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Stay ahead in the Google Pack

Google+ never really worked for Google and it finally breathed its last a few days ago. It’s no surprise that – as Google+ was wound down – Google My Business became more important.

Why there are two types of local search

When we search for things on Google or Bing, we are given results based on our location. When I’m in Bakewell and search for ‘barbers’ I get results of barbers in Bakewell. I can override this by searching for something + a place, let’s say ‘barbers matlock’. Often, I might search for things a long way away, say if I’m going to visit. My cousin lives in London so when she holidays near Bakewell she googles ‘things to do in bakewell’ and finds out what to do in and around Bakewell. So there are two types of local search;

  1. Supplying results for people in the area. Great for businesses who want to attract passing trade.
  2. Supplying results for people with an interest in an area. Great for businesses who want to attract tourists or business travellers. Good for link building too.

The two types of (free) local search result and how to come top

Google and Bing return many different types of search result depending on many factors. As far as local business is concerned these break down into two groups:

  1. The Local Pack – The map and 3 or 4 results which (often) appear above the normal search results but often below the paid (AdWords) results.
  2. The organic results – Unpaid ‘normal’ listings appearing beneath the ads and local listings.

Google ranks these listings based on different factors (or signals). So, what are they?

Well last year – according to the hardworking guys at moz.com and brightlocal.com – inbound links remain very important in ranking across both types of search result. Google My Business is important for both as well but has sky rocketed over 2018 for governing what ranks in local search results.

These results come from the Moz/BrightLocal survey done at the end of 2018. It’s difficult to say for sure but – with the end of Google + a couple of weeks ago – it seems likely that the importance of Google My Business will only increase.

Before you get a website.

Five things new businesses should do before getting a website, all for £0.
  1. Get a Google My Business page. 90% of UK searches are through Google and Google lists businesses Google My Business page higher than actual local businesses websites. A Google my business page is free and easy to setup so long as you’re a bonified business.
  2. Get on Bing too. If 90% of searchers are through Google, then the rest are through Bing and Yahoo, so it makes sense to have a free Bing listing too (Bing powers Yahoo search). To make it even easier, you can import your info from Google my Business.
  3. Get a Facebook page and make sure it’s a page (not a profile or group). Facebook might not seem like the right place for your business, but it’s used by 2 billion people, many of whom don’t use any other method of communicating online. Connect to your friends and ask them to share details about your business to reach a wider audience.
  4. Claim or add your company to Apple Maps. Not everyone has the good sense to trust Google. Let the unfortunates using Apple Maps know where you are. Here’s a handy link: https://mapsconnect.apple.com/ GOOD FOR BUSINESSES WITH A WALK IN SERVICE
  5. Get people to review you. Google and Facebook allow users to review businesses and both types of review appear in Google search. Ask your customers to leave a review. Ask your friends too but don’t try and cheat. Fake reviews are easy to spot and you may get banned from the platform.

Website name guidelines

Choosing a name for your site can be difficult. Should the domain name represent your company, the industry you are in or be something more abstract but catchy? Below is a list of points to keep in mind when choosing your name.
1) Your domain name is the technical term used for your website name so for example Google’s domain name is www.google.co.uk
2) Your domain name does not need to be the same, or even like your company name so for example Alphabet Inc.’s domain name is abc.xyz
3) For trust purposes it can be good for your domain name to represent your company name. If it doesn’t then you should clearly state on your website that this domain is owned and operated by your company.
4) Your domain name does not need to start with www, but it is recommended as less technical users expect web addresses to begin that way. In any case typing in the domain with or without www should be set to resolve to one or the other. www.abc.xyz resolves to abc.xyz for example.
5) Websites are ranked by a number of factors but a very important one is the domain name. Therefore, to appear well in search results it is helpful if your domain name contains keywords your visitors are likely to search for so a key website providing information on search engines domains is called searchenginewatch.com. (More established sites like Google do not have to worry about this).
6) Because internet search is keyword driven a domain name should include something that clearly distinguishes you from your competitors. A very generic name may lead to a competitor being listed higher than you in organic search results.
7) More generally, domain names should be fairly short, memorable and easy to communicate (for example over the telephone).
8) Avoid punctuation for example anewsite.co.uk is better than a-new-site.co.uk
9) Use an extension which is correct for your organization. For UK based businesses this is .co.uk. For international ones .com. None profit, government and educational sites have their own extension types.
10) Your domain name is not set in stone, but changing it can be confusing not only for your customers but also for the host of different websites which will soon be referencing it. If you do decide to change a name, make sure it is done properly with the right type of diverts put in place.
Some good examples; www. dolphinwebdesign.co.uk, www.dolphinaccountants.co.uk. Some bad examples; www.thebestwebdesign.co.uk, www.thebestaccountants.co.uk.

Marketing on the Web – Feeling Overwhelm?

When deciding on a new marketing strategy you might think the path forward obvious or you might be overwhelmed by choices. Either way, it pays to consider all of the available options and to give proper consideration to their potential benefits. Any strategy will cost either in time or money and often both. Because of the open nature of the web, you also run the risk of looking bad in front of your customers and competitors, there is nothing worse than an untended Facebook page with customer queries and comments lying un-responded too.

I’ve come up with a list of over 30 different interrelated web marketing options and nearly everyone comes with a number of different methods of implementation. Some, like ‘offline advertising’ are just vague headings for a much larger number of options whilst others, like Search and Display ads fit together as different options in a larger marketing strategy.

  • Article Writing
  • Amazon Lists and Reviews
  • Bebo
  • Blogging
  • Deal Sites
  • Display Ads
  • Directory Listings
  • Email Marketing
  • Flickr
  • Foursquare
  • Facebook            Google PlusInstagram
  • In Store Advertising
  • Lead Generators
  • Link Building
  • LinkedIn
  • Local Info Sites
  • Local SEO
  • Loyalty Programs
  • Marketplace Utilization
  • News Releases  PinterestOffline Advertising
  • Q&As and Forums
  • Review Sites
  • Search Ads
  • SEO
  • Social Media Ads
  • Tagged
  • Text Message Marketing
  • Twitter
  • Video Marketing

This list only contains the largest and most effective social media networks and only those big in the English speaking world. If you’re operating in a specific niche then you might need to target a specific social network like Habbo (kids) or Last.fm (music). If you’re doing business in China then you’ll want to be taking a look at Qzone and Sina Weibo whilst Friendster is still popular in Southeast Asia.This list is extensive, although it could be easily enlarged. Even with limitless money and time, trying to cover too many marketing channels would be a bad idea, your message is likely to become unclear and your customers will feel overwhelmed. Better to pick a few key channels that you know you can keep across, even at busy times.

When choosing the marketing mix which is right for you, it’s important to not only consider direct costs but also how to minimize the amount of time you’ll need to keep your various channels running. Some channels will utilize the same resources and so minimize costs. Keyword research for example, is time consuming but can facilitate a number of different marketing strategies whilst SEO is essential for Google SERPs but equally for at least half of the marketing channels I’ve mentioned.

One great way to cover a number of different channels easily is to repurpose content. You can often use copy written for your website or blog across other channels with minimal changes. On this site for a property maintenance and window restoration company, I’ve essentially used the same copy to create a company LinkedIn page. I’ve decided to change the copy around so that Google and the human reader don’t find it too repetitive (if you want to use exactly the same copy, make sure you use rel=”canonical”). I’ve also used an image from the site, cropping it to meet LinkedIn’s requirements.

In summary then, remember not only to target channels that will work well in your industry but also those that complement each other. And remember, don’t over stretch yourself. Better to start too small and build then to take too much on and end up failing at it all!

Getting to Know the Online Market

Investigating an Online Market

If you have a product or service you want to sell online, or if you are already selling online but would like better results there are several ways you can investigate your online market. Once you have a broad understanding of the market you will have a better idea of how easy it will be to market your goods/services and suggest ways to compete with competitors already in the market place. Once you have an understanding yourself, you will feel more confident about getting professional help.

Key Steps to Assessing the Online Market

Make Sure Your Expectations are Realistic

It’s easy to think that the internet can provide an easy cheap alternative to main stream marketing. You may have read about the success of some company in the paper or even know of companies yourself who talk about the how online marketing worked for them. You may even have ideas for some new viral video or iphone ap that you think might take off. The truth today is that, unless you’re really lucky, there is no cheap and easy way to have an impact on the net.

Anyone planning a new online marketing strategy needs to understand both the limitations and the opportunities the internet provides. Most internet marketing strategies take time to implement and may also have a monetary cost. Generally cheaper strategies take time to start to have an effect whilst a paid advertising campaign can deliver fast results if it’s run right. Furthermore, what works for some companies won’t necessarily work for others, copying an existing strategy from a competitor is unlikely to yield the same results. And as for being the next big internet craze? In today’s congested internet you’re unlikely to stand out no matter how good your idea is.

So there the limitations, what about the opportunities? Well, although getting new marketing strategy up and running may cost time and money, because the internet offers incredibly powerful methods of tracking your online audience customers and prospects, over time you can not only reduce costs and ensure good return on investment, but also gain invaluable insight into your target audience to inform you on future initiatives both on and off line. The opportunities the internet offers for gaining market insights and spotting trends, and at low cost, is simply not possible off line no matter how much cash you have to spend.

The internet also offers a number of excellent ways to acquire new customers and build your brand not only online but offline as well. Today large numbers of people are moving from traditional ways of investigating the market (magazine reviews, showrooms) to researching products and services online. What is even more important is that, with the rise of the internet, traditional media is becoming less and less trusted. Modern, techsavie people are far more likely to trust the informal reviews of their piers than a magazine advert or even an editorial.

The Googles Move to Local

This article is outdated. Read about Google My Business Here:
https://www.sbat.co.uk/stay-ahead-in-the-google-pack/

The Googles Move to Local

In 2009 Google changed its search algorithm to take account of a user’s geographic location and rank companies local to you, higher in its organic listings. For this to work, you don’t have to be logged into Google. If you’re not signed in, Google will locate you based on your computers IP address (often inaccurately).

How it Works

In the past, users have become used to searching for services by adding a location to their search query. The most common method is to suffix the location for example ‘Professional Photographer Derbyshire’ or ‘Indian Restaurant in Sheffield’. Needless to say, Google is wise to this and uses this kind of information as well. This means that if you’re sat at home in London but plan to visit Sheffield for the snooker, you will still get relevant results.

Local is Not Everything

It’s important to bear in mind that Local Search is just one part of the mix. The other parts of search are still vitally important and a highly regarded site (with many inbound links etc.) will still often outrank a locally based site. Still, as mobile search becomes more and more important and as directories on and off line become less relevant, Google Local seems to be getting more important.

Beyond Organic Search

Location isn’t just important for organic search engine results, it’s also essential for anybody advertising through Google targeting a specific area. Adwords allows for very specific geographic targeting and gives you the option between targeting based on specified/discerned location and the older suffix method described above (or both). The number of photographers, plumbers and florists advertising nationally, when they actually only server a relatively small area is astonishing. This is no doubt why so many locally based businesses become frustrated with Adwords quickly.

Location is also important because of its interaction with Google+. Try entering a search term like ‘Event Photographer Derbyshire’ and see what comes up. You’ll probably see paid ads at the top, then possibly some organic search results and then a long list of companies taken from Google+. It’s pretty clear that a local business can’t just rely on Facebook, even if Google+ is still woefully underused (at least in the UK).