In my experience helping small businesses with local digital marketing, owners believe their budgets are their largest downfall. Often they feel like they do not have the spend to make a dent in their markets.
Every day, however, startups in the tech sectors are gaining huge ground using what are known as “growth hacking” techniques. They combine search engine optimization, social media, paid advertising, email marketing, maybe some retargeting or remarketing and a robust analytical view of what is going on in the backend of it all to achieve their results.
Using the same methods, coupled with some free tools, I will show you how you can take a more proactive approach to growth and revenue.
Local SEO and Reputation
When I start an SEO campaign, I like to start with as fresh of a slate as I can. Before you go boosting results, let’s make sure they are results you wish people to see.
Start by googling your name.
You should see your social profiles like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Yelp, Angie’s List, Houzz, and a few others are overlooked real estate on the first page of results you will want to make sure you have ownership of. They are great lead generation sources for certain industries!
Often, these sites will aggregate their data from government data sources so they might exist without you ever having created them. Other sites, like Glassdoor and RipOffReport.com, offer reviews of your company or services and are created by other people on occasion when they review an unknown company and create the profile before you have a chance.
You will want to claim them, and begin any reputation management on negative comments or posts. Make sure your reviews are top notch and that what you would want people to see shows up in a search for your name.
For this, I found N.A.P. Hunter Lite, which is a free Chrome browser extension that can find your name, address, phone (aka NAP) and website listing on the internet and returns them to you in a nice little .CSV file.
Putting in a few variations, including old or alternate phone numbers, old addresses and business names you also do business as will discover for you where you need updates to that kind information.
Google is not likely to think you are “best result” to return to a user if you cannot even get basic information like name, address and phone number congruent. This is just one of the things search engines look for in ranking, so make sure it is in check.
Next, try googling a few of the services you offer or products you sell.
Again, you should see lots of the same sites, like Yelp, Angie’s List and so on. But take note of some you did not see and add them to your list of websites to claim and optimize.
Pay-per-lead websites, like Thumbtack and HomeAdvisor, already have great rankings already for highly competitive terms. Use up the real estate on those level of keywords. Pay-per-lead websites might even pay for PPC ads since they receive large amounts of traffic and pay for subscriptions.
On pay-per-lead sites, getting their first with an intelligent response and a fair rate can win you the bid. It also costs nothing if you decide not to respond, but might be worth the $5 to see about a really hot lead.
In the end, all these sites have a link to your website. In basic SEO theory, a link from one website to another acts as an endorsement and boosts the SEO value of the website being linked. The more of these web 2.0 websites you can claim and link to your website, the better!
Blogging to Widen Your Online Footprint
One reason is that Google loves fresh content. The other is that it gives the opportunity to attack lower-hanging fruit on your list of keywords for SEO. If you think that a subject is too granular for your service page or homepage, you are likely right. It is perfect for your blog, however.
How-to guides and top ten lists are very popular and highly clickable subjects in search engine results pages. These are very easy to create and offer an area for discussion. Topical controversy is a great traffic booster!
I learned recently at SearchFest here in Portland that you might be able to give reviews over products, or even your competitors, and rank well!
The image to the right shows a blog a pool company wrote reviewing all of their local competitors ranking for “pool builder reviews Richmond VA”. It ranks well for “[insert competitor name] reviews” as well, so imagine how that must upset the competitors must be!
People reviewing your competitor…
while being on your website…
That is just one example of the power of blogging.
Blogging can be used to target whole gobs of keywords. AnswerThePublic can give you plenty of topics to write about. It collects data from search trends and spits out commonly searched prepositional phrases attached with your keyword, questions asked about your keyword and more.
Yankee Alert: It’s a UK tool, so be sure to set the language to US before you hit search here in the states!
The infamous Brian Dean also points to using Udemy to find popular subjects people pay good money to learn about. Just search for things people want help on at Udemy.com and look for the one with the most reviews.
Ubersuggest.io has always and will forever be another near and dear keyword tool to my heart. I also am loving the new look they recently gave their website and the move to the .io extension! How schmancy! 🙂
There are plenty of free tools to discover what people are searching for.
Just google it if you are out of tools!
Keeping the Loop Sealed with Email and Social
If people land on your website…
and do not buy…
they should do at least one of the following, for your sake:
- Subscribe to your newsletter
- Follow you on their go-to social network
- Pick up a retargeting cookie
- Download an e-book (this should be gated by email sign-up)
- Bookmark something, like these free tools at Buzzstream. Seriously, those are some pretty handy tools!
Bottomline: they need to become a lead.
Newsletters can highlight your blog content you have been writing, so that is always great real estate space on a newsletter. The reader is reminded of your services continuously, or at a proper time perhaps.
Sometimes it is good to do an annual newsletter more than a monthly for your business. Think about how much you could write and how often. Also think about the value one be able to bring, versus how much you might become an ‘unsubscribe’ later on due to spam.
Every website should, at the very least, have a few buttons to social networks as well.
“A few” social networks being the key. I have seen plenty of businesses flourish more from networks outside of your usual Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+, so think dynamically.
Are you an interior designer, fashion photographer, landscape architect, or NASA astronaut? Instagram or Pinterest might offer a better medium to reach your target audience. People would rather see homes, clothes, landscapes and space more than hearing about the business itself. Social media offers the medium to do this in.
Look towards mobile and video to be a significant part of your campaigns.
Really you need to be looking into live streaming video services, such as Periscope, Blab.im, Facebook Live, SnapChat, and now even Instagram offers stories just like SnapChat. The rate a which content can be consumed is much greater than in writing.
AMPs, or accelerated mobile pages, are a great way to serve up content. It is often more favored by search engines to be included in search results more often than non-AMP pages. Just understand what types of content it takes to make an AMP page first.
No matter what you do to be social, the trick is to think micro conversions to be successful in a local market. Understanding the first touch points and the relationship you build with customers will ultimately lead you to sales and repeat business.