Video Deep Dive: Changes at Google Driving Results in Local
Mike Blumenthal


This is a special Deep Dive by Mike Blumenthal that was recorded at the LocalU Advanced in Santa Monica in November 2017: Changes at Google Driving Results. In our Deep Dive series, we take a closer look at one thing in local that caught our attention and deserves a longer discussion.

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Mike: So this has been an interesting year for Google. Joel said who I am. My co-founder also did my slide deck. I would never have the slide in here if it were up to me, but I now work someplace real.

So, I want to give you a little bit of background that leads up to this year in Local at Google. I’ll give you some sense of the context of the decisions. Google has this huge struggle where Local was forced into Google Plus and, then, was ripped out of Google Plus. It was a four-year period where virtually nothing other than that integration and disintegration was occurring. But starting around 2014, as this dissolution was happening through 2016, they built a whole new dashboard that was expandable, modular, easy to add new functionality to, From a business point of view, it didn’t mean much, but from Google’s point of view, it meant a lot.

Late, 2015, they rolled out their first public API, and this was a huge deal for Google because prior to this, GMB was, primarily just small businesses. This was the first indication that they were really interested in agencies, large IYPs, and others who had to deal with Google at scale. Interestingly, this is a product that’s on a tic-tac development cycle, about every six months you see a new rev, about every year you see a new version of it. It’s a huge change of attitude on Google’s part.

From the consumer point of view, in Local, and in many other Local Verticals, they’re doing, what I call, the rabbit hole, this immersive search. In fact, if you look today, on a product search, if you look like a Roomba 650, you’ll see all the Local, it’s a… Google’s goal, here, is to not just function as the visual interface to the world, but as a visual interface into their product, where they’re either going to sell you the ad, get the transaction, or get the data from the click, or the call, or the driving directions, So, Google has a presentation layer where they’re integrating immersive search. They’re doing everything they can to deliver the data that they say the customer wants, but, also, to keep the user on their site.

Simultaneously, they consolidated all of their community programs into a single program. Mapmaker, editors, and reviewers, and photographers, and all these people got consolidated into a single program, that they gamified, Local Guides. How many of you are Local Guides? Right, so, how many of you are level five or above Local Guides? How many of you team up on edits? Right, so teaming up on edits, we’ve learned, is a really powerful tactic to get some changes that are… if you find real spam, done.

So, interesting report came out last week, or two weeks ago, they passed 50 million guides in this program, a 10x increase from 2016. Massive amounts of data coming into the system, screwing up your doctors’ listings, but coming in, nonetheless. When Google broke Alphabet out, it became clear that they put adults in charge. And one of the goals, as adults, was to monetize virtually every part of Google more aggressively. And Local is really the center of that monetization plan, for a number of reasons that we could talk about, but they are putting Local ads everyplace, And there is no place in Google Local the pack, the map base level, the map, the Knowledge Panel, maps are appearing everyplace. And you can expect this trend to continue.

You also saw a huge increase of outreach to the SMB. One of the problems with the old Google My business was it was set it and forget it. People would claim it, and they’d lose their password, they’d never go back in. Google wouldn’t get fresh data, which is what they really want. They wouldn’t have a chance to sell an ad. And Google started doing all sorts of outreach. I don’t know how many of you are managers on accounts, but I’m sure you’ve seen your email. Massive increase in numbers of emails, things like this, where at the front page of Google you can now have this mini dashboard if you do a brand search and you’re a manager. I mean really…I get these all the time. It’s aggressive to the point of being spam.

Google’s clearly trying to bring small businesses back into the dashboard, both for data and to sell them an ad. And they’re going incredibly deep in granular data, Attributes, and non-binary attributes, and all these sorts of things. for every type of business, they even listed these 50 million people. Every time you log on, and you’ve indicated you visited a place, you get a little notice from Google, “Oh, gee, do you know about this place, and do they have this, do they have that, they have the other thing.” Google’s going for extremely granular, very, very long tail data.

And part of this whole push was this increased focus on reviews. One of which is these reviews from the web, but, also, just reviews. Any site that had review rich snip of data on it, got an instant boost late 2016 or early 2016, got an instant boost in showing up on brand searches, so that rich snippets and review data is everywhere on a brand page.

So that takes us to the beginning of this year. We live in a reality where Google and Facebook control roughly 66% of all digital advertising. They’re consuming 99% of all digital advertising growth, where there’s very little room outside of them in the advertising world. And where Google hadn’t introduced any new products into their dashboard since 2013 and half of the product they introduced in 2013, which was review monitoring of Google and third parties, they got rid of the third party review monitoring and dropped it. So they had cut features in the GMB but hadn’t added any.

Now, one reality…and this is a case study I did looking at low funnel key performance indicators for a client. And we looked at contact form fills from the website, Facebook measuring, click to call from the website, click to call from Google, Bing, Yext, driving directions requests anyplace we could find them, and Google was dominating low funnel key performance indicators in this case study. But in other ones I’ve looked at, they may range from even a little bit more than this to maybe as low as 75%. But, still, the primary source of all leads, whether they came through the website or not, originated at Google, so they’re not just the elephant in the room, in advertising, they’re the elephant in the room and Local.

But Google’s a funny company, The owners, or the founders, are both Jewish, grew up in Jewish, post World War II, Jewish families. One of whom is the son of a Russian refusenik, So they grew up in a world of existential threats. When they first started their company, they were under the threat of Microsoft having a monopoly over browsers, and controlling which search engine people choose. So they have this mindset, from where I sit, of always…even as fat and happy as they are with their controlled advertising, they see the world through a lens of existential crisis.

And there are some real issues that they confront. The Local Facebook has huge amount of small business mindshare and is getting a huge amount of small business money, even if they’re not delivering new customers for that amount. In developing countries, places like India and Indonesia, people skip the web altogether. There are no websites, so what can Google scrape, what can they look at if there are no websites? Huge problem for Google,

And in Amazon, they’re losing the shopping wars. Used to be that 60%, 70% of shopping inquiries started at Google and 30% was Amazon, that’s all switched. Amazon is now the shopping engine of choice. So they are losing, and they do have real threats, but in Local, they are not going to give up that game. They have the best data set, they have the highest amount of delivery of performance. People don’t know about it, your customers probably don’t know about it, but they’re going to defend this at all costs. They are going to…from here on out, you’re going to see a pace of development that is astonishing. Much like we’ve seen this year where massive feature development over the course of this year.

So the first was AdWords Express, a product that’s designed using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and it really started to become a decent product. It’s quite brilliant, I mean user goes in, picks a goal, “Do you want to call? Do you want to driving directions? Do you want to web visit? What do you want?” If you pick a call, they preroll the call from the ad and they say, “Oh, this ad’s coming to you from…this customer’s coming to you from Google AdWords Express.” Then the second screen, they allow the business to geo-target very precisely, down to specific zip codes. They then, check abroad…match keywords, they show you the ad, they turn on call-tracking, and you’re done, So this literally takes that long to set up an ad.

And think about it, Google has zero cost of ad creation, I mean for them, they have these machines generating ads, and in the quick context of the GMB, they have zero cost of customer acquisition. So this is what it costs them to put an ad on their website, Very difficult for anybody in the world, other than Facebook, to compete with it. It’s also difficult for us to compete with it in the sense that this engine, this machine learning, artificial intelligence engine, has gotten very good so that a $300 campaign, it’s difficult for a human to compete at that price per month. And you can bet your bottom dollar that Google likes it that way. They don’t want you skimming profit off that low-volume ad. But I would contend that these AdWords Express ads are going to continue to improve as their machine learning improves, and we’re going to see them moving upscale, making more difficult to get an ROI for small agencies in the ad world.

Another big change was this Home Service Ad, which last week, now, is called Local Service Ads, and Advanced Verification. Google had a huge problem with spam in certain industries. They switched to a quoting system, flat rate, $25, AdWords Express-type product, with a high level of verification using Pinkerton. And it’s now rolling out across the whole United States very rapidly. It took them almost two years of testing to get this thing right. It started in San Francisco in 2015. Every six months, you’d see a new task come out. And then starting in February, this thing started rolling much more broadly. Essentially, it’s pay to play in a quote business, but it’s a model that works in a lot of businesses. You could be paying for appointments. And it’s not hard to imagine this thinking moving on.

And then, just for a moment, I just want to step back, 2014. In 2014, they bought a company called Appetas. Appetas was out of Seattle, the owner of the company got bought up in an acquihire. This was a very brilliant website building product, It built five, six, eight-page websites with a couple of clicks, integrated transactions like ordering, and reservations, and delivery, beautiful graphics, SEO all built-in. Google bought them. The same person who owned that company, is in charge of this product, which is a single page website product that Google brought out in June, that self-populates content and was designed initially to service the third… developing countries, Where there is no web, to speak of, they wanted people to start building websites.

Since inception, I looked yesterday, there’s now almost 900,000 of these sites have been built, since June. We’re talking a rate of over 5,000 a day, every day, day in and day out. And when you look at them across markets, it’s interesting, the bulk of them are in India, Indonesia, but 20% of them are in the developed world. Twenty percent of them are in Europe and the United States. So it’s not hard to imagine Google taking this product and making it a little more suitable for this country, Right now it’s suitable for very small companies, but it could be expanded quite easily, given both the background of the people developing it and these kinds of numbers that it could be used to develop more broadly.

Google Posts, incredibly fascinating to me. Google’s letting small businesses write directly to the front page of Google, So, websites was June, this was July, I don’t know exactly when, Messaging was late July. So three products in two months. This allows you to set up a messaging relationship directly off the Knowledge Panel with a client. And Google Q&A, this is the weirdest one of all, This came out of a whole different division of Google. This was the consumer part of Google Maps, not the business part, it’s crowdsourced. It’s really problematic from a reputation point of view because there’s virtually no moderation of these questions. All of a sudden people are asking questions on your Knowledge Panel, you have no clue that they’re asking it. And they very easily could be passive/aggressive, or even aggressive questions and answers occurring on your prime real estate, without you knowing about it.

And then, October, another major rewrite of the APIs where they now are allowing you to post to up to nine businesses using Posts. You can do non-binary attributes, so things like different types of credit cards. So, again, a big commitment to Local, here, all within the last few months. And then, most recently, the one that, you guys are impacted by is this Bookings product, which they’ve been evolving in stages. So now it’s fully integrated into the GMB, giving businesses a choice of, in the spa and health…not health care, but in spa world, of choosing booking services, where Google’s actually promoting those services and then getting analytics out of them.

So we’re talking eight new major products, a whole raft of minor things, like ability to upload videos to Knowledge Panel via Android Maps. But eight major products in nine months. And, from what I understand, in talking to Google, that they’re accelerating, I don’t know how much faster than this they can go, but they’re accelerating. So, and, if you look at these products, you’d say, “Ah, well, Messaging and Facebook has it.” I mean, yeah, that’s true, but when you’re a monopoly, and you’re delivering 90% of the customers, so what? If it serves some segment of their market, that’s valuable.

The other point about this is while nothing is original in any of these products, many of these products, Google have tried two or three times before, the exact same product, just never rolled it, and so they may have had it. And, like, Messaging, they had in 2009, and again, in 2012 and 2014. So, some of this stuff, they had developed long ago, they just didn’t have a way to get adoption. And typical of all, Google products, they release early, iterate often, which means out the chute, these products are crap, Posts doesn’t work with websites. Why doesn’t it work with websites? It should work with websites, Google Q&A doesn’t work with the GMB. It should work with the GMB, it doesn’t. So there’s huge gaps, they’re each in silos, these products can’t communicate with each other, so there’s some problems.

But clearly what we’re seeing is the beginning of Google, in Local, freeing themselves from the constraints. Many of these constraints were imposed by mistakes they made in the past. I think Google Plus is a good example of that. There’s a saying that if you sleep with elephants, you need to keep one eye open because you never know when they’re going to roll over, And I think that’s the case in Local, here, Google is on a tear, and I anticipate them, accelerating this.

So what does a path forward look like, what you do, how do you cope with this? What do you do? AdWords Express is, to me, a clear sign that you need to really look at your low-end advertising. Either just help the customer set it up, and you charge for that setup and monthly review with them, or you move upscale, but you get out of the way of the $300 a month advertising product because Google’s not going to let you make any money at it. And rest assured that what is effective at $300 a month, now, is going to expand as artificial intelligence get’s better. This product automatically adjusts over time between display network and search. We’ve seen it start at 50/50 and then switch 90/10 to search, automatically adjusts keywords. So, and quite brilliantly, tells the business that it’s them that’s calling. It’s like attribution, at a very gut level. So it’s a powerful product that I think you have to watch out for.

Obviously, there’s a lot of free stuff, here, that you might be able to leverage. I know this is not necessarily for you, but I think Messaging is interesting if you can integrate it into, an office level view of messaging, perhaps with Facebook Messenger, and other messaging products. Posts, you guys are already doing, I think it’s a very powerful tool. Photos, photos are the underrated part of Google. I think photos are incredibly important. And then, with the API access to Insights, you have some real opportunities to deliver meaningful data to your customers, with these new attributes, with API, you can, be sure that these long tail attributes are getting up there. Posts, they’ve expanded, they now allow you to post directly to the API, and they’ll soon be adding video to the API. So there’s a lot of opportunity in this product.

But I see the opportunities even broader, in some sense. In this study of KPIs, low-funnel KPIs, which are a little different than yours.You know for you guys, the KPI is the scheduled appointment, This was a bricks-and-mortar retail, so for them, it was phone calls and driving directions. When we parse this out, where this web traffic was occurring and where it was coming from, 92.7% was coming from Google, but 70% of that was occurring directly on Google, So almost three-fourths of all KPIs were occurring on Google.

In other words, the user, however they were getting there…maybe they came from Facebook, maybe they came from Yelp, maybe they started Google, went to Yelp and came back, we don’t know. But whatever was happening, they were stopping at Google, clicking the call or clicking for driving directions, and that was the end of the story. So the bulk of the remaining ones were coming through the website and doing the same activities there, clicking to call, or getting driving directions, or filling out the form.

So Google has become, as Mike pointed out, perhaps more important than the main, you know pagey website as a way of funneling leads into your organization. So I’ve come up with this phrase, a metaphor for Google, “Google as The New Home Page,” The page where everything that Google knows about you is happening, Now, this is an eye-tracking study, and when you look at it, this s an eye-tracking study of a local listing, a hotel. And when you look at how users process this page, it used to be that, they would start at the upper and go down, and then they’d come over and go down. But, now, they’re starting at the website, they’re moving over to the Knowledge Panel,… And then, they may drift down to the website for a second and third website results from that business, and then going over to the Knowledge Panel, moving down, looking at reviews, and then, moving back, So this is what a user’s doing when they find you there, and this is the behavior that we need to take advantage of.

So, in many ways, this page, this brand search, can be segmented and delineated, and tweaked in much the same way that you can tweak a homepage. You don’t control it, Google controls it, but there’s a lot on this page you can control. So what I’m going to do over the next few minutes is just talk about some of these elements.

The first thing, which is that top of the page, which you have complete control over, is both the title tags, the meta descriptions, and first party review, testimonial content marked up in rich snippets, So you have complete control over this, Google’s more than willing to show it. You need to make, as Mary’s probably pointed out in her “Listener,” talk, but you need to make these title tags compelling, you need to make the meta descriptions compelling. But, more importantly, you’ve gotta be sure that every page that Google’s showing of yours…they’re not going to show rich snippets on your homepage, they’re just not going to do it, but every other page should be marked up with an appropriate amount of original content.

Research that came out yesterday from this, they did a very interesting case study using eye-tracking and survey data, …it was a limited test. It wasn’t like a true Local test, so there wasn’t a gazillion red star…or yellow stars on the page, but they had like three versus a page without. And in that situation, they had a 35% uplift of click-through rates, due to just the fact of having rich snippets on their website, So I know that you guys have finally got this squared away and you’re going to town with this incredibly important thing that you control.

As you move down that page, on the organic, side, what Google has been doing is elevating in rank any directory that has rich snippets. So what we saw, when this first came out last fall, was non-rich snippets pages dropping and rich snippet pages moving into that. And you’re seeing Yelp, being often on brand searches, coming in behind the likes of Facebook. And you’re seeing third…vertical sites, with reviews, showing up. And what I’ve determined is that you can go down to page two and if you can get a couple of reviews on a site on page two, it will often move to page one. And even though it only has one or two reviews, which that’s all you need to get these stars and to have it show up in the organic side, on the left page,

I mean the goal here, on this page, is to tell your brand’s story, You get a whole page to do it, focusing on just first party reviews, or just Google reviews isn’t going to create that story. You need the story to go all the way down the page, the same way the user does, So these third-party reviews, wherever they are, become important. And you should dig into the first two pages to find out where you might have reviews, where you don’t, and make that a goal over the next 18, 24 months to get a few out there,

Now, photos are interesting, and I think that photos are one of the underutilized tools, We don’t know exactly the role they play. We do know from Google research that just having photos creates a 40% uptick in website visits from your listing. But we don’t really know their behavior. Google clearly wants us to know it’s important, but they don’t really tell us why. But here’s the reality, every picture should be a great picture. The profile picture should be a particularly great picture, but as Google’s probably going to change that on you, unknowingly to you right,

So you need to look at all the others in your industry, figure out what profile pictures Google are showing, this week for the bulk of those. Pick a great profile picture that meets that metric, and then make sure you’ve got a couple back up photos. But then also make sure that services, buildings, and people…who knows what Google’s going to pick next week with their algorithm, doesn’t matter. You should have…from every client you have, you should have a 100 great photos on file that you’re using for posts, that you’re uploading to their GMB once a month, over the course of a year. So you put two up there, keeping them refreshed, getting rid of old photos. Again, we don’t know the impact, I can only guess that it’s huge.

Obviously, Google reviews and snippets need to be monitored, this goes without saying, but I’m moving across and around down the page. Now reviews from the web typically occurs, I don’t know, just above or just below posts, I can’t keep it straight. But, reviews from the web is an interesting algorithm, It varies depending on the actual brand search that you do. And there has to be an exact match between the Knowledge Panel entity and the entity that is recovered for it to move over there.

Now Google won’t show Yelp reviews over here, they won’t show Better Business Bureau reviews over here, for some reason, and your goal should be for every business, every variation of the brand search, to have three in that pack. Now, you’re not going to. You’re likely, if you do a good job, you’re going to have two on most and three on some. But you’ll find, for example, I know in the medical field, a doctor in a practice, like Healthgrade reviews might not show up over there because it’s the practice query, not the doctor query, even though the doctor query shows.

So you have to, again, search through those first two pages and find review sites that match the brand name of the entity and get those, and find them that match the variations of the entity, get those, and go two pages deep and get a few reviews out there. You only need a couple to continue to reinforce the story that this page is telling, a couple. And this, goes beyond Yelp. This is Facebook, this is, in her case, The Knot, but in your case, potentially, Healthgrades, or other medical sites that Google will show. So figure out which ones they’re showing, figure out when they show, and then start getting a few reviews in each of these places.

Posts is a fascinating product to me because, again, this is the first time, in a significant way, that Google has given over control to front page, directly to small business. B&H Photo, I think, they are big toys for big boys kind of place. And they use it primarily for product announcements. And I go there, and I say, it’s like, “Oh, cool, they have this new product or that new product,” I’m one of those big boys. I don’t spend too much on toys, but I love looking at them. Anyways, I think that’s a great example of a new product, in your case, a new service, We’re bringing out a new service, and you’re not telling people they’ve gotta buy it. You’re not telling them what the price is, you’re just saying, “Hey, we have this new interesting thing,” and they use it much like Pinterest,

Now, Barbara Oliver uses it for storytelling. There’s an adage in writing that you’re supposed to show, not tell. She doesn’t say, “We sell engagement rings.” She doesn’t say the engagement ring is $2,400. She tells the story of this lovely couple having some romantic engagement in Central Park, you know…and that’s the story she tells. And they’re incredibly powerful at brand building.

And, then, this is interesting. Google introduced a product called Small Thanks, which is you type in your business into the product, they come up with your reviews from your Knowledge Panel, and they allow you to create a graphic of your reviews. And somebody mentioned this on Twitter, last week, and I thought it was a great idea. So they went out, and Matt McGee did this, friend, where he used that product, took the images from that product, integrated it with the Knowledge Panel on Social Proof. Another great use, I think, of Posts is to explore the storytelling around other people’s values.

Now, again, certainly, this doesn’t work for plastic surgery, it might, I don’t know, get 10% off a tummy tuck, or something? But certainly it might work in others. I think if you’re going to… This company, which was Bibbentuckers, is it’s a dry cleaner in Dallas, I thought did a very good job of dispersing coupons at a very low rate like 10% amongst a much bigger brand, storytelling process. So, it’s a call to action, it’s aggressive, it may or may not work, I mean, some of your clients, but if you’re going to do it, do it once in a while. Now, Mary Bowling had a great idea, and that is, that if you are doing it on the phone, you educate your customers. They call, you say, “Gee, did you know that you can pick up your coupon, just do a brand search at Google” and an increase in your quantity of brand searches at Google seems to help with rank, and you can use it as a way to deliver coupons to them.

And then, of course, you want to be measuring these things, I mean, I think Joel’s doing this, I think you guys are doing this. You can’t count on Google Metrics, but here’s one area where we can, actually, by using campaign codes, we can see actual click-throughs to the website and compare those so we can get a sense of, if Google is counting them all or not. Now, Joy, a couple of weeks ago, did this test and found that, again, I think due to the reason that Joel said, was that some of the low volumes, that Google was undercounting some of this. But, again, you want to measure it separately. Joel pointed out, I don’t know if you’re going to go into this, but that it didn’t seem to detract from clicks on your appointment link, It just was additive, so in that sense, it’s a very positive, positive thing.

Now, Google Q&A, from my point of view, is both the most interesting product because it’s crowdsourced, but huge problem, It could be the absolute worse nightmare of a business because this product is only, right now, only visible on mobile. You can’t see it on the desktop unless you spoof Chrome browser to be mobile, so businesses don’t even know that these are happening. I mean if you are logged in with Android, and you’re logged into that given GMB, you can get a notification, Android, but most businesses don’t know it’s happening.

And last week I was sitting, somebody asked me, “Well, how popular are these?” So I was waiting for my daughter at dinner at the table, and I did a search. I was in Brooklyn, I looked up doctors near me, three out of the five top doctors had Q&A on them, and two of them had this nasty-ass stuff on their…you know right front and center on Google, I mean, now what’s also interesting is these things are uploaded, and the ones that are uploaded a lot will show right on the Knowledge Panel, they won’t stay buried. But, if you follow what I think are best practices scenario, this can be a really positive thing. It’s much like any ground search thing, it’s like reviews, you can turn what potentially is a disastrous reputation situation into a really positive one.

So, again, with Barbara, here, I said to her I knew this…the day it came out I said, “Sit down with your staff and figure out the five or six questions you get every day on the phone. Let’s write them up in the customer’s voice, let’s post them out there in the customer’s voice, and let’s answer them in the business’ voice so that we seed a positive, feeling around these.” And we started answering the common questions so that, hopefully, we get fewer calls around questions and more calls around appointments, and so on. And she also sends her customers out to leave Google reviews. And what happened in this situation was that this particular customer had asked this question, she had answered it, but, Keith, here, took the time to not only leave her a review, but also answered this question. And he answered it in a way that she could never answer on her own behalf, So that, basically, he became her advocate on Google twice, not once.

So it can be a really positive thing. You want to, like I said, figure out the questions, plan them out, put them in the customer’s voice, get them written and get them up there to try to prevent these naysayers from dominating the conversation. And then the real issue is monitoring this, very difficult. Right now there are no tools to do this, so I just had to build a tool to do it. I’m building a scraping tool that should be available in Beta, the end of this week, beginning of next. And we’re going to be able to look at a range of businesses, scrape questions, scrape answers. Right now, the only way… you can spoof this on a desktop, it’s very difficult to monitor, otherwise, or have a mobile phone. It’s not easy. I know Joel says that his notifications are like going off in his pocket all the time, So I don’t know, how common is it in your industry, are you seeing a lot of these or no?

Man: Not so much.

Mike: So, but, you are seeing some?

Man: I’ve seen some.

Mike: And are they passive, aggressive, but…

Mike: Right, so those are kinds of questions that I think you can pre-answer and at least write the question in a way that is appropriate. And, then, you need to monitor them because I think it’s potentially a disaster.

So this page, can be segmented, and you can work on these over time, And you can help develop the story that’s being told top to bottom here. And, even this, there are products like Browshot, that will do a screenshot of the Knowledge Panel, or I think Locadium from Andrew Shotland’s company will, and you can do this, I think, with GMB API. You can monitor data changes on the accounts, now, So you can see data changes, but you might not be able to see visual changes. So I’m also developing a report that will show visual changes, last week to this week, for any given business in the Knowledge Panel.

But, so, the real question is this just a metaphor or is this a strategic view of the business, Does this brand search, is it just, Mike’s happy talk? Could be. Or is there more to it than that? when you stop to think about this, Google tests the bejesus out of every search result. They A/B, D/C, Z test everything, thousands of times, at scale. And, over time, what you’re seeing on this page, is what Google has determined consumers are looking for, reviews, photographs, phone numbers, posts from the business, homepage from the business, second page from the business. Google has measured this, tested this, and is now delivering on this result, those pages.

And these pages, to a large extent, one could say, “Well, only 25% of my insights show that they do a direct search instead of a keyword search. So, it’s only 25%.” I would contend, though, that not only has Google optimized it for the user, that what you’re seeing through this view of this business, is to a large extent, really, what Google has found about your business across the internet. That this view is Google’s summary of everything about that business, good, bad, and indifferent. And if you can help that story, there, you’re going to help it everywhere. And I think this is an incredible metric that you can actually show to your customer as a deliverable. “Here’s what your results look like, and here’s why it’s important.” It’s visual, it’s very easy to show. So I do think that it moves beyond just metaphor into both tactically, providing you a way to plot out how to improve the business identity and how to tell a better story, but, also, as a way of understanding whether your strategy’s being successful. But, okay, you always run the risk. Like I said, “Your sleeping in the room with the elephant,” it’s a tough spot to be.

In another research project I did, same time, same business, we interviewed every new customer that walked through the door during that same period I did the KPI study, So the KPI study said 90% were coming from Google, 70% were coming directly from the Knowledge Panel, the others were coming from elsewhere. So she was spending $20,000 a quarter on advertising, it was…well, actually, $15,000 on advertising and probably $5,000, $4,000 on everything else. The advertising was generating 9% of every new lead, Thirty-three percent, word of mouth, so here’s a…for any marketing company that isn’t addressing this segment, and in your businesses, it’s probably higher than 33%, She’s been very active on digital, she has a millennial population she deals with.

So I believe that every company that’s serious about marketing needs to move outside of their digital comfort zone into figuring out how to address this 33% because it’s the most valuable 33% that involves loyalty, email, customer experience issues. I don’t know how you address it in your business, but it’s critical. I mean, I mentioned a Local product that I thought was very intriguing from David Mihm, just an email for professionals, that’s one way to deal with it, there’s probably others. But the other 58% were interesting to me, She would say, “Well, how’d you find us?” And they’d say, “Well, we read about you.” And she’d say, “Where did you read about us?” And they’d say, “We read your reviews, read about ya.” But we know from our KPI study that 90% of these people, at least they ended up on Google. We don’t know if they started there, but they ended up on Google. So one way or the other, they saw this consistent story that she’s been building. It’s taken her seven years to build that at Google, but, somehow, they were responding to that in a very positive way.

So, I see this issue in terms of reputation, as well, and I think that many businesses have trouble measuring reputation and delivering on quality services day in and day out. So I see another way for us, as marketers, to move deeper into that business, is to figure out where these problems are for them, help them figure them out, and even help them solve. So I see that, that there’s a whole range of ways beyond… This also points out the inefficiency, to some extent, of AdWords, but there’s a whole range of services we need to be thinking about, that move beyond traditional SEO, traditional marketing, to help businesses really succeed.

David Mihm did this other brilliant graphic, I thought, which is he took the London Subway Map and turned it into a marketing journey, depending on where a business is at. So if you’re looking to understand what all the opportunities are, and you’re looking to educate yourself about how businesses slide in and where they sled out, slide into this, this is a great chart that you find at

So, Google is clearly focused on rolling these products out. And as Will pointed out, they, in their focus on scale are not going to be paying attention to your needs, your individual needs, your individual physician’s needs, and you have to be really careful. But in this incredible development process, I think there’s great opportunity to do more for your customers than you’ve ever done before.

You know I’m a research geek, you can read all the articles that went into my thinking at this URL. So I have a whole bibliography, both research and the…just the the development, so you’re welcome to read it there, so, thank you.