Google My Business vs. Bing Places in a Nutshell

https://www.flickr.com/photos/spencersbrookfarm/3139409835/This example is from one of my clients, who’s got a seasonal business and had a great winter.

Two screenshots up the difference between Google visibility and Bing visibility.  The screenshots are of those two search engines’ “dashboard” stats.  I doubt either source of intel is Swiss-watch accurate, but each can give you a rough sense of how many people see you on that search engine’s local map.

Bing Places dashboard stats:

Nice spike.  Reflects how good business was.

Notice the high-water mark of 957 impressions.  Add up all the times the Bing Places page showed up in the local search results in February and you’ve got a few thousand impressions in a month, which is pretty good.  Who said Bing doesn’t matter?

Now, Google My Business stats, from a somewhat different range (more on that in a minute):

One thing you’ll notice is a high-water mark of almost 9000 impressions in a day on Google My Business, compared to high-water mark of a tenth of that in a whole week on Bing.

My little comparison is far from scientific.  You may notice the date ranges aren’t the same.  Bing’s doesn’t capture most March, which had a good amount of action.  That’s because Bing’s data is about two weeks old and doesn’t reflect more-recent data, and neither Google nor Bing lets you pick a custom date range.  The result is an apples-to-oranges comparison.

Still, based on the parts that overlap, impressions on Google outnumber those on Bing by at least 10 to 1.  (Probably more like 20 to 1.)

“Hey Phil, party foul.  That’s still an unfair comparison.  Google has so much more market share than Bing has, so of course Bing’s local traffic is a gnat.”

Exactly.  It’s a good thing that Bing Places is pretty hassle-free to set up and manage, because my advice is not to lose sleep over your Bing rankings.

Google Maps Spam Patrol: Why You Need to Do It, and 10 Tips to Make It Doable

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Why not make your local competitors work to outrank you?  They won’t have to work too hard if you assume Google keeps the Google Maps results clean, because that doesn’t happen much.

“Spam patrol” is my name for the process of identifying Google My Business pages that violate any of Google’s guidelines and that, as a result, stick out on the map more than they should.  Though anyone can send in an edit on any Google My Business page, the most likely reason you’d do that is to counteract a competitor who’s breaking the rules at your expense. You should do spam patrol whether you do your own local SEO or work with a third party on it.

If you do it right and have the patience of an oyster, spam patrol can keep some, most, or maybe even all of your local competitors from outranking you unfairly.  Like earning links and reviews, spam patrol has tons of long-term payoff if you stick with it.  But as with those other ongoing activities, few business owners approach spam patrol the right way.  Even fewer stick with it for long enough to see much benefit.

By the way, if you’re not sure how to sniff out local competitors’ spam, how to send in a Google Maps edit, or what to expect, I suggest you read this great post by Joy Hawkins, and maybe this post I did.

If you want to minimize competitors’ Google Maps spam, but you don’t want it to become another big commitment that frustrates you until you throw in the towel, follow these 10 tips to make spam patrol doable:

1. Use a spreadsheet to keep track of your edits. Like this one I use. (You can download and tweak that template as you wish.) Getting all your “Wanted” posters together is a hassle at first, but will save you a lot of time in the long run. Also, spam patrol will seem less daunting, and you’ll get a better sense of what works (and what doesn’t).

2. Focus on the two types of spam Google is most likely to act on: keyword-stuffing in names, and pages that are so spammy you can’t even tell what the “real” business is. Edits to the “name” field have the best chance of a thumbs-up from Google. The type of edit with the second-best chances of approval are “Spam, fake, or offensive.”  Marking listings as “duplicates” or trying to edit things like the address is less fruitful.  (All of that’s been my experience, at least.)

 

3. Try partial or piecemeal edits. If a competitor is breaking multiple rules, try to get Google to correct one first, before you deal with the others. If you Google won’t remove all the keywords or city names in a competitor’s keyword-stuffed name, try editing out some of it.

 

4. Don’t patrol only your main search terms. Also look at who’s ranking for “niche” terms you want to rank for (or that you already do rank for). Some of the worst spammers own a niche, or many niches, often because the competitive bar is low and their competitors are less likely to pay attention.

5. If you want or need to boost your credibility with Google by becoming a higher-level “Local Guide” – as I strongly suggest you do – don’t only rack up points by reviewing businesses. Do some of the other activities on Google’s “points” breakdown.

6. Don’t build up your Local Guide track record only by making edits in your local market. Wade into other spam swamps (near and far) unrelated to your business and submit edits on spammy businesses you run across. You need at least to look like a do-gooder to get enough credibility that Google might approve your edits.  Just being right often isn’t enough, it pains me to say.

7. Use Google’s new spam-reporting form to corroborate any “suggest an edit” edits where you’ve wanted to explain to Google how you know a competitor is spamming. (See this forum thread.)

8. Don’t forget to check out competitors’ hours, and to submit edits on them if necessary. The process for that is a little different; you don’t click the usual “Suggest an edit” button, but rather need to click on the business’s hours in the right-hand sidebar (the “knowledge panel”), and then click on a different link that reads “Suggest an edit.” Why bother?  Because you don’t want competitors to get undeserved clicks and leads because they posted erroneous hours while you faithfully posted your real-world business hours.

9. Get other people involved in spam patrol. Business partners, employees, friends, family, etc. Preferably some of those people live near the hive of spam you’re trying to fumigate. Don’t have them make exactly the same edits you make.  Just get them spraying in the same direction. (By the way, if you’re working with a local SEO person or are considering it, ask him or her where spam patrol fits into the strategy.)

10. Every week or two you should go through your spreadsheet, review your edits, add any new offenders you find, and make new edits. You don’t need to do spam patrol every day, but you can’t do it just once and call it a day.

 

Spam patrol is a never-ending task, and you probably won’t gun down every bogie.  But you do it in a way that’s efficient and not overwhelming, and that doesn’t sidetrack you from your other work, you’re more likely to stick with it.  Then your other local SEO work is more likely to pay off.

Did you learn any of the above the hard way?  Any tips on spam patrol?  Any war stories?  Leave a comment!

How Many Ways Can Someone Troll Your Google My Business Page?

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What’s the difference between the Google Maps business results and middle school?  Well, at one you get lunch and the possibility that the heckling and hounding ends for the day once the bell rings. It’s easy to get worn down in local SEO.  The work it takes for you to get visible and stay visible […]

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When Should You Do Your Own Local SEO?

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You know the good reasons and bad reasons to hire a local SEO person or company.  The pros and cons of doing it yourself are clear, too.  What you’re less sure of is: when has the do-it-yourself option piled up enough pros that it’s clearly the better choice for you? It’s a sliding scale.  You […]

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10 Types of Ninja Pages You Can Sneak up the Local Search Results

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People who do local SEO are pretty resourceful at rubbing keywords all over pages they want to rank. They’re less creative with the types of pages they try to get to rank. Often those pages are limited to the homepage, a few “service” pages, and maybe some doughy “city” pages.  Those types of pages matter […]

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How Can You Tell a Competitor Does Effective Local SEO?

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It’s trickier than you think. You can monitor competitors’ rankings and links until you’re cross-eyed.  You can study them with SEMRush, Moz, Alexa , and other tools until hens grow teeth.  The insights you get from those activities can have value, and may be a good use of your time, but trying to dissect a […]

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Should You Bother Using That New Google My Business Feature?

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Google adds, changes, and kills off features at a puke-inducing pace.  With the possible exception of AdWords, nowhere is the pace of change faster than in Google My Business. For local SEOs and others who (try to) keep up with this stuff, one school of thought says you should use every new Google My Business […]

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Which Local Citation Sources Let You Specify a Service Area?

Just because you set your sights on a region doesn’t mean you’ll rank well there.  That’s always been true of the service area you pick for your Google My Business page, so why should you care about the service-area settings on local-search sites much smaller than Google? A few reasons: 1. You might improve your […]

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Google My Business Shakes up Service-Area Businesses: What Has Changed and What to Do

Using Google My Business long has been a murky matter for owners of service-area businesses.  Most people have wondered what kinds of addresses are eligible, how many GMB pages they can have, whether to “hide” their addresses from showing publicly, and how big of a “service area” to specify (or whether to specify one at […]

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The Lowdown on Local Falcon, a New and Different Local Search Rank-Tracking Tool

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Tracking local rankings is a tricky matter if you’re a business owner or professional SEO, and even more so if you’re a maker of rank-tracking software.  Yet a local-rankings tracker called Local Falcon came out recently and already has carved out a niche. Local Falcon does one thing: It shows and tracks Google Maps rankings […]

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