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[box color=”blue-mute” type=”round” icon=”caution”]UPDATE: Google is now merging Maps, Places and Google+ into what they’re calling “Google+ Local”, so all features can be found in one place.[/box]

SEO

Your Google Places listing can be one of the most powerful web marketing tools available – second only to your website.  However, it is not enough just to have a listing.  You also want your Places page to appear as high on search engine results lists as possible.  For that to happen, you must be conscientious of your page’s search engine optimization (SEO).  Fortunately, you don’t have to be an Internet marketing genius to optimize your Places page.  Here are five easy steps to keep your Google Places listing SEO optimized:

Follow the rules.  As you probably know by now, Google is well known for taking serious measures to weed out things like spam, irrelevant content, and erroneous websites when determining its rankings.  Google Places is no exception.  When you create your Google Places listing, make sure you read up on Google’s content guidelines before you publish anything.  Breaking these rules means Google won’t take your page seriously when ranking it . . . and might not even let you play at all.

Third-party business directories.  Make sure you also list your business in other free online business directories, including Bing, Yelp, and Yahoo.  You can link your business directory listings to your Google Places listing to improve your page’s SEO.

Categories.  Google Places allows you to choose multiple categories for your listing.  However, it is advisable that you are picky about which categories you choose, for the sake of not appearing spammy to search engine spiders.  Instead, choose a couple of strong, concise categories for your business and stick to those.

Keywords.  You have the opportunity to dramatically boost your listing’s SEO by including strong, key-word rich content in your business description.  Make sure you do plenty of keyword research to find good, relevant keywords that have a strong web presence and that speak to your target audience.  Also, don’t make the mistake of stuffing your content with superfluous keywords.  When it comes to search engine rankings, your content should flow naturally and smoothly, and should ALWAYS make sense.

Your Places page images and videos.  You should upload as many images and videos to your Google Places listing as allowed.  Also, remember that search engine spiders cannot read images; therefore, you must tag your images with appropriate keyword phrases if you want them to count toward your search engine ranking.

Take advantage of everything Google+ Local has to offer! Visit http://kenivey.com for details.

The post 5 Easy Steps to Keep Your Google Places Listing SEO Optimized appeared first on Ken Ivey.

[box color=”yellow-mute” type=”round” icon=”caution”]UPDATE: Google is now merging Maps, Places and Google+ into what they’re calling “Google+ Local”, so all features can be found in one place.[/box]

Google Ads

As you may or may not know, a Google Places listing is almost essential to your business’ overall Internet marketing success.  Over 97 percent of all consumers use search engines like Google to find local businesses; therefore a Google Places listing can go a long way in helping you establish the strong web presence that is so important to businesses in this age of technology.  Google Places is a relatively new interface, and many businesses are still figuring out how to use it to its optimal advantage.  In addition to having a strong Google Places listing, you may also use Google paid advertising to increase its effectiveness.  Want to know more?  Here is a guide to Google Places paid advertising:

Google Adwords Express.  Google launched Google Adwords Express as a paid advertising solution designed specifically for Google Places listings.  Although many large, national and international companies have been using Google Adwords for years as a powerful marketing tool, Google Adwords Express makes it easier for small local businesses to advertise to their target market – which is precisely what makes it ideal for Google Places listings.

How to use Adwords Express.  You can access Google Adwords Express directly from your Google Places listing.  The Adwords Express interface makes it super easy for you to submit an ad and have it running in under five minutes!  Simply fill out some basic information about your business that you want in your ad and Google will do the rest.

What you get with a paid Adwords Express ad?  In addition to your business advertisement, which will show up to the left side of Google search engine results and on related partner websites, you will also get a distinctive blue pin place marker on Google Maps, to show people exactly where your business location is.

Who will your ads reach?  Your Google Adwords Express ads will reach local customers who conduct a search for anything related to your business.  For example, if you are an Italian restaurant in New York City, people who search for “Italian restaurant New York City,” “Italian food New York City,” and “restaurants New York City” will be put face-to-face with your business advertisement.  Additionally, people in New York City who simply search for “Italian restaurants” will be shown your ad.  This includes people accessing the web through their smart phones.

How much do Adwords Express ads cost?  This is up to you.  Google will provide you with an estimation of how many clicks to your site you will get with your ad, and will only charge you for clicks.  From there, you can set your budget, and Google will advertise within your specified budget.

Take advantage of everything Google+ Local has to offer! Visit http://kenivey.com for details.

The post Google Places Paid Advertising appeared first on Ken Ivey.

[box color=”blue-vibrant” type=”round” icon=”caution”]

UPDATE: Google is now merging Maps, Places and Google+ into what they’re calling “Google+ Local”, so all features can be found in one place.[/box]

google places listing

One very important tool that your business should have in its Internet marketing arsenal is a Google Places listing.  Not only is Google Places free and easy to use, but it is also one of the most prominent and powerful entities on the web when it comes to business advertising.  As a matter of fact, it is safe to say that Google Places has completely taken over the yellow pages market, making that bulky book a thing of yesterday.  Your business should be taking advantage of all Google Places has to offer, and that begins with a complete listing.  Want to know how to get the most out of your Google Places page?  Here are seven requirements of a Google Places listing:

A Google account.  Before you can set up a Google Places listing, you must first have a valid Google account.

Your business name.  It is required that you list your business name exactly as it is on your business license – no exceptions.  This means that you cannot place keywords into your business name, no matter how tempting it is.

Business address.  Your business address must be listed exactly as it appears on your business license (or, how you would list it on any business correspondence).

Business telephone number.  You must list a valid, verifiable business phone number.  Be sure to include the area code.

Proof.  Before Google will publish your Places page to the web, you must provide proof of the accuracy of your business information.  This may be in the form of a business card, an advertisement, or a verifiable phone number.

Compliance.  Google sets some stringent guidelines when it comes to content, and you must comply with these guidelines, or else risk being blacklisted by Google altogether.  Google Places content guidelines address everything from copyrighting laws to pornography, and can be accessed through Google Places support (on the website).

Completeness.  Although it is not exactly necessary that you complete each and every space on your Google Places listing in order to publish the page, it is absolutely necessary that you fill in all the blanks (even the optional ones) if you want to score a 100 percent.  A perfect score is necessary to earning a high Google search engine ranking, so make sure your listing information is complete.

Take advantage of everything Google+ Local has to offer! Visit http://kenivey.com for details.

The post 7 Requirements of a Google Places Listing appeared first on Ken Ivey.

[box color=”blue-vibrant” type=”round” icon=”caution”]

UPDATE: Google is now merging Maps, Places and Google+ into what they’re calling “Google+ Local”, so all features can be found in one place.[/box]

Google Policy

Your Google Places listing can be a very valuable tool when it comes to web marketing and establishing a strong Internet presence.  However, there is a right way and a wrong way to use your Google Places listing.  For this reason, Google has outlined certain policies regarding your listing content, and you must adhere to these policies if you are to use Google Places to its optimum potential.  Here is a guide to understanding Google Places content policies and why it’s important to follow them:

Your business listing.  You must list your business name, location, and contact information EXACTLY as it is on your business license.  You may not place keywords, taglines, or other marketing phrases in your listing.

Illegal activities.  You cannot advertise anything illegal through your Google Places listing, or use your listing as a means to discuss or conduct illegal business practices.

Violent or bullying behavior.  There should be absolutely no content on your Google Places page that could be considered threatening to other people, and your page content should not represent violent or bullying behavior of any sort.

Pornography.  Anything considered obscene, sexually explicit, or otherwise indicative of graphic sex is strictly prohibited on Google Places.  That includes any type of nudity.

Misleading representation.  You may not impersonate a person or business through your Google Places listing, or otherwise mislead people about the nature of your business.  This even pertains to images and videos you upload to your listing, which must be directly related to your business.

Malicious content.  Things like Trojans, password phishing scams, spam, worms, and any other type of harmful, malicious, or threatening content are not allowed in Google Places listings.

Copyright infringement.  You must respect all laws pertaining to the protection of intellectual property.  That means you cannot use copyrighted materials on your Google Places listing without proper permission.

Review content.  You cannot remove a review yourself, but you can flag it as inappropriate, in order to request a review by Google.  Google will remove review content that is proven to be spam, off-topic, illegitimate, inappropriate (according to general Google Places content policy), or unlawful.

Why follow these policies?  Simply put, Google Places content policies were designed to enhance the user experience, which ultimately ensures the success of your listing and improves your bottom line.  Not following these policies jeopardizes your standing with Google, and could also alienate those visiting your Places page.  Better safe than sorry, right?

Take advantage of everything Google+ Local has to offer! Visit http://kenivey.com for details.

The post Google Places Content Policies and Why It’s Important to Follow Them appeared first on Ken Ivey.

[box color=”navy-mute” type=”round” icon=”caution”]UPDATE: Google is now merging Maps, Places and Google+ into what they’re calling “Google+ Local”, so all features can be found in one place.[/box]

Online Reviews

Your business’ Google Places listing is an integral part of your online reputation, and is an invaluable tool when it comes to the Internet marketing of your business.  One essential factor that contributes to the success (or lack thereof) of your Google Places listing is customer reviews.  In order to make the most out of your Google Places listing, you should have plenty of relevant, high-quality customer reviews.  How do you handle the reviews aspect of your Google Places listing?  Here are some tips for how to get and respond to Google Places reviews.

Getting Reviews:

Ask for them.  This is the simplest way to get Google Places reviews.  If you have satisfied customers or clients (and you should!), then make it a point to ask them to visit your Google Places listing and submit a review.  Remind them that posting a review to your listing is easy: they simple click on the “Write a Review” button at the top left-hand corner of your listing and type away.

Your Google Places listing link.  Google Places provides you with a personalized link that you can send to your email or snail mail list to direct people to your listing and ask for reviews.  You can also include your link on all of your business correspondence, advertisements and marketing materials.

QR codes.  Generate a QR code linked to your Google Places listing and put it on anything and everything related to your business that your customers may see, along with a simple request to visit your listing and write a review.  QR codes will take any smart phone user directly to your Google Places listing with a quick and easy scan.

Third-party sources.  List your business in directories like Yelp, Bing, Yahoo! Business listings, and Foursquare and all reviews submitted to those sites will automatically link to and be listed on your Google Places listing.

Responding to Reviews:

Negative reviews.  It never fails that some people simply won’t be happy with your business, no matter what you do.  It is important that you preserve your business’ reputation by responding to these reviews promptly and diplomatically.  Make a public attempt to resolve any issues, and express your perspective in a way that is neither self-justifying nor insulting to the customer.

Positive reviews.  Thank your satisfied customers for their support, and offer them incentives to keep coming back.  By offering coupons and referral rewards publicly, via the Google Places listing forum, you are encouraging potential customers to give you a try.

Take advantage of everything Google+ Local has to offer! Visit http://kenivey.com for details.

The post Google Places Reviews: How to Get Them and How to Respond to Them appeared first on Ken Ivey.

[box color=”purple-vibrant” type=”round” icon=”caution”]UPDATE: Google is now merging Maps, Places and Google+ into what they’re calling “Google+ Local”, so all features can be found in one place.[/box]

Google’s recent announcement of the absorption of Google Places into Google + Local sent a flurry of panic throughout the Internet business community.  After all, Google Places was known for being a very powerful tool for businesses concerned with reaching the web crowd.  Fortunately, adapting to the new Google + format is relatively simple, and customers can still leave reviews quickly and painlessly.  Here is a brief rundown of how to leave a review using new Google + Pages:

Create a Google + account.  If you haven’t already done this, then it is time to create your Google + profile.  That is because reviewers can no longer post anonymously.  This is very advantageous to businesses, as it deters spammers and malicious reviewers.  Head over to the Google + page for easy, step-by-step account set up.  You must sign into your account in order to leave a review.

Visit a business’ Google + page.  From there, you will be able to find a “Write a Review” button, located in the upper right hand corner of the screen, which you can click to get started on your review.

Choose your user ratings.  Now, instead of leaving stars when you review a business, you will have to grade the business on a scale of 0 to 3, for a variety of factors related to the business (food, customer service, and atmosphere when reviewing restaurants, for example).  This rating system, based on the Zagat scale, is more comprehensive and reveals more granular rating nuances.

Write a review.  Underneath the user rating section, there will be a text box in which you can write and edit your review.  Google recommends being as specific as possible about your experience with the business in question.  Include helpful advice for customers who may be using your review to assess the business.

Publish your review.  Once you are satisfied that you have rated the business appropriately, and have looked over the written portion of your review to make sure you have conveyed what you want to about the business, it is time to publish it to Google +.  This part is simple: just click the “Publish” button at the bottom of the page.  Your review will then appear on the business’ Google + Local page, beside your Google + screen name and photo.

Take advantage of everything Google+ Local has to offer! Visit http://kenivey.com for details.

The post How to Leave a Review Using New Google + Pages appeared first on Ken Ivey.