Google My Business Messaging

You’ve come here to learn about how to setup Google My Business Messaging. I’ll do that in a minute but for now, let’s look at how the process works.

A couple of weeks ago I followed my own advice and did a brand search to see what the results look like. I was pretty surprised by something I hadn’t seen before.

meaningful marketing victoria bc - Google Search

The “Request A Quote” button is enabled if you have GMB messaging setup. I recalled setting up messaging in the GMB app sometime ago but totally forgot about it. Good thing I was reminded so I can write this post and notify all of you about Google My Business messaging!

With that said, here is how the process works and how you can setup GMB messaging.

The GMB Messaging Process

Being rather intrigued I went ahead and sent a request to see how I would get notified. A few years Google started allowing people to post and questions on your GMB page. Great idea but when it first rolled out, you weren’t notified. You had to monitor this instead of being sent an email tied to the GMB page. Stupid right? Well they’ve rectified this thankfully.

Part of me was concerned I wouldn’t get this quote request. That was all put to rest when I get a SMS message with the details. The number wasn’t local so I responded to the text and asked for more information.

Here’s how the process works.

After sending a text back to myself, I was notified in my Google maps app with the conversation.

google my business messaging

To me this works fine since I have the Google maps app. But I have no idea how I would have gotten notified of a response if I didn’t have the app my phone. You’d think a Gmail notification would have been sent but there wasn’t.

Overall, there are a lot of issues with this. The first one being what if the business phone number on your GMB page isn’t a cell phone? I guess you would get a phone call with text transcribed. But how would you respond to the SMS to start the process of contacting the person back.

But Google has picked up on this!!

Download The GMB App & Setup Messaging

To my delight yesterday Google sent me an email notifying me of a change to the Google My Business messaging process and it makes way more sense! On November 15, messaging will move from SMS to the  GMB app. Here are the steps in that email to enable receiving messages to your GMB app:

1. Open the Google My Business app

2. Tap the ‘Customers’ tab

3. Select ‘Messages’

4. Tap ‘Turn on messaging’

After this step is completed you’ll want to setup an auto respond message. You can do this by clicking on the three dots on the right of this screen and selecting “Messaging settings” on the bottom of the screen.

gmb messaging1The next step is to select “Edit your welcome message” and then enter your message of up to 120 characters.

gmb messaging

From there you will need to turn on notifications from the GMB app so you can be notified when someone messages you. How likely is someone to send you a message? I think the odds might be pretty low as I believe new websites still have tons on value. If you have a website you are proud of and conveys your brand messaging, then you want people to visit it and learn more about your business and what sets you apart.

I also still believe people want to see your website too. They want to know why they should choose you, what kind of reviews you have and how they can trust you before reaching out.

There is the odd chance someone visits your website then a day or two later Googles your name and messages you direct from your GMB page. But I doubt anyone will Google your business without visiting your website and bit the “Request A Quote” button without visiting your website to learn more. After all, that would be like going back to the YellowPages phone book days where people started at the letter “A” and call around for quotes.

Regardless of what I think, you should set this up and see what happens.

Common Google Ads Mistakes

Would you believe me if I told you that SEO and PPC (pay-per-click) are not polar opposites? When you are looking to optimize your Google Ads, you can use both search disciplines to help you see real results. Another way to optimize your Google Ads is to avoid costly mistakes. These mistakes are so common that many Ads accounts have them right from the start. Below I will highlight some of the most common Google Ads mistakes that I see so that you can flag and fix issues before calling in a professional to do it for you.

Too Many Keywords

This is arguably the most common mistake in Google Ads. While Google suggests to make sure your keywords all fall under the same theme, this theme can either be specific or way too broad. If your main theme is too vague, it should be split into multiple ad groups. Try and keep your ad group themes as specific as you can, as this helps you have more control over the ad.

The more control you have over the ad, this means more control over where and what you spend your money on, what your ads look like, what your landing page to ad match is, and more. Even if it means having many more ad groups, trust me, you are going to want to follow my advice. Remember: it is way easier to manage a large number of organized ad groups versus a small number of unorganized ad groups.

Match Type Selection

The next big mistake that many people make is picking the wrong match type. There are four match types that you need to know:

Broad Match: This is the match type that I would recommend using the least. Broad match basically just means that you write out the keyword, and Google will display it for whatever it believes to be relevant in a particular search. This means that if you include one keyword, Google may show your ad in any search with that keyword, regardless of relevancy

Broad Match Modifier (BMM): The BMM is an upgrade from the broad match that includes additional elements. With this type, you put in multiple keywords that can exist in any order and with other words around them, but they all absolutely have to exist in the search.

Phrase Match: Phrase matches are similar to BMM, but they are more restrictive. You can have a keyword phrase with any words before or after, but none in the middle of the phrase. For example, if your phrase was “car dealer” you would match with “used car dealer” but not “car and truck dealer”.

Exact Match: The exact match includes your keywords and nothing else. This is the most specific match type, so you should try it on your most competitive keywords.

I’ve already wrote about how you can waste tons of money on wasted clicks if you’re not using the proper match type.

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Only One Ad Per Group

Next, let’s talk about only having one ad per ad group. I have a few tips for you about ad groups:

a) Try to have at least 3 ads per group. You might think it is easier to manage only one ad per group, but it is actually really hard to see what is working well for you if you have less ads in each group. Have at least 3 ads per group!

b) Bring out emotion in your ad copy. Don’t simply include generic phrases like “our service is the best”, because that isn’t what gets people to call you. Find out what kinds of emotions your clients or team are feeling and use those in your ads! Emotional touches really help your ad to stand out.

c) Include a call to action. People don’t always know that the call to action is the call to click your ad. Including a simple line such as “contact us today” helps the reader understand what they should do when they see your ad. It may seem simple, but it can really improve your results.

d) Use extensions. In Google Ads you will find a section called Extensions. These are small additions to your ad such as having an address show up under an ad, or somebody saying “we’re open 24 hours”. There are many different extensions that you can use, and I’d recommend putting in every extension possible for each ad group. Each extension won’t trigger at the same time, but having them enabled makes them ready to trigger when given the right opportunity. When they do trigger, this gives your ad more prime space and squeezes out the ads of your competitors. This is especially effective on mobile. Just be sure to double check that your filters are set up properly for local extensions!

Separate Display and Search

Finally, always keep display and search separate on Google. Google will automatically want to show your ads everywhere, but you should know that different types of ads work better on the display network versus the search network.

To remain in control of your ad campaign, avoid showing text ads on the display network. Since the search network mainly features text-based ads, it may seem easy to show the same ads on the display network (on websites). But when you do this, you end up with a boring text ad on a website with 10 other ads already on it. Your text ad is not the one that will stand out in this instance. I would consider this a waste of money, and you may end up paying even more if Google labels your group as “bad”. Instead, make sure your display network ads are specially designed for the display network, and leave the text-only ads to the search network.

Any questions about optimizing your Google Ads campaigns? Learn more about our Google Ads campaign management service.

How To Run A Local SEO Audit

Local-SEO-Audit

Running an SEO audit is a standard procedure for any website, and it’s a great way to get better insight on your website as a whole, the individual pages, and your overall traffic. But you can only get these insights and performance enhancements if your audit is done properly. While there are many articles out there on how to perform the “best” local SEO audit, trying to include all of the suggestions leads to disorganized and hard-to-interpret audit results. These kind of results aren’t what you need to improve your website ranking and performance.

Your best option when running a local SEO audit is to keep is simple. Stick to the basics first, and get fancy later. It’s the basics that will give you meaningful action items and actual tangible ways to improve your website. Below I’ve listed out the 10 sections that I suggest always including in a local SEO audit (give or take a few, depending on the business):

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Overall Comments

This should be about a half page of any commentary that is not an action item. Write any comments that you have, and include a section of “quick wins” (eg. a list of 5 small changes that can be made to have a relatively large impact).

Reviews

List out the top 5-10 review sites that will matter to the business (this may vary depending on location, business size, business focus, etc.). Be sure to also include suggestions on where and how to get more reviews in a prioritized order.

Google My Business

In this section, give any and all recommendations on the business’ Google My Business page(s). You should include things such as suggestions for features that you think should be used, and identify duplicate Google My Business pages. Our article on how to rank a Google My Business page is a good start as well.

Citations

This is where you should include any comments on the citation audit (this audit will most likely be separate from the main write-up). Getting business listings/citations is important for ranking in the Google My Business results. You’ll want to make sure the business information is correct in all citations.

Anti-Spam

Find and take note of specific competitors who are spamming the local map in this section. Be sure to explain what they are doing and how their spam can be monitored and reported.

Link Opportunities

It’s a good idea to do some research into specific link opportunities that you can include in your audit. These opportunities will be different for each business, so try to keep them realistic in your audit!

Website (Technical)

This is where you should write any suggestions on technical aspects of the website such as internal linking, title tags, overall structure, page speed, and other aspects. This section goes hand in hand with the next three sections below.

Homepage

The homepage is where a lot of things happen, so that’s why it should get its own section of the audit. There are usually plenty of ways to tweak a homepage, and all of those suggestions should be included here.

All Other Pages

If you have recommendations on any other existing pages besides the homepage, write them in this section. These could be pages such as “Services”, “About”, or “Contact Us”. Also take a look at items such as whether or not the website has blog posts that may work better as pages.

New Pages

There are always more pages that can be added! This section is where you should recommend any specific ideas you have for new pages.

Including these sections in your local SEO audit will give you a solid audit with actionable items to make your website better. While there are plenty of other sections to add, I always recommend sticking with the basics in order to see results.

I’m happy to help you run your local SEO audit and get your website the views it deserves. Learn more about my local SEO consulting fees.

Improve Your Brand Search Results

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As more and more of your potential customers view your business on Google, fewer and fewer of them actually click on your website. How can this be?

A Moz study from 2017 shows that 34% of Google searches result in absolutely no clicks, and this means that customers are viewing your business info directly on Google rather than on your website or social media page. This is why it’s important to improve your branded search results.

Think about it: your clients can Google your business, contact you or find directions to your address directly from the search results. That is if you have a Google My Business page properly optimized.

When they can do all of this, many of them will not visit your website. So what does this mean for you?

This means that Google needs to become your new home page, and this includes extending your brand to your search results. When your potential customers Google your business, what do they see? Does this result reflect your company’s brand in every way that it could?

Your branded search result is the page where Google sums up everything it knows about your business, and this is where your potential customers will get their information. Since word of mouth is such a huge driver for business, Google takes part in this by providing customer reviews attached to your branded search results alongside your company info. Let’s talk about how to improve this branded search result and leverage all of the elements that Google offers.

Leverage Google Brand Search Results

You may be wondering how much control you actually have. After all, Google owns the search result and not you. In reality, you have much more control than you think, and with a little bit of planning in addition to your already successful business, you can create a great narrative about your business right on Google’s page.

Start with consistency. No matter what variation of search your potential customer types or where they look on the screen, your brand should be clearly and consistently visible. If your branded search result appears different depending on which variation of your business name is searched or where it appears (in the knowledge panel, the local content, ads, etc.), this looks unprofessional and untidy. Google deep down needs consistent information about your business. That means your business name, address and phone number better be consistent to your website and all over the web.

Below are the desktop components that you have the ability to control and make consistent:

  • Ads
  • Your Website Organic Results
  • Knowledge Panel Images
  • Google Reviews
  • GMB information
  • Google Posts
  • Sites that also show in the Reviews from the Web
  • Organic Review sites
  • The Wild Card – Future Knowledge Panel Features

While I am focusing on desktop searches here, it is important to focus the same attention on mobile as well. Failing to do so will cause you to miss out on many potential customers who search your business using their cell phone!

Google Ads

A few years ago I wrote about how Google could be poaching money from your business by displaying your ad for a branded search result. I was silly in thinking this. Why?

I realized it’s actually helpful so that COMPETITORS don’t poach current or potential clients when someone searches for your brand. Also, Google gives you a low cost per click for branded keywords. We’ve implemented for a few clients recently and the average costs run from $.50 – $1.50 per click.

viva ortho brand search results

It’s well worth it to have a branded adgroup. This alone won’t fully protect your brand from competitors, but it is a great start to build a consistent branded search result.

Your Website Organic Results

This is one of the areas of the page where you get to control both the social proof and the messaging. You will see these results high on the page (possibly first if there are no ads) and it is definitely the first thing your potential customers will see about your brand. Alongside well thought out titles and meta-tags, you will want your customer’s social proof to show on your most critical product and service pages. Google has full control over the pages they show below your homepage but they will decide what’s important for the searcher.

smiletown branded search results

It should also be noted that Google will almost always recreate your homepage title to your brand name for branded searches. The above example is what Google recreates the homepage title to and the below screenshot is what Google shows for a keyword search of “pediatric dentist Langley”.

smiletown keyword search results

I mention this so you don’t get bogged down with deciding about putting your brand name at the end of your homepage title when it’s optimized for keywords.

Knowledge Panel Images

After viewing your branded search result, the viewer will most likely move to the Google My Business section to learn more about your business. Your Google My Business profile image is key as it gives a first impression of your business. Try using a good quality, closely cropped image that is compelling and appealing. Local customers do not want to see your logo, they want to see you and your products! Besides your profile picture, every other picture should be equally compelling. You never know if a customer will go through your entire gallery, or Google may choose a different photo to highlight.

Island Eyecare Optometrists

Google Reviews

Just under your photos you will find your Google review summary. When it comes to Google reviews, don’t give up! Keeping a sustained effort that gains 1-2 reviews a month can build a strong online foundation for your business, and it can bring you a step above competitors.

victrans branded search results google reviews

Never underestimate the power of a Google review, and especially the snippets that the Google algorithm picks out to reflect your business. And don’t sweat the negative reviews, they will eventually be pushed to the bottom of the page if you keep up your efforts.

google review snippets

GMB information

Did you know that posting your business hours could increases your requests for driving directions by 13% and the clicks to your website by 42%? Add as much as your business information as you can, this includes adding a link to your service pages or your menu. Google recently also added the ability for professionals to upload an appointment link (one more place for your client to click through to your website).

smiletown burnaby search results

Google Posts

There are three things that will help you make use of the new Google post feature: a great photo, a a short but compelling introduction to your business, and a call to action. While Google allows posts to be 300 characters long, only the first 100 characters will show in the knowledge panel so you need to make them count. Since this is still a relatively new feature users are still getting used to it, but hopefully the feedback is positive as it provides another way to showcase your business on Google.

google my business posts

Sites that also show in the Reviews from the Web

If you haven’t enabled Google Posts, “Reviews from the web” will show up right below your address info. This section has the space for up to three review sites, and it is very important that you get three review sites to show up there. Right away, add your own site and Facebook to your plan as Google will show both of these sites. You can include your own website by creating a consumer facing feedback program and posting the content in rich snippets right on your website. Don’t bother trying to get Yelp or TripAdvisor to show up here, Google will not add either site to this section. Some sites you could try are YellowPages and Facebook. You should view your review strategy over a 3-4 year timeline, so there is no rush to get reviews right away. Choose a few review sites to work on and go from there.

reviews from the web google my business

Organic Review sites

Once the user is done with the knowledge panel, their eyes will wander back to the organic search results for your business. This means that if well known sites such as Yelp or BBB show up, they will attract the user’s attention. With the exception of Yelp, BBB, and Tripadvisor, these sites also inform the “Reviews from the web” section in your knowledge panel, so if they did not see the info there, hopefully this is their chance to view it.

rakhi madan brand seerch results reviews

The Wild Card – Future Knowledge Panel Features

It’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for the next features that Google will be releasing on the knowledge panel because this helps you stay on top of your branded search results. Google is constantly changing and because of this you should continuously check your search results to see how the changes affect them. New features are being added and changed so fast that this article will probably be slightly outdated by the time I finish it – but it’s a good place to start if the concept of branded search results is new for you.

That was a lot of info, but it is all key to improving your branded search results and getting more potential customers looking at your business. Try some of these tricks out for yourself and see the results.

Contact us today if you are looking to improve your SEO rankings or Google Ads campaigns.

Negative SEO Campaigns Are Still A Thing, Sadly

how-to-remove-bad-backlinks

A couple of years ago I wrote about a clients website who was under attack from a negative SEO campaign and how you can clean up and remove spammy backlinks pointing to your website. First, let me sum up a negative SEO campaign as fast as I can so you can protect yourself against them.

A negative SEO campaign is someone creating a bunch of low quality and spammy backlinks pointing to your website so you get flagged or penalized by Google.

These campaigns are easy to catch if you are using any backlink checking software like Ahrefs.

You will easily be able to see a multitude of massive links in a short period of time. Kind of like I did just now when looking at my Ahrefs dashboard. This is what the dashboard looks like.

ahrefs-dashboard

Wow! 1.6K new backlinks. I can certainly say that we are currently not doing any lnikbuilding for the website so 1.6 backlinks sticks out. The nice thing about Aherfs is you can see each and everyone one of those links. Here’s what that looks like.

ahrefs-backlink-checker

Those Backlinks Look Spammy!

You can see in the top left hand corner I have new backlinks selected and that shows backlinks posting to our website that Aherfs has crawled in the last 7 days. What looks wrong with those backlinks?!

I had a good chuckle when I saw this screen. Over the last two weeks we’ve launched a website for Viva Orthodontics and started web development on another. When we do this we add a backlink to our website in the footer. But that would only equate to 50 or so backlinks as footer links are on each page.

Could someone seriously be going through with a negative SEO campaign on our website? I surely hope not.

The scary thing with these campaigns is that any can launch them on any website. And sadly the majority of website owners who don’t have an SEO company working with them will not notice this until it’s too late and their rankings have tanked or worse, are penalized.

You don’t want any of this to happen so what do you do?

How To Remove & Clean Up Bad Backlinks?

This is an easy two step process.

1 – I’ve already mentioned it but the first step is to signup for a backlink checker tool like Aherfs. Once you sign up, you can go into your dashboard and select referring domains. In the case of this example, I want to remove the new backlinks pointing to my website from the past week so I am selecting the new referring domains.

how-to-find-bad-backlinks

There is a little “Export” icon on the middle right of the screen. I click on that and all these domains get exported into an .csv file.

Once I have this information I can then go onto step 2.

2 – The next step is to submit a disavow file within your Google Search Console. You of course need to have Search Console setup to do this. Using the .csv file I download from Ahrefs, I add the domains into a text file which looks like this. Feel free to download that. Just be sure to change the date on the top line of you disavow file. Also, be sure to rename it.

Now you might want to wait until the bad backlinks and negative SEO campaign has slowed down. Or else you will be submitting this file too many times. In our websites example, I am going to wait a month and see if anymore spammy backlinks are created. That way I can add them onto the disavow file and submit them when the campaign comes to an end.

There you have it! It’s pretty easy to remove bad backlinks pointing to your website. It could save you thousands of dollars. Especially if your main traffic source is Google and SEO.