Manual Can Your Customers Find You Online?: A How-To Guide to Marketing Your Local Small Business Online

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Make sure everyone in your company is using that format when presenting or using information on your company, and use that information in your citation audit moving forward.

How to Promote Your Local Business with These 15 Marketing Strategies

Check your results listings and separate out any entries where you see a piece of conflicting information. The rest of the entries belong in a separate pile. Most of these third party information apps allow you to create a profile for your business so you can update your information and respond to local reviews at your discretion. For any entries with conflicting information, simply create your profile and correct any errors you find. Other sources require a more intensive process; for example, you might have to draft a letter explaining the discrepancy and personally requesting the removal or update of the entry.

Keep in mind that Google, along with most third-party apps, does not act quickly. Be patient and set a date to follow up in the future—in my experience, six weeks is enough time to see consistent results. When that time comes, run another citation audit and see where you stand. For example, one step of the process is ensuring that your name and address are appearing accurately and consistently across the web, and one ongoing strategy is to use your city and state in the context of your written content. This presents a major problem for businesses with multiple locations: how do you locally optimize your site?

It may be tempting to split your locations up into multiple domains, and some businesses have tried this as an ongoing strategy.

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On one hand, it makes logical sense—if each location is different, why not try to rank on each site individually? However, in practice, this segmented strategy is ineffective. Even if you need separate information, like different menus, using a single root domain to consolidate all that information still gives you the chance to present those in a segmented format.

Using one domain gathers all the authority you would have built in your individual presences and places it into one master hub. Create a page title that includes each city or neighborhood as relevant , and write a full body of content that elaborates on the unique features of each location. Be sure to also include the address and phone number of each location on these individual pages. This will clearly demonstrate to Google how your locations are set up, and how they all relate to your master brand.

That means featuring the city or neighborhood of the location in the title and body of each relevant piece. Have they celebrated an anniversary? Have they made new hires? Have they hit a new landmark achievement? Make sure each of your employees know to encourage your customers to post reviews about their experience. Then, designate a contact at each of your locations to take point on actively monitoring and responding to those reviews.

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Make sure you implement a plan that allows for each of your locations to actively encourage and respond to online reviews, and keep your content strategy as present and relevant as possible. Over time, each of your individual locations will rise through local-specific searches, and the authority of your master domain will skyrocket as your individual locations all feed into it.

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Conduct ongoing local SEO optimization by encouraging your own customers to post reviews when they can, write about local information and local events, and get yourself some press in local online newspapers. Your goals should revolve around making your local presence known and keeping your customers happy. If you can do that with a clean NAP profile online, your local rankings will come naturally in time. Smooth sailing, right? That single negative review now shows up at the top of the search rankings for your business name, and gives your business an overall rating of 1 star out of 5.

Encouraging customers to leave reviews on popular online review sites can not only improve your reputation online , it can help buffer your business from the occasional negative review. With million unique monthly visitors and more than 71 million reviews, Yelp is the largest review site for local businesses. Who Should Use Yelp: Pretty much every local, service-based business, but particularly those targeting consumers in the age category.

A significant percentage of Yelp users are college-educated How to Get Yelp Reviews: While some review sites encourage businesses to ask their customers to leave reviews, Yelp discourages this practice. They believe that providing excellent customer service is a better strategy than asking for reviews. Over time, these self-selected reviews create bias in the business listing — a bias that savvy consumers can smell from a mile away. Yelp does, however, encourage business owners to let their customers know they can be found on the site.

While Yelp discourages business from soliciting reviews, Yelp advises several ways to direct your customers to the site:. The site also offers the Fetch program as a way to collect reviews from your customers. As with most other review sites, you can request reviews via email, your website or social media.

1. Solve a customer pain point

Listing your business is free, and listings tend to understandably rank very highly in search results. After testing the same search in Google. Testing similar searches for other businesses had similar results. The downside is that users must have a Google account in order to leave a review; the upside is that reviews populate across other Google products like Maps and Search, giving you maximum exposure.

Asking your customers to leave a positive review will be your best bet. Regardless of the medium you use to do this — email, social media, your website, etc. It goes without saying that providing outstanding customer service is the 1 way to get great online reviews. In the online marketing world, things change constantly. The past decade has been a roller coaster ride for SEO professionals, but over the last year or two, things have finally leveled off. Some were ready for the algorithm changes that occurred over that timespan which changed the industry, while many were completely caught off guard.

Here, I briefly recount some of the massive algorithm changes that have shaken the industry in the past:. The most recent update as of the writing of this book was Panda 4. As the years have passed, the updates have made smaller ripples, and have rolled out with greater distances between iterations. This is the only way to get real answers. While Panda focused more on on-site factors and content, the Penguin algorithm was designed to look for unnatural manipulation of search engine rankings occurring offsite.

This algorithm was released in April of , and significantly affected hundreds of thousands of websites.

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Inbound links used to play an even greater role in search engine rankings than they do now. This fact was abused and manipulated to the point that Google had to figure out a way to fix it. There have been a handful of other landmark Google updates that have redefined how search marketers optimize their sites, but none as significant as Penguin or Panda. Here are a few of them:. SEO used to be a race between Google and search marketers.

Search marketers would come up with some new quick trick to rank higher and, invariably, Google would come up with a new update that prevented quick, manipulative tactics from working, while changing the landscape of search rankings from the ground up. As I just explained, Panda and Penguin led the way for these changes and for years, this almost rapid-fire series of algorithm shifts made search marketers paranoid.

How to Promote Your Local Business with These 15 Marketing Strategies

SEO experts were constantly hypothesizing and predicting which updates would come next, and when, though Google never offered up any clues as to what was coming down the pipeline. You may never have to worry about another Google update again. When Google first released Panda, it viewed its main search algorithm as an inferior product, or as one that needed substantial improvements.

Because it used many quantifiable ranking factors, it was open to manipulation and was subject to a number of ranking inconsistencies and hiccups. But after Penguin and Panda, the core evaluation system of the algorithm was firmly in place. Sites with high-quality content, great user experience records, and a great reputation in the online community reliably rank higher than others.

This fundamental quality standard has not changed in the past four years. Google still ranks companies based on how well they treat their users and how much respect they command from other online sources. Google is satisfied with the current state of its algorithm, and most subsequent updates have been aimed at tweaking existing features or adding small new ones. As evidence of this approach, we can turn to the type of updates that have rolled out since Nevertheless, the fundamental ranking factors—quality of content, etc.

It introduced a handful of new ranking factors—such as reviews on Yelp and other third party directory sites—but the core ranking factors remained unaffected. Even Mobilegeddon, which was largely hyped and overblown by the paranoid search marketing community, ended up falling flat—only a handful of sites were affected because Google was already using mobile optimization as a ranking signal. Only a tiny fraction of business owners saw any movement at all because of these updates. Both Panda and Penguin were followed up with 2.

There are three factors to consider here.

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Second, updates are getting smaller and less impactful. Finally, Google is trying to push updates and data refreshes in new, more subtle ways, which barely affect search rankings in the short term. You no longer have to worry about being blindsided by some strange revolutionary algorithm change; as long as you continue to follow best practices and keep your users happy, you can rest easy knowing your search visibility is safe.

Search engines are undergoing radical new evolutions, Internet access through mobile devices is more functional and more relied on than ever before, and people are getting more demanding in terms of wants and needs from businesses online. I want to touch on a few emerging trends here that have the potential to completely upend online marketing as we know it—especially traditional SEO.

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Search engine results pages SERPs , much to the irritation of search marketers who count on them, change constantly. Google is constantly making tiny, hardly-noticeable tweaks to the familiar layout of its signature creation, leading to gradual changes in user behavior and disrupting the expectations of optimizers who were counting on previous information.

Up until now, these changes have been relatively minor, even unnoticeable to most users outside the SEO community. Google removed the underlines marking the hyperlinks that made the list. The length of each entry and the numbers of entries per page have both changed over time. Various listing modifications have allowed sub-pages to be viewed in different ways based on the context of the search. Now, with the onslaught of new technology from wearable devices to far more sophisticated search algorithms, the SERPs are evolving faster than ever and in far more complicated ways.