December 2016

Adding Special Hours Now Available on Yelp

Adding Special Hours now available on Yelp Today I logged into a Yelp Business Owners dashboard and saw a new section for “Special Hours”. Jack Jostes & I feel are in agreement that this “of utmost importance” for walk-in storefront businesses such as restaurants and retail shops. Yelp announced this on Dec 12th. Yelp is keeping up with Google on this front since Google began including special hours in their business listing dashboard earlier in 2016. Adding special hours is very similar to Google. Here’s how it looks on a Yelp listing of a business listing savvy enough to use it. Hint: It’s a coffee house in San Francisco with over 1700 reviews. Incredible! Yelp is keeping pace with Google, and in many ways WAY ahead of Google with it’s robust list of business attributes and customer interaction functionality. Yelp is awesome! What do you think? Do you love Yelp?

December 30, 2016 on Local Search Marketing Blog

Beyond Rankings – Be Unique and Newsworthy

Be Unique & Newsworthy In the little town of Sisters in Central Oregon, I ended up drinking coffee next to Mike, the owner of Hop in the Spa, and before he could tell me his story I stopped him. I already knew all about it. His business had gone viral globally when it opened just 10 months ago. After visiting some cool beer spas in Europe, this daring entrepreneur thought up the really far-out idea to start a beer spa in a town with a population of about 2,500. A year ago people probably thought he was crazy. But he had two things going for him. #1) This would be the first Beer Spa in America. #2) He had a relationship with a big name beer brand – Deschutes Brewery. The Spa opened on Valentine’s day 2016. Absolutely no one could have anticipated what happened next. A super unique concept in a smoking hot industry (craft beer) hit the Home Run button immediately. By the end of February, this business was international news. As marketers for small local businesses, we focus a lot on inbound links to our clients websites. In Google’s world, if other websites link to your website then it must be worthy of that link. The more links you have, the better your website will rank online. When big league websites link to yours then that really means something. Look what happened to Hop in the Spa: Unicorns do Exist! A business could pay a PR Firm $100k and not even come close to this. Seriously, this is a Unicorn. And since this spa is literally two blocks from my home I drive past it every day and I’ve wondered if anyone actually goes in there. Now sitting next to Mike, I asked him how things are going. He’s brimming over with opportunities & potential. Beer Geeks …

December 27, 2016 on Local Search Marketing Blog

Adding Special Hours on Google Listings

Special Hours on Google Listings Ramblin Jackson just produced a great video about updating holiday hours on Google, and I’m of the opinion that this is super important for all local businesses to do. It’s just good customer service! A year ago, Google was posting alerts in business listings during holidays to let customers know that stated business hours might not be actual hours on those days. And it’s true! Many businesses have reduced hours on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and New Years Eve – but they don’t think to change those hours online. This year, Google empowered businesses to solve this problem by adding special hours for any future date. It’s another awesome improvement to the Google My Business dashboard. And yesterday (Christmas Day) I saw the results of this in action. Is Your Business Open on Christmas Day? Christmas 2016 fell on a Sunday. Sisters Saloon & Ranch Grill is usually open on Sundays serving awesome burgers and Gluten Free sweet potato fries. But they were closed on Christmas, and the owner updated their hours via the Special Hours feature and it’s clearly visible on Google Maps. Way to go Sisters Saloon! Sisters Coffee Company, however, did not add special hours to their listing. They were also closed on Christmas day. (I already knew this since I’m there almost every day). But when I searched on Google Maps, they were listed as OPEN. Despite Google’s best efforts to alert customers that Holiday Hours might be in effect, my guess is that many people drove up to this coffee house only to be disappointed by the sign on the door which listed their Holiday hours. This is a high volume cafe in a city with tons of tourists and out-of-town visitors. People want their coffee! Uh Oh. I don’t blame Sisters Coffee Company. They still …

December 26, 2016 on Local Search Marketing Blog

Beyond Rankings – Just Be Awesome

Just be AWESOME As web marketers, we can do a lot of things to help your business thrive online and offline, but beyond that, what ultimately creates huge success is up to the managers & owners of the business. If you – and your business – is awesome, then you’ll get online reviews and links to your website. You’ll get word-of-mouth referrals and write ups in the media and mentions on blog posts. And it’s all of these things that contribute to how well you rank on Google and how many visitors convert into customers. If you rank #1 and your customer service is terrible, you’ll likely get negative reviews since you are not meeting your customers expectations. So some of your “marketing budget” should go towards being more awesome. Get off Google’s naughty list and by next Christmas you’ll be ranking better online. Customer service & online reviews only tell part of the story. Being somehow newsworthy, special, unique, or even controversial can generate buzz – both online and offline.  Doing supportive things for the community is one way to be awesome. In Central Oregon, our local Dry Cleaners shop offers free suit cleaning to unemployed job candidates. And while this is actually redeemed infrequently, the spirit of the offer is uplifting. They also clean some local school sports & cheerleader uniforms for free as a way to support the schools. And that’s awesome! And yes they just got a link from this blog. Can you come up with 3 ways to just be awesome in 2017? Please share them here in the comments.

December 23, 2016 on Local Search Marketing Blog

5 Local Search Predictions for 2017

5 Local Search Predictions for 2017 While still no one has asked me for my input on this years Local Search Ranking Factors, since I’ve been knee deep in Local Search every day for a wide variety of clients nationwide, I have lots of opinions and a few predictions for 2017. For months now there has been a flurry of small changes in the world of Google My Business and those are foreshocks for some major changes we’ll see in 2017. Update: Jack Jostes & I decided to go on record – and on video – with our spoken 2017 local SEO Predictions. Jacks top 5 list has been added to the bottom of the post. #1 Google My Business Rebrand From the “Google Local Business Center” to “Google Places” in 2010, then to the ill-advised “Google+Local” debacle to the current “Google My Business”, name changes and re-branding have been consistent with Google’s business listing platform. Many changes are happening in Google My Business right now. From experimental verification methods to increased support initiatives, to expanded attributes and insights – there’s a lot of emphasis on Google My Business. Expect a new name to roll out along with something really lame new just when most business owners have memorized the current name. #2 New Advertising Opportunity within the Business Dashboard Hoping to get this right this time, there’s a way to capture the small business market with a simple and effective stand-alone advertising option right there in the dashboard. Why else would Google be pushing businesses to “post” more photos, and start “posting directly on Google.” This is them playing catch up to Facebook ads and don’t expect it to succeed. It will launch in a typically blunderific manner, likely merged with….Yep you guessed it – #3 #3 Google+ 2.0 Google+ does have some …

December 21, 2016 on Local Search Marketing Blog

What is Google Post?

What is Google Post? At 1:06 AM today (a Sunday) I received an email from “The Google Search Team” encouraging urging me to “create content”. I found this intriguing for many reasons. At a glance, the email says, “Now that you’re ready to start publishing, make sure your content has what it takes to grab peoples attention.” Yikes! I wonder what this is? Now at first I simply assumed it was another sneaky tactic to push users into engaging with Google+. I didn’t need or want Google+ the first time it came around and I’m wary that in Google’s tenacious race against Facebook, they will push and push and push until they win. But as I read further, the more perplexed I became. This is something more. Less promotion, more information. If you have a promotion or an event, mention it. But present it as part of a larger conversation—industry insights, audience engagement, etc. Publishing on a regular basis keeps your audience engaged. Also keep in mind that your posts will be live on for only seven days. If you have an upcoming event, publishing about it right before it begins tends to draw more attention. Or use the scheduling feature to create posts ahead of time. Generally, people interact more often with animated GIFs than they do with static images. Boost awareness of your content by sharing it via a link or directly to a third-party service like Twitter or Facebook. This email copy is directed towards business owners. I don’t use this email account for a business listing, it’s just an email account. But I do manage clients using Google tools such as Google My Business and Google Analytics, So I wonder what happens when I click the blue button which leads to Businesses can now publish content directly on …

December 18, 2016 on Local Search Marketing Blog