EP 23: Google Play store antitrust suit futile?, Good Local content makes the difference, Yext Search Data hub provides GMB Insights at scale

Google Play store antitrust suit futile? Case Study: Good Local content succeeds against Google algo updates! Yext Search Data Hub provides interesting GMB Insights Data across 600,000 listings

EP 23: Google Play store antitrust suit futile?, Good Local content makes the difference, Yext Search Data hub provides GMB Insights at scale
Photo by rupixen.com / Unsplash

Part 1 Video Starts 00:13: Google Play store antitrust suit futile?

Part 2 Video- Starts 7:04: Case Study: Good Local content succeeds against Google algo updates!

Part 3 Video- Starts 18:38 Yext Search Data Hub provides interesting GMB Insights Data across 600,000 listings

Reference Articles

1 Do App Store Rules Matter?

2 What We’re Seeing From the June & July Core Updates [Case Study]

3- Original Content and Original Authors Identified by Google

4 Yext Search Data Hub


Greg: Okay. Hello, welcome everybody. Um, I'm back after a week of vacation with David and Mike, and we're here with the near memo, talking about the week's news and events and controversial happenings as always. Um, I don't know what episode this is. 2323. Okay. All right. 23. And, I guess we're ready to go here.

So I'm up first with, uh, the, the issue this week that I'm going to talk about is, um, the lawsuit, the antitrust suit against, uh, Google play, which sort of corresponds to similar antitrust efforts going on, uh, targeting apple and then Facebook also had a report. Uh, well, it was a third-party report sponsored by Facebook that was talking about how default apps crash.

Uh, insurgent or challenger absent and, um, harm competition. So, uh, the interesting question here, uh, beyond the fact that I think all these anti-trust suits face long odds based on what we saw happen with the dismissal of the FTC suit against Facebook. Uh, th th the interesting question here is, um, you know, if these actions had their way, meaning that, uh, no default app.

Uh, diminished control over these app stores, would, would anything would the competitive dynamics in the market change? That's the interesting thing to think about, you know, if everything proceeded as the government, once and as competitors, one, what would happen in terms of consumer behavior? And I think that my position, which I think, uh, Benedict Evans is also articulate.

Uh, is that we wouldn't see that much change because people would gravitate toward their familiar apps and would simply install them. Um, there might be some change at the margins, but it wouldn't be significant who disagrees. I generally agree with you. Uh, but I will say that, um, I think it would significantly harm apple maps, not to be the default mapping application on iOS.

Uh, I think I would agree with that. I would agree with that. I actually think it would increase the market share of Google maps, uh, based on the behaviors in my own family, among non tech oriented people, uh, who have been using apple maps for years thinking it was Google maps. Um, so I think that's great.

I think if they were forced to install a mapping application that, that. It would likely be Google maps. So I think that's an excellent point. I think that that, that, that illustrates the larger point that I'm making. But in this case it would be ironic because the default app promotes competition in the, in the apple maps case.

But if it was reliant upon people's familiarity with the brand, they would go for Google maps sort of further, uh, exacerbating the monopoly problem. Do you think the default paradox.

Mike: Just of, I mean, obviously the fault is an issue and maybe forcing apple to require that everybody download apps. Although even there I could, I could see it being here's the seven apps we recommend click them to just download.

Ultimately the problems, the FTC ran into one, they dealt with some of that this last week by voting to be, uh, to, to make it easier to do antitrust enforcements with this three to partisan vote, to make it easier to do the, to allow staff, to research it and to allow it to be brought forward without the need for a judge.

Um, but without additional legal guidance from Congress. I think what happened in the Facebook case, getting thrown out might happen again. So while the FTC is positioning itself to be a more active player in this regard, it's not clear that are. Framework, the judicial framework is still the old framework of consumer harm.

And without changing the law, there's going to be a difficult time for any of these cases.

Greg: Presumably the six, five or six antitrust bills that have made it out of the house or made it, made it out of committee, um, and will pass, uh, with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Uh, start to do that. I mean, I don't have them in front.

But I think that they start to, to create a different analytic framework, but I, I agree that. Uh, the, the, the court is, is operating under a, kind of an outdated way of looking at antitrust,

Mike: right? Certainly our trust theory is getting closer to Europe and closer to it was in the fifties and forties, whether it will get there.

And how long does it take to get there? It's unclear, but it's interesting that Google was sued and their app store was sued. Some of that seems to be around the fact that they're requiring use of Google pay on checkout. Uh, you know, there's, if you're going to be in the app store, you don't have to be, but you're going to be in the app store.

You have to use Google pay. So maybe that's, I don't

Greg: know. Yeah. Um, that, that may be, that may be one of the, one of the issues. I mean, the, the, the, the, this question of trying to, um, trying to invigorate competition against the backdrop of consumer behavior, which is pretty complacent. Uh, and driven by if this is not a paradox inertia, right?

So two people are lazy, do what they always do, and it's, it's hard to get people to do, to do new things and different things, which is the persistent challenge that Google competitors face or, or new browsers face. And, and I'm not sure that we get any different outcomes in the market at all. No matter how much the structure, uh, changes other than what you said, David, which I agree with that apple maps might say.

If it were not the default it's it's, you know, so they can go through a lot of effort and energy and time and litigation, and maybe nothing changes as a practical matter. Do you think there are certain areas though, where it might, um, as you said, you know, help along the margins? I think that there probably are plenty of people who, you know, are currently defaulting to Google or whatever in safari.

I have iOS device that if presented, you know, sort of like the nutrition label, like if presented that they have to make a choice, setting up their phones, you know, all the way along that there might be, you know, a shift of 10% or something in, in one direction or another. Um, but yeah, I generally think that regardless of device.

Uh, our, our habits as consumers are really locked in and, uh, in some cases increasingly, so as a part of COVID or as a result of COVID and, um, I think it will be hard for, for new entrance and a lot of these market categories, um, regardless of the outcome of this particular case. So speaking of search, not exactly, but sort of, um, Mike, you wanted to talk about the new year.

Data hub that was launched, uh, earlier this week or maybe late last, last week that shows a bunch of data about activity going on on their network and

Mike: right. So they, they released what they call their search data hub at yext.com/search-data-hub. And I just thought it was a, obviously it integrates Google listings with their net.

Listings, which that part of it, their search network, you know, I looked at that data and couldn't quickly make heads or tails of it. Well,

Greg: yeah, that's a bunch of, that's a bunch of third party apps and directory sites.

Mike: It didn't make sense, but the Google data is interesting because they have data on 678,000 businesses in the United States, 580,000, I think it was.

And they track the data that comes out of. Uh, very out of the GMB insights, which, you know, in and of itself, isn't totally accurate, but it's directionally accurate and it's, you can see this over a timeframe from the beginning of 2019 to the current time. And it's presented in what I find to be a relatively simple interface that allows you to define the time period.

Particular countries to find verticals, um, and understand what's happening in Google, uh, across the board. So what I thought was interesting was, uh, when I went into, uh, the United States only, um, and looked at like clicks, um, or queries rather, uh, hang on, like bring it up. Um,

Greg: Shouldn't you have done this ahead

Mike: of time. I did, but it blew it my screen away. So I looked at, uh, clicks and clicks have largely returned, like driving directions have largely returned to 2019 levels, for example, in the United States. Um, and, and we're and clicks on phone calls or ahead of 20, 20 and 2019.

And. Website clicks or ahead of both years. So, and you can see that the bulk of this has happened in the last three or four months, um, and coinciding

Greg: with the reopening

Mike: of the, the reopening after a year of month over month declines and driving directions. So it, it, it shows that and shows you across phone calls across websites, and then, you know, a similar, uh, piece of data for, um, you know, queries as well.

So you can get a sense of. What's happening by vertical. And I just think it's useful because it's a, it's a good summary of the data that we can see broadly what's happening. So

Greg: just to put you on the spot a second, what would be like a practical use case for, for a digital marketer, for example,

Mike: um, one, it allow you to see, again, the Google data is a little bit screwing things like impressions, but the click through rate.

Are valuable to see whether, for example, during COVID, um, a lot of website traffic went up and driving directions went down. So we can now see whether driving directions are going to replace those website visits or whether the website visits are going to stay high. So we can get a sense of where people are going to be converting.

I mean, if you determine that people are converting more, go back to. Google as opposed to the website, then it would change where you do it, make your efforts, but put your efforts. And I think it's just of interest both economically and to the industry to surface this

Greg: data. Sure. More data is better than less.

I think it's really, I think it's very interesting. So first of all, uh, hats off to the product marketer at Yext or the team that came up with, uh, this concept, it's something that we, uh, Built an initial version of at thrive five that I don't think a thrive is maintaining any longer. It was specific to GMB.

So not across an entire network, which we didn't have, which, which yaks does. Um, I think it's a really valuable resource. Um, I think it highlights something that Mike, you and I have been talking about for years, just in terms of the dominance of GMB as a, as a lead source. Um, I was just playing around with this, uh, just today and, um, notice that, you know, the, their, their average location in their network gets something like, uh, 800 or 900 actions on GMB, uh, in a given month.

Um, if you add up driving directions, uh, phone calls and website visits and in whatever they did, uh, define as a long tail network, that same number of clicks is, is like 90. So Google is, is 10 to one. Okay. Uh, their long tail, um, wherever that long tail metric is. And I think that that speaks to just how dominant GMB has become and, and adds, uh, real data to that story that you and I have been been trying to get out there.

Well, it also, it also in a certain weird, ironic way adds fuel to the long tail network. Doesn't matter anymore. Argument that Mike, you have been a big proponent of, um, you know, I mean, at Uber, all we did find that there was. There was value. There was ranking value to having the broader distribution, but this, this data adds, adds more, uh, ammunition to the, to the, to the anti, um, listings management argument.

It seems to me, yeah, I don't disagree, but I would, I would like a little more definition on, on. How many long-tail and what, what what's going into these metrics. Exactly. But I think it, there's, there's two separate questions. Like where are the consumers congregating and, and, and does the long-tail have any relationship to, uh, to ranking on, on Google and, you know, the prominence factor suggests that it does the study.

We did suggest that that still exists. Um, but in terms of consumer traffic, it's not happy. Outside of, you know, a very few number of places. Right. Which


Greg: back to suggest, yeah. Do a good enough job with your long tail stuff and put all of your marketing energy into making a really powerful GMB listing with photos and links to appointments and good reputation management on Google.

It just, I that's, the argument I've been trying to make is not that the other stuff you know is completely irrelevant, but people are not focusing their time and budget. Accordingly, uh, relative to the oxygen, which seems, which seems to me, I mean, uh, I mean, maybe I've just heard this too many times and been too close to it, but it just seems to me that that's kind of a self-evident thing at this point, what you just said, that, that people need to really focus on, on, on Google my business, but maybe it's not.

So just from an overall slash UX standpoint, I don't even know what the rack rate is for a, uh, an annual subscription, right. I'll just use a hundred dollars just as a, as a sort of easy number to, to latch onto I think it's negotiable. Yeah. So, so if that's the case for the sort of cost of the listing on the network, uh, to me, that would suggest, okay, well, I should be spending a thousand dollars a year on great photos or a really good reputation manager, like on a salary.

Uh, just devoted to GMB. Um, if that's the, that's the investment you're going to make in a, in a long tail listing distribution at a a hundred bucks, you should be spending 10 X that on just GMB. Yeah. Right. And an

Mike: example of that, Greg, you know, I'm involved in consulting for air doc cam. Who's pushing this local photography and what we're seeing across brands.

Complete, uh, oblivious ness to their local photography. And when we switched the photography out and we compare in market performance with great photography versus not, we're seeing massive ROI and it was just huge. It should be a given it isn't well, no, the

Greg: photography thing I think is a more complicated, subtle point in a certain way because, um, maybe, but so the, so w quick follow up question.

So, so there's the idea of consumers responding more to better photographs, better images. And then there's the idea of the algorithm and Google responding to that. Do you, do you, are you making any distinction between those?

Mike: I hesitate to go there. Everybody wants that. Uh, to me, you know, everybody wants you to go there.

Everybody wants me to go there. There's a known positive, like there's enough positive uplift that it doesn't matter how. Oh, there you go. There you go. I mean, we're seeing, you know, just, uh, greater click throughs, greater exposure, everything. So whether it's happening because more people are clicking. So they're

Greg: sampling function of visibility, which is a function probably of the, you know, the algorithm that's rewarding, good photography on some level.

Mike: Have you delivering photographs that meet the query intent seems to help. Right?

Greg: Interestingly, so interestingly now, you know, moment feed was acquired by Uber. All of course. And, um, you know, uh, I couldn't say anything when we were having that initial discussion, but moment feed has been using air cam and they said that they're getting really positive responses from, uh, from customers from that.

Right. Yep. We have to sort of break away from this little incestuous moment here. Well, just at thrive five weeks that we certainly found anecdotal data from our, uh, clients who we advised on photography on GMB that they saw, you know, the, the, uh, metrics, a lot of the same metrics that UX is tracking, you know, showed a similar.

Um, from just a little more care and attention paid to their photos, even if they weren't professionally shot or, um, you know, on point with respect to the subject, matter of the photos. So, um, I just use that as one example that I think there's plenty of other elements of GMB to optimize, and I think it's.

Radically undervalued, given this discrepancy of where consumer eyeballs are versus the rest of locals. So, well, so just one quick anecdotal point before we moved on to your, uh, item about content pruning, um, which is I'm, I've got to put a new roof on my house. Uh, this is real world situation and, um, I'm using, uh, Google and Yelp are the two, right?

So Google for some initial data. What you don't like Yelp, you said I

Mike: don't. I mean, I do not think that you can find a reliable service provider using search. I just think that there's, that the flaws, the intrinsic claws create such a unreliable.

Greg: Well, actually, actually I have to amend that. So we use next door, Google and Yelp and the one we, and the one that we ultimately chose.

We initially found on next door based on their record.

Mike: And that makes sense to me that you start with a recommendation and work from there in .

Greg: Yeah. You rebelled it with reviews. I mean, this is, this is we, weren't going to talk about next door today, but this is why next door has such an opportunity that they may not be able to fully capitalize on, but we'll leave that for another day.

So let's go to you, David, and, uh, Joy's article and content. Sure. Our friend joy Hawkins, uh, you know, not by any stretch, not her first, uh, really thoughtful and interesting, uh, blog posts even this year. Um, but she did a pretty detailed analysis of a couple of clients that Sterling school. Uh, it works with and how they've, I guess there was a big algorithm update, uh, at Google the last couple of months.

Um, I think it's, I think it's falling to sort of follow the, you know, you're, you're sort of chasing your tail if you're chasing the algorithm updates, but she, she did a really detailed analysis of why a couple of clients, uh, performed exceedingly well. And I thought really interesting of note that one of their, uh, GMB locations where they don't actually do any work actually declined.

But that the client's organic performance was a substantial improvement as a result of these two updates. And she highlighted a couple of things that I think are really underrated, undervalued, very traditional SEO strategies. Um, there's been a sort of misguided, um, A mantra for a lot of content marketers, uh, and SEOs as a result, um, to just, you know, Hey, we need a piece of content about X keyword and more content targeting more keywords is going to get us more track.

And that, to me misses a huge piece of the algorithmic puzzle, which is Google's, you know, whether you call it like crawl equity or whatever, like you're the strength of your domain. Uh, you know, can only filter down to so many pages. And especially if you're a small business, that's not the New York times, which has a direct pipe into Google or whatever.

And you're going to rank instantly for long tail keyword content as a small business, you're much better off, much better served focusing on. A smaller number of pages that are really great pages, really deep pages. Um, Mike, you called them in our sort of, you know, prep work for this, uh, for this podcast sort of hub pages, uh, demonstrating really deep expertise.

And so Joyce has mentioned that she has, she has been going back with these clients that are doing well in these last two updates and sort of pruning old content, consolidating old content, repurposing, older content. Um, and she theorizes that's one of the reasons that these clients. Are performing better.

And, uh, one of our friends, Andy Crestodina from orbit media has been promoting this theme, uh, for a long time as well. Um, I just think it's, we've got to start, um, pushing back against this more content is better, uh, you know, kind of trend that has seemed to me to have taken over, uh, content marketing and SEO for the last several years and realize no, actually.

Good content is better. Um, and, and that a few pages of really great content, uh, can actually drive better results than it looks like. Maybe that's one of the implications of these, these latest two, uh, algorithm updates,

Mike: just to compliment that there was a recent, uh, patent analysis by bill Slawsky at go fish digital, where he there's a new patent that indicates that Google has the technology to determine which content is the original.

And which is, which is

Greg: that's good. That's good. If that in fact gets implemented

Mike: and, and what the author's strength is of that original content through a reiterative view of original articles associated with authors. So it's back to this idea of having original content with recognizable authors producing in an ongoing basis, better content.

So you can understand how if they start with the New York times and a writer at the New York times, And then compare that to everybody else or wherever the original stuff is coming from. Um, it could lead to this outcome of this algorithm and, and practice or the benefit of that practice.

Greg: Yeah. I mean, the, the idea of just creating building blog posts around keywords is still very prevalent.

Um, I mean, I confront that in mind. World on a daily basis.

Mike: I mean, it's what it's, I mean, it, content's hard enough to look at and think this is important in and of itself, even when you're doing original work. And then to think that you're doing it because some keyword tool said you should makes it even doubly hard to do it.

Greg: Yeah. I mean, there's a sort of what I would call it kind of perfunctory approach to creating content with. That's a great, that's a great adjective for it. Yeah. And I think that, yeah. Uh, I actually, I hope that that's what this algorithm is targeting is sort of perfunctory content, uh, as opposed to, you know, deep thought creative content, regardless of industry.

Right. Um, I think joy, joy works with a lot of lawyers. I don't know if that was one of the clients that she was mentioning in this blog post or not, but, um, you know, even, even lawyers can do really creative things, right. You know, timetables of, of a typical case moving through the courts or whatever, um, that that's where they should be spending, you know, the lion's share of their energy, not around, you know, trying to optimize around a particular case type in a particular market.

You know, 62 times across their website,

Mike: I worked with a lawyer who is an employment lawyer and he had a blog that was just about employment cases involving NFL coach. And, and it was, and he was quite successful, right. Because it was a hobby, it was a passion and it was related to his work. Yeah.

Greg: Yeah. Well, I mean, you know, years, years ago, years ago there was this sort of, um, uh, I forgot what the, what the algorithm update was, was called, but it targeted these so-called content farms that everybody was creating.

Right. Where, where they were just all these, these entities Yahoo was doing it. Um, merchant circle, there were tons of. Companies creating content for the sake of getting page views and then driving impressions. Um, not exactly this is similar kind of thing, but, but Google wiped out a lot of those businesses with a, with an algorithm and it was designed to get rid of sort of all the spammy content in the search results.

And we're, we're dealing with sort of a, you know, two dot O version of that in a S in a way. And I think as it relates to small businesses, maybe one of the reasons that we've seen this kind of, you know, pop back up as a problem is this is how agencies like to sell it. Right. They're like, oh, we'll write 15 pages of content for $1,500.

Right. It's like a very easy deliverable, but actually they'd be better served building a single page for that $1,500 and making that a really killer page. So I think some of the small businesses though, Have the sort of sophistication to really recognize the point that you're making and instead see the volume as the value, unfortunately.

Yeah. So necessarily a positive note, but not a negative one, either. Just a really interesting story. Yeah. I guess it's positive that Joy's clients have, you know, obviously seen some benefit working with her. So, yes, I, I would say on a, on a positive note that if you can go and spend some time at the beach, as I was fortunate enough to do this past week, it's a, it's a very therapeutic, uh, thing.

And, um, you know, helps, uh, increase creativity, clear your mind, all those sort of new age kind of. Um, that's great. Well, we're still glad you're back. So yes, I'm, I'm glad that we go running off anytime soon. I, I'm glad to be back and a little overwhelmed by all the stuff that's going on. Um, but uh, you know, doing my best to synthesize it all into a coherent presentation.

So, um, okay. All right. Well, as always, thanks for joining us, we'll be back next week and, uh, give us feedback, subscribe to our newsletter. And, um, you guys close it out with some, we'll see you next time. Thanks for listening. Okay, great.