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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)

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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:

[siliconvalleywatcher.com...]

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]



[nytimes.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]

6:52 pm on Feb 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Interesting how the same site is also the first one under the map on the screenshot and if searched ( the search gives the same result from France ) ..The call to action and reinforcement of highlight plus 1st in local plus 1st under map ..should really help his ROI ..

As to G going back on their word ..not surprised ..just the latest in a long line of their double talk ..

Now wait for the reputation management posts to come in to speak in their favour here ..black will be white and night will be day ..and "at least it wont be as bad as microsoft might have done"..

It is tiring always being told that at least it is the lesser of two dont be evils ..

So bring on the "spin"..
7:11 pm on Feb 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I'm seeing the sponsored site at the top of the local listings when searching from London.
7:32 pm on Feb 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

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... prove that black is white and white is black ... and get killed on the next zebra crossing.

Old H2GT2G joke.
7:40 pm on Feb 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

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$25/month is really affordable for what you are getting. If this moves forward, I expect that in a couple of months nearly all local advertisiers will be using it. That's $25 X 7 advertisers X every major city X a plethora of search terms.

End result for Google - major money. End result for advertisers - absolutely nothing. Yellow highlighting won't draw attention to a listing if all the listings are highlighted.
7:52 pm on Feb 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I was commenting last week that it looked like positions in the results were up for bid with something related to Google Commerce. It looked like that was open to those spending $50,000 or more. They’ll probably limit the mentioned to small brick and mortar businesses.

When you start coming across the hundreds of Adword template sites purely composed of Adword ads you’ll realize what any Google spokesperson tells you means absolutely nothing. Google and its cronies break every rule they ask the sheep to follow.
8:12 pm on Feb 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Arieng is right: Get #1 position in Google at $25 per month. Guaranteed by Google. Every local business will beg for this.

That's only $300/yr, so it kills the entire Yellow Pages industry (plus just about every small independent SEO service)

It's being sold directly by Google, so it cuts out "Certified Adwords Professionals". Goodbye, suckers.
8:24 pm on Feb 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I wonder how long before they offer "templated" ( "have your site with no knowledge of html etc required" ) hosting .."Upload and go" .."Top placement on local included in our platinum pack ?"

Plus the barcode for your entrance of "best in neighbour hood" approved by the plex ..
8:47 pm on Feb 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I wonder how long before they offer "templated" ( "have your site with no knowledge of html etc required" ) hosting .."Upload and go" .."Top placement on local included in our platinum pack ?"


What’s so frighteningly funny is they’ve already got it. It’s incorporated on company Intranets. Its part of the Search Partner Network. Google Adsense For Search. They're template search sites with strictly Adword ads. Once you see it you're going to want one.
10:54 pm on Feb 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Its a sad sad day for our industry as a whole, if sponsored ads are shown in the natural results!

Hang on though, I dont see any yellow tag against the natural result. Google have been allowing PPC on maps for quite a while, so it seems only a natural progression

The title of this post is a bit misleading - the sponsored ads arent showing in the natural results, these are local results a different index
12:42 am on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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All I can say is W T F Google.
1:32 am on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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What exactly is the new thing Google is doing? I have seen one or more sponsored results at the top of the search results for quite a while now (using google.com from Canada).

Was this never seen in the US before, or is there some other change I'm not seeing, or is the author simply misinformed?
2:20 am on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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This is some serious hyperbole.

1) It's not in the organic results, it's in the local business results.

2) Adwords ads are on the top all the time. They're not "always on the right" or on the side as the author / people here are claiming.

Basically, it's just Adwords for local search.
2:33 am on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Read the article (it's the first posting in this thread).

It's not about ads on the side or at the top in the Blue Box.

For $25, Google is adding URLs into the natural search results. Read the article and look at the screenshot.
2:34 am on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I like the fact that if you click "About Us" on the aforementioned skate shop site, it takes you to Yahoo! Local.

Google Maps is obviously of some use, but for the real lowdown they'll send you to Yahoo!
3:00 am on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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It's not about ads on the side or at the top in the Blue Box.

FWIW, I don't see the ads at the top left of the SERPs in a blue box. They're "set apart" by putting them on an extremely faint yellow background (#FFF8DD). Also the words "Sponsored Link" appear way over at the far right. Can't say I care for Google stealing the #1 spot in the search results, but it's part of a longterm trend.
3:45 am on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Guys, they're not selling position. The skateboard shop in the article was already #1 for it's listing, the $25 just buys a yellow highlight, to make your already existing listing stand out. It's *not* an AdWords listing.

The results in the local box, btw, are sorted by distance from the center of the search. Regardless of where that guy shows up he gets his highlight. For instance, if you repeat the search but shift it a little to the west, he drops down about 5 spots (which, again, I am sure he did *before* he paid his $25), but the highlight is still there:

[google.com...]
4:48 am on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Go to the article and look at the screenshot (the URL is in the first posting to this thread).

Look at the link. There is a little yellow tag. That's to highlight the link.

Look a bit more. See "Sponsored"? It's paid placement.

No, it's not Adwords. It's a new service. Sold directly by Google's sales team.

It's called "Google Enhanced Listings." These ads can point 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. Yes, that's right: to SEO a restaurant's menu, you pay to place the link.

Google has around one million small businesses in Google Local Business. The Yellow Pages have about 3.5m clients.

This is being tested in San Jose and Houston. If your local business (or your clients) are in those cities, go to Google Local Business and see if you're eligible for paid inclusion in the natural search results.

By the way, check out Google Local Business. It now reports on displays, keywords, and clicks.
6:26 am on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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GREAT for brick and mortar stores but HORRIBLE for geo based websites who lose the top 50% of screen space above the fold.
6:39 am on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Had they started with bids for #1 spot in natural SERPs, it would have resulted in a major controversy. To avoid this they are pretending to be helping small/local businesses.

It is a known fact that #1 position for even a lot of obscure keywords on google is worth a lot more than $25/month and I am not even talking about well known commercial fields. If they are giving that #1 position away for just $25/month, then they are leaving a lot of money on the table. It is just a matter of time before we see roll-out to major advertisers and etailers like Amazon et al.
7:20 am on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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wow maybe Bing really is the future..
1:22 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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@mvandemar

The results in the local box, btw, are sorted by distance from the center of the search. Regardless of where that guy shows up he gets his highlight. For instance, if you repeat the search but shift it a little to the west, he drops down about 5 spots (which, again, I am sure he did *before* he paid his $25), but the highlight is still there:


This is a small ranking factor for local results ; )
2:29 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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@Pass the Dutchie

This is a small ranking factor for local results ; )


Maybe, I haven't looked that deeply into it, but it seems to hold true when I search. However, it is huge compared to the non-ranking factor the $25 contributes.
2:47 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Don't see the yellow flag in UK.

Personally I find the local results more of a hindrance than a help and would love to just turn them off. Also running a site for a regional niche music magazine I hate the way the local searches push us below the fold when people search on our name. I had a play with adwords but it was costing me a pound for every 10p earned so I quickly gave up.
2:50 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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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".
4:55 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Google was always proud of the clear difference between the organic search results and the sponsored links. This is not the case any more.

In this local example, they are using a very strong call to action which is "View website" and they removed the "links" part from "Sponsored links".

"View website" kills the neutrality (!) of Google. I won't be surprised if they launch a Paid Inclusion Program in the months ahead.

Don't be evil, eh?
7:26 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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MVandemar referenced me over here. I've got some local businesses and spend a lot of time working on issues with local, PPC for those businesses and Google Maps stuff and especially rankings.

This little yellow thing is currently in test mode for Google. Yup. They are monetizing Google Maps. They ran a different test, also connected to Google Maps a little while ago, also in 2 cities. They've pulled that one for the time being.

I don't think this will have any impact on rankings. OTOH, if this is successful, and I think it will be, they'll probably raise the monthly price over time.

It so happens that the yellow link can refer to things that already could be on your google local record AKA Google Maps page, or Google Places Page. It could be pictures, a video, etc....all of which you can load on your G Maps page/record. If your a restaurant it could be a menu.

If you have a local business and have "claimed your local listing" in google, you get something called dashboard analytics. IMHO these are pretty feeble. They don't tell you squat relative to any half way decent analytics package. OTOH, one of the things they tell you is when a visitor hits your maps site where to they go: directions to your page, the link to your site, or your Google Maps record.

Most people I've interacted with on this confirm that a far higher percentage simply click on the link to your site. Not many go to your maps record (which could hold the thing you are going to link to with this "yellow thing".

This is a way to get these things featured....for a price.

As far as rankings in G Maps...closest point to a "centroid point" is a factor in ranking. There are other factors.
7:44 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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@earlpearl

closest point to a "centroid point" is a factor in ranking. There are other factors.


Right, but my point was that the fee you pay is not one of those factors. They are not selling rankings, which is what most of the replies here, and the original story linked to up top, seem to be assuming.

Thank you for the info on how specific pages/resources (ie. menus) can be linked to already, without paying any sort of fee. I assumed that from the wording of the NY Times story, but they really didn't clarify.
8:11 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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@mvandemar. I agree. I don't think this $25 monthly fee thing will have anything to do w/ ranking in G Maps.
9:44 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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To me, this seems to have a feel of desperation to it.
This 47 message thread spans 2 pages: 47