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Serious signs of competition between Amazon and Google were first witnessed when the Popular Products feature within Organic Search was rolled out by Google. It enabled retailers to leverage Google’s Merchant Feed and product schemes to get their products highlighted in Organic Search. All the participating retailers got to appear in this feature for free.

 

Google announced this year that due to the financial strain caused by COVID-19, they have sped up their timeline and are now offering businesses free of charge inclusion into Google Shopping that was initially available in the US as of May 1st, later followed by other countries.

 

“Beginning next week, search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google. With hundreds of millions of shopping searches on Google each day, we know that many retailers have the items people need in stock and ready to ship, but are less discoverable online.

 

For retailers, this change means free exposure to millions of people who come to Google every day for their shopping needs. For shoppers, it means more products from more stores, discoverable through the Google Shopping tab. For advertisers, this means paid campaigns can now be augmented with free listings. If you’re an existing user of Merchant Center and Shopping ads, you don’t have to do anything to take advantage of the free listings, and for new users of Merchant Center, we’ll continue working to streamline the onboarding process over the coming weeks and months.”

 

The Google Shopping results will appear to be quite similar to that of organic results, including Paid results at the top/bottom and Organic results in the middle.

 

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Those new to the Merchant Center should know that creating an account will let them feed product details and information directly to Google. You do not have to wait for it to get picked up from your product schema. Additionally, there are a ton of other useful features.

 

Google also announced building ties with various other platforms to further simplify processing sales.

 

“We’re also kicking off a new partnership with PayPal to allow merchants to link their accounts. This will speed up our onboarding process and ensure we’re surfacing the highest quality results for our users. And we’re continuing to work closely with many of our existing partners that help merchants manage their products and inventory, including Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce, to make digital commerce more accessible for businesses of all sizes.”

 

Action Plan – With this permanent change, the opportunity is here to stay. But if you are selling products online, you should definitely make it a point to get started with this as soon as possible. All you will require is a Google Merchant Center account and will have to opt into surfaces across Google in order to show up in the Organic Google Shopping results.

 

Know that product markup will help Google understand your products well for features like Popular Products. So get it done as well.

 

For further guidance, use Google’s Help center page or get in touch with us to get your products listed on Google!

 

 

Questions about Google? Contact us!

 

 

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Google My Business (GMB) has become one of the most significant aspects for local SEOs as well as the one-stop-shop for consumers to know about store hours, closures, services offered, and other relevant information.

 

Shifting Engagement on GMB: Consumer engagement has changed considerably during the pandemic, as shown by the click and call data. With this, online buying behavior has also been impacted.

 

For example, the search query “takeout near me” has spiked way up as compared to those for “restaurant reservations” since at-home orders came into force.

 

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Directions, Clicks, Calls, and Reviews: Although requests for directions have come down considerably since the COVID-19 outbreak, there hasn’t been much of an effect on calls and website visits driven by GMB. According to new data from Reputation.com, “GMB driving-direction clicks are down 60% across all verticals.” Website clicks and calls have decreased by 31% & 21%, respectively.

 

When it comes to GMB, Reputation.com reports a notable decline in retail, restaurant, and automotive industry but also a modest recovery in consumer engagement. This could very well be the catalyst in online shopping and e-commerce spending driven by stimulus checks and by the thought that we’re almost at the end of the lockdown period.

 

Being hit by the pandemic, Google had stopped publishing new comments from users & replies from business owners until now. Reviews are making their way back in, and it will be interesting to see if and how the patterns have changed amid the lockdown.

 

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Post-COVID, GMB will continue to be a local business lifeline: As businesses reopen, local marketers can once again turn to GMB for operating hours, products, and service availability. GMB could emerge more powerful than ever post COVID-19 with local features such as posts that allow businesses to communicate seamlessly have a high chance of gaining wider adoption and prominence, with Google possibly accelerating the rollout of other tools in the pipeline.

 

According to a survey by BrightLocal, 68% of local marketing experts said GMB was more crucial at this time than it was a year ago. Even Moz’s recent Local Ranking Factors study concluded that the top-ranking factor for Google Local Pack and #4 for local SEO is GMB signals. Another survey by BrightLocal concluded that 87% of local marketers considered growing reviews to be the most important to local marketing success.

 

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Not to forget the fake reviews problem faced by Google, fighting spam (fake listings, illegitimate reviews) on Google was #2 to local marketing success.

 

Why It Matters: Get ready to experience a huge evolution of GMB. Local search will be redefined and will not be limited to using tools and information to make purchase decisions offline. GMB is no longer just a way to get content to Google but rather a dynamic channel streamlining transactions between consumers and business owners.

 

There will be a much tighter integration of digital tools such as inventory, booking, ordering, and payments with offline fulfillment post-COVID. TheOrderingApp.com and Pointy are examples of how Google is trying to bridge the gap between digital and offline operations while being a trusted, back-office-like platform for local businesses.

 

Do You Have Questions About Google My Business? Ask Us!

 

 

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The COVID-19 outbreak has forced people world over to stay home and this has made all kinds of businesses realize that their websites just became 10 times more important. During this time, upgrading your business’s digital presence is more vital than ever before.

 

The smallest of changes can yield big results. Keeping this in mind, we bring to you a list of some pretty solid ideas to take your digital presence up a notch.

 

  • Look for ways to improve your website’s loading speed.
  • Identify the most frequently visited pages on your website and see if you can improve the content, add videos, etc. to help with conversion.
  • Create and upload explanation videos for your products and/or services.
  • Upload useful blogs on a regular basis.
  • Add more visually attractive elements to your website such as infographics.
  • If possible, project case studies that will help users to better understand your products and/or services.
  • Try and see if you can create a converting landing page for your products and/or services.
  • Convert all your PDF forms to digital and if possible, add signature service as well.
  • See if you can add a Review widget to your website.
  • Consider going the eCommerce way.
  • Shipping automation can be of great help.
  • Take measures to strengthen website security.
  • Backup your website.
  • Ensure all the website/plugins issues, that have been on the backburner so far, are resolved immediately.
  • Integrate all your current systems, including CRM, ERP, Forms, Shipping, etc.
  • Update the Careers page on your website, and if you still don’t have one, add it!
  • Come up with a contest for your users or offer giveaways.
  • If possible, add a giveaway pop-up or email form.
  • Add detailed, searchable FAQ to your website.
  • If you have a WordPress website, it better be on a managed platform.
  • Look into WordPress site speed optimization.

 

Final Takeaway

This is the perfect time for you to go for all the digital upgrades that have been taking a backseat because you were so busy with other aspects of your business. In order to ensure your business survives the pandemic, update your digital presence to make your business as a success!

 

 

Are you getting the best return out of your digital marketing? Need an extra pair of eyes to review your online game plan? Let our experts take a look at your current state and do a comprehensive digital marketing analysis at no cost to you. Please call us at (800) 379-2829 or contact us today and we will get to work right away.

 

 

Before you can fully grasp why review management is essential for business, you must understand the nature of online reviews themselves.

It’s no secret that online reviews are more important today than they’ve ever been.

We live in an influencer society where the opinions of a select few individuals essentially define what’s in or what’s out.

On a smaller scale, online customer reviews are also extremely influential. When the positive reviews start racking up, your brand experiences positive effects.

When you let those negative reviews sit around without being addressed, you send a message to the world telling consumers to steer clear of you.

With a proper review management system, you get to take control of the narrative. It allows you to personalize the way the world sees your business.

 

The Reality

For better or for worse, it seems that the customer is always right. When your business does something well, you want the whole world to hear about it.

For some reason or another however, customers are not always inclined to share positive reviews online for the rest of the world to see.

These reasons range from simply forgetting to do so, to finding it too difficult to do so, to never even thinking to do so.

For example, a customer can order a pair of shoes from your website that they absolutely adore. They might wear the shoes every single day for a year and tell everyone in their circle how much they love them.

The customer might feel like they’re checking all the appreciation boxes by wearing the shoes all the time and speaking highly of them to their friends.

As a result, they don’t ever consider leaving a positive review online.

 

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While you may appreciate how this customer is a big fan of your shoes, it’d be far more beneficial for your business if the customer took to the Internet to voice their pleasure through online reviews.

Essentially, your business could be doing everything right to please customers but unless customers share the good news online, you will not reap the full benefits.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? In this case, it does not.

On the other hand, customers seem to have no problem letting the world know about unpleasant experiences they have with companies.

One unhappy customer who posts a negative review about your business online is more influential than 10 happy customers who post no review at all.

A great review management software system makes it easy for business owners to reach out and thank customers for their positive feedback.

It also makes it easy for business owners to communicate with customers who leave negative reviews and attempt to make amends with them.

Although dealing with unhappy customers can be as enjoyable as getting teeth pulled, doing so lets the world know that your business truly cares about making things right with customers.

 

The Gameplan

To keep things simple, you want to maximize the number of customers leaving positive online reviews about your business while minimizing the number of customers leaving negative reviews.

If you’re operating your business the right way, you should have no trouble creating happy customers.

The last steps towards generating those coveted positive reviews are friendly reminders for customers to leave feedback.

So when you send customers order, shipping, and delivery confirmations, make sure to give them the option to leave feedback about your business.

Keep in mind that a lack of positive reviews online does not necessarily indicate a lack of happy customers.

As we discussed earlier, many satisfied customers fail to leave positive reviews for one reason or another. The importance of these positive reviews cannot be stressed enough.

The eCommerce Foundation says that 88% of consumers do research before buying a product or service. Consumers prioritize the opinions of those who have already purchased a product or service in the past above all else.

That’s right, you can conjure up the most well-written, mouth-watering product description of all time and still have it take a backseat to the customer reviews.

 

Dealing With Customers

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to please every single customer. Your business can do all that it can to keep customers happy, but there will always be those customers that have a problem.

When these unsatisfied customers take to the internet to express their grievances, it can have an adverse effect on business.

The goal of review management software is by no means to suppress the opinions of customers. In fact, negative reviews play an important part in maintaining a fair and honest online market.

 

review management

 

Negative customer reviews help potential customers by either reaffirming their doubts about a product or service or raising awareness about problems that may arise with a product or service.

Negative feedback also highlights areas where businesses need to improve.

Let’s say that your pizza joint has been working tirelessly for years trying to perfect the cheese to marinara sauce ratio.

Every single employee in the establishment knows the exact amount of cheese required for each pizza along with the perfect way to evenly distribute the marinara sauce.

While you’re sure that all the pizzas served to customers are meticulously crafted, one customer gets online and has the audacity to say that the pizza he received was far too saucy and lacked cheese.

In his exact words he states, “It would have been nice to get a pizza with my sauce.”

For your pizza joint, a comment like this is pure blasphemy. Every part of you may want to sound off on this customer and give him a piece of your mind.

You might also consider just ignoring him altogether. While these choices might make you feel better, the correct choice is to direct the issue as soon as possible.

From your company account, reach out and apologize to the customer for his dissatisfaction with your pizza.

Inform him about the effort that your company puts into every pizza they make and assure him that the next time he visits the shop, he’s guaranteed to have a better experience.

No matter how popular and successful your business gets, always remember to appreciate your customers.

When someone takes time out of their day to leave a positive review about your business, make sure to let them know that you value their feedback.

Customers will be delighted to hear from their favorite companies and responding to reviews goes a long way towards establishing a network of brand ambassadors.

 

Insights

Reviews give businesses a clear idea of what customers expect from them. Understanding customer expectations sounds pretty straightforward, but businesses are often caught off guard by the demands of customers.

Some customers are picky and pretentious, but that’s not always a bad thing. Maintaining perspective and keeping a level head is key.

When you really think about it, these are the customers that raise the bar for business practices. If a business can please the most demanding customers out there, they can please anyone.

When going above and beyond becomes the new norm, you know that your business is headed in the right direction.

It’s also very important to respond to feedback, especially negative feedback, in a timely fashion.

As a brand, you never want to appear to be too busy for the customers. Always be genuine with your responses and make sure to address the root of the problem. Avoid making remarks that deflect blame and alienate the customer.

Humbly take the criticism in stride while assuring the customer that you’ll get it right next time.

 

Conclusion

Now that we have a better grasp on why reviews themselves are important, it’s easy to understand why staying on top of them is imperative for the livelihood of your business.

If you let positive reviews linger around without responses, customers begin to feel like they’re singing praises straight into the void.

In other words, they’ll lose any motivation they may have had to continue leaving positive feedback.

If you leave negative reviews unattended, not only are you sending a message to the customers who left the reviews that you don’t care about their concerns, you’re also sending a message to the world that you don’t care enough or are flat out unable to make things right with customers.

Consider implementing a review management software to ensure that your business remains in touch with the voice of your customers.

 

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Yes, there are uncalled times. As the global economy reels from the impact of COVID-19, many SMB’s are forced to ask tough questions and make tough decisions concerning the future of their business.

 

Yes, businesses are going to struggle for a while amid the COVID-19 crisis. But the reality is – businesses can thrive in downtimes. And many of the successful ones will choose to invest in online marketing.

 

From our experience of two major crashes (the 2000 dotcom crash and the 2008 real estate crash), we can tell you that the best time to double down is when others are not.

 

As Warren Buffet once famously quoted – “Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful”

 

With more people working from home, consumers are relying on the Internet more than ever. In fact, even during a quarantine, people rely on Google search to look for services and products. This means businesses will still require digital marketing to keep up with the demand.

 

All we can say is – Now is the time for social distancing, not forgetting about digital marketing.

 

In fact, during this outbreak, companies like Google and Facebook are offering millions in Ad Credits to keep businesses afloat. Google has offered USD 340M in ad credits (a part of a larger USD 800M+ commitment). On the other hand, Facebook has promised USD 100M in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses. You should try and see if you qualify for this and can utilize these great offers. Not just big companies but even small businesses are offering great deals and offers to help their clients tide over this crisis. Think of potential ideas/offers for your clients. Also, renegotiate with all your vendors to see how they can help you in these troubled times.

 

Eventually, COVID-19 will end and things will normalize. The US may have a few weeks left to ride out before the Coronavirus is no longer a threat. Once life returns to normal, the need for law firms, doctors, home services, and other businesses will fully resume. Others like restaurants will have to adapt to more online orders via website or food delivery apps.

 

The demand for essential goods and food has also skyrocketed and businesses like Walmart, Instacart, Amazon, Dominos, and others are hiring like crazy (more than 300K people) to keep up.

 

The key here is not to press the panic button now and make a knee-jerk decision that might hurt your business. One such rash decision could be to halt your digital marketing efforts.

 

We know investing in digital marketing could be intimidating during this time. But, by continuing your marketing efforts now, you are more likely to have an established presence when this uncertainty comes to end. Thus, your return on investment will be bigger by acting now.

 

Questions about Digital Marketing? Talk To Us.

 

 

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Businesses of all kinds have taken a toll during the unprecedented COVID-19 situation across the globe. As countries get into lockdown and maintain social distancing to control the spread of the virus, the effects have started to show on Google too! Therefore, a new set of guidelines were introduced for how Google My Business’ Support Team would work during these hard times.

 

Following are the changes announced:

 

Google has taken steps to ensure the health and safety of its team during COVID-19 by reducing the need of people in their office:

 

  • Temporary limitations on Google My Business.
  • Critical services will be prioritized and could lead to a delay in customer support.

 

Google is currently focused on providing quality, reliable, and relevant information on Google Search and Maps. The company is dedicated to providing users the ease of access to communicate with businesses to know about vital features such as operating hours, special hours, and more. During such testing times, learn the best practices for affected business and what you can do to keep your customers updated at all times.

 

The temporary product changes made by Google are:

 

  1. Business Information edits

High priority will be on reviews for edits critical to health-related businesses. Also, reviews will be prioritized for open & closed states, special hours, temporary closure, business description, and business attributes edits for other verified businesses.

 

  1. New Listings, Claims, and Verifications

All new listings, claims, and verifications will be manually reviewed by our support team for critical health-related businesses. Due to the priority given to such critical services, there will be a delay in publishing new listings, claims, and verifications on Google Search and Maps for other businesses.

 

  1. Reviews and Q&A

New reviews, replies, and Q&A will not be available during this time.

 

Note: You can now mark your business as “temporarily closed” – a new addition to their system that is being used widely all over the world. Google has also stated that moving your status to temporarily closed will not have any negative impact on your listing.

 

Our Take:

The world is going through testing times right now, and Google has done a great job with their temporary changes as they restrict users from leaving negative reviews due to closure, cancellations, etc.

 

In fact, businesses can ask customers to leave reviews directly, making it easy to grow their in-house reviews that can later be marked up with Structured Data.

 

Do You Have Questions About Google My Business? Contact Us!

 

 

heading 3

 

During these unprecedented times, Google is benevolently offering support to the SMB community nationwide in response to COVID-19. Being a Google Partner, we are happy to inform you that Google is committing over $800 Million in Ads Grant money to help alleviate some of the cost for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to stay in touch with their customers during this challenging time.

 

The $800+ Million in Google Ads Grants includes:

 

  • $340 million in Google Ads credits to ALL small and mid-sized businesses with active accounts since Jan 2019. These credits can be used until the end of 2020.
  • $250 million in ad grants for the World Health Organization (WHO) & hundreds of government agencies.
  • $200 million in support for NGOs and financial institutions that are needed to provide access to capital for small businesses.
  • $15 million in cash grants for Non-Profit Organizations from Google.org
  • $20 million in Google Cloud credits for academic institutions and researchers
  • Additional direct financial support for manufacturers of products and services that are critical to the nation during this time.

 

We’re here to help our partners, businesses, and health organizations secure these Google Grants to ensure your operations stay up and running at this time.

 

Do not miss out on this opportunity!

 

Reach out to our team to understand how you can avail these Ads credits, or if we can assist your business during this crisis.

 

Questions about Google? Contact us!

 

 

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The COVID-19 outbreak has severely impacted the global economy, including small businesses. Considering this, Facebook has promised to reward $100 million in cash grants to 30,000 businesses across the world.

 

“Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries where we operate. We’ll share more details as they become available.”

 

How to apply?

 

For more information on the grants process and/or to fill in the application visit this page, scroll down and click the ‘Sign up for updates’ button.

 

You can also check out some amazing tools and checklists that your business could leverage at the new Facebook COVID-19 resource hub.

 

Here’s a resilience toolkit with the best practices, tools and a self-assessment to help protect your business from interruptions. And a quick action guide to help minimize downtime and develop plans for emergency response.

 

Also, communicating with customers may be disruptive in this situation. Using these customer service resources you can learn how to quickly provide your customers with relevant support.

 

Question about Facebook? Let’s Talk!

 

 

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In an effort to extend support to the local businesses that are most impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, specifically the independent restaurants and nightlife industry-related businesses, Yelp has announced a special ‘Relief Program’. On 20th March 2020, Yelp declared that they will be offering affected local businesses $25M worth of free services.

 

How the Relief Program will help

 

Since independent local restaurants and nightlife businesses are the ones who’ve been most affected by the coronavirus outbreak, Yelp will support them by waiving advertising fees and offering free advertising, products and services.

 

Restaurants and nightlife businesses that remain open during this time will receive free access to Yelp page upgrades. The idea is to allow these businesses to quickly and effectively communicate important information to their customers through Business Highlights, Call to Action and Connect. It has also been decided that the restaurants will be given free access to Yelp Reservations and Waitlist for 3 months.

 

$100 in free search advertising will be provided to restaurant clients that offer delivery and/or take out services. Yelp will also be extending support to local independent advertisers in other categories, who are currently finding it difficult to pay their bills.

 

What you need to do

 

The best part about this is that the relief program is not just limited to businesses with an active Yelp advertising account. If your business falls in any of the above categories, the best thing for you to do is to check out the specifications of this program and see whether you are eligible.

 

Even if your business is not a part of the above-mentioned industries but you still think that Yelp can help you out in some way, then we recommend you reach out to them with your ideas. Since it’s quite clear that Yelp wants to help the businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19, they may be receptive to your ideas.

 

 

Are you getting the best return out of your digital marketing? Need an extra pair of eyes to review your online game plan? Let our experts take a look at your current state and do a comprehensive digital marketing analysis at no cost to you. Please call us at (800) 379-2829 or contact us today and we will get to work right away.

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Google is issuing notices, through Google Search Console, to sites with mobile-first indexing issues. Google communicates issues it faces while moving the sites over to mobile-first indexing through emails. These emails also say, “Google expects to apply mobile-first indexing to all websites in the next six to twelve months.” Have a look at the screenshot that says, “mobile-first indexing issues detected.”

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In a recent announcement, Google has now confirmed that it will completely switch over to mobile-first indexing for all websites by September this year.

Mobile-first indexing was first introduced by Google in November 2016 and by December 2018, half of the sites in Google’s search results were from mobile-first indexing. It means that Google crawls websites from the eyes of a mobile-browser and uses that mobile version indexing and ranking.

The prime reason why Google sends these emails to sites that are not yet moved to mobile-first indexing is to advise them on what needs to be done in order to become mobile-first indexing ready.

 

Our take on this:

When you receive any such notice, you should read it and take needed action. Failing to do so might impact the indexing and ranking of your web pages in Google. As always, if you need any assistance with making your website mobile-ready, we are ready to help!

 

Do You Have Questions About Google Search Console? Ask Us!

 

 

heading 2

There was some discussion on Twitter last month about an update in the Help Center that suggested that the description field in Google My Business played a part in helping you rank better.

We tested it ourselves and found that the description field has ZERO impact on your ranking in the 3-Pack. And this is how it should be; because if Google makes ranking a cakewalk, the results would be nothing short of mediocre, and that would be bad for both Google and its users.

The document said the following:

mobile-first

We got in touch with Google to bring misleading information to light, and a day later, the part at the top was removed. The removed excerpt was:

“Think about the words customers would type to find your business, and make sure that your listing actually includes those keywords within it.”

The new and updated text read:

mobile-first

Our take on this:

Although the information is still unclear and misleading, we are sure Google will keep updating to give a clear understanding that using a ton of keywords is not the way to improve rankings.

 

Grade Your Website

 

 

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What is Scraped Content?

Scraped Content is the content that is copied from other places on the web and pasted on a particular website as if it belongs to the site owner. For well over 15 years, scraping has been predominantly active.

Heart of the Matter

Recently, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst – John Mueller said on Twitter that he wouldn’t lose sleep over people scraping copyrighted content. He wrote, “there’s a lot of scraped content out there which has minimal visibility, it’s not always worth losing sleep over it.”

John tweeted the following:

mobile-first

Our Observation:

Many times when websites publish their articles, it is scraped almost within seconds. Such scraping is automated scraping, the rest use it for articles and newsletters, days later. Scrapping happens, and it is normal. People do copy and paste.

Back in 2011, Matt Cutts shared a video on Stolen Content Outranking You. Later in 2013, we understood that if you get penalized, then it is possible that Google may rank the stolen content above your original work.

 

Question about social media? Let’s Talk!

 

 

heading 4

Bing Webmaster Tools, which were often reported to be slow and outdated, just got a serious upgrade. The new and improved Bing Webmaster Tools portal, which was earlier released to a select group of users, was set to be made accessible to all users by the first week of March 2020.

The Idea Behind This New Development

According to Bing’s blog post, the backend datastore has been updated to improve data extraction and the user experience has been redesigned in an effort to make it more intuitive and user-friendly. Moreover, it states that the portal’s responsive design offers users the flexibility to access it across devices.

mobile-first

In their words, “The refreshed portal is being built with key principles of keeping the design Cleaner and Responsive with Faster and more Accessible tools.”

 

Key Features of the Upgraded Webmaster Tools Portal

The new portal is said to have 3 key features:

  1. Backlinks – The new Backlinks report that features in the refreshed portal is the Inbound Links report integrated with the Disavow links tool.

 

  1. Search Performance – Page Traffic and Search Keywords reports have integrated to become the new Search Performance report.

 

  1. Sitemaps – The new Sitemaps page is the refreshed version of the previous Sitemaps page.

 

Final Takeaway

Now would be the best time to get familiar with the new portal. It is being said that it will only be a few weeks before they start deprecating the functionality from the old portal. Users that use webmaster APIs to get data programmatically, can continue doing so as the Webmaster APIs will remain as-is.

Bing invites users to leave their feedback on Twitter and Facebook, and raise a service ticket with their support team, in case they encounter any issues with the new portal.

 

Do You Have Questions About Bing? Contact Us!

 

 

Are you getting the best return out of your digital marketing? Need an extra pair of eyes to review your online game plan? Let our experts take a look at your current state and do a comprehensive digital marketing analysis at no cost to you. Please call us at (800) 379-2829 or contact us today and we will get to work right away.

Digital marketing is all about using modern tools and social platforms to send targeted messages to audiences that benefit your business.

However, it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

For newbies in the world of digital marketing, it’s overwhelming to learn thousands of tactics, guidelines, and a bunch of information on how to scale a business.

For that exact reason, you will learn here the top 3 digital marketing strategies that thousands of successful businesses are applying to keep growing their profits.

Digital-Marketing

 

The Proven 3 Strategies to Succeed with Digital Marketing

The Cambridge dictionary defines strategy as a “detailed plan for achieving success in situations such as war, politics, business, industry, or sport, or the skill of planning for such situations”

With this definition in mind, the top 3 digital marketing strategies become the top 3 detailed plans for your success.

 

#1. Build your foundations

Whether you’re starting your business or have been around in a while, the first step of growth is to build strong foundations.

Having an online presence is not enough if you don’t know what to do after you create your business online profiles.

You must create a website that converts and social media channels that reduce the communication gap between your company and potential clients – These will be your foundations.

If you already have an online presence, your strategy will be all about optimizing and strengthen those foundations.

In any case, you should pay attention to the following tips that will help you have a solid basement for your business:

 

  • Build a website that is SEO optimized and that adds value to your customers by satisfying their search intent. SEO  is hard to ignore SEO when you discover that it has been reported that 67 thousand searches are performed on Google every second and 93% of all online experiences begin on a search engine.
  • Create social media profiles ONLY if you have the resources to keep your different audiences engaged with your brand.
  • Optimize your social media profiles by adding accurate information that is helpful to potential clients and great visual elements that strengthen your brand identity. According to reports, social media plays an important role in businesses because they set up their presence on platforms where people spend an average of 3 hours per day. Besides, 73% of marketers believe that social media has proved to get results.
  • Build a sales funnel that helps customers to make decisions faster.

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Once you have worked to enhance all the aspects listed above, you will notice a considerable improvement in your numbers.

Take into account that SEO and Social Media are middle and long-term strategies. They take time to help you become an authority in your industry.

For that reason, the following strategy is to help you get results in the short run.

You may be thinking about why we listed as the first step a long-term strategy and not a short-term one. – It’s a valid point.

However, having a sustainable business requires a combination of short, mid, and long-term strategies. And, you will never go so far without implementing the tips provided in step one.

 

#2. Be ready to build your ads

Promoting your business using social media ads and search ads provide results almost immediately when done right.

The best part of using digital ads is that you can optimize several relevant factors to help you show your ads to people who are more likely to buy from you.

For example, if you decide to start advertising on Facebook, you will have the ability to segment your audience by age, location, gender, behavior, tastes, and more.

In the case of search ads, you will use a different method to show your ads.

Google uses a Keyword Method. This means that you can set up your campaign to show your ads only when people search using specific queries.

For instance, if you have a shoe store, you can target people searching “best shoes to workout” or “shoe stores near me.”

As you may notice, those two tactics can help you grow your leads database very fast.

If you want to grow your business fast, digital ads will be a valuable resource for you.

ads

 

#3. Work your online Authority and Reputation

So far, you have learned the 2 digital strategies that will set up the base of your online success.

However, there’s a third strategy that many times its ignored.

That’s building your authority and reputation within your industry.

If you become an authority, you will have more probabilities of increasing sales as people will associate your brand name with high-quality products or services.

Now, to build your online reputation, you can choose among several different tactics that have been tested by hundreds of businesses worldwide.

The first tactic is to invest in content creation.

Content marketing has become one of the top priorities for new businesses in 2020. The reason is that great content adds value to your audience and attract more qualified prospects for your business.

When you think about content marketing, think about all the variety of formats that can help you achieve your goals. For instance, you can choose to produce videos, articles, case studies, software tools, e-books, and more.

The second tactic is to partner with another company in your niche.

Making a partnership to host an event or produce content can help you reach people you don’t usually target.

In other words, you can be advertising your brand on your partner’s audience.

The third tactic to build your reputation is to implement a link building strategy.

Building links to your website means that you create campaigns that will influence other companies, bloggers, influencers, and more people who publish content on their websites.

In simple words, it is like if you’re getting recommendations from other websites.

You can also get published on sites like Forbes, Entrepreneur.com, or any other great platforms that usually obtain traffic from search engines, so your name is presented to a wider audience.

 

Finally, there’s still a fourth strategy that will enhance the perception that customers have about you.

According to Search Engine Journal, 92% of young customers trust reviews. Also, the same report mentions that customers look for companies with at least 40 reviews to make a purchase.

For instance, if you want to grow your business, you need to start encouraging current customers to leave you a review. But most importantly, you need to start monitoring and managing online reviews as you keep growing your company.

online-reputation-management

 

Are You Ready to Scale Your Business with Digital Marketing?

Growing your business is a process that requires commitment.

In the digital world, you will find many tools and techniques that give results.

But, by implementing the strategies discussed in this article, you can scale your business using strategies that work for the short and long-term.

 

 

Are you getting the best return out of your digital marketing? Need an extra pair of eyes to review your online game plan? Let our experts take a look at your current state and do a comprehensive digital marketing analysis at no cost to you. Please call us at (800) 379-2829 or contact us today and we will get to work right away.

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The beginning of the new decade and the new year saw another major core update from Google as the “January 2020 Core Update.” This core update began on 13th January and continued to roll out till a few weeks later. Google shared the update via Twitter, in a fashion similar to what we have seen for all the previous Core Updates.

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Google also included a link in their tweet to an August 2019 blog post that gives a better understanding of their Core Updates.

A simple example would be, the top results for “Best Movies to watch” in 2018 may or may not be the same in 2020. This does not mean that the top movies in 2018 weren’t good, it just means that newer or more relevant, resonating content features higher on the list.

 

Actionable Strategy

Evaluate your website content to see if your site has taken a toll following the core update. FYI, we didn’t see any negative impact on our client websites.

 

Some things to keep in mind before evaluating your website:

Content and Quality

  • The content must provide original information, reporting, research, and analysis.
  • It must also provide a considerable, complete, and thorough description of the topic.
  • It must include any insightful analysis or interesting information beyond the ordinary.
  • In case the content is drawn from an external source, avoid copying and rewriting. Always make sure the content you post has ample additional value and originality.
  • The headline and/or page title must provide an in-detail, helpful summary of the content.
  • Avoid exaggerating and trying to sound shocking when it comes to your headlines and/or page titles.
  • Ask yourself whether the page is worth bookmarking, or even sharing/recommending it to a friend.

 

Expertise

  • Always make sure your content has clear sourcing, highlights evidence of the expertise involved, and gives the background of the site that publishes the content or about the author.
  • Make sure to get your content written from an expert or enthusiast who is well-versed with the topic.
  • Also, make sure that your content is free from factual errors.
  • The content you publish must resonate with others, leading them to trust your content.

 

Presentation and Production

  • Never publish or produce content that appears mediocre or content that has been created in a hurry.
  • A basic but essential tip is to always keep your content free from spelling or stylistic issues.
  • Make sure that the ads published on your page do not exceed and cover the content as that would lead to distraction.
  • Your content must be mobile optimized!

 

Comparative Value

  • Your content must provide substantial value if/when compared to the other pages that appear in search results.
  • Never play the guessing game, the ranking comes when your website visitors can resonate with you. Hence, produce content that serves the interest of your clients.

 

Do You Have Questions About Your Google Rankings? Ask Us!

 

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Recently, Ignite Visibility conducted a survey to find out what searchers generally look for in search results and what are the factors that influence their decision to click. They analyzed over 500 searchers, aged 25-60 years, and found that meta description, brand name and page title have the most influence on whether or not users click through on a search result.

 

Meta descriptions emerge clear winners

The study showed that 62.9% of the participants claimed that it was the meta descriptions that had the largest influence on their decision to click. 24.2% of the respondents admitted that the brand name is more important to them, whereas 13% said it is the page title that acts as the deciding factor. Ironically, 55.1% of the searchers admitted to clicking only on the brands that they had heard of.

 

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Turns out, ads in the search results are not really appreciated

66.7%, i.e. two-thirds of the respondents, said that the increasing number of ads in Google’s search results makes them want to use the search engine less. These findings contradict the studies that were conducted in December 2018, which showed that 75% of the searchers claimed the ads made it easier for them to find the information they needed.

 

Majority of the users agreed that the search results have improved

Around 58.5% of the participants said that they prefer Google search results as they are now as compared to how they were in January 2019. Similarly, about 55.5% of the respondents said that by including featured snippets and other SERP features Google has improved its search results.

 

Final Takeaway

This survey has shed a light on why it is so important to write powerful meta descriptions. Especially, since Google now holds the right to decide whether your description is apt enough or a more accurate one can be taken directly from the page’s content.

Also, as per this study, even though brand recognition takes the second place, when it comes to influencing the clickthroughs, building brand awareness is essential to gain and capitalize on organic visibility.

Furthermore, considering that the searchers prefer the modern search result pages and features, brands must adapt to regain visibility. One way to do so is by designing content keeping in mind rich results.

 

FREE INSTANT SEO Audit Of Your Website

 

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A new tool named the removals tool has been launched by Google within the new Google Search Console. It helps you out with several things, including, temporarily blocking search results from your site and managing SafeSearch filtering.

 

You can access the tool here – https://search.google.com/search-console/removals

 

This Google help document should help you in case you have any further queries.

 

Temporary Removal of URLs

With the help of this tool, you can request temporary removal of specific URLs, on verified sites. There are two types of removal requests available.

 

  1. Temporarily Remove URL – This request will hide the URL from Google Search results for about 6 months and clear the cached copy of the page.

 

  1. Clear Cached URL – With this request, the cached page of the URL will be cleared and the page description snippet in Search results will be wiped out, till the time the page is crawled again.

 

Here are a couple of screenshots to help you understand better:

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Outdated Content Section

All the information regarding the removal requests made using the public Remove Outdated Content tool can be viewed in the Outdated content section.

Anybody will be able to use the provided information to update search results showing information no longer available on the page.

Have a look at this screenshot:

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SafeSearch Filtering

To debug SafeSearch is often a task for SEOs and Webmasters. This tool will quickly help you see whether your content got blocked as a result of being tagged as adult.

“The SafeSearch filtering section in Search Console shows a history of pages on your site that were reported by Google users as adult content using the SafeSearch Suggestion tool. URLs submitted using this tool are reviewed, and if Google feels that this content should be filtered from SafeSearch results, these URLs are tagged as adult content.” Google said.

Here’s a screenshot:

google search console

 

Is your Online Listing up to date? Find out your Visibility Score today

 

heading 4

Fake reviews are not new and have been around for quite a while, causing various businesses and online marketers to suffer. It also makes it difficult for customers to trust reviews that influence their buying decisions.

As times have progressed, businesses seem to have found new ways for bending the rules to rank high and drive sales on Google Search. The New York Times first brought this to light in 2016 with a report on a plethora of fake locksmith listings. Recently, the same locksmith review problems were reported by the CBC in Canada. The downside is that the fake review problem has made its way to almost all types of businesses.

In order to curb and put an end to fake reviews, Yelp recently started labeling some of the offending businesses with the following “Badge Of Shame”.

suspicious

This move from Yelp comes at the right time as more and more instances of fake reviews have come to the surface, compromising the very foundation of genuine customer reviews. For example, a simple Google search for “Where can I buy Yelp five star reviews?” lists down multiple results that provide these fake review services for a price.

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Actionable Strategy

Note that Yelp is doing its best to fight back fake reviews and if your business is dependent on a good listing in Yelp (or even if it is not), always avoid using fake reviews because failing to do so considerably raises the risk of being given a “Badge of Shame” from Yelp.

If you want to get genuine reviews on Yelp, do consider our review widget – which gives you a chance to get positive reviews on Google and Yelp from real customers. Positive reviews get featured on your website too. Get in touch with us for more info.

 

Scan Your Reviews & Check Your Online Reputation Score

 

heading 5

Here’s a collection of what’s happened in the Pay Per Click world in the last month.

 

 

Are you getting the best return out of your digital marketing? Need an extra pair of eyes to review your online game plan? Let our experts take a look at your current state and do a comprehensive digital marketing analysis at no cost to you. Please call us at (800) 379-2829 or contact us today and we will get to work right away.

Managing your online reputation is one of the most important things your business needs to maximize performance and counteract certain conversations that are bound to harm the image and sales of your business.

Taking certain measures in the form of various strategies and techniques will help you generate more positive content and make it appear higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).

What you need to keep in mind is that while online reputation management (ORM) aims at maximizing the visibility of your positive content and boosting the image of your business, it also acts as a sort of preventive measure that shows you how to handle negative customer feedback and what you need to do to avoid negative customer experiences.

So, keep on reading to find out what you need to do to enhance your online reputation and promote your growth.

 

1. Encourage Online Reviews

The power of reviews is immense. After all, statistics show that 76% of consumers trust them as much as recommendations from people they know.

As a powerful form of electronic word-of-mouth marketing, leveraging online reviews is your secret weapon to promote your business in the most cost-efficient way.

Concerning positive feedback, your business can really benefit from it since it will show you what works within your operations.

However, negative feedback is inevitable but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world.

If you think about it, getting negative reviews will help you understand your customers and what got into the way of delivering amazing customer experiences.

Whether good or bad, finding a way to ask your customers for their valuable opinion is your golden ticket to collect customer feedback and use it in a way that will enhance the performance of your business.

The easiest and most cost-effective way to do that is through email marketing.

To get started, you simply need to find an amazing email marketing platform to give you the right tools to create amazing emails that will incentivize your audience to write a review about their latest purchase or your services.

If you haven’t already leveraged the power of email marketing, there are numerous Constant Contact competitors out there that can give you access to an amazing email editor and marketing automation to help you collect reviews and get one step closer to mastering online reputation management.

Here’s a great example from Lyft:

lyft

Do You Know Your Online Review Score! Check It Now!

 

2. Use Social Listening

Managing your online reputation is all about tracking mentions of your business through various social media platforms.

This practice is commonly known as social listening, a tactic that will let you track and analyze customer feedback and show you what they think about your brand and your products.

For instance, if a consumer starts to spread negative content around Instagram or comments on your posts and Facebook ads, then you need to be the first to know about it.

Letting such comments get out of hand without you intervening and offering insight can lead to controversies and, depending on the nature of the content, harm your online reputation.

So, finding and responding to negative comments and complaints is the best way to manage and prevent their negative impact.

At the same time, tracking and discovering positive comments will give you fresh user-generated content that you can acknowledge and redistribute across your social media channels to boost your online reputation and improve lead generation.

 

Question about social media? Let’s Talk!

 

3. Take Advantage of ORM Services

Taking control of your online business reputation can be a difficult task, especially when you have a strong business presence and a massive target audience.

As experience has shown us, the wrong comment or reply can create a large volume of negative responses that will pinpoint the negative aspects of your company.

While you might think that things like this can easily be forgotten, time can’t heal your brand reputation without you taking action.

Poor online reputation caused either by an unfortunate social media comment or poor customer service can be a major deal-breaker that will affect your sales and have a negative impact on your brand image.

Whether you have a stellar online reputation or you are struggling to get things back on track, getting all the help you can get to prevent or fix it can be your number one ally to success.

In this case, taking advantage of online reputation tools and services will help you see the bigger picture and offer you a valuable helping hand to fix your online reputation entirely.

Services like eBizUniverse, for instance, will assess your brand and come up with a custom strategy to boost your online reputation and get your sales back on track.

To get the most out of such services, always look for those that will give you strategies that are tailored for your business and step by step solutions that will help you thrive.

 

What’s Your Online Review Score? Find Out Now!

 

4. Join Multiple Social Media Platforms      

As you’ve realized already, consumers use and engage with several social media platforms at the same time.

As it is natural, both your satisfied and dissatisfied customers will take it upon themselves to write about their experience with your company and products, post it and share it throughout social media.

If you want to be there when that happens, then you need to have a social media account across multiple social media platforms.

Having a great online reputation is all about avoiding controversial feedback and giving solutions to your customers’ complaints, so you always need to be present across multiple social media networks if you want to maintain it.

On the plus side, setting up a social media account is completely free, so when you discover that your audience is posting about you on, let’s say, Tik Tok, then it’s time to create a new account and start catching up with your social media followers’ content.

For Chipotle, creating a Tik Tok account was a win for the company:

chipotle

Question about different social media platforms? Let’s Talk!

 

5. Be Honest and Transparent

What consumers hate more than having a bad user experience with your products is deleting their comments about it.

Well, mistakes can happen whether you are a seasoned marketer or not.

Instead of deleting and covering up what your customers already know, try to address the issue and offer a genuine apology that will prevent backlash and show your audience that you appreciate their feedback.

As we’ve seen in the past, companies that delete negative comments and try to mislead their customers will always be in the eye of the storm since sooner or later the truth will be out and you’ll have to deal with angry customers who will not hesitate to boycott your company.

Staying true to your values and admitting your mistakes is the first step to show your customers that you want to improve your business and deliver great customer experiences.

Here’s an example from DiGiorno that leveraged a trending hashtag to promote their brand:

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And here’s the brand’s apology after realizing the mistake:

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Amazing Online Reputation Management Examples from Established Companies

1. Starbucks

It’s only natural that the bigger and more popular your business gets, the more your customers are going to reach out to you on social media.

As social media users will grab the opportunity to express their love for your products and services, an equally large number of them will call you out on social media platforms for bad customer service or bad customer experiences.

For Starbucks, users making comments expressing their love for the brand and its products is nothing new.

facebook

Comments like these can supercharge a brand’s image and create a positive disposition that assists their customer retention endeavors.

As more and more consumers favor positive reviews and amazing customer experiences, it is important for businesses to get more positive user-generated content that will not only help them attract new customers but also show the real value of their brand.

However, positive comments are always followed but negative comments that, if left unattended, can lead to negative disposition and misleading trends.

Here’s a recent example from Starbucks:

starbucks

No matter how small or big your customers’ bad experiences are, you should treat them as equally serious and potentially harmful for your online reputation.

And if you don’t hurry to give an explanation as to why that experience occurred in the first place, then you should be prepared for additional social media user comments that will expand on the initial comment’s negative info.

For Starbucks, looking into their customer’s complaint by sincerely apologizing and asking further details is the best way to show that you value both the customer and want to improve your operations.

 

Are you proactively managing your reviews?

 

2. Samovar Tea Lounge

Getting poor customer service will almost always lead to negative reviews from your customers.

Whether it is through social media comments or review sites, the message is always clear: you failed to provide stellar customer service and here’s why.

While getting negative comments on your Facebook or Twitter page is a usual thing, collecting negative feedback on review sites can harm your online reputation more since potential customers will look through these sites to determine whether your business is worth their time and money.

Letting negative reviews without addressing your customers’ concerns can be the spark that will fuel other consumers’ disapproval of your business.

So, if you want to avoid that, then you should pay attention to what already successful businesses do to avoid that.

The Samovar Tea Lounge, for instance, usually responds to Yelp reviews by addressing the customer’s concerns, offering them a solution and showing their potential customers that any unfortunate incident stems from multiple factors.

customer

What makes this online reputation management endeavor efficient is that the person who was in charge that day takes the time to reply to the concerned customer.

By telling them that their feedback will contribute to streamlining their services during peak times better and by inviting them to revisit their business with the promise of providing more satisfying customer service, the brand shows that their customer’s satisfaction is their top priority.

For businesses like the Samovar Tea Lounge addressing online reviews and customer concerns is an essential tactic to enhance customer service using technology and minimize the impact of single negative reviews.

 

3. EA Help

Online reputation management is an essential part of every business that wants to boost its brand image and have stellar customer service that supercharges their customer lifecycle marketing.

However, sometimes it is difficult to respond to every customer comment, especially when it comes to bigger businesses with massive social media followers who won’t hesitate to leave a comment about pretty much everything bothering them.

To combat the problem, video game company Electronic Arts has created a separate Twitter account called EA Help that focuses exclusively on assisting customers with their games and accounts.

Dedicating an entire social media account that has more than 400k followers is a big step for a company that already has other customer service channels to solve their customer problems.

However, by doing so, EA manages to ace their online reputation management by giving their customers a familiar space to express their complaints and get answers.

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Takeaway

Your online reputation can either make or break your business. Neglecting to monitor and take steps to fix it will create a negative disposition around your business that will affect your sales and overall performance.

To avoid getting caught in a negative online reputation storm, you should find the best ways to help you manage and maintain your online reputation.

After all, prevention is always better than cure, so next time you find yourself in doubt as to what you should do, take a look at these amazing ways and best examples and turn your online reputation management efforts into a piece of cake.

 

 

Know Your Review Score? Scan Your Online Reviews and Find Out Your Review Score Now! 

Wondering what your online reputation looks like? Run a scan of your reviews and get a free online reputation report!

 

Free Online Reputation Report

Start Your Free 14 Day Trial Now

 

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Google My Business (GMB) has become an important part of local businesses. Google is less keen than ever on third party citations and off-page signals and is now relying heavily on content in GMB for ranking.

 

GMB made several headlines with a host of updates, which would be too vast to cover in one article. With four major Google Algorithm updates, there was at least one major local algorithm update in addition that tied to neutral matching.

 

Following is a summary of most of the updates and changes that happened in GMB this year, along with a few that are strictly not related to GMB.

 

January: Messaging, SAB flow, Virtual office rules

  • Google’s abandonment of SMS-based messaging drove owners and agencies to message exclusively through the Google My Business app as Google began emphasizing messaging in the GMB profile.
  • For service-area businesses, Google introduced a new sign-up flow that begins with a question about whether the business has a store or an office and sends the user down a SAB-specific path if the answer is no.
  • Google also provided guidelines to understand who is eligible to create a GMB page for a virtual office. In simple terms, on-site staffing is a must.

 

February: Map Reviews, AR directions, Join Waitlist

  • Google introduced a feature enabling hotel operators to directly enter their check-in and check-out times in Google My Business.
  • Google also tested augmented reality walking directions in Maps and rolled them out extensively in August, but they still haven’t proven to be fruitful ten months later.
  • The company also made replying to reviews in Google Maps easy by allowing business owners with verified GMB listings to reply on the desktop instead of asking them to use the GMB dashboard or Mobile App.
  • Google also introduced the “join waitlist” feature, which is a part of Reserve with Google whose functionality is provided by DineTime. Users have to input party size to receive updates on the status of their wait by texts.
  • The Search Engine Giant also announced the launch of their new spam report form for Google My Business and Google Maps related spam.

 

March 2019: Duplex Rollout, Core Update and SAB Addresses Disappear

  • Google introduced the Duplex restaurant reservations over the phone for Pixel users in 43 states in the U.S. and later broadened the capability to Android phones & iPhones.
  • For service-area businesses, Google removed business addresses from the GMB Profile.
  • The company also began running tests for auto-generated posts featuring reviews.
  • Although not local, Google’s March Core Update affected some local businesses and their customers. We didn’t notice any major change for our clients though.

 

April: Assistant Local Results, GMB Paid Services Survey

  • Business Listings that appear in Google Home or Google Assistant search results are drawn from Google Guaranteed Listings or listings certified by partners Porch or HomeAdvisor.
  • Google Posts enabled businesses to promote reviews as well as testimonials in a new form presented as “Suggested Posts.”
  • Google also surveyed small business owners to understand how much they can pay for monthly subscription fees that include a host of enhanced features and services of Google My Business, to which there were mixed reviews.

 

May: Popular Dishes, Food Ordering, and CallJoy

  • CallJoy automated customer service and call intelligence capabilities were introduced by Google for the SMB market for $39/month. The service and its capabilities were then upgraded in November.
  • ‘End-to-end’ food ordering was brought to Google Assistant, Google search and Maps via partners, DoorDash, Postmates, Delivery.com, and others.
  • Google also began to showcase a carousel of “popular dishes” on local restaurant pages in which selections are generated by machine learning.

 

June: Mapspam and Shortnames

  • The Wall Street Journal published an article on fake listings on Google search and maps. The search engine giant later countered with a post on how it fights local spam.
  • To encourage more local businesses to claim profiles, Google added various new GMB features and tools and also offered new branding and promotional capabilities.

 

July: Get a Quote and Place Topics

  • Google rolled out a new “Get a quote” button in local knowledge panels for some businesses that had opted-in GMB messaging.
  • It also tested “place topics”, basically tags, themes or keywords taken from machine learning using reviews. Note: Place topics only appear when there are enough user reviews on the GMB profile.

 

August: Carousel Pack, Bulk Reviews, Google Screened

  • A horizontal carousel was also tested to replace the local pack in mobile results.
  • GMB added support for hotels to update services and amenities details, appearing in Search and Maps.
  • Google also introduced bulk review management to allow businesses to view reviews for multiple listings at once and reply to them for multiple locations.
  • Google announced the testing of “Google Screened.” The program is directed at professional services but is currently limited to a few verticals in markets.
  • As part of Local campaigns, Google also tested competitor ads in local business profiles.

 

September: Post Highlights, Food Ordering Opt-Out

  • Google Post highlights start to show up in the Local Pack and Local Finder, although the posts have no impact on ranking.
  • Google enabled local restaurants to opt-out of third-party food ordering and delivery, which proved to be highly unpopular.
  • Another Core Algorithm Update was launched, which had an impact on local marketers. Again, this one didn’t have any major impact on our client rankings.

 

October: Search by Photos, Incognito Mode for Maps

  • A new “search by photos” option was introduced in mobile results which appear as a module in SERP that opens a larger page of an image with star ratings.
  • Google implemented several promised privacy controls for users that included Incognito Mode for Google Maps, voice control to delete Google Assistant search activity and auto-delete for YouTube history.

 

November: Local Algo Update, Follow Local Guides, No More Phone Support

  • A local guides follow feature was introduced to enable Google Maps users in multiple cities to follow local guides and see local recommendations of places and things to do.
  • Toll-free phone support was discontinued for Google My Business. Users are now required to fill out a form and request a call back which slows response times.

 

December: Review Carousels, Auto-Posts, Choose an Area

  • Google started showing carousels with local reviews (and Q&A content) on local business profiles, whenever relevant to the search query & has enough “high-quality reviews.”
  • It also began creating posts automatically from GMB posts, but these posts cannot be deleted by the business owner.
  • Google displayed a “request quotes” button in local results. Only available to businesses participating in the Local Services Ads (LSAs) program and that have passed “Google Guaranteed” background checks.
  • A test for the “choose area” feature was conducted that enabled mobile users to refine their search area below a city level as well as allow businesses to designate a large metropolitan area (MSA) as a service area than smaller areas.

 

Local SERP Continues to Evolve

Many of the above changes have impacted local marketers, but certain developments are more important than others. Google is using machine learning extensively to improve the relevance and auto-generate content for uses that vary by query and context.

 

Keep reading for upcoming updates in the local search world.

 

Do You Have Questions About Google My Business? Contact Us!

 

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Looks like Google is out to test another new feature on local results. Last month, a ‘Request Quotes’ button made a sudden appearance above the local pack on mobile.

 

Request Quotes Seems to be a Part of the Messaging Feature in GMB

 

The ‘Request Quotes’ button appears to be in line with Google’s efforts to make Google My Business (GMB) an engagement platform. First spotted by Tom Waddington, this new feature allows users to simultaneously request quotes from multiple businesses, provided they all have messaging enabled.

 

business

 

While any listing can appear in the initial 3-pack, messaging has to be enabled for a business to appear in the results that come up after tapping the ‘Request Quotes’ button.

 

Final Takeaway

As of now, it is not very clear whether Google has already launched this feature or if it is still in test mode. However, what we do know is that besides enabling messaging within the GMB app, it is also important that the quote requests are replied to within 24 Hours. Failure to do so may lead to deactivation, for not being able to keep up with the responses.

 

Have Questions About Your Google Listing? Contact Us!

 

heading 3

Managing a WordPress site? Make sure you review what version of PHP your site is running on.

 

As of December 2019, around 62.2% of WordPress sites are running on outdated, prior to 7.2 version of PHP. These sites are vulnerable to hacking.

 

The safest PHP version that you should be using is the current revision, 7.4 or version 7.3.

 

So what exactly is PHP? “Hypertext Preprocessor is a server-side scripting language designed for Web development, and also used as a general-purpose programming language.” To put it simply, a lot of sites are built on PHP programming language. All WordPress sites in particular.

 

The prime reason why you need to update your PHP is that the versions prior to 7.3 are no longer receiving security patches, without which your site becomes extremely vulnerable to hacking.

 

Final Takeaway – Considering the fact that only 37.7% of websites are on PHP version 7.3 or higher, chances of you having to deal with this issue are greater, at least on one of the sites that you manage.

 

When you log in to your WordPress dashboard, you will see a warning message which is a clear indication to update your PHP version.

 

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Upon seeing the message, you need to contact your hosting company and ask them about the steps that need to be taken to get your PHP updated to version 7.3 or higher.

 

Although your hosting company will assist you with everything, you will have to check on all of your plugins before updating.

 

You can even check the version of your PHP by installing this PHP plugin. Have a look to find out where each version of PHP is in their life cycle according to php.net.

 

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Updating your PHP isn’t complicated. You can start by backing up your website. However, outdated plugins and themes can make it seem complicated.

 

Theme & Plugin Compatibility With New PHP Versions

At times you may find that the older plugins and older themes or the custom plugins aren’t compatible with 7.3 or higher versions. Before updating your PHP, it is advised to check which ones are likely to create incompatibility issues and get them updated or replaced.

 

If you have a very outdated theme and are looking to update it, you will have to make certain adjustments for a more recent version. Themes that have a high risk of upgrading problems are those that use advanced editors such as Visual Composer. We have observed that these editors usually generate layout, menu, etc. problems when upgrading the theme.

 

To avoid facing any problems, it is necessary that you resolve any issues before upgrading your PHP version. We suggest you follow the process in the following order to make things easier.

 

  • Delete any plugins that are not in use.
  • Check if there are any compatibility issues with the plugins and themes using PHP Compatibility Checker.
  • Consider using a different plugin in case the latest version of plugins aren’t compatible with 7.3 or higher.
  • Next, go to your web hosting control panel and find the PHP section where you will see the upgrade your website option.

 

Besides, you can always reach out to us if you get stuck at any stage! Our experienced personnel will help you out.

 

Grade Your Website

 

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Are you getting the best return out of your digital marketing? Need an extra pair of eyes to review your online game plan? Let our experts take a look at your current state and do a comprehensive digital marketing analysis at no cost to you. Please call us at (800) 379-2829 or contact us today and we will get to work right away.

instagramSince the creation of Instagram, the platform has grown to be the most popular channel for sharing photos or videos. Instagram has more than 800 million active users every month and more than 60 million photos shared every day. Moreover, 1.6 billion “likes” are given each day. So, it is certainly a great marketing channel that can help you engage with your audience.

 

But it can be hard when things start to change and you notice an engagement decline. There are a number of things that can cause your Instagram engagement to drop. While sometimes it may be something that you are doing wrong such as changing the style or quality of your posts, sometimes it can just be a matter of something done to you such as mass spam or reports or even a change to the Instagram algorithm.

 

So, what can you do about it? First, don’t panic, you are not going to lose all your followers and their precious likes. All you need to do is to use a few tactics to get them hooked on your account and regain your high engagement rates. Here are 4 tactics that can be very effective when you are experiencing an engagement drop on your Instagram page:

 

1.      Aim For Good Audience Quality

First things first, it all starts with your audience. Your audience is, or should be, your main concern in this situation. Why? Because you share your posts for people who you expect to support you with their likes, comments, and all other actions you encourage them to do. So, if you want to rise your Instagram engagement rates, your audience is the one you need to start with.

Surprising or not, the poor-quality audience can be the number one reason that might affect your engagement rates. Surely, it is extremely rewarding to see that you have hundreds, or even thousands, of followers on your account. But how is that helping you if your followers are mainly fake accounts or inactive users? Obviously, it doesn’t. Inactive or fake users simply don’t engage with Instagram posts like the ones you have.

So, you can’t raise your engagement rates if you have followers that don’t interact with your posts. Like it or not, you may want to improve your efforts of attracting new followers, real ones, that will actually engage with your Instagram posts.

 

2.      Engage Your Audience With Videos

Yes, images can speak 1000 words, but can you imagine how many words videos can say? Instagram itself is a platform designed for photo sharing. And, data shows that more than 100 million photos and videos are shared on this platform each day. The feature of posting videos on Instagram has been introduced in 2013, and it had such a huge splash that more than 5 million videos have been shared on the platform in the first 24 hours.

So, videos can be the way to go if you want real engagement from your audience, be it IGTV videos, stories, live or video posts. Video content simply is the most powerful content for your marketing strategy because it is some of the easiest to consume.

Videos are engaging, dynamic, and fun to watch which is why they make followers stop for a second long enough until they get your message. Improving your video marketing strategy on Instagram is one of the most effective tactics to stop your followers from scrolling and actually engage with your posts.

 

3.      Create Engaging Contests

Wouldn’t you like to just like and share a post and get free stuff in exchange for that? Most probably yes, and so would your followers. Instagram contests have become extremely popular these days and they are a great way to make followers feel appreciated for all the support they offer you. Moreover, it seems that accounts that hold contests to reward their followers can achieve 70% faster follower growth.

The trick with Instagram contests is the fact that they never fail to engage your followers to take further actions depending on what you ask them to do. Do you want them to comment on your post, tag their friends, or share your post in their Instagram story? They will most likely do it as long as you offer them a prize to get excited about.

instagramIt should be easy to see how holding contests will help you grow your follower lists. Imagine you are holding a contest for your followers in which you are offering one of the best products of the business you are promoting as a prize. It all starts with using the best writing services to create an engaging, fun, and comprehensive description of your contest. Next, ask your followers to leave comments to your post in which they must tag 2 or 3 of their friends to participate in your contest. Simply do the math and you will see that you have just managed to attract at least 1 new follower for every loyal follower that participates in your contest.

Moreover, apart from helping you raise brand awareness and attract new followers, holding Instagram contests is a great way to make your followers feel appreciates. Everybody likes free stuff, and your followers are more likely to become loyal and continue to take part in your contests because they are fun and make them feel important to you.

 

4.      Use Hashtags Wisely

Since their invention is 2007, hashtags have become perhaps the most popular trend on Instagram right now for posts. They make the post look more sophisticated and make it more scannable. If used correctly, hashtags can help you raise your engagement rates for your Instagram posts simply by attracting users by helping them find and interact with your posts.

However, abusing or using random popular hashtags at your posts won’t do you any good. The trick with the effective use of hashtags in your posts is to use the ones that are not only relevant for your posts but also for your audience. Think about what your audience might be searching for and this is how you determine which words will attract them.

 

Over To You

The accelerated growth of Instagram is a great opportunity for marketers to promote their products or services. Yet, make no mistake, this growth can also lead to saturation and more competition which can have a negative impact on your engagement rates. These 4 tactics will help you refresh your Instagram strategy and stop engagement rates from dropping.

 

Have Social Media Questions? Contact Us!

 

 

Are you getting the best return out of your digital marketing? Need an extra pair of eyes to review your online game plan? Let our experts take a look at your current state and do a comprehensive digital marketing analysis at no cost to you. Please call us at (800) 379-2829 or contact us today and we will get to work right away.

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After the Possum update in 2016, the month of November marked the biggest ranking shift in Local SEO. With the Possum update, the Local Search industry saw its first big Proximity update by Google. This shift enables SEO experts to develop tools and strategies considering ‘location’ as a pivotal aspect in ranking.

The recent update (dubbed as Bedlam), too, indicates that Google will be focusing more on proximity.

Key Observations From The Bedlam Update

 

  • The results aren’t industry-specific. They have and still are shifting across the board.

 

  • There were HUGE Google Maps ranking changes noticed on November 5th.

 

  • Since November 7th, the Organic Local Search results began to change as well.

 

  • Things began settling into the new normal from November 10th, when some of the changes were rolled back.

 

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  • Most changes that this update brought were mainly on the zip codes the business was NOT located in, with the proximity dial being turned up.

 

  • More changes were added by Google back into the Local Pack changing them back to 3-packs from 1-packs that we’ve been seeing.

 

  • This wasn’t a spam update at all. However, it has uncovered a lot more spam listings, which is a part and parcel of big changes like these.

 

  • If found to be too close to another similar business or if they share the same name or phone number with another location, Google My Business listings are being filtered out.

 

Final Takeaway

 

  1. When big changes like these take place, you only need to sit back and wait for things to settle down a little bit.

 

  1. Check out your local rankings using our dashboard and get a hold of the changes that have taken place to see what impact they have had or will have on your business. To see what the different results look like to users from different locations, you can use browser addons.

 

  1. When you see legitimate Google Maps spam listings competing with you, don’t forget to report them to Google.

 

  1. Without a legitimate business location, you will not be able to continue ranking in those further away areas you’ve lost since the update. You will have to design your strategies accordingly to include other referrers for those areas that don’t include Google. For instance, you could start a series of targeted Facebook ads for users who are in your competitors’ locations by offering them a ‘second opinion’ or a ‘free consultation’.

 

As always, we are here to help. If you are facing any issues with your local campaign, do get in touch with our experienced personnel for assistance. We’re just a call away!

 

What’s Your SEO Score?

 

 

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Google is set on helping out small businesses with Local SEO. Google recently announced through its Google Small Business handle on Twitter and Facebook that they are rolling out a brand new tool – Local Opportunity Finder.

 

The Idea Behind This New Development

Local Opportunity Finder is said to be designed to help small businesses understand how Local SEO can benefit them and discover how people nearby generally search for businesses like theirs. Simply put, the tool analyzes what, where and how people from a specific area are inclined to search for a particular type of business.

When a business name is entered on Local Opportunity Finder, the tool breaks down all the information necessary to improve its online presence into the following categories:

 

  • Business Profile – A brief overview of the number of searches made per week for businesses like theirs in that region.

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  • Business Info – Insight to the kind of information people nearby look for when they search for such businesses.

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  • Posts – The ideal time to put up a post about their business based on the daily peak time when people search for businesses like theirs.

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  • Reviews – The importance of reviews for such a business and how the company, in particular, is doing in this area.

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  • Photos – How important a role the photos play in Local SEO for such businesses.

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  • Summary – Steps that the company can take to improve its presence on Google Search and Maps.

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Our Takeaway

It sure looks like Local Opportunity Finder be a huge help for small businesses when it comes to understanding what they need to do to bring their Local SEO strategies to fruition. However, it seems that as of now only businesses in the US have access to this new tool developed by Google.

 

Do You Have Questions On Google? Contact Us!

 

 

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Are you getting the best return out of your digital marketing? Need an extra pair of eyes to review your online game plan? Let our experts take a look at your current state and do a comprehensive digital marketing analysis at no cost to you. Please call us at (800) 379-2829 or contact us today and we will get to work right away.