Category Archives: business marketing ideas

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.

Marketing that Can Be Done in an Hour (or Less)

company manager with an hour for marketing businessGot a few minutes to spare? Use the time and these ideas to market your business and improve your bottom line. But like all great ideas, they come with a disclaimer: marketing your business is more than just a one-time effort.

Effective marketing needs to be continually fueled and maintained. But we won’t waste any more of your time with a lecture; time is precious, especially when your business to-do list keeps growing. We can give you a list of marketing tactics that take an hour to get started AND a continual effort to keep getting results.

Optimizing your website

Get started: Build or update your website with optimized content. Add optimized headlines, images and videos with optimized alt tags, and content that search engines and your audience appreciate; don’t “over-optimize” and make it unattractive to your audience—all that does is increase your website bounce rate and decrease conversions. If all of these terms sound like a foreign language, contact an optimization company that gets results for other businesses—and can provide solid data to demonstrate results. Optimization can be especially valuable for companies that want to reach local customers in local communities around a headquarters or retail location.

Keep it going: Add optimized content to your website through a blog. Regularly produce content, videos, and images that follow your sales calendar. Remember just because you’re following your sales calendar doesn’t mean you need to produce content that is entirely about selling your business. Write about topics that provide value to your current and potential customers. Use this list of content marketing ideas for inspiration. Don’t forget that your content is being produced to convert your customers; include links back to your website, search-optimized pages, and social media channels so your customers have an easy way to buy and ask questions. Publish your content on a regular basis (or assign the task to a content marketing agency or staff member). Fresh content is a major factor in how your website performs on search engines; use the content on social media and in future e-mails as well.

Social media

Get started: Don’t jump onto any random social media site (or even just choose your favorite). Take a few minutes to decide who your target audience is and research social media sites to decide what site (or sites) is right for your business (use this graphic with key statistics about the top social media sites to start). Don’t get in over your head. Regular social media posting is a must to get results; don’t choose too many social media sites that you don’t have time to maintain. Once you’ve made your final decision about the right social media site and number of sites you have time for, use this article to set up a social media profile for your business.

Keep it going: Make a concerted effort to take photos and videos that your audience responds to. In addition to sharing your content, don’t be afraid to share interesting articles and videos, notices of upcoming events (i.e. grand openings, tradeshows, open houses, etc.), pictures of your employees providing service (with their permission), and interesting things you see on the job.  Keep everything you share somewhat professional; you don’t want to give your business a black eye by making one of these social media marketing mistakes. Respond immediately to any questions that come in through social media. If you don’t have time to post every day, use social media scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Buffer to automatically schedule posts at times when your audience is online.

Send out e-mails

Get started: Start building an email list of customers and potential customers, with their permission. Ask for e-mail addresses at every opportunity: during in-person contacts, on your website and blog, and on social media (other ideas for building an e-mail list here). Use an e-mail service (i.e. Constant Contact or Mail Chimp) to create an e-mail template that has the same look as other marketing materials. Include content and discounts that your audience wants to read. Make your customers want to open the e-mail by creating an attention-grabbing headline.

Keep it going: Send out e-mails on a regular basis; don’t send out too many e-mails so you annoy your customers and they unsubscribe. To save on time, use content produced for your blog and automatically schedule the e-mails so you don’t have to be available to hit the send button. Include links to your social media profiles, website, and blog for future engagement opportunities. If you find yourself squeezed for time, contact a marketing company and provide them with information for the e-mail so you don’t miss an opportunity.

To maintain your marketing momentum, create a written marketing plan that can help you efficiently and strategically execute these marketing tactics. Write down your goal and target audience, and keep it in mind as you draft a marketing plan that follows your business sales cycle. For example, if you are a caterer, look back at your sales for the past year to dictate your marketing plan for next year.  Your sales team or customer service representatives would be an excellent source for this information; after all, they are interacting with your potential and existing customers on a regular basis.  An example would look like:

December-March Booking weddings (because of high engagement rate)

April-June Booking company picnics

July-August Booking weddings

September-November Booking holiday parties

This calendar is very simplified, but you can see how your sales cycle would drive your marketing plan.  Next, list the specific tactics you plan to use (i.e. once a month customer email, weekly blog post, daily social media post, etc.), deadline, and party responsible to execute the tactic. Be flexible with your plan and honest about your time demands. When time gets tight, don’t hesitate to bring in the experts and reallocate your hour (every week or month) to give them direction (i.e. images, customer questions, etc.) and get the results.