Google Places Marketing Experiment. First Results Are In! See What Happened to My Listing.

by Leads4Builders 48 replies

Hello Fellow Offliners,

Like many of you I was taken for a loop with this latest Google Update. I had a mini freak out because I have hundreds of Google Places listings and was nervous about how this new update would affect my clients. I guess that’s what I get for offering a service dependent on the whims of a search engine

I’ve been all over the WF, blogs, trying to find out as much as I can about how this massive Google change and what the future holds for us Offliners. I’m particularly interested in seeing how this Google change will affect those of us doing Google Places Marketing. It’s been a huge money maker for me and I loved the fact that there was no traditional SEO needed in order to dominate Google Places.

I know that everyone has their own theory, but I personally think that Google Places Marketing has changed forever. I believe traditional SEO is much more of a player now and that the days of getting quick and easy Google Places rankings are gone (for the most part).

But enough theory…. The only way to really know is to do some testing. I’m going to do a real live experiment and document my progress and findings right here on this thread. I’m going to use an actual website that is currently ranking on the first page of Google. I created a Google Places listing for it today.

We’re going to find out the following:
-How long it will take for the Google Places Listing to show up on the new SERP. It used to take a new listing 2-3 weeks . Let’s see how long it’ll take now.

-If the new Google Places listing will merge with the Organic Listing.

-How the organic ranking will be affected by the Google Places Listing.

-I purposefully created a stripped down Google Places Listing. The only optimization I did was add a keyword rich company name and a picture. No videos. I want to see if once the listing is merged, if it will continue to rank well. We’ll be able to truly see how important an optimized Google Places listing is in this new environment.


Website details:
-subdomain website Sacramento Smog, Sacramento Smog Check, Sacramento Smog Test, Smog Test in Sacramento, Sacramento Smog Test Only, Smog Check in Sacramento, Sacramento CA Smog, Sacramento CA Smog Check, Sacramento CA Smog Test, Smog Test, Smog Check

-Currently ranking 3rd on Google for sacramento smog

-Site is a little over a year old

-Only did a little bit of backlinking the first month…haven’t touched it since.

Google Places Details
Google Places link: Sacramento Smog Check - Google Maps

-I used a popular Sacramento physical address and a virtual phone #

-I will not promote this listing. No citations, maps, backlinks, no reviews, or photo sharing sites.

-The listing is not 100% complete.


I’m excited to see the results. I hope you will follow along and ask questions as we go. If you have any suggestions about this experiment, please post them here.

John Sanders
#offline marketing #experiment #google #google changes #google maps #google places #google places marketing #google serp #journal #live #marketing #places #video
Avatar of Unregistered
  • Profile picture of the author fushigi
    @leads4builders
    how can your experiment be accurate if you're listing is not 100% complete and you do no citiations, or promotions?
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2800410].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author jsherloc
      Originally Posted by fushigi View Post

      @leads4builders
      how can your experiment be accurate if you're listing is not 100% complete and you do no citiations, or promotions?
      He explained in the video that he is doing this test to see if it will merge with the organic listing, and due the organic listing's SEO, age, etc...he is assuming it will make the Places page rank high as well.

      Good stuff, love seeing this type of experimenting on the WF.

      - Jim
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2800418].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author Leads4Builders
        Originally Posted by jsherloc View Post

        He explained in the video that he is doing this test to see if it will merge with the organic listing, and due the organic listing's SEO, age, etc...he is assuming it will make the Places page rank high as well.

        Good stuff, love seeing this type of experimenting on the WF.

        - Jim
        Thanks Jim...that's exactly right. I believe that the Google Places Listing, regardless of how well it's optimized, will merge with the organic listing and piggy back off the organic listing's ranking. I could be wrong, but no one knows for sure, so I want to experiment to find out more.

        How does the merging occur? How long does it take? What affects the ranking more...The organic ranking or how well the Google Places listing is optimized? I'm sure there are several other factors outside of what I'm doing for this experiment, but I'm hoping this example will help answer some of those questions, or at least help us understand more...I'm not claiming that this will solve the riddle.

        I hope that makes sense.

        This merging of Google Places and Organic placement kind of turned everything upside down. Off to bed now.
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2800439].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author fushigi
    Thanks for clarifying, got it now. Should've watched the video first!
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2800642].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author SirThomas
    Let's hope nobody comes up with an idea to backlink the hell out of those listings when you're not watching!


    Thomas
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2800651].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Leads4Builders
      Originally Posted by SirThomas View Post

      Let's hope nobody comes up with an idea to backlink the hell out of those listings when you're not watching!


      Thomas
      I thought about that possibility, but I have faith that there are more people on this forum who want to learn than there are people who would waste their time and energy creating tons of backlnks in order to sabotage this kind of experiment.

      I just get tired of people talking and speculating about what they think is going to happen with this new Google update. I wanted to be as open as possible and share the results with everyone. I will be sharing these results as they happen, so I hope we can all discuss the results together and actually learn something by following a real live example.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2801424].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author PaulintheSticks
        Thanks for sharing this Leads. Look forward to see what happens.
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2801633].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author WandaW
        Thanks for doing this John. I think we should learn a lot from your experiment.
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2801650].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author SirThomas
        Originally Posted by Leads4Builders View Post

        I just get tired of people talking and speculating about what they think is going to happen with this new Google update. I wanted to be as open as possible and share the results with everyone. I will be sharing these results as they happen, so I hope we can all discuss the results together and actually learn something by following a real live example.
        John, I agree and appreciate your effort. I test different variants all the time and my major problems is... I test Google behavior :-)

        Even Google guys don't know which elements will be important 3 months from now, so the best you can do is keep on testing. What you learn in your first experiment might have very little value in your next try.

        The current version of Google search is not final. Nothing with Google search is final.

        There was even a possibility that different algo is being used for different industries... for example in some industries "reviews" would have a great impact on listing's rank, but with others not so...

        I just suggest to build links and keep creating references for your listings. and never forget Google's own tools and properties. They don't spent billions of dollars, because they're bored...


        Thomas
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2801914].message }}
        • Profile picture of the author Leads4Builders
          Agreed! The testing can never stop. I just hope this experiment will give a small dose of what Google has in store and will let us at least see what is possible. Trust me, I know things change daily and there's no way we can know everything.

          I plan on keeping this experiment open and make tweaks and changes to both the listing and website as long as there is interest. I'm donating this website and listing so we can make this thread our own Google Places laboratory.

          Originally Posted by SirThomas View Post

          John, I agree and appreciate your effort. I test different variants all the time and my major problems is... I test Google behavior :-)

          Even Google guys don't know which elements will be important 3 months from now, so the best you can do is keep on testing. What you learn in your first experiment might have very little value in your next try.

          The current version of Google search is not final. Nothing with Google search is final.

          There was even a possibility that different algo is being used for different industries... for example in some industries "reviews" would have a great impact on listing's rank, but with others not so...

          I just suggest to build links and keep creating references for your listings. and never forget Google's own tools and properties. They don't spent billions of dollars, because they're bored...


          Thomas
          {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2802142].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author 4morereferrals
    I just suggest to build links and keep creating references for your listings. and never forget Google's own tools and properties. They don't spent billions of dollars, because they're bored...
    SirT...

    do you mean references as "citations"? or ...? what is meant by the term references in the quoted paragrpah?

    thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts ...
    Signature
    Rank Ascend Network - High PR Links / Guaranteed Rankings Increase
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2801924].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author SirThomas
      Originally Posted by 4morereferrals View Post

      SirT...

      do you mean references as "citations"? or ...? what is meant by the term references in the quoted paragrpah?

      thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts ...
      Yes, it's basically the same, with one difference. "Citations" usually meant the entire business info including name, address and phone. Reference means "full info" or ANY element of it.

      In other words, you don't always need full company info for Google to notice it. Those "incomplete" citations might not appear in your "more about this place" section, but they may add some invisible power to your listings :-)


      Hope it helps,

      Thomas
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2801954].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Boogaloo
    Hey John,

    I too will be following this thread closely, an interesting experiment. From the little research Ive done over the last few days it certainly appears to me that the on site optimisation is now a bigger factor for the new results.

    But I still feel a well optimised G places page will help give you a higher pin placing than without.

    Maybe that would be the next step in the test?

    Thanks for the insights

    Jules
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2805055].message }}
    • Hey John

      Looking forward to seeing how the "penny" drops with the GP listings and the organic changes that Google have rolled out.

      Thanks for taking the time to share the thoughts and ideas.

      Regards

      Bronwyn and Keith
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2805076].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Leads4Builders
      I'm actually talking to another warrior right now who will be doing a fully optimized Google Place
      Listing. Stay tuned...

      Originally Posted by Boogaloo View Post

      Hey John,

      I too will be following this thread closely, an interesting experiment. From the little research Ive done over the last few days it certainly appears to me that the on site optimisation is now a bigger factor for the new results.

      But I still feel a well optimised G places page will help give you a higher pin placing than without.

      Maybe that would be the next step in the test?

      Thanks for the insights

      Jules
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2805201].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author adriver38
        Hey John, Thank you so much for doing this experiment! This is going to be such a help to all of us with Google Places clients who have been wondering about the same theories you will be testing. Im with you in thinking that organic SEO will likely be of much more importance now as well. This could be such a "game changer" as far as what we do to get Google Place Listings ranked, not to mention what we charge the clients. Im really excited to see what happens

        Amanda
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2806510].message }}
      • Hey John

        That would be cool as a lot of us are doing GP now and an independant case study would be awesome.

        Regards

        Bronwyn and Keith
        Originally Posted by Leads4Builders View Post

        I'm actually talking to another warrior right now who will be doing a fully optimized Google Place
        Listing. Stay tuned...
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2808735].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author stelogo
    Originally Posted by Leads4Builders View Post


    -I used a popular Sacramento physical address and a virtual phone #
    John, what do you mean by "popular"?

    Looking forward to your findings.
    Signature
    Steve Goltiao
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2813948].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Leads4Builders
      Originally Posted by stelogo View Post

      John, what do you mean by "popular"?

      Looking forward to your findings.
      Great question. I used the address of a popular hotel in sacramento. Picking an office building or hotel address in the city I want to rank for has worked great for me.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2815954].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author KeywordMarketer
        Originally Posted by Leads4Builders View Post

        I used the address of a popular hotel in sacramento. Picking an office building or hotel address in the city I want to rank for has worked great for me.
        Thanks for that tip John, but what do you do if Google removes the phone and SMS verification option and only offers the mail option?

        I've had that happen on more than one occasion.

        Thnx in anticipation.
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2817398].message }}
        • Profile picture of the author Leads4Builders
          As long as you use a virtual phone #, it shouldn't associate the # with the address. I've always gotten the option for phone verification doing it this way. If you ge the mail or sms verification only option, you'll have to pick another address. You shouldn't have a problem though.





          Originally Posted by KeywordMarketer View Post

          Thanks for that tip John, but what do you do if Google removes the phone and SMS verification option and only offers the mail option?

          I've had that happen on more than one occasion.

          Thnx in anticipation.
          {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2817896].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author John W.G.
    You say you used a popular Sacramento physical address.

    So you're saying that you used a different address than the true physical address of the business?
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2821383].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Leads4Builders
      There is no business. I have a website ranking for sacramento smog. I had to pick an address in Sacramento (a hotel) and get a virtual phone # in order to create the Google Places page.

      Originally Posted by John W.G. View Post

      You say you used a popular Sacramento physical address.

      So you're saying that you used a different address than the true physical address of the business?
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2821486].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author John W.G.
        got ya, thank you

        Originally Posted by Leads4Builders View Post

        There is no business. I have a website ranking for sacramento smog. I had to pick an address in Sacramento (a hotel) and get a virtual phone # in order to create the Google Places page.
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2821547].message }}
        • Profile picture of the author Abul-Hussain
          Friends, I can report a result: my first page organic listing has been combined with the places listing on Google.co.uk

          I have seen the same happen with other competing websites that had a first page organic listing and didn't have their google places listing show up in the 7 box previously.
          Signature
          Author | Speaker | Digital Marketing Coach

          I help ordinary people achieve extraordinary results online. Get in touch to see how we can help you build a 6 figure business.
          {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2822395].message }}
          • Profile picture of the author Leads4Builders
            Originally Posted by Abul-Hussain View Post

            Friends, I can report a result: my first page organic listing has been combined with the places listing on Google.co.uk

            I have seen the same happen with other competing websites that had a first page organic listing and didn't have their google places listing show up in the 7 box previously.
            Nice...that's what I'm thinking will happen with Smog site. I believe the GP listing will merge with the organic listing. I'm seeing it happen with several clients now.
            {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2823558].message }}
      • Originally Posted by Leads4Builders View Post

        There is no business. I have a website ranking for sacramento smog. I had to pick an address in Sacramento (a hotel) and get a virtual phone # in order to create the Google Places page.
        Mailbox plus addresses or any postal forwarding address work well. They are is almost every major city. Or you can just look up "virtual offices"... This is how we personally rank many of our CPA offers in GP.
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2824428].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author stelogo
    John, have you seen any evidence of businesses in the new Places listings that were previously ranked poorly in the organic results?

    Just curious as I want to offer Places service but was wondering if I would have to get the client to the equivalent of first page organic rankings in order to place in Places.
    Signature
    Steve Goltiao
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2824165].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Leads4Builders
      That's the question we're hoping this experiment will help answer. Having said that, observing what's happening with my clients, it really depends how competitive the keywords are. Some less competitive keywords are still easy to rank for and Google still displays the 7 box. I personally think that in order to rank for competitive keywords, you'll have to have good seo and google places optimization. So overall, I think in order to get the best results you should do both.

      Originally Posted by stelogo View Post

      John, have you seen any evidence of businesses in the new Places listings that were previously ranked poorly in the organic results?

      Just curious as I want to offer Places service but was wondering if I would have to get the client to the equivalent of first page organic rankings in order to place in Places.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2825149].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author stelogo
        Originally Posted by Leads4Builders View Post

        That's the question we're hoping this experiment will help answer. Having said that, observing what's happening with my clients, it really depends how competitive the keywords are. Some less competitive keywords are still easy to rank for and Google still displays the 7 box. I personally think that in order to rank for competitive keywords, you'll have to have good seo and google places optimization. So overall, I think in order to get the best results you should do both.
        I understand that you'll need both a good places page in addition to SEO. Your experiment is testing whether a site with current top rankings will merge with its places page.

        What I'm asking is if you already have a well optimized places page, what do you think would be the minimum organic ranking you would need to achieve top rankings in Places. Essentially it would be the opposite of what you are testing.

        I've personally seen Places listings with virtually zero on/off page SEO ranking in position A-G. One of the sites is actually a parked domain.

        I'm just trying to figure out if this is an anomoly or a loophole??
        Signature
        Steve Goltiao
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2826451].message }}
        • Profile picture of the author Leads4Builders
          It really depends on the competition of the keywords you're going after. Yes, you can still get your Google Places listings to rank very easily for suburbs or small cities without having to do seo on a website. But it you're going after a large metro area, you will have a harder time getting your places page ranked without doing seo, because most of the top listings will have a GP listing and a fairly well optimized website. I don't think there's a loophole, just more competition for certain keywords and metro areas. So why not play it safe and do both? It seems to be the way Google is headed. You can charge clients more for the additional work. That's what I'm doing

          Originally Posted by stelogo View Post

          I understand that you'll need both a good places page in addition to SEO. Your experiment is testing whether a site with current top rankings will merge with its places page.

          What I'm asking is if you already have a well optimized places page, what do you think would be the minimum organic ranking you would need to achieve top rankings in Places. Essentially it would be the opposite of what you are testing.

          I've personally seen Places listings with virtually zero on/off page SEO ranking in position A-G. One of the sites is actually a parked domain.

          I'm just trying to figure out if this is an anomoly or a loophole??
          {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2826545].message }}
          • Profile picture of the author adriver38
            Hey John, will you be doing on and off site SEO with backlinks and everything for clients? Or just on page optimization with meta tags, alt text ect?
            {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2827036].message }}
            • Profile picture of the author Leads4Builders
              Yes...for sure. That way you're covering all your bases and can expect the best results

              Originally Posted by adriver38 View Post

              Hey John, will you be doing on and off site SEO with backlinks and everything for clients? Or just on page optimization with meta tags, alt text ect?
              {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2827385].message }}
              • Profile picture of the author Leads4Builders
                Hey Everyone....I guess quick GP rankings aren't dead after all! Here's an actual client of mine that got ranked for several foreclosure keywords today. Nothing better that seeing your clients dominating Google:

                {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2851238].message }}
                • Profile picture of the author Leads4Builders
                  Alright Everyone....the Google Places Listing got indexed. It took a little over 2 weeks for Google to display the listing. That's about par for the course. Before the big update, a brand new listing like this would've taken 2-3 weeks to show up.

                  A couple of really interesting things happened.. Watch the video and let me know your thoughts.

                  {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2874009].message }}
                  • Hi John

                    Looks promising.

                    We would expect that it will slowly merge with the organics as you add the other pieces to the puzzle such as the citations and links that you spoke about.

                    Will be interesting to see how the experiment pans out.

                    Regards

                    Bronwyn and Keith
                    Originally Posted by Leads4Builders View Post

                    Alright Everyone....the Google Places Listing got indexed. It took a little over 2 weeks for Google to display the listing. That's about par for the course. Before the big update, a brand new listing like this would've taken 2-3 weeks to show up.

                    A couple of really interesting things happened.. Watch the video and let me know your thoughts.

                    YouTube - Sacramento Smog Update 11_15
                    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2874145].message }}
                    • Profile picture of the author ferriswannabe
                      Leads,

                      What happened with this experiment?
                      Signature

                      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3201083].message }}
                      • Profile picture of the author Leads4Builders
                        Originally Posted by ferriswannabe View Post

                        Leads,

                        What happened with this experiment?
                        Hey,

                        Unfortunately the combination of the Holidays and having a baby got me off track. The listing still hasn't merged with the organic listing. I'm sure if I were to optimize the listing a little more and make some tweaks on the site it would probably merge.
                        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3208075].message }}
                        • Profile picture of the author ferriswannabe
                          Well...a baby will do that. Congratulations to you. Got three of kids of my own.

                          If you don't mind, since it seems you have experience with using places with affiliate stuff. Obviously, you use different emails for your accounts, but do you create these yourself from one IP. I always worry about multiple accounts and multiple gmail's from the same IP.

                          How do you go about it? Should I even worry about this?
                          Signature

                          {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3208167].message }}
                          • Profile picture of the author Leads4Builders
                            Originally Posted by ferriswannabe View Post

                            Well...a baby will do that. Congratulations to you. Got three of kids of my own.

                            If you don't mind, since it seems you have experience with using places with affiliate stuff. Obviously, you use different emails for your accounts, but do you create these yourself from one IP. I always worry about multiple accounts and multiple gmail's from the same IP.

                            How do you go about it? Should I even worry about this?
                            Yeah...we just had our 4th. It's pure craziness!

                            I have my guys create different google accounts using this vpn/proxy Hide My Ass! Pro VPN Tunnel - VPN servers world-wide . You can also go to fiverr or mturk and have them create accounts for you. I've done that before as well and it works great.

                            Let me know if you have any other questions.
                            {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3215132].message }}
                            • Profile picture of the author Sparkreflection
                              Originally Posted by Leads4Builders View Post

                              Yeah...we just had our 4th. It's pure craziness!
                              Congratulations! I wish you to enjoy your entire family!

                              Can you tell me please how could you verify your Google Places account using a virtual phone number and a physical address were you didn't have access? Thank you very much!
                              {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3223501].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author zenmack
    What I find amazing is that your site is #3 and it's not even finished or complete. How? I keep battling to rank my site:

    Sacramento Personal Trainer

    I made it to page 3 and the new google thing dropped me off and down a page.

    I see your using all Anchor test links within the pages. They seem to be keyword optimized also.

    Are you using a ton of backlinks?

    Also I will be following your video.
    Signature

    The worlds best dating coach
    http://zenmack.com

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2824286].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Leads4Builders
      You know what's crazy is that I created this site over a year ago and only did some backlinking the first month. I haven't touched it since. I think having a keyword rich domain and decent on page seo carries a lot more weight than some people think. I have several other sites with great organic rankings that I haven't promoted in years.

      Originally Posted by zenmack View Post

      What I find amazing is that your site is #3 and it's not even finished or complete. How? I keep battling to rank my site:

      Sacramento Personal Trainer

      I made it to page 3 and the new google thing dropped me off and down a page.

      I see your using all Anchor test links within the pages. They seem to be keyword optimized also.

      Are you using a ton of backlinks?

      Also I will be following your video.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2825191].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author stelogo
        Originally Posted by Leads4Builders View Post

        You know what's crazy is that I created this site over a year ago and only did some backlinking the first month. I haven't touched it since. I think having a keyword rich domain and decent on page seo carries a lot more weight than some people think. I have several other sites with great organic rankings that I haven't promoted in years.
        I agree 100%.
        Signature
        Steve Goltiao
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2826453].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author humbledmarket
    Banned
    Congrats on your Baby, family should always come before business. I am very interested in this though; I might try it myself if I enter the offline market
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3228189].message }}
Avatar of Unregistered

Trending Topics