Google recently sent emails to many business owners notifying them that their Google Places information will be updated. The email (pictured below) shows the information that will be found on the updated Google Places page and urges business owners to log in to their Google Places account if the information presented is incorrect. At Local Splash, we keep our clients’ business information updated; however some of our clients still received this email. We were also puzzled by how Google obtained our customers’ personal email addresses that were never publicized. In order to answer these questions, we did some research and came up with the following possible explanations:
1. Google only sent the email to business owners who have some difference in phone number or address normalization (i.e. “1001 North Filmore Street” vs “1001 N Filmore St.”) We think Google prefers the unabbreviated names like “street,” “road” and “avenue” rather than their abbreviations.
2. Google is trying to reach the actual business owners, which is why it sent the email directly to our clients rather than to us. However, we have never publicized our clients’ real email addresses. This leads us to believe that Google was working with a Core Data Provider (Acxiom, InfoUSA, Localeze) in order to obtain this information.
3. Google’s email message was intended to target businesses that have claimed/verified listings only.
We are interested to hear your thoughts. Why do you think Google decided to send out this email?
If you’re a local business owner trying to make a name for yourself online, local search engine optimization (SEO) is what’s going to help you do it. Want people to find your business in the search results instead of your competitors? Here are 5 quick local SEO tips that you can use to help make that happen.
1. Complete your Google Place page. Claiming your business’s Google Places page then completely filling out all the information, including all five videos, all 10 photos, business hours, payment options, contact information, etc. will drastically improve your search rankings.
2. Make sure you have a physical address in the city you want to be found for. Businesses that are physically located in the city searched for have the best chance of ranking for keywords in their city. Chances of ranking well in surrounding areas decrease significantly unless you have a Google Adwords pay-per-click advertising campaign.
3. Submit your business to local directories. The more local directories your business is found in, the more chances you have to be found on page one of Google, Yahoo! and Bing search engines. Make sure your business appears in directories like Yelp, Facebook, Merchant Circle and more.
4. Encourage your customers to write reviews. Google takes into account how many reviews your business receives and whether or not they are positive. Gaining many positive reviews will boost your search engine ranking significantly.
5. Keep your business information consistent. Even so much as having your street address written using “St.” in one directory and “Street” in another can hurt your rankings. Search engines like to see clear, consistent information, which means inconsistent business information can hurt your rankings drastically. When submitting your business to directories or claiming your business, make sure you are always using the same format to write your business name, address and phone number to avoid this.
1. Don’t try to trick the search engines. Search engines do not like all SEO techniques. There are some techniques that are considered “black hat” or unethical and frowned upon by search engines. Some of these techniques such as keyword stuffing, hiding text or creating doorway pages may boost your page rank quickly, but once search engines catch on, your site will be penalized and may even be blacklisted and removed from search engine indexes.
2. Compete for keyword phrases, not single keywords. This will make your site more likely to show up in the search results for the most relevant search queries. Longer keyword phrases are better to use when you’re in a highly competitive market because short one or two-word keywords are hard to rank for due to the fact that so many people are optimizing for them.
3. Design your website to be SEO-friendly. This means avoiding the use of flash and optimizing your photos. Search engines can’t read flash. Search engines read the text content of a site and can read photos and videos if you optimize them. So be sure to have plenty of keyword enhanced text with some optimized photos to add interest.
4. Fill your site with great content. This is something that will make search engines and your visitors happy. Valuable, convincing content will increase your chances of a site visitor becoming a customer. Keyword-rich, fresh content will help increase your credibility in the eyes of Google and other search engines and your site will likely be awarded with higher rankings.
5. Remember that first page placement on Google does not happen overnight. SEO takes time and it’s a trial and error process. Always track your SEO efforts in order to decide which tactics are working for your business and which aren’t. If you are unfamiliar with SEO, look into hiring a professional to help you. Just remember, high rankings take time; don’t give up!