Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Amazon is eating into Google's dominance in search ads - CNBC

Amazon is eating into Google's dominance in search ads - CNBC


Amazon is eating into Google's dominance in search ads - CNBC

Posted: 15 Oct 2019 02:35 AM PDT

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Google still holds the lion's share of search ad revenue in the U.S., but Amazon is expected to chip away at that dominance over the next few years, according to a new eMarketer forecast.

The U.S. search ad market is expected to grow nearly 18% this year to reach $55.17 billion. Google holds a 73.1% share of that, equaling $40.3 billion, eMarketer said. Meanwhile, Amazon is expected to grow nearly 30% over last year to reach $7.09 billion in 2019, reaching 12.9% of market share. Amazon's share is expected to grow to 15.9% by 2021, with Google's expected to contract slightly to 70.5% of the market.

Google and Amazon are among the tech giants receiving antitrust scrutiny in the U.S. Google, for instance, has drawn criticism for its entry into the travel bookings and job search areas.

Amazon last year passed Microsoft to become the second-largest ad platform for search in the U.S., according to eMarketer. After Google and Amazon, Microsoft, Verizon Media and Yelp hold smaller pieces of the search ad revenue in the U.S. In 2019, Microsoft has 6.5%, Verizon Media has 2% and Yelp has 1.8%.

Top 5 companies in the U.S. ranked by search ad revenue

CNBC

Amazon's advertising business has seen big growth in recent years. Sellers can bid on particular terms so they show up higher on users' search results, which make it so that brands can reach people right as they're ready to pull the trigger on a purchase.

Last year, the company's advertising functions simplified their branding and came together as "Amazon Advertising," and has since continued to beef up the offerings. The company agreed to buy an ad server and a dynamic creative optimization unit from Sizmek in May, which will help advertisers place ads and measure effectiveness and aid in personalizing ads using data.

In early October, the company held an event called "AdCon" to showcase Amazon's growing list of ad products. The event drew about 400 people in Seattle, CNBC reported.

How to Use Google Call Extensions to Maximize Ad Revenue - Business 2 Community

Posted: 14 Oct 2019 06:07 AM PDT

Do you use Google Ads to drive sales calls to your business? Then you should know that the easiest way to get customers searching for you on the web to call your business is with Google's click-to-call functionality, also knows as call extensions. Google Ads call extensions are an ad extension available in Google Ads accounts that encourage people to call your business by showing a phone number with your existing ads. They make it easier for people searching for your business on Google to call because they can just click on the phone number in your ad right in the search results page without navigating to your website.

Follow this simple guide to set up and optimize your call extensions to maximize your Google Ads revenue. Search, click, call, CA-CHING!

How Call Extensions Work

Call extensions let you add clickable phone numbers to your search ads, which Google says can significantly increase clickthrough rates. These "clicks" are actually calls, of course. Since phone calls tend to convert at a higher rate than website clicks do, and clicks on the phone number cost the same as regular headline clicks, using call extensions can greatly increase your return on ad spend (ROAS).

When your call extensions show in the search results, people can tap a CTA button or link to call your business directly. That means better customer engagement with your ads and more chances for you to get conversions and interact with your customers. Google's research shows that 70% of mobile searchers use the click-to-call feature and 47% of searchers say that if a business doesn't have a phone number in the search results, they're likely to explore other brands. If phone calls are important to your business, you'd be wise to use call extensions with your ads.

Note that like other Google ad extensions, call extensions won't serve with every impression. When the ad auction runs, Google's algorithm determines whether to show the call extension based on historical performance and other factors. It is completely normal for call extensions to show for only a subset of total ad impressions. However, you can do bid adjustments to show your call interaction ads more often. Ah, the magic of Google.

Setting up Call Extensions in Google Ads

While you will normally set up call extensions in Google Ads or Search Ads 360, Google Ads may set up automated call extensions when your website has a phone number and your business goals include getting people to call you. Either way, it's a good idea to set up your call extensions to make sure the maximum number of people see your ad with a clickable phone number. It's pretty easy to set up call extensions.

They can be added at the account, campaign, or ad group level. Call extensions can run on any Search campaign, ad group or ad, though some restrictions apply on the Display Network. If you create call extensions at different levels (account, campaign, or ad group), the most specific will be used. So when you add call extensions to an ad group, those extensions show instead of your campaign- or account-level call extensions. Likewise, campaign-level extensions override account-level extensions. Here's how to get started:

How to create call extensions

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account.
  2. Click Ads & extensions in the page menu.
  3. Click Extensions then click the plus icon.
  4. Select Call extensions from a list of choices. The "Add call extension" view then appears.
  5. Select whether you want to add the call extension to your Account, Campaign, or Ad group.
  6. Select Create new to make a new call extension, or Use existing if you've previously created a call extension.
    • If you're creating a new extension, enter your phone number.
    • If you choose to use an existing extension, select your number from a list that appears.

You can learn more about setting up call extensions here.

Using Call Tracking to Measure Conversions and Optimize Google Call Extension Ads

You can set up call reporting in Google Ads to measure the performance of your call extensions, location extensions, and call-only ads. You can track details like call duration, call start and end time, caller area code, and whether the call was connected. You also can count phone calls of a specified duration as conversions. While this is better than nothing, these proxies do not necessarily equate to conversions. You could be driving customer service calls and Google would still count them as conversions.

This not only makes your reporting and ROI calculations inaccurate, but it can also throw a wrench in your optimization strategy, especially if you are using this data to inform automated bidding. To make sure that you have the data you need to accurately report conversions and optimize your ads, you should use a call tracking platform like Invoca that's integrated with your Google Ads platform. Watch this short video to learn how to use Invoca with Google Ads to get more accurate reporting and increase your ROI.

Recommended For You Webcast, October 15th: Your Baby is Ugly - Live Rapid-Fire Website Reviews
Register Now

The Difference Between Call Extensions and Call-Only Campaigns

It's worth noting that call-only campaigns are different than call extensions in Google Ads. Call extensions add a phone number and/or click-to-call button to your existing search ads. Users can either click through to your website or tap on the call button to contact your business. Call-only campaigns are just that — the search user can only call your business through the ad and cannot click through to your website. Ads created in call-only campaigns are fine-tuned to show only on mobile devices that are capable of making calls, so they won't be displayed on desktop or tablets that can't make calls. Data like call conversions can be tracked with Invoca when using call-only campaigns just like it is with call extensions.

Google also recently updated the layout of its call-only ad units. In the new layout, the business name and headline will show directly below the phone number, along with a larger phone icon. Google says the changes have the goal to make it more clear to users what advertisers offer and make the call-to-action more prominent. Google claims that advertisers using the new call-only ads design have seen a 14% increase in phone calls, a 16% increase in call conversions and better cost efficiencies with an 8% decrease in overall paid clicks. They also say that the new design can reduce the number of accidental clicks from people who did not mean to call.

Tips for Maximizing Revenue from Call Extension Ads

If the primary intention of your ads is to drive calls, you'll want to do a little more fine-tuning when adding call extensions to your ads. First, you'll want to make sure you're designing your ads appropriately. Poor ad design is one of the most common reasons PPC campaigns drive low-quality calls.

To design paid search ads that drive high-intent shoppers to call, start by using language in your ads that makes it clear why the person should call. For example, if you're an HVAC installer and your goal is to get more estimate appointments, say "Call Now for a Free In-Home Estimate!" If you are a mortgage broker trying to give more rate quotes, say "Call for a No-Risk Rate Quote Today."

Casting too wide of a net will only help you catch bad calls. Focus on making your copy concise and aligned with your goals. To get more out of the space, you can also use the URL to display a call to action or other information.

Use Call Tracking Data to Optimize Campaigns for Calls

This one seems obvious, but you have to remember that digital campaigns that drive calls require a different approach from campaigns that drive clicks. Dig into reports in the Invoca dashboard or Google Ads and look at the top keywords that are driving phone calls. To make sure you are homing in on high-quality calls, don't just count the number of calls. Look at calls that result in conversions, then optimize your bids to ensure keywords generating the most quality calls will get top ad position.

Additionally, you may want to consider upping your PPC spend. Keep in mind that calls convert at 10x the rate of clicks and are typically much more valuable conversions. Spending more on your call campaigns could be worth the extra investment.

Focus on peak times

Call volume for most businesses fluctuates throughout the day and night. People probably won't call for a mortgage quote at 2 a.m. on Saturday, but they will light up the phones at 9 a.m. on Monday. Analyze call data in Google AdWords, Google Analytics, or Invoca to spot peak days and times for phone calls. Then, confirm that these are high-converting calls from prospects. From there, you can increase bid modifiers to make sure your call ads appear during those times. And, of course, make sure that you are only displaying your ads during hours which your business can take calls!

A Complete Guide to Google Maps Marketing - Search Engine Journal

Posted: 14 Oct 2019 05:03 PM PDT

Ensuring that your business shows up in Google Maps is paramount to long-term viability.

Prospective customers are often skeptical of businesses with little or no online presence.

Fortunately, Google Maps provide one of the easiest and fastest ways to get online.

Business owners now have an opportunity to market their goods and services in real-time to anyone with a mobile device.

What Is Google Maps Marketing?

Google Maps marketing is simply the optimization of your business presence on Google Maps.

The goal is simple: by ranking higher in search, you have an opportunity to significantly increase your business.

The better your profile optimization, the better your chances are for showing up in a Google Maps search for your business type in your area.

Why Is Google Maps Marketing So Important?

Google handles about 3.5 billion searches per day and accounts for nearly 88% of all mobile searches.

Local Google searches also directly translate into sales with 76% of those searching for local products visiting a store within the day.

Google Maps marketing can impact the way Google views your business and how or if it appears in organic search in what is known as the local 3-pack.

A Complete Guide to Google Maps Marketing

Google Map Results (local 3-pack) appear at the top of the page in this Google Search.

Google Maps can channel thousands of potential customers toward your business.

Unless your business ranks in the 3-pack, your chance of being found is exponentially lower.

That is why Google Maps Marketing is generally considered the most important facet of local SEO work.

Setting up & Optimizing Your Google My Business (GMB) Listing

Creating a Google My Business (GMB) listing is totally free.

This is because it technically isn't an advertisement at all – you are simply letting Google know that your business exists.

That said, the end goal is to get your business to rank higher than your competitors.

Setting Up Google My Business

To set up your Google My Business listing:

  • Sign in to Google and go to https://www.google.com/business/
  • Then locate or create a listing for your business. Sometimes other factors or inputs have led to an impromptu assumption listing about your business. Make sure you claim and correct it if that happened.
  • Fill out all of the information to the best of your ability.
  • Make sure to select the correct category and to add a contact.
  • Verify your account. This can be done with Google via phone, email, or traditional mail.
  • Add quality photos.
  • Double-check all of your information.

Read this guide to learn how to completely optimize your GMB listing.

How to Rank Better in Google Maps

Google Maps take into account a number of factors when it decides how to rank results.

The geographic distance from the person conducting the search and the business category relevant to their search are the most obvious.

Perhaps more important is how complete and accurate your GMB listing is. This could be the tie-breaker among you and your competitors in determining who appears in the search.

Finally, positive sentiment (good reviews) can be a deciding factor.

Getting Good Reviews

Many companies have developed systems around cultivating positive reviews.

Some will ask customers directly, at the conclusion of a transaction, to give them a review.

Other businesses put a request for a review prominently, at checkout. Some even have used QR codes.

One effective method is to leave a review request, on a business card, attached to a "Thank You" memento. Something as simple as a complimentary air freshener can go a long way.

In all of your promotional materials, it's good business practice to provide a link for customers to leave a Google review.

What About Bad Reviews?

Handle bad reviews calmly. Work hard to overcome them with more good reviews.

When you get a bad review, apologize, accept responsibility and offer to make it right; even if it wasn't your fault.

It's a losing proposition to get defensive or aggressive in your reply.

A bad review give you the chance to demonstrate your professionalism, helping to mitigate any potential damage.

Posting on Google as Your Business

This is an underused feature.

Business owners can "publish … offers, events, products, and services directly to Google Search and maps."

This can be another effective way to stand apart from your competitors.

Google Maps Optimization Checklist

To give your business a better chance of showing up in Google Maps for relevant searches, just follow the checklist below.

  • Claim or create a listing for your business.
  • Fill out all of the information:
    • Correct service area and address.
    • Business hours / workdays.
    • Website / URL for them to make a purchase.
    • List your specific offerings. Clearly and simply. Try to add keywords in naturally when possible.
  • Pick the most relevant and common categories for your business.
  • Ensure information is consistent across the web.
  • Add high-quality photos.
  • Double-check all of your information.
  • Cultivate good reviews.
  • Talk about your business in Google My Business.
  • List your business in other directories.
  • Use analytics to adapt your strategies.

Paid Advertising & Local Search Ads

Google gives you the tools to target your local area with local search ads.

This is paid advertising that can help you appear at the top of the Google search page or Map App when someone searches for your relevant services.

If you are struggling to bring in customers and can't wait for your organic efforts to pay off, you may want to consider paid advertising.

Many businesses have had great success in employing local search ads on Google. It can be the perfect complement to organic marketing efforts.

Tracking Your Google Maps Marketing Performance

Tracking your performance on Google Maps is done via analytics offered with your Google My Business account.

This is necessary for evaluating your current web presence and optimizing it, moving forward

Following are the key metrics you should pay close attention to:

The Google Services That Customers Use to Find Your Business

An important metric to pay attention to is the type of searches leading to your website.

This will let you know the volume of users that are searching for you by name, vs those discovering you via the keywords relevant to your brand, location, and industry.

This may help you gauge the percentage of new versus repeat customers coming to your site via Google.

Where Customers View Your Business on Google

This section will let you know the frequency that you are being found on general search vs map listings.

Taken in conjunction with the first metric you can gauge the general success of your Google Map Listings in attracting new customers.

As you make changes, monitor these stats to ensure you are making the right decisions and moving in a positive direction.

A Complete Guide to Google Maps Marketing

Listing Visitor Action Taken

"Customer actions" will show you what actions people are taking in response to your listing.

You will discover if your listing is helping people find your location, your website, or leading to some form of contact.

This is perhaps the most important metric as you embark on optimizing your listing.

Working to improve customer engagements and interactions is your best path to success.

A Complete Guide to Google Maps Marketing

Where Customers Are Coming From

"Directions requests" shows where customers are requesting directions to your business from.

With this information, you can begin to localize and better target your other marketing ventures as well as perhaps adjust your target keywords.

The Performance of Your Photos

"Photo views and Photo quantity" shows how your photos are performing as compared to competing businesses.

It also shows the mix of photos coming from you versus those posted by your customers.

Humans react positively to appealing visuals, so you should take the time to capture the best possible photos of your business.

A Complete Guide to Google Maps Marketing

The Final Takeaway

While getting the basics right is simple enough, fine-tuning will set you apart from the competition.

Pay attention to your analytics.

The best way to market yourself across all Google apps is to:

  • Keep your information up to date.
  • Keep your social proof (customer reviews) positive.
  • Make certain that your visual presentation is always top-notch.

More Resources:


Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, October 2019

Amazon is eating into Google's dominance in search ads - CNBC


Amazon is eating into Google's dominance in search ads - CNBC

Posted: 15 Oct 2019 02:35 AM PDT

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Google still holds the lion's share of search ad revenue in the U.S., but Amazon is expected to chip away at that dominance over the next few years, according to a new eMarketer forecast.

The U.S. search ad market is expected to grow nearly 18% this year to reach $55.17 billion. Google holds a 73.1% share of that, equaling $40.3 billion, eMarketer said. Meanwhile, Amazon is expected to grow nearly 30% over last year to reach $7.09 billion in 2019, reaching 12.9% of market share. Amazon's share is expected to grow to 15.9% by 2021, with Google's expected to contract slightly to 70.5% of the market.

Google and Amazon are among the tech giants receiving antitrust scrutiny in the U.S. Google, for instance, has drawn criticism for its entry into the travel bookings and job search areas.

Amazon last year passed Microsoft to become the second-largest ad platform for search in the U.S., according to eMarketer. After Google and Amazon, Microsoft, Verizon Media and Yelp hold smaller pieces of the search ad revenue in the U.S. In 2019, Microsoft has 6.5%, Verizon Media has 2% and Yelp has 1.8%.

Top 5 companies in the U.S. ranked by search ad revenue

CNBC

Amazon's advertising business has seen big growth in recent years. Sellers can bid on particular terms so they show up higher on users' search results, which make it so that brands can reach people right as they're ready to pull the trigger on a purchase.

Last year, the company's advertising functions simplified their branding and came together as "Amazon Advertising," and has since continued to beef up the offerings. The company agreed to buy an ad server and a dynamic creative optimization unit from Sizmek in May, which will help advertisers place ads and measure effectiveness and aid in personalizing ads using data.

In early October, the company held an event called "AdCon" to showcase Amazon's growing list of ad products. The event drew about 400 people in Seattle, CNBC reported.

How to Use Google Call Extensions to Maximize Ad Revenue - Business 2 Community

Posted: 14 Oct 2019 06:07 AM PDT

Do you use Google Ads to drive sales calls to your business? Then you should know that the easiest way to get customers searching for you on the web to call your business is with Google's click-to-call functionality, also knows as call extensions. Google Ads call extensions are an ad extension available in Google Ads accounts that encourage people to call your business by showing a phone number with your existing ads. They make it easier for people searching for your business on Google to call because they can just click on the phone number in your ad right in the search results page without navigating to your website.

Follow this simple guide to set up and optimize your call extensions to maximize your Google Ads revenue. Search, click, call, CA-CHING!

How Call Extensions Work

Call extensions let you add clickable phone numbers to your search ads, which Google says can significantly increase clickthrough rates. These "clicks" are actually calls, of course. Since phone calls tend to convert at a higher rate than website clicks do, and clicks on the phone number cost the same as regular headline clicks, using call extensions can greatly increase your return on ad spend (ROAS).

When your call extensions show in the search results, people can tap a CTA button or link to call your business directly. That means better customer engagement with your ads and more chances for you to get conversions and interact with your customers. Google's research shows that 70% of mobile searchers use the click-to-call feature and 47% of searchers say that if a business doesn't have a phone number in the search results, they're likely to explore other brands. If phone calls are important to your business, you'd be wise to use call extensions with your ads.

Note that like other Google ad extensions, call extensions won't serve with every impression. When the ad auction runs, Google's algorithm determines whether to show the call extension based on historical performance and other factors. It is completely normal for call extensions to show for only a subset of total ad impressions. However, you can do bid adjustments to show your call interaction ads more often. Ah, the magic of Google.

Setting up Call Extensions in Google Ads

While you will normally set up call extensions in Google Ads or Search Ads 360, Google Ads may set up automated call extensions when your website has a phone number and your business goals include getting people to call you. Either way, it's a good idea to set up your call extensions to make sure the maximum number of people see your ad with a clickable phone number. It's pretty easy to set up call extensions.

They can be added at the account, campaign, or ad group level. Call extensions can run on any Search campaign, ad group or ad, though some restrictions apply on the Display Network. If you create call extensions at different levels (account, campaign, or ad group), the most specific will be used. So when you add call extensions to an ad group, those extensions show instead of your campaign- or account-level call extensions. Likewise, campaign-level extensions override account-level extensions. Here's how to get started:

How to create call extensions

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account.
  2. Click Ads & extensions in the page menu.
  3. Click Extensions then click the plus icon.
  4. Select Call extensions from a list of choices. The "Add call extension" view then appears.
  5. Select whether you want to add the call extension to your Account, Campaign, or Ad group.
  6. Select Create new to make a new call extension, or Use existing if you've previously created a call extension.
    • If you're creating a new extension, enter your phone number.
    • If you choose to use an existing extension, select your number from a list that appears.

You can learn more about setting up call extensions here.

Using Call Tracking to Measure Conversions and Optimize Google Call Extension Ads

You can set up call reporting in Google Ads to measure the performance of your call extensions, location extensions, and call-only ads. You can track details like call duration, call start and end time, caller area code, and whether the call was connected. You also can count phone calls of a specified duration as conversions. While this is better than nothing, these proxies do not necessarily equate to conversions. You could be driving customer service calls and Google would still count them as conversions.

This not only makes your reporting and ROI calculations inaccurate, but it can also throw a wrench in your optimization strategy, especially if you are using this data to inform automated bidding. To make sure that you have the data you need to accurately report conversions and optimize your ads, you should use a call tracking platform like Invoca that's integrated with your Google Ads platform. Watch this short video to learn how to use Invoca with Google Ads to get more accurate reporting and increase your ROI.

Recommended For You Webcast, October 15th: Your Baby is Ugly - Live Rapid-Fire Website Reviews
Register Now

The Difference Between Call Extensions and Call-Only Campaigns

It's worth noting that call-only campaigns are different than call extensions in Google Ads. Call extensions add a phone number and/or click-to-call button to your existing search ads. Users can either click through to your website or tap on the call button to contact your business. Call-only campaigns are just that — the search user can only call your business through the ad and cannot click through to your website. Ads created in call-only campaigns are fine-tuned to show only on mobile devices that are capable of making calls, so they won't be displayed on desktop or tablets that can't make calls. Data like call conversions can be tracked with Invoca when using call-only campaigns just like it is with call extensions.

Google also recently updated the layout of its call-only ad units. In the new layout, the business name and headline will show directly below the phone number, along with a larger phone icon. Google says the changes have the goal to make it more clear to users what advertisers offer and make the call-to-action more prominent. Google claims that advertisers using the new call-only ads design have seen a 14% increase in phone calls, a 16% increase in call conversions and better cost efficiencies with an 8% decrease in overall paid clicks. They also say that the new design can reduce the number of accidental clicks from people who did not mean to call.

Tips for Maximizing Revenue from Call Extension Ads

If the primary intention of your ads is to drive calls, you'll want to do a little more fine-tuning when adding call extensions to your ads. First, you'll want to make sure you're designing your ads appropriately. Poor ad design is one of the most common reasons PPC campaigns drive low-quality calls.

To design paid search ads that drive high-intent shoppers to call, start by using language in your ads that makes it clear why the person should call. For example, if you're an HVAC installer and your goal is to get more estimate appointments, say "Call Now for a Free In-Home Estimate!" If you are a mortgage broker trying to give more rate quotes, say "Call for a No-Risk Rate Quote Today."

Casting too wide of a net will only help you catch bad calls. Focus on making your copy concise and aligned with your goals. To get more out of the space, you can also use the URL to display a call to action or other information.

Use Call Tracking Data to Optimize Campaigns for Calls

This one seems obvious, but you have to remember that digital campaigns that drive calls require a different approach from campaigns that drive clicks. Dig into reports in the Invoca dashboard or Google Ads and look at the top keywords that are driving phone calls. To make sure you are homing in on high-quality calls, don't just count the number of calls. Look at calls that result in conversions, then optimize your bids to ensure keywords generating the most quality calls will get top ad position.

Additionally, you may want to consider upping your PPC spend. Keep in mind that calls convert at 10x the rate of clicks and are typically much more valuable conversions. Spending more on your call campaigns could be worth the extra investment.

Focus on peak times

Call volume for most businesses fluctuates throughout the day and night. People probably won't call for a mortgage quote at 2 a.m. on Saturday, but they will light up the phones at 9 a.m. on Monday. Analyze call data in Google AdWords, Google Analytics, or Invoca to spot peak days and times for phone calls. Then, confirm that these are high-converting calls from prospects. From there, you can increase bid modifiers to make sure your call ads appear during those times. And, of course, make sure that you are only displaying your ads during hours which your business can take calls!

A Complete Guide to Google Maps Marketing - Search Engine Journal

Posted: 14 Oct 2019 05:03 PM PDT

Ensuring that your business shows up in Google Maps is paramount to long-term viability.

Prospective customers are often skeptical of businesses with little or no online presence.

Fortunately, Google Maps provide one of the easiest and fastest ways to get online.

Business owners now have an opportunity to market their goods and services in real-time to anyone with a mobile device.

What Is Google Maps Marketing?

Google Maps marketing is simply the optimization of your business presence on Google Maps.

The goal is simple: by ranking higher in search, you have an opportunity to significantly increase your business.

The better your profile optimization, the better your chances are for showing up in a Google Maps search for your business type in your area.

Why Is Google Maps Marketing So Important?

Google handles about 3.5 billion searches per day and accounts for nearly 88% of all mobile searches.

Local Google searches also directly translate into sales with 76% of those searching for local products visiting a store within the day.

Google Maps marketing can impact the way Google views your business and how or if it appears in organic search in what is known as the local 3-pack.

A Complete Guide to Google Maps Marketing

Google Map Results (local 3-pack) appear at the top of the page in this Google Search.

Google Maps can channel thousands of potential customers toward your business.

Unless your business ranks in the 3-pack, your chance of being found is exponentially lower.

That is why Google Maps Marketing is generally considered the most important facet of local SEO work.

Setting up & Optimizing Your Google My Business (GMB) Listing

Creating a Google My Business (GMB) listing is totally free.

This is because it technically isn't an advertisement at all – you are simply letting Google know that your business exists.

That said, the end goal is to get your business to rank higher than your competitors.

Setting Up Google My Business

To set up your Google My Business listing:

  • Sign in to Google and go to https://www.google.com/business/
  • Then locate or create a listing for your business. Sometimes other factors or inputs have led to an impromptu assumption listing about your business. Make sure you claim and correct it if that happened.
  • Fill out all of the information to the best of your ability.
  • Make sure to select the correct category and to add a contact.
  • Verify your account. This can be done with Google via phone, email, or traditional mail.
  • Add quality photos.
  • Double-check all of your information.

Read this guide to learn how to completely optimize your GMB listing.

How to Rank Better in Google Maps

Google Maps take into account a number of factors when it decides how to rank results.

The geographic distance from the person conducting the search and the business category relevant to their search are the most obvious.

Perhaps more important is how complete and accurate your GMB listing is. This could be the tie-breaker among you and your competitors in determining who appears in the search.

Finally, positive sentiment (good reviews) can be a deciding factor.

Getting Good Reviews

Many companies have developed systems around cultivating positive reviews.

Some will ask customers directly, at the conclusion of a transaction, to give them a review.

Other businesses put a request for a review prominently, at checkout. Some even have used QR codes.

One effective method is to leave a review request, on a business card, attached to a "Thank You" memento. Something as simple as a complimentary air freshener can go a long way.

In all of your promotional materials, it's good business practice to provide a link for customers to leave a Google review.

What About Bad Reviews?

Handle bad reviews calmly. Work hard to overcome them with more good reviews.

When you get a bad review, apologize, accept responsibility and offer to make it right; even if it wasn't your fault.

It's a losing proposition to get defensive or aggressive in your reply.

A bad review give you the chance to demonstrate your professionalism, helping to mitigate any potential damage.

Posting on Google as Your Business

This is an underused feature.

Business owners can "publish … offers, events, products, and services directly to Google Search and maps."

This can be another effective way to stand apart from your competitors.

Google Maps Optimization Checklist

To give your business a better chance of showing up in Google Maps for relevant searches, just follow the checklist below.

  • Claim or create a listing for your business.
  • Fill out all of the information:
    • Correct service area and address.
    • Business hours / workdays.
    • Website / URL for them to make a purchase.
    • List your specific offerings. Clearly and simply. Try to add keywords in naturally when possible.
  • Pick the most relevant and common categories for your business.
  • Ensure information is consistent across the web.
  • Add high-quality photos.
  • Double-check all of your information.
  • Cultivate good reviews.
  • Talk about your business in Google My Business.
  • List your business in other directories.
  • Use analytics to adapt your strategies.

Paid Advertising & Local Search Ads

Google gives you the tools to target your local area with local search ads.

This is paid advertising that can help you appear at the top of the Google search page or Map App when someone searches for your relevant services.

If you are struggling to bring in customers and can't wait for your organic efforts to pay off, you may want to consider paid advertising.

Many businesses have had great success in employing local search ads on Google. It can be the perfect complement to organic marketing efforts.

Tracking Your Google Maps Marketing Performance

Tracking your performance on Google Maps is done via analytics offered with your Google My Business account.

This is necessary for evaluating your current web presence and optimizing it, moving forward

Following are the key metrics you should pay close attention to:

The Google Services That Customers Use to Find Your Business

An important metric to pay attention to is the type of searches leading to your website.

This will let you know the volume of users that are searching for you by name, vs those discovering you via the keywords relevant to your brand, location, and industry.

This may help you gauge the percentage of new versus repeat customers coming to your site via Google.

Where Customers View Your Business on Google

This section will let you know the frequency that you are being found on general search vs map listings.

Taken in conjunction with the first metric you can gauge the general success of your Google Map Listings in attracting new customers.

As you make changes, monitor these stats to ensure you are making the right decisions and moving in a positive direction.

A Complete Guide to Google Maps Marketing

Listing Visitor Action Taken

"Customer actions" will show you what actions people are taking in response to your listing.

You will discover if your listing is helping people find your location, your website, or leading to some form of contact.

This is perhaps the most important metric as you embark on optimizing your listing.

Working to improve customer engagements and interactions is your best path to success.

A Complete Guide to Google Maps Marketing

Where Customers Are Coming From

"Directions requests" shows where customers are requesting directions to your business from.

With this information, you can begin to localize and better target your other marketing ventures as well as perhaps adjust your target keywords.

The Performance of Your Photos

"Photo views and Photo quantity" shows how your photos are performing as compared to competing businesses.

It also shows the mix of photos coming from you versus those posted by your customers.

Humans react positively to appealing visuals, so you should take the time to capture the best possible photos of your business.

A Complete Guide to Google Maps Marketing

The Final Takeaway

While getting the basics right is simple enough, fine-tuning will set you apart from the competition.

Pay attention to your analytics.

The best way to market yourself across all Google apps is to:

  • Keep your information up to date.
  • Keep your social proof (customer reviews) positive.
  • Make certain that your visual presentation is always top-notch.

More Resources:


Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, October 2019

“Google predicts 2019 Halloween costume trends by city with FrightGeist - Alternative Press” plus 1 more

“Google predicts 2019 Halloween costume trends by city with FrightGeist - Alternative Press” plus 1 more


Google predicts 2019 Halloween costume trends by city with FrightGeist - Alternative Press

Posted: 14 Oct 2019 11:51 AM PDT

Google has created a function that determines the most popular Halloween costumes of 2019 based on search trends. 

The FrightGeist platform use statistics from around the country to figure out the most searched for costumes by city. 

Read more: Billie Eilish "bad guy" video comment becomes first to get 1 million likes

You can see the most popular nationally and locally. If you look at the national results, "It," "Witch," "Spider-Man," "Dinosaur" and "Descendants" are the top five searches. Fortnite, Child's Play, Stranger Things, Suicide Squad and more also inspire some of the most popular costumes. You can allow Google to use your location to view the "local" results based on your city. 

The site also has a map that shows the top costumes near major U.S. cities. You can hover over many different cities to see what costume is the No. 1 trending. If you click on a result, you can review the overall popularity of the costume and its national rank. 

You can also view the trend over time and other cities that are searching for the same costume. It also breaks down the costume popularity by type. For example, "film character" costumes make up 20 percent of the total searches on Google. 

FrightGeist also has a "Costume Wizard" function that factors in things like uniqueness, style, spookiness to figure out the perfect costume for you. 

You can use Google's FrightGeist application here and see some screenshots of it below. 

More Halloween news

Everyone has personal favorites when it comes to Halloween candy, but there are some types of candy that people vehemently hate and candy corn is topping that list for 2019.

According to CandyStore.com, candy corn is taking the crown as the reigning king of most-hated candy this year, beating out last year's most hated, circus peanuts.

The website came to this conclusion by surveying over 30,000 of its customers while also taking into account the best and worst Halloween candy lists from other publications. They used lists from publications such as Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Business Insider and a number of other sources.

Candies considered undeniably good or bad were awarded ten points while the ones bottoming the lists received one point.

Despite the massive hate for candy corn, some people liked it and topped People's favorite candy list last year in Alabama, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Rhode Island and South Carolina. Clearly candy corn isn't universally hated, but it's undeniable a lot of people really hate the tri-colored sweet.

Although circus peanuts are no longer the most-hated candy, they didn't improve very much and still sit at the number two spot. Peanut Butter Kisses landed just behind to round out the top three.

You can see the entire list below.

  1. Candy Corn
  2. Circus Peanuts
  3. Peanut Butter Kisses
  4. Wax Cola Bottles
  5. Necco Wafers
  6. Tootsie Rolls
  7. Smarties
  8. Licorice
  9. Good & Plenty
  10. Bit-O-Honey

As for the best-rated candies of the year, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups was the definitive winner amongst the majority of lists. Snickers and Twix came in close behind to round the second and third spots respectively.

What do you think of the most popular Halloween costumes based on Google Trends? Sound off in the comments down below!

See more: 10 surprising artists you won't believe appeared on AP's cover

Google’s Pixel 4 looks different. Here’s what the designers changed and why - Digital Trends

Posted: 15 Oct 2019 08:00 AM PDT

While riding the subway in New York City, I often find myself playing a guessing game to figure out what phones my fellow commuters are using. Occasionally, I get stumped, but whenever I see a two-tone design with a bit of contrast, there's no doubt I'm looking at a Google Pixel phone.

Pixels don't look like the rest. The first Pixel and Pixel 2 used different materials on the back — a mix of metal and glass — that were unusual for a phone. While the entire rear was made of glass on the Pixel 3, the distinct two-tone aesthetic remained with a mixture of gloss and matte. This look has become iconic, and it's now unequivocally Google.

But the new Pixel 4 is different. It's the first design overhaul since Google introduced the original Pixel in 2016, though it calls back to its predecessors in subtle ways. The two-tone look isn't as apparent but it's still there, and the designers — Max Yoshimoto and Alberto Villarreal — firmly believe the Pixel 4 will become as distinct and recognizable as its forebears. I had a chance to speak to the pair, who are on the creative team for Consumer Hardware at Google, to learn about the process of designing Google's next phone.

The contrasting look isn't gone

Pixel phones have a line that runs close to the top on the back of the phone, delineating where one material ends and another starts. With each iteration, Google has refined the overall look of the phone, but the two-tone design remained. It never ceases to add a spot of contrast — whether you're looking at the black, glossy glass paired with the white aluminum on the Pixel 2, or the brighter-colored, glossy glass mixed with the dimmer matte glass on the Pixel 3.

How to recognize google pixel
Hanif Jackson/Digital Trends

This design language makes it easy to pick out a Pixel in a crowd; they don't look like every other slab on the market.

The Pixel 4 is changing things up. First, it comes in the same two Clearly White and Really Black colors, while introducing a new Oh So Orange option as well. It also no longer has the line of demarcation that we've seen on previous Pixels: The glass back is matte on the white and orange phones, and glossy on the black model — say goodbye to the dual textures. It looks cleaner, especially as there's no fingerprint sensor cluttering up the design.

The missing line doesn't mean the classic high-contrast aesthetic has disappeared, or that the Pixel 4 doesn't stand out anymore. Look at the edges around the phone, and you'll see it's distinctly black on all three colors. It's also impossible to ignore the giant square camera module that's offset to the top left corner.

"We love the contrasting textures and then the bold breakups," Yoshimoto, director of Industrial Design at Google, told Digital Trends. "I think that still exists on the new Pixel. We worked with the camera teams really closely. and the amount of sensors that we were wanting to put in the back just started to evolve and change. Having a few generations in on that one design language, and then introducing some new sensors and cameras on the back — we thought that it would be a great time to do a change."

Pixel Design Sketches (2)
Google

A second lens and a new look

The Pixel's marquee feature has always been the camera. The Pixel 3's is among the best, although it was recently bested by the new triple-camera iPhone 11 Pro The series has had an impressive run, staying on top despite using a single lens, thanks to the company's prowess in computational photography. Google adding a second lens to its new phone is a significant move, and it's why the team decided to highlight it through the design.

The camera module — which both Yoshimoto and Villarreal called the "Pixel square" — is very much a square (with rounded corners) and it intentionally resembles a pixel. Yoshimoto believes it's what will make the Pixel 4 "super iconic" and recognizable right away.

Related:

Live updates: The Pixel 4 Made by Google event as it happens

Google announces Pixel Buds 2 aimed at challenging Apple's AirPods

Google reveals new Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL: The extensive leaks were right

More from the Google Pixel event

Look at some of the other design sketches that didn't make the cut in the gallery below. There's a blue iPhone 11-style prototype with two lenses, one on top of the other, and in the second image, you can see a design that mimics the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus. The final result is the most distinct approach; the bold square attracts your gaze, especially on the Clearly White and Oh So Orange phones. It helps that the cameras are masked in darkness, adding more contrast, unlike the camera design on Apple's latest iPhone 11 Pro or even the Huawei Mate 20 Pro.

The black outline around the body of the phone is critical. It frames the Pixel square and the overall rear design, and is unusual; most manufacturers match the sides of a phone with the same color on the back. Villarreal said a benefit of the black band, outside of adding contrast, is that it also hides away all the components that help make the phone work but don't need to be seen, like the SIM slot, the speaker grill, the USB-C port, and the antenna bands.

google pixel 4 design interview max yoshimoto alberto villarreal sketches 6 Pixel Design Sketches

"What's really nice about the black band is it kind of sets the Pixel's square up really nicely," Yoshimoto said. "It's almost like a little bit of a frame for the Pixel square. If you look at classic design work and modernistic design work … you see simple shapes in almost grid-like structures, and they're very lasting. So while, like we keep saying ,this is bold and iconic, we also feel like … the overall look and feel is one that's also very lasting and not super trendy."

Will the black band and the Pixel square become mainstays for the next few generations of Pixels, then? Let's just say Villarreal, who's the creative lead and industrial design manager on the Consumer Hardware team, didn't want to talk about the Pixel 5 yet.

"The overall look and feel is one that's also very lasting and not super trendy."

What has remained from prior Pixels is the accented power button first introduced on the Pixel 2, which now adds further contrast against the black band around the phone. The Pixel 4 in Clearly White specifically calls back to this as it uses a similar orange color for the button as the Pixel 2's Clearly White model.

"While we're making some big changes, we're also trying to keep some things and bring some things that we thought were fun and successful from the past," Yoshimoto said. "And the other thing that we worked really hard on is making sure that all of the colorways look great together as a family. When they all are presented together, there's a really nice rhythm and feel to everything so there's not some one thing that just sort of sticks out in an odd way."

Approachable design

Why orange? Whether you're looking at the orange accents on the power button or the Oh So Orange Pixel 4, there's no specific reason as to why they landed on the color. Villarreal said the creative team works closely with the CMF team, which stands for Colors Materials and Finishes, and they look at trends from many different cultural representations around the world, from sports to furniture and fashion.

Pixel-4-Color-Family_blueBG
Google

"We sort of distill all of those trends and then we pick the colors that we feel that are more relevant this year, as well as more aligned with the brand," Villarreal said. "It's a really complex and nonlinear process. There are elements of our brand that are speaking more to the human side in terms of like how the form is gentle to the hand; the colors and finishes are sort of muted in a way. There's also an aspect that is very optimistic, and how we use color as a sort of happy [state]. And I think that's also represented well here with the color choices."

Optimistic, welcoming, human. These are themes that are easy to pick up on when talking to the design team, even when looking back at past comments made from Google's vice president of Hardware Design, Ivy Ross.

"Human," Ross said in an interview last year with Google's own blog, after she was asked what was the most important design principle for Google hardware. "By that, I mean friendly, emotionall appealing, and easy to fit into your life and your home."

Similarly, Villarreal said the Pixel 4 is soft and approachable. The glass on the front and back transitions "softly and really smoothly" through the middle, and the edges are curved for better ergonomics.

I think we go back to what's uniquely Google, and then that is for us an easy way to differentiate.

"We also put a lot of emphasis on making sure it's comfortable in the hand," Villarreal said. "The position of our power and volume buttons continue to be the same throughout generations of Pixel. We want to keep that consistent user experience for people who switch from Pixel 3 to Pixel 4."

Approachable is the right word for Google's color story. From "Not Pink" on the Pixel 3 and "Purple-ish" on the Pixel 3a to "Kinda Blue" on the Pixel 2, the decision to go with lighter palettes rather than darker tones do make the phones feel more friendly and approachable.

"I think we go back to what's uniquely Google, and then that is for us an easy way to differentiate because we really try to tie with what's the core of our brand and how those values are expressed through the hardware," Villarreal said. "The way we find colors and finishes, and even details like the Pixel square and stuff like that, is really tied to the Google brand."

Pixel Design Sketches
Google

Despite thinking about color in such a way, Yoshimoto said black is usually the most popular color people buy. The Pixel 4 in Really Black is entirely glossy, and Yoshimoto thinks the design still fares well here, despite the contrast not being as obvious as on the other colors.

"If you strip the color away and you want something that's really simple — the black phone — it still, in those shapes, works really well," he said.

Ditching the notch

What about the front? There's a good deal of change here as well. A point of contention for last year's Pixel 3 XL, to put it mildly, was the notch at the top of the screen. It's the cutout that houses the dual selfie cameras.

The larger-than-life notch was called out as "ugly" by various tech sites like The Verge and Engadget, and even by Digital Trends' own senior writer, Andy Boxall. It was a common theme on phones from 2018 as more brands looked for ways to offer more screen space while slimming bezels around the screen. But Yoshimoto doesn't think the notch was a "trend," and the reason for its existence on the Pixel 3 XL is simple.

"I think it is nice to give people more screen for the same size or the apparent sense of more screen," Yoshimoto said. "So, that's what we tried to do on Pixel 3, at least on XL."

Pixel Design Sketches Max Yoshimoto
Max Yoshimoto, director of Industrial Design of Consumer Hardware at Google. Google

The Pixel 4 has no such notch, not necessarily because the team didn't want to include one, but because there wasn't any meaningful space a notch would have added. You see, the Pixel 4 comes with a variety of sensors at the top of the screen. This includes Google's Soli technology, which can recognize 3D objects. On the Pixel 4, it's used to help the phone identify gestures you make with your hand to control certain functions. For example, a wave of your hand can snooze an alarm or silence a call.

As there's no fingerprint sensor, Google is also going the Apple route by adding face unlock as its form of biometric authentication, and that requires a host of sensors as well.

"Between adding Soli and adding the extra sensors for face unlock and, obviously, you have to have a selfie cam in there, we essentially ran out of space," Yoshimoto said. "We could have put a notch in on the design, but there's so little left over that it just really didn't make sense. I think we're really happy with where we netted out on this."

Speaking of running out of space, the bezel on the bottom of the phone is much smaller than the one on the top, which is why you won't find dual front-facing speakers anymore (a staple on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 3). Instead, there's a bottom-firing speaker paired with the earpiece on the top bezel for stereo sound.

Will the battery be enough?

My biggest gripe with the Pixel 3 is battery life. It barely gets me through a workday if it sees a little more use than usual, and it means I always carry a portable battery pack. I'm withholding judgment for the Pixel 4 until I can use it for a decent amount of time, but the specifications aren't promising. The Pixel 4 has a 2,800mAh capacity and the Pixel 4 XL has a 3,700mAh cell. Those numbers are a little low, considering the respective 5.7-inch and 6.3-inch screen sizes.

Nevertheless, Yoshimoto said the phones are designed to deliver beyond 9-to-5 battery life. His team works closely with the engineers to understand the required power draw for each device, and goes from there.

"We want to really get everybody kind of a full day of use," he said. "So if it has to be a little thicker, we'll make that call. Obviously, we don't want it to be too thick. But once again, we do want to deliver a great experience so we're not going to compromise that part of it."

Apple's latest iPhones are — unusually — thicker than last year's models due to the bigger batteries inside, and most flagship Android smartphones come with a 4,000mAh battery capacity as standard. Time will tell whether Google compromised here, or not.

Fresh fabric cases

It takes months to design a phone, yet one of the first items people buy when they purchase a new phone is a case to keep it protected. It's difficult to argue against since phones are so fragile. I asked Yoshimoto if it hurts to see a design he spent months working on covered up in an ugly case.

"I've been doing phone design for a while, so I think that maybe if you'd asked me that like 5 years ago, I might have said it like a straight-up 'yes,'" he said. "It still kind of hurts … but I totally respect how people want to represent themselves. If they do want to do a clear case with sparkles and unicorns on it — great. At least, you know, we're still in control of that phone design itself. So I guess today I'm OK with it."

Pixel Design Sketches
Google

If you are planning on buying a case for the Pixel 4, Google has a slew of fresh fabric cases to pair it with, and they're not exactly the same as the fabric cases for previous Pixels. The hole for the fingerprint sensor isn't needed anymore, for example, so it's covered up — but that's not all.

"All the weaves are slightly different," Yoshimoto said. "If you look at that black band and then the square Pixel camera, you get a lot of really bold, great contrast, right? If you look at the weave in the fabric and especially if you compare it to Pixel 3, this year's fabric cases, the weave itself is even bolder and more distinctive."

Even with its cases, Google's approach is distinctive. Most manufacturers — including Apple — opt for silicone, polycarbonate, TPU, or leather for cases.

Designing phones

It's difficult to design phones. There are so many phone makers, so not only are you focusing on differentiating, but the rectangular canvas can also be limiting.

"Phone design is hard because you have to balance so many different components in such a tight space," Villarreal said. "Every cubic millimeter is packed with something, so it's really hard to balance the location of things, the dimensions, and then still do something that's a good user experience."

alberto villarreal
Alberto Villarreal, industrial design manager of Consumer Hardware at Google. Stefan Höderath

But there was a specific moment many months ago when Yoshimoto knew the Pixel square was the right approach for the Pixel 4.

"I very clearly remember the day that we started seeing sketches with this square camera detail — like literally a square," he said. "And it wasn't like, you know, slightly a rectangle. It was a square. We all looked at each other and were like, 'You know there's something clearly here.'"

After that, he said all the other pieces started falling into place, and everything that happened before went out the window and there was a clear vision.

"I'm really happy with where we ended up," Yoshimoto said. "That's because I think it's striking sort of the right balance of doing something that feels unique and memorable, but at the same time it's, you know, not this really wacky thing either."

Do I think ours is more simple and more iconic? Yeah, I do.

There's another phone that has a squarish module on the back of the phone this year, and it's Apple's iPhone 11 Pro. But it's quite different from Google's approach, as the lenses aren't hidden away, but are instead pronounced. A side effect of this has been a host of people saying the iPhone 11 Pro triggers their trypophobia, which is the fear of small clusters of holes. Yoshimoto said he can see what drove Apple's designers to go for a shape on the camera module

"You know it's clear what they did as a designer; I understand what they're trying to put behind that shape," he said. "Do I think ours is more simple and more iconic? Yeah, I do. I mean, I know I'm supposed to say that, but I kind of really believe that too."

Editors' Recommendations

“Google predicts 2019 Halloween costume trends by city with FrightGeist - Alternative Press” plus 1 more


Google predicts 2019 Halloween costume trends by city with FrightGeist - Alternative Press

Posted: 14 Oct 2019 11:51 AM PDT

Google has created a function that determines the most popular Halloween costumes of 2019 based on search trends. 

The FrightGeist platform use statistics from around the country to figure out the most searched for costumes by city. 

Read more: Billie Eilish "bad guy" video comment becomes first to get 1 million likes

You can see the most popular nationally and locally. If you look at the national results, "It," "Witch," "Spider-Man," "Dinosaur" and "Descendants" are the top five searches. Fortnite, Child's Play, Stranger Things, Suicide Squad and more also inspire some of the most popular costumes. You can allow Google to use your location to view the "local" results based on your city. 

The site also has a map that shows the top costumes near major U.S. cities. You can hover over many different cities to see what costume is the No. 1 trending. If you click on a result, you can review the overall popularity of the costume and its national rank. 

You can also view the trend over time and other cities that are searching for the same costume. It also breaks down the costume popularity by type. For example, "film character" costumes make up 20 percent of the total searches on Google. 

FrightGeist also has a "Costume Wizard" function that factors in things like uniqueness, style, spookiness to figure out the perfect costume for you. 

You can use Google's FrightGeist application here and see some screenshots of it below. 

More Halloween news

Everyone has personal favorites when it comes to Halloween candy, but there are some types of candy that people vehemently hate and candy corn is topping that list for 2019.

According to CandyStore.com, candy corn is taking the crown as the reigning king of most-hated candy this year, beating out last year's most hated, circus peanuts.

The website came to this conclusion by surveying over 30,000 of its customers while also taking into account the best and worst Halloween candy lists from other publications. They used lists from publications such as Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Business Insider and a number of other sources.

Candies considered undeniably good or bad were awarded ten points while the ones bottoming the lists received one point.

Despite the massive hate for candy corn, some people liked it and topped People's favorite candy list last year in Alabama, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Rhode Island and South Carolina. Clearly candy corn isn't universally hated, but it's undeniable a lot of people really hate the tri-colored sweet.

Although circus peanuts are no longer the most-hated candy, they didn't improve very much and still sit at the number two spot. Peanut Butter Kisses landed just behind to round out the top three.

You can see the entire list below.

  1. Candy Corn
  2. Circus Peanuts
  3. Peanut Butter Kisses
  4. Wax Cola Bottles
  5. Necco Wafers
  6. Tootsie Rolls
  7. Smarties
  8. Licorice
  9. Good & Plenty
  10. Bit-O-Honey

As for the best-rated candies of the year, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups was the definitive winner amongst the majority of lists. Snickers and Twix came in close behind to round the second and third spots respectively.

What do you think of the most popular Halloween costumes based on Google Trends? Sound off in the comments down below!

See more: 10 surprising artists you won't believe appeared on AP's cover

Google’s Pixel 4 looks different. Here’s what the designers changed and why - Digital Trends

Posted: 15 Oct 2019 08:00 AM PDT

While riding the subway in New York City, I often find myself playing a guessing game to figure out what phones my fellow commuters are using. Occasionally, I get stumped, but whenever I see a two-tone design with a bit of contrast, there's no doubt I'm looking at a Google Pixel phone.

Pixels don't look like the rest. The first Pixel and Pixel 2 used different materials on the back — a mix of metal and glass — that were unusual for a phone. While the entire rear was made of glass on the Pixel 3, the distinct two-tone aesthetic remained with a mixture of gloss and matte. This look has become iconic, and it's now unequivocally Google.

But the new Pixel 4 is different. It's the first design overhaul since Google introduced the original Pixel in 2016, though it calls back to its predecessors in subtle ways. The two-tone look isn't as apparent but it's still there, and the designers — Max Yoshimoto and Alberto Villarreal — firmly believe the Pixel 4 will become as distinct and recognizable as its forebears. I had a chance to speak to the pair, who are on the creative team for Consumer Hardware at Google, to learn about the process of designing Google's next phone.

The contrasting look isn't gone

Pixel phones have a line that runs close to the top on the back of the phone, delineating where one material ends and another starts. With each iteration, Google has refined the overall look of the phone, but the two-tone design remained. It never ceases to add a spot of contrast — whether you're looking at the black, glossy glass paired with the white aluminum on the Pixel 2, or the brighter-colored, glossy glass mixed with the dimmer matte glass on the Pixel 3.

How to recognize google pixel
Hanif Jackson/Digital Trends

This design language makes it easy to pick out a Pixel in a crowd; they don't look like every other slab on the market.

The Pixel 4 is changing things up. First, it comes in the same two Clearly White and Really Black colors, while introducing a new Oh So Orange option as well. It also no longer has the line of demarcation that we've seen on previous Pixels: The glass back is matte on the white and orange phones, and glossy on the black model — say goodbye to the dual textures. It looks cleaner, especially as there's no fingerprint sensor cluttering up the design.

The missing line doesn't mean the classic high-contrast aesthetic has disappeared, or that the Pixel 4 doesn't stand out anymore. Look at the edges around the phone, and you'll see it's distinctly black on all three colors. It's also impossible to ignore the giant square camera module that's offset to the top left corner.

"We love the contrasting textures and then the bold breakups," Yoshimoto, director of Industrial Design at Google, told Digital Trends. "I think that still exists on the new Pixel. We worked with the camera teams really closely. and the amount of sensors that we were wanting to put in the back just started to evolve and change. Having a few generations in on that one design language, and then introducing some new sensors and cameras on the back — we thought that it would be a great time to do a change."

Pixel Design Sketches (2)
Google

A second lens and a new look

The Pixel's marquee feature has always been the camera. The Pixel 3's is among the best, although it was recently bested by the new triple-camera iPhone 11 Pro The series has had an impressive run, staying on top despite using a single lens, thanks to the company's prowess in computational photography. Google adding a second lens to its new phone is a significant move, and it's why the team decided to highlight it through the design.

The camera module — which both Yoshimoto and Villarreal called the "Pixel square" — is very much a square (with rounded corners) and it intentionally resembles a pixel. Yoshimoto believes it's what will make the Pixel 4 "super iconic" and recognizable right away.

Related:

Live updates: The Pixel 4 Made by Google event as it happens

Google announces Pixel Buds 2 aimed at challenging Apple's AirPods

Google reveals new Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL: The extensive leaks were right

More from the Google Pixel event

Look at some of the other design sketches that didn't make the cut in the gallery below. There's a blue iPhone 11-style prototype with two lenses, one on top of the other, and in the second image, you can see a design that mimics the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus. The final result is the most distinct approach; the bold square attracts your gaze, especially on the Clearly White and Oh So Orange phones. It helps that the cameras are masked in darkness, adding more contrast, unlike the camera design on Apple's latest iPhone 11 Pro or even the Huawei Mate 20 Pro.

The black outline around the body of the phone is critical. It frames the Pixel square and the overall rear design, and is unusual; most manufacturers match the sides of a phone with the same color on the back. Villarreal said a benefit of the black band, outside of adding contrast, is that it also hides away all the components that help make the phone work but don't need to be seen, like the SIM slot, the speaker grill, the USB-C port, and the antenna bands.

google pixel 4 design interview max yoshimoto alberto villarreal sketches 6 Pixel Design Sketches

"What's really nice about the black band is it kind of sets the Pixel's square up really nicely," Yoshimoto said. "It's almost like a little bit of a frame for the Pixel square. If you look at classic design work and modernistic design work … you see simple shapes in almost grid-like structures, and they're very lasting. So while, like we keep saying ,this is bold and iconic, we also feel like … the overall look and feel is one that's also very lasting and not super trendy."

Will the black band and the Pixel square become mainstays for the next few generations of Pixels, then? Let's just say Villarreal, who's the creative lead and industrial design manager on the Consumer Hardware team, didn't want to talk about the Pixel 5 yet.

"The overall look and feel is one that's also very lasting and not super trendy."

What has remained from prior Pixels is the accented power button first introduced on the Pixel 2, which now adds further contrast against the black band around the phone. The Pixel 4 in Clearly White specifically calls back to this as it uses a similar orange color for the button as the Pixel 2's Clearly White model.

"While we're making some big changes, we're also trying to keep some things and bring some things that we thought were fun and successful from the past," Yoshimoto said. "And the other thing that we worked really hard on is making sure that all of the colorways look great together as a family. When they all are presented together, there's a really nice rhythm and feel to everything so there's not some one thing that just sort of sticks out in an odd way."

Approachable design

Why orange? Whether you're looking at the orange accents on the power button or the Oh So Orange Pixel 4, there's no specific reason as to why they landed on the color. Villarreal said the creative team works closely with the CMF team, which stands for Colors Materials and Finishes, and they look at trends from many different cultural representations around the world, from sports to furniture and fashion.

Pixel-4-Color-Family_blueBG
Google

"We sort of distill all of those trends and then we pick the colors that we feel that are more relevant this year, as well as more aligned with the brand," Villarreal said. "It's a really complex and nonlinear process. There are elements of our brand that are speaking more to the human side in terms of like how the form is gentle to the hand; the colors and finishes are sort of muted in a way. There's also an aspect that is very optimistic, and how we use color as a sort of happy [state]. And I think that's also represented well here with the color choices."

Optimistic, welcoming, human. These are themes that are easy to pick up on when talking to the design team, even when looking back at past comments made from Google's vice president of Hardware Design, Ivy Ross.

"Human," Ross said in an interview last year with Google's own blog, after she was asked what was the most important design principle for Google hardware. "By that, I mean friendly, emotionall appealing, and easy to fit into your life and your home."

Similarly, Villarreal said the Pixel 4 is soft and approachable. The glass on the front and back transitions "softly and really smoothly" through the middle, and the edges are curved for better ergonomics.

I think we go back to what's uniquely Google, and then that is for us an easy way to differentiate.

"We also put a lot of emphasis on making sure it's comfortable in the hand," Villarreal said. "The position of our power and volume buttons continue to be the same throughout generations of Pixel. We want to keep that consistent user experience for people who switch from Pixel 3 to Pixel 4."

Approachable is the right word for Google's color story. From "Not Pink" on the Pixel 3 and "Purple-ish" on the Pixel 3a to "Kinda Blue" on the Pixel 2, the decision to go with lighter palettes rather than darker tones do make the phones feel more friendly and approachable.

"I think we go back to what's uniquely Google, and then that is for us an easy way to differentiate because we really try to tie with what's the core of our brand and how those values are expressed through the hardware," Villarreal said. "The way we find colors and finishes, and even details like the Pixel square and stuff like that, is really tied to the Google brand."

Pixel Design Sketches
Google

Despite thinking about color in such a way, Yoshimoto said black is usually the most popular color people buy. The Pixel 4 in Really Black is entirely glossy, and Yoshimoto thinks the design still fares well here, despite the contrast not being as obvious as on the other colors.

"If you strip the color away and you want something that's really simple — the black phone — it still, in those shapes, works really well," he said.

Ditching the notch

What about the front? There's a good deal of change here as well. A point of contention for last year's Pixel 3 XL, to put it mildly, was the notch at the top of the screen. It's the cutout that houses the dual selfie cameras.

The larger-than-life notch was called out as "ugly" by various tech sites like The Verge and Engadget, and even by Digital Trends' own senior writer, Andy Boxall. It was a common theme on phones from 2018 as more brands looked for ways to offer more screen space while slimming bezels around the screen. But Yoshimoto doesn't think the notch was a "trend," and the reason for its existence on the Pixel 3 XL is simple.

"I think it is nice to give people more screen for the same size or the apparent sense of more screen," Yoshimoto said. "So, that's what we tried to do on Pixel 3, at least on XL."

Pixel Design Sketches Max Yoshimoto
Max Yoshimoto, director of Industrial Design of Consumer Hardware at Google. Google

The Pixel 4 has no such notch, not necessarily because the team didn't want to include one, but because there wasn't any meaningful space a notch would have added. You see, the Pixel 4 comes with a variety of sensors at the top of the screen. This includes Google's Soli technology, which can recognize 3D objects. On the Pixel 4, it's used to help the phone identify gestures you make with your hand to control certain functions. For example, a wave of your hand can snooze an alarm or silence a call.

As there's no fingerprint sensor, Google is also going the Apple route by adding face unlock as its form of biometric authentication, and that requires a host of sensors as well.

"Between adding Soli and adding the extra sensors for face unlock and, obviously, you have to have a selfie cam in there, we essentially ran out of space," Yoshimoto said. "We could have put a notch in on the design, but there's so little left over that it just really didn't make sense. I think we're really happy with where we netted out on this."

Speaking of running out of space, the bezel on the bottom of the phone is much smaller than the one on the top, which is why you won't find dual front-facing speakers anymore (a staple on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 3). Instead, there's a bottom-firing speaker paired with the earpiece on the top bezel for stereo sound.

Will the battery be enough?

My biggest gripe with the Pixel 3 is battery life. It barely gets me through a workday if it sees a little more use than usual, and it means I always carry a portable battery pack. I'm withholding judgment for the Pixel 4 until I can use it for a decent amount of time, but the specifications aren't promising. The Pixel 4 has a 2,800mAh capacity and the Pixel 4 XL has a 3,700mAh cell. Those numbers are a little low, considering the respective 5.7-inch and 6.3-inch screen sizes.

Nevertheless, Yoshimoto said the phones are designed to deliver beyond 9-to-5 battery life. His team works closely with the engineers to understand the required power draw for each device, and goes from there.

"We want to really get everybody kind of a full day of use," he said. "So if it has to be a little thicker, we'll make that call. Obviously, we don't want it to be too thick. But once again, we do want to deliver a great experience so we're not going to compromise that part of it."

Apple's latest iPhones are — unusually — thicker than last year's models due to the bigger batteries inside, and most flagship Android smartphones come with a 4,000mAh battery capacity as standard. Time will tell whether Google compromised here, or not.

Fresh fabric cases

It takes months to design a phone, yet one of the first items people buy when they purchase a new phone is a case to keep it protected. It's difficult to argue against since phones are so fragile. I asked Yoshimoto if it hurts to see a design he spent months working on covered up in an ugly case.

"I've been doing phone design for a while, so I think that maybe if you'd asked me that like 5 years ago, I might have said it like a straight-up 'yes,'" he said. "It still kind of hurts … but I totally respect how people want to represent themselves. If they do want to do a clear case with sparkles and unicorns on it — great. At least, you know, we're still in control of that phone design itself. So I guess today I'm OK with it."

Pixel Design Sketches
Google

If you are planning on buying a case for the Pixel 4, Google has a slew of fresh fabric cases to pair it with, and they're not exactly the same as the fabric cases for previous Pixels. The hole for the fingerprint sensor isn't needed anymore, for example, so it's covered up — but that's not all.

"All the weaves are slightly different," Yoshimoto said. "If you look at that black band and then the square Pixel camera, you get a lot of really bold, great contrast, right? If you look at the weave in the fabric and especially if you compare it to Pixel 3, this year's fabric cases, the weave itself is even bolder and more distinctive."

Even with its cases, Google's approach is distinctive. Most manufacturers — including Apple — opt for silicone, polycarbonate, TPU, or leather for cases.

Designing phones

It's difficult to design phones. There are so many phone makers, so not only are you focusing on differentiating, but the rectangular canvas can also be limiting.

"Phone design is hard because you have to balance so many different components in such a tight space," Villarreal said. "Every cubic millimeter is packed with something, so it's really hard to balance the location of things, the dimensions, and then still do something that's a good user experience."

alberto villarreal
Alberto Villarreal, industrial design manager of Consumer Hardware at Google. Stefan Höderath

But there was a specific moment many months ago when Yoshimoto knew the Pixel square was the right approach for the Pixel 4.

"I very clearly remember the day that we started seeing sketches with this square camera detail — like literally a square," he said. "And it wasn't like, you know, slightly a rectangle. It was a square. We all looked at each other and were like, 'You know there's something clearly here.'"

After that, he said all the other pieces started falling into place, and everything that happened before went out the window and there was a clear vision.

"I'm really happy with where we ended up," Yoshimoto said. "That's because I think it's striking sort of the right balance of doing something that feels unique and memorable, but at the same time it's, you know, not this really wacky thing either."

Do I think ours is more simple and more iconic? Yeah, I do.

There's another phone that has a squarish module on the back of the phone this year, and it's Apple's iPhone 11 Pro. But it's quite different from Google's approach, as the lenses aren't hidden away, but are instead pronounced. A side effect of this has been a host of people saying the iPhone 11 Pro triggers their trypophobia, which is the fear of small clusters of holes. Yoshimoto said he can see what drove Apple's designers to go for a shape on the camera module

"You know it's clear what they did as a designer; I understand what they're trying to put behind that shape," he said. "Do I think ours is more simple and more iconic? Yeah, I do. I mean, I know I'm supposed to say that, but I kind of really believe that too."

Editors' Recommendations