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Google Updates Impacting How Local Businesses Appear in Search

Google has been making an effort to make their search results show local information better for some time now. The search engine recently launched two major updates to their algorithm, both with a goal of diversifying local map results in organic search. These updates can either have a positive or a negative impact on your business.

The first update to the Google organic search algorithm did not directly penalize or remove any businesses from Google My Business, but it could have made your listing disappear from Google’s Map Pack. When you search Google for a local keyword the search engine will show a selection of local listings on the top or middle of the search results page, this is commonly referred to as Google’s Map Pack.  Many in the SEO world have dubbed this first algorithm update as the Possum update, due to the fact it caused otherwise functional local listings to ‘play dead’ and disappear from the map pack on the search results page.

The Possum update was first launched in 2016 many businesses that had brick and mortar locations physically near or with shared ownership as another business with the same name found that their listings were hidden in search results. This also caused businesses that shared office space with another business operating in the same industry to disappear. Businesses did not need to share addresses to be affected, there were some cases of competitors with addresses on the same street being negatively impacted by the update. The update also gave more weight to the searchers physical location. For example, a person living in Markham who searched Google for ‘plumbers’ would see a much different search results page than someone doing the same search in Oakville.

Google doesn’t necessarily make updates to their algorithm to penalize website owners, their goal is always to make search more accurate, useful and relevant to their users. The Possum updated filtered out businesses with the same name or who offered similar services with the goal of providing more diversified results. Some industries were impacted more than others with this update. It’s not uncommon to see various doctor, lawyer, and insurance offices clustered together in a certain region of a city. It’s very likely that some of these businesses were negatively impacted by the Possum update (especially for those operating in the same building).

Over the years, Google has earned a strong reputation for being receptive to the feedback of their users, and an additional update was launched to lessen the negative impact from the Possum update. In August 2017, Google launched an algorithm update nicknamed Hawk to curb the negative effects of the previously issued Possum update. Hawk was able to tighten the proximity filters of Google, this helped many listings wrongfully hurt by the Possum update to start appearing again. Unfortunately, the update to the algorithm did not help businesses operating in the same building from cancelling one another out.

Are you finding that your business is losing local traffic due to the Possum algorithm update? Here are some useful tips if the Hawk update didn’t help:

  • Focus on your local online presence – Take advantage of the many tools and features included in Google’s free Google My Business account to maintain local visibility. Be sure to fill out as much information as possible and keep everything up-to-date. Try to make to your audience on a regular basis.
  • Add a local spin to your content – Content is extremely important online and it can really help with your local search results. When writing content you’ll want to think local and give your content a local flavour.
  • Post relevant and local content on all platforms – Try to connect with other high-quality websites in your local area and ask them to backlink to your website. Ensure that any page being backlinked to contains relevant and localize content. This strategy will show Google that you are a local authority in your market.

It’s important to have a strong understanding of how Google operates and the updates to their algorithm. Google’s focus on diversifying the local content they show can be an excellent opportunity to rank higher and get qualified web traffic. At Insiteful Solutions, we’ve been helping businesses rank higher in Google with sustainable SEO strategies. Learn more about how SEO can generate traffic for your business by contacting us today.

How Voice Search and Smart Speakers are Changing SEO and Content Marketing

It’s hard to believe that the Internet has been part of our lives for over two decades. During this time, we’ve seen dramatic changes on people interact with the Internet. Smart speakers are becoming more and more popular in today’s homes. Devices such as the Google Home and Amazon Echo have made it possible to perform Google searches by simply saying a couple of words. Many newer vehicles are equipped with Bluetooth technology that syncs your Apple or Android phone to your vehicle while you drive. It’s estimated that half of all searches will be performed as a voice search by 2020. People are drawn to the ability to make easy, fast and accurate searches without typing a single word.

Smart homes are becoming more and more popular and they are controlled by a relatively inexpensive device. With only a few words you can control the music you hear, what streams on your television, control the heat, turn off the lights, ask for directions, order socks on Amazon, and easily perform dozens of other common household tasks. You can also ask Google any question you that randomly enters your brain.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and content marketing are core to most online marketing strategies. For years, we’ve been building campaigns with the understanding that people are using a keyboard or phone to make searches in Google. People can be lazy when they type a search in Google, the search engine does a great job at understanding the search term you’ve entered, even if it’s not accurate. For example, ‘Pizza shop Toronto’ will not always produce the same results as ‘I want to order pizza in Toronto’.

Voice searches take a lot less effort than typed searches. People talking to their Smart Speakers are more likely to provide complete information and full phrases.  This could be a game changer for companies who embrace voice search in their online marketing strategy.

Traditionally, SEO is the practice of optimizing a webpage for keywords that Internet users utilize when searching Google for a specific product or service. For a pizza place to rank in Toronto, the page should include references to both ‘pizza’, ‘Toronto’ and any other relevant keywords throughout the page. Ideally, the page’s headings, META tags, anchor links and other elements would include the keywords your customers may use on Google. Voice search could potentially change the way we write online content and perform SEO.

People are getting used to using their Smart Speakers and onboard vehicle technology to perform Google searches. Practise makes perfect, and it doesn’t take long to realize that these devices work best when more detail is included in the voice search. Again, it takes a lot less effort to talk than it does to type. The ease of voice search makes impulse searches a lot more common. It’s estimated that the average person will have 50,000 – 70,000 thoughts in their head during a day, that’s 35 to 48 thoughts at any given minute. Smart speakers make Google searches effortlessly if you want pizza you can ask for instant information.

To beat your competition on voice-activated searches, you’ll want to add more detail to your content. A more conversational tone in your content is the best way to capture voice-activated search traffic. Spend the time and use this logic on all pages of your website. Be sure to include localized information throughout your site, a Smart Speaker or vehicle will seek the closest brick and mortar location that’s related to a search.

A voice search will usually be a sentence or a phrase. Study your Google Analytics and come up with a list of common searches using multiple words and integrate these terms into your content. Think about how you would answer a question posed to a Smart Home device with the information on your website.

The times are changing and it’s time to prepare your brand for increased voice searches. Over half of all teenagers regularly perform voice searches on Google, and over 40 percent of adults do the same. SEO isn’t going anywhere, but voice search is quickly changing how information is found online. This means your content is going to need to take this growing segment into account.

Creating the Right Social Media Marketing Plan for Your Toronto Business

Social Media Marketing - Markham Ontario

Tips for Getting More Business from Social Media

Social media is now a go-to-touch destination for most consumers when they are making a purchase. Studies show that over 80 percent of people trust the recommendations of their friends over those of an expert. Log on to your own social media account and see how many people are posting about their experiences with brands. Social media is essential for creating and maintaining a strong online presence.

We’ve had the opportunity to work with some great companies in the Toronto region and beyond. During this time, we’ve learned that every brand is unique when it comes to social media. Running a business takes a lot of work and social media can often be forgotten. That’s why we recommend that brands utilize a social media automation tool such as HootSuite. These tools give you the ability to program boosts to various social media tools when you have a free moment. This allows you to focus on your core business tasks and have fresh social media content posting online without you even thinking about it. It’s also nice having all your social media accounts connected with one tool.

It’s also important to monitor your social media stats on a regular basis. Within a few clicks, you’ll have access to view some important data about your social media audience including demographics, traffic sources, and your posts that have received the best engagement. There are even some advanced tools that let you see your most popular keywords, mentions of your brand name, trending topics related to your business and various other important metrics that can help you improve your online conversions.

Social media campaigns should be an essential part of your overall online marketing plan. Whether you’re trying to have people view a landing page, click a call to action (CTA), watch a video, or sign up for a newsletter, a strong social media campaign will help you achieve your goals. Social media platforms such as Facebook will provide you with real-time information on how people interact with your content, giving you the option to quickly make revisions and try different content.

All social media platforms offer some form of paid advertising. This allows you the ability to instantly gain more attention to your brand by spending a few dollars. You can decide who sees your ads by focusing on the demographics and geographic information relevant to your brand. More and more people are accessing their social media via a mobile device, it’s essential that all your social media content is mobile-friendly.

Only post content on social media that’s both interesting and engaging. Avoid making too many ‘salesy’ posts on your social feeds. If your audience finds your content useful they will engage with your brand and come back for more. Content can range from funny memes to informative white pages. Try inserting relevant keywords into your post to get more organic traffic, hashtags can also be an effective tool when used correctly.

Partnering with a social media marketing consulting agency can be a great way to take your social media presence to the next level. Ideally, the marketing firm will have the ability to help with content, design and campaign analytics. They should be able to look at your social media data and come up with ways to improve your campaigns. An experienced social media consultant will help you target the right demographics and create effective CTAs that create leads. The best social media is a two-way conversation with customers, most digital marketing firms will provide your team with training on how to effectively respond to social media feedback and questions.

There are some exciting integration options available for business owners want to connect their social media to other online marketing channels. Facebook reviews, Instagram posts, and Twitter updates can be instantly embedded on your website. Mentions of your brand on social media can appear in your CRM, allowing for an excellent customer interaction and sales opportunities.

People are turning to social media to get customer and technical support. Facebook Messenger continues to gain popularity as a customer interaction option, many brands are encouraging their customers to chat with them using the tool. This can be an effective way to communicate during both regular and off-hours. It’s important that the people monitoring your social media have a strong understanding of your brand and the services you offer.

This is an exciting time for social media and we’d love to be your partner in brand’s success. Our team of experts will help your brand get noticed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and various other social media platforms. Contact us today and we’ll work with you to create a social media marketing plan suited to the needs of your business.