Reviews are crucial to the success of your business as 93% of customers base their purchasing decisions on consumer reviews. If your overall review rating falls below 3.3 stars, consumers won’t engage with your business.
Your responses to your company’s reviews play an equally important role in consumer engagement, influencing purchasing decisions. When you fail to respond, you send a message that you do not care about your customers.
Building a strong local SEO presence in Florida comes down to three key aspects. First, you must optimize your Google My Business page with verified information, Google Posts, and reviews from your customers. Once your Google My Business page is optimized, you should then move your focus onto your website. Optimizing your website for local SEO comes down to your internal linking structure, meta-content, location pages, local content, and how mobile-friendly your site is. The last step to dominating local SEO involves building your external links from directories and other authority sites within your industry.
Optimizing Your Google My Business Page
Optimizing a Google My Business page gives you the benefit of showcasing your business information right on the Google search results page when potential customers are searching. Optimizing this page involves ensuring all information is verified, posting to your GMB(Google My Business) page, as well as receiving and responding to customer reviews.
The first step to setting up your Google My Business page involves making sure Google has accurate information and getting that information verified through Google. This process is streamlined with a simple registration process. Once all information is filled out and accurate, Google will ask if you’d like to verify this information. Verifying your information is the key to getting your page to appear in search results. They typically send a postcard to your business address with a pin number to verify your mailing address. Sometimes there is an option to verify with an automated phone call. If you already have a GMB you can sign in by visiting https://www.google.com/business
Now that you have a verified Google My Business page, you can start posting to that page. This involves creating short articles related to your business and posting them through your Google My Business. These posts are a great opportunity to build customer trust by showing you truly know what you’re talking about. You can also tailor these posts to your local area to improve your local search engine results.
You’ll also want to try and build a steady flow of reviews from your customers. There are systems available to help you get your customers to submit reviews. Our local reputation management platform is one of those systems. Once you start generating reviews, you’ll want to respond to those reviews. Responding helps you demonstrate to Google that you are an active and engaged business. It is also recommended you set up Google My Business notifications as well.
Optimizing Your Website for Local SEO
Now that your Google My Business page is all set up and verified, the next step is optimizing your website. This comes down to optimizing your home page, Meta Data, setting up your internal linking structure, building out content, and adding a location-specific page.
Your home page should clearly state who you are, what you do and where your business is located as well as the areas you serve. Internally your website’s page title, header tag and meta description should echo this.
While the ranking of Meta Data factors is debated, it is a fact that they play a big part in a visitor’s first impression of your website.
Now setting up your internal linking structure helps your users to easily navigate your website and for Google to index your website accurately. Typically this involves setting up an XML site map. There are plenty of tools to create this. There should also be a link to an HTML version in the footer of your website.
Next you’ll want to build out content and optimize that content for local SEO. This involves setting up meta descriptions, accurate URL tags, well thought- out headers, and image alt-descriptions. Setting up these internal content structures as well makes for a great way to include all of your local keywords in your content without overloading your site with keywords and making it awkward to read. Doing the basics right is an easy way to beat your competitors in search results.
Adding location-specific pages makes it easy for Google to determine what areas or locations your website is most relevant to. These pages can be incorporated into the “About Us” or “Contact Us” pages which are found on most sites. This involves a simple extension into Google Maps that can be applied through a wide number of plugins. This will also link your website to your Google My Business page.
Finally, you’ll want to start writing blog posts applicable to your local area and the services you offer. While it may seem counterintuitive, offering information about how your customers can do the work themselves is a great way to build consumer trust and drive traffic to your site. You’ll find most people end up contacting you for work once they realize the skill required to actually do the work.
Building External Links
Now that you have an optimized Google My Business page and a great website that is ready for traffic, you’ll want to find other websites and directories in your industry that can provide links to your site. The number of links directed to your site makes a huge impact on your ranking in search engines. This can be accomplished through local directories like your local chamber of commerce, large business directories, and other authority sites in your industry.
A great way to build links from high authority sites in your industry can involve offering to write a piece of content for them in exchange for a link. This will help you build your audience by allowing their visitors to see your knowledge within the industry and possibly visit your website. By having links from other authority sites it shows Google that your site provides value to your customers as well as the other websites. Most high authority sites have an email address you can contact, so start emailing these sites today with an offer of writing content in exchange for a link!
While each of these areas may seem like a lot of work, they do work and make for a great investment of your time. Local SEO is a great lead generator for any industry. If you work at it and your website ranks well it becomes an extremely inexpensive channel that generates a recurring stream of customers. Organically generated customers typically have a higher confidence level. And tend to have a higher conversion rate. It is worth considering allocating budget for local SEO, as part of your ongoing marketing efforts.
Google and Amazon have been going back and forth in a feud that has lasted for years. Starting back on October 29th, 2015, Amazon discontinued any sales of Apple TV and Google Chromecast. Amazon at the time stated:
Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, and Fire TV are excellent choices
Those 4 devices were the only devices at the time that supported Prime Video, Amazon’s premium streaming service. After Amazon added Prime Video to the Apple TV App Store, Amazon allowed the device back into it’s marketplace. Amazon never developed support for the Google Chomecast however, and without Prime Video support the device isn’t allowed on Amazon Marketplace, leaving Google in a powerless situation. Jump to September 26th 2017, only 4 months after the Amazon Echo Show was released and Google without notice revoked YouTube Access for the Amazon Echo Show. Amazon issued this statement at the time:
Google made a change today at around 3 pm. YouTube used to be available to our shared customers on Echo Show. As of this afternoon, Google has chosen to no longer make YouTube available on Echo Show, without explanation and without notification to customers. There is no technical reason for that decision, which is disappointing and hurts both of our customers.
This statement however heavily conflicts with the one Google made on the same day
We’ve been in negotiations with Amazon for a long time, working towards an agreement that provides great experiences for customers on both platforms. Amazon’s implementation of YouTube on the Echo Show violates our terms of service, creating a broken user experience. We hope to be able to reach an agreement and resolve these issues soon.
Leaving users confused over if Amazon and Google were actually in communication or not. Very soon after this incident Amazon pulled Google’s lineup of Nest products (Nest E Thermostat, Nest’s Camera IQ, and the Nest Secure Alarm System) all of which have now returned to the marketplace as of this writing. A few months later Amazon managed to get YouTube back onto the Echo Show simply by directing users to it’s full desktop website. This was not an elegant or user friendly solution as you can see from this video:
THIS IS INSANITY pic.twitter.com/dYbi5w7pdD
— dan seifert (@dcseifert) November 21, 2017
Two weeks after this work around YouTube announced that they would be revoking all support for YouTube on both the Echo Show and Amazon’s Fire TV with the following message:
“We’ve been trying to reach agreement with Amazon to give consumers access to each other’s products and services. But Amazon doesn’t carry Google products like Chromecast and Google Home, doesn’t make Prime Video available for Google Cast users, and last month stopped selling some of Nest’s latest products. Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and FireTV. We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon.
YouTube was pulled from the Amazon Echo Show on December 5th, 2017 and posted a warning to all Amazon Fire TV customers that support for YouTube would end on January 1st, 2018.
So Google’s feud with Amazon just reached my living room. Got this screen when I launched YouTube on my Amazon Fire TV. pic.twitter.com/vtmcuBTtE9
— Cornell Ngare (@cngare_) December 5, 2017
One week after this Amazon and Google started serious discussions to settle this long going feud. Amazon agreed to resume sale of the Google Chromecast and on December 14th, 2017 the device was added back to it’s marketplace, however when the device was added it was listed as “Currently unavailable” and the item hasn’t been available for purchase since. Google’s lineups of smart devices are not available for purchase on the marketplace either.
January 1st, 2018 Google did as promised and blocked access to YouTube from the Fire TV. Fire TV had a workaround of using a web browser such as Silk or Firefox for Fire TV to access a TV-optimized YouTube. on January 22nd, 2018 Google removed support for this as well, forcing users to load the desktop version of YouTube instead. That same day YouTube’s TV interface came back to the devices without comment as to why it was removed or put back.
As of today nothing has changed, the Google Chromecast and Google Home devices are still not available for purchase on the amazon store and Google still has not allowed Amazon’s Fire TV or Amazon Echo Show to load a YouTube App, only the website.
For those of us that already have a verified business in Google My Business, we have some interesting news. You can now update your business info directly from the Google search engine result page. Please remember that need you to make sure you’re logged in to your Google My Business account.
Let’s try editing your Google My Business Page right from the search page
Let’s dive right in and see how it works. To get started, just type the name of your business in the Google search box and you will see a menu right above the search results. Again, you need to be logged in to your Google My Business account. After you click the edit info button, you will see all the fields you are able to edit become highlighted.
From here, you will be able to upload photos, see the number of views, check and respond to any customers reviews, and even access detailed info about your site metrics. The best part is, you can do it from any device, in your office on your desktop or right from your mobile device.
Google heavily relies on the business owners to provide accurate and updated information to their users. Google realized early on that if they want valuable content for free, they have to make the process simple and easy.
Now lets take a quick look at Why Google would do this?
For starters, who is best suited to provide the most accurate information about a business? The business owner, of course. Google decided to create a process to outsource the business info-update process, and now this process has just become a little more efficient. The good news is, this is a win not only Google but it is also a win for clients of local business because they get info directly from the business owners. The business owners win by getting to provide info directly to potential clients. Google wins by having the most up to date, timely and accurate local business info. A win-win-win situation for everyone!
If you are a business owner and you have not setup your Google My Business page, please contact us and we will send you a free guide.
SSL Certificates, what are we even talking about? SSLs is the backbone of Internet security by protecting information as it travels the web. Often website owners balk at purchasing SSLs if their webpage isn’t set up for online shopping/money exchange. That is a mistake. SSL’s provide critical items like privacy, data integrity, and protection for your website and visitors to your page. SSLs digitally bind cryptographic keys to a website’s details. When Marlin installs an SSL on your server, it activates the padlock you see in your address bar and “https”. This creates secure connections between server and browser, protecting everyone.
Why do you need an SSL, especially if you are not running an e-commerce site? Data security between servers is increased. Your Google Ranking automatically increases when you provide your users with SSL protection. Trust is built and enhanced with your customer base when they know you’re doing your part to protect them. Should you have a form that visitors must fill out – whether it’s for an inquiry or something else to gathers information from the user, this type of data collection would prompt for the verification of your SSL. If you do not currently have an SSL on your website, then the user will be see the “unsecured content” message on their screen before they could proceed to the next page.
If a customer can trust that your site is safe and protected, then you will see your conversion rates increase!
Now you’re ready to jump into the SSL game, what next? SSL certificates must be issued from a trusted Certificate Authority. Marlin can help you through this entire process and can provide a list of trusted CA root certificates. Give Marlin a call and our experts will get you and your website ready to go!
Take a look at the different SSL certificates that we offer.
Have You Noticed A Change In Your Rankings? Google’s Shaking Things Up With Its New Local Search Filters
Google’s primary goal is to provide its users with the best possible search experience and they are leaving no stone unturned to ensure just that. In early 2017, Google introduced local search filters that allow users to sort results based on price, ratings and hours of operation. Taking it one step further, they are now automatically applying those filters and it benefits the user for obvious reasons. They get the best possible search as well as most relevant results on the fly without applying any filters.
It has turned out to be a big blow to some business owners who have failed or have not focused on maintaining a good online reputation. A businesses Local SEO strategy has to be adjusted to take this in to account. When Google automatically filters local businesses for those with 4-star ratings and higher, it places a lot of businesses at risk of losing online visibility. It’s quite common for users to search using terms like “Best Plumber”, “Best Thai Restaurant” and “Best Roofing Contractor” when they are looking for a local business. For those businesses that do not have more than a 4 star rating, they will find it extremely difficult to keep a measurable presence on local search.
In chaos we can sometime find opportunity and the golden opportunity in this case is for the less popular businesses. By inviting reviews & keeping their information consistent and updated, one can share the spot light with those who are already at the top.
The New Filters
The best of everything: Users can now filter the results automatically, by just adding “best” to the keyword. If you search “best plumber”, Google will show only 4-Star+ rated plumbers. This filter will drastically influence the way businesses are ranked. Check out how the following results differ.
Open now: For example a closed Truck Repair store is of no use to a user who wants to get his truck repaired ASAP. So when a user types “truck repair store open now”, Google will show only those businesses that are open. Check out below.
Enjoy Fine dining: Want to go to an upscale restaurant for your first date? Just type “fancy restaurant” & Google will show you the most expensive restaurants nearby. Or if you just want to fill your tummy without burning a hole in your pocket, type “cheap restaurants” or “budget restaurants” and you will get the list.
I am sure you see the bigger picture here, Google is and has been heading towards providing a more advanced search experience where users get results based on their actual intent. Local searches have grown to 46% of all searches on Google and will continue to rise. So, Google is doing everything it can to enhance the local search experience for its users.
Marlin’s take on this
Businesses that fail to manage their reputation and update their listings with the most accurate, detailed and consistent information now run the risk of not ranking in searches when they would have in the past.
To help you get more reviews for your business our Local SEO Plans includes our review widget. It’s a small piece of code which is placed on your website and helps you get positive reviews on Google, Yelp and Facebook. In addition, it helps to filter out negative reviews too thus ensuring a positive experience for your website users. Would you like to learn more? Please connect with us.
In the second half of 2016 a lot of the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) industry knew there
was something big coming down the pipe.
As expected, here comes Google making a rather significant change to their search algorithm in
early March of 2017. Code-named “Fred”, the impact is now changing the way many in the
digital marketing community are approaching their search engine optimization practices as well
how they develop in general. Let’s take a minute and get to know “Fred” and all his current
likes and dislikes.
We know that Google makes hundreds of updates every year to its core algorithm, but Fred
seems to have made an impact on an unexpected number of websites, which has left some in
the digital marketing world scratching their collective head. Most of the major updates are
significantly affecting traffic, focusing on either links or content. If there is an organic traffic
drop it usually means that the site is in violation of the Webmaster’s guidelines on quality.
While we are always excited about Google bringing critical new changes to the web, the
challenge in this instance is there is no way to know for sure what the exact focus of Fred may
have been. In collaborating with other SEO professionals, our results seem to primarily point to
content related sites. Combing through the negatively affected sites, they all seem to have two
things in common. The content appeared “shallow” and the site prioritized advertising over
user experience. This is all obviously speculation at this point, BUT one might argue curbing ad-
focused sites is a positive change for the community.
How much havoc did Fred wreak?
Some SEOs and webmasters have reported organic traffic reductions of 50 to 90 percent. I am
sure you imagine that sort of traffic drop would be considered serious by any measure. While
the fall out hit a narrow segment of websites, it was still significant in the search engine optimization industry.
This of course all begs the question now what? How do we proceed? If your website fell in the
category of sites effected there are a couple things you can do:
Step 1: Don’t panic.
Step 2: Evaluate
If the website in question was very dependent on ad revenue, chances are there were too many
ad units and pop ups on the site. In this case, scaling back the ad units and then evaluating
other revenue streams is the way to go. If shallow content was to blame then the key will be
identifying those pages and updating your content with relevant, attention grabbing copy.
While in theory this is all relatively straight forward, the tactical part of Fred is far more
complex. Making these changes on a strategic level will become ever more important as we
continue to move forward in the future. If you would like to learn more about our search engine optimization services we would be happy to speak to you.
Online video is becoming the medium of choice in the digital world. Did you know there are a BILLION YouTubers? Facebook and Snapchat are racking up as many as 8 BILLION video views per day between them. We’re talking in the billions, 3 commas for you “Silicon Valley” tv show fans.
The danger here is jumping in without taking a moment to understand the medium. Fun fact, predictions are that 74% of all web traffic will be video by the end of this year. Most significantly, businesses that have focused on video for their marketing efforts have seen an increase in conversion rates. This means that video is becoming the a more effective driver of sales than traditional options.
Some key characteristics of a social video are viewers will want to share it, it will encourage audience engagement, and it is optimized so it is easy to upload or share on social media platforms. Remember social videos are not trying to be viral videos. Your goal with a social video is to create interest in your product among your target audience.
We are just beginning our exploration of social videos. Check back next week for more about social video and how to apply it to your website plan!
This the concept that deals with the idea of avoiding superficial posting. Content these days has become quite superficial and that does prospective customers no good. The goal with content should be to highlight your uniqueness, your differences, from your competition. The challenge comes with keeping it interesting. Getting truly lengthy and in-depth on your website can take you straight down the rabbit hole and you’ll lose your audience.
Creating your dense content is only half the battle.
The other part is identifying what works best with your audience. Is shorter content better? Or something more creative and in-depth? Based on that kind of feedback you can focus on keywords and be specific to your product or service and price. If you can get more creative you may prefer more shorter write ups to draw in your audience without overwhelming them. Finally, be sure to include local terms or locations of significance that will mean something to your clients. Phew! Lots to remember but the most important part is to stay connected to your clientele. Try to put yourself in their shoes as you work your write ups. Lucky for you, Marlin specializes in dense content and local clientele!