Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Google Places Exposed: Why Your Local Business Has Been Suspended, Reviewed, Location Not Supported, or Dropped off the 7-Pack

When you have a great location on Google Places business directory, the phone usually starts ringing.  When the phone suddenly stops, you might immediately go check to see the status of your listings on Google Places.  You may be shocked at what you find.

SMB's (Small Businesses) today are at the mercy of the Google Places local business directory.  While many local companies are unaware of the potential increases that they might find in phone calls, sales, and profits from gaining a great rank on the 7-pack of the Google Places Map, more astute owners are working hard to get those rankings and then hold on to them.

However, while Google Places can be a big traffic generator, it is a fickle friend of local business.  Mysteriously, or so it seems, your listing may drop in rank, drop off of the 7-pack, drop out of site completely, or be reviewed, suspended, or have the analytics stop showing, and the words "location not supported" appear. 

Google would undoubtedly be the first to admit that sometime, maybe even often times, these problems are due to hiccups in their systems.  Clearly there are times when Google is introducing something new like tags or "instant" where listings are thrown into a tizzy for a day or two, just to come back to normal later.  And, Google is constantly changing their methods of dealing with various things, and they don't always tell the rest of us what they are up to.

On the other hand, there are some very serious KNOWN reasons why your listing may be in trouble or merely sinking in the rankings.  Here are the big ones:

    ✓    Spammy information in your listing.  This can be the name, address, phone number, description, and possibly the details.  It can also be that your first business category is not one that Google Places has on the drop down menu when you set up the listing.  See Googles rules to determine if what you are doing is outside of their terms. 
    ✓    The location marker is incorrect.  Maybe you moved it to make it closer to the center of town.  Maybe you didn't move it, but Google has decided it isn't correct.  Make sure the marker is in the right place.
    ✓    Your description contains words that repeat what is in your basic information, such as city or address.
    ✓    You don't have any or enough reviews.  If your competition is getting new reviews and you are not, you will drop in rank.
    ✓    Google is not able to find any or very much information about you elsewhere on the web.  This is called citations.  Google wants your information on the listing to be the same as it is on Yelp or Yahoo and especially on your website, or other websites that talk about you.  If your competition has more great citations, you may drop in rank
    ✓    More on citations.  If your name is spumy and filled with keywords or city information, and your website and other places on the web only show the basic name without the spam, you may drop way down or even be suspended.
    ✓    Google is now calling businesses to make sure that they really exist.  If they call your company number and get bad information, we can only guess at the consequences.
    ✓    Multiple listings for the same address or phone number are well documented as a way to lose rank or get suspended or even black balled.

You can reverse all of the above and see each of these as ways to optimize your listing on Google Places.  If you are having difficulties and can't figure out why, call Page1Listings.com at 800-920-1748

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Google Places Secret #1 - Small Things Can Change Everything in Getting the Phone to Ring

Google Places Secret #1 - Small Things Can Change Everything in Getting the Phone to Ring

My newest account has a company in Northern Palm Beach Florida.  His website text, title tags, and his address on his Google Places Listing all refer to Northern Palm Beach.  This may be technically correct for the neighborhood.  A quick search shows that there is a Northern Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce.  But you see, Google Places doesn't always get these kinds of things right.  Or maybe the folks searching get it wrong. 

In any case, you won't find a Google Places map under Bakery Northern Palm Beach when you do a Google Search, but you will under North Palm Beach.  Moreover, to save characters, you get the same result with N Palm beach.

This is not an unusual occurrence, and this is the very kind of thing which separates the individual SMB (small business) owners who want to do this on their own from the professionals who do it all day long.

Examples abound, but commonly deal with the category of business you list under when you set up Google Places.  The issue of selecting the critical keywords for search goes beyond Google Places.  The category choices on any LSE (local search engine) or directory are limited, and Google's are one of the most complicated.  I have discussed that in detail here and here.

One client we have helped considerably is a roofing contractor.  He had done a fair amount of online work when we came to the account.  He knew that important keywords for his category were roofing, roofing contractor, and roof repairs. 

After a competitive analysis, keywords analysis, and actual evaluation of what Google Places would and would not have a map for, we found that re roofing was a major category that he had left out.  He is in a major metro area, and the addition of re roofing contractor gained him visibility on the outside 7 pack for Google Places in adjacent cities where he had not previously appeared.

These kinds of discoveries are not unique or even unusual for us. But it would be a shock to find a DIY customer who had the sophistication to find these huge potential keywords.  Imagine that your one time payment of under $1000 could result in multiple additional locations where your business could be found on Google Places.  In the case of the roofing contractor, one new job would pay many times the entire cost of hiring a pro.

Thursday, September 9, 2010