Believe it or not, Google has done it again. Just when Raleigh-Durham businesses were getting comfortable with local search, Google flipped everything on its head with the introduction of Place Search.
"We're introducing Place Search, a new kind of local search result that organizes the world's information around places. We've clustered search results around specific locations so you can more easily make comparisons and decide where to go". - Google Blog, October 28
Seven Changes to Google Search
Elimination of the 7-Pack Google Map listing
Ranking algorithm for local listings have been updated
Google Places pages have greater visibility in new search result layout
Local results surrounded by more information like including 3rd party review sites
Information is grouped conveniently to make it easier to digest and compare
New link for "Places" in the left-hand panel of the search results page so you can switch to these results whenever you want
Google map now on the right side above the paid search listings, which scrolls as you scroll down the page
Google is Building in Local Web Intelligence
A Google Place Search result will begin appearing automatically on Google when they predict you're looking for local information. Their goal is make it faster and easier for searchers to find the local information they are looking for that will ultimately help them decide where they want to go. For example, if you live in Raleigh, NC and you are searching a Raleigh roofing company or a public golf course in the Raleigh-Durham area the results should be better at producing search results that are more relevant for you location.
What this Means for Local Businesses in Raleigh-Durham, NC
If you are a business doing business locally and are search engine optimizing your products and services using local Raleigh area keywords, the new Google Places Search will definitely impact how your business offerings appear in the organic listings. It is important for you to be well educated on the changes being made by Google. Local businesses must understand what they need to do to ensure their local listing is optimized effectively. Doing it right can have a very positive impact for local businesses.
Special Webinar: How Google's New "Place Search" Feature Impacts Your Business - Learn to Stay Competitive
Think about everything you do from an advertising perspective. Think about what your competition is doing. Think about advertisements that you see for any business. Don’t the majority of them refer people to the company website?
It doesn’t matter if it is offline or online advertisement:
TV commercials, radio spots, newspaper ads, direct mail, yellow page listings, billboards, business cards, and brochures
In most advertising campaigns they all have links or should have links to your company’s website.
A huge percentage of consumers go to company websites before making a buying decision. Your website needs to be easy to find and once found it needs to represent your business well. Placing your website URL in all of your advertising media is a best practice for driving qualified traffic to your website and improving the overall effectiveness of your entire marketing campaign. But does your website represent your business well or does it turn people away?
If your website is the hub of your advertising spend it needs to be worthy of being the center of attention.
Is it designed to represent your business visually?
Does it enhance your reputation?
Is it easy to navigate so your prospects and clients can easily find what they are looking for?
Is the content compelling enough to drive calls to action?
Not having your website URL in all of your ads will certainly hurt the effectiveness of your overall marketing mix. However, if you can’t honestly answer yes to all of the questions above your website is not worthy of being the center of your advertising universe. In fact, it can negatively impact your return on investment for your entire marketing budget.
The sights, colors, sounds and graphics offered by video truly have a positive impact. The combination of visual and audio elements as found in videos leads to recall of 50% of delivered information versus only 10% recall of information that is read.
Video can provide a big boost in your website search engine optimization (SEO) efforts
Videos can be optimized to show up in the search engines for keywords critical to your business success. The Forrester Group says videos are 50x more likely to be on page one of Google and other search engines as compared to other materials found on the Internet.
Web videos are affordable to develop and offer more flexibility than TV ads
The price of developing an online marketing video is comparable to producing a local cable television commercial. However, with web videos you don’t have to buy the expensive impression-based airtime. Web videos are not restricted to 30 seconds so you can tell a better story about your business.
Internet videos do not require interrupting your target audience
Watching television is a passive activity. Viewers are not actively seeking your business and they must be interrupted to hear your message. When you advertise on TV you are hoping some small percentage of viewers watch your ad need your offerings. Even if they are interested they probably go to the Internet to see what you are all about. If they don’t find you they’ll use your competition.
A well-produced and optimized web video can more effectively communicate your message because the average viewer is far more interested in hearing your message. With the internet they are actually looking for your service or product. If somebody searches for “Dog Boarding Raleigh NC” they are probably very interested in finding dog boarding services in Raleigh, NC.
Web videos can be used and promoted in many different ways
Your business video can be placed on your website. Your video can be optimized with your business key words and descriptions to improve your SEO efforts.
In addition to your website, your video can be distributed via your social media network, in email links to potential clients and on other popular websites like Google Maps.
An unprofessional video on your website can hurt your brand image
A poorly produced business video creates a poor image of your business. Just like misspelled words in a brochure reflect poorly on a business, the same is true if you have bad lighting, sound, or composition in your commercial web video. Professional editing is critical to creating a video with a professional image. Selecting the right scene transitions, perfect timing, and well-placed, appropriate music make all the difference. This is your online image, you want your video to be dynamic and captivating!
The secret with e-mail marketing is to not blast out announcements every day or several times a week, otherwise your customer will unsubscribe from your list because you’re contacting them too often.
Make sure to put your company’s name or the name of your product in the subject line so your potential customer doesn’t delete your message before reading it. Let’s face it, with all the unsolicited e-mail that jumps into our Inboxes at all hours of the day, you’re hard pressed to quickly decide what you read and what you delete.
That’s why it’s important not to use the “bait-and-switch” tactic of tricking your customer into opening your e-mail based on a curious subject, only to find that you’re just trying to sell them the next latest and greatest tool, software, or package that everyone else is promoting.
You don’t want to lose credibility with your customers, either through your initial e-mails or when communicating with them six months later. Consider it a privilege if you have customers on your list that signed up more than three months prior if you frequently send out sales messages. That means they trust you.
Most e-mail marketing companies that offer autoresponder accounts give you the option (and some companies make it mandatory) for the new customer to complete a double-opt-in process. That just means that after they fill in your form with their e-mail address, they will receive a confirmation e-mail that requires them to click a link, which says that they have willingly given you their e-mail address and they’re eager to receive additional messages from you.
So today you’ve learned quite a bit about e-mail marketing, but perhaps your head is spinning with uncertainty about all this information. If this is you and you would rather hire someone to do your e-mail marketing promotions, you can outsource those tasks to freelancers or to other business professionals who can write the e-mails for you in such a way that customers click the links and buy your products.
By choosing to hire out this aspect of your business, you can dedicate more time to other areas that will be more productive than handling all the administrative tasks. Besides, whatever amount of money you pay someone to handle this for you, it’s usually recouped with one or two sales on your web site. That makes it much more attractive when you think in terms of the return on your investment.
This is part two of a five part series on search engine optimization (SEO). Search engine optimization includes five key areas of work – keyword research, website conversion architecture, on-site and off-site optimization and ongoing website analytics.
Part Two: Website Conversion Architecture
For most business the key objective for search engine optimization (SEO) should not be to drive more traffic to their website. Instead the key objective of SEO should be twofold:
To drive highly-qualified, motivated visitors searching for specific products or services to matching content on the business’s website. Strong keyword research is critical to this objective as discussed in part one of this blog.
To convert website visitors at an optimized rate into leads and customers. Website conversion architecture is critical to this second objective.
What is website conversion architecture?
Website conversion architecture describes the process of designing a website layout and developing content that optimizes the percentage of visitors who complete a call to action. Depending on your business a call to action can include phone calls, appointment setting, e-newsletter sign up, completing a contact form or survey, purchasing a product, etc.
Why is conversion architecture important?
Achieving a strong conversion rate is as important to your return on investment (ROI)) as is driving qualified traffic to your website.
Increased Conversion Rate Only
Increased Visitors Only
Increased Visitors & Conversion Rate
As you can see, if you increase both your traffic and your conversion rate the impact on your business can be much larger than increasing only traffic or only conversion rate.
To be successful a website must have a persuasive purpose that is targeted to a specific customer profile. It is important to analyze your target audience to create profiles based on their behavior and needs. Once these have been identified funnel your different visitor types as quickly as possible to the information they desire. Then determine your primary calls to action to ensure your visitors meet their needs and place them so they are readily accessible throughout your site. For example, if you want people to call to schedule an introductory consultation, make sure they don’t have to click or scroll to find your phone number.
Website conversion architecture does not have to be a complex process. For many websites a few improvements in funneling prospects to the information they seek and providing them with readily accessible calls to action can have a dramatic, positive impact. After all, couldn’t your business benefit from an increase in leads and customers?
Too many websites are built on a project basis. The website is built and little to no marketing is included. In most cases project based websites become an expense to the business. A website should not be an expense. Instead a business website should be an asset and the cog of all offline and Internet marketing activities. Without an Internet marketing strategy your website will just sit there, invisible on the Internet.
TV advertisers would never spend thousands of dollars to develop a commercial and then not buy airtime. So why do so many businesses build websites and then not implement strategies to drive targeted traffic to their site?
It happens because many website developers are not Internet marketing specialists. Typically a website designer will work on a website until it is launched and they are not concerned with how the website performs in terms of generating leads and customers. The website might look great but it doesn’t contribute to achieving business goals. It becomes a liability.
To prevent your website from becoming a liability make sure it is being built as part of a planned Internet marketing solution. Internet marketing needs to be a continuous process designed to maximize your business results. An Internet marketing system uses a variety of powerful marketing tools to drive targeted traffic, convert visitors into leads and customers and to track, measure and improve results.
LinkedIn provides excellent resources for >keyword rich SEO link building>. Unfortunately few companies leverage this tool on their employees LinkedIn pages. Many employees leave the link blank and completely waste the opportunity to build high-value search engine optimization (SEO) friendly company links.
Even when the link is added many leave the link text as “Our Company.” It’s a start. At least you have the link to your company. However, search engines love keyword rich links. For example on my LinkedIn account (>http://www.linkedin.com/in/doncrouse>) I have links titled “WSI – Internet Marketing” and “Pay-Per-Click Search Marketing.” Both text links have keywords important to my industry,
Here are directions you can pass to company employees to build keyword rich links to your business website: