Out with Google Places, In with Google+ Local

Posted: September 14th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Local SEO | No Comments »

Everything you need to know about the conversion from Google Places to Google+ Local


Google Places Owner-Verified Listings Overwritten by Other Databases

Posted: January 20th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Local SEO, SEO | 2 Comments »

A client of mine– a lawyer–, once hired an, as it turned out, less-than-honest online marketing firm that promised SEO services for a rather steep monthly fee. The promised leads were not generated, and he eventually canceled his contract. One strategy the shady marketing firm (called Real Practice) used was to list an alternate phone number and web site that would forward to my client’s, and would be used to track the number of leads supposedly generated by them. My client took this to mean that these listings would be in addition to the regular leads he was getting off of Google, Yahoo, and Bing. As it turned out though, Real Practice was trying to take credit for those leads too– they had changed the phone number and web site on the local listings to their phony ones. Once my client canceled his account, that phony phone number and web site address remained, though they no longer forwarded to him. So, customers could no longer reach him via his Google Places account. Real Practice wanted $50 a month FOREVER, in order to rectify the situation.

Corrections from inside the Google Places account yielded no results! Same thing on Bing and Yahoo! No matter how many times we tried to change the listings to display the correct information, both from within the owner-verified accounts, and as outsiders providing updates, the information kept reverting to display the defunct phone number and web site address. Did Real Practice somehow have access to these accounts, and were they going in there each time to change the information? No. My client assured me that he had never given his Google Places account information to Real Practice– same with Bing and Yahoo. As it turned out, they had claimed his InsiderPages listing, and that information was overriding any changes we were making inside the individual search engines. We contacted InsiderPages, and they immediately unclaimed the listing so that we could claim it and fix the web site and phone number. Very soon afterwards, the Google, Yahoo, and Bing local accounts followed suit, and the correct information was being displayed.

So, no matter what you do inside your owner-verified accounts, it seems that certain databases, like Insider Pages, will override them.  To be on the safe side, we also got a Universal Business Listing. And that is hopefully the end of this story.


Google Places Allows Spam Reviews

Posted: April 26th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Brooklyn, Local SEO | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Unfortunately, Google is failing to crack down on fraudulent spammers who post negative reviews about their competitors. This particular spammer is a local cabinet maker who posted two dozen 1-star reviews about its competitors’ businesses, all on the same day. And on the same day, gave itself a 5-star review. It’s pretty dumb, because it makes it really obvious who the culprit is.

Google allows users to report inappropriate comments. Several of the companies affected have reported the spammer. But, Google has done nothing about it. Owners have the opportunity to respond to to negative reviews, and can point out that the comment is spam. But, if Google does not take down the review, the affected company’s average star rating remains compromised. In fact, one of the affected companies is a client of mine. Because my client is honest and does not inflate his listing with fake reviews, he has a modest number of reviews, all positive except for the fraudulent 1-star review from his competitor. That 1-star review brings his average rating down to 3.5 stars. That’s what you see when my client comes up on Google Places. Maybe some potential customers will take the time to click for more info and see that the one negative review is a fake. But most won’t. Why would they, when several other cabinet makers with higher averages appear in the local search results?

I warn all of my clients of the dire consequences of trying to trick the search engines. “You WILL be caught,” I always say. So, it’s really frustrating to watch this one company get away with it. It’s been two months now, and Google has done nothing so far.


Why Local Matters

Posted: November 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Brooklyn, Local SEO | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

The Internet, to many, is an opportunity for global exposure. So, why focus on local markets? There are several reasons.

  • Money that you spend outside your local area or at chain stores, whose headquarters are generally outside your area, is siphoned right out of your community. Every dollar that is spent locally, however, stimulates about 32 cents in additional economic activity in your community. Read more about local economies here.
  • Your local area can serve as your niche– if you offer a service with a lot of competition, it’s much easier to differentiate yourself in your local area.
  • Your Internet marketing strategy works in connection with word-of-mouth referrals from others who know you– and more often than not, those people live in the same region as you.

So now that I’ve convinced you that local matters, make sure to set up your Google Local listing and to print your location information in your page footer!


Notes from a Handful of SEO Audits – Part 2: Stream your blog posts and tweets to your static home page

Posted: October 26th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Brooklyn, Google Page Rank, Local SEO, SEO | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

This month I’ve been auditing some small, local Brooklyn web sites for searchability, or more accurately, findability. In Part 1 of this article, I touched on a few elements that help a page stand out on the search results page. Here in Part 2, I’ll offer two tricks for keeping some fresh content on the home page of your static web site.

From an SEO perspective, static web sites are at a certain disadvantage compared with blogs. Search engines like to see text, and they like to see that pages are updated periodically. A blog automatically fulfills both of these criteria. The home pages of the static web sites that I looked at were just that — static. And some were almost completely graphic without hardly any text at all.

For those owners of static web sites who also have blogs, there is a quick and almost automatic solution. Create a box on your home page that will automatically display your latest blog post titles with links to your blog posts. You can also include a short excerpt from each blog post if you desire. I employ this tactic on my own static home page. This is relatively easy to accomplish using this Feed to Javascript service.

In the same vein, if you use Twitter, then you can automatically display your most recent tweets on your web site. Go to the Goodies/Widgets section of Twitter to get the code to add a Twitter badge to your home page.

Doing one or both of these will keep your home page fresh with updates and relevant keywords. Best of all, once these are set up, you will be able to see changes to your home page that you generate yourself without any help from your webmaster.

If you have neither a blog nor a Twitter account, then I recommend adding a Twitter account to get started — it’s a much smaller commitment than blogging, and it will still help enliven your static home page.


Free Offer: SEO audit for small Brooklyn businesses

Posted: October 5th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Brooklyn, Local SEO | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

For the month of October, I am offering a free SEO audit to any independently owned small Brooklyn business, entrepreneur, or sole proprietor with an existing web site.

What does this mean? Send me your web site address, and I will provide you with a document that details what you could be doing to drive more traffic to your web site.

You must meet the following criteria:

  1. Your business must be based in Brooklyn
  2. Your business must have no more than 50 employees
  3. Your business must be independently owned and operated

This offer also applies to freelancers and sole proprietors such as artists, acupuncturists, etc. There’s no need to be a bricks and mortar operation in order to qualify. The offer is good October 1 – 31, 2009.


Does your web site say what you are?

Posted: September 7th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Local SEO, SEO | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

I am repeatedly amazed by how many businesses, large and small, do not define themselves on their web site home pages. When I point this out to clients, they are stunned.

Take, for example a Brooklyn hair salon with a highly functional and well designed site. When you arrive at their home page, you can tell immediately that they’re a hair salon, and if you already know that the famous neighborhood Park Slope is in Brooklyn, then you can tell it’s a Brooklyn hair salon. But, Google can’t! The words “hair” and “Brooklyn” do not appear on their home page! The word “Slope” as in “Park Slope” does appear, but is invisible to Google because it’s part of a graphic in the logo.

With the yellow pages model, hair salons are forced to think of themselves as hair salons, and can be found in the hair salon section under the letter H. The freedom of the web unfortunately frees us up to completely miss the most basic opportunities for getting found.

One way to make sure that your business is correctly defined is to create a footer that appears on every page of your web site. The footer should include, in HTML text, your business category as it would appear in the yellow pages as well as your location.


If you do nothing else to promote your small business web site, do this

Posted: September 1st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Local SEO | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Register your business location and web site with Google Local. Your web site itself may rank low for the search term “Brooklyn bike repair”– but without doing a single thing to your web site, you can get listed on the first page of Google’s search results by verifying your business address with Google Local. When you do this, you have the opportunity to appear on the Google map that appears at the top of your search results when you search for location-specific businesses.

Simply go to http://www.google.com/local/add and add or claim your business. Even if your business has already been listed, you should claim your local business listing so that you can edit it and add more specific information.

For example, a client of mine is an artist with a storefront studio. In addition to selling his art, he also does commissions, such as ketubahs and pet portraits. By claiming his listing, he was able to label his business with up to 5 categories. Now, he is not limited to coming up for the broad term “Brooklyn portrait artist”– for which there are a lot of results. He also added “ketubahs” and “pet portraits” as categories and he now comes up for those as well.

Here’s some more information on Google Local