Immanuel Simonsen

Google Places, Social Authority & Keyword Translation: Tips From ISS London

New tips from ISS London, as promised in my post yesterday:

1. Think global, act local

Lisa Myers did a presentation on Google Places from a global perspective. Google Places now operates in over 100 countries and local results have started to dominate listings. With the proliferation of smartphones we’ll only see local searches rising over the next couple of years. The potential of local cannot be neglected and it’s a big misconception that this area is not that relevant to larger brands – and since there really only are two challenges on an international level, namely bulk uploading/verification and streamlining strategies across multiple markets, there’s no excuse not to get started right away.

Luckily, Google recently launched a new version of its bulk upload tool which allows you to:

  • “Edit one or more of your listings’ data at once”
  • “Search through your listings, filtering by specific information or for listings with errors”
  • “Upload new listings using a data file or by adding them individually within the interface”

See Google’s video tutorial for more info:

Google Places Bulk Uploads: Verified User Tutorial

Lisa furthermore spoke about the importance of finding the right balance between managing multiple accounts centrally, but at the same time ensuring local execution. Streamlining Google Places strategies should apply a “think global, act local” approach divided into three steps:

  • Educate globally
  • Organise centrally
  • Manage execution locally

2. You need 5 or more Google Places reviews for boosting rankings

Staying in the local sphere while adding a social element. Reviews are unquestionably very important to both ranking and CTRs in Places. While receiving poor reviews can impact negatively on ranking, anything above 2 stars counts more or less equally for improving rankings, Lisa said during her presentation. In addition, Lisa provided ISS delegates with tips to boost the number of reviews:

  • Don’t limit yourself to online. Integrate offline into your review strategy, e.g. use QR codes on business cards, brochures, products etc. and send them to your Google Places page.
  • Contact customers via email or mail and encourage them to review your business – you could even reward them for doing so and at the same time increase chances of repeat buying by offering a discount on their next purchase.

Well, there are many ways of doing this depending on your type of business, so be creative and make good use of your customer touchpoints – online as well as offline.

3. Don’t neglect brand websites

In the midst of the social media hype, it’s probable that some marketing managers have gone all-in on social media and completely neglected the brand website. Please don’t. According to Brett Petersen from the GlobalWebIndex, their research showed that “brand websites are still the main engagement point for consumers online and should be the hub of any brand’s online activity.” Therefore, consider social as an extension of your brand, rather than the hub for all online communication.

4. Keywords CANNOT be translated

Let’s go through it one more time, just for the sake of repetition. Each language and culture has its own variations and subtleties. If you rely on machine translation you might very well get your fingers burned, or chances are your efforts go by unnoticed because no one actually uses those words  in conjunction with your product/service offering.

Even same languages vary and undergo constant transformations according to region, so hire natives to ensure you’re choosing the right keywords. In some markets the costs of including natives into the keyword research planning process might exceed the expected benefits, but as a thumb rule always seek native advice in your key markets – you might find it well worth it.

5. Search 3.0 – Create Social Authority

As social and personalisation are increasingly becoming an integral part of search, the authority of individuals will prove to have a significant impact on ranking. Fans, followers, likes etc. will have even more weighing in the signals and one could argue that trusted individuals/authors are becoming the new authoritative links. Will we see more people selling their profiles online? Most likely.

This requires a new mindset and new strategies. While recruitment of high-profile guest bloggers, ensuring your content reaches opinion leaders, building your own brand etc. have always been important, doing this successfully will prove absolutely vital going forward.


Immanuel Simonsen

Immanuel Simonsen

Research Manager at Webcertain
As the Research Manager of multilingual web marketing agency Webcertain, Immanuel heads up the company’s global market research activities and large content marketing projects. He is the author of several reports and guides, including ‘The Essential Guide to Rel-Alternate-Hreflang’ and ‘The Webcertain Global Search and Social Report 2013’. Apart from being a tutor at the International Marketing School -- teaching online marketing professionals on business opportunities around the globe -- Immanuel is a regular speaker at the International Search Summit, a leading event series dedicated to multilingual search and social media marketing.

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