As local marketers, most of us know how to set up a Google Places for Business account or create a Facebook Page. But, these are not the only accounts you should be creating in order to get the full benefit of your local SEO campaign. Below are five trusted accounts every local SEO should have in their toolkit.
1. Google Map Maker
Google Map Maker (GMM) is a way for people to add updates and corrections to Google Maps. If you find a road on Google Maps leads you straight into a brick wall, you can correct that via Map Maker.
There are a variety of reasons for a business or its agent to use Map Maker. One would be, of course, to put your business in the correct place on Google Maps. Another is to associate a business with the building it is in. Perhaps the most important is to review the history of the particular business in Google Maps to see if it has been hijacked.
If you are doing a local SEO campaign for a business, it would probably be a good idea to check the business’ status in Map Maker. But a lot of people don’t have much experience with it, so there is a big demand for people with “trusted” Map Maker accounts.
That said, according to one GMM expert (via email), “under the current moderation scheme, new accounts have a higher trust level than accounts that have been around for a while. Spammers are exploiting this loophole (which may be a bug in the moderation algo or deliberate on GMM’s part to encourage first time mappers to add content) to auto-publish their edits without moderation, by creating new accounts and publishing a handful of edits.”
For more detail on how Map Maker works for businesses see Phil Rozek’s excellent post on Google MapMaker 101 for Business.
2. Google Regional Expert Reviewers
Two years ago, Google launched its Regional Expert Reviewer program (“RER”) to encourage power reviewers to keep adding more reviews to G+ Local. An RER has more authority than the normal user to approve edits of business info and reviews in Google+ Local. Although you shouldn’t be running sock puppet accounts (and risk losing your badge if you’re caught), you could conceivably approve your own edits.
RER is an invitation-only program, so your edit and review count has to be pretty high, or Google has to be pretty desperate to get reviews in your area to add you to the program.
Being an RER gives you some privilege in that you get access to a members-only forum and a higher level of support (Google might actually reply to your emails) similar to how Trusted Contributors operate on other forums. Your trust can be affected by multiple factors, such as the number of denials of your edits, negative notes, “Accepted” rather than “Approvals” of your edits, even, perhaps, how many times you get reported by spammers.
Your best bet to get an invite to this program is to write a ton of great real reviews, particularly in areas/industries that are light on reviews. So start patronizing your local plastic extrusion blow molding plants.
Perhaps the best RER strategy is to know who they are so you can try to get them to review your client’s business. You can recognize an RER by the green “R” next to his or her user name.
(Editor’s note: Google today announced it’s aggregating reviews for verified businesses in the Google Places for Businesses interface, so companies can view and even respond to reviews and ratings.)
OpenStreetMap is kind of like the Wikipedia version of Google Maps. It’s a mapping system that anyone can edit. Many services use Open Street Map data, including Apple Maps, because it’s free.
But because it’s “open,” it’s also prone to getting spammed. So you should definitely be aware of the state of your business’ data on OSM. While it’s easy for anyone to make an edit, having a history of accepted edits is probably the best way to make your edits stick.
Having an account with a lot of history editing Wikipedia pages can come in handy when you have a client that has a reputation management issue, particularly on their Wikipedia page.
Even more important than having a trusted account, is having the experience to navigate the nuances of the Wikipedia guidelines. I have seen so many edits get trashed because the user did not understand what Wikipedia editors consider an acceptable edit.
In the case where there is something nasty on a client’s Wikipedia page, if it’s legitimate nastiness, you probably can’t get it removed. But you can add relevant positive “notable” items to the page that can drown out the bad stuff.
5. Facebook Places Editor
Last year, Facebook enabled users to make edits to Facebook Places data. Facebook has rapidly become one of the top local search sites, so being able to control data within its system could be helpful to getting your business more visibility.
While anyone can make an edit in Facebook, according to my sources if you make 100 edits and 95% of them get approved, then you are able to edit directly to Facebook Places without approvals. All it takes is a weekend of fixing those pesky data issues and you should be approved in no time.
I expect over the next year, there will be a few new services to add to this list — Pinterest just launched a local mapping feature, etc. — so make sure your team stays up to date on the latest developments. These trusted accounts can come in handy.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.