised rollout of business Plus pages at some point, and it would make very good sense in the case of local businesses to have their (more…)