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+.

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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+.

Google Places is Now Google+ Local

Google+ LocalAlmost a month ago, Google converted 80 million Google Place pages over to Google+ Local pages.  It’s a lot different than what you are used to if you’ve been keeping up with the information on your Google Places page.  The first couple of times I came across these new pages, I thought I accidentally hit the wrong link and somehow ended up at my Google+ profile page.  I did notice in searching for several of my dealer customers that not everyone has the new Google+ Local pages yet.

Here’s a quick run down of the new features and changes they’ve made:

  • In your Google+ profile page, there is a new “Local” tab.  This tab will have recommendations of places for you to visit, restaurants, stores, etc., based on your circles, your past reviews and your location.
  • They’ve integrated Zagat reviews.  Visitors on your Google+ Local page can click the “Write a Review” button and add pictures of places.  This allows them to easily post a review of your dealership, which displays on your Google+ Local page, their Google+ profile page, anyone who searches for places in their circle can see it and anyone who views places they’ve reviewed.  When they write their review, they can give scores for your dealership based on quality, appeal and service by default, however, there is a link located at the top right for “Wrong labels?” that they can click on to change them to another type of business.  Right now they have:  Attraction, Golf Course, Lodging, Nightlife and Restaurant/Cafe.  I checked each of those types and the Attraction one seems to be the best fit and hopefully they will add more types soon.  The individual user scores are based on a 0 to 3 point scale:  3 = excellent, 2 = very good, 1 = good and 0 = poor to fair.   Zagat Score Example 2Google then takes those ratings, averages them and multiplies that number by ten to get an average score.  Here’s the point scale for this number:  26-30 = extraordinary to perfection, 21-25 = very good to excellent, 16-20 = good to very good, 10-15 = fair to good and 0-9 = poor to fair.  You’ll see this score in one of two ways, scores with multiple aspecs and overall scores.
  • If you had reviews or uploaded pictures in Google Places, all of them will display as public and “A Google User”.
  • Visitors with a Google+ account will be able to “check-in” to your dealership.

How to tell what type of page you have on Google:

  • If on your business page on Google you see scores and reviews with tabs for About and Photos and a Manage this page button when you scroll down, it’s a local listing that was upgraded from the old Places page.  When your listing appears either on Google Maps or Search results, clicking the “more info” or the “Google reviews” links will take you to this type of page.
  • If you’ve created a Google+ page for your dealership, you’ll see tabs for Posts, About, Photos and Videos, but there is no option to leave a review.

When these two pages are combined, they will have a “verified” checkmark and have features of both pages including scores, reviews, posts from the business owner, etc.

To get more information on how to setup your Google+ Local page, Google Postcardthey have step-by-step instructions for you here:  http://support.google.com/plus/bin/answer.py?hl=en&topic=1710599&ctx=topic&answer=1713911

To get more information about how to verify your local Google+ page, go to:  http://support.google.com/plus/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2623608 – there are links on the left side of the page, start with Request a PIN.

I’ve had a few conversations with dealers that went to their Google Places page and found bad review(s) that they wanted to get removed.  In all my research, I’ve found the only thing you can do is “Flag as Inappropriate”, which will nudge Google to check the review to see if it violates their guidelines.

Google’s Policy Criteria for Removing Reviews:

  • Does it have inappropriate content… including unlawful, plagiarism, malicious products (viruses), hate speech, personal / confidential info, child safety, account hijacking, spam, ranking manipulation, sexually explicit, violent / bullying, impersonation / deception, regulated goods / services, etc.
  • Does it have advertising and spam… fake reviews, same or similar reviews on multiple places, links to other websites, etc.
  • Does it have off-topic reviews… reviews added based on someone else’s experience, or that are not about the specific place the review is posted on.
  • Is there a conflict of interest… reviews added by people that were offered money or products to write them, misrepresented identity, affiliation with the place you are reviewing, etc.

If the review does not violate their guidelines, I’d suggest encouraging your customers to post their review of your dealership on your Google+ Local page.  The more positive reviews you have the better as Google+ Local pages become more integrated.  Here’s my thinking… if you have 10 positive reviews and 2 negative reviews, I’m more likely to think those two people, depending on the content of their reviews, were those types of customers that you just can’t please, no matter what you do.  Anyone who has ever had a job knows and understands that this happens.

In addition, you can respond to reviews publicly from your Google+ Local page.  All you have to do is login to your Google Places for Business Account, click the “See your listing on Google Maps” and click “Respond” next to the review.

Your turn… I know with all the social media websites out there, some of the dealers I’ve talked to are finding it difficult to keep up with all of them.  Are you having the same issue?  Share your experiences, ideas, thoughts, etc.  Did you setup your Google+ page yet?  How did that go for you?

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+.

Facebook’s New Cover Photo Rules

 

Out with the OLD…         in with the NEW!!

I happen to love the new changes Facebook has made to their Fan pages.  This includes giving you the ability to add a “cover” photo to the top of your Fan page.  Since it’s the first thing visitors see when they visit your Fan page, it’s a great area to WOW them with a unique high quality, eye-catching image that really represents your page and what you can offer them.  This image might be of your location, your team, a specific product you carry that’s popular right now, happy customers using your product(s), etc.

This is new to everyone with a Facebook page, so try out various cover photos on your page, maybe on a bi-weekly or monthly time frame, and see which image or types of images get the most response from your Fan page visitors.  There’s no right or wrong here.

There are a few rules that Facebook has outlined in their Help Center for your cover photo, including:

  • Must be at least 399 pixels wide
  • Can’t contain price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “download it at our website”
  • Can’t contain contact information, such as website address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page’s About section
  • Can’t contain references to user interface elements, such as LIKE or SHARE, or any other Facebook site features
  • Calls to action, such as “get it now” or “tell your friends” are not allowed

Keep in mind that all cover images are public, so anyone visiting your Facebook page will be able to see them.

My team updated our Facebook Fan Pages with cover photos and I wanted to share them with you:

RVUSA.com:  http://www.facebook.com/RVUSA
RVCanada.com:  http://www.facebook.com/RVCanada
TrailersUSA.com:  http://www.facebook.com/TrailersUSA
HorseTrailersUSA.com:  http://www.facebook.com/Horse-Trailers-USA#!/pages/Horse-Trailers-USA/207051192646028

If you would like help creating and adding your cover photo to your Fan page on Facebook, let me know.  Any questions, post them here in the comments section and I’ll get right back to you.

Cindy Spencer  🙂

PS – If your Fan page has more than 25 “likes”, you can create a unique username, which shortens the URL to access it.  Note the difference between the HorseTrailersUSA URL and the TrailersUSA URL above.

Make Your RV Shows A Success

January through March is a busy time for dealers who participate in RV Shows.  A lot of preparation and work goes into getting ready for these events.  Here are a few of the online tools you can use to make sure your RV shows are a success – available only through RVUSA.com.

Print Window Stickers with QR Codes – Engage Show Attendees on Mobile Devices

Print customized window stickers for every unit featuring your logo, contact information and detailed information about that unit.  Each window sticker includes a QR code, which allows any smart device to link directly to that unit online for more information.

 Bulk Price Updater – Update Your Online Pricing for the Show – FAST!

Are you looking for a quick way to update the pricing on your units for your RV Show?  One of our newest tools is the Bulk Price Updater.  This gives you the ability to update pricing (MSRP, MAP, Price and Sale Price) for every unit you have online, all on one single page.  Once the show is over, it’s just as easy to change the prices back.

Sales Flyers with QR Codes, Quick and Easy – Create Customized Show Specials Flyers

You may not be able to take all the units you want to feature to the show.  No problem.  Use the Sales Flyer tool to quickly & easily generate handouts of your show specials and give them to attendees.  You can display up to 10 units per page.  Customize the flyer by selecting the fields you want to display and we’ll add in a QR code.  One of our dealers prints all of his inventory this way and takes a 3-ring binder to the event.  This way he can display everything their dealership has available!

Custom Payment Calculator – Help RV Shoppers Find Affordable Payments

Every RV listed on RVUSA.com and on dealer inventory pages displays a payment calculator.  Customize the payment calculator to the Term, Interest Rate and Percent Down that best fits your dealership.  Help RV shoppers feel at ease by showing them affordable payments for the units they’re interested in.

My team is dedicated to building tools that will help dealers, like you, succeed online.  We have a big list of improvements for 2012, both that have come from our team members and our customers.  We’ve talked to a lot of dealers over the years that are with other providers for website hosting / inventory management, who are continually told NO when they ask for online tools like these.  My team welcomes your ideas, suggestions, comments, etc.  Keep them coming and we will continue to move the ball forward with you.

Please post your ideas here or email them to me, cindy@netsourcemedia.com.

Cindy Spencer  🙂

Managing Your Inventory: It’s easy with our Inventory Distribution Service

I know the most time-consuming part of your day, as the Internet Manager, is posting your inventory on the internet. Most RV Dealers I talk to have their inventory on multiple websites, which is really the best possible scenario, as long as you’re on the major RV classified websites and then also listing your inventory on your website of course.

When I say “major RV classified websites” I mean the three largest in traffic and units:

  • RVTraderOnline.com (Compete Rank: 5,672)
  • RVUSA.com (Compete Rank: 9,006)
  • RVT.com (Compete Rank: 11,602)

Keep in mind, with Compete.com the closer you get to 1 the better, and Google.com holds that position.

The task of listing your inventory on several different websites and then managing all of them from day-to-day could be a full-time job, depending on the size of your dealership. That’s why several years ago we were the first company to send a successful inventory feed to RVTraderOnline.com and have since then added feeds to RVT.com, RVSearch.com, Jayco.com, RV4Sale.com, Oodle.com, Vast.com, Google Base, CarSoup.com, RV2Buy.com, RVRegistry.com, MyRVLink.com, SellingMyRV.com, RVListingsOnline.com, BuyandSellRV.com and most recently Twitter.com.

You must have an active account with the websites you want us to send your inventory to in order to utilize that feed to them.

I know it’s not feasible for you to advertise on all of them and some of you will like one website better than the other, but I just wanted to let you know those feeds are setup and running if/when you need them.

Here’s how you would manage your inventory and an example of how the inventory distribution service works:

This whole process starts with you. You can enter your inventory manually on RVUSA.com or have your inventory automatically sent to us. We accept inventory feeds from RVT.com, RVSearch.com, Channel Blade, MyRVAdvantage, Ultimate Video Showcase, Dealer Peak, PSN, RV Logic, Dealer Specialties, eBiz Auto, Interact RV, MyRVLink, RVData, IDS, Galaxy and direct from dealers. Keep in mind that most, if not all of those providers, do not allow unit videos – and we do. If you want to upload videos, which I would highly recommend, you can do so through our Dealer Management Console.

If you have 10 minutes to talk to me, I would like to help you streamline your inventory entry and distribution processes. Give me a call (866-643-4625 x 120) or send me an email (cindy@rvusa.com).

Cindy Spencer 🙂