How to use Google My Business to improve SEO

How to use Google My Business to improve SEO

It’s frustrating when you search for a business and get the wrong answer.  Did you know that you can edit how your business listing is displayed in Google search results?  It’s called Google My Business.

This short slide deck shows what you can do in the tool and then how to use it to improve how your business is listed.

Have you forgotten about directory listings for local search?

Yet again, Google has changed its search page layout – the right sidebar went last week…. Now, does that matter for your business or not?

The old sidebar had adverts in it and now adverts only appear at the very top of the search listings.  This is a “reduced real estate” situation in the lingo.  Where 8 adverts used to appear, there are now only 4.  That means that competition for advertising space is doubled – prices may rise.  What that means for most business owners is that if advertising gets more pricey, you can choose whether to adjust your budgets.  I recommend spending on natural site search as an alternative.  Every recent Google algorithm update has hit the ‘game-the-system’ players hard and rewarded websites with strong on-site content.  Put your money into your own website rather than into Google’s pockets.

Local Search Matters

So first, let’s check your business and how it shows up in the Google local pack.  This is the map and associated listings with pins showing locations.  Google are showing a map of local businesses into your search results.  This allows the physical location of a business to influence whether prospects choose you or not.  So it’s important to get listed accurately.  Go first to Google My Business https://business.google.com and start registering and verifying.

Local google search showing map and address

Local google search showing map and address

Is your information accurate?

Step one is to clean up your NAP citations.  NAP is the acronym for Name, Address and Phone data. This clearly tells a visitor that a business is local.  You should claim your business and get listed accurately.  Be consistent, don’t shorten words like Street or use different variations of ST. St, and Street.  [Did you see the comma and full stop there?]

Now, what about other citations?

Do a broad search for your business name, owners names and all possible variants as well as geographic searches.  List every website where you can be found.  There may be many as most directories are aggregators of others’ content and so mistakes get flicked on and on to more websites.

In the good old days every business was on Yellow Pages and I still think that’s a great place to start your directory listings.  But Yelp is increasingly important..  go and search for your business on yelp.co.nz and ‘claim’ it.  Then you can log in and edit the details.

Yelp claim your business

Yelp claim your business

When you claim your listing, be very careful to select the correct category for your business. And please, be consistent – write down a standard short and medium length text description which you can use everywhere.  Also write one about your products or services.  And another about the business owner(s).

Now here’s a list of the local directory sites where it is worthwhile “claiming” your business listing and this is the process I recommend you run through for each one. 

  1. see if you are already listed
  2. is the information NAP accurate?
  3. edit or insert for the first time as necessary
  4. keep a record of your logins so they aren’t lost to the business when you leave
  5. set a future diary date every 6 months to review and update the listing.

Selected New Zealand online directories

  • Localist.co.nz
  • yellow.co.nz
  • hotfrog.co.nz/
  • Finda.co.nz
  • NZPages.co.nz
  • ZipLeaf.co.nz
  • Gopher.co.nz
  • NZS.com
  • Yelp.co.nz
  • BusinessMe (paid)
  • NZDirectory.co.nz
  • cylex.co.nz/
  • nz.kompass.com/
  • Bing.com
  • nz.yahoo.com/
  • nz.search.yahoo.com/
  • www.zapmeta.co.nz/
  • foursquare.com
  • NZBusinessdb.com
  • The Local Business Network [New 2017]

Please share your tips for other directories as we can all learn more!

This article was first published on 

Improving your local SEO is an important part of your business marketing.  It’s all part of Getting your website working hard for your business [there’s a free ebook telling you how].

Read more blog posts about Who You Are and Profile Raising by clicking the icons below. Each is a step in our 8 Step Methodology 

8 step new business process. Step 1 Who are you?4 Profile

Unusual Christmas gifts for business

A client asked us what they could do to thank their clients for their business that was more original than a christmas card.  Here’s a summary of our suggestions:

Charity Gifts

Do a charity donation plus a performance.  I know the CEO of StarJam a charity empowering young people wiht disabilities through performance and singing.  Pay to sponsor their class for a year (it costs $30 per child per month), invite all your clients to a drinks party (mid-winter) and get a performance from the troupe.  I’ve experienced these and they are very powerful, plus it’s local and community building.
Better still, make the donation in the name of your client and get StarJam to send a thank you card direct to the client so they know it was given by you but they get the recognition.

Subscription gifting

Choose something that comes once a month so clients remember you throughout the year.  The Ma Cherie cafe makes exquisite French macaroons and pastries (I had breakfast there today) and they could send a box gift from you all.  Or FarroFoodKits (Auckland only) or SnackPack the Honest Food Co,

Others include Bacon delivery or beauty products, pet gift boxes or shaving products monthly.

Cafe Direct the ethical coffee and tea business offers “Handpicked” a monthly selection club.

Overall, a good business gift should be memorable, enjoyable and if you can, unusual and over-riding all these it must align with your brand values.
Here are a few other helpful articles which may give you inspiration
  • Forbes list of gifts to keep you top of mind

    Helpful lightbox advising shipping information

    Helpful lightbox advising shipping information

  • The Uncommon Gifts company – helpful lightbox pops up to advise they ship to New Zealand.
  • The Great Gift company UK – nice categories to select from by recipient.
  • That Sweet Gift – has a holiday gift guide

Create Demand By Learning How to Make Your Website Perform

This is the webinar of the year which we’ve put together for you.

In it, Rebecca explains how to find out if your website is performing using 3 simple free testing tools.  You should do these tests now and see if the results match your expectations.

  • How to run a website (design and functionality)
  • Top 3 website frustrations business owners have and how to solve them
  • Top tips to get your website generating leads
  • 3 Free tools to test your own website to see if it’s performing (or not)

 

Grow your mailing list fast – with a Lightbox

One of the simplest and yet, most effective methods we have found to grow our mailing list at Creative Agency Secrets, has been with the integration of a ‘Lightbox’ or a ‘pop-up’ plugin.

For any business operating with an online presence (let’s face it, if you’re not, you should be!), one of your primary objectives should be to acquire email addresses of potential customers to sell your glorious products and services.

However, relying on customers to navigate your site and opt themselves in is like telling your dog to fetch a ball that it doesn’t know exists. You need to show them the ball and especially why they want to chase it!

Okay, what is a lightbox?

To put it simply, a lightbox is an extension programme on your website that jumps up at your visitors displaying a customised message, usually requesting visitors to supply their email address in exchange for some kind of benefit. These benefits are typically newsletter subscriptions, prize giveaways, eBooks, online courses and other free rewards.

Key factors to building an effective lightbox

  • Firstly, your lightbox needs to stand out. Web users are exposed to multiple lightboxes on a daily basis. You need to ensure yours captures their attention. Most lightbox software allows customisation of colour schemes and text which aid in making it visually appealing when it appears on your website. Aside from being eye catching, you need a powerful and enticing message that will draw them in as well as outline clearly what they get.
  • The lightbox should serve a single purpose – sign up here to receive benefit ___. If you make it too complicated, visitors will lose patience and simply close it without completing the signup.
  • Offer your visitors something that they want. No visitor is going to sign up for your offer if they have no interest in it or cannot see any real value from it.
  • Set frequency and page display settings to something reasonable that will not drive people away. Your lightbox should be a passive reminder, not an aggressive punch in the face to get visitors to sign up.
  • Associate it with your email client management software and it will directly import the email addresses it collects into that programme, saving you time and effort.

Once you have your lightbox setup, you simply launch it and leave it to acquire all those precious email addresses on its own. Easy!

bizsparkup lightbox creative agency secrets

An example of a Sumo Lightbox on a client’s website

Some lightboxes work better than others however. Our previous (paid) lightbox on one client’s website appeared cluttered and ‘busy’ on the webpage. After some deliberation we decided we should see what else was available.

We assessed a number of alternatives across a range of features such as mail client integration, level of customisation, price and so forth. Although paid and free versions existed for most options, we discovered the benefits of many of the premium lightbox providers were not substantial enough to justify the purchase.

Our clear favourite at the end of the process was a product called ‘List Builder’ developed by Sumo*. Their simple user interface meant it was pleasant for our visitors to engage with and the customisable colour and text allowed us to align the lightbox with our clients’ brands.

In the first few months, we saw the number of subscribers jump from roughly 20 – 30 per month to over 300! Our mailing lists continue to grow steadily and our lightbox is undoubtedly a key driver in facilitating this.

So what are you waiting for? Convert your web traffic into willing customers immediately, or get in touch if you would like us to help you get there.

*For a full breakdown of the lightboxes we compared, click here.

Good copywriting for membership websites

This month we’re working on two clients both with membership businesses.  They need strong copywriting on both their home page and the landing / squeeze page where the pitch for members is made.

We got out and tried to find some good examples of membership sites where a really compelling landing page lays out the offer and the benefits.

It was surprisingly hard.

I had hoped that Copyblogger would be good – but despite moving much of their content behind an email registration wall, the old landing page is no longer there – maybe they’re so well known that the benefits are no longer needed.

We did find some….

Blogging Concentrated Prime

A subscription service for monthly coaching and education on all aspects of blogging for profit – this page really lays out the details of what a member gets and shows archive material which is also available to each new joiner.  The video welcome is a nice touch.

Blogging Concentrated Prime membership area

Blogging Concentrated Prime membership area

Tom Poland’s 8020 Center

A totally different approach is used by expert business coach, Tom Poland.  He uses a letter form to make a strong offer in the headline and a personal offer – with a guarantee.

Tom Poland's 8020 Center offer

Tom Poland’s 8020 Center offer copywriting

EConsultancy and Digital Marketer

Both offering education services to modern marketers, these sites have a near-identical page layout and copy style.  Interestingly, the DM list of advisory courses look like individual tiles, but they all go to a letter-style long copy landing page from the founder, Ryan Deiss.

Econsultancy landing page copywriting example

Econsultancy landing page copywriting example

Digital Marketer landing page copywriting example

Digital Marketer landing page copywriting example

 

Got any other examples?

Anniversary marketing campaign ideas

 

Linda Horton from Bermuda makes amazing Bermudan Black Rum Cakes and is planning a 30th

Horton’s Bermudan Black Rum Cake

Anniversary Marketing event.  Here’s what we recommended

  • Create a special cake (unique box, big plus small cake in one box, different sizes, multi-buy)
  • Use your database of past customers and create a mailing campaign
  • Create a landing page on your website “30th Anniversary” – on the page talk about the history of the company and tell them there will be a contest every week during July and you’re planing a special cake edition.  As each email gets sent out, edit the page to include more and more information

Send messages as follows

  • 1 month in advance (1 June) telling them to expect something special at the anniversary.
  • 2 weeks later tell them what it will be and say you’re taking advance orders at a special discounted price for 1 week only.  [This is useful because you then know the volume you need to bake.]
  • 1 week after – send an email saying you will raise the price to the normal price on the website in 1 day [this will drive more sales].
  • On 1 July start the contest on Facebook and also run it on the website.  Include a simple entry form so you get their email addresses.
  • On 8 July announce the winner of the first week on Facebook and the website page.  Also email every person who entered and did not win offering them a special price on a cake and encouraging them to enter again.
  • Repeat each week till the end of July.
If you want to boost contest entries you can do Facebook advertising to send people to your landing page.
I am really looking forward to the cake Linda’s sending over for the team… morning coffee will never be the same again!

 

How do you know that your business website is performing?

Business websites are no longer a ‘set-and-forget’ business asset. Any website which you haven’t touched for months or years is depreciating faster than melting ice cream in summer. It is not helping your business.

The race to perform on Google was thought to be an un-winnable chase for small businesses who don’t have huge marketing promotion budgets.

That is no longer true.

All businesses run on Key Performance Indicators and so today I am going to run through a few important measurements that you can use to see if your website is performing well.

Going Web Mobile

The first one – and the most important is mobility. Google has announced that it will be including mobile-friendliness as part of its algorithm from 21st April.
Test your website here 

If your website fails the test – get in touch with your developers and build a mobile friendly website.

Machine readers for key words

The second one is a quick test to see how a “machine” reads the words on your website. We all know Google, Bing and Yahoo are search engines. What we forget is that engines aren’t human. When machines read web pages they find different emphases than we humans do.

Here’s a test you can do – take the words from your website home page and paste them into the Open Calais Viewer  Click ‘submit’ and then they tell you which words and phrases a machine thinks are important in what you’ve written. If those words are not the most important key words for your website – re-write them until they align.

Clever humans have written another machine reader which also shows sentiment analysis – what subtle messages are communicated using the tone of voice and context of your home page texts. Take the same words and paste them into Alchemi API Language . The keywords tab on the left is colour coded to show positive (green), negative (red) and neutral (grey) sentiment. The size of the squares shows the perceived importance of each phrase.

Expert copywriting for the web combines both human and machine reading – it’s very worthwhile getting these right.  Creative Agency Secrets are copywriting experts.

If you can write clearly about what you do, show off pictures and short articles and work with social media, email marketing and old-fashioned direct mail then your business can stand out.

Get local

Did you know that Google, as the premier search engine, is getting increasingly local? You do not have to compete with a huge national firm who does the same thing as you. It’s easy now just to set your search horizon to the local geography that you serve.

Let me prove it to you. Open up a search engine (Google, Yahoo Search or Bing) and search for “Your business name” and “Your suburb”. Do you show up? Probably yes.

Now change the search to “Your business type/profession” and “Your suburb”. Same answers? Or not?

Narrowing the search terms you show up for allows local businesses to shine as beacons to the local prospective customers they want to work with. And for New Zealand business owners, this is a godsend. Google’s Webmaster Tools are free supports that allow you to register your physical location with them so you can include a Google Map with a red pin at your location. Then customers can easily find your premises and load directions into their mobile phone maps for driving directions.

The hard part of web marketing

There was always going to be a “BUT” in this article…. well here it is.

You cannot get the search results you want with a static website that hasn’t been updated or changed for months.

This means that business owners need to learn how to rub and maintain their websites, just like driving a car – this means acquiring a knowledge of how to present your business to its best advantage, how to show off your skills, how to find the right audience and encourage them to come to your website – not just once but over and over.

In short, you need to learn how to Drive Your Website.

We are running training during May 2015 in 5 cities in NZ to teach you how to do this.  Blogging Concentrated NZ starts on May 1st in Auckland and ends in Christchurch on May 9th.

Improve The Way Your Website Appears On Google

We’re often asked by clients when we begin working with them to increase their Google presence. So what’s the easiest way to do this?

Simply put – you need to help Google to help you.

Follow the steps below to increase the size of your “Online Real Estate”.

Map/Contact Details (The Red Boxes)

The easiest thing to do add to your “property portfolio” is create a Google+ Page for your business. Go to http://www.google.co.nz/business/ and register your business.  Chances are, Google has already added your site to their index and simply wants you to verify the information before it displays it as it does in the red boxes.

After locating your business (and verifying if need be) you’ll be greeted with your Business Google+ Dashboard. It’s here you can add phone numbers, office hours, address and map location.

Google_Meta_Descriptions

Sitelinks (The Yellow Box)

Most sites don’t have what is known as “Sitelinks” when you search for their business. These are drawn from Google’s index of your website and are based on what Google thinks are the most important pages on your site.  Sometimes you and Google disagree on this!

Getting The Sitelinks

Enabling Google to index your site and enable Sitelinks is simple – submit an effective Sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools and ensuring your robots.txt file isn’t blocking the pages you want as Sitelinks.

These steps assume you’ve already verified your site on Google Webmaster Tools (click here if you haven’t)

  1. Generate a sitemap.xml file (using either a sitemap plugin or a generator such as http://www.web-site-map.com/).
  2. Upload your sitemap to your site’s root folder (the URL will most likely be www.yourcompanyname.com/sitemap.xml).
  3. On your Webmaster Tools home page, select your site.
  4. In the left sidebar, click Crawl and then Sitemaps.
  5. Click the Add/Test Sitemap button in the top right.
  6. Complete your sitemap.xml URL into the text box that appears.
  7. Click Submit Sitemap.

Checking Your Robots.Txt File

  1. Still in Webmaster tools, under Crawl, click robots.txt Tester.
  2. At the bottom of the page, enter the URLs you want to be sitelinks and ensure Googlebot is “Allowed” to index them.

Choose Which Pages Are Linked

Although most of your site hierarchy is decided in the Sitemap (Google “page priority levels” if you’re not sure), how Google deals with multiple pages with the same Priority Level is purely random.

Therefore to make sure the ones you want to appear appear you have to “demote” certain pages from appearing. On the left menu under “Search Appearance” you’ll find “Sitelinks”. On this page you’ll be able to enter in the URLs of the pages you don’t want to be used as Sitelinks on your Google search results.

*Don’t forget to shorten the metadata description on the pages that are Sitelinks – most SEO guides suggest 160 characters or fewer – however for best results we try to use 90 (that way Google won’t shorten your description, cutting out important information).

Of course, if you’ve got any questions about setting these up or other best practices do please leave us a comment or Contact Us – we’re always happy to help!