Google Places (Maps) update for businesses

Bring in paying customersI just thought I’d warn you about something that at first may seem like a scam but it would be really useful to take advantage of. Google may call you about taking some pictures of the inside of your business for free.

This is an expansion of a program Google started promoting in May. Like they did with Street View, Google will likely start in the bigger cities and work their way to the more rural areas.

Why is this useful? Images will only bring in more interested customers who are ready to buy, since they’ve already seen something they like in the pictures and were motivated to come in.

The best part is that you don’t need to wait on Google to do this. You can take pictures yourself and freely post them to your own listing – though you are limited to ten pictures in the listing itself and one should probably be your logo. (Other Google accounts can be used to upload more photos for you.)

And you don’t need to be a business with a storefront to take advantage of this. Construction trades and artists can post pictures of finished work, for example. Pictures can only help no matter what industry you’re in.

If you don’t have a Google Places listing for your business and you’d like to, let us know and we’ll help get you set up for a reasonable fee. This is also a good time to get more pictures up on your website and we can help you with this, as well.

Good Reasons For you To Have A Business Website

Here are five good ones which all go toward the common theme of YOU NEED ONE.

Ahem. Your website is your online presence. That’s how your business gets found and researched. If you want your website to help you, you can’t set up something half-finished and you can’t set it up and abandon it.

Customers expect to find you active at your shop, so to speak. If the shop is closed or they can’t find it, they won’t seek you out in real life. Likewise, if your website is dead then your business looks dead.

Don’t take my word for it. Ask your customers if they would like you to have or improve your website.

The Deal With Daily Deals

Save With Coupons and Deals
There’s a lot of talk about the decline of Daily Deals. Google is the only big one pushing forward confidently.

Facebook canceled their deals program. Yelp thinks it might be an unsustainable business. Groupon has had a lot of bad press lately, is losing in China and is attacking Living Social.

Businesses have been hoping for a Deal to drive traffic to them. But businesses need to work to take advantage of the traffic. They can’t offer the same deal repeatedly and expect to turn a profit.

But Daily Deals are still in demand. People are out of work and looking for ways to cut expenses.

That’s the deal.

Business Webdesign Updates

What do businesses need to know about websites and webdesign?

This link is a slightly technical discussion about what Google’s Panda program now requires from websites. You could summarize by saying that you have to use and promote your website, improve it and measure its effectiveness.

I had a website built a few years ago, so I should still be good.
The days are gone when you can have a website that simply acts as your online brochure. Searchers won’t even be able to find it. Your website needs to be active; alive. And if it’s not changing periodically, it’s dead. And not interesting to visit.

Plus, you probably didn’t truly consider details like color in the last redesign. You probably used your logo colors or your interior wall colors. Do those colors represent what you do now? It’s pretty important. That’s why you’ll see big companies like Starbucks change things every few years.

Having a website is too expensive and too much work…
You’ll see people driving to your competitor up the street because you are digitally invisible. Walk down the sidewalk and look in other car windows. People aren’t looking at your sign, they are looking down at their phones and tablets.

Can’t I just have a Facebook Business page?
You might be able to kludge along for awhile but the format is limited. You can’t always do what you could do with your own website. Plus, Facebook changes things without warning AND is known to shut down accounts without notification or proof. So far, Google + seems like it will be better but it’s not a website replacement, either. You also can’t call anyone at Facebook or Google with a problem like you can if you have a web designer build a site for you.

This is not to say you shouldn’t ALSO be on Facebook or Twitter or YouTube and Google +, but it’s probably not the best idea to put all your online efforts into one basket. What if your only website had been a MySpace page, which was considering a shut down just six months ago?

We already have this phone app…
Apps can have useful features but again, the format is limited. By all means, have an app but you need to be able to provide large volumes of information to new customers and an app isn’t robust enough. Use the app for what it’s good for.

But I got ripped off last time I had a website done…
That might be true. You’ll just have to choose someone better this time, so do the research. Look at nearby business websites and see which ones you like. Find out who made those and ask what the experience was like in working with them. Look at their portfolio, call them and see what they can do for you.

A word of caution
Being cheap will not get you the kind of website you need. You might also not need the luxury model, but the more features and pictures and things you need, the more it will likely cost. Don’t skimp on what you need. Things like built-in SEO are not optional. They are vital, more now than ever.

Be leary of a website design company that charges extra for SEO work in the design of the website. That should be part of the design process, not an extra tacked on. To be effective, SEO should be part of the paint, the furniture and the frame of your website.