411Locals is one of the more aggressive local seo firms in both their pre and post sale tactics, aggressive to the point of absurdity. This recent poster on my blog explains his experience with them. If true it should be illegal but like in the case of the computer repair shop in Phoenix there is no obvious regulatory action or enforcement to prevent this sort of behavior:
I used 411 Locals a year ago for about 3 months. I decided to leave them and they have done their best to ruin my company Image on line. They have changed my listings to several different companies, they have listed me under different company names and used bogus telephone numbers which in turn has mis directed my customers. When I spoke with them they informed me the web is a free domain and they can post what they like. I am 45 years old and been in business for 20 years. I have never seen a company that has the power to alter the outcome of my business income such as this company with absolutely zero regulation. I have now hired an attorney to look over all the info that I have and see if i can legally do any thing about it. They need to be hit with multiple law suits at the same time and force them to pay up for legal services and hit them where it hurts…
And in the ultimate bit of irony, it turns out the 411Locals has joined the Nevada BBB and they have a A rating. Only in America could these two have become partners in crime.
The staff at Local U have been hard at work putting together the Spring conference schedule for Local University. We are particularly excited to announce the first Advanced workshop for SEO professionals and experienced local search marketers that will take place in Seattle on June 7. Never before have so many Local Search experts been in one room at the same time, and it’ll be a great opportunity to pick all of our collective brains to get a leg up on your competition.
We hope to see you at one of our coming events. If you have any questions about this series, feel free to visit its “homepage” at getlisted.org. We are planning our fall schedule now so if you would like to help sponsor a Getlisted.org Local University event in your community email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local University Spring 2012 Series
Local University: Spokane (in partnership with Sixth Man Marketing)
April 27, 2012
Northern Quest Resort & Casino
Local University: Edmonton (in partnership with Whitespark)
May 1, 2012
The Matrix Hotel
Local University: Syracuse (in partnership with Syracuse.com)
May 22, 2012
Local University: ADVANCED (in partnership with SMX Seattle)
June 7, 2012
Bell Harbor Convention Center
Local University: Salt Lake City (in partnership with SLCSEM)
June 12, 2012
The Leonardo Museum
Local University: Austin (with Google)
June 26, 2012
Specific Venue TBD Next Week
The Preschool Learning Center (PLC), a small school for the developmentally disadvantaged in rural upstate NY , is like most not for profits: overworked, understaffed, a heart of gold and a very limited budget. There is probably no better program for kids with autism anywhere and certainly not in the markets they serve.
We helped them build their website in 2008 and it has been moderately successful for them. It has provided them reach throughout their marketing region and it has attracted a large number new job applicants. But they wanted to do more but were having difficulty seeing their way through the many options for communications and sharing. They attended the Getlisted.org Local University seminar in early November and learned a great deal about the relative strengths and weakness of the possible directions they might take their local & social efforts on their limited budget. At the seminar Matt McGee offered them this tidbit to help them get clarity: If you want to know where your clients are online, ask them.
It was advice that the PLC took to heart. Gerry Guild, the staff psychologist, put together a Social Media Assessment (available here) that did just that and gathered the exact information that they needed to craft a path forward for improved communications with their clients.
I think the results of the survey are telling. The results and the survey also provide an excellent framework for any small organization with similar questions about how to move forward in the complex social media landscape. The PLC survey puts communications with the client first and it models a process that every not for profit (or any smaller organization) should think about following to better understand where they should put their on line marketing and communication priorities.
Today, I am presenting at the seventh GetListed.org Local University in Ellicottville, NY. in cooperation with Google, Bing and range of local sponsors. Some of you I know and the others I hope to personally meet. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask any questions that come to mind or to just introduce yourself.
These links will provide background information and details for a pathway to dig deeper into the world of managing your listing in Google Places and ethically approaching the review process. For those of you that are not in attendance, the links provide a good overview of critical base line ideas and tactics that every local campaign should embrace.
Google Places – Its not your mother’s yellow pages.
Slide 2 - Sept 2011 Search Engine Market Share
Slide 13/14 - The Importance of Page One Visibility
Slides 17/18 - How the Google Cluster Works
Slide 24- Choosing the Right Category – A Tool
Slide 24 - Writing a Great Business Description
Slide 24 - Google Places Policies: Quality guidelines
Slide 25 – Checking for Problems – NAP Audit
Slide 26 - Creating a GeoSitemap – A tool
Slide 33/34 Local Search Ranking Factors – the many variables
Slide 33/34 A brief list of 10 Ranking Factors – somewhat old but still valid and a quick read
Slide 33 Thinking about your Business Name in the Internet Era
Slide 34 - User Generated Content – Geo Tagged Photos
Slide 30 - How To Gather Reviews
Slide 30- Where to Gather Reviews
Slide 35- The Importance of Citations
Slide 35 - 20 Citation Sources in the US
Slide 40- A Listing management tool
Reviews – Jumping Into the Void
Where to Gather Reviews
Principles for a Review Plan: Considerations in encouraging customer reviews
Responding to Negative Reviews – Your Prospects are the Real Audience
Asking for Reviews – UMoveFree Finds the Groove
Garnering Reviews – A Mom & (no) Pop Shop finally Hops on Reviews
Reviews: Lipstick on a Pig Leads to User Backlash
Review Management: 7 Tips on Avoiding Bad Reviews
Google Review Posting Guidelines
Well not quite a conversation. Siri did all the talking. I did my regular “ask til they throw their hands up in disgust” routine:
As part of Getlisted Local University we occasionally survey the attendees. We ask several questions to assess their level of knowledge about search in general and local search in particular. This survey sample size is very small and self selected from those that registered for the seminar. The participants are primarily small and medium businesses and the market area they occupy is mostly rural. The results however are consistent with previous informal surveys.
I am always shocked that so many businesses have created Facebook Business pages and so few have claimed their Google Places page. I have been at the local thing for such a long time that I frequently forget how few businesses actually make a concerted effort to understand and benefit from Local search.
|4. Do you have a website? (y/n)
|5. Have you “claimed” your local business listing in the Google Places Dashboard?
|6. Does your business currently have a Facebook page?
1)There is still a huge upside to Local search
2)Google Places has not yet succeeded in gaining mindshare against Facebook despite the very real benefit it offers and their longer time in the market.
Local University: WNY is coming to the Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville, NY next Tuesday, November 1, 2011. The afternoon session is
nearly SOLD OUT, however there are still seats available in the morning session.
We’re bringing in some of the nation’s leading online marketing experts as well as Google and Bing for an intensive four-hour crash course in Internet marketing that will help the SMB navigate the possibilities for marketing their business on the web. The SMBs will learn Search & Social Marketing tips and techniques that will lead to sustained, long-term search engine visibility (and new customers) in their local markets and beyond.
There will be two identical 4 hour sessions ( from 8am – 12pm and 1pm – 5pm). The speakers include Matt McGee, David Mihm, Mary Bowling, Ed Reese, Cecelia Stewart of Google Places, Aaron Weiche and myself. Bing has also recently signed on as a sponsor and the Bing Portal Product Manager Joe Futy will be there demonstrating their new business portal. With Google’s assistance we were able to provide 25 college students with “scholarships” to attend the event.
We will be holding “office hours” offering free website reviews for attendees in an adjacent room at the Holiday Valley Resort from 8:30am – 1:00pm and from 1:30pm – 6:00pm. Slots are available on first-come, first-served basis in 15-minute intervals. If you would like to reserve a time for one of us to review your site, please email us at email@example.com with your preferred time.
Pricing for the event is $129. Click here to register. Enter the discount code: MB2011 to receive special pricing of $99 (save $30).Hope to see you there!
The “grand daddy” of geo sitemap generators has recently included some new features. Geo Sitemap Generator, first released by Arjan Snaterse in 2009, has added the ability to generate either a schema.org file or a microformatted file of your contact information. In addition to the features in the geo sitemap tool from 51Blocks that I reviewed last week, Geo Sitemap Generator supports multiple locations and now provides a preview of the KML file locations on a Map.
The benefits of multiple locations are obvious if you need them. The benefits of the map preview are not so obvious but very real. KML files require a mapping API to generate the lat long info included in the file. Sometimes the information from the API, even from the same map provider, renders the location differently than reality or differently than the public mapping program. It has always been a good idea to check the KML file’s lat-long accuracy by loading it into something like Google Earth to be sure that it pins the locations correctly. Now Geo Sitemap Generator previews the pins on a Map for you when you go to download your files saving you a necessary step.
I decided to order a new iPhone 4s today.
I thought that the most hassle free order method was to just go to my local ATT store. It was the obvious choice. There is never a line, the staff is friendly. The affable salesman knows me by first name and is an avid iPhone owner himself. I could be catered to and I wouldn’t have to think too hard. I thought how can I go wrong?
Not to worry. With ATT there is always a way.
The choices offered to me by ATT:
1)I could preorder and wait for 3 weeks for delivery or
2)I could come in next Friday and stand in line or
3)Since I am consulting in Phoenix next Friday, I could stand in line there.
As my son would say: Yea right.
I pulled out my iPhone while standing frustrated at the ATT sales counter & went to the Apple site. It suggested I download the app, which I did. Within 3 or 4 minutes I had preordered my iPhone. I asked my salesperson (who I felt really sorry for) to advise the chain of command of the outcome.
ATT? #fail. I should have known better.
There are two simple ways of telling Google and the other search engines where your business is located via your website. One is to create a KML file and an attendant geo-sitemap. The other is to provide your full business contact information in rich snippet format on the site. Now there is a way to easily do both with one simple creation tool from Michael Borgelt of 51Blocks.
From a single input of your basic NAP + web information, the tool creates a kml file, a geo-sitemap file pointing Google to the KML file and an HTML code snippet in the new schema.org format for your business contact info.
You then paste the code snippet onto your contact us page or into the footer of your website, place the kml & geo-sitemap files in your public html file of your site and then reference the geo-sitemap file from the Google webmaster tools. The KML file can also be uploaded to Google MyMaps to create an embeddable direction and location map for your website.
I doubt that Google needs both signals to trust your site but by doing both you have future proofed your site for any eventuality.