Don’t let Google catch you with your website’s pants down

I came across this website (pictured below) today while looking for a local business to help with a pool issue I am having. I wanted to give them my money, I wanted to pay them and become a loyal customer, but could never do so after what I saw.

This problem goes way beyond this business not receiving my money.  Let me be very clear, that by not paying attention and monitoring the activity on your website, you can get penalized (even banned from Google) for spammy activity.

Imagine if you were browsing the web and come across this site, and took a look at their guestbook… Would you feel safe filling out their form? If you are like me, you might actually be wondering if they are even in business anymore since they don’t maintain their website. The point is, the site does not do a very good job of making you feel comfortable calling them and that is where they lose business. What if those links are pointing you to porn? If you own this business I can’t imagine that is what you want.

monitor and maintain your website
You must monitor and maintain your website.

This reminds me of…

My Mom use to leave a bowl of candy out during Halloween (when she couldn’t be there to pass it out) and she would leave a note saying, “Please only take one.” Of course, the next day at school some of my friends would make comments like “tell your Mom thanks for all of the candy.'”  You would like to think that people are going to play nice, but many are not, and this is why you must monitor and maintain a website.

So I beg you, if you are a small local business with a website, go check it out now.  Make sure your site is not full of comment spam or garbage like this.  It does not take much time to look over your website once a day to make sure nothing is wrong.  Get in that habit and you will convert customers when they hit your site.

Don’t do this, do that, with local landing pages

I thought I would share something with you that my wife (who is the perfect example of the target local audience in this example) shared with me the other day. I do my best to pay attention to the things that she gripes about with websites, especially local ones. I love the local market, and am always trying to do my best to educate local business owners (and their marketing companies) so that they can do better.  Here is a great example of what NOT to do with your local landing page or website.  Whatever you do, and I mean above all, DO NOT MAKE ME CLICK ENTER to get into your site, especially if you are not offering “18+” kind of content.  I have watched my wife bounce off a page because of this (and have done so my self).  It gets worse ….

horrible example of a local landing page

For one reason, and one reason only (aka the sake of this post), I went ahead and clicked through the “Enter” crap landing page. Of course, I found this lovely page below.  Let’s not even talk about the ugly URL (that is not the point of this post).   The page that opened up auto loaded a video (that took FOREVER) and ALSO played music in the background.  Um, yea.  Don’t do this.  Please for the love of all that is holy and good don’t do this.

horrible local landing page

Several months ago we collaborated with Nifty Marketing to create the perfect landing page graphic to help educate the people behind websites like the one in today’s example.  The kind of website you see above, is representative of a problem I see with a lot of website builders that are offered as “easy solutions” to “be found on Google with ease” (even the crappy “as seen on TV ones” as of late).  The truth is, it is going to take some work, and you might as well do it right from the beginning.

Check out this graphic to give you a better idea of what your local landing page should look like.  Your customers (like my wife) will thank you for doing it right.

Local Landing Page
The perfect local landing page

Breaking it down for you —

Individual Location Page:  This is especially helpful for ranking better with your geo-targeted phrases and letting the search engines know exactly what location that page is dedicated to.

Calls To Action:  You want the lead right?  A simple form for those that don’t like to call, but also for those who don’t like wasting a ton of time filling out a long complicated form should do.  Typically — Name, Email, Phone Number & Description should do here.  Think about the forms YOU like filling out (or don’t like).

Map/Navigation:  Always helpful to include a Map and driving directions to your business on your main page.  I always encourage linking it directly to your Google Maps listing.

Testimonial:  This always adds to the credibility of who you are and what you represent as a company.  It also adds great unique content to a page that is usually pretty targeted type content.

Service Location Info: Use this space to briefly let people know what it is you do.  They don’t want to have to click, click, and click again (or click stuff off, see above graphics) to find the information they are looking for.

Links to Review Sites:  Let people know where they can find you online.  Rather than asking people to review you on Yelp or Google+ Local (they might not even have an account at those places) if they see you are listed on one of the services they DO use, they are more likely to give you a review.

Trust Symbols:  Depending on your industry (doctor, dentist, chiropractor, lawyer etc.) you will have industry-specific trust symbols you can use.  Then there is the stuff that crosses over to every industry, BBB, Made in USA, Secure Website, etc. adds trust.  You can always find a way to add a trust symbol.

Pictures of Staff:  This helps people know you are real. And that, plain and simple, builds trust.

Let us know if you are a small business owner that needs some help.  We only point this stuff out to educate and help.  Hopefully this post does just that.  Thanks for taking the time to come by and read.  Please feel free to share other things in the comments of what bugs you when it comes to local SMB landing/home pages.

Google Properties vs Not Google Properties in the Local SERPs

It is pretty clear that Google wants you to stay on Google.  I miss the days of doing a search for something local and actually finding it with one click.   You know the whole movement to shop local & avoid big brands and get back to main street?  This really makes me wanna start a similar campaign.

Not many non Google Results these days
Google vs Not Google Results

7 Tragic Local SEO Mistakes You Have to Avoid

If you’re a small business owner, or an internet marketer, you’re going to love and laugh at this post below. But before we get to the fun stuff, I wanted to make sure and mention the upcoming LocalU seminar series that is going to be taking place in Salt Lake City on June 12, 2012. SLC|SEM is hosting the event and it’s an amazing upcoming event you should be attending whether you are local in SLC, or from out of state. It’s not that often that such an event takes place here in SLC and it’s certainly worth the price of admission to hear from the likes of David Mihm (author of Local Search Ranking Factors), and Matt McGee of Reps from both Google and Bing will be there as well.

As most of you know, DSM is a strong supporter of SLC|SEM and it’s events, and we really feel it’s an amazing organization to help search engine marketers in the SLC area stay in the know and connected in the state. So, we hope to see you there at the event in June and you should register now so you don’t miss the early bird special. In light of this upcoming event, I thought it would be fun to write a post about what you DON’T want to do for your Local SEO, since you’ll be able to learn all day long at the event about what you DO want to do. Now onto the fun stuff!

As a full-service online marketing firm, we’ve seen our fair share of “the good, the bad, and the ugly” when it comes to Local SEO strategies.

Since Local SEO is a no-brainer for any brick and mortar business who wants to be found online, we decided to share a “What NOT To-Do” list so you avoid utter embarrassment.

If you do the exact OPPOSITE of these “no-no’s”, you’ll be well on your way to Local SEO success.

7 Local SEO Mistakes You HAVE to Avoid

1. Wrong phone number (or no phone number)

TRUE STORY: we signed a contract with a client to help them with their local SEO. They had just had their website re-designed and were excited to be seen. However, when we tested their phone number, instead of getting their receptionist, we heard a recorded message for an “adult service” business.

Apparently one simple typo can really effect business sales.Having NO PHONE NUMBER can be just as bad. If you’re a local company that depends on people coming to your store or at least contacting you, make sure you make it as easy as possible for them to actually CONTACT you.

2. Super long domain name

If your domain name is more than 3 words long, someone is probably going to spell it wrong.

3. All links point visitors to the home page

This is a common SEO mistake overall. When you’re linking to your website, both on your own site and on other sites, don’t always link to the home page. Not only will this hurt link credibility, but it will leave out important pages in Google results that may give your business better chance of conversion.

4. Basic HTML, Florescent Colors, and FLASH

Need we say more? Flash is OUT. It’s terrible for SEO; it’s horrible for user engagement, and it’s a great sign that your business hasn’t done much online marketing research.

5. All images (that aren’t optimized), no content

Yep, that’s their HOME PAGE!

6. Cramming Content

We’ll let the image and link speak for themselves here:

Make sure to visit this site! :)

7. Keyword stuffed Global Title Tag

A Few Other SEO No-No’s You Should Be Aware Of

  1. No blogging strategy
    • One blog post last year, 5 blog posts yesterday
  2. No internal linking (or linking to the wrong page or 404 error page)

Update: Google Local Mixed Results Hit the Blender

Well there have been a bunch of busy bees in the Google local search hive. Local has been under the knife a few times. From reset data, to cool visual effects. These are today’s changes in Google’s local blended results.

Gray Google Map MarkerThe New Gray Google Map Marker

Less intrusive, less eye catching, more interactive.

Rolling over the this gray marker will change it blue for pay per click (PPC)  ads on the right, or red for organic listings on the left. Scrolling over markers in the google map section highlights the respective listing markers in the PPC and organic section. You will also get a nice snippet for the local organic listings. No snippets for PPC. It’s also interesting to note that the listings have moved the once red-pins-now-gray-pin to the right of the blended results. Google also removed the triangle pointer they once displayed for the top listing.

Example of Snippet and red corresponding markers for search term Phoenix Pest Control.

Blumenthal alludes to the fact that the move from grey to red might be happening because Google is losing revenues on the local results. So this could decrease traffic to the local listings. But at this point we don’t know how much this will effect traffic to the local listings.

The Local One Box Left-Foot-Shuffle

The One Box moved it’s map to the right, the area usually occupied by PPC ads. … Just a new look?

Searched Bulwark Houston


 Changes to Listing Preview

In the past a listing preview would show a screenshot of the website for both local search results and regular search listings. Now the local search results show a smaller screen shot accompanied by a map, images found in google places, quick glance of categories, business hours, review sites with review count, and a feedback link.


Bulwark Exterminating - Phoenix Pest Control Results
Full Disclosure - I am a pest control guy for Bulwark Exterminating

The feedback link takes you directly to the “Report a problem” screen of google maps.

If the red pin change was due to a decrease in revenues then it might be interesting to note that this preview is pushing Google’s property a little more. Further, the other review sites are now only visible in the extended view. In the past those sites were found under the place page listing.

Local Bug Report

In the image below the cursor was over the map and it was highlighting the first PPC ad for Bulwark Exterminating and not the correct ad for scorpion control. Just a minor scripting error.

Script Error - Mesa Pest Control Search

This happened again in a Houston search. The marker with no number indicates “not on the map”, the marker with the 1 in it on the map belongs to a different Houston pest control company.

Bulwark Exterminating | 10900 Brittmoore Park Drive Houston, TX 77041
Bulwark Exterminating | 10900 Brittmoore Park Drive

With all the recent updates Google has been moving the local map rankings around. And sadly Bulwark Exterminating dropped out of the Houston pest control local pack. Clearly something is wrong. Needless to say, we have found a few bugs here as well. Not simply because Bulwark wasn’t listed, but because Google was listing a cash parked page from Godaddy that’s for sale. Apparently on-site SEO has little to no relevancy in Google’s Local Listing algorithm.

Yesterday's screen shot for Houston Pest Control

Just a few minor bugs google may want to check into. Overall, Google has done a good job with their local search section. Overall, they still have a lot of problems to fix.

But Don’t mind me, Just a pest control guy… and that is the Search Pest Report.

Pest Control Guy - Thomas Ballantyne

-Thomas Ballantyne III
Director of Marketing for Bulwark Exterminating
Follow me on Twitter —> @Thos003

Google Adwords Express -The Pros & the Pests to Automated Local Advertising

Google Boost is now Adwords Express

Local search marketing may be in it’s infancy for Google, but this baby is booming. In two short years they have grown through a 10-pack, to a 7-pack, to a mixed local and organic result. They have further added a revenue stream with Google Sponsored tags (Yellow tags) and most recently they added Google Boost. Google boost has been active for about 6 months now, so time for a review of the latest GEO/Local adverting package from Google. To Boost but not to boast.

What is Google Boost?

Google boost is a new pay per click (PPC) advertising push from Google that is being promoted through Google Places. This ad is unique in it’s style from other PPC ads because it features a blue pin drop and is only offered to local businesses that have a local physical office.

The Blue Pin drop is a Google Boost Ad but this shows a Truly Nolen location w/ no reviews


Google Local Reviews Boost
Google Boost with Sponsored Tag and pest control reviews

The Pros to Google Boost

Pro #1 – Location, Location, Location

One of the key P’s to any marketing strategy is the “Place”.  Clearly there is  a certain appeal to doing business with a company that feels like a neighbor. Having a blue pin drop on a familiar local map adds a nice warm fuzzy to the consumer. Plus they are now supporting the local economy. So the new ad layout is fantastic.  I am drooling over the simplicity. Plus the clear message that says, “Do Business with your Local Pest Control Guy. Good’ole hometown heroes.”

Pro #2 – 5 Star Reviews

The best comeback in any sporting event when the fans start cheering, “We’ve got spirit yes we do” is “we’ve got more check the score!” The reviews make this Google Boost the cream of the crop pay-per-click option, if you have the reviews to boast about your company. But honestly, no one simply believes all the pretty text you have on your website promoting your service.  Your website will never tell the customer what potential problems they could face. Reviews on the other hand are raw and real. The bad reviews show your company weaknesses, which is okay, because every company has some problems. But, the overall rating is the real punch. If your ration of good to bad reviews is good then those little yellow stars become a Gold Star min.

Pro #3 – Phone Number

I must admit that having a phone number included on the ad could potentially get an advertiser phone calls that they are not directly paying for.  This is a pretty hefty bonus buy which could make or break the value of the Google Boost program.

Pro #4 – Easy to set up and runs automatically.

When you log into your Google places you will see convenient link  Create Boost ad Click on it and you will come to a very simple fill out forum like this one:


Set-UP From Google Places

Hit Continue. Read some legal jargon on the next page,  agree to pay, and you are on your way to a hassle free automatic Pay per click system. For the average business owner, this system could work well. There will be no overhead for a PPC management firm. There is nothing more to do. Just sit back, relax, and let the leads roll in. I mean… “Pay only for success You only pay when potential customers click on your ad.” Sarcasm aside, this may truly be a benefit for a busy business owner.


The Pests/Cons to Google Boost

Having test driven the new Google boost system for a couple of months now, I have come across a few bugs.  Yes, I am pest control guy so bare with the pest/con switch-a-roo.

Pest # 1 – Automatic Keyword Selection

Hmmm… This poses several problems, some of which could be monumental depending on your “Category”. Specifically, with pest control there are several different types of pests an exterminator may or may not control. Pests, like rats, snakes, pigeons, require different treatment options that not all pest control companies will offer. More specifically, as of late, bed bugs have become a huge concern, and not all pest control services treat for bed bugs.  Further, some of these pests, like termites, require specific licensing. Potentially moving Google boost advertisers into a red zone for violating state laws.

Google does offer an option to “Provide feedback on these keywords”, but I’ve yet to get any feedback on the feedback that I provided. And some of those terms, “Bulwark Exterminating”,  are still showing in my keywords. (Sorry, but if they are requesting my company by name then I have already done my marketing job and paying for that click is money wasted.) So there is no way to exclude keywords from your campaign. In my professional opinion this is a HUGE PEST PROBLEM.

Pest #2 – Automatic Bidding

So let’s hand over the hen house keys  to the fox. Do some simple math of the numbers they lay out in the sign up and here are the numbers from the ranges they outlined above:

Granted Google Boost didn’t max out the cost per click in my campaign. But those prices per click are much MUCH higher than our adsense average. Those are premium prices, and from that list of keywords above, not all of those keywords are premium competitors. And if these Google Boost ads work in conjunction with the other adsense ads then Google has it’s own horse in the bidding races effectively raising the prices on all other pest control clicks. But hey, at least I don’t have to worry about Quality Score anymore.

Pest #3 – Lack of information.

Despite the link at the top that suggests you can dig deeper if you’d like, that link for More Details takes you to a support page. So there are no lists of additional keywords they are bidding on. And if you want to calculate the click through rates of your ads you will have to do it manually. The math for numbers above, CTR=0.5%.  If you want that CTR to improve you will need to log and monitor your own dates of changes made to the ad.

Pest #4 – Tracking

The advertiser cannot insert a call tracking number. The advertiser cannot even insert a custom landing page. So all the advertiser is left with is their Google Analytics. Yes they do provide a report under adwords specific to Google Boost. Although they named it: Places Ads_2g55663ebe1687_1. We will assume it’s one in the same. But left only with this as a measuring stick the numbers are not looking too good. Average time on site is lower than the Adwords average time on site. Although page views are up… probably because they are having to search for the information they want.

Google Boost Review

To sum it up. Google Boost has the makings to be the cream of the crop for local advertising. The Boost ad is simple, sleek, and powerful for those companies that provide quality local services. But can the added style and design compensate for the lack of control? Do the Pros really out weigh the Cons? Do you really want the fox guarding the hen house? Theses few cons may bug  internet marketers to the point that Google Boost isn’t anything to boast about.



I Am The Duke …. According To Yelp Anyway

It is pretty awesome (to me) to see the turn that Yelp has taken lately to include features that social users love, in order to battle head on with location based gaming services/social networks like Foursquare and GoWalla.   We have all been hearing about the new titles & badges that Yelp has been talking about rolling out, but it was interesting for me to see it for myself on my phone.  Call me geeky, but it was kind of cool to see, and I think Yelp did an excellent job of keeping up (and listening to their users)  – in order to continue to dominate as the local front runner for “app phone” users.  I just look forward to finally start getting some badges and learning about how all that works.  Enjoy these screen shots I took, if you have not seen this program rolled out yet.

Yelps New Title & Badges Program

Yelp badges program

Yelps new badges program

Why Local Businesses Can No Longer Ignore Foursquare

When reading this, picture Biff knocking on your head saying:  HELLO, McFLY?? You know the movie, its one of your favorites.

Attention local business owners: location based services games checkins are here to stay. You need to stop worrying about people robbing you blind, or knowing where we are at all times, or any of the other things you heard that may have scared you about location based marketing checkins.  I am talking about Foursquare – so now what?  I think it’s important to see what you are missing out on.  There are lots of awesome posts lately about Foursquare, and tools etc., but until you actually get a visual of it, and what it can do for you (and how it can get real people in your doors) I don’t think you are going to pay much attention.

So here goes.  The people that play these games use Foursquare, are the ones you are trying to reach out to with these ads.  They are probably already loyal customers (especially the mayors) as they have to have at least two checkins, and more checkins than anybody during a 60 day period to carry that title.  You are going to keep them coming back by offering them something “as the mayor” or offering to “unlock a special” and guess what?  It has a ripple effect of people who are also loyal Foursquare users (to your business) trying to dethrone that individual and take their special offer.  You got many people, and in some cities and establishments hundreds if not thousands continually coming backinto YOUR business … trying to become the “Mayor” or “unlock the special”.  If you don’t see this yet, I don’t know that I can help.  Besides this OBVIOUS form of driving the herds in, you are going to get these same types (yes they all have blogs – ok maybe not all) talking about you, and linking to your business, which of course, is a GOOD thing.

Lets take a closer look: Recently, I went to checkin to a place I love called Cantina Loredo here in the Phoenix area, and you will notice in the top right hand corner of the image a “Special Nearby” banner that you can click on that will take you to a business nearby that has a special offer for whoever is the mayor of that place.  So THAT business, not the one I checked into, is the one who is doing the advertising on Foursquare.  Think about it, you just get done eating a good meal, and then get the offer for free drinks, or a certain percentage off, or dessert!  If you are a business owner, it’s endless what you can offer, you just have to think about what is nearby and would work well.  Not every business you will checkin to on Foursquare has this (huge opportunity hint hint) but I live in a small town on the outskirts of Phoenix, and if these guys are embracing it here, I think the rest of the country needs to take note.  It is kind of an eye opener.

Foursquare Checkins

Here is a screenshot of the “Special Offer” from above, once it was clicked on it.  So you see, businesses are doing their best to drive traffic (via these Foursquare ads) off each other based on their specific location.

Foursquare specials
Foursquare Special Offer

Another example of businesses using the tools for advertising that Foursquare is offering (oh, and I forgot to mention – at this point, its ALL FREE)  Your business will get listed eventually, even if you have not claimed it, or added it yourself, so when the results of the businesses come up – take a look at this screenshot and tell me, which listing draws your attention?  We all want specials and deals right?  Again, it just makes sense for certain businesses to be taking advantage of this.

Foursquare Ads
Foursquare Ads

For those who are still on the fence or who only worry about Foursquare being a place for people to spy on you to rob you blind – I want to give you a quote from a good friend of mine, and AVID Foursquare user:  Chuck Reynolds “Most people are gone ALL DAY ANYWAY at work, if people want to break into your home when you are gone, there is ample opportunity”

This post is a little bit of a teaser if you will, for what’s to come on the SMX Advanced panel I will be on with Will Scott, Vince Blackham, Michael Martin & Dylan Swift (Yelp) with Greg Sterling as the moderator.  We all got some amazing info to share, and we are all freaks when it comes to local, so if you are into local, you are going to love our panel!

*UPDATE:  Also, please take the time to check out the first ever Foursquare Advertiser Survey Dream Systems Media is a part of, with 3 other companies focused on local search and social media.

A Nickels Worth Of Free Online Marketing Advice

Some Burros
Some Burros

As I was searching online for some information to one of my favorite Mexican food joints here in Arizona I ran across several problems with their website and wanted to share them here.  I also came across several areas where I thought they could capitalize on social marketing, increase traffic to their website and interact better (online) with the people who love them.

The Argument:

You walk into one of their locations and they are already packed.  True, but tell me of a business (you know of) that does not want to reach MORE customers, or expand to MORE locations?  If they are speaking the truth, every business wants to grow and expand – and of course, make more money.  So, I feel with a few improvements to their website and nickles worth of free social marketing advice here, I think they could be making vast improvements to their overall bottom line.

Their Website Problems:

The entire thing, besides one html page and some PDFs is built in flash, that means – the entire website is a single flash file, which is NO GOOD for search engine optimization, because even if the flash is crawlable, only be a single page indexed.  They have four valley locations and could be doing a better job with their local marketing and creating pages that target those areas.  When they do this, people searching for them, and those locations get a better experience when they are taken right to the exact information they are looking for.  People hate having to search through an unfriendly website trying to find the information they want.  There are many other things having a site like this will not allow you to capitalize on SEO wise, but for the sake of keeping this post simple – I am not going to go there.

For example:

They have 4 locations here in the valley, so they should at least have four crawlable pages to target the specific locations like so:


We will get into how they can capitalize on social marketing with those specific location pages here in a minute, but first lets talk about why doing the above thing is good.  When I go to Google to look for information on “Some Burros San Tan Location” (because they do catering so it’s not out of the question to think that people will be looking information for them online) the result that needs to come up is the page because then I do not have to navigate several clicks on their website “trying to find” the information I was looking for.

They also have the opportunity to include a link to their Google Maps listing on that page (for that specific location) and maybe link to their Yelp listing with a link that says: “see what people are saying about us”.  By doing this, you are sealing the deal with being found for not only your specific name searches locally, (when you get crawled) but almost anything GEO targeted in your industry (ie: a search on Google for “Mexican Food restaurant in San Tan Arizona”).  This really is just the beginning of how they can capitalize, but I think that gives them a good start. (if they just so happen to be reading this) :-)

Social opportunities missed (and solutions offered):

You see they have a page on their website talking about coupons and promotions (so you know, they know people are looking for this info online – or they would not have included it).  People do not want to go through the process of clicking on, and sending you an email just to get your offers – they want the easy way of getting your offers and deals: In comes social marketing

Here is my suggestion to them:  Why not have a place to connect with customers via Twitter and Facebook?  You can tell them to follow you on Twitter, and friend you on Facebook for special deals that only they get by being your friend or by being a follower.  This gives customers a reason to follow your business on Twitter, or friend you on Facebook because they are getting (and know about) deals of the day that are going on. Put the “Follow Us On Twitter” or Facebook “Friend Me” logos/buttons on the specific location pages (as talked about above) where someone (that worsk for that location) can give specific updates and offers (again, for THAT LOCATION), and offer a little insight or blurb on the page why following or friending would be a good thing etc.

This will bring a whole new following of people to your business, and you can connect with them in a way you never thought was possible – the human way.  There are so many other things that this will do for your business that you do not realize, like filling the SERPs up with the content that you want out there – so its great for reputation management.

Being social just helps your business connect with more people too (then the regulars), you will gain new attention, attract new customers and will be keeping up with the marketing techniques of this generation.  I am going to give local businesses a warning – if you are not making your sites more friendly, and doing everything you can to connect with your customers on a social level, you will be left in the dust by a competitor that is doing this, and “gets it”.

I hope other businesses can learn and get some ideas from this post, and that Some Burros can take it as (like I said) a nickles worth of free advice to improving things.  Its funny, I suffer from a problem that most don’t … when I am online doing searches, or looking for something I can’t just “look” and get the info I wanted.  I have to look at everything as if I were doing marketing for them (always a marketer) – it’s a curse I know, but I hope these guys benefit from it this time, and that everyone can learn something!  LOL

Local Business + Yelp App + iPhone = Money

Yelp - For Local Reviews
Yelp - For Local Reviews

Local marketing bliss is what I want to share! For those of you who own a local business, how would you like to get your business on the first page of Google today? In most cases, you will achieve top 5 results with out any real SEO! What if I told you, that you could achieve these types of rankings without having a website. You would jump on the opportunity right? Of course you would, so here are instruction on how to capitalize:

I, like many other people own an iPhone and have downloaded the Yelp app (a local review service). This app has an amazing feature that allows you to search for businesses and reviews near you. What I have discovered is that most local businesses are not even listed, nor are there any reviews. I had a blast over the weekend reviewing all the places I ate at during a little trip. (Most of these businesses did not have any reviews prior to mine.) So, if you own a local business, even if you do not have a website, you need to get your business listed and reviewed on Yelp.

Let me show you some pictures that should illustrate what I am talking about. Lets say you are out and about, visiting a new town, and looking for a place to eat. You get out your iPhone and open up the Yelp application. You will see in most of the listings, there are no reviews. What’s even better is when you do a regular search on Google for these businesses names (Or ethnic food + city etc) you will get a Yelp listing in the top 2 or 3. I have found the places I tend to pick to eat at are the ones that have reviews. I really want to see what other people thought of the place, and then I will generally add my two cents after I have experienced the restaurant. This application can be powerful for you = Big potential foot traffic booster!!

Yelp App For iPhone
Yelp App For iPhone

You will see in this picture that the app allows you to search for almost anything nearby. So even if you don’t own an eating establishment, you still need to be on Yelp.

Yelp application helps find local reviews
Yelp application helps find local reviews

It is pretty easy to add a review from the application. You can upload photos, write reviews, and a bunch of other stuff. Most of the Yelp listings are already ranking well in Google, so the minute you add your review so will all that new information you posted. Your information, right there – on the top of Google and you paid nothing for it!

Adding a business review on Yelp
Adding a business review on Yelp

Let me illustrate just how easy it is to write a review on Yelp. First, you make your star rating and then include your draft. You can also publish your “app review” to your Yelp account once you are online and signed into your regular Yelp account.

Drafting a review on Yelp
Drafting a review on Yelp

Here is an example of a high-ranking Yelp listing on Google when searching for a business name. See the Yelp listing ranks well, and your business could be ranking with it, whether you have a website or not. You will get actual customers from people who find you online through the Yelp application.

Yelp Google Results
Yelp Google Results

I have talked with several business owners who tell me they get loads of visitors because of Yelp. How do they know? They ask. Any time a customer comes in they find out if it was their first time, and why they came in. Many times, they are told that a Yelp review prompted them to give the place a shot. Don’t miss out on this free money maker! I am telling you to get your business listing on Yelp and start to learn and understand local review sites and mobile applications.

I know I am not the only guy that will snap a couple shots of the food I am eating and draft a review after my experience. This is also a great strategy for working on your business’s reputation management. You need to monitor what people are saying about your business and make it easy for those who enjoy your business to get online and tell others about their experiences.

This last picture is just to show you what the business listing looks like on Yelp. I want to point out that business review I posted and the new pictures I included are already getting views, because the Yelp listing for the business is already ranking. It is instant gratification for local business owners!

What A Yelp Listing Looks Like
What A Yelp Listing Looks Like

Of course, Yelp is not the only local review site out there, in fact, there are more then you can keep count of. But, Yelp is one of the few that rank well and therefore the one you should start with, but be warned, do not go and start filling out your own reviews.  The Yelp review filter (annoying as it is to some) is pretty good and can sniff out bad or fake reviews.

Anyone have success stories with Yelp they would like to share? I would love to hear comments from people who have used Yelp, and can help businesses do more taking advantage of this service! Thanks in advance.