Articles Tagged with Google My Business

The 1-Star Sucker-punch – Dropping the Ball on Online Reviews

Seeing stars imageAs SEOs we often have our focuses and our biases: our remit is to help improve clients’ visibility in search engines, after all.

However when working with SMEs in particular, you might be their go-to guy/girl for all their online marketing questions – not just SEO. I always try to offer help and advice on other areas if I can – such as social media and UX – but ultimately some things slip through the cracks. This post is an example where giving the client too much a focus can actually be a bad thing… They may perform one task really well, but then struggle to adjust strategy when it matters…

One of my clients has a big focus is on Local SEO: boosting the Map listing. If you Google “[keyword] [location]” keywords then oftentimes a Google Map shows up. And a big factor of that is getting positive Google reviews against the listing. We do pretty well all things considered, especially given that they’re not based in Cardiff city centre and instead operate on the edge of the city.

I did all the right stuff: I told them who was best to contact (happy clients) as well as the optimum time to contact them (just after a project had finished). I gave them an adaptable email template to use, containing info for the clients on how to leave a review and the appropriate links to the listing, etc. Over time, they hit the (ideal) minimum of five reviews and just kept going and going, eventually hitting more than ten 5-star reviews.

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A Small Change in a Big World… My First Edit on Google Maps

(This may seem a lame and OTT post, but y’know what? It’s my blog and I can write what I want and I don’t care la-la-la I’m not listening to you…)

Google Map pin badgesWorking in SEO and PPC, a lot of what I do revolves around Google. Be that as it may, I’m usually the first to have a moan about them, as anyone who’s ever spent five minutes reading my tweets can most likely attest to. Usually it’s because I just get annoyed that their Help sections aren’t helpful or their UX isn’t up to scratch, and business owners are the ones who end up suffering as a result.

But let’s face it. Where would we be without Google? How handy is Gmail? And when you’re figuring out where to go, how much do you rely on Google Maps?

Doing a lot of ‘Local SEO’ for clients, i.e. the process of optimising a Google My Business listing (formerly/also known as Google Places, Google+ Local and about 50 other things…), I recently had to sort out a fundamental issue with Google Maps causing one of my clients a bit of grief. Google were adamant that their address – let’s say “101 High Street” – was 100 yards down the road and on the other side of the road, so they thought that our map marker/pin location suggestion (the actual location) was inaccurate. The only way to fix it was to delve into Google Map Maker and make the change myself. Once it was done, they started to rank really well not long after.

I’d never really touched Map Maker before that, and to be honest, I didn’t realise that Google took user data into such strong consideration. I made a few Local SEO-related tweaks to help out a client, but nothing ‘proper’, if you get me.

…Until I noticed some woods near my house were missing a footpath…

Map Maker edit screenshot
(Click to enlarge)

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How I Removed A Slanderous Google Review – A Case Study (2013)

* Important intro note * – Originally the title of this post was “How To Remove Slanderous Google Reviews,” because – at the time (March 2013) – following these steps (especially #4, country-depending) would work well to remove your review. Over the years however, Google have changed their processes, making this post obsolete in some aspects – you’ll see in the comments (especially later ones) that more and more people have said that the steps below haven’t necessarily worked for them. I wanted to keep this post up for reference, but please understand that what’s written here may not 100% correspond with what you need to do these days. I’m actually considering writing a follow-up, as my folks’ business has been hit by another fake bad review (as of October 2015), in which case I’ll update this post with a link to it.

* Regarding contacting me * – I sometimes get people contacting me asking for help with this, especially if they’re struggling. Please understand that if you followed the instructions in this post, there’s really not much more I can do to help I’m afraid. And while you can hire me for SEO work, I don’t offer help on this front on an individual basis. Sorry.

Evil Computer photoEarlier this week, I had to deal with a slanderous review left on my parents’ company’s Google Places (a.k.a. Google+ Local) page. When researching how best to get it deleted, I came across a mishmash of info on a mix of blog posts and forums, which wasn’t very helpful, so I wanted to write about my experiences in getting it sorted.

Surprisingly, Google doesn’t exactly make the process easy. Well, they do, but it’s one of those ‘once you know, you know’ scenarios. And after reading about some horror stories, I wanted to outline how I managed it. So if you’re in a similar boat then I hope this helps you out.

The review’s discovery

Computer Recruiter logoMy parents run an IT recruitment agency called Computer Recruiter. I’d been working from home on the day that we discovered the review, as I was still recovering from an on-going, on-again-off-again illness (more about that in an upcoming blog post by the way), but as my folks are based nearby, they invited me over for lunch. We were talking about recent rankings (as I’ve done a bit of work for them in the past) and we got onto the subject of their Places page. I wanted to show them something on the page, but then we spotted it…

A review, left 3 weeks ago, with a rating of “Poor to Fair.”

Then we actually read the review…

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How To Market Your Live Music Bar Online

Intro from Steve: After my first guest post publication, Mike – who I’ve known on Twitter for a while – asked if he could publish one as well. Given its subject matter, I couldn’t say no. I used to work at a live music bar a lifetime ago (The Musician Pub in Leicester, if you’re ever in the area), so this post struck a chord (oww, sorry!) with me. Enjoy!

Following the Live Music Act 2012 (which allowed venues with a capacity of less than 200 people to put on live music without a license*), it seems a growing number of bars are taking advantage and starting to book live bands. With the growing number of options for live music lovers, how do you stand out and persuade potential punters through your door?

The following tips will help you to stand out against your local competition and dominate the online arena.

*Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-19783855

Get a Google Places Listing

For any local business, a Google Places for Business listing is essential – not only will your business show up in Google Maps enabling people to easily get directions to your premises, but it will also provide searchers with an ‘at-a-glance’ overview of your address, contact details and opening hours direct from the search results page.

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Google Places Beyond Local Searches – What It Means for Small, Local Businesses

Buy Local signYesterday evening, Gareth at Liberty reported that Google had introduced a new look and feel for Google Places. More than just testing, it turns out that these changes have gone live fully, having been dubbed the ‘grey pinned results.’

When I looked into it a bit more this morning, I noticed a potentially bigger, more substantial change: I was finding that Places results were a lot more present in the search results, especially for searches that did not specify a location. In other words, when I searched for something like “it recruitment,” I was seeing a map of Cardiff-based IT recruitment agencies (as I’m based in Cardiff, of course). Notice that I didn’t have to “it recruitment cardiff” to reveal the map – “it recruitment” was enough.

Example of Google Places changes in the SERPs

Although many will argue that this is not a “new” change (as I’ll touch upon later on in this post), I’ve definitely noticed it for keywords – and industries – that have previously been unaffected.

Typically, a search like this would show national results, i.e. the top 10 results for “it recruitment” – typically nationwide agencies, or agencies in the big cities, such as London. In fact, these are still present amongst the Places results, but results local to the searcher are nestled amongst them. And if you consider the fact that recently carried-out testing has shown that Google Places listings are good at catching the searcher’s eye-line and attention, this could be very good news indeed for small, local businesses.

What this means for small businesses

Currently, I’m only seeing these types of results for a handful of keywords and industries. However, if these results become permanent and more wide-spread, then small, local businesses have more chance of getting traffic and enquiries.

The biggest impact will be seen for industries where people may not particularly consider searching locally. For example, according to Google’s own data (via the AdWords Keyword Tool), “it recruitment cardiff” gets about 30 search per month, while the broader, non-location-specific “it recruitment” gets 3,600 – more than 100 times the amount.

Results for [it recruitment] in the Keyword Tool

Admittedly, the latter will be people across the UK, while the former will probably be people in and around Cardiff, but there may be people in Cardiff who are searching for “it recruitment” without actually including the word “cardiff.” If this happens to be 1% of all those “it recruitment” searchers (i.e. 1% of these UK-wide searchers are based in Cardiff), then that’s another 30+ people, and they will now be seeing a map of Cardiff instead of just UK-wide results.

It might even lead to bigger enquiries for a small business. If a big company in Cardiff is looking for an IT recruitment agency, they might just type in “it recruitment.” After all, they might have the budget to afford a big, national or London-based agency – the likes of Hays, etc. A smaller company might type in “it recruitment cardiff” – they might want someone smaller, potentially cheaper and more local to them. With this shift, Cardiff results will have more of a fighting chance in getting noticed and receiving an enquiry from a bigger business.

A major change in search, with a focus on local?

It could even potentially change the way we searching for products and services online and buying them. It was about a year ago when this “huge change” by Google was seemingly intended to “[favour] truly local businesses for queries that are likely to be local in nature.” As Eric Enge argued back then, Google was trying to steer the results based on what the person might want to see – if someone types in “pizza,” do they want something local or something national and informational?

I remember Google testing this quite a bit back then. I remember typing in “car insurance” and seeing a map of Cardiff, which – when you think about it – is absolutely radical. “car insurance” is an industry where people don’t search locally; they just type that in and go to one of the big insurer’s websites or a comparison site. Again, using the Keyword Tool, we can see the difference – except this time it’s 20-30 versus half a million!

Results for [car insurance] in the Keyword Tool

If it comes about again then imagine what it could do for the likes of small, locally-based insurance providers!

What should a small business do?

If you’re a small business and you haven’t claimed your Google Places listing, then do it now. If you can’t do it now, do it ASAP. Seriously, do it, get cracking! Prioritise it! Get it done!

It’s free to set up a Places listing and doesn’t take long, either. You might even have a listing already – it might just be a case of ‘claiming’ and updating it.

Haven’t got the time? SEO and marketing agencies often offer a Google Places Optimisation service, meaning that they will set up listing(s) for your business locations and optimise them on your behalf. (And yes, that may or may not have been a bit of a shameless plug for my employer!)

Just what is Google up to?

It’s an interesting change by Google. Again, it could just be case of them experimenting again, or it could be longer-term.

It might even be an attempt to encourage more businesses to create and claim their listings, which this will no doubt do. As Mike Blumenthal put it, “if users won’t go to Places, bring Places to them.”

Even if it is a bit of a testing phase, or perhaps if a small business owner is reading this and their main industry keywords aren’t showing a map just yet, then it might still be an idea to sort out a Places listing, for future-proofing purposes.

Blimey… honestly – I should be on commission. What do you say, Google?

[Buy Local image credit: Ari Moore. Also, many thanks for Computer Recruiter for letting me use them as my example for this post. Can you guess what they do? You guessed it… IT recruitment in Cardiff!]