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    HOW TO: Optimize Your Google Places Page for SEO & Search Discovery

    Last updated 1 year ago

    Did you know that 1 in 5 searches on Google are related to location?  That means there are about 400 million searches daily by people looking for something local. So, it’s critical to make sure your business can get discovered by local consumers online.

    A very important part of this process is to have a claimed, optimized Google Places page for your local business. So, once you’ve claimed your local listing on Google, what can you do to make sure it is SEO-friendly? In part one this series, we’ll cover how to optimize your basic information in your Google Places listing, and in part two, we’ll look how to get the most out of images, videos, and reviews.

    The Basic Information

    Optimizing your listing starts with perfecting the basics. It’s important to have accurate, consistent information about your business listed on Google. Before you claim your listing, Google could pull that data to create a listing for your business from a third-party site, which could have inaccurate information. Plus, how you complete this “basic information” about your business will have a big impact on SEO for the page. So be mindful as you set up the basic business information in your listing.

    1) Name Check – First, make sure that your Google Places page is using your actual business name to be in compliance with Google, which states that you should “Represent your business exactly as it in the offline world.” You shouldn’t include taglines, phone numbers, URLs, or other words that aren’t in your official business name in the business name portion of your listing. Find our more by reading Google Places’ Quality Guidelines.

    2) Include Accurate Location Information – Next, you want to make sure that you list accurate information for your business details, starting with the business’s physical address. You can’t use a P.O. Box for a Google Places listing, and you should make sure that you use your actual, specific business address, rather than just a city name or cross streets. Also make sure not to create more than one business listing for a single location. You can specify a service area for your business if it serves more than one area, for example: a plumber that has a central office but services various locations.

    3) Use an Accurate Business Phone Number – You should list a local phone number and avoid using a call center phone number for your Google Places listing. Make sure the phone number you use here is accurate and up-to-date, includes an area code, and is punctuated just like your phone number appears on your website. With details like your phone number and address, it’s critical to be consistent across your web presence, including other listings and sites, so pay careful attention to all the details. Here’s a checklist of the details to be consistent with in your local listings.  

    4) Use Your Business Web Site – You don’t have to have a business website to list on Google Places, but your web presence is an important factor for making sure your listing gets ranked. Google notes that you should use a URL to an actual website rather than a URL that redirects people to a landing page.

    5) Strategically Select Your Categories – Select five categories for your business listing, either using pre-defined categories by Google (which means that they are generating map results around these keywords in local markets) or by creative categories you can define. For your first keyword, select the one that is the best fit for your business based on what Google defines in the dropdown menus for categories. The order you list your categories in is important, and the first category indicates that you want to rank highly for that category. For the additional four categories, you can use categories that Google defines, or create your own, or a combination of both. To see if your creative categories may get picked up in local maps, search for that category and another business metro area together to see if Google local search pulls up a map in the search engine results page for that word. If it does, there’s a good chance Google will create a map for that category keyword in your area too. If not, better to stick to a category that Google will recognize by selecting one that shows up when you search from the Google Places account setup process.

    6) Write Your Description for Search Engines and People to Read – One of the most important elements that will affect the SEO of your Google Places listing is its description . You have only 200 characters to write this, so make sure it includes a few important keywords: business keywords, location keywords, and product or service keywords. But don’t just list your keywords in this section, because this description is also how potential customers will decide whether or not your business meets their needs. So, make sure your description is written for humans but contains important keywords for Google to strike the right balance.  

    By making sure this basic information is accurate and strategically created, you can help optimize your Google places page to get discovered by local consumers. In the next part of this series, we will focus on how to use the additional features of your Google places page, like reviews, images, and videos, to optimize your listing.

    Stay tuned for part two!

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     About the Author
    Tiffany Monhollon writes about social media, marketing, and local business success as the lead blogger for ReachCast, a service that helps local business owners develop their web presence.

    My Business is on Facebook, Now What? Tips from the Facebook Guide for Marketers

    Last updated 3 years ago

    With over 600 Million users, Facebook is an incredibly important place for any business to establish a presence online. If you’re like many local businesses, you may realize the importance of having a presence on the site but aren’t sure what to do beyond that.

    This week, Facebook launched a guide to equip marketers with best practices. Here are a few highlights from this resource that local business owners can use to maximize their Facebook experience.

    1) Build Your Presence

    • Create a Facebook Page for your business. Rather than a personal profile, a Page allows you to establish a Facebook identity for your business. Make sure you have the correct kind of presence for your brand from the get-go, before you start building and promoting it.
    • If your business has a physical location, Link your Business Page with a Place Page to build a more robust presence on the platform.

    2) Engage With Fans

    • Relationships don’t happen overnight, so invest time in building relationships with consumers.
    • Create and share content to build a fanbase and engage with consumers.
    • Use Facebook Like Ads to help quickly grow your fan base.
    • Encourage engagement with your brand and create two-way conversations by sharing interactive content, asking questions, responding to fans, etc.
    • Reward and thank your current fanbase by running Deals and promotions specifically for your Facebook community.
    • Try posting at different times of day, like early in the morning or late in the evening, to drive more engagement from fans.

    3) Amplify Your Brand

    • Give people an excuse to interact with your brand on Facebook, because each time someone engages, their activity is published into the news feed. This creates word of mouth and can help you acquire more fans.
    • Use creative content that is engineered to be entertaining and shareable, like videos.
    • Make sure the Facebook Like button is on all your digital properties, creating more opportunities for fan activity to get pushed to news feeds.
    • You can also use Facebook Ads (which include the names of friends who have connected to your business) or Sponsored Stories (which help you increase the distribution of news feed stories about your business) to spread your brand even further.

    Other Tips and Best Practices

    • Be active, present, and consistent in your presence. Don’t just “set it and forget it.” Respond and engage with fans for an authentic presence.
    • Use Facebook Deals to help drive people to your store to boost offline purchases.
    • Gain business insights about your fans and consumers by examining tools and reports the site provides, such as demographic information available on Page Insights.
    • Use Facebook to gather information about your consumers to use for product and service ideas and research.
    • Listen to what consumers are saying about your business on Facebook so you can apply consumer feedback as business intelligence.

    Facebook Resources for Local Businesses

    Want More?

    If you’re excited about using Facebook for your local business but aren’t sure you have the time and tools to manage an active, consistent presence, learn more about how ReachCast can help you build your web presence, driving search discovery, social discovery and reputation management by contacting us. Take a video tour or call us at (972) 267-2222.

    About the Author
    Tiffany Monhollon writes about social media, marketing, and local business success as the lead blogger for ReachCast, a service that helps local business owners develop their web presence.

    YouTube Your Local Business: Why Online Video Matters

    Last updated 3 years ago

    Thanks to video site YouTube and the availability of video cameras like the Kodak Playsport and those now built into most digital cameras and smartphones, it’s incredibly easy for just about anyone to create and upload online videos in just a matter of minutes.

    Online videos you create for your business may not automatically go viral, but they can boost your discoverability on search engines and social media, while also driving consumer engagement, action – and even conversions.

    So, what makes online video engaging, and how has it enabled YouTube to transform the way you market your local business online?

    Why Video is Effective
    Video can make a digital interaction with your brand more engaging for online consumers than just text and images. That’s because video often adds a layer of authenticity to the subject – in this case, your business – showcasing the life of your brand. Plus, with video, there are many options for creating content that’s important to your target audience. People love to see videos that are entertaining, humorous, interesting, or just plain helpful, so by creating and sharing these types of videos, your customers and prospects can connect with your business on a more personal level, driving positive engagement with your brand.

    YouTube Can Boost Search & Drive Leads
    Perhaps the most powerful benefit of having videos on YouTube is the juice they give your search engine marketing efforts. Chances are, if you’ve conducted a search on Google, you’ve seen YouTube videos in your search results. That’s because YouTube is owned by Google, so its videos are given prime real estate on the Google results page. And, since Google dominates online search, with 65% of the market share, having a YouTube video can dramatically increase your chances of getting found by prospects searching online. 

    YouTube Drives Awareness
    YouTube can not only improve your organic traffic, but it can greatly improve awareness among your target consumers as well. YouTube gets a huge amount of traffic, even without Google’s help: if YouTube was a standalone search engine, it would be number two in terms of traffic, generating more searches than Yahoo! and accounting for 25% of total Google searches. With over 170 million Americans watching more than 30 billion videos per month, having a YouTube channel is a worthwhile way to increase brand awareness and exposure for any business.

    Making YouTube Work for Your Business
    If you’re focusing efforts on increasing organic traffic, it’s important to optimize your YouTube Videos for search. That means writing a descriptive title and tagging your video with your target keywords so it will index well and rank high on search engines. In addition, you can increase consumer interest and drive people to take action by posting videos to your website, blog, and  social media pages or integrating them into email marketing campaigns. For example, you can embed a YouTube video on your native website or blog, link to it in your email signature, and share it on your Facebook Page to drive engagement. Need some video ideas? Here are a few examples of videos our customers have created to promote their own local businesses.  

    How are you using YouTube to drive fan/customer acquisition and increase awareness for your business? What types of videos have you shared that get people to engage with your business and take action? 

    About the Author
    Tamara Farley helps equip small business owners with information about local online advertising, social media marketing, and more as a blogger for ReachCast and ReachLocal.

     

    Optimizing Google Places: How ReachCast Can Help Reviews

    Last updated 3 years ago

    Optimizing Google Places: How ReachCast Can Help Reviews

    For a local business, a critical component of a strong web presence is a claimed, optimized Google Places page. And reviews are a very important element of your Google Places page. But, did you know that the star rating and reviews Google Places shows for your business is not just from reviews posted directly to your Places Page? Google actually pulls in reviews for your business from a variety of sources.

    So, how does Google know where to find the reviews about your business online? A technology called Rich Snippets actually helps power this process.

    Here’s how Google describes Rich Snippets:

     “With rich snippets, webmasters with sites containing structured content—such as review sites or business listings—can label their content to make it clear that each labeled piece of text represents a certain type of data: for example, a restaurant name, an address, or a rating.”

    Essentially, that means that sites – like Yelp, CitySearch, and ReachCast – that contain information like reviews can use Rich Snippets to tell Google: “Hey, here’s a review about XYZ Business!” Sites that are using Rich Snippets are helping Google to best understand and display their information in search results and on Place Pages. It doesn’t happen overnight, but over time, this content can begin to appear in search results and Place Pages.

    With ReachCast, we have used Rich Snippets on our Cast pages to specifically highlight the reviews section. As more and more reviews have been posted, some of our clients’ Google Places Pages have begun to pull the reviews from their Cast Pages!

    So, what does this look like?

    In the example above, the Google Places Page for Montessori School at Starcreek has begun to pull reviews that are posted on the school’s cast page – montessorischooldfw.com, along with reviews from Yahoo, and, the Place Page also shows reviews from Google users.

    This is just one more way that the ReachCast team is helping local businesses with search discovery – and reputation management. We’re constantly finding ways to build and boost your web presence, taking care of the details so you don’t have to worry about them.

    Learn More
    If you’re interested in learning how you can use ReachCast to power your local business web presence, feel free to contact us to learn more! To learn more about ReachCast, check out this video tour or call us at (972) 267-2222.

    New to Twitter? Our Top Picks from the Twitter Glossary

    Last updated 3 years ago

    With all the focus on how social sites like Twitter are playing a vital role in breaking and spreading critical world news, people across the globe are signing up to see all the activity firsthand. In fact, did you know that in early 2011, there was an average of 460,000 new Twitter accounts created each day?

    If you’re new to the service, learning your way around can be challenging. There are many unspoken “rules of engagement” to learn, interesting traditions like Follow Friday, and countless terms to master. So, here’s a rundown of some of our favorite terms from the official Twitter glossary and how they’ll help you as you establish your presence on the site:


    Getting Started on Twitter

    Avatar: “The personal image uploaded to your Twitter profile in the Settings tab of your account.” Don’t make the newbie mistake of not uploading an account picture. Most people view accounts without an avatar as spam.

    Tweet: “A message posted via Twitter containing 140 characters or fewer.” Once you get your account set up, you’ll need to start posting content! Otherwise, why would anyone follow you?

    Follow: “To follow someone on Twitter means to subscribe to their Tweets or updates on the site.” If you don’t “get” Twitter, chances are, you need to follow more people! You get to cultivate your very own experience by selecting whose tweets you will see, plus, this helps you grow your network and encourages other users to follow you.

    Retweet: “To retweet, retweeting, retweeted. The act of forwarding another user's Tweet to all of your followers.” Retweets are a great way to share information, but they also can help you build relationships, as most users view retweets as a virtual pat on the back.

    Direct Message (DM): “Also called a DM and most recently called simply a "message," these Tweets are private between only the sender and recipient.” Using DMs can help you connect individually with other users, but use them sparingly, and avoid signing up for auto-DM services, as most people view these as unsolicited spam. Instead, use DMs like you would personal emails.

    Mention: Mentioning another user in your Tweet by including the @ sign followed directly by their username is called a ‘mention.’ Also refers to Tweets in which your username was included.” Most people check their mentions on a regular basis, so mentioning other users in your tweets helps create engagement and build relationships.

    Reply: “A Tweet posted in reply to another user's message, usually posted by clicking the "reply" button next to their Tweet in your timeline. Always begins with @username.” Closely related to mentions, replies are a way you can interact with users based on their tweets and are the foundation of conversations on the site.


    Getting More Out of Twitter

    Search: “A box on your Twitter homepage that allows you to search all public Tweets for keywords, usernames, hashtags, or subject.” Want to find something on Twitter? Search is a great tool to help you, and you can even use the Advanced Twitter Search to find results near you geographically, from specific people, or within a specific date range.

    Third Party Application: A third-party application is a product created by a company other than Twitter and used to access Tweets and other Twitter data.” There are countless tools and applications to help you maximize your Twitter experience.

    URL Shortener: “URL shorteners are used to turn long URLs into shorter URLs. Shortening services can be found online.” Links are one of the primary things shared on Twitter, and to avoid issues with the 140 character limit, a variety of link shortening tools can help you more easily share content on the site, and some even enable tracking and other helpful features.

    Hashtag: “The # symbol is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet.” You can put hashtags in your tweets to share your tweets in topics and trends or participate in Twitter chats by using hashtags. View the tweets categorized under a hashtag simply by clicking on the hyperlink or conducting a search.

    FF: #FF stands for ‘Follow Friday.’ Twitter users often suggest who others should follow on Fridays by tweeting with the hashtag #FF.”  Recommending people on #FF is another great way to give a virtual "high five" to your favorite followers and can help generate engagement.


    Your Twitter Security

    Geolocation / Geotagging: “The use of location data in Tweets to tell us where you are in real time.” This is an opt-in feature you can enable to add location information to your Tweets, but sharing location information is a safety and privacy concern for some. So think carefully about whether you want to share location information online, and if so, when and how you’ll do it.

    Phishing: “Tricking a user to give up their username and password. This can happen by sending the user to fake login page, a page promising to get you more followers, or just simply asking for the username and password via a DM or email.” If you are concern your account has been phished, there are some steps you can take, like changing your password and removing apps.

    Hacking: “Gaining unauthorized access to an account via phishing, password guessing, or session stealing. Usually this is followed by unauthorized posts from the account.” It’s important to make sure you are protecting yourself from scams by knowing the basics about account security and creating secure passwords.

    OAuth: “A method to allow a user to grant a 3rd party access to their account without giving up their password.” This is the most secure way to connect to Twitter apps, because you’re not sharing your password information with them directly.


    Get Started!
    So, there you have it! A quick rundown of some of the terms you need to know about the “twittersphere.” Check out the full Twitter glossary for more terms, and happy tweeting!

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    About the Author
    Tiffany Monhollon writes about social media, marketing, and local business success as the lead blogger for ReachCast, a service that helps local business owners develop their web presence.

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