How Google Plus will boost your local business reputation

At the beginning of June, Google made some fundamental changes to their Google Places listings.  They removed Google Places and changed it to be part of their social media networking platform Google +.

It is now called Google + Local. And while it is a huge change that will mix up things for some time, the benefits to a local business will be boosted dramatically, if used effectively.

Google + has grown faster than Facebook ever did in its first 6 months.  While accounts are now at around 400 million, Google has decided to boost that level faster by merging everything with Google +.

And when you consider that globally, Google has around 1 billion user accounts, once they are all merged and being used by customers, Google + will be bigger than Facebook.

So, why is this change so great for your local business?

It’s all about Social Proof and Trust.

Everyone thinks and talks about Facebook being the next big way for businesses to get more business; Facebook is a closed social network.  They fought to stop Google from indexing pages.  If a bunch of people love your business and leave reviews on FB that is as far as it goes. It will only be seen by your FB friends.

Google + on the other hand is open.  Every person with a Google Plus account that writes a review will be seen by Google.  If lots of your customers write good or bad reviews, every one of them will be seen.

When local people search for a local business and they find your business and your competitors on the first page, they will either go to the website or the Google + Local page.  We know they will be more likely to visit the +Local page if there are reviews there.

The power of this is yet to be realised, not only by local business but by all types of businesses.

But, reviews on their own will not be enough.  It will also be the trust factor of those reviews.  For instance, if someone writes one review for your business and never touches their Google + account again, Google will know that and may remove the review or reduce its impact.  So the trust factor of those reviewers is going to be huge.

It will affect your business reputation.

It will affect your search engine rankings.

Google Plus will definitely pass Facebook’s number of accounts within the next 12 months and your local business must be ready to take part in it.

There is no doubt Google Plus will become the backbone of search engine rankings. And it’s already started.

Get A Bigger Piece of The Local Marketing Pie

Barely a day goes by without reading in the daily papers or hearing on the radio or TV that consumers are saving more than they are spending.

And we are seeing it everyday in our local communities, with small businesses closing their doors.  And even more businesses cutting back in some way or another.

It all sounds like doom and gloom but the great thing is that unemployment has not been growing very much.

So what does all this mean to your local business, small or medium?

If you look at previous economic slowdowns, the businesses that boosted their customer service and really focused on carving out a niche grew faster than their competitors.  And many of those businesses were started during these supposedly quiet economy.

As we all know, during the good or bad times, there is only a certain slice of the total pie you can grab.  So how do you grab a larger slice of that pie for your business?

Quite simply, by using local search and mobile search marketing more effectively than your competitors you have the ability to take  a larger piece of the consumer pie.

To take that larger piece, you have to ensure your business is positioned effectively.  Here are some ways to do just that.

  1. Be on page one of Google in your local area for the keywords that are most commonly typed in by your customers.
  2. Be easily found on Google mobile
  3. Ensure you have a website that makes it easy for customers to contact you
  4. Ensure you have a mobile friendly website that makes it easy for customers to call you with one tap
  5. Offer packages and deals that your competitors can’t or won’t offer – really refine your niche

How you put each point into practice is the subject of many other articles on local and mobile marketing.

You have to be where your customers are looking and that is on Google using their computers and increasing their mobile phones and tablets.  Customers will no longer use a phone directory or the newspapers to find you, they will be looking for your business or your competitors using search engines which will mostly likely be Google.

You must take action before your competitors do.  Go to it

Mobile Web Access Accelerating with Businesses lagging behind

I’ve just seen some statistics on mobile access to the web that should make businesses get up and take action.

According to  ITU and Wireless Intelligence (2011), 82.7% of all mobile device owners has active broadband subscriptions.  Add to that 65% of all mobile phones in Australia are smartphones.  Number of mobile phones in Australia 26 million.

Allowing for the fact that our population is only around 21 million, that means approximately 11 million Australians are using their smartphones to access the Web.

And businesses, especially local businesses can’t see or won’t acknowledge the changes going on around them.

Old print advertising and marketing is dying fast and many local business owners are seeing the changes but are not doing anything to take advantage of the opportunity mobile phones can give their business.

If you take just the basics of business marketing, you can see how mobile marketing will impact each one.

Those marketing steps are:

  1. Bring in regular flow of new customers
  2. Get existing customers back to buy again
  3. Get customers to buy more often

Phone directory and newspaper ads only ever addressed number 1.  Writing, printing and sending letters helped with number 2 and possibly number 3.

Mobile marketing manages all three and expands on them in the most measurable methods ever possible for a serious business marketer.

Mobile websites address number 1.

Mobile apps address number 2 and number 3.

SMS messages address number 2 and number 3.

QR coupons address all three

If you want to expand the range even further, then Word of Mouth and Reviews can be managed very effectively with mobile website, a mobile app and a good strategy.  Add to that the ability to test a campaign quickly and inexpensively and get measurable results within hours or days.

If your business is serious about surviving and thriving in the next 3-4 years, then mobile must become a major part of every business owners marketing.  Which mobile strategy can only be determined by the business, it’s customers and it’s attitude to building a strong online and mobile marketing presence.

Every business is different and it should never be a template approach to marketing or building a mobile website.  It must all fit together in the strategy that is going to bring the  best return on investment.

If you want to find out more, call Warren to discuss how mobile websites, mobile apps and mobile marketing can be part of the plans for your business.

Yellow Pages gone by 2014 and replaced by Local Search

Finally, Telstra have admitted that Sensis the division that manages Yellow Pages directories is in sharp decline.  While they haven’t said exactly how fast the decline is, they have started to put employees off.

12 months of Google local search and the fast growth of smartphones to access the Internet has seriously dented yellow pages once powerful control of business advertising.  Businesses are stopping their yellow pages phone book ads in droves.

Yellow pages ignored the ominous warnings over the past 2 years as Web access kept growing and people’s usage of search engines increased.

In fact, it has caught out many businesses small and medium.  While many businesses have or will stop their yellow pages ads, many are not re-allocating those advertising dollars elsewhere of value.

Only 54% of small/medium sized businesses have a website.  And even those that have a site, very, very few of them appear or will ever appear on page 1 of a search engine.

Business owners and managers have failed to keep up with the change in consumer use of the Web.  Even though they are using the Web in much the same way, they have not acknowledged virtually every one of their prospective customers has also changed.

Many business owners have thought the 15-29 year generation is where most of the change has been happening.  What they haven’t realised is the biggest changes have been in the over 40’s.  In the space of barely one year, these consumers have gone from using local phone directories to searching exclusively online for products and services in their local area.

And its’ not just searching from a computer.  Many consumers now use their iPhone or smartphone to search the Web to compare prices, to check reviews or just to find a business that provides a product or service.

Business owners must realise that in the post yellow pages age, having a website is only one small step.

Every business must have an online marketing strategy to take advantage of local search marketing and mobile search marketing.

The opportunities are there for switched on business people to build their online marketing or risk being left behind by their competitors.