5 Changes to Make to Your Google My Business Profile Before 2019

There was never a dull moment in local SEO this year, with new updates to coming to Google My Business at a rapid-fire pace throughout 2018. Now’s the time to log in and make sure your Google My Business page is current and ready for the new year.

Let’s get straight to it. The biggest updates to Google My Business in 2018 were:

  1. New dashboard for businesses with multiple locations
  2. Separate fields for Service Area and Business Address (and removing the ability to set a distance-based service area around the business address)
  3. Service menu for service-based businesses and product menu for retailers
  4. Letting businesses set ‘factual’ attributes in addition to the crowdsourced ‘subjective’ attributes (including the veteran-led and women-led attributes)
  5. Videos on the photo dashboard

5 changes to make to google my business profile

These changes affected some types of businesses more than others (some local service-based companies will have a lot of catching up to do) but all of them matter when it comes to understanding how to optimize Google My Business for a stronger local presence.

Here’s how to ensure you’re up-to-date with Google My Business in 2019.

1. Scrutinize Your Suggested Changes

In March of 2018, Google rolled out a new Google My Business dashboard for business owners with two or more listings or locations. It’s much faster and easier to navigate than the old one.

The downside? The new dashboard makes it more difficult to track and respond to Suggested Changes in a timely manner.

A Suggested Change is an addition or change to your listing that either comes from:

  1. A user manually editing your listing information; or
  2. Google’s algorithm finding information about your listing (often from third-party directory sites).

Here’s the trouble: the name ‘Suggested Changes’ is a bit misleading, since the changes don’t always require your approval before they go live.

As the listing owner, you should receive an email from Google whenever there’s a ‘suggestion’; however, those notifications don’t always make it through to your inbox.

Because of this, it’s important that you log in to check your Suggested Changes periodically, especially since the new dashboard makes it harder to notice them.

To see Suggested Changes for a Google My Business listing in the new dashboard:

  1. Log in to Google My Business.
  2. Click Back to GMB Classic in the left-hand menu.
  3. Click Google Updates in the centre column.
  4. Make sure the box next to ‘Google updates’ is set to display All.
  5. Click Resolve updates in the rightmost column to see the Suggested Changes and other updates to a listing.

2. Specify Your Ever-Growing Service Area

Before the update, local businesses could define only their service area as a kilometer/mile radius around their business address. Google realized this was a shortcoming (who actually has a perfectly circular service area?) and turned it around late in 2018.

Now, Google My Business lets you edit your business address and service area separately. Businesses can specify their service area by region, city, or ZIP/Postal Code.

If you haven’t gotten around to updating your service area, here’s how to do it:

  1. Log in to Google My Business.
  2. Click the location you’d like to edit.
  3. Click Info in the left-hand menu.
  4. Click Edit in the Service Area section.
  5. Click the X next to a service area to delete it.

3. Promote Your Outstanding Services

Early in 2018, Google began to allow businesses in select industries to list their services in detail right on the page. Later, they expanded the feature to almost all service businesses, including creative industries and the trades.

The service menu is simple, consisting of just a name, description, and optionally a price for each item. It’s a vast improvement over the previous version of Google My Business’s services, which was limited to keywords like ‘repair services’ and ‘installation services.’

Adding services to your Google My Business page is quick and easy. All you need to do is:

  1. Log in to Google My Business.
  2. Click Info in the left-hand menu.
  3. Click Edit in the Services section.

Recently, Google has begun testing a product menu feature for Google My Business as well. Chances are this will expand to more companies next year, so keep an eye out!

4. Add Appealing Factual Attributes

Attributes are Google’s name for small bits of descriptive information about a business. They include things like:

  • Service offerings (pick-up or drive-thru)
  • Atmosphere (casual, noisy, family-friendly, private)
  • Customer/clientele demographic (popular among students, business travellers, tourists)

Originally, the algorithm compiled a business’s attributes based solely on user reviews and feedback via the GMB Q&A feature – businesses couldn’t edit them.

In 2018, Google refined the attributes system by splitting them into factual and subjective attributes. Now, businesses can directly edit certain attributes. The attributes available (which include acceptable payment types, accessibility options, and whether the business is LGBTQ-friendly) vary depending on the business’s category.

Even if you’re not a GMB geek, you might have heard about the release of the women-led and veteran-led attributes – two socially-conscious tags designed to help customers support local vets, businesswomen, and even businesswoman vets.

There’s also a lesser-known family-led attribute, which could help win the favour of locavores in search of a good old-fashioned family business.

In any case, it pays to take a moment to set up factual attributes that will help customers get to know you. It doesn’t take long:

  1. Log in to Google My Business.
  2. Click Info in the left-hand menu.
  3. Click Edit in the Attributes section.

5. Upload an Excellent Video

Video is one of the most powerful mediums available to us as marketers and you as a business owner.

Online video consistently grabs more views and engagement than still images, and 90% of customers now say that video influences their buying decisions.

The addition of 30-second videos to Google My Business shows Google is serious about getting customers to convert (whether it’s making a purchase or booking an appointment) directly on the GMB platform. For businesses, it’s an opportunity to make a huge visual impact just around the corner from the search engine results page.

What’s Next for Google My Business?

Make no mistake: Google My Business will continue to extend its influence in local SEO in the year to come.

Don’t let the imminent demise of Google+ fool you into thinking GMB is on its way out. In fact, part of the reason Google is sunsetting G+ is because GMB has effectively taken over its function as a hub for customer-brand interactions.

So, what does the future have in store? Based on this year’s developments, you can expect to see even greater emphasis on conversions directly from the Google My Business platform in 2019. Additionally, you ought to pay close attention to your business’s attributes – chances are, they’ll fuel increasingly precise local search results based on ‘intangibles’ like a business’s character and atmosphere.

It’s cool stuff.

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Quora for SEO: Is it Worth Your Time?

300 million active monthly users. Engagement with the world’s top thought leaders. Growth that could surpass Twitter and Reddit. Those are the claims Quora put forth to advertisers when it launched new targeting options earlier this year. If they’re right, then Quora must be fertile ground for SEO activity – right?

Quora

In reality, the intersection of Quora and SEO is a complex (and often controversial) topic.

Let’s investigate.

What is Quora, and Why Is It So Popular?

Quora isn’t the first question-and-answer site out there, but it might just be the last.

That is to say that Quora has so far managed to succeed in areas where similar sites have failed.

Yahoo Answers, one of the first major Q&A sites, was massively popular but poorly-moderated in terms of questions and answers alike. It never came close to a reputable source of information and was often the subject of ridicule.

Google Answers surpassed Yahoo Answers in the quality of its content, but it failed to strike a chord with internet users at large; and like many Google products (see: Google+), Google Answers was closed due to ailing popularity.

The respective downfalls of Yahoo Answers and Google Answers illustrate the challenge of managing an informational site built on user-submitted content. To grow, the site must continuously attract more users who are willing to submit questions and answers; however, there’s a delicate balance between encouraging user participation and maintaining quality standards.

Set the bar for quality too high and few people will participate; set it too low and the site will attract poor-quality content, spam and trolls.

To date, Quora has managed to strike this balance through a combination of a quality-ranking algorithm and human moderators who monitor the feeds. Quora was originally moderated by volunteers from its user community, but the company has since switched to paid moderators and content reviewers who remove questions and answers as needed.

It’s easy to contribute to, but it’s not a free-for-all, either. This balance has been vital to the site’s popularity so far. Quora has even garnered attention from world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama.

What is the Value of Quora for SEO?

Another key to Quora’s success is its powerful presence on Google’s search engine results page.

Google’s RankBrain algorithm strives to deliver the highest-quality answers relevant to searchers’ queries. Quora’s upvote-driven Q&A format, which favours the most precise and comprehensive answers to specific questions, is practically tailor-made for it.

These days, whenever you make a search query in the form of a question, there’s a high likelihood of finding Quora on the first page of the results.

This trend has motivated people, brands and SEOs to try and leverage Quora to drive site traffic.

But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. Using Quora for SEO is not as simple as plopping links into questions and answers – and in fact, that’s a good way to get banned from Quora for life.

Ways to Use Quora for SEO

Here’s the truth: Quora’s prominence on page 1 of Google’s search engine results has made it a magnet for SEO-related spam.

Spam links on Quora

Pictured: A person using Quora just for the purpose of link building.

By that we mean users posting low-quality answers solely for the purpose of driving traffic to their (or their client’s) site.

Spammers aside, there are legitimately useful and effective ways to leverage Quora’s popularity and SERP presence to your advantage.

1. Answer Questions to Drive Qualified Traffic to Your Site

All external links placed by Quora users are no-follow links. This means that if you post a link to your website on Quora, it doesn’t pass any authority onto your site.

In other words, Quora isn’t useful for backlinking.

However, when done properly, posting links to Quora can be a way to drive good, qualified traffic to your site. That’s because the questions people pose to Quora tend to be specific, with clear intent on the part of the questioner.

For example, the person asking “What are the best tennis shoes?” is likely to be interested in buying a pair of tennis shoes. The same goes for anyone who comes across the question in a Google search. If you happen to sell tennis shoes, these are exactly the people you want visiting your website – so it would be great if you could get a link on that page.

However, Quora is picky about how and when a question or answer can include external links.

According to Quora’s rules on questions and answers containing external links:

  • Helpful answers are clear and credible, and sincerely address the question asked. External links to sources can help demonstrate credibility when the answer depends on third-party facts and analysis rather than the poster’s personal experience.
  • Answers containing external links must answer the question and summarize how the reference answers the question. They cannot just point users to the link for answers.
  • Answers that drive traffic to external sites for promotional or commercial purposes and do not sufficiently answer the question are considered spam.

In sum, if a page on your site is a good source of information for a user’s question, it can be helpful and appropriate to include a link to that page in an answer. When the question is one that your ideal visitors are asking, it can be well worth your time to answer it.

2. Answer Questions to Build Credibility and Authority in Your Industry

One of the reasons why Quora has been popular among tech influencers is how it readily showcases users’ qualifications and achievements.

Right below each user’s name and portrait is their Quora credentials, intended as a way to show the world why your post is worth reading (and an implicit answer to the question, “Says who?”). It can include your education, location, life experience and other personal information. Well-known figures can even earn a verification checkmark next to their name.

This system makes Quora an excellent platform for personal and brand authority-building. It’s a fast and completely free way to publicly demonstrate expertise in your industry.

3. Use Quora to Optimize Your Site Content

Popular answers on Quora can tell you a lot about how to write great content.

The answers that rank best among users tend to be those that provide comprehensive, useful information in a way that’s easy to read and understand. When the question relates to your industry, it can give valuable clues about the information your customers are looking for and how they prefer to receive it.

Think about a question your customers or clients regularly ask. Has anyone asked and answered the question on Quora?

Does your website provide all the information contained in the top answer?

If not, that could indicate an area of your site that needs improvement.

4. Use Quora for Keyword Research

If someone is asking a question about your industry on Quora, chances are some of your customers are searching the same thing.

Quora is an excellent place to explore how people discuss your business in everyday, unfiltered language.

Questions and answers can reveal keywords and phrasing you might not have thought of yet. Plus, with a free Quora Ads account, you can see exactly how many views a question receives each week, which can help you decide if a particular keyword is worth pursuing.

5. Use Quora to Brainstorm Blog Topics

Not sure what to write about? Find an unanswered (or inadequately-answered) question that relates to your business and answer it in a comprehensive blog post.

Freshly-posted questions can be a goldmine for novel blog content ideas. The same goes for a new FAQ page, a customer knowledge base, or a glossary of industry terms.

Better yet, there are several ways find these topics without any work on your part. Add a subject or keyword to your Quora feed to have new questions delivered as they’re published. Or, follow another user who answers questions in your industry to get notified when they post – then, add your two cents.

Quora has been around for almost ten years, but it’s still fertile ground when it comes to growing your online reach and driving traffic to your website. There’s plenty of room for experimentation.

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How Can Blogs Expand Social Media Reach?

What is a blog?

Essentially, a blog is a piece of content written for your website that keeps users up-to-date with your products, services, or industry. It can range from a small informational piece to an interview, a news story, or a post highlighting an upcoming event.  Blogs are an effective tool in expanding social media reach and should be written, posted, and shared across your social media frequently.

Crafting the perfect blog by using suitable keywords and ensuring that your blog is fully optimized is crucial. But how else can blogs work for you?

blog for social media

In this blog, we’ll teach you why blogs are an important part of your overall SEO marketing strategy and how they amplify your social reach.

1. Maintain Your Position as An Industry Leader

Publishing blog posts is one way for your business to maintain its position as an industry leader. It shows your followers that you’re interested in keeping up to date with the latest developments and that they can trust you as a reliable source of industry-relevant updates and insights.

You should aim to post a blog article at least once a week in order to maintain a presence. Blogs provide value to followers; sharing them across social media reminds followers of your expertise and know-how.

For example, if there’s a new update in your industry and a reader learns about the change via a blog post that was posted to your social profile, they’ll value your presence and likely follow your page to keep up-to-date.

2. Increase Social Referrals Back to Your Website

Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms are extensions of your blog. By sharing your blogs through these various channels, you’re expanding their potential reach and even reaching a new demographic of readers/potential customers or clients.

You’re also going to increase overall social referrals back to your website. Social referrals are the number of page views coming specifically from social networks and are composed of both paid and organic traffic. Posting website content like blogs across social platforms increases the likelihood of click-throughs to your website and thus leads to an increase in overall traffic.

3. Social Signals Improve Organic SEO

Social media marketing and SEO are interwoven strategies that produce outstanding results. Both are organic, inbound strategies that focus on building an identity that naturally attracts users.

A strong social media presence relies on high-quality content. Done properly, it can greatly increase your search rankings.

Using methods like social media and blog posts can continuously drive search engine traffic your way. Increasing your reputation on social media through increased engagement and high-quality content will lead to an overall increased brand presence. This will lead to an increase in branded searches on Google and an increased ranking for non-branded keywords.

4. Blogs Can be Broken Down into Pillars

Blog content can be used over and over again. That’s because blogs contain a plethora of information that can be broken down into pillar content and distributed in various ways across an assortment of social media channels.

For example, a blog post could be distributed across all basic social platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Next, the blog could be re-formatted into microcontent. Microcontent consists of short-form pieces of content that’s turned into memes, quotes, stories or graphics. These can then be distributed across pillars. You can then listen, engage and monitor insights to see what content is performing best.

Once you have a solid understanding of what’s resonating with your audience, you can apply these insights into more microcontent. The cycle is never-ending and all it takes to get started is a relevant, optimized blog.

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What is Thin Content and How Do I Go About Fixing It?

Has someone warned you that your website has thin content? Worried it’s holding you back?

When people talk about thin content, they’re usually thinking of its effect on search engine ranking – but you should also be mindful of how it impacts your clients or customers.

Fix Thin Content

What is Thin Content?

Think of it like this.

You set out to the store, shopping list in hand, to get what you need for your upcoming house party. And you’ve got to do it fast, because the party’s tonight.

As luck would have it, you find everything on your list at the first store you try. You’re satisfied, and you’ll definitely return to that store the next time you’re planning a party.

But what if you struck out? What if you had to make one stop for drinks, another for cake, and a third across town for cups and plates?

Not only are you annoyed, but you probably won’t visit those stores for party supplies again – their selection is just too thin.

That’s also how people use Google’s search engine results page.

When someone makes a search query, they don’t want to have to tap in and out of three different webpages or open three browser tabs to find the answers they’re looking for. They want instant, accurate information the first time.

And since Google and other search engines want to make users happy (more users mean more advertising revenue), search engine algorithms work hard to deliver the most accurate, relevant search results that matches a user’s query.

To that end, a webpage that succeeds in the delivering relevant, quality information people want will be land a higher position in the search engine results; a page that delivers sparse, low-quality, irrelevant, unoriginal content will drop in ranking.

Thin content is content that provides little to no value to the people who find it. If search engine algorithms judge a page as having thin content (based both on the substance of the page itself and the way users interact with it) its ranking can plummet as a result.

Some people think the way to fix thin content is to add more words to a page; this can help in some cases, but there’s almost always more to it than that. The length of the copy on a page is only one of the factors that go into deciding whether a page is worth someone’s time.  A pamphlet can be thin, but so can a novel.

Signs and Examples of Thin Content

So, how do you know if your content is thin?

If a domain contains numerous thin pages across the site, you might log into Google’s Search Console one day and find a manual penalty for thin content. That means your site has been judged as one that, “appears to contain a significant percentage of low-quality or shallow pages which do not provide users with much added value.”

Another thin content warning sign is a page that fails to get good user engagement. Once you’ve ruled out other factors that could turn people away – annoying pop-ups, slow page speed, outdated or plain bad site design – it’s time to point the finger at content.

Google also provides concrete examples of pages that often qualify as being thin content: affiliate pages, automatically-generated content, doorway pages, and unoriginal content. These aren’t prima facie thin content, but they can be.

  • Affiliate pages are designed for the sole or primary purpose of getting people to visit (and purchase products/services from) another site, which earns kickbacks for the owner of the affiliate page. A common example is a list-style blog post that includes multiple links to product pages on Amazon. An affiliate page that offers little in the way of added value or information can be thin content.
  • Auto-generated content is text churned out by an automated tool. When it’s only there to influence search rankings, this type of content falls under the definition of ‘thin’ regardless of length.
  • Doorway pages exist mainly as a gateway to another page, providing minimal value and serving as an unnecessary threshold people must step over to find the information they’re looking for. These pages are often a relic of outdated SEO tactics, like the creation of numerous similar location-based pages that provide no unique insight or information.
  • Unoriginal content is a wide category that encompasses all sorts of lazy tactics: pasting articles from other pages, pulling product descriptions from a manufacturer’s site, multiple pages with all or most of the same copy (like a fill-in-the-blanks) or borrowing images and infographics from other content creators. Unoriginal content isn’t always synonymous with plagiarism – a newly-written page that reiterates existing information without adding new or interesting insight can also fit the label.

Finally, a page can qualify as thin simply for lacking in content. Conventionally, any page containing fewer than 300 words runs the risk of being thin content, but that’s more a guideline than a golden rule (some pages, like a Contact Us page, have no reason to be wordy).

The bottom line is this: if the page is lacking in value, it could be thin content regardless of length. Short pages are often thin, but thin pages are not always short.

How to Fix Thin Content

Fixing thin content is not only about adding more words. It’s about improving your content to provide the value your users are looking for.

It does often require you to put more words on the page – after all, a lengthier page has more room to explore a topic in enough depth. But the substance of your content matters more than its length. Since the Panda update in 2011, Google’s search engine algorithm has become increasingly savvy about distinguishing valuable content from thin content, regardless of length.

As Neil Patel puts it, “creating long form content does not mean cranking out irrelevant and repetitive words. Rather it’s all about Providing Value.”

The key to avoiding and fixing thin content is to understand what your audience wants, what search engine algorithms like to see, and how to cater to both in a way that contributes to achieving your goals.

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5 Common Reasons Google Could Penalize Your Website

Trying to increase your website’s ranking on Google? Heard horror stories of Google’s updates completely wiping sites off the search rankings? It happens, but not at random. Let’s have a look at what exactly a Google penalty is – and the reasons Google may drop your site in its rankings.

Reasons Google could penalize your website

What is a Google Penalty?

Let’s start with Google’s goal: to eliminate poor-quality content to refine the quality of search results.

To do this, Google released their Penguin update in 2012, which wiped some sites out of search rankings altogether. This update downgrades site rankings based on many factors (which we will chat about shortly), forcing companies to change the way they look at SEO and prioritize the quality of their content.

Subsequent updates continue to sharpen the search engine’s ability to judge the quality of a site.

Why Does Google Penalize Websites?

1. Your Website is Outdated

The design of a website plays a large factor in its site ranking. Two main design concerns are whether the site is mobile-friendly or if it is new or up-to-date. According to Forbes, “you could lose anywhere from 5-30% of leads based on this factor alone”.

When you’re building your website design, make sure you also keep meta titles and meta descriptions in mind. They help Google understand what keywords your website wants to rank for; without them, Google may not recognize your site as relevant and penalize you.

2. Poor Link Structure

What makes up link structure? Let’s break it down:

  • External links – these connect your content to other sites. You want to link to other high-ranking websites so that Google will associate your content with other high-quality sources. Additionally, these sites should be relevant – for example, if your website is fashion-themed and only links to sites about food or electronics, Google views this as a problem. Linking to low-quality or irrelevant content sites will put you straight on Google’s radar to drop down in ranking.
  • Internal links – these connect your content to other pages within your website. It gives Google an idea of how your website is mapped out and what your overall site content is like. That being said, it’s important to interlink to relevant If you’re linking your blog post about saving money to your pricey gift shop, for example, you may get penalized.
  • Backlinks – these are links from other sites that direct back to yours. The goal with backlinks is to get high-ranking websites to link back to you. It would be fantastic to have backlinks from CNN or New York Times. This is high-level, but the idea is you want to avoid fake or illegitimate websites to maintain a higher ranking.

When it comes to links, remember – quality over quantity.

3. Buying Links

Yes, some companies still buy links to their website to increase in ranking.

Google sees this as an attempt to deceive PageRank, which calculates where your site should appear in search engine results based on what content Google views as relevant and high-quality.

When you try to manipulate Google, they can catch this – and the bad links you have been buying. Buying links can even drop you off the rankings completely.

4. Your Content Has Little Value

This can be anything from not enough content, shallow content that your readers have already found on many other sites, or content obviously trying to rank for keywords. These are all the wrong way for your content to help rank your website.

Your site must offer significant content to readers. Google judges how users interact with your website. If people visit your site and immediately leave, Google will catch on that users don’t value your content and will penalize your site and it’s ranking.

5. Slow Speeds

How frustrated do you get when a page is taking 10 seconds to load? Do you abandon the page and move on?

A lot of people do – and Google notices. Neil Patel recommends using a caching plugin or a CDN right away to avoid this issue.

If you’re not sure how fast your existing site is, check out Google’s PageSpeed to see if you have room to improve on your desktop or mobile site load time.

Stay Prepared

In the end, you must always put the user experience at top-of-mind.

They’re the ones visiting your websites and, in turn, buying your products or services. The goal is to give them the most seamless experience, so they have no reason to exit your page.

Doing this will help avoid penalties, increase the quality of your traffic and number of conversions, and create a happy relationship between your website and Google.

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Optimizing Your LinkedIn Company Page to Hook Leads & Drive Traffic

LinkedIn has become an incredible marketing tool, especially for businesses who know how to optimize their LinkedIn company page.

The premiere professional networking platform is a great place to scout talent, network, and nurture sales prospects. But that’s not the only way to leverage it.

LinkedIn also has powerful search engine optimization benefits. Creating a LinkedIn company page is of the fastest ways to rank for branded keywords, and it sends strong signals to Google’s ranking algorithm.

Drive Traffic

Want to quickly and effectively optimize your LinkedIn company page? Focus on these key areas.

Why LinkedIn is Worth Your Time

LinkedIn is home to over 500 million users from 200 different countries. And those users are impressively active, with over half of them visiting the site at least once a month.

Having a dedicated company page gives you direct access to customers, clients, and talent in your industry. It’s a free platform for showcasing products and services and promoting important news.

Company pages also unlock valuable engagement assets, like how many people see your posts and what they’re saying about your company.

LinkedIn’s not only popular with professionals – Google’s ranking algorithm loves it, too. LinkedIn company pages quickly climb the rankings for branded key phrases, giving companies a free and easy opportunity to get their content in front of more searchers.

Optimizing a LinkedIn Company Page

When we talk about optimizing a LinkedIn company page, we usually have three broad goals in mind:

  1. Increasing LinkedIn user engagement with the company page;
  2. Helping the company page rank for relevant queries in search engine results; and
  3. Helping the company page rank in LinkedIn’s native search engine results.

Each of these goals can be refined and targeted to a company’s specific key performance indicators; if the company is looking for sales leads, for example, the focus will be on user engagement at specific points in the marketing funnel.

Whether you’re focusing on organic engagement or plan to boost your LinkedIn strategy with sponsored content, optimizing a LinkedIn company page should begin with these basic steps:

  1. Fill out the company profile completely.
  2. Write a keyword-rich company description.
  3. Upload high-quality photos.
  4. Link back to the company website and other social profiles.
  5. Post-industry-relevant content.
  6. Have employees connect to the page.

1. Complete Your Company Profile

Start by filling in the blanks.

When a user first enters a company on their profile, LinkedIn generates a bare-bones page for that company to serve as a hub for employees; however, the information that automatically populates the page is far from complete and not necessarily accurate.

Enter all the information someone would need to find and identify your company: its address, phone number, website URL, etc. Make sure it matches what appears on the company’s website and Google My Business page

This step increases the page’s legitimacy in the eyes of users and search engines.

2. Write a Compelling Company Description

What does your company do? What makes it unique? Boil it down into 156 characters.

The first 156 characters of a company’s description appears as the page’s meta description, or the summary that appears below the link on both Google and LinkedIn’s the search engine results page.

It helps to think of the description as an elevator pitch: a concise summary that tells people what your company is all about and entices them to learn more.

The company description can be longer than 156 characters, of course, but it’s important to make those initial words count. Be sure to include keywords and key phrases that people use to find companies in your industry.

3. Upload High-Quality Photos

The profile picture is the first impression people have of your company on LinkedIn. It appears in the LinkedIn search results, on employees’ profile pages, and above everything your company posts.

Company pages with profile pictures also get six times as many visits as those without one.

The best profile picture for a company on LinkedIn is a clear, high-quality image of its logo. LinkedIn recommends a minimum profile image size of 400px by 400px and a max of 7680px by 4320px.

You should also personalize the page with an eye-catching header image (recommended 1584px by 396 px). It can be a simple banner, a photo collage, or an image with call-to-action text. Since it always appears alongside the profile image, the header doesn’t need to include a logo; however, it should reinforce brand recognition using relevant imagery and colours.

If your ideal logo or header image doesn’t quite fit LinkedIn’s dimensions, Sprout Social’s Landscape Resizer tool is a quickly modify it.

4. Link to Other Sites and Profiles

Social media pages are most effective when they’re interconnected.

Add links to the company’s other social profiles so LinkedIn users can easily find and follow your company across the web.

In turn, add a LinkedIn button to your company website.

5. Post-Industry-Relevant Content

LinkedIn isn’t just another company listing; it’s a platform from which companies can broadcast their best content to clients, customers and industry colleagues.

Posts are one of the most direct ways to engage with viewers and followers since posts appear both on its page and the home page of each of the company’s followers.

What to post depends on the company’s goals for the social network. LinkedIn posts can be used to:

  • Showcase an awesome company culture
  • Share company news and updates
  • Publish original blog, video and image content
  • Spread the word about timely industry issues

Always include some form of visual content – those posts get 98% more engagement than text-only posts.

6. Get Employees on Board

If your business is new to LinkedIn, but your employees aren’t, chances are they’ll have already named the company in the Experience section of their profiles.

But that doesn’t always mean they are connected to the same page.

For example, the user who entered “Company Inc.” may be linked to a different page than the one who simply put “Company.”

Ironing out these inconsistencies is an important step in increasing the company page’s reach, especially for smaller businesses. The more employees who connect, the greater your reach.

About LinkedIn Sponsored Content

Once you’ve done all the above, it’s time to consider furthering your reach with sponsored content.

Sponsoring content puts your company’s posts in people’s LinkedIn feeds, appearing almost exactly like an organic (non-sponsored) post. It’s a great way to reach clients and customers, especially for B2B businesses.

LinkedIn’s advertising tools enable highly specific targeting, allowing you to aim content at specific people, companies, or positions within a company. Insight tags help to define further your audience based on who visits your site and their actions on the page, detailed conversion tracking gives a clear understanding of the value of leads through LinkedIn.

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What the Google+ Shutdown Means for Businesses

Updated December 11, 2018.

On October 8, the Wall Street Journal broke news of a major Google+ privacy leak that occurred earlier this year.

Hours later, Google announced in a blog post that it would shut down Google+ by August of 2019. Then, in the wake of a second data breach discovered in November, Google stated the Google+ closure would be expedited to April of 2019.

What does this mean for Google+ users, including businesses using the platform to boost their online presence and search engine ranking?

Google Plus Breach

While the demise of Google+ may represent the end of an era for Google, its impact on the rest of us isn’t as significant as you might think.

Why Google+ is Shutting Down

The reasons behind Google’s decision to shut down Google+ is twofold: low user engagement and security troubles.

Back in March of 2018, Google uncovered a serious software vulnerability in the Google+ API. Essentially, the bug gave outside developers access to private information on nearly 500,000 Google+ users: names, email addresses, birth dates, locations and more. Mallory Locklear at Engadget penned a good overview of the Google+ data leak here.

Although Google didn’t find evidence that anyone used this bug (for malicious reasons or otherwise), they felt an in-depth audit of the Google+ platform in general was warranted.

The audit, named Project Strobe, raised a couple of red flags:

  • Google+ had not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption and had limited user interaction with its associated apps.
  • Though Google’s engineering teams put a lot of effort into building Google+ over the years, there were “significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumers’ expectations.”

Google found that 90 percent of Google+ user sessions last less than five seconds. To put that in perspective, the average Facebook user session lasts six minutes and 23 seconds, and the typical user logs 173 sessions a month.

Considering these issues, Google is shutting down the consumer version of Google+ over the course of the next six months. The process will conclude when the platform closes for good in April 2019.

Google+ and Search Engine Optimization

When it launched in 2011, Google+ was intended to make Google itself more social. Users could make profiles and connect with networks of family, friends, and other contacts. The platform had a stream akin to Facebook’s News Feed.

Google+ was also a part of one of Google’s newest search features, the +1 button. As the launch video explains, the button allowed users to ‘recommend’ webpages to their Google+ network.

The +1 button was important for another reason: search rankings. Initially, Google indicated it was one of many ranking signals Google’s search engine algorithm used to gauge search quality and rankings.

Over the years, Google+ made appearances on Google’s main site in various other ways, but none seemed to stick.

For a time, Google+ and +1 button activity were used to personalize users’ search results, and Google+ assets like photos and posts showed up in some results as well. Content posted to Google+ was often indexed faster than other sites.

Before Google My Business, Google+ pages also served as a public face for businesses in search.

Marketers and businesses flocked to the platform for its purported search benefits. But the public didn’t follow, and as time passed, Google downplayed the importance of Google+ and the +1 button as ranking signals.

What the Google+ Shutdown Means for Search Engine Optimization

The end of Google+ will mean the end of its effects on search engine rankings, however minimal they may be.

It’s welcome news to businesses who were compelled to use Google+ only for its search benefits. The time spent posting to Google+ can instead be used to engage communities their customers already use: whether it’s Facebook pages and groups, Twitter, LinkedIn, or niche industry forums.

If you’ve invested time in building a presence on Google+, there’s lots of time to tie up any loose ends. The platform doesn’t officially close until next April, and Matt Southern at Search Engine Journal has put together a timely guide on how to export your Google+ data.

Have questions about the Google+ shutdown? Don’t hesitate to ask – we’ll be watching as this continues to unfold.

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The Smart Way to Deal With Fake Negative Reviews on Google, Yelp and Other Sites

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re in damage control-mode. Your business has been hit with a fake negative review on Google, Yelp, or another online platform, and you want to deal with it ASAP. Preferably by wiping it off the face of the Internet.

Fake negative reviews are all too common. It’s trivially easy to create an account on these sites and write feedback for all the world to see. For business owners who’ve worked hard to build their reputation, these types of reviews are exasperating.

It is possible to get fake reviews removed in some cases. But that’s not always the case. Dealing with fake negative reviews is a delicate process, and it’s one you should prepare for before it becomes necessary.

We’ve laid out a step-by-step process for how to deal with fake negative reviews of a business, including how to report fake reviews and what to do when removal isn’t possible.

How to Deal with Fake Negative Reviews, Step-By-Step

Dealing with fake negative reviews is easier when you have a plan of action. The process will differ between businesses, but the basic steps are as follows:

  1. Verify that the review is fake.
  2. Determine if the review violates the rules.
  3. Report the fake review through the official channels.
  4. If the review stays up, decide on the best course of action.

1. Are You Sure the Review is a Fake One?

When we say ‘fake negative reviews’, we’re talking about reviews that are either:

  • Written by someone who was never a customer, client, or associate of the business; or
  • Making claims about the business that aren’t true.

It does a business no good to conflate bad reviews with fake ones. Do your research before alleging a review isn’t genuine.

If you have a very small customer or client base, it’s easier to tell if a review is coming from someone the business has never dealt with. Otherwise, some tell-tale signs of a fake review include:

  • Review was authored by a brand-new profile with no other reviews and a sparse profile
  • Tone is overly aggressive or threatening and clearly meant to provoke
  • Language includes industry jargon that actual customers or clients rarely use

2. Does the Review Break the Rules?

Suppose the review comes from someone you know has never dealt with the business. What next?

You can tell that to Google or Yelp. Trouble is, they don’t know who your customers are. Should they take your word for it?

People don’t even need to be customers to leave a valid review; they just need a customer experience. That can mean reaching out to the business by phone or email, or dropping by the premises.

It’s seldom possible to get a fake review removed simply because the reviewer wasn’t a customer. The most promising route to taking down fake reviews is to report them for violating the site’s terms of use.

Google, Yelp, Facebook, and other sites each have their own separate community guidelines. In general, the following behaviour is usually grounds to report a review:

  • Demonstrably false information
  • Current or former employees reviewing their employer
  • Business owners or their employees reviewing a competitor to manipulate rankings
  • People posting the same content repeatedly, or reviewing the same business from multiple accounts
  • People claiming to represent an individual, company or organization without permission
  • Obscene or offensive language that goes beyond ‘colourful’
  • Threats, harassment, bullying, or discrimination

If you believe the review in question violates the site’s rules, proceed to step 3; otherwise, skip to step 4.

3. Will Google/Yelp/Facebook Remove the Review?

Don’t call out the reviewer as a phony in public. Go through the website’s official reporting channels. While awaiting a verdict, decide how to proceed if the review stays up.

To report a review on Yelp:

  1. Locate the review in the Reviews section of your Yelp for Business Owners account.
  2. Click the button with the three dots, then click Report Review.
  3. Submit your report.

To report a review on Facebook:

  1. Locate the review in the Reviews section of your Page.
  2. Click the button with the three dots, then click Report Post.
  3. Submit your report.

To report a Google review:

  1. Locate the review on your Google My Business page.
  2. Move your cursor over the review and click the flag icon that appears.
  3. Submit your review.

4. Should You Respond to a Fake Review?

It’s never a good idea to ignore fake negative reviews.

51% of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within seven days. Posting a response gives you an opportunity to demonstrate you’re responsive to customers, even if they have nothing nice to say.

How best to respond to negative fake reviews can be tricky. It’s not smart to accuse the person outright, because it makes the business owner look petty and defensive.

A better tactic? Take the high ground. Write a courteous, professional response. The most important thing is for customers to see that the business is willing to acknowledge negativity and do something about it.

If there’s a clear sign the review is fake (talking about products or services you don’t have, or an experience that couldn’t have happened), there are subtle ways to address the discrepancy.

Don’t say, “We don’t sell ice cream, liar.” Say, “We’re sorry to hear you had a bad experience, but you may be confusing us with another restaurant, as we don’t have ice cream on our menu.”

Don’t say, “You never once used our service and we know it.” Say, “We’d like to investigate, but have no record of a client with your name. Please provide more information about your experience.”

Bad reviews hurt; fake reviews can hurt even more. But don’t give into frustration. The worst thing you can do is fight fire with fire, responding inappropriately or threateningly to someone who’s trying to bring you down.

Dealing with Fake Reviews

We’ve helped various clients navigate the process of dealing with fake reviews, and it’s never fun. But with a solid plan and a clear head, you can minimize the damage.

As always, the best way to overcome negative reviews is to surround them with positive ones. Don’t forget to let your happy customers know how much you appreciate their feedback.

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Reputation Management SEO: Why Branded Keywords Should Be On Your Radar

Online reputation management involves more than establishing a website and social media profiles. Conversations about brands are happening at various channels around the web, and the loudest of these discussions converge at one important place: the search engine results page. This post covers the basics of reputation management SEO, including the relationship between reputation and search engines, branded keywords, and strategies to dominate page one.

Branded Keywords

What is Reputation Management SEO?

Have you ever Googled yourself?

Not everyone might admit to it, but it’s doubtful anyone could resist Googling their name at least once or twice.

For most people, the results are typical: a few social media profiles, a company “About Us” page, maybe a quote in a local newspaper. Depending on your name’s popularity, the top results might be about an entirely different person; someone you’ve never met, but with whom you share a search engine results page.

You might’ve Googled yourself out of curiosity, or boredom, or because we put the thought in your mind just now. But there could be a time in your life where someone makes that inquiry with more significant intentions: a manager thinking of hiring you, a college weighing your application, or a potential partner scoping you out before a date.

In that case, the search engine results could have very real and lasting impact on your reputation.

The same goes for brands.

What shows up on page one of the results for branded keywords (searches that include the name of the brand) has a measurable effect on that brand’s reputation. That’s the importance of reputation management SEO, which is search engine optimization strategies and tactics to influence the results for branded search inquiries in order to preserve and improve a brand’s reputation online.

How the Search Engine Results Effect a Brand’s Reputation

It’s Friday night, and you’re decidedly too exhausted to make dinner. But you’re not feeling like any of your go-to restaurants, either. So, you pull out your phone and Google the name of that new place in town.

The first result is the restaurant’s homepage; the second is a link to their menu. Perfect. But there, in place three, is a preview of their Yelp rating:

Rating: 2.5 – 63 reviews – Price range: $40-$60

 In an instant, your opinion has turned; there’s no way you’re paying 5-Star prices for a 2-Star meal.

Review sites like Yelp can have an enormous impact on a brand’s reputation online. So can Google reviews, news stories, blog posts, forum discussions, directory pages, career sites, and all the other third party websites that rank for branded search inquires.

The problem is that brands can’t control the content on these sites as they rule their own domains. A well-optimized homepage will usually outrank third party sites for branded inquiries, but customers aren’t as likely to click through if it’s surrounded by negativity on the SERP.

You can ask the authors to remove negative pages, but that can easily backfire and result in an even worse reputation.

So, what can be done about it?

Reputation Management SEO Strategies

Rarely do brands have the power to remove negative search engine results outright. However, it is possible to:

  • Use search engine optimization (SEO) to influence the results for branded search inquiries
  • Influence the content of third-party review sites
  • Publish new types of content to claim more above the fold space on the results page

The goal is to enhance the ranking of positive items in favour of negative ones, either by displacing the negative content or improving it. There are several ways to go about this; we’ll briefly cover three strategies in the sections below.

1. Encourage Positive Reviews

Third party review sites like Yelp (along with industry-specific sites like G2Crowd for B2B software, or HomeStars for trade contractors) are crucial when it comes to reputation management SEO for local service industries.

These sites tend to rank well because they provide relevant information consumers want to see. Authentic customer reviews tend to carry more weight than curated testimonials on a brand’s own website.

It might not always be possible to outrank them, but it is possible to turn these sites into an asset:

  • Most third-party review sites allow brands to “claim” and modify their profiles. Take this step and fill out the profile completely, using it as a platform to speak to potential customers.
  • Upload enticing, high-quality photos that put products and services in the best possible light.
  • Encourage happy customers to leave positive reviews on the site to bolster the score. Great reviews are the most effective way to diminish the weight of negative ones.

2. Publish New Content

With proper placement and optimization, quality blog posts, videos, and images that utilize branded keywords can rise in the rankings to displace negative pages.

YouTube videos are especially powerful in this way, since they can even claim the coveted position zero ranking, claiming valuable above-the-fold real estate.

It’s worth utilizing off-site publishing platforms as well as those on the brand’s domain. Industry-specific news sites, as well as pop news sites like The Huffington Post, can be valuable both for back-linking and reputation management.

3. Get Others to Write About the Brand

Journalists, bloggers, editors, and video creators are always on the hunt for great content. Pitching positive stories about the brand helps to seed the web with a variety of content relevant to branded search inquiries.

Over time, these stories can gain enough traction to rise in rank and claim a spot previously occupied by negativity.

Managing Your Reputation Online

Reputation management SEO takes time. Positive stories cannot displace negative ones overnight; high-quality links need to be developed over time; and legitimate customer reviews don’t always come easy.

But at this day and age, reputation management SEO is absolutely worth the time and effort.

The search engine results page serves as a brand’s first impression to many, many people. Negative results can stop potential customers in their tracks.

It’s like the old saying about planting a tree. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now. Change takes time, so there’s no better time than the present to work on your brand’s online reputation.

Get in touch with us if you’d like to chat about where your brand stands in the digital marketplace.

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Blog Optimization Checklist: 10 Clear-Cut Ways to Boost SEO

When you’ve poured time and energy into a great blog post, you want it to reach as much of your audience as possible. Small changes matter when it comes to boosting blog SEO. Take a run through this blog optimization checklist before you post — it won’t take long, and it’ll help your blog get seen by the right people.

Blog Checklist

1. Keywords

Keywords are words or short phrases that encompass what the blog post is about (see our blog: What Are Keywords and Why Do They Matter?). When you use them well, keywords can help the post rank for search queries that include those words.

Why Blog Keywords Matter for SEO

Search engine algorithms use repeated words and phrases as clues to what a webpage is about. Placing relevant, natural-sounding keywords in the blog content, title, meta description, and URL can contribute to a blog post’s search engine ranking.

How to Optimize for Keywords

Incorporate your chosen keywords into the blog:

  • Title
  • Headings (one or more)
  • First paragraph
  • Meta description
  • URL

2. Length

There’s no perfect word count for SEO, but the length of a blog can factor into its ranking.

Why Blog Length Matters for SEO

Search engine algorithms often deem pages with less than 300 words inadequate to rank in the search engine results. However, longer isn’t necessarily better; a 3,000-word post stuffed with irrelevant content will fare just as poorly as a short one.

Optimizing Length for SEO

Aim to write at least 500 words per blog post. Beyond that, the ideal blog length will depend on your audience. Pay attention to how your blogs perform and look for trends related to page length.

3. Readability

It’s in the writer’s interest to make a blog post as easy to read as possible. Spacing, formatting, and writing style all weigh on a blog’s readability.

Why Readability Matters for SEO

Making your content easy to digest will increase the time people spend reading it and encourage them to share it with others. It can also increase the likelihood the content will rank in Featured Snippets, which is a huge boost to blog SEO.

How to Optimize Blog Readability

  • Add informative headings and subheadings to make the post easier to skim.
  • Format lists or step-by-step instructions as numbered or bulleted lists.
  • Break large paragraphs into shorter chunks. Single-sentence paragraphs are common in the blog world.

4. Title

The title is your chance to convince the reader to click in 50-60 characters or less. A good title:

  1. Is short (search engines cut off titles longer than 60 characters);
  2. Is compelling (but not clickbait); and
  3. Promises readers something of value if they click.

Why Blog Titles Matter for SEO

A great title will drive more traffic to the blog, which significantly impacts its rankings. As mentioned above, the title should also include relevant keywords.

How to Optimize Blog Titles

Craft your title around keywords and the value readers receive from the blog. Shorten it 50 characters or less and add compelling adjectives to make it pop.

5. Call to Action

The title succeeds in persuading readers to click on your blog post. What do you want them to do once they’re there? Whatever the goal, readers are more likely to do it if you guide them in the right direction with a clear call to action.

Why a Call to Action Matters for SEO

An effective call to action keeps people on your site and discourages them from bouncing back to the search engine results page (see our blog: Understanding Bounce Rate, Long Clicks and Pogo-Sticking).

How to Optimize Call to Action

Place the call to action prominently on the blog post (the best spot will vary audience-to-audience, so consider testing different placements). It should be relevant to the subject matter of the article and the user’s pain points.

6. Internal and External Links

Internal links are links to content that is within the same domain as your content: other blog posts, product pages, contact pages, and so on. External links are the opposite: they point to other websites.

Why Internal and External Linking Matters for SEO

Interlinking helps search engine algorithms to understand the website’s structure. Links to credible, authoritative external sources help build your site’s credibility within the eyes of the all-seeing search algorithm. Both are an important part of boosting blog SEO.

How to Optimize Links

Be picky about the links you include! Credible external sites will bolster your blog’s credibility, but poor sites will do the opposite. Insert internal links should in a logical way that benefits the reader.

7. Anchor Text

Anchor text refers to the clickable text of an internal or external link. On most sites, anchor text is underlined and highlighted in blue.

Why Anchor Text Matters for SEO

Search engine algorithms use anchor text another clue to what a web page is about, both regarding your blog and the page you’re linking to.

How to Optimize Anchor Text

Good anchor text is succinct, informative, and relevant to the target page. Incorporate keywords where it sounds natural to do so.

8. Images

Images are a necessity in any blog post, no matter the length or the topic. Along with their visual appeal, original images can help boost your blog’s SEO.

Why Images Are Good for SEO

Images make the blog easier to read, increasing the chance people will share it and explore the rest of your site. Keywords in image titles and file names can help give the algorithm context on your blog’s topic. Images also allow the site to rank in image searches.

Optimizing Images for SEO

Upload high-quality images with keyword-rich titles and file names. Avoid adding overly-large images, as they can bog down your site’s loading speed (see our blog: Why Page Speed Matters.

9. Meta Description

The meta description is a 160-character summary of the blog that can display below the headline on the search engine results page.

Why Meta Descriptions Matter for SEO

The meta description can be a huge factor in a reader’s decision to click through to your blog from the search engine results page. Like blog titles, meta descriptions are a chance to pique the reader’s curiosity and promise something worth clicking for.

How to Optimize Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions that exceed 160 words will be cut off, so be sure to include the good stuff in the first 160.

10. Proofreading

Spelling and grammar checkers have come a long way, but they’re still not perfect! Take time to proofread your blog before posting it.

Why Spelling and Grammar Matters for SEO

Poor spelling and grammar will stop some readers in their tracks. Few people will share an error-ridden blog with their friends, let alone peruse the rest of the site. Proofreading keeps readers on the page and preserves your credibility.First, give the blog a once-over yourself. Then, pass it to a colleague for a second look. If no one’s available to help, a free proofreading tool like Grammarly or Hemingway Editor beats no proofreading at all.

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