Is That A 5″ Screen in Your Pocket or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

May 5th, 2014

That was the proposed name of the awesome panel I am going to be moderating at Street Fight Summit West in San Francisco on June 3rd:

Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 2.52.56 PMGrinder Logo

Hot, Local Action
Sure, smartphones are great for finding a nearby restaurant or getting an Uber car, but the true innovation was making it easier for all of us to hook up. In this panel, two of the most popular location-based dating apps get up close and personal, exploring the exploding $2B+ local, mobile personals industry — and what other local marketers can learn from their successes. Find out how these apps are spreading the local love.
Andrew Shotland, Proprietor, Local SEO Guide (moderator)
Jonathan Badeen, Co-founder, Tinder
* Steve Levin, Global Head of Sales, Grindr

This is one local search panel you will not want to miss. Still trying to convince my wife those apps on my phone are for research…

→ 2 CommentsTags: Local Search
Posted by Andrew Shotland

You Don’t Need a Website to Rank Well in Google Places

April 25th, 2014

sushi pleasanton


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→ 5 CommentsTags: Google Place Pages
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Connectivity.com Takes a Shot at Local CRM

April 24th, 2014

Connectivity.com Logo

Whenever I run into the guys from Yellowbot (aka Solfo) at a local search conference, the exchange is typically something like “hard to believe we are at another one of these things…”.

In other words, ErronEmad and the gang have been at the Local game a long time.  I was surprised when Matt Booth jumped the BIA Kelsey ship to join as their CEO. While I had always thought that the Yellowbot team had done some quite interesting stuff with reputation monitoring, their services had always seemed to me to be just another local digital marketing thingamabob.

Today, they announced that they raised a bunch of $, have rebranded as Connectivity.com and now according to Matt Booth:

“We are building a CRM / messaging tool that comes with pre-populated customers for every location in North America. The data is auto populated from any unique handle mobile number, check-in, email. We can do this because the company has assembled a very robust data that includes typical reputation monitoring data but also what consumers touch each business on every location in North America. 
Down the road, we will allow business to add transaction data to the tool like a POS.
Having all of this allows you to do all sorts of interesting things like: (1) We have not seen you in 30 days. (2) Profile best customers (3) Create look-a-like lists to get new customers (4) Loyalty….
And on and on….”

Now that sounds like a pretty cool local digital marketing thingamabob. Local CRM functionality is one of the biggest opportunities in Local IMO. Should be interesting to watch it play out.

Check them out at Connectivity.com 

→ No CommentsTags: BIA/Kelsey · Yellowbot
Posted by Andrew Shotland

The Pleasanton Drought

April 19th, 2014

California Drought Map
Source: Why California’s Drought Isn’t Going Anywhere

I am posting this page as a resource for Pleasanton residents seeking both information on the how the drought is affecting the area and resources for how we can all help the situation.

On April 18th, the San Jose Mercury News quoted Daniel Smith, Pleasanton’s Operation Services Director, saying that the outlook for the drought is “very grim”. The key points of the article:

  • Pleasanton gets 80 percent of its water from the state water project and 20 percent from groundwater. Right now, the state has said the city will get a mere 2 percent of its water allotment. There’s a chance the allotment could drop to zero.
  • Residents have been asked to voluntarily reduce water consumption by 20 percent, but usage has actually increased 14 percent in recent months.

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→ 8 CommentsTags: Uncategorized
Posted by Andrew Shotland

You Just Can’t Trust Google Maps, At This Point, To Produce Either Relevant Or Accurate Results When Much Of It Is Just Pure Spam.

April 15th, 2014

Fantastic interview by Nyagaslov Zhekov with Dan Austin on Google’s ineffectual response to map SPAM, including Bryan Seely’s spoofing of Secret Service listings earlier this year. Money quote:

“The “newest” ploy, which has been in development for several years now, is to use real estate listings on sites like Trulia, and have the PIN card sent to homes for sale or rent, and then go to the post office and have the PIN cards diverted in transit, through a change of address card to a central location, which the Post Office is more than happy to oblige. There’s nothing on Google’s PIN cards to indicate that it should only go to the address in question. Mail fraud, incidentally, is a federal crime punishable with up to 20 years in prison. Since the spammers are inputting the PIN code into Google’s system, they’re also engaging in wire fraud, another federal crime. This doesn’t get Google off the hook, either, since they’re facilitating this system, knowingly or not, and have made almost no effort to verify whether a business is legitimate or not, even though it takes all of 30 seconds or less to do so, using existing public government and trade group databases on the web.”

and this:

“I think there’s another reason that Google should care: they’re facilitating a highly organized criminal enterprise. PIN card verification is mail and wire fraud; bait and switch PPC and click-to-call are wire and consumer fraud. This is a multibillion business, and that’s just the illegal aspect of it. Google is profiting from it by taking their AdWords tax from the spammers, and since Google is the primary means of marketing for service businesses, spammers are doing everything they can to get at the top of the search results, and naturally, Google is positioning their own Maps products for Local searches at the top. They have not only a legal responsibility to ensure the integrity of their products, but an ethical one as well.” 

Let me repeat: Google is facilitating a highly organized criminal enterprise. If John Gotti had been a programmer, this is the kind of thing he would have built.

Read the whole piece here. It’s really great. And by “great” I mean “depressing”.


→ 2 CommentsTags: Google Maps
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Yext Launches Store Locator Pages

April 14th, 2014

Yext Pages

Today Yext announced the launch of Yext Pages – a store location finder service that complements its Powerlistings local listings management service. Pretty cool stuff if you are local brand manager who can’t seem to get your IT department to get around to updating/building location pages.  And automatically keeping your onsite location pages in sync with your business listings data on the Powerlistings network is a nice bonus.

Yext asked me to put together a white paper on location landing page optimization which you can get here.


Disclosure: I do consulting for Yext and I think they are doing some cool stuff.

→ 6 CommentsTags: Yext.com
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Who Owns Customer Reviews of Your Business?

April 10th, 2014

Mike Blumenthal just posed a question about this on G+ and I thought it was worthy of posting here.  The TL;DR answer is:

1. On G+, Yelp and most other review sites, the reviewer typically owns the content of the review (this is to shield the review sites from liability) while the review sites own the right to do whatever they want with the content.

2. Third parties typically cannot use the reviews on their own services without consent from either the service or the content owner (aka the reviewer). Yelp has an exception for non-commercial use, whatever that is.

3. So if you have a business you should probably include in your TOS something like “You agree to give us a perpetual, royalty-free license to use any content, such as a review, that you create related to our business, however and wherever we want.” or something legalistic like that.

→ No CommentsTags: Google · Online Reviews · Yelp
Posted by Andrew Shotland

SMBs Have Got Google Maps’ Number…

April 8th, 2014

Google Maps Phone Number

Just found a classic thread on one of those “did you get a call from this phone number” sites. Some samples for your local SEO reading pleasure:

Calls our business several times per day (not interested in their services). If you hang up, they call right back. They repeat this throughout the day and when we come to work have voice mails left on our machine soliciting their services. I want them to stop calling period!


Called me several times, early morning/evening. Pretending to represent google map. He is from outside the country, very heavy accent. Do not give information to this person.


I got a call from this number. the girl has a very heavy india accent..after I talked to her our website is gone from google place. It is really sucks.


Asked for Nurse next door


The guy called and said he was looking at my website and wanted to verify my address which he read to me. Do you think that Sergy and Brin (Google’s founders and biggest shareholders) hire and pay people from India to find my little company on the web and have them call me to verify my address?????? (Actually Google sent a postcard to verify the listing when I signed up for Analytics.) The telemarker scammer said he was with “google maps” an often used ruse. I asked him where “google maps” was and he stammered for a while then I asked him where he was located. He said India. I told him I get about 10 of these calls a day and if he called again I would transfer him to the FBI because he was a scammer. He stammered and said “Yes sir Yes Sir”

Don’t ring me please, I am fed up.

I could go on and on. You can find plenty of these sites on this SERP. Enjoy


→ 7 CommentsTags: Google · Google Maps
Posted by Andrew Shotland


April 8th, 2014


p.s. if anyone from Hubspot would like to respond that they did not just tell one of my clients that, I’d be happy to discuss.

p.p.s. honestly I was surprised that you guys used the word “SEO”. Aren’t we all like “inbound” now?

p.p.p.s rebranding tomorrow as “Local Inbound Guide”

→ 6 CommentsTags: Uncategorized
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Redfin Needs To Get Real About Zillow & Real Estate SEO

April 3rd, 2014

Today online real estate brokerage Redfin sent real estate portal Zillow an open letter basically calling Zillow out for not playing nice SEO-wise and demanding that Zillow change its ways to benefit Redfin’s and other brokerages’ websites’ SEO.

Redfin’s SEO complaints boil down to:

  • Zillow takes Redfin’s real estate listings and puts the links back to the listing on Redfin.com in javascript so Google doesn’t see the link and give Redfin any SEO benefit
  • As a “portal”, Zillow is under some kind of obligation to provide users with a clear link back to Redfin and other sources. Here’s the exact quote:
    “We’re asking Zillow.com to render the listing attribution in the same simple way as the rest of the listing, so consumers can find the full source listing via search engines.”
  • They also compare Zillow/Redfin to Google/Amazon with the following statement:
    “We see a portal like Zillow as just that: a portal to data on other sites — a broad starting point for a consumer seeking general real estate information — not the only point, not an ending point. This model is well-established on the Internet. Google, for example, displays only a small snippet of information about a product being sold by Amazon, with a very prominent link to Amazon. Imagine if Google redisplayed most of Amazon’s product page, kept it up when Amazon took it down, and didn’t show the link to the original Amazon listing in an easy-to-find spot?”

Couple of thoughts:

  • If Redfin thinks that consumers are searching for the “full source listing via search engines” v. just the first version of the listing that comes up, methinks they are smoking crack. Real estate listings are generic data that many real estate sites carry. If people don’t care enough to go directly to Redfin or to search for listings via Google on Redfin, I don’t think pulling the link out of javascript is going to make much of a difference.
  • Redfin’s only recourse I can see is to play a game of chicken and withhold its listings from Zillow. Or delay the publishing of the listing on Zillow until Google has indexed the Redfin.com listing. But that assumes that Redfin’s SEO gain will outweigh the loss of leads from Zillow.
  • Redfin’s Google/Amazon argument is flawed. In this case I see Zillow acting more like Amazon than Google. They post products (listings) from vendors and try to sell them (send leads to agents). And you’ll notice that Amazon doesn’t link out to its vendors.

I’m not saying that Redfin doesn’t have a point. Zillow is being a bit dickish with their links. And some of the other non-SEO arguments may be legitimate industry issues. But in my experience SEO issues between companies are no different than any other business issue: the guy with more leverage tends to win the argument.

→ 8 CommentsTags: Linkbuilding
Posted by Andrew Shotland