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.
I’m not great at predicting the future, but there is one thing I can virtually guarantee: when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, millions of Americans will have given themselves resolutions to stick to in 2016.
Sadly, numerous studies have shown that more than nine out of ten people who make New Year’s resolutions won’t stick to them for more than a few days (if that). Here’s why most resolutions fail, and what you can do about it:
Many New Year’s resolutions aren’t realistic – The classic example is a severely overweight person who resolves to run a marathon within a few months. That’s not a bad goal, but it isn’t realistic for the timeframe. It’s better to set small targets and hit them than it is to make grandiose plans and fail to even get started.
Every goal needs a plan – A New Year’s resolution can be a great thing, but it’s only valuable if you have a plan to back it up. Decide in advance how you’re going to achieve your goal, including as many specific steps as you possibly can.
To get something, you have to give something – To make time for something new, you’ll probably have to give up an existing habit. For example, learning to cook could mean forsaking some of your favorite television shows. Recognize this in advance and decide which trade-offs you can live with.
Commit to only one new resolution – Although you can change a few things in your life at the same time, it’s generally easier to adopt one new habit or skill and focus on it. If you can, give yourself one big resolution to stick to, and then put all of your energy and enthusiasm behind it.
There are many, many reasons you should turn to a professional when you need a new website for your business. But, given that there are part-timers, overseas firms, and even do-it-yourself web templates out there, lots of business owners are tempted to try to save a little extra time and money. Who could blame them?
Even though it’s always nice to shave a little bit off your budget, I would still advise you to hire a professional web designer to get what you need. There’s a very easy way to understand why: Most potential customers are going to decide whether to stay on your website or not within a few seconds.
Those seconds can make or break your company. Professional web designers know how to impress buyers, establish your credibility, and code your pages in a way that ensures they will load quickly and consistently. Miss out on any of those pieces, and your website isn’t making you money; it’s costing you money.
No one wants to spend any more than they have to on marketing, but professional web design could turn out to be the best investment you make.
I love sending email newsletters. One thing I hate about it, though, is getting a report afterward and seeing that one of my subscribers has decided to take themselves off my list. That doesn’t just tell me they weren’t interested in reading what I had sent, but also that they are far, far less likely to become customers in the future.
There isn’t much you can do about the occasional unsubscribe, but if you seem to be getting more of them than usual, consider breaking your list into several parts.
Often, people choose to stop reading and receiving your email newsletters because they don’t seem relevant enough. That can easily happen if you are targeting a very large audience with a general message. All the sudden, what you’re sending them doesn’t seem to apply very specifically.
If you can change things up and put certain types of subscribers into smaller lists, it becomes easier to target them with the right messages. And then, just like that, your unsubscribe problem disappears!
Last month I gave a popular presentation on Facebook for SCORE Peoria. I was interviewed on Peoria’s Good Company television show regarding Facebook.
It’s fun to talk to Mark and Gretchen. They did their homework and asked some good questions. Next year, SCORE had decided to do 2 seminars on Facebook, one for beginners and one a little more advanced. I’ll be presenting both. Keep an eye out for my new Ebook on Facebook coming in 2017.