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Google Sells Out - AdWords Showing in Local Organic Results
"and they said this would never happen..."

 6:02 pm on Feb 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google is testing a new project: local stores pay $25/month to appear directly in the search results (not an ad on the side).

The following article describes this and has a screen shot:


You can also see this for yourself: search for < skateboards in houston > and look at the first result, marked with a yellow tag.

Skateboards in houston search [google.com]


for a flat fee of $25 a month, he is making his listings on Google stand out. Whenever his shop comes up in a search page or on a Google map, it is adorned with a bright yellow tag. The tag links to the Kingpinz Web site, but these enhanced listings, as the ads are called, can also link to a coupon, store directions, a photograph or a video of a business, or, in the case of a restaurant, a menu or reservations page.

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 2:13 am (utc) on Feb 16, 2010]
[edit reason] added ny times link [/edit]



 9:44 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't think this $25 monthly fee thing will have anything to do w/ ranking in G Maps.
Probably not directly, and not initially. But here's my prediction... As it grows, the pricing will become competitive and dynamic, and position will be determined by bids and a mysterious "quality" factor which coincidentally(?) optimizes revenue. Sound familiar?

 9:46 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

I used to be a sound engineer and I spent a lot of time mixing 'monitors', the speakers that the performers listen to while on stage.

A classic request was to "make me louder than everybody else" (usually not in so many words). Of course, if EVERYONE asks for this, then we end up with so much noise that nobody can hear.

This is the same thing, as arieng points out. With such a low price point, pretty much everyone will want to 'stand out' - and the noise will be deafening.


 9:51 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

WOW, this is a completely moronic move. This can not happen for real I hope.


 9:56 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

this is a classic "slippery slope" tactic.

You introduce the "feature" in the most innocent way, people get used to it, but what G has now done is get their foot just half an inch into the door.

The price will change, exactly what it gets you will begin to alter too, but people will say "ah, that's been around some time, it's nothing new".

within a couple of years, paying to be on page 1 of the general serps will have slid in under the radar...OK, I'd give it 3 years. Adwords monetizes 10-20% of the acreage on each page - looks like they've had enough of giving the other 80% a free ride.


 10:51 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

I hate to be one of those people predicting the downfall of Google, but they're going down the same road that led to the demise of Alta Vista and various other search engines.

They became a behemoth in just a few years because search engines have such weak user lock-in, but if they continue screwing up their core business (SERPs) that fact may come back to bite them in the butt. All it would take is a less annoying, more usable SE to emerge and they could start bleeding users real fast.


 10:56 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Didnt Yahoo do something similar to this a while back.... the mixing of organic and paid listings caused me to not use them anymore for searches. Google... not a good move.


 11:58 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

It looks like they are on the last part of a home run.
Next step will be all major stuff sold by them on affiliate basis and advertisers will be left with content network only.


 2:00 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

maybe they'll introduce a QS scheme to limit the number who get to display the dealio. :-)


 2:04 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

maybe they'll introduce a QS scheme to limit the number who get to display the dealio. :-)


 4:27 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

From google:

We have launched a limited beta of a new feature in the Local Business Center called enhanced listings. Enhanced listings enable business owners to let potential customers know what they think is most important or unique about their business. The feature enables LBC users to enhance their LBC listing by choosing one of the following enhancements: photos, videos, website, coupons, directions, menu or reservations. Enhancements will appear as part of the listing every time the organic listing appears in search results on Google and Google Maps.

We’re testing this new feature starting with a limited trial in San Jose and Houston. Users in these two cities can go to the Local Business Center dashboard for their business where they’ll see a highlighted box inviting them to enhance their listing. By clicking on it, they will begin the process of selecting an enhancement. The trial will be free through February 28th and starting March 1st, we will be charging a flat monthly fee.


 5:55 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Here's my take on it:

1) Paying doesn't affect ranking:

"Please keep in mind that enhancing your listing won't help it show more often then it already does. You can highlight the information a customer sees -- hopefully making your listing more attractive to the user -- but it won't increase how often your listing is shown."

2) This is only available in the Local Business Listings (only San Jose & Houston, currently)

3) You can add the following to your listing:
  • Website for your business. (seems a little redundant)
  • Photos of your business.
  • Videos of your business.
  • Coupons for your listing.
  • Menu for your restaurant.
  • Reservations page for your business.
  • Driving directions to your business

Now, if you don't show/rank anywhere, it's pretty useless...which only increases the importance of Local SEO tactics, btw.

Yes this is actually a Google offering that is GOOD for SEO professionals. Would they release this for the natural listings (via webmaster tools, microformat, sitemap, etc.)? If I were a retailer, I'd certainly pay $50/mo to have my coupon code advertised in my snippet. Heck, I'd probably pay more. Think of the exposure. (Think about how that would affect all of those coupon sites! Yeesh!) It could promote the benefit of implementing a property SEO strategy...ROI on that paid "enhancement." It would already promote this at the local level.

In the hopes of toning down the hyperbole... Is it an interesting add-on to your local listing? Definitely! Is Google "selling out"? Not really. I think the inclusion of the word "sponsored" could be a little misleading but, other than that, I'm hoping it'll further open the door to continued acceptance and inclusion of microformatted data creating richer snippets... which is really all this is. A paid way to create a fancier rich snippet.

I'd actually like to see how far they could expand this offering. Could they include a collapsible AJAX contact form under the listing? That would be interesting.


 7:36 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

I suppose there is a lot of hyperbole in this thread but it certainly does break a seal and the important thing is to see where this will go from here. Yeah, sure, it's an innocent enough start, but pandora's box is now open.


 1:03 pm on Feb 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

I saw this happening about a week ago. One of the big etailers that clearly had no way of ranking for position 1 based on the stature of the URL, was sitting there.

It wasn't tagged either.


 5:25 pm on Feb 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

I hate to be one of those people predicting the downfall of Google, but they're going down the same road that led to the demise of Alta Vista and various other search engines.

They're definitely on the slope. They think they can't slip off, but that's the Ph.D. egghead arrogance thing.


 8:12 am on Feb 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

For anyone not seeing it, you have to use Google.com and not your national version. The ads appear not just in the first position of the onebox. I looked for lawyers in Houston the other day and got the yellow tags in position 2 and 6.

Currently they are in positions 1 and 7 and neither is at the top of the organic results. One is #8 and the other a fair way down (100 results).

I don't like this one bit, but Google isn't going to make much money at 7 x $25 per month, so I think the paid advertisers might be randomised to give everyone their time in the sun.


 8:52 pm on Feb 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

They became a behemoth in just a few years because search engines have such weak user lock-in, but if they continue screwing up their core business (SERPs) that fact may come back to bite them in the butt.

I think Google would beg to differ. Back then it was different: there was competition among search engines (remember Fast, AltaVista, Yahoo, Lycos, Mamma, Dogpile, Infoseek, etc etc?) and the field was still up for grabs. Now, with the verb and everything, they probably figure they can do as they please. As they just might have a point.


 10:51 pm on Feb 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google wanted it since their talks with Yelp didn't materialize: GOOG in discussions to buy Yelp [webmasterworld.com]

It has been obvious for several years now that G$$gle is in the process of replacing every single FREE SERP result on the page with paid ads. This is just another step forward, pretty soon you'll be searching for "widgetman in widgetwille" and every single result on Google will be PAID ADS.

Sounds as bad as what we have on TV.

And most reasonable and educated people, hopefully, will leave for other places to conduct their online activities. Just like they don't watch TV, and don't read newspapers.

Two thumbs up:

yaix2: To sum up, last week G forgot about privacy by making private user contacts public via Buzz, and this week forgot about the separation of organic and paid listings by accepting money for search result listings.

Looking forward to next week's "innovation".

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