What is Google Webmaster Tools aka Search Console?

Google Search Console LogoGoogle has had Webmaster Tools up and running for almost a decade. Over the course of the last 12 months, they researched who their users were, their roles, goals, etc.  They found out that it’s not just “webmasters” using Webmaster Tools, but all kinds of people, from programmers and designers, to small business owners and hobbyists. With that in mind, Google renamed Webmaster Tools to Search Console in May 2015, to make sure they included everyone that cares about search.

Search Console Q & A:

Q:  What is Search Console?

A:  Search Console helps you monitor and maintain your website’s presence in Google Search results.  You don’t have to sign-up for Search Console in order for your website to be included in search results on Google, but doing so can help you understand how Google views your website and optimize its performance.

Q:  How much does Search Console cost?

A:  It’s a free service offered by Google.

Q:  What does Search Console do for me / my website?

A:  There’s many ways Search Console can be beneficial to you, and your website including:

  1. Make sure Google can access your content
  2. Submit new content or remove content you don’t want to show
  3. Create and monitor content engagement
  4. Monitor and resolve malware or spam issues
  5. Take a look at how Google, and the rest of the world sees your website
  6. Find out what queries cause your website to display in search results
  7. Find out what websites are linking to your website
  8. Find out how your website is performing for mobile search users

Q:  Should I use Search Console?

A:  If you have a website, then Yes, you should use it.  For business owners, if you have someone else take care of this for you, it’s recommended that you are aware of Search Console, and the basics of this tool.  For those that work on websites, from developers to SEO specialists, you will find this tool very helpful at varying degrees as it applies to the work you perform.

Q:  How often should I check my Search Console?

A:  Once your website is verified in Search Console, you will receive notification that your data is available.  The Search Console system will send you an email if any unusual event happens with your website, so there’s no need for you to check it daily.  It’s recommended that you check the Search Console Dashboard monthly, which gives you a quick visual on the health of your website.

Cindy Spencer  :)

Cindy SpencerCindy Spencer, an Account Manager at NetSource Media since 2000, works with clients across the US with RVUSA.com, TrailersUSA.com and RVCanada.com. Cindy and her in-house team of designers and programmers helps dealers with responsive website design, website & email hosting, inventory management & distribution, website maintenance, SEO, and much more. Connect with Cindy on Google+.

Local Listings for your Business – What, Why & How

As a kid, I loved looking up phone numbers in the Yellow Pages for my parents.  A business had to have a listing in the local phone book back then to get found by consumers like us.

Now, I can’t remember the last time I pulled out an actual phone book to search for a local business.  Can you?

As phone books were phased out, the Yellow Pages and many more companies created online local listing websites, and mapping apps to keep up with the mobile, smart phone consumers.

So before, when I had maybe 2-3 different phone books, the information was easy enough to keep updated and consistent.  Now there’s a ton of local listing websites, and mapping apps out there with no single source for all of this data, which makes it really easy for your business information to get entered incorrectly, have multiple listings, etc.

What are local listings?
Google+ Local, Yelp, Bing Places, Yellow Pages, and Yahoo! Local are some of the local listing websites you might recognize.  Hopefully, each of the local listing websites has a “profile” in their system for your business. The information you can display in your profile varies somewhat from site to site, but typically it contains business name, address, and phone number.

43% of US business listings had an incorrect or missing address

The owner of the business, once verified, can “claim” the listing, update the information they have online for you if needed, and add details about your business that they are missing.  The verification process is different from site to site, so you’ll need to follow the instructions on each one to ensure you complete their process to claim the business listing as your own.

Why do you need local listings?
The purpose of creating local listings is to make your business visible on the internet with accurate and consistent information, and to increase your ranking in local searches.

According to Moz, the #1 negative local ranking factor is a “listing detected at false business location”.

Mismatched NAP (name, address, and phone number) is the 3rd biggest negative ranking factor.  It’s pretty clear that inaccurate local listing data will kill your local SEO, which is fairly vital to your business’ online success.

How do you setup and/or update your local listings?
It’s not easy, but I have a few options for you to consider:

  1. If you have nothing else to do for the next 3-6 months… Manually locate and update each local listing for your business.  You can start this process by just typing in your company name, city and state into a search engine.  Sift through the results that produces, go to each local listing website, and claim/verify/update your profile with them individually.
  2. If you have about 6-10 hours of uninterrupted time you can dedicate… Sign up with a reputable local listing service.  Typically, you can enter /manage your company information in their system, and they will handle updating it to the local listing websites for you.
  3. Hire someone to take care of it for you.  If a service is recommended to you from another business that is using it, search for their company name, city and state in a search engine to see how their local listings rank and look.

If going with #2 or #3, you’ll want to use a service that allows you to make the most use of your local listings, which should be much more than just name, address, and phone number… videos, photo galleries, payments accepted, hours of operation, social media links, website address, etc., AND helps you get rid of the duplicate local listings for your business.

Keep in mind, when you use a service to claim / verify / update your local listings, if you decide to cancel that service, you might need to start all over again with the local listings.

Local Listings Scan

Click HERE to run a free scan of your local listings.

Send me an email, cindy@rvusa.com, if you would like me to send you our Local Listings Plan information.

Cindy Spencer  :)

Cindy SpencerCindy Spencer, an Account Manager at NetSource Media since 2000, works with clients across the US with RVUSA.com, TrailersUSA.com and RVCanada.com. Cindy and her in-house team of designers and programmers helps dealers with responsive website design, website & email hosting, inventory management & distribution, website maintenance, SEO, and much more. Connect with Cindy on Google+.

 

 

RVUSA.com – Online for 20 Years!!

RVUSA.com has been online for 20 years, and I thought it would be fun to take a walk down memory lane from when it was first launched in 1995, to the new Responsive Mobile Website we have now.  I used the Way Back Machine to pull all our logos to share with you, starting with our first logo:

RVUSA.com Logo 1995

Back then, we had dealers from 16 different states advertising with us.

In 1997, a logo and website refresh was needed as the site continued to grow, and more dealers came on board (left).  Then another quick logo refresh in 2000 was made (right) using Flash.

RVUSA.com Logo 1997   RVUSA.com Logo 2000

As word got out that RVUSA was building websites, we had more and more demand to create websites for dealers across the US.  I came on board in March 1999 as a website designer.  With no designated customer service person in place, I pretty quickly became website designer / account manager.  By early 2000, we had dealers from 39 different states advertising with us, and the RVUSA website was growing at a steady pace.

On September 1, 2000, NetSource Technologies, an established website development company, acquired RVUSA.  Our team doubled in size overnight, and a brand new RVUSA logo, and website design was introduced.

RVUSA.com Logo 2000

As more and more RV Classified websites came online, our dealers asked for a solution that gave them the ability to enter/manage their inventory in once place, and then have it sent automatically to the other RV Classified websites they were advertising with.  My team got to work.  In September 2001, we sent our first successful file of inventory for 11 dealers to RVTrader.com.  We were the first company to set up an inventory export with RVTrader.com, and have since setup imports and exports for other classified websites, dealer management systems, etc.

MSNBC posted an article in November 2003 about “The RV Life“, and RVUSA.com was included.  Here’s what they said:

RV USA (http://www.rvusa.com) is among the best organized and most useful RV sites available. The site includes interesting features such as cookbook links (like “The Four Ingredient Cookbook”) especially selected for the small RV kitchens. The site also features forums for RV-ers to ask questions, and exchange tips and information, and allows members to post classified ads selling RV’s for free. A host of travel information, including campgrounds, places to eat, sights to see, grocery stores, and events around the country, can also be found on the site.

I remember feeling so proud of myself, and my team.  All the hard work we had put into RVUSA.com was recognized at a National level, and it was pretty exciting.

The next overhaul of the RVUSA.com website happened in 2004.  We changed up the logo  a little, and added the tag line “The Original Online RV Guide“:

RVUSA.com Logo 2004

The design was kept the same for 5 years, mainly because it worked so well, but in 2009 it was time for a fresh new look for the website and logo.  We also changed the tag line to “Your Guide to Everything RV“:

RVUSA.com Logo 2009

This is my personal favorite logo and design… I love the American flag, stars and stripes feel, etc.  We’ve used this logo on our lanyard at the RVIA show for at least 5 years, and we always get a fantastic response.

In 2015, you just can’t have a website that is not mobile friendly, and Google is doing all they can to deter you from having one.  In April, they released their new “mobile-friendly” algorithm, started displaying “mobile-friendly” on each listing in their search results, and just yesterday I saw a blog post that they are trying out a new “Slow to Load” alert.

So here we are to our NEW Responsive Mobile Website Design, and Logo for 2015:

Responsive Website Design for RVUSA

The coolest feature we added was MyRVUSA.  This free tool gives you the ability to save units, searches you perform, etc., and have access to them very quickly.  If you haven’t checked it out, I’d highly recommend it.

Thank you for taking this walk through RVUSA.com history with me.  If you have any questions, please let me know.

Cindy Spencer  :)

Cindy SpencerCindy Spencer, an Account Manager at NetSource Media since 2000, works with clients across the US with RVUSA.com, TrailersUSA.com and RVCanada.com. Cindy and her in-house team of designers and programmers helps dealers with responsive website design, website & email hosting, inventory management & distribution, website maintenance, SEO, and much more. Connect with Cindy on Google+.

Responsive Mobile Website Design

May 26, 2011 is the first time I wrote a blog article to let you know that you need to have a “mobile enabled” website design.  A good number of our customers opted to get ahead of the curve, and had my website design team setup a mobile friendly website for their dealerships. Those folks are now in good shape for the looming April 21, 2015 deadline Google has set as the day they are going to use “mobile-friendliness” as a ranking signal in their ever changing algorithm.  Per Google, “This change will have a significant impact in our search results.”  If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, this is bad news for you.

-> 1 in 5 people in the world own a smart phone.
-> 74% of smart phone users use their phone to help with shopping.

When we first started setting up mobile friendly websites, we created what we called a “Basic Mobile Site”, which was a trimmed down version of a dealers website that only had the most important information visitors wanted to see.  As technology has evolved, so has my design team, and the way we setup websites for mobile viewing.  I believe we are the only website design team creating Responsive Mobile Website Designs for dealers in the RV & Trailer Industries.

Many people are confused by the differences between a Basic Mobile Site and a Responsive Mobile Design, so I’d like to help clear that up for you.  First a visual:

Basic Mobile & Responsive Mobile Examples

Some tell-tale signs to help you spot the difference when viewed on your smart phone:

  • If there is a link for “View Full Site”, “View Normal Website”, “Non-Mobile Version”, etc., you’re looking at a Basic Mobile Site.
  • If the design is very basic, and looks like all the other dealer mobile sites your website provider built, you’re looking at a Basic Mobile Site.
  • If you open the website on your desktop computer, shrink the screen down to the width of your smart phone, and you have to scroll left to right to see all of the page content, you’re looking at a Basic Mobile Site.

If you have a Basic Mobile Site, you’re probably ok for now… Google will most likely determine that to be a “mobile-friendly” website.  You can use Google’s Testing tool to find out if your website is mobile friendly or not.  But if you want to stay ahead of the curve, you’ll need a Responsive Mobile Website Design.

As I’ve been going through dealer website stats, I’ve found that on average 35%-50% of their visitors use a mobile device to access it.  That’s up about 10%-15% from last year.  You want to give mobile visitors the best experience possible, allow them to access all of the content on your website, and keep the “look” fairly consistent regardless of what device they are using to view it (desktop, tablet or smart phone).  In my opinion, a responsive mobile website design is the way to go.

If you need help setting up a responsive mobile website or have questions, you can either post them here or email me directly – cindy@netsourcemedia.com.

Cindy Spencer  :)

Cindy SpencerCindy Spencer, an Account Manager at NetSource Media since 2000, works with clients across the US with RVUSA.com, TrailersUSA.com and RVCanada.com. Cindy and her in-house team of designers and programmers helps dealers with responsive website design, website & email hosting, inventory management & distribution, website maintenance, SEO, and much more. Connect with Cindy on Google+.

eBay Classifieds – Helping You Sell Locally

What is eBay Classifieds?

eBay Classifieds

eBay Classifieds by it’s own definition is a free, local classifieds website that provides a clean and easy-to-use marketplace for you to post free ads.  You can post pets, motors, houses, jobs, automobiles, RVs, services, etc.

eBayClassifieds.com started life as Kijiji, but was rebranded in 2009 to take advantage of the “eBay” brand and familiarity. Today they are pushing local buying and local selling, with a pretty nice looking website design and features:

  • All Local – when shopping, you’ll see ads from people in your area
  • Easy Shopping – it’s easy to shop using their list or gallery views and you can sort by most recent, lowest price or highest price
  • More Security – they have ad content filters in place to help keep out scammers, spam and inappropriate content
  • Available Mobile – their website is responsive mobile and they have an APP you can download for quick access to it
  • Alerts – you can get an email or text message when an item you are looking for is added to their website

How do I post an ad?

There’s 4 simple steps you’ll need to follow in order to create an ad on eBayClassifieds.com:

  1. Select a Category -> there’s 112 different categories for you to select from and they are sectioned out by: For Sale, Pets, Housing, Home & Garden, Cars & Vehicles, Electronics, Wanted, Community, Services and Jobs.
  2. Create Your Ad -> enter in the information for your ad, keep in mind the fields will change depending on the category you’ve selected.  The required fields are marked with an asterisk (*).  You can upload up to 8 photos with your ad that are a maximum of 4 MB each. If the item you are posting is something you are either giving away free or don’t want to post the price, make sure to mark it accordingly next to the price field. When you enter your zip, you may get a drop-down to the right that allows you to select the city, state to post your ad in.
  3. Preview & Submit -> you can review your ad on this page and if changes are needed, there is an “Edit” link to the right of the orange Post Your Ad button. If the ad looks good and the information is accurate, click the Post Your Ad button. Keep in mind, once your ad has been submitted, it may take a while for it to appear on the site. This delay gives them the time they need to put it through their content filters.

Additional Features to Check Out

I found a couple of additional features that I think are fairly cool for you to take a look at and they are in the “My Profile” section of your eBayClassifieds.com account:

  • Link your social network pages to your eBayClasssifieds.com account. This includes Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This allows you to easily auto-share ads as you post them to eBayClassifieds.com on your social network sites.
  • Claim your eBayClassifieds.com personal area / URL by choosing your “nickname”. For a business, make sure you use your business name.  For example, if my company name is ABC RV, I would add ABCRV as my nickname and then I can direct people to my ads or setup a link to all of my listings on that marketplace by giving them this URL:  ebayclassifieds.com/user/ABCRV.

Tip:  When posting ads to any website, you’ll want to review the Terms of Use.

Are you a dealer that would like an easy way to post ads to eBayClassifieds.com? Fill out this form and I’ll send you the information about our Posting Tool:

Cindy Spencer  :)

Cindy SpencerCindy Spencer, an Account Manager at NetSource Media since 2000, works with clients across the US with RVUSA.com, TrailersUSA.com and RVCanada.com. Cindy and her in-house team of designers and programmers helps dealers with website design & hosting, inventory management & distribution, website maintenance & SEO and much more. Connect with Cindy on Google+.

List Your RV Storage Facility with RVUSA.com

RVUSA.com Logo     RVStorageSites Logo

As the camping season comes to an end for the year, RVers are starting their search for a facility to store their RV. RVUSA.com has been online since 1995, providing RVers and Campers alike with a valuable resource guide for everything RV, including storage facility locations.

When you list your RV Storage facility with us, we’ll add you to our network of RV related websites, including www.RVUSA.com and www.RVStorageSites.com.  You can take advantage of our online RV Community to get your Storage Facility in front of the RVers on our network of websites with a PARTNER Listing.

Included with a Partner Listing:
  • Logo
  • Company Name
  • Address
  • Local Number
  • Toll-Free Number
  • Fax Number
  • Description
  • Up to 3 Pictures
  • More Details:  website link, email link, email a friend link, print page, unit price list, amenities / services offered list and Map link.

Here’s an example of an actual Partner Listing with us:
http://www.rvstoragesites.com/search_detail.asp?id=75

Fast & Easy Online Sign-Up here:
http://www.rvstoragesites.com/partner.asp

 

Cindy Spencer  :)

Cindy SpencerCindy Spencer, an Account Manager at NetSource Media since 2000, works with clients across the US with RVUSA.com, TrailersUSA.com and RVCanada.com. Cindy and her in-house team of designers and programmers helps dealers with website design & hosting, inventory management & distribution, website maintenance & SEO and much more. Connect with Cindy on Google+.

SpecBase 2 – Our NEW RV Showroom Solution

The History of SpecBase

Before SpecBase, the only feasible solution RV Dealers had that allows your SpecBase RV Showroom by RVUSAwebsite visitors to check out new model floor plans you were licensed to sell was to link to the manufacturer’s websites.  This of course takes visitors off of your website to a place where they can use the “Dealer Locator” that all manufacturers have on their websites.  Now we could make those links open in a new window, but there was still that chance you took when your visitors would locate and possibly buy an RV from another dealer.  The same is true today as it was back then, you work very hard to get visitors to your website and you want to keep them there as long as possible.  To that end, my team came up with a solution in 2006 – SpecBase – a huge database that we maintain that has all of the new model information, specifications, descriptions, floor plans, décor options, etc., for our dealer customers to easily display on their websites.

As you can imagine, this data entry project is a whole lot to monitor and maintain.  Over the years, this database grew to over 290,000 specifications and 20,000 floor plans.

We decided that to better serve our dealer customers, we needed to integrate your RV Showroom page with your actual in-stock inventory.  So we completely recreated SpecBase for you.

SpecBase 2 – Our NEW RV Showroom Solution

The RV Showroom page will have your models separated by brand and then by type.  Visitors can use the “Jump To” drop-down menu to get right to the brand they are looking for and/or use the “Group By” drop-down menu to display them by type and then brand.  From here, visitors can click on the model image or the title to go directly to the model detail page.

RV Showroom Page - SpecBase

The Model detail page shows an exterior image, # of matching units you have in stock (links to inventory page) and the floor plans available (length, # of slides, MSRP, # it sleeps).  Visitors can click on the floor plan image and/or the View Specs & Features link to go directly to the floor plan details page.

RV Model Page - SpecBase

The Floor Plan detail page shows an exterior image, the floor plan image, # of matching units you have in stock (links to inventory page) and the Specs & Features information at the bottom.  The Specifications tab is selected by default, and your visitors can click through the tabs for Interior, Exterior, Electrical, Options, Brochures and Photo Gallery.  Just above the Specs & Features section, on the left and right, you’ll see a link to view the Previous Floorplan and Next Floorplan or there is a drop-down menu to change the floor plan.

Floor Plan Page - SpecBase

The nice thing about SpecBase is that you are in control of what manufacturers and models display on your website.  SpecBase 2 is updated twice a month with new models, which I then email the list to dealer customers using this tool on their website.  This gives them the opportunity, and serves as a reminder, to make any necessary adjustments to their RV Showroom page.

SpecBase 2 Plan Pricing:
-> Unlimited Mfg’s and Models <-
$495 setup fee (one-time cost)
$79.95 per month

Would you like to add SpecBase 2 to your website?  Send me an email: cindy@rvusa.com.

Cindy Spencer :)

Cindy SpencerCindy Spencer, an Account Manager at NetSource Media since 2000, works with clients across the US with RVUSA.com, TrailersUSA.com and RVCanada.com. Cindy and her in-house team of designers and programmers helps dealers with website design & hosting, inventory management & distribution, website maintenance & SEO and much more. Connect with Cindy on Google+.