TOWN Values https://townvalues.com Delivering Savings for Our Readers and Growing Revenue for Local Businesses Thu, 14 May 2020 20:47:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.2 https://townvalues.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/cropped-TV-Logo-black-no-mag_512x512-32x32.png TOWN Values https://townvalues.com 32 32 Why Your Website Needs an SSL Certificate https://townvalues.com/why-your-website-needs-an-ssl-certificate/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=why-your-website-needs-an-ssl-certificate Thu, 14 May 2020 20:45:14 +0000 https://townvalues.com/?p=1526

Have you ever noticed that some website URLs start with HTTP while others start with HTTPS? Maybe you’ve noticed a tiny lock icon in the top left corner of your browser? What exactly does it all mean?

Websites that are HTTPS have an SSL certificate.

SS-what? SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is a secure protocol developed for sending sensitive information over the internet. If a website you are on has an SSL certificate, it means that the site is secure and encrypted. Any data you enter is safely shared with that website and that website only.

Let’s talk technical for a second. How does SSL actually prevent information theft?

When you start to break down what SSL is, you’ll discover it’s asymmetric (or public-key) encryption. This requires each party to generate a public and private key pair. Imagine a padlock on a gate. Anyone can go up to the lock, inspect it, and even try to open it with their key. However, only the right key can actually unlock it. In this example, the padlock is a public key, they are visible to the general public. Private keys are exactly that, private. These private keys are used to unlock public keys.

When you fill out a form on a website without an SSL certificate, the information can be intercepted by a hacker. This site would be classified as not secure.

The information you submitted could be anything from a banking transaction to your credit card information. A hacker could intercept your information in a number of ways, one of the most common is when a hacker places a small, undetected listening program on the server that is hosting a website. That program ‘wakes up’ when a website visitor starts typing their information. This listening program will begin capturing the information and send it back to the hacker.

When you visit a website that has an SSL certificate, your browser will form a connection with the web server and bind to it. This connection is secure so that no one besides you and the website where you’re submitting your information can see or access it.

This connection happens instantly. There is no manual work required. You simply need to visit a website with an SSL certificate and your connection will automatically be secured.

Why is SSL so important?

You might be thinking, I’m not accepting sensitive information through my website! Regardless of if you are in the business of accepting delicate information or not, having an SSL certificate is still incredibly important.

SSL and SEO

In 2014, Google made adjustments to its ever-changing algorithm for SEO rankings. The major change? Websites using SSL certificates. Google began and still continues to flag sites without SSL certificates as untrustworthy.

Sites with an SSL certificate receive an SEO boost and will be the default result for searchers. If you want to be findable on Google, having an SSL certificate on your website is absolutely necessary.

SSL and online payments

If you are conducting online transactions through your website, it is imperative that you have an SSL certificate. As an online shop, it’s your primary responsibility to ensure that the information being exchanged over your online store is protected.

How do you prove to your customers that their usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers are not being revealed to malicious hackers? Having an SSL certificate!

SSL and consumer trust

Did you know that Google Chrome is the most popular web browser? 44.5% of internet users search the internet using it. On the Chrome browser, you are able to easily spot a site with an SSL certificate. Next to the URL is a tiny lock icon. If a site has an SSL certificate it shows it locked, however, if a site does not have an SSL certificate the lock will be open and red text will read ‘Not Secure’. The second a customer lands on a website that is labeled ‘not secure’, they are going to feel less comfortable browsing it, even if there is no sensitive information being passed across it. SSL certificates have become an absolute necessity for any business that wants to be perceived as trustworthy.

There’s no denying the confidence and trust that an SSL certificate can provide to a site. Choosing an SSL certificate to secure a website demonstrates that a business values customer trust, which is essential to financial success, customer conversion, and business growth.

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What are Listings and Why Do They Matter? https://townvalues.com/what-are-listings-and-why-do-they-matter/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=what-are-listings-and-why-do-they-matter Fri, 03 Apr 2020 20:13:30 +0000 https://townvalues.com/?p=821

Listings are an online summary of essential information for your business that serve as a powerful tool to help customers find you online and in real life. Here’s what you need to know:

NAP+W

No, we didn’t fall asleep on the keyboard. NAP+W is the acronym that explains all the information that should be included in business listings.

Name
Address
Phone number
+
Website

These four pieces of information are the business listings starter-pack. They provide the basic information potential customers need to have in order to research, contact and locate your business.

Want to score some major bonus points? Include information like hours of operation in business listings—it’s what consumers are most interested in!

Will my listings work?

The effectiveness of a business listing depends on the information’s presence and accuracy. Listings are available through a variety of sources, including search engines, online directories and maps, or social sites. When it comes to listings presence, more is definitely better. Availability on as many sources as possible will create multiple avenues for consumers to find your business. But (and this is a big but), presence only pays off if the listings are accurate. Listings are accurate if the information is correct and consistent across all potential sources. Seems easy enough, right?

Why are listings important?

Listings with good presence and accuracy will undoubtedly pay off for your business. Here’s how:

No more hide and seek

Just as the brightly lit bat signal guides everyone’s favorite caped crusader (that’s right Superman, we said it!), accurate and readily available listings will help guide consumers right to your business’s door steps.

They even have similar shapes. Coincidence? We think not…

If a business’s listing is incorrect or missing, the majority of consumers will feel less confident about the brand, likely leading them to choose a competitor’s product or service. The availability of accurate listings ensures customers are actually able to find brick and mortar locations while they’re open for business. This means money in the business owner’s pocket and, just as importantly, it means the business can be reviewed.

“In my humble opinion…”

An ample review pipeline is an essential tool for developing a business’ online reputation and fostering brand loyalty. Reviews allow customers to communicate their experience with a business to potential buyers, but if consumers can’t find a business listed online, their opinion of it won’t be well-informed. Accurate listings create the opportunity for transparency between businesses and consumers in the form of reviews, and the availability of this information will help increase a business’s visibility.

All aboard the search engine

Consistent, accurate listings and the generation of reviews will directly benefit a business’s visibility by boosting its ranking in local search engine results. Search engine optimization is a complex tool, so why not take advantage of it by simply ensuring your business is listed accurately! Increased visibility means more customers, and what business owner doesn’t want that?

Now what?

This listings low-down provides a basic definition and describes the benefits of business listings. Create listings on sites worth lots of points to improve your listings score. We’ve ranked them by importance using a lot of key factors—how many sites reference them, traffic, demographics and more.

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Why Your Business Should Want More Reviews on Review Sites https://townvalues.com/why-your-business-should-want-more-reviews-on-review-sites/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=why-your-business-should-want-more-reviews-on-review-sites Fri, 03 Apr 2020 20:10:36 +0000 https://townvalues.com/?p=818

The importance of responding to customers online could not be more prevalent as reviews continue to grow more than ever before. Aside from the fact that reviews from customers help others decide whether they should visit a business or not, reviews are now more prevalent on search results pages—meaning a lot of eyes can see what is being said about your company online.

The influence that reviews have on shoppers is staggering: more than 88% of online shoppers incorporate reviews into their purchase decisions (Webrepublic, 2015). Businesses are told to get more reviews on review websites to keep attracting new customers. With so many review websites out there, where does a business even begin? Your business may be afraid to manage customer reviews on review sites as you may not want to end up in one of these situations:

  • receive zero reviews
  • receive zero recent online reviews
  • receive negative online reviews
  • or, your business simply has unmanaged online reviews across multiple review websites

Unfortunately, your business is missing out. This lack of free online word of mouth is actually hurting your business through inaction, because reputation drives conversion.

1) Business reviews and social posts help shape your company’s online reputation

In fact, one of the worst things your business can do is ignore your online reviews and social posts. As easy as it is to make a mistake when handling your business’s online reputation, it can also be easy to recover if done properly (and with apology). While damage will inevitably happen, your business can take steps to mitigate the degree of damage that can occur. The biggest mistake of all your company can make is not participating in helping to shape the conversation about your company online.

2) Business reviews provide valuable feedback for your business

While it can be easy for your business to take negative comments to heart, it is important to recognize that reviews are constructive feedback. All in all, reviews are valuable feedback! They help your company gauge their performance and see how you can improve. There is always room for improvement and a lot can be learned even from positive business reviews. Through reviews, your business can see which products or services you should be boasting, which needs work, and even discover which employees rock at customer service.

3) Your business reviews can now appear in search results

Search engines have caught on to the popularity of reviews and are now displaying them more prominently. So, if someone searches for your business, there is a chance that reviews from review websites could be displayed on the search engine results pages. In Google’s markup—the annotated content that appears in search—of a company or product, business reviews and ratings can now be included in search results. In other words, when a user performs a search on Google, Google will find and possibly display review summaries from online business reviews and consumer ratings. Below is an example of how business reviews now showing up in search results.

How can businesses get more reviews?

There are a variety of methods your business can employ to ask for more business reviews, including emailing consumers manually, using surveys, asking consumers to leave reviews with codes and review sites on their receipts, or utilizing review generation software to automate the business review process.

Three important review website management tips:

1) Remember to add or claim listings on the top review sites
It’s a good idea to add or claim a listing or business profile on the most popular review sites (unless your business doesn’t fit with the niche), correct your business’s listing information and start getting more business reviews!

2) Your business should keep asking customers for reviews
Asking the average customer for a review can be hard work. Granted, it is often easiest to get reviews from consumers that are either really happy or really unhappy with the level of service they were provided. Your business should always remember to ask as customers are busy creatures and will not remember unless they are asked or reminded to leave feedback.

3) Customers are more open to leaving reviews on review sites
Why not just ask for business reviews or testimonials on your business’s website? Well, asking consumers to leave a review on your business’s website seems a lot more screened and inauthentic than simply asking consumers to leave reviews on a trusted review site. Since the review site is a third party, it feels more open for customers to leave an honest, unbiased review.

Business reviews are here to stay

In conclusion, there’s no getting away from business reviews. The good news is that there are methods to get more business reviews as well as effectively managing reviews from customers. Also, businesses needn’t fear negative online reviews, as there are ways to negate the effect of negative reviews.

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What is Online Reputation Management? https://townvalues.com/what-is-online-reputation-management/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=what-is-online-reputation-management Fri, 03 Apr 2020 20:06:56 +0000 https://townvalues.com/?p=814

A business’s reputation used to be what they said about themselves in their advertising and the reach their customers had via word of mouth. Now, consumers are pushing out a company’s reputation and image collectively by providing real-time feedback online through review sites, social media, forums and other channels. Basically, if it is an online source and a consumer can say something about a business on it, then it is a channel where your business’s reputation should be managed.

Digital marketing and online reputation management for businesses

Online reputation management is a part of a greater digital marketing strategy that works alongside review management, business listings, paid search/ads, social media management and SEO to help your business stay competitive and relevant online. While your business should be managing each of these segments of digital marketing to maintain your online presence and (consequently) offline reputation, many businesses are not. They really should: four in five consumers surveyed use search engines to find local information from multiple devices to find store address, business hours, product availability and directions.

Online reputation management: your business has options

Your business’s reputation can be affected at anytime on just about any source across the web. You can use products (SaaS), services (outsource services) or people (outsource or hire a digital marketer) to cut down on your reputation management time expenditure. Even if your business tracks and constantly checks on social media, there may be sources that your business is unaware of such as a new review site from a listing that your business never knew that existed.

Your business should weigh the pros and cons of conducting online reputation management in-house or outsourcing, but there are definite best practices when responding to reviews that your business should be aware of. Maintaining your business’s online presence is one of the most worthwhile services a digital agency or local media company can provide your business and is one of the most worthwhile services you can invest in.

Why your business’s online reputation matters

An online reputation needs to be backed by reviews and ratings by consumers. Without them, there would be no reputation to manage and quite frankly, it would appear as if no one ever visited the business.

Ready or not, consumers are talking about your business

Whether a business chooses to manage their reputation online or not, consumers are talking about their favorite and not-so-favorite businesses. If a business simply ignores their reputation online, the consequences can be detrimental.

Unmanaged negative responses can create an angry mob mentality and bad word of mouth spreads like wildfire. While a business may not realize how exactly one instance can affect their online reputation, it is possible that only one negative post on a highly ranked site can actually be what shows up near the top of a search results page when a consumer searches for that business’s name.

Consumers Control the Conversation and Everyone’s Feedback Matters
Social media is a two-way conversation — businesses can no longer broadcast the message they want people to see. There is a democratic nature to social, with brands, consumers and everyone having an equal voice in a shared space. Customers can rave about a business or let everyone know they had a terrible experience. Social networks have dramatically changed the way businesses communicate. Today, consumers can converse with brands and vice versa as if they were talking to a friend. As a result, businesses have had to become more personable than simply a business entity and manage their social presence in a manner that reflects as such.

Reputation drives conversion

What people see online matters. Approximately 74% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations—this is a huge shift in thinking that has become more prominent as time goes on. This trust in reviews translates to dollars, as customers put their money where their trust is. A Harvard Business School study found that a restaurant that sees a one star increase on Yelp will see revenues increase anywhere from five to nine per cent.

As discussed previously, many businesses find that cultivating their digital profile on their own is too time consuming. There are reputation monitoring tools that make keeping up with customers way easier, saving time and money. Whatever your business does, it is essential that you are not perceived to be ignoring your customers online. The worst thing your business can do is appear unresponsive.

What makes a good online reputation?

Being present (listed online) and having a good reputation (reviews and reputation management) go hand in hand. Not being listed on a reference site customers use is just as bad as having bad reviews on that site. Building a consistent online presence and a positive reputation is important for both consumers and search engines. Some of the most important aspects of the online footprint include:

  • number of business listings
  • consistency of business listing information (name, address, phone)
  • overall sentiment in reviews
  • frequency or current velocity of new reviews
  • overall volume of reviews
  • social activity and engagement (especially with reviewers)

Customers now view social recommendations and reviews as more authentic, expecting \\reviews to be a mirror of the actual customer experience that they would experience themselves. This means that maintaining your business’s online reputation is gaining importance as each review is a perceived snippet of what your potential customer expects to experience.

Online reputation management: the main sell

According to Google, 9 out of 10 of local searches lead to action, with more than 50% leading to sales. If businesses have a good web presence, customers will go to them rather than the competitor. Once they’re in the store, 79% of customer use their smartphones inside to look at reviews or compare prices and 74% of them end up making a purchase. Those numbers alone make the opportunity clear: online reputation management is essential for your business to get consumers in the door to make the sale.

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Understanding and Optimizing Your Website Speed https://townvalues.com/understanding-and-optimizing-your-website-speed/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=understanding-and-optimizing-your-website-speed Fri, 03 Apr 2020 20:00:44 +0000 https://townvalues.com/?p=810

What is Page Speed?

How to opt-in

In fact, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds, according to surveys done by Akamai and Gomez.com.

But how long do most websites take to load?

The standards many have been using for page load time come from a study conducted by Geoff Kenyon where he compares website speed against the rest of the web:

  • if your site loads in 5 seconds, it is faster than approximately 25% of the web
  • if your site loads in 2.9 seconds, it is faster than approximately 50% of the web
  • if your site loads in 1.7 seconds, it is faster than approximately 75% of the web
  • if your site loads in 0.8 seconds, it is faster than approximately 94% of the web

So how can you determine how your website stacks up?


How to Determine Your Page Speed and Score

Here’s how to measure how your website stacks up:

  1. Hop into your website’s Google Analytics Site Speed reports. This will give you an idea of how your site has performed over various time periods and the load speed of each of your pages.
  2. Enter your site’s URL into Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool. This will give you a report card on your website’s speed performance on mobile devices and desktop. The report comes with some recommended actions you can take to improve your site’s speed.
  3. Check Pingdom’s website speed test to find out the speed, rank and percent faster than the average of Pingdom’s tested websites
  4. GTMetrix will provide a comprehensive look at your site’s speed optimization status.

Note: Don’t puzzle yourself when you see different speed timing in Pingdom and Gtmetrix. As Pingdom will show you load time (The time it takes to show the first result of your website—that’s what google counts and you should too) and GTmetrix will show you full load time (The time it takes to show full page with it’s full functionality running).

For further understanding, it’s always good to see the speed waterfall from both tools.


Why Does Page Speed Matter?

Bridging the gap between user expectations (2 seconds) and average website load time (5 seconds) is the goal of page speed optimization and the tactics we’ll outline later. But why exactly does page speed matter? It comes down to 3 main interconnected reasons:

1. Speed Kills UX

User experience is probably the most important reason you should care about website speed, so we’ll start here.

People don’t have the patience for slow loading websites anymore. In the beginning, just connecting to the internet required a tolerance that just doesn’t exist anymore.

Today, people are constantly online and you’ve got 3 seconds maximum to display your page or they’re gone. More than 3 seconds creates a poor user experience and the bar is only going to get higher in the future.

2. Speed Kills SEO

User experience is actually the driving force behind the SEO implications of site speed. While Google has been slow to officially reveal whether slow websites would receive ranking demotions, it appears that those days are coming. You need to make sure your website is ready.

3. Speed Kills Conversions

Your site speed’s effect on conversions is what should really catch your attention. How can you move people through your funnel if each step takes forever? Your super-fans will do it, but those new, hesitant people who are prone to buyers-remorse will bounce.


8 Tactics to Make Your Website Load Faster

Speeding up your site is not necessarily going to be a snap. If you have a small, light site you may just need to try a couple of tactics on this list.

However, large, older sites with a lot of code and content may require some persistence and the implementation of several tactics on the following list.

Here’s where to start:

1. Leverage browser caching:

When you visit sites, your browser often caches pages on the site to speed up load time.

Browser caching stores webpage resource files on a local computer when a user visits a webpage, so leveraging browser caching is when you instruct browsers how their resources should be dealt with.

Things can slow down when the response from your server does not include caching headers or if resources are specified to be cached for only a short time.

Leveraging caching will load your pages much faster for repeat visitors and so will other pages that share those same resources.

Here’s how to do it

2. Optimize images:

If images load faster, your site loads faster, period. Google notes that “…images often account for most of the downloaded bytes on a page. As a result, optimizing images can often yield some of the largest byte savings and performance improvements.”

This means that you can get some big improvements when the images on your pages can be optimized to reduce their file size without significantly impacting their visual quality.

Here’s how to do it

3. Minify HTML, CSS & JavaScript:

Minifying removes any unnecessary characters that are not required for the code to execute.

Sources of redundant data that you can remove includes code comments and formatting, removing unused code, using shorter variable and function names, and more.

Here’s how to do it

4. Enable gzip compression:

Gzip compression drastically reduces the size of files sent from your server when someone visits your website. This will speed things up considerably.

According to GTMetrix,

“The reason gzip works so well in a web environment is because CSS files and HTML files use a lot of repeated text and have loads of white space. Since gzip compresses common strings, this can reduce the size of pages and style sheets by up to 70%!”

Here’s how to do it

5. Reduce server response time:

Server response time is the amount of time it takes for a web server to respond to a request from a browser. This is a key issue to address because if your server response time is slow your pages will display slow, no matter how optimized your pages are for speed.

Google says you should reduce your server response time under 200ms. So how do you make this happen?

Here’s how to do it

6. Avoid landing page redirects:

Your site can really slow down when you have more than one redirect from the given URL to the final landing page. This sets off a redirect loop that takes time to process.

Here are a few examples of redirects that can slow things down:

example.com → m.example.com/home – multi-round trip penalty for mobile users.
example.com → www.example.com → m.example.com – very slow mobile experience.

Here’s how to do it

 

7. Prioritize visible content:

This is the exact message you’ll get from Google’s PageSpeed tool when additional network round trips are required to render the above the fold content of the page.

This “above the fold” content is what you see on a desktop or device when you visit a page. So prioritizing visible content is the recommendation that you prioritize things so that essential elements on your page load first (and quickly) for users and that you defer secondary page elements like social sharing plugins, analytics javascript, etc.

Here’s how to do it

8. Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content:

JavaScript and CSS resources often prevent your page from displaying until they’re fully loaded. This is often a good idea, since the premature display of your above the fold content can look pretty grotesque.

However, this is a common message you’ll get from Google about site speed, and addressing it can really take your page speed up a few notches.

Here’s how to do it

Note: This is the hardest thing to fix for most people. There are WordPress plugins that just do it but they can make your site look like Frankenstein on every load.

Want lightning-fast, Google Cloud-hosted WordPress sites? Contact us today!

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6 Reasons Your Local Business Listings Need to Be Accurate https://townvalues.com/6-reasons-your-local-business-listings-need-to-be-accurate/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=6-reasons-your-local-business-listings-need-to-be-accurate Thu, 02 Apr 2020 16:01:55 +0000 https://townvalues.com/?p=572

As a business, how likely is it that potential customers will come through your door?
The whole point of an online presence is to entice customers into your store, your leasing office or your showroom so you can convert them to paying customers rather than just browsers online.

Further, nothing is more frustrating as a customer than finding out that you have been given the wrong information about where a business is located. As a customer, how likely are you to give this company your business? Not very. In fact, according to Placeable, 73% of consumers stated that they lose trust in a brand when the online listing shows incorrect information.


1. Missing hours of operation information can be a dealbreaker

There are many things that people look for in listings, whether they are looking at that search engine on a PC or on a mobile device. The top piece of information that most people look for is the hours of operation, since their search is likely for a business that they frequent quite often.

In fact, in a study conducted by local data aggregator Localeze, hours of operation were noted as the most helpful feature in selecting a business during local search. 76% of respondent reporting that they expect this information when searching and 61% believe that it is a feature that helps them to select a business.

Even if people are new to a business, it doesn’t give people a good impression if the business hours are not listed and they don’t know that it’s only open from 11 a.m-6p.m. Tuesday-Saturday .Imagine that potential customer who is ready to spend their money in store, but shows up on Monday at 7 p.m. only to find it closed. That customer is likely going to do another search on a mobile phone to find a different store and spend their money there.


2.You can’t spell NAP data (and score a citation) without an A(ddress)

While most people would assume that the number one reason people do a search online is for the address or location of a business, the address is actually behind hours of operation as the second most desired information. But, of course, the whole point of being in business is to make money doing what you love or selling what you love. And that happens by attracting foot traffic and increasing customer base.

It bears repeating that if a business address is incorrect on listing sites such as Google or Bing, then customers will not be crossing the threshold. A simple thing such as the wrong number on a street address, or even the wrong town, can mean that a customer cannot find you. The Postal Service (PS) relies on a complex system of checks to verify and standardise addresses, and many of the search engines will default to the PS for correct mailing addresses.

What this means for the average new business owner is that unless a business is in an established location, getting the correct address on their listing means that both the address from City Hall and the information on PS must be consistent. If PS doesn’t recognize that address, then a business owner must contact them to verify their new address and get that information updated on PS’s online database.


3. Local searchers are mobile creatures

According to Localeze, mobile-phone-based searches drive in-store purchases with more than 75% of searches ending in a purchase—if a business has their listing details correct. Now if half of the people searching for a business listing on a local search engine, such as Google Local/Maps, can’t find the store’s business listing details, then the business is going to lose 100% of their business.

For ease of use for potential customers, some of those details need to be as readily available as possible in a mobile-friendly manner. This can be accomplished with a responsive website that supports cellphone and tablet-specific versions.


4. Updated, accurate websites still serve as a first impression

At the same time, more than 60% of searches on PC platforms such as website portals, Internet Yellow Page directories and local sites have a similar chance of ending in a purchase. While mobile searches are becoming more of a standard in where a customer searches, a business owner should not discount the power of a fulsome, consistent and accurate listing that is reflective of the business website.

Any listing should be linked to the business’s website and feature the exact same information, but more of it. While a website should be enough to entice a customer to visit or buy, if those inconsistencies exist, then trust issues may arise in a business’s practices before a customer ever crosses their threshold.


5. Local searchers mix it up across multiple devices, situations and times

People who search for listings are doing it in many more ways than when the Internet first coalesced into existence about two decades ago. In that time, we went from working on desktops to laptops to PDAs to Blackberries to smartphones to tablets—and in each iteration, the methods of search have changed.

However, that has slowed over the last five years or so as web developers realize that they need to be smarter. Rather than designing three different sites for three different platforms, they have created websites that are scalable to the search device. And that has been helped along by the proliferation of types of devices in use everyday.

According to Pew Research Center, In 2015, smartphone ownership in the US was at 68%, with tablet and computer ownership at 45%. Statista says that almost half of American adults use their smartphones the most to search for local information online, the other half being split between computers (40%) and tablets (11%). We expect that Australian statistics closely mirror those of the US. According to Localeze, like the types of devices used, what we are searching for varies by the time of day and device. Entertainment is searched for during work hours on computers, restaurants during evening using phones and health/fitness evening using tablets.

The most important part of those mobile searches is accuracy. If someone cannot find your business in a local search or find inaccurate results whilst out and about, then your business has lost the chance for that browser to become a customer. So having those listings correct in all of the device formats is a must as we, and our technology, continue to evolve in the way we interact with local businesses.


6. Local search results are trusted sources of information

Last but certainly not least is the fact that local search results are considered the most trustworthy. In a study by Neustar, it was determined that these searches, such as “used games Raleigh”, are what people do the most since they put that trust in local business more than big box, big website stores.

Think about it, would you rather find a local store where you can get that latest purse in town right now? Or you can wait a week for delivery, which is four days past the event that you want it for! Local searches lend themselves to instant gratification and that interaction between browser and salesperson will convert that browser from someone who might get just the minimum to a loyal customer who feels like a million having spent a little more, but getting what they consider to be gold!

Those interactions are what lead people to local searches and the absolute necessity of getting your listings correct. Trust leads to loyalty, which leads to more business, which leads to happy customers and business owners.

And it all starts with that correct listing in that customer’s local search.

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3 SEO Tips to Improve Your Keyword Research https://townvalues.com/3-seo-tips-to-improve-your-keyword-research/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=3-seo-tips-to-improve-your-keyword-research Thu, 02 Apr 2020 15:57:45 +0000 https://townvalues.com/?p=566

Have you heard that improving your SEO will help you get found online more easily? You’ve probably heard that implementing keywords into the content on your website, blog, and URL are key strategies for improving your SEO ranking. However, including the wrong keywords or too many keywords can be just as detrimental.

Although you may not always notice them, keywords play an integral role when it comes to helping a small business get found online. So let’s get to it by breaking down the long and short (tail) of it.

 

Do Your Own Keyword Research

Keyword research should never be a one-time commitment, but rather an ever-changing process that involves a strategy and a comprehensive understanding of your business and your industry. Including keywords that are specific to your business and industry will help to ensure that the right customers are being driven to your door rather than just any customer. Although we want to increase our customer base, we don’t want to target consumers that may not find the value in our business.

Using the Right Keywords

Short-tail keywords, or keywords composed of very generic keywords, might seem appealing because they’re searched more often than long-tail keywords, however, they’re also a lot more competitive. So, unless you’re writing content for a large organization, like Apple or Macy’s, and consumers are likely searching specifically for your product, you don’t want to enter into a sea of competitors with big brands that have even bigger pockets.

Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, may not be as frequently typed into a search engine—think, “Egg” vs. “Poached Egg with Avocado and Bechemel”. By including more long-tail keywords into the content on your page, you’ll attract a larger number of customers who are likely to search for any combination of those long-tail keywords.

Location-based keywords are keywords that directly relate to your business’s physical location. For example, if your business is a bakery in a popular neighborhood in Charlotte, NC, you’ll want to include not only Charlotte, but also the name of that specific neighborhood. By doing so, you’re more likely to target visitors in your area rather than across town who may or may not ever make it to your location.

Avoid Keyword Stuffing

Speaking of misleading customers that may not find value in your business, adding practically any keyword under the sun is referred to as keyword stuffing and is largely considered a taboo in the digital marketing world. Like with any other digital marketing rule of thumb, less is more and quality will always conquer quantity. Ideally, a website’s content should include keywords in a natural way. However, by inputting keywords into a few sentences and repeating them over and over, you’re stuffing your content with keywords. Even if they’re good keywords, it’s still too much.

Now that you’ve read through these tips, you’re ready to become an SEO expert too!

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Intro to Social Monitoring https://townvalues.com/intro-to-social-monitoring/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=intro-to-social-monitoring Thu, 02 Apr 2020 14:47:19 +0000 https://townvalues.com/?p=541

Have you ever been at a party and caught a person or a group glancing at you while whispering covertly?

What’s up with that? Is your fly open? Does someone have a crush on you? Does someone want to throw a drink in your face?

You’d want to know, wouldn’t you?

The online universe is a lot like that party; It’s a system of digital communities in which people are gathering and discussing a wide variety of topics, including YOU. In your personal life, you may or may not care to find out what they’re saying, but in business, it’s essential to your survival that you know.

At the party, you may never get the answers you seek without shaking someone down. However, online, you can use social media monitoring to track mentions of your brand, competitors, product and any other keywords that are applicable to your business.

Monitoring your social media channels is about more than just listening.

The information you accumulate can help you make major decisions about your marketing strategy, the products and services you offer and how people regard your brand. Plus, it can help you identify leads, build relationships, stay on top of trends, learn about your competitors, protect your brand and more!

Note: This post is outlining organic social media monitoring tips, as opposed to paid social campaigns. Organic social media is more geared toward building brand awareness and connecting with your target audience. Paid social is typically centered around driving targeted actions like content downloads, webinar or appointment signups, and other specific goals.

Here’s more on why it’s so important that you monitor what people are saying about your business online.


Why Should You Use Social Media Monitoring?

1. To gauge social sentiment

What do you know about your brand’s reputation? You can get a feel by reading your reviews and speaking with customers, but you’d be missing a wealth of more informal brand or product mentions.

Plus, you need to be there to respond! In a recent survey, Sprout Social found that 89% of social messages go ignored. That’s a problem—and an even bigger missed opportunity.

People use social media to discuss the topics they care about within the communities they choose. That’s where you need to listen to truly discover how people regard your business, the issues they’re having, and the things they love.

2. To find leads & build relationships

Are people searching for your products and services? You’ve seen those calls on Facebook for recommendations, or the plaintive cries for help on Twitter: “I want pizza!” When you monitor your brand’s keywords or phrases, you can jump in and answer these requests (Just mention your current Monday 2 for 1 pizza deal!). NOT selling anything can be really effective too. Be a part of the conversations that are happening online about your industry.

3. To stay on top of trends

When you’re closely monitoring discussions in your niche, you may be able to catch new and evolving trends as they emerge. For example, when Instagram launched its “Stories” product, Snapchat growth took a major hit (growth slowed by 82%). In response to news like this, you may decide to alter your marketing strategy to be one of the first to dive into a new social channel or try a new tactic.

snapchat statistics

Image source: Techcrunch

Why is this important? In an oversaturated market, doing the same thing as everyone else can get you lost in the crowd. Finding ways to stand out will help you get noticed and stay relevant in your industry.

4. To perform competitor research

Has your competition launched a product similar to what you offer, but at a lower price or with a few more bells and whistles? Did they just launch a marketing strategy that your customers are loving? Did they just screw up royally using a tactic you’ve been considering? Keeping your finger on the social pulse will alert you about these types of scenarios and unforeseen issues that may have huge repercussions for your business.

5. To protect your brand

Building your brand’s reputation takes a lot of time and effort, but it can all be lost in seconds.Monitoring your social channels allows you to identify any issues customers have and jump on solutions before they blow up.

Stuff happens. It’s inevitable.

It’s how you respond and how quickly you respond that matters. In fact, we’ve found that if a business resolves its issue quickly and efficiently, 95% of unhappy customers return to you.

Listening, identifying the issue and showing your customers you care and are taking steps to resolve the issue is what can turn them from a brand killer into a champion for your business.


What to Do With Your Social Media Monitoring Insights

So once you’re set up with the tools you need for monitoring, tracking, measuring and analysis, what do you do with the information? This is the key moment where you determine how to act on the knowledge you’ve received.

Shift Social Strategy

Is your strategy working? Are you truly getting traction on your primary social channels? You may discover that it’s time to re-evaluate the resources and effort you put into certain channels.

For example, maybe you discover that your people are super engaged in Quora. Devoting more time and resources there would be worth pursuing, even if it’s at the expense of another social channel.

Results from monitoring your competitors on social media could also yield some interesting insights as well. You may find that a new video tactic has people in your area or industry buzzing about a close competitor. Why let them go unchallenged?

Work on Developing Relationships With Leads & Influencers

If you can jump into conversations and authentically solve problems for people, do it! This tactic can be especially relevant when it comes to people’s frustrations with your competitor’s products or services. When you do this, it’s essential that you come from a really genuine place and offer tips or advice geared around helping people. People don’t want to be spammed, and sensitive topics like plastic surgery should be off-limits.

However, in many industries you should feel free to have real conversations with people around the topics they care about (which also happen to be topics YOU care about as a business owner!).

Spotting and reaching out to influencers in your industry as outlined in this post (Salesforce) can have an amazing amplification effect for your brand as well. People look to influencers to help them make purchasing decisions all the time, and if you can develop strong relationships with key influencers you can expect better results for much less work.

salesforce built relationships

Image Source: Salesforce

Develop New Products/Services

Listening to the needs of your target audience is a smart way to refine your solutions and develop new ones. If enough people are saying they hate a product, or wish they could tweak it, it’s probably worth looking into what the issue is and try to determine what could make that product better.

For example, Natalia Chrzanowska of (Brand24) notes that GoPro did exactly that when they introduced their new camera – GoPro Hero4.

“We analysed the social media discussions regarding both releases – Hero3+ and Hero4. The insights gathered during the Hero3+ premiere included lots of suggestions for features that could improve customer experience, which then appeared later on in the succeeding model – GoPro Hero4.”

On the flip side, if your customers LOVE one of your products, there may be an opportunity to develop similar or complementary products or services.

You can then turn around and apply all this awesome feedback as testimonials for new campaigns. Think ad campaigns, email campaigns, social campaigns and beyond!

Update Customer Service Policy/Process

Social media has led to a major shift in how customer service is carried out by many companies. People want instant answers, and are less likely to put up with call centers. Many won’t even pick up the phone when they have a problem; They’ll just tweet about it! According to a new report from Conversocial, 54% of customers prefer customer service via social media and SMS. The upcoming generation of millennials will only amplify this trend.

People are sticking to their favorite social media platforms to air out their complaints, and you need to know if this is happening in your industry (and be ready for it).

In Jay Baer’s book Hug Your Haters, author and consultant Dave Kerpen notes that:

“If a customer calls you on the phone to complain, surely you wouldn’t hang up on them. And not responding in social media is akin to hanging up on them, only worse, because there are actually other people watching and listening.”

Letting complains hang out there unanswered is not acceptable to current and potential customers, and it shouldn’t be to you!


4 Easy Wins

I’ve thrown a lot of information you’re way. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and put off testing these strategies for yourself. To help you get started, here are a few easy action items for you to try out.

  1. Jot down 3 of your top goals that you’re hoping monitoring your social channels will help you with. (example: Find out if people are liking the new mocha flavor we just released).
  2. Contact us to get set up with the social media monitoring tools you need. Poke around and see what value you can get out of the tools.
  3. Enter a few of your brand’s keywords and see what data the tools come up with.
  4. Look through the initial results. Make a list of 3 things you learned and whether you should discuss with your team.

Final Thoughts

Most businesses are aware that they should monitor social media for mentions related to their brand, products, services, competitors and industry. You might actually be doing so already. But do you have a plan in place to analyze, respond and integrate results into your business’s ongoing strategy?

If you don’t, you might be missing some golden opportunities…or you could get a martini in your face!

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