Build a Local SEO Dashboard with Google Data Studio

Good reporting can make life a lot easier with clients, bosses or in-house teams. But it can be hard to make good, visually appealing reports that bring together a variety of data sources.

That’s where Google Data Studio comes in.

Dana DiTomaso of Kick Point has figured out how to use data studio to create great reports for local SEO for clients, bosses or in-house teams.

Dana will show us exactly how to do it from start to finish. She’ll even share a data studio template that you can copy and adapt for your own use.

Links mentioned in the video:

Under the Hood with Blip Billboards

Digital billboard advertising is coming on strong combining both digital and real-world advertising.

The technology has changed recently and advertising on digital billboards is now self-serve, affordable and easy to use.

And it’s effective …

The data shows that adding digital billboard advertising to the mix leads to an increase in clicks, conversions, leads and even average customer value.

Although digital billboards have been around for a while, the process to advertise on them has been the same as traditional billboards and has been cost-prohibitive for many businesses.

Now, however, businesses and agencies can buy “impressions” on digital billboards, choose where and when to run the ads, manage and update creative, select run dates / times … at just about any budget.

We’ve asked Bart Bradshaw of Blip Billboards to join us for this week’s Office Hours webinar to talk about how digital billboard advertising works.

Bart will share actual data about how digital billboards impact customer conversion. He’ll also show us how easy it is for any company to start advertising on digital billboards with any budget.

Localized Social Marketing for Multi-Location Businesses

Localized Social Marketing (LSM) is a critical strategy for multi-location businesses.

With LSM, national chains and franchises focus on building online presence and engagement with their customers at the local store level instead of just at the brand level.

It must be done in conjunction with a broader, national marketing strategy and must be coordinated at both the corporate and local levels.

LSM tactics include strong Facebook brand and location page relationships, online review management, Google My Business Q&A, Facebook and Google My Business posts, and local ad targeting.

In this week’s Office Hours webinar, we’ve asked Monica Ho, Chief Marketing Office for SOCi, to share the results of their 2019 Localized Social Marketing Benchmark Report and the key takeaways for multi-location businesses.

Monica will show us what the most successful multi-location businesses do and how they perform in establishing a solid local presence, online customer care and engagement with local communities.

You’ll learn:
• What the top franchises are doing to win in localized social marketing
• How they leverage LSM to actually attract more customers
• Tips to increase local engagement on Facebook and Google My Business

This is a must-watch session for any multi-location business or agency that works with multi-location businesses.

Links mentioned in this video:

How to Claim and Optimize Your Apple Maps Listing (Updated)

If you’re a business who serves customers face-to-face, you need to claim and optimize the Apple Maps listing for your business.

Why worry about Apple Maps instead of just Google Maps? On iPhones and iPads, Apple is the default mapping app, not Google. This is important because three out of four users of iOS devices actually use Apple Maps, not Google Maps. These are important customers.

When someone does a web search for a local business on an iPhone or iPad, the top result is typically from Apple. When you use Siri to find a local business, the results come from Apple Maps. And, of course, there is the Apple Maps app itself which is used more often on iOS devices than Google Maps.

Apple Maps Business Listing in Web Search, Siri and Apple Maps App

Claim Your Listing

To claim your Apple Maps listing, go to … this is similar to Google My Business, but specifically for Apple. Even if you don’t claim your listing, it’s likely that Apple already has one for your business. They get their data from other sources, so it’s even more important to claim your own listing to ensure their information is correct.

You’re going to need an Apple ID, so if you don’t have one already, you’ll need to create one. You can then follow the steps on-screen to claim or add your business which typically includes a phone verification to ensure that you legitimately represent the business.

Once you’ve claimed your business and signed in, you’ll see all the listings you have associated with your Apple ID account. The Apple Maps interface isn’t as developed as Google and you can’t have multiple admins for each business. But you can have multiple locations associated with a single Apple ID.

Update Your Apple Maps Listing Information

Once you’ve claimed your listing, there are only a few options. You can edit your basic business information including business name, address, phone number, business categories, hours of operation, website URL and social media URLs.

And while you can set your business hours, there is no way to set special or holiday business hours like you can on Google, Yelp or Bing.

You’ll notice that you cannot manage any photos and there are no customer reviews. Apple gets those from other sources like Yelp and TripAdvisor, so to fully optimize your Apple listing, you’ll need to make sure you’ve also optimized those listings as well.

What’s Next?

Apple is in the process of completely rebuilding its maps product from the ground up. It will use first-party data collected from iPhones and its own fleet of cars equipped with sensors and cameras. Its goal is to be the most useful and visually rich mapping app on the market.

It’s likely that Apple will also significantly upgrade Maps Connect and help businesses to better manage their listings. But in the meantime, it’s still important for every local business to claim and optimize their local listing using the existing Apple Maps Connect tool.

3 Keys to Success with Google Local Ads

With all of the new features and campaign types for advertisers on Google Ads, it’s becoming easier for businesses to be seen online. But, it’s increasingly more complicated to do so well. In this session, Brandon Coward highlights 3 keys to success with Google Ads for local businesses. This includes:

  • How to drive awareness using display and video
  • Tips to increasing local search volume
  • Driving local foot traffic to your business locations.

Brandon covers the importance of having a funnel strategy while implementing 3 Keys to Success With Google Ads. This session will help you focus on your specific business goals and what you want to get out of advertising on Google across all channels: display, video, search and maps.

Under the Hood with CallRail

Call tracking is one of the best marketing tactics a local business can employ, and CallRail is one of the best call tracking systems out there.

With call tracking, you can help measure which of your business listings and advertising efforts actually generate inbound calls and revenue and better tune your marketing efforts.

Unfortunately, most local businesses don’t use call tracking or don’t use it effectively.

To that end, we’ve asked Madelyn Wing of CallRail to join us in this Under the Hood session to talk in-depth about:

  • How call tracking works and why local businesses should use it.
  • How Dynamic number insertion (DNI) uses a unique phone number for each of your marketing efforts to help track how well each source is doing.
  • Call tracking for local business listings (especially Google My Business).
  • Call tracking tactics for local business websites.
  • How to track calls from digital ad campaigns to better track the ROI of your ad spend.
  • How CallRail’s system can help eliminate annoying robocalls so you can spend more time talking to customers.

We’ve also asked Madelyn to show us how CallRail actually does all of this within their system.

Check out session and then, for more information, please visit the CallRail site at

How to Get a Google One Box for Your Local Business

A Google one box is a special search results box that shows up when someone does a local keyword search and only one business matches.

The benefits of being the only local map search result are obvious. But less apparent is HOW you become that business.

In this session, Phil Rozek of Local Visibility System will show you specific steps you can take to get your business to show up in more one-box search results.

He’ll also share how these same tactics can help you get more featured snippets from your website into Google’s 3-pack local business listings.

This is one session that you won’t want to miss!

Is Yelp Really the Billion Dollar Bully?

Businesses regularly complain of Yelp’s aggressive sales tactics and restrictive review policies. But, is Yelp really as bad as the “Billion Dollar Bully” documentary portrays?

Jason Brown of Review Fraud says no, and he has some eye-opening analysis to prove it. Jason joins us in this Office Hours webinar below to present his research and analysis of the businesses featured on “Billion Dollar Bully”. 

Jason is no Yelp apologist. He’s an outspoken critic of Yelp’s review policies and business practices. But Jason strongly recommends that everyone “look at the film critically; not all businesses are good, not all business owners are reputable, and not all pieces of investigative ‘journalism’ are credible.”

Yelp: Billion Dollar Bully, or Scapegoat for Bad Business?

I was excited about the release of the Yelp documentary Billion Dollar Bully. I have never bought a digital movie before. I knew I was not going to watch it just one time, and I was so right. My first time through was to take it all in, but I had mixed feelings on my first pass. It seems to barely scratch the surface of Yelp’s business practices and lacked real substance. I briefly went back and started to pick and choose a few scenes to rewatch and start my initial research. My second pass, I started looking at the businesses and the individuals featured in the documentary, and some red flags emerged.

Like, who is Amy Rose Lane?

Amy Rose Lane is listed as a freelance journalist and one of the sources for Billion Dollar Bully. She used to blog under the name Amy-Rose Lane until 2103. She then changed her name to Amica Graber before getting hired as a content and social media manager for a marketing company in San Diego. Before that, she had written for Buzzfeed and built her resume by compiling list blogs, such as “Which Fall TV Heroine Are You,” “10 Tea Cozies to Warm Your Cockles and Your Cuppa,” and “15 Jennifer Lawrence Moments To Make Snuggle Bubbles In Your Cold Dead Heart.” Upgrading herself to the title of freelance journalist apparently carried more weight with filmmakers and lent credibility as a more authoritative speaker, Jennifer Lawrence feel-good moments notwithstanding.

But it begs the question, why would this author of “Why Too Many Cooks Is Just Like Tinder,” who is a key source in this story arc, revert to a pseudonym she had ditched years earlier, and why would she do it when her big moment arrives in a documentary to chip away at billion dollar corporation Yelp?

Should a Business Be Able to Opt Out?

In rather alarming fashion so as to warn the capitalists in the world, Amy Lane raised the issue that business owners can’t opt out or remove themselves from Yelp. But, it’s clear that she doesn’t know how citations on the internet work. This is the same policy with Yellow Pages, Google, and other citation and review platforms. I contacted a colleague at the BBB and was advised that it has never heard of any business owner requesting to be removed; it also would not remove a business if there was a single complaint filed with that business.

As a Google My Business Product Expert, I see this question asked often. Typically, the businesses that want to opt out of reviews or want their business removed from Google have negative reviews and don’t want potential customers to be aware of these bad marks. I have seen cases in which businesses with horrible reviews go so far as to confess that their listing was in violation of Google’s TOS; Google then removed the business, thus removing the negative reviews associated with the listing. So far, Facebook is the only company that allows a business to delete its page or turn off reviews.

Vetted Businesses

In an online interview, filmmakers Kaylie Milliken and Mellissa Wood were asked about their vetting process for this documentary. The premise is that Yelp extorted businesses to do advertising and that, if they didn’t advertise, their positive reviews would go away, and their negative reviews would be pushed up. Wood stated they researched and vetted people and businesses that came forward to participate in the documentary. Milliken said she thinks, “the stories that we have are very solid.”

I started digging into the online reviews for these businesses. I would not have chosen them as subjects. Although I am not sure what the vetting process was, it is clear to me that the world of online reviews is completely foreign to Milliken and Wood.

The Australian Grill in Carlsbad, Calif., which is now closed, had an interesting way to deal with negative reviews. A few negative reviewers claimed that the owner harassed them or contacted their employer to have them fired. The documentary would have you believe that Ms. Stefanie Isacatus had to shut down over Yelp’s review filters without taking into account her actual business practices or the viability within the community or at a particular location. A similar complaint about The Australian Grill was posted on TripAdvisor.

The Australian Grill has a 3-star rating. But it turns out that the Australian Grill was the third restaurant to close, or fail, in that location. The Australian Grill has 21 TripAdvisor reviews, which it racked up in a two-year period; 11 reviews were 3-stars or lower. It appears that the Australian Grill did not last three years.

Even Ayesha Kiani of Chal Chilli in NYC became combative responding to negative Yelp reviews. Reviewers were trying to tell her that her food wasn’t good and needed to improve. That advice fell on deaf ears. Prior to closing Chal Chilli, it appears that Kiani posted positive Google and Yelp reviews for her restaurant. There are a lot of positive Yelp reviews by people with the last initial of K. Yelp only shows the last initial to protect the identity of the reviewer. The last negative review mentioned that they had violations with their last health inspection report. Mayor Michael Bloomberg passed a law in 2010 requiring restaurants to publicly display their letter grade. I wonder what the grade was and if, and when, it was publicly posted on her storefront?

The obvious question about Chal Chilli and The American Grill is did they close because they were extorted by Yelp or because, in a business that already has a large failure rate, their product or practices were poor?

What Was the Vetting Criteria?

I am not seeing evidence of a stringent vetting process. I noticed that several of the businesses covered in the documentary received negative reviews referencing rude staff. The Berkeley, Calif., business of R. Kassman, Purveyor of Fine Pianos, has 20 negative reviews referencing owner Russell Kassman as being “condescending.” Would it surprise you to know that R. Kassman has several suspicious positive Google reviews? It turns out five Google reviewers not only reviewed R. Kassman positively but also reviewed the same construction company in New Zealand, NZ Commercials & Industrial LTD. I also found reviewers who reviewed businesses covered on Review Fraud for having suspicious reviews. Kassman claims he started getting negative reviews “when we started towing vehicles.” I found two reviews referencing a threat to be towed. Both reviews referenced Kassman’s temperament too. One reviewer claimed to have been a customer of R. Kassman who decided to check out the sale at the business next door but was accosted by Kassman to move his car because he was no longer a customer once he left R. Kassman to visit the neighboring business.

Fido’s Retreat in Brooklyn has an issue with all negative reviews too. The owner, Gabriel Vitol replies in a combative tone and claims that several reviews are fake and/or purchased by a competitor. It’s odd that Vitol would say that the negative reviews are being purchased because it turns out that Fido’s Retreat has two years of suspicious positive Google reviews. Several of his reviewers reviewed the same businesses across multiple states across the U.S. Based on the theme in the negative Yelp reviews, it appears that Fido’s suffers from a service issue and not a Yelp problem.

I found similar complaint patterns with Dr. David H. C. King‘s medical practice in Los Gatos, Calif. Three of the five negative reviews — out of 20 total reviews — refer to the staff as rude. The negative review alleged in the documentary to be posted by a former employee is not found on King’s Yelp listing. Yelp has recently made it a violation for former employees to leave reviews. In the documentary, it was stated that medical businesses and doctors can’t reply to negative reviews; that is not true. However, they must tread lightly to not violate HIPPA laws. They are allowed to ask the reviewer to contact the office to discuss their issue privately.

Victims of Yelp?

Every business that was included in this documentary benefited from Yelp filtering or removing negative reviews. Nobody mentioned that fact. I did not find many of the business owners, based on the impression I got from watching the documentary and their response to reviewers, to be decent people at all. They don’t come across as victims but the instigators in their online woes. I did not find any suspicious reviews or manipulation with The Wheelhouse in Brooklyn, N.Y., Envescent LLC in Arlington, Va, or with Allied Outdoor Solutions in Houston.

Yelp is not perfect and could make some much-needed improvements. For example, one of the negative reviews posted for Dr. King’s Yelp listing should be removed for vulgarity. Yelp should allow business owners to request contact information for users leaving negative reviews. Yelp claims to be in the same boat as Verizon or AOL and should be protected from the information being posted on their platform. This idea is flimsy. It is Yelp’s platform, Yelp’s users, and Yelp’s content. Google complies with court orders and will supply information about users leaving reviews; I know this first-hand.

Billion Dollar Bully raised money on Kickstarter. I was excited to see this film see the light of day. Sadly, I was disappointed. I wasn’t the only one. The people who donated money should be disappointed as well. I doubt that they will dive into the businesses like I did, but will instead take it at face value. They will tout it as a moral victory. But they should look at the film critically; not all businesses are good, not all business owners are reputable, and not all pieces of investigative “journalism” are credible. Had the filmmakers taken a closer look at these business and other review platforms, I doubt that this movie would have been made. I’ve made that clear by looking at the reviews of those claiming extortion. For me, this was a massive failure and should be titled A Billion Dollar Scapegoat. No thumbs up, and I wish I could give it no stars.

Local Marketing Ideas From the Little Traveler Boutique

Like many local business marketers, Bev Nickelson, learned her craft on the job with The Little Traveler boutique in Geneva, IL. She knows her brand well and has developed a highly successful digital marketing groove for this unique retail business.

In this week’s Office Hours webinar, Bev will share The Little Traveler’s digital marketing strategy – focusing on a very effective social media strategy, as well as email and website content.

With a head for business, Bev forged an early career as an investment analyst, working her way up at institutional consulting firms in Chicago. After she had children, she stepped away from the business world to be a stay-at-home mom. She tiptoed back into the workforce in 2005 when she took a part-time position as an office assistant to the buyer for an independent local retailer.

As her children grew and she was looking to increase her responsibilities, the store’s owner was looking for someone to develop and oversee the shop’s website and online marketing efforts. When he asked Bev if she’d like to give it a whirl, she said, “Sure, why not?” She’s been learning as she goes ever since.

Please join in the conversation during this week’s live webinar with Little Traveler’s Bev Nickelson. She has some really creative ideas and tips for managing it all efficiently.

Local SEO and Marketing for Healthcare Organizations

Joel Headley shares digital marketing tactics for healthcare organizations to draw patients into your practice. Explore the patient journey and how to engage them along the way through Google My Business features and more. These are a few take-aways from Joel’s webinar with Local Marketing Institute, but click on the video below for an in-depth discussion and more great ideas for healthcare marketers.

It’s key that we start with a patient view first in healthcare marketing. Our idea of the patient journey defines and helps us understand how we market and how we build automation tools to improve that patient experience. As a marketing agency or a marketer for a medical or dental practice, your marketing objective is to get patients to the office. Let the office focus on working with the patients when they get there, and the provider focus on patient care. As marketers, we study the patient journey and use digital marketing to help people find and ultimately visit the medical or dental practice.

Looking at the patient journey, patients will first search for care providers online. The first step–awareness–is the beginning of a typical marketing funnel. Ideally, you want to be able to engage people before another practice does. That means ranking well in search engine results, showing off your expertise, and providing relevant content and contact information. Give patients an opportunity to know who you are and where you are online with correct and easy-to-access information, such as your practice name, address, phone number, and even answers to patients’ frequently asked questions.

With all your marketing efforts, you want to address each step of this customer journey. Strategize the best ways to engage those folks online where they are. Then focus your effort on filling the gaps throughout the patient marketing funnel. You want to nurture people throughout the entire process, from discovery to conversion, and pinpoint any problems along the way. You could have a lot of appointments booked, for example. But, if people aren’t showing up, those bookings aren’t worth much. How can you make sure they show up?

Nurture Patients Through Healthcare Marketing

Let’s take a closer look at the healthcare marketing funnel. This is the process people go through to find you and eventually become a patient of your medical or dental practice. As marketers, we need to look at how we can help them along the way.

Provide Answers To Their Research
One of the first steps in the marketing funnel is consideration. In healthcare marketing, we call this, “a patient doing research.” They’re trying to figure out if your provider is someone they want to visit. They’ll view your website, read online reviews, and look at the practice’s major specialties.

In healthcare, a major source of new patients is through referrals. Even if a patient doesn’t do the first step of finding you through a categorical search, they’re still doing this online research. They’re looking for what other patients are saying about you online, even if they first discovered you by a word-of-mouth referral from another trusted doctor, family friend or their mother.

Make It Easy To Book Appointments

Once you convince people that you’re someone they want to see, make it easy for them to book an appointment. Again, you want to meet the patient where they are. Do they want to call you? Make sure you have an easy way to book an appointment through the phone. Do they want to do it through your website or after hours? Ask all these questions, and make it easy for them to book with you. If it’s on your website, have a click-to-call, or have an online booking widget. Find out what works best for your practice. Again, think of this as a marketing funnel. People will drop off if they find it hard to make an appointment with you.

Send Appointment Reminders

Once they book the appointment, make sure they get to the office by sending them an appointment reminder. This can reduce no-shows and other scheduling issues. If they need to reschedule or make changes, offer them a way to rebook. Through your communications, whether email, text, phone, etc., help them understand that it’s not necessary to come today. But, they can come another time, right? Give them your schedule, so they can work out the right time for them.

Reengage At Conversion Moment

When patients come to your office, they should know exactly what to expect because they’ve been informed all the way through the process by your marketing and communications. This is the conversion moment when they’re actually at your office. During the office visit, make sure they rebook their annual appointment or any other needed treatments. Reengage current patients through ongoing marketing to help them be brand aware.

There may be an opportunity to reengage a current patient on one type of service for another that your practice offers, like cosmetic services. A patient may come in for their annual well check, for example. During the office visit, you might say, “By the way, we have Cool Sculpting. Do you want to try it out just before you leave?” Then, provide marketing over time that reinforces your brand its services.

The most important piece, however, is to make sure you’re engaging them when to come back. Whether it’s the annual checkup or six month cleaning if you’re a dentist, help them to reschedule with you. And, do it at the point of conversion if you can.

Follow Up By Seeking Feedback

Once they’ve been to the office, give them the opportunity to leave feedback. Ideally, you want to solicit this feedback automatically after the appointment. Patient feedback allows them to express what they liked and disliked about their visit. This is useful for your business to improve by understanding that feedback.

Gather feedback by sending patients a text message, email or even talking with them during the office visit. Use the feedback to improve your process. Ultimately, you want to encourage those folks, particularly those who want to advocate for your business, to leave reviews online. They can be left on your practice website or on other websites, like Google.

As advocates for your business, they are selling you through their words online. This feeds back into this initial search that we talked about. People are going to do a category search on Google, research you and make decisions about your practice based, in part, on the words of these advocates.

Focus on Google My Business Listing

Now that we understand the healthcare marketing funnel, let’s unpack three critical areas to focus your digital marketing. The big three include Google My Business, practice websites, and citations and listings. If you only have the budget and bandwidth to focus on one, focus on managing your Google My Business listing.

Why? Google is the king of online search. Research shows that 63% of searches from desktop are on Google. For mobile, 94% of all searches are happening on Google. When I look at referrals for the thousands of sites we manage, it’s still mostly all Google. There’s a little bit of Yelp, a little bit of Facebook, but otherwise, it’s all Google, all the time.

You’ll notice that Google dominates particularly in mobile search. As a result, Google’s made moves to look at your website as a mobile user would. Google looks at your website as if they’re a mobile phone first and sees the content on the website to determine what shows up in search. So, it’s super important to think about mobile when you’re thinking about not just your website, but also the tools that you create, whether it’s online booking, a Contact Us form, clickable phone numbers, or clickable addresses so they can open maps or open their phone app.

Get Specific With URLs

As you know, the information you put in Google My Business shows up on search results. GMB set up is pretty straightforward, but there are a few tips I wanted to mention. In the set up, you’ll find the product and services category and make appointment category. Those are separate attribute URLs that Google is giving you to advertise your business. If you have a way to push people to a specific page on your site that explains your services or push them to make an appointment, you want to fill in these specific URLs.

Complete Citations

NAP (name, address, phone number) consistency is important because Google reads this name, address, phone number and website across other pages of the internet. These are called citations. You don’t need a link back to your business from other websites. But if they can link, it helps. If Google matches your business to a mention on another site, it’s considered a citation and is important for prominence. So fill in all the information as complete as possible, including categories, photos, and links.

Choose Categories Wisely

Choosing a Google My Business category is uber important. With your primary category you want to answer the question, “I am a…” There are nine titles with physician, for example.

Also, be aware that different primary categories may not offer the extra link options. A clinic or a medical center may not have the appointment booking tool, and medical clinic doesn’t have services, for example.

Be specific with these primary categories rather than attempt to cast a wide net. I’ve seen healthcare providers saying they’re a medical devices store, and that’s really an entire different category of retail that they’re not in. Recognize that even though it sounds medical-ish, Google has a hierarchical understanding even though it’s a flat list.

Monitor Messaging Carefully

You can monitor your reviews and turn on messaging through Google My Business as well. Be aware that the messaging is not HIPAA-compliant, but you still can answer basic questions like, “Are you open today?”

The problem is that HIPAA compliance isn’t clearly defined when it comes to GMB messaging. There’s something called a Business Associate Agreement, you can look into to make Google as a software provider officially HIPAA compliant.

Regardless, be conscientious of what you can and can’t discuss over messaging. HIPAA says you need to be secure, and you can’t share patient data inappropriately. Listen to your patients, and respond to specific information like appointment times and office hours. But, avoid doing any sort of diagnosis or consultation about their specific case or reveal anything about them through messaging. They can reveal all they want, but you don’t want to use your information to reveal something to them. That’s where you would be crossing the line.

Someone from your practice needs to download and monitor your business on the Google My Business app on their phone. These messages will get pushed to their phone, so they can respond directly through the Google My Business app. Also monitor if GMB messaging is useful. Maybe you only get a message or two a month, and it’s not worth the time having someone ready to respond at all times. If this is the case, turn off messaging altogether. Its better to turn off the option than have an angry patient because of your slow or lack of response.

Check Out Joel’s Webinar For More Tips

There are a number of other features you can manage through Google My Business, including patient reviews, Google Q&A and Google posts. These features can really drive your business forward. Click on my Local Marketing Institute webinar below to learn more tips on how to manage GMB for healthcare and also best practices for your website and building prominence through citations and links.

Local Marketing Institute is now FREE!

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