Posts Tagged ‘google maps’

Google Sponsored Tag

Houston TX was first to recieve the tags.

So I have been involved with Google tags for a little while now, since the beginning. Today Google announced that the sponsored tags for businesses would be no more.

“We’ve made a decision to shift our efforts toward other present and future product offerings for local businesses, and will be discontinuing this trial.”

Honestly I hate to see these tags go.

Google tags may not have driven hordes of traffic, but that wouldn’t be any surprise as they were so localized. The truth of the matter is that they worked well for many small businesses. The sponsored tags did eat up some of the clicks a business may have received otherwise, but they added a few more that a business wouldn’t have gotten. This is one product that I openly endorsed for Google. This was a good product for most small businesses. Granted, I may have moaned a bit when they took away the view website option, but perhaps that’s because they replaced with … “View More Google Place Pages” options. Which means more views for Google Adsense. Sadly, this move to remove Google Tags sings the same song of “What’s Best for Google?”

Pushing the Google Boost Ads

My full review for Google Boost Ads. The Pros & the Pests to Automated Local Advertising

Google Boost has a lot to offer. And Google Boost has a lot lacking. From my perspective, what it lacks most is similar to what Google’s sponsored tags lacked, CUSTOMER CARE. Or better yet, what Guy Kawasaki stated, “IF you want your customers to trust you then you need to trust your customers.” There is a serious problem when a paying customer following Google’s guidelines gets a “Place no longer exists.” branded below a business name, simply because their trusted anonymous user says it to be so. And there are a myriad of other issues that Google’s local search team is also suffering much of it seems to stem from a trust factor and or customer care perspective. But…. Google’s local search is still the best out there! Heck, Bing isn’t even taking reviews right now. Plus Bing’s maps are horrible for embedding.

So here is my biggest complaint, Google wants to get rid of an nice entry level platform for Local businesses, the Sponsored tags. In it’s place they want to push, Google Boost. The reason this doesn’t look good is because the customer care part still doesn’t exist. But it looks even worse because the song I am hearing from Google is, “What’s going to make Google the most money? That would be Google Boost… So we have decided that Boost is what’s best for our customers.” “We know what’s best for you?” “Just Trust us?” That’s a pretty big step for business owners to take. Trust is most often built with time and history. One step at a time. Anybody that would marry after a first date is considered “NUTS”. Building a business relationship is the same way.

Will Google Boost work? Is it good for local businesses?

I would like Google boost to work for local businesses. But, it’s a completely automated system. As much as I trust the auto pilot on an airplane, I still need to be reassured that their is a real pilot to correct it’s mistakes. Do the math.

But I am just your local pest control guy, so don’t mind me.

Google map icons

Posted: June 22, 2010 by Thos003 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

How the icons are placed and chosen?

When you work on Google maps a lot you start to notice very random details.  Like the restaurant icons and the Hotel icons…

So I am asking if anyone knows how these icons are selected.
Matt Cutt’s only advice was make sure your listing is claimed in Google places, other then that he didn’t have any suggestions.  He said he would find out. Hopefully he gets back to me.

Yes it would be cool to get a pest control icon… but probably not likely.  =)

Per a neighboring jeweler, local businesses are now being approach by google to take interior photos. They will be 360 degree, virtual tour type images added to Google maps. She said that Google came in, set up their camera, and begun snapping photos as the camera pivoted on its stand. Google will then take the images back and patch them together. Not too dissimilar to what Google Maps does currently with their images taken from on top of their cars to create their street views.

Interior Images are a Smart Move for Google

Not only is Google staying ahead of the competition with this new addition to their maps, but in the same swoop they are verifying that stores and locations on Google maps are legit. This is a great step toward reducing current falsified locations within the maps. Further, Google is engaging their customers. This additional interaction with customers will aid the ever so elusive Google in become more trusted. Google is moving forward and putting more feet on the ground. They are making their maps more relevant and their directory more enhanced. And in classic Google fashion, these images are being done at Google’s expense and offered to the business owners for free. Who is going to refuse free advertising and free Google maps enhancements?

A Reason Owners May Refuse

There are a few reasons that owners may want to refuse Google’s hospitality. The most predominant would be the security of their shops. Thieves would love the opportunity to peek inside the vault without ever entering the premise. If a thief were to stage a heist they would most like scout the area prior to performing the robbery. If a local shop lays out their floor plan online their properties would be more tempting targets as potential thieves would have no risk of being seen on camera prior to a heist.

Risk Takers

As with any move a business makes there is potential risk and the ever looming opportunity cost. In weighing the benefits vs the risks it would be hard to refuse Google’s offer. Any enhancement that provides a competitive business more opportunity to strut their stuff allowing consumers to compare the competition would be welcomed by the confident business owner. And thus the confidence of the business would be conveyed to the potential buyers hopefully instilling a heightened sense of security and leading the consumer closer to a buy. And a good business would have nothing to hide, making non compliant businesses less trustworthy and/or simply less interesting.

Reporting live from the Phoenix Airport while surrounded by 5 little birds…. who’s doing Sky Harbor’s bird control? This is your local pest control guy.

Google is evolving and it’s Business center has morphed into GOOGLE PLACES. Perhaps Google Places is the appropriate term as Google is excluding business without a physical place.  As one blogger put it, “They are more concerned about the piece of dirt.” and so far that point is accurate as Google maps will only show businesses with a physical location within the city proper for competitive search terms.

Houston Pest ControlGoogle Sponsored Tag and Google Service Areas on the maps.

Google Sponsored Tag - Show Service Area - Found on google maps for Houston Exterminator

But Google is evolving.  I asked about reviews on Google and why they had been removed, my google guy’s response was that they will return, but he can’t really tell what’s going on until Google rolls out their next update.  Well back in December I say a preview of what the maps would like if they showed listings by service area.  That was the same month I saw the yellow coupon tags displayed in the maps. Those yellow tags spawned the sponsored listings.  Pure speculation but that rep may have just leaked that Google is finally going to show local business listings by service area. It would make sense as that the reviews would disappear to be verified, quantified, weighed, and IP locations pin pointed, if they are to roll out Service Areas. As of right now the Service Area info entered into Google Places  is only a crummy link at the bottom of the Google business bubble… “Show Service Area”

Google Sponsor Tags

Today those yellow tags come with a price.  Sponsored tags.  Google sponsored tags cost $25 a month, for the test phase at least.  At $25 last month I got 34 actions, and 19 clicks to my website.  Perhaps just from curious onlookers, but perhaps those were clicks that would normally cost me $2.  If that’s the case then the sponsored tag worked.  But if they end up like the phone books and want to charge me more and more and more, and the market becomes more and more saturated, and if they can’t show more detailed numbers, then it will be hard to keep spending that money.  Especially when it is unclear if the Impressions are just from Google Search and Google Maps, or if the impressions are from all pages on the internet that show that map, like my contact page. The strength of the internet is the honest openness to numbers.  And numbers are the ultimate law.

Actions to Impressions (ATI)

So far the numbers Google provides are impressions and actions.  Actions to Impressions (ATI) would be similiar to Click Through Rate (CTR) except a click to the website is only one of the calculations.  ATI is a good feeler as to what is happening but I am under the impression that a lot more people are just picking up the phone and dialing, especially when that phone call is only a click on your IPhone. (Mobile calls would be a great addition to that action list). I would love to put a call tracking number into my LBL but due to the complexities Google has of compiling a ton of location data that is seemly incongruent, the telephone number of your listing has become a key, if not the key, identifier as to who you are on the local web, and who is referencing you. In Google maps each and every instance of your name associated with an address, and phone number is being weighed with or without a link and without your website.  We will call these Instances so as not to be confused with citations or references, both of which have HTML codes.  Instances on the other hand are not meta tag mark ups with an open and close tag, they are simply each and every time your business name is associated with a physical location.  This would include tweets with locations, GEO tagged photos with your business name, the restaurant down the street that references your party on their blog containing their address at the bottom of each page, or even better yet, a review on a competitor’s map listing mentioning how much better or worse you are.  That one review will link, loosely, but none the less, link you to your competitor’s address.

***Update. As of April 15th, 2011 Google Announced it would be removing Google Tags.*****

Many local exterminators will miss it.

Let the Local Service Area Tournament Begin!

New to your LBL as of TODAY: Service Areas and Location Settings!

Google LBL Service Area

My Fist Reaction:


Every chance I had to communicate with someone from google maps I squeaked the wheel of, “so when are you going to offer service areas?”  Annoying? Yes. But necessary.  ….So Thanks for listening.

So what does this really mean?

Hopefully this will mean that we are not competing for map positions in all of our service areas.  Whether that is the case or not is a different story.  I believe that they came up the most accurate reason to provide a result by a service area.  “Do customers come to you or do you go to the customer?”

Restaurants, shopping centers, UPS stores, all have customers that go to them.  Pest control companies, plumbers, pool guys, all go the their customers.  That is the perfect qualifier or whether or not you should be in a service area class or a location class.  Minus the fact that some restaurants will offer both delivery and sit down.  But do you want to be a delivery company or a dine in.  Your call.  For my business this new classification is wonderful. Bravo, google.

So how is this going to work?  How are they going to determine who is best fit in the service area?  I would assume that traffic to the businesses website will play a factor.  Searches on that business by IP address will play a factor.  And yes, I imagine that your location will still play a factor.  Especially when all else is equal.

The good news for Google is that all of the SEO experts out there will stop telling companies to spam the maps with fake addresses to be considered local.  The bad news for local smaller companies will be that they are once again put on a platform where they are competing in a division A game, not in a location driven division C game.  The good news for the users is that hopefully the users will get more qualified choices instead of Pop Shop’s ABC.  And as Google sees it, the happier the users are with their experience the better off Google will be.

Plus this puts Google in a whole new realm of Local Business.  Yahoo doesn’t offer this and their maps are littered with bad information even after offering a “featured/paid listing”.  Bing doesn’t offer this.  Google is King of the internet local world. I can’t wait to see when Google offers their own mobile-map-app that allows rating and check-in.  I have no doubt that they will be buying one soon or creating one of their own soon enough.

Why are they different?

If the language is the same, and the text link is the same then why are the QR-Codes Different?

I am convinced that QR-Codes are passing on more information than you realize.

While some may say that it is simply a generator difference, I am not convinced.  Each QR-Code is readable by quickmark, and apparently contains the exact same URL.  But when generating a new QR-Code from existing QR- codes the offspring is unique.  So the only conclusion we do have is that the generators are marking the code by who generated it, and subsequently the quickmark generator is passing on something from the first generator. …So far the time stamp theory has proven negative.

QR Code Generators Tested

QucikMark – iphone

Images of QR-Codes and the subsequent matings of QR-Code Generators.

We will call this one big papa as this spurred the research…

Bulwark is a Favorite Place Decal with Google Maps QR-Code

The text link generated by this QR-Code is : according to QuickMark (Big mama).  Quickmark then provides an option to re-create this QR-Code….

Recreated Googel QR-Code with Quickmark

Yes… they are different… but they carry the same url.  So Big Daddy and Big Momma are produced a new baby.

Here is Big Mama’s DNA of the same text/link as generated by big quickmark on direct input:

Typed in QR-Code

Typed into QuickMark QR-Code


So lets test the text link with an online generator… Number one in the SERP for QR-Code Generator was..

QR-Code generatede by Quick Mark of Google's QR-Code

QR-Code generated by of Google's QR-Code


No surprise at this point but this is….. Different.

And now if you scan (sample #1) with #QuickMark and hit the create button…

The Ugly baby of Big Momma and

Big Momma and's baby

Different… yet the same text/link…?

Next Generator on the search engine

SEO's desktop shot of QR-Code

QR Code Sample 3

And offspring between QuickMark and Zxing: QR-Code Generator and QuickMark Generator

New baby of Quick Mark and Zxing

Time stamp???? No.  Here is recreation 2 of big daddy and big momma 30 minutes apart.

Time Stamp

Twin delivered 30 minutes later.


While the intended information is the same, link/text, the QR-Codes are clearly different based on how they are generated.  It seems to me that they must be passing on additional information.  To what end or what information I cannot say.  I am not going to accuse quickmark as being the mother of all whores or Google as being the anti-christ.  Although it is amusing that if this were true.. quick “Mark” could easily be the “Mark of the Beast” if google, which is a number, is indeed the “Beast”.  How many zeros in a google???  Was that 666??? Just kidding!

Feed the beast!

Can someone give me a viable explanation as to why these QR-Codes are different?  What information is being passed on?

Post to your Place in Google Maps!

Posted: January 14, 2010 by Thos003 in Marketing, SEO
Tags: ,

New to Google local business center…

Feed the Local Maps

So google wants to be updated? Whatever for…???

This new feature is going to force… umm… allow you to be more interactive with google and your customers.  Absolutely a great tool for local restaurants, clubs, and such.  Still a good tool for services, as you can run promotions and events here.  What google is asking for is interaction.  What they want is your time… and time is money.

Great tool to add to your onslaught of Google Maps.

On the down side…

Here is a glimpse of the the before and after Google maps recent service area changes.

Google Maps - Local Business Center

Google had results by service area... and then they didn't

So this is a shot of my trend… what happened?

Google changed their results to show service companies by the service area… My Phoenix pest control location, which is located in metro Phoenix but addressed in Peoria AZ, was granted the service area of Phoenix.  So if you searched Phoenix Pest Control, Bulwark showed up in the maps.  Yahoo!….. (no pun intended)…. And google then snatches it away almost as quickly has they had given it… #fail

So now they are back to only listing businesses addressed in the city searched… a search for Austin pest control shows only locations within the city of Austin…. urghh.  I mean I love it in Austin, as we rank #3 but I am not about to buy up property within every city limit to land in the maps.

The Awkward Google Map Dance Continues….

So you know when you are walking down a semi crowded corridor and you end up face to face with someone going the other direction, and then you do this little shuffle left to right to left… feeling awkward… and hoping the dance will end as you each establish which way you are going to take…. Here in lies the Awkward Google Maps Dance…

On using an employees address that works a route from his home… Matt Cutts… “Grey hat.  How can we let guys that work from home do it and not a legit business?”

Google stance on P.O. Boxes… “NO!”

On getting a mailing address in the city… the Fishkin… “Setting up a DBA and a mailing address is totally legit white hat. Its like getting .AU to do “local” business with the Aussies. I don’t see a problem with that.”

So the mixed messages…. Left… Right… Left… the Awkward Google Dance Continues.

Google maps or should I say SUPERMAP!

Posted: December 19, 2009 by Thos003 in Marketing, SEO
Tags: , , ,

It’s the supermap, not a wannabe superman…

It’s a road, it’s a house, it’s a business its… SUPERMAP! Yes all this and more can be found on google maps, and now they are moving into a top position as the “Directory of choice” or “the Only Directory”.  I am not sure if I should be chanting the SuperMap praise or not.  They are quickly becoming… well invincible.

What is Google’s Kryptonite?… oh, that would be all the errors they are still working to fix, like their local maps still not showing correct information after all of the database cleaning and merging.  And things like their Charlotte NC maps not listing their filtered “by user reviews” properly. But with so many greedy villains out there who can Google trust?  And if I were Superman then would I even care to trust anyone else?  I mean look at what happened between Clark and Lex?  Yep, the Supermap does come with some baggage.

But I think Supermap is a hero.  I mean… look at all the corruption it is killing off.  Old dinosaurs that still boast themselves as relevant phone directories just so they can steal money from the innocent and naive while creating huge amount of trash. How many landfills do those books fill up each year?  Go Supermaps Go!


Apparently the “reviews by a Google user” was a glitch in the system.  My guess it was caused while they were migrating or integrating their databases.  Other glitches on Dec. 7th, 2009 included the same results showing up twice…

Service Industry suffers Google Glitch

But they have seemed to fix that as well.

New to the scene as of Dec. 7th, 2009 are the live results…

Live Search for Trendy Topics

Live search only works for "trendy" topics... Does not work for pest control. =(

Yes… just go to google and seach Tiger Woods.  You can see it live right now.

But Google Local Map Results are still struggling with Glitches Galore!

So a few posts ago I noted google expanding its map results to cover service areas of companies that come to you… (i.e. pest control).  But this new roll out still has a long way to go.  Charlotte, for example is showing results for Rock Hill, SC.  And there are even more problems with google maps when trying to sort their listings in Charlotte by customer reviews.  Check out the glitch in google maps for pest control companies when you search Charlotte Pest Control and try filtering by 4 stars or better… Bulwark Exterminating a Charlotte Pest Control Company… 5 stars… not found.  And it’s not just pest control, it’s local Charlotte resturants as well.  4 stars and up…. gives you a 3 star restaurant Bricktop’s Restaurant but not a 4 star restuarant Jaipur Indian Restaurant

Hmmm…. Hopefully this will all be fixed with the New Year’s update.

See other google glitchs…

Thanks for everyone’s feedback!

Are you getting this? When I search the maps now I am getting a “Review by A google user” instead of the actual user name and a link to the users reviews… Check out the 3 reviewers in this image:

Reviews by A google User

This is a cropped screen shot of the reviews section of a local business listing in google.

What is google maps doing now? Are they trying to hide the reviews? Please help me understand!

I have always found it helpful to click on the users to see what other reviews they have and to make sure they are legit. I trust reviewers that have more than one review and that have both a mix of good reviews and bad reviews… from what I understand google is moving that direction as well.  I believe they are attempting to identify “Super Reviewers” or as they would put it “Trusted Reviewers”.  According to Matt Cutts google is all about determining who they can trust…. and for good reason. But what about your useres that want to see the math worked out… Why hide the reviews?