Local search engine optimization – which is the art and science of using Google to find buyers in your neighborhood – is more popular, and more powerful, than ever before. But business owners who haven’t taken advantage of this trend in the past sometimes ask: What makes it so great?
The short answer is that local SEO is like having a large Yellow Pages ad on the internet, but with a few key differences…
Local Search Visibility Doesn’t Require a Yearly Fee – add some geographic keywords to your website once, and you can keep getting customers forever.
Your Website Can Stay Updated – business owners old enough to remember Yellow Pages listings can recall how frustrating it was to deal with a misprint, or outdated contact information.
Customers Can Get More Information Online – print ads were just ads. On the web, though, your customers can see where you’re located, exactly what your business offers, and what other buyers have said about your products and services.
Put these all together, and you have an incredibly powerful and efficient marketing tool that can help you improve your bottom line almost instantly!
If you’ve been on the major social media site today (and who hasn’t?), there’s a pretty good chance that you seen at least half a dozen cat pictures and memes. You probably saw dozens of ads too, but it’s the cats you remember, right? As a proud owner of two cats, Link and Chip, I have to look at the cuteness.
Why is it that cats work better than advertising on social media… and what can marketers learn from the difference?
The short answer is that cats (and babies, puppies, videos of people falling down, etc.) just “work” on social media sites because people log on to them to have fun. They are checking into Facebook and Twitter because they want to be entertained, not be bombarded with marketing.
So if your marketing is going to be effective on social media, you better embrace your lighter side and offer something fun. In fact, you might want to flip the traditional script for advertising and begin with entertainment, and then lead back to your website rather than trying to make an immediate sales pitch.
That’s a hard adjustment for a lot of online advertisers to make, but it’s the only way to make traction on social media. If you don’t believe us, we’ve got the viral cat pictures to prove it.
More often than not, the hardest part about developing a blog post is coming up with the original topic or inspiration. Writer’s block is a real thing, especially when writing is just one of many things you have to do in a day and you’re feeling pressure to come up with something great.
Because I want to help you ensure that you’ll never run out of blog topics again, I’m going to give you a quick two-step process for generating ideas…
First, Choose a Subject
Choosing a general topic for your blog can be easier than you think. Consider taking some inspiration from one of the following:
- Frequently asked questions about your business or industry
- Current concerns that are affecting your customers
- New products, laws, or tax situations
- Fun facts that you’ve learned about your company or business
- Items that would be of interest to someone in your area, or the market in which you operate
These are just a few examples, but the point is to start with something that’s timely and interesting to your target audience. If there is a topic or subject you think your customers would want to know about, start building your post around that.
Then, Create a Sizzling Title
Have you ever been going through a grocery store checkout line and noticed just how spicy the titles on the magazines are? That’s for good reason: they want you to become interested enough to impulse-buy the publication on sale.
You might not be “selling” your blog posts, but you are trying to get readers to “buy” with their attention. So, you should follow the same kinds of tricks. You want your blog posts to sound like fun, easily-readable chunks of ideas. Here are a few idea-starters to get you going:
- 7 Tips for…
- Never Do (fill in the blank) Again!
- What You Really Need to Know About (fill in the blank)
- How To Do (fill in the blank) Better Than Ever Before
You get the idea. Each of these seems like a fun, easy guide to improving your life or business. And best of all? When you come up with a great title, it can help inspire you to write a better blog post. In fact, you might even flip things around and come up with a title first, and fill a post around that.
These two tips are easy to follow, but they can make all the difference when you’re trying to generate weekly blog content. Follow them, and you’ll never run out of inspiration again!
There are a lot of ways to compare different business web designers. You could look at their respective samples and see which ones you like. Or, you could compare fees and see who charges less. You might even sit down to have a consultation with each one to see which web designer has a philosophy that’s closest to your own.
Which of these makes the most sense? I recommend you do all of them, and then follow up by taking a step most potential clients never do: talk to someone else your web designer has worked with.
This person will be able to tell you whether they were treated fairly, what the level of service was like, and how much more (or less) profitable they’ve been as a result of the designer’s work. They’ll tell you what it’s like to deal with the company after you’ve written a deposit check, which is the real test of value.
If you want to know which web designer to use, speak to someone who has been in your shoes and made the choice. They’ll tell you everything you need to know.
Online business directory listings were once a hot topic in the world of internet marketing and search engine optimization. By creating profiles and entering your information, you could earn valuable backlinks that would help you move to the top of Google’s listings for a given search phrase.
Many algorithm adjustments later, those backlinks don’t have SEO value any longer. But you should still be using online business directories. And, you should take the time to ensure your listings are consistent and up to date.
There are two good reasons for this. The first is that customers may actually find you on these websites. Or, they may Google your company’s name and come across one of those listings. Either way, you want them to find the right data.
The other reason is that Google uses multiple sources of information for the purposes of corroboration. So, if the contact phone number you have on each of your listings (as an example) is consistent, then Google is more likely to consider you trustworthy and display that information for customers.
Online business directories might not be as prominent as they once were, but consistent and up-to-date listings can still help you win new customers.
Although I’ve become something of an Illinois expert in the field of online reputation management, I find that lots of business owners, self-employed people, and professionals don’t really understand the term. Is it something you should care about, especially if you don’t spend a lot of time online?
It absolutely is, and I can give you a very simple explanation that shows why. At the heart of things, online reputation management is the sum of what people read and see about you on the internet. That matters because potential customers, referrals, employees, and even vendors are all going to look you up on Google and Facebook before they ever decide to work with you.
If your online reputation is sterling, then they aren’t going to have any doubts or reservations. But if they are surprised by negative reviews or inaccurate details, then it’s going to take away an opportunity that you probably didn’t even know about.
Online reputation management is all about generating positive word-of-mouth online. That’s going to affect your business and career in a big way, whether you’re aware of it or not.
If you want to start a lively discussion among a group of business owners, start talking about internet marketing statistics. Friends and strangers alike will gladly tell you where their pages rank on search engines, how many visitors they are receiving, and the number of email subscribers they’ve been able to gather.
People love these kinds of statistics, and for good reason. They are easy to see and understand. But, they also tend to miss the bigger picture.
Internet marketing isn’t about generating views, getting likes, or even convincing Google to take notice of your website. Instead, it’s about knowing who your best potential customers are, getting them to come to your website, and then turning those visits into new relationships. Everything else that happens along the way is only a step or an indicator. If you get too attached to any of them, you’re bound to lose the forest for the trees.
Almost everyone misses the point of internet marketing, but that’s only because the point is so easy to miss when you’re staring at numbers, charts, and other easy-to-read metrics. Have fun looking at the reports you get from your web analytics package. Don’t forget about your after results, though, and gear your efforts toward achieving them more consistently with each new campaign or activity.
Often, when new clients come to us for web design and internet marketing, one of their first priorities is to improve their Google search engine ranking. They may be in a hurry to add new content, generate fresh inbound links, and optimize the keywords on their pages.
All of these can be good ideas, but there is another step that should come first: auditing a website to see where it currently ranks, and to look at it through Google’s eyes.
Doing so can often yield interesting insights. It may lead us to understand that minor tweaks are needed instead of major changes, or that customers are flocking to a competitor using different keywords than a business owner expected. A client may even find that they have structural issues on their website that need to be repaired before new content can make a difference.
This is all a way of saying that gathering information is the first step toward generating a plan of action. If you want to improve your search visibility, begin with a comprehensive SEO audit from a team that knows what they are doing.
The Internet is full of “must-do” lists when it comes to web design and Internet marketing. Click through popular blogs, our own included, and you’ll find many different tips on what you have to try, use, or manage if you want to find customers over the Internet.
Knowing which mistakes to avoid is just as important as realizing which best practices you have to follow, however. For that reason, we’d like to point out five big Internet marketing mistakes that are incredibly easy to make:
- Pestering your customers. Email marketing is incredibly valuable, but lots of companies use it to simply badger their customers week after week (or even several times per week) with one offer after another. Be sure to mix up your sales pitches with some informative articles and ideas, so your customers don’t feel like you’re just contacting them when you want something.
- Sounding just like your competitors. A lot of business owners and managers are at a loss when it comes to describing or differentiating their companies, so they adopt the approach to either copy their competitors or come up with web content that is similar to what they’ve seen. The end result, though, is a set of pages that doesn’t set a business apart from the competition.
- Promoting too many sales or discounts. When you’re constantly having sales and offering discounts, you don’t just give your business a short-term revenue boost – you also teach your customers that they can get your products or services for less if they are willing to wait long enough. In other words, discounting too much or too often can make it virtually impossible for you to find customers for your normal prices.
- Not building trust. Today’s consumers have a lot of skepticism when it comes to what they read and see on the Internet. That’s why it’s up to you to do everything you can to build trust and credibility on your website. Show them that their transactions are safe, that you’ve been in business for a long time, and that other customers are willing to vouch for you. That brings us to…
- Ignoring online reviews. The online reviews your company has are your most important marketing tool, because they essentially amount to word-of-mouth advertising. Do everything you can to encourage buyers to leave good reviews for your business, and take immediate action to clean things up if the feedback you get is less than stellar.
Are you working against your own Internet marketing success by making these common mistakes? If so, the first step is realizing that they’re holding you back and deciding to be smarter in the future. The second step is to call us today and let us show you how we can make your website more effective and profitable at the same time.
You don’t have to be a professional writer to come up with great blog posts week after week. You just have to follow this tried-and-true formula for content marketing success:
Start with a timely topic – If you can tie your blog to a current trend or news topic, you’ll have an easier time catching attention and piquing the interest of readers.
Create an outline – Writing is hard when you’re starting from scratch, but it gets a lot easier when you have a rough outline in place. Don’t worry about following the rules you learned in high school, just put a few ideas down as a starting point.
Do some writing – The same applies to actually writing your blog posts. Set aside a little time and just let your thoughts out. Don’t edit yourself in the beginning — just worry about listing your main points and making them is easy to understand as possible.
Clean up your blog post – Eventually, you’ll come up with something that’s starting to look like a great post. Trim redundant ideas, re-word paragraphs that seem unclear, and organize your content in a straightforward way. If you really want to make a great impression, enlist the help of someone else who can proofread your post before it goes live and point out any troublesome sentences or sections.
Give it a great title – Let readers know what they’ll learn from reading your post, and try to get them interested in your ideas. Blog post titles with “how-to” or “five tips for…” are always popular, so feel free to use those as a starting point for your own articles.
Add an image and links – You might be done writing, but your blog still needs a couple of extra touches. Consider adding an image to the words (or better yet, a bit of stock video) to help it stand out. Also, look for places in your blog where you can link back to your website or social profiles.
Keep an ongoing list of blog post ideas – The best blog ideas usually come to you when you aren’t writing. Keep a notebook or computer file with all of your ideas and inspirations so you can come back to them later.
Blogging, like most Internet marketing activities, gets a lot easier when you break things down into simple steps. So, follow this roadmap and start filling your blog with great content — it keeps readers coming back again and again.