Apple Maps to Crowdsource Business Listings

Apple Maps Connect

Apple’s map and navigation app has run into troubled waters over the last few years due to poor performance and strong competition from other apps such as the Google Maps app. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, has promised to work “nonstop” until it is the best map app out there, and even wrote an open letter apologizing for the lack of performance back in 2012. With that being said, fast-forward to today, and Apple Maps is still a bit of a disappointment.

It’s no secret that Google rules the realm of business listings, and Apple is desperately trying to keep up. So much so that the company is turning to you, the small business owner, for help. Apple has recently rolled out a new self-service data entry portal, Apple Maps Connect, which will assist business owners in uploading their business information to create an Apple Maps business listing.

Crowdsourcing this information is a win for both parties. Apple gets the data it wants and needs, while the business owner gets full control of a free business listing that will help drive consumers to their doorstep. If your company is already listed on Apple Maps, you will still be able to have control and edit when needed. The Apple Maps lists will not only show the street address, but will also provide the web address and links to the business’s social media accounts, including Yelp.

Business owners can reap several benefits of having properly optimized and verified local listings. Robmark Web assists local businesses in Savannah and the surrounding areas in setting up and managing local listings across multiple platforms, including Apple Maps, Google Local, Bing, Yelp, Manta, and more. If you are interested in creating new listings or claiming existing listings, please call 912-921-1040.

What Is The Best Digital Channel For Local Businesses?

Local search display on ipad

When it comes to local businesses, generating leads is a case of “work smarter, not harder.” There is very little time or money available to waste on avenues that do not generate any return on investment (ROI). That being said, which digital channels generate the most traffic and provide the most ROI for local businesses?

BrightLocal, a SEO software company, ran a survey with the objective of better understanding which digital channels take the most time and effort, and which ones deliver the greatest return, with hope that these findings could help local businesses make better-informed decisions about where to allocate their marketing time and budget.

Quality Leads
According to the survey, Organic and Local Search deliver the highest quality leads, followed by Direct Traffic and Google AdWords, which has seen an increase in quality leads from 2014. It isn’t much of a surprise that Search—Organic or Local—holds the number one spot, since they both have the advantage of attracting customers who are considered “high intent” and are already engaged in the purchase process, which means they are more likely to convert to a sale.

Direct Traffic also brings in high-quality leads because it is often comprised of returning customers or consumers who are already familiar with the business. This signifies appreciation or trust, which improves conversions drastically.

Social channels, though business owners are spending a reasonable amount of time optimizing them, aren’t delivering high-quality leads. However, social channels have proven valuable as engagement and communication tools used ideally to build brand affinity.

ROI
The survey’s findings for ROI are very similar to the findings for quality leads; Local and Organic Search prove to have the highest ROI compared to all other digital marketing channels. Though it does take time and money to develop a well-established, long-lasting presence in Local and Organic Search, businesses are getting out of it what they put in.

Website Traffic
Aside from quality leads and ROI, the survey took website traffic into consideration, as well, and according to the survey, Local Search was the leading traffic source. Local Search beat out Organic Search in the amount of website traffic by 6 percent, which is a 4 percent increase over last year. Local Search gives small and midsize businesses the opportunity to compete against larger brands and websites on the search engine results pages, however, the Local Search real estate is much smaller than the organic listings, especially since Google’s recent switch from seven local results to three.

Local Search has proved to be the winner of the title ‘Best Digital Channel for a Local Business’ with Organic Search as a close runner-up. Local Search drives traffic to your website, develops quality leads, and gives you the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to return on investment.

Robmark Web has experienced SEO specialists on staff who are able to work with local businesses on developing their Local and Organic Search presence. If you are interested in a local SEO consultation, call (912) 921-1040.

Your Company’s Domain Name Matters

Chossing a Domain Name

When starting a business, naming the company is somewhat a game of the chicken or the egg; which came first, the company name or the domain name? When considering a name for your company, you want something easy to remember that also describes the business, which is the same as a domain name. Easy enough, right? But, what happens when the name you picked isn’t available as a domain name? As of March 31, 2015, there are 294 million registered domain names, with registrations growing 6.5% every year. This means available online real estate is quickly decreasing, forcing entrepreneurs to choose more unique domain names to prevent stepping over any legal lines. When considering a domain name for your business there are several aspects you need to consider, including availability, the attractiveness, the ability to pronounce, SEO rank-ability, and extensions.

First, crosscheck your company’s name across the Internet, including on social media platforms, to make sure no one else is using it. It’s also important to consider cyber-squatters. Cyber-squatters register pre-established domain names across different extensions to profit off of the traffic. Established companies should consider buying popular misspellings of their brand, as well as different extensions to avoid cyber-squatters.

Next, you should consider the impression you want to give. New companies can opt for a branded domain, which could give some indication on what the company does, like Travelocity. Or, you can tap into human curiosity and go with something less direct, but easy to remember, like Kayak. Keep in mind that Millennials and Baby Boomers are attracted to different things so it is important to consider your demographic when coming up with a domain or company name.

According to Nielsen research, 84% of consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations above all advertising. Think short and catchy, something easy to pronounce. The days of keyword-rich domain names are no more. Not only does Google prioritize shorter URLs, but also users are more likely to refer to companies with catchy names that are easy to spell and don’t require hyphens.

Though .com is still the number one choice for a domain extension, there are now generic top-level domains that can help companies describe their service, such as .travel. Not only could this help describe your service, but also it can add some personalization and make it stand out in the industry. Remember when Overstock.com switched to O.co?

Buying a domain name is the first step in building a brand. Start your entrepreneurial journey on the right foot by considering the above. Need assistance choosing a domain name? Robmark Web’s team of SEO specialists and website designers are happy to assist you in finding the perfect fit.

Google Unleashes Panda 4.2

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Over the last 10 months, whenever anything happened on Google, it was speculated that it was the effect of the long-awaited Panda update. However, it wasn’t until last week that Google officially unleashed the newest update.

The launch of Panda 4.2 is slowly rolling-out and has reportedly affected about 2-3% of English-speaking queries. This update means anyone affected by Panda in the last update has a chance to re-emerge, if they have made the appropriate changes. This also means another opportunity to be penalized if you’re still not following the rules. Since Panda 4.2 is rolling out slowly, no drastic changes will be seen, but rather a gradual change in the listings.

The original Panda algorithm update launched in February 2011 in an effort to remove low-quality content from top listings on the Search Engine Result Pages and affected nearly 12% of English-speaking sites. There have been several updates to Panda over the years—some have been announced, and some have not. Have you seen any changes in your rankings since the new update?

Is Link Building bad?

google-links

Link building is a popular strategy used for Search Engine Optimization. Having a link on another website—especially a high ranking website— that opens a door back to your website will help your SEO, in turn, assisting your rankings on Google. There are a few ways Webmasters can build links; some are Google approved, and some aren’t.

Search engines view links as votes for popularity and importance in the ongoing opinion poll of the Web and have since the late 1990s, so when Google Webmaster Trends analyst John Mueller said he tries to avoid it, the world of webmasters came to a halt. Several articles were posted shortly after that statement, including one by a Portuguese Webmaster stating “…to ensure that you are not violating Google’s guidelines: do not buy, sell, exchange, or ask for links.”

Does this mean link building is bad? Not quite. After that post implied that it was, Google responded with some clarification—sort of. Google stated that you cannot “buy, sell, or ask for links that may violate our linking Webmaster guidelines.” To specify on what that vague statement means, link building is good, unless you participate in link building schemes, including, but not limited to, excessive link exchanges, buying or selling links, or keyword-rich anchor text. So, if you follow the rules, link building, in addition to other SEO tactics, can assist in improving your search engine rankings.

If you are interesting in applying proper SEO tactics to your website, your Savannah web company, Robmark Web, is there to assist you! Call (912)-921-1040 to start the discussion today.

Further reading:

https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo/growing-popularity-and-links

http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/opinion/2412546/why-i-shall-no-longer-use-the-term-link-building

Mobilegedd-non: The apocalypse that wasn’t

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Over the last several months Google has been pushing their mobile-friendly update, urging webmasters to make sure their websites were mobile-friendly to avoid seeing “a significant impact” in the search results. The buzz became apocalypse-esque once the mainstream media picked it up and was soon coined “mobilegeddon.” D-day was April 21, and webmasters and SEO specialists were scrambling to ensure their sites did not drop in the rankings. Well, that date has come and gone, and little impact occurred. It has now been a month since Google’s supposed cut-off date, and Mark Munroe of Marketing Land reports that mobilegeddon has barely made a difference in search results. He notes that there was a minuscule dip in results and that most of the impact was seen on the second and third of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). So what happened?

Though there are a handful of theories as to why there was a lack of severity, one thing is for sure: Google has a sense of control over businesses, big and small. Google says, “jump,” and we ask, “how high?” Because of past algorithm changes that truly did change the face of the SERPs—Panda and Penguin, specifically—businesses don’t want to take any chances. So when Google warned “significant impact,” it’s no wonder we all reacted in an apocalyptic manner.

This is similar to an algorithm update they announced in 2014. Last year, Google announced HTTPS—a safer version of HTTP—would help with a website’s ranking. Following that announcement, scores of websites rapidly adapted to be more secure in fear of dropping in rankings. Yet, after the change, no shift in rankings occurred. Though no drastic changes occurred with either of these updates, a mobile-friendly Web presence and a safer website are not bad things. They are improving the Web experience for everyone, which is an obvious goal of Google.

Though the “punishment” was not as severe as promised, it is still heavily urged to have a mobile-friendly, responsive website. If you are interested in revamping your business’ web presence and creating a better user experience, call us at 912-921-1040. Robmark Web is proficient in creating responsive websites that work well and look great on any type of device, including mobile phones and tablets.