Last July’s Google algorithm update has made local results more important than ever. Dubbed “Pigeon,” the new algorithm intends to make search results more relevant to the user’s area, boosting local businesses in the process.
Despite Google’s efforts, many locally-based brands are still not seeing the online exposure they need. The reason? Many businesses online strategies are working against, rather than with, Google local search.
By now, most of you local business owners have a Google My Business page, right? Great! You even have the Google+ app installed on your mobile device, correct? I’m impressed! But I’ll bet quite a few of you have missed out on the Google My Business app. That’s OK. That’s why we’re here today.
The app is for businesses managing their presence on their Google+ My Business page. It allows you, the business owner, to connect directly to your online customers, whether they’re looking for your business on Search, Maps, or within Google+. The app permits you to update your business information on all of the above and enables you to share news and post content onto your Google+ page while “on the go”. There is however, much more to this app that has many positive implications for your local business. In particular, I want to draw your attention to Insights and the Google My Business app update that was announced yesterday. Let’s take a look at what you need to know.
Why You Need to Download the Google My Business App, for Your Business
Understanding how to optimize your local business’ website to capture local search will be instrumental to your online success more than ever before next year. While such a statement may seem obvious far too many local sites are optimized for general search, bringing in unqualified traffic that is located nowhere near their place of businesses. Your SEO strategy needs to be more concentrated, focused, and customized to the unique behaviors of your region. By going through this ten point list, and applying the advice found within each item, you’ll be prepared to party like it’s already 2015 while your local competition scrambles to set their SEO resolutions three months from now.
10 Things to Do to Make Sure Your Local Business Website is Ready for SEO in 2015
Yesterday the Google Webmaster Central Blog announced a video series courtesy of perpetually chipper Maile Ohye, a Developer Programs Tech Lead at Google. The series titled Bring Your Local Business Online was introduced with the bold string of words “no website required!” and was followed by Ohye’s assertion that “…having a website today is helpful, but it’s certainly not a necessity“. It’s a real knee-slapper. Or is it?
Today I’m providing a recap of this 6-part video series (unless you have time to watch all 30 minutes and 24 seconds) and an honest assessment for each part which looks at whether or not “no website required” is a reasonable statement to make.
Recap and Response to Recent Google Video Series Stating Local Businesses Can Build a Strong Online Presence Without a Website
Professionals have been applying the philosophies of sport and leisure to the act of running a successful business since the very first hut opened its doors to customers. In the world of online marketing I’ve heard analagous explanations that compare the likes of chess, golf, and football to what we do. While I don’t play either one of the aforementioned I do surf. As a lifestyle sport that has its participants bobbing up and down on the ocean for hours on end it leaves you with plenty of time to think. During a recent session as I waited out a lull in the swell my mind drifted to the office (as it shouldn’t) and I connected the dots as to how surfing has not only impacted my philosophies on life in general, but also with respect to this industry of search engine optimization. Too far reaching? Not at all. Read below to find out how the philosophies of this lifestyle sport apply directly to your website marketing strategies.
6 Ways Surfing Can Teach You How to Manage Your SEO & Website Expectations
For businesses that cater to a physical location Search Engine Optimization takes on a completely different meaning. Local SEO is the determining factor to their online success and without clearly defined instruction on how to achieve it many storefronts are left with “For Lease” signs dangling from their windows months after opening. In an effort to support these small to medium drivers of local economies I thought I’d provide a quick easy-to-follow checklist to ensure that their Local SEO is on point and pointing customers to their place of business.
Will “Google Now” Predict, or Guide, Your Brand’s Future?
Google Now made big moves over the last week. On April 29th it became available for iOS devices and with it, added the Voice Search functionality that can be considered a supplement or complement to Siri, depending on how you look at it. For those unfamiliar with Google Now, it can be summarized as a predictive and personalized mobile search offering from Google.
You already know by now that when you are signed into your Google account (be it Gmail, YouTube, or Google+) Google takes your search and navigation behavior and personalizes your future search results accordingly. Google Now is an extension of this, but with fortune-teller functioning. By “opting-in” to use Google Now, you are giving Google the go-ahead to not only continue down the path of personalized search but you are allowing it to anticipate your every move so that the minute you engage Google Search they have anticipatory information ready for you based upon recent actions and interests.
To deliver this predictive information Google Now uses cards which are a collection of day to day items of interest to the public (presumably to you as well). They include items such as weather, traffic, sports, travel, movies, and so forth. By default these cards are turned-on (you can switch them off with ease) and from the minute you’ve downloaded Google Now it begins to collect, monitor, and make sense of the data obtained by your online behavior. Then, when you return to Search, you are already presented with anticipatory information that Google deems of immediate use to you. For example, if you recently searched and subsequently booked a trip to Oahu that leaves within the next few days, you may return to Google Search to find cards displaying the 7 day weather forecast for the island, directions from the airport to your hotel, and suggestions for great dining options near your hotel. Say what you will about “Big Brother” privacy concerns (remember, no one is forcing you to use any of this) Google Now truly does make your online life easier by anticipating your needs and actually serves as a great reminder tool for those of us multitasking much throughout the day.
So, with all of the above being said, how can brands prepare for the increased use of Google Now?
Google Page One isn’t what it used to be. In the past it read like a one column classified page of your local newspaper. Visualizing where your website would fit in within the search results was clear cut. Now it’s a little schizophrenic. Depending on a search query, a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) can look like a teenager’s scrapbook. There may be a combination of traditional lines of linked text, pictures, videos, a map, and alternative search suggestions delivered on the SERP that you had no idea existed.
While the SERPs of 2013 may appear messy, they present your website with the opportunity to rank well in a variety of areas. If done right, your website could end up on Google Page One for multiple search results. At the very least, you may find your strength in ranking well one area (e.g. video) and take full advantage of that opportunity. However, in the spirit of “having it all” here is the 5 Fingered Attack to Get on Google Page One:
I think we’ve all done it. Perhaps you did so as a local business soliciting friends and family to write glowing online reviews. Perhaps you yourself have written a review for a business owner with whom you have a personal connection to, even though you’ve never used their product/service. It was all fairly innocent back in the day when Yelp reviews first started out. But now with Google reviews carrying more and more weight it was only a matter of time that Google put a tighter clamp on false reviews in an effort to increase trustworthiness in the eyes of online consumers. I’ve touched on the topic of How to Respond to Negative Reviews Online but now it’s time to look at the consequences of falsifying and soliciting positive reviews for a business.
Google recently gave a boost to the visibility of reviews on Google+ Local Pages and in doing so also updated their Spam Detection Algorithm. Google states that they are “committed to helping people to get ratings, reviews, and recommendations that are relevant, helpful, and trustworthy”. The algorithm update indicates that reviews deemed to deliver false positives will be removed. Here I provide you with insight into Google’s recommendations to business owners and how you can respond to ensure that the Google+ Local Page review process works for you:
Google+ has been receiving mixed reviews since it launched less than a year ago. Introduced as a Social Media tool, it felt nothing like one. As the months passed, changes were implemented almost weekly that steered Google+ more towards a familiar social media format, yet the inconsistent “message” of what it was all about kept many users at bay. Circles and the +1 confused more than a few and businesses were unsure about how to use brand pages as an effective tool to promote their product/service. So the question asks – should your business be active on Google+? Yes. Starting right now.
Today, May 31, Google Places was removed and replaced with Google+ Local Pages – a major leap for Google+ serving as another indicator that Google is making moves to further solidify its position as not only the dominant search engine, but as a priority for a business’ online social presence.
Below, we’ve created a 10 item list to explain why your business should place Google+ at the head of its social media marketing mix: