Google Places & Places Sponsored Tags

Google is taking a step forward by offering existing business owners of claimed Google Places businesses the opportunity to call and speak with a Google representative about setting up a Google Places Sponsored Tag. In an email blast that went out on the 21st of Sept., Google began a new kind of campaign (new to Google). One that encouraged people to pick up the phone and call them. Provided in that email was a phone number to Google places. When you call the phone number you get a voice prompt that starts with “Thanks for calling Google.” But unlike other Google numbers with no operators, and no dial by name directories, this number actually gives you an option to “press 1 for the next available agent.” Yes, Google is moving in a new direction. The Google Sponsored Tags should also be a good direction for their profits. At $25/month Google should make a killing off the 28 million U.S. businesses that Google estimates to exist. If 1% of those businesses add the Google Sponsored Tag, Google Places will generate $7,000,000 more a month. Plus, many of the tags will increase time spent on Googles pages which in turn means more impressions and should mean more revenues for the Google advertising network. But the real question now is…

IS GOOGLE READY TO TALK WITH YOU?

So, truth be told, I had this phone number a couple of months ago. Jessica, from Google places called me up and spoke to me. We had a great conversation. She listened to my concerns and questions intently. She gave me some excellent perspective on what Google Places was aiming to achieve. She even gave me Google Places phone number that I could call back on with her extension. (Without her extension, the Google Places number was useless at that time.) So Bulwark Exterminating launched the Google tags in Houston to test them out. A short time later, Tammy from Google Places called and spoke with me about our Austin location and starting the Google Tag there since it was now open to some additional cities. Tammy was pleasant as well and she too gave me the Google Places number and her extension. Well something did happen to one of my Google Places listings. Funny enough, it happened to the location in Houston, TX. Yes, sadly, the same location that they are using as a testimonial in their email blast.

Should a customer expect to talk to Google and get concerns resolved when they are only paying $25/month?

Thomas Ballantyne III

@Thos003- “Don’t mind me, I am just a pest control guy.”

Fueling Your Local SEO With Citations

Ranking well in the seven and ten pack takes more than just claiming your Google, Yahoo, and Bing map listings. There are actually many different factors to ranking well, but one of the biggest and most important, according to David Mihm’s local search ranking factors report, is generating citations to supplement your map listings.

What Is A Citation & Why Do You Want Them?

A citation is a reference to your local business. This reference includes your business name, address, phone number, and other relevant information to your business. Often times, citations will also include links back to your website, thus fueling your link building efforts and higher rankings in the SERPs.

The beautiful thing about citations are is the fact that even if it doesn’t have a link back to your website, just the mention of your business, including exact matching data (address and phone number) will help you improve your local search marketing results. In other words, these citations help you rank better for local search queries.

Citations can be references from big local directories all the way down to smaller more niche directories. There are many different places to get citations, but here are some of the more popular ones that you can and should start with…

There are some additional tactics to assist you in finding other citation opportunities. One of which is analyzing the competitions citations and spending time getting the same ones as your main competitors. To see where the competition is getting their citations from you must first enter the localized search query that you want to show up for. For example, I have done a search on Wedding Florists In Utah.

The first competitor listed in Flowers On Main. Upon entering their Google Places page, you scroll to the bottom of the profile to the “more about this place” section. Each of these are citations that are helping them rank number 1 for this local search query.

Going through one by one and getting these citations will help you level the playing field a bit. It will also associate you with your competitors as you go through and get them for all of those businesses listed in the “pack”.

Another great way to find loads of great citation opportunities is by using a tool that I have recently become familiar with, the Whitespark Local Citation Finder. All you need to do is enter a local keyphrase and the tool will compile a list of citation sources for you to start tackling. The only downside I have found with this tool is that it limits accounts to one per IP address. For those who work at agencies, you are going to need to register your multiple accounts from other locations such as your home or the local coffee shop. Other than that… this tool kicks some serious butt and saves a ton of time!

I’m sure that there are other ways to find great citations, so if I have missed some, I would appreciate some comments with other tips and tricks to finding citations and ranking better for local SEO.

Mobile SEO Is Just An Extension Of Local SEO

When most companies think about localized SEO, their first thoughts are turned to optimizing their map listings in the major search engines. The truth is optimizing and ranking well in the 7 and 10 pack map listings is not only great for local seo and driving traffic to websites, but great for mobile search and generating phone calls and driving foot traffic to your storefront.

When you really take a moment to think about it… most people these days  are opting for smart phones such as a Blackberry, an iPhone, or an Android phone to help keep them connected. In addition to staying connected, they are often times performing quick information searches while on the go. These searches are most often localized search queries to help them find quick information such as a phone number to a business or a good place to eat. If you don’t have your business set up in Google, Yahoo, and Bing maps, you might be losing many thousands of dollars of business that you might otherwise be attracting through mobile search.

For example, last weekend, I was in Park City, UT for my anniversary. When trying to find a place to get dinner, I did a quick search while driving around for Mexican restaurants in Park City, Utah.

After calling the first two restaurants and finding that they each had at least a thirty minute wait, Baja Cantina (the third result) had no wait at all… and boy was their food amazing! Had they not been 7 pack, they wouldn’t have gotten my business. Sad, but true!

Another way that people are using mobile search is by using their smart phones as a phone book. I mean, who uses the yellow pages anymore? It is often times faster to whip out your mobile and do a quick search for the local Home Depot than to go to the desk and pull out the phone book. Can you imagine what would happen if the local Home Depot didn’t have a map listing in one of the major engines? Chances are that the searcher would end up doing another quick search for the local Lowes instead of trying to navigate HomeDepot.com to find a number for their nearest location.

The truth is… mobile and localized SEO is getting too important to overlook anymore. These days, you have to be everywhere in search or risk losing loads of revenue to even the smallest competitors. It is advised that every business with a store front, regardless of if they have a website or not, should have their map listings set up and optimized properly. Doing so will help you be everywhere so when your potential customers come a knockin’ that they have the greatest chance of finding you and giving you their money.