Monday, July 30, 2012

Video Series on Google Plus Local Business Optimization

Google Plus Local Business and Google Places Are or Are Very Close to Fully Merged.  How Do You Optimize the New Google Local?

This blog is dedicated to providing you with clear, detailed, DIY instructions for getting highly ranked on Google Places, and now Google Plus Local.  Earlier I wrote on the 10 most important steps you should take to optimize your business on Google.  For those who would rather see a detailed analysis on video than read the information, here is the first in that series.  As such, it is the most important and critical strategic information for getting your phone to ring through positioning yourself on Google. 

Was this video helpful?  Do you have questions?  Please use the comment field.  You may want to subscribe to my video channel or to this blog to stay on top of the ever changing issues on Google.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Google Plus Local Business Expert On the Importance of Goals

When you start out to Optimize Your Google Plus Local Business Listing, Start with the End in Mind

We know it in our knower, but as marketers it is easy to forget.  Every marketing decision is going to cost time and treasure.  That time and treasure has many pulls on it, and not just within the marketing department.  Any time spent on finding the secrets to ranking on page 1 for Google Places or optimizing the effort on google Plus Local Business is time that could be spent with clients, employees, or, what a concept, family and friends.  

So what do we marketers forget?  Any serious analysis or review of goals.  Most entrepreneurs that I work with don't have clear goals laid out for their personal or business lives.  Assuming they do have business goals, they rarely have detailed goals for growth or profits or how to determine priorities.  Of course, just by stating that, it becomes obvious that my own personal observation of how decisions are made week-to-week or month-to-month within the context of companies having goals is almost non-existent.

Given this reality, most small business owners would do well to start at the beginning and think clearly about what they want for themselves and their family in general, and from and for the business.  If you'd like to consider that idea, please read the first of my new series: 101 Marketing Secrets from a Serial Entrepreneur one of my other blogs,

Whether or not you have goals for the business or even for the marketing aspect, you should truly stop before you begin any new marketing effort.  And given the importance, complexity and difficulty of Google Places Optimization and Google Plus Local Business Listings, being clear on the goal may be the most important thing you do.

What might such a goal set look like?
  1. In our business, we consider a high ranking on Google Places to be equal to or more important than any other online effort, and about as critical as our email blast campaign in terms of ROI.
  2. We must rank in the top 3 for Google Places under our top 3 keywords
  3. We should rank in the top 7 for Google Places under our top 10 keywords
  4. Our own city and zip is the most important, but half of our cost should be devoted to surrounding cities, in particular, Lincoln.
  5. With an overall marketing budget of $3000 a month, we can afford $900 a month for this effort (Or about what our Yellow Page expense used to be).
  6. With about 8 hours a week to devote to all marketing efforts, we can devote about 2.
  7. The social aspect of Google+ Local needs to be addressed.  We should immediately devote ten hours and $200 to study what our goals and objectives should be.
  8. Goals should be met within six month
With a goal set like this you are now able to wisely make decisions about what to do in house, and what to find suppliers to help with.  You are also able to measure results which will help to determine if the methods you are using are working or need to be changed.  Of course, often the goals also need to be reviewed and changed.

Does this help you think about how to prepare for a new campaign?  What methods do you use that might help others be better at setting goals?

Our next post will cover the strategies that might arise out of this goal set.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Profit and Loss Should Be Your #1 Concern

In Business, the Bottom Line Should be The Bottom Line - Are You Making a Profit?

This blog is dedicated to all things Google Local.  And believe me when I tell you that many businesses today rightly focus a lot of attention on Google Local, whether Google Places, Google+ Local Business, or Google Maps.

But step back for just a minute.  As I close in on 500 clients served, and another 2000 or so that I have consulted briefly on the phone, there is this notion that needs to be addressed.  Great stats on Google is not why you are in business.  You are in business to serve others which should result in them coming back and sending their friends.  And this should be done in a way that results in profits.  If not, why do it?

Profit Is Far and Away the Most Important Marketing Secret - Ask Your Wife and Banker

A prospective client calls a while back: "I'm trying to decide whether or not to keep my business open.  My wife is getting tired of supporting my hobby."

When we discuss the subject of Marketing, most business owners and their employees, managers, and even customers probably think things like advertising, store layout, packaging, product design, or distribution channels.  And the very astute would add distribution channels. It is the rare business owner or manager who  counts profit and it's negative twin, loss, as part of marketing.  But unless we make a profit, all of the good intentions, products, customer service, and promotion is eventually going to result in the doors being shuttered.  Then no one, not customers, employees, the community, or your family gets the benefit of all the good things you've done.

Have you seen your profit and loss statement lately?  Ever?  Do you know how to read it?  Do you understand how to analyze that P & L and optimize your business based on the information contained in that document?  Have you done regular inventories so that the P & L is accurate enough to provide you good data?  Do you take or give money off books so that you can't actually know the true results?

Are You Maximizing the Profit from Current Sales?

Recently I worked with a service business that was doing almost $500,000 in sales.  The owner was breaking even.  In two minutes I was able to tell her what needed to be done.  Two years later, after taking no salary and no profit for her work, she decided to take my directions to heart.  The company now yields $6000 a month in profit, and should move to about $9000.  Does your company have a gold mine just waiting to be taken to the bank?  Many, many companies do.

I recently wrote an article for Bicycle Dealer Magazine that laid out how a brick and mortar retailer should be able to take home $100,000 on sales of $800,000 (Email me if you'd like to see a copy of this article.  Most retailers would be astounded by the assertion, and the truth is some retailers should do even better than that. 

 Definition of Profit - Gross Sales - COG's - Overhead

Profit is loosely defined as gross income less cost of goods and overhead.  Any analysis starts with the cost of goods.  What does it cost you to deliver the product or service to your client.  Is your cost of goods average or better for your industry?  Should you be buying better.  5% less cost on $500,000 in purchases is $25,000 a year.  Buying better might be worth some time and attention.

Selling price is another big issue.  Are you discounting too much?  Are you selling too many low margin items and not pushing higher margin items out with the sale.  Are your service employees paying their weight.  In most cases you should be paying service workers 1/3 of the gross income from their effort.

If the cost of goods is in line, attack the overhead.  Take it line by line and wonder aloud if you could eliminate that cost if it was necessary to save your business from bankruptcy.  A consultant once helped me cut $175,000 in overhead per year that was all essential in my mind.

I have put together the first 30 marketing tips of 101 that I will eventually write on.  These can be found in a post titled: 

30 Foundational Elements to Small Business Marketing - Secrets from a Serial Entrepreneur

Please Tweet, +1, Like or otherwise spread the news to your fellow business owners about this blog.

You also might want to catch my new video series on Google Search Engine Optimization

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Critical Ranking Factors for Google Search - Video

Google+ Local Business and Google Places Are Very Important, but Which Google Search Engine Really Matters - Video

If you are a small business owner or a consultant to small business owners, you want to spend your energy and even your cash as effectively and efficiently as possible.  When it comes to internet visibility, you have many choices of places to be seen, just Google Places and Google+ Local Business.  What is the most important place to plant your seeds.

This video gives you my answer.  I'd love to know if you disagree.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Google+ Now on Hootsuite

The Useability of Google+ for Small Business Improves with Hootsuite

I woke up this morning and the very first thing I looked forward to doing was jumping on each social media channel and doing my updates - NOT!  And I'm a writer. 

In the four years that I have been helping small businesses to add sales and profits through marketing, I have been involved with well over 200 clients.  Out of those 200, I might have had 10 who were, or are, actively creating content in one or another online channel.  For the rest, if they are going to have any current media at all, it will be done by us. 

So, as of March, most companies would have been happy to have some Facebook activity, even though they didn't know if it created any ROI.  Some also thought it would be nice to have Twitter going on.  Almost all understood the benefits of blogging.  Linked In not so much, unless they needed to hire or they were in the professions.  And all of my clients get the benefits of YouTube, but none would be creating their own.

The world has changed since March.  Now we have Google+ and Pinterest to contend with.  Oh, you say, these have been around for a year.  Why March?  Since March, both of these media channels have exploded in users and fans.  Google+ for the men, and Pinterest for the women.  And recent studies show that the men are starting to get Pinterest. 

So what is a small business owner to do?  You can't spend hours a day creating great content for all of these sites.  There are ways to streamline your work, and while there are many tools like Hootsuite on the market, only Hootsuite is now hooked to Google+, arguably the second most important social media channel today. 

Through Hootsuite you can create your content all in one place, then schedule it for later publication.  Since Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and Google+ content rapidly disappears, all social media marketers recommend that you repeat that content at various times of the day and during the week.
With Hootsuite, you can do just that.  It is tedius and not fun, but it is fast, therefore efficient.  If you are creating the content, you might want to train an inexpensive helper to actually upload and schedule the content to go out. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Google Places Address Change, Phone Number Change, Name Change

What Is the Process You Need to Follow for Any Change to Your Name, Address or Phone Number as These Changes Impact Google Places and Google+ Local Business

If you have decided to change any aspect of your NAP (name, address, phone), you need to make sure that you tell more than just your customers.  You need to let Google know, and this can be a daunting task. 

Google Places and your NAP

Google Places and the sisters at Google+ Local and Google Maps need accurate information in their listings, but also elsewhere on the internet.  Therefore, when you make a change to any aspect of your NAP, you have to quickly change the information everywhere on the web.

Start with the sites you own.  Websites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Pinterest, YouTube Channel, and anywhere else you can think of that you have created a profile.

Then change your information on the dirty dozen.  Yahoo, Bing, City Search, Yelp, LocalEze, AolYellow, YellowPages, Superpages, HotFrog, Insider Pages, etc.

After you have completed these, search your company name with and without " " quotation marks, and see if there are other obvious places where you are listed.  Make these changes.

Now search for your old phone number and see what shows up.  Do the same with your old address.

This should provide enough of a base for Google.  Now go to your Google Places listing and make the change there.  Minor name changes will likely just be allowed.  Major name changes may require a phone verification.  Address changes may require a phone or post card verification.  Phone number changes commonly require a phone confirmation. 

It is best to try and do all of these changes within a very short period of time.  You don't want the Google Bot to be checking around and getting confused.  You might get a drop in rank. 

Give all of this a week to gel.  Now do a more in depth search for your old company name,  old company address, and old company phone number to see if they are still popping up.  After this second review, you should be ok. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pinterest - Google+ Local Business, Google Places, and Pinterest

How to Use Pinterest to Improve Google Places Ranking

The minute I laid eyes on Pinterest I knew it would be a huge hit.  And the eyes are the reason.  Pinterest is visually compelling on the laptop or tablet screen.  You can see a bunch of options above the fold with Pinterest compared to a blog, facebook, or even Google+.  Repinning is way more fun than liking, +1ing, retweeting, or any of the other options out there.  Result, Pinterest is growing like crazy and taking away market share from Facebook. 

Home Remodel Dallas Pinterest Site
Here is an example of a Pinterest Site we created for our Home Remodeling Client in Dallas
How does Pinterest effect the world of Google local business and the relevant tools of google+ Local, Google Places and Google Maps?  It is one more place for Google to see that you are serious and important in your little part of the universe.  Everything you do on pinterest is similar to what you might do on a blog or other social media.  Pictures have links, and as visitors repin your pictures, the link is now on their pinterest page.  With the ease of this process, you can spread your seed far and wide in no time at all if your content is compelling. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Google+ Local or Google Maps or Google Places or Google Web Optmiization

One Stop Shopping for Optimizing Your Google Business Listings Including:  Google+ Local, Google Maps, Google Places, and Google Web Search

$39 a month for life and we will get you on Google Page 1.  Included in our package:
  • We will set up all information under our accounts so we can keep control
  • We will take down what we put up if you stop doing business with us
  • We will say that everything we do for you is proprietary and never share methods
  • When we get you on page 1 for the promised keywords, it might not result in more business, just a nice screen shot showing you that we have done as promised
  • The $39 a month might be just a teaser
  • Some of what we do may be black hat and you could be suspended by Google or worse
Most of the calls I get from local business owners start off with a pained plea for help.  They have seen my videos or my blog, and they figure I might be able to help them regain their previous high ranking, or they have had multiple bad experience with so called experts.  Commonly, they want to pay me some minimum amount based on what they have seen in the ads, and expect me to right all the wrongs.

The guy who answers the phone
We do things very differently.  Want proof.  Do a Google Search for Google Places Expert, or Google Local Expert or Google Places Optimization.  Anyone who says they are an expert in SEO should be on the first page for those search terms.  You will find press releases, blog posts, and YouTube videos created by my company on all three searches.  Sometimes twice.  Sometimes first on the page...or second.

What really sets us apart:
  1. We don't recommend you rely only on Google Places or Google Maps or Google+ Local
  2. We do recommend that you have tons of content of various kinds so that you dominate lots of keywords, both long and short
  3. We create that content, and it doesn't go away ever.  Our clients have Youtube videos that still produce for them, and that are four years old.
  4. The content and everything we do for you is placed on accounts owned an controlled by you
  5. We create a Google Doc that lists all your accounts, id's and passwords.  You share that Google Doc.  It is yours for reference no matter what.
  6. Our methods are designed with one goal.  More profit for your company.  We'll send you screen shots of your placement online, all kinds of charts and graphs, but we use these to help both of us figure out how to be more effective at getting CUSTOMERS and CLIENTS to spend money with you.
  7. We are not limited to Web based marketing.  We are a marketing consulting firm with years of experience in print, trade shows, event management, promotions, advertising specialties, radio, and more.  
  8. We are more than an SEO and advertising agency.  We can help you with signage, interior layout and design, product development, branding, logos, distribution channels, import, export, product launches, sales training and more.
  9. We don't keep our methods a secret.  We have tutorials on all what we do, and we will share almost any of it with you.
  10. We do the work that a $3000 a month consultant would do for under $900 a month. 
  11. We have no contracts.  You can stop anytime with a week or so notice (courtesy)   
 If our different way of doing business sounds appealing to you, we will be happy to send you many samples of our work, a long list of references, plenty of testimonials. 

Oh.  Did I mention.  When you call 310-910-1848, I answer the phone.  Now that is different!!

Randy Kirk

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Google+ Local Black Hat - Don't Do It! Number 10 Ranking Factor

Number 10 of 10 Google+ Ranking Factors and Google Places Ranking Factors - No Black Hat Ever

"What is black hat?" is a question that I get asked on occasion. But most who ask are really asking for a general definition, being novice in the SEO world enough that they haven't really heard the term at all.

For those who've been doing SEO for a while, and who know the general definition, most know in their knower what is and isn't black hat.  But as a ex-Missouri resident and a current California resident, I know a Missouri or California "roll" when I see it at the 4 way stop.  And those that do the roll know who they are. 

Why shouldn't you do black hat?  After all, you know somebody who used black hat and got a number one ranking in 13 seconds.  Check with them again in 90 days.  I've seen it all in my almost 20 years of internet SEO work.  The best black hat scams work for three or four months and then you can kiss your account good bye.

But just for giggles, let's run down the biggest offenders in the Google Places black hat no-no list.
    ✓    Do not add a bunch of keywords and city names to your company name
    ✓    Never use a fake address that you do not have a right to use
    ✓    Don't use a P.O. box or a UPS box as an address
    ✓    Don't use any geographic keywords in your categories
    ✓    Don't keyword spam your description
    ✓    Don't violate the general keyword density rules in any of your online sites
    ✓    NEW!  Don't spam your back links
    ✓    Don't use little tiny words or invisible words (dark gray on black) anywhere
    ✓    Don't put up phony reviews on your review sites
    ✓    Don't put up negative reviews on your competitor's review sites

I'm sure there are more that I'm not thinking of at the moment.  Please feel free to add some in the comments.

Top 10 Ranking Factors for Google Local July 2012 - Keywords

Category and Geographic Keywords Placement #9 of 10 Top Ranking Factors for Google+ Local and Google Places

Missing from my top ten is "address near city centroid."  I know this matters, but feel that it is unlikely that many businesses will move to accomplish the benefit, which could as easily disappear next week.  However, overcoming the specific address issue is a time honored way to improve rankings in the critical cities you care about. 

You want the primary category keyword and the most critical city name to appear in as many of the following places as possible.

Associated Website
  •     URL - or or or etc.
  •     Title tag - Trusted Chicago Bankruptcy Attorney | Individuals | Corp | 312-555-5555
  •     Headline - Chicago Bankruptcy Lawyer - 35 Years Serving Individuals and Companies
  •     Use the term 5 or so times in the content of 5 or more paragraphs of content
  •     Internal links - Link the word Chicago to an internal page about Chicago
  •     Footer - Chicago Bankruptcy Attorney | Cook County Bankruptcy Attorney | Chapter 11 Bankruptcy lawyer in Chicago | Chapter 13  etc.
  •     NAP - Name, address, phone number block.  At least one
Google Places and Plus
  •     Reviews - Ask your reviewers to include your category keywords and geographic keywords in their reviews.
  •     Google+ Page - Make at least a few mentions of these same keywords on the static content

Off Site
  •     Back links - Have incoming back links that use these terms as anchor text.
  •     Citations - Get local citations from directories.  Do a search for Chicago directories

If you are located in a suburb or adjoining city to the major population center, and you want to be found in that other city, and you don't want to move, then all of the above should be pointed at that city.  Use terms like lawyer near chicago or chicago area attorney. 

Side note - Google seems to be gunning for faux or virtual offices.  Latest statement is that any claimed Place that you show on your listing must have a sign designating that you have a true Place.  If you designate that the address is not a place where customers visit, then it is less clear how Google will deal with the location.  Unclear if this will be enforced, but we do know they are doing location video now, not just from the car or plane, but on foot.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Ranking on Google+ Local & Google Places - #8 Claim Your Listing

Google Places Listing Claimed or Verified - #8 Factor in Ranking for Google+ Local and Google Places Page

As I've been working on this new July 2012 Google+ Local ranking factor list, I have become more and more amazed at how Google manages to be the overlord of so much of the internet while simultaneously being the most confusing entity in any business environment.  With regard to the unfortunate local business owner who is trying to get found on a Google search and whose revenue and livelihood require that he be found, he is faced with the following:

Google Everything Search - Must be here.  But as a blended search, depending on the keywords that are being searched, the company might best get a high ranking as a website, places listing, blog or blog post, video, press release, article, or as a listing on a yellow page or other directory.
Depending on the keywords there may or may not be a "Places" listing at all on Everything Search.

Specific Google Searches such as Places, Maps, Blogs, or News - Certainly need to be on Places and Maps.  Some consumers do go to these two as search tools.

Google+ Local - Currently only accessible from within Google+ dashboard - A business owner will show up here if he is has a Places listing or a Google+ Page.

Google Places - Still the name of the search engine on the Google Search page.  Ranking system here seems to be about the same as it has been since April 2012.  You can claim and alter the content through the Google Places tool and dashboard.  No one is quite sure how long this will be true.

Google Maps - A different search on Google Search for consumers to find you.  Content slightly different than places, and some of that content can be changed by anyone. 

Sorry for the rant.  Your ranking on Google+ Local, Google Places, Maps, and any Google Places results that show on the Everything Search are effected by all the ten things we are covering in this series.  One of those ranking factors is the claiming of your Google Places listing.  This can be done as follows:

Claim your listing on Google+ Local which for these purposes is still the same as Google Places

    •    Access the Google Account that you wish to use as your business account.  This will generally be a different account than any personal account or separate business account.
    •    Go to and click the Get Started Now button.  Follow the instructions and fill out as much of the information as possible, following the methods described in great detail on this blog.
    •    You may be offered an option to claim you listing by verifying the telephone number.  In many, if not most cases, you will be sent a postcard with a code that you will use for verification.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Choosing Your Google+ Local - Google Places - Google Maps Categorie - #7 Out of Ten Top Ranking Practices

Ten Best Practices for Setting Up Google+ Local aka Google Places Listings to Maximize Ranking

Everything search shows Places Listing under short tail
We have now reached Number seven of our most important rules for high rankings on Google Places and/or Google+ Local:  Determining which categories to pick when you create the listing.  Don't trust your own judgement for this.  You must carefully evaluate the choices.  You may consider yourself to be a bicycle retailer, but if no one looks for that, and everyone is looking for bike shop, you want to be sure you list bike shop. 

I have already created a lengthy post on how to select a Google Places category.  I just checked and it is still correct in every aspect.  A quick recap.
    ▪    User your Google keyword tool to find the best categories
    ▪    Use the Google search bar.  Try different words and see what they suggest
    ▪    Make sure that there are Google Places results for that category in the Everything Search

This last one bears a bit more direction.  Google is forever changing the Everything results.  Last year they had a big push to mix up the media.  So you saw a lot of videos, press releases and articles showing up on page 1.  You still see some, but not as much as last year. 

After the major changes in 2012, you now see that many "long tail" local business categories are no longer showing any "Places" results in the Everything search.  So where last year you would likely have had Places results for Amana Washer Repair and certainly for Amana repair, this year there is none.  These categories will show up if you go to the Places Search.  Therefore it bears rechecking your categories in light of this tightening of listings.  Remember the Everything search is still by far the most critical search.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Top Ten Ranking Factors for Google+ Local, Google Places - NAP Continuity Across the WebYC

Company Name, Address, and Phone Number Must be the Same Everywhere - Google+ Local Ranking

In my 40+ years in business, I can't ever remember a time when people were confused about the name, address, and phone number (NAP) of their business.  For better or worse, many, many businesses have felt the need to fudge on their names and addresses in order to gin up rankings on the net.  The result of pushing envelopes has often led to confusion by companies as they post various names and addresses even within their own website. 

Google, the kingpin of search, looks at a phone number as being like the company's social security number.  They prefer local companies to identify using a local number, and they see every address as a place, not your place, just a place.  They surprisingly believe that your company name should be the same name that appears on your business license, corporate records, and tax return. 

It is legal and reasonable to also have a dba (doing business as) associated with a corporation, a proprietorship, or partnership.  But a dba should be filed, and then activities of the dba should be consistently reported as such with invoicing, purchasing, and other transactions for that dba being under the name of that dba. 

I have stated elsewhere that deciding to change your company name may be an excellent idea, and I've even suggested you could get away with a slight modification to your name to include a keyword.  However, I have always further stated that it would be far better to make the change legal. 

Now, the real meat and potatoes of this post is that you need whatever name address and phone number you use to be absolutely the same everywhere.  Obviously if you have multiple locations, you will have multiple addresses and potentially multiple phone numbers.  Each location that you hope to rank well on Google Places or Google+ Local will need to have its own listing, and there will need to be citations supporting that location with the identical NAP.  Identical means that even things like abbreviations like St will always be in that form, not sometimes St. and sometimes Street. 

Within your website, it needs to always be the same.  Don't abbreviate the name of the business in the text. 

It is entirely possible that others will list your NAP incorrectly or use an old version, and that these versions will circulate for months or even years.  Do a search for your name and see what comes up.  Do a search for your phone number and see what the results look like.  You might also want to do a search for old NAP's or old variations.  If you find incorrect versions, get them changed. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ten Top Ranking Factors for Google+ Local - Number Five

Google+ Local Top Ten Ranking Factors - Number Five Is the Associated Website

If you haven't been following along, you can easily check out the first four basics for Optimizing your Google+ Local rankings by merely scrolling down on the page of  The first four are:

1.  The Everything Page is still the most important search on Google - Not Google Places
2.  Excellent quality, unique, and relevant content is still king - Forget black hat back links
3.  Citations always have been and continue to be a major factor in ranking
4.  Reviews are important for ranking and for conversion

Which brings us to number five.  Every bit of content that you have created online that contains your business name, address, or phone number is potentially going to tie back to your Google+ Local listing.  The bot will find you out.  However, you will specifically determine the most important online content for Google to review in determining how to rank you when you list your "website" on the listing form.

That "website" can be many things, and the most obvious would be your home page.  Most of this post will assume that your home page is what you list on Google+ Local, as that is the case for the vast majority of companies. 

However, I use this blog as my "website," and at least one of my clients uses their blogger blog as their "website."  Our blogs get more traffic than our websites, and they are updated very frequently.  My blog is older than my website, and I actually don't do much work on my website. 

Some folks also use their listing on another search engine or Yellow Pages or Directory as their "website."  It has been argued that this might actually result in better rankings than the website, as the power of the channel is so huge.  I would only recommend this approach if your website and blog are either non existent or really not very good at all.

You might also use an internal page or landing page within your website.  This might take the form of  The most useful reason for this approach is if you have multiple locations and have set up geo specific landing pages that are heavily key worded for the specific geographic city, zip, region, or county.

Go to to see full example
After that rather lengthy introduction, the original question for this post:  what elemenets of your website matter to the Goog bot used by Google+ Local to determine your rank?

    1.    URL - would be excellent.  Any variation such as BestChicagoBakery or BakeryChicago or Chicago-Bakery or JoesChicagoBakery will work best.
    2.    Title Tag - Show the category keywords and geo keywords in the Title.  Don't use more than 64 characters or you will be truncated, and some believe that you will also lose juice.
    3.    H1 Headline - Repeat your critical keywords in the H1 and or H2 headlines.  Make these large and bold
    4.    Page content.  This is not the place for SEO 101, but use the keywords and geo keywords appropriately often in your text on the page.  Links to internal pages on these.
    5.    Footer.  Create a footer of 50 words that includes variations of your keywords and geo info.
    6.    Google Map on the page
    7.    NAP on the page
    8.    The entire website should be registered with Google Webmaster Tools and a site map downloaded there
    9.    Great, unique, relevant content throughout the website, but especially on the page your designate as your "website" in Google+ Local listing
    10.    Google+, +1, and other Google widgets, gadgets and tools on the page can't hurt.

DId I leave out anything?  Leave a comment if I missed something here.  This is a complicated and changing area.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Partly Personal - My Emergency App Gets First Review

In the second week since launch of our new app, My Emergency App, we have had a very nice
review from an iPhone Mommy blog.
My Emergency App has a great idea. It takes the emergency numbers for 911, your local fire, police, hospital, poison control, etc. and stores them in one convenient location. Each category has its own icon so you open up the app, quickly find what you need, give it a tap and the number is there at your fingertips. There are also icons for your personal emergency contacts and you can enter in information for those people. The app will store the information and should you need it you’ll find it there later. Now this is all very convenient but where the app comes in very handy is that it pulls in other local emergency numbers based on your geographical location. You’ll find the information for urgent care centers, pet hospitals, dentists, locksmiths, tow services and more. All of this information is stored in this one app so if you find yourself in any type of emergency situation it’s conceivable the answer could very well be in the My Emergency App.
We are quite grateful for her review.  Please let your friends know about our app, which is free in the App Store, iTunes, and the Google Play Market.  Go to our website at http;// for easy links.

If you have a friend or client who fit one of our emergency service provider categories, you may want to let them know about the app for the purposes of advertising:

Glass Repair
Towing Services
Urgent Care
Emergency Hospital
Appliance Repair
24 Hour Vet or Animal Hospital
Dental Emergency

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Google+ Local Basics 4/10 - Reviews Will Always Be Critical

Reviews are Number Four out of Ten Top Google+ Local Optimization Tips You Can Count On

Top listing is now Google+ Local.  Bottom Listing not Merged
just listened to Matt Cutts of Google for an hour in a Google Hangout.  He said it again.  The basics are the basics.  Good quality, original content.  Reviews are just that.  So how important are reviews now and in the future to your Google+ Local ranking?

Google can't quite seem to decide how many points to award for those SMB's who do a great job of getting reviewed on Google Places/Google+ Local.  A couple of years ago it appeared you could rise or fall based on reviews.  Now there seems to be a couple of milestones that matter: 
    ✓    Any review is better than none
    ✓    Five reviews seems to get you some Google Love
    ✓    Some say it takes 100 reviews before Google adds more points
    ✓    All of this is subject to change at a moment's notice

What we do know about reviews is that they move people to action.  What we also suspect is that Google will come back to using reviews as a strong signal.  There are several reasons for this.
Primary among the reasons is that reviews are unique, relevant, useful content, the very thing that the Goog loves.  Now that the reviews will be coming through Google+, the reviewers can no longer be anonymous, making the content even more likely to be honest, unique, relevant, and useful.  This is even better for the Google business model.

It almost goes without saying that Google is in a battle royal with Yelp to be the #1 business review channel.  They should easily acquire that title with the new Google+ method of acquiring the reviews.  It is both simple and eliminates the complaint all businesses have about fairness in allowing some reviews and not others.  IMHO, the Yelp model is very badly broken and harmful to many businesses. 

As quickly as your Google Places site is merged with Google+ Local, start sending your customers to their own Google+ accounts.  There they can look up your company, the they will see the write a review prompt.   Or they can Google your company on the regular search, map search, or places search.  Once finding you, they can click on your listing.  There they will see the option to review.

You should be pulling out all the stops to get your favorite and happiest customers to review you.  You can do this even if you have not had the merger of Google+ Local and Google Places, and it appears that the reviews are being appropriately transferred.  However, the expectation is that these mergers will all be complete in July, so you might want to wait.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Citations is Number Three of Ten Top Google+ Local Optimization Tips You Can Count On

Google+ Local rankings will use Citations as a major signal.  Count on it!

The first time I remember seeing the power of a citation was early in the days of local search marketing.  My client had a major product line in his small shop.  The major brand had just started adding dealer locators to their site.  This dealer was not on the locator.  We got him added, along with his website (back link bonanza to boot), and his Google Maps Local Business Center listing shot up in rank.

There is no secret that citations are critical to rank.  However, there are many kinds of citations, and each one has their own special place in terms of helpfulness. 

Starting out, lets quickly define a citation.  In the broadest sense, a citation is the company NAP or name, address, and phone number found anywhere on the web.  Assuming that Google or other search engines find that citation and correlate it to your website, Google Places, Google+ Local, or other media or channel that you are hoping to effect, you will get some extra juice.  In particular, the search engine used by Google+ Local will give you more credibility, and therefore rank your listing higher if they find that you are cited elsewhere on the web. 

Getting these citations is neither easy nor cheap.  If you do it yourself, I will estimate that you will spend 30 minutes or longer per citation.  And if you really want to rank your Google Places/Google+ Local listing at the top of a competitive search, you will need 100's of citations.  If you choose to use a company like ours to do these listings for you, obviously there is a cost. For really competitive keywords, you may also need to spend some money to join organizations that provide you with more more credibiliity with Google. 

Local Search Engines - Yahoo and Bing are true local search engines.  So is Google+ Local.  However, they are closely related to the YP's (Yellow Pages), and the major directories such as Yelp, City Search, Insider Pages, and others.   These could all be called local search engines, and I prefer that definition.  In other words, you go to the site, you enter a business type and a city or zip code and the engine serves up businesses that meet those two criteria. 

There are over 200 of these types of citations available to the small business.  Only a rare company will actually go to all 200+ and create a unique and detailed listing.  Our company goes to about 12 of these to create optimized listings.  The rest get the listing from those 12 or from an aggregator.

Some of the companies listed above are happy to sell their information to Google or others.  In addition, several aggregators sell or give the information to all comers.  Examples are Axciom, UBL, and Info USA.  These companies charge a fee for listing you in most cases.

Google themselves has noted two specific citations that they consider to be highly credible:  The BBB and the Chamber of Commerce.  Generally speaking it will cost you $400 a year to be a member of a local BBB, and $400 is also a pretty good estimate of what a chamber will charge you.

Very high in credibility will be a listing of your company in an industry specific directory.  Almost every industry has these type of directories, and in many cases they are .orgs which have even greater cred.  But in addition to the organizations, there may be listing in industry online magazines, blogs, and similar.  As mentioned above, you want to be listed on any dealer locator that your distributors or manufacturers provide.

Also high in benefit to your ranking is to be listed in locally created website directories.  These might be created by local newspapers, TV stations, magazines, or visitor's bureaus. 

Beyond these, there are less valuable places to list your business.  You can find these by using resources like 

As a final note.  Your NAP must be identical in every place you list it.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Marketing Consultants With Plumbers as Clients Should Check Out My Emergency App

If you are a Marketing Consultants with a plumbing company as a client, you should check out My Emergency App

Plumbers need a way to get around the pressure of ranking number 1 on Google!

As a marketing consultant helping small local businesses with SEO, SEM, and other online efforts to improve visibility and traffic, I completely understand the expense and difficult of getting to the top of Google Places, Google Everything Search, Google+ Local, and even PPC.  I also understand that these issues are particularly important for all emergency service providers, including plumbers. 

With the advent of apps, one might think that a plumber could circumvent Google, Yelp, and the rest by having their customers add an app to their phone for the plumber.  Unfortunately, unless you have had a very different experience than I have, consumers are not going to put a plumber app on their phone for the occasional need.  And if they did, it would be buried and forgotten about. 

We have found a way to get that plumber on the front page of the phone app screen.  We do it by compiling all emergency services onto one app called My Emergency App.  As seen on the accompanying screen, the plumber is one of 20 icons on a screen that looks just like the app screen on the phone.  The consumer can add their own personal emergency numbers to four of the locations, where the rest are zip code specific and provide the very best local service providers. 

If you have a plumber for a client, or any of the other eleven on the screen, give us a call at 888-519-9122 or email at

You can also learn more about the opportunity at or by watching a video at