How to Market Your Business – A Local Internet Marketing Strategy
In this article, we discuss a strategy and plan to market a local business entity online. What components are necessary in order to fully leverage all that the search engines and the Internet have to offer the small business owner? The goal is obviously to be on the first page of search results, where 98% of searchers choose from and the #1 listing receives 41% of clicks; #2 gets 12% of clicks; and #3 position receives 8.5% of the traffic.
In today’s economy, many local business owners are struggling, facing revenue decrease of 30% or more on average over previous years. In addition, traditional advertising sources are not as effective as before, including yellow pages, newspapers, and other forms of print media. Besides, who wants to kill all those trees?
Local business owners know that the Internet is the future of advertising. Today 1 out of 3 searches are for local information, products, services, etc. and 83% of people now first check online for what they need. In coming years predictions are that up to 70% of search traffic will originate from “smart” devices such as cell phones and GPS’s.
The following is not a complete checklist, but includes most of the components of a successful strategy to ensure receiving first page “vote” in search results:
- Keyword Analysis – What terms are most relevant and popular for your business? The monthly volume of searches relevant to a business can easily be obtained from Google’s Keyword Tool as well as other more extensive research tools.
- Search Engine Optimization of the website – In reviewing many, many websites, we can conclude that web designers do a poor job of including relevant information in the websites, even though most believe they are addressing these critical elements. Also, many designers choose a visually appealing flash or related technology, making a website virtually invisible to search spiders.
- Website Popularity – Once a site is created, it must be marketed. Although many business owners seem to realize this, they often resort to traditional media and “branding” approaches. This does nothing for Google, Yahoo and Bing; although it may increase the likelihood that a search is originated for a “brand” or business name. To receive adequate search results for more “generic” terms, such as “Plumber in Los Angeles,” online advertising is needed to increase search engine “popularity.” This can take the form or videos and articles created by the business owner and published in multiple free (or paid) online directories as well as link exchange programs with other websites.
- Local Search Results – Each of the “major” search now include local search results for local searches such as “Plumber in Los Angeles.” The business owner can easily create these for Google, Yahoo and Bing, however should be careful to include the most relevant keywords in their business description. Photos and videos may be included and will improve the popularity of the listings.
- Paid Advertising – All of the search engines provide a mechanism for “geo-targeted” results, meaning that they know where a search is coming from and are able to deliver relevant results to those inquiries coming from a within specific radius of a local business. Also, Facebook, now provides a “demographic” targeting for businesses in a specific geography. These capabilities are especially important with the growing use of mobile search devices such as cell phones and GPS.
- Interesting and Useful Website Content – Adding an informative blog and/or videos to the business website will improve a website’s page rank, because of the addition of relevant content to search results, and improve visitor’s time on the site. A blog, if frequently maintained will automatically provide updates to the search engines of changed content, which will improve search engine relevancy and accuracy of the latest business offers which customers may be in need of. All of this will also improve a page’s ranking.
- Email capture – Although email marketing has become much less effective in the era of profuse spam, it is important to have a mailing list. The business website should have a mechanism to build an online list of subscribers, who rely on the information provided. In this way, a newsletter and offers such as discount coupons can be easily communicated to the best business customers.
The Internet offers a completely new way of marketing and advertising local businesses. As the frequency of and reliance on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and YouTube for relevant results to specific consumer needs grows, local business owners that want to grow a business will need to participate. Perhaps within this decade, local print advertising will be obsolete and go the way of the dinosaur.