Category Archives: Organic SEO

As goes Google, so goes the union

There has been a lot going on in local search lately. Google just unleashed a new dashboard, Facebook changed “Nearby” to “Local Search”, and local business mobile advertising numbers went up. It’s been a busy first quarter of 2013. It seems a good time to address how we fit into the local search ecosystem, and explain the value we offer. Here at Local Splash we call our process PMO:

Profile – Having unique and accurate content is a critical component to optimizing your online business profile. We have a trained staff of experts who conduct a client interviews in order to find out all the relevant information about your business in order to craft a high quality, optimized profile.

Manage – The local search space is always changing. Major players come and go, tactics that used to work stop working, and the heaviest hitters like Google change their products regularly. This means you need local search experts in order make sure your online presence keeps up with the times.

Optimize – We optimize your presence across the internet for both search engines and human users. We do this by building authority via citations and getting you in front of mobile users.

We accomplish this by working with various destination partners to build your presence and citations across the internet.  The most important places we engage in the PMO process for you are the 3 major online discovery engines, Google, Bing, and Yahoo.  These three discovery engines represent 93.7% of all internet search traffic.  If you don’t have optimized profiles on these three engines then most likely you will not be found online next to your competitor, no matter how many citations your business location has.

Citations you say?

A citation is a mention of your business on the internet that contains your name, address, and phone number.  This is known as your NAP. Citations are important because they help search engines rank your business.  We improve your citations by working with the major core data providers for local business information to get your NAP distributed across the internet.  Having accurate NAP’s distributed through CDP’s is critical to maintaining an optimal local presence online.

We get your data places

 

Historically, citation volume has been a major strategy for local search agencies. Here at Local Splash we feel like this is an antiquated strategy. Yes, number of citations are important, but like all things Google relevancy and unique content are critical. That is why we make it our mission to work with destination partners that will put your local business in the unique light it deserves.

Optimizing for humans

Previously, citations were treated as the be all, end all of local search. However, the times they are a-changing and we are changing with them. Optimizing for search is great, but we also want to optimize your web presence for users. Optimizing for users generates a high ROI as it brings your business higher quality leads by targeting the people who are already looking for businesses exactly like yours.

A critical online destination to target in order to optimize for humans is Yelp. We work with Yelp because it is incredibly important for local businesses. In a study by the Harvard Business Review, a single star increase in your aggregate reviews on Yelp can boost your revenue by up to 10%.  In fact, the importance of Yelp to local businesses is starting to rival Google itself.

Mobile Discovery

According to Google, 50% of mobile searches have local intent. That means that being found in the places mobile users search is critical to creating revenue from your local search strategy. At Local Splash we make sure to get you in front of mobile searchers.

Local Splash gets your data to critical mobile discovery apps

We make sure to get your business on 3 of the top 4 mobile discovery apps. These account for 49% of all mobile searchers.

The Future

Despite all we do for creating optimized local business profiles right now, it is never enough. We are constantly looking to expand the destination partners that we work with. Our promise to you for 2013 is that we will continue to look for top quality destinations for your local business information, places where we can create unique, optimized content that will boost your presence in online discovery engines and help you convert with your customers. Some analysts are predicting that 2013 is the year of local, but here at Local Splash, every year is the year of local search.

Hallelujah! I am agnostic, but the fact that Google has rolled out the new Google + Local dashboard is worthy of enthusiastic praise, maybe even worship. At least in the local world. Ok, maybe not worship, but there may be some type of opening-in-the-sky association.

sky's the limit with the new Google + Local dashboard

Although the updates have not been rolled out to all accounts, there is a significant list of items that will be changing, and in some cases improved.

Let’s start with talking about the new widget style dashboard. This new dashboard manages all of the different features of your local listing: G+ Local listing, Adwords Express, and Offers. Click on one of the widgets and a page opens up to manage that particular element. Simple, intuitive and easy to use. Even the rounded corner design of the widgets speaks to the metaphorical sharp edges Google is sloughing off with the introduction of this new Google+ Local dashboard. We have yet to replicate this widget style dashboard, but Mike Blumenthal has kindly provided visual aids in his post yesterday:

rounded corner widget style G+ Local dashboard

Here is a cleaner visual example:

new G+ Local dashboard

Multiple listings can now be managed through one account.

Do I hear cheering?

captain planet cheers for G+ local dashboard

Previously, this feature was not allowed–you were most likely penalized if you added more than one listing per GPlaces account. The different listings are managed on another widget-styled dashboard, to view all your listings in an at-a-glance fashion. The individual listings have their own drop down menus to quickly manage things like linked Google APIs, adding/organizing multiple managers, and notifications of on-going social activity.

multiple listings can be managed through one account int he G+ local dashboard

Another notable change with the new dashboard is the category set-up and limit. Categories are limited to Google approved categories going forward. Custom categories are no longer allowed. A fixed list of category options has some people worried, yet according to Mr. Blumenthal, Google has taken this into consideration by adding more categories, coming to a total of 2295 categories to choose from. There are also more fields to input categories with the new dashboard. The new limit allows for up to ten categories to be added to the G+ local page. This is double the number of categories we were previously able to add.

expanded caetgories in new G+ Local dashboard

Rich text in the description field is now allowed. Although this is a great new feature, including rich text in the description field will slow the processes of setting up a page because the description must be reviewed before going live.

new description field in G+ Local dashboard

A listing can only be owned/managed by one account. No longer are the days where listings are claimed over or split in between different accounts. Good for managing, bad for people who can’t remember their log-in credentials. This will pose a challenge to agencies trying to take ownership over G+ Local page’s that customer’s have set-up on their own.

If trying to claim a listing that has already been verified in another account, you will receive an error message, asking you to request admin rights from the owner.

already claimed listing cannot be claimed twice G+ Local

A preemptive approach, prior to claiming, is to ask the customer to transfer ownership of their page or make you an authorized manager.

transfer ownership in new G+ Local dashboard

Both of these options are available within the G+ Local Dashboard, under the Pages tab

different managers allowed in the new G+ Local dashboard

G+ Local social features like creating circles, adding friends, commenting, re-sharing posts and blocking people can be done in the new dashboard.  The privacy settings and control over who and how friends/ the public view your local G+ page is pretty cool. You can even hide different tabs on your page: like photos, videos, and/or reviews. For example, below I have unchecked the review box, so no reviews should be available for public display. There is also the option to remove your page from search engines. The box that represents this is “Help others discover my profile in search results.” By unchecking that box, your G+ page should not display in search results. I am not sure why any business would do this, yet it’s a very nifty option for for any business with privacy concerns.

privacy options for G+ Local dashboardd

Privacy settings had me at hello, until I tried creating a brand new listing on G+ Local that I was unable to hide the address for. I was prompted to go to the old Google Places for Business dashboard.

hide your address feature in new G+ Local dashboard

NOT COOL.


Mike claims this will be remedied in the full roll-out of the new dashboard:

This upgrade DOES allow for service area businesses to hide their address and if they so choose to get a G+ Page with their address hidden. The verbiage also makes the clear whether the business accepts walk ins or not AND provides contextual help. This is a huge improvement.

Here is the visual of said statement:

hide address service area feature G+ Local dash

What more can really be said, except let’s wait a bit longer to truly appreciate the magnitude of the new G+ Local dashboard. Despite my complaint, I realize it has ONLY been about two days since the release of the product–and it is scheduled to roll out in stages to small numbers at a time. I will try to be patient while I wait for my turn. Patience is a virtue after all (my mom would be proud).

Google recently made changes to its review interface to put less of a focus on the Zagat review system. The new interface allows review authors to choose words or phrases like “Excellent,” “Very Good,” “Good,” and “Poor-Fair” rather than Zagat’s 0-3 number system.

Zagat’s 0-3 numbering system may have been too confusing to users because it is a unique, unusual system compared to what many people are used to. Many ratings are based on a 1-5 scale, with 3 being the rating for an “okay” or “so-so” experience. However, on Zagat’s rating scale, 3 is the highest score you can give. Google has done away with this Zagat scale. The reviews interface now looks like this:

Google is still displaying the overall Zagat score on each business’s Google+ Local page. This score is a number between 0-30. However, the fact that Google has done away with the initial 0-3 Zagat scoring scale may show that it’s taking steps towards completely eliminating the Zagat scoring system. What do you think? Do you like Google’s Zagat scoring system or should Google do away with it?