Local Website Marketing Tips

Have you ever wondered why some local businesses seem to thrive and be incredibly successful at marketing themselves on the Internet while others can’t even manage to get one customer to their website?

If so, you are not alone. We realise that a lot of businesses find internet marketing very frustrating. There are literally thousands of different ways to market your business on the Internet, so we have put together some basic internet marketing tips we think will be useful to most local small business owners.

Google+ Local

Even if you only started your online business very recently, the chances are it will already be listed on Google+ Local. However, your mission is to make sure the information on your Google Local page is accurate.

To do that, all you need to do is claim your page and make sure that you fill in all of the information correctly (contact us if you need some help as it needs to be done properly or your ranking will suffer).

Local businesses benefit enormously from having their Google Places listing found at or near the top of the page 1 results on Google. Just this one tip alone could make a huge difference to your business.

Remember both Bing and Yahoo have their own local search platforms too
Okay, so Bing Local and Yahoo Local might not be as big and effective as Google’s local search platform but you should not ignore them as they can still drive a lot of traffic to your website. Like Google, they are free and relatively easy to do but it is vital to make sure that you give the search engines the exact kind of information they require in order to benefit fully from them.

Check your <Title> tag

Visit your website and look at the very top of your browser window. What do you see?

  • Does it describe the page that you are looking at?
  • Is it a personalized description relating to your website or is it a generic default description that could apply to any business online?
  • Does it contain keywords and phrases you would expect people to use when searching for a business like yours in the search engines?
  • If you are a local business depending on local customers in your area to find you, does it contain local search keywords?

If not then this will be another reason why you are not getting many visitors to your website.

Determine what you want your website to do

A lot of local business owners give total control of their website to their web designers. While they may be good at actually designing websites they usually don’t have a clue about marketing and making the website work efficiently for their clients. So instead of letting your designer have free rein, spend a few minutes thinking about what the goal of your website is? Yes, you want it to boost your profits by driving extra sales but how exactly will it do that? Start with just one goal, such as increasing the number of phone calls, and branch out from there. Although it is important to set goals, you also need to come up with a system for measuring the results of those goals.

Spread the word in Local directories

There are numerous directory sites on the internet, each with hundreds of thousands of visitors. Some, like Insiderpages.com, even get millions of visitors per month. It makes sense to get your business listed in these online directories, especially if there is a directory relating specifically to your industry niche.

Not only will you benefit from the extra visitors from the directories but as an added bonus, being listed will actually strengthen your rankings in Google+ Local.

Check out your competition

When was the last time you visited any of you competitors’ websites? Do you know who your competitors are? Find out what sites appear when you type in keyword and phrases that you think potential customers would use when looking for your site.

Visiting your competitors’ websites is a great way to get ideas and take stock of your own company’s online marketing efforts in comparison to theirs. Take a look at the kind of information they have on their site and see how their site compares to yours? Try to analyse why their site might be ranking higher than yours.

Join your local Chamber of Commerce and networking groups

Although this comes with a price tag, the benefits of joining the local Chamber of Commerce or a local networking group like BNI.com are enormous. You have the potential to get much more business, save your business money with member-only deals and provide a boost in the local search rankings. Here is a list of just some of the benefits:

  • Increased exposure to many other people and local businesses eager to do business with you
  • Substantially increased referrals
  • Participation in numerous networking groups each week
  • Get invited to take part in tradeshows (where you’ll have an opportunity to market your business)
  • Free workshops
  • And much more

The knock on effect for your business is definitely worth the investment and your local business is likely to grow as a result.

Post online videos

Youtube is one of the biggest search engines on the Internet and Google owns it. Google also rewards businesses who post videos on YouTube with higher search rankings, so it would be foolhardy to ignore it. Using YouTube and other online video sites is free and well worth the effort to create a video and post it online.

Don’t panic. You don’t need to produce a Hollywood Blockbuster movie. If you have a video camera or even a decent smartphone with a video camera on it, you can video yourself or members of your staff showcasing some of the services you provide or displaying some of the products you have on offer. Record a demo of how to use one of your products or you could interview some of your best customers. You could even give people a video tour around your premises. If you don’t have a video camera, you could create a simple slide show presentation in Powerpoint with some pictures and add a brief voice over.

Then, create a YouTube channel and upload it. There are many videos on YouTube itself showing how to personalise and brand it. In the video’s description add a full link to your website and make sure that it is clickable. Don’t forget to add “tags” using words that people are likely to search for (keywords relating to your business or the area that you live including your city or town).

Don’t just stick to YouTube. There are other sites such as Vimeo.com and Dailymotion.com to post on, and you can add your video to your own website by using the embed option from YouTube and your Facebook page.

Make friends with local journalists

This is probably one strategy that your competitors are not doing and it works like a charm. But you are probably wondering how you would even start to make friends with a journalist. Watch your local news items on TV, read your local newspapers and compile a list of the local reporters. Most TV stations now include the journalist Twitter ID or email address alongside the correspondent’s name while they are presenting their news item.

Start off by commenting on a story that your journalist friend wrote in the newspaper or presented on the TV. Don’t flatter them but make your comment insightful. Add value to what they have reported and make them think. You want them to remember you. Send them a story idea that has nothing to do with your business, something you think might be of interest to them. Write a blog post, Tweet or add a comment on Facebook about something that they have covered and explain why you found it interesting.

In time, you could start sending them stories you think would be newsworthy, or show them you are an expert in your particular field so if a story ever crops up relating to your business you will be the first person that they think of.

Get involved on Social Media

Why should you use Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter? Well, many budget-conscious companies have already started using these free marketing source as a way to promote, connect and brand their company, and connecting with your customers is the main reason to use social media for your business.

You will be able to communicate with your customers easily because Facebook, Twitter, etc have become a daily habit. Many log on to update as soon as they wake up, even before brushing their teeth.

To succeed with in social media marketing, don’t try and sell anything to your followers. It’s a place consumers can go to easily access your phone number, address, and other key information, even on their mobile phones. Instead, start to engage with people interested in your business: Thank customers for their business; respond to customer complaints; market your business to people most likely to support your company. Try offering/sending out exclusive discounts and deals on your social media fans and followers.

Once you have your Facebook page and Twitter accounts up-and-running, try giving LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube a go. The more you use the world of social media, the higher your return will be – perhaps not in direct revenue, but with increased brand loyalty, greater word-of-mouth, and stronger emotional attachment to your brand.

We can provide you with some great ways to use Facebook and other social media sites to their full potential and win over thousands of potential new customers. Give us a call to discuss all the different ways we can help you gain more traffic to your website through effective marketing and increase the sales power of your website.

Beginners Guide to SEO

Your customers and prospects are probably using the internet daily to find the products and services they need. If your business can’t be found online, they will have no other choice but to buy from the places they can find online – and that is your competitors!.

This isn’t strictly true for EVERY type of business, but certainly for the majority.

However, giving your business an online presence is more than simply putting up a little website with your company’s address and phone number.

It means setting up a virtual version of your business, with an engaging, informative website, a Facebook page and Twitter account. In this electronic age, people search online for the products and services they need. They don’t use the phone book any more so if you ignore this important potential marketing platform it is just like you saying, “I don’t need any new business.”

But a website is not enough on its own. You need to make sure the people searching for your product or service can actually find it.

This is where SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) comes into play. By making some tweaks on your website and applying some techniques the search engines love, you can help your site be found in seconds by potential customers who are using search engines like Google and Bing to look for a business like yours.

For example, if you are a florist in Reigate, employing good SEO practices will ensure your business is shown near the top of the results when potential clients look for a florist in Reigate in their favourite search engine.

Combining SEO with good online marketing strategies can go a long way in helping any small business to stand out from the online crowd, and help to send traffic and customers to their website.

local marketing

 

Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to take your business online.

You’ve built your website and you’re ready to start taking orders, but where are all the customers you thought would be knocking on your virtual door? Perhaps they have got lost? Or is it that they would be on their way to you….if only they knew you existed!

If you are not clued up on Search Engine Optimisation, then unfortunately it’s going to be the latter. They simply can’t find you.

Search Engine Optimisation, (SEO for short), is the process of improving the ranking of your website on the major search engines. The higher a website’s ranking, the nearer it will be to the top of the search result listings.

Each search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo! etc) has its own ranking algorithms. These are complex rules that determine how to rank your website for a search query. The search engines never make these algorithms public and are regularly changing how they work, so SEO can take a little guesswork.

When someone types an enquiry in the search box of any search engine, it is the job of that search engine to provide the most relevant websites for whatever query the searcher has asked.

Let’s say, for example, you search for a big brand such as “Amazon”. As you would expect, www.amazon.co.uk will pop up at the top of the list. This website takes the number one slot in the search results because they have their SEO in place, as well as the fact that search engines often rank big brands higher automatically. Plus, Amazon have probably paid more to be there.

But what happens when you use the search term “books”? This is a much more generic term and can throw up thousands, if not millions, of results. How do Google and the other search engines determine who should be top of the pile?

Well, apart from the sponsored links from advertisers who have paid to have their ads displayed, (these are normally featured at the very top of the page), Google finds the most relevant website based on the SEO work that has been carried out.

Not only does it mean that the keyword “books” has been used well within the site, but that the website is known, trusted and has lots of links from other websites pointing back to it. SEO can be quite a complex business, but when carried out well it can give you great results.

Using Keywords in SEO Website Content

One of the most important considerations in SEO is your website content. It needs to be well written and needs to target relevant keywords in a natural way.

But a word of caution: If you litter your website with too many keywords Google will penalise you by moving you down in the rankings. Never try to cheat the search engines. They are very clever and can tell the difference between keyword stuffing and well-written content.

For example, let’s say you have a website that is all about cheese. Naturally, when people search for the word ‘cheese’, you want your site to come out top in the search engine results. You might be tempted to write an article which mentions the word cheese many times, in order to get your site ranked highly by the search engines and so appear at the top of the search results. It could even read something like this:

“If you are looking for information on cheese recipes, read this article which is written on the topic cheese recipes. This cheese recipe article is an excellent cheese recipe article. This cheese recipe article will help you make good cheese dishes. This cheese recipe is an easy way to make dishes using cheese. In this cheese recipe article, you can find lot of information on making cheese dishes. This cheese recipe article talks about which are the best cheeses to use, where to buy good quality cheese, how to make good cheese dishes etc. Read this cheese recipe article to learn more about making cheese dishes.”

It doesn’t make good reading and it certainly doesn’t show a natural use of the word cheese, and overusing the keyword ‘cheese’ in this manner will guarantee that Google and the other search engines will penalise your site by dropping it down the rankings.

So how do you go about optimising your site for the best search results? First of all, you need to determine what key words or phrases your potential customers are most likely to type in when searching for your particular product or service.

In the previous article we used the example of a florist in Reigate.

The keyword would not be ‘florist’. It is just too generic. There are thousands of florists out there, far too many for your customers to be able to find you. Most likely, they will be searching using the phrase “florist in Reigate” or something similar in the search engines. So give some thought to what terms your customers might use to find YOU, (normally your product or service + your town or city).

Come up with the two or three most obvious keywords for your business, then use these within your website content. The basic rule would be to have your main keyword near the top of your web page or in the first paragraph of content and then use it a couple of times more throughout. Add your secondary keywords in the body of your web page content. Search engines will then be able to read these keywords on your website and send you potential customers who are looking for these phrases. Just remember NOT to overdo it. Use them in natural manner and they will work effortlessly for you.

Keep Your Customer in Mind When Designing Your Site

It is so important to provide valuable and informative content for your visitors, as today, more than ever, Google rewards websites which provide good, helpful content related to whatever line of business you are in. But Google wants to be sure your site is respected and an authority on the subject you deal with before it sends anybody your way.

So if we use our florist example again, you could provide an article or two about flower arranging or how to choose the best flowers for Mothers Day. You could go a step further and create a video showing how best to display flowers, both in a vase and as a flower arrangement , or show how to prolong the life of floral displays to get the most from them. The idea is to create information that is going to interest your target audience.

How to Get Fast Effective Results

The quickest and best way to get more exposure for your business and turn that trickle of web visitors into a flood of sales is to hire a specialist SEO company. SEO is a steep learning curve which really can take a lot of time and effort, time that will take you away from the running of your business.

An SEO consultant, on the other hand, can carry out all the hard work, monitor your site and ensure you are getting the best exposure.

You need a company who you can trust. A company who knows exactly what they are doing and who will get the best results for your business.

We help local businesses to be successful online and get many more customers than they would have done had they remained offline.

Why not contact us for a no-obligation, informal chat. We have so many ideas for businesses such as yours and you will be so glad you spoke to us.

Do You Need A Website?

If you ask some people if every business should have a website, that answer is usually a resounding ‘Yes’. It’s not actually true, there are some businesses that do not need a website, there are some that it might be useful to have one, and there are those businesses for which it is absolutely essential to have their own website.

Which category does your business fall into?

Let’s take a few examples to see what scenarios work best.

Business A

Business A operates a highly specialised service where the clients are fed through an agency or particular sales funnel. Because it is highly specialised, this business has more than enough incoming business to sustain its’ employees and overheads, and the owner is not looking to expand on this.

In this instance, there is probably not much merit in having a website for the business.

Business B

Business B is a small, family run trade offering carpentry services to domestic properties. They are regularly fairly busy. If you ask this owner how much they spend on marketing, they will likely tell you that most of their business is through ‘word of mouth’ and referral. This is a great model, as referrals are normally easier to convert.

Should they have a website? Maybe not, but let’s say that one of their referrals gave someone the wrong phone number for Business B by mistake. The potential client tries to call them but can’t get hold of them. They go online to see if they can get their number and can’t find them. They call the person who referred them who is away from home, lost the number, or basically can’t help. It’s possible that this potential new customer will find someone else to do the work while they were searching online for Business B.

In this scenario, even just a 1 or 2 page business card type website would probably help to retain this potential new customer. The overhead of running such a small website would probably be very low. There would be minimal work required to get them into the search engines for their business name, and the page could be linked to a Facebook page, or a ‘Google My Business‘ page.

Business C

Business C is also a services company (maybe plumber or electrician). They struggle to keep their engineers busy week in and week out. They have some referrals, but they are fairly new to the market and are building their reputation. They are paying for ads in local media (newspapers, village magazines, direct mail), but this is a reasonably high ongoing cost.

In this instance, a fully functioning website, detailing everything Business C can offer, any customer testimonials, full contact details, maybe a portfolio of previous work, and a strong call to action would do wonders to increase their business turnover.

Follow this website project up with targeted SEO plan, and this could be the best ROI (return on investment) that Business C could invest in.

Which category does your business fall into?

Get in contact with us if you require any guidance on the best way forward.

How Often Do You Check Your Site Statistics?

Do you know how many visitors your site gets each month / week / day? If not, why not?

If your website is there to perform a function (mostly to bring you new sales or attract new potential customers/clients), then you need to know if it is doing that job correctly.

Just one small aspect of that is whether it is actually being seen.

If no-one is visiting your website, then it doesn’t really matter about the rest. If that is the case, then you should be looking at our SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) services to see how we can help you with that.

However, if your site is gathering some interest and is getting visitors, the next things you need to know are..

  • how did they find your website? (eg search engine, referral link)
  • if through a search engine, what phrase did they use to get there?
  • how long were they there?
  • what did your visitor do when they came to your site?

This metric data is absolutely essential to maintain your marketing efforts successfully.

For example, let’s say that you operate a service business (plumber, roofer, electrician), and your website is there to try and gain new business. If you know that 123 people came to your site last week, but none of them called you, something is wrong with your site. It could be the layout, the wording, maybe your “call to action” buttons aren’t visible enough. Whatever it is, you need to change something to get those people to contact you.

Using the right analytic tools, you can see which pages your visitors arrive at, whether they click through to other pages or not, or whether they simply turn around and go back where they came from (probably Google).

It is absolutely vital that you know these facts about your website. After all, it is so much easier to tweak and test areas of your site than it is for most any other marketing media out there. If you placed an ad in your local paper, you could find out what the average readership is for that paper, but you don’t know whether they actually see your ad. With your website, you can have that knowledge at your fingertips, and you have the power to make changes practically instantly.

If you don’t already have this information available to you, talk to your web designer and see what can be done. If you prefer, we can guide you through.

The best known tool out there is Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics). It requires some verification that you own the site, and a small piece of code to be added to your pages. This code will feed back information to your Google account for you to compile into reports that are understandable.

So, do yourself a favour and make this a priority. If you need any help, just contact us.

Search Engine Optimisation – SEO – Tactics

The quality of a blog’s content surely rules its popularity. Nevertheless, it is common for the finest pieces of writing to obtain very low SEO rankings.

It is important that the bloggers follow a certain set of techniques to ensure that their content gets more visibility through search engines.

SEO Tactics 

In the blogosphere jargon, the SEO techniques for blogs are basically divided into two categories: on-page and off–page.

On-Page Techniques

These are the techniques which a blogger needs to implement while building a blog. Here we discuss the top 10 on-site techniques a blogger can follow.

1. Primary keyword and Domain Name- It is important to ensure that the blogs URL contain the primary keyword in question. You can also use the concerned keyword in the subdomains. For instance, if you are planning to start a pregnancy info site, then the primary keyword your URL should carry is the word ‘pregnancy’ .e.g. www.pregnancyknowledge.com

2. Primary keyphrase and title- Going by the example above, the words pregnancy and knowledge should appear in the blog headers such as H1 and H2 tags as should the title of each of your posts.

3. Keyword rich body of the post – Using secondary keywords in the body of the post frequently ensures the relevance of the page for someone searching with those keywords. However, repetition in excess might cause the Google bots to remove your site from the index.

Besides, avoid using duplicate content on multiple pages and maintain optimal length of your posts.

4. Anchor text of links The primary and secondary keywords should be used often in the anchor text links when linking to the other blog posts or to other pages of the blog. Keywords placed in the links are more valuable than those in the simple text.

5. Themed clutters – The chances get better if you have a substantial amount of pages on a similar theme. It is advisable to keep a topic/niche or a theme for your blog.

6. Navigation bar – Another major tip is to ensure that the navigation bar is present on all the pages of your blog. This will make it very convenient for the search engines to spider your blog. Besides, the previous popular posts should be linked to all the pages.

7. Consistency- You need to maintain consistency in updating your blog to get top rankings in a shorter duration.  You also need to keep your domain name and the topic selected for your blog same throughout or else you will end up losing readership and traffic.

8. Domain registration – It helps to register your domain name for a lengthy period as this also influences how the search engines react to your site.

9. Ping – Use services that will ping a variety of websites for you and notify them that you’ve updated your content. In this manner, the search engines will also come to know of the updates, thus to your advantage.

10. Submit to Search Engines – After you’ve taken all possible steps to make your content search engine friendly, make sure you submit your URL to be included in the index for the search engine to know of your presence.

Off-Page Techniques

Off-page techniques are those that function from outside the site and are beyond the blogger’s control, but it’s important to be aware of these.

  • Obtain backlinks- The most prominent and powerful technique is to try and obtain as many backlinks as you can. To build pagerank and to get your blog to rank higher in search engines, you need to get as many links as possible link back to your posts or blogs. Some of the best backlinks are from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+.