SEO

Get Listed So You Can Get Found

“That seminar was one of the most eye-opening I’ve ever been too. I am so excited about these new tools and how I can apply them to my business. This is going to be a busy year for me as I hope to make a bunch of improvements to my business model.” Steve Barkley (my accountant…who I introduced to David Mihm, Getlisted co-founder.)

The Passenger

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The day prior to SearchFest, I attended David Mihm’s “Local University”, a seminar that David developed to introduce local business owners to some necessary online marketing concepts and ideas. I didn’t go because I expected to learn something new, but rather to see how some of the basic concepts that I live and breathe on a daily basis might be repackaged into easy-to-understand ideas that business owners with little or no background in search marketing could easily act upon. I was extremely impressed with the program…and hope it could be expanded so that can reach and educate many more people who desperate need this teaching.

There is a certain area of knowledge that all business owners need to be well-versed in (or be able to outsource to someone who is). Clearly, bookkeeping, taxes, government regulations / licensing & insurance are all important items from which a business owner needs to keep abreast. However, once someone gets past the items allowing a business to run legally and financially prudently, I would argue that the knowledge that can be learned at David’s seminars is some of the most important learning that business owners can possess.

There is no level playing field when competing for customers. Businesses that have the biggest budgets and have a clue how to use them have a tremendous advantage in the marketplace. Prior to Google Local, undercapitalized local businesses had little chance of being found in the SERPS, since they didn’t have budget for high-level SEO/PPC/Social Media. However, Google Local allows these folks a fighting chance to compete for customers in their marketplace.

Small businesses need to be able to do a relatively few simple tasks in order to be competitive in Local:

  1. Claim their Google Places Page
  2. Optimize the heck out of it (without spamming)
  3. Get people to leave reviews at their page (and on Yelp/Citysearch/etc.)

These tasks aren’t too difficult for businesspeople to facilitate effectively themselves without consultant help…and the benefits for mastering these easy concepts can be immensely positive.

It’s a shame that David’s information can’t be easily disseminated to everyone who runs a small enterprise.  For businesses without a website (not recommending this), a Places Page can be the online web presence focal point and it’s functional enough to hold a great deal of information and different forms of content. It’s likely that a page exists for the business anyway…why not put it to good use?

And, with locally focused searches, it just might be found by potential customers…

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Todd Mintz knows PPC...knows Social Media...knows SEO...knows Blogging...knows Domaining...and knows them all real well. He is also a Director & Founding Member of SEMpdx: Portland, Oregon's Search Engine Marketing Association.
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7 thoughts on “Get Listed So You Can Get Found

  1. Todd, thanks for the kind words. I am glad that you got something out of the seminar, even though you were clearly much more advanced than our target audience :)

    This insight is spot-on:

    “Google Local allows [undercapitalized businesses] a fighting chance to compete for customers in their marketplace”

    and, we try to make all of the tactics we talk fairly limited-tech (though not low-tech) and free or low-cost. Granted, there are some things ON your website that probably require the help of a pro, but Google Places, Yelp, Bing Local…lots of sites offer free tools that SMB’s just need to know about in order to take advantage of them.

    I wanted to highlight a couple of other things…
    #1 It’s not really MY Local University–the one in Portland kinda was, since I’m the “guy on the ground” here. But it’s a total team effort with all of the other presenters–Mike Blumenthal, Mary Bowling, Matt McGee, Ed Reese, and all of the others on our Faculty page.
    #2 We would LOVE to disseminate our information to as many different markets as possible & we’re actively looking to partner on this seminar with Chambers and other business groups to get the word out to their members. Just send me an email at localu@getlisted.org if you’re interested.

    Thanks again for a great write-up, Todd.

  2. Small businesses especially need to have Google Places profiles, as well as other local search profiles like Merchant Circle, Yelp, etc. You raise a completely valid point that large companies with the money and the man power are going to do better in the SERP, but a lot of times Google Places profiles get listed BEFORE the regular SERP. This is a huge boon to small businesses that can’t compete in the online worlds.

  3. Very nice and impressive post. Every point has weight and views are crystal clear. I like your skill and have bookmarked it so that i can get updates regularly. Thanks Simon Brent

  4. I recently read that only about 2 million of the 50 million local businesses have claimed their Google Places account. Bing also has something similar, as does Facebook. The more places you business is, the better you are in the SERPs.

  5. As someone that works in the local digital marketing space every day, we all need to loosen our fascination with everything Google. Look I understand that a LARGE majority of all content gathering online begins at Google. But Places is not the end all be all of the SERP. And there are definitely other ways for local businesses to gain visibility, albeit in round about ways. Making sure your business information is correct on local directory sites is a great first step. Have you done a geo-modified search on Google, Yahoo or Bing? Those directories are highly saturated throughout the results, despite Google’s effort to provide their own “directory” as opposed to taking visitors to other sites (see Yelp’s issue with Google). You did touch on the reviews from sites such as Yelp & Citysearch, but if your business isn’t showing up on those sites with the EXACT same information that Google has in their location database (and trust me, this happens all the time), then the search engine will have a hard time connecting the dots and the reviews.

    Here’s my suggestions to small businesses, pay someone to manage this for you! The headaches are ridiculous when it comes to local information. You need to find the source of the information, otherwise bad data will continue to populate all over the place, even taking over the information that you’ve already provided. There are a lot of good products out there to take this off your hands. And don’t focus just on Google. Remember they are out to make money just like an agency.