Have You Looked at Bing Local?

So many business owners are focused on Google+ Local, (previously called Google Places) that they forget that Bing has a great local program too. In fact, in this recent study consumers chose Bing Local over Google Maps for local searches.

“Bing tied for the top spot with both Superpages and Yellowbook, both of which belong to the Yellow Pages collection of directories. Google Maps wasn’t far behind at fourth and Yellowpages rounded out the top five.” Read the full article. 

Bing has a very nice local portal and like Google has created a page for your business already, you just have to claim it and update it. Just this past month Bing teamed up with Yelp to create even more relevant results for it’s local search engine which will simply improve its future results.

For now, I recommend claiming your Bing Local listing by going to the free Bing Business Portal. The service is free and allows you to add pertinent business information, special promotions and even create a free mobile website. It offers more options and features than the stripped down Google+ Local page now offers.

Bing is also focusing on localized searches in their search engine just like Google. With a small effort on your part, you can grab your Bing Local page and potentially reap some very nice top local placement exposure that can drive desktop and mobile traffic your way.

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What’s Worth the Trouble for Social Media?

For every client and business it will be different. For some it is Google+, others Facebook, others yet Twitter, and for some it is definitely LinkedIn. Much of where you should invest your time for social media is about your target audience.

If you are:

  • Consumer oriented – Facebook and Twitter are best
  • Selling mainly to executives and decision makers – LinkedIn is best
  • Selling nationally business to business or business to consumer – I like Twitter

Where you post and invest your time is based on your target market. Where ever you decide to participate, make sure you are still blogging. Activity on social media networks is not a replacement for blogging, but should be considered a supplement to blogging.

Why blogging?

  1. Blog posts are considered as if they are new pages on content.
  2. Blog posts build web authority for your website.
  3. Blog posts create interesting and new content for readers and search engine robots.

Remember…

Blogging is best done when it is on-domain versus at Blogspot.com or WordPress.com. You can feed your blog posts to Twitter and your Facebook wall and use a widget to show your blog posts to readers on LinkedIn. Blogging is about building your domain’s content. Social Media is off-domain and is about connecting with the wider web and sharing links to point to your website, social sites, and drive traffic to your website.

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Is Social Media Worth the Time? How to Tell

When you are busy there is no easier and faster task you want to drop than to stop updating your social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, but is that wise? Before you drop updating social media sites, make sure you are not hurting your web presence first.

How can you tell if social media is not driving traffic and activity on your site? It all starts with analysis. If you don’t routinely watch your website statistics on Google Analytics, you should. For my site, I watch the Social Sources in the Traffic Sources button to check my referrals. If you don’t see referrals from Twitter or Facebook there, don’t stop updating those services yet until you look a bit further.

I use HootSuite for my social updates and I can run link click and follower share reports in the control panel. This gives me a  more clear view of what is happening specifically with Twitter. To check what is happening with Facebook, I login as an administrator and review my Insights report.

Based on what you see, you may decide to cut back activity to a lower level if the numbers are not measurable, but I would not stop either service altogether. Google and Bing do look for social updates and sharing activity as part of their organic rankings. If social media is taking up too much time, I would ramp back first to a comfortable level.  Specifically, I might recommend one update a day for Facebook and three updates a day for Twitter.

Should you stop social media updates all together? I would only recommend doing so if you really cannot support the activity level, you see zero link shares, and no referrals when you review a six month period. I would be very slow to stop updating your networks all together. I have found that once you lose readership, after you have actively worked to build it for quite a while, that to get back in the game again is almost like starting from scratch. It is better to slow your activity than to stop totally.

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Widgetbox Mobile App Builder Reviewed

Scan to see my app.

In this blog post I’ll review the Widgetbox Mobile App Builder.

Have you been dying to get into the Mobile App game? Widgetbox has created a point and click mobile app builder that you can offer to users for download. I created one that you can check out, but it is only available for viewing until June 24th. You may need to view it in Google Chrome or with your smartphone.

At Widgetbox you add your blog, social networks, and can create custom pages. Widgetbox then creates a simple, cool, app for smartphones. The kicker is that to have the app for more than the free 14 day period, you’ve got to pay $25 a month for the starter program, $50 a month for the upgrade version, or $100 for the premium version. That’s just a bit pricey for me to pay for something I am just playing around with.

Although not everyone wants a mobile app for their business, some businesses may just want bragging rights. You don’t have to have your app in the iTunes store or Google Play for people to get it. You can promote your app on your own website via a download link or using a QR code.

I for one think that the apps is very cool and the Widgetbox website was super easy to use, but the price per month was a deal killer for me. Now if the price had been $5 a month of even $10 a month, I probably would have bought it for bragging rights, but $25 was just too much for what I would use the app for. However, you may really like the options and integration that they have so this application is definitely worth a closer look for your own personal needs.

Keep an eye out for other cool click and create apps for mobile as there is real growth in this arena for the future.

P.S. Widgetbox did not pay me for this review, I just found their site, liked what I saw, and wanted to share it with you.

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Mobile Website Redirection Tactics

I recently have been testing out mobile website design. Although there are some great free tools out there that automatically make a mobile website for you, I simply did not want THAT much content on my mobile site. I wanted a streamlined small interface with just my key services and phone links. PLUS I wanted the website files to reside on MY server, not over at Bing Local or over at Dudamobile.com.

I found a template at Dreamweaver to help me used JQuery to create a mobile website. You can check out the video and grab the files here. I was able to pretty easily customize the site and CSS, but really ran into a problem getting the site to show for mobile users.

Typically a “sniffing” script will be used to deliver content for mobile phones, but the scripts I found simply did not work. My Android smartphone still saw my desktop website. I found that the CSS declaration that identifies screen width and then redirects the used did not work for me, nor did several other php scripts. I ended up using a .htaccess redirect.

This is the code I used in the .htaccess file:

# mobile site redirection
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(.*).mccordweb.com/.*$ [NC]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/mobile/.*$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} “android|blackberry|iphone|ipod|iemobile|opera mobile|palmos|webos|googlebot-mobile” [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ /mobile/ [L,R=302]

This worked for me. You can check out my mobile site at http://www.mccordweb.com/mobile/ but you’ll only see if on your smartphone, don’t got there with your browser. Mine is still a work in progress, but something that I am testing.

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AdWords Third Party Compliance – We Passed

My business was just reviewed this past month by Google under their new Google AdWords third party compliance program. You can read all the details about this new Google AdWords policy in this article by Google. As a Google AdWords Certified Partner, being in compliance is important. If you are found to not be compliant, Google can remove your certification and even disable your ability to manage accounts.

My firm passed the review which is now to be done yearly or in some cases more frequently if Google receives complaints about a Partner. I have to say the review was thorough! As we operate transparently and were already adhering to Google policies the audit was not a problem for us, but for others, may require a change in business model, updates to their website, or new information communicated to every customer.

In summary this is what Google requires your Google AdWords Certified Partner to do:

  1. “At the minimum provide advertisers with monthly data on AdWords costs, clicks and impressions at the account level.”
  2. “All third parties primarily serving small to medium-sized clients are required to provide the Google Disclosure Notice.”
  3. “Third parties may not engage in unclear, deceptive or harassing sales practices.”
  4. “Third parties may not misrepresent their relationship to Google.”
  5. “You may not make improper guarantees about Google to your clients.”
  6. “You may not violate Google’s branding guidelines.”
  7. “You may not improperly use AdWords accounts, or AdWords marketing or sales material.”

You’ll want to check out the full article as I know of several situations when client’s have told me what other AdWords service suppliers have said to them are in direct violation with the policies.

As for me, I feel that a compliance review is a good thing. It keeps Google AdWords Certified Partners on a level playing field. No more having to compete for a client against a competing service that is saying they have a special preferential relationship with Google and that they get special deals that I can’t possibly get and give to the prospect.

Thanks Google for helping to make the Google AdWords Certified Partner status I work hard to get and keep mean something!

You can verify our Partner status with Google AdWords.

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