Google search update aims to show more diverse results from different domain names

Another Google search update has rolled out this week, this one deals with domain diversity in the search results.

TeamVFM Local Seo Antelope Valley Google search update aims to show more diverse results from different domain names

Google announced on the Search Liaison Twitter account just now that it has updated its search results to show a more diverse set of search results. That means Google will aim to show no more than two results from the same domain for a particular query in the top results.

More diverse Google results. Searchers, along with SEOs, have complained over the years that sometimes Google shows too many listings for the top search results from the same domain name. So if you do a search for a particular query, you may see 4 or 5 of the top ten results from the same domain name. Google is looking to not show more than two results from the same domain with this search update.

Google said “A new change now launching in Google Search is designed to provide more site diversity in our results.” Google added, “This site diversity change means that you usually won’t see more than two listings from the same site in our top results.”

But not always. Google said it does reserve the right to show more than two results from the same domain name when it thinks it is appropriate. “However, we may still show more than two in cases where our systems determine it’s especially relevant to do so for a particular search,” Google wrote. I suspect this is related to branded queries, so if you are searching for a brand, like Amazon, you likely will see more than just two results from amazon.com listed in the search results.

Sub-domains. Google will generally treat sub-domains as part of the main domain. So if you have blog.domain.com, it will be considered part of the main www.domain.com domain and count towards the two results. Google said “Site diversity will generally treat subdomains as part of a root domain. IE: listings from subdomains and the root domain will all be considered from the same single site.”

Of course, Google reserves the right to treat some subdomains differently, “However, subdomains are treated as separate sites for diversity purposes when deemed relevant to do so,” Google wrote.

Core results only. This only impacts the core results, not the additional search features such as top stories, video snippets, image carousels or other vertical search features listed among the other web results.

Danny Sullivan from Google added on Twitter, “It’s about the main listings, not various other displays on the search results.”

Yes. This is only about the main web search listings. It not including things like featured snippets, map listings, etc.

Unrelated to the core update. Google clarified that this search update is unrelated to the June 2019 core update that began rolling out Monday. “Finally, the site diversity launch is separate from the June 2019 Core Update that began this week. These are two different, unconnected releases,” Google said.

But it started rolling out two days ago and is fully live today Sullivan told us. “It started a little bit about two days ago but went fully live today,” he said.

So technically, your analytics and Search Console data can be impacted by both the June 2019 core update and this domain diversity update. How do you know which one impacted you?

However, Danny Sullivan thinks they are far enough apart that we should be able to distinguish between the two updates:

but yet you announced it so this change will be “noticeable” and thus impact analytics and search console data, right? it would be nice if you would have held off a week to let the June update roll out more before doing this, right? feedback for the team.

We launch things almost every day. Sometimes several in a single day. This is far enough out from the core update release that any stat changes can probably be distinguished.

Not an update. Google is saying this is not really an update and won’t have as much as of impact on your site. Danny Sullivan from Google added, “Personally, I wouldn’t think of it like an update, however. It’s not really about ranking. Things that ranked highly before still should. We just don’t show as many other pages.” Whatever you want to call it, it changed how some URLs are shown in the search results.

It’s not perfect. Yes, you will still find examples of Google showing more than two results from a single domain for a search result set. Google said “It’s not going to be perfect. As with any of our releases, we’ll keep working to improve it,” when they were given an example of a result set that showed too many Yelp.com results:

It’s not going to be perfect. As with any of our releases, we’ll keep working to improve it. You might also try it the way someone in Tustin would do it — “nail salons” or “nail salons near me” or “nail salons tustin.” If you’re in Tustin, you know you’re in CA 🙂

The announcement.

Have you ever done a search and gotten many listings all from the same site in the top results? We’ve heard your feedback about this and wanting more variety. A new change now launching in Google Search is designed to provide more site diversity in our results….

This site diversity change means that you usually won’t see more than two listings from the same site in our top results. However, we may still show more than two in cases where our systems determine it’s especially relevant to do so for a particular search….

Site diversity will generally treat subdomains as part of a root domain. IE: listings from subdomains and the root domain will all be considered from the same single site. However, subdomains are treated as separate sites for diversity purposes when deemed relevant to do so….

Finally, the site diversity launch is separate from the June 2019 Core Update that began this week. These are two different, unconnected releases.

History. Google has updated how the domain diversity works in Google search many times over the years. In 2010, it said it “launched a change to our ranking algorithm that will make it much easier for users to find a large number of results from a single site.” In 2012, the pendulum began to swing back to more domain diversity in search results. And again in 2013, Google said it would show fewer results from the same domain name. Google has probably made numerous changes to domain diversity in search many more times, we just didn’t have a confirmation from Google all of the time.

Why we should care. This can impact those who aim to try to get their domains to dominate for specific queries. This is more often seen in the reputation management industry but can also related to other areas of search. If you do have sites that have two or more pages that rank for the same query in Google, you will want to track and see how this Google update impacts those sites.

via: https://searchengineland.com/google-search-update-aims-to-show-more-diverse-results-from-different-domain-names-317934?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiT0RVNVltTTNNMkkwTjJJdyIsInQiOiJEUllrN0xIQXgzaFJxMWg3cGwzdUFoeTg4VGwwNlh5NmNYN2xnaTQ5QjBGNXhvWXdCNnNQeDhrSjRWTkVEUkVlNnNzdHdNZ0lyZ2UyNVd2QWFMTUVCYUhtMGxaR1hBVEZsMkNtWVBUdjdtUk13bUx6czB1NWU5V0IzcUpWTXJ0TCJ9

 on June 6, 2019

Local Campaigns Coming Soon to SMB Advertisers

This week Google held its massive developer conference (Google I/O). Next week is Google’s annual event dedicated specifically to its ad products: Google Marketing Live. Google teased the event in a blog post, which focused on Local campaigns.

Teamvfm Local SEO Antelope Valley Google Local Campaigns Coming Soon

Local campaigns are a subset of Smart Campaigns, which are almost entirely automated. They’re intended mostly for SMBs and specifically to generate foot traffic to business locations. The ads appear on Google search (including the Local Pack), in Maps, the Google Display Network and YouTube. (Google has been testing them with multi-location brands, which I’m sure will use them in a big way.)

This is Universal App Campaigns for local, which is the model that all of Google’s ad products are increasingly following. Here’s what Google said about Local campaigns in the blog post:

In recent global studies with 10 advertisers across several verticals, we found that Local campaigns helped brands drive a median 5x incremental return-on-ad-spend from their business locations.

Dunkin’ is one example of a brand that used Local campaigns to promote its new “store of the future” experience and to highlight new beverage items like espresso. As a result, Dunkin’ increased its monthly visits from Google Ads by over 400% and is planning to run Local campaigns as an always-on strategy throughout 2019.

Soon, Local campaigns will expand to help even more advertisers–including small businesses—drive other types of local actions like calls or directions to your business, even if you don’t have store visits measurement enabled. We’re also enhancing ads in Local campaigns to help you showcase product-specific information and offers.

Taking a page from subsidiary Waze, Google added that users will see advertiser locations on Maps when they are “planning or navigating along their route, and in Maps search suggestions based on signals like the area of the map a person is viewing or what they’ve searched for in the past.”

This isn’t retargeting per se but a version of it based on past user-search behavior. It’s also form of awareness advertising for local business (and multi-location brands). Indeed, there’s an interesting mix of brand and direct response available to SMBs through Local campaigns.

Will Local campaigns and Smart campaigns fulfill the original promise of AdWords Express? That’s what we’re waiting to find out.

via: Greg Sterling (@gsterling) is the vice president of strategy and insights at the Local Search Association

Report: Websites and GMB Profiles Both Essential for Local Businesses

TeamVFM Local SEO Santa Clarita Valley Google My BusinessWhile information on Google is increasingly essential to connecting brick-and-mortar businesses with nearby customers, it has definitively not rendered local business websites obsolete. That’s according to a new report from local marketing firm BrightLocal.

A whopping 64% of respondents indicated relying on Google My Business (GMB) to find contact information for local business, suggesting it’s an indispensable platform. Yet consumers still trust local business websites most of all, and only 8% say they never consult a business’ website when making shopping decisions.

The information consumers most frequently seek out on Google includes, in the following order of frequency, opening hours, directions, reviews, a path to the business’ website, and photos. Out-of-date contact information ranked number one among errors that could turn a customer off completely from visiting a local store.

Finally, while messaging platforms are all the range among emerging vendors, the trusty phone call remains the most common way to contact local businesses. As in the GMB versus website debate, this does not mean newer tactics are not worth business’ time or financial investments. It just means combining the new with the old is the way to go when trying to be as present as possible in today’s customer journey.

TeamVFM has created a custom Google owned Property Social Media Service for SMBs and companies that have a formal Marketing Plan in place and realize the necessity of having Google My Business, YouTube, Blogger, and Picasa in their marketing plan’s marketing arsenal without having to have them setup individually.

What this means to you as an SBO or are in charge of your companies marketing on Social Media, is all of these SM Platforms will be setup and optimized completely and consistently, so that they fit your over-all marketing plan and work in conjunction, not only in and amongst the Google SM platforms themselves but also with your other Online Presence platforms, including your website. This will provide uniformity and significant cost savings in the long term, while providing a dominant ROI for your over-all marketing.

via: https://streetfightmag.com/2019/05/09/report-websites-and-gmb-profiles-both-essential-for-local-businesses/?mc_cid=1bcc1a459f&mc_eid=9b4273079a&doing_wp_cron=1557439983.8414819240570068359375

Survey: Only 36% of SMBs Have an ‘SEO Strategy’

hallmark-rioseo-Blog_Slideshow_622px

Despite the waning visibility of organic content, SEO is arguably more important than ever. The vast majority of search clicks occur on organic links/content. Yet, according to a survey from Clutch, only 36% of small businesses (SMBs) have an SEO strategy — though an additional 38% say they plan to in the future.

Clutch uses the SBA’s problematic definition of SMB to include firms with up to 500 employees. However there’s a radical difference between firms with two or three employees and those with 75 or 99.

A little more than half (54%) of this respondent pool had 10 or fewer employees, while 22% had more than 50 employees (7% had more than 250) — making the SEO finding all the more striking. One would expect larger firms that can hire agencies and SEO specialists to be more focused on organic visibility.

Clutch SEO survey

Source: Clutch survey of 529 SMBs (2019)

Several years ago SEO was a top digital marketing tactic according to LSA survey data, although different surveys have shown somewhat different percentages of SMBs engaged with SEO over time. In 2016, an LSA survey found 52% of SMB respondents using SEO to promote their businesses. Since that time social media has taken over as the top SMB marketing channel. In 2018, LSA survey data found that 62% of SMBs said they were using social media to promote themselves, while 35% were doing SEO.

According to the Clutch survey, among the 36% doing SEO, the top tactics are:

  1. Social media
  2. Mobile friendly website
  3. Keyword research
  4. Content marketing
  5. Link building
  6. Voice search optimization

Missing from this list are: GMB, listings management/citations and review management. It’s not clear whether these were simply not options in the survey or whether they didn’t register among these respondents.

For the SEO SMBs, the majority (54%) were doing it in-house, 50% were using SEO tools/software, 42% were using SEO consultants or freelancers and 28% were using an SEO agency.

The top metrics used to measure SEO success were:

  1. Website traffic
  2. Conversions/leads
  3. Backlinks
  4. Keyword rankings

So what’s going on here? Are we seeing SEO growing or waning?

SEO is a changing and complex methodology. It’s also not well understood by a large percentage of small businesses.

Social media is more straightforward and less mysterious, which is partly why it has taken over as the top SMB digital marketing tactic. The use of the word “strategy” in the survey question may also be problematic; it may imply a level of sophistication that many of these respondents don’t identify with. Yet they might actually be using some or many of the individual tactics that comprise a “strategy.”

The Clutch survey spins the findings as SEO is gaining among SMBs. However, the internet is 30 years old; Google is 20 years old. SEO is not a novel marketing tactic. It’s a moving target that many SMBs can’t fully understand let alone keep up with.

SEO is often a difficult sale to SMBs, in part because results take time to materialize. Marketing firms that cater to SMBs probably need to stop talking about “SEO” and speak exclusively in terms of outcomes that small business owners care about: visibility, traffic and ultimately customers.

Improve your local ranking on Google

Local results appear for people who search for businesses and places near their location. They’re shown in a number of places across Maps and Search. For example, you’ll probably see local results if you search for “Italian restaurant” from your mobile device. Google will try to show you the kind of nearby restaurant that you’d like to visit. In the image below, Google uses local results to suggest some options.

Google

You can improve your business’s local ranking by using Google My Business.

Can’t find your business? Improve your info.

You may find that your business doesn’t appear for relevant searches in your area. To maximize how often your customers see your business in local search results, complete the following tasks in Google My Business. Providing and updating business information in Google My Business can help your business’s local ranking on Google and enhance your presence in Search and Maps.

Want to edit business information for 10 or more locations at once? Create a bulk upload spreadsheet.

Enter complete data

Local results favor the most relevant results for each search, and businesses with complete and accurate information are easier to match with the right searches. Make sure that you’ve entered all of your business information in Google My Business, so customers know more about what you do, where you are, and when they can visit you. Provide information like (but not limited to) your physical address, phone number, category, and attributes. Make sure to keep this information updated as your business changes. Learn how to edit your business information

Verify your location(s)

Verify your business locations to give them the best opportunity to appear for users across Google products, like Maps and Search. Learn more about verification

Keep your hours accurate

Entering and updating your opening hours, including special hours for holidays and special events, lets potential customers know when you’re available and gives them confidence that when they travel to your location, it will be open. Learn how to edit your hours

Manage and respond to reviews

Interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business. High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location. Encourage customers to leave feedback by creating a link they can click to write reviews. Learn more

Add photos

Adding photos to your listings shows people your goods and services, and can help you tell the story of your business. Accurate and appealing pictures may also show potential customers that your business offers what they’re searching for. Learn more

How Google determines local ranking

Local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence. These factors are combined to help find the best match for your search. For example, Google algorithms might decide that a business that’s farther away from your location is more likely to have what you’re looking for than a business that’s closer, and therefore rank it higher in local results.

Relevance

Relevance refers to how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for. Adding complete and detailed business information can help Google better understand your business and match your listing to relevant searches.

Distance

Just like it sounds–how far is each potential search result from the location term used in a search? If a user doesn’t specify a location in their search, Google will calculate distance based on what’s known about their location.

Prominence

Prominence refers to how well-known a business is. Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking. For example, famous museums, landmark hotels, or well-known store brands that are familiar to many people are also likely to be prominent in local search results.

Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization.

There’s no way to request or pay for a better local ranking on Google. We do our best to keep the details of the search algorithm confidential to make the ranking system as fair as possible for everyone.

via: https://support.google.com/business/answer/7091

 

Tips to Make The Most Out Of Your Google My Business Listing

Google My Business (GMB) is a tour de force when it comes to business visibility and localized SEO. Many SEO strategies and digital marketing efforts start with GMB because it drastically improves a business’ chance of getting noticed.

Digital MediaNot to mention, it’s just a great resource for giving potential customers a one-stop-shop for all of your frequently-searched business information (address, hours, phone number, website, customer reviews and so on).

This post will look at ways to maximize this potential value and make the most out of this resource and its offerings, while sharing some insight into the SEO potential of creating, adding to and managing a GMB listing.

What is the SEO Importance Of Google My Business Listing?

Today’s Google SERPs are loaded with snippet features, local business packs and other helpful resources that make the user’s searching experience more convenient. This means that a business can gain good, top-of-the-page visibility on Google, even if it doesn’t rank as a top result for certain keywords.

Google relies on their GMB listings to create their local business listings, flush out Google Maps and more. Having a GMB listing can even improve your organic rankings. The goal of SEO is to make your business more visible on the Internet and that’s exactly what GMB achieves.

This enhanced visibility is especially noticeable when people are conducting discovery searches. This is when a user searches a keyword term to learn more information and possibly discover local businesses.

This is different than a direct search, where a customer directly searches for your business. A discovery search could be, “bakery near me,” or “best coffee.”

GMBIn a study by Brandify, where they analyzed 6 billion searches, they found that the vast majority, 87.8%, were made with a discovery intent. This means there’s a ton of visibility to gain through these searches, if your GMB is correctly optimized to surpass your competitors.

That said, GMB is also important for direct searches too. When a user makes a direct search for a business, it’s typically to find a specific piece of information, like a phone number or address.

Google My Business perfectly encapsulates all of that information into a convenient box for your customers to find; they never even have to visit your website to have their questions answered.

Again, you can’t over emphasize the importance of this free tool, in terms of SEO and other aspects.

Tip #1: Fill Everything Out

As you create your GMB profile, Google asks a number of questions about your business. It’s important that you make the best effort to fill out every category and answer each question.

There’s two reasons for this. First, you don’t want a potential customer looking for your website or phone number and being unable to find it. Second, other people can add missing information to your GMB listing and even suggest edits. Thus, to ensure that your listing and all of its information is correct and posted by you, it is best to fill out all of the information asked.

Google has recently added a business description option that gives you 750 characters to tell your business’ story and add a little depth to your listing. This is an important place to begin plugging in your keywords.

Note: Only the first 250 characters are visible in your listing’s panel, until the user asks to see more. So, when you are crafting your business’ description, you really want to make sure that those first few sentences are informative and say everything that your customers need to know.

Tip #2: Create Posts & Add Content

After you’ve created your profile, there’s other features and content you can add to your listing. This is where you can really begin to target keywords and build the authority of your listing. You can also add pictures or videos (up to 30 seconds) of your sales floor, building or products to give people a sense of your business before they visit.

If you’re adding pictures or videos, be sure to appropriately name them. For example, instead of leaving a picture as “001.jpg,” you should rename it to something like, “SallysBakeryGAStorefront.”

Google Posts is a relatively new feature added to GMB that allows a business to add blog-like posts to their listing. One case study found a pretty strong correlation between these posts and an improved ranking.

In some cases, they were able to move several positions, with just one or two posts a week. Thus, this is a great, low-effort way to optimize your GMB and potentially raise your local SEO rankings as well.

Tip #3: Take Advantage Of Other Relevant Features

Depending on your business and industry, there may be other GMB features that can enhance your business. While utilizing these features may not improve SEO efforts, they will provide great value to users and enhance your existing customer experience.

For example, the bookings feature means an appointment-based company can allow customers to schedule a visit right through the GMB listing. These new appointments integrate with your existing scheduling software, so there’s no confusion or accidental double-bookings.

This convenience is really unmatched. Imagine a customer that searches your business for a phone number to call to schedule an appointment. Suddenly, they are booking their appointment right through your GMB listing and they’ve never had to pick up the phone.

By eliminating unnecessary steps in the scheduling process, it actually helps to encourage more people to make appointments.

Alternatively, if your business is a restaurant or service-related, adding your menu or list of available services is another important aspect of building a successful GMB.

Your business likely already gets many questions related to your menu/service offerings. Including this information on your GMB will create the opportunity for customers to answer these questions on their own and without the inconvenience of having to call and ask.

Tip #4: Communicate

A lot of user-generated content and interactions take place on the GMB platform, especially through reviews. Customers can also message a business directly or ask a question for an owner or another customer to answer.

Once you’ve created your listing, it is important to pay attention to these interactions and reply back to any reviews, questions or comments.

google my businessThe more communicative you are on your listing, the more approachable your business appears. It demonstrates that you are dedicated to your customers and want to be able to serve them to the very best of your abilities.

Plus, 30% of users claim that they judge local businesses by their ability to respond to reviews and questions. It might even encourage other customers to submit questions or a review.

Tip #5: Encourage These Types Of Interactions

These interactions, especially customer reviews, are very important. It makes your listing more complete, adds to the potential keyword exposure and can make your business seem more trustworthy.

Almost all consumers today rely on online reviews, to some degree, as a way to judge a business and its practices. Many of these consumers trust a review, even by a stranger, as much as a personal recommendation.

Like the importance of creating a Google My Business listing, the importance and impact of reviews can also not be stated enough. That’s why it is good to get into the habit of asking customers to submit reviews. Many people will be pleased that you’re interested in their opinions and will happily oblige.

When your listing appears as part of the search results, a selection of reviews will appear next to your listing. The more positive reviews you can accumulate, the less likely that the inevitable negative review won’t appear next to your listing.

When you do receive a negative review, it is especially crucial that you respond and resolve the issue in a timely manner.

Consumers understand that businesses have their off days or customers can be particularly unruly. A negative review isn’t a death sentence, as long as you handle it appropriately and politely.

Tip #6: Pay Attention And Measure Results

Answering questions, replying to messages and responding to reviews should all be done in a timely manner. You don’t want a user-submitted question to be lingering for weeks or a negative review to go unchecked.

This means you want to routinely check in on your listing, make sure all of the information is still correct and respond to any new user interactions. Google does allow you to turn notifications on, so the service will alert you when there’s been a change made.

This is perhaps the best and fastest way to get notified of changes to your GMB.

Google also has a lot of helpful, data-analyzed insights about your GMB listing. Your GMB data can showcase how many new people found your business through the listing and how they arrived at that information.

Did they come from clicking your business’ pin on Google Maps or did they come right from a SERP and, if so, what search terms did they use?

By understanding how your customers are discovering your business, what sort of information they are looking for and what their next step is, you can better adjust your listing and other efforts.

These insights may provide you with key info on formulating a better keyword strategy or where you need to target your other digital marketing efforts.

Tip #7: Stay On Top

The more time you spend adjusting and improving your GMB listing, the better optimized it will be and the easier it will be to maintain a top result. The Google Local Business Pack pulls the top 3 most relevant local businesses to the user’s query.

Ranking well enough to be in this top group is very important, as these are the only three businesses that will appear, until the user clicks to see more businesses.

By frequently posting updates and responding to reviews, questions and messages, your business will begin to grow a local and loyal customer base, just as your search rankings will grow also.

via: https://authoritylabs.com/blog/tips-to-make-the-most-out-of-your-google-my-business-listing/
local marketing

About Ashley Ward

Ashley Ward is the Founder of Madhouse Marketing, a digital marketing agency in San Diego, specializing in content and social media marketing. Speaking both internationally and throughout the US, Ashley regularly teaches workshops and speaks at conferences like Pubcon, BrightonSEO, SearchLove, Digital Summits, Retail Global, and the prestigious SMS Sydney. Ashley has also co-authored the best-selling book “The Better Business Book V.2” and is a contributing writer to industry blogs such as Search Engine Journal and AuthorityLabs.

The end is nigh for Google’s failed social media experiment Google+.

Really, “failed” seems a bit harsh – Google+ did actually facilitate a range of well-informed, engaged communities, just not enough to make it viable for Google to maintain.

As you may recall, back in October, Google announced the coming G+ shutdown, giving it a deadline of August 2019, but they then updated that advice on the back of a privacy bug, expediting the closure to April. The final official day of Google+ has now been locked in – April 2nd, 2019. The day that Circles will come to an end.

Google+ logo

As explained by Google:

“On April 2nd, your Google+ account and any Google+ pages you created will be shut down and we will begin deleting content from consumer Google+ accounts. Photos and videos from Google+ in your Album Archive and your Google+ pages will also be deleted.”

If you have anything you want to keep from G+, you can download and save your content here. Note that photos and videos backed up to Google Photos will not be deleted.

“The process of deleting content from consumer Google+ accounts, Google+ Pages, and Album Archive will take a few months, and content may remain through this time. For example, users may still see parts of their Google+ account via activity log and some consumer Google+ content may remain visible to G Suite users until consumer Google+ is deleted.”

In other words, the ghosts of Google+ may float around the web for a while after April 2nd, but that is what they’ll be – ghosts. The platform will be gone, no more. Time to say goodbye.

Google also notes that Google+ community owners and moderators can download and save their data, with additional information available for download from early March 2019, “including author, body, and photos for every community post in a public community”.

“If you sign in to sites and apps using the Google+ Sign-in button, these buttons will stop working in the coming weeks, but in some cases may be replaced by a Google Sign-in button. You’ll still be able to sign in with your Google Account wherever you see Google Sign-in buttons.”

Basically, the closure of Google+ is now being put into motion, and any and all G+ connected tools are slowly going to stop functioning. This is probably most relevant for your email signatures and contact options on your website – if you’re a social media advisor, probably best to remove that G+ link soon, or you could risk looking like you’re out of touch with the latest developments.

As Google+ winds down, Google has been putting more focus on adding in social-like features to search in order to provide more business connection options through its main offering. It’s not the same, it’s not a social network, and it is a bit sad to see all those impacted communities on the platform. But the time has come, and you need to prepare.

The countdown to the end of G+ is now reaching its final stage.

Google My Business Attributes are highly visible statements about your business that appear on your Google My Business listing. They indicate things like Payment Options, Amenities, Accessibility, and Highlights. Does a business provide parking? Does it have a fireplace? Can customers pay with a debit card?

These and many other facts about a business can be shown to both customers and just as importantly, to Google. They are used in combination with other aspects of an online presence to help Google rank the listing.

Google My Business Attributes are important to consumers and they are important to Google in making sure the right results are shown to a searcher. It is a quick and effective way for an owner to communicate what may be important to a customer.

Some of these attributes are optional and others are more subjective and not editable. All attributes importantly communicate to Google and to customers both who you are and what is available.

The History of GMB Attributes

Google began making attribute management available through the Google My Business API in May of 2016. It was very limited in scope and was expanded in September of 2016.

In December of 2016, Google began rolling out the new attribute features in the Google My Business dashboard to allow business owners the ability to manage their own attributes. These attributes were only available to a select number of industries such as Food and Service-related industries. The number and choices for attributes were limited in this rollout.

Google My Business Attributes Today

We now see Attribute Management in nearly all forms of industry and verticals. The choices and number of attributes has grown exponentially, as is seen in the image to the right. Businesses in different categories will have different choices available to them in the attributes menu. GMB attributes are currently broken into two separate types – Objective and Subjective.

Objective Attributes

Objective attributes are still subject to updates from Google and from users, but these can be mitigated through the Google My Business dashboard. Choose attributes that only describe your business in reality. Providing false attributes could result in the removal of those attributes by Google. Another possible result from an untrue attribute could be a negative review.

True

True

False

False

Not Present

Not Present

Subjective Attributes

Google describes these as “What your business is known for.” These are attributes given to a business by Google through a number of sources including user-generated responses. Users who frequent a business may be asked by Google what they know about the location, and those responses are calculated. These attributes cannot be influenced directly by the listing owner through the Dashboard the same way Objective Attributes are managed. For popular locations, the results from those responses can be viewed through the insight dashboard:

Subjective Attributes

How Attributes Are Featured In Your GMB Listing

Attributes can be used in searches and both attribute types can be viewed in the knowledge panel of any listing both from desktop and from mobile:

GMB Attributes

As Google’s results become more personalized, we can expect this feature to become even more important. Google will attempt to provide searchers with more tailored results, based on these attributes when voice search is employed. A good example of this would be when a long-tail keyword is searched such as, ”where is a pizza restaurant that has a kids menu and parking”. Google will be able to quickly index the request and based on what business owners and customer have provided.

Closing Thoughts

The importance of proper attribute management cannot be understated and it’s just a part of the many things we manage with the Local SEO Service at V Digital Services. Contact us today and let us manage your local customer’s user experience.

Digital is the name of the game in the world of marketing and has been for quite some time. Thanks to digital marketing techniques, even the smallest brands have been able to attract new customers, build lasting relationships, and expand their reach. This is easy enough for companies that operate on either a national or local level, but what happens when they do both?

In other words, how does a franchise marketing team adjust their digital marketing strategy to target local leads in their individual locations? In this guide, we will discuss some of the various tactics, best practices, and methodologies used in franchise marketing to achieve better local visibility and better targeting of local customers. This guide is not just for marketers. If you are a franchisee, franchisor, or handle local listing management for a franchise location, this guide is also for you. Now, let’s get started.

What is Franchise Marketing_

What is Franchise Marketing?

If you’re new to marketing for franchises, then it’s a good idea to quickly cover the essentials of what it is. Franchise marketing is a multi-tiered marketing plan whereby a company must craft marketing campaigns for franchises in specific locations, while also adhering to a broader strategy at the corporate level.

If it sounds complicated, that’s because it very well can be. When you own a franchise location, corporate will want to keep a hand in marketing to ensure consistency and quality control across the board. Local franchise owners will, however, be allowed some creativity to tailor ads to meet not just the cultural and socio-economic needs of an area, but also legal requirements.

Traditional vs Digital Marketing

Traditional vs Digital Marketing

From renting billboard signs to creating ads that run on game day and paying A-list celebrities to be brand ambassadors, traditional marketing is expensive. While these are still effective methods of generating leads and attracting customers, due to the high cost, they are better left to corporate. Local franchises who want to maximize their profits should focus most of their energies on digital marketing.

This helps to boost profitability by improving sales and cutting down advertising costs.

Even so, traditional marketing still serves a place as a complement to digital marketing strategies: a connection which we will discuss in greater detail later on in this guide. Here are some of the many marketing tools that are effective at the corporate and local levels.

  • Social media marketing
  • Pay-per-click advertising
  • Website search engine optimization
  • Video marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Text message marketing
  • Data analytics

Keep in mind that not everything on this list directly boosts SEO. Some items merely boost visibility or awareness, which increases the effectiveness of SEO tactics. It is one thing to be discoverable, but even better to be recognizable when you are. Also worth noting is the fact that not all of these tools will be beneficial to your specific brand.

To decide which methods will best suit your marketing goals and business type, you must consider how the demographic you serve prefers to engage with brands of their choosing and what forms of communications resonate best with them. Once you have these figured out, you can implement the specifics detailed in the rest of this guide.

Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing Strategies for Franchises

When it comes to digital marketing, one of the first tools that is often called upon is social media. That’s because social media is one of the best tools for increasing awareness of your business at both the corporate and franchise level if properly managed. If not properly managed, then you can create a mess of inconsistent messages intermingled with confusion over who has access to what account. Here’s the best way to organize this.

Corporate Level Social Media Marketing

There should be one social media account per platform at the corporate level, which is handled only by the professionals at corporate. Depending on your business and the demographic it serves, this could include LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. These main accounts should either forego using an exact physical location or use the address of corporate. In the case of Facebook, it is best not to use an address at all, so you can use the locations feature to pinpoint franchises in different locations.

As the fount from which the rest of social media marketing strategies will spring, it’s a good idea to create a Best Practices Social Media plan for franchisees to use. A good plan book will detail the following.

  • Basic social media marketing strategy guidelines
  • Tips on how to find local professionals to assist with marketing
  • Any social, religious or moral convictions that must be upheld in the branding
  • To what extent corporate’s social media posts and general content can be copied or duplicated
  • Keywords and hashtags used to boost SEO

Local Level Social Media Marketing

Before creating social media handles for a local franchise, it’s important to check with corporate to ensure this is allowed. Note that another franchise location receiving permission does not guarantee that you will. To increase your chances, have a hired social media agency at the ready to prove to corporate that you have professional assistance to steer you and your marketing campaign in the right direction. It may also be worth it to speak with other local franchises and propose shared social media accounts for the location, such as @VDigitalPHX or @VDigitalLA to complement a corporate handle of @VDigital.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Pay-Per-Click Advertising Strategies for Franchises

Most social media platforms offer some type of PPC advertising. The ones that are best for you will depend on the platforms you have identified as being best for your business.

Corporate Level Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Digital advertising on social media is a great way to get your ads in front of more eyes, while only paying for the level of engagement it attracts. Here are some of the PPC offers corporate should not miss out on.

  • Google: Almost every business uses Google ads. The reason for this is simple. Google owns the vast majority of the search engine market, so the searches you would most likely want to appear in belongs to Google. Why not pay for your spot?
  • Twitter: Twitter ads are one of the most expensive you may come across with monthly payments of $99 to use their Promote Mode option. However, if you have several hundred dollars to dedicate to this each month, it does pay off as the price helps to keep ad competition low.
  • Facebook & Instagram: Facebook ads are more affordable and tend to deliver more value for your money. Facebook pages are also arguably better formulated for generating business leads than Twitter.

Local Level Pay-Per-Click Advertising

When it comes to PPC advertising, local franchises are better off using Google, Facebook, and Instagram as PPC platforms. The effectiveness of these three outlets make Twitter ads an unnecessary luxury item. However, if Twitter is where most of your customers and clients hang out, and corporate okays the local use of Twitter, Twitter ads may be worth looking into.

Website Search Engine Optimization

Website SEO Strategies for Franchises

Website SEO is an integral part of marketing for businesses of all size. This is because SEO expands a company’s organic reach and continues to bring in website traffic as long as the keywords chosen remain relevant. When the effectiveness of a specific keyword changes, it’s a simple task to update content to reflect that. This helps to ensure that when someone googles relevant topics related to your business, your website will rank high in searches.

Your goal should be to land in the first three spots because most people don’t look beyond the first three results. Here are a few things you need to make sure you rank in the first three spots as often as possible.

  • A strong online presence to attract do-follow links from local news agencies, government bodies, and charitable organizations.
  • Content that is unique, engaging and provides a solution to the question asked or topic broached in the search bar.
  • A website that loads quickly and is optimized for mobile use.
  • A website that is properly coded so that search engines can easily find, crawl and index the pages.

Corporate Level Website Search Engine Optimization

As in all other areas of franchise SEO, corporate is expected to lead the way. If the corporate website is doing well and generating large amounts of traffic, then all others will benefit. This is true even when all local franchises are expected to build and manage their own websites, because a successful corporate website helps to spread awareness and boost credibility for the brand itself. If corporate has a formula that has been working well, it should pass on this information to the local franchises, so they can benefit from HQ’s wisdom and experience.

Local Level Website Search Engine Optimization

Not all franchise companies will allow you to build your own website. However, it doesn’t hurt to ask. And, while you’re at it, see if you can get a hold of the keywords corporate has been using. By using those same keywords on your own local website and social media pages, you will be able to piggy-back off corporate’s success. However, to boost your local ranking, you should add location tags, such as, “SEO services in Phoenix” instead of just “SEO services”. This indicates to Google that the services you provide are relevant to a specific location.

Another way to improve your local SEO ranking, particularly with Google, is to ensure your franchise is listed on Google with the following information.

  • Physical address
  • Opening hours
  • Phone number
  • Website

Depending on your type of business, you may be able to add additional information. For example, if you own a restaurant, there is usually an available slot for a menu.

Quick Tip: Be sure to clean up local listings to prevent the SEO nightmare of duplicate entries. Duplicate entries will only cost you customers and needless embarrassment down the line. It may also not sit well with corporate, who may then seek to tighten the marketing reins.

Video Marketing

Video Marketing Strategies for Franchises

Did you know that YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine? This shouldn’t be too surprising when you consider that Google owns YouTube. Naturally, because of this, the two combine forces in the SEO world to produce amazing results. In short, Google gives special favor to its own videos on YouTube and ranks these higher up in its search results.

However, publishing on YouTube isn’t the only way you can use video marketing to your advantage as a franchise. Here are some of the many ways video marketing is useful at both the corporate and local level of franchise SEO.

  • Use videos to humanize your brand and inject humor into your social media stream.
  • Tutorial videos are a great way to demonstrate how to use a product or service your business provides.
  • Videos can help you share the story of your brand and how your business grew to its current status.
  • If your company participates in local events or encourages workers to volunteer, use videos to showcase that involvement while giving your charitable employees a moment in the spotlight.
  • Videos are far more likely to go viral than a full-blown article, increasing your likelihood of exposure.
  • If your business features a service component, like personal training at a franchised gym, videos are a great way to create webinars or presentations to showcase your level of expertise.
  • Few businesses operate in a bubble. Most companies must partner with other brands to bring their businesses to life. If your business is contracted to work with a specific brand, consider exchanging product reviews. For example, a restaurant could review the brand of pasta they use for their secret in-house recipe, and the pasta company could review the restaurant that uses their pasta as a key ingredient.

Email Marketing

Email Marketing Strategies for Franchises

Before saying anything else regarding email marketing, let us first emphasize that we are referring to opt-in email marketing. When people choose to receive your newsletters, it’s a good sign that they’ll actually open your newsletters when you send them. This helps to generate more leads and potential sales.

Corporate Level Email Marketing

While all other areas of marketing so far have primarily been aimed at reaching customers, corporate should consider using email marketing to grow the franchise business by focusing on more B2B communications. The primary groups you should try to reach are as follows.

  • Vendors and suppliers
  • Administrative staff
  • Current and potential franchisees

Quick Tip: Be sure to utilize different mailing lists for each of these categories. This helps to ensure people don’t receive content that is not relevant to their interests.

Local Level Email Marketing

The great thing about email marketing is that it’s the one form of marketing so far that corporate may not try to control or curtail. This is because email marketing goes directly to individuals and is not published publicly.

Unlike corporate, local franchises should use email marketing to reach out to customers. Here are a few share-worthy ideas to send to customers and clients.

  • Upcoming events
  • Recent accomplishments with thanks
  • Coupons and special offers
  • Involvement in local charity events

Quick Tip: If corporate won’t allow you to run your own branded website, use social media and a lead form to build your mailing list. If social media isn’t allowed either, then the next tip is for you.

Text Message Marketing

Text Message Marketing Strategies for Franchises

Text message marketing is another form of opt-in direct marketing that can yield great results when done right. Because text messaging is more personal and informal, this strategy will be best used by local franchises, but there are some uses for corporate.

Corporate Level Text Message Marketing

When there are offers and promotions that are applicable across the board, sending text messages from corporate to customers is a good idea. Corporate can also utilize texts to send messages that encourage social responsibility in various forms, such as requesting donations on behalf of established charities after a natural disaster of national importance.

Local Level Text Message Marketing

As previously stated, text message marketing better serves franchises at the local levels. Local franchises can use text message marketing to grow their customer base in a number of ways. Here are just a few.

  • Some companies have successfully created platforms to handle customer complaints through text messaging. Serious complaints are usually escalated directly to the manager.
  • You could use text messages to provide coupon codes that people can redeem online or in person, whether it’s a free cup of coffee or a complimentary hour with a personal trainer at the gym.
  • Text messages are a great way to rally support for local charity events the company may support, such as, charity 5K runs, blood drives, and toy donations. Even when it doesn’t lead to a big turn-out, it nonetheless sends the message—literally—that you are actively involved in the betterment of the community.

Data Analytics

Data Analytics for Franchises

Truly, there is no point in investing in marketing or PR strategies if you don’t also invest in tools to track the effectiveness of the strategies you implement, and how well they complement your business goals. Here are a few questions you need to be answered regarding all the hard work and money you spend on your marketing campaigns.

  • What kind of content are your followers engaging with more than others?
  • What marketing channel is generating most of your high-quality leads?
  • What is your conversation rate?
  • What is the click-through rate on your PPC ads across various platforms?
  • What demographic primarily engages with and does business with your brand, and at what locations?
  • What time of day, week, month and year is busiest for business?
  • What time of day, week, month and year is slowest for business?
  • What is the monthly, quarterly and annual ROI of your marketing campaigns?

If social media is a big part of your marketing plan, then you may be able to take advantage of free insights and analytical tools from companies like Google, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. However, for in-depth analysis, you will need the help of professionals.

Get Professional Assistance From Franchise Marketing Experts

These days, the DIY culture is going strong. From businesses to individuals, everyone is looking to do more with less by getting some of the work done on their own. This is commendable, but some tasks are best left to the professionals. Due to the complicated and multi-layered level of marketing for franchise businesses, this task definitely makes the list of things better left to the experts.

The good news is, you won’t need to look very far to find a marketing agency that is accustomed to working on franchise marketing campaigns at both the corporate and local level. Like you, we are a large business with offices spread out in multiple locations, from Seattle to Miami.

We combine this personal experience with our professional qualifications to bring you marketing campaigns best suited to the complex needs of your franchise business. For more information on how we can help to streamline your marketing campaign and grow your business through improved SEO, email us via our contact page, today. We look forward to hearing from you.

This is my second post in the “who the f knows” series.

And it relates to Google now showing the book or schedule button in the 3 pack. Or not showing as the case may be.

When your boss comes and sees you and asks why are your booking buttons not showing you can either say “who the f’ knows” or the current, more accurate variant “Only Google f’ing knows”.

On a tangental a note, these book buttons were first spotted in the SERPS by Sergey Alekov in February when Google released Reserve with Google in Canada. I don’t think they showed in the SERPS reliably at that point.

In fact they still don’t show in the SERPS reliably.

Over the past day or two I have spotted the following desktop and mobile variations involving or not involving the booking button as the case may be.

Mobile variants:

Alphabet Inc.CanadaGoogleDesktop Variants

Sergey Alekov World Wide Web

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.