This is our Deep Dive Into Local from July 9th, 2018. 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: Hi. Welcome to Deep Dive into Local. This week, we have myself, Mary Bowling, and Carrie Hill. We’re going headless, and be showing you a screen view of Google’s new queries used to find your business feature, a new Insight feature from Google My Business. So I’m going to start by giving a quick tour of the product, and then we can talk about some of the details.
So it shows up in Google Insights as the second card under the “How customers search for your business.” This is Barbara Oliver. Notice she had a total of 7,161 searches, one presumes, but I have not validated that these queries used to find the business equal that number, give or take. They are ordered in order by frequency, and you can see obviously brand searches are largest, but then you can start seeing keyword searches here as well.
They are organized 10 to a page. They allow you to look at either one month or one week’s worth of that. There’s no 90-day look back. And there is no spreadsheet download. So if you want to analyze these, you have to literally copy and paste each page. As you move through these, you’ll see, as we get down to a 10, 10 is the last number that give you details. And then they switch to alphabetical order where they then show you all of the ones that are less than 10 in of a quarter. Obviously, some are between one and nine on all of these, and there are a lot of them. In her case, 420 or 430 of them have less than 10 words only, , 35 or so have more than 10. It’s, from where I sit, a useful feature. I’ll be curious on your thoughts on how a business or an agency might use these on behalf of a client. Open-ended question, anybody could answer.
Carrie: Go ahead, Mary.
Mary: So Carrie mentioned that she saw some competitors’ names in here, and I’m wondering where do you think that’s showing up, that people are searching for the competitor and seeing Barbara Oliver in the organic results or…?
Mike: Well, no, I think what’s happening is people also search for, and those show up in two places, on the knowledge panel, at the bottom of the knowledge panel, and then at the bottom of organic, there’s a carousel typically of locations. So something like Andrews Jewelers, which is one of Barbara’s competitors. I think she shows up on their knowledge panel, and they show up on hers, and then she shows up on the bottom of the organic page. So either of those two places I think is where they’re likely coming from.
Carrie: Do you think that this is aggregating paid, like, AdWords Express in, or do you think it’s only organic?
Mike: Well, when you say only organic, you mean only knowledge panel or do you mean…?
Carrie: Yeah, only knowledge panel, only organic local.
Mike: Local, right, so three pack local finder, etc. Well, historically, these numbers have included AdWords Express results and AdWords with location extension. So historically, these numbers have included that. So one would presume that there is some overlap, but that’s a great question, and is yet to be verified.
Mary: That’s another way that you could show up for your competitors’ names is by bidding on them.
Mike: Yes, if that’s the case, then you’re absolutely right, you can be bidding on your competitors’ names. A couple of other interesting observations, one, they did release a public support document for it. And let me just bring this up so you can see it a little better. And here it’s the section, firstly, how customer find your listing, and then search queries. What I thought was interesting was this little help window at the bottom. “Now that what queries your customer is using, get started with post or ads to capitalize on what ,” which brings us, , bring…well, first couple observations before I get there. One is that while Google does seem to show geo modifiers, geo modifiers do not show up very often, like in the first 20. I think here is the first one at 26, first time we see a geo modifier.
So what that implies to me is that far and away, the biggest…these are non-geo modified searches that Google is delivering these results without people indicating where they want the results from. The second interesting, , point of interest to me is the frequency of the use of the word “near me” in the searches, much more frequent than any geo modifiers we see in the top 15 “near me.” There’s another one 16, another one at 18, another one at 20, so whatever that is, 6 and the top 20 have near me where only 1 in the top 25 has a geo modifier associated with it. I find that to be a fascinating reflection of users acclimatizing to a mobile largely, and Google getting better at identifying location so that users are happier with Google results without geo modification.
Carrie: I think that’s also a byproduct of search suggest as well, in my opinion. I think that whenever you’d search for something, Google suggests that thing “near me” as a query as well. I think that’s a piece of it.
Mike: Yeah, but how would you explain the lack of geo modified queries?
Mary: Because I don’t see them suggesting geo modified queries for the most part. Like, if I type in “coffee shop,” the suggestion is “coffee shop near me.”
Mike: Right. But it means that users are satisfied without that geo modifier. To dialectic, Google’s trained users, users have gotten used to it. And now, on a post-pigeon era where obviously 60% or 70% of these searches are occurring on mobile, Google really knows where you’re located fairly precisely, and does a decent job at delivering it without the use of geo modifiers.
Mary: But the flipside of that is that if I search for jewelers and I get people that are in Denver instead of close by, then I’m going to go back and ask for them. I’m going to modify my search and add “near me” to it.
Carrie: Well, or, like, I just typed in “coffee shop” in my options. My search suggest options were, the first one is “near me.” The second one is Denver. Third Boulder. Fourth is Fort Collins. And the last one is open lake. Well, I live four hours from Denver, Boulder, or Fort Collins.
Mike: Right. But typically, what will happen if you start that search on mobile like on an iPhone, Google will ask you if they can use your actual location to finish the search. At least on the iPhone, you then give it permission which point those search results improve. So there’s a process that Google drives the user to better understand their location as well. And I would suggest that the lack of geo modifiers here indicate that that process is working, I mean, for the most part.
Carrie: It kind of counteracts what John Moon said, like, what was it, like a month ago where he said “near me” searches are dying and nobody uses it anymore, and Andrew Shovlin I think wrote a rebuttal of that, like, “Ah, no, it’s not.”
Mike: Right. I mean, Google’s messaging on that has shifted. So a couple of years ago, “near me” searches were increasing. And then there was a period where they started to decline about a year ago, or 18 months ago. And then about a year ago, I noticed that they had started increasing again. So if you go into Google Trends and you go drive into a given market, into a given sub area and search on it with or without “near me,” you can see “near me” in markets as largely increasing. And Google’s messaging on this which originally caught the downturn is only starting to just now change. They had a webinar the other day where they talked about “near me” going back up again.
So it’s one of these things where their knowledge across the organization hasn’t quite caught up with reality or Google’s most current messaging on it, because I went to a webinar or a seminar where Google were speaking and they also made the comment that “near me” was dropping when in fact, they are on the rise once again. And you can see that if you go into Google Trends. It’s really fascinating to dig into a given market and pick any market, let’s just say Orlando. Hang on. Let me get there and I’ll show you what I’m talking about. Oops.
Okay. So if you do a search on “near me,” and then drill into a given geography, so that the search is…and you drill into a specific category. Let’s just say shopping so that we’re talking about the kinds of searches that we typically are interested in. So we’re going to drill into shopping, and then we’re going to drill into a specific marketplace. Like I said, let’s take Orlando. And in that…so there’s “near me.” You can see the drop right here where Google made this proclamation that they’re in fact dropping. And now you can see the gradual increase again. And I checked this across multiple markets over a fair bit of time. And you see this trend is pretty consistent across most retail.
You can see it here. There was this downtick, but then it’s come back up again just over a longer frame. And this is true on most markets. So “near me” is…it could be because of auto suggest. It could also be because of voice search.
Carrie: For sure.
Mike: So I was thinking about, sort of, strategically using these. Tell me what you think of this, both of you, because you guys do a lot of this. I was thinking that if you went in as an agency or a business, scraped off these and bucketed them. So jewelry store, jewelry stores, jewelry store near me became one bucket. Jewelers near me, jewelers and jewelers, whatever. And then created your bucket with these keywords. And then, identified perhaps. And then did correlated research with AdWords to understand where perhaps a lower volume buckets might have high value, and try to get an understanding from keyword tools and AdWords understand how competitive they are. And then start targeting some of those like Google says with Google Posts or with homepage content and links to internal post of your own. What do you think of that as, sort of, a way to start leveraging in these?
Mary: I think it’s a good idea. And I think you can also look at it. And even if you only get one search on a particular exact match, if you have a bucket of 20 terms that are very similar to each other even if they’re very long tail, you can start creating blog content or pages or services, service pages about those.
Mike: Right. So here’s an example of series on antiques, antique diamond rings, antique jewelry, antique jewelry, antique jewelry near me, as something that Barbara has never really focused on. She has focused a lot on jewelry appraisals. I can understand why antique appraisers are showing up. But some of these are more about antique jewelry, might be an interest, assuming she has antique jewelry, would be an interesting area to explore. obviously, there’s quite a few of these.
Mary: Yeah, that could bring a lot of traffic.
Mike: And the high-value traffic as well.
Carrie: Right. It’d be interesting to look at these numbers and what keywords got the majority of the searches according to this, and then scroll down and look at the geographic map where you can go by ZIP Code and, look at, what are the most popular ZIP Codes or directions. , this is directions, but it, kind of, gives you an idea of where people are coming from. I always tell people who are setting up AdWords Express or a really local AdWords to look at these ZIP Codes and these regional city names, these are where your customers are coming from.
So you take those words and create hyperlocal ad campaigns pointed at the locations that are requesting your information the most. And would that increase your conversion rate? Because you’re really, kind of, locking into those very specific locations for these very specific long-term keywords, like, antique wedding rings and these three ZIP Codes or something like that. That’d be an interesting approach too as well.
Mike: That would be. The other interesting approach related to Google Posts would be to take one of these, like you said, long tail buckets and focus on them with Google Posts, and see if you can… obviously, it’s hard to know relative to the total, but to see if you can move them from an aggregated less than 10 count to a greater number. If you’re just using something like Google Posts to see if, in fact, it did allow you to show up more on those terms.
Carrie: Can you change the timeframe for these keywords, Mike, up the top, so can you say one week?
Mike: All it allows you to do is one week, one month, very limited ability to…
Carrie: One week though would be interesting, because one week, because your post expire every seven days. So if you knew what the most popular buckets were for a seven-day period of time, that would help you correlate to what would be the most impactful on Posts.
Mike: Yeah. It gets a little weird though because this is not dated, and this is I think typically three days behind. I don’t know if these queries, like, if you… Here’s an interesting question. If you switch back to the old view, I don’t think these queries download when you actually do a download right now. They’re not available for download unfortunately, whereas a lot of this other data is available in download form.
Mary: Well, maybe they’re working on that, but the big question I have is why this gift local SEOs and not to the entire SEO world?
Carrie: I have three letters…
Mary: , and are they going to take it away from us?
Carrie: This is… I’ll bucket people to buy ads, in my opinion. That’s what I’m thinking.
Mary: Uh-huh. , and that could very well be. If you can’t rank for engagement rings and there’s 25 people looking for you, then maybe you’d better start advertising on them.
Carrie: That seems like a mechanism for that for sure. It’s interesting that in Google Analytics, they take all our keyword data away. But then they, sort of, give it back in search console, and now they give it back in or give it to us in My Business. I think that they realize when they took our organic keywords away, they, sort of, took away a little bit of an incentive from us to understand what keywords we were ranking for or getting attracted for and which ones we weren’t needed to buy. So it’s an interesting thought process.
Mary: I know in all the years of doing local SEO, it’s become very clear to me that the fat head terms, , that you really don’t, for most small local business, you don’t really need to think beyond the fat head terms, because that is where the majority of their traffic is coming from. But in competitive industries, if you can use a tool like this to target those mid tail and longer tail terms a little bit better, it would really help you.
Carrie: Well, and the idea like Mike had of creating the buckets. So antique jewelry is probably not a fat head term. But if you can aggregate together the information for, 7 to 10 antique jewelry terms, then that makes it almost a fat head. Do what I mean? So there’s like, there’s the single query of fat head terms, but then there’s the fat buckets of terms that I think could be profitable as well.
Mike: Yeah. Like, just these five, or six, or seven, whatever it is, right there. Antique diamond engagement rings, antique diamond rings, antique jewelry, antique jewelry appraisal, antique jewelry, just having a page on that where you cover this might be valuable, assuming, again, it’s a product that she actually wants to be in.
Some of these could be… What’s hard to know, and without doing further research in, say, AdWords, would be the opportunities that you might have, which is why you’d want to bucket these and then compare them to both frequency and competition and, , with a tool like AdWords Express. I mean, this best man’s wedding bands seems like a high-profit opportunity well-selling diamond rings, wouldn’t it?
Mary: It could also give you an opportunity to, kind of, slam competitors. Like, I saw best cheap engagement rings. Well, I can envision several ads that I could put out there saying, “Do you really want to buy her the cheapest engagement ring?”
Mike: Yeah, that’s a good question. It looks like it’ll be a valuable tool. I mean, I think its value would be increased particularly if there was a download function would just make analysis much easier as it is. , if there’s only 10 per page, makes 46 pages, that’s a lot of work to get this into a spreadsheet.
Mary: However, right now, I think it might be worth doing it.
Mike: I think you’re right. And the other side of it too is, I mean, there’s really two buckets here, bucket one is greater than 10, which is much smaller, it’s only 30. That’s fairly trivial. But I think the value to be found, , assuming that we’ve already optimized around those, is there may be value to be found in, , nuggets in the less than 10 for sure. I think a lot of them can be thrown away, but some of them would be valuable. Useful tool, interesting tool.
I think, , from what I can gather in terms of its release is, assuming they don’t find major problems with it in terms of privacy or other technical issues, quality, it should slowly start appearing. It could take three to six months before it’s seen broadly. If you remember back to Google websites, that was first visible in January, didn’t show up until June. So there’s a six-month timeframe between first sightings and release. So they do a lot of testing.
Carrie: Or they decide not to do much testing, or at least not asking the right people questions like the Agency Dashboard. It’s like, “Here, it’s a mess but have it.”
Mike: I think they ask big agencies on that one. I think that was available to the likes of Dex and those folks earlier.
Mike: So any other comments about queries?
Mary: No, but I think we should think about revisiting it in four to six months, see what’s happening.
Carrie: For sure.
Mike: And if you want, just as a note, if you’d like to add one or two locations, I’d be glad to bring them into my panel, and you can then see what we have for them.
Carrie: All right. Thank you.
Mike: All right. So with that, we’re going to wrap up this Deep Dive “Queries used to find your business,” Google’s newest Insight tool. Thanks for joining us. Bye-bye.
Mary: Thanks, everyone.
Carrie: Bye, all.