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    Back to Basics: 3 SEO Skills to Master

    Last updated 8 months ago

    Search engine optimization (SEO) is important for any online marketing strategy, but do you have a solid understanding of this marketing tactic and how to use best practices to help your business rank well in organic search? Here’s a look at the top three key SEO principles you need to be successful on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo!.

    SEO Skill #1: Write Keyword-Optimized Content

    With its Penguin 2.0 release, quality website content remains one of the main factors in determining high Google search rank, according to Matt Cutts of Google.Content” is the umbrella term for what you write, upload, share, and post online. This can include everything from website and blog content, images, and videos to downloadable PDFs or slide presentations. Creating and posting high-quality content on your website and blog provides a rich and engaging experience for your readers, which the search engines reward with high rankings. The more content that your readers read, comment on, share, re-pin, re-tweet and like online, the more Google, Bing, and Yahoo! will determine that the content you are providing is valuable.

    An important tactic for creating valuable website content is the strategic use of keywords. So what is a keyword? It’s simply the term for a word or phrase that you believe people are looking for on search engines that you want your website or blog post to rank well for. To use keywords strategically, it’s important to start with keyword research so that you can identify the best keywords for your content. Then, use these keywords along with related terms naturally within copy.

    For example, let’s say you’re writing content for the website of your brake repair shop in Dallas, Texas. “Brake repair Dallas, TX” would be a localized keyword phrase you may want to use throughout your website copy. But it’s important to remember not to overdo it with keyword stuffing, which in this case might sound something like this: “Need break repair work in Dallas, TX? We offer the best brake repair in Dallas, Texas. Our prices on break repair in Dallas, Texas can’t be beat. So call us to book your break repair in Dallas, TX today.”  This is a prime example of what not to do.

    Rather, your writing and use of keywords should sound natural. If Google determines that your website copy is stuffed with keywords, you can be penalized with a lower-ranking website. A good rule of thumb is that your selected keyword or keyword phrase should represent no more than 5 percent of your copy.

    To improve the rank of your site for your target keywords, it’s also important to use them in your page meta descriptions, title tags, and anchor text, which are part of your website’s code and typically accessible through your site’s or blog’s content management system.   

    SEO Skill #2: Drive Inbound Links with Shareable Content

    An inbound link, also known as a backlink, is one that links to your website from a completely different site. In other words, when other sites link to your Web material, it creates an inbound link. This signals to search engines like Google that another site on the Web views your content as an authority. Search engines see websites that have multiple inbound links as more authoritative and rank them higher, and this is still true in Google’s Penguin 2.0 algorithm.

    That means the more other sites and people link to your content, the better your odds of ranking higher in a search engine. In order to get more inbound links, it’s important to create compelling content and blog posts that people want to share – because a share is inherently a link back to your content. Share your blog posts on social media, promote them in emails, and include links to them when you write guest content on other blogs or publications to help generate more inbound links to your content. You can also include URLs to your content in your PDFs, images, videos, and more so when those get shared, there’s still a reference others can use to link back to the source — you. This is especially important when creating infographics as a content marketing tactic.

    Internal links — those that link from your website or blog posts to other Web pages or posts on your site — are also valued by search engines, so be sure to refer back to your own Web material using inbound links whenever you can.

    SEO Skill #3: Be Active on Social Media

    When it comes to SEO, search engines love social media. What does this mean exactly? Basically, Google, Bing and Yahoo! look at social media signals as a key factor in their ranking algorithms. So, it’s important to include a social media strategy in your content marketing program to help improve your SEO.

    It’s also important to be active on all the top social media sites, because this helps you own more “shelf space” on the search engines. In other words, by claiming and actively using social media profiles for your business, you create more pages that can index for your business keywords, so that when consumers search for you, there are more pages on a variety of sites that can lead them to your business.

    A Google+ page and a Facebook business page are great places to start. Once you have your social media pages created and launched, you can begin sharing, commenting, and engaging with your prospects and customers.

    For your social media to help boost your SEO, it’s important to both engage and educate your online audience who in turn will share that content with others. Content sharing increases online traffic, creates inbound links, and promotes social signals — all of which can help you rank better on search engines when people search for you.

    Have you used these SEO skills in your business marketing? Let us know with a comment.

    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. Follow her on Twitter.

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    Ask ReachLocal: How to Get Started Measuring Marketing ROI [VIDEO]

    Last updated 8 months ago

    When it comes to measuring the return on investment, or ROI, of online marketing,  small businesses are often at a loss. And with good reason – ROI is a tricky thing to determine, much less make sense of. So in today’s Ask ReachLocal video, we not only discuss why it’s valuable to calculate your return on investment, but we break down measuring your marketing ROI into a few easy steps. Watch the video now to learn how to:

    • Get started measuring marketing ROI
    • Set SMART goals for your business
    • Track calls and other metrics
    • Determine lifetime customer value
    • Tie ROI back to your marketing strategy

    How is your business measuring marketing ROI? What are some best practices you’re using to help you effectively track your marketing efforts and tie the results back to your strategy?

    For more videos about online marketing basics, check out our Ask ReachLocal playlist on YouTube.

    ReachLocal Announces Local Commerce Software & Yelp Booking Platform Integration

    Last updated 6 months ago

    At ReachLocal, we’re constantly looking for new ways to transform local business and forge the way for new online solutions for the local space. That’s why we are excited to announce two new offerings for local businesses in the home services industry. First is ReachCommerce, a new local commerce platform for home services clients. The second is a strategic partnership with Yelp to offer consumers the ability to book appointments with ReachCommerce businesses in real time, directly through their profiles on Yelp.

    First, we are announcing the launch of ReachCommerce, our new local commerce system for home services merchants,  that enables them our clients to digitize their back-office operations, automate interactions with customers, and track their marketing effectiveness.

    ReachCommerce fully automates and optimizes every step of the local commerce lifecycle, from online customer booking to fleet management to mobile payment processing. The ReachCommerce software is pre-loaded on technicians’ iPads to help manage their schedules, customer information, and mobile estimates and invoicing while on the road.

    ReachCommerce also features an online booking widget that integrates with merchants’ existing calendaring system, allowing customers to see real-time technician availability, immediately book appointments, and receive automatic appointment reminders.

    This booking widget technology will also be harnessed to enable ReachCommerce clients to offer booking functionality on the Yelp website through our partnership.

    Beginning in the fourth quarter of this year, users of ReachCommerce will have the ability to automatically integrate this booking functionality into their Yelp profiles. Yelp visitors will be able to book appointments in real-time, directly through the site.

    “We view this partnership with Yelp as tremendous acceleration of our local commerce strategy we announced earlier this year,” said Zorik Gordon, ReachLocal’s co-founder and CEO.  “The home services market will invariably undergo the kind of offline to online transformation the restaurant and travel industries have already experienced. Leveraging the power of Yelp Platform is one of the many ways ReachCommerce can help local service providers ensure they prosper in an era of digital transformation.”

    ReachCommerce compliments ReachEdge, a new marketing automation system within the ReachLocal Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) suite of products. Together, these offerings help local merchants book more business, optimize their marketing ROI, and grow their profits.

    Learn More about ReachCommerce
    Pricing for ReachCommerce starts at $199 per month, with an additional a $2 per booking or $89 per technician fee. To license ReachCommerce, speak with one of our software specialists, or learn more about the platform, visit http://www.reachcommerce.com or call 888-369-5810.

    10 Minutes or Less: Quick Social Media Posts that Work (Fast!)

    Last updated 8 months ago

    Social media marketing is a critical piece in the online marketing puzzle for local businesses today. But it’s just one part of a successful online marketing system, and some days, there is so much to juggle that you just need a quick, easy way to fill your social media feed with interesting, engaging content. So, here are 10 ideas you can use to keep your social channels full of relevant, timely, and useful content – fast!

    1) Day in the Life Snapshot
    What’s got you so busy you don’t have time to write that blog post? What are you doing today that might interest your fans and followers? Share a sneak peek of a day in the life at your business by sharing a picture, quote, or anecdote straight from behind the scenes of your business.

    Example: “We’re busy getting our new product ready for the launch party tomorrow! Here’s a sneak peek at the new displays. ‘Like’ if you’re excited to get your hands on these!” [Photo]

    2) Question or Poll
    People love sharing their feedback. So, take 5 minutes to brainstorm a few questions you could ask your fan base and then another 5 minutes to set up a quick question or poll. Write your question so that it’s short, clear, and better yet, will provide useful insights for your business.

    Example: “We’re thinking about testing extended hours. What day would you like to see us open until 9 p.m.: Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday?”

    3) FAQs, Facts & Tips
    Have a set of FAQs, tips, or facts about your products or services? Share these in the form of short, sharable posts for your fans and followers to learn from. Make a list of these tidbits and keep it handy for times when time is short!

    Example: “Did you know you can reduce post-massage soreness by drinking water to flush out minerals released during a massage and rehydrating your muscles? Learn more about how to get more out of your massage here.” [link to website FAQ]

    4) “Pro Tips”
    Similar to fact posts, pro tips offer an inside scoop your customers might enjoy, typically specific to your industry or business.

    Example: “Sugar Lovers Pro Tip: Cupcake Happy Hours are Thursdays from 4-6 p.m. Mark your calendars now!”

    5) Meme Mania
    Memes are all the rage, and businesses often like to get in on the engaging, fun posts they offer. You can create your own meme from a photo using the image edit feature on Google Plus, or with a photo editing app like Over, which allows you to post text onto an image via your smartphone. Or, you could get in on a popular meme like “The Most Interesting Man in the World” by creating your own fun take on the tagline.

    Example: “I don’t always curb check when parking, but when I do, thank goodness for ABC Auto.” 

    6) Customer or Fan Shout-Out
    Do you have a customer or fan who is active on your social media pages that you want to recognize? A periodic brief shout-out of thanks, appreciation, or recognition can help you build your community and increase fan involvement on your page. 

    Example: “Thanks to @Anita for sharing the before and after pictures of her kitchen remodel last week! We loved seeing how you decorated with the new color scheme.”

    7) National Day/Week/Month
    It’s National (Something) Day/Week/Month (even if it’s unofficially so) – so feel free to hop on the bandwagon to join in on the fun with your social media community, even if it’s not totally related to your business or industry. A quick Google search of the date or month will often generate some interesting results you could play off of in your social media content.

    Example: “It’s National Country Music Day! What country music song best describes your week?”

    8) Community Events & Interests
    What’s going on in your community that your fans and followers might like to know about? Make sure you are following the social media accounts of your city, chamber of commerce, clubs, organizations, news channels, and attractions so that you can retweet, share, and post about interesting community news.

    Example: “The local food festival is this week! Who will be there, and what are you looking forward to eating the most?”

    9) Trend Spotting
    It’s not every day a royal baby is born! There’s usually something brewing in the world of pop culture or celebrity news, so when you’re in a pinch for time, you can share a timely congratulation, comment, or insight on a trend that’s hot in the news. Pro tip: Find out what people are searching online by looking at http://www.google.com/trends/, which shows the top searches at any given moment.

    Example: “The royal baby has arrived! Congratulations to Prince William and Kate for their new baby boy.”

    10) Quotes
    Any time you read an interesting quote from an industry thought leader, writer, or speaker, add them into an ongoing document of inspirational, insightful, or helpful quotes that you can share with social media channels. You can share these as text or image-based updates. Always make sure to attribute the quote to the correct source!

    Example: “‘Use what you have to run toward your best – that’s how I live my life.’ – Oprah Winfrey”

    What are your go-to social media posts when time is short? Share your tips in a comment!

    About the Author

    Tiffany Monhollon shares practical tips and insights about reaching consumers across the Web as blogger and senior content marketing manager at ReachLocal. Follow her on Twitter and Google+

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    The 5 Smartest Things to Do When a Consumer Contacts You

    Last updated 9 months ago

    When we discuss online marketing, most of the time it’s about how to get prospects to find and contact you. We talk about having a thorough Web presence, made up of targeted online advertising, claimed local listings, fresh social media pages, search-optimized content, and a professionally-designed website. And that’s great—you need all of these things to get consumers to discover and contact your business. But getting a first contact isn’t the end goal of your online marketing program. The true success of your online marketing is measured by what happens next – what you do once you get that treasured conversion like a phone call or email.

    The truth is you can be doing everything right when it comes to getting found online and still lose a valuable lead. Here are five of the smartest things you can do to make sure you turn your prospects into customers. 

    1. Answer Calls and Provide Additional Information

    The first and probably easiest step in generating leads from your online marketing is simply having one or more people designated to answer incoming phone calls in a friendly and helpful manner.  Train your staff not only to be courteous on the phone but also to have all the information they need at their fingertips: from basic business information like location and hours, to details about your products and services, specials, and staff schedules. By arming your staff with the information consumers are likely to ask about, they can speak to them with authority and confidence; and with a few sales skills, they can even provide information the customer didn’t know they were looking for. For instance, say a customer calls a salon to schedule a haircut, but you’re running a special on hair color and cut, the staff should be trained to mention the offer while the consumer is on the phone.

    Plus, great customer service is key to moving a prospect from simply looking for information to truly becoming interested in your business. In fact, a study by CEI states that 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. So always provide great and personal customer service, even if the caller is simply asking for your hours or directions. 

    2. Respond to Voicemails and Emails ASAP

    Sometimes consumers may call your business after hours, send an email, or fill out a form on your website. For emails and Web forms, it’s best to have a system that sends an automated email to the consumer letting them know their message was received. Then, it’s important to check voicemail and email inboxes daily and get back to the prospect right away. The sooner you respond, the better. One study showed that if you don’t respond within the first hour, the chances of you ever getting back to them drop 10x. The same customer service rules apply whether you’re calling a prospect or emailing them – make sure your tone is friendly, helpful, and provides additional information like promotions that can move them closer to making a purchase decision. 

    3. Build Your Contact List

    One of the smartest things you can do when a new prospect calls your business is to add them to your contact list. Whether you are using an email marketing system, CRM solution, or your own database, when speaking with or emailing a prospect, always collect and record the following information:

    • Full name
    • Email address and phone number
    • Address, city, or neighborhood
    • Product or service they are interested in
    • When they are looking to buy
    • How they heard about your business

    The simple act of collecting this information can have tremendous impact on your business. Collecting a prospect’s name and contact information means you now have a way to reach back out to them with specific information about the product or service they are interested in, as well as keep them informed later with marketing messages like helpful tips, offers and specials, announcements, and more. Plus, knowing the prospect’s location enables you target marketing messages specifically to their area. For instance, if you’re opening a new store or expanding your service area their location, you can send an email letting them know.  Finally, asking how they heard about your business is an easy way to see which marketing tactics are working to bring you new prospects.  

    4. Classify the Lead and Follow Up

    When a contact comes into the business, it’s vital that you qualify them. Use the information you collected for your contact list to determine whether the contact is an active lead (meaning they want to buy quickly), a long-term lead (meaning they are just researching, or not interested in buying for a few months), or a customer. Note the status of the contact in your contact list, so you can provide them with the right types of information when you reach back out to them.

    Once you have a standardized way to collect lead data and classify them based on their interest and stage in the consumer buying journey, it’s important to follow up with any leads that haven’t yet made a purchase. For active leads, follow up via phone or a quick email with specific information related to what they inquired about. Asking for the sale at this point is important to close the business. Alternatively, nurture long-term leads with a series of useful emails that include a call to action that will remind them of your business and encourage them to buy. 

    5. Track the Marketing Source

    In addition to asking prospects how they found your business, you can employ tactics like call tracking, call recording, and website analytics to determine how consumers are learning about you. Call tracking and call recording are especially helpful if you are running offline advertising like direct mail, billboards, radio or TV ads, and more. Because prospects may call you directly from your ad, you can use different tracking numbers for each form of advertising to determine which types are most effective at bringing you new business. Website analytics will help you track clicks to your website from your posts on sites like your blog and social media pages, so you can track how much traffic you are getting from those sites.  This is essential to determining your marketing ROI and improving your online marketing programs. 

    Are you practicing all of these to turn the most prospects into customers? Are there any other strategies you find effective for increasing conversions? Let us know in a comment! 

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    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.

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