How to Get More Google Business Reviews

Reviews on your Google Profile can have a huge influence on your business. When you know a business is credible, your likelihood of spending money with that business increases. Put some work into your Google Business profile, it will increase your credibility.

Here’s what Google’s local results look like when searching for a service.sample google search result for "coffee shops"

Editing your profile will give you some control over what shows up here for your business in local search results. When you have a lot of positive reviews you are more likely to show up at the top. When searching a specific place, more information pops up that is critical to have control of. With specific pictures your hours of business and your top reviews.

direct search for "main roots coffee"

But businesses often find it really difficult to get reviews. There are a few things you can do to get more reviews.

Build a review link

Users normally have to go down and click leave a review on your listing. It can also be achieved through google maps. But this can be difficult to explain to customers. If you can give your customers a link on their receipt – even better if its emailed to them through something like square, or texted to them depending on business context it can make things much easier.

To build your link you must already be registered as a place on Google – meaning you’ve activated your google business profile.

The first step is really really easy! Simply copy and paste this for safe keeping -> https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=

Then find your place ID in google using this link and putting your business in the search bar.

The last step is to combine the first part of the link and the placeid that you just copied so that it looks like this.

https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=ChIJWxOW2MEDuYkRHaIBTe6_Kpo

If you want to shorten it up a bit you could always use a link shortening service like https://bit.ly

Are You Ignoring Your Google Business Profile?

You want to appear at the top of the Google search results when locals search for the service you provide. Of course you want to be the top result! Ranking as the top result nets you statistical benefit of winning the customer.

Are you showing up in the top 3 results when searching for your service plus the town or state where you provide service from?  If you are showing up top 3 thats great! Did you know Google gives you some level of control in how your business appears when searched?

Setting up a Google My Business account gives you the ability to provide the most accurate information. You’ll have to enter the address where you operate from and then validate with a code Google will mail to your location. Using this process you can claim the website you are already using. After setting up your profile you can ask for reviews, add your phone number and hours of operation. Categories allow you to show up for categories of services.

You can add photos of your work, your team, and see how many people ask for directions to your business.

All of these areas when populated with quality information give Google several positive flags that your listing will help those that are looking for you.

Is Your Marketing Worth the Interruption?

The whole concept of marketing is an interruption. Marketing comes from a need to influence people. Purchasing products, or choosing one elected official over another, the reason for each campaign is different. At the core of it though we are trying to interrupt a specific kind of person’s day and change their mind or give an offer.

In marketing, we do not already have the attention of those we want to have conversations with. So we interrupt their day and hope that the money we spent to be an interruption was worth it. That’s why marketing is such hard work. I like my routine, anything that deviates from that routine is a frustration. You are probably the same way.

Good marketing invites your attention away from your routine. When done well it will cause you to actually read that article or purchase that product, instead of opening Facebook for the 4th time in the last 10 minutes. Your marketing has to be perceived as worth more than the routines you are stepping in the way of. You better make good on that individuals attention – you might not get another shot. Attention is the premier resource, treat it with respect.

Discovering Managed WordPress Hosting Was Not A Good Fit

I’d just won the biggest project in my experience. I had no expectation at all that I would win this project. Now the reality set in that I had to make the website work.

The first question was where to host the website. Historically I’ve almost solely used Flywheel Managed WordPress. Flywheel does an incredible job. This website is hosted on Flywheel. I looked at the pricing tables and I just couldnt swallow that pill for the specifications of this project. I won the bid and the budget was set so every expense would cut into my profit.

The combination of a required peak bandwidth of 20GB and minimum 20GB of storage that has the capability to expand if need be were my main two constraints. Additionally it could not have a page view limit.

With this in mind my monthly bill would have been $75/month or more at Flywheel. I looked around through Siteground but heard enough negative things to ward me off. I ended up a Managed WordPress Plan on GoDaddy because they met the specifications.

After getting the site setup, I migrated the customers data. Then I discovered that GoDaddy’s servers were having a difficult time with the site. After installing WP Rocket I saw some gains in performance on the front end. There were issues still, the backend was creeping along and updates weren’t working well between GoDaddy’s native caching and WP Rocket.

I felt hopelessly stuck. I had already purchased the server space. Performance wasn’t up to par. After many hours of discussion with GoDaddy support there was no solution in sight.

With a great amount of frustration I continued to do my research. I ended up going to Digital Ocean and setting a $20 box there and installing WordPress myself. This is one of the greatest challenges I have ever faced. Previous to this challenge, I had very limited experience working in the terminal beyond running Gulp and VVV.

I ended up trying to provision the server three times before I experienced any level of success. Eventually the site reached a point I was very happy with. I got the installation set up properly. After getting WP Rocket installed, the site had an average first load time of 2.3 seconds.

Pieces of the managed WordPress experience were still missing. Automated backups would be HUGE for this project. Through ManageWP I was able to Automate Backups every 6 hours with offsite storage for a total of $2.08/month. For security I installed Wordfence and got a license for their pro tier at $8/month. For those at home doing the math my monthly costs on this server are

$20 – Server

$8 – Security

$2.08 – Backups

This is a total cost of $30.08 per month compared to $75+ at Flywheel or even more at WP Engine.

Running the server for this project has certainly made me thankful for the companies doing Managed WordPress well. Provisioning your own server for this first time is no joke. Security is no joke. A bunch of work and stress later and I’m not spending an extra $40 a month. Managed WordPress is an incredible service, hear me say incredible, but its not right for every project.

Organizing Larger Projects in WordPress

Building websites and organizing your files is pretty straight forward when you deliver basic postcard websites. My most recent project forced me to change my approach a bit. The project required that twelve different departments be able to update their own sections of the site. Departments would also need to put together complex pages that are not possible through the standard WordPress editor.

I could have saved myself a lot of stress if I had known what I know now.

The Improvements to My Code Structure Are

  1. Splitting functions.php into manageable single task files
  2. Using ACF Flexible Fields to offer powerful layouts

Splitting functions.php into manageable single task files

I split my functions.php file into many smaller ‘partial’ files using includes. This also helps keep the project organized in version control.

This is the whole functions.php file

The only code that goes in the main functions file is the required code and references to my code. Beyond version control, when I had a php error I could go right to the file instead of digging through hundreds of lines of spaghetti code.

Using ACF Flexible Fields to offer powerful layouts

When I started thinking of how to make it possible for twelve different departments to have complete control over what goes on their pages I almost had a meltdown. I reached out to some awesome people in the WordPress community and they pointed me in the right direction. I can’t say enough how thankful I am for Diane Kinney and Sridhar Katakam. Sridhar even has a tutorial that can walk you through the exact steps I used to get my initial prototype up.

This website would probably not have been possible had it not been for their input. The other direction I was leaning was using Beaver Builder and building custom blocks for that – I’m still interested in testing this approach out.

In the functions.php file I linked to this file

That file is where I do all of my conditional includes if a row is added on to a page it will call the appropriate code. The following is what one of those files getting included looks like.

Each one of these rows or “components” gets a corresponding scss partial to keep the styles organized and compartmentalized as well. This setup allows me to very easily update with a new component if a department requests it. If a department doesn’t want one of the components I’ve built they can just not add it to their page but they get options.

If I were to do it all over again…

If I had to do it all over again or rewrite the components I would implement the calls to ACF without the frontend dependancy such as Bill Erickson suggests in Remove Frontend Dependancy from ACF.

How To Prepare Your Website for 2017

Twenty sixteen is over. Your new chapter for your website is just about to begin. Ready for that new chapter to begin? You can turn that new page with enthusiasm. Here’s 3 things you can do to begin to take more ownership of your digital space in 2017.

Write on Your Site Regularly

Whether your tab says blog or journal or whatever you call it, publishing on your website is critical to establishing yourself as an authority. Publishing has to happen if you want to show up at the top of the Google results. I talk with clients all the time who want to show up at the top – who wouldn’t. But they want me to wave my magic wand, and it simply doesn’t work like this anymore.

I can’t want this more than you do.

John Locke – https://www.lockedowndesign.com/everyone-wants-seo/

To show up at the top of the Google results page will require ongoing work from you. Much the same as a diet. Being on a diet and eating Big Macs for all three meals won’t get you very far. You want something you’ve got to work for it. Or hire somebody to do it for you. Well… you can’t hire somebody to diet for you unfortunately!

Install an SSL Certificate

Show your customers that you care about keeping their data safe. “What is an SSL certificate” you ask. When you are shopping online or just browsing a news site you can check where the URL is in your browser to tell if the site is secure. If you are using Google Chrome you will get a little green lock.

Never shop on a website if this little lock doesn’t appear. Also http will change to https.

What does a secure website mean? It means that even if somebody gets the data you are sending to a website they won’t be able to make sense of it. Your data get scrambled. Its the same concept as the telegraphs that the Germans used to communicate in World War 2. We could get the messages the same as them but they never made sense until we figured out how to decipher them. Once the Allies developed the Enigma machine it was game over.

You want all of your traffic encrypted so nefarious individuals can’t see what you are buying or steal your precious account information like credit cards and other intimate details. In fact pretend like your day is a balloon animal and Gru (read: hacker or government) is about to ruin it.

Consider Your Visitors Using Mobile Devices Your VIP’s

When you think of using your favorite website, what does that picture look like? Are you sitting at a desk with a big monitor? Are you on the couch with a laptop? Chances are you are wherever you need be with your phone in your hand.

If your website is slow or not optimized for a phone you need to give these users the VIP treatment. Mobile browsing accounts for the majority of time spent on the internet – http://www.smartinsights.com/mobile-marketing/mobile-marketing-analytics/mobile-marketing-statistics/