For anyone interested in learning more about how a search engine decides what results to serve up for a given search query then Google has released this simple overview video, if you’ve no understanding of indexing and algorithms then this is an easy non tech introduction.
Google My Business (GMB) is an increasingly important part of local SEO. It is no longer enough simply to fill in your profile and leave your GMB listing as it is – your listing should be regularly monitored and updated in order to ensure that potential customers are seeing the correct information.
One of the most vital elements of managing your GMB listing comes in responding your GMB reviews. Anyone can leave a review about your business, so it is important that you respond positively to a good review, or provide information and your side of the story in the event of a bad one.
Here we take a look at some of the reasons that it is now crucial to your business to respond to any GMB reviews that you get.
The first reason to respond to GMB reviews is simple: freshness. From an SEO perspective (and from a customer’s perspective) it is good to see that the business takes an interest in what people say about it. It is an indicator that this is a real business with real people.
Google recognises when GMB profiles are updated, and responding to customer reviews is definitely a positive from the search engine’s perspective.
Optimising for keywords
On the subject of SEO, responding to customer comments and reviews also gives you an unusual opportunity to optimise for keywords. When you take the time to reply to the reviews you should make sure that you find a way to add in key phrases for your business.
As with all aspects of SEO, you should never ‘stuff’ your keywords – just use them in a natural way during your reply.
Google likes to see reviews
It’s not only for optimisation reasons that you should be responding to Google reviews, however there’s a final SEO point to be raised here. Remember that Google likes to see reviews of websites – it’s an indicator that these websites are being used – it also likes to see businesses responding.
Ultimately, this is a feature that Google has added, so it is something that it wants websites to get involved with.
Dealing with bad reviews
Of course, it is great to see positive reviews about your website, and you always want the feedback to be good. But it is natural for businesses to also receive negative reviews. Firstly, don’t take it personally – all businesses get negative reviews, and remember that a customer is 21 per cent more likely to leave a review after a bad experience than after a good one.
When you respond to a bad review, you have the chance to present your side of the story. This can actually be a great way to show this customer that you do care about their experience, and from a broader perspective, your willingness to interact with customers is a good thing.
Check the reviews are real
It is important to also make sure that the reviews that you are getting are real. Responding to negative comments is important, but if you suspect that a review is not genuine, there are steps that you can take to remediate the situation. You can dispute GMB reviews that you believe may be fake, as posting a false review is a violation of Google’s policy.
It is always good to have people talking about your business – it means that you are making a name for yourself. Responding to your GMB reviews is an encouragement to your customers to leave comments. Customers enjoy it when they see their reviews responded to.
Managing your GMB listing has never been more important – but it can be a very time-consuming job, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience. At Artemis we manage the GMB listings of many of our clients, and we would be happy to do the same for you. For more information get in contact with our friendly team today.
Local SEO is absolutely essential to location-specific businesses. There are many things that businesses with real world premises need to be doing to help them climb in the rankings and get more traffic to their site.
If your local SEO isn’t what it could be then it could be a great idea to perform a local SEO audit. This can help you understand your strengths and weaknesses, and get the little things right. Here are 12 questions that you need to answer in order to perform the ultimate local SEO audit.
1. Is your GMB listing up-to-date?
Google My Business (GMB) has been one of the most important tools for business looking to optimise their local SEO. In your GMB listing you need to have up-to-date information for your address, opening hours, and contact information.
The number of no-click searches now hovers around 49 per cent – indicating that customers are finding what they are looking for without having to click on anything. From your business’ perspective this means that your GMB information needs to be perfect, as many who search for your website won’t be clicking on to it; just taking the details from your GMB listing.
2. Are the photos professionally taken?
Your photos are your chance to show off your business in the best possible light, so it is important that you upload fresh, professionally-taken photographs from time to time. This could be a way to differentiate your company from competitors, and leave potential customers with a more positive opinion on your business.
Make sure you have a range of photos including images of your premises, products, and even staff at work.
3. Do you have reviews that need managing?
If customers are submitting reviews about your business on your GMB profile, this can be very good news. High quality, positive reviews from genuine customers improve the visibility of your business and lend credence to your work or products. But whether reviews are positive, neutral, or even negative, it’s a great idea to respond to them.
Google likes to see companies responding to reviews – but customers like it even more. It shows that you are a real business with real people, and that you care about making a good impression and being professional. Remember that negative reviews don’t necessarily indicate a bad business – it may simply be a customer with mismatched expectations, or perhaps a one-off mistake was made. Apologising, if appropriate, and being honest about the situation are the best courses of action.
4. Is your description optimised with keywords?
Take a look at your GMB description. Firstly, ask whether it presents your business as it should. But additionally, consider whether it is optimised for the keywords and phrases that you are targeting. Your description is a free text box, so you can add plenty of information about your company while promoting major services and products.
5. Are all your locations set up?
If your business has more than one location, you need to make sure that all of these locations are setup correctly. This is a very common mistake for businesses, and it can cause real problems for customers who might struggle to find one of your locations. Alternatively, customers might not even be aware that one of your locations exists.
6. Are you posting regularly?
Regular posting is an important freshness signal for Google. GMB posts don’t take a great deal of time to create and post, but they show Google’s algorithm that your listing is regularly updated and managed. Additionally, GMB posts are a chance for you to promote your message to potential customers.
7. Does your GMB listing match your website?
The last thing that Google wants to see is a website and a GMB listing that give customers mixed messages. This means that it is essential that you take the time to make sure that the information that you have written into your GMB listing actually matches what’s on your website.
Sometimes businesses will be so preoccupied with improving their GMB listing they’ll enter more up-to-date information without also updating their website itself.
8. Does your listing compare favourably to your competitors?
Of course, an important part of your local SEO efforts is taking a look at what your competitors are doing. After all, if you are doing all the right things, but a competitor is doing a better job by putting more time or budget into the work, you will need to up your game if you want to succeed in the rankings.
Regularly check your competitors’ GMB listings to see how they compare with your current output.
9. Is your LocalBusiness schema setup?
Schema is becoming an increasingly important feature for local businesses. With LocalBusiness there are more specific types of schema that can be used as necessary and relevant to your company.
10. Have you tested your schema?
You can easily check your schema using Google’s own Structured Data Testing Tool – this can show you what you have and whether it is working.
11. Do you have local backlinks?
Getting high quality links is well known as one of the most important aspects of SEO, but it is vital from a local SEO perspective that some of these come from local sources. Whether this is other local businesses, or local business directories, or authoritative news sites, having links from a similar location to your business is seen to be a big positive by Google.
12. Is your website optimised with location targeting?
Ensure that your website has references to your location not only in the text on the site, but across all areas that can be optimised: page headings, meta descriptions, and title tags.
Conducting a local SEO audit is just the first step in the process. Once you have completed this, you’ll need to continue maintaining your GMB profile, as well as performing regular updates and upgrades to your content. If you are looking for help with your business’ local SEO needs – Artemis has years of experience. Get in contact with us today for more information.
As marketers, we can spend all day writing about our fantastic products and services; how it works, what the benefits are and answering FAQs. But customers are increasingly savvy – they understand that any company can create great marketing copy, and where can they find content that they can really trust; customer generated content, of course.
“More than eight-in-10 global respondents (83%) say they completely or somewhat trust the recommendations of friends and family. But trust isn’t confined only to those in our inner circle. In fact, two-thirds (66%) say they trust consumer opinions posted online—the third-most-trusted format.” – Nielsen
Word-of-mouth marketing should be at the forefront your online strategy. Embrace user-generated content with effective strategies including testimonials, case studies, social media feeds, enabling comments and social sharing.
A classic; written testimonials. There are plenty of tools available to help you collect and manage reviews. Choose from third-party suppliers or review plugins to generate review ratings, testimonial sliders, rating badges and more.
- Ask your customer directly, share with them how delighted you’d be to receive their feedback.
- Make it simple, provide customers with a direct link and ensure the process is as straight-forward as possible; the less a customer has to do, the better.
- If you have physical premises, setup in-shop tablets to collect reviews then and there, ideal for service providers.
Create ‘case studies’ by working with your customers to share how your business helped them. This is the perfect opportunity to showcase your work and how your products or services have impacted the lives of your customers.
- Consider the title of this section, ‘case studies’ isn’t necessarily the most enticing tile. Consider ‘recent projects’, ‘customer stories’ and ‘clients we’ve helped’.
- Introduce your ‘case study’ with a testimonial from your customer, whether it’s captured on video or written in a quote, this creates an engaging introduction for your potential customers.
- Briefly outline the challenge or problem, relating the story to other users.
- Provide a summary of results, driven by facts, statistic, graphs or photographs. Use colourful, custom images. A picture is worth a thousand words; even stats can have visual appeal.
You’ve probably spent months, even years building great social profiles by engaging with customers daily. Don’t miss the chance to showcase this social proof on your site using social feeds. You may even increase your social follower count at the same time – it’s a win-win.
- Add social feeds to your site, pulling through social engagement. All those likes and comments you’ve received demonstrate just how popular your brand is.
- Start a #hashtag campaign on Instagram and add the feed into your website. Push bright and vibrant user-generated content to your website.
Written a great blog post recently? Allow your customers to express thanks and contribute thoughts by enabling comments.
- Enable comments in WordPress discussion setting.
- Allow for nested comments, letting customers interact with each other and allowing you to reply directly.
- Communicate with customers, keep an eye out for any questions they have or show your gratitude for their engagement by replying.
Whether it’s a product, service or post give your user the option to share the page on social media or email it to a friend. Pages with high levels of social sharing help to capture users’ interest by portraying positive engagement for other users.
- Add social sharing buttons to your posts and products.
- Demonstrate social proof by choosing social sharing buttons that display the number of shares received.
It’s all about the conversion
Combine user-generated content with clear and bold requests to users. Improve your conversion rate by capturing users who have engaged with your content.
- Add calls-to-action to your case studies
- Tell users to share your page.
- Take the next step after checking out a ‘Recent Project’
Keep track of your feeds, ensuring content displayed on your website hits the mark, but don’t be afraid of a challenging review or comment. Embrace the opportunity to show customers that you care by replying and resolving.
Enjoyed this topic? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts about customer-supplied content.
It goes without saying that conversions via your website are vital, but many websites skip simple tricks to boost their conversion rate.
Before changing your website, you’ll want to understand and measure the levels of enquiries your website currently generates by setting up tracking. You can do this by setting up goal tracking in Google Analytics (ideal for contact form tracking). For email and telephone numbers, you can use Google Tag Manager.
1) Include Telephone and Email Links in your Header
Make it easy for potential customers to find your contact details by including your phone and email details in the head of your website. Ensure these are clickable. With some basic HTML coding, you can set up click-to-call and click-to-email in minutes.
For click to call use the HTML example below:
<a href=”tel:+441444645018″> 01444 645018</a>
For UK numbers, always use the country code +44 after tel: as this ensures your click-to-call phone number will work internationally.
For click-to-email use the HTML example below:
2) Contact Forms
Including a contact form on your website gives potential customers the opportunity to get in touch there and then. These are fantastic for businesses that provide quotes or need to understand requirements of their client before purchase.
For WordPress users, Gravity Forms provides a user-friendly form builder with features that include email auto-responders and a selection of 30+ form fields, although it’s important not to get carried away with the field options. Try to limit your contact form to vital information. For many this includes the name, email, phone number and comment box. The fewer elements a potential customer has to fill in, the better.
Add a contact form to your contact page and your most popular landing pages. Careful integration of contact forms into your design can work wonders to your conversion rate, making it easy for potential customers to find.
3) Calls to Action (CTAs)
A Call to Action spurs potential customers to take the next step, whether that is adding a product to the shopping basket, reading more, or submitting a contact form. You’ll find many businesses have become creative with their CTAs, combining their unique selling points to create CTAs potential customers can’t help but follow.
Netflix, for example, demonstrates this perfectly. “Watch anywhere, cancel at any time. Join free for a month.”
4) Offer Proof with Reviews
If you already have a number of reviews on a third party site, you’ll likely have the option to embed reviews on your website, just like Trusted Shops demonstrate. This is a quick way of adding reviews directly from customers to your website.
If you don’t already have reviews stacked up on a third party site, it’s never too late to start. For more immediate application, you can use snippets of the thanks and positive comments you’ve received from customers in emails or letters. This often works best when you can provide a case study about a customer’s experience of the service or product they received.
5) Unique Selling Points
There’s no doubt that hidden in your content somewhere on your website are some unique selling points, but they are no good to you unless you make them stand out. Applying your USPs as a heading or enlarging the font size and weight of your unique selling points should be the absolute minimum.
Try embedding the USPs into the design of your website and if you really want to show off your USPs, always place them above the fold.
A few ideas to get you started.
Remember, always measure your changes through event tracking. This will allow you to understand what contact method your potential customers prefer, what CTA they respond to best, and what page and device they are converting on. Collecting this data will help you to continue making the right conversion rate optimisation to your website.
Get the Support Your Website Deserves
If you need further support with your conversion rate optimisation, we’ve got many more tricks up our sleeve. At Artemis, we work closely with our clients to understand the desired customer base and create unique strategies to suit you and your website. Get in touch for a free consultation to discuss our technical, conversion rate and opportunity reports.
Have a website? You should apply Schema Markup.
Why? schema.org is a powerful optimisation technique which will help search engines to understand what the data on your website actually means. It applies structure to your data and content, allowing search engines to display featured (or rich) snippets.
Working with local businesses, we’ve tested quite a few Schema Markup features and want to share three of our favourite schema tricks.
If you visit schema.org/LocalBusiness you’ll find a number of properties you could apply within your Schema script. You can get quite specific with the type of LocalBusiness you have with a range of business categories to choose from. Here’s a small selection: AutomotiveBusiness, EmploymentAgency, FinancialService, FoodEstablishment, HealthAndBeautyBusiness, HomeAndConstructionBusiness.
You can include a vast range of information about your business, from your logo, opening hours, to awards and even vatID if you really wanted to. To get you started, we’ve provided some basic Schema Markup we’ve tried and tested – You’re welcome!
FAQ’s provide valuable content that search engines want to understand, whereby they can deliver informative answers to users. Google frequently delivers rich snippets to user’s queries with a helping hand from Schema Markup.
If you have an answer to a question that you want to appear as a rich snippet, just like the one below, you’ll need to apply Schema.
You might come across a few different ways to Markup your FAQ’s, but here’s what we suggest to keep things simple:
Ever wondered how to get stars next to your listing on Google’s search? You’ve guessed it; Schema. This could possibly be our favourite use of Schema Markup, but there’s no guarantee it’s going to display… Not ideal.
If you want a shot at displaying your ratings you’ll have to follow Google’s Guidelines including:
- Refer clearly to a specific product or service
- Reviews should be readily available to users
- Ratings should be used with a 5-point scale
- Reviews must be sourced directly from users, not from other sites
As always, there are a number of properties you can display within your Markup, which can be found on schema.org/AggregateRating. In its simplest form, you should include:
How to apply Schema
We recommend two options:
- Applying the script directly to your webpage using Microdata to Markup content you’ve displayed.
- Using Tag Manager with JSON-LD script.
You’ll find many examples of the two scripts on the schema.org website, luckily there are also many free tools which will help you to write the code.
After you apply the code make sure you check your work with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool!
Getting the hang of Schema Markup
Like most code, there’s a bit of getting used to it required. The wrong placement of a comma or choice of property type will result in an error. Once you get the hang of it, we know you’ll thank us later. After all, there’s nothing more exciting for us SEO’s and website owners than seeing improvements in your search engine ranking performance or content appearing as rich snippets.
Many businesses lack a diverse range of images on their Google local listings, yet they are an essential element to having a well optimised Google My Business listing. Google’s algorithm will look fondly on a business with a range of well optimised photos. It’s so important that GMB Insights will even tell you how your photos perform against competitors in your local area.
Your image dashboard can be found by logging into your GMB profile and clicking on photos in the menu.
You will first be asked to add a Profile, Logo and Cover Photo to your local listing. Your profile and logo should both be different and measure to 250 x 250 pixels. The best dimensions for your cover photo are 2120 x 1192 pixels.
Once you have uploaded these, click the ‘What are these?’ link. This will allow you to select the photo you recommend to show first on Google Maps and Search. Make sure to keep track of what image is being pulled through on Search in your business knowledge box, Google will typically show the latest image you uploaded.
For best practice, here are Google’s guidelines on what size your images should be:
- JPG or PNG
- Max 10 KB and Min 5 MB
- At a minimum 720px tall and 720px wide
- Your photo should represent reality and be well lit. Do not make excessive alterations.
At its basic level, depending on the business category you have chosen, you will have 5 image categories which you are encouraged to fill out. These usually include:
- Interior Photos (of your office or shop)
- Exterior Photos (of your office or shop)
- Photos at Work
- Team Photos
- Additional Photos
You should add a minimum of three photos into each segment.
Don’t stop there
Once you have uploaded your well optimised and real life images, you need to ensure you manage and check your photos and insights.
Periodically adding more images to these categories is a great way of keeping your profile active, a necessary strategy to ranking well as Google suggests ‘business with recent photos typically receive more clicks to their website’.
In December 2016, Google My Business added insights for photos. Ensure you keep track of your GMB Photo Insights, you’ll be surprised just how many of your photos have been viewed, but most importantly keep track of your competition in the ‘photo views’ section. You can also view the photo quantity in comparison with business like you, a great metric to judge if you should be adding more images to your profile.
Beware! Anyone can add photos to a business’s location and those photos are likely to display on search. If it’s a malicious attack the images are unlikely to be anything to do with your business. In this case, you will need to flag the images to Google, this can take a few days to resolve. Click to enlarge the image and look for the flag. We recommend flagging the image by three different accounts at a minimum.
You won’t be shocked to learn that online business reviews are one of the most influencing factors during a consumer’s journey. Consumers are actively researching about products and services on Google, with 3.5 billion searches per day you need to make sure your business has a fair chance of being found. Reviews on Google could be the first point of contact consumers have with your business, so it’s important to ask, are your reviews ready to spark a sale?
Let’s clarify a few terms:
Google’s Local Pack will display the most relevant businesses to match your search query and the location specified or what’s near you. See below how a search for ‘restaurants in London’ shows where the restaurants are located and important details such category, opening times and of course reviews.
Google’s Knowledge Panel provides a brief description of a business, photos, and all the important details. It often includes interesting information that Google has collected such as popular times to visit. You will find a business’s Knowledge Panel when searching for the business name but only if they are verified on Google Plus.
Getting your business on Google
One of the first steps to getting reviews on Google is to set up a verified business profile on Google My Business. Fill your profile with images and get active on Google Plus by sharing posts.
As Google continues to innovate local search, the sooner you start working on your Google Local Profile the better. You could soon find your business featuring in Google’s Local Pack, giving potential customers a quick insight to your business vs your competitors. You will also see your own Knowledge Panel on Google providing consumers with important information before they even visit your website.
Next step, get your reviews
Make getting reviews part of your after-sales strategy. Include calls to action on your website, customer emails, newsletters and if you have a shopfront then make a sign. However, there is no better way of obtaining reviews than personally requesting them.
Your customers can leave a review via your Knowledge Panel, Google Maps Listing or Google Plus Profile. Just look for the little box ‘Write A Review’.
Keep in mind the following:
- To get stars, you need at least 5 reviews
- For your business to be found in the Local Pack you’ll likely need to invest in Local SEO
- Consider how many reviews your competitors have
- When you get a review, thank your customer or address any concerns they might have highlighted
Positive reviews are essential to your local SEO but there are many other factors that influence your position within the Google Local Pack. If you are concerned about your ranking position we offer a free initial consultation to discuss your concerns. Call today on 01444 645018.
John Mueller, a webmaster trends analyst at Google, recently announced they are working on the announcement for the launch of the latest Penguin algorithm; version4.0. Yes, you did read that correctly, they are working on the announcement itself, which may or may not mean they have finished work on the actual update. It could also mean the update may have already been fully tested as Google is not known for announcing something before it happens. It has been almost two years since the last Penguin algorithm update which rolled out in October 2014, however, in the interim time there has been a great deal of talk about the functionality of Penguin being written into part of the main Google search algorithm and so negating the need to ever run a specific update again.
Skip to the 44 minute and 30 second mark for announcement…about the announcement itself.
For those of you who may not know the Penguin algorithm is designed to identify poor quality and unnatural backlinks. A site that is hit by a penguin update can be severely penalised and knocked a long way down the rankings across a wide range key terms. Many sites which were penalised by Penguin 3.0 have attempted to clean up their backlink profile using Google’s disavow tool in preparation for the next update, in hope they may recover from their penalty but it is still a point of some debate whether or not it is even possible to regain old rankings after a penalty.
It remains to be seen what the announcement will bring and some people are even suggesting Mr Mueller may be playing a slight prank on a lot of over eager SEOs by describing the work on the announcement itself rather than the update. Throughout all of this current wave of debate the critical fact remains that link building is critical for good rankings and taking short cuts leaves sites at great risk. After all, why sit around hoping for an update that might fix a mistake made by you or your SEO agency when you could have avoided the penalty in the first place by sticking to top quality links.
If you would like to discuss this subject or any other SEO concerns, contact us today.
Keep a look out on our blog or social platforms for further updates as our SEO Team keep up to date with SEO news, day and night.