HT Direct People to Map Locations Without A Physical Address

Image of someone using map plus codes in a taxi to get to RMR2+97 which is my officeGetting any business or organization discoverable on maps & GPS is at times a difficult and complicated task that even pros struggle with at times (I’ve had my challenges).

For rural businesses or those in high-density areas – the problems compound. I address these mapping challenges often and can usually work through them in short order.

But recently I was looking into how I could guide people to a location that didn’t have a physical address or was located within a large space (inside or outside). While these situations might seem unusual, they are quite common.

  • Emergency stations & shelter check-ins
  • Farmers & food markets like Reading Terminal Market, Phila (<love)
  • Food trucks & vending carts
  • Group meeting location
  • Information booths (national park)
  • Mobile blood-donation stops
  • Race check-in & first-aid stations
  • Showers at an outdoor concert (just sayin’)
  • Temporary municipal or emergency buildings
  • Tour operator ticket booths
  • Trade show booths (thinking of you PRI)
  • VIP & special needs entrances
  • Water-based businesses like SailTime

Each of these locations can be difficult to pinpoint to an exact location on a map without an actual address. Sure, you can come close most of the time, but I’m talking about guiding people to an exact map coordinate – not an address.

The solution is refreshingly simple. Just use Map Plus Codes to inform or promote where people can find you.

A Map Plus Code is a series of characters that relate to an actual point on a map – not an address (although, it can be) and works anywhere in the world without requiring a special application (like QR codes).

Creating these Map Plus Codes (MPC) is super easy using Google Maps in just a few steps. I’ve outlined three scenarios which should cover most needs.

Scenario 1 – when you are physically at the location (mobile) – useful for when you arrive at a destination and need to generate a map code

  1. Open Google Maps and make certain your location settings are ON
  2. Press and hold your finger on the area of the map you will be until a map pin appears
  3. Click on the address or where it says, “Dropped Pin” and scroll to the bottom of the page where you see the five blue dots (below)
  4. The first string of numbers and letters is the code!
                                                           map-plus-code-icon.jpg

Scenario 2 – to pre-generate an MPC from a (mobile) map view – use this format to generate a map code in advance of arriving at the location

  1. Open Google Maps and make certain your location settings are ON
  2. Search for the location near your interest
  3. Press and hold your finger on the area of the map you will be until a map pin appears
  4. Click on the address or where it says, “Dropped Pin” and scroll to the bottom of the page where you see the five blue dots.
  5. Same as above – the first string of numbers and letters is the code

Scenario 3 – if using a PC

  1. Like scenario two, but click and hold your cursor on the map until a pin appears
  2. Click on the latitude/longitude coordinates in the address bar that opens open at the bottom of the page
  3. Your MPC appears in the left within the information bar next to

To use this code, all someone needs to do is type in your short Map Plus Code (MPC) into their search bar, and it will be decoded as an actual map location right down to an exact latitude and longitude. Try it RMR2+97

Use these codes as you would a regular address in print, promote them on social – TV- or radio media, or add them to a website. I would advise however giving viewers instruction to enter the MPC in their browsers (PC or mobile) as MPCs are not universally known just yet.

If you are currently using MPCs or decide to give it a go, please reply with how you are using them so that others can learn from your experience.

#mappluscodes

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Telephone Number SEO?

The telephone number – easy enough; it’s just ten digits – who could screw that up?

Truth told, it’s pretty difficult to get this so wrong that it messes up with your online visibility, but there are some best practices with respect to formatting that may help search engines understand the context of our text a bit better.

Since these ten underrated digits are primary lead generating for so many businesses, nailing this is kind of important.  So here are my top-four SEO best practices to formatting your telephone number in a way that can help users connect with you more and increase your page indexation.  

  • Make sure your telephone number is HTML text and not text within an image. Easy test, if you can copy and paste your telephone number from your website to something like a Word document – it’s most likely in HTML format.
  • Use schema markup to better classify your data to search engines (all the biggies accept this). I’ve been advocating schema for several years – you can find more about it here.
  • Make sure it’s not in an iframe. Here’s a quick way of checking it out – press the CTRL+U buttons on your PC (Option+
    ⌘ Command+U for Apple folks) to view the source code of any page of your website. Look for “<iframe” references and if your telephone is in close proximity to any reference. Another shortcut is CTRL+F or 
    ⌘ Command+F for non-PC users.
  • And lastly – for the deepest indexation, consider how you use your number in different online settings.
    • Use (###) ###-#### as your website format – this has great indexability by search engines.
    • Use ###-###-#### for citation management if the format above is not accepted.
    • Under no circumstances should you use ###.###.#### (dots!). It’s sketchy from a usability perspective, but as illustrated in the chart below, it is the least indexable by an unbelievable margin.
Telephone Number SEO? 1

Now, you would be justified for thinking that my example is just one site, but I ran the same test on several of my clients both local and national as well as for a university client and the results were similar in that the (###) ###-#### format was the most indexed of all format types in every case. Every one.

So use your formats wisely – and in all cases, don’t use dots – their lack of indexation was universally horrendous!

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Change – the only constant

 

google-algorithm-changes-in-2017-2018

A few years ago, it was widely reported that Google made more than 500 changes to the algorithm that influences how a business shows up for Google searches. 500. That’s 9.62 changes every week.

That said, I’m sure every business reading this has been making the necessary 1.37 changes to their website or are creating 1.37 organic content pieces every day to promote their business. Okay – maybe not… and you probably don’t need to, not all of these 500 updates are going to directly impact a business ranking on search – only a few. Right?

The honest truth is, no person or enterprise outside of a few within Google know how many of the 500 algo changes were for ranking factors or for UI/UX (the look and feel of Google search) changes. But one thing is for sure – the ratios are changing.

2010 is when I can remember the first annual algorithm change-count being reported at over 500. Fast forward to 2017 – and it’s reported that number has risen to 2,453 changes. 2,453. That’s 47.17 changes every week; a 390% bump. The odds are good that the number of ranking-factor changes has also grown incrementally.

That said, I’m sure every business reading this is making the necessary 6.72 changes to their website or are creating 6.72 organic content pieces every day to promote lead generation.

Okay – maybe not… but if they were, that conversation should include a sustainable path for leveraging website changes, citation building tactics, content marketing strategy (blog, image, video), and social media to increase their visibility on search engines like Google. All done in the context that change is inevitable; and with a keen perspective on the long-term lead generation – because there is no doubt that next year, there will be more than 2,500 changes to Google’s algorithm. Change is constant…

 

 

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