Localize your Google

16 09 2009

Last week we talked about Yahoo Neighbors, and how you can leverage it for local search.  Yahoo Neighbors can help local businesses in cities across the US to gain traction in local search results and potentially evolve into a default best practice for all small and local businesses.

 Today, let’s discuss the Google Local Business Center.

 If you’re a local business owner, it’s clear that Google helps customers find you. Not just by using Google search to find out about you, but Google Maps as well, so they can get to you in multiple different ways.  Now, imagine if there were a way for you to get a better understanding of how those customers are finding you.  What Keywords did they use to search for you?  Where are they coming from, did they drive across town just to try your huge selection of pasta dishes?  If you recently started offline advertising in a particular newspaper or coupon service, what happens to the traffic?  Was it successful, or perhaps didn’t quite meet your expectations?  If you had access to that kind of information, would it help you make better decisions in regards to how you apply your marketing dollars and how you would drive your traffic so you can attract more customers?

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The Google LBC tool was launched back in June 2009,(www.google.com/lbc). The LBC is a free tool that enables business owners to control the content in their business listings as they appear in Google Search and Google Maps.

Once you sign up, Google populates a dashboard for claimed listings with data from the last 30 days.  New information is added every day, so make sure to check frequently. 

How is this different from my Google Analytics account (or other web tracking tool)?  Well, before now, you could track usage metrics on your website using a tool like Google Analytics, but data about how customers found you through your local listing never got back to you.  All you have to do is claim your listing in the LBC and go through a quick verification process to get access to the following kinds of data:

  • Impressions: The number of times the business listing appeared as a result on a Google.com search or Google Maps search in a given period.
  • Actions: The number of times people interacted with the listing; for example, the number of times they clicked through to the business’ website or requested driving directions to the business.
  • Top search queries: Which queries led customers to the business listing; for example, are they finding the listing for a cafe by searching for “tea” or “coffee”?
  • Zip codes where driving directions come from: Which zip codes customers are coming from when they request directions to your location.

The Google LBC dashboard:

 lbc dashboard

It’s just one more tool that can help you target local search data and make informed decisions on what is working for you, and what isn’t. 

And that’s good information to have.

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Small and Local Businesses, Meet your Neighbors – on Yahoo Local

10 09 2009

Search and social marketing continue to cross paths and merge together as the internet industry expands and evolves to fit our needs.  Yahoo Neighbors is a conversation based tool that has the potential to do great things for small and local businesses by opening up a Q & A within the local business space.  While us search engine marketers have known about the influence of local search (such as Yahoo Local) and Q & A sites, like Yahoo Answers for a long time; Yahoo Neighbors is essentially a hybrid of the two concepts and conveniently brings the power of locality to smaller cities that Yahoo Answers lacks, in addition to adding a social element to local search that wasn’t there before.

Yahoo Neighbors

In most scenarios, Yahoo Neighbors will help local businesses in cities across the US to gain traction in local search results and potentially evolve into a default best practice for all small and local businesses.

  • Designed by search engine forward thinking minds, so naturally SEO credibility will come into play.
  • Helps to promote website visibility through conversation, Q & A and quasi-reviews.
  • Helps build and establish website and business presence and authority in the market.
  • Highly useful for reputation monitoring and management.
  • Has the potential to translate well to Social Media with the addition of sharing functionalities.

Yahoo Neighbors is in essence a community based Q & A, coupled with SEO value (Yahoo properties are designed by SEO-inclined folks and Yahoo Answers already ranks well in SERPs) and RSS attributes.  Not only could this tool become a large source of referral traffic for local businesses, but companies can also use it as a Reputation Management tool by opting into RSS feeds for specific categories and even more granularly down to a single topic.  Get social media sharing functionalities in place, and Yahoo might really have something.  The only catch?  Yahoo Neighbors is still in beta format, and although it has officially launched and is available nationwide, most cities have yet to establish good content and user participation.  Until the Yahoo Neighbor wave gains momentum with local searchers, smaller cities will have to wait a little longer to see Neighbors in action and to decide how to grab value from its offerings.








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