This week in Local Search, Google has made a small change to the pin number process in the Local Business Center which will slightly alter the way SEOs need to manage assisting clients with the all-important verification process. And, just today, Google has added a new favoriting feature to Maps.
The Pin Number Is Out Of Your Hands Now
Like most of the Local SEOs I know, I handle the key practice of Local Business Center profile verification by creating my client's listing for him, getting his pin number at the end of that process and then phoning him with the pin so that he can verify his listing when Google calls. Google is now simply providing the pin number within the phone call. So, it's out of your hands and up to your clients to receive and enter the pin when Google calls. It's not a major change in the way you serve your clients, but it's one you should know about.
Seeing Stars In Google Maps
*NOTA BENE: You must be logged into a Google account in order to see this new feature. Go do a search for something in Google Maps and you will notice the ghostly outline of a star next to the business listings displayed. Click that star and Google gilds it for you. What does that do? It adds the listing as a favorite to your MyMaps page. Looky here:
What might this be good for?
- Well, if you're an SEO, it might be a way to add all of your clients' profiles to a single page to make it fast and easy to check if they've gotten any new reviews or citations on a periodic basis.
- It might also be a way to put all of your competitors' listings in one place to follow what they are doing, especially if they are spamming. On the other hand, we have no idea yet whether having people gild the stars will increase rankings in any way, so maybe hold off on showing favoritism to your competition.
- On a user level, people might use the favorites star to bookmark businesses they want to remember. I can see this as useful to people who travel frequently and want to keep track of the restaurants, hotels and other businesses where they've had a good experience in diverse cities. Was it Moe's Country Inn where there were mice living in the chandelier or was it Joe's? If you travel a lot, keeping track of data like that could make for a better trip.
- Finally, if you have an odd sense of humor (like me) and you find atrocious reviews of scary businesses entertaining, you might like to favorite the worst businesses you've ever come across for a serial-like continuing saga of drama and mayhem at your favorite bad businesses. A sort of TV Guide of local business channels, if you will. I know I'm not alone in this now, as Yelp sent me an email this week about users' hotel horror stories. Actually, I didn't think their choices were really that horrid, although the roof blew off of a hotel during one man's visit. This really can't compare to a review I once read that ended with a patron being thrown through a plate glass window in a bar fight (no one died). I'm not sure that this is a use of Google's new Maps stars that they intended, but I think it has potential. Can you think of other uses for this new feature?Hat tip to Mike Blumenthal for being the first to see stars and to Steve Hatcher for figuring out what the stars do.
And that's the two bit news in Local Search for the week. Something to play with over your 3 day weekend!
Miriam Ellis is the co-owner of Solas Web Design and CopyLocal, providing SEO-based website design, Local SEO and professional copywriting for small-to-medium North American businesses. She is the Local SEO Associate in the Q&A Forum at SEOmoz, a moderator at Cre8asite Forums and an annual participant in David Mihm's Local Search Ranking Factors report. When she and her husband are not working on the web, they're farming organically and working on increased sustainability or roaming about in nature having the time of their lives.
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