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Google Disabling New Reviews (COVID-19)

Google Disabling New Reviews (COVID-19)

Update: Google reactivation local reviews. Read more here. 

Today is Monday March 23, 2020 and I would be remiss to start this post without acknowledging that a lot is happening in the world right now. We at Pagecafe remain committed to ensuring our customers maintain an informative web presence and strong SEO during this time of uncertainty.

New Reviews and Review Replies Suspended

With that in mind, we wanted to let you know that Google recently suspended new reviews and replying to reviews. This change is due to Covid-19. Your reviews are still visible and people can leave new reviews, but the new reviews will not be visible for a while.

In a Google post published last week the search engine giant announced that it was temporarily disabling and limiting a number of features in Google My Business. 

Health-Related Businesses are the Priority

The focus of the post is to explain that Google is giving priority to  health-related businesses for Google My Business (GMB) updates. For example new listings, special hours, temporary closures, etc.

Older Customer Reviews Are Still Visible

The important info for local business owners is revealed in one single sentence at the end of the post where Google states that “new reviews and review replies will be unavailable during this time.”

Older reviews are still visible on your Google GMB listing. And people can still click to leave a new review.  But the new review will not be shown on the Google listing until the COVID-driven temporary suspension is over. 

You Can Still Ask for a Review and Post Updates

The bottom line to local business owners is that you should still ask your customers for reviews on Google, just be aware that the review will not appear until after the COVID crisis is over. 

You can still post updates and events to your Google listing.  We have been posting COVID related updates to all our clients GMB pages. 

We’ll be sharing more about the impacts of COVID on local business SEO in the coming weeks.

Until then, stay safe!

How Can My Local Business Get Leads Through SEO?

How Can My Local Business Get Leads Through SEO?

If you’re running a local business, you need to choose the right SEO strategy to help your company stand out and get leads. Local SEO is vital to help people in your area find your business. Yet, many local Colorado small businesses still fail to harness its potential. Here, we give you some expert tips to get leads through SEO to attain a higher level of success.

Use Google My Business to Get Leads Through SEO

The first step is to use Google My Business (GMB). List your business here and it will add your business to the Google map of your area. As a result, people in your area searching for your kind of business will be able to find you. Make sure you supply accurate details though!

Get Leads Through SEO by Getting Reviews

Reviews are an exceptionally powerful lead generation tool when you’re considering a local SEO marketing strategy. They offer key social proof your business is doing the best job.

More reviews also mean higher Google rankings. Make sure you list your company properly on the primary review platforms, such as Facebook and Yelp. Then, take the time to persuade your customers to leave reviews themselves. If you get bad reviews, don’t ignore them. Customer service is vital, so always respond professionally, quickly, and accountably. You can turn that negative into a positive very easily.

Use Social Networks

Using social networks to drive up generation of local leads is a great strategy. This approach will boost awareness of your brand. Meanwhile, social shares will create organic backlinks to your website that increase your local SEO visibility.

Creating Relevant Content

Creating local, high-quality content proves extremely valuable when it comes to generating local Colorado leads. Just share your knowledge and you can make your business an authority in the Colorado Springs sector. Focus on the things you offer your clients and customers. Loyal clientele  will improve your reputation, make your business stand out, and attract more shares.

Research Keywords

Identifying the keywords that have relevance to your company will help you get leads in SEO.. Customers will use those words to find companies in their areas. Therefore, using those keywords in your content will make your site appear more often and higher in Google rankings.

Be Mobile Compatible

Being mobile compatible in such a digital age will enable you to get leads through SEO. People carry out more than half of all Google searches these days on mobile devices. Ensure you’ve designed your website to be mobile-friendly. Also, make sure your site loads quickly.

Getting Help with Your Local SEO Marketing

If you’ve followed the tips above but still don’t seem to be succeeding in your local marketing strategy, don’t panic. Pagecafe is here to help you with all your local marketing and SEO needs.

As a Colorado local-focused company, we specialize in helping small local businesses. So, contact our friendly and expert team now to get the advice you seek. We’ll identify any potential pitfalls in your strategy and suggest methods of improvement. With our support and assistance, we can help you get leads through SEO more effectively and quickly.

More on Colorado Business SEO

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Why Hiring Blog Writers Is the Best Approach

Why Hiring Blog Writers Is the Best Approach

When you run your own business, you may know it best, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about hiring blog writers. Though you may know best what you do, not everybody is good at writing. If you’re keen to create a business website or strengthen your brand, hiring blog writers is the best approach. Why? Read on to find out.

Hiring Blog Writers Can Prevent Giving Off the Wrong Impression 

Your blog website content should be free of spelling and grammatical errors and poor punctuation. Grammatical errors give potential clients and customers a bad impression. Clients will question your professionalism. If your content is poor-quality, how can they trust you in other aspects of your work?

However, skilled copywriters are able to create high-quality, error free blog website content. You can always tell the writers what to write, and then let them use their skills to turn your knowledge into a successful blog post.  

Avoid Writer Bias by Hiring Blog Writers

You may be an expert in your industry. However, your clients and customers are not. If you go deeply into details or use jargon that’s only familiar to you, you’ll alienate your readers. Most readers only skim content anyway. If they don’t understand what you’re saying, they’ll move onto one of your fellow Colorado competitors. A blog writer can grasp the concept of your business and present your blog content clearly and understandably.

You’ll Save Time

When you’re running your Colorado business, you have a lot to do and think about. When you hire blog writers, you can save yourself the time and effort of creating your blog web content, freeing you up to focus on more important business-related tasks. You can work on the tasks you excel at, while your writer uses his or her skills for your benefit.

You’ll Get Results

Blog writers may be good at writing, but these writers are also skilled in persuading readers to convert into customers. Effective writing is about sales as much as it is about wording. When your content feels dull and unpersuasive, it’s pointless. 

However, a skilled writer can make your brand more compelling and desirable. With the right blog writer on board, you’ll attract more shares, more readers, and more sales. Your brand reputation will also improve exponentially. 

Hiring A Professional Writer for Your Content

Whether you’re running a new Colorado startup or a well-established company, all businesses benefit from hiring a skilled writer. After all, content is king these days, and your blog web content directly reflects your business. 

If you want to create a good impression and attract more customers, you need strong blog writing. You can also save yourself time and energy by using the skills of a professional with expertise in the field.

Hiring blog writers also gives you access to the latest best practice in the copywriting industry. Skilled writers understand the importance of SEO and will put this knowledge to good use in your blog website content. 

Here at Pagecafe, we have a team of skilled copywriters that can create high-quality content for your site and blogs. With our in-depth knowledge and experience in the field, you can rely on us to achieve your digital marketing goals. Let Pagecafe help your business shine and grow through quality content.

More on Colorado Business SEO 

SEO Web Design: The Secret to Top Rank

How high-ranking local businesses get more Google 5-star reviews

SEO Web Design: The Secret to Top Rank

SEO Web Design: The Secret to Top Rank

SEO web design is a term for building a website specifically for high visibility in Google search.  If you own a local business in Colorado Springs or any urban area that needs to be found on Google, then you need to understand the pros and cons of SEO web design.

We are a web design company specializing in local SEO.  In this post, we answer the question “What is SEO web design?” and explain how web design and SEO go hand-in-hand and the reasons why you need to define your local SEO strategy before you start designing your website. 

What is SEO Web Design?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization which is the art and science of making your website rank higher in Google.  Web design is the process of defining the goals, messaging, structure, look and feel, etc. of a website. 

The term “SEO web design” is the idea that your web design is largely based on the goal of being found in Google on searches using the keywords that your prospects use to find your business.

SEO web design, therefore, is the process of building a business website from the ground up with the intention to rank at the top of Google search results. 

How does SEO affect your website design?

So, what does SEO web design actually look like? Is it a visual component of web design?  Or is it strictly in the words on the website?  

The answer is yes to both questions.  Yes, you can see the SEO in web design both visually and in the messaging on a website.  However, when correctly done the SEO is a natural, enhancing component of the web design. 

Below are just four of the many elements of web design that is founded on SEO.  These four elements have both a visual and messaging – or wording – aspect:

  1. The website will have “landing pages” or individual web pages that focus on a single topic or what we call the “focus keyword.” The goal of each landing page is to be top-ranked in Google for searches using the focus keyword. 
  2. The heading at the top of each landing page will contain the focus keyword, usually at the beginning of the phrase or sentence that is the headings.
  3. The focus keyword will be in the first sentence of the copy of the landing page
  4. The website is built to download fast and be easy to navigate especially on mobile

Those are just four of the more than two dozen ways SEO web design is often applied to an individual web page.

As you can see from the list above the impact of SEO on the web design is in the:

  • Structure – individual landing pages are created 
  • Wording – the focus keyword is in specific locations 
  • Look/feel – the focus keyword is in the headings
  • Technology – the website must be designed to download quickly, especially on mobile

So does the effect of SEO on your website design seem like a good thing or bad thing?  Let’s explore the benefits and costs of SEO web design.

Pros and Cons of Web Design Based on SEO

SEO web design comes with its fair share of advantages and disadvantages.  We list a few of them out below.

Advantages

  1. Your website ranks high on Google thereby increasing visitor traffic to your company website
  2. The visitors to your company website are highly qualified prospects because they need what your website and business offer
  3. Your company’s web site structure and messaging is focused around the needs of searchers, i.e. your prospects, thereby giving your web visitors a good user experience
  4. A local business website is usually better organized, easier to navigate and delivers better content when built around the concepts of SEO web design

Disadvantages 

  1. SEO takes time which will slow down web design and development.  Time is money so the effort needed for SEO can add a significant cost to the website development.
  2. SEO is an ongoing activity that typically takes 8-24 hours per month for a typical local business. This can cost hundreds even thousands a month.
  3. SEO may compel some local business owners to create web content they are not interested in producing.  For example, blogging on a regular basis. How many plumbers do you know that like to blog?
  4. Highly visual and/or artistic oriented websites may object to the inclusion of hundreds of words on web pages that they prefer to be visual. For example, photographers, interior designers, etc. tend to love images and want to minimize text.

What kind of businesses need SEO web design?

You now know that web design based on SEO is great for increasing your web traffic but that it is also expensive.  So do you need SEO driven web design for your business website?  Will a focus on web design and SEO deliver a positive return on investment?

The types of local companies that need SEO based web design are businesses that want to increase visibility, leads and/or sales.  If you need local Colorado Springs residents and businesses to call you or walk in your door, then your business probably needs SEO web design.

Examples of local companies that need SEO driven web design are attorneys, medical practices, personal services, contractors and repair services, professional services and the hospitality industry.

Summary

Your website should be your most profitable resource.  For that to happen, most local Colorado Springs businesses can benefit from SEO web design to increase leads and sales from Google search.  

To learn more about SEO web design request your free SEO consultation.

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How do I get my businesses listed on Siri?

How do I get my businesses listed on Siri?

This post answers the question “Why should, and how do, I get my business listed on Siri?

More and more local businesses are asking me how they can get found when people ask their iPhone for local services provided by home contractors, lawyers and medical practices. Getting your business findable on Siri is actually pretty easy. Let’s dive in and figure out the why and the how of getting your business listed on Siri.

Why Should You Get Your Business Listed on Siri?

Siri is very popular with iPhone users and that popularity will only be increasing as new iPhones get released with performance enhancements to Siri.  A study of the use of voice search for local businesses in 2018 provides the following stats:

  • 46% of people using voice search look for a local business daily
  • 58% of all consumers in the last year have used voice search for local business services

These stats are for all voice searches. Siri has about half of the overall market share with Google Assistant around 30% and Amazon Alexa around 13%.

These stats mean there is an obvious benefit to your business of getting listed in Siri ideally is increased leads and sales. Other benefits include making it easy for people to ask for directions to your business or to find out your business hours.

How Do I Get Siri to List My Business?

Siri uses Apple Maps to find businesses so the first thing is to get your business on Apple Maps.  Naturally, the first step is to check if your business is already in Apple Maps.

Here’s how to find out if your business is currently in Apple maps.

  1. Grab your iPhone and tap the Maps icon
  2. Type the name of your business in the search box
  3. If you see your business name then yes, you’re in Apple Maps
  4. If you don’t see your business then your business is not in Apple Maps

If you didn’t find your business in Apple Maps then you will need to manually add your business using web-based Apple Maps Connect website. This step requires a computer and an Apple ID to log in to Apple Maps Connect.

Here are the steps to add a new business to Apple Map Connect.

  1. Open a browser on a computer or iPad (mobile not supported yet)
  2. Go to Apple Maps Connecthttps://mapsconnect.apple.com/
  3. Click the Sign-in button
  4. Enter your Apple ID – Don’t have an Apple ID? Create one for free.
  5. Keep your phone handy if case you get prompted for a security code
  6. Once logged-in click “Add place” link at the top of page
  7. Enter your business name and city in search box
  8. If your business shows up, click the listing to start claiming process
  9. If your business does not show up, click the link for “Add new place”

Claiming/Editing Existing Listing and/or Adding New Place Information

After completing the steps above you are either 1) looking at your existing listing in Apple Maps or you are 2) looking at a screen to enter your business info.

Both of these steps are similar as you are at the place where you edit or enter your standard business information.  Here is the business information Apple Maps will allow you to enter:

  • Place name (i.e. business name)
  • Status (i.e. open or closed)
  • Country
  • Categories (see note below)
  • Address & Phone
  • Social Media Links (Website, Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, app)
  • Apple Pay (i.e. accepted or not-accepted)

Optimizing the Category

This is an important step as your search results and rankings will be somewhat tied to your category. You can have one primary category and two alternative categories.  Apple Maps suggests predefined categories as you type in the “Categories” box. You must choose a predefined category. Try to fill in all three categories if possible.

Phone Verification

Whether you are claiming, editing or adding your business for the first time the Apple Maps application will require phone verification.  This is a simple process – Apple Maps prompts you to click to call me now and a robot calls and gives you a PIN that you enter to verify.

Final Approval by Apple

Once you’ve completed the steps above Apple Maps needs a few days to complete the final approval of your updates.  Return to Apple Map Connect in about 5 days to see if your business info is correctly shown in your “My places” list.

How to Improve My Ranking On Siri?

SEO for Siri requires optimizing other local directories, with Yelp being the most influential to Siri ranking.   Start with Yelp, then get a system of creating and claiming your local directory listings (aka citations).

The Apple Maps Connect application will supplement your Apple Maps listing with photos and reviews from Yelp.  So go over to your Yelp listing and make sure it is optimized to include great textual descriptions and photos.  Then start a program to get more 5-star reviews from your happiest customers.

As mentioned above Siri optimization requires getting your business listed in local directories.  Local directories are websites that provide profiles for local businesses. There are dozens to hundreds of local directories depending on your industry.  Below are the top 10 general-purpose local directories that you should get your business listed in to help with your Siri optimization.

  1. facebook.com
  2. yelp.com
  3. mapquest.com
  4. manta.com
  5. local.yahoo.com
  6. superpages.com
  7. whitepages.com
  8. dexknows.com
  9. bizstanding.com
  10. chamberofcommerce.com

We in the SEO world call local directories by the geek term “citations.”  One of the most important SEO services local businesses need is citation submission, optimization, and overall management.

Summary

There you have it, the secret to getting your business listed – and found – on Siri is to make sure your business is in Apple Maps and that you have an Optimized Yelp listing with photos and reviews and to have a citation SEO program in place.

Simple!   However, if you don’t have time to do all this yourself then contact us to arrange a free consultation to not only get listed in Siri but to also get a top ranking in Google.

More Reading on Local SEO

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Must-read​ guide for new blog topic ideas

Must-read​ guide for new blog topic ideas

Are you struggling with thinking up blog topic ideas for your small business?

Many business owners are learning that they need to blog to market their local business.  Recent studies show 40% of US companies use blogs for marketing and businesses that blog get 55% more website visitors.

I often get a blank stare from business owners when I recommend they use blogging to market their business.  One of the first questions they have is “What should I blog about?”

This blog describes the process we use for coming up with blog topic ideas for dozens of local businesses, both in Colorado and nationwide.

First things first: Who is the blog for and how do they search for you

Marketing is about building relationships with your prospects. Therefore, the goals of each blog post are to first attract prospects to your blog and second to create a positive impression.    

With these prerequisites in mind there are are two steps you must take before coming up with blog topics ideas. The first is to define the “persona” of your ideal customer. The second is to perform “keyword research” to figure out how these personas search for you.

Customer Personas

Defining your customer persona’s is an industry in of itself with hundreds of blogs, guides, and books dedicated to answering what is a buyer persona.  We are not going into detail on this subject in this short blog.

But I will share a tip for how to visualize the persona for an individual blog post.  Here is the quick and dirty format for the customer’s persona I like to use.

As a prospect of your company, I would like to read about the main idea of this content so I can achieve this outcome.

Here is an example of the above format I used to brainstorm blog topics for an office breakroom equipment and supply company.

As the facility manager of a building with100+ employees and multiple breakrooms, I want to find a local bottleless water dispenser company to determine if they can save us money and be less hassle than the 5-gallofn bottled water dispensers.

Now you have a visual of the audience for your blog post. Let’s figure out what keywords they might use to search for a bottleless water cooler provider.

Keyword research

What keywords does the above persona use to search for your business?  You figure this out using a process known as keyword research.  Like personas, there is a vast collection of how to do keyword research articles on the web.

There are dozens of keyword research tools out there, some costing thousands a year.  Here are two awesome tools that are free and easy to use:

  • Google Keyword Planner– The granddaddy of keyword research tools. Find popular search terms your prospects use to search in Google. Requires a Google AdWords account.
  • Keyword Tool–  Another easy to use keyword research tool that can provide lots of keyword ideas

I used the above tools to research keywords around bottleless water dispensers.  Here is what I came up with:

Keyword Avg. Monthly Searches
best bottleless water cooler 10 – 100
bottleless water cooler for office 10 – 100
bottleless water cooler reverse osmosis 10 – 100
bottleless water cooler service 10 – 100
water filtration cooler 10 – 100
bottleless water cooler companies 10 – 100
bottleless water cooler installation 10 – 100
water dispenser filtration system 10 – 100

 

The “Avg. Monthly Searches” column is a relative indicator of the popularity of these search terms.  The more popular a keyword the better it is for sending prospects to your website. These terms have decent popularity so are good keywords to build a blog post around.

Brainstorming topics around the audience and keywords

So now I have 8 keywords I can blog around that will both address the needs of the persona and drive traffic to my client’s website.  

Let’s see if we can come up with some specific topics for the blog post.  We will do this using the keywords from above and try a few of my favorite automated content idea generator tools.

Answer the Public– I love this tool. You enter a keyword and in seconds you have a list of popular “what, why, how, when, where” search phrases related to the topic. Here are popular questions from Answer the Public I can answer in my blog post:  

  • where to buy bottleless water coolers
  • how do bottleless water coolers work
  • bottlelesswater cooler rental
  • bottlelesswater cooler installation
  • bottlelesswater cooler with reverse osmosis
  • bottlelesswater dispenser hot and cold

Soovie– Similar to Answer the Public with a superfast interface.  This tool shows the popular search phrases by source i.e. Google, Amazon, Youtube, Bing, and Wikipedia.

Amazon– I often use Amazon to research products, reviews, and books on my keywords to get ideas for blog topics. I love scanning reviews to find customer pain points.  The table of contents of related books can be a gold mine for ideas.

This pain point is from an Amazon customer review:  “it stops working once the filter needs to be replaced. now I have to buy its Expensive filterto keep it working”

I learned from this reviewer that bottleless water cools may be expensive to maintain.  I can use this pain point in my blog post to connect with readers.

Brainstorming blog post titles

At this point, you have nailed the audience, keywords and several topics to address in the blog post. Now it’s time to brainstorm titles for your post.

Below are several websites and tools I use when I’m stuck for a good catchy title.

Buzzsumo– This tool shows you the most shared content on your industry topics.  Enter the keywords and see titles for content that uses those keywords.  This is an excellent source for narrowing the topics into a working title.  

Here are two example pieces of content I found on Buzzsumo:

Tweak your biz title generator– This tool gives you every possible generic blog post title word combination ever written.  It also groups the titles into categories for quicker review and lets you download the suggested titles.   

  • Here is one of the hundreds of titles suggested:  “What Donald Trump Can Teach You About Bottleless Water Cooler”

Hubspot Blog Ideas Generator– Headline generator. You enter up to 3 nouns and the tool spits back Buzzfeed style headlines.

Blog Title Generator by SEOpressor. Comes up with generic blog title ideas.  Worth a look.

Blog Post Title Idea Generator by FatJoe.com. Generic titles but some are pretty good.

Bonus:  This tool analyzes your blog title and makes recommendations.  Pretty cool!

Great articles on coming up with ideas

You are not the first person to struggle with coming up with blog ideas.  There are thousands of business owners and content marketers that overcame this challenge and lived to write about it.

Here are 5 of my favorite articles on coming up with blog ideas.

Create the Working Title for the blog article

The final step I take before sitting down and writing an article is to create a working title.

A working title is a temporary title that sums up the message of the blog post.  Sometimes the working title does become the final title, but I find that the working title often evolves during the writing process.

I like the working title to include a hook or promise that grabs the reader’s attention and compels them to click to read more.  The hook helps drive the content of the article.

Examples of Working Titles

Let’s use the persona, keywords, and idea generators to brainstorm working titles.  Here are 4 examples I came up with using what we have so far.

  • The pros and cons of bottleless water dispensers for office break rooms
  • 5 ways bottleless water dispensers are better and cheaper than old-fashioned 5-gallon jug office water coolers
  • Sick and tired of bottled water jugs cluttering your office? Learn the 5 advantages of renting bottleless water dispensers.
  • 5 facts every office facility manager should know about bottleless water dispensers

Get the idea?  Each of the above working titles addresses the persona, the keyword and hook or pain point and voilà you have a working title and topic for your blog post.

Conclusion

In this article I addressed defining a persona, identifying keywords and using several tools to brainstorm blog topic ideas.

Hopefully, this article gave you ideas and tools for generating great topics for your blog, and you are now excited to use blogging to help market your business online.

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