Google Pigeon Update

What to Make of the Recent Google Pigeon Update for Local

Local search had been spared much volatility since the Hummingbird update last fall, but that’s all changed now with the Pigeon update.

The stated aim of this update is to more closely tie local results with what the standard web ranking signals are now. This is presumably done to make rankings more consistent, and increase the quality of the results. While it’s not clear whether it will succeed in those aims, there are several ramifications that are clear, and the effects they are having is very real for some local businesses.

Let’s have a quick look at what the first impressions of this Pigeon are, and how it is impacting local search results.

3 Ways Pigeon is affecting local search

  • This is a win for the brand directories – If you happen to be a large brand directory such as Yelp, TripAdvisor or Yellowpages.com, you are enjoying the ride. These sites are seeing as much as a 10 percent rise in traffic and rankings, often appearing multiple times for a local search query.
  • A far smaller Google Map presence – The area covered in a Google Map listing for local has shrunk considerably, giving fewer businesses a shot at being included, and thus opening up more room for more directory results. It also makes it harder for businesses located in the suburbs to find their way in there as well.
  • Down with the 7 pack – The 7-pack of local results has vanished for most search terms, only appearing for the most popular queries. Instead they have been replaced with a 3-pack of results or sometimes none at all. This results in a traffic loss for sites no longer in the 7-pack of around 16 percent a month! That ought to get your attention.

The Pigeon update still has a lot of shaking out to do, and there could be more changes to come, as there always are with this kind of algorithm shift. The best thing local site owners can do at this point is make sure they are well-optimized in the local directory results, as that may be all you get for a while.

Google Hangouts

See How You Can Use Google Hangouts in Your Small Business

Google Hangouts were made to take advantage of the best of both video and social media, by creating a platform where you and your audience can interact and educate. Unlike most traditional webinar platforms it has the advantage of being near immediate, very interactive, widely accessible and even better free.

Not only that, they’re free of charge. This makes it easy to decide to use Hangouts at least in part for your business, though the question remains, how? What ways are there to best incorporate this platform into my marketing mix quickly and easily?

If you haven’t yet thought about using Google Hangouts for your business, here’s 3 reasons why you need to.

3 Uses of Google Hangouts in your Business

Great solution for webinars – Small businesses often can’t afford the expense of using services like GoToWebinar, which can run you over of $500 a month if you have sizeable audiences. Hangouts are free, drop-dead easy to start, and don’t require an elaborate tech setup. What’s more, Google will record it all for you and send it to your YouTube account when you’re done. Hangouts are an effortless way to hold a “webinar” without the expense and expertise required of other platforms.

Showcase your business – Hangouts are a very simple way to get the word out about your business, showcase products and services, and even conduct a product launch. Introducing your business to a new market segment, neighborhood or audience is also a terrific use of the platform. The viral aspect to using a Hangout in association with your social media channels, especially Google+ is a great way to extend far beyond your own reach.

Customer engagement and service – The best feature of Google Hangouts as it applies to a small business is the ability to connect with your audience in a very personal hands-on fashion that lends itself greatly to your efforts to brand yourself in your market as a leader. In addition, using a Hangout as a customer service tool, like holding a tutorial on how to best use one of your products, goes a long way toward establishing good will and social proof for your business.

Best Practice For Givaway

Current Best Practices When It Comes to Creating a Freebie for Giveaway

These days it’s not enough any more to have people to opt-in to your email list merely by virtue of your invitation. You have to be able to give them something of value as an enticement to sign up if you want to reach good numbers.

What a lot of people do, unknowingly to their detriment, is to give someone a rehashed, PLR (private label rights) ebook and believe that will do the trick.

The problem with this though is that not only is this content not unique to your business, it’s likely outdated information, and almost certainly not the prime focus of your business. So let’s take a look at how you can create a freebie that’s of real value not only to you, but the person who you’re asking to opt-in.

5 Ways to create unique freebie that gets the opt-in

  1. Make a video – We live in a video age, and using this medium has many advantages for you. First of all, it is a excellent introduction to you and your business, can be specifically targeted to the audience you wish to attract, and is imminently sharable.
  2. Create a Podcast – A lot of people have gotten into the practice of listening to podcasts as they drive, walk or other activity not suited to viewing. Moreover, it is very easy to do, and extremely portable.
  3. Make a short report or Ebook – Not ALL ebooks are bad; only the ones not unique or specific to your audience and business. However create something original, valuable and timely and you’ll receive the opt-in and a bunch of shares to boot!
  4. Create an E-Course – If you are able to package together enough content to deliver a mini e-course, you’ll be able to presell your audience further down your marketing funnel easily.
  5. Hold a Webinar – One of the best ways to get a boatload of opt-ins today is by conducting a content based webinar. This, like a video, introduces you and your business, but presells them and gets the opt-in by virtue of the webinar platform. Win-win all around!

How to Use Your Content to Drive More Conversions

Quite often content marketing and conversion optimization don’t even reside in the same paragraph, much less sentence, in terms of how we think of making it all work together.

In reality, you have to both consider CRO (conversion rate optimization) as it pertains to your content, and your content as to how it works with conversions. For best results we need to meld the two into one when putting our content out there.

Let’s take a look at 5 ways we can use our content for more conversions

Use easy to follow navigation – Enabling your page visitors to go where they (and you!) want to is a cornerstone. Use one clearly defined navigation bar, and augment this with text links within your content pointing to other pages or resources you’d like to show.

Use a lot of imagery – These days we are a visual bunch, and there has never been a better time to use relevant images and videos in your marketing. This can only increase over the next few years so it’s time to surrender, Dorothy!

Optimize for mobile – With more than half of all web access and search now coming through a mobile device of some kind, if you’re not optimized for mobile you are undoubtedly losing out.

Offer up value – There is no arguing that terrific content is much more likely to lead to more sales, shares and actions. Try to make your content not only unique, but valuable.

Create killer calls to action – Optimize your calls to action with some thought. Test the various elements just like you would content, and make every effort to make your CTA stick out. Using colors that stand out yet are complimentary is important here, while staying within the design elements of your page.

The best way to proceed is to make sure that when your content is being put together, that conversion is a part of the thought process. Thinking about it then will lead to more conversions later on!

Color In Web Design

When and How to Use the Psychology of Color in Your Marketing

Color has a tremendous effect on the behaviors of your webpage visitors, and we need to take a look at how we can better use this in our marketing. Rather than think of it as some sort of NLP, or mumbo-jumbo, we should take a good look at the data available and then begin to test what this means for our particular audience.

The ability to evoke responses based on the colors we choose for our marketing is a vastly underused tool. There’s a lot of data to dig through, and lots of choices to make regarding color for sites, logos, marketing materials and more.

So what is the psychology of color?

It starts off with a surprising truism: the favorite color for both men and women is blue. That’s where the similarities end, however. Some of the data means multiple things. For instance, green could mean money, the environment, and calm to different people. Reds can denote stop, excitement and boldness, depending on whom you’re talking to. Brown could mean ruggedness, or suggest a warmth. Women love purple, men detest it. Are you beginning to see the challenge here?

So how can you use this information in your marketing?

The most effective way to succeed with this is by testing for the best responses in your audience. Each of us have different demographics we work within, and what works for one will not suit all others.

  • The starting point is figuring out who your audience is. Is your audience mostly male, female, young or old? The colors are very different, and speak different things to each set of people.
  • Know which parts of your pages are the most significant. For instance, any calls to action on your pages should stand out with a bolder, while at the same time complimentary, color.
  • Think of the overall feeling you are attempting to convey, and test accordingly. Color evokes mood, and you’ll need to consider this when deciding exactly what you’re trying to say with color.
  • Make your colors consistent, so as to keep your message consistent as well. Also, try to keep any hyperlinks blue if at all possible, as this has been the link color since the Web was born, and there’s a case for familiarity.

Above all, take time to test colors that work best for your distinct audience, as it will be quite different, even from your competition.

Content Marketing

Make Your Content Marketing Work for You!

Content marketing is all the rage these days, and for good reason. Done correctly, it can deliver large amounts of links, traffic and the resulting authority and rankings that go together with those. Even so many small businesses find themselves in the unenviable position of having an abundance of great ways to market, and not nearly enough time or resources to make them happen.

In order to steer clear of that dread prospect, let’s check out five ways you can make your content marketing deliver what you’re looking for.

Five tips for content marketing in your small business

Here are five essential elements for having your content marketing deliver on all of the promises it contains for your small business.

Know your strategy – Create a working plan that takes into account all of the various forms your content marketing will take. This can mean textual content, as in blog posts, ebooks and more. Video, infographics, podcasts and other forms could even be part of your strategy. Know your goals and time frames for this plan and make this a flexible strategy, able to adjust as necessity and data requires.

Form your budget – This type of marketing will cost real money. Make sure you have accounted for the costs of hours spent, and outsourcing before starting.

Delegate the work – Someone needs to carry this out, and unless you already have this talent on staff, you need to find the writers, videographers and graphics people necessary to complete your plan. Be sure to allow enough time for this, as there will be missteps as you go along.

Set up tracking – It’s very important to make sure to set up tracking so you know what is working and what isn’t. In most cases, Google Analytics is fine for this purpose, though there are better paid resources available.

Do it again – Content marketing is not a one off proposal. To keep up high rankings, authority and traffic, a constant flow of content is needed through your pipeline. After a little while, you will be able to mine the data you are receiving from your efforts, and tailor your content for greater results!

Automate Your Posts

Ever thought of automating your blog post promotion?

You’ve put together great content, but yet you seem to be having difficulty getting people to come view it. This is a not uncommon problem, especially for those of us that are creative types first and marketers second. There are ways you can set up a semi-automated flow that will get your work out there, and it’ll only need a bit of setup to get started. Let’s see what’s possible…

5 Tips for automating your blog post promotion

Employ Buffer for social media – Buffer can be very useful when you want to post to your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ pages. There are a ton of other features that help you see how this is working, and is very easy to set up.

Get your blog posts syndicated – There are oodles of places where you can syndicate your best content to have it seen by huge audiences across the Web. Sites like AllTop, Storify, Technorati and BlogEngage are a few of the best, but you will discover literally dozens. You can realize a ton of visitors with this.

Setup an IFTTT recipe on Reddit – Using an IFTTT recipe (short for “If This Then That”) you can automate your blog posts to show up on the largest traffic site among the social bookmarking crowd.

Look into Snap – Snap (stands for Social Network Auto Poster) is a free WordPress plugin that enables you to share your blog posts in an automated manner to some of the social networks that are notoriously hard to setup automation, like StumbleUpon.

Facebook Sponsored Stories – This one may cost you a few shekels, but it can be worth it. Using the Facebook Power Editor you can make it work out so your Sponsored story (your blog post) is shown only in the News Feed, and only to the targeted audiences you’ve set up. Awesome!

Taking advantage of these methods will get your blog post content off to a rip-roaring start, and possibly help them to find viral legs of their own. Start a campaign like this with your very next post.

Google Plus

How to Get the Most from Your Google+ Pages

It has taken a while for Google+ to gain its footing, now that is has, watch out! The number of registered monthly users has grown into a not so insignificant 540 million, and the +1 button is being clicked more than 5 billion times a day! With all this action, it’s time to take a good look at how you can utilize this for your small business.

Seeing as how Google is much more likely to rank its own properties well, (see YouTube) finding the time and care to optimize your Google+ pages can pay off handsomely in numerous ways. Let’s check out just how you would go about that!

Getting the most from your Google+ Page

Check out these 5 ways you can use your Google+ page for better search results and direct traffic.

  • Complete your Google+ Profile – Making sure that you fill in all the fields in your Google+ profiler goes a long way toward helping your Page become found in search as well as in Google+. Make it an exercise in promoting your business in the most positive way.
  • Utilize a Google+ Page – Not only will this aid in helping you get found in search, the targeted messaging features combined with the opportunities to brand yourself and your business are vital.
  • Make use of the Google +1 button – Getting your readers into the habit of clicking this leads to more visitors, and a far greater reach than you could produce on your own. This gooses search rankings and your authorship.
  • Optimize your Title and URLs – Make sure to use the form in your title tag: Your Site Name – Google+. This will help in the search results. Also, the conventional (old) Google+ URL looked something like this: https://plus.google.com/1234567892022332. Instead, opt to use the new URL, which will append your company name instead of the numbers.
  • Take advantage of the links! – Links in your introduction and also links to other websites are dofollow. Use this!

A well-done Google+ page can bring your site authority, along with abundant direct traffic. If you haven’t yet done this, it’s high time to include Google+ in your marketing strategy!

Shopping Cart Abandonment

Three Tips to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment

What happens 67.89% of the time a person hits your shopping cart? They leave without purchasing, that’s what!

Over two-thirds of your prospective sales simply pull the virtual equivalent of setting their purchase on the checkout desk and walking out. Why do so many decide on this flight from purchase?

Reasons given for shopping cart abandonment

In a study done by Statista, there are a number of reasons for this (we think) aberrant behavior. Here are just a few.

  • Surprise costs at checkout (think shipping)
  • They found a lower price somewhere else
  • They decided your it’s too pricy
  • Your form is interminable
  • They question your site security
  • You ask for way too much information

Creating barriers to purchase isn’t exactly what you’d hoped to accomplish when you set up your shopping cart, but here you are! Here’s three steps you can take that can help shrink your exit rates and pile more revenues into your account.

Make your pricing work for customers – According to OneUpWeb, 59 percent of customers expect to see the total cost, and this includes shipping, before they get to your checkout page. That leaves the ball in your court to disclose as much as possible. This also means thinking about your shipping costs. If you aren’t able to offer free shipping, think about reducing or eliminating these costs after a certain threshold.

Don’t make the process interminable – You’ve experienced this one yourself. The form goes on and on, requesting all manner of information, nearly all of it unrelated to the purchase. This is a major reason people bolt from your cart. If the info isn’t directly relevant to the purchase, don’t include it!

Mind your language – Test the words you use on your buttons and other calls to action. Make certain they are working for you. The common labels used, such as apply, go, proceed, buy now, continue or back, do these pertain to your particular product or action? Don’t be deceived into thinking that these are of little importance, as a few percentage point increase can be a quite substantial sum! Test!

Fairly often the last thing we think to optimize is our shopping carts. I propose that it needs to be a lot higher on your list of things to do!