Ep 39: Amazon goes local BOPIS, Impact of images in Google Local search, Google Local driving the most leads

Amazon dips toes in local buy online and pickup in store, The arc of the impact of images in Google Local search, Google Local driving the bulk of leads in most industries

Ep 39: Amazon goes local BOPIS, Impact of images in Google Local search, Google Local driving the most leads
Photo by freestocks / Unsplash

Part 1 Video Starts 0:13 - Amazon dips toes in local buy online and pickup in store to compete with Google Product Merchants

Part 2 Video- Starts 8:42 - The arc of the impact of images in Google Local search past and future

Part 3 Video- Starts 13:40 - Google Local driving the bulk of leads in most industries directly from the Google Business Profile

Reference Articles

  1. Best “Meta” Analysis Article - Stratechery
  2. Amazon Goes BOPIS with 'Local Selling’
  3. The Local SEO Firehose: The State of Local Search in 2022 - Images & Videos
  4. How Many Leads Does Google My Business (GMB) Drive?

Transcript: EP 39

Greg: Welcome to episode 39 of the near memo. Uh, I'm here with David and Mike, and we're going to be talking about lots of interesting things. In fact, we had a long discussion about what we were going to talk about because there are too many things to talk about, to talk about this week. Um, we won't be talking about the Facebook.

Um, rebranding slash metaverse. Maybe we'll do that later. Uh, there's a lot to say on that, but I

David: do have to say a quick comment. I can't, I can't resist the, the landing page, uh, for the rebrand, which if you type metta.com, that's how I got there. Um, is one of the most dystopian landing pages I've ever seen.

It's a bunch of people, you know, alone in their social metaverse with their VR goggles on, and there's one, there's one where a guy is like texting on his phone and his girlfriend as the. What the hell man, like I'm right here, kind of look on her face. Uh, it's just very and Zuckerberg in this sort of, you know, weird dystopian, uh, X mocking us style landscape by himself.

I mean, it's just a really horrific piece of marketing, uh, from a company that desperately needs better marketing.

Mike: And I saw on Twitter that a Wendy's was going to rebrand as.

David: That's one of the best reasons. Anyway, that's not one of the main

Greg: items. There, there bit, a bunch of these brand jacking tweets that have been pretty funny, that meat is.

Yeah. Um, and in today's world that might work as a fast food brand,

Mike: but then you'd have to, you'd have to sub qualify whether it's real meat or synthesized to me. That's

Greg: right. That's right. Or, and then veggie vegan synthesize meat because Mike McDonald's had been using synthesize meat for years. Um, okay.

So we did talk about medicine. Um, but, uh, also, um, I'm writing about, but we'll, we won't be talking about the, uh, the liberal fake reviews report that came out together with the TripAdvisor, uh, which was a

Mike: great report done. I think people should download it if they haven't seen it. I thought you did a really nice job on it.

I can toot your doorstep, endorse it fully.

Greg: Well. I mean, regardless of whether or not. My work is good. It's a, it's an important issue for the, for the industry and not enough is being done. And I'll put the download link in the, uh, in the newsletter today. But I am going to start off with, uh, an item that actually appeared last week in last Friday's newsletter, but really didn't get any coverage, uh, or discussion that I could see.

Um, and that was, uh, the announcement of Amazon's local selling, which is, uh, an effort by Amazon to. Um, essentially utilize it's small business sellers in any given geography to act as, um, buy online pickup in store outlets or local delivery sources for products. So in other words,

Mike: it was their products or was it anyway?

Greg: It's well, as far as I understand, it's third-party sellers and it's their own products that they have in store and they have to apply right now. You have to apply for this. And it's a, it's a kind of a little bit under the radar, but I thought it was a fascinating announcement because Google's key strategy in competing with Amazon has been to show a mix of local inventory and.

E-commerce inventory, right? So they can sort of claim that we're the, we're the source of, you know, the totality of options for you and to, and to really emphasize the local online, to offline, uh, kind of experience. And Amazon really that's, that's something that Amazon hasn't been able to offer. And now they're sort of dipping their toe in the water of trying to do something like that and really leveraging their sellers to compete with.

Um, it's not so much a benefit for the seller as it is a benefit for Amazon. Ultimately, if they can get this going at some kind of.

Mike: It's an area that Google, I thought when they, when they started this effort several years ago, I thought it was brilliant positioning by Google to create an alternative way of getting into reclaiming product search at a local level.

And they've done a number of things with this regard re recalling frugal, right? Making merchant center, free partnering with Shopify. Real-time inventory up. And now when you do a product search, you are likely to see local results, which I thought so Google has been killing it. I think on this front, I don't know how much success they've had, but I think from a development point of view, and I see Amazon's responses, uh, to some extent of daylight they're dollars short.

I'm not sure

David: I happened to use Google shopping a couple of times this week and they were. Uh, filter in there. I hadn't remembered seeing before, which is you can actually check smaller stores as a, as a source of the products. What is the verbatim?

Greg: What is the verbatim name of the. Smaller stores. Oh,

David: that's

Greg: interesting.

I haven't seen

David: that either. So that was new to me anyway, but I feel like there's a new search feature. I, every day that seems new to me that very shorts covered three years ago. So, um, so anyway, I, I agree with both what, both of what you guys were saying or what both of you guys were saying in terms of, of, you know, Google's market positioning, everything else.

I wonder on the Amazon front, if it's not going to extend a little bit further, uh, Mike you've written historically that, or previously that the. Uh, partnership for Amazon prime has been a win-win for both parties, and it's not that far fetched to see this rolling out to our merchants, then Kohl's as part of this return, making them into return executives.

Yeah, which is, which is re you know, Coles has data to suggest that people buy X number of dollars in Kohl's every time they return an Amazon item. Um, so it's, it's possible that something like that, you know, can come of this partnership as well. I continue to think that that Amazon's real, uh, you know, the, the real businesses that they're destroying are large CPG brands and large in store brands, like traditionally in store brands, like Walmart target, you know, big box stores.

I think that. They're a dent in local businesses has been a little bit over-reported and, uh, small businesses have seen tremendous success as marketplace sellers, and in much the same way that they have succeeded selling on eBay or other online marketplaces. So I think that this is a, uh, you know, it's, it's good branding for Amazon.

It's a good market strategy. Uh, against Google. And I think that there could be longer-term benefits for local

Mike: merchant, uh, to make a point on what you just said, like the borders of the world went out of business, but there's now more independent bookstores.

Greg: Is that true? Is that, is that really true? That, that historically there have never been more independent

Mike: books.

I don't know about more, but they're growing again. Yeah. Well,

Greg: so interestingly, Amazon, and in addition, everybody else, I mean, this has been a very heavy week of earnings. Uh, Amazon reported their earnings yesterday and I didn't look at them in detail, but one of the, one of the things that I did see was that their, their growth was really sort of flat to non-existent.

Right. So, so what's happened is people are starting to go back into store. Essentially, and they're buying less stuff online and Amazon is seeing that in its numbers. And so this may partly be, you know, I mean, I think everything that we've talked about is true. And I think your point David, about, uh, some of these stores being returned, you know, places where people can return products is really a fascinating one.

But I think that this is also partly a response to, to what's going on in the broader market is that Amazon really fundamentally recognize that the offline component is really essential. You know, future future growth. And there are all sorts of ways in which they've developed offline, you know, presence, uh, including sort of hypothetically their own discount stores, which they may or may not.

Uh, but that was a rumor

Mike: for a while. Their expenses were way up too, as they sort of had to cope with supply chain issues and delivery issues. And they doubled down on investing in that. So their expenses were way up. Although usually with Amazon, I don't see that as a, as a big issue because usually when they invest like that, it's not just a short-term thing there they're building capacity and.

Uh, tangentially to that I saw that they have now become the number three package deliver in the United States as passing FedEx and do third behind ups and mid stage.

Greg: Yep. Um, well we could talk a lot more about Amazon and a lot of interesting things going on there, but I want to move on in the interest of time.

And Mike, you did a webinar yesterday for duty. Uh, with, uh, joy Hawkinson, Ben Fisher, in which you talked a lot about images on Google, and I know that's, uh, a particular interest of yours. So why don't you tell

Mike: people? We all did joy has done some great research, but I mean, to me, what's interesting about images and Google is this arc.

The historical arc, where Google started developing their AI to understand image content and how that's affected the local search results, where they are now driving ads, local packs, mobile, uh, organic results with intent driven queries. They're delivering up images that match the query and represents their increasing understanding.

So if you, for example, do a product search like a Nikon. Uh, product and that can camera and that will show up in the ads. It'll show up. Images will show up in local pack. Images will show in the organic mobile, uh, thumbnails, and this is all done without the benefit of image off. It's done with Google's understanding of the context and the content of the image,

David: right?

It also works with Janette. It doesn't even have to be a specific product, can be a generic product category such as strollers. And you'll see the stroller department at Walmart showing up in an image and the local pack. So, so

Mike: that w we talked a lot about that and how a company like air.cam I'm consulting for is leveraging this to understand how they understand images.

So when you take the image initially, Be clear that the image is understood by Google because machine learning is never perfect and they often make stupid machine learning mistakes. And it's important for SEOs to think about it. In that bi-modal way that it has to serve both the aesthetic interests of the business, as well as the technical understanding of Google ads of the image.

So we talked about that in great length. The other thing we talked about was video and how video, and one of the things I just wanted to mention here was just this tactical idea of using Riverside for local SEOs or for any SEO to generate content. Riverside is the pack we're using to record this, which you have no economic relationship with.

I have no economic relationship with that's correct. Um, if

Greg: the, uh, if the FTC is listening yes.

Mike: But the idea was that you could use this to interview your small business. Uh, customers who have tremendous hard time generating content for their website, ask them eight or nine questions. Get eat, get two minute answers.

They get they're super high quality they're uploaded to the cloud. You can then edit them, transcribe them and have a year's worth of content. And a half hour or an hour recording session. And it was just about, and so I just see the evolution of these video tools and the evolution of these photographic tools and something that agencies can leverage for their clients, a super significant gain.

And I think that's an amazing thing.

Greg: Two, two quick points on that. I mean, increasingly search has concentrated on mobile devices, images and video are better suited to mobile device. You know, in term that rather than extended text articles. Um, and then, um, what's, uh, Oh, now I'm blanking. On the second point

Mike: I was going to make.

Well, the second point I would make is that Google is now going to be using, as we go forward over the next five years, Google is going to use images as part of a query string, right? That historically have been able to drop an image into a lens, get a single answer back, but know, you can add context to an image that you're dropping into Google search and textual context.

And Google will answer the. Query in context. So Google has used it historically for search results and matching intent. Now they're actually going to regenerate. So it opens up a whole new area of SEL, which is matching images to the, to the queries, how that would work to search intent. Right. I

Greg: remember I remember this, the second thing I was going to say

Mike: mine is a second point.

Greg: Okay. No, no, I liked it. But, um, it's related to what you said is that, is that increasingly sort of visual search will be. Uh, whether it's being conducted, um, sort of online in, in a sense, you know, like the Instagram, uh, search for related products feature or Pinterest, right? You're on the site and you click on an image or you upload the image as you're you're mentioning, or, or if in the real world, right.

I mean, you're, you're in a S in a store and you take a picture of a lamp or a chair, or you're out in the world and you take a picture of a stroller. Right? So those, those are increasing use cases going to. And Google wants to be able to serve them, you know, and it can today, but I mean, it'll get better and better, um, as an alternative sort of vehicle for search rather than a kind of query in a box,

Mike: which speaks to the actual use of AR as opposed to the imagined used of AR.

Mendez introduction yesterday to circle back to, to the,

Greg: to the, to the company. We won't, we're not going to talk about, um,

David: no, I, I'm going to take a stab at a segue though. Mike, from images to the importance of images within your Google, my business page. To draw in customers and, uh, joy Hawkins finally, after years of me bugging her, although I'm sure that wasn't the real reason that she did it.

Um, finally published the results of her ongoing analysis of where her, where leads for her clients are coming from vis-a-vis the GMB profile versus organic results. And it's something that Mike, you and I have Highland. For years, uh, it's great that joy finally published this data, which historically had only lived in one slide of a Moz con presentation from like 2019 or something, uh, which went to show that GMB is responsible basically for three, three to one, uh, versus, uh, Google organic leads, uh, for a whole range of categories.

I think insurance, uh, PI lawyers, uh, might've been a dentist in there. I don't remember what the third category was. Um, but it's, it's just, it's pretty staggering. GMV is responsible for, you know, for so much of the convert ultimate conversion of your customers. And I still think it's just wildly neglected by businesses of all sizes with respect to their SEO investment, right?

There's people that are spending all of this time on, uh, on onsite SEO. And when reality, they need to be focused on the point of contact or the point of decision for a whole range of at least getting customers in the door. Uh, which is GMB and, and a huge part of that is images. Uh, so there's a historic underinvestment in image optimization.

A lot of things. Mike was just talking about two minutes ago. Um, there's I think a historic underinvestment in reviews, uh, and, uh, historic underinvestment in just general responsiveness to customers on GMB, whether that's leaving questions on answered or reviews unresponded to. So I just feel like it, it, the more that this store.

It gets out there with actual data from studies like Joy's, uh, published on Sterling sky.ca. Um, I'm hopeful that that will start to move the marketing conversation. Uh, to where I think it should be. If you want your business, do you attract customers

Mike: and this trend, which I've identified in Google as your homepage presentation, I think in 2017, the local, you advanced for Barbara Oliver at that point, 60% of her leads or something were coming from Google.

My business directly. When I reanalyzed that six months ago, 90%. So that number is growing as well. So it's,

Greg: it's pretty

David: intuitive point joy pointed that out as well, that GMB, uh, leads are growing across the board in all these categories. Whereas organic leads were much more volatile and that's the other thing is like you're, you're much more subject to the whims of the algorithm, whatever algorithmic update there is.

Whereas with, if you're focused on GMB, you've got a strong GMB presence. Hey, that algorithm has seemed to be more stable, historically, at least anecdotally to. And be, you know, it's something that consumers are actually going to see even on our, on a recovery search as opposed to a discovery one. So,

Greg: so, so I mean, I've heard SEO's disparaged, the people that are focused on GMB, you know, kind of talk, talk negatively about them and that this is, this is sort of child's play in the SEO world versus what they're doing, which is most.

Uh, elaborate and important function. But in fact, I mean, as you're saying that you could just concentrate your entire effort. If you were, if you were a business that had a physical location or a service area business, you could concentrate your entire effort on. Uh, Google my business and, and be fine, you know, without any organic optimization.

I mean, if you had to choose

David: organic optimization, plays into

Greg: the ranking factor, it's, it's definitely a ranking factor according to Google. But, but if, if for a small business that doesn't have a lot of time, it doesn't have a lot of money. This is where to concentrate. Go ahead, Mike.

Mike: I mean, the point, the reality of local is you need a way.

Yes to, to serve your local, Google my business. So in terms of priorities, website and Google, my business are sort of tied for first, but

Greg: you can use one of these platforms that has built in

Mike: optimization, correct? Or you could even, if you were really low end users, The website and stuff as, as

David: you, as a spot to be a case study,

Mike: right?

Correct. So there are, but you do have to have a website. That's what people need to understand as part of this, it could be, you know, a free website. It could, but it, you have to have. Visible and indexable and has what you do and where you do it, all that sort of stuff. Obviously, if you invest more in that chair, I think you're going to do better and go to my local, but satisfy 90% of your demand with those two tools, yet emails that capture all these customers.

You've got an, a trifecta. Future

Greg: success. I mean, my, my point was only that you, you, that you would focus your effort, that you, you know, you would not be distributing your, your energy and, and, and resources equally. I mean, I think for sir, there's a longer conversation probably for service area businesses.

Because sometimes they have trouble in GMB, you know, getting, getting represented.

David: And in fact, there's reports this week that there's a, you know, been a decline in SAP. Yeah. Wait, whether it's an algorithm update or SAP's have been much more historically impacted by radical changes in GMD than other types of businesses and that's a

Greg: whole different area and then challenging.

Yep. All right. So, all right. So we're at time, last words today, any metal words

Mike: I'm going to rebrand is Mike

Greg: Metta

David: mic. I'm waiting for my meta profile to, uh, start capturing all of that. VR followers that I know must be out there somewhere. I did

Mike: see that they're coming out with a watch. I'm not going to switch.

You're talking about a Facebook watch.

Greg: Yes. Yeah.

Mike: Watch a metal watch. Oh, are you

Greg: serious? Mehta watch? Is that? Yes. That's so they can met a watch you all the time anyway. All right. On that, on that dystopian, but yet still a humorous note in today's, uh, near memo and we'll see you next week.

David: All right. Thanks for listening everybody.