There’s always something to howl about

Don’t Mess with The Google

So back in October I launched a Google Local account for The Chetson Firm. This is an account that links your business to Google Maps and allows you to post information such as your hours, location, parking, etc. I posted some images, a link to a video I had created, etc.

I shot to the top of Google local rankings for keywords in Raleigh. I’m certain that was responsible for multiple thousands in business. Life was good. I tweaked the listing a few more times, it kept performing well.

Then at the end of November, I tweaked it again, this time stuffing a few more keywords into the listing. Google “flagged” the listing. Overnight it disappeared from the local search results displayed by Google maps. This was a disaster. I had difficulty undoing my mistake. Where I was in the top 7 for two months, now I was nowhere to be found. (I still perform well on Google’s organic search words, so business didn’t dry up completely. In fact, December was a strong month.)

Since Google Local has no easy way to report problems, I went into Google’s local business forums, where I found lots of people in similar circumstances. Their ads were displaying fine, until the end of November when Google did something that affected them.

Fortunately on the strength of other marketing – some direct mail I do to DWI defendants and the fact that my organic google results are strong – I’ve continued to pull in business, but I would guess I’ve lost about $10,000 in business because of this mistake.

I’m on the way to repairing the damage, and Google is expected to refresh its results after the New Year’s. But this illustrated for me two aspects of the same phenomenon in marketing and the online world.

1. Don’t put all your marketing in one basket.

2. Google really is a market maker in many respects for many different kinds of businesses.

I’m now looking for other ways to “diversify” my marketing. Fortunately there’s Bing and other emerging avenues. Unfortunately Google, as much as I generally like their products (Wave being an exception), is still a dominant force and will remain so.


2 Comments so far

  1. Brian Brady December 29th, 2009 8:15 pm

    How are your direct mail results?

  2. Damon Chetson December 30th, 2009 7:40 am

    Approx 1 percent for “call backs”. Less than that for bookings two clients from direct mail, so it’s made me money. I’ve been testing a few different letters, but haven’t hit upon a really good one yet.