Get Google to call you!

google-logo1Are you having issues with your new Google Maps listing for your business? I’ve had a bunch of questions regarding this and how to fix this. Easy, have Google call you! Some of you might have noticed something wrong with your maps marker or Google Maps or information in general. Some stayed the same, some disappeared/re-appearead, markers have moved, information didn’t stick. Whatever the case may be, if you use Google Maps and are having a difficult time getting your maps issues resolved by filling out the online form “fix your listing” with Google here’s a little trick and a not so obvious thing I just learned about Google. You can have them call you! That’s right! You heard me right, and in my experience the phone call is immediate. Here’s how!

What Do I Need?
1. A Google Places or Google+ account
2. The phone number associated with your business
3. The correct information for your Google listing

How Do I Get Them To Call?
1. Goto Google Places – use your Google login/pw
2. At the bottom of the screen you will see 5 hyperlinks, click on Google Places Help See Fig. 1
3. Click on the red button that says “contact us” in the upper right hand side of the screen See Fig. 2
4. A new window will pop up, click on the Blue button that says “Call Us” See Fig 3
5. A screen will pop up where you will need to fill out your Name, Google Email Address and of course your phone number See Fig. 4
6. Click on “Call Me” and Google will call within seconds See Fig. 4

Google 1

Fig. 1

Step3a

Fig. 3

Figure 2

Step4a

Fig. 4

TIP: You have to use your business phone number associated with your account, you can’t call from just any phone, keep that in mind. When they call you it will say press 1 for a Google specialist, and sometimes when you press one it keeps repeating it, just continue to press 1 you will be directed to a Google Specialist. More than likely, your Google specialist can make the changes to your account almost immediately do NOT let anyone tell you it will take 7 days for changes to take affect. I’ve asked Google every time I needed to make this call to make the changes immediately and they’ve done it!

Can I have Google change something else on my account?

Yes. If you have multiple business listings on the map or Google accounts you can have them combine all the listings for you. I recently did this for a client of mine. They had 3 listings in three separate accounts, they had reviews on all the sites and their maps were incorrect. Google was able to combine the accounts under one account, combine all the reviews and fix the location marker. Boom!

How often can I call?

As often as you like! I am always checking and making sure the Google listings for my clients are correct because they can change from time to time from Google glitches. If this happens Google will fix it for you and sometimes give you an email address to email them if it continues to happens.

The Importance of Verifying On Pinterest, Google+ and Bing

VERIFIED-VECTORIf you are new to Social Media marketing for your business and have noticed the option to verify your business on sites such as Google+ or Pinterest, and Bing do not ignore this opportunity, nor underestimate them.  The more and more cold research I do about local businesses, far too often I notice their social media sites are not verified.  This isn’t an intractable move but mainly a common mistake most companies make do to their lack of understanding of the process and it’s importance.

Verification started a couple years ago with the launch of Google+ and the introduction of Google Local, which has now taken the place of Google Places for Businesses. The initial idea behind verification was to get businesses and companies more involved on certain social media platforms and to help impel their Google ratings. Now, verification has developed into an essential off page SEO tool in amping up your link juice!

 What is Verification?

Verification is now used not only by Google and Bing but also by Pinterest and LinkedIn. The intention of the verification process is to validate that you are a legitimate business and your listings online is accurate and authentic. The significance of this verification is fundamental to the health of your online presence and to help boost your efforts in your off page SEO. Not only does it facilitate with searches but also gives you a boost in your Google ratings and gives weight to the ownership of your blog and website by back linking.

In addition to site verification you also have the opportunity to partake in the Analytics portion of Google, Pinterest and Bing. These analytics give you essential inside information about the traffic going to and from your website/blog and social media bands. Moreover, it is absolutely FREE.

Learn how to verify your sites here

Social media has converted into more than just posting, pictures, specials and content; it has become an alternative variety of SEO and off page link juice and link building. If you are still viewing social media as just place to post your specials and business information, then you are missing out on an extraordinary opportunity to inaugurate the process of off page SEO and link building. It’s simple, easy, FREE and effective!

 

 

Tiny Tips About WordPress

Guy-pushing-wordpressWeb/blog design can be overwhelming, especially in the beginning, you wonder where to start.  Most of us back in the day landed on blogger and as blogger evolved so did so many other “blogger” type sites. Over the years, I stayed true to Blogger, up until WordPress took over the blogging scene and started flexing its superhuman design muscles.  I became captivated by the quality themes, design options, affordability and robust functionality all wrapped up into one neat little package. And the rest is history…

When prepping for whichever blog/website you do choose to design, you have to elect a domain name, you can do this through any site really, but WordPress manages to keep everything in house right down to hosting your site and giving you the option to select a free WordPress domain name or the option to purchase a premium domain name as well, sans WordPress part of the domain:  www.mywebsite.wordpress.com. I love WordPress because it keeps things simple and fluid. Check it out!

WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com

When you first start dabbling in the lovely world of WordPress you will find that there are two different sites, WordPress.org and WordPress.com. This is simple discernment. WordPress.org is for building websites and robust blogs and WordPress.com is for building a free simple blog which is also indexable through Google, Pinterest and Bing.

  • WordPress.com benefits: Free, easy to setup, secure, your content is automatically backed up on hundreds of servers.
  • WordPress.org benefits:  Ability to upload custom themes, plugins and if you are HTML savvy you can customize code.

Choosing a WordPress Theme

Choosing a theme is like choosing a pair of shoes. You try them on, walk in them for a while, and you love them, hate them, or add them to your collection of shoes. Themes in reality are very similar. To start with, WordPress  gives you several default themes, such as the twenty-ten, twenty-eleven, twenty-twelve and now just released the twenty-thirteen default theme. These are great starter themes to acclimate you to using WordPress and the back end functionality of this very robust yet simple CMS (content management software). In addition to these default themes, WordPress also affords you the option to select from a large array of FREE themes as well. Surprisingly, the list of FREE themes grows everyday and some of these themes are incredibly beautiful, functional and easy to use for your blog/website and most of these themes are good for either a blog or your website. You also have the option to purchase premium themes as well. Premium themes usually have more styling options and custom CSS. Premium themes will cost you though, typically between $25-100 depending on the extensiveness of the theme. It’s ok to collect themes are try out different ones and their functionalities.  You also have the option within the pre-download portion of the theme to look at it live as well, a great way to try it on quickly to see if it fits your style! TIP: Info-Way inkthemes.com is a great place to download theme packages for very little cost, they have excellent forums and customer service!

How do I….?

When initially trying to learn WP, you are faced with an interesting challenge; you are either here for a simple blog design or a website design/extensive blog. The disparity between the two can be vast but learning WordPress is very similar on either platform. WordPress manages to keep things reasonably balanced in regards to blog vs. website design. My suggestion, if you are a beginner and trying to learn WP, start with a blog and get your feet wet there first. And of course, it is good for any entrepreneur to blog anyways, this is a great way to learn WordPress and to launch your first published work!  Another suggestion is to purchase “WordPress for Dummies”  keep in mind there are two versions, make sure to take notice, ”WordPress” for Dummies & “Wordpress Web Design for Dummies”, both are outstanding resources  and  will take you through WordPress step by step. It will also reveal some great secrets of WordPress and give you tips and tricks as well.  I still reference these books to this day and as WordPress and the world of CMS are constantly shifting I continue to get the updated versions on my iPad.  Note: WordPress also has a great support page and a forum page as well. Both will help you with most any issue or question with WordPress.

Plugins

One thing you will see and hear a lot of is the word “plugin”.  Wordpress.org presents an array truly incredible tools for you to download, install and diversify your WordPress powered website  these are called plugins. What is a plugin you might ask? Plugins are undersized programs, or combination of programs rather, that sit on top of your WordPress system and enhance the function of your website dependent on the chosen desired plugin(s). Basically the way plugins emerged were from programmers wanting to give WordPress sites that little kick and capability to do one more extra thing or element without having to alter the code, and voila the plugin was born!  Now, there are over 23,000 different plugins all used for different purposes, and when you start looking at the list of plugins, it’s easy to get a little lost and beleaguered. But a word to the wise, make sure you do your research and read reviews and ratings about plugins. One plugin can crash your entire site, and this is no joke. Don’t be cavalier about what you decide to download onto your site; and before you start getting crazy with plugins always make sure you have good back up of your website.  But don’t be deterred from using plugins, if you do your research and download from reputable sources, then you are good to go and honestly there are some plugins you just can’t live without! Here is a list of must haves:

  1. All in One SEO Pack -Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog (Love this one!)
  2. Google XML  Sitemap -This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com to better index your blog.
  3. WordPress Database Backup
  4. Google Site Verification -One-click Google verification for your website – This is great for veryfiying and indexing your blog on Google. Make sure you have a Google Webmaster Tools account (it’s free)
  5. Bing Site Verification- Same as Google
  6. Contact Form 7
  7. Google XML Sitemap for Videos – same as above but specific for video sites
  8. Simple Pull Quote – This is just a really cool way to pull out certain text and put it in cartoon-like quotations.
  9. Thank Me Later – An automated “thank you” to anyone who comments on your blog, great for your blogger on the go!
  10. Ultimate Google Analytics – adds JavaScript to each page (without making any changes to your template) so that you can track outbound links, downloads from your own site, mailto: links, and more without requiring you to install the code manually. (you must have a Google Analytics account – this is free)

Social Media

WordPress also gives you the option to add all or some of your Social Media pages to your blog/website. Take advantage of this option because this is your way of reaching the outside world, outside of your WordPress family.  And if you don’t have social media pages setup in your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ then do so!  You are missing out on the internet’s biggest party and a key function to SEO! With just a few clicks you can quickly reach numerous audiences and besides what good is a published work if no one can find you and read what you are writing!?

There is a learning curve to all of this WordPress stuff, and at first it might feel overwhelming almost like learning a new language, but in the end if you are willing to get past some minor nuances you will find that this very robust CMS is compelling and intuitive. WordPress is dominant because it gives you a toolbox full of tools, you just have to learn how to use them, when to use them and where to use them. This is something that will come quickly, if you are willing to put in the effort and hours it takes to learn WordPress. Once you’ve done that, the rest is cake! Trust me, learning WordPress will be the best investment in your blogging/website future. WordPress has changed the face of CMS and things are changing rapidly so get on board and be a part of this incredible ride!

True or False, Consumer Reviews Matter

As a business owner, whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for several years, consumer reviews are with us all the way. As it seems, with the perpetual authority of social media marketing, review sites have become more and more ubiquitous. The years have revealed to us some prominent players in the “review’ social media world, Yelp, leading the way and now Google+/Google Local, Yahoo Local, Foursquare following suite as a close second, third and fourth. There is nothing more disturbing or bothersome than receiving a negative Yelp review and to our dismay, the one neurotic mania we all fall victim to as business owners, is that one ghastly review. Not only does this affect your social media metrics, it also affects your psyche as well. By cultivating our social media prowess, we can alleviate that superfluous stress. How do we resolve the great conflict?  There are a couple of things we can do as business owners, but first of all, you have to psychologically eradicate this pessimistic perception that this is the end all be all of your business and really look at this for what it is, a learning curve in this vast world of the ever changing, ever present social media mecca. Here are some helpful suggestions.

You have no jurisdiction over the reviewer, so…

Let it be and control the things you can! The best thing you can do as a business owner is tactfully respond to any negative review; what is an even greater practice is to reply to any positive reviews as well. Not only does it show that you authentically care about your consumer’s opinion, but you are also prepared to reach out to them personally and say, “Thanks” or “I’m Sorry”! Whether you like it or not, good review or bad, that consumer took the time out of their demanding schedule to give you a shout out or a shout down! The best advice I can give anyone, is, respond! Believe it or not, the validation people experience when their words are heard and/or appreciated is invaluable. Don’t blow it off; a thank you or humble reaction is permanently valued. In some cases, it is viable to persuade the reviewer from removing their review from the site all-together. By offering a value add, say 20% /$10 off their next purchase or visit for example; you can generate trust and instill good will and in some cases bring them back as consumer or client. Believe it or not, people will respond to this optimistically and trust me, they will tell their friends and family members. The worst thing you can do is nothing at all…get involved with your consumer base that is reviewing you and reach out to them, this is your chance to reach out to their friends, family, co-workers as well, trust me, it is vital and will be appreciated!

To bury or not to bury?

Another incurable error businesses make is by not understanding the idea of burying a review with solicited positive reviews. This practice doesn’t always work, specifically, with Yelp. Yelp has a propensity to catch those positive reviews in their Yelp net and/or filter. If you haven’t ever already noticed, at the bottom of your review page in very, very fine print there is something glaring called “filtered reviews”. Have you ever wondered where that that solicited review you asked your brother to write went? It’s not that it’s non-existent, it’s discarded into the abyss of “filtered reviews”.  Make Note: Unless the people you are asking to write the review are legitimate Yelpers, their review will be filtered. Don’t learn this lesson the hard way because once that review goes into the filtered net, the likelihood of it coming out, is pretty slim to none and contacting that Yelp sales consultant to help you out, will do you no good, even if you advertise with them. Do not get caught in that tender trap! You can out-do Yelp by soliciting  those satisfied customers that are Yelpers by asking them first if they Yelp and then ask for their review.

Besides Yelp there are a couple of other review sites that everyone needs to check out or use. Angie’s List is a pretty good resource and they are decent at making sure that the reviews on their site are indeed legitimate. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t filter something they feel was illicit.  They will contact the business owner if they feel as if something has been compromised and they take their reviews very serious as their consumers are paying members. Like Yelp, Angie’s List will go so far as to ping IP addresses to make sure that you are not writing your own reviews in house but they will usually contact the business before removing any reviews, usually. Side Note: Advertising with Angie’s List is pretty minimal and has some advantages in my opinion because a paid review site vs. a free one is sometimes more genuine. Google+/Google Local, is beefing up their reviews options and they encourage anyone with a Google account to write a review, anyone. They encourage it so much, they could care less about how you are getting your reviews, whether you are buying them or not, they want that traffic on their site. You have to have at least 3 reviews before they post, but Google does a pretty good job of getting and keeping your information on their site visible at all times and once you sign up and own your business page you have that control as well. Google is now partnering up with the ever popular and well known,  Zagat which creates even more traffic to their site and yours!

Claim/create your review sites

If you haven’t already done so, set up a business account with Yelp, it’s free. Before that, do a search for your business to see if someone has reviewed your business, once you have done this and if your business is indeed listed, at the bottom of the page you can claim it. From there they will have you set up a business site/login and prove to Yelp that you are the business owner, this usually is just a phone call verification process.  Now you have jurisdiction over the information on your site, from pictures and logo, to hours and description, to meet the owner content etc… you have control over pretty much everything other than the reviews themselves.

Google+/Local which used to be Google Places, is a free member only site also.  Which means, there is no charge to use this site as business page or local listing,  but you have to have a Google account, specifically, Google+ to claim and/or maintain the site. It is fairly probable someone might have already reviewed your business and put in the information they deemed correct. You can create a Google+ account and log onto Google local and perform a local search for your business.  If the information is there, you can claim this as your business and also control the content on this page this will also require a phone verification process.

Angie’s List is almost the same except you have to have a paid Angie’s List membership. Yahoo Local has a review site as well which draws from other sites such as city search, YP, etc… Make sure to set up a FREE account with Yahoo Local as well. Foursquare also gives you the option to claim your business if someone has created a check in.

Keep up with the content on your review sites daily 

The information on your review sites is exceptionally imperative to your business. Not only does this help in your Google ratings/analytics but it also gives you more exposure. In addition to this, if there is a piece of information that is inaccurate or a negative review that has been sitting there for a couple of days without a response, this could negatively frown on your business. It is important keep the content current so make sure to check your review sites daily. Update your logo, information, hours of operation, pictures of staff or business where needed and as often as needed. Most of the review sites give you the option to post new happenings or specials as well. Foursquare isn’t necessarily a review site, but it is definitely a legitimate social media site for people to check into businesses and leave tips or suggestions about their experience about that business, so don’t leave that out either! Stay connected, live up to your customers’ expectations and exceed them,  and always, continuously, diplomatically respond to reviews, positive or negative!

 Food for thought: “products with more than ten reviews saw “drastically” higher conversion rater both for the products actually reviewed and for the other products from the same brand.”

Review sites to consider claiming:

Yelp

Google+/Google Local

Yahoo Local

Foursquare

Angie’s List (paid site)