Did you know that PICS International was the first Indiana company to offer local Google+ local map optimization (aka “Google Maps”, “Google Places”)?  It’s true. Back in 2008, our company founder Dave Philpott found out about the tremendous lead and sales power of “Google+ local SEO” by attending a weekly meeting with many of his local SEO customers.  Dave would open, validate, and optimize their business G+ listings and then hear how many phone calls, web leads, and sales these company got.  The numbers were incredible.  Dave wanted to open and optimize their company Google maps listing because that task (back then) was something he felt they would never do themselves (it would be an understatement to say they didn’t really get the importance of it then).  However, their weekly (and sometimes daily) feedback proved incredibly valuable to Mr. Philpott who understood, before his competition, the lead and sales power of this new “Google local maps” phenomena.  Prior to “Google local maps” customers either appeared in Ads at the top of Google search results, or further down the page in the “organic” search results.  The new “Google Maps” proved to be a popular search area within Google.  Those who combined a properly setup G+ page, along with a number of good reviews, enjoyed years of good leads and sales coming directly from their Google listing.  Most web marketers who specialized in “organic SEO” had no idea of the power of the new local Google maps.  That is unless they met with their customers each week – just like Mr. Philpott did.  Normally, web marketers do not meet regularly with their customers.  So it would take a while before the “secret of local SEO” got out.

Fast forward to 2015 where it is no longer an insider secret just how valuable a properly optimized Google+ (Google maps”) listing is.  In fact, all SEO experts recognize this and recommend that a company do what they can to appear as high in the search results, with the most positive reviews as possible.  In the past few years, almost every SEO company now offers “Local SEO” and acts as experts on this skill.  The problem is that they apply old (2 or more years) methods which no longer work today.  It is in this writers opinion that companies like YP.com and others are coming late to the party when it comes to Local SEO/Google Plus.  They now offer optimization services but the quality of this work is poor.  Often Local SEO efforts on Google + are “bundled” with other marketing services, which – again in the opinion of this writer – are overpriced, and the services (including PPC) are poorly performed.  To get a company “on the maps” it takes more than a bundled effort.  The results of poor quality G+ local map optimization is not appearing in search as good as you could have if you hired real G+ experts.  When you don’t appear on the maps where you should – you get less leads, and less sales.  Worse, this writer has seen other companies recommend different phone numbers (which they wish to use for tracking calls) but destroy the delicate “Name, Address, Phone” or “NAP” relationship that Google relies on greatly to verify the legitimacy of a company, and how they decide to rank them.

In summary, Local SEO is now a full blown industry and every single SEO expert or “pseudo” expert is now hip to the game.  The game involves an ignorant customer who has heard of Google and wants the benefits of appearing on Google – and is willing to pay an “expert” to help him get there.  The problem is that companies then are taken advantage of. Their ignorance is not much different than the stories of an ignorant automobile owner at the mercy of an unscrupulous mechanic.  Perhaps the best advice is to ignore the over-the-top promises common to many fly-by-night Local SEO operators.  If someone promises you “you’ll be on the map” they are probably lying.  It’s been years since Google has hardened the local algorithm making it as difficult as “old school” SEO and as mysterious.  We here at PICS pride ourselves on being straight shooters.  We don’t promise you’ll be on the map. We only promise we will do what our years of experience have taught us is the best way and we wait together.  If you’re patient and will help us with things that we can’t do ourselves (get a few reviews every quarter or so, help us clean up your data scattered around the internet) – we can get to where you want to be.  The power of “high visibility and “high reputation” is as strong a lead and sales generator as it every was since the maps first came out in 2008.

And the gold will go to the company who hires the right Google + local map experts.