Posts Tagged ‘local search’

How Does My Website Look on an iPhone, Droid or Other Smart Phone?

November 6th, 2012

iphone home screen

If you don’t know how your website looks on an iPhone or any other smart phone, you REALLY need to find out.  Research shows that there are now 1 billion smart phones.  Imagine the number of potential mobile searches.  Well, you don’t have to imagine.  Approximately 4 million web searches are performed every day, and according to Google, approximately 20% of its searches are mobile.  We have found with our clients that 20 to 25% of their visitors are a result of mobile search. What does this all mean?  That you need a website that not only looks great on an iPhone and other smart phones, but that is also easy to navigate so you keep people on your site and place the information they are looking for at their fingertips making them customers.  There are a few ways you can achieve this.

Mobile Versions of Your Website

Mobile Website Theme

Mobile Website Theme

If your website was built in WordPress, Joomla or the e-commerce platform Shopify, you can create a mobile version without having to touch a single piece of coding.  You simply add a WordPress plug-in, a Joomla extension or a Shopify mobile theme and your visitors will see a simple, easy to navigate mobile version when they visit your website from a smart phone.  Your desktop version remains the same.

Mobile Website

Mobile Website

Mobile Sites

more complex websites, it may be wiser to create an entirely separate mobile website.  Larger companies such as Target and Walmart utilize this concept.

Clean Website Design

Clean Website Design

Clean Looking Website

your website is not built in open source platforms such as WordPress or Joomla and it does not make sense to create a separate mobile website, make sure that you have a clean, easy to navigate website. This will help keep visitors from hitting the back button.

Mobile search is on the move, make sure that your website keeps pace.

List of Free Online Directories

February 15th, 2012

Make Sure Your Company is On Them

If you are a small local business, it is important that prospective customers can find you when they do a local search, ex. “farm market vernon nj or bookkeeping chester ny.” Adding your business to free online directories is a great way to enhance your web visibility.  Take a look at the graphic below.  Because of online directories, our client is in EVERY single result on the first page of Google for the term preschool pine island ny.

Local Directory Graphic

Our Top 10 – OK 13 – List of Free Online Directories

You don’t need to upgrade your listings in online directories to gain a benefit.  All of the directory listing results in the graphic with the exception of one are FREE basic listings.  Some directories play a greater role in visibility than others.  Here is our top 13 list of free online directories – not in any specific order – that you should submit your business to:

  • Google Places
    Yahoo Local
    Bing Local
    Insiderpages.com
    Citysearch.com
    Local.com
    Localeze.com
    Superpages.com
    Yelp.com
    Merchantcircle.com
    Yellopages.com
    Yellowbook.com
    DMOZ.org
  • We recommend that you also submit your business to any local, regional and industry related directories.  Some of these may require a fee, such as warwickinfo.net in our graphic, but their visibility may make the expense worthwhile.

    Google Places PO Box Update

    February 9th, 2012

    PO Boxes Picture

    As we covered in our previous post Can I Use a PO Box As My Google Places Address?, Google does not approve of using a PO Box as an address in you’re your Google Places listing. Google reaffirmed this position in an update to the Google Places Quality Guideline stating:

    Do not create a listing or place your pin marker at a location where the business does not physically exist. P.O. Boxes are not considered accurate physical locations. If you operate from a location but receive mail at a mail box there, please list your physical address in Address Line 1, and put your mail box or suite number in Address Line 2.

    Thankfully, this revision makes it easier for businesses who receive mail via PO Boxes rather than at their physical location. So while a PO Box cannot be your sole Google Places address, it can now be included in your address – hopefully without any issues.

    Claiming Google Places Listing

    December 15th, 2011

    Although businesses have been able to claim their Google Places Listings since 2005, the number of businesses claiming them since April of 2010 is tremendous. Over 1 1/2 years ago, only 4 million listings had been claimed. Last March the number jumped to 6 million, and now just nine months later the number has jumped to 8 million. According to Google, that is 16% of all the business locations throughout the world.

    A Google Places listing doesn’t just include your address, phone number and a link to your website. You can describe your services and products and upload logos, pictures and videos. Customers also have the ability to write reviews, which can greatly help with your rankings.

    Claiming Google Places Graphic

    If you haven’t claimed your Google Places listing, what are your waiting for. It is FREE web visibility.

    What are Boost Ads?

    May 6th, 2011

    The replacement of Google Tags?

    Now that Google has officially retired Google Tags, if you were a Tags user have you received a call from a Google representative offering Boost Ads? Some of our clients have and they are asking us, “Just what are boost ads?”

    In case you are wondering the same thing, here is a brief overview:

    Boost Ads are just that – ads. Similar to Google AdWords, you pay every time someone clicks on your ad. Unfortunately you may not realize this when a Google rep calls you to try to convince you to start a Boost campaign. One of our clients was told it was free and as the rep walked our client through the set up process he then said it was pay per click. When our client questioned the Google rep, he said that pay per click was after he gave the first $100 free. IT IS pay per click.

    How do Boost Ads work?


    Unlike AdWords, Boost Ads are locally based and work together with your Google Places listing. If you are a former Google Tag user, you already have a Places listing. If you need to create one, visit www.google.com/places.
    Adding Google Boost to your Places listing allows you to advertise on Google and Google Maps, including mobile devices. You set up a monthly budget and create copy for your ad and Google does the rest, including determining what search terms will trigger your ad to be shown and your bidding to have your ad included in the search results. The terms are selected based on your Places listing categories. Google has assigned a cost per click for each search term, which you pay every time someone clicks on your ad.

    What information is displayed in a Boost Ad?


    Google uses information from your Places listing – your business name, address, phone number, a short description of your business, a snippet from your Place Page, and a link to your Place Page.

    Where are Boost Ads displayed?


    Similar to AdWords, in a google.com search, Boost Ads are displayed either above or to the right of the search results. In a Google Maps search, they appear above the search results. If your business appears in the organic Places listing results, your Boost Ad will appear in the ads section with a red marker and that red marker will appear on the corresponding map. If your business does not appear in the organic Places results, your Boost Ad will still appear in the ads section, but with a blue marker.

    Will a Boost Ad help my organic Places listing rankings?


    No. Boost Ads appear in the sponsored ads section – they don’t affect what businesses appear in the organic Places listings.

    Boost or AdWords?


    If you don’t have the time or the inclination to learn how to create and manage an effective Adwords campaign, or don’t have an Internet Marketing company you can rely on to do so for you, Boost is an option for local advertising. But keep in mind that it has limitations. AdWords provides more options and controls – keyword selection and bid control, local AND national targeting, advanced reporting and different ad formats such as video, display and more – than Boost offers.

    What Happened To Google Tags?

    April 21st, 2011

    Those bright yellow Google Tags that highlighted your business will soon be history.

    According to an email from Google, the company will be retiring the tags on April 29th. If you currently run a Google Tags campaign and you didn’t get the email – hopefully you will – let this posting serve as your notice. While we received an email notification for one of our client’s, we did not receive one for our own account. Instead, we received the following email:

    According to an email from Google, the company will be retiring the tags on April 29th. If you currently run a Google Tags campaign and you didn’t get the email – hopefully you will – let this posting serve as your notice. While we received an email notification for one of our client’s, we did not receive one for our own account. Instead, we received the following email:

    “This is to notify you that the following offers in your Google Places account will expire in 13 days on 4/30/11.

    15% Off SEO Services

    We are sorry to bother you but we thought we’d let you know early, in case you wished to extend their lifetime or replace them. Please visit Google Places to extend the expiry date of your offers or to replace them with new ones. After expiration, the offers will no longer be displayed until they are renewed.

    Thanks,”

    Kind of confusing, huh? Perhaps you also received this email. But it is official. The Google Tags will soon be no more. Once we logged into our Google Places account, there was a notification up top saying:

    What Happened to Google Tags?

    What Happened to Google Tags?

    It appears that Google is trying to push its new Google Boost – a very simplified version of AdWords that you supposedly “don’t” have to manage, in place of Tags, which will make them money (as Google Tags was a nominal fee), but cost you more. Google mentioned Boost – and even offered a $100 Boost credit for Tags users for the month of May – in its email and in our Places dashboard. When Google first started Tags, it offered its users a free month credit, i.e., $25. So it seems Google wants you to spend at least $100 per month on Boost.

    Google Tags worked well for our clients, both in terms of visibility and cost of conversion. It’s a shame that it will no longer be available.

    So if you notice that your Google Tag is no longer showing, or if you finally decided to try Google Tags and logged into your Places account and see no option for it, you will no longer have to wonder what happened to Google Tags.

    Google Hotpot Reviews Now Rolled Into Google Places

    April 12th, 2011

    Hotpot is a recommendation engine that displays reviews and ratings of local businesses and establishments. Until last week, Google Hotpot reviews were integrated with Google Places in the iPhone and Android Google Places apps when users were searching Google Maps or Google.com. You set a geographical location and local reviews were displayed. Now Google has rolled Hotpot into Google Places.

    According to Google, the Hotpot “community has quickly expanded to millions of users who are rating more than one million times per month and enjoying a truly personalized view of the world.” So they are making Hotpot a permanent part of Google Places. They also plan to add more features to Google Places to make it even easier to rate, discover and share.

    How does merging Google Hotpot Reviews into Google Places affect you?

    If you have a Google Places account, make sure it is complete and optimized. If you don’t have one, create one. You have to be found in order to be reviewed!

    Google Places Mobile App Improvements

    February 25th, 2011

    Over the last few months, Google has been making it easier for users to find local businesses on their mobile devices. Last month it released the Google Places iPhone App. This month, it has launched an “open now” search filter –available on Droid and iPhone in the US – so your results only show currently opened businesses. These hours are based on a business’ Google Places Listing – just one more reason to make sure your listing is complete and accurate.

    Droid and iPhone mobile users can also filter their Google Places search by star ratings and distance as well as enjoy some additional enhanced features – images, reviews from around the web, and larger buttons to click to view a map or directly call a business.

    With continuous Google Places Mobile App improvements we can’t stress enough the importance of robust Google Places Listings.

    Why do I need a mobile website? One important reason (among others) is because in the last year Google has seen a 400% increase in the number of mobile searches.

    February 14th, 2011

    Last week Google held its ThinkMobile event. The statistical insights it provided highlighted how big and powerful mobile search is and how much bigger it will become. As mentioned above, Google reported a 400% increase in the number of mobile searches in the last year. In fact, they say currently about 20% of its searches are mobile searches.

    As Google showed, the stats are even more powerful for local businesses.

    Slide from Google ThinkMobile Event

    Slide from Google ThinkMobile Event

    And the demand for smart phones is ever increasing. In took only 17 hours for Verizon iPhone pre-orders to sell out. Analysts estimate that Apple will sell 9 million to 12 million iPhones on Verizon’s network alone this year. Add to that, Nielson’s estimate that by the end of 2011, 1 in 2 Americans will have a smart phone

    Why do I need a mobile website is no longer really the question. The real question today is “How quickly can I create one?”

    Can I Use a PO Box as My Google Places Address?

    January 31st, 2011

    Clients with home businesses often ask if they can use a PO Box as their address in the Google Places listing. The short answer – not a good idea.

    Google has seemed to waffle back and forth in this area. When Google Maps was first created, businesses without a brick and mortar address could not create a business listing because the Google Map was unable to display a listing without a pinpoint address. Then Google Maps started incorporating business listings from data partners and began showing a floating dot, rather than a pinpoint, to represent those businesses with no “actual” address – but that information had to come from data partners rather than a listing.

    When confronted with how businesses with no brick and mortar address could get on Google Maps back in 2008, the Google Earth VP suggested that those businesses get a PO Box. Hence, people started doing so. Acknowledging that not all businesses have brick and mortar addresses, in April 2010, Google rolled out the ability to add service areas to your listing AND hide your address.

    A few months later Google seemed to do an about face. In a December 2010 blog post on tips for creating a business listing in Google Places, a Google rep wrote:

    “Google Places is meant to facilitate customer interaction with brick-and-mortar businesses and service providers. Therefore, the business owner or employee who is officially authorized to represent their particular business location must have a physical address in order to comply with our guidelines.”

    The guidelines the rep is referring to state: “P.O. Boxes are not considered accurate physical locations. Listings submitted with P.O. Box addresses will be removed.

    Some of those listings have been removed and some have not. But there are plenty of Google Places Help questions out there regarding people being penalized for using a P.O. Box as an address.

    What are your options? Some places let you get a P.O. Box that is not listed as a P.O. Box address, but rather as a suite number. Use your home address but don’t display it. Try to partner with another business to use their address – but remember that there cannot be two businesses at the same address so you would need to have a suite number.

    Can I use a PO Box as my google places address?
    If you want your Google Places listing to be shown, DON’T use a P.O. Box!