Local Search Marketing Blog

Do You Post Hours of Operation on Your Front Door?

When are you planning on letting me know if your business is open? When I show up at your door? Over the Thanksgiving holiday this year we drove out to the Oregon Coast to Lincoln City. On the way, I found a highly rated Indian food restaurant in Salem. I figured we could grab lunch there. But my wife said, “Let’s hit that place on the way home and try that (top rated) Mexican restaurant next to our hotel for Dinner”, and so of course her plan became THE plan. All was well until we got to the hotel. We looked over and it was very dark over there. I checked Yelp again. Open. Google? Open. TripAdvisor? Open. So they must be open, right? NOPE. The dreaded pink sign in the window. Sorry for the inconvenience. Y I K E S. Imagine all the disappointed holiday travelers looking for great Mexican food. It’s not just about not being able to eat. It’s about misleading info and frustration & inconvenience. That’s what this restaurant is serving for Thanksgiving. And probably Christmas too! Bah Humbug. PLEASE do not do this! Take 2 minutes to update your Special Hours on Google & Yelp. They make it so easy to update your hours in advance. TripAdvisor does not yet have this feature but if you are in a tourist town, and you serve, um Mexican food, for example – you’ve got to update your business hours there too! And also please instead of duct taping a sign to your front door, take a few moments to stare at your front door. Is it inviting? Is it appealing? What does it say about your business? If you are a restaurant, what does it suggest about how you run your kitchen? Clean it up! Make it …

December 18, 2017 on Local Search Marketing Blog

5 Tips on How to Search For Your Own Business Online

5 Tips on How to Search For Your Own Business Online Most small business owners we talk to tell us that they have a good idea of how their website or business ranks online and are unaware that the rankings they see are not accurate. In these days of Personalized Search Results, it can be tricky to find a true, unbiased view on the rankings of any business. (NOTE: Just to make sure, by “search online” I’m assuming you are searching on Google, like the rest of us.) What you see on Google will depend on many factors including your search history, location, and whether you are logged in, previous actions taken online, and in some instances your social media interactions. There’s great benefit to staying logged in to websites/apps if you spend a lot of time online. Search engines use that info to provide you with an “improved search experience”. So if you want to see how your website or business ACTUALLY appears online – I mean on Google Here are 5 tips for 2018 Tip #1 – Use a Chrome Incognito Browser Window When using Chrome on a desktop/laptop, click on those three vertical dots (top right of browser window) to open a “New Incognito Window”. You ARE using Chrome, right? This window will not retain any of your account info or history or preferences. It’s essentially a “clean” window. Tip #2 – Update your Search Settings – View 100 Search Results Do you want to see where your website ranks for various search phrases? View 100 results on a page instead of just 10. Then do a search for your website or business name on the page (Command – F on a Mac) and see where it shows up in the top 100. And what page or …

December 6, 2017 on Local Search Marketing Blog

Why does Google Keep Calling My Business?

Is Google using RoboCalls to spam my phone number? Many business owners get confused due to the repeated Spam calls to their business phone number from people claiming to be a representative from Google offering all sorts of scams. Here’s a list. Robocall scams are automated phone calls using recorded messages that may ask you to press a button to speak to a sales rep. Google doesn’t make these calls, so if it’s not a real person right from the start (and you didn’t request an automated call from Google), it’s not Google. It’s not Google that’s calling your business! Unfortunately these calls are coming from scammers posing as legitimate agencies whose business model is to rip off business owners. The scammers offering to help you with your google listing or rankings has created the very ugly side of SEO (and a well-deserved sense of distrust in the industry). When might Google contact you? You may receive a phone call from Google to verify your business or confirm business details for Google Maps or Google My Business. You may also receive a phone call about Google AdWords, Google Play or other Google products. Unless you specifically requested an automated call, a call from Google will always be from a live person, not a recorded voice. Any emails from Google should come from an email address ending in “@google.com.”  What can you do about it? ALWAYS BLOCK THESE PHONE NUMBERS You may find this annoying, as every week scammers seem to call from a different phone number. But just stick to it. Each spam call that comes in, just block the number. This is easy on a cell phone but also possible for any phone service. Eventually your efforts will pay off and these calls will stop. REPORT THE SPAMMERS This …

November 24, 2017 on Local Search Marketing Blog

Now is the time to update your Special Holiday Hours on Google

Now is the time to update your Special Holiday Hours on Google! Google has worked hard to give business owners the opportunity to set special hours for Holidays to create extra trust for their customers. People know that many businesses don’t proactively announce hours online and often just tape a note to the front door.  And this can be frustrating and sometimes infuriating to customers! (and they might enjoy writing a bad review online because of it). So avoid bad reviews and make sure you take that next step to inform your customers when your hours will be different than normal! Really! DO THIS NOW. Step 1: Log in to Google My Business, click on “Info” Step 2: Scroll down and click on “Special Hours”. There you’ll see suggested dates for you to update. And you can add others too – up to a year in advance. It’s easy to figure out. Step 3: Have a nice relaxing day knowing that you are on top of everything. In fact you can take the rest of the day off.  

November 2, 2017 on Local Search Marketing Blog

Google My Business Rolling Out New Features

New Features in Your Google My Business Dashboard Google is on a tear lately, launching a rapid series of awesome additions & enhancements to the Google My Business platform. Finally! After years of neglect (and the distraction of the Marissa Mayer debacle), the long wish lists for Google business listings is seeing some real action. In addition to improved functionality and the addition of attributes, and better customer support, Google My Business listings now offer 3 new features: FREE websites that can be created in minutes Social-style promotional Posts which expire in 7 days Built-in SMS Messaging for customer support Google is intent on keeping users in the Google ecosystem and all of these features are strong engagement options for SMBs (Small Business Owners) to use Google My business on a DAILY basis. Now, why was this not a priority in 2009? Well…. And because of this lapse of attention for the past several years Google has essentially trained business owners that there’s nothing special about their Google listing. Now that there IS, I expect most businesses to take a LONG TIME to adopt most of these features. And Google is notoriously bad at promoting its own products. Will you use these features? Will you even log in to check them out? Do you know how to log in to Google My Business? Future posts here will examine details on each new feature.

July 13, 2017 on Local Search Marketing Blog

Google Business Name Spam Update

Google Business Name Spammers Beware! We can edit your Business Name for you Dear Business Owners: Your Google business listing is for you to list your actual business name at your actual business address. Yes, we understand that you want to rank well on Google for your specific business services – but the “Business Name” field is not the place to mention those things. Oh, ALSO, we understand that you want Google to know which city your business is in – but that’s why there is a “City, ST” field. Just go ahead and put the city where the city name goes, Okay? Yes, there is sarcasm my tone here – but some of these “business names” are ridiculous and embarrassing. I mean, ARE YOU FOR REALS????? I’ve been informed that Google is hard at work to resolve this gap in enforcement in Google guidelines. Perhaps later in 2017, after we’ve captured some aliens and Elvis comes out of hiding, Google will enforce inflict penalties on obvious spammers. And for the Corporations that are knowingly practicing spammy tactics, I hope that there’s a way for Google to penalize the whole lot of them. I don’t know how they might do that – but perhaps there is a way. In the meantime, we’ll just keep editing spammy business listings ourselves. Hint: And YOU can too!! It’s easy & fun. Yes, I know that it’s hard to rank on Page 1 of Google. It Should Be hard.  The best businesses should rank the best. Don’t you think? By “gaming the system” and essentially “cheating your way to the top” you are doing no one any favors. The question I now ask of business owners: “Why should Google rank you on page 1? Please be specific.” More on that later….

June 27, 2017 on Local Search Marketing Blog

Google Business Name Spam: Major Offender #1

Major Offender #1 of Google Business Name Spam: Theravive In 2017, two major stories in Local SEO are Mike Blumenthal’s research into Fake Review networks and Spammy Business Names. While Google is apparently working on these issues, changes are too slow to arrive. It still pays to cheat on Google and that’s not a good thing for anyone. The competitive mental health industry is flooded with spammy business names and while some folks for sure just don’t know the rules, many are knowingly breaking them. I’ve taken the time to manually update over 100 Google listings for therapists with bogus business names. It’s kinda fun and anyone can do it! But what if you were a serious service provider for therapists and your offering knowingly included spammy SEO tactics? Is this okay? Theravive offers a “limited” number of spots on their paid directory and offers a couple upgrades and they guarantee at least 1 new patient for your therapy practice. These people might be awesome and be sincerely helping people, but the first hint of their improper business practices is that “guarantee” they offer. What they do is create Google business listings for their customers that have Bogus & Spammy Business names clearly in violation of Google’s stated guidelines. Yikes! Let’s look them up in a few cities across America: Having keywords and city names in Google Business Names does affect rankings and gives these listings a boost over their competition. Theravive knows this. One thing we know for sure is that these business names are BOGUS. So what can we do about this? Can someone report this to Google? Would anyone at Google do anything about this? It’s doubtful. One thing you can do is seek these listings out in your city and click on “suggest an edit” and manually edit the …

May 17, 2017 on Local Search Marketing Blog

The Truth About Search Engines in 2017

The Truth About Search Engines Today The above image shows website traffic from one of our clients for this past week. When I work with small business owners, I often politely use the phrase “Search Engines” when talking about website rankings and potential visitors “from search”. This is politically correct, of course, because there are many search engines. The truth for EVERY business I speak with is that almost ALL search traffic will come from Google. Period. While it’s nice to have a Bing Local business listing and it’s really lovely that Bing exists, Bing will not drive traffic resulting in an measurable effect on sales, revenue or profits for any small local business. Earlier this week I was speaking on the phone with a client and together we did a few searches together. Then he said, “Wait a minute! For some reason I’m on Bing! That’s why I’m seeing different results. How did that happen?” It was his computer somehow defaulting to Bing for searches, despite his intentions to conduct a real search on Google. Has this ever happened to you? (could that be most of the 2% of searches in the above image?) This may sound harsh but I’ve been saying this for many years: Keep your focus on Google. Focus your efforts to rank well and capture potential new business from people using Google to find what you offer. It’s perfectly fine to ignore Bing. Bing a non-factor. Yahoo is a carcass along the side of the road. Ignore Yahoo. Spend your time making sure your Google listing is awesome and your website informs Google very explicitly what you offer and where you offer it. Focus on those things and you’ll score 96% out of 100. Okay so now get to work!

April 27, 2017 on Local Search Marketing Blog

The Latest News for Local SEO in 2017

The Latest News for Local SEO in 2017 Last month Jack Jostes attended the MOZCON Local conference where all the latest Local SEO information was shared and discussed. Oh how I wanted to be there too! Jack took over 40 pages of notes which he distilled down to a 40 minute video for the team at Ramblin Jackson. If you really, r e a l l y want to watch that video, let me know. But you are probably better off just watching this 6 minute video here for Jacks Key Takeaways from MOZCON Local 2017. My favorite 3 points: Google is the new home page: Google is pulling more and more information about your business directly into their search results so you don’t need to leave Google. 34% of searches receive no clicks. How does your business look on Google? Trend: Voice Search is growing rapidly and businesses must consider this when crafting content about their business and it’s products & services. Are you ready for your future? Things need to be consistent! Trend: Online reviews are more important than ever – both in supporting clicks from potential customers and in rankings. Request reviews via email from your customers with direct one-to-one emails from you and let them know how much of a difference that will make for your business.

March 21, 2017 on Local Search Marketing Blog

How to Add Photos to Your Google Business Listing

Adding Photos to Your Google Business Listing Google LOVES images. Our experience is that Google My Business listings with more photos perform better (conversions) and may in fact achieve better rankings than those with few photos. These conclusions seem be supported by Google’s new enthusiasm for photos. Yet, for small business owners, this can be a problem. It often falls to the very bottom of the list of more important tasks, which is reasonable. But there are easy ways to add photos to your Google Listing: #1  Download the Google My Business App on your smartphone. Login and get acquainted. Now you can get push notifications to alert you of reviews, updates and more. #2  Take photos of your business with your phone. Happy, personable and engaging photos are best. If you own a restaurant, happy faces eating your food inside your establishment make the best profile photos. Stock images = Bad. #3  Upload those photos to your Google My Business App. And now you are done. You can follow these same steps on Yelp with Yelp Business Owners App. Tip While just having photos on your listings is good, having professional looking photos would be better, and photos uploaded with optimized file names is a good idea [pizza-new-haven-ct.jpg], but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

February 9, 2017 on Local Search Marketing Blog