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Why Businesses Need to Embrace Hyperlocal Search

Last week we looked at the closing down of the Google My Business app. Today we’re focusing on social media platforms and their impact on local search.

Social Media Platforms Are Attracting More Local Searches

Over this past week we’ve been seeing a trend in local marketing – and that is social media and local search. It’s become increasingly clear that platforms like Instagram and TikTok are capturing the attention of younger local consumers. And with consumers faced with more choices than ever, it’s important to stay on top of these changing trends.

First up – the announcement from Instagram that they’re introducing a new map experience. Users can now search the map, move it around to find popular locations and businesses, and have a more immersive experience. This update certainly increases the discoverability of businesses, with hyperlocal search making it possible to capture consumers’ attention when they are close by. We’ve talked about hyperlocal search and its importance before.

Understand that this change is not something for the future – it’s happening right now. Google confirmed that Instagram and TikTok are the go-to sites for many young people looking to discover local businesses. (It’s also shocking when Google admits something like this, as you can imagine.)

Their visually-rich design is one reason pushing the appeal of these social platforms. We’ve talked previously about the importance of adding many high-quality images to your Google Business Profile (GBP). And as younger generations grow up this need is certainly likely to increase. So if your local business clients want to appeal to these younger people, images across all the channels – social and otherwise – will be very important.

As highlighted by Fast Company, when Gen Z consumers want a place to shop or eat, they are just as likely to browse TikTok and Instagram as Google Search and Maps. Consequently, if you want to reach the most consumers, hyperlocal SEO should not be restricted to Google alone.

Naturally, when it comes to promoting on hyperlocal social media platforms, Nextdoor simply can’t be ignored. One example is the annual Neighborhood Favorites Awards, allowing consumers to vote for local businesses that offer excellent customer service. Based on a community’s social proof, this increased awareness can translate to real-world customer visits. As a reminder, you can create listings on Nextdoor for your clients through our listing management platform with ease. Simply place the order through your partner dashboard and we’ll get the listing created for you.

User-Generated Content Drives the Local Search Experience

There’s one common theme running through the stories highlighted above – user-generated content (UGC).

User-generated content is more than just images, videos and posts. Reviews are another type of UGC, and believe it or not, some companies are actually getting extorted by way of reviews! A story like this exemplifies the importance of reviews for local businesses, showing exactly why they need to be encouraged, monitored and responded to.

So, what can you do since the demand for UGC is on the rise and gaining popularity? First, make it easy for users to create UGC – and monitor the results. Make sure you’re creating content that users want to engage with… especially on the Google Business Profile.

While the younger generations prefer TikTok and Instagram, plenty of people use Google Search and Google Maps to decide where they’re going next. And currently, a GBP remains one of the best uses of time and resources for building a strong local presence.


Why Businesses Need to Embrace Hyperlocal #Search by @BernieColeman #SEO
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How to Improve Business Listings With the Google Authority Score

At Advice Local, we developed the Google Authority Score (GAS) to help you understand how a business’ Google Business Profile is performing in search results. GAS calculates brand mentions, engagement, influence velocity and more. To learn more about GAS and our other tools from Advice Local, request a demo today.

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Why Every Local Business Needs a Voice Search Strategy

Last week we looked at recession-proof local marketing strategies during a difficult economic period. This week we’ll examine the topic of voice search.

Voice Search Is as Important as Ever for Marketers and Agencies

We kicked off 2022 with a discussion of why voice search optimization is so important for the coming year. And now that half the year is already past, it’s a great time to revisit this topic.

Have you noticed that voice search isn’t the big talking point it once was? While it may not be a frequent trending topic among digital marketers, today it’s actually more significant than ever.

Data published by Marketing Charts from Comscore indicates that 48% of U.S. internet users own at least one smart speaker device. When you compare this number to the 37% ownership rate in August 2020 and the 28% in August 2019, its rapid growth is abundantly clear.

Of course, you probably don’t need any data to know that voice search is everywhere now. From voice assistants and navigation apps to smart TVs and streaming services, voice recognition and voice-activated products are ever-present fixtures in our homes.

Getting Found on Voice Search Platforms

While the technology may have caught on, many local businesses have been a bit slow in taking advantage of the growing opportunities. Here at Advice Local, we actually developed the first-of-its-kind Voice Search Readiness Test to help local marketers and agencies identify whether a brand is “ready” for voice assistants. The tool uses a unique algorithm to identify voice search presence on the directories and data sources that voice assistants trust.

The Comscore data also highlighted that smart speaker ownership reached 151.7 million in December 2021. Therefore, if a business cannot be found in a voice search on voice assistants, a lot of traffic will be finding its way to a competitor instead.

This is also worth noting – voice search readiness and “a voice app” are two distinct things. The voice search readiness tool determines if a listing can be found on the data sources that voice assistants (such as the Google Assistant) trust. A voice app is an application that’s created for a business and submitted to app stores.

It works like this – a consumer will ask a question through their preferred voice assistant (again, like the Google Assistant). The answer provided to the voice assistant may come from the voice app itself, or even from content taken from the business’ website.

The Advice Local Voice App lets local marketers and agencies create a voice experience by answering questions customers are asking. You can offer your local business clients sophisticated voice app content directly from your partner dashboard – with no coding necessary.

Voice Search Optimization Steps

So, what additional steps can you take to ensure a local business is the go-to listing for relevant search queries?

  • Use natural, conversational language that replicates how real people speak.
  • Identify common questions to target with a rich snippet.
  • Build a list of voice search long-tail keywords and create content on the theme.
  • Ensure mobile loading times are fast.
  • Add schema markup to product, service, location and other pages.
  • Create a comprehensive Google Business Profile listing.

With some minor adjustments to an existing website, you can access the untapped potential of voice search. And with voice assistants still growing in popularity, building a foundation now will almost certainly pay off in the future.


Why Every Local #Business Needs a #Voice Search Strategy by @BernieColeman #SEO
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Access the Advice Local Partner Dashboard

If you’re ready to take voice search to the next level, why not try the Advice Local partner dashboard? Business listing management, voice search readiness and voice app creation technology are just a few of the services we offer. Request a demo now by calling (214) 310-1356.

The post Why Every Local Business Needs a Voice Search Strategy appeared first on Advice Local.

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Recession-Proof Local Marketing Strategies for Businesses

Last week we talked about the growing number of local search queries and what that means for local businesses. This week we’re focusing on some key local marketing strategies for agencies in the current economic climate.

Recession-Proofing Your Local Marketing Clients as Much as Possible

It seems everyone is talking about recession, especially in the last few weeks. Just today we quickly found multiple articles on SEO sites discussing this topic. As an agency and local marketer, recession will almost certainly impact your business.

You will have clients who cancel services, put services on hold, or reduce the monthly budget. These clients are planning for a decline in business and want to ensure they have enough bucks in the bank to get them through the downturn.

You’ll have other clients who keep pushing forward – and they will most likely push your agency even more. They’ll want to ensure that every penny they spend on local marketing pays off for them – and there’s nothing wrong with this. In fact, they should always do this whether the economy is booming or in decline.

So what can you do to keep all your clients happy during this time?

Ensuring the Local Marketing Budget Is Allocated Correctly

1. Google Business Profile

With the Google Business Profile (GBP) making up 36% of the 2021 Local Ranking Factors survey, you cannot afford to ignore this.

Make sure you go beyond the basics with high-quality images, updated product information and special offers, along with completing the questions and answers section of the GBP. And don’t forget to stay relevant with frequent GBP Posts that show up in the knowledge panel.

BTW…. they just added a new LGBTQ+ attribute to the GBP. Now is a great time to audit your clients’ GBPs to see what other attributes you can add.

2. Location Pages for Local Businesses

Location pages, Local Business Schema and reviews are important for a business’ visibility in the local pack and organic search.

Audit your clients and make sure they include name, address and phone number (NAP) data, a map, key products and services, location information – and a clear call to action. Remember, proximity, relevance and prominence are the factors determining where the business appears in search results.

3. Local Business Listings

Because bad data can undo all your hard work, make sure you have consistent NAP data across all listings. So, what’s the easiest way to do this? To make sure the business gets the most bang for the buck, use a business listing management solution that reaches a lot of directories. At Advice Local, we distribute business information to directories that are also data amplifiers. Our listing management solution includes the most important directories, data aggregators, mapping apps and more.

This is quite crucial, for when credible sources distribute the data, countless other platforms trust that the information is accurate. In turn, additional directories grab the data and use it on their own platforms. This is the nature of amplification. It means that a small amount of upfront work can really pay off for your local business clients.

4. Don’t Forget Hyperlocal Sites Like Nextdoor

Reading this article on Streetfight written about the recession got us thinking about hyperlocal, and how leveraging sites like Nextdoor, Judy’s Book and BubbleLife can help a business reach a new audience.

You may recall that during the peak times of COVID everyone was all about shopping local. While this momentum has diminished a bit it will most likely see new life once again, depending on how deep this recession cuts.

Incidentally, at Advice Local we can help you with Nextdoor, Judy’s Book and BubbleLife.

5. Tracking Results Is Imperative

It’s important to make sure your clients know the exact value you bring to the table, from ensuring the business’ website has Google Analytics in place, to setting up goals and reporting with tools available in your partner dashboard, such as the Progress Report.

If you only provide one component of their marketing, ensure you use UTMs. These small snippets of code let you pinpoint traffic sources so you can precisely detail the results your efforts are achieving. Don’t let your results get lumped in with the efforts of other marketing companies working for the client.

If you don’t have direct access to their Google Analytics, get it. If you don’t know how to navigate and understand Google Analytics, get someone who does know – or get some training.

Surviving the Economic Slowdown

A recession will naturally bring about challenges for businesses, agencies and local marketers alike. But just as some will struggle in changing economic circumstances, others will thrive. As always, work with clients to deliver the best results, on time and within budget. A recession isn’t a signal to panic, but an indicator to make adjustments – and find ways to deliver more with the tools at your disposal.


Recession-Proof #LocalMarketing Strategies for Businesses by @BernieColeman via @Advice_Local
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Increase Productivity With Our Local Presence Management Tools

Making the most of available resources is key during an economic downturn. At Advice Local, we have been helping local marketers and agencies streamline their marketing operations for years. Why not try our business listings management solution, GBP Sync, Google Authority Score and our other powerful tools for yourself – request a demo now. Call (214) 310-1356 to learn more now.

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Justifications Are Appearing in Google Maps, Images & More

Last week we discussed important research regarding “near me” search queries. Today we’ve got a Google update, along with some digital marketing insights you may have missed.

Google Maps Sees Justifications Rolled Out for Local Businesses

We’re starting with justifications this week. Over on Search Engine Roundtable, Barry Schwartz reported on the addition of justifications to the Google Maps mobile interface and app.

A quick reminder – justifications are snippets of text included within a business listing to justify why that business is showing for a particular keyword.

To make it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for, Google overlays review snippets, mentions, menu items and other elements onto the local pack listings. And now they’ve expanded the feature, as it seems many are seeing these overlays in Google Maps.

We did some testing ourselves and can validate that we’re seeing this in maps as well. While what was reported on Search Engine Roundtable was referred to as service justifications, we are seeing review justifications and “their website mentions” justifications also.

As you can see above, a search for “personal injury lawyer mckinney” returns a number of businesses with review snippets. Similarly, the term “probate litigation attorney mckinney” includes website mentions for related attorney services. Ultimately, the inclusion of these justifications creates a richer experience – one that can lead a searcher toward their preferred service.

If you’re not familiar with justifications or mentions, we’ve covered it before in several different posts:

Surfacing in the local pack or Google Maps for justifications comes down to providing comprehensive and accurate business data that satisfies Google – and the needs of searchers.

Optimizing both a Google Business Profile (GBP) and the business’ website is fundamental to the process. An optimized website and GBP work together to improve a business’ appearance in the local pack, Google Maps and organic search.

Are You Adding Images to Google Business Profiles?

Speaking of optimizing your clients’ GBPs, Claire Carlile shared some valuable tips on taking advantage of Google’s visual search push, including encouraging user-generated content (UGC).

You’ve probably noticed that we have been strong advocates of adding images to your clients’ Google Business Profiles for a while now.

Images are one type of user-generated content that can be extremely helpful in improving the visibility of a GBP.

gbp-photo-view-examples

Shown above are two examples of how adding photos on a GBP can bring a lot more views for your local business clients in comparison to other similar businesses.

It’s worth noting that both of these businesses are doctor’s offices. It can be difficult to locate quality images appropriate for a GBP for this type of business. But this Advice Local partner got creative about getting relevant images designed to add on the GBP – and it has been paying off with lots of views.

In fact, Google itself recommends adding photos to a GBP for better interaction with customers.

According to Google, businesses that add photos to a GBP get 42% more requests for directions on Google Maps, and 35% more clicks to a business’ website when compared to profiles without photos. Simply put, with Google continuously improving its visual analysis tools, including images is a smart move right now (and it will continue to be).


Justifications Are Appearing in #Google #Maps, Images & More by @BernieColeman via @Advice_Local #SEO
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Local Business Marketing Made Easy With Advice Local

Next time you need help with business listings management, Google Business Profile claiming or data aggregator submissions, look no further than Advice Local. Request a demo today to see why our agency and local marketing partners choose us by calling (214) 310-1356.

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Is ‘Near Me’ Search Optimization Effective in 2022

Last week was a chance to recap all the biggest announcements you may have missed from Google I/O 2022. This week we’re switching focus to some important news on “near me” search optimization – information that could impact your SEO strategies going forward.

Google’s Response to the Rise of ‘Near Me’ Search Optimization

Over at Search Engine Land, Chris Silver Smith shares his research on brands that have “near me” added in their business name, and whether or not they actually rank higher in the local pack and/or Google Maps.

As you know, Google has been working hard to reduce the amount of Google Business Profile spam. The research Chris presents shows that businesses with “near me” added in their name do not rank higher on maps or in the local pack.

However, there’s a lot more Google Business Profile (GBP) spam to be taken care of. Remember when Google rolled out the Vicinity update at the end of last year? While this update certainly helped reduce GBP spam, it also affected businesses that weren’t actually spamming their business name.

This is one reason why relevance, proximity and prominence are so important. We have discussed these elements before, including just what they mean for a business’ chances of reaching the local pack. As you know, Google prioritizes profiles that meet all three criteria. However, when there are not enough of these profiles for a search term, positive sentiment and reviews can be the overriding factor.

So How Can You Help the Businesses That Are Suffering as a Result of These Google Updates?

1. A well-optimized and maintained Google Business Profile will separate a business from most competitors.

A GBP should include a keyword-rich description, categories, accurate contact information, high-quality images – and up-to-date product and services information. And don’t forget a consistent flow of new and positive reviews!

2. Accurate business listings can help secure multiple Google search listings for single keywords.

Remember to prioritize accuracy across GBP, a business website, social platforms and directory listings to avoid any bad data inconsistencies.

3. Ensure a website (including the location pages) contains the most relevant information.

Website location pages should include a map, Local Business schema, the address, business hours, phone number and other features that help Google determine relevance. This helps Google understand what products/services the business offers in relation to a specific geographic area.

4. Audit the business’ local presence quarterly (at minimum).

Look to audit local presence on GBP, Bing, Yelp, social media, directory platforms and anywhere else that can deliver targeted traffic. A local presence audit should look at contact information accuracy, business descriptions, the presence of Google EAT and other key factors.

As we’ve seen with these recent algorithm updates, it’s hard to predict exactly what Google will prioritize. A local business strategy focused on “near me” searches can still be used on the business’ website as an effective approach for organic placement, but not in maps or the local pack. As always, staying informed and nimble will ensure your clients can stay ahead with every Google update.


Is ‘Near Me’ Search Optimization Effective in 2022? by @BernieColeman via @Advice_Local #SEO
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Advice Local Provides the Tools You Need

Whether it is access to the latest local marketing news, online visibility reports, business listing management, our Google Authority Score tool or a complete dashboard solution, Advice Local has you covered. To see for yourself, request a demo or call (214) 310-1356 today.

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2021 Local Search Ranking Factors – Applying Them in 2022

Last week, we looked at the disastrous effects of a poorly optimized Google Business Profile. This week, we’re switching focus to the 2021 Local Search Ranking Factors report – an industry survey developed by David Mihm originally in 2008.

2021 Local Search Ranking Factors

If you’re unfamiliar with the Local Search Ranking Factors report, each year local search experts are surveyed for their thoughts on SEO rankings and conversions. We discussed the 2020 survey results on the Advice Local blog and now it’s time to see what, if anything, has changed.

And remember, results won’t always mirror your own findings – we certainly don’t agree with everything in this report – but they are a good gauge for what the industry is thinking and the local marketing strategies that are working for others. Apply these findings to the businesses you represent in 2022 and you can expect to see improvements to local marketing results.

2021 Local Search Ranking Factors

What Local Ranking Factors Will Be Important in 2022?

The report starts by looking at the important ranking factors for the local pack/finder results. Participants were asked how much weight Google placed on each factor. The results were as follows:

  • Google Business Profile Signals 36%
  • Reviews 17%
  • On-Page 16%
  • Links 13%
  • Behavioral 7%
  • Citations 7%
  • Personalization 4%

Google Business Profile (GBP) signals have been on an upward trajectory as Google continues to update the platform. By a significant margin, an optimized GBP is considered the most important factor for gaining visibility in local search.

In particular, the signals that stood out to the contributors were the primary GBP category, keywords in the GBP business name, proximity of the address to the searcher, and additional categories on the listing.

It’s important that we clarify that this doesn’t mean we recommend putting keywords within the business’ name that are not part of the actual name. However, if you were to do this, this could cause the listing to get suspended at worst. The lightest penalty would be Google automatically renaming the business name to what they believe it to be.

Businesses often have added keywords within their business’ name on a Google Business Profile.  And in some instances, have actually renamed their businesses, filing a new DBA, etc.

As a reminder, Google My Business recently rebranded to Google Business Profile. References to GMB throughout the ranking factors report are in fact referencing GBP. This survey was completed prior to the renaming.

1. Google Business Profile Ranks No. 1

Results indicate that much of the focus for 2022 should be the development of the business’ Google Business Profile. This includes categories, titles, reviews and photos. If your local marketing strategy for business clients has been marginalizing Google listings, now might be the time for a different approach.

As we have discussed before and in our free Google Business Profile guide, there are many other GBP factors to consider like E-A-T (expertise, authority and trustworthiness).

Here are the top 20 local pack/local finder factors you’ll want to use when evaluating your local business clients’ Google Business Profiles.

2. Google Business Profile Reviews Are Next

The local experts were asked to give their top GBP conversion factors and four of the top five results highlighted the importance of reviews. A high numerical Google rating and positive sentiment in review text led the list, with quantity and recency of reviews at four and five respectively. The third position – completeness of the Google Business Profile – is another factor we frequently recommend.

At Advice Local, we have long been recommending making reviews a key strategy for clients. The addition of positive, recent and keyword-driven reviews provides clear benefits for local search visibility and conversions, with the survey backing this up. It is important to note that keywords should originate from the reviewer, not the business owner.

Did you know that our Enhanced Google Business Profile Tool offers a review-management component that makes it easier for agencies to respond to reviews. While responding to reviews is not one of the top factors according to this study, it is extremely important, which is why we included this as part of the Google Authority Score we created.

Top 20 Local Pack Finder Factor

Image Credit: Whitespark

3. The Business’ Website On-Page SEO Comes in Third

It’s worth noting that the business’ website optimization, specifically on-page SEO went up significantly in importance in the 2021 Local Ranking Factors’ analysis. For those who are in the website SEO game, they know how important this is, but for those offering other local marketing services (not specifically website SEO),  they do not always prioritize it.

In fact, one of our Advice Local agency partners has clearly demonstrated how optimizing a business’ website content, along with the Google Business Profile, has greatly improved the appearances in the local pack and maps.

Where Does Citation Building – Listing Management Fall?

There are many other signals in between building citations within this survey, but we are going straight to it. While citations are not as important as they were in the past, listing management is a very important key factor in a comprehensive local marketing strategy. And we are not the only ones who feel this way. Whitespark has addressed this topic in the past and Moz recently did with its survey of more than 6,000 enterprises.

Results revealed significant increases in local pack visibility when these businesses had their data pushed to more than 10 directories, compared to only the big four platforms. We discuss this further in our Advice Local blog.

So now we ask, have you tried our listing management solution yet?


2021 Local Search Ranking Factors – Applying Them in 2022 by @BernieColeman #SEO
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It’s Time to Help Your Clients Take Control of Their Citations

A consistent business name, address and phone number (NAP) data is important. Not only does this impact the business’ visibility in the local pack, but also elsewhere on the web including mapping apps.

Customers do not like getting lost en route to a business and this means making sure your local business clients are easily found in mapping apps. And when the business is found online or in an app, make sure it is the correct information about the business.

Our listing management solution enables you to quickly distribute a local business’ data in real time and real fast, to the top directories, data aggregators and mapping apps. Request a demo today. Call (214) 310-1356 to get started.

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Using Google My Business for Holiday Marketing Campaigns

We’ve been looking closely at map listings recently and last week we delved into the various mapping apps available. But with the holiday season fast approaching, it’s time to shift gears and focus on creating local marketing campaigns to help your local business clients get more business.

Holiday Marketing Strategies With Google My Business

The busy holiday season is closing in and no doubt most of your clients will be pleased with an upswing in new customers. Among the many marketing tools at your disposal this year is, of course, Google My Business (GMB). If applied effectively, GMB posts will be a key driver of sales for local businesses, with the chance to apply offers, discounts, flash sales, limited-time coupons and event announcements.

It is, however, best to assume that competing businesses will also be going all out to reach local consumers. Therefore, the businesses that plan their seasonal campaigns are best poised to capitalize on consumer interest. In practice, this means developing a joined-up marketing approach that ties GMB posts to social media profiles, along with video uploads, graphics and even influencer marketing if appropriate.

Using Google My Business as a Promotional Channel

It is clear Google wants to provide searchers with detailed information requiring as few clicks as possible. We’ve actually shared some data on this before. And with this in mind, leveraging all the features available within Google My Business will definitely help.

Utilize These Types of GMB Posts for Holiday Marketing

  • Offers – Create a time-sensitive offer, including coupon codes, sales copy, graphics and video.
  • What’s new – You could add a new seasonal product – product bundle, limited-time deal – and use this section to draw attention to it.
  • Events – Hold a holiday-themed event and promote it using GMB.
  • COVID-19 – Reduce COVID-19 concerns by publishing your safety and hygiene protocols.

Add Services & Products Including Descriptions to GMB

Have you noticed how services are only available in Google My Business on mobile? That’s ok. You definitely should add them to a GMB listing anyway. Make sure you also add a description for each service.

You can also add products on a GMB listing. For most categories, this is viewable in desktop and mobile on a business’ listing. You can update the pricing and other details related to seasonal sales. Make sure to include a description for each product.

And while we know you are thinking about tangible products, Google is fine with your utilizing products to add services (at this point). Below is an example of a service that has been added as a product on a GMB listing.

product image example of a service

Visual Appeal Makes All the Difference

Ultimately, the reason for enhancing a Google My Business listing is to increase the number of actions taken by targeted consumers. An often-overlooked part of increasing customer activity is the use of custom graphics. In fact, Google indicated that adding photos to business profiles leads to 42% more requests for directions on Google Maps and 35% more website clicks than websites without photos.

BrightLocal’s Google My Business Insights Study found that businesses with more than 100 images on GMB get 2,717% more direction requests, 520% more calls and 1,065% more website clicks than the average business.

If your customers are in an industry in which having lots of photos on their GMB is a challenge, creating custom graphics can help solve this.

image of dentist image

Above is an example of an image created for a dentist’s GMB listing for Halloween. This image could be used as a photo or with a GMB post. It could work well with either one. Below is an example of an image created for an allergy doctor’s GMB post.

image used in GMB post

In both examples, the images are promoting useful content that is seasonally relevant and provides value to a searcher. We previously discussed the fact that Google is becoming more social and these are examples of content that would work on GMB and across social media.

Holiday Disruption Could Be On the Horizon

Over at Street Fight, they have been discussing the potential for supply chain issues this coming holiday season. Many customers are aware of the need to start shopping early and will have expectations when they buy from local businesses. To alleviate most issues, work with your local business clients to communicate openly on timelines and set clear expectations with customers. Utilizing Google My Business and social media can help alleviate their customers’ concerns.


Using #GoogleMyBusiness for Holiday Marketing Campaigns by @BernieColeman #GMB #SEO
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Google My Business Listings Made Easy

Are you managing listings for multiple clients or multi-location brands? Our listing management services and Google My Business Tool manage your client’s business data and GMB listings from our partner dashboard. Request a demo by calling (214) 310-1356 to see how we can help you better serve your local business clients this holiday season.

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Apple Maps Ratings – And Its Impact on Local Businesses

Today we wanted to tackle Apple Maps and the changes they’ve been making, specifically in relation to ratings. But first, a recap….

Apple Maps Added Ratings in iOS14

As reported by 9to5Mac in August of 2020, iOS14 beta 6 included a new UI that let users recommend a place. Mike Blumenthal actually wrote about it then, sharing some insights and speculation on the value of this move, such as will review spam be an issue, could this mean a bigger decline for Yelp business users, etc.

Back then we had this to say – “If they roll this out to all businesses it could be a game-changer for local search. At this point businesses don’t have a way to respond to consumers that give their business a ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ on Apple Maps.” Today this is still the case.

Apple Maps Prioritizes the User Experience

In November of 2020, Apple sent out emails to users stating “now there’s more to Maps than just maps,” and directed us to an announcement about the changes they’re making to Apple Maps.

While Apple didn’t actually use the words user experience, from the changes made you can determine that they are focused on improving the user experience. Changes included more detailed mapping in malls and turn-by-turn spoken directions whether walking, driving or cycling. We actually covered these Apple Maps changes here, along with a few more.

Apple Maps Ratings Are Now Hitting the Mainstream

Fast forward to the present day… it seems Apple Maps has now released the ability for most businesses to get reviews on their mapping platform to the US. And once again, Mike covered the topic in great detail.

As Mike pointed out in his article, “Apple has made leaving feedback on a business very simple with a Netflix-style thumbs up or down for many business categories. The rating feature does not include any written review, but for many categories Apple also allows for an additional thumbs up and thumbs down rating of attributes.”

At Advice Local, we dug into this a bit more. For many categories it allows for additional attributes, and naturally we wanted to see those categories for ourselves.

What Categories Have the Additional Apple Maps Rating Attributes?

We got the same results as Mike for doctor listings in Apple Maps. We checked an eye doctor, a dentist and an allergist – all of them only have the single thumbs up or thumbs down. We also checked his other examples – restaurants, jewelry stores, tire stores and hardware stores – and confirmed they have the additional attributes.

What Business Categories Do Not Have the Apple Maps Rating at All?

According to Mike, “lawyers, professional services, government and academic institutions do not allow ratings,” so we wanted to identify specific categories that didn’t allow for ratings.

At first, we thought perhaps it was only home services businesses that didn’t have ratings, since we checked a plumber, electrician and air conditioning repair company. Then we checked a flooring store in Dallas – nope, no ratings available for them either. Interestingly, a paint store does have the ratings feature. Their category was set as paint store vs. the flooring store, which has their category as flooring. Seems store may be one of the differentiators.

paint store apple ratings example

We are sure there are more categories that do and do not have Apple Maps ratings at this point. We can confirm that if you want your local business clients to be able to receive ratings on Apple Maps right now, the category for their listing will be extremely important. And you’ll have to do some research before you determine what that best category is.

Local marketing and agency partners, we checked for you too. Seems those in the marketing category don’t have ratings either, which was expected since this falls under professional services.

How Can Apple Maps Ratings Impact Your Local Business Clients?

Since the user has to be logged into their Apple account on their iPhone to leave a rating it will be harder to spam the system, which is good. However, since it’s so easy to click to give a thumbs down, with no ability for the business to reply, it’s also not good.

At this point, in the US the rating is only visible to the person giving the rating. You can expect these ratings will be visible in the US soon. Apple reviews have already replaced Yelp reviews in some countries. You can expect it will happen here soon as well.

Apple Ginza in Tokyo example

We can only assume that once Apple ratings rolls out to the US, the more thumbs down a business receives will mean that the less Apple Maps will surface that business as a recommendation in typed and voice searches. Just like negative reviews impact a Google My Business listing in maps, you can expect the same with Apple Maps.

Apple Maps Users Are Encouraged to Upload Photos, Too

Perhaps you noticed above the upload photo option when a user is adding a rating. Apple has provided ratings and photo terms that include details on the types of photos that are not acceptable. They also clearly say that “Apple may, in its discretion, suspend and/or terminate the accounts of users who violate these Terms (including users suspected of engaging in illegal activity) through their use of this Feature.”

apple ratings photo example

In the US, currently the photos and reviews are pulling from Yelp for Apple Maps. When the ratings change on Apple Maps the photos certainly may too. It is changed for the Apple Ginza listing, if you want to search that on Apple Maps and give it a look for yourself.


#Apple #Maps Ratings – And Its Impact on Local Businesses by @BernieColeman #SEO #Reviews
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What’s Important to Know About Apple Maps for You?

We’ve covered this before, but we’ll say it again – every local business with a brick-and-mortar location needs an Apple Maps listing. If you are an Advice Local partner, we take care of creating Apple Maps listings for you. If not, we share details on how to create and optimize an Apple Maps listing here.

Request a demo of our solution, and our team can walk you through all the business listings we create for local businesses, including Apple Maps, Waze and much more. Call us at (214) 310-1356 to learn more today.

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Google’s Spam Update & Title Tags Rewrites Have SEOS Puzzled

Last time we were here, we talked with you about Google My Business facts & data you can’t ignore. For the last few months, Google has been rolling out what seems to be update after update. For example, the Spam Update that started rolling out at the beginning of August is still rolling out – Danny Sullivan confirmed on Twitter it may be finished next week.

gmb spam update

Are You Concerned About the Google Spam Update?

We’ve been getting calls from our Advice Local partners concerned about this update, and wondering if we think it’s going to impact their clients negatively. There’s no way for us to tell you how this will affect your clients’ websites. Unfortunately, it’s a wait-and-see for us all.

Google Is Rewriting the Title Tags Displayed in Search

Google has been busy rewriting title tags for our partners’ clients’ websites this week. It’s actually been quite the hot topic online. We did some testing with the Advice Local website and found we were not immune from this rewriting of page titles.

rewrite page title example

We thought this example was a funny one. Just why Google decided this was a better title tag, we’ll never know. This is not an H1 on the page, so the theory that they are pulling from H1s doesn’t apply here. Also, since we did a site search in Google to see all the page titles for our site, keywords are not a factor – at least not for the pages we noticed the title tags are being rewritten for.

If you speculated (like Marie Haynes) that this is related to the Passages Ranking, Danny Sullivan has responded with a resounding no. Barry Schwartz reported on the topic.

What Is the Passages Ranking?

Since we haven’t mentioned this update before, the Passages Ranking enables Google to index not just a web page, but individual passages from a page. For some websites this could mean the visibility in search they were getting before will go away. For other sites, it could mean they will get more visibility. The websites that will win are the ones that have the best answer for the search query – this has always been the priority for Google.

Passages rolled out in October of last year, so any aftermath from this has most likely happened already. Google says passage-based indexing will affect 7% of search queries across all languages when fully rolled out globally.

What’s the Big Lesson With These Google Changes?

We can sum it up with one word – diversify. Make sure the local marketing strategies you implement for your clients bring a multi-pronged approach. That way, if one strategy is falling off, while you’re focused on correcting or resolving the issues, the other strategies can still help your clients get visibility in local searches.


#Google’s Spam Update & Title Tags Rewrites Have SEOS Puzzled by @BernieColeman #GMB #SEO
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This is where listing management, Google My Business, Bing, Yelp and voice search optimization come into play. Request a demo today and find out how we can help you to better serve your local business clients.

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Update Local Profiles With COVID Delta Variant Precautions

With COVID-19 numbers on the rise due to the Delta variant, it may be a good time to make sure the safety precautions your local business customers are taking are updated on their local profiles.

Update These Local Profiles to Include COVID-19 Safety Precautions

We actually talked with you last week about optimizing local profiles on Yelp, Bing & Google My Business. This week we are covering the added features available that they can update to share about their COVID-19 protocols.

Add Yelp Attributes to the Listing

yelp coranavirus updates

Just last week Yelp announced the addition of Proof of Vaccination Required and All Staff Fully Vaccinated attributes. They already had Masks Required and Staff Wears Masks attributes.

yelp banner message image

Within this same section of the Yelp profile, businesses can add a banner message for the top of their Yelp page. While businesses can’t publish regular posts on Yelp, this banner message is a great way to communicate important notices to the public.

Add a COVID-19 Announcement on Bing

Yelp isn’t the only one that has a banner message option. When a business logs into their Bing Places listing they immediately see COVID-19 Related Announcement front and center.

bing announcement image

Along with the announcement, the business can specify a timeframe during which the announcement is valid – and include a link to the business’ website that relates to the announcement. Adding announcements such as these will help to communicate how they are protecting their customers and their team.

Google My Business Has COVID-19 Communication Options, Too

Google My Business (GMB) allows the business to add a COVID-19 Update. Just head over to posts and make sure COVID-19 Update is selected to add one.

google my business covid 19 update

Even before Google added the COVID-19 Update option, businesses could utilize the post feature to put up their message. We recommend that the message is added under COVID-19 Update, because Google calls it out differently in search. We’ve talked with you before about COVID-19 actions to take on your client’s listings.

google my business covid attributes

You should also make sure all the GMB Health & Safety attributes are added for the business. Adding attributes to a GMB listing can really help the business listing to stand out in desktop and mobile searches. Adding Service attributes will help with this too.


Local Profiles Need Updating to Include COVID Delta Variant Precautions by @BernieColeman #GMB #Yelp #Bing #SEO
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We Help You Better Prepare Your Businesses for Success

At Advice Local, we’re all about helping our local marketing and agency partners to better help their local business clients. We can help with all your listing management needs. Google My Business, Bing & Yelp is just one area of our expertise. Request a demo today to learn more.

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