LAL Blog

Mobile-Friendly Websites Just Got a Lot More Important

Lydia Lawrence - Monday, May 18, 2015

Google recently announced that mobile-friendly websites will be given a boost in the Google search criteria on smartphones.  “Does this mean if my site is not mobile friendly I could get pushed down in the search results?”  Why, yes, yes it does. 


"What, exactly, do you mean by a mobile-friendly site?"  There are several elements that are involved and many people refer to this as responsive design.  Sites that are mobile-friendly load quickly on all devices.  Mobile friendly sites are smart and can adjust to the screen size of the device calling the site (responsive design) so that the site is easy to read on the smaller screen, have streamlined content and easy click to call buttons and much more. 


This is what mobile friendly looks like: 

Why would Google make this change to searches on smartphone? This change by Google seems to reflect how people are searching for information on-line.  That is, on their phones.  According to comScore 184 million people own smartphones and Google search is the fourth most popular app.  Here are the top four apps for smartphones:


Facebook
YouTube
Google Play
Google Search

For small business owners who depend upon search this is a serious development. Local businesses such restaurants that have worked hard to be at the top of the Google search pages for products and services may find their listings pushed back down below their competitors.  


It is definitely a “game changer.”  According to Google, 84% of consumers use search engines to gather information for local purchases.  If your business is buried in the results it could mean a lost sale.


So how do you know if your site is mobile friendly?  Google has provided a link so that you can test if Google sees your site as mobile friendly.  Take a look.  https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/


Questions about your site?  Give us a call at 903-293-3095.  We will be happy to do a free evaluation of your website and mobile responsive design.

GROW YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE THE ORGANIC WAY

Lydia Lawrence - Monday, February 25, 2013

GROW YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE THE ORGANIC WAY



You’ve heard the expression of some video or story “going viral” on the internet, haven’t you?  It means that someone watched the video on You Tube or Facebook, liked it, shared it and sent it to someone else who watched it and liked it and so on until the video became a sensation.  In many cases gaining millions of views is a good thing, but if you want to manage the growth of your business Facebook page a more controlled approach may be better in the beginning.  

Organic growth is steady growth prompted by using good content, great imagery and consistent posts not juiced up with fertilizers and growth hormones like viral growth.  The advantage of this slow and steady approach is that it allows for more personal engagement and nurturing of your fans.  It is more likely that the fans you gain organically are interested in your business and not just the cute video.  (We are not knocking good video, mind you.  Video is a great media component of good content!.)  Another advantage of organic growth is that positive and negative comments can be monitored more closely you can respond to comments personally and thoughtfully. Overall, managed organic growth allows you to be more social and it IS called Social Media!  

Here are 5 tips to grow organically:
    
  1.        1.  Share the page with your personal network taking advantage of existing relationships
  2.        2. Ask your personal network to LIKE the page
  3.        3. Ask professional colleagues and coworkers to LIKE and SHARE your page
  4.        4. LIKE other community and business pages increasing the likelihood of your posts showing up in their news feed
  5.        5. Tag other companies in messages to share your experiences with them and encourage them to do the same

These tips are a good starting point for getting your business page noticed and increasing your fan base.  Of course, driving business is about more than just the number of fans but it is a good place to start.  We will talk about other ways to create growth in another blog post.  Until then, keep the conversation going!

 Leave me a comment and let's talk!

 

 

5 Tips for Effective Facebook Posts

Lydia Lawrence - Thursday, February 21, 2013

5 Tips for Effective Facebook Posts

 

Engaging with fans on your Facebook business page goes a long way toward humanizing your business and building a community of loyal customers. Do you ever find yourself wondering what to post on your business Facebook page?  Fans enjoy hearing about your product and service but not on every post.  Mix it up a bit and add posts of local interest such as events in town that are of coming up to show community support.  Leave the pets and kids for your personal page unless you are a veterinarian ;).  Use photos and graphics occasionally but, again, mix it up.  I find that text only posts get more views than images.  Use your Facebook Insights tool to track posts and learn what works with your fan base and gets the most engagement.  

Here are 5 tips on how to make your posts more effective:

  1.  Keep it short - People scan their news feed especially if viewing from a mobile device.  Posts of 80 characters or less receive 66% higher fan engagement.  Posts with less than 40 characters get 86% higher engagement.
   2.  Keep it simple - Avoid complicated wall posts.  Use links from time to time to share interesting articles or videos.  And, remember that status-only posts receive 94% higher than average engagement.
   3.  Ask questions - To drive comments ask a direct questions and ask for the response.  Keep it brief and make it easy to read, easy to answer and of an interesting topic.  Fill-in the blank posts are quite popular.
   4.  Choose the right time - Later in the week posts get more attention.  Most people are on Facebook in the evening so you are likely to get more views after normal working hours.
   5.  Respond - It is called Social Media so get social with your fans.  Interact and respond.  Acknowledge any questions or comments and keep the conversation going.  

I would love to continue the conversation!  Please leave comments below.

5 Ways Facebook can Help Promote Your Business

Lydia Lawrence - Wednesday, February 20, 2013

5 Ways Facebook can Help

 

Many business owners wonder if it is worthwhile to create a Facebook page for their business.  They wonder who will manage the page for them and brush the idea aside because they don’t have time to worry about it.  I would like to give you a compelling argument to reconsider the idea of show casing your business on Facebook. The number of people today using social media has increased to over 90% of adults in the United States.  How much time do they spend on Facebook?  The latest statistics show that each month users spend 6.7 hours on Facebook alone. Social media accounts for 18% of time spent online so if you are still hesitant about the online world here are 5 reasons why you should join in:

    
    Increase your exposure
    Build credibility online
    Create advertising targeting your ideal customer
    Tell your business story
    Humanize your Business

There are many more reasons to be on Facebook and other social media sites depending on the type of business you own.  Whether it is Twitter or LinkedIn it will only benefit you in the long run to promote your business there.  These top three social media sites have many benefits and apps to help customize your pages and tell your story both of which will expand your overall reach.  

Have I given you something to think about?  If you still have questions I would be happy to continue the discussion.  Just leave a comment below and let’s talk!

Freshen Up Your Local Business Listing for the New Year

Lydia Lawrence - Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Time to Freshen Up Your Local Business Listing for the New Year

 

Do you find it as liberating as I do to clean up, clean out and get the house back in order after the festivities of the holiday season?  The decorations have been carefully stored, poinsettias and paper whites have faded while the refrigerator still holds leftovers it is time to bid them farewell.  A beautiful new red weekly planner sits next to my computer waiting to be filled with lists, appointments, meetings, birthdays and deadlines.  Anticipating a clean slate, new beginnings and a fresh new calendar energizes my professional life as well as my personal life.  I rejoice in saying: “out with the old, in with the new”!  


Your business presence on the web needs a clean up, too.  So how do we clean up for the start of the new year with our online web presence?  It is no secret that the internet loves new content.  Fresh content is a factor in the search algorithms in most, if not all, of the internet search engines.   If a blog is part of your web presence you are creating new content with each new blog entry.  Not a blogger?   You can still add new content or freshen what is already online by following these three simple steps.

 Step 1) Update the About Us section of your local listings.  Take a look at the information shown in the local listing for your business.  Read it out loud.  Does it make sense?  Does it reflect your product or service accurately?  Would online consumers find the description interesting enough to look further?  I recommend that you update the message to show current offerings, list 2012 successes, awards and promotions.  

  1.  Step 2) Add new photos.  Consumers searching on the internet LOVE images!  Let’s face it, we love looking at photos and respond to them more that reading text.  Remove outdated photos, add new ones that are beautiful and help tell your story.
  2.   Step 3) Add an offer or deal to drive business.  Do you offer a discount, coupon or loyalty card as a reason for someone to buy from you?  Everyone likes a deal and in this competitive market it could just be the catalyst to get them in the store.  Make your deal/coupon/offer look new and up to date for 2013.  Don't forget that the prices and that the expiration dates are valid and that the image and wording are enticing.  

It easy!  Just like cleaning up after the holidays or doing dishes.  Anticipating it is much worse than actually doing it.  Keeping your web presence current needs to be a priority with these 3 simple steps.  Create a target completion date within the first two weeks of January.  Here’s to a fresh, clean message to start 2013!

Our Shopping Habits Have Changed

Lydia Lawrence - Friday, December 07, 2012

My, How our shopping habits have changed!

It is no secret that the Internet has changed the way we shop.  At first it may seen that the Web makes shopping easier but on second thought it is much more complex.  As a small business you and your products have to be findable on the Internet.  Once a consumer does find you it is important that what they find looks good. In the past the small business owner would simply “hang out a shingle” and keep your store front looking good.  Let’s examine how we do the same thing on the Internet.


As a small business owner how can you cover of all the possible ways a customer can find you?  Ten years ago we relied on print ads and word of mouth.  That was the extent of research we did prior to making a purchase. Now we can search the Internet and browse for hours. What type of information do we look for on the Internet?  Location, availability, price and reviews would be at the top of most people’s list.  Online reviews and social media are today’s word of mouth.  These personalized recommendations are a major factor in the online consumer’s decision making process.  


What if I need help now?
While some online shoppers buy online many still want to visit the local store and make the purchase in person.  Some products, like tires for your car or local trade expertise cannot be bought online.  These consumers want to know where your store is located and how to get there.  If I have a flat tire the first thing I will do is look on my phone for the nearest tire store and check the reviews.  I need help immediately and I will call the closest store with the highest rating. 

You have to have a web presence to attract the consumer online. Consumers can look up information from their home computer or, increasingly, from a mobile device. If your business is setup on the local sites with the products they are looking for you are in a great position to get their attention.  If your business is not registered locally how would they ever find you?  You local listing is your internet billboard.  As a small business owner having an Internet presence is a no brainer.  Put up that Internet billboard and show them what you have to offer.  Don’t let today’s consumer pass you by because the sign was not visible. 

Facebook Tips - The Basics

Lydia Lawrence - Tuesday, September 04, 2012
Facebook Tips for your Business Page

With close to 1,000,000,000, that’s BILLION, people on Facebook it is the premier social media site of 2012.  You can get into the game and join the Facebook community with a Facebook Business page to promote your business, build your brand and encourage a relationship with your fans! Here are few tips to help you get started. 

It’s free to setup a Facebook Page!

Here are a few things you need to get started:

  • Choose a category and a Page name that represents your business.
  • Pick a logo or another image that people associate with your business to use as your profile pic.  
  • Write a sentence about your business so people can see what you do.  Keep it short, there are only 155 characters available. This will appear below your logo in the about this business section.
  • Set a memorable web address for your Page that you can use on marketing material to promote your business page.
  • Choose a cover photo that represents your business and promotes your product or service.  The optimum size for the cover photo is 851 x 315 pixels and less than 100 kb.  It’s the first thing people will see when they visit your page and remember cover images are public which means that anyone visiting your Page will be able to see the image you choose.  

Setup your business information:

  • Click on the Admin Panel to setup the Basic Information for your business
  • At minimum add the following in the appropriate section:
  • Description
  • General information
  • Phone number
  • Website address

Create your first post!  Remember this! 

Successful posts are:


Short: Posts between 100 and 250 characters get about 60% more likes, comments and shares
Visual: Photo albums get 180%, pictures get 120%, and videos get100% more engagement




Own It because you own it. Take control of your business listing online.

Lydia Lawrence - Monday, July 30, 2012

Own it because you Own it!

90% of consumers search online for local businesses.  Will they find your business when they do?  The new consumer behavior has changed.  Many search online before visiting a store or making a purchase.  Consumers want to be educated, not sold to.  Is your business in a position to get found in the online search?  Will consumers call you because they like what they see online?

Own it!  Take pride in what you’ve got.  Just as you “own it” for your brick and mortar business you must “own it” online as well.  

As a business owner you know that it is imperative to manage the image and reputation of your business.  After all the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into it  you wouldn’t want to risk your image tarnished simply because you didn’t take the time to manage it.  Are you applying the same principles to your online presence?   Own you business online because you “own it” offline!

The customer experience at the store, restaurant or by service personnel is crucial to keeping them as a customer.  Job # 1 is making sure that the store is clean, products are available and that the service is excellent.  The same principle applies to the online image of the business.  Your business image online should reflect the same standards as the brick and mortar store that customers see and experience every day.   It is no longer acceptable to say “I don’t “do” the internet” or “I’m not on Facebook.”  Why is that not acceptable?  Because most of your customers, and potential customers, are on the internet, Facebook and increasingly more are on Twitter.  

What does all of this mean for the small business?   Most businesses are on the internet whether the business owner put them there or not.  One of the principle suppliers of data to internet search engines is YP.com, also known as yellowpages.com. If you have a telephone number or a physical address the internet has a listing for the business.   Many directory sites also allow and encourage visitors to offer reviews of the business.    

Are you aware of what your business looks like on the internet?   I invite you to do a quick check to see what your business looks like to the online consumer. Perform a search for your business online.  What do you think?  Is this what you want potential customers to know about your business?  Would you contact your business based on what you see online?  

It’s all part of the new dynamic of consumer behavior.  Shopping and research is now a 24/7 activity.  Don’t miss out!  Claim you business listings and make sure that your business image looks good online.


"Own It" because you own it. Take control of your business listing online.

Lydia Lawrence - Monday, July 30, 2012

Own it because you Own it!

90% of consumers search online for local businesses.  Will they find your business when they do?  The new consumer behavior has changed.  Many search online before visiting a store or making a purchase.  Consumers want to be educated, not sold to.  Is your business in a position to get found in the online search?  Will consumers call you because they like what they see online?

Own it!  Take pride in what you’ve got.  Just as you “own it” for your brick and mortar business you must “own it” online as well.  

As a business owner you know that it is imperative to manage the image and reputation of your business.  After all the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into it  you wouldn’t want to risk your image tarnished simply because you didn’t take the time to manage it.  Are you applying the same principles to your online presence?   Own you business online because you “own it” offline!

The customer experience at the store, restaurant or by service personnel is crucial to keeping them as a customer.  Job # 1 is making sure that the store is clean, products are available and that the service is excellent.  The same principle applies to the online image of the business.  Your business image online should reflect the same standards as the brick and mortar store that customers see and experience every day.   It is no longer acceptable to say “I don’t “do” the internet” or “I’m not on Facebook.”  Why is that not acceptable?  Because most of your customers, and potential customers, are on the internet, Facebook and increasingly more are on Twitter.  

What does all of this mean for the small business?   Most businesses are on the internet whether the business owner put them there or not.  One of the principle suppliers of data to internet search engines is YP.com, also known as yellowpages.com. If you have a telephone number or a physical address the internet has a listing for the business.   Many directory sites also allow and encourage visitors to offer reviews of the business.    

Are you aware of what your business looks like on the internet?   I invite you to do a quick check to see what your business looks like to the online consumer. Perform a search for your business online.  What do you think?  Is this what you want potential customers to know about your business?  Would you contact your business based on what you see online?  

It’s all part of the new dynamic of consumer behavior.  Shopping and research is now a 24/7 activity.  Don’t miss out!  Claim you business listings and make sure that your business image looks good online.


Now that I have a business Facebook page, who will manage it?

Lydia Lawrence - Tuesday, July 24, 2012

If you have decided it is time to start managing your social media presence, the first place to start is to ensure you have a Facebook business page readily accessible by your community. Building your business’ image within your local community is vital for those companies wishing to make the most of their built in fan base. With an ever-increasing focus on shopping locally, those firms that make the most of their business to community relationship are the companies that are destined to succeed.


  If you are asking yourself “who will manage my social media pages”, you are definitely in luck. Knowing that you need to immerse your business in social media is only the first step. Having the time and knowledge to take on this task is quite another step completely. Rather than take on this vital step on your own, you can instead rely on the expertise of a social media expert. By working one-on-one with a social media crusader, you will have answered the "who will manage my social media pages" question. Together, you and your social media guru can work out exactly how you want your business Facebook page to appear to your community. You can cover such details as the tone you want your page to have, which images you want included on your page, and even which polls or fan questions you want asked of your following. By having ongoing conversations with your social media expert, you can ensure that your business is receiving a significant return on investment.

 Having a business Facebook page is only the first step. Once your business’ page is set up and running, you will want to ensure that your page is a part of every business to customer action. Ensure that the Facebook logo is displayed throughout your location so that customers are reminded to become a fan of your firm on Facebook. Advertise your Facebook website address at your point of sale terminal. By integrating your Facebook business page into every customer action, your brand will build a following within your community in no time. Making the effort to be part of the local social media scene is an incredible way to build brand loyalty. Your local shoppers become your biggest fans and help to spread the word of your brand’s awesomeness. Becoming a business to community social media superstar begins with a stellar business Facebook page.