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Google My Business Webinar

Google My Business Webinar Recap

Yesterday Google invited all of us to join in on their live webinar to share more of the new benefits of it’s latest release Google My Business, so we decided to jump in on the action.

A little impersonal with not much engaging interaction, Google partners representative Alex and Jade Wong dove right into the demo of the Google My Business explaining some of the new features within it’s dashboard.

Google My Business Webinar Team

Jade explained many of the new My Business features we have already seen released such as a new dashboard that allows for easy navigation to any of the applications needed to monitor everything from your Google + insights, Reviews and even your sites analytics.

“A key part of a local businesses success is getting online.” – Jade Wong

Google My Business Dashboard

Some of the other great features of the new Google My Business dashboard noted are the ability to a storefront image or walkthrough video right to your page.

The new dashboard also shows you your level of completeness your profile has reached. This is a plus for business owners that helps them grow their profile to a point to where your profile is maximized.

Google My Business Profile Completion

The new dashboard also shows you a clear list of the items left to complete in order to reach your profiles maximum potential. A list is shown off to the right side of the screen displaying the list of “to-do” items helping you finish incomplete items.

Google My Business List of things to complete

Previously not discussed in any detail was the mobile application version and web versions of Google My Business. The Google team explained more about how the mobile application works and how business owners can leverage it and get more out of their experience.

Google My Business Mobile Dashboard

Below you can see the synergy pointed out between desktop, mobile and mobile web applications in a single dashboard and the ease of use for business owners.

Google My Business Desktop & Mobile screens

The new mobile apps are designed to provide easy navigation and use from one touchpoint. As shown below it’s easy to navigate directly to your business editor from any mobile device and make changes as needed.

Google My Business Mobile Navigation

Although the team did not speculate on an actual release date for the iOS version of the application you can see below in the screen shots that the app is in development and should be released soon.

Google My Business iOS

Even though Google’s My Business webinar was brief, lasting only 30 minutes from start to finish including questions including the ever popular “Bulk Upload”, which still wasn’t answered it did provide some useful information.

The new dashboard is available now at google.com/mybusiness. It is available across 236 regions and in 65 languages.

Also, Google is providing support at http://support.google.com/business

We look forward to more control over our business listings with the new dashboard that is Google My Business. Read more about some of the features in our original blog here.

Google My Business More information

Google My Business Sign Up

New “Google My Business” to replace old Google + and Places dashboard.

So for quite a while now it seems as if Google has been experiencing somewhat of an identity crisis of sorts. With now discontinued names such as Google Places, Google Places for Business and Google Plus Local it’s local platform has undergone so many changes it’s hard to keep track let alone be able to determine the best ways in which to optimize your business for it.

Google My Business Signup

Google announced today that Google + Local is officially no more and that users upon logging in or creating a new account will experience the new Google My Business.This will now be the default experience for those presently using any of Google’s other business related tools or services.

Google’s new My Business platform aims to be more of a seamless management system for business owners with individual locations. Brands and Service Areas are also supported but the GMB focus is more intent on a one-stop interface to allow for easy navigation and interpretation of data in one location. The new changes won’t affect any external users’ experiences with your Google + page in any way nor will it appear any different. The back end is where the owner will notice a significant change, which is a huge step in the right direction to help keep your brand identity consistent.

It has been rumored that the new GMB is aimed more at people who have not figured out how to “Get found on Google”, and with a button labeled with that same expression it just may in fact, be true.

For new users, upon signing up you will now have your business information dispersed to other Google tools such as Google Search, Google +, Google Maps for any device.

A few of the new tools available in the GMB update are the ability to manage both your Google + Local and Google + Business pages in one integrated dashboard. Furthermore the ability to manage reviews, customer insights, YouTube and even AdWords express are all here in one place at your fingertips.

Google My Business Dashboard

Another great new feature is the management and streamlined approach to your reviews, a highly critical aspect of your profile. You can not only see reviews from around the web, but their analytics and even a break out of top sites and your average rating on Google + and the rest of the web. This data is easily accessible from the Reviews tab shown above.

Google My Business Reviews Tab

A few of the other great tools now offered in the NEW Google My Business dashboard –

  • Post to your Google + page and respond to review right from your GMB dashboard.
  • More intuitive user insights that include visibility (views & clicks), engagement (posts & actions) as well as audience insights to let you know who is engaging with you!
  • Basic Google Analytics that shows All Web Site Data (for a 30 day period) including new visits, unique visitors and overall pageviews as well as the ability to jump right into your full analytics from your GMB dashboard.

Google My Business Insights

Google My Business Analytics

A Google My Business mobile application has already been released for the Android operating system (live now on Google Play) that allows you to do all of the same things from your mobile device or tablet. Google plans to release an iOS version within the coming weeks.

Google My Business Android Application

Google has also made it easier to distinguish your business type for your Google + page upon setup which now looks like this:

Google My Business Setup Type

Take a look at the Google My Business introduction video released as well:

As of the present time the Google Bulk Upload tool has not appeared to have been given any attention or updates, which still leaves brands or business owners with multiple locations at a bit of a stand still or at least a disadvantage. With all of the updates we can only expect, or at least hope this will happen soon.

Overall, the new GMB dashboard gives users a much more intuitive and cohesive experience for their brand identity. Google has already begun transitioning accounts to the new dashboard so login and take a look. You may just like what you see.

Kirkland Desmond 2014 Facebook promo

Bass Fishing Gone Wild – A Brand Identity Development Story

When professional bass angler Kirkland Desmond came to us several months ago to ask for our help with creating his new brand identity we were excited to say the least. What could be more creative than adding a little flair to the sport of professional bass fishing EV2 style?

Kirkland isn’t your average angler. He’s a little wild, a little edgy and quite the hip guy on the scene.

When he contacted us he said he wanted some of our “wild style” incorporated into his new look. Kirkland wanted to stand out from the other anglers and make a statement. The request was for something a little grunge oriented with bold colors. We began brainstorming and the following materials are the result of our efforts to develop a wild, aggressive brand identity for the “new kid on the scene” and get him noticed.

We started by exploring ideas for the development of his actual logo. Just because he is an angler we didn’t want the typical fishing related icons that most others in the sport use. We opted for a hook specific to his fishing style that actually wraps around his name surrounding it. The sharp hook symbolizes an aggressive angler that contains the name and makes it one entire piece. We decided to keep it a bit broken and grungy with a tattered style font that looks slightly broken apart with rough edges and a little spatter. The hook itself is clean, not rusty or worn while the name itself is very rough. This symbolizes that there is a level of perfection or pristine beauty within this “bad ass” angler who is out to get noticed.

The color palette is simple with a bold water like blue, black and some grey used to represent the hook itself. The blue makes an impact while making you comfortable and not being to over the top.

Kirkland_Desmond_Logo_Web_NoBackground

Once we developed the brand identity for Kirkland we moved on to some other print related materials for him including his business cards and thank you cards as requested. Check out some of those concepts below. As you can see we kept the format and overall brand identity consistent with the use

the same fonts colors, etc. Kirkland wanted the same style of grunge to be applied to the cards and other materials we developed. Take a look at how we conveyed that to these pieces below. We opted to go with the logo and text at an angle to add a little diversity and make his materials stand out from the others with standard alignment.

kirkland desmond business card front

business card back for Kirkland Desmond

Of course being a professional angler you simply have to wear a flashy jersey that makes you stand out. We incorporated the colors and general theme into Kirklands 2014 fishing jersey as well. With this project we kept all branding consistent and added in his sponsors logos as requested. As shown you can see the consistency and level of detail we applied while still utilizing the color scheme and paint spatter we developed. We wanted his jersey to pop and get noticed and adhere to his brand identity. The jersey included both the front and back as well as the sleeves, collar and cuffs. All of these items will be printed using dye sublimation and pieced together to create the final product. Here’s what we came up with.

Kirkland Desmond 2014 fishing jersey front

Kirkland Desmond 2014 jersey back

Kirkland Desmond 2014 jersey sleeves & collar

The next project sent to us was a new one for us. Kirkland decided he was going to use a mask, similar to one used in dirt bike riding or paintball to shield his face from the harsh winds experienced while racing down the open water to a fishing spot. What better way to stand out than to don a mask that matches your overall brand? We were up to the task. We worked with one of team members experienced in vinyl application and wrapping to assist us in developing a two dimensional template of the mask to apply the graphics to. The graphics, once designed on the template were printed in 3M heavy duty vinyl and applied to the mask. Instead of airbrushing a design on the mask we chose to use vinyl which will allow Kirkland to remove it at any time if sponsors change and simply reprint and re-apply. Take a look at how amazing the final product turned out and how well it fits with the overall brand identity we have created.

Kirkland Desmond fishing mask 2014

Kirkland Desmond fishing mask 2014

Kirkland Desmond fishing mask 2014

Kirkland Desmond fishing mask 2014

Gain online business reviews

How to Gain Business Reviews Online – Tips to Getting More Feedback

One of the questions we are asked most frequently is “How do I gain more reviews of my business online?”

The first thing you have to understand is that reviews should never be about your ranking. Reviews are used to gauge your performance and make improvements where necessary. If you only look at customer reviews as a way to boost your business online you aren’t utilizing them to their fullest potential.

EV2 Agency Google + Reviews

Whether good or bad, a review should be used as an indication as to how well your business is performing and every business owner should be aware of the reviews they are receiving. Responding to reviews is also critical. No matter the context of the review, a response from the business or it’s owner is always beneficial. It’s show’s potential customer’s you are not only in tune with their needs but attentive and willing to take constructive criticism.

So how do you gain more reviews for your business in hopes to better your performance and grow as well as attract new customers?

  • Be Available Everywhere Online: What we mean is that not everyone prefers Google or Yelp. By having consistent and robust profiles online in various places (citations) where customers frequent, you stand a far greater chance of gaining the reviews you want. Nothing can be more bothersome to a customer than being asked for a Google review if in fact they are not a Google user. People choose to spend their time in various places, and by positioning yourself where they browse you are more likely to be seen and reviewed. The good news is that with the exception of Yelp (due to pending lawsuit) that Google now shows reviews from various other sources around the web such as MerchantCircle, CitySearch and more.
  • Online Review Window Stickers

  • Ask about your performance: There’s nothing at all wrong with asking for the review. If, of course it’s done in the right context. Don’t ask your customers to leave you a “Good Review Online”. Instead let your customers know after the sale you would like them to rate your performance or provide you with feedback to help you grow and perform better in the future. Advise them that you exist in various places online (even providing a list for them) and let them know you would like to hear from them. The key is to making your customers aware that your intention isn’t about your online ratings or even your ranking, rather that you simply want to know how well you did, or didn’t do. Your customers will not only be impressed that you care enough to ask for feedback but be more likely to do so.
  • Citation & Website Stickers or Banners: You want your customers to know where you exist online so they can review you, so how better to let them know where to find you online than displaying logos for websites your business exists on. You can find various places online that offer stickers from some of your favorite sites such as Google, Yelp and more. Displaying them in a prominent location, such as the front door or lobby of your business helps customers recognize where you exist online and leave reviews on their favorite sites. If your business doesn’t have a physical location or storefront you can also download logos of the sites you exist on and place them on your businesses website. Most sites offer free banners specifically for this that you can place anywhere on your page to guide customers to the site and gain the feedback you are looking for.
  • Send an email blast: Most businesses collect email address in any number of ways (if you aren’t you should be) to reach out to their existing customers or prospective buyers interested in their product or service. Email is not only a cost effective way to reach consumers, but is also able to be tracked. Create a compelling email blast, preferably with a catchy graphic and witty headline that compels users to open the email and click through to leaving you some great feedback. Emails can be set up to link directly to any number of your profiles specifically or provide a list of various resources. Consumers check their email multiple times a day and sending an email is a cheap and easy way to get their attention.
  • EV2Agency Google Review Email

  • Create printed review materials: Sometimes customers need a little reminder that you’ve asked for a review of your performance. There’s nothing that says you can’t provide that little hint. A great way to do that is by giving them a take away, such as a business card or mailer that simply asks them to “Rate your performance” to help you perform better. Create a business card with a simple headline and listing of logos of the various places they can rate you. Let the customer decide where they would like to leave the review based on their own personal online habits. The review will find it’s way to you. Many businesses have mailing lists as well. Sending out a mailer is also a great way to let customers know you are looking for their input and where they can send it. People spend some much time online they often block out emails, banners and other requests that are not directly solicited or sought. By sending a piece of mail or handing someone a takeaway card of some sort can sometimes be the perfect way to reach them.

Google Review Flyer for BigMechanic

Now that we have given you a few ideas of how to generate reviews for you business lets touch briefly on the do-not’s of online reviews:

  • Don’t ask for “Good Reviews” – ask for feedback on
    performance.
  • Don’t create fake profiles for the purpose of leaving reviews.
  • Don’t buy reviews from any resource online.
  • Don’t offer to trade products or services for positive reviews.
  • Don’t leave any reviews without a response no matter the
    content.

Follow these simple rules for online reviews and your business will see the impact as you learn more about what your customers want, how they perceive you and what adjustments you can make to improve. A business that constantly makes performance improvements lasts where others often fail.

View your reviews as a learning tool and your success is sure to improve exponentially.

Woman developing website content

Freshness Facts – How Fresh Website Content Can Influence Your Google Rankings

So, you’ve just started a business, built your new website or are simply new to SEO. By now you have probably heard that content rules and that it is a major influence is how your ranking is determined by the SERP’s. But, did you know that Google actually has a patented document-scoring program called “Search Engine 125”?

Many people have never heard of it and are completely unaware just how important having fresh content actually is and what it means to the ranking of your website.

Search Engine 125 is an algorithm that scores documents or pages on a website based on content update. What this means is that Google places a greater emphasis on returning fresher web content for it’s search queries.

Google Search Engine 125 Patent

If you’re curious just how Google scores your documents let us explain. Google measures all of the sites pages or documents and then scores each based on the type of search query performed.

Keywords that require the freshest content are things such as recent events or hot topics, recurring events such as sports or even frequent updates and world news.

A web page is given a freshness score based on it’s creation date, which decay’s over time. A high freshness score can boost a keyword or topic but losses it’s effectiveness over time as the page becomes older. The creation date is when Google actually becomes aware of the page or one of it’s bot’s physically indexes the page or discovers a link to it.

Another factor that plays heavily into the freshness ranking awarded by Google is page changes. By this we mean the amount of content on any given page that changes. Changing a single sentence or adding a keyword isn’t going to cut it here. Significant changes to 50% or more of the pages copy, usually above the fold, headlines and tags all determine a pages freshness score.

developing fresh website content

The rate of page changes also plays a vital role in the freshness score. Content that changes frequently as opposed to every few years will have a much higher freshness rating that those that don’t. Take for example The Tampa Tribune who’s home page content is changing daily based on news stories. A site like this has a high degree of changes and therefore results in a high rate of fresh content.

Another vital way to increase your sites freshness rating is the overall creation of new content or pages, thus a site that adds news pages at a higher rate than another will have a higher score. Some SEO’s agree that upwards of 30% of the pages on your site annually should be new, fresh content.
Keep this in mind but never neglect your old content if it needs attention. It could be just the boost you need.

Changing you important content matters more than just editing insignificant areas of your site. Content that is seen as not as important are items such as the navigation, ads, or content that falls below the fold. Generally speaking content in the main body of your site or page or above the fold is the most significant and warrants changes more frequently resulting in a higher freshness rating.

Another great way to score freshness points is to distribute links to your new pages, blogs and content. A higher rate of new link growth is a signal to Google and can inevitably result in a higher freshness score.

Be sure to be careful not to overdo it as an unusual increase in linking activity can be viewed as spam. Be honest and share your content or information ethically.

Another great way to increase your score and your rank is to share links with fresh sites to pass value to your own site and it’s content. A site such as Reddit who constantly has new content on it has a much higher freshness score than a site who rarely has new content. Links to you from sites such as this also help greatly. Make sure you’re aware of high quality sites such as this when distributing your links.

Content development

As you can see there are a number of factors that Google utilizes in it’s algorithm to determine your sites freshness score and in turn your ranking. Not to say that fresh content solely dictates your online rank, however it certainly helps when you’re attempting to climb the ranks within SERP’s these days.

Keep in mind, it’s all about quality content in the end not necessarily quantity. Make sure what you are writing about is what people want to read and you will find more shares, likes and interactions.

EV2 Agency believes strongly in content creation as part of any solid SEO plan. Let us develop and distribute quality content for your site today.

Is SEO Dead? Is Google Responsible.

The Death of SEO – Is Google Responsible?

So, you have reviewed keywords or niche terms related to your business and embedded them into your sites content. You have written strong meta descriptions and made sure that your url and other aspects of your site all follow your strategy. But is it all in vain? Is SEO dying, or is it already dead?

It seems more and more these days that black hat seo is everywhere. Everyone is in a race to get their site ranked high in the SERP’s to increase visibility and business. Underhanded techniques such as link farming and spamming posts seem to be everywhere. Can the white hat seo’s really compete with all of the practices like quality citations and linkbuilding used to gain status online that are simply not lawful? The answer is they may not have to.

Google recently announced an update to their places guidelines that now allow a local business to add a single descriptor that helps customers locate their business or understand what your business offers.

Google Descriptor View

Examples of acceptable titles with descriptors (in italics for demonstration purposes) are “Starbucks Downtown” or “Joe’s Pizza Restaurant”.

Examples that would not be accepted would be “#1 Seattle Plumbing”, “Joe’s Pizza Best Delivery” or “Joe’s Pizza Restaurant Dallas”.

This new guideline allows a local business to be found even more using this descriptor and gain more visibility online. Local seo is rapidly growing and more often than not Google Places/Plus listing show up before many organic searches ever do.

Consumers can gain a great deal of information from your local profile leading them directly to your site, if they even visit it. Studies show that 86% of users searching locally for a business will call or click on their local listing and read reviews and never actually visit a website.

Local SEO & Mobile Search

Here are just a few statistics that support why developing and maintaining a positive and informative local profile is critical, and may be more important that traditional on-page seo for your website.

  • More than 54% of Americans now search online for business information versus traditional
    phone books. (comScore)
  • 82% of online local searchers follow up via an in-store visit. (TMP/comScore)

Traditional on-page SEO that supports keywords, topics and other relative information has long been the most widely used and abused practice for ranking a site or web page. With more consumers searching on mobile devices than ever before the need for strong local SEO has increased. More businesses are becoming proactive in the use of their local business profiles to drive traffic, however over 25% of online business listings are inaccurate or unclaimed.

Traditional on-page SEO

As more business owners realize the power of a strong local listing the shift from traditional on-page SEO to rank slowly dies. The movement toward a local listing full of reviews, images and other useful information becomes front and center. Google is well aware of the effectiveness of these listings and is consistently changing the guidelines to make these listing more effective and more desirable to business owners. With each Google + profile that is optimized a little on-page SEO dies and Google takes that much more of a stronghold over how businesses are ranked and viewed online.

Let us develop a strong local presence for your business today by optimizing and maintaining a group of quality local listing that will drive more business to your door.

Source 1: http://blumenthals.com/blog/2014/02/20/google-places-guideline-update-now-allowing-descriptors-in-business-title/

Source 2: https://support.google.com/places/answer/107528?hl=en

Source 3: http://listedlocally.com/faqs/surveys-statistics-on-local-search/

Keep citation listings consitent for more business

Quality Citations & Consistent NAP Equal More Business


So, you’ve started a new business or have realized that your existing one is quite getting the traffic you had expected online and people just aren’t noticing you.

One of the best ways to get your business out there is to develop quality citations for your business so that the SERP’s can see where you exist. But where do you list and which sources are the most effective for your business?

Determining that can be little tricky and it can also be rather time consuming. We’re going to give you a little inside scoop on the best way to determine these citation sources locally and how to keep track of everything.

EV2 Agency Manata Profile

Take a look at what your competitors are doing. If it works for them it can work for you, right? Do a simple search for the type of business you have and see where your competitors are listing themselves. There are quite a few good tools out there to help you, like GeoRanker but a good old fashioned web search can usually tell you a great deal.

One great factor to take into consideration is the MozRank of any given directory or citation source. If you don’t know what a MozRank is read more about it and what it means to you. You can also use a tool like Moonsy to check the MozRank of any give site. Just type in the url of the directory or citation site you would like to check. The higher the score the better the value of the link to your site.

Spending your time developing links on these trusted sites means greater visibility for your business. Knowing which ones to place your information on is a smart starting point and means there is a greater likelihood of your business being found locally.

Another item that is highly important when determining these sources is Domain Authority. If you are unclear read more about it and understand exactly what it means to you and how your site benefits from it. All sites have one and again, the higher the domains authority the better the quality link to your site.

You can check out citations sources and directory sites here on the Moz Open Site Explorer and check the strength of a url.

Once you have done some research make yourself a list of all the best directories and citation sources you feel are worth the time to invest making profiles for your business on. We suggest you create something like an excel spreadsheet like the one shown here with the listing of all these citations and directories. Name them and also give yourself a spot to input your link (url to the page you created) as well. Also, provide a list of your login, password and other critical data you may need in the future for each of them. We leave a notes section to list things such as the date the profile was created, it’s status or if it has been verified and approved or not.

NAP Master Document for management

Once you have developed your working spreadsheet, add in your NAP (i.e. name, address, phone, etc) in a place easily accessible whenever you are working with the sheet. The key here and the element that is of most importance to your business is consistency. You have to make sure that the listings you are taking the time to develop are consistent across the web, so keep that information correct and close at hand.

Inconsistencies in your NAP can not only affect you negatively in searches, but can also cost you business.Learn more about why in this article.

Make sure that your business data is in line with your brand. Write your business description, your UVP and other details that define your business and keep them handy. You may have already done this in a previous branding step but you will need all of this when you are building these profiles.

The consistency of this data says a lot about your business so make sure it is always the same from source to source. NAP consistency on business websites has approximately 18.8% factor in determining the ranking of your site while external sites like Yelp and others account for about 16% of that rank. The most significant yet, is still Google Places which accounts for about 19.6% of your ranking based on title, keywords and more.

These factors make up over 50% of your ranking performance so consistency is key. Let us manage your listings today and drive more traffic directly to your door.

Google Header Image

Google Banner Update 2014

If you’re no stranger to a business or personal Google Plus page then by now you’re probably well aware that the banner has changed it’s size yet again. By my count that’s three alone in 2013, and who knows how many more times it could change in the near future for Google to finally get it right.

Is Google testing to see what works best? Are they simply not happy with the amount of “live space” you can have, or is more than that? Could it be Google just really doesn’t know what size is actually the best and most receptive to potential customers or friends?

google-banner-update-slider1
Regardless of the reason, it can not only be annoying but potentially damaging to businesses as the banner won’t display properly and could have the ability to cut off or otherwise distort a marketing message or image that conveys the brand.

This is an agonizing problem for individuals and businesses alike, but consider if you, like myself are in a position where you manage multiple profiles for multiple clients across a wide variety of industries.

google-banner-update-slider2
Taking the time to review each and every banner and then recreating them to fit the new specifications can be time consuming and also look bad on your part when and if the client notices the banner isn’t looking as it should on their profile.

What’s worse is the fact that Google doesn’t notify anyone that the change is coming nor do they tell you what the best possible specifications are to get the most out of the banner. Wouldn’t you think that Google, of all people who claim to want user experiences across the internet to be their best would willingly provide this information to everyone so that the banners could effectively be created and uploaded and look great on all monitor sizes and systems? The fact is, it doesn’t seem like they care too much as there are no Google updates, templates or supplied information out there for users to recreate the banners and properly upload them.

google-banner-update-slider3
Through online research, other blogs and my own trial and error I have come to the conclusion that the best solution is to create the largest file in both pixel dimension and file size that Google will accept. The reasoning behind this is that if you use the smallest size accepted is that, while it will upload and appear it will only look clear and unpixelated on smaller monitors – such as 13” laptops and smaller devices like ipads and cellular devices. Google scales the image based on the monitor size the page is being viewed on. In retrospect a banner created at a minimum size viewed on a large monitor such as a 20” monitor or greater will expand and increase to fit and therefor render pixelated and distorted. The key is to aim for biggest common denominator and create.

I have determined that size to be approximately 2120 px by 1196 px. While this size is the best size in my determination there is also another aspect to consider which is that Google will scale the image as needed and that tends to happen from the right side. In other words text or imagery run close to the edge of that size can potentially be cut off and not visible. In my experience the best possible scenario is to keep text on both sides in approximately 40 pixels in from the edge so that it remains centered and does not risk getting cut off. It may inevitably be the best idea not to use any text at all and stick only to imagery, however this can still be cut into depending on placement and viewing monitor size.