Create a Google Place Page and Help Get Your Website Found

These days “Just Google It!” is more relevant than Nike’s infamous “Just Do It” campaign. Most people “Just Google it” to find businesses, addresses, phone numbers and other information about products and services. Search engines simplify our lives, and Google clearly dominates the field. But guess what? Google is only as smart as we make it. This article explains the how you can provide Google with information about your store, and help customers find your business and website – and, by the way, it’s totally free.

Your Imagine Retailer website has many built-in features that make it easy for your customers to come and find you when they surf the web, but there are other methods you should also use to increase your internet exposure. These strategies are called Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and they move your website to the top of the list of search results and attract more people to your site. You can pay for SEO campaigns, just like you pay for advertising campaigns, but this series of articles shows you no-cost and low-cost ways you can maximize your website investment.

Google Maps and Google Places will put your business on the map, literally. The “Contact Us” page on your Imagine Retailer website already includes a Google map, but you should also complete the free registration for Google Places. You must have a free Google account to register your business, and the process is confirmed by mail in 12-21 days to ensure that your location is “real” and you are the real owner.

Getting Started. Put your business on the map by visiting Google Places at http://places.google.com/business. You will need to enter your gmail address and password in the areas below:

Google_Places_1

 

Listing your business. You will first be asked to enter your business’s country and main phone number. After doing this, you will be asked to enter some basic information so that Google can put your business on the map.

Google_Places_3

 

Submitting your Google Place. After you list all the pertinent information for your business, Google will make a map that shows your business and all its information. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click submit.

Google_Places_4

 

Mail Confirmation. Google will mail you a postcard at the address provided to verify your business. Visit the link on the postcard or call the number that will be provided to finish setting up your Google Place page.

Google_Places_5

 

That’s it! You’ve just successfully placed your business on Google Places.

SEO strategies that increase website visitors are great, but at Imagine Retailer we never forget that your only goal (both in-store and online) is to sell more stuff. Providing this extra information about your business will help drive customers to your Website and into your store to help you achieve this goal.

How To Make Your Website Sell More Stuff

“If you build it, they will come.”

This famous line from Field of Dreams might apply to baseball diamonds, but it doesn’t necessarily translate to websites. Your Imagine Retailer website has many built-in features that make it easy for your customers to come and find you when they surf the web, but there are other methods you should also use to increase your internet exposure.

These strategies are called Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and they move your website to the top of the list of search results and attract more people to your site. You can pay for SEO campaigns, just like you pay for advertising campaigns, but this series of articles will show you no-cost and low-cost ways you can maximize your website investment.

Tip # 1: Never Stop Talking

  • Never stop talking about your website. Add your website address to EVERYTHING – business cards, store signs, delivery trucks, television ads, radio spots, flyers, direct mail pieces, newspaper advertisements, billboards and anything else you can think of. Need help with offline advertising and traditional media? Contact your Online Specialist, who has solutions for every event, every price point and every medium.
  • Use your website domain in all your corporate email addresses to reiterate your website in every communication. FurnitureGuy@TeenyBopperEmail.com is amateur and unprofessional, but RealPerson@YourWebsiteAddress.com – now, that’s more like it. Branded email addresses are already included with your Imagine Retailer website. Contact your Online Specialist to request professional email addresses (we’ll even teach you how to use them).
  • Tell every in-store customer about your website. Pass out candy or dollar bills as an incentive every time you hear an associate mention your website to a customer.
  • Use your website as a selling tool on the sales floor. Put a netbook on the sales floor so your customers can interact with your site as they shop. Show them how to put their favorite catalog item on their Facebook wall, or email a picture to their spouse.86524989
  • Make sure your suppliers include a link to your site on their website’s store locater, too.

SEO strategies that increase website visitors are great, but at Imagine Retailer we never forget that your only goal (both in-store and online) is to sell more stuff. Constant repetition of your website address ensures that your name is ingrained in your customers’  mind when they shop and search from home in their pajamas.

SEO Strategy

Part 3 of 3

seo www

Beyond technology, here are three principles to remember when planning and executing an SEO campaign:

Flow

Remember, the reason you are trying to get your website to the top of the first page is because you want people to come to the site and look at your content, then buy what your selling. Don’t get so involved in SEO that you junk-up your site with links and keywords beyond the user’s ability to read the page. Balance your site design your site between bots and people. Don’t lose your users for the sale of search engines. Remember, bounce rate (the time your users spend on your site) is a part of SEO as well.

Patience is a virtue

SEO campaigns are not for instant gratification junkies. Give your site about three months to sink in. Check your analytics, watch to see how the site is doing and adjust accordingly. Keep your efforts simple; make a minimal amount of changes so that you can accurately see what works and what doesn’t.

Updates

Stay on top of things. Keep an eye on the search engine guidelines to ensure your SEO is always up to date. The last thing you want is for your long sought efforts to slowly wash down the drain as technology advances.

By applying different techniques used to achieve organic search results, you’ll find online marketing to be a cost-effective, simple solution to promoting your business and products.

Part 1 of this 3-part series explained why SEO is the new normal and how companies can budget for search engine optimization campaigns. Part 2 defined a Glossary of Key SEO Terms. This article was published in its entirety in the March 2010 issue of Western Retailer magazine, a publication of the WHFA.

Glossary of Key SEO Terms

Part 2 of 3

seo

Understanding these key SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ideas and terms will help you make the best decisions for your search marketing strategy:

Title

Each page on your website is coded with a unique title that is different than the page name. Depending on your internet browser, check the name of the tab or the command bar to see if your site optimizes titles. The title should contain carefully chosen keywords, because this is the first thing search engine web crawlers, bots and spiders read (these are automated computer programs that methodically browse the web gathering information). Your titles should be no longer than 100 characters; however, Google will truncate the title if it is more than 60 characters including spaces.

  • Example: “Home Furnishings, Home Décor, Outdoor Furniture & Modern Furniture”
  • Example: “Bedroom Furniture, Dining Room Furniture, and more quality Home and Office Furniture”

Keywords

Keywords and phrases drive SEO campaigns and fuel your site’s success. Keywords are a tricky business though so take your time, research your keywords and make sure you select keywords that are in your niche. Often amateurs will not take much time in this area, simply plugging in obvious words. For example, suppose a small store called ABC Furniture automatically chooses the key phrase “furniture store.” They’ve unwittingly gone to head with major players who are throwing big bucks at the “furniture store” key phrase. While not impossible, it will be very difficult for ABC Furniture to outspend these players and reach the first page of the major search engine search results. Unique niche phrases can yield effective results and cost pennies by comparison.

  • Example: furniture store, sofas, dining room furniture, mattresses
  • Example: “pillow-top mattresses Oakland CA” or “leather rocker recliners Oakland CA”

Body text

The main content of your website should also contain keywords. The keywords should be used naturally to avoid being pegged as a “keyword spammer,” someone who uses the word “sofa” 48 times on your living room page in attempt move your site up in the rankings. This will get you booted from Google and other search engines, who carefully measure your “keyword density.” Too low, and you may not achieve optimum results. Too high, and you’re considered a spammer. Google will only tolerate a 2% keyword density; Yahoo and MSN are considerably higher at around 5%. Qualified web designers who use qualified and trained copywriters can help creatively optimize your keyword density, unlike hackers who jam nonsensical words into your body and footer.

  • Example: Central Oklahoma Furniture. ABC Furniture is a family company. Browse our selection of Central Oklahoma Furniture or visit our store to sample Central Oklahoma Furniture. You deserve Central Oklahoma Furniture form ABC Furniture!
  • Example: From San Antonio to Austin, ABC Furniture delivers beauty, quality, and value to your home.

Heading Tags – Each page on your website has a heading tag that should also contain your keywords. Ideally, the tag should be right up there at the beginning of the page, as close as possible to the top of the page.

  • Example: Living Room Furniture
  • Example: Directions to ABC Furniture

URL

Consider purchasing a domain name containing your keywords. If ABC Furniture sells solid wood furniture in Columbus, Ohio, they should consider columbussolidwoodfurniture.com. Search engines use the domain name as an SEO qualifier so keep that in mind when choosing your domain names. With a little savvy programming, keywords can also be incorporated into the URL of each page. If your keywords for a particular page are solid wood bedroom, the page name should be www.abcfurniture.com

Links

Make sure there are no broken links in your site. Search engine algorithms consider broken links as incomplete, so the overall rating of the site is affected. Restrain yourself from the traditional “click here” link. When web bots, crawlers and spiders come across a “click here” link, they will associate the destination page with the words “click here” instead of your valuable keywords. Instead, optimize your site’s searchability and usability with full-sentence links that use verbs to direct the user what to do.

  • Example: “Click here for a price quote.”
  • Example: “Explore your furniture design possibilities.

Inbound links

Links from other websites are supreme to the rating of your site. Inbound links are like personal referrals, so these links should be from sites that are of high quality. The higher the rating of the sites that link to yours, the higher search engines will rate you. Getting inbound links is the hardest part of SEO by far. You can pay for quantity, but quality is often compromised if you do so.

  • Example: www.popularlocalblog.com/abc-furniture-is-the-place-to-shop
  • Example: www.marketplacespammer.com/abc-furniture

Part 1 of this 3-part series explained why SEO is the new normal and how companies can budget for search engine optimization campaigns. Part 3 will outline an SEO Strategy. This article was published in its entirety in the March 2010 issue of Western Retailer magazine, a publication of the WHFA.

How and Why to Utilize SEO

Part 1 of 3

seo001

Used to be, the company with the biggest Yellow Page ad won the local search wars. Businesses vied for newspaper ads above the fold, billboards at prime intersections, drive time radio and prime time TV.

Now, when print media is experiencing cutbacks, layoffs, and declining readership, it comes as no surprise that businesses are turning to online marketing alternatives to reach customers. Where many print media companies require a minimum commitment to display an ad over so many issues, website space and domain names can be purchased for low annual fees. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising on sites like Google and Yahoo allows site owners to set their own budgets and targets when setting up campaigns.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the new normal for businesses looking to compete in the 21st century. Once a niche product, SEO will continue to gain ground into the near future. According to the “Search Marketing Trends: Back to Basics” report from eMarketer, $1.5 billion was spent on Search Engine Optimization in 2008 – a number that is expected to increase 153% to $3.8 billion by 2013. (Source: Brafton.com)

seo chart

Taking even a fraction of money from your radio or print budget and setting it aside for online strategies can have a profound effect on the visibility of your business. Be sure to research the best SEO companies to determine what services are offered and which company is suited to meet your needs.

Part 1 of this 3-part series explains why SEO is the new normal and how companies can budget for search engine optimization campaigns. Part 2 will define an SEO Glossary. Part 3 will lay out an SEO Strategy. This article was published in its entirety in the March 2010 issue of Western Retailer magazine, a publication of the WHFA.