local internet marketing

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that first step, there’s something that I need to tell you: chances are the information you’ve gathered is woefully out of date.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

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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.

 

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Photo via FreeImages.com/MarkoPekicHow to combat the new Google Local changes with these Google Places Optimization tips!

Chances are if you’re at all tuned in to the digital marketing radio that are the usual marketing news sites online then you already know there’s news on the local front.

Google is now showing only three business instead of seven in the “Local Pack” at least 75% of the time.

Big news?

It’s about as big as the King himself entering the building! (We know, we know, so 50s. Humor us.)

The shake up is unexpected and has done more than rattle rankings. It’s also caused us to take a step back and re-evaluate our sweet, sweet local marketing moves.

Your Name Isn’t Baby and You Aren’t Backed Into a Corner

The good news?

If you had good local, mobile, and digital marketing practices before, chances are you won’t need to change much. After all, good habits pay off in the long run. And if there’s anything Google ranking are it’s a marathon, not a sprint!

The bad news?

If you haven’t been doing anything for local or mobile marketing then you might not be one of the ‘lucky three’ showing up anymore. Fortunately, we’re here to help get you started back on the right path.

So where to start?

  1. Local Listings

Have you been keeping up with your local listings? It’s not enough to only have your Google Places and Google Map location set up. There are other listing agents out there: Yelp, Yahoo, Bing, etc. Don’t forget all those industry specific ones as well!

On the same note, be sure you’ve got your NAP down pat. Don’t remember what that NAP citation is? Read on.

  1. Geo-Targeting SEO

Despite what you hear, SEO isn’t dead. It’s just evolved some. From directory listings to link-earning to keywords, now’s the time to go back and take a look at just what you are marketing for and who you are marketing to.

Also consider going niche. Can you get more specific? Perhaps it’s time to start specializing a bit further than before with your keywords. Chances are there will be less competition and you may just find your true core audience.

  1. Reviews

Who hasn’t chosen a restaurant or a service using Yelp these days? Or double-checked a business on Google reviews, just to be sure they’re open/reputable?

Encourage reviews from your customers. Set up a place in store if you have to that offers shoppers an opportunity to review. Even better, talk to customers as they come through. You get a review, they get a personalized interaction with you. Win-win!

(Just remember, it’s often against terms to offer compensation in any form for reviews; check the service.)

Need help implementing a way for customers to review you online? We’ve got a blog post for that.

  1. Social Media

The sock hop may not be cool anymore but social media still is. We could go on about the benefits of social media: building relationships, establishing brand reputation, customer service, showcasing transparency and trust, providing outreach, etc. (Expect a post some time soon about it all!)

Yet the point remains: Google takes into account just how active your social sites are in relation to your own main page. Particularly since most social platforms allow not only a bio page with your website URL but also allow posting of your own pages.

Not active? Time to sign up!

  1. Mobile Optimization

Rumor has it that mobile may be a factor in how these new Local Pack rankings are determined. Especially as locations show up in 3-packs when using Google on mobile.

Either way,when 51% of Americans surf the new via their smart phones versus desktop users, it can’t hurt to be sure your website is optimized for use on mobile devices.

Time To Boogie on To The Top

Is this a sure fire list? Only time will tell. But these 2015 digital marketing basics are just that: the bottom line. Start here, add on what works for your business, and start building that strong foundation to set your local marketing and local search efforts up for success.

Did we miss anything? Let us know! We’ll try keep you up to date on all the latest Google Places Optimization strategies we use to Rank our Clients inside Local Oxygen.

 

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