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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.

Google Posts

A Minneapolis Month into Google Posts

It’s been a month since first writing about Making Your Own Google Posts. According to Google Trends, this new feature has only taken off slightly at times.

It’s slick, still relatively unknown and you can post up to 10 carousel posts to show up when folks search for your branded name, the first 2+ being visible upon the initial search. Google up “localmn” and you may see something like this.

Google Posts LocalMN

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meant to be truly local, I decided to try some local “best nearby” searches including restaurants, lawyers and realtors. To my surprise, none of them use the Google Posts feature. Here is what I thought about these searches:

  • Nearly all have claimed their Google my Business profiles
  • Nearly all have done at least an adequate job at populating content in their GMB
  • They most likely haven’t heard of Google posts, or their respective agencies haven’t or don’t find it useful

What About Search?

Consider these points.

These posts show up when people do branded searches for you. They will most likely find you whether you did a speck of SEO or not. They recommend your posts be between 100 and 300 characters long, much less than a standard SEO just makes common sense to populate these posts with quality content for interested users. They do urge you to go with 200 or 300 words of content. Stick to 100 characters as that’s the amount of characters Google shows in the results. Again, people are doing a branded search. SEO is fine for this, although quality content for users can be perceived as better.

What Local Businesses Uses Google Posts?

I literally couldn’t find a business in Minneapolis who currently uses the new Google Posts feature. So, I went to Twitter and Instagram. Got a few likes, but nothing.

Twitter Question

Instagram

To me, this is still an up-tapped market. Google is always coming up with something new in their local division and it makes sense that this may currently be overlooked. Tap into it. It’s free and it’s Google, and you don’t need to worry about setting up and maintaining a blog.


LocalMN Interactive provides Local Search Services including consulting for setting up and maintaining your Google Posts for a way to keep your customers well-updated and informed of what you have going on for them. Contact us of visit us on your social media channel of choice to learn more.

North Loop Minneapolis

Google Maps and Street View Photos in the North Loop

Today’s #mspwalk is in the Minneapolis North Loop area to showcase the neighborhood, stills and indoor and outdoor Street View photos we offer at LocalMN. It was longer and split up into 2 walks for a little over 8 miles on gmap-pedometer as I needed to recharge my iPhone.

gmap-pedometer

Red Cow North Loop – The first Google review I saw happens to be from myself a year ago.

Spacious, modern, tasty, decently priced for the neighborhood. Their soft pretzel app has a sweetness that I haven’t tasted before.

Their North Loop page could use an updated title and meta description, but I digress.

Red Loop North Loop Title and Meta Description

 

Per their Facebook page, The Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts is the Twin Cities’ newest venue for dance and the performing arts! As well, it’s a half block from the Light Rail. There’s even breakdance performance according to a Google reviewer.

Amazing theater. I saw some AMAZING breakdance there, and it was RAW; the hip-hop there wasn’t anything like competition dance, or jazz-choreographer-trys-hip-hop style of performance, it was straight off the old school beat-street.

In addition to the house that Prince built, plenty of local artists proudly have their own star on the First Avenue wall.

First Avenue Wall

 

 

 

 

Odonovans Pub

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Per above, on a triangular corner in the middle of pretty much everything sits O’Donovan’s Pub. A true Irish pub, Dropkick Murphys have even played there years ago.

The Target Field Station is what I would consider the transportation hub of North Loop/Warehouse District with the Light Rail, Northstar, Target Field and Center all pretty much there. As well, catch the skyway there to go almost anywhere downtown. From Cedar Lake Trail just north of the station:

Target Field StationTarget Field Station

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Nice Ride station on Washington and 2nd Ave. N.

Mississippi River and area of interest at the North Loop Playground.

As well, here are quite a few additional photos of the walk. All are on 2 shared Google albums for you to view, add, share, etc.

Friday Morning

Friday Afternoon


Post, stills and 360 photos from LocalMN and feel free to see our Google Trusted Street View Photographer page as well as us on your social media channels of choice for our services. We look forward to hearing from you.

Traffic and Construction in Mpls/St Paul

Let Your Summer Work for Your Google My Business

There really isn’t anything better than a Minnesota Summer. You do need to get your Google My Business on, although you might as well let that work to your business advantage by sometimes doing as little as enjoying the summer.

Before anything, get started with Google Photos with a Google Account or Gmail address. Adding to it and organizing is actually the most time-consuming part, but’s easy to do and in the end you’re find it very, very useful.

Now, including these help you enhance your Google Maps to help encourage users. This keeps both you and the user up-to-date by including pretty, summer photos.

http://localmn.tumblr.com/post/162331461296/get-your-google-summer-on-smbsSummertime = construction season as well. You can keep your customers up-to-date with construction, different directions and transit and even approximate time to get there. Here’s a Tumblr Post to show a few visuals.

Common closures right now are 5th St S. and Washington Ave S. in Minneapolis and Jackson Street in St. Paul.

As well, a YouTube Video including a LRT time-lapse to S. Paul and a protest to help out Luciano Mejia Morales and his fight for facing deportation in Minneapolis. For more about him, search online or call ICE at 612-843-8600

Final tip, keep users updated Showing off your Local to Make Your Own Google Posts.

Keep on enhancin’ yer Google My Business so you can enjoy the summer!

LocalMN 101 – Google Photos in Maps

By now, you’ve hopefully read and organized your Google Photos, which is the backbone for this. You’re now ready to add your favorite ones to Maps. There’s something very important you need to do first, though. It’s really easy, but it’s a must.

With your Google Account and/or your Gmail address, just create a Google My Business (GMB) account. As stated by Google themselves…

Get your business hours, phone number, and directions on Google Search and Maps — with Google My Business.

This is indeed the #1 things folks look for when searching for your business.

Once you enter your basic info online, check the “by mail” verification method. It usually takes a few businesses days to receive and just keep a lookout for a postcard that looks something like this.

Google Postcard

Open it, verify the 5-6 digit pin provided and you should be good to go, almost immediately. This YouTube video provides perfect basic insights on it all.

For photos, real pics are compelling, and the #1 thing people look for? Directions. Here’s an description example of cross streets to give customers a visual on where a business is.

The NE Bulldog Cross Streets

Before looking at the photo above, did you have a general idea where the NE Bulldog is? And after reading the description, do you now know EXACTLY where the NE Bulldog is?

This is just one example of how you can use your photos and descriptions in each photo to help entice visitors to come to your door.

Tip: Anyone can add photos to your business and most of them are customers, not photographers. This is fine. Showing “real” photos shows people being social and most of the time, that’s what we want. Combine these with the quality photos you take and describe, the photo presence in your Google listing enhances that much more.


At LocalMN Interactive, we specialize in local search and are listed in Google as a Trusted Street View Photographer. Contact us for services and mention this post when you do.