Last updated 2 months ago
Did you know that the purchasing power of today’s Millennial Generation (also know as Gen Y) is nearly $1.7 trillion? This new generation of consumers, roughly including those in their 20s to those in their early 30s, has surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest age demographic in the U.S. And for your business, reaching young consumers during their buying process is critical.
That’s because Millennials are now buying houses, taking vacations, raising families, and making other purchases from all kinds of businesses. And how they find these products and services is dramatically different from the way consumers have done so in the past. The Millennial generation knows that phone books were once the standard for looking up a local business, but laugh at the idea of doing it now. Why? The Web. Whether they are looking for a local business, writing reviews, or recommending a product or service to their friends via social networks like Facebook and Instagram, Millennials spend the majority of their purchasing time online.
But are you effectively marketing to Millennials? If you’re not sure, or if you just want to find out more about how you can market your business to multiple generations of consumers, sign up for our free webinar Millennial Marketing: Targeting Gen Y, Gen X, and Boomers Too. This live session takes place Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time (2:00 p.m. EDT / 11:00 A.M. PDT).
Last updated 2 months ago
If you didn’t already know, this week is National Small Business Week. This week celebrates all small businesses and what they do for consumers, the economy, and the country. And now that today’s consumers rely more on the Web to find and choose local businesses, online marketing has become a high priority on the list of things SMBs need to do.
But that list is often long and takes a while to sort through. So, here’s a roundup of some of our most popular blog posts with quick online marketing tips. From search advertising best practices to social media tactics, these are tips that any small business owner can use to help consumers find them online.
Tips for Great Search Advertising:
1. Know the Text Ad Format – All text ads aren’t created equal. Bing, Yahoo!, and Google all have slightly different text ad formats, so identify and follow the rules of each before running your search advertising campaign.
2. Optimize the URL in Your Search Ad – Text ads feature a URL along with the title of your ad, so make sure it’s relevant to the product or service you are promoting and that it doesn’t conflict with the publisher’s requirements.
3. Include Target Keywords in Your Ad – Use keywords in both your headline and text ad copy that match or are closely related to the keywords you bid in order to help your ad show up in search results for those terms.
4. Write a Strong Call to Action – Tell consumers who see your text ad what action you want them to take, like getting a free estimate or downloading a coupon, so they are more willing to click through to your site.
5. Use a Call Tracking Number – If you use a click-to-call extension in your ad, consider using a tracking number to identify the calls that come from your ads and to measure the results of your search advertising.
6. Don’t Include Your Business Name in the Ad’s Headline – Headlines have limited character space, so don’t waste it on your business name. You can include your business name in your optimized URL, and use your headline for more critical content.
7. Use Title Case – Capitalizing the first letter of major words is a text ad best practice. Just don’t go crazy with all caps. (NEVER go crazy with all caps.)
8. Include the Right Punctuation – Using correct punctuation in a text ad is mandatory at the end of your ad, but it can also be used within the rest of your ad to ask a question or make a point.
9. Don’t Use Trademarked Terms (Unless You Own Them) – This is just a no-no. You can bid on trademarked terms if they are relevant to your ad, but using terms you don’t own can go against the publisher’s requirements.
10. Don’t Use Unknown Abbreviations – Nobody will know that “WFWAM” means “We Fix Windows and More.” There are many ways to include your message in your text ad without using abbreviations that only you can decipher.
To see the full tips for search advertising, check out our search advertising 101 blog post.
Tips for a Better Business Website
11. Update Your Website – It’s 2014, so your business website shouldn’t look like it’s still stuck in the early 2000s. And it’s about more than just looks. Best practices and Web standards change often, so a refresh can help you make sure your website is at the top of its game.
12. Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly – The 2014 Local Search Study from Neustar Localeze found that nearly 80% of local searches on a mobile phone ended in a purchase. If you’re website isn’t mobile-friendly, you are missing out on these local consumers.
13. Complete and Optimize Your Site’s Metadata – Metadata on your website (like title tags, descriptions, and alt text) is a critical component of your website’s SEO. Leaving it out can negatively impact how you show up in search results.
14. Create and Use a Business Blog – Blogging and your business should be best friends. Maintaining a business blog can help boost your site’s SEO; plus, it can set you apart from the competition and demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. It’s a win-win situation.
15. Optimize Your Website for Local Search – If your law practice only handles cases in Albuquerque, New Mexico, then it doesn’t do much good to get it seen by consumers searching for legal consultations in Crawford County, New Hampshire. Make sure your business website includes local information, like a phone number, address, and geo-targeted keywords so that local consumers call you.
Get the full scoop on website best practices in our blog post about the 5 most common website mistakes.
Tips for Effective Search Engine Optimization:
16. Regularly Post Quality Content – Creating and promoting fresh, original, and sharable content on a business blog can help increase your visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) because these social shares signal to search engines that your site is knowledgeable and relevant in a particular topic.
17. Be Present on Maps – This is especially applicable to consumers searching for your business on the go using apps like Google Maps and Apple Maps. Make sure they not only find you by claiming your local listings and making sure information like your phone number and address are correct.
18. Claim Your Google+ Local Page – Claiming and optimizing a Google+ Local page is key to showing up in Google Maps and Google’s local search results. Plus, this page provides users with important information like your phone number, operating hours, and ratings and reviews that they use when deciding whether to use your business.
19. Engage Your Social Media Fans – Social media is a great way to build your brand and interact with potential and current customers. Post engaging content frequently to generate shares and connect with consumers, which can positively impact the number of those who see your content.
20. Use Local Keywords – Include geo-specific keywords in your website, blog, and even social media copy to drive visits and interest from consumers in your area.
21. Generate Backlinks – High-quality links, such as those from influencers, are great for building your authority. Plus, they tell search engines that your business is credible, therefore ranking your website or other sites higher in search engines.
22. Get Positive Reviews – What people say in reviews matters to consumers. In fact, one study determined that 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust a personal recommendation. And as these reviews are visible in search results, having positive reviews with high rankings can help persuade interested consumers to give your business a chance.
23. Set Up Google Authorship – In addition to building your business brand, building your personal brand can be a great way to get new consumers. Google Authorship can help you do this.
See more about what gets your business found in Google in our blog post about what Google loves.
24. Complete Your Business Information – Yelp is a great hub to host all kinds of information about your small business. From operating hours to business type to payment options to parking information, it’s a great way to help consumers find you and your business.
25. Post Realistic Images – Images speak volumes, and Yelp features them loud and clear. Post inviting and realistic photos of what consumers can expect when visiting your business.
26. Promote Positive Reviews – Since Yelp reviews are featured in local search results on all major search engines, generating great reviews is more important that ever. Plus, you can promote these reviews in other places, like your website and social media sites.
Read more about how your small business can get the most out of a Yelp Business Page in our blog post featuring these tips.
Tips for a Glowing Social Media Presence:
27. Think Before You Post – It’s becoming more impossible to take back what you say in social media (hello, screenshots). In order to keep yourself from putting your foot in your mouth, make sure to think before you speak, er, post.
28. Have a Social Media Policy – Social profiles for your business aren’t the end-all and be-all of your brand. Your employees also represent your brand, both in person and online. Having a social media policy today is important so employees know the rules and expectations for posting online as well.
29. Be Careful when Newsjacking – Staying in the know is a great idea for generating timely social content. However, if you jump in a conversation online without knowing the origin of the topic, you could risk looking like a social media newbie and potentially coming off as insensitive.
30. Stay Alert – Social media is the place where consumers voice their opinions about you, good and bad. Having alerts set up to notify you of mentions, comments, or messages can help you make sure you address situations before they get out of hand.
Find out more about how your small business can use social media to build and promote your brand and tips to prevent social media mistakes.
How does your small business use online marketing to reach consumers? Let us know with a comment!
About the Author
Tara Banda writes about how local business owners can reach more customers through inbound marketing for the ReachLocal blog. You can connect with her on Twitter.
Last updated 2 months ago
In honor of National Small Business Week, we’re featuring some of our favorite small businesses – our very own clients – on the ReachLocal blog! We’re extremely proud to work with each and every one of these small businesses and help them get the results they want from their online marketing. In these videos, hear what our clients have to say about what it’s like working with ReachLocal and also about how important getting tangible, measurable ROI is to their small businesses.
Reports Show True Business Growth
Triangle Orthopedic Associates knows just how important it is to reach their target audience online – and how important tracking is to their marketing success. ReachLocal’s Web and mobile reporting has enabled this small business to see exactly how their search advertising and retargeting campaigns have improved their business over the past four years. Plus, they can drill down into month-by-month performance to see granular details that have helped their business grow.
“The mobile app has given me a lot more accessibility to the reports… I can quickly pull it up, talk about the results month after month,” said Chris Adkins, CAO.
Marketing Automation & Follow Up Improves ROI
The Law Offices of Robert M. Geller wanted to stay in front of potential clients who contact them. With ReachLocal’s automated marketing solution, this small business can follow up with new leads, send automated emails to long-term leads, and keep new clients apprised of other business offerings, all of which can help them close more deals and increase the ROI of their online marketing efforts. Plus, it tracks the sources of all their leads, so they can see what marketing efforts are the most effective.
“I’m getting a better return on the investment on the expenditure that I’m making for my marketing in terms of pay per click or in terms of my website by having the ability to follow up with people… so I’m able to bring in more business,” said owner Robert Geller.
Real-Time Results Provide Valuable Insight
For Safe Home Security, getting more leads – and having mobile reports at their fingertips – is vital to running their small business. To know exactly how their marketing is doing, they rely on being able to see every lead they receive, including website visits, calls, emails, and chat leads as soon as they contact their business.
“For each lead, each phone call, each chat lead, each chat lead we receive, that’s all organized on the mobile app for us. That kind of real-time information is huge in our industry, and huge in sales in general,” said Luke Malcolm, Co-Owner of Safe Home Security.
As you can see, getting real results like calls, emails, leads, and customers, and having the ability to see at any moment how their marketing is doing sets the ReachLocal experience apart for these clients.
What marketing results do you want to drive for your small business? Vote in our poll to let us know which marketing metric you think is the most valuable for SMBs!
About the Author
Tamara Weintraub helps equip small business owners with information about local online advertising, social media, and content marketing as a writer for the ReachLocal blog.
Last updated 2 months ago
When you think about search engine optimization best practices for your small business, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? If you think of SEO as only making sure a set of specific keywords are optimized on your website it’s time to update your strategy. It’s true that keywords play a huge role in modern SEO, but today, SEO is about more than simply optimizing a few pages of your site for certain keywords.
In fact, it’s time that small businesses take a deeper look at what search engine optimization means in today’s competitive SEO landscape that demands not only stellar onsite optimization but also a steady stream of fresh content as well as an optimized offsite presence. Here are a few key insights about modern SEO that can help you see what your SEO might be missing.
1. Is Your SEO Focused on Keywords or Topics?
One big evolution in modern SEO is the role that keywords play in today’s search landscape. Search engines have become more intelligent over time, learning more about both the behaviors that consumers use when they search and about the behaviors marketers use to attempt to improve their rankings in search. These insights play in to regular changes to the algorithms that drive what shows up when someone searches for your business online. And, several recent algorithm changes have brought to light an evolved understanding of the role of keywords in SEO.
Keywords still play a huge role in SEO, but the question is, are you thinking about keywords correctly? Because search engines are better at recognizing groups of related keywords and prefer content that’s written naturally (as opposed to content where specific keywords are forced and stuffed unnaturally into content), many experts advise an SEO strategy that focuses on topics, or groups of related keywords and terms, rather than trying to repeat an “exact keyword phrase” a certain number of times on each page.
When writing your content, keep in mind the topic at hand and the keywords people might use to search for your business. Due to changes in search engine algorithms, exact-match keywords don’t play as strong a role. But, you still need to include key phrases related to the core topic. For example, let’s say you have dental website and you focus on the topic of flossing. Your content should be written in a much more natural way than simply repeating the word “flossing” over and over on the same page. Instead, use a natural variance of keyword phrases such as “why should I floss,” “flossing benefits,” and “how important is flossing” in your content to help searchers find your website when they search.
So, if your SEO strategy is still obsessed with exact keyword match, keyword match density, and keyword stuffing, it’s time to update your game and polish up your content. And, speaking of content…
2. Are You Regularly Publishing Fresh, Relevant, Optimized Content from Your Site?
Have you ever heard the phrase “Content is King”? Well, for small business SEO, this statement rings true. In fact, it’s true for any business, large or small, which is why content marketing has become so important in online marketing today. The first component of content marketing that small businesses need is to make sure their SEO strategies include publishing fresh, relevant content from their sites.
That’s because creating fresh, relevant content focused around your main topics and keywords helps your website show up when people search for topics and keywords related to your business. The more you create content that helps people find your site, the more search engines will view it as relevant and authoritative, helping boost your visibility on the search engines.
The most popular way to regularly publish content from your small business website is to have a blog – and post to it regularly! You can use a mix of original, optimized content such as educational posts, infographics, photos, videos, and ebooks, along with sharing summaries and links to relevant content others have shared online (just make sure you’re attributing it properly)!
When writing for your blog, it’s important to think “educational and entertaining” content rather than “sales pitch” content. Make sure your content is also focused on the keyword topics you are optimizing your website for, and ultimately that the content is both helpful and appealing to the consumers you want to target. Not only will this entice more people to engage with your content, but it will be more likely to prompt them to share your content to their own networks.
Using the dental website example noted above, let’s say you decide to publish a dental blog on your website. You might write a blog post titled, “Flossing & Heart Health: What You Should Know.” Notice that the headline isn’t a sales pitch about your dental practice. Rather, it’s a piece of content that your online audience might find useful and in turn share with their own online audience on places like Facebook, Twitter, etc.
And speaking of sharing…
3. Is Your Content Optimized for Social Sharing?
In today’s SEO landscape, it’s also important to make sure that consumers are sharing the fresh content you publish online. Not only does this help your content (and therefore your business and its website) gain more visibility, but it can also serve as a signal to search engines that your website is a popular and authoritative site on the subjects you cover. Plus, social signals like comments, likes, and shares from your website or social media pages can help influence how relevant the search engines think your site is.
And, speaking of being signals you send to search engines…
4. Is Your Offsite Web Presence Optimized?
Another critical piece – especially for local SEO – is to make sure your offsite Web presence is optimized for your small business. This includes sites like local listing and directory sites, as well as you brand’s social media pages. It’s critical to make sure these pages are not only claimed, but also that they are optimized in a way that is accurate and consistent, because this plays a large role in how search engines understand your business. Here are a few components to consider.
CitySearch, Yellow Pages.com, and Yelp are just a few of the several local listing services that share information about your business online. But, if you haven’t claimed and optimized these listings, you can’t guarantee that the information they include is up to date, accurate, or consistent. And this matters a lot to search engines. In fact, they care right down to how you abbreviate, spell, and punctuate your listings. So, make sure your listings are claimed, optimized, and consistent with how you publish your business information online (including on your website and social media pages).
Google+ Local is both a local listing and a social media page that you can use to share content with your followers. Claiming your own Google+ Local business page and populating it with relevant content not only helps local consumers to find you online, it also helps your SEO efforts. Adding keyword-optimized, geo-targeted content like descriptions of your business, customer reviews, and company and product photos gives the search engines the relevant content they’re looking for when ranking your page. To claim your Google+ Local listing, you have to start by creating a Google+ profile page.
Make sure that when you launch your page, the business information is correct and complete with current address(es), phone number(s), hours of operation, and your website’s URL. Optimizing your Google+ profile with this information and your relevant business keywords can increase your chances of getting found in local and map searches.
Facebook is a top social media site with more than a billion active users, and as such, it’s a popular online marketing tool for small businesses. It offers you the chance to grow and cultivate an engaged, passionate community of customers and other fans — an audience that you can leverage to help spread the word about your content. This also drives traffic to your website, along with social signals, both of which search engines factor in. Infographics, photos, and videos are popular content types on Facebook, so make sure you’re creating and sharing content from your blog and business website that appeal to your Facebook audience.
Twitter is also an important site when it comes to optimizing your business Web presence, plus, it’s a great place to encourage social sharing and engagement for your content online. Many businesses struggle to understand how to best leverage Twitter, especially when it comes to SEO. Most experts recommend sharing content related to your core business topics as well as regularly syndicating links to your own uniquely published content as a way to build an active audience and encourage your engaged followers to visit and share your content.
So, What is Your SEO Missing?
Bottom line? It’s important to have an SEO strategy that applies a modern understanding of keywords, includes publishing fresh, optimized content, and leverages an optimized and engaged social media presence.
Are you using a modern keyword strategy when it comes to your website? How often do you create and post new content for your audience? Let us know with a comment!
· Back to Basics: 3 SEO Skills to Master
· 5 Common Website Mistakes that Can Kill Your SEO (And Tips to Update It!)
About the Author
Amy Neeley helps small- and medium-size businesses navigate the online marketing world with insights and information featured on the ReachLocal blog. You can also connect with her on Twitter.
Last updated 2 months ago
This week, we were honored to participate in the 2014 CeBIT Australia conference, a premier business technology event in the Asia Pacific Region. This prestigious setting enabled us to share the floor with other top industry and technology leaders like Salesforce, IBM, and Intel.
At the event, Chief Marketing Officer Todd Ebert shared his insight about how technology is impacting online marketing and how ReachLocal is leveraging this trend. In his presentation, 7 Pillars of Modern Marketing, he explained how technology and strategy work together to drive success in the local and online marketing space.
During his presentation, Ebert discussed concepts like creating useful customer experiences, integrating sales and marketing initiatives, and leveraging marketing automation tools. Check out the full presentation to see all seven modern marketing pillars and how ReachLocal is applying them to our own marketing strategy.