Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Google Places Listing Disappeared!! What Happened to My Google Places Listing?

These are the first words I hear on most phone calls coming from this blog.  The business owner was listed and showing up in the Google Places sweet spot, but when the phone stopped ringing ... you guessed it ... the listing went AWOL.

There are multiple reasons why this might happen.   Sometimes the owner has been playing with some black hat approaches (or at least gray hat), and Google has finally said enough already.  Usually such a banishment is accompanied by comments in the Google Places Account Information.  Possible Account Suspended, or "this location is not supported." 

You may run into this same result due to inadvertent errors in following the Google rules.  That is why we set up the $100 check under the hood option for our readers.  In most cases we can diagnose the issue and have you up and running in no time. 

However, there are other times when the issue goes deeper.  Fortunately the Google errors have subsided since last year, but they haven't gone away.  When Google has goofed, it can take numerous emails and trips to the forum to get a resolution.  Even Google says this can take 6 weeks.

The third possibility is that you have lost out to the competition.  This can be for a multitude of reasons having to do with location, reviews, improvement by them in their listings (by someone like me), or just more and more folks claiming their site or being added to the neighborhood by Google. 

We can help with all of the above.  Our goal is to help folks like you grow your business and your profits.  Give me a shout at 310-910-1848.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Google Search Page 1 - An Analysis by Google Places Expert

Sorry to go to the tall weeds and inside baseball stuff, but there is no other place where a small local business can advertise that has more impact than page 1 of Google Search.  As has been true for the last three years, the methods and restrictions on Page 1 of Google are changing all the time. 

The number one change that effects all local business is that the competition for being found on page one for the best keywords in every industry has gotten much, much tighter.  Three years ago when the local search concept was just starting to be a separate idea, very few businesses were aware of the importance of getting listed on Google Local Business Center (now Places).  Probably fewer than 5% had either created a listing or claimed a listing created by Google.

This meant that there was only a few businesses competing for those top spots.  Moreover, the "rules" for getting those top spots were much simpler.  Now the number of claimed Places sites has multiplied, and Google has continued to find more sites to put up that are still unclaimed. 

The net result is that it is now almost impossible to get a business on page one of Google Places for a zip code or city that they do not reside in.  On the other hand, you will almost certainly be on that page in your zip code and for your city, if it is relatively small. 

Here is a screen shot of the Places Page for General Contractor 90066.  You will note that our client, Green Planet Building, is showing here.  However, this client does not show up under General Contractor 90203, just 5 miles away.  They do show up under an easier keyword Green General Contractor in locations further from their own zip code.

For better or worse most consumers still don't go to the Places Page.  They still use the Everything Page.

Now for the gory details.  Here is a screen shot of the Everything Page.  Please note on the left hand column where Google offers you multiple ways to search.  You can search by maps, blogs, news, etc.   The Everything search is still by far the most likely way folks are looking for you. 
In the Everything search, you will commonly find paid ads at the top and on the right side, just as you do in this view.  About 20% of visitors doing search will pay any attention to these paid ads. 

Next you will see the "organic" or unpaid section.  This is generally comprised of 10 websites, YouTube videos, articles, press releases, etc.  In addition to these 10, Google now places from one to ten Places listings IF the search term lends itself to a local business search.  These Places listings and other organic sites on the Everything page are the most important real estate for the local business owner.
And being on this first page is also critical, because only 20% of the population will search beyond the first page.

Our effort on your behalf is to get you on as many of these first pages as we can any way we can.  It might be Places, your website, YouTube, articles, press releases, blog posts, or any other tool possible. 

You will note on this screen shot that our client does show up in the organic listings far from home base.  Montrose is about as far away as you can get from West LA and still be in Los Angeles County.  But this is not their actual website.  This is the landing page we created using the PowerOnSEO tool.  If you were to click on this landing page, it will look pretty much like their website, but with different copywriting.  From this landing page, the visitor can go to the other pages of the actual website.

I hope this helps you to better understand how the current Google Search works for local businesses like you.  If you have any questions, don't hesitate to send me an email or call 310-910-1848.

Randy Kirk