iMarket Solutions Blog : Posts Tagged ‘local search’

How your Offline Interactions & Expertise Impact your SEO

Friday, June 8th, 2012

As you receive calls to your business throughout the day, are you keeping track of what kinds of questions come up? Are you having your support staff and technicians report back to you on what your HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, or other customers seem to ask about or care about the most?

It may seem simple: if they need an air conditioning unit, being cool in the summer is important to them. But what questions did they ask? What confused them the most about the whole process of installation or repair?

Being aware of this information can help you market your services more effectively online. Once you have this information, you should pass it along to your representative at iMarket Solutions so we can incorporate this into your online marketing plan!

We recently heard from a plumbing client who saw an increase in calls regarding sewer flies. Our customer contacted us with a request to add a blog post about this subject, and to include some additional optimization for that term on their website. This is already improving the results our client has seen in leads contacting them for service!

What else can you do to improve your SEO?

While we are always on top of your SEO strategy at iMarket Solutions, you can always benefit your business by providing us with details which are specific to your location or expertise.

For example, you may have a page for well pumps and another for main water line repair. Which cities are mentioned on each page? Well pumps are more common in rural areas, so we don’t want to optimize those pages for your metro area cities. Is the information provided on your service-specific pages appropriate for the type of service being covered in the content?

We suggest reviewing some of your more specific service pages and advising your iMarket Solutions representative how we can better target each service for the most appropriate locations.

Local search is a major part of your online success! While we are SEO experts in the HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, and other home improvement industries, we always benefit from the detailed information you can provide about your business to make your site more unique and more effective!

Not an iMarket Solutions client? You are missing out on dominating your market – contact us today for a free consultation about your online marketing needs. We do the hard work so you don’t have to!

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Google Places has been replaced with Google+ Local! What does this mean for local business owners?

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

There have been a lot of changes at Google lately. The recent search algorithm updates have definitely changed how people searching on the web see results and find exactly what they’re looking for; this latest Google announcement is no different.

Earlier today, Google announced the merging of Google Places into a new aspect of Google+ called Google+ Local. Over 80 million Google Places pages have already been automatically converted to the new Google+ Local format, and more will follow.

The new format is much more user-friendly and will help your business be represented in a more powerful way. Of course, as with any change, you probably have some questions.

What does this Google+ Local announcement mean for your business?

The new Google+ Local listings are a way for you to begin to manage your local business listing with Google in a more meaningful way. Many industry experts believe that this will help solve some of the issues with listings needing to be reclaimed or corrected as often due to inaccurate information.

Is it going to be more work for you?

Not at all. If you are an iMarket Solutions client with ongoing SEO services, we will continue to manage your Google+ Local page just as we have with your Google Places listing. If you do not have ongoing SEO or are not an iMarket Solutions client, contact us to learn more about how we can help!

If you like to be hands-on with your local presence on Google, you can continue to manage your Google+ Local page through your normal Google Places login. Google does recommend that you create a Google+ Business page as they will soon release a way to connect the Business page with the Google+ Local listing. iMarket Solutions will be working on this process for our SEO clients.

Will I lose my reviews?

Your reviews will be migrated over to your Google+ Local page. The reviews will be attributed to “A Google User” until the owners of the reviews verify their old reviews can be attributed to their identity on Google+ Local. The good news is that Google will ask users to do this now that Google+ Local is rolled out.

Google will now be incorporating the 30-point review system created by ZAGAT (which Google acquired in September 2011). Reviews will be moving away from the star system to this new scoring system.

Will I lose my photos?

The photos that were part of your Google Places listing will remain part of your Google+ Local page. If you have user-uploaded photos, they will be migrated the same way as reviews.

Does this change how potential customers find my business in Google?

Your potential customers will be able to search for your local business as normal, and their experience will remain consistent whether they are searching in Google, or on Google+, Google Maps, or through mobile apps.

Other changes to expect…

  • You will be able to develop followers and interact with them through posts and messages on your Google+ Local page.
  • The new Google+ Local page is more visually interesting with photos and reviews given a more prominent location.
  • A new “Local” tab has been added for Google+ users making it easier to find local businesses like yours.
  • Google+ Local pages will be integrated throughout all Google search properties.
  • Users will have a more personalized experience with the integration of Google+ Circles to help highlight businesses that their friends and family have recommended. This means if you have a customer who has recommended you, their online connections will be more likely to see your business in a search for services you provide!

Overall, the migration of Google Places to Google+ Local appears to be a positive change for local business owners like you. Please do contact us with any questions about Google+ Local, or your overall SEO strategy for your website. We are happy to help!

For more information on the Google Places change to Google+ Local, we recommend Search Engine Land as a fantastic source of up-to-the-minute information!

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Serve your customers off site? Time to hide your address in Google Places!

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Google has stated that for businesses that service their clients off-site at a client’s home, or “on the road”, the address in Google Places should be hidden. As an HVAC, Plumbing, or other on-location service provider, your business falls into this category. This is definitely a big adjustment but one that is necessary for your optimum success in Google Places and local search overall.

Show your address or hide your address?

Prior to the last few months, it has always been key to have an address showing on your Google Places listing. This was one way you were optimized for the searches in your area for your business. However, we have been noticing some changes in ranking factors, and have had these changes confirmed with Google’s latest update to the Google Places Guidelines, as well as prominent industry information.

Google’s newly updated guidelines state, “If you don’t receive customers at your location, you must select the ‘Do not show my business address on my Maps listing’ option within your dashboard. If you don’t hide your address, your listing may be removed from Google Maps.

While we know that you are used to seeing your address on your Google Maps / Places listing, we are sure you don’t want to risk your listing being removed! If you are an iMarket customer, we have already begun to make this change for you.

What if my business has a showroom where clients do come to our location for service and purchases?

If you have a showroom, we can leave your address visible; however, in the future it may be something you want to change. We believe that Google is making this change across all verticals that are known for primarily serving customers at their homes or office locations, not at your brick and mortar address.

We are definitely doing some testing to determine the best course of action for clients who have a showroom. Let me know if you have a showroom and we can discuss your listing.

What if I have (or wanted to have) multiple Google Places listings for different addresses?

We are no longer recommending that you have multiple listings. On a single Google Places listing, you can specify your location and any additional cities / areas you serve. We have 2 options for this:

  • We can list all towns you service one by one.
  • Or we can select a certain radius (in miles) surrounding your location.

Both options will enable you to come up for searches in the areas you service without the need for a separate Google Places listing in each city or region.

If you have multiple Google Places listings we are recommending the additional ones are deleted so that Google does not have to remove them as spam. Remember, Google may remove the one you wanted to keep, and leave up your others, so it’s best that we choose to remove the right ones, and optimize the best one.

What can I do to help my Google Places page rank better?

You can add photos and videos to your Places listing as a start. If you’re an iMarket Solutions customer, you can send your photos and videos to us and we’ll take care of it for you.

Another post is coming soon with even more information about local ranking factors – stay tuned!

We realize this is a lot of new information, so please contact us with any questions you have! iMarket Solutions is 100% committed to you having the most successful online presence possible, and everyone on our team is happy to help you achieve your goals!

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Google and Bing: A Head-to-Head Review of Local Search Results for Service Companies

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

We’ve been reading a lot lately about how Microsoft’s Bing search engine compares to industry giant Google – and whether industry experts think that Bing has the chops to unseat Google from its top spot.

Certainly, there are some things about Bing that are promising.

In many cases, the user experience is better with Bing. Reviewers – ourselves included – generally prefer Bing’s page layout to Google’s. Bing seems to be able to put more information at the searcher’s fingertips than Google does, and it is more visually appealing. Bing’s results pages have more white space and a layout that is easier to follow and more pleasing to the eye.

Bing has also earned praise for its “Explore pane” with links to related searches, followed by the user’s recent search history, and an easy interface for limiting searches to a particular date range. We think many users will appreciate that last feature, because limiting searches by date can dramatically improve their relevance, and specifying date parameters is relatively difficult in Google.

Most of the search engine reviewers focused on more general searches. Of course, for iMarket’s clients, local search is key, so we did our own head-to-head comparison of the way the two engines perform in searches for local service companies.

iMarket’s home base of Burlington, Vermont, is currently experiencing record flooding, so we started with what’s currently top-of-mind for us: “plumber Burlington VT”.  Then, for something completely different, we tried “furnace Vancouver Canada”.

As with our general searches, we preferred Bing’s visual presentation of the information for both searches. In both cases, Bing’s local listings appeared at the top of the page. In one case Google’s local listings were positioned below a paid ad for a national chain (Roto-Rooter), and in the other, they were interspersed confusingly with national listings. We also thought that Bing’s maps, which had numbered blue circles showing the location of each plumbing company, was easier to read than Google’s “raindrop” icons with letters inside them.

But what about the quality of the information? In general, it wasn’t very different. Both Bing and Google’s local listings for Burlington-area plumbers included phone numbers, addresses, and map locations. Google offered seven listings, while Bing had only five, but both provided a link that we could click to get more listings, and those extra listings were fairly comprehensive. For furnaces, Bing offered five local listings, with an obvious link to get more listings, while Google offered only four listings with a less obvious way to get more.

Bing’s much-touted “Explore” pane was no help at all for our Burlington search. The only links it offered were to touristy destinations in and around Burlington. If we’re looking for a plumber, chances are we live here and don’t need to stay in a hotel, and if our basement is flooded, we’re probably not in the mood to check out any upscale local restaurants. For the furnace search, the Explore pane was slightly more helpful, because it contained links to major national furnace brands.

There was one other important difference between the results presented by Google and Bing: Google provided links to reviews when they were available, while on Bing reviews were conspicuously absent on the search results page.

We agree with the online marketing experts who argue that Bing has to be significantly better than Google in order to woo searchers away from Google in large numbers. And so far, at least for local search, Bing and Google (in our view) are about even.

However, Bing isn’t done yet. It’s just signed major deals that will help it compete in two major emerging areas: mobile and social search. We’ll talk about those deals next week and how service companies should react to them.

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