02 Jun

Valuable Online Marketing Techniques for Local Businesses

Local businesses are always hungry for new customers, new revenues and increases in sales. For some, the margin between a very profitable and comfortable year and a tight, uncomfortable year can be just a few extra customers.

Obviously, all the standard marketing tactics and strategies still apply. You must have a great product and service, you have to have a good reputation and encourage word-of-mouth referrals, and you must have excellent customer service and provide an easy customer experience.

Hopefully all those things can be taken for granted. In this article we are going to talk about some of the other tactical approaches to local business marketing, specifically for generating online referrals. Hopefully these can provide you, your business or your clients’ business with an extra boost it takes to make this years a very profitable one!

#1 – Don’t Neglect Local Business Directories

For some this may come as less of a surprise, but don’t neglect local business directories for your online strategy. While many of them might seem like they don’t offer much, it is extremely important you can your business listed is as many of these as possible. For a few different reasons:

Firstly, you never know how much traffic these sites get, and how much of that traffic could be coming to you. Over the years I have written off some directories and ‘Yellow Page’ type sites, only to see referral traffic become a very significant source of customers to me and my clients properties. They are as legitimate of source of potential clients as Organic Traffic, PPC or any other form of advertising, so don’t right them off, at all.

Secondly, they provide a valuable form of branding for your site. When a potential client is researching for a purchasing decision, they will likely take to several different sites before coming to a final choice.

If they see your companies brand all over the place, that is an extremely positive signal to them, it brands you as an authority in the field. If they only see you once (even if you are ranked first page in Google), they are less likely to think of you as a trusted authority and someone to do business with.

Finally, they can help you rank in search engines. It’s true, directories help you rank, especially for local terms. Being listed in local directories is a natural and almost universal aspect of real, trusted businesses, and that is what Google and other search engines are looking for. So give them what they want!

P.S.: almost all of them provide some sort of free listing, so you don’t need to pay anything, if you don’t want to.

Some directories to get listed in (just to get you started):

http://www.porch.com
http://www.thumbtack.com
http://www.yelp.com

#2 – Video Marketing

YouTube is of the top search engines in the world. It should always be in the conversation when talking about online marketing, but often times it is neglected. Many online marketers view youtube and video optimization as spammy or cheap, but in reality a local customer is not going to have that bias.

“Regular people” (i.e. not Marketers) see videos as just as trusted and valuable as any other search result. In fact, due to the added graphics that video results give in the search results, videos can often garner above average interaction rates. It’s a no brainer to make video marketing part of your strategy.

As an example, one local company, called Tri-State Delivery and Assembly, which provides (among other things) swing set installation services in the NY, NJ and CT area, uses a simple, and to the point video marketing method, see below:

If you notice, the title of the video and it’s description in Youtube are treated as any other marketing webpage. Provide some unique and valuable content, prominent calls to action and a descriptive, keyword-relevant title, and viola, you have yourself a perfect example of video marketing.

Keep in mind the video itself is only 30 seconds long, but it provides a perfect summary of the companies services and finishes with a display of the companies contact information. That’s all a customer really needs.

This is something that makes video marketing so powerful, short, to-the-point, and extremely visual in nature. Think of it like a television commercial, only better, because chances are your viewer is actually interested in your product.

3. Keep Social Profiles Up-to-date and Provide Exclusive Content

Social media is obviously a large part of online marketing, especially for local restaurants, bars and events. It is more relevant in some sectors than others, but all companies should have at least moderately active and up-to-date social accounts. It helps connect with customers and remain actively part of their daily lives.

This provides excellent branding impressions and maintains an audience base that can be leveraged at any point down the road. Following our example from above, Tri-State has a moderately active Facebook page, where it shares pictures of it’s latest installations and provides occasional reviews from happy customers. This is a perfect way to maintain a positive sentiment and continual awareness from your customer base.

One trick to increasing the perceived value of your social accounts is to provide your users/customers/followers/etc with exclusive content on the social account. For example, a local restaurant could offer a free drink coupon to it’s Facebook or Twitter followers. You can also incentivize sharing of your content and account by providing freebies to users who retweet, share or otherwise promote your social content.

Hopefully this has provided you with some insight and ideas about local online marketing. Following these basic rules (as well as the fundamental rules of a successful business) and you can find yourself bringing in extra revenue and ROI from your marketing efforts.

05 Oct

Avoiding the Wrong SEO Company

miami-seoOne of my biggest pet peeves as an SEO is that we don’t get a lot of respect from business owners. We are often considered scam artists because so many SEO agencies will take a client’s money and not deliver any results.

When I opened my SEO company in Miami (Webris), I made a vow to myself and my clients: always undercharge and always over deliver. This pact has led my agency to become one of the highest powered Miami SEO companies in the city.

This is a fear that I am particularly proud of, for a lot of reasons. The first being that when working with a client and getting them the results they want, they actually make more money. There is no better feeling as a business owner than delivering these types of results and seeing the look on a client’s face when they can pay their bills for another month.

The second is I work ridiculously hard. It’s Friday night at 1 am and I am still working on my craft (and I live in Miami, by the way, there is no shortage of fun things to do).

For these reasons I want to share a couple of tops for not getting burned by another Miami web design company or SEO company. I for one am tired of these scam artists ruining hard working businesses websites and taking their money. Here are my suggestions:

  1. Make a list of detailed questions and follow through with asking them. Don’t let them get off the hook easy. Ask about past results, ask about their approach to your campaign and ask them to show social proof that they can get the job done.
  2. Contact their references. Make sure they provide you a list of the companies they have worked with in the past. Ask for name, email and phone number – then ask to see the results of the work they did. Make sure you follow up with the references. Any good SEO company will have plenty of happy clients that will be more than willing to lend a good word on their behalf.
  3. Ask for documentation and case studies on their work. The best SEO companies will have plenty of documentation and data on their prior work. These types of documents can usually be found online and are easily accessible via their website.
  4. Browse their website and view their own internal SEO. Does their website rank for their target keywords? Everyone knows that SEO related terms are the hardest to rank for, but that means if they do rank, then they know what they are doing and can be trusted with your campaign. If they don’t they may be a sup par company.
  5. Check their social media presence. Any good SEO company will have a strong social media following. Also, check to see how many shares each of their posts get. Check to see how they are interacting with their fans, as this is a good indicator of customer service.
  6. Check to see if they have guest posted on other websites. One of the hardest parts about SEO is getting links from other quality domains. Any good SEO will need to be adept and getting these links. This can come from a variety of methods, and guest posting is arguably the most powerful. Check to see what kind of connections they have with other websites and see how they are getting links from them. This may be a good indicator of how they plan to build links to your website. If you are working with an SEO company, look for links on websites like Moz.com or Search Engine Journal.

In the SEO world, there are no guarantees. Google changes their algorithm almost daily, so keeping up with these changes makes for a tough living. That means their results may vary from client to client, depending on that client’s budget and at what point they came on board.

With that being said, there is a clear distinction between good SEO companies and bad ones. The list I laid out above should help you to figure out which is which.

If you would like to work with Webris, please follow this link: webris.org/contact

15 Sep

Building Local Citations for SEO

locsl citationsIn today’s competitive business world, recognition is a major factor if a business is to achieve success. This is the reason why most SEO campaigns will employ any applicable tactic that may lead to knowledge of the business among customers. One such way is through building local citations. This can simply be defined as the mentions (other than yours) of your business and the references to it across relevant and authoritative websites and portals, local directories or associations.

Citations are an important part of SEO and can make a huge difference in how your site ranks. Building citations will involve providing the business name, address/ZIP code, phone number (abbreviated as NAP) and any other supporting details such as hours of operation, directions, reviews and ratings among others. When creating a citation, emphasis should, however, be on three main factors as discussed below.

1. Business Name

This is the most important factor when it comes to good ranking in local SEO. Always make sure that your business name/title remains consistent across every data source in the web. This will tremendously help you establish trust in your existence. Inconsistency will on the other hand mean that Google and other search engines may view the different entities as separate businesses when indexing your business. A thorough keyword research can help you come up with a final and perfect name that will help you achieve maximum optimization.

2. PhysicalAddress

It is important to consider consistency in every detail provided for your citation purposes and physical address is no different. Be clear in the description of your physical location which should be the nearest Google idea city.

3. Phone Number

Search engines do not want to find several inconsistent phone numbers, neither do local directories. Again, be consistent on this. It is highly recommended to creating the number as an image instead of an indexable HTML text.

There are several options of managing citation building and the most common ones include use of software, seeking consultation services or doing it yourself.

Where to get citations

As mentioned earlier, the mainstream sources of citation are directories and relevant and authoritative websites. But you will find these can be quite limiting and you may not rely fully on them for substantial success in your SEO endeavors. So, what alternatives sources are there to help compliment the same?

  • Image and video descriptions
  • Profile pages
  • Forum signatures
  • Press releases
  • Guest posts
  • Social media and local blogs
  • Newspapers

Benefits of citations

  • It helps rank your business better. Citations along with reviews and links are a major parameter that Google uses in deciding their ranking order. The mentions are much appreciated if found on websites which are relevant in terms of content and/or location
  • Google also uses the citations in verifying the accuracy of the details provided in the business listing such as the phone number and address. This will enhance trust and ultimately ensure great strides in the business rank improvement.
  • Business mentions through citations from various fronts and sites only means more customer leads which will be definitely counts in your sales and business at large.

Conclusion

Always make sure to list your business in as many directories as possible but never allow to settle there. Look for other unconventional avenues such as guest blog posting while also keeping a close eye on the where your competitors have citations. Always be consistent in providing your details.

11 Sep

Tips How to Set up your Google Plus page for SEO

designThere are more than 300 million people who use Google Plus actively as a social network. 70% of businesses have a presence on Google Plus and it offers many great features like Twitter and Facebook. It is tied into Google’s search engine directly and also is able to boost your web presence rank. Here are some tips on how to set up your Google Plus page for SEO:

1. Fill out your information

Google Plus is set up to optimize the search engine results of Google, unlike other social networks. To make this work well, you are required to fill out your pages and profile completely.

2. Add links

You are permitted by Google Plus to add links in many places and hence use them to link to your website’s content including specific pages where you want to send leads.

3. Focus on keywords

Be sure to include keywords when you are filling your profile. Think about the keywords that are used by your customers, as well as those keywords that you want to rank high on. This is very essential when you write the introduction in the About section of Google Plus, since initially Google draws all its information from here.

4. Make use of hover text

Hover text allows you to control what one sees when he holds the mouse over his business name in Google Plus. An important use of the small space is to display the tagline of your business. Since it is possible for you to see only the initial five words in the hover card, you must make them count.

5. Use more hashtags

Hashtags are very useful because Google Plus provides an open posting environment which is almost similar to Twitter. See what’s under “What’s Hot” and start your own conversation using trending hashtags. Apart from helping you within Google Plus network, hashtags also appear in Google searches.

6. Promote yourself everywhere

You must reach out to your customers, clients and leads, in addition to making contacts with your associates. You should announce your new Google Plus account in your emails and also create a link to the email footer and other social media websites. Also you can place a badge on the site, which will permit people to circle you with no need to go to Google Plus. You might ask the design team of your marketing agency to make a customized badge for you that matches with your brand.

7. Encourage feedback

The +1 button not only allows other people to effortlessly share links, pages and content, but it also helps you to increase your SEO. You should get the up-to-date +1 button code and install it on your homepage, blog posts and individual pages.

8. Update content frequently

In order to be successful with Google Plus, you are required to post content that your followers care for. You must keep your audience updated with your company’s news. Also you should share the most recent blog entries, post videos and pictures, offer useful tips and tricks and offer special deals meant for your Google Plus followers only.

9. Interact with your followers

Google Plus is essentially a social network. Therefore, you must interact with your audience in addition to advertising your business and posting content. You should respond to questions, comments and concerns, take general interest in your clients, share other people’s contents that are related to your followers and prove them that you are also a human just like them.

Conclusion

Since Google Plus has become one of the most used social networks on the Internet, don’t waste time to utilize it to optimize your SEO. Don’t forget that it takes time to succeed and you must be patient if you do not see an instant jump in your followers and your site’s SEO. If you remain committed, you are sure to succeed.