Mike Heath is a ‘local’ SEO specialist who has been finding success recently offering a Google Places optimisation service to ‘offline’ businesses, ie brick and mortar businesses not primarily doing business online. He recently published a guide to Google Places optimisation called Google Places Domination.
Hi Mike. Can you tell me how long have you been doing business on the internet for?
I started my offline business in April of 2010 as a way to quit the 9-5 grind and run my own business. After doing several websites for clients I shifted my focus to Google Places and started helping clients rank better.
I joined the Warrior Forum in December of 2010 after reading The Four Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. I was looking for ways to profit online from my offline business and generate multiple income streams.
Since January of 2011 I’ve released two guides and have earned a great supplemental income from my info products.
Why the internet as a channel for your business?
Since my business deals with SEO and Google Places, the internet is a natural extension for my work. Without getting too much into it, I started web development professionally in 1996 and have basically spent the years since then doing just that.
In the past few years, the way people use the internet has really changed, leaving most businesses behind. While in 1996 it was okay to just have a website and maybe an email address, in 2011 it is expected that your company have a mobile presence, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Places page: the list goes on as long as you can make it.
With this new direction, most businesses have been left in the dust and are stuck in the days of “having a website.” Luckily I’ve learned the skills necessary to transform any business into a Google Places powerhouse. The great thing about this type of internet work is that one rarely needs to change their website in order to obtain a powerful presence in Places. Without the ‘web design’ aspect of working with clients, coupled with the quick turnaround time on the work and quick results, Local SEO is a business that benefits everyone.
Do you work full-time as an internet marketer?
Currently I do not. I have a full time job and do my internet work on the side. By diversifying my income stream and working quick-turnaround jobs I am able to pull in twice the income without twice the work, plus hold onto the benefits and 401k of my full time job. I do plan to exit the workforce, or hire an employee, when my workload exceeds my ability to perform it.
What are your main areas of business?
I mainly do local SEO, places optimization, and a dash of web design.
I’d like to ask you about Google Places Domination – a product you launched recently. It is a guide to how to rank well in Google Places.
Can you explain first of all what Google Places is?
Google Places is an extension to Google Search that is responsible for the mapped listings displayed when users search for local terms. Some examples might be “bakery in Atlanta” or “lawyer in Birmingham.” Along with the map listings, companies are also encouraged to have a Places Page in which they’re able to list relevant details about their businesses. Some examples include a phone number, website, menu, service radius, etc. Along with basic information, companies can also upload tagged photos and videos.
Why would I care where my business ranks in Google Places? Does anyone check Google Places when they do a search? I’m much more concerned about where I rank in the main Google search results.
Well, here’s the deal. Google places results always appear before regular results (for local-type searches), so 90% of the time that’s the listing your visitors will click on versus your regular site listing for those search terms. It’s not a matter of whether users are checking the Places listings, it’s rather – is your business there at all?
For regular websites that are not local companies, Google won’t generally display the mapped listings. In this case you should be more concerned about traditional on page SEO, backlinking, and other strategies to get a higher ranking in the regular search results.
Does Google Places influence the main Google results?
Yes, and the reason why is that Google is starting to mix Places results with organic results – if your page has a more complete profile, meaning Optimized Places page, many citations, on page SEO, off page SEO, then your ranking will be higher than your non-places counterparts. For more traditional searches that won’t provide a maps listing, this won’t make too much of a difference.
Can you share any big wins you have had when optimising a Google Places listing? And what were the business benefits to getting that listing?
Well, I can share my site, which is currently #2 for both ‘seo columbia’ (no map) and ‘seo Columbia sc’ (map). This has had a big effect on my business as it has brought in more clients and provided more opportunities to work with the local community than I would have otherwise.
Another big win – I can’t share the website yet – but I’ve been working with a local education based non-profit for about 6 months to both redo their website and give them more exposure statewide via Google Places. This has been a huge success and not only has it benefitted the non-profit, but it has spread the word about my services inside a great niche (non-profits) and gained me a contract extension of another 6 months for a couple hours per week of work.
Can you tell me a little about Google Places Domination?
About mid-January I sat down to write this product and it took me a little over three weeks to finish. The goal was to produce a thorough guide that anyone could either use themselves or give to their team that would instantly allow anyone to become a Places ‘expert.’ One great thing about the world is there are so many cities and businesses that need this information – I can’t do it all myself. By producing this guide and manual I hope to empower others to become knowledgeable in this area and help businesses in their communities.
What format is the product in?
This report is a 28 page PDF and is joined by six videos that detail specific steps in the Places optimization process.
What kind of research did you do to establish a business need for Google Places Domination?
Many businesses think an online presence is just about having a website. By showing clients these services and how they can help businesses dramatically increase their customer base and profits, you can really help them gain an understanding of today’s online landscape.
Since Places optimization and local SEO is a very high demand, low supply market, getting clients is fairly easy, and the money they spend on their Places optimization is usually far below their total marketing budget. Also, many clients have found that simply by utilizing places they can abandon more traditional forms of advertising like yellow pages, billboards, radio ads, etc.
What are your main methods to market Google Places Domination?
I’ve been promoting through interviews, marketing to my list, promoting the affiliate aspect, and by sharing the word with my friends in the IM world. The most successful by far has been my list, as they have bought from me before and know the quality of my products.
Any other techniques to create buzz about Google Places Domination?
I announced it on Facebook, but that’s about it.
Is there anything you would do differently when launching another product? Have you launched any other products since?
I know that my sales process needs work, so for my next product I’m going to optimize my sales funnel, do a proper download page, and set up my auto responder differently. I’m also going to recruit more affiliates prior to launch to generate more buzz and get some preliminary stats prior to official launch time.
Can you tell me a little about how you created Google Places Domination?
I just sat down and wrote what I know, doing some research here and there and pointing out some case studies for those who learn better by example. It took about three weeks of consistently writing and writing more to generate this product, and I’m glad I did it. It was a good learning experience and I think future products should come faster while retaining the same quality.
What are your future plans, either in internet marketing or otherwise?
I plan to develop more products, maybe venture into the software realm a little as I do some c# coding for my day job. I plan to expand my offline business until I figure out the best process, and then automate it to maximize my income.
Google Places Domination is currently only available at the Warriors Forum at http://www.warriorforum.com/warrior-special-offers-forum/328837-fire-sale-somacore-warrior-special-offer-series-dominate-google-places.html.
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