What’s The Fuss About Google Plus?

There are so many new ways to get information about businesses and branding out onto the internet, and new social media sites being introduced all the time.  It seems every time you look at a blog post, video or online article, there’s a new symbol that has appeared to let you share the content with others.  So it’s no surprise that some get overlooked more than others.

But in among all the tweeting, pinning and facebooking, there is one symbol that has been around for awhile – the rather unassuming ‘+1’ icon, belonging to Google Plus (+).

Google + is relatively new – it was launched at the end of 2011 – but already, it has a total of more than 500 million users worldwide.   While many are familiar with the +1 icon, the Google+ business page, which was introduced at the same time, has gone mainly unnoticed.  But the influence of Google+ is growing fast, and businesses should be joining the growing Google+ trend.  Here, we give you an overview of Google+ and the benefits it has to businesses.

Set Up A Google+ Account

The first things you need in order to benefit from Google+ are:

1. A Gmail email account

2. A Google+ account.

Fortunately, Google make it so easy to do both at the same time, simply by visiting http://plus.google.com

TIP : Take the time to read through the brief overview information and watch the really quick videos (each under 2 minutes).  It will give you a basic understanding of what Google+ is and how it works.

Once you have signed in, you’re ready to start….

 

You’re In

Before you go anywhere, join anything, make a connection to anyone or hang out anywhere, it’s time to fill out your profile.  When navigating around inside Google+, it’s good to know how to activate the menus.

TIP: Normally, you click on a button or icon to bring up the menu options, but Google+ uses a hover option.  If you hover over things you will find menus and options appear for you.

 

GOOGLE1Profile

If you are a little stumped on where to find your profile page, take your cursor up to the top left corner and hover over the ‘Home’ icon.  In the menu that appears below the Home button you will see your profile icon. (You can also access it from the drop-down menu which is to the right of your top left profile picture).

When filling out this information, remember this is going to be seen by your potential new customers, so keep your profile entries more professional than personal.

Google+ profiles include 2 images – a small profile picture that act like an avatar (a small graphic picture that appears next to your posts and activity in Google+), and a cover photo which people see when they visit your profile page.  Both of these images are important to your business profile, but for different reasons.

Profile Picture – Wherever you appear on Google+, (so in any Circle listing, a group, a post entry, etc), your profile image appears next to your name.  It is a little piece of branding that appears every time you do in Google+.

Your profile images should ideally be uploaded at 250 x 250 pixels, and whether you use your profile image or a logo, it should be something that looks good and is recognizable when seen as a small image.  BUT … your Google+ profile picture offers you an amazing opportunity to stand out in the search results.  In among the Google search results, you will see that every now and again, one of the results has not only the title of the article and the webpage link, but a small avatar picture next to it too.

Doesn’t that entry stand out in the search results?  This is their Google+ profile image, and although it doesn’t appear automatically, you too can easily get your profile image to be displayed in Google search results for all your blog and website entries.

How?  It is a feature called ‘Google Authorship’ and you activate the feature from inside your Google+ profile by using the ‘Links’ section.  You can use the link fields to add in and connect to all your websites, blogs and other profiles.   To help verify your authorship, you can use a WP (WordPress) plug-in.  (If you do a quick search in your site’s plug-in directory, you can find a suitable one).

It is well worth putting forth a little time and effort to extend your brand power and increase your visibility in Google search results in this way.  It’s free, it’s very visual and it puts you miles ahead of your competitors.

Cover Picture – The cover picture is the 2nd image in your profile and is a MASSIVE 942 x 180 pixels.  Not only that, but unlike other social media sites, there are no restrictions as to what information can go on it.  So your business can take advantage of this massive billboard and add in calls to action, your website details, promote special offers, offer unique discounts… the possibilities are endless, and no-one is going to reprimand or ban you for doing so.

Once you have your profile sorted, it’s time to look around Google+.  Here is a brief look at some Google+ features:

 

The Newsfeed

Running through the center of your page is the newsfeed of posts and you can choose  whether to get a general stream of all the posts, or you can see posts from friends, family or other circles that you are connected to on Google+.  You can also leave comments and replies on posts from in the newsfeed.

 

CIRCLES

At home or at work, in our normal lives, we all have circles of friends, family or acquaintances we interact with.  On Google+, you build circles of people you want to communicate to.  It’s not just friends or family, you can build various circles of work colleagues, people you admire or follow or have a common interest with, people you find funny…the possibilities are endless.

Where Circles differs from other social media is you don’t need a formal invitation to connect with someone, so adding someone into a Circle is so easy.  When you come across someone you want to add, hover over their name and it brings you up a list of all the Circles you have created.  All you need to do is tick the Circle or Circles you want to put them in and you’re done, and YES, you can add people to more than one Circle.

Once you’re Circles are set up, you need to start building up your connections.  You don’t need to send the same post to everyone.  You can tailor which Circlesgets that post, so you can send it to as many or as few people as you like, which is great if you want to build up Circles of customers to send out targeted offers to every now and again, or a newsletter.

Since no-one needs to ask or be accepted to join a Circle, Google+ has a really handy ‘Added You’ button.  This function shows people who have put you in one of their Circles.  It makes good business sense to connect back to them and put them in one of your Circles.  Just hover over their name and your list of Circles will appear for you to choose from.

 

Posting

This isn’t difficult at all – you simply type what you want to say into the ‘Share what’s new’ box.  You can pretty much add anything else too – links, pictures or videos.  Once ready to send, you can choose who to send it to.  Below the post you’ve typed there is a ‘+ Add Name…’ field.  You can choose to make it public, send the post to a specific circle or put in individual names in.  But Google+ has a great feature, useful for businesses, in that it fully integrates with Gmail so you can send the post via email to your contact lists.

 

Pages

Businesses can add a business page to their account.  This gives greater flexibility with the cover picture as businesses can choose to either have the one large cover or they can choose to have 5 smaller images at the top of the page.  Not only does this option give businesses the choice to highlight 5 offers or aspects of their business, but it becomes so much easier to keep the display current and fresh simply by changing one or more of the smaller pictures, rather than having to produce an entire new large cover image every time.

A Google+ business page also offers more scope with statistics.  Businesses can use the ‘Discover’ section to be able to see who is sharing their content, as well as ‘+1’ing their posts or content.  Inside the Discover sector, businesses can also spot topics that are beginning to trend, and so stay current.

 

Communities

A community is a group, or forum, which has been created around a certain topic or activity, such as creative writing, fishing, internet marketing, etc.

Some communities are public, so anyone can join and become a member without having to ask, but some communities are closed.  Closed communities are private communities.  They only allow certain individuals in, in which case you need to ask to be allowed to join.

Inside communities, you can control what posts you receive.  Posting in a community is different.  Posts are divided into categories for different types of posts, so you can choose which lines of chatting you listen to.  You can also choose to ‘mute’ receiving replied and updates from specific posts by hovering over and clicking the little ‘v’ at the top right corner of the post.  This removes it from your Home page and prevent you seeing any more replies.

As a business opportunity, communities are great for doing market or product research inside a closed community.  You can invite people who fit in to the target groups of your business to help you gather information and insight while creating a persona of your ideal customer.

 

+1’ing

Facebook has the ‘Like’.  Pinterest has the ‘Pin It’.  Well Google+ has the ‘+1’, and now that you know about it, you’ll see it all over the internet – in online articles and blog posts, next to pictures and videos and on websites and online shops.

+1 is your way of showing your Google+ Circles what things you like, find interesting or fun, or maybe you have found something you think others will find most useful or informative and you want to share it.  There’s no need to fret about remembering which things you’ve liked or where you saw that really interesting feature.  You profile has a +1 tab, which logs all your +1’s, so you can see them anytime.

 

Vanity URLs

Often overlooked, but crucial to branding your business, is the way your Google+ web page address appears within the browser. It is what your potential customer will type in or click on and can reinforce your brand’s identity with them.

A Vanity URL is a URL which is customised to reflect your company name. For example, https://plus.google.com/+davidbeckham is the vanity Google+ URL of footballer David Beckham.

The default URL assigned to everyone by Google+ is a long dull, unmemorable string of numbers that will impress no-one, and is instantly forgettable.  Google+ does have a number of Vanity URLs, but is currently only assigning them to people who have either a high celebrity status, high business profile or a very large amount of followers.  As a business, you can request to be given a vanity URL of your own, but unless you fall into one of the three categories mentioned before, it is highly unlikely that you would be successful.

Google+ has promised that more vanity URLs will become available in the future, but until then, there is a way of making your page web address more appealing and memorable.  Sites such as http://gplus.to, http://plus.ly and http://gplusnick.com offer an alternative.  They can set up a vanity URL to replace your current Google+ one.

So, on http://gplus.to,

https://plus.google.com/241972256878225489728

would become

http://gplus.to/YourBusinessName

That looks much better and is much more unforgettable that trying to type 21 numbers in without making a mistake.

GOOGLE2In summary, here are the main benefits for Businesses on Google+

Visual Branding – You can brand your profile with all sorts of marketing strategies, and you can make your Google+ profile appear in Google’s search results every time it brings up your website or blog entry

It is so very easy to separate people out into Circles and then target communication to them

Google+ Business pages offer more flexibility, have very few restrictions on branding and allow greater access to statistics

The huge Cover image is a great Billboard for promotions, special offers, Calls to Action, website and Social media contact details

Google+ offers full integration with Gmail, YouTube and Picasa

You can link to your website and blog easily

You can use Communities to help market and product research for your business.

Google+ is one of the best social media sites to display photographs on.  The images are bigger and are shown off better inside the Google+ photo albums, which is great for displaying pictures of your products.

As you can see Google+ doesn’t just make sense for your business. It is an absolute must have and an essential social network for your company.

You have to jump in, and you know that. The only decision now is what you’re going to do with it.

Whether that’s creating a video series, highlighting your community, or using it for communication, you need to have a Google+ strategy immediately. If you don’t Google+ has the potential to disrupt every single online marketing plan that relies on SEO and social media to get traffic, generate leads, and make more sales.

We realize that you are too busy keeping on top of the day to day running of your business. There are not enough hours in the day to get everything done as well as trying to master online marketing tools like this which we admit can sound daunting.

So why not allow us to help? Our priority is to help businesses just like yours to succeed online.

We have the expertise and the experience so you can have full confidence that your business is in the right hands and is being well looked after. Our team is ready when you are.

 

Five Ways To Make Your Emails Mobile Friendly

EMAIL3Mobile marketing is an important tool of any well planned marketing campaign.  We show you how you can do it effectively for maximum results.

Every morning my alarm goes off at 6:00am.

I would love to say that I jump out of bed full of the joys of spring but that would be a lie.

After thumping my alarm clock the very next thing I do, before I even get out of bed, is reach over for my iPhone and check my email.

I don’t just do it once. I check it again during breakfast and then again on the way to work. In fact I have probably checked my mail 5 or 6 times before I have even turned my computer on at the office.

Am I alone? I don’t think so. I am sure that most other people with Smartphone follow a very similar routine.

Almost every mobile user has a Smartphone these days and the number of people reading their email on a mobile device is increasing all of the time.

What this means is that you need to be creating emails that are mobile friendly. That is an email that displays perfectly no matter if a person is reading it on a desktop computer, a tablet or a mobile device.

If that sounds complicated or daunting don’t worry. It isn’t. However, it is vitally important that you take action make sure that your company emails are mobile-friendly.

To keep you right, here are some simple steps that you can make to ensure that your emails can be read by all of your customers no matter what device they are using to read the email.

  1. 1.   Your content needs to be simple and concise

All of your emails should be simple and concise but it is even more important when designing them to be read on mobiles. You only have a small screen at your disposal so you need to keep your email design very clean and simple.

  1. 2.   Use a single column template

Simple layouts work best on mobiles because of the limited space allowed on the screens. Using a single column clean template will work better and be much more flexible on all screen sizes than having a harder to navigate and view 2 or 3 template. Your readers don’t want to have to scroll or zoom their way round the screen to read your email. Not only will they not bother reading it but they will not see the call to action either. It will be a waste of time sending emails out as they won’t be read.

  1. 3.   Have a clear call to action

To get the best success from your email marketing campaigns you must tell your readers what you want them to do. For example are you telling them about a special offer and want them to visit the web page? If so, tell them. Do you want them to click the buy button? Again, tell them.

It is vital to put the call to action in a prominent place where it can be seen. Make sure your link or buy button is easily seen. Whatever call to action you want them to make, it must be loud and clear.

Don’t be tempted to confuse things by having multiple calls to action. It will complicate things and look messy. Remember that your goal is to be simple and concise. On a mobile, your customer’s finger is the new mouse so you need to make sure that your links or buy buttons are easy to click.

  1. 4.   No tiny fonts please

There is no point sending out an email if it can’t be read. We recommend that the minimum size font that you want to use is 11pt for body text and 22pt for headlines.

Another point to bear in mind is that a lot of people turn the brightness down on their mobiles to conserve battery life so always try to use dark font colours on a light (preferably white) background to make the email easily read.

  1. 5.   Images are great….but don’t overdo it.

It is best only to use images that are essential to your email. The reason being is that some Smartphone’s turn images off by default. If your email has a lot of images all your customers might see is a lot of white space or indicators showing where the images should be.

So use images by all means but we always recommend that you include image descriptions (alt text) to let your readers see what the image is even if it is not displayed.

Before you send an email out to your subscribers it might be a good idea to see a preview first by sending it to yourself. If you are happy with and it looks great, send it out.

As you can see, it is not too complicated but by investing a little thought and work into your email design it will make it much easier for your subscribers to read your email no matter where they are or what device they are using.

You might feel confident to make these changes yourself but if you are not or simply don’t have the time to adapt your email design please contact us. That is what we are here for and will be glad to help.

Email MarketingWe are passionate about helping every local business in our area to succeed online. Internet marketing isn’t the future. It is happening now and it really makes us sad to see local companies either ignoring the changes going on, or worse, being so daunted that they are scared to do anything.

Every local business that we help to thrive online is amazed adapting their business online is not as complicated or expensive as they thought. They love the fact that it has given their business a new lease of life. Not only do they have a presence on the high street but they are gaining brand new customers all round the world who would normally not have heard of them.

That is what makes the internet so exciting and you can be part of that. Email and mobile marketing are just a couple of areas of our expertise.We have many more marketing strategies that will excite you.

We look forward to hearing from you and sharing them with you.

How To Run A Successful Facebook Marketing Plan

Unless you have been living in a cave without any contact with the outside world you can’t have failed to notice that Facebook is the largest and most popular social media network in the world.

FacebookIt has over a one billion active users who log into their Facebook account many times each day, and it has made even easier thanks to the popularity of Smart phones. Smartphones mean people can log in anytime time they want, any place they are, and the majority of your customers will be part of this socially aware group.

Businesses that are internet savvy have realized the importance of Facebook and are benefiting from joining the social network revolution.  Learning how to harness the power of Facebook and other social media marketing has resulted in increased sales and given their profits a real boost.

Unfortunately, some businesses have been a bit slower to catch on.  Their attempts to join the Facebook revolution have failed because they have not known the best way to master it.

Even though Facebook is incredibly powerful for business, finding the right information about marketing and advertising on the social site can be time consuming.   If you do a quick online search, you will find there is so much advice out there about Facebook marketing.  But for every good tip you read, you will be bombarded with misleading or outdated information which will add to your frustration – and worse – hinder your marketing campaign.

The good news is that finding and mastering the techniques behind a solid and effect Facebook marketing campaign is not difficult. Once you put these techniques in place, your efforts will be rewarded.  You will be a Facebook convert and will finally discover what all of the fuss has been about.

So let’s look at some strategies you need to know to harness the true power behind advertising and marketing on Facebook:

FBlikeGet Acquainted With Facebook

As we mentioned earlier, Facebook is a relatively new marketing medium for businesses. Some businesses heard how amazing Facebook is and just tried to dive head first into their marketing campaigns, assuming it is just the same as owning another web page or another form of email list.

What some businesses fail to remember is that Facebook is a marketing medium in its own right with its own set of rules. There are some unique differences available on Facebook that can help their marketing efforts in a way that their own regular site can’t.

Once a business has set up a Facebook fan page, they might fill in their info tab with some basic information and add some posts…and that’s about it.  They think it is as easy as that – just spending the minimum time and effort on their fan page will bring them huge results.

Yes, they might get a few people hitting the ‘Like’ button but recent statistics have shown that only around 1% of total fans who ‘Like’ a page ever go back to view it more than once.

So although it is a powerful marketing site, your Facebook page should never be your website replacement. It should be recognized for what it is; a social media platform used by people who wish to do socialize and hangout online.

Because of that, you need to keep in mind that visitors to your Facebook page are not there to support your business. All they are interested in is learning more about what you offer, via reading the posts on your Facebook wall.

Facebook and other social media sites have re-written all of the rules regarding traditional marketing. Once you learn about the differences involved in marketing directly to people using a social networking platform and do your best to incorporate these tactics in your own marketing plans you will grow your businesses significantly and turn over huge profits, just as you hoped you would.

FBsalespitchesDon’t Send Out Sales Pitches

There are some business owners who think that the whole idea of having a presence on Facebook is to bombard members with details of their products and services.  So that is what they do… relentlessly!  They tell people how wonderful they are and how great their product and service is.

That is the wrong way to market on Facebook.  Genuine savvy business owners still manage to get their message across, but in a more subtle and entertaining way, which is what you need to do.

Why is this important?  Recent polls show that business owners who constantly broadcast sales hype over Facebook end up losing fans (and sales) rather than gaining them.  They forget that fans are seeking a way to connect and interact with you. They want to see that there is a real person behind the marketing hype who cares about what customers think and want and need.

Rather than broadcasting sales pitches to people who follow your page, engage them.  Think of ways to offer your fans genuine, relevant content that they are interested in.  Your job is to interact with them and give them irresistible and compelling reasons to want to connect with you.  You can draw inspiration from investigating examples of really successful Facebook pages, like Coca Cola and Pizza Hut, to see how they go about things. Posting engaging content like this will keep your fans loyal and increase their interaction with you.

Can you see how, by changing your perception about what Facebook can do for you and your profits, and by starting to think more about what you can offer your customers, you now have the key to running a successful Facebook campaign?  If you focus on offering good quality content that doesn’t constantly push your products or services into people’s faces, you stand a much better chance of succeeding on Facebook, AND it will give your fans a more authentic online experience that builds trust and loyalty.

FBfanpageDon’t Focus on Fan Numbers

Just because you have a huge number of fans on Facebook, it doesn’t mean you are going to see huge profits. You might be very proud to have a large fan base, but what does that really mean for your business? Not a lot, because as we stated earlier, statistics show that less than 1% of your fans are likely to return to view your page.  This means the only time they will hear from you is when your post appears in their news feed, once you have posted something for them to read.

Quite often we will see companies trying to attract new fans with one-off contests and competitions, but these are not always as productive as they might seem. Once the contest is over there is no real motivation for those people to interact with the company any more.

It is not enough to focus solely on attracting a large army of fans.  Once you have a fan, you need to give them reasons to stay with you.  It is far more productive to concentrate on giving your fans compelling reasons to interact and become part of the community that you are trying to put together.

Attracting a high number of fans doesn’t automatically mean that you have a captive audience, but with a bit of effort it does provide you with the perfect opportunity to find ways to capture and retain their interest.  If you don’t do that, the page will lose its value.  If that happens, you and your business will become irrelevant to them. That is much worse than having no fans at all.

Focus on what your fans want and not what you want.

The main reason behind going into business is to make a profit.  In order to do that and keep your business moving forward, you need to find new and creative ways to keep bringing in new customers. That is what Facebook allows you to do.

When advertising in the offline world, your marketing tactics are usually centered on trying to spread your sales message as far and as wide as you possibly can. The sole aim is to try and reach even small potential new prospects that might just turn into paying customers, so your sales pitch is more aggressive in order to convert the general public to buy from you.

Marketing on Facebook is completely different. Trying to focus on and drive more sales to your business simply doesn’t work on Facebook.  Facebook is a Social Network – that means that it is more about conversation and interaction than providing businesses with another platform for advertising.  So if all you talk to others about is yourself and how great your business is to the exclusion of everything and everybody else, your audience will quickly become bored and disinterested with you.  After all, they can hear that type of advertising message anywhere.

You need to take some time to think carefully about the potential audience you have on Facebook and why people log into Facebook in the first place. People use Facebook because they want to interact with their friends, their family and make new acquaintances. They simply want to hang out, learn some interesting information, read fun wall posts as well as seeing what is going on in their online communities and generally, just be a social creature.

What they are not logging on for is to hear you tell them over and over how amazing your business is or why they should buy from you. To be honest, they don’t care.  If what they hear from you doesn’t sound like one of their reasons for using Facebook and so they can’t relate to you, everything you do will be in vain.  Constantly trying hard to capture their attention by telling them all about you isn’t actually a good way to get them to listen or interact with you at all. So stop focusing on what you want from Facebook and start to think about what your Facebook fans want.    By adapting your marketing to your Facebook fan’s outlook, you will naturally increase your sales without even trying.

FBcampaignPlanning Your Social Media Campaigns

Marketing on Facebook really can offer you a fantastic opportunity to grow and enhance your business. The sheer power and popularity of social media networking in general really does broaden your customer base and increase brand awareness for your product or service.

However, as you have just read, it is not something that you can dive into head first without thinking of a solid marketing plan that will work well on Facebook.

You need to forget all the things you know about marketing in the offline world and start learning how unique and different marketing is in the world of social media.

Unfortunately not all businesses have the time, as they are so busy running their bricks and mortar business. The good news is that we provide a great range of services designed to help businesses, like you, get to grips with the changing face of Social Media. Rather than having to try and figure it all out for yourself and then attempt to put a Facebook marketing campaign together, our team can do this for you.

We have been in the industry for a number of years and know it well.  With our marketing strategies and well-managed campaigns, we can dramatically increase your online presence and help you to gain all the extra sales and profits that you read and hear about.

We will make sure that when customers search for a product or service that you provide, they will find YOU first, and not your competitor.

So what do you do next? Simply give us a call or email us. You will be relieved and amazed at how friendly we are and we guarantee you will be excited when you hear what we can do for your business.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Marketing and Publicity For Small Business

 

Marketing1 It certainly isn’t easy running a small business, is it?

You work long hours, take few (if any) holidays, and you bear the full responsibility for the overall success of your company. Your family and employees all look to you to make the business a success.

That is a lot of pressure.

This means you always have to keep looking for new and inventive ways to improve your bottom line profitability, and take your small business to new heights.

Most business owners agree that effective marketing would be a big help to their business. However, what puts them off is that they mistakenly think that hiring a marketing consultant will cost a lot of money and that they cannot afford it.

That isn’t always the case.  In this issue, we are going to look at various ways you can put an effective marketing plan into action without it costing an arm and a leg…and you will also discover some very effective FREE ways to get much needed publicity for your business.

The article will be a good reference guide to effective marketing.  Your business will grow as a result if you put them into action.

START MAKING HEADLINES – THE INCREDIBLE POWER OF FREE PUBLICITY

Most small local businesses focus all their marketing efforts on paid advertising or sales activities. This is totally understandable and is generally a good investment if it’s done well. However, a lot of businesses are struggling financially at the moment, so this article will cover the most overlooked weapon in a small business’s marketing arsenal: FREE PUBLICITY.

How do you get free publicity?

Easy.  Be known as ‘the’ expert and authority in your field.

Despite what you might think, being recognized as an “expert” in the media is a very attainable goal – in fact you are probably already well qualified to do this, particularly if you have been in the business for a number of years.  But even if you haven’t been in business long, the chances are that you have done a lot of market research and choosing your business wasn’t a decision you came into lightly.

Once you establish yourself as an ‘expert’, the benefits to your business can be awesome.  If you have a solid market position but need more exposure and credibility to help your business grow, you can do this easily by investing some time and effort into generating publicity for your business through the media.  If you do this, you are sure to reap the financial rewards.

When it comes to local news, there’s no reason a small business can’t compete with a business ten times its size. In fact, it’s fair to say that local news outlets like TV stations and newspapers are “biased” in favor of small local business owners like yourself, so you already have an advantage.

 

HOW TO MAKE IT HAPPEN – START BY WATCHING AND READING THE NEWS

Think about the last time you watched your local TV news. There would have been the usual variety of depressing stories about car accidents, house fires and the economy. But there were also stories highlighting local issues.  The people in these type of ‘Local News’ stories are usually people from the community appearing on camera to offer a comment.

For example, when the holiday season rolls around, a local reporter will often visit a local retailer to ask how busy it is and if their profits will be on target to beat the previous year’s takings.  They might also consult another local trader who may have a different opinion on how busy it is, or perhaps to give some basic shopping reminders. Then they will interview various members of the public to ask them how busy it is and if they have all of their shopping done. They may also interview a local police officer to remind people not to drink too much during the holiday period, especially if they are driving.

Think about that for a moment; three LOCAL residents or business people all received valuable free exposure on a well-watched local newscast, and all they had to do was talk about what they do everyday.

That scenario is not unusual and you can probably think of many more examples. You might even remember a news item that featured on the news today.

It’s called publicity, and it’s probably the best marketing weapon a local businessperson has to get added exposure for their company at no cost.

But how do these people get on air or in print? Surely they must know somebody, right? Actually, no.

When you watch a news-related show and they consult an “expert”, chances are that person is no more an expert in their field than you are in yours. They got on air by simply pitching the story idea to the station or making contact with the local reporter or news station.

The local newscast is on every week night and quite often over a weekend. It doesn’t matter whether or not there was one hour’s worth of news during the day; they still have to fill the airtime.

On slow news days, news reporters are looking for local stories that will appeal to a wide audience, just like the one I mentioned above; one that they can put together without a lot of research or effort.

The same is true of newspapers. Reporters often need to generate a story idea for tomorrow’s paper, and they would jump all over a good local story that is of interest to a wide audience but not as time sensitive as, say, a local disaster.

 

Marketing2HOW DO YOU GET ‘IN THE NEWS’?

So how do you get on air or in print? Follow these tips:

1)        Send a news release in to a few local TV/Radio stations and newspapers with a good story idea. Remember, it has to be NEWS, not shameless self- promotion:

Example number 1: Auto Repair Mechanic

This is an example of self-promotion:

Visit my auto repair garage today because I want to tell you how hard I work to please my customers.

On the other hand, the same business could add this spin instead:

“As the winter approaches, now would be a good time for your viewers to have their vehicle inspected to ensure worry-free winter driving. As a local mechanic, I can help by offering practical information about what to look for in a mechanic, and what safety systems you should have checked on your car before the snow flies this winter.

Now that the reporters have your details and know that they have somebody to interview, they will be in contact once the bad weather starts to fill that criterion of the news.

Example number 2: Chiropractor

Self-promotion:

“I’m a new chiropractor in the area and I’d like to build up business by running an article in your newspaper.”

Instead try this:

“Many local residents live with back pain everyday. As a local chiropractor, I’d be pleased to share with your viewers the 3 most common types of back problems, and the steps they can take to correct them now before the problem gets out of hand.”

Almost every news station focuses on health issues, especially if there is a celebrity in the news with a similar condition. For example, when Catherine Zeta Jones admitted that she suffered from bi-polar it raised awareness of the condition and news programs jumped all over it, interviewing people in the local community who were also struggling with the condition. So, as soon as they want to do a feature on back pain, because they know you are qualified to talk about that, they will contact you.

Example number 3: Gadget store

Self-promotion:

“My new gadget store took a lot of work to get up and running, and I think people would be interested in hearing about the exciting products that I have to offer. “

With a different spin this could become newsworthy:

“With the Christmas season rapidly approaching, people are constantly looking for unusual and useful gifts. As the owner of a local gadget store, I’d be happy to give you information on the latest crazes for the festive season, including what’s hot, what’s not, and some gadget buying tips for families to help them stretch their shopping budget.”

Can you see the difference? Shameless self-promotion is just that – it’s an attempt to promote your company through the news media, and it simply won’t work. Reporters will see right through it and will ignore you.

On the other hand, positive News Spin takes something that your business is recognized for and turns it into a story that a news outlet would be likely to broadcast or feature in print.

It is the topics and the same business but putting a slightly different spin on things makes all the difference.

That kind of exposure is very good for business.

Remember, the news channel doesn’t maintain its credibility by promoting businesses. Nobody in the press really cares about your business and it doesn’t really want to go out of their way to promote it. However, offer them a news story that involves your business, and it is no longer promotion. It’s news.

2)        Switch on your PR antenna and follow the news

When something newsworthy happens, news media like to cover it from different angles (like the Catherine Zeta Jones story mentioned earlier). A story that was not very interesting yesterday can quickly become interesting today, especially if something has happens in the news to spark people’s interest.

Marketing3NEWS : A rash of break-ins in the local area has residents wondering about their safety.

Anyone who owns a security company should be all over this one. You could offer your local news station safety tips, information about how home alarms can protect your home, and so on.

 

Remember: when something is in the news it gets people’s attention.  They are much more receptive to hearing what they can do to avoid the problem themselves.

In a situation like this where viewers are concerned about their health and safety, they will be very attentive to any news item about securing their homes.

The news media know that if they interview you to discuss safety, they’re feeding the public’s appetite for safety related articles. Just remember you are not on TV to pitch your product. During the interview, talk about alarms in general and provide general household safety tips. It will add to your credibility and the phone will be ringing off the hook the next morning as the public will trust you  and you will be seen as the local authority on the subject.

There are lots of other companies that could benefit from this type of news such as self-defense classes, neighborhood watch programs, private security patrol companies… the list goes on.

 

WHAT ABOUT MY BUSINESS?

You can find PR opportunities in almost any business.  To prove this, go and buy a selection of today’s newspapers and give yourself 20 minutes to flick through them all.

As you do, think about how your business/products/services may relate to other wider topics that are reported in the papers.

Look at the news stories and features. Ask yourself, what topics are popular? Can you adapt what your business has to say to something that is already causing a stir?

Tear out anything that grabs your eye and start to compile a cuttings reference file for your desk. Repeat the exercise on a regular basis and include the Sunday papers now and again.

Don’t forget you can apply the exact same publicity principles to ANY information avenue – like trade publications.  Your customers have their own publications that relate to and interest them,(for example, Restaurant Owner Monthly).  What topics are hot right now in your industry or theirs? Does your business have something to contribute to an ongoing debate?

Pay particular attention to regional newspapers and business publications. Is there something happening locally that you can tap into?  Helping the local community brings many benefits to everybody concerned.

For example, a local car hire firm might provide free minibus hire to a kid’s playgroup after reading about the theft of the playgroup vehicle just before a planned visit to the seaside.

This would be a great story, and would provide a good photo and branding opportunity for the business.  Plus, it gives a great day out for the kids.

Being opportunistic isn’t a sin if it offers a win-win situation all round for everybody involved. It will enhance your company’s reputation, while giving genuine value to your customer.

Online Press Releases

Online Press releases are a great way to use your news to instantly promote yourself to millions of people around the world via the Internet and attract new customers as a result.

This is where our expertise comes in; we can help you reach a brand new audience by sending out press releases, which in turn will increase your rankings in the search engines.

We know how to reach thousands of journalists worldwide and generate a buzz for your business.

Contact us today to find out how we generate a real buzz and interest in your company and attract new customers in 24 hours or less.

Recession Proof Your Business and Dominate Your Market By Turning Your Website Into An Automatic Marketing And Lead Generating Machine

Recession1Are you sick of hearing bad news about the economy?

We sure are. Yes, it is bad and businesses are struggling but it is not all bad news…especially for your business.

Here is the reason why:

Despite one of the worst economies on record, you can take effective action that will not only recession proof your business but will also provide you with the perfect time to blow away your competitors and dominate the market. We are in the midst of a perfect storm.

Everybody is scared. Your competitors are cutting back on their marketing.

Most businesses are totally confused about their online sales and marketing strategy (most don’t even have one).

The internet and mobile marketing now represent the biggest marketing opportunity in the history of mankind. We really are experiencing a cultural and marketing revolution.

Why is this good news for you? Because now is your time to shine. You are going to discover some simple but very effective marketing strategies so you can realistically become the market leader in your field.

You are going to rediscover your love for your website and realize why it is your most important asset right now. You might have forgotten to give it some love lately, but you will soon appreciate how this incredibly loyal tool that never sleeps, take time off, takes breaks and can close a sale for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year will make you a lot of money and explode your profits.

You might be looking at your website right now and thinking that it was a complete waste of money and it has hardly brought you many sales….if any! If you are, you are not alone. Most small business websites don’t work. The problem is; there is too much emphasis put on how they look rather than what they can actually do.

You might have a pretty web site and you might be very proud of it but does it generate any leads? If not then you can join the 99% of business owners out there whose site does absolutely nothing for them.

There are a number of reasons for this:

1)        Most people have their sites designed by a slick designer who knows nothing about marketing.

2)        The site talks solely about themselves and their business and how great they are, while totally neglecting the wants, needs and desires of the potential customer visiting the site.

3)        There are no calls to action anywhere on the site. What do you want your visitors to do when they are there? Do you want them to buy, call you, email you, request a brochure? Whatever it is, you need to tell them.

4)        The visitors coming to the site are not targeted.

5)        There is no plan to build a prospect database (mailing list)

6)        The website doesn’t fit in with their broader online marketing strategy (social networking, mobile marketing, etc)

There is no point in having a pretty site if it doesn’t make you money. Your designer has probably put a lot of time and effort into the site so that it gives the ‘right look and feel’. It might have perfect navigation, have a professional glossy logo and the right colours to create the right mood but there is so much more to having a successful web site than that.

The fact is, unless you have a system for generating leads, keeping in touch with them and being part of a bigger traffic and conversion system your online presence is dead and buried.

Let’s change that. We can help you to get a site that delivers profits for your business and do everything that you hoped it would do and churn out sales and leads 24 hours a day.

TURN YOUR SITE INTO AN AUTOMATIC, NON-STOP, 24/7 LEAD GENERATING MACHINE.

Recession2 This is the very first thing that you need to address.

We are deadly seriously, it is the very thing that can make a business owner’s financial dreams come true but it is the number one thing that business owners don’t do.

Unless you are a famous rock star or celebrity, the main purpose of your website is to bring in business….and that means generating leads.

Did you notice it didn’t say ‘sales’, it said leads?

Of course the ultimate objective is to make a sale, but in most cases it is highly unlikely that somebody is going to visit your site for the first time and make a purchase.

To begin with, you need to engage with your visitor, building a relationship with them and gradually generating the lead.  Lead generation is the lifeblood of any business that sells a product or a service. You are going to make many more sales if you capture the lead and nurture it before you get the sale.

There are so many reasons why a visitor may not be quite ready to buy your product when they visit your website.

•          They might be in research mode.

•          They might be comparing solutions or prices

•          They might not trust you yet

•          They might not have the money at the moment.

Whatever the reason, you need to make sure you engage them before they leave your site; otherwise they will be lost to you forever.

This involves encouraging them to leave their name and email details with you before they go.  One great way to do this is by offering a free download, newsletter or special report in return for their name and email address.

People are always happy to receive gifts.  It gives them a perfect opportunity to get a taste of what you can offer them before they buy anything from you. If you are willing to give them an attractive offer that they cannot refuse they will come back and do business with you.

The key to offering free stuff is that it has to be of value to them. Don’t just offer them junk. If they like what you give them their natural inclination will be to come back to you and buy something to return the favor.

So what can you offer?

An eBook.

When you produce a short downloadable book that you can give away for free, your potential customer will have valuable information at their fingertips. It gives them the opportunity to get a sneak peak at what kind of company you are and you might be able to help them in other areas.

A Guide

Give them a step by step booklet that can answer questions that they might have regarding your products or services. If for example you sell carpets and flooring why not give them a guide to help them match up the kind of flooring they should choose for their needs, or a guide that explains the various kinds of flooring available.

An eCourse

An ecourse is simply a series of around 6 or 7 emails on a specific subject which are delivered over a specific period of time. You might think this sounds like too much trouble to go to and isn’t worth it but you would be wrong. Think about it for a moment. You will get a rare opportunity to interact with a potential client for 6 or 7 weeks. You not only get the chance to let them see that you are an expert in your field but the prospect to build up a rapport with them. Each email will bring them closer to doing business with you.

Recession3

In this instance, giving something away for free is not a bad thing. In reality, it is a huge investment because in return for your efforts, you will get your visitor’s name and email address to continue to communicate with them.

If you didn’t do that, they might have visited your site and left. Even if they liked what they saw and planned to come back at a later date they might have forgotten about you, or been distracted and wooed by another site instead.

A word of warning though:

When the customer leaves their name and address with you, they have entrusted you with something special, private and important. It is vital you never abuse that trust by spamming them. Your aim is not to annoy or upset them but to build up a relationship in order to get them to buy from you.

GIVE YOUR ‘PRETTY’ WEB SITE A MAKEOVER BY GIVING IT SUPER POWERS

Recession4 If you want to turn your website into an automatic marketing, lead generating machine to get you lots of extra sales then you are going to have to give it a makeover. The last thing any business wants is to invest a lot of money in creating a pretty web site that looks good but just sits there and doesn’t do anything.

Your site needs to be given super powers to turn it from a very pretty but useless website into something that is going to earn you a lot of money.

Don’t think we are condemning good looking sites. Of course your site needs be well designed. It has to look professional and it should be visually appealing. But at the end of the day it should never be style over substance. It needs to be functional and work for you 24 hours a day, churning out leads and converting those leads to sales….otherwise what is the point?

All the fancy whistles and bells might impress your friends and family but they are not the ones you are selling to. If you site looks good but doesn’t convert visitors into customers all it does is show that you care more about what your website looks like and not what your customer really needs.

Design or Redesign Your Website to Be Marketing Focused With a Call to Action on Every Page

To convert visitors to sales, you need to have a ‘Call to Action’ on every page.

The goal of your site is get visitors off the fence and take some sort of immediate action.

What you need are prospects, but not just any prospects. You need qualified prospects, prospects who are interested enough in what you have to offer to take action, to learn more about your offer, to call you, or place an order and to do it now! That is why your site needs to be marketing-focused.

Your website needs to tell visitors what to do.

•          If you want them to sign up for your newsletter or free report then tell them that they need to enter their name and email address.

•          If you want them to call you for a free quote, then tell them and make sure that your number is right there for them to see.

•          If you want them to take advantage of a special offer then tell them the reason why they need to do it right now (the offer is only valid for a certain time or you only have a specific number in stock)

Your website should never be passive, so they visit and then move on. On every page there should be an instruction or sales button. A ‘Call To Action’ (C.T.A) is simply a strong suggestion to get your visitor to take your desired action.  C.T.A’s can be as simple as ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Add To Cart’.

If your site is just sitting there in cyberspace doing nothing, that is a wasted use of your most valuable asset.

Most business owners, and sadly the majority of the web design firms, don’t understand that a website isn’t a brochure.  To maximize sales and get your website working for you it needs to be a marketing vehicle and should be designed to be pro-active in generating more leads, more sales and more profits.

It should never, ever just sit there doing nothing!

POSITION YOUR WEBSITE AND GOOGLE PLUS LOCAL PAGE AT THE TOP OF GOOGLE’S SEARCH RESULTS

Recession5 We find too many businesses switch off as soon as the words Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are mentioned.

We see their eyes glaze over and they just don’t want to know.

Just in case you are not familiar with the term, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of maximizing the visibility of your site to the search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing, which find and show your site to people searching on the internet for the type of products or services that you provide.

Search Engine Optimization is vital for your business. What you want is for your listing to be among the first that someone sees when they go to Google and type in your search term and location (i.e.: Plumber in Birmingham).

To have the biggest impact on your sales and profits, you need to be on the 1st page of the results presented to your potential clients.

The reason is simple: Over 95% of your prospects will never go beyond page 1 of the search results.  

Being found on the first page of the search engines has never been more important than it is today.

•          90% of online commercial searches result in local offline purchases.

•          61% of all local searches result in a purchase.

Finding a local business today is almost ALWAYS done online. People have thrown away their Yellow Pages because all of the information that they will ever need is already in their hands on their smart phones. Almost two thirds of customers who make a local search will go on to buy a local product or service.

Thanks to Google Plus Local, businesses now have the opportunity to be more visible than ever to their local customers online…but only if they take advantage of the tools and resources provided.

This is amazing news for your business. Most people are not going to look for a local restaurant, plumber, accountant or any other local business unless they plan on using it. That means when people do a search for a product or service that you provide they are more than likely motivated and ready to buy. So the $64,000 question for you as a local business owner is this:

When Local Prospects Search For What You Sell…..Do They Find You?

If you don’t know why not see for yourself. Go to www. Google.com. Don’t put in your business name.  Try typing in something you think a potential customer would use when looking for one of your products and hit ‘Search’. Did your business come up in the Local Search Results (in spots A-G) for the keywords you entered? If your site wasn’t on page 1 of the Google then the reality is…..

Your Local Customers Won’t Find Your Business!

But do you know who they will find?  You probably saw them in the search results yourself. Yes, you’ve guessed it…..your competitors. In fact local customers will find everyone of your competitors except you.

The facts about local search are this:

  • Your clients will find your business if your local Google listing consistently appears in Google Plus Local search results.
  • If you are not there, your clients will find your competition instead. You won’t be found and you won’t get the business.
  • Your competitors will sweeping up all of the business if you are not ranking. Those are sales that you could be getting.

If you are NOT ranking at the top of the ‘Local Results’ you could potentially be losing out on thousands of extra sales.

TIME TO TAKE ACTION

Recession6 The only way you can be sure to crush your competition and get your local Google listings consistently appearing in the local results for your top keywords is to work with somebody who knows what they are doing.

Online marketing is a full time job. If you are busy running your bricks and mortar business it is not really something that you can learn in your spare time for a few hours per week.

That is why it is critical for your business that you work with someone who knows exactly what they are doing and knows how to take your local business and market it online.

You currently have 3 options:

Option one:

  • You can spend hours and hours trying to figure all of this stuff out on your own.
  • You waste money in the process if you don’t do it correctly.
  • You waste a huge of amount of your valuable time…time that you will never get back…if it doesn’t work.
  • You get to deal with the stress and frustration of trying to work it out.
  • You spend many hours trying to come up with the most effective keywords so that people can find you.
  • You try to submit your Google Plus Local listing yourself and try not to jeopardize the correct optimization of the page.

Option Two:

  • You do nothing!
  • You continue to do what you have always done, despite the fact that your clients are almost all online now.
  • You let your competitors take business away from because they are going online but you aren’t.

Option Three:

  • Contact our company and let us do everything for you to turn your business into a market leader.
  • Instead of trying to figure it all out yourself, use our company services. That is what we are here for – to make sure you cash in by getting all of the extra sales that you are missing out on right now.
  • We will do everything we can to increase your online presence.

What we can do for you

  • We will make your company more visible on the internet so that when people search for the products or services that you promote, you will be found.
  • This involves getting you top rankings in Google Plus Local and in Google’s regular search results.
  • We take your local business listing information and submit it everywhere that is relevant and important to get you top listings.

Among the Online Tasks that We Can Perform:

  • Design or redesign your website to be marketing-focused and search engine friendly, with calls to action on every page so that your website works for you and encourages visitors to take whatever action you want them to take.
  • We will turn your site into an automatic, 24/7 lead generating machine that collects leads and follows them up, even if you are sleeping, on vacation, spending time with your family or just busy concentrating on working in your bricks and mortar business.
  • Using our specialized knowledge about local Search Engine Optimization, we can position your site highly on both Google Plus Local and Google searches.

If you want your business to be an industry leader and get the extra sales that will be yours when you have a strong online presence, but don’t know where to start, then please call us today or visit our website.

Smartphone Use For Online Shopping

Consumers will be using their smartphones more for finding store locations as well as tablets to shop and browse this holiday, according to a report from Deloitte.

Deloitte’s 2013 Annual Holiday Survey found that optimism and increased confidence about the economy will result in higher spending this holiday season, with a 12 percent increase in overall intended spending. Consumers who will use smartphones for holiday shopping expect to spend $480 on gifts and $1,494 total, and omnichannel consumers plan to spend $558 on gifts and $1,643 total on mobile, in-store and online.

“Our data showed that smartphone penetration is now over 60 percent,” said Alison Paul, vice chairman and U.S. retail & distribution leader at Deloitte, New York. “Of those smartphone users nearly seven out of ten said that they were going to use their phone during their holiday shopping.

“Mostly, it’s not for buying things through their phone,” she said. “But they use it for finding a store location or checking on prices and getting more product information.

“With our past research, this shows that the mobile phone shopper, the person that’s walking through the aisle with a smartphone is actually 14 percent more likely to purchase. We believe that this is a good thing for retailers, and they should not resist. This is a good sign that a shopper is engaged and ready to make a purchase.”

The Deloitte survey polled a national sample of 5,018 consumers between Sept. 13-23, 2013.

Omnichannel shoppers

The amount that omnichannel shoppers intend to spend this holiday season is 76 percent higher than those who only shop in bricks-and-mortar stores. This points to a huge opportunity for retailers to address cross-screen, cross-channel audiences.

This year’s survey also marks the first time that the Internet ranks No. 1 for the venue that consumers expect to shop.

Forty-seven percent of respondents expect to shop online, 44 percent in discount/value department stores and 28 percent in traditional departments stores.

Among those shopping online, 38 percent said they plan to spend the majority online.

Out of the respondents that own smartphones, 68 percent will use them for holiday shopping. When asked what they will use smartphones for, 56 percent responded to get store locations, 54 percent to check/compare prices, 47 percent to get product information, 45 percent to shop/browse online, 44 percent to read reviews, 40 percent to check product availability in-store and 36 percent to get/use coupons, discounts and sale information.

Additionally, 32 percent said they would use it to scan bar codes for product information, 31 percent to make a purchase online, 29 percent to access social networks and 24 percent to get text messages or exclusive deals from retailers.

Out of the respondents that own tablets, 63 percent plan to use it for holiday shopping.

When asked what they will use smartphones for, 69 percent said to shop/browse online, 58 percent to check/compare prices, 58 percent to get product information, 57 percent to read reviews and 52 percent to make a purchase online.

Additionally, 47 percent would use their tablet to check product availability in-store, 44 percent to get store locations, 30 percent to access social networks and 30 percent to get/use coupons, discounts and sale information.

Forty-five percent of respondents said they plan to use social media as a part of their holiday shopping process. Some of the reasons cited were to research gift ideas, find discounts, read reviews and browse products.

In-store experience

The Deloitte survey also found that 22 percent of the respondents would be more likely to purchase in-store from retailer that offered self-service/mobile checkout. Of those 22 percent, 17 percent would use the retailer’s mobile app to checkout and 13 percent would use mobile payments, while 60 percent would use price checkers and self-checkout payment lanes.

Fourteen percent would be more likely to purchase from a retailer that offered Wi-Fi for comparison shopping.

Another interesting find in the survey was that 73 percent said they will be influenced by coupons and promotional offers. Additionally, 71 percent are looking for free shipping, 47 percent for free returns, 44 percent for price matching, 36 percent for extended holiday hours and 35 percent for the ability to order online and pick up in-store.

“There’s no overstating what a giant influction point this is for bricks-and-mortar retailers,” Ms. Paul said. “They are really challenged to appeal to consumers in new and different ways than just being the place where someone transacts because you can do that anywhere now.

“What you see the most successful retailers doing is offering unique products that you can only get through them, particularly if it’s a short-lived product that’s only available during the holidays,” she said. “I think they are really beefing up the in-store experience, by making it more visually appealing and engaging.

“The third is to take sales employees and turn them into brand advocates. They are knowledgeable, they are connected to the Internet and they’re knowledgeable about the stock enterprise-wide not just in the store. These are three ways that retailers can leverage the asset that is the store and not let it become just one more location that is not very interesting to the consumer.”

Mobile

QR Code Generator

I paid £240 to have this coded so that you can create unlimited QR Codes for your marketing…for FREE

  1. Leave the encoding as UTF-8 (unless you have a specific reason to change it) (Step 1)
  2. Select the size your want your QR code to be
  3. Select the correction level from Low to High, to determine how much back up data you want in the code – the higher the correction level, the more reliable the code, but the more “crowded” your code will look and potentially the less information your code will be able to transmit
  4. Select what you want the QR code to do on your prospect’s smartphone (Step 2)
  5. Fill in the details
  6. Press the “Generate QR Code” button
  7. Preview Your Code
  8. Then either copy the link or download the image file to use in your marketing
Step 1
Encoding: Size: X Correction level:

Step 2
Text

How Online Customer Reviews Can Impact Your Local Business

Owning a business is no easy feat; mainly due to the fact that you have to constantly cater to the needs of your customers. Customer loyalty is one of the most important aspects of making a business successful because, without customers, businesses simply wouldn’t exist.
Regardless of the type of local business you own, the most important thing you need is a positive reputation. There are a lot of businesses out there that gain and lose customers on a daily basis. The loss or the gain of customers largely depends upon the reputation a business has in many cases.
The internet has allowed people to become vocal with their opinions about just about everything – including how they feel about companies they do business with.
People leave online reviews for the whole world to see about businesses and the products and services they offer.  This is why it is crucial that you stay on top of what is being said about your company online.
When it comes to having a positive online presence, your company will reap the benefits no matter how large or small it is. In other words, every satisfied customer you have will bring you even more customers.
On the flip side, if your online presence contains some negativity, your business could be critically challenged.
Due to the internet, no business can dream of creating a positive image for itself unless most of their customers are happy. Local business owners are still adapting to the concept of “online reputation management.” However, it is becoming more and more apparent that in order to make a name for your company in your local area, you have to receive beneficial online feedback from your local customers.
People turn to the internet when it comes to finding local businesses that have products and services they need.  If your business has received positive customer reviews from your local customers, then other people will read those reviews and become interested in buying your services and products as well.
All feedback should be welcome as long as it is legit. Getting feedback from your unhappy customers is just as important. Receiving negative feedback will allow you to improve the operations of your business and correct the shortcomings it may have. Honest customer reviews will provide you with some real insight regarding your products and services, as well as your customer service.
When it comes to local business, valuable customer reviews play an important part in local online marketing. We all know that the internet has become an important source when people want information. When searching for a service or a product, people make use of search engines. These search engines display different links. Most people usually stop at the results near the top of the page.
By receiving online customer reviews on your site or in other directories, you will be able to rank higher in the search engine results. The more reviews you have, the more people can learn about your business through the internet.
Furthermore, a nice amount of customer reviews can also help put your potential customers at ease. It’s comforting to see that other people in your area have dealt with a business before you decide to give them a try.
As mentioned above, the advent of the internet and other social media technology has made it easy for consumers to share their thoughts about companies. Some local business owners might be afraid of this development because it gives consumers the power to say whatever they want about a business and it’s posted for the whole world to see.
However, if business owners take the initiative to monitor the top channels, then they can transform everything into positive advertising.
When people see advertisements on television, in newspapers or listen to them on the radio, they know that these advertisements are paid by the business itself; and that’s why they portray such a positive image.
However, most people today are more interested in knowing about personal opinions that aren’t biased, which is why they turn to online reviews first to find the information they seek.
Online reviews are written by real people that potential customers can relate to. This is why consumers are more influenced by online customer reviews than by advertisements they see all around them.
According to a study (http://www.searchinfluence.com/2012/02/importance-of-online-reviews/), the most trusted forms of advertising are the recommendations made by other people, followed by the customer reviews posted online. This study was conducted a few years ago, and the trend still hasn’t changed. People strongly take online reviews into account when they want to make a ‘buying’ decision. That’s why you need to receive customer reviews and fully manage your reputation online.
You can think of every customer as a brand ambassador who can express positive or negative opinions about your business. That’s why customer satisfaction should be among your top priorities.
However, if someone has a negative opinion about your business, then you need to reach out to him or her and resolve the issue they have. Feedback is very important to know how well your business is catering to the needs of your customers and what can be improved.
In the business world, reputation is everything. If you have a positive reputation, then you will be able to attract customers. But if there’s negativity surrounding your company, and you are unable or unwilling to do anything about it, then people won’t be interested in doing business with you.
According to the findings of the Local Consumer Review Survey 2012 (http://searchengineland.com/study-72-of-consumers-trust-online-reviews-as-much-as-personal-recommendations-114152), it was reported that there’s a positive shift in the number of people who trust and appreciate the reviews that are posted online for them to read.
In the survey, consumers were asked about the thing they trusted the most when making a decision to buy something. 72% of the consumers said that they trusted online customer reviews as much as they trusted personal recommendations. 52% of the consumers said that positive online customer reviews urges them to use local businesses.
According to the study, 15% of the consumers said that they didn’t use the internet to find a local business, while 16% said that they used the internet every week in order to search for a local business. 58% of the consumers trust businesses having a positive online presence and 52% of the consumers are likely to refer a local business based on the positive reviews posted online.

How to Encourage Your Customers to Leave Online Reviews

Due to the fact that most consumers say that online reviews help them make purchasing decisions, you may be wondering how to get your customers to write honest, positive reviews.
The amount of reviews your company has counts a lot. Many search engine results display business links in a descending order when it comes to reviews. This means that the businesses that have more reviews are displayed at the top, followed by the ones having fewer reviews.
That’s why the more reviews you have, the better. However, you have to be extremely careful in your approach.
Businesses who aggressively solicit their customers for reviews can turn their customers off and could result in receiving some negative reviews instead.
Also avoid posting fake reviews at all costs. There are a lot of companies out there that post fake reviews on their sites in order to fool their customers. Fake reviews won’t get you very far and many of your potential customers can spot fake reviews from a mile away.
They are more likely to respond to genuine, valid reviews – even if there are a few negative ones in there, which is to be expected. No one is perfect.
There are a lot of ways you can encourage your customers to write honest reviews of your services or products …
Here are some quick tips that will help you get more reviews from your customers:

Make it EASY for Your Customers to Write Reviews

If you really want your customers to leave reviews for your business, make it easy for them by taking steps to help them do so. For instance, you can provide links to your review pages on your website. This way, your customers can easily go directly from your website to your review pages and leave reviews.
You can even help your customers out by giving them some tips on how to write customer reviews and where they can post them. This is the perfect way to get them started.
You can also show the actual reviews and testimonials on your official website, which can also help to encourage others to leave a review. Not only that, but this will also lead to more conversions for your business.
If you choose to work with a professional Online Reputation Management company, they will help you market your reviews to their fullest potential.

Ask Customers Who Come Into Your Establishment for Reviews

When your customers come into your establishment, be sure to ask them for a review in some form or fashion. For instance, you could ask them on the back of receipts, on menus, or simply have your staff ask for them.
Leaving pamphlets or postcards with your customers asking for reviews is another approach that works well.
You can also have an “onsite review station” setup in your establishment where your customers can leave reviews for you right on the spot. There’s nothing better than getting a review from a satisfied customer who just purchased from you.

Show Your Customers HOW to Leave Reviews

Consumers today are extremely busy; so much so that many still do not take the time out to leave reviews for products and services they love. Not only that, some consumers don’t want to take the time out to figure out where to leave reviews and how to submit them.
Therefore, you can help them out by giving them something that will show them how to leave reviews for your business. Doing so could boost your credibility as well as profits.

Ask for Customer Reviews in Your Emails & Direct Mail

If you send out emails via an autoresponder to your customer list, you should ask them to leave reviews for your company from time to time. Many customers may intend to do so, but neglect to do it for some reason or another.
So a friendly reminder every now and then is just what you need to get your customers engaged with your business and tell the world how much they love you.
The same applies for your direct mail campaigns. Simply reminding consumers that you exist could be enough to urge them to leave a review for your company – especially if you ask them to do so.

Utilize the Power of Social Media

Since you’re already connecting with some of your customers via social media, it is the perfect place to ask for reviews and feedback. Customers who are involved in social media like to “socialize” with the businesses they follow.
On sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and others, it is fairly simple to shoot a message to your audience and many are likely to respond. Therefore, take advantage of this opportunity by asking them for reviews and feedback often.

Encourage Them to Put Their Reviews on Multiple Sites

Some of your customers probably leave reviews on one review site, whether it’s Google+ Local, Yahoo Local, Yelp or others. However, it always works in your business’s favor to have as many reviews across multiple review platforms as possible.
Not only will this increase your online visibility, but it should increase the number of customers coming through your doors. If consumers find that your business has a lot of great feedback on multiple review sites, it will boost your trust and credibility tremendously.

How Negative Reviews Play a Part in Your Struggle to Generate New Customers

As stated earlier, having some negative reviews is part of the game. In fact, consumers might begin to suspect something fishy if all they see are good or ‘five’ star reviews.
No matter how great your products and services are, there will always be at least one unhappy customer that will leave an online review.
The problem is that a lot of business owners ignore negative reviews, which can be harmful for your company’s reputation. Not responding could give the indication that you simply do not care about that unhappy customer’s concern. If you do, show the world that you care by responding to their online complaint in a positive manner.
If you receive a negative review, do not argue with the reviewer. Yes, a negative review can decrease your online reputation. However, you will only make it worse by picking a fight with the reviewer. Arguing with an unhappy customer may lead to them spreading even more negativity about y our company, which leads to even more chaos.
On the other hand, giving a positive response shows that you are open to criticism, willing to hear what the reviewer has to say, and willing to correct the problem. By responding in a positive manner, you will also encourage positivity from other customers.

How to Build and Maintain a Positive Online Reputation

Every local business owner wants to receive as many customers as possible. In order for you to attract potential clients, you need to make sure that your business has a positive reputation. We all know that the internet has allowed people to share their thoughts with almost everyone around the globe.
People make use of internet search engines when they want to decide about buying a product or service. A lot of businesses run advertisements in order to attract potential customers and attempt to create a positive reputation.
However, trends have shown that potential customers are more influenced by what other people have to say about a business and the recommendations they make.
The internet has become ‘social’ and that’s why everyone is interested in sharing their opinions. They might write an online review on a review site, or they might voice their opinions on various social-networking sites.
Just as your customers are utilizing the internet to voice their opinions, your business has to make use of the internet in order to build and maintain a great online reputation.
Simply put, the more positive your reputation, the more potential customers you will be able to attract.
Here are some tips about how you can build and maintain a positive online reputation:

1. Monitoring the Customer Review sites

You can think of customer review sites as “local directories” that enable people to express their opinions regarding various businesses present in the directories.
People utilize these directories to find businesses that are able to provide them with the products or services they want. They can browse through the various businesses and many make their decisions based on the customer reviews.
Some of the sites that are key players include: Yelp!, Google Local, City Search and Yahoo Local. There are also directories that only cater to specific business industries like local restaurants, dentists, lawyers, etc. Being an active part of these sites can help you build a positive reputation.

Some of the things you can do in order make use of these review sites are:
  • Register Your Business
First thing first, you need to create accounts on the most popular local review sites and directories so your business can be included in the listings.
If you find that your business is already present in the listings, you still have some work to do. Some directory listings post incorrect information about businesses, which could impact your visibility.
Therefore, you have to take control of your listings by completing them, claiming them, and verifying them.
Make sure your profiles are completely filled out with accurate information, add images to your profile, and add any additional beneficial links that can attract potential customers.
  • Respond to Reviews
As stated earlier, don’t start to panic if you happen to find a negative review regarding your business on these review sites. People have a right to their opinions and all we can do is respect them. The best thing to do is try to handle the situation in a proper, positive manner.
If the complaint is legit, be sure to post how you plan to correct it.
  • Form a Bond with Customers
Not only is it important to respond to negative reviews; it’s equally important to respond to positive reviews. Doing so creates somewhat of a “bond” with your happy customers and will keep them coming back.
Responding to positive reviews also shows consumers that you really do care about what your customers think and are grateful for their feedback.
  • Monitor and Keep Track of What is Being Said
In order to see when and where people mention your business, you need to monitor everything. There are many ways to monitor what is being said about your business. You can simply “Google” your business’s name or you can even set up alerts. With alerts, you will be able to monitor when someone writes a review on a site or mentions you online.
By knowing about the reviews that people write online, you will be able to reach out to those reviewers and interact with them immediately. If someone writes a negative review online, you will be able to resolve the issue quickly with them.

2. Blogging

Creating a blog can also help you build a positive online reputation. By creating a blog you can provide more information about your company to your customers. You can share images and other types of useful content and information with your customers.
Having a blog will also allow you to provide a place where your customers can ask questions, and you can provide them with the answers relating to your business.
You can provide links to positive reviews written by customers on other sites. Updating your blog consistently will also help your business to rank high in search engine results.

3. Creating Positive Content

The internet search engines are the key players you should know about when it comes to managing your online image. When consumers perform searches for local products and services, the results presented at the top of search engine results receive more traffic, and that’s why your business needs to rank high.
The more frequent, unique content, the higher you will rank. This is why it is critical that you create positive content about your business consistently and make it rank high in the search engine results.
Different sources like customer review sites, social-networking sites and blogs can help you build a positive reputation for your business. However, your work won’t end here.
Even if you use these sources in order to build a positive reputation for your business, you will need to work hard in order to maintain it. The biggest challenge which you will have to face is the negative online reviews you will receive. A negative review can come as a shock to most business owners.
However, it happens to a lot of businesses, so there’s no reason to become upset by it. By remaining calm you will be able to respond to negative reviews in a proper manner.
When it comes to maintaining a positive reputation, the manner you reply to your customer is very important. If you are able to show your customers that you value their opinions, and you are able to provide them with a sincere reply, it will be very beneficial for your business.
The most important thing you need to keep in mind is to always think of the future. Before you do something, stop for a second and access how such an action will help your business. Will it be beneficial for you in the long run?
Taking part in customer review sites, social-networking sites or creating a blog might not benefit you immediately. However, all of these things will help you in the time to come. You will be able to build a positive reputation for your business. By working hard and monitoring what customers say about your business and replying to them in an appropriate manner, you will be able to maintain a positive reputation online for your local business.

Conclusion

Though all of this might seem easy to do, making use of all the sources in a proper and effective manner is not easy. The internet is vast, and that’s why it needs to be used effectively in order to develop a positive presence of your local business.
By receiving positive online customer reviews, the reputation of your company can flourish. It will tell potential customers that other people prefer your business over your competition and this will lead to an increase in sales conversions.
Monitoring the top channels and keeping track of the customers who leave reviews requires practice and expertise. That’s why if you want to make sure that your business is being promoted in an effective manner on the internet; you need to make use of an effective online reputation management service.

SEO For Local Business Owners

Introduction

Many people get online to search for information about LOCAL products and services every single day. This presents a major opportunity for ANY local business owner to put themselves right in front of those who are looking for what they have to offer.
As a fellow small business owner, I understand that your business is your livelihood. So you must be constantly searching for new ways to improve and take your business to the next level.

If you are a “local” business, this can pose a challenge as reaching out to new local customers can be intimidating… but not impossible!

We all know that the Internet is a powerful marketing tool for major corporations and online personal businesses.

However, it is important to note that internet marketing for a small local-based business is just as lucrative as any other form of marketing; perhaps it can even increase your business more than you would think.

Businesses that rely on traditional advertising methods such as newspapers, the Yellow pages, and TV ads are seeing some major challenges today. These forms of advertising are just not as effective as they used to be.

This is due to one fact: People go to the internet first when looking for products and services – that includes LOCAL products and services.

Taking your business online may seem like a daunting challenge, but it’s a challenge that you cannot afford to ignore. Understanding how to market your local business online is extremely important, and can help you keep your losses to a minimum while maximizing your revenue potential.

Perhaps one of the most powerful and effective ways to boost your business is by having a website that is capable of generating new viewers and converting them into paying customers.

The best and most inexpensive way to do this is through the utilization of quality Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Once you do this, beware:
Your business will probably gain more attention than ever before.

What Is SEO and How Does it Work?

Getting started online is one of the hardest things most local business owners ever have to go through. SEO and website design and social media… all of this seems like a foreign language to them.

But in today’s high-tech world, businesses must keep up and conform to the demands of their customers and potential customers. People go straight to the internet to find what they need these days, so if your business does not have a strong presence there, you are missing out on some serious profits.

You’re probably thinking, “Well, I already have a website.”

Having a beautiful website is not enough… If your website is lost in the jungle where no one can see it, it’s simply a waste of time, money, and effort.

Your website needs traffic. And the most effective ways to get that traffic is through SEO.

Whether you decide to perform SEO yourself or hire someone to help you out, you will play a huge role in the outcome. While you can hire someone to create and design a website for you, only you can tailor the content to your business and the demands of your prospects and customers.

What is SEO?

First, it is important to understand precisely what SEO really is. SEO stands for search engine optimization. Most business owners who are not internet-savvy might ask, “What does my business have to do with a search engine?”

Surprisingly enough, your business has plenty to do with search engines and the results that they produce.

Think of a term you are looking to find out more about. You will head on over to your favorite search engine, be it Google, Bing or even Yahoo, and you will type in that word in the search box.

Hundreds of pages come up that have your keyword in them and are most related to your search. From there you can search through each of these sites to find the information that you are looking for.

The idea is for your business website to land on the first page of results. The more often your site shows up as a result on the first page, the more likely you will gain business from internet users.

SEO refers to the manner in which you can optimize your website so that it gains higher search engine rankings when keywords related to your business are entered into the search box.

There are many different ways to get your website on the first page of search engines. However SEO is one of the easiest and most affordable means to do so.

But SEO does take time and you have to be patient.

Although some businesses will see quick SEO results when they start, there are some businesses that take a little bit longer to see results. This is because SEO depends on a LOT of factors such as location and industry.

If your business has a lot of competition, chances are that it can take a little time to out-rank them. But once you do, you will see the amazing impact it can have on your business.

How Does SEO Work?

Understanding how SEO works is important to every business professional who is seeking to use their website to draw customers.

When implementing SEO, all of the content and information on your site is closely related to your business, your products, and your services – at least it should be.

When a search engine user types a term into a search engine, a list of websites containing those terms come up. If you use those specific words effectively throughout your website, it will show up in the results as well.

The problem is that you may be way down on page 25 of the results. As you know, most web searchers don’t go past page one when looking for a product or service.

So page one is where you want to be. That can be accomplished with proper SEO. But why stop at page one? Most businesses today strive for the FIRST POSITION on page one… This is where you REALLY want to be!

You’re probably wondering, “How can I get there?”

SEO is based on a mixture of “on-page” and “off-page” techniques that should be followed in order to increase your webpage results rankings.

SEO is based on the following 4 main principles:

  1. Identify the Right Keywords: Identifying the right keywords is the most important step of Search Engine Optimization. You have to figure out the right set of keywords so that you get the desired traffic to your page. Your keyword list can be created by you or they can be obtained from online service companies.
  2. Optimize Your Website: Make sure your website has keyword-rich page titles and metatags. Also keep in mind that the search engine bots cannot view the images and videos that you have on your site; they can only read the text. So choose the right text content for your website – and use a lot of it! You want to be certain that your content is appropriate and strongly relates to your business. Your content should be structured in a way that captures some of the local keyword terms that your local prospects may type into the search engines.
  3. Backlinks: Backlinks are the inbound links that are directed to your website. You want to get links from sites with high-authority as well as sites that are relevant to your niche. It is a form of determining how many websites think that your site is important. The more ‘important’ your site is, the better rankings you will have. The better rankings you have, the more visitors you will have.
  4. Site Structure: From an SEO perspective, the site structure is also a factor to determine the rankings of the website. The structure of your site is based on how easy it is to navigate and the way that you utilize the content you are sharing with your viewers.

As simple as it sounds it is extremely important to remember SEO when you are creating content for your website. Think of the terms that your prospects will be searching for online.

For instance, if you have a plumbing company, don’t fill your website up with information about electricity. That’s unless you want to attract consumers who are looking for electricians.

The content of your website should always be centered around your specific product or service; especially if you are planning on using free SEO as a form of marketing your business online.
How SEO Can Work for Your Local Business?

Many businesses use the power of SEO to promote themselves in the virtual world, but there are many local businesses that are still struggling to figure it out.

It is crucial that you use SEO for marketing your local business. It will help improve the visibility of your website in major search engines, as well as local search engines.

SEO is an art; you’ll need to understand the way search engines work and use that knowledge to rank your site higher.

As a small business owner, you probably thrive on your regular customers who have known and worked with for years. You see them as your main source of income.

But is it really smart to stop there? Don’t you need new customers to keep your business flowing and growing?

A lot of businesses only get new customers by referral, drive-bys, or sheer luck. They are not actively doing something that will steadily generate a new stream of customers.

This will not cut it today where customers are shopping smarter and wiser; and it usually starts online. So it is time to market your business using newer, more innovative means – such as using your website – to draw customer attention.

When you paid money to have your website created, you wanted a new, powerful marketing tool that would help take your business to new levels.
You may be disappointed in the fact that you haven’t seen those results yet.

But with a little SEO, you can finally start to generate the type of traffic you need.

Local businesses that have a vibrant online presence can have all the prospects that they need from the internet because potential local customers are browsing through search engines for products and services every day.

SEO for Service Professionals

If your local business offers services to consumers, such as a roofing company, a party planning firm, or even a catering company, you have to think about how you can attract visitors to your site and make them want to call you before anyone else.

You especially want to speak to the specific services you offer and anything that you have received “specialized training” in on your site. This is optimization. This way, you have a better chance of capturing new visitors who are looking EXACTLY for what you have to offer.

Your website must be comprehensive; one that explains your services, your rates, customer testimonials, any other information that your target market would find useful.

Many businesses in the service industry also find it beneficial to include a little information about what their mission and the quality of the services that they provide.

No matter what type of information you include on your site, be sure to include keyword terms that are likely to be typed in by your target market.

If you have a house cleaning service, and you operate only within a certain city, you will want to tailor your information to “house cleaning” and in your city.

You can include a little bit of information about the products you use or the process you use when you do certain cleaning jobs – just to give your visitors extra information that will sell them on your services.

However, the basis of your information should always be directly related to house cleaning and the city that you work in. When done properly, your website will show in the results when potential clients type in a variety of related terms such as ‘house cleaning in Los Angeles’ or ‘Los Angeles housekeeping.”

Specifics as to the type of services that you offer are also useful in SEO. For example, if you own a window replacement service company you would want to include specifics on the types of windows you replace.

So if you offer “windshield” replacement, use this keyword terms throughout your site instead of focusing only on “window” replacement. This will allow those who are searching for windshield replacement in particular to find your website as well – which is extremely targeted.

SEO for Product Sales Professionals

The product sales industry differs from the service industry in that you are not going to be able to list all the products that you sell on your website, unless you are a smaller specialty store. Therefore, it is important that you speak to your particular niche and include information on that in your website.

If you own a bookstore, there is no way that you can include every book that you sell on your website. So, your next best option is to include information on your site about the genres of books, or perhaps the quality of these books.

As always it is important to include the city that your bookstore is located in, so that you gain the customers in your area who are searching for the products that you offer. You want to include information that is revealing to your prospects and identifies your store as a place that they would like to purchase their next novel from.

Now, let’s say you are visiting a new town and are really looking for a great coffee shop nearby. You would go to your favorite search engine and type in the town you are in and the term “coffee shop.”

The results yielded will be specific to that town and specific to the type of business you are looking for, which in this case is a coffee shop.

On your results page, you will have a list of coffee shop websites in that town. If you are a coffee shop owner, you would want to make sure that your website is properly optimized to capture terms that people will type in using your city name.

Optimizing your service or sales website with SEO content is a reliable way to ensure that your website will obtain maximum exposure on even some of the most popular search engine sites. Creating content that is relevant to your consumers is crucial to success in this type of marketing endeavor.

Creating an SEO-Friendly Website

If you are just starting out in online marketing, the first place you want to start is with the creation of an SEO-friendly website. The more your website appears on search engine results pages the more traffic to your site, which means more local traffic to your business.

Therefore, your website not only has to be functional and appealing, but the content has to be unique and extremely relative to your business, product or service.
Website Structures

The first portion of your website to take a look at for SEO quality is the actual structure itself. For instance, you probably use tabs or categories to list your services or products. You can use optimized keywords to label your tabs and categories.

When you create buttons or links you can also use keywords that will be picked up by the search engines.

Take the example of the coffee shop again…

If you want to make your website flow better and more user-friendly, you could add a tab for the different types of coffee or espressos you offer. You could also add another tab for the dessert pastries you make.

The point is that these “tabs” could be terms and keywords that you know coffee shop seekers would enter into a search engine.

The idea is to use your entire website, not just the articles or blogs posted, as a means to appear on a search engine results page.

If you use high-quality, relevant keywords and content on your website, your business will likely see an increase in popularity amongst online consumers.

However, it is important to note that “keyword optimization” does not mean “keyword stuff” – there’s a difference. You can “over-do” the process of using keywords in your website as well.

The search engines can identify this type of behavior and they don’t like it – meaning it hurts your rankings instead of help.

There’s a fine balance that you have to use when incorporating keywords into your website, so do so with caution if you want to see results.

Using SEO Quality Keywords

Keep in mind that when you are creating content for your website, it is important to include SEO quality keywords. A keyword, as mentioned earlier, is the term that is used to refer to words that are most likely to be entered into a search engine.

These are the words that are going to determine whether or not your website pops up on search engine results pages.

While there is no magical list of keywords for your business, but they are fairly simple to determine based on your business itself and the searches that others frequently make. However, we will discuss keywords further in depth in a later chapter.
Follow the Rules!

There are also some simple rules which you should consider while you are designing and adding content to your website if you really want to get the best results:

Rule #1: When you create your website, make sure that you comply with W3C Standards. Use CSS and XHTML for page mark up, as it will make the pages light and easier to download, keep in mind that no one wants to wait for your site when they can download the competition much faster. If at all possible, try to make your website accessible via smartphone, as many people now surf through their phones. The ability to access your site via mobile phone is important for those who search for local products and services while out on the go; these are the new customers that you want to generate.

Rule#2: If possible, try to put the keywords in your domain name URL; for instance: http://www.newyorkcitylocalcarseller.com. Don’t make it too bulky or complicated and make sure that your URL is related to your business. Keyword rich domain names are great for search engine optimization and tend to rank more quickly. If you already have a URL for your business, you can always create additional sites and put them up on keyword rich domains.

Rule #3: Your website should have proper content to be indexed by web bots or spiders. Try to add a sufficient amount of text to your website as the crawlers can only read text. The more content, the better.

The text on your website will be scanned over for indexing in search engines, as a method of relevance and validation. If you use images and videos on your website, be sure to name them as “keywords” so the search engines are able to read them as well.

Rule #4: Make the titles and headings of your website appealing while using keywords. The keyword should be used in the first header, which should also provide a description about the page. Your headers should be related entirely to the content of your page and to your business; otherwise you will attract the wrong visitors to your site.

Rule #5: Do not keyword-stuff your website. Make sure that the keywords look natural in the text and do not just stuff them in where they make no sense to visitors. Your keywords should be directly related to your business and should read naturally with the rest of your text.

Rule #6: If you want the search engine spiders to index your webpage, place the sitemapfile.xml at the bottom of your page.

Rule #7: Get quality backlinks to your website. A “backlink” is a link back to your website from other websites. Basically, this means putting a link to your website on other relevant websites. You should try to get high-quality, relevant backlinks from high-authority websites back to your website for the most powerful impact.

As you can see, there are several steps to ensure that your website lands on the first page of a search engine results. However, if these rules are not followed, you probably won’t get the website traffic you expect.
Developing Quality Keywords to Maximize Your Business

Now, the importance of relevant and useful keywords cannot be stressed enough when you are aiming to gain traffic and customers from search engines.

This does not mean that you obtain keywords and merely place them in every third word of every piece of website content that you have, instead you have to develop and use your keywords in a more natural and free-flowing manner.

Finding the Right Keywords – For a Price

If you are just starting out and want a little help generating keywords, there are plenty of online services that monitor the top keywords in your niche; and they are willing to share them with you for a price.

Sites like Wordtracker monitor keywords as they are entered into search engines, they then break them down into their respective niches and show you how often these words are used. This will allow you in turn to determine which ones are best suited to your business.

Their service also includes information about words that are misspelled that relate to your niche and keywords that are used less often by those in your niche. With this information you may decide to go with a keyword that is not used as often, but will wield you additional visitors.

The keywords that you obtain with a service such as this are unique and will provide you with quality traffic that will turn into sales. While this may seem easy, you have to keep in mind that this is not a free method of obtaining keywords. Also, if you are trying to stay within a budget there are plenty of other ways to obtain the best keywords for your local business.
Finding the Right Keywords- For Free

If “spending as little money as I have to” is your motto, then it is important to seek out other methods of finding the right keywords for free. One of the most useful places to do so is search engines themselves.

You can begin to enter a potential keyword and the search engines will make suggestions for related keywords as well.

Another way of developing and generating keywords is merely through a ‘play on words’. To do this, just choose a term that is related to your business and then alter that term into other terms that people might type into the search engines to find your product or service.

For instance, if you own a dog grooming business you could use a simple term like “dog grooming” and then take that term and alter it to become another keyword that you think people will search for.

In this case it might be “puppy grooming” or “grooming animals.” While these words essentially mean the same thing, you are merely expanding your possibility of obtaining more hits to your site. This might require a little bit of thinking on your part, but as an expert in your business niche it is more than possible.

Also, you can do a little homework and find out about your competition or larger name brand stores that come up on keyword searches. You want to take note of terms that pick up on your local competition and terms that don’t. That way, you can monopolize in both search engine terms.

You can also use the Google Keyword Tool, which is free, to find out what type of keywords people are typing in to search for your type of product or service.

Additionally, remember that you do not have to stick to certain keywords for an extended amount of time. If you feel like changing the content of your site to maximize on the amount of traffic that you receive feel free to do so, whatever you need to do to maximize your website and your business.

What Not to Do with Your Keywords

Once you have generated your keywords, it is important to assess how they should be used within your website. While you might be tempted to pack your site full of all the keywords that you possibly can, there are some issues with this.

Not only will your visitors not be able to comprehend what your website is trying to communicate, but they won’t be able to understand what your business is all about. Keywords used on your website should be used within informational and quality content that relates to your business and the services that you offer.

When your viewer attempts to scroll through your site and they find that it is difficult to understand they will quickly abandon it and go with the competition whose site was clear and concise about their business.

Another mistake that new internet marketers often make when utilizing keywords is that they scatter them throughout their website without any sense of organization. This too can confuse your viewers and will not generate the attention you want from a search engine.

The best option for a business professional who is attempting to generate new clients from search engines is to use their keywords in a natural and flowing manner within their website content, be it articles, headers or merely just an overview of your business.

Finally, you want to be certain that your keywords directly relate to your business and the products and services that you offer. If you sell jewelry you don’t want to use keywords that can link your site to other items, like furniture or food.

Your keywords should be clear and common terminology that the average internet user will be able to understand. Remember these are individuals who are seeking your services and may not understand the details of your business per say.

Keep in mind when you are creating your website and posting content to maximize search engine optimization that you are taking a professional, knowledgeable, and authoritative stance on your business and your niche.

All your content should be related to your business and should be properly communicated, even if you are seeking to obtain SEO. Your website can say a lot about you and the type of business that you run, so you should ensure that content is always genuine and speaks to your business.
Perfecting Your Business Listing Profiles

Part of maximizing traffic to your website from search engines involves another technique; one which is often forgotten by smaller local businesses:

Local Business Listing Profiles.

Have you ever searched for a particular type of restaurant in your community? Most of the time, if you are going to do this online you will type in a term like ‘Chinese restaurants in Dallas’.

Most search engines have taken the next step for you and created a listing of Chinese restaurant names within the city, and a map denoting their location.

These listings will typically contain the business name, their phone number, address, and in some cases even a rating from consumers who have previously purchased from or used the services of that business.

For a local business your data profile is critical to ensure that search engines give the right information to your potential clients who are at that moment searching for a local business in your niche to contact and perhaps do business with.

Information that is incomplete, wrong, or worse, not available, on your business will mean a lost opportunity. This will be another reason for a consumer to pass you by.

LocalLaunch’s RegisterLocal is a unique website as it allows businesses to create ONE master-profile and from there it is sent to all top search engines, local search engines, local directories and even Yellow Pages.

When you claim, update, and verifty your profile on sites such as this, or directly with Google or Yahoo maps, your business will come up even higher in the results for these listings.

It is a good idea to always double check periodically when you move or change your business information that you are updating your information for online searchers too.

Business data profiles are even more important for your mobile prospects and customers. More and more individuals are using the internet and apps on their cell phones to find local businesses while they are already out and about.

Each phone carrier offers various apps for their users, but regardless of what they are using your business should appear when a search is conducted… and all your information should be correct.

For instance the Yellow Book app allows users to select a type of business they are looking for as well as their zip code. Your store or business should definitely be amongst the results of apps such as these.

From your accurate business data profile, your viewers will be able to check out your website, call your store or shop, or find your address to come visit you in person. Some apps even come with maps so that they can find your business with ease.

This is perhaps one of the best, free ways that you can turn a quick internet search from a consumer into a potential new client and revenues for your business.
SEO and You

Although you may still feel a little green in the land of SEO, it is important that you work step by step to perfect your business ‘relationship’ with search engines.

You want to be certain that you are staying on top of the keywords that are working for your business and the traffic that is visiting your site. There are plenty of online software programs which can help you monitor the number of visitors to your site. However, some of these programs are not free.

You can do your own forms of traffic monitoring by asking your new customers how they heard of your business. If you hear more and more individuals speaking about your website then you are doing something right.

However, when it comes to SEO, patience is key.

SEO doesn’t happen overnight, but once it does happen, you will notice the impact. The satisfaction of increased customers, increased sales, and increased profits will be rewarding.

Make sure your website itself is equipped and ready to take on all of this newfound traffic. Now that you will have more visitors, be sure you have a strong call to action and the proper conversion tools on your website.

Depending on your type of business, it may be a good idea to put a face to your business and offer a personal profile of yourself and what makes you a qualified business professional (Hint: include SEO keywords in your biography).

Nothing is more endearing to a local community member than feeling like they can create a relationship with you and your business. This will make them more likely to do business with you, and as well as recommend your business to their friends and family.

While you may be thinking that your business is doing well enough without the use of search engine optimization, why settle? Think about all the ways that you can ensure the financial state of your business, for those rough times when business may be a little slower.

Gaining new customers is not a seasonal trend. Any chance you get to do so should be taken advantage of. Internet marketing is an inexpensive method of mass marketing that can take your business from good to great – turning you into a local sensation.

Conclusion

Now that you have formed a basic understanding of what SEO is and what exactly it can do for your local business, it is time to implement what you have learned into your online marketing endeavors.

Keep in mind that it may take a few times to get things right, but the internet is powerful tool, capable of yielding great benefits for business professionals.

Giving up should never be an option, and there is no limit to the number of tries it takes to get it right!

Take a look at the sites that you frequent online or that come up in a search engine results page when you type in your favorite niche. Analyze how they are using SEO to their advantage and take a page out of their book so that you can further understand how to market your website.

While you don’t want to ever copy someone’s content online, you can gain an understanding from others about all the ways that you can apply SEO to your own business.

It’s time for your business to take advantage of a new audience… one that is SEARCHING for your type of product or service every single day online.