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.
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:
Your Website Organic Results
Knowledge Panel Images
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!
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the common things our clients want to know is how many people click through for their GMB listing to their website. Once you’ve properly optimized your GMB listing and are getting reviews, you should start seeing some traction. Whether it’s phone calls or website clicks, you’ll want to know what is going.
In this post I’m going to show you how to better track website click through’s and why you shouldn’t trust your GMB listings insights. Let’s begin!
It’s 2018 and voice search is on the rise. I’ve been reluctant to use it myself and blog about it. Early last year I did a few searches using Siri and the results were less than desirable.
But with the popularity of Google Home, Amazon Echo and many more home assistants hitting the market, the time has come to invest in voice search for local businesses. Since this blog focuses on local SEO, I’m going to discuss local SEO searches from the standpoint of using Siri. I hope to do the same using an Andriod device soon.
In this post I will explain why your businesses proximity and the diversification of your reviews is important to getting better Siri search results. Here we go!
Having location services enabled on your phone isn’t about getting spied on. Location services help Siri and other apps determine your location so they can help you. In the case of a local search, Siri will display businesses close by. This is why your businesses proximity to the search is an important factor.
Business Proximity To The Searcher
I blogged about the Google My Business results and why location and proximity are important for higher rankings or to even show up at all. The same applies to local Siri searches. Take the example screenshots below of a few searches for auto glass shops, transmission repair and pizza places.
While looking at these screenshots, the first and main thing to note is that Siri is using the Apple Maps app on my phone. As far I know, Siri uses Apple Maps by default and there is no option to switch to Google Maps.
“auto glass repair shop”
“pizza delivery place”
By looking at these screenshots you will see the proximity of all these businesses to my location. Once again Siri knows where I am as I have location services enabled. Most of the results are within 800 meters and 3.5 km’s from me.
So if you’re hoping to show up yet you’re on the other side of town and 10 km’s away, it’s not going to happen. Siri along with Google want to display the closest business to you. Not so much the best.
Diversify Your Reviews
Reviews go a long way and you should be focused on getting reviews for your business daily. We’ve been asking our clients to diversify the directories and sites that they ask for reviews on because it helps when potential clients do a brand search and see reviews on their Facebook, Yelp, and Yellow Pages listings on top of their Google reviews.
More reviews on directories like Yelp and Yellow Pages can help get higher search rankings within those directories as well. And nothing but positive things can happen when potential clients Google a business and see reviews from multiple websites. This builds trust and credibility.
Here’s a brand search for a client. Notice the reviews areas.
Obviously you can see the Yelp and Yellow Pages reviews. But Google is now displaying other reviews in the “Reviews from the web” in what is known as the businesses knowledge panel on the right hand side of the search results. This is where business contact details from the Google My Business page are seen. For this to happen, you must ensure your business listings are consistent and up to date.
Once again, look back up at the screenshots from my Siri searches. You will see the business listings provided have reviews from Yelp and YP.ca (Yellow Pages). It’s clear as day why you should be focusing on diversifying your reviews from a Siri search perspective.
So what can you to do to improve your rankings for Siri local searches?
How To Get Higher Voice Searches
It’s a really simple three step process. Once again you cannot control the proximity issue so you’ll be targeting people close to you. And you can get higher rankings from a local Siri search by following these tips:
2 – Head to Yelp for business owners, find and claim your Yelp listing if it hasn’t been. Fill out the information in full including adding some nice photos since Apple Maps is using those photos for their listings.
3 – Ask your clients to write reviews on your Yelp and Yellow Pages listings along with Facebook page. More reviews on multiple sites is better than more reviews on one site.
To get your small business site in front of as many potential customers as possible, you need on page SEO. Search engine optimization is vital to your growth and success. With proper on page SEO tactics you can boost online visibility, external links, keywords, and most important of all, organic traffic.
The top three marketing tools a small business has are . . .
54 percent email marketing
51 percent website traffic
48 percent social media marketing
On page SEO can make a big impact on your bottom line, not just by increasing traffic, but by also cutting your marketing spend in half. Do you run PPC ads on Google? With stellar on page search optimization in place, you can rank page one without running ads.
Make search engine optimization a priority in 2018 with the following SEO tips for small business online growth and success.
Get Local with Your Small Business
Mobile has become the preferred search device for products and services, making it essential to have your small business listed. In fact, 50 percent of mobile consumers who will visit a store they found in local search results within a day.
When someone searches for products and services similar to yours, they will see your business, website, and also get featured on Google Maps. Leverage other local listing sites like Yelp or Angie’s List as well. The more local listings, the more your small business will appear in SERPs.
Local listings are also the perfect platform for your customers to rate and review your business, products, or services. This is more important than ever, since online consumers check ratings and reviews prior to making a decision to buy.
Make Your Small Business Site Mobile-Friendly
The New Year will usher in a few changes for on page SEO, and one of them is Google mobile-first index. This will give priority to mobile friendly, fast loading sites when a user searches via mobile. This is very important for future business growth and success, especially since most consumers are now more mobile than ever before.
A few on page SEO mobile-friendly tips for your small business are:
Make your site’s content readable on mobile devices, including the text and font you decide to use.
Avoid software that is not mobile-friendly like Flash.
Google algorithms are always on the hunt for duplicate content and poorly constructed SEO titles (page titles) and meta descriptions. These issues could cause your small business website and pages to drop in ranking.
The first step to better on page SEO is to look at your page titles and meta-descriptions. You want to tell Google exactly what your page is about, and why it fulfills search intent.
Make a list of all your title tags and start looking for duplicate keywords, and subpar title descriptions pages that promote your products or services. Then get a little creative by replacing those duplicate keywords using online tools like SEMrush’s Phrase Match.
To highlight this important on page SEO tactic, here is an example from Brilliance, for product page best practices, listing a number of keyword rich options.
Time to Make On Page SEO a Priority . . .
Your small business can’t afford to ignore proper on page SEO tactics. These 100 percent free changes can decrease your need for large PPC ad spend while also providing a better user experience for your site’s visitors on both desktop and mobile. How will you make on page SEO work for you in 2018?
Nick Rojas combines 20 years of experience working with and consulting for small to medium business and a passion for journalism to help readers grow. He writes about technology, marketing, and social media for the aspiring entrepreneur. When Nick is not sharing his expertise, he can be found spending time at the beach with his dog Presto. You can follow him on twitter: @NickARojas
Jordan Caron: Hey everyone, It’s Jordan Caron from Meaningful Marketing. I’m sitting down with one of our clients, Adam Sullivan, who’s a co-managing partner at Victoria Transmission & Auto Care. Adam, please say hi to everyone.
Adam Sullivan: Hello, everybody.
Jordan Caron: Adam, we’re going to get right into it here with a few questions about your partnership with Meaningful Marketing. A little bit of background about yourself and Victoria Transmission. How long ago did you take over the business?
Adam Sullivan: Peter and I purchased the business in 2010 from my dad, and he’d actually bought it from his dad. We’re a third-generation business now that’s been fixing cars in Victoria since 1964, so I think that’s puts us at 54 years in town. Peter and I both worked at the company for many, many years. Peter had been here 25 years before we bought it, and I’d been here 15. And, we got wind that the owners wanted to sell. We really liked the direction the company was going and decided to make it a career for both of us.
Jordan Caron: And, when you took over the business, they were just strictly doing transmission repair, correct?
Yeah. Probably all of 90% of the work that we did was just transmissions, clutches, driveline things. And, the general repair side of stuff, like the break jobs and oil changes. If a customer asked us to do that, we’d do it. But, it was not something that we ever advertised or put out to the city at all.
Jordan Caron: Okay. So, you guys decided to switch that and become like, an all-care auto repair shop, then?
Adam Sullivan: Well yeah, because the transmission industry had been declining. It peaked at around 1999, and then what started to happen was the manufacturers started to build better product that would last longer, and then they’d warranty it longer. And so, we were seeing a steady decline from transmission sales. So, you look down the road 10 years and think, well if we’re declining at 10% year over year, in 10 years we wouldn’t be left with almost anything. So, we had to make the decision to branch out, offer and advertise general repair just to stay alive, or the future looked really bleak.
Jordan Caron: Ok, that brings up an interesting question. Before, they were just doing transmission repair. And, when you guys took it over, you obviously are doing all types of auto care repair. What types of marketing and advertising methods were being used when you took over the business?
Adam Sullivan: Pretty old school stuff. Our biggest thing was the Yellow Pages. The Yellow Pages were king; we’d spend $50,000, $60,000 a year to be the category leader in transmissions, and even a two-page, full-color ad, it was a ridiculous amount of money. The previous ownership would do the odd, three-month radio ad. The Q, or local stations like that. We put the odd thing out in Times Colonist or in the black press. But, all old school kinds of marketing, and we were seeing a big drop-off on how effective it was being. The ROI coming from those forms of media – they couldn’t justify themselves, not even a little bit.
Jordan Caron: Ok, so then, fast-forward to a couple of years after you purchased the business. You partner up with ourselves here at Meaningful Marketing. What made you focus on Internet marketing?
Adam Sullivan: Well, Peter and I sat down and were looking at our advertising budget, which was about 6% to 7% of our revenue which, in our industry, is too high. We were finding that we were doing a great job of keeping existing customers and getting referrals, but as far as new customers, if they were coming in, we spent a few months analyzing, where did they come from? What made them choose us? And, what we were finding was, mostly word-of-mouth, which we already knew was good. And, almost none of it was coming from our massive advertising and marketing budget.
So, we sat down and thought, how do you decide which restaurant to go to? Because we both really like food. And he says, well I’ll go online and type in, if I’m in Seattle, Seattle’s best restaurants. Or, if I’m in Los Angeles and I want to go do something with my family, what’s the best family stuff that we can do in Los Angeles? You get a lot of information from that, and you get a lot of online reviews. What we found for ourselves personally is, we make most of our decisions based on – at first, a google search, and then reading reviews from other people that have been there and have done it.
And at that point, if someone has 20 or 30 reviews, some will be positive and some will be negative. But, at least you kind of get almost an insight of that business. And we thought, hey, for our business, if someone’s never been to us, and they have lots of decisions and options when it comes to getting your car repaired, there are a million auto shops out there. If we could have the Internet presence and get our reviews going, that’s what we used. That’s why we decided to really focus on the Internet-based marketing.
Jordan Caron: So, you’ve kind of answered this question. But, how important are customer reviews for an auto repair shop like yours?
Adam Sullivan: Honestly, we found that online customer reviews are probably the single biggest generator of new clients that we talk to. They’re able to find us organically through our web presence, or they’ll find us through some of our ads. But, we find that they make a final purchase decision based on the reviews that they’ve read about the company. That makes them feel that they can know us and they can trust us. I’m sure other industries vary a lot but really if you’re looking for a new mechanic in a town, reviews are going to be worth their weight in gold, and they have been. It automatically allows the customer to get an insight into your business that just your own website, because that will be biased most times – if they can read reviews, I think it just brings a lot more credibility to everything that we do.
Jordan Caron: So, as of this interview, you have 59 google reviews, which is great because the competitors in the marketplace only have about 15 or 20 max.
Adam Sullivan: If that, yeah.
Jordan Caron: Now, what are you guys doing to get more reviews?
Adam Sullivan: Well, that’s the toughest part. I’m sure we’ve all been there: we’ve been to a restaurant, or we’ve been to a business and we’ve had just great service, and we loved it. And, we’ve probably said the words, oh I’m going to write a review for you guys. Or, you’ve talked to a waiter and the waiter’s done an exceptional job, and you say, hey you know what? Thanks, I thought that was just incredible. And he’ll say, hey, can you write a review? Because this will help me when I’m talking to my boss about my next review. And at the time, you’ve maybe had a glass of wine and the dinner’s been great, and the lobster was perfect, or whatever it may be. And you say yeah, yeah. I’m going to do it.
But invariably, you never write that review. You go home, life gets in the way. You think, oh maybe I said that, but what difference will it make? We’re trying very, very hard to make it as easy as possible for our customers to review us online. We’ll ask questions like, do you have a Gmail account? And, if they say yes, well then great. You can just go to our site, sign in and make a review. It will take less than a minute. Or, if they say, well I don’t have a Gmail account; I don’t even know what you’re talking about, you say, hey, it’s getting an email address to start with Google, with Gmail. And then what we’re going to do is, we’re going to send you a follow-up, kind of how to get set up, how to create that Gmail if you don’t already have one, and really, make it as easy and as fast as possible for the customer to do it.
One thing that some other businesses in town in our industry do is, they pay for reviews. Or, they’ll give credit off or stuff like that. We’ve never done that, and I don’t think we ever want to do that. Morally, it just feels kind of wrong to pay people for reviews. So for us, it’s just doing a really, really good job. And then, the follow-up with the customer. Calling them a week later after they’ve been in and saying, hey, Mister Smith. We’ve worked on your car. How’s it still working? Were you happy with everything we did in the service? And they’ll say yeah. And then, you can kind of just remind them, we’d really like it if you could make that google review for us. We appreciate your business and we’d like to have you back. And at that point, at least it gives us a second chance to remind them about the Google reviews, and we’re finding that that’s what’s really started to increase the reviews that we’re getting.
Jordan Caron: Perfect. One thing that Adam hasn’t mentioned here; in the follow-up email, what we do is send out a link to this person that goes to our website, which has a page that discusses and shows step-by-step instructions on how to write the reviews. So it makes it really easy for the person, if they’ve never written one, to go to that page and learn how to. And then, we also have a link that helps them find out how to sign up for a Google account, which obviously makes it easier for them to write a review.
So, that’s all of our time. I want to thank Adam for sitting down with us here, and hopefully everybody out there listening has gotten some knowledge on how to get reviews, and how important reviews are for each of their businesses. So yeah, Thanks, Adam.