The New Google Local Search Display

In early August 2015, Google released a new local search display format that will have a major impact on local businesses. The update was not a change in local search ranking factors, but rather a change in the way local business information is displayed on the search engine results page (SERP).
In the past, Google displayed a variety of organic and local results. Typically, seven local results (the “7-Pack”) were shown, depending on the location and search inquiry. Following this recent update, however, we are now seeing only three local results (the “3-Pack” or “Snack Pack“).

Searchers do have the option to click for more results, but this additional step will likely have a negative impact on local businesses ranked in positions 4–7.
Another significant change is the increase in the number of ads showing above the fold on mobile results. While this doesn’t specifically apply to local mobile results, it’s sure to impact search visibility for local businesses by pushing the 3-pack below the

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Mapquest Gets A New Look And Logo

Mapquest has introduced a new look and a new retro-chic, 1970s-style logo. The changes are part of a series of upgrades begun prior to the Verizon-AOL acquisition and are largely a result of a new Mapquest partnership with Mapbox.
The promised and enhanced features include or will include:

A faster, more responsive Mapquest.com for mobile and desktop.
New tablet experience to leverage Mapquest’s fastest-growing platform.
New mobile experiences, including enhanced features for urban users.
The intersection of content and utility will continue in all Mapquest consumer products with top partners such Priceline.com, OpenTable, SeatGeek and more.

Below are screenshots of the previous Mapquest UI (top) and the new one (bottom). The query results displayed are for “hotels NYC.”
The new UI is generally cleaner and more visually appealing than the old one. Category buttons are more obvious, and local listings content and individual business information are better presented. These enhancements are mirrored on the company’s new mobile website, as well.

While these changes represent aesthetic

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PhantomALERT: Waze Stole Our Database And Sold It To Google For $1 Billion

Traffic violation-avoidance app maker PhantomALERT has sued Waze/Google for copyright violations and related claims. The company contends that Waze stole its points of interest (POI) database after partnership negotiations broke down between the two companies.
Google is named in the suit only as the legal owner of and successor to Waze. No specific Google wrongdoing is alleged. The plaintiff is asking for, among other things, compensatory and punitive damages.
Here are the critical facts according to the complaint (embedded below):
Only July 30, 2102, Noam Bardin, the CEO of Waze, sent Yoseph Seyoum, the CEO of PhantomALERT, an email with a proposal to cooperate in the operation of their respective GPS-mapping companies.
Later that same day, Bardin and Seyoum spoke by telephone. During the call, Bardin proposed that Waze and PhantomALERT exchange their respective Points of Interest databases. Because Waze did not appear to have substantial data to share, Seyoum declined Bardin’s offer.
After Seyoum rejected Bardin’s offer to exchange databases … 

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Google Maps “Explore” Adds Curated Recommendations, New Features

Google is adding more content, filters and personalization to the “Explore” feature in Google Maps for Android in the US and UK. In several markets to start (SF, NYC and London) Google says you’ll get new “curated recommendations” about nearby dining options:
Once you pick the category that suits your craving, you can see in-depth details about each location. Swipe through photos, get details (family-friendly? quick bite?), and check out ratings and reviews from Google and other diners. And for select spots, you also discover why it may be particularly relevant to you: for example, Google Maps may recommend a place that’s popular with other diners who visited a place you’ve been to in the past.
Explore translates what would otherwise be a more conventional and somewhat cumbersome query in a box experience (“sushi, San Francisco”) into a more mobile-friendly discovery capability tapping into high-intent local browsing. Google previously said that searches that use the keywords “nearby” or “near

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Mount McKinley Becomes Mt. Denali On Google Maps; Bing Stays With Old Name

Denali in 1996, by Danny Sullivan
North America’s highest mountain has been restored to its native name of Denali, as announced by US President Barack Obama. The peak had been known as Mount McKinley since 1917.
The move has sparked some political debate, especially among Ohioan politicians who view it as a slight against Ohio native William McKinley, who was the 25th president of the United States. Alaskan politicians had been pushing for the change.
I was curious how quickly our major search engines may have changed the name on their mapping services. As it turns out, Google’s already switched over:

On Google Maps, the peak is listed as “Mt Denali.” A search for the official name of “Denali” won’t find it, but “Mount Denali,” “Mt Denali” and even “Mount McKinley” will.
On Bing Maps, it’s still the old name that appears:

A search for “Mt Denali” will find the mountain but shows the Mount McKinley name. “Mount McKinley” also finds it. “Denali” brings

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Google Home Services Ads Launch In AdWords Express

Google has opened up access to its new home services ad program in AdWords Express. The new home services ad program launched in beta in the San Francisco area last month to connect service providers with local residents searching for help. Started initially for locksmiths and plumbers, it’s opened up to house cleaners and handymen, as well.
To get started with AdWords Express for home services ads, service providers in the area can fill out this form with contact information, the business’ URL and the service sector of the business. Google screens all applicants and uses a third party to conduct background checks. If approved, Google will “organize the information you give us into a polished profile page.”
Advertisers manage their bids through AdWords Express. Listings are included in an ad block at the top of the SERP when a local user does a search for that type of service. Users can then contact the business directly or request follow-ups from up to three providers.
The post Google Home Services

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Google Maps Plus Codes Now Searchable, Making Hard-To-Find Places Easier To Locate

In April, Google Maps released Plus Codes — or Open Location Codes (OLC) — to identify hard-to-find locations across the globe.
Starting today, Plus Codes can now be searched both on Google Maps and Google so that users can find places that are difficult to locate due to poor data accuracy or coverage or places that do not have a specific street address.
These codes become extremely helpful in places with high population density but poor data accuracy or coverage, or those that lack a specific addressing system altogether. Kathmandu, Nepal, has a population of around one million people, but most roads have no names, and houses have no street numbers. Being able to precisely navigate without local knowledge is difficult. Plus codes will now let you easily specify your destination.Google Maps Blog
To find a Plus Code, visit http://plus.codes and share your location. The site automatically pinpoints where your are and provides a code similar to the following 7MV7P8R9+W2

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The Mobile Opportunity for Local and Multi-Location Businesses- August 11 Webcast

According to Google, consumers overwhelmingly turn to their mobile devices (94% of the time) when the information they seek is local. Seventy-eight percent of these mobile local searches result in an offline purchase within a few hours.
Those lacking a focus on mobile are losing market share to their mobile local-savvy competitors. In this Digital Marketing Depot webcast, Tyler Ludwig and Lisa Williams will take us through the three strategies for mobile success, leadership, task completion and alignment.
Join us on August 11 to learn what turns off the mobile user, how paid search can attract qualified leads, what the greatest opportunity is in mobile, and focus on task completion to improve conversion.
Registration is free at Digital Marketing Depot.

Lisa Williams is the President of Sustainable Digital Marketing. She is an 18-year veteran of online marketing and has been featured in Kiplinger Magazine, Glamour Magazine, Boston Globe and The Oregonian. Lisa is on the SEMpdx (Search Engine Marketing Professionals of

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How Google Beacons Could Transform Local Business

Imagine walking into your house and having your phone remind you to turn on its WiFi. Of course, you don’t have to imagine, because that technology is already here for both Android and IOS.
That functionality relies on the Global Positioning System (GPS) standard; so, while your phone can pinpoint where you are within 11 feet if permitted, our smartphones don’t know what floor we’re on, or how close we are to the window or refrigerator.
What if your phone had a way to do this, so that it could, say, remind you to send your grocery list only when you actually walked into the kitchen, or only tell you to pay your bills online when you sit down at the computer in the family study on the first Tuesday of the month?
That technology, too, is already in existence. Apple debuted iBeacon technology at a developer’s conference in 2013 with a major caveat: it only worked with the company’s devices.

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Report: Nokia Sells HERE Maps For $2.7B To BMW, Mercedes, Audi Group

According to Bloomberg and CNBC, Nokia has found a buyer for its HERE mapping unit. The company had sought as much as $4 billion for the platform. However, the reported purchase price is roughly $2.7 billion (€2.5 billion).
The winning (and perhaps only) bid was made by a German consortium of car manufacturers, which had always been reported among the interested parties. It includes BMW, Audi and Mercedes.
In a way, their effort to acquire the platform was defensive. The car companies use HERE Maps in their in-dash navigation systems, and they recognize mapping and navigation as a strategic asset for further development of self-driving cars.
HERE is the rebranded NAVTEQ, which Nokia bought in 2007 for more than $8 billion. Other companies that had been rumored to be involved in the bidding for HERE included Uber (which acquired some Microsoft mapping assets) and several Chinese companies. Yet it appeared that Nokia was struggling to sell the asset, which could explain the reduced purchase

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