Wednesday 23 Sep 2009
Bad Apples! Anyone who follows Local Search news knows how they’ve spoiled Google’s barrel when it comes to locksmith listings. No one has done a more expert job of covering this topic than Mike Blumenthal of locksmith whistle blowing fame. The shenanigans going on in a typical search for Locksmith San Diego CA have brought us not only this, with 117 co-opted restaurant reviews fueling the top listing:
….but also this, with some pretty ugly accusations of illegal business practices cluttering up the user reviews portions of the results:
The last time I looked, legitimate locksmiths weren’t hand-making tortillas in their windows and quality search results were not delivered by heaping on extra toppings of indictments of fraud, but hey, that’s Google’s headache, not mine.
And that’s what I had to tell totally, utterly, absolutely, unquestionably legitimate locksmith, Glenn Younger, when he called me up several months ago to discuss a redesign of his website. Since 1914, Grah Safe And Lock have been Good Apples to their neighbors. This is an authentic and trustworthy local security specialist and locksmith company that has helped thousands and thousands of residents and business owners to be safer over the past century – not some fly-by-night entity with phony Google Maps rankings on the brain. But, as Glenn and I discussed within seconds of my answering his call, Google has yet to learn to tell the difference and because of this, we were going to have to act as though Google didn’t exist if we were to approach this contract with sanity and purpose.
I actually suggested he get in touch with Mr. Blumenthal if he was interested in more insight into the Google locksmith spam scandal, and Glenn was not only already very hip to Mike’s blog but he was, in fact, spearheading efforts to bring legal attention to the locksmith spam problem. Being at ground zero with the issue, Glen knew more about the locksmith fiasco than I did and I was very impressed with his patience, his knowledge and his commitment to an eventual solution. Glenn had done some assessment of this situation that is so negatively impacting his industry and reported,
“In California we have just documented over 60,000 fraudulent locksmith listings in Google alone.”
Bottom line…we couldn’t take on this project with our normal goals of achieving high Maps rankings for this local business and we were going to have to follow Google’s own good advice of doing things for humans instead of for search engines. Our aim was to improve the design, usability and content of GrahSecurity.com so that users arriving at the website, from whatever source, would be welcomed, educated and assisted in finding the services they need. These were excellent goals that we could accomplish for Glenn and his team.
One of the key purposes of any website is to establish a feeling of trust between the site user and the company being presented. This is especially critical when the services being offered hinge on something as sensitive as home or business security. In addition to creating a simple and professional new visual design for the whole site, one of our main objectives was to establish a very personable About Page for this company. I wanted a photo of Glenn Younger there – and doesn’t he radiate solidity, honesty and helpfulness? I wanted to get the company’s YouTube videos onto this page to show that they have been featured in local news reports. I wanted to include information about their century of serving the local community and I wanted to give users multiple options for keeping up to date on this business as well as reviewing them. We’ve got links pointing to everything from Kudzu to Yelp to Twitter and I feel that this level of interactivity suggests legitimacy, accountability and a very real presence in San Diego.
Of similar importance to us was the handling of the services and equipment Grah Safe And Lock offers. Their original website had all of this information listed on a single page, but we saw a great opportunity to break this content out into multiple unique pages that would give the locksmiths the room they needed to more fully explain what each of these items are. This is a chance for Grah to educate their users and demonstrate experience and knowledge. At the same time, this multi-page approach will help the website stand a better chance of winning organic rankings for exact match and long tail phrases.
A third task was to create an on-site blog for Grah Safe and Lock so that they will have the ability to share safety tips and local security news with their community. We’re really looking forward to seeing the locksmiths use this blog to good purpose.
Finally, we spent some time creating a few new profiles for this business in indexes other than Google’s and that should continue to strengthen Grah’s presence on the web.
Signs Of Effort People Can Trust
Fraudulent schemers are unlikely to invest the kind of care, time and effort that has gone into creating this new site for Grah Safe And Lock. Spammy tactics may be winning bad apples high Maps rankings right now, but we believe that a website like this one has its feet firmly planted for present and future success.
The state of spam in industries like Glenn Younger’s remains a tremendous discredit to Google’s good name, but forward-thinking business owners in similarly troubled verticals will not let that stop them. They will continue to move forward, looking for ever better ways to connect with their users and serve them well. As one of the largest, – and certainly the oldest – locksmith companies in San Diego, Grah Safe & Lock deserves to be at the top of the 10-Pack if Google wants to deliver relevance based upon performance and trustworthiness. But as things are, Google’s Maps results for locksmiths simply can’t be seen as relevant.
Until they work these problems out, there are many other ways to pursue visibility, and I can only hope that if you ever lose your keys in San Diego, you’ll skip over the 10-pack and make it to a website like Glenn Younger’s where you can be confident that you’ll be doing business with a licensed, local professional, not some scammer whose only merit is that they’ve pulled the wool over Google’s algorithmic eyes.
This project was a pleasure from start to finish and we are very proud to be including this ethical, smart and friendly locksmith company in our portfolio.
What This Great Client Had To Say About The Project:
“My expectations of what a web design firm can do for a company have been forever altered after working with Miriam and Liam at Solas Web Design. My industry has many challenges, and so hopes were not high, but after working with real professionals who focused on what IS possible, we are very pleased with the results. Working around the challenges, coming up with creative solutions and using best in class and state of the art web design principles, Solas gave us much more than expected. If you are in a situation where you would like to stand out as an exceptional company, Solas Web Design should be your first call.”