Rebranding your business for fun and profit in Maps


After mucking around in the bowels of local search marketing for laywers in LA, I had an interesting interchange with Miriam Ellis of SEOigloo. 

Me: But what client in their right mind would choose a lawyer based on the search “LA Dog Bite Attorney”? It seems to cater to the underclasses.

Miriam: Somehow, it reminds me of those eBay adwords plugs “Buy New & Used Dog At EBay”. The artifice of crummy and weird SEO at work.

Her comment struck a chord for me and led me through a whole mind experiment (over the next 3 minutes) wondering just how far “weird SEO” might go…

And where else to look? Los Angeles of course.

My (somewhat twisted) cogs started turning out possible search phrases. Cut Rate Surgery? No too cliche. Breast Enlargement? Hmm I was getting warm  there. My search soon proved fruitful. On just my third try I hit pay dirt as it were: Beverly Hills Breast Augmentation:
Search Optimization Breast Augmentation

So I asked myself the obvious question: What business in their right mind would rebrand themselves Breast Augmentation? Well never underestimate the possibilities when you combine the thought process of someone from LA with the power of Google.

Apparently a lot of businesses would:
Continue reading

Local Links of Interest


I have noted Apple’s steady movement into mobile computing via the MacBook Air, the iPod Touch and the iPhone in the past. Is there room for a kindle sized device between the phone and the ultra portable? Here are two views:

Between a Laptop and the iPhone - Greg Sterling, Local Mobile Search

Do You Have That Portable in a Midsize? - John Markoff, NY Times

And on a totally unrelated vein:

Fuel Optimization, Geospatial and On-Board Navigation - Mike Dobson, Telemapics

Mike is always a few years out in his vision and very broad in his analysis. Here he talks about navigation software/systems to help solve fuel economy problems.

The Longtail of Local Search Mapspam


Update 05/13/08 Google has removed some but apparently not all of the examples below.

In the conversation about Lawyers’ mapspam EarlPearl and Stephan Espinosa both wondered what type of spam panzermike and other lawyers were placing into Maps. I decided to delve into the moshpit that is the proxy for on-line legal marketing in LA and see what was up. It certainly has all the making for a new lawyer joke.  

I started my search looking at the links that panzemike had posted:

dog bite lawyers near Los Angeles, CA
car accident lawyers near Los Angeles, CA
wrongful death lawyers near Los Angeles, CA

It was not at first clear from the above links whether there was abuse or just some creative title optimization and lots of remote offices:

 

This firm, apparently has 24 offices throughout the greater LA area, San Jose and San Diego. It was conceivable to me that they had optimized each title like the above for each office. I decided to focus my research in the city of Pasadena to check for multiple listings per location but got a little nervous when Google indicated that it had 54,208 lawyer listings in Pasadena. Here is what I found just in Pasadena:


Continue reading

LA Dog Bite Lawyers in a Cat Fight over Maps


On May 7, 5:52 pm, “Maps Guide Jen” notified a poster, panzermike, at the Google Maps for Business Group that his business listings had been banned from Maps for the “foreseeable future”: 

Hi panzermike,

I had a look into your account. Your listings aren’t appearing because removed them from Google Maps. At this time even though you’ve reversed spam attempts, you’ve been blocked for the foreseeable future. I won’t be able to answer any additional questions about your listings.

- Maps Guide Jen

Yesterday, the poster Michael P. Ehline, P.C (aka panzermike) posted a comment at this blog:

I was removed from Google maps for mapspam after a guy I hired did all sorts of bulk uploads for the same address who I paid goo money. One of the listings was to a park!! (I found out later).

In all events, Google allows other businesses to claim your listing. Pretty sneaky. I think I discovered a guy who did that to me and went to the Maps group for help. Instead, a forum troll reported me as a spammer and I was removed from Maps.

I fired the webmaster who set up maps for me. Too late, Maps Jen says I am out for the “foreseeable future”. I have suffered at least a 30 percent drop in business.

What’s worse, is that the other sites my guy copied are all still submitting multiple listings for the same location, using multiple mirror sites with different url’s, submitting fakes firm names, that are really keyword names, and are totally controlling all the traffic from Maps.

Do you have any suggestions as to getting back into Maps and to get Maps to enforce its rules in a just manner, rather than the arbitrary and capricious manner they enforce their rules now? It really killed my phone.

Don’t you think they should offer amnesty or a second chance?

I was intrigued by the situation and emailed PanzerMike to see if he wanted to bring his case to a larger audience. So I am providing an interview with him and putting his question to the readers of this blog: Do you have any suggestions as to getting back into Maps? Do you think Google should offer amnesty or a second chance?

Here are his responses to my interview questions:
Continue reading

Local Links of Interest


 Small Business Marketing Success Story: Avante Gardens - Matt McGee, SearchEngineland

This interview with Cathy Rulloda is a great overview of good practices. Cathy is always at the forefront of using the internet for local marketing in the very tough florist arena and she more than holds her own.

Free-411 Rolls Out Dial Directions Nationally & Jingle Goes Nationwide with Dial Directions - Greg Sterling, Screenwerks/Local Mobile

Against that backdrop Jingle needs to continue to develop, market and differentiate its service if it hopes to stay ahead of this increasing competition. One way it has sought to do that is by offering Dial Directions service, which as of today is now available nationally: any location to any other location (by address or intersection).

I see Free 411 services as a critical bridge service between the phones of today and the mobile internet of tomorrow and the services use much the same data set that we have been working with. Greg offers this interesting chart of Free 411 intents:

Free 411 Intent

How do we determine the names of things -  Mikel Maron, BrainOff.com

A mid April post that takes a fascinating look at the politics and policies involved in naming places. What we often assume is an absolute in a Map is really  a fluid, conflicted political & social battle. How does Google handle the conflicts that arise? How does OpenStreetMap do so? An eye opening and educational piece.

 

Local Seo Tracking Software


A reader asked me serveral months ago if I knew of software to track local search standings. Advanced Web Ranking had just implemented the feature (after a year of hounding) and I told the reader about it with a caution that I had not yet tried it.

He just took the time to email his comments:

It’s been a while, but I’m the person who wrote you asking if you knew of a good local seo tracking software option.  You recommended Advanced Web Ranking.  I wanted to let you know that their software is working great!  When I first tested it, the local search tracking had some bugs and did not report the ranks correctly. They have fixed those issues though and the software works great to get results from Google Maps and Yahoo Local Business.  They do not yet have local search tracking for Live (MSN) or Ask, but said they plan to add those as some point.

I subsequently have used the feature and it has become quite useful for automated tracking. The software works on Mac, Windows or Linux and pricing starts at $99.

Are there other products that will automatically track local search standings?

What impact Maps and Coupons?


Earl the Pearl, in bringing up a new site and comparing to an older one, has done a great summary and analysis at SeoREfugee of where local traffic is coming from:

Over the past 10 months, the largest single traffic generator search phrase has been the industry generic term. In google it has generated about 2100 visits and Yahoo about 2600 visits. About 90% of the traffic from google is ppc oriented whereas in Yahoo its all organic search.

Of visits to the site that have the same or virtually analogous business terms with a geo modifier, the clear traffic visit leader with the most traffic has been the business term with the city name, versus the business term with state names. Traffic for the most popular business term with the city (washington dc) has generated over 300 visits in this time period. Meanwhile the next most popular phrases with geo modifiers have been for the 2 states.

Of significance, prior to the insertion of google maps into organic searches, their was no noticable difference between industry terms for the generic business terms and any of 3 different most prevalent geo modifiers (2 states, Maryland, and Virginia, and one city- DC.).

It appears that the insertion of a map which has always featured this business at the top of the search page, has increased visits to the site by about 30-50% over searches without a map.

In other words, there is a significant increase in traffic to the site wherein there is a #1 organic ranking, and a map, and a ppc ad over sites with a #1 organic ranking, a ppc ad and no map.(my bold)

To date it appears that high generic rankings or high ranked ppc with geo terms in the title for generic industry terms are critical; high ranked terms for geo-modified business terms are critical, and the appearance of a business in maps within a 3 pack/10pack/authoritative map are of big help…but don’t have the impact of either high organic rankings or highly ranked ppc.

His assessment of coupons? No customer responses as they are buried too deeply within Maps to be found.

Local Links of Interest


A Technology Consortium Plans a Wireless Network – Matt Richtel, NY Times

The consortium includes a disparate group of partners: Sprint Nextel, Google, Intel, Comcast, Time Warner and Clearwire….

They expect the network, which will provide the next generation of high-speed Internet access for cellphone users, to be built in as little as two years, but there is no timetable on when it will be available to users and the price is not determined. The partners are seeking to beat Verizon Wireless and AT&T Wireless to the market.

Sprint Scores Coup with WiMax Joint Venture – Greg Sterling, Local Mobile Search

Sprint and Google have also entered into an agreement related to Sprint’s mobile services, whereby Google will become the default provider of web and local search services, both of which will be enabled with location information, for Sprint. Sprint will also preload several Google services – including Google Maps for mobile, Gmail and YouTube – on select mobile phones and provide easier access to other Google services.

Apple and AT&T to launch iPhone 3G a lot sooner than we think - Boy Genius Report

AT&T reps just got an internal email stating that they would be unable to take vacation time from June 15th to July 12th”due to projected increased traffic and an exciting new promotion/product launch.” 

The Ten Commandments of Online Marketing for Small & Local Busines - David Mihm, Mihmorandum

Step-by-step instructions for the small business just trying to get a handle on this whole internet marketing thing. (I missed this one while on vacation but it is worth looking at if you haven’t read it)

Google Maps: More Bulk Upload Mapspam or bad data from a Trusted Source


Recent reports of bulk upload Earthlink MapSpam may in fact be “spam” coming to Google from one of its “trusted” primary data suppliers instead rather than being entered via the Local Business Center. 


Earthlink Mapspam

Last week and again today Imnotadoctor.com is reporting spammy listings in the Google Maps Local 10-Pack. In this most recent case the bad listings are from Earthlink. Stephen at Imnotadoctor.com speculates that this is a case of bulk upload abuse. (image courtesy of ImNotaDoctor.com)

However upon further inspection of the records for both the Big Local and Earthlink spam, it appears that another scenario could be that the listings did not come via Google’s Bulk upload feature. A more likely explanation is that they were fed to Google via a primary data provider.

A normal record in Google has visible attributes that are typically associated with either a bulk upload or a single LBC entry. It is noted in the record that the information is provided by the business owner and the record does not support end user edits. In both of these cases neither condition was met. This leads me to supspect another route other than a bulk upload.

Earthlink Record

The questions might really be “which Google Data Provider has this level of trust and the inability to properly scrub their records?”

Developing Knowledge about Local Search