Boles joins real estate firm - Mount Airy News

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Boles joins real estate firm - Mount Airy NewsBoles joins real estate firm - Mount Airy NewsPosted: 16 Jun 2020 12:00 AM PDTBolesLori Boles recently joined Yadkin Valley Real Estate Inc. and Farms Land & Country Homes as a professional sales broker.As a new Yadkin Valley Real Estate Broker, she will be assisting buyers and sellers with their residential and commercial real estate needs in the Mount Airy and surrounding areas. Under the Farms Land and Country homes banner, she'll be assisting buyers and sellers of rural properties in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Yadkin Valley appellation. Boles is a member of the National, State and nearby Winston Salem Regional Association of Realtors.Boles began her real estate career in 2017 and has been a top producing real estate broker every year. Before that, she owned and operated a successful hair salon for 24 years.She lives in Pilot Mountain with her husband Richard and their two twin children. She has an older marri…

“The most-searched recipes on Google to inspire your next quarantine meal - USA TODAY” plus 1 more

“The most-searched recipes on Google to inspire your next quarantine meal - USA TODAY” plus 1 more


The most-searched recipes on Google to inspire your next quarantine meal - USA TODAY

Posted: 28 May 2020 02:44 PM PDT

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Coronavirus and quarantine has changed Americans' workout routines, so what is the right amount of exercise? USA TODAY

Have you been searching for recipes during coronavirus quarantine? You're not alone.

As people are stuck at home during the pandemic, cooking has turned into a newfound hobby to cure boredom and sometimes a necessity as restaurant food is less accessible. 

But what exactly have people been interested in cooking during quarantine? We dove into some Google search data to see what people have been looking for online.

In no particular order, here are six of the most-searched foods on Google while everyone's staying at home, along with some related recipes.

We've included both savory dishes and sweet treats in this list. But If you're looking specifically for baking recipes, we've got you covered. Or if you're looking to go on an adventure with your taste buds, check out these recipes from around the world.

Secret recipes to make in quarantine:United Airlines' stroopwafel, Disney's beignets and more

Banana bread

Don't want to waste your overripe produce? Use up your brown bananas by making a sweet treat that will appeal to kids and adults alike. Here are two options.

Chrissy Teigen's tried and true: According to the star, perfecting this recipe, which is found in her cookbook "Cravings: Hungry for More," took her "nearly a year." Luckily, it will only take you an hour and 15 minutes to actually prepare and bake. 

Vegan version: If you're looking for a banana bread without animal products, give The Simple Veganista's version a try. There are also tasty add-in options like chocolate chips and nuts. 

Five ingredients or less: Easy recipes you can make during coronavirus quarantine

Quarantine Diary: Kyra Sedgwick is baking banana bread and wiping down groceries just like the rest of us

Meatloaf

Who knew this classic dinnertime dish was making such a comeback? Not us! Until we saw the search numbers. Here's how to make it at home.

The classic: The Wholesome Dish's "Best Classic Meatloaf" recipe takes about an hour and has garnered reviews of five stars out of five.

Low-carb creation: If you're looking to skip the breadcrumbs, Delish.com's "Bacon-Wrapped Keto Meatloaf" is sure to please.

Pancakes

Flapjacks, hotcakes, little circular pillows of joy – whatever you call them, pancakes are popular in quarantine. Want a breakfast pick-me-up with countless topping options? Get flipping with these recipes.

Classic cakes: If you want to be transported to your childhood, Allrecipe.com's "Good Old Fashioned Pancakes" should do the trick.

Missing ingredients? No problem. If you're out of milk or eggs, you can still whip up some pancakes with Food.com's dairy-free version. 

Yes, there are still things you can make: What to bake when you're out of eggs, milk or butter

Oatmeal cookies

Classic cookie:Joy Food Sunshine's version aims to please, promising "crispy edges with soft and chewy centers." Yum! You can also add in your favorite mix-ins like chocolate chips or raisins. 

Low on supplies? That's OK! The Big Man's World's "3 Ingredient Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies" only call for bananas, rolled oats and peanut butter (and, if you want, chocolate chips). Bonus: The recipe is also vegan!

Baked ravioli

An easy bake: Were you able to snag a bag of frozen cheese ravioli at the store? Great! You can throw them and a few other ingredients together for Betty Crocker's ravioli bake.

Looking for a bit more bite? Try Land O' Lakes' crispy baked ravioli as an appetizer, meal or even a tasty, cheesy snack.

Sourdough crackers

Simple squares: If you're looking for a plain sourdough cracker recipe that can easily be paired with an assortment of dips and toppings, try King Arthur Flour's version, which is lightly salted. 

Flavor-packed: If you want your crackers to pack a bit more punch in the flavor department, try Zesty South Indian Kitchen's version, which is a cheddar cheese and rosemary sourdough cracker. 

Staying Apart, Together:Simple gestures go a long way in the coronavirus era

49 basic cooking tips: Things you should know while cooking in quarantine

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13 Essential Google My Business Optimizations for 2020 - Business 2 Community

Posted: 07 Jun 2020 06:06 AM PDT

Any business today needs targeted visibility on Google. Most businesses know that this requires optimizing their website and Google Ads, but what most don't know is that there is a third entity that also needs optimizing: their Google business listing. Formally known as your Business Profile, this powerful listing is a dynamic snapshot of your business that highlights your best features and enables potential customers to quickly find, learn about, and engage with you—all from the SERP. The best part? It's completely free.

google my business optimization full listing bark city

Click to view full-size image.

And yet, despite the 167 billion searches performed on Google each month, a BrightLocal study showed that the typical Google business listing only averages 1,260 views during that same period (that's 0.00000075%!). Even worse, only 59 actions are taken from those 1,260 views. That's less than 5%.

The problem is not the Google My Business platform; it's that not nearly enough businesses take full advantage of its impressive features. And that's why we've written this guide. Here, we're going to share 13 optimization strategies:

  1. Claim your listing
  2. Complete every section
  3. Use consistent name and contact info
  4. Include hours of operation and special hours
  5. Select primary and secondary categories
  6. Mark off applicable attributes
  7. Write a complete "from the business" description
  8. Publish Google posts weekly
  9. Upload new photos weekly
  10. Answer questions
  11. Collect and respond to reviews
  12. Add your products and/or services
  13. Add any industry-specific details

With these optimizations, you can turn your listing into the best free customer acquisition tool you didn't know you had. Let's get into it.

Note: As mentioned above, the more familiar term "Google business listing" is formally known by Google as your Business Profile, but we're going to stick with "business listing" to avoid confusion.

What does an optimized Google business listing look like?

Before we get into the strategies, let's make sure we're on the same page about what a Google business listing looks like and why you need one. To help you visualize what you're striving for and why, let's take a look at a mockup of an incomplete Google business listing versus a complete and optimized listing.

google my business optimization optimized vs unoptimized labeled

Click to view full-size image.

Here, Carl's Google listing is a short box, but Ernie's Google listing would show even more when you scroll. This diagram doesn't encompass all of the features of an optimized Google business listing, but it does give you an idea of how much more attractive and engaging an optimized profile is.

Why you need to optimize your Google business listing

The comparison above makes it clear that an optimized Google business listing helps consumers to choose your listing over competitors, but there are other benefits to optimizing your listing for effective local marketing.

Improve engagement

More and more, consumers are entering and exiting Google without going to any other website. Why? Because the information in search results pages themselves is fully answering their questions, resulting in "zero-click searches." With potentially more consumers interacting with your businesses through your Google listing than your website, you'll want that listing to be optimized for quality engagement and conversions.

Boost your local ranking

Google's algorithm for ranking business listings does not just consider proximity and relevance but also activity and quality of information. Optimizing your Google business listing sends these signals to Google to rank you higher in local results. And higher rank, as you know, means more visibility and engagement with your business.

google my business optimization three pack local rank geek squad

Completing your Google listing in full can help your business to rank in search results like these.

Convert more customers

A regular Google listing alone doesn't offer much in the way of acquiring customers. They can find out where you are located and read your reviews—if they know to search your business name in the first place. But with an optimized Google business listing, consumers can discover you in keyword searches, call you, visit your website, research your products and services, view/contribute FAQs, request a quote, book an appointment, make a reservation, and more.

How to optimize your Google business listing

Now that you see that optimizing your Google business listing is the key to getting found in local search, standing out above competitors, and winning customers online, it's time to get to work on doing just that. Here are 13 ways you can turn your Google listing into a 24/7 marketing and lead generation tool for your local business.

1. Create a Google My Business account

First and foremost, it's important to note here that a Google business listing is a separate entity from a Google My Business account. The latter is used to gain access to and optimize the former. Which means that in order to make the optimizations laid out in this guide, you need to have a Google My Business account and then tell Google to connect it with your Google listing. To create an account, head to Google.com/business and sign in with the regular Google/Gmail account you use for your business (as opposed to your personal Gmail, if you have one).

google my business optimization sign up with google my business

2. Complete every section

The completeness of your Google listing not only helps Google to rank you higher in local search results, but it also increases the number of actions customers take when they find your listing. There's a lot of information to provide, so here are some guidelines for prioritizing.

These aspects of your listing should be completed right away:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone
  • Website
  • Hours

These sections take a bit more time and thought:

  • Category and Attributes
  • Products and services
  • From the business
  • Questions and answers (Owner-generated queries)

These sections are ongoing:

  • Posts
  • Reviews
  • Questions and answers (Consumer-generated)

google my business optimization complete all fields GMB dashboard

3. Be meticulous with contact information

Here are the steps for optimizing the contact information in your Google business listing:

  1. Make sure your business name is identical to the one you use on your store signage. In other words, exactly as it appears in the real world. Adding location name (unless it's in your brand name) or keywords is considered spam by Google and you could be penalized.
  2. Make sure that both your business name and address exactly match your other listings across the web. This means using "st" vs "street" or "co" vs "company" consistently. Google's algorithm takes these inconsistencies into account when assessing your credibility.
  3. Indicate both your regular and holiday hours. This encourages customers to visit you, and also avoids the potential of a negative review left by someone who took the trip out to your store only to find it was closed.

4. Write your "from the business" description

The first thing to note is that the brief description that appears just below your business name in your business listing is not actually in your control. This is the editorial summary that Google writes to ensure consistency across the platform.

google my business optimization local 149 editorial description

This description is not in your control.

Bummer, I know. But the good news is that Google does a pretty good job at coming up with descriptions.

google my business optimization buckalews editorial summary

The description you do have control over is the "from the business" section in your Google My Business account dashboard. This section appears lower in your profile, often under the reviews section.

google my business optimization from the business susan mathason

To optimize the "from the business" section of your Google listing:

  • Use all 750 characters, with key information in the first 250 characters.
  • Repurpose content from your "About Us" page or mission statement.
  • Use keywords your audience uses to find businesses like yours.
  • Don't repeat any information already visible in the other sections of your profile. Use this space to talk about what sets you apart from competitors and what customers like most about your business.
  • Don't include links or HTML.

5. Choose a category

Choosing a category is a must for optimizing your Google business listing. Here's why:

  • Get found in discovery searches. A whopping 84% of GMB profile views originate from discovery searches (meaning the consumer searched for a product, service, or categorical term and that business's listing appeared), versus only 16% coming from direct searches (the consumer typed in the business name or address). This is especially true for businesses whose name doesn't indicate their service (e.g., Fresh Express or Amelia's Catering).
  • Highlight category-specific features. Once you choose a category, Google makes available to you category-specific features that make your profile more attractive and effective. For example, restaurants can include a menu or reservation button; hotel listings will pull in star ratings; hair salons can confirm that they have experience with thin or curly hair. These details can help consumers choose you over competitors.

google my business optimization choose a category relocation crew

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Your category appears in the top portion of your Google business listing.

Google offers a set number of categories, so it's important to choose the correct ones. Here's how to optimize your Google business listing using categories:

  • Be specific. If you're a nail salon, choose "Nail Salon" and not just "Salon." If you're a restaurant, choose "Egyptian Restaurant," "American Restaurant," etc., rather than simply "Restaurant." A drop-down list of categories will appear once you start typing, but you can also see a full list of GMB categories here to ensure you find the most specific one for your business (there are over 3,000 categories so it's worth the look).
  • Choose secondary categories. Many businesses fall into multiple categories. Set your primary category to your chief offering (for example, "Grocery Store") and then choose additional categories that apply, such as "Grocery Delivery Service" or "Gourmet Grocery Store."
  • Don't overdo it. You want Google to connect you with consumers who need your service, so choose only categories that match your offering. For example, if you're an appliance repair business, select "Appliance Repair" only, not "Appliance Parts Supplier." Technically you do supply service parts, but this is not a standalone offering of your business. (Pro tip: Don't confuse categories with products or attributes, which are separate sections.)

google my business optimization explore categories homesmith services llc

Also, keep in mind that Google might ask you to verify your business if you edit your category list or add multiple. This is just to ensure accuracy across their platform.

6. Select applicable attributes

As we just mentioned, once you choose a category, Google will give you a list of attributes you can check off to further describe your business. Attributes are special features that potential customers seek out, like "gift shop on-site" or "free wi-fi."

google my business optimization attributes nicks pizza

Attributes are not specific to the Google My Business platform (review sites like Yelp have them, too). But Google's attributes get really granular, like "good for working on laptop" or "popular for travelers". Check out this attribute list to see what I mean.

7. Add photos

Uploading photos to your Google listing through your Google My Business account dashboard is important for three reasons:

  • Ensure quality. Anyone can add photos to your listing, which means you'll get a range of quality. By adding your own great photos, you can ensure your listing looks its best.
  • Be active. Adding photos regularly signals to Google that you are active with your listing and it is up-to-date, which positively impacts your ranking.
  • Get images in results. Google is advancing in image recognition and starting to include photos in local results.
  • Increase engagement. According to Google, customers are 42% more likely to request driving directions to a business if its listing has photos, and 35% more likely to click through to its website. Furthermore, a BrightLocal study showed that businesses with more than 100 photos get 520% more calls, 2,717% more direction requests, and 1,065% more website clicks than the average business. Whoah.

This doesn't mean you should go crazy and add a hundred images to your profile at once. Follow these tips to use photos to optimize your Google business listing:

  • Add at least one new photo every seven days.
  • For your thumbnail photo, upload your logo.
  • For your cover photo, use something that best represents your brand—but don't fuss over this because Google will display different feature photos depending on the search query.
  • For other general photos, refer to Google's photo guidelines for specifications, but be sure to include happy customers, interior and exterior views, and team photos.
  • No stock photos, and no photos with special effects or branding. Google is trying to represent your business as it appears in the real world.
  • Focus on quality images that have clear depictions (to align with image-enriched results).

google my business optimization images in results wedding dress

Google will pull specific photos from a listing and display it directly in local results if it matches the keyword searched.

  • Geo-tag your photos to further indicate to Google your prominence in your area.
  • Add videos, too!
  • Use Google's Street View app to add a 360º photo to your listing.

8. Get Google reviews

If you were to get a list of businesses in search results like the one below, which one would you be most likely to choose? The one with four attractive yellow stars or one of the two below with no reviews at all?

google my business optimization get reviews computer escape

Google knows that reviews are the #1 influence on consumer buying, so this is a key ranking factor in their algorithm. You can also see for yourself the impact of reviews on ranking. For most searches performed on Google, the first three local results that appear (in what is known as the "Local 3-Pack") are the ones with multiple reviews and solid star ratings:

google my business optimization star ratings rank in local 3 pack

In addition, Google may also display a business listing in search results if it has reviews that contain those keywords.

google my business optimization reviews bold

Google will embolden keywords in your reviews to further validate relevancy.

To optimize your Google business listing with reviews, follow these tips:

  • Start with your long-time, loyal customers to get the momentum going.
  • Make it as easy as possible for customers by creating a review shortcut link or usingWhitespark's shortcut link generator (both are free).
  • Ask! 62% of customers will write a review if asked. Do so via email, text, social media, and in-person conversations.
  • Remind customers that reviews aren't just for your benefit; they help people who have the same pain points as them to find a solution and make informed decisions.
  • Have a "Reviews" page on your website with a CTA to leave one.
  • Respond to reviews. This feedback incentivizes additional customers to leave theirs, reveals a lot about your business to prospects, and improves your local SEO.

Be careful not incentivize reviews with discounts, gifts, or cash, though—that's not allowed.

9. Post to your Google listing

Just like with social media platforms, you can post to your Google business listing about announcements, offers, events, and products. Posts are created in your Google My Business dashboard and show up on the "Updates" section toward the bottom of your listing. However, they might become more prominent based on the search query.

google my business optimization google posts embodied potential on Search

Here's how posts help you to optimize your Google business listing:

  • Posts increase the number of actions taken by consumers who find your profile.
  • Posting regularly sends positive ranking signals to Google in the same way that adding photos does.
  • Consumers have higher intent on search engines versus other posting platforms (i.e., Facebook and Instagram, where they are leisurely scrolling), so they are more likely to engage with your Google posts.
  • Consumers can follow your business listing and get notified of new posts and updates.

google my business optimization google posts on maps embodied potential

Your Google My Business posts will even appear on Maps—it's free advertising for your local business!

Here are your tips for optimizing your Google business listing with posts:

  • Post regularly. Not just to send signals to Google, but also because certain post types expire every seven days.
  • Use event and offer posts for marketing campaigns that have a timeline. You can choose a date range and the posts will stay live for the duration of that timeline.
  • Include links and CTAs in every post.
  • As of writing this post, there is currently a COVID-19 post type, which we'd encourage you to use to effectively communicate with your audience during the pandemic.

10. Ask and answer questions

Have you noticed on Amazon that in addition to the product description and customer reviews, there is a section for questions and answers? Google offers the same feature in Google business listings.

Google my business optimization q&a art science salon

Image courtesy of searchengineland.com

Answers to these questions may be the impetus for a customer deciding to choose your business. However, this section is particularly important to optimize because not only can anyone ask a question on a business's Google profile but also anyone can answer. This can lead to inaccurate information on your listing, or even worse, something like this Q&A on a pizza restaurant's listing:

google my business optimization bad q&a section

Here's how to optimize the Q&A section of your Google business listing:

  • Set up alerts so you can stay on top of questions and answers posted to your profile.

google my business optimization enable Q&A alerts

  • Seed your own Q&A section. Make a list of the most frequently asked questions your business gets. Then ask, answer, and upvote your answer on your own listing. This does not go against Google's terms and conditions. In fact, Google encourages it.
  • Keep keywords in mind. Questions and answers that contain keywords can help improve your listing's ranking for that keyword. So keep your keyword strategy in mind when seeding your Q&A section, but use them loosely and organically, and do not keyword stuff.

By monitoring and seeding your Q&A section, you can ensure accurate information, highlight your best features, and reduce common barriers to entry.

Note: Google has temporarily suppressed the Q&A section of most business listings right now in response to COVID-19, so you may not see this option for your listing for a while.

11. Add products and services

Adding products and services is especially helpful if your offerings are not made clear in your business name. Populating this section also adds content to your profile that can help it to rank for even more relevant searches.

When adding products and services, include the name, description, and price (if applicable). The full description will show up once a searcher clicks on the product. Also, Google may link to your products from your category section.

google my business optimization products homesmith services

12. Set up messaging

This feature gives searchers the option to send a text message to your phone directly from your Google business listing. With 82% of smartphone shoppers (92% for millennials) using their device for local search, this is a great opportunity for customers to get in touch with you.

To enable messaging, select the "Messaging" tab in your Google My Business dashboard, and you have the option to install this via Google Play or the Apple App Store.

google my business optimization set up messaging

Two notes on Google My Business messaging:

  • You don't need to worry about displaying your personal phone number, as you'll use a different number via Google's Allo app.
  • Be sure to set up alerts for messages in your Google My Business dashboard. Head to settings and check off "Customer messages."

google my business optimization enable messaging

13. Maintain your listing with a solid Google My Business strategy

As you can see, a Google business listing is not a one-and-done marketing task. It's a local marketing tool that requires ongoing action in order to maximize your benefits. This includes:

  • Updating information, even as minor as a change in suite number.
  • Publishing posts and uploading photos each week.
  • Keeping a steady stream of reviews coming in.
  • Monitoring and responding to reviews.
  • Staying on top of new features so you can ensure you're using your profile to its fullest potential.

Just like any Google SEO strategy, your Google My Business strategy should center around providing as much quality information about your business as possible, not just in your listing but in the sources that Google uses to populate your listing—your website, review site profiles, and even your social media accounts. We can't ever know every specific ranking factor, but we do know their ultimate goal: to connect searchers to the best business for their needs through detailed, trusted information. So focus on getting your Google listing to represent your business as accurately and thoroughly as possible, and then make sure to maintain this, and you will reap its benefits.


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