The Stationers Guild

Posts Tagged ‘local.com’

If you want traffic, claim your business on Google

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

As most of you are no doubt aware, I have written extensively on how important it is to claim your business on Google.  This service is FREE and THE MOST IMPORTANT ADVERTISING AND PUBLIC RELATIONS INVESTMENT YOU CAN MAKE!   Google has just made it more so, by eliminating other “local” search directories from search queries that contain a local qualifier.   For instance, if one is looking for “wedding invitations Omaha” on Google you will no longer be able to find directories such as local.com or YELP search rersults.  With one deft stroke, Google has killed the competition for local search directories that have been piggy-backing for free on their search network.

Here is what you need to do:

  1. If you have not claimed your business on Google, do so immediately.  It is simple, FREE and the most valuable investment you can make.  Just click on the hyperlink and do it now.  It takes about 15 minutes.
  2. If your store is listed on Google, make sure you spruce it up with photographs and other goodies.  Post a couple of videos of your store  on YouTube and have it linked to your local listing.  YouTube is owned by Google and they love to see you playing the game.
  3. Visit getlisted.org and see how you rank for local search.  It is FREE and simple and I would certainly follow the hyperlinks and get listed on these five local search registeries.

Over the next couple of months, I will be rolling out a few inexpensive and easy business strategies to position your business for online search.

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Google Place Pages: Is it good for local search?

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Over the last week or so, local search pundits have been debating the impact of Google’s launch of Google Place Pages.  Andrew Shotland who publishes the Local SEO Guide Blog recently wrote an article on the impact of Google Place Pages on the local search market.    As described on the Google Blog, a Place Page is  “a webpage for every place in the world, organizing all the relevant information about it. By every place, we really mean ‘every’ place — there are Place Pages for businesses, points of interest, transit stations, neighborhoods, landmarks and cities all over the world.”  Indeed, this is pretty heady stuff.  One might ask: “Who needs Big Brother?” 

If you are a local business owner, you definitely need to take control of your business listing on Google.  Simply log on to the Google Local Business Center and add your business or update your existing one.   One can debate the merits of Google’s strategy, but I certainly am not going to tangle with the 800 pound gorilla of internet marketing. 

Personally, I think this is very good news for local businesses and very bad news for the many so-called local search engines and search portals that have sacrificed the integrity of their local search function to pursue advertising revenue.   As I commented on Mr. Shotland’s Blog, ” Local.com, the YellowPages.com (including the many YP varietals) and most search category portals (i.e. The Knot for weddings) have compromised local search by ’selling’ zip codes and towns/cities to online marketers under the premise that ‘they are serving local markets.’  It’s not the same! In fact, it is deceptive and comprises ‘real’ search results.”

While I doubt very seriously that these deceptive advertising strategies will soon disappear, I encourage anyone who owns a small business to take control of their business and the way it is represented on the Internet.  While I do not have any particular insights into Google’s long-term business strategy, I do know that Google’s Local Business Center is packed full of useful tools for local storefronts.  These tools are free!  While you are at it, also claim your business on Yahoo and Microsoft. 

Before spending a penny on advertising  in Local.com, Martha Stewart Weddings, The Knot, or the online Yellow Pages or any other portal make sure you take a look at competitor advertisers in your search space.  If online dealers occupy that space, save your advertising dollar for something more worthwhile.

Richard W. May
Founding Member Stationers Guild

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Finding Local Wedding Invitations: An online con job!

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

I’ve got a beef (or “tofu” for vegetarians out there!):  I hate to be lied to by wedding portals and “local” search engines that favor their advertisers to the detriment of their search audience.  Specifically, when I type “wedding invitations” and a “zip code” into a search bar, I expect to find a brick-and-mortar stationer who sells wedding invitations in the general vicinity of my zip code.  Unfortunately, your search result is likely to return a slew of silly-named national printers that “service” your local market.

Companies such as local.com, the Knot or the many varieties of online Yellow Pages should know the difference between a “local business” and a ”national business” serving local markets.   I have spoken with many representatives of these firms and most will tell you that they recognize the shortcomings of the search function.  Nevertheless, to paraphrase a recent conversation with a local search company representative, ”we can’t do anything to alienate our advertisers since they are paying for that particular zip code or geographic area.”  With the possible exception of Google (and they too have their faults), your online “wedding” search results are largely determined by advertising dollars and not relevancy, let alone competence.  Is there something wrong with this picture or am I just naive?

It is largely in response to this online playing field of false expectations that the StationersGuild was established.   On this website you can locate qualified stationers in your neighborhood and research fine paper lines without too much editorial commentary.  Buying fine stationery and invitations or  buying flowers for your wedding is personal.  It requires a connection at that most basic sensory level. 

We can only hope that wedding portals and “local” search engines will begin to rethink their strategy of putting the all powerful advertising dollar in front of honest search results.  Personally, I believe that a balanced approach to local search marketing would be helpful for the public, the search engines and wedding portals that sponsor true local businesses. 

Richard W. May
Founding Member Stationers Guild

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