Google changes local search results – again

Once again, Google has changed the way their local listings appear. In the past, when someone would make a vague search, such as, ‘Italian restaurants financial district’ or ‘Italian restaurants midtown east’, 7 options would appear. These 7 options would come up as the first thing you see on a Google search results page, but would only show up 25% of the time. Now, they’ve reduced the number of local search results so that only 3 options appear. These 3 options appear as the first thing on your page, without having to scroll down, 93% of the time.
This is important because users want information quickly and easily. When making a vague search, they want results as fast as possible, without having to dig for a viable selection. In the case of the search query examples above, I had the ability to find Italian restaurant names, near me, as soon as possible, without having to deal with clutter and other unwanted results.

Why Google is keeping local searchers around longer

The new local 3-pack is also designed to keep searchers in Google’s knowledge graph longer, and provide them with all of the information they need without having to click through multiple pages – or even to a specific business’ website. If one of the first three listings looks appetizing, one click takes you to all of the information you need. The name, address, phone number, and menu are the first thing you see. To the right, you have the ability to access the restaurant’s website and get directions via Google maps.

google search italian midtown google search italian midtown

It is incredibly important for business owners to make sure their information on Google is accurate. Even if you have a great website, and had previously done SEO with that site, 93% of the time Google local listings will appear before your website. Google controls over 64% of the search engine market share, so having accurate information on Google, including your name, address, phone number, and menus, gives you a far better chance at earning business than having inconsistent or no information available at all.

eGuide: Making the Case for Mobile

73% of mobile searches trigger additional actions, such as a visit to your website, sharing information with friends, visiting a store and making a purchase.  What does the increased use of mobile mean for your business?
Check out SinglePlatform’s eGuide on reaching new customers through mobile search, and learn:

  • 3 steps you can take to enhance what potential customers find on mobile
  • How mobile searches differ from desktop – and why they may be more profitable
  • 5 tips on evaluating your current mobile search presence

Download the eGuide now

If you’d like to enhance your search presence on mobile and online, contact us.

[News] 80% of Mobile Searches for Local Businesses Result in a Purchase

Here’s a highlight of some of the top local-business-related news of the week:

[Mobile News] Study Reveals 80% of Mobile Searches for Local Businesses Result in Purchase

News Source: Street Fight

A new report from Neustar Localeze and 15miles indicates that consumers are increasingly turning to mobile to find local businesses when they’re ready to make a purchase. The key metrics include:

  • 79% of smartphone owners and 81% of tablet owners use their devices to search for information on local businesses.
  • 80% of those mobile searches for local businesses result in a purchase, 75% occurring at a physical storefront.
  • Only 50% of consumers are satisfied with the mobile search experience for local businesses.
  • Survey participants noted that information around products & services tends to be lacking or hard to find on mobile. They also noted that accurate hours of operation are a key piece of information they look for when making a purchase decision.

Key Takeaway: It’s never been more crucial to make sure your business location, hours of operation, and products & services are easy for consumers to access on mobile. Did you know that SinglePlatform provides a mobile-optimized website that includes all of this content in one easy-to-read page? Find out more about how our service could benefit your business.

[Hiring News] Report: Businesses with More Women Perform Better

News Source: Mashable

The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology recently released a new paper entitled The Case for Investing in Women. This paper pulls together statistics from a variety disciplines to make the case that hiring more women contributes to an overall better working environment. A few key facts from the study:

  • Fortune 500 companies with 3 or more female directors have a 66% higher return on investment and a 42% higher return on sales.
  • International studies across a variety of industries found that teams with more women have greater psychological safety, group experimentation, and team confidence and efficiency.
  • Teams with at least one female member have a higher collective IQ than teams of just men.

Key Takeaway: Many studies, this one included, have proven that more diversity leads to more creative teams, which in turn leads to better businesses. When considering new hires, make sure to look for not just a particular skill set, but also someone who can bring a unique perspective to your day-to-day operations.

[Social Media News] Research Helps Businesses Identify the Best Networks for Social Marketing

News Source: Social Media Examiner

This week, Social Media Examiner shared a compilation of social media research findings around trends in user and brand behaviors across networks. Their four key findings were:

  1. Users spend more time on visual networks like Facebook (6:33 hours per visitor per month), Tumblr (1:38 hours per visitor per month), and Pinterest (1:17 hours per visitor per month).
  2. While Google+ is not a high priority in terms of audience engagement for most marketers, the social network is becoming valuable as a SEO tool.
  3. Facebook’s News Feed algorithm changes in January are motivating marketers to mix up their content with photos, videos, links, questions, and offers in order to reach their followers.
  4. B2B marketers are finding the most success on LinkedIn.

Key Takeaway: These findings reinforce industry trends that have been percolating for awhile now. Visual marketing has become an essential piece of the overall marketing puzzle for businesses across the board, and taking advantage of less enticing social networks such as Google+ and LinkedIn is paying off for businesses as well. If you’ve been hesitant to take risks in your small business social marketing, now is the time to get out there and try new things!

Google Adds Menus to Search Results

If you’ve searched for a restaurant menu on Google in the past week or so, you may have noticed something different. As of last Friday, menus are now being displayed directly in search results pages, rather than requiring searchers to click through to a restaurant’s website or third party review site such as Yelp. So far, the feature has only been deployed in the U.S.
Restaurants with more robust menus feature tabs with different sections that you can click through to see drinks, wine lists, appetizers, main courses, desserts, and more.

Menu Content in Google Search Result

You can also click on the “More about” link at the bottom of the menu; this opens a new page of search results that includes the business’s Google Local information in the right frame.

More About Menu Link on Google

Where is this menu data coming from? Google partners with a few third party menu providers, including SinglePlatform, who aggregate and distribute menu information for thousands of businesses across the U.S.

While Google is just pulling in basic menu item information right now, there’s great potential to do more with these menus by enhancing them with rich content such as photos, specials, announcements, and coupons.

For restaurants and other businesses with menus to share, this new feature provides a great way to engage online consumers who are searching specifically for their menu. However, the feature isn’t very useful for users who don’t have a specific restaurant in mind—a more general search string such as “Italian restaurant menu Brooklyn” yields no menu results from Google. Review sites and apps that specialize in restaurant listings still have an important role to play in helping consumers discover new local businesses.

If you don’t see a menu for your business in Google’s results, or see a menu that’s out of date, never fear: SinglePlatform can create a menu for you or update your existing one! Find out how on our website

How a Niche Service Business Helps People Find Them

Michael Himelfarb, founder of Global Prevention Services, a mold-removal company with locations across the US, knows that his company is unlike most service businesses.
“Finding someone when you have a water emergency or a mold problem isn’t like finding a place to buy tires. You can’t just look in any newspaper or call up the same guy you’ve been going to for 40 years,” says Michael. “Looking for a person that’s reliable and knows what they’re doing can be a hassle.”

For Michael, marketing his niche company effectively means making it easy for people to find Global Prevention Services when they really need them.

“We’ve tried TV, we’ve tried radio, but traditional advertising really never made sense for us,” Michael explains. “People need to find us in a moment’s notice. That’s why we think the internet offers the biggest opportunity.”

Over the last few years, Global Prevention Services has worked to build an online presence any way that they can.

Doing so has presented new challenges.

“Keeping up with all of the different listings sites and platforms hasn’t been easy,” says Michael. “The information that’s out there really hangs around. So if our information changes, the stuff people are finding on a lot of these pages might not be accurate.”

Michael decided to look for a better way to tackle this ongoing problem since being found by potential customers is crucial for the success of his company.

“I wanted to find a company that could start to help us consolidate various vendor relationships into one, and would understand our business and take the time to do things right,” says Michael. “I also wanted help getting our business on to the sites we needed to be on, and really help clean things up.”

In 2013, Michael found SinglePlatform from Constant Contact.

“The concept of having a single source that can take you to the breadth of the internet, is certainly a great idea,” says Michael. “I also liked the relationship with Constant Contact, because we had used Constant Contact for marketing in the past.”

Within SinglePlatform, Michael was able to upload his company’s information and automatically create a mobile-optimized page that includes a listing of their services, information about their safe and effective solutions, and background about why other customers have chosen Global Prevention Services in the past.

With the company’s information now available on SinglePlatform, Michael could then have his information shared across the SinglePlatform publisher network — including Yelp, YellowPages, and Foursquare.

He also added the listing to the Global Prevention Services Facebook Page, so that people searching for help on social media could easily find his business’s information.

For Michael, the benefit of delivering a better way for potential customers to access this information has been clear.

“Our story is long, and it takes quite a bit of time to really tell why we are different and why we should be considered,” says Michael. “By having our list of services out there and knowing that we can update them when we need to, we’re able to tell our story and give people the information they need.”

What’s next?

Michael says that he is excited to do more with SinglePlatform in the future, and would recommend the tool to other businesses faced with similar challenges.

“I would recommend SinglePlatform to anyone in our situation who is also trying to get everything together,” says Michael. “SinglePlatform is a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. It is an affordable way to attempt to keep these directories in line.”

If you want a partner in managing your online business listings, SinglePlatform is here to help! Visit our site to learn more about our services.

New Research: Mobile and Web Search Leads to Action for Restaurants

We’re excited to release our newest study in partnership with our friends at market research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey, which shows that restaurants are the most searched industry by consumers through both mobile applications and browsers. The study, compiled through the feedback from 1,497 consumers who own a smartphone, found that 81 percent of consumers have searched for a restaurant on a mobile app and 92 percent through a web browser in the last six months, outperforming other highly searched industries, such as entertainment, retail outlets, hotels, and personal services.

Even more important, 75 percent say they often choose a restaurant to dine at based on those search results.

With all those searches, it’s never been more important to make sure that your menu, prices, and other key information is up to date on all of the platforms potential customers search…. from Yelp to Yellow Pages to Google to Foursquare. (And SinglePlatform can help.)

Our key findings about how smartphone owning consumers find local businesses:

  1. 81% have searched for a restaurant on a mobile app in the last 6 months (tweet this)
  2. 92% have searched for a restaurant on a web browser in the last 6 months (tweet this)
  3. 75% often choose a restaurant to dine at based on search results (tweet this)
  4. iPhone owners are more likely to search for a restaurant than other smart phone owners (tweet this)
  5. 80% think it’s important to see a menu before they dine at a restaurant (tweet this)
  6. 84% are likely to look at more than one restaurant before choosing where to dine (tweet this)
  7. 70% think it is important to be able to read the menu of a restaurant on a mobile device (tweet this)
  8. 62% are less likely to choose a restaurant if they can’t read the menu on a mobile device (tweet this)

Download the full report for more information

How Blinker’s Tavern Makes Social Media and Online Listings Work

If you own a small business, there’s a good chance that marketing probably doesn’t fall within the category of things you love to do.
After all, you didn’t open your doors for the thrill of creating marketing emails, managing a Facebook Page, or monitoring your online listings. You did it because you wanted to build a business—to do something you’re passionate about, and to share that passion with each and every customers that walks through your door.

But these days, running a business does come with a full plate of marketing responsibilities. And the reality is that businesses—especially new businesses—cannot afford to ignore online marketing and the responsibilities that come along with it.

That was certainly the case for Sandy Meyer, owner of Blinker’s Tavern in Covington, KY.

“We opened in 2011 and knew right away that there were things we needed to be doing to attract new customers,” explains Sandy. “But as a new business, it wasn’t clear where we needed to start.”

Starting with social media

Like a lot of new businesses, one of the first things Sandy did when she opened her doors was to set up on social media.

“We knew social media would be a good tool for getting in front of our audience,” explains Sandy. “We always have a lot going on and it’s important that we’re able to keep people up-to-date.”

In addition to building an audience of local fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter, Sandy says that one of the most important parts of being on social media is to connect with the hospitality industry in her community.

“It’s really important for us to be able to get in front of the hotels in our area,” explains Sandy. “We depend on tourism during our busy season.”

Managing a social schedule

As valuable as building awareness on sites like Facebook and Twitter has been to Blinker’s Tavern, it has also come with plenty of challenges.

With a rotating schedule of daily specials for both lunch and dinner, a menu that changes with the seasons, and a wide range of events for things like holidays, anniversaries, and other local happenings—Sandy has plenty to talk about with fans and followers.

What she doesn’t have is the time to actually do it.

To make matters worse, with so many changes and special occurrences taking place week-to-week, it has become increasingly more difficult to get the menu that’s been offered in the restaurant each day in front of the people who actually need it.

Finding a better social media marketing solution

Rather than spending hours each week trying to get sites like Facebook and Twitter to work for her business, Sandy decided early on that she was going to need some help.

In September of 2012, Sandy spoke with a representative at SinglePlatform.

She discovered that on top of helping businesses manage their online menu and listings, SinglePlatform also offered a range of features designed to help businesses like hers on social media.

She worked with the representative to put together a plan for how SinglePlatform could help alleviate the stress of keeping tabs on social media and make the most of all the tools SinglePlatform has to offer.

One of the first things she decided to do was put together a calendar of special announcements for things like daily specials and upcoming events. She could manage these updates ahead of time without having to log in to Facebook or Twitter throughout the day.

“For us, SinglePlatform has been a great tool for sharing reminders about our specials and other things we have going on,” explains Sandy. “It has taken a lot of stress out of being on social media.”

That’s not to say she forgets about her fans and followers. On the contrary, she still takes the time to respond to customer questions and say thanks to fans when receiving positive reviews or recommendations.

Not only that, but with SinglePlatform Sandy has also found a better way to keep her daily lunch and dinner menus in front of her target audience—using SinglePlatform to share her menu directly to the Blinker’s Tavern Facebook Page.

“SinglePlatform makes it easy to update our regular menus and make changes when we need to,” explains Sandy. “Which is important because we know the menu our fans are seeing is the same one we’re offering at our restaurant that day.”

Extending her reach beyond social media

In addition to social media, Sandy has also taken advantage of SinglePlatform’s network of more than 100 online listing sites and mobile apps.

As a new business, Sandy recognized that awareness needs to extend beyond her social communities. By publishing her menu with SinglePlatform her business has a better chance of getting discovered online.

And because the changes she makes to her menu on SinglePlatform are automatically made on Facebook and across the entire network of SinglePlatform’s partnering online listing sites and apps, she knows the information they find will be up-to-date.

“Keeping our menu up-to-date on review sites and online listings has never been a problem for our restaurant because we’ve been with SinglePlatform since the start,” explains Sandy.

“That’s been important for our business.”

Download the full case study