Where we share our insights about all things web design, development, and marketing.


Hello Google+ Local, Goodbye Google Places


Have you noticed the changes in Google Places? 

We told you before to make sure you get your Google Places listing  (Google Places info), to help your business show up higher in the search listings for local search. We told you to make sure you had control of your Google + Business Page. We hope you took note.

Google has done away with the regular Google Places pages and has fully integrated them with Google+ through Google Local. 

Here is what has changed- (in a nutshell)

1. The appearance of the listing is different. 

2. Google has replaced its star ratings with Zagat reviews rating scale.

3. The integration of Google + circles, reviews, and ratings.

So, why don’t we take a minute and look into a few of these and talk about what they mean for your business.

The appearance of the listing is different.

If you take a look at the screenshots below, you will see the first shows a search done without being signed into Google +. The first thing you will notice is the big red button saying Join Google+.  It still shows the basic info on the local listing: logo, address & contact info, what type of business, about the business, the Zagat score, and the reviews. You even have a link for directions, and a quick link to write a review. So pretty basic info and exactly what you would expect on a local listing. 




Now sign in to your Google account. – (if you don’t have one get one now its simple)



Once you log in the differences you see are the reasons behind the change from the plain old Google Places listing to the new enhanced Google+ Local. These changes are directed at the user so they can “share” more information with their circles. You have your basic Google + navigation along the left hand side- Home, Profile, Explore, Hangouts, Photos, Circles, Local, Games and more.  I can still see the logo, address, type of business, about the business, the Zagat score, the reviews, a link to write a review, and directions. But wait… I have more options. I can now +1 the page, share the page, and upload a public photo. That is right, as the user I have more control on how I can share information and my interaction with your business. 

So why does it matter?

Did you know that I can also search for restaurants in Google + and see a full list of where my circle of friends like to eat and why?  Well, I don’t know about you but I like to go where my friends go.  

Plus, and here is the biggie- Google + local pages will be INDEXED!!! Meaning there is a lot more potential for SEO. 

So in the end, if you have been trying to hold out and not get into the “social” aspect of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and all other social networking sites out and about, Google is officially forcing your hand. That’s right; even if you don’t have a Google Places or Google + page it will be created automatically for you. If you have been using Google + for your business you will be greatly rewarded, so don’t wait – get started now or call us for more info on how to get started. 


Tips for small business blogging

Are you blogging for your small business? If you have already started a business blog, you are on the right track, but how to you use it to its maximum potential? Follow these tips for a more successful business blog and you could help to improve your overall brand image and customer connection.

1.    Make your content shareable – and share it yourself

You want to make it easy for your readers to share your blog articles with others. If they read one of your blog posts and are impressed by it enough to share with their friends, you should give them the option to immediately share it on the most popular social networks as well as by email. You should also share your own posts on your business social networking pages to let people know there is a new article to read. You are more likely to get readers and followers that way too.

2.    Choose a good topic

Topic is key. People want something interesting to read. It is important to make sure that your articles have interesting and informative content that will catch the readers’ attention, while sticking to the focus of your business blog.

If you are out of ideas, try out some of these:

•    Company milestones
•    Answer customer questions
•    Write how-to articles related to your products/services
•    Featured customer/client
•    Compare your products or services
•    Announce new products or services
•    Give suggestions to your customers

3.    Be consistent

You want your articles to be relevant to your company, not about some random thing you saw on the internet that you liked. It is important to keep a consistent string throughout your posts that tie back to the reason you are writing blog articles for your business. It is also good to keep your tone consistent too. You may have multiple people writing articles for your blog, but make sure that they are written in similar form so that they come off consistent to readers.

4.    Use keywords

We can’t say this enough. Keywords should be in everything that you write for your business or website. This will be a major boost to your search engine rankings if you are using the right keywords. Posting blog articles to your website keeps your content updated, and search engines like new content. If you are unsure of what keywords to use, do some research first and come up with a list of general words to include in your articles.

These simple tips will help get you on the right track with your business blog. The more you do it, the more you will get the hang of it, and before you know it, you will be blogging like crazy.


A Guide to Email Marketing

One of the best marketing strategies to implement is email marketing. You can reach your customers directly with news, specials and deals, and other important information related to your business. If implemented correctly, an email marketing campaign can increase your business and sales, and help to engage your customers. The key is to know how and when to communicate with your customers so that your email marketing efforts are not wasted. If you have yet to launch an email marketing campaign, or even if you are in the middle of one, these simple steps can help you to get off on the right foot.

Define your objectives

  • Set expectations for your email marketing so that you have a clearly defined goal.
  • Create a calendar with upcoming promotions, events, and other information that you want to send out so that you keep it organized and spread out.

Create and organize your email lists

  • Announce that you will be sending email updates to get contacts to sign up for your list voluntarily.
  • Segment your lists to target certain markets differently.

Create interesting emails to send

  • Send interesting and compelling content to catch their attention and get them to read the email.
  • Use an attractive email design that includes both images and html text so that all users can see the content if they cannot view the images.

Follow best practices

  • The subject line should be short and sweet. You want to get the point of the email across while making it enticing to open. Include a call to action if you can.
  • Your from name and email address should be your business name and professional email address so that they know it is coming from a trusted source. You should also keep this consistent across all emails so that your customers begin to recognize your emails.
  • Try to keep the most important information at the top of the email so readers see that first. Include a call to action so they have something to do at the end of the email.
  • Include links to your website and social media accounts.
  • Use plain text in your email.
  • Keep your email short so that there is not too much information to digest in one email.


  • Try out different times of the day and week to determine which is most optimal response for your business.

Measure your results

  • Use your email statistics to track how often your email are opened and read.

If you follow these simple steps, your email marketing campaign will do great things for your business.


How To Use #Hastags

You may notice the # symbol being used a lot on social network sites, but do you know what they mean or how to use them?

Hashtags are keywords with a hash (#) symbol in front of them that makes them searchable and linkable. They have to be one continuous word with no spaces. These are typically used on Twitter, but have been seen on other social networking sites as well. The idea is to get a lot of people talking about one specific topic by using the same hashtag word. For instance, using #awesomewebsites to talk about your website design from TWG.

Hashtags help you target a topic and an audience. If you want to search for a trending topic, use the hashtag instead. Your search results will show you all posts with that same hashtag. It gives you more related search results on a specific topic. In addition, if you use a hashtag about a specific topic, you will target those people who are also interested in talking about that topic.

Using hashtags for your business’ posts, you can drive traffic to your products, services, and website by getting people to talk about what you do. People will become more interested and use the hashtag to help spread the word about your business.
Try not to go hashtag crazy, but if you use these wisely, it could help to increase your social following and ultimately your business following.


How to Better Manage Your Social Media

Social media management can be quite time-consuming—and who has time to spare?  For those who want to put forth the effort to effectively utilize business social media outlets, but who do not have time to do so regularly—help is on the way.  Two major options, both offering very similar solutions, are gremln and Hoot Suite.  These two media management tools allow you to pre-schedule posts for the three major social platforms; Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  Additionally, each option offers other tools and options to assist in other ways, too. 

The basis of gremln and Hoot Suite are the same—each provides the ability to schedule through their dashboard your posts for the three major platforms listed above.  Both offer additional tools and features to help you set goals, track metrics, and maximize your social media efforts.  The key element of being able to schedule posts ahead of time is the most attractive feature of each, though---allowing you to take a small chunk of time once a week and convert it into multiple posts and interactions across a variety of outlets.

To determine which of these two would be the greatest benefit to your business, check each one out.  They both offer free 30-day trials, and Hoot Suite offers a free version beyond just the 30-day trial,of their services and each have websites with very good and easy to understand information on the details of all of their services and products, and how they can be implemented for improved success within your business.

Social media management can be tackled----with a little luck…and some pre-scheduling!