Great Book: “Five Stars: Putting Online Reviews to Work for Your Business”

If you give a hoot about your business’s online reviews, you’ll want to pick up a copy of a great book that just came out today.  As the name suggests, Five Stars is all about reviews – particularly “local” reviews (Google+, Yelp, etc.).

Five Stars was written by Gradiva Couzin and Jennifer Grappone – the two super-sharp gals who wrote SEO: An Hour a Day.  They’re well-known SEOs and experienced marketers…and easy-to-follow writers.

It’s published by Wiley/Sybex – the same crew that brought you heavyweights like Avinash Kaushik’s books on Google Analytics and Brad Geddes’s Advanced Google AdWords.  Like those, Five Stars is a definitive field guide.

I can say from first-hand experience that Gradiva and Jen nailed the approach you need to take if you want more and better reviews: I was the technical editor for the book.  You might find a Phil fingerprint or two.

If you want actionable, doable suggestions for how to get more and better reviews, local visibility, and customers, this is the best few bucks you’ll invest all year:

Do let me know how you like Five Stars (and how you like your reviews).

By the way, feel free to ask me any questions you might have, or to offer a suggestion on the book.  Just leave a comment!

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2nd Edition of Free 7-Step Guide to Local Search Visibility

About time, huh?

For roughly the past 18 months I’ve wanted to write a 2nd edition of my free guide.  Like everything else on this site, the guide is meant to be a resource for business owners with a DIY streak who want to get more visible to customers in the local search results.

I’m proud of the old one, and it helped many business owners.  Reading over it recently, I was surprised at how many of the basic principles still hold water.

It’s just that 2 1/2 years is a while.  Especially because any info about Google and the rest of “local” doesn’t exactly have the shelf life of a Slim Jim.

Anyway, after way too long – and enough typing to make my local chapter of the Typing Fingers Union go on a violent strike – the 2nd edition is done.

You can get the guide right now:

(I only ask for you to double-opt-in by email because I want to make sure you’re a real person, and because if you like the guide you’ll also like the free info I’ll send you in an occasional email.)

I’d love your feedback on it.


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New Tool for Customer Reviews: Whitespark’s Review Handout Generator

A new contraption for getting customer reviewsAbout a year ago, Darren Shaw of and I had an idea:

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a free and easy way to make a single page of instructions that walks your customers through how to post a review on your Google+Local page?

Darren had created the superb Local Citation Finder.  He was the “local SEO tools guy.”

I had already created simple, easy-to-follow Google+Local review “handouts” for my clients and other business owners.  I was the “reviews guy.”

Darren had bought my Google review handout for a client and really liked it.  I’d used and benefited from the Local Citation Finder since the day it came out.

So…our idea was that the Whitespark crew would build a free tool that instantly creates “how to write a review” handouts based on my tried-and-true design.

That tool is finally here.  Darren unveiled it in his SearchFest presentation today, and I’m unveiling it here now.

You can use it whether you’re a business owner or a local SEO.  You can use it whether you manage one business location or 100.

Go ahead – try the new review-handout generator at:

By the way, in case you’re wondering, there are only three differences between the documents you can make with the new Whitespark tool and the custom-made review handouts I’ve long offered on this site:

(1)  I can easily add custom features to your handout (e.g. QR code, extra graphics, annotations, etc.).

(2)  It’s easy for me to embed links in the PDF for you, so that if you email the doc to your customers, they can just click the steps to complete them.

(3)  I offer review handouts for other sites.

How do you like the Google+Local review-handout generator?  Any questions or suggestions?

How about a great big “Thanks, Darren!”

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The 2012 Local Search Ranking Factors – out Today

Local Search Ranking Factors 2012 - READ THEM!

Of all that’s been written and said about local search, there’s one single-most important piece: It’s David Mihm’s annual “Local Search Ranking Factors” study.

The first one came out 4 years ago (at almost exactly the time I got started in local search).  It’s the Rosetta Stone for all local search specialists and for many more business owners all over the world.

This year I had the honor of being one of the 41 contributors.  Answering the questions put everything I’ve learned so far through the wringer, but it was a lot of fun, very eye-opening, and more than worth it.

Even if you do nothing else for your local-search visibility today, first read David’s extremely helpful recap.

Then give the 2012 Local Search Ranking Factors themselves a read-through.

You’ll definitely have to pull up a chair, but you’ll be glad you did.

A huge thanks to David for masterminding the whole thing and bringing it to life – as always – and to my fellow contributors for their superb insights and dedication to the local-search community.

By the way, if you have a question about any of the ranking factors, my two cents on them, etc., just leave a comment!

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Happy 1st Birthday (to This Blog)!

I created this blog exactly one year ago.  A lot has happened in the world of local search since my first post.

Although LocalVisibilitySystem was born in ’09, today also marks one year since I went live with the site in its current form.  It’s the site I always wanted to have.  If you’re one of my “old-timers,” you may recall that things used to look wayyy different (just a couple of really long pages and no blog posts).

The site’s coming along, but it’s just the beginning.  Every day I learn something new from my clients, fellow local-searchers, and other great people.  All I’m doing is dipping my cup into a river of fresh, useful ideas on local search.

So, in order to keep the good stuff coming, I’ve got to know: what would you like me to write about next?  Or do a video on?  In other words, what would you find useful in your ongoing push for more local visibility to customers?  Just leave a comment!

It doesn’t even have to be an idea for a post: I’d really appreciate any suggestions for what you think would be a good addition to this site.

I know the next year will be every bit as crazy as the last one.  The recent merging of Google Places and Google Plus has already made for a wild ride.  But my purpose is still the same: to help make sense of it all and to help you get or stay visible to local customers.

Thanks for tuning in so far, and stay tuned for more!

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More great info on local visibility – on the way

If you’re reading this, you’ve found my blog at just the right time–when I’ve written nothing on it, and all the good stuff is yet to come.

It’s part of a completely new layout for As before, my mission is to provide info that helps you get your business visible to local customers in Google Places.

I realize my blog area is kind of bare for the immediate time being, but you can still get some great info right now by downloading my free 7-step guide to local visibility.  That alone should be enough to get you more visible to customers.

Other than that, I’d love it if you’d contact me with whatever questions you have. I’m going to get an RSS feed up here ASAP, but in the meantime, do check back from time to time, if you have a business that you’d like to get visible.

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