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Local SEO: 4 Essential Factors of Success

Keys to Successful Local SEO

Incorporating keywords your prospecs use to search the internet is the key to a successful local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy. Optimizing your web pages to get “organic” traffic from the search engines is critical for successful local SEO, but today it is much more complex. It’s about integrating with the other internet marketing strategies such as social media marketing, content marketing, Pay Per Click (PPC), blogging, and website design.

1. Strategy & Initial Optimization

The first step in any local SEO plan should begin with a keyword discovery process that focuses on achievable primary keywords and “long tail” keywords. The approved keywords are embedded into your meta tags and content — this helps search engines (including Google) organize and rank information. Coding, style, positioning, and saturation levels of relevant keywords are also important factors that are a part of on-page SEO process.

Your local business’ domain name, keywords in titles on your own websites, and the presence of key NAP (name, address and phone number) contact information on your websites have a significant influence in determining performance. Make sure this information matches the info in any and all directories you use.

2. Link Building

Link building creates links that connect directly to your website. The quantity and quality of links to local business’ websites from external sites significantly influence performance. The more quality links to your website, the more your rank increases. Relevant and effective link building through partners, articles, press releases, bookmarking, blogs, reference sites, etc., is one of the most important factors in your search marketing.
Create a listing in Google Places that includes accurate and optimized categories, notable keywords in business titles, and the business address, and contact info.

3. Content Marketing

Articles, press releases, blog posts, eBooks, webinars, landing pages, and more, will allow for the enhancement of your digital “footprint” in your industry. Fresh, original content needs to be written for submission to industry channels and social news sites such as Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon, and it needs to be promoted through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn, among others. Social signals such as Facebook Likes, and Twitter Followers can have a significant influence in determining SEO performance.

4. Reporting & Analytics

To measure the success of your efforts, regularly review your site analytics. Traffic, the referring sites, keywords, etc. must be analyzed to see which pages are working and which are not. Based on these reviews, your local SEO plan may need updating or infused with fresh ideas.

Social Media Strategy Can Boost Local SEO

Your Company Needs a Social Media Strategy

User-generated content on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are now a required element of a comprehensive location-based search program. It’s now just a matter of developing the right social media strategy that will give your marketing efforts the greatest possible impact.

Selecting the right social media strategy allows you to:

  • Communicate directly with your customers and prospects
  • Create engaging discussion topics
  • Go viral with your marketing
  • Boost your online brand-awareness
  • Organically propel your business to the top of local search results

The speed at which the social media landscape is evolving can make social media sites confusing places for most marketers.  Here are a few basic tips that can help your company achieve your marketing goals with a social media strategy:

1. Build a fan base on Facebook.  Nearly 50% of Facebook users follow a specific brand. Most will eventually purchase that brand. Facebook “Likes” have the potential to spread your brand awareness virally, delivering information to your fans and everyone befriended by your fans.

2. Tweet to keep in direct touch with your customers.  One in every four Twitter users follows a specific brand. Nearly 70% percent of them will end up purchasing that brand. Use your Twitter account to engage consumers by providing them with helpful information about your products and services. Incorporatr special offers, videos, and/or images to your Twitter followers.

3. Encourage customers to rate and review your business.  Consumers love online reviews because it allows them to see what others think about your business before making a purchasing decision. Reviews on social media sites improve your search engine rankings by helping drive free web traffic.

4. Leverage YouTube in local search results.  Embed your videos in Google Place Pages, websites, and social profile pages. Videos showcase your products and services, while putting a human face on your business.

5. Give customers incentives to share your information online.  “Share and Receive a Reward” programs encourage consumers to share your offers with their friends via Facebook, Twitter and other web channels. In exchange, offer discounts, special prizes or rewards.

6. Pinterest gets a huge amount of referral traffic. Your content must be visually “Pin-Worthy” in order for this social media portal to be effective for you.

Creating an effective social media strategy marketing will make it easier for your customers to find your business. It also makes it easy for your customers to spread the word about you online. The result can greatly amplify your web marketing results, generate calls, and boost your long-term brand awareness.

Online Reputation: How Is Yours?

Today anyone can ruin your online reputation in minutes.

How is your company’s online reputation? You may not be aware of it, but your business could be getting a negative online reputation. Negative attention can come from anywhere: an unsatisfied customer, a disgruntled ex-employee or a competitor aiming to smear your name.

To maintain control of your brand, you need to adopt a reputation management strategy. If not addressed, negative comments and posts tend to take on a life of their own. They show up on Google, Twitter, Facebook or anywhere in the digital world.

Managing your online reputation takes a well thought out strategy that consists of several elements to ensure that you continue to be seen in a positive light.  These elements include:

Monitoring. Monitor your current position. Search your company’s name and the names of your employees, sales staff, competitors and vendors. What do you see? Is there anything negative showing up? If so, can you respond to it by way of a comment section? This is the exact same information your customers will see, of course, when they look you up. Next, conduct the same searches on your competitors. How does their online reputation compare? How does your reputation stack up?

Evaluation. Evaluate the content of the mentions, and decide which ones need to be followed up, and how you intend to do that. Also consider who is saying it; what’s their reach? Is it someone influential? Is a just a troll? As a rule, engaging trolls is counter-productive. Someone influential requires kid glove treatment.

Reaction. Speed is a critical factor. If you spot trouble, get into the conversation early. This can prevent the problem from festering and gathering its own momentum. Before you leap in, make sure you understand the issue. Address the sites and comment-makers directly, offering them a chance to explain their negative feelings so that you can offer some sort of reconciliation. Or request that they take potentially slanderous content down immediately. One common tactic is to try and take it offline and reach resolution that way, rather than have the entire affair become a matter of public record.

Remember, it’s illegal for people to defame you, so don’t hesitate to consider legal action if the problem warrants it.

Online reputation management has grown increasingly complex. It requires relentless attention to what’s being said about you online. You must pay constant attention to a diverse group that now includes media, public relations, environmental groups, bloggers, social media professionals and citizen journalists. Armed with little more than a computer and an opinion, anyone can undo a company’s online reputation instantly by disseminating misinformation and innuendo.

Google Plus – Not Just Another Social Network

Have you created a business profile on Google Plus?  Before you roll your eyes at the prospect of signing up to yet another social network, there are some compelling reasons to promoting your brand on Google Plus.

Like other social networks, Google Plus allows business to setup a business profile.  But that’s where the similarities end.  Google insists that Google+ is a “social layer”: not just a destination site, but something that Google has added as a layer across many of its properties.  In addition:

  1. Google Plus has over 250 million registered users – a pool of potential customers too large to ignore.
  2. It’s Google – the number one search engine in the world.  And as stated by Google CEO Larry Page, Google Plus gives business owners the upper-hand by allowing them to tap into the search engine traffic. 

Unlike some other social network sites, learning Google Plus can be a little more involved.  So what are some of the components that go into making Google Plus unique?

Circles

You can group people into different circles.  The best part is that the people you add to a circle don’t need to be on your friends list.  You can add anyone to any circle.  You’ll then receive updates from anyone you’ve added to one of your circles as a news feed – similar to the ‘follow’ in Twitter that allows you to read the update of others.

Hangouts

Hangouts allow you to have a video conversation with people in your circles.  You get to meet that want to meet.  It’s one of the most unique (and according to Google) best features on Google+.  Hangouts allow you to have multi-person video or group video chatting and stop paying Skype for group video conversations.

+Mobile

+Mobile allows you to take videos or photos of your mobile device and upload it immediately with geo-location. And you decide if your media should be private or public.  Google location services provide a list of public location that you can choose from, similar to Foursquare.

Sparks  

Sparks allow you to start up a conversation about pretty much anything that interests you.  Enter any of your interests into Google Plus and it will return article that you may want to read about your topics of interest.  According to Google, you’ll no longer have any reason to use bookmarking sites such as Delicious, Digg, and StumbleUpon once you have Sparks.

Huddled

Huddled is group conversation feature that allows you to chat with groups of people.  It’s similar to chat features on MSN, Skype, Blackberry Messenger, and others too numerous to name here.

+1 (Plus 1)

People can say they ‘Like’ something in Goggle Plus by +1′ing it. (Plus 1). +1′ing has been going on for a while now, but until recently your +1′s could only seen inside Google Plus. Now your +1’s can be seen outside of Google Plus in a place we all want to be seen: Google Search!  That has tremendous marketing potential for any business.  What marketer doesn’t want to get free Word-of-Mouth advertising?

Conclusion

So what is Google Plus, then?  Think of it as a combination of several popular social media and/or web services in one box, such as Facebook, Twitter,  Yelp, Pinterest, Instagram, Digg, plus other popular services you’re probably already using on a daily basis. If you’re already using any of those services, the learning curve for Google Plus should be a short one.

QR Codes Bring Your Coupons to Life

Using QR Codes on Your Print and Mobile Coupons

QR codes are a great way to provide more information about a product or service, or to provide customers with a redeemable coupon. Most businesses long ago realized that couponing is a win-win situation for both consumers and businesses – consumers save money while sales are generated for your businesses. If you haven’t already, your business should consider QR codes on your print and mobile coupons? So how do QR codes and coupons go hand in hand?

QR codes are appearing everywhere, from brochures to the actual products. They are a great way to provide more information about a product or service, or to provide customers with a redeemable coupon. Several advantages other advantages over the traditional paper coupons are:

  1. Easy
  2. Convenient
  3. Green
  4. Create loyalty
  5. Easily tracked
  6. Can be shared

QR codes have the ability to enhance virtually any static marketing piece from billboard, print ad, bus stop signage, etc. In addition, a QR code is a powerful and easy way to capture your mobile audience. Embedding them with mobile coupons, you can drive both in-store and online sales.

Consumers love the ease, immediacy and convenience of simply taking a quick snapshot to access interactive content. Meanwhile, marketers enjoy the ability to track user access, interaction and effectiveness of the campaign. Again, engaging mobile users through QR codes also provides the perfect opportunity to solicit mobile numbers to continue the conversation with future offers.

Brand engagement will only increase as phones get smarter and scanning becomes easier with more and more apps become available to capture any QR code quickly.

This high-tech mobile marketing magic may sound overwhelming, especially. But it’s actually very easy to implement. There are a number of free online QR code generators that are simple to use. You just drop in the text, URL, content or action to be performed, and copy and paste the resulting image into the marketing profile of your choice, whether an email, newsletter or onto a mobile site.