Or Is It?
A whole new wave of bad karma is blanketing the Local Search Marketing world with people informing Google that “This place is permanently closed,” when in fact, it is not.
The New York Times published an article in their September 5, 2011 issue entitled: “Closed, Says Google, But Shop’s Signs Say Open” The article was about two business which Google showed as permanently closed, when they were actually alive and thriving, that was until something bad happened. And that something bad had to do with competitors or dissatisfied customers or dissatisfied employees informing Google that each business had been permanently closed. Like I said, Bad Karma.
How did this happen and what can you do about it if it happens to you?
Before you read another word, please go to your business place page on Google and see if your business has been permanently closed. If it has, I’m going to show you what to do to get it back on line. If your business is still open, I’m going to show you how to insure that it stays open.
Back To The NYT Article
The instant I read the NYT article, I contacted Charlene Cowan, the owner of the Macadamia Meadows Farm, a bed-and-breakfast in Naalehu, Hawaii, which had been tagged as “permanently closed.” I wanted to find out from her first hand what happened and what, if anything, she had done to get her business back on line with Google.
According to Charlene, her bookings for the month of September plummeted and she couldn’t figure out why, that was until she discovered that her business was permanently closed on Google. She tried to contact Google on multiple occasions for a resolution, which did not come. Fortunately for her, a NYT writer discovered her request on the Google Place Page help forum and wrote an article that was seen by millions of readers and the people in charge of Google Maps in Mountain View, California. At that point Charlene told me that Google jumped on her issue and she was back on line in short order.
I know what you’re thinking. Good for Charlene, but I doubt if the NYT is going to write an article about my business being permanently closed on Google, and you would be right. So, here’s what you can to do.
Google seems to be much more attentive to this issue after the NTY article exposed this kink in their Local Search armor. Last week I received a call Anne Oishi, the owner of Island Honda here on Maui. She told me that her business had been tagged as permanently closed by Google and asked me what to do. Here’s the good news. We were able to get her business back on line in less that 24 hours. And here’s more good news. It was not that hard to do.
If your business listing is off line, you will see one of two things when you go to your Google Place page.
- “Reported to be closed. Not true?”
- “This place is permanently closed. Not true?”
In both cases you have an opportunity to click on the “Not true?” link and tell Google that your business is still open. In the event of Island Honda, I asked the owner to ask her friends to click on this link and indicate to Google that there was an error. In less than 24 hours, Island Honda was back on-line (and showing up very high in the search results for all of their primary keywords). It’s really that easy.
And, If Your Business Is OK?
Please, do not be apathetic about visiting your Google Place page. In the case of Island Honda, they caught the error early. If you don’t check your place page frequently, you will not know that there’s a problem until your business declines.
For more information about getting your business listed high on Google Maps and generating tons of 5 star reviews, go to VisOnTheNet.com
7 Ways You Can Make Your Google Business Listing Stand-Out without having to pay for Google Boost, Google’s paid service
The day was bound to come. Google is no longer offering their $25/month tag service. So, what’s a business owner to do to stand out from the crowd? This video will show you 7 things you can do today to attract the attention of your customers on Google without having to invest in “Boost” their paid advertising service.
Could The Yellow Pages Be Hindering Your Ranking
And Your Ability To Generate FREE Business On Google?
I Contend That The Answer Is “Yes.” Here’s Why.
One of the primary factors Google looks at with respect to ranking your business listing on the map section of their results page is continuity and signal strength. If your business is sending a strong and consistent signal across the web, your listing on Google will be rewarded with higher placement.
There are many factors that determine signal strength including your ability to generate multiple citations from both local and vertical (industry specific) websites. Other factors include well thought-out keyword rich anchor text links leading back to your website from local and industry specific sites, but this is an advanced topic for a future article.
Some citations (signals) are much more valuable (stronger) than others. For example, if you own a mini-storage facility and you have a citation from your local Chamber of Commerce, that is a powerful citation, or indication of trust. The same is true if you have a citation from your mini-storage association.
Citation: A citation is a mention of any combination of your business name, business address and business telephone number on another website. The site does not have to link back to your website to be considered a citation.
On the other hand, if you have a citation from an unrelated website in a community hundreds of miles away, it’s still considered a citation, but the signal strength or trust level is weaker. It’s not as valuable as a local citation or a citation from an industry website, but it’s still counted positively.
Consistency is another factor that determines your signal strength, and this is where the Yellow Pages can potentially create a hiccup in your signal. Google looks for a business name, business address and a business telephone number on all the sites where your business is listed. If Google sees the same information across multiple websites, it’s a sign of trust. If Google sees a different telephone number associated with your business name, it creates a feeling of mistrust. (Interesting use of the word “feeling” when talking about a search engine, but that’s exactly what happens.
Here’s the problem.
There are tens of thousand of local business owners who have been persuaded by the Yellow Pages to use a tracking number with their Yellow Page ad. Having a (telephone) tracking number in print is not the problem. The problem arises when the Yellow Pages shares your business information … along with your tracking number … with hundreds of citation sites including sites they directly control like Yellowpages.com, Superpages.com, Yellowbook.com etc.
When these sites pick up your business name and address with a tracking number, it creates a distorted signal. This in turn can cause Google to lose trust and lower your business listing ranking in their map section. Lack of consistency is considered a negative ranking factor.
So, What’s A Business Owner To Do?
There are many ways to increase your signal consistency, and they all include dropping your tracking number.
Let’s start with an example. If you do a search for Coker Septic Inc in Miami, Fl on Yellowpages.com, you will find the following information for their business listing.
Coker Septic Inc.
6022 SW 35th St
Miami, FL 33155
If you go to their website cokerplumbing.com you will see this information about their business.
Coker Septic Inc.
6022 SW 35th St
Miami, FL 33155
Notice how everything is identical except for the telephone number. This causes a trust problem with Google.
(Good News) Since I wrote this article, Coker Septic, Inc. has fixed the problem with their listing in the Yellow Pages. Now their telephone numbers match and the number they choose was their local Miami number.)
1. If you have a tracking number with the Yellow Pages, get rid of it. Encourage the people who answer the telephone for you to get in the habit of asking every customer how they found you. Don’t be afraid to be specific. If they found you on Yellowpages.com, ask them. If they found you on Google, ask them.
A very busy heating and air conditioning company in St. Louis makes sure that everyone who answers the telephone has immediate access to a note pad listing all the potential ways their customers can contact them. Then they quickly check-off the answer and keep track of the data. Your people can to the same thing.
2. Then, go on the Internet and do a search for the tracking number associated with your business. Go to Yahoo.com and type the telephone number into the search bar. Here are the results for the tracking number for Coker Septic Inc.
3. Finally, you will need to do one of two things. You can either visit each and every website with the tracking number and request that they change your telephone number to your correct local number, or (if you continue to advertise with the Yellow Pages) you can request that they change and promote your actual business number. Once they do that it will take a few months before most of the bad numbers are corrected.
Not Just About The Yellow Pages
You should do this exercise even if you’ve never had an ad with the Yellow Pages. You could be surprised at where and how often your telephone number shows up on the Internet. It could be a telephone number was was incorrectly published by someone else or an old telephone number used by another business before the telephone company reassigned the number to you.
One of the primary keys to moving your business listing up in the search results is signal strength, and you can improve your signal strength significantly by making sure that your business name, address and telephone number are exactly the same on every website.
Once you get your citations (telephone numbers) cleaned up, you will begin see your business listing start to rise on Google Maps. You will also see the same thing start to happen on Yahoo! and Bing.
If You Want More
VizOnTheNet now offers one-on-one Local Search Marketing Consulting for business owners who don’t have the time to attend our Boot Camp. The fee is $995 and it includes two half-day sessions. This is a great alternative for business owners who want our complete attention working with them on their Local Search Marketing Campaign.
If you’re interested, please contact us here in Hawaii at 808-891-0449.