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amp mobile pages logo

AMP Has a Large List of Pros and Cons

What is AMP?

AMP amplifies the mobile user experience (UX) by bringing your content to your users instantly on mobile devices by shrinking and caching your website. This speeds up the loading process for sites, ads and emails to less than 1 second. This instant gratification means the overall user experience is improved with less drain on battery life and data usage. If AMP is the right choice for your site, it can help reduce bounce rates and encourage users to complete a transaction.

Originally known as Accelerated Mobile Pages, the AMP Project backed by Google is now called by its acronym, AMP. It’s a hotly debated topic, with many points of contention. We’ll cover some of the main pros and cons in this article, beginning with the good stuff and why AMP was created in the first place.

AMP – The Good

Mobile Web Browsing Continues to Rise

In 2017, a report by Forrester Consulting showed that users spend 2X more time on an AMP page and AMP brings a 10% increase in web traffic.

Consider the last time you shopped for information or a product online. Did you use your phone or your laptop / desktop PC? According to Urban Airship, studies show that mobile internet usage has surpassed desktop mobile usage all over the globe.

Even in developing countries like Indonesia and Mexico, customers expect an immediate answer and use their smartphone for web searches 4x as much as desktop PCs. The reasoning is simple. Customers have their smartphones with them day and night because they are now the ultimate portable information gathering device. AMP can help ensure your customers:

  1. Visit your site
  2. Stay on your site for reduced bounce rates
  3. Complete their transaction
  4. Come back!

AMP Formatting is Simple

Using AMP can be your chance to offer your users what they want right from their mobile searches.  It works because AMP does away with all the clunky desktop-style elements that are still included with mobile-optimized pages today. This slimmed-down version gets rid of all the fluff and layers.

Restrictions on JavaScript, images and on other dynamic video content is the secret sauce that creates immediate viewing with faster load times of about 1 second. 

AMP is Compatible With Major Web Browsers and Platforms

Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera, UC Browser and of course, Google Chrome. AMP also works with the biggest platforms, including:

  • LinkedIn
  • Medium
  • Reddit
  • Tumblr
  • Bing

There are 4 types of Google AMP formats to instantly share important news and visual narratives on mobile pages, including:

  • Ads
  • Emails
  • Stories and Blog Posts
  • Websites / Web Pages

Feature – Rich Content

Instead of the basic blue links you’d usually see in Google search results on a non-AMP page, you’ll see feature-rich content. One thing you might notice right away is the storytelling format. This content format is known as a carousel. Similar to image carousels seen in Facebook or Instagram ads, these AMP carousels serve to get your viewers clicking through the content, right onto your page. 

AMP – The Bad

AMP Isn’t a True Ranking Factor

AMP isn’t without its drawbacks. Even though site loading speed is a ranking factor for SEO,  AMP isn’t a true ranking factor.

Canonical AMP Pages Show as Standard Results

Another thing to keep in mind is that AMP pages only show as standard results on desktop so if your customers switch from mobile to a slower desktop connection, they won’t get the same AMP experience from your site.

AMP and Google Analytics are Complex Cousins

AMP and Google Analytics can be set up, but it’s not a simple process for the average website owner. Adding the proper tag can be difficult and time-consuming. If not done properly, you’ll easily miss out on important and relevant data. 

Signed Exchange is Limited

With Signed Exchange (SXG) the AMP page will be treated as if it belongs to your site. Without using signed exchange, your site will simply show under the new AMP page URL instead of your own URL. Signed exchange is also only supported in Google search for basic results and rich results, not carousels. It’s also only used with Chrome which makes it rather limiting.

AMP – The Nasty

AMP Hosts Everything Within Google’s Server

Because of this, you’re at the mercy of Google’s design. Your ads, stories etc. on AMP pages show the way Google chooses. This can mean your chosen design elements aren’t carried through. You’ll notice that your content is shown as somewhat boilerplate, following the basic AMP format. While AMP is more streamlined, it can really affect all your hard work in SEO and design, affecting how you want your customers to access and click through your site.

AMP Pages Look a Little Too Similar

Mobile news consumption is a big part of what mobile users want. Generally, it’s a good way to quickly see the top stories and snippets, with the option to swipe into the main website. However, because content looks so similar, it can also be easier for clickbait and fake news stories to appear alongside legitimate AMP results.

“All publishers end up looking more similar than different. That makes separating the real from the fake even harder,” says tech writer Kyle Chayka, who has written for the New Yorker, Harper’s and other highly reputable publications.

Domain Authority and Backlinks Go to Google

Because AMP hosts everything within Google’s server, any domain authority or backlinks go to Google and not your site. This is another strike against AMP framework for site owners and developers who work hard to create and maintain a stellar domain authority and SEO score. It also indicates that there’s a large loss of control over your own website if you exclusively use AMP and don’t have an active non-AMP version of your site.

AMP Tends to Fight With IOS

Users have said the scrolling patterns and behaviour on IOS feel unnatural and make it impossible to tap the status bar to instantly scroll to the top of the page and to be able to search for a term within the page. Many users have reported that AMP pages don’t render properly on their mobile devices and that content shows up as tiny columns of unreadable text. 

AMP Could Affect Ad Revenue

In an article by Digiday, a Google spokesperson didn’t deny that the number one goal of AMP is to improve user experience by loading content first and ads second. The problem with loading ads second is that ads have multiple tracking tags and higher-res images that take longer to load anyways. If the user has gone ahead and clicked on the main content, they haven’t even seen the ad. Also, the quicker the content loads, the more the ad loading speed will lag. Google has made steps towards a fix for this common issue, but some publishers may still experience slower ad loading times. 

The main thing to note here is that AMP is a very mixed bag.  These are only a few of the main sticking points, but by now you probably know whether it’s right for your site. 

If your visitors are mostly desktop users, hang tight, keep doing what you’re doing. We’d be glad to discuss how we can boost your traffic, SEO ratings and your website as a whole, for both desktop AND mobile users. If you’re unsure how fast your mobile site is loading, you can use this site speed test. 

If you have a lot of mobile users, like the idea of having an instant news feed (similar to Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News) and like the idea of a diet, bite-sized version of your website, we’re happy to help with that too. Together we can discuss your options for different types of AMP pages, eye-catching carousels, platforms, analytics gathering techniques and more as AMP technology continues to evolve.

Questions about AMP and building your website? At IdeaZone, we’re your secret weapon for getting the most out of your online presence. For more information and to get in touch with our team of Victoria, BC digital marketing experts, contact us via web form or toll free at 1-844-651-9333.

how to optimize your gmb page

How to Use the Free Google My Business to Get Leads

Google My Business (GMB) is a powerful universal platform adapted from Google Places for Business and the Google+ Pages dashboard. For business owners, an optimized GMB listing is an extremely effective way to get targeted traffic, show off reviews, promote featured content and direct your potential customers to call or message you immediately using direct links. It works in conjunction with a quick Google search for your product or service, plus your website to easily build a solid online presence. Also… it’s free. Really!

Beyond the basics like business address, hours of operation, and business category, Google My Business has been developed with a whole host of helpful features for your business profile.

  • Google Maps can be used for any third-party platform to answer requests for directions
  • Can show a 360˚ virtual tour
  • Can manage and respond to client reviews
  • Use a Q&A Section
  • Can include a Booking section / booking button
  • Can show Menu items for restaurants
  • Has a section for Services
  • Can send messages to and from clients using the chat feature
  • Can publish information about new products, services, events and offers to Google Search and Google Maps via your business profile
  • Can feature photos, product images and video
  • Can schedule weeks of posts and updates using a social media scheduler like Pulbr or Hootsuite.
  • Can discover how customers search for and interact with your business using GMB analytics

 How to Optimize Your Google My Business PageGMB page - info section

Once you have claimed your business and verified the basic information Google My Business will walk you through how to set up your business profile. All GMB really needs are the basics; physical location if applicable, contact information, business hours, link to your website and the business category will all ensure that your customers know where you are, how to contact you and how to learn more even before you create a single post. As business owners ourselves, we know that you’re extremely busy. If you’d prefer to have IdeaZone create your business profile and handle your weekly posts, we can absolutely do that. This will allow you to get the best possible results out of the Google My Business platform.

Use Highly Relevant Keywords

Just like on your website and social profiles, you’re going to want to use appropriate keywords and other SEO strategies to attract relevant traffic. As more Googlers use voice search and long-tail keywords, it’s important to include a variety of keywords not only recognized by Google, but by your clients as well. 

For instance, if you’re an auto repair shop, the following terms rank the highest with the least amount of competition:

Auto repair shops, auto body shop (note the spacing here) and auto repair shops near me are all great terms you could use here. Use these keywords in your business description and in your posts to optimize your Google My Business profile. Your automatic presence on Google Maps helps too since Google will automatically detect where your potential customer is located and share local results first.

Complete Every Section of Your Google My Business Profile

As much as you can, fill in all the blanks so no question is left unanswered. Carefully select the most relevant primary and secondary categories for your business type. You’ll also want to write a complete business description. If you’re unsure of the categories, do a search for your main category and look at what your competitors have listed as their categories. 

For your business description, include all the vital information – who you are and what your business does. You’re allotted up to 750 characters in the newly updated description section, making it easier than ever to share key information about your business. 

Keep in mind that only the first 250 characters will be displayed in the knowledge panel. Customers will need to click to see the full description on desktop and mobile devices. Google My Business description guidelines will help you learn how to create the best story for your business.

Publish Google Posts Weekly

Keep your profile active and relevant with up-to-date posts featuring snippets from your site or blog, Q&A’s, customer testimonials, new product information, exciting industry news, or whatever works best for your industry. Keeping content up to date will help maintain search rankings. Of course, don’t just use any old piece of content. Use your most awesome content to really drive organic search results. A popular way to keep your GMB page updated with content is to break down your blog posts into bite-sized chunks and upload it to your GMB page.

Collect and Answer Questions

Google My Business allows users (or owners) to post and answer questions about your business. In fact, anyone who comes across your business can post a question. And anyone else can answer that question – whether their answer is factual or not. This being the case, you should monitor your GMB page for questions that people ask and ensure that you, as the owner, are providing the correct answers to people’s questions. 

Even better, you could gather a list of common questions and then ask and answer them yourself, thereby further optimizing your GMB page and providing users with an FAQ about your company that they can access directly from Google search.

Collect and Respond to Online Reviews

In the same vein, encourage your customers to leave business reviews. Even bad reviews are okay, in (very) small numbers. A positive review can do wonders, but glowing review after glowing review can leave customers feeling suspicious, wondering if the reviews are accurate. By taking the opportunity to thank customers for positive reviews and taking the time to kindly respond to negative reviews, customers will again see that your business is responsive and attentive. 

Of course, you should always offer to correct the issue causing the negative review in the first place. For best results, respond sincerely and offer to take the conversation offline to turn an unhappy customer back into a happy customer. 

And if you feel that someone has left a review that is fake, spammy or offensive, you can try to get the review removed with the new Google My Business Review Removal Tool.

Add High-Quality Images and Photos 

According to Google, business listings with photos get up to 42% more requests for driving directions and 35% more click-throughs to their websites compared to those without photos.

Photos aside, a logo is THE most important image for your Google My Business listing. Logos add impact, credibility and recognition for customers. Think of all the times you’ve known what a McDonalds logo is without even having to think about it. With a great logo, your customers will instantly recognize who you are and what your business is. For best results in GMB, your logo should be in a square format.

Provide Interior and Exterior Photos

Any photos of the inside of your business will help prospective customers familiarize themselves with what to expect before they set foot in your store. Many customers really appreciate knowing the layout and appearance of the business in advance, particularly if they have any mobility limitations. Images of the parking lot, storefront, etc.… are also helpful for your customers. 

Provide Product Photos

Most small and medium-sized businesses and businesses under specific verticals can include product photos, pricing and other detailed information through GMB’s Product Editor. A note: Product images will show up in image search for another pathway to your business profile. 

Important Information About Optimizing Photos

  • Use JPG or PNG format
  • Keep photos between 10KB and 5MB 
  • Use images with a minimum resolution of 720×720 pixels
  • Use in focus and clear images with good lighting, free of excessive filters. Photos should always be as realistic as possible.

Post Videos Often

Even more than photos, videos add a uniquely human and approachable feel to an online profile. Used in addition to a blog post, they provide a multimedia option for customers. For instance, a salesman at an auto dealership could post a video of their deal of the day, while an IT company could share a video of techs hard at work in the office. The virtual tour tool is another excellent way to utilize video on your Google My Business profile.

Important Information About Optimizing Videos

  • Up to 30 seconds long
  • Up to 75 MB file size
  • 720p minimum resolution

You can optimize your Google My Business Profile in so many ways. By far, the best way is to create a complete listing and keep content updated and relevant at all times. Just like on page optimization for your site, there are a lot of moving parts and many areas that need regular maintenance and updating. Want to make Google My Business work for you? Contact our team of expert digital marketers and branding experts today. We’ll ensure your GMB profile, website and overall online presence is strong and synchronized for the best possible results. 

Located in beautiful Victoria, BC, IdeaZone helps businesses the world over to create effective marketing strategies and high-ranking websites. Call or send us an email to learn more about how to boost your business using digital marketing.

Google My Business review removal tool

Remove Fake / Spammy / Incorrect / Offensive Reviews from Google with the New GMB Review Removal Tool

Looking to remove a review from Google? Google My Business reviews can help or hinder your business’ reputation. When they’re good, they’re very good, but when they’re bad, your reputation on Google My Business (GMB) can tank. In the online review space, customer feedback is essential for any company to thrive, but what if you have a review that wasn’t left by a customer? What if you have a Google review that a competitor left on your page? Or someone from a foreign country who has never been a customer?

There are plenty of legitimate bad reviews out there, but there are also spammy or fake reviews meant to hurt your brand reputation, your ratings and your local rankings. Unfortunately, these negative fake reviews were not only harming your business, but they were also difficult to get Google to remove the review. 

Thankfully, Google is getting more intelligent every day and learning how to block these spammers. It knows that just like some online pirates create lousy backlinks on purpose, they also leave fake reviews as one of their strategies. But now there’s a tool to help you remove Google reviews that you believe violate Google’s review policies – the Google My Business Review Removal Tool which was released in March 2021. The name of the tool is a mouthful, but wow is it handy!

What is the Google My Business Review Removal Tool?

The GMB Review Removal Tool can be used to flag, track and yes, remove negative Google reviews that violate their policies. You can flag a review directly inside the tool.

When negative reviews violate Google policies and there is evidence of abusive contributions (reviews, photos, videos and general activity) you can flag reviews and request removal. 

Negative Google reviews should not be flagged if there is a difference of opinion between the customer and the business i.e. you can’t just start flagging every negative review because you don’t agree with a customer’s opinion about your business. Even though there is now a Google review removal tool, it still means that the review has to violate one of Google’s policies before they will remove it.

The process for removing a review using this new removal tool is to simply visit the following link while you’re logged into the email address that’s associated with your Google My Business account (i.e. the one you use to log into your GMB page backend at business.google.com).  If you’re an agency and you visit that link, this is what you’ll see:

Google Review Removal Tool not available to agenciesEssentially, Google is saying that the review removal tool is only available to business owners and not to agencies. If you’re the owner of the account or an admin whose email address is not connected with other GMB pages, you’ll see a list of the reviews that Google is allowing you to dispute. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, not all your reviews will show up here. And sometimes, the very review that you’re trying to remove will not be available in the list and therefore you can’t use the tool to remove it.

If that’s the case, you can always try to get the review removed the old-fashioned way….

Flagging Google Reviews Prior to the Removal Tool

Before the removal tool came around, business owners had to go and manually find and flag reviews that they believed to be in violation of Google’s review policies.  The problem was that the removal success rate wasn’t very high and very few business owners even knew that they could flag reviews in the first place.

Here’s a walkthrough of that process.

GMB review management varies slightly between Android and IOS phones, tablets and computers, but the process is very much the same. The main difference is the use of apps on mobile devices, rather than on an internet browser.

Steps to Flag a Google Review – OLD WAY

On a Computer from Inside your GMB Page Dashboard

  1.     Sign into Google My Business
  2.     Click on Reviews in the left hand menu
  3.     Choose the review you’re concerned about
  4.     Click the 3 dots at the top right of the review and then flag it as Inappropriate

In Google Maps

  1.     Open Google Maps
  2.     Find your Business Profile
  3.     Find the review to be flagged
  4.     Click the 3 dots and then flag it as Inappropriate

In Google Search

  1.     In Google, find your Business Profile
  2.     Click Reviews and find the review to be tagged
  3.     Select the star rating
  4.     Click the Flag and select Inappropriate and the type of violation

 

According to findings by SEO guru Neil Patel, a few negative reviews can actually help. The reason is fairly simple. Consumers who only see 5 stars and glowing reviews will become suspicious.

In fact, a 2017 study by Power Reviews found that “85% of consumers look for negative reviews in order to make informed purchase decisions.” Among younger, savvy consumers aged 18-29, this number increases to 91%. 

Tips for Responding to Negative Online Reviews

Any reviews that don’t violate Google’s review policies cannot be removed. However, to help preserve your online reputation, we have a few tips for turning those negative reviews into a positive customer experience.

  • Be Specific – recap what the complaint is about to assure the user that you understand. 
  • Acknowledge their Experience – did they have a bad meal? Did they have to wait in line too long or not find what they were looking for? Acknowledge their feelings and apologize sincerely in a short message. 
  • Don’t Get Defensive – we’ve all seen that business owner who bared their teeth on a forum or on an online review. It can get ugly and you don’t want to be the one everyone’s talking about. For best results, keep the response short and sweet. 
  • Fix It – even if you’re fairly certain that the customer’s leaky bathroom pipe has nothing to do with the work you did in the kitchen, be careful not to get in an argument. Instead, offer to fix it in whatever way you can.
  • Follow Through – move the conversation offline by offering contact information. Existing and potential customers will see that you are willing to go above and beyond to mend fences and provide excellent customer service. The complainant should be pleased too. Gather their email address and phone number if possible, so you can be sure the issue is resolved. 

 

Google My Business is an excellent way for local businesses to drive traffic and sales. But one negative review from someone can change everything. If you’ve got a negative review on your GMB page that you know is fake, try the new Google Review Removal Tool and see if you can’t get it removed from Google. 

If you’re looking for a complete digital marketing strategy that incorporates Google My Busines page and review acquisition strategies, contact the IdeaZone team today.

local services ads canada feature image

What are Google Local Service Ads (LSAs) and How do they Work?

As industry pros here at IdeaZone, we know that beyond all the apps, marketing tools and jargon is a business that just wants to reach its customers. Google Local Services Ads (LSAs) have been generating a lot of positive buzz because they do just that.

Meant to add another layer to your marketing roster, Local Services Ads allow the consumer to book or contact your company directly through the LSA company homepage (see below). Your LSA will show your business as a local option for customers searching for the exact services you offer.­

example of LSA local company landing page

 

Imagine showing up at the top of your customer’s search results. Not because of an elaborate keyword selection, but because you’re a trusted company located close to home. This is the premise behind LSAs.

How Do Google LSA’s Work?

First, you need to apply to Google to be eligible for Google Local Search Ads (and the vetting process is fairly in-depth…more on that later).

Because these ads aren’t dependent on keywords, it makes ad setup super simple as it’s just based on categories. For your ad to show up, all your potential customer needs to do is google your service while being in proximity of your business (or service area).

Your LSA is selected by business category. If your business is near the customer, your ad will be eligible to show in the search results. Rankings (ie. what position in the list your business appears) are based on company response time, reviews and the Google badge for Google Guaranteed and Google Screened listings (more on this later).

A search for “electrician victoria bc” immediately pulls up a carousel of “Google Guaranteed” electrical companies in Victoria BC who have been vetted for the Local Services Ads program.

 

google local services ads for electrician in victoria bc

 

These are shown at the top of Google search results as well as in audio search results from devices like Google Home or Google Assistant.

Searchers can instantly see (or hear!) the web address, contact number, tagline, and a short writeup on services offered. In five seconds, they could be on the phone, booking an appointment with your company. Just like that, your lead has come to you.

Google “Screened” and “Google Guaranteed”

There are two categories for consumer protection— called “Google Screened” and “Google Guaranteed.” Both require a thorough screening including a civic and criminal background check and license/insurance verification. Employee background checks are also conducted, free of cost.

Google Guaranteed

With so many rumours about businesses buying or otherwise manipulating their way to positive reviews, it can be easy for a customer to have trust issues. This is why Google offers a “Google Guaranteed” business option. If a customer is unhappy with the services provided, Google will start a claim, contact the business and work with them to find a resolution. Essentially, it’s a money-back guarantee.

If a customer is unsatisfied with a company’s services (who they found by clicking on an LSA), Google can refund the amount paid as shown on the invoice. It covers up to $2,000 once the claim between the business and customer has been thoroughly investigated. With Google Guaranteed, consumers are much more likely to proceed with the work since they know that Google has vetted the business and are guaranteeing the results.

Customers can easily see whether a business is “Google Guaranteed” with a green checkmark badge. This shows under the business name or is verbally confirmed via audio searches on Google Home or Google Assistant (the Google Guaranteed designation is required for Google Assistant).

google guaranteed local services ads

This service is currently available for limited types of businesses. In Canada, these include the following:

  • Appliance repair services
  • Carpet cleaning services
  • Cleaning services
  • Electricians
  • Garage door services
  • HVAC (heating or air conditioning)
  • Junk removal services
  • Lawn care services
  • Locksmiths
  • Movers
  • Pest control services
  • Plumbers
  • Roofers
  • Tree services
  • Water damage services
  • Window cleaning services
  • Window repair services


Google Screened

Google Screened is currently only available to certain verticals in the U.S.

Businesses that are Google Screened must also pass Google’s extensive background checks. This means they’ll still appear at the top of the search results page based on business category, reputation and location. Combined with the green check mark by the company name, this builds trust among businesses and customers.

The main difference is the there is no money-back guarantee for customers and there is no monthly fee ($50) for the business. Google Screened is currently available for professionals in the fields of law, finance and real estate in San Diego, CA and Houston, TX. Like “Google Guaranteed,” it’s likely to be offered in more verticals and areas as the program grows.

How Much Do Google LSAs Cost?

Sounds great, but how much does it cost? You only pay per lead if a customer contacts you directly through the ad or if the call lasts two minutes or longer. Lead costs vary depending on the location and business type. Here are some examples of the cost per lead for some common services here in Victoria, BC.

  • HVAC ($24/lead)
  • Locksmith, plumber ($28/lead)
  • Garage door, electrician ($18/lead)
  • Housecleaner, carpet cleaning ($26/lead)
  • Pest control, tree services, junk removal, window cleaning ($13/lead)
  • Appliance repair, lawn care, moving services, roofing ($22/lead)
  • Window repair, water damage restoration, carpenter, countertops, fencing, flooring, foundations, landscaper, siding. ($22/lead)

When you set up your own Google LSA, you’ll know exactly how much your leads run at, depending on your industry and location.

What are the top 5 Benefits of Google Local Service Ads?

To the point, here are the top 5 (of many) reasons to get yourself a Google LSA account today:

  1. Cost-effective – You’re only charged for leads when the customer contacts you and a job is booked or the call lasts 2 minutes or longer.
  1. Calls route through a Google forwarding number – When you receive a call from your ad, you’ll hear “Call from Google.” This way you know how well your ad is working. Google also notifies customers that the call will be recorded for quality and research purposes.
  1. LSAs build trust – They will only show if the business has been vetted by Google. This means it has positive reviews and feedback from real customers. It also means that it’s passed a stringent background check for the owner and all employees.
  1. Easy on the budget – For local businesses who may not have the budget for Google Ads, this makes it easy to stay well within your marketing budget. Incidentally, we have an awesome post for 33 FREE marketing apps and tools.
  1. You get to enjoy high-quality leads – Tired of tire kickers? Well, these are people who specifically search for your services are ready to book their appointment. They’ll be glad that your ad takes the guesswork out of deciding who to hire.

How to Get Started Using Google Local Service Ads

Ready to get started? It’s simple to DIY, but you can also have an expert Google rep help you out. LSA’s are designed to be as user-friendly as possible – from the initial application to fine-tuning your selections via dashboard or mobile app.

To see if your business is eligible, enter your location information into the signup page here. If your business type qualifies, you’ll be directed to fill in your profile. This includes basic information like business name, year founded, total number of workers and more.

As you fill in your profile, you’ll be directed to the following pages:

  • Business details
  • Service area
  • Service types
  • Work hours
  • Preview the ad

When it’s done, your ad will feature the most important highlights. This includes reviews from real customers, the number of reviews, whether you’re Google Guaranteed or Google Screened (CA and TX only), any photos, business hours and more.

The complete list from Google:

Business name The name of your business.
Phone number A tracking number will be displayed. Calls to this number will be forwarded to your business phone number.
Location Your business city may be displayed. This is either the address of your business, or the city where you live or work. In some cases, we may show the cities you service instead.
Reviews Your reviews include reviews from Google My Business as well as reviews collected directly through Local Services Ads. Partner affiliate listings will include reviews provided to us by the partner platform.  All ads will show an average star rating.
Number of reviews The number of your reviews you’ve received may be displayed in parentheses next to your average star rating.
Business hours The hours that your business is open.
Google Guarantee or Google Screened The Google Guarantee badge or Google Screened badge  shows customers they can trust your business.
Photos Photos to show customers your business and your work. These will show in your profile when available.
Business bio Highlights about the important aspects of your business, such as whether you are locally owned or offer free estimates.

 

In the Google LSA dashboard or mobile app, you can also customize your LSA. Just a few of the options available:

  • When you want to run your ad (always on, only during business hours, custom hours)
  • Manage and respond to ads
  • View reports
  • Sort through leads
  • View and edit budget information
  • Update your business details

Google Local Services Ads present so many excellent options. We’re really looking forward to seeing the difference it makes with bringing customers to local businesses just like yours.

Do you have questions about LSAs, Google and Facebook Ads, SEO strategies, or do you need a new site made from scratch? Based out of Victoria, BC, Canada, we’ve been building sites, developing marketing plans and creating eye-catching graphics for over 20 years. Browse our case studies and portfolio then contact us or call us toll free at 1-844-651-9333. We look forward to designing the perfect digital marketing solution for your business.

6 Ways Facebook Ads and Google Ads Combine to Create Unbeatable Campaigns

 

Many advertisers have a hard time choosing between Facebook Ads and Google Ads. There’s really no reason to choose though since Facebook and Google each have over 2 billion users and are the two strongest ad platforms today.

Google and Facebook make up the largest percentage in digital advertising spend with a combined 59% as of 2019—miles ahead of Amazon and Microsoft/LinkedIn. Google is an obvious choice. Google Ads (previously Google Adwords) have been around much longer than Facebook Ads, and “googling it” is so common, it’s a household term. Though newer, Facebook Ads is just as powerful. People spend an average of 5 years and 4 months of their lives on social media, making Facebook a perfect avenue for marketing.

So, Facebook is highly effective at gathering new leads and appealing to existing customers, while Google targets customers who are already actively looking for a product. Together, they work to fulfill the wish list of every advertiser – to tap into the emotional lives of customers while also having their ads show up for buyer intent keywords.

Facebook Ads

  • Facebook Ads have the ability to target using a variety of methods including age, gender, language, device, geographic location, interests, likes and behaviour.
  • There are a huge variety of ad types including image, video, image carousel and video poll ads which are designed to drive user engagement—just to name a few.
  • You can choose from 11 target objectives for your ad campaign in three categories: Awareness, Interest and Conversions. Other than the regular ‘ol link clicks or landing page views, objectives can also include getting customers to install apps and engage with your videos.
  • Since this is distraction marketing (i.e. you’re distracting someone from what they were initially doing), ads need to stand out and make the user want to click.
  • You can choose the type of device, placement and platform (e.g. Stories on both mobile and desktop, right-hand column or newsfeed)
  • Since Facebook owns Instagram, you can kill two birds with one stone and advertise on both these platforms within one campaign – and you can tailor the ads to fit the platform.
  • Since late 2020, Facebook no longer limits the amount of text in a Facebook ad. They used to have a Facebook 20% rule which only allowed for 20% of an ad to be taken up by text but they finally abolished that rule.

Google Ads

  • The Google Ads marketplace works like an auction, making it possible for the smallest of companies with a quality ad and decent bid to win the #1 (or #2 or #3) spot in the search engine results pages (SERPs). It’s a budget friendly way to advertise effectively within Google.
  • You can set a fixed budget to get started. There is no minimum budget but if you don’t bid high enough for your keywords (against others also bidding in the same auction for those keywords), your ads won’t show up.
  • Google Ad campaign types include displays, search, shopping, apps and video which can cast a wide net for new and existing customers.
  • Similar to Facebook and Instagram, since Google owns YouTube, you’re able to advertise on that platform directly through the Google Ads interface.
  • The most common campaigns are the ones where Google only charges you for each time someone clicks on your ad (known as cost per click or CPC for short). This means that you only pay for people who actually clicked on your ad and not for those who just saw the ad (i.e. ad impressions) but didn’t click.
  • Every keyword gets its own Quality Score. The Quality Score is made up of things like keyword relevance, bids, Click Thru Rate (CTR) and the quality and relevance of your landing page.
  • Google requires quality ads that lead to quality landing pages which add value to a user’s search. In short, if Google determines the ad experience to be poor, they will either not show your ads or charge you more for showing them.
  • Google Ads allow you to easily track conversions by either setting conversions up directly within the platform, importing them from Google Analytics or creating conversions within Google Tag Manager.

How Google Ads and FB Ads Work Together

  1. Advertising on multiple platforms increases reach (The rule of 7)

The rule of 7 is perhaps the oldest marketing concept. It means that a potential customer needs to be shown your marketing message multiple times (typically 7) before they will buy. Using Facebook and Google together is a great way to achieve this, especially when customers use multiple devices across multiple platforms and your ads are presented in many different formats.

  1. Google Ads are logical while Facebook Ads appeal to customer’s emotions

Imagery and videos on social media can hit customers right in the feels. They see a product they didn’t know they loved and needed, discover your brand, click over to your website….. and the rest is history. Meanwhile, Google search ads present them with exactly what they are looking for at the exact time they are looking for it. As they enter certain keywords, your ads are triggered and users click your ad in Google and land on your website, where your wonderful website copy is waiting to convert them into customers.

  1. Remarket to Potential Customers via Retargeting

Both platforms offer the ability to retarget users. That is to say that once a user visits your site, you can retarget or remarket to them by showing ads specifically to that audience. This gives you the ability to speak directly to your audience, knowing that they’ve already been on your site. For retargeting campaigns to be most effective, make it known through your ad copy that you know that they have been on your site by making mention of it.

This could be as casual as “Come back and finish shopping with us” or something a little more witty such as “You left your cart sitting right in the middle of the aisle! Don’t worry, we’ve got security watching it for you until you come back.”

Consider this: Wordstream found that advertising on Facebook led to a 34% increase in brand searches on Google.

Capture their attention via Facebook and close the sale via Google.

  1. Both platforms can reach extended audiences (Lookalike and Similar)

Using Lookalike Audiences (Facebook) and Similar Audiences (Google), advertisers can tap into even more potential customers based on shared characteristics of existing customers. Combining this data on both platforms can easily multiply the amount of targeted customers you can reach.

Using lookalike audiences inside Facebook is an excellent strategy which allows you to use Facebook’s algorithm to go out and find the right customers for you. Start by building an ad around your target market’s demographics and interests.  Then build up an audience of people who have engaged with your ad or page. From there, you can create a much larger Lookalike Audience to find more people with similar interests to those who engaged with your ad/page.

  1. Measure and optimize your Facebook and Google Ads Campaigns by Tracking Conversions

A conversion is any action that you’re looking for users to take after they click on your ads. Typical conversions include newsletter signups, contact form fill outs, messenger conversations or a sale.  If you’re not tracking conversions, it makes it very difficult to track the efficacy of the campaign. If you have a “get an estimate” form on your site and you’re driving traffic with the goal being that you want leads, it doesn’t tell the whole story if you can only tell how many people clicked on your ad. What you really want to be tracking in this case is how many of the people that clicked on your ad actually filled out the ‘get an estimate’ form on your site.

To track conversions with Facebook, you’ll need to install the Facebook Pixel on your site. The FB Pixel is simply a piece of code that you add to your site that allows Facebook to tell when someone has visited a certain page, filled out a form, added something to their cart or purchased a product.

With Google, there are multiple ways to track these conversions – but they all also need some type of code to be added to your site. This can be done directly through Google Ads, or it can be done with Google Tag Manager or Google Analytics and imported into Google Ads.

  1. Boost your Google Ads campaigns with Data from Facebook Campaigns

Google is great for detailed demographic information as well, but it just doesn’t get as granular as Facebook. Layering this information into your Google Ads campaign can really stretch your budget and increase reach. To do this, you first need to create specialized URLs using something called UTM parameters, which are basically just a snippet of code that you append to the target URL used in your ads.  The easiest way to create these UTM links is by using a UTM builder (aka campaign URL builder). This UTM tool lets you append information about the campaign to the URL. The final URL might look something like the example below where everything after the question mark are the UTM parameters:

https://www.example.com/page?utm_content=buffercf3b2&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Once you have your new trackable URL and you start sending traffic there (it ends up being the URL you add to your FB ad campaigns), you’ll start to see this information show up in Google Analytics.

From there, you can build audiences using this data inside the Google Analytics’ Audience Builder.  To do this, go to Admin and then under the Property View, click on Audience Definitions and then Audiences to create your audience.

Google Analytics Audience Builder

And then import the audience into Google Ads to start using it. Keep in mind that you’ll need to have at least 1000 people in your audience before you can start to target them with Google Search Ads.

We are digital marketing experts with over two decades of experience. Not sure how to best narrow down your customer demographic? Wondering which ad platform and type would be the most effective for your product or service? We continually test and customize our clients’ ad campaigns for the best possible results. Contact IdeaZone today to get started getting more customers.

It’s official, Google is pulling the plug on Google + as of April 2, 2019—likely to avoid any April Fools’ confusion and explosion of memes poking fun at the failed platform.

Ill-fated from the start, the platform hasn’t been particularly popular among consumers and recent stats show a dismal 5 second on page rate for 90 percent of its users.

Adding to that, there have been two troubling security breaches. The first was in early 2018 where a software bug resulted in third party developers being able to access the private information of over 500,000 users. That bug was promptly patched, but the damage was done, with user engagement reaching an all-time low since the 2011 launch.

Originally, the consumer version of Google + was slated to be completely shut down by August 2019, but after the discovery of another bug affecting a whopping 5.2 million users in late 2018, it will now be shuttered a full four months ahead of the original schedule.

Although there’s no evidence that the exposed data from either incident was used (basic information like name, email address, occupation, DOB, etc…) this second breach was the final nail in the coffin of Google’s fourth attempt at consumer level social networking.

According to a mass notification from Google, “no other Google products (such as Gmail, Google Photos, Google Drive, YouTube) will be shut down as part of the consumer Google+ shutdown, and the Google Account you use to sign in to these services will remain.”

Google will remove content from Google + accounts, including photos, videos, pages and Circles/Community information as the service is dismantled and is reminding all users to allow plenty of time to download content.

You might have an account and not even know it. During a big push to link Google owned apps to Google +, users were required to sign up for an account to do things like post on YouTube. Also, if you’ve received the email from Google notifying you of the closure, you definitely have an account.

To find out for sure:

  1. Log in to Gmail or any other Google account and click the button at the top right with your first initial.
  2. If there’s a Google+ link in the dropdown, you have an account

NOTE: If you have a Google+ account, back up your information before deleting your profile.  Photos and videos can be safely backed up on Google Photos or Google Drive if they aren’t already. More info here: https://support.google.com/plus/answer/1045788#photos

To delete your profile:

  1. Click the link
  2. Select Settings
  3. Scroll down until you see Delete Your Google + Profile and click Delete

Any problems, visit https://support.google.com/plus/answer/9217723 for complete details.

You’re done!

If you’re a business owner rest assured that the closure of Google + won’t affect your Local SEO, since Google + and Google My Business (the old Google Places / Google+ Local) have hardly coincided in recent years. However, you’ll want to take care to clean up the evidence of your now defunct account, lest you look like you’re behind on technology. To do this, remove the following:

– Google + links from your site

– Google + from any online or print marketing items

– Links from your email signature

– Any G+ buttons from landing pages

Google + will be gone but according to Google, its ghost will live on in enterprise networking. This will include tightening security and revamping Google+ features to business-friendly features like dashboards for analytics and engagement metrics, and optional central controls for all employees within an organization. Only time will tell how this new version will do. Will you use it?