Archive for the ‘Google’ Category

“Downtown” Searches In Google Maps

Monday, August 30th, 2010

For a couple of years now, Google Maps has decreased the influence of proximity upon rankings. However, what if your search query includes the keyword, “downtown”?

Downtowns and rankings in Google Maps

If the query includes “downtown”, such as in the phrase ”downtown coffee shops seattle”, or “downtown hotels, nashville, tn”, then proximity appears to be given a whole lot more importance. (more…)

Google Places Updates Policy For Reviews

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Google announced last week that they updated their guidelines and policies for writing reviews on organizations found in Google Maps / Places.

Consumer Reviews & Ratings Stars

Google’s reviews update may not be all that significant beyond needing to add mention of their newly-introduced protocol allowing business owners to respond to reviews. They probably took the opportunity to clarify the text while they were at it.

However, there are reasons to suspect that there could have been additional motives behind Google’s alteration of the guidelines. (more…)

Google Maps & Intersections

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

I’m not sure how many people might use this feature in Google Maps, but I suspect that relatively few people are aware that it exists. Google Maps allows one to submit more than just street addresses and city names in order to map location — they also allow you to submit intersections of cross-streets:

Google Maps & Crossroads - Main Street and Elm Street in Springfield, Massachussetts

To get a map of an intersection of two streets, you merely need to submit the request in this format: “[Street Name A] & [Street Name B], City]. In the above example, I use “main st and elm st, springfield, ma”.

Developers are probably even less aware that this feature is available in Google Maps API (more…)

Is it “Game Over” for Internet Yellow Pages SEO?

Monday, July 19th, 2010

In my article on Search Engine Land today, I outline how the recent local SERP testing being conducted by Google has the potential to not only reduce organic traffic to Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs) and online directories, but could also freeze out many well-marketed small-to-medium businesses.

So, is it “game over” for IYPs? Should they throw in the towel and move their promotional dollars to other, greener pastures?

IYP SEO - Game Over?

My answer to that is a confident “no!”, and not merely because I do SEO consulting. (more…)

Have Google Logos Jumped The Shark? Father’s Day Logo Illegible

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Google’s special logos (“Doodles“) commemorating holidays and historical events have been successful at conveying a playful nature for the ever-growing corporation. As time has gone by, the special logo treatments have begun veering off from playful quirkiness and have perhaps actually crossed the line of legibility. The Father’s Day Google logo deployed today is perhaps the worst example of all:

Google Father's Day Logo

The neckties, intended to whimsically reference the letters spelling out “Google”, have become so abstracted that I think their resemblance to the letters in the name have utterly disappeared.

Graphic artists can certainly recognize and appreciate the rough symbolic shaping, but this sort of symbolic reference is really too vague for most of the public.

I’ve enjoyed watching Google play with their logo for years while dancing all over traditional corporate intellectual property law for how trademarks should be treated. I’ve long felt that Google was thumbing their nose at frustratingly conservative IP lawyers who anally force major corporate employees to follow logo use style guides mindlessly. After all, the name itself can be a trademark, regardless of graphic treatment, and trademark law certainly is flexible enough to allow some degree of logo variations. Google’s logo treatments have shown that temporary logo variations and nonstandard logo treatments can be effected without incurring risk of “losing control of the mark”.

The problem I see with today’s Father’s Day logo is that the humorous treatment has become way too subtle for its own good — the logo is illegible, and devoid of the website most reasonable individuals would be unable to see the company’s name in the treatment.

Have Google logos finally jumped the shark with this treatment? Has the joke worn thin?

The challenge for the Google logo artists has been continuing the thematic treatments without becoming a cliche. Recently, Google has experimented with enabling individuals to display custom background images on the homepage, and their “doodle” advertising the capability was so roundly criticized that they removed the feature. The background image treatment was so derivative of Bing’s changing homepage background images (which aped Ask.com’s earlier treatment) that many thought Google was trying to immitate the feature.

I think the takeway from this is that Google should stick with what is working for them and avoid straying too far from successful formulas. Today’s doodle logo lost the “Googleness” that made the concept so charming to begin with.

I expect they’ll continue displaying special logos, but they need to make them resemble the standard logo more closely or else the charm will be lost permanently.

Thoughts On Local Search Ranking Factors

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

David Mihm’s once again posted his fantastic yearly survey of local search ranking factors for 2010, scored by surveying a lot of us who do online local marketing professionally. What’s particularly cool about the survey is that he also posts a calculation indicating how much we’re in agreement along with how positive/negative we consider any given factor.

The Local Search Ranking Factors

It may be mildly confusing for newbies who want to know what they should do in order to improve local business listing rankings within Google, and I’d say that small differences the weighting of the various scores are nearly immaterial. (more…)

Local SEO 101: Increase the Odds of a Plus-Box Map

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

You’ve likely seen Plus-Boxes in Google search results. They are little boxes which sometimes appear below a search result listing, and when clicked they expand the listing, allowing more info to be displayed, such as a small map or a stock chart.

Google Plus-Box Treatment, Coit Tower, San Francisco

For many webmasters, the question of whether a Map Plus-Box appears for a page about a location, such as for local businesses, appears to be decided very arbitrarily. Some pages with local addresses on them have the Plus-Box treatment occur, while others do not.

There are a few ways to increase the chances that Google will be able to successfully interpret the location information appearing on a webpage, so that they can pinpoint it on a map. (more…)

Google Indexes More Place Pages… Again

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

If you recall when Google Maps launched Place Pages last Fall, they had first represented that the pages would not be indexed to appear in Google organic search engine result pages (“SERPs”). Then, due to some “errors”, the pages actually did appear in organic results.

Now, in the last few days, I’m noticing more and more of the one-box listings appearing in organic SERPs. (more…)