Managing Google reviews for your business

One of the most critical things business can do is to claim their Google My Business listing. These “local listings” enable businesses to be easily found by local customers. They also have the added benefit of enabling your business to be reviewed by customers. In this blog, I’ll cover the often tricky aspect of acquiring and managing Google reviews for businesses. This blog assumes your business has already claimed it’s Google My Business listing. If you haven’t, do it now by going to https://business.google.com.

Why should you get reviews?

Credibility/trust

Reviews bring credibility and trust to your business & reduce the risk of making a bad purchase for customers. As with most aspects in life, the most successful outcomes progress from a recommendation. Established businesses with no reviews often attract suspicion. Imagine the case of your local take away shop that’s been in business for years, but has no reviews. Would you be comfortable ordering food from there? Many people would not.

Ranking signals for Local SEO

As I mentioned at the start of this blog, Google Local listings are critical if you want to be found by local customers. That’s because these listings, all other things being equal, are displayed by Relevance, Distance and Prominence. The number and Reviews & interactions to these reviews are a ranking factor for the listings. https://support.google.com/business/answer/7091?hl=en

Ask for reviews

I once had a friend who told me “If you don’t ask, you don’t get”! This principle applies to Google reviews also. Most customers aren’t inclined to leave a review of their own accord unless they’ve had a terrible experience. As such, it’s critical you ask customers for a review of your business.

As always, it’s tricky to get the timing right. It shouldn’t be too early, where the customer hasn’t received the full value from your product or service, and it shouldn’t be too late, where the positive experience has already begun to fade.

To make it easier for your customers to leave reviews, it’s imperative you include the link to your Google My Business listing review. Here’s how you do that:

  1. Go to Google places: https://developers.google.com/places/place-id
  2. Search for your Place id by entering your businesses location:

Copy the place id:

Append the place id to the end of the link:

https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=<place_id>

The end result of this process is a URL, that provides a direct link for customers to write reviews for your business, which displays the review box to clients, as can be seen below:

If you want to make the link even nicer for clients, use a URL shortener such as Bit.ly to generate a custom/short link.

Respond to all reviews

No matter whether they are positive or negative.

I see many businesses aren’t comfortable in responding to negative reviews. I always recommend business owners to respond to all reviews, as Google wants to see businesses interact with their customers. If the review is particularly negative, I recommend calming down taking a deep breath and explaining your side of the story (without arguing). The other option is to apologise for the poor experience that the customer experienced, no matter whether it’s justified or not.

It’s a bit like receiving a bad meal at a restaurant. A good waiter will apologise for the poor meal, rather than debate the merits (or lack thereof) of the diner’s complaints.

Negative reviews are actually positive (within reason), as they justify to customers that your business is real. Research has deomonstrated that people usually seek negative reviews first when looking to buy expensive items. If there are no negative reviews, then it can look suspicious to potential customers. Studies have shown that the “sweet spot” for purchases from Google reviews is generally between 4.2 and 4.5.

Report any fake reviews to Google

Of course, you shouldn’t report all negative reviews, but if some reviews are obviously fake, or there’s clearly a conflict of interest, you can report them to Google for further investigation. This is done by opening your Google My Business console, clicking the reviews menu:

Clicking the right side of the “offending” review and then clicking the “Flag as inappropriate” box. You can then follow the prompts to categorise why the review is inappropriate.

In this blog, I’ve attempted to provide an overview for businesses on the importance of claiming and optimising their Google local listing. These local listings are critical for all businesses, but especially local businesses, as one of the primary factors used for search is the proximity or distance from the business. The review functionality of these listings is also critical for businesses and this article provides some tips for businesses to get started in requesting and managing these listings.

For local SEO assistance, contact Evolocity today.

 

 

Medical SEO

Why Medical SEO is critical for practitioners

Are you an Australian doctor, Vet, or medical specialist that is looking to increase your caseload or gain new clients and grow your practise, clinic or overall business?

SEO is one of the most important aspects of success for a medical practice, but medical SEO is quite often neglected. It’s not surprising really, as the often murky world of SEO appears to be an art rather than a science.

Most doctors and practise managers are too busy running their business to spend the time to and effort to learn and implement best practices for search engine optimisation. Just like any other aspect of running a business, it’s always a good idea to outsource specialist functions to the experts.

Why invest in healthcare SEO?

Medical or healthcare SEO is increasingly becoming crucial for medical practitioners including general practitioners, plastic surgeons, neurologists, rheumatologists, dermatologists, ophthalmologists, cardiologists, rheumatologists, urologists and vascular surgeons etc.

According to Health Care communicaton News, 80% of users search online to find out information about doctors.

It is important when someone is searching for your practice or location that you’re visible in the search results. If someone is searching for your medical specialty or service offering, you need to be visible to searchers also.

As most proponents of digital marketing are aware, Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is one of the best value digital marketing methods for business. Although other online marketing methods, such as paid advertising platforms including Google AdWords and Bing Ads, as well as social media advertising are often great choices for business. In the long run, SEO usually provides the greatest return on investment (ROI).

Why is it so?

Businesses often see the higher monthly investment for SEO and can’t understand the value proposition compared to paid advertising. The truth is, this SEO effort, for the most part is evergreen. Put simply, the SEO efforts of today reap benefits for many months and years to come. Compare this with paid online advertising, where as soon as the Ad spend is stopped, the returns also stop.

Why you need a specialist healthcare SEO provider

Although SEO has some similarities from niche to niche, there are distinct benefits in finding a provider that has expertise in the medical, Vet and general health fields. Medical SEO specialists understand the medical industry, your competitors and have the advantage of knowing the most important websites to the medical industry. Simply put. Healthcare SEO experts know what works when promoting medical businesses in Australia.

At Evolocity, we have a plethora of medical and veterinary SEO and AdWords experience and have worked with Australian clients in Sydney, Gold Coast, Byron Bay as well as international clients.

If you are a medical professional or work in the medical industry, we can help you with digital marketing to get more clients. We’ve employed successful medical SEO strategies for GPs, Vets, cosmetic clinics as well as several medical specialists.

Contact us today to find out how we can help your practice.

How to setup a WordPress store in under 15 minutes!

Some of the criticisms of WordPress, when compared to other purchase based platforms is the lack of in-built functionality on the platform to handle payments.

Shopify, for example has store/cart functionality built in, and accepting payments really is a breeze.

Woo commerce is arguably the king of processing payments in the WordPress platform powering 28% of all online stores on the web.  Woo Commerce is a powerful and customizable platform, but can often be complex to setup, needing custom integrations. There’s also a cost involved in accepting payments with WooCommerce (USD 129 per year).

For those WordPress websites that need to process simple, or occasional payments, such as selling ebooks or occasional services, WooCommerce may be an over-kill. At Evolocity, we recently faced this situation, and began searching for a simpler (and cheaper!) alternative WordPress shopping cart.

In this blog, I’ll provide an overview of how to setup a simple WordPress shopping cart and accept payments in your WordPress site in 15 minutes!

For this exercise, I used (and recommend) the WordPress Simple Paypal Shopping Cart Plug-In. This is a simple WordPress shopping cart plugin, that allows your site to accept payments and credit card transactions via PayPal.

The shopping cart plugin provides a simple shopping cart functionality to sell products or services to your customers.  The beauty is that it lets you add the shopping cart anywhere in a WordPress post or page. Even via a widget in the sidebar, footer etc.

Setting up a Shopping Cart on your site

To find the plugin, login to your WordPress admin console, go to plugins, click “Add new” and search for: WordPress Simple PayPal Shopping Cart

wordpress shopping cart

Install the plugin, then activate it.

Next, go to settings:

wordpress SEO

Click “WP Shopping Cart”, where you will be presented with the following screen:

wordpress shopping cart

The only fields I typically change, are:

  • Currency (and Currency symbol)
  • Shipping cost
  • Return URL – This is the page the customer will be redirected to after a successful payment. Similar to a “Thank You” page. It’s useful for analytics and for any conversion ads you may want to run.

Next, click on the “Email Settings” tab and customise the email body and email accounts as required.

Now that you’ve installed and configured the plugin, it’s time to setup the e-commerce facility on your website

How to use the plugin

The first step is to go to an existing WordPress page or post where you’d like to add a shopping option, such as add to cart and checkout option.

The next step is to add some text. Here, you’ll want to list the product or service you are selling, as well as the price:

 

The best SEO guide ever! Only $14.95

 

To add an “Add to Cart button” after the text, use the following code:

 

[ wp_cart_button name=”Best SEO Guide” price=”14.95″ ]

 

You can call the wp_cart_button anything you like, and update the price field.

The end result is:

 

Sydney SEO

The colour/type of the button can also be changed. you can find more buttons/graphics here.

 

The following line of code displays the shopping cart (after an item has been added to cart).

 

Here is the result after adding the Shopping Cart code (after adding the product to cart)

wordpress shopping cart

Once the customer has clicked the “Check out with PayPal” button, they’re directed to PayPal to complete the payment processing:

 

SEO Sydney

That’s all there is to it!

In conclusion, I find the WordPress Simple Paypal Shopping Cart Plug-In surprisingly powerful, offering customised emails, grouped shipping options, currency support and customised post checkout pages. You won’t however find much more complicated options, such as affiliate/referral handling or the options to handle payments your way.

All payments are handled by PayPal, which provides you the safety, without the exorbitant handling fees. Please note that PayPal takes around 3% commission of the sales price (depending on the location/sale price), so you’ll need to factor that in.

If you’re looking for a simple payment processing option for WordPress, the WordPress Simple Paypal Shopping Cart PlugIn is an excellent choice.

It’s simple and quick to setup and does the job without complex configuration. Also, If you’re anything like me and don’t feel comfortable handling payments yourself, PayPal is an excellent choice.

 

Click here to read our other blogs or contact us for any assistance.

guest blogging

6 reasons why guest posting is essential for your business

What is a “guest post”?

It’s increasingly difficult to acquire high quality, relevant backlinks in 2017. Sure, if you create great content on your website, it will eventually be indexed by Google and sites will find it organically and link to it.

It does happen; however it usually takes many months, or years for sites to stumble upon your content.

Guest posting is the process of producing content that will be hosted on another site, or Blog.

The destination site is most often a site that is more powerful than yours own, and one that has considerable traffic and readers.

 

Is a guest post risky?

Google has been advising for over four years that guest blogging for SEO purposes is considered “spammy”. Google’s former head of the web spam team detailed his concerns clearly in this blog.

Google is adamant that it will seek out and penalize sites that use guest posting for purely SEO purposes. The old “spammy” method of guest posts that Matt Cutts is referring to is posting links to unrelated content and guest posts purely for the purposes of SEO and rankings. These kinds of guest posts are (and should be) a thing of the past.

To answer the question, a legitimate guest post for exposure, reach and branding isn’t risky at all. As long as you follow the advice presented below.

Having cleared up the concerns from Google, there are 6 great reasons I believe you should guest post:

  1. Exposure– Guest posting allows you to demonstrate your authority on a subject. It enables you to stand out on a platform you usually don’t have access to. For example, when starting a new business (and website), you’ll usually have only a small audience. Guest posting helps you gain this exposure.
  2. Reach– Let’s be realistic, shall we? For a new site, it will take months or years for your website to gain traffic and rankings to the point where you’ll start receiving readers and organic traffic. Why not leverage off an existing website that has readers and traffic already?
  3. Branding– you may wish to promote your brand by appearing on high profile sites that allow guest posts. If your guest post makes it to Forbes or Entrepreneur.com, this will have a tremendous impact on your branding.
  4. Traffic– Most guest posts will allow some links in your article (where relevant), as well as a link in the author bio. If you guest post on a site with many visitors, it’s likely some will click the links to read about your products or services and to find out more about you. This traffic essentially brings referral traffic to your website and should result in more leads and sales.
  5. Relationships/community– Guest posts serve as an introduction to people you wouldn’t have met otherwise. Often, great things happen as a result of these relationships. Everything from cross-promotion leveraging synergies to joint ventures and beyond!
  6. SEO– Although Google has made it clear that guest posting for SEO is dead, the draw-card of increasing rankings is a major fringe benefit of guest posting. It’s been clear for many years that links are one of the most important ranking signals for a website. Quite simply, whoever has the strongest backlinks to their website generally ranks highest.

 Where should you blog?

To avoid any penalties, and to get a significant return on your investment for your effort, you need to find sites (that offer guest blogs), that:

  • Have a good domain authority – The Domain Authority of a website is a metric that compares the overall strength of a website (from 1 to 100). The domain authority of the site you wish to guest post should ideally be higher than your website. I’d also recommend you only guest post on a site with Domain Authority > 30. You can check domain authority of websites here.
  • Are reputable. The website must have a good reputation for publishing high quality, authoritative content. They shouldn’t accept payment for guest posts either.
  • Have significant visitors. You’ll only want to publish on a site that has more than 100k visitors per month. Check the site’s visitors and traffic using similar web.
  • Are related to your website– it’s no good guest posting in a different industry or unrelated genre (unless you want a Google penalty!). Pick relevant and related websites that allow guest posts.
  • Have a significant amount of social media followers– Social media is critical for all businesses. When a guest post is published, it should be promoted to the social media followers of the guest post site. For your engagement to be maximised, significant social media followers are essential. I’d say 10k combined followers (across all social media platforms) should be the minimum.

How to find guest post opportunities

Let’s say you are a lawyer in Australia that specialises in trademarks, and want to increase your reach and exposure. You could use a combination of the below in Google search to find sites that allow guest posts:

Australian trademark law “guest post”

Australian lawyer “write for us”

Australian lawyer “guest article”

 

If you’re looking to guest post on business, strategy, finance or general marketing, you can check out this article for an ordered list of sites that accept guest posts.

You then need to write a convincing email to the site you wish to submit to. Below is a great example from Backlinko:

 

Hey [Name],

Thanks for taking the time to comment on my guest post at [Website].

I never thought of the fact that [Insert something they said in the comment].

That’s a good point.

Anyway, I actually have another guest post idea that would be perfect for your site.

It’s called: [5 Tips X…]

I could have it sent to you this week.

Either way, thanks again for your insights!

Best,

[Your First Name]

What’s next?

  • Spend some time creating your author bio. Make your author bio as professional and descriptive of you and your experience as much as possible. Ensure you tailor your bio for each site. Google hates duplicate content, so don’t re-use the same bio across multiple sites.
  • Link from your own on-site blog to the guest post. Reciprocal links are a nice touch and are appreciated by webmasters.
  • Publish your post on social media several times. You need to promote your brand, and there’s no better method to do this than social media. Re-post your guest post periodically.
  • Thank the webmaster at the guest blog site for allowing your guest post. It’s important to build relationships in life and this is no different.
  • Answer any questions following your post. This creates engagement for readers of your post.

Conclusion

Google has warned that Guest posts for the sole purposes of SEO are finished, and will be penalised. If used correctly, guest posts are a great mechanism to display your authority, promote your brand and build valuable connections amongst your peers. The fringe benefits from guest posts include increased traffic and powerful links which will help your SEO and will be great for your business.

You need to ensure you do the research first and find suitable sites to publish your guest content. Also, be open to allowing reciprocal guest posts if the opportunity arises.

Do you agree with guest posts? Have a better approach? Leave a comment!

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How long would your business survive in a disaster?

Business ContinuityIf your IT infrastructure failed today, how long would your business survive?

Would you be able to recover your lost data? If so, how long would that take?

These are but some questions to think about when assessing your current Business Continuity strategy.

Business Continuity can be defined as the mitigating actions to prevent data loss and the ability for your business to continue to operate in the event of a disaster. In the interests of simplicity, I won’t distinguish between Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity which are different concepts, albeit closely related.

You are likely aware of the importance of backing up, so you don’t lose data that’s critical for your business to function. Some examples include customer data, accounting records (including P&L and Balance Sheets), business transactions and invoices.

Safely and securely backing up company data is crucial for success, as losing data can be devastating, with studies showing 60% of business that have a significant data loss go out of business.

Data loss is also more common than you’d expect. System failures, blackouts, malicious activity, accidental deletes, theft, equipment malfunction, natural disasters (such as fire, earthquake or flood), or malware and ransomware attacks to name a few!

Having outlined the need to consider business continuity, what exactly is required to protect your business?

 Have a plan!

A robust business continuity plan is an essential part of your disaster recovery strategy and compliance requirements. Who will do what, when and how in the event of a disaster?

In the unfortunate case of a disaster, it’s already an extremely stressful time. Having activities and roles clearly documented (and tested) reduces stress, improves recovery time and accuracy of recovery.

Define your RTO and RPO

Defining the maximum allowable data loss in the event of a disaster (Recovery Point Objective) and the maximum allowable time to restore that data (Return To Operation) are the amongst the most important inputs in planning your business continuity strategy.

Can your business function without IT for 120 hours, or only 4 hours in the event of a disaster? It’s important to carefully consider these metrics, as there is a strong cost/benefit correlation that defines the most applicable solution.

 Data Backups

It’s critically important that backups are created frequently, and a policy is in place to ensure they are not overwritten unknowingly. It’s vital that these backups are restored and tested at regular intervals to ensure the integrity of the data that’s backed up.

Offsite storage

It’s imperative that a copy of the backups are securely stored offsite (in multiple locations), or in the cloud to mitigate the loss of the premises due to natural disaster. Backups should be stored with file versioning, so specific files can be restored if corrupted by Ransomware etc.

Testing

Recalling/Restoring backups needs to be tested (ideally quarterly). Taking “successful” backups that are either corrupt or don’t contain the expected data is all too common. You should periodically restore critical data to ensure data integrity and all expected data is contained in the backup.

Business Continuity is an extremely complex topic. In this blog, I’ve merely provided an overview of things to consider when creating a Business Continuity strategy.

Technology has also changed considerably in the last few years and there are many cost-effective and simple tools that can assist your business with backups for disaster recovery.

For help in Business Continuity and backup strategies and solutions for your business, contact Evolocity today.

 

How the cloud can be a business enabler

 

cloud computing for business

The cloud is essentially a shared pool of configurable computer resources. This means your business is sharing computing resources with others, similar to webmail (such as Gmail, Hotmail etc) or websites that reside on shared web servers at your hosting provider.

This may sound scary; but in reality, it shouldn’t be. Only the physical computing resources are shared, not the data and enterprise grade security tools are employed to keep your secure. Arguably, data is more secure than if stored on your own network.

Without further ado, here is how the cloud can help add value for your business:

Cost:

When moving to the cloud, your business can change the majority of its IT expenditure from one centred around capital expenditure to one focused on more predictable operating expenditure. Recent analysis has shown that IT CAPEX can be reduced by up to 80% by moving to the cloud, as well as a reduction of up to 90% in energy costs.

For example, to procure a server for your office can cost over $5,000 up front. The server also requires ongoing maintenance costs, power as well as cooling costs in some cases. Rather than spending money to maintain hardware that is often not used to it’s potential, subscribing to software and services for a low monthly fee has proven to help small businesses stretch their IT budgets further.

Scalability

With the cloud, there’s no more concerns about running out of disk space to store your business’ data. One of the key benefits of cloud computing is the ability to scale up (or down) to meet demands almost instantly. Compare this with the lead time in procuring new IT hardware and configuring them, which usually takes several days or even weeks.

The Cloud also allows your business to deploy applications faster to market, as well as enabling you to onboard new employees fast, just provide access to systems in the cloud for new joiners, rather than downloading installing and configuring applications for them.

Better security and reliability

Could providers offer greater security and protection, since they have the infrastructure to store your data on several different servers. If one server goes down, other servers can take over the workload. Also, due to economies of scale cloud providers can employ enterprise level security and monitoring tools to identify and correct threats and failures in real-time. This is especially true as physical on-site hardware begins to age.

Collaboration

Today’s workplace is all about teamwork, and the cloud can make collaboration work for your business. Cloud tools such as shared calendars, video conferencing and chat as well as the ability to share files (without needing to e-mail files backwards and forwards) enable office bound as well as remote employees to work together in real time via almost any device with an Internet connection. Software tools such as Office 365 or Google Apps offer various collaboration features across several platforms.

Secure data backup

Data backup and storage are the most common uses of cloud for business. As a small or medium business owner, you are likely aware of the importance of backing up your data so you don’t lose everything in the case of a system failure, natural disaster (such as fire or flood), malfunction, theft or malware/ransomware attack . The cloud simplifies this backup approach and replicates your data offsite in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Contact Evolocity today, to learn how we can assist reducing your CAPEX and transition data to the cloud.

 

Why your business should care about IT satisfaction

Why your business should care about IT satisfaction

thumb-422147_1280Just like any other aspect of a business, inefficiencies and poor performing teams/individuals need to be identified and corrected. The human psyche determines that people don’t like openly criticizing or complaining about others; that’s where satisfaction surveys come in.

 Why should I measure IT satisfaction?

Improve productivity
IT satisfaction is a measure of the performance of your IT department. The IT department should be seen as a business enabler, as it has a direct and measurable impact on your organisation’s productivity and cashflow.

Lower costs
Improving the efficiency of the IT department should be a goal for all businesses. IT staff should spend their time on business enabling activities and forward thinking for IT systems, rather than fixing low value repeated incidents.

Provide input to IT continuous improvement
User feedback is a great mechanism to improve your IT services. Including your customers into the continuous improvement cycle is one of the best approaches for long-term IT satisfaction.

As always, there’s no one size fits all approach for businesses and the IT survey method selected depends on your business’ needs and that of your users.
No matter which approach you take, it’s important to start measuring your IT satisfaction as soon as possible, so you can capture a solid baseline for future comparisons.

Contact Evolocity today, to see how we can help your business measure and continuously improve IT satisfaction.