I haven’t been on here in a long while, and although there are reasons for that, I want to get to the core issue of ‘blogging’ – yes, I said ‘blogging’ even though its so out of style, like ‘email’ was a year or two ago. ”Blogs” or should I say – writing off the cuff, or said differently, direct messaging to your customers can be hugely beneficial, and if nothing else – done correctly – refreshing! So often times, like in any other ‘writing’ venture, people get hung up on what to write about. Like me, just now. I sat down with a text document and literally wrote…”what should your blog post be?” My next line of writing was an answer from some other part of my psyche, the cool part that just likes to do stuff. It said..”anything, really. just say something!” I wrote it in lower case because that’s how I wrote it on my ‘text’ document. Just keeping it real. But seriously, this is a very important point. Keep it real. People really don’t care ‘that’ much. People scoff at this notion, and they shrug and talk about brand and synergy and denigrating the business blah blah blah. I’ll tell you something – if you keep it brandy and synergistiky, (that’s not a word btw), than you most likely will fall prey to boring-ness, which also isn’t a word, but you get what I mean. I’m not saying don’t think about what you’re going to say, or have a plan, or be as loose as this post here. What I am saying is be loose enough where you just post. That’s the most important thing. Post. Write. Get it out there. Talk about your business and your field. It actually is interesting, its just few if any write about it with any candor, passion, or ‘feel’ because they’re afraid or they don’t have the time or they’re afraid people will read it and be like “Well THAT settles it, I’m not going to buy a steak from THEM ever again!”
Most of my clients are restaurants. I’m speaking primarily to restaurants, even large restaurant groups…I’m talking 20-100 locations. Not Chipotle or Starbucks – I think that gets into another realm. But at the arbitrarily chosen ’100′ unit level or below, there’s plenty of room to talk with candor and humor, insight and personality as to what is going on behind the scenes. Pick a menu item. Just one. Riff on it. Say what comes to mind. ”I uh, I gotta admit, this is not my favorite menu item. Ok, fine, I hate it. My mother told me to put it on here – it was her favorite thing to make as a kid and I felt an obligation to include it, but…” Maybe this isn’t the best example. But pick a menu item and be honest – “You know, this isn’t the most popular item on the menu, but I love it, and here’s why” Or talk about how you came up with the name of your restaurant. ”There’s not a lot to it Jamie, there’s just not…pretty boring story!” Well say that! Exactly that.
Just write. There’s a lot of story there. Just write about it. You never know what might come of it.
HAPPY HOUR! Such a fun time. Nice times. Fun little booze and wine with nice appetizer at a reduced price right after work. Sweet and innocent. But apparently EVERY single…with…out….exception…..every single category collection across the “profile universe” – from Yelp to Google, from Yahoo to Bing, from YellowPages to InfoUSA…not ONE of them allows you to input the simple, almighty, fun, innocent, OBVIOUSLY people are searching for it and we should have it as a category nice little puppy dog that just wants love from everyone: Happy Hour. But apparently, everyone in the category universe is allergic to this possibility. Maybe it’s the word “happy” associated with the concept of time, hour! I have no idea. But the latest and greatest in category selection – Google+ – even they have an allergen to this concept. No Happy Hour! Sorry. And Happy Hour results on Google…even those are a little off. They want to be a part of the in crowd with local results and all of that, but no…it just looks a little schleppy (not a word), a little left handed, a bit adopted and organic result-like and random and mish-mash and kind of like a search thrown together, caught off guard, not quite sure you were going to knock at the door.
And here’s the thing: It gets a TON of results, at least RELATIVE to other searches. In Seattle as of tonight: 14,800 (blended). Not bad for a step-search.
Who knows? One month you have 4838 impression and 831 actions, and a few months later, for the same “data set” ie. time frame, it gets a little moody and decides…nah, it’s now 9843 impressions, 983 actions. This is, of course, for the backend of Google Places / + / Local whuchyama’callit – Google’s version of “Local”. Confusing on many levels, but in terms of pure analytical data, I have seen time and again after notating numbers on spreadsheets for clients that read something like this: Client #1. February 19-March 18, 2013: 4291 impressions, 579 actions. Ok! We’re in the game. I guess that’s what’s posted, that’s what’s going on! Ok. Now…let’s pretend 3 months passes. Ok. So, now, here we sit three months later and woila, we log back in, and go huh, I wonder what my numbers are for that same period I checked 3 months ago: Feb 19- March 18 2013? Let’s check. I’m not going to give EXACT numbers, but in this case it was 42.82999% HIGHER than it was 3 months PREVIOUS for the same time period. If you’re confused, OR…if you think we’re in the Twilight Zone, yes, you’re right. Or, more appropriately, no, you’re fine, but Google seems to be confused! Again, I don’t know what’s going on here. But, the trend over the last 24 months or so is that these numbers, when referred to IN THE FUTURE seem to trend HIGHER, not lower. Very curious indeed.
Here’s how I feel about it: I don’t trust any of it. It seems TOTALLY random. I give these numbers to clients, but I have to say: it’s not entirely ‘stable’ data. It’s going up..great! I’m happy for that, but it’s not…it doesn’t seem to…I don’t know. Doesn’t seem flush.
The almighty Google. What is going on?
It amazes me how difficult it is to get my clients to make updates to their website at all, let alone on a continual basis. There’s the whole rigamarole with website access and “webmaster’s” off in India or Cambodia for their yearly 6 month soujourns, or web dev guys just deciding not to get back to you, or…lost id and passwords and millions upon millions of sites floating out there “in” the internet like space junk. But even when they have access, clients i.e small businesses are just unable, unwilling or not wanting to “get” why it’s important to update content on their website on a regular basis. Beyond that, even if they do “understand” or nod their head, they’re still unwilling. NOT ALL! Not all. Some do. And those that do, or those that let me do, rank better.
I’m going to go crazy now updating my clients websites over the next few months – those clients that let me update their sites, either through proxy via their ‘webmaster’ or directly. Either way, I guarantee…I call as Babe Ruth did in whatever World Series he pointed his bat out to left field and hit a home run – I analogously call a home run here IN COMPARISON to those guys that, with all things equal i.e. link building, profile management, social, etc, that those that update their sites CONSISTENTLY with great content will “wash away” those that don’t.
The trusty Mike Blumenthal pointed out April 30th, 2013 that in fact the Google local places features is no longer available in the drop down menus as notated below. Mike mentions in his article, linked above, the following: ”Users can only make it to Google’s local search options if they are in Plus. Equally significant is that there is no unique locally focused brand.”
Again, wow! I get it. Google wants us to use Google+. So they’re basically forcing one to sign up for Google+ to search “Local”. They want you to be in the Google+ environment and be all socially and engage and talk w/ your friends and Plus one stuff and engage etc. I think this is a poor decision. People are probably already experiencing “social fatigue” – I’m talking about normal people, not “industry geeks”. I think the last thing people are looking for is another social network. And beyond that, it’s not even clear how to get to a local search via Google i.e “Hey guys, over here for better local search …. step one, sign up for Google+, step 2…” and so on and so forth. It’s just kind of implied I guess? People will still search with local intent via the “regular search” function, but local results are limited – true local listings are limited to page 1. Beyond that are organic local listings (www.myrestaurant.com), local websites (yellowpages.restaurants.com), etc. Not seemingly better from my perspective. Not easier. Not more transparent. Not easier. Anytime something becomes not easier, it’s probably not good.
Just checking this morning (Friday, May 3, 2013) and Google no longer has “Places” as a drop down option in the top black navigation at the tippy top of the page under “More”, nor do they have it in the “More” navigation drop down under the search bar. Wow. So, yesterday you could search under “Places”…now you no longer can. You can now only search local results, like “Seafood Seattle”, under Maps. You’ll GET limited local results served to you under general search, but there’s no clear way to select “more local results” – you’re only able to go to ensuing search pages (i.e page 2, page 3, page 4) which has blended organic, local and other search results.
Hmmmm. Weird. Google’s local search deal still appears to be a boondoggle.
There are a few things annoying me with Google + and Google in general. Below is a screen shot of a hopefully well disguised client, who upon review after the transfer from Google “Places” to Google+ is showing the below link on their Google + page: Is this your business? Manage this page
This indicates to my clients and to me that in fact the page is not already claimed or being managed. Annoying. When you log in to your account, which in itself is a bit of a maze to figure out (log in, search Google for “Google local” and basically finagle your way through the back door) you’ll see that in fact after you get to the page and you click “manage this page” that it takes you directly to your local business center where your listing is in fact being shown as a well managed and very claimed business listing!
It seems things are getting more complicated and more weird over at Google than they were in years past. In years past, if your page was claimed, it indicated that in fact “this business page has been claimed” or some such language. It was evident to anyone seeing the page that it was claimed. If it wasn’t claimed, that was indicated by a mention consistent with the above stating: ”Own this business? manage this page”.
Why so complicated Google?
If you get a phone call from (618) 704-2766, beware. A modified recording answers and says if you’d like to confirm your Google 411 listing, please press 1. I did and a rather – how do you put it – less than crisp and professional voice on the other end started requesting information about me to verify a listing. This was a nice person – not saying he wasn’t nice – just a little less than forthcoming and clear about what the call was about.
Do not give information to people who randomly call requesting information about your business. Google does not make a practice of calling to confirm information about your business. There is more information about Google 411 calls here. Worst case scenario: you will be scammed of your information and talked into bogus SEO or online services.
It’s been a bit frustrating as of late – for a long time actually! Trying to get high quality clients to rank for “Seattle Seafood” has been tough due, in part, to Google’s notion that “Seattle” mean’s Seattle’s waterfront where, on page 1 of Google, you find places that give one a limited notion of the myriad of high quality seafood restaurants in Seattle; But they happen to be smack dab in the middle of “Google’s Centroid” – right downtown on the waterfront. Much smarter people than me have gone into more technical detail as to what is happening here, such as the almighty Mike Blumenthal in his most recent article: “Many Google Places Searches Are Showing an Increased Radius For Search Results”
Fed Ex has to deal with a very unfortunate situation today – a guy threw a flat screen over a fence per his ‘delivery’. Thanks Fed Ex. Video here:
Fed Ex has a response from their Senior VP of US Operations.
His response has 306 views as of 12/21/2011 at 5:41pm PST. The video of the man throwing the TV / Flatscreen over the fence has millions!
My point? Authenticity. Being candid. The response is great in so far that they posted something immediately, on YouTube, but it still is lame, very lame. One, it should be from the CEO. Two, seeing a Fed Ex employee roughly dressed – unlike their UPS competitors – throwing valuables over a fence doesn’t ‘shock’ me. This will most likely hurt Fed Ex in the short and medium run. The only thing that would have really sanitized this situation would have been a candid, non-scripted message direct from their CEO. This video is way too scripted, way to ‘corporate’ filled with generalities and non-measurable conclusions.
Businesses can get ahead of the ‘user review’ curve being candid, frank, factual, heart felt and non-scripted with video responses to their customer raves and complaints online. This includes Yelp reviews, Citysearch, Trip Advisor, Google, Yahoo, etc. It goes a long way to show the quality of the people behind the business, and that makes a big difference.