Free and Easy DIY Google for Small Businesses

I am always amazed at the number of people at seminars who dont know about the google platforms, tools and applications available freely to them via a google account!

Here are a few for starters for you!!

google places, otherwise known as google maps is a superb advertising opportunity for any small business online, search for any service and location on google these days and you will more often than not see a map and business results shown to you first off.

updating your businesses places profile can position you well for your potential local customer base.  It can be rather like that rare treat when you found the right page first time in our old friend the yellow pages directory

verifying your listing is pretty simple, go to http://maps.google.co.uk , search for your business, and visit the page, click then on ‘verify my business’  unless you are a startup you are likely to already have a basic listing, a result of googles bulk content building strategy, if not then you can add your business on Google Maps

you will need log into your google account, if you dont have one you can create one by clicking on sign in at the top right of the google home page and then Create an account now

you can update the basic contact details of your business, add a website link, add photos (enhances your listing) add categories and a description, and the geographic areas in which your business operates to expand your ranking potential.  Plus lots of other additions such as promotions, opening hours, payment details, reviews, webpages and more  such as your google street view.

As a tip you can move a street view location if you dont wish it to be found under your listing, I found my moving it to a local focalpoint, a little known chapel ruin built into granite known as ‘roche rock’, all trace of street view disapeared from my listing, (therefore removing streetview from a google places listing). I cant confirm why, perhaps the mismatch of locations but it seemed to work! Handy for those who run their businesses from home and dont wish their properties to be associated or ‘viewed’.

On top of this google give you a basic analytics page for your google places profile so you can see impressions (how many times your listing was shown) and actions (how many clicked through for more information), it also shows you the keyphrase searches for these referrals.  And if you dont already utilise google analytics to monitor your own website, its far better than the basic hosting stats you may have glanced at once or twice

all this is free of charge, and requires only some commitment of time.   When you want to revisit go to google home and in the top right click ‘settings’ then Google Account Settings, here you can also add tools such as google alerts, verify and monitor the ranking of your site with webmaster tools.  If you sell products online list your products in google shopping (merchant centre) free of charge.

And there are more tools and apps besides, including your free and friendly google thesaurus https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal and www.google.com/trends for basic online  market research

If you want to try some cloud computing, then google docs provides you with online admin programs and storage, as well as google mail and calendar


Google – search ‘google’ on www.google.co.uk !!

submit your content http://www.google.com/submityourcontent/index.html

http://www.google.com/addurl/
– add website – although your site will usually be indexed automatically

Google Keyword Tool : https://adwords.google.co.uk/select/KeywordToolExternal

Google Analytics Blog  http://analytics.blogspot.com

https://adwords.google.com/select/TrafficEstimatorSandbox – traffic estimator

keyword tool  www.google.com/sktool/

research online market trends www.google.com/trends

statistics software for your website www.google.com/analytics

google places http://maps.google.co.uk

find out when someone mentions a keyprase with an email alert, eg your business name www.google.co.uk/alerts

googles blog covers all this and more in detail http://googleblog.blogspot.com

webmaster tools – find out what keywords google ranks you on www.google.com/webmasters/tools/

http://www.google.co.uk/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769

google on!

Did you find this post useful?

Whats your favourite google toy?!

Belinda

Belinda Waldock

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Web Site Review : ‘Call to action’

call you customers to action!!

engage with your visitors and call them to action!

Calls to action on your website are key to ensuring your site generates not only traffic but business

What is a call to action?!  It’s the buzz phrase at the moment in website usability, its all about ways to improve your conversion and retention rates.  Following the boom of pay per click, it has become all important to justify return on investment.

As you would expect in a high street shop, its not necessarily good enough to get the customer through the door to ensure a purchase.  We have infinite options as buyers online, and you need to engage to make me think twice about making a purchase or enquiry with your business.

A call to action is exactly that, a request to your visitor to carry out an action that benefits them and your business.  Whether a click, purchase, enquiry, review, like or any other action you might like your customer to experience.  To do this you have to engage and convince them its a good idea.

This shows itself in every aspect of online sales and marketing, not just at the checkout or on the homepage, but each step of the way, from capturing their attention, leading them through a process and ultimately to a long term client-customer relationship.

Search engine content – the position and content of your business on the search engines is critical to generating volumes of visitors, whether organic or paid for these listings are still the most popular way to find information (social networks are part of this information directory but may become the leader in the near future)

The words and the tone of these listings is your first call to action – click on my site, read my blog, get the best fastest cheapest biggest here… NOW!!

Equally they may be in other forms of advertising or branding, placing the name/brand/idea in the mind of your target audience, along with key trigger images or words can envoke reaction.  Direct sales marketing through banner adverts or promotions on other sites or mediums is a good example of this.

So getting visitors to your site is the call to action, and how you go about doing that is entirely based on your target audience, both online and offline methods can be really effective.  In some cases the call to action is to log the image/experience so that in future if the person sees your brand or product it will seem familiar to them and make them more likely to engage with you further … click!!!

First site visit – the first impression of your business is already forming in terms of how they reached you, if it was by personal recommendation it could be starting from warm, if the visitors has a problem they are trying to resolve the feeling may begin more negatively.

As a person hits your website for the first time they immediately get a perspective of your business, its quality, its approachability, and its perceived relevance to them.  In this sense the call to action is to stay on your site and look further.  So this might be gained through calling the person to click deeper into your site with a message that stands out on the page, on a product page this may be promotions that make the sale more attractive, like quick or free delivery.

Even if a ‘completed sale’ is not made first time, other ‘calls to action’ can be executed on the site encouraging the visitor to engage with you further.. free further information, follow our blog, email news, competition.. things that benefit both your business and the customer, and encourages them to engage and provide their information to you.

Follow up actions – within your additional engagements should reside further calls to action to transform the potential customer to a paying customer, the aim is to convince them that they want to work with or buy from your business

Repeat calls to action – the repeat customer is the holy grail of customers, the ones that keep coming back for more, tell all their friends and generally champion your business.  Keeping them engaged is a tricky business and one which requires a targeted and dedicated strategy.

We see the loyal customer ‘call to action’ reversed in social media now with people sharing their experiences, good and bad.  Big brands are having to respond to these customer ‘calls to action’ very quickly to keep up appearances, especially those with a core customer service pledge.  Other businesses are using it to effectively engage with their audience to discover new ways of improving their offerings, or simply to raise their profile within a particular niche.

There are 3 stages of buying, the idea and discovery, the shopping about and finally the purchase.  At the first stage its all about information, it’s a key area to provide actions that enable you to continue the conversation with your user, whether its liking your facebook fan page, subscribing to your blog or email news, perhaps the temptation of a future discount to act as an incentive to engage.

Its equally clear to remember, yours might not be the first site someone has looked at, they might be at stage 2 and know what they want and now are looking for the best deal, make it easy for people to find things on your site, without having to click through reams of information, and call them to action at every step of the way, lead your potential market through the door, form a relationship and when they hit stage 3 they are primed to convert to a paying customer!

Belinda Waldock

me@belindaw.co.uk

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Using Social Media for Small Business Promotion

Thinking about how to utilise social media in your business?   The definition of social media for the purpose of this blog ‘anywhere your customer can engage online with you or the marketplace’

Follow Your Market – do your customers use a particular social platform over others, are there platforms specifically aimed at your business sector or that operate within your market sector.  As a small business you need choose your route to market carefully as your time is limited

Be Committed but Not Addicted – build your social media strategy into your day to day schedule, but don’t let it detract from your core business activities!  Ensure any staff you choose to join your social media campaigns have the right attitude about your business and provide them with training and usage policies to help them manage their responsibilities and character online

Set up a Content Building Strategy – start building your content and identify sources of content prior to starting your public social media campaigns.  What are your plans for the next 12 months, how does it fit with your current marketing mix – trends, events, promotions, new products, news… aim to provide your market with something unique, for examples promotions only available to your facebook fans’ as a thank you for their loyalty, don’t gloat or get into ‘smug mode’ online or simply promote direct sales.  Small businesses often struggle to keep on top of marketing given their employees often diverse responsiblities, think smart and utilise materials on multiple levels.

Get Others to Do the Talking for You – engage with your existing customers and use their feedback to promote your business.   If negative feedback appears use it to show your excellent customer service, most customers will happily ‘tweet’ how great your response was after their initial negative rant.  Everybody makes mistakes, its how you respond that can turn this negative into a positive engagement for your business.  Again if your customers are doing the talking your business can get on with core activities, its a great technique to add customers to the marketing dept of your small business

Set Realistic Performance Indicators – set targets, set objectives and monitor and review them regularly against your market place and competitors.  Don’t over commit yourself and listen to the marketplace to identify your best opportunities and potential risks.    Your aim may be to increase repeat business, improve brand awareness or reach a new market, how are your going to measure your success.

Optimise your Social Content – ensure you use your ‘key phrases’ within your posts to optimise their visibility online, include active keywords like ‘latest’ or your location to encourage niche rankings and remember to include your calls to action by way of links back to your business site, contact details and a facility to enable responses from your audience.

Ideas for Social Networking your small Business

Blog – do you have a chunk of knowledge or a strong view on a particular topic that you would like to share with you customers, suppliers or associated businesses.  Set up a blog on your website for improved SEO or link in with a blogging platform like www.wordpress.com or www.blogger.com or some of the niche blogging platforms available, engage with others blogging on the same or similar topics.

Social Networkswww.Facebook.com Fan Page – do you have a liked brand or an ethos within your business that others share, could you use this to engage with your potential and existing markets.  B2B’s set up www.linkedin.com Company & Staff Profiles as a point of contact, utilise the Linkedin Groups and discussions to engage with your network.  www.twitter.com, www.scribd.com www.myspace.com .. there are hundreds!  Use online tools such as www.hootsuite.com to monitor activity

Article Marketing – Press Releases and Editorials the like that you find in your glossy magazines are readily available online, most press businesses now have an online version which often includes content that didn’t make the cut to the printed version, plus there are numerous networks, groups, forums, portals where you can post and share your article.

Sales Platforms and Portals – due to their feedback/review systems these platforms allow customers to provide content against products and services, making them social and a great audience for your small business!! Remember, ‘anywhere your marketplace can engage online’  Many comparison sites offer review facilities, as well as other directory websites and applications

Using Social Media for Small Business promotion

Belinda Waldock
Ebusiness Advisor and Coach
http://uk.linkedin.com/in/belindawaldock
me@belindaw.co.uk

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