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.
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 personalised 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 Twitter
Why should you use Twitter? Well most companies have already started using Twitter as a way to promote, connect and brand their company, and connecting with your customers is the main reason you should use Twitter for your business. You will be able to communicate with your customers easily because they themselves are using Twitter. It has become a daily routine: People log onto it every single day, and some log on to tweet as soon as they wake up, even before brushing their teeth.
The secret to succeeding on Twitter is not to try and sell anything to your Twitter followers. They will not want to follow you if all they are going to read are self-promoting posts. Your posts need to be helpful and informative. Once you have gained a loyal following, they will take the initiative themselves to visit your website and buy from you.
Get new fans on Facebook
For the budget-conscious business owner, creating a Facebook page is absolutely free and can be a powerful web presence for your business. It’s a place your consumers can go to easily access your phone number, address, and other key information, even on their mobile phones.
However the main strength of Facebook is that it allows you to engage with the people who are interested in your business. On Facebook you can thank customers for their business, respond to customer complaints, and market your business to people who are most likely to support your company. You can also offer exclusive discounts and deals on your Facebook page. Don’t just stop with Facebook!
Once you have your Facebook page up-and-running, try giving Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube a go. The more you put yourself out into the world of social media, the higher your return will be – maybe not directly in revenue, but in increased brand loyalty, word-of-mouth, and emotional attachment. 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.
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