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Instant Search – Impact on Google Local Maps SEO September 10, 2010

Posted by Daniel in SEO, WebStuff.
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With all the buzz about Google’s new Instant Search, I wanted to get an idea on paper (well, e-paper). I’ve been reading as many articles as I can get my hands on, trying to differentiate the panic and pandemonium from the insightful and helpful. Most of what I’ve found has been obvious observation. “Search has changed before, and it will change again. Those ready and able to change with it will continue to be successful SEO’s.” I’m mostly seeing downers and people thinking of this as more work.

But if you’ve been spending any time working on legitimate local listings in Google Places… (more…)

The City as a Chalkboard – There’s an App for That January 8, 2010

Posted by Daniel in Search Engines, SEO, WebApps.
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BlockChalk is a new piece of fun for your phone that lets you “write” in chalk all over your city, town, neighborhood, favorite restaurant, etc. How will this affect search you might ask? It’ll only be a matter of time until Google (more…)

Pirates Attack the Hyatt Regency Miami Hotel September 8, 2009

Posted by Daniel in Search Engines, SEO, WebStuff.
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…which gave me an idea – to write a quick how-to. Check out what inspired my how-to below step 4.

How to Rank First in Google Local Listings With Almost No Effort

1. Find an Un-claimed Company Ranking First in Google Local Search

Do some general searches in your area on Google Maps for items totally unrelated to what you’re trying to sell.  For example, you’re selling moving boxes, try searching for pizza. Click on “Edit” for the top listing and if the business is unclaimed you’ll see a link to “Claim Your Business” which will take you to the Google Local Business Center (LBC).

2. Claim the Listing (Even though it’s not really yours) in Google Local Business Center

Once you either create an LBC account or log-in using your existing Google Account, you can enter your phone number and website for the business you are comandeering. After you finish replacing the true business contact information with your contact details, Google will ask you to verify by mailing you postcard in 1-2 weeks with a PIN on it that you’ll enter in your LBC account.

3. Verify the Listing and Watch the Traffic Pour In

Here’s where there actually was some creativity in the SEO Pirate’s plan and why it only works on Hotels. When the verification postcard is mailed out, you’ll need some way to be the recipient of that postcard at the business’ real address.  So a pizza place (example in step 1 above) wouldn’t work.  However, lets say you claimed a hotel and booked a 2 week stay in that hotel immediately afterward.  You’d simply have to let the front desk know that a peice of mail containing your name and phone number would be arriving and to have them send it up to your room.

4. Viola – You Now Own Hyatt Regency (According to Google Maps)

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While doing research for our Miami Movers, I stumbled upon a very interesting approach to SEO.  When searching in Firefox for Miami Hotels on Google Maps, the first result listed turned up “Miami Moving and Movers“. As I’ve been working on the movers aspect of the HireAHelper site for a while now, I thought maybe Google was using my search history in an attempt to enhance my search results by providing me with a result pertinent to what I normally search for.

Miami Movers in Hotel results

So I opened Internet Explorer and did the search again, staying logged out of my Google account.  When that search yielded the same result, I knew something was up.  Clicking through the additional info, I found over 700 reviews.  I started to assume that Miami Moving and Movers had simply posted themselves in the wrong category and spam reviewed themselves as a hotel to rank in an easy-to-rank, high-traffic area.  But to my surprise, the reviews sounded very real, and halfway down the page I found 2 reviews directly referencing the Hyatt Regency Miami.

That’s when it clicked – pirates had attacked the Hyatt Regency Miami. Some SEO genius thought it would be a good idea to claim the Hyatt listing as his business after it had already risen to 1st place in the local rankings with several hundred reviews. He then changed the name and contact info to point viewers to his moving company.

I guess if you want a lot of easy traffic and don’t care about your site getting blacklisted then this approach makes sense – almost.  Getting all that traffic from a different industry probably doesn’t result in a lot of conversions. Definitely not enough profit to cover the costs of the lawsuit Hyatt should bring against the offender. I wonder why Miami Moving isn’t associated with any trustworthy associations or accreditation like the BBB or the AMSA (American Moving and Storage Association).

Movers First for Miami Hotels

To Miami Moving and Movers:  Sorry to turn you in… well not really.  I work too hard trying to do our SEO in a real, sustainable way to let you get off that easy. Good luck in the Hyatt vs. SEO Pirate trial.