Need Help With Google Places - Call 310-910-1848

It is all here. Everything I know about Google Places. I will also be bringing you articles about what other people know about Google Places. There are videos to help you. We will direct you to other sites or videos if we think that will be even better.

But, just to be clear. Some of the secret to success has to do with writing skill, practice, analytical capabilities, marketing techniques, and internet savvy. If you would like to turn the work over to a pro, call me. I answer the phone. We can discuss your needs. 310-910-1848

Monday, August 23, 2010

Reviews of Local Business Just Got Easier: Google Business Reviews, Too!

No business reviews?  Not enough good reviews?  A big bad negative review on Yelp?  They can all effect your business in many different ways.  Now it's to the rescue is ready for use.  We've been talking about the cute Orange Dog for some time now, but after a huge effort on the part of the entire team here at Page1Listings, we are breaking out the champagne. 

What is  It is an easy way for you, the small business owner or marketing manager or consultant to generate local business reviews, and yes, the Holy grail of business review sites, Google Places business reviews.  We send you the necessary html or images and links to put the ShoutDog logo and link on your website, blog, Facebook Fan Page, or email newsletter. 

When your clients see the ShoutDog logo it will be obvious that you would like them to help out with a review of your business.  Now the best part.  When they click on the ShoutDog, the will be linked to a page specifically constructed for your business with easy as 1, 2, 3 instructions for them to create those golden reviews.

You will have a unique page that will specifically point out the business review sites that you care about.  These can be the large local search engines and directories mentioned above, or industry specific sites like AVVA for lawyers, for restaurants, or tripadvisor for hotels.  All your customer needs to do is click on the link to these business review sites, and they will go directly to the very page where they can say wonderful things about you.

Go to right now and sign up.  The sooner you sign up the sooner you can start to see your star rising up on Google Places.  You do know that part of your ranking at Google Places is based on how many reviews you have.  AND, not only how many reviews you have at Google itself, but they also give you cred for having reviews on other directories.   What are you waiting for?

Did you know that when your potential customer visits CitySearch or SuperPages looking for the kinds of goods and services you provide, they are twice as likely to call you or click through to your website if there are positive reviews about you?  And the reviews themselves can be the motivation needed.   At only $19.95 per month, it will likely only take one person to visit you or call you because of these reviews to more than pay for the monthly subscription. Business Cards

Special Bonus to sign up NOW!  We will also send you 250 business cards like these.  You can hand these out to customers at check out or to friends and business associates at meetings or functions.  What an easy way to ask a favor:  "Please help me grow my business with a review."  We want to help you get those reviews.  We will be posting other ideas and suggestions for how to use your ShoutDog as a massive review generator.  Get your bonus.  Go to

We are positioning ShoutDog as a proactive online reputation tool.  You may have already experienced a negative review on one of these sites.  The best cure to one or two negative reviews is five or ten or 50 good ones. 

Or maybe you've never been "flamed."  A flame is a really bad review that is more commonly written by a disgruntled former employee or competitor that a really mad customer.  But it has the same effect.  The best way to get ahead of a future flame or other negative review.  Have multiple good reviews already posted.  Either way, the answer is

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Reviews on Google Places: Now You, the Owner, Can Respond

Google Places business listings intends to be number one among all business listing tools on the web.  They have the right location to accomplish this.  The only thing left to do is provide such a robust environment for both owners and their customers that both will spend time, energy, and money here rather than at Yellowpages, Yelp, Yahoo, or other competitors in the online local search engine and directory world.

According to conversations I've had with managers at Yelp and CitySearch, and according to many articles on the subject by various pundits, the real competition is in the reviews.  And online business reviews are real trouble.  Flames from competitors, unreasonable expectations from consumers, and a propensity to complain and ask questions later, has resulted in lost business for otherwise excellent businesses.

Yelp has been at the center of the controversy, including various lawsuits on the subject.  They started offering owner responses several months ago.  Now Google is following that lead, and in a way that is very unGoogle-like.  They have given rules, recommendations, and even examples of do's and dont's for handling the responses.  And at least at first blush, they have made the process simple.  Could this be a forerunner of better customer care by Google in the future, or just a recognition that anything less might create lawsuits for Google?

In order to make a response to a review on Google Places, you must have claimed your listing.  Amazing, but true, there a millions of businesses who have not yet claimed their listings.  Once you have claimed your listing, you will see the reviews section on the Place Page.  There you will also see "Respond publicly as the owner."  Merely click here, make your response and click publish.
Google has posted rules for the review and response section as follows:
    •    Don't spam or post fake reviews intended to boost or lower ratings.
    •    Don't post or link to content that is sexually explicit or contains profanity.
    •    Don't post or link to content that is abusive or hateful or threatens or harasses others.
    •    Don't post or or link to any file that contains viruses, corrupted files, "Trojan Horses," or any other contaminating or destructive features that may damage someone else's computer.
    •    Don't post any material that violates the copyrights or other intellectual property rights of others.
    •    Don't impersonate any person, or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent your affiliation with a person or entity.
    •    Don't violate any other applicable law or regulation.
    •    Don't use comments as a forum for advertisement.
And google has posted their thoughts and ideas on what to say or not say when you post a response.

These are very common sense ideas.  You can see their suggestions here.

My thoughts are these.  Acknowledge and validate their feelings and concerns while not necessarily agreeing with their facts.  If you do agree with their facts, make it clear that you would welcome a chance to make it right.  If you don't acknowledge their facts, make your own clear statement of your position with a very "nice" tone.  In many cases, even if they don't have a leg to stand on, you can create great future goodwill with them and others by graciously offering to meet them somewhere in the middle.

Be sure to provide a response to every issue.  Sometimes a good review might contain a slightly negative element.  Profusely thank the person for their good review and use the guidelines above to respond to the negative part.

By far the best response to negative reviews is lots and lots of postiive ones.  Explore ways to generate positive reviews and make it a part of company policy to encourage such reviews. is one online company offering some methods for getting more reviews.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

SEM News: Google Places Local Maps Stats Reported by Blumenthal

What? You don't follow Blumenthal on SEO, SEM, SERP, and Google Places Local Maps. That would be like not following this blog. Ok. We are a bit deeper on the details and come at it from a pure marketing perspective. However, Blumenthal's blog is the source of insider stuff and the real Guru of the category.

Here's his latest stats for local search:

The Comscore Search report for June has been released. Google had 10.29 billion searches. If roughly the same percentage of searches (20%) had local intent as Google has indicated then there were approximately 2,187,200,000 searches in the U.S. on Google’s main search site last month that were local in nature.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Google Places Myth #6- A False Street Address is a Good Strategy

Google Places is a powerful tool that you can use to build your business visibility and vastly improve the Search Engine Optimization of your blog or website, IF YOU KNOW HOW TO DO IT! Like any new skill, using Google Places to it's best advantage requires practice, skill, reliable information and, sometimes, a little professional assistance!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Google Places Myth #9- Why Did Google Maps Drop My Listing?

My experience says that every time someone's listing is dropped it is a result of something done incorrectly. If you seem to be experiencing problems, you can call an expert to help you achieve a higher rank on Google Places.

Google Places Myth #10- A Website is Necessary to get Good SEO

You don't need to spend money on a great website to get great SEO. You can start out with a blog, and still reach #1 on Google Places. We offer professional help and are very successful at getting you highly ranked on Google Places.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Description is a Critical Element in How to Set Up and Optimize Your Google Places Directory Listing

You may have heard of the elevator speech where you need to tell someone in 4 floors enough about your  mortgage broker business to get your listener to ask for your card.  The description space on the listing form for Google Places Directory is only 200 characters, counting spaces, or about 40 words.  You need to tell your whole story in a way that is captivating and yet includes keywords.

Here's a video with much more to say on the subject.

Google Places Directory - Ten Tips on Getting Conversions from Google Places Business Listings

Getting your chiropractic office set up on Google Places is one thing.  Getting it on the outside MAP is the second thing.  But what if all that work doesn't cause the phone to ring.  No internet Marketing plan is worth anything if your resulting visibility does not result in conversions or actions taken.  What is a conversion?

A Google Places conversion is turning the impression into a visit, the visit into some kind of action, and the action into an order.  At any point along the way, the process can get hung up and the impression is wasted.  It is not unusual to see companies get 30 impressions per day with only 3 actions such as clicked a link to the website, blog, or other link offered, looked for directions, or checked out the coupon.   Google Places offers no method for finding out if someone calls your company on the phone.  Your staff should be asking every caller and visitor to the store how the person heard about you so that you can determine which advertising efforts are paying off.

What can you do to increase conversions:
  1. Be on the outside MAP.  
  2. Show up #1.  If this is obvious, sorry, but it needed to be on this list.
  3. Have lots of reviews.  Consumers assume (probably correctly) that number of reviews correlates with quality of the business
  4. Make sure you have a great first picture as it is the one that shows up as a thumbnail icon.
  5. Fill out everything in the listing in great detail per the tutorials and posts in this blog.
  6. Have plenty of action steps available.  Use links in the NewFlash section and the More Details.
  7. Offer a great deal in the coupon and in the NewsFlash
  8. Look over all the content and ask if this content would sell you on taking action.
  9. Make sure you website, blog, facebook or any other resource the client clicks to is a selling machine.  Does it engage, persuade, close, and capture the client.
  10. Watch your analytics and make changes based on results

Load it Up!- Google Places Business Listing "More Details" Section

Let's say you are a law firm using Google Places and you've filled out the rest of the form using all the ideas and suggestions in this blog or on the video series.  Now you are at the bottom of the page and you get lots of space to talk all about what you do.  You could put practice areas on the left and then list family law, criminal law, real estate law, and personal injury law on the right hand side. 

Or you could list family legal services on the left and divorce law, custody issues, spousal support, child support on the right.  You can also use this area to link your Facebook to Google Places or your Blog.  Just put in any URL you want to link.  You could also link an inside page from your website that was about a specific area of your business.  So using the law firm example again, you could put child support on the left and then put a link on the right that goes to the inside page of your website that talks about child support.   Here is a video that explains more detail.

Videos Recommended by Google's Official Site

Putting up a video is really easy.  Finally something that isn't complicated.  But where do you get a video? How do you get a video?   THIS video will give you several options including hiring us to create a video for you.

But if you don't have a video, you might find some on the web that you can use.  If you are an Orthodontist setting up Google Places  looking for videos to put up, you could search YouTube for videos on Invisalign or braces or other manufacturers of aspects of your business. There is nothing wrong with listing these videos on your Google Places as long as they are not your competitors.

Google Video Tutorial- Posting Pictures on Places Business Listings

The picture section of Google Places is extremely important; especially for grabbing the attention of the internet surfer.   Obviously, putting picture onto the places information section makes the whole presentation look much more exciting.  For a lawyer or doctor, a picture of the owner might be a good idea.  But for a jewelry store on Google Places, I would suggest a picture of a really nice ring.

The potential customer or client will learn a lot more about you from 10 pictures than from 10,000 words (or so the saying goes).  But the importance doesn't stop there.  Google counts those pictures towards your 100% status and thus it will effect your standing on the outside MAP.  If those two reasons weren't enough, your first picture becomes an thumbnail icon on your primary listing.  And if you have that picture, and it is emotionally appealing, you will undoubtedly increase the number of folks who click in to see the rest of your places site.  Here is a video with some more instructions.  You can also check out the pictures tutorial on the left side column of this blog.

Google Places Categories - Video Tutorial on Selecting Google Places Categories

Google Places has only one piece of advice for you on selecting a category.  The first one of the five allowed should be one of the options that Google Places offers in the pull down menu that appears when you put in a key word.  How do you decide which one to use?  What about the other four categories? These questions and more are answered in this video and in the Tutorial in the left hand column.  Some of the material is in both places.  A few things aren't. 

Google Places Directory: How To Claim Your Google Places Listing

I recently received an email from a blog visitor who astutely pointed out that I had never covered the beginning of the process.  Obviously, it is kind of hard to understand all the detailed inner workings of Google Places if you have not been able to find your business and claim it.

First, let's define CLAIM.  Almost all local search engines and directories (same thing to me.  I like to just call all of them LSE's), buy or otherwise acquire lists of businesses from various sources.  So when you try to find your listing for a Hair Salon or Barber Shop on YellowPages or Yahoo.local or here at Google Places, you might find that there is information about you appearing and you didn't do anything to cause that to happen.  When you find a listing of this type and you have not "signed up" with that LSE, then your listing is fair game.

By fair game, I mean that in many cases any member of the public can add to, subtract from, or change your listing.  This might be friend or foe.  You can well imagine the ways that your competitor or any other enemy might alter your listing for their benefit.  AND anyone can claim your listing.  They can say that they are the owner.  Now, each LSE has different ways to try and keep an interloper from claiming what is rightfully yours.  However, the best way to solve that is to claim it yourself.

There are two ways to do this.  Step one in the process is to look your business up on Google Maps.  Type in your business type and city (see first image below for Bakery Pomona) or business name and city (see second images below).  You will get a map most of the time.  If you see your name, click on more information if that is showing or reviews if not.  If you are not already listed, skip way down on this post to see what to do to create a new listing.

Google Places Analytics - Getting Maximum Benefit from Google Places

As a marketing consultant, getting tracking for any campaign is one of the greatest challenges I face when working with my client.  Whether it is a newspaper ad, Craig's List, a local trade show, an ad in an industry publication, or the use of a promotional product, most owners and their employees have a hard time remembering to ask "How did you hear about us," whether on the phone, by email, or in person.

Without accurate tracking information there is little hope of getting enough real feedback to determine the success of any effort.  Sure, you can look at the quantity of contacts during the campaign, or the total sales around that time, but these are subject to other influences, and therefore is not an accurate gauge.

Enter internet marketing.  One of the best aspects of online marketing is that many of the stats are automatically gathered by the advertiser or through attaching statistical tools to the back end of any online marketing ap.  So it is with Google Places.  And the huge results that can be seen in the analytic tool supplied by Google Places is one of the reasons I continue to point to this marketing product as the most important in the local internet marketing toolbox.

Here's the sad thing.  Most owners of small local businesses don't bother to check the analytics that are so easily accessible and free.  The wealth of information is huge, and can be used to impact future purchases, locations, phone practices, prices, couponing, event planning, and other online advertising approaches.

Google has now created a central location where you can access all of your Google products and tools.  Just type in  If you haven't signed in recently, you'll have to supply your id and password.  You will get something that looks like the above (although you likely don't have quite so many items on your page).

If you have claimed a Google Places business under this account, you should see Google Places as a link like the one in the first column on this page.  click that and you will go to this page.

Here is where you can start digging in to see who is looking for you, what they do when the find you, and what keywords they are finding you under, just to name a few. I will devote more time to this in a future post. For now - just go there and play around to see what is of interest to you.

The Google Places Coupon Can Help You Score Points with the Google Places Local Business Directory

The truth is, many consumers don't care much or even know about Google Places Coupons, but you can be sure that Google cares and will add to your "score" if you create a coupon for your Google Places directory listing.  Here's more on the subject in a short video.

Google Places Business Listing Secret - The Phone Number

In order for Google Places to rank your business high on the outside MAP, your name, address, and phone number need to be consistent throughout the web. We discussed how to choose the company name and address on tutorial videos 1 and 2. Now we will examine how to choose or determine the right phone number to use.

Google Places- Confirmation by Phone or Snail Mail? Tips and Tricks

You have just finished filling out all the blanks on the Google Places local business listing form.  With equal parts pride and wariness, you push the submit button.  Instead of the message you might be expecting that "an email has been sent to your email address.  Please open that email and confirm your listing by clicking the link as instructed," you are told that you will have a choice.

Your choice is to get your Google Places listing confirmation by phone or by postcard.  You are warned that it will take up to two weeks to get the postcard.  If you want to get confirmed by phone, you need to be ready to answer the phone listed on the form.  You also have the choice of providing an alternate phone for the purpose of this confirmation. 

  1. You are almost always going to want the phone confirmation.  Who wants to wait two weeks?  So if the phone confirmation is offered, click the little circle and continue.  At this point you will be notified that if you continue, your phone will ring right now.  It will.  And a robot will give you a 5 digit number that you will use on the form now in front of you to confirm your listing.  Easy, fast, no problem. 
  2.  If you choose to use the phone route, don't use and alternative phone number.  Don't ask?  Just always use your primary number
  3. When you press go, the phone will ring almost immediately.  If you have multiple lines, the call may be answered by someone not expecting a robotic voice to give a five digit number.  So, alert your staff in advance that the next call is yours.
  4. If you blow it.  If someone else does pick up, or if you get the number wrong, or if anything goes wrong, you can go back and resubmit, and generally you will still get the phone option.
  5. For reasons known and unknown, sometimes you won't get the phone option.  Go ahead and click the postcard option.  In two week or less you will get the postcard which will have the five digit code.  Go back into your listing area and put the number in to complete the process.
  6. After agreeing to the postcard method, wait an hour and go back to edit your listing.  Go to the bottom of the page and submit.  You may now get the phone option.  If not, try again the next day. 

#1 Google Places Business Listing Tip - Choosing a Name

Local SEO marketing guru Randy Kirk explains how to choose your company name when setting up your listing on Google Places. Even if your company already has a name, Kirk explains why you may need to change it.  This is the first in at least ten tutorial videos that will supplement the written information in our pages on this blog.

Video: How to Set Up Google Places - Choosing Your Address

Most local businesses that want to see more business from the internet, need to ensure that they are visible on Google Places. Each and every aspect of setting up your listing becomes critical in determining whether you get the results you want.  One such element is the address.  Wish it were so simple.  Just write down your address.  As explained in the tutorial on Google Places Choosing an address in the right column of this blog and expanded upon in this video, you might need to think a big more about your address choice.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Local Seo Optimization Gets a Huge New Option: Google Places Tags

Google Places local business listings just got a whole lot better.  

Now Google Places Tags offer SMB's the ability to stand out in a crowd for only $25 a month.  Here is a video that tells the story.