Google has now expanded their branded short URLs for Google My Business (GMB) to the public. Their public mention is directly within their updated Marketing with Google promotion. It’s incredibly user-friendly.
For how to create yours, Google has an easy help center post explaining it all.
Quick Localmn Example
Ours is simply g.page/localmn, or for you, g.page/[Your Company Name] . I did try to get the often-wanted 3-letter profile as in LMN, but Google requires that your ending is 5 or more characters. So, localmn it is. This shortened profile does entice me to improve my GMB info with increased info, more branded photos, offers, etc.
Easy Steps to Create Yours on a Laptop
- Sign into your GMB account
- Click the Info button in the left navigation
- Scroll down to the @ sign, click + or edit
- Create your shortened Google Page URL
Google’s Dominance of your GMB URL and profile
As mentioned in our recent Google Local Marketing Kit post:
The best (or worst) part of it is that Google owns all the data. Yep, they still own the local search content you provide. For this, they even own the analytics although they show you an overview in your GMB panel. I only imagine that they use all of this to help calculate your overall authority in the results, and indirectly, your rankings in the local 3-pack.Localmn Google Local Marketing Kit Post
If you want to use Google shortened GMB profiles for your link building purposes, it’s just not your best bet. Google owns it. If using them for indirect SEO results, awareness, branding, and overall users to your local business, organization, or area of interest, this can be a can’t-miss opportunity. Whether this is for you, only you can make your best decision.
For you marketers who specialize in national retailers with a ton of local stores, this could be a benefit for you as well in your @[your company name] strategies. Each location needs to have a unique @ name.
Somewhat of a side note – From a writer in different portals, for the last 3-4 years I have almost exclusively linked local businesses to their GMB page instead of their own website. Maybe, now visually showing these shortened URLs will become well-known enough to gain mainstream trust. I suppose only time will tell.
Initially, I really like shortened GMB URLs for certain businesses, organizations, and local areas of interest. What are your thoughts? Compelling, or is Google just trying to own the Internet? Comments are more than welcome!
It’s that time of year again. You want to showcase the hours you’re open over the holidays while making sure you get the time to celebrate with your own loved ones. Providing special hours in you Google My Business (GMB) profile does this for people using Google to find this info. Also, you can do this on your smartphone on the fly. Go to your favorite local coffee shop, sip and sit for 5 minutes, and your special hours are set up.
There are a few ways to go about this. An easy one is to log into your GMB -> Overview -> Profile -> Clock/Calendar Icon
Edit Special hours (for restaurants and other locations who are open for lunch, then back open for dinner, you can note this in here by clicking the ADD HOURS button)
A nice thing about this is after you set it up, it automatically goes away after your dates of special hours. No follow up needed!
In August 2017, Google Maps somewhat quietly came out with Q&A for Local Guides using mobile devices. Now open to the public and on desktop as well, it’s still relevantly unknown to the business owner. “Who’s using it?” “Who’s saying WHAT about my business?” “How do I even respond to these?”
First, a well thought-out article by Joy Hawkins, one of the best local search minds that help answer the questions above.
For the Q&As, here’s a standard example for one in the Twin Cities. It’s funny, not sure what the intent was, but it’s something that Radisson Red would want to handle and own.
Typically, a few different types of people are asking questions. You have a legitimate crowd asking asking for directions, parking, hours of operation, and ADA compliance info. You’ll also have questions answered by Google Local Guides. A few are there to rack up system points, but most are helpful, legit and carefully-written by the user.
For live music venues, the number of questions usually escalates. 10 questions as shown below for the Turf Club.
A good majority of them are legit from their concert goers, some aren’t, but the venue staff should be ready to answer these questions, and own them. A concert goer can then be happy knowing that someone with authority is listening to them.
Of course, you may see this. Most likely, this is a question the day of a show. A manager at the venue could see this and more appropriately answer the question.
Just like any industry, you’re also prone to a few who have a bone to pick and will specifically use Google’s Q&A to address their dirty laundry instead of their ratings and reviews feature, most likely because their Q&A is a bit more visually prominent (IMO).
Whichever the case, answers are written about YOUR business. Positive or not, wouldn’t you want control to answer these questions concisely and accurately, and how you want your own brand represented?
To do this on the fly, you want to have the Google Maps app on your phone. You probably already do for other numerous reasons anyway. Once downloaded and signed in, you can Google your business name and answer questions as you, your company name with a profile photo to help ensure authority.
Article written by Paul Jahn of LocalMN Interactive. We help local businesses with customizing Google My Business listing as well as local search and WordPress web development.
The Twin Cities, some people call it, as well as “The Cities” to Minnesotans out of the metro area. Mill City, City of Lakes in Minneapolis, and Hockeytown in St. Paul are others. Each nickname holds its own merit, we’ll visit some of these in this piece as well as numerous other places to enjoy during your stay in Minneapolis/St. Paul. There are just so many local places to see with a story to tell and many of them are free or low cost.
You’ll most likely fly into the MSP International Airport. Fly into Terminal 2. Sun Country, our “hometown” airline flies in and out of there, and it’s a much smaller terminal so the lines are shorter resulting in less time spent at the airport.
There are different options for leaving the airport including shuttles, car rentals, car-sharing companies like Uber or Lyft, buses that leave Terminal 1 or a favorite, Light Rail Transit (LRT). For convenience, the Light Rail is free of charge between the 2 terminals and they run as often as every 10 minutes.
The Light Rail is also the easiest option to get to both downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, although there’s no direct line to St. Paul and it will take longer. As in 90 minutes. Then, it’s all the better as you can often connect to wi-fi signals while riding. Either way, you can take the Blue Line all the way to Downtown Minneapolis or switch trains at the U.S. Bank Stadium station to catch the Green Line into St. Paul.
Mill City District
In Minneapolis, Mill City is an unofficial district nestled against the Mississippi River. While there, consider taking in your favorite ice cream treat at the local Izzy’s and a walk up or down West River Parkway. The lights are pretty, the people are engaging and the bridges are a work of art.
The Parkway area is an urban planner’s dream. A street with a slow speed limit, separate walking plus biking paths, public art and precise landscaping make this both beautiful and functional. When walking around this neighborhood, it’s hard not to say hello, engage in short conversation or wave. It’s a Minnesota thing to do. And of course my new friend wanted to give me a smile and peace sign.
You’ll find captivating streets throughout the whole Twin Cities area, perhaps none more present than one you can’t drive on. “The Nicollet” up until November 2017 was called Nicollet Mall. After a 3-year reconstruction project and rebranding exercise, the city changed the name. It’s beautiful, modern and worth the walk up and down to have food and drink, shop, or see areas of interest.
Toward the South end of The Nicollet lies The Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant. The Dakota has been a really well-known and respected fine dining and jazz club since 1985. It’s somewhat of a secret to even locals, but Prince used to sneak in a back door and move around at his own free will and just enjoy the music on stage.
Take a selfie with the Mary Tyler Moore statue on 7th and Nicollet. Yep, even the locals do it. It’s back at its prime location.
A must is to head off The Nicollet a couple blocks to First Avenue and see Prince’s star. He’s a local hero, put Minneapolis on the map musically, and the set and settings of the movie Purple Rain was at this venue. It’s humbling to look at his star and just think. Think as if nothing around matters. Just think.
A 360 view of the venue:
A true, local and engaging neighborhood is the Northeast (Nordeast) Minneapolis Arts District. You can find all you need right on or off 13th Ave NE. Pick your place:
- Dangerous Man Brewing Company – A craft brewery in a customary neighborhood is a total Minnesotan thing to have. Their story is compelling and their beards are out to get you.
- Northeast Social – Continental cuisine and exceptional mixologists. Tip: Have the mixologist create something with dill aquavit. It’s a Scandinavian and Minnesotan treat and your palate will leave happy. Last July, I couldn’t help but head to Twitter to mention a delicious scallops appetizer.
- 331 Club – Divey, vintage club with live music 7 days a week. Favorite Google Review quote: “To our amazement, it was the best nerd party we had ever seen and had to quickly join.”
- Bunny’s Bar & Grill NE – Nestled by the Mississippi River, it’s a newer sports bar. Tip: The Walleye Fingers is a total Minnesotan thing to try. While you’re there, take a few steps to Sheridan Memorial park, take a selfie by the metal orb and share for social proof. The park itself is on a trail with great neighborhood views of the Mississippi.
- Gumball Boutique – A hidden gem, Gumball is a cozy consignment shop with locally-made everything.
Cathedral Hill, St. Paul
Across the river sits St. Paul, a trip worthy all in its own. After all, it is called the most livable city in America. If you go to the Cathedral Hill neighborhood and take a James.J. Hill House tour, you’ll know more area history than many locals. The family were railroad pioneers, or “empire builders”, responsible for the majority of railroad that went out to the West coast. A couple fun facts are that the Hill family were very similar to the Rockefellers with one exception. The Hill family didn’t put their name on stuff. The second? The house is built on the top of Cathedral Hill. Guests would enter in the front, and leave in the back which is twice as large looking down the hill to leave guests with one, lasting, prestigious memory.
While on the hill, walk down Summit Ave. You’ll pass the Governor’s mansion as well as hundreds of other homes that are considered Victorian mansions. You’ll see regular folks working on their lawn or shoveling their driveway in the winter. Give ‘em a friendly wave and they’ll always wave back. It’s just a Minnesota thing to do. We joke about being called “Minnesota Nice”, but it’s true. We are.
People here are born with skates on, and of course there is the Wild. In addition to professional hockey games, they do have organized scrimmages for adults. There’s not much better of a feeling than playing hockey on that big sheet of ice, albeit in front of about 12 fans making up of spouses and children.
Now, think hockey meets obstacle course meets skiing and you have Crashed Ice. They have a professional course every year that starts on Cathedral Hill and ends down the hill towards downtown. Literally the best in the world qualify to compete in this event with over 100,000 celebrated fans in attendance lining the course. It’s exciting, thrilling and admittedly impossible to get home as everyone leaves at once.
Here’s what it looked like a week before the event after a rainfall. Yep, the temp did drop in time.
And during the event.
Around the Capital City
- Go to St. Thomas and catch a Div. III football game at O’Shaughnessy Stadium in the perfect environment and cheer amongst the most loyal of fans.
- Catch a Juicy Lucy at The Nook. Everything about this place is Minnesotan, including the burger with cheese oozing out from the inside.
- The Minnesota State Fair. Technically, Falcon Heights. It only happens once a year, but if you’re here during that time, just go. Go and naturally create your own wonderful story to tell. My favorite treat? Snowii Shaved Ice. It’s Minnesota-based, and it’s sweaty-hot in August.
Getting Around the TC
Take a Nice Ride bicycle. The Twin Cities is one of the most friendly bicycle cities in the U.S. Take a bike for an hour or a day at one of over 200 local stations. Here’s a station full of bikes on St. Anthony Main.
On your way back to the airport, hop off the Bloomington Central Light Rail stationand take the walkway to Urbana Craeft Kitchen and Market, inside the Hyatt Regency. Ask for Nick the Bartender and have him serve you up a locally-sourced bison burger, house-made chips and a local, craft beer.
That’s a perfect end, and you’ll now leave happy. Wave as you leave and thanks from the Twin Cities for sharing your experience with us!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
On the record, they don’t call it a merger, or consolidation, or especially print spam. An acquisition? Definitely. From the new DexYP site:
By acquisition, do you mean merger?
No. Dex Media has completed the acquisition of YP and now controls the newly-formed DexYP.
Nonetheless, I live and work in the 3rd Ward of Minneapolis. It’s a dynamic and diverse community that proudly comes together at one.
- We’re home to thriving local businesses, arts, cultural diversity, a national park and both the first and fastest growing Minneapolis neighborhood.
- We are collectively smart, real and sexy and can easily sniff out the most thinly veiled attempt at deceptive and overly-aggressive sales practices.
- Big-box associations like the Local Search Association (formerly the Yellow Pages Association) are welcome and should do just fine here with their phone-ringing sales force-driven industry.
Just don’t come back and litter our neighborhood with your print book spam again.
Why do I say this? From the Dex Moving Forward Site again…
Will the new company be moving away from print?
DexYP remains committed to print. Importantly, this acquisition provides us with an enhanced platform on which to manage our print directories profitably.
We now have an enhanced platform on which we can manage our print directories business profitably.
And… well, there’s always this.
This was actually 6 years ago. Luckily, so far we are in our 3rd consecutive year without being littered. But it wasn’t easy, they stood ground and we’re a little weary from the above and other quotes on how the new DexYP is being bullish on their print delivery like this winner of a pile.
The new CEO either understands this happened all the time or bullies his way into telling customers and his sales reps these situations never existed. I don’t know that answer to that one. This LinkedIn feed may help answer this for you though.
Nonethess, they’re also implying that SaaS companies will disrupt their sales reps in their local selling sales.
Some may call this “service that disrupts sales reps”, but I digress.
The webinar is now over, but this can be another chicken or the egg argument. Did they originate local marketing to go along with SaaS offerings or are they just chasing the $10 Billion global revenue stream from different SaaS and local companies who’ve been offering this for years?
They’ll certainly enter our neighborhood with feet on the pavement. Just remember again, our neighborhood is smart, real and sexy and can easily sniff out the most thinly veiled attempt at deceptive and overly-aggressive sales practices.
Just don’t come back and litter our neighborhood with your print book spam again.
Remember Flickr? Don’t forget about them
They recently came out with new About Page to share your work. It still has the features at the bottom to sort by most likes, comments and views. It also adds an edtitable Showcase Section of up to 25 photos.
For users, the Showcase Section all slick-like as you can create and change themes separate from your standard Flickr Albums and Collections. These sections could be:
- Outdoor photos to help engage summertime customers to give you a visit
- You and your staff volunteering for a local cause to show how involved you are in the community
- Staff photos while working to show off your employee dedication
For search reasons, you’re still able to link to your desired pages per photo. They’re no-followed and need to be hard coded. For a couple reasons, I usually don’t link to pages within my main site but will here for demonstration purposes.
Just like other social portals, Google loves them. Add each, individual photo with a title, description, geo and add within a group and it will have a better chance of showing up for searches.
This is just one of almost limitless ways to get your relevant content out there for the right users, and to help encourage them to give you an in-person visit.
LocalMN Interactive Marketing
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Minneapolis, MN 55401