Address: Rankhigher
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Phone: +1 (905) 637-9033

E-Mail: info@rankhigher.ca

GOOGLE PLACES EXCLUDES CANADA FROM MOST NEW FEATURES

April 27th, 2010
By: Brian Jackson, IT Weekly

Google has renamed Local Business Centre as Google Places and launched several new features, most of them not available to Canadian businesses just yet.

The re-branding launched April 20 to emphasize the link between Place Pages and the dashboard business owners use to control the information they share on Google. Launched last September, Place Pages are an extension of Google Maps that presents information about a business, such as hours of operation, a description, photos and videos.

Google’s local services are quickly becoming akin to the Yellow Pages of the Internet and have gained more prominence in standard search results over the past few months. One out of five searches on Google are related to a user’s location, Google says. The search engine delivers results based, in part, on a user’s location, found using the IP address.

Now the business management console has a different name and some new toys.

“At the core, it’s really a re-branding of the Local Business Centre,” says Wendy Rozeluk, a spokesperson with Google Canada. “With that comes all these additional features that are experiments in the U.S., but we plan to expand internationally.”

Businesses won’t notice too much change other than a new banner at the top of the page, says Cameron Wilson, a partner with RankHigher.ca, a Burlington, Ont.-based search engine optimization firm. But the consumer user experience will be better.

“It’s now not a separate product from Maps, but an integrated product where a user can go on the Maps and find out what’s near them,” he says. Canadian businesses can still expect a Web traffic boost from using Places despite not having access to all the new features.

SERVICE AREAS
One new feature available immediately to Canadian businesses is “service areas.” Businesses that travel to serve customers can indicate the geographic areas they cover. Also, businesses that don’t have a public storefront or office location can opt to make their address private.

This is most useful for home-based businesses that want some extra privacy, Wilson says.

He recalls how a dog breeder was frequently confronted by animal rights activists for raising purebred dogs. Now such a person would be able to indicate the city they serve without sharing where they live.

TAGS
New features available in select U.S. cities include Tags, business photo shoots, customized Quick Response (QR) codes, and an expanded Favorite Places program. The new features can be managed along with other information at google.com/places. Bookmarks to the old URL will continue to work.

Canadians can sign up to learn when Tags become available in their city, Rozeluk says. The new advertising format charges businesses $25 per month to place icons next to their name on Google Maps. The icons help a listing stand out from the competition and indicate extra content, such as video.

When this new feature does come to Canada, it’s best to get in on it early, Wilson says. But be sure to promote a well-constructed profile.

“The issue becomes, what happens when everyone does it?” he says. “While it’s new, $25 a month would be well spent if you’re in a very competitive business.”

QR CODES AND FAVORITE PLACES
Google will issue businesses customized QR codes that can be placed on business cards or other marketing materials. These are square bar codes that can be scanned by certain smartphone applications. The person who scans the QR code would be taken to the mobile Places page for that specific business.

Google is expanding its Favorite Places program to include 50,000 more U.S. businesses. These shops get a window decal with a QR code. It’s all geared to help smartphone users find information while on the go, Rozeluk says.

But time will tell if the cryptic squares really catch on or not, says Wilson from RankHigher.ca.

“Right now it just seems like something in the future, regular consumers aren’t doing it. If you serve a young clientele using iPhones, then go for it.”

Finally, Google’s business photo shoots will allow companies to request that Google’s Streetview team come and take photographs of the inside of their storefront. This will allow people using Google Maps to dive into a storefront off of the street.

When Was The Last Time You Googled Yourself

Often people Google themselves or their business and are shocked to find unfavourable web or blog postings. Disgruntled customers, an angry ex-partner or friends can post blogs and photos that portray you or your business in a negative light. According to Scott Wilson, an expert E-strategist and Principal of Rankhigher.ca, the growth of personal blogging has made online reputation management (ORM) a sought-after service. Wilson believes everyone can effectively manage their own online reputations if they follow a few simple tips.

“It’s terrible to discover negative posts about yourself or your company in an internet search,” says Wilson. “The reality is without taking legal action, the piece cannot be removed from search results entirely. In many cases, legal tactics often have the opposite effect and bring even more attention to the issue.”

A negative posting can never be permanently removed, but most web searchers never click beyond the first page of search results. A negative post can be ‘bumped’ to secondary pages with a little work, reducing the likelihood of being seen by others. This can be done by creating profiles on various sites such as Twitter, Digg, LinkedIn and StumbleUpon, under the exact same name the negative page ranks for. This will help to bump the negative post to the second page and create a more positive picture of yourself or your company. The more sites a profile is created for, the better the chances of bumping the post to the second page. Other sites that are effective in ranking on search results include Propeller, Technorati, Youtube, Zimbio and Reddit.

Managing profiles on multiple social media sites can be overwhelming and time consuming. There are a number of free online programs that can easily update all of your profiles and help maintain a consistent online reputation. Websites can manage personal websites, social networks, blogs, contact info and photo albums all in one profile. This will help you remain at the top of the search results with content created solely by you.

“These are some easy ways to maintain your online reputation, however if your reputation management issue is more complex, you may need to seek expert advice from online marketing firms,” added Wilson. “ At the very least – I always recommend adding a “Google alert” with your name and variations of your business name. Alerts are delivered right to your inbox whenever Google indexes content that contains those keywords. Content includes anything from your Facebook Profile to news articles you are quoted in.”

IMAGINE A SALESPERSON THAT DOESN’T CALL IN SICK

By: PAUL BRENT

Are you “blessed” with a complex service or product offering that doesn’t lend itself to a 15-second elevator pitch?

Creating a virtual salesperson who doesn’t get sick, tired or quit for a higher-paying job, can be just the answer to pitching that complex product.

Marrying the power of pictures (in pre-Web days they were worth a thousand words each) with the cost effectiveness of the internet, web-based videos enables companies to cheaply communicate complicated product benefits. Consider it a big stick with which to whack larger rivals who, with an army of salespeople making cold calls, always won.

Hiring a “salesperson that never sleeps” to explain a product’s benefits and applications to potential clients anytime, anywhere, paid off for Interchange Solutions Inc., a Markham, Ont.-based provider of customer relation management software sold under the Salesnow and Salesplace names.

In terms of return on investment for a marketing spend, the online Flash demos have probably been the best we have ever had,” says John Durst, vice-president of sales and marketing with Interchange Solutions. Interchange has been using online salespeople since 2006.

“One of my sales strategies is to drive people to watch the video because they can experience it at their own pace,” Mr. Durst says. “Anytime I talk to people it is ‘Okay, go see the video.’ Everything we do—   e-mails, broadcast or subscription—I am always putting the in.”

Recently, Mr. Durst purchased one-gigabyte USB memory keys and loaded a version of its video to hand out to potential customers. However, he cautions putting your company’s best face forward on the Net is not cheap if done professionally.

Interchange Solutions’ videos cost about $20,000 apiece when scripts, actors and professional compression and formatting for seamless streaming are tallied. “A lot of the impression a customer will have of us will be from this video,” he says.

In the close-knit world of CRM software, Interchange Solutions has received praise from rivals Mr. Durst says should be copying the strategy, but can’t muster the corporate will to plan, budget and produce similar efforts. “You need a great script, you need to do a lot of thinking to keep it clean and not too long, it has to be generic enough to have staying power because it is expensive. We are in the software business so we are changing daily not weekly so we have made it so it covers the core concepts.”

Interchange Solutions has used off-the-shelf programs to create its videos but found the quality was not comparable to professionally produced product videos and that they frequently froze up computers of people viewing them.

Its video was produced by eMotion Picture Studios of Burlington, Ont., a big believer in the power of the Internet to enable smaller companies to go up against larger rivals and win.

“Video on the Internet surpassed television for total minutes watched worldwide and in fact YouTube single-handedly surpassed all television worldwide for total minutes of video watched,” says Scott Wilson, president of eMotion.
While TV viewers tend to flip channels or leave the room to avoid commercials, they are more pre-disposed to well-packaged product come-ons when they appear on a company’s Web site, he says.

While eMotion’s bread-and-butter business is producing videos for businesses, Mr. Wilson has some tips for do-it-yourself video presence online.

K.I.S.S. (Keep It Short Stupid) If the video is a marketing tool make sure the total length does not exceed 90 seconds. “We have statistics that show high bounce rates after 90 seconds of marketing message. Training or product demonstration videos can be longer as viewer patience is greater.

Remember you are selling. Create a call to action throughout the video and always finish with a call to action.

Push “play” for viewers. Although this contradicts what many online marketers say, there is evidence creating auto-play on the video, if done correctly, can improve your visitor usage times and your conversions. This can be risky because videos that auto play with a loud or aggressive beginning have high bounce rates. Video that auto plays with a pleasant start has the opposite affect. If you add auto-play, closely monitor your analytics or log files to ensure the video is helping, not hindering.

Don’t be a repeat offender. If you do use auto play add script that places the video into pause mode if the user revisits your Web site. It is annoying to have the video restart everytime you land on the page.

Financial Post
smallbusiness@nationalpost.com

Scott Wilson On CP24

Watch and listen as Omar Scahedina of CP24 interviews Scott Wilson, president of RankHigher.ca about how to get your website to rank higher in Google.

The interview covers the three keys to search engine optimization: Building Google’s Trust, Ensuring the readability of your website’s content and Laser beam focus on targeted keywords.

Scott Wilson Profit Magazine Profit 100

WITH MORE THAN 2 BILLION ONLINE SEARCHES A DAY, CAN YOUR BUSINESS AFFORD TO BE LEFT OUT?
Scott Wilson headline speaker at PROFIT Magazine’s Profit 100
Inphoto: Scott Wilson, Bill Wilson, Cameron Wilson

TORONTO, June 18, CNW Group – While online search is fast becoming the dominant way customers find, compare and eventually buy products and services, most businesses give little thought to whether they are easy or hard to find on the Internet.

“At this very moment, customers are online searching for your product and it is in your control whether they find you or your competitor,” said Scott Wilson, president of RankHigher.ca, a North American leader in the field of search engine optimization (SEO).

On June 16, Wilson was a headline speaker at PROFIT Magazine’s Profit 100 annual conference in Toronto, where he detailed what companies can do to ensure search engines – and customers – find them, rather than their competitors through proven SEO techniques.

“There are over two billion searches a day and 90% of people use online search engines,” says Wilson. “Most importantly, there are thousands searching for what you sell but probably are not finding you right now.”

Over the last five years, RankHigher.ca, which carries out SEO work for Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. and Canada, has conducted scientific research to determine how Google organizes information on the Internet and ensure that their clients are up near the top of Google search results. “If they don’t find you on the first page of Google, you will lose that customer,” Wilson told PROFIT’s audience. “If you think people will just automatically find your fabulous website in a world of more than a billion pages, you could lose millions of dollars. What’s at stake here isn’t just new revenues, but your very company.”

Wilson told executives at the PROFIT conference that unlike traditional marketing – defined by the famous saying “Half is wasted, I just don’t know which half” – Internet marketing based on SEO principles is precise and cost-effective.

“Marketing based on Internet searching isn’t about demographics, it’s about keywords,” he said. “When someone keys in `digital SLR cameras,’ you know right away they want to buy a digital SLR camera. They’re defined by their desire, not their demographics.”

Wilson ended his presentation on SEO techniques that can be put to work immediately with a plea for PROFIT’s audience to learn more about Search Engine Optimization. “Get online. Google SEO. Talk to your people. Talk to us. Get comfortable with the concepts and the words.”

“THINK OF ALL OF THOSE CUSTOMERS OUT THERE WHO ARE FINDING YOUR COMPETITORS TODAY, WHO WILL FIND YOU TOMORROW.”
For further information: To speak to Scott Wilson about where Search Engine Optimization is headed or the simple steps businesses can take to improve their visibility on the Web through SEO marketing, contact Scott