Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Certify Google Places Experts - 2012 Suggestions for Google

Everybody is a Google Places Expert.  Nobody is a Google Places Expert.  Or so it would seem.  I get phone calls, emails, texts, and I'm sure you do to, from folks who are guaranteeing my Google Places listing will be NUMBER 1 for up to X number of keywords.  Unlike you, I get phone calls from folks who have been suspended, removed, smacked, or otherwise made to pay the price of the so-called expert handling of their listing.

So, as I did last year, I'm calling on Google to create an online class to train Google Experts.  Once completing the class, passing a test, and paying a fee, those experts would receive certification.  Those certified would have access to real Google customer service people so that Google's errors (Oh yeah.  Google Places has errors) could be dealt with quickly.

In the meantime, what is a poor business owner to do?  How do they know what they are getting when the pay good money for some company claiming to be able to do the miraculous?  First choice for those reading this blog post...Hire us.  If you read the blog, view the videos, and check out the resume, you should come away believing we know what we are talking about, and have the references to back it up.

If you are already planning to hire someone else, check out our blog post for a basic How To Select a Google Places Expert To Optimize Your Google Places Listing approach.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

How To Select a Google Places Consultant To Optimize Your Google Places Listing

Need to be sure about who you are hiring to optimize your Google Places Listing.  Hire a teenager?  LOL.  That is probably as good an answer as any.  You would undoubtedly do better with a 14 year-old than with some of the services out there. 

Seriously.  Don't figure that it's only $29.95 a month (for the rest of your life), and you can quit anytime, so what the heck.  The wrong service can mess up your Google Places listing so bad that you could pay me $100's or even $1000's to fix their errors.  They may be using black hat methods that will result in you being suspended or even removed.  They may be using year old approaches that Google has since SPECIFICALLY stated are no longer ok.  I've had two calls this week from folks who really thought they knew what they were doing, but were putting geographic information in the categories.  A definite no-no.

I tend to stay away from companies with BIG RED headlines or overblown rhetoric.  If you know what you're doing, you can make a very good living helping folks with internet SEO.  There is no need to blow your horn in bold or make claims you can't support later.  Yes, we in business all need to advertise, and we sometimes need to create monster headlines to get attention.  But I personally tend to look beyond the headline to the content of their writing.  You can't do this job unless you can write well, and explain your core competency in a way that anyone can understand.

I like to see some referrals, testimonials, and such.  However, as a marketer, I know that I can get three or four good reviews for almost anyone.  So we offer folks over 100 of our current and former clients as a resource.  We suggest they randomly call as many as they wish.  If a company offers you three phone numbers, ask for five. 

How does the company rank on its key words?  If you look up Google Places Expert, you're going to see my name at the top of the page for the entire world.  If you search for Google Places Optimization, you'll find me ranked #6 for the entire world.  If your service can't get ranked for their own business, it's a pretty good hint about their ability to do it for you.

What are they actually going to do to get you ranked.  Check out the posts here.  You'll see what they should be doing.  You'll also see what they shouldn't be doing.  NO BLACK HAT! 

Forget about the guarantees.  Nobody can guarantee anything about Google.  What you should expect from your doctor and your Google Places Expert is that they will use best practices known at this time for getting the results you are after.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Optimize Google Places 2012 - A List of Suggestions for Google - Part 4 - Transfer of Ownership

Current official instructions from Google Places state that there is no way to transfer ownership from one Google Account to another.  This presents huge issues.  Many folks set up their Google Places before they know this, and attach it to their Google Account with their personal email and personal YouTube account.  Now they want to sell the store.  Whoops!

Sure, the GooglePlacesSphere has spoken loudly about this.  So how could the poor sap who owns the local pizza shop have not known.  Here's my question.  Why is it such a big deal to allow transfer of the Google Places from one Google Account to another?

Now, just for fun or something.  Let me tell you that the other day an account decided to try an experiment.  They removed their Google Places account from their Google Account.  Then they immediately claimed it on another account.  It worked and the kept all the reviews.

Any one else try this and have it work or not work?????

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Optimize Google Places 2012 - A List of Suggestions for Google - Part 3 - Social Media??

Am I confused.  Some certainly think my politics are?  But can we all agree on this.  Google wants us to talk to each other online.  Google+, Google Voice, YouTube, Blogger, GMail and more are part of the supposed Google effort to connect us all.

Then please explain to me why Google Places has no place to put your social media links.  Not even the ones owned by Google.  You can add the links to the detail section at the bottom, but Google isn't showing anyone those details anymore.  Not sure why they are there or why we go to so much trouble to fill them out.

So, can I get an Amen to the idea that we need Google Places to add an easy way to link Google+, YouTube Channel, Blogger, FaceBook, Linkedin, and Twitter?  And can these be in an attractive iconic form like they appear on the most rudimentary website?

AGREE?  Or tell me to get a life.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Optimize Google Places 2012 - A List of Suggestions for Google - Part 2 - Ranking???

I spend a huge amount of my time trying to understand Google Places.  I have been doing this for 4 years, basically at the start of the internet switch to local.  I read everything I can.  I have Google alerts set for Google Places.  I experiment and help folks to get better ranking.  If you apply everything I say in this blog, you will almost certainly be highly ranked.

HOWEVER, I can show you hundreds of examples of companies that are ranked #1 and they have not even claimed their site.  They are outranking listings that are claimed, 100% filled out, have no inappropriate content, tons of reviews, and citations from 100's of sources.  This is hard to understand, Google!  Surely you can change your algo back to more like 2010 when ranking seemed to correlate to claiming, getting reviews, etc.

Here is an unclaimed place with no reviews.  Note below how he ranks above the claimed listing with great reviews.

Do you agree?  Or am I overreacting?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Optimize Google Places 2012 - A List of Suggestions for Google - Part 1 - Content???

Here is the first of my Suggestions for Google Places for 2012.  These guys have all the money and some of the smartest folks on the planet working for them.  I totally appreciate that the undertaking of becoming a world wide Yellow Pages for every business in the world is daunting.  I also want to give Google Places credit for having made some excellent changes in 2011.  But it just seems like some of the following would be obvious.  If you want to follow the list over the next few days or weeks, be sure to subscribe.

Number One:  I thought that the key to everything about Google was "content is king."  If content is the key to search, why is Google Places paying less and less attention to the supplied content of the business owners?  How hard would it be to add this to the interface?  Why do business owners and consultants even both to add all the great stuff in the detail section if it isn't going to have any visibility?

In a similar vein, why is the description limited to 200 characters?  Between Title Tags, Twitter, and the description on Google Places, I feel like I'm back in high school doing Haiku.

And shouldn't the content supplied by the owner be a major influencer on where the listing can be found?  In fact, it would seem that descriptions and details would be a stronger signal than the categories which require another convoluted and consternating method for assigning relevant information about a "place."

So Google Places.  Any chance of making content a driver of this tool?

If you have idea for how Google could change, improve, evolve, share them here.  If you think I'm write or wrong or redic, don't hesitate to share you comments.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Secrets to Optimizing Your Google Places Listing in 2012 - No Errors

 You read all my advice on Optimizing your Google Places Listing on this blog.  You've read other commentator on the proper way to set up your Google Places Listing.  You've watched my videos and other folks videos, but you're still not on page 1.  Or you're not as high on page 1 as you want to be.  It is very likely not something you are failing to do, but something you have done wrong.

We have been offering the $100 look under the hood for about a year now.  This is where we take a quick look at your listing and your position and your website and make sure you aren't doing something wrong.  I can tell you for sure:  You are doing something wrong.  It might be minor.  It might be major.  But it is hurting your ranking now, and it may hurt you more in the future.

Most of the mistakes have to do with consistent NAP (name address phone number) over all your web presence, but it could be something as simple as the way you describe yourself in the listing document. 

How you will know you are doing something wrong.  Make changes one at a time.  See if there is any change in status.  Look at everything with fresh eyes.  Or hire us for $100.  :  )

Monday, December 12, 2011

Secrets to Optimizing Your Google Places Listing in 2012 - Everything Matters

The competition for Google Places Ranking is getting fierce.  The rules of optimizing your Google Places Listing are getting more and more obtuse.  What in the world is a poor local business owner to do?

Well, not just make things bigger or use highlighting.  That's for sure.  But over the next month I will post the top things you can do, and while time consuming, frustrating, and not 100% certain, if you consistently do these things, you will gain in the rankings. 

#1.  Everything means everything.  Your Google Places Listing is blended with your website and this combination shows up on the "Everything" pages of your search.  In case you haven't noticed, Google has changed the layout of their search page AGAIN!  There is no longer a black bar across the top.  The Menu of possible searches is under the word SEARCH, and the top search is called the "Everything" search.  This is also the default.  You would guess correctly if you said that almost everybody searches using the default search unless they don't find what they want.  And even then, they are more likely to try other default or "everything" searches than they are to try news or blogs or Places. 

Therefore, this everything search is actually the one you care about.  For some very strange reason, you have two ways you may show up on this page.  First and best is as a blended Places result where your Places listing and your website are showing and look for all the world like a Places listing only.  The arrows to the right of your listing when clicked will provide a large thumbnail of your home page of your website.  If you are using flash or unreadable stuff on your home page, it may be black or look really ugly.

Even if your Places listing doesn't show up, your website might.  Generally this will be below the Places listings. To make matters more interesting, in some categories you will not get Places listings with only the city as a modifier, but you will if you add the state.  Go figure!

So, about ranking.  Your website ranking is CRITICAL now.  Make sure your website (the one you are listing on your Google Places set up page is fully optimized, had tons of back links, etc.  In my opinion, your website ranking is now the number one determiner of Google Places and Everything ranking.  This actually makes sense, but it also makes it harder and more expensive than in previous years when such things as city center or number of reviews seemed supreme. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Number One Google Places Optimization Video From Randy Kirk

We have now produce dozens of YouTube videos designed to help you optimize Google Places for your local businesss.  You may prefer to have us do your search engine marketing, which would include the best possible listing for Google Places, but if you choose the DIY route, you will not find a more complete or focused website on the internet for that purpose than this blog. 

Out of all the videos, one has been hands down the winner in total views.  And it is probably fitting that the video about the NAME of your business is number 1.  When we are selected to do the marketing for a new client, we almost always have an immediate discussion about the name of the company.  The reason to name a company one thing or another is always changing.  Calling your company AAA Locksmith is no longer critical when the print Yellow Pages is so inconsequential.  Today the issue for locksmiths and bike shops and lawyers is getting found by Google Search.  So choosing your name in a way that benefits you in ranking high on search is part of your business decision.

Here is the number 1 video on Google Places Optimization.