In recent years, Google has not-so-quietly been staging a bit of a takeover on the Web. Not content to be the largest search engine in the world, Google is actively working toward a “zero-click-query” environment.
Basically, Google wants to serve up answers to searcher queries—without sending them to a website. Google wants to keep users on Google.
That’s why Google is investing heavily on adding new features to their Google My Business (GMB) platform.
To stay competitive in local online search, businesses should take full advantage of the features available on GMB. Doing so will help the business develop and maintain a robust online presence that’s not solely dependent on a website for converting searchers to clients.
Today, GMB will display clickable phone numbers, hours of operation and other business information plus options to book or schedule appointments—even to make a purchase.
If you want your business to remain relevant in Google local searches—particularly branded searches—it might be time to audit your GMB presence.
What an GMB Audit Should Entail
When we conduct GMB audits for small businesses, we look at seven factors that have shown to have a significant impact on local searches and conversions.
Confirmation of a GMB Presence
A Google My Business (GMB) presence is considered the hub of your online Google presence. It’s important that businesses claim their Google My Business listing. This will be where businesses can manage the majority of information as it appears in Google.
It’s also a key factor Google references to generate a Knowledge Panel on branded searches for your business.
If you’ve been in business for a while, you probably have a GMB presence—whether you created one or not. Google is active at crawling and finding businesses.
If a GMB exists for a business, we’ll determine if the business has actually claimed it.
What Business Categories Are You Listed Under?
Business categories in GMB can be one of the most influential factors in ranking on Google and Google Maps. Being specific in your primary category can help influence rankings in a competitive environment.
Consistent Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP)
Your business name, address and phone number should be consistent throughout your online presence. A mismatched NAP between your GMB listing and your website could create consistency issues—impacting how Google shows or doesn’t show your business.
Reviews on Google continue to increase in importance in local search and reputation building. They influence both ranking and customers’ decision making. Google looks at various signals to influence its search rankings and reviews can provide the search engine with valuable information.
During an audit, we’ll look at:
Number of Reviews: Nationwide, local businesses that rank in the top 3 positions of Google Local Search have an average of 47 Google Reviews. While having a large number of reviews doesn’t guarantee rankings, it could be considered an important signal to Google that you’re an active business.
Responses to Reviews: Business responses to reviews is a signal to Google that you are an engaged business.
Keywords in Reviews: Reviews that include keywords such as specific services and products can help boost rankings for those specific searches.
Photos and Videos
Google reports that businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for directions and 32% more clicks than businesses without photos. GMB has made images an important and prominent feature in the Knowledge Panel.
Google advises businesses to include at least three strong exterior and interior images. An image of the common area and reception area. A minimum of three management and team photos.
Additionally, Google encourages businesses to include videos as part of its GMB visual presentation.
GMB provides businesses opportunities to post images, copy, call to actions (book an appointment, learn more, sign up, etc.), URL links, and events that will appear on their Knowledge Panel.
Posts can be a great way to add more information and grab searcher attention to your Google presence. Google posts are limited to 300 words of which 100 characters appear in the Knowledge Panel. Posts can appear for a maximum of 7 days on GMB. Event & offers will appear until they expire.
By adding keywords in the copy, Google Posts may appear on relevant searches.
Google Questions & Answers
GMB Question and Answers feature allows searchers to pose questions to your business. This provides the business with an opportunity to provide authoritative and expert answers that remain on your Knowledge Panel.
Google also encourages businesses to create a Frequently Asked Questions and Answers list and post these on your GMB. This is an opportunity for businesses to get out in front of potential questions the public may have about your business or services you provide.
Questions and Answers can be “upvoted” by both the business and searchers. By being the one of the first to add Q&As, your postings can be “upvoted” more frequently over time.
Don’t Have Time to Audit Your GMB? Reach Out for Help.
Surprisingly, there are a substantial amount of businesses that haven’t claimed, developed or fully used their GMB profiles. Given the importance Google is placing on this, these businesses are doing themselves a huge disservice.
We understand this all takes time to complete, manage and stay on top of. That’s why we’re here. Give Business Solutions Unlimited a call at (904) 429-4588 and let’s discuss how we can start helping your business today.
By the end of 2018, Intuit’s QuickBooks Online (QBO) surpassed 3 million users. Small business owners apparently desire live access to their accounting information from this cloud-based service.
A market that size certainly attracts the interest of app makers. Intuit lists thousands of software applications in their marketplace.
We thought we’d provide a guide to some of the more popular apps that sync well with QuickBooks Online.
With a 4.8 star rating in the Intuit app center, Method:CRM is a customer relationship management (CRM) tool that integrates communications and activities (such as leads, sales, and financial data) to employees, vendors, customers and prospects all from one platform.
Monthly subscriptions start at $25 per user. Method:CRM offers a free 30-day trial period.
TSheets Time Tracking
With a 4.9 star rating in the Intuit app center, TSheets integrates employee time tracking directly inside QBO. Employees can clock in from various devices including their smartphone, computer and time clock kiosk. Time can also be tracked against job/project codes—a useful feature for businesses working with multiple clients.
The app is free for one user. For multiple users, pay plans start at $20 per month plus $5 per additional users.
With a 4.5 star rating in the Intuit app center, Expensify seamlessly integrates with QBO to track receipts, mileage, expenses, and credit card transactions. A handy feature is Expensify’s ability to read merchant name, date and amounts of receipts with just a snap a photo from your smartphone.
Monthly subscriptions start at $5 per user per month.
With a 4.8 star rating in the Intuit app center, Business Payments syncs transactions from PayPal and Strip with QBO. This allows small businesses to automatically track invoice payments, single payments, ongoing payments, shopping cart payments, refunds, and expenses associated with the payment platform.
Monthly subscriptions are free for up to 50 transactions and start at $9 per month for up to 500 transactions.
With a 4.5 star rating in the Intuit app center, Bill Pay allows small businesses to pay bills from vendors and contractors directly from QBO with a single click—saving time on double data entries.
There are no monthly subscription fees to use Bill Pay. Transactions are $0.99 per ACH and $1.99 per check.
Customize Your QuickBooks Online to Fit Your Business Requirements
Intuit has made QBO scalable to provide customized solutions for small businesses of all types and sizes. Business owners looking to streamline their activities should look into how these apps and others can extend the functionality of this powerful online accounting tool.
Too Busy? Delegate Your Tasks
Managing a business is time-consuming. We understand. Consider delegating tasks like managing QuickBooks and looking for ways to streamline your accounting activities to a virtual assistant firm like Business Solutions Unlimited. Give us a call at (904) 429-4588, we have a QuickBooks ProAdvisor ready to help you.
For many businesses, Google My Business (GMB) is the hub of their online presence. It’s where they manage their online information as it appears in Google search, maps, photos and more.
Busy, on-the-go business owners are frequently challenged to find the time to manage their Google presence.
Recently, Google launched an updated version of their Google My Business app. The new features allow small business owners to easily manage their GMB presence and engage customers from their mobile device.
Highlights on Google My Business App New Features and How You Can Use Them
The new updates to the GMB app—available for iOS and Android platforms—brings many functions of the desktop version to your mobile device.
Post Content from Your Phone
Now, you can create Google posts to your Google My Business Profile from the convenience of your phone. This includes uploading photos or creating an offer or event.
How could you use this feature? If you’re a restaurant, upload a photo of the day’s special and post a discount offer for lunch diners who order the dish. If you’re a pressure washer, announce in the morning you’re going to be in a specific neighborhood that day, make it an event and offer a special for the neighborhood.
Engage Customers Who Connect with Your Profile
Now you can be notified in real time on your mobile device if customers connect with your business, send a message, ask a question, leave a review or book a request on your GMB profile. You can easily respond to these customers almost immediately through the GMB app.
In our opinion, this is a significant feature. Customer engagement should be a high priority for any business and the ability to do so “on-the-fly” is a potential game-changer for many business owners.
Consider that when a customer reaches out to a business for information they might be in research mode—looking for information to make a purchase decision. Businesses that respond quickly are better positioned to gain that customer’s business.
Additionally, when a customer leaves a review—good or bad—your ability to respond quickly with a “thanks” or “acknowledgment to correct an issue” helps build your reputation as a trustful and honest business.
Take a Temperature of How People are Using Your GMB Profile
The GMB app provides valuable data on your online viewers. Notably, it shows how many:
- Views to your business profile
- Searches for your business
- Viewers took action from your business profile
- People requested directions to your business
- Visited your website from your business profile
- Called your business through your business profile
- Viewed photos on your profile
This can be valuable information to analyze the impact of ad campaigns, events, special offers and publicity your business receives.
Are You Utilizing Google My Business?
Surprisingly, there are a substantial amount of businesses that haven’t claimed or developed their GMB profiles.
As GMB moves beyond just a business information platform to a robust online customer relationship management tool, businesses should consider fully using the features of this free tool.
Reach Out for Help on Tasks
While Google is definitely on the path to make managing your GMB profile easier and convenient, we understand that many business owners might feel this is just another task on their plate.
That’s why we’re here.
Give Business Solutions Unlimited a call today at (904) 429-4588 and let us handle all of the marketing tasks to better positon your business.
Wow! 2019 is already upon us.
As 2018 soon recedes into memory, it’s time to look ahead to 2019. For small businesses, it’s crucial to consider how such items like new legislation and tax deadlines can impact your day-to-day operations and monthly schedules.
Below is a list of 2019 items we think should be on a small business owner’s radar.
Keep Up with 2019 Mileage Reimbursement Rates
At the time of writing this article, the IRS has not released the 2019 standard mileage rate. We encourage you to check the IRS Standard Mileage Rates webpage for updates.
Salespeople and anyone who has a mobile-oriented job should be aware of a Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) impact to claiming mileage as a tax deduction.
As of January 1, 2018, employees can no longer deduct mileage as unreimbursed business expense deductions. This might come as a shock to people who drive a lot for their jobs as they prepare their 2018 taxes.
However, the self-employed can still claim mileage as a business expense.
If you’re a business owner with mobile employees, you might want to consider adopting a mileage reimbursement model that can help compensate for the miles they drive.
Plan Now to Use Health Flexible Spending Arrangements
Being able to set aside pretax income to cover health care costs not paid by insurance can be a significant financial benefit for employees.
In 2019, employees (not self-employed) can contribute $2,700 through payroll deductions to health flexible spending accounts (FSAs). Deadline for 2019 enrollment was November 30, 2018.
FSAs tend to be a use it or lose it account. Money not spent by the end of the plan year can be forfeited. However, some employers may offer FSA plans to carry over $500 of unspent funds into the next year. Additionally, some FSA plans allow a two and a half month grace period to spend 2018 funds in 2019.
Meeting the January 31, 2019 Deadline for W-2s & 1099s
Yes, we’ll be facing that W-2 and 1099 deadline before you know it. In order to correct potential errors, we recommend that employers prepare and distribute these well before the January 31, 2019 deadline.
Be Aware of Social Security 2019 Maximum Changes
In 2019, the maximum amount of income subject to the 6.2 percent social security taxable ceiling increased to $132,000 from $128,400.
Take Advantage of Higher Retirement Contribution Maximums in 2019
After six years stuck at $5,500, employees can now contribute up to $6,000 in your IRA in 2019. If you’re age 50 or over you can contribute a Catch-up, limit up to $1,000.
Contributions to 401(k) increased from $18,500 to $19,000. If you’re age 50 or over, you can contribute a Catch-up, limit up to $6,000. The total contribution limit for both employee and employer increased from $55,000 to $56,000 ($62,000 for age 50 or older).
If you’re self-employed, you might want to take full advantage of contributing 20% of your self-employment earnings through a SEP-IRA. Didn’t set up a SEP-IRA in 2018? Well, it’s not too late. For those that extend their 2018 tax return date, the deadline to set up a SEP-IRA and make an initial contribution for the 2018 tax year is October 15, 2019.
Too Busy? Delegate Your Tasks
Managing a business is time-consuming. Especially when you have to keep up with all of the changes from regulations to taxes. Make time by delegating tasks to a virtual assistant firm like Business Solutions Unlimited? Call us today at (904) 429-4588 and let us start keeping up with all the small details so you want have to.
From January through mid-November 2018, over 13.5 million people moved into homes across the U.S.
Of those movers, 5.5 million had a household income that ranged from $70k to $249k.
Let’s bring that large number down to a local area. According to the Associated Press, the fifth fastest growing city in the U.S. is Greeley, Colorado located in Weld County. Using the same time frame and household income range as above, we see that 8,342 people moved into homes in Weld County.
At eleven months, that’s an average of 758 potential customers per month looking for new business relationships in Greeley, Colorado.
The Small Business Opportunity with New Movers
New movers spend money. They’ll spend up to $9,000 more than established homeowners within the first six months of moving into their new homes.
Consider what new business relationships people moving into homes might need:
New Professional Services:
New Home Services:
- Home cleaning
- Pest control
New Retail Services:
- Kitchen appliances
- Flooring & carpet
The value of being one of the first businesses to welcome these new movers and invite them to use your services would be considerable—especially when you take into account the lifetime value of loyal customers.
How Do You Reach New Movers?
First, you have to acquire a list of new movers. Many data houses can sell you new mover data lists that are updated frequently. Another option would be to consider using the services a virtual assistant marketing firm with access to this data, like Business Solutions Unlimited.
Once you have the list in hand, direct mail could be a good option to reach new movers. Most of these new residents would be on the lookout for new business relationships and an inviting direct mail message could catch their attention.
Online ads would also be another option to reach new movers. Facebook demographics has a new mover option for their ads.
As you develop your 2019 marketing strategy, consider the opportunities of promoting your services to this new pool of prospects that just arrived to your area.
Reach Out for Help on Tasks
Is the task of collecting data on new movers or any other demographic, developing a marketing campaign and implementing it is just one more item on your busy schedule?
We understand how busy business owners and managers are; that’s why we’re here.
Give Business Solutions Unlimited a call at (904) 429-4588 and let’s see what we can do for you today.