Monday, October 31, 2011

Google Maps To Charge - A Scary Halloween Story?

The BBC recently reported that as of January 1, 2012 Google will begin charging for the use of the Google Maps API service. The charge is intended to only apply to extensive use of the API, classified as more than 25k hits per day. It is expected that the charge will amount to $4 per 1,000 hits above the 25k threshold.

In the local search marketing world we become somewhat anxious whenever we hear about proposed changes to Google Maps. And certainly news that Google is going to charge for something related to Maps is somewhat disconcerting. However it is not time to panic or scream... yet.
As of right now this change will only affect third party sites that make extensive use of the Google Maps API, such as travel websites. Furthermore, it is estimated (albeit by Google) that this charge will only impact 0.35% of users.  Therefore, businesses who market via Google Places are in the clear for now.
So, maybe this is just a scary Halloween story that does not have a frightening gory pay-off.
Or, maybe this is just the beginning of that scary story where the monster killer starts out on the first step and then creeps onto the second step and then the third and so on until he is right outside your bedroom door. Everyone get ready to scream.
Happy Halloween.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Why Local Search Marketing? - (Infographic)

We here at RevLocal take local search marketing very seriously. We do not just market businesses to their local consumers. We help businesses grow.
This infographic depicts the process and ultimate purpose of effective local search marketing.

As a business expands their online presence so that they are listed in more and more local data sources with consistent data, their prominence increases. If the business engages consumers by posting pictures, responding to reviews, and sharing offers, Google begins to see them as a local business that matters. So, they will show up higher in the local search results. This means increased visibility with consumers looking for the services or products that this business offers. When local search marketing is done right, more of these consumers become customers. More customers leads to business growth. Business growth leads to  new opportunities and the creation of new jobs.
This is the deep purpose and motivating force behind why we do what we do. At the end of the day, for us it is not about clicks or impressions. It is not about fancy graphs or being an SEO expert. It is all about helping a business to grow and find success where they may not have found it before.
In this economy, it is a powerful thought for us that someone who does not have a job today maybe working tomorrow because of local search marketing and RevLocal.
This keeps us awake at night and pushing through the day- We are the economic recovery plan.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Google Announces Faster (3rd Party) updates to local business listings.

Google Announces Faster updates to local business listings
With the announcement of faster and more automatic updates to business place pages, Google has caused a turmoil in the local search world.
The issue here is not the speed or the automation, but really the source of the information that will be used to make these updates. Google intends to make changes to place pages (after notifying the business owner by email) if they receive data from third party sites or end users that seems to be more recent.
In an effort to assuage its business users Google touts this as a measure they are taking on behalf of busy business owners who do not have time to keep their place pages up to date. This sounds a little bit too much like positive spin.
More than likely this move is an effort to respond to the aged data Google has for unclaimed and under maintained business listings. As more and more users utilize local search and more competitors enter the field (ex. MQVibe) the recentness, relevance and accuracy of Google's search results becomes increasingly important to their ability to maintain market share.
This is where it becomes tricky. In it's attempt improve the quality of its search results to please end users, Google is risking irritating its business users who pay to advertise. Perhaps this makes sense in the equation of how search marketing works. After all, without consumer traffic, what does Google have to incentivize businesses to spend the time claiming and managing theirs listings or to spend money for paid ads?
It is also possible that this move is being undertaken to combat the rise of fraudulent (spammish) listings which are being created by less than reputable local search marketers. These listings often contain tracking phone numbers or are for "virtual" offices of out of state businesses with no actual local presence. Such listings and practices are an anathema to Google, whose ultimate goal is to "create a digital representation of the real world."
Ultimately it comes down to a matter of control. Businesses want to control how they are represented online and Google wants to control the quality and integrity of the data it presents to searchers. One would hope that there is some middle ground solution that can be struck between the two. A solution that limits the effectiveness of "black hat" techniques without punishing legitimate local search marketing efforts.
Despite all the frustration it may cause, perhaps this change is it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Local Search Marketing News - The Daily Round Up

The latest edition of Local Search Marketing News is out.
You can read it here.
This is a daily online news "paper" compiled from local search experts around the web.
It really is a collection of the finest and most recent articles related to local search marketing.

If you have any suggestions on other resources that need to be added, please let me know.