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A change to insights on Google Business Profiles

By Rachael Clark  |  February 27, 2023
If your company uses a Google Business Profile, you will have experienced many changes to this platform over the last couple of years. And this month Google retires the distinction between branded, direct and discovery searches. Read on to find out why this is important and what you need to do next. 

Changes to GBP

What’s a Google Business Profile?

Google Business Profiles (formerly Google My Business listings) are a key tool for organisations. They appear on the right-hand side of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), and on Google Maps with key business information and CTAs.

This rich set of information makes them an important piece of digital real estate, with the local map often appearing before any other organic listings. 

Listings can be created manually or you may find Google has started one for you; they can be populated with user generated content and are often carefully curated by your digital marketing team or agency. 

What’s changing?

Over the years GBP profiles have become increasingly more engaging with visual features such as photos, videos and product imagery within the listing. Most recently Google has changed how you access and edit key parts of your profile, moving key parts of this functionality within the SERP rather than through the back-end platform. 

In addition to this, Google has changed how it categorises the reporting available from your profiles, most notably how it handles user searches

What were the types of searches?

Up until now Google classified the way users found your business profile into three categories: branded searches, direct searches and discovery searches.  

  • Direct Searches: These were people who found your business profile searching for your business name or address, e.g. “Sharp Ahead Reading.”  
  • Discovery Searches: These were people who find your business profile searching for a category, product, or service that your business offers, e.g. “B2B digital marketing agency.” 
  • Branded Searches: These were people who found your listing searching for a brand related to your business e.g. “Sharp Ahead.” 

These numbers were a way to gauge not only when your profile was being served, but also the level of brand awareness amongst searchers – which was particularly useful when marketing a physical location such as a coffee shop or coworking space – with the all-important discovery searches indicating how many users found your listing who may not have been aware of your brand.  

What will this effect?

If you’ve automated any reporting on these metrics through Google’s API (such as Google’s Looker Studio) you’ll need to get these updated and replaced with new metrics. 

What should I analyse now?

The performance metrics on Google Business Profiles now fall into two categories – how people found your listing and what action they take from it:

  • Views: These are how many people saw your business profile, broken down by the platform and device that they’re on.  
  • Searches: These show the search terms that people used that returned your business profile in the results. This is a useful addition to the platform and can be used as a replacement for the categorised search metrics, allowing you to analyse whether your listing is found through branded or generic searches. 
  • Plus all the interaction metrics you’d expect – calls, messages, direction requests and website clicks.  

What do we think?

The categorised search types were a great way of analysing the performance of your business profile at a glance. However, the loss of these metrics is balanced by the addition of the search breakdown within GBP – giving digital marketers clarity on what exactly is triggering your GBP profile, which can inform your SEO strategy. Top tip: If you find you’re not ranking for generic search terms consider your description, categories, products and services and…  

If you need support with your Google Business Profile or B2B digital marketing strategy, get in touch with us today for a free 30 minute consultation 
Sharp Aheads B2B Marketing Training
Sharp Aheads B2B Marketing Training

Sharp Ahead’s B2B Marketing Training

By John Woods  |  February 17, 2023
B2B digital marketing is complex. It’s hard to learn – and stay current with –  the full range of skills that’s needed to be an effective B2B digital marketer. And a lot of the resources that are widely available approach digital channels from a B2C perspective, which is often not the best starting point for B2B best practices.

Sharp Ahead wants to help our clients and others to improve their B2B digital skills. So we’re developing a range of short-form training sessions and workshops around key B2B digital marketing skills. Some examples of recent workshops:

  • SEO Fundamentals for B2B Marketers

A 2 hour workshop to give B2B marketing generalists a grounding in the key aspects of SEO. We cover the fundamentals of SEO content strategy and copywriting, and an overview of technical SEO.

This 2 hour workshop is for both marketing and sales teams. We cover how the different individuals within a B2B commercial  team can best use LinkedIn for sales outreach and to enhance their company’s branding. 

Canva is a great design tool for generalist B2B marketers who need to create tactical marketing materials day to day. Our workshop shows how to work with templates in Canva to create high quality marketing material without the need for an expert designer.

We can deliver both private in-house training sessions for teams and public workshops for a more general audience. All of our courses are bespoke so timing and subject matter can be adjusted for your specific needs.
Interested in any of the above or keen to talk through other B2B digital training requirements? Reach out to us to start a conversation and see how we could work together – we’d love to hear from you! 
Should you be using LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms Thumbnail?

Lead Gen Forms: A B2B marketer's guide on when to use them

By Jennifer Esty  |  March 17, 2022

LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms have been around for years now. They are great way to capture leads from within the LinkedIn platform. They negate the need for a landing page, and they de-risk user drop off when switching from LinkedIn to another tab.

But we get asked all the time, when should you use a Lead Gen Form vs Sponsored Content (or another ad format)?

To help with that decision, we’ve developed a handy decision tree. It’s deceptively simple and, although a little tongue-in-cheek, the principles are genuine.

Sharp Ahead LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms Decision Tree

Ready to start your campaign?

A couple of more things to keep in mind:

Lead Gen Forms are prepopulated with the users details (yay!)

But many LinkedIn users have their personal email addresses as their primary email address and don’t always have up to date information (boo!).

And if you don’t spend time on creating properly targeted audiences and useful content, there isn’t a decision tree in the world that will make those campaigns successful.

Need help from an expert? Get in touch for a free 30-minute consultation.

Smartphone with Sharp Ahead's Website on it

Using Google Optimize to implement a COVID-19 notice in a sticky header

By John Woods  |  May 7, 2020

There is no “business as usual” at the moment. Even if your business is operating normally, you can’t assume that your clients, prospects and other stakeholders will realise that. So it’s important to proactively communicate how your business is responding to COVID-19. A simple, but effective way to do this on your website is with a site-wide sticky header – like the one we are using on the Sharp Ahead website.

We like this approach because it is conspicuous and clear while being minimally disruptive of the user experience. It has essentially no impact on the rest of the page, just taking up a few vertical pixels and pushing the normal content a little further down.

If you are lucky, your website’s content management system may already have support for a sticky header. But if it doesn’t, Google have provided a simple way to implement a COVID-19 notice using Google Optimize. This can be done with the free version of Google Optimize, so there’s no technology cost, and the steps are simple enough that you should be able to implement this in an hour or so.

Here’s a walkthrough of the steps needed to implement a COVID-19 sticky header, using Google Optimize:

1) If you already have Google Optimize set up and working on your website, you can skip ahead to step 5. Otherwise, start by signing up for a Google Optimize account at https://marketingplatform.google.com/intl/en_uk/about/optimize/.


2) Follow the prompts in Google Optimize to create a new account, and a new container within that account. You will end up with a container ID that will look something like OPT-ABCDEFG.

3) Advance warning, this is the only tricky part – proceed with coffee. You will need to install the Google Optimize snippet in your website, and it needs to be added to every page. Ideally it should be included in the HTML <HEAD> section of the page, but that isn’t essential for this particular usage. You may need help from your web developers to do this. If you have Google Tag Manager, you can use that to install Google Optimize much more easily. (If you don’t have Google Tag Manager – why not? It’s a key productivity tool for digital marketing teams!)

4) For the next bit, it is much easier to work within the Chrome browser. So switch your browser if need be, and then install the Chrome extension for Google Optimize (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-optimize/bhdplaindhdkiflmbfbciehdccfhegci).

5) In your Google Optimize container, select “Create an experience”. Give your experience a name, provide the URL of your homepage and choose Google’s built-in “COVID-19 banner” experience type:

 

Screen grab implementing COVID-19 banner in sticky header via Google Optimize

6) If everything is set up correctly, you’ll see a preview of your homepage with Google’s default banner in place, like this:

Screen grab changing header text via Google Optimize

7) That default banner is a good start but most likely you will want to change the content and appearance somewhat. Use the on-screen editor controls to change the banner’s text and colours to get it the way you want it. The Optimize editor is powerful but takes a bit of getting used to. The live preview at least means you can see the impact of your changes right away.  You might need a bit of trial and error – if you get lost, you can always shut down the editor screen without saving and start again! Here’s an example of how to change the background colour of the bar to “COVID-19 Red”:

Screen grab setting header properties

8) Once you have the banner reading and looking exactly how you want it, hit the Save button in the top right of the editor screen and then click Done:

Screen Grab of Google Optimize Covid-19 Banner

9) If all is well, you’ll see the Optimize details screen with your banner experience showing as “Draft. Some setup steps must still be completed.”:

Screen grab implementing COVID-19 banner in sticky header via Google Optimize

10) You can leave most of these settings unchanged. In the “Measurement” section, click on the “Link to Analytics” button and follow the prompts to set up that connection.

11) You should now see the status change to “Draft. Ready to start.”:

Google Optimize Screen Grab

12) Hit the “Start” button to put your banner live!

Google Optimize does a pretty good job of laying out and sizing the banner for various devices, but it’s a good idea to test the end result on both a computer and a phone to make sure you are happy with it.

When things change

Google Optimize doesn’t allow an Experience to be edited after it has been put live. So if you need to change your banner, log back into Google Optimize and make a copy of the Experience. Make your edits to the copy, then stop the original banner and start the new copy.

Speak to an expert

If you are concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on your paid media strategies, or on any other aspect of your B2B digital marketing, speak to an expert at Sharp Ahead today. We offer a free 30-minute remote consultation.

Are UK VARs investing too much time and money in social media, at the expense of basic best practice?

By Jennifer Esty  |  February 22, 2019

Analysis of the digital footprint of the UK’s top 100 value added resellers reveals the sector lags behind in implementing digital best practice—and may need to reconsider how marketing time and spend is allocated.

What is digital best practice?

 

In a report commissioned by channel marketing experts, coterie, 61% of VARs were missing at least one basic digital best marketing practice. The most common failures were not properly curating their Google knowledge panel or their Google search engine results pages.

Why is this important?

 

90% of B2B buyers will look online before making a purchasing decision, failure to be found—and to provide basic information—means not even getting on the consideration list for new opportunities.

What should VARs focus on?

 

From the research, 69% of companies are doing a good job generating social content, specifically on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Social content strategies are labour-intensive and require ongoing investment, whether in internal or external resource. Whilst organic social content is important, companies run the risk of investing time and money publishing content in an echo chamber of existing contacts (customers, employees, suppliers and, yes, recruitment agents).

Prospects are harder to reach with organic social and for growth-focused companies this investment might need a rethink.

Conversely, only 35% of companies are doing a good job with onsite user experience. Arguably a conversion optimised website focused on prospect journeys will have a higher return on investment. Even if it is hard work to get right, positive UX only requires one-off investment every few years and should easily pay for itself.

What next?

 

To find out how you can outperform the top 100 UK VARs, and for more best practice tips, download the full report or contact us.

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