Articles Tagged with Google

My Experience Using the New Google My Business Redressal Complaint Form

* UPDATE – 24th March: it looks as thought 2 of the 3 listings have now come back online, and with their spammy business names (boooo…) *

Delete button (Prismafied)Google Maps has a spam problem. From seemingly randomly-left reviews to businesses spamming their Google My Business (GMB) listings so heavily that there’s even a dedicated hashtag for it (#stopcraponthemap), the situation becomes further frustrating when you realise that Google doesn’t (or can’t) do much about the situation. Sure, you can ‘suggest edits’ on Google Maps, but in my experience the process is largely pointless, and if you really need to contact Google to do something, you have to (ironically) contact them via Twitter or Facebook. Huh…

It’s starting to feel like it’s getting to boiling point, with the ne’er-do-well spammy types getting away with their efforts and reaping the benefits.

So when Google announced its Business Redressal Complaint Form a few weeks ago, I did a little eye-roll, said “yeah, ok” and reluctantly gave it a go on a couple of a client’s competitors who are notorious GMB listing spammers, expecting the usual to happen: something between ‘very little’ and ‘nothing’.

Boy was I in for a shock.

What’s in a (spammy) name?

I’ll keep the example anonymous but let’s say my client is a family-run, independent widget seller with two shops in South Wales. Their main competitors are UK-wide chains with dozens of locations across the country. One of them has two locations in Cardiff, while another has just the one. While my client uses their business name properly in the Name field (e.g. “Bonafide Widgets”), the competitors have gone with a “Business Name Keyword Location” approach, with the competitor with two Cardiff locations going as far as listing the sub-location as well (e.g. “Widgets-R-Us Cheap Widgets Cardiff”, “SuperWidgets Cheap Widgets Cardiff Central” and “SuperWidgets Cheap Widgets Cardiff North”). Ugh. Tacky. And frustratingly, they’d often rank higher in Google Maps for keywords – suggesting that this dodgy practice was working well for them, too. No fair.

Despite this behaviour being against Google My Business’ guidelines (see Name > Learn more > Service or product / Location information on that link), and despite me regularly using the ‘suggest an edit’ feature on the three listings to ‘correct’ the business names to be more guidelines-compliant, very little would happen. Either nothing would happen (and I’d simply have to try again), or the changes would only last for a day or two, with the original spammy versions returning shortly afterwards. I was about to try the contact-via-Twitter/Facebook method with them when the Redressal Form was introduced.

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Don’t Panic, SEOs! The Whisky-related Zero Result SERPs are a Bug

Update: Google have since put this experiment on hold (source).

Zero-result SERPs have caused a bit of a stir in the SEO industry this past fortnight. For time-related searches, instead of showing a variety of results, Google shows you the answer and… that’s it. Unless you click the ‘Show all results >’ box at the bottom, all you see is Google’s answer. Here’s an example for "time in cardiff":

"time in cardiff" search screenshot
The situation went into panicky overdrive when I checked Twitter this morning and saw tweets from overnight suggesting that whisky-related SERPs had been affected. Rightly so, if you searched for "lagavulin 16" – as in Lagavulin’s 16-year-old single malt bottle – it would show the time box, Google Shopping results, Google AdWords ads (if applicable) and that’s it:

"lagavulin 16" search screenshot
The time box was a particularly bizarre inclusion – what’s the time got to do with a search for a bottle of whisky anyway? There was also chatter that other bottles of whisky with numbers after them (as in their age) were producing similar results.

And that’s when it hit me: what if Google was thinking that people were searching for Lagavulin the place and that the number was the time, as in: “what time is it where I am if it’s 16:00 (i.e. 4pm) in Lagavulin, the Scottish village?”

I tagged Danny Sullivan (who now works for Google) in a tweet and he’s confirmed that it’s an “edge case” (interesting choice of phrase, Danny – not “bug”?) 😉

So there you have it, folks. No need to panic (yet). They’re not after our whisky SERPs – phew! Breatheinbreatheout breatheinbreatheout. Why not pour yourself a glass of Lagavulin?

…Too soon?

Getting Detailed Keyword Planner Data via My Client Centre (MCC)

Keyword Planner (Prismafied) imageThis is probably really obvious, but it fooled me, so I thought it was worth blogging about.

TL;DR – To get detailed data using the AdWords Keyword Planner when managing multiple accounts via MCC (My Client Centre), make sure that you click on the ‘Jump to account’ drop-down at the top of the screen, select a ‘big spender’ client, and then do your keyword research as normal. The priviso is that you have to have at least one client in your MCC that’s a ‘big spender,’ otherwise you may not get the detailed data. If you leave it as the default – probably your own/agency account – you may not get the data, especially if you don’t use AdWords yourself, which is what fooled me originally.

Google’s changes

Back in June, Google started combining data for very closely-related keywords in its Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool. For example, the keywords "personal injury claim" and "personal injuries claims" suddenly had exactly the same search volume and suggested AdWords bid data, despite the latter being grammatically unfriendly and therefore less searched-on:

It was either a mighty big coincidence (unlikely), or their data was being lumped together (likely).

At first there was talk that it was a bug (even DMs that I had back-and-forth with the @adwords team showed that they didn’t really have a clue internally what the heck was going on), but eventually – weeks later – it was revealed that it was a permanent change. They also started to show data in ranges: e.g. “100 – 1K” instead of, say, “390”.

Ugh.

Initial confusion

It was also revealed that you had to be an active user – i.e. spending moolah on actual AdWords clicks – in order to get the detailed data, and also potentially have an account that’s been running for at least a couple of months. However, as it stands, no one’s currently sure how much you have to spend in order to see detailed data vs. the generalised ranges.

My question was this: what about people who have access to other AdWords accounts via My Client Centre (MCC)? How does that factor into it?

Well, from a recent post about it on the SEM Post:

“So needing to have active campaigns running for at least 3-4 months, with an unknown spend requirement, will mean many SEOs will have a hard time getting the detailed data unless they are able to MCC an active AdWords account that is seeing the data.”

This confused me, as I had a MCC account with at least 3 or 4 active AdWords campaigns in it (i.e. client campaigns), but whenever I tried to use the Keyword Planner, I was still getting the rough data ranges instead of the detailed data.

…And then I realised what I was doing wrong.

How to get detailed data

Whenever you access the Google AdWords Keyword Planner normally, e.g. if you visit it via Google Search or have the direct link to it bookmarked, you are taken to your AdWords account. In my case, it was Morgan Online Marketing’s AdWords account:

Keyword planner data ranges screenshot
Now I only have an AdWords account for My Client Centre purposes, so that I can manage other clients’ AdWords accounts. I don’t run AdWords ads on the MOM site itself.

And that’s why I wasn’t getting the data: MOM isn’t an active advertiser.

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Tactics for a Successful Public Vote Strategy – How I Became a UK Blog Awards Finalist

VOTE imageI’m excited to be a finalist in the UK Blog Awards for the second year running, this time in the Digital & Technology category. The first phase was a public vote, and although I put a fair bit of effort into it, I’m certainly no expert – proof of that is the fact that I only made it to the finals in one of the two categories that I entered, suggesting that the competition this year is a lot more fierce than previous years…

I wanted to share my tactics on how I put the word out asking people to vote for me. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and some of them may be really obvious, but who knows… you might try different things next year and it might make all the difference.

Blog-related

Blog about it

UKBA16 badge exampleFirst things first… Blog about it! I wrote a post about it (“Vote for SEOno in the UK Blog Awards 2016!”) containing the ‘vote now’ image, which linked to my dedicated entry page.

Add a site-wide ‘vote now’ button

You can take this further by added a site-wide ‘vote now’ button. I put mine in my blog’s site-wide left-hand column. This is handy in case someone doesn’t see the dedicated blog post on the subject and instead visits another section (such as the homepage, the About page, the Contact page or a random post).

Social media-related

Twitter

Twitter is a no-brainer, and I reckon the biggest ‘pull’ of votes in my case.

I wouldn’t hesitate to tweet multiple times. I tweeted every 2-3 days during the voting period, varying the times and days. Use something like TweetDeck or Buffer to schedule your tweets (so you can get them all ready in bulk, instead of having to worry about remembering to manually do them yourself), and something like Followerwonk to find out the best time(s) of day to tweet based on your followers’ activity.

Followerwonk example screenshot
UKBA16 tweets imageAnother way to vary your tweets on the subject: RT other people’s tweets about it. So if someone else tweets saying that you’ve entered (@mentioning you in the process) then you could consider retweeting that instead of doing a standalone tweet from your own account.

I also tended to vary whether or not it contained an image (either no image, or the screenshot from the entry page, or the one provided by UKBA themselves), and also varied the landing page (mostly the entry page itself, but sometimes I drove people to the blog post instead).

Oh and lastly… Consider pinning one of the tweets on your profile – ideally one with an image (such as the ‘vote now’ image that UKBA provided, in my case). For people who randomly stumble across your Twitter profile, they’ll see it – and even if they don’t end up voting, it still looks good to show off.

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The 1-Star Sucker-punch – Dropping the Ball on Online Reviews

Seeing stars imageAs SEOs we often have our focuses and our biases: our remit is to help improve clients’ visibility in search engines, after all.

However when working with SMEs in particular, you might be their go-to guy/girl for all their online marketing questions – not just SEO. I always try to offer help and advice on other areas if I can – such as social media and UX – but ultimately some things slip through the cracks. This post is an example where giving the client too much a focus can actually be a bad thing… They may perform one task really well, but then struggle to adjust strategy when it matters…

One of my clients has a big focus is on Local SEO: boosting the Map listing. If you Google “[keyword] [location]” keywords then oftentimes a Google Map shows up. And a big factor of that is getting positive Google reviews against the listing. We do pretty well all things considered, especially given that they’re not based in Cardiff city centre and instead operate on the edge of the city.

I did all the right stuff: I told them who was best to contact (happy clients) as well as the optimum time to contact them (just after a project had finished). I gave them an adaptable email template to use, containing info for the clients on how to leave a review and the appropriate links to the listing, etc. Over time, they hit the (ideal) minimum of five reviews and just kept going and going, eventually hitting more than ten 5-star reviews.

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