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5 ways to improve your small business rankings in Google for 2019

For many years, McKinney small businesses have understood the power of strong rankings in the search engines.

Indeed, achieving a strong page 1 ranking on Google can boost the number of customers for any business with an online presence.

But how exactly do you score a great ranking in Google?

With more and more small businesses in McKinney, TX turning to Digital Marketing, there is a growing need to understand the power of strong rankings in the search engines. The tactics have evolved from what they were just a few years ago. Let us outline 5 important strategies for small businesses trying to improve their exposure online.

Technical Onsite SEO

5 or 6 years ago, SEO was more of a technical exercise. Today this is still an important component of a small business SEO strategy. In fact, many of the same components are used. 

Overall, you will not rank for a keyword that is not physically on your website. We know this sounds obvious, but many small business owners don’t have strong content on their homepage, and can’t figure out why they don’t rank well.

Keywords needs to be strategically placed in the Title Tag and H1 Tag. If you don’t know what these are, learn them. It isn’t rocket science. This will also make you better able to communicate with your developer. Or if your website is on the WordPress platform, you can adjust these yourself with one of many SEO plugins available.

Having a website that looks good is important. Many people believe that Google is monitoring bounce rates and dwell times as indicators of user experience. An outdated website or one that is just confusing will repel users, and may hurt rankings. 

Ensure that your website is fast. Google explicitly tells us it does not like to rank slow websites. This hurts user experience, and rankings too.

Also build a mobile-friendly website. More and more users view websites on mobile devices. The latest stats available indicate that 58% of website traffic comes from a mobile device. Your business needs to be well represented on any digital device platform.

Google My Business 

Google presents a map for many keyword searches. They do this for keywords they believe to have local searcher intent, where seeing the business in a map is more helpful. The catch here is that Google is not presenting the business website itself, but rather the Google My Business page listing for that business.

Because of this dynamic, it is important that small business owners claim their business listing and ensure all the information is accurately updated. Business phone numbers, addresses, hours and other relevant information is critical. The way this information is entered in the Google database has been shown to impact rankings. 

Additionally, the number of times the phone number on file with Google My Business is seen by Google’s spiders around the internet has been identified as a ranking factor. These are known as citations, and sometimes NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number). To give your business an edge over the competition, post your NAP everywhere you can. There are also numerous services that can help you with this SEO process known as Directory Listing Services. Luce Media can submit your NAP to dozens of different directories and get you quickly ranking. Click here and scroll down to Online Visibility.

Strong Content

At Luce Media, we know that Google has a strong preference for long-form, well-researched content. For this reason, it pays to write very long blog posts on your website. However, the content needs to be informative and helpful for users.

Many small business owners claim they will have time to write blog posts themselves. However, after a month or two, they stop blogging (if they ever started in the first place). This is a critical mistake. If you can’t produce the blog yourself, hire a service to do it for you. Luce Media provides blog writing and content marketing in McKinney, TX.

Content published on the website needs to be visually appealing as well as well-written. This means many pictures and graphics – sometimes called visual assets. These visual assets should give the reader a visual representation of the main concepts of the blog post. This will help keep lazy readers engaged.

Many of the top bloggers recommend something visual to break up the words between every fold of the screen. This technique is strong because readers have something appealing to look at as they get tired of reading.

Backlinks

For many years, backlinks have been known to be a critical ingredient in search engine ranking success. This is no less true in 2019 than it was a few years ago. Great content will not rank without strong backlinks to the content from highly authoritative and relevant websites.

Backlinks are key to ranking higher in search engines.

Adam Stetzer, Ph.D. has been in the SEO business for 10 years and says: “Backlinks are one of the hardest concepts for small business owners to understand and execute. They understand on-site SEO and writing great content. They have a hard time committing to a great backlink building strategy because of the mathematical and conceptual nature of backlinks in the Google algorithm. Nonetheless, there are great places on the Internet to earn backlinks for free.” 

Search engine optimization experts generally agree that there are 2 major components of a backlink that determine if it will help you rank: Authority and Relevance. 

A backlink is considered to have authority if it comes from a domain with high Domain Rating or Domain Authority. These factors are easily queryable using free SEO analytic tools. In generally, you want a link from a high domain authority website. 

Furthermore, the backlink will help you more if it is on a specific page on that website that also has strong authority. Several years ago, Google started distinguishing which pages on a particular website were the strongest. This, again, is determined by how many backlinks are feeding into a specific page on a domain. So while a link from a high authority domain is good, a link placed on the strong web page on that domain (usually the home page) is the best.

The second criteria for a backlink is the relevance of that link. You want links from websites that are about the same subject matter as your website. If you are trying to rank a website about cars, a link from another automotive website would be much more valuable than a link from a foodie website.

How to weigh the relative importance of categorical relevance vs domain authority nobody can really answer except the engineers at Google. Most SEO’s go for relevance over authority. Both is ideal.

Relationships and Reputation

The final parts of the small business strategy are relationships and reputation. This is a very important part of any SEO strategy as negative reviews often rank very highly in Google. Additionally, the more relationships you have the stronger your ability to earn great mentions, reviews and backlinks.

Many small business owners overlook the idea that building relationships will help their online presence. Indeed, it feels old fashioned. However, human relationships are at the heart of all business, and it is humans that place great backlinks into powerful stories online. Understanding the importance of online reviews is critical for the business owner in McKinney, TX.

Small business owners need to be active in their communities, regularly attend meetups and maintain ties with those who can mention them online.

Conclusions 

Earning a top position for your small business in McKinney, TX on Google will bring in customers. Because these positions are so coveted, they are also extremely competitive. The 5 strategies outlined in this article represent an outstanding opportunity to move search engine rankings up and get the phone ringing.

This Post was originally Posted at: https://www.bmmagazine.co.uk/marketing/5-ways-to-improve-your-small-business-rankings-in-google/

Image from Luce Media showing Google My Business logo

6 Steps to Claim and Optimize a Local Business Listing on Google My Business

For a lImage from Luce Media showing Google My Business logoocal business that wants to get discovered in search results, maintaining an accurate Google My Business listing is critical. The listing details (such as the business’ phone number, website, photos, and hours of operation) determine what information consumers see in Google Search and Maps.

Business owners need to take control of the company’s Google My Business listing to ensure up-to-date business information is displayed online. This means creating or claiming the business listing on Google My Business and optimizing the content to ensure accuracy and improve visibility.

Claim and Optimize a Google My Business Listing in Six Steps

Here are 6 Steps to claiming and optimizing a local business listing on Google My Business.

1. Search for the Business on Google

The first step is to find out if the business already has a Google My Business listing. Google often generates listings based on information available online, which may or may be fully accurate. An existing listing should be claimed so the information can be updated and kept accurate.

A simple Google search for the company name can reveal whether or not a Google My Business listing already exists. If a matching listing appears in search results, there should be a link that says “Are You the Business Owner” next to the listing. If, however, the business does not show up in search results, it’s important to create a new Google My Business listing and update it with correct information about the company.

2. Request Verification of an Existing Listing

To claim the listing, click on the “Are You the Business Owner” link. Next, sign into Google, search for the business name, and request verification. This will give you control of the listing and allow you to begin optimizing it. In most cases, Google will give you two options to verify the listing, “Mail me my code” or “Call me now.”

If the “Are You the Business Owner” button is not visible, then the listing has already been claimed. Talk to any partners, owners, or marketers involved with the business to find out who has claimed the listing. Double check if there is another Google account linked to the business. If you can’t figure out who verified the listing, you’ll have to go through Google Help to gain access.

3. Confirm Business Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP)

Once the business has been verified, you can easily edit and update the business details that will show up in search results. It’s crucial that the business’ name, physical address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent across the web – so the NAP data in the Google My Business listing should exactly match what’s on the business’ website.

It’s highly recommended that if you need to make changes to the listing you make those before requesting the verification from Google. If you make the request and then make a change, you’ll quite possibly have to make a second request to get the listing verified.

4. Choose a Single Business Category

Customers and search engines both prefer business’ that accurately represent themselves online. So when selecting a category for a company’s Google My Business listing, it helps to be as specific as possible. Even if the business falls under multiple categories, it’s best to select the single most relevant category to describe the products or services offered. If you aren’t sure which category is the optimal choice for a particular business, search for similar companies on Google to see what categories they’ve selected.

5. Upload Relevant Images to Represent the Business

In order to provide customers with more context in search results, Google likes to display images next to business listings. Google My Business listings with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions as well as a 32% better click-through rate to the company’s website.

If the business doesn’t upload official images, Google can display photos uploaded by the public – which can sometimes result in embarrassing mishaps for the business. Although a business can suggest a ‘preferred photo’ for search results, Google will only use the recommended photo if it truly represents the business.

Here are some tips for setting preferred photos that Google will approve:

  • Upload high-quality photos that give an accurate impression of the store location.
  • Use real pictures of products sold by the business.
  • Keep Google’s recommended file size (between 10KB and 5MB) and minimum resolution (720px tall, 720px wide) in mind.
  • Don’t use stock photos or text-based images.

6. Further Optimize the Business Listing

There are a few more ways to get the most out of a Google My Business listing, including:

  • Keeping the Business Hours Up-to-Date: Google displays hours of operation to tell consumers whether or not the business is open at the time of their search. Remember to update this information if business hours change during the holiday season.
  • Collecting More Customer Reviews: Encourage customers to leave reviews and take the time to reply when they do.
  • Adding a Description on Google+: Although businesses can no longer edit their descriptions on Google My Business, this field can still be viewed and edited on Google+.

Whether claiming an existing Google My Business listing or creating one from scratch, use the above tips to ensure accurate information shows up the next time a consumer searches. Keep customers happy, keep Google happy, and increase local visibility.

Need help claiming, creating, or optimizing a Google My Business listing? One location or one thousand, we have you covered!

This story first appeared on Advice Local

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Social Media Strategies That Win Customers

Social media marketing for business is here to stay.  According to Moz, a well-known SEO consulting company, “72% of online adults use social networking sites.” (https://moz.com/blog/category/social-media.)  Want a crash course in social media marketing essentials?  Invest a few minutes in reading this article about social media strategies.  Discover helpful tips that can help you win customers.

  1. Use social media marketing that instantly ignites your target audience’s interests. What exactly is social media marketing (Social Media Strategies That Win Customers - Luce Media McKinney TXSMM)? Before I define what SMM is, first, think about being a kid at recess in elementary school.  That was a socializing activity.  When we acted social at playtime, we found children our own age also interested in playing marbles, swinging on the playground swings or closely examining ants marching along the ground in a column, etc. Our desire to be social and share common interests is natural in virtually every activity humans do.

When businesses engage online in SMM, marketers share messages (called content) that interest specific prospect types for that business.  So, think of being online like being on the playground back in elementary school.  You are engaging with prospective friends, but it is for business now.

For example, suppose you are a medical doctor.  You write lots of prescriptions.  To write prescriptions, you need ink pens.  Pencils will not do because graphite can be easily erased.  Since you don’t manufacture them yourself, you need someone who sells pens.

You instinctively look online for places that sell pens because for many years now businesses trained us to shop online.  Shopping is a social activity.

According to Statista (https://www.statista.com/topics/871/online-shopping/), in 2016 global e-retail sales amounted to 1.9 trillion US dollars with growth projections by 2020 increasing up to 4.06 trillion US dollars. In business, we buy and sell goods.  To effectively and successfully run a business, you must be social to let medical doctors know you sell ink pens.

The same is true for all businesses. Social media marketing is an activity you do to let a specific group of people know you have the solution to a certain problem or challenge they are experiencing.  As you socialize, you build business relationships with them.  This is done by providing content to which your target market immediately relates.

By sharing content relevant to your target audience, your company can increase brand exposure and broaden customer reach.  The more your company’s brand regularly appears online in many places, (like a familiar TV show), the more you build a fan base.  The more you socially build a reputation for being a trustworthy company, the more sales you make and the longer you stay in business.

  1. Socially engage with your target market using digital marketing. What exactly is digital marketing?  Digital marketing describes online marketing activities where you share your marketing messages on mobile devices and online using emails, SMS messaging, and real-time reporting in the form of analytics.  Marketing online is electronic compared with offline marketing which commonly uses the US mails to mail marketing messages on paper, networking meetings, live public presentations, etc.
  2. Tell compelling stories using content marketing. What is content marketing? We all love to hear an interesting story.  Content marketing revolves around storytelling.  In content marketing, you share online stories through videos, blogs, and social media posts that show how your business solution changes lives for the better.

When effectively using content marketing, the messages you share connect genuinely with a targeted audience. They provide valuable information to consumers and create an eagerness to purchase company products in the future.

To see 30 examples of genius content marketing, check out this link https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2015/12/30-genius-content-marketing-examples-2015.html.

  1. Do’s of social media marketing
    1. Pretend you are dating when it comes to social media. Just like going on a date with somebody new, put your best foot forward.  Be genuinely friendly.
    2. Take it slow as you get to know your target audience a bit at a time. Remember, you are building a meaningful relationship with target market influencers.
    3. Look for common interests between you and your ideal prospect. Talk about those interests in your social media content.
    4. Talk about the problems associated with the common interests you share. Then, share your ideas that make those problems better.
    5. Deliver value rather than just sell your products or services. Be a business friend, but not one that is just in it for the sale.
    6. Recognize that it takes time to build relationships with new customers. Just like in dating, on the first date, you talk the things you may have in common (rather than when you’re going to get married.) Find out about each other and see if you have something in common.
    7. When commonalities are discovered, build on those commonalities. (Similar to when you learned if your ideal marble playing friend in elementary school liked to play with clearies, steelies or cats eyes marbles, etc., in marble games.  In other words, in your first Tweet, drop a nugget of information that helps your ideal prospect in some way.  Make your social media messages all about your prospect.
    8. After you write your content, promote it everywhere that’s appropriate to reach your target market.
  1. Don’ts of social media marketing
    1. Don’t spam by posting and breaking rules of the social media site.
    2. Don’t talk about features of your products/services and reasons to buy. Talk about benefits to the end user of choosing to solve his/her problem.
    3. Generally, don’t be all about the sale (unless it’s an ad)
    4. Don’t say disparaging or inappropriate things about other people. This can destroy your business reputation and credibility.
    5. Don’t misspell content. If you need to hire a professional writer, do it. If you’re just starting out and have limited marketing funds, see if you can trade services to get things done.
  1. What the statistics mean to those in business:
    1. If you are not using social networking, you are losing money. Returning to the playground example, if you were the shy kid and played alone, that doesn’t work well in business.  If you feel afraid to reach out and network, consider getting some professional counseling.
    2. If you are socially networking, are you using a social media content calendar with relevant target market topics? Get a free social media content calendar template from Hubspot here. (https://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33415/The-Social-Media-Publishing-Schedule-Every-Marketer-Needs-Template.aspx

When you write content, have an end result in mind.  For example, if you are selling musical instruments to children, talk to the parents about the value of their child learning how to play a musical instrument. You could write a blog post on how playing a musical instrument develops self-discipline.  Another blog post might be about how it helps kids get over shyness.  Create a calendar of blog posts that methodically show how it helps kids in many (specific) ways.

  1. Further tips on providing meaningful social media marketing include talking about the emotional aspect of your message. People act for emotional reasons.  When you say something that makes readers FEEL, your message is meaningful.  For example, if you sell hummingbird feeders, a FEELING Tweet might be, “Love feeling amazed watching hummingbirds fly? Imagine what would happen by putting up a hummingbird feeder in your own yard.”  Compare this with a salesy Tweet, “Hurry!  Hummingbird feeders on sale now at Sally’s Lawn and Garden.7. How marketers can make relevant use of social networking to win customers.
    1. Know your target market. When you write social media messages, use the language, words, terms, and passions of your target market.  Speak to them in a way that means something to them. For example, if you sell photocopiers, and a concern for your target is saving money on copies, talk about how they can get more copies by using the toner-saving feature. Talk about what matters to your MARKET more than what matters to YOU.
    2. Provide relevant content of high perceived value to your target market. The content you provide reveals strategies, tips, tricks that make your target market’s jobs or lives easier, time-saving, satisfying. Find out what matters to your target.  Do this by listening and using their feedback. Then, genuinely show them that their interests are valid and important to you.  A great video that helps you understand their need to be validated it this brief video called Validation.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cbk980jV7Ao
    3. Approach well-known target market challenges, issues and/or problems from a new, interesting, helpful angle. For example, suppose you sell sleep apnea and snoring relief products. Instead of only talking about how sleep apnea is a medical condition that could contribute to causing unwanted health issues, talk about sleep apnea and how a person’s snoring might be negatively affecting his or her relationship.  Those who snore may be unware how important it is to have sleep apnea checked out by a doctor.  But the clincher to send them to their doctor may be to reveal the benefits of a better relationship with a spouse by having it checked out.  This can all be conveyed using compelling and relevant social media marketing messages.

Content marketing in your social media messages works well to win customers.  Prospects like to hear and read testimonials, case studies and personal accounts about problems solved by using a specific product or service.  It helps build credibility and goodwill for your company products.

Lucé Media’s goal is to help small to medium-sized businesses grow new leads and sales. We offer a free social media audit. Click here to sign up and we will get to you as soon as possible.

Now that we’ve shared some tips with you, would you share yours with us?  Leave a comment about your own social media marketing strategies and successes for others to enjoy.