Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Archive for the Google Category

Don’t Show Up Missing on Google My Business!

Your Google My Business listing is a local business essential

Google My Business listings are essential for local businesses.If you’re a local business, dealing with your customers face to face, having an accurate Google My Business listing is critical. Google says this is one of the first things to do to rank well for local searches. Google says “The information in your listing like address, phone, logo, business hours, and website determine what shows up when people see you in Google Search and on Google Maps. See our blog post about getting found in local searches.

Too often information for small businesses on Google My Business is old or out of date. And when your NAP (name address, phone) is out of date or inconsistent with other citations across the web, that compromises your listing. It may even prevent your listing from showing up.

But worse yet is not having a Google My Business listing at all. If you’re a very small business or a new business, odds of not having a Google My Business listing are greater.

How to tell if you have a Google My Business listing

You might have a listing even if you’ve never created one yourself, so the first step is to see if you do. Start out with a simple Google search for your company name.  If your company shows up in the Knowledge Card at the to right, you have a listing.

Google My Business listings is found for this company

If this was your business, go to that listing and make sure everything you can fill out has been completed. Also make sure that everything is current, especially your NAP. AdviceLocal has published a nice set of things to do to optimize your listing.

Have you claimed your listing?

Compare the above good Google My Business listing with this one:

This listing hasn't been claimed yet.

I’ve highlighted the question: Own this business? — that only shows up if no one has claimed it yet. You need to click that and follow the on-screen instructions from Google to verify your listing

Verifying your listing

In most cases, Google will give you two options to verify the listing: by mail or phone. If the phone number on the listing is correct, that’s often the best choice. I’ve had several experiences where clients have selected the mail notification option, only to have to request it two,r three or more times because whoever sorts the company mail mistakes the Google letters for junk mail and discards them. However, if no phone number is included on your current Google My Business listing you may have to select the mail option. Exercise some diligence so that when the letter arrives from Google you’ll spot it. When you get it, follow the instructions to login and enter the PIN in your letter to verify your ownership of the listing.

Once Google confirms that you own the listing, log into it and make sure everything is filled out correctly and is consistent with how you’re listed everyplace else.

If you don’t have a Google My Business listing

When you search for your listing, if a number of listings about your business show up but there is no Knowledge Card about your business in the top right (like the search results page below), that’s an indication that Google My Business doesn’t have a listing for you.

No Google My Business listings exists for this company.

You need to create your listing

This isn’t as daunting a process as you might think, especially if you have a single location. If you have multiple locations, you’ll need to go through this process for each of them.

  1. Go to this Google My Business create-a-listing page and click on the green GET STARTED button.
  2. Enter your full business name and click NEXT.
  3. Enter your full address and indicate if you provide services at customer locations instead of at your business address. Many local service businesses operate out of a home office. You may want to hide your street address so customers don’t come knocking at your front door.
  4. Continue to follow the on-screen prompts until you get to the point where Google wants to send you a PIN by mail or phone. See the information above about verifying your listing.
  5. Once you get your PIN, enter it into your account to complete the verification. At that point you own and can manage your Google My Business listing.
  6. Next make sure to optimize your listing. Enter as much information as Google My Business will allow: logos, photos, business hours,  business description, and so forth. The more information you fill out, the more prominent your listing will appear. Make absolutely sure that your NAP is current and consistent with how it’s displayed everywhere else.

A quick note about consistency

When it comes to showing up for local searches, an essential factor is Google’s trust in your NAP. Some citations may have a previous address, some have a local phone number and others a toll-free number. Some may even have variations on your company name. When that happens Google isn’t sure which is right. If Google doesn’t trust it knows your current and accurate NAP, it will be reluctant to display you prominently.

You can check your listing at several dozen of the top citation sources – local search engines, directories, maps & apps – with our handy  scan here. If that scan reveals problems, we can help.

Please join the conversation below with your own experiences and opinions.

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How Long Does it Take to Rank in Google? [Infographic]

How long does it take to rank in Google?

This is a question we get asked a lot. A LOT.

And there are so many variables, it often feels like an unanswerable question.

To the rescue comes Ellie Summers in the UK at The Website Group and the research folks at ahrefs. She’s created a helpful infographic that covers the answer (such as it is) very well. The infographic below is reproduced from Ellie’s website with her permission.

Need help getting your small business onto the first page at Google? Contact us to see how we can help.

Share with us what you learn from your own experience in the comments below.

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Frightening News about Page Speed and Bounce Rate

Page speed and bounce rate – a couple of definitions

  • Page speed: the time it takes to fully display the content on a specific web page.
  • Bounce rate: the percent of visits to a site that look at only one page.

Measure your page download speed and keep it under three seconds

How page speed and bounce rate are related

Impatience drives visitors to leave a web page that doesn’t display on their computer or phone as quickly as they want it to. That’s a bounce. The rule of thumb currently is that you begin to lose significant numbers of visitors when your page speed exceeds two seconds. Pingdom says:

… the average bounce rate for pages loading within 2 seconds is 9%. As soon as the page load time surpasses 3 seconds, the bounce rate soars, to 38% by the time it hits 5 seconds!

Graph showing the relationship between page speed and bounce rate

This graph illustrates the bad news. As page download time increases beyond 3 seconds, bounce rate increases dramatically.

A high bounce rate represents lost business.

If your goal is for visitors to take an action on your site, such as filling out an information form, contacting you, or buying something  — then bounces  represent lost customers.

But it’s actually worse than that.

Ranking factors on Google

It’s been well known and reported here that page speed is a ranking factor at Google. We began warning about it way back in 2009. All else being equal, a fast downloading page will outrank a slow page.

We’ve also pointed out that a high bounce rate is a negative ranking factor on Google as well.

Update June 2018: If your market is international, it may help to know what your page speed is overseas. I recommend a test at DotCom Tools that will test your page speed at over 20 international cities.

Update December, 2019:  Matthew Woodward in the UK has written a helpful guide you may find useful. 6x Free Ways To Increase Website Speed (and search traffic!)

Why it gets really bad

The frightening thing about all this is that these two negative ranking factors compound one another. It’s bad enough if you suffer a ranking penalty because your page is slow. But that slowness raises your bounce rate, resulting in a double-whammy to your ranking in Google search results.

Our recommendation is to work to make sure your pages all download within three seconds at the most. Two seconds is ideal, but three seconds is usually tolerable.

We always welcome your perspective. Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

We offer a free SEO review of your website, including page speed and many other factors. Call us and let’s set it up.

 

Local Business: Get Found and Get Chosen

You need to get found — and chosen

Local listings on Google: the Local Pack or 3-Pack.

Getting found on Google

When someone is looking for what you do, you need them to find you. Typical SEO is great for getting you to show up prominently in the search engine results. But Google has been changing and you have additional opportunities to get found.

The Local 3 Pack  on the right often displays near the top of the page when a local search is performed. Whether you show up here is a function of three things:

  1. Your SEO
    This includes on-page optimization for the keyword phrases customers use most when looking for what you do, and off-page link building to improve your website’s online “authority”.
  2. Proximity to the searcher
    This is what it sounds like: how close your location is to wherever the searcher is searching from. Clearly you can have no influence over this.
  3. Prominence of your business
    This relates to your online citations: how broadly across the web your location data is listed and how consistent it is across dozens of local search engines, directories, maps and apps.

At Rank Magic, we’re experts in Local SEO for small and very small local businesses. And we have a simple solution for ensuring your prominence across the most important locally focused sites across the web.

Reach out to us for a free SEO and prominence consultation about your business.

The Moz Blog calls location data and review ratings “The 1-2 Punch of Local SEO”

Image courtesy of The Moz Blog

Once you’ve optimized your location data and customers can easily find you, the next step is to get them to choose you.

Getting chosen

Once you’ve been found, it’s very likely that some of your competitors will also show up. You want them to pick your listing in preference to the others. One of the best ways to do that is to demonstrate that you’ve got a very strong positive review profile. Inc Magazine says

Research shows that 91 percent of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

The impact of online review ratings is clear in this Google local 3-pack.With that in mind, take a look at the Local 3-Pack on the left for someone looking for an Indian restaurant in upstate New York. Which would you check out first? Most likely you would choose the one with 4.5 stars rather than the one with 1.6 stars. And if one of the restaurants listed had no reviews at all, odds are that would be your last choice.

It’s pretty clear that your online star ratings can have a significant impact on your business.

If you don’t have a strategy for encouraging positive reviews from your customers, now is the time to start one.

At Rank Magic we have a simple  program to generate positive reviews and balance them across the top rating sites like Google, Facebook, MerchantCircle, Yelp, and more. Contact us to learn more about how our solution can drive more customers to your business.

In fact, we have a free scanning service. Now you can see how good your own location prominence and reviews are. There’s no obligation, and did I say it’s free?

Just click here to run a free scan of your local listings.

Join the conversation with your opinions and experience in the Comments below.

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Does Your Site Use Intrusive Interstitials? Better Not!

Why you need to avoid intrusive interstitials

What’s an Interstitial?

An interstitial is an ad that appears in between two pages. Sometimes they can appear before the home page on your site. Often interstitials are pop-up ads, but sometimes they will be helpful, like an offer to chat with a live person. An interstitial ad is a form of interruption marketing used by advertisers who want their ads to be more like broadcast ads.

Many interstitials are just fine. But you want to be  sure your interstitials aren’t intrusive.

Examples of intrusive interstitial's that can generate a Google ranking penalty.

What’s wrong with an intrusive interstitial?

An intrusive interstitial or pop-up ad is one that annoyingly blocks all or most of a page. This is more problematic on mobile sites where there’s much less screen real estate. With less room on the screen it’s very easy for an interstitial to be considered intrusive.

One thing intrusive interstitials do is that they annoy your visitors. That’s a bad thing in and of itself, especially if it’s annoying enough to drive the visitor away. They also slow down the loading of your site because it’s extra material to download into a phone or browser.

Why is it important to avoid them?

It’s been well known for years that Google favors fast sites. If your interstitial is slowing down the display of your pages, that might hurt your ranking. But even beyond that, Google hates them. Google announced about a year and a half ago that at the beginning of 2017 intrusive interstitials would negatively affect your ranking. And here at  Rank Magic we are always concerned about the health of your rankings.

A few exceptions

Google has identified three types of interstitials that “would not be affected by the new signal” if “used responsibly.”

  • Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
  • Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall.
  • Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app-install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.

Please join the conversation and share your observations in the Comments section below.

If you’re struggling with your online visibility, please call us. Because at Rank Magic, we can fix that!