How to know when you need a dedicated mobile website

The 2012 holiday season illustrates consumer trends that smart business owners will take notice of as well as act upon.

• According to released data, Cyber Monday activity was 26% greater in 2012 that it was in 2011, indicating that more and more people are using the Internet in every part of their daily lives.
• More interestingly, access during that period by mobile devices increased by 16%!
What this means to your business… as smart phones become the new norm of accessing information online, your company’s website needs to be properly optimized for mobile devices. Doing so is an indication to your clients and potential customers that your firm is technologically up to date, and by inference your entire businessis up to date as well.

We’re seeing mobile access to some client’s desktop sites now at 30% levels. Check your analytics, and if your website is being accessed by mobile devices from 25% – 30% it may be time for you to have a dedicated mobile site to better serve your clients and potential clients searching for and vetting your firm.

Website Design And Marketing, LLC now designs and produces dedicated mobile websites and would be happy to discuss your needs and options.

Just email or call us at 516 238 5252.

Recent Change in Google Places May Soon Affect Your Google Business Listing

The ever-evolving Google Places is changing once again. Often, the changes made by Google to its local business listings section are readily noticeable. Sometimes these changes are rolled out universally, while at other times Google experiments with new formats in local formats. In either case, it’s possible that from time-to-time, the listing you saw for your business yesterday may look different today, and quite frankly, you have no say in how your listing will appear.
Google’s latest change is a policy change, however. From now on, Google will no longer display the addresses of what might be best described as “go-to” businesses, or businesses that serve their customers in their homes or at their places of business. So if yours is a service-related business – think plumber, electrician, carpet cleaning company, roofer, interior designer, home remodeler, exterminator, junk removal service, painter, etc. – you must go immediately to your Google Places account and click the radio button that says, “Hide My Address.” Failure to do so may result in your being de-listed from Google Places, and if that happens, the phone calls you generally receive from your listing in Google Places may vanish overnight.
This policy change does not affect brick and mortar businesses that customers must visit. This includes doctors, lawyers, retailers, beauty salons, tanning salons, day spas, restaurants, and many more. Such businesses need make no change to their business profiles.
For consumers seeking a service provider that’s closest to their homes (for reasons like wishing to avoid distance or mileage charges), this policy change will require that one visit the actual website of the business that’s listed in Google Places to determine the business’s actual location. Of course there’s the distinct possibility that even a visit to one’s website won’t list that business’s location, so it won’t hurt to ask the business you call just where their business is located and whether they charge mileage fees.
Are their exceptions to this new policy? The answer is yes. With businesses such as real estate brokers, financial planners, consultants, accountants, personal trainers, where some office visits may be required and some not, you need not check the “Hide My Business” radio button.
In the past, we found that businesses that voluntary hid their business addresses from public view in their Places profiles often suffered in the position of their business listings on Google’s search engine results page. According to Google, this will no longer be the case. So if you must now hide your business address, it is unlikely that the position of your business on Google will not be adversely affected. Let’s at least hope so.
Now it may be true that your business is presently listed in Google Places without your knowledge. It may be wise for you to go right now to see if your business is listed and there is one important reason to do so: The information on your business listing may indeed be wrong. Your business may be miscategorized, or worse, your address and phone number may be wrong. We’ve often found that Google often publishes fax numbers instead of phone numbers, and you must make sure to correct such mistakes and keep you business listing correct or current.
It is equally important that your business information is correct, up-to-date and consistent across other search engines, review sites, online directories and Internet Yellow Pages, not just for the potential business these listings may send your way, but because Google wants to see across-the-board consistency of listings across many sites across the Internet. So if you’ve moved or changed phone numbers during the last couple of years, be sure to change those listings to reflect your present status.
Finally, years after Google began prominently listing local businesses prominently featuring local businesses on the first page of results, millions of businesses have failed to claim their business profiles and listings. Without claiming or establishing a business listing with Google, there is a strong likelihood that your business listing – correct or not – may be delisted from Google’s search results. You absolutely do not want this to happened.
If you have yet to claim your businesses on Google Places and in other online directories and websites that Google uses to validate your business, it’s time you do. Please feel free to contact your Find My Local Biz representative today, as we can ensure that you have a solid and descriptive online presence on hundreds of online sites, the most important of which is Google.
Please call or write Find My Local business today for more information and a free analysis of your business’s total online presence. You may otherwise be missing a ton of qualified from leads from people whose need for your services is immediate.
http://www.FindMyLocalBiz.com ,  (732) 535-6527;  info@findmylocalbiz.com

Facebook changes the rules for business pages

The new Facebook business page design takes effect March 30, 2012

In case you did not know, Facebook has changed the rules for business pages using their platform. Beginning as a mandate on March 30, 2012, the entire premise has switched and now puts more control of those business pages in the hands of Facebook rather than the business. In fact these changes on first blush favor larger businesses that have the graphic resources and creative thinkers on staff to accommodate the design shifts.

Simply put Facebook no longer wants third party apps to be the default landing page, no longer wants those arrows pointing to their “like” button clogging up the look of the page. Rather they have designated a “COVER” page as the default landing page for everyone regardless if you’ve previously “liked” their page, and now want your business to have an enlarged photo – think 5X7 picture – at the top of your page to signal what your business page is all about, to illustrate the “personality” of your company, if you will.

There are additional changes that will impact the way your visitors will interact with your business pages, and while all the traditional FB features are still there, they are now in different locations. As is always the case when FB makes a change, some like it and others do not. The long range value of the new design is yet to be seen, however we would not be surprised to find FB tweaking these design changes over the next few weeks.

You can catch up on what FB themselves has to say about these design changes here https://www.facebook.com/marketing .

We try and keep up on all the rapid updates and upgrades not only on FB but on the entire web-based apps and marketing opportunities, so if you have a question about anything just drop us an email or call at the numbers above.

Major Marketers Shift Ad Dollars to Google. Your Local Business Should Do the Same.

Are you familiar with those little text ads that appear on the top and on the side of Google’s search engine results page? You might be surprised to know that it’s through those ads – most often known as pay-per-click or PPC ads – that Google earns 97% of its revenues. And what were Google’s revenues in 2011? An astounding $37.9 million, according to a recent report issued by Wordstream.

What types of advertisers contributed most to Google’s pot of gold in 2011? In short, they were major businesses with names you probably know. Let’s take a look at which companies invested the most ad dollars in the top 10 most widely searched business categories on Google:

Google’s Top 10 Advertising Categories & the Top 5 Advertisers in Each

1. Finance & Insurance
• State Farm $43.7 million
• Progressive $43.1 million
• Geico $23.7 million
• Quicken Loans $21.1 million
• eHealthInsurance $20.6 million

2. Retailers & General Merchandise
• Amazon.com $55.2 million
• eBay $42.8 million
• Macy’s $35.6 million
• Sears $34.3 million
• JC Penney $30.9 million

3. Travel & Tourism
• Booking.com $40.4 million
• Expedia $28.9 million
• Kayak.com $28.7 million
• Marriott $19.6 million

4. Jobs & Education
• Univ. of Phoenix $46.9 million
• ITT Tech Institute $29.9 million
• DeVry $19.7 million
• Capella Univ. $17.0 million
• ClassesUSA $16.3 million

5. Home & Garden
• Lowe’s $59.1 million
• The Home Depot $50.3 million
• Service Magic $21.4 million
• Sears Home Svs. $20.7 million
• Lighting Universe $15.0 million

6. Computers & Consumer Electronics
• Hewlett Packard $33.3 million
• Dell $26.3 million
• Best Buy $23.7 million
• Apple $17.9 million
• Microsoft $16.3 million

7. Vehicles
• Cars.com $21.3 million
• AutoTrader.com $20.4 million
• Firestone $16.9 million
• AAA.com $16.3 million
• Chevrolet $15.5 million

8. Internet & Telecom
• AT&T $40.8 million
• Verizon $22.9 million
• GoDaddy.com $21.7 million
• Comcast $19.0 million
• DirecTV $18.4 million

9. Business & Industrial
• Uline $35.1 million
• Vistaprint $26.9 million
• Office Depot $17.3 million
• Staples $15.2 million
• United Yellow Pgs $14.3 million

10. Occasions & Gifts
• 1800Flowers.com $30.8 million
• FTD $30.7 million
• Proflowers.com $27.2 million
• Teleflora $24.8 million
• Gifts.com $10.1 million

What’s most significant about the numbers above is not so much the dollar amounts each advertiser spent on Google last year, but rather that major brands have shifted their ad dollars away from other media like print, TV and radio because they have proof, day-in and day-out, that advertising on Google drives business. And it does so more efficiently than any other medium. Why? Because only on a search engine like Google can advertisers target only those people who have not only entered the buying cycle, but are ready to buy.

Now if my hunch is correct, you’re likely a small business owner who has never advertised on Google before. And chances are you don’t have even a tiny fraction of the budgets that major national advertisers do. But no worry, because as a local business, you can use Google inexpensively to target prospective, ready-to-buy consumers just in your local area and learn almost instantly how well your advertising is performing.

It’s time that you, as a local business, explore the value of advertising on Google (as well as other search engines like Bing and Yahoo). Take a cue from the big advertisers and start shifting your ad dollars to where the majority of your customers are now spending their time. You don’t have to make a big investment, nor do you need to make a long-term commitment to advertise on the search engines. So in 2012, make a commitment to spend at least a portion of your ad dollars online.

About Find My Local Biz

Find My Local Biz is a website design and Internet marketing company specializing in helping local businesses achieve success online. After we learn about your business and your marketing goals, we’ll set you up with a hard-hitting, results-driven, search engine advertising campaign that will be seen only by prospective customers in the areas in which you want your advertising reach.

Call Bruce Mishkin at (732) 535-6527 or email bruce@findmylocalbiz.com for a free consultation or more information on how search engine advertising will grow your business.

Local Online Search: Ignore It at Your Own Peril

As a local business owner, it’s likely that you already have your own website. But what is that website doing for you, or more to the point, is your website generating a steady flow of leads – phone calls, emails and visits to your business – week in and week out? Are you taking advantage of all the online and mobile searches most people in your area are conducting for the goods or services your company sells? If not, it’s time to put online search in your advertising vocabulary.

Clearly, the growth in online search reflects consumers’ years-long shift in media usage away from print and broadcast media. As a local business, if you have not considered shifting at least a portion of your ad dollars to online search, you stand to lose considerable ground to your competitors.

If you’re a search engine user yourself (and who isn’t these days?), you’ve probably seen those little ads or sponsored results that sit atop and on the side of the search engines’ results listings. Perhaps you’ve wondered whether or not these ads work. Well, judging from the latest research from eMarketer, online search seems to be working quite well, thank you, and not just for major national advertisers, big chains and ecommerce marketers, but for the local “shop around the corner,” too.

Online search spending showing little sign of slowing – eMarketer expects U.S. search revenues to increase 27% this year to $19.51 billion and will approach $30 billion by 2016. That’s why now may be the best time for your business to jump into local searchengine advertising. Because clearly, more advertising dollars – especially those dollars that used to fund Yellow Pages advertising – are following the huge audience for whom online search is part of the fabric of their lives.

Among the top four search sites, Google’s revenues will see the fastest growth among the top four search sites in 2012, while growth rates at Microsoft’s Bing search engine will surpass Google’s growth in 2013 and 2014. But consider this: By 2014, Google’s position will be more commanding than ever with nearly 10 times Microsoft’s search ad revenue—$20.28 billion vs. just $2.21 billion. Google will not only remain the clear search ad market leader in the US, but will actually solidify its first-place position. This year, eMarketer estimates, the site will capture 77.9% of all US search ad revenues. By 2014, its share will be 79.8%. Microsoft, with its Bing search engine will also gain share as Yahoo! and AOL will continue to slide, with each losing more than half its share of search ad revenues between 2011 and 2014.

By 2014, search revenues at Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and AOL will account for 92.1% of all US search ad revenues and 44.3% of all US online ad revenues, which includes online display advertising.

Sound like something your business cold benefit from taking action with? Find My Local Biz is in a strong position to deliver search advertising and marketing solutions to your business, with search engine optimization, tracking and geo-targeting capabilities that will enable your business to capture the attention and dollars of consumers who research businesses online (and that includes just about everybody).

For more information on how your business can easily and effectively begin a search engine marketing campaign, and the verifiable results that come with it, contact Bruce Mishkin at (732) 535-6527, or Gary Victor at (516) 238-5252.

Search Engine and Mobile Advertising Show Continued Growth

Yahoo/Bing Combo Demonstrates ROI Strength

It’s never easy to keep up with all the changes that take place in the digital marketing industry, but a new research report by technology firms Efficient Frontier and Context Optional (both of which will soon be acquired by Adobe) sheds some new light on the state of the industry as we begin 2012 and highlights some important shifts in the market that may impact the way you do business online.

At the end of 2011, there was a 14% year-over-year increase in search engine advertising (PPC) spend as retailers spent aggressively during the fourth quarter. Clearly, search engines are driving more business than ever and the long shift to online search as an advertising medium continues its steady growth. Looking at the fourth quarter and into 2012 …

• Google secured 80% of all search engine advertising spend in the U.S.

• Yahoo/Bing clicks proved to be 14% more valuable than Google while also having 9% more ROI than Google. Despite this fact, Google increased its share of advertising dollars by 2.5% year-over-year. In 2012, Yahoo/Bing will continue to have a better return-per-click and ROI, but must increase its increase its reach in order to satisfy advertisers who wish to take advantage of its greater efficiencies.

• Costs-per-click (CPC) dropped 5% quarter-over-quarter across the major search engines even as spending increased. This was due in no small measure to an increase in mobile advertising, where click costs are less expensive, as well as more efficient ad delivery by the search engines which resulted in higher click-through rates. It is predicted that CPCs will continue to drop another 4% in 2012 due to increased mobile spend and new search innovations by Google that will provide more effective ad delivery.

• Mobile spend continues its upward march, now accounting for nearly 8% of search advertising spend, a 400% increase over the fourth quarter of 2010. Tablets in particular account for 50% of mobile search spend and 50% of click share. It is predicted that by the end of 2012, mobile ad spend will account for between 16-22% of all paid clicks

• Search spend is expected to increase 15-20% in the U.S. as more advertisers shift their dollars to online from other media.

There are some clear takeaways from this research …

• If your search engine marketing initiatives have excluded Yahoo/Bing, you’re ignoring not only 30% of the search marketplace, but an opportunity to acquire new business at a higher return on investment. So even though Google continues to dominate online search and captures an even greater portion of dollars than its share of searches would indicate good Internet marketing should include positions of Yahoo & Bing as well. Remember, if you didn’t know so already, that all searches that take place on Facebook are handled exclusively by Bing.

• The growth in mobile web browsing and tablet and smartphone usage continues unabated. It is expected that by 2013 that web browsing (and by extension, web searching) on mobile devices will exceed desktop browsing for the first time.

• The drop in costs-per-click and technological improvements in search targeting means greater advertising efficiencies. Now is the time for you to shift at least a portion of your advertising dollars to local search, as 4 out of every 10 business searches are local in intent.

• Mobile websites are no longer an option but rather a necessity. Websites designed for desktop usage do not scale down well on mobile devices and are difficult to navigate and read. With a desktop-only site, clicks to your site on mobile devices will show very low (if any) conversion rates.

We at Find My Local Biz stand ready to help your business profit handsomely from the efficiencies inherent in search engine advertising. If you’re a local business, we’ll show you how to most effectively reach and capture business from the 97% of Internet consumers who search online for local businesses.

Call (732) 535-6527 or (516) 238-5252 for more information, and for a copy of the recently released “Digital Marketing Performance Report” from Efficient Frontier and Context optional just send an email with your contact information to info@findmylocalbiz.com.

How Consumers Acquire Information About Local Businesses

Study Shows That the Internet Leads All Other Media in Consumer Acquisition of Information About
Local Businesses

As we enter a new year, it might be a good time for you to take stock of how you marketed your business to local consumers in 2011 and give some thought to new ways in which you can make your marketing and advertising dollars work more effectively in 2012. The findings from the newly released research study conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project – Where people get information about restaurants and other local businesses – may not shake your faith in the media where you’ve placed your advertising in the past, but they clearly indicate that a major shift has taken place in the ways your customers and prospects learn about local businesses. Pew’s study concludes:

“The Internet is the source that people most rely on for material about the local business scene and search engines are particularly valued. Newspapers and word of mouth also rank high as sources.”

Let’s take a deeper look at the numbers. Some 60% of adults say they get news and information about local businesses other than restaurants and bars. When they do:

  • 47% say they rely most on the Internet, including:
    • search engines – 36% rely on them
    • specialty websites – 16% rely on them
    • social media – 1% rely on social network sites or Twitter
  • 30% rely most on newspapers, including:
    • printed newspapers – 29% rely most on that
    • newspaper websites – 2% rely on them
  • 22% rely on word of mouth from family and friends
  • 8% rely on local TV, either broadcasts or the websites of local stations
  • 5% rely on local radio

All this begs the question: Which media do you rely on to reach and influence your customers’ buying decisions? Because if the Internet has yet to figure into your local advertising plan, you are likely missing out on your largest bloc of potential customers at the very times they are seeking your products or services.

Talk to FindMyLocalBiz about the ways in which you can integrate local Internet advertising into your advertising schedule by calling (609) 423-6918 or (516) 238-5252. And for a free copy of the complete report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, just send us an email with your contact information to info@findmylocalbiz.com.

Marketing your business – a continual process.

With the summer ending and the fall season in full swing it makes one think that for many businesses this is the make-the-year period, when last quarter sales can push profitability from the red to the black. Some rely on seasonal advertising, others on simply the time of year to goose sales up.

However for many smart marketers,  building business and sales is not just an end-of-year push to the finish line. Rather it is an all year ongoing process, one that in this day & age should involve online components as well as traditional. Online now includes your website, email marketing, blogging, social media and even Youtube postings. The need to be everywhere your audience is has become so much greater than it used to be as your potential customers are being bombarded with sales messages from every direction – even on their smart phones!

So how does one local business stand ut in this overly crowded market? Here’s a few ideas:

1) Set a monthly budget dedicated to building your brand and extending your footprint

2) Develop a marketing plan for your vicinity and customer base, including all of the ways to reach these prospective customers.

3) Prioritize the marketing plan items according to your budget and those that you believe will have the most impact and ROI

4) Implement this plan; check and adjust monthly, revise quarterly.

5) Stick to the plan.

The biggest error we typically see is a business owner doing #1-4 above, then dropping the ball a few weeks into the plan as something else gets his attention.  That’s where we come in. For many of our clients we become the marketing department, drawing the plans, implementing and monitoring, reporting as we go. This frees up our clients to run their business yet not neglect the need to grow, attract new customers and generate profits.

So whether you do it yourself or bring in a professional marketing company to handle it, the main idea is to keep your marketing going… every week, every month and all year long.

“… leave a message at the tone”

“… leave a message at the tone” may be sufficient for your home or personal cell, but is it the same in a local business or professional situation?

You work hard to develop new customers, to get them to call in to your business. Do new clients and customers calling in to your business for the first time really want to leave a message at the tone?  Or upon hearing a VM message do they just hang up and go onto the next company on their list?

Yes, existing clients looking to change an appointment may be inclined to leave a voice mail message, but if a potential new customer – especially one seeking information – gets connected to voice mail instead of a live human being, we believe they’re simply going to hang up and call the next name on their screen.

In this digitally connected online world it is so easy to find any type of company – just Google the business type and hundreds of pages of search engine return pages come up in seconds – it’s no wonder that many people will just hang up without leaving a message as they won’t have the patience to wait for a return phone call when they need a question answered now.

Listening to recordings of inbound phone calls over time shows that most calls answered by a machine get hung up on with no message left. If the caller was a new client, that’s lost business.

Roger Kahn, the owner of Champion Office Suites in Garden City, a provider of off-site telephone reception services that answers some 700 calls for its clients everyday, states… “A recent Consumer Reports survey showed that 70% of callers are frustrated by voice mail. It is crucial to have your incoming sales calls answered by a live person rather than voice mail or an automated attendant.  It immediately establishes the tone for the experience the caller will have with your company and sets you miles apart from your competition.  Plus, importantly, if the calls go directly to voice mail, the caller is very likely to hang up and simply move to the next company on their list rather than leave a message and hope that someone will get back to them.  Why risk frustrating clients or potential clients?  The organizations we serve benefit from the fact that we personally answer their calls and appropriately shepherd the caller to the proper party within the organization.  Even if the caller ultimately ends up in voice mail because the person in question is unavailable, they have had a positive, pleasant, personal, experience with the company and were not left to fend for themselves with a voice message or a frustrating automated attendant.  The all-important process of BUILDING PERSONAL RAPPORT was begun.  There is only one way to do that – with a live person answering the call.”

So think about the next time you call a new company for information, then reach a voice mail message, how you feel? Now imagine how your inbound new customers feel when they get that VM recording? Hmmmm…..

Optimizing Your Website – a terrific Newsday article.

There is a terrific article in today’s Newsday (Long Island NY daily ) by Jamie Herzlich that talks about things any business owner can do to help their website perform better in search and in overall Internet marketing. While that is exactly what we do at FindMyLocalBiz, I think this article is a must-read to at least help you learn about the basics of optimization.

Here’s the link to the Optimize Your Website story in Newsday.com , but unfortunately you must be a subscriber to read the full article. So if you can’t access the article we’ve also included this PDF for easier reading Optimize Your Website .

Let us know if this helps your business!