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Other than using organic tricks, around 80% of local marketers are buying ads on Google. This figure is almost 10% more as compared to last year, as revealed by a MOZ survey of 1,300 local marketing agencies, small businesses and multi-location enterprises.

 

The survey also included questions regarding the impact of COVID-19 on marketing budgets. Majority of them (70%+) said that they were dealing with cuts. However, “74% believe that business-as-usual will return within a year of safety orders being lifted.” While local link building was somewhere in between, paid media, social and localized web content were more often cut than SEO.

 

When marketers were asked about the SERP feature that they were most focused on, the results were as follows:

  1. Featured Snippets
  2. Local Packs
  3. Google Business Profile
  4. “We don’t have an SERP feature strategy.”

 

Consistent with the zero-click narrative, 77% of respondents said they agreed with the statement that Google (Business Profiles) are “the new homepage” for local businesses.

 

Here you can see a local link building strategy with the highest ROI.

 

SEO

 

These are the Top Local SEO Tricks where marketers wanted to invest more.

 

  1. Local link building – 18%
  2. Local content development – 15%
  3. On-site optimization – 13%
  4. Technical analysis of ranking/traffic/conversions – 9%
  5. Website design – 8%
  6. Review management – 7%
  7. Social media – 6%
  8. Email marketing – 5%
  9. Technical needs – 4%
  10. Schema – 4%

 

As observed in the study, the highly competitive industries such as Automotive, Real Estate and Legal were “clamoring the loudest for devoted link building resources”. The top items on the local SEO tactical wish list, for enterprises, by comparison were:

 

  1. Review management – 13.9%
  2. Local content development – 13.2%
  3. On-site optimization – 13.2%
  4. Local link building – 11.1%
  5. Technical analysis for ranking/traffic/conversions – 10.4%
  6. Website design – 9%
  7. Schema – 5.6%
  8. Other Google Business Profile features management – 5.6%
  9. Technical needs – 4.2%
  10. Social media – 3.5%

 

When it comes to link building – content development, direct requests and sponsorships were the top 3 strategies with the highest ROI, as per the survey.

 

3/4th of respondents said that they believe “use of Google My Business profile features (e.g., Posts, Q&A) impacts rankings in the local pack”, which is partly true. Although some elements of GMB do impact local rankings, the local SEO consensus is that Posts and Q&A do not impact local rankings. Reviews and photos, by comparison, do not have an impact.

 

When asked about where local SEO resides within the organization, around 48% of the time, which is most often, it was located in the marketing department. Alternatively, it fell under the control of the business owner.

 

  1. Account Managers – 15%
  2. Webmasters – 9.1%
  3. IT Department – 6.6%
  4. Other groups – 3.4%

 

Most local marketers (68%) reported that they were using 2-5 local SEO tools, while 12% were using six or more, 20% used either none or one.

 

Local SEO is an essential part of digital marketing for the majority of U.S. businesses that have a physical presence or a service area. If you are looking to optimize your local presence, do get in touch with our experienced personnel for assistance.

 

Check Out Your SEO Score!

 

 

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Google My Business’s Messaging feature allows users to directly message businesses from their Google Maps listing and has been a mainstay for quite some time, but its use has been merely unsatisfactory. Businesses are required to use the GMB App to utilize the feature, but management between staff members becomes hard. There were no solid plans to make updates to the feature, up until the pandemic.

 

These times have been tough for people and businesses as they continue with their lives from a distance. The need for digital communication has spiked unlike ever before, making it a main priority. This desperate need for effective communication has led to Google rolling out some of the very best, user-friendly upgrades to their otherwise inert Messaging feature. Here is Google’s word on the upgrades:

 

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“Today we’re expanding Business Messages in Maps and Search to support all kinds of businesses, and giving them the ability to integrate Business Messages directly with their customer service platforms. Business Messages provides brands a comprehensive messaging solution across Android devices, and through Maps on iOS. To improve connections with customers, we’ve recently introduced new smart replies, visual product carousels, and unique welcome messages. There’s also a smooth transition from automated replies to a customer service agent, so that it’s not disruptive when the customer messages a business.”

 

Basically, this upgrade from Google works very similarly to the website chat feature that is used by several customers and businesses. Take an in-depth look at the latest additions made to the feature:

 

New Smart Replies – Much like your site’s chat feature, there are several options to provide automated support before anyone from your team steps in. It functions like an FAQs system, where you can send in your questions or click within the carousel, after which your team can come in and take over the conversation seamlessly.

 

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Visual Product Carousels – As the name suggests, this feature enables you to showcase the various products you have in store to the customer.

 

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Unique Welcome Messages – With this feature, you can customize welcome messages for your customers to see. This feature allows businesses to shine through and establish their brand presence online!

 

Enhanced Images – Images play a crucial role in our buying decision, and this new feature showcases images along with URLs.

 

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Actionable Strategy – We would highly recommend using Google My Business Message feature. It is not only free to use for now, but Google will be regularly integrating more of its top features for greater user experience. Now is the time to make most of the platform!

 

To know more about Business Messaging, click here. The message system now integrates with some of the best customer service systems, giving you the freedom to manage the complete process on your website rather than completely within Google’s system. Check out the list of partners here.

 

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If you wish to get started with any of the partners listed above, reach out to Google about it here. Or else, you can simply log into your GMB listing and select the messaging option on the left-hand menu. Make sure to download the app to use it!

 

Questions On How To Set Up GMB Messaging? Contact Us!

 

 

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With an aim to help businesses to better serve users limited from in-person transactions due to COVID-19, Google recently introduced the following four attributes that now appear in a business’s knowledge panel.

 

  • Online Care
  • Online Appointment
  • Online Estimates
  • Online Class

 

Here’s How to Add These Attributes to Your Google My Business Listings:

 

Businesses can add any attribute that is relevant to their business. Follow the below steps to add new attributes to your Google My Business listing.

 

Login into the Google My Business listing that you would like to edit.

 

Then click on Info in the left-hand menu.

 

Now scroll down to Add Attributes and click on Edit.

 

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Here’s how it appears. You can find all the attributes available for your business and select all the suitable ones that apply to your business.

 

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

 

 

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Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines, which have remained the same since 2012, were recently updated. The updated guidelines detail the changes they have made to the search engine and what the modern search results look like.

 

The Updated Document Shares How Bing Ranks Content

 

The 2020 version of the Webmaster Guidelines consists of an entire section that tells us how Bing ranks content. The main ranking factors mentioned by Bing are as follows:

 

  1. Relevance: It refers to how closely the landing page content matches the intent behind a search query. Semantic equivalents such as synonyms and abbreviations are also taken into consideration.

 

  1. Quality and Credibility: In order to evaluate the page itself, Bing considers factors such as the author’s or site’s reputation, the level of discourse, the completeness of the content and transparency of authorship.

 

  1. User Engagement: To determine user engagement, Bing considers factors such as:
  • Did users click through to search results for a given query, and if so, which results?
  • Did users spend time on the search results they clicked through to or did they return to Bing quickly?
  • Did the users adjust or reformulate their query?

 

  1. Freshness: Bing generally prefers “fresh” content, meaning sites that consistently provide up-to-date information.

 

  1. Location: Bing also considers factors such as where a user is located, where the page is hosted, the language used, and the location of the other visitors.

 

  1. Page Load Time: Bing considers slow page load time as poor user experience and hence, prefers faster page loads.

 

Generally, the characteristics of the goods or services do not affect how Bing ranks a site unless the content is potentially offensive or harmful to the users. Also, sites that promote methods of suicide or purport to sell opioids or other potentially harmful drugs may get demoted by Bing.

 

What You Should Do Next

 

Bing’s updated search guidelines are a quick 10 minutes read and it is highly recommended that you take the time out to go through it. If you are a pro in SEO then you will note that unlike Google, Bing admits that User Engagement is an important ranking factor.

 

If you happen to know anyone who is serious about marketing a website or is working on a website, ask them to go through the document as all the details shared here are must-know information.

 

 

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 rivalry between Google & Bing has been on for around a decade now, with each search engine carving their niche in the market. However, it seems like the rivals, Google and Bing, have now joined forces as two crucial spots within Bing’s properties are now directly tied to Google.

 

Heart of the Matter

It started with a new beta feature that allows you to import your website into Bing’s Webmaster Tools without a hassle if you are already verified within Google Search Console.

 

 

Later, on August 30th, we saw a reporting of a new Sync option (Sync with Google My Business) being available within Bing Places Accounts. You can make use of this option once you have logged into Bing Places for Business and picked a location to work on.

 

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The feature is currently enabled only for users who have a maximum of 10 businesses in their Google My Business Account. This means the feature is not for those who manage more than 10 businesses in their Google My Business Account.

 

Actionable Strategy

This partnership between Google and Bing might seem weird to many, but the latest features are a step in the right direction. It is now less time consuming and hassle-free for users to verify businesses as well as easier to research within both sets of Webmaster Tools. Although the feature is still in its initial stage, we expect some more features from Google and Bing, like Syncing for users who manage more than 10 businesses, to be launched sooner than later. Big things to come for Google and Bing!

 

Do You Have Questions About Your Local Pages On Google or Bing? Contact Us!

 

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Businesses with multiple locations often have a hard time managing their customer reviews. Responding to each and every review, from each and every location can be taxing. Google My Business’ recent local updates roll out revealed that now you can easily manage your reviews on the same page.

 

 

This new inclusion will enable seeing and replying to reviews across multiple listings on a single page. This might seem like a tiny little addition but it will drastically reduce the time needed for review management for multi-location businesses.

 

Things to Note

  • Organization accounts do not have this feature as of yet.
  • Replying to reviews from third-party sources isn’t allowed.
  • You can respond to reviews and see them organized into location groups only after your listing is verified.

 

Final Takeaway

Getting started is quick and easy. All you need to do is visit https://business.google.com/reviews and follow the instructions given.

 

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

 

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Now here’s some really good news for hotel owners with verified Google My Business (GMB) listings. Google recently announced that they have now added support to enable hotel owners or those working with hotels to update services and amenity details in the “Hotel Attributes” section.

 

How this will help hotel owners

One of the major reasons for keeping hotel services and amenities details up to date in the listings is that Google pulls the hotel’s highlights from here. These highlights, in the form of bright and colorful icons, appear next to the amenities in the Placesheet. They give potential customers a quick overview of all the amenities offered by the hotel such as ‘Free Wi-Fi’, ‘Free Parking’, ‘Pet-Friendly’, etc.

 

Steps to add new features

  • Sign in to Google My Business (using a computer, not mobile)
  • If you have multiple locations, open the location you would like to make changes to
  • Click on Info
  • Click on ‘Edit’ next to “Hotel Attributes”
  • Search for the attributes you want to add and fill in the necessary details
  • Click on Save

 

For all those who are yet to start out

In case you are one of those hotel owners or SEO professionals who haven’t yet gotten on board with GMB for hotels, then it’s high time you get on with it. Here are 3 simple steps to start the process

 

  • Sign Up for GMB for Hotels
  • Engage With Customers
  • Manage Hotel’s Details

 

Is your online listing up to date? Find out your visibility score today!

 

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While many may have noticed the ‘Google Guaranteed’ label that appears with some Local Service Ads, not many are aware of the fact that only certain industries qualify for this label. You need to go through a quick 3-step process to see if you do or don’t qualify for this label. Professionals such as attorneys, financial planners and real estate agents are amongst those who do not qualify for the Google Guaranteed label.

 

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However, Google has now decided to roll out a new “Google Screened” Local Service Ad label for such professionals. Just like Google Guaranteed, the Google Screened label also comes with its own set of license and background checks. What differentiates the two labels is that there is no money-back guarantee with the Google Screened label businesses.

 

Know whether you qualify for this label

In order to get the Google Screened label, a business must have a rating of 3.0 or above. Moreover, there are business-level as well as business-owner background checks. Also, every professional in the business is required to pass a license and background check for the Local Service Ad to be labeled as “Google Screened”.

 

Final takeaway

Having your Local Service Ad labeled as Google Screened is bound to give your business more credibility and authority in the industry. If you are amongst those who represent an attorney, a financial planner or a real estate agent, then it’s best that you check out the Google Screened label and start the process of getting it added to the Local Service Ad.

 

Grade Your Website

 

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Twitter mentioned in their blog post, create video content with your phone using these 4 ingenious ideas, that all you need for a campaign to be successful is good content and it can even be created using your phone. The post included some worth mentioning stats to help the users.

 

“On Twitter, brands need to create fresh and engaging visual content on a near-daily basis. Why? Because that’s what your audience wants. Tweets with video attract 10X more engagement than Tweets without video, Tweets with images attract 150% more Retweets than Tweets without images, and even Tweets with a GIF gain 55% more engagement than Tweets without a GIF.”

 

Remember, Twitter audiences love authenticity more than they love creativity. Give them something engaging and they will surely keep coming back to your page. Retweeting other people’s content isn’t going to take you far. Twitter’s blog post will help you out in creating impactful videos, GIFs and images specific to your audiences. Here’s a simple video created using a phone that Twitter shared.

 

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Question about Boosting Facebook/Twitter Engagement? Let’s Talk!

 

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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.

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Do local citations matter anymore? Mike Blumenthal and other SEO experts share their opinions about how much attention we should be really giving to structured citations.

For any local business, giving a quote, managing their local citations i.e. submitting to top local search engines and directories is still one of the things that make it to the top of the local SEO checklist. With a key focus on quick (automated) submissions and consistency, many local businesses turned to Yext as their go-to service and helped it propel to a $170 million business in 2018!

Local citations were historically seen as one of the top ranking factors but things are not the same now. SEO experts such as Mike Blumenthal (GatherUp) now dismiss citations as almost of no use.

 

Here’s what Mike Blumenthal has to say.

“If a business has their data correct on their website and can get their data straightened away at Google, Facebook and maybe Yelp, there is no need for a citation campaign and certainly no need for a recurring cost to do so.

Google cares about local sites and web-references that users engage with and occur on pages on some amount of prominence. So it isn’t just a matter of having a citation at Yelp or HealthGrades or Trip Advisor, but of having a listing that ranks well at those sites and can pass some authority to your local entity. The strongest industry vertical sites, in some industries, do send some traffic so a citation and content build-out is relevant there.

But the idea of getting listed at 80 sites and paying for it annually is an idea whose time has passed. And the traditional idea of an unstructured citation, (i.e., being cited at an authoritative journal or news source even without a link) has merit. But that is more along the lines of PR than a citation campaign and it can have significant influence over the rank of a business.”

 

Similar to Mike Blumenthal, this is what Joy Hawkins from Sterling Sky has to say.

“I often find that people are surprised to hear that my agency doesn’t focus much on citation building or “maintaining” as a strategy.  We’ve found that time is better spent on other high-impact tactics.

We only bother with citation work if the client has recently moved locations. Even then, we notice that it doesn’t make a huge difference.

We don’t ignore it completely; it’s just labeled here as a low-impact tactic so it’s not what we tackle first.”

 

What’s our take on this?

 

The consensus now appears to be that citations are declining in importance. It’s quite true that our industry’s perception of the role of citations has changed a lot. However, we continue to believe local citations still have an important role to play and are not yet ready to throw them out of our toolkit.

Every location-based business needs to own as much of its branded and core keyword SERPs as possible. Taking maximum control of citations is one of the most obvious and sensible ways to achieve a high degree of ownership. Because all forms of citations could be points of entry for consumers, businesses need to manage them for accuracy and consistency.

However, we feel that the idea of getting your business listed on multiple sites and paying for it annually makes no sense at all. Instead, we focus more on manual submissions which are much quicker to show up as compared to automated submissions, you can select which directories to submit to and you have full ownership and control over these sites.

 

Reference:

searchengineland.com/do-local-citations-matter-anymore-five-local-seos-sound-off-320015

 

Questions About Google My Business? Contact Us!

 

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Due to the growing need to bolster online security, every search engine strives to come up with new, innovative ways to make users feel as secure as possible in the digital world. One such measure taken by the search engines is to warn users against insecure sites by showing a “Warning: Security Risk Ahead” message page.

 

How Bing Reacts to Expired SSL Certificate

Google Chrome and Firefox show a “Not Secure” warning to users on non-secure (without https) websites.

 

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If a website has been flagged as a phishing site, it will display this warning before allowing you to proceed on Chrome.

 

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Bing goes a step further by warning the users that there is a problem with the website’s security certificate and that the problem may be an indication that it might be an attempt to fool you or intercept your data.

 

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How This Can Affect Your Business

Even if there is no real security threat to the users or their data, the fact that the search engines redirect the users to a warning page instead of the homepage can have a huge impact on your website’s organic traffic. Hence, it is important that you keep a track on when your site’s security certificate is about to expire and renew it promptly to ensure that potential leads are not discouraged from visiting your website.

 

Grade Your Website

 

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Entities with Google accounts can now claim their knowledge panels to gain complete access over the information that it contains. So if you are a brand that is large enough to trigger a knowledge panel, go ahead and create your own Google knowledge panel today.

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How to Claim?

 

  • Make sure you have a Google account.
  • Search for your entity in the Google search box.
  • Scroll to the very bottom and click on the ‘claim this knowledge panel’ button which will direct you to the entity verification page.
  • Verify your entity by signing in to your listed official site/profile.
  • YouTube
  • Search Console
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Review the displayed information, once the features are granted post verification.

 

Remember: Use the most accurate and engaging information about your entity while you review it. Information that shows up on search (images, stats, facts, etc.) can be changed accordingly.

 

Outcome: Since Google has depreciated the importance of structured data markup for knowledge panels, this is the easiest and latest way of getting your company details updated. So make sure you claim your panel right away!

 

Is your online listing up to date? Find out your visibility score today!

 

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Google recently tested a new “Request A Quote” button feature within the knowledge panels of the businesses that are verified and listed on Google My Business (GMB) and also who have the messaging feature within the GMB App.

Google is automatically adding a large “Request a Quote” button to eligible business listings in search results. The button also appears in mobile search results when the business name is searched for. I, along with others, can replicate this quote feature which means it’s not just a test.

 

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Trying it Ourselves

 

Although the testing of the quote feature was hit-and-miss for us, it did lead us to conclude that there are high chances that for now, Google must have been testing the quote feature in a specific region only.

Google had earlier launched the Messaging feature for Google My Business (GMB) App in June 2017 and since has proven to be a great option to get in touch with businesses for potential clients, that too via TEXT!

The quote feature also allows businesses to set a limit for the number of messages received and can also be turned on/off as and when needed.

Actionable Strategy

 

If you haven’t figured out a way to use the quote feature or haven’t come across it yet then we would highly recommend you to download and try it for your business today. Get entire details on how to make use of this feature here. Those who have the app installed already can proceed with the following steps:

  • Open your Google My Business app
  • Click on the location you want to message from
  • Click the Customers button
  • Click the Messages button
  • Click Turn On

 

Final Takeaway

 

Although the “Request A Quote” feature is not officially launched yet, it is only a matter of time when it will be. The quote feature would surely be a great addition to all of GMB’s features, allowing easy and direct communication between customers and businesses.

 

Have Questions About Your Google Listing? 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.