As business owners, we are all at least somewhat familiar with Google My Business (GMB) and what it has to offer. Some of us are only beginning to build our GMB profiles, while others have been using GMB actively for years. But what if I told you there is a new paid feature that will allow eligible businesses to upgrade their GMB listing even further? Let’s take a look at the details of the new Google Guaranteed feature below.
What is the upgraded profile and the Google Guaranteed Badge?
This feature was initially rolled out in the US, but has recently come to Canada for testing and further rollout. Eligible businesses will first need to pass a screening process (similar to what Google currently has in place for Local Services Ads) in order to get the Google Guaranteed Badge to appear on their profile. According to Google, the badge will help your business stand out to potential customers as a legitimate, professional, and trusted local business.
Basically, the Google Guaranteed badge lets customers know that your business has been vetted and approved by Google – more details about their screening process are below. Having this badge on your GMB profile helps to build your reputation and gives your clients some peace of mind knowing that they are dealing with a vetted business.
The key factor about the Google Guaranteed badge is that it protects your customers from poor and unsatisfactory service. For customers who hire a service via an ad with the Google Guaranteed Badge, they are eligible to claim up to a maximum of $2,000 as a reimbursement from Google for a bad experience. This is a lifetime maximum per customer, and it is paid out directly by Google.
Google Guaranteed GMB listings won’t be replacing their Local Services Ads feature any time soon, but it acts as a transition or supplement into the Local Services Ads program. It looks like Google is looking to increase their advertiser base and get businesses on board who aren’t currently using Google Ads or Local Services Ads.
How much does it cost and what is included?
Upgrading your GMB profile and receiving the Google Guaranteed Badge will cost you $50 USD per month, which comes out to $600 USD annually. It runs on a subscription based program, so if you decide to cancel, your Google Guaranteed Badge will be removed.
The subscription covers add-ons such as recorded phone calls and dedicated support. Enabling this upgrade will create a Local Services Ads account, so the interface will be very similar once you make the change to your GMB profile. The badge itself appears as a green checkmark with ‘GOOGLE GUARANTEED’ written under the name of your business.
When looking at the price, add-ons are definitely important – but what is more important is your perceived value of having the Google Guaranteed Badge on your GMB profile. How much of an edge will your business have if your business is one of the first to be listed as guaranteed? How will this affect your potential customers’ likelihood to choose your business over one of your competitors?
Which businesses can currently access this feature?
Since this service only became available in Canada in summer 2020, it is still fairly new and limited to a small number of business categories. So far, this new feature is only available to “eligible businesses” in certain sectors. The first business categories eligible for this upgrade include HVAC, plumbers, electricians, roofing, pest control, cleaning services, tree and landscaping services, and water damage restoration. It looks like the service will continue to grow and include more business categories in the near future, although that exact timeline is unclear.
How to apply for a Google Guaranteed GMB listing:
If you own an eligible business, you should be able to upgrade to the Google Guaranteed feature within your GMB dashboard. If you don’t see anything there, it is likely not yet available for your business.
Once you do apply, Google will begin the screening process for your business. This process appears to be the same as the one used for Local Services Ads. For most businesses, Google will perform license, insurance, and background checks to validate the legitimacy of your business. Here is a little more information about the screening process.
You may be thinking that businesses who have already completed the screening process for Local Services Ads would be logically some of the first to have access to the Google Guaranteed Badge. But it actually looks like that this feature is intended for businesses who aren’t already using the Local Services Ads feature. These two features definitely go hand in hand, so it may make sense for a lot of business to try out both.
Have you been able to upgrade your GMB listing to include the Google Guaranteed Badge? Want to talk more about how to use the GMB features available to you? Contact us today.
In the online world you’ll find lots of great things, but there are also many hidden dangers that are easy for the average person to forget about. If you have a website of any kind, there is always the potential of a cyberattack. Hackers are a real threat, and they perform attacks for all kinds of reasons. I’ve had to deal with a few of our clients websites which have come under attack.
Whether your site is a personal blog, a hobby, or a business platform, you’ll want to make sure that it’s protected from online vulnerabilities that can have real life consequences. In this post I’ll share some tips on how to keep your website secure and protect it from hackers.
Broadly speaking, a cyberattack is an attempt by a hacker to expose, alter, disable, destroy, steal or gain unauthorized access to a computer network or system. You may think it can’t happen to you, but it can and it likely will if you do not take the steps to secure your website. To a hacker, any vulnerability is an opportunity, so the key is to be proactive and take the steps to protect your assets ahead of time.
Tip #1: Create Strong Passwords
This might sound obvious, but passwords are always your first line of defence against a hacker. This means that you need to develop strong passwords for both your server and website’s admin services. A strong password should include uppercase and lowercase characters, special characters, and numbers. While some people will suggest using a random phrase, the strongest passwords are actually random sequences of letters, numbers and symbols.
If you find yourself struggling to keep track of all of your passwords, I would recommend using Last Pass. This tool can help you create strong new passwords as well as keep track of multiple passwords across your platforms in a secure way. It will also save you time and aggravation trying to remember all of your passwords. It also is an Iphone app which makes it more useful than browser password managers as you can access to any passwords all the time.
Tip #2: Prevent SQL Injection Attacks
An SQL injection attack is a specific cyberattack in which the attacker will use a URL parameter or web form file to access your website’s database. Even though the SQL injection is over 15 years old, it is still proven to be a successful attack method for hackers across the world. For websites with a standard Transact SQL, the attacker can just insert a piece of code into a query that will allow them to change tables and access or delete data. You can prevent this simply by using parameterized queries. If you are not a web developer, speak to your web development service provider to make sure they implement parameterized queries for your website.
Tip #3: Install Security Plugins
A great way to enhance the security of your website is to install dedicated security plugins. If you use a web host such as WordPress, there are several plugins available for you to download such as 6Scan Security, Sucuri Security, and WordFence. These plugins offer a wide range of features from automatic vulnerability fixes to protection against various types of attacks to firewall protection. It’s best to compare the plugins available and select one with the features that work best for you.
Tip #4: Stay Up to Date
One of the most common vulnerabilities that lead to successful cyber attacks is out of date software. Whether it be website themes, plugins, or other software, it is crucial to keep it up to date at all times. Updates are released for a reason: and that reason is to patch potential vulnerabilities, fix mistakes, and keep your website secure and running smoothly.
Tip #5: Set Up File Permissions
File permissions: do you understand how they work and what they can do for you? A website is made of many files including plugin files, media files, design files, and more. If one of these files is granted an incorrect permission, a vulnerability can be created which a hacker can then exploit. You especially want to avoid giving important files the execute permission, which grants full control. To avoid creating accidental vulnerabilities, learn how your permissions work or ask your web developer to double check the file permissions for you.
When you’ve put so much effort into building your website or brand, you don’t want it to be ruined by some anonymous hacker on the other side of the globe. Following the above 5 tips will help your website stay secure so that you can protect your content and data and keep doing what you love. Remember: you can never be to careful when it comes to website security.
If you want your website to stand out, there is a good chance that you have sunk a lot of time and energy into making it look great. Your content and design are on point and your site is optimized for searches – so now what? It’s time to go live! But that might be easier said than done as there are so many web hosting service providers to choose from. If you aren’t sure which web hosting provider to go with, you are in the right place. Below I will go over some things to look out for when you are choosing a web host.
There are always multiple varying factors that will change based on each individual website (e.g. audience location, how much traffic you are expecting), and this may influence which web host service that you choose to go with. But, when it comes down to it, the four main items that everyone should look for in a good web host are speed, reliability, scalability, and security. I’ll go through each one below.
When you talk about a website’s speed, you are most likely talking about how fast your site will load. A good service speed will allow your content to load quickly on the browsers of all site visitors, no matter where they are accessing your site from.
If your website’s files are hosted on one server in one place, the speed will decrease as the visitor gets further and further away from that server. The solution to this is store and distribute the assets in a content distribution network (CDN). CDNs distribute your files through data centres across the world and will deliver your content to your visitors via the data centre that is closest to them. Look out for at least one, if not two, CDNs if you want the fastest speeds.
How can anyone view your website if it doesn’t load? One of the most key elements that your web host should offer is 99.99% reliability. If your web host is constantly scheduling “down time” or a shared server can’t handle spikes in traffic, this can damage your website’s success. At the end of the day, down time equals missed opportunities for potential customers to visit and view your site.
Scalability goes hand in hand with reliability. This element looks at how well your site handles a higher than normal amount of web traffic, and what your server does when it gets an overload of requests. The best web hosting services will automatically spin up servers in response to traffic flow, so your site will be able to handle any amount of traffic. This means that if your brand goes viral, your website won’t crash.
Lastly, security should always be on your mind when it comes to the web. When a website URL starts with “http://”, it is not secure. On the other hand, websites that begin with “https://” show an indication that all communication between your web browser and the website itself are encrypted with an SSL certificate. It’s useful to note that some browsers will show a lock icon instead of “https://” to indicate that the website is secure.
Security is especially essential for any websites that collect personal information of any kind. SSL certificates not only help keep this data secure, but they also impact your Google rankings. Sites without an SSL certificate rank lower, so if you are serious about improving your rankings you will want to look out for a web host that promises and delivers security.
While those are the four main items that you should definitely look out for in a web host, there are also other bonus features that can impact your website’s SEO and performance. These should be seen as non-essential but “nice to haves”. I’ve listed those below.
HTTP/2: the newest version of the hypertext transfer protocol brings faster websites, but not all hosting platforms support it yet. If you are able to find a web host that does offer it, it could be worth it as there is evidence that Google may be including HTTP/2 in their ranking algorithm. With features like multiplexing and header compression, HTTP/2 is worth searching out.
Auto backups and version control: This will stop you from losing valuable changes made to your site!
Site-wide/per page password protection: To help your passwords stay secure.
Simple publishing workflow: This makes it easy to publish on your site so you can spend your time doing more important things like building your brand.
DDoS attack protection: Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are malicious attempts to disrupt normal traffic. They can be serious – so it might be nice to have protection from these attacks included in your web hosting service.
After reading this article you should have a pretty clear idea of which web hosting service you want to go with. Never be afraid to ask potential service providers lots of questions when it comes to speed, reliability, scalability, and security. Still not sure which web host to go with? I am happy to answer questions about web hosting, website design, or SEO – contact me to get started.
If you are wanting to improve your SEO rankings but aren’t sold on Google Ads, I want you to rethink that. The are a couple of reasons why, which I’ll explain in a bit. Read on to find out what those are.
I’ve already talked about how long it can take to increase SEO rankings. Depending on a few factors, it’s going to take an SEO company time and patience to do the job properly so that a website sticks highly on the first page. There will be money spent and it will take some time to see some organic traffic visit the website.
For many business and website owners, that’s a tough pill to swallow. That’s why I’ve always said SEO is a long term investment as you won’t have to keep paying for SEO services and subsequent organic traffic after the rankings stick. But this is also the reason why people aren’t sold on Google Ads and having to continuously pay for traffic.
Let me introduce you to a deadliest tag team in online marketing.
Google Ads and SEO
I would like to propose an idea, and that is to invest in both Google Ads and SEO at the same time. This will increase the monthly budget but it’s worth it. Here’s why.
While the SEO campaign is working away in the background and your search rankings are improving, driving traffic to your website will help the SEO company and it will also help the business owner.
This will give the SEO company very sound data on what keywords are generating the most amount of engagement on the website. Whether that’s simply average time spent on website or goal conversions, the data will help the SEO company make any tweaks to the keywords being targeted.
Here’s how it helps the business owner:
The business owner will be able to generate leads from the Google Ads campaign. Then hopefully close some sales to offset the cost of both the Google Ads spend and the SEO services. This will cost more than just running an SEO company but it’s money well spent for both parties.
It’s hard for many business owners to shell out money on SEO as it’s a process that might not see much in the way of results, traffic and leads. But as I explained above, it can a great option to also invest in a Google Ads campaign.
Fill out our discovery form if you are interested in this approach or using either of our SEO or Google Ads management services.
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.
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.
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.
The next step is to select “Edit your welcome message” and then enter your message of up to 120 characters.
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.