Update Your Google My Business Listing for COVID-19

Screenshot from Google My Business

Do you have a special announcement about your business in response to COVID-19?

I have been placing many updates on sites about the status of their business such as whether or not they are open, safety procedures, handling of products, business hours, customized restaurant menu changes for drive-through etc. Most of these announcements are banners placed at the top of the page.

I am finding, however, that many small businesses have neglected to update their Google My Business listing. If you have a listing with them, I recommend that you update this ASAP. Google has added a section for COVID-19 posts. Simply create a new post and you will see the COVID-19 tab as pictured in the screenshot above.

If you don’t already have a Google My Business listing, you may sign up for one. However, don’t expect to receive it immediately. Once you sign up, they need to verify your business and they usually do that by sending a postcard in the mail. With a reduced staff, this is taking longer than the usual week or so. Still, even though you need to wait for verification, I recommend it for your business.

A New Editor for WordPress

Gutenberg is Coming Soon. Embrace the change. Now or Later?
What is Gutenberg?

What is Gutenberg? Gutenberg is a new editor for WordPress.  Currently available as a plugin, WordPress has been developing this and plans to launch it as a core feature this August with version 5.0. Once you update your site to version 5.0, your site will use the new Gutenberg editor and the classic editor (the original one) will be available as a plugin if needed.

I recommend that before updating your site to 5.0,  you set up a test/staging environment and install the Gutenberg plugin to see how your site handles it.  You should also run a back up of your site. There are still many unknowns such as how various plugins will handle it, especially those with custom editors, metaboxes, Carbonfields, Advanced Custom Fields, etc.  WordPress is still working out the kinks for their new editor as you can see on their GitHub page.

If you decide that you need more time before switching over to the new style editor, you can simply install the Classic Editor plugin now.  Then go to settings > writing > Classic Editor Settings, you can select to replace the Gutenberg editor with the Classic Editor.  It also allows you to use the Gutenberg editor by default and include optional links back to the Classic editor.

Do more with fewer plugins.

In order to give this new editor a test drive, I installed it on this site.  I created my own feature image (the blue box above) and then snagged some iconic boxes from the WordPress Gutenberg page for the purpose of adding some floating images.

Create modern, multimedia-heavy layouts.

This demonstrates that WordPress is working hard to keep up with the latest trends and requests. To add these images, I was able to easily drag and drop from my desktop. I love this convenience and found that I can easily add alt tags if I look in the left column while adding the image. I didn’t need to go to the media library, a real time saver!

Work across all screen sizes and devices.

I’m curious to test this across various devices to see how it handles them. When we tested them earlier, we had difficulty with the images jumping around and not performing the way we expected them to. This is one example of the kinks that need to be worked out. However, they seem to have worked this out already.

Trust that your editor looks like your website.

Trust that your editor looks like your website” will be wonderful especially for non-coders. However, like I said, there may still be some kinks to work out.  Again, I encourage you to visit the WordPress.org/Gutenberg page for more information on what the new editor will provide. I encourage you to make the switch sooner rather than later. If you have a simple site, you should be able to do so by simply backing up your site first and not bothering with the test/staging site.  Make sure all of your plugins are updated also, since many of them are updating to accommodate Gutenberg.

I really enjoyed the WordPress Meetup in Georgetown

I really enjoyed the WordPress Meetup in Georgetown last Thursday and look forward to the next one. It was the first Meetup for this Northern group. For me, it was nice not drive downtown and look for parking. We met at Rentsch Brewery http://rentschbrewery.com/ out on the patio. I’m not a beer drinker so the bartender let me sample a couple before ordering. I think I had the Hefeweizen. Anyway, I’m looking forward to returning for more!

It’s always interesting to see who turns up at these meetups and this one didn’t disappoint. We had a marketing team, freelancers, a retired couple starting their own site, someone who needed to learn WP to help out with their company website, a PHP Developer and others that I didn’t have a chance to chat with – maybe next time. We discussed some interesting topics such as online resources for learning WordPress, best practices, developing plugins, learning HTML and CSS, Website Hosting, attending the WordPress Bootcamp and Technical SEO.

To sum it up, I had a great beer, fun meeting new people and fun sharing WordPress experiences.

Huge SEO Opportunities Frequently Missed

I often see small businesses that miss out on a huge SEO opportunity by using their Facebook business pages to promote their products rather than their website, and leaving their website to stagnate.  While it may be convenient, it’s a huge missed SEO opportunity.  What they really should be doing is using their website to write the posts and then push those posts to their social pages. The benefits are two-fold:  they’ll receive a broader range of coverage and they’ll keep their site alive and breathing.  Frequently updated websites generate higher SEO rankings.

A broader range of coverage? Well, yes. If you think about it, Facebook is limited to Facebook users and not everyone has a FB account.  It is also a social platform, not a professional one (granted, they are evolving).  I ask you this:  How often do you go to Facebook to search for something? Your website is available to everyone and is more heavily indexed by search engines such as Google and Bing, which are bigger.

Too often, business owners view their website as something static, like a printed ad.  While that may have been accurate 10 years ago, that is not the case now.  Users want to see fresh and current content, so search engines have adapted their algorithms accordingly. Updating your site frequently goes a long way towards increasing your SEO and promoting your business.

If you have a WordPress site, there are several plugins available that will push your posts to your social media which will save you from having to write multiple posts.  Be sure to include a link or two to other pages on your site for even more coverage.

 

Contact me for a free estimate or buy some WebsiteMaintenance time and I can help you do this.

reverse the flow, promote your website by sending posts to your Facebook

Website Maintenance Best Practices

Follow me to learn about website maintenance best practices, and stay informed with tips and advice on how to keep your site fresh, as well as get the most out of your Webmaster. Even though your business may not be the type to change frequently, it is important to maintain your …