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How to Use Social Reviews to win over Google (the secret that everybody’s seen but hasn’t figured out)

My friend owns a wellness center in Kaneohe, Hawaii, where I grew up.  For months now, he’s been telling me that he’s got to get more online exposure.
 

I agreed.


His business isn’t even on a blip on Google’s radar.


(In reality, he needs more than exposure, he first needs a quality website to expose… but that’s a story for a different day)


The Wellness Center offers a variety of services including chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, yoga and gets all its clients from the surrounding community.

  Stylized Yoga Person Clip Art


Sound familiar?


It should.


Whether offering massage, chiropractic, fitness classes, dental work, or even psychic readings, all locally based businesses NEED local traffic to survive.


Interestingly, Fleishman Hillard, an international communications firm, released a study showing that nearly 90% of consumers used search engines to make purchase decisions, and that includes local purchases.


Enter Google, Bing, Yahoo!, AOL…ok, that was a joke in case you missed it, but seriously: 

Enter Google.

So what do you do if the Google Gods aren’t shinning on you?

Ready?  You sure?  This is where the secret starts.


I explained to my friend that:


For a long time now the only way to the top of Google’s rankings was by entering a very niche market where there's no competition or having amazing and usually expensive SEO campaigns, a hit video, or some other anomaly of the sort.


That still rings very true for a majority of online searches. 


But not for local searches.


Try it. 


Get over to Google and search “cheap massage.”


What do you see?  Probably your typical list of the 10 best optimized websites dealing with cheap massages.


Now let’s get local.


Search for “(insert your hometown here) massage.”


AHHHH….


…now you see what I’m talking about.


Most likely, you’re looking at a search result page that starts with a few yelp reviews of massage places in your hometown, followed by a few more Google Plus Business page reviews.


ONLY then, nearing the bottom of the page, are your typical website results displayed.


(By the way, while Bing displays Yelp reviews first too, followed by their own peer review business pages)


THIS IS HUGE!
 

Google searches just got much smarter by basing its local search results on peer reviews instead of just SEO implementation. 


They’ve put you, the small start-up, massage parlor, ice cream shop, etc…, on equal ground with the extremely well-funded national chain down the road; and it’s brilliant.


 I would much rather base my purchase decisions on the recommendation of peers than what a company’s website tells me about their service.


So are SEO and traditional websites dying?


Not at all, SEO will always be a factor in how well your website ranks. 


And you still want a quality website that ranks well to legitimize your business among many other important functions.


However, and here’s the secret in the plainest of terms for those of you who still haven’t caught on, if you’re not on Yelp and Google Plus for businesses yet…you’re turning away business!


How’s my friend doing now?


While he’s got his Yelp and Google Plus for business pages set up, there’s still work to be done on getting reviews to make them valuable.


I have some easy to implement ideas on that too…but I’ll cover getting reviews in a separate post.


Basically, he’s taken the first steps, but still has a way to go.


So, after getting access to our free tips below (not so subtle plug, I know), create your peer review pages, and start getting those reviews!


Could this information help your business?


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Purchasing the Best Domain Name for Your Website

Whether you’re starting a business, blog, or other website, getting the right domain name is a huge step.  The following 10 points should guide you in the right direction.  And we’ll start at the beginning:

  1. Make sure it’s available.  Sites like Go Daddy, Bluehost, and many more all have tools to let you know if a domain is available.  Just visit there sites, type in your prospective domain and they’ll say yay or nay.
  2. Identify your top keywords and incorporate them – people and search engines will have an easier time finding you if your domain name matches up with what people might search when looking for you.  To identify these keywords, you can use any number of tools found by searching Google for “free keyword tool generator.”  Of course, the first result is Google’s own keyword tool generator and it’s first for good reason.  Google knows what people are actually searching for since they dominate search…it’s a great place to start.
  3. Make sure you domain describes your site.  I had a brief stint with a discount surfboard website that we named foamily.com.  It was meant to be short for foam family, which, in retrospect, still does a poor job of describing our service.  Were it available, discountsurfboards.com would have been ideal.  Needless to say, foamily is no longer with us.
  4.  Don’t make up words – Google, Yahoo!, and other similarly odd named sites are anomalies.  Don’t be fooled into thinking you can do the same.  Unfortunately, Foamily.com, my discount surfboard company is the norm.
  5. Keep it short – For a number of reason like ease of typing, ease of remembering, and common sense, don’t make your domain name a novel if you don’t have to.  It’s no wonder that domain names like ask.com, about.com, fitness.com and a host of others cost thousands and thousands of dollars while thebestsurfshopinkaneohe.com fall at the lower end of the price scale. The top five prices in domain names are:  Insure.com – $16,000,000; Sex.com – $14,000,000; Fund.com – $9,990,000; Porn.com – $9,500,000; Business.com – $7,500,000.
  6. Make is easy to remember – That’s common sense right?  While the word flicker is easy to remember, how many of us have debated the sites spelling when typing it in.  Is it with or without the c?  Is the e included?  Sure, they’ve been successful, but were it available to purchase, They’d have been better off coughing up the money for flicker.com.
  7. Don’t use hyphens or numbers – Yes, hyphens and numbers will almost always guarantee you an available domain.  That’s because nobody wants them.  They aren’t easily accessible on the keyboard and are a nuisance to type time and again.  There’s a good reason you’ve never heard of face-book.com
  8. Differentiate, be unique and don’t just use a variation of an already established website.  With URL’s being claimed on a daily basis, it’s no easy task to find an appropriate and unique domain name.  But keep searching because it can pay off.  Being noodlehouse.com in a sea full of noodle restaurants is a plus.  It sets you apart and makes you easier to find when customers are searching.
  9. Use a .com if possible.  .org’s are ok for social/non-profit causes, and .co’s are popping up here and there, but still, .com’s are and will remain the primary domain suffix.
  10. If you’re products/services are locally based, you’d be wise to keep your domain local too.  For example, if you own a lawn care business in Kaneohe, Hawaii, the domain www.kaneohelawncare.com is better for you than www.lawncare.com.  Unless you’re trying to service the world market and have a huge marketing budget, stay local, let people know not only what you do, but also where you do it.

Well, that’s it for now.  Getting a domain is an important step in setting up your website so make sure you get the best one possible.  That being said, don’t let it stop you from moving forward.  Don’t get paralyzed by domain buying phobia.

Hopefully this list helps point you in the right direction when getting a domain name (regarding pricing, take a look at my other article/post on the various hosting and domain companies: http://hiwebdesigns.com/choosing-a-website-hosting-plan/)


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Choosing a Website Hosting Plan

Which Hosting Plan Should I Choose?

When making a site, one of the first action steps you’ll need to take is to pick get hosting.  For those new to web design, think of a hosting company like a home owner who’s renting you their home.  Hosting companies own space online and will rent that space to you in various packages.  In this post, I’ll cover 3 major hosting companies assuming your purchasing a year’s worth of hosting and a domain name with each.  The companies are, Go Daddy, Bluehost, and Hostgator.

Go Daddy

The biggest hosting company in the world is Go Daddy.  They provide excellent customer service and have a variety of plans to match customers’ needs.  Go Daddy was the first hosting company I ever used and I never had a problem with their service but started using Bluehost at a certain point because they offer a free domain name with purchase of a hosting plan.   I’ll get to Bluehost later, but after recently reviewing both options again, I realized that Go Daddy’s plans are still cheaper even though domain names are a separate purchase from hosting.

The typical user will choose one of two plans that Go Daddy offers, the economy or deluxe plan.   The economy plan is the all-around best for those who are certain they only want to put up one website.  While the 10GB of storage the economy plan offers is more than enough to put up multiple sites, the economy plan restricts you to one website.  However, at $55 total ($45 for hosting and $10 for a domain name), it’s easily the cheapest plan you’ll get out there.

The deluxe plan, while costing a bit more at $76, offers 150GB of storage space and unlimited websites as long as they fit within the 150GB storage restraint.  So, if you plan on creating more than one website you’ll want to take a look at the deluxe plan.

If you decide to get Go Daddy, do me a favor and follow this link to check it out…they’ll give me a little something something for referring you…Thanks: http://x.co/hiweb

 

Bluehost

I’ve used Bluehost a bunch throughout the past few years and have always been pleased with their customer service.  Sure, there’s always the five minute wait period and 20 question identity verification when you call or chat them, but they are helpful once on the phone.  Bluehost’s big pull is that they offer a free domain name with purchase of a hosting plan.  In the end, that comes out to $95.  A bit more than Go Daddy but they do offer unlimited storage space.  If your site’s going to be a mammoth site, you may want to consider paying the extra price.  Otherwise, you may be fine going with Go Daddy’s economy or deluxe plans.

If you decide to get Bluehost, also do me a favor and follow this link to check it out…they give me a little something something for referring you as well…Thanks:  http://www.bluehost.com/track/hiwebdesigns

 

Hostgator

Hostgator’s “Hatchling Plan” is their cheapest at $80 at the moment (20% summer discount).  It’s very similar to the Go Daddy economy plan in that you’re only allowed one website on the account.  However, unlike Go Daddy, Hostgator’s plan offers unlimited disk space; a nice bonus if your site may grow to larger proportions downs the road.

Their second plan, the “Baby Plan,” offer unlimited storage space and unlimited websites for the slightly higher annual price of $110 per year.  Much like Bluehost and Go Daddy, Hostgator offers excellent, 24/7 customer service.

If you decide to get Hostgator…well, they aren’t giving me anything, but get them anyways.

 

Sooo…

It becomes pretty clear that in choosing a hosting provider, the three big questions to ask are:

  1. How many websites do I want to make? (Economy and Hatchling plans only allow for one site)
  2. How much storage space do I need? (A full length movie takes about 2GB of space…Unless your site is going to contain the equivalent of 5 full length movies in data you should be fine with the smaller storage restrictions in Go Daddy’s Economy Plan.  However, if you are going to have that much and possibly more, take a look at the Go Daddy Deluxe Plan, Hostgator Hatchling Plan, or Bluehost Plan, all of which offer increased storage.
  3. What’s the best priced plan? (That’s an easy one…Go Daddy)

Once you’ve answered the first two questions, it’s basically a price war, and Go Daddy is winning.  Their offerings, service, and price, aren’t matched by any other competitors and for most people, they’ll meet your needs just fine.


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