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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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Social Search: Its not just about rank!

By | Business Growth, Local Business, local search, Search Engine, Search Engine Optimization, SEO | No Comments

When I see search engine firms promise #1Rank in search results, I cringe. They are giving us all a bad name. Social search has made it difficult, if not impossible, to guarantee rank to any business. With search results so individualized, it is possible for two people to type in the same search term and come up with completely different results.

In the beginning, it was just about getting your information on the web. Then keywords were all the rage. Then we entered the world of content. And although content still reigns supreme, relevant content from your social connections is the new variable.

Google has made it possible to individualize search results. “Your Social Search experience is personal and the highlighted content that you see is unique to you and your social connections.  Your social connections could include people in your Gmail, public friends on sites like Twitter or Flickr and public friends of these friends. Google is not just giving you the best results, but they are giving you the best search results for you.

What does this mean for business? It means social media, reviews, social bookmarking and commenting are all effecting search and are all becoming increasingly important. To stay ahead of the curve, businesses have to incorporate their prominence in their social media strategy.

In my opinion, it not only makes search better, but it makes businesses better. The quality of your web content has to be better, you don’t achieve prominence with bad content. The product or service a business provides has to be better, reviews influence purchase.

So next time somebody promises a #1 rank in search results, ask them, #1 for who? And remember in the end rank doesn’t matter, results do.

Search Localization

By | Bing, Business Listing, Google, Google Places, Local Business, local search, mobile search | No Comments

Google has been working on search localization for years. It has been a major priority for the search engine to promote local search results. Now it is producing results. The change is driven by the increasing consumer demand (mobile search) for something close by and familiar. For an increasing number of consumers there is a small and growing level of mistrust for information gathered online. People are more aware than ever that it is possible that what they are reading online is not always true. Business reviews have become an important component in local search as is the location of the business. We are still more comfortable with what we know despite the internet.

What does it mean for Local Business?

Google started this local search push with Google Places back in October 2010 with the introduction of Places search. The now familiar red pins and grouped business listings became prominent in local search results. Places carries a list of local businesses in a directory that allows results to be shown based on three areas:

  • Relevance
  • Prominence
  • Distance

A local business does not need a website to participate just a physical location for their business. A home based business can easily take advantage of this slant to local. Google searches the in internet (crawling other directories: Yelp, Citysearch etc) to provide local business results to online searchers. Business owners can claim and verify their own business listing. Once claimed a business owner can edit their listing to reflect their business. There are around 50 million Places listings and currently only around 4% have been claimed. A business is shown in results based on how it relates to the search term via the three components listed above. By claiming, updating a business listing and providing all the relevant information possible a local business can drive itself quickly to the top of search rankings.

Next Step

If you have not claimed your Google Places listing then now is the time. Our experience is that claiming, completing and fully updating your business listing can have a positive effect on revenue. It is not only Google Places; all the major search engines are providing local search results. Bing has recently introduced the Bing Business Portal a significant upgrade which includes links to Facebook deals and QR Codes. Yahoo local also carries listings of local businesses. There is no cost for your listing and by taking the steps to complete your listing you can improve the position of your business for relevant search results in your area. Local search is expected to continue to grow. This is not driven by the search engines but by consumer demand. Smart phones are at the front end of local search with recent studies showing that 1:3 searches on a cell phone have a local component and that up to 50% of those searchers walk through the door as a customer.   Don’t miss out on this opportunity for local growth.

Small Business Saturday

By | Email Marketing, Facebook, Local Business, Twitter | No Comments

We love this local business movement in its second year. It should be called “local” not small but the initiative is an excellent one. Driven by American Express it provides a focal point for leading customers to local businesses.  Held on the Saturday after Black Friday.  This is a day when we can all celebrate shopping local and support local business owners in our area.  American Express is providing access to free tools we recommend for growing your business.

The move toward local business is not just on the Saturday after Black Friday. Local business has opportunity every day of the year. Smart phones and location technology online are driving a local revolution. Online search is turning more and more local. People don’t just want to know who has the product or service they are looking for – they want to know who has it close by.

Are you taking advantage of this beneficial shift? What can you do to get ready?

Are you engaging with your customers? Generating contact on Facebook, Twitter or through a regular email.

Is your business listed online? Claim you business on Google Places, Bing Business Portal and Yahoo Local Listings.

Add a lot of pictures, videos of your business. Create amazing offers and publish online.

Its a fun and exciting time to be a local business and Turn The Page is absolutely thrilled to be part of the journey with so many great small business owners.

Crafting Your Online Persona with Reviews

By | Local Business, local search, Online Marketing | No Comments

When I ask business owners how they acquire new customers, 99% say “word-of-mouth”. Some do no marketing at all and rely only on their customer to refer new clients. For some, this system worked for years, but with the innovation of smart phones, word-of-mouth has moved to the internet.

Not only are more consumers turning to the internet to share their experiences on a product or service, but they are also reading the reviews before they make a purchase. Online reviews are what word-of-mouth used to be…only on steroids.  One customer can write a review (good or bad) and make it available to millions online. One person has the ability to influence your market, with one click.

Businesses have been reluctant to engage online reviews as part of their marketing for fear of a bad review. But, reviews are going to be out there whether you choose to participate or not, isn’t it better to have the ability to respond?

Online reviews give business owners the ability to craft their online persona. With a strategic plan, reviews can give word-of-mouth a power that has never been seen. Take advantage of the muscle that is available to your business. Make a plan.

The first thing you need to do is satisfy your customers. It is now more important than ever that your customer service be stellar.

Next, ask for online reviews. Incorporate it into your every day marketing. As customers make a purchase, follow up with a “thank you” and ask for a review then. Direct them to an online business listing (that you have claimed) like Google Places or Yelp. This way you control who is giving you reviews. You should pretty much know how they are going to review you.

Respond to online criticism. The tone should not be defensive, it should be welcoming. Do your best to make it right and it usually doesn’t take much to smooth things over. It can be a great opportunity to show that you are listening and that you care.  Remember to be honest, remain calm and respond in a timely manner.

I recently came across the United States Air Force blog assessment flowchart. It provides a detailed and specific way, how to react to blog posts, but can be used in online reviews as well. Consider applying something similar in your own organization.

Your online persona will not be shaped immediately. It will take some time. Be consistent in your efforts and you will see results.