Web Marketing Best Practices for Local Businesses

Trumpet Local Media Blog

Google My Business Rolling Out New Features

New Features in Your Google My Business Dashboard Google is on a tear lately, launching a rapid series of awesome additions & enhancements to the Google My Business platform. Finally! After years of neglect (and the distraction of the Marissa Mayer debacle), the long wish lists for Google business listings is seeing some real action. In addition to improved functionality and the addition of attributes, and better customer support, Google My Business listings now offer 3 new features: FREE websites that can be created in minutes Social-style promotional Posts which expire in 7 days Built-in SMS Messaging for customer support Google is intent on keeping users in the Google ecosystem and all of these features are strong engagement options for SMBs (Small Business Owners) to use Google My business on a DAILY basis. Now, why was this not a priority in 2009? Well…. And because of this lapse of attention for the past several years Google has essentially trained business owners that there’s nothing special about their Google listing. Now that there IS, I expect most businesses to take a LONG TIME to adopt most of these features. And Google is notoriously bad at promoting its own products. Will you use these features? Will you even log in to check them out? Do you know how to log in to Google My Business? Future posts here will examine details on each new feature.

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Google Business Name Spam Update

Google Business Name Spammers Beware! We can edit your Business Name for you Dear Business Owners: Your Google business listing is for you to list your actual business name at your actual business address. Yes, we understand that you want to rank well on Google for your specific business services – but the “Business Name” field is not the place to mention those things. Oh, ALSO, we understand that you want Google to know which city your business is in – but that’s why there is a “City, ST” field. Just go ahead and put the city where the city name goes, Okay? Yes, there is sarcasm my tone here – but some of these “business names” are ridiculous and embarrassing. I mean, ARE YOU FOR REALS????? I’ve been informed that Google is hard at work to resolve this gap in enforcement in Google guidelines. Perhaps later in 2017, after we’ve captured some aliens and Elvis comes out of hiding, Google will enforce inflict penalties on obvious spammers. And for the Corporations that are knowingly practicing spammy tactics, I hope that there’s a way for Google to penalize the whole lot of them. I don’t know how they might do that – but perhaps there is a way. In the meantime, we’ll just keep editing spammy business listings ourselves. Hint: And YOU can too!! It’s easy & fun. Yes, I know that it’s hard to rank on Page 1 of Google. It Should Be hard.  The best businesses should rank the best. Don’t you think? By “gaming the system” and essentially “cheating your way to the top” you are doing no one any favors. The question I now ask of business owners: “Why should Google rank you on page 1? Please be specific.” More on that later….

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Google Business Name Spam: Major Offender #1

Major Offender #1 of Google Business Name Spam: Theravive In 2017, two major stories in Local SEO are Mike Blumenthal’s research into Fake Review networks and Spammy Business Names. While Google is apparently working on these issues, changes are too slow to arrive. It still pays to cheat on Google and that’s not a good thing for anyone. The competitive mental health industry is flooded with spammy business names and while some folks for sure just don’t know the rules, many are knowingly breaking them. I’ve taken the time to manually update over 100 Google listings for therapists with bogus business names. It’s kinda fun and anyone can do it! But what if you were a serious service provider for therapists and your offering knowingly included spammy SEO tactics? Is this okay? Theravive offers a “limited” number of spots on their paid directory and offers a couple upgrades and they guarantee at least 1 new patient for your therapy practice. These people might be awesome and be sincerely helping people, but the first hint of their improper business practices is that “guarantee” they offer. What they do is create Google business listings for their customers that have Bogus & Spammy Business names clearly in violation of Google’s stated guidelines. Yikes! Let’s look them up in a few cities across America: Having keywords and city names in Google Business Names does affect rankings and gives these listings a boost over their competition. Theravive knows this. One thing we know for sure is that these business names are BOGUS. So what can we do about this? Can someone report this to Google? Would anyone at Google do anything about this? It’s doubtful. One thing you can do is seek these listings out in your city and click on “suggest an edit” and manually edit the …

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The Truth About Search Engines in 2017

The Truth About Search Engines Today The above image shows website traffic from one of our clients for this past week. When I work with small business owners, I often politely use the phrase “Search Engines” when talking about website rankings and potential visitors “from search”. This is politically correct, of course, because there are many search engines. The truth for EVERY business I speak with is that almost ALL search traffic will come from Google. Period. While it’s nice to have a Bing Local business listing and it’s really lovely that Bing exists, Bing will not drive traffic resulting in an measurable effect on sales, revenue or profits for any small local business. Earlier this week I was speaking on the phone with a client and together we did a few searches together. Then he said, “Wait a minute! For some reason I’m on Bing! That’s why I’m seeing different results. How did that happen?” It was his computer somehow defaulting to Bing for searches, despite his intentions to conduct a real search on Google. Has this ever happened to you? (could that be most of the 2% of searches in the above image?) This may sound harsh but I’ve been saying this for many years: Keep your focus on Google. Focus your efforts to rank well and capture potential new business from people using Google to find what you offer. It’s perfectly fine to ignore Bing. Bing a non-factor. Yahoo is a carcass along the side of the road. Ignore Yahoo. Spend your time making sure your Google listing is awesome and your website informs Google very explicitly what you offer and where you offer it. Focus on those things and you’ll score 96% out of 100. Okay so now get to work!

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The Latest News for Local SEO in 2017

The Latest News for Local SEO in 2017 Last month Jack Jostes attended the MOZCON Local conference where all the latest Local SEO information was shared and discussed. Oh how I wanted to be there too! Jack took over 40 pages of notes which he distilled down to a 40 minute video for the team at Ramblin Jackson. If you really, r e a l l y want to watch that video, let me know. But you are probably better off just watching this 6 minute video here for Jacks Key Takeaways from MOZCON Local 2017. My favorite 3 points: Google is the new home page: Google is pulling more and more information about your business directly into their search results so you don’t need to leave Google. 34% of searches receive no clicks. How does your business look on Google? Trend: Voice Search is growing rapidly and businesses must consider this when crafting content about their business and it’s products & services. Are you ready for your future? Things need to be consistent! Trend: Online reviews are more important than ever – both in supporting clicks from potential customers and in rankings. Request reviews via email from your customers with direct one-to-one emails from you and let them know how much of a difference that will make for your business.

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How to Add Photos to Your Google Business Listing

Adding Photos to Your Google Business Listing Google LOVES images. Our experience is that Google My Business listings with more photos perform better (conversions) and may in fact achieve better rankings than those with few photos. These conclusions seem be supported by Google’s new enthusiasm for photos. Yet, for small business owners, this can be a problem. It often falls to the very bottom of the list of more important tasks, which is reasonable. But there are easy ways to add photos to your Google Listing: #1  Download the Google My Business App on your smartphone. Login and get acquainted. Now you can get push notifications to alert you of reviews, updates and more. #2  Take photos of your business with your phone. Happy, personable and engaging photos are best. If you own a restaurant, happy faces eating your food inside your establishment make the best profile photos. Stock images = Bad. #3  Upload those photos to your Google My Business App. And now you are done. You can follow these same steps on Yelp with Yelp Business Owners App. Tip While just having photos on your listings is good, having professional looking photos would be better, and photos uploaded with optimized file names is a good idea [pizza-new-haven-ct.jpg], but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

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3 Reasons Why a Bad Review Can Be Good For Your Business

A Negative Review Can Be Good for Your Business! Did you just get a negative review? Don’t Fret! Here are 3 reasons why: #1 Research has shown that people don’t trust businesses with only 5-Star reviews.  Having an average of 4.5 – 4.7 out of 5.0 stars is the sweet spot. This is more reflective of what actually occurs in the real world. Even if you are A+++ Awesome with everyone, there’s always that one impossible-to-please grumpy weirdo who still thinks you suck. It happens to all of us. That’s just life. #2 You should always respond to online reviews on Yelp & Google.** It shows that you are listening. As Jack Jostes has pointed out – Most customers just want to be heard! It also shows all your customers that you are paying attention to your business and your customers and that you care! On Yelp, you have the option to respond privately to the reviewer to resolve a customer service issue. Thus, your negative review gives you an opportunity to make it right for your unhappy customer. ** In some cases, if you have very few total reviews, a public response to a negative review is not the best action to take. Reach out privately to that customer instead. #3 How you respond to a negative review can reveal a lot about who you are. On Google & Yelp you don’t get to tell the world how truly awesome your business is. That’s the job of the general public by writing authentic reviews. But, a gracious & amazing response to an unhappy customer can be a powerful statement of awesomeness. People just want to know that if they are disappointed by your business – You’ll be super awesome about it in some way. If you do this right, getting a …

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5 Reasons Why You Should Love Yelp

5 Reasons Why You Should Love Yelp I talk to many business owners who are flat-out afraid of Yelp. They don’t even want their business listed on Yelp. Is that you? This blog post is for you! Forget all the horror stories and fear mongering of Yelp’s past. Yelp has grown up and plays a powerful role in the world of online marketing. If your business is something people are likely searching for on Yelp, it’s time to embrace this monster. Here are 5 reasons why: #1 Yelp ranks on Page 1 Across most every business category and across most every city in America, in searches for “service + city” you’ll find a Yelp page on page 1. Yelp has done an excellent job of creating relevant pages that help people find what they are looking for. TIP – Optimize your business listing with photos, bio, description & history to improve your rankings on Yelp. SECRET – The words and phrases your customers use to write their reviews of your business can contribute to where and how you rank on Yelp AND Google. #2 You can respond publicly & privately to Yelp reviews Yelp reviews are awesome! Reviews are a top ranking factor on Yelp so the more reviews you have on Yelp, the better you will rank on that page that’s on page 1. All reviews contribute to rankings – not just positive ones. Don’t be afraid of reviews – even bad ones! Yelp reviewers can be brutally honest and ruthless. They also tend to be long-winded and opinionated. This can be great for your business! There are a few strategies how to turn negative reviews into a very positive experience for your business. Tip – Think of the ability to interact with your reviewers as an opportunity to provide excellent customer …

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Why Photos of Your Business Matter

Business photos on Google: It Makes a Difference This is what happens when you make great pizza Mike Blumenthal recently posted about an upgrade to photos in the Google My Business dashboard. It’s one of series of recent dashboard upgrades and another indication that Photos could should be a priority for local businesses. The highlight of Mike’s post: “In a recent case study, I found that 70% of web based actions leading to a sale occurred on Google, either in the Knowledge Panel, Maps or the search result. Photos seem to play a huge role in both the first impression and the subsequent user action. Google research has indicated significant click through improvements on listings with photos vs those without: Having great photos is one controllable step that can facilitate that initial client interaction. With this improved interface there is no reason not to take advantage of this bump.” Good Photos Attract Customers While working with Yelp reps last year on a chain of restaurants, I was “encouraged” to add images along with additional attributes. The average image count went from <10 to >80 for each location and we saw a very tangible 20% increase in visibility and clicks in the Yelp business dashboard. More photos appeared to both improve rankings on Yelp and click-through visits & phone calls. The photos added had optimized file names with “keyword + city” (always a good practice) so that may have helped. Your customers can upload their own photos of your business on Yelp and now on Google too. Sometimes those are the best and most engaging images. What Makes a Good Business Photo? The best photos are ones that show interactions of people and your business. Logos and random photos don’t compel anyone to do anything. People want to see humans enjoying themselves in …

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Are Keyword-Rich Domain Names Still a Thing?

Should I Have Keywords in My Domain? Not so long ago, back in mid-2016, I was disappointed to see that many websites were ranking high up on page 1 for no good reason besides their domain was exactly or very closely matched to my search query. The bummer of the past 10+ years that the internet has been flooded by Plumbers switching their business names from “AAAA Plumbing” to “www.plumbersincincinatti.com” and it has worked. Shouldn’t we be beyond this by now? People ask me about this a lot so I actually researched this deeply multiple times in 2016. It was sad, but true – keywords in your domain could make a BIG difference. Then at some point in the Fall of 2016, things changed. My domain name research became confusing and wildly inconsistent. Business owners kept calling to ask if they should switch their domain . My short answer became, “I just don’t know”. Two recent disappointing examples of this are www.acupunctureinboulder.com currently ranking in the middle of page 7 for “acupuncture in boulder” and psychologistssanfrancisco.com with wildly unpredictable rankings relevant phrases. The truth is that this is a big issue that Google has likely been chipping away at for years. And it’s complicated. We’ll leave the advanced technical research of Exact Match Domains (EMDs) and Partial Match Domains (PMDs) to others for now. You can find plenty of that on Google if you ask the right questions. All I know is that the writing has been on the wall (and on lots of blogs) for years now and we can see a sea change happening here. It’s long overdue. Choosing a Domain Name for your Website Yes you want your new website to rank as high as it can, right? Like tomorrow, right? Okay, but what about in 3 years or 5 years and beyond? Putting a new small business …

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