SMX Live: Google Places

Mar 8, 2011 - 4:35 pm 3 by
Filed Under SMX West 2011

Live Blogging Coverage SMX Google PlacesBelow is live coverage of the Google Places panel from the SMX West 2011 conference. This coverage is provided by Brian Ussery aka beussery.

Disclaimer: The coverage is brought to you in real time, using a custom live blogging tool. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments for inclusion into the live coverage. During the live event, live notes will auto-scroll with newest entries at top. After the session is complete the archive version will have the oldest entries at the top. We ask you to please excuse any typos, as these are live notes.

Finished Auto-Refresh: Off
Brian Ussery: 1:46:31 pm
Up Close With Google Place Pages:
Google dramatically expanded its collection of information about the real world with its introduction of Place Pages—a webpage for every place in the world—for businesses, points of interest, transit stations, neighborhoods, landmarks and cities. If you haven’t yet claimed your place page you’re missing out on a fantastic opportunity for controlling your own destiny and gaining valuable search traffic on Google Maps.
Moderator:
Chris Silver Smith, Director of Optimization Strategies, KeyRelevance
Q&A Moderator: Benu Aggarwal, President, Milestone Internet Marketing

Speakers:
Brian Fitzgerald, Director, Search and Social, MICROS eCommerce Services | TIG Global
Carter Maslan, Director of Product Management, Google
Chris Silver Smith, Director of Optimization Strategies, KeyRelevance
Gregg Stewart, President, 15miles
Max Thomas, Founder / Captain Thunder, Thunder SEO
Brian Ussery: 1:49:29 pm
WELCOME, we'll be starting shortly! Just FYI, Barry has a new blog platform and I'm using Cr-48 and dev version of Chrome so please bear with any issues. :)
Brian Ussery: 1:51:36 pm
First a word from the sponsor: Universal Business Listing UBL...
Brian Ussery: 1:52:11 pm
searchmarketingexpo.com/ask to ask questions
Brian Ussery: 1:56:19 pm
Up frist is Gregg Stewart from 15miles

Gregg Starts off...

Consumers are growing more and more sophisticated when it comes to localized search. They not only shop online but use things like Google Places to locate stores. Gregg is showing a slide to illustrate how local has grown. Forward looking it is easy to see how important localized SERPs will be..
Brian Ussery: 1:58:26 pm
In October Google launched its new search results with Place search.

Affects on business
- Google Place pages in organic serps
- Local results precedence over "true organic"
- Greater opportunity to acquire qualified traffic
- Creates a one-stop-spot for consumers to find all the information
Brian Ussery: 1:59:17 pm
Gregg showing slides that demote true maps results as integrated into organic serps.
Brian Ussery: 2:02:30 pm
SEO efforts now need both website optimization and Place page optimization to work in conjunction for effective results.

Again, Google places more precedence on local listings accompanying Place Page results while the description is still pulled from the site.

Factors affecting rankings
- claimed listings
- accurate place page profile
- Place page optimization
- Third part reviews
(61% of local searchers consider ratings and reviews, 92% of travel site shoppers uses reviews but only 6% leave reviews)
Brian Ussery: 2:03:25 pm
Be sure info is correct at sites like Localeze, Acxiom, UBL, ExpressUpdate...
Brian Ussery: 2:04:22 pm
REVIEWS are important according to 6 out of 10 searchers.
Brian Ussery: 2:06:00 pm
google-latlong.blogspot.com/2010/12/how-local-search-ranking-works.html
Brian Ussery: 2:08:21 pm
How Google ranks Places pages
- Relevance
- Distance
- Prominence

(Prominence is a big question because Google goes into little depth about how this data is collected.)

Developing prominence
- Links /PageRank
- beyond link building
- Citations
- mentions of business name & address
- other mentions
Brian Ussery: 2:10:48 pm
PlaceRank is like PageRank for Places it tries to use prominence signals. Buzz, Wikipedia and other things can aid in assessing relative popularity for Google Places pages.

Others include, photo video sharing sites with Geolocation. Encoruage consumers to geo tag via youtube, picassa and so on...
Brian Ussery: 2:12:49 pm
This type of data can assist in developing popular areas in terms of geo...

Promote area, city and other regions.

Brian Ussery: 2:13:59 pm
Another source for this kind of data is Google Book search, for example mentions of address in books.

Social media mentions and Twitter feed mentions while "on target" geo
Scott Clark: 2:14:18 pm
Place pages need ability to add multiple administrators like Goog Analytics. Right now, fixing Place Page owner issues is rolling the dice - may lose reviews, etc.
Brian Ussery: 2:14:50 pm
Good point Scott Clark, I've seen this issue first hand.
Brian Ussery: 2:15:31 pm
mentions or citations in audio, video and or other could be future signals.
Brian Ussery: 2:16:28 pm
Max is up next from ThunderSEO is presenting a drill down case study to look for ranking patterns in Google Places
Brian Ussery: 2:17:28 pm
Process
- look at details and where they came from
- citations (name phone)
- seo metrics ( links)
Brian Ussery: 2:18:35 pm
Google Place Pages information reveals little because not all info is available.

- detials from owner
-
Brian Ussery: 2:19:09 pm
No real pattern from this example so far.
Brian Ussery: 2:19:38 pm
Reviews in this case study didn't make a huge impact either.
Brian Ussery: 2:21:11 pm
- Whitespark Local Citation Finder Tool
- SEOMoz.org OpenSiteExplorer
- Page Authority
Brian Ussery: 2:21:50 pm
Exact match anchor text seems to be a strong predictor but is still problematic...
Scott Clark: 2:22:22 pm
Google's pushing reviews with Place pages in it's "kiosks" in PDX, yet conventional wisdom says multiple reviews shouldn't come from same IP. Merchant ratings kiosks allowed now? (ps: great job Brian - wish I could be there.)
Brian Ussery: 2:23:20 pm
Does anchor text outweigh other things, what are we missing?

- top 25 inbound links from pages about local area all but one case.
Brian Ussery: 2:24:57 pm
Findings:
- Inbound links from pages about subject and location
- Relevant authority inbound links
- Owner verified

This study shows SEO impacts rankings in Google Places.
Brian Ussery: 2:25:35 pm
UP NEXT, BRIAN from TIG (Global) a micros ecommerce services
Brian Ussery: 2:27:25 pm
Hotels and Restaurants rely more heavily on local search.

- opportunities to click Google Places Pages
- opportunities to click third party sites

Study:
250 small sites 90% hotel 10% restaurants. compared last months to same months last year.
Brian Ussery: 2:29:25 pm
Before Google Places, 50% of traffic from Google (natural + paid)

Since then there has not been a significant change .06.

Restaurants saw above average increase

International saw a decrease
Brian Ussery: 2:29:45 pm
(Google Places isn't yet international)
Brian Ussery: 2:31:01 pm
Doubletree Florida
Residence Inn Maryland
Crwowne Plaza Texas
Wyndham Florida
Hilton Maryland
Wyndham Georgia
Hilton Florida
these are some of the changes observed.
Brian Ussery: 2:31:40 pm
Holiday Inn South Carolina saw the largest decline but redesigned prior...
Brian Ussery: 2:32:48 pm
Conclusions:
it depends! :)

- how were you doing before Place search
- how relient are you on Google away from Places
Brian Ussery: 2:33:26 pm
Google has introduced rates in SERPs for these industries...
Brian Ussery: 2:34:52 pm
Rates and rate checking showing on Place pages as well. Inventory control issues come to light as not all rates come from site but rather booking engine. As a result supplier is coming out on the bad end of the stick, so to speak.
Brian Ussery: 2:39:48 pm
Carter from Google, Places results are 11 queries in one. [Austin bbq] for example.
Brian Ussery: 2:44:23 pm
Billions of documents and millions of business isn't always easy and presents challenges...

TIPS:
- markup rich snippet
- review content, authorship builds trust
- mobile matters (having a site that clicks through well is good don't let app get in the way of Google seeing site)
Brian Ussery: 2:45:27 pm
It seems there is a Wifi issue, so technical time out..
Brian Ussery: 2:47:02 pm
1st question:
Places page keeps getting pulled down, why

Carter:
If listing is good in terms of quality, reconsideration is available. It depends on the cause but that is the first step....
Brian Ussery: 2:48:23 pm
2nd question

Is it a good idea to build links to Places pages?

Max:
Sure

Carter:
We think of Places as search results so we think it would be a strange signal...
Brian Ussery: 2:50:11 pm
3rd question:

Is bulk feed better than user verified?

Carter:
It used to be but that seems to be changing but if you pin verify it is more valid but even with that trying to make more flexibility. Trying to ease with changes coming..


4th:
Brian Ussery: 2:51:25 pm
4th question:

Why does meta description show in some cases but not others?

Carter:
We try to have a snippet from the entity represented so in some cases meta description is used but not in others.
Brian Ussery: 2:54:01 pm
Carter:
I know matt cutts has mentions but [star bucks] here is different from [furniture in ny]....

Carter:
If you don't have a physical location, don't create places page.
Brian Ussery: 2:54:58 pm
What if you have on location but multiple languages?

Carter:
Before he can answer he needs to confirm with team....
Brian Ussery: 2:56:45 pm
How about call tracking with Google Places? Should we incorporate call tracking with Google Places?

Carter:
Phone numbers are a signal so use caution when doing things like this... Consistancy of phone number or canonical number is important.

Brian Ussery: 2:57:17 pm
Max mentions Place page showing after site (client) ads number to meta description.
Brian Ussery: 2:58:12 pm
Question: If you have two listings and need to get rid of one what do you do?

Carter:
If bad data, click edit report problem is best way to get merged.
Brian Ussery: 2:58:41 pm
Quesiton: How often does Google update reviews?

Carter:
They differ
Brian Ussery: 2:59:51 pm
Question:
What about hijacking?

Carter:
We think we have closed ways to hijack (without pin) so, if you find one let him know.
Brian Ussery: 3:02:36 pm
Question: What is Google doing to prevent irrelevant cross over?

Carter:
We look for different references and citations that get algo clustering. Anti-clustering observations like spa being different from hotel. We try to make clustering algo differently.


FINAL QUESTION:
Follow up to earlier question, do name searches (title) have different algo than cat?

Carter:
We have been working on ways to weight realitive to both by case or geo?
 

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