Peek at Returning Review Stars to Google

Google announced earlier this year that the GOLD STARS for Local Search would be returning, now powered by Google Plus. Well here is a sneak peek:


(Thank you Mike of Carpet Cleaning Chico for sharing this image.)

This is in Beta right now and few users can see these. Further, the final roll out may look a little different. But overall, the Gold Stars are there in living color. And I like the added score in front of the stars to clarify the actual average. It’s a nice touch. But still, more importantly, the stars. The stars are coming back!

Gold Star History

It was one year ago that Google removed the review stars from the local search pack. They instead went with a Zagat rating. A red box number from 1 to 30. This number was virtually worthless to users. Most didn’t understand it. 5 simple gold stars was easy to see, to read, to understand. And the disappearance of those stars made a difference. A HUGE difference. Taking away those stars cost Bulwark Exterminating big money. July of 2012 was my first down month in 6 years. Oddly, all other vital signs to my website look the same. Same traffic, same time on site, same bounce rate. But sales were down. After fixing this problem with a little schema markup, and then becoming the only organic with stars we had record breaking months. In fact, September of 2012 was our best pest control month ever, which is notable considering September is the tail end of our busy season.

Are Gold Stars REALLY that Impactful?

Further evidence of the importance of the 5 gold stars is found in Adwords Express (formerly Google Boost) and PPC Seller Ratings. Both of these add stars to google’s paid ads. Neither of these were removed over the past year. Since the Adwords team is in the game to make money, I doubt that leaving those gold stars in PPC ads was an accident. In fact, I know several local companies that opted to use Adwords Express for the sole purpose of restoring the “Gold Review Stars”. The results of for those that went that route varied. The lack of control in Adwords express deterred me from going that route.  I’m not a fan of paying $10 a click for keywords I don’t get a say in. (You can find my full Pros and Pests to Adwords Express on Avalaunch’s blog) And Google doesn’t offer the review star ad extension for local businesses outside of adwords express. But others have reported that they like adwords express. So with all marketing, test it.

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Wow, Independace Day!

Happy Independence Day!! God bless America!

So it’s been awhile since I’ve written here. It’s the darn FREEDOM that has kept me from writing.

“FREEDOM you say?? Freedom keeps you from writing?”

I know it sounds a bit bizarre, rationally, if I were free then I’d have the time to write. I do like to write, but there are things that I value more than writing, and those things have consumed my time and so I am not FREE to write. Let me explain further, FREEDOM allows me to opportunity to write, but opportunity cost has taken that freedom to write by spending the precious commodity of time else where.

I heard a great musician once speak and say, “How many of you want to be master pianists?”

I raised my hand.

“You LIE.” he replied. “Wanting is doing. If you really wanted it then you would put in the time and energy to do it.”

He was right. I didn’t really want to be a master pianist.

Freedom makes great good and great evil possible.

I am grateful for the great nation we live in. I am so very happy with the freedoms I enjoy. But I must recognize that these freedoms also afford the opportunity for abuse of time. It allows great evils. Our Nation stands divided now often between those that defend good and those that promote evil. Our nation allows men with evil designs the freedom to choose evil. This balance is itself an opportunity cost. It must be that those who will use freedom to build great things, to advance humanity, to revolutionize the world, are permitted to do so unrestrained. And in loosening those reins, beings that will corrupt, tear down, and oppose the progress of mankind, are equally free to actuate their desires. Freedom is simply a conduit for men and women to reach their potentials for better or worse. A hammer is a tool. The use of the hammer to build or tear down is no fault of the hammer.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

We are free to choose this day whom we will serve. Laws aside, the good or evil we do is a right given to each of us. Freedom has made America thrive. Perhaps freedom isn’t always efficient. But freedom is effective. American freedom has advanced the world. Railroads, gas, telephone, electricity, and TV, all American. Even to this wondrous internet that allows me to work for Bulwark and blog to you right now, is American. Freedom rings the American advancement bell. It despite the corruption that follows some of these advances, and despite any individual’s view of the damages that America has done to world, America has and will always better the world as a whole.

Pursue your life and liberty as you will. Ultimately despite the possible decay and corruption found in America today, good may still prevail. It is our unalienable right to help ourselves, our homes, our families, and our communities in that pursuit of Happiness. But when our help is not welcomed by others, leave it be. For each of us may only ultimately determine the happiness of one person. The pursuit of happiness is yours and yours alone. While you may not be the author of happiness, you can find it. Happiness is there. It does exist. The Truth is that your Freedom is your own, to spend as you will.


This is the pest control guy, wishing you a happy Fourth of July.

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