Helpful Advice On Managing Your Reputation

Develop a professional appearance to help your business. Your reputation can either make you or break you. Find out how to gain a great reputation and prevent errors.

Following up with your clients is vital for success. This is even more important if your business is large. They want to know they matter. Try using a system that’s automated and can work with a customer. Also, get their feedback on purchases.

Optimize web pages with essential key phrases to help your online reputation. This will generally be your company name. Search engines like businesses that seem to be an authority. If you are viewed as an authority on a subject or niche, you will rise to the top of results page.

TIP! When you’re dealing with content that’s negative online about the brand you represent, you should work on having a good offense. Be sure you’re getting lots of feedback and reactions that are positive, and the negative feedback will fall back.

Make sure you know what is going on in the world as it pertains to your area of business. This way, you will always be able to give customers useful information. Take a few minutes each day to run an online search to get the newest facts about the industry you’re in.

Keep an eye on your online business reputation. Google may present people with very negative information about your business whenever a search is conducted, as a result of a dissatisfied customer. If you keep an eye on search results, you can ensure that negative feedback won’t be high up in the results. Try to do this a couple of times per month.

If you own your own business, be sure your employees are treated with respect. Many people falter with this, and it can cause serious consequences. If others know that you don’t treat employees well, they may not want to do business with you.

TIP! Be nice when interacting online. Simply posting updates won’t do a lot; you have to show active communication with your customers.

If you offer some type of promotion or special deal, make sure to be private about that. This rings particularly true when you are discounting to satisfy a complaint. You don’t need to post what’s going on with a complaint and then receive tons of them demanding free stuff from you.

Social Media

Actively search through all social media comments. Folks tend to discuss consumer experiences there. When you spend some time monitoring social media, you can quickly catch any negative remarks about your company and implement effective damage control quickly. Then you’ll keep the damage to your business reputation to a minimum.

TIP! Try to make dissatisfied customers as happy as possible. Turning negative experiences into good ones can show customers that you do care.

There are companies that specifically offer reputation management. You will surely need to stay hands-on with this, but it does not hurt to have some extra help. This will be a great option to consider if you have a lot of priorities.

When you see something negative in print about your company, it’s natural to get angry at the person who wrote the comment, especially if what they commented on wasn’t completely truthful. The best method, though, is to provide facts to counteract the errors of the writer. When people read what both of you have said, they can come to their own conclusions.

You need to work on making expectations according to your business. Be honest with customers and provide compensation. Being open and honest in business can take you a long way towards success.

TIP! Keep an eye on social media pages. As stated by Arnold Worldwide, over half of the consumers out there expect the brands they buy to pay attention to and address comments posted to them via social media.

Do not attempt to hide the mistakes you have made. The customers have much more intelligence than that. You should actually recognize the mistake and make a sincere apology. Usually, a customers can forgive you. You can increase the chances by offering something more for the error.

Once customers make a purchase, follow up with them. Usually, issues aren’t known right away or they will wait before they use something new. If you check in with customers, you will have an opportunity to respond to any concerns they may have.

If your company makes any misstep, the backlash has the potential to cause substantial damage to your company’s image and profits. It is important to stay on top of such things and to know what you should do if something bad happens. Take what you’ve learned here and make it happen.

TIP! Make it a point to know what is going on in your business niche. Doing so enables you to offer cutting edge and useful information to your clients.

Is Public Speaking A Problem For You? Read This

At some point or another, you will have to make a speech. One cannot get through their education without giving a speech at some point. Most lines of work also require public speaking. Putting the following tips to use can make anyone become a public speaking pro.

Memorize your speech before you do anything. This will help you with the overall delivery. Memorize it and you will feel more comfortable with it.

Being prepared is key to making good public speaking impressions. What do you plan to say? You should do some research so you can do a better job supporting your statements. Have an outline of your speech on paper so you can refer to it while giving your speech. Go over them each day until you can confidently speak it from memory. Being well prepared allows you to feel confident when the time comes for you to make your actual speech.

TIP! Time yourself to find out how long your speech is. This ensures your speech fills the time you have.

It’s vital to know about everything that you will be talking about during a speech. Don’t just memorize words, understand facts and even have a relevant story or joke on hand. Use them judiciously when you feel your audience is receptive. They can also be used to make the speech stronger or to answer audience questions.

Once you memorize your speech, then practice it over and over. Work on issues where you lose your flow. Also refine your pace. Ensure your speech time can include time for interruptions, which will be applause, with any luck. Practice the speech with any equipment you plan to use.

Know the room before you speak in public. See if you can tell how sound travels without a microphone. Get a good feel for any equipment you may need to use. Utilize visual presentations to help your content reach the audience. Practice making eye contact as well.

TIP! Learn as much as you can about the subject you are presenting. Even when you memorize your speech, it is good to know facts, figures and even jokes and stories related to your topic.

If you accidentally forget to touch on a point during your speech that isn’t mandatory, don’t stop. By stopping in the middle of your speech to go back to the missed sentence, you may blow the whole thing. In general, the audience is not going to know that you missed a small portion of your prepared speech.

Practice really does make perfect. Try giving your speech while looking in a mirror, or record it and play it back to find out how to make it better. However, it is always best to prepare your speech in front of family and friends, since instant feedback is the best.

Do not touch alcohol before your speech. Though it may work to loosen you up, that might just be a bad idea. It would be pretty awful to be all set to make your speech and then realize you forgot everything you were going to talk about because the alcohol has clouded your thinking.

TIP! After committing your speech to memory, practice it over and over. Practice often to tweak your speech as needed.

Stay as confident as possible when in front of a crowd. Choose a subject that is close to your heart. If your tone is conversational, that will give you an upper hand. Nobody wants to be confused by complicated jargon that is difficult to understand.

Get the audience in your corner prior to giving your speech. Smile cordially at them when they are seating themselves, and shake hands with them if possible. This will make the audience members more receptive to your speech.

Practice your speech until you have the most important details memorized. Try practicing in the mirror and use different facial expressions and hand motions. This is the best way for you to feel comfortable. They can assist you in figuring out parts of the speech that you may need to alter.

TIP! Telling the audience a true story is a great way to become good at public speaking. Before you give a speech, make an outline.

Note Cards

Note cards can be useful. Though you should know your content well, having notes can be beneficial if you lose track of where you are. It is not necessary to write down the whole speech, but having important points jotted down on note cards makes it less likely that you will omit important facts that you wish to convey.

Public speaking is a critical skill to learn. It is a class requirement and occasionally a job requirement too. Some social events may require you speaking in public. After reading the above article, you now have a good handle on what it takes to become a great public speaker.

TIP! Practice some deep breathing to help you through your speech. Doing some deep breathing and full exhalation prior to speaking helps calm you down.

Managing Your Reputation: What You Should Know

Do you ever sit and wonder about the big corporations? How do they manage their reputations so effectively? Do you need to know how they do it? Things move quickly, and it pays to learn about the new arena of reputation management.

Focus on your offensive strategy as it pertains to handling negative Internet content. With a lot of positive feedback, it can help to drown out a negative or two. Also, make sure that your positive content is fresh.

Have a good online personality. Status updates and tweets are worthless if you fail to communicate with those who follow you. Answer questions as soon as you possibly can. If someone poses a question to which you do not know the response, advise the follower that you are attempting to find an answer.

TIP! Always protect and improve your business reputation by following up with all your customers. This is particularly true if your business is larger.

Search Engines

Be sure that your website contains positive search terms. This is the name your company is known by. Search engines such as Google really like authoritativeness. When your business is seen as an authority, then search engines like Google will bump you to a higher standing in the results.

Be sure to monitor social networks frequently. According to Arnold Worldwide, over half the customers expect answers to their comments and questions on social networks. Try to do so quickly. You will stand above those businesses that do not handle the situations in a timely fashion.

TIP! The best defense for negative content with regard to your brand on the Internet is to have a good offense. The more positive chatter there is, the less noticeable the negative will be.

Know where you customers are likely to be. If a particular restaurant is popular among your customers, go there often. You can really get to know potential customers if you go to places they go. People tend to express themselves more freely in a social environment, and that is where you can get to them know them on a personal level.

Always be attentive to social media. Folks tend to discuss consumer experiences there. By keeping up with these networks, you can do your best to catch negative words and start on damage control quickly. That can help protect your company from bad press.

There are companies that specifically offer reputation management. They can manage your online reputation while you take care of the face-to-face interactions with customers. This can be very beneficial to your business.

TIP! Stay polite and courteous. Constantly tweeting or posting updates will do little good if you don’t communicate in other ways with followers.

When you have a growing business, it is inevitable that you come into contact with many more consumers. There will be times when you encounter complaints, and you have to know how you can address them. The way you handle things will directly affect how people perceive you.

Even when a customer has purchased something from your business, follow up with them. Many times issues are not detected right away or the customer waits a while before using a new product. Checking in can provide you with the chance of addressing any issues the customer may have.

To better manage your online reputation, you need to know where your company is being discussed online, and you need to monitor their comments. Being familiar with the websites people go to to post comments and reviews can help you with your industry in the long run. Respond to criticism quickly and link to the more positive comments.

TIP! Constantly monitor the social media networks. Many consumers expect their questions to be answered on social media websites.

Think carefully before sharing any information over the Internet. You can’t be sure how it’s used later, so be careful. Even if you only have a small number of people visiting your social media sites, you still should be careful.

Bad Reputation

Always make your promises come true. Trust will be lost when you constantly change terms. Your business will get a bad reputation of dishonesty. A bad reputation in business is something that a business might never recover from.

TIP! Make sure that you stay current on news that relates to your industry. This will allow you to be sure that you’re giving your customers cutting edge information.

Don’t let your emotions get out of control. Work on your stress management abilities. Get involved with sports to reduce the tension that you feel. Don’t get drawn into arguments. It can really harm your reputation.

Reputation management also involves dealing with negative content in a professional manner. Don’t remove the negative feedback, address it honestly and explain that the situation has been rectified. Customers like honesty, so don’t fear mistakes and keep them informed on how you’re solving the issue.

Do you feel better equipped to manage the reputation of your company now? Are you ready to best the competition? Treat customers respectfully, and consider your future business.

TIP! If you are holding a private promotion or sale, don’t make it public. This is important when you offer a substantial discount to compensate for a complaint.

Tips To Help You Speak In Public

Do you want to become a good public speaker? This can be hard for so many of us. Still, addressing and conquering the fear is a part of life. You do not have to live with the fear of public speaking. The following advice will be of assistance.

Don’t assume that people will automatically know what you mean. You need to work hard to attract their attention and harder to maintain it. Public speaking is a performance, and it takes work to get real results.

Practice your speech and time how long it takes. This way, you can remain within the time you are allotted. If you find your presentation is short, get some more material by doing more research. Also remember, you never want to rush through your speech; remember to pace yourself.

TIP! Regardless of how much experience you have, it is never easy to get an audience involved with what you’re saying. You have to put in an effort to keep the audience interested in what you’re saying.

When practicing to give a public speech, it is a great idea to commit it to memory. When you can recite it easily, you can work more on how you will deliver it. Memorizing the speech itself also frees you up for improvisation later on.

When you speak in public, it is important to be prepared in order to make a great impression. Know what you’re going to say. Research your topic fully. Have some notes to refer to. Practice your speech a number of times until you have it memorized. Being well prepared allows you to feel confident when the time comes for you to make your actual speech.

You should know the speech you are giving. It is useful to know all the facts, figures and a few jokes or stories relating to your topic, whether your speech is memorized or not. Work them in when you can to see how your audience reacts. You can use them to answer questions too.

TIP! Memorize your speech beforehand to reduce your anxiety. This will help you with the overall delivery.

When delivering a speech, always face your audience. Don’t let yourself become distracted. You want to make your audience see your point, which means they need your complete attention.

Know the crowd makeup before you give the speech. If there is a way, find things out about some individuals in the audience. If possible, greet a couple of them and find out what their names are. You will feel more comfortable, and so will your audience if you are engaging them on a personal level.

You may want to consider using a story to engage your audience. Make yourself a solid outline of the facts to base your speech on. Make sure the story is complete from beginning to end. Your story should be based upon a real event, as this will help ensure that your words are natural and authentic.

TIP! Know as much as you can about your material. Even when memorizing a speech, you should know the figures, facts, stories, and jokes that relate to your topic.

5 Seconds

Learning how to breathe properly can help to relieve your stress about speaking. Prior to getting up on stage, engage in some deep breathing. First, inhale and hold it for 5 seconds. Then slowly exhale for about 5 seconds. Repeat this until you feel your breathing and heart rate calm down.

Try dressing nice, even if it is a casual event. Your appearance contributes greatly to your confidence level. Wear a tie if you are a man to get the attention of the audience focused on your face.

TIP! Do your homework on the topic you are presenting on. Research it from various angles so you have a good understanding of the topic.

Make people remember the speech by having a memorable ending. While the other portions of your message are important, people are most likely to recall the ending. If the finish is boring, you speech will soon be forgotten.

Note cards are great tools for speeches. Even though it is best that you memorize your speech, keeping a hard copy of it close by is a good idea. You don’t have to have the speech in its entirety before you as you stand at the podium, but your key points should at least be jotted down.

You should be more confident, since reading the article above. Learning to speak with confidence is possible. Use what you have learned and grow in your skill level. Offer this helpful advice to others that fear public speaking.

TIP! One method to improve your effectiveness when speaking in public is to relate a true story. Prior to the day of your speech, make an outline of your story.

The Local SEO Stats & Practical Tactics of Google’s Top-Ranked Grocery Stores

Posted by MiriamEllis

Grocery stores belong at the center of the 2021 local SEO industry conversation.

Other than medical facilities, no enterprise stands out more clearly on the map as essential to daily life in the US, and few verticals have had to adapt more rapidly in mid-flight than our neighborhood food stores in the COVID-19 era. From independent grocers to major supermarket chains, there are heroes in every aisle keeping the nation fed. Any data that supports the strong continuance of these businesses is well worth sharing.

In this article, I’ll provide results from 900 data points I pulled while analyzing the top local-pack-ranked grocery store in each of the 50 US capital cities. I’ll also summarize the practical tactics I’ve learned from listening to grocers and their marketers, highlighting how they’re adapting and succeeding in unprecedented times.

It’s my hope that both in-house and agency grocery marketers will discover important takeaways in my analysis to ensure a successful 2021 for each vital store.


I manually queried Google for “grocery store”, modified with the city name of each of the 50 US capital cities. I was not physically located in any of the cities where I searched, which should exclude the influence of user-to-business proximity. In a spreadsheet, I manually recorded 18 characteristics for each of the winning grocery stores, and then drew my statistics from this data.

The GMB characteristics of top-ranked grocery stores

Review these statististics to assess how a grocery store you’re marketing measures up.

Location within city limits

100% of the grocery stores ranking #1 had a physical location within the city limits of the specified search phrase city. No shop, however strong, was getting the number one spot in the local pack if it wasn’t within the city.

Takeaway: Having a location within city limits correlates with a good chance of ranking for searches that contain that city’s name.

Keywords in business title

Only 6% of the top-ranked businesses had business titles that matched any part of my search phrases. This was good to see, given Google’s known (and unfortunate) rewarding of brands that stuff keywords into their business titles in violation of Google’s guidelines. I saw only one business that had extraneous keywords in its title.

Takeaway: You don’t need to spam Google with keywords in your business title to rank as a top grocery store.

Brand diversity

No one brand is winning the top spot across the country. Results were extremely diverse, and made up of a vibrant mix of independent grocers and large chains. Some brands were winning out in more than one state, however. Safeway won five local packs, Whole Foods won four, and Hy-Vee and Hannaford each won three. Beyond this, brands were very varied.

Takeaway: Any brand, large or small, can compete for premium local visibility. No one brand has a monopoly on rankings.

Page Authority of GMB landing page

Page Authority (PA) is a 100-point score developed by Moz that predicts how well a specific website page will rank within search engine results. PA is believed to exert a strong influence on local pack rankings.

Examining the PA of the website landing page linked to from each grocery store’s Google My Business listing, I found that the average PA was 40. The highest PA was 58 and the lowest was 26. Five of the top-ranked supermarkets had no website link at all, amazingly, and this must be a source of mystery and frustration for lower-ranked grocery stores in these cities with GMB listings that do link to their websites.

Takeaway: An average PA of 40 is not prohibitively high. Using Moz Pro to measure competitive PA and actively seeking relevant local links for each location of a grocery brand can help you beat out sleepier competitors. When low PA or even a missing website link are still being rewarded with a high ranking for a competitor of the brand you’re marketing, it’s time to conduct a local business audit to discover which other local search ranking factors might be at play.

Primary GMB category

82% of top-ranked grocery stores use “grocery store” as their primary category. The remainder of brands had chosen a few other categories, like “supermarket” or “organic food store”. The primary category chosen for the GMB listing is believed to have the most impact on which terms the business ranks for in Google’s local packs.

Takeaway: “Grocery store” has a much higher estimated monthly search volume than any other keyword phrase I investigated, such as “supermarket” or “food store”. Grocers wishing to rank for this top term are best off choosing “grocery store” as their primary GMB category.


The average rating of top-ranked grocery stores is 4.2 stars. The highest rated market had 4.7 stars, and the lowest had 3.6. Star ratings are believed to influence local rank.

Takeaway: No top-ranked grocery store had a perfect 5-star rating. Don’t be overly concerned about the occasional negative review, but do aim for customer satisfaction that yields ratings in the 4-star range, cumulatively.

Review count

Grocery stores receive a massive number of reviews, and review counts are believed to influence rank. Overall, the 50 grocery stores I analyzed had received a total of 62,415 reviews, indicating just how common usage of Google as a dominant consumer review platform has become.

The average review count per store location is 1,248. The count for the most-reviewed grocery store in my data set is 3,632. The fewest reviews a top-ranked store received is 227. Bear in mind that the reviews each store location needs to achieve maximum visibility will be predicated on their unique geographic market and level of competition.

Takeaway: The fact that the overwhelming majority of reviews I saw are unmanaged (have no brand responses) leads me to believe that professional review acquisition campaigns aren’t likely the force driving the high number of total reviews in the grocery industry. Rather, I’d suggest that Americans are self-motivated to review the places they shop for food. Nevertheless, if a brand you’re marketing is being outranked by a competitor with more consumer sentiment, launching a formal review acquisition program is a smart bet for impacting rank and improving customer service for a store location.

Review recency

The recency of your reviews signals to Google and consumers whether your business is a place of bustling activity or a bit on the quiet side. It’s long been theorized that review recency might have some impact on rank as a user behavior signal. In my data set, 52% of top-ranked stores had been reviewed within the last day. 46% had received a review within the last week. Only 2% had seen more than a week go by without receiving a new review.

Takeaway: Multiple consumer surveys have found that customers tend to be most interested in your most recent reviews when making a decision about where to shop. If a grocery store location you’re marketing hasn’t been reviewed in weeks or months (or years!), it’s definitely a signal to begin actively asking customers for feedback.

Always remember that your customers are your grocery store’s best sales force. They freely convince one another to shop with your company by dint of what they say about your brand in reviews. A steady stream of recent, positive sentiment is priceless sales copy for your market.

Owner responses to reviews in 2020

Making use of Google’s owner response function on the reviews a grocery store receives is absolutely basic to providing good customer service. However, in my data set, 60% of top-ranked grocery stores had not responded to a single review in 2020, and of the 40% that had responded to some reviews, not one brand had responded to all of their reviews.

Takeaway: While ignoring reviews appears to have had no negative impact on grocery stores’ ability to achieve top local pack rankings, I can’t emphasize enough what a waste of opportunity is happening in this vertical.

Every review is a customer starting a conversation with a brand, whether their goal is to thank the business or to complain in hopes of receiving help. Ignoring the majority of conversations customers are starting must be extremely deleterious to consumer satisfaction and reputation. 2020 was a year like no other, and grocers have had their hands full adapting and surviving, but going forward, supermarkets that allocate resources to responding to every review will have an incredible customer experience edge over less-engaged competitors.

Place topics

Google excerpts common topics from the body of each store’s reviews and puts them at the top of the review display. 40% of top-ranked grocery stores have “produce” as their most-mentioned place topic, and it was also present for many, many other stores even if it wasn’t their #1 topic. 6% have “organic” and another 6% have “to go” as the most-talked about element, but beyond this, place topics are greatly varied. This area of Google’s interface is sprinkled with terms like “clean”, “cashier”, “deals”, “sales”, and many other words.

Takeaway: I’m not yet convinced of the usefulness or ultimate staying power of this aspect of Google’s review displays. However, it provides very shorthand sentiment analysis for grocers and marketers wanting an at-a-glance idea of what customers are saying in reviews for a brand and its competitors. You need to drill down into the text of the reviews, though, to see whether frequent mentions of something like “clean” are from customers saying a business is or isn’t clean. Place topics just aren’t terribly sophisticated sentiment analysis, at this point.

My data set reveals that Americans are putting premium focus on produce, so one takeaway here is that the quality of your produce department drives consumers to leave reviews. A great produce department could lead to a great rating and great consumer-created content about your market. A disappointing produce section could create the reverse. I also found the prevalence of “organic” place topics revealing, given stats I had seen on the 10X growth in purchases of organic produce between January and March of 2020. There is a clear demand trend here for healthy food that should be informing inventory.

Price attributes

Google places a 1-4 point “$” attribute on many listings as an evaluation of costliness. It’s believed these designations stem, in part, from attribute questions Google asks users, but the overall data set is incomplete. In my sampling, Google only had a price attribute for 42% of the top-ranked grocery stores. Of that number, 76% were marked with the moderate “$$” price attribute.

Takeaway: As I found in my previous piece on The Google Characteristics of America’s Top-Ranked Eateries, neither Google nor consumers tend to consider either the cheapest or most expensive food options to be the most relevant. Concepts of thrift and spendiness differ greatly across the US, but it’s good to know that a modest price evaluation tends to correlate with top local rankings. That seems to be in-step with the current economic picture. The grocery brands you’re marketing don’t need to be the cheapest or the most expensive; the ideal would be delivering good value for a reasonable price.

Google Posts usage before and during COVID-19

Google Posts are a form of microblogging that enables brands to post fresh content to their Google Business Profiles. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 24% of grocers were publishing Google Posts, but in 2020, only 16% were actively making any use of this feature.

Takeaway: Google offered special COVID-19 post capabilities to businesses in 2020, but top-ranked grocery stores largely ignored this opportunity. Pre-pandemic usage was very meager, with only about a quarter of grocers using Google Posts to boost engagement. The 8% falloff in 2020 may paint a picture of a vertical too preoccupied with other, more urgent priorities to give this feature a try.

Use of Google posts is not believed to impact ranking, and neglect of this feature clearly didn’t hold any of the subjects back from achieving top rankings, but if a brand you’re marketing can allocate resources to this type of publishing, it’s worth trying. Moz Local can help you publish Google Posts to your listings, and increase the opportunities for consumers to engage with your profiles.

Google Questions & Answers

Google Q&A is a Google Business Profile function that lets a company publish and answer its FAQs, as well as letting the public ask and answer questions. Cumulatively, the fifty grocery stores in my survey have received 1,145 questions. The highest number of questions for a single location is 192, and the lowest is two.

Just 14% of grocers have responded to any of the questions their stores have received, and in no case had a grocery store responded to all of its questions.

Takeaway: The majority of the questions I saw were leads — customers asking if a market had this or that product, or offered a particular service or amenity. Sadly, public answers, often left by Google’s Local Guides, were often flippant and barren of information to help the customer making the query. While Q&A is not believed to have any impact on rankings, ignoring customers is not consistent with goals of providing excellent customer service.

Moreover, ignoring leads has a monetary context. One source estimates that the average American grocery trip bill is $60. This means that the total number of questions in my survey, if answered, could bring in $68,700 for that pool of stores. However, in my household, the average grocery bill is about $150 per trip, which could make answering this many questions in California worth something like $171,750, if the shops have the goods and services the customers are seeking. My numbers are just estimates, but one thing I know is that few brands can afford to leave money on the table.

I would highly recommend that grocery stores make the time to populate Google Q&A with their top FAQs, including whether the business offers delivery, curbside service, and requires mask-wearing. Beyond this, using a product like Moz Local will let you know each time a new question comes in at any of your locations, so that you can be sure no potential customer is being ignored and that all leads are the subject of careful stewardship.

The COVID-19 adaptations top-ranked grocery stores have made

Beyond analyzing the GMB listing elements in my data set, I phoned each of the grocery stores to ask them a few questions to understand how they have adapted fulfillment and policies in response to the pandemic.

I could have relied on the Google attributes depicting curbside and delivery service, but I’m glad I made the calls, because I found discrepancies in use of these attributes and actual services provided. In some cases, stores with these amenities had not been tagged with these attributes yet, and in others, the attributes that were displayed were wrong.

These are my findings:

Home grocery delivery

62% of the stores in my survey set are now offering home grocery delivery. I was surprised that this number wasn’t higher, given consumer demand for the safest ways to keep their households supplied, coupled with the clear need to keep grocery workers as safe as possible.

Of this number, only 12% of grocery stores I spoke with have managed to create an in-house delivery service. 31 of the 50 brands in my data set were having to go with the costly option of third-party last-mile fulfillment. Of this number, 29% are using Instacart, 26% are using Doordash, 8% are using Amazon Prime, 4% are using Peapod and Shipt, and 2% are using Grubhub. Three brands were partnering with more than one third-party service, and two were offering both third-party and in-house delivery options.

Finally, I saw multiple instances of Google allowing third-party fulfillment companies to advertise on the Google Business Profiles of grocery stores. Grocery store staff who told me they had no delivery service are almost certainly unaware of this practice. I find this scenario to be one of the least-acceptable in Google’s local playbook, particularly because they place the burden on business owners to try to get such advertising removed from their listings.

A business working hard to develop an in-house delivery team doesn’t deserve to have Doordash or Instacart or Grubhub parked on their listing, eating away at profits. Be sure you’re checking the Google Business Profiles of any grocery stores you’re marketing and seeking removal of any third-party links you don’t want.

Google Trends recorded the massive spike in searches related to grocery delivery that occurred in spring of 2020 as Americans sought strategies for keeping their households supplied while staying safely at home. When you couple this with the tragic reporting UFCW has been offering on the COVID-19 mortality of grocery workers, increasing delivery options is essential.

Keeping the majority of the public at home and limiting face-to-face contact for grocery store staff has made home delivery a vital COVID-19 adaptation that must expand beyond the 62% adoption rate I saw in my study.

Curbside service

For brands that are still struggling to develop a workable delivery program, curbside pickup has been a welcome option. 64% of the stores in my study are offering curbside service now — a number just slightly higher than the home delivery figure. I saw that in multiple cases, brands that weren’t yet set up to do delivery were at least able to create this fulfillment alternative, but we’d need to see this figure at 100% to ensure no one has to walk into a grocery store and risk infection.

Mask policy

When I asked grocery store staff if their location required all employees and shoppers to wear masks, 83% said yes and 17% said no. This was the most important question in my survey, given the state of the pandemic in the United States, and I want to share what I learned beyond the numbers.

  • In the cities/states where grocery store workers reported no masking requirements, they invariably told me they “lacked the authority to enforce mask-wearing”. Lack of government policy has left the people in these communities helpless to protect themselves.
  • Reviews sometimes told a different story for the 83% of grocery stores where employees told me masks are required. Despite a stated mask-requirement policy, reviewers report instances of encountering unmasked staff and patrons at some locations and express distress over this, sometimes stating they won’t return to these venues. This means that the actual enforcement of PPE-wearing is actually less than 83%.
  • On a purely human level, I sensed that my question about masking made some employees anxious, as if they feared a negative response from me when they told me that masks were required. I can only imagine the experiences some of these staff members have had trying to cope with customers refusing to protect themselves and others from contagion. The exchanges I had with staff further cemented my understanding of the need for clear, national policy to reduce and, hopefully, eliminate COVID-19 so that everyone in our local communities is safeguarded.

My friend and colleague Mike Blumenthal has done the best job in the local SEO industry documenting consumer demand for masking as evinced in reviews, and also, how to get political rant reviews from anti-maskers removed from your GMB listings, should the store you’re marketing receive them. Out of my deep concern for grocery store workers and communities, it’s my strong hope that national leadership will result in 100% participation in grocery industry masking requirements in 2021.

Full contactless fulfillment

0% of the grocery store brands in my study have switched to contactless-only fulfillment, but this methodology may become essential in overcoming the public health emergency. When grocery stores can operate as warehouses where food is stored for curbside pickup and delivery, instead of any in-store shopping, workers and customers can substantially reduce contact.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first emerged in America, markets like Oneota Community Food Coop in Decorah, Iowa switched to pick-up-only for a time, and may need to do so again. Meanwhile, my neighbor is receiving her complete grocery delivery every week from Imperfect Foods, which launched in San Francisco in 2015 and has experienced phenomenal expansion in the past few years on its mission to deliver economical foods in a convenient manner. This comes on the heels of the meal kit delivery bubble, encompassing Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Purple Carrot, and many other options. Even convenience stores like 7-11 are making a strong effort to go contactless.

In April of 2020, 40 million Americans placed online grocery orders. Rapid adaptation is absolutely possible, and until COVID-19 can be placed in the country’s rearview mirror, a national effort may be essential to recast grocery brands as curators of food delivery rather than places to shop in person. Local search marketers should fully participate in grocery store client ideation on how to shape public perception that supports safety for all.

Satisfaction, reputation, and rankings

Delivery, curbside service, and strict masking policies may not seem to have a direct connection to local search rankings, but in the larger scheme of things, they do. Customers reward businesses they love with positive reviews. When a customer is extremely satisfied with how a business like a grocery store takes care of them, studies show this motivates them to award reviews as a thank-you.

The more you demonstrate to customers and communities that the grocery store you’re marketing cares for them, the more you’ll grow your corpus of positive reviews with high star ratings. This, then, will support the local pack ranking goals you’re hoping to meet for maximum online visibility. And your reputation will have become the sort that generates high conversions. 79% of shoppers say contactless pickup is very important to them — whatever you can do to deliver satisfaction to the consumer majority is a very smart move.

What I’ve learned about agility from grocers and their marketers

“There shouldn’t be a brand between you and your customer. You shouldn’t be introducing them to somebody else and nobody should own your information.” — Brian Moyer, CEO, Freshop

It’s not overstating the case to say that the grocery industry is undergoing a revolution. Annual online grocery sales in the US increased from $1.2 billion in August of 2019 to $7.2 billion in June of 2020.

As a local SEO, I can’t think of another industry I can learn more from about adaptation, ingenuity, and resilience. I’ve been following food industry news, and was especially engaged by a webinar I tuned into hosted by digital grocery software provider, Freshop. I’ll summarize seven key takeaways here:

1) If you can develop an in-house delivery program, do it, because it’s the only way to maintain ownership of the full customer experience with your brand. It also makes financial sense in the long run, as I covered previously here in my column on Third Party vs. In-house delivery: A Guide to Informed Choice. In the Freshop webinar, Brian Moyer reminded attendees that Blockbuster once had the opportunity to buy Netflix, but passed on the chance. Now is the time for grocery stores to protect themselves from giving their trade away to the Instacarts and Doordashes on the scene.

2) Whatever software you use to digitize your grocery inventory, it should be strong on POS integration, inventory management, and analytics. I was impressed with the short demo I saw of Freshop’s analytics dashboard coverage of pick times and slot fulfillment for delivery management, profitability across time, tracking of both non-transactional and transactional behaviors, and integration of Google Analytics for measuring conversion rates.

3) Take a page from meal kit services and offer them yourself. Create breakfast kits, supper kits, dessert kits, holiday meal kits, etc. Make it easy for customers to think in terms of meals and get everything they need in a couple of clicks.

4) Consider leveraging digital ads on your grocery store website from brands you already carry. This can create an additional revenue stream.

5) Create online shoppable circulars. Remember that I saw “deals” and “sales” showing up as GMB place topics? Many customers who used to take cues from print circulars can learn to transfer this habit to clickable digital circulars.

6) Carefully evaluate the community support options of the digital shopping software you choose. Most grocery stores aren’t direct competitors and can help one another out. A great example I saw was how one grocer shared the letter he wrote to apply for taking SNAP payments. He was happy to let other grocers copy this form letter to use for their own applications.

7) Celebrate the fact that online commerce has removed historic barriers to customers locating store inventory in a complex floor plan. With a search box, any customer can find any product in any aisle. As difficult as things are right now, this is one silver lining of genuine value to grocers and their marketers.

Summing up

The dominant characteristics of Google’s top ranked grocery stores in the 50 US capitals are:

  • Being located in the city specified in the search
  • Accomplishing GMB landing page PA in the 40 range
  • Not relying on spamming GMB business titles
  • Using “grocery store” as their primary category
  • Winning a 4+ star rating
  • Being heavily reviewed and having received a review in the last week
  • Receiving leads in the form of Q&A
  • Offering delivery and curbside shopping options
  • Requiring masks

The key areas of GMB opportunity that are not yet being utilized by this group to protect dominant visibility are:

  • Customer service in the form of review responses
  • Lead management in the form of answers to Q&A
  • PR in the form of Google Posts

The grocery industry is undergoing a period of significant challenge and opportunity encompassing:

  • The challenge of digitizing inventory
  • The challenge of managing the full consumer experience with delivery and curbside service to avoid being cut out by third parties and to greatly increase safety
  • The opportunity of selling to customers in new ways by fulfilling new needs
  • The opportunity of building permanent loyalty by creating memorable experiences of care and satisfaction during the pandemic that will inform post-pandemic relationships

I want to close with a thank-you note to my favorite, great-hearted neighborhood grocer — a family-owned country store in a rural area. You found me ice during a power shutoff in the midst of a fire, you found me bath tissue during the shortage, and locally-distilled hand sanitizer to keep my family safe. You set up curbside pickup to protect me, and when my car was out of service, your family offered to bring groceries to my home, even though you don’t yet have the staff for a full delivery service.

My grateful loyalty is yours.

As a local search marketer, I may look at data, I may share numbers, but really what I’m thinking about is people. People feeding the nation, deserved of every protection and safeguard ingenuity can devise to get us through these hard times together. If you’re running or marketing a grocery store and have local SEO questions, please ask them in the comments and I’ll do my best to provide helpful answers to support your success. Thank you for all that you’re doing!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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The 5 Best Ebook Formats for Marketers [Free Templates]

Some argue that in the world of marketing, ebooks are dead. Others say they are not. But the fact is that ebooks — when written, designed, and marketed properly — can generate thousands upon thousands of contact submissions for your business.

Whether you’re just getting started with ebook creation as a marketing tool, or you’re reconsidering the role of ebooks in your existing content strategy, you’re likely asking yourself an important question: What is the best ebook format for the ebooks in my marketing library?

It’s important to note that this question can be answered in two different ways:

  • What is the best ebook format for content creation?
  • What is the best ebook format for content consumption?

Here, we’ll cover best practices for both of these topics — and explain how HubSpot’s Ebook Templates can help you achieve your marketing team’s lead generation goals.

Featured Resource: 18 Free Ebook Formatting & Creation Templates

Download Free Ebook Templates

Need help formatting your ebooks? Our collection of 18 free ebook templates will help you create and format your ebook content for an incredible reader experience in Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe InDesign, and Google Slides so that you can format your ebooks in the way that best suits your marketing team and your content readers.

The 3 Best Ebook Formats for Content Creation

1. Adobe InDesign

Adobe’s advanced design software gives content creators a myriad of options for creating and formatting their ebooks.

These advanced features do come at a price, but experienced marketing designers rely on Adobe InDesign because of those features.

Click Here to Download 6 Adobe InDesign Ebook Templates.


Adobe is known for being feature-rich. As a result, you can expect your ebooks to look their best when made with InDesign, as you’ll be able to create and incorporate original design elements right in your document.


For an inexperienced designer or for the marketer who just needs to get a serviceable offer released, the bells and whistles that InDesign offers might not be necessary. InDesign’s interface and usability aren’t the most straightforward, and could require you to put in more effort than is needed for your final deliverable.

2. Google Slides

Google Slides is a simpler tool for making an ebook when compared to InDesign, and the fact that documents live online mean you can collaborate in real-time with your team members to make a fantastic deliverable. Oh — and it’s free, which is helpful if you have a limited marketing budget. 

Click Here to Download 6 Google Slides Ebook Templates.


Google Slides is a great tool for marketers who need to make a good ebook quickly — especially if you’re working alongside team members and are sourcing feedback from them. The interface of Slides is arguably more straightforward than InDesign’s, meaning you can move and edit creative elements faster if you’re new to both tools.


Because Google Slides is primarily a presentation tool rather than an ebook creation tool, you may miss out on some necessary features that would help make your ebooks the quality they need to be in order to warrant your leads’ attention.

Conversely, you might need to make design elements elsewhere, such as an Adobe software or Canva, and later import these creative elements into your Slides deck. This could create an inconsistent creation experience if you need to track down design elements after you’ve created them.

3. Microsoft PowerPoint

A slightly more advanced option than Google Slides — but not quite as advanced as Adobe software — PowerPoint is another presentation-making platform that can be used to design an ebook.


PowerPoint has some features that Google Slides does not, such as better effects for designing. PowerPoint is also an offline software, meaning you can build your ebooks without wifi.


PowerPoint is a paid software, as opposed to a free tool available in G Suite. You’ll also be in asynchronous communication with your team if you’re collaborating with them on edits and additions. Lastly, while it has better creative features than Slides, it doesn’t come close to the advanced features of InDesign.

Click Here to Download 6 Microsoft PowerPoint Ebook Templates.

The 2 Best Ebook Formats for Consumption

1. Interactive PDF

The best ebook format for ebook consumption is an interactive Portable Document Format, or PDF.

PDFs are the go-to option for content marketing ebooks for many reasons — among them the consistency of their design and readability on different devices.

We at HubSpot use PDFs for our ebooks because we can embed links to relevant pages and sources in them, can upload them right into our content library and File Manager, and trust that the design will appear as intended if our leads open the ebook in Chrome, Safari, Preview, on their phones, or on a desktop.

The interactive nature also means if we include an open text box for readers to complete an activity in the book (like in our Content Marketing Workbook), readers can complete the activity in whatever application they’re consuming the content.


EPUB, short for electronic publication and saved with an .epub file extension, is another way for you to save your ebooks.

EPUBs rose in popularity after becoming a prominent ebook format for e-readers, but given its accessibility on Apple macOS and iOS products via Apple Books, the format is also a viable — though somewhat limiting — option for content marketing ebooks.

epub-3One unique feature of the .epub file format is its scrollability. To mimic the reading of an actual book, readers can view one page at a time and must scroll or swipe horizontally, as opposed to vertical scrolling with PDFs, which gives your readers the feeling of reading a book as opposed to interacting with website content. However, this also means readers might have to do more work to navigate the content and find the information they are looking for.

Additionally, video and audio files can be embedded in the .epub format, unlike PDFs, which means your readers can consume more interactive content without leaving the ebook.

If you’re tired of the PDF option and want to spruce up your content format, you can save your InDesign ebooks as an .epub file – just be prepared for some readers being unable to read your content, which is something you likely don’t want to be the case.

Formatting Your Ebooks

There’s no one perfect ebook format, but that just means there’s more options for your team to work with.

If you’re just getting started, we recommended using Google Slides – since you’ll be able to collaborate with your team more easily, create your content for free, and see how your audience reacts to ebooks before making a major investment in time and resources.

As you scale, and if you’re able to work with a designer, we suggest formatting your ebooks in InDesign.

When it comes to saving your ebooks, it’s best to stick with the interactive PDF format for wider accessibility.

Either way, make sure you check out HubSpot’s 18 Ebook Templates for free InDesign, PowerPoint, and Slides templates to build, format, and design your ebooks.

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How to use heatmaps to level up your content marketing game

30-second summary:

  • Heatmaps represent user engagement data on your web page in a graphical form.
  • They were introduced by Cormac Kinney, the software maker, to help traders beat the market.
  • Today, marketers use heatmaps to visualize users’ behavior on content and improve their content marketing accordingly.

If you are on the digital marketing scene, you’ve probably already heard of heatmaps. They are a great tool for marketers to see how users interact with websites.

For those of you who are newbie marketers, let’s have a brief look at what a heatmap is.

Heatmaps: Introduction and types

A heatmap can be explained as a tool for data visualization. It represents different values using colors, to show users complex data sets.

Heatmaps shows:

  • How well a particular page is performing?
  • Which of your content grabs users’ attention first?
  • And if there is any content they aren’t understanding or interested in.

Heatmaps use colors ranging through the spectrum from blue to red, with blue being the coolest (showing low engagement with the webpage) up to red, the warmest (showing high engagement levels).

Take a look at the following example. The bright orange and red show the highest engagement from visitors, and the other areas are not so often viewed.

Heatmaps and content marketing

Source: Crazy Egg Website

You can see visitors have mainly focused on the top of the page and much fewer have scrolled all the way down.

There are different kinds of heatmaps to choose from, depending on what kind of information you want to get.

Here are three of the most popular heatmap types:

  • Overlay reports: These break down clicks on your website into percentages, so you can see where people are clicking the most and where they are not.
  • Scroll maps: This option will show you how far down the page users get before they stop scrolling and reading.
  • Confetti report: This is a high-resolution view of a traditional heatmap. The difference is a confetti map lets you see individual clicks. Each click is shown by a colored dot.

So now you know what a heatmap is, and the different types to choose from, let’s find out some ways to supercharge your content strategy using heatmaps.

1. Find the missing pieces of the content puzzle

Once you have added content to your page, you will want to know not only how many people see that content, but how much is read. Do they read two lines then leave, or does your content hold their interest?

A scroll map will show how far down the page your visitors go, so you can tell how much of your content they are reading.

For example, let’s say that Tom writes a fascinating, in-depth webpage about growth hacking.

He explains about documents, cases, and what customers tend to do, and also reveals the reasons a lot of solutions are not useful.

Tom publishes his findings online and shares it. The traffic looks good. People are visiting and reading his page.

Tom is happy with this, but still wonders whether they are really reading it, or whether they are looking at it and leaving. He decides to check his visitor reports.

Types of heatmaps

Source: Crazy Egg Website

As Tom (and you) can see, by looking at the scroll map, only about 1 in 15 or even 20 readers get to the end of his page. That means most are either not reading it or only reading a part of it.

As well as this information, the scroll map offers more insights into website user behavior.

It shows which content people spent time on, which filters and menu options are most used, which sections are scrolled over without being read, and how far into the page they click away.

The data can be used to create more effective website content in the future.

Paid search data allows you to uncover keyword opportunities for creating relevant content, social media posts and ad copy, but add heatmaps into the equation and you have even more knowledge about what content your audience wants.

Combine the use of heatmaps with Google Analytics to see how long users stay on your site before they bounce. You will be able to see how far most of them get to before they leave, and figure out the reason why.

Is there something missing from that page? Is it difficult to read? Is the content irrelevant?

The heatmap will show you exactly which parts they are interested in and where they drop off, and you can use this knowledge to improve the content.

2. Smooth out the friction between users and CTA

Heatmaps are often used to help understand how website visitors are interacting with CTA buttons and other on-page elements.

Take a look at this image. You can see on the left, the users spent more time looking at the advertising banner than actually at the website checkout buying something.

Using heatmaps to Smooth out the friction between users and CTA

Source: Convince & Convert Website

You can see on the right that some small changes have been made, in order to encourage users toward the marketer’s preferred action.

3. Optimize images to grab attention

Another use of heatmaps is to show you the best places to add images. More visitors than you probably realize try to click on unlinked images.

For example, let’s say a blog post has a high bounce rate. Visitors are coming but they aren’t staying and you want to know why.

This is where a heatmap comes in very handy.

A confetti click track report might reveal that your visitors come, try clicking on several things which are not clickable, then get annoyed and bounce.

So they do want to click through. They just don’t know how.

Let’s take a look at another example. This one is two versions of an ecommerce landing page.

A/B testing using heatmaps for ecommerce

Source: VWO Website

In the first image, the baby is looking right at the viewer, making him the most attention-grabbing thing on the page.

But look at the second image. Here the baby is looking at the text. This helps subconsciously guide users’ attention to the web copy and the message it offers.

A/B testing for ecommerce landing page

Source: VWO Website

4. Uncover the “why” behind cart abandonment

Another great use of heatmaps is to test UX and usability.

For example, an online retailer discovers a lot of people are shopping at their online store and adding items to their shopping cart but then abandoning the cart rather than purchasing the items.

Some UX testing can show the retailer why this might be.

Overlays and heatmaps show where people click and where they don’t.

Maybe the checkout button isn’t easy to spot, or it’s too low on the page.

It could be that the shoppers are getting distracted by a colorful nav bar or there are annoying ads or popups driving them away.

Perhaps they are trying to click the non-clickable elements and getting frustrated.

Once these distractions or problems are removed, do an A/B test on the page in question to find out more on which one converts.

5. Boost your conversion funnel

Testing how effective your content marketing is, as well as testing UX and usability, will help make it easier to move potential buyers down the conversion funnel.

For example, if a few visitors are reading a whole piece of content and all of them are signing up for your free guide, you are improving your sales team’s leads and your content is successful.

But what about, on the other hand, many visitors are coming to your landing page, but nobody is interested in getting your free guide or joining your email list?

Simply check the heatmap and find out where they are clicking, and if they are clicking at all.

Maybe they are trying to click but they are clicking the wrong element or it isn’t clear where to click. Or perhaps something is broken on the page.

Do you see a high number of drop-offs on a particular page?

Do people seem to hover for a long time on a strange part of the page?

Keep a record of the weak spots you find on the different pages, then improve them and see if you can get fewer bounces and better conversions.

The main thing is to check for issues that might stop your visitors from converting, whether that might be images that look like clickable buttons, poor web copy, or a confusing checkout experience.

6. Strengthen your internal links

The anchor text used to link to different pages on your website gives more context for what that page is about, or at least that is how the search engines view it.

Internal links let you establish a content hierarchy where the most important pages are seen as the most valuable, and allows you to distribute link equity between different pages.

If you rely on content to grow your site, then internal linking is a great strategy used to strengthen the authority you have about key topics. Content may be grouped into ‘pillar’ or ‘cornerstone’ pages and subtopics.

So what does that have to do with heatmaps?

As you know, heatmaps offer detailed information about where visitors click. This helps you measure internal link performance. The insights you get can be used to drive more traffic to pages by optimizing your link placement.

7. Enhance outbound links too

Although offering tempting outbound links might seem like driving users away from your website, it is not as counterintuitive as it sounds.

Including outbound links in your content is good SEO practice.

Linking to reputable sources shows both readers and Google that you want to provide useful information. According to Stanford University research, the links you choose to feature can tell readers and search engines a lot about the quality of your content.

For example, linking to a spammy site will harm your credibility.

So how do you use heatmaps to assist with good outbound links?

A click map can show you which of your outbound links are the most clicked on, as well as the least. This will give you an insight into what your audience is most interested in.

Which of your outbound looks do visitors want to click on? Which do they find most interesting or most credible?

A scroll map is also useful for improving outbound links. Perhaps readers are finding one of your links irrelevant or spammy, and many are dropping off at that point.

If that is happening, it might be time to find a better website to link to, or get rid of the link altogether.

Otherwise, it could just be that the content on the page is not up to par, and needs some rework.


Knowing how users interact with the structure of your site, as well as its content and other elements can really help you develop a content strategy to retain visitors who read more of your content and convert more.

Heatmaps can help you get ahead of the competition by allowing you to identify friction-causing issues and find new ways to attract visitors and increase conversions.

Heatmaps are useful in many ways for marketers, but they are best when combined with other research tools.

Learning how buyers perceive and experience your website is crucial information and can really help with the success of your website.

Lyuthar Jacob is working as an assistant editor at a digital marketing agency – He is the type of geek who loves to explore subjects ranging from Marketing to Lifestyle and Money Saving. And share his evolution through his write-ups.

The post How to use heatmaps to level up your content marketing game appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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