Archive for the ‘Online Marketing’ Category

Introducing the New Google Plus Local

UPDATE: Google is now merging Maps, Places and Google+ into what they’re calling “Google+ Local”, so all features can be found in one place.

Google+ Local

There was a lot of talk surrounding Google’s introduction of its very own social networking platform: Google Plus.  How would it fare next to giants like Facebook and Twitter?  While it seems the comparative success of Google Plus is still up in the air in regards to mainstream social networking, many loyal fans of Google Plus argue that the relatively new social media site does fill a creative niche that sets it apart from its competitors.  Businesses, especially, are finding that a Google Plus business page can pack a lot of punch when it comes to marketing, branding, and building a credible Internet presence.  As a matter of fact, Google recently made Google Plus business pages virtually mandatory for businesses concerned with maintaining the web status quo, with the announcement that Google Plus is completely absorbing Google Places, in the form of Google Plus Local.  If you find yourself in the position of making that all-important switch from Google Places to Google Plus Local, then here are some things you should know:

The social aspect.  Google’s original intent with Google Places was to provide an outlet for vendors to interact with their customers.  However, that concept never came to light, as Google Places pages were ultimately too static and limited to allow for much back-and-forth interaction.  Google Plus Local is the solution to that issue, and it promises to enable real-time interaction between businesses and their customers.  Businesses will now be able to grow a following and send out direct messages to them, as well as post regular updates.  Additionally, both businesses and customers will be able to filter, search, and organize their contacts in Google + circles.

More ways to connect.  Now, instead of displaying a business’ page in a list of search engine results, Google will provide web surfers with more interactive Google + Local pages by way of several different avenues.  In addition to Google.com search engine results pages, Google +  Local listings will also appear when users search Google Maps and Google Plus, and also when they make use of Google mobile apps.

New review ratings.  Whereas Google Places relied on a 5-star scales to convey average user review ratings, the new Google + format makes use of something called the Zagat score.  The Zagat score is more comprehensive – including marks for a number of categories related to each specific type of business – and the 0 to 30 range is therefore indicative of a business’ rating on a broad range of factors.

Take advantage of everything Google+ Local has to offer! Visit http://kenivey.com for details.

The post Introducing the New Google Plus Local appeared first on Ken Ivey.

How to Choose the Right Category for Your Google Places Listing

UPDATE: Google is now merging Maps, Places and Google+ into what they’re calling “Google+ Local”, so all features can be found in one place.

Google+ Local

A Google Places listing is an ideal web marketing tool for your business.  However, it is not as simple as just completing your business information and publishing your page.  You must put some time and effort into optimizing your page for maximum search engine potency, down to every last detail.  One mistake people make when setting up their Google Places listings is rushing through the setup process without putting ample research into their decision-making when it comes to things like keywords and other search engine optimization (SEO) factors.  For example, Google allows you to choose a number of business categories to associate your listing with.  While it may be tempting to just choose what you think are decent fits and get on with it, the truth is that your business categories have a lot to do with how many visitors your Google Places page attracts.  Therefore, you need to know how to make the best decision for your business needs.  How do you do that?  Here is a guide for how to choose the right category for your Google Places listing:

Creating your own versus using Google’s categories.  Google does allow you the option of creating your own business categories.  However, it is generally not advisable to do this, as Google’s categories list is full of keyword phrases that are proven to be effective when it comes to search engine rankings.

Make a list of possible choices.  Access Google’s categories list from your Google Places Account link and scroll the entire list of category options.  This may take some time, but it is worth it.  Make a running list of each and every category your business may fall under.  Sure, you’re not going to use all of these, but you want as many as possible before moving on to the research step.  Be creative.  For example, if you are a bakery, you may also run a catering service, or even do cake decorating.

Research the categories on your list.  What you are looking for are the strongest, most search engine relevant categories.  Use a keyword research tool (like the free Google Adwords tool, found online) to identify which categories are strongest in terms of search volume (local monthly searches) and competition.

Analyze the data from your research.  Compare all of your potential categories side by side and narrow your list down to the strongest.

Choose your categories.  From your narrowed down list, choose a couple of strong categories that are in line with your business purpose.

Take advantage of everything Google+ Local has to offer! Visit http://kenivey.com for details.

The post How to Choose the Right Category for Your Google Places Listing appeared first on Ken Ivey.

5 Most Important Components of Your Google Places Listing

UPDATE: Google is now merging Maps, Places and Google+ into what they’re calling “Google+ Local”, so all features can be found in one place.

Google Places

Your Google Places page can be one of the strongest marketing tools you have in your arsenal, as long as you know how to use it to its fullest potential.  For that reason, it is important that you invest some time and energy into getting it just right, and from the get-go.  Having a complete, accurate, and optimized Google Places listing can mean the difference between reaping some major rewards from your Internet marketing efforts and going completely unnoticed.  So, how do you make sure your Google Places page is speaking well on behalf of your business?  Here are five most important components of your Google Places listing:

Keyword-rich business description.  Your business description should be concise, informative, and easy to read and understand.  However, it should also be optimized for search engine spiders, so that your Places page sits as high in search engine return rankings as possible.  Do some thorough keyword research to find strong keyword phrases that can maximize your page’s SEO, and then place those keywords strategically throughout your business description, being careful not to cram them in nonsensically.

Accurate and thorough business information.  You should take the time to fill in every single space when it comes to completing your business listing.  Don’t leave anything blank, and be as concise and accurate as possible.  In order to rank high in Google search results, your site should have a score of 100 percent, which requires that you input something into each available line in your listing (including the ones that are indicated as optional).

Photos and videos.  Studies show that people surfing the web are more responsive to images than they are to plain text.  Google Places allows you to upload a large number of photos and videos.  Take advantage of this by uploading the maximum allowed amount.

Positive customer reviews.  Your Google Places listing includes a customer review section.  Encourage your satisfied customers to write a short testament about your business and ask them to post them on your Google Places page, for all to see.

Product and service keywords.  As previously mentioned, keywords are important when completing your business description.  However, you should also be specific about products and services you offer, and use strong keywords when describing them.

Take advantage of everything Google+ Local has to offer! Visit http://kenivey.com for details.

The post 5 Most Important Components of Your Google Places Listing appeared first on Ken Ivey.

Google Places Reviews: How to Get Them and How to Respond to Them

Online Reviews

Your business’ Google Places listing is an integral part of your online reputation, and is an invaluable tool when it comes to the Internet marketing of your business.  One essential factor that contributes to the success (or lack thereof) of your Google Places listing is customer reviews.  In order to make the most out of your Google Places listing, you should have plenty of relevant, high-quality customer reviews.  How do you handle the reviews aspect of your Google Places listing?  Here are some tips for how to get and respond to Google Places reviews.

Getting Reviews:

Ask for them.  This is the simplest way to get Google Places reviews.  If you have satisfied customers or clients (and you should!), then make it a point to ask them to visit your Google Places listing and submit a review.  Remind them that posting a review to your listing is easy: they simple click on the “Write a Review” button at the top left-hand corner of your listing and type away.

Your Google Places listing link.  Google Places provides you with a personalized link that you can send to your email or snail mail list to direct people to your listing and ask for reviews.  You can also include your link on all of your business correspondence, advertisements and marketing materials.

QR codes.  Generate a QR code linked to your Google Places listing and put it on anything and everything related to your business that your customers may see, along with a simple request to visit your listing and write a review.  QR codes will take any smart phone user directly to your Google Places listing with a quick and easy scan.

Third-party sources.  List your business in directories like Yelp, Bing, Yahoo! Business listings, and Foursquare and all reviews submitted to those sites will automatically link to and be listed on your Google Places listing.

Responding to Reviews:

Negative reviews.  It never fails that some people simply won’t be happy with your business, no matter what you do.  It is important that you preserve your business’ reputation by responding to these reviews promptly and diplomatically.  Make a public attempt to resolve any issues, and express your perspective in a way that is neither self-justifying nor insulting to the customer.

Positive reviews.  Thank your satisfied customers for their support, and offer them incentives to keep coming back.  By offering coupons and referral rewards publicly, via the Google Places listing forum, you are encouraging potential customers to give you a try.

Take advantage of everything Google+ Local has to offer! Visit http://kenivey.com for details.

The post Google Places Reviews: How to Get Them and How to Respond to Them appeared first on Ken Ivey.

Understanding the New Google Places

Google recently sent the Internet business community into a frenzy with its announcement that Google Places would no longer be called Google Places. In addition to its new name – Google+ Local – the business listing powerhouse will also change locales, to be housed in Google’s relatively new social networking platform, Google Plus. Google Plus Local pages still have much of the same functionality of the previous Google Places format, only they are more advanced and provide both businesses and customers with more communication options. Want to get in the know when it comes to this exciting new business frontier? Here is a guide to understanding the new Google Places (a.k.a. Google+ Local): Social networking via Google+ Local. Because Google+ Local is fully integrated into the Google Plus social networking platform, businesses now have the opportunity to interact with their customers on a large scale via their Google+ Local pages. You can post updates, send and receive private messages, develop a following, organize your following into categories (or “circles”), and even leave reviews for other businesses using your Google+ Local profile. These advanced social networking features carry a broad range of exciting opportunities for connecting with your customers in powerful new ways.

Google+ Local reviews. Google Plus completely revolutionizes the way customers leave reviews for your business. First of all, customers who want to leave reviews must be logged into their Google Plus accounts. This means that there are no longer anonymous reviews, which carries two very important benefits: 1) malicious and spammy reviewers will be deterred from leaving reviews, and 2) you will know exactly who left what review, and you can respond to them directly, through their Google Plus profiles. The second great thing about Google+ Local reviews is that, in place of the previous 0 to 5 star rating scale, there is now a 30-point rating scale that requires reviewers to break down their ratings into specific aspects of your business (customer service, food, and décor, for example). This gives you a great advantage when it comes to interpreting and applying reviewer data for the betterment of your business.

Reach. It used to be that Google Places listings were only shown on Google Search results pages. Now, your Google+ Local listing will show up when web surfers search Google.com, Google Maps, and Google Plus, as well as when people access Google through mobile apps.

Take advantage of everything Google+ Local has to offer! Visit http://kenivey.com for details.

The post Understanding the New Google Places appeared first on Ken Ivey.

How to Leave a Review Using New Google + Pages

UPDATE: Google is now merging Maps, Places and Google+ into what they’re calling “Google+ Local”, so all features can be found in one place.

Google’s recent announcement of the absorption of Google Places into Google + Local sent a flurry of panic throughout the Internet business community.  After all, Google Places was known for being a very powerful tool for businesses concerned with reaching the web crowd.  Fortunately, adapting to the new Google + format is relatively simple, and customers can still leave reviews quickly and painlessly.  Here is a brief rundown of how to leave a review using new Google + Pages:

Create a Google + account.  If you haven’t already done this, then it is time to create your Google + profile.  That is because reviewers can no longer post anonymously.  This is very advantageous to businesses, as it deters spammers and malicious reviewers.  Head over to the Google + page for easy, step-by-step account set up.  You must sign into your account in order to leave a review.

Visit a business’ Google + page.  From there, you will be able to find a “Write a Review” button, located in the upper right hand corner of the screen, which you can click to get started on your review.

Choose your user ratings.  Now, instead of leaving stars when you review a business, you will have to grade the business on a scale of 0 to 3, for a variety of factors related to the business (food, customer service, and atmosphere when reviewing restaurants, for example).  This rating system, based on the Zagat scale, is more comprehensive and reveals more granular rating nuances.

Write a review.  Underneath the user rating section, there will be a text box in which you can write and edit your review.  Google recommends being as specific as possible about your experience with the business in question.  Include helpful advice for customers who may be using your review to assess the business.

Publish your review.  Once you are satisfied that you have rated the business appropriately, and have looked over the written portion of your review to make sure you have conveyed what you want to about the business, it is time to publish it to Google +.  This part is simple: just click the “Publish” button at the bottom of the page.  Your review will then appear on the business’ Google + Local page, beside your Google + screen name and photo.

Take advantage of everything Google+ Local has to offer! Visit http://kenivey.com for details.

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New Google Plus Local – What Local Businesses Should Know

Google Plus Local

It is now pretty obvious that a Google Places listing is critical to a strong web presence.  What you may not know is that Google completely changed the face of Google Places.  As a matter of fact, it is no longer Google Places.  It is now Google Plus Local – a drastic overhaul of the previous Google Places platform.  It’s only natural for businesses to stress over sudden changes that force a very swift response (and an even faster learning curve).  But the good news is that Google Plus Local has the power to completely revolutionize the way you interact with customers via Google Places.  You might be surprised to find that the more you learn about Google Plus Local, the more excited you are to use it, and this is your perfect starting point for learning more.  Here is what local businesses should know about the new Google Plus Local:

Social Networking – the Plus in Google Plus Local

Google Plus Local is a major upgrade from the previous yellow-pages concept of Google Places.  In order to claim your Google Plus Local page, you must first create a Google Plus account.  This means you are automatically linked in to the entire Google Plus social network – a vast community of businesses, customers, and potential customers that you can interact with in a variety of ways, from posts to private messages.

The New Review Format

One of the primary focuses of Google Plus Local is customer reviews; however, Google Plus Local reviews are more advanced than what you might be used to.  Fortunately for you, they also come with some great advantages.  Customers who leave reviews on your page must be logged in to their Google Plus accounts; this means there are no more anonymous reviews, which in turn means you are less likely to receive malicious or spam reviews.  You can also communicate with reviewers directly.

User Ratings

Additionally, reviewers will have the opportunity to rate your business more thoroughly and accurately, using the new Zagat scale (as opposed to the previous 5-star scale).  The Zagat scale asks that customers rate your business from 0 to 3, in a number of categories related to your business, in order to calculate an overall rating of 0 to 30.  This system is much more telling for potential customers, and much more revealing for businesses looking to improve.

What happens to your Google Places listing?

Google makes the process of switching over to Google Plus fast and simple, by allowing you to transfer your Google Places listing information over to your Google Plus Local account.

Take advantage of everything Google Plus has to offer your business by enlisting the help of competent professionals like us.  Just call, email, or leave a message.

The post New Google Plus Local – What Local Businesses Should Know appeared first on Ken Ivey.

Attention Small Business Owners: Print Ads Don’t Work (Like They Used To)

It used to be that drumming up business for your European bakery, carpet cleaning service  or auto repair shop was simple:  You called the local newspaper and placed a display ad.  Newspaper advertising wasn’t cheap, but if you had a compelling offer or a coupon discount, readers were often intrigued enough to give you a call or pay a visit.

Fast forward to today.  Newspaper advertising still isn’t cheap, in fact it costs more than ever before, even though readership has dropped dramatically in many markets.  So who makes money from newspaper ads?  Newspapers, that’s who!  If ads were ever a good value, they aren’t any more.

coupon mailerPerhaps you’ve heard of coupon mailers.  They’re those envelopes full of nothing but coupons, so surely those must work, right?  Who doesn’t love a discount?  Well, sort of.  In the 4 to 6 weeks a coupon mailer like Valpak or Money Mailer runs a campaign, you may see a bump in foot traffic.  But if the customers are trained to expect coupons and won’t return without one, you could find yourself sacrificing margin to preserve cash flow.  That’s like treading water.  It only works for a short time and then?

This is where the beauty of online marketing comes in.

An online marketing campaign harnesses many tools and opportunities to get the word out there, to bring customers in and to keep bringing them in.  Unlike coupons that expire, your online marketing efforts roll on and on.  Today’s search engines focus on geographical proximity, a fancy-sounding term.  It just means that if a customer searches for a bakery, the first results will be the closest ones.  But this is only effective if those bakeries have built an online presence. It might be easier than you think; happy customers are often willing to write reviews online to share their experiences.  Most people want to help others find the best service providers.  With online marketing, you can be on the short list all over town.

There are so many ways to build your local brand online I can’t cover them all here.  Suffice it to say it would be wise to consult with an online marketing specialist.  We can help you navigate the process and truly bring your business into the 21st century.

Why you need Facebook Ads

If you are planning to start a business, you need to know that although the internet may potentially generate sales for you, it doesn’t mean that you will be able to achieve success immediately. As with any business, you still need to work on marketing. If you want to become successful, you need to market it on the web.

Especially with a new business, you may build it – but they may not come. That’s how it works – online and offline. Read the rest of this entry »

How To Take Advantage of Real Time Search

“Real-time searches”?   A real-time search engine will help you see what people are talking about “right now” on sites like Twitter. If you want to make sure your site pops on these searches, you’ve got to “get in the now,” so to speak. Doing so is going to make your website a lot more popular and get you a lot more traffic — which in turn makes you more visible and will bring in more customers, too.

Keywords count Read the rest of this entry »

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"As a small business owner, I knew how critical visibility on the web was, but didn't know where to start. Ken Ivey at MidTN Technology worked with me to upgrade my website... and taught me many ways I could get my business noticed on the internet - that I didn't know existed. I fully recommend MidTN Technology for not only the expertise, but also for the personal service and professionalism."

Kathy Fix, President, Staging Dreams, Murfreesboro, TN