Ensure Your Business is Found in Local Search
Dan: It's time for Bit-Wizards ' Tip of the Wand. The world famous Louis is on the phone with me right now. Good morning, Louis. How are you, sir?
Louis: Good morning. Good morning. It must be a small world, I think. **crosstalk**
Dan: It's in your world, Louis.
Louis: I appreciate it, anyway.
Dan: Yes, sir. So, how are things at Bit-Wizards, Louis?
Louis: Fantastic. Things are going great. We've been enjoying our show with you every week. We've mentioned the different departments in Bit-Wizards a few times. We though it might be interesting to ... We focus so much on our managed IT services, which is more local in origin, but our digital marketing group which has many national clients also, has a lot of information that could help our local businesses, so we thought we'd dedicate a show here to our digital marketing group. And I have with me Melissa and Jenna and the director of the digital marketing group, Candie. And so, good morning.
Candie: Good morning.
Dan: Well, good morning to Jenna, Melissa, and Candie. Welcome to the show.
Candie: Thank you. So, we're going to do a little bit of a different show this morning, and we thought that everybody who owns a business locally might like to learn a little bit about how to ensure that they're found online locally in search results on Google. So today's show format, we're kind of splitting up into three sections, and the first one Melissa is going to take. It's how to use Google My Business to be found, and then I'm going to take how to optimize your website, and Jenna is going to take how to stay visible and create content. All of these things will help you show up locally in search results. So, Melissa, do you want to start us off?
Dan: Yeah. Start us off.
Dan: So what is Google My Business anyway?
Melissa: You want to think of Google my business as a digital listing tool, where you can manage the information that Google shows to people who are searching for the services that you provide online. It's the first step to ensure that information listed online about your business is correct and readily available, and if that information isn't accurate, you run the risk of not being found in search results. So Google My Business helps you help your customers more effectively find your business and the information you want them to know about your business.
Dan: Yeah. Do you have to have keywords and so on for them to actually find what they're looking for?
Melissa: Not on Google My Business, you don't. Google My Business is kind of the place where you go on Google and you put in your business location, name, logos, photos of your business, what your hours of operation are, what days of the week you're open, if there's any holidays that you're not open, say you're closed for 4th of July, lots of people are. You want to make sure that all of that information on Google My Business is accurate, so that you can ... It's a first touchpoint of building trust with potential customers and making sure that all of that information is accurate on Google My Business is extremely important because you don't want to say that you're open on 4th of July and then someone goes to your location and you're not open. That's first step to losing a potential customer.
Dan: I got you. Also, you have hours and so on on there as well, don't you? What hours you open ...
Melissa: Yes. You have your hours. It's also a place where customers can go on and leave a review about how awesome you are, and then other potential customers can go and read those reviews and end up building trust just online without ever having to talk to anyone. You can also schedule posts on Google My Business. Yeah.
Dan: Is this connected to your website or is this completely separate?
Melissa: You can link it to your website. It will also link to maps, so that's where ... Say you have heard about a business and you go and you type them in in Google, the first thing that's going to come up is your Google My Business listing. And on your phone, you can hit for directions or hit to call them. And so, it's really, really important to make sure that all of that information is correct, again, but ...
Dan: Does it cost anything to do Google My Business?
Melissa: Nope. Nope. Most, actually all ... Everything except for ads on Google is completely free. So all of Google's platforms to help businesses get more customers are all free.
Dan: Oh. Gosh, that's a good deal.
Louis: That's the section on the right on when you look in the browser, correct?
Dan: Yeah. Yup.
Louis: Right, so if you've ever looked at the business, it kind of shows up on the right and shows you, like as you said, the directions, call me, hours, pictures and things like that.
Candie: And it's something that you set up once, but you kind of want to maintain and you want to make sure the category that you're listed in is correct because you can do a main category and then supporting categories. But you want to make sure that main category is super accurate for what your business offers online. So if you offer a plumbing or if your kitchen remodel or something like that, you're going to find the most accurate category to list there so that when people do search around or near that key term, you'll show up.
Dan: Well, that's very interesting and it's absolutely free. Gosh, every business will jump on that.
Candie: Yeah. You'd be surprised at how many businesses don't claim their Google My Business listing, and it's fairly frustrating as marketers to look up something online and not be able to find the accurate information because it's one of the easiest first steps you can take to being found locally.
Louis: Where would you go? Would you go to do it?
Candie: You can just literally Google Google My Business and then hit start and sign up.
Dan: Wow, that sounds pretty simple. Like you said, if you've already got a website, it'll link it to the website, but even if you don't have a website, you can still register for this.
Melissa: 100%. Yep. It is the fastest way, fastest and easiest way to be found locally to get your business found.
Louis: Does it affect your search results as well?
Melissa: It can. Yeah. Well, mainly in a local sense, but yes. It can definitely affect you being found.
Dan: Oh, yeah. Any way you can get your word out there is great.
Melissa: Yeah, plus why wouldn't you want to have a place where people can leave reviews and A, either so that you can have other people see how awesome you are or so they can bring up an issue that they had and then you can fix it so that doesn't happen again for later customers.
Candie: Yeah, and one of the things that we always encourage our customers to do is respond to reviews on Google. So even if you have a negative review, like Melissa was saying, you want to respond to it and give some kind of helpful feedback or correct the problem because that's really where your customers go to find out whether or not you're a legitimate business or whether or not you're a good business. So if you have a bunch of negative reviews and you haven't responded to any of them, it makes you look very negligent as a business owner so you want to respond in a positive way to try to solve a problem so that other potential customers can see that you're somebody that they will probably want to work with or buy from.
Dan: Yeah. You see some of these reviews that people will do. Some of them can be quite negative, but I think when people look at the reviews and they look at the overall positives versus the overall negatives, they get a pretty good feel for the business. So you're right, if you respond to that negative, it could have been a one-time deal.
Melissa: Yeah, exactly.
Candie: Yep, for sure. And this does tie into how do you optimize your website for search and that's really our next topic. We might be speeding through, but we'll talk more about ... There's a lot more in depth content in our next two sections. Google My Business is kind of a small piece of the puzzle, but it's so important we didn't want to skip it. Really, there's a lot of tactics that you can use to optimize your website and really, it's centered around search engine optimization. In our industry, we call it SEO and nobody knows what it means. We just talk about SEO, SEO, SEO all the time, but it really just means making sure that your website is found online and search. And there's so many tactics we use to optimize websites and really, it starts with making sure your site and now making sure your site is mobile friendly because as you know, we all use our phones constantly. And the first place we go to find something is our phone. So if your website doesn't show up in a way that's easy for somebody on mobile to view it, Google is going to ding you and you're not going to show up nearly at the top of search as you would want. Google really gives preference to sites that are mobile friendly.
Dan: I guess because so many people have phones, that that's probably going to be one of your main targets, wouldn't it?
Candie: Yes. 100%. Now it kind of depends on what kind of business you run. A lot of companies locally will want to have a mobile site because people are searching locally on their phones and that's a really big, that's been a big push for Google in the last few years. Some businesses even believe it or not, Bit-Wizards, we have less mobile traffic than you would think because a lot of people looking for our services are sitting at their desks. They're sitting at a desktop computer all day long, so we're a B2B company so they're searching for us and they're finding us on their desktop. Whereas, for companies like Kitchen and Bath, one of our customers people are always searching home remodel near me and near me is a big phrase that you'll probably see if you're using Google. You'll search up pizza and automatically the next thing that will pop up, kind of in those auto-populated search results, are the words near me. And that's because Google is seeing people type that so often that now that's just kind of the next step, right? So you have to be optimized for mobile because you're going to want to be found on mobile.
Dan: I see. I guess they would be only maybe going to Bit-Wizards on their mobile phone oftentimes if they're regular desktop is all hinked up or they need your help. So other than that, I guess they're probably sitting at the desktop.
Candie: Yeah. Most of our traffic, I think only 30% of our traffic comes from mobile, believe it or not, but most of it comes from desktop traffic. However, the next thing that you want to cover on your site to be optimized is to make sure that you optimize using metadata. And that's just a very complicated sounding word, it's very simple. It's really making sure that your title and your description on your website, on your web pages of your website are accurate describing what is actually on that page. If you have a page all about software engineering but you don't have the word software engineering anywhere in the title or anywhere in the description, then quite possibly you won't be found for that page online. For someone looking for software engineering services, that page isn't going to pop up. So along with metadata, you also have different ... If you've ever read a blog, which most all of us have, you see titles and you see subtitles within that blog and they're called header tags. You want to make sure that every page on your site has a header tag and we tag those with H1s, H2s, H3s and that's all very complicated and probably means nothing to most people, but it's really just a hierarchy of information. So if you thought of it as outline format, you want to make sure that that top level topic then has sub topics underneath it. It's all broken up. And mainly, that's because people don't read everything. They're going to scan it, and so does Google. Google scans it and it says, " Is this information important? And why do I want to serve it up for somebody else who's looking for this information?" So if all of that information doesn't look logical and doesn't have a really solid, good, clear meaning to Google, you very well might not come up in a relevant search category for that particular topic, whatever it is.
Jenna: And metadata-
Dan: That could be like, you might be on page three or four or five. If you don't have the right information up there, you won't pop up on the page. It's kind of what you're saying then, in the search.
Candie: Yeah, correct. Go ahead, Jenna.
Jenna: Metadata also extends to the titles that you give your images on your website because obviously Google doesn't look at a picture of a cat and see a cat, so you have to put the word cat or kitten or whatever you want that picture to be recognized as to have Google understand what that picture is and that happens on your web pages as well.
Candie: Yep. Good point.
Dan: Now, that's interesting.
Candie: The next point that I have here is to optimize your site for speed. This may be something that if you've had a company build your website, or you have a web developer on staff, this is something that you want to make sure that they address because if your site loads slowly, you may ... First of all, people just get tired of waiting and they'll just go somewhere else. I do that all the time. Very impatient. We're all very impatient these days. If it doesn't load in a second and a half, we're moving on. Google also sees that as a negative, if your site loads slowly. That's something that you may want to address with your web development company, or if you have somebody on staff that works on your website, that's very important.
Dan: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I'm like you. If I go to a website and the little thing keeps going round and round, like, " Okay, I'll just find another place."
Candie: Yeah. It's just not worth it.
Dan: We are impatient. We as Americans, we are so impatient. We want it now.
Candie: That's right. So the next thing you want to do also is increase inbound links and an inbound link is really just somebody else who links to your website. Google likes to see what happens in the real world mirrored online, because they want to see that you're legitimate and that you're involved in the community and that you're doing what you should as a business. One way to get inbound links is if maybe you sponsor a tee-ball team or you sponsor a local nonprofit. Ask them, " Hey, can you put my logo and a description of why we sponsored you on your website and link back to my website?" That gives you a little bit more authority, especially if their website has authority. That's something that is pretty simple to do if you're involved in the community, and it just takes a little bit of extra effort just to ask. But it's one good way to get inbound linked. Jenna, I know you do a lot of inbound linking. Do you have any other ideas?
Jenna: If you find somebody that you want to have a relationship with locally, then you can reach out to them and not necessarily sponsor them or sponsor their event or something, but you could just talk to them to build a piece of content like a blog where you write about their services and then they link back to you.
Candie: Yep. That's also a really good way to do it.
Dan: It's almost like a networking sort of thing through Google, isn't it?
Candie: Pretty much. I mean, that is what the internet is.
Dan: Wow, okay. There you go. But when you put different links on there, then you're kind of networking with the other clients, if you will, and other people that you work with. So I guess in a way, that makes you kind of like more legitimate because you're doing business with a lot of other companies.
Candie: That's correct. That's exactly correct.
Dan: Oh, that makes sense.
Candie: So the next thing that we, and you hit on it earlier was the use of relevant keywords in your content that you create regularly, you want to make sure that whatever content that you are writing on your site, and Jen is going to talk a little bit more about building content, but the content that you do have on your site is built around keywords that are relevant for what you're selling. So instead of software engineering, say you're selling candles and your entire website are these specialty candles. You obviously want to use the word candles, but there's other key terms around candles, like scents and maybe specific scents. There's different things that you want to use to make sure that you're found for candles. And if you don't have those right keywords, Google is definitely not going to serve you up when someone searches candles near me, like we talked about earlier. Using those relevant keywords in your content is very important and Jen is going to hit on that again, probably in a minute. And then I just throw up some tools at the very end here that kind of help you optimize and just analyze how your site is doing online, and the one big one that we all use, it is free, is Google Analytics. There's so much data there. You might even want to take a couple of their free courses to learn how to use the tool, because it is pretty in depth, very convoluted. There's a lot there, but it is useful. If you do get in there, you can generate a tag and put it on your website and make sure you can pull all that data into Google Analytics to actually see what's going on on your website to help make some decisions on how to optimize it. We use a couple of paid tools. One is called Moz Pro, which helps you with those keywords helps you analyze them and figure out where you want to rank and where your competitors are ranking. That one is paid and then SEMrush. If you really start to get into it and you really want to nerd out on some keywords, that would be the tool for you, but it would definitely not be one I would start with.
Dan: A little confusing at the beginning, is that what you're saying?
Candie: Yeah. I would definitely start a little bit lower, get used to Google Analytics, get used to looking at your traffic and your user behavior and things like that. That's how you can kind of get started optimizing your website, but really I think the next section really is Jenna, she's going to talk about how you stay visible and create content.
Jenna: Creating a content, that's a pretty big umbrella term, mostly because content doesn't mean one thing. When you say, that you might think immediately of pictures on Facebook, but creating content for your business actually extends from your blogs, the things that you write on your website, to your social media, to eBooks and white papers, and even your newsletters and the email content that you send to people. It is a way that you can stay visible, and it's a way that you can build trust and relationships with potential clients because I think that that something you can realize is that you see ads all the time. You turn on the TV, there's an ad. You walk down the street, there's an ad. We're kind of exhausted from ads. And so, while you can spend a lot of money building ads and promoting yourself, one of the more authentic ways to reach those clients is to create content that really resonates with them and that helps you connect with them. For Bit-Wizards, we're talking to people who are looking for a managed IT services. Instead of just throwing it out there, " Hey, we have managed IT services." We're going to say, " Hey, let's talk about the ways that you can fix your computer on your own." Or, " Let's talk about the ways that you can improve your computer speed on your own." We're giving you the tools to do these things and then through that, people are going to start to trust us, start to recognize us as an authority on these topics. And then when they do have a question, they know who to ask.
Dan: Oh, that makes sense. You're kind of building a relationship without really having to build a relationship. You're having something there that they're reading and they're following you, they're connecting with you, and then when they really do need you, they reach out to you.
Dan: That's good.
Jenna: And also, you're building yourself up as an expert in that field. So if somebody went to your website and you're that same candle place, and maybe you have a blog on how to make candles and how you make candles and how you find the best scent, you're showing people that you done your research. You know what you're talking about. You're not just some random person who's making or stealing candles from someone else. You are an authority on this candle topic. I've taken the candle topic too far.
Dan: They're made in China.
Candie: And as you build more content and blogs, you're also showing Google that you're an authority on those things. The more that you have that kind of content on your website, the higher that Google will serve you in organic search ranking which is another weird big term. But basically, yeah, it'll see you as an authority the longer, the more content that you put on your website.
Jenna: That actually goes hand in hand with one of the most important parts about content marketing is consistency, and that goes across the board. If you say that you are going to send out a monthly newsletter, you better send out that monthly newsletter. If you say that you're going to show up five times a week on social media, you show up five times a week on social media. And that is because that builds trust and not doing those things can destroy that trust. If somebody is waiting for you to come on a radio show on a Tuesday and you don't do that thing, you are breaking trust with those people, which makes you seem like you're not reliable, you're not trustworthy, and they're going to find somebody else to listen to on that Tuesday morning. That all goes hand in hand. In terms of ...
Louis: Can I go back to the other topic too, when you're setting yourself as an expert, giving away ... Some business owners may be concerned about giving away the secret sauce. We hope in this show to give you information, the information that we actually service to many of our clients, but I think this is not a big concern because obviously if people can do it themselves, they will. But at some point, business owners or the marketing department, the sales department, the operations department, they're doing everything. When it reaches a certain level, by building that trust, they eventually will come to you when they want to delegate that out and you have a trusted vendor. So I think a lot of owners are like, " Should I give the secret sauce away in there?" It's like, " Yeah, absolutely."
Jenna: That's exactly what you should be doing because you want to show the people that this is a challenge. This is a pain point that they're hitting, and you want to just find exactly what that is and how you offer is different than what somebody else offers, because not all managed IT services are the same. And so, at Bit-Wizards, we want to say, " We do it this way, and we do it better, and we do it in this specific way." And so, when somebody is looking for people who are friendly and approachable and reliable, they're going to come to us because they know that that's what we offer and we're very consistent about presenting that on social media and in all of our different ways.
Dan: Yeah. And also to your point, Louis, giving away the secret sauce idea, there's a lot of people out there that would appreciate that in one sense is that I don't really want to do this because I really think I'll mess this up, so I'm going to leave this to the experts.
Jenna: Yep, and so when you're creating content, one of the biggest pieces is really knowing your audience because not everybody can be found on the same places online and not everybody wants to consume information in the same way. So if you have a younger audience, maybe they are more active on Instagram. And maybe if you have a slightly older audience, they're more active on Facebook. Or if you have a more professional audience, maybe it's LinkedIn. And so, those are even just social. Of course, writing your blog topics, if you're writing a blog for a new parent, that's totally different than writing a blog for a parent of three kids. You're serving them different kinds of information. So when you're starting your content marketing, one of the most important things is to determine who your audience is so that when you are creating content, you're making messages that really speak to those specific people, because throwing a wide net doesn't really work on the internet. There's so much content out there and there's so much information. You need to get specific on who you're talking to and telling them what kind of information is helpful to them.
Dan: Yeah. I can see probably when people search for different things, I would imagine people use all kinds of different keywords. There might be some sort of thing they're looking for that may not be like your average keyword for whatever they're looking for. It might be some specific thing, and like you're talking about how everything is worded, as long as that is in there, you'll still find that.
Jenna: Exactly, and one thing along the buyer's journey at the beginning, man, you just start to do research about a subject. You might not know the very specific key terms, but as you get farther into your buying journey and you start to learn more about pizza, then maybe you know the specific ingredients that go into it that maybe you weren't familiar with at the beginning. So again, you're using those different keywords, which plays into the SEO that Candie was talking about and it just goes all in together. It's a lot of pieces, but they do play in together in some sort of a way.
Dan: So at Bit-Wizards, do you guys actually create websites or do you enhance websites or both?
Jenna: So those happened on all different levels at Bit-Wizards. We create websites through the wire framing, but then at the same time, write the content and optimize it for search.
Dan: Okay, and then do you manage the websites for people for the businesses as well?
Candie: Yeah, we can definitely do that. Our digital marketing team really does take that on for our clients. We typically make sure that, like we talked about the SEO piece, SEO is not something you do one time. It's a maintenance task. You do it every month. We do certain things we do every single month. Google My Business, Melissa goes in to optimize every single month.
Melissa: I do. I do Google My Business posts for the clients that I manage on the team multiple times a week.
Candie: Yeah, and as far as building content like Jenna was saying, you have to be consistent. It's something that we do weekly for most of our clients, so it just depends on what industry they're in and what topics they're trying to cover.
Louis: That can be a challenge too, but there's ways to repurpose content. Take this radio show. Obviously, we want to give information to the public that are listening to the show right now, but we'll also take that and put it on our website. We use a transcribing tool that actually gets it verbalized so that it's optimized for the search engines as well and get served up. The radio ads that we have posted, we're actually going to make little videos for those to put them out in different formats, so you can repurpose content and Jenna would probably know other ways to do that.
Jenna: Absolutely, so that's a really great example using a radio show or a video and turning that into a blog which then you'll share on social media, then you send to your email newsletter list. You can take one piece of content and turn it into so many different things. And again, that's just speaking to ... Maybe you have part of your audience that loves to sit down and watch a video, but you have other people who don't have the time, but they'll listen to it in a podcast type format. And so, that really depends on who your audience is and knowing them, you can take one piece of content and turn it into different things and make it consumable in the way that they like to consume their information. That also helps you again, build that trust, but also start to build online conversations and online community. We have this radio show shared on social media. Other people share that on social media. They start to talk about it. Maybe it reaches an audience that maybe you hadn't thought about because somebody shared it in a specific place. And so again, just leaving one piece of content in one place doesn't necessarily ... You can't just wait for people to stumble upon it. You do need to put it into the world and try to reach people in that way.
Dan: It sounds to me the like the way you shot ... To me, it's like shotgunning your information out to as many people as you can possibly contact with everything that you're doing, repurposing it for one and another, going into social media and your websites. If you do that, you're just advertising to everybody that you're here, " We're here. We're ready for business."
Jenna: Absolutely, but you're doing it strategically and authentically and you're really making it so that it's information and content that's valuable and useful to people so it doesn't feel like a full blast of ads.
Dan: Yeah, and while you're tailoring it for every different media that you're using, it sounds like.
Candie: Exactly. This is a lot in one episode and we know that, but we figured would be a little bit of a Tip of the Wand, kind of tribute to the name, just a little bit of an insight into how to be found locally online, but we also have a free digital marketing strategy workbook on our website. So if you go to themagic. bitwizards. com / digital-marketing-strategy-notebook, I know that's very long. I'm sorry, themagic.bitwizards.com/digital-marketing-strategy-workbook. Not notebook, it's dash workbook.
Dan: Oh, yeah.
Candie: You can download the workbook and it's interactive, so you can download the PDF. You can read about a lot of things we talked about today, but you can also input your own information to build out, kind of get started building out a marketing strategy for your business, and it's a really useful tool. Then from there, if you want to do any more insight, you can give us a call because we can definitely sit down and talk to you about how you can build out your own strategy.
Dan: Gosh, yeah. This, honestly, that's a lot of content this morning, but it was a great overview on how people can get their business out there in different mediums that you guys use and websites and Google My Business was a great information. I didn't know about that personally. **crosstalk**
Candie: Well, you have to go set up your own Google my business, Dan
Dan: I am. I definitely got to do that. Thank you all for joining us this morning. Who do we have in here with this morning? We have a Louis, and we have Melissa, and Jenna, and Candie. We want to thank all of you for taking the time this morning.
Candie: Thank you so much.
Louis: Thank you, Dan.
Melissa: Thank you.