If I had a nickel…Detangling Your Local Google Presence

If I had a nickel…Detangling Your Local Google Presence

If you have ever hired a search optimization firm, local marketing agency, or an intern, chances are you have multiple Google accounts to your company’s name. Even if you are brand-new to the local search scene, if you have ever had your business’s name out there in the world, chances are you have a listing (or two) to get control of, so you can effectively market yourself in the local online space.

This can become a big mess, so to help us untangle it is none other than local search expert, Mike Blumenthal. In this second installment of our “If I had a nickel” series, Susan Finch and Stephan Hovnanian sat down with Mike to talk local search, where to focus your efforts, and what to stay away from.

The complete “If I had a nickel” series:

  1. Transitioning to a new web provider
  2. Everything you need to know about Local Search
  3. Making the most of analytics and web stats
  4. What you need to know about plugins, site performance, and security
  5. Image copyright, licensing, and doing the web & social the right way

Your Hosts:

Stephan Hovnanian is a web strategist and email marketer for Shovi Websites, author of the Google+ Pro Tips series of ebooks on Amazon, and host of a weekly webcast called Google+ Business Spotlight. Stephan distills the content and advice out there on the Web into useful and applicable ideas to help your business make the most of its online presence.

Susan Finch of Susan Finch Solutions has a background in public relations and advertising since 1986, and is a “gentle guide for clients trying new venues online.” She engages those skills as she helps create an online presence that will appeal to existing and future clients and/or investors. All these factors are considered before she constructs a suggested plan for clients. It goes way beyond an online presence.

Featured Expert: Mike Blumenthal (Google+)

A student of life, political economy, Google Places, Maps & local search. Loves cooking, x-country skiing and time with my family. Mike is an avid fan of things local (ie Local Search) which he writes about in his blog- Understanding Google Places and Local Search. Mike is currently a partner in three companies; a small design, hosting and marketing firm: Blumenthals.com, a training series: LocalU.org and a review management product: GetFiveStars.com.

Watch: If I had a nickel…

Below you’ll find a transcription of our discussion broken up by topic (although there were some important screenshares so it’s worth watching).

Be sure to grab our free gift for watching: a “get started” checklist for finding yourself and getting your business into the right directories.

Stephan: Hi everybody. Thanks again for coming, for doing this together with me Susan. This has been really great. Hope you guys were able to catch the last one with MaAnna Stephenson. We talked a lot about transitioning to new providers and things you need to be aware of. Some great knowledge in there. We’re beyond thrilled. Susan and I are totally…we’re geeked out to have Mike Blumenthal with us. He’s clearly one of the most respected and well known experts in local search. The guy knows everything there is to know. He doesn’t pull any punches. He says it’s going to be a great, great discussion around wrapping your arms around this. I think with that, thank you again Mike for joining us.

So let’s dive in. Let’s talk about how local search…

Mike: Let’s go over the first myth that I am somehow a guru. That’s the first myth we’ve got to squash right in the beginning. Idiot savant perhaps, that would be more appropriate. In fact, somebody referred to me as Professor Maps. When I ask them why, is it because I’m so instructive, I can teach people so well, or is it because I’m so pedantic? They say yes. Anybody who looked at maps and local as much as I did didn’t know something, then you’d have a problem. I spend my whole day staring at the damn stuff. At the end of the day you’d better know something. If you don’t, then you have a problem. If somebody spent as much time as I did at this, they’d be just as good as I am. The only difference between me and you and anybody else is the time we’ve devoted to a given project. I just want to be sure everybody gets that, there’s no difference top to bottom. That’s all.

Stephan: You made a great point right before went live about where Google local search has evolved. Let’s talk a little bit about the importance of that. I think it’s something that we need to know before we get into some other topics.

Mike:  I started local search back in the Yellow Page days, back when I had a small business. When Google came out with local listings in 2005 I threw away my Yellow Page books. For me, it was an epiphany that we would be able to look up any town, any business, any place. At that time, from 2005 to 2011, Google handled local search as a search result. Every 6 weeks they would literally reconstitute the world of both geography, of places, and of business listings. They would take all the data they had about a given business, a given phone number, a given address and cluster it using web technology. It was tremendously resource intensive. The problem was…well, it was more accurate than what the Yellow Pages did. It created these weird merge listings where one hotel would merge to another. There was a lot of dissatisfaction in the business community at that time.

In 2010 Google bought metabase, which is the foundational database for plus and places. It allows people to create relationships between the entities of the world, the people, the personas, the profiles, these things, the brands that exist in reality. The canyons and the roads and the businesses. Places have always had a special sort of meaning to Google even where they think…Google feels a strong obligation to get every place in the world accurate. When they brought places into plus, you have to remember, maps was a directory environment, plus was an advertising environment. There’s all different sets of rules. Merging these was a complicated process. That process has been going on for 2 ½ years. It’s, from my point of view, even though not pleasant from a business point of view, one of the great technical pivots of all time.

Google basically is driving this bus down the road delivering businesses listings and search results. They changed out the engine, changed out the tires, repainted the damn thing, and had musical chairs on the bus, all the while moving down the road to get where we are today, which is pretty near a functional, working solution. Only a few people fell of f the bus. Not too many. A couple people got run over. Hopefully they can get back on the bus.

It’s an amazing technical pivot to move from a web technology, web search indexing technology to database technology. They had to build all new underlying structures, underlying architecture, all new pipelines to move data into this thing as well as new user interfaces for businesses to add their data to it.

Like I said, local is different from the other entities. Google doesn’t really care unless you’re talking about sex, alcohol and guns. In places, they care about the accuracy of your physical data. There’s different standards that basically merge together to come to bear which is now people, places and things, which basically profiles place page, plus pages for business stuff, and brand pages, local pages. It’s an amazing transition.

I’ve watched it sort of from the sidelines, close to it. I’m a Google top contributor so that’s allowed me to see both the pain and get a little more detail back about what’s going on. They’re mostly there. They made a huge, huge change and now with my business I think we can hopefully move forward instead of two steps back, two steps sideways, one step forward.

Stephan: What do we have to feed Google as far as correct information and maybe where are some of the best places for that so we can at least get the good information out there in the right way? Maybe after that we’ll talk about ways we can get rid of some of the bad information.

Susan: And find ourselves too. Some folks don’t even realize they have a places page that they have a business page and that they have a YouTube channel. They don’t even know that’s been created for them with the help of Google wanting to be helpful. It’s tracking all of that down as well. Where do you want to start, which piece of it?

How does local search work, structurally?

Mike: Google stores each piece of data in a database. It’s a canonical place. They literally send that data wherever it’s needed. They send it to plus for a plus page, they send it to maps, they send it to glass, they send it to the front page of Google for the 7 Pack or the knowledge panel.  There’s a canonical set of data that sits in a database and Google basically provides a local as a service to any other Google product that needs it; my business, plus, whatever. Local is viewed as a service, it’s not really a thing. You don’t control that. Google perceives this local listing as critical. If they don’t believe the information you gave them, they’re going to check against other sources.

The way they assemble a local listing is they create what’s known as a cluster. They basically buy data from the top tier data providers. These are people who put together lists and verify lists. Info USA, which is Express Update, LocalEase, Axion, which is www.mybusinesslisting.com. They may also get it through other parties like Super Pages. They buy the lists and then they get data from you, they get data from user generated content that says this place is open, this place is closed by a map maker or maps. They have multiple data sources that they use as a primary reference to know that a business exists.

In fact, you know the other day they just started selling domains. My thought is it’s not a huge money play for them, but it’s a great place to get new business data, that new businesses are coming online and buying domains. Google is very concerned with keeping their data fresh.

They buy this stuff. They assemble it in a local listing. The best way for somebody to influence, there are several ways. One way is to make sure your data is clean in all the primary, secondary data suppliers. At the secondary data places, like the IOIPs, Yelp, Google typically will match the data there against known canonical listing, scrape those things for enhanced data, reviews, photos. They can’t do that if they can’t match it based on NAP (name, address, phone number). It’s really important that for any given location you have one consistent name, address, and phone number. It means that call tracking numbers have to be used incredibly carefully. It’s better not to use them if you don’t know what you’re doing. They can be used, they just have to be used carefully.

You really want this consistency. The problem with the local ecosystem that Google looks at is several issues. One is it’s not real time. It’s basically sneakernet. It’s real slow. Some of these people are moving to real time, like Yext, InfoUSA, and Google. There’s still a lot of delays in it. Also, once a piece of data gets into the ecosystem that Google sees, it’s hard to get it out. The problem is if Google sees conflicting pieces of data they may update your record. You’ve seen that notice on your local listing. “We’ve changed your listing.” Thanks. They got it from a place they trusted more than they trust you. Or worse, they’re going to split your cluster into multiple clusters. We all know the name for multiple clusters, right? It’s…you know…

Stephan: Can’t say it on YouTube.

Mike: Right. Can’t say it on YouTube. It would just not be appropriate.

Create the multiple listings at the same location. That’s worse because then the strengths that Google would have assigned a listing is diluted. You’re less likely to show in search. It’s less likely to show where it’s critical.

Step 1: do a NAP (Name, Address, Phone) Audit

It’s important that you start by doing what’s called a NAP audit. If you have a business location and you’re interested in using plus, you want to start by doing a NAP audit. A NAP audit is “Name, Address, Phone.” There’s three good sites where you can basically see what the other sites see about you. Moz.com/local, Yext, and a new site called www.naptunelistings.com. Now, caution, Yext may try to sell you something if you give them your phone number. Feel free to ignore them. They all offer services as well. They do a good job of reporting out where you are seen and how you are seen. It’s important if you find discrepancies, before you get started on this journey of search success, you’ve got to get the bad NAPs cleaned up or deleted. You need to start to talk to your provider if you move your way down through the top 20 or 30 top directories, horizontal directories like www.yellowpages.com or Yelp, as well as vertical directories in whatever industry you’re in. You’ve got to make sure it’s accurate there. If that’s inaccurate Google is not going to be able to cope with it.

That’s step 1 of this whole process is making sure that the ecosystem sees you.

Step 2: do a Map audit

The second thing is what I call a basic map audit. You go into Google Maps and you type your address into Google Maps. You see where the pin drops. There’s only four major mapping companies in the world. Bing buys from Navteq, Apple buys from TeleAtlas, Google has their own maps. There is Google, TeleAtlas, Navteq are here. Navteq and OpenStreetMap. You have to be sure that your street address resolves completely. Local is really a data set, your business is a data set layered on top of plot numbers layered on top of street geometry layered on top of the earth. If any of those are wrong you’re going to have trouble with Google search. You’re going to have particular trouble with driving directions, a critical part of this whole loop closing the sale. People can’t get to you, they can’t buy from you. The next thing I do is I go into Google. I go to here, I go to TeleAtlas, I go to OpenStreetMap, I type in the address. Make sure it resolves directly. Is it dropping the right point? If it doesn’t, you need to stop and figure out how to get that fixed. Each of those has their own process to fix it.

Step 3: do a Google Maps audit

You’ve done a NAP audit, you’ve done a map audit, now you need to go to Google Maps. I prefer the old Google Maps because it displays things lower left, little question mark you can switch to the old Google Maps. Type your business name and city and see how many show up for you at each location. Once you get your viewport in you can sometimes type the phone number in and see if there’s multiple listings at that phone number. Google expects one business per location, one phone number per location, one business name per location. Reality isn’t that neat. If you want to do well on Google you have to squeeze yourself into that reality.

The third thing to do is sort of do this map listing audit to see if Google has you. Then I’d move over to plus and do the same thing on the plus local search. That’s going to show you non-verified pages. What you’re going to see in Maps is what Google things are real locations. What you’re going to see in plus if you do the same search are plus pages. These may or may not be verified. It’s a slightly different view of reality and deal with it. With that, you can then rally forth into this wondrous new terrain of my business. Google my business and deal with the listing. Is that enough background?

Susan: Wow. I hope everybody was taking fabulous notes. You were giving marching orders.

Mike: Yes, that’s absolutely right. Marching orders! Get to work here! The rewards are huge! Getting on the front page of Google in a general search, getting a brand search to show your knowledge graph, these are incredibly valuable things. They don’t happen unless you do the basics. This goes even before finding followers, before posting on plus. If your local listing isn’t clean, neat, and tidy, Google doesn’t trust it 100%, you’re not going to make it on the front page of Google, which that is when you really have found yourself.

How do citations work in local search?

Susan: I wanted to bring up a comment/question by Chad Russell. Chad is asking, “How do citations affect Google’s local database?”

Mike: In the world of real things, citations are basically mentions of that real thing as opposed to web things where they use links. If you read the original Google patent, Google looks at newspaper articles for your business name, they look at blog posts, they look around for listings about your business. To some extent they are a critical part of the local search algorithm. They don’t function in and of themselves. They’re always best and most powerful when they’re linked on your brand name, your business name, where there’s just a straight link. In other words, you’re not looking for keywords and citations. You’re looking for straight up urls or links on your business name.

What’s happened over the last 6 months is prior to that people would go out and get thousands of citations in every little dinky directory. Most of those directories have been nuked, either by Panda, Penguin, manual penalties, and offer little value to your effort. The top 20 or 30 general directories, the industry directories, and more importantly, the truly local places like the Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau, these are places Google looks to. They have a concept in local called “location prominence.” It’s like a page rank. It sort of looks at authority pages and rates it and rates a local listing higher if they’re mentioned or linked to from these local authority pages.

Wikipedia, for example, is the nirvana of local listings. You can’t get it, but if you did, that would be a citation that is worth gold. A citation is a mention of your business name and/or phone number, with or without a link, preferably with a link. That’s what a citation is.

Susan: What I’ve noticed though is we’re also focused on this online…getting Google, getting Google…I’m so glad you covered Chamber of Commerce sites, city sites, and local organizations, especially when you’re brick and mortar and you want people to come find you. Don’t forget folks, send your press releases to your local newspaper, media so they have announcements and they can add it to their sites. See how to get your stuff added to their sites. As Mike is teaching us, it all factors in to that authority of you, your business, your address, making sure you have your address in those releases and information as well. Just tie it all in there, everywhere you can.

Mike: From my point of view, once you have about 20 done, your top vertical is done, then really the focus should be on local, location prominent sites. Even if Google were to deprecate every link in the world, these places would still send your business, right? There’s where your customers are. That’s really important. I think you need to rethink your chamber meetings. You need to rethink your donations. You need to rethink your boards you’re on. The new quid pro quo is a mention on a website. You don’t need a plaque. You don’t need a dinner recognition. What you need is a link. If you’re going to give a Little League t-shirt, great. Good marketing. Then also get on the Little League site with a link to your business. That’s better marketing. That influences both offline and online. You can find these new customers that are looking for you. The parents are your customers. Google sees it. Google counts itself.

How important is the 7-pack for local search?

Susan: You mentioned something about the 7 pins. Not everybody understands that term. Some of us do, some of us don’t. Can you briefly tell us what that means?

Mike: Sure, the most powerful property, the most powerful real estate on Google is the front page on Google. That’s where people do recovery searches if they’re looking to get driving directions. They do it on the front page of Google. It’s where they find your phone number, if they’re looking for your phone number. More importantly, it’s where people who you don’t know, aren’t your customers yet, find people to do business with. They go to the front page of Google when they’re ready to buy. Facebook is about conversations. Google+ is about conversations. Google search is about buying. When people go to that search engine and do a Google search, it’s usually with a very strong intent to purchase. When they look at jewelry in Buffalo, New York and you’re within what’s called the 7, Google will insert into the pages the local businesses that meet that criteria. Now that Google knows where most searchers are located, we don’t even have to add the word “Buffalo,” we just have to add the word “jewelry” and you will show up in this pin pack. There may be some Yelp listed above or below you. The pins are basically drawing from Google’s local database and going on the front page. It’s where most of your business is going to come from. If you’re looking for a business in the local market, that’s what you want to strive towards is showing up in that 7 pack.

Certainly, all the activities we’re talking about; making sure your record is clean, making sure you’re getting citations, then moving on to making sure you’re doing a good job socially, all those things contribute to you showing up more prominently there. Getting reviews, that sort of stuff. It all adds up. That’s the goal. People don’t go to plus looking for businesses. They don’t go to Facebook looking for a business. They go to the front page of Google.

Google is willing to give you a half page above the fold. If you go and do a search for “jewelry Buffalo” and you scroll over the little pin and go to the right they’re going to give you a big knowledge panel over to the right. If you do a branded search, “Barbara Oliver jewelry” they’re going to give you a great big branded knowledge graph panel to the right above the fold for free just if you’ve done all these things we’ve talked about up to this point, accurately and precisely. That’s incredibly valuable. There is no better real estate in the world right now.

Stephan: This is pretty impressive real estate on the front page of Google if somebody is looking for a brand name search, that’s for sure. I know you’ve done a lot of work on profile images, Stephan. This is where this really comes into play. You get one little image to create the eye candy to attract somebody. That little box, as you know, is very hard to craft an image for that looks good.

Mike: Now, if you go down in that search and you look at the bottom people are also searching for and you click on one of the competitors, Google will show that same profile image in a carousel at the top of the page. That even distorts the image more, makes it harder to find an image. That’s cropped differently than the image that’s show.

So when you’re doing your profile image, which is the most critical image, as Stephan has pointed out in a number of posts, really where you need to review it if you’re a local business is these two places, the knowledge panel and the carousel, to make sure it’s a compelling image. It’s the one shot you have at looking better than your competitor.

Do reviews on Google+ effect rankings?

Susan: We have a lot of great comments and questions that are coming in. I’m wondering if we can tackle a few of those.

Mike: Tackle them, yes!

Susan: One of them is from Jennifer Mortinson. She is asking, “Do reviews on your Google+ listings factor into rankings?”

Mike: Certainly there are…the answer is yes. Not just reviews from Google, but reviews from around the web. It appears that getting 5 or so reviews at Google will give you a certain ranking bump. It appears that getting reviews from other sites around the web that Google looks at will also do something similar.

More importantly, I always look at reviews as social testimony that you’re doing your job. 76% of searchers look at reviews and trust them being from total strangers. Their huge affirmation that a searcher who doesn’t know you is making a decision to choose you. Rather than thinking about reviews as something you want to get, you need to think about reviews as something you need to earn. It’s just like a link. You don’t want to buy it, you want to earn it. If you’ve earned it, you’ve done a good job and gotten a good review because you’ve done a good job. The review is sincere, covers your services, that’s different than going out and getting reviews for the sake of rank.

You can use reviews for a lot of thing. You can use them to track quality over time. You can help people find you better, know more about your business. Even get a bad review in that context, where somebody explains why you’re not right for everybody is actually a good review because it helps you qualify your customers. I guess I would look at reviews as certainly a ranking factor. I wouldn’t look at them as that being the goal. The goal is to get happy customers and to get new customers to make happy customers and have those people become your advocates online. That’s the goal. If you do that you’ll get reviews and you’ll get a lot of them.

Note on this, there is another recent patent that I’ve been studying called using driving directions to rank local entities or something like that. It appears when Google doesn’t have reviews they use your driving directions. That’s great. You can imagine that’s an alternative. Google is going to rank you whether they have reviews or not. I just think you need to take a right headed approach to reviews and not get too wrapped up in getting them.

Some recent research, which I haven’t published yet, I queried about 2,000 US American adults how frequently they leave a review for the local businesses. 56%, 55% said never. 22% said less than once per year. We’re talking 77% of American adults hardly ever leave a review. Getting reviews is hard. It’s not an easy project. Most people are not inclined…they love reading them. They love looking at them. They’re not inclined to leave them. You really have to do something…I’d say extraordinary…in your delivery of services to earn them.

Negative Reviews

Stephan: You’re 100% right. I appreciate you kind of reeling us all back in and trying not to focus on the mechanical/technical stuff of what we have to do and then just focusing on the why, being a good business and earning that kind of stuff. That’s way more important and pays off in the dividends.

Props for negative reviews. I know, even for myself, if you hear people explain why in a nice, thought out, professional, respectful manner and not just like venting, it’s really great information to find the right customer fit. For those of you who are getting reviews and may see some negative ones once in a while, be cool with it. Be cool with the fact that somebody cared enough to tell people about their experience. Hopefully in the context of helping others, make the decision to work with you or not.

Multiple (or separate) phone numbers – good or bad for local search?

Stephan: How important is having a separate phone number for each individual business in a single building? A couple of people were actually interested in that. Let’s talk about that too. Phone numbers, suite numbers, things like that, especially medical practices can get confusing.

Mike: Phone numbers, it’s sort of the key glue that holds a cluster together about a local business. You have a business name, address, city, state, suite number possibly. The distinguishing factor, from Google’s point of view, is phone number. In the ideal world, a local phone number is used to represent one local business and one business entity only.

Google understands this. I’m in an office building with a lot of lawyers. They’re all in the same business. They all have their own offices. They all have their own phone numbers. Trying to set up two businesses with one phone number is a death memo. Sometimes Google scrapes that data in because that’s how it’s represented in the ecosystem. They’ll scrape in the doctor as well as the practice with the same phone number. It becomes problematic when you…you can do it to a limited extent in some fields like in the medical field where it’s more common. If you tried doing that in anything other than doctors, your listing is unlikely to rank. Ideally, every entity you want to rank in Google you want to have your own phone number for. Reality doesn’t always meet that criteria. You want to answer it as that business.

In other words, when Google calls and does a quality check, and if you claim to be Beefeater’s Restaurant, they don’t want to hear you answering “Beefeater’s Downtown Deli.” They want to hear you answering, “Beefeater’s Restaurant.” Google does do quality checks. One of the things they look for is the fact that your phone number matches the name you gave them. You should have a 1:1 tie as much as possible between a phone number and a name. There’s a million edge cases, doctors, department stores. Most businesses fall into the situation of one name, one number.

Susan: I know with addresses Karen and I have been working on a work around adding a suite number even if there isn’t one. It can be two different rooms in the same building. Because it’s two businesses, two different phone numbers, because they shared one address it was still causing confusion.

Mike: The question I would have is really two different businesses. Are they two different legal structures? Two different accounting structures? Two different DBAs? Two different filings? A lot of people say, “I sell pants here, dresses there.” Those are departments in the business. I think as long as you really are two different businesses. Sometimes Google can keep those straight, sometimes not. The algorithm is kind of like a three year old with bad eyesight. It can’t always distinguish entities clearly from one to the other. If there is conflicting information coming in from the ecosystem, it may not allow you to separate those. You may have to pick one sometimes even if that’s not reality. If it is reality and you do have clean NAPs, clean signals, clean links, clean citations, clean reviews, you can probably do it. It’s got to be real. In other words, Google doesn’t abide by you saying, “I sell pants out of office A, skirts out of office B and I have…they both dial the same secretary. I’m two different businesses.” That’s a good way to get suspended.

As a note, there is a whole set of rules for Google locations called places guidelines. If you look them up and these are in addition to your plus rules. All the rules you know about plus, you have to add these rules on top of them. If you don’t follow them your listing will move from a verified local page to an unverified brand page, or whatever.

Centroid and location prominence

Susan: Mike, regarding location prominence. Can you explain to the folks how centroid does not equal city center?

Mike: The most rudimentary way Google looks at relevance, prominence, proximity as the three things that dictate which listings they show. That all comes under this location prominence patent. Relevance, one of the critical things about relevance is proximity. Where are you located? Where is the searcher located in relation to the business? Where is the business located? When you do a desktop search Google sort of defaults you to what they think you’re located. Because I live in a rural area, they frequently will have my default search area 50 miles away from where I live. When I’m on my cell phone they know exactly where I am. Both of those things affect search results.

As Linda (Bouquet) pointed out here, Google used to be in the early days of the algorithm, they viewed the city center as the point from which to judge all searches. They’ve gotten more sophisticated and now use the business focus, rather the business as the city center. If all of the car dealers are on the north side of the city, that’s really where Google defines as the center of that search for the desktop, not the center of the city. If you type in “car dealers Buffalo,” you’re going to see the center of that search being the weighted center where the car dealer is located, not the weighted center of the city physically. A lot of times they look the same when you do a search in Google Maps because historically business development occurred in the center of the city. Google’s algorithm has evolved beyond that. If you’re opening a new business, it behooves you from a Google local search point of view to be in proximity of other businesses of your ilk or prominence in local search now.

Stephan: That’s a really great point: the idea of being front and center, 123 Main Street, is less of an issue.

Does Twitter matter in business ranking?

Susan: Christopher Vogelman had an interesting question. “Does the Twitterverse matter in your business ranking?”

Mike: If you listen to Matt Cuts, he doesn’t acknowledge that social signals are yet used in many ranking situations. That being said, it’s the quickest way to get a link out there to get Google to scrape a link. It certainly has value. I think it has value because in the end, a successful Twitter campaign around content leads to successful interaction with that content on your website, which leads to successful recognition both with links and readers. In the abstract, it does. In the technical search engine sense, it probably doesn’t. Do I think…you have to do it as much as it returns in our life. Local and Twitter are two different…it’s very hard to make a Twitter campaign work in a local environment. It would work in some. It’s the rare local business that can really succeed on Twitter both driving traffic to the website and their business using Twitter. A few can, but it’s hard. It’s much harder than Facebook or Google+.

Which is our real goal: growing your business, or getting better rankings?

Stephan: I think a lot of the social proof and the social campaigning, it plays more of a part in generating buzz and conversation around your links, around your business that just broadens the exposure and visibility. Does it play directly into ranking? No. But, if more people are talking about you, that just increases the odds of maybe somebody local to you or influential in your niche to pick you up. That just has a bigger impact on your visibility. It isn’t all about getting on page 1. It’s about growing your business and generating business. Page 1 is part of it. All this stuff we talked about today is a big part of it. The cleaner your data, the easier it is to be found. At the end, especially when it comes to social, it is a big branding campaign trying to get a lot of conversation going about you.

Susan: My best advice to any business out there, if you’re trying…I had one client actually ask me years ago, “Can you remove me from Google?” because they didn’t like the reviews coming up. My advice to them? Be better. When you are better, people talk about you in a positive way. They share word of mouth, referrals. That’s the goal. Be the best at what you do.

How can people find you? We want everybody…

Mike: Do a Google search, for Christ’s sake. Do a Google search. Isn’t that how everybody finds you these days?


The complete “If I had a nickel” series:

  1. Transitioning to a new web provider
  2. Everything you need to know about Local Search
  3. Making the most of analytics and web stats
  4. What you need to know about plugins, site performance, and security
  5. Image copyright, licensing, and doing the web & social the right way
About Stephan Hovnanian

I own Shovi Websites, a website design and email marketing company located outside Boston. I spend my days managing websites and staying up to speed with all the latest trends across the web so you don't have to.

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