Category Archives: business marketing tips

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.

5 Areas to Invest Your Marketing Dollars in 2017

Businessman with binoculars looking to future of marketingA progressive small business owner or manager always looks ahead, whether it’s to the next service your customers want, the methods of delivery, or the next way to be part of the community.  The same goes for marketing.  If you want to stay ahead in marketing your business, the end of the year (both fiscal and calendar) is a great time to look for the “next big thing” to invest your marketing budget.

To be clear, we’re not talking about fads.  Fad marketing comes and goes, making your investment a short-term investment.  No, we’re talking about long-term strategies that keep delivering dividends well into the future and you can integrate with your tried-and-true strategies (direct mail, advertising, etc.)

Optimized Website

If a new website is on your list of business marketing tasks for the New Year, add optimization to your list of considerations for the new site (in additional to functional and aesthetics).  An optimized site is built for the search engines, both in terms of structure and content.  An optimized website is built for an optimal user experience (both on desktop and mobile) with speed, relevance, images, and content playing a key role.

You can’t get an optimized website built by just anyone, so be selective about the individual or company you hire to build your website.  Some companies can give you a website that is beautiful, but difficult for search engines to index. One of our clients had first-hand experience with this phenomenon.  When it came time for them to build a new website, a friend promised to build them a beautiful and cheap site.  They took this friend up on their offer, and the result was disastrous. The website was beautiful, but the content and structure was so poor that they dropped in search engine results like a stone.  Take their story to heart; invest your dollars into an optimized website that search engines and your target audience notices.

SEO

Getting indexed by search engines is only half the battle.  If you want to get to the top of search engine results, it’s time to add search engine optimization to your list of marketing tools.  Specifically, we’ve seen businesses get excellent marketing results from local SEO which targets customers within a 10, 20, or 50 mile radius from their location (or locations).  Local SEO also works within a short amount of time.

One of our clients in southeastern Wisconsin saw their website traffic double in just four months because of search engine optimization. In 30 days, their unique visits increased 122% and hit an impressive increase of 200%. Remember that website traffic is just a number unless you can convert those visits to customer interest. Our client receives significantly more form submissions every week from potential customers thanks to SEO, with 60% of those visits stemming from their search engine optimization package.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a marketing win on two different fronts: for your audience and search engines.  Content marketing is the process of creating content to your website.  We’ve seen significant results for businesses that use a blog for this purpose.  With a strategic plan and regular posts, content marketing creates more pages to be indexed by search engines.  More pages equals better search engine results, and higher rankings on search engine results pages.

More importantly, content marketing delivers value to your customers and potential customers—if you promote it (i.e. on social media, in emails, more ideas here).  Relevant and regular content answers your customers’ questions and assists them with their problems, building trust and driving them toward a sale.

If you’re considering content marketing, start with a calendar and a plan.  Regularly posted content is important to achieve results, so make sure your calendar is ‘doable’ or enlist the help of a content marketing firm that can execute—or hire a company to take on the planning and execution with your input (here’s how to weed out a quality candidate).

Social Media Marketing

Social media is all the rage, but it’s a marketing tool that’s not going away any time soon.  With the number of social media users steadily increasing, social media is a unique opportunity to connect with your customers and potential customers—and to drive sales.  Like content marketing, social media is an opportunity for your business to build trust.

You can do that by choosing a social media site (or sites) that fits the demographic of the audience you want to reach, and adding social media posts to your list marketing calendar.  Remember, that social media is not a billboard; it’s a way to connect.  To that end, post content that builds trust and sells—with a majority of it aimed at entertaining (when appropriate) and building trust. (More ‘must haves’ of a solid social media presence here.)

Social media takes time, so make sure you don’t get in over your head on multiple social media sites that you don’t have time for (automated sites like Hootsuite and Buffer can help).  Tailor your posts to each individual social media site for best results; social media users can see when you don’t know what you’re doing.  If you don’t feel like you know what you’re doing, trust your social media marketing to experts that do.

Email Marketing

Email marketing sounds so simple; get a list of emails and send out an email asking your customers to buy your products.  In reality, email marketing is a marathon of regular, relevant emails —and a marathon that yields long-term results.  Include your emails strategically in your marketing plan, and make sure you send your emails to recipients who want to receive it.

Email marketing drives your customers back to your website (which should be built for an awesome experience), to your social media pages, or to your content to build trust.  Emails can be automated and sent out by automated programs, or you can trust your emails to marketing firms that have the experience and expertise to draft attention-grabbing emails.  We’ve seen statistics that say the return on investment can be as high as 400% with email marketing, making email marketing one of the premiere areas to invest your budget dollars.