Dec 28 2010

Claim Your Business Listing in Google Maps / Google Places

Do you have a small business that you’re trying to get the word out about? A larger company and trying to attract more customers? Claiming your ‘free business listing‘ within Google Maps / Google Places is a great way to get the ball rolling! It’s also great SEO (Search Engine Optimization) value, items worth noting are marked green in this post.

You’ll need a GMail account in order to do this, but don’t worry, this is free too! Nothing better than free marketing for your business or company! :) Once you have a GMail account, log into the Google Places Center and begin by entering your phone number to see if your business has already been listed (See image 1 in slideshow @ bottom of this post).

A. If the business does not exist:

  1. This leads to a page that will require the following input fields be filled out or edited:

    • Country
    • Company/Organization
    • Street Address
    • City/Town
    • State
    • ZIP
    • Main phone
    • Category (great SEO opportunity for better defining the type of business)
      • Google Notes: ‘Categories are ways to classify your business that help Google show your business for the right searches. The Google Places will suggest categories that match what you type, but feel free to create your own if you don’t see a category that fits your business. Make sure that the categories you choose are accurate and describe your business well. It’s ok if they’re specific; Google’s search algorithm makes sure that users looking for a general business type, like ‘book stores,’ will see businesses in more specific categories too.
  2. Optional fields are:

    • Email Address
    • Website (great SEO opportunity for adding a link to your business’s website)
      • Google Notes: ‘list your authoritative business website as your homepage, since Google uses information from your homepage to help improve search results. The URL you provide can be a maximum of 255 characters.
    • Description (great SEO opportunity to add a nice, attractive description for bringing prospective clients to your business)
      • Google Notes: ‘Tell users what makes your business special.
    • Service Areas & Location Settings:
      • No, all customers come to the business location.
      • Yes, this business serves customers at their locations
        • Checkbox for not showing business address on Google Maps
        • Either Distance from business or ZIP/City name can be chosen for areas served. (Choosing either one updates map with a coverage area outline. See example image.)
        • (great SEO opportunity to funnel in local people to your business)
    • Hours of operations (with option of not displaying operating hours)
    • Payment Options (16 different options)
    • Photos
      • (great SEO opportunity to visually appeal to end-users when they initially see your business listing within Google Maps – Separates the business from others also placed on Map – See ex. image for Pizza Hut – Logo suggested at the minimum)
      • Google Notes: ‘Using Picassa or similar image hosting service is recommended‘ – This would also facilitate an easy central updating point if all images were referenced/pulled from a URL rather than an uploaded file.
    • Videos (Need to have been uploaded to YouTube first)
      • (great SEO opportunity if videos are informative – Customer reviews might be good to show here)
    • Additional Details
      • Ex. Parking available, Brands carried, etc.
      • SEO opportunity to list out specific targeted services of your business – See example image)
      • Google Notes: ‘Create custom attributes that allow you to include additional information that you’d like customers to know. For example, you can list what brands you carry, or if your business has parking.

B. If the business does exist: (Verification either via a postcard or phone at end of editing process)

  • Same process as above, but with an added ‘verification‘ step. Expect either an email or phone call (your choice) from Google to verify the business listing. If you are not the person at the listed address or phone number, call or notify somebody that is to give them advance notice.
  • If there are multiple businesses that are being listed, Google offers a bulk loading option. Minimum of 10 listings are required to use this feature and up to 100 listings can be made with one Google Account ID. An excel spreadsheet works for this process (more on this here: http://www.google.com/support/places/bin/static.py?page=guide.cs&guide=28…).
  • If a business is verified by the business owner, a ‘Owner-verfied listing‘ link appears in listing.

Miscellaneous:

  • Listings usually appear after 12 hours.
  • Google adds these items automatically (if available):
    • Reviews
    • Driving/Transportation Directions
  • Listings display across various platforms / devices
    • Desktop (Google Earth), Web Browsers, iPhone & iPad (Google Maps, Google Local, One Box), Smartphones (Mobile Maps, Google Directories), Voice/Mobile Devices (Goog-411, Directory Assistance, Google SMS).
  • Ability to also fix an incorrect marker location on Google Maps is also given when editing.
  • If there are multiple offices at the business location with different phone numbers, you can add more if needed, but one will remain as the ‘main phone’.
  • With a Google Places account comes a ‘Dashboard‘ to track impressions coming from either a ‘Google’ or ‘OneBox’ Search. ‘Actions’ (when ‘users showed interest in your business listing‘) are also displayed along with ‘Top search queries’. Plus ‘Where driving direction requests come from’ info is given. ‘Offers’ such as coupons or specials can also be added to appear alongside you listing in Google Maps. Paid ‘Google Tags’ can also be managed from this Dashboard.

Here are some images to better illustrate this valuable process for marketing your business:

 

Other Valuable Resources:

Or for a detailed PDF of this post, download it for free here: Downloadable PDF for Business Listing Claiming Process in Google Maps.

Chris J. Politzki
Studio 119 Degrees Web Design & Development Studio

 

Posted via email from Chris J Politzki’s Posterous

 


Dec 3 2010

PPC vs. SEO. Which one will prevail?

Great debate over PPC (Pay-Per-Click) and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for this week’s SEOMoz Whiteboard Friday. Which one to use? Watch the video to decide!

SEOmoz – SEO Software

Posted via email from Chris J Politzki’s Posterous

 


Jul 6 2010

Google Looks at Long Tail Keywords Differently now

People are becoming smarter and smarter when they search online now. Instead of weeding through the search results when performing searches, a more detailed combination of keywords are being entered into their search fields. These are known as long tail keywords and since May 2010, Google is looking at these differently.

An example of a long tail keyword search:

The average person searching at the research phase will use a competitive generic keyword such as “party dress”. Not long after searching and seeing some high prices they will modify their search to something like “cheap party dress.” Now we are already into long tail keyword territory but it can go further. As the search deepens the searcher realizes that pink is the trendy colour at the moment, or pink is what she fancies wearing on her next night out, so then she is using the long tail keyword “cheap pink party dress.”

If you’re interested, read more about it in an article entitled, ‘The Importance Of Long Tail Keywords Since The Last Google Algorithm Update from Site Pro News.

Chris J. Politzki

Studio 119 Degrees Web Design & Development Studio

Posted via email from Chris J Politzki’s Posterous


Jun 25 2010

To Buy Links or Not to Buy Links, That is the Question…

Leave it up to SeoMoz to tackle this subject… Always enjoy their White Board Friday Sessions and this week doesn’t fail to impress, yet again! Nice work guys!

Posted via email from Chris J Politzki’s Posterous


Sep 18 2009

Newly Developed Widgets Live and Tracking Death Statistics!

SEO company and Web Design & Development studio collaborate

Our design & development studio recently completed a widget development project for a local SEO company here in Denver, Colorado. Together, we developed a strategy for creating the all-important backlinks to a Texas attorney’s web site. The group over at seOverflow here in Denver is quite a talented group of SEO gurus that assisted the Studio 119 Design & Development team with the preliminaries for creating widgets for the Jim Adler & Associates team in Houston, Texas.

seOverflow-Studio119-logo

The Widget for Car Accidents

What do these ‘Death Statistic Widgets’ do?

Good question! They simply track 5 different types of deaths across the United States. There’s a widget for Car Accidents, one for 18 Wheeler Accidents, one for Drunk Driving Deaths, one for Mesothelioma Deaths, and also one for Motorcycle Deaths. All five come in 3 different sizes; 300 x 250 pixels, 240 x 400 pixels, and 160 x 300 pixels. All perfectly suited to implement into your blog or web site. Each one respectively tracks the total death numbers to date for each specific type of death. Each day a new number is displayed and oftentimes these numbers are updated hourly using a javascript which deducts the current day, compares it to the national daily average of deaths and returns a total number to date for the specified year.

You can download these widgets at either of these two landing pages:

  1. The Accident Awareness site.
  2. The Jim Adler Death Statistics site.

Why create Widgets for SEO?

Yet another good question… and the answer is easy. ‘To Gain Valuable Backlinks to Your Site‘, simply put. In the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) community, we all know that if you are able to gain links back to your site you can gain some valuable exposure within the Search Engines. Strategically placing targeted keywords within your anchor text (the words that appear within the actual link on the page, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term) also help the spiders that are crawling your site help determine what your site is about and how they should categorize it. Changing up the anchor text is also a common task. Backlinks also function as a sort of voting system in that they indicate that someone has taken the time to add a link back to your site and find your site’s content valuable.

The Death Statistic widgets have appearing on each one of them 2 and sometimes 3 backlinks. Two anchor text links and one image alt tag set on the image link. So as you can see, we’ve placed these within the actual widgets in hopes that people will implement them into their blogs and web pages to give us our precious backlinks to our site. A very unique strategy in my opinion and one that also worked well with our previously developed Dex Yellow Pages widgets.

It’s all done in the name of  ’Gaining Valuable Backlinks to Your Site‘.

Happy Widgeting everybody!

Chris J. Politzki
Studio 119 Degrees Web Design & Development Studio


Jul 17 2009

Keyword Research and Estimated Monthly Search Volume for SEO

Interesting Observations on Keyword Research

I recently was involved with a project at my internet yellow pages job that involved researching targeted keywords for proposed City Guides / City Landing Pages. We used a couple of online tools to see what the estimated search volume would be for that particular month. The data was probably from the previous month or earlier, but what was interesting was the fact that you start to discover how people are thinking when they approach the web and perform a search. Oftentimes geo indicators were included such as a city  or state name to narrow their search down a bit more. For the project’s purpose, we were focusing on how people were using these geo indicators to reveal how the content on the City Guides / Landing Pages would be created and what targeted keywords we should be using to gain more search traffic to our site.

For example, are people typing in ‘CO‘ as an abbreviation for ‘Colorado‘, or are they spelling out the entire state name? This was crucial information we needed to complete the project and know what content to implement on our proposed pages.

Tools Used for the Project

We used a few tools to determine what the estimated search volume on a particular keyword. Spacky.com was one of them, Wordtracker.com was another and a couple others I’ll mention, however, we did not use for this project. They are Grokker.com & Kartoo.com, but I’d like to hear from others if they use others as it would be useful information. I’ve been thinking that the new feature in Google Search called the ‘Wonder Wheel‘ might also be a tool to use for this type of keyword researching, but once again, wouldn’t mind hearing from others on their thoughts on this. Leave a comment below if you feel like it. :-)

A More Recent Oberservation

I was reading a blog today that started me thinking. I know, I know… you’re asking yourself whether or not I think at all, right? Never mind the wisecracks, I seriously found something today that was interesting. ;-)

In a post from Sam Niccols, titled “TechCrunch Upskirt: Why Michael Arrington Blogs about Porn“, he brings up an interesting point. During the keyword research project for my internet yellow pages gig, we kept finding terms for porn keep showing up in the monthly search volumes. Even though we weren’t looking for them, they appeared. Some of these I can’t repeat here in this blog and I know there are tools to filter these items out, but it is interesting to find out that some cleaner and more legitimate sites unrelated to porn are posting blogs optimized for porn search terms. TechCrunch, Wired, Technewsworld.com, news.cnet.com and even the NYTimes site all used porn-related content within their blog posts. Makes one wonder if these sites are trying to bring in bigger search volumes through this tactic, if you can call it that. TechCrunch alone has 2,580 blog posts indexed by Google that contain porn-related content. Sam has a great graphic which splits down the ‘Pages with Porn in Text‘ amongst these various sites. While it may draw in some extra traffic, I really don’t think it’s going to bring in the ‘right kind’ of traffic… unless you are in the porn industry? If you are making money off of your ads on your pages then I guess this would be a great method to get clicks.

An interesting find needless to say and I guess I’ll find out how much traffic I get out of it from this blog post… I just hope it’s from people who aren’t shady characters. I think it’s about time I start with Google Ads to profit off of this! :D

I’ll do a proper post on keyword research sometime, but thought this tied in well and was worth bringing up for discussion.

Chris J. Politzki
Studio 119 Degrees


Jun 5 2009

Yahoo!Answers for SEO / Marketing Your Web Site

Yahoo Answers – What is it?

Yahoo!Answers is a community for knowledge sharing Q&A (Questions and Answers). It is a form of social networking/media and involves people asking questions to the community and then people responding to these questions. To participate, one only has to have a Yahoo account and can immediately begin contributing to the site. There are other similar sites out there that do the same thing. Sites like Answers.comAllexperts.com, and Answerbag.com but Yahoo Answers seems to get the most ‘bang for the buck’ in terms of marketing your web sites in the Search Engines. Answers within Yahoo!Answers are quickly crawled by the spiders and show up high in the search result pages.

Using Yahoo Answers for Search Engine Optimization

So those of you who are new to SEO may not be aware of  ’off-page SEO‘. This, in it’s simplest terms, is a means by which you go out try to gain links pointing to your site. Links to your site act as a ‘vote‘ or ‘thumbs up‘ for your site and is well looked upon by the search engines, especially Google. Yahoo!Answers allows you to add your website in the Source box at the end of the answer you give. Although it does contain a no-follow tag, meaning the search engines won’t index the links. Another drawback is that you are not able to use anchor text to utilize the power of keywords in anchor text, but the ability to gain exposure for your site within the search engine result pages outweighs this. You are, in fact, building incremental traffic to your site and this is always a good thing to do. A great way to track this would be through watching your referral traffic either through server logs or Google Analytics and seeing when somebody is coming to your site via Yahoo!Answers.

I would suggest when signing up for answering questions to answer question which are pertinent to your web site or area of expertise. Try to choose a category within the site that you can easily return to everyday or once a week to check for new questions to answer. There is a points system in play on the site and when you answer a question, your earn 2 points. If your answer becomes the best answer, then you receive 10 points. While it may not be possible to become a so-called ‘Top Contributor‘, aiming to get a best answer will be rewarded by moving your answer up to the top of the page when somebody is also looking for the answer to the question you replied to and this is key in building traffic to your site.

I’d like to demonstrate the power of using Yahoo!Answers for SEO.

Take, for example, a recent question I answered. The question was, “How do I make a widget for my website?“.

Now go to Google and do a search for ‘How do I make a widget for my website?’ and see how high the result is for the Yahoo!Answers page is… it’s number two! Oftentimes, it’s number one in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). These pages are indexed by both Google and Yahoo and are a great tactic to build an audience to your web site or blog.

A word of advice, try mixing things up and sometimes drop a link to your site and sometimes don’t. Don’t appear like you are spamming the site and try to give a more natural appearance to the community. And most of all, enjoy yourself within the community as it will pay off in the long run.

Chris J. Politzki
Studio 119 Degrees


Apr 4 2009

New to Twitter and still figuring it out?

Twitter Logo

I recently joined Twitter to see what the fuss was all about. I’m pretty sure I’m in the same boat as many of you out there when I ask, “What can I use Twitter for?”

So What is Twitter?

In a nutshell, it’s micro-blogging. You are allowed only 140 characters per post. You can add hypertext links. Anything that exceeds 140 characters will be cut off with ellipsis (…) to denote that something has been omitted.

Wikipedia describes Twitter as:

… a social networking and micro-blogging service created by then Cornell student Jack Dorsey that enables its users to send and read other users’ updates known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length. Updates are displayed on the user’s profile page and delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them.

If people like what you have to share, they ‘follow’ you or can also add your RSS feed to their favorite RSS aggregator. You can easily see how popular a particular ‘Tweeter’ is by seeing how many people are following them.

What Can You Use Twitter For?

First of all, I like to think twitter is like a river.

I like what Nate Angell had to say in a recent comment in a blog about ‘Learning to Like Twitter‘:

I think of twitter like a river, always flowing by. When you feel like a dip, you can dive in, otherwise, let it flow on by. If it makes sense, you can use http://search.twitter.com to build some search query feeds (or other techniques) to consume at your leisure—sort of like putting out some crab pots in the flow.

This is a great way to approach Twitter, in my opinion. It’s also been thought of as a useful tool to perform light-weight Reputation Management for your business, company or even yourself. Just go to http://search.twitter.com, and enter in a search term to see how hot the topic is. For example, I work for DexKnows.com. If I enter in ‘dexknows.com’, I’ll get a list of what’s been said about dexknows.com. Some of it can be positive and some negative, so be prepared. It can also be used as a QA tool to see what issues might be occurring with the site, product, etc. A nifty little tool!

If you sign up for Twitter, ‘Trending Topics’ are also displayed on your home page. This allows you to easily see what is popular in realtime.

Can Twitter Be Used for SEO?

This is the big question and if their are any of you who have ideas around this, please leave a comment here and share it with the rest of us. I’d love to know if there are any methods people are using to gain a SEO advantage with Twitter.

So far, I’ve only seen minimal traffic building possibilities via posting URLs to particular pages. A mention of RSS playing a SEO factor in Twitter here: Twitter for SEO Blog. I’d love for people the share more on this topic.

I’m CJPolitzki at Twitter if you’d like to follow me.

Thanks and happy tweeting!

Chris J. Politzki
Studio 119 Degrees


Mar 9 2009

DexKnows.com Yellow Page Site Update – New Widgets

February 24th saw the release of the new and improved DexKnows.com 2.0 web site. With it, also came the updated Free Tools page. As with the 1.0 site, I helped develop not only this page, but also the newly-branded Banner AdsSearch Boxes, Widgets & Gadgets, and Text Links. I will, for purposes of this post, only go over the Search Boxes and Widgets.

What’s New With The Dexknows.com Site, Search Boxes & Widgets?

All of us who work at Dex are really excited about the new 2.0 site launch. I’m especially excited about the new Search Boxes, Widgets & Gadgets. So what’s new about these from the previous versions? Good question! Keeping in mind that the Search Boxes are mainly used by Dex Affiliates, I wanted to streamline the code that needed to be copied and pasted to implement them into pre-existing sites. In order to accomplish this, I used div tags instead of the previous methods of using tables in the HTML. These div tags were then controlled by specific CSS to perform better across all browsers. There’s even a custom CSS rule to accomodate the Safari browser, which I think everyone should download. It’s available for both the Mac & PC and is quickly becoming one of the up-and-coming browsers people use today.

Code Implementation for the DexKnows.com Search Boxes

So how does one go about using these so-called Search Boxes? It’s as easy as copying and pasting two bits of code into your HTML. 

  • Step 1 – Paste this code below between the <head></head> tags in your HTML.

<script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://images.dexknows.com/logo/searchbox-files/widget.js”></script>

  • Step 2 – Paste this code below between the <body></body> tags in your HTML.
  • <form class=”search” name=”search” id=”search” action=”http://www.dexknows.com/rd/” onsubmit=”return checkform();”> <input type=”hidden” class=”dku” name=”dku” value=”http://www.dexknows.com/search/?mkt=dk20&mkw=L2Us300x250″ /> <div id=”dex_widget300x250″> <div id=”top300x250″><IMG SRC=”http://images.dexknows.com/logo/searchbox-files/300x250_top.gif” alt=”Dex is one of the leading Yellow Pages publishers. Dex publishes the AT&T Real Yellow Pages in Illinois and NW Indiana, the EMBARQ™ Yellow Pages, and the Dex® Yellow Pages (as the official publisher of Qwest®).” width=”300″ height=”70″ border=0 usemap=”#DexLogoLink”></div> <div id=”bottom300x250″> <div class=”styleWhat300x250″><LABEL for=”what”>What</LABEL><br> <input name=’what’ type=’text’ class=”formbox300x250″ id=’what’ tabindex=’1′ value=’category, business name, keyword or phone number.’ maxlength=”50″ onClick=”clearWhatData();” onKeyPress=”this.style.color = ‘#000000′;” /> </div> <div class=”styleWhere300x250″><LABEL for=”where”>Where</LABEL><br> <input name=’where’ type=’text’ class=”formbox300x250″ id=’where’ tabindex=’2′ value=’city, state, address, ZIP code or landmark.’ maxlength=”50″ onClick=”clearWhereData();” onKeyPress=”this.style.color = ‘#000000′;” /> </div> <div id=”search300x250″> <input name=”image” type=’image’ tabindex=’3′ src=’http://images.dexknows.com/logo/searchbox-files/300x250_button.gif’ title=”Begin Your Search” /></div> <div align=”center”><a href=”http://www.dexknows.com/rd/?dku=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dexknows.com%2F%3Fmkt%3Ddk20%26mkw%3DL2Us300x250″ title=”Visit DexKnows.com” target=”_blank” class=”styleYP300x250″>DEX YELLOW PAGES</a></div> </div> </div> </form> <map name=”DexLogoLink” id=”Map”> <area shape=”rect” coords=”-196,1,300,70″ href=”http://www.dexknows.com/rd/?dku=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dexknows.com%2F%3Fmkt%3Ddk20%26mkw%3DL2Us300x250″ target=”_blank” alt=”Dex is one of the leading Yellow Pages publishers. Dex publishes the AT&T Real Yellow Pages in Illinois and NW Indiana, the EMBARQ™ Yellow Pages, and the Dex® Yellow Pages (as the official publisher of Qwest®).” title=”Visit DexKnows.com” /> </map>

And that’s all there is to it to get a Search Box working on you web site. Now anyone can perform a business search on the DexKnows.com site directly from your site! Here’s how the above code looks once implemented:

The code has been stream-lined to dynamically load the necessary CSS for each separate Search Box from the javascript call within the header. And since this code and all the images are hosted on a DexKnows.com server, this means no taxing of the users server and translates to better load time and functionality. There are 8 different IAB-approved sizes for the Search Boxes, so you should easily be able to find one that fits your web page.

The New and Improved Dex Gadgets & Widgets

Not only did the Search Boxes get and overhaul, but so did the Gadgets & Widgets. There are currently 4 choices to choose from. A Dex iGoogle Gadget for your iGoogle Home Page, a Dex Google Gadget to install in your Google Desktop, a Dex Yahoo! Widget for Yahoo! Widgets, and finally a Dex Mac Widget for the Mac Dashboard. The latter three contain a version checking script which will allow easy validation for users of the Gadget or Widget to check if they are up to date on the most current version. A 5th Widget will be added in the future, but for now will be posted here for you in advance so that you can test it out. This would be the WidgetBox Widget and is shown below:

 

 

 
Thanks and enjoy the new DexKnows.com site and all of it’s new features!

Chris J. Politzki
Studio 119 Degrees


Jan 10 2009

Google Web History. Is it the beginnings of ‘Big Brother’?

I recently was describing the Google SearchWiki and thought I’d expand on Google’s crafting of the user’s search experience. Is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing? Hard to tell. I think Google has good intentions, but if this data got into the wrong hands, it could be very dangerous to a person’s privacy and safety on the internet.

So what am I talking about? Let’s start by asking whether or not you have a Google Account or not? This usually consists of having a ‘GMail‘ e-mail address. If you do have a Google Account and perform a Google Search, notice something I’ve circled in the image below.

Notice that the results that are listed have been ‘Customized based on recent search activity’. If you click on ‘More details’, we’ll explore this a bit more. Keep in mind, you must be logged into your gmail account to see this.

Once we click on ‘More details’, the below appears:

Here’s where it’s revealed what’s really happening behind the scenes. Google mentions:

When possible, Google will customize your search results based on location and/or recent search activity. Additionally, when you’re signed in to your Google Account, you may see even more relevant, useful results based on your web history.

Furthermore, they go on to say:

For privacy reasons, this information is only kept for a short period of time.

This is very interesting as they are also concerned with privacy just as I am or you may be after now discovering that ‘Google’ is watching you. Almost very 1984ish, George Orwell-like in my opinion. However, they do go onto to mention:

Web History helps deliver more personalized search results based on the things you’ve searched for on Google and the sites you’ve visited. You might not notice a big impact on your search results early on, but they should steadily improve over time the more you use Web History.

See below:

To keep things even more private, they have asked for my password on my account again. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think early parts of this Web History feature held all these privacy concerns. Seems to me as they either wised-up or had some complaints.

In the google account I made these screen captures for, I hadn’t enabled  Web History and this is necessary to see what kind of information they are tracking. Perhaps in a near future blog I will show this. When you do enable Web History, this is what greets you below:

Then proceeding further, we enable Web History and see:

Notice how January 9th is highlighted in red. This means that there is some information on this day as to what my Web History was. Clicking on it reveals such information as to what I was searching for through Google.

So keep in mind when you are logged into Google, and decide whether or you want them watching you or not.

The question is also what Google will do with this data that they collect. Will they use it to cater results which are most popular overall? Will this kill SEO? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, keep a lookout over your shoulder! ;-)

Chris J. Politzki
Studio 119 Degrees