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If you’re a local business, optimize for the Local Map Pack

If you’re a local business, optimize for the Local Map Pack

You’ll be as familiar with the “Local Pack” as you are with the featured snippet, if not more. The Local Pack feature shows Google Maps results, reviews, open hours, and a physical address.

The local pack changes based on your searchers’ location.

For instance, here’s how the SERP page appears for the search “Top restaurants in Vancouver:”

How to optimize your website for the Local Pack SERP feature:

  • Make sure your website is optimized for mobile, as many people use the Local Pack to navigate to your website while on the go.

Make sure your website is optimized for Local SEO.

  • Make sure you’ve updated and maintain your Google My Business Profile
  • Ensure you’ve added your website to TripAdvisor, Yelp, YP.com, etc.
  • Add schema markup to your website’s backend (allowing Google to see your whole website)

Note: Optimizing your website for the “local pack” SERP feature is a good idea for sales as well.

Typing “men’s jackets” into Google results in a map and links for where to buy men’s jackets before it provides images or links to do so. Searchers don’t need to express buying intent for your business to appear in the local pack.

To Wrap Up

I hope most of these strategies will help you get the amount of traffic you want. Once you have everything set up, they are easy to implement but the results they can bring will pleasantly surprise you. And remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

A Complete Guide to Google Maps Marketing

A Complete Guide to Google Maps Marketing

Ensuring that your business shows up in Google Maps is paramount to long-term viability.

Prospective customers are often skeptical of businesses with little or no online presence.

Fortunately, Google Maps provide one of the easiest and fastest ways to get online.

Business owners now have an opportunity to market their goods and services in real-time to anyone with a mobile device.

What Is Google Maps Marketing?

Google Maps marketing is simply the optimization of your business presence on Google Maps.

The goal is simple: by ranking higher in search, you have an opportunity to significantly increase your business.

The better your profile optimization, the better your chances are for showing up in a Google Maps search for your business type in your area.

Why Is Google Maps Marketing So Important?

Google handles about 3.5 billion searches per day and accounts for nearly 88% of all mobile searches.

Local Google searches also directly translate into sales with 76% of those searching for local products visiting a store within the day.

Google Maps marketing can impact the way Google views your business and how or if it appears in organic search in what is known as the local 3-pack.

A Complete Guide to Google Maps Marketing

Google Map Results (local 3-pack) appear at the top of the page in this Google Search.

Google Maps can channel thousands of potential customers toward your business.

Unless your business ranks in the 3-pack, your chance of being found is exponentially lower.

That is why Google Maps Marketing is generally considered the most important facet of local SEO work.

Setting up & Optimizing Your Google My Business (GMB) Listing

Creating a Google My Business (GMB) listing is totally free.

This is because it technically isn’t an advertisement at all – you are simply letting Google know that your business exists.

That said, the end goal is to get your business to rank higher than your competitors.

Setting Up Google My Business

To set up your Google My Business listing:

  • Sign in to Google and go to https://www.google.com/business/
  • Then locate or create a listing for your business. Sometimes other factors or inputs have led to an impromptu assumption listing about your business. Make sure you claim and correct it if that happened.
  • Fill out all of the information to the best of your ability.
  • Make sure to select the correct category and to add a contact.
  • Verify your account. This can be done with Google via phone, email, or traditional mail.
  • Add quality photos.
  • Double-check all of your information.

Read this guide to learn how to completely optimize your GMB listing.

How to Rank Better in Google Maps

Google Maps take into account a number of factors when it decides how to rank results.

The geographic distance from the person conducting the search and the business category relevant to their search are the most obvious.

Perhaps more important is how complete and accurate your GMB listing is. This could be the tie-breaker among you and your competitors in determining who appears in the search.

Finally, positive sentiment (good reviews) can be a deciding factor.

Getting Good Reviews

Many companies have developed systems around cultivating positive reviews.

Some will ask customers directly, at the conclusion of a transaction, to give them a review.

Other businesses put a request for a review prominently, at checkout. Some even have used QR codes.

One effective method is to leave a review request, on a business card, attached to a “Thank You” memento. Something as simple as a complimentary air freshener can go a long way.

In all of your promotional materials, it’s good business practice to provide a link for customers to leave a Google review.

What About Bad Reviews?

Handle bad reviews calmly. Work hard to overcome them with more good reviews.

When you get a bad review, apologize, accept responsibility and offer to make it right; even if it wasn’t your fault.

It’s a losing proposition to get defensive or aggressive in your reply.

A bad review give you the chance to demonstrate your professionalism, helping to mitigate any potential damage.

Posting on Google as Your Business

This is an underused feature.

Business owners can “publish … offers, events, products, and services directly to Google Search and maps.”

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This can be another effective way to stand apart from your competitors.

Google Maps Optimization Checklist

To give your business a better chance of showing up in Google Maps for relevant searches, just follow the checklist below.

  • Claim or create a listing for your business.
  • Fill out all of the information:
    • Correct service area and address.
    • Business hours / workdays.
    • Website / URL for them to make a purchase.
    • List your specific offerings. Clearly and simply. Try to add keywords in naturally when possible.
  • Pick the most relevant and common categories for your business.
  • Ensure information is consistent across the web.
  • Add high-quality photos.
  • Double-check all of your information.
  • Cultivate good reviews.
  • Talk about your business in Google My Business.
  • List your business in other directories.
  • Use analytics to adapt your strategies.

Paid Advertising & Local Search Ads

Google gives you the tools to target your local area with local search ads.

This is paid advertising that can help you appear at the top of the Google search page or Map App when someone searches for your relevant services.

If you are struggling to bring in customers and can’t wait for your organic efforts to pay off, you may want to consider paid advertising.

Many businesses have had great success in employing local search ads on Google. It can be the perfect complement to organic marketing efforts.

Tracking Your Google Maps Marketing Performance

Tracking your performance on Google Maps is done via analytics offered with your Google My Business account.

This is necessary for evaluating your current web presence and optimizing it, moving forward

Following are the key metrics you should pay close attention to:

The Google Services That Customers Use to Find Your Business

An important metric to pay attention to is the type of searches leading to your website.

This will let you know the volume of users that are searching for you by name, vs those discovering you via the keywords relevant to your brand, location, and industry.

This may help you gauge the percentage of new versus repeat customers coming to your site via Google.

Where Customers View Your Business on Google

This section will let you know the frequency that you are being found on general search vs map listings.

Taken in conjunction with the first metric you can gauge the general success of your Google Map Listings in attracting new customers.

As you make changes, monitor these stats to ensure you are making the right decisions and moving in a positive direction.

A Complete Guide to Google Maps Marketing

Listing Visitor Action Taken

“Customer actions” will show you what actions people are taking in response to your listing.

You will discover if your listing is helping people find your location, your website, or leading to some form of contact.

This is perhaps the most important metric as you embark on optimizing your listing.

Working to improve customer engagements and interactions is your best path to success.

A Complete Guide to Google Maps Marketing

Where Customers Are Coming From

“Directions requests” shows where customers are requesting directions to your business from.

With this information, you can begin to localize and better target your other marketing ventures as well as perhaps adjust your target keywords.

The Performance of Your Photos

Photo views and Photo quantity” shows how your photos are performing as compared to competing businesses.

It also shows the mix of photos coming from you versus those posted by your customers.

Humans react positively to appealing visuals, so you should take the time to capture the best possible photos of your business.

A Complete Guide to Google Maps Marketing

The Final Takeaway

While getting the basics right is simple enough, fine-tuning will set you apart from the competition.

Pay attention to your analytics.

The best way to market yourself across all Google apps is to:

  • Keep your information up to date.
  • Keep your social proof (customer reviews) positive.
  • Make certain that your visual presentation is always top-notch.

More Resources:


Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, October 2019

HAVE YOU CHECKED THE AUTOMATED ADS TOOL ON FACEBOOK YET?

HAVE YOU CHECKED THE AUTOMATED ADS TOOL ON FACEBOOK YET?

A new Automated Ads tool was announced by Facebook recently. The social networking site claims it to be of great help in creating result driven ads.

The Tool Will Have Following Features:

  • Suggestions to create up to 6 different versions of your ad.
    • Call-to-action buttons
    • Text
    • Other creative details

(Facebook will show the best-performing version, once the ad is active)

  • Tailored audience recommendations based on the information available on your page.
  • Budget recommendations that are likely to generate results as per your goals.

(Your own budget can also be shared to determine the estimated results)

Receive timely notifications to help you understand how your ads are performing and how you can improve them.

Additionally, Facebook has expanded its free business tools to allow appointment booking and managing.

You can also find 3 new features added to their video editing tools…

  • Automatic Cropping
  • Video Trimming
  • Image & Text Overlays

Have a look at the announcement page that provides complete details and video guides on how these tools can be used.

You Measure SEO success by

You Measure SEO success by

Measuring SEO Success

If you measure SEO success by the progress on a to-do list, you are doing it wrong.

At the end of the day, we want to be judged by one thing – the results we provide.

It helps if everyone agrees on what success looks like in the beginning.

There are no guarantees in SEO, but everyone can agree to goals.

As long as those goals are achieved using Google’s guidance on good techniques, clients and bosses need to give the SEO provider enough rope to either climb to new heights or hang themselves.

I tell every prospect, if we can’t show you at least a 3x return on your SEO investment in 6 months, you should fire us.

The goal may be 3x return – or it may be a percentage increase in email subscriptions. The bottom line is the bottom line.

You need to know what success looks like. Then either help your SEO person/team, if you are able, or get out of the way.

Sure, it’s fine to send an article over asking what your SEO manager thinks if you are curious.

I don’t know an SEO professional worth their salt who doesn’t love to talk about the latest and greatest developments in the algorithm.

But if you are constantly questioning whether your SEO is doing a good enough job, you either need to re-evaluate your goals or fire the SEO.

In the end, you’ll both be happier.

Tony Wright

Tony Wright
CEO at WrightIMC via Search Engine Journal

 / March 25, 2019

Daily Search Forum Recap: April 8, 2019

Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.
Search Engine Roundtable Stories:
Google Search Console Performance Report Discover Feed DataGoogle Discover, formerly the Google feed, is a great source of traffic for many web sites. But there is no real good way to see in Google Search Console or Google Analytics how people are finding your web site via Google Discover. Well, that looks like it may change soon.
Google Tests More Graphical Google My Business DashboardGoogle is experimenting with a new dashboard for the Google My Business section. The new dashboard shows larger cover images and photos that you can change for your business.
Google Algorithm Update Tools Going Off – Is It A False Alarm?The automated tracking tools that look for Google search algorithm updates and large ranking changes are going wild over the weekend. I personally think it may be a false alarm. Why? Well, with Google dropping tons of pages from their index by accident, it can cause massive fluctuations in the search results and thus set off these tools.
Google Search Console Performance Report Gets Android App FilterI was checking stuff in Google Search Console and I see a filter in the search appearance filter within the performance report for Android apps. It seems it is showing data from March 29th. I’ve never seen that filter there before but it seems to be there now.
Google Still Working On Reindexing Pages That Dropped Out Of The Index From ThursdayOn Friday we reported on an issue where SEOs began noticing that Google was removing tons of pages from their index. It seemed to have started on Thursday but Google did not confirm the issue until Saturday morning. The issue is now into day four or so and it is not yet fully resolved.
Google Expands Audience Reviews To MusicWe have seen audience reviews in the Google search results panel for TV and movies but now Google is expanding it to music. Or maybe Google had it for music for some time but we haven’t seen examples of it yet.
Google Impact Challenge DancersLooks like some of the Googlers in the Dublin office had a Google Impact Challenge event, where it appears Googlers put on shows from singing to dancing. Here are some I found on Instagram from the n
Other Great Search Forum Threads:
Search Engine Land Stories:
Other Great Search Stories:
Analytics
Industry & Business
Links & Promotion Building
Local & Maps
Mobile & Voice
SEO
PPC

Marketing Tips

Google is Fixing a Technical Issue Causing Pages to be Deindexed by @MattGSouthern

Google is Fixing a Technical Issue Causing Pages to be Deindexed by @MattGSouthern

Google is working on fixing a widespread technical issue that has led to web pages getting removed from Google’s index.
Webmasters and SEOs have been affected by this issue since this past Thursday. Google didn’t officially acknowledge there was an issue until Saturday.
On Saturday, Google’s John Mueller incorrectly reported that the problem was fixed:

Sorry — We had a technical issue on our side for a while there — this should be resolved in the meantime, and the affected URLs reprocessed. It’s good to see that the Inspect URL tool is also useful for these kinds of cases though!
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) April 6, 2019

A day later, on Sunday, Danny Sullivan published a follow-up tweet via the Search Liaison account.
It turns out that the indexing issues are mostly fixed, and are on the way to becoming fully resolved.

We’re aware of indexing issues that impacted some sites beginning on Friday. We believe the issues are mostly resolved and don’t require any special efforts on the part of site owners. We’ll provide another update when the issues are considered fully resolved.
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) April 7, 2019

Also, as stated in the tweet, there’s nothing site owners need to do to get the issue resolved. The problem is all on Google’s end.
With that said, however, if there are a few high-value pages that you absolutely need indexed again ASAP you can always use the Inspect URL tool.
Using the Inspect URL tool, site owners can call on Google to recrawl and reprocess specific pages. The caveat is it can only process one URL at a time.
So the Inspect URL tool is not an ideal solution for getting a large number of pages back in Google’s search index, but it’s a decent option for a handful of pages.
Mueller adds that even when the issue is fully resolved, not every URL on every site will be reindexed.

One thing to add here – we don’t index all URLs on the web, so even once it’s reprocessed here, it would be normal that not every URL on every site is indexed. Awesome sites with minimal duplication help us recognize the value of indexing more of your pages.
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) April 7, 2019

Lastly, Mueller says things will eventually “settle back like before,” which is certainly good news for those who are worried about rankings being affected by this issue.

One thing to add here – we don’t index all URLs on the web, so even once it’s reprocessed here, it would be normal that not every URL on every site is indexed. Awesome sites with minimal duplication help us recognize the value of indexing more of your pages.
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) April 7, 2019

Google has thus far not provided any specific details regarding what caused the error in the first place.

Marketing Tips

New Chrome Feature May Hurt Publisher Revenues by @martinibuster

Google informally announced a new feature coming to Chrome. It will allow lazy-loading images and iframes with an HTML attribute, no JavaScript required. It will improve the user experience, which is good for publishers and site visitors. But there is also a potential negative impact to ad revenues.
What is the Loading Attribute?
Native lazy-loading is a way to stop the loading of an image or iframe until the user scrolls close to them without using JavaScript. A publisher can enable this feature by the use of an HTML attribute to the “image” and “iframe” elements.
HTML Elements and Attributes
HTML element are the major components of a web page, like the image, a paragraph, and a link. That’s analogous to what an engine, a tire and a window is to a car.
An attribute are things that add more meaning to or modify those elements. Continuing with the car analogy, this could be comparable to the color of a fender, size of an engine, the air pressure specs of a tire.
The new “loading” attribute will provide a signal to browsers that an image or iframe is not to be loaded until the user scrolls close to the image or iframe. That makes the web page appear to load faster for the user. This will be especially useful for users on mobile devices.
How Does Native LazyLoad Work?
The loading attribute is a simple attribute that can be added to the image or iframe elements. A web browser will not download an image or iframe that has the loading attribute until the user scrolls near to it.
Here is the example for lazy loading an image that was given in the informal announcement:

<img src=”celebration.jpg” loading=”lazy” alt=”…” />

This is an example of the loading element in use for a video that is contained within an iframe:

It’s easy to implement. Just add loading=”lazy” to the code and you’re done.
It will be even easier in WordPress should a plugin be created to add it to the image attachment screen. The option to add the loading attribute could be included as part of inserting an image.
When Will Chrome Feature the Loading Attribute?
A Google Chrome engineer informally announced that this feature may be arriving in Chrome 75. Chrome 75 is tentatively scheduled to be released on June 4, 2019.

Loading Attribute has Compatibility Issues
Search marketing expert Edward Lewis has been involved with web development and search marketing since around 1995.  He’s also a web standards expert whose opinion I have great respect for. So I asked him for his thoughts on the loading attribute.
He pointed out that there were serious compatibility issues with the printing function for printing out web pages.

“I work with a lot of HTML documents that are saved and/or printed. We would have to add logic to extend the functionality of the loading=”lazy” attribute so those Save/Print functions would work properly.”

Edward is right. The documentation on the loading attribute standard states:

“Compatibility with features that expect the whole page to be loadedChrome features such as “Print” and “Save Page As” currently expect all elements on the page to be loaded before printing or saving the page. One way to mitigate this issue would be to automatically load in any deferred elements on the page when “Print” or “Save Page As” are clicked, then wait for everything to load before continuing, but that could introduce user-noticeable delay which might require some UX changes with those features.”

On whether this is a good way to handle lazy loading, Edward offered:

“I believe this is best handled via JavaScript. Adding another attribute to the images just increases the chances of error and now requires designers to make changes.”

Loading Attribute May Help Publishers
Anything that makes a web page download faster and improves the user experience is good for web publishers. It’s well known that a fast user experience correlates with more sales and conversions, including advertising revenues.
In Google’s recently released Mobile Speed Playbook, Google stated that a one second delay could negatively impact conversions on mobile devices by up to 20%.

According to Google, “…a one-second delay inmobile load times can impact conversion rates by up to 20%”
Loading Attribute Could Negatively Affect Ad Revenues
There is a potential for this to negatively affect publisher revenues. For example, if advertisers begin to use the loading attributes on their iframes, a publisher will not be paid for displaying the advertisement until the user scrolls to the advertisement.
Advertisers currently pay for advertising when the advertisement loads on the page, regardless of whether or not the user sees the ad or not.
Chrome for Android may also choose not to load an advertisement that is in an iframe.
The details are unclear at this time, but the official documentation states that when the attribute is unset or when the “data saver” feature is turned on, that Google itself will lazy load images and iframes, even if there is no loading attribute assigned to the images and iframes.
Documentation Warns About Revenue Loss
The documentation linked to by the Google engineer warns that there may be a negative impact to publisher advertising revenue:

Compatibility risksCounting impressionsAd networks that currently record an impression every time the ad is loaded instead of every time the user actually sees the ad (e.g. using the visibility API) could see a change in their metrics, mainly because LazyFrames could defer ads that would have otherwise been loaded in but never seen by the user. This could also affect the revenue of site owners that use these ads as well. Note that the distance-from-viewport threshold will be tuned such that a deferred frame will typically be loaded in by the time the user scrolls to it.

That same document states the following about automatically not loading advertising that are in iframes: 

“On Android Chrome with Data saver turned on, elements with loading=”auto” or unset will also be lazily loaded if Chrome determines them to be good candidates for lazy loading (according to heuristics). Setting loading=”eager” on the image or iframe element will still prevent it from being lazily loaded though.”

Firefox is also developing the addition of the loading element for a future version of their browser. In a discussion about this feature, someone noted how this could negatively affect publisher revenues:

“Has anyone thought about the privacy implications of this yet, especially for e.g. 3rd party content? Or the negative economic impact for webmasters in the case of ads (e.g. being marked as a non-load while the page was loaded). I mean, it’s cool if you can save a few KB of bandwidth, but I see plenty of potential abuse here too.”

Google engineer Addy Osmani tweeted that he hopes for an end to advertisers being paid for ads that were loaded but not seen:

“The third-party embeds discussion will be interesting e.g we’ve seen a very small % of sites adopt JS-based lazy-loading for their ads/embeds over the years. Pushback has been “but marketing says we still get paid for those offscreen views”. Hoping some of those practices change.”

The Impact on Advertiser Revenue is Difficult to Estimate
Even Google’s engineer has no idea how all this is going to play out for publishers who rely on advertising revenue, according to this tweet:

“I’m curious to see if this encourages more lazy-loading of offscreen video players, embeds & ads.”

A web developer responded by acknowledging the negative impact to publishers:

“…there’s also a lot to consider for traditional publisher revenue models and of potential impact to revenue.”

Will Lazy Load Attribute Negatively Affect Ad Revenues?
At this point it is unknown. It depends on how Chrome and Firefox handle images and iframes that do not have the loading attribute while in “data saver” mode.
If advertisers and advertising brokers begin to add the loading attribute to their iframes, then yes, this will have a negative impact on publisher advertiser revenue.
On the other hand, a better user experience will benefit publishers as more users will stay on a page that loads faster, increasing the amount of people that see the ads (when they load).
Read the unofficial announcement by Google engineer Addy Osmani.
Read Addy Osman’s Twitter announcement.
Read the official Chrome overview.
Read the “explainer” of the loading attribute.
Addy Osmani’s LinkedIn page.
Images by Shutterstock, Modified by AuthorScreenshots by Author, Modified by Author

Marketing Tips

Google Search Console Performance Report Discover Feed Data

Google Discover, formerly the Google feed, is a great source of traffic for many web sites. But there is no real good way to see in Google Search Console or Google Analytics how people are finding your web site via Google Discover. Well, that looks like it may change soon.
Eoghan O’Sullivan posted on Twitter that spotted a note in the Google Search Console performance report that says “Discover data : started accumulating Discover performance data.” The learn more link goes to a page that 404s over here.
Here is his screen shot:

I am personally not seeing this yet – nor is any of the documentation showing this. But this would be a huge benefit to have and I am excited to see some people are now seeing this filter in the performance report within Google Search Console.
Forum discussion at Twitter.

Marketing Tips

Google Tests More Graphical Google My Business Dashboard

Google is experimenting with a new dashboard for the Google My Business section. The new dashboard shows larger cover images and photos that you can change for your business.
Andy Simpson spotted this change and posted the following screen shot on Twitter:

I personally do not see this new dashboard but it wouldn’t surprise me if Google does go live with it?
Forum discussion at Twitter.

Marketing Tips

Google Algorithm Update Tools Going Off – Is It A False Alarm?

The automated tracking tools that look for Google search algorithm updates and large ranking changes are going wild over the weekend. I personally think it may be a false alarm. Why? Well, with Google dropping tons of pages from their index by accident, it can cause massive fluctuations in the search results and thus set off these tools.
That is just my gut feeling, I have not confirmed this with any of the tool providers yet. But if pages are dropping out of the Google index and these tools track pages in the Google index, it makes sense. I’ll update this story if I get confirmation.
Of course, some webmasters are not happy with this because their pages are not coming up in Google anymore. But hopefully once this is fixed, things will settle back down? We will see.
Here are what the tool providers are showing.
Mozcast:

SEMRush:

Cognitive SEO:

RankRanger:

Accuranker:

Advanced Web Rankings:

Algoroo:

SERPMetrics:

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.
Update: We have some information from Dr. Pete Meyers from Moz:

No hard evidence either way yet, but a multi-day indexing bug could certainly (in theory) cause the SERP flux we’re seeing. While not an “algorithm change” in the traditional sense, it’s certainly a ranking change.
— Dr. Pete Meyers (@dr_pete) April 8, 2019

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