“Hello, this is Kate, your Google Local representative, with an important message…”
It’s been nearly 3 years since I’ve founded this company, and still to this day there are bogus local SEO companies calling my phone with auto-dialers. If you’re a business owner (or if you just answer the phone at a small or mid-sized business), chances are you’ve fielded one of these annoying auto-calls. The premise is that they’ll tell you A) your Google places (now called Google my business) page isn’t claimed or B) it isn’t optimized correctly. Usually there’s an offer that rides along with that to “maintain” the page for a low monthly cost, or even provide some sort of reporting along with it.
Bogus local SEO companies like this are a dime a dozen. They know that there are still plenty of uninformed people out there looking to raise their profile in the business community and reach more customers. Don’t be one of those people. Be armed with facts. Aside from knowing that you should always hang up on crummy companies like this, here’s a few things to know:
Fact #1 – if you don’t have a “category fit”, you won’t appear in local listings on Google’s SERPs. Take this image below for instance. Pizza and Restaurant are both category options. Makes sense right?
But what if your company provides hydraulic hoses? Or electric welding equipment? Or any other unique widget that doesn’t fit a standard description? Well…there are no local listings to be included in, that’s the cold truth of the matter. Google has been mum on when they’ll expand their list of categories as well.
Fact #2 – if you don’t have a brick and mortar location, you will eventually get kicked out of local listings. Hey, online biz is great. But the premise of local listings are to help people figure out what’s nearby. If you try to ‘claim’ a PO box or another building as your place of business…eventually you’ll get booted. There’s no real value to be had from this either.
Fact #3 – if you’re in a competitive area and industry, just claiming a listing won’t get you very far. Let’s say you’re a plumber in down town Kansas City. How many plumbers are in a 20 mile radius? More than can fit in the local listings, that’s for sure. Claiming your profile, setting it up correctly, and all that goes with it is important…but it’s just the first step in actually making local search work for you. You still have to slowly and naturally gain positive reviews, build the domain of your brand’s domain strength, and ensure that all of your online citations are accurate/consistent. Bogus search providers won’t tell you this part, they’ll lead you to believe that they’ll “maintain” the listing and keep it updated, and this in itself will bring you business. Know that this isn’t accurate.
Local SEO entails more than just your Google+ page. It requires content made specifically for your local audience. It requires reputation management to ensure that your brand is reviewed positively online in a variety of ways. And of course, it’s building great earned links to your domain over time to build trust and authority.
So, the next time you get a junk call about your Google Places or Google My Business page, just hang up. Fraudulent local SEO providers are banking that you’ll be uninformed. If you really want to harness the power of local search, call us (or a trusted, proven digital marketing company). Local search works well in tandem with paid advertising – including remarketing campaigns – and email marketing. The right partner will give you solutions for all of the above at a fair price. If your marketing isn’t providing you a return, why bother with it?
*Update* If you REALLY want to send a message to these bogus and fraudulent local search scammers, learn as much about them as you can (it will require a few minutes on the phone), and then report them to the federal authorities here. One of the biggest problems with this industry is the lack of transparency, and the ease of manipulation. Let’s work together to bring that to end, with the help of just a little knowledge.
Your online reputation is important, but these clowns won’t know how to help…