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No. 926
February 2nd, 2011

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The Return of Local Listing Ads (Kinda)

Remember Local Listing Ads?  You know, the ones Google released way back in October 2009 when lots of you were at SMX East?

Well, they’re back.  Only this time, they’re available through the ADWORDS interface rather than the Places interface.

Google just announced that something called “Location Extensions” are now going to have the same effect — a blue pushpin clearly labeled as a sponsored result, but one that shows up on the map of local businesses within Place Search also.

Clearly these are going to have the greatest effect for the businesses than can afford to get that #1 slot (or at least a slot above the 3/7/O-Pack), but it’ll be interesting to see whether clickthrough levels will also go up on the blue pushpins for advertisers who maintain their bids at positions further down the page.

Two of the things I said about LLA’s are still relevant 16 months on:

  • Internet Yellow Pages (and any businesses without a physical location) who tried to cope with the loss of traffic by buying more Adwords are now going to find it even more difficult to compete for Local searches.
  • The blue pushpin icons are sure to have a significant positive impact on clickthrough for the businesses advertising with LLA’s, taking traffic away from traditional Adwords (i.e. for non-brick-and-mortar businesses).

But, there’s one big difference:

  • LLA’s had easy-to-understand benefits and pricing.

These location extensions require an SMB to be a pretty savvy Adwords advertiser in order to get them to show up.  I’ll be interested to see whether Google re-releases these location extensions as a simple “one-click install” within the Places Dashboard soon.

My knee-jerk reaction is:

Jeez, one more product that small businesses have to keep up with.  Man, this space is exhausting!

What are your thoughts?

  • David,

    I think this is a great addition to enable some of those who’ve lost top of page to the maps integration.

    And, I’m actually pretty stoked about Google pushing too many products. Elmer Smith, former CEO of Bellsouth referred to the phenomenon for sales reps as “Bag Saturation”. His point was that sales reps would have too much in their bag to be effective.

    My point is that as Search Marketing Guides we get the benefit. Confused SMBs = Opportunity for the professionals.


  • Will, don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of anything that gives SMB’s even a *chance* to get more exposure than national Fortune 500 outfits. So on that score, I love this “new” offering as well.

    I just worry that the more of these types of products Google releases, the more opportunity for FUD (OK, at least UD) that business owners get, and the easier it is for them to fall prey to unethical Search Marketing Guides.

  • David,

    thanks for this update. it is getting confusing, just within Google. And to think, a local business is being slammed with ‘social media’, those pesky YellowPage and Dex sales people, email marketing, mobile, seo, sem, wtf, ppc, boost, extensions, Bing, Yelp, blah blah… ya know?

    Ever consider the business social graph? I think that likely has some merit, it’s like mashing up reviews in a social setting, throw in a simplified paid advertising campaign and soon Google will have additional signals to throw into their campaigns…let’s face it. They are in business for profit and any which way they can charge a business, likely on a PPC style, they will, as long as they aren’t comprimising their ‘organic’ results. But wait, Organic results are about ranking websites…NOT businesses. We live in America, unfortunately I think it’s going the way of the pockets for these local businesses on Google.

  • This has the potential to be a powerful tool for SMB’s but I worry that this makes the landscape more difficult for business owners to navigate on their own. While that creates great opportunities for professionals like ourselves it also paves the way for unscrupulous people to pray on the naivete of many business owners.

    I hope that through efforts like Google’s Third Party Policy ( Google can crack down on many of the businesses with poor transparency for their SEM programs (i.e. Reach Local, AT&T Advertising). With great eduction like hopefully we can educate the SMB’s to the level where they can better distinguish true SEO’s from the impostors.

    This is exhausting! 🙂

  • Is there any external, visually distinguishing features to differentiate between a Boost ad and an Adwords Ad with Location extensions?

  • I haven’t seen any ads with location extensions yet…. strange. But then again, Google is currently making a lot of changes to Google Places so maybe I’ll see them soon.

  • In my opinion, there are positive and negatives to this update. Which out-weighs the other, has yet to be determined in my business. On a positive note, we are finding more confusion among clients who actively participate with the campaigns we implement for them. Confusion is good because we come across as super “SEO guys”! On the other hand, I have to dedicate manpower to spend the twenty minutes per client explaining everything… We generally steer our clients away from adwords because most of them have not been pleased with PPC campaigns since the recent SERPs for local put the map in a place which covers the top ads on the first hint of scrolling down the page. This update may change everything, though. Unfortunately, it takes away from the effort we put in to include our clients in the maps results…Nevertheless, we will continue to do everything we can to get our clients “found” when searches are made! Whatever changes Google continues to make. I love the information spouted here; it helps us tremendously!

  • This is interesting, does anyone know when they’re going to implement it? I tried to duplicate the search above but didn’t see any blue pushpins.

  • @Gina these types of results are showing now on a broad range of searches

  • @Mike

    I can’t distinguished between the two… only my different phone #s & the headers of the ads are the differences between of them.

    I wonder, though, if someone can see his both PPC Location Extensions ad & his Boost ad?

  • I’ve noticed a few references to Tags lately. Is this the same beast or a separate idea?

  • David, I’d buy one of these blue pins.
    They provide the contrast the brain
    is looking for when making a decision.

    The picture you have above is almost
    like a diagram from Thinkertoys, the book
    by Michael Michalko that demonstrates
    where the eye will go to when looking at an image.

    Blue is also a very trustworthy colour.

    I haven’t seen this in the UK yet but it is
    a great play from Google if it is a simple
    process to purchase it. I don’t think Google
    will make it easy though. Everything they do on the
    ad front is much harder than Facebook.

    Still, those advanced SMB’s that keep an eye on this,
    do it and track it, will, I think, be rewarded.

  • @Puresheer
    One way to distinguish would be the ad title, no? Boost requires the business name, adwords with local extensions, not.

  • what you are showing…isn’t this just google boost going national? seems like an easy way to dominate the local landscape if you ask me.

  • Hey

    Is Google now showing old Google places format for many listings? When the oct 27th update took places most of my clients soared in the rankings. Now it looks like about one third of them have dropped out of site because they are showing the old pre oct 27th 7 pack.

    Something is going on. Why do they keep changing things? This seem to have happened as soon as Google boost went national.

  • I’ve been worried about these #boost ad’s (blue push pin) taking business away from my clients listings that are all 1A on their respective pages. It’s still early days but a couple of things that have made me feel better is that they’re still clearly a paid ad which the majority of users stay clear of. Also the price for these clicks seem to be considerably higher than the normal PPC, this kills the ROI for most verticals so I don’t see it as something everyone will want to use.

  • dave

    kill most verticals? hardly. most professionals (doctors, dentists, lawyers etc) will happily pay for these clicks and have a killer roi.

  • It’s all getting pretty confusing.

    We have Google Boost Ads ( in the US only ) with blue or red pins. We have Google Adwords local extensions. We have Google Local Places tags. We have Local Business reviews – we have local places text in amongst the search results.

    And this complexity will help small businesses prioritise being on Google ??

    RIP : The clean easy to understand Google search results page…

  • I am a SMB, not local search guy, and this post and most of the comments miss the point from the SMB’s perspective. For me, I have a nice “Pin A” listing on google maps thanks to hard work on my Google Places account, and good client reviews. Now, someone comes along who , pays for a Boost Ad, and gets a Blue pin A above me. Is he now going to get consumers who are looking for me, and assume Pin A (whether Blue or Red) is the same business? Talk about a failure, on Google’s part, to reward what they claim they seek to reward!

  • I believe the blue pin is a a boost ad…the ads have been rolled out to many more cities including NY but I think the cost is too high relative to what you can purchase adwords positioning for…there are several levels of participation a local boost advertiser can consider…all of them too costly in my opinion!

  • I think the post and especially the comments reflect how much of the Google (and Local specifically) optimization requires a balance and flexibility, as each client/case vary. There certainly isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach that can work.

  • So what is the difference between the red pushpin and the blue pushpin?