Digital Trends for SMB’s in 2014

Looking back on the past year, the importance of maintaining your business in the digital realm is readily apparent. Gone are the days of thumbing through a phone book, reorganizing your Rolodex, and coupon-clipping apart your local paper. Real-time information, mapping, and customer reviews are ubiquitous in local search. A wealth of information is at the click of a button - at least it’s expected to be -- if you’re a consumer. Consider some of this data. According to a Cisco update, global mobile data traffic grew an overall 81 percent last year. To help put that in perspective, consider that mobile data traffic this year was almost 18 times the size of the entire global internet data traffic in 2000, and more than 500 million new mobile device connections were accounted for in the last year. The growth is exponential. At the end of 2013, a Business Insider... [More]

The Roots of the "Smartphone"

Can you imagine a small screen without touch these days? Just short years ago, touch screens literally didn’t exist. The best mobile device available was like a Palm Treo or some other bogus color screen device with a keyboard. Just 10 years ago we all coveted the Motorola Razr! Again, just short 7 years ago, “smartphones” as we know them today did not exist even as a vision in our brains. [More]

Customer Review Card for Google Places [Template]

Having good quality reviews on your Google+ Local page (i.e., Place page) not only influences your ability to convert prospective customers, but can affect your local search ranking. Most customers won’t know to leave you a Google Places review, so it is important to promote or actively encourage customers to give honest reviews. [More]

10 Customer Review Building Tips for Google+ Local

Customer reviews are a fundamental part of your local marketing efforts and online reputation. If you can get enough good ones, they can go a long ways. A slew of good reviews can boost both your local search ranking as well as click-through rate (CTR), which should ultimately lead to converting more customers. A Local Consumer Review Survey (2012) showed that approximately 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, while 52% said that positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business. But building customer reviews, and doing it ‘the right way’, especially on Google (with all of their flip-flops and recent updates) has been a dizzying process for SMBs.... [More]

Reflecting on EZlocal’s Recent Google Engage Event

In cooperation with Google last week, we hosted our first Engage event, inviting a handful of local business owners to participate at our Oakbrook Terrace office. When word came of free food, G-swag, and Google bigwigs answering questions real-time, the event RSVPs came flooding in. Despite this also being timed with the biggest winter snowstorm of the year, the event carried on uninterrupted. Chicagoans are tough! For those of you that missed out, here is a brief recap of what stuck out in our minds during Google’s 90-minute presentation: Google is focusing in on extending their marketing knowledge to small and mid sized businesses. A bit data heavy at times, all three speakers really opened the information floodgate early. VP of Google’s Americas Marketing, Lisa Gevelber, opened the live presentation with the direction of Google’s marketing efforts, and the effect technology is havi... [More]

The age of mobile is upon us! Get on board or suffer the consequences!

A little overboard? Probably. But with the avalanche of data over the past year and blog after article after write-up about the future of mobile, it is pretty clear this is an area of big interest to marketers. The progression of our information gathering methods has always pointed to a personalized mobile experience, though. Think about it. First, we sent messengers on horseback or trained birds to a location to gather intel and return to us. Then we decided to build libraries and venture to these locations ourselves. Eventually the hike became too much and we demanded up to date informat... [More]

Facebook Graph Search: First Impressions

I have been playing with Facebook Graph Search for a few days now. It certainly isn't the Google killer that a lot of sites have played it up to be, not yet at least. My overall first impression: A nice improvement to the user interface, but lacks meat on the bones yet. From a design and user experience perspective, I love it. It integrates into the original, familiar blue bar seamlessly. They removed the search box and left only a place to type. If anything, this will make Facebook easier to navigate to things I do not have shortcuts to already. +1. The default search options are all pretty useful. They give you, with no typing required: My Friends, Photos of my friends, Restaurants nearby, Games my friends play, Music my friends like, Photos I have liked. All of the options seem pretty optimal for content discovery. [More]

SALSA: A Recipe for Local SEO

Local search algorithms these days are a finicky bunch, so why not just give them what they want? Okay, so you’re a small business owner and you’re overwhelmed and thoroughly confused by even basic online marketing. I get it, Local SEO itself can be dizzying. Even the pro’s in the SEO community struggle to keep up with Google’s numerous shifts, and occasional fumbles, in this space. Not to mention, being on your own, means going up against bigger and more prominent local brands, capable of leveraging consumer affinity to quickly amass things like reviews, +1’s, like’s, and check-ins on a more reliable basis. But that doesn't mean the local space is without unique opportunities for you, with your limited marketing budget, to compete and ultimately outrank your larger counterparts. Google has stated in the past that 20% of all PC-based search is related to local. And if you couple that with the surge in mobile, where [More]