Just yesterday, Google made a pretty significant announcement of which every business owner should take note. In an attempt to further combine its social media efforts with its focus on independently-owned companies, Google has integrated its Google Places program into Google+ Local. While the benefits of this consolidation many not be immediately apparent to everyone, the potential this move has for small business owners is considerable to say the least.
According to a quote from an article on Search Engine Watch, Google’s Vice President of Product Management cites the appeal of the mobile user market as being the primary incentive behind the change. By bringing Google Places program directly into the company’s social media platform, smartphone and tablet owners will encounter business listings more frequently when they use the Google+ app or browse the network via browser. Google claims that this will allow companies that have registered on Google+ to significantly improve their level of engagement with mobile users.
An announcement video released yesterday also emphasizes a new feature that those companies listed on Google’s social network will certainly appreciate – user reviews with scores. Businesses on Google+ can now receive reviews from customers by way of Zagat, in addition to written comments. This official scoring system allows potential clientele to look up a business’ rating and help make purchasing decisions. Combined with the fairly decent amount of traffic that Google+ sees these days, customer interaction levels for companies on the network will rise significantly as a result.
Using Google+ to its Fullest Potential
Regular readers of my blog will certainly see what all this adds up to. Although Google+ doesn’t boast anywhere near as many active users as Facebook or Twitter does, the features being offered to companies going into the network are quite attractive. As Google+ users can now easily interact with and review any business previously found on Google Places, company owners need to redouble their efforts on the social media site. The following are just a few ways that businesses can improve their Google+ listings:
- Fill out as much information about your company as possible. According to an entry on Google’s blog, companies that were previously listed on Google Places should edit the details of their business through the old Places portal. This information will be immediately reflected on the Google+ listing as well and will help customers learn more about you and your business.
- Upload beautiful and eye-catching images. Google has been touting its network’s emphasis on large images and sleek presentation as being a big deal for businesses. Company owners should use high-end digital cameras or hire a photographer to produce original photos for their social media page.
- Encourage customers to review your business on Google+. People loved being asked for their opinions, and channeling those efforts through the newly revamped Google+ Local program means having a place to show both praise and criticism.
Of course, the SEO experts at WebiMax will be periodically checking in on Google+ Local to see how the new program fares. As always, I can be reached at email@example.com should readers have any questions.
Like a prediction straight out of a 80s sci-fi movie, everyone from teenagers to adults is constantly connected to one another these days via mobile phones. Over the course of the last six years, the prevalence and speed by which Blackberries, tablet PCs and smartphones have spread have become increasingly pronounced. As I discussed several days ago, the mobile market is one that everyone is trying to tap into at the moment. Yet at the same time, there are far more ways to become noticeable to mobile users than simply being SEO-friendly and active on social media.
A new study published by the Pew Internet Project shows the importance of something business owners may ignore: customer reviews. According to the survey, a number of mobile phone users were asked about the frequency of their just-in-time search engine use. The results of the study claim that 30% of those people surveyed looked up reviews and other online content before deciding to patronize a restaurant or business. Although most companies take the time to market themselves directly and organically, more small business owners need to realize the importance of the sort of content that these last minute look-ups can provide.
Five Stars in Two Searches
While the average desktop PC user may spend long stretches of time researching a company or business exhaustively, mobile phone users are more accustomed to hitting only a handful of links or sites in their searches. Because of this, they often rely more heavily on those networks that list customer reviews. In particular, sites such as Yelp and Google Places are incredibly popular with the mobile user market at present as they give ratings, a business’ operating hours and other relevant information. It’s on these sites that business owners need to establish themselves in high regard with users.
A Loyal Customer Base Can Spread the Word
Although a company should never artificially inflate its rating on these sites, it should always motivate its regular clientele to go online and review the business. Friendly reminders and requests from a company’s staff can be all that’s needed to incentivize in-store customers to rate them online. Likewise, a business can also collect any testimonials for its own website. This can be a great way to increase the size of a site and add to its SEO-friendliness with relevant keywords found in the body of reviews (such as products the company sells).
Of course, efforts to improve a business’ customer rating should always be secondary to any central SEO or social media optimization work already being performed. For answers to additional questions, I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the past several years, search engine optimization (SEO) has become increasingly popular for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Although large scale corporations and well-known retailers may rely primarily on TV and print for most of their advertising efforts, many companies also supplement their marketing campaigns with SEO-based operations online. What used to be a relatively unknown advertising method has now become a common business strategy for countless retailers, restaurateurs and service providers the world over.
Seeing recognizable companies using such innovative and forward-thinking marketing techniques is food for thought for any small or medium business owner. As such, many mom-and-pop and entrepreneur companies are jumping onto the SEO bandwagon in hopes of getting more customers to buy their goods or services. Inevitably, many interested people research search engine marketing only to find themselves overwhelmed by the amount of information they need to absorb. While SEO certainly isn’t the most approachable online marketing field, there are a few reliable methods that SMBs can use for becoming more search engine-friendly. In particular, business listings are a quick and easy way to engage web traffic for any SMB owner.
Get your Business Listed with Popular Search Engines
A major detriment for any company, remaining unlisted with a search engine is a surefire way to getting overlooked by potential customers. Anyone who has ever searched for a business on Google has no doubt noticed how the first few search results often display contact information for potential keyword-to-business matches. Search engine users often click on these results for quick contact information such as phone numbers, addresses and business hours.
Scoring the high traffic spot on the SERPs is easier than some SMB owners may realize. By going to Google Places or Bing Local and setting up a listing for a company, one will be able to contribute the necessary information to show up well on search results. Although having a business’ name as the search term doesn’t allow for much in the terms of keyword rankings, the users who use that keyword are far more likely to click on the link and contact or interact with the company in question. For added effect, be sure to add plenty of photos for a more robust listing.
Once a Google Places or Bing local profile has been established, a SMB owner will want to look further into potential SEO services or PPC management options. If readers have any further questions about how to get a listing set up, I can be contacted at email@example.com.
Prior to Google+ entering the social media market, businesses (both large and small) had 4 major platforms including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube to market their business. The release of Google+ for business gives marketers and advertisers some additional features that are not available on other social media platforms. Noteworthy features include Circles, +1 integration, and Analytics. Here’s a look inside the new features and why they are beneficial:
Circles: Groups of contacts can now be segmented to specific groups or “circles”. This added feature allows users to classify contacts so that specific resources (posts, articles, links, etc.) can be sent directly to the right circle. This deeper segmentation allows marketers to target groups directly and create a unique experience, one that other social media platforms do not offer.
Why we like it: It’s every marketers dream come true to segment their cliental into specific groups. This added feature allows just that.
+1: When Google released their +1 tab, the company came right out and said it… “This is similar to Facebook’s ‘like’ and Twitter’s ‘tweet’ button.” When fellow contacts +1 a site, link, ad, and photo, they are giving their seal of approval. The deep integration with +1 provides a recommended list that contacts find useful. For business pages, this helps establish credibility by giving a seal of approval to pages they believe their contacts may view as useful.
Why we like it: Businesses can establish a deeper connection and further interaction with contacts. For example, a search engine optimization firm might +1 a news article that applies to a specific clients industry. Deeper connection and credibility is the focus here.
Analytics: Evaluating and reviewing content and its effectiveness is key. Site administrators are given an in-depth analytical platform that evaluates the strength of the Business page and includes key metrics such as amount of visitors, unique visitors, time on site, geographic data and more. Currently, Facebook offers “insights” however Google’s background in analytics gives them the sure edge.
Why we like it: Evaluating performance is the only way to see if the page is useful and is worth the time. Visitors and time on site are key metrics that will illustrate just how well your company is leveraging the business page, and clearly illuminates areas for improvement.
Google announced that their local search service “Google Places”, will now allow the local business to submit their data including business hours, address, name, and more directly. This more streamlined process places more trust in the business. Google stated “the organic listing will automatically be updated and the business owner will be sent an email notification about the change”. The official announcement occurred last week on October 13th, titled “Faster updates to Local Business Listings”.
In addition, the search engine firm has tweaked their local search crawlers to look for the above business data (hours, address, etc.) and to provide greater accuracy. Google will make an automatic update if their crawler reports back with credible data. This move helps to ensure the most updated data is available for local businesses. For example, if the company sends out a news release announcing new operating hours, Google’s crawlers will catch this and automatically update the business page.
Local search has emerged dramatically in recent years. It is said that 1 in 2 Americans have a smartphone by the end of 2011. In fact, more Americans will have a smartphone then a 4-year college degree. Since so many consumers own one, more and more consumers are searching for “local businesses” on their devices. WebiMax, the leader in search engine optimization, offers local search services and is rated the top Local SEO firm in the United States.
Today, Google announced at the Social-Loco conference in San Francisco, that they will be updating their famous Places tool to include the interior photos of local businesses. This will be most useful in downtown local business districts where the cliental are regular visitors. It will be mostly advantageous for bars, restaurants, and coffee shops to be featured, to show off the interior set-up of their business.
In only a few U.S. cities, including Orange County, CA, San Francisco, CA, St. Petersburg, FL, San Antonio, TX, and Phoenix, AZ, you can apply to have an official Google photographer visit your business and take photos of the interior. Eventually, there will be a 360 degrees panoramic view of your business on Google Places.
Google stated in their announcement that “Just as you can’t judge a book by its cover; you can’t always judge a business by its exterior. Interior photographs are a great way to show potential customers what your business is really like. By enhancing your Place Page, business photos will help your business stand out above the competition and get discovered on Google.”