Here’s a question: What value do you put on your business being seen by prospective customers?
Most of you will agree that the first thing you do these days when looking for a product, restaurant, or business is turn to Google. Working in digital marketing and specialising in local search has shown me two things: how effective it is to be fully present to your target market, and how few businesses utilise this free tool to make sure every possible user can find them.
Having a Google My Business listing allows you to present key information to customers, convincing them to continue to the website or contact you for more information. The best way to engage a user is through images. We’re told not to, but everyone judges the book by its cover, and business listings are no different. So why not make your business ‘cover’ the best it can be?
Power Of The Masses
Google has realised that a lot of business owners either don’t have the time, or just don’t know, to fill out their business listings. This is probably why they created the Local Guides community, allowing locals to not only leave reviews but to contribute edits or add to missing information on local business listings.
Out of intrigue I joined the Google Local Guides back in May 2016 and started adding pictures and reviews to the places that I had been.
As a digital marketer I found it fascinating that Google was now ‘Crowd Sourcing’ local business information. Obviously, for me there was a professional benefit here, to find out the information that Google was wanting to gather before making it available as an attribute on listings.
Having now contributed reviews, photos and verified other Local Guides’ information, I’ve worked my way up the Levels Google put in place unlocking different features along the way. One of my favourite features are the questions that Google asks about the places you’ve been, such as accessibility or what the place is known for. So much information has already been gathered that recently, Google has used the questions that it’s gathered from the local guides to add it’s Attributes feature to Google My Business.
“Google My Business Listings with photos and a virtual tour are twice as likely to generate interest.”
This brings my back to my original question of the value of a prospective customer and how they see us. While writing this article I surpassed 2 million photo views, and though the views aren’t for one particular business, there are some heavy-hitters who have seen traffic as the main image shown for their listing.
From restaurants to distilleries and museums, customers want to be able to see what’s there before arriving, so why not make sure you populate your listings with professional imagery that generates interest in visiting?
To truly give customers an immersive experience before arrival Google’s integration of its Street View app has even made it possible for Local Guides to contribute 360° photos to a listing.
Doing so and contributing over 50 approved images then leads to becoming a Google Street View Trusted Photographer (which I happen to be), allowing photographers to transfer the rights/ownership to Businesses.
So whether it’s a photo of items on your menu or a 360° of your roof-top terrace, make sure that your business listings show your potential customers everything your business has to offer, and you’ll be rewarded with more visits and more customers.
Most people who work day-to-day in digital marketing know that the inner workings of the Google PageRank Algorithm are mostly a complete mystery. Whether or not your webpage will appear on the SERP’s is decided by a mind-boggling 200+ factors.
Thankfully for us here at Mackerel Media, there are a number ranking factors under our control that the industry (almost) always agrees can make a difference to how your site will be ranked by Google. It’s likely that you’ve already optimised your site for keywords or authority-giving links, but have you thought about how important page speed is on today’s fast paced, on-demand and mobile-focused internet?
Web Pages are Bigger than Ever
According to a recent study, the average page served today is 3.5 times greater than in 2010 – a whopping 2.5MB of code, advertising, images, videos and other rich media that needs to be loaded onto your device before you can watch the latest viral cat video or discover which type of meatball you should be on Buzzfeed.
And while slow load times can be infuriating on desktop computers, on mobile devices page load time being anything less than instant can actually be damaging. Google itself shared data with the industry that suggested 75% of mobile device users would abandon a webpage if it takes longer than 5 seconds to load, and 79% of those dissatisfied customers won’t visit your site again. Ad blockers have been on the rise in no small part due to this particular problem, but that’s a blog for another day!
A Lesson from Google
Google certainly learnt this the hard way. During a Web 2.0 conference in 2006, Marissa Mayer highlighted that a 0.5 second increase in SERP load-time resulted in a 20% decrease in traffic. That’s right, half a second was enough for the worlds most visited webpage to lose a fifth of its traffic.
If that wasn’t enough of a reason to make sure your webpage loads as fast as possible, then let me introduce you to the Gap of Death theory. This rightfully scary-sounding concept is the name given to the time between a webpage users load-time expectations and the actual time a page takes to load. For each additional second a user waits you can expect your conversion rate to drop by 7%.
A 7% loss in conversions per second is a nightmare scenario for any business, especially ones that rely on e-commerce websites. Amazon.com techie Greg Linden blogged about the results of internal A/B testing that suggested even very small delays can “result in substantial and costly drops in revenue”.
The Paid Search Contagion
While the effects of page speed are intricately tied to your organic performance, a slow load time can also affect your paid digital marketing efforts too… sorry. Right here in the AdWords support documents, we can see that “landing page experience” and specifically “landing page load time” can have an effect your overall AdRank – and in turn your average advertising costs and ad position.
Now that we know the damage a slow loading page can cause to a business, what can we do to increase page speed?
With desktop, the answer is to keep an eye out for bottle necks and reduce their impact – bloated web pages, poor hosting services, 301 redirect chains, analytics code, slow widgets and plug ins or incompatible media. If you suspect that your webpage load time is too high, these are the usual suspects.
AMP to the Rescue?
Mobile sites have a smarter answer – Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP. The AMP Project is designed to give users a great mobile experience no matter what platform their mobile device is loading web pages from. In essence, AMP pages have found success by augmenting the HTML code that powers a web page and pre-loading as much content as possible using standardised formatting before the user ever clicks on a link. The result is a page which appears to load instantly.
Unsurprisingly, Google is a huge fan of AMP pages – even allowing web developers to identify their pages with SERP friendly discoverable <”amphtml”> tags. However, whilst take up has been quick and widespread, some in the industry who have worked with or have knowledge of the tool for a while are not entirely fulsome in their praise. One commentator reported a bug in AMP that apparently risks inflating Unique User counts four-fold which would cause enormous issues for major publishers. Others were concerned that AMP Pages ‘masked’ the publishers’ URL making it harder for users to either identify the publisher or share a link to the article, but to its credit Google responded by changing AMP behaviour to ameliorate the concern.
So what does all of this information teach us? Simply put, slowly loading web pages can reduce the likelihood of a user ever reaching your site, and massively decrease the chances of them completing one of your conversion goals if they do.
In the end, how well your online business channels perform is down to how quickly your pages load. As Marissa said in her 2006 Web 2.0 talk, “Users really respond to speed.”
We are positively thrilled to announce that a project for Glengoyne Single Malt Whisky has been nominated for Best Use of Video at the Drum’s 2016 DADI Awards. Come the 19th October we will be presenting ourselves in London for the prize-giving ceremony.
But first, a little backstory. On a rather dark and miserable November afternoon, we presented an idea for a campaign celebrating Burns Night to Glengoyne. Not long before Christmas, after an anxious wait, the email came through from the Marketing Director giving us the green light, at which point it was all hands to the proverbial pump to make sure we could deliver on the very tight schedule.
The idea centred around Glengoyne’s Family database, comprising over 50,000 fans of the brand from around the world, many of whom engage on social media on a regular basis. How – we asked ourselves – can we bring all of these people together to celebrate our national poet’s life and showcase the incredible global reach of the Family?
Then it came to us: invite all of them to record a verse of Robert Burns’ infamous poem ‘Tae a Haggis’, collect them all, then edit the videos together to take the reading around the world, one line at a time. We were absolutely amazed by the response, with videos flooding in from the United States, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, England and Scotland.
The result – we think – speaks for itself.
Sláinte…and naturally we’ll let you know how we get on, if we don’t see you there!
You’ve heard the rumours. You’ve seen the think-pieces discussing a year-on-year drop in organic traffic and how native mobile-apps hoover up all ‘traditional’ searches. It all points to one thing, they claim – the end of Search Engine Optimisation.
If you work in digital marketing however, you know the truth: SEO is far from dead. Now, perhaps more than ever, the fundamental principles of search engine optimisation are crucial to any successful digital marketing strategy.
But how can we prove it?
At the end of February, one of Mackerel Media’s clients came to us with a problem. Despite being a well-know, large Scottish based firm, their organic search listings weren’t appearing on the first page – what could we do to help them?
Now anybody will tell you that, unlike the relatively fast gains that can be made through PPC marketing, search engine optimisation is about playing the long game – but there can be some quick SEO fixes that can make a real difference in a reasonably short period of time.
Our initial investigation into the client’s website revealed, among other SEO quick-fixes, that most of the firm’s pages were missing H1 headings. The H1 heading element of a page has long been a stalwart of on-page search engine optimisation – but opinion has been divided over just how much influence it has on your final position on the SERP. However, with everything else seemingly set up correctly, the missing H1’s seemed a logical explanation for the underperforming pages. The next step was to get creative…
Working closely with the client, Mackerel Media was able to introduce around sixty new H1s to pages across the clients site – ranging from sector specific keywords to high volume sector terms, retroactively adding them to complement the existing site content. In total, all of the H1s were added in less than a day.
As a result, search positions have increased dramatically, with the number of our client’s pages ranking on the first page of Google up a massive 40.74% from last month. What’s more, the number of pages which now rank in first place for our client’s keywords has increased by 52.63%.
In just one month, Mackerel Media’s client saw a 22.72% increase in total pages ranked simply thanks to some in-depth investigation and the introduction of H1 headings. If SEO truly is dead, then we’re yet to see any evidence.
And while this is a single example, it is far from an isolated case. Every day here at Mackerel Media we see the effects a well structured, planned and executed SEO strategy. Whether a site requires a technical overhaul, on-site content improvements or an off-site outreach programme – each change you make will have an effect on how Google, and ultimately the internet as a whole, will rank your page.
So next time somebody tells you SEO is dead, remember: the right changes can make a huge difference to where your site ranks amongst its competitors… who are almost certainly all making SEO improvements as well.
Moz have recently come out with Moz Local, a new tool that checks all of your Local Listings and makes sure that they are up to date and accurate. You enter your business’s URL and Postcode and you’re given a pretty graph that telling you what’s complete, incomplete, inconsistent or any duplicates you may have. Sounds simple, right?
Getting the graph and information was free (which is the best price ever for a tool and pretty useful to get a general idea of where your weaknesses may be), but what Moz then offers is to get these all sorted for you, in one fell swoop. I thought I’d give it a go.
My initial use of Moz local has been good so far. Previously I would have had to think about all the places that our company could be listed and then see about creating an account on each one of them and then updating them one by one.
It took me around 5 – 10 minutes or so, from clicking on “Start Using Moz local” to entering business information (and asking Nick for the company credit card) to being on the dashboard with a quick click through tour of what’s available.
Filling Out Content
Adding Mackerel’s information was quite easy and straightforward. Overall there are four sections to fill out : Basic Information, Additional Information, Additional Contact Information and Advanced.
Basic Information is fairly straightforward, however under the categories section we have a message from Moz saying :
“Enter between 1 and 5 categories for your business separated by commas. Categories should be added in the order of importance for your business. Checkout Category Research to see all categories.”
To which I thought, “Great, where do I find these categories?“ but there was no link on the page. Having a look later, I found my answer in the Moz Q&A Forum. It’s here by the way: https://moz.com/local/categories .
Additional Information seems to be related to Foursquare which doesn’t really apply to us but I do have a few clients in mind. Here you’ve got a 150-character Description, Opening Times, Photos (which you add using URLs), and Payment Types.
Additional Contact Information is just in case you want to add extra numbers, secondary lines, mobile and Fax (apparently still a thing).
Finally there’s your Advanced section which asks for a URL to your logo, a display URL, Social Media URLs, any External Media URLs, Promotions (links to menus, product, discounts), Brands you stock, Certifications, Neighbourhood your listing is found, Containing Location (If you’re in a mall/shopping center) and a Store code (a unique ID for each of your listings to distinguish them from each other.
When you first arrive at the Dashboard, you’re welcomed by a quick click-through tour telling you what each section does. Your main sections here are: your Listings, Distribution, Performance, Visibility, and Reputation.
Each of your listings is set out nicely with your distribution score, and the progress of each of the local listings that Moz Local has sent your info to. I immediately saw a jump as some as the listings updated straight away, but Moz does then tell you that some could take a couple of weeks and you’ll get an e-mail when it’s all up-to-date.
Listings and Distribution cover your general information that you’re looking at getting updated. Performance, Visibility and Reputation however, are extras that you can purchase that allow you to get your Google Analytics and other Insight information in the same place. When you click on these, get to use these on a trial basis to check them out, though it seems to take a little while for them to get up and running.
The largest annoyance that i’ve had so far is that Moz Local is reporting I have possible duplicate listings, and saying that I should “Simply ‘close’” to delete them. There’s just one thing; there’s nothing to close.
For now I find that this is a great wee tool for getting all the info in one place, and saving a bit of time getting your company’s information distributed to the local listings. It seems like Moz still have a few bugs to sort out, but give it time and it will definitely be a resource to add to the proverbial Toolbox.
Every once in a while, an idea, an audience and a client willing to take a risk conspire to create an opportunity to do something special for a brand. We were delighted to get the go-ahead from Ian Macleod Distillers on such a project for Glengoyne Single Malt Whisky.
The idea was simple: showcase the global Glengoyne Customer Family by asking them to celebrate Burns Night through a reading of ‘Tae a Haggis’, to be released in time for the 25th January. Their contributions would be edited together to create a single reading of the poem that circled the globe.
To kick things off, emails were sent to the Glengoyne Family database in late December 2015, asking them to contribute in the most passionate way they could imagine. We were amazed by the results! Family members from around the world donned their kilts, set themselves up and read their favourite verses of the poem with amazing enthusiasm. Submissions came from a snowy forest in Saskatchewan, from a sunny tennis club in Melbourne, from Sweden, from New York, from a warm New Zealand, from Taiwan, from the frozen Norwegian Countryside, from Germany, from Switzerland and of course from Scotland itself. Some of the Distillery team were kind enough to contribute as well. Editor extraordinaire Marc Grundy pulled everything together against a very tight deadline and delivered an amazing final film.
We were delighted with the end result, as was the client. Just shy of 40,000 people were reached by the campaign on Facebook, the video was viewed over 22,000 times and – most importantly – we celebrated Robert Burns’ birthday in a way only the Glengoyne Family could. Enjoy!