Google’s always tinkering around in AdWords and making changes. Recently there have been a few significant ones that I want to make sure are on the radar of all of you who care about AdWords.
It used to be your AdWords account and Google Maps reviews had nothing to do with one another. The only exception was if you were using Google AdWords Express (which you should NOT be doing), Google would show a business’ ratings next to their ads.
Now, however, if you are running a real (ie. non-Express) AdWords campaign and are using the Location extensions, your ad can show your star ratings and link to your reviews on Google. Here’s a screenshot of what this looks like…
(I don’t know for sure but from what I’ve seen it looks like you need to have at least 5 reviews on Google in order for this to appear.)
There are 2 big reasons why this is important…
1. Those star ratings REALLY make your ads stand out from the competition. So if you don’t have Location extensions turned on… you should. Also, if you don’t have 5 Google reviews for your business, you should work hard to get them. The more reviews and the more positive reviews you have next to your ad, the better.
2. If you have a number of negative reviews, this can work against you. You don’t want to be paying for AdWords ads if your 2.7 star rating is running next to them! You’d basically be advertising “Hey, we suck!”
That’ll hurt your results. In fact, if you don’t have a lot of good reviews on AdWords, you’re probably better off not using Location extensions at all.
Because reviews are now a much bigger deal in AdWords, we’ll be bringing you more on this in the weeks/months ahead. Keep your eye out for this because, for local businesses, this is a big deal and we want to help you improve your ratings on Google.
AdWords ads continue to take up more and more space on the search results page at the expense of the organic listings. And one of the main ways Google does this is by giving AdWords advertisers ad extensions to display with their ads.
For those who don’t know, ad extensions are additional bits of information that Google can display next to your core ad (which consists of the headline, 2 lines of text and URL field).
The newest ad extensions are called structured snippets and they are a way for you to display a list of items under your ads.
What items you display in this list is a bit limited to the categories of structured snippets Google has made available to advertisers. These include Brands, Destinations (for travel businesses), Neighborhood, Insurance (for medical practices) and more.
We’ve seen great success in the early days when using structured snippets in clients’ campaigns. They seem to have a very nice impact on the Clickthrough Rates of our clients’ ads.
For local businesses, the Service catalog snippet seems to be the most practical and you can use it to list a number of different services you offer. However, depending on the clients, we’ve also had success with Brands and Insurance snippets.
Structured snippets help your ads take up more space on the page and provide even more information about your business so there’s really no reason you should not add them to your AdWords campaigns immediately.
Personally I think this development is the coolest one, however, it is the least applicable to local businesses.
Customer Match lets you upload a list of your customer’s email addresses to Google. Google will then match those addresses to people who are logged into Google and allow you to target your customers with Search, YouTube and/or Gmail ads.
Facebook has had a similar offering for a while and it’s nice to see Google offering this too. It can be a very effective way of getting your message out to customers or those who have opted into your list (and it has to be a list of customers/opt-ins, using a list you bought is against the rules).
I can see an application to a local business that offers some sort of regular or seasonal service to their customers like an HVAC company. In a situation like that you can have ads that show up on Gmail or YouTube that remind customers to get a fall/spring tune up.
There are other scenarios like that for some types of local businesses but this feature isn’t as helpful for a local business as it may be for an Ecommerce or info marketing business.
This feature is rolling out to AdWords advertisers over the next few weeks so, if it is applicable to your business, keep an eye out for them. The star ratings and structured snippet extensions are already available so take advantage of them ASAP.
Last weekend I was in a rush to take my daughter to an event at a local school I’d never been to before.
So I headed over to the computer, typed the school’s address into Google Maps and was met with a screen and short slide show welcoming me to the NEW Google Maps.
As I started fast-forwarding through the slide show so I could get the directions I needed, one slide leaped out at me and I froze. Not having much time, I took a screenshot of what I say and want to share it with you here.
Now if you blink, you might miss what the bid deal is here.
See, this slide is about how Google is making it easier for you to make “smarter” choices when you’re looking for local businesses.
The most important piece of this that local business owners should be paying close attention to is this
“… find the highest-rated shops nearby.”
That’s right, the number and quality of the ratings your customers leave about your business on Google may well determine whether they find your business or not.
Online reviews have long been important for local businesses and now seem to be getting even more so.
If you’re struggling to get more reviews for your business, a good friend of mine has developed software that makes it dirt simple.
All you need is a customer’s name and email address and the software does the rest. And does it really well.
One of my clients has been using it for about 6 months. When they started, they had 2 just reviews for their business on Google. Now they’re the most reviewed, highest rated business in their local niche on Google and the other major review sites (and almost all the reviews are 5 star reviews from very happy customers!).
And his results are common. The software’s been around for about a year now and the businesses using it are dominating their local market when it comes to reviews and referrals (and at $49/month, find it an incredible bargain for the results they get)!
Now this software is not for everyone. But if you think it might be a good fit for your business and would like to know about it, send me an email with the subject line “More Local Reviews” and I’ll put you in touch with my friend to see if his software can help your business become the most reviewed business in your town (which, as you can see from the image above, is more important than ever!)
So if you want to become the most reviewed, highest rated business in your niche/area, email me now – adam (at) wordsthatclick (dot) com!
Ever wish you could get inside your prospects’ brain and see the world as they do?
Well while that might not be possible, you can see how they view the Internet through the use of eyetracking studies.
These types of studies use super-cool technology to track what people look at when surfing the web. And when you combine the results from all those who have participated in the study you end up with one extremely enlightening “heatmap” that shows you where people focus their attention when online.
SEOMoz recently did an eyetracking survey and the results are particularly revealing for local business owners. The study tracked what people look at when on the first page of Google.
Here’s image #1:
Notice how most people’s eyes are drawn to the “7-Pack” of local businesses (also called Google Map results or local search results) even though they are not the first results on the page?
Now take a look at the second image, which I find even more revealing…
Notice how even with a Google AdWords ad and other results pushing the local listings even further down the screen, people’s eyes gravitate toward the “3-Pack” of local results?
These two images clearly illustrate what a powerful magnet these local listings are for your customers (and while these images are from a desktop/laptop, these Google Maps listings get a lot of attention on Smartphones too).
The businesses that get to the top of the Google Maps rankings, win the lion’s share of prospects’ eyeballs (and business).
The first step to getting there is to simply claim your business listing on Google. There’s a ton of great free information on how to do that, and optimize your local search listing, on VizOnTheNet.com.
So if you’re not at the top of the Google Maps listings for the keywords your prospects are typing into Google to find you, head over to that site, start optimizing your local listings today!