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  • Where is Google Headed With Mobile?

    Many have expected 2015 to be the year of mobile for Google. While Google has stated that there are now more searched on mobile than on desktop, the supposed Mobilepocalypse was something of a disappointment.

    Some of this may have been because most websites were simply ready for the mobile algo changes. Alex Holmes of told me earlier this year that “pretty much every template now needs to be responsive or it won’t sell.”

    On the other hand, before Mobilepocalypse, testing by Portent determined that 40% of websites were not mobile ready.

    The fact that the reported impact has been minimal suggests that at the very least, Google oversold this algo change.

    Now to blur the issue even further, Advent Communication has released the results of a study suggesting that Google really doesn’t know where you are located.

    Advent asked respondents to compare where Google thought they were located with their actually location. They admit that their sample size was a bit limited, but found that the average error for desktop users was 117 miles, while it was 428 miles for mobile users.

    I’m most surprised by mobile having a higher error. Granted, desktop users are by definition static, but I would think that between GPS data in smart phones and cell phone tower data, they should have a pretty good idea where mobile users are located.

    While the average error numbers are probably biased by having some users thousands of miles away with a small sample set, the errors were still widespread. Only one-third of users were within 25 miles of where Google thought they were.

    These errors have huge implications for AdWords advertisers who are attempting to control the geographic distribution of their ads. They both have people outside their target area seeing the ad (false positives) and people within the target area not seeing it (false negatives).

    There are also impacts for searchers. Google is attempting to return local results for queries that don’t have a location (e.g. search on [coffee shops]). If Google has an incorrect location for you, the SERPs won’t be very useful.

    I predict that Google will get better at handling this data, and over time we will see more localized results on non-geographic queries, but will see more and more hyper-local results as well.

    Expect the radius of results to vary with the query. If I search for [coffee shops], I probably want something close to me. But if I search for [farm to table restaurant], I might be willing to drive a while.

    The radius should vary by geography as well. If I search for [barbecue joint] in Philadelphia, I might expect to have to drive, but the same query here in Austin should show me things very close by.

    It will be interesting to see what Google does with this over the next year or two.

  • Law School Reviews on Yelp?

    This week, the attorney blog Above the Law paosted about Yelp’s new law school rankings.

    While gaining an accurate understanding of the pros and cons of various law schools is a good idea before investing a six figure sum of money, I’m not sure relying on Yelp reviewers is the way I would go. Talking to alumni and current students is likely to be much more valuable.

    Still, if you want to use Yelp reviews in your evaluation, there are some things to keep in mind:

    1) Look for trends.

    You should discount claims made in any single review, but rather consider the review corpus in its entirety. Do you see the same issues over and over again? Then those might well be real.

    Of course, if a law school only has three reviews, it’s hard to do this. The numbers should improve over time.

    2) Watch for competitors and self-reviews.

    If it looks like it was written by a competitor or someone from the law school itself, it probably was. I don’t know if law school reps will spend much time reviewing other law schools, but I suspect self reviewing will be all to common.

    3) Discount the lunatics.

    You know the type. You read the review and think, I sure am glad I don’t have this person as a client/customer.

    Some people can’t be pleased, and some are just looking for problems. Take what they say with a grain of salt.

    4) Read the responses (if any).

    Yelp allows companies to respond to reviews. I’m not of the opinion that every review must be responded to, but a response to negative reviews certainly shows that the company is monitoring their social profile, and might suggest a better customer service mentality than most.

    Any law school is going to have students with bad experiences. Like all businesses, it’s how you handle these problems that matters.

    Pro Tip: All of these recommendations apply to any Yelp listing.

  • Pardon Our Dust…

    I’m sure you’ve heard the story of the cobbler’s children not having any shoes. Well, this website has been a bit like that.

    Been so busy improving clients’ websites, and helping them rank, that this website has been rather ignored. In fact, it hasn’t changed much graphically since 2009.

    Now, with the impending Mobilocalypse from Google, it’s time to update the site so that it is Responsive.

    Part of doing this is putting a new WordPress theme in place. Sure, I could probably alter the existing theme, but WordPress theme’s in 2009 were missing many of the bells and whistles that are common now. For instance, many of the links and menus were coded by hand, rather than using WordPress’s nice menu system.

    Updating the theme would arguably take as long, if not longer, than installing a new theme would.

    But, still, many things are broken (or breaking) as I update the site. I decided to make the changes on the live site as:

    1) It’s faster than building a test site
    2) I’ll learn a lot about working on a live site
    3) It’s my site, so any impacts are mine own alone. I can’t say that about client sites.

    The downshot is that things will look a bit funky for a while, and even when things look good on the surface, there will likely be bugs running behind the scenes.

    So, that’s a fancy way of asking you to pardon our dust as the site is updated.

  • PubCon Austin 2015 Coupon

    Austin’s best internet marketing conference, PubCon Austin, is happening on April 20th in 2015. I can’t recommend this conference more. It has arguably the best content in the industry, and is also one of the best values.

    But, I can make it even a better value with a coupon for 20% off.

    Just use the coupon code:


    when registering. The discount code is good until March 20, 2015.

  • Reviews of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital

    In case you’ve been living in Tahiti the last few weeks (it’s a magical place), Texas Health Presbyterian is the hospital in Dallas where Thomas Duncan, a native of Liberia, became the first person diagnosed with Ebola on US soil on September 29. By their own admission, the hospital made mistakes in the way it handled Duncan and the situation.

    Let’s take a look at how Yelp and Google+ are handling the reviews coming in from all over the country from people who’ve never stepped in Texas Health Presbyterian. All data is as of October 24, 2014.

    25 reviews showing total.
    2 reviews since September 29th. They are positive, and look to be legit.
    7 reviews filtered. None of these since September 29th.
    8 reviews removed for violating content guidelines or ToS. 6 of these are since September 29th.

    68 reviews total.
    37 reviews since September 29th. 26 are clearly from non-patients. 7 appear likely legit. 4 are hard to tell.

    I’d love to look at more review services, but there just weren’t any others that had numbers worth looking at for Texas Health.

    In any case, here’s what these numbers say to me…

    I’ve certainly been critical of Yelp’s reviews in the past (both on this blog and definitely on panels), but I like their approach. Assuming the data is accurate and compete, showing what has been filtered and what has been removed is appreciated. I’d prefer it if I can see the actual reviews that were removed, but I can understand why Yelp doesn’t show them.

    And also to Yelp’s credit, there are no reviews showing that don’t appear to be from an actual patient or family member of a patient. I looked at Yelp’s review corpus a week or so ago, and there were several that didn’t appear to be legit, but I assume these are now in the Reviews Removed bucket. I suspect some of the filtering is being done by hand, but they seem to be giving it real effort.

    Google gives no information on what reviews have been filtered. For all we know, Google may have filtered out hundreds of them. I doubt it’s that many, but they give us nothing to base things upon.

    What I can look at is the reviews they show. 70% of their reviews since September 29th are clearly illegitimate. That’s appalling.

    Especially after Google has publicly and clearly stated that they want Reviews not General Commentary.

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