Best Mike Blumenthal Blog Posts (So Far): a Poll of Longtime Fans

http://www.flickr.com/photos/smallbusinesssem/5485107542/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/smallbusinesssem/5485107542/

Mike Blumenthal needs no introduction to anyone who pays close attention to Google Places and the rest of the crazy world of local search.

If you’re reading this, either you’re already a fan of Professor Maps (as he’s known) and his blog, or you’re becoming one.

I’ve read his posts throughout my local-search career so far.  I’m not alone when I say they’ve been a huge influence on my thinking, to say the least.

The only trouble is: of the 2400+ posts Mike has done so far, it’s hard to know where to start, or which posts are the most evergreen.

That’s why I asked some of the longest-time / hardest-core readers of Mike’s blog what their all-time favorite posts are.  They also added some great commentary.

Even this list of favorites probably has the shelf life of sushi, given how much Mike publishes (see the July 2014 storm of posts). But it’s still worth a try.

Here are the top picks of some long-time readers:

 

Miriam Ellis

 

1) In the Trenches: The Reality of Smb Marketing – Bruce’s Sew Handy Interview

This is an oldie from 2008. I’ve always remembered this post for the picture it painted of how marketing looks and feels to a small business owner. The story told in this interview should help any marketer to act with empathy and great respect when supporting hard-working SMBs. I admire Mike’s ability to surface interesting man-on-the-street stories like this one.

2) What Should You Tell a Client When Google Loses Their Reviews – a 4 Part Plan

Remember the great Google review loss fiasco of 2012? Mike not only wrote great posts like the above helping marketers to support clients who had lost reviews, but he also came up with the idea of consolidating as many complaints as possible onto a Google And Your Business Forum help thread. I would bet I’m not alone in saying that Mike’s work has made me feel less alone during many Local crises!

3) What Does My Business Tell Us about the Future of Google Plus?

Years of experience in Local and Mike’s one-of-a-kind insight are beautifully showcased in this piece. This is what we’ve all come to rely on Mike for, over the years. Just fantastic! Hats off to you, Mike – it’s been a privilege learning from you for the better part of a decade!

 

David Mihm

 

No one, and I mean no one, has chronicled the evolution of Google’s local and mapping products more closely than Mike Blumenthal.  The man probably knows more about legacy systems and rationale for why things are built the way they are than all but a few product managers at Google.

Small business owners and the search community — possibly even the world of local searchers — owe Mike a debt of gratitude for helping make local search at Google what it is today.  He has been a positive thorn in Mountain View’s side, exhorting Google to improve their products to a level where they are actually usable by small business owners and searchers — a task that continues even today in the aftermath of the “crappy” Pigeon update.

The fact that business owners finally have a usable interface from which to manage their listings, the option of phone support, and countless other amenities is due in no small part to Mike’s direct and indirect feedback to Google (and the tireless efforts of internal SMB advocates like Joel Headley and Jade Wang).

I’m proud to call Mike a friend for almost seven years (!) since first discovering his blog.

Here are some of my favorite Blumenthal articles:

Yelp: Real People. Real Reviews. Deceptive Sales Tactics.

29prime – Would You Buy A Used Car from These Guys Let Alone SEO?

Google Local: Train Wreck at the Junction

Which Review Sites Should You Use?

10 Likely Ranking Factors of Google’s Local Search Algorithm

Ranking Factors in Google Maps – Cracking The Code SMX Local

 

Dave Oremland

(aka Earlpearl)

 

Favorites:

1.  Early articles about the Google local patent.  Bill Slawski might have initially written about them but Mike studied them and drilled down into them with greater degree and specificity.

My experience is that in the early years after a new patent one often sees the most dramatic impact of those patents.  Before Google makes algo changes.   They are crucial to follow.  Mike has done a great job on those issues.

2.  The annual Loci articles.   Very thoughtful pieces from guest authors.  A worthwhile element of his blog.

3.  In a general context Mike jumped on the review issues early on.  He’s covered it and dissected it with clarity.   Of the many many articles referencing reviews the one that stuck with me were the two articles about the dentist in Washington State.   Those stories added an astonishing human element to the overall review saga, in particular, if one believes the dentist’s side of the story it revealed a “fatal attraction” kind of element to reviews. Really amazing human drama connected to the business function of trying to respond to reviews.  That was fascinating.

 

Nyagoslav Zhekov

 

Chances are I have missed A LOT of extremely important posts, but I tried very hard to keep the number under 20

What Is Location Prominence?

Principles for a Review Plan: Considerations in Encouraging Customer Reviews

Google Places and Their New Rejection Algo – It Is Like 7th Grade All over Again!

Graphic: How an SMB Solves a Problem in Google Places

Review Management: 7 Tips on Avoiding Bad Reviews

An Imagined Conversation with Google about Reviews, 29Prime & Sock Puppets

The Untold Story of 2011: Google’s Significant Investments in a Google Places Support Structure

Will Citations Stop Being Effective for Local Optimization in the Future?

9 Questions to Assess Your Review Management Stress Levels

Google Local: Train Wreck at the Junction

What Makes for a Good Author Photo in the Local Results? (Part 1)

What Makes for a Good Author Photo in the Local Results? (Part 2)

Video Snippets vs. Author Images – Which Have Higher Click Through Rates?

10 Reasons That the Google Knowledge Graph Sucks More Than the Local Graph

Yahoo and the “Everybody But Google” Realities of Local Search

Mike Blumenthal is rightfully the top authority in local search in the last 5+ years. His infinite energy and will to look for answers, to share thoughts, to inform the community, and to urge development where improvement is needed are hardly matched by anyone in the Internet marketing world. Mike’s articles on local search, Google Maps, Google Places, review strategies, small business marketing, and Google-related issues have been the first ones I started reading while I was still “learning how to walk” in the industry. As I joined the game a little later (early 2011), the majority of my favorite articles of Mike are naturally from the period after that.

Mike’s articles are both informational and raising questions and topics for discussion. His word is so influential that he has frequently provoked revisions of strategies in the SEO world, as well as urgent processual or technical changes within companies such as Google, for instance. I believe our industry is happy to have him, and I hope he will stick around for many more years.

 

Andrew Shotland

 

I have to start with one of Mike’s very first posts - The Basics of Listings Success. As he put it back then:

“Unlike optimization for organic search, optimization for local search at the major engines is in a much less developed state. It seems to have many fewer people poking, prodding and testing the hypothesis of local search and coming up with a definitive set of best practices. This is list is an attempt to create that model that we can all test. Have a go and let me know.”

Every couple of years a new wild west emerges via the Web. This post documents a time when Local still had room in it for wide-eyed optimism and Mike’s eyes proved to be both the widest and the narrowest at the same time. Getting a bit misty…

Of course I loved when he first started acknowledging how screwed up this Local stuff was for small businesses, in his own inimitable style. From the classic “Local Data Accuracy – a Veritable Beehive“:

“The group is a regular beehive of activity with a surprising amount of input from small business owners. But it is a beehive in which the keeper just stuck his hand into the hive and stirred things up by sticking the bees in the wrong place and the bees are mad!”

I think Mike’s post about the difference between ValPak’s coupons and everyone else’s in Google Maps was when I first started to be in awe of Mike’s obsession with the minutiae of Local. I mean who else was writing about the pixel size of fucking coupons at that point?

If I had to pick a favorite, it probably has to be Google Local: Train Wreck at the Junction. Mike seems to be pretty tight with the Google Local team, or at least as tight as they can be with anybody. And still Mike cannot stop speaking truth to power as it were. While there have been plenty of SEO bloggers bitching and moaning about Google Local’s shortcomings, this post solidified his rep as perhaps its finest critic.

And of course any post mentioning Barbara Oliver, one of Buffalo’s finest jewelers, is always a winner.

 

Me

 

This is too tough.  But I’ll channel my inner monk-like ascetic powers and name only 7 posts (in no particular order):

Principles for a Review Plan: Considerations in Encouraging Customer Reviews

Infographic: Citations – Time to Live – a joint research project / post with Mr. David Mihm

Asking For Reviews (Post Google Apocalypse)

Which Review Sites Should You Use?

What Does My Business Tell Us about the Future of Google Plus?

Yext & Local SEO

What Does a Link Campaign Look Like for Local?

 

To sum up all thoughts on Mike’s posts:


What are your favorites so far?

Leave a comment!

Print Friendly

Hear Me Blab about Categories for Local SEO

Mike Zaremba of Radical Mustache has started a great podcast series on local SEO.

It has a bent toward restaurants, because many of his clients and audience are restaurateurs.  But the subject matter applies to any kind of business.

The other day, Mike asked me some tough questions on the topic of categories.  You can listen to the podcast here:

A Guide To Proper Category Association With Phil Rozek

You’ll also find some non-audio resources.

Thanks to Mike for a great chat.  By the way, I suggest you check out his blog.

Especially if you listen to all 45 minutes, let me know what you think!

Print Friendly

Google Places Support Claims Descriptions Help Rankings?

Google has always kept their cards close to the vest regarding local ranking factors.  They never get into specifics. Also, I’m not alone when I say that the “description” or “introduction” field of your Places page doesn’t seem to influence your rankings for the better (although extreme keyword-stuffing can get you penalized). It’s for those […]

Print Friendly
[Continue reading…]

Crackdown on Service-Area Businesses: the Untold Story of Google’s Local “Pigeon” Update?

Since the “Pigeon” algorithm update last week, we’ve seen a decline in Google Places 7-pack results, plus local rankings reshuffled at least a little bit in most markets. Has all that commotion covered up a crackdown by Google on service-area businesses (businesses, like contractors, that travel to customers rather than the other way around)? I’m […]

Print Friendly
[Continue reading…]

Local Business Schema.org Q&A: Tough Questions for David Deering

If you’ve wrestled with local SEO for more than a few days, you probably know what Schema.org markup is.  (And if you don’t, read this and this and loop back here.) You probably have questions about how to use Schema on your site.  Me too.  That’s why I’ve turned again to structured-data ace David Deering of […]

Print Friendly
[Continue reading…]

Real Names Not Needed for Google+ Reviews: Smart or Stupid Move?

  Google no longer requires reviewers to use their real names when reviewing businesses on Google+. This is a complete turnaround of the policy Google has had for the last few years.  It’s the latest step in Google’s long push to get more Plus users, mostly for data-mining purposes. As you can tell from the […]

Print Friendly
[Continue reading…]

Low-Tech Local SEO Fix-ups for Your Site

You can’t make big or technical changes to your site, for whatever reason.  (Maybe you just aren’t sure how.)  Your options may be limited, but you still want to start ranking in Google Places and elsewhere. Maybe your webmaster pulled a Houdini on you.  Or selfishly went belly-up at just the wrong time (before you’re […]

Print Friendly
[Continue reading…]

How to Pick (or Improvise) the Right Schema.org Markup for Your Local Business

This one’s going to take a little ramp-up.  Hang with me. What’s Schema? Schema.org is a type of markup for your site that Google, Bing, and Yahoo promote. The idea is it helps you tell search engines exactly what a specific piece of content on your site is.  For example, you’d use different Schema if you want […]

Print Friendly
[Continue reading…]

The Dark Side of Local SEO

Visibility in the local rankings is a good thing.  If I didn’t think so, I’d do something else for a living.  And if you didn’t think so, you wouldn’t be reading this But even high rankings in Google Places and beyond can create side-effects you didn’t expect. Most business owners won’t experience that mostly-good problem.  […]

Print Friendly
[Continue reading…]

Local Citation Cleanup Hack: Check BBB

This is one of the few posts I’ve done that’s probably more applicable if you’re a local SEO geek than if you’re a business owner.  But I hope it’s useful in either case. As you probably know, having inconsistent NAP info floating around the Web can hurt your rankings (a lot).  You’ll need to correct […]

Print Friendly
[Continue reading…]