Category: search

Have you tried Google Consumer Surveys?

Analytics are all the rage and being able to get direct and easy feedback from your website visitors is a huge plus.  Today Google announced “Google Consumer Surveys.”  You can read the full write up on their Google+ page however the bottom line is simple.  Cheap, easy and direct feedback.

The surveys are affordable, as default questions are free and you can customize the questions for your own use for just a penny up to five dollars.

The surveys are four questions in length and remain open until they receive 500 responses.  You can even set them up to reoccur so that they automatically start over 30 days after your 500th response was received.

Swing over to to check them out.

Google’s Carousel – A new spin on local search

Starting today, when you enter a local search query into Google you should start seeing a new carousel or results displayed on the top of the screen.



google carousel search



Just a few things that we noticed with this great new feature.

1.  Our friends at Swan Hill Bed and Breakfast got a pretty good placement when we searched for Polson hotels.

2.  Reviews are once again driving results.  The more reviews that you have on your Google+ Local page, the better your ranking seems to be in the new carousel results.

3.  If you search for restaurants, you are seeing the Zagat score, along with the genre of the restaurant and $$ scale of the cost to dine.

4.  When you select an option from the carousel you do not go that specific webpage, but to Google’s search results for that business.


Things to consider:

1.  Your Google+ profile image just became that much more important.   By incorporating a visual in with the textual search results – searchers have one more way to choose where they click.

2.  Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews on your Google+ local profile.  In the next few months, I think that you will see these reviews become much more important than other third party sites like Trip Advisor or Urbanspoon.  Because they are going to driving search and effecting your placement in the results.

3.  With Google’s specific search displayed when you click on a link general web presence is that much more important.  Make sure that your information is listed correctly, or better yet, have DrySpark check it for you.



Google+ Local featuring Zagat

We have been talking up the need for small businesses to have a Google+ page for the past few months. Today, Google gave us another reason why this is so important. The search giant who purchased Zagat back in September 2011, is incorporating the world renowned review service in with their new arena – Google+ Local.

Full Google release here.

The new iPhone commercial shows John Malkovich asking siri to help him find a pasta restaurant. Siri lets him know of a few in the area…what siri does not tell him is a summary or review score of those establishments. Google+ Local does, and does it well, because they use your social circle to first get reviews from your friends or people in your circles.

When you log into your Google+ account you will see a new Local tab – you can search local and get results based on a 30 point system. If you are not asking your customers to do reviews for your business – now is the time. It does look like Google has rolled over the reviews from their Hot Pot service that slide into the corner a few months back.

Google+ Local example















These reviews and scores look to be incorporated into search and maps, as well as on both Android and iOS devices. This is huge for local businesses.

Google+ Local in Google Maps


Google+ Local mobile example












This last part is directly from Google’s release statement itself (link above) and is far too important to paraphrase.

“Today is just the first step, and you’ll see more updates in the coming months. If you’re a business owner, you can continue to manage your local listing information via Google Places for Business. Soon we’ll make it even easier for business owners to manage their listings on Google and to take full advantage of the social features provided by local Google+ pages. Get more information on our Google and Your Business Blog.”

Stay Tuned.

The Knowledge Graph

As Google’s search gets smarter – your website needs to as well.  The Knowledge Graph is great for research on a topic, but let us take a few minutes to ponder the potential for this in the arena of local search.

If you search for “how to install a sprinkler system,” yes a query for someone planning a DIY, but what if the knowledge graph populates your right column with local sprinkler companies.  It is not that far fetched.  Google already knows your location, and integrating their knowledge graph in with google places the potential is amazing for small businesses.

Make sure that your website and your Google Place Page are updated with your correct contact and business information.  I know that Google has not released this feature yet, but I really feel that it is only a matter of time.

Google gains more ground

When the numbers got released the braintrust at DrySpark was not surprised to see that Google had increased it’s search engine market share in the month of March.  We have heard rumblings that Google is not focused enough on search as they develop their multiple side projects, the fact remains that the working public still trusts the results out of Mountain View over any other provider.

What we did find impressive was the size of Google’s market share gain.  Picking up nearly 5% more, from what looks through the data like directly from Yahoo.

Yahoo continues to become more and more of a content creator now breaking sports news as well as other arenas.  For the use of our data we also lump Bing and Yahoo into one 21.15% piece of pie, as Yahoo’s search is powered by Bing.

The ebb and flow of search percentages  should remain quite constant in 2012, but I would not be surprised to see Bing lose more ground with the difficulty of finding basic items such as local businesses in their search.

Search Engine March Report from Chitika

Credit to Chitika for the graphic

Clarifying the world of search

We love Inc. Magazine, it is one of our constant go-tos for news in the business world. Today on their twitter feed @inc they posted a great write up by Erik Sherman about the upcoming “semantic search” changes that Google is looking to make. We encourage you to read the article in full on Inc’s website.

Our biggest take away from this article and what we can make of the changes that Google is making is that: Content is still king!

SEO is important for websites, but there is nothing more important than just making sure that your small business site has not only great content, but accurate content.

Google could correlate social networking and personalization data about users as well as information about people, places, and things that it got when it acquired the open database Freebase. In theory, by understanding the content of websites and queries, Google should be able to deliver answers tailored to specific users.

The second part of all of this is back to our core quest at DrySpark and that is making sure that your content is listed correctly in the most important places. Resources in small business are limited, make sure that you are applying your resources in the correct places.

Search is now Social

As I was preparing a Spark Number evaluation for a perspective customer tonight I got drawn in to the section on Social Media and the new trends of “social search.”  My recomendation to my customer was this:

“Social Media is driving search in 2012.  Google recently released “search plus your world” which incorporates Google + posts directly into their search results.  Bing has an exclusive contract with Facebook, and incorporates Facebook results in with Bings search listings.  Social is driving search.  It is our belief that even if you are not active on them, your business needs to have at least claimed your business space from Facebook, Google +, Twitter, Yelp and Foursquare.  Not only will your verified accounts increase citations of your website in search results but it will also gives you the ability to reach out and connect with current and prospective customers in ways old media never dreamed of.  We cannot emphasize enough the importance of Social Media and search.”

Beyond my commentary my brain really kept jumping back to a 2011 keynote address that Gary Vaynerchuk gave  at the RE/MAX Annual Convention.  The video is long and some of the language may be strong, but trust me, it is not as strong as the message.

I cannot stress how important the impact of social media is to your brand and to customer service.  Never before have we been able to have this sort of interaction with our customers, and it is important that we all foster those relationships.