Google Local Brings Back the Five-Star Rating SystemMay 22, 2013
Last year, there were a lot of mixed emotions when Google got rid of its five-star rating review system. The 30-point Zagat rating that replaced it got a grumpy reception from some SMBs and local marketing consultants.
You see, the 5-star rating used to really help a G+ Local page stand out in local search results. It’s been about a year since the stars faced extinction. But in a Jurassic Park-like move, Google has just announced that the 5-star review system has been brought back to life!
Here’s the official statement:
Users who opt in to the new Google Maps will rate businesses on a scale that ranges from one to five stars. The system maintains the precision of the former 30-point scale while improving the readability and accessibility of the business listings.
As a business owner, you’ll notice that past ratings have been translated to the five-star system. Previously, users rated businesses from “Poor-Fair” to “Excellent” on several dimensions; these ratings were converted to numerical scores and expressed on a 30-point scale.
Your business’s overall rating is calculated from both old and new customer reviews as a 1.0 to 5.0 star rating. Old dimension ratings like “service” and “decor” will contribute to the overall rating. The new algorithm takes into account statistical uncertainty in the straight average of user scores to make the scores more reliable for places with only a few ratings.
Zagat reviews are still available throughout Google, and you’ll continue to see Zagat throughout Google products with editorial reviews and curated lists awarded to notable places.
The changes will appear to some users today [May 22] and will continue to roll out on Google Maps for Mobile, Google search results and Google+ Local in upcoming months.”
Here is what the search results look like right now vs. what they will look like once they receive their 5-star makeover!
Clearly the stars’ return will impact conversion hugely and will help a business stand out from its competitors. As Google mentioned, the stars will start to go live over the next few months. Make sure you have a great plan in place to help guide customers to your G+ Local page to leave you a review.
Ready To Test Your Google Places/G+ Local Knowledge?April 30, 2013
Phil Rozek from Local Visibility System was generous enough to let me do a guest post on his highly regarded blog back in February. My guest post was actually inspired by a post that Phil called How Well Do You Know the Google Places Quality Guidelines?
I had so much fun with my guest post and with the idea of using a quiz format to learn about Google Places that I created another quiz to share over here at the Imprezzio Marketing Blog.
Dive right in and take the quiz. It’s pretty complicated stuff, but once you understand the concepts, whether you are a local marketing consultant or a local business owner, you will find yourself way ahead of the competition.
The passing grade is 70%
True or False
NAP Data: It’s Messy Out ThereApril 9, 2013
According to Google, there are over 200 ranking factors that determine where your business shows up in local search results. Some factors are derived from the content of your website (On-Site Factors), some are derived from your G+ Local page (Place Page Factors), and the rest of the factors apply to citations, backlinks, etc. (Off-Site Factors). With all things being equal, one ranking factor in particular can either be the kiss of death for your business, or springboard it to long-term online success: Quantity and Consistency of NAP data. For those of you who don’t know, NAP simply refers to a business’s Name, Address, and Phone Number across the web.
According to the Local Search Ranking Factors, the quantity of your structured citations (listings on Insider Pages, Yellow Pages, etc.) and the consistency of NAP data on these structured citations are both in the top 11 local ranking factors. A recent study conducted by Andrew Shotland and Greg Sterling determined that the “state of business location data on the Web is pretty messy.” They looked at 40,000 business listings in the United States. One industry stands out from the rest as the worst offender when it comes to missing or inconsistent NAP data: The insurance industry.
Here are a few of the findings:
It’s pretty obvious that the insurance industry takes the prize for having the most mangled NAP data as far as local businesses are concerned. This makes a lot of sense considering that agents are often moving to or purchasing new locations, taking over other business’s books or retiring. Add call tracking numbers into the mix and you have a recipe for a Titanic-sized sinking in the local results.
There is hope, however. Incorrect NAP data can be cleaned up. It takes a lot of time and effort, but it is possible. There are two main factors to remember when tackling NAP cleanup:
- It’s a manual process. There is no magic automated solution.
- It’s almost impossible to clean up every single incorrect listing out there.
NAP clean-up is very labour-intensive. There is currently no automated program that can go out and fix all the incorrect or missing data listed for your business. To be done correctly, it requires the work of a real live human being. This process involves tactics including, but not limited to: tracking down login credentials, contacting business directories through their “Contact Us” forms, contacting business directories by phone, and submitting community-type edits.
NAP clean-up is a daunting task. Depending on the number of incorrect listings plus many other factors, it can take several months to get the majority of listings for a business cleaned up. And, it’s nearly impossible to update every single incorrect listing: One of the biggest challenges is that business directories feed NAP data to other business directories. So even if you clean up all the incorrect listings except for a couple that feed to other directories…you can guess what happens next.
At the end of the day, all we can do is ride into the NAP battlefield at full charge, make sure that the major listings (Yellow Pages, City Search) and the data providers (Localeze, Acxiom, InfoUSA) are cleaned up first, and develop a system to continually monitor the results.
Yahoo! Local Shows Signs of LifeMarch 4, 2013
It appears as though there is a new reason to get a top local ranking in Yahoo! Danielle Cameron, our Director of Sales at Imprezzio Marketing, made a great discovery while doing a Yahoo! search this morning for Auto Insurance in Anchorage, AK.
What she discovered was a feature that highlights a local business listing right under the search bar. Check out the listing for Todd Jackson State Farm Insurance, and how it’s singled out and displayed right at the top of the page. Cool stuff dude!
After performing several searches, it’s evident that the highlighted business isn’t necessarily the business ranked #1. It’s not entirely clear at this point what the determining factors are, so more research will have to be done to try and figure out the method to the madness (one possible factor is revealed at the end of this article…wink wink). Either way this is an exciting new feature that comes as a surprise in the wake of Yahoo’s statement last October in regards to Local:
“I really do love [local], but it requires a deep investment, a lot of energy and time to build terrific listings. We already have some products in this area. They’re good at the moment, but it’s hard to take that next step. We don’t expect to make changes in the short term. It’s not an area where we’re going to make significant investments right now.”
While Google continues to invest more resources into its G+ Local platform with new support features, and a slow but steady move towards a fully integrated G+ Local/Social experience, it now appears that Yahoo! continues to shuffle forward, despite the above comment which had us believing otherwise. In fact, in the last year, Yahoo! has also updated their local marketing dashboard, and integrated an owner verification system for new listings, not unlike Google’s.
At the end of the day, one question still remains on everyone’s mind: What do I need to do to rank well and stand out from the competition in Yahoo! Local? Unlike Google, ranking factors for Yahoo! Local are still a huge mystery, with virtually no studies conducted on the subject. With that said, from our observations, it’s all about reviews, reviews, and more reviews!