Tag Archive | "Business"

What do you do if Google My Business doesn’t understand your business?

Pop-up shops, mobile by design, are legitimate businesses but Google has no easy way to help you find them.



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Millions of fake Google Maps listings hurt real business and consumers

Google says it is working on it, but is still positioned to profit as local businesses claw back visibility with paid ads.



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Google My Business adds more branding tools, introduces searchable @shortnames

The top 5% of local businesses in each category will also be eligible for a new “Local Favorite” badge.



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How to Guard Your Google Business Profile from Becoming a Running Joke

Posted by MiriamEllis

When customers walk into your place of business, phone you, or reach out to you via email or social media with a question that’s clearly a lead, you’d never, ever answer:

“Who knows?”

But it’s exactly this, and several related scenarios of absurdity, that have resulted from Google positioning itself as the dominant middle man between customers and local brands while failing to adequately communicate or enforce product policies.

Examples of Google Business Profiles gone bad are often comical, but it’s no laughing matter for your business to shed revenue for the sake of some jester’s joke. Then, spammers jump into the game, and that’s about as humorous as hitting your funny bone. And, sometimes, it’s even somebody on your own staff or a marketer you’ve hired who goofs.

Good local companies work so hard to develop exceptional customer service and a sterling reputation, and the Google Business Profile can brilliantly showcase both when carefully curated. But lack of vigilance over five key sections of this most visible online asset can cumulatively undermine offline goals.

Today, let’s look at some serious gaffes, get you set up to mitigate them, and put a watchdog mindset in your local place of business.

Naming nonsense

One of my favorite Local Tech Leads at Moz, Robert Reis, recently pointed out to me that Google’s sternest local guidelines actually reveal their greatest vulnerabilities. This is certainly true when it comes to Google not wanting brands to keyword stuff business names, because it so clearly appears to impact local pack rankings. Take a look at this all-too-common tomfoolery:

Credit: @DarrenShaw_

Then, there are other cases in which a business listing can be maliciously edited or hijacked by a competitor, an angry customer, or another third party. In this example, not only has the business name been edited, but the website URL has been pointed to ripoffreport.com:

Credit: @keyserholiday

What to do:

Customers may laugh, but certainly, they will not trust business names like these. If someone in your own company has been keyword stuffing, show them Google’s explicit guidelines regarding formatting names to match real-world business titles and edit the name to conform to the rules. Any other course risks losing customers and being reported by the public to Google for a violation.

If you suspect that a competitor’s high rankings are stemming, at least in part, from keyword stuffing, do a little research. Look at the name on their street signage in Google Street View. Take a photo in person if necessary. Look at the name on their website. Phone them to see how they answer the phone. Then, if you’re convinced that the guidelines are being broken, submit your evidence via the Business Redressal Complaint Form. There is no guarantee that Google will act on your report, but this is the main vehicle for seeking action.

If your listing has been hijacked and maliciously edited, I recommend starting by reporting the full details at the Google My Business Help Community. Ask the volunteers there to give you current steps for resolving the hijack. You can’t ever be totally safe from the possibility of hijacking, but do be sure you’ve claimed any GMB listing for your company. Some local SEOs also recommend making occasional null edits (hitting the submit button in your GMB dashboard without changing any of the listing data) as this activity might make your listing less prone to third-party edits.

Review roguery

I like to give business owners the benefit of the doubt for making a judgment call error when they review themselves. But it’s always embarrassing to see any company misusing reviews to sing their own praises, and particularly so when their family members point this out in public:

Credit: @ordacowski

More often, the business is the victim of review shenanigans. Google’s forum is continuously emitting distress signals from business owners who feel they’ve received one or more negative reviews from people they’ve never had a transaction with, as illustrated by this interchange:

And, the hard truth is that some entities have made a business model out of competitive sabotage via negative reviews. The problem has become large enough to make televised news.

What to do:

Falsifying reviews is illegal and has resulted in multi-million-dollar FTC fines in the United States. If you own or market local businesses, adhere to the Consumer Review Fairness Act and read the guidelines of any online platform on which you are receiving or writing reviews. Don’t review your own business or have past or present staff do so. Don’t review your competitors. Don’t incentivize reviews in any way, or post reviews on behalf of anyone else. Don’t hire any marketing firm or use any review management software that violates guidelines.

If your business becomes the subject of a review spam attack, screenshot and document all of the fake reviews, then flag them from inside of your Google My Business dashboard via the three little dots associated with each review. After three days, contact Google through their online chat option to follow up.

Google will make the ultimate decision on whether to remove the reviews and they are quite strict about what they view as negative vs. fake. If Google doesn’t remove the reviews, I would suggest two things. First, I would report the reviews to ReviewFraud and then, if the sentiment in the reviews is damaging enough, you might need to contact an attorney to see if further steps can be taken to prompt removal.

If you suspect a competitor is trying to boost their own rankings with review spam, document what you see and report it via the Google My Business Help Community.

Fatuous photos

“I cannot for the life of me believe that you would allow a normal user to upload photos to my business listing without my approval and you do not give THE OWNER OF THE PAGE the ability to delete them!” – from Google’s Forum.

The above quote typifies the frustration business owners feel regarding yet another element of their Google listing that is open to public contributions. Brands often think of these listings as belonging to them, when, in fact, they belong to Google. Images are considered to be a strong factor in CTR, so it’s particularly aggravating when user-uploaded photos either misrepresent or embarrass the business.

I’ve been shown cases in which people have mysteriously uploaded images that have nothing to do with a business. More often, though, I see photos like the following which highlight some aspect of the company that has disgusted or angered customers:

When something goes wrong with photos, like a bug on Google’s end, failure to size images correctly, or possibly the owner removing images that were previously there, this public warning symbol is definitely not a good look:

Google can also pull random images from website pages into your profile, resulting in your business being represented by something like … melted ice cream?

Credit: @tomwaddington8

Claire Carlisle recently documented Google’s penchant for pointing European users to Google Image Search instead of the photo section of listings. There is some reason to suspect this may happen in the US in the future, which could result in all kinds of strange optics popping up in association with brands.

What to do:

If an image accurately represents a lack of proper management at a location of your business, fix the issue or such imagery will continue to surface. You can then try flagging the photo, identifying yourself as the business owner, and explaining what you’ve done to correct the problem. However, unless the photo violates Google’s guidelines, it’s unlikely to be removed. Barring removal, be sure you are adding as many high-quality photos as possible to your listing to lessen the impact of a single image.

If the image violates Google’s guidelines, click on the name of the person who uploaded it and copy their profile URL. Then, report the user via the Google My Business Help Community, requesting that the profile be removed for failing to adhere to the guidelines.

If you see something like the warning symbol appearing instead of a photo you’ve tried to upload, check the above forum for reports of known bugs. You can always remove your own photos via the trash can symbol in your Google My Business dashboard.

Hours of inconvenience

“This is not a sustainable way to treat a business or customers.” – A reviewer experiencing unmanaged hours of operation

When customers feel that it’s your business playing a joke on them, they’re unlikely to return. This collage of 1-star reviews captures the collateral damage of neglecting to properly manage hours of operation on the web:

What to do:

A consistent theme in these damaging reviews is that customers are checking multiple places on the web to be sure an establishment is open on a given day. We’ve all come to depend on websites and business listings to provide this information, and it’s truly inconvenient when these assets mislead us. Few businesses can afford to let multiple customers down and no business can survive customers sensing they’ve been tricked!

The good news is that the fix for this is quite simple. Google’s tutorial for setting special hours if foolproof, and it will only take you a few minutes each year to ensure your profile displays correct information every day of the year. And, of course, update your website to reflect this data, too.

There are no dumb questions, but…

Sorry to say it, but there are actually some answers that are far from smart. I’ve saved for last the most extreme example of real-world businesses becoming the butt of online jokes.

Google Q&A is beginning to have all the earmarks of an experiment gone astray, and if you’re not actively managing this feature of the Google Business Profile, chances are good that your customers are experiencing a bizarre substitute for customer service.

Brace yourself for this collage:

What to do:

A quick study of the public responses to real consumer questions shows the state of total confusion surrounding this GBP feature. For example, one customer has mistaken it for a “discussion board” not associated with the business; this is incorrect. Others are proclaiming that they aren’t associated with the brand and don’t want to “lead people”, despite responding. Still, others are steering potential patrons away from the brand to a competitor (yikes!).

But, predominantly, we have wags replying to questions without having any information to share. “IDK” and “Why don’t you call them yourself?” typify this ridiculous behavior. Why would anyone waste time doing this, you might ask? We can put it down to two things: the old adage about idle hands and Google’s still-new program of perks for participation. Note how many of the individuals in our collage have achieved Local Guide status for giving out these useless answers. Raise your hands if you’re not impressed.

But now, put your hands back on your keyboard for a little work. Unlike the review medium in which guidelines forbid you being an initiator, Google Questions & Answers invites businesses to post and answer their own FAQs. All you have to do is spend a few minutes populating this area of the Google Business Profile with common questions and responses. Then monitor this feature on an ongoing basis so that customers are receiving a helpful, authoritative response to questions. Q&A is a lead-generating asset and conversions are totally within your control.

Adopting a local watchdog



All five cases of Google Business Profile hijinx share the requirement of vigilance for prevention and mitigation. Manually checking on multiple features week after week is a serious drain on local business owners’ limited time. Businesses with multiple locations are especially prone to becoming distracted from or worn out by the effort.

Putting a devoted watchdog between pranksters, spammers, and your vital Google listings is the smartest thing you can do to maintain them as an influential source of truth about your brand.

Adopt the new and improved Moz Local at your place of business and feel secure knowing:

  • If a third party edits your business name, our software will recognize the change and override it with the authoritative data you’ve provided.
  • Moz Local continuously alerts you to incoming Google reviews so that you can catch any emerging reputation problems quickly and respond to them.
  • You’ll be alerted every time a user-uploaded photo gets added to your Google listing. This is tracked in a continuous feed in your dashboard, and you can even set up email alerts if that’s easier for you. Either way, you’ll be the first to know if someone is uploading images that violate Google’s guidelines.
  • You aren’t disappointing customers anymore with inaccurate hours, because you can set them up well in advance in the Moz Local dashboard. We recommend setting special hours at least 7 days in advance of a known closure.
  • You’ll see all incoming Q&A queries in a continuous dashboard feed, facilitating fast, authoritative responses from your business instead of “IDK”s from random users.

Moz Local is the faithful companion you’re seeking to ensure you’re publishing trustworthy business data, taking maximum control of your online reputation, and maintaining a high level of spam awareness, all in an intuitive, organized dashboard.

Everybody likes a good joke, but your Google Business Profile isn’t the place for one! Ready to put a serious watchdog at your place of business? Learn more about the new Moz Local!

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Chris Barnes: School Teacher Turned Game Creator Explains How He Launched A Million Dollar Escape Room Board Game Online Subscription Business

 [ Download MP3 | Transcript | iTunes | Soundcloud | Stitcher | Spotify | Raw RSS ] In late 2018 I received an application for a new InboxDone.com client. His name was Chris Barnes and he explained how he had a hugely successful online subscription business. As I listened intently to Chris during his discovery call […]

The post Chris Barnes: School Teacher Turned Game Creator Explains How He Launched A Million Dollar Escape Room Board Game Online Subscription Business appeared first on Yaro.Blog.

Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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Tien Chiu: How This Ex-Google Employee Gave It All Up To Build An Online Business Teaching The Craft Of Color Weaving (And The Story Behind Her First $25,000 Product Launch)

[ Download MP3 | Transcript Coming Soon | iTunes | Soundcloud | Stitcher | Spotify | Raw RSS ] I’m so excited to publish this interview because it shares a success story of one of the most recent people to go through Blog Mastermind 2.0 (this is a 2019 case study!). Tien Chiu has a background as […]

The post Tien Chiu: How This Ex-Google Employee Gave It All Up To Build An Online Business Teaching The Craft Of Color Weaving (And The Story Behind Her First $ 25,000 Product Launch) appeared first on Yaro.Blog.

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Survey: More consumers trust accuracy of SMB websites over Google My Business

BrightLocal also found an overwhelming consumer preference for phone calls vs. other channels such as email and messaging.



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7 Steps To Launch A Home-Based Business Selling Services Online

Welcome to a complete overview of the steps to launch what I call a Services Arbitrage business. If you’re not sure what this is and you’ve never heard the story behind how I launched an online editing company, make sure you read Part 1 and 2 first. Here are the links: How To Start An […]

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Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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James Mel: Unknown Canadian Rises To Become Eben Pagan’s Business Partner While Also Building A Multi-Million Dollar Property Portfolio

[ Download MP3 | Transcript Coming Soon | iTunes | Soundcloud | Stitcher | Raw RSS ] Up until the last few years you probably would never have heard the name James Mel before. He was one of those guys working hard behind the scenes in a company that was led by a very well known marketer, in […]

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5 Google Business Profile Tweaks To Improve Foot Traffic

Posted by MiriamEllis

Your agency recommends all kinds of useful tactics to help improve the local SEO for your local business clients, but how many of those techniques are leveraging Google Business Profile (GBP) to attract as many walk-ins as possible?

Today, I’m sharing five GBP tweaks worthy of implementation to help turn digital traffic into foot traffic. I’ve ordered them from easiest to hardest, but as you’ll see, even the more difficult ones aren’t actually very daunting — all the more reason to try them out!

1) Answer Google Q&A quickly (they might be leads)

Difficulty level: Easy

If you have automotive industry clients, chances you’re familiar with Greg Gifford from DealerOn. At a recent local search conference, Greg shared that 40 percent of the Google Q&A questions his clients receive are actually leads

40 percent!

Here’s what that looks like in Google’s Q&A:

It looks like Coast Nissan has a customer who is ready to walk through the door if they receive an answer. But as you can see, the question has gone unanswered. Note, too, that four people have thumbed the question up, which signifies a shared interest in a potential answer, but it’s still not making it onto the radar of this particular dealership.

Nearly all verticals could have overlooked leads sitting in their GBPs — from questions about dietary options at a restaurant, to whether a retailer stocks a product, to queries about ADA compliance or available parking. Every ask represents a possible lead, and in a competitive retail landscape, who can afford to ignore such an opportunity?

The easiest way for Google My Business (GMB) listing owners and managers to get notified of new questions is via the Google Maps App, as notifications are not yet part of the main GMB dashboard. This will help you catch questions as they arise. The faster your client responds to incoming queries, the better their chances of winning the foot traffic.

2) Post about your proximity to nearby major attractions

Difficulty level: Easy

Imagine someone has just spent the morning at a museum, a landmark, park, or theatre. After exploring, perhaps they want to go to lunch, go apparel shopping, find a gas station, or a bookstore near them. A well-positioned Google Post, like the one below, can guide them right to your client’s door:

This could become an especially strong draw for foot traffic if Google expands its experiment of showing Posts’ snippets not just in the Business Profile and Local Finder, but within local packs:

Posting is so easy — there’s no reason not to give it a try. Need help getting your client started? Here’s Google’s intro and here’s an interview I did last year with Joel Headley on using Google Posts to boost bookings and conversions.

3) Turn GBPs into storefronts

Difficulty level: Easy for retailers

With a little help from SWIS and Pointy, your retail clients’ GBPs can become the storefront window that beckons in highly-converting foot traffic. Your client’s “See What’s In Store inventory” appears within the Business Profile, letting customers know the business has the exact merchandise they’re looking for:

Pointy is Google’s launch partner for this game-changing GBP feature. I recently interviewed CEO Mark Cummins regarding the ultra-simple Pointy device which makes it a snap for nearly all retailers to instantly bring their inventory online — without the fuss of traditional e-commerce systems and at a truly nominal cost.

I’ll reiterate my prediction that SWIS is the “next big thing” in local, and when last I spoke with Mark, one percent of all US retailers had already adopted his product. Encourage your retail clients to sign up and give them an amazing competitive edge on driving foot traffic!

4) Make your profile pic a selfie hotspot

Difficulty level: Medium (feasible for many storefronts)

When a client has a physical premise (and community ordinances permit it), an exterior mural can turn through traffic into foot traffic — it also helps to convert Instagram selfie-takers into customers. As I mentioned in a recent blog post, a modest investment in this strategy could appeal to the 43–58 percent of survey respondents who are swayed to shop in locations that are visually appealing.

If a large outdoor mural isn’t possible, there’s plenty of inspiration for smaller indoor murals, here

Once the client has made the investment in providing a cultural experience for the community, they can try experimenting with getting the artwork placed as the cover photo on their GBP — anyone looking at a set of competitors in a given area will see this appealing, extra reason to choose their business over others.

Mark my words, local search marketers: We are on the verge of seeing Americans reject the constricted label of “consumer” in a quest for a more holistic view of themselves as whole persons. Local businesses that integrate art, culture, and community life into their business models will be well-placed to answer what, in my view, is a growing desire for authentic human experiences. As a local search marketer, myself, this is a topic I plan to explore further this year.

5) Putting time on your side

Difficulty level: Medium (feasible for willing clients)

Here’s a pet peeve of mine: businesses that serve working people but are only open 9–5. How can your client’s foot traffic achieve optimum levels if their doors are only open when everybody is at work?

So, here’s the task: Do a quick audit of the hours posted on the GBPs of your client’s direct competitors. For example, I found three craft shops in one small city with these hours:

Guess which competitor is getting all of the business after 6 PM every day of the week, when most people are off work and able to shop?

Now, it may well be that some of your smaller clients are already working as many hours as they can, but have they explored whether their hours are actually ideal for their customers’ needs and whether any time slots aren’t being filled in the community by their competitors? What if, instead of operating under the traditional 9–5, your client switched to 11–7, since no other competitor in town is open after 5 PM? It’s the same number of hours and your client would benefit from getting all the foot traffic of the 9–5-ers.

Alternatively, instead of closing on Saturdays, the business closed on Mondays — perhaps this is the slowest of their weekdays? Being open on the weekend could mean that the average worker can now access said business and become a customer.

It will take some openness to change, but if a business agrees to implementation, don’t forget to update the GMB hours and push out the new hours to the major citation platforms via a service like Moz Local

Your turn to add your best GMB moves

I hope you’ll take some of these simple GBP tips to an upcoming client meeting. And if they decide to forge ahead with your tips, be sure to monitor the outcomes! How great if a simple audit of hours turned into a foot traffic win for your client? 

 In the meantime, if you have any favorite techniques, hacks, or easy GMB wins to share with our community, I’d love to read your comments!

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