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Google Changed Reviews – Again!

It never seems to end, does it? Nowadays, I feel like Google changes things just to keep us on our toes and see who will respond. Almost like when the bad guy in an old cowboy movie shoots at the other guy’s feet to make him “dance.”
Well, I’ll tell you what’s happened and what you can do about it. Read on!

They Took Away My REVIEWS!

A recent development in the world of Google Reviews is that from time to time they will do an “audit” of what’s been posted on your account. What does that mean? Well, you might see a dozen or so of your precious 5-star reviews drop off the list over the course of a few days.
I know what you’re thinking – “That’s not fair! They’re MY reviews! I worked hard for them!” You’re absolutely right. BUT, from time to time, “The Google giveth, and The Google taketh away.” They will go comb through your reviews and remove any that seem to be less legitimately worded or may reflect a conflict of interest.

Another Theory

It’s possible that some of your reviews are getting flagged by competitors, which can cause Google to go through and take a closer look at them. But if a competitor is worried enough to be taking the time to do so, that’s probably a good thing for you!

What You Should Do

If it were me seeing some of my reviews disappear for a while, I would take a step back from actively requesting them or promoting them – at least on Google. This could be a great opportunity for you to try to get more Facebook or Yelp reviews. If you’re promoting them with customers, you can even tell them that Google is being funny at the moment and you’d love it if they’d help you build up your reputation on the other sites.

Reviews on Desktop vs. Mobile:

Another recent change to Google Reviews is that you can no-longer just have one link that works for mobile & desktop (at least, not that I’ve been able to find). Instead of just doing the method I describe here, I’d recommend doing two of them.

Here’s what you have to do:

The desktop method works the same as it always has, but the link you get from a computer will only work on a computer to take customers where they need to simply type the review.

To create a link that works on mobile, you’ll have to collect the link on a mobile device. What that means is that you need to follow this process.

1) Search for your franchise by name in your mobile web browser (Usually Safari for iPhones or Chrome for Android devices). It may be helpful to also type the city you’re located in.

2) When you see your Google listing, tap on “Reviews”. This is where things get different for iPhone vs Android.

iPhone: Tap the “Share” icon at the bottom of your screen. It looks like a box with an upward arrow coming out of it. On the resulting menu, select “Copy”. Then go to your e-mail app and paste that link into an email to yourself. Once you have that link, you can follow the process I linked above on your computer to create your mobile link.

Android: When you’re looking at the Reviews screen for your listing, tap the address bar at the top of your screen. With the LONG web address highlighted (probably in blue), hold your finger on the link and select “Copy” from the menu. Then go to your e-mail app and paste that link into an email to yourself. Once you have that link, you can follow the process I linked above on your computer to create your mobile link.

3) When you create the link on Bitly like I show you in the linked post above, make sure you notate which link is for desktop and which one is for mobile. You could just add an extra “m” to the end of it so you know. Or you could do something like “http://bit.ly/NoUTChemDryMobile.

Big Takeaway:

Online Reviews are going to continue to be an integral part of your business success, but you may have to adjust as the process shifts.

  1. Don’t freak out if your Google Reviews disappear. Focus on Facebook or Yelp until things settle out.
  2. Make sure you get your desktop version of your Google Reviews link.
  3. Follow the steps to create a mobile link that you can send to customers via text message.
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Clean For Their Health, Darn It!

Clean For Their Health

It’s that time of year again. Seems like everyone is getting sick. All kinds of bugs being passed around. And, since my life revolves around Chem-Dry, I got to thinking about what our franchises could do to capitalize on the plight of their ailing consumers. Here we go!

Look for Sick-O’s

No, not in the traditional meaning of the term. Target specific words that would indicate a customer’s need to avoid illness. Often, those searches are made out of an immediate need. So, when Mrs. Jones types “cleaning vomit from carpet”, “cleaning after the flu” or “keeping my family healthy during the winter” (or something along those lines), you show up waving a banner telling them that you can remove 89% of airborne bacteria from their home, offering a healthier cold & flu season!

Go Tell It On the Mountain

Okay, maybe I’ve been listening to too much Christmas music already, but every single one of your past customers should know what you’re offering this winter. Mail them. E-mail them. Text them. Call them. Do whatever, but they need to hear from you. Not only that, think about this: would you throw in half-priced (or even free!) sanitizer for a long-time customer in order to fill your schedule in January? I would!
Your messaging to your customers should be so prolific that it’s as if you’re shouting from the rooftops!

Your Best Advertisers

Along the same lines, why not turn your customers into the best advertising you can do? Ask them to share with their neighbors! Their neighbors can get the same great prices and you get the benefit of a new customer. Again, would you sacrifice some margin in order to fill your schedule while there’s snow on the ground?
Maybe consider a postcard with a tear-away section that Mrs. Jones can pass to Mrs. Smith to get her to call when her little Jimmy gets sick (because we know how those bugs go from house to house).
Big Takeaway:
You’re part of a brand that totes “Drier. Cleaner. Healthier.” as its tagline. You should stand out against the competition during the cold & flu season as the healthier option.
  1. In search advertising, focus on the healthy message. Find people who are searching for very specific help.
  2. Shout your message from the rooftops to anyone who will listen – especially your past customers.
  3. Get your best customers to share your specialty when their friends and family get sick. Everyone wins!
If you’d like help putting together a campaign for this cold/flu season, or just want to show me what you’ve done, click here to schedule a 30-minute coaching call with me. Otherwise, you can simply reply to this e-mail or call me directly at 435-890-1055.
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An Update on Google Local Services Ads

Adobe Spark (28)The Latest from Google Local Services

Some of you may remember a while back I mentioned the advent of a new project from Google called “Home Services Ads”. While there’s always something new coming from the wonderland of Googledom, everything about the program tells me that these ads will be a game-changer for businesses within the home services industry.

They are Google-backed promotion for service companies that get top-of-the-page exposure with a little seal showing that Google has reviewed the business and given their “approval” (which I think will add a lot of value in the eyes of most consumers).

Now, this poses an opportunity for Chem-Dry franchise owners. Here’s why:

Here’s What We Know

Lots of this information is still forthcoming, and since Google isn’t running ads for the carpet-cleaning industry (yet), we don’t have a lot of insider info. But here’s what you can expect according to my research.

Pay-Per-Lead (Not Pay-Per-Click):

Google is running this program in such a way that you pay for the lead you get rather than the click. Meaning, that you don’t pay unless the person who made the search makes some sort of effort to get in touch with you. Usually, this will mean a phone call from a mobile device, but it could also mean sending you a message, or filling out a form. In order to charge you, Google’s going to have to determine that the customer “converted” in some way. In other words, they called, messaged, etc.

Physical Location:

As far as we know, Google is going to require some sort of verification of your physical business location. Even as a service area business (they use the acronym “SAB”), they will require that you have a publicly listed location with signage that you can verify either via video chat or with street view on Google Maps. This may pose a challenge for many of you, because many Chem-Dry’s will operate out of their homes and choose not to disclose their actual location. The address you list cannot be a hired mailbox or UPS store. It has to be somewhere that people could physically drive (or walk) to in order to contact you. So, you may want to consider showing your physical location anyway because this, I think, will be the single biggest hurdle to participation on a large scale. However, I think the change will be worthwhile.

Reviews:

Google will be using the quantity and quality of your business reviews to calculate not only your display ranking (it’s not the only factor), but also the cost you pay for each lead. So make sure you’re getting reviews!!

Background Checks:

Another cool aspect (but not really a problem for many franchise owners) will be how Google runs their security and background checks on businesses. If they’re going to put their stamp of approval on your business, you can bet that they’re not going to do it casually. Google plans on conducting background checks on anyone that will be stepping foot inside a customer’s home at any time. They will be conducting the background checks with their own agency, but you can expect that to take place in order to participate in the program. This will help to keep low-performing competition out of the running.

What You Can Do

I think Google has been pretty careful in vetting this program. Right now, their plan is to roll this out to at least 30 major metro areas by the end of this year. So far, they’ve been focused primarily on west coast cities like Seattle, San Francisco, LA, San Diego, etc. However, I’d expect them to be coming to places like Denver, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Miami, Nashville, Detroit, Las Vegas, and others. (*Note: These are not confirmed locations, but my estimate of where they’ll be heading next).

Since carpet cleaning is not a service they’re catering to (yet), one of the best things you can do if you’re interested in helping us get Chem-Dry into this service is to click the button below and fill out your business information, making a request for Carpet Cleaning to be added and getting your name on the list for admission into the program.

Tell Google I Want In

Once you’ve done that, make sure you’re getting reviews! Even if you’re not planning on participating, or it won’t be immediately available in your area, the more (good reviews) the better!

Big Takeaway:

Google Local Services ads could be an absolute game changer. Do your best to be up to speed and ready for them.

  1. Fill out the form and get your name on the list.
  2. Start collecting reviews on Google.
  3. Keep any eye out for more news coming soon!

If you’d like help click here to schedule a 30-minute coaching call with me. Otherwise, you can simply reply to this e-mail or call me directly at 435-890-1055.

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Free Ads When You Start PPC

Adobe Spark (8)

Yes, you read that correctly. No, this isn’t a sales pitch. At least, not really.

Google has started doing something that I think you PPC fence-sitters will be interested in.

The Details:

Okay, I’ve seen on numerous accounts that when you start using some Google services like Google My Business, Analytics, or AdWords, they have been offering an incentive of varying amounts (they’re probably doing their due diligence as marketers and trying different offers – just like you would). These offers range anywhere from $75 to $150 depending on how much you’re willing to spend with them.

One of my favorite offers I’ve seen is that you get a $150 AdWords credit when you spend $150, thus doubling the money you put down on it.

$150 AdWords Credit

(Don’t try to use the code in the image, it won’t work. It’s expired.)

At any rate, for any of you who may have been hesitant to try out AdWords because of the cost, here’s your chance.

“But What If I’m Already…?”

Some of you may be thinking, “But that’s not fair! I’ve already been using PPC for finding new customers!”

Well, to you, I would say “You already won.” That’s right. You’ve been enjoying the benefits of having more customers, who call more often, and spend more money (see what I did there?).

Others may be wondering how this works for vendors who handle PPC for Chem-Dry franchises. The answer is “it depends”. Vendors have varying relationships with Google, so some of them may already have an even sweeter deal worked out for you. So, the bottom line is, make a phone call to a vendor to see what they can offer. If you’d like some help figuring out who to talk to, schedule a coaching call with me below and I’d be happy to work with you.

Big Takeaway:

If you haven’t gotten on the PPC bandwagon yet, NOW IS THE TIME!
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What to Do When You’re Getting Out-Bid

auction (1)-3

Some of you might remember a little while back when I talked about PPC Done Right. In that series of articles, I talked about a little-known metric in PPC called “Impression Share”. It helps you keep a pulse on how well your campaigns are doing for your budget. But, as you know, sometimes a competitor comes along and starts spending inordinate amounts of money to try and drown you out.

Here’s how to know when it’s happened and some options of what you should do about it.

How You Know It’s Happened

If you’re paying attention to the performance of your campaigns (which, you should at least be getting a monthly report from your vendor), there are some key metrics you’ll keep an eye on like Cost-Per-Click (CPC), Click-Through-Rate (CTR), and conversions. But one of the best metrics to watch as a barometer for your campaigns is Impression Share.

impression-share-sunnyreports

Impression share is a measurement of how often your ad shows up compared to all the relevant searches when it could have shown up. For instance, let’s say that there are 10,000 monthly searches in a particular category for your area. If your ad(s) show up 6,500 times, you have a 65% impression share.

Now, remember that every time a search occurs, your ad will go into an auction that determines whether or not your ad will show based on how much you’re willing to pay, the content of your ad, the website you’re sending it to, etc., etc. There are tons of factors. The higher your impression share, the more often you are showing up and the more likely you are to get clicks and people to your website.

HOWEVER, what if you’ve been trolling along at around 85% impression share for a while (that’s a GREAT I.S. score), and you see it take a sudden nose dive? One of two things are likely to blame:

  1. That search all of a sudden became incredibly popular and you blew through your budget quickly for that day, thus missing opportunities to advertise later on.
  2. (The more likely option) A competitor came in and spend a boatload of money on advertising trying to drown you out.

What do you do then?

Focus In On Relevance

If an sudden surge in popularity is to blame, thank your lucky stars and simply increase your budget. It’s time to make hay while the sun shines!

Adobe Spark (7)

If you owe your sudden dip to a competitor, don’t panic! You have three options. You can:

  1. Increase your own budget to try and duke it out.
  2. Simply wait out the storm counting on their pace to be unsustainable.
  3. (The best option) Focus in on what is most relevant to your business.

Here’s what I mean by “focus”. If a competitor is impacting your impression share, that means they’re going after the same customer searches that you are. BUT, you have advantages that they don’t. For instance:

  • Your Name. While there may not be a TON of customers that will search for your business by name, your competitor is almost certainly going after them. But since Google gauges the relevance of your ad to the search, you have the upper hand. Your business is much more relevant to your name than your competitor’s is.
  • Your Brand. Like your name, a competitor is going to have a harder time showing up as well as you do for “branded” searches like “Chem-Dry”. If you have a ChemDry.com premium listing, consider sending some ads to your premium page to leverage its domain authority.
    • Example: For both your name and your brand, you may have your vendor shift focus away from bidding on generic search terms like “carpet cleaning” and increase your bids on “phrase match” and “exact match” keywords involving your name and brand.
  • Focus on Value. Chances are, your competitor is going to be very price-focused. You know that price-shoppers don’t become loyal customers. Google’s very good at determining when a customer is focused on price vs value, and you want the latter. Mention the advantages of using you over the other guy in your ads. Just like Apple, BMW, and Nike, people are willing to pay a bit more when they understand the advantages.
    • Example: I would advise against advertising prices in your ads. If you do, don’t low-ball the prices. Make sure they’re competitive, but try to show the value of your service.

In general, if PPC starts getting more expensive, don’t freak out! It happens from time to time. It may just be time for you to refocus and adjust.

Big Takeaway:

Competition will come and go. But your business will stand the test of time if you keep your head and take the correct actions. Keep your head and:

  1. Increase your budget if you’re able to compete with newcomers.
  2. Recognize that a small disruption is not the end of the world. You may be able to stick it out.
  3. Focus in on what you’re best at. Advertising to what is most relevant and your competitive advantages will get you more bang for your buck.
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Getting Ready for Google Home Service Ads

Adobe Spark (1)

Once again, Google is changing the game. But this time, it definitely changes in our favor.

Google has recognized its relative “weakness” in helping independently owned and operated local service area businesses show up more prominently than the national behemoths. However, as always, we have to be willing to play their game – again.

What’s Happened?

google-home-services-ads-mobile-11-21-16

Google has announced that they are moving forward with testing in major cities with a new platform for service-based businesses called Google Home Service ads. They’re an extension of their ever-popular AdWords platform, but there are some extra criteria that have to be met in order to participate.

Since each of these ads will have “Google Guaranteed” on them (see the picture), you can bet that you’ll have to jump through a few hoops to earn the green badge.

Google hasn’t released all the details yet on how you’ll get the “green stamp of approval”. So what can you do to get in on the action here? Well, I’ll do my best to keep you posted as the criteria are released, but let’s start with one of the foundations you should already be working on – Reviews.

 Getting Ready

Getting great reviews is not complicated. In fact, it’s easy and a GREAT way to influence your SEO.

But in this case, it seems to be one of the key drivers that will lead to your success in offer Google Home Services Ads.

The quantity and quality of your Google reviews will ultimately contribute the most weight to your listing.

Now, these ads will have a cost associated with them. Google doesn’t do just about anything for free (well, except these). BUT for relevant searches like “Chicago carpet cleaning”, you’ll show up at the very top of the page. Above other ads, map listings, and other websites. That’s POWERFUL.

I’m anticipating that they will run these home services ads much like their AdWords platform, which means the “bid” (amount you’re willing to pay) won’t be the key indicator they’re looking at. It’s going to come down to:

1) Who has the best and most reviews?

2) Who is going to be able to service the customer I give them the best or quickest?

Look at it as if Google is giving you a paid referral. The click on your ad is just a 2-5% cut that you send them as a “Thank-You”.

Big Takeaway:

Embrace the change coming your way and start preparing to get the exposure your business deserves.

  1. Be on the watch for updates as Google Home Services ads come to your area. Currently only serving large cities on the Pacific coast.
  2. Stay posted. I’ll share the qualification criteria as soon as it’s released.
  3. Get to work collecting reviews from customers that will boost your credibility on your future ads.