Business is tough. Online Marketing might be tougher.
It is no secret that the internet is changing the way consumers interact with businesses. More and more customers want to order through mobile apps, find information easily through websites, and spend an afternoon shopping from home. Things are different and businesses are being forced to change or pack up. Changing with the time though is much easier said than done. There are way too many topics, too many fields of thought to keep track of everything. Social Media, Search Engine Optimization, Blogging, Website Design, Link Building are just a few of these different internet strategies that are required for online success.
As a small business without a corporate marketing budget, there are many things that you can do to stay competitive in the online world. These all revolve around local strategy.
1. Include Your City in Website Text, Titles, and Meta Description.
Google is constantly crawling thousands of sites a day to improve its search engine's effectiveness in providing users the best results for their searches. As Google crawls they look everything through your site and try to index it, so no your website you should make it VERY CLEAR where your business is located.
Ensure that the text of your business includes references to your location, for example
"John Doe Mexican Food proudly serves the Fullerton community with authentic tacos and scrumptious burritos"
"Ron Wave Design creates result oriented marketing and design strategies for businesses in Orange County, including Newport Beach, Fullerton, Anaheim, and Irvine"
Notice the emphasis on the exact city. Google will acknowledge this and begin to index you for that city. You also want to include these strategies into your website's title tags and meta description. This is where it gets a little more technical, so if you want to read more about how to properly do this I have included a link here. (Got to write the corresponding page here)
2. Build Links from Local Blogs, Organizations, and Businesses.
Link building is a factor of Online Marketing and Search Engine Optimization that is probably the least emphasized. Google puts a heavy emphasis on how many links point to your website. The reasoning behind this is that if people are consistently referring to your website, you must be providing value to users. Thus, it is important to start building links to your site.
Note: There is a large body of link building sites that are considered link farms. These sites exist solely for the aggregation of links. Avoid these site for ethical reasons in addition to Google continually cracking down and punishing those who associate with these link farms.
Building links takes time, but as long as you put in the time you will get results. Use the following three methods to start buildings links
- Local Directories (Yellow Pages, Better Business Bureau, Yelp, Foursquare, Google Places)
- Local Blogs
- Local Businesses
As you can see, emphasis on local. To obtain these links all you have to do is reach out. Contact local blogs and invite them to visit your store to share with their readers. Bloggers are always looking for more material. Talk to your local businesses that you connect with, we all are trying to build our local strategy, linking with a friend business is a win win.
Local Directories are self explanatory. Just fill in a form and submit! You'd be surprised though, there are hundreds of national and local directories, just look around and you'll find them.
3. Google Places!
Google plus warrants its own section. I know I mentioned it earlier, however there should be special emphasis placed on this platform. Google is trying to streamline every portion of the online experience and Google Places is their method in terms of local businesses. Of course there are things like Yelp and Foursquare that pretty much do the exact same thing and you should still make sure your business is listed correctly on these sites.
However, Google places a bias and heavier weight on it's own Google Places platform. Go figure right! So make sure that you sign up and verify your business on Google Places.
Once listed, Google Places can help jump start your Google rankings to the top of the local searches. However, as the SEO battlefield becomes more experienced and filled with more knowledgeable players, it is often not enough. But how I usually put it is, it's much easier to get a screw in a hole with a screwdriver. Without one you can try using scissors, a fork, or your hand, but good luck. Save yourself some time and work, get on Google places.