Category Archives: Local Search

General information about Local Search techniques, technology and trends

29Prime – Would you Buy a Used Car From These Guys Let Alone SEO?

This is a cautionary tale to 29Prime’s remaining 8000 clients. If this company abuses their own Google Places listing imagine what they might be doing in your name.

Let me be upfront with my bias.. 29Prime is not one of my favorite companies. And I have in the past commented on their abuse of Google Place’s reviews to hide the reality of who they really are. But reader Dave Middleton pointed out that in addition to abusing Google Places’s review policy they are also abusing the Google Places Guidelines as well by adding a tagline to their business name in their Places listing:

Their claim of having served 20,000 clients, while an abuse of Google’s guideline against tag lines in the business name, is an interesting one. Linda Buquet pointed out one of their recent PR releases where they claim to have a current client base of more than 8,000 small business owners. The article notes that they were founded in 2010 (although their website notes a start date of 2007 and the domain was claimed in 2008).

If we take their most recent word at face value (Tough I know but..) and assume (for the sake of simple calculation) a May 2010 founding we can get a sense of their churn. They have lost 6000 customers a year. It would appear that they have lost 1.5 clients for each one still claimed to  be under contract.

Still curious I wanted to see who actually owned the building that they show on their website as their presumed location so I typed their address into Google Maps to look at the Streetview of their location.

OOOPS. Turns out they violated another Places guideline and claimed their listing at the local UPS Store. The address, 2233 West Balboa Blvd # 115, Newport Beach, is the same one used in their Whois record and their website. This was no accident.

Still not convinced about 29Prime’s ethical behaviors? The image of their HQ on their website appeared to have been photoshopped so I dropped it into Google image search to see what I found.

Surprise! They seemed to be “occupying” the Unisys offices at 9701 Jeronimo RD Irvine, Ca. They may in fact be at that location occupying some space but the building most definitely isn’t labeled as 29Prime and they are but a renter. Hmm, stranger and stranger.

To any client of 29Prime: If these folks can’t get their own marketing story straight, how can you expect that they will get yours straight? They are obviously violating Google Places guidelines, run the risk of being suspended, are gathering fake reviews and are photoshopping images on their website that have one intention, to imply that they are more successful than they really are. Their churn rate is at best disturbing. They are willing to “cut corners” (to say the least) on their own marketing, can you really trust them with yours? Or will your listing end up suspended like theirs is likely to be?

Just for the record here is the image from the website and an unretouched image of the same location reflecting the actual occupant. It appears that they didn’t even take the time to take an original photograph and just used the one from the Wikipedia article on Unisys. They did appear to have adjusted the colors.

How many corners can one company cut?
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411Locals On the Warpath?

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.

Local University Spring 2012 Series – Open For Business

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 mike@blumenthals.com.

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
Driver’s Village

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


Getlisted Local University WNY – Additional Reading

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

Local SMB Survey: 68% Have Facebook Pages, 28% Have Claimed Google Places Listing

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)

Yes   83.3%
No   5.6%
5. Have you “claimed” your local business listing in the Google Places Dashboard?

Yes   27.8%
No   55.6%
6. Does your business currently have a Facebook page?

Yes   66.7%
No   22.2%

 

My takeaways?
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.

Getlisted.org Local University coming to WNY on November 1

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 McGeeDavid MihmMary BowlingEd ReeseCecelia 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 localu@getlisted.org 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!

Getlisted Local University WNY Continue reading

Geo Sitemap Generator Adds New Features

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.
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How Much Does ATT Suck? Let me count the ways

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.