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    14 Replies Latest reply on Apr 4, 2013 11:42 AM by Techxan

    Alternative to Google Local

    springfixers Wayfarer

      I have been using Google Places for years.  In the past 6 months they have changed to make it very difficult for the Service Area Businesses (we come to you vs you come to us) to keep a good listing. We were at the top of the food chain so to speak in our area, then suddenly we disappeared.  Of course it's virtually impossible to speak with anyone helpful in any way at Google.  We've spent thousands of dollars on so called "Google Partners" who said they can "optimize" our listing to be first.  6 months later, we still can not be found unless you specifically look for our company name.  Business has dropped by about 45% since this started.  Any suggestions or recommendations to get that "Googler" back as a customer?

       

      Korey -

      AGS - A Garage Door Service

      Denton, Tx

      www.springfixers.com

        • Re: Alternative to Google Local
          Moderator Berta Guide

          Hi Korey, welcome to the community.

           

          I'm sorry to hear that has happened to your business. You've come to a great place for help. I'm sure some of our members can give you some suggestions.

           

          Best wishes.

           

          ~Berta

          • Re: Alternative to Google Local
            jrmccormick Adventurer

            Korey,

             

            I know that Google can be frustrating when they change how their analytic service is ranking users!  It really can affect business and how much traffic is going to your site.

             

            We are a web development and marketing team that specializes in small businesses.  We have a full time SEO (search engine optimization) tech on staff. 

             

            Please give us a call and lets chat, about your website and get you back on top!

             

            Warm regards,

            Joan McCormick

            ISADEX Corp.

            www.isadex.com

            1-888-582-7085

            • Re: Alternative to Google Local
              DAGMAR Adventurer

              Korey,

               

              Google is cracking down on service businesses that travel to their customers and don't have a physical office or shop.  You will want to make sure you check mark the box "hide address" if you go to your clients place of business instead of clients coming to you.  As long as you do this then you are in compliance with Google Places guidelines.

               

              Whats going on is people don't have this check box marked and Google is calling to verify if they go out to clients or clients come to them via a phone call.  If you say you go to your clients on the phone but don't have that check box marked they can and will remove your listing.

               

              I know it's very frustrating but Google considers it a free service and you get what you pay for.

               

              Chris Gregory

              DAGMAR Marketing.

              dagmarmarketing.com

                • Re: Alternative to Google Local
                  Guide

                  Hi Dagmar,

                   

                  Thank you for posting that very valuable piece of information. I am sure Springfixers is not the only one to have this negative experience. I am sure there is a reason for this change of policy, but I can not figure out why traveling to clients would be a problem. Do you know?

                   

                  Melinda

                    • Re: Alternative to Google Local
                      DAGMAR Adventurer

                      Hi Melinda,

                       

                      It's not that Google looks down on that practice but keep in mind these listings appear on Google Maps.  Google wants to display actual physical business locations that the user can go to.  If someone is working out of their house and travels to the clients then the user doesn't need to see the address of that business because it isn't relative.  Google is all about showing relevance to it's users.

                       

                      Plus this is a common tactic of spammers so their policy is that if you go to your clients and clients do not come to you, then you need to select the "hide address" check box so your address isn't listed.  Google has stated that this won't affect your rankings.  However, I feel it does affect rankings but its better to do what Google is asking then to risk losing your listing all together which is whats going on right now.

                       

                      Chris Gregory

                      DAGMAR Marketing.

                      dagmarmarketing.com

                       

                        • Re: Alternative to Google Local
                          linda buquet Newbie

                          Hi Kory,

                           

                           

                          I'm a Google Top Contributor and help business owners with problems like this every day at the Google Business forum. In fact, have you posted there or at the Local Search Forum? Your name looks familiar so I think I've seen one of our posts somewhere..Just happened to see your post here and wanted to stop by.

                           

                           

                          I know Chris, who's a member of the Local Search Forum and a real industry pro! I agree with all he said. Google is tragically hard on service area businesses and has deleted hundreds of thousands of listings for not complying with the hide your address rule. BUT if your listing is live there is hope!

                           

                           

                          Hiding address does not hurt ranking any more IMO. I look at and help hundreds of businesses a week. Set location to San Marcos Ca. and search for "San Marcos Plumber".  Be sure it's San Marcos CA not TX. The top 3 have address hidden. The lower ones don't. Tons of #1 listings have address hidden so that's not your problem.

                           

                           

                          I do ranking troubleshooting all the time and there are a variety of things that could be wrong. But the 1st thing to ask is... was your listing deleted at one point by Google and then revived? If so how long ago??? Because it can take 6 - 8 weeks to start ranking again.

                           

                          Let me know and then if that's not it, I can take a peek and see if I notice any problems.

                           

                          FYI for everyone else. There is a NEW BUG I've posted about extensively where, even if you comply and hide address, the addresses just started showing again for some listings about a week ago. I reported to Google and they are working on it and said they would not delete any more listings in the meantime.

                           

                          ALSO FYI for all. There IS help at Google if you know the right channels. Depends on the type of problem but there is even phone support now. But again how to get support and which options depends on the type of issue you need help with.

                           

                          Hope this helps and best of luck.

                           

                          Linda Buquet

                           

                           


                            • Re: Alternative to Google Local
                              DAGMAR Adventurer

                              Thanks for your input Linda.  Always good to hear what you have to say. 

                              • Re: Alternative to Google Local
                                springfixers Wayfarer

                                Thanks for replying Linda.  I have that Hide address checked, and always have.  I think that's more of an excuse to delete than reason.  I definitely understand that google does not want it's customers driving to a place that does not exist, but at at the same time, their lack of support for the SAB is... well pathetic for multi billion dollar company.  I know they say it's a free service and we should not expect support, but is it?  We all wade through the pages of ads for which they get paid.  We stop listing our businesses, they stop getting paid by advertisers.  They need us just as much as we need them and should support us equally. Sorry, there's my Google rant for the day. 

                                 

                                I've tried pay per click, but when I get over a hundred clicks in a week and not one phone call, I'm thinking those aren't real clicks from customers.  If they could send me a list of IP addresses or anything that proves clicks actually happened from different IP addresses, then maybe, but I just have a problem paying for something that I have no control of and they are not able to prove ever even happened.  PPC is like paying for a television ad when they say they can't tell me when the ad is going to air, if it aired, or if it was ever even recorded, but go ahead and pay anyway.  Probably not a good idea.

                                 

                                In regards to paid SEO, If I want real results from one of these companies that call themselves "Google Partner" I have to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month for real results.  My business just does not have that type of profitability or margins to justify that kind of expenses.  For a standard service call I'd have to charge $500 to repair a $600 door, just doesn't make sense and I don't operate that way. 

                                 

                                I've considered Angie's List, but I'm having a personal problem with a company that advertises that companies can not pay to get on the list, but then doesn't show the companies unless they pay.  I just have a personal problem with that.  Maybe I just need to get over it and pay.

                                 

                                Yellow Pages are pretty much done now.  The last ad I paid for cost me over $350 a month for 12 months and I got 1 job out of it that netted me $99.  Would say that was a bad idea.

                                 

                                Print ads and billboards brought in business, but just enough to cover the cost.  I was basically working to pay for the advertising.  Great way for them to make money, but we didn't get eat.

                                 

                                Anyone have new ideas?

                                  • Re: Alternative to Google Local
                                    DAGMAR Adventurer

                                    Korey,

                                     

                                    No argument on your Google rant.  They totally miss the boat from a customer service perspective.  If they would only realize that if they took care of small businesses and provided exceptional service with their business listing product then they would generate much more business for their Adwords Express product which they are spending millions on with advertising.

                                     

                                    That said, advertising has changed dramatically in the last decade.  The budget that small businesses used to spend with the yellow pages now needs to be spent on the companies website and most businesses don't know where to turn to or how to do that. 

                                     

                                    If you can't afford a good SEO shop then I would recommend becoming a student of Local SEO and start with making sure your business information is accurate across all the business listing services - Yelp, YP.com, Merchant Circle...etc.  Most offer free placement so all that it costs you is your time.  You will want to make sure you have a good website that can grow with your business.  I would recommend a wordpress website as it's easy to add content and easy to optimize.  Then when your ready you will have a good foundation to increase your digital leads and perhaps enough to hire an expert to help.  Keep in mind it's an advertising expense and an investment at the same time.  Investing in your website is one of the smartest investments you can make as a business owner.  Spend what you can afford but make sure improving your website is part of your marketing budget.

                                     

                                    Best of luck.

                                     

                                    Chris Gregory

                                    DAGMAR Marketing

                                    • Re: Alternative to Google Local
                                      Techxan Wayfarer

                                      There is a real lack of availability of affordable SEO services for people in the local community who are service providers.  Perhaps I can help you out a little bit.

                                       

                                      Nothing is going to perform like an effective online presence.  But it must be effective.  SEO simply works.

                                       

                                      Most SEO providers set up their company to service larger clients with advertising budgets that local craftsmen an service people cannot match.

                                       

                                      The sad truth though is that it takes very little to rank a small service site especially in a specific geographical area.  This is because, for the mot part, these service people do not know how to market their own website, and are tired of getting ripped off when they hire someone.

                                       

                                      Let's face it, you know how to run your business, not a web services company, and your competition is in the same boat you are.

                                       

                                      I should say that your website should be properly optimized to target search terms that people actually search for.  You should also try to offer your visitor more than just who your are and what you do.  Your website should offer something to your visitor that another site does not offer, otherwise there is no reason for Google to serve your site above any others, if every thing else is equal.

                                       

                                       

                                      Firstmake the following accounts in your company name and link them to your website:

                                       

                                      Facebook (make a personal account and then create a business page), Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin, and any other social sites you like.  These links help prove to Google that you are the person in the business and ads credibility to your website.  It also adds credibility in your customers eyes.

                                       

                                      Keep the URLS so you can add then to the directories below.

                                       

                                       

                                      Next, get your business listed in as many small business web directories as you can find, concentrating on as many of those own community and in your business vertical as possible.

                                       

                                      These are the rules for submitting your business to these directories.

                                       

                                      Get a specific profile ready, and use it on every submission without changing a word.  Once you start promoting your business you want all the business references online  to say exactly the same thing.  This consistency is critical in Google's eyes.

                                       

                                      You will need to have all of your business information ready to go, and prepare 15 photos of your business or service, and if possible a few videos.  For the photos, decide on a caption for the photo, and use it for all submissions.  Resist the temptation to switch them up.  Open a YouTube account in your company name and host the videos there. Gather all the URLs of your social media accounts and have them ready.

                                       

                                      For your business information the Name, Address, and Phone number must not be used by another business.  If your son has a yard mowing company using your phone number, get him his own.

                                       

                                      Get an e-mail address in the company domain and use it only for these submissions.  You will have to verify many of these accounts, and any contact they make will be through this e-mail.   This contact e-mail address should not be the company e-mail address listed on the website. Have both ready.

                                       

                                      You need to develop three descriptions for your business, short, medium, and long.  The short should be 150 characters long or less, the medium 300 or less, and the large about 500 or so.  CHARACTERS,not words.  The medium description should include the entire small description,plus a few more words, and the long description should include both the short and medium descriptions plus a few more words.  This keeps the listing consistent regardless of which length description you wind up using.

                                       

                                      Do a Google search for "local business directories", go to each one and manually submit your company.  Use exactly the same information on each submission,and the same pictures.  Use the description that best fits the available space they have in that box. When filling out these submissions, give them all you can.  If they have a spot for 10 pictures, give them all 10.  Fill each submission out as fully as possible. Some of these business will try to charge you a fee, or require you to link from your site to them.  When this occurs,  take the free listings only or skip these directories.

                                       

                                      MAKE SURE you spell everything right,in every instance.  This is not something that you need to hurry and knock out.  This is the advertising foundation of your business online, give it the time and attention it deserves.

                                       

                                      Do this for the first 100 directories that come up in your search, and for any business related websites you can register at.

                                       

                                      Do this manually yourself, don't go to Fiverr and expect it to be done right.  No one else, except a real local SEOist, understands how important doing this right is. Do 10 a day until you are done.

                                       

                                      If your onpage SEO is right so that Google can figure out what your business is, these steps will usually get your to the front page of Google for the search terms you site targets, unless you are in a large market or have an SEO savvy competitor.

                                       

                                      After doing these things, actively seek out positive reviews for your business from your customers.  Get every possible positive online review, no matter where they want to leave it.

                                       

                                      Proof?

                                       

                                      Search for the following keywords in Google:

                                      costs hardwood floor refinishing houston

                                      houston hardwood floor refinishing

                                      floor refinish houston

                                      floor refinishing houston

                                      houston hardwood refinishing

                                      houston wood floor restoration

                                      wood floor refinishing houston

                                      hardwood floor refinishing houston

                                      houston floor refinish

                                      wood floor refinishers in houston tx

                                      houston wood flooring refinishers

                                      cost of refinishing hardwood floors houston

                                      refinish wood floor houston

                                      houston hardwood floor repair

                                      houston hardwood floor

                                      houston hardwood flooring

                                       

                                      http://www.hardwoodfloorrefinishing-houston.com is a site I do the SEO for.  This gentleman owns the market for hardwood floor refinishing in Houston.  His crews are always busy.  When I started, he and a helper were the crew.

                                       

                                      Also note, by using the website address above, I have created a backlink for my hardwood flooring customer that will add to his SEO. (if the Mods leave it.)

                                       


                                  • Re: Alternative to Google Local
                                    Guide

                                    Now I understand, Dagmar. Well I can't say that it isn't a good thing (in terms of privacy). It seems that there is a simple solution but not everyone is aware of it (obviously judging from what you wrote).

                                     

                                    This is just like any other change. At first it will cause problems but then eventually will work itself out. I know if I paid google and had a good ranking and fell into this, I would not be happy. But eventually, things will get better once the dust settles.

                              • Re: Alternative to Google Local
                                Moderator Berta Guide

                                Great thread everyone! Keep the responses coming.

                                 

                                ~Berta