All Search is Local.
It’s an old advertising adage that predates the internet, but is especially relevant in the current search marketing world. As search engines (AKA Google, but we’ll be polite and vague here) become more accurate in delivering geo-targeted search results, placing your company in a prime position within local search results is essential now, and will only be more important moving forward.
Do a simple search on anything and you’ll notice that even without adding localized keywords, you will see results delivered that cater to your location. As mobile adoption becomes more prevalent, expect this trend to increase in the future. We as consumers expect not only to see search results in our town or locality, but to see results in our line of sight.
To take things a step further, not only are we being served up localized results, but personalized results as search engines attempt to look at our saved search history and browser preferences to deliver up the most accurate search. Trying to get your site to rank for search terms on a national level is a thing of the past. That said, if a marketing company offers to get you the top results in Google, be skeptical or at least ask “where?”. Unless you can hide your location, you most likely will see search results based on any number of localized technologies: your IP address, your browser, your internet preferences, other websites you’ve visited, etc.
But within all this search complexity is a silver lining. You no longer have to fight an uphill battle to rank organically for search terms against every website in the world. You can carve up some space in your town, and compete against a smaller number of competitors near you.
So where do you begin? Try placing a couple of local keywords in your title tags. Especially if you’re in an ultra-competitive space, separating your business with local keywords will give you an edge. We hear from clients, “But we don’t do that much business locally.” Well, this is a starting point. It can’t hurt, and chances are if you’re not already ranking well for your selected keywords, it sure won’t hurt to narrow down the search to your local area. It can only help you start to rank on some level.
Another tip to getting in on local search, claim your free local listings. Check out Google, Bing local and Maps. If your business isn’t there, create a listing. If you see your business listed, claim the listing and take over management of the information contained. By doing so, you’ll add another listing for your business within the search engine and help the search engine reinforce who you are and where you’re located. This can even work with businesses that have multiple locations.
Make sure to place your address somewhere on your site as well. Every little bit helps in our ever-shrinking world.
Like it or not, Google has established itself as the leader of the search engines. After all, the majority of searches are completed through Google, and each time Google updates its search engine all other engines follow suit. At the end of the day, Google leads the pack in all aspects and it is why so many people in internet marketing focus so much attention on eciphering Google’s parameters.
What Is Google’s Algorithm?
Only a select few people that work at Google actually know what Google’s algorithm is. But, through trial and error people in the internet marketing world have been able to figure out how it works. It is essentially a mathematical equation designed by Google to determine the legitimacy of a website. Over the years Google’s algorithm has drastically evolved. Many years ago people were able to spam their websites and use dishonest tactics to achieve high rankings. Those days are long gone. Google has cracked down on such tactics and is continually making new updates to help ensure that all rankings are legitimately achieved.
Panda and Penguin
Google updates their algorithm at least once a day, but there are two very well-known updates that everyone in the internet marketing world are aware of – Panda and Penguin. Panda was the first update and it cracked down on a lot of the spam tactics previously mentioned. Duplicate content was penalized and link farms were shut down. Penguin was the next rollout and it cracked down on much more advanced techniques. People with weak link profiles were getting penalized. Since these two updates, businesses have had to follow Google’s algorithm rather than try to circumvent vent it, or suffer major penalties.
What Google Values
Google’s algorithm is complex. There is no need to understand every aspect of it as that is a losing battle. Instead, there are two main factors Google is currently looking at that you must focus on in order to achieve high rankings. The first is quality content. Blog posts, white papers and helpful descriptions of services provide value to your readers. The other factor is social media. Google is placing much more importance on this now. Maximize your use of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., to connect with your audience.
What Does The Future Hold?
No one knows exactly what updates Google will come up with next. It is impossible to keep up with every Google update, but if you understand what is listed above you are one step closer to achieving the rankings you desire. Do not try to cheat the system by using shortcuts. Google is always evolving and will penalize you sooner or later. Instead, operate within the parameters set by the search engine to elevate your company’s profile.
Your Website: The Main Hub
First impressions are everything. It takes mere seconds for a visitor to decide whether or not they want to stick around and browse, and with a clean web design they are much more likely to do so. Your website is your main hub and the face of your online branding. After all, everything you do online from social media to email marketing campaigns drives visitors to your website. Without a great looking site the foundation of your web presence can crumble.
Clean Vs. Flashy Design
The internet is constantly evolving and it can be tough to keep up. What with social media, email marketing, mobile marketing, etc., it’s easy to get quickly overwhelmed. Still, throughout this constant evolution, one thing that never changes is the need for a clean website design.
A clean design essentially means that the layout of your site is simple and easy to navigate – Call to Action items are clearly stated, graphics are complementary rather than distracting and menus easily guide visitors from one point to the next. Too many bells and whistles not only distract from your web content, but can also be an indication of a dated site. Worst of all, however, too much flash can result in low search engine rankings.
The Bottom Line
The reality is, when someone visits your website they are looking for specific information. Whether it’s your company’s contact details or a blog post, clean design easily directs them to what they are looking for and encourages them to linger. Search engines such as Google are also looking for clean designs. In fact, for the most part, search engines don’t even recognize websites built with Flash, making them a relic of the past. By creating a clean website, not only are you creating a positive experience for visitors, but your site will also be indexed much easier by search engines.
Backlinks allow your site to rank higher and succeed much faster, but not all backlinks are created equal. For the overall health of your website, it is imperative to know the difference.
What Is A Backlink?
A backlink is when someone else links to your site from an external source. For example, if you write a guest post on someone else’s website and there is a link within that post that leads back to your site, that is what is referred to as a backlink. More than that, a backlink is considered to be a vote of confidence. If someone allows you to have a link from their site to yours, then clearly your site must be trustworthy. But you still must be careful.
Google places a lot of importance on backlinks and it is vital to understand what separates the good from the bad.
What Defines Quality Backlink?
A quality backlink is when you get a backlink from a legitimate, respected website. It is a site with great content and that abides by Google’s standards. If you are receiving a backlink from a site that appears shady or that it is trying to “game” Google, then that can be harmful. Google will look at this shady site and will follow that link back to your site. Not only will they penalize the shady site, they will penalize you as well. Don’t let this happen. Carefully select the websites you choose for backlinks.
How to Obtain Quality Backlinks
Backlinks have so much importance to Google because they can be tough to obtain. They require effort on your part. One simple way, as mentioned above, is to guest post on respected sites. Find a site within your niche that is well known and pitch a guest post to them. Another easy way to get a backlink is by writing a press release. There are many press release sites out there you can use, but, again be careful to choose a respected one. By writing a press release you will get a backlink and your content will be in front of thousands of potential readers.
Getting quality backlinks all comes down to content. Writing for websites, writing press releases and writing your own quality content and promoting it are the most well-known and respected ways to get backlinks. By sharing quality content, Google will reward you.
Quality backlinks are considered to be the currency of the internet. The more you have, the richer you are.
Although this is a topic we’ve explored before, we thought we’d take a moment to refresh our readers’ memories on the basics as we receive inquiries quite frequently on which is the most effective tool.
When it comes to Internet marketing, there are very definitive schools of thought regarding SEO vs. Pay Per Click as each has its own set of distinct advantages. Because are effective in their own right, it can be tough to decide which is better for your business. When asked, we often pose this question to our clients as a starting point: Are your goals short-term or long-term?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine‘s “natural” or unpaid (“organic“) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users.
As a marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience.
As a tool, SEO takes much longer than PPC to see the results. When you are optimizing your site it can take several months before you see the ROI. Google does reward those who abide by its algorithm, but it is by no means fast growth. You must put in a lot of time and effort to watch it grow.
Once you have put in the time, however, your ROI can be significant. Ranking in Google organically is much better than ranking in Google for a paid advertisement. Studies have shown people are much more likely to click on an organic search than a paid ad. Also, with solid rankings comes credibility – people are much more likely to trust your website and your company. Anyone can buy an ad, but legitimate ranking takes both effort and a high-quality website.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
Pay-per-click (also called cost per click) is an internet advertising model used to direct traffic to websites, in which advertisers pay the publisher (typically a website owner) when the ad is clicked.
As a strategy, advertisers typically bid on keyword phrases relevant to their target market. Content sites commonly charge a fixed price per click rather than use a bidding system. PPC “display” advertisements, also known as “banner” ads, are shown on web sites or search engine results with related content that have agreed to show ads.
As a tool, PPC works well when your goal is to garner immediate results as there is no waiting period to establish your site’s online presence. Another great benefit of PPC is that it lends itself to measurement more clearly than SEO. With SEO you are using a variety of tactics over an extended period of time, so it can be a challenge to pinpoint exact turning points. With PPC all you have to do is pick your keywords and measure how much success is earned in direct correlation to those phrases. All the metrics are right there for you.
The downside to PPC is it that you have to continue paying to see results. If you stop paying, your marketing – and therefore leads – stop as well. On the other hand, when executed properly, SEO will continue to deliver value once the major work has been done.
There is hardly ever a clear winner and a clear loser. When it comes to PPC and SEO, it is a tough call as there are clear benefits and drawbacks to both. That said, a good strategy oftentimes is to use both methods. In the beginning, utilize PPC to get instant results while simultaneously working on SEO. This way you can have results both for today and for years to come.
Here’s how we created an ecommerce strategy for Miami-based Arctica Frozen Solutions that streamlines the way vendor orders are processed and organizes inventory resulting in more efficient turnaround times and better internal record-keeping.
Email marketing is an incredible tool for communicating directly with your customers. Although social media is on the rise, there still is no other form of marketing as effective as email marketing. Email marketing requires very minimal effort and can bring a high ROI.
How it’s done
In order to effectively utilize email marketing, you must obtain email subscribers. This means that someone comes to your website and “opts in,” typically by way of a sign-up form with a call-to-action where visitors enter their email and name.
How to Get Email Subscribers
Getting people to commit may sound tough but there are actually a few simple ways you can make it much easier. For instance, by offering something for free your visitors are much more likely to opt in. Create a monthly newsletter or make a free e-book. You can even set up your email marketing software to automatically send every one of your new blog posts to your readers.
How to Get Them to Keep Reading
Clean design is an important aspect of your email marketing strategy. Not only do you need to have great content, but you need a clean design to match. Don’t worry if you are not a designer or have minimal knowledge about coding. Most email marketing software will have templates set up that make it very easy to create any design you like.
The Benefits of Email Marketing
Email marketing is so important because it builds a great deal of familiarity between you and your customers. By consistently sending them emails over time you are never losing touch with them. Instead they are consistently aware of your brand and are much more likely to buy from you or use your services.
Consumers are using their mobile devices to search for local businesses more and more these days. As a result, the race is on for small businesses to invest more aggressively in mobile marketing in order to target local customers for better results.
In fact, recent surveys show that entrepreneurs who use mobile marketing have experienced an uptick in their businesses. The reason for this growth is attributed to factors such as:
While bigger businesses can illicit robust results with minimal effort due to their already recognizable branding and wealth of resources, small businesses have to put in a bit more legwork for comparable results. Many times while small businesses might have a website which is PC-friendly, they miss out on potential customers by not also making their website mobile-friendly.
Here are the strategies that small businesses can use for mobile marketing:
Mobilizing the Website: As mentioned before, mobilizing the website or making the website mobile- friendly is the first step, small business owners should take. This includes using font sizes that are readable on mobile screens as well as placing contact details in a location where they are easily viewed.
Localize the Search: As a small business owner, you would have to localize your search. In other words, change your search strategy to ensure that local customers can find your store, product or service.
Make Use of Social Media: Social media can be an excellent platform for small businesses to get more customers. Use Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to invite visitors to connect, share experiences or follow your updates.
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