Inside the Igloo

Go Vote America!

go vote america

Put down the mouse, put away the cell phone, free your mind of work, step out of the office and vote today, America. Walk down your American street beneath the bright fall trees and exercise your right to have a say in history. People have fought and died on American soil for that right. Don’t let today pass you by without participating in democracy.

It so easy, in America, to be jaded, to be bitter, to feel that things are lousy. Yet, we enjoy freedoms and rights here that people in too many other lands can only dream of. Your vote is the best protection of that freedom – don’t let anybody take it away from you, and don’t let cultural gloom talk you into skipping your trip to your local polling place today.

Working as I do in Local SEO, I talk to people from coast to coast. Each person I talk to is different; different accent, different business, different values, different goals in life. All of these different people make up this thing called America, and only when each and every voices intones up do we hear the true tune. Whether you love everything about America or see it as a land of major problems, don’t let your voice go unheard on November 6, 2012. Today is the day to stand up and speak up! Your vote counts.

Honored To Become A Mod At Linda Buquet’s Local Search Forum!

Today, I’m so proud and happy to announce joining the staff at Linda Buquet’s Local Search Forum as their first-ever moderator! If you run a local business or are a Local SEO and you’ve not yet heard of this awesome, targeted forum, please come by. Topics that are really important to you are being discussed there daily, and given that Linda is a Google Place Help Forum Top Contributor, you can count on a level of conversation and advice that is second to none in the Local sphere!

In addition to working as a community associate in the SEOmoz Q&A forum, I’ve been a moderator at Cre8asite since 2008. A discussion I’ve seen come up time and again in the SEO world is whether forums are still valuable to people. Believe me, they definitely are, and while those newer sound-byte, quickie Social Media platforms like Twitter serve a definite purpose, they cannot replace the depth of communication you will find in a top tier forum.

What I’ve learned from my work in fora is that really good ones have these elements:

– They cover topics that directly affect the concerns and goals of business owners.
– They are peopled by friendly, sharing contributors – not ego-driven know-it-alls.
– They are equally welcoming to novices and pros, addressing all questions with thought and care.
– They build a community where you like and learn from great people and you feel really comfortable there.

Linda Buquet’s Local Search Forum meets all these criteria, providing a wonderful environment for all of us in Local to share our challenges and successes. It is truly an honor to join the staff, and I sincerely hope to add to the friendly atmosphere and knowledge bank at the Local Search Forum. This will be fun!

Google Map Outdated And Wrong – Documenting The Reporting Process

One of our valued clients, Emerson Creek Pottery is experiencing a serious issue with the way in which Google has mapped their locale and pinned their location.

The client’s correct location is at:

Emerson Creek Pottery
1068 Pottery Lane
Bedford, VA

The Google Place Page for the client is listing them at an erroneous address on the nearby highway, but instead of going through the normal process of correcting the address, we are dealing with a far more complex issue because the map and labeling of the area is wrong. A private driveway is incorrectly labeled as being Pottery Ln., and the actual Pottery Ln. is being mislabeled as both Pecks Rd. and State Route 725. Roads that dead end at the private driveway are being displayed on the map as if they were accessible to the public. A whole lot of problems. See my illustration here and click for an enlarged lightbox:

Map for Emerson Creek Pottery

Click Here to View Larger Image

I needed advice on how to proceed, as I cannot change the address or move the pin until the roads are correctly displayed on the map. Google TC and Local SEO extraordinare, Mike Blumenthal kindly suggested that I make multiple reports via the Google ‘Report A Problem’ link at the bottom of the Place Page, dropping a pin at each point of error. These reports will then apparently flow into Google MapMaker. This will certainly be time consuming on my part, but definitely worth it if I can communicate to Google that their map is wrong and get it corrected. I felt it would be worth it to document the process here for others who find themselves in a similar situation.

After speaking with the client about this, we were able to discern that the incorrect map probably has its roots in the fact that this region used to be dirt roads that were then paved and changed some 5+ years ago. Google’s map is somewhat of a reflection of the old dirt road system and does not accurately reflect the roads drivers will find there if they are visiting the pottery today.

I will update this blog post as I make progress.

Update 4/19/2012
Made three separate reports regarding the various issues, doing my best to describe the problems with the map and address.

Update 4/23/2012
Made a new report highlighting the fact that Google is incorrectly displaying a pinned results next to a business name search in the main engine. Google is confusing a restaurant in Illinois that sells some of this client’s pottery with their actual pottery shop in Bedford, VA. Misleading to Internet searchers. *Note, some problems are so complex and Google wants you to state them in 1000 characters. Difficult to do.

Update 4/30/2012
Client received several emails like this from Google:

Hi Jim Leavitt,

Thanks again for sharing your local expertise with other Google users! We have reviewed Emerson Creek Pottery because of your report.

If there is still anything wrong in our information about Emerson Creek
Pottery on Google Maps
(, please consider updating it directly via the “edit” link, or reporting another problem.

Thanks for your help
The Google Maps team

Nothing has been fixed by Google, so we’re not any further along in the process after taking the time to report all of these things. I have to consider what steps to take next.


If Our Blog Looks Wonky…

Greetings Visitors!

If the blog looks a little strange right now, it’s because we’ve just completely redesigned our website and are now working to bring the blog into the new design. Pardon our dust. Thanks!

My Second Article About Best Buy In 3 Years

Do you remember these guys? The guys who ran your town’s computer store in 1980?

computer guys from the old days

The above graphic is pulled from my original post on this topic: Best Buy Brings On Crashing Wave Of Nostalgia. In that piece, I compared my fondly-remembered formative experiences in the computer stores of three decades ago to the headache of shopping in the 21st century at the box store that came to replace all those neat small businesses.

Why am I writing about Best Buy again? Because Larry Downes has just published a really worthy article at Forbes entitled: Why Best Buy Is Going Out Of Business…Gradually. If you are a business owner on a scale from one-man-shop to corporate enterprise, please take a few minutes to read Downes’ piece. And please pay special attention to the author’s remarks regarding Best Buy’s most obvious failings:

Their “people” are not knowledgeable; they are annoying. The store “format” is entirely generic; perhaps a little confusing. The stores and Websites are not “preferred destinations”—they are destinations, at best, of inertia, or in the case of exclusives, destinations of the only resort. The “shopping environment” is the opposite of fun and informative. It’s depressing and humiliating, as in “I can’t believe I had to go to Best Buy to get this.”

Hear, hear, Mr. Downes! I salute your astute appraisal of the very qualities that have made shopping at Best Buy so unsatisfactory for so many people for so many years.

How you treat your customers is critical. Yet, the sad truth is that you can abuse your customers and succeed financially for a long time in America. After all, being wonderful to customers did not keep all of the little computer stores in business once the Best Buys and Circuit Cities came rolling along. But perhaps there is some type of long-range karma involved. Circuit City is gone, and if Larry Downes’ predictions come true, Best Buy will eventually disappear, leaving empty, hulking blue-and-purple hulls across the land where once a fortune was being made, for a little while.

We live in a service economy. Best Buy has never gotten this right. I’m not one to kick a man when he’s down, and I certainly sicken at the thought of further lost businesses and lost jobs in our present crazy economy. But moments like these should elicit introspection.

As the business owner – are you willing to put customer service first? As the consumer – have you learned a lesson yet? Do you miss the little shops yet, with their personal stake in good customer service and their personal accountability? Would you be more loyal, this time around, if – after the hypothetical closing of a store like Best Buy – the new only game in town was being run by a couple of old computer programmers with quirky manners and a world of real knowledge to share with you to make your interactions with electronics less problematic and more fulfilling? And when the next box store came to town, 5 years in the future, would you stay loyal to the superior experience or repeat the same mistake all over again?

Something to think about.

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