Tampa Restaurants, grab your listing in Bing

binglogoLast month, Microsoft unleashed its brand new search engine onto the market. It’s called Bing and, contrary to the name, you do have to take it seriously. Even if you’re not planning to give up your Google search habit, you’ll still want to familiarize yourself with Bing to understand how you can help your site rank in their local search index. To learn a bit more about the engine, you can read about the keynote Q&A Microsoft president Dr. Qi Lu gave at last week’s Search Marketing Advanced show in Seattle.

However, what I really wanted to see was how Bing handles local search.

Microsoft has never been known for the creating the hippest search products, so I was curious to see how Bing was handling local search right out of the gate. A search for [Tampa, FL steak house] brings up all the usual suspects that my palette remembers here in Tampa. You’ll notice that the search engine results page (SERP) looks pretty rudimentary compared to Google and Yahoo! (not much more exciting than a Yellow Pages search), however, I really like the refinement options Bing offers on the left-hand side. They take an approach similar to Ask.com where they allow you to sort your search by Rating, Price, Cuisine, Atmosphere, Reservations, Payment and Parking options.

Once you refine your search, Bing allows you to click through to individual business listings. These individual pages give local searchers handy business “scorecards”, 1-click driving directions (a pretty awesome feature), a 3D Bird’s Eye View of the business in Maps, customer reviews, and more.

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Why did I point all the refinement features and options Bing shows users? Because it’s important to know what users are seeing so that you can fill out your own local search listings to take advantage of all the refinement options.

So let’s do it.

To list your local business in Bing, head to the Bing Local Listing Center. From there, you’ll be able to check to see if you already have a local listing set up. If you do, you can modify it. If not, now’s the perfect time to create one.

Once you start creating/modifying your account. Bing will ask you to log in using your Windows ID. If you don’t have one, you’ll have to create one. From there, you’ll be asked to enter in your contact and business information, as well as a laundry list of supplemental information like additional phone numbers, Web pages, email address, hours of operation, payment methods, photos, etc. There’s also a long section for additional information like your company tagline, business description, brands carried (if applicable), specialties, affiliations, languages spoken, parking options, etc. It’s always in your best interest to create as complete a profile as you can.

From there, you can select up to six prioritized categories to place your business in based on associated keywords. You’ll also be able to supply information about features, cuisine type, prices, atmosphere, etc. Make sure you fill these out the best you can so that you can take advantage of Bing’s great local search refinement options. If you list it as an option, you will show up for it when a user looks for it!

bingcategory

Once that’s complete, Bing will ask you to review your business listing on the map, fixing the pushpin locator, if necessary. If everything looks good, submit your listing and you’re done. That’s it! Freel free to congratulate yourself on a well used 10-15 minutes.

It’s really important that you take the time to complete accurate business listings in Google, Yahoo, Bing and the other third-party service providers. The more accurate information there is about your company out there, the better chances your customers are going to find you. And when it only takes a few minutes, is there really any excuse not to give your Web site the best possible chance at ranking?

No. There’s not.

Ethical SEO – What You Really Need To Know About SEO

Ethical SEO, sounds intriguing doesn’t it? Ethical = Honest, reliable, considerate. Yet something is bothering me. With increasing regularity I am hearing SEO horror stories. Someone whom I respect and admire a lot, told me that 85% of all SEO companies are selling ‘snake oil’.  This saddens me to the point of writing about it. I want to point out how SEO should work and what kind of results you should be getting.

The reason I am using the term Ethical SEO is pretty obvious. An ethical SEO consultant should have your businesses best interest at heart. Internet marketing is big business. That is one of the reasons you get rather unscrupulous chracters delivering sub-standard work.

A common practice for shady SEO ‘expert’ is to promise you first page search results. No matter or discussion of your business or keywords, they just guarantee you first page results. Immediately this should set off warnings signs for anyone that has even a remote inkling of what SEO is.

Just the other day I heard a story from a potential customer. A ‘seo’ guy paid them a visit recently, pretty much guaranteed first page Google results for them. They took the bait. Signed a contract and paid the fees. After a period of time they received a report stating that the work was complete. What they saw next completely shocked them, they were indeed in first position, for completely wrong keywords. Keywords that do not receive much search traffic. Money wasted on pure crap SEO. Unfortunately, this happens a LOT. Don’t let  it happen to you.

Typically these people will charge an arm and a leg. $5000 is not an uncommon price. Often times they deliver really bad results often hurting businesses more than helping them. Consider this for just a moment. If you spend no time researching keywords, understanding the clients business and what people are searching for, how in the heck can you deliver results. The answer to that is pretty simple, you cannot.

If your thinking of hiring an SEO consultant here are a few things to look out for.

  • Takes the time to talk to you about your business. A great SEO consultant will take the time to learn what it is your business does. How you make a living, what type of products and/or services you specialize in. I wont need your entire businesses history, typically I can learn enough in about 30 minutes.
  • Understands how to read keyword tools. This is very important as this pertains directly to what people actually search for. This will help them determine if they can meet your SEO goals.
  • In addition to understanding keyword tool usage, explains what people search for and what keywords you should be targeting. An Ethical SEO specialist will tell you if there is not enough search volume to warrant the expense. SEO types cannot make people search for your product.
  • Makes no promises of guaranteed first page results for highly competitive keywords. The ethical SEO specialist will explain what keywords they think they can get you to rank for.
  • Will tell you if you are fighting a losing battle. Even though a SEO consultant is a sales person, the ethical SEO guru will tell you if they CANNOT help your business. It is rare but there are some cases where there is too much competition and not enough funding available to accomplish the desired goals.
  • Will make you sign an agreement outlining very specific details of their work, and you’re expected results.

That’s about it for now, if you have something to add I would love to hear your comments.

Local SEO Generates Local Traffic and Sales

Local SEO

SEO is not always some dark mysterious wizardry.  Many web properties undertake SEO in an effort to help increase their national – or perhaps international – visibility online. Other companies are only concerned about attracting customers in their neighborhood, something local search experts says is much easier.

Attracting local search traffic is much easier than optimizing a website for a national or international audience. Local Search efforts often pay off immensely. In the last couple of years, all the major search engines have added local results to their global results pages. Google maps and the local business center has replaced the yellow pages our parents used. Continue reading “Local SEO Generates Local Traffic and Sales”