(505) 259-0563 Steve@slwconsulting.com

New Google Local Business Center Packages

As we work more and more with business owners in the Albuquerque area, getting them listed in Google’s Local Business Center, it’s always surprising to see how many established businesses do not have a web site! After several years of building websites for clients, I believe we understand the challenges that business owners face when trying to establish an internet presence for the first time.

There are so many technical issues involved that are very confusing for people who don’t spend a lot of time with the internet. Keywords, back links, blogs, the list goes on and on. We are happy to tell you that we have a very simple solution for the problem!

We’ve created a local business starter package for you that will get you up and running on the internet, and more importantly, get you into the new phone book, Google Places. This is a great way to begin your internet marketing presence for your business. It is designed to be easy to maintain and add to in the future. Just give us a call or drop an email, we’ll be happy to provide you with more information.

Google Local Search Tutorial

Just a quick post here for all the folks who have downloaded the free guide to creating a Google Local Business Center (LBC) listing.  First off, if you haven’t noticed, Google has changed the name and or merged with Google Places. No big deal here.

What I really wanted to talk about was setting up Google Analytics to track traffic from your Local Business Center listing. While this is covered in the free guide, it is by far the most technically challenging part of the process. It took me a few tries to get it working. So if you have any questions about that part of the effort just drop me a line and I’ll do my best to help you out.

On a side note, I discovered something very interesting after I figured out the tracking issue. On one site in particular, I saw a 100% increase to site traffic after setting up the LBC listing. I thought wow, all that traffic coming through maps? The answer was no! What actually happened is that my traffic from Yahoo and Bing took a huge jump. It appears that the other search engines are scraping content from Google Maps listings and ranking it in their engines.

Just a little added benefit for your work!

Free Google Maps Tool is a Time Saver!

Yesterday a friend showed me a free tool that saves you a lot of time setting up your listing in Google’s Local Business Center.  You can dowload the free Google maps tool here.

This tool is very easy to install and use. Here’s what it does for you in a nut shell. It tells you which keywords related to your business will trigger a listing in Google maps withing Google’s universal search. This is a free source of traffic to your website, free is good! When you go to the link above, he has a video that describes the process in detail. He also sells a product that is essentially a course on Google map listings. I’ll try and give you some feedback on that on a later date in case you are interested. After you install the program, there is a link to a video that shows you how to use it. As I said it’s very simple and works well.

In case you not clear about the ways traffic gets to your website, check out my previous post and visit this page on my site that has a picture describing traffic paths to your website.

And of course you should sign up for the free 30 page guide that explains the whole process for getting a good ranking in Google maps with Google’s Local Business Center. That’s over to the right of the page. Did I mention it’s free too!  🙂

Where Does My Website Traffic Come From?

I had an opportunity to get out from behind my computer a few days ago and talk with some local business owners about internet marketing. It’s always nice to get some prospective from the trenches, and some fresh air! One thing that caught me a little by surprise was the lack of understanding on exactly how people arrive at their websites.

Just goes to show how too much time behind this monitor can develop into a distorted perception of reality, LOL.

So I decided to make a page with a pretty picture and some explanation on exactly how visitors get to your website. I hope this helps. And of course, if you have any questions, just drop me an email, my email is on the “About SLW” page in the navigation header at the top of the page. I’m almost always sitting here working on getting more traffic to somebody’s site!

Firefox and Local Search

I’m not sure what all the implications are just yet, but when I fired up Firefox a couple of days ago it asked me if I wanted to make my location available to location aware web sites. I will have more on this in the future, but it is obviously further evidence that many things are changing for the better when it comes to small and medium sized business trying to attract customers from their local markets.

This is great news for business owners who are struggling with budgets, trying to keep the doors open. If you aren’t marketing with Google maps and local search you better get busy! There is a lot of inertia involved in getting your website to show for your most relevant search terms, but once you get it ranking the traffic is free, can’t beat free advertising!

An Example of What a Presence in Google Maps Can Do for Your Web Traffic

On of the hottest things going on right now for business owners who want to get exposure and traffic in a local market is Google maps and the Local Business Center (LBC). I’ve been involved in SEO (search engine optimization) and marketing on the internet for a few years now. Conventional SEO, while it is effective at getting lots of traffic, is very time consuming and slow.

That is not the case with the LBC! Take a look at this graphic –

This is a screen shot from the analytics account of one of my customers, a custom furniture maker here in Albuquerque. He is a small one man shop. His site traffic has always been small as he never wanted to go to the trouble and expense to get ranked high in the organic rankings. His site severed more as a photo album for his traffic and that was just fine with him.  What the graphic shows is that he was running along at about 40 – 50 visits a week to his site until the end of January. That’s when I put a simple listing into the LBC for his business. The very next week, his traffic doubled! Not only is he getting more calls, but his walk in traffic has increased as well.

The thing that amazed me the most was the speed with which this change occurred. Normally, any type of SEO is very slow. With the LBC, your changes are recognized within minutes. There is simply nothing that compares with this in terms of making your phone ring!

If your business is not in the LBC your missing the boat. If it is, make sure it is well optimized. There’s lots that can be done in the LBC to increase the number of views that it gets.

BLog

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The New Adwords Format – Are You Behind the Curve Again?

Google Give Us More Room in Our Ads

Adwords policy on the ad format changed recently. The promoted reason from Google was to bring the ads in line with the mobile view of things. This of course makes sense given the fact that recent data shows over 50% of all web content is now being viewed on mobile devices.

The differences in numbers:

Old adwords format:

  • 25 characters in the headline
  • 2 description lines with 35 characters each
  • 95 characters total

New adwords format:

  • 2 headline fields of 35 characters each
  • one description field of 80 characters
  • 150 characters total

At first glance you’d be tempted to say, ah cool, more room! We all struggle to make compelling copy in such small spaces after all. However, the real gravy in my opinion is the way they’ve changed it, and 2 special little fields I have not mentioned yet.

So first off, the bigger headline should be a good thing. After all, headlines are the make or break part of the ad. If your headline doesn’t catch their attention, adios! Another good thing they did is to remove placing your display URL at the beginning of the headline. This always irked me, cuz sometimes you just don’t want it there! You can see what I mean in the shot of one of my ads below. Even though this ads converts well, I don’t like it:

Old adwords ad format with extentions

With the new format, they have gotten rid of this, now what you enter is what shows up in the ad. Here’s a copy of one I just started to test against the above ad:

New larger headline in adwords

Larger Adwords Headlines Should Mean Higher Click Thru Rates!

Of course as anyone who’s ever used this traffic source knows, there are no guarantees. But having more copy in the headline should be a good thing, time to test.

Now take a look at the display URL in the ad above and notice after the “.com” portion you’ll see “/stop/wrist-pain/”. Google has labeled this as a Path field with two blocks available, see the shot below. This is actually copied from a technique we’ve used for years now. Previously good ad writers experimented with adding a subdomain as a prefix to the display URL, something like this:

“wrist.pain.tigerpawwristsupports.com”

The new format just slides this to the right end of the display URL. In my mind this actually makes for a cleaner ad.

New adwords editing panel

I have ads which have been running for years that I have not been able to beat in tests. I am hopeful that these new changes will give me a little bump for both my private campaigns as well as those of my clients accounts. Of course, the beauty of adwords is you don’t have to guess. The public will let you know if your ad is better or worse than the control you’re testing against. That’s what’s great about the system.

So don’t dilly dally, get at least one new ad in each adgroup written in the new format and see if you can improve your account’s performance. In a game where your performance changes can often be measured by adding a comma or capital letter someplace in the copy,  these new features should generate very measurable impacts.

And if all of this gives you a headache, call or email me. It’s what I do, I have lots of aspirin!

Website designs that are smart and pretty

Your website design is Pretty, but is it Smart and Pretty?

website design
Once upon a time, you agreed to hire a web designer. That web designer provided you with a website design that was a beautiful, photo filled site. You may even have a bunch of blue underlined words on your pages that lead the visitor back and forth between your 5 to 10 other pretty pages. When people visit your website they see all the pretty pictures and say, “Your website is very pretty!”
Well pretty is great, if someone already has your web address. But…

How do you get internet surfers to your site?

You take a pretty website design and make it smart and pretty!

Pretty: is important, we like to call it “visually stimulating.” Just like you are more likely to talk to someone you find attractive, you are more likely to stay on a site that has some eye appeal.

Smart: is how your site performs in search results. Most internet inquiries are done on Google. There are certain criteria a website design needs to be “ranked” on Google regularly. SLW Consulting focuses on boosting your Google rankings by adjusting, testing, analyzing then readjusting accordingly.
If you have been working with a web designer and they provided you with a pretty website, Perfect! Design is not our specialty, Results are! How do you know if there is activity on your site. You need to discover what your audience (traffic) is interested in and give them more of it, regularly. You need relevant pictures and links to other places of relevant interest on your site. Let us analyze your site to see if it is smart and pretty, because just being pretty won’t bring in new business. It will only let people window shop. You want your site visits to actually turn into contact, so you can close the deal.The early tactics of “a place” on the web is not going to cut it anymore. You need activity on your site.

Think about it… don’t you hate clicking on Google search results to only end up looking at a screen of stuff that you don’t want to read.

SLW Consulting knows this. We are ahead of the curve through our constant contact with the gurus. What they know and are willing to share are the trends that change the progress and success of each and every website, if you’re smart enough to pay attention. Let us do that for you, it’s our job; Then you can spend more time doing your job and together we will build your business!
Contact SLW Consulting and let us make your website design smart and pretty.

We Want Our Clients Forever

At SLW Consulting, we are not going to build you a crummy site that doesn’t work, take a check and say good by!

One of the things that makes us very different from other web consultant firms is the complete package that we offer. We want to build your site if needed, or repair your existing site, help you understand your site analytics, assist you with new traffic sources like Adwords and Facebook, and be your web marketing consultant for as long as you own your business.

We’ll help you succeed online. You don’t have to take our word for it either. We’ll show you data from existing clients to prove any claims of success we make. Once we start working with you, we’ll show you the data from your account and explain how to interpret it, every month! The next time you get an out of the city solicitation for services like this, ask them if they have any real data to back up their BS!

The web is an extremely powerful tool to market your business, no matter what you do or sell. It’s also an extremely complicated process. Having someone on your team who spends all of their time studying and keeping up with the technologies and systems is invaluable.

Call today for a free consultation.

Backlinks Down, Content Up

One of the problems of maintaining a good business web presence is keeping up with all the changes at Google that have a dramatic effect on your site traffic. Here’s a new one for you.

Your site ranking is a very complicated math process. It has been common knowledge by people who study and practice SEO that having a lot of relevant backlinks to your site helped it rank better in the search engines. Unfortunately, this knowledge led to the inevitable abuse by some who hammered the bots with tons of auto generated, purchased, and otherwise improper backlinks. Google is particularly interested in looking for certain “footprints” of backlink structure that represent the various paid backlinking services out there. Rumor has it there have be some de-indexing of sites due to excessive use of paid backlink services. If your buying backlinks, stop now! This type of junk SEO service has been sold heavily to business owners for a few years now.

Google realizes that there should be a normal, natural variety of backlinks if it’s a good site. However, they have recently announced that they will downgrade the value of your backlinks and put more emphasis on your actual usefulness as a web site. Not a bad idea!

This also means that going into the future, more than ever, adding content to your site on a regular basis is very important to get good traffic to your site. The simplest and most effective way to do this is with a WordPress blog installed in one your sites sub directories. If you don’t have a blog attached to your site, fix it soon!

WordPress isn’t just the simplest way to post a page of content to a web site, the structure of the pages created in the blog software are very web crawler friendly. The system, if set  up correctly, also pings Google and other services and says “Hey, I have some new content  here”. Generally this brings the bots running in a short time and your page gets indexed.

Repeating this process consistently over time will assure great organic rankings for your site. It’s exactly the kind of site Google wants to present to their searchers, great, interesting, and relevant content. As a business owner, I understand you probably don’t have time to be blogging all of the time. Pay someone to do it! Just make sure they are creating useful, interesting content. Remember too, the  content doesn’t have to be series of social blabbering.  Call your blog an FAQ and use it to answer the most common questions you get from your customers. Have categories set up to display new products or services. Think out of the box a little and content creation get easier.

Why you should care about Yelp if you own a business with a local market!

I admit I’ve been avoiding Yelp for a while now.

After all, why the hell do I need another social site to deal with, I barely get on Facebook anymore. When you work 8-10 hours a day on a computer, seeking relaxation on Facebook isn’t in the plan. As long as you don’t operate a business trying to market locally, no problem…

Say what?

Ah, you haven’t heard the interesting facts about the new iPhone voice search feature called SIRI have you? Don’t feel bad, not many business owners have, here’s the deal. SIRI is this very cool new voice activated search feature built into the new iPhones. It’s being advertised on TV constantly. It turns out that people really like it. So what? Well here’s the kicker. When someone does a voice search for a local business or service, the search results come from Yelp, not Google! All that hard work you’ve put in to get a presence online for your website is now missing 20% – 30% of the mobile search market.

It’s probably not a coincidence that Yelp is based in San Francisco. I also find it interesting that I have two consecutive posts about Mr. Jobs. Not that I post that much, but still. It seems that Mr. Jobs was still full of interesting concepts right until the end. Apple and Co. have been in a battle over several markets, but I think they realize the huge stakes involved in search and information serving, especially in the local markets.

Until SIRI, local results were served almost exclusively by Google. You played by there rules or hit the highway. Now Yelp will be a player in the local markets. You can see efforts from Google to dominate this market, but no matter what they do, they won’t reach SIRI searches, very clever Apple!

To be fair, iPhones only control a part of the smart phone population, but do you want to throw those customers away? Probably not. Anther nice feature of Yelp is that after you claim and verify your business listing, you  can reply to reviews on your company, both the positive and NEGATIVE ones! That’s a good thing!

If you don’t have time to do this, hire someone. Merry Christmas!  🙂

Steve Jobs, Zen Master of 1’s and 0’s

Steve Jobs zen masterLike no one else, Steve Jobs’ creativity made my life easier.

It’s a truly amazing world we live in, and nothing in it is more amazing than technology. I often ponder the concept behind how I earn my living and simply shake my head in near disbelief. Some explanation is required here.

Most modern gadget users haven’t a clue how any of this stuff works, so I’ll outline a brief description. You start with a pile of beach sand, extract some silicon, mix it with some other elements in correct design and proportions, and build a simple electrical switch. You then configure millions of these tiny switches in such a way that you can communicate with them by simply knowing if they are off or on, 0 or 1, binary language. If that’s all there was to it, it would be very impressive indeed. But there’s more.

Those of us who were around at the beginning of the digital age understand how magnificent the transition has been to modern day consumer devices. As someone who worked in a government research lab during this time period, I can tell you that the early computers were damn near impossible to live with. You needed to know all of the commands to type in to get any productivity from them. Even then it was an extremely frustrating experience.

Enter Steve Jobs. He had a different vision. How bout we make computers that are easy to use he asked? Most people laughed at his expensive, unusual machines. Everyone I knew was convinced that they would soon be out of business because they weren’t as popular as PC’s, too expensive, yada yada yada. I was a dissenter. I paid $3,500 for a used Macintosh SE and an impact printer, loaded with used software and 8 Kb of RAM. It still sits on my gun safe to this day, a prized possession. My son once suggested we use it for target practice, I scolded him!

Apple is now the biggest technology company on the planet, battling back and forth with Exxon Mobile for the title of the worlds most valuable corporation. What a difference a couple of decades makes huh? Steve Jobs, the guy who dropped out of college after one semester, largely because of the financial hardship to his adoptive parents, went to India to seek enlightenment, stated that  taking LSD was one of the 2 or 3 most important things he ever did, created the most well known brand name ever conceived. His logo? An apple with a bite out of it, simple at it’s finest.

I make my living switching 1’s to 0’s and back again. Doing this correctly makes other 1’s and 0’s talk to my banks computer, and I end up with dollars to put food on my table, and send my son to college. What an amazing concept. I’ve had my 24″ iMac for about 5 years now, it still works perfectly, never so much as a hiccup. When I bought it, my son’s PC laptop had just died so I bought him a Macbook as well. After a couple of months on the Mac he summed up the difference very accurately. He said “When you use a PC, you spend about half your time fixing the damn thing so you can use it. With a Mac, you just use it, it always works!” Now in his first year at the University, his Macbook is still working just fine. Thank you Mr. Jobs.

As someone who’s studied Buddhism, I know that one of the beliefs is the idea that our lives, our spirits, posses an energy that never ends. When our physical bodies die, the energy returns to the system to be reassigned to another entity. You are certainly welcome to not believe that some other fortunate soul received a wonderful gift from Mr. Jobs this past week, I happen to think this is so. However, there is no denying that Steve Jobs spirit will live forever. He has secured that through a rabid following of the millions of Apple fans world wide.

Steve Jobs, Zen Master of the 1’s and 0’s. You have made my life easier. You will not be forgotten.

On of the hottest things going on right now for business owners who want to get exposure and traffic in a local market is Google maps and the Local Business Center (LBC). I’ve been involved in SEO (search engine optimization) and marketing on the internet for a few years now. Conventional SEO, while it is effective at getting lots of traffic, is very time consuming and slow.

That is not the case with the LBC! Take a look at this graphic –