local internet marketing

Regardless of the type of business you own, you have competitors. Even if you own a store in a small town, the chances are good that somebody there is chasing the same customers you are.Spy on competition

Have you ever thought that it would be helpful to know what your competitors are doing to attract customers? You can walk into their store and look around, but that’s not going to help you understand what’s bringing customers to their door. What will help, though, is spying on them online.

Why You Should Spy on the Competition

Some business owners recoil at the idea of spying on their competitors. The word “spying” can have a negative connotation, but in this situation it doesn’t have to. Certainly if you had a competitor who advertised on television, you wouldn’t run away or hide your eyes when their commercials aired. On the contrary, you would most likely watch them with a great deal of interest. You would want to know what they were saying and who they were targeting.

Spying on your competitors online is no different from watching their commercials or paying attention to their ads in the local paper. It’s a way of evaluating them. Not only can it help you understand who they are, it can help you spot opportunities they might be missing.

Let’s look at an example. Imagine that your competition has a Facebook page with a large following. When you look at the page, though, you notice that there are some customer service complaints there that haven’t been addressed. What does that tell you? It says that they are not utilizing social media to improve their customers’ experience. That observation can point to an opportunity for you. Providing great customer service on your Facebook page can help you differentiate yourself from the competition.

In addition to spotting marketing opportunities, spying on your competitors can also help you:

  • Understand how they want to be perceived online
  • How they differentiate themselves from the competition (that means you!)
  • What their future plans are
  • How much traffic their website and social media pages get
  • How engaged their customers are
  • What their customers are saying about them

The above information can help you do a better job of reaching your customers and differentiating yourself from the competition – and the only way to get it is to spy on your competitors. In case you need an additional incentive, it may help to keep in mind that there’s a good chance your competitors are already spying on you! You might as well return the favor.

Tools to Help You Spy on the Competition

It might seem time consuming to spy on your competitors online, but it doesn’t have to be. You can take the time to gather some basic information on your own and then make use of the dozens of useful tools that are available to make the job easier.

Gathering Basic Information

The first thing you need to do to spy on your competitors is to gather some basic information. For example:

  • The URL of their website
  • The address of their Facebook page
  • Their Twitter handle
  • The keywords they are targeting on their website

Once you have this basic information, you can use it to set up automated monitoring. There are plenty of tools that you can use, and many of them are free. Here are some of the most useful:

  1. Google Alerts is a free tool from Google. You can use it to set up alerts and receive an email every time one of your competitors is mentioned online. You can also use it to monitor keywords if you wish.
  2. SocialMention is a free search tool you can use to find out when your competitors are mentioned on social media, blogs, and videos. You can use it to search your competitors’ names or keywords. They also offer the option to subscribe to an RSS feed for your chosen search terms so you can be sure not to miss anything.
  3. Marketing Grader is another free tool that assigns you (or your competitor) a grade based on how successful your online marketing efforts are. It is especially useful because it takes information from various sources to arrive at the grade, including blogging, SEO, and social media.
  4. MonitorBacklinks is a paid tool, but they do offer a free trial period. You can use it to check out your competitor’s backlinks – an important tool for SEO – and while you’re at it, you can also check your own!
  5. Topsy is a free tool that lets you monitor your competitors’ activity on Twitter and other sources going all the way back to 2006. They have a premium option too, and you can monitor links, videos, photographs, and industry influencers.
  6. SEMRush is another free tool that you can use to get tons of information about your competitors’ websites. It will give you data about keywords, search rankings, keyword traffic, and ad performance. Even better, it puts all of your data into a nice, graphic format that makes it easy to read and analyze.
  7. SpyOnWeb is a free tool that will help you track down any websites your competitors own. Some companies have blogs or secondary sites, and SpyOnWeb will let you look up the sites by IP address so you can connect the dots.

These are just a few of the tools that are available to help you spy on competitors. Of course, it can also help to make some of your spying hands-on. You can learn a lot by following your competition on Twitter or Facebook, or by subscribing to the RSS feed of their blog. The main thing to remember is that the more information you have, the better able you will be to differentiate yourself from the competition.

As a local business owner, you know that you are competing for the same customers and sometimes you don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to marketing online. Sometimes; A little bit of smart spying can leverage the good ideas of your competitors into profits for your own business.


7 Local Marketing Myths That Are Holding Your Business Back

There is a unique challenge to online local marketing. Your competition pool is often smaller and much more unique. Therefore the goal of getting to the first page of search results seems easier toholding-business-back obtain. It may even seem cheaper, since all you have to do is beat out a few hundred businesses.

Perhaps you, as a business owner, have decided to do your own online local marketing. You’ve searched online for information on how to get the results you want. You’ve created a plan, and now you’re ready to take action.

But wait. Before you take that first step, there’s something that I need to tell you: chances are the information you’ve gathered is woefully out of date.

In fact, chances are most local business owners are using online marketing tactics that may be ten years old.

“How is that possible?” you ask. After all, you checked the date of your information. Some of it was published as recently as a few days ago.

Search engines change their algorithms daily. These changes are often minor, but they add up to bigger changes, like Google’s recent change favoring mobile-friendly websites (more on that later). So tactics that may have worked ten years ago do not work now. In fact, search engines penalize some of those tactics. If you get hit with penalties, it’s improbable that you will show up in the search engines at all.

Here is a list of seven local marketing myths you may be buying into that are keeping your business from achieving online success.

Myth #1: Quick SEO Can Help You Get on Page 1

There are no shortcuts when it comes to ranking in SEO. A long term, consistent approach is needed in order to be successful. Sometimes, even the best plan to get on the first page doesn’t come to fruition.

There are hundreds of factors that decide where your website is going to rank in a search engine. One of those factors is how long your website has been around. If it’s less than a year old, your chances of getting on page one are about 2-3% at best.

Search engines put their trust in older websites with an established history. Those websites that are ranking on page one for your keyword have been around for years. Even if they haven’t, they’ve probably got other ranking factors working for them that you aren’t seeing. It is highly unlikely that any “quick SEO” technique is going to work in your favor. It’s better if you simply invest in a solid, long term plan and exercise some patience.

Myth #2: Microsites Will Help You Boost Your Rankings

The logic is fairly simple. Ranking a microsite is easier than ranking a huge site, right? And the microsites will contain general information that will point people back to your business. So you can pull in traffic from these sites without investing a lot of money in SEO for your company website.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it doesn’t work like that anymore. The days when you could use dozens of keyword-based microsites to get search engine rankings are gone.

Search engine algorithms have been updated to exclude any network of websites that point to the same domain. So if you’re looking to use 50 plumber-based keyword microsites to point back to your business websites, think again. You’re more likely to get penalized than be rewarded.

Myth #3: Your Keyword Needs to Be in Your Domain

This springs from the second myth involving microsites. Having someone search for “laptop repair” and seeing “laptoprepair.com” at the #1 position will garner clicks.

Except for one thing: if you actually search for “laptop repair” in a search engine, the first results to come up are going to be businesses with brand names as their domains, like “geeksquad.com.”

Brand names are more important than keywords in search engine results. The moral: focus on establishing your brand instead of trying to rank for a keyword. If your brand is associated with that keyword, you’ll be rewarded with higher rankings.

Myth #4: You Need Multiple Phone Numbers for Tracking Purposes

This is another myth that springs from myth #2. When setting up microsites, each site would have its own separate phone number. That way the business owner could see which sites were performing the best, and which ones needed to be cut.

A search engine uses your phone number to identify your business as unique. Multiple phone numbers confuses the search engine, and can hinder your online marketing efforts. Stick to one number. It’s easier to maintain.

Myth #5: You Don’t Need Social Media

It is true that some businesses won’t get a lot of attention on social media. But you still need to use it to your advantage. You can use it to connect with other local businesses that compliment your services. You can report on local events, or curate information that is of interest in your niche. Doing these things can position you as an expert in your field.

Myth #6: Optimizing Your Site for Mobile is a Waste of Time

Maybe this was true a few years ago, but now it’s a necessary part of having a website.

In fact, in early 2015 Google launched an algorithm change that rewards mobile-friendly websites with higher rankings. They’re placing more emphasis on mobile traffic, since more than 50% of internet traffic comes from mobile sources. That number will continue to grow.

Optimize your website for mobile. You’ll boost your rankings and get more traffic.

Myth #7: Reviews Affect Your Rankings

Your reviews have nothing to do with your rankings.

Your reviews are just that: reviews. They do affect how customers view your business, but they don’t affect how search engines rank your website.

If you’re worried about bad reviews and a bad reputation, you shouldn’t be. Be proactive. Respond to negative reviews in a very professional manner. Most of the time you’ll find you can resolve the issue. This impresses upon potential customers that you care about their experience with you and you want to satisfy them.

In truth, the right response to a bad review is better than a dozen glowing reviews.

Local marketing can be pretty confusing. It’s easy to come down with information overload. If you’re still using any of these myths in your local marketing plans, make immediate adjustments. You don’t want to purposefully hold your business back from reaching its full potential.


Drawing in traffic to your Web site takes time and a great strategy. This especially holds true when you’re using search engine optimization. What a lot of small business owners are finding to be quicker and just as service-ppc-21effective are pay-per-click ads. By implementing PPC ads into your marketing campaign, you can target specific people at certain times of the day right away. While with SEO, you have to wait months before you get a chance to achieve a ranking that will allow your site to be found by visitors.

But this doesn’t mean you should choose one over the other. PPC ads can be highly effective for small businesses, especially those that are brick and mortar, since they can target local audiences. Just keep in mind that SEO is a part of building a successful PPC campaign. While you’re creating your strategy, make sure not to make these five common beginner mistakes.

Failing to Choose Keywords Based on Buyer Intent

Your first intention when you start searching for keywords to use for your PPC ads is to find all relevant keywords that have high search volumes. Unfortunately, search volume of a keyword alone isn’t going to ensure the profitability of that keyword. This is because it may not have a buyer intent behind it. If your buyers aren’t clicking on it, then your traffic won’t convert.

The search queries you choose (the keyword phrase people will type in to find your business) should be carefully thought out. Research will have to be performed to determine how your target buyers are finding your small business. If you already have Google Analytics connected to your Web site, you can use that to find this out.

The keyword phrase should be quite specific. For example, if you see the key phrase “home insurance” and it has over 15,000 searches per month and costs $26 per click, this isn’t a good option. Home insurance is too generic. What would be better is “buy home insurance” or “home insurance quotes”, especially if they have a high search volume.

Not Eliminating Worthless Traffic Using a Negative Keyword List

This feature in your PPC campaign can and should be put to use. If your local small business sells handmade furniture, you may have people searching for DIY articles and videos about making handmade furniture. So you want to make sure that you eliminate those DIYers, since they aren’t looking to buy. You could eliminate keywords like “DIY”, “How to” and “video”. Controlling you traffic will ultimately enable you to control your PPC budget.

Sending Traffic to the Wrong Pages

When people click on your small business ad, where are they taken to? If you aren’t sending them to a landing page that will help them to convert into paying customers, then you need to rethink your strategy. A common mistake made by beginners is driving traffic to a home page or contact page.

When someone clicks on your ad, they are interested in whatever it is your small business offers. The page they land on should help them find more information about your product or service and how to purchase, aka sealing the deal. Otherwise, you will have frustrated individuals leaving your site within seconds, sending your bounce rate soaring.

Your best bet is to create specific landing pages to use for your pay-per-click ad campaign. You can then offer special deals to the incoming traffic. The ads should also be related to the copy in your PPC ads. To do this, build a landing page for each and every offer you have.

Not A/B Testing Your Ads

You won’t know what works until you test it out. Guessing what you think will work and then failing is going to quickly deplete your PPC budget. A/B testing, also known as split testing, can be used to determine which ads perform the best. You simply create two or more slightly different variations of an ad and watch them for a few days or weeks.

What you should be paying attention to is the quality of the traffic, versus the quantity. It’s better to have a lower amount of converting traffic than a high amount of non-converting traffic.

An example would be to have one ad say “Save 25% on Bed Sheets” and another that says “Buy Bed Sheets 25% Off”.

Not Using a Strategy for Your PPC Budget

If the issue with your PPC campaign is that you’re running out of money too quickly, then there is an issue with your strategy. If your ads are only running half the day because the budget depletes before giving you the results you desire, then you will have to either raise your budget or use ad scheduling.

As a small business, you may struggle with the idea of increasing your budget, after all it’s the reason why you created that budget in the first place. If this is the case, you should look to using ad scheduling to help keep traffic coming in during the times of day your target buyers are shopping.

To determine this, you’re going to have to find out what time of day and which days of the week your buyers are converting. Using this as your schedule will help you to get more out of your campaign, without having to break your bank account.

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There are a few other ways you can get more out of your smaller budget:

  • Divide your campaigns and ad groups and make them more specific with short lists of keywords
  • Add a longer list of negative keywords
  • Get rid of the high-cost keywords
  • Use keyword match types that are more restrictive, like broad match or phrase match modify

Make Sure You Run a Successful PPC Campaign

When you own a small brick and mortar business, the goal of your PPC campaign is to drive in local traffic. Keep in mind that you should be using specific keywords that include the names of your city and surrounding cities. Tie in these five tips and you should be able to save your PPC campaign and your budget.