Are Your Online Marketing Efforts Getting Your Local Business The Customers It Deserves?
You know your business inside out but you feel that online marketing is like trying to navigate a maze while blindfolded. It’s a new world to you so here are a few pointers.
Online Marketing 101 For Local Businesses
You need a presence near the top of page 1 of Google to get the phones ringing more often. The image below was the result of a study done by Cornell University. The red, orange and yellows indicate where Google search engine users were looking most.
This clearly shows that the first four results on the page get approximately 90% of the eyeballs and that translates into more clicks.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is necessary and it will help you get one of the coveted spots over time. It is a long term time and financial commitment to get one of the prized spots then hold it against all challengers.
Local businesses with Google Places listing often get this prime real estate above your website.
Did you know claiming your Google Places listing is free and that it can and should be SEO optimized by a professional?
A professional knows how to properly name the 10 images you are allowed and they also know additional sites to share the images on to give your Places page more authority.
You are allowed 5 videos on your Google Places page and you should use 5 videos that are optimized and placed on video sharing sites that may help both your Places page and website.
Up to 5 offers can be placed on the page and these often have the potential to be optimized for search.
You need to be listed in other directories online and the number of directories your business can be found in needs to slowly and steadily increase.
Customer reviews on your Google Places page are a must and you need a steady supply of real and honest reviews from your customers. You also need reviews on the various business directory sites as well as a system to monitor them.
A Mobile Friendly Website
The printed Yellow Pages is being discontinued and they are being replaced by the smartphone or web connected cellphones.
If your business doesn’t have a mobile friendly website, it is unlikely to be found by your customers in the near future.
Google has clearly stated that websites that have a mobile friendly version of their site get a higher ranking placement when mobile searches are conducted.
Studies have proven that consumers use their phones to find coupons, to find product reviews and recommendations on social sites while they are shopping.
The smartphone isn’t just about calling your business or getting directions. It’s the focal point for many buyers.
Google and Bing are including social signals in determining how well your site will rank. This means you need testimonials, interaction on your site by visitors, they need to stay on your site as long as possible and they need ways to share the pages on your site with their friends on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and other social sites.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is still important but it isn’t as complicated as some like to make you think it is. The quality of your content is very important and the freshness of that content is also important.
Linking to other articles on your site using appropriate anchor text is important when it makes sense to link to them.
The search engines like to see links out to authority sites when appropriate. They also like to see sites use images, audios and video to engage their visitors.
Your goal is to get the phone ringing and new customers walking in the door as quickly as possible.
If you wish to accomplish that without online paid advertising that will cease to exist the minute you stop paying for the ads, you may want to start with Google Places.
Google Places done right also carries a monthly fee but you get much more than an ad targeting one keyword. Your optimized Places listing presents:
- A page that can, potentially, be placed in multiple related categories.
- A page that has a map so your customers can find you.
- A page with you company name, address, phone, website URL and other details.
- A page where you can use images and video to warm up your prospects.
- A page where customers can leave reviews about your business.
- A page that can help get your phone ringing and new customers coming in the door.
If you do a search on Google for the primary keyword you are targeting in your city, you may find the first 3 to 7 spots are occupied by Google Places listings.
Since 90% of small businesses either hasn’t claimed their Places page or it isn’t optimized and maintained by a professional that understands SEO, it is usually easy to take one of the first 3-4 spots in 6 months or less. (Google only checks the pages every 4-6 weeks so the timeframe can vary widely.)
Your page may be ranked by Google even if you haven’t claimed it or optimized it so it can be a lead generation machine. Visit Places Local Ranking Report now to see how you stack up against your competitors.
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