Local Marketing News, Views and Tips
Apple may well have the claim of being the largest company in history (so far) but when it comes to mapping, their Apple Maps product is still seen as second best to that of Google. Over the past few months however Apple have been taking steps to shift that perception.
Initially Apple Maps was powered by Google Maps but then in September 2012 they released the first version based on their own mapping data. Reaction to the app was so bad that it prompted an open letter response from Apple’s CEO Tim Cook. A lot has happened since then and the app has been steadily improving. In October 2014 they launched Apple Maps Connect in the US and towards the end of last week they finally rolled it out here in the UK along with Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Singapore. Apple Maps Connect is “intended for small business owners or their authorized representatives (though not agencies) to be able to quickly and easily add content directly into Apple Maps.”
Why claim your business listing on Apple Maps
Apple currently has
just over 32% 45% of the UK smartphone market (updated 27th Jan 2016) and more than 50% of the tablet market. On each of those Apple devices Apple Maps is the standard installed app for maps. Even though folks may well add Google Maps it’s clear that Apple’s own maps app is seeing increased usage. Just like local business owners should claim their listing on Google My Business the same is also true for Apple Maps.
Data for Apple Maps is likely coming from a few different sources and here in the UK the primary one is Yelp. Other providers are Factual and TomTom, with Axciom and OpenStreetMaps also believed to be potential sources. Taking control of your listing on Apple Maps will help but it’s also highly recommended that you check out those additional sites and make sure everything is correct and up to date.
Before you get started it’s important to note that in the FAQ’s there is the following statement about eligible businesses:
We currently only accept businesses whose customers visit them and where we can confirm a physical presence. Businesses that may not be approved include: businesses operating from residential homes, businesses with temporary locations (including real-estate for sale) or without a physical address, mobile businesses, or businesses that have not yet opened for business.
Once you’re happy that your business complies with that statement then you’re ready to move on.
Steps to find and claim your business on Apple Maps
First step is head to this URL https://mapsconnect.apple.com/ and log in with your Apple ID and password. If you don’t already have one then you will need to create one. Click on “View My Businesses” and then the +Add button top right and you’ll see the next screen below. Enter your business name and location then click the search button. If your business isn’t found then you can click on the “Add New Business” link and follow the simple instructions from there.
If your business is found then click on the blue “Claim This Business” button and proceed from there. This may trigger the verify by phone pop up to display but you can click on “Not Now” if you choose and come back to that in a few minutes.
Complete all necessary business information, correct the location of your map marker and choose up to 3 categories. If you get stuck on these then here’s a great list you can check out (thanks Phil). Make sure your correct opening hours are showing and then add your company website along with your Twitter, Facebook and Yelp URL’s.
When you’re all set you’ll get an opportunity to check all the details and then just click “Submit to Apple” which will trigger the phone verification. The call is instant and will go to the number on the listing, so be prepared!
There’s a review period while the folks at Apple check and verify your data and then your listing should get updated. There are some helpful FAQ’s on the Apple Maps Connect site so if you get stuck please do refer to those.
If you haven’t already looked into claiming and verifying your listing then please do make it a priority. It will take you all of 10 minutes and will help to ensure that your information on Apple Maps is correct. Then you can be confident that any potential customers will be calling the right phone number and will be able to find your location.
A couple of months ago Twitter gradually rolled out a new interface to its users in an attempt to make it more intuitive and increase user engagement. This article will look at the changes Twitter have made and how your business can benefit from it.
New Twitter Cover Photo
Twitter have dramatically enlarged the cover photos so they now take up the entire width of the screen and not just a few inches. This may not strike you as a core change, but increasing the cover photo for profiles, means you instantly have more visual engagement.
How To Use It
One of the key factors of any marketing campaign is visibility, and in this case it is quite literal. This now means you have a fantastic way of getting your logo and name out there. Be sure to have a quality and professional badge or image you can upload and always ensure it’s 100% relevant to your brand. If it’s not, people wont understand the reason it’s there and will not take you as seriously. This will be the first thing people see, be sure to harness the power of visual marketing by uploading your brand image.
New Twitter now has tab options for features such as Tweets, photos and videos, favourite tweets, who you are following, who follows you and lists. Before, you were left to navigate a profile with some of these features more difficult to find. For example, the option to see photos was not established as it is now, rather all images and videos clumped together in box to the side.
How To Use It
It is now easier than ever to locate the features you want on Twitter profiles. It saves you time, it’s uncluttered and intuitive. Not only does it allow you to streamline your social media use, but also means anyone looking at your profile will find exactly what they need. Be sure to only tweet relevant content, as this will be seen instantly and impact on impressions. The same applies when uploading images and photos, make them relevant, though remember an odd image of your team having lunch or at events can help break the fourth wall.
With lists, make sure that you only create ones that you want people to see. They are a great way of networking and increasing your feed, but only when used correctly. If people see you creating lists that are irrelevant, they may question your integrity.
You can now easily see which tweets you have favourited. Be sure to favourite only good content that you are happy for others to see you support or enjoy. This is a great way of promoting content, if you thought it good enough to favourite, others will pay attention which is why it’s important to select good content to share here.
New Twitter now allows each user to “pin” tweets to the top of their profile so they are highlighted and emphasised.
How To Use It
This is a fantastic way of getting content seen on your profile. By “pinning” the most important tweets to the top of your page they remain dominant and thus receive increased views. Be sure to pin tweets with links you want your users to see. Maybe it’s news about your business, investment, a webinar you’re hosting, a sale. Anything that your customers need to know about should be pinned to ensure it gets maximum coverage.
NB: you can pin tweets once they are live by clicking on the “…” option at the bottom of the tweet and then “Pin Tweet”.
This is the recorded YouTube video and full transcript from a Hangout On Air covering Google My Business and what it all means to small business owners and brands. Here are the full cast and credits, followed by the video and transcript:
Hosted by: The Great British Hangout
Host: Kath Dawson of Strategy Digital, a digital marketing agency based in Bristol
Host: Peter Lunn from Cracking Media, a digital marketing services company in Bournemouth
Guests: Donna Beckett from Beckett & Co Solicitors and myself
Kath: Good evening. Welcome to The Great British Hangout. Our topic tonight is how to Google your business. Google Maps, Google Places, Google Local, brand pages, local pages and now Google My Business. It’s very confusing which pages you need for your business. Tonight, we’re going to clarify it all. What we’d like to do tonight is get some outcomes for you guys who are watching. What we’re hoping to achieve is that you’re going to be very clear about what is the best setup for your business. We want you to be confident about what you need to do to sort it out or we want you to be reassured that you have it right because you might have it right.
Before I introduce our guests, I’d like to check in with Peter who’s my glamorous assistant this evening and he’s going to be doing the comment wrangling. Peter, how’s it going?
Peter: Good, Kath. Thank you very much. Yeah, we’ve all been sitting here trying to keep cool I think. It’s been a very hot day. As guests we have you around the world. In fact it might be worth saying where you are in the world. If you’re in the comment stream, just tell us where you in the world. Tell us the temperatures and the weather where you are today so we got a weather check as well, so extra value from The Great British Hangout tonight. (more…)
Social media is a must for any business who wishes to remain relevant and engaged in today’s modern and technological world. Being connected to various social platforms helps increase engagement, but what you post, when you post it and how, are just as important as where you post it. Being able to appear active around the clock online, even when you’re away from the computer, isn’t as hard as it sounds.
There are various apps which allow you to schedule content to social networks. One of the leading ones is Buffer. This tool is purpose built to be a scheduling and sharing app. All you have to do is connect your social profiles, “Buffer” the links you wish to post out, and away you go!
To sign up for an account, click on the “Log in with email” option:
Complete the email and password boxes and then click “Create Account”:
Once you have registered, you will be greeted by a choice of option plans. Click the option which would best suits your needs. Be aware that the individual user option is free, whilst the other two are paid but offer more features. You can always opt for a free trial before committing to a paid plan.
Once set up on a plan, you must add your social networks. You can do this by simply following the links on offer and authorising your networks:
NB: you can choose to add just a Facebook page rather than a personal account if you prefer. Click the option under the Facebook Profile box. You can also add more profiles such as LinkedIn, Instagram or a Pinterest profile by clicking on the “Manage Social Accounts” button in the bottom right corner of the screen:
Buffer is all about scheduling content at key times, so it’s important you set your profile up correctly. To set up your schedule click on “Settings” then “Posting Schedule”. Make sure that you’ve got the correct timezone set by filling in the “Timezone” box box. For example, type in “London – Europe”.
From there, you can select the days which you would like your scheduled content to go out on. For example, the photo above would indicate that content is to be scheduled for every day at both 8:03am and 4:15pm. You can select as many times per day as you like. These times will go out for all your selected days. Be sure you choose times which are most relevant to your audience.
It’s all very well to have your dates and times set up to post, but now you need content to share! Be sure to add the Buffer extension button to your internet tool bar. This is the simplest way of Buffering. Once you have found something you think is worth sharing, simply click on the extension button whilst on the page you wish to share, and then select the social network you want to share it to and select where in the queue you want it to go:
You can always change the order your posts go out by managing them in the “Content” section of the tool bar:
You can drag and drop content into the order you want it to published, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can shuffle content into a random order.
Buffer comes complete with very basic analytics, even for the free plan. You can see how many people have clicked on your links for each network you publish to. This way, you can test which time gains you most engagement and always be sure to take advantage of it when scheduling future updates.
Being active on social is very important for businesses and individuals alike. Being able to appear socially active, even if you’re away from technology, means you are able to encourage more engagement and increase your audience and/or consumer base. Buffer is a brilliantly simple tool for ensuring you post regularly and around the clock at times which are tailored to your businesses needs.
Not so long ago, marketers could rank a website at the top of the search engines simply by stuffing it full of HTML meta tags. Once this loophole was closed, marketers realised that creating over-optimised pages and throwing tons of links at them achieved the same result. Once this loophole was closed, marketers began to experiment with rich snippets and data markup and attempt to boost their rankings through false social proof.
For as long as the search engines have existed, there have been marketers who have attempted to game the results. Meta tags and meta fields have always been one piece of a large algorithmic puzzle and over the years, much like all elements of a website that can be used to manipulate rankings, they have helped websites generate millions of sales.
But are they relevant in 2014?
Let’s take a look.
What are meta tags?
Meta tags are website descriptors. They are lines of code and text which lie between the open and closing <head> tags in a HTML document. This content is not visible to the average website visitor and it is not located on the front-end of a website. Instead, meta tags are located in the code of a website and unless a human is looking for them, only the search engines will see them.
The basic aim of a meta tag is to explain to the search engines what a page is about.
If you are clued up on SEO, you’ll likely know the words ‘page title’ better than ‘title tag’. Contrary to belief, the page title is not a meta tag. The W3C define the title tag as a required element of a page, whereas it defines meta tags as optional page descriptors.
Even though by definition the page title is not a meta tag, it is often edited alongside the meta description and meta keywords. As such, among most marketers, the title tag is a form of meta tag.
Is it a ranking factor?
The page title is still an important ranking factor to Google and all other search engines. It is among the first criteria a search engine looks at when loading a page and it is critical to explaining to the search engines what a page is about.
To Google, a meta description will look like:
<meta name=”description” content=”Jet Skis Emporium is an online store dedicated to offering the best prices on jet ski equipment. Check us out today. “>
A website meta description is what shows up as the synopsis for a page in the search results (shown above). Marketers only have 156 characters to describe the web page (Google only shows the first 156 characters) and so it is critical that a meta description includes all of the relevant and valuable information a searcher will be looking for.
Is it a ranking factor?
The meta description is not a ranking factor for Google. Google does not count the meta description toward your rankings. However, the meta description is still a very important part of website optimisation as it is your sales pitch to searchers. It needs to sell to the searcher and get them to click through to your website.
Meta keyword tag
Meta keyword tags are still common on websites and there are millions of businesses out there that have stuffed their keyword field with tens or even hundreds of tags. However up to date marketers know that the meta keyword tag is not an important part of search engine optimisation and as such, most online strategies do not involve them.
Is it a ranking factor?
The meta keyword tag is defunct to all major search engines and it is not a ranking factor. They used to point out what keywords a website was targeting for Google but a combination of manipulation and poor search quality resulted in the meta keyword tag being stripped of any power. If your website currently uses meta keyword tags, you can leave them in, because whilst they won’t help your website rank they won’t harm it either. The only people that look at them these days would be your competitor’s SEO company.