Posts

We’re Now Google Trusted Verified!

In addition and to compliment our Google Street View Trusted Photography status, we’re also now a Google Trusted Verifier.

Google My Business (GMB)

This makes your time more valuable by having someone come out to immediately verify your business to GMB, take photos and 360° virtual tours, consult you with Google Posts, GMB Insights. So often, people will set up their GMB correctly and adequately, although don’t take full advantage of this free tool for you DIYers. For agencies, we’re looking to add this to your mix for local search services.

When we come out to visit your Twin Cities location, we come with these ready-to-use icons, literally right on the Google Pixel 2:

Google Maps Icons

We forté in being flexible. If you just need GMB verification, we do this. If you need verification plus setup, photos, 360° Virtual Tours, Google Posts insights, and overall GMB consulting, we also do this, and we do it well.

4-hour consultations for you and your business (at your location) are available for this and is definitely time well spent. From there, you can decide to hire us on a more permanent level or go your own way with the confidence to DIY.

Side note: This is proudly available for physical businesses and organizations in Minnesota. Transportation expenses outside of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area TBD. We are Minnesota. 

Contact us Minnesota, and lets get verified! Skål!

Local Search Profile

What Permissions Your Local Search Company Should Have and Should Not Have

Just like you should absolutely own your own website, you should also own all of your properties that have anything to do with Local Search. There are many properties different companies use in web builders, Google Accounts and social media platforms. We’ll stick with 3. WordPress, Google My Business and Google Analytics.

It’s kind of hard to believe, but there are companies with deceptive sales tactics that allow you to have your site back once the relationship ends, but in chunks leaving it up to you to piece it back together. You’ll want to make sure that if you ever leave a company or agency, you have your site back full and intact. With WordPress, sites are pretty much built that way by default.

WordPress StatusFirst, just make sure you have a signed NDA to ensure you own all your web properties once the business relationship ends for  whatever reason.

In WordPress, your web company can have different permissions. When the site is built for you, the company would need administrative permissions (status). Admissions status is also recommended for monthly and quarterly stats so your web company can continue with customized reports and actions. If you’re set with everything when it’s initially set up, you may want to think of giving them Editor status.

Notice there are other permissions. You may want to inquire with your company what others are suitable.

Google Properties make it really easy to add you to accounts. Although not needed, it’s even easier if you have your own Google Account which includes a custom gmail address determined by you.

GMB StatusGoogle My Business (GMB) is your local search hub. You most likely have a profile whether you created one or not and you can find out by simply Googling your name. If you haven’t claimed your profile, you can start right here. Once the profile is completed you can add your hours of operation, write Google Posts, add photos and even an up-to-30 second video, and many of these 8 things you may not have known you can do.

Once your GMB is set up, your web or local search company should eventually have Manager status. You’re the owner and should have Owner status. Manager status still lets your local search company perform functions and reports you need.

Google Analytics AccessIn Google Analytics, it’s important that your local search company produces anywhere from overview to highly-detailed reports for you including recommendations. It’s also important for you to have access to at least the Read & Analyze level so you can access almost any data set you choose. Talk to your company to help determine which access you should have and this is all under User Management category in the Property settings. When you’re done working with the company for whatever reason, any reputable company will switch your access to administrative so you own complete control of it.

There are many other sites that local search professionals use, although these 3 are flagship-type portals that you need to know your status, and the status of your web company. Let us know in the comments of sites or tools you use or local search company uses which gives you full control.


LocalMN Interactive is a full, local web company including local search, responsive web design, UX, search marketing and Google Certified Street View Photography. Contact us with any questions about our customized services.

Downtown St Paul

Local Search Marketing Predictions for 2018

2018 may be the most opportunistic year ever for local search. With Google leading the way and users and vertical markets working aside or within Google, the user experience promises the possibility to be both high in quantity and quality.

Voice Search

I’m putting Voice Search in right away because it involves probably everything below, local or not. This is changing search fast and companies are busy figuring out how to capture the market.

First Ave Voice SearchHere’s a real-time example. I would like to see Soul Asylum play tonight at the First Avenue, mostly because a neighbor or mine won an audition an earned a spot to play bass for them tonight. Yes. Really! I don’t want to miss that! A voice search gave me the Google My Business profile. It has the hours correct tonight as it does close publicly at 7:30 in time for the sold-out 8:00 show. When you tap on Directions, you will get an Uber and Lyft option which will be convenient when the temp is supposed to be below 0.

Score “1” for Voice Search. Just one of many ways this changes all types of search, in this case Local just a bit.

Google My Business (GMB)

In 2017, Google was keeping busy pushing to Claim businesses in Google My Business, and then features within like Google Posts, Local Services Ads and Websites.

In 2018 Google will focus more on continuous new features in Google My Business and push both new and current features. Following these alone can keep professionals pretty busy.

Google Posts

Google Posts grows in 2018, but grows slowly. It was released in June, 2017 to be shown in branded searches and quietly used by few. They can be very informative for end-users and cover more valuable search result space for the branded company name. The Posts provide interest to click and learn more about events, newsletters, new offerings or any other thing relevant to the company. However, Search professionals have been weary of this all. Google owns the content provided and doesn’t pass any direct SEO Love to links that pass through.

Local Services Ads

In a simpler word, Ad. Google pushes this hard in 2018. This is how Google makes money. Originally Home Services Ads, they rebranded it to include and imply Local. Companies won’t be looking at it based on their favorite keywords, but by the quality of leads. Local Service Ads do have a prominent, thin listing up top on both desktop and mobile. Google’s currently pushing it hard enough that even companies that don’t have the “Google Guaranteed” badge sometime appear, most likely because not every industry has enough participants yet. Right now, there are a very limited number of industries this is offered to. Look for this to expand, and expand greatly to cover industries like legal, landscaping and other industries to where people compare companies.

Garage Door Repair St. Paul

Currently, all three of these companies are probably busy right now with the arctic chill Minnesota is having. Plus, maybe Google is banking on being listed next to Google Guaranteed listings will have some automatic trust.

Google Websites

They’re nice, they’re free (unless you get a customized domain – recommended), it’s almost built for you in GMB. They also show maps, custom photos, fill-in-the-blank hours of operation. With that said, don’t look for this go grow in 2018. At least, not in the U.S. This is certainly meant to help Google, and that’s fine. In my view, they can have the data. Google Websites are probably best for businesses who are just looking for a 1-page brochure about their business.

Other Opportunities

Real-Time Transit

Real-Time Transit

Real-Time Transit

Google will either develop or buy a company who can provide real-time transit in 2018. Both Uber and Lyft obviously have this, and Metro Transit MN just came out with this feature on a mobile app or their website as well. I’ll bring up the arctic chill again. When a bus is late, this feature makes it handy by not having to stand outside quite as long when it’s really cold. The concept fits in perfectly for usability, placing inside the Directions and Bus tab in Google Maps.

Local Guides Grows and Grows

2018 promises to be a big year for Google Local Guides. For Google, they get data. The Local Guides at Connect are passionate and happily contribute photos, reviews and knowledge to Google and GMB. Just look at the 2017 World-Wide Food Crawl Meet-Up. Main incentives for Local Guides aren’t rankings-based. Rather it’s points and levels obtained-based, sometimes meaning perks provided by Google. The other incentives are really satisfaction-based to bring positive awareness to make local communities better. Google knows and appreciates this all, and they even provide a yearly Local Guides Summit.

Ratings and Reviews

Google cleverly builds on reviews in 2018 while Yelp confuses people. While Yelp is telling us to absolutely not solicit reviews but go ahead, Google just goes on and removes paid reviews. And now, it’s also against Google’s guidelines for ex-employees to leave negative reviews. With that said, Google highly encourages honest reviews. Albeit often indirectly, they highly encourage them. Here’s one way they do this and also reach your customers online and in person.

Review for Points OnlyLocal Guides now get extra points if their Google reviews are 200 characters or more. Perhaps this increases the level of quality and reduces the number of 5-Star ratings with no reviews below it for the purpose of gaining points only.

Reputation management companies have been around for years to encourage reviews and consulting when negative reviews happen, just to mention a couple services. There are good companies who offer this and have become trusted because of it. Some companies like Get Five Stars go further by developing more of a comprehensive platform. It’s built to acquire customer feedback, encourage online reviews and other features mentioned above. I see services like these all growing in 2018, albeit mostly with companies who already have a head start. It’s a growing and demanding opportunity, but also a comprehensive one.

Local Videos and 360 Photos

DIY or Pay Professionals?

2017 may have been the year of making more videos. 2018 will be the year of making more videos, smarter.

DIY video can certainly be done on the cheap. Have a smartphone, tripod or monopod, lapel mic, iMovie app, and you can make an adequate one… or not. Companies may start with going the DIY route because it is rather inexpensive. Many of them afterwards will go towards independent companies, or agencies who specialize in videos.

2018 will be a really good opportunity for independent videographers. They know everything about video strategy and creation, as well as being search savvy. Some are confident enough to provide you free tips as well. Here’s Erica from Puke Rainbows on 2018 Video Marketing Trends to watch for.

360 Degree and Street View Photography

Street View photography will certainly grow in both supply and demand in 2018. Per Google Street View:

Listings with photos and a virtual tour are twice as likely to generate interest.

To become a Google Trusted photographer for this is a trial and error process. There are a number out there, coming from backgrounds from photography to marketing. Right now 360 photos for businesses are somewhere between the “this is really cool” stage and “this is really useful for our customers” stage.

Conclusion

Only time will tell how accurate my predictions will be. I suppose another post will come at the end of 2018 to see. What do you think? Am I spot on for these or am I out of my tree?


LocalMN Interactive provides Local Marketing services and we are beyond excited and very confident to see what comes in store for 2018. Let’s get together! We look forward to customize a local search strategy customized just for you. Skol!

Kraus-Anderson HQ

Google My Business in the Kraus-Anderson Block

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.

kraus anderson east town

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.

Voice Search for HQ Apartments

Voice Search for HQ Apartments

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 StadiumUS 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.

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.

Questions? Ask away! We’re more than happy to help.

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.

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.