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Creating your Google My Business profile is a critical part of local search. Get it right first time with our in-depth guide showing how to set-up your GMB profile.

While there are lots of ways to monitor and improve GMB performance, to start with you’ll need to set up your basic profile, free of the bells and whistles that will come later.

Google My Business is a core element of local SEO, so it’s important to highlight at this point just how crucial it is that your listing data is accurate and kept up to date. Research suggests that 50% of consumers visit a store or business the day of performing a local search, such as ‘dry cleaners near me’, and that 80% of consumers lose trust in local businesses if they see incorrect or inconsistent contact details or business names online, so you’ll want you keep your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone number) consistent across all your listings, not just GMB.

Here’s how to get your company on Google:

  1. Set up a new Google Account

Or sign into one you already have.

  1. Head to google.com/business

And click ‘Start Now’.

  1. Enter your business name

If you have the same name as another business in your region, you’ll see the autocomplete function suggest those businesses for you. This is to allow you to see if your business listing already exists (to avoid accidental duplication), and to add a new GMB profile to an existing business if you’ve just opened a new location.

  1. Enter the address of the business location

(Only if this is where your business engages in face-to-face interactions with customers).

If you’re a Service Area Business that delivers goods and services to your customers, you’ll need to tick the box at the bottom of this form. SABs have two options here:

  • If you can receive customers at your business address, enter your address here, tick the box and click ‘Next’.
  • If you don’t have any premises where customers can visit you, leave the address field blank, tick the box and then tick the ‘Hide my address (it’s not a store)’ box that appears below.

All businesses that deliver goods and services directly to their customers will have the option to specify a Service Area in the next step.

  1. Specify service areas (Service Area Businesses only).

Before you can choose your business category, you’ll need to specify the areas you serve, so that Google can accurately surface your business for searches in those areas, even without a physical address. Enter one or more regions, cities, or ZIP codes that your business serves.

N.b. At the time of writing, Google My Business is phasing out the ‘Distance around your business location’ option and has stated that these will be replaced, so we’d recommend forgoing this option and specifying regions, cities, or ZIP codes instead.

  1. Choose your business category.

This is a very important field that will not only strongly influence the kinds of search terms you appear in Google for, but also appear within your Google My Business profile. It’s also something worth testing when you come to update your Google business listing.

While you are able to adjust this later (which will require re-verification – more on this later), we’d recommend researching competitors and looking through a full list to find the most accurate category for your business.

N.b. Some Google My Business features are category-specific. For example, hotel listings show class ratings and list any amenities offered. Food and drink businesses can also add URLs to their listing for online orders, reservations, and their menu, and they can even add menu items directly into GMB. Services and health and beauty businesses may be able to add a booking button to their listing.

These are just a few examples of the sophistication that Google is developing for GMB, so it’s worth staying up-to-date on new additions to Google My Business.

  1. Add a contact phone number and website URL.

Neither is compulsory but are strongly recommended if you want to take advantage of GMB functionalities like call tracking. If you ever need to change this when updating your Google business listing, be sure to make those changes to all other business listings, too.

If you don’t already have a website, Google will even give you the option to create a new ‘Google Website’ based on the information you’ve provided. However, as we’ve shown before, there are plenty of reasons local businesses need their own unique websites

  1. Complete your Google My Business Verification.

Google obviously needs to be able to prove that your business is where you say it is, and for entirely new GMB profiles, you have three options:

  1. Postcard verification. This is the most-used verification process, and is available to all businesses. With this process, a verification postcard will be sent to the address you entered earlier (it should reach you within five days). Once received, you can entered the code in your GMB account to verify the business. If your code doesn’t show up, you can click the ‘Request another code’ banner at the top of the screen in GMB.
  2. Phone verification. Some businesses have the option to verify their listing over the phone. You’ll know you’re eligible if you see the ‘Verify by phone’ option at the beginning of the verification process. Using this process, you’ll receive an automated message with a verification code, that you’ll then need to enter into GMB.
  3. Email verification. Like phone verification, this is only available to some businesses, and you’ll know you qualify for it if you see the ‘Verify by email’ option. This simple process sees you receive a verification code in the inbox of the Google Account associated with the GMB listing and entering it at the verification stage. Be sure you have access to this inbox before proceeding with this option.

The two other options are instant verification, which is only available if you’ve already verified your business’ website with Google Search Console, and bulk verification, for businesses managing ten or more locations. You can read more about both of these options here.

What’s Next?

Once you have an officially verified listing, it’s time to optimize your Google My Business!

Now you can:

  • Add photos and videos to your listing
  • Write and optimize a compelling business description
  • Use Google My Business Q&As to understand your audience
  • Create Google My Business Posts to showcase offers and promotions
  • Add service menus and product collections
  • Encourage your most loyal customers to ‘Follow’ you on Google Maps
  • Start requesting and managing Google Reviews
  • Use the Google My Business app to:
    • Update your business hours, location, contact information, and description
    • Post statuses and pictures
    • View search insights
  • Delve into and make use of Google My Business Insights, to learn things like:
    • How many people visit your website
    • How many people searched for driving directions
    • How many people called you
    • How many people viewed photos of your business

Is your WordPress site due for another update?

WordPress (WP) is known for its regular updates which can be hard to keep up with if you’re someone who has a busy schedule. Many people don’t update their WordPress website because they think it’s just going to slow their site down. This is actually wrong.

WordPress updates do the opposite and make your site faster and better. Whatever the reason for not updating, you’re missing out on a lot of positive things you can get from the updates. In this article, you’ll find out why WP updates are important and how you can update your WordPress site safely.

Why should you run WordPress updates?

WordPress website updates are first of all made for the benefit of the users. Why do you think WP tirelessly sends an updated and improved version of WP on a regular basis?  Each update, WordPress fixes bugs and sometimes security vulnerabilities of its old version. They’re also improving on the features and performance so that users can manage their site better. Here’s why you should install WP updates.

1.   To protect your site from hackers

Updates will discourage hackers from targeting your site. Hackers usually target websites with weaknesses and updates ensure that your site is protected. Each patch fixes reported loopholes from the previous version that have been used by hackers to hijack servers and steal information from websites. By keeping your WordPress updated, you ensure that your website is equipped with all the best security features.

2.   To improve features and performance

Upgrading your WP site ensures that you have the latest features and performance enhancements developed by the WP team. Not updating your Wp site can result in various compatibility issues especially on plugins and third-party services you’re using.

You may think it’s cumbersome to update your WP site, but it’s crucial for your website. There are four common updates you need to do on your WP site:

  1. Core Updates — This update adds functional features and options to the WP core. It also includes minor bug fixes, security fixes, and internal performance enhancements. Core updates are usually important, which means ignoring the update can impact your site negatively.
  2. Plugin Updates — This kind of update can be downloaded on the WordPress Admin. All you need to do is download the new version of the plugin and overwrite the old one.
  3. Theme Updates — Themes are often regularly updated and these updates can be seen in the “Appearance” menu.
  4. Performance Updates — These updates focus on performance issues and aims to solve problems in loading speed and image optimization.

What steps should I take when updating WordPress

An overview of the process would be:

  • Backup your current site
  • Take “before” screenshots
  • Update WordPress core
  • Update WordPress plugins
  • Update your website theme
  • Perform post update website testing

The most important thing is to backup your WP site. Whenever you update something, always remember to keep a backup file. Backup files prevent permanent file loss that can happen during an update error.

If you’d prefer to hand all of this over to an experienced WordPress management team so you can have complete peace of mind that your site is up to date, we’d love to hear from you.

Are you frustrated with your slow WordPress website? Here’s what you should do.

A sluggish WP site can have a significant effect on your website. Based on data from Quicksprout,  47% of people say they expect pages to load in two seconds or less and 64% of mobile users expect sites to load in less than four seconds.

When you think about it, a second is not a big deal, however, if we’re talking about conversion rates and thousands of dollars in revenue per year, a few seconds increase in loading time can have a huge impact on your earnings. Is your slow WordPress site dragging your sales to the bottom? Here are five smart fixes you can do to improve your website loading speed.

1.  Delete plugins and add-ons you don’t use

Do you like hoarding plugins? WordPress has thousands of plugins available for free.  Plugins are optional software that can be added to your WP site. Most of them are pretty useful as they can add features and functions to your website. However, some website owners have way too many plugins—to the point that it negatively affects their site speed.

Plugins can affect your website’s loading speed by including additional HTTP requests on every page. So essentially, the more plugins you have, the slower your site will be. Some plugins may also be outdated or poorly coded.

Aside from slowing down your site, another major reason to delete unused plugins is to reduce the chance of security issues. Out of date plugins can provide a gateway to hack your site. There are many reports of hackers using plugins to get access to the site’s sensitive information such as customer’s banking details.

2.  Use a good web host

All websites need hosting. Your site needs access to a physical server to store its files. A hosting plan is like a parking space you purchase on a server to use your website. A bad web host at the very least can slow down your website load time. In serious cases, it can severely impact your business operation, security, and customer service.

However, not all web hosts are created equal. If website speed is important to you, then you must commit to investing in a good web host that provides WordPress optimised hosting. It’s always worth it to pay a little more if you want to increase your site speed.

3.  Use fast WordPress themes

You’ve finally set up your web host and WordPress site, it’s time to go theme shopping. When choosing themes, most of us pick the fanciest one or the one that looks like our favorite site. However, when it comes to choosing a theme for your website, the first thing you have to consider is the speed of its load time.

A simple and minimalistic theme with 2 seconds of loading time is always better than a fancy theme that takes more than 4 seconds! You can do a speed test by opening the demo site. If you haven’t already figured out, each theme has a demo site that you can view to see how the theme looks and works.

4.  Content Delivery Networks and HTTP compression

If your website is a little heavy on the visuals—with pages filled with gifs, images, and whatnot, you should probably start using a CDN or Content Delivery Networks. CDN works by serving content faster using an “edge server”. These servers contain downloadable content such as images for user download. They’re known for their quick delivery and low demand on bandwidth.

Another way to increase your site speed is by enabling HTTP compression. Gzip and deflate are just some of the commonly used HTTP compression formats by server platforms. HTTP compression can be enabled by editing your .htaccess file or using caching plugins. You can find them on your WP site’s setting pages.

5.  Optimize images

Perhaps one of the most overlooked factors that can cause your site speed to go down is the images on your site. WordPress sites that have too large and too many images can make pages load a lot slower. So if your primary goal right now is to increase your site speed, you should start optimizing your images. There’s a whole process to optimizing images. Here are some of the easiest methods:

  • Choosing the right file type. You can either use JPEG or PNG. If your images are heavy in color use JPEG. If your image is more of a graphic or text, go use PNG. For animated images, please use GIF.
  • Display images at smaller sizes. If you’re not an artist who needs to display high res photos then stick to the standard image sizes: 1200, 1000, 800, and 600 pixels wide.
  • Use the lazy loading script. This is not so much an image optimization but a page optimization strategy where images only load when users scroll on them.

 

WordPress is currently the most popular content management system on the internet. It powers over 30% of all websites and blogs online. It’s also the most used platform by respected brands across the world. Because of its size and popularity, WordPress also accounts for two-thirds of all hacked sites. A recent report based on data collected by Sucuri shows that 90% of all hacked CMS systems they fixed in 2018 were all WordPress sites.

What happens when someone hacks your WordPress site?

The first thing you have to know about these hackers is: they don’t choose who they want to attack, everyone is a target, no matter how big or small your website is. The consequences of being hacked are more than just not being able to log into your website account. When hacked, cybercriminals have the power to manipulate and use your data, and data from your customers, to do bad things such as steal your files, extort money, or ruin your reputation online.

Some hackers can also modify your files and inject malware that can trick customers to download malicious files thereby expanding their reach. Other hackers can put ransomware which can lock all your files, and the only way you can get access to them is if you pay their expected ransom money. Like an organized business, these hackers have all the time and resources to exploit and gain access to your site.

So what are the things that make your current WordPress website vulnerable to hackers? Here are some of the reasons:

You’re using a weak password.

Do you hate it when your password doesn’t pass the security requirements when you first make them? Are you one of those people who get extremely annoyed when they have to create complex passwords? Well, that’s what hackers live for—another lazy human who can’t spend three to five minutes to create a stronger password. In their world, you’re an easy target.

Time and time again, you’ll always see websites reminding you to think of better, longer and more complicated passwords. And they’re not doing this just to waste your time. One of the ways hackers can force their way into your site is by using the brute force strategy. This strategy involves trying different passwords to get past your login page.

The first line of defense against hackers is a solid WordPress password. So if your current username and password are weak, there’s no better time to change it than today! It can be a little bit time consuming to create a strong password, but it’s worth every second. A strong password ensures that no hacker can luckily guess it right and gain access to your site.

You’re using an outdated WordPress version.

WordPress is known as one of the most secure CMS on the web but it’s only as good if you keep your wordpress up to date at all times. Updates are very important in WordPress. Failing to update your WordPress sites can result in many major problems—including getting hacked.

Think of updates as system maintenance for your site. Every update, WordPress fixes security issues or bugs. They give us newer and improved versions so that we can use the site with utmost convenience—it’s basically free! Updating also reduces the risk of your site getting targeted and being vulnerable to hacks.

An important note: When updating WordPress, make sure you update the main version as well as the plugin and themes.

You’re not running on HTTPS.

If you want to be fully secured, upgrade your site to HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). HTTPS allows you to transfer data securely from one server to another. It makes your site more secure for your visitors so they can give you their personal details without worry. This is important in pages that require your users to give their credit card information and other sensitive information.

Furthermore, HTTPS protects your site from deceptive scripts that may be hiding in your computer or ones that are used to steal data from your login forms. Aside from security, HTTPS also helps boost your rankings in search engines. Google favors sites that are trustworthy and secure so if you’re using HTTPS, rest assured that Google already likes you.

You’re using a bad hosting environment.

Every hosting environment should offer their users monitoring and malware scanning.  Even a tiny loophole in your host’s security system can severely impact your business. A weak server is another entry point for clever hackers and this can be caused by using a bad hosting environment. Security should be one of the main priorities of your chosen hosting environment. 

When choosing your website host, make a point to compare and research your options. Don’t just go for the cheapest or the most expensive ones. Your web hosting company reflects your company and business, especially if your website is your main shopfront. Bad hosting can ruin your reputation and brand.

You’re computer has a virus.

Another overlooked yet potential way of getting hacked is through a computer virus. Many viruses today can steal data, passwords, and even remotely access your computer without your knowledge. To keep your computer safe and free from malware, always update your OS and browser. Don’t be afraid to invest your money in a good anti-virus service.

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