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Archive for the ‘Google Local’ Category

Google beefs up local reviews with purchase of ZAGAT

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Google has bought successful restaurant/entertainment review publisher ZAGAT.

The move is likely to make Google Places an even more trusted authority for local, user-generated reviews. Google Places scours the web for any information it can find about every business with a mailing address. It pre-populates information like pictures, descriptions, addresses, telephone numbers, etc. With Google’s purchase of ZAGAT, all of that content is likely to find its way on to Places (if not upcoming Google+ brand profiles).

ZAGAT was founded in 1979 and published its first guide on New York City dining. On their website a note from founders Nina and Tim ZAGAT states that Google and ZAGAT plan to “optimize the potential of the ZAGAT brand while offering ‘new ways’ for consumers to ‘express their opinions’ and ‘make informed decisions.'”

This underscores the importance of reviews for local business owners. Clearly Google found that there are not enough reviews out there, and purchased ZAGAT to kick-start a push for quality reviews to make their way to the web.

What’s interesting is how ZAGAT and Google will offer consumers new ways of expressing their opinions. The possibilities are endless, but surely mobile will play a big role in populating this content. Imagine taking a picture of your meal, adding a video about how great it was and then rating it based on food, décor, service and overall value.

In the meantime, take this as inspiration to ask your customers for a review on Google Places, even try offering an incentive. A little word of mouth goes a long way.

The key(s) to success in local SEO

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Something about the summer gets me thinking about the concept of local. Maybe it’s the buying roadside corn or visiting mom-and-pop general stores on the way to the cottage. But this time of year just feels like the right time to talk about local SEO, doesn’t it?

Making your website a force in local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) involves often following different parameters than you do for general  and/or global SEO. Specific details like your physical address are extremely important. You’re not directing customers to a “store locator” or one of 50 locations. You’re telling them exactly where to find you.

Think about the importance of marketing a local business offline. You’d better give the right directions, list the right phone number, and generate positive word of mouth. Principles like those apply to web development for local SEO. Keep those in mind when remembering these general tips to follow:

1. Make sure your actual listing is thorough and accurate. With local listings, you can’t afford to be remotely wrong. Double and triple-check your address, including your postal code, and your phone number.

2. Make your presence felt on local listing sites. That goes beyond appearing in the Yellow Pages. Google Places, for example, is a key site for your local efforts. Not only will more people stumble upon you, the listing itself will also make your site more relevant to local searches according to search-engine algorithims and improve your PageRank.

3. Include relevant keywords and specifics about your product or service in your company name listing whenever possible. You can’t make your listing a million words long but be specific whenever you can. A listing like “MarketFresh health foods and organics” does much more for you than simply “MarketFresh.” If you’re a moving company, include the word “moving” in your company name.  If you’re a Moving Company in North York, it would be ideal to include both your service (moving) and service area (North York).  It’s about being relevant.

4. Reviews matter – and quantity over quality. More important than positive reviews is just reviews, period. Which business listing connotes an authoritative and popular company: one with five glowing reviews or one with 80 reviews, 60 of which are positive and 20 of which are negative? It’s clearly the latter.

5. Embrace the “localness” of your listing. If you truly specialize in Toronto web copwriting, for example, say so in your listing. You’ll appeal more to the actual market you covet. Also, avoid 800 numbers or any other details that come across as cold, corporate, and non-local.

The ranking of your business, service or product in Google’s search results is critical to your success. Toronto-based content and website copywriting expert Ray Litvak understands the art and science of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and using the right words in the right way to increase your rankings. Discover how greater exposure on Google can drive more traffic, increase leads and grow your business. Many of Ray’s clients consistently rank on Google’s first page of results and have grown their business as a result. You can do it too – and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Call Ray locally at 416-226-8676 for a free assessment of your specific needs today. You’ll be glad you did!

 

If you build it with images, they will come

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Are you a local business owner struggling to be found online? We’ll, I’ll only feel sorry for you if you aren’t doing everything in your power to control your own destiny.

That’s the beauty of the SEO universe today. Now more than ever, you can directly influence your own search results simply by making your website better – more comprehensive, more thoroughly researched, more up-to-date and more visually appealing. Visitors to your website and search engines such as Google like that.

A study I stumbled upon this week furthers that principle. According to a recent BrightLocal survey about user behavior during local online business searches, 60 per cent of respondents said that images associated with the results made them more likely to contact or at least consider that business.

Images matter. If searchers can’t see your business, they’re less likely to search it. The BrightLocal finding reinforces the emerging truth that a business’ website is just as important as every other promotional aspect. You have your storefront displays, your radio ads, maybe a local TV spot, local newspaper ads – and your website. If you don’t put the same amount of care into your online presentation, you could be losing valuable customers.

Imagine a local business trying to get by with an empty storefront window or with a newspaper ad comprised entirely of text. It would make life awfully difficult for anyone trying to catch a customer’s attention. Failing to respect the same principle on your website could be fatal.

So pay special attention to images on your local business’ website and Google Places Page! Not only should you have images, you should make sure they’re high-quality images. The resolution should be high and the images themselves should be consistent with your brand.

Usability, high quality content and using the right keywords are arguably more important aspects of your site, but it’s now a proven fact that images increase users’ chances to consume all the other goodies your site offers.

Now go out there and turn your site into a visual experience. You’ll be glad you did!

About Ray Litvak:

The ranking of your business, service or product in Google’s local search results is critical to your success. Toronto-based Content Writer and Local SEO Expert Ray Litvak understands the art and science of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and using the right words in the right way to increase your rankings. Discover how greater exposure on Google can drive more traffic, increase leads and grow  your business. Many of Ray’s clients consistently rank on Google’s first page of results and have grown their business as a result. You can do it too – and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Call Ray locally at 416-226-8676 for a free assessment of your specific needs today. You’ll be glad you did!

Ray writes website content and offers local seo services for businesses across Ontario and the GTA including Toronto, North York, Mississauga, Markham, Vaughan, York Region and beyond.

Google Places can take you to the top

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

I’m always amazed that so many website owners don’t know about the power of Google Places. And that’s a shame because it’s a great way to help drive your site to the top of the local Google rankings. Think about that. When someone in your community searches for your product or service you could be among the top five listings. And here’s the best part: it’s free!

So why wouldn’t business people be flocking to Google Places instead of investing thousands of dollars in advertising, flyers and brochures?  It just doesn’t make sense, except for one thing: they don’t know about it. It’s as simple as that. And that’s why I’ve written an article to tell you about the power of Google Places, how you can use it to your advantage and how you can enhance your listing to make it attractive to both search engines and your customers.

I love Google Local. The internet allowed us to promote our businesses around the world for free and that was good. But now we can promote ourselves to our local communities, where we sell most of our products and services – and that’s even better.

Read my article and get in on Google Places. If you have any questions after reading it, please feel free to contact me.

About Writing Web Words Inc:
Based in Toronto, Ontario, we are full-service Content Writers that helps businesses optimize their websites and other digital assets through original  SEO Copywriting, proven SEO Services and customized Business Blogging that attracts, engages and converts target audiences.

One Place, One Page: Coming to a Local Google near You

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Google’s latest addition to the popular ‘Google Maps’(aka ‘Google Local’) is the One place, one page feature which Google rolled out on September 24th, 2009.  In a nutshell, it combines   information about local businesses in – you guessed it – One place, one page.

Google designed the tool with the idea of profiling every place on Earth including every country, city, town, business, attraction, restaurant, etc.

An improvement on the amount of data formerly made available on the ‘more info’ link of a Google Maps listing, One Place, one page offers almost everything one would want to know about a particular place; from how to get there to what it is, reviews, pictures, street-level views, video, price levels, interesting facts, website links and more – all on one page. Google feels this will improve the user experience and have a positive impact on businesses, making it easier for people find what they want, when they want.

Not knowing if it was available in Toronto, I went to http://maps.google.ca/ to find out.

I chose a well known entity, the Royal Ontario Museum.  The results page offered what one would expect, a large volume of links.  I choose the first one, and clicked on the ‘more info’ link in the map bubble, and found a full page of information, from the standard street address and URL to related images, a ‘more details’ link featuring related websites, user-generated reviews of the ROM and more:  in short, an overview of the ROM from a variety of sources as well as a Web Pages section that showcased ROM events, articles and items from varied sources.

One Place, one page has only been up and running for a few weeks, but seems well positioned to continue to make Google the most relevant search engine on the web.

Ray Litvak
Toronto Web Writer
www.writingwebwords.com

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