It’s important to ensure the information about your business is up to date and consistent across search engines and online directories. These citations are a strong ranking signal to search engines and positively impact your search rankings.
That said, adding your company to each directory is a pain. Aside from having to create a new account for each, for many, you also have to deal with a salesperson trying to upsell you a paid, premium listing that won’t be worth the cost.
Moz Local takes the hassle out of manually updating all of your listings by pushing accurate location data to all of the major data aggregators and several top-tier online directories. You can update your business information in one place. The Essential plan will cost you $99 per year.
GetFiveStars is an app that helps you get customer feedback and online reviews. There are others like it. GetFiveStars just happens to be what we use with our clients at Landscape Leadership.
The GetFiveStars platform helps you automate the customer feedback process to capture your Net Promoter Score, testimonials and, ultimately, online reviews from your best customers.
We appreciate the “feedback first” approach to generating reviews and the automation makes the customer review process easy to implement at your company.
You know how important online reviews can be to your business. For $40 a month, GetFiveStars offers a platform and process that will deliver more positive customer reviews.
If your company is active on social media, Buffer can save you a great deal of time (and headaches) by offering an app and platform where you can schedule, publish and analyze all of your social media posts in one place.
Buffer makes it easy to select which of your social accounts you want to post to. You can post the same message to all of your social networks or add context by customizing each. The point is, you don’t have to bounce around between social networks to share your content.
Buffer is available for every social network your company is active on, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. The Individual Free plan or the Individual Awesome plan at $10 a month makes this app a no-brainer for companies investing in social media marketing.
HubSpot Marketing Free
The entry-level license for HubSpot’s software once started at $200 a month. That has changed with the release of HubSpot Marketing Free.
HubSpot Marketing Free provides easy to use, light-weight lead generation tools to convert more leads on your website and learn about their activity while on your site.
The Lead Flows tool is similar to Sumo’s List Builder in that it allows you to easily add a pop-up or slide-in form to your website.
It goes a little beyond Sumo, however, in offering insight about each of the visitors that converts on your website, like pages viewed, time on site and lead source.
HubSpot Marketing Free is a great next step for those of you interested in moving down the path toward marketing automation and inbound marketing but don’t yet have a significant budget for it.
Sumo arms you with a suite of tools to increase website traffic and generate more leads from your site.
Of the many tools and apps offered, the two that we think are most relevant to the green industry are List Builder and Smart Bar.
List Builder allows you to create and add pop-ups to your website. This is one of the easiest to use email capture tools available.
Smart Bar sits at the top of your website reminding your visitors to join your email list, check out your latest blog post or claim your special offer. This is a great way to make seasonal offers more visible and prominent.
You can get started with Sumo Basic for free.
The author is the founder and president of Landscape Leadership, a green industry marketing agency.
A majority of homeowners in three states said they are concerned about the appearance of their yard and would invest in water-efficient equipment if it was less expensive.
That’s according to results from a study conducted by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in 2014, in which the group asked 3,000 homeowners in Florida, Texas and California about water use. All homeowners surveyed used irrigation systems on their properties.
The survey was conducted by Hayk Khachatryan, a faculty member at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, Florida, and his post-doctoral research associate, Alicia Rihn.
When it came to the factors that would motivate the homeowners to reduce water use, reducing the price of water-efficient equipment came out as the most effective strategy. That was followed by more practical information on household water conservation and easier identification of water-efficient appliances.
But, while the homeowners wanted to pay less to save water, 64 percent of respondents were willing to spend more for better quality water.
Of that 64 percent, 26 percent said they’d pay less than 5 percent more while 8 percent were willing to pay more than 15 percent.
For complete results of the survey, visit http://bit.ly/wateruf.
As lakes and ponds age, they are continually impacted by sedimentation and nutrient enrichment.
Eventually, sediment and nutrient overload can lead to poor water quality and increased algae and nuisance aquatic vegetation blooms.
Due to tightened regulations regarding the use of algaecides and herbicides, it is becoming increasingly important to find alternatives for aquatic vegetation treatment programs.
INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT PLAN.
Integrated pest management (IPM) is a comprehensive approach to pest management that includes many non-chemical strategies before or along with the use of pesticides. The implementation of a long-term, proactive IPM plan for algae and aquatic weed management helps to reduce the quantity of chemical products used while still providing for a healthy and aesthetically pleasing water body.
There are many different potential components to an IPM plan, including prevention, mechanical and physical practices, cultural controls and biological solutions. A critical phase in the development of a comprehensive IPM plan is to evaluate which strategies will be appropriate for a specific site.
Preventing sediment and nutrients from getting into the water can provide long-term benefits for water quality since excessive nutrients can cause nuisance plants to thrive.
Establishing healthy communities of shoreline aquatic vegetation or allowing natural grasses to grow around the edges of a lake or pond will provide a filter for runoff, thus minimizing the sediment and nutrients entering into the pond. In addition, the vegetation will serve to stabilize the shoreline, preventing erosion and the introduction of more sediment into the water.
A buffer of grasses surrounding a lake or pond also makes a waterbody less attractive to Canada geese because they will not walk through vegetation over their heads. Since their bodily waste is a source of nutrients to a water body, preventing the presence of geese around the pond has its own benefits. Buffers should be trimmed at least once per year and should be selectively managed throughout the growing season, removing any woody vegetation or non-native, invasive plants.
For a lake or pond with severe algae issues, strategies that improve water quality can make a difference in the overall health and appearance of the water body.
A buffer of grasses surrounding a water body makes it less attractive to Canada geese, whose bodily waste can cause nuisance plants to thrive.
Nutrient mitigation is a widely used practice that directly targets and inactivates the phosphorus in the water and bottom sediments of a water body. Unique lanthanum modified clay is the most commonly used product for this purpose. Product selection and program development would be based on site-specific conditions and the general budget for the project.
Another commonly recommended IPM strategy is the installation of an aeration or circulation system. Aeration improves a water body by adding oxygen to the system. The circulating action converts phosphorus to forms that are not usable as food by algae.
PLENTY OF CHOICES.
While there are numerous IPM strategies that can be applied as part of a long-term plan, it is important to consider all of the site-specific characteristics of your lake or pond in order to develop a successful and environmentally sustainable program. By implementing a comprehensive maintenance approach that employs a variety of water quality improvement strategies, the long-term result will be a more balanced waterbody.
The author is an aquatic ecologist with SOLitude Lake Management, an environmental management firm.
Jesse Lafian is a recent college graduate, but his startup company, Reservoir, could change the game when it comes to efficient water use. The centerpiece of his company is a water availability sensor he invented, which won him the University of Georgia’s Next Top Entrepreneur prize of $10,000 to put toward his company.
Lafian got the idea for the sensor while in a soil and hydrology class at UGA. The professor told the class that if anyone could develop a sensor that would measure the availability of water in the soil, they would be very successful.
“I was inspired by that to think of a solution to how that would work,” he says.
Over the next few months, Lafian did research on his own time, ordering materials out of pocket and tinkering with different ideas.
When he was satisfied with a device, he took it to Dr. Marc van Iersel, a horticultural professor and personal mentor, and laid it all out on the table. Later that same week, the two applied for a small grant to do further development and testing.
Lafian’s design is a tensiometer, which measures soil water tension. It will tell users how much water is available to plants, regardless of the soil being used.
“Most of the sensors that you can leave out in the field and use as remote sensors, they measure a variable called soil water content – simply how much water is in the soil,” he says. “But that information isn’t actually that useful to landscapers or farmers because the texture in the soil actually determines how much water is available to your plants.
“So, if you have a sensor that says you have 20 percent water in the soil, it really depends on what kind of soil you’re dealing with to know, OK, this is the availability of water to my plants, which is actually what you really want to know.”
He expects to finish research and development by early 2018, after which a small run of the sensors will be manufactured. Of the $75,000 in funding he needs to finish up R&D and get from prototype to product, he has raised about $30,000, with more potential funding on the way. He plans to market his system, which is patent-pending, to landscape management companies for use around tree installations.
The big picture.
Along with applying for more grants, Lafian has started focusing on the entrepreneurial side of his idea as well. He joined Four Athens, a business start-up program in Athens, Georgia.
Lafian’s design has won a few competitions, but winning UGA’s Next Top Entrepreneur was what he called his “biggest prize to date.”
Lafian expects to finish research and development by early 2018, after which a small run of the sensors will be manufactured.
However, he says the recognition isn’t what motivates him; it’s the chance to create something new.
“Because nobody’s really done this before, so it’s exciting to every day have these new experiences and find out these new things that may be able to help these sensors work,” he says.
Lafian adds that he is really passionate about air and water quality, and food, which is motivating him.
“Without those three things, there is no life,” he says.“I’m kind of driven by the bigger picture. I always have been, and hopefully I can make a difference someday.”