ONLINE MARKETING ADELAIDE – GOOGLE + (Part 3)

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In part 3 of the Online Marketing Adelaide – Google + blog we look at why some listings don’t make the first page of Google search results for ‘what they do’ and ‘where they are’ … and what, if anything, you can do about it.

As stated in part 2, it can take several months for a newly verified listing to appear in some search queries. In addition, the ranking of listings in searches by business type or category (e.g. “Caravan Park Adelaide”) is actually determined by algorithms and is not something that any of the Places/Plus support staff at Google can influence in any way.

The aim of course, is to become one of the ‘7-pack’ that appears when a person searches for a local business or service by location (see below).

Achieving one of these places guarantees extensive exposure (a caravan park client in this list receives around 30k views each month, with hundreds of click throughs to their website and Google map listing).

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It can be particularly frustrating when you create a new account that’s far more relevant (eg. actually located in the town or city, set up and completed correctly) than many of the ones that do appear.

Ranking of local results on Google

Google Places/Plus search results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence.

Troubleshooting to find the answer can be a time consuming task, as the cause can be any one (or more) of the following *10 reasons:

    1. The business is too far from the city where you want the Places rankings.
    2. Your business appears in Places results for other queries – just not the one you typed in.
    3. Google has penalised your listing.
    4. It’s too soon. (Newly created accounts can take a few weeks or months to appear)
    5. Incorrect business categories
    6. NAP (Name/Address/Phone No.) information not presented correctly on your website.
    7. NAP missing completely from website
    8. Empty, wrong and/or inconsistent citations (mentions of business name, address & phone number)
    9. The business may have too few or no citations at all
    10. Duplicate Google Places listings

*10 reasons sourced from Phil’s excellent Local Visibility System blog.

Businesses that have changed location, phone numbers or their name, often leave a trail of old listings behind. These incorrect citations harm the effectiveness of online marketing efforts. Google is looking for consistency of NAP information to deliver the best quality search results it can to searchers.

There’s no quick fix to remedy this issue, the only solution is to update the details of the accounts you do have access to – and send change requests to the ones you don’t. This process might take several weeks to complete.

The best way to identify these old citations is to search for your business name (and variations of it) using Google, it’s likely there will be several pages of search results, check each listing one by one and set about amending those that need it.

A Google search for ivolution consulting displays our website listing with links to Google + Reviews and our Google + Page. The remaining listings on the search results page display ivolution’s Yelp, Foursquare, Linked In, Google +, Facebook, Twitter Blog and Pinterest accounts.

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Citations (Listings) to review:

This is just a sample of the business listings that may require standardisation of business name, address, phone (and web address):

  • Social Media Accounts (some of these may have been set up without your knowledge)
  • General Directories (Yellow Pages, White Pages, Where Is, TrueLocal, AussieWeb etc)
  • Trade/Industry  Directories
  • Media Releases
  • Business Databases
  • Government Trade Listings

The more consistent citations Google can associate with a business, the more relevance and prominence it will give to it in its specific ‘local’ region.

To find out more about ivolution consulting and our Online Marketing Adelaide services, please call 0417 881 326 or contact us via email.

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Online Marketing Adelaide – Yelp (Is it worth the hassle?)

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It’s hard to believe that Yelp celebrates its 10th anniversary in October 2014! Its raison d’être was an admirable one; ‘to connect people with great local businesses’ … I have my doubts as to whether Yelp has achieved its noble aim, in fact, judging from the comments of unhappy business owners, it may have delivered more grief than benefit.

In many ways, Yelp was a forerunner to Google + (Plus), although it did have a more niche appeal. The preceding years have seen it spread wider than the restaurant and cafe community to incorporate a broader range of small to medium service businesses.

This week’s Online Marketing Adelaide blog looks at the pros and cons of Yelp, and whether it’s worth the hassle to create an account.

Yelp-Search

Setting up a Yelp account for a business is NEVER a simple task. Having established dozens of Yelp accounts during the past 5 years, I liken it to the evolution of the crocodile since the Mesozoic era … Yelp is the App that evolution passed by:-) … little has changed, claiming ownership is still clunky, the numerous bugs never seem to get fixed. All support enquiries get sent away for consideration by Yelp moderators (who all seem to be called Tommy).

Despite Yelp’s many issues, I still believe it’s a valuable asset for any local business – but probably not for the reasons that Yelp intended.

Yelp Business Page - PC view

Creating a Yelp account is worth the head scratching and frustration for the following two reasons:

– Apple mobile devices (approximately 50% of the Australian market) use Yelp business information for Apple Maps.
– Yelp listings rank highly in Google search results.

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There is a third reason also, Yellow Pages partnered with Yelp at some stage leaving a trail of partially completed listings (often with incorrect information) in their wake. Claiming and taking ownership of your digital assets is important for reputation management. Attracting new customers can be hard enough at the best of times, but losing them when do they find you due to incorrect contact details makes no sense at all.

The process for ‘claiming’ previously created listings can be challenging especially where the business name, address and phone number are all incorrect (which is quite common).

Setting up a new Yelp account starts here. An account may already exist. If a search for Business Name and Location fails to find your business scroll to the bottom of the page and click the Add your business to Yelp link.

A couple of points worth mentioning with the form:

  • Businesses that operate 24 hours a day can show opening hours of 12.30 am to 12.30 am (next day)
  • Selecting a Business Category appears to offer a very limited range of options, however if you select from the menu it will show a list of sub-categories and many of the sub-categories also have their own sub-menus. Yelp’s full category list can be downloaded here.

Similar to other US-centric applications like Facebook, Google Plus & Foursquare, the rest of the world is very much an afterthought. Invariably, the problems arise when trying to claim or validate map locations and addresses. A pretty big issue when these applications are aiming to help ‘local’ businesses.

Whilst I will be the first to admit that sleepy old Adelaide is not London, New York or Paris, surely it should still be selectable as a city ‘service area’ within Yelp. I’m sure every small town is available for selection in the US. In Australia however, Yelp cannot recognise many of the cities or postcodes – including the state capital of South Australia. A fixed location may be fine for restaurants, but for any business that services customers in metropolitan Adelaide or the Eastern suburbs it is quite useless.

Yelp Service Area

Like other social media applications, Yelp has both personal and business accounts. The mobile ‘social’ app does not appear to have attracted users in Australia like it has in the US. Current Yelp user numbers vary based on which stats you believe. SocialMediaNews.com.au has Yelp user accounts for April 2014 at 185,000 while Quantcast is showing 161,300 people. 

The social side of Yelp provides a similar service to Facebook ‘Nearby’ and Foursquare, allowing people to check in and leave comments or reviews. Yelp started life as a local restaurant review site, but now 75% of the business listings are non-food related.

Yelp Business Search

Personally, I don’t think Yelp will ever attract a big enough mainstream audience in Australia, but while almost half the population are using Apple Maps to find local businesses and continue to search with Google, setting up a Yelp account is a worthwhile exercise.

To find out more about ivolution consulting and our Online Marketing Adelaide services, please call 0417 881 326 or contact us via email.

Previous Online Marketing Adelaide Blogs:

Online Marketing Adelaide – Google +  (Part 1)
Online Marketing Adelaide – Google + (Part 2)
Online Marketing Adelaide – TripAdvisor

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Online Marketing Adelaide – TripAdvisor

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Having assisted clients with TripAdvisor for more than 3 years, I thought it worthwhile to write this week’s Online Marketing Adelaide blog about my experiences, results achieved and whether it’s worth making the move from a free listing to a ‘paid’ business account.

ivolution consulting helped a start up business with its online marketing when setting up overseas. This posed a few interesting challenges (finding the correct address and then trying to get it verified with Google & TripAdvisor in a foreign language). Notwithstanding the challenges, the business in question has become a fantastic success story. The initial online marketing campaign included TripAdvisor, Google Places & Maps, Google Adwords & YouTube.

Fast forward 3 years; the business is ranked No 2 out of 106 in its accommodation category and location with 187 customer reviews. There are now 4 properties instead of the 1 that the customer started with.

Reviews

Its visibility to holidaymakers and the overwhelmingly positive customer reviews on TripAdvisor have played a big part in helping to create this success story.

The number of reviews, amount of photos uploaded and management responses all contribute significantly to the success of the business listing, according to TA. It requires effort on the part of business owners to continually ask for reviews. Similarly, remembering to respond to those customers kind enough to take the time to write a review.

TripConnect v Google Adwords

TripAdvisor’s importance to any tourism business can’t be underestimated. Probably second only to Google for generating bookings and enquiries. Therein lies the biggest decision for SME tourism operators without an infinite marketing budget, do you put your cost-per-click dollars with Google or TripAdvisor’s TripConnect!

Speaking with a sales representative from one of the online booking platforms, he said that TripConnect is really aimed at the big hotel chains with many rooms to keep occupied. The large hotel chains also use the Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) extensively to ensure their prices and ‘book now’ buttons are available wherever their listings appear on TripAdvisor. This makes it difficult for SME tourism operators to compete for the few available TripConnect spots on the right hand side of TripAdvisor pages.

Having recently reviewed the Google Adwords report for the past 2 years for one of my tourism clients, I somehow doubt that TripConnect would deliver the 7,000+ ‘qualified’ click-through’s that Google has delivered to the tourism operator’s website for that period at the same (very reasonable) cost-per-click rate.

Exposure & Contact

TripConnect is only one aspect of the ‘paid’ TripAdvisor business listing, I believe the other benefits still make it a worthwhile investment. The two most obvious benefits are exposure and being able to show contact information.

TripAdvisor Business Listing with Contact Details

Exposure & SlideshowVisibility varies based on the location, but being seen by more than 500,000 visitors to the Glenelg accommodation pages or the 5.3 million who visited the Adelaide pages during the past year must help drive enquiries.

The provision of contact details is a real advantage! The free TripAdvisor listings for the two properties I work with in Glenelg, South Australia were viewed 2,400 and 1,000 times respectively, during the last 12 months. 3,400 people viewed the accommodation listings without any means of making contact. Therefore, the marketing value of beautiful photos and excellent reviews was likely wasted. Now the business has a link to its website, an email address and phone number available.

TripAdvisor Business Listing NewsletterIn addition to the above benefits, a ‘paid’ business listing provides exposure in TripAdvisor’s e-newsletters (the special offers are currently being sent to around 10,000 TA members each month), it must be said that the results so far are disappointing when compared to what Google Adwords delivers consistently month after month, but it’s early days.

The number of images that a business can display increases from the standard 5, plus they can be presented in a slideshow format (which is hidden away, rendering it rather useless). Access is also granted to TripWow, an application that enables photos to be converted into a video. TripWow itself is quite cool; it offers engaging, customisable video templates and outputs an excellent final movie. Unfortunately, the output file is in a Flash format, now virtually obsolete in 2014. This can however be uploaded to YouTube, converted and embedded into website pages.

The mobile option is an excellent feature, it allows people to call direct from the App, send an email or click the website link. If the website and online booking system are both designed for mobile users, they can go from the App to making a booking in 2 clicks.

Mobile Booking with TripAdvisor Business Listing In summary, a TripAdvisor business listing is good value (pricing is based on number of rooms and other metrics, so the annual fee can become expensive if a property has a lot of rooms). The biggest disappointment is that you pay for a listing but still cannot show pricing or provide a ‘book now’ button on your page. The easiest way to overcome this is to sign up with at least one OTA (and pay a commission on the bookings received). This way, both pricing and booking facility will be available with the listing to complete the buying-cycle loop.

Increasingly, (IMHO) people will use TripAdvisor not just to read the reviews and look at the photos, but also to make and confirm their booking.

It’s inevitable that all accommodation providers will need to move to TripAdvisor business listings and sign up with at least one OTA to allow real-time booking. The consequence of not doing so, will likely result in missing out on all business conducted via the world’s No. 1 travel site.

With 260 million unique monthly visitors (2 billion+ in 2013) seeking travel accommodation and tours, it does make the case for TripAdvisor a compelling one.

To find out more about ivolution consulting and our Online Marketing Adelaide services, please call 0417 881 326 or contact us via email.

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Online Marketing Adelaide – Google + (Part 2)

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If you missed part 1 of our Online Marketing Adelaide – Google + article you can read it by clicking the link.

The transition from Google Places (Google’s original service for local business) to Google Plus has been as difficult for Google as it has been for businesses using the services. There are more than 100 staff in the Google Places support team dealing with Australian transition issues.

To complicate matters, bugs with address details are handled separately by the Google Maps team. Google Maps has certain naming conventions that are ‘set in stone’, I found out recently that any business on South Road is stuck with an address of S Rd.

Google has now closed their ‘Places For Business’ listings. Any updates made via existing Places accounts will be lost when a Google Plus account is created. Typically, photos, business information and reviews will be removed. In most instances, it’s better to start anew with a Google + page.

When a new Google + account is created you have the option to find your business (if it was created and verified previously as a Places account). If Google can locate you, the set up process can be quick and quite painless. If your listing is not found it is a 2 week wait for a postcard and Pin No. to verify the validity of your business.

Google + started life as a social media competitor to Facebook (in the eyes of many commentators), however, its value to businesses is far more important (in 99% of cases) because Google wants to deliver relevant results that match what people are searching for. If they can deliver a verified business in a location that matches the search criteria, their search engine has done its job.

New or updated Google + accounts can take between 2-3 months to be indexed and ranked correctly. This is why some listings (that are often far more relevant than those dominating a particularly category) do not appear immediately. To see which businesses currently appear on the first page of search results in your business category, type ‘service name’ and ‘location name’ into Google.

No marketing can MAKE someone buy! However, to be one of the options presented when they are looking is invaluable.

A Google + account can often deliver the same search engine visibility as an expensive Adwords campaign.

Google + uses several ranking factors to determine relevancy; business name, address, category and business information. When all things are equal, reviews come into play. When a specific number of reviews are achieved, they add weight to the other ranking factors.

3 metrics – what they mean

On 1st April 2014 a new metric appeared beneath the circular profile image showing the number of views. This number is the sum of all page, post and picture views dating back to October 2012. The other 2 key metrics are accessed from the dashboard under Insights. How many times the Google + account has been viewed (in the last 30-90 days) and number of interactions (click throughs to website or Google Maps).

As mentioned in Part 1 of Online Marketing Adelaide – Google +, most people searching are just looking for a phone number to call or an address, just as they used to when using the Yellow Pages. 5 years ago, local businesses were largely competing with other local businesses to provide products and services. The world has changed dramatically since then.

Interstate and overseas companies are advertising and selling their products to customers in Adelaide and South Australia. This is the new reality, the new market place. Many people would still prefer to buy local if all other things are equal … however, if a local business is not found when they are looking to buy, they will purchase from those that are. 

To make the most of Google + please contact ivolution consulting by email or call 0417 881 326.

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Online Marketing Adelaide – Google +

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Welcome to the first blog in our Online Marketing Adelaide series. Each week we will relate our experiences and provide solutions to the issues encountered working with a range of social media and online marketing tools.

The only numbers that really matter (in our opinion) with any online marketing activity are:

  • the number of enquiries and
  • new sales conversions

In order to achieve these two outcomes; a business must be found when potential customers are looking for ‘what they do’ and ‘where they are’ … and if this can be achieved without spending thousands each month on paid advertising, even better!

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Our first topic for the Online Marketing Adelaide blog explains the importance of Google + (Google Plus) for small to medium businesses.

With almost 70 ‘verified’ Google Places/Plus accounts implemented in 2014 (encountering just about every conceivable issue and bug) this blog is written from extensive experience.

ivolution-consulting-GooglePlus_Clients

Why Google + is so important for local businesses

Up until 4 or 5 years ago, when someone wanted to find a business or service they would use the Yellow Pages. Most SME’s relied on their Yellow Pages advert to keep the phones ringing. Fast forward to today, the Yellow Pages is now obsolete. The first thing that people do when seeking a business or service is go to Google and type in ‘what they want’ and ‘where they are’. If a business can be found on the first page of results that appear, they have a 1-in-15 chance (approximately) of receiving a phone call. If they do not appear, the likelihood of an enquiry is zero!

These odds are pretty favourable when compared to the Yellow Pages, where adverts would share a category, often with hundreds of competitors.

The other big advantage of Google + in comparison with Yellow Pages advertising is cost! A full page advert (in one State publication) could cost up to $40k per annum. A Google + listing set up correctly will generate more business and enquiries month after month … without any ongoing cost (ivolution consulting charge a low, once-off fee to set up Google + accounts).

Most people when searching for a product or service are simply looking for a phone number or address. Google + provides this. Those seeking more details can click the Google + link, visit the business website or view the location on Google maps.

The benefits of being easily found with a Google search (often on the first page of search results) is phenomenal!

  • *Our two holiday apartment clients appear up to 8000+ times some months, with 150 actions to find out more information.
  • *Our two caravan park clients appear up to 50000 times some months, with 1000 actions to find out more information.

*These are average numbers, actions = visits to websites or Google maps

Try it for yourself (search the following services and locations):

  • physio marion (PhysioXtra Marion)
  • aerial photography adelaide (Aerial Photography Specialists)
  • celebrant victor harbor (Gail Ann Florence)
  • caravan park adelaide (Adelaide & Windsor Gardens Caravan Parks)
  • holiday suites glenelg (Corfu & La Mancha)
  • hardware store adelaide (Glynde Mitre 10)

Not all listings automatically make the first page of results (there are ways to improve ranking which I will explain in Part 2) but they do ALL appear in search results and generate phone calls and click throughs to websites and maps.

Quite simply, the small investment required to properly set up a Google + account IS the best value marketing initiative any business can undertake.

ivolution consulting specialise in Digital Strategy development, implementation and measurement. For the past 19 years we have been helping companies to profit from their activities online. A key component of our Digital Strategy Adelaide initiative is a digital audit report. The audit identifies existing digital assets (often not set up by the business) and a detailed analysis of website performance (if Google Analytics is available). The audit identifies where the issues are and includes recommendations on the best course of action to address them.

To find out more about Online Marketing Adelaide visit our website or ivolution consulting Google + page.

If you would like a digital audit of your business, please contact us.

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