Case Study – How to Fix a “Disconnected Listing” Problem


It’s not a walk in the park trying to figure out why your client’s Google Listing all of a sudden disappeared from the local search results while their organic rankings maintained good standing for a long period of time. I had some trouble figuring this one out, but after some discussion over on Google+ and the InsideLocal webinar that followed, I eventually found something that led me to the root cause of this “disconnected listing” problem my client’s been facing for the past two months.

Here’s a bit of background info for you to absorb first:

  • The client came to me 2 months after they noticed they had a disconnected listing problem
  • Their website remained ranking on the first page of Google for a number of high volume search keywords that were aligned to their business
  • The client was aware that their site was at one point hacked, where files were installed on his server that comprised of black hat links (maybe some negative SEO attempts here?). They had this issue resolved before I was hired on
  • This is a Canadian business (data aggregators are highly influenced by the big phone providers)
  • They have a physical store front where customers (mostly businesses) would visit them at their location

I told my client, after doing some quick detective work that it would take roughly 3 months for this recovery to happen. We managed to achieve it in under 2. Although this solution worked extremely well in my case, it requires a deep understanding of Local SEO and of course, patience.

The process

In all of my client engagements, the first month is dedicated to understanding their business as well as their past and current SEO situation. I do all of this through an audit process that I’ve developed and worked for me in the past.

Early November – After completing an audit of the website and Google Listing, I did find some opportunities for growth. However, none of these really stood out as a solution to their disconnected listing problem. What I did find on their Google Listing was they only selected one category. But, they qualified for 7 categories. After some time, we didn’t see any improvements.

Second week of December – One of the questions I ask my local search clients that are getting out of a penalty is: has your business ever operated under a different business name. If they say no, then I assume what they tell me, what it says in Google or the big aggregators is what I should reference as their “doing business as” name. After some thorough research into their citation profile, I later find out after a discussion with the client that their business at one point was registered under a different name with their phone provider. As a result, a couple high profile citation sources (including Yelp) had the incorrect business name, but the address and phone numbers were correct.

15 citation sources were affected. We attempted to claim and correct as many as we could. For some, we were required to reach out to the webmaster via email or form submission to get the information updated. A few never replied and didn’t get changed.

Exactly 8 days after this cleanup, my client was back and at the top of the local search results! Was this all pure luck? Maybe a bit, but it’s certain local citations play a big part in local search rankings. In this case, I figured that Google was just confused. A couple of the big directory sites mentioned their business address and phone with a different business name. Once that was cleaned up, our problems all went away.

What tools did we use in this investigation?

We monitored the rankings manually (using Incognito with no personalization and because this business is in the city I live in, I should get a really close result to what Ottawa folks get when they search for their keywords) and automatically with BrightLocal’s Rank Tracker tool.

We used BrightLocal’s citation tracker, as well as Whitespark’s local citation finder to find as many citation sources that were affected. Some manual searches in Google, after finding out about their alternative name also surfaced up some listings that we were able to take care of quickly.

Closing thoughts

I don’t think this problem happens regularly, but when it does, you need to (1) put your detective hat on (2) ask the right questions and (3) look in the right places and pick out the anomalies that are worth considering to build your case. Local SEO is comprised of so many things – it’s important to have a deep understanding of every aspect of your client’s business and the ecosystem of the location they are in.

I’d love to hear any similar recovery stories that you may have done for your clients (or yourself). Please share them in the comments below..

How Phone Providers Influence Yellowpages Data in Canada

canadian phone providers influence yellowpages cover

There’s nothing worse than correcting your business information on a directory and waiting for it to update. It’s even more painful when you have to update even the most obvious mistakes like a spelling error in the Business Name or an Address that was mistakenly recorded. So yeah, I’m talking about Yellowpages here. But, with so much influence according to the Local Search Ecosystem in Canada, Yellowpages is not one that you can to ignore. Many small-medium directory sites grab Yellowpage’s data to populate their sites with the information at a “snapshot”, and often never gets updated again. Yikes! But there’s always a point of diminishing return when you’re building and cleaning up citations for your business. I won’t get into that in this post, but just know that you MUST get your Yellowpages data correct if you’re a Canadian business.

How do I update my information on Yellowpages?

Registered business phone number

If you attempt to submit changes through their Report an error link, good luck. Every time I’ve done that, a Yellowpages rep has come back saying that they can’t update the information because it’s supplied by a major phone provider.


yellowpages responds

Above, I was helping my uncle update his restaurant listing because the word “Resturant” was misspelled. Thanks Rogers for sending over the wrong spelling of the word “Resturant”.

So what are your options? There is only one – get in touch with your phone provider, the one that you use to register your business phone number with and inform them of a mistake in your Business Name, Address or Phone number. Typically, after they update this information on their end, Yellowpages takes roughly 2-4 weeks to update theirs. It’s worked every time, but it’s a waiting game, and let’s hope they get the information right the second time.

Non-registered business phone number

If you added your business to Yellowpages by filling out their free listing form, then you’re in luck. My past experience has been that if you’re using a cell phone or an alternative phone number for your business that is not registered as a “business number” through the providers, then you can submit changes to Yellowpages and they will update it for you. The timeframe is usually about the same, 2-4 weeks.

Closing thoughts

I could see why the process is the way it is, but I find it really frustrating that you have to jump through a hoop just to adjust something as small as a misspelling in a business name, which could make or break your citation profile online. If it was a misspelling in a common word like Resturant, is it necessary to go through the phone provider to correct this? If you’ve experience differently, please share it in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you. Happy updating!.

Google’s Daily Limit on Inviting Managers to a Google+ Page is 21

assigning managers to google my business max

In the ancient years of Google Places, we weren’t able to transfer business listings from one account to another easily. And, we weren’t able to assign additional people to a listing (i.e. managers, staff, etc). Now with Google My Business, we can assign managers and transfer full ownership of a listing from one account to another. Of course, if you want a listing to be fully transferred, you have to first assign the new account Manager access and wait 2 weeks before you can grant the full Owner access.

It’s not everyday that I work on migrating a large set of Google+ Pages from one account to another. But, in case you’re helping your client with that, just keep in mind that there is a daily maximum of 21 Google+ Pages that can be transferred, at least this is where Google stopped me from assigning a new Manager to listings.

add manager to google local max per day

I also noticed there is no mention of a maximum on Google’s support page so I’m just pointing it out here in case anyone is disappointed as I am that I have to go through this process of inviting the new account and accepting those invitations, one at a time. Doing it for 89 pages right now, and I’m about 23% through 🙂 Yay!.

How to Still Get 100K, 200K and 500K+ in Organic Reach on Facebook Today

grow organic reach facebook 600x315

Image source:

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but Facebook beat me to it after sharing some tips about their news feed algorithm change last month. Over the last year and a bit, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of highly engaged Facebook pages. At lot has changed since then, and we’ve been successful at adapting to these changes to keep our numbers high. The key is adapting – things can change quickly on Facebook and you adjust when the numbers tell you you should.

Back in February, I wrote a post on what really happened to Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm change, but I thought I’d dig into the data a bit more and prove what really is working. I analyzed a set of 500 posts, and more recently  duplicated that study with another set of 500 posts for the same page. The results were fairly consistent and we’ve been able to learn a lot from it.

But first, let’s breakdown what Facebook’s told us, because there’s a lot of cues in there that we’ve used, and predicted ahead of time that Facebook uses. I’eve highlighted the important points here in yellow. Be sure to read them over and over again before you leave here today.

One way is to look at how long people spend reading an article away from Facebook. If people click on an article and spend time reading it, it suggests they clicked through to something valuable. If they click through to a link and then come straight back to Facebook, it suggests that they didn’t find something that they wanted. With this update we will start taking into account whether people tend to spend time away from Facebook after clicking a link, or whether they tend to come straight back to News Feed when we rank stories with links in them.

Another factor we will use to try and show fewer of these types of stories is to look at the ratio of people clicking on the content compared to people discussing and sharing it with their friends. If a lot of people click on the link, but relatively few people click Like, or comment on the story when they return to Facebook, this also suggests that people didn’t click through to something that was valuable to them.

With this update, we will prioritize showing links in the link-format, and show fewer links shared in captions or status updates.

The best way to share a link after these updates will be to use the link format. In our studies, these posts have received twice as many clicks compared to links embedded in photo captions. In general, we recommend that you use the story type that best fits the message that you want to tell – whether that’s a status, photo, link or video.

What is this telling us?

  • Promote more content where users won’t bounce right away
  • Make sure the content you share on Facebook is also “shareable” because if it isn’t, we’re not going to extend your organic reach as far
  • Facebook’s Open Graph (OG) tags are mandatory on every article page of your website

I’m glad Facebook’s shared that with all of us, but let’s dive into the data and see it for ourselves (this is the funnest part for me!).

Looking at the data

I’ll point a few things out about this Page before we dive right in:

  • Demographic: mostly female aged 18-55
  • Fans: 4.5M
  • Average posts per day: 18
  • Post types: a mix of images and link posts
  • # posts analyzed: 1,000
  • Time period: within the last 2-3 months

After looking at 1,000 posts of data, this is what it’s told me:

  • Link format posts are more preferred
  • Link format posts that send visitors to a page where they spend more time on does drive up higher reach
  • Getting more comments on a post has a stronger tie to high reach, followed by shares then likes

Link format posts are more preferred

Since Facebook announced Open Graph (og), many publishers have gone and set up the og tags on their site. Facebook uses this information to display a snippet of the content from your website. Unlike Google, where they may or may not use your title tag and description, Facebook will use whatever you give them so there’s definitely a lot of control here.

With so much control, that creates a bit more work. The core og attributes you need to include for each of your pages are:

  • og:site_name
  • og:type
  • og:url
  • og:title
  • og:image
  • og:description

Visit Facebook’s best practices on implementing OG for more detailed instructions. I hope I didn’t miss anything. A lot of these, can be pulled and from different settings of your articles. For instance, the og:title could be the Heading of you article, while the description can be your page’s meta description. Of course, the most important attribute is probably the og:image. The og:image shows up in the news feed, occupying around 50% of the entire box. Yup. So you’re going to want to make sure have the right size image and it’s visually appealing to attract click throughs.

I ran some numbers, and Link posts generated 4.6X (study #1) and 4.4X (study #2) more than the old way of marketing content on Facebook, which was to upload an appealing image and adding a link to the update. Amazing!

The formula I used: Lifetime post organic reach / Total engagement (sum of comments, likes and shares)

*because I’m taking a total count of engagement (comments, shares and likes), this calculation is not weighted. For instance, we know that it takes more effort to comment than to Like. 

post reach links - study1

Study #1 – looking at the top 50 engaged posts, some of the ones on here shows very few engagements, yet received a really high reach

post reach links - study2

Study #2 – (same thing) looking at the top 50 engaged posts, some of the ones on here shows very few engagements, yet received a really high reach

Link format posts that send visitors to a page where they spend more time on does drive up higher reach

Many of the link posts that showed up in the top 50 spot were ones that we expected visitors would spend the most time on. For instance, on a few of our posts we shared an engaging video that they’re expected to spend at least 1-3 minutes on the site. We also have share buttons on our website, that enables them to share the video back on Facebook after they’ve watched it.

If you really need to bump up your organic reach, the best thing to do is to start brainstorming ideas that you can keep your visitors on your page long. A few ideas:

  • Embed videos into your posts; your blog post might be educational, but if you make a couple of quick videos like screen walk-through, then there’s a good chance they will watch it all the way down to the end of your post
  • Write longer posts; there’s no magic number, but if your posts are longer, it will prob take them longer to read it
  • Fill out a form or survey; if you can incorporate a form that they need to fill out that ties into the topic of your content, then do it

Getting more comments on a post has a stronger tie to high reach, followed by shares then likes

Why are comments strong than shares and likes? Because it requires more effect to put down thoughts than to click a button and turn to something else. That’s not to say that there is no value in Shares and Likes. This just means there is a stronger tie with higher comments and organic reach.

This table is from the first study I conducted a month ago. Notice that the x axis are rounding values. Each of these 500 posts were categorized and rounded to show average engagement against reach:
facebook organic reach sharing - study2

This table is the second study I conducted just a few days ago:

facebook organic reach sharing - study1

How can you get more comments? You ask for it. For instance, you may share status updates or images that would require a user to comment. These are usually in a form of a question. Here’s an example of a post we did that garnered over 100K comments, 6.9K shares and 27K likes 🙂

2.4m organic reach fb

Closing thoughts

By no means is this study conclusive, nor would it reflect every type of page on Facebook. This was a study done on one Page, using 2 different sets of post data. However, I do believe that many of the key findings from his study can be applied to maximize a Page’s organic reach, if done right. If you’ve invested the time to do a study like that one I’ve done here, I’d want to hear from you in the comments below. If you have any thoughts or comments, please also leave a note below..

Tracking Pop-Ups With Events in Google Analytics

popup tracking in google analyticsOne of the beautiful things about Google Analytics is that you can track just about anything on your website. Recently, we helped a blog implement some custom tracking for their pop-ups. I know what you’re thinking… why pop-ups!? Pop ups are evil! Yes, I know. But for their business , it makes sense and regardless how much I try to convince them that pop-ups are annoying, they’re still going to keep it on their blog.

So, the next question was; what do we want to track? There are four actions we want to know about:

  1. Loading ; how often did the pop-up load on the blog, in a particular period of time?
  2. Closing ; how many people closed the pop-up using the X in the upper right hand corner?
  3. Already a subscriber ; we placed a link below the CTA that says “I’m already a subscriber” to tell us never to show the pop-up to them again (cookie-based tracking)
  4. Sign-up ; how many sign-ups to the newsletter did we get from pop-ups?

In this example, we’re working with a blog that receives approximately 7M sessions a month. The next step would be to figure out how we’d want this data to show up in Google Analytics. Here’s how we did it (you’ll probably need a developer to help you with this, but here’s how you would structure your events):

ga(‘send’, ‘event’, ‘pop up’, ‘load’, ‘[current page url]’);
ga(‘send’, ‘event’, ‘pop up’, ‘close window’, ‘[current page url]’);
ga(‘send’, ‘event’, ‘pop up’, ‘already subscribed’, ‘[current page url]’);
ga(‘send’, ‘event’, ‘pop up’, ‘subscribe’, ‘[current page url]’);

So what are we looking at here? Firstly, we’re using event tracking under the new Universal Analytics commands. Our event breaks out into this:

category = pop up
action = load, close window, already subscribed, subscribe
label = the page where the action took place

After we implemented this on both the desktop and mobile version of the website, we used the Real-time report in Google Analytics to test and see how our data was coming in. Here’s a few things you can look at:

google analytics events pop up dashboard

You’ll want to drill in to your ‘pop up’ category so you only see the actions and labels for what we just implemented. After that, you’ll see the breakdown of your traffic by desktop, mobile and tablet users. There’s a lot of neat things you can do now in this report. If you’re interested in only seeing “already subscribed” actions, then you click on that and next to it are the pages where users clicked “already subscribed”.

google analytics pop up tracking already subscribed

Another thing you can do, is if you’re running a campaign for a page, click on the page url under Event Label and you’ll see the distribution of load, close, already subscribed and new subscribes.

google analytics events pop up single

Neat huh! At the end of the day, or the next day, you can go back into your Events report and pull all your pop up data and determine which pages drove more subscribes. Here’s how you report may look like:

google analytics pop up data

 Above, you’ll find a breakdown of all your Actions under the pop up Category.

google analytics pop up data label

Click on subscribe, and you’ll get all the pages where your new visitors subscribed via your pop up! Gold!

Finally, the last step you’d want to do after you’ve set up the technical part of tracking these actions is to set up a Goal in Google Analytics to measure conversions. Here, we’re most concerned about people subscribing, so in order to create a Goal in Google Analytics we would do the following:

pop up goal

Now you’re done!

What can you learn from all this data? Well, you can ask yourself these questions when looking at your data:

  • Which pages are driving the more subscribers?
  • Do some “types” of content drive more subscribers than others?
  • Is there related content I can publish and promote more of so I can get new visitors to my site and subscribing via my pop up?

If your site is like this one, where mobile traffic has already exceed desktop, perhaps you’ll want to drill in and see where mobile visitors are converting compared to desktop. I’ll let you dive into that one yourself 🙂

Closing Thoughts

There are endless possibilities with Google Analytics event tracking. Hopefully this post opened your eyes into new ideas on where you can include additional tracking around your website. If you’ve got any feedback on our approach, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

If you’re looking for some help to implement this type of custom tracking for pop-ups, connect with us and we’ll work with you to get it up!.

How to Tag Bing Ads Properly for Google Analytics

bing google analytics tracking

URL tagging is a fundamental part of web analytics because it allows us to better understand how visitors are interacting with our content. Whether you’re sending out an email blast, or you’re running an ad on Google AdWords/Facebook or Bing, if you’re not tagging your links, you’re likely losing out on a lot of information about your visitors.

Recently, I encountered an issue after doing a Google Analytics audit for a client. They were interested in tracking their Bing ads, and therefore wanted to pull as much data out of Bing’s ad platform as possible. They were already using tagged URLs in their ads, but unfortunately one of their variables weren’t configured properly, the utm_term variable. It was apparent that the issue was in how the client proceeded with tagging his URLs – using the Google URL Building tool.

To properly associate advertising traffic from Bing to Google Analytics, we need to configure at least 4 variables:

utm_source = bing
utm_medium = cpc
utm_campaign = name-of-campaign
utm_term = {keyword} or {QueryString}

{keyword} will give you which keyword you bidded on that resulted in a seassion, while {QueryString} will tell you exactly the keyword the user searched for and clicked on to get your website.

URL generated from URL builder:

Why is this wrong?

If all these variables are configured properly, the traffic data will flow into the Search > Paid section of your Google Analytics reports. If they are not, then you’ll need to give your tags another look…

bing paid search google analytics

Perhaps this is something to be fixed on Google Analytic’s end (substituting { with %7B)…

If you generate tagged URLs for your campaigns regularly, you’ll want a system that would prevent inconsistencies in your tagging approach. The best way to do that is to use a spreadsheet to track all your tagged links. One of my old colleagues, Eduardo, was the brains behind this one. If you want a spreadsheet in the cloud, check out his Google Analytics URL Tagging Spreadsheet.

But, if you want to keep your URL Tagging work local on your own machine, check out my Google Analytics URL Tagging Spreadsheet in MS Excel. I’ve added some nifty functionality in there to prevent inconsistent tagging and to speed up the process (copy and paste or simply drag down). I will write a follow up post detailing how to use the spreadsheet..

Why Every Local Business Need a Google Places Listing

google places listing

What is a Google Places Listing?

Google Places, Google+ Local, or simply Google Local, is a free listing offered by Google for small businesses. This listing allows businesses to market themselves online highlight the most important information about them; Business Name, Address and Phone Number, often referred to as a business’s NAP information. Over the years, the look and feel of Google’s business listings have changed. Today, these listings are much more social; added Google+ into the mix. That being said, a business without a listing on Google Places means your business will likely be hard to find on Google Maps.

How Do Businesses Get Added to Google Places or Google Maps?

It’s important you understand the process and how the local search ecosystem works. In the United States and Canada, large data providers like YellowPages, Acxiom and InfoGroup can add new businesses to Google Places. So if you’re a new business and you recently registered a business phone number with YellowPages, they may distribute your information to Google Places and add your business there. If your business listing was added, you can claim it and optimize your listing for better local search performance.

There is also a chance that your business listing was never created. In that case, you will need to create a listing yourself.

How Do You Sign-up For A Google Places Listing?

Again, Google Places is free! Simply ahead over to their Google Places for Business sign-up page and start the process there. Since you’re adding a new business to Google Places, they will likely send you a Postcard in the mail, which takes up to 2 weeks to arrive. DON’T THROW AWAY THAT POSTCARD! Make sure you, or the person checking the mail knows that a small Google Postcard like the one below is arriving.

Google Postcard

Once you get it. Enter the PIN Code that is inside the card in the Google Places Dashboard. This will verify your listing, and you may go ahead and fill out the rest of the information.

How Your Google Listing Will Work For You?

Consider your Google Places listing like your business card on the web. It can be accessed by anyone in your city, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Not only that, if you have a website and you’ve added it to your business listing, you can further optimize it to achieve higher organic rankings. Higher organic rankings means more eyeballs on your business, and a higher chance prospective customers will contact you over your competitor.

At SteerUp Marketing, we can help you claim your business listing and optimize it for local search so you’re showing up high in the results for your target keyword. Visit our local search optimization services page to learn more about how we can help.

Types of Google Places Listings

Not all small businesses are the same. Some are brick and mortar with a physical location, and others service customers at their location (these are called Service-Area Businesses or SABs for short). Google Places has their own ways of treating both types of businesses, and if you don’t have your Google Places set up properly, it can hurt your rankings.

Issues With Some Business Listings on Google Places

Perhaps you’re one of the unlucky folks who discovered that either there’s a duplicate listing or your listing information is incorrect and you can’t change it from your dashboard. Good news: Nothing’s impossible 🙂 Bad news: These problems are sometimes hard to answer in a single sentence without actually going in to look at the issue itself. There could be a number reasons that caused these issues. At SteerUp Marketing, we guarantee our clients that we will do everything in our power to resolve the issues that they see in your Google listing. Backed by our years of experience and network of Local SEOs, we can help you restore or correct your listing to the way it should be without you needing to worry about it. Contact us and tell us how we can help.

Closing Thoughts

It’s extremely important, if you haven’t already, to create your business listing on Google Places and claim it. After verifying your ownership of the listing on Google Places, you now have full control over the content on that listing. This creates a huge advantage over your competitors who may not have claimed theirs. So what are you waiting for?

Of course, if you require help creating, claiming or optimizing your listing for local search, we’re here to help!.

Welcome to the SteerUp Blog!

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by. My name is Jackson, founder of SteerUp. Unfortunately, we don’t have any content in our blog just yet. But, in the not so distant future, we will be loading it up with tons of great stuff that will help your business grow online. Be sure to subscribe to our blog, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook for the latest scoop in the digital marketing world..