We think Groupon has done some pretty stupid things, but we also think they’ve done some pretty smart things too. For instance, this year they are offering Groupon Gift Cards which we believe is an absolutely brilliant idea and we are not ashamed to say buy them from us.
Whether it’s your own company or a client’s business, having a Google Places page is key to visibility within Google. In 2009, Google was in the deal room with Yelp to purchase the local review site but the deal fell through. A few months ago, Google revealed their own “Yelp-like” product, Hotpot. Google is making a big push into the local market with plenty of attention going to location-based applications (such as Foursquare, Facebook Places) it is important that you are maximizing on your own visibility within the most popular search engine especially now that Google is placing more of an emphasis on local results and blending them with organic search results.
We recently had a chance to hear local search guru, David Mihm discuss the ins and outs of local search that are useful for organizations of any size.
Here are 6 Ways To Get Your Google Places Page to Rank Higher:
Claim your listing if you haven’t. How can you tell if it is claimed? Complete a search in Google Maps, that is the easiest and quickest way to locate your listing. Look in the upper right corner about a quarter of the way down the page (see image below). If your place exists and is not claimed, go through the steps to claim and verify it – then read the rest of this post .
Reviews are more important thank you think(we’ll keep hitting you over the head with this one over and over). Reviews are one of the key factors that can help your ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) as well as the local listing results that show up within the SERP.
Tip: Put together a strategy to get a steady flow of reviews coming in monthly rather than a bunch all at once and then nothing at all. Google likes to see consistency. One way to do this is through your social media outlets. Another thing to do is if you use Groupon or any coupon sites try to capture the emails of those who purchased and follow up with them to have them write a review of their experience. Of course we’d all like positive reviews, but as long as you have a good product and good service you should receive good reviews.
When claiming your business make sure your title is representative of your business- do not stuff it with keywords. You want to use descriptive words. You might be able to get away with one or two keywords depending on your company, but remember the algorithm Google uses for local results is not the same as the one used for organic results.
YouTube video’s may help your rank so if you have them add them to your local listing. Also fill it with images. Tip: To optimize your videos add a caption file to your videos, title and description.
Use the maximum number of description categories available (currently 4), use one default category and then create custom categories for the remaining fields. When creating a custom category try using the statement “my business is a [fill in the blank]” as your format. Do not put any geographical terms in as a category- that’s a big no-no.
Multiple branches and/or specialty divisions with the same address should have individual pages. If your business is a large business with multiple branches or specialties all at the same address and there are more areas than categories, don’t worry you can list them separately. For example, if your business is a hospital with different specialty areas – each one of those specialties can have its own Google Places page as long as each area has a different phone number they can and should be created and listed individually.
A big thanks to David Mihm for his support and sharing this great information with us.
The verification process can sometimes be the most challenging part of setting up your local business listing in search engines. The process can be easy and at the same time difficult for numerous reasons. Below we share with you the various ways to verify your account and what we have often experienced when setting up listings on behalf of our clients during the verification process.
Creating a listing: We recommend you use a general email account with your company domain name. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org. You do not need a gmail account to setup your listing on Google Places. Google prefers you use an email address with the company domain in it as further verification and legitimacy of your listing.
Easy way: phone call. Google will typically place a call within minutes that will give you a PIN number. The PIN number will need to be entered during setup, this is the key step to get your listing verified. We have experienced both never receiving a call and a PIN number left on voicemail. The good news is Google will let you request a PIN again. If this does not work you will ultimately be left without the call option and going the route of the slow way – postcard verification.
Slow way: postcard. You’ll need to keep an eye out for the postcard, it will be small and look like junk mail so be paranoid. This postcard will contain your PIN number. It can take up to 2 weeks to receive the postcard so make sure you have kept your login information handy and in a safe place.
Easy way: phone call. This process is exactly like Google’s except that Bing provides you with the PIN number and you enter it over the phone when they call you (versus receiving the PIN over the phone and entering it online).
Slow way: a letter or postcard will be sent. It takes almost two weeks to receive the letter. It is typically dated just a couple days after you’ve submitted your local listing.
Yahoo! sends an email confirmation as verification of your listing. Keep in mind this email will be sent to the person who is listed as the contact in the contact information you filled in, which should also be a general email address for your company.*
*Keep in mind that Yahoo! is no longer a search engine. Currently they are still maintaining their local listings and offer a basic and an enhanced listing (you pay for it).
With attention surrounding geo-location services (like Foursquare, Gowalla, Groupon) and significant enhancements in local business listings in search engines (Google Places, bing). We wanted to focus on creating a “Local” blog post series featuring helpful ways for businesses to garner further visibility online utilizing these offerings as well as what to be aware of when participating. We’ll focus on local business listings and a few free marketing ideas for you to take advantage of. So, let’s begin.
Setting Up Your Local Business Listing on Search Engines
When doing local search it’s best to start with the big three. While Yahoo!’s search results have now been replaced with bing’s search engine results, many things are still in tact – this includes business listings for local search. For the most part all three search engines (SE) ask for the same information for a business.
We’ve compiled a quick list to help you prepare for setting up a local search account for your organization:
- Business name
- Telephone number (some SE’s allow multiple phone numbers)
- Toll free number (if applies)
- Web site (some SE’s allow multiple websites)
- Email (some SE’s allow multiple emails)
There are a good amount of sections that can be filled out; you want to fill in as much information as you can. Google recently made some big enhancement to how local search results from Google Places appears in their search results and it is highly recommended to fill in as much information as possible to help your results. Make sure to put in everything you can think of that represents your company.
- Description (Google limit is 200 characters)
- Image (logo or any images, great way to incorporate Flickr if client has images there)
- Video (great way to incorporate YouTube if client has videos there)
- Hours (if apply)
- Payment methods (if apply)
- Brands carried or sold by client. Great way to insert keywords that are specific to your client’s products and or services.
- Specialties. Great way to insert keywords that are specific to your client’s products and or services.
- Slogan or tagline.
- Other requests are for professional associations, languages spoken, parking, and more.
There are categories to select that best represent your business. You want to ensure that you select the best choice categories as these may help with your visibility within organic search results. Some of the categories can be hidden and you may have to browse to find what is most appropriate to make sure you aren’t missing any. Some SE’s allow more category entries than others. Try to fill in as many categories as you can, this too will be affected by Google Places search results.
At this point you will want to review all of the choices you have made and all of the information you have entered. Make sure to double and triple check everything as editing in the future may not be as easy as you think. Once you have thoroughly checked all of your information and are happy with your location search entry, proceed to the verification process.
Stay tuned for next week’s post on the details of the verification process and detailed requirements.
Groupon, the popular, online coupon service that launched less than two years ago in Chicago, has become a hit with money conscious consumers. But as it continues to expand to more and more cities including right here in Phoenix, local business owners are discovering the service isn’t without its downsides.
A Local Story
Dana Mule, part owner of Hula’s Modern Tiki at 4700 N. Central Ave., recently participated in a Groupon deal offering $30 of food for $15. The resulting hoard of customers that descended upon Hula’s to take advantage of the 50 percent off deal created havoc for Mule’s restaurant.
“Initially, it was disaster,” said Mule. “Far more people showed than we could accommodate, which made for long wait times … and angry people (which counteracts any benefit you’re supposed to get from this kind of marketing).”
How Groupon Works
The way Groupon works for consumers is relatively simple. Every day, a new local deal is featured on the Groupon homepage, sent to subscribers in a daily email and updated daily on the Groupon iPhone app. If the pre-determined minimum number of people purchases the Groupon within the established time frame, then the deal is active. If the minimum isn’t reached, then the deal is cancelled.
Mule initially decided to take part in Groupon to get additional exposure for his business and to expand his customer base, which are two of the key selling points Groupon uses to attract businesses. But as some experts have pointed out, there can ultimately be a backlash if the discount price ends up taxing a business’s ability to serve its customers, thus eroding their brand.
“The race to the bottom is never the way to get to the top,” said Ellen Malloy in a recent Reuters article regarding the Groupon phenomenon. Malloy promotes high-end restaurants in Chicago and blogs about the topic of discounting for Restaurant Intelligence Agency.
Groupon Threatens Customer Experience
According to Malloy businesses risk a cheapening effect on their brand and that the customer experience can be threatened if an oversubscribed offer ends up producing a short-term spike in demand.
Mule’s own experience with Groupon was uncomfortably akin to Malloy’s cautionary advice.
Groupon provides the business no tools to help manage the number of coupons sold – they up sell you to drive the value of the coupon up (making them more money),” said Mule. “They are not responsive with concerns – the amount of the sell given to the restaurant doesn’t even cover food/liquor cost – and they will not let you put a limit on the total number of Groupons you’d like to sell (we had to beg them to stop it at 1,000).”
After his initial experience with Groupon, Mule said he wouldn’t participate in the service again. He also advised businesses that require appointments, such as salons, to avoid Groupon altogether.
“We’ve talked to other businesses where they had sold so many Groupons that those were to only appointments they could accommodate for months, allowing them to take no additional new clients who would more likely become repeat customers,” he said.
Thanks to Tony Sirois for providing a helpful and quick tip post from information gathered at SMX Local & Mobile in San Francisco.
My hope for all the companies who rely on local business find this post. While we include this in Liberty Interactive’s Internet Marketing services for SEO and PPC, and as I say time and time again, please be proactive in the success of your company online.