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Your Business on Google Maps

Google Maps introduced a new feature a while back that now shows the names of businesses, right on the map, no charge, one postcard.

Try This

(As of 02/22/2010) go to:  maps.google.com, type “Boiling Springs, PA”  into the search box.  No big deal, right – you get a map centered on Boiling Springs.

Ok, so on the left hand side, right below the orange man – there is a plus sign, to zoom in the map.  Click that once.   Now you can see the High School, Gelinas Bed & Breakfast, and Allenberry ‘listings’.  Click the plus sign again and you see the Boiling Springs Tavern, Boiling Springs Pool, Village Artisans Gallery, Mateya Law Firm, the Boiling Springs, PA Post Office and more.   Another click shows a few more businesses.

I am not sure what rankings determine at what zoom level your business shows up, but it should be clear that your business NEEDS to be here.  Look closer at the listings.  The pool shows a swimmer, using the normal signage icons that you see on the highway.  The tavern shows a martini glass.  Gelinas shows a lodging icon.

Your Business

Check out your own town.  Is your business there?  Can someone stop by your business because they saw you on the map?

If your business is not there, or if you have not taken ‘ownership’ of your business in Google’s directory, you need to do that.  Once you have control of your listing, you can add hours, services, special information and even coupons.  If you work at all on improving your businesses relevance on the internet, this is one thing you need to address.

Get Listed

So – how to get your business listed, if it is not there already?  Go here: Google Local Business Center and follow the instructions.

How I Doubled Daily Visitors

About the Website

I built a website back in 2006, coded with FrontPage (yeah, I just hadn’t switched at that point) and custom coded with PERL for the database elements.  You could search, view and rate restaraunts.  That was about all you could do.  I was a nice website, served its purpose which was to provide information on local establishments.  No reviews, no categories.  Not WordPress!

What I Did

For this case study, you have to start with a not-very-user-interactive site.  This one did have voting and a top ten list, but nothing else.  Essentially, I moved the original site over to a WordPress operated CMS site.  By going to a WordPress site, I added (instantly) reviews (as comments), more searchable listings, categories and tags.  No extra effort on my part.

The Hard Part

It was time consuming to update all the listings from the original site and enter them as posts on the new site.  I know there are plugins that can take a CSV or Flatfile and update that database to posts, but I have not found a free one that worked to my specs; and I did not want to pay for a plugin at this point.  [Anyone have a suggestion?]

So, I watched TV, entered listings from notepad and over a couple of evenings had all my listings posted.

So Why do I say ‘Easily’

Granted, that grunt work was especially draining.  Doubling my visitors was easy, because now I had a new system, set up to be more keyword, title and overall site friendly than it was before.  Adding listings became easier when needed.  Updating listings is also a breeze.

I was also able to add a few plugins.  Plugins are easy.  Restaurant voting, easy… search “Post Ratings”, review the install, and click ‘activate’… done.  Add the plugin for Google Sitemap, activate… done!  Easy.

Users started interacting more.  More votes, user reviews and more REPEAT visitors!

Check out the Stats and my Analysis!

Statistics

The actual growth in visitors  for the beginning 9 months of last year compared to this year was actually 87%, so I didn’t really double, but it is close.

Pageviews/Pages per Visit is an interesting stat combination.  My visitors are viewing 35% less pages per visit – which in turn reduces my pageviews from a doubling to only 20%.  There are a couple of factors that cause the reduction in pageviews.  First was the voting script.  The original site caused 3 page views if a user voted.  The new version is AJAX, so no reload, only one pageview.  Also – I believe that my visitors are hitting the page they want right away, instead of having to dig through the site (see Bounce Rate).  So, am I providing a better resource and hitting better SERPS?

My Bounce Rate has climbed 65%!  This could be interpreted as disappointing – but I am going to spin it a little.  I believe that my visitors are landing on the right page – the first time – and possibly leaving my site for the restaurants website.  If this is the case, I can be satisfied that my visitor is getting the best results for their time spent, which may also be the reason that time spent on the site is also down.

New Visits are down as well.  What is the spin on this one?  If I have more visitors overall, but the percentage of new visits is down by 3.5%, then I am still seeing an increase in total new visitors.  But… visitors are also finding that this website is a good reference, bookmarking or emailing it to a friend, and coming back!  Checkmark that as a plus as well!

Final Reflections

Even though this site isn’t a wildfire with daily visitors (around 100/day), the site has maintained the incresased traffic for nine solid months.  Take from this what you will, but I recommend that you do one of two things;  improve sites you own by finding better backends like WordPress;   and/or find websites that have not been optimized with a system like WordPress, buy it, update it and you might just double the value of the site … or more!