January 2017

5 Reasons Why You Should Love Yelp

5 Reasons Why You Should Love Yelp I talk to many business owners who are flat-out afraid of Yelp. They don’t even want their business listed on Yelp. Is that you? This blog post is for you! Forget all the horror stories and fear mongering of Yelp’s past. Yelp has grown up and plays a powerful role in the world of online marketing. If your business is something people are likely searching for on Yelp, it’s time to embrace this monster. Here are 5 reasons why: #1 Yelp ranks on Page 1 Across most every business category and across most every city in America, in searches for “service + city” you’ll find a Yelp page on page 1. Yelp has done an excellent job of creating relevant pages that help people find what they are looking for. TIP – Optimize your business listing with photos, bio, description & history to improve your rankings on Yelp. SECRET – The words and phrases your customers use to write their reviews of your business can contribute to where and how you rank on Yelp AND Google. #2 You can respond publicly & privately to Yelp reviews Yelp reviews are awesome! Reviews are a top ranking factor on Yelp so the more reviews you have on Yelp, the better you will rank on that page that’s on page 1. All reviews contribute to rankings – not just positive ones. Don’t be afraid of reviews – even bad ones! Yelp reviewers can be brutally honest and ruthless. They also tend to be long-winded and opinionated. This can be great for your business! There are a few strategies how to turn negative reviews into a very positive experience for your business. Tip – Think of the ability to interact with your reviewers as an opportunity to provide excellent customer …

January 30, 2017 on Local Search Marketing Blog

Why Photos of Your Business Matter

Business photos on Google: It Makes a Difference This is what happens when you make great pizza Mike Blumenthal recently posted about an upgrade to photos in the Google My Business dashboard. It’s one of series of recent dashboard upgrades and another indication that Photos could should be a priority for local businesses. The highlight of Mike’s post: “In a recent case study, I found that 70% of web based actions leading to a sale occurred on Google, either in the Knowledge Panel, Maps or the search result. Photos seem to play a huge role in both the first impression and the subsequent user action. Google research has indicated significant click through improvements on listings with photos vs those without: Having great photos is one controllable step that can facilitate that initial client interaction. With this improved interface there is no reason not to take advantage of this bump.” Good Photos Attract Customers While working with Yelp reps last year on a chain of restaurants, I was “encouraged” to add images along with additional attributes. The average image count went from <10 to >80 for each location and we saw a very tangible 20% increase in visibility and clicks in the Yelp business dashboard. More photos appeared to both improve rankings on Yelp and click-through visits & phone calls. The photos added had optimized file names with “keyword + city” (always a good practice) so that may have helped. Your customers can upload their own photos of your business on Yelp and now on Google too. Sometimes those are the best and most engaging images. What Makes a Good Business Photo? The best photos are ones that show interactions of people and your business. Logos and random photos don’t compel anyone to do anything. People want to see humans enjoying themselves in …

January 27, 2017 on Local Search Marketing Blog

Are Keyword-Rich Domain Names Still a Thing?

Should I Have Keywords in My Domain? Not so long ago, back in mid-2016, I was disappointed to see that many websites were ranking high up on page 1 for no good reason besides their domain was exactly or very closely matched to my search query. The bummer of the past 10+ years that the internet has been flooded by Plumbers switching their business names from “AAAA Plumbing” to “www.plumbersincincinatti.com” and it has worked. Shouldn’t we be beyond this by now? People ask me about this a lot so I actually researched this deeply multiple times in 2016. It was sad, but true – keywords in your domain could make a BIG difference. Then at some point in the Fall of 2016, things changed. My domain name research became confusing and wildly inconsistent. Business owners kept calling to ask if they should switch their domain . My short answer became, “I just don’t know”. Two recent disappointing examples of this are www.acupunctureinboulder.com currently ranking in the middle of page 7 for “acupuncture in boulder” and psychologistssanfrancisco.com with wildly unpredictable rankings relevant phrases. The truth is that this is a big issue that Google has likely been chipping away at for years. And it’s complicated. We’ll leave the advanced technical research of Exact Match Domains (EMDs) and Partial Match Domains (PMDs) to others for now. You can find plenty of that on Google if you ask the right questions. All I know is that the writing has been on the wall (and on lots of blogs) for years now and we can see a sea change happening here. It’s long overdue. Choosing a Domain Name for your Website Yes you want your new website to rank as high as it can, right? Like tomorrow, right? Okay, but what about in 3 years or 5 years and beyond? Putting a new small business …

January 25, 2017 on Local Search Marketing Blog

How to Get More Yelp Reviews

How to Get More Yelp Reviews Most businesses know that having reviews on Yelp will probably be helpful, even if they cringe at the thought of what might happen if their customers actually review them there. If you are a business owner looking to get more reviews to improve rankings, there are a few things you should know. Yelp has a “bold yet delicate” policy regarding soliciting reviews. Over the years, Yelp has discouraged review solicitation, yet Yelp encourages businesses to “find” their business on Yelp with window stickers and HTML widgets. In 2016, after working closely with the Yelp team on several businesses, I got the clarification I was looking for. _____________________________ It’s actually okay to request customers to write a review – just NOT a positive one.   ______________________________ Despite that, the Yelp Scare Tactics Guidelines specifically state: Don’t ask for reviews and don’t offer to pay for them either: Please don’t ask your customers to review your business on Yelp. Over time, solicited reviews create bias on your business page — a bias that savvy consumers can smell from a mile away. You should also never offer compensation (discounts and freebies count too) in exchange for reviews.   I believe that Yelp has needed to be bold in their Scare Tactics Policies because human nature supports a bias towards business owners only asking for reviews from their happy customers, whether in person or via email. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers for reviews! Quantity of online reviews is still a powerful ranking factor on Google. It’s also likely the strongest ranking factor for Yelp. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers for reviews! If your customers are Yelpers, they will naturally organically write reviews on Yelp. If you are sending out review requests to your customers via bulk email or e-newsletter – …

January 23, 2017 on Local Search Marketing Blog

Where do Google My Business Attributes Come From?

Where do your business attributes come from? Short Answer: You! There has been considerable anticipation of the broader roll-out of business “Attributes” on Google. In 2016, Google launched this feature in the Google My Business dashboard beginning with dining details for restaurants and then a more general attribute for “Wheelchair Access”. Today I was on Google Maps on my phone to call the Sisters Athletic Club to see if they were open. It was a snow day here so schools were closed and many businesses were closing early. I looked down and saw this small box at the bottom of the screen asking if I knew this place. Here’s the screen: I just HAD TO click it. But the wording is so bizarre. “OK” or “CLOSE”? Oh well. I clicked on “OK” and Alas! Google is collecting attributes from me about this business. It’s widely accepted that Google does not trust business owners to submit accurate data. Google trusts other sources, including themselves, far more. Again Google is playing catchup to Yelp by offering customers to submit additional data to their business listings. This appears to be a full roll-out so we can anticipate a rush of new attributes to appear in Google business listings. Here were the questions I was asked (These are likely based on the categories listed for the business). Are you seeing this too? Do you have any incentive to submit data to Google? Yelp is a community of Yelpers and is more of a “Culture” – Yelpers helping Yelpers. On Google? Would you give Google these precious extra :15 secs of your day? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

January 6, 2017 on Local Search Marketing Blog

A Story About Melvin’s Fir Street Market

Melvin’s is a small healthy grocery store on Fir Street here in Sisters, Oregon. And it’s really a special place. Everyone loves Melvin’s and it’s owner, Melvin Herburger. You can hear live bluegrass music while enjoying some of the best soup you’ll ever have. And on the shelf you’ll find a few products my wife & I have requested to be stocked. My kids draw art for Melvin and he tapes it up on the walls at the cash register. We visit almost everyday for one reason or another. Last Winter, my wife sent me to Melvins after dinner to fetch some baking ingredient. I didn’t know what time they closed so I looked it up on my phone. Google Maps. Uh Oh. I couldn’t find Melvins. I searched a little deeper and saw some posted hours – open until 8pm. I arrived at about 7:30 and they were already closed. Ugh. I headed across town to Ray’s (Similar to Safeway but more expensive). Like many businesses in this small town, Melvin’s had some serious problems with their web presence. I was probably not the only person affected by it – but I knew how to fix it. He has a very basic website, but in this town – for this type of business – having a website is less important than having accurate business listings. So on my next visit I cornered Melvin and showed him what happened when I search for “Grocery Store Sisters, Oregon” from inside his grocery store: Yikes! Not only was his Google listing not showing, his location was incorrectly displaying his main competitor – at his address!! He agreed to let me sit with him at his computer to fix this problem. Here’s Melvin in one of his trademark Hawaiian shirts editing his listing on Google. Melvin is a lot like many other …

January 5, 2017 on Local Search Marketing Blog

How to Add a Manager to Google My Business

How to Add a Manager to Google My Business Business owners should ALWAYS own their own business listing on Google. But having your listing professionally managed is a good idea for most people. These days, thankfully, Google does a great job of making this possible.   The instructions can be found HERE   Sign in to Google My Business. Make sure you’re using card view. If you’re viewing your locations as a list instead of cards, switch to card view by clicking the cards icon  on the right side above your locations. Choose the listing you’d like to manage and click Manage location. Click the three dash menu icon  in the upper left-hand side of your screen, then click Manage users  . In the top right corner of the “Managers of [your business]” box that appears, click the “Invite new managers” icon . Select the user’s role by clicking Owner, Manager, or Communications manager below their name. Click Invite. Invitees will have the option to accept the invitation and immediately become listing owners or managers. This window displays all active owners and managers, as well as people who have been invited to become owners or managers. You can cancel pending invitations by clicking the X in the row with the invitation you want to remove.

January 4, 2017 on Local Search Marketing Blog

Twitter Support for Yelp!

Yelp Support now Available on Twitter One of the many reasons I truly love Yelp – after hundreds of interactions with Yelp Customer Support – I can say that I’ve never had a negative experience. Now it’s easier than ever to get help from Yelp. Yelp Twitter Support Looking at their recent tweets, it’s clear that they are working hard to improve. With new features such as special hours, new categories, real people moderating flagged reviews, and listing clean up – Yelp is really making progress! While I still don’t think Yelp Advertising works for most businesses, it’s one of the top-ranking directories across the US and getting stronger each year. On their Mobile App, it’s so easy to Check In, add attributes, write a review and add photos of your experience. It’s quick and slick and actually a lot of fun. While Google has recently improved the ability for reviewers to upload photos – they’ve got a long way to go to catch up with Yelp. Check out the cool pics I took for these businesses in Sisters, OR. As a user, do you love Yelp as much as I do? As a business owner, are you seeing traffic to your business from Yelp? Do you love it? Hate it? Let us know!

January 2, 2017 on Local Search Marketing Blog