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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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Google’s recent major Quality Core update rolled out on 4th May and caused more stir in the search results as compared to its last two updates.

As a result, some sites were rewarded for their overall quality while some faced issues such as losses for plagiarized content, pages with too much downtime, and overall lack of E.A.T. (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) Signals.

Most SEOs were rather surprised as they weren’t expecting an update amid the COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, sites that were actually invested in improving their overall E.A.T. Signals were thrilled to be rewarded with higher rankings and more traffic.

Not surprisingly, we didn’t notice any major fluctuations with our client website rankings. In fact, there were quite a few websites with improvement in rankings and traffic after this update rolled out.

If you’d like to dig into knowing about the winners and losers, refer to this cool Google doc. Yet again, it all comes down to Quality. On that note, here are a few tips and tricks to boost your sites’ quality keeping in mind Google’s next core update that should roll out in about 3 months, if Google follows its regular timeline.

 

Boost E.A.T. Signals for Your Site Visitors & Google’s Algorithm

Things that will help boost your E.A.T. Signals!

 

Update your ‘About Us’ page – Rewrite your ‘About Us’ page while keeping in mind what your customers want. Highlight about your business, your experience and what makes you stand apart from the competitors. Mention if you are a family-owned business. If you hold any awards or recognition’s, make them a part of this page. Lastly, add high-quality, fresh images.

 

Improve your website’s downtime – Work on your website’s page load speed, specifically your mobile page load speed. See to it that all the videos and images on your website load fast.

Run your site through Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. The first few pages on your site with major content should ideally open within 3-5 seconds. Speed Index should be less than 9 seconds with ads and 7 seconds without ads. Consider limiting the number of ads or eliminating them altogether if they are the reason behind your page load time.

 

Add ‘Terms of Service’ and ‘Privacy Policy’ pages – These pages give a good impression about your site’s overall authority profile with Google. For more on what these pages should include, you can refer to Google’s quality rater guidelines.

 

Include sources of reference for all medical/scientific claims – If your website contains any medical, statistical or factual claims, ensure to link them with relevant data sources. If your users and Google get to see proof of the claims that you have made on your website, it creates a huge signal of trust.

 

Build up your footer – Typical business information, such as contact details, are often found on the bottom of your site. So be sure it’s there with a current copyright date. As per Google, the address in the footer is recommended and, again, acts as a sign of trust. To show your expertise, you can also add your awards and accolades here.

 

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Also, if you have been featured on any popular media platforms, always put that in! And add it to your ‘About Us’ page as well.

 

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Include a clear ad disclosure – Give a clear ad disclosure if you are running a lot of ads on your website. A sentence or two, such as “This post may contain affiliate links”, should be enough with a link to your disclosure/privacy policy. You also want to remember to rel=”sponsored” your affiliate links as best practice.

 

Leverage article markup – Using article structured data markup that includes the “dateModified” attribute is highly recommended. Google knows that your content has been recently updated through article schema. Add a small note with the date the content was updated. This will cover both site users as well as Google’s A.I.

Make sure to link to your author’s page within your article markup so as to enable Google to tie together the content with the expert who wrote it.

 

Fix site errors – If your site has any technical issues that are holding it back, make sure to remove them. These issues may include broken links, duplicate meta descriptions, chain redirects, broken images, etc.

 

Have a visible call to action – Your call to action should be the first thing that you want your site visitor to do. It should be visible as they land each of your pages. It should be short and precise. If you want them to give you a call then say it! – Call Now!

 

Be easy to navigate – Looking at your site from the user’s perspective on both mobile and desktop is vital. Perform a ‘user experience’ (UX) audit, which can pay huge dividends, considering how heavily focused Google is on their version of ‘user experience’.

 

Remove and rewrite thin content – In this case, you should combine a handful of thin pages and create a solid resource of a particular topic. After that, you should redirect all those URLs to that single page. You can hear it in the recent Google hangout video.

 

Verify duplicate content – Check if the content on your website hasn’t been used elsewhere. With third party tools like CopyScape, you can quickly find and resolve duplicate content issues.

 

Refer to Google’s Quality Questionnaire – Google’s August 2019 blog post outlines a big list of questions that you can ask yourself and find out the areas of weakness on your site.

 

Get high-quality user-generated content – Creating user-generated content is important  to encourage reviews for the products that you are selling. Have a Q&A feedback section for big resource articles or prompt positive user comments on your top pages. Not all sites can pull this off, but if you can, nothing like it for your page’s authority.

 

Read Google’s quality guidelines – Take the time out to go through Google’s Quality Guidelines. This all-in-one document is sure to refine your results.

 

After you are done with all the above tricks, make sure to have a read through what Google’s John Mueller said in his recent Google Webmaster Hangout on ways to recover from the most recent update.

 

Again, if you’re affected by the latest update, we can help. Just give us a call and our search experts will be able to assist you right away.

 

Analyis your site?

 

 

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Google recently announced a new initiative known as “Web Vitals”. This initiative has been created to help websites know and improve their important user experience metrics. If this comes off as fairly new to you, we suggest you to first read that update.

 

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With just a few weeks of sharing the news, the search engine giant released yet another information-packed announcement explaining users about how they would be incorporating these user experience metrics into the upcoming algorithm update, planned to be out in 2021, and their factor on the page level.

Read how Google plans to calculate these user experience metrics factors in the future:

“We’re combining the signals derived from Core Web Vitals with our existing Search signals for page experience, including mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines, to provide a holistic picture of page experience. Because we continue to work on identifying and measuring aspects of page experience, we plan to incorporate more page experience signals on a yearly basis to both further align with evolving user expectations and increase the aspects of user experience that we can measure.”

Google also has its focus on making sure websites do not have features that annoy users. Here is an example of how certain referenced buttons shift and lead to accidental clicks:

 

AMP will no longer be a ‘Top Stories’ requirement

Google also revealed that user experience will become such an essential factor that the ‘Top Stories’ carousel will not be limited to just AMP Pages. Rather, there will be more attention on pages with great experience metrics as explained in the Web Vitals Initiative:

“As part of this update, we’ll also incorporate the page experience metrics into our ranking criteria for the Top Stories feature in Search on mobile, and remove the AMP requirement from Top Stories eligibility. Google continues to support AMP and will continue to link to AMP pages when available. We’ve also updated our developer tools to help site owners optimize their page experience.”

 

Actionable strategy

Several studies have proved that better user experience can boost your conversions as well as overall rankings. So get ready to welcome the new update that will revolutionize ranking factors for websites.

As always, if you are looking to revamp your website as per the latest and upcoming Google guidelines, you can get in touch with us for assistance.

 

See How You Can Improve Your User Experience! 

 

 

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The pandemic has led to some major shifts in consumer needs and the way one conducts business, and Google is trying to do its best to accommodate these changes.

In an effort to make it as easy for businesses as possible to adjust to the shifting needs, Google has launched several new GMB features and attributes.

 

What are these new features & attributes?

Here’s a list of some of the latest GMB features and attributes that have been introduced by Google during the COVID-19 situation:

 

  • Online Classes
  • Online Appointments
  • Online Estimates
  • Online Service Bookings
  • Temporarily Closed
  • Secondary Hours
  • COVID-19 Posts
  • Curbside Pickup
  • No Contact Delivery
  • Dine-In
  • Support Links

 

What you should do next

It is recommended that you immediately login and check your Google My Business listing to see whether all of these new features and attributes are available for your industry.

 

If you need any assistance with this, do get in touch.

 

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

 

 

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In an effort to expand its e-commerce capabilities, Facebook rolled out Facebook Shops to enable businesses to set shop on Facebook. Going a step further, this summer, they’re planning on introducing Instagram Shop for businesses in the US. This move is being introduced as “a new way to discover and buy products you love in Instagram Explore.”

Both, Facebook Shops and Instagram Shop services are meant to enable businesses of all sizes to set up online stores through their Facebook and Instagram accounts.

 

The Idea Behind This Move

As per Facebook’s announcement, Facebook Shops is designed to make it easy for sellers to set up a single online store that can be accessed by users on Facebook as well as Instagram. Businesses can choose the products they want to feature and can also customize the look of their online store with a cover image and accent colors.

In their own words,

“People can find Facebook Shops on a business’ Facebook Page or Instagram profile, or discover them through stories or ads. From there, you can browse the full collection, save products you’re interested in and place an order — either on the business’ website or without leaving the app if the business has enabled checkout in the US.”

If and when the customers wish to connect with the businesses to ask questions, get support, track orders, etc., they can do so through WhatsApp, Messenger, or Instagram Direct messages. This service is designed to be a mobile-first experience, for both sellers and buyers, and is free to use.

 

Final Takeaway

During these times, when a strong digital presence is considered a means of survival for almost all businesses, this service is certainly a new avenue worth exploring. If you are into e-commerce and your business has a Facebook page or an Instagram account, then you should definitely try setting up your store on these platforms!

 

Need help in setting up your store? Get in touch with us for assistance.

 

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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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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!

 

 

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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!

 

 

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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!

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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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

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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.

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After RankBrain, BERT is the biggest update by Google Search and is likely to impact 1 in 10 search queries. The previous major algorithm update, RankBrain was introduced by the company around 5 years ago.

BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. It is Google’s neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP) pre-training.

BERT can help computers understand languages a bit more as humans do. In 2018, it was open-sourced by Google. Detailed information about BERT is provided in the Google AI blog.

The rolling out of BERT began earlier this week and it is likely to be fully live within a few more days. As of now, the feature is suitable for only English language queries, but shortly Google might try out other languages.

Google further revealed that BERT is being used globally in all languages in featured snippets.

Understanding the context of words in searches will help better match those queries with relevant results.

Examples of Google Search before and after the release of BERT.

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In one example, Google said, with a search for “2019 Brazil traveler to USA need a visa” the word “to” and its relationship to the other words in query are important for understanding the meaning. Earlier, Google did not understand this connection between words and would return with results about U.S. citizens traveling to Brazil. Google further explained, “With BERT, Search is able to grasp this nuance and know that the very common word “to” actually matters a lot here, and we can provide a much more relevant result for this query.”

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In yet another example, a search for “do estheticians stand a lot at work”, Google said it previously would have matched the term “stand-alone” with the term “stand” used in the query. Google’s BERT models can “understand that ‘stand’ is related to the concepts of the physical demands of the job, and displays a more useful response,” Google said.

In the example below, Google can understand a query more like a human to show a more relevant result on a search for “Can you get medicine for someone pharmacy.”

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Here is an example of Google showing a more relevant featured snippet for the query “Parking on a hill with no curb”. Previously a query like this would confuse Google. “We placed too much importance on the word “curb” and ignored the word “no”, not understanding how critical that word was to appropriately respond to this query. So we’d return results for parking on a hill with a curb.”

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The first AI method for understanding queries, that Google introduced back in 2015, was RankBrain. To understand the meaning of the words, it looks at both – the queries and the content of web pages in Google’s index. It’s additive to Google’s ranking system. BERT is not a replacement for RankBrain, but an addition to Google’s methods for understanding content and queries. It will continue to be in use for some queries unless Google thinks a query can be better understood with the help of BERT. A single query can use multiple methods to understand the language including BERT.

 

Google utilizes a lot of ways to understand the language in your query and how it is relevant to the content on the web. In case you misspell something, Google’s spelling systems will help you get the right word that you would be looking for. Also, if you use a synonym that is there in its relevant documents, Google will still return with appropriate search results.

 

Optimizing for BERT is unlikely! Google already cleared that optimizing for RankBrain cannot be done, which only means that Google is improving at understanding natural language. Users can continue to create digital content as they always do.

Google said this change is “representing the biggest leap forward in the past five years, and one of the biggest leap forward in the history of Search.” This update has so far impacted 10% of all queries, which is a big change. However, after running reports for our clients, we have noticed that the rankings haven’t been affected at all – which isn’t surprising considering we do our basics well.

 

Final Takeaway

We recommend you to keep an eye on your search traffic changes sometime next week and check how much your site got impacted by the addition. If your search traffic seems to be affected, know which landing pages got impacted and by which query. And, if you need professional help – do get in touch with us for assistance.

 

Do You Have Questions About Googles Algorithm? Contact Us!

 

 

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According to a Yelp-commissioned study conducted by SurveyMonkey, almost all online adult users are ready to buy services or products from the local businesses that they discover on Yelp. The survey shows that around about 97% of adult users conduct some sort of transaction with the businesses they find on Yelp.

This survey of over 6,000 adults, is actually a follow up of the study conducted by Nielsen in 2012 and 2016. The figures derived from the 2016 study showed that:

  • 92% of online adults conducted a transaction after visiting Yelp “at least sometimes, frequently or almost always”.
  • 42% of respondents claimed that they made a purchase within 24 hrs and 79% made a purchase within a week.

The 2019 Survey Shows High Purchase Intent

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The figures found in the 2019 survey show considerable growth in Yelp’s influence, as more than half i.e. 51% users claim to transact within 24 hours of visiting a site and close to 90% admit to doing so within a week. It also revealed that 93% of Yelp users compare businesses before making any buying decisions.

 

Yelp claims that both the 2016 and 2019 studies show that Yelp is the “most influential and trustworthy” site when it comes to finding local businesses as compared to “Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor and HomeAdvisor”.

Users Look For More Than Reviews While Comparing Businesses

Although Google has more reviews than Facebook and Yelp, respondents appreciate the other factors, beyond reviews, that they can take into consideration when comparing and evaluating local businesses on Yelp.

  • 75% cared about seeing a business or trade license that a business has
  • 71% cared about the ability to request price estimates online
  • 69% cared about seeing the pictures and costs of previously completed projects
  • 58% cared about knowing the unique characteristics of a business like being open late or being family-owned

 

Final Takeaway

At the end of the day, even though the survey responses do give an indication of the user preferences, it may not be the actual user behavior. However, according to an individual study conducted by FreshChalk Yelp does appear in the top 5 results of 92% of the local business searches on Google. This makes Yelp a critical directory for ranking. The company is also set to roll out new products and features this year, in an effort to differentiate from Google and to diversify revenues.

 

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

 

 

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To improve your SEO it is essential to find and make the most of every opportunity. With digital marketers these days, the first thing they turn to is finding keywords that have a high search volume. However, doing so is not as beneficial as it seems.

Competing with large websites for high or medium volume keywords does not make a huge difference. Here are a few simple methods to rank higher, using more precise, long-tail keywords as primary keyword targets.

Although you might overlook these long-tail keywords as they get less attention than broad keywords that most people look for, they could be just what your SEO needs. With high volume keyword searches becoming more specific, the number of people searching for those terms is likely to decrease. As long-tail keywords have a lower search volume, the competition over them is naturally very less. Fortunately, concentrating on long-tail keywords enables most organizations to set realistic goals for SEO success.

 

  1. Appeal to local searches

Most local businesses struggle to compete with large organizations for broad keywords, and here is where long-tail keywords come into play. Local business owners can get more out of making use of long-tail keywords as compared to broad keywords.

According to statistics, almost half of all Google searches are local searches, and 76% of people will either call or visit the business within 24 hours after making a local business search on mobile. Hence, to give your business more visibility locally, going after local-intent keywords such as your city, zip code, or even state is best for your business. Focus and choose keywords that cater to your city and surrounding areas as they are more specific and the competition is less. This allows your business to become more visible in local searches leading to new customers and increased footfalls.

 

  1. Focus on intent keywords

Be sure to include “Intent Keywords” when tailoring long-tail keyword research for your site’s SEO content as they tend to represent the later stage of a sales funnel and are usually commercial.

Before buying anything online, we always tend to look-up on the internet before making a purchase decision. Online searchers go through the buyer’s journey to get the information they need before they reach any final purchasing decision. During this time, people are inclined more towards long-tail keywords to get more definitive results for the product or service they’re interested in. At first, people search for more general terms such as “black turtleneck” but eventually narrow down the search with specific long-tail keywords such as “ribbed” or “cashmere black turtleneck” to get down to the best, cheapest, or on-sale items.

Intent keywords, such as “best,” “cheapest,” and “discount” have a lower search volume, but the people searching for them can be worth more than a bigger, less interested audience. The search volume decreases as searches get more and more specific with intent keywords, but at the same time, these searches are more valuable.

Checking your organic traffic regularly in Google Analytics is a good practice and the factors that you must consider while analyzing this are as follows:

See which keywords drive more traffic to your site and to what pages specifically.

Check out the landing pages to find out what drove the users there.

Analyze the low-traffic web pages that you would want to rank higher and figure out how you can optimize them.

Make the most of what you have learned about intent keywords on high-traffic pages to fix up the pages that are deteriorating without traffic.

 

  1. Use conversational language for long-tail keywords

As the use of voice searches increases drastically, may it be playing songs by commanding Alexa or searching for a local restaurant with Siri, it is now an essential part of our searches. Although voice searches have made our life easier, many in the world of SEO feel uneasy because of it. There is a fear that voice searches will take over consumer behavior and make the traditional practices obsolete, which is not the case.

 

To rank for voice searches, you will have to change your ways of choosing keywords as whatever people search for verbally will have different verbosity as compared to what they would have typed.

 

Start using long-tail keywords for you to compete in the long run. These keywords are more conversational; as if the person is asking a question to someone. Voice searches also include local searches, so prioritizing long-tail keywords considering verbal search is crucial. Keep in mind that the content you create must rank higher for not just voice searches but also traditional searches.

 

Conclusion

Long-tail keywords may not be a top priority for many, but when implemented with the right amount of work and efforts, they can be a source of easy and direct way of ranking higher on search engines. After all, long-tail keywords are a great example of the adage that not even the smallest things must be missed out when it comes to improving your SEO.

 

What’s Your SEO Score?

 

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Agencies just love our SEO Audit reports. It helps them close SEO deals faster. Some of them have been asking for new features in the SEO Audit report for some time now. As always, we have been listening to their feedback and after a lot of research and brainstorming, we have rolled out some awesome features to our SEO Audit report.

 

Top features you’d love!

  • Do you know that more than 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020! So, is your business ready? Our proprietary algorithm tests your local business for voice search readiness and shows how your information is picked up by Google Assistant in real-time.

 

  • We’ve upgraded our SEO Audits to check your business for local visibility issues including NAP (Name, Address, Phone) consistency in Top 8 sites now instead of 4 in the earlier versions.

(Top 8 sites include – Google, Bing, Yelp, Facebook, Merchant Circle, Tupalo, CitySquares and HotFrog)

  • Learn what people are saying online about your business. We check your business reviews on Top 6 sites now instead of 3.

(Top 6 sites include – Google, Facebook, Yelp, Merchant Circle, CitySquares, HotFrog)

Plus tons of changes under the hood to make SEO Audit reports run faster and deliver more accurate results.

Please start using our new SEO Audit Report. Don’t hesitate to share your valuable feedback with us. You can also get in touch with our Support team to know more about this New SEO Audit Report.

 

Free Instant SEO Audit Of Your Website

 

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Here are the latest pay per click updates we have curated for you this 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.

Bing

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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.

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Earlier in April this year, Google rolled out a Google My Business (GMB) feature that enables users to create short names to define their GMB listing URLs.

With these short brandable names, customers can find you better. Here’s how you can set up a ‘short name’ for your business.

  • Sign in to Google My Business.

 

  • Open the location for which you want to create a short name.

 

  • Click on Info from the menu, then on Add profile short name.

 

  • Enter your short name (should be up to 32 characters). Names that have already been taken cannot be reused so try using new words or a combination of words that can best describe your brand.

 

  • Click on Apply. (Your short name will show as pending for a while before it reflects on your business profile).

 

Final Takeaway: If your business is Google My Business verified, then go ahead and create your custom ‘short name’ without wasting any time as it could give your business the exposure it’s worth.

 

Follow this Guide for more information on how to use the custom short names feature and the policies and terms of service.

 

Questions About Google My Business? Contact Us!

 

 

In true Google fashion, the company recently announced that Google My Business support has now come up with a new way of handling the entire Practitioner Listings process.

 

Where Practitioner Listings Come into the Picture

 

When a number of professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, etc. operate from the same office location but have different clients, Practitioner Listings are used. One has to create multiple Google My Business listings to support such practitioners.

 

However, this process has now undergone a few changes. Here’s a quick look at the said changes

 

  • When a Practitioner Retires

Previously, when a practitioner retired, Google My Business by default marked the listing as ‘Closed’, which often lead the customers to believe that the entire business has shut shop. However, now you can request Google to entirely remove the said listing from Google Maps.

 

  • When a Practitioner Dies

Somewhat similar to the above scenario, Google My Business used to by default mark a listing as ‘Permanently Closed’ when a practitioner died. Again, you can send out a request to Google to completely remove the listing from Maps instead of displaying the rather distasteful messaging.

 

  • When a Practitioner Starts Working Elsewhere

In such cases, you follow the same protocol as before. You are expected to update the practitioner’s listing to display their new business location because Google believes that the listing belongs to the professionals and not the business.

 

These updates are still new, so chances are you might run into some problems when trying to make changes to Practitioner Listings. In case you face any issues, you are most likely to receive a quick solution by reaching out to @GoogleMyBiz on Twitter.

 

Have Questions About Your Google Listing? Contact Us!

 

 

On June 17, to celebrate the International Small Business Day, Google announced the launch of its new website which has been built with an aim to help small businesses grow. The site is designed to match local businesses with Google products and services.

 

During the announcement, Google explained how businesses can take advantage of the three main actions the site offers.

 

  • Personalized Plans: Where businesses need to provide their name, answer a few questions about their business and mention their primary goal. On the basis of the given information, the business will receive a step-by-step, plan of recommendation customized as per their needs. Although the plan includes products to help businesses stand out online, reach more customers, and work more efficiently, it lays more emphasis on the goal that’s most important to a business.

 

  • In-person workshops: The in-person workshops will assist the business owners looking for personalized help. Businesses can locate free Grow with Google workshops happening near them.

 

  • Latest News: With the latest news, businesses can stay updated about Google’s small business-focused tools and services.

 

If you are a new business, looking for an opportunity to grow your online presence, this website is the right platform for you.

They provide a mix of free and paid service recommendations, that can help you grow your business. You can analyze which of these could be most helpful for your business and take a trial.

 

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

 

 

You already know that Google introduced the new Search Console in January. Google has now announced that the new Search Console will NOT support the Preferred Domain Setting.

 

Google stated that the reason for removing the Preferred Domain Setting is that often websites have the same content on multiple URLs, and to make things easier Google will now recognize and pick the one “canonical” URL for you.

 

You can still let google know your preferences.

 

Google is not really taking everything out of your hands; you can still let them know which is your preferred domain. Here are some of the ways in which you can accomplish this:

 

  • Use “canonical” link tag on HTML pages
  • Use “canonical” HTTP header
  • Use a sitemap
  • Use 301 redirects for retired URLs

 

For more details on ways in which you can communicate your preferences to Google, take a look at its help center article – Consolidate Duplicate URLs.

 

How this update affects you

Google has made it very clear that they will no longer use any of the existing Search Console preferred domain configuration and setting. Hence, it is important that you check your Google search results to ensure that the canonical URL you listed in Google has not changed with this update.

 

Grade Your Website

 

 

 

 

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.