Category

local search

Ranking Outside of Your Physical Location in Local Search

By | Blog, Google, Google Places, Google Plus, Google Search, local search, Online Marketing, Search Engine Optimization | No Comments

For businesses without a storefront, local search can get tricky.

Google wants to avoid businesses appearing in local search results if that business does not have a physical location in the city searched. They address this in the Google Places Quality Guidelines, where they disallow PO boxes and fake addresses.

The only known exception to this guideline is a business with general service areas. In this instance, businesses are to create a listing under one physical location. They are then allowed to designate those service areas. However, listing the designated service areas may not be effective in those areas with heavy competition.

In order to begin ranking in local search, we recommend the following tips and tricks.

Read More

Crafting Your Online Persona with Reviews

By | Local Business, local search, Online Marketing | No Comments

When I ask business owners how they acquire new customers, 99% say “word-of-mouth”. Some do no marketing at all and rely only on their customer to refer new clients. For some, this system worked for years, but with the innovation of smart phones, word-of-mouth has moved to the internet.

Not only are more consumers turning to the internet to share their experiences on a product or service, but they are also reading the reviews before they make a purchase. Online reviews are what word-of-mouth used to be…only on steroids.  One customer can write a review (good or bad) and make it available to millions online. One person has the ability to influence your market, with one click.

Businesses have been reluctant to engage online reviews as part of their marketing for fear of a bad review. But, reviews are going to be out there whether you choose to participate or not, isn’t it better to have the ability to respond?

Online reviews give business owners the ability to craft their online persona. With a strategic plan, reviews can give word-of-mouth a power that has never been seen. Take advantage of the muscle that is available to your business. Make a plan.

The first thing you need to do is satisfy your customers. It is now more important than ever that your customer service be stellar.

Next, ask for online reviews. Incorporate it into your every day marketing. As customers make a purchase, follow up with a “thank you” and ask for a review then. Direct them to an online business listing (that you have claimed) like Google Places or Yelp. This way you control who is giving you reviews. You should pretty much know how they are going to review you.

Respond to online criticism. The tone should not be defensive, it should be welcoming. Do your best to make it right and it usually doesn’t take much to smooth things over. It can be a great opportunity to show that you are listening and that you care.  Remember to be honest, remain calm and respond in a timely manner.

I recently came across the United States Air Force blog assessment flowchart. It provides a detailed and specific way, how to react to blog posts, but can be used in online reviews as well. Consider applying something similar in your own organization.

Your online persona will not be shaped immediately. It will take some time. Be consistent in your efforts and you will see results.

Local Search a Business Opportunity

By | Google Places, Local Business, local search, mobile search, Online Marketing | No Comments

Following on from our post on the mobilization of local search we want all local business owners to grasp the opportunity that has arrived. There is a mini revolution happening in online search. Its not only social media that is continuing to change the face of online marketing. The mobilization of potential customers is driving a change that greatly benefits local business. The growth of smart phones and tablets is at the center of the change. They are portable; and so consequently is marketing. Businesses can talk to potential customers while they are actually out shopping.

Talk to your customer on the move

Geo targeting in online marketing has evolved with the advances in portable digital communication devices. If you have a smart phone you are already using it to target your next activity. You can use Google Places to find any business you want close to you. You can use Facebook Places to say you are somewhere and tag which of your friends are with you. People are turning more and more to their mobile device for information.

The Mobility Opportunity

In this move to on the go interaction is an opportunity for local business. National companies cannot compete with the local business physical location. We detailed in an earlier local search post that distance is an important component in the Google algorithm for returning search results to a searcher. There are millions of people ready to buy looking for the nearest outlet.  To take advantage, a local business must work to increase its local prominence online.

Increasing Prominence

First start with the major local business directories:

Google Places

Bing Business Portal (Still in Beta)

Yahoo Local

Visit each of these directories to claim and verify your listing. This is important, the major search engines will list your business whether you claim it or not. People will be able to write reviews on your business and unscrupulous competitors can maliciously edit your listing. It is best to be in control of your online presence. Once you have done the major three (they control about 95% of online searches between them) you can move onto other directories.  All the business directories have premium positioning for a monthly fee. Our recommendation is not to spend the money. If you must spend it on the major three for the best value. There are literally hundreds of free directories consistently promoting your business by listing in these directories adds to your online prominence. Skilled use of the correct terms and words when completing your directory listings will also help increase the relevance of your business to those local searchers.

Once you have progressed your business directory presence move onto social media to develop your local search presence. We will post next week on some of the Social Media steps you can take to ensure you are prominent in local search.

Go North

By | Business Growth, Business Listing, Google, Google Places, Local Business, local search | No Comments

I don’t want to be really stereotypical and say that as a women I am HORRIBLE with directions. I do have the gift that if I have been somewhere once I can typically get back there no problem. But the first visit can take me a bit. So as a girl please don’t tell me to go north on 150 cause I will look at you like you spoke Chinese. You can say go right or left bythe Panera Bread and I guarantee I will know what you mean.

In the course of my work for Turn the Page I am driving all over the Kansas City area and I don’t have to ask for directions usually. WHY, you ask? Well Google Places of course. If you have a smart phone and google the business you are going to hopefully you can find them on Google Places click directions and a map will POP up and lead you directly there. None of this go North on 435 business. A little arrow will lead you on your way like Dora the Explorer. But if you haven’t claimed your Google places account you are missing a great service for your customers. As well as a great marketing tool. Not only can you give directions, you can put pictures and videos, you can share your website, and inform customers what your business is about. People can view all this information either straight from their phones or computers. If you aren’t using Google Places you need to be cause I can guarantee that your competitor is, they may have seen that no one has claimed yours either and made it their own, so I would take a look. Plus if you want me to come see you I will need to know how to get there, without any of this GO NORTH business.

Google Me on the Web

By | Facebook, Google +1, Google Me, Google Social, local search | No Comments

We have heard for over a year now about the launch of a Google social platform. The name of choice for those pontificating on this subject is “Google Me” or even “Social Circles” has recently curried favor. Is it really coming in one big launch or is it a combination of smaller pieces that will all add up to a complete social solution?

Understanding Google Social

The Google social platform will be a little different. Google is driven by relevance and openness. We believe there will not be a big launch of a comprehensive and definitive “Google” social platform. It is more likely to be a creeping roll-out like an incoming tide. Effected through the socialization of search Google Me (or something) will develop as a social medium by which users can communicate and socialize within the Google network. This slow roll-out is potentially driven by the risk to Google in the anti trust arena. Rightly or wrongly the Federal Trade Commission has recently launched an anti trust suit against Google. Googles position is clear – their search engine is focused on providing relevant results as quickly as possible for searchers (to quote from their official Google blog) “Using Google is a choice—and there are lots of other choices available to you for getting information: other general-interest search engines, specialized search engines, direct navigation to websites, mobile applications, social networks, and more.”  Google mentions social networks as an alternative choice for getting information online. So it makes sense that its probably not in their best interest to launch a massive social network. Google is socializing a little at a time. Maybe they will sneak in under the radar.

Google Social Search

The socialization of search has already started for Google. The results you receive as the result of a search are deemed as more relevant if your friends found them interesting. You will see search results where the following online interactions by your friends are reflected:

  • Websites, blogs, and other online content your friends have shared or created
  • Images that are shared by your social connections
  • Relevant articles from your Google Reader subscriptions
  • Profiles of people you know beneath results for social sites like Twitter and Flickr
  • Web content that has been recommended or shared by others using the +1 button

Google believes that reviews and information from your friends is more important than generic reviews. For example you are more likely to trust say a vacation spot recommendation from a friend online than from someone you don’t know. This trusted information is being integrated into search results.

Youtube

Youtube was purchased by Google in 2006. Its really just a social platform filled with users. Google needed to link these new users to Google and somewhere in 2009 new Youtube users were required to link their Google account to their Youtube account. Comscore recently credited Google sites with over a billion visitors way ahead of Facebook, in no small part due to Youtube.  The growth of Youtube was highlighted in march this year by a staff increase of over a third. This addition is probably the biggest single contributor to Google socialization and; of course; revenue.

Me on the Web

Google launched “Me on the Web” recently.  It helps monitor your content on the web. You can set up “Me on the Web” through a new subsection in your Google Dashboard, which manages all the different Google products you use. The new feature isn’t much different than Google Alerts, but now it’s wrapped in a user-friendly and privacy-conscious package. You could add to this Google Social Circle it keeps track of your contacts within Google. It has also spawned a potential name for the next Google social platform.

Missing Piece?

Is there one big missing piece that is going to pull it all together? Or will it be a series of individual components that when all added together will one day be a social solution from Google? We favor the latter – how about you?

Why Optimize for Search?

By | local search, Online Marketing, optimization, Search Engine, Search Engine Optimization, SEO | 3 Comments

Your business has a website and it looks great (or at least you think so). Customers say they like it as well. What is with this optimization thing?  Why should I optimize my business website? It all starts with what you want your website to achieve. Local business websites generally fall into two categories:

The website that serves existing customers.

The first requires little or no optimization. Existng customers know the business, they probably already have the website address from a business card or email. Generally the lack of competition for the search phrase that is a business name means that a “search by name” will bring up the business website. A website that serves existing customers is both easy to maintain and unrewarding.

The website that serves existing customers and generates new customers.

This type of website is different. It takes understanding and consistent effort. To understand some of what it takes you can review the lesson content in our online marketing training. In January 2007 there 106,875,138 websites on the internet. In January 2011 there were 273,301,445 websites. That is 156% growth in just four years. This growth makes it more difficult than ever to get found online by people looking for your products or services. The need to optimize is greater than ever and optimization is getting more complex.

Optimizing your website is essential for driving new customers. When a search is conducted for anything online, it causes the search engine of choice to query the database of billions of  web style documents. In truth it is similar to a standard database query just extremely more complex. From this query the search engines want to focus on three areas:

  1. Relevance
  2. Prominence
  3. Distance

The search engines use these matrix to return results that are relevant or useful to the searcher’s query, The results are ranked in order of importance. It is all three components that the process of search engine optimization is designed to influence.

If you want to gain new customers search engine optimization is a critical component of any local business marketing plan.

NYGNEBE74M35

Social Search: Its not just about rank!

By | Business Growth, Local Business, local search, Search Engine, Search Engine Optimization, SEO | No Comments

When I see search engine firms promise #1Rank in search results, I cringe. They are giving us all a bad name. Social search has made it difficult, if not impossible, to guarantee rank to any business. With search results so individualized, it is possible for two people to type in the same search term and come up with completely different results.

In the beginning, it was just about getting your information on the web. Then keywords were all the rage. Then we entered the world of content. And although content still reigns supreme, relevant content from your social connections is the new variable.

Google has made it possible to individualize search results. “Your Social Search experience is personal and the highlighted content that you see is unique to you and your social connections.  Your social connections could include people in your Gmail, public friends on sites like Twitter or Flickr and public friends of these friends. Google is not just giving you the best results, but they are giving you the best search results for you.

What does this mean for business? It means social media, reviews, social bookmarking and commenting are all effecting search and are all becoming increasingly important. To stay ahead of the curve, businesses have to incorporate their prominence in their social media strategy.

In my opinion, it not only makes search better, but it makes businesses better. The quality of your web content has to be better, you don’t achieve prominence with bad content. The product or service a business provides has to be better, reviews influence purchase.

So next time somebody promises a #1 rank in search results, ask them, #1 for who? And remember in the end rank doesn’t matter, results do.

Search Engines: Beginners Guide – Part 1

By | Bing, Google, Local Business, local search, Online Marketing, Search Engine, Search Engine Optimization, SEO, Yahoo | No Comments

It’s no secret; at Turn The Page Online Marketing, we are a bunch of nerds. We have a long standing rivalry of Apple vs Android. Our sales team has Stormtroopers. We communicate via Google chat, while sitting in the same room with each other. And I bet you right now, on a beautiful and sunny afternoon, I am not the only one sitting in front of a computer working. Or thinking about working.

This is a button and will advance you to the content main pageRead More