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The Google Product Listing Feature Can be a Boon for Your Business

June 28th, 2019 by

Google My Business rolled out a Products Beta feature to some business listings last year. It allowed them to add products to their listing just like services. Google has a very easy-to-understand help page that explains every single detail of this feature.

You should know, however, that currently, it’s only available to a few businesses in select countries. Also, they have special instructions for different categories, so make sure you read their help page before diving deep into it.

If you are eligible to promote products, you are allowed to feature your products within a Google post, which has proven to bring in a lot of sales. But, just like the service feature, you will have to add each item one at a time. And because it’s only available to retail merchants, it’s obviously a very slow process. We’ll have to wait and see if they will allow bulk uploading in the future, but as of now, it’s just one product at a time.

We tried searching for answers as to why it’s only available to retail merchants – and a selected few–, but we only found this statement:

Important: This feature may not be available to all retail merchants. We’re working to bring it to all eligible businesses.

Takeaway

If you are a retail merchant and you are eligible for this feature, you can see it in the products tab in the left-hand menu. If you are eligible, the first thing you should do is to try it out right away. It is a free marketing tool and can bring in a lot of relevant traffic & ultimately boost your sales.

Google Has Made it Easier for You to Promote Positive Customer Reviews

June 24th, 2019 by

Now you can highlight positive customer reviews for your business easily. Google has rolled out a new feature that allows you to highlight the reviews from your happy customers. It’s called Suggested posts: Customer testimonials.

Here’s an excerpt from their announcement:

We’re happy to announce a new feature that lets you post automatically suggested reviews as customer testimonials.

In some countries, Google My Business will provide suggested posts to help you showcase positive reviews left for your business. You may get suggestions for new testimonials to post when you sign in to Google My Business, or via email notifications.

These posts are automatically suggested based on 4 or 5-star reviews recently left for your business. You’ll be able to review and edit the post before publishing it.

Here’s an example of how it looks:

         

Takeaway

Positive reviews are immensely beneficial to your business and bottom line. Therefore, if you have a verified Google My Business listing, you can use Google posts to highlight reviews from your happy customers. It can help you in many ways. Also, do not forget to constantly use Google posts to promote your events, products & offers. In case you are new to Google posts or thinking about how much value it will bring to your business, we suggest you give this article a read.

Make Sure You are Utilizing The “Offers” Feature Within Google Posts to Drive Free Traffic

May 29th, 2019 by

Everyone was excited about Google Posts within the SEO community. But over time we analyzed that it is getting less and less exposure. However, we still believe that Google Posts are worth your time and efforts.

The good news is, that while other types of Google Posts are getting less exposure, “Offers” are getting more & more exposure. Google’s new layout introduced a dedicated space for customers to see a carousel of Offers from your business.

Actionable Strategy
Google Posts may not be proving as fruitful as you might have expected it to be, but it still drives free traffic. So don’t stop creating Google posts and utilize the “offers” within the Google posts to the fullest. However, make sure that you are sticking to Google’s guidelines while creating offers:

“An offer can include a description of the promotion, a coupon code or any terms and conditions useful to your audience. You can surface up to 10 unique offers in the carousel, providing a list of choices.”

Does Your Business Qualify for a Google My Business Listing?

May 16th, 2019 by

A verified Google My Business listing can take your company to new heights. When your listing is verified, it not only helps in the SERP, but it also appears on Google Maps and can appear in the local pack.

Having a verified listing on GMB increases the chances of your website appearing in front of your prospects due to the emphasis that Google puts on the location of the searcher. But, over the years, Google has made their policy strict and now it’s harder than ever for some businesses (especially those in the service industry) to get their listings verified.

So, let’s find out if your business qualifies for it and we will also try to explain how Google sees it.

A. Brick and Mortar
A traditional office, store, warehouse or shop gets the fastest approval from Google.

B. Shared space
1) Business inside another business
If you have a store or office inside a commercial complex it means that you share that location with other businesses as well. Although you are entitled to a verified Google My Business Listing, you might face some issues since Google will be extra cautious while verifying it. Many people have reported that although their business got verified, it still shows “Your business is verified. Listings may be reviewed for quality and can take up to 3 days to be published.” But it never gets reviewed and published within 3 days, it takes way longer.

2) Departments within other businesses, universities or institutions
This case mostly arises within universities, hospitals and bigger institutions, since they are spread over a huge area and have various entries for different departments and different timings.

Here are Google’s guidelines for getting a verified listing of different departments of the same company:

“Publicly facing departments that operate as distinct entities should have their own page. The exact name of each department must be different from that of the main business and that of other departments. Typically, such departments have a separate customer entrance and should each have distinct categories. Their hours may sometimes differ from those of the main business.”

3) One location, one owner, multiple businesses
If you are an owner of multiple companies and they all share the same physical location, but you want each of them to have its own listing, they should each also have distinct categories, business names and phone numbers, and each phone should be answered with the name of that specific business.

4) Different practitioners at the same location
What if you are a lawyer or real estate agent who operates from the same location that other lawyers and realtors share? Will you be eligible for an individual listing? The answer is “YES”. Here’s what Google’s guidelines say about it:

“An individual practitioner should create his or her own dedicated listing if:

  • He or she operates in a public-facing role. Support staff should not create their own listings.
  • He or she is directly contactable at the verified location during stated hours.
A practitioner should not have multiple listings to cover all of his or her specializations.”

Having said that, have no doubt about it that it is going to be really challenging. However, if you run into any problems, you can contact the Google support team on Twitter @GoogleMyBiz or you can fill out the form here.

5) Virtual office space
Google has made it clear that if you use virtual office spaces you will not qualify for a verified GMB listing. You will be eligible only if you or someone from your team is “available” there at the location during the business hours mentioned. Google has also recently updated its guidelines regarding this. Give it a read.

6) Sharing an office with a business like yours
You will have a tough time verifying this kind of business because no legit business would want to sit at the same location where their competitors are. And in case you manage to get it verified, the chances of data getting conflated are very high. So, it’s better to just avoid it because it can get messy.

7) Co-working spaces
It’s not very different from shared spaces and virtual office. So, let’s just say that if you or your employees are available at the address during the business hours, then you are eligible for a verified listing on Google My Business. But we must emphasize: it will be tricky!

8) Home-based business location
One of the most hectic situations to be in. Google has doubts about a business that is being operated  from a residential address because they got spammed a lot in the past, and now Google wants to avoid that. However, you may be eligible for the listing if you can show proof that you have set up a legitimate office in your home where you meet your customers. They may ask for the photos and/or videos of sign boards, business cards, front entry, etc.

C. Service Area Businesses (SABs)
First, let us explain what Google considers as service area business: “Service area businesses are those that do their work at the customer’s location”.

Hidden Addresses
If you don’t meet your customers face to face, then Google thinks that showing your address on the map is not necessary. If you operate such a business, make sure you answer all the questions appropriately while setting up your GMB account.

Verification
To get this type of business verified, you may need to provide additional proof, such as videos of your work vehicle, etc., to prove to Google that your business truly exists.

Home Addresses
It has been seen that many companies have tried to create an individual listing of their business from their own home address or their employees’. While this “MIGHT” work, chances are high that it will backfire if you are trying to trick the giant of the internet.

Takeaway
Make sure you read Google’s guidelines and above-mentioned tips and information before setting up a Google My Business listing because, not only has Google made their policy strict, but your competitors are also looking for any inconsistency so they can report a problem with your listing. This may result in suspension of your account – which you want to avoid at all costs.

Google has revamped it’s ‘Test My Site’ mobile speed tool

April 30th, 2019 by

Google has recently revamped their Test My Site Tool that shows the average loading speed of your website on mobile devices along with a report on how to fix issues and make your website faster and better.

The biggest change here is that they are now using a 4G connection to test the site speed instead of a 3G connection that they used earlier. They have also added some new features which, according to Google, will help website owners boost their site’s performance.

Here are the new features that have been added to the tool:

  • The speed of both their entire site and of individual pages
  • Whether their site/page speed is faster or slower compared to the prior month
  • Whether their site speed/page speed ranks Fast, Average or Slow
  • How their site speed compares to others in the industry
  • The potential impact of site speed on revenue
  • A detailed list of recommended fixes to increase speed on up to 5 pages on their site
  • A complete report to share with their team

Our takeaway

When it comes to the digital world, every second counts. Multiple types of research have confirmed that site speed directly affects the bottom line of your business. Hence, you want your website to load fast. Now that Google has revamped its tool and provides more meaningful insights, it’s easier than ever to understand the issue (if any) and fix it immediately.

If you need any help, our experienced team will be there to assist you. Just connect with our support team for further details.

You can now reply to reviews on your Google Map listing

April 17th, 2019 by

Again, a piece of good news for business owners and agencies from Google. Google is now allowing business owners or those who operate it digitally to respond to reviews directly from the desktop.

Until now, you had to open the Google My Business Mobile app to do so, which was troubling for some, as many found the GMB app confusing. This new feature (that should be there from the very start), will provide convenience to agencies who have multiple listings to manage.

According to Community Manager, Kara at GMB…

“We’re making improvements on how you can reply to reviews, and providing you with more information and tools to get feedback from customers. You can now reply to reviews directly with your business profile on Google Maps from your computer.

Replying directly from Google Maps lets you manage your reviews without having to download the Google My Business app or open its homepage”.

How to go about it

Just search for your verified business on Google Maps. When you see your listing scroll down until you see
See All Reviews, then click Reply next to the review you’d like to reply to.

Our takeaway

We all know the importance of reviews and how it plays a crucial role. By allowing us to directly respond to them, Google provided the much-needed convenience. In case you haven’t seen it already, Google has released its guidelines on how to respond to reviews, especially the negative ones.



Now is the Time to Embrace Voice Search

March 29th, 2019 by

How to adapt voice search in your SEO strategy and what are we doing for Voice Search Optimization.

NOW IS THE TIME TO EMBRACE VOICE SEARCH

Voice Search is undeniably growing at a rapid pace, and for good reason—it’s fast, it’s convenient, it allows you to search on the go, and it’s becoming part of almost every device that consumers are using. It has taken a good percentage of total searches across the world, in part due to AI assistants like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, etc. With mobile impacting desktop in terms of search queries, and home automation devices becoming mainstream, voice search will power many future local search queries. Optimizing for voice search conversational terms will be a key differentiator.

The good news is that we already have services in place according to Google’s priorities such as surveys and widgets to boost customer reviews in Google, Yelp and Facebook. We were one of the first agencies to adopt Voice Search optimization, wherein the content we create is more conversational and matches users’ natural language pattern.

Here’s a list of things we’re currently doing for Voice Search optimization:

  • Verified and Accurate Google My Business Listing – Most voice search queries will ask for directions to your business address, so we will make sure that your business is listed accurately on Google Maps. Without verification, it would be really difficult to rank for voice search queries.
  • NAP (Name, Address, Phone) Consistency Across Local Sites – Accurate map listing, in terms of name, address and contact number, across multiple map databases will also help search engines to be more confident about your location, and it will form part of the ranking algorithm. We will ensure that your business information (NAP details) is consistent across other top tier and second tier local search engines, directories and review websites.
  • Generating Positive Reviews – Customer reviews are a critical part of the ranking algorithm for voice search. We can help you get positive reviews on Google and Yelp for your business via our proprietary Plug and Play Review Widget and Survey Review Booster.
  • Mobile Friendly Website – Since most voice searches are done on mobile devices, you MUST have a mobile-friendly site. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, we can help you set up a mobile friendly version with the help of our experienced team.
  • Conversational Content – Mobile voice searches will use natural language, which means long-tail keyword phrases are more important than ever. A way to add natural language to your website is by using words and phrases that people actually use (versus a formal register, which is usually not very commonly used online). The content used will be more conversational in tone, and the keyword phrases will probably resonate more with a person performing a voice search. We have already started implementing this for website content, which will help the site rank for voice-based queries.
  • Microdata & Advanced Schema Markup – Google will start using schema markup both as a site quality and richness indicator (i.e. affecting rankings), and for creating carousel-like results for certain searches, with Knowledge Graph-like summary data on each result in the list. We will help you set up structured data on your site.
  • Rank Tracking – We have already started tracking rankings in mobile search results for voice based terms like “near me”, “close to me”, “around me”, etc. around physical location across all verticals and reporting these rankings on our dashboard.

How to Optimize and Take Full Aadvantage of Your Google My Business Listing

March 20th, 2019 by

Google My Business itself is not a public-facing, searchable directory (such as Yelp), BUT, your listing on Google My Business is what many other public-facing, searchable directories pull from. This includes Google Maps, which has become its own hybrid form of a review site/business directory/navigation service. Your Google My Business listing can also impact your rankings in search results on both Google Maps and regular Google searches.

If this data is not enough to convince you, here are some compelling stats that highlight its importance: Businesses with a Complete and Accurate GMB Listing:

  • Are 2.7x more likely to be considered reputable
  • Get 7x more clicks

Complete and Accurate GMB Listings:

  • Are 70% more likely to attract location visits
  • Are 50% more likely to lead to a purchase

Here’s how you can optimize and take full advantage of your GMB listing.

BASIC LEVEL

1. Set up your Google My Business listing

The first step is to set up (or claim) your Google My Business Listing. Go to the Google My Business page and click “Start Now” in the upper left corner. Did you know that anyone can list your business on Google? That’s a little scary, but fear not—you as the owner can claim your listing, which grants you the access to edit and update your information, to post timely information, and to manage reviews. The claiming process requires a few steps, but it is a must.

2. Complete your listing

Fill in every relevant field that Google offers. You want to make sure the profile is as complete as possible and that every piece of information is accurate. A negative impact of inaccurate or inconsistent listings is not one you can afford. A complete Google My Business listing includes:

  • Business name: The legal / official name of your business.
  • Address: Full address of your business.
  • Phone number: A number with a local area code is recommended. That’s one extra signal to Google that you are actually local. Make sure the number you use for your Google My Business listing is also displayed on your website.
  • Category: Choose a relevant category. This will help Google decide which searches your local listing belongs in.
  • Website: Your website URL.
  • Hours of operation: The hours your business is open. For days when you have unusual hours, like holidays or special events, you can set special hours.
  • Description: What you offer, what sets you apart, your history, or anything else that’s helpful for customers to know. Allowable limit is 750 characters. Keep in mind that only the first 250 characters show up in the Knowledge Panel, so prioritize your information. Finally, no links or HTML.
  • Photos: Showcase your products and services to people who are looking for what you offer. Consider hiring a Google approved photographer to create a 360-view virtual tour of your business for customers. According to Google, listings that have a virtual tour and photos generate twice as much interest as those without.

Depending on your industry, there may be additional fields such as menus for restaurants.

A complete listing makes it as easy as possible for potential customers to find and contact your business. In addition, the more complete your listing is, the more favor you will receive from Google when ranking you in results.

3. Make sure your information matches everywhere

One thing Google’s algorithm looks at to verify the legitimacy of a listing is a consistency in how it’s listed across different websites. While that seems simple enough – your address is the same each time you enter it somewhere – it’s easy for little differences to slip in. Maybe you wrote out the Road part of the street name one time, and shortened it to Rd another time, for instance.

Pick a standard way to write out your address, a consistent phone number to use, and make sure all your listings match both each other and the information you provide on your website. And work on getting your website listed in as many relevant directories as possible.

4. Avoid penalty-inducing offenses

Any work you do to optimize your website or local listing will be for naught if you incur a penalty. Google suspends business listings for a range of different offenses. Getting suspended is stressful, confusing and bad for business, so it’s best to avoid doing anything that puts you at risk of it.

Read through Google’s guidelines for Google My Business listings so you have a full understanding of what not to do. Some of the main things to avoid are:

  • Using a URL that redirects to your website’s URL, rather than the actual URL itself.
  • Trying to awkwardly add keywords into your business name field.
  • Having multiple local listings for the same business location.
  • Using any address for your business that isn’t a physical storefront or office space where you meet with customers

Use common sense and don’t try to play the system or get extra listings, and you’ll probably stay on the right side of Google.

5. Encourage reviews

You’ll notice that the local businesses listed in the map snippet of a local search usually have star ratings next to their name. Google wants to provide the most useful information to its users, and users want to find the nearby business that seems the best. In both cases, it benefits your business to have a high star rating.

Ask your happy customers to take a few minutes to give you a review on Google. Include an encouragement on promotional products. A gentle nudge or a reminder of how much it means for your business can make your loyal customers that much more likely to take the time to say a few kind words about you.

Utilize our proprietary Dashboard Review Widget as well as our Survey Module to get positive reviews for your business listing on Google and Yelp.

6. Make sure your website and content is optimized for search

All the usual SEO advice that helps strengthen the authority of your website in the eyes of Google matters here too, so don’t focus on optimizing just your local listing. Optimize your website as well.

Make sure that you:

  • Incorporate relevant keywords into the meta tags and copy on each page where you can do so naturally.
  • Add schema markup to your website.
  • Create content with a local focus, i.e. locally relevant landing pages.
  • Look for local linking opportunities.

A strong website that’s optimized for both your customers and search engines will be that much more likely to make it into the list of the top three in a local Google search.

ADVANCED LEVEL

7. Post to Google My Business

Just like with other social media platforms, you can now post directly to Google My Business. Your posts show up on the “Posts” tab of your listing, but might also become visible on your Google Maps or Google Search result, depending on relevance.

Through Google posts you can make announcements, create events, highlight products, and run promotions. The information in these posts is that which customers need in order to stay engaged with you, which is ultimately what leads them to choose you over competitors. In addition, each post type has a call to action button, making the experience from discovery to engagement seamless.

If you’re not already convinced the impact Google Posts can have on your audience, check out this quote from Google:

“Seventy percent of people look at multiple businesses before making a final choice. With Posts, you can share timely, relevant updates right on Google Search and Maps to help your business stand out to potential customers. And by including custom calls-to-actions directly on your business listing, you can choose how to connect with your customers.”

8. Utilize Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers is a great feature for Google local search. It’s very cool! Just like it sounds, Q&A allows people to ask questions about your business and you can answer them.

The Google My Business Q&A feature is the perfect opportunity for you to hear directly from “the people” and for them to hear form you. Win-win.

One thing you should do is to be proactive and create a Frequently Asked Questions list to preempt people’s GMB Q&As. Check with your sales reps and your customer service staff to identify the questions people most often ask, then put those Q&A questions on your GMB listing.

TIP: Google has said that upvoting questions can make them more visible. If someone has a particularly important question, go ahead and upvote it.

9. Google My Maps Syndication with Driving Directions

Google My Maps Syndication is an advanced level strategy to gain local. With Google My Maps Syndications you can get:

  • Map mentions from top ranking GEO locations
  • Locally optimized Tier 2 links and embeds
  • Driving directions to your location from serviceable areas
  • Improved local search rankings

Here’s how an optimized Google My Map with driving directions (embedded on the website) looks like:

Google My Map with driving directions

10. Respond to Customer Reviews. Even Negative ones

The reviews on your GMB page can be a deciding factor in whether or not a buyer engages with your brand. Just check out some of these statistics about Local Consumer Reviews:

  • 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more
  • 68% of consumers left a local business review when asked
  • 30% of consumers say they’ve judged a business based on its responses to reviews

When making a purchase decision, people look to others for their opinions. We all do it. And we do it often. We want to learn from the experiences of those who have purchased before us. Always respond to your reviews. Positive reviews give a good impression of your business and should be easy to respond to.

But what do you do about the inevitable 1-star rating and the scathing negative review?

Many businesses shy away from them, hoping they’ll go unnoticed. But you need to respond to those reviews. The people leaving them deserve it, and the people reading them need it.

Conclusion

There are many ways customers can find your business, but there is no denying that Google My Business is an incredibly powerful gateway to your website.

It positions your important business information in front of the eyes of potential customers who are looking for your product, service, or experience.

It helps with your local SEO, offers a chance to engage with your customers via reviews or posts, and provides useful insights on your customers’ purchasing paths.

Where Are The Old Reports in The New Google Search Console?

February 27th, 2019 by

Google is slowly moving features and data from the old Search Console to the new one. However, not everyone is happy with the way data is presented within the new search console because many reports are missing from it.

However, Google has promised that all the data will be available in the new version as well.

Google announced via a tweet that reporting features for AMP, Index Status, Links, Manual Actions, Mobile Usability, Rich Cards, and Search Analytics have been successfully moved to the new Search Console.

Here’s a table that shows which reports have been moved, where to, and what are they called.

 
Old Search Console report Replacement in New Search Console Comparison
Search Analytics Performance New report has 16 months of data and is much easier to use.
Rich Cards Individual Inhancement Reports New reports provide detailed debugging information, and a one click request to recrawl fixed issues.
Links to Your Site Internal links Links New report combines both Links to your Site and Internal Links report, with more reliable link count numbers.
Index Status Index Coverage Status New report provides all the information of the old report, plus detailed crawl status information from Google Index.
Sitemaps Report Sitesmap Similar information, but better designed report. The old report supports testing a sitemap without submitting it; the new report tests only upon submission.
Accelerated Mobile Pages AMP Status Many more error types reported in the new report, plus a fix flow to request reindexing of fixed pages.
Manual Actions Manual Actions The new report shows your manual action history, including review requests and results.
Fetch as Google URL Inspection Tool The URL Inspection tool shows information about the indexed and live versions of a URL, and provides the option to request a crawl. New information includes the URL of the canonical page, any noindex/nocrawl blocks, and whether the URL is in the Google index.
Mobile Usability Mobile Usability Similar information, but in a more usable format. Also provides a fix flow to request reindexing of pages with fixed mobile usability issues.

Takeaway: Google search console is one of the most powerful marketing tools out there that provides you with invaluable data. If you are not using it yet, then we highly recommend reading this guide on how to get your website on Search Console and start utilizing this powerful tool to its fullest. If you are already using the new Search Console, the above table will help you locate old reports.

It may not be easy to get used to the new Search Console after using the old one for years, but as we all know, the only thing constant in the digital world is change. So, try get used to the new interface and use it to your advantage.

2018 SEO Survey & Changes You Should Make in 2019

February 15th, 2019 by
Moz released the 2018 local search ranking factors last month and they reveal a lot about the upcoming big changes in the world of SEO. If you are looking for accurate predictions, or just want to stay updated about current trends, we recommend reading it. 2018 was a good year for local SEO as we witnessed a major boost in the rankings of the local players instead of the corporates. This just solidifies the fact that no matter your size, if your site has what it takes, then there’s no denying that you can beat mega corporations. Keep in mind that this survey was conducted among SEO professionals. They were asked to rate the main ranking factors. Here are some of the key findings. 2018 SEO SURVEY & CHANGES YOU SHOULD MAKE IN 2019 Local SEO has changed over the past 3 years but you’ll notice that link building and link signals along with proper and corroborating on page signals are still top factors in both the Local Pack and Organic listings. As per the chart above, this combination of factors accounts for between 30% – 50%+ of the results for clients.

Some factors to pay attention to in 2019

One easy way to check for what Google thinks is important with internal links is to do a site search on Google Type in one of your keywords and see what comes up first. This will help you determine what Google thinks is most relevant for the keyword Keep in mind that your results may vary from those of your colleague or neighbor based on your search history and preferences. If your business is new, you have to ensure that you have covered all the following basics:

  • New citations
  • Website is up and running
  • Page loads quickly
  • Quality and relevant content
  • Adding schema to the site
  • You are using Google My Business posts
  • You’re responding to questions asked via Knowledge Graph listing


  • If your business has been around for a while, it will take a lot more effort. You can start by reviewing Google Analytics and checking the source of the traffic to your site and see if it is converting. Are your blogs up to date? Are you regularly uploading quality content? These are only a couple of things you should be paying attention to regarding your website. Know that GMB categories are a ranking factor and, therefore, it is often manipulated. Ho wever, GMB related spam can be reported on Google Maps or escalated to Google via their various support channels, so if you see anyone misusing it, you should report it.

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