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.

What the Google+ and Google Places Merge Means To You

Google Places and Google+ Merge
Google Places and Google+ Merge

*Disclaimer – If you absolutely must tinker with your Google+ Local page right now – check out this little write up. I think we should all hold tight for a while to see what happens while a lot of the kinks are worked out so things don’t get really screwy. Anyway, if you are one of those kind of people that cant help but mess around with stuff – Check out this post first for a little help.

We started getting a lot of questions from other marketers, as well as clients we work with on the recent changes with Google+.  We felt it would be a pretty good idea to just write up an answer to point people to.  We hope this helps.

Big changes are happening online and we are here to inform you of what is going on. Google Places has merged with Google+. What does that mean for you and your business? We’ve broken it down so that you can understand what will be going on with the way your business receives reviews online from now on and how you will be rated.

If you receive 3rd party reviews for your business you can no longer receive them directly on your place page. Now an individual must use Google+ in order to leave a review. The idea is that the review system becomes a more social (or some might say Google is forcing social), versatile, and interactive system.

The main difference in the review process is the new rating system. Instead of a 1-5 star rating, individuals will use the ZAGAT rating system. The ZAGAT system uses a 30-point scale. These points are based on multiple areas for a business like food, décor, cost, and customer service. There is space provided for a brief paragraph to be written by the business owner, and several quotes will be pulled to use from different customer reviews in that area.

This merger comes as no surprise and has been anticipated since Google+’s birth. As of May 30th of this year, 80 million Google Place pages through out the world were converted to Google+ Local pages. Your searches will still appear the same as before, and it’s not more difficult for an individual to leave a review for your business either. Just as before, individuals will need to get a Google account in order to leave a review.

The good news is that provided you have both a Google Places and a Google + page, Google will at some point merge the two automatically and therefore you don’t have to do anything.
If you don’t have a Google+ page for your business or you simply can’t wait for the merger, you can create a Google+ page or login to your existing page, and then claim your new “local” page on Google +.  (Note: You will also need to start encouraging your clients and customers to leave company reviews on the new Google + page and send them to the Google + URL rather than the old Google Places URL)

Take these steps to create your new page on Google+:

  • First, you will need to log in to Google+.
  • Next, upload an image of your correct logo, or an image of your business.
  • Then, once you have adjusted your new page, the map for your business will be added.
  • Write your review in the paragraph space provided under the icon “edit your review.”

Below is an instructional image of how to adjust your new place page.

Google+ and Google Places Integration

If you have any further questions we are here to give you answers and make this process as simple and stress free as we can. Please let us know what we can do for you.

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.



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.

Who Does Local Search Best?

Local Search
Local Search

I got distracted today and the result of that distraction is this post. I was curious about something dealing with local search and the SERPs – so I decided to do a little comparison. The four major search engines I compared are Google, Yahoo, MSN and ASK. I wanted to find out how their specific local programs compared to one another when searching for non geo-targeted terms? I wondered if I would get any usable results without using a geo-modifier? The following screen-shots are going to explain the title of this post much better then any of my words can. I am also pretty sure that including ASK as a major search engine is a choice I will regret later on, but then again it is the official search engine of NASCAR (and that’s got to count for something, right??)!

I have been a huge Google Local fan for what seems forever, and this post is all the proof I need to know I need to keep using it. I have also been a huge fan of local online advertising, and in many of my posts I share local advertising techniques. I do not know why it is so hard for businesses and other SEOs/Internet marketing firms to remember to include the simple local programs that are offered – for free!

As I was comparing some of the local results with various search engines, I thought it would be interesting to see when local advertising results appear when non geo-targeted phrases are searched. In other words – lets say you live in Arizona, and are looking for a custom pool builder, but instead of searching for “Arizona Custom Pools”, you simply do a search for “Custom Pools”. Which of the search engines are going to help you find results that are relevant to your local area the best?

And the winner is: Google. (no surprises here huh?)

Google Local Results
Google Local Results

I did a search on Google for “custom pools” and got these results back (see screen-shot) that give me mostly local Arizona results, even though I searched without the “Arizona” in the phrase. The local results are some of the ones that come up, which is actually the whole point of this post. So, make sure you add your business to the local areas that the search engines allow you to. It is also noteworthy the way that Google includes some local image results which can be picked up from many different places – this occurs by using the right “geo-targeted” keywords in your alt tags and including the right information when you upload your pictures of places like Flickr.

Next up: Yahoo

The next screen shot is of Yahoo, and the reason I am not pleased with any of these results is because not one of them is a local result. They also show nothing in the form of local results as Google does.

Yahoo Local
Yahoo Local

Of course, I think it’s still important to get a local listing with Yahoo. But, I think that Yahoo can do much better. I modified the search to include “Arizona” in the search phrase, and guess what? Still none of the results are from the Yahoo Local results program. Lots of local results, but nothing that makes it easy to find a local pool builder near me! Yes, It does make a difference too because if it (the SE) finds a builder that is closer to you – that’s a better result. The #1 result for this search was for a company that builds far away from where I live. How is that going to help me? I want results to come up that are useful and that will help me in my area and this is where the local results program could really come into play.


The funny thing here was most of the results that came back on MSN, were for the East coast. How is that going to do me any good in Arizona? However, MSN did do a better job at getting me decent usable local results (compared to Yahoo) when I modified the search phrase to include “Arizona”, but still did not bring back any of the MSN Local program results – which again, I think would be the “best” result.

MSN Local
MSN Local

Finally, ASK:

Ask did not bring back any local program results, which I thought they would have, but to my surprise they did list citysearch as the #1 result which I think is far more useful then any of the results that Yahoo and MSN brought back. Even when I modified the search to include “Arizona”, ASK did not offer up any local results = FAIL.

ASK Local
ASK Local

Although, I feel many of these search engines failed, I do still think it’s very important to obtain the local listing through the local program for each SE. Why? Because, there are many times they work really well… for example any time you include a specific town/city.

I just wanted to run this little test to see how every SE compared. Google rocked it of course and what is interesting is that no one else is copying the Google. And usually they do!

It was also cool to see how local businesses, if listed with Google Local, can earn a top 10 ranking out of (in this case) 200 plus million sites for a non geo-targeted seach phrase such as “custom pools”. That alone should be reason enough for any local business to take the time to get listed with Google Local. So besides obtaining the local program listings on all of the major search engines, I have noticed that obtaining listings in other local directories like the following (see below) have helped increase the search engines awareness of your local presence – and I think are a MUST!

  1. CitySearch
  2. YellowPages
  3. USCity
  4. AOL Local Search
  5. Local Search Guide
  6. Yelp

In conclusion:

The bottom line here is to make sure you go to Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask (TODAY) and sign up for the local programs. It is fast, easy, and free. If you need help figuring out whether you are listed with them or not, you might want to try Get Listed, which a great resource that will help walk you through what you need to be doing. Got anything to add to this? Let me know. I love comments! Thanks!

China City Super Bufffett; Online Local Marketing Done Right

I love when I find local businesses that are doing things they need to be online.  It’s even better when I find businesses I use taking advantage of local marketing services that search engines offer that can save me money (and drive business to them)!  I just want to spotlight a company I feel is doing something right, and if you learn something from it – that’s even better!

If you own an offline business in any local market then there is no reason to not be using a Google Maps listing.  I wanted to share an example of an offline business doing some local marketing right, especially when it comes to Google.  The local businesses I feel could really take advantage, and learn from this post are the ones offering food and things that are not easy (or available) to “purchase” online.

I am a big fan of China City Super Buffet, a huge Chinese food buffet we have close to where I live.  I know that many businesses that list with Google Maps also offer printable coupons with their listings (besides online coupon codes), so I wanted to see if China City was offering any.  In the process of all this I wanted to take some screen shots and show you how effective it is and all you can do through a Google Maps listing.

Just a reminder when you first go to Google Maps, you will see where there is an option to “put your business on Google Maps”  This is where it all starts.

Add Your Business To Google Maps
Add Your Business To Google Maps

Once you get your business listed, and just in case its been a while since you checked out your Google Maps listing, you need to be aware of all the new features they now offer businesses.  You can upload photos, videos and so much more.  If you already have a listing and want to see these features, just log into your Google account and go to the Google Maps and find your listings and edit them.  You will then see all the new options you have.

So here’s what I feel China City did right – If you are listed with Google Maps (the first thing to do right) then when people search for your business on Google, they will get a result that looks like this:

China City Super Buffet
China City Super Buffet

When you click on the Map, you will be taken to a page that looks like this:  This leads me to what I feel is the most important thing offline businesses need to be taking advantage of – COUPONS!

China City Super Buffet
China City Super Buffet

Google Maps lets you have the ability to offer printable coupons that your customers can print off and bring right into the store and save money.  In this case, China City Super Buffet offer you 15% off your entire bill.  That’s a pretty decent savings IMO.   Check out how easy they make it on you:

China City Super Buffet Coupon
China City Super Buffet Coupon

This is a very simple local marketing tip using Google Maps but most local business are not taking advantage!  Hopefully, if you own an offline (local business) this gives you some ideas and what you can do to drive more traffic and take advantage of the people looking for you online.

We Are Already Getting Calls Because Of Your Local Advertising Post

Thank You For Your Tips!

The whole reason I personally blog is to inform my readers of the things they need to be doing to help them increase their business online.  It really is that simple for me. I am not in it for popularity, and there is nothing (and I mean – NOTHING) that puts a bigger smile on my face, then when someone sends me an email telling me that my methods have helped them make money!

I recently (less then a week ago) posted about free local advertising tips a small local business could do to increase traffic to their website.  One reader in particular took me serious and started to implement the techniques immediately.   I got this email last night:

Hi Mat, just a quick note to let you know how thankful I am to you for sharing the information about local marketing.  It has only been a few days since I started to use the sites you provided and I am already getting phone calls, about 10 so far, and booking new clients because of a Yelp local review.  I asked a friend who has used my service before to write me a review, and it seems to be working so far, she already had an account there.  I can’t wait until I am able to do everything on the list.  Thanks again,  Lee

Lee, that is awesome to hear, and the real reason I do what I do – If this is not proof of how instant these local marketing tips could be working for you, then I don’t know what is?  I know online local marketing works, and there is power in the Internet.  I see it everyday. I love how it levels the playing field, and gives ordinary people the opportunity to become extra ordinary business owners.

If you have had success with local marketing and used other techniques then what I mentioned on my local marketing post, then please share them here in the comments – I would love to hear them.  There was several people who left comments on that post with other techniques and places to market locally.  Just last night I learned about some more amazing local advertising places that could help out your local marketing efforts from my good friend Janet who read the post, shared it with her readers, and decided to add her two cents.  I appreciate that!

Again, you don’t have to have a big budget to compete online if you know what you are doing with local marketing.  Between my original post, all the comments and other people blogging about this, there is plenty of local marketing opportunities to be had.  Just go get them!

UPDATE: Just got another pretty cool testimonial sent to me because of the local marketing post.  Check it out:

Mat, I just got a call from a guy who needs a pretty decent size site who found me on Yelp.  Pretty cool huh?  It’s all thanks to you!