Archive for local search

The History of Google Places from David Mihm

David Mihm has put together a detailed infographic of the history of Google Places, from its beginning in March of 2004 as Google Local to the creation of the Google Place Page in October 2009 and the final re-branding of business listings to Google Places.  In the timeline he also includes significant personnel changes at Google, product changes, changes to the look of Local/Maps/Places, news and the launch of other local/mobile products.

I’ve been working in Local Search on a daily basis since June of 2008 and consider myself an expert in the field.  Even so, I’m still amazed by the changes and growth in that amount of time.  I keep abreast of the news and blog about it here, but seeing it all in one place is very cool.  As always, David Mihm has done a great job.

Here’s a small version of the graphic.  For a full-sized version, click on it to go to the source:

End of the Year Tune Ups

With the release of Google+ Pages for Business and the end of the year coming, I’ve been going through my customers’ online listings at all the search engines and directories.  This includes the big search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing), top-level providers (InfoGroup, Localeze and Acxiom), smaller directories and review sites (Yelp, hotfrog, Manta, etc.), and local area directories (Go Local Tampa Bay, TBO Directory, etc.).  I’m making sure that all the listings are claimed and that information is up to date, consistent and accurate.

It’s a big task, even for a professional like me, and I thought, “This is the perfect year-end/holiday service for businesses.”

Save yourself some time and frustration.  If you haven’t reviewed your local internet presence, or if you haven’t even claimed all of your online listings, let me do it for you.  The details are here:

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Google+ Pages Now Available For Everyone

Yesterday Google announced that Google+ Pages for Business were available to a limited amount of users.  They quickly, within hours, followed that up by opening up the ability to create Google+ Pages to everyone.  I’m in the middle of creating them for all my current customers and I like them quite a bit.

What’s really exciting for me is the built-in functionality for Local Search Marketing.  When you create a Page, you choose whether you’re making the page for a Local Business or Place, a Product or Brand, a Company/Institution/Organization, Arts/Entertainment/Sports, or Other.  If you select a Local Business/Place the form asks for the phone number and looks for the business information and auto-fills the information for that location if its available.

When you’re done creating the page, your Google+ identity is switched over so that you’re acting as the Page.  You can switch back to your own profile at any time.  When you’re logged in as the Page, any actions you make are shown as coming from the page: posts, pictures, videos, updates, etc.

The functionality is similar to Facebook Pages, but they’re making a real effort to integrate the Google suite of products.  I’ve already noticed that if you add a link to a Picasa album (Google’s photo album product) the images in the album are displayed in an album view.

Another cool feature is the ability to “Start a hangout”, a video conference that anyone in your circles can join, a great tool for virtual meetings with customers or webinars.

They’ve already announced that multi-admin support, ownership transfer and analytics are on their way and I can’t wait to see that functionality included.

Article on the Impact of Local-Mobile Search

Local Business CategoriesI’m doing my requisite daily scan of  my Google Reader account.  I wish I had time in the day to read everything that comes through, but I only have time to spend an hour or so catching up on the industry and the fun stuff that rolls through it.

Today an article caught my eye that says that, based on a study by AT&T and Nielsen, 43% of Local/Mobile searchers actually walk through the door of businesses that they search for.

The businesses most likely to benefit from this are restaurants, entertainment venues, and retail stores.  Based on my own habits, and those of people that I know, I’m completely unsurprised.  When I’m looking for somewhere new to eat or if I need to make a purchase, my first thought is to take out my smart phone, login to foursquare or Yelp, and find a place with a good rating to go to.

It’s a good article with great statistics on Mobile Search, I’d definitely recommend it to anyone with a local business.

Local Search in a Nutshell

I recently came across the best representation of Local Search Marketing that I’ve seen to date.  It’s a graphic from Mike Blumenthal at who runs a blog on Local Search that I subscribe to.  It shows the inter-relationships and the importance of your NAP, your directory listings, reviews, citations, PPC, the whole ball of wax.  Instead of just sending you there, he’s created a handy version that can be embedded, so I’m including it here.

Web Equity Infographic
Web Equity by Mike Blumenthal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

My Newest Timewaster – foursquare

I was doing my due diligence last week, reading up on the latest and greatest in Local Search when I came across an article about a cool app to put on my phone called foursquare. It’s a game / tracking tool that you can use to track where you’ve been, leave tips about places, and follow where your friends have been. As you use the app you unlock badges, little rewards to motivate users to use it more often.

The thing that drew me in is this article that Google is crawling foursquare for local citations. The way this site is set up is tailor made to improve your local search results. The “Add Venue” option requires businesses to provide their name, address, phone number and a cross street. Local search lives or dies by a businesses NAP (name, address, phone number), and this is a strong place to put it.
On top of that, it’s fun. The person with the highest amount of “check-ins” is declared the “mayor” of a place (I’m mayor of 2 currently) and you can compete with your friends, or track your results in comparison to the entire city you’re in.
I’m in the process of making sure that all my customers’ locations have been added to this site and I’m having fun in the process. What more can you ask for?

Hallelujah and Praise the Lord: Service Areas and Location Settings in Google Place Pages

I logged into one of my customer’s Google Local Business Centers today and had a pleasant surprise. As you can see on the image, Google has finally addressed the problem of businesses that service customers outside of their immediate area. Until now, my customers with lawn services, out-call massage, and plumbing businesses had major issues coming up on the map outside of their immediate metropolitan areas.

Today they enabled the “Service Areas and Location Settings” area in the Local Business Center. Businesses have the option of choosing whether their customers come to their business location or if they serve customers at their address. They have the option of showing their address or not and they can choose which area they service. The service area can be chosen as a radius from their address, or they can put in geo-modifiers such as zip code, city name, or even county name. I used both methods for several of my customers, choosing a radius or choosing counties or cities as appropriate.
It’s too soon to determine how this new option will affect rankings or if hiding your address has a positive or negative affect on listings. This literally changes how I advise my customers in their local search efforts. I’ll let you know my results as time goes on.

Post To Your Place Page – New on Google Place Pages

I was working on one of my customer’s place pages, as I do on a daily basis, when I came across a new tool in the top right-hand corner. The option to place a message on my customer’s place page that expires in 30 days.

I called the customer for a quick blurb to try out the new tool and here’s how it looks.

A great tool that my customers have been asking for. Try it out today.

Google Changes Their Business Listing Quality Guidelines

Google made a change last week to their Business Listing Quality Guidelines. The big issue was that Google was requiring people to list their full legal business name as the company name, but they quickly reversed direction on that decision. Many companies don’t actually do business under their legal name (I don’t!) and requiring it on a Google listing may have been a step too far.

Another big change is that PO Boxes no longer count as physical addresses. I can see this really affecting how mobile businesses do their listings, especially in the lawn maintenance, locksmith, plumber, electrician, and repair industries. I have a few customers that I’ll need to fix this for. There has to be an elegant way to address this issue for those kinds of customers. I guess we’ll have to wait for Google to come up with it.
As always, pay attention to what Google wants and you’ll get good results in your Local Search efforts.

Google’s Lucky 7-Pack

Going through local searches late last week, I noticed that the Google Map looked a little different. As I looked closer, I noticed that the map only had 7 spots on it as opposed to the usual 10.
However, my cousin was getting married on Friday, and, what with matrimonial festivities and all, I wasn’t able to investigate it closer until Sunday and today.
What I’ve discovered is this. Yes, it appears that Google is moving to a smaller 7-pack map. The speculation is that they’re doing this to make room for Local Listings Ads, a new type of advertising that Google recently rolled out in beta testing in California. Basically the ad allows businesses to buy a spot on the map and mark it with a blue marker!
I actually like the new look of the map. It’s more compact and easier to read, we’ll see how it integrates with Local Listings Ads once they make them available worldwide.