The Truth About Your Local Online Presence – Can You Handle It?
When it comes to your local Online presence - can you handle the truth?
Local Business owners CAN and SHOULD understand the truth about their online visibility. They need to be visible, they need to be found, and need to generate new sales/increase clients; so let’s cut to the chase…
A couple of years back I posted an article about the complexities of Internet marketing for local businesses. I discussed the challenges and frustrations business owners face, and the benefits of working with a “trusted adviser” or third party.
More recently, I wrote about the increasing fragmentation, and the proliferation of questionable sales practices being used within the “local search” industry. Local online marketing can be dangerous!
Unfortunately, many of these issues still exist – but they’re some relatively simple things every business owner needs to be aware of if they want to get online, get found, and increase sales/clients.
Let’s face the facts -they’re countless reasons local businesses fail. But if you focus on what I believe are the most critical, controllable factors with the online piece of the puzzle, you’ll be off to a good start.
Here’s the truth. Hope you can handle it…
- Invest in a well-built website – this is your foundation for everything going forward! You’ll be rewarded on multiple levels, especially if you stay away from those free, template websites. Rule of thumb: “you get what you pay for”, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend thousands of dollars. As a marketing tool, is your website doing it’s job? Is it optimized for mobile (check here if you’re not sure)? Learn more here, and take a look at Search Engine Land’s 8-point checklist for local websites.
- And by “well-built” (above), I’m also talking about the site’s optimization. For example, if Google doesn’t know who you are, what you do, and where your located, your site is nothing more than “an expensive secret”. Make sure your site is search engine friendly!
- Take control of your online business information – this is critical information (like your name, number, URL, hour of operation, and address) that’s distributed across the web and shared across various properties – so if it’s inaccurate or incomplete in one place, it’s probably inaccurate or incomplete in many other places. Yes, Google Places is an important first step, but due to continued technological advances and user fragmentation they’re literally hundreds of other directories, databases, search engines and app’s to consider. Time consuming – yes. But necessary. Start by checking your listing and profile information here.
- “Get social”. For two reasons; you be found in more places, and your be rewarded with some positive organic rank/optimization. Focus on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and G+ to start.
- Reputation management – Rep. Mgt tools (and even something as easy as Google Alerts) allow you to monitor your online ratings, reviews and citations. How will you address those unfair or negative reviews if you don’t know about them?
- Search Engine Marketing - simply put, pay-per-click advertising plugs the holes that SEO cannot fill. You want to be found regardless of how prospects are searching, right? A properly designed campaign uses hundreds of keywords and keyword combinations, as well as multiple ad groups and sophisticated analytic analysis and call/lead tracking to drive a strong return-on-investment. And don’t forget about the strong relationship between paid search and organic visibility.
- Internet Yellow Pages – always a basic component of local online visibility. And the bonus; IYP users typically convert (buy) at much higher levels than those finding you on Search Engines or Social Media.