Tuesday, December 4, 2012

First Steps Online for Local Businesses - Up and To the Right

One of the toughest things to do is market your local business to the right audience, especially online. Internet users like to research available options and they can very indecisive at times; being able to effectively put your brand and products in front of your target audience, will hopefully bait them to make a purchase. That is one of the main goals as well as one of the hardest things to accomplish with online local marketing. Within this post I will give you a slice of the meat and maybe a potato or two about how you can ensure the proper foundation is built for your local business to maintain and increase your customer base.

Local business marketing can be very difficult and sometimes you are not even sure where to start. Well, I'll tell you where I like to start. What "I do" initially is a full evaluation of the current online assets to build off them, ensure they are fully optimized and the information listed is consistent throughout your online channels. 

Now to get started with your online brand appearance:

Keyword research
Ensure keyword research is properly done. There are many tools online that you can use for great keyword discovery, probably the biggest tip I can give you on this is – ensure you are discovering quality high search volume keyword terms that will directly contribute to an increase in sales. Just because a keyword has high search volume with low competition, doesn’t mean it is going to be relevant to the client’s products (even if it is exact match) because the keyword term may have more than one meaning. So slow down, take your time, do your research and contribute to your client’s bottom line. Up and to the right.

Local and map listings
Start with GetListed.org. That is one of the single most important websites that will tell you exactly where your business is listed, and where it should be. It is almost 2013, everyone and their brothers have smartphones, the only people who don’t are over 75, can’t drive and don’t know how to work a computer anyway. Trends have shown mobile search to be climbing each year, mobile users are constantly downloading apps, checking in at locations and probably the thing that is going to help your local business the most, using maps to find what they want that is close to them.

Ensuring your business is listed on Google, Bing and TomTom (yes, tomtom. Why you ask? Dumbass Apple users).  Okay, I really have nothing against Apple or the people who use their devices, they are actually quite smart and Apple has built their own mini-monopoly specifically allowing their products, to only work with their products. Smart move Steve Jobs. Back to the point, people search on their phones using maps – all the time! Get listed, get found, and increase business. Up and to the right.

Social assets
This goes hand in hand with local listings but in today’s marketing world, you need the basics at the very least. Yep, that means a Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Before I go any further, having a profile on these top three doesn’t mean shit if you aren’t active and providing value to customers through these channels. You want to gain social boost? Get active, engage with people, provide value and buzz will begin to gain around your brand and products. This even works for boring industries, its proven. Another quick touch on the social channels, optimize them. Any open text field you can add valuable information about your company, owner or business, do it. Up and to the right.

Current rankings
Once you have a good idea of where you or your client ranks, you can give a 3-6 month goal and project where their future rankings will be. High rankings are not everything with local businesses however they are still a very important factor to maintaining a healthy business – page one of Google is generally always the main goal but start with low hanging fruit by targeting specific keywords that are easy to rank for and will specifically convert for the client. Up and to the right.

Day 1 Website SEO
If you know anything about web marketing, you know that content is king. Your website needs to have good quality content that supports your primary business model, core products to ensure Google will rank your site as an authority in your industry. Before you can have an external content strategy, you need to have good on-page content to support it what you are telling people on the web through content releases. There are great free tools out there to check the ‘SEO score’ if you will on an individual page for a specific keyword term. Ensure that each page has quality content dedicated to a specific keyword term (or semantically aligned terms). This will help show the search engines, you know your shit. Up and to the right.

Backlink profile
Look at their backlink profile, make sure they are not dabbing into..bad habits to say the least. Ensure they are on the correct route to obtaining higher traffic via rankings from relevant links from authority places. Determine what links are effective, which are not and then continue to build strong authority links that will boost rankings and stop spending time on crappy, low quality link building. Good links will help rankings go, you guessed it..up and to the right.

Were you able to wrap your brain around all of this? I hope so because it is only the appetizer before the main course. Sure, you got some meat and potatoes to digest in a local business space. You just wait until the main course, stay tuned and continue to make positive improvements to improve your own or your clients business, sales and buzz go – up and to the right!


  1. So what would you say is the best way to optimize images? I know there should be alt text, but as far as naming them, what would you recommend? How many words? I don't want to stuff keywords in the name but I also want to fairly describe them, I'm just not sure what would be too much or too repetitive. I would appreciate your advice, thanks!

    1. Optimize images by using an alt tag and you can even go one step further and add a title attribute onto the image so when users hover over the image it will show them a quick hover popup. The importance behind the title is to expand on the alt tag. For example you have an image of a person, the alt tag could be their name while the title could be 'Mindy Chapman at work' - expanding explanation of the alt tag.

      I wouldn't use more than 5 words in an alt tag, most search terms are within that scope. To determine what text to use, do keyword research to find out traffic search volume, competition, get into your website analytics and see what terms have highest conversion rate and also being used to find your site from search engines. If the site has an internal site search you can pull data out and compare them together with the term that is going to have the highest possibility to convert into a sale.

    2. You can also upload those images into social media image channels like flickr, photobucket, Pinterest, etc. and have the ability to write multiple tags, descriptions, etc. about the image which will help it rank in image search for more keyword terms, assuming the terms you are tagging the image are true to the actual photos.