BizSite Blog

Benefits of using Google Places

Carlfred Giles - Saturday, May 25, 2013

Reach millions of Google users, quickly and for free, with Google Places

More people search for businesses online than anywhere else, so it's important to make sure your local business listing can be easily found on Google.com and Google Maps. With Google Places, creating a great listing takes just a few minutes and doesn’t cost a thing.

Edit your listing and speak for yourself

Your business probably already shows up on Google, but you should still verify your listing and make sure its details are accurate and thorough. Your improvements will start appearing soon after you verify them through Google Places. Also, you can add notifications

Practical and easy to manage

Your Google local business listing is an easy way to maintain an online presence even if you don’t have a website. You can visit Google Places anytime to edit your information or see how many people have seen and clicked on your listing.

Premium options, all for free

Make your listing really shine with photos and videos; custom categories like your service area, brands you sell and how to find parking; and coupons to encourage customers to make a first-time or repeat purchase.

Create your listing today using Google Places by following the walkthrough below.

Signing up for Google Places is simple

If you own a business, you probably know the basics. You can add extras like photos and descriptions if you have them handy, or come back to add them later.

At the end of the sign-up, we'll ask you to verify your submission by phone or postcard. We do this to make sure that only the right people are able to change any public data about your business.

Okay, let's learn more about getting started on Google Places!

 

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The Most Important Question to Answer Before You Build Your Website

Carlfred Giles - Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Building a website can be fun. You’re putting your company out there for people all over the world to see. You get to tell others about your passion. You get share your service with the rest of the world. You get to SELL and make $$$!

Everyone needs a website. Years ago when telephones came about they were quickly adopted by businesses as the first means of customer contact. Today, would you open a business without a telephone? Of course not!  And so it now goes with websites. Websites legitimize your business and are the first thing people go to when trying to find your service (and for those of you still using a phone book, check out Google Places…)

 

So what’s the first thing you should do before creating your site?

Ask yourself why you need it.

Occasionally the simple answer is “just because everybody else has one”. If that’s your answer, then you need a brochure site. A brochure site is an information website that provides basic data about your business. Usually it has pictures, hours of operation, services provided, and contact info. Brochure websites can be REALLY cool – surely you’ve browsed through ours…

However, most companies if they really think about it, can use their website for more. MUCH more. And THIS is the most important question of all:How can I get the most use out of my website?”

 

Some obvious ways to maximize your site:


  • Calendar of events

  • Collect potential customer contact data

  • Take customer sign ups/waiting lists


But let’s go a step further and think about your business specifically: are you a church? Warehouse? Insurance agent? Hydraulic company? A cleaning service? What are the things that take the most administrative time and how can they be automated so that the public can help themselves? Do you get phone calls all the time asking what’s on your menu? Post it online. Does your secretary spend most of her time rescheduling appointments? Let clients do it themselves from your site. Is your cash flow slow at the first of each month because customers forget to pay? Make it easy for them by accepting payments online. Think of what would make your world perfect and easy, and start with that!

 

Other ideas for good use of your website:

  • Message boards

  • Payment collections

  • Customer/Product reviews

  • Appointment scheduling

  • Account login

  • Sell products/services

Instead of trying to model your website after your competitor, think about how you can make a website do a little extra work for you. And if you get us to design the site, you won’t have to worry about it looking as good as your competitor…it will look better…

68 Percent of Small Businesses Plan to Increase Marketing Spending in 2013

Carlfred Giles - Friday, January 25, 2013

 

 

 97% of small businesses plan to increase spending (68%) or spend the same amount (29%) on marketing in 2013.
Increased Marketing Spending is Planned by Majority of Small Businesses In 2013

Results from a recent survey found that a majority of small businesses plan to increase their marketing spending in 2013 (68%), and 29% plan to spend the same amount. And, the results reveal that along with an increase in spending, small businesses will, naturally, increase their use of many marketing channels. The marketing channel that small businesses intend to increase their use of the most is e-mail, with 85% of those small businesses that responded indicating that they plan to increase their use of e-mail as a marketing channel. Other channels that small businesses plan to increase their use of include: their business website (74%), blogging (72%), Facebook (70%), online advertising (66%) and Twitter (58%). Given the decline of print media over the past decade, it is not too surprising that only 22% of the respondents indicated that they will increase their use of print advertising in the coming year.

How Much Time Do Small Businesses Currently Spend on Marketing Activities?

Currently, according to the survey results, nearly 25% of small businesses spend four or more hours per week on e-mail marketing, and more than 27% spend four or more hours marketing on Facebook (interestingly, 12.5% spend 7+ hours). For those small businesses that use their business website as a marketing channel, nearly 34% spend four or more hours per week working on their website. Marketing by blogging also takes four or more hours of time per week for nearly 30% of small business owners. However, Twitter is not such a time drain – of the small businesses that use Twitter for marketing purposes, more than half (52%) spend less than one hour on it per week, and less than 10% spend more than four hours using it per week. Who is spending this time? For 88% of the small businesses that responded to BizSite Solutions the Owner or CEO primarily fulfills the marketing function.

iPhone 5 in 12 hours

Chris Brown - Friday, October 26, 2012

Welcome to the Apple-headed side of BizSiteSolutions, here is our place to discuss things in and around the Cupertino universe, let us begin.

After a long waiting period of just over a month, I have finally received the new iPhone 5, as most commonly know it is incredibly lighter then the iPhone 4 that I have been lugging around for the last 2 1/2 years. Apple has touted many new features that have stacked more consumers towards this new device to the point that many economist believe apples new product could boost the economy in its own way. Throughout the year rumors have turned into fact and with new products new reviews and discussions start churning the internet for all the hungry eyes to feast and read, this review is no different and simply giving you a small insight into what some of you will go through in the first 12 hours of receiving your new "toy" (as my grandmother so easily put it).

THE BEGINING: 1-4 hours

Here is the part when you open the package like its Christmas and begin the setup of getting your old account switched into the phone, I was happy to discover that there is no need to go to any store for switching over your sim card. After several steps of activation setup, your old sim card will simply shut itself off as the new card takes over, be sure to back-up the phone to restore your data onto the new phone (from this point you can simply throw the old card away, leave it with the old phone incase whoever you sell it to does not have a one). If your selling your previous model like I have then erasing your old data from the previous phone is simple, go to settings>general>reset>reset all settings. Start playing with new phone!

1. Speed- fast is how will you will describe this to everyone. with the new more powerful processor this thing can load desktop pages faster then some laptops in safari (on wifi), iMessages flow even faster speeding up everything your doing. The only thing that felt slow was myself in trying to keep up with all the bells and whistles.

2. Screen- most everyone will discuss the new size but its such a subtle change that instead of saying "wow" you'll just say "oh that's nice", my favorite thing is how bright the screen has become. At only half the screen brightness compared to the same setting in the iPhone 4 it makes me question and check a few times if its really still at half or somehow jumped to full. In the morning once you wake up it can be a little to strong and make you blink a lot until your eyes can handle such power.

3. Lighting- the connector which was ported over from the iPod has finally been changed and creates a small desire to wish for the broad base of the 30 pin connector to comeback, but no matter what it things change so get used to it, sigh. It will offer no new speed in charging only difference is its size and simplicity with the ability to plug in without looking for where the front is.

4. Siri- she has received her 1st major update since public release as a beta, and she's finally getting stuff done. Sending text, launching apps, and answering what the meaning of life is, this not so young lady still gives a few issues in understanding a bass voice like mine but works great for most everything I ask her to do.

THE MIDDLE: 4-8 hours

by now you have gone through a lot of test and trials to see what all the hype is about in each crevice of the phone, but you also realize that a protective case is needed. Not a problem just give a nearby iPhone 5 reseller a call such as Radioshack, AT&T, Verizon etc. and pick something to your taste, after spending an extra 20-30 minutes letting everyone in the store play with the new device its time to head back home and get comfortable with your new phone.

1. Signing back in- now you have to remember all those passwords that you have created for the previous apps like mail, facebook, dropbox and so on. if you have saved content in iCloud then this may help some but I like to keep passwords in my head so regretfully I turned this option off awhile ago.

2. Ringtones & Music- for some odd reason I had to resort to manually reloading music back on and found out that my favorite text tone had disappeared so it was obviously time for a new one. For someone who has more then 12 gigs of music and counting this was not a quick process, think I stopped after 5 gigs of my most recent albums.

3. Selling the old phone- once the iPhone 5 was feeling comfortable and familiar I was ready to sell, called my friend made the exchange and gave him a short list of the features he was getting with his brand new used iPhone 4. once the feeling of nostalgia was over he had gone and it was just iPhone and me left to talk.

THE END: 8-12 hours

Its time to get ready for the next day so its time to put the phone down and sleep, but who can sleep with this new extension by your side, so let's take a few more minutes to go over what we may have missed.

1. Maps- the best way to describe this app is work in major progress, now that Google has been removed Apple has taken over and with a lot of kinks they have provided a new pill to swallow when going with Cupertino. while the new system isn't the worst in the world its a far cry from what was previously so accessible for the last 5 years. Apple is slowly fixing areas here and there and getting pins closer to the actual place but ask the public to help identify where they went wrong, eventually this will be on par with Google maps but until then just keep sending reports in.

2. Battery- still not fully tested simply because I have become to nervous to let it go down below 30% now that lighting has rendered my previous 3rd party cables useless. Once I have a few new cords and car charger then I will feel safer to let it drop into the red zone.

this all-in-one powerhouse has given this geek new places to explore and things to tinker with over the next couple days, so stay tuned for new updates in some of these mentioned categories and also some new ones as we travel this road together.

smartphone traffic to Ecommerce sites up 103 percent since 2011

Chris Brown - Tuesday, September 04, 2012

How important is mobile optimization to your ecommerce website? If going mobile isn't already one of your priorities this year, you might want to clear some space in your strategy for it. The following infographic, brought to us by the folks over at digital marketing technology company Monetate, highlights the impressive growth in traffic (103%!) from smartphones to leading ecommerce websites over the past year.

The infographic also calls attention to the battle for smartphone supremacy between Android and iPhone devices, both of which represent the most growth in smartphone-driven traffic to ecommerce sites. Furthermore, the graphic analyzes the various shopping activities of smartphone users as well as the mobile marketing tactics currently being used by marketers, with website mobile optimization topping the list at 46%, followed closely by mobile apps (45%), and trailed by mobile email optimization at 35%. Check it out!

Read more here

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How to Monitor Your Social Media Presence in 5 Easy Steps

Carlfred Giles - Thursday, August 18, 2011

Monitoring your social media presence is incredibly important - but many business owners and marketers are concerned it will take too much time.

You don't need a whole team devoted to social media monitoring - with some tools and these free tips, even one single person can keep an eye on your social media presence. Cover these 5 steps over a cup of coffee and you'll build social media into a healthy daily inbound marketing routine!

1) Check Twitter for chatter about your company ( 2 minutes ): Use tools like TweetDeck or Twitter Search to monitor conversations about your company in real-time.

2) Scan Google Alerts ( 1.5 minutes ): Check Google Alerts for your company name, products, executives or brand terms. To set this up, enter your search terms in a Google Alert and select to receive updates as they happen or once daily. Now, when people blog about your products, an alert will be sent to your inbox. You can read the articles and respond right away!

3) Check Facebook stats ( 1 minute ): Visit your Company Page's Faacebook Insights. This can be found under the page's main photo if you are an admin for your page. Scan your active users and interaction stats. Check out your wall posts or new discussions if you have them enabled for your page.

4) Answer Industry-related LinkedIn questions ( 3 minutes ): Search for questions on LinkedIn that you or members of your company can answer. You can set up an RSS feed for specific question categories to go to your Google Reader as well. When you find a relevant question, respond and include a link to your website or a relevant blog post that might be helpful to your audience.

5) Use Google Reader to check Flickr, Digg and others ( 2.5 minutes ): Also set up RSS feeds for searches on your company name and industry terms in other social media sites. Similar to monitoring LinkedIn and Twitter, your Reader will serve as a great place to centralize your other searches too!

10 Website Strategies for Entrepreneurs

Carlfred Giles - Wednesday, April 13, 2011

This article was originally published by Gregg Murray

The number of website strategies you need to implement for an effective online presence is a real head-spinner. I found it much easier to navigate once I created a list of the most important website strategies. Focus on these one or two at a time. As you do, you’ll find the process of creating or recreating your web presence much less stressful.

1. Simplicity
From the design of your website to the amount of content on the page, keeping things simple is one of the best things you can do to make life easier on yourself. A website with a clean design, simple navigation and ease of use is what will provide the safest solution to your web building dilemma. Not only will you save time, you’re also likely to save money. Even more importantly, your visitors will thank you.

Use my “Uncle Leo” test method to find out if your website is user-friendly enough to use. This is where you find the least technically-savvy person you know (I use Uncle Leo), have them go to your website, and ask them to find a specific piece of information or to take a certain action. If Uncle Leo can do it, then you know you’re on the right track. And that means you’ve done your job well. Here are a few more tips on keeping your website simple.

2. The Sales Funnel
Your website exists to help you build your business. By seeing your website as a potential sales funnel instead of just a flashy online brochure, you’ll generate more web leads and more opportunities for new business. The sales funnel process begins with driving potential customers to your site, keeping them there with a professional look and compelling content, inviting visitors to join your email list (throughout your site), and finally – following up with them to build trust, authority, and a bond. Once you have the sales funnel process incorporated into your website, you’ll find more potential customers reaching out to do business with you. Learn more about using your website as a sales funnel here.

3. Words That Connect
One of the most frequent mistakes I see solo-preneurs and entrepreneurs make is creating web copy that doesn’t connect with real people. This happens most often with us business and marketing folks over 40. We have a habit of taking our old media thoughts on copywriting and applying it to new media. In other words, we are more likely to keep things a bit stiff and stuffy instead of writing our web copy in a conversational tone. The Internet is the ultimate personal medium, and it’s important to keep the copy we feature on our website a bit more casual and conversational. If you can pull this off, your website visitors will feel more connected with you, and thus… BINGO… do more business with you. Here are some pointers on creating website copy that connects with your audience.

4. Make SEO Easy
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the key to being found online. Problem is, there’s information overload. People write books (really, really long books) getting into all the minutia of getting ranked higher in Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. The good news is that the 80/20 rule plays out big time with SEO strategies, and that means there are just a few things you need to do to achieve higher search rankings. This includes making sure your keywords are incorporated in your page title and your page description and are scattered at a 3-5% ratio throughout your web page. And if you’re targeting locally, always incorporate your city or town name as one of your primary keywords. Finally, take every opportunity to have your website linked to from other websites (and the bigger the better). Do just these items and your search ranking will make a huge leap. Need some pointers on SEO? Check out this free SEO lesson.

5. A Touch of Email Marketing
Emailing your clients and prospects is a dance of moderation. Send your peeps more email then they expect and they’ll leave you. Don’t email often enough and they’ll forget about you. So, what’s the right mix? For most entrepreneurs, once to twice a month is usually the sweet spot. Just remember that the key is to always provide helpful information up front in your emails and keep the pitch as secondary. If you do want to send a specific pitch to your email list, never do it twice in a row. A little bit of moderation will go a long way. Learn more about maximizing your email marketing.

6. Get Social
Without exception, I can’t think of a single business that won’t benefit from incorporating social media into their website strategy. The big three are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Facebook is perfect for most small businesses, especially when you’re wanting to reach a local audience. Twitter is excellent for connecting with those that spend more time than most online. And LinkedIn is a great connection tool for any business professional. Pick one. You’ll love it… It’s easy, and it’s free. Get more out of your social media with this guide.

7. Blogs Required
You gotta’ have a blog built into your website. A blog allows you to easily create single page posts about events, specials, tips, and company information to your website visitors. Not only do you get the benefit of keeping your website content fresh, you are also creating new content that search engines are on the lookout for. It’s a big win-win. A blog post every week is great for entrepreneurs, but once every two weeks or even once a month will still serve you well. Learn more about business blogging here.

8. Google Tools
If you don’t have a Google account, get one, it’s free. Yes, you’ll have to get a Google email address, but you don’t have to use it, except as your login name to get the other free Google goodies. Once you have a Google account, you can access some super important free tools that will help increase your website traffic. My faves include Google Places, Google Analytics, and Google Webmaster Tools. Even if you don’t know how to use these tools yet, go get your free Google account now, so you’ll be able to incorporate them soon.

9. Staying Connected
The biggest problem those of us have that already have a solid website is staying connected with our website visitors and those that are on our email list. The best advice I can give you is to always stay connected enough so that you’re not forgotten. That comes back to creating new and engaging blog post content several times a month and distributing great email content several times a month as well. I can’t tell you how often I’ve received a new and repeat business because I always find a way to stay in touch with my clients and prospects every 2-3 weeks. And with the quick access of Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin, you can stay in touch with your social networking audience in no time as well.

10. Managing the Madness
Once the website is done, the email marketing is rolling, the blog is being updated, and the social media is in place, you have to manage the beast. Don’t beat yourself up. The secret to managing your website and online presence is “chunking.” That means instead of going to your website several times a week to do little things that can wait, keep a list and do it all at once as needed. My list every week usually has 3-5 things I may want to update. When I do them all at once, it saves my time and gives me more peace of mind… and those are two things no website owner wants to be without.

About the Author:
Gregg Murray is an award-winning website consultant, online marketing manager, and certified SEO. He is the author of Website Blueprint: The Beginners Guide for Small Business Owners and director of Website Elementary, an online home-study course for newbies. For more free website help, download Gregg’s Small Business Website Checklist.


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