Digital HI™ Technology, SEO, Search Magnet Local™, Social Media and Digital Marketing

Higher Images Adds Marketing and Design Expert to The Mix

Every digital marketing firm needs someone who can look at a company’s products and design their print and online branding and marketing materials with a clear eye and an artistic nature.
 
Higher Images’ new marketing expert, Jayson Patterson, is already making an impact here.
 
He’s a man of many talents—an illustrator, photographer, graphic designer, and web designer. He has years of experience creating arresting websites, ads, brochures, logos, magazine layouts, direct mail, print and web marketing materials, and more.
 
Drawing since he was barely out of his crib, Jayson knew that he wanted to be an illustrator and already was demonstrating some impressive talents before he even started school. “I could write my name in cursive before I started Kindergarten,” he says. He attended the prestigious The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he majored in Fine Arts and Animation, and then stayed in the area to work until he decided to take a job back in his hometown of Pittsburgh.
 
Eventually, his illustration interests led him to graphic and web design, and he started his own design company that allowed him to produce many effective and eye-catching marketing campaigns.
 
“Then, my family grew (he and his wife had little Jayson, who just celebrated his first birthday), and I knew it was time to start expanding my skills for a larger audience. I wanted to work at a place where I could really help business owners grow successful companies. I’m working with Higher Images’ clients to show them how we can make their company stand out by using both online and print branding campaigns, which often go hand-in-hand. I’ve been working with small- and medium-sized business for years, and I know how to kick campaigns up a notch. Plus, I’m excited to help Higher Images itself revamp its image. So I have a lot to do and it’s going to be great,” Jayson says.
 
If you’re looking for a marketing expert who has experience in all forms of digital and print media, give Higher Images a call at 412-203-1996.

Local Search Changes With Google Carousel

Google Carousel Adjusts Local Results

A few weeks ago, Google released the Knowledge Graph Carousel. If you’ve used Google to search for a local place recently, such as “movie theater Arlington VA” or “Miami Italian restaurant,” you’ve noticed that some of the search results pages are now overhauled. Carousel is designed to make your local searches for places like restaurants, coffee shops, movie theaters, and hotels easier and is based on a more visual, user-friendly approach. But of course, a change this big generates some new rules for business owners who are likely to be in this local category.

Knowledge Graph Carousel: What Does It Look Like?

Your search results for local places now may include images of locations that run across the top of the search page, as well as organic results and a clickable Google map on the right-hand side that pinpoints these locations in the area you’re focusing on. Clicking on one of images that spans the top of the page will give you more information, including an address, business hours, and additional images, plus user reviews (reviews from Google Plus are highlighted). You’ll also see what related local places others have searched. If you manipulate the map (either by moving the map in a different direction, or zooming in or out), the images on top will also change to give you results based upon the map’s location.

How Carousel Changes Organic Searches

Google Carousel is more interactive than Google’s past location search results. This new service seems to makes the organic search results less significant because Carousel’s new features are dominating the page, creating less space above the fold on your site. Carousel’s site layout becomes more landscape than portrait because of the horizontal images running across the top and can actually offer more space for local listings. However, since so much of the page is taken up with Carousel’s information, people may not pay as much attention to the organic search results as they once did. Instead, they’ll be able to get what they need just from looking at or clicking on Carousel’s features. A more visual approach could begin to appeal to more and more users. The answer? Make sure your business is Google Plus accessible if people become drawn to Carousel’s layout.

Make Your Local Business Stand Out on Carousel

  • Open or Update a Google Plus Account. Google’s tendency to point to its own products on Carousel makes having a Google Plus account very important for your business. Even if you don’t manage a local place that’s likely to show up right now as a Carousel page, Google no doubt has plans in the future to keep updating their searches with new products. Creating and maintaining a Google Plus account now will put you ahead of the curve.

It’s important to make sure your Google Plus account is complete:

  • Have professional images available on your Google Plus account. Google first draws on the images that are in your G+ account. If you own a restaurant that has a well-known dessert, be sure that a picture of it is displayed. If you don’t have a G+ image, then Carousel will retrieve an image from a different review site. If none are available, then a business’s Carousel picture will just be a map of its location.
  • Update your Google Plus account with new information often: new menus, improved services, new employees.

While Knowledge Graph Carousel isn’t yet used in mobile searches, it’s best to look ahead—with mobile searches escalating, that could certainly be happening soon.

If you have any questions about adding a Google Plus account for your business, contact Higher Images today at 412.203.1996!


Knowledge Graph Carousel Example:  searching for “Pittsburgh restaurants”

 

Protecting Your Domain

Higher Images, Inc. - Protect Your DomainMany clients have been contacting us in regards to notifications – either received via e-mail or US mail – that they are about to lose their domain name, unless they promptly reply with a payment – usually a very HIGH payment. Often at least $75 for only ONE YEAR of registration – to as high as $295 for five years of registration.

For those clients who panic in fear of losing their domain name, and therefore losing their website, they often remit their payment only to find that the solicitation was merely a scam from a company looking to take control of the domain name, and making it near impossible for the customer to regain control in the future.

Not only has a ridiculously high fee been remitted to a less than reputable registrar, but the customer has now turned over control of their domain to a company who has every intention of making it as difficult as possible for you – the customer – to contact any type of customer service, or have the ability to regain control of their domain.

If you currently have your domain registered through Higher Images, rest assured that for $15 per year (NOT $75, as the domain scammers will charge), your registration will remain current, and your website will remain online.
Have you received an email that tells you that it’s time to “send in your registration and save”? Are you afraid that if you don’t reply by the date on the notice that you may lose rankings, visibility, and possibly your website? If this is the case – and if you have received a notice similar to this – please contact Higher Images immediately. We are instantly able to see when your domain is actually set to expire, and we can help you renew it easily and legitimately.

Many of these unscrupulous solicitations tend to look similar to the below:

Domain Name Scam


When you receive a notice that you need to renew your domain, please understand that the majority of these communications are most likely solicitations from outside registrars with the intention of manipulate consumers into transferring registered domain names from their current registrars to the soliciting company. Unfortunately when this happens, consumers agree to the new terms and pricing included in the solicitation, often costing them a significant amount of money above what they have previously been paying.

By following the below steps, you can rest assured that your domain is safe, and always remains where you have complete control:

  • Always select the option of Private Domain Registration for your domain name. This option will cost you a few more dollars per year, but will also remove all of your personal information, preventing unwanted, deceitful and fraudulent attempts to gain control of your domain.
  • Be sure to use strong passwords, which include both upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters such as #,! and @.
  • Always register your domain name with a reputable domain registrar to ensure safety and security of your domain name, thereby also protecting your website or blog.

If you would like Higher Images to be your registrar, contact Robin Dugas at 412-203-1996 or robin@higherimages.com.

Does Your Website Design Need an Upgrade?

website design pittsburghWebsite Design by Higher Images

If you have an HTML-based website, you may be well aware of the difficulty involved in updating content, images, or the general look and feel of your site. For most non-technical people, this is something that is best left to the pros.

In recent years, a new type of website has taken over the spotlight, it’s known as a CMS website – or Content Management System. A CMS website is database-driven, meaning that is “dynamic”. In other words, information pertaining to your site is stored in a database, and retrieved when a user looks for that information, in real time.

On the flip side, a static website design has all information hard-coded onto the webpage itself. Therefore, when the need arises for changes – even as minor as punctuation – the entire webpage needs to be modified and re-published to your server through some sort of FTP upload program. This difficulty often results in site owners choosing to not update their website with fresh content, photos or links, and therefore allows the site to become stagnant. Search Engines do not like stagnant websites, by the way.

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Handling Customer Reviews

How To Respond to Customer ReviewsHow Are You Handling Your Customer Reviews Online?

Lately, we have been receiving calls here at Higher Images, from clients about the customer reviews online, regarding their business.

Sites such as Google, Yelp, CitySearch and more allow customers to post reviews about companies they do business with. From pizza joints to dental offices, customers are posting their experiences – both good and bad.

Many customers who have found negative reviews often call us, asking how they can get them removed. Before we get into those details, however, we want to explain why you shouldn’t remove them.  You see, customers can have bad experiences anywhere.  Perhaps it was just a bad day, a new employee, your business was short-staffed, or you have a disgruntled ex-employee.  Regardless of the reason, business owners must look at their reviews as an opportunity to learn and grow their business.

Typically, when a customer has a bad experience with a business, they are more intent on publishing negative reviews in more than one location – especially if the customer attempted resolve the issue with the company, with no luck.

Not only only is scouring the internet and deleting bad reviews for your business a bad idea – it’s bad business.  If a customer has taken a significant amount of time to ensure others are reading the negative reviews, as a business owner, you should immediately address them.

If you feel that the negative review is inappropriate or inaccurate, the best way to handle it is to rebut it.  Address the customer directly on the review site, with your description of events, and why you feel that you have done the right thing in your business practice.

If the negative review is warranted, it is imperative you show your good will towards valued customers, by either asking the customer to contact you directly via the review site or tracking down the customer through your business records. Deleting reviews will only further upset the customer, and give them the feeling that it doesn’t matter to you whether customers are satisfied or not.

In order to respond to a review, you most likely will need to claim your business via the specific site.  Most sites will require some sort of verification on your end – such as a phone call or postcard – in order to ensure that you are the owner or representative of your business.  Once the verification process is complete, you will then be able to address the review.

While we can’t stop you from deleting a review, we certainly won’t encourage it (unless it is warranted).  Competition is fierce in the business world, and while none of us want to see anything negative about our businesses, we would be better off addressing the issue, and utilizing it to better our business (and business practices) for future customers.

No business is perfect, but addressing negative comments will take you much farther with potential customers than sweeping it under the rug.  9 out of 10 times, the review will reappear and cause irreparable damage to your reputation.

The following list – while not all inclusive – are some of the most common sites that business owners will find reviews posts.  Again, there are many, many sites out there that allow users to post their experiences with businesses, but the below are the most common:

Google Reviews

How to Remove Google ReviewsSimply go to Google and type in your business name, followed by the word reviews.

If your business has any reviews on Google, you should easily be able to find them in this way.  Click on the review link, and it should take you to your business’ Google Place/Local page.  Lower down, on the right hand side of the page, you should see “Is This Your Business?” with a “Manage This Page” link.  Follow the instructions, in order to claim your listing, and have the ability to post responses to reviews.

If you want the review removed, you can request Google do that for you, by going here.

Yelp

Managing Yelp ReviewsYelp was once thought of as a “social” review site, containing reviews and write-ups about bars, restaurants, clubs and other “socially” centered businesses.

However, Yelp has evolved into a well-rounded review site that allows users to post reviews about any type of business they frequent.  Because Yelp is a site centered around user reviews, that is the main reason people visit the site.  If your business has a negative review on Yelp, realize that it could be found (and relied on) by many, many potential customers.

To claim your business on Yelp, simply go to the site, and search for your business in the search bar. In the results, select your business.  You should see “Edit Business Details” and “Work Here? Unlock This Page”.  In either case, Yelp will require verification that you are the business owner, or an authorized representative of the business before you can edit your business details or reply to/address a review.

City Search

How to manage citysearch reviewsJust like Yelp, simply go to the website and do a search for your business.

Once your business is located, you can then click on the link towards the upper right hand side of the page that says, “Own This Business?”.  The verification is a quick and automated process, and will allow you to update any/all business information, as well as the ability to address reviews.

There are upgrades/paid options available that will allow for advertising, call tracking and more.

Search Magnet Local Logo
Also, if you are a Search Magnet Local customer, you have the ability to rebut or address any negative reviews that you may encounter, simply by logging in to your Web Marketing Console account.  If you have any questions on how to do this, don’t hesitate to contact us at 412.203.1996.

Social Media and Facebook Changes

Higher Images Social Media

Social Media is Changing.  Again.

We are all aware of the importance of interacting with your current and potential customers through social media. But, there are also downsides. As you probably know, Facebook has implemented the “Timeline” look for fan

Running 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels high, it is undoubtedly your first – and easiest – opportunity to make an impression on visitors; use it wisely. The most noticeable change is the cover photo – you know, the giant picture that is the first thing you see when you land on a fan page. It’s a huge piece of real estate, and the most important piece of real estate in in your Facebook and social media efforts.

Also, Facebook has now shared the “rules” for the cover photo, and they seemingly negate all that is good about owning the valuable piece of real estate on your page:

  • No information about purchasing.
  • No contact information. At all. No phone numbers, no website information, no email addresses.
  • No types of Facebook action requests. No more arrows pointing to the “Like Us” button. No “Like Us” to learn more.

In other words, you may include how many calls to action? None. Zero. All Facebook Action Requests and Calls to Action in general are banned.

Social Media 2012

Social Media is Changing

Happy New Year from the team at Higher Images!  With each New Year comes change, and 2012 is no exception!  This week, we will be discussing the major changes in progress, and on the way, on the Social Media front – specifically Facebook.  Some changes are good, and some are a bit confusing…

social media changesThe first major change many of you may notice on your social media Facebook profile (not fan pages – yet), is the implementation of the “timeline” layout.  Some of us here at Higher Images love it, some not so much (several of us have been testing it out for weeks).  The pros and cons, as we see them, are:

Pros

  • Easy navigation
  • A snapshot view of a profile
  • The ability to easily get to old posts and photos
  • The option to hide photos and/or posts from profile viewers, without deleting them permanently

Cons

  • Perfect for stalkers – want to see what someone was doing four years ago?  Click on any given year, and you can see it all
  • Yet another major change that users have no control over
  • No announcement that this change was coming, unless you knew where to look
  • The expectation that once users get accustomed to using the new layout, the Facebook powers-that-be will do another complete revamp, and throw us all for a loop once again
  • Finding that perfect “landscape” layout photo to use as your cover photo isn’t as easy as it seems.  While you can reposition the picture within the frame, too small of a photo becomes blurry and distorted, while too large of a photo won’t fit within the “confines” of the frame.

As it stands now, Facebook is keeping quiet as to whether or not Fan Pages will also have the timeline layout, but it seems that it would be inevitable.  It would seem, based on the features available for profile users, the timeline (or something similar) would be a benefit to fan page users.

Another social media change that will be completed by February is the elimination of FBML (landing) pages on fan pages.  This is particularly important to business owners who utilize FBML pages as the default landing page for those who do not yet “like” the page.  While Facebook isn’t eliminating these pages entirely, they will soon be “hidden away” within a community tab on the side bar. In other words, if you want your visitors to see the page, they have to go and look for it.

social media confusionThe decline of the “Like” impact is something that Facebook has been hinting about for some time.  In the past, a brand’s success on Facebook was determined by the number of “Likes” or fans.

However, there is a shift in this, as Facebook wants to focus more on quality, instead of quantity.  In other words, simply having fans isn’t going to get your brand out there.  Engaging content, shares and “buzz” about your business is what’s more important.

As of this time, we are researching alternate methods of promoting businesses and brands across social spaces, including Google+ pages.  As we learn more about these changes, available alternatives and ways we are able to better your brand visibility, we will share with you!

If you have any questions about your current social media efforts, and how your social media marketing may change, please contact Higher Images at 412-203-1996.

Happy Holidays from Higher Images!

Does Your Business Have a Strong Online Presence?

Higher Images | Happy Holidays!Here at Higher Images, we wanted to take a moment to thank our clients and partners for a fantastic 2011.  As we look forward to 2012, we would like you to do the same.  In developing your business marketing efforts for the New Year, consider the following:

Oftentimes, even with the best efforts, businesses find that they aren’t seeing the traffic that they should.  This can be attributed to many factors, but the most common include:

A Poorly Designed Website

If your site looks dated, is difficult to navigate, or seems “thrown together”, you may be driving away potential customers and sales.  Don’t forget to check your site for grammatical errors as well – typos and poor grammar can indicate a lack of professionalism and pride in your business.

Ensuring that your site is clean, fresh and maintained regularly will encourage visitors to return and spend more time learning about your business and products.

Lack of Fresh, Relevant Content

There is nothing worse, for visitors or search engines, than stagnant website content.  If you have nothing new and exciting to say about your products, services or business, visitors will have no reason to continue visiting your site – or worse yet, no reason to share your site with anyone else.

Difficulty Making Purchases

If you offer a product or service available for purchase on your website, the purchase process should be seamless, secure and give the customer a sense of satisfaction and completion, at the time of purchase.

Utilizing a thank you page, followed by an email will ensure that the customer knows the sale is complete, and has been submitted for processing.

Ignoring Multiple Marketing Channels

Sure, you need a website to get your message and products “out there” for customers to see.  But are you also implementing the social aspect of your business?  Social spaces, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+ allow you to update current and potential customers on the fly, while also inviting them to engage with you and your business.

 

When planning for 2012, consider the above.  Take a look at what is currently working for you, and what isn’t – and how you have the ability to change that.  If you have any questions about implementing your 2012 marketing plan, give us a call at 412-203-1996, and we can discuss the many options available to you.

Again, Higher Images thanks each and every one of our clients for a fantastic 2011, and we are looking forward to working with you in 2012.  Happy Holidays!

Online Marketing Wishlist 2012

At Higher Images, Inc., we take a lot of pride in providing our clients with the best possible service.  from new and upcoming trends to ensure you – the customer – has the tools and options to place your business on the cutting edge in your industry.  This month, we are focusing on our top products, how they can increase ROI and why we love them so much!  So on to our first spotlight product!

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Giving Thanks

Everyone at Higher Images, Inc. would like to extend a warm thank you to our past, current and future clients.  Without you, Higher Images and its staff would not be where we are today.  So THANK YOU, from each and every one of us at Higher Images.

 

This week, we are focusing on how you can “thank” your site visitors through social media, form signups, localized search and additional forms of consumer engagement.  We are in the giving mood, here at Higher Images, and so we want to share some insight on how to best market to your target consumers.

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