As of last week Google Sponsor Tags became available for all 50 States.
If you run Google Places when you login you will see the option to "Activate Google Sponsor Tag"
Hurry, Hurry, Hurry... Or look before you leap.
Yes the yellow Google Tag looks pretty hot on your map listing, but what is it really doing for your business?
As any good internet marketer, turning to the numbers is the only way to determine what is really happening. Unfortunately not all the numbers are there, or at least not for the marketers disposal to slice and dice them the way the marketer would desire.
Take a look at these Numbers!...?
It looks pretty impressive to have a couple of thousand impressions from a local business listing. But how impressive is it when those numbers are not related to your business. Last month Bulwark Exterminating in Austin, TX received 2956 impressions from the term "Google Maps". Sure any press is good press, but how do put a value to unrelated terms like google maps, google map, or even animal rescue. Further, the numbers show for the general term pest control. But what about the long tail terms? If you look at the graph above the long tail make up the majority of the impressions, which is no surprise to any internet marketer.
Further Debate and Research is needed
How effective is a map listing?
When speaking with Jeff Quip at SMX in Seattle this month the question of the clicks on the map listings vs the click on the first organic listing came up. Jeff believes that most of the clicks still go the 1st organic listing. I argued that I saw a lot of clicks from the map section itself and believed that the maps may actually produce more sales for me than the first organic listing. We agreed to test the listing in Austin. Bulwark has the first map listing in Austin for "Austin Pest Control". Unfortunately Bulwark bounces between the first and second organic listing when searching the term "Austin Pest Control", so the test results are going to be skewed until that position is sured up at which time we will release more concrete numbers. Plus we throw into the argument the number of individuals that may not be clicking at all. Yes there is a number of people that now just pick up and dial from the google results. This is even more so the case on mobile devices. Without the help of Google, tests on phone calls generated by the local listings are near impossible.
Will a map listing cannibalize my otherwise "FREE" clicks?
Yes, some numbers support the idea that the Google tags on the local listings will take away from the clicks the regular listings would have received for free. Unfortunately the numbers are typically so low when dealing with local searches that the margin of error is pretty high. Plus, the local listings historical data only goes back about a year now. By the time a sure answer could be reached the listings will have changed so much and the sponsored tags will have become so prevalent that the the answer to how much it cannibalizes otherwise free clicks will be data only Google itself will cherish.
So how effective are the Google Tags? Are Google Sponsor Tags worth it?
Again, when dealing with such small numbers it is near impossible to get a statistically accurate view without further assistance and sharing from other marketers. With that caveat, the numbers I have seen suggest that ATI (actions to impressions) on the Sponsored Tag will range from 2% up to 7%.
Are Sponsored Tags a smart move for your business?
Back to the numbers. If your listing is only getting 100 impressions a month then you take that multiply it by 2%. Accountants tell you to all take the worst case scenario and this tactic works well with CEO's. Plus the 2% does not take into count the possible effects of cannibalization. If it looks good in the worst light possible then you stand a chance that it will work.
If the value of Y is equal to a good cost per click then Google sponsor tags will be of good worth to you. So the value will depend greatly on where and what your local listing is ranking for. Its nice the Google gives Bulwark Pest Control a bunch of free advertising for "Home Security Systems" but when you don't do home security services in Austin, those views are not that valuable. Hence, you get what you pay for. Plus, many of Bulwark's current locations are not in the city limits of the metros we serve. Thus the value of a Google tag greatly decreases because the impressions also decrease. Having a sponsored tag for a Charlotte pest control search has a much great value then having a tag for Backwoods Hill Country of York South Carolina.
Of course all of this takes time to calculate and at $25 a month your time may be better spent somewhere else, right? That's the idea. Give it to you at such a low rate that you say "WHY NOT?" Well $25/month times 100 locations is = $2500/month. That is a lot of SEO money. So is it or isn't worth it???.... Ultimately there comes a time when you look at the numbers given and then make the best educated guess possible.
Would I recommend the tags? More often then not, YES. But Bulwark is not using the tags for all of their locations. Why tip off my competitors of another area to compete in if I am already winning the current game?