Google Updates Local Packs

  • By creekmoremarketing
  • 11 Aug, 2015

Say hello to the local 3-pack.

Google recently update their local search (or map) results to feature 3 businesses instead of  7. The new 3-pack features a zoomed-in view that takes up less space in search results, but features large "website" and "directions" conversion buttons in desktop results and "call" buttons in mobile results. This change is much more mobile friendly than the previous layout.

What does this mean for your business?

This is a definite game changer. Many businesses are fretting because 3 local search engine results means higher competition and less business for the lower ranking companies, right? Not necessarily. Now, when you click on any local business in the top 3 results, you are taken to an entirely separate page which features ALL the local businesses in the area. (Previously, you were taken to the associated business' Google+ page). Searches can then pick a business based on proximity, online reviews and other factors. So, just because a searcher clicked on your business name, doesn't necessarily mean they will end up visiting your website or choosing to do business with your company. Now, more than ever, it is important for local businesses to get Google reviews. Reviews are a crucial part of local SEO than cannot be ignored. 
Of course, the top 3 ranking businesses will get the most traffic, just as before. But this update, in a roundabout way, is striving to give all local businesses a chance to reach more customers on Google. As always, we don't know if this change will remain permanent or if further updates are soon to come, but we will continue to stay on top of things and go above and beyond for our clients. 
By Elizabeth Burton 07 Mar, 2017
It is important that your business takes the right approach to responding to any online reviews received by customers. The following are some tips to follow when doing so.

Because social media has a place in almost any business these days, it is much easier for customers to share their opinions on, or reviews of, your product or service. Whether it is through a review site, such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, or the BBB, or simply in the comments on Facebook or a Tweet, there are multiple ways for the public to share their thoughts—positive or negative.

SearchEngineLand’s findings for their annual Local Consumer Review Survey in 2014 revealed that 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. But luckily, in the digital sphere, businesses are able to keep up a discussion with customers on these sites. However, it is important to remember a few best practices when doing so.

1. Make responding to comments a priority, but take your time to give the best response.
  • Stay alert as to when a review or comment is posted. Whether you have a social media person or digital marketing representative whose job it is to monitor reviews as they come in, or set a time to do it daily, give each review a well-thought-out response. 
2. Make a plan.
  • Come up with a system that allows you and your colleagues to categorize reviews; maybe just positive and negative, or maybe positive, negative, and serious. Then, decide how you will respond to those reviews. Come up with approved messages that should be shared in different situations, and flag reviews that need additional follow-up.
3. Respond to negative and positive comments.
  • Of course we want to jump in and put a band-aid over someone’s negative review, but there is just as much merit in commenting on someone’s positive comments. While we might feel like a customer’s adverse reaction requires a more urgent response—and in some cases this might be true—thanking someone for a complimentary review can also build relationships.
4. Don’t get defensive.
  • It can be hard to not take negative reviews personally—especially for a small business owner who has put their blood, sweat, and tears into building their company. However, a social media review is no place to pick a fight, or stand your ground. Remember that the review came from a person who has used your service or product and was dissatisfied. Use the opportunity to start a discussion on how you can improve. Even for the most biting reviews, a neutral response asking for a way that the customer can be contacted other than social media is your best bet to professionally handling the situation. When handled correctly, some customers even take back to social media to compliment the company on how they remedied a complaint.

Remember—it is to your business’ benefit that reviews receive a response. In fact, it’s been proven. Medallia released a study last March titled “Responding to Social Media Boosts a Company’s Bottom Line, New Research Finds” which examined data from hotels around the world—both business and customer data. The goal of the study was to “quantify the impact of social media engagement on a company’s revenue growth, customer satisfaction and social reputation.” According to the findings, there is a direct correlation with rate of response to reviews on social media to the number of rooms a hotel sells out. “Properties that responded to over 50 percent of social reviews grew occupancy rates by 6.4 percentage points, more than twice the rate of properties that largely ignored social media reviews,” the release went on to say.

Even though social media has caused a decline in face-to-face communication in all sectors, people still talk, and if you can appropriately handle social media reviews, you’ll be better off when the people behind the reviews do have the chance to give your company a word-of-mouth recommendation.
By Elizabeth Burton 07 Mar, 2017
For small businesses, exposure is everything. But unlike big international brands, integrating yourself into the fabric of your hometown or surrounding area is absolutely integral to standing out amongst the crowd. In our digital age, however, it isn’t enough to have an eye-catching storefront, or to put an ad out in the local paper. Because of this, Creekmore Marketing has some valuable tips on how to build up links within your local area so that your business can be seen and get the attention it deserves.

Testimonials

Before you start constructing additions to your website or reaching out to local media, work with what you already have. No man is an island, and no business works entirely alone. Have you partnered with another business in the past, even for something small? Ask if you can give them a testimonial for their website. No one is likely to turn down a glowing review, especially not from a business partner, and so in exchange, you can ask them to link back to your site. Who knows, you may even get a testimonial for your own business this way.

Manufacturer Links

Similarly to thinking about business partners, are you a retailer who sells a product manufactured by another company? Fantastic! Many manufacturers have websites that list dealers of their products. Reach out to them and see if you can get added to such a list, attaining another link to your site in the process.

Internships

You’ve plumbed the resources you already have; now think about what you need. Interns are a great resource, as they often work for little or no pay, and you can also attain a link to a university by searching for someone to lend a valuable hand to your business. Reach out to universities in your area and see if they can link to your business in an internship database on their site. Many college majors are now requiring internships for students to meet graduation requirements, and so gaining assistance, and a valuable link, should come naturally to you.

Job Posting Websites

Not all interns stay forever. Are you looking for more qualified, long-term help? Job posting websites, forums, and message-boards have the dual advantage of possibly finding you the next great addition to your team, and providing you with a visible link in your area!

Local Sponsorships

We’ve talked about the ways that your community can help your business; now let’s talk about ways that your business can help your community, and gain some links to boot. Ever notice the ads on the outfield banners at your nephew’s little league baseball game? Sponsoring a local sports team is a great way to assist your community, and you can also gain a link from the team’s website. Sports teams aren’t the only community organizations that need sponsor money, though: school theater groups, charities, and church groups all need financial assistance, and could link to your business’s website from their sponsor or donor page.

Scholarship Opportunities

With the rising tuition costs of higher education only getting higher, scholarships are a hot commodity, and are heavily sought-after by both future college students and their parents. Help students and gain some good publicity for your business by offering a scholarship. This will require a little extra work on your part, as the scholarship will require a page on your website that lays out the requirements for applicants, but could get you links from a variety of places. By publicizing the scholarship in local newspapers and their websites, high schools, or anywhere else with a vested interest in education, you can gain links with a great level of visibility, and get some very positive publicity while you do it.

Host an Event

If scholarships are not your company’s style, why not throw a party instead? Local businesses usually have the funds and resources to host an event in their town, and are another great way to get links from newspapers and similar outlets while also generated word-of-mouth buzz from grateful participants.

´╗┐Reach Out to the Newspaper

´╗┐Have you done something noteworthy for your community (like offering a scholarship to high-schoolers or hosting an awesome event)? See if you can get featured in the local newspaper! While you can't exactly embed a hyperlink in a pulp-and-ink newspaper, almost all newspapers now have online counterparts. If you get a write-up in the paper, you'll also probably end up on their website, and if that is the case, you can see if they would link back to your company's website. While some think that newspapers are falling out of fashion, many people still keep up with them, and so getting a link through them is sure to reach a wide audience, as well as endow your business with the credibility that newspapers still possess for their readers.

If you own or operate a small business, embrace what makes that experience so unique and work with the place that you’re in. Your patrons can oftentimes be fantastic resources to get the word about your business out there, and help you show up in local searches on search engines. Get creative, and help use the relationships that you’ve been through your business to your advantage!
By Elizabeth Burton 07 Mar, 2017
Like everything else in our lives, hiring for your company is also digitized. While this may seem impersonal, LinkedIn is a fantastic resource that can help you find fantastic new additions to your company. The fantastic thing about LinkedIn is that it hosts its own internal messaging service, known as InMail, which allows you to get into contact with prospective hires, business partners, or leads directly. But, like with any other sort of interpersonal interaction, there are some things you should know before you start contacting prospects via InMail. Creekmore Marketing has a few things to consider before you strike up that first conversation.

1. The time of day
You want your prospect to give you the time of day, so make sure you take this remarkably crucial factor into consideration. Being a workaholic is falling out of fashion, and so the likelihood of you getting a prompt response after normal business hours or on the weekend is slim. Send your prospect a message when you know they’ll be at their desk to read it and (hopefully) respond to it.

2. Don’t be scared of research
Social media norms would have you believe that digging too far into someone’s personal information before contacting them is a bit creepy, and while that may apply for Facebook or Instagram, it is absolutely not the case with LinkedIn. If you are contacting someone in the hope of hiring them on to your company or collaborating with them, you want them to feel special. Dropping some facts you found from their profile is a great way to make a prospect feel as if you are invested in them, and people are more likely to work for or with a company where they feel as if their skills and accomplishments are being valued.

3. It’s called “LinkedIn” for a reason
Part of the reason why LinkedIn is so amazing is that it streamlines the process of networking and lays everything out neatly for you to sort through from the comfort of your computer or smartphone. Just as you would ask someone you know who knows your prospect to put in a good word for your company, do the same with LinkedIn! If you see that you share a connection with your prospect, drop that person a line and ask if they wouldn’t mind introducing you before you start sending your prospect messages.

4. Brevity is the soul of wit
Like you are, your prospect is probably busy, and may be checking their LinkedIn account between tasks at their current job. Because of this, their time is valuable, and you want to make sure they read your entire InMail message before getting pulled away. Because of this, try to keep your message as short as you can. You want to make sure all the necessary information is there, but you don’t scare your prospect off with a deluge of information. Follow this advice from my former high school English teacher: think of your InMail message as a miniskirt—long enough to cover everything, but short enough to keep it interesting.

5. Everything is subjective
How many times have your eyes completely glossed over an important e-mail simply because the subject line looked so innocuous? Don’t let that happen to your InMail message! Make sure the subject line is sure to stand out amidst their other messages, so that yours not only gets read, it might even get read first.

6. Leave them coming back for more
Just like the personal statement or statement of interest you probably wrote to get the job you have now, you want to make sure that the person you are contacting wants to follow-up and knows how to contact you. Don’t give everything about the position away. Leave enough open-ended that your prospect will have plenty of questions and will reach out to you in the future.

LinkedIn may seem a bit daunting to get the hang of, but it is an excellent resource to make connections, find fantastic new hires, collaborators, and leads. By following these tips, your InMail messages to prospects are sure to catch their eye and generate plenty of responses.


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