art near me
“Art near me” means many things. Click image to view results. Look! Bluffton College and Bluffton University!?

I’ve been using my online soapbox to agitate for crosswalk safety in Bluffton for several weeks. Let’s get back to being a small town solopreneur.

It took me ten years after moving to this area to get to the Dietsch Brothers ice cream and candy shop in Findlay. I drove past it hundreds of times, heard folks recommend it, but didn’t bite. Then I was served their coffee ice cream at a party. Coffee ice cream! A hard to find favorite. Now I have ready access to not only coffee ice cream, but also the perfect post-Hancock Public Library treat, the best maple cream chocolates, and more.

So let’s see how Dietsch Brothers and other nearby places fare in an online search. I’m a firm believer that all regional businesses and organizations benefit from using Google, TripAdvisor, and other web tools for promotion. Let’s see whether I can find some of my favorites. Are they “near me” literally and virtually?

Using a Chrome incognito window and Google Maps, I looked for “ice cream near me,” which is to say near Bluffton, Ohio. Icons that jumped off the map were Bluffton Dari Freeze, Dairy Queen in Findlay and Lima, Cold Stone Creamery in Findlay and Lima, and Friendly’s in Findlay (marked CLOSED).  A Google search gave similar results. No coffee ice cream for this web surfer!

What does it take to find Dietsch Brothers online? “Candy near me” didn’t work. The business is listed on Tripadvisor as the #1 restaurant in Findlay. So clearly categorization can be a problem. I also get an awful lot of Bluffton, South Carolina listings, so my smart phone is not always very smart, even when I specify OHIO.

Another regional favorite of mine is ArtSpace/Lima, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. They currently have an exhibit called “ON LOAN: From the collection of . . . .” Reading that they’ve had visitors from as far away as Thailand, I wondered if ArtSpace/Lima is easy to find online.

On my smart phone, the Tripadvisor app gave only 2 “attractions” for Lima, the Allen County Museum and Veterans Freedom Flag Monument. Online, Tripadvisor listed 16 Things to Do in Lima (not attractions?) of which 9 were “Nightlife” listings. Hmm. No art galleries.

How about “art near me”? On the map, ArtSpace/Lima popped up as well as the Lima Symphony Orchestra. Yes! In Bluffton, I see the Lion & Lamb Peace Arts Center, Krysti’s Music Studio, and the Bluffton Karate Center (martial arts!). Searching for “art near Bluffton, Ohio” did yield ArtSpace/Lima just “above the fold.” I.e., just at the bottom of my screen.

I guess the next question is “is improving this scenario DIY-able?” It certainly is. In fact, you may find that a happy customer has done it for you and that’s why your business name or other words are spelled wrong! These listings allow you to claim or create them as the business owner. I’ve also worked with clients to remove old Google listings for their address. The process does take some patience. For example, Google will send you a special code in the mail to confirm that you are the true owner of the business. And changes are not instantaneous.

More importantly, the results can be fabulous! If you’re looking for more traffic at your place of business or at your event, there are ways to make it more visible and to provide more information online. You should be just a click away, even if you don’t have a website. So, how do I fare? “Copywriters near me” didn’t show my business, but “copywriters near Bluffton, Ohio” does. Phew!

TripAd Dietschs
Click for Tripadvisor listing. Note “barbeque” in description. Huh?