Google Search

The rant on Google search results

Local Search

The search giant is changing its algorithms over the weekend of March 26 and how it will impact Google search is starting to stress some folks.

Here’s the truth. It shouldn’t matter. 

A lot of folks are wringing hands trying to figure out what’s going to happen, and others are shouting at the top of their lungs trying to convince you that they can fix whatever it is.

Google Search and Quality

Throughout the history of changes to Google algorithms and Google search, two consistent factors, closely related, have been present.


User Experience.

If your site loads quickly and is mobile optimized, you’ll be fine. 

If the content you provide is quality, you’ll be fine.

If you do things right, you’ll be fine.

Quality over quantity

The other day, I made a terrible mistake. I went to Fiverr and looked around a bit. Under local search, it was … amusing.

“I will provide 32,000 citations for your website.”

That’s a lot, but is it worth it? If you are a homestyle meat and three restaurant in Nashville, is it worthwhile to be in a directory in Warsaw, Poland? If you buy 32,000 citations, that is exactly what you are buying.

Moz does a much better job than I can of explaining the importance of local citations to local SEO and Google search results, but the crux is this. 

Local directories of quality. Yes, that includes Facebook, Yelp, and of course Google My Business. It may also include your local Chamber of Commerce or merchant’s association directory.

They key is quality over quantity.

Same for blogs

I was approached about writing some blog posts related to the online game World of Warcraft. Specifically they wanted 20 articles, each centered around a different keyword. In the blog post, the keyword was to be used 50-60 times in a 500-600 word post.

Keywords are still important to Google search, but stuffing went the way of the dinosaur long ago. Instead, Google wants, and rewards, good, high-quality content.

Maintain that focus on quality, not quantity, in all things and Google will reward you! 


benefits vs features

The value of benefits versus features


A few months back I was in the market for a new vehicle and the shopping experience highlighted the idea of benefits versus features for me.

My wonderful 14-year-old minivan faced a semi and lost, getting severely crunched and totaled out. So off to various websites and dealerships I go.

Everywhere, the sales pitch was the same. 

Automatic doors. Automatic locks. Buttons everywhere. The radio. The gas mileage. 

All these features are quite nice and the van I settled on has a few perks. 

Benefits versus features

A feature is a trait of a product. The benefit is why that trait matters to the customer. 

All the sales reps I dealt with were quick to point out the features of the various minivans for sale. However, the intriguing thing to me was that not one sales rep at five different dealerships asked me why I wanted a minivan. 

One or two asked, “You got kids?” However, they did not get into how many kids, why I want a van, how I use my vehicle, how much I travel, etc. They had no idea which features would be beneficial to me, much less how it would be beneficial to me.

benefits vs features

Lots of great features with the minivan, but it was the benefits that this father of 3 looked for.

Why does it matter?

Many people make purchasing decisions based on the benefits rather than the features.

When I was a newspaper publisher and we were considering an atypical purchase, there were a couple of questions that drove our purchasing decision.

The first was do we want it or need it? If you needed it, figure out how to pay for it and get it.

Want fell a little differently. If you wanted something, was it going to save you money? Help you sell more ads? Write stories faster? Make a process more efficient? That drove the decision.

Here’s the thing with the van. I have three daughters. We spend several hours each week in a vehicle. They have book bags, make up bags, sports bags, projects, and all kinds of other stuff. We travel a lot, taking several fairly large road trips each year. 

The automatic back door is nice, and can be helpful, but overall it doesn’t impact my travel decision with my children. Lots of cupholders? That’s important. Lots of storage matters. These are benefits as is how the climate control system is set up and ease of removing and/or adjusting the back seats.

The automatic sliding doors? Nice, but doesn’t provide me much of a benefit over automatic doors. 

The advantage

There is quite a bit of research on benefits over features.

Not that features aren’t important. When faced with two vans that equally answered my concerns, the one with the more features won out. I don’t need automatic everything, but it sure is nice.

Still, the choice of getting XX miles per gallon or saving $XXX per month on gas expenses, which will you likely choose? They may be relatively equal in final valuation, but the miles per gallon sounds like a feature and the saving of money is definitely a benefit.

The key thing is sales. Without it, your business doesn’t bring in the cash it needs and is DOA.

That is why marketing materials need to focus on, but balance, benefits versus features. Boost sales. Grow business.  


The value of your reputation

Local Search

Your reputation. So much depends on it and businesses rise and fall based on their reputations.


The Case Study

My former brother-in-law, Joe, worked as a self-employed handyman. He performed all manner of tasks in his town in North Carolina, including painting, power washing, light construction and repairs, and similar tasks.

His business changed when he was listed on Home Advisor as a “screened and approved” vendor. The number and quality of leads increased  and he started earning more per job.

It was a real boon to his business and a string of five-star reviews followed.

One day, he received a one star review and was accused of not completing the work for which he was hired while still taking the money. Joe wears his heart on his sleeve and this negative review hurt him personally. More than that, it caused fear for his business. 

Would a negative review tank his Home Advisor stream of business?


The first thing Joe did – and it was smart – was to call someone to discuss the issue. That someone happened to be me.

I advised him to remain clam and don’t fly off the handle in anger, fear, or hurt. First, we reviewed the job for which he was hired and the work he did. We talked through it.

Then we crafted a response.

The response focused on a sympathetic approach that made it clear he was sorry the client was unhappy. He also outlined the work he performed, and pointed out the additional problems he uncovered, which the client did not pay to repair. The problems could cause a leak in the same area where he was hired to repair a specific item. 

The closest thing to an emotion he showed happened to be the empathy he showed for the client.

The Result

There was no hiccup. Home Advisor did not change Joe’s status nor did they require him to refund the fees for the work he did. He continued to get clients steadily – including one who said he hired Joe based on his response – for several years until he passed away from cancer. 

In fact, having a bad review and his response, may have actually added to his credibility. 

How you handle a criticism is an important part of the response. 

Take Away

Joe did two things correctly right off the bat. First, he didn’t respond right away, giving his feelings time to calm down. Second, he perceived a serious problem (it probably wasn’t as serious as he though) and so sought help.

When you get a bad review and you think your reputation is going to take a hit, do a few things.

  1. Chill. Just relax and let your emotions settle down.
  2. Think about the review after you’ve chilled. Is there something to it.
  3. TOS violation? Was the review by someone you can prove has never been in your business or purchased from you? A disgruntled ex-employee? Getting a review removed is difficult with most legitimate review sites, but you can get them taken down for Terms of Service violations.
  4. Multiple reviews saying the same thing? Is there something to them?
  5. Respond maturely, thoroughly and without accusation. 
  6. Move on.