Join Us June 13th in Seattle for an Advanced Local U

Join us on June 13th for Local U Advanced at SMX Advanced Seattle 2013

LOGO-Final-Red

SMX Advanced is the leading destination for advanced, professional Online Marketers to learn the latest and greatest techniques and to network with their peers. In the vein of bringing the best content, the Local University crew are proud to be presenting the 2nd edition of Local U Advanced at the Bell Harbor Conference Center on June 13th.

Those of us on the Local U faculty live and breathe local search every day. Whether working with local or enterprise clients or helping define the ways in which local listings will appear in search, social and beyond we have worked all year putting together this curriculum. Look forward to the most current actionable information on local search, social and the view from the engines.

Up close with the Local U faculty

The SMX advanced workshops offer, in addition to of the great learning opportunity, a small group size with unparalleled access to industry experts. The Local U faculty look forward to the opportunity for one to one exchanges with the attendees. These one to one exchanges are a great opportunity for you to ask most pressing question and get answers.

Get answers direct from the horse’s mouth

Join Google’s own Joel Headley and potentially others in an explanation of the current state of local search from their point of view. Get direct advice from Joel on how to troubleshoot Google local in an afternoon roundtable.

Content appropriate to all audiences

Many SEO conferences seem geared to agencies and operators at the highest levels of engagement. Those agencies and experts will get great value from Local U Advanced as will the local mom and pop.

Many of the core tenets of local SEO are universal and there will be plenty of differentiation among tactics appropriate for large and small. Whether you are a big brand or a local merchant you will get great tips, techniques and case studies relevant to your experience.

It’s not all about Google

You can look forward to more than just Google maps. We are bringing in experts in the cutting-edge of social and content for local promotion. You will also hear from paid search experts working hyper local for individual and enterprise clients.

Pinterest, Facebook and Content Marketing are all starting to play a bigger role in the local markers toolbox. You will hear from expert marketers who are using these media to drive the local results.

If you are just getting started or an old pro Local U Advanced has something for you. This all day advanced level training is packed with great information access to experts and plenty of Q & A.

We hope to see you there.

Already have your All Access ticket? Email registration@searchmarketingexpo.com or call (877) 242-5242 to add Local University Advanced to your program. Or you can register for just a Workshop pass online at http://searchmarketingexpo.com/advanced/register

Google Email Inviting Businesses to Update Their Listing in a Newly Converted Dashboard

Last week Google announced that they were starting the process of converting existing, old style dashboards to the new Google Places for Business Dashboard. I just received this email notice that one of my favorite “business” listings had received the dashboard update: Illusory Laptop Repair.

When you log into the new dashboard the user is presented with a nicely designed visual encouraging them to add missing details to the listing.

Here is a copy of the email that is being sent:
Continue reading

Google Local & Review Scams – A Simple Solution

Local scams involving Google are like dipthera on dog feces, very common. Whether it’s the hundreds of companies trading off of Google’s name, fake Google plaquesselling reviews, a company implying that they are Google and offering to “help” you claim your listing or claiming to be able to rank you first because of a special direct relationship to Google, scams involving Google seem to evolve with the local opportunity de jure.

To some extent Google has impacted the review for sale issue with their review filtering technology. However for most of these scams Google can do little to prevent them and G can only respond after the fact. It must be like whack a mole for their busy legal department.

But when this scam email came across my desk, immediately upon receipt I thought“well I better go check my reviews”… It is clearly a deceit but one that readily attracts the business owner. Yet it  is one deceit that Google could and should have solved long ago.

Re:here r your bad reviews

Your business reputation is in jeopardy!

I found a negative review about your business on Google. It only took a few short minutes to find a negative review about your business on other credible directories, and it didn’t take much longer to find even more.

 No matter what kind of advertisement you do, people look you up in Google and other popular directories before contacting you and as soon as they see the negative reviews, they stop contacting you. If you want to safeguard your online reputation – and protect the steady growth of your business – then monitoring and responding to negative reviews like the ones posted on Google, Yelp, Citysearch, InsdierPages, Yellowpages, Mantra etc is crucial. According to the latest research at the Harvard university, 72% of local consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

Don’t let your bad review influence hundreds of potential customers. Reputation Management has quickly moved from being an option to a necessity.

We are Reputation Marketing experts and I want to send you a FREE custom Reputation Report that will reveal in detail your company’s online reviews. To get your free report call us at (866) 966-7396 and we can begin to rebuild your 5 star online reputation together.

Warm Regards,

Roland Sahak

Reputation Marketing Expert

The solution?

Google should implement some form active notification when a business receives a review on their claimed Google listing. Ideally this notification is one that would bring businesses back to the Dashboard and allow them to respond to the review from within the Dashboard rather than forcing them back to the G+ Page to make a response.

Google could also provide some sort of active feed of the + Page that could be used by the business and 3rd parties alike although that seems unlikely given Google’s recent trends to keep data and people on their pages.

Regardless Google could stop these sorts of scams cold, provide some solace to businesses receiving reviews AND increase SMB engagement with Google’s new dashboard. This is a simple solution that should have occurred years ago but there is no time like the present. The new, plug in ready Dashboard offers the perfect environment to make up for lost time.

Google + Local Updates

Google has announced in the forum that they have fixed one of the previously noted issues with the new Google Places for Business Dashboard; the speed of photo uploads. In the old Dashboard it might have taken a month or more for photos to show. When the upgraded Dashboard was released last month, it took several weeks. Now apparently, photos uploaded via the new dashboard should appear in several hours. Here is the update from the forum post:

If you’re using the new dashboard, your photo uploading experience is now improved. Photos uploaded via the new Place for Business dashboard will now go live in hours in most cases. You can send us feedback about this and other features by clicking on the gear on the right -> Send Feedback. Thanks!

Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 2.26.46 PM
In other news, Josh Volk of LocalSeoUpdate.com notes that Google has implemented the one and only one claimant rule on listings via the new dashboard. If a listing has been previously claimed, it is not possible to reclaim the listing into a new account without Google intervention. If you are unable to contact the previous claimant to remove the listing from their account and if the listing has not been edited over the past year, Google support will immediately approve the new claiming request. If however the listing has been edited within the last year then Google support “will call the business owner to truly verify everything … and can then remove the claim from the other account”.

And last but not least, Google has also updated their Data Highlighter and Structured Data tool. This tool allows you to add “rich snippets” without adding any code to your site.

1. Data Highlighter now supports a whole bunch of new schemas: Products, local businesses, articles, software applications, movies, restaurants, and TV episodes.

2. Structured Data Markup Helper Tool: this is a very easy way to get code samples for structured data markup using your own content. Using a process similar to Data Highlighter, you highlight your content and it then generates example HTML you can download and use as a starting point to mark up your content.

Is Google Local Changing the Metaphor For Local Ranking?

For as long as Google has displayed local results they have done so with a modified Yellow Page listing approach albeit one that ranked by prominence rather than distance or alphabetically.

With the rollout of the new Google Maps preview, the loss of the Places search link & Places search from the main page of Google and the recent tests of the carousel for local hotel results, one has to ask if Google is moving away from rank ordering in an A-G list so prevalent over the past 8 years of local to a flatter, more review centric view of local listings.

The new Map view of businesses is striking in its attempt to force the user to pick a particular business based on its overal relevance and prominence within a given geography. The geography is the metaphor not a list. The list view along the left side of the display, once as equally as prominent as the Map, is now relegated to being located at least one click further away. It is not very visible once a user starts clicking on pins and is unlikely to be clicked very often. Admittedly Google is still ranking the results as they are showing 12 accommodation icons and 8 business names in the results to the exclusion of all other listings but Google is no longer readily indicating that they think one business listing is superior to any other within the display.

new-maps

Equally intriguing is Google’s testing of the carousel display for local hotel results (courtesy of Lisa Kolb of Acorn Internet Services). This display “flattens” the local results and puts nearly equal emphasis on each of the top 7 results. The return of organic results so prominently on the page are also fascintating. Results 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10 are the organic pages for the B&Bs showing at the top of the page giving each property two shots at the searcher. I have no idea how click through rates are influenced by position in carousel results or how users react to the  pages being repeated in the organic results below. However the images at the top are very eye grabbing and unlike a list display typical of the 7 -Pack, it seems to me that a click on the middle or to the right is as likely as a click on the first result.

(click to view full page)

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As Lisa Kolb pointed out in her article, the Zagat rating in this display (and one presumes a big, fat red star when Google makes that switchover away from Zagat) will be a primary attractant to the user.

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This change is very consistent with Google’s new card focused design aesthetic that we are seeing in Plus, Glass and Now as well as the new Maps. Can it be long before that new design change and a non list view of rank hits the front page of Google?

Why You Should Have a Professional Proofreader for Your Bulk Emails

Language is an interesting thing. Sometimes it can be used in terribly inappropriate ways. Like in this email from the US Chamber of Commerce where he suggests “we remember those that have given to the cause ” of supporting “the most… opportunistic country in the world”. The email went from tribute to travesty in one word.

U.S. Chamber Small Business Nation
Dear Mike ,

As we celebrate the long weekend and unofficial start of the summer season, we also want to take a moment to commemorate our nation’s veterans, past and present.

Did you know that Memorial Day is the only holiday that begins with the flag at half-staff in honor of the fallen and then raises it to full-mast at noon to inspire and pay tribute to those that serve on in their stead?

We’re lucky to live in the most free and opportunistic country in the world. Today we remember those who have given to that cause.

We hope you’ll take a minute to share our post on Facebook.

Share your thanks for those who fought to keep us free

Have a safe and happy memorial day,


Rob Engstrom
SVP and National Political Director
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

 

U.S. Chamber of Commerce 1615 H Street, NW Washington DC 20062-2000

Web Bug from http://click.uschambersmallbusinessnation.com/db/1472817/129529039/1.gif

Here is Google’s (and generally accepted) definition of the word:

op·por·tun·is·tic

/?äp?rt(y)o?o?nistik/

Adjective
  1. Exploiting chances offered by immediate circumstances without reference to moral principle.

Yelp Successfully Sued in Small Claims Court

Screen Shot 2013-05-25 at 11.32.21 AMAccording to the Wall Street Journal, a bankruptcy lawyer took Yelp to small claims court in San Diego and won a judgement of $2700.

….the judge describing Yelp’s advertising contract as “the modern-day version of the mafia going to stores and saying, “You wanna not be bothered?”

The case will be taken to a higher court on appeal.

The McMillan Law Group, which brought the claim against Yelp, agreed to an advertising deal with the site after it had become “a good source of new clients for us,” said attorney Julian McMillan, representing his firm in the court.  The deal involved the firm paying Yelp $540 per month in return for 1,200 ad impressions per month on the site. An impression is counted each time an ad is displayed to a user.

Mr. McMillan claimed Yelp did not deliver the 1,200 monthly impressions, leading to his firm cancelling the contract and asking for its money back. The site’s representative in the court, Bradley Bohensky, said the claim was based on a misunderstanding of how such impressions are measured, and that Yelp in fact “over delivered” on the ad impressions promised.

Several thoughts:
-The Wall Street Journal, and to a lesser extent the lawyer making the claim, rehashed the Yelp conspiracy theory of pay to play but this case seems to revolve around the one-sided and coercive nature of Yelp’s contract and whether impressions were properly delivered.
-Rocky Agrawal has pointed out the extremely high pricing of Yelp’s advertising and the often irrelevant impressions that they provide. This would seem to me provide another avenue for a small claims court action.
-The lawyer bringing the case has clearly understood that winning in small claims court is the best link generating scheme ever conceived of. And it appears that he is still running a Yelp deal. Hmm…

Google Starting to Convert Existing Dashboards to the New Places for Business Dashboard

Google just announced in the forums that they were starting the process of converting existing Dashboard users to the new Placed for Business Dashboard. Here is the post:

As of May 21, some existing Places users will begin to see the new Google Places for Business dashboard. The transition will happen automatically, and all existing users should continue to manage listings at http://places.google.com. Please keep in mind that the new dashboard is still gradually being rolled out, so not all existing users will see the change right now.

What happened to the custom categories I had using the old dashboard?

Custom categories are no longer showing on listings with the new dashboard. Business owners should try to select an auto-filled category that most closely describes their business. We’re working on improving the way categories work, and by sticking with the categories we have defined, we believe we can better connect customers and businesses.

What happened to payment options, additional details, or videos?

These fields do not appear publicly, and the data will not be transferred onto the new dashboard. The “videos” field no longer appears in the dashboard. You can access prior uploaded videos through your Youtube account. If you wish to post videos on the listing for your business, upgrade to a local Google+ page.

I’m using Google+ to manage the local page for my business; what should I do?

Please continue using Google+ for management, as you had before. If you were using both Google+ and Google Places for business, you should continue doing so. When we are ready to migrate the pages that have social features, we will have further instructions.

I’m using Google Places but don’t see the new dashboard, yet. Should I panic?

Don’t panic. The new dashboard is still rolling out gradually, and we’ll continue to post updates here. Please continue to use Google Places for Business as usual.

Google Local Adds New Troubleshooter to Move Reviews When a Business Relocates

house-moving-3Google has announced in the forums their ability and willingness to now move reviews when a business has moved locations and to remove reviews with significant brand changes for a given location. The request by the business to do so is done via a new troubleshooter.

The guidelines that will apply to requests to move reviews can be summarized as follows: same business at a new location, reviews will be moved; New business at the same location reviews will be removed.

This new (and welcome) capability in no way affects the policy or procedure around removing inappropriate individual reviews –  flagging the review as inappropriate via the G+ Plage and if dissatisfied with the lack of response then filing a troubleshooter report.

Here are the specifics of the guidelines:

Change of ownership

If you are the new owner or manager of an existing business that hasn’t changed it’s name, reviews will not be removed. You can use owner responses to respond to previous reviews and clarify any changes/improvements to the services your business is providing.

Change in name

If you are the new owner or manager of an existing business that has changed its name, reviews may be removed if your business meets specific criteria.

  • Rebrand: Reviews can be removed from the listing if there’s been a significant change in well known, distinct brand name changes. Hotels or fast food establishment that switch franchise affiliations or car dealers that specialize in a different makes of cars would qualify for review removal.
  • Name changes related to change in underlying services: For instance, a business that switches from Jade’s Chinese Garden Restaurant to India Palace Restaurant, or Al’s Sporting Goods Store to Performance Bike Repair, would qualify for review removal
  • Partners or other business affiliations that disassociate: For example, if Perkins and Rogers, Attorneys at Law becomes Perkins, Attorney at Law because Rogers has left the practice to form his own, all reviews would be detached. Note that all reviews would be removed, not just the ones that refer to a particular practitioner

Name changes that don’t reflect core changes to the business’s services aren’t eligible for review removal. For example, if Dasha’s Dry Cleaner becomes Dasha’s Super Dry Cleaner, or JFK Limo Service becomes Super JFK Limo, reviews will remain in place.

Out of business

If your business closes, reviews will remain attached to the closed listing.

Physical location (address) move

If your business moves from one location to another and keeps the same business name, Google will generally move the reviews to the new location. There are some exceptions for businesses heavily tied to their locations, like hotels, golf courses or scenic attractions.

Submit a request for us to move reviews using this form. Currently this is only available for users of the new Google Places for Business dashboard, but we expect to expand its availability soon. I will update this post when it is available more widely.

 

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