Local SEO - 6 Steps for Better Local SEO

6 Steps For Better Local SEO

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Performing well in local search doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s a list of 6 simple steps you can do to make sure your Local SEO is on point.

1. Make sure you’ve claimed or created a Bing for Business & Google Business Page.
This is one of the most important things you can do for your local SEO. Having a verified Google & Bing Business page will make your local listing show up when people search for your particular service. Local listings in Google Search stand out and most visitors don’t scroll past them. Make sure you’re business is verified on Google & Bing. To verify your business on Google go here, for Bing go here.

2. Select all of the appropriate categories for your business.
Google & Bing Local pages get served based on relevancy to the users search. The primary categories listed on your local business pages will tell the search Engine what services you offer and will show your page to people searching for that service. Double check your business profiles and make sure you have your categories filled in.

3. Have complete Google & Bing Profiles.
Having a complete profile will give you the extra boost you need. Make sure your about section, hours of operation, website URL, service locations, and all contact information is filled in.

4. Add Photos
Adding your logo and appropriate photos to your Local Business pages will help them stand out in search. Giving you the opportunity to get more website visits, phone calls, walk-in-traffic etc.

5. Check your local listings on a regular basis.
Sometimes people will recommend edits to your local listings that may not be accurate. Or they may ask you for more information regarding your business. It’s a good idea to log in to them and make sure there aren’t any pending notifications.

6. If Possible, Enable Reviews
If your business allows, enable Reviews on Google & Bing. Profiles with positive reviews will rank better over pages without them. Potential customers also use Google Reviews as a quick way to judge the legitimacy of a business. If you’re profile has more reviews than your competitor it’s likely they will go with you instead.

The 6 steps listed above are geared towards your local business profiles which is just one avenue of having great Local SEO. For those that would like to take things a step further, make sure you have a website that has pages geared towards the keywords you are targeting. (IE Used Car Dealership, Hotel, Coffee Shop, Restaurant, etc.) Google & Bing serve the most relevant local listings to searchers. That means if you’re website seems more relevant for a specific term Google & Bing will give your local listing preference over the others. Ranking higher in local search can have a dramatic impact on the visibility of your business.

Facebook Page Verification

Is Your Facebook Page Verified?

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If you’re using Facebook for business you need to make sure your page is verified! Look next to the name of your page, does it have a check mark next to it? If not you need to verify your Facebook Page immediately.

Why does my page need to be verified?

Having your page verified on Facebook will make it show up higher in search results, allowing more people to find and connect with your page.

How to Verify Your Facebook Page

Visit the page you’d like to verify, click settings in the top right corner. In the General Settings section you should see Page Verification. If you’re page is not verified click verify now. Facebook will attempt to call the phone number listed for that business. If you have access to that phone line, simply record the pin number they provide you, enter the pin you received on your screen and you’re done! If there isn’t a phone number listed for the business or if the number doesn’t match other sources you will have to verify by uploading documents showing your business name and other appropriate information.

SEO For Restaurants

SEO for Restaurants in 2017

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Getting more foot traffic into your restaurant can be a challenging and overwhelming task…The truth is there’s a thousand different ways to market a business and attract customers. We are only going to focus on one of those methods in this post, Search Engine Optimization (SEO for Restaurants). After performing some local SEO for a Restaurant in Mesa AZ, We’ve compiled a list of 10 actionable steps restaurant owners can take to reach more customers in 2017. Read More

How To Use Social Media To Market Your Business

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How to Use Social Media to Market Your Business

If it’s your job to use social media to promote a product or service and you’re not 100% confident in what you’re doing then we have something for you!

Ever wonder things like…

Am I using the right platform?
Are people interested in what I’m offering?
What should I be posting?
How often should I be posting?
Where should I be posting?
Does social media really work?
How do I run an ad campaign?
What is organic posting?
How do I get the most bang for my buck?
How do I create a target audience?
We will be addressing all those points and more in our upcoming class “How to Use Social Media to Market Your Business”

Tuesday February 7th, 2017
5:15pm- 6:30pm
Great Falls College MSU Lifelong Learning

Sign up online at


SSL Certificates now required for SEO

SEO In 2017 – SSL Encryption Is Now Mandatory

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Danger! Your Search Engine Rankings Could Be Affected!

As of January 1st 2017 SSL Encryption is now a ranking factor in Google’s Algorithm. What does this mean? It means Google is now penalizing any site that doesn’t provide a SSL secure connection. Have you ever noticed the green padlock next to the URL? That green padlock means that the website you are using is secured using some sort of SSL encryption. This means if you submit a contact form or an online donation all the data sent over the web is encrypted. Without SSL encryption any information you submit through a web form is not encrypted and is very unsafe.

How will this affect your search engine rankings?

Check your website for yourself. Do you see the green padlock? Does your website url read http or https? If your website is not encrypted it will be penalized in Google search. That means secure websites will receive favor over sites without SSL encryption. This is great news for secure sites but extremely bad news for non-secure sites… if you don’t have a SSL secure website you should look into having it updated right away.

What should you do if your website is not SSL secure?

If you have a web developer contact them immediately and ask what they can do to install a SSL certificate on your site. If you don’t have a web developer and only a web host you can try asking your host if they can install an SSL certificate. For quality SSL we recommend GEOTRUST certificates or if you prefer the new free option, check out Let’s Encrypt. If you need assistance adding an SSL certificate to your website find a web professional in your area.

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You’ll Never Achieve Your Goals if You Don’t Set Them to Begin With

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Goal setting has always been a challenge for me. I pretty much suck at committing to anything. Except for the big important stuff like God, marriage, and family. But everything else…I’m terrible. Going to the gym, diets, routines, reading plans, eating healthy, pretty much anything. I am an 80/20 girl through and through. I can commit to something 80% of the time. Like eating for example, I eat healthy 80% of the time, I workout 80% of the time, I read 80% of my book, I’m on time to 80% of my meetings. I’ve just never been an all in 100% kind of person. It stresses me out. I can’t even commit to a 7 day teeth whitening kit. By day 4 or 5 I’m done or I only manage to do it every other day, which I’m pretty sure just defeats the purpose.

So when it comes to setting goals, I get a little freaked out. I’m afraid to define any real goals because what if I can’t reach them? What if I can’t commit to them? So in the past I’ve never set any specific goals. But as an entrepreneur that’s pretty much the worst thing you can do. You have to know where you’re headed if you want to actually get there. This past year was the first year we really set goals for our business. And you know what? Not only did we meet our goals but we exceeded them. Once we started defining goals and writing them down did we actually start to see a change. It’s amazing what setting goals and actually writing them down can do for your ability to focus and follow through.

So as 2016 ends and 2017 begins, I’m excited! I took time to think about what it is that I really want to accomplish, wrote it down, and then started to take action steps to move towards meeting those goals.

The key to goal setting I’ve learned is the more specific the better. So instead of setting a goal like “this year I’m going to grow my business” we set an annual revenue goal followed by how we were going to actual achieve that revenue goal. Instead of setting a goal like “this year I’m going to be more active on social media” we defined how often we are going to post and what kind of content we are going to produce. Once we did that we got to work on actually producing the content so that we could post as often as defined in our goal.

And little by little it’s those small steps that will set the course for our year and set us up to actually achieve those goals.

As I look back on 2016, our growth wasn’t because of one major decision but a series of mindset shifts and small steps that completely transformed the way we think, the way we act, and thus the entire outcome of our business.

What we do today really does affect what happens tomorrow. It all starts with being intentional. Being intentional about growing your business and moving forward starts with setting a goal so that you know what direction to move towards and what actions to take.

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Lessons Learned in 2016

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This past year was challenging. It was probably one of the hardest years we’ve ever had…and yet it’s been completely, utterly, amazingly, wonderful.  It’s weird the way heartbreak and gratitude can go hand in hand. This year was all about growing. Growing financially, spiritually, and emotionally. I’ve learned that growth happens in the hard times. And for that I am deeply thankful. Without the obstacles we faced this past year, I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am today.

This year I learned what it’s like to go without. I learned what it’s like to be hungry. I learned what its like to be completely broke. I’ve learned what its like to have my account overdrawn day after day after day. I’ve learned what it’s like to feel like a complete failure. I’ve learned what it’s like to almost completely give up on my dream.

But I also learned what it’s like to receive.  I learned what it’s like to be in need but then to have blessing poured out on me in a completely unexpected way. I learned what it’s like to feel the unconditional love and support from family and friends. I learned what it’s really like to live under God’s grace.

And I learned what it’s like to succeed. I learned what it’s like to set goals and then meet them. I learned what it means to be patient and to keep working no matter what. I learned what it means to have faith regardless of my circumstances. I learned what it means to balance work and family. I learned what it means to be able to give back and to have compassion, understanding, and empathy for others who are also struggling.

I learned what it means to be truly thankful regardless of what I have or do not have. I learned that things can be given and they can be taken away and I can be content and joyful with both. I learned that money is never the bottom line. I learned to be motivated by love for others instead of love for money.

As I look back on this past year and all the storms I had to weather and all the obstacles I had to overcome, I realize I never thought I would be where I am today. In the face of failure our business thrived, in the midst of opposition my relationships flourished, and when desperation closed in faith broke through.

And I’ll end this chapter anxiously looking forward to the next one. Happy New Year!

SSL Certificates now required for SEO

Why Businesses Need SSL Certificates for Their Website Starting January 2017

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Cyber attacks happen more than anyone likes but in January 2017, an extra layer of protection will be enforced by Google. Google is set to begin allowing pop-ups when a website does not have an SSL certificate which will cause many businesses to suffer if they do not comply with the new rules.

What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layers. These certificates create additional security to the standard HTTP communications. You can tell if a website has an SSL certificate when the web address includes “https” which is different from “http” because of the additional security. While it is important for a website to show “http” in their web address as a level of security on a website, especially for e-commerce sites, the SSL certificates add the cryptographic component that is essential for added security.

How Does an SSL Certificate Provide Extra Protection?

Without an SSL certificate, information is processed directly to a website server which leaves it susceptible to attackers. An SSL certificate will ensure that all communication between a customer computer and the server is encrypted in a secure way so the information cannot be easily obtained by attackers. The information goes through multiple levels of security to verify both parties are who they say they are. This added protection makes doing business online safer and more reliable. If there is an issue on either side of the communication, it will stop until it can be remedied. This can stop hackers in their tracks.

How Will it be Enforced?

Beginning in January of 2017, Google will start popping up alerts on websites that either require login information or have payment fields that do not yet have an SSL certificate for their website. This is an alert that will show the potential customer that the website may not be protected and precaution should be used when approaching a transaction. While these pop ups will be

friendly alerts, they will begin to become more harsh after a few months when the alerts become more than warning of possible safety issues. Instead, they will show that the website is not safe to do business with. While the customer will still be able to make their own decision about continuing use on the website, it will be strongly encouraged that they do not proceed. Additionally, these pop up notifications will apply to all websites, not just those that require a login or have payment fields.

What Can Happen if a Business Does Not Get One for Their Website?

Many websites request data from their visitors. E-commerce websites are some of the most dangerous if they do not have extra security measures because sensitive information, such as a credit card number, login information for accounts, and other personal information, is transferred. For customers who are concerned about cyber security and keeping their information safe, seeing these pop ups will likely prevent them from doing business with the company online. There are many businesses who only have an online presence and if they fail to comply with these new regulations, they could suffer a big hit to their profits.

What Should Businesses Do Going Forward?

The first thing that should be done is the company should get and SSL certificate for their website. Especially if the website is an online merchant, there is a responsibility that falls on the company to protect the private information of their customers. This does not just protect the customers, but also the company. It will no longer leave you as susceptible to hacking and, therefore,

will keep you in good standing with your customers. If you store private information in a database, an SSL certificate can help protect the data. Additionally, if your website requires anyone to log in with a username and password, and SSL certificate will provide you with adequate security that your customers will appreciate. You should get an SSL certificate prior to January 2017 so you do not run the risk of losing customers because of the security pop up. If you do not have an e-commerce website or one that requires a log in or payment fields to be filled out, you should still consider getting your SSL certificate so you can maintain your validity online. These requirements will be enforced along all websites eventually and since it is starting soon, now is a great time to protect your website, your company, and your customers by getting an SSL certificate.

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Success is a Mindset

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Success is a mindset.

Success is an attitude.

Success is not defined by our circumstances, our bank account, or our reputation.

We are not successful because of a label others give us. We have not arrived when someone else tells us we have arrived.

We are successful when we begin to view ourselves that way. Our ability to elevate ourselves comes from within. And it’s not to an elevation of pride or of fame or fortune. It’s our unique ability to think differently. Our ability to elevate ourselves from depression to passion. From sorrow to joy. From passive to proactive. From self pity to selflessness. From idleness to productiveness. The power to elevate comes from within and every level of elevation is defined differently for each of us. And only we can truly define what this is for ourselves.

This isn’t a comparison game, it’s not a label game, it’s not a game for anyone to participate in but ourselves.

If there is something that owns us, that traps us, that has a hold over us, success comes when we start to change our thinking, our outlook, our mentality, our actions to elevate ourselves from that situation. If you come from a place of negative thinking and you’ve broken that habit, you are successful! If you come from a place of insecurity, a life lived in fear of what others think and you are able to overcome that mindset you have achieved success! If you come from a life controlled by addiction and darkness and you’ve found freedom from that, you have won! AND your victory belongs to you. Your life has been changed. You have been transformed. That victory is real, it is powerful and you own that!

The confidence that comes from that victory gives you the growth and conviction and confidence to move on to the next battle. Because there will always be another battle. There will always be another challenge, another season of trial and tribulation. Our ability to move beyond and grow is not limited to a one time thing, it is a lesson learned that will continue to mature and develop and refine as we do. But we are victorious in that ability. We have the ability to conquer our demons, our chains, our prisons regardless of what they look like or how powerful they seem. We have done it before and we will do it again. We will not give up, we will not be defeated.

For every single one of us that story is different. But my story and your story holds no more value or significance than another’s. That is a gift, that is freedom, that is victory. That is how we move through this life from one season to the next, continually learning, growing, fighting and winning.

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Death to the 30 Second Elevator Pitch

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It’s commonly accepted that a good elevator pitch can be the key that opens the door to great conversations and new leads at any networking event. It’s often believed that when an elevator pitch is worded and delivered in just the right way the recipient will be so enticed that their only logical response will have to be “Really, tell me more!”

Here’s the flaw with the Elevator Pitch Theory…

  1. it works under the assumption that its actually possible to sell yourself in 30 seconds
  2. it doesn’t pre-qualify the recipient of the pitch
  3. it requires listening and genuine interest on the part of the recipient
  4. all the stars have to align and you have to play every card right in order to guarantee it’s success

And if all that wasn’t enough, the truth of the matter still remains that most people hate cold-calling, networking, starting a conversation with a stranger, or doing anything that involves putting themselves out there in any way that has the potential to set them up for rejection.

This fear of rejection is what stopped me in my tracks for a long time. As an entrepreneur it was my responsibility to get my name out there, make contacts, and get new leads. And guess what, I was terrible at it and because of that our business was failing. So when you mix failure with fear you pretty much get a disastrous recipe for nothing…no leads, no new contacts, no new business…just a whole lot of nothing. Which pretty much just leads to more nothing and more failure.

But at some point every business owner faces the dilema of how to grow their business, how to get the word out there, how to meet new people and build those relationships. Because after all, in business it’s never about what you know but who you know.

So maybe you’ve been there, maybe you are there and you’re desperately hoping there’s a better way…just like I was.

About a year ago I came to a turning point. Like a drastic, things will never be the same again kind of turning point. I was at rock bottom, on the verge of quitting when I decided to give it one last Hail Mary because at that point, I had nothing left to lose. It didn’t take any money, because I had zero, actually I’m pretty sure I had less than zero at that point, and it didn’t take a whole lot of confidence either because that was in short supply as well. It didn’t require any special skills because I’m really not that talented at anything. No genius formula, none of those tortuous old school marketing techniques like cold- calling and no new fangled marketing techniques like Adwords or Facebook Campaigns. Because seriously, when you’re at your lowest point and your accounts are overdrawn and there’s no food in your house and barely any gas in your tank, your options really are limited.

So what did I do? I used the only thing I had, my genuine interest in other people. I stopped focusing on my situation, I took my eyes of myself and I stopped worrying about leads and sales. The pressure of the next sale was what was suffocating me and I was so afraid of failure that fear cut my legs out from underneath me. But at that point things were so bad that since it pretty much couldn’t get much worse, it gave me the freedom to finally just let it go. I got up, I got away from the computer, I got away from the phone, I got out of the house and I jumped in feet first into starting conversations with other people. My only goal was to build relationships. I did not care if they ever did business with me. All I wanted was people to know my name and remember that I asked questions, listened, and made them feel good about themselves. I was going to support their businesses without ever expecting them to support mine.

And within a month, our business revenue doubled.

Our business revenue tripled by the third month, and quadrupled by the fourth. And what started out as the worse year we’d ever had turned into the best year we’ve ever had.

So what does all that have to do with the Elevator Pitch? I have a point, I promise.

The thing is when you’re at a networking event or having a conversation with someone you’ve never met before you’re trying to make an impression. You’re trying to do or say something that’s going to make them remember you. So you pitch your “amazing” elevator speech. “I help people live more and worry less” “I shape the minds of the future” “I bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be” “I help businesses triple their revenue within 6 months” “I drive qualified traffic to websites” “I save lives”… Whatever it is, whatever it is that you do, the flaw with the elevator pitch is that it’s all about you. You use 30 seconds to entice someone else to ask about what you do so you can have the opportunity to sell yourself and tell them all about how you can make their life better. The ultimate goal of the elevator pitch is to help you.

Here’s what I’ve discovered that’s 100 times more effective than the elevator pitch and works every single time. If I have 30 seconds to make a first impression with someone I am going to use all 30 of those seconds and then some to focus completely on them. I’m going to ask questions about them, I’m going to hang on every word they say, I’m going to respond and I’m going to be 100% genuinely interested in every single thing they have to say regardless of the topic. I’m going to do my best to make them laugh and to communicate to them that they are interesting and significant. Those first 30 seconds are going to stretch into 5 minutes and then into 20 minutes and sometimes those conversations can last a very long time. In doing all of that I’ve just laid the foundation for a positive new relationship. They will remember me. They may not have any idea about what I do that day but eventually they will ask and when they do, I can guarantee they will be interested and they will be listening. And 9 times out of 10, they will refer me to their friends and colleagues and if they are ever in need of what I offer, I will be the first person they call.

People do business with people they like and trust. Most people approach sales by focusing on “How do I get more business?” instead of “How do I get people to like me and trust me?. Building your business is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Cliche`, I know but totally true. Business is also all about people. Regardless of what you do or sell, whether you are a B2B or B2C business, everything you do is still built around people. So stop focusing on the sale and start focusing on the relationship. Be more interested in the relationship than the sale.

So the next time you have the opportunity to network or meet someone new, forget about yourself. Forget about what you need, what your business needs, forget about making a sale or establishing a new lead, and just be interested in the other person. It makes the conversation easier, more meaningful, and unforgettable. If you can make someone else feel good about themselves for any reason, they will immediately like you and never forget about the conversation they had with you.