Subscribe to the New Local Marketing Institute Podcast
Many of you have asked for our local marketing training sessions to be available for download and offline listening. So, we’re excited to announce the launch of the Local Marketing Institute Podcast. It’s available on Apple, Google, Spotify and most other major podcast platforms.
Each Tuesday we’ll have a new episode with the same practical, trustworthy digital marketing training you’ve come to expect from Local Marketing Institute … all taught by the best local marketers in the world.
Greg Gifford Local Search Tip Videos
I’m also thrilled to let you know that renowned local search expert, Greg Gifford, is now a weekly contributor for Local Marketing Institute. Each week, he’ll be sharing a 2-5 minute video with tips to improve your local search efforts. Be sure to subscribe to our email newsletter to get access to these weekly tips.
New Training Session Available
If you haven’t seen it yet, we just released the recording of Danielle Owens training session, How to Fix Common Website SEO Issues. You can watch it on the Local Marketing Institute website and you can listen to it in our podcast.
Next Week’s Webinar
Finally, be sure to sign up for next week’s webinar, Ask Ben Anything about Google My Business, with platinum GMB product expert, Ben Fisher. These sessions always fill up quickly, so sign up as soon as you can and bring your all of your GMB questions for Ben to answer.
White House Asking Organizations to Update Websites with Schema Tags
The White House is asking organizations to update their websites with new schema tags to help Americans find the latest official public health announcements and information as they use search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo.
As you probably know, schema tags are special code you can put on your website to help search engines like Google or Bing better read and represent your site when people are searching.
Schema.org, the organization that oversees the schema specifications, has made three major (and quick!) updates in response to the COVID-19 situation:
- SpecialAnnouncement is a schema tag you can use to mark up an announcement on your website. It can be used for your COVID-19 statement, but it could be a very useful tag afterward as well.
- eventAttendanceMode is a schema property used to mark up events on your website to let search engines know if the event is online, offline, or mixed.
- CovidTestingFacility is a schema property for medical clinics that has been released to quickly identify facilities that provide COVID-19 testing.
It’s pretty cool the government is up-to-speed on schema and using it to help coordinate COVID-19 communication efforts. Be sure to work with your developer and ask them to update your site with these new schema tags.
By the way, we’ll be having a webinar with schema expert, Martha Van Berkel on May 8th to go over schema markup best practices for local businesses. Make sure you’re subscribed to our email newsletter to get the invite to this session.
Nextdoor Promoting Gift Card Sales to Support Local Businesses
Nextdoor, the neighborhood social media site, began promoting businesses who offer gift cards as a way to help support local businesses during closures or restricted operation. When users open the app, a graphic link appears that says “Buy gift cards, support local businesses.” Nextdoor then provides a list of local businesses and their pages with links to gift card sales.
If you haven’t done it yet, be sure claim your Nextdoor Business Page. Then update your listing with your gift card URL and don’t forget to also indicate if you have takeout and delivery options.
YouTube Launches Tool for Businesses to Create Video Ads
Google / YouTube has launched their free Video Builder tool in beta. The idea is to help businesses more easily create video ads. It animates photos, text and logos that you update, and you can combine it with YouTube’s huge library of royalty-free music. You can customize the ads with templates, colors and fonts. It automatically creates YouTube-ready videos in both 6 and 15-second lengths.
The program is still in beta, so you’ll need to go to the Video Builder page and apply for access.
Facebook Giving $100 Million in Small Business Grants
Facebook is giving up to 30,000 small businesses grants to help with payroll, operational costs and marketing. Businesses must be for-profit, between 2-50 employees, have been in business for over a year, and experienced challenges from COVID-19. Locations are limited only to New York, Seattle and the San Francisco bay area, but will be open to all other eligible U.S. cities starting April 22.
If you’d like to apply for a grant, you’ll need to visit the Facebook grant page and apply through Facebook’s partner, Ureeka.
Google Updates Their Ad Credit Grant Info
Google is also giving $340 million in ad credits to SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses). However, unlike the Facebook grant, this credit can only be used for Google Ads and is only available to advertisers who have spent money on Google Ads for at least 10 out of 12 months in 2019 and in January or February in 2020.
Details are still vague as to who qualifies as an SMB and exactly how much the credit will be. Google says the credit will be based on past Google Ads spend, can only be used on future ad spend, and must be used before the end of the year. Business can’t apply for these credits. Instead they will be automatically applied to your Google Ads account and the account administrators will be notified.
Google Local Services Ads Offering COVID-19 Options
As reported by Tom Waddington on Twitter, there are new “Health and Safety” options that businesses using Google Local Services Ads (LSAs) can highlight in their ad. Options include video appointments, experiencing high call volume, protective gear used, no-contact payments and more.
By the way, be sure to watch Tom’s Office Hours webinar on our website, Best Practices for Google Local Services Ads.
Google My Business Update from Sterling Sky
Now it’s time for the Google My Business Update thanks to our friends at Sterling Sky.
It was pretty quiet this week with regards to local rankings. Nothing extremely volatile is being reported and that continues to be a good thing for local businesses that have enough to deal with.
Does the Service Area in GMB Impact Ranking?
Sterling Sky’s Colan Nielsen tested the effect of adding service areas to Google My Business listings as a way to improve rankings. The answer is, not currently. Just like normal business listings, the ranking is based on the address that the business used to verify their listing. The only impact that the service area has is visual. On Google Maps on desktop, you’ll see an overlay on the map showing the service area.
Verification FAQ for Google My Business
Tim Capper of Online Ownership put together an excellent FAQ of the most prevalent Google My Business verification questions he receives as a product expert. He answers all of them with very useful tips. This is worth a read if you deal with verification issues but, hopefully, this is something that will ease a bit as COVID shutdowns start to relax.
GMB Reviews Are Coming Back
New reviews (and review replies) are still slowly becoming visible on Google My Business listings. Most are still in the restaurant and shopping categories in the United States, but we’ve seen occasional reviews get publish in other categories as well. It’s still not enough to say reviews are back to normal for other business categories, however.
Google Rolls Out Nested Departments for Car Dealership GMB
Google rolled out a major update for car dealer Google My Business listings. Nested department listings are now explicitly listed in the GMB panel. This is very similar to how listings for big-box retailers, hospital campuses and other businesses with multiple departments have been handled in the past. But now it applies to car dealerships as well.
If you’re a new car dealer, make sure to get your department listings set up immediately.
COVID-19 Online Care Links in Mobile Business Listings
We’re seeing a “Get Online Care” link show up in Mobile Listings in the US for healthcare websites that have populated that link in their GMB dashboard. This is something that should also be available on desktop, but Google has been slow to release COVID-related changes to desktop listings.