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Back to School for Local Businesses in the Google Era

Back to School for Local Businesses in the Google Era

Kids are back in the classroom, and it’s the perfect time for Regina’s local businesses to get into a classroom of their own to get help online. The Regina area is home to more than 10,000 businesses, and more than 90 per cent have fewer than 50 employees. One local business wants to help other local businesses get found on Google.

Above the Fold, along with sponsors, BLG Business Solutions, sMedia and Scotiabank, are hosting Get Found on Google Live, for local businesses interested in improving their online presence. It’s no small feat to be a Google-approved agency, but Above the Fold has done it and is sharing that expertise on Thursday, September 27, with Saskatchewan’s only in-person, hands-on workshop. It’s a full-day workshop, hosted by owner and Chief Marketing Officer Barb McGrath, to help businesses learn to use the free tools designed by Google to manage their online reputation, find more ready-to-buy customers, streamline their marketing and make their website easy to find.

Thirty-Nine Years in Business and Still Learning

“If you want to learn more about how to promote your business online, then Get Found on Google Live is just the right program for you, said Sherry Knight, CEO of Dimension 11, and business owner for over 38 years, in Regina and Get Found on Google participant. From the ins and outs of Google Analytics to how to make your website Google “friendly” this program is a must. And, on top of the technical aspects, Barb is able to answer the mundane, the “I have no idea what I am trying to say” and the deep dive questions so everyone can have a clearer understanding of what one needs to do to get greater notice on Google.”

Registration

The workshop  provides hands-on training and one-on-one help with a local expert, plus access to Google tools and credits (not to mention great food, beverages and plenty of coffee!). The workshop runs 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on September 27 at the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Regina.  Pre-registration is required at getfound.live.  

“I know what it’s like to run a local business in Saskatchewan, and I know how important it is to make sure my online marketing is done right,” said McGrath. “There are lots of entrepreneurs and business owners in Regina who are uncomfortable in the tech space, but we are here to help. It’s back-to-school time for kids and business owners alike; my goal is to give local businesses the tools they need to show off everything we have to offer in this city and this province.”

Thanks for reading!

Here’s more you might like:

The Ultimate Google Listing Guide to find more Ready-to-Buy Customers.

Get your copy today!




Facebook Business Recommendations are Here

Move Over Ratings, Facebook Recommendations are Here.

Facebook announced that the way customers interact with local businesses is changing; including replacing star ratings and reviews with Recommendations. In this post, we’ll cover what the Facebook Recommendations update means for you.

Ratings are now recommendations

Facebook Recommendation Updates

Want to write a recommendation?

Ratings are now Recommendations! Here’s what you need to know about the change:

  • Recommendations will be posted directly to the business Page (in place of review/star ratings)

Facebook Recommendation

  • Legacy reviews are being changed to “Recommended” or “Not Recommended”
    • Legacy 1 and 2-star ratings are “Not Recommended”
    • Legacy 4 and 5-star ratings are “Recommended”
    • Legacy 3-star ratings show up as “Reviewed”
    • Legacy star ratings no longer appear in star format, but under “opinion” score

Facebook Recommendation Score

  • Updated to 25 minimum character count to promote leaving more detailed recommendations/reviews

Facebook Recommendation Example

  • Newsfeed Recommendations posted by your network will influence Recommendations to the business page
  • Recommendations can have a suite of tags and rich media (photos) attached to them

It’s obvious from these updates that Facebook is making an effort to give customers (and businesses) richer, more valuable recommendations on which to base their purchase decisions. More weight will be added to each recommendation with a minimum character count and rich media additions such as tags and photos.

What the Facebook Recommendation Updates Mean for Local Businesses

1. Businesses cultivate a consistent story about their brand

Facebook Recommendations will help build up a customer-generated brand story for businesses right on their Page. New detailed Recommendations of the business will give a better insight into what you can expect from that business based on other customers’ experiences. Before Recommendations, customers would talk about a business in private channels or status updates. A friend on Facebook would ask “Where’s a good place to get my windshield replaced?” and their network would reply with various businesses they recommended. In October 2016, Facebook added the first slice of Recommendations and users started to see them appear in their news feed when friends/family were looking for suggestions for local products/services.

Facebook Recommendations on Mobile

People were starting to talk about the best businesses in their area, sharing their suggestions and recommending local businesses to their friends on Facebook. But these conversations weren’t tied to the business’ online reputation (star rating) directly, and now they are. As of August 2018, Facebook Recommendations have replaced star ratings and reviews, which adds consistency to the social media platform. Tying in the idea of Recommendations from a user’s news feed to the same messaging on business pages allows for a consistent message to describe user feedback of a business on Facebook.

“People already use Recommendations to ask their communities where to go, what to eat, or where to shop. We’re making those Recommendations more prominent on [business] Pages.”

Facebook

2018 Recommendations Update

When a friend is looking for recommendations and you name drop a local business, your recommendation will be pulled to the company page. The conversations that customers are having online will have an effect on the businesses that are mentioned.

2. Improved reporting of spam & fraudulent recommendations

Facebook is prioritizing the need to get rid of spam reviews and make it easier for businesses to report fraudulent business feedback. In addition, the minimum character requirements allow for reviews to be more personalized and limit the amount of one-click-one-star spamming that was seen on Facebook in the past.

3. Emerging business themes from recommendation tags

New tagging functionality will help provide an overview of service performance to local businesses. Adding sentiment tags or related keyword tags to Recommendations will allow themes to emerge from customer feedback. This makes it easier for businesses to find out what they are known for and identify trends.

The New World of Digital Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Word-of-mouth marketing is still one of the most powerful ways to market a business, and Facebook has become this type of marketing’s new, trackable avenue. Businesses want people to talk about them with their friends, to share their good experiences, and to drive more traffic to their business. But they also want to track where their customers are coming from and who referred them to their business. In 2016, Facebook allowed people to ask their friends for Recommendations to find experiences from local consumers who have dealt with businesses in the area. Whether you’re asking your best friend for a good plumber, or getting that same answer over your Facebook news feed, it’s still word-of-mouth marketing. Now, Facebook is tying everything together by telling a consistent story around Recommendations. With this update, Facebook hopes to become the go-to destination for word-of-mouth marketing.

Content courtesy Vendasta.

Thanks for reading!

Here’s more you might like:

The Ultimate Google Listing Guide to find more Ready-to-Buy Customers.

Get your copy today!




Boost Your Sales with</br>Google My Business

Find More Ready-to-Buy Customers on the First Page of Google

Check out the latest updates on the #1 Listing Service used by purchase-ready customers.

Google Listings can be a challenge. On a good day. There’s just something about the process that can fluster even the best of us. Below, we share all of our tried and true steps to optimize your Listing; each and every one of the steps we take to boost our clients subscribed to Listing Management along with all of the latest updates to the tech giant’s free service.

Looking for just the updates? Skip ahead to this month’s updates.

What is a Google Listing? What will it do for me?

A Google Listing is a free service by Google and it garners the lion’s share of the click-traffic from ready-to-buy customers. Think of it this way; when researching a product or service, a potential customer will most likely head to the organic search results (websites that appear below the Listings) to learn or read more about the variety of offerings. When a customer is ready to buy something, go somewhere or take an action, they head to the Listings. As such, let’s get your Listing optimized!

Like it on Top? There are only three ways you can get to the top of Google.

  1. Paid Ads. (Pay to play service. Average click-thru is 13.8%.)
  2. Google Listings. (Free Listing service from Google My Business. Average click-thru is 28.8%.)
  3. Organic Search Results. (Earn your way to top position with SEO. Average click-thru is 43.9%.)

Let’s get your business to the top!

A Quick Tour of Your Listing

Home

Your Google My Business Home tab is your quick-view dashboard with insights, an overview and a few hints into what your competitors are doing with their Listings. Be sure to check it out and find some new ideas for content.

Posts

Posts are Google’s equivalent of social media: with the exception that Google wants you to promote your sales and discounts, as well as announce events and share news. Posts are a direct pipeline to Google; your chance to have a 1:1 conversation with Google, and say, “hey Google, here’s what we’re all about!” 

Curious how many customers see your Posts? Carefully look under a Post and you will see a number beside a little “eye.”

Get the full scoop on what posts can do for your business and all the details in Google Adds Posts to Your Listing. 

Info

The Info tab is the heart of your Google Listing. Here you can update all of the details about your business including Name, Address and Phone number (NAP), your business category(ies), hours and holidays, contact information and *ALERT ALERT* add a business description and products and services.

What is a business description you say? Well, glad you asked.

Here’s the short version. A business description is a 750 character, keyword-friendly written overview of your business. Want Google and potential customers to find you for website design? How about SEO services? Or reputation and listing management? This is the place to do it!

Looking for a few more details? Check out this video How to Add a Google Listing Description.

Up-to-date information about your business is HUGE. Repeat HUGE for getting your business found and chosen by customers. Don’t just think about it – finish reading this article and go update your information!

Insights

Ahhhh, insights, a data lover’s dream! Did you know that you can find out how many times your Listing was viewed? And what the top search keywords are for your Listing! The Insights tab gives you the ability to tailor new content according to what potential customers are searching for, giving you even better visibility in the search results!

Take a moment to look at the number of customers who view your Listing, click-thru to your website or ask for directions to your location. As the number of actions taken from your Listing increases, so too will your sales!

Power Up Your Business with Online Listings

Uncover the most powerful way to get your business on the first page of Google!




Reviews

Google and Facebook agree (shock!). Reviews are the #1 driver of success in Listings. Customers choose businesses with higher star ratings at an alarming rate. If you don’t have Reviews, go ask all of those customer’s you’ve wow’d! Finding it tough to ask? Check out this article, Gracefully Ask Your Customers for Reviews for tips to make it easy-peasy.

Oh but wait! Responding to Reviews is equally important; good or bad. In fact, responding to Reviews will greatly improve your online reputation. Learn all about the 4 Simple Steps to Respond to Reviews. 

Messaging

Prefer a text or SMS message with your customers prior to a phonecall? Messaging allows you to chat with your customers, book appointments or answer questions even before a potential customer is ready to discuss in detail; or until you are ready to disclose your number.

Jan 2019

It is believed, though it has not been confirmed by Google, that Messaging will be shut down in March 2019. If you did not setup Messaging, it is likely no longer an option for your business.

Photos

If a picture says 1000 words, imagine how much you can say with current and up-to-date pictures of your business, location, products, services, team and logos. You can speak volumes and the customer is listening!

Don’t forget – customers can upload photos too; what a great word of mouth marketing opportunity!

Website

Did you know that you can create your first website for free with Google? If you don’t already have a website, this is a great place to get started. Your website address will be listingname.business.google.com, but you have the option to buy a domain and build a more sophisticated site using Google Sites.

Your new, free site can include location, services, hours and pictures and is mobile friendly.

Users

Adding Users is adding collaborators or team members. On this page, you can add additional people to your Listing to be able to add and edit your Listing’s content. This feature makes collaboration and coordination with colleagues a breeze.

Create an Ad

Last but certainly not least, you can create a Google Ad from within your Listing. **TIP** Creating your first Ad from your Listing will connect your Google Ads account and your Google My Business account, offering you the added bonus of displaying your ad within the Listings.

Remember, ads are one of the top three ways to get your business to the top of Google and help customers find you. 

Are you convinced of all the amazing (not to mention free) features that a Google My Business Listing can do for you yet? Need a hand getting setup? Check out our step-by-step instructions below. 

You’ll be ‘above the fold’ in no time!

Latest Updates

January 2019

Another exciting month of changes is behind us as Google continues to change up their plans. 2019 will see the end of some significant Google apps, namely Google+ and Allo. While Google+’s loss seems to be minimal, for those tied into Google My Business Messaging, Allo is a bigger deal.

Messaging

Allo, Google’s Messaging app, is saying good-bye in March 2019. Predictions are that Messaging within Listings will also go away, however it was recently noticed that some Listings display a larger, more prominent “Message Business” button. Many are hopeful that Google will allow messaging through an app, or through a mobile device.

For many businesses, Listing Messaging is tied into chat bots and drip sequences. If your business relies on Messaging, stay tuned for more updates!

In the example below you can see two options to Message the business. One in “Message” and the other in “Contact us now.”

Add Products and Services

Restaurants are long since familiar with the ability to add their menu, pricing and delivery information to Google Listings but most business categories will now see an option to add Products or Services within Info. Businesses can add numerous types of products and services including pricing to the Listing. Interestingly, content added here is only visible on a mobile device AND according to a Google spokesperson, this content does not influence search results.

Don’t let that sway you! In true Google fashion, what does not influence search today is bound to be a top performer tomorrow!

Mobile App

Google updated the 2014 mobile app on Android and iOS to include robust features such as Posting, Locations, Customers, Profiles and more. Most users will find the new app meets all their Listing management needs.

Agencies however are not able to use the app to service multiple clients at the same time.

Posts

Many users report seeing a decline in views and clicks to their Posts. Some business categories indicate Posts are no longer visible in search results. Google claims this is a temporary reduction but we are watching this trend closely.

For the time being, we recommend continuing to post keyword-friendly content to your Listing.

Google Guarantee

For a very select few business categories, Google is testing a Google Guarantee Program. This gives a business an “endorsed by Google” badge and drastically increases consumer confidence. Read the details on Google’s support page.

Agency Users

If you are an agency user, like Above the Fold, good news this month! Within the Agency dashboard, spreadsheets can be uploaded and downloaded to quickly integrate customers with multiple locations.

Spam Detection

Google will never call you to confirm details on your listing, offer to optimize your listing or threaten to close your listing. These are spam phone calls and if you receive a call protect yourself. Do not give any personal or identifying information.

Google My Business Step-by-Step Setup

Login page for Google My Business

Google My Business Login
As stated on Google’s website.

Computer

  1. Navigate to Google My Business.
  2. Search for your business using its name and address.
  3. If you see a dialog letting you know that someone else has verified the business, follow these steps.
  4. If you don’t see your business listed in the menu, click No, these are not my businesses or I’ve correctly entered the business. You’ll then be prompted to enter some details for your business. Make sure you enter an accurate, complete street address, and a phone number which reaches your business directly.
  5. Click Submit.

Mobile

  1. Open the Google My Business app.
  2. Sign in with the Google account you’d like to use to manage your business.
    • If this is your first time adding a business to Google, sign in with the Google account you’d like to use to manage your business and touch Continue.
    • If you’ve added a business before, tap the menu icon , then tap the name of your business to reveal a list of all listings in your account. Scroll to the bottom of the page and choose + Create new business.
  3. If you see a dialog letting you know that someone else has verified the business, follow these steps.
  4. Enter your business name and information and agree to the terms of service. Touch Continue once you’re ready to create a listing for your business.
    • You may want to access Google My Business on desktop to access more advanced editing features, including adding service-areas. Learn more

Mobile Listings View

Google My Business Listing Sample Above the Fold Canada

To enter the verification code you receive:

  1. Sign in to Google My Business.
  2. If you’re managing multiple businesses, choose the one at the address where you received the postcard.
  3. Click Verify location from the menu (or click the Verify now button) and follow the prompts to complete verification.

Voila!

You have added or claimed your business on Google. Let us know how it went! Did you have any difficulties or was it an easy process?

Keeping your Listing up-to-date is a key feature of climbing the search ranks. Read more about adding Posts or a Description. By utilizing all of the features of the Google My Business Listing service, your business information will remain accurate and customers will more easily be able to shop with you.

The Ultimate Google Listing Guide to find more Ready-to-Buy Customers.

Get your copy today!




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Local Safety Company at the Top of Google

Langen Health & Safety is an independent business committed to providing personalized experience and top quality products to fit their customer’s needs.  With 25 years of health & safety experience in regulatory enforcement, electrical transmission/distribution and power generation, industrial construction, oil & gas and mining, they ensure that companies are fitted with the proper protective clothing.

Langen Health & Safety is competing in an industry typically reserved for national companies. But yet, here they are at the top of the Snack Pack (the local listing top 3 on Google).

Let’s look at the simple strategies used to get real results for Langen Health and Safety.

 

  1. They contacted Above the Fold Canada for some help “getting found on Google.” (And yeah, we’re biased but can’t help but think this was most important.)
  2. We created a Google Listing.
  3. We worked through the basics of optimizing their Listing with images, posts, a description and specific business categories.
  4. We worked with their marketing and website guru to help her understand meta text, how Google reads a web page and how to add pixels to your website for tracking. This insider information gave us a detailed look under the hood for their website.

detailed look under the hood

Once we were armed with this information, we were able to:

  1. Make recommendations that directly impacted their search results
  2. Research industry keywords to determine the most effective term.

The final piece of the puzzle in managing their online reputation was paid online ads specifically targeted at their customers.

Langen Health & Safety has had great success getting to the top of Google. Try these simple strategies for real results for your business today!

Interested in being featured in an upcoming Feature Friday? Drop us a note here.

Thanks for reading!

Here’s more you might like:

The Ultimate Google Listing Guide to find more Ready-to-Buy Customers.

Get your copy today!




Google is Taking Action

Too many business owners being scammed

It’s one of the most common complaints by business owners relying on Google My Business; unsolicited, unwanted calls related to their Google Business Listing.

Google My Business is the most popular platform for business listings on the internet. It is also the most powerful, as so many other directory listing sites rely on Google for accurate information. Given the power and influence of the listing site, Google is clamping down on a large number of companies inaccurately representing themselves as being associated with Google.

Don’t Be Fooled

It is important to note:

  1. Google will never call you unsolicited.
  2. Google My Business is a free service from Google.
  3. If you are concerned about a call or email from a company claiming to be associated with Google, verify their legitimacy via their website or Google.
  4. No company can guarantee ad, listing or search engine results.

According to the news release from Google, “We’re committed to building products and programs that help small businesses grow.”  As such, Google is taking legal action against a host of companies claiming to be associated. To read additional details, visit the full release here.

Protect yourself and your business. When hiring a company to help with your Listing, always talk with them at length to be sure you understand the full value of their service.

Google My Business is an extensive listing service that allows you to add a description, texting, posts, respond to reviews, photos and so much more. Check out your Listing today!

Thanks for reading!

Here’s more you might like:

The Ultimate Google Listing Guide to find more Ready-to-Buy Customers.

Get your copy today!




Gracefully Ask Your Customers for Reviews

Canadian eh? Gracefully Ask Your Customers for Reviews

Asking for Customer Reviews is so un-Canadian of us

It just feels wrong to ask people to leave nice reviews about your business!

Competitors are likely to Attract more Customers

Does it feel any better to know that 85% of people google a business before deciding whether or not to shop your location. Competitors with more Reviews, are likely to attract more customers. That might make it feel much more Canadian!

Here’s our simple approach that anyone can use:

1. Thank the customer for their business.

2. Ask. Ask immediately after you wow a customer.

3. Ask in-person, through email or through our text service with a 90%+ open rate.

4. Keep your request simple.

A small percentage of customers will leave business reviews without being asked. A much larger percentage will leave a review after being asked. If you’d like more reviews, you need to ask.

Here are the quick steps to find a direct link to your Google Business Listing Review request.

  1. Login to Google My Business.
  2. Find your Listing.
  3. Click “View on Search”
  4. When your business listing appears, click on “Reviews” or “Write a Review.”
  5. An entry box will appear on screen, allowing you to write a Review. Copy the URL in the address bar to a location you will remember. (IE bookmark or e-notebook)
  6. Share this direct link when asking customers for a Review.

Test it out yourself to be sure it is working correctly. You can also use a “link shortener” to make the URL smaller.

And now that you have new reviews, don’t forget to respond! Check out this quick video on how to respond to reviews.

Reviews are one of the fastest ways to grow a small business. Get started today! Tell ya what. Become our customer and we’ll send you a request for a Review after we wow you. Deal? 😉

Thanks for reading!

Here’s more you might like:

The Ultimate Google Listing Guide to find more Ready-to-Buy Customers.

Get your copy today!




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