I recently started a test drive of a neat WordPress widget plugin called the Google Reviews Widget by RichPlugins. I’m using the free version at the moment which you can download from WordPress.org here. The plugin boasts the following features: Display up to 5 Google business reviews per location Keep all reviews in WordPress database Shows real reviews from G+ users to increase user confidence Easy search of place and instantly show reviews Nofollow, target=”_blank” links Zero load time regardless of your site Works even if Google is unavailable The plugin does what it claims and creates a nice display in your sidebar of up to 5 reviews. The current free version is a bit quirky. I hadn’t really promoted my Google My Business page for this site other than registering some basic information (the cobbler’s shoes phenomenon) so I only recently started supplying the Google Reviews link to clients). When I first installed it, there were only two reviews and the plugin grabbed and displayed those just fine in the sidebar. However, when a third review was added, the plugin didn’t pick that up, even though obviously I was well within the 5 reviews limit. An email to the plugin support page was answered promptly on Monday morning, instructing me to add a sec0nd instance of the widget to force an update (see below) and then delete it once the reviews in the database were updated. This worked, although of course it would be a pain to have to do that repeatedly. I’m not certain whether the authors were suggesting this as a fix if the plugin gets stuck or whether this is a known bug that might get fixed in a future update. According to their support forum, Both plugins (free and paid) use the Google Places API
I recently upgraded a forum to Xenforo 2. This was a major upgrade with a bit of a learning curve to convert everything from the previous version, Xenforo 1.5.21. I won’t pretend it wasn’t challenging but it was made a lot easier by the help and support from four individuals in particular who went out of their way to help during this process and to provide fast support, even on the weekend and late at night to get the forums back online. First, I need to thank two people from Xenforo, for providing advice and support beyond the call of duty: ChrisD and Slavik. Second, Russ from Pixel Exit. Pixel Exit are the designers of some excellent Xenforo forum themes or styles. Russ never seems to sleep! It seems like no matter what day of the week or what hour of the day or night I submitted a question in a support ticket, he was back with a solution usually within an hour or two and sometimes within a matter of minutes. And third, but by no means least, AndyB, the author of numerous addons at XF2 Addons which we are using both currently and in the previous forum software version to add extra features to the forum.
Google still dominates the search market but for small business social media, especially Facebook, may be the best marketing tool. How social networks usurp Google’s local search dominance by Wesley Young, Search Engine Land June 18, 2018 Google may dominate most results, but not local search: How Facebook and other social networks take a significant share of local search away from Google. Google claimed that at the end of 2013, it had 540 million monthly active Google+ users. According to SmartInights, quoting data from StaticBrain (paywall), in 2017, it was estimated that only 4-6 million were active. Compare that to almost 1.5 billion daily active Facebook users. In other words, Google’s social media presence is less than 0.4 percent of Facebook’s. Why social will win local search market share A Local Search Association study conducted by Burke in 2016 showed that word of mouth or referrals from friends and family was tied with company websites for second place among resources that consumers used to look up or learn about local products and services…. According to Nielsen’s 2015 Global Trust in Advertising study, consumers trusted recommendations from friends far more than any other source…. In the US, 82 percent of respondents trusted recommendations from people they know. For comparison, 66 percent trusted online consumer opinions (reviews), 61 percent trusted branded websites, 49 percent search ads, 47 percent video ads and 39 percent mobile ads. …. Is it more likely for Google to attract social users or for Facebook to adopt search and commerce into its platform? Based on results to date, Google hasn’t been successful in several attempts at social media. Yet Facebook has incorporated maps, reviews, recommendations and search functions into its platform. Edge: Facebook. And it seems that the changes are having their desired effect. A recent study by
Here are some ideas for participating in your community and raising positive awareness of your local business… You can’t buy better advertising than this, especially in smaller communities. How Businesses Can Give Back to the Community by Ivan Widjaya, NoobPreneur.com June 9, 2018 Participate in Food Drives If your community ever has a food drive, do what you can to contribute to it and show your good will. Encourage your employees to participate as well… and make sure you don’t forget to arrange for transportation for all the items your company has collected. Sponsor a Youth Organization Chances are good that there’s a youth organization or sports team in the neighborhood in need of a sponsor. Help kids get and stay active by buying them equipment or supplies. Consider offering a space to youth groups needing a place to they can raise money selling candy or cookies. Volunteer If you don’t have the money to help support your community, you can donate your time instead. Look for volunteering opportunities for yourself and your employees, or develop your own. For instance, if you operate an accounting firm, you might offer free classes to help people manage their finances better. Support Local Businesses Support other locally-based business in your community. If there’s one you particularly like, be sure to support it by sending some business their way. Be conscious about how you spend your money, and do what you can to support your local community. Make It Easy for Employees to Support Their Community Offer employees paid time off to volunteer within the community. Look for Ways to Address Local Problems Every community has its share of unique problems. If you’re aware of them, do what you can to solve them. For instance, if you run a restaurant and know there are
Here is another study showing the importance of both smart phones and social media in how the potential customers of local small business research and conclude the purchase of products and services. If you don’t have a responsive internet presence coupled with social media marketing, consumers won’t find you. But they will find your competitors! Nearly 2 in 3 Facebook Users Visit Local Business or Event Pages Weekly by Courtney Dobson, LSA Insider May 29, 2018 A recent Facebook study of over 6,000 local businesses and over 10,000 people around the world found that 2 in 3 people on Facebook visit the page of a local business or event at least once a week. The study defined local businesses as, “one that isn’t part of a chain, franchise or non-profit and isn’t purely online, but has fewer than five store locations in a single market.” Additionally, while ecommerce is seeing growth, in-store experiences offer a personal appeal that is unparalleled to digital experiences. In fact, 87% said trust and security was the main motivator for local-based purchases, and 40% said that the store offers a more personal customer experience. When looking further into the motivations for in-store vs. online, people prioritize things like conveniences, ease and cost savings. According to the survey, the top three reasons people shop in-store are goods being immediately available, goods that are close by and not having to pay for shipping costs. On the other hand, the top reasons for shopping online included not having to leave the house, not being limited to shopping during store hours and comparing costs easily. Mobile-first shoppers, however, pave the way for opportunity, as they seek to interact with and learn more about a business and its offerings. Eighty percent of people surveyed said they use their smartphones to
The No. 1 Marketing Tool Every Business Needs By Rieva Lesonsky, AllBusiness.com December 22, 2017 Do you think your social media presence or your word-of-mouth is so strong that you don’t need a website for your business? Maybe you have amazing online reviews or a stellar reputation in the community. But that doesn’t mean your business can survive without a website of its own. Unfortunately, a surprising number of small business owners seem to view a business website as an “extra” rather than what they really are: an essential foundation for their marketing efforts…. Why is a business website so important? It’s all about control. As a small business owner, you can’t control the algorithms that social media sites use to determine what posts people see. You can’t control whether a crazy customer writes a negative review that stirs up controversy and attracts unwanted attention. You can’t control whether a newspaper subscriber actually reads the ad you placed. On your business website, however, you’re in complete control of the way you present your business, the image you create, and the information you share. And if you use social media marketing, search engine optimization, content marketing, local SEO, and online advertising wisely, you’ll have a great deal of control over whether people searching for what you sell end up on your website. Here are some keys to making the most of your business website: Regularly update your website so it always looks contemporary and fresh. Outdated design elements will make your business look less competitive. Don’t forget about functionality. If your website isn’t working as well as it used to, perhaps you need to revamp some navigation features. For example, your website should be designed to not only look great but also function smoothly on a mobile device. Create high-quality
Is it worth paying for links to your website from directories like the Better Business Bureau or the local Chamber of Commerce? This question was recently raised in a thread at the Local Search Forum and an earlier version of this post was written in response to that thread. One of the questions posed was specifically, “Why are the links nofollow and what is the benefit if any of continuing to pay an annual fee for a nofollow link?”. Basically, is this some sort of scam with no benefit to the webmaster, i.e., a waste of money? To understand why such links are nofollow, you need to understand the history of directories and links. In the early days of the internet, directories popped up as a way of screening out good sites or useful sites for crap sites. There were some good ones back then and you had to provide useful and accurate information or a useful service to be included. And people actually used those directories to find information on the net because they provided something older search engines didn’t: an evaluative component. Sites in the directory could be assumed to be better than sites not in the directory, all things being equal… except of course that all things were not equal because the process of scouring the net and screening sites using human editors could not possibly keep pace with the number of new websites being added every week or month. Then Google happened, one might argue the first search engine that had real value in ranking sites for value to the searcher the way the directories used to. Suddenly links pointing to your site and then to specific pages on your site had real value to webmasters. And that link value meant there was money to be
Keep it Local: How and Why Simple Blogging will Help Your Small Business by Scott W Johnson, NoobPreneur.com October 28, 2017 Step One: The Exact Same Listing, Every Time Before you go and spend tons of money hiring people to do all sorts of search engine marketing, the very first thing you should do is to claim your operation on Google, Yelp, & Hotfrog. Don’t fret if your operation is home based, just follow their rules. Use the exact same way of writing your companies name and address for each and every internet listing moving forward. In other words, do not change up the name of your company from Johns Plumbing to John’s Plumbing; those types of slight differences can wreak havoc. Step Two: The Local Contact Page and Contact Form If you already have a company name and website established you are in lucks way. Make sure your website clearly states your contact information that exactly matches the address of the Google Local listing – on your Contact page. Preferably your website will also have a ‘contact me form’ which will easily allow potential clients to reach out to you for a request for service…. keep the contact form as simple as possible. Step Three: Blog about Business, Blog about Local The first blog post that many people write can seem extremely scary, get over it. Just write it. Your first blog piece should shoot to be over 600 words and contain information about what you do and where you do it. Depending on exactly what you do, people may or may not care about the quality of the writing. … Now you will want to repeat this exercise each and every week for about six months, changing up topics and locales, the more specific the problems of the
Starting a service business? Here’s why you need a website. By Jonathan Long, GoDaddy Garage September 18, 2017 If you are starting a service business like landscaping, carpentry, or carpet cleaning, here are some of the benefits and reasons uou need a website. Why you need a website for your landscaping business Most consumers, no matter what product or service they’re looking for, begin their search online. Now, your business can — and should — use local listings and social networks like Facebook to connect with future customers. But to really do it right, you’ll need a website as well. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, either. A simple, one-page website with the right things is really all you need. If you’re not online, you’re invisible to your customers. When someone is looking for a service like landscaping, they turn to the internet for a solution. For example, a local couple might go to their desktop computer in the evening to look for a landscaper who can handle a large backyard redesign. Another person might remember they need the lawn mowed while standing in line at the coffee shop. On the spot, they’ll pull out their mobile phone to search for someone to do it. Your chances of showing up when they search improves if you have a complete online presence — including a website. Read more…
From Why No Business Is Too Small to Have a Website: The average Canadian spends 45 hours online per month, more than any other nation and almost double the global average… Not only do we love shopping online, but many Canadians also rely on the web to research and to compare products and prices before purchasing… But what about Canadian businesses? It turns out… that over 40% of Canadian small businesses still did not have a website… This not only puts your brand and reputation at risk, but puts your business at a competitive disadvantage…. Why is it that in 2016, a year in which we all walk around with smartphones in our pockets, are constantly looking for a Wi-Fi network, and turn to Google with every question we have, does a business not have a website? Among the expected responses of “I don’t have the time”, “it’s too expensive”, and “it’s beyond my technical expertise” (all of which are common misconceptions), 35% of respondents reported that the reason that they didn’t have a website was that they were simply too small. Why No Business Is Too Small to Have a Website You can protect and build your brand online Your customers are online It gives your business a competitive advantage It doesn’t have to be expensive Read the full article at Why No Business Is Too Small to Have a Website. Contact us today for a quote on what we can do to help YOUR business.