Monthly Archives: September 2019

customers on smart phone and laptop looking for local businesses

7 Local SEO Myths to IGNORE

Local SEO can get a business more customers and sales. Local SEO myths don’t.

These online marketing statements sound black-and-white, but reality is not always that simple. As business owners try to sift through information about local search engine optimization (SEO), it’s easy to get caught up in the truths and untruths. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the latter; those outrageous local SEO myths that stand between businesses and results.

Let’s start with the worst local SEO myth.

SEO is junk.

This is an online marketing myth that has been around for a long time (and honestly needs to go away). It has its roots when black-hat search engine optimization tactics stopped working and results were not immediately obvious.

Recent search engine optimization statistics prove the opposite to be true. SEO is here to stay, and local SEO is a proven way for local businesses to be found online. These online marketing tactics utilize the latest online trends to build trust online. In local SEO, the goal of these tactics is to get a business found in online searches for local businesses and solutions.

All a company needs to attract Google’s attention is an optimized website.

A website built and created for readers and search engines is only one part of a strong optimized online presence—but only a part. In addition to a website, businesses should also utilize marketing tactics that meet their goals. A local business should also complete a Google My Business listing, maintain a strong social media presence, request and monitor reviews, and employ other online marketing tactics (use this full checklist of local SEO tactics) that target customers and search engines. (Find out more about how reviews play a HUGE part in getting a company found online.)

Adding keywords and cities throughout a website makes it rank better in local searches.

To be clear, the term “optimized” does not imply that a website should be loaded with keywords, local cities, and the business address. To the contrary, a website stuffed with keywords is actually a black-hat on-site SEO tactic that earn a Google penalty. In addition, loading every page with cities and location information can deter potential customers and make a business look like amateurs. Instead, businesses should build an optimized website utilizing the latest online trends and SEO tactics (or contact SEO professionals that can).

Google My Business listings are optional.

This local SEO myth is partially true. Google My Business (GMB) listings are completely optional. Business may even still get high rankings without a GMB listing. The key word is “may.” However, for a business serious about attracting local customers, verifying and completing a GMB listing is an essential part of a strong local SEO presence. A completed GMB listing guarantees that accurate information is used in search engine listings; to be clear, however, not all the information included may show up in listings, though customers have access to the filled-out information.

A bigger service area on Google My Business yields bigger results.

Many businesses are under the impression that if they designate a large service area in Google My Business, they get ranked in all the cities within the service area. The truth is that potential customers can see the service area and see how far a business travels, but the information does not guarantee high rankings in search results in all the cities within the service area.

Content is only for big businesses.

The one tactic that has continually proven to be an important part of a strong SEO presence is high-quality content (even through all the Google algorithm updates)—and it’s not just a tactic for large businesses. High-quality, optimized content produced on a regular basis is well within small businesses’ reach and their budget. Content marketing also comes with other benefits because content can be used for other promotional purposes. To get high-quality website content, businesses should designate the task to a marketing employee or outsource the effort to professionals with a proven track record.

There is nothing companies can do about reviews.

Negative and positive reviews are not—entirely—a random occurrence, though positive reviews on review sites are an important part of local SEO.  Though businesses cannot control when customers post, asking for and responding to reviews is an effort that can managed on a daily basis.

Because positive reviews are an important part of building trust online, businesses should evaluate their daily interactions with customers for chances to ask satisfied customers for reviews. This can be done by sales personnel at a follow-up meeting or during the checkout process. When reviews are posted, businesses should monitor social media sites and review sites to ensure that all reviews receive a response and customers are satisfied with their service.

hands on laptop sending business email as part of email marketing campaign

8 (Easy) Ways to Build a Solid Email List

When it comes to building email lists, we feel like (some) companies are missing the mark. There are so many missed opportunities and misconceptions that can stand in the way of results.

To be clear, there are a lot of results to be had. This list of email marketing benefits from Business2Community spells out the most compelling reasons, including building brand awareness and generating more website traffic and sales.

It should be noted that none of those results are reachable without building a solid email list and producing relevant emails. The basis of every solid e-mail list is a list of recipients that want to receive communications from the business and emails with information they want to receive. Here’s how to get started on the first part of the process: building an e-mail list that gets results.

 How to Build a Solid Email List

Don’t buy or rent e-mail lists.

The first, and biggest, part of gathering emails for marketing purposes is a stern “don’t.” As tempting as it may be, don’t buy or rent email lists. This unfortunately all-to-common practice can lead to wasted efforts and incredibly low results.

Put simply, if the people behind those e-mail lists don’t want to receive e-mails from a business, they’re not going to open the e-mail. This leads to a higher bounce rate and lower open and click-through rate, which can get businesses tagged as spammers without generating any (or few) sales.

Ask in sales meeting, tradeshows, and at the register.

The biggest missed opportunities for e-mail addresses come during daily interactions: in sales meetings, trade show interactions, and during in-person checkouts. This is a prime reason why every employee should be included in the effort to request e-mails (and ask for online reviews).

The exact method of asking is different for every business, which is why identifying opportunities involves an overall evaluation of all business practices. For businesses that ship products, marketing materials asking for e-mails can be included. If the sales process is online, a follow-up email can be sent thanking them for their business and asking if they would like to communicate further.

If a sales team is involved, there are several chances for these asks: during follow-up visits and interactions. Even technicians can collect e-mails and ask for reviews when the service is delivered. Both of these efforts can be useful for marketing purposes and improving a business’ local SEO. (For more information on the pros, contact local SEO experts.)  

Create a social media ad.

Social media is an essential part of every business marketing effort and another way to boost a business email list. Effective social media ads are run on social media sites that reach the target audience (more on how to choose the right social media site here) and are targeted (via interests, demographics, or location) to ensure that a relevant audience is being reached. These ads may include incentives for compliance, such as a discount for e-mail list sign-up or an offer that the viewers can’t refuse.

Make e-mail sign-up part of the check-out process.

For e-commerce websites, an e-mail sign-up is a logical part of the buying process. The exact process of the e-mail sign-up should be easy and reasonable. Long forms and indirect links can weaken the resolve of even the most dedicated user.

Directing users to the e-mail process should be just as clear-cut. The ask can be made via a box included in the purchasing process or via a follow-up e-mail after the purchase. If repeat sales or retaining customers is a campaign goal, the follow-up can include an incentive for another purchase (i.e. percentage off on next purchase, discount on certain item, etc.)

Make followers aware of the perks of e-mails in a social media post.

Social media is a great way to spread the word about the benefits of joining an e-mail list. This is a business’ chance to (occasionally) let users know what they’re missing out on (exclusive e-mail offers) and direct them to the e-mail sign-up page. Social media posts about the e-mail list should be included in a regular social media plan with relevant topics.

Add the request to promotional materials.

The request for e-mails can extend beyond social media and in-person asks. The ask for e-mails should be included on promotional materials strategically produced for the targeted audience. As with online, the request should make the process easy for the recipient. QR codes (which are easy to scan with a mobile device) and URLs to the sign-up page are both easy and effective. The preferred method can be included on brochures, post cards, materials included in shipments, and trade show packets.

Add a pop-up with the ask to the business website.

Website pop-ups can be unpopular and incredibly effective for e-mail sign-ups. The pop-ups should utilize the best online marketing practices and give viewers a reason to want to click. These incentives could include a discount for e-mail sign-up or valuable insider tips that viewers only receive for taking action.

Include the request on the business blog.

Content marketing is a great way to bolster a website’s search engine rankings, offer customers valuable and relevant tips, ask for engagement on social media, and request e-mail sign-ups. The request for e-mail sign-up can be included as a call-to-action in the content, in blog pop-ups, or in clickable images on the blog. These clickable images can include, “for more information, subscribe…” or “to get more great tips, sign-up…”

Tips for Effective Email Sign-Ups

  • Make it easy for users to sign-up (no long forms!)
  • Give users an incentive to sign-up.
  • Make the sign-up process secure.
  • Include the ask for e-mail sign-up in business standard operating procedures.
  • Ask employees to spread the word about the business email list on social media, in e-mails, and in e-mail signatures.

Ideas for Engaging E-mail Content

  • Blog posts relevant to the season or recipient (from the company or from other industry leaders)
  • Sales/discounts/offers (including exclusive offers that make the recipient feel like part of a loyal club)
  • Useful tips
  • Communications from business leaders
  • Requests for donations
  • Daily points of interest
  • Photos and videos relevant to the audience