Friday, April 30, 2010

Google Places Coupons - Worth What They Charge has coupons, and if you fill those out, they are likely to show up on Google Search on the first page.  Google Places Coupons on the other hand . . . I've never seen one show up on search.  On the other hand, I have had at least one customer have a client walk in to the store with a Google Places Coupon, which to date I know of no one getting a MerchantCircle Coupon in their hand.

For now, the few minutes it takes to fill out the coupon is likely to help with ranking, so do it.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Google Places Analytics - Worth Watching

All marketing should be tracked.  Even free marketing.  Google Places is close to free.  It takes an hour or two to do a decent job of creating the listing, and they now hope to charge you $25 a month to do a bit of advertising, but either way that's about the least your going to pay for any kind of marketing.  In this case, the almost free marketing could potentially make you a bunch of money.  So check once per week to see how you're doing on Places.

The basic information will look something like this.  You will see how many folks saw your listing and how many took action.  Scroll down and you can see what kind of action (eg. directions, clicked to website, etc.)

You can also see what kind of keywords they found you on, and what part of the city they were in when they asked for directions.   Some pretty cool stuff.  The trend line on the above sample was a bit unnerving, as the number of impressions and actions dropped precipitously.  After extensive investigation on forums and emails to other pro's, nobody can explain it.  All of the losses came from lookups of the company's actual name, not from keywords, but a search of the company name in various spellings showed that it was a stand alone listing on the outside map in every case.  Google Places has Glitches.  And nobody's at home to help with the fixes.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Google Places Own Words - Published Guidelines

When you are uploading your listing to Google Places, you can certainly take advantage of their helps and their forum.  WARNING.  Useless.  However much to the surprise of everyone in the local search engine world, Google issued some guidelines earlier this year.  I think they are all covered in my tutorials on the Pages here, but just in case, here it is in their own words as reported by

Google Places quality guidelines

Business Listings in Google Places must have correct information about physical, local businesses, as they appear in the real world. Google reserves the right to suspend access to Google Places or to other Google Services to individuals or businesses violating these guidelines.
  • Only business owners or authorized representatives may verify their business listings on Google.
Business Name
  • Represent your business exactly as it appears in the offline world. The name on Google should match the business name, as should the address, phone number and website.
  • Do not attempt to manipulate search results by adding extraneous keywords or a description of your business into the business name.
  • Do not include phone numbers or URLs in the business name.
Physical Location
  • Do not create listings at locations where the business does not physically exist.
  • PO Boxes do not count as physical locations.
  • Do not create more than one listing for each business location, either in a single account or multiple accounts.
  • Businesses that operate in a service area as opposed to a single location should not create a listing for every city they service. Service area businesses should create one listing for the central office of the business only.
  • Businesses with special services, such as law firms and doctors, should not create multiple listings to cover all of their specialties.
  • The precise address for the business must be provided in place of broad city names or cross-streets.
  • A property for rent is not considered a place of business. Please create one listing for the central office that processes the rentals.
URL & Phone
  • Provide a phone number that connects to your individual business location as directly as possible. For example, you should provide an individual location phone number in place of a call center.
  • Provide one URL that best identifies your individual business location.
  • Do not provide phone numbers or URLs that redirect or 'refer' users to other landing pages or phone numbers other than those of the actual business.
Custom Attributes & Description
  • Use the description and custom attribute fields to include additional information about your listing. This type of content should never appear in your business's title, address or category fields.
  • Please see this page of Google Places User Guide for examples of acceptable custom attributes.
Best Practices
  • Use a shared, business email account, if multiple users will be updating your business listing.
  • If possible, use an email account with a domain that matches your business URL. For example, if your business website is, a matching email address would be

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Google Places Will Take an Offering Now

I have written here that Google is god, or at least intends to become god.  I won't go into detail here as I have gone into some detail here.

One aspect of Googles godlike behavior is that so much is now free.  Google docs, search, mail, voice, and so on.  I claim that it is only a matter of time before they will pass the offering plate like any good religion.  And so it has begun.  Check this out from a very savvy Internet Guru:

2. Advertising with Tags - For 25 bucks a month, businesses (in certain cities) can use Tags to highlight their listings on and Google Maps. These are yellow markers that let you promote important aspects of your business. They can be used for thins like coupons, photos, and other select features.  They don’t affect the rank of search results, but they give customers more information and may prove beneficial. You can expect Google to increase the number of cities where this option is available. 

I will be recommending this option to everyone of my clients the minute it is available in their area.  The income from this little collection will be enormous.

Monday, April 26, 2010

More Rants RE: Google Places - Flagged and Pending Listings

To date I have created about 250 Google Places Listings.  These have been done one at a time for clients.  Each one has been labored over like the launch of a new product.  For some of my clients, such as plumbers, carpet cleaners, and restaurants, getting on the outside (page 1) of Google Places map is a very big deal.

In the course of so many submissions, I have also scoured the internet to learn as much as I can about what others are doing and saying on forums, blogs, websites and so forth.  I have emails coming to me all day from Google Feeds alerting me to any news regarding Places.  In other words, when I put up a Google Places Listing, I know what I'm doing.  No bragging here.  Just truth in plain words.

In fact, I only give that introduction because with all that background, sometimes I get flagged.  Sometimes I get Flagged.  I go back and change things.  I take it down and put it back up.  I wait...and wait.... and wait some more.

C'mon.  This is just irritating.  Imagine if it's your first experience.  Surely if the robot is clever enough to flag the account while it does a content check, it is clever enough to indicate what content it is checking. There has to be some way for the user to get an update.

I don't happen to be paying for any adwords or be involved with adsense.  I have heard that if you are in contact with a sales person, you can sometimes get straight answers of get your problems resolved.  I guess that's fair.  Pay to play.

Of course, this is not the only odd result on Google Places, but it is by far the most irritating to me.  What about you?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Google Places Needs to Improve Videos

Once again we must give Places a Shout Out for allowing the upload of five videos to the listing.  However, these videos, unlike even pictures, have absolutely zero appeal sitting there with no description.  At least with a picture, you have the ability to show a product, an emotion, your good looking staff, your storefront.  With the video icons, the visitor has no idea what is on the video, so no incentive to spend a few minutes taking a look.

The answer seems so simple.  A Title or even a short description for each video would make this section of the listing come alive, be useful, and improve the visitor experience.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Fixing Google Places - Pictures

I am going to take Google on.  I happen to be a major fan, so who better to pick at their nits.  But the truth is that Google Places has the potential to be awesome, and it seems like the parts that keep it from being the cat's meow are easy to fix.  So the rants begin.  Don't hesitate to add your own rants to the comments below, or email me and I'll set you up with your own column.  Maybe if we raise enough stink, they'll actually solve some of this stuff. 

The pictures section is the worst of the problems, so I'll address that first.  Thank You Google Places for allowing us 10 pictures.  It is totally a neat deal that you use the first picture uploaded as the icon for the listing on the inside map pages.  But why have you made it so hard to make the pictures look good.  No other local search engine has this issue.  If you try and put up a normal 3 X 4 picture, it commonly squashes the contents and distorts everything.  Sometimes it cuts people's heads off (see above).  Go ahead, check out any page on Places and you'll see distorted pictures.

Number Two - Why can't we have a caption on these pictures?  Google, you are supposed to love information.  So how is it that the pictures are left naked with no explanation as to what we are beholding in them.  We get to know who supplied them.  Who cares?  We want to know what the heck we're looking at.  How hard can this be?