Local Service Ads

Buying Leads with Google Local Service Ads

Initially called Home Service Ads in the Summer of 2015 to select-only metro areas, Google now re-branded it to Local Service Ads. For locals who do not know, Local Service Ads are designed to provide quality leads at pre-set prices and at the top of search results without you having to do the legwork. It’s still relatively new, so time will tell the value in them. Currently, these are the services.

  • Electrician
  • Garage Door Pro
  • Hvac
  • Locksmith
  • Plumber
  • Other

This will be available to Minneapolis and St. Paul by years end, and just as of yesterday, a partial one for locksmiths showed up.

locksmith local services ads

Side note, locksmiths have been known to use shady techniques to achieve local placements like providing fake addresses, spammy business names, and blatant review spam. This happens in Minneapolis and St. Paul as well as nationwide and can make it more difficult for legitimate local businesses to claim these top listings.

An edge for you is Google helps ensure company legitimacy when setting up local services ads. 1, the service costs money and 2, you have to be willing to provide insurance and let Google run a business background check on you.

Similar to directory leads, inclusion includes directory placement in a particular niche, location or category. Some can be found in search results, too.

Different than directory leads, Google in general lets you provide more superior information in front of searchers. Just part of information you’ll be able to provide, partially taken from Google My Business. From the mobile:

local service

You can also build trust with the Google check marked guarantee while also being at the top of their search results.

If you know you’re good at closing leads, this could be really beneficial, and really measurable. If you close half of your quality leads, you can assign that incoming call a value to your leads in Google Analytics, making you more confident when providing your reports. In closing half of your leads, you would approximately close 5 out of 10 leads at $140.00, or $28.00/lead.

Cost Per Lead

There does seem to be a positive sliding type scale, costing you a little less per lead the more money you spend. When I checked, it costs $50.oo for anywhere between 2 and 10 leads. Yesterday in the Minneapolis area, locksmiths were 10 leads for the $50.00.

Whether this is good for you is your call and budget. A plus is that Google does the work. A minus is Google does the work. As the service program becomes more used, the more information and specific examples we can give you as we’ll have all the latest info.


LocalMN Interactive provides Local Services Ads consulting in addition to our search marketing services, or as a service alone. Contact us through form, email or your preferred social media portal to chat and we can collectively get things started.

LocalMN Interactive Google My Business

Setting your Google My Business Hours for Thanksgiving

Fast, easy, painless, and it literally takes 5 minutes or less. It’s surprising how many local businesses do not take the time to change their Thanksgiving hours of operation in Google, but understandable. Many may just not realize how easy it is, or maybe don’t do it because they don’t want to have to remember to set the hours back after the holiday. Straight from Google,

Set special hours

For days when your business has an irregular schedule, like holidays or special events, you can enter special hours in advance. If you schedule special hours, your regular hours remain in place for all other days.

They make it really easy to let you know and guide you as well. Here’s an email I recently received.

Holiday Hours

Click “Go to my holiday hours” (or go to your Google My Business account), follow a few easy steps including the ones below to confirm and you’re done.

Closed HoursAdd Hours The best part, the hours automatically revert back to normal after Thanksgiving. No worrying about remembering to set the hours back.

 

 

 

 

 

House of Charity

Google Maps in Elliot Park – 10/19/17

Recently, I had coffee with a Director of a lot of things Minneapolis. We chatted about many things downtown including the different neighborhoods, board openings for the downtown council and East Town. I haven’t heard that term before and it’s a combination of Downtown East and Elliott Park. Later in the day I decided to take a zig-zag 6 mile #mspwalk to learn more about the area, businesses, schools and areas of attraction.

First, a familiar sighting that takes you pretty much at the border of Downtown East and Elliot Park.

LRT

A block away is the Minneapolis Armory. Home from 1947 – 1960, they were a dynasty in their own right. Nowadays, the Armory sits mostly vacant although that’s about to change. A pop-up club named Club Nomadic is making plans for that space during the Super Bowl. They promise to have top grade concerts, bars and entertainment.

Minneapolis Armory

Google Maps shows Club Nomadic as permanently closed. It makes sense. It’s a pop-up club that travels to big NFL events, namely the Super Bowl last year in Houston. It had the same pop-up concept last year in with mixed reviews, the biggest complaint is something that could possibly happen here. Parking and driving. Uber’s service helped but many still waited over an hour for the service. We know parking is an issue here, and hopefully the councils that be are on it, or patrons have already booked a hotel like the Radisson Red a block away. No word on who the musical acts are yet, either. We’re hoping this announcement comes soon.

My big questions is what are they going to do with the Armory once the Super Bowl is done? They say they plan to have events like weddings, car shows, and boxing events. Again, we’ll see what the councils that be have planned or are on top of it.

Nov 6 Update: Mystic Lake Casino is now added as a 2nd pop-up venue with one act already booked. No word from Nomadic yet on what their plans are now for the Armory location.

Portland Tower

The Portland Tower is a new luxury condo complex with as of this writing, over half being sold or reserved. The location was probably thought out very well being right by downtown skyway access and easy access to 35 and 94. It fits in for gentrification well, too. It’s right by the House of Charity and turn-of-the-century residential apartments and to my knowledge, they’re not going anywhere.

 

House of Charity

I’m glad to see the House of Charity standing right next door to the Portland Tower. It has some mixed reviews on Google, which is expected. It’s a place dedicated to help the homeless with the goal to help them gain more independence. Places like this are golden opportunities. I know a few folks who have successfully lived in places like this and then proactively went on to bigger and better things.

Elliot Recreation Center has a collegiate sized field with a fantastic view of downtown Minneapolis. Opened in 2015, the field’s a partnership between the North Central University Rams and the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation. It only has a few, mixed Google reviews, but they keep it pristine during the season and is available for rental through the city of Minneapolis. They even use it for the North Central Wellness department.

Elliot Field Park

Work on Elliot Park Field

I’ve been by the Hinkle-Murphy house many times and never gave it a second thought. It’s a historical landmark built in 1887 first lived in by a leading flour producer, now to multi-commercial tenants including Fay & Associates, injury attorneys at law. It’s pristine and right on the southern edge of downtown in Elliot Park. See for yourself.

Fay and Associates

What can you say about the Band Box Diner? It’s delicious greasy breakfast burger and fries, and that’s about it. The positive reviews say it all and to top it off, they have a good sense of humor.

Band Box Diner Menu

Band Box Diner


This is all just one part of Elliot Park. LocalMN offers web services including neighborhood and local marketing. Contact us, view the rest of our site and see us on your social media channel of choice.

Hennepin and Washington

Life as a Google Local Guide – Lev Livet

A day as a Google Local Guide is pretty much living your life as anyone else. You get up, go about your day and be aware of your potential opportunities to hopefully add useful local content. When updating this content, and with a smart phone in hand it hardly takes any time to update some local on the fly.

Washington Square

Just a couple weeks ago I added a photo I recently took to help showcase the renovated 100 Washington Square building with the newer Penny’s Coffee inside. That corner took on renovation and built the coffee shop right in the building with just delicious crepes. This is fantastic for our neighborhood and the businesses within.

First, a brief history. Local Guides started out as Google’s City Experts program in 2013 with the intention of competing with Yelpers, mostly to bring in higher quality business ratings and reviews to Google+. The benefits were simple. You occasionally got free stuff. We like free stuff.

In early 2015, Google brought over the name “Local Guides” with more of a community feel. Benefits were more structured and multi-leveled based depending on the quality and quantity of reviews and other information provided.

Local Guides became more passionate, worldwide, with a proud user-base knowing they did their small part on making the web better and help engaging with the public to why users would want to visit their area. Diwali celebration, anyone?Hennepin Ave Bridge

I often do this at a hyper-local level. I love and am involved with the neighborhood and Ward I live in and want to do my part to showcase it whether it’s businesses, organizations or areas of interest within. How many bridges can stake their claim as the first bridge to span the Mississippi River (while sportin’ my Gophers hat, of course)?

This all doesn’t go without its hiccups. There are still a few Local Guides who update content just for the reason to gain points and receive whatever the “benefits of the month” are. As well, there are guides who often even inadvertently fix current listings uploaded by aggressive marketers trying to game the “ranking” system. In my opinion, both of these come with the territory.

The core intent is still the same, to give users local information including reviews, photos and other information of places to visit and buy. The optimization is always there too, with local proximity giving arguably the highest notch, which it should, to how visible a location to the user happens to be. Someone asked me about Map Maker. I don’t know if this is a planned enhancement to their now-closed product, or if I’ll ever know.

Check the Facts

Since, Google gave Level 4+ Guides on Android the opportunity to check local facts and answer yes/no questions about locations. Now this feature is open to everyone and my guess it’s to help jump-start accurate local business information. This only gives 1 point to guides although given the ease-of-use and small time spent to verify is probably the right number. It’s prone to point-spam.

Local Guides have been popular enough in its own niche, and they just had their 2nd annual invite-only Local Guides Summit held in San Francisco. Eligibility requirements were to be (then) a Level 5 Guide, have proactive community/portal involvement in Connect and a minute-long video application sent in to why you should be selected to attend.


I was not selected.

Recently, they’ve invited people to share accessibility knowledge by answering yes/no wheelchair questions. People can use this approach and/or imply this feature on photos taken like I did in just over a minute at Target Field Station. The stadium already works well with the ADA and this enhancement can help make the game-day experience just that much better.

Wheelchair Access - Target Field Station

Wheelchair Access – Target Field Station

Through it all, the only constant is change. They’re always changing benefits and adding initiatives to help showcase your community. Local Guides will always be there. At least, the concept certainly will. Just like true Google fashion, they may be prone to change the name after awhile. They may continue to push forward with it or there may be a time where local content is fulfilled enough that they’ll move it more into a maintenance type of program. Nonetheless, is this something that you’ll be using either for yourself, neighborhood, or your clients?

Maps View of Early Morning Walk

Time Saving Ways to Add Info To Google Maps

Whether you’re a Google Local Guide, community advocate, like maps, photography and improve how people navigate around your neighborhood, this is a way to help showcase your area. All you need is a smart phone that takes the Google Maps app.

For me, I’m passionate about Ward 3 in Minneapolis. It contains 10 unique neighborhoods, although we hope to strive them to make friendly enough as one. We do have an election coming up and that factors in for my vote. These photos are from a small early morning walk down the street in the Downtown West neighborhood.

Just by walking around, I was able to find different businesses, parks and local areas of interest. On the skyway and vibrant streets of Downtown West lies Washington Square.

Washington Square

Within Washington Square is Penny’s Downtown, open since the latter half of 2016.

Photo taken for Google Maps

This above maps image is one I did on the smart phone and it took just minutes. Photos, review and all just took minutes out of my day.

But I digress and off to others.

Washington and Marquette lies one of 190 Nice Ride Bikes stationed across the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. As a whole, Nice Ride a local independent 501(c)3 non profit created to operate the bike share system. It has a board of directors and they’re always open to questions or feedback. See their FAQ page.

Nice Ride Bike

This bike has a customized sticker by the handle bars. No plans to bike to the St. Paul Farmers Market today but can be done for the adventurous.

This again can be submitted to Google in minutes.

A relatively unknown park is the Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Survivor Park, next to their headquarters on Washington Ave and Nicollet Mall, They do have a local page for their corporate presence, but not for the park itself. The park is really nice for people watching, lunch and just laying out to catch some rays. It even showcases events such as dance and yoga classes and in the photo below, a round of Kubb played during the 2017 Kubb Krawl.

Kubb at Cancer Survivor Center

I haven’t created a maps review or photo(s) just because the park itself doesn’t have a local page. Just their corporate office does under Marquette Plaza. In the meantime I could take a few minutes to add a missing place for them.

Nonetheless, the park has a nice view, wouldn’t you say?

View from Cancer Survivors Park

Just down the street, Whole Foods have certainly made an impact. Many folks have made reviews for them, and it fits well in the newly constructed condo and luxury apartment community and the higher pedestrian traffic. As Washington Ave construction is nearing completion with wider lanes and sidewalks, a bicycle lane and improved safety as vehicle and pedestrian/bicycle traffic often share the same area with vehicles.

Whole Foods

Apples at Whole Foods

A review I wrote a few years ago.

Whole Foods Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Nice Ride Station, right in the neighborhood at Gateway Park.

Gateway Park Nice Ride Station

Nontheless, it doesn’t take much time at all to do these. Try it for yourself, showcase your neighborhood to the world and even enhance your SEO a bit.

Pianos on Parade on 3rd and Hennepin

Show off Your Local and Make Your Own Google Posts

I became intrigued with this yesterday reading a post from Mike Blumenthal titled Google Posts Rolls Out Worldwide. You can now own more search engine real estate by providing short, recent posts, right on your Google Local Business Knowledge Graph.

Google Posts

Google recommends these posts be between 100 and 300 characters long (plus a quality photo). We recommend sticking closer to 100. This reads well for the user, plus Google only originally displays the 1st 100 characters in the listing.

For the photo, use one similar that you would use for Instagram. Google lets you crop it and move it around all slick like until it’s just right for you.

You can place a call-to-action to these posts with a URL whether it’s to entice users to buy, visit your site, book a reservation, sign up for a newsletter, or whichever you want your call-to-action to be.

Call to Action

For you businesses who wonder if you should start a blog, this just may be it. At least, Google hopes you think so. You would give consumers fresh, compelling content right in front of them while keeping the content within Google itself.

In Google’s announcement, they give you 4 standard examples.

Share daily specials or current promotions that encourage new and existing customers to take advantage of your offers.

Promote events and tell customers about upcoming happenings at your location.

Showcase your top products and highlight new arrivals.

Choose one of the available options to connect with your customers directly from your Google listing: give them a one-click path to make a reservation, sign up for a newsletter, learn more about latest offers, or even buy a specific product from your website.

Let’s customize a few to the Twin Cites letting customers know of these all while just doing branded searches for you.

  • Local summer road closures – ‘Tis the season. We all see it. Proactively let your customers know of this coming weekend alternative routes to you.
  • Date Specials – Some local restaurants have weekly date specials such as pizza and 1/2 off bottle of wine. Keep your customers informed.
  • Events at local areas of interests – Summers are full of different events at places like Loring Park, Mears Park in Lowertown, Stone Arch Bridge and St. Anthony main. Keep customers informed and up-to-date on all the different events at the users favorite places.

The list could go on and on. Just be creative.

Note: This can be all done on a laptop, but you can do this all on the mobile, too. Give it a try and keep up to date since this is where your users are going. When using the mobile to log into Google My Business, this screenshot is of a very user-friendly way to create these posts.

Create Post

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, being Google it’s easy to share to other places. curious to how it’s perceived on Facebook so I sent this out.Share to Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share or not share on other places? Will local businesses catch on? This is still brand new so the verdict is still out there.

 

 

Google Map of Pride Parade

Custom TC Pride Parade Map and Route

The Twin Cities press does a great job provide information of the upcoming Pride Festival. As well, Google recently came out with finding Pride events in 35 cities worldwide on your mobile device. Of the 35, Google currently doesn’t include the Twin Cities, which sounds strange, but here is an interactive, customized Google Map for the Twin Cities Parade route, businesses and areas of interest for you to edit, view, add, share, and call your own!

As well, here’s a link to the editable map to view and use including the weekend Light Rail closure.

For nearby businesses, use the editable link above to add or edit your business through Google My Business and include updated hours, photos and special to help encourage users to visit you during the whole Pride weekend.

Google Local Guide Levels

New Points Levels for Google Local Guides

Now available to its Local Guides, Google lets you reach new levels up to 10. The numbering system for actions such as edits, reviews and photos have changed and are retroactive. This means you may already be leveled up without doing a thing.

It’s not a big surprise, but they are now placing more relative points for reviews and photos at 5 points each in a believed effort to increase quality.

For active users, this update seems to be more for recognition purposes although there are a few perks for those who reach level 4-10.

3 Months of Google Play

  • Free three-month subscription to the Google Play Store
  • 75% off rental in the Google Play Movie Store
  • Access to unique badges to showcase your levels

For me, it may benefit Google when I see this as I’m currently weighing the pros and cons at just using one service.

There will still be lookouts for spammers, fake reviews and as Mike Blumenthal eloquently puts them, “spewers” just as there are in other disciplines in search.

Overall, it’s a nice touch offered to Google Local Guides whether they use it for perks, recognition, or improving maps for users in their area.

 


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LocalMN 101 – Google Photos for Businesses

Google Photos can be used best when thinking as a user. You can use it on its own, for Google products such as Maps, or an organizer to distribute your photos to Apple Maps, other local portals or social sites such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

And,  you can use all of this solely for SEO reasons. Please don’t.

As mentioned in the video, it can take awhile to set up and customized to your liking or needs. An organized Google Photos account can be like a switchboard. Once it’s ready and you need a photo, you can pretty much pick it, then title, describe, tag it and place where you need it.

 


LocalMN Interactive provides years of local search experience, including Google Trusted Street View Photography. Ask for a quote for a website redesign, marketing and photography services through our contact page, phone or your social media portal of your choice.

LocalMN 301 – Using Your Google Photos on Sites that are NOT Google

Now you should have a good idea how to organize your Google Photos and the basics on how to use Google My Business to submit them to Google Maps.

Now how about using your Google Photos, that you own, and place them on places that even compete with Google?

How about Siri?

Siri uses a lot of business information including photos from Yelp. Your business can sign up to Yelp for free to where you can upload your organized Google photos.

Yelp Photo

Yelp Photo

Of course there’s Apple Maps itself. You can sign in to Apple Maps Connect for free by just using your Apple ID, then add your organized Google photos. Speaking of Apple, many don’t know that Apple Maps is the default when you open your iPhone box. You could be searching Yelp results without even knowing you’re talking to Siri.

The same concept can apply to many other local/social portals including:

  • Bing
  • Flickr
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Foursquare
  • Flickr
  • Pinterest

Just like Google, it’s important to add titles, descriptions and (geo)tags to each, individual photo. As well, you can do these either on a desktop or mobile with their apps. Whichever is more convenient for you.

Why would you do this for all of these sites?

Because Google loves these sites.

If you do a branded company search and the businesses have done this, not to mention your own site, the first page will be flooded with your portals. It’s even better for the user. Depending on their wants, they may specifically be looking for your Facebook page, Instagram feed or even Pinterest boards.

In the end, you still have all of your Google photos, organized to your needs or liking. All of this is a time saver, organizer, SEO tool, and user tool all wrapped into one. The time it takes you to do this is valuable, although the outside costs can be as little as nothing.


LocalMN Interactive offers full local search services which includes this, photography of your business and even overall digital marketing. Contact us to learn more.