Google My Business (GMB) pages are a vital component of local and overall SEO. When GMB pages are optimized, they provide critical information to customers including contact information, reviews, service catalog, and more. As the pandemic continues, the value of GMB pages has never been more vital as customers continue to search for updated store business hours, online dinner menus, and virtual doctor appointments.
Switching to remote work because of the Covid-19 outbreak was probably a bit of a shock. Typical office camaraderie may have disappeared with social distancing, everyone is worried, and your usual discipline and focus might be lagging.
Here at Efferent Media, we have experience with remote work because we allow our staff to work from home when weather is bad to keep them safe. Here are a few tips we’ve learned along the way for remote work success.
Work From Home Tips –
SET UP A WORK SPACE:
SET GROUND RULES:
MAKE A TO-DO LIST:
KEEP CLEARLY DEFINED WORK HOURS:
COMMUNICATE WITH COWORKERS:
TAKE A SICK DAY IF NECESSARY:
Obviously, this is easy if you have a home office. If you don’t, find a spot with a good chair you can use as your work from home space. Working from your couch sounds appealing but odds are your back and/or neck won’t like it after a day or two because you’re probably not maintaining good posture or ergonomics.
If your space is small, you might need to use your dining room table even though you’ll have to put away your laptop for meals. A good space setup will also help you focus on work so do what you can to create a good environment.
Working in your pajamas is also tempting but can wreak havoc on your mood and mindset. Being comfortable is OK. Taking a shower and getting dressed is a small but crucial step to maintain a healthy mindset. Some people even like to change clothes at the end of the work day to create a mental shift between work time and leisure time even if both outfits involve sweatpants or hoodies.
And that can also apply to your children. “Have everyone dressed and ready for the day, the same time we would normally,” said Krista Baroncelli, Efferent Media’s Director of Client Success. The routine helps children feel more normal in this unsettling time.
If you have children, family members, partners, or roommates home right now – and due to the coronavirus shelter-at-home rules you probably do – create clear rules about your working time.
If you’re having conference calls or video conferences, negotiating no-interruption time is crucial. If you’re dealing with kids, a little bribery may be necessary as in “play quietly or do your school assignment while I’m on the call and then we’ll have lunch together or take a walk.”
“Create a routine and try to stick to a schedule, create a schedule for the kids as well,” said Emily Aquino, Efferent Media’s Creative Director. “Take breaks together, set lunch and snack times, and create a snack bin/basket so the kids can grab and go without bothering you.”
“I let them know when I am on a call and coordinate some outside playtime with them before and after. I also schedule their school quiet reading time at the times I know I’ll have a call,” added Baroncelli.
Also set guidelines with friends or relatives that may be bored at home that they can’t call you during your work hours unless it’s an emergency. People who regularly work from home can attest to the importance of this.
If you haven’t worked from home before, staying focused on your tasks can be a challenge, especially if current events are causing worry, and they probably are. Start the day by setting goals and making your task list for the day – and do this before you check email to avoid distractions. Make the list achievable and check things off as you go to maintain a sense of accomplishments.
Being organized helped Efferent Media’s web developer Malachi Perrin adapt to working from home for the first time. “I thought I was going to be a little more distracted, but I’m not distracted at all. I have the same focus now as I do in the office,” said Perrin.
When working from home, it’s easy to let work bleed over to what should be your free time. That can be very bad for your mental health. You can also lose a sense of what day it is. Set clear work hours and stick to them unless it’s a genuine work emergency. This will help you adapt back to normal life when the quarantines are over.
“When I’m writing a piece of copy, I’m going to continue until I’m done, even if it’s after 5 p.m., because I don’t want to lose the flow, but making sure I otherwise keep a schedule is vital to avoid burnout. Days can blend into each other when working from home continuously. Having the evening free to read, watch a movie, video call will friends, etc. helps to manage stress,” said Beth Rimmels, Efferent Media’s Senior Copywriter.
This is essential for a distributed team. Everyone needs to know what the others are working on for efficiency, plus the communication can be useful to everyone’s mental health. Fortunately, there are a lot of tools that are either free, affordable, or enterprise level, depending upon what you need.
Getting up, walking around, and stretching is good for your back, your general health, and mood. Set a timer, if necessary, to remind you to stand up now and then. Getting some fresh air when the weather is good is also important for your health. The COVID-19 outbreak might make outdoor activity tricky but you can walk outside so long as you maintain social distancing.
Having pets can make this tip easier to follow, especially if it’s a dog that needs walking. “Having something else to take care helps me to get up and get out, even if I don’t want to,” said Eileen McGovern, Efferent Media’s Search Manager. “she [Eileen’s rescue puppy] still has needs, and it helps structure my day.”
If you’re naturally quiet in meetings then conference calls might be tricky for you but speaking up and being heard is essential. You want people to know what you’re working on and you definitely don’t want to risk being forgotten.
Working from home doesn’t mean working while sick – you’ll be less productive and more prone to mistakes. Even at home, it’s often best to take a day to rest and recover than to push through and be sick longer.
Take advantage of training opportunities if they arise. More and more professional training is online now so if it fits your situation or schedule, say yes if given a chance to learn new skills.
During this stressful time, Efferent Media is here to help. Marketing can help keep your business going, and your website’s visibility and authority is more important than ever. Call us at (631) 867-0900 or fill out our contact form, and we’ll provide a complimentary SEO website evaluation and marketing consultation. We’re all in this together.
The Internet Has Come a Long Way
Remember the dial-up days when your internet connection was a continuous phone call between the internet company and your computer? Dropped connections, downloads taking several hours, and picking up the phone only to hear those roaring staticky “bleep-bloop” sounds are thankfully a thing of the past. Taking into account both large and small updates, to say a lot has changed would be an extreme understatement. From when Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989, it has drastically progressed at an exponential rate.
Google Implements a Visual Redesign
In the ever-changing landscape of the internet, there has been a vast number of major and minor changes over the past three decades. Efferent Media takes pride in keeping up with the latest trends and best practices. In this instance, although minor, favicons are visual to anyone using Google as their search engine. You may have already noticed a difference when searching on mobile because the implementation was seen there first, only soon to be noticed on your desktop, laptop, etc.
The intention of both changes is to make it easier to find the source of the information being provided. The first change is to the ad displays at the top of the page. We are sure you can recall a green ad identifier and URL or breadcrumb trail placed under the listing. That will now be black and placed above the listing.
The second change is to the organic listings. The green internet address or breadcrumb trail will now be black and placed above the listing as well. Companies will also have the added benefit of displaying favicons to their organic listings. The favicon is a small, custom image that is 48×48 pixels in size. The illustration below shows how Efferent Media has utilized the element.
To find out how your favicon can be included in Google Search results, check out this article. In case you haven’t noticed the change, below is both the old and new design of the Google search results page for mobile users.
Conclusion on Favicons
This redesign is a visually pleasing facelift to the search result page. Some SEOs are enjoying Google’s favicon mobile search results interface. They are under the impression the intention was to present ads in a manner where they don’t stand out, looking more like the traditional organic search results. Regardless of the speculation or reasoning, your company will now have more real estate to take advantage of on the search results page. Have you added a favicon to your website yet? If not, we’re happy to help you out by providing the proper information to do just that. Get in touch with us today for help with this or any of your digital marketing needs.
Pressure on Facebook Grows
Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes wrote a long opinion piece in the New York Times calling for Facebook to be broken into smaller, separate companies. Hughes is far from the first to do so. Presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren also has a proposal for breaking up Facebook, Google and Amazon for anti-trust reasons that has been attracting praise and attention. The fact that a co-founder is now adding his voice for ending Facebook’s monopoly shocked many in the tech industry. Hughes provides historical context, solid reasons for why and ideas as to how to do it.
Meanwhile, Natasha Lamb, managing partner at Arjuna Capital, which is a Facebook shareholder, wrote an opinion piece that makes a case for why Mark Zuckerberg should exit Facebook. The article endorses a “Vote No” campaign, started by civil rights groups and shareholders, promoting a vote against Zuckerberg as a member of Facebook’s board. The annual meeting on May 30 also has votes scheduled on several shareholder proposals to create independent oversight, long term accountability, bring on independent advisers and to review content policies.
Not surprisingly, Facebook is having problems hiring, according to a report by CNBC. Former Facebook recruiters told the business news network that since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, Facebook has had a sharp decline in job offer acceptances. The more than a half dozen former recruiters said that of those candidates taking interviews with Facebook, they’re asking much tougher questions about how the company works and its privacy policies. Carnegie Mellon University graduates had the steepest decline to just 35% of recruits accepting Facebook job offers. Facebook spokesperson Anthony Harrison disputed the report but refused to cite any specific inaccuracies. This follows earlier CNBC reports that more current Facebook employees are reaching out to former coworkers for new job leads and that start-ups are finding it easier to sway staff to leave Facebook and Google due to scandals.
Is Google Boosting GMB to Monetize It?
Google My Business has undergone many changes in the past year, all of which allow small, local businesses to better promote their products and services to clients. From product and offer to posts to better CTAs, Google has been working to make GMB essential to local marketing. Analysts have long thought that it was only a matter of time before Google started charging for access to features or some other monetization plan. Now RankRanger has put together an analysis of Google’s actions in regard to GMB and how it might lead to monetization.
Italian Regulators Examining Google’s Abuse of Market Dominance
The Italian Antitrust Authority has approved an initial preliminary procedure against Alphabet Inc., Google LLC and Google Italy S.r.l., which is collectively referenced to as “Google” in the documentation, for allegedly abusing its dominance in the smart device market.
Just a month ago, the Italian Antitrust Authority began a similar investigation into Amazon. CNBC has more details on the investigations.
TechCrunch tipster and reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong discovered a design change test in Instagram’s code for Android that would hide likes on Instagram posts. TechCrunch asked Instagram about the test and a spokesperson confirmed it. “We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who shares a post will see the total number of likes it gets.”
Popularity and herd mentality can be major driving factors behind liking an individual post so this design change could affect how people interact with posts – especially since some Instagram users will delete posts that don’t generate enough likes quickly. Even with the change, Instagram would still show profile likes.
Instagram lunched Stories, in part, to lessen the pressure for Like counts. Twitter is also testing having retweet counts hidden behind a second tap.
Pinterest launched on the NY Stock Exchange, raising $1.6 billion at its initial offering. Pinterest stock rose 28.4% on April 18, which was its first day of trading.
Analysts expect Pinterest to focus on growing its ad platform and e-commerce options now that it’s publicly held and must focus on generating revenue.
Facebook Said to Be Developing an AI Assistant
Former Facebook employees told CNBC that the company is creating an AI voice assistant to challenge Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. The team working on the project are based in Redmond, Washington. It’s believed that the electronic assistant will work with Facebook’s Portal video chat device, Oculus headsets or other future devices.
Facebook previous created an AI assistant for Messenger. Called M, it never became popular. The project ended in 2018.
Changes to YouTube TV Content & Price
YouTube is adding new channels to the basic YouTube TV membership, including Discovery Network channels like Animal Planet, HGTV, Food Network and more. OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network will be added later this year and EPIX is now available for an additional charge.
At the same time, YouTube is dropping the base membership price to $49.99 a month, though subscribers billed through Apple will be charge $54.99 a month. For more information, see the announcement on YouTube’s official blog.
G+ Is Dead, Long Live Currents
Google+ is officially dead – but only for consumers. Shortly after shutting down the failed social network Google announced Currents, an enterprise version of Google+. Named for the old social magazine app Google used to offer, the new service will allow employees to share data, and, as Google puts it “have meaningful discussions.”