As I talk with business owners about their websites sometimes I find a small business owner who is doing everything themselves. They have taken local classes to learn about keywords, meta descriptions and posting content with keywords. It is exciting to have a small business owner so proud of their work and beam at me as they exclaim “I’m coming up #1 in Google”. I am very impressed and tell them so! They are usually in the minority of small business owners that have vowed to tackle things themselves. “Kudos to you!” – I usually say with a big smile – “that’s awesome!”. I reveal that I make WordPress sites for clients and have internet marketing knowledge if they need any assistance in the future – they can call me, and then I hand them my card. Just this past week I had this very conversation with a small business owner and they said, “hey take a look at my site and if you have any suggestions, let me know”. So, I did! I was excited to see her site that was coming up #1.
AAhh, she’s confusing the Google Places listing . . .
Yep, it turns out she is coming up #1 in her Google Places listing – not with her regular website. In searching for her regular website she is actually on page 20 of the organic listings. So what is so bad about being #1 on Google Places? Nothing! It’s truly a good thing. But if you are counting on Google Places alone to generate traffic to your website that could be a problem because Google is wrong sometimes. To count on traffic from just a small Google Places listing could be dangerous. Her last review is not all that great too, a slightly disappointed customer that rated her just 2 stars. And no response from the owner! That is a big no-no. If you get anything less than 5 stars you need to address it on Google Places and respond right away. How hard is it to say . . .
“so sorry you were disappointed, I will do whatever I can to make this right for you. I appreciate the feedback and will make sure this does not happen again. Only through feedback can we sharpen our business practices, so I do appreciate the comment. I will call you this week and we can discuss a solution. Thank you!”
Google Places changes – and you are not in control of these changes –
Do you know how many times Google Places changes things? Remember when they took out the Yelp and CitySearch reviews not too long ago? (See Changes to Google Places Reviews). That Google shift meant that some businesses lost their 5 star ratings and dropped down to 2 star ratings and went from a “B” position to a “J” position. If that was your business and you counted on that position – I bet your phone didn’t ring for a month!
From Google Places to your Website
So I did click on the link and found her business site. Right away I noticed it had clean lines, good white space, one picture and one of the tabs had a spelling error and there was no phone number in the header. So if a customer moved from page to page and wanted to call – they had to search for the phone number. Never make people search for you phone number – put it in the header!
The paragraph on the home page has 4 grammatical mistakes which makes it hard to read. There are some people that will not do business with you if you have that many spelling errors or proper English mistakes on your home page. They feel you are not very bright and don’t pay attention – so why should they do business with you? Think I am making this up? No. This is true. You want to be as professional as possible in every way – on your website, your Facebook Page, your Twitter musings, your in-store signage – everything!
I did call the owner of this store and told her about the phone number and the tab that was misspelled and she was very grateful. I told her it was a nice site and good luck, but I did not tell her my other thoughts. Some day I will stop by again and give her an analysis and offer my services for a month or two to help her sort things out.
I wanted to use her story as an example of how we can be fooled into thinking things are “great” when they are really “not”. All your keyword work and classes are not translating into page rankings when you coming up on page 20 of a normal Google search results page. Get all the advice you can on your website, and see if someone can suggest something new for your site. It might mean the difference of your business succeeding or just doing “ok” in the marketplace. And don’t confuse your Google Places listing with your regular, organic Website ranking. Know what you are doing or hire someone to assist you with your internet marketing efforts.