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.

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.

33 best free marketing tools

33 of the Best [Free] Online Marketing Tools

When you’re just getting started on your brand-new business or want to get your existing company thriving in the online marketplace, our digital marketing experts at IdeaZone can help. To give you some ideas, we’ve put together a list of some of the best marketing tools out there. And the best part is that they’re all FREE, making them ideal for the budget-conscious business owner.

Read on to discover how you can elevate your business using today’s top marketing tools, apps, extensions and software, absolutely free!

Google’s Suite of Awesome Free Marketing Tools

If you own a website, the first thing you need to do before using any other digital marketing tools is to make sure that you have both Google Analytics and Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) installed on your site. To do so simply requires a piece of code to be placed on your website.

Google’s Free Website Tools

  1. Google Analytics 4

At the end of 2020, Google released a new version of their popular website analytics tool, Google Analytics, called Google Analytics 4 or GA4 for short. Google Analytics 4 is a powerhouse when it comes to tracking, measuring and converting. If there’s something you want to know about your website visitors, you’ll find it in Google Analytics 4. From which pages are most visited to your #1 landing page to how many people fill out your contact form, all of this information and more is available in GA 4.

Explore reports that are designed to show you exactly where your website is succeeding and where it’s falling short.

For the non-techie user, you can enter a specific search term to find out exactly what you want to know rather than having to know how to access the feature from the navigation. For instance, search for “Popular Pages Today” in the search field at the top of the page and you’ll receive any information available on which pages were most visited today, as well as any available reports. The new Google Analytics 4 has a giant list of reports available, ranging from real time traffic sources to user demographics and behaviour, including age, location, interests and more.

  1. Google Search Console

Until mid-2015, this suite of tools was called Google Webmaster Tools. Now called Google Search Console, or GSC for short, this is the second free Google tool you’ll want to have in your arsenal. This free service helps webmasters maintain, monitor and troubleshoot their site’s presence in Google’s search results pages.

In GSC, you can see user’s search terms as well as the pages users are visiting most. Arguably more important, however, is the ability to measure the health of your website. It’s inside GSC that Google will leave messages for webmasters if their sites violate any of Google’s “rules”. This includes whether you have any manual actions against your site or if there are any security issues. You can also get information about internal and external links, indexing issues, see whether Google can crawl your site or not, receive alerts and so much more.

Google’s Free Brand Mention Tool

  1. Google Alerts

A free service that’s been around for ages, Google Alerts sends daily, weekly or monthly alerts to your inbox. The alerts let you know when your company, site name or keyword are being mentioned on the Net.  Essentially, it alerts you on any given keyword, letting you know what people are saying about you and your products online or what your competition is up to.

Designed around using specific terms and phrases, Google Alerts lets you keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening. It’s simple to use, just type in your keywords or phrase using quotation marks and choose your delivery preferences. You can choose between timed delivery or a digest of all alerts sent at once, either once a day or once a week.

Using Google for Keyword Research

  1. Google’s Predictive Search

Google’s Predictive Search basically finishes your sentences as you type them into Google. Using an algorithm, Google can “predict” what you’re about to type in the search box. Once the search query has started, you’ll see a dropdown menu of all the predictive search results Google thinks you’re looking for, based on what you’ve typed. Think of it like the predictive text on your phone, which automatically fills the blanks based on what you’re typing.

Google’s Predictive Search function is a good place to start if you’re trying to find a bunch of keywords around a given topic.

Don’t want to use this feature? You can turn it off in the Search Settings after you run a search. Just click the gear icon on the upper right-hand corner.

Pro Tip: You can use the predictive search at the beginning or the end of the word. To get words in front of the keyword you’ve entered, just place your curser at the front of the word after you’ve entered it and press the space bar.

google predictive searchtive search before search term









  1. Google’s People Also Ask Section

Using Google’s People Also Ask lets you get at the heart of what your customers are searching for. A

basic query branches out into additional question queries about the subject at hand. For example, let’s say you’re looking to write a blog post about digital marketing and so you start by searching that phrase in Google.

Some of the questions that come back inside the People Also Ask section include:keyword research with Google's people also ask

  • What is meant by digital marketing?
  • What are the types of digital marketing?
  • How can I do digital marketing?
  • What are the 5 Ds of digital marketing?

And once you click on any of the questions, they expand to show you an answer from one of the websites ranking for the term “digital marketing”.  Not only that, but your click will then populate even more question keywords.  The questions will tend to stay in the same topical sphere as the original keyword you searched, as long as you only click on relevant keyword questions as they pop up. So, if you search for “digital marketing” and you click a couple of questions (which then causes more question keyword phrases to pop up) and then see a question about content marketing, if you click on that, it will start populating more questions around the term “content marketing” instead. Take a look at this article from SEMrush on how to maximize opportunities with PAA.

  1. Google’s Related Searchesgoogle related searches

Google’s Related Searches are the results shown in blue font at the bottom of the page after you perform a search. These keyword phrases and queries provide you with an entire list of keyword ideas and topics that you can use to your advantage when planning and updating your content.

And if you click on any of the keyword phrases, it will open up a Google search result page for that particular term.

Use these keywords along with the above two methods to build out a complete set of keywo

rds to target for any particular topic.  You can further narrow this list down by copying and pasting them into the Google Keyword Planner (more on that below) so that you can see exactly how many people are searching for those particular keywords each month (because you don’t want to create content around topics that no one is searching for!).

  1. Google’s Keyword Planner 

Use Google Keyword Planner in conjunction with the tools listed about to develop a keyword database that contains terms that you may never have thought of. Google Keyword Planner is a powerhouse of a (free) keyword research tool that lets you discover brand new keywords and phrases and see current and future data (forecasts) for how they perform.

Here’s a complete guide on how to access and use Google’s Keyword Planner from

Note that Google limits the functionality of the tool (mostly by way of only showing ranges of keyword search volume rather than specifics) if you don’t have an active Google Ads account with a credit card on file.

Other Free Keyword Research Tools

  1. Answer the Public

Like an online mind-map, Answer the Public is a creative and highly visual way to discover new content and keyword ideas. Just enter in one or two keywords to the search bar on the landing page and get exploring. Data is arranged in questions, prepositions, comparisons, alphabeticals and related terms. Super simple, super-fast. You can narrow the results, choose to view a list of data or a visual representation and even click on keywords to search them in Google. You can even download a CSV file of the search results.Answer The Public - free visual keyword research tool

  1. Also Asked is a relatively new keyword research tool that is based on Google’s People Also Ask results. Using, you can enter search terms for the language and region of your choice. The answers are then organized into a chart that shows visual links between search topics and queries. This chart can be downloaded and saved as a CSV or PNG image. Because it’s a visual presentation of topics and topic groups rather than a spreadsheet, it helps spark creativity in clients and content creators.

Free Social Media Tools

  1. Later

A social media scheduler for Instagram and Pinterest, Later is marketed to be “Free Forever”, which is great news for budget-conscious marketers. With unlimited content uploads and ready-to-use content, Later is also really intuitive. It “knows” when your users are most likely to be online, helping you to create posts for that magic time of day when customers are most engaged. Using Link In Bio, you can even tag your images to lead users directly to product pages, articles, videos and more.

  1. Buffer

Buffer is a social media scheduler tool that offers a free Basic plan, which you can choose after your initial 14-day free trial. This free plan is ideal for any SMB (Small to Medium-sized Business) since it includes 1 user, 3 accounts, and 10 scheduled posts. Buffer covers a wide variety of options since it lets users plan content for multiple social media platforms on one dashboard.

Whether you prefer Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn, Buffer is a simple way to manage the creation, timing and publication of your posts. It also has an excellent resource page full of great tips, stories and news to inspire you.

  1. Facebook Page Insights

Facebook is constantly growing and changing, which keeps it on the short-list for social media marketing. See our post about Facebook updates for 2020. If you’ve got a Facebook Page, you can use Facebook Page Insights for free to view everything that’s happening with your users.

Whether you want to know how long the average user is watching your videos for, post reach, number of followers and everything in between, Facebook Page Insights is a one stop shop for getting down to the finer details of activity on your page for today, all the way up to the past 28 days. Helpful for spotting trends, getting a clear idea of your user demographics and increasing your overall reach, Facebook Page Insights lets you easily monitor the performance of your Facebook page.

  1. Facebook Pixel

If you’re running Facebook Ads, you’ll want to take advantage of the Facebook Pixel. It’s a piece of code that goes on your website. The FB pixel essentially collects all the important data you’ll need for tracking, optimizing, targeting and remarketing using cookies to track those who visit your website and Facebook page. For a full walkthrough of the Facebook Pixel, check out this article on Hootsuite.

Note: to start utilizing the power of the FB Pixel, you’ll first need to add some code to your site (or just your pixel ID depending on how you’re adding the code). If you’re using WordPress, try adding the code using the WordPress plugin called Pixel Your Site

Free Website Analysis Tools

  1. Ahrefs

Think of Ahrefs as a free health check for your website. It crawls your site every week, analyzing the effectiveness of your SEO. It also scores your website based on its performance as a whole. It will alert you to issues with loading speed or anything preventing your site from appearing in SERPs (search engine results pages). You’ll also be able to discover which pages are getting the most hits and who your top competitors are. After each weekly audit, you’ll receive an email with comprehensive information on what was found and how to fix any issues that cropped up.

Ahrefs is free for website owners, meaning that if you have access to a site in your Google Search Console, you’ll be able to add it to Ahrefs for free website tracking.

  1. GTmetrix

gtmetrix grade a speed test results

Another option for checking your site’s performance is with GTmetrix. A free site speed tool, GTmetrix digs deeper into the technical aspects of site speed and user-friendliness with regularly scheduled reports that monitors your site’s performance over time. Unsure how your Canada-based page is doing with your test market in South America? You can keep eyes on how your page performs around the globe using 6 free test locations. You can also test on different simulated devices to see how it functions with popular models of IOS and Android phones and tablets. You can also decide when and how you want to be alerted when your site slows. When it’s underperforming, you’ll receive a link to a complete report detailing when and why the page slowed. Visit GTmetrix and enter your URL to get started.

  1. Uptime Robot

Uptime Robot currently monitors more than 1,100,000 companies and individual site owners including huge names like IBM and NASA, so you know they’ve got to be good at what they do. As you may have guessed, Uptime Robot is a piece of software that scans your site to determine whether it’s live or not. Many website owners don’t realize that their sites may go offline and when it does, they are none the wiser.  With Uptime Robot however, it’s not an issue as you can set up alerts letting you know if / when your site goes down. They also offer up more advanced features like SSL monitoring, so your certificate never expires. Receive your notifications through 15 integrations including email, Slack, Google Chat or even an old-fashioned phone call. Make sure your site is always “up” with Uptime Robot and get 50 monitors and 5-minute checks for free.

Free Online Marketing Tools

  1. Hubspot’s CRM Tools

Hubspot offers a huge range of CRM and Marketing tools including contact management, email tracking and notifications, ad management, messenger integration and more. There are also plenty of free sales and service tools, like live chat, bots, ticketing and email scheduling.

Think of these free Hubspot tools as a “must-have” for anyone doing any type of lead generation as it allows you to schedule out emails, see who opened them, set reminders and even has free email templates.

All these features with free access in one place and up to 1 million contacts all make Hubspot an absolute must-try for growing your site. When you have questions, the Hub Spot community is there to help, with real users just like you from all around the world.

  1. UTM Builder

UTM actually stands for Urchin Tracking Module as Urchin was a company that Google bought out and so they just kept the acronym.  Many people today think it stands for “Universal Tracking Management”, which is actually much more representative about what the tool does.

A UTM Builder allows you to better track the performance of blog posts, link clicks, ad campaigns or anything that involves a link. It essentially allows you to add some additional information (parameters) to the end of whatever URL you’re monitoring traffic from – and have that information available to dissect inside Google Analytics.

When the user clicks on your campaign, the campaign parameters you chose are sent to Google Analytics.  You only need the first 3 but you can choose up to 5 parameters including campaign source, campaign medium, campaign name, campaign term and campaign content.

Free Email Marketing Tools

  1. MailChimp

MailChimp is one of the original free email marketing platforms. Free for up to 2,000 contacts, Mailchimp allows any small business owner to incorporate email marketing into their marketing mix. MailChimp’s tutorials will help you get started and learn the ins and outs of email marketing so that you can use it for sending confirmations, broadcasts, abandoned cart alerts or simply just touching base with your customers.

  1. Sender

Free for up to 2500 contacts, Sender is another great email marketing platform that earns high points among reviewers since it offers premium features no matter what your plan. Here’s a detailed comparison of MailChimp and Sender on Trust Radius. Sender has templates that can be customized easily using drag and drop editing, and you can choose between video, text and images. Another great feature is the ability to personalize your messages and newsletters for each customer or prospect.

Free Graphic Design Tools

  1. Canva

If you draw a blank when it comes to designing images for your marketing campaigns, Canva is a great resource. Using the free version, you get 5 GB of cloud storage, over 250,000(!) templates and thousands of free photos and graphics to use plus the ability to work with others in real time. Canva makes it easy to create cool, customized imagery for your social media campaigns, blog posts or email marketing campaigns.

  1. Pixabay

Looking for free images online? When you want stunning photos, illustrations, vectors, videos and even music tailored to your company’s message and clientele, Pixabay is an excellent resource. With well over a million images shared within this extremely talented community (you can share your photos and artwork too) it’s easy to find just what you’re looking for. Just enter your search terms then click the drop down to choose the type of media you’d like to see. You can also explore the blog, forum and artist bios, even the types of cameras used to take each shot if you’re interested in learning more about digital photography. Media is completely free, but you can always credit the artist or donate to the contributor via PayPal if you like.

  1. Aspect Ratio Calculator

Bookmark this tool for when you inevitably need to resize an image. Simpler than Photoshop, Aspect Ratio Calculator is a 100% free tool that will make sure your photos and videos are the right size for your site by keeping the aspect ratio at the right values.Just enter the original width and height and then enter one of the values in the next column. This is used, for example, when you want to reduce an image down to a specific size and want to keep the ratio intact. Say you’ve got an image that’s 4200 pixels by 1237pixels and you need to reduce it down to a width of 1200px. Enter the original width and height in the left hand column and then enter 1200 in the width in the second column and the proper ratio height will be displayed.

Free Project Management Tools

  1. Asana

Asana is used by over a million people worldwide as one of the most user-friendly online project management platforms. Ideal for working in teams, Asana makes it simple to delegate, organize, and scale up as your business grows. The basic plan is free and offers a whole host of features ideal for even larger teams, with 15-person collaboration, unlimited file storage, IOS and Android apps, and over 100 integrations with your preferred apps like Adobe Creative Cloud.

  1. Trello

A top competitor for Asana, Trello is free and simple, offering options for automation, 10 team boards, space for 10 MB files (no more rejected files) and unlimited personal boards and lists. Use lists, cards and boards to create visual organization. Trello is also compatible with Slack (the workplace chat app designed to replace overwrought inboxes) to bring both platforms together for complete workplace collaboration. Read more about Trello + Slack here. Also available for IOS and Android, Trello is ideal for companies of all sizes, from solopreneurs to corporations. Try Trello here.

8 Must Have Free Chrome Extensions for Marketers

  1. Last Pass

The “auto-pilot for all your passwords.” Guessing at your password, getting locked out, then going through the dance of having codes sent to your device, so you can go in and do a reset is a HUGE time waster and it’s frustrating. There are so many usernames, passwords, codes, PINS, membership numbers and more to remember these days, that we can’t possibly hope to keep them all in our own memory bank. That’s where Last Pass comes in. You create a master password for all your accounts, then Last pass stores your digital records, payment information, lets you send important information securely, and it even alerts you of any data breaches. Once your information is saved, it’s ready to go, all the time.

  1. Google Tag Assistant

Part of the long list of Google offerings, Tag Assistant monitors your tags like Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager and Google Ads, so you know they’re working as they should. Tag Assistant will analyze any tags on the page and create a complete report detailing any errors or areas for improvement. Just install on Chrome and get started tracking tags right away.

  1. Facebook Pixel Helper

Facebook Pixel Helper is a troubleshooting tool that gives you a hand with your FB Pixel account. It will alert you to any failures or errors in real time, so you know exactly what’s working and what isn’t. For best results with this extension, ensure you’re running the latest version of Chrome.

  1. SEO Minion

SEO Minion is a great extension that runs in the background while doing some heavy lifting. SEO Minion is like a hidden SEO assistant. It highlights all the internal and external links on a webpage, checks for and reports on any broken links, lets you preview your site on Google search results and of course, analyzes your on-page SEO, so you can fix any issues right away.

  1. Keyword Surfer

Keyword Surfer lets you enter your target phrase in Google and instantly see keyword suggestions, search volume, visibility metrics, on page data, related searches, CPC for your main keyword, even word count for top ranking pages.

  1. Text Blaze 

Text Blaze helps you work smarter, not harder, by speeding up your typing on Chrome. All you need to do is save a snippet of text, give it a shortcut and then use that shortcut where you want the snippet to go. For instance, a thank you note at the bottom of an email could be given the shortcut /ty for thank you. You can also share the snippets with your colleagues to keep your company messages consistent. Text Blaze also works anywhere on Chrome, including Gmail, Salesforce and more.

  1. Grammarly

Now used by 30 million+ people, Grammarly is an AI-powered writing assistant. The free version of Grammarly is basically a grammar / spelling checker that works much better than the one that comes with Microsoft Word. With their paid plans, it will review your writing and make suggestions, even providing templates for clearer writing with a tone that suits whoever you’re writing to, whether it’s on social media or via email. For instance, if you’re writing out a list, Grammarly might suggest a template with bullet points to make it easier to read. Click the suggestion box and your list will be automatically updated to the bulleted format. Their free plan gives you access to their most useful features: spelling, grammar and punctuation tools.

  1. ColorZilla

Chock-full of “colorful goodies”, ColorZilla is designed to let users analyze the colour palette of a website. Ever wondering exactly what colours make up the Google logo? You could simply bring up the google logo on your computer screen and then choose the eyedropper tool to pick the colour you want and the tool will give you the HEX # of the colour. You could also choose to analyze an entire website’s colours with the click of a button. With over 5 million downloads, ColorZilla can provide next level expertise in colour creation and selection.

Questions about how to start or grow your digital marketing efforts? At IdeaZone, our team of pros have been building sites, developing marketing plans and creating eye-catching graphics for companies around the globe for over 20 years. Contact our Victoria, BC office today to discuss the right 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:

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.