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#1 BillSlawski

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 09:12 AM

The Google Local Business Center opened sometime in March 2005, and Andrew Goodman had a nice writeup of it back then - Businesses' New Relationship with Google Local

I just used it to add a business listing, and to update another business listing in Google Maps/local. At first, it was US only, but it seems that they have added Canada and the UK. It may include other countries now - hard to tell at this point.

To add a business, go to http://maps.google.com/ and click on the link on the bottom left - Business Owners: Add/Edit Your Business


Your business may already be listed in Google Maps/Local. You can check by going to Google Maps and typing in the name of your business. If it is listed, and the information is incorrect, you can change it by logging into the Local Business Center, and making changes and going through their verification process.

If you don't want to show your street address, but have a P.O. Box number, you can still use this system.

You need a Google Account login to use this system.

Anyone else try this yet? How did it go if you did?

#2 bwelford

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 10:16 AM

Thanks, Bill. It worked like a charm here in Montreal, Canada. There was an instant verification system by telephone, which also worked successfully.

I also got $35 credit with Adwords as per the following:

$35 Free Google Advertising Credit for Businesses New to AdWords
If you have a website, give Google AdWords a try. In just a few minutes, you can create ads that appear only to people in your target area. (You can also have an AdWords specialist build your campaign for you.) You choose the cost of your ads, and you only pay if your ads bring people to your website.

Visit http://www.google.com/localcredit and click on "Free Ads?" to get started.

What's not to like about that? :D

#3 BillSlawski

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 11:47 AM

Good to hear, Barry.

The call verification was available for the first business I listed, but someone else in the office picked up the phone, and didn't understand what was going on, and hung up on them (poor planning there). The system recognized that phone verification didn't work, and instead is mailing out a way to verify by letter.

The adwords credit is a nice touch.

#4 yannis

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 11:50 AM

It sounds like a very good idea. Sadly only applicable to USA, Canada, China, Japan, US and UK. Almost like the UN Security Council! It is interesting to see China included. Google certainly sees where the web is growing these days!

Yannis

#5 ukdaz

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 12:15 PM

Barry

Credits. Nice if you can get it! :)

I'm listed but at my old address in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, Uk... Google's system upon logging in this morning did show my new address having been updated... not bad though seeing as I only moved around 2 weeks ago... will guess I just have to wait...

More importantly do you see any referrals in your stats from Google Maps?

I don't expect to get many web visitors myself. W

Whenever I speak with users over here in the UK they either use the AA (Automobile Recovery Service offering online directions) or Multimap.co.uk for directions and Google Search for businesses.

Most of them have never heard of or seen Google Maps so maybe a while before it gets known...?

Had a quick check and not too many businesses listed. In North America is Google Maps highly popular?

Daz

Edited by ukdaz, 20 July 2006 - 12:18 PM.


#6 BillSlawski

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 12:36 PM

Had a quick check and not too many businesses listed. In North America is Google Maps highly popular?


Hard to tell, though it seems like Google is working hard to make it accessible via handhelds.

I've been seeing a lot of potentially useful applications described in patent applications that could use local to a greater extent. It's been integrated into Google local, and Google local results are showing in the onebox results that appear above organic results in Google Web Search.

#7 ukdaz

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 10:48 AM

Bill

...Google local results are showing in the onebox results that appear above organic results in Google Web Search.


True but I do find a LOT of local listings that are listed above the organic results when clicked on offer a telephone number and an address only with no link to the website

Same for you?

Daz

#8 earlpearl

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 10:50 AM

My biz has been in G, Y, and MSN local since they all came out. It had to have come from various YP data.

More recently there have been a variety of enhancements to all 3. They appear to be promising.

Matt McGee has nice write up about all this at his blog: http://www.smallbusi...arketing-guide/

I've recently upgraded w/ G and Y which allow you to add content to your write-up. Its nice you get to control a description which can differ and/or be stronger than the snippet the site may have under a search.

Various reports and studies have found that use of LOCAL (Google renamed it to Google Maps) that is about 1% of search traffic.

That is roughly my experience. Its not yet used much by searchers.

Regardless, in my case I've learned that relevant searches for my biz arrive by a vast array of combinations of phrases that combine long tail descriptions of the business and many variations on the relevant geo descriptions. With that in hand, the usage of Local is roughly as important as the most used variation of relevant biz phrase and geo description.

My gut is that it will see more traffic, not only in G but in Y and MSN. Y particularly loads a page with ppc ads at top and businesses in Local right under that. The over the fold aspect of the page is dominated by these two elements. In fact, I've found flat Y traffic even as my organic rankings are #1 for a great variety of combo's of local and geo descriptions. I can only assume that I'm losing traffic to ppc and/or local.

To get back to G local, it generally lists businesses in relative distance from the starting point.

BUT NOT ALWAYS!!!! There are some type of ranking mechanisms in play so that certain businesses will rank above those that are nearer. In fact Bill and I were pming about this and some of the answers may lie in one of the recent patents he blogged about--possibly this one: http://www.seobythesea.com/?p=245 (I'm going to start researching this stuff this weekend.)

I think if you have or are providing seo for local businesses these are worthwhile areas to investigate...and frankly I'd cover Local in all 3 engines.

Dave

#9 BillSlawski

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 10:59 AM

I see that too, Daz.

I wonder sometimes if it is because the business has no web site, or Google local hasn't identified the homepage of the business as the authority site for that listing.

Here's one of the patent applications that came a couple of weeks ago from Google that describes a process in which they would pick out which site shows for which business when someone searches for that specific business in a particular location:

Authoritative document identification

Here's another that talks about which site they show when the query is for a more generic term, like "pizza" and a region instead of a specific location:

Indexing documents according to geographical relevance

Both of them give some insight into the selection process. Dave and I were discussing these, and I've been blogging about them a little. But, it's really worth digging into them in a little more detail, and with more people involved.

I'm going to be adding another blog post shortly about that second patent application, but neither patent discusses this local business center, or the reviews attached to businesses. So, it would be great hearing other people's experiences with local. If you've added a local business center description, has it made a difference to your traffic? How do reviews get accepted into what Google includes?

#10 bwelford

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 11:18 AM

I still find http://local.google.com/ a somewhat crude search process. Here in Canada, it's based on the Yellow Pages, which is notoriously mediocre. A search for 'internet marketing consultant' in Montreal shows an incorrect Yellow Pages address for my company that is 18 months out-of-date. It supposedly is a paid entry, but I never did pay anything and over a month ago I told Yellow Pages to withdraw it. It has been withdrawn but Google still shows it. I wonder how often they synchronize their databases. I guess they'd update PageRank more often since that is their USP. :)

#11 earlpearl

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 08:18 PM

I just experimented w/Google Maps/Local Business Center in adding a coupon for my business per their new program (access Seobythesea.com to read all about it!)

In doing this I stumbled upon one of the reasons Google Maps tends to be rarely used by visitors (at least on my business site).

In order to access the coupon one needs to take the following steps:

1. Access Google Maps as an alternative to a search in the google search box

2. Enter the business name or business description and a location.

3. Choose a business from the list provided by Google Maps ranked according to its unique methodology. (quite well described at seobythesea).

4. The choice takes you to a Google Maps description with 2 alternatives to click; a top larger link that takes you to the full Google Maps description. This can include specific business owner description...and in my case the coupon. Or....alternatively you can click on a smaller link directly to the business url....and (OH NO) bypass the Google Maps description and Coupon.


Alternatively you can access the business or a list of businesses through a longtail search with a combination of business terms and relevant geographical information. One Step!!!!

Additionally, there seems to be better ranking logic for location off of regular Google Searches than off of Google Maps.

One step versus a number of steps.

My long term experience (and infinite review of logs) is that access to my site via long tail searches that combine geo area and business terms delivers many many many more visitors than access to the site via Google Maps (formerly Google Local).

Google Local Business Center/Maps has a lot of nice features....but it is significantly easier for a visitor to find a business (if it is optimized locally) in regular google search.



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