Use AdWords Location Extensions? Better Make Sure They Match Your Google My Business Info

https://www.flickr.com/photos/29233640@N07/5131195458/

Adding location extensions in AdWords is a great way to draw more nearby customers, and sometimes to muscle into the paid Google Maps results.  All you need is to have a Google My Business page, run AdWords ads in your area, and go through a pretty easy syncing process.

The trouble is good results may take more babysitting than you’d like.  Your Google My Business page doesn’t take much tending these days, but AdWords is another story.  AdWords takes more tending.  Case in point: if you set up a location extension in AdWords and then update your Google My Business page, your location extension may still show your old, incorrect business info.

Tony Wang of LocalWord described the problem and the solution briefly in this Google Plus thread, and sent me more detail after I asked; here’s a detailed rundown from Tony:

AdWords pulls location extension info from your Google My Business page, so you need link to it while creating the location extension. That “link” terminology is confusing.

One could be forgiven for thinking any changes in GMB will automatically be reflected in the AdWords extension. One would be WRONG.

Turns out the information is imported at the creation of the extension, with no other connection thereafter. If you change the information in your GMB profile, it will NOT be reflected in the extension.

I stumbled upon this by accident, after recently changing a client’s operating hours. I just happened to see the ad with location extension showing, and it had the old hours (location extensions can display hours sometimes, though more often phone #). I assume if other info changed in GMB it would also not update.

Anyway, after calling AdWords support and speaking to an overseas agent (apparently I’m not big enough to get routed to stateside support) the agent checked with his supervisor and then routed me to GMB support, claiming it was a glitch on their end. GMB support verified that all the data was correct on their end and sent me back to AdWords support. Now speaking to a second AdWords agent who was similarly stumped, he also checked with his supervisor, who correctly understood the issue, which is that GMB info does not auto update into AdWords extensions.

So the SOLUTION is to remove the extension and create a new one, thus pulling in the new info.

This is not at all obvious, and I’m willing to bet there are numerous ads out there displaying old information as a result. So the moral of the story is, if you ever update GMB info, remember to go back and re-create your location extensions.

To add insult to injury, Joy Hawkins also noted that the AdWords fields in GMB do sync, which means the capability is clearly there. I complained loudly enough to the support agent that the supervisor grabbed the phone to apologize and assure me he would bring up these issues as suggested improvements.

I’ve checked the Google My Business – AdWords location extension syncing myself, and ran into the same issue Tony ran into.  (I changed one of my client’s business hours in Google My Business.)

Have you run into syncing problems – or other problems – with AdWords location extensions?  What did you do?

Any questions?

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Do Longer Business Hours Help Local Rankings in Google?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nanpalmero/21859672783/

Sometimes I get clients whose businesses are open only a few days a week.  They often seem to get less Google Places visibility and lower traffic on those days.

To me, it’s always been a chicken-or-the-egg question: Are they closed because those days are slow to begin with, or does Google show their businesses less or lower in the local 3-pack as a result of their limited hours?

I did a quick (and possibly inconclusive) little experiment.  Based on the results so far, I’d say Google probably won’t give you an increase in local-search visibility just because you lengthen your business hours.

On October 8 – more than two weeks ago – I increased the business hours of my poor, neglected Google My Business Page.  I changed them Mon-Fri 2pm-7pm to Mon-Sun, 12am-12pm – AKA open 24/7.

Did I see any bump in the local 3-pack?

If the Google My Business “Insights” are any indication, I didn’t see any meaningful bump.

“Insights” numbers are about as reliable as the Green Line in Boston.  So what does Google Analytics tell us?

In other words, if I didn’t see an increase in 3-pack impressions, did I at least see any bump in traffic after October 8 (when I changed to open 24/7)?

Doesn’t appear so.

I wanted to see a dramatic before-and-after picture.  I wanted to see whether business hours are just a big dumb direct local ranking factor, the way the “business name” field is.  It doesn’t appear to be.  That’s good news, I say.

Of course, maybe hours do affect your local rankings / visibility in one way or another.  For one thing, this was just one down-and-dirty experiment.

Google knows your business hours and displays them prominently.  I’d guess that over time they affect your rankings indirectly, based on how click-worthy they make your business.

But for some search terms – like “emergency dentist” or “24-hour pharmacy” – I would hope that hours also directly influence when and how highly a business shows in the search results.  If that’s not already the case, I hope Google moves in that direction.

Have you noticed that business hours affect your local visibility in any way?

Any experiments you’d like to try (or want someone else to)?

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Businesses’ Peak Hours Now Showing in Google’s Desktop Search Results

Search by name for a restaurant, another food-related business, or a car dealership (see Dan’s comment, below) and you’ll see what I just saw:

That “Popular Times” section appears to be brand-new – at least in the desktop results.  Google has been showing peak times in mobile-browser results for over two months now.

It’s also showing in the “local finder” results.

It’s useful data, if it’s accurate.

My gut feeling is that Google looks at data on a combination of factors: clicks-through to the site or “local finder,” clicks-to-call, requests for driving directions, and maybe brand-name searches.

Just speculation on my part.

But it would partly explain why Google only seems to have this for bricks-and-mortar businesses – specifically in the food industry.  Those tend to get more mobile traffic and the kind of actions Google can monitor (e.g. clicks-to-call and requests for directions).

As we’ve seen before, Google takes a mobile-first approach, and tends to use Yelp-friendly food and nightlife industries as a testing ground for features that it later shows in other industries’ search results.

Are you seeing “Popular Hours” for any non-dining related search terms?

Where do you think Google is headed with this?  What do you think their money-making scheme is?

Leave a comment!