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Local Business

Search Engine Results

INFOGRAPHIC: New Google Search Results Page: What Your Small Business Needs to Know

By | Google, Google Adwords, Infographics, Local Business, Online Marketing, Pay-Per-Click, PPC, SEO | No Comments

Forget Facebook’s new Reactions. That’s not the biggest change in online marketing this week by a long shot.

Just when you think you know Google, the search engine giant decides to change up how it displays results.

We blogged about the change to the local listing pack — formerly known as the 7-pack — back when it was rolled out in August. Now, Google has given itself another makeover, creating a sleeker Search Engine Results Page (SERP) with some notable change-ups.

See how Google's #SERP changes impact your #SEO & #onlinemarketing efforts! Click To Tweet

Here’s what you should know about Google’s new look — and its implications for your online marketing efforts.

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What to Expect in SEO in 2016!

By | Google Changes, Google Maps, Google My Business, Local Business, local search, mobile phone, mobile search, Mobile Websites, Mobile-Friendly, Online Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Optimization Changes, SEO, Small business, smart phone, Social Media | No Comments

When it comes to SEO, we unfortunately don’t have a guidebook detailing what to expect, or a crystal ball for predicting the date of the next algorithm change.

We do, fortunately, have some hunches about what we think is pretty darn likely to go down in 2016.

Check out what we think might be in the cards for online marketing in the next year.

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Home Service Ads

Google’s New Home Service Ads Could Spell Trouble for Local Businesses

By | Google Changes, Local Business | No Comments

And you thought the Snack Pack was rough on local businesses. Right around the same time Google rolled out the Snack Pack, the search giant began beta testing in the San Francisco Bay area what could be an even more significant, and potentially devastating, update to its search engine results page (SERP) and local listings.

Google’s New Home Service Ads

Take a look at this screen grab of a search for “san francisco plumber,” juxtaposed with the same search for Lee’s Summit, MO (TTP HQ). Looks a little… different.

Home Service AdsSnack Pack
The Lee’s Summit search is a prime example of the new Snack Pack of local listings, while the San Francisco one seems to throw that update right out the door in favor of an even more refreshed look. And while a map is noticeably missing from the San Francisco search, that isn’t the most significant change with this beta test. This little pack of three isn’t a group of top organic local listings, like in the Snack Pack – these are sponsored, paid advertisements, known as home service ads, from the plumbers listed.

Sponsored

(Okay, they “may” be paid. Right.)

When you click on “More” at the bottom of the pack of home service ads, rather than seeing an expanded map with additional local listings, like you do with the Snack Pack, searchers are now taken to this page:

Send Request
Here, you can select the type of plumbing job you need and then send requests to one, two or all of the listed professionals, straight through Google.

What’s Going On?

Like we mentioned before, this beta testing of home service ads is only in the San Francisco Bay area. It’s currently restricted to handymen, house cleaners, locksmiths and, of course, plumbers (home services), but we predict it will rapidly spread not only across the country, but across industries and professions.

What Does This Mean for Me?

While the answer should surprise no one, that doesn’t make it any less disappointing. The expansion of the home service ads beta testing into a full-blown update comes with a few consequences:

  • SERPs will have more ad space
  • They will have significantly less organic local listings
  • Local businesses will have to spend money

If you are a local business, no matter how hard you have focused your efforts, whether by yourself or through an online marketing agency such as TTP, if you have not invested money in paid search for Google, you will be affected.

With more ad space and less room and focus on organic local listings, we expect clients to see a decrease in calls as their links begin to drop and get buried in the paid results.

What Can I Do?

As local business lovers, we’re on your side. We encourage you to contact your Account Executive with any questions or concerns you may have as to how home service ads may impact your business. And if you’re not yet a client, we welcome you to call us at (816) 527-8371 or (844) 889-5001 to get in touch with one of our online marketing experts.

web design

Web Design Techniques to Encourage Interaction on Your Site

By | Local Business, Online Marketing, Small business, Website Content | No Comments

Every website must have a purpose. When visitors come to your site, you want there to be an outcome from the visit. Whether it’s commenting on a blog article, submitting a contact form, or buying a product, you want your web design to foster engagement in some way. It makes no sense to start your web design by just throwing a bunch of pictures and text online and tell everyone to check out your website. That’s like inviting everyone over to your house to watch your dog take a dump. If you don’t give something of value to offer, you won’t get something of value.

Here are a few web design techniques that every website should have so you’re not exchanging your visitor’s time for the value of your dog’s crap.

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Finding Time

By | Business Growth, Local Business, Online Marketing | No Comments

The whole family gathered around the dinner table is an American tradition. Around 40 or 50 years ago the only interruption to this wonderful family event was television or maybe radio. We all remember our Mother’s complaining the TV was ruining the family because we never talked anymore. Moms constantly hit the the “OFF” button, insisting we all sat and talked while we ate. Now the family dinner table has become a “texting” area with regular Facebook updates and tweets (not from the birdies). Sometimes it feels like there is not time to eat. The distractions are limitless. Any conversation seems to center around the latest viral video on Youtube, cool Ipod games or something Aunt Nellie just posted about Uncle Bill. This mobile digital age can make you feel like your drowning in a sea of information – talk about sensory overload. Our ability to siphon what information we will actually ingest is being tested more than ever.  Information is shared like never before; we have more of it, we get it quicker and with loads more detail (sometime a lot more than we need or want). Technology has provided tools to help deal with this information overload more efficiently and make it somewhat manageable. Even so our capacity to deal with so much information is controlled by the limit on hours in the day and the speed that our minds can process information. We are learning to multi-task like never before, if you are reading this post in a coffee shop or restaurant you are probably having a conversation with someone about something completely different.  Mobility drives our ability to absorb more information; we can gather information on the go. Cell phones are used less and less for talking and more for information.

So how does a business owner compete for time and space?

Developing a Mindset

The new online marketing age is permission centric. With so much information available at the touch of a screen, nobody is really interested in having “stuff” interrupting their information filled day. The first step for any business owner to participate is at least to contribute to the information flow. Any business not having a consistent approach to the new digital age is akin to an Ostrich burying their head in the sand. Mobile and digital technology is spreading exponentially into the fabric of our daily lives. If you are a business owner in denial, first take your head out of the sand, if thats where it is, and start participating. If you are not promoting your business ideals online, someone else probably will.

Develop a Plan

Before you go rushing off with a plan on how to assault this digital information highway head on, think for a second. Consistency is key. There is a lot of information online thats a dead end, somebody started and didn’t finish. You need a plan to find the time to contribute on a consistent basis. A business owners day is busy. Finding time for additional tasks requires planning. So lets start with some things to consider when planning how to move into the online marketing arena:

  1. There is no minimum weekly time commitment consistency is key
  2. If you spent 10 hours every day working at it, there is still more to do
  3. Anything regular and consistent is better than nothing or sporadic stabs

Our experience is local businesses make the time to network and meet business partners all the time. This is great. We also recommend businesses make the time to consistently participate in the digital information highway. It is the greatest single networking opportunity available. Develop a long term plan to consistently promote your business online it will help you succeed.

Getting Engaged

By | Local Business, Online Marketing, Social Media | No Comments

Social Media is a different and refreshing marketing medium. You need to be intelligent and genuine. You can’t just throw your sales pitch out there onto your chosen social network platforms telling people to buy. We chuckle at car sales television ads shouting their great deals loudly at potential buyers. How long will they be beneficial? People have come to expect more, you can’t just tell them you are the best and they will believe it. Its a more complex relationship now. Customers have more resources than ever to confirm the quality of business service or product. Marketing and sales has become more like human relationships and so we took a quick look at the parallels between Social Media and relationships. Here is what we learned.

Make yourself available

The first decision for a business owner is participating in Social Media. Choosing the right platforms to promote your business. Making sure that your presence is integrated so you are maximizing your visibility to a wide range of potential customers. Then you start to communicate. It is the same when you are starting on the dating scene. First you need to be meeting members of the opposite sex. That means getting out there and finding places you are comfortable with to meet them. Once you are meeting then the conversation begins. Those first conversations are always the most challenging, it is important to find the right balance between self promotion and caring.

Starting a relationship

The start of a relationship is where one mistake will end it – the worst one is generally moving to quick. Find out about your partner, be attentive, show interest in what they like, don’t expect too much. The earlier in the relationship the more cautious your approach. It is a learning exercise. Think back to a first date with someone you find really attractive, you were most likely very passive, listen first talk second. You try and sound smart and funny. You encourage your partner when they are being smart or funny. In Social Media you are engaging more than one person so you are continually starting a relationship. To start a social media relationship don’t talk too much about your business, be responsive, humorous and encouraging.

Engagement

As with the human relationship, once your business has a social media relationship it is important to engage with your customer base. If you are married you know what it means to be engaged. Engagement is a formal commitment between two people, both in the emotional and official sense. There is generally a token that affirms this engagement. Rings for marriage and becoming a paying customer for social media. We have found any number of variations on how people get engaged to be married. It really depends on the imagination from the couple involved. It is the same in Social Media there are any number of ways your relationships become customers. An engagement happens after you meet and develop a relationship. You can’t just walk up to someone get down on one knee and bingo you are engaged. Social Media marketing has a lot in common with human relationships which should come as no surprise. It is a “social” platform and it means business needs to adjust the way it interacts to be successful. So dust of your dating skills and apply them to Social Media.

Answer the Recession

By | Business Growth, Local Business, Online Marketing | No Comments

Marketing your business at any time is a challenge. It is particularly difficult in a recession. Where do you spend your money? Can you be sure of a return? Currently businesses are confronted with a staggering array of marketing options. People selling these marketing options are consistently proactive pushing you to do something.  So many alternatives spread across a diverse range of platforms is a complex situation with no easy answer. All this, in a climate of change, driven by the advance of Social Media and the Digital Age is in the midst of a recession. What is the answer for local business?

Recession Marketing

In keeping with “fortune favors the brave”, marketing in a recession is a positive step for local business. From our experience most businesses do cut back their marketing in a recession and in that lies the opportunity for the “brave”. Not all businesses are equally affected by a recession. Those that take a proactive stance by seeing a recession as an opportunity can and do succeed. Online marketing is proving to be a key component for those businesses who decide to thrive. According to the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) internet advertising revenues in the United States surged to 7.3 billion U.S. dollars in the first quarter of 2011, the highest first-quarter revenue level on record for the industry which is a 23% increase over the same period last year.

What Marketing Option?

The marketing landscape is in the midst of change. The concept of permission based marketing was first broached by Seth Godin in 1999. Permission means no interruption and by looking at what email marketing had to do to survive, you can see the power of permission marketing. If a marketing platform doesn’t adapt, it disappears, cold calling is a prime example. The whole concept of permission based marketing is continuing to grow almost exponentially and developing a marketing plan that is permission centric is critical for long term growth.

Permission Marketing

The most clear example of permission based marketing is in online applications where a website attracts so many visitors it can profitably sell advertising on the site. Basically giving free information that engages people to the point where engagement reaches critical mass. Obviously that takes a lot of time and money. For local business it is first important to simply understand the permission concept. The first rule is always ask yourself  “do I have the customers permission.” In just about any online situation your marketing is permission based. The customer can quickly leave for something new if you don’t provide a reason to stay. Is your business marketing with permission….?