Why Your Business Needs Google+

by on September 9, 2013 |

In today’s article from around the web we visit B2C where author Shell Robshaw-Bryan explores why your small business needs Google Plus.  As always, read, comment, share and enjoy!

Despite being the second biggest, Google+ is the least well-known and most misunderstood of the social networks. Many of the clients I work with have either never heard of it, or are unsure of how or why to use it for their business.

Google+ is arguably the most important social network for both businesses and marketers and as such is something you need to embrace now if you haven’t already done so.

Both Google+ and Google Authorship (explained later in this article) should be integral to your content-focused SEO strategy, so this article aims to provide a basic introduction and overview as well as highlighting some of the key benefits.

An Introduction to Google+

Google+ is a social networking website, but more than that, it integrates with the entire Google stable and it carries significant weight in terms of SEO and organic search visibility.

Google+ was launched as an invitation only social network on the 28th June 2011. Despite a lot of speculation in the wake of failed social network attempts like Google Buzz, early adopters clamored to get invites and so began the slow and steady rise of Google+. The invite only model didn’t last long, and as it became apparent that there was a lot of demand, the new social network was opened up to all.

Early adopter feedback was largely positive, with Google+ being widely regarded as benefiting from having all of the best parts of the main pre-existing social networks and putting them together to create one super network.

Whilst in the UK monthly active users of Facebook continue to decline, in under 2 years Google+ has risen up the ranks to become the 2nd biggest social network with over 359 million active users, a fact that many business owners remain unaware of.

Source: Business Insider

What Can You Do On Google+?

I’m a huge fan of Google+ and have been using it for just over two years now – despite my role, I don’t jump on the latest social media trends, (in fact I was a relatively late convert to Facebook), but having previously used the failed Google Buzz, I was keen to get on board from the outset with Google+ and i’ve not been disappointed.

Google+ allows you to post video, links, picture and text content just like you can on Facebook. Google+ however introduces the concept of ‘circles’, essentially allowing users to group followers according to interests or any other criteria they wish to assign, for example work colleagues, business contacts, or customers; which makes targeting your content far easier to achieve than it is on either Twitter or Facebook.

Google+ also benefits from the unique concept of ‘hangouts’, put simply these are either video or text chats that you can host or participate in with multiple people at the same time.

More recently Google+ has also introduced picture editing capabilities, allowing you to edit any of the pictures that you post on the network, super handy if you aren’t a graphic designer with a copy of Photoshop to hand!

For a more comprehensive guide to Google+ take a look at: Keepoint Free Google+ Guide for Business

Reasons Why You Should Be Using Google+

Neat Integration – easy to share content across all Google products

Google+ neatly integrates with various other tools, making it super easy to share and manage content across all Google services which helps to make your activities more efficient.

+1 – a popularity ranking signal for SEO

When you create a Google+ page people are able to +1 your page which is essentially the same as a Facebook like. Google uses the number of +1′s that your page has to help it determine how popular your business/brand is, making +1′s an important ranking signal.

Google+ Circles, ideal for targeting your messaging

Circles allow users to group followers according to interests or any other criteria you wish to assign (for example, current customers, prospects or competitors). This means you can use circles to very easily target your messaging.

Google Authorship – an emerging SEO ranking signal

Google+ is a critical component of Google Authorship – increasingly being used as a ranking signal. Authorship allows you to link your content across the Internet, letting Google know what content you have created and that it originates from you. The more quality content that you publish and the more it is shared, the more positively Google will regard you, potentially helping to boost your Author Rank.

Hangouts – a great way to knowledge share or obtain feedback

Creation of hangouts allow you to schedule online group events such as a live Q&A session that allows multiple people to participate, think of it like a giant chatroom that you can control.

C ommunities – great for relationship management, lead nurturing and authority building

Google+ Communities allow you to create, or participate in, focused groups of both individuals and companies who share a particular interest. Participating in existing communities is an excellent way of raising brand awareness, creating trust and getting direct feedback from customers. Creating a group allows you to start a community, closely aligned to your own brand values. This can help to improve your brand awareness, helps to position you as an authority, and helps you nurture relationships.

Events – easy to set up, share and promote

Google+ Events work in a similar way to Facebook Events. The main difference however is that events allow for higher levels of interactivity. Anyone using Gmail or Google Calendar can easily add an event they are invited to right onto their calendars and invitations will automatically go out to whoever you select, from individuals or groups. Events are a great way to promote things such as free webinars or on-site open days.

Business pages – enhanced discoverability

Google+ Business pages work in a very similar way to Facebook Business pages. Just like with Facebook, you’ll need to be a regular Google+ member before you can set up a business page.

Your Business Page gives you another page that can be indexed by search engines and neatly showcases your business, allowing you to make regular updates to your wall, and linking your business page to any content that you’ve created using the rel=”publisher” code.

Insights – stats that show you what activities are working

Google+ recently introduced analytical insights that allow you to see key stats from your Google+ dashboard including how many views your business listing has received, how many times you’ve been viewed in local search and how many people are engaging with you.

Google Places – enhanced visibility in local search

Google Places are separate business listing pages that are perfect for local businesses which allow you to display reviews, photos, key business information like opening times and contact details, as well as displaying a fully integrated Google location map. This provides you with another page that can be indexed, helping to enhance your visibility in search results and drive traffic.

How to set up Google authorship

Before you can get Google authorship implemented, you will need to have a Google+ profile set up and you need to make sure that your profile picture is a clear head shot.

Step 1

Locate your ‘Contributer to’ section within your profile (do this on your personal profile page and not your business page). Click ‘Add a custom link’ and enter a title and the URL for the content you want to link yourself to. Google+ > About > Contributer to > edit

Step 2

Next, you need to add a link back to your Google+ profile in the body of your content you want to be credited as the author of. Your link code might look something like this:

Check me out on Google+.

Step 3

Use Google’s structured data testing tool to make sure you’ve set it up correctly. Enter your URL and click ‘preview’ and you should see your head shot now appear.

Please remember that it won’t be live immediately, it typically takes around 2 weeks for this to start actually working. The rel=”publisher” code is implemented in the same way, but should be linked to your business page.

For more detailed information, take a look at Google’s getting started guidelines.

Tips to help you get the most from Google+

Be visual

People routinely respond better to posts which include pictures or video than they do to plain text posts. Google+ tweaked the layout of pages in May 2013 leading to a layout more akin to Pinterest that lends itself even better to visual imagery, so make the most of this!

Start a community

Creating a community is very quick and easy. Your community could be set up to aid knowledge sharing, it could be based on an interest or it could be used to support a good cause.

Don’t make the community all about you – if all you do is spam it with your own content people aren’t going to join and you’ll lose those that do pretty quickly – as with all social media activities, make sure you vary what you do and don’t make it a one way channel.

Set up Google Authorship

For increased visibility in organic search, Google Authorship is an absolute must. Authorship is the driving force behind Author Rank which is a very powerful (and increasingly so) ranking signal that Google uses. Make sure that this is set up and working correctly (see above for step by step instructions of how to do this).

Share content from a range of sources

Sharing other peoples content is always a good idea – it gives you more things you can post about which makes you in turn more interesting and appealing and it also brings you to the attention of the content source, which in itself has clear strategic benefits. Curating a broad range of content on the same theme, will help you to build authority and position yourself as a thought leader.

Make the most of your profile

Make sure you have filled in all of your company details and that you are making use of the profile image and cover photo (which is massive!) as these will allow you to grab peoples attention more effectively. Make sure you provide links not just to your website but to your blog and all of your social network profiles.

Improve the images you post

Google has recently introduced the ability to edit images that you upload. This functionality is especially good for those who don’t have their own image editing software such as Photoshop. The Google+ image editing function allows you to make various changes to your image including auto colour fixing, cropping and adding text.

Summary

Google+ is now the 2nd biggest social network in the UK and whilst Facebook is in decline, Google+ continues to gather momentum.

Many marketing and SEO experts are agreed on its importance as both an SEO and communications tool, and whilst the full extent of the impact that Google+ has on SEO is still very much open to debate, the belief is that Google will place increasing weight on related ranking signals, making Google+ a critical part of any SEO or content marketing strategy.

Google+ Resources

Business Insider http://www.businessinsider.com/google-plus-is-outpacing-twitter-2013-5

Google+ business http://www.google.com/+/business/

Google+ statistics http://socialstatistics.com/

Google Plus Daily http://www.googleplusdaily.com/

Google Plus features – image editing http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/62753-how-new-google-plus-features-can-help-you-create-great-content-part-one-image-editing

Google Author Rank and Authorship http://maximizesocialbusiness.com/google-author-rank-authorship-8560/

Keepoint Free Google+ Guide for Business http://www.keepoint.co.uk/free-google-plus-guide-for-business

Original article


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Estate Planning for Small Business Owners

by on August 12, 2013 |

In today’s article from around the web we visit B2C where author H. Lee Thompson explores estate planning for small businesses.  As always, read, comment, share and enjoy!

The heirs of a small business owner may face complicated legal and tax issues, but some thoughtful estate planning ahead of time may spare your spouse and family members a few headaches.

Estate planning can not only minimize the amount of taxes your heirs will pay, but can also allow you to control how your assets are distributed and provide your loved ones with financial stability after you are gone. Without a will or estate plan, your business may be tied up in probate court, during which time the business may lose customers, causing the value of the business to decrease.

Each state has strict rules that determine whether a will is valid, so it is important that you contact an experienced trust and estates attorney to help you prepare a will. In addition, you should regularly meet with your attorney to advise him or her of any new additions to your family or the death of individuals who you had designated as receiving property through your will. Some assets, such as life insurance, pensions, and joint bank accounts, can pass to your heirs outside of a will, so you should confirm that the beneficiary designations are up to date for these types of assets.

If the business has more than one owner, the owners may consider retaining an attorney to draft a buy-sell agreement. A buy-sell agreement (also sometimes referred to as a “buyout agreement” or a “business will”) is a contract between co-owners of a business that dictates the transfer of ownership of the business should a co-owner die, become incapacitated, or choose to leave the business. A buy-sell agreement may contain provisions that govern who can purchase the departing owner’s share of the business, the events that will trigger a buyout, and the price (or the method for arriving at a price) that must be paid for the departing owner’s share in the business.

Practical Considerations for Small Business Owners

Some practical planning issues that a business owner should consider include:

  • Does your spouse or close relative have a list of instructions of what should be done in the event of your death?
  • Does your spouse or close relative have a set of keys to get into the business location, as well as passwords for the computer systems?
  • Does someone other than you have authority to write checks for the business?
  • Does your spouse or close relative have contact information for key people, including managerial employees, your lawyer, and your accountant?
  • Have you given your spouse copies of any contracts that may bind the business after your death, such as a right of first refusal granted to a competitor?

It is also important that the business organizations documents are up to date and reflect how the business is actually operating. Many business owners only think about the legal documents that establish the company when it is created. These documents should be reviewed periodically to confirm that they are up to date, as they may play an important role in how ownership of the business is transferred after your death.

Whether the business is organized as a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or a limited liability company may have estate planning and tax implications. In general, the assets of a sole proprietorship are considered the assets of the owner. The owner’s personal assets and the business assets are therefore lumped together to determine if any federal estate tax is due. If the business has significant illiquid assets, such as real estate, heavy equipment, or intellectual property, your heirs may be forced to quickly sell assets to pay estate taxes, and such a hasty sale may not yield a favorable price.

Use of Trusts in Estate Planning

A trust is a legal instrument that can be used to transfer and manage property. The person who creates the trust, referred to as the settlor, does not necessarily have to give up all control over the property, nor must the settlor relinquish the income created by the assets in the trust. A trust may be revocable, which means that the settlor may decide to end the trust at any time, or irrevocable, ending only upon a specific event, such as the death of a beneficiary of the trust.

One advantage of a trust is that the power to control business assets can be delegated to a trustee until the heirs reach a certain age. Another advantage of a trust is that it provides the descendent and his or her heirs with more privacy than a will. The adjudication of a will occurs in a court of law, which is a public process. If the will contains a detailed list of the descendant’s assets and how they are to be distributed, this information may become a matter of public record.

To avoid public scrutiny, a business owner may be able to draft a pour-over will, which is a will that simply states that all of your assets, including the ownership interest in a business, are to be distributed to a trust upon your death. Then the assets will be distributed as dictated by the trust agreement, which is a private document that need not be filed in court to be valid.

A business owner concerned about estate planning issues should consult with a qualified trusts and estates attorney to help plan for the future, minimize tax liability, and ensure a smooth disposition of assets.


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Google Plus for Business – How to Create a Google Plus Page

by on July 31, 2013 |

In today’s article from around the web we visit B2C where author Evan LePage explores how to create a Google Plus page.  As always, read, comment, share and enjoy!

The following is the second part in a series that will break down the fundamentals of Google Plus for business, and how to build and utilize company pages, so that you can fully take advantage of this valuable tool. View part one here.

When you create a Google Plus page, you create new business opportunities across all of Google’s products. From bringing you closer to the top in Google searches, to having a Google map with directions to your store appear when someone types in your brand name, these are not benefits you’ll want to miss out on.

The good news is that it’s fairly simple to create a Google Plus page. Here’s how you do it:

Create a Google Plus Page in 4 Steps

To create a Google Plus page, you must first have a personal profile (create yours here). From your profile you can click “Pages” in the left-hand menu, and you’re on your way.

The second step involves choosing a category that defines your business. If you’re a location-based business, like a restaurant or clothing shop, you’ll likely select “local business or store.” Entering your phone number will allow Google to find your business, confirm the information you enter is correct, and find your location on Google maps. Enter your external website, select who your content is appropriate for, review Google Plus terms and select continue. You now have a Google Plus page.

The third step to create a Google Plus page involves filling out your page to make it informative for followers (and potential customers). This includes describing your business, entering contact information like an email address and phone number, as well as choosing a branded profile photo (often a company’s logo).

Finally, companies should put in the extra effort to make their Google Plus page visually appealing. Add appropriate branding, from a captivating cover photo to interesting photos and videos that show what you’re all about. If you’re a boutique you can post some fun behind-the-scenes footage from your spring photo shoot. If you’re a bakery, photos of scrumptious daily specials can draw in new customers. Also, include external links to your other web properties (website, Pinterest page, Tumblr, etc.) to help your Google search placement.

To summarize:

To watch the full lesson on Google Plus, and to increase your skill set through ongoing social media education, sign up for HootSuite University today.


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The Anatomy of a Successful Small Business Site

by on July 30, 2013 |

In today’s article from around the web we visit Inc.com where author Brent Barnhart explores the anatomy of a successful small business website.  As always, read, comment, share and enjoy!

We want more traffic. And we want it now.

When we look at today’s most-visited websites, it’s tempting to look for links between their success. What’s their secret? What is Facebook doing right? How does Google stay on top?

While we strive for such success that will take us above and beyond, comparing such sites is apples and oranges. The functions and purpose of a search engine, for example, differ completely from that of a social networking site or online retailer. They’re popular, well-branded and meet the needs of millions of users; other than that, the similarities between such sites are few and far between.

On the flip side, let’s consider small business sites.

There are over 600 million websites out there. Small businesses comprise a decent chunk of those sites and their respective traffic. While there may not be much merit in comparing an Amazon versus a LinkedIn, there a number of common threads which connect just about every SMB site, regardless of size or sales:

  1. Small business sites provide information
  2. Small business sites market products and services
  3. Small business sites sell products and services

Whether you’re raking in the leads and traffic or are just getting started, the three above principles will drive just about any site looking to gain or increase their traction. It’s the work and creativity we put into such principles which determine our success.

No two businesses are alike. Likewise, no two sites are alike in terms of design, scope and content. There are those, however, who rise above the rest because they understand what users want in a site and how to deliver. With web presence trumping just about every facet of small business activity, our sites need to pack a punch when it comes to catering to an audience and giving them exactly what they want.

What separates the good from and the bad and the ugly? What pieces come together to form a successful small business website?

In short, a successful SMB site will:

  • Keep itself simple, understanding the concept of quality over quantity
  • Address an appropriate audience and cater to the needs of that audience
  • Catch the eye of the visitor, whether through design, content or quality

How? Let’s break it down.

Design, Design, Design

Although perhaps it’s not best to judge a book by its cover, first impressions are enormous when it comes to a small business’ site. Whether assessing your landing page or the overall scheme of your site, a sound design will help users want to stick around and continue to browse on a subconscious level. What constitutes a sound design? From the minuscule to the glaringly obvious details, you’ll want to consider elements such as the following:

Color Scheme and Font – When it comes to color scheme, keep two things in mind; your scheme should compliment your logo and your colors shouldn’t clash. Regarding fonts, stick to something simple. Nobody wants to read an entire site in Comic Sans or Papyrus. While such elements may not seem like a big deal, they can send visitors packing if they impact the readability or vibe of your site.

Layout – Whether you’re starting from scratch or working within a WordPress template, consider the number of columns, buttons and links throughout your site. There are no benefits to overloading your visitors with walls of text or links to sift through. Consider your site architecture carefully before getting started.

Functionality – Have you ever been to a small business site that starts playing tons of videos or even a song when you get there? Technology has come a long way, sure, but there’s no need to flood your visitors with useless media or eye candy. Instead, focus on functionality that makes sense. For example, is your site and its respective blog linked to Facebook?

When it comes to designing a site, a lot comes down to the concept of balance.

There’s a fine line between having a site that looks like a cookie-cutter, out of the box web template versus having a site that’s different for the sake of being different. True, there are plenty of templates already out there via platforms such as WordPress. Given the accessibility and SEO power of something like WordPress, they’re ideal for the budding business. Due to the popularity of such templates, however, it’s crucial to take such templates and make them your own. This can be done through both the elements above and your content (which we’ll discuss shortly).

The most important rule of design? Follow the mantra; keep it simple.

Content: Quality and Quantity

You probably don’t need to sit through a lecture about the benefits of creating quality content. In addition to providing value to your overall site and driving more traffic, regular content production meets the principle of providing information to users. By sticking to a regular content schedule, you provide additional information and education in order to solidify your site as being something valuable.

Static content is often overlooked and requires a lot of your focus. If you get it right the first time, you won’t have to rework your static content over and over. Crafting an effective “About Me” section, for example, can be huge in personalizing yourself. If you have a physical location, ensure that your directions are clear to readers who’ve never been in the area. You’re responsible not only for providing information to users, but also making sure they understand just about every facet of your business. Do so as clearly and concisely as possible.

We established earlier that all small business sites should do thee things; provide information, market products and effectively sell products. Your content, static or otherwise, should be dedicated to doing all three.

Much like design, the concept of balance comes into play when it comes to content. For example, you should regularly produce content for your site via its blog; however, there’s no need to craft content for the sake of doing so. A single thoughtful, powerful blog post is infinitely more valuable than ten short, spammy pieces. Allocate your time and resources wisely, meanwhile not embellishing or filling space for the sake of it. Don’t say too much and, once again, keep it simple. With users so willing to bounce (think; would you want to read paragraphs and paragraphs of needless filler when you’re looking up a business on your phone?), it’s better to be concise.

You Are Your Site Your website is more than just a hub for your business. It creates a space for users to interact and engage with your business, meanwhile also providing an opportunity for you to create an experience for such users. It gives you an opportunity to stake your claim, educate your visitors and ultimately let them know who you are. You may not initially think of your site as creating an experience; however, your site will ultimately come to represent you. The more effort you put into your site, the more visitors will come to trust the quality of you and your business.

Your business will be judged by its website.

The quality of your product will be judged by your website.

It may not seem fair; however, the modern small business is tasked with making a lasting impression on its potential customers. This is done by creating a website that represents you. A successful site understands this.

To help ensure that your business’ website makes sense in terms of design and content, consider having other users within your organization test the experience. Imagine you were visiting the site for the first time and knew nothing of the business. Would you be able to get there? Would you understand how the product works? Would you understand what was going on?

The Bottom Line Small businesses come and go. The ones that stick around have sites that stand the test of time and cater to their visitors. In short, successful businesses understand exactly how their site works from all angles and how the pieces of design and content come together. Is your business covering its bases?


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5 Reasons to Check into a Person’s Online Reputation Before Entering a Business Relationship

by on July 29, 2013 |

In today’s article from around the web we visit B2C where author Tara Alemany explores a few reasons to check on someone’s online reputation before entering into business with them.  As always, read, comment, share and enjoy!

Today’s guest post is from Bev Sninchak, a veteran freelance writer with 16 years of experience producing content for both print and online publications. She writes about many subjects, from managing your online reputation to mastering social media strategies. She lives with her husband, kids, and a menagerie of pets in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

When you start a company with another person, you are connected to them personally, professionally and financially. Are you sure you know everything about your soon-to-be business partner?

Here are five reasons to check into your potential business partner’s reputation so you can avoid unexpected pitfalls.

1. Criminal Background

If you plan to start a business with an individual, it’s a given that you want to be sure he or she isn’t a criminal—or worse, a felon. You wouldn’t want to place your company in the hands of a known embezzler or con artist, so it’s paramount that you check your would-be partner’s criminal record.

If you fail to investigate your partner and don’t uncover a hidden villainous background, you’re not only risking the personal safety of you, your employees, and your customers—you’re gambling with your livelihood and financial future as well.

2. Professionalism

To succeed in business, it is essential to present yourself in a respectable, mature way. Otherwise, clients and other businesses will shy away from all interaction. The result is a loss of income and reduced profits.

Does your business partner conduct herself in a professional way? Is her communication polished and skillful? Facebook photographs portraying a disheveled, drunken partier at last year’s Christmas party may be humorous to sorority sisters, but it doesn’t instill confidence in people who mingle with the person on a daily basis in your profession. To attain a good outcome in business, one must look, dress and act the part. Be sure your partner does.

3. Honesty

Maybe your potential business partner isn’t necessarily a criminal, but that doesn’t mean he’s honest either. By checking the person’s online interactions with others, you can get a sense of how honest the person is. Did he tell his college roommate he was borrowing money to help an ailing relative, only to be discovered later that he used the money to take a trip to Cancun?

Dishonesty is a yes or no proposition, regardless of how small the lie may be. If your partner conned former friends out of small amounts of money, won’t he be more tempted to shave extra profits off the top for himself if the monetary reward is even greater? Just because he wasn’t caught for his transgressions doesn’t mean he wasn’t breaking the law.

4. Trustworthiness

If a person isn’t trustworthy in their personal life, chances are you shouldn’t trust them with your business assets. By tracking a partner’s online reputation and gauging her trustworthiness, you can decide if you can depend on them to do the right thing when work decisions are on the line. Does the person keep her promises to deliver a professional result every time? Does she perform in a credible manner, despite trying circumstances or unforeseen obstacles? If you can’t trust her to act with integrity in online ventures, then it’s a fair bet you can’t trust her to oversee or manage the core aspects of your shared company objectives.

5. Personality

In business, personality matters. How a partner interacts with clients, employees and management can mean gaining contracts or losing them. If your future partner is brusque and dismissive or doesn’t understand the finer parts of interpersonal communication in a professional setting, it could hurt your company’s financial standing and make negotiating with others a Herculean task in the future.

Online interactions leave clues as to a person’s behavior, personality and social skills. Is your partner approachable, pleasant and helpful? How does he treat those who are beneath him in social standing or the professional hierarchy? How you answer these questions after investigating his online interactions can mean the difference between a successful business pairing and a disastrous one.

Partnering with the wrong person in business can lead to professional embarrassment and potentially lead to future legal issues. To protect yourself and the future of your company, thoroughly investigate any future business partners to dismiss probable risk and remove any lingering doubts.


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Does Your Business Need a Mobile App?

by on June 28, 2013 |

In today’s article from around the web we visit B2C where author Brittany Berger discusses why mobile apps are stating to become essential for most businesses.  As always, read, comment, share and enjoy!

There’s no doubt that having a mobile presence is no longer an option. Signs everywhere point to its growing importance. Mobile search should surpass desktop search this year. Seventy percent of marketers are increasing their mobile budgets. I could go on and on with more convincing numbers, but I’ll spare you.

Choose a marketing sign, and it’s probably pointing towards mobile.

Those smartphone users are growing accustomed to being able to find the information they need whenever they want, wherever they want. Because some of these people will be your customers or potential customers, you need to be on mobile in some capacity. But how?

A lot of companies struggle with whether it’s better to have a mobile app, a mobile website, or both. But really, it depends on the purpose of your business, the nature of your customer, and a lot of other factors. Some businesses will be best off with a functional mobile website, some will make more sense as a standalone app, and some businesses will have both.

As always, we want to help. There are a lot of things to consider before developing a mobile app, but you can start by asking a few questions.

Questions to ask before developing a mobile app for your business:

What information would you put in your mobile app?

Mobile apps should supplement your website and mobile website, not try to replace it. If you just want a quick way for your users or customers to see the information on your website, create a great mobile website. An app should have the features and information found on your website, and then some. There needs to be a reason to use the app. Did you know that about 80% of apps are downloaded less than 1,000 times? You don’t want to develop an app unless you know a lot of people will want and need it.

Do customers need this information on the go?

Look at the content on your website. How much of this information would be more helpful while your customer is say, at the mall, than it would be in the comfort of their home? People do still use computers while at home. Think about where your audience would most likely be looking up your information. Perhaps no matter how often your customers use mobile, that’s not what they’re using to find you. In this case, the time and money spent on a mobile app may not be necessary, but you should still have a functional mobile website.

How frequently will your customers use it?

It’s important to consider how often customers will want to use your app. Space on people’s phones – both in the hardware and on their home screen – is precious, and many don’t want to download an app they won’t use frequently. If they only need information from your company while on the go every now and then, they may rather check your mobile website.

So tell us, does your company have a mobile app? What factors brought you to the decision to develop one?


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How The Google Carousel Changes The Look Of Local Search

by on June 26, 2013 |

In today’s article from around the web we visit B2C where author Bill Parlaman explores the new Google Carousel for Local Search Results.  As always, read, comment, share and enjoy!

Google has just launched a new look to their local search pages for desktop users called “Google Carousel.”

As of today, the Google Carousel seems to be triggered for businesses such as hotels, restaurants and bars.

It’s unknown whether or not the new carousel will be rolled out for other local business like automotive dealerships.

Although the name suggests a 360 degree of motion, Google’s new local search engine results page (SERP) features a horizontal carousel of local businesses.

The Google Carousel allows users to scroll left and right to view as many listings the user’s monitor can show.

This opportunity offers prime exposure on the most-used search engine for many businesses that may have been buried in the previous SERP.

In effect, establishments that execute effective local search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns can embark on the new interactive Google Carousel straight to the top.

How Does Google Carousel Work?

When users search for a local business, a horizontal carousel of local establishments with review- based scores appear at the top of the page below the image that is chosen for the business.

Hovering over the image will raise a pin on the map, representing the geographic location of the business.

Clicking on the image opens the branded web search results for the particular listing.

On this page, the first listing is the company’s web site, making the official page easily accessible.

How Does the Google Carousel Benefit a Local Business?

The premise behind SEO is that consumers will click the first relevant link. The previous local SERP positioned Google AdWords before any other of the results of the web query.

The new interface offers businesses prime positioning at the top of the page in an optimal format. Along with being above AdWords, the Google Carousel also offers many more businesses exposure than the previous horizontal listing.

With this said however, the example below shows that once you’ve selected your choice from the Google Carousel, your PPC ad will still show up above your organic listing (Google needs to get paid)

Once you make you’re selection you can see below how your PPC ad shows up in the SERPs.

Why is This Important

In addition to the immediate benefits, the new interface can provide valuable data about consumer buying motives. This means that Google will be able to further enhance personalization and prioritize links that are visited frequently.

How To Optimize Your Business For The Google Carousel

The cascading Google Carousel is based on all of the Google algorithms used in SEO.

Properly optimizing your local business’s web presence for local search is the first step toward a spot on the new interface. The Carousel populates and presents information about your business from your Google+ business page.

While being featured on the Carousel is great, all benefits are negated if your Google+ business page doesn’t display your best foot forward. Understanding that a picture is worth a thousand words, the image of your business displayed on the Google Carousel will often be one of the top determining factors for your customers.

Making sure your images stored in the Google+ business listing are eye-catching and of high-quality is paramount. However, the actual image shown on the Google Carousel is based on Google’s algorithms.

Since the Carousel is integrated with Google Maps, your business must be in Google Maps to reserve a coveted seat in the new local SERP interface. The changes ushered in by the interactive Google Carousel enhances the local search experience.

While it’s not known what other types of local businesses will start showing up in Google’s Carousel, its our recommendation that you do everything possible to make your Google+ Business page and Google+ Local Page as enticing and interactive as possible to take advantage of the new look local search pages.

What are your thoughts on the new look Google Carousel for local businesses?

I would love to hear your thoughts so feel feel to post them in the comments box below!


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Small Business Sales Rise, But Hiring Lags

by on June 25, 2013 |

In today’s article from around the web we visit Inc.com where author Jeremy Quittner discusses how small business sales are rising while hiring isn’t rising.  As always, read, comment, share and enjoy!

As private companies continue to bounce back from the financial crisis, they’re doing more with fewer people.

Keeping pace with and driving the economic recovery, small businesses continue to revive, while hiring lags.

That’s the news from the just-released May private company survey by financial analysis firm Sageworks, of New York. Sageworks studies the financial statements of 1,000 private companies and bases its monthly research on sales growth for the previous six months.

Sales Are Up, Hiring Doesn’t Keep Pace

Sales of private companies increased 10 percent in May, equal to the increase in April, and essentially equivalent to the same increase in May in 2012. Net margins across industries increased 6.6 percent, the same as April, and up more than two percentage points from the same period a year ago.

While private-company revenue is increasing, employment remains stagnant, with unemployment ticking up to 7.6 percent in May, from 7.5 percent in April, according to the Department of Labor.

Companies have learned to do business with fewer people. “As the recession happened, these companies learned to operate as leanly as possible, but they also picked up on additional technology as they became profitable, and they added new technology and systems that allow them to do more with the people they have in their offices,” Libby Bierman, an analyst for Sageworks says.

Where the Most Growth Is

Construction companies grew more than any other sector Sageworks tracks in May, notching a 13.3 percent increase in sales, the same as in April. That’s up about three percentage points from the year ago period.

Services companies also saw big growth in May. Sales for private companies in the management, scientific, and technical consulting sub-sector grew more than 15 percent, while staffing firms were up 15 percent, professional services more than 10 percent, and building and residential management 9 percent.

During the recession, out-of-work people may have started their own services companies because the barriers to entry and upfront equipment costs are low, Bierman says. Such companies, which include everything from IT consulting to janitorial services, still represent a good opportunity for people without work, or for anyone interested in creating a start-up, Bierman says.

“These industries are growing, so there is an opportunity because they are easy to get into, and you are more likely to see success,” Bierman says.


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Small Business Service: The Know, Like, Trust Factor

by on June 24, 2013 |

In today’s article from around the web we visit B2C where author Susan Poirier discusses how the decision to buy is more emotional than logical and how building a personal relationship can drive sales.  As always, read, comment, share and enjoy!

Sure, you have a business, but whether you sell a product or a service, you must provide SERVICE. What makes you so much different from your competitor that your prospects are knocking down your door? Or are they?

Solving problems is your real product not your widget or your services. Anyone and everyone does that. It is you, your service and your ability to meet the customer/prospect needs that will drive your business.

You already know that people buy from people. You are “people” not just your brand or your company. It is your responsibility to meet needs, solve issues and instill a level of comfort and trust with your audience. The buying decision occurs in the emotional environment.

“Too many business owners and sales people try to sell their product or service, neglecting the fact that their customer is a person. In fact, the customer is a person who has feelings, influences and a mind of their own. They want to be connected with, and to trust and believe the person from which they are buying.” Rebecca Wilson

According to their findings in a Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, Brand Keys Inc, concluded that the buying decision is 70% emotional and only 30% rational. “Emotional engagement is the pivotal key to successful marketing.” It is up to you to build an emotional, personal relationship with consumers, conveying trust, comfort and understanding.

Social media affords you the platform of being personal, getting to know your audience, their drivers and their pain points. It is up to you to create your reliable brand persona instilling trust and generating a comfort level and feeling of confidence with you and your company. Georgina El Morshdy outlines 30 Ways to Build the “Know, Like, and Trust” Factor that Grows an Audience | http://buff.ly/XdAaEf on Copyblogger. “Your audience won’t pick up real momentum until you’ve mastered the “know, like, trust” factor.”

The relationship building approach works to consistently develop trust, loyalty and a foundation for a long term partnership. It takes time to build any genuine relationship but isn’t your customer worth it? Being in business isn’t just about the sale; it is about fulfilling needs, valuing your customer and providing impeccable service.


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Marketing Best Practice With Google Plus Business Pages

by on June 17, 2013 |

In today’s article from around the web we visit B2C where author Annetta Powell explores some best practices while using Google Plus Business Pages.  As always, read, comment, share and enjoy!

Google Plus business Page for Marketing is an indispensable tool for savvy B2B Marketers and enterprises. You may not have given much thought to using it but the truth is that it really is a powerful internet marketing tool for building your online presence. Before we take a look at the best Google Plus business page practices, I feel it is important for us to look at why you should have a Google business page for online marketing.

Why You Should Use Google Plus for Marketing

A Google Plus marketing page allows you to create and share valuable information about your business. You can create follow buttons, +1 like buttons, video hangouts, create events, and interact with members of your community. So, what makes Google Plus page so special for online marketing?

A well-optimized Google Plus business page for Marketing can benefit your internet business in several ways. First, an optimized business page will help you compete favorably with your competitors in local search. Secondly, it will help you build brand or business authority through +1’s one like and consumer reviews. Most importantly, a Google Plus business page for marketing has the potential to drive traffic to your business website and convert visitors into customers.

Create and Verify your Google Plus Business Page

The first and most important think that you should do when using Google Plus business page for marketing is to set up and verify your business page. You can simply do this by linking your official business or company website with your Google plus business page. So, why should you verify your business page?

Verifying your Google Plus business page for marketing will enhance the legitimacy and authority of your brand and content. A verified page also increases your chances of getting a custom URL once Google rolls out the custom URL feature. Besides establishing your legitimacy, verifying your Google Plus business page for marketing also enhances the value of your search engine (based on trust factor).

Optimize Your Google Page for the Search Engine

Once you set up and verify your Google Plus Business Page for marketing, you should proceed to optimize it by. You should use relevant and target SEO keywords (non-spammy) throughout your Google Plus business page. Think carefully about your choice of keywords and most importantly, the keywords that show up when people conduct Google Search. Also, make sure that you usea proper business name and business tagline.

Since Google Plus Business page for marketing integrates with Google Search, you should optimize your headlines and descriptions for the Search Engine. For the maximum effect, make sure that you include the keyword(s) in the tagline and in your intros. Assuming that you already have a Gmail account, you can add a page administrator to help you manage your Google Plus Business page for marketing.

Link Your Google Page with Your Website and Social Networks

Given the immense potential of Google Plus business page for marketing, you should integrate your business page with your social networks and your website. You can simply do this by creating and embedding links or using the +1 or share button which you can access in the Google Plus Developer’s page.

Seriously, I don’t know why some people are skeptical about linking their Google Plus business page for marketing with their social networks and even websites. The truth is that Google Plus is fundamentally a social media and content marketing channel. It has the potential to attract and engage visitors in your page and also direct them to your website.

Promote your Business Page

It’s not enough for you to create a Google Plus business page for marketing; you should go a step further to promote it. You can do this by adding your page to your Circles and sharing links to your business page or content in your social networks. Make use of +1 badges and share buttons too. Encourage your employees to share news on their individual pages and in their social networks so as to encourage followers to join your Circles.

Get and Organize Google Plus Followers

Just like Twitter and Facebook, Google Plus has a vast community of heterogeneous followers. So, if you are thinking of using Google Plus business page for marketing to engage some members (of this vast community) then you have to attract and organize the followers and people that you engage with.

As a rule of thumb, you should never acquire automated followers rather, build your community organically one step at a time. Take time to know who your members are, what they like doing, and the nature, composition, and conversations in their circles. Knowing your members will help you develop and implement the best online content marketing strategy for your target Google Plus community.

As you attract people to your Google Plus business page for marketing, you have to organize them so that you can optimize your content and messages for them. The best way of doing this is to create or join the relevant circles in the Google Plus community. You can create many circles and use them to segment your community so that you can target each community with specific and relevant information. When used properly, circles can help you track target customers and enhance the effectiveness of your Google Plus business page for marketing.

Create a Content Calendar

I know that many businesses have a rocky start when using Google Plus Business Page for marketing. Though opinions are many and varied, I believe that creating and maintaining a content calendar is the best content marketing strategy for your Google Plus business page. A content calendar will help you plan and develop relevant content for your followers throughout the year.

Once you identify and understand the community that you’re are targeting, then you should adjust your Google Plus Business Page for marketing calendar accordingly. You should create posts or share industry news and links to your latest blog posts.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a big brand or a small domestic business; Google Plus Business Page for marketing has great potential for you. Creating and maintaining a business page enhances the value of your internet marketing considerably by giving you an edge over your competitors. By using Google Plus business Page for marketing, you can easily dominate local search, draw more customers, and ultimately, establish yourself as a niche expert.


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