It’s (Finally) the End of the Road for Google Plus

Google announced earlier this week that it will be shutting down its social network, Google Plus (Google+). According to Google, Google+ for consumers will be sunsetting over the next 10 months, and will officially close in August 2019, meeting the same fate as other abandoned Google platforms such as Google Reader, Wave, and Buzz. The demise of Google+ is no shock, but what finally made it official was none other than a privacy breach.

What started as a way for Google to compete with Facebook, Google+ is now facing a similar situation to Facebook’s biggest issue to date, the Cambridge Analytica Scandal. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report on Google+’s data breach, saying that a bug exposed the personal information of up to 500,000 users to 438 third-party apps. This bug was active from 2015 up until March 2018 when Google discovered the problem and solved it.

Google’s decision to stay quiet about this privacy issue for over six months was likely due to the fact that Facebook was experiencing catastrophic backlash during the Cambridge Analytica Scandal, and Google did not want to join Facebook in the spotlight. Their silence is now raising eyebrows from its consumers who use other Google products such as Gmail, Google Chrome, and YouTube.

Although the privacy breach made for its official demise, Google+ had been facing a long, slow death for years after never really taking off when it launched in June 2011. The idea of Google+ was to create a new way of sharing information by organizing friends into groups and choosing who gets to see what, instead of blasting people with every piece of information someone shares. When it was first launched, Google+ had over 10 million users in just two weeks, but now, according to Google, 90% of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds long.

Some people believe Google+ failed because it was too late to the social platform market, while others believe its way of sharing information was just not up to par with consumers wanted, but no matter what the case, it is still shocking to see yet another platform born from such a powerful company fail in such a huge way. Although Google+ did not get as much engagement from consumers as expected, Google will be reinventing the platform for businesses to use for internal communication between coworkers.

Tips for Optimizing Your Business’s Website for “Near Me” Searches

The “near me” search phenomenon has significantly increased over the past few years due to the rise of mobile and voice search. This explosive change in search behavior stems from users expecting instant and accurate results on the fly, whether they are looking for restaurants, doctors, shopping, or more in their area. In order to catch these users in a short window of time, here are some tips for optimizing your website for “near me” searches.

  1. Mobile Optimization

Mobile optimization has been a necessity for years now, but with the majority of “near me” searches coming from mobile devices, it is even more crucial to have a responsive website. Users who are making “near me” searches are often looking for quick results, so if your website is hard to navigate on a mobile device, users are more likely to leave the site and find a different business in the area with more readily available information. Optimizing your website for mobile users will give your business more opportunity to be recognized by consumers.

  1. Content

As for content, there are a couple of steps you can take to increase the chance of your business showing up in “near me” searches. The simplest step is to make sure your business’s address is located throughout your website, preferably at the bottom of each page. Some business website owners have also added the keyword “near me” in title tags and throughout their pages, while others focus mainly on creating localized content or blogs (“Best Restaurants in (City Name)”, “Top Doctors near (Street Name)”, etc.) or incorporating geo-targeted keywords (boutiques in (Neighborhood Name), law school (City Name)”, etc.) which gives Google a better idea of your business’s exact location.

  1. Business Listings & Reviews

Updating your business listings on Google My Business, Yelp, Yellow Pages, and more provides users with your most accurate information. Having your business’s current information on listing sites will not only allow for more opportunities to be found by users but will also give Google more opportunity to verify your information and location. Reviews also help enhance the credibility of your business to Google, so having more positive reviews on your listing sites, as well as responses to reviews, will help increase your visibility for “near me” searches.

Whitfield Signs Website Launch

Our team at RobMark has been busy, and we are excited to announce the launch of Whitfield Signs’ new and improved website, whitfieldsigns.com. Based in Statesboro, Georgia, Whitfield Signs is a company that not only designs, repairs, and installs signs, but also creates other customized branding pieces for businesses, schools, and facilities. Whitfield Signs needed a website that would increase their online presence and match the quality of their remarkable work— some of this work being RobMark’s very own indoor and outdoor office signage.

RobMark’s team of creative minds went to work and designed a website that is organized and functional yet modern and eye-catching. Whitfield Signs’ new website features a simple navigation, so users can easily explore the company’s various services, its team of creative experts, and more. To showcase Whitfield Signs’ latest work, RobMark added a creative, online portfolio to the website and also incorporated the company’s Instagram feed into the homepage. With the website’s responsive design, users will enjoy the same stunning and operative website across any mobile, tablet, or desktop device.

Go ahead and see the new website for yourself at whitfieldsigns.com.

How To Keep Steady Traffic After A Website Redesign

Nowadays, your website is often your audience’s first impression of your business, and an outdated website can reflect an outdated business. Whether you are looking to improve usability, better communicate your brand, or just give your site a fresh look, a website redesign has the power to take your business to the next level. If not done right, however, you may create your shiny new website, log in to Google Analytics, and see that traffic has actually dropped in comparison to the old website. To help avoid this issue, here are some tips on how to keep steady traffic after a website redesign.

Redirects

One of the most common causes of traffic loss is improperly setting up redirects to your new website. If your URLs have changed at all, you need to make sure that each one is set up with a 301 redirect. This will tell search engines and browsers that the page has been permanently moved and to pass the rankings from the old page to the new page, helping drastically with SEO for the new site. Without these redirects, search engines and browsers will think the page is completely gone, often resulting in a substantial drop in traffic.

Content

In many cases, redesigning a website includes rewriting the copy to align with the new look and feel of the site. However, copy changes cause Google to reconsider the relevancy of the page for the certain topic, since its algorithm is focused on making sure users are getting the most accurate results during their searches. If keywords are removed from titles, header tags, body copy, and so on, relevancy will drop which, in turn, results in a drop in traffic. It is best to work with an experienced SEO specialist to ensure either your old keywords or new, updated keywords are added back into the copy.

Structure

The structure of your website has a bigger impact on your website’s success than many other factors. When you have a confusing or poorly laid out site, it is hard for Google to index and understand your website, resulting in less value and traffic drops. This issue also negatively impacts user experience. If you are considering completely changing up your website’s structure, then you will need to create a new sitemap and submit it to Search Console in order to speed up the re-indexing rate of the new site. You should also pay attention to your internal links and make sure that none of them are broken or outdated, which can also cause value and ranking issues for your site.

By keeping redirects, content, and structure in mind, you can lessen your chance of having substantial traffic loss after a website redesign. Although a long and time-consuming process, redesigning your website can propel your business forward and show your audience that you are up-to-date and ready to take on more business.

Google Updates Tools for JavaScript Sites

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If your website is built in JavaScript, then you are in luck. Google has recently updated the mobile-friendly test and rich media test tools, so websites created in JavaScript, AJAX and other forms of JavaScript frameworks can operate smoother and be better debugged.

Your website may look great from a desktop computer, but when accessing it from a mobile device, it is important to make sure that it still functions properly. Google’s mobile-friendly test has been updated to better show you what your website looks like on a mobile device, and it will also give you a list of any mobile usability problems it detects.

The rich media test looks at the structured data on your website and tells you which rich results can be generated from it. Also, this tool has been revised so you can see a more accurate representation of your website in Search.

These updates from Google are advancements in making JavaScript websites run smoother by catching any mistakes or bugs that might be hindering them.

Google Launches New Video Format- Outstream Ads

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Last week, Google launched its new video format, Outstream Ads, designed for the mobile environment and created to present your ads to audiences beyond YouTube.

What is different about Outstream Ads is that you do not need to have a YouTube video present to run your video ad campaigns, unlike TrueView or Bumper ads. Because of this function, you are now able to run your video ads on different platforms to reach more potential customers.

Outstream Ads is built exclusively for Google video partners, which include publisher websites and mobile apps, so yes, this new format is mobile-only. As users are scrolling on their mobile device, your video will begin to play with the sound off, and then the user can tap the ad to unmute it. Conveniently, the user also has the option to restart the ad.

Marketers can now purchase Outstream ads on a viewable CPM basis. The format is similar to Responsive ads, with Google enhancing the look of the ad with a message, logo, and link. All you need to provide to start your Outstream video campaign is a logo, video, headline, description, and destination link.