First of all, Happy New Year! I hope you had a fun and safe New Year, and all the best wishes for you in this new decade.
In 2010, 360 photos and virtual tours really didn’t exist. In fact, Google My Business (GMB) listings didn’t launch until June, 2014. The Rochester Post-Bulletin even recognized this in a piece written in August, 2017.
Here are a few known findings from Google:
- When searching for businesses, consumers use mapping products 44% of the time
- Listings with photos and a virtual tour are twice as likely to generate interest
- On average, 41% of these place searches result in an on-site visit
A brief overview of Google 360 Street View Trusted Pro Photographers:
Have you used this as a consumer? If so, you may have gotten great visuals of inside a location, implied directions, or compelling photos enticing you to visit their door. Maybe a show at First Avenue?
You can easily bring your location to life, and this is just one part of Google My Business that can help.
Here’s to you! Happy 2020, and all the best in using Google tools to help benefit your business or organization.
Localmn Interactive offers Google Street View Photography services with plenty of knowledge, experience, and local search strategies.
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!
Two months ago, I wrote about Google Maps in Elliot Park. It was a #mspwalk and then blog post inspired by a coffee chat I had with Dan Collison, Director of so-many-things Minneapolis at Moose & Sadie’s. He mentioned and implied how Downtown East and Elliot Park (East Town) was growing and he’s right, more than I could have imagined! It’s really positioned well for it.
On the west edge of Elliot Park and East Town, Kraus-Anderson (KA) is in the middle of re-developing an urban city block which features their new HQ that opened in October, luxury high-rise apartment, a Marriott, Finnegan’s new digs among others.
What’s interesting isn’t that they’re building a square block, but where they’re building it. It’s technically in Elliot Park which was one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Minneapolis 150 years ago. Now, it’s starting to become gentrified to bring back some of the old charm and prestige to the combination of Elliot Park brownstones to the modern Minneapolis skyline view. It’s a block away from the skyway system, and quick walks to both the Downtown West neighborhood and East Town, home of U.S. Bank Stadium.
So far, the Kraus-Anderson block has their headquarters, Finnegans, HQ Apartments, and the Elliot Hotel, a Marriott upscale Autograph Collection either completed or under construction. All of these should benefit from quality Google Maps information including their respective, fully-populated Google My Business (GMB) pages.
The Google Maps cars should be kept fairly busy in the near future as well as opportunities for Certified Google Trusted Street-View photographers to help fulfill Google My Business pages with quality photos.
With products like Google Home and Google Assistant, the use of voice search is continuing to rise, and rise quickly. To the left is a voice search for the new HQ Apartments on the block.
You then have the options to tap the bottom options or anywhere up top which takes you to their respective Google My Business page. There, you have more of the same options plus the ability to see all photos, ratings and reviews and anything else that HQ or the public decides to populate in the HQ Apartments GMB page.
The mixed-used block is something that can at least help bring vibrant and tech-savvy consumers to the area. In addition to KA headquarters, here’s a bit about the mixed-use block and their post regarding the block’s components.
*The KA headquarters is the first completed component of the master-planned, mixed use block development in the vibrant Elliot Park neighborhood of East Town Minneapolis.
*Source – KA Block Update: November-December 2017
US Bank Stadium is arguably the anchor of the East Town neighborhood with businesses, organizations and areas of interest being built or already present around it. The area’s easy to get to by car, bus, pedestrian and bike, but is probably easiest via the Light Rail as the US Bank Stadium station holds both the Blue and Green Line trains.
In addition, nearby blocks are often vibrant as local destinations. Here are a few GMB pages full of ratings and reviews, photos, directions and other items that uniquely fit in them.
Note – Three of the above are in the Downtown West neighborhood. Between this and the Kraus-Anderson block being short and easy access to both I94 and I35, their block could be in a perfect location and local destination. This development of urban city blocks in Minneapolis isn’t the first, but it’s certainly not the last, either.
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.
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.
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.
Jan 12 Update: The Armory events for Super Bowl Week now include Pink and Imagine Dragons and the Mystic Lake location is now cancelled. The shows themselves aren’t cancelled like Club Nomadic implies. They’ve been moved to inside Mystic Lake Casino as Star Tribune and Liz Sawyer Tweets.
In my opinion, this is what happens when Club Nomadic puts all of their own wants and needs first and the local Prior Lake community last, but I digress.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Within Washington Square is Penny’s Downtown, open since the latter half of 2016.
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.
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.
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?
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.
A review I wrote a few years ago.
Another Nice Ride Station, right in the neighborhood at Gateway Park.
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.
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.
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