What the Google Panda Update Means to Upstate Businesses

What the Google Panda Update Means to Upstate Businesses

Google Panda Google PenguinWhile nobody in the web community looks forward to Google updating their search engine algorithms, it is certainly a necessary evil on today’s web with millions of spammy sites still finding ways to hold on to their undeserved rankings.  The latest update by Google, unofficially nicknamed “Pigeon”, sought to bring additional justice to cyberspace by updating the way local websites rank, plus returning to some of their prior core practices in site optimization.

How will this affect our Upstate businesses though?  The major changes are listed below-

A Focus on Local Searches

We’ve all known for some time now that Google is trying to localize the entire world, and the Pigeon update is making it much harder to sneak into its local rankings just off reviews and site traffic.  The new algorithm focuses more on traditional ranking models such as page authority, keyword usage, and relevant backlinks.  In layman terms, this means that it will be much harder for a poorly optimized website to rank well in local searches.

Google’s Rule of 3 & 7

Google has also announced that a large majority of their local results will be slimmed down to just three listings instead of the traditional seven.  While some businesses haven’t seen any change as of yet (restaurants, gas stations, etc.), less competitive markets are already up in arms about the new three-listing format.  If your company didn’t make the cut, don’t panic just yet, because this part of the algorithm is still a work in progress.

Less Focus on Review Sites

Additionally, Google has decided that review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List were given a little too much authority how the local searches were classified.  While they are still taken into consideration, the overall goal here was to bring them more in line with more natural indicators- like a website’s natural traffic or the time spent on-site.   We are still advising our clients to keep a close eye on their reputation across cyberspace, however, because reviews impact a lot more than just search engines.

Social Media Boosts

Another factor of the latest Google update is the impact that social media has on both local and regular search results; the web giant has clearly stressed that these accounts are crucial for natural growth.  In fact, Google + now gives do follow-links to encourage completing as many social media profiles as possible, which is a tactic that we’ve always stressed to our customers anyway.  Still, if you’ve been holding off creating business accounts on Pinterest, Foursquare or other secondary sites, now is the time to do it.

Overall Thoughts

Compared to some of the more recent Google updates in 2012 and 2013, there was very little to surprise the SEO community this time around.  The message to be learned here for Upstate businesses is that your local results are as important as ever, and this trend will only continue to grow moving into 2015 and beyond.  So if you haven’t paid enough attention to your local listings in recent years, contact us as soon as possible so we can optimize your local presence.

Turning a Facebook “Like” into a Lifetime Customer

Turning a Facebook “Like” into a Lifetime Customer

While most small-business owners know that social media can be an excellent marketing tool, very few understand what it takes to turn a simple Facebook “like” into a long term customer.  That’s because we’ve all been ledto believe that businesses have to brag about their products and services in every last breath.  That was 20th century thinking though, and nothing drives off today’s consumers on social media faster than heavy self-promotion

State Bicycle Company’s Facebook Campaign

State Bycicle Company

We can all take a cue from State Bicycle Company.  This small business was in dire need of a larger online presence and with its marketing expenditures at an all-time high, Facebook seemed like it could be the answer.  Mehdi Farsi, the State Bicycle co-founder, decided to use social media to open up new dialogues, talk about upcoming releases and create engaging contests and promotions.  Rather than focus solely on the number of “likes” his company acquired, or even how much it was selling, he aimed to use Facebook to build meaningful relationships.

Within the first year alone, the company increased its sales by $500,000 through Facebook, added ten times as many followers and reduced its marketing budget by 80 percent. Here’s how they did it-

Get to Know Your Ideal Demographic

Ideal Demographic

Even though there are over 829 million Facebook users online daily, a large portion of these consumers will have absolutely no interest in your business. That’s what State Bicycle Company realized as it sought to identify its ideal customer. The company tried everything from music giveaways to local events to measure the overall response, and the employees even studied their competitors to see what types of people were following them.   

The lesson to be learned here is that mass marketing is not always the best concept on social media sites.  Users turn to Facebook to interact and build connections with others they can relate to, and that certainly applies to your company’s brand.  The more a business knows about its ideal consumer, the stronger its marketing efforts will become.

Develop Relationships with Customers


That’s why a Facebook campaign’s goal should  never be to just boost sales. Farsi had that in mind when he started the social media marketing campaign,  and the vast majority of the company’s posts were designed to start conversations with potential customers.  For example, instead of simply posting about an upcoming trail ride, it asked Facebook fans who would be interested in attending and how the company could make the event even better.  Another clever campaign was asking users to post pictures of their ugliest bicycle, with the fan-proclaimed winner receiving a brand-new premium ride.

“Facebook has been critical,” says Farsi. “(It) has allowed State Bicycle Co. to have an open dialogue with our customers and potential customers.”

It’s also a good idea to take into account Facebook’s latest algorithm change, which ranks each user’s post based on popularity. That means for content to appear toward the top of a person’s news feed, the posting account has to have plenty of accumulated “likes” and comments over time.  Facebook then compares all of a user’s followed people/pages to see which one is the most popular at the time.  That’s how the algorithm determines the order in which posts are displayed, so each like and comment is crucial for any business to boost its ranking.

Experiencing the Domino Effect

Domino Effect

At the same time, State Bicycle Company also realized that by being social, it gained a much wider audience than they ever had before.  The average user on Facebook has 350 friends, and a single “like” can potentially give your business exposure to of all of them.  That’s why building solid relationships with customers can drive in more profit than any other marketing method on the planet.

At Upstate Synergy, we can help you design smart, consumer-focused campaigns that will keep your readers talking about your business.  By integrating Spartanburg County residents into your brand and showing that you value their input, it creates a lot more than additional sales- it creates actual relationships.  Let us show you how to get started today; the first step is filling out our contact form and meeting for a free one-on-one consultation.