Yes you’ve got SEO Skillz… Don’t let it go to your head.
Hey it’s Friday!… Just keeping it real.
Why does a hummingbird Hum?
Answer: Because it doesn’t know the words! Dumb bird.
The humming bird is set to make the search faster. Along with other updates google is 100% happy. And why not, it’s their birthday. So blow out the lights and make a wish.
(Thank you Mike of Carpet Cleaning Chico for sharing this image.)
This is in Beta right now and few users can see these. Further, the final roll out may look a little different. But overall, the Gold Stars are there in living color. And I like the added score in front of the stars to clarify the actual average. It’s a nice touch. But still, more importantly, the stars. The stars are coming back!
It was one year ago that Google removed the review stars from the local search pack. They instead went with a Zagat rating. A red box number from 1 to 30. This number was virtually worthless to users. Most didn’t understand it. 5 simple gold stars was easy to see, to read, to understand. And the disappearance of those stars made a difference. A HUGE difference. Taking away those stars cost Bulwark Exterminating big money. July of 2012 was my first down month in 6 years. Oddly, all other vital signs to my website look the same. Same traffic, same time on site, same bounce rate. But sales were down. After fixing this problem with a little schema markup, and then becoming the only organic with stars we had record breaking months. In fact, September of 2012 was our best pest control month ever, which is notable considering September is the tail end of our busy season.
Further evidence of the importance of the 5 gold stars is found in Adwords Express (formerly Google Boost) and PPC Seller Ratings. Both of these add stars to google’s paid ads. Neither of these were removed over the past year. Since the Adwords team is in the game to make money, I doubt that leaving those gold stars in PPC ads was an accident. In fact, I know several local companies that opted to use Adwords Express for the sole purpose of restoring the “Gold Review Stars”. The results of for those that went that route varied. The lack of control in Adwords express deterred me from going that route. I’m not a fan of paying $10 a click for keywords I don’t get a say in. (You can find my full Pros and Pests to Adwords Express on Avalaunch’s blog) And Google doesn’t offer the review star ad extension for local businesses outside of adwords express. But others have reported that they like adwords express. So with all marketing, test it.
So it’s been awhile since I’ve written here. It’s the darn FREEDOM that has kept me from writing.
I know it sounds a bit bizarre, rationally, if I were free then I’d have the time to write. I do like to write, but there are things that I value more than writing, and those things have consumed my time and so I am not FREE to write. Let me explain further, FREEDOM allows me to opportunity to write, but opportunity cost has taken that freedom to write by spending the precious commodity of time else where.
I heard a great musician once speak and say, “How many of you want to be master pianists?”
I raised my hand.
“You LIE.” he replied. “Wanting is doing. If you really wanted it then you would put in the time and energy to do it.”
He was right. I didn’t really want to be a master pianist.
I am grateful for the great nation we live in. I am so very happy with the freedoms I enjoy. But I must recognize that these freedoms also afford the opportunity for abuse of time. It allows great evils. Our Nation stands divided now often between those that defend good and those that promote evil. Our nation allows men with evil designs the freedom to choose evil. This balance is itself an opportunity cost. It must be that those who will use freedom to build great things, to advance humanity, to revolutionize the world, are permitted to do so unrestrained. And in loosening those reins, beings that will corrupt, tear down, and oppose the progress of mankind, are equally free to actuate their desires. Freedom is simply a conduit for men and women to reach their potentials for better or worse. A hammer is a tool. The use of the hammer to build or tear down is no fault of the hammer.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
We are free to choose this day whom we will serve. Laws aside, the good or evil we do is a right given to each of us. Freedom has made America thrive. Perhaps freedom isn’t always efficient. But freedom is effective. American freedom has advanced the world. Railroads, gas, telephone, electricity, and TV, all American. Even to this wondrous internet that allows me to work for Bulwark and blog to you right now, is American. Freedom rings the American advancement bell. It despite the corruption that follows some of these advances, and despite any individual’s view of the damages that America has done to world, America has and will always better the world as a whole.
Pursue your life and liberty as you will. Ultimately despite the possible decay and corruption found in America today, good may still prevail. It is our unalienable right to help ourselves, our homes, our families, and our communities in that pursuit of Happiness. But when our help is not welcomed by others, leave it be. For each of us may only ultimately determine the happiness of one person. The pursuit of happiness is yours and yours alone. While you may not be the author of happiness, you can find it. Happiness is there. It does exist. The Truth is that your Freedom is your own, to spend as you will.
This is the pest control guy, wishing you a happy Fourth of July.
Someone turned 100 a week ago, and somehow I don’t think you celebrated it.
According to last year’s presidential election exit polls, most voters want lower taxes. For a government run by the voters, this does not seem to be going with the popular vote. Even Senator John Kerry runs from taxes by docking his 7 million dollar yacht outside of the state’s reach, saving himself near half a million.
Well when the income tax was introduced it would only tax 1% of the population. So the majority got together and said, “Let’s take money from that 1%”.
For starters, the original tax code was 400 pages long. At 100 years old, it has 73,954 pages. ….Who has read all of that?
Highest Income Tax rate in 1913, 7 percent. The 2013 tax rate high, 39.6 percent. But it has seen much worse.
During war times, Lincoln instituted revenue taxes to help fund the war. 10 years later, in 1872, the tax was repealed based on the violation to the constitution. The 16th Amendment was added in 1913, the year our current income tax was born.
“Income taxes punish the very things we want more of: productive work, risk-taking and success. We can’t say this enough: A tax on income is the price you pay for working; a tax on profits, the price you pay for success; and a tax on capital gains, the price you pay for taking risks that work out.” – Steve Forbes
Perhaps that it make you feel a little better about your current tax rate to know that 18 other nations have a higher income tax than the US.
The average American contributes $5 for ever Billion that the Government spends. This, of course, varies by your income as the bulk of the money come from our graduated income tax. And yet we still are not paying enough to cover the Governments spending habits. Perhaps we are not too far off from meeting that Denmark high tax.
So are you wishing the income-tax a Happy 100th Birthday?
Simple metrics can put you and your company on the road to continuous improvement. Bulwark Exterminating’s Adam Seever shares how.
Big firms save millions by reducing errors and waste through Six Sigma, Kaizen and Lean Management. But for small and mid-size companies, these principles can be hard to apply. It’s easy to get lost in the jargon, said Adam Seever, CEO of Bulwark Exterminating in Mesa, Ariz.
His suggestion? Keep it simple: Focus on measurement.
First, your organization must embrace three key values:
“You have to accept that measurement is necessary for improvement,” said Seever. “You may have great employees, but if the systems they work in aren’t measured, they can’t see how they’re doing compared with each other and you can’t see how the systems relate to the overall money-making capacity of the business.”
Get managers together and discuss what employees should be doing but aren’t. Write these “shoulds” down. “That’s a success in and of itself,” said Seever.
This process is all about discovering reality, which is “whatever your average employee is doing when no one is looking,” he said.
Here’s an example: You want your technicians to start the day’s first service in the first 20 minutes of the 8 to11 a.m. time block. Your average technician, however, isn’t showing up until after 10 a.m. Technically he’s not late, but delaying this first service can throw his entire day behind schedule.
Should you fire this employee? Give him more training? Neither, said Seever. “You just can’t throw the axe every time the average person isn’t doing what you want them to do,” he said. And lecturing is useless, especially when the employee is protected by the work habits of the majority. “They will not change. You will not find increased productivity,” he said.
According to Seever, “They’re not the inadequate one. You are.” When you have the mean of individuals in your system acting contrary to what the management team thinks should happen, that’s the fault of management not employees. The goals you’ve developed and the systems you built are insufficient.
“It’s a learning process for everyone in the company.” If you’ve collected people who like to ride the gravy train, there’s going to be friction. Bulwark Exterminating put GPS devices in service trucks to monitor when technicians arrived at their first call. A simple spreadsheet — check yes or no — recorded whether employees showed up in the first 20 minutes of the time block.
Calculate the economic impact if the majority of employees changed their behavior. This can be a little involved, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated, said Seever.
What would happen if the average technician showed up 95 percent of the time in the first 20 minutes to his first appointment? How much more money per day would he generate if he could service more accounts by 5 p.m.? Would you have new capacity to handle emergency calls? Would customers be more satisfied?
Develop a bonus system to reward employees who change behavior. Bulwark Exterminating found it could save $200 per month per technician if employees showed up to the first service call within the first 20 minutes. Technicians who do this 95 percent of the time get a $100 monthly bonus. The bonus helped employees accept the GPS monitoring.
Some business owners have a problem with splitting the difference with employees, said Seever. They figure, why should I pay them more to do something they’re already supposed to be doing?
“You are paying exactly for what your average employee is doing right now,” he explained. Say you have 100 employees and 70 are not doing something to your expectation. You can’t expect one of those 70 people to change when 69 of them are protected by the norm.The employees who do meet your expectation are getting robbed. “It’s all about putting your money where your mouth is,” he said.
This approach can make annual pay reviews obsolete, as salary and hourly wage increases are based on increased productivity. Without real measurement, annual reviews are subjective and vague, and metrics almost always prove managers play favorites, said Seever. The human element is important — Do customers compliment him, is he personable, does he smile? — but without real
measurements, how do you really know?
Eventually, employees will embrace the expected behavior. Almost all of Bulwark Exterminating’s technicians now show up to their first call as expected and receive the $100 bonus each month.
If you get the average to comply, it’s easy to isolate a minority 20 percent not meeting expectations and train or terminate them, Seever said.
This approach cannot be accomplished by one person, he cautioned. At Bulwark Exterminating, a team of believers makes metric-based management happen.
And don’t expect results if you merely have the “warm and fuzzy” need to make your financial statements look better. “That type of engagement in any program, especially in regards to metrics, won’t work,” he said.
I updated my Google+ App on my iPhone and found this..
I have never know google to not use information they collect to better their search results. I foresee Google+ checkins becoming a major part of Google’s Local Search algorithm. The Google+ Check In will add the user data that google is craving to make search results relevant to users. Google places has come a long way. At one time Google scrapped the internet trying to create it’s local directory. They abused Yelp trying to add in reviews. They indexed foursquare to make sure the results were relevant. Now they have their own system to do all this themselves. From reviews to location data, Google+ answers the local directory call.
Can Google+ capture the foodies? As for the foodies, I am not sure, but I do believe Google has the means and drive to eventually beat down Yelp and Foursquare. While Yelp will have a long life and will still hold on to much of it’s elite foodie following, the annoyance and frustration from both businesses and the non-elite users will erode Yelp’s base. But what do I know.. I am just a pest control guy.