Digital Marketing News: Google Raising Stakes on Maps

Every week we’re collecting a host of links, videos, and assorted analysis on the ever-changing world of digital marketing. We invite you to skim, share, analyze, argue, and refute – just so long as you don’t get embarrassed at the water cooler again. Here are the latest digital marketing news and trends for the week of April 12, 2019.

Google to Raise Stakes on Maps

At a recent conference appearance, Google Business Chief Philipp Schindler said Google is increasing efforts to monetize the Maps app. The popular app has mostly been ad-free, but sponsored locations and paid listings are now featured regularly. Schindler calls Maps a “really, really interesting playground going forward” – a hint at Google’s enthusiasm for a profitable new ad environment.

Schindler breaks down four areas of focus for further monetizing Google Maps:

  • Utility: Basic directions from one location to the next
  • Nearby Requests: Businesses, products, and services in the vicinity of the user
  • Personalized Recommendations: Customized suggestions based on user history and personal information
  • Neighborhood Business Listing: Search-guided business directory based on neighborhood

The expectation is that more data means more users and increased time in the app, allowing for more ads. Google has been hesitant to push ads in the past for fear of “overloading the experience”, but it sees an environment that can be mutually beneficial for users and business owners. That optimism means you’re likely to see more aggressive ad placement in Google Maps. Google’s ability to maintain the app’s practical use while introducing a quality user experience could make Maps the next cash cow for the search giant.

4% of Businesses are Voice Search Ready

A Uberall analysis of 73,000 business locations concluded that just 4 percent of SMBs, mid-market, and enterprise businesses with offline locations are voice-search ready. Uberall assessed voice-search readiness by comparing the accuracy and completeness of business profiles on the “37 directories that directly feed voice search platforms.” These categories were deemed most important:

  • Address
  • Hours
  • Phone number
  • Business name
  • Website
  • Zip code

For local SEO and listings management experts, these are a familiar bunch, as they are basic building blocks of local SEO optimization. But as Greg Sterling points out, this might be an oversimplified method of assessing voice-search readiness. Voice searches often are in question form or very specific in nature. Optimizing local SEO elements wouldn’t necessarily indicate a superior level of voice-search readiness.

The analysis goes on to show that dentists, health food stores, and home improvement retailers were the most prepared for voice search, while consumer protection organizations, congressional representatives, and business attorneys were the least prepared. Enterprises (at least 10 locations) were the most likely to be voice-search ready while SMBs (single location) were least likely to be ready. A reminder that only 4 percent of all businesses assessed were voice-search ready.

Pehaps the biggest takeaway from this analysis? Most businesses are failing to meet the most basic standards for local SEO and listings management. These are important factors in voice search performance, sure, but tackling such basic practices should take priority over more complex strategies for voice-search readiness.

Amazon’s Fake Reviews Go Unnoticed 

Amazon has a fake review problem, but the public hasn’t seemed to notice. According to a recent survey from CPC Strategy, 75 percent of respondents said they “fully” or “somewhat” trusted reviews on Amazon when making a purchase. Only 4 percent said they don’t trust Amazon reviews at all.

The same survey revealed that the most common purchases were electronics and computers – the same categories that have the most fake reviews. Amazon has sparingly attacked the problem, and there are no formal regulations against the practice. For now, consumers will have to be more aware before purchasing, or take the risk that the reviews for the product they’re purchasing aren’t fake.

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