Be Relevant to Google

Be Relevant to Google – The Rest Will Take Care of Itself

In an age of digital connectivity users want results, and they want results fast. Within this framework Google is playing an epic game of King of the Mountain, and no one is poised to knock them off that mountain anytime soon. While Google has their hands in a lot of cookie jars, their predominant core functionality still revolves around their ability to take a user supplied query and return the most relevant results in the blink of an eye. We’re going to dissect it in more detail, but the keyword that needs to be circled, italicized, bolded, highlighted above is ‘relevant’.

Be Relevant to GoogleFor a hyper local business owner that is already the accountant, HR, customer service rep, salesman, etc – it is critical that they add Google buff to that list to make sure they position themselves to be relevant for the users that are searching for their products or services. Yes, there are other search engines, but Google still holds a 72% search engine market share – so when time is tight you can find the most benefit, and highest ROI, by focusing your efforts on making sure you represent your business with the right content and on the right mediums to become relevant. Trying to understand the terminology used when discussing the algorithm Google uses for its search engine can cause many to have nightmarish flash backs to vocabulary prep courses for the SAT. So were going to keep it simple and look at the three things that a hyper local business needs to master to become, and stay, relevant.

Content is King

Forget all the high tech terms, forget all the web mumbo jumbo and remember this simple three worded statement:  CONTENT IS KING. If you truly embrace this you will put yourself in a position to succeed in the web space where so many hyper local businesses fail. There are hundreds of solutions out there to help hyper local businesses become relevant on the web, but they will all fail if they aren’t supported with engaging, concise, and consistent content. The days of keyword stuffing and link building are dead, but organic SEO is still very much alive, and by creating a site that focuses on the core services and products of your business then the more likely you will be returned in results when users are looking for your type of business or service. Take the time to really think about your business and how people talk about your business and give all of that great content to the builders who are creating and maintaining your web presence. If you want to really go next level on content then take a look at keeping an active blog on the site that speaks to consumer issues and wants to only enhance yourself as an authority within your business’s vertical.

Get Social

If you have amazing content on your site about your business it is more important than ever to make sure that you get involved in Social Media. For most hyper local businesses it is quintessential that you have at least one account set up with the big players –  Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn, preferably an account for all of them. By having your own account on these sites it gives you the ability to share the content of your site to a community of users that might not have come across it otherwise. It is also necessary that on your site you create the ability for users to be able to share your content when they want to across all of the aforementioned sites. If you provide high quality and industry/user specific content then people will naturally want to share your site, and this helps promote overall organic activity around your brand. When Google sees this type of activity around a brand name they will associate your brand with being an authority in the space and your site is that much more likely to be served in the search results for users to digest.

Mobile First

Many of today’s consumers are on the go and aren’t necessarily looking for businesses while they’re at home at night, but rather when they’re on their phone out and about. It is no longer efficient to build a site intended for desktop use and then retroactively work towards creating a mobile presence. In an age where time is the most valued commodity, a great way to make sure you have a site that is mobile optimized and still serves its purpose in a desktop environment, while minimizing upkeep time, is to make sure that you’re site is built in a responsive design. A responsive design is Google’s recommended configuration for a site build as in the most basic sense it just means you have one URL that uses the same code and changes it look to the consumer based on the screen size of the device they are using. More importantly having a single responsive site makes it easier than ever for the Google bots to read and index your site content, and when Google can read your site correctly you position yourself to succeed.

This is by no means the Holy Grail to solving the enigma, wrapped inside a mystery, that is the algorithm used to support Google’s search engine; however, it does give you some very rock solid first steps to position yourself ahead of your competition in a readily changing environment by just staying relevant.

Lynn Hughes, Product Manager at PowerSites®Lynn Hughes is the Product Manager at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.
What does Panda 4.0 mean for your business?

Panda 4.0 and What Does It Mean For Your Local Business Website

What does Panda 4.0 mean for your business?When it comes to the web it is well known that users have the attention span of a 3 year old all jacked up on Mountain Dew, as we all want results and we want them now! No one is more aware of this than Google, and undoubtedly, one of the reasons Google remains at the top of the proverbial search totem pole is that they expend considerable thought resources on refining their search algorithms to ensure that they are delivering the most relevant results to a user’s search query. On May 20th, 2014 Google rolled out their latest algorithm update Panda 4.0, which immediately sent web gurus scrambling to analyze site analytics to try and decode what factors may or may not have been changed, and how it impacted their organic site rankings.

So I get it, I need to stop using fancy words, and tech mumbo jumbo, as the real question here is why do my hyper local clients care about Panda 4.0? Well in the simplest terms, Google utilizes a variety of algorithms to target different result verticals, and Panda is historically known for analyzing the quality of content a website has. On the most fundamental level it makes complete sense that Google would be looking at better ways to analyze the quality of content that a website has, as better content leads to a happier end user because that user was able to get awesome results relevant to their search! It is critical that as a small business you understand how Panda 4.0 could impact your website’s organic performance, as completely ignoring it could lead directly to the demise of your website – which would negatively impact the bottom line of your business.

When looking at the Panda 4.0 update, there are three core areas that must be evaluated to make sure your website continues to thrive within the new content based search algorithm:

Content Is King

Now this isn’t a call to flood your site with excessive and over the top content, rather it is a call to make sure that the content on your site is of high quality. You should place a direct effort on reviewing your content, removing any duplicate/redundant content, and really look at making sure that the content you provide is concise, easy to read, and unique to your business.

Keep It Simple Stupid

They days of over-thinking how to dump additional keywords into your website are dead. Of course the basics of making sure that you have a solid title tag, header tag and description still exist, but that by itself isn’t going to shoot your site up the organic search engine rankings. Instead talk about your business in a method that is easy for people to digest, and that truly highlights the services, products, or functions that your business provides to a user without over complicating it.

Make It Easy To Use

Usability. Usability. Usability. This is nothing new, but when the spiders crawl your website, the easier time they have navigating and reading your content then the more likely your website is going to have a higher level of usability, and this will directly impact your site’s organic rankings. What should you be on the lookout for?

    • It should be easy to navigate from page to page on your website
    • The pages should load quickly
    • You need to avoid broken links, images, and errors on the website

Follow these guidelines and your website should be considered user friendly by the search engines.

From early analysis of the impact Panda 4.0 has had on websites across the web, it does appear that websites that focus on delivering high quality content, making it easy to read and understand, and have a high usability score were rewarded in rankings. These concepts aren’t novel to the Panda algorithm as Google has talked about all of these for years, but with each update you’re seeing more and more of emphasis placed on them that will directly impact the bottom line performance of your website.

Lynn Hughes, Product Manager at PowerSites®Lynn Hughes is the Product Manager at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.
google rankings

The Not-so-Secret Secret of How to Rank Well on Google

So you want to rank well on Google? Well, look no further because PowerSites has the answer. To rank well, or even just rank on Google, it’s best to understand what Google is trying to do. Google as a Search Engine has one goal, to provide the best results to their users as possible. They take in the search query as provided by the user and try to find a list of websites that best fit what Google thinks the user wants.

So how does this help you? Well, as Bill Gates famously said back in 1996 “Content is king.” By having more and relevant content on your website you make it easier for Google to understand what services your company provides. When Google better understands a website they’re more comfortable sending their users to that website.

We talk about a little bit throughout our blog posts about SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. SEO is simply, making it easier for Search Engines (Google, Bing, etc..) to understand the content on your page. So even from an SEO standpoint there is a focus on good quality content. As Google’s Matt Cutts states in a Q&A, even without good SEO Google can still find your content and use that to make sure they provide the best results to their users.

So How do you Rank well? Put yourself in the shoes of your customer, what do they want to know about you and your business. Your website is you, online. What services do you provide? Do you do anything special? What makes you better than your competitor? But don’t forget the basics like where are you located, and when are you open. By providing as much information as possible about your business, Google can understand you, your company, and your website better, which will make it easier for them to refer you to one of their customers.

IMG_9375_600x600Michael Baaske is the Web Product Coordinator at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings. Michael’s worked at the PennySaver for 9 years and is a computer nerd and fan of the cord cutting movement.


Why Google+ is a Necessity for Your Small Business

Google+ is a necessity for your small business. In a digital era where it seems like a new social networking site is popping up every day, there’s no doubt that the social landscape can be a confusing one to navigate for a small business owner. Instead of trying to understand the impacts and benefits of each social option on your brand, take the time to learn one–Google+.

In its most basic form Google+ is a social networking site, but the power behind the platform makes it an invaluable tool that must be fully vetted – as it holds significant SEO/organic search value and integrates with the complete suite of Google products and services. Below, we will take a look at these and 2 other reasons as to why you shouldn’t wait any longer to make sure your business is on Google+.

SEO Benefits

There are numerous SEO benefits from using Google+ that can help a company’s SEO value. After you create a Google+ page people are able to ‘+1’ your page, which is very similar to the ‘like’ functionality of Facebook. In part of their SEO ranking algorithm Google factors in how many +1’s your page has in order to determine the popularity of your business compared to others. It is also of note that Google+ posts are almost immediately crawled and indexed, which just adds to the overall visibility you can obtain through being an active Google+ user. Other factors like Google Authorship and Google+ Local pages also can contribute to a company’s overall organic search visibility.

Integration Amongst A Full Suite Of Google Products

There is no mystery that Google owns quite an extensive product profile and it would only make sense that Google would spend the energy to make Google+ interact with these various platforms as efficiently and easily as possible. With existing integrations with Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, Chrome, and Google Play it really makes Google+ the one stop shop to leverage all of these tools within a single social network.

Google+ Local

Google+ Local is Google’s answer to company Facebook pages, and provides more robust functionalities with integrated features like Google Maps, Zagat Reviews, and a thorough integration within Google+ to review how your circles interact with your business. Provide valuable information about your business for consumers to absorb and interact with, with the added benefit of having your Google+ Local page being indexed by the search engines. Finally, in order to show up on Google Maps for local search a business must have a Google+ Local page.

Relationship Development

Google+ provides their users with unique abilities to further engage with potential consumers and enhance their brand awareness by being actively involved. Communities, give business the ability to interact with individuals and other companies who share a particular interest. You can join, or even better, create your own group so that you can potentially become viewed as an authority within your chosen vertical. Events, give a business the ability to set up an event and distribute that information directly to a users/groups Gmail account and calendar if accepted. The more consumers a business is able to interact with the better possibility they have for those consumers to turn into customers.

These are just a few of the benefits a business stands to gain if they leverage Google+ appropriately, and illustrates why it deserves the attention of all local business owners as they trying to navigate the extensive waters of social media. If you have more questions about the benefits of Google+ or how PowerSites® can help you with your presence on Google+ please contact us today!

Lynn Hughes, Product Manager at PowerSites®Lynn Hughes is the Product Manager at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.

Small Business Tips: Don’t Get Caught with Wrong Information

This blog post was written by PowerSites staffer, Michael, who wanted to provide some insight on the Internet Data Problem.

Here is a common scenario. A customer comes into your business and asks for the Apple Strudel.

“Apple Strudel?” You say, “We don’t serve that, in fact, it hasn’t even been on the menu for a few years”

The customer looks annoyed, “I drove twenty minutes to get here, because I heard online you had the best apple strudel, what do you mean you don’t serve it?”

What’s going on here? Why is this happening? Why would your information be online, when you don’t even have time to browse the internet? How did it get there?

Welcome to the Internet Data Problem.

As the saying goes “No man is an island” or, updated for the information age, “No THING is an island”. To understand why your data online is wrong, it would help to understand what is meant by “the Internet Data Problem”.

Solving the Internet Data Problem? When it comes to data, there are three different types of websites: Sources, Aggregators, and Combination. Sources generate the data, and make it available for other websites to use, either freely, or by charge. Aggregators take data from various sources and try to compile it in a way that makes sense to the end user (think Google). Combination sites do both. To make these more complicated, sites may choose to make some, all, or none of its data available to other sites. And just for fun, the data can either be User-Generated Content, or Merchant-Generated Content.

An unfortunate side effect of having so much information freely available, with so many sources and aggregators, is that the information isn’t updated correctly. It may be wrong, or just plain out of date.

Is your head spinning yet? It’s okay, don’t panic. There are steps you can take, to not only fix this problem, but take advantage of it. With so much misinformation floating around, internet users tend to gravitate towards sources they can trust, and are skeptical of limited content.


Yelp, Google+ and Facebook–Find out if your small business is listed there, if it is, claim your listing. If it’s not there, create one. Most of these sites make it possible for the business owner to claim their listing on their websites through an easy verification process.


Go through each profile page and update all the information on there. Verify Email addresses, phone numbers, store locations, website addresses. While you’re there, add some more information about your business, and a few pictures. Include a brief description about your business, and remember to tell your company’s story, in an effort to better connect with your customers.

That’s it. There are many other social media sites out there, but these are the big ones. By updating these you can ensure your content is correct, also, by adding more information you add to the legitimacy of these postings. You have just taken your first step towards optimizing your information on the Internet.

Solving the Internet Data ProblemWhy is this important? In a recent webinar, reported that they had over 18 million business listings, and only 1.5 million of them were claimed by the business themselves. This issue is not unique to; in fact it’s an issue many websites face. By taking a few minutes to complete the above steps, you’re already ahead of the 15 million plus businesses out there that may have incorrect information on the web.

As world culture moves more and more towards web as their primary source of information, it becomes more important to ensure that your information on the web is correct. This not only makes it easy for your customer to find you, but also so they don’t end up driving 20 minutes for an apple strudel that doesn’t exist.

Social Media Monday: Take Advantage of Google+ For Your Small Business

Powersites-blog-Google+Google+ recently climbed the social network ranks so that it’s number two in users, which means if you haven’t gotten on the Google+ train already, you need to. It represents a valuable social media marketing opportunity that you can’t afford to pass up. Since this social network might not be one that you’ve used on a personal basis before, there’s a bit of a learning curve as you learn how you can market yourself and your business. Discover how to use Google’s social network with these marketing tips.

One of the main concepts that you need to learn with Google+ are circles. You add people to specific circles, such as Friends, Co-workers, and other circles you create. When you follow someone on this social media network, they do not automatically follow you back. Instead they get a notification that you have added them to your circle, and they may decide to add you back. A few ways to increase the chances that your potential customers and clients will add you back include:

  • Create compelling content

    You need to give them a reason to want to add you to their circles. The last thing that someone wants to do is add a person or business to one of their circles, and be inundated with spam posts and other things that don’t pique their interest.

  • Use Circles to your advantage

    You restrict your posted content to specific circles, or you can make it publicly available. While it is in your best interest to make most of your content public for a wide range of marketing opportunities, you may wish to provide special incentives to those who add you to their circles, or your highest volume customers. Circles make it easy to target your advertising across all of your followers.

  • Create posts that are widely shared

    Like other social networks, viral content gets you plenty of eyes looking at your page. While this isn’t the most targeted traffic, it does give you the potential for very large dividends.

  • Share posts.

    Share posts that are related to your niche that you find interesting. Your Google+ page can get quite boring if you’re only focused on your products. Featuring a wide range of posts, such as showing off the latest news in your industry, behind the scenes moments at your business, and other relevant but not entirely promotional content will go a long way towards humanizing you to your customers. Social network goers want to be able to relate to the companies that they follow, and it’s easier for them to do that if they can see that you’re more than just a marketing mouth.

It’s not too late to create a Google+ page for your small business! It might take some time to get traction, but as you find your way around the network you’ll be able to leverage its great features for marketing and connecting with your customers. It also ties in with other Google services, making it a snap to sign up for.

Small Business and Google+: Opportunity for Better Local Search Results

In May of 2012,  Google replaced its Google Places with Google+ Local. At first glance it seems to be nothing more than a rebranding of Google Places where local businesses show up on a Google local search on a map with a pin in it locating a business. Small business owners could write a few words to promote their business and link to their web page. Google users could also give ratings about the business without having to sign in to Google Places.

The interface that users encounter on Google+ Local provides a more complete helping of business data. In addition to the more granular Zagat ratings there are new features such as suggestions for nearby businesses. Google believes that these enhancements make for a far better consumer experience.

By replacing Google Places with Google+ Local the functionality is pretty much the same. However, Google has partnered with Zagat to provide ratings. This may seem like a small change, but it is actually a major difference. On the one hand, it is a positive change as users have to sign in to their Zagat account to review a business on Google+ Local. This additional step may reduce frivolous bad reviews. But, at the same time it worries business owners who had a difficult time getting positive reviews from satisfied customers who now have an added impediment to writing a review.According to Google one of every 4 searches on Google is estimated to be a local search, and customer reviews are extremely important. Besides the Zagat ratings, Google+ users can “+” a business. This is similar to ‘Liking” a business page on Facebook.

Businesses that already claimed their Google Places spot have been automatically rolled into Google+ Local. The new service remains free and allows businesses to add photographs and links.

Many may think this is a “soft” attempt to get businesses to buy Google Ad Words. While it very well may be part of Google’s strategy, it is more likely that it is an attempt to parlay Google+, which is Google’s social media into a more robust Internet destination for users. While Google+ Local has much fewer subscribers than Facebook they claimed in an unusual announcement in September 2012 that they had 400 million individuals signed up for Google+, and 100 million users actively checking in to business pages.

What is a bit strange is that businesses that want to manage their Google+ Local page have to go to the Google Places for Business page. There does not seem to be a home page for Google+ Local for businesses.

Google+ Local is easy for consumers to use and is accessible from standard computers, netbooks, tablets and Smartphones running Android OS. It seems as if Google has finally found a social media platform that will work for them, especially since they are the mega-giant search provider. Small business owners need to pay attention to how Google+ Local evolves. It would be wise to setup a Google+ page, if you don’t already have one, learn how to monitor it and make sure that the Google+ Local experience is maximized for both your business and consumers.