Tag Archives: Google Maps

Google My Business and Reviews

Image of a Google Maps exposure on Google.com.
Image of a Google My Business exposure on Google.com.

Yes I know, Google My Business is tied to a Google+ Page and no one seems to like Google+, but I have to say that there is a place for Google My Business and the reviews that are done there.

I recently moved to the Fredericksburg area which is in central Virginia. I need all new doctors, a new beauty salon, a new dentist – well new everything! How have I, an experience web marketer found new businesses to trade with and doctors to go to? From Google My Business!

As Google showcases Google My Business listings in the search results preferentially and returns them based on your own location, the results are catered to you personally. Click a result and you do not go to a website, but rather a larger map view with all local listings at the side and a plethora of reviews.

Which listings did I take time to review – those with reviews. Who did I not even bother to look at – anyone with no reviews or those with poor reviews and a low number of stars.

I never even went to any websites but the last two selections I made and then to only get the phone number and check out the faces of people who I would be trading with.

That’s the new way Google is forcing us to use their search engine. Clicking into a business website is secondary to getting the information you need fast right from Google AND this is where the Google My Business page is so important, as this is now the landing page before a client even gets to your website.

If you are smart and work the Google system, you will start now by setting up your Google My Business page and then aggressively working to add reviews to that page. Remember, Google is wanting people to stay on THEIR site to serve ads and to not even need to click into your website for information.

If you need savvy solutions to help with your website visibility visit us at McCordWeb.com – there’s no SEO “snake oil” here!

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The End of Manipulating Google Places

Google Places Pages
Google Places Pages

Very quietly Google has changed Google Places to remove the ability to manipulate a listing for organic performance. This action has very quietly slipped under the radar, but the changes are big for businesses.

First, this last month, Google sent out notices to all Google+ Local businesses that duplicate listings of the same business would not be allowed. Google immediately disable access to all Google+ Local pages (also known as Google Maps pages and Google Places accounts) to email addresses that did not carry the business domain or were not recognized by Google as clearly being the account owner by email, or having the business phone number or carrying the registered address. This effectively locked out all third party account managers and update services.

Google then advised all account access users that the main account owner – not even the originator of the account, would have to allow access to any users from the parent account. Additionally that any approved users would then have to manage the account for two full weeks before transfer of the account could be done.

By making the linking and transfer process so complicated Google has effectively locked our all parties except the one account owner. Of additional important note is that Google has been removing one by one the items a business owner could actually change on their account.

Over time, Google has removed the ability to add keywords and to craft a message that helped the business place locally. Google even removed the ability for a monthly promotion as well as comments from the page owner.

With this most recent update Google has now forced all Places pages now into the format of a true Google+ page. No longer is the look and feel different of a Places page from a postable Google+ Business page but identical and one that you can now post to with a third party app like HootSuite.

These huge changes to who can own and update the page, what the page looks like, and how you interact with the local page have now made Google+ Local pages unable to really be optimized for organic placement. This bad for businesses, but great for Google. Google gets more people forced into Google+ and now nets out manipulation of local results.

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How to Place Locally on Google – National Service Provider with Several Locations

Google Partner Badge
McCord Web Services is a Google Partner.

In our series on placing for local searches on Google, this is our last option and one of the toughest although there are still some smart things to do to attempt to reach local buyers. This article is for the scenario when you have a business that has one or several far flung locations but sells nationally.

Here’s what I’ve found works for location specific placements when you are selling nationally.

1. First, see our post from 4-8-14 on how to rank for one city. In this twist of one business selling nationally, again it is key to put all your location addresses in the footer of your website. If you have more than three or four locations, I would do a location page for your website and then just list the city and state names in the footer hyperlinking to your specific location page. You may have offices in only one city or two, but having the local addresses is still key. However I would add a tag line after the locations stating something like “Serving clients nationwide for 10 years.” Make sure in your content that you are talking about your nationwide services.

2. Here a page for each state may not work or may be too cumbersome and the truth is that a nationwide provider will be at a disadvantage when compared to a local provider for location specific searches. Make sure that any city you are located in however, does still get mentioned by location as you do still want to place locally for your branch offices.

3. Setting up a Google+ Local page for each location is really key for organic placement where you have a branch office. Take some time and put some thought into what you will write and make sure the pictures and videos if you have them (highly recommended) are unique to that location.

4. Where you can, make sure you validate your Google+ Local page. A PIN will be hard copied mailed to the physical address. Your staff needs to be vigilant to find this PIN envelope. It will look like junk mail and will have NO Google ID on it. Nothing will show on Google until you validate and then typically a two to four week delay after verification to show in the results is not uncommon.

For nationwide providers the reality is that to be visible locally you will need to move into paid search if you want prominence on local placement. There is simply no way to scam Google into showing a Google+ Local page or for that matter even be able to validate one where you do not have a physical location. By setting up your AdWords program to target local city names or state names with dynamic keyword insertion your ad will appear up at the top of the page for these important location searches just not in the organic section.

One caveat on this. I have found that when you can own the state organically, Google will preferentially show your results in many cases for all cities in that state. So it is not a bad thing to create location specific pages but the content must be unique, of value, not keyword heavy and be state specific.

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How to Place Locally on Google – One Business Multiple Cities

Image of a Google Maps exposure on Google.com.
Image of a Google Maps exposure on Google.com.

In our series on how to place locally on Google I will be looking at the next easiest scenario which is one business with physical presences/offices in multiple cities. This is also a fairly easy scenario to place locally on and similar in some ways to the actions that you would take for the one business with multiple locations in one city.

Here’s what I’ve found works for location specific placement.

1. See our post from 4-8-14 on how to rank for one city. In this twist of one business multiple cities, again it is best to put all your location addresses in the footer of your website. If you have more than three or four locations, I would do a location page for your website and then just list the city and state names in the footer hyperlinking to your specific location page.

2. Again as in the single city with multiple location pages a unique page for each location is in order linked from the all locations page. What is very important to understand is that the content on these locations pages MUST be unique. You cannot simply copy the one location and then drop in the new location. Try to write something of value about each unique location.

3. Setting up a Google+ Local page for each location is really key for organic placement. Take some time and thought into what you will write and make sure the pictures and videos if you have them (highly recommended) are unique to that location.

4. Make sure you validate your Google+ Local page. A PIN will be hard copied mailed to the physical address. Your staff really, and I mean really, needs to be vigilant to find this PIN envelope. It will look like junk mail and will have NO Google ID on it. I have had many clients have significant delays in validating and have required multiple sends of the validation letter as it is simply missed. Nothing will show on Google until you validate and then typically a two to four week delay after verification to show in the results is not uncommon.

This scenario and the one on Tuesday are fairly simple to enact but very important. With mobile searches being delivered preferentially local content the activity from local searches and local exposure is simply too huge to discount.

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A Guide to Placing Locally – One City with Multiple Locations

Local Coffee Shop
Local Coffee Shop

In this series of blog posts on placing for local searches on Google, I’ll take a look at a few strategies that work especially where you operate in one city with multiple locations. Over this week and next, I’ll be looking at other tougher to place scenarios and offering some advice on what to do as well.

The easiest scenario and the first I’ll focus on is where your multiple location business is all based on one city.

Here’s what I’ve found works well for placement for this scenario:

1. Make sure to put your locations with complete address and phone number in the footer of your website. If you have more than three locations this starts to be a little bit cumbersome, but for most businesses your two or three locations can easily be entered in the footer of all pages of your website.

2. Make sure to create a locations page in your website where you’ll list all your locations with full physical addresses, spelled out state name versus abbreviation, zip code and phone number. Link these locations to specially designed pages that show pictures of each location and give a little bit of flavor about what each location offers that may be unique. You may want to include cross streets, specialties, metro directions, and a blurb about the staff. It is crucial that you do not use cookie cutter content for each location simply change the location specifics. Make sure each page is unique and validates as unique using Copyscape Premium (my data checking tool of choice).

3. Set up a Google+ Local page for each location. Understand that there is no scamming Google on addresses. You’ve really got to have a business at the location you register. Google will send to that address a PIN number inside an envelope with no Google branding on it that looks like regular junk mail. It is important that you and your staff really watch for a week for this confirmation letter in order to complete the validation of your Google+ Local page.

The power of placing locally on Google for your individual locations is huge. The reach, potential visibility, and customer traffic you can get from following these very simple steps is not to be discounted. Google is preferring to promote local businesses first in the organic search results so it is very important to capitalize on this to boost your business’ exposure.

 

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So You Want the Blue Balloon Next to Your Google Maps Listing – How to Get It

Do you want that blue balloon found next to certain listings in Google Maps? Most listings have the red balloon, but you want the blue one as it really stands out. Here’s how to get it.

First, the blue balloon denotes a sponsored Google Maps listing. It means that this business is using Google AdWords Express to promote their website and Google Places page. If you are already using AdWords you may not want to proceed with these instructions, but say you don’t care about click performance, you just really want that blue balloon!

Allison at Google AdWords has explained to me how you can get the blue balloon. First, you will need to create a Google Places page that uses the SAME login as you use at Google AdWords for your regular pay per click account. Within your new Google Places account you will see a link to AdWords Express or you can login directly to AdWords Express at http://www.google.com/adwords/express/. Once you have your Places page set up, just enter your credit card information and website information.

AdWords Express will not allow you to manage your pay per click account as you typically do in the AdWords control panel. It is a streamlined and fully automated ad serving program. You cannot set keywords, bids, or targeting, or for that matter even create ad text. AdWords Express will set up generic keywords (in many cases just your business name), set your ad targeting to a 15 mile radius (you will not be able to change this), but it will allow you to select a monthly click spend range.

The next time you login to your regular Google AdWords account, you will then see a new ad campaign appear. The campaign name will consist of a string of letters and numbers and is grayed out. What you see is a read only copy of your Google Places AdWords Express advertising program. You cannot make changes in AdWords, just read what is there. To make any changes or to stop activity you will need to login to AdWords Express or your Google Places account.

Then voilà! You now have a blue balloon next to your paid ad that will show Google Maps and in some Google organic listings.

Do I recommend this course of action, meaning advertising on the super simplified and automated AdWords Express platform? Only if you are a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to AdWords, and only if your monthly budget is under $500 for clicks for a 30 day period. If you are a power advertiser and already have a well set up AdWords account and pay a professional manager, I do not recommend following this course of action just to get the blue balloon. As long as you have location extensions set up in your AdWords account, your AdWords ads are already showing in Google Maps – just not with the blue balloon.

From what I have seen in viewing these accounts once set up, the keywords are very, very general and the type that you would typically pause in a well-managed AdWords account as low performance high dollar click cost keywords. I personally don’t feel the cash drain and poorly targeted activity is worth it just to get a blue balloon.

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