Web Marketing Best Practices for Local Businesses

Trumpet Local Media Blog

Beyond Rankings – Be Unique and Newsworthy

Be Unique & Newsworthy In the little town of Sisters in Central Oregon, I ended up drinking coffee next to Mike, the owner of Hop in the Spa, and before he could tell me his story I stopped him. I already knew all about it. His business had gone viral globally when it opened just 10 months ago. After visiting some cool beer spas in Europe, this daring entrepreneur thought up the really far-out idea to start a beer spa in a town with a population of about 2,500. A year ago people probably thought he was crazy. But he had two things going for him. #1) This would be the first Beer Spa in America. #2) He had a relationship with a big name beer brand – Deschutes Brewery. The Spa opened on Valentine’s day 2016. Absolutely no one could have anticipated what happened next. A super unique concept in a smoking hot industry (craft beer) hit the Home Run button immediately. By the end of February, this business was international news. As marketers for small local businesses, we focus a lot on inbound links to our clients websites. In Google’s world, if other websites link to your website then it must be worthy of that link. The more links you have, the better your website will rank online. When big league websites link to yours then that really means something. Look what happened to Hop in the Spa: Unicorns do Exist! A business could pay a PR Firm $100k and not even come close to this. Seriously, this is a Unicorn. And since this spa is literally two blocks from my home I drive past it every day and I’ve wondered if anyone actually goes in there. Now sitting next to Mike, I asked him how things are going. He’s brimming over with opportunities & potential. Beer Geeks …

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Adding Special Hours on Google Listings

Special Hours on Google Listings Ramblin Jackson just produced a great video about updating holiday hours on Google, and I’m of the opinion that this is super important for all local businesses to do. It’s just good customer service! A year ago, Google was posting alerts in business listings during holidays to let customers know that stated business hours might not be actual hours on those days. And it’s true! Many businesses have reduced hours on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and New Years Eve – but they don’t think to change those hours online. This year, Google empowered businesses to solve this problem by adding special hours for any future date. It’s another awesome improvement to the Google My Business dashboard. And yesterday (Christmas Day) I saw the results of this in action. Is Your Business Open on Christmas Day? Christmas 2016 fell on a Sunday. Sisters Saloon & Ranch Grill is usually open on Sundays serving awesome burgers and Gluten Free sweet potato fries. But they were closed on Christmas, and the owner updated their hours via the Special Hours feature and it’s clearly visible on Google Maps. Way to go Sisters Saloon! Sisters Coffee Company, however, did not add special hours to their listing. They were also closed on Christmas day. (I already knew this since I’m there almost every day). But when I searched on Google Maps, they were listed as OPEN. Despite Google’s best efforts to alert customers that Holiday Hours might be in effect, my guess is that many people drove up to this coffee house only to be disappointed by the sign on the door which listed their Holiday hours. This is a high volume cafe in a city with tons of tourists and out-of-town visitors. People want their coffee! Uh Oh. I don’t blame Sisters Coffee Company. They still …

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Beyond Rankings – Just Be Awesome

Just be AWESOME As web marketers, we can do a lot of things to help your business thrive online and offline, but beyond that, what ultimately creates huge success is up to the managers & owners of the business. If you – and your business – is awesome, then you’ll get online reviews and links to your website. You’ll get word-of-mouth referrals and write ups in the media and mentions on blog posts. And it’s all of these things that contribute to how well you rank on Google and how many visitors convert into customers. If you rank #1 and your customer service is terrible, you’ll likely get negative reviews since you are not meeting your customers expectations. So some of your “marketing budget” should go towards being more awesome. Get off Google’s naughty list and by next Christmas you’ll be ranking better online. Customer service & online reviews only tell part of the story. Being somehow newsworthy, special, unique, or even controversial can generate buzz – both online and offline.  Doing supportive things for the community is one way to be awesome. In Central Oregon, our local Dry Cleaners shop offers free suit cleaning to unemployed job candidates. And while this is actually redeemed infrequently, the spirit of the offer is uplifting. They also clean some local school sports & cheerleader uniforms for free as a way to support the schools. And that’s awesome! And yes they just got a link from this blog. Can you come up with 3 ways to just be awesome in 2017? Please share them here in the comments.

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5 Local Search Predictions for 2017

5 Local Search Predictions for 2017 While still no one has asked me for my input on this years Local Search Ranking Factors, since I’ve been knee deep in Local Search every day for a wide variety of clients nationwide, I have lots of opinions and a few predictions for 2017. For months now there has been a flurry of small changes in the world of Google My Business and those are foreshocks for some major changes we’ll see in 2017. Update: Jack Jostes & I decided to go on record – and on video – with our spoken 2017 local SEO Predictions. Jacks top 5 list has been added to the bottom of the post. #1 Google My Business Rebrand From the “Google Local Business Center” to “Google Places” in 2010, then to the ill-advised “Google+Local” debacle to the current “Google My Business”, name changes and re-branding have been consistent with Google’s business listing platform. Many changes are happening in Google My Business right now. From experimental verification methods to increased support initiatives, to expanded attributes and insights – there’s a lot of emphasis on Google My Business. Expect a new name to roll out along with something really lame new just when most business owners have memorized the current name. #2 New Advertising Opportunity within the Business Dashboard Hoping to get this right this time, there’s a way to capture the small business market with a simple and effective stand-alone advertising option right there in the dashboard. Why else would Google be pushing businesses to “post” more photos, and start “posting directly on Google.” This is them playing catch up to Facebook ads and don’t expect it to succeed. It will launch in a typically blunderific manner, likely merged with….Yep you guessed it – #3 #3 Google+ 2.0 Google+ does have some …

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What is Google Post?

What is Google Post? At 1:06 AM today (a Sunday) I received an email from “The Google Search Team” encouraging urging me to “create content”. I found this intriguing for many reasons. At a glance, the email says, “Now that you’re ready to start publishing, make sure your content has what it takes to grab peoples attention.” Yikes! I wonder what this is? Now at first I simply assumed it was another sneaky tactic to push users into engaging with Google+. I didn’t need or want Google+ the first time it came around and I’m wary that in Google’s tenacious race against Facebook, they will push and push and push until they win. But as I read further, the more perplexed I became. This is something more. Less promotion, more information. If you have a promotion or an event, mention it. But present it as part of a larger conversation—industry insights, audience engagement, etc. Publishing on a regular basis keeps your audience engaged. Also keep in mind that your posts will be live on for only seven days. If you have an upcoming event, publishing about it right before it begins tends to draw more attention. Or use the scheduling feature to create posts ahead of time. Generally, people interact more often with animated GIFs than they do with static images. Boost awareness of your content by sharing it via a link or directly to a third-party service like Twitter or Facebook. This email copy is directed towards business owners. I don’t use this email account for a business listing, it’s just an email account. But I do manage clients using Google tools such as Google My Business and Google Analytics, So I wonder what happens when I click the blue button which leads to https://posts.google.com/author/ Businesses can now publish content directly on …

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Home Businesses Not Supported on Apple Maps

Home Based Businesses Not Supported on Apple Maps We just tried to submit a home based business to Apple Maps. No Bueno!! Looks like it won’t work for any home based business. Many small businesses operate out of homes – Like, millions of businesses. While Google Maps has clearly made Local business listings a focus recently, and even provides support on Twitter, it appears Apple still has no solution for how to handle businesses without a storefront. Hello, Thank you for your interest in Apple Maps. We apologize, but at this time we are only accepting businesses with a retail storefront or commercial location. Thank you for your understanding. Should your business ever transition to a physical location that meets this policy, please reply to this message and let us know. In that case, it is always helpful if you attach a photo from the outside of your business (ideally, with a business sign and some of the surrounding area). A photo of the building directory, including your business listing and the address would also suffice. (By ‘business directory’, we mean the listing that is found at the entrance to an office building, which lists all of the businesses within that office building). We apologize for any inconvenience.  Maps Connect Team

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Do You Use Bing?

Do you use Bing? Earlier this month, I was in the office of a prospective client and I suggested he do a web search. His laptop was right there and so he typed the search into Bing to get a result! I’ve talked with thousands of small business owners in the past 8 years and this marked only the second time that I’ve encountered someone actually using Bing in real life. My next questions: “You use Bing? Wow. You don’t use Google to find things online? Why do you use Bing over Google?” The very slightly defensive answer boiled down to “preference of user experience”. And I suppose we each have the liberty to conduct web searches however we want, but don’t we want the best answers to our queries? Aren’t we looking for the best search results? Don’t most of us use Facebook now instead of Myspace? That’s an awesome comparison actually. What is Bing? Bing is essentially Myspace. Do you use Bing? Do you trust Bing? Do you know anyone who does? If so, please comment because I actually really want to know. In 2011, Bing was famously caught using exact copies of Google search results as it’s own. And even now, their local business listing platform is called “Bing Places for Business”, which is a knock of of “Google Places” from a few years ago. They love to copy the winning team. But I don’t think Google is too worried about it, just as Facebook is not fretting in the rear view mirror at Myspace. My belief is that very few people actually use Bing. And some people might believe they are using Google when in fact, their default search engine is Bing. Every time I analyze Google Analytics for a client I look at where the organic search traffic is coming …

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Customers Can now Add Photos to your Google Reviews!

Google Reviews Now Enable Photos This morning I wrote a review for a business on Google and I was given the option of uploading a photo of the business from my computer or my phone. I don’t recall ever seeing this option before on Google. Is this brand new or was my coffee just really strong this morning? This is something that Yelp has had for years and in the Yelp business dashboard customer photos are listed – and it’s done really well and I’ve always appreciated it. In comparison, this Google version is clunky and almost Windows-like (on a desktop). I have not tried this mobile version yet. Dear Google: Why are you confusing users with the Local Guide and Points options. Why can’t it just be something simple like – Just upload a photo because we want to or we think it’s cool? Um, it almost looks like you are trying to SELL ME SOMETHING. Could this be? The Google Support Page for this mentions that Local Guides can upload photos. Am I a Local Guide? That’s news to me. And they are offering me points? I don’t want any points. Hmmm. At this point in all sales pitches that I’m not interested in or don’t have time, I click “No Thanks”. But what happens if I click “Get Started”? [PREDICTION] Before I do this, I’ll predict that this is a sneaky back door to get people active on Google+ Well, I went back to duplicate my first experience but I’m unable to get back to that screen to “Get Started”… Perhaps it was because I already said “No Thanks”. If anyone else can do this, please let me know. But I did find this: Google+ Pitch #1 – When you click on upload photos from your phone, sure enough they have some …

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Experimental Google Listing Video Verification

Google now offers Video Verification Option via Google Hangouts Last week I was able to verify two tricky business listings on Google – by video! This is a new option that Google is currently testing and it worked beautifully for both locations. Google is investing big time these days in local business support and this video verification option is a very successful addition to their phone support and twitter support options. And it makes sense! They are using their own awesome product to make this happen – Google Hangouts. How Video Verification Works Step 1) I requested phone support for listing Verification via the Google My Business dashboard. I was told to click to request a postcard again, then end the call.  Immediately I received this email from Google. I replied right back saying, “YES” I’d like to proceed and I’m available now. Step 2) I received a call within 2 minutes from Google! They asked me if I was ready now and asked if I had the Google Hangouts App on my phone. Then, the rep sent me this email to begin the hangout. Step 3A) I was informed that I was about to join a video conference that was not private and would be streamed live online on YouTube and other people that I did not know might be watching. They asked very clearly if I wanted to proceed. Step 3B) So the video began with me pointing my phone at the business. They asked to see my face and that was fine with me. They asked me to cross the street so they could get a visual on the street and the building and the sign on the building. Fortunately in this case, this was easy and legit. Then they asked me to walk into the office, I stopped …

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Google My Business Support on Twitter

Google My Business Twitter Support Gone are the days when problems with Google listings were impossible to diagnose and fix. Google offers awesome support these days for business owners. In addition to awesome phone support and even cool new technology like Video Hangout business listing verification, their twitter account is active and very responsive! Here’s where you can interact with Google My Business on Twitter for support: Twitter.com/googlemybiz Increasingly Twitter has become the place to inspire businesses to solve problems. If you’ve had experience with Twitter helping you to get the attention of big companies to solve your individual issues, let us know!

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