Gateway Park Google Image

New Google Images Update for both Users and Marketers

Between Google My Business (GMB) and the new Google Images format, there are some opportunities. Some are from you, and some are just from being you.

There’s a difference between Google Images and your Google My Business (GMB) photos

For this read, It’s important to know though that Google Images and photos you take for Google My Business (GMB) are different. For users to see Google Images, for the most part they need to click on the image tab or images within the main search results. You can link to them though, including specific images. You just don’t get the SEO benefits.

From Google’s post titled Pick an idea and make it happen with Google Images:

Starting today (Aug 9th 2019), when you select an image, it appears in a side panel on the page, next to the search results. Importantly, it stays there as you scroll, letting you easily compare images with others on the page.

For retailers and publishers, this updated interface also means people are more likely to visit a web page to get information to help them with a task, or to buy a product on your site.

Google, The Keyword – Aug 6th 2019

I absolutely love the 1st point! I haven’t seen the 2nd as much, mostly because I’m in local lead generation and awareness, and only a bit in e-commerce.

Local examples of Google Images

McKinney Roe is in the growing Downtown East neighborhood in Minneapolis. Google mages include photos from the own site, Yelp, the Strib, City Pages, TripAdvisor, OpenTable, Heavy Table, and many more. They all collectively provide compelling images to their offerings.

McKinney Roe from above
McKinney Roe from above

45th Parallel Distillery is an established craft distillery in New Richmond, WI. They naturally have Google images from their own site, Yelp, Heavy Table, and TripAdvisor. They also have local and niche images from City Pages, WCCO, Pioneer Press, and even CNN. The main image selected is a photo of Gamle Ode Aquavit news from The Growler.

45th Parallel Distillery
Gamle Ode Aquavit at 45th Parallel

A year ago August, Samatar Crossing opened, connecting the Minneapolis Cedar/Riverside neighborhood to Downtown East by U.S. Bank Stadium with a new multi-cultural connection including an ever-growing number of Google Images.

Samatar Crossing in Minneapolis
Samatar Crossing in Minneapolis

How Do I Link to these Image Pages?

This may be important for marketers and SEO professionals. These image result links are all dynamic, so it doesn’t help your SEO efforts. It doesn’t hinder it, either. Using a URL shortener like Bit.ly can at least help you measure the overall performance. The image links above are indeed Bit.ly shortened dynamic URLs.

This is just one way to shorten these dynamic URLs. I’d love to hear others that work well for you! Also, the new Google Images format is just a couple weeks old, and is in a different category from the GMB photos that you take. Have you used it to your advantage?

localmn interactive foursquare profile

Foursquare Social Check-ins turn into a Local Data Aggregator

Foursquare has long-been and quietly turned into a local data aggregator since 2013 Source – moz.com. More on this below.

Foursquare has been evolving in local search ever since they were a social check-in platform in 2009. I did jump on it right off the bat, although haven’t done much with it since 2017. My first 2 check-ins:

1st 2 Foursquare Check-Ins

For you privy folks, it’s always been a social connection just like you have connections on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook. As a consumer, I’ve always been interested in places my connections visit and always consider these places from that trust.

In fact, in 2015 trusted local Foursquare contributor Ed Kohler mentioned a cool fact about Pizza Nea’s wi-fi access that helped turned me into a fairly regular customer. Their wood-fired pizza alone is delicious and worth the visit. This is just one of many examples as a consumer.

Foursquare has slowly but surely come out as not just a social connection, but a beyond-solid local data aggregator along with Infogroup, Localeze, Factual (not sure on the price, it used to be free), and Acxion (retiring local search operations at the end of 2019) source – BrightLocal

In 2018, Acxiom was acquired by publicly-traded advertising company IPG. In order to comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) which comes into effect on January 1st, 2020, Acxiom will be retiring its directory and local search products

Bright Local

Foursquare has been a natural fit for this and I’m sure it’s been their long-term goal. They’ve always had their social game and imagine that they’ve always used this data for their local aggregate data.

Signing up for national aggregate data providers has its pros and cons. A pro is you have the consistent Name, Address, Phone (NAP) information consistently across the web (huge for SEO). A con is you’re more open to unsolicited sales calls from companies who you don’t choose to engage.

In my opinion, the pros outweigh the cons. Just watch out for any unsolicited sales calls.

For Foursquare, you will probably find your own business/company/organization when you search and claim yourself. As of now, it will cost you a one-time $20.00 fee to officially claim your business location.

This may also make it easier to acquire the right amount of local citations. A recent Search Engine Land article asks experts whether local citations matter anymore. I’m definitely in the camp where it’s not nearly as important as it was 5 years. Ago. I liken it to inbound linking debates 15 years ago. It’s not the quantity, but the quality. Google My Business (GMB), Yelp, Facebook, Foursquare, and a company called Factual alone is a really good start (IMO).

My perception is that Foursquare has an upper hand over other local data aggregators when you combine their 10 years of social marketing in the mix. What are your thoughts? And, should we continue to add more social content to Foursquare as users to help with the social aspect?

New Google Local Marketing Kit for the Summer of 2019

Google has taken another step to take your local marketing efforts easier and more streamlined this 2019 Summer with their new local marketing kit. This ties in nicely in your Google My Business (GMB) profile.

Create custom posters, social posts, and more from reviews and highlights on your Business Profile on Google. All for free.

From the new Google Marketing Kit

In addition, it provides video and promotion options.

This Google-provided video is currently pretty cheesy, yet gives options including easily embedding the YouTube video within your content such as this blog. As of yet, I don’t know if you can customize this.

Another new opportunity is pre-made (social) Google Posts. They also give you the option to share these on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, plus a downloading option for you to share wherever in your content you feel relevant.

The current examples they seem to have are a bit generic, but I see them useful for filler Google Posts. My mind may change tomorrow, although I don’t see these as useful for Facebook and Twitter. I’d rather see updates that tell more of a story. But maybe that’s just me. Example:

Google Social Images
Google Social Images

If you’re a restaurant, hotel, or any other business prone to potential positive reviews, this is certainly worth filler posts.

At an enterprise level with multiple listings, this opportunity is a must with proper management. For stand alone local businesses, I have a couple reservations.

The best (or worst) part of it is that Google owns all the data. Yep, they still own the local search content you provide. For this, they even own the analytics although they show you an overview in your GMB panel. I only imagine that they use all of this to help calculate your overall authority in the results, and indirectly, your rankings in the local 3-pack.

Google does get info for these based on both content you provide in your own free Google My Business (GMB) profile combined with ratings or your organization.

very-friendly
New Small Thanks with Google Replacement?

I was a huge fan of the Small Thanks with Google Site that gave you free posters to showcase the positive things customers say about you, but the site’s now down. There’s no redirect and is now just a broken 404 page. The above-mentioned Google local marketing kit seems to be the replacement along with the other opportunities.

Google has a pretty strict policy regarding obtaining user reviews, and a lot of fantastic articles have been written regarding this. In a nutshell, soliciting positive reviews is bad. Reminding people they can leave honest reviews is good. Google is now showcasing the latter with new window decals.

Review us on Google
Review us on Google

Have you or your company/organization used the Google Local Marketing kit yet? We’d love to hear your experiences!

Google Maps Icons

Google My Business (GMB) – Charging for Listings or Just Incorporating their Local Services Ads

Is Google My Business sending surveys to local business owners to see if they can charge local businesses for their own listings?

I say no. Oh hell no! They’re not out to screw you. My first reaction on Twitter:

They have sent survey question (survey now closed) about this. Joy Hawkins from Sterling Sky contacted Google and sent out this tweet.

I’m with that. There’s nothing to panic about. My assumption on this good Search Engine Land conversation is that the survey questions really closely mirror the minds of those who choose to participate in Google Local Services ads and not for GMB profile listing owners worried about if they’re going to be charged for Google’s already-free product.

Google Local Service ads in general do not integrate within your Google My Business (GMB) profile. So yes, I believe they are encouraging you to buy local service ads just like they visually encourage you for AdWords Express with their Create an Ad icon. I imagine in the future, they will use these survey Q&As to encourage GMB users to sign up for Google Local Services Ads.

Create an Ad with AdWords Express

I can certainly see an simple added tab for Google Local Services ads, written in their own very simple way.

I do suggest looking into Google Local Services ads on your own. We put a services page up for this over a year ago as well. Not many local Mpls/St. Paul industries qualify, but you check out your eligibility for yourself.

What are your thoughts? Is GMB out to charge your for your listings or is it just a survey to explore interest in Google Local Services Ads?

Google Maps Icons

Local businesses can now reply to Google Maps reviews via desktop

Local business owners have been waiting for the ability to respond to user-reviews via laptop, per Search Engine Land.

It makes sense for business owners to relish this. As mobile savvy as they are, they may not want to reply to reviews on a phone due to personal perception, or are just used to working on a laptop during the work day. Using a laptop for these are (per Google) now an official option and it takes just seconds.

Right now, I immediately think of Minneapolis/St. Paul area businesses such as restaurants, bars, laws firms, hospitality, and other service-based businesses who may receive Google reviews up over once a day. No matter where, you can most likely view the same or more.

There are many through experience who have enough clout with Google that they take our responses, plus photos and anything else Google My Business (GMB) on the spot. For many others, it does take a few days at least. I do not know how immediately these replies take to go live. My guess is either on the spot or within a day.

If you’re a local business or organization you can reply to business reviews whether you’re signed in to GMB or not. If not, here are the steps.

  • Google your businesses/organization name
  • Click on “Google reviews” on your GMB listing/local box
  • You’ll see a reply button for reviews. Reply

If you’re in your GMB profile.

  • Click “reviews” in the left panel
  • You’ll see a reply button for reviews. Reply

That’s it! You’ve now replied to a local business review, of course we hope in a positive and compelling way. Happy replying!

Replying to Reviews on Desktop

Google Maps Icons

7 Tips to Enhance 360° and Still Photos for Google My Business (GMB) Profiles

If you’re new to Street View photography to enhance your Local Search (local SEO) chops, there are some good ways to embrace this and learn while enhancing Google My Business (GMB) profiles. Seriously! If you’ve already mastered this, hopefully this will give you some additional insights. Here are 7 tips to improve your Google My Business (GMB) Street-View and virtual tour (VT) photography skills.

  • Practice, practice, practice. If you’re just starting you need 50 Google published 360° Street View photos. Once you’ve done this, it can take a good month or so to be added to their Street View For Hire page. Here’s the app for you to get started.
  • Keep your clients informed from the start. The more knowledge they have benefits everyone. Whether it’s for interior VTs for showcasing navigation inside their location, or external 360° photos to imply directions to them helps them determine their strategy.
  • Remember the sun. This seems obvious, but a bright sun can reduce photo quality no matter what camera you use. I recently had a great exterior view towards the south. It was noon and had to delete the 360° because I couldn’t escape the bright rays.
  • Charge up beforehand. If you’re using a Ricoh Theta V or similar 360° camera, the battery can run low fast if you’re taking a lot of photos… at least in a Minnesota winter. It’s always a good idea to bring a laptop and external charger to charge both your 360° camera and smartphone. This has saved me more than once.
  • For stills, don’t be afraid of Portrait mode. As much as I absolutely despise iStocky type photos, focusing in front while blurring the background can work if it’s obvious that the photos taken are real and of the location. Example:
optometry-gear

Real Optometry Instruments at a Local Clinic

  • Add descriptions to each still photo. The photos themselves can be very compelling, but adding a description can help you tell a story for them, or imply directions and specific entrances to a building.
  • Transfer photo rights! This is a selling point for me. Just like any business or organization should 100% own their website, they should also own their GMB photos. Example:
Partial Screenshot of ODG in Minneapolis

Partial Screenshot of a 360 photo showing ODG as the owner

The photo name still comes up as myself, although the important photo credit belongs to ODG.

Thoughts? Comment here or let us know via Facebook or Twitter!


LocalMN provides Google trusted Street View photography as well as local search consulting and implementation. Contact us to learn more.

spLet customers know your special hours for December

Let Google Show Users Your Special December Hours

It’s that time of year again. You want to showcase the hours you’re open over the holidays while making sure you get the time to celebrate with your own loved ones. Providing special hours in you Google My Business (GMB) profile does this for people using Google to find this info. Also, you can do this on your smartphone on the fly. Go to your favorite local coffee shop, sip and sit for 5 minutes, and your special hours are set up.

There are a few ways to go about this. An easy one is to log into your GMB -> Overview -> Profile -> Clock/Calendar Icon

Google My Business Overview from a smartphone

Google My Business Overview from a smartphone

Edit Special hours (for restaurants and other locations who are open for lunch, then back open for dinner, you can note this in here by clicking the ADD HOURS button)

Edit Special Hours

Edit Special Hours

A nice thing about this is after you set it up, it automatically goes away after your dates of special hours. No follow up needed!

Google Maps Icons

LocalMN 101: Creating a Google My Business (GMB) Presence with Maps Photography

Creating Your GMB

Creating a Google My Business profile has long been well-known as a local search must, even before your own website and for good reasons. Do a branded search for your local business, and chances are there’s a big knowledge box result for you whether you claimed, or verified it or not. You can create or edit your own. It’s easy and awesome.

Partial Localmn Knowledge box. These are awesome. A home page of your business, if you will.

Your Google My Business (GMB) profile is now often considered the home page for your local business. It makes sense. It’s highly visible, includes a link to your website, appointments or bookings, your own customized photos, including 360° photos, managing ratings and reviews, POSTS, and a lot more, actually.

Google Photos and Maps Photography

Organizing photos in Google Photos is a great starting point after claiming your business. They make it easy for you to edit your photos to your preference, and place them on your GMB profile.

Organized Google Albums to Minneapolis

Organized Google Albums Minneapolis for GMB or other uses

You can title each album for your own organization, describe each picture, and automatically have your deets stored in exact location taken, camera used, date and time, and even exact size. Photo proof of your own!

Eventually, when you need photos for your GMB presence, you can be comforted at looking at your photos account like a switchboard. Look at an album, select a photo, use them as your profile, cover, logo, and POSTS.

We consider Maps Photography as quality photos with the intent to drive customers to your door. Include photos of your address, cross street signs and exterior 360° photos can imply and provide customers visual directions to you. Directions is arguably what the majority of customers are seeking.

360° Photo: Sign of the Mayo Clinic Gonda Building, reflection of downtown Rochester, move to view Methodist Hospital, the Kahler Grand and 2nd Ave SW.

After awhile, you’ll see that you’ll have enough real digital photos to use, without having to pay for fake stock photos. You know the ones. They’re attractive, with a smiling person pointing to a graph that goes up. Seriously, they’re horrible! An exception goes to Vince Vaughn and Dave Franco courtesy of @Buzz60 a few years ago, but I digress.

These photos can easily be done with a few photo and editing tactics. You could include your own staff, being serious, or being cleverly comedic like above by including a local celebrity. I’ve never met The Fancy Ray, but I’m a fan and love his local commercials and outdoor billboards. I’d love to see him in local stock photos like this. Again, I digress.

With a Street View app, (preferably along with a compatible 360° camera), you can create these photos publicly as long as Google accepts them to Maps. These are stored within your Street View app. Plus they can appear on your Google My Business profile, as well as providing an short, embedded code for you to include to media, social profiles, and content marketing strategies such as your blog.

Back to your Google Photos and albums. You can easily edit any photo on mobile or desktop. Often, it can just be by selecting Auto to bring the photo to life a bit like this one at On-Demand Group. There are plenty of other edits that make your photos pop, and auto is just one of the more popular ones.

ODG Rooftop

On Demand Group Rooftop in Minneapolis

We hope this helps your local business or organization. Happy Maps Photography to you all. Skål!


Localmn Interactive provides Maps Photography services including Google Trusted Street View Photography, Google Trusted Verifier and Local Search in general Contact us to learn more!

We’re Now Google Trusted Verified!

In addition and to compliment our Google Street View Trusted Photography status, we’re also now a Google Trusted Verifier.

Google My Business (GMB)

This makes your time more valuable by having someone come out to immediately verify your business to GMB, take photos and 360° virtual tours, consult you with Google Posts, GMB Insights. So often, people will set up their GMB correctly and adequately, although don’t take full advantage of this free tool for you DIYers. For agencies, we’re looking to add this to your mix for local search services.

When we come out to visit your Twin Cities location, we come with these ready-to-use icons, literally right on the Google Pixel 2:

Google Maps Icons

We forté in being flexible. If you just need GMB verification, we do this. If you need verification plus setup, photos, 360° Virtual Tours, Google Posts insights, and overall GMB consulting, we also do this, and we do it well.

4-hour consultations for you and your business (at your location) are available for this and is definitely time well spent. From there, you can decide to hire us on a more permanent level or go your own way with the confidence to DIY.

Side note: This is proudly available for physical businesses and organizations in Minnesota. Transportation expenses outside of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area TBD. We are Minnesota. 

Contact us Minnesota, and lets get verified! Skål!