How to Make it Easier for New Local Customers to Find You Online

How to Make it Easier for New Local Customers to Find You Online

How to get More Local Customers

 

Today the first place that people look for a business is online using their mobile phone or computer. If somebody was to search for your business category would they find you? And if they did would the information that they were presented with be compelling enough for them to call and book an appointment or buy a service from you?

 

People are constantly looking for places, items of interest or things to buy in and around the vicinity of where they are, the question is what are you doing as a business owner to capitalise on that?

 

If you are keen to have more people find your business, become customers and come back again and again then here are a few changes you can make today to significantly increase your chances.

Claim your Google My Business Listing.

 

To find your page, go to Google and type in “Google my business”.  Click through to the Google My Business page, then click the Get Onto Google button. You will be prompted to enter your Google email address and password to log in. If you don’t have one you can sign up for a password.  In the search bar where it says “find your business” type the name of your business and it should bring up your business listing.

Google My Business

 

Google will tell you whether the listing is claimed or not, and it will also say whether it’s claimed with the email address you are using. If it is, great!  You can log in and edit the page. If the email address doesn’t match then you need to claim your business.

 

To claim your business you will need to verify that you are the owner, which you can either do by having a verification pin sent through to your mobile (immediate), or by postcard (which can take 2 weeks). Once you have that pin, enter it into the verification page and your listing will be claimed.

 

Once you have claimed your Google My Business Listing the next thing you need to do is add the relevant business information in the next five steps. Before we get into that I need to explain one of the most critical aspects of Local Search: NAP citations.

What is a NAP Citation?

 

NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone. Think of your NAP citation as the unique fingerprint that identifies your business to search engines and directories.

 

Everywhere your business NAP is found online is called a citation. In real terms the more citations mean there are more websites where customers can find your business. In addition search engines (like Google) see citations as a “vote”, a trust sign if you will about the authority of your business and they are a big factor in how well your business ranks for industry related keywords in search results.

 

correct nap

 

One of the biggest problems for businesses in local search is inconsistent, incomplete, or inaccurate NAP information in citations. To learn more about the importance of NAP citations for your business click here.

 

So now you understand the importance of your NAP citation and you have claimed your Google My Business page.  The next step is to highlight how you can improve the relevance of your business and increase the chances of potential customers finding it and selecting you.

Increase the number of Consistent Citations of your business around the internet.

 

Google uses data from other trusted resources around the web to categorise your business and build up a picture of how authoritative your business is.

 

There are hundreds of websites/directories on the internet like Yell, Yelp and 118information, that are vitally important because they share information with Google. If your information on those sites matches what your Google my business page and your website say this increases trust and can influence how and where customers will find your business in search.

Earn, Manage and Market Reviews

 

If you conduct local searches such as “Dentist in Watford”, “chiropractor in Preston” or simply “divorce lawyer near me”, you will see that in the listings there will be businesses that have reviews.

 

watford dentist screen shot

 

For your business to stand out in the new 3 pack you need to make sure that your business has reviews. We’re not just talking about 1 review, you need ensure that your business has more 5 star reviews than any of your competitors in and around the local area.

 

In the example above the the top two dentists have their reviews displaying prominently and the thrid dentist does not. Who do you think a potential patient will call?

 

The greater the quality and quantity of reviews you have the better. It reflects on the services that you are providing to your customers when potential clients look upon your business.

 

Reviews are so important in the local search infrastructure that you should consider putting in place a review collection strategy where you ask every single person that visits your business to go to Google and leave feedback about you and the experience they had.

 

By doing this, each customer is effectively sharing their good opinion of you with everyone they know and also potential clients who might see your business for the first time and need some assurance that you are the best in your area.

Social Media Signals

 

Social media has become integral to many areas of digital marketing and it is no different when it comes to increasing your businesses awareness in local search. With billions of active users, it is a great medium to build fans and followers, gaining reviews and authoritative web sites where you can get a structured NAP citation.

 

social_signals

 

Social content ranks well on search engines because it is often current and relevant to people that are searching for you or your services. What happens on Facebook, Yelp and Twitter does influence how Google and other users perceive your business.

 

Social media is Word of mouth marketing. What people say about your business services, their feedback and reviews are publicly accessible to your potential clients. And this has a massive influence on your lead generation and ultimately sales.

Website Authority

 

According to Moz’s 2017 local search ranking factors, On Page Signals account for 24% of the signals Google use to position your business in front of local consumers.

 

On page signals include presence of NAP, Keywords in Titles and domain authority. We have already discussed the importance of NAP but I wanted to take the opportunity to drive home the importance even more. If your business Name, Address and Phone is not the same on

 

  • Google My business
  • Your Webiste
  • Local Business Directories

 

Then Google does not consider you trustworthy and this will be reflected in when and how your business is presented in search.

 

If you are a Dental Practice then make sure that on your home page you include the keyword “Dentist”, other related keyword terms and your location. Make it absolutely crystal clear who you are and what service you provide.

 

The more information you can provide the search engines that matches what other trusted, relevant and authoritative sites on the internet say about you the better.

 

Local SEO is all about getting internet browsers with commercial intent to convert, be that buy or become a patron of your business.

 

If you follow the advice given in this blog post you will have a strong head start in optimising your online presence for local people that need the results your products and services provide.

 

Why Are Reviews So Effective At Winning New Clients?

Why Are Reviews So Effective At Winning New Clients?

Being Found Online Is Tough.

No Question. But been found online and getting new clients to select your business over your competition is even harder. Especially when there are very few differences between the services you offer.

 

While many business owners leave it down to chance, there are ways that you can dramatically improve the chances of your business winning those new clients ahead of your competition.

 

One of the most powerful ways to set yourself apart from your competition is by highlighting your positive customer reviews online.

 

So Why Are Online Reviews So Effective?

 

Online Reviews build trust. Whether your customers are raving about what your product has done for them, how the results from your service changed their life or just how friendly and approachable the staff were. These reviews come from a third party not from the business owner, not from a copywriter. They come from the heart and are often filled with positive sentiment and emotion that truly connects with people who are in the same circumstances the reviewer was in prior to engaging with your business.

 

74% Of People Say Positive Reviews Make Them Trust A Local Business More (source)

 

So people trust and read online reviews but that isn’t the only reason why online reviews are so important.

 

The number of Online reviews you have is considered to be one of the major influences on how well your business ranks in local search.  You can see how many reviews you have by Googling your business name. If you have any it will show underneath your website. If you don’t have any, it will simply say leave a review (You can also check your reviews by logging into your Google+ dashboard and clicking on the reviews tab and that will show you).

 

Where Can You Use Your Google Reviews To Increase Conversion?

Local Google Search Results

If someone in your locality searches for the services that you provide, then your star rating is front and centre for everyone to see. In order to get a star rating on Google+ you need to have 5 reviews. Once you get those five reviews, then your star rating will appear within a few days, although sometimes it may take a few weeks.

 

Google Pay Per Click Ads

In order to get your Google+ reviews to show on your PPC ads  you need to enable location extension in Adwords. You can find the full list of benefits and instructions here. You can also use seller ratings.

 

braces_london

 

Organic Search Results

If you have reviews and testimonials, you can help search engines understand them with schema markup. In short you provide the search engine with specific code that it can use to identify reviews. Having reviews displayed on your search results won’t necessarily impact your rankings, but it does improve indexing and can increase click-through rates and conversions to your website (See Google’s support page, Reviews Rich Snippets for details.)

 

The Importance Of Reviews For SEO?

The more reviews you get the better your chances of being displayed in the top 3 of the new Google snack map. Why? – to get a little technical here each review is a 3rd party citation for your business and services.

 

Google always wants to know that it will send its clients (searchers) to the most trustworthy and reputable search results. If your business has 12, 18 or 25 positive reviews from users in the catchment area of your business then you stand a much higher chance of being listed in the top 3. So if you have a better star rating then your competition you will be seen as trusted and win the business.

 

In essence getting reviews for your local business on Google+ works two fold.

 

  1. It is a key factor in the ranking of your business in local search.
  2. It increases the social proof of your business and thus your conversion rate.
Tip: Google loves fresh, unique content, and user reviews are a great way of getting that new content. The more up to date reviews are, the more relevant they are to both users and clients so keep it current!

 

 

Where Is The Best Place To Get Clients To Leave Reviews?

 

Google+ is the key directory where your business should get reviews as this has the biggest impact on search however there are other 3rd party review sites that can influence both potential buyers and your performance in search.

 

Some of these key directories we mentioned in our previous post about the importance of local directories in search, in short there are directories relative to your niche that have potential clients and aggregate and share reviews about your business online.

 

Having a great reputation across a plethora of these sites will be a huge advantage in helping clients overcome scepticism and also to improve the authority of those individual listings of your business and the relevance to your position on Google maps.

 

Business Listings to place your NAP

 

What If There Are Bad Reviews?

 

Ok, let’s start by saying that not everyone is perfect and on occasion for whatever reason things do go wrong resulting in a client not getting the service they deserve.

 

When this happens. internet savvy clients are likely to vent their anger by going online, finding the first portal they come across and sharing their discontent with everyone.

 

And while no business owner wants bad reviews, Revoo suggested that 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad reviews. Especially if the business has reached out to attempt to rectify the situation.

 

To get more information on how to deal with a negative review read this post on Reevoo.

 

How Can You Improve Your Reviews?

 

The best way to improve your ratings is to make sure that your customers receive excellent customer service. Happy customers attract more happy customers, who are willing to rate you well and tell others about your business or products.

 

In short, rather than fretting over one bad review reach out to the reviewer express your concern and ask them to contact you directly so you can help solve the problem. To potential clients it shows that you care, to the reviewer you are taking ownership of the situation, attempting to take the situation out of the public arena and also leaving the ball in their court.

 

Even better than simply reacting to negative reviews when they appear, a positive and proactive approach to your online reputation and reviews is far more favourable.

 

After all one bad review from a total of one review is BAD. One bad review amongst 10, 15 or 20 positive reviews is not an issue at all.

 

Therefore make it an ongoing business concern to ask clients to leave reviews about your business, monitor that feedback and be proactive about resolving issues raised by your customers with an outcome that reasonably satisfies all parties, including you, as and when it happens.

 

Note: There are filters set into the review sites that are there to monitor any suspicious activity. Going from no reviews to twenty reviews overnight may alert the filters and could result in genuine reviews being removed from your listing.

 

Tips For Getting Reviews And Making Them Count.

  • Be a Great Business – The best way to get positive feedback is to make sure that your customers receive excellent customer service. Happy customers attract more happy customers, who are willing to rate you well and tell others about your business or products.

 

  • Ask for the review – A lot of businesses believe that reviews will appear on their own. The truth is that most people who have a positive experience need to be asked to leave a review as they don’t understand how important it is for your business.

 

  • Send an email to the user asking for the review shortly after they have experienced your services and are feeling the positive impact of the results you have provided. The sooner the better.

 

  • Send a follow up email. People have great intentions but often don’t realise how important to your business these reviews can be. A gentle reminder can increase the number of reviews dramatically.

 

  • Don’t worry about getting reviews on all the websites that your business is listed in as this will prove too difficult to manage. Focus on those sites that are deemed authoritative by the search engines. Yell.com, thomsonlocal.com, 192.com, Google, Facebook.

 

  • Make the process as simple as possible – Don’t ask the user to jump through to many hoops in order to leave their feedback, make it as simple and unobtrusive as possible.

 

Other Ways You Can Leverage Your Reviews To Help You Get More Clients

Earlier in the post we discussed how you can use reviews in search to elevate you above the competition but what if, as with many of our clients, customers send reviews and testimonials to you in the form of letters or cards or gifts?

 

What you should do with a Thank You message from a customer

 

  • Take a photo of the cards and gifts and publish them on Social media.
  • Leave them in your reception area so everyone can see.
  • Reach out and thank the customer who left the review and ask them if they would be as kind to share their message with the world by adding it to an online review site.
  • Add the reviews to your website.
  • If you can, get a photo of the client and add their testimonial to the image.
  • Put several of these testimonials together and create a small slide show video which could be added to your website and social media.
  • Add a selection of reviews to your newsletter
  • Add the testimonials to the footer of your email.

 

There are many creative ways to leverage reviews to position you as an expert and a provider of excellent service but ultimately it comes down to asking for them and marketing them so that everyone, including new and existing customers, can see the great work that you are doing.

 

7 out of 10 Consumers Will Leave a Review for a Business If They Are Asked To!

 

It’s not always easy to get reviews, but focus on what the reviews will give you: A business with a fantastic reputation online, lots of user generated content for the search engines to boost your rankings and best of all, you will be building a referral business based on trust.

click here

 

How to Choose A Good SEO Agency

How to Choose A Good SEO Agency

SEO can boost or harm you business, so don't risk it! Read How to Choose A good SEO Agency | www.bigthinkingonline.com

 

If you think it might be time to put an SEO Strategy in place,

but have no idea where to start, then here are some questions to consider before you call in the professionals.

 

What Do You Want To Achieve By Implementing SEO?

The most important step to take first is to understand for yourself why it is important for you to implement an SEO strategy for your business. If the only answers you can come up with are along the lines of “because I’ve heard I need it” or “because I want to rank at the top of Google” then I suggest you don’t have a clear enough goal.

 

If you can’t explain to yourself why you want SEO then you won’t be able to hire someone to do the job you want doing.

 

Instead, establish some goals that you want to achieve. It might be to increase the number of leads or phone calls you get by a certain percentage, it might be that you want to be known for a different service than people currently use from you, or perhaps you are launching a new product. If you know your goals, it will be easier for an SEO agency to provide the plan that meets your needs.

 

Get To Know Some Of The Basics Of SEO

I understand that the point of hiring an expert is because you need them to do a job that you can’t. However, in order to make sure you are getting the right job done, it makes sense to know enough of the subject matter so that you don’t get confused by jargon, and that you are confident enough to ask and understand relevant questions. Think of the last time you made a significant purchase, whether it was a house, a car or a new phone you probably did some research. Investing in a good SEO strategy for your business is no different, if you do your research you’ll be more satisfied that you made the right decision and that a good job has been done.

 

Ask Around

If you know anyone else who has a business, whether or not they are in a similar industry, why not ask them about who did their SEO? What did they like or dislike and what would they recommend?

 

Get In Touch

Find an Agency, or a few agencies, that you’d like to find out more about and get in touch! Talk about your goals and what you want to achieve and find out how they would approach the issue. Don’t expect specifics at this stage, a good agency will want to do a little research on your specific issue before giving you any solid feedback.

 

You should, however be able to get a sense of how they approach their work, if they are methodical or seem a bit slapdash. You’ll be able to get a sense of how knowledgeable they are about their industry, or whether they are just hoping for a quick sale. You’ll also get an insight into their personality and if you think they’re someone you’ll be able to work with.

 

Find Out What The Bigger Picture Is

SEO is not a “one stop marketing shop”, meaning that on its own it won’t solve all the problems with your online presence. If the SEO Agency is going to be tasked with revamping your site so that it’s better placed in the search engines, it could mean that more work is needed across the site in order to give you a better result. For example, if your website is old and outdated the technical structure you have just may not support a robust SEO strategy.

 

It might be that your website needs completely rebuilding in order to support your SEO campaign, if so, can the same agency do all the work, or will they want to outsource?

 

Experience

Whilst there are plenty of SEO Agencies around, not all of them are equal! It should go without saying that a good SEO Agency will be able to show you examples of how they have helped other clients achieve their goals. Be very wary of anyone who guarantees you a top ranking – this is almost impossible to guarantee through organic SEO, especially for competitive keywords.

 

There are also agencies that specialise in particular niches or industries, choosing someone who specialises in working with similar businesses to you can have an advantage that they are familiar with the key words and terms, or the disadvantage that they are already working for a competitor in your area. Always check whether or not they offer any exclusivity in their contracts.

 

How Do They Track And Prove Results?

One of the best things about online processes is that almost every aspect can be tracked and measured, this allows a great transparency to businesses who are relying on others, such as an SEO Agency, to complete work for them.

 

Find out how your chosen agency plans on tracking their progress against your goals. How will this be communicated to you? How often? What are their processes for ensuring goals are met, and do they adapt these without telling you?

 

The more you can understand about how your agency works, then the easier it will be for you to trust them to do the job.

 

Are You Ready For A Long Term Partnership?

Don’t ever think that SEO can be done once and the results will last forever. It is an ongoing exercise. Search engines constantly update their algorithms, your competitors constantly tweak their own websites and therefore if you want to stay current your SEO will always need to be worked on. Make sure that whoever you choose to work with you are happy with their style of working, as to get any real benefit you’ll probably have to work together for a minimum of 6 months. 

 

If you want to know more about our own SEO offering and the businesses we’re currently working with then get in touch! We’d love to hear from you! 

 

5 Tips to Get Your Business to Rank in the Top 3 of Google Maps [Video]

5 Tips to Get Your Business to Rank in the Top 3 of Google Maps [Video]

Need to have your business found by more people in the search engines? Here's 5 Tips to Get Your Business to Rank in the Top 3 of Google Maps | www.bigthinkingonline.com

Every Time Somebody Types in a Local Search

With a business identifier, for example, “dentist St Albans”, Google will list the businesses that it deems to be most relevant.  If your business’s client base is pulled from the local community then recent changes to the Google search results, namely reducing the number of businesses listed in the results from 7 to 3 could affect the number of customers who are able to find your business.

 

st_albans_dentist_google_local_search

 

The good news is that if you are listed in the results 3 pack, you will get more calls and more inbound leads for your business. If your business isn’t in that all important top 3, this post and video will give you the advice and tips you need in order to improve the relevance of your Google maps listing yourself.

 

 

#1 Verify Your Business Listing.

The first thing that you need to do is check that your Google+ business page is verified. If your first though is ,“I don’t even know if I have one,”  don’t panic, because you probably do. Several years ago Google created 83 million business pages based upon data that was already on the internet and other business directories, many businesses never even realised the page was there and the features remain unused – until now!

 

To find your page, go to Google and type in “Google my business”.  Click through to the Google My Business page, then click the Get Onto Google button. You will be prompted to enter your Google email address and password to log in. If you don’t have one you can sign up for a password.  In the search bar where it says “find your business” type the name of your business and it should bring up your business listing.

 

Google will tell you whether the listing is claimed or not, and it will also say whether it’s claimed with the email address you are using. If it is, great!  You can log in and edit the page. If the email address doesn’t match then you need to claim your business.

 

To claim your business you will need to verify that you are the owner, which you can either do by having a verification pin sent through to your mobile (immediate), or by postcard (which can take 2 weeks). Once you have that pin, enter it into the verification page and your listing will be claimed.

 

#2 Choose the Correct Category

Once you’ve got the business page verified the next thing you need to do is to check that your business is registered in the correct category. There is no point in your business being listed as a Painter and Decorator if you are a Lawyer!

 

You can see what category your business is listed as by searching for your business in Google. In the search results, on the right hand side underneath your name you will see the primary business category that you are registered under.

 

finding your category on Google+

 

In the Google My Business Centre, check what category is selected and check that it is relevant. If the category that is selected against your business is not correct, then you need to edit the category by searching for a category that better suits your business needs. When you have found the correct category simply hit save.

 

Google always recommend that you select your business category on the premise of “my business is…“,  rather than “My business does..”

 

With that in mind don’t go and select all of the services that you offer as this would be against Google terms of service which could result in a penalty against your listing.

 

Example, If you a private dentist, then you would select Dentist and potentially Cosmetic Dentist, but  not teeth whitening, crowns and implants as these are services that you offer and do not reflect who you are.

 

#3 Name, Address, Phone Citation (NAP)

The next thing that you do is it is check that the name, address and phone number of your business is registered correctly. In local search this is what’s known as a NAP citation and this citation is what Google uses to recognise whether your business is trusted and relevant in the local area.

 

NAP_Citation

 

If your business has been open for 18 years, the likelihood is that it has been mentioned and recognised online by other members of the local community and will also be included in other website and local business directories. Google uses those citations to help identify how trustworthy your business is.

 

That is why it is vitally important to make sure that your Name, Address and phone number are correct.

 

Once you have verified that your NAP is correct with Google you need to check that it is exactly the same as it is listed on your website.

 

For example, if you’re business is 1A Church Road in Google and your website records your address as 1 Church Road, that is an inconsistent citation and Google will consider that in a negative light. This will have an impact on your position in the local listings .

 

#4 Citations listed in Business Directories

Once you have checked that your NAP citation is consistent on Google+ and on your website you need to consider how many citations are online and if they are all consistent.

 

local business directories

 

As I mentioned above, if your business has been around for a long time it is likely that it can be found on a variety of business directories both local and others that are specific to your niche.

 

If your business has moved address, perhaps through expansion or because you have merged with another business then there may be a harmful amount of inconsistent citations across the internet.

 

Some examples of business directories are Yell, Thomsonlocal, Freeindex and Yelp. There are literally hundreds of other local business directories and you need to see which directories have a listing or a NAP citation for your business, then check that NAP citation is consistent with the citation that is listed on both your Google + page and your website.

 

A number of consistent NAP citations in authoritative business directories is a good signal to Google that you are a trusted provider in your area.

 

# 5 Positive Reviews

Reviews are significantly important in terms of local search. Google’s mission is to provide an excellent service experience for its users. 

 

improtance of Google reviews in local search

 

Google’s users are the ones that go into Google and search for what they need. Google then pulls up the most relevant businesses that match that search criteria and then considers the user generated content around those businesses – typically the reviews.

 

If you conduct local searches such as “Dentist in St Albans”, “chiropractor in Edinburgh” or simply a “injury lawyer near me”, you will see that in the listings there will be businesses that have reviews.

 

For your business to stand out in the new 3 pack you need to make sure that your business has reviews. We’re not just talking about 1 review, you need ensure that your business has more 5 star reviews than any of your competitors in and around the local area.

 

The more 5 star reviews you have the better. It reflects on the services that you are providing to your customers when potential clients look upon your business.

 

Reviews are so important in the local search infrastructure that you should consider putting in place a review collection strategy where you ask every single person that visits your business to go to Google and leave feedback about you and the experience of they had. By doing this, each customer is effectively sharing their good opinion of you with everyone they know and also potential clients who might see your business for the first time and need persuading that you are the best in your area.

 

Another benefit of having a large selection of positive reviews from past clients is that if you are unfortunate enough to receive a negative review from a client then it will have less impact amongst all the positives. By proactively asking clients for reviews you are protecting your online reputation.

 

If you follow the advice in this post, you verify your page, you check your business is registered in the correct category, that your name address and phone number citation are consistent both on Google + and your website, that your business is listed in all the major business directories both locally and niche specific, and finally that you ask every patient to leave feedback for you in order to build up your 5 star rating, then you’ll stand a far better chance of ranking in that all important top 3.

 

If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments box below and I will happily respond.

When 7 becomes 3 – Google Shrinks the Local Business Map

When 7 becomes 3 – Google Shrinks the Local Business Map

If you run a locally based business, Google's latest update could affect your search traffic. Find out more here. www.bigthinkingonline.com

As of Friday, Google made a significant change to its search results.

Now instead of having 7 businesses represented in search results with local intent, there are only 3.

google local seo

 

What’s different?

Well first and foremost the map has moved from the top right of the Google search results to the left hand side. This would be in keeping with the view that users get on a mobile device and as reported last week, in the UK mobile usage of the internet is greater than desktop usage. So to keep congruency for the user, regardless of the device they are using, makes sense.

 

Another difference on the desktop version is the fact that your business phone number is now no longer displayed. Instead the options are to click directly to the users web site or get directions.

 

Oh and of course, the big one. What was 7 business listings on last week is now just 3.

 

Using the same search criteria on a mobile device you can see that the website and directions buttons have been replaced by a phone icon, which is a click to call feature. 

 

google local mobile view

 

How Will the Change Impact Businesses?

It will only impact businesses that were in the 7 pack prior to the change. After all if your business wasn’t there before the change then it will have no impact. If you were in positions 4-7 on the map then you can expect fewer calls and inbound leads via Google.

 

If you are on the new listing in positions 1-3 then I would suggest that the change will have a positive impact for you.

 

Put simply, your business is only going to be competing with 2 others in the area meaning the chance of you getting a phone call from the map has increased roughly 2.5 times from 14% to 33%.

 

How can you increase your chances of getting more calls?

 

To increase the chances that your listing will be picked over the other two then you need to optimise your listing to stand out from the other two. Ways in which you can do this include:

  • Introduce business photos:
  • Add Videos
  • Add updates to your listing.
  • Get and respond to Reviews

 

If your business is not in the new local listing of 3 then the following is a good place to start.

  1. Check that you have a Google My Business account.
  2. Verify the account.
  3. Update all details including; business name, address, postcode, hours of business, main business category.

 

Chances are this alone will not get you into the top 3 positions but will provide the foundation for a local search engine optimisation strategy.

 

Final Thoughts

The cynic in me is saying that this is all about Google digging deeper into the pocket of advertisers. As there are a lot of businesses that were in the old 7 pack that will no longer be on the first page of Google for their service and locality at all. Meaning that if they do want visibility and to continue getting the inbound leads and calls they were getting then one of the options is to pay for that privilege through Google Adwords.

 

In a blog post on Search Engine Land, Barry Schwarz shares a quote from a Google spokesperson with regards to these changes that says:

“We are constantly exploring the best way to bring a better search experience to our users. This update provides people with more relevant information, including photos, reviews and prices, for searches that have multiple results for a given location.”

 

Is this a trial by Google? How long will it last? Will it benefit Consumers? Will it benefit businesses? Only time will tell….

Click here to turn your website into a client generating powerhouse

Google Make Big Changes in the Local Space.

Google Make Big Changes in the Local Space.

There was an important Update to Google Recently, If you run a local Business this could affect you! Google Makes Big Changes To The Local Space | www.bigthinkingonline.com

The Past Few Months

Have seen Google make some big changes in the local SEO space. Most of these changes stem back to the fact that Google has finally accepted that Google+ will never be Facebook and all their attempts to effectively ‘force’ people to use Google+ including tying YouTube to the platform are starting to be uncoupled.

 

And while that will not impact most users or business owners the fact that Google has also announced that they are going to “unverify” inactive Google+ Local pages could have an impact on local listings.

 

What does this mean for business owners?

Back in 2012 Google made the decision to combine what was Google+ Local pages and Google Places together and automatically provide 80 million businesses with Google+ Local pages. While that might seem a little confusing the crux is that whether you know it or not you probably have a Google+ Local page.

 

If you have never verified that page or Google perceives the page owner to be unresponsive then the page might be shut down.

 

According to a message that has been in the local search forums:

In the past few months, you may have seen some changes in the look of Google+ pages that have been associated with Google My Business (GMB) accounts. These changes, including how we treat business pages without owners, are part of Google’s ongoing effort to simplify people’s experience with our tools. We are constantly working to provide only valuable and rich content to our users.

 

On July 28th, Google will begin shutting down those GMB–associated Google+ pages that have not been associated with user accounts and are also not verified. You may find that some of your Business View tours also sit on such pages, but note that after their removal of unverified Google+ pages, the Business View tours will still remain available on Google Maps and Google Search.

 

How does this affect your business?

First off it depends whether you have verified your Google+ pages.

 

If you haven’t verified your Google+ local page then here is some advice for you to follow from the Google Maps team:

Encourage your business customers to verify their listings if they wish to retain their Google My Business page.

 

If a business owner decides later that they would like to have a Google My Business page, please advise them to create a new page and verify their listing. The Business View virtual tour can be then transferred to the new verified listing.

 

Please log a case to our support teams to request that images for your business customer be forwarded to the new GMB page. Please point your business customer to their images in Google Maps.

 

If you have verified your Google+ page then you will have nothing to worry about. In fact I would hesitate to suggest that if your page is verified and optimised then you will be getting an advantage over your competition as more and more competing pages will be removed from the Goole+ listing. Leaving customers and clients in need of your services a greater chance of finding your business first.

 

If you have any questions or thoughts on this topic put them in the comments box below.

Protect Your Online Assets – Even if You Don’t Think You Have Any!

Protect Your Online Assets – Even if You Don’t Think You Have Any!

Protect your online Assets – Even if You Don’t Think You Have Any!

protect your online assets - life ringWe’ve said it many times before, but a website really is a non-negotiable part of doing business. I spoke to a prospect earlier today who said that he doesn’t do any marketing, online or otherwise. Yet this same prospect had a website, has local directory listings and has clients leaving opinions of his services online, Google even brought up a newspaper article from last month that mentions his name and business directly. All of this was (except for his basic website that has been in place and unchanged for years) was without his knowledge and out of his control.

It’s never been easier for potential customers to find out what others think of your business. Likewise, it’s never been easier for existing customers to leave their opinions of you, good or bad, very publically and without contacting you to let you know.

Even if you are like the prospect that I spoke to earlier and don’t wish to actively market your business online there are steps you should be taking to protect your online interests that shouldn’t take you too much time, but will ensure that you are protecting your assets to a certain extent.

Claim your Google+ Local Listing.

Every business in the world has a Google + Local page or they can claim one. The vast majority of businesses haven’t done anything with theirs as they haven’t even realised it’s there to be claimed. If you claim your Google + Local page you can give yourself an advantage when potential clients are searching for businesses like yours in your local area because Google wants to offer its own results over and above anything else. An optimised Google + Local page will also help when people search directly on your business name, because Google will recognise this as another citation of your business being valid.

Claim your local directory sites.

customer reviews - yellSites such as Yell, Thomsonlocal and Yelp are like the evolved version of the old phonebooks. They list business contact details, addresses and usually a brief description. This information will most likely have been auto filled from your website, but won’t necessarily have been refreshed even if your website information has been. These local directory sites hold a large amount of credibility with search engines who recognise them as a valid source of information. Many local directory sites have been online since the early days of the internet, which adds into their trust factor as far as the search engines are concerned. If you claim your business listing in an online directory you are given the opportunity to add additional information, for example pictures, offers, or even just give more accurate detail about what you do.

Set up Social Media sites in your business name.

You may have no desire to represent your business on Social Media, but the fact is that millions of people do use it, and you may have customers or potential customers looking for you on there. The worst thing that could happen is that someone else could set up a page using your business name and pretending to be you. Ensure this doesn’t happen by setting yourself up, and if you don’t want to use the sites leave a message clearly stating the best ways to get in touch with you. Once you’ve set the sites up, set up email notifications for if anyone does write on your wall or send you a tweet just so nothing slips through the cracks.

Make sure your Business Name, Address and Postcode are correct.

Each business has a unique Name, Address and postcode (NAP) and Search Engines use this information to ensure that information they return is about the same business, not another business with the same name. If you have moved premises you’re likely to remember to update your stationary and forward your post, but you also need to make sure that you update your address details with all local directories, Google and on your own website so that online searchers can find you too. It’s also important to keep all citations of your name and address the same, for example if your building number is 24-26 High Street, some people may just list it as 24, or 26. Whilst a postman would hopefully understand and deliver your mail, a search engine would see these as different things and therefore not give you the same credibility in the search results.

Encourage Positive Reviews

local seo - excellent customer service

It’s an unfortunate fact that people are more likely to complain than they are to praise. Your business may have had hundreds of satisfied clients over the years, and you may even have a box full of glowing testimonials, but it only takes one dissatisfied client to vent their frustration publically online to ruin your online reputation. Whilst the obvious solution is to always provide excellent customer care, there’s always going to be an occasional slip. If you already have dozens of happy customers talking about you online then one bad review will be a drop in the ocean. If you have no positive reviews then the bad one is all that anyone can see. Take pre-emptive action by encouraging everyone you deal with to leave a positive review of your business online. If you’ve followed the advice above and claimed your local directory listings then you can even ask people to go to a specific site to leave their reviews. We set up private review portals for our clients to make sure reviews can be captured and posted as easily as possible.

Not every business wants to actively manage their online profile, but it is important to have some kind of system or process in place as even if you aren’t interested in being online, I can guarantee people will already be talking about you and your business on the internet.

To find out how you could make it easier for clients to share their great reviews about your business online click here!

Why SEO Should be a Fundamental Element of Your Lead Generation Strategy

Why SEO Should be a Fundamental Element of Your Lead Generation Strategy

Why SEO should be a Fundamental Element of Your Lead Generation Strategy

Many businesses realise the hard way after investing in a website that traffic, leads and sales do not magically appear on the internet. Businesses are competing with millions of websites to be seen, and this is where search engine optimisation comes in. It is no longer good enough to just have a website, you need to make sure it can be found through the major search engines and this is why SEO is so important.

A website that is not optimised is as successful at attracting new clients to your business as the sign above your business. It is only visible to those that are standing directly in front of it or who already know your business is there. People in the next street, the next town, the next city will have no idea you even exist.

why seo

That’s why SEO needs to be high on your list of imperatives. If you are not continually working on your online presence to boost and maintain your search engine rankings, your company will likely experience a poor return on investment for its online marketing efforts. Without a search engine optimisation strategy, your organisation could be losing countless potential prospects and new business to competitors who are focusing on SEO.

While many business owners believe that SEO can be a “set it and forget it” exercise it is more evident than ever that it requires constant vigilance and adjustment. Major shifts in the area of search have been taking place over the last few years and businesses that don’t adjust will see their listings sink to the bottom of the results pages.

Search Engine Optimisation is still new to many businesses and because of that it can be hard for department heads or business owners to justify investing in SEO. Here are some facts that might help your decision:

Top 10 Reasons Why SEO is Worth the Investment

Close Rate – According to HubSpot’s 2012 State of Inbound Marketing, SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, which are 8 times more likely to close into customers than outbound leads.

People Search for a Reason – Search engines are one of the most popular ways that people find information and make purchasing decisions. According to info please, 81% of internet users say they use the internet to do research on a product before buying.

why seo

Real time, All the time – The internet is alive and speaking to your potential clients 24/7/365. So while your business is closed and there is no one manning the phone lines a perfectly optimised website can be providing useful and valid information about your products and services, helping them conduct their research and putting you in the prime position when they are ready to buy.

Branding – SEO helps improve brand awareness. People are more likely to move forward with a company if they have an online presence that fills the searcher with trust. By showing up where users expect you to be and having a great online reputation you can earn that trust.

Relevance – Search engine marketing enables brands to reach the audience that is most likely to be interested in their products or services. This can be contextually, where results are based on what the searcher is particularly looking for or location based, where your audience is at the moment of time. Both of which add to why SEO is so important for business.

Reach – According to UKOM in September 2012, over 42 million individuals in the UK where online, that is 69.4% of the total population and on average people spent 25:44hrs online.

why seo

Creativity – Search engine optimisation offers businesses and marketing teams a limitless creative canvas to attract and captivate their target audience through multimedia: video, audio, imagery, text, all of which can be used to drive customer engagement.

Long Term Benefits – A print advert, a direct mail campaign, a radio advert once delivered is gone and if your target audience miss the advert there is little chance of them finding t again. If you have a website that is optimised for targeted keywords that drive traffic on a daily basis you will have the opportunity to engage potential clients on a day by day basis for years to come.

Competition – in most cases doing something because everybody else is doing it is not necessarily a strong argument. However if a business is serious about generating  a healthy supply of leads then not being optimised while others in the niche have adopted a local seo strategy, will mean that those leads, prospects and sales will be going straight to those that have made the investment.

Organic – In a recent report conducted by GroupM carried out with Nielsen, Evaluating the Search Marketing Landscape, it was found that only 6% of clicks were from paid search while a massive 94% were from searches in the organic listings. This in itself highlights why SEO, and having your business listed for key terms related to your business and niche in the organic listings, is so important for business.

Accountability – Unique to the internet is the ability to show the entire customer journey: the number of sales, newsletter sign ups, the number of times people click on your listing in the search engines, where they go, what they interact with and much, much more.

All of this information can then be used to work out where to target your efforts to increase conversions.

Although it can be difficult to justify spending money on something that doesn’t yield immediate results and comes with few guarantees, it’s important to realise that SEO is a lasting investment and can be a fundamental part of your lead generation strategy moving forward.

Consumers are using the internet for everything, as the demand for information about products and services continues to increase and the numbers of ways people can access the information evolve, search engine optimisation is not going away. In fact the need is only going to get stronger. So instead of asking why improving SEO is a good investment, maybe you should be asking yourself why didn’t we invest in SEO sooner?

Does Local Search SEO Matter for Small Business Marketing?

Does Local Search SEO Matter for Small Business Marketing?

Does Local Search SEO Matter for Small Business Marketing?

local search seoWhen was the last time you went out to the theatre, or the cinema or indoor sky diving? Did you go there and then go straight home? Probably not, the chances are you probably stayed local and got a bite to eat or a drink. If you were super organised perhaps you searched Google before you left and typed in something like “restaurants near theatre x”, “places to eat by indoor skydiving centre”, or maybe you checked on your mobile while you were at the venue.

The point is that people are constantly looking for places, items of interest or things to buy in and around the vicinity of where they are. The question is, what are you doing as a business owner to capitalise on that?

Trying to go after the local search seo market for the keyword “restaurant” is difficult, in fact it is very difficult. But targeting the keyword phrase “restaurant in north Manchester” or “restaurant near the playhouse theatre” might be more achievable. Plus, you have the added incentive of knowing that the searchers are highly targeted customers for your offer and (this maybe a positive for restaurateurs) those people will not spend all night in your restaurant as they have a show to catch meaning you will definitely have the table free for another party of guests.

So if you are keen to capitalise on local search seo traffic for your business then here are a few changes that you can make to get results.

1. Target the Right People

Until you know who you are targeting there is not much point doing SEO. What words are your potential customers using to find your business? Ask them! When people are in your store, restaurant or practice ask them what terms they used to find your business in the search engines. Ask them what search engines they used and ask them what other search terms they would enter into a search engine to find business similar to yours.  Once you have a collected a good volume of results use Google’s free Keyword Tool to carry out keyword research and narrow down the result to the ones that are actually getting searches and use them for the basis of your SEO campaign.

2. Alter Your On Page Optimisation

On page optimisation is a process by where you tailor your copywriting, so the search engines can index them in the correct place and your targeted users can find them. To help them index your page in the right place, relevant to your keyword, make sure your keyword is prominently displayed in the title of the page.

By having your keywords in the title tag you will also be making sure that when targeted people land on the page they find exactly what they are searching for, resulting in increased conversions, phone calls, bookings and sales.

3. One Page, One Keyword

Even though “Restaurants East Cheshire” maybe a keyword that you are targeting it should only be used on one page. If you have two or more pages optimised for the same keyword then the search engines will choose the page that it feels is more relevant and this may not be the page that you have optimised for conversions.

If you are not happy with the page that you have then either edit the page or delete it and start afresh leaving you with one targeted page per keyword.

4. Go into detail

Sticking with “Restaurants East Cheshire”, in order to provide the search user with greater detail about the search you may consider providing a page on “things to do in East Cheshire” or think about providing information on the specific town your are in, in this case you could do “Italian restaurants in Crewe” or simply “Italian restaurant”. The link is relevant to the search user and this is a great way of attracting targeted links back to your most important pages.

5. Add your address to every page.

Local SEO is all about getting people to convert into buyers or visitors to your local store. That being the case, make sure it is obvious where your store is by having your address on every page of your website. Make everything as easy as you can for the user to find your details and act upon them. It also reinforces your location to the search engines so when people are searching for localised information your pages should be indexed.

This is by no means a defacto list for optimising your website for local search SEO but by adopting these 5 principles you will definitely put your business on the map and be in a great position to capitalise on local people that are searching for your products.

To get a free report that details your businesses prominence in your local area Click here!

Your Website is Good, Your Off Page Optimisation is Just Off

Your Website is Good, Your Off Page Optimisation is Just Off

Your Website is Good, Your Off Page Optimisation is Just Off

off page optimisationOff page optimisation is the process of doing things away from your site to encourage other sites to link back to you and the search engines to increase your standings.

If you create a great website, that is useable and filled with useful, relevant and fresh content, you will naturally find that other sites point towards your site in recognition of the great work that you are doing.

To Google, a good number of inbound quality links pointing to your site signals that your site is relevant, authoritative and trustworthy. The volume of social shares is also vital so, to generate as many high quality links back to your site as possible you should;

Make your content good enough to share.

Without fresh original, relevant content that people want to and feel compelled to share you are really going to struggle to build authority to your site. Think about the questions that people ask of you and your business and answer them. Be the first to break news relevant to your industry and you will find your material gets shared and linked back to.

To see more content ideas click here…

Make your social sharing buttons highly visible.

If something is not blatantly obvious and by that I mean staring you in the face then people will not do it. If you make it hard for people to share your content or go searching for the sharing tools. The chances are your content will not get shared.

Submit and syndicate content to other high traffic sites.

Ultimately the goal is to get people on your website, interacting with your content, subscribing to your newsletter and becoming your customer. The fact of the matter is in order to get to that level you need people to see your content, love your content and share it. The more people that see your content; even if it is on other platforms; Facebook, Twitter, Google+, the greater the chance you have of these people taking the time to visit your sites and becoming patrons of yours.

Register your site on targeted directories.

For most industries and niches there are targeted directories that allow you  to advertise your business; name, address, telephone number and a link back to your website. A listing in a relevant directory can provide a reference to your site but also can bring targeted users to your site.

Many of these directories will try and convince you to pay for a ‘sponsored link’. Before you do find out what you can about the level of traffic to that specific page, not the website in general, the expected click through then if you know your websites conversion rate, way up whether a link would be of value to you.

Favour One way links over reciprocal links.

A reciprocal link is a link between two sites A and B. One linking pointing to A from B and one link pointing from B to A.  Although Google is not so keen on reciprocal links and has devalued their status, reciprocal links from relevant niche sites can still add value to your site. However you would get greater value from your site with a targeted one way link; website B pointing to your site A, although these are harder and require more skill to acquire.

Get local citations

Local citations are similar to business or niche related site links however the links are gained from other websites located in the same region you are targeting. These localised links then alert Google to the area in which your business operates and with enough links will start to show targeted to results to users searching within your area. You can use sites such as Yell, Thompson local etc.

Post Comments with links in forums and news sites.

Search for niche and relevant forums or news sites within your industry and comment on the posts. Take your time to read the post and leave a value adding comment with a link back to your site. The more value you can provide to the conversation the greater chance you have of people following that link to find out more about you and your business.

Submit Linked content to Web 2.0 properties.

Web 2.0 properties are high traffic sites such as Digg.com, Hubpages.com and Squidoo.com. Create a piece of content that talks about some of the key areas in your niche and publish it on these sites again linking back to your original site. If the content is compelling enough human visitors will follow the link back to your site and the link will get recognised by the search engines and count as a citation for your site.

Make your links keyword rich.

When you leave a link on another website pointing back to your site, Make sure that the text that is the hyperlink; known as anchor text is related to the keywords that you target. By doing this Google notices that there are links back to your site referencing the same or similar keyword terms to how your site is telling Google it wants to be seen, thus creating a relevant link, which holds more value.

The work and effort that goes in to your off page optimisation is as important if not more than the work that goes into your on page optimisation when producing your site. Off page optimisation is a continual process that needs to happen month after month after month. If your site stops getting links from other sites, stops getting articles shares then in the eyes of Google it loses relevance and will eventually be pushed down the search engine results pages by fresh new content from other sites.

In order to dominate the search engines you need to have a clear and strategic approach to search engine optimisation that involves the creation and syndication of relevant, trustworthy and authoritative content. The greater the value of your content the less effort you have to put into sharing the content because you’re passionate following will do that for you.

Off page optimisation shouldn’t stop. If it does the chances are your competition will capitalise on this get more citations, get the top spots in the search engines, the lion’s share of the traffic and reap all the rewards in terms of revenue and sales.