Do you have a Google Plus business profile yet? Your small business needs one. Most small business owners ignore it or think it is a non-essential social media platform. Google Plus actually plays an important role in your SEO strategy. By now you’re unfashionable late but incorporating Google Plus into your small business marketing plan might be in your best interest.
Even though many users do not actively use their Google Plus account, it carries a lot of SEO weight. It is now the second largest social network behind Facebook. Even though it is still very far behind Facebook, it still provides an enormous audience to share your content.
We all know Google is the most valuable search engine to drive internet users to your business. Ask yourself, why wouldn’t I want to promote my business on the most popular search engine? Your current SEO is already geared toward Google’s search engine rankings. Google will rank its content on Google Plus higher than its competitors.
What can Google Plus do for your small business? Reach new local customers. Google Plus will allow you to reach a local audience quicker by connecting your business with people looking for your content or services. Facebook and Twitter are great for existing relationships but developing a new network of followers will be slow and more challenging.
For more information about using Google Plus as a Social SEO Tool, contact tiburon interactive today!
Do you recall when you last evaluated your inbound marketing strategy for your small business?
Small business marketing is always evolving with new marketing tools and platforms along with your customers. Believe it or not, it is important to evaluate your current strategy every six months. If you never have or if it’s been too long to remember, now is the time. January 2nd is NOT the time.
First, revisit your original marketing goals you set for your business. Are they still accurate and are your priorities in line with your goals? After reviewing, determine if it’s time to go in a different direction.
Next, has your target market changed or remained the same? If you don’t have a clearly defined profile of your target market, your entire staff will not be on the same page. It is vital to know your demographics and their interests and knowing where to reach them.
Does your brand need a makeover? Do you have a consistent brand image across all inbound marketing channels? When customers see your brand online, they need to know who you are and what you are. If your brand is outdated, it may be time to consider a rebrand of your business.
Finally, are you tracking your return on investment of your inbound marketing strategy? Do you know which marketing channel is providing the best results? It may be time to scrap some channels and allocate more resources and time to more profitable ones. Not tracking your ROI will cost you time and money in the long term.
About tiburon interactive
tiburon interactive is an inbound marketing agency focused on driving more leads to small and medium sized businesses. With over 10 years of small business marketing experience, we have helped hundreds of businesses increase brand awareness, increase lead generation activities while increasing profitability.
For the past 2-3 years, website design has been evolving. Web design was always a simple concept. Make sure it looked good, was user friendly and that is functioned well on PCs and laptops. Most consumers are not using PCs or laptops anymore. Your website must display and function well on all devices and screen sizes like your smartphone and tablets. Your website must be responsive to allow your webpages and its content to adjust to each browser screen.
Why is this so important now? Responsive web design was considered an additional feature to have for your website prior to 2013. As 2014 is fast approaching, it is now essential and no longer an option for your small business. At one time it was predicted that mobile Internet users would outnumber desktop users by 2013.
As a small business owner, if your website is not mobile friendly, how much revenue from mobile traffic do you think is going elsewhere? The short term cost is relatively low to adjust to but the long term cost of ignoring the adoption of a responsive web design will cost you revenue and long term success in your local market. Even large ecommerce sites have reported up to 20% of their website hits come from mobile devices.
What does this do for local Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
If you’ve gone mobile and have done it right, your mobile visitors will stay longer on your site and stay engaged longer. Having a more responsive website will give you an advantage over your local competitors. How? If a potential customer has to try and zoom in to get a better look at your website, you’ve failed and they will most likely go on to the next one. Local search results will provide the user easily accessible results via their mobile device. Therefore, keeping the user on your site. Finally, Google prefers responsive web design because it is easier to index and organize content.
Consumers surveyed by respected market research firm BIA/Kelsey said they now turn to local online search more than word of mouth for local shopping and business information, though they still rate friends and family as the most trustworthy information sources on local businesses. Local online search also beat word of mouth for follow-through to a purchase.
Some other signs from the survey about how to attract local customers this holiday season:
- 94% said they went online to research or make a local purchase in the previous 6 months.
- Close to 60% had made a local purchase online.
- 32% said they were using social media more compared to a year ago for local shopping purposes.
- Consumers reported they are on an average of 8.8 contact lists from local businesses.
- Score one for tradition: Print coupon use beat out online and mobile coupon use 49% to 40%.
For more findings from the BIA/Kelsey consumer survey, check out this infographic.
Want more information to learn how to improve your local online presence?
Have you received an email yet from Google notifying you that you qualify for a custom Google+ URL? For the past few weeks Google has been emailing personal Google+ account holders to claim their custom URL. If you didn’t receive one for your business page, simply login and you should see a notification on your business page. Your email from Google will start with this:
“You're now eligible for a unique Google+ custom URL that lets you easily point people to your profile (no more long URLs!).”
Is claiming your Google+ URL important?
Yes! If you already have a Google+ page then you know how long and inconvenient it is to share. Our old Google+ URL included the numeric value of pi. After claiming our custom Google+ URL, we can now be found at google.com/+Tiburoninteractive. Much, much easier to remember and share.
How do I qualify?
Like anything else Google, they will let you know. Your account must be in good standing. Not sure what that means or how you get in poor standing. Your personal account must have 10 or more followers, be at least 30 days old and have a personal profile picture. Do you have a local Google+ page? You must be a verified business. If you don’t have a local Google+ page, your page must be linked to your business website.
Once you receive your email from Google or once you see the notification on your business page, it takes less than 30 seconds to set up your custom Google+ URL. Google will allow you to choose from the URL(s) you have been approved for. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to create your own or change it after it has been approved.
New to Google+? Please read “How to use Google+ for Small Business Marketing" to get started.
It’s important for small businesses to establish a local online presence in order to be found by local people looking for their product and services. Search engines are always evolving and their results are becoming more personalized based on the user searching for a local business. It’s not about on-site SEO anymore. Search engine rankings now factor in your location, your search history and your social media network or following. Below are some simple local SEO tips for small business owners to use:
Set up Local Search Profiles on Online Directories
Please make sure to write this sentence down, “If you’re not there, you’re not an option.” This is one of the most important things I can teach a small business owner. Take the time to set up local profiles on all the main search engines and local directories like SuperPages.com, YellowPages.com and Yelp. They all offer a free listing and most will even allow you to upload your logo, photos and a video. Take a few minutes each week and look for new directories relevant to your industry to be listed in. Depending on which search engine, app or keyword phrase the user is using, local search profiles are often the most relevant listings seen on the search results.
Use Local Keyword Phrases on Your Website
This is important in any industry and market but it is especially important if you are in a very competitive industry. Nobody likes to do keyword research but it has to be done. First, research what online users are using to search for your services and find out how those keywords perform nationally. After you have chosen relevant yet high quality keywords, insert your city and/or state with the keyword phrase. Instead of using “windshield replacement,” you would use “windshield replacement phoenix” or “windshield replacement phoenix, az.”
Make Your Contact Info Visible on Every Page
A rule of thumb is to display your phone number on every page on the upper right hand corner of your page either right above or right below your menu. Most people read left to right and they will easily find your number. In addition to your contact page, try and place your phone number and address on the footer area of each page. Remember, people like to do business with local businesses. They like to see where you are located.
Complete and Optimize Your Social Media Pages
Don’t just fill out the basic information and don’t leave any blank areas. Like your business website, your social media pages need to be completely filled out and optimized. Include some of the same local keyword phrases that you used for your website. Many users will want to engage with you on social media and others will use it as a starting point to either call you or take further action by visiting your website before contacting you.
Step into the World of Mobile
Today most users are searching on their smartphones and tablets. It is vital that your visitors can clearly see your website and navigate on it from their mobile devices. If they can’t, they won’t call you or visit you. If your business website was custom built, talk to your website designer to make sure your website is mobile friendly. If you built your website using a template, check to see if it provides a mobile version or has a mobile app. Anymore, website template builders will provide a mobile version of your website so they don’t lose out on any business.
During one of my meetings with one of our SEO clients, an auto glass company, the owner asked why it takes so long to rank for their targeted keywords on the first page on Google. Focusing on keyword rankings only is not always the best way to rate the success of your SEO strategy, we do understand the higher you rank on the search engines, you should see more traffic and hopefully customers to your business. Focusing just on keywords will limit your ability to better understand how successful your SEO strategy really is.
Here are some SEO tips to consider when looking at your keyword rankings:
- How competitive are your targeted keywords?
Keywords with higher search volume will be more competitive and harder to rank for organically. I mentioned this particular client is in the auto glass industry. There is extreme competition in this industry no matter what market or markets you do business in. It’s much easier to rank for longer tailed keywords with less competition than it is with shorter tailed keywords that everyone is fighting for. Devise a strategy that focuses on quality keywords phrases that will provide you value by targeting the right visitor and will help you increase your rankings for the more competitive keywords.
Also, don’t be fooled by shady SEO tactics. It’s common for SEO firms to pull up ranking reports for keywords that have no search volume and will provide zero value if you’re ranking number one. What’s the point of ranking in the top spot on Google if no one is using that keyword phrase?
- Are you seeing an upward trend in your rankings, even if you’re not on the 1st page yet?
It’s unrealistic to have a successful SEO strategy if you’re only looking at 3-4 keywords to rank for. You have to look at the big picture. Yes, the majority of traffic will come from 3-4 keywords but there are many more that potential customers are using to find your business. Once you have a solid list of keywords, begin tracking their progress. How many are you ranking for now than when your SEO campaign started? How many keywords jumped from page 3 to page 2? Patience will go a long way with every little SEO success.
- How long have your local competitors been doing SEO?
I always get a good laugh in when my SEO clients always want to know why they are not ranking up there with these major companies and why they can’t seem to break the top 10 for keywords like “auto glass.” It is possible to compete, but it’s going to take patience and a very long term commitment to compete for various keywords. If you’re first to the market or you’ve been at the top for years, taking on these major companies is no easy task. Focus on the areas they are not in and you will eventually see long term SEO success.
Depending on what industry and local market your business operates in,
there is only so much organic SEO traffic your website can attract for certain keyword phrases. There will come a time when your organic traffic will flat line and your most impactful keywords will not see the explosive growth you once saw in the beginning. However, that doesn’t mean your SEO strategy
won’t have any more success stories to celebrate.
Below are 3 “small” SEO successes your small business shouldn’t ignore:
- Organic traffic is increasing year over year.
Always remind your customers to not compare organic traffic month to month. Every business is going to have slow months and peak months. Instead look at the overall trend and you should see an overall increase in your organic traffic from the previous year. One of my customers lost about 10% of their organic traffic in July and August. Typically, those two months are busy but it was more stagnant than expected. Year over year their organic traffic had increased over 60%! Now that is a SEO success story for any small business.
- Increase in referral traffic
Over the past few years we’ve all heard one too many times that content is king. There is some truth to that. Developing a content marketing calendar with your own business blog gives you more opportunities to earn links from other content sites. Over time your blog will pick up some traction and before you know it, authoritative and industry sites will be sending referral links back to your website. These links are high quality and naturally earned links seen by hundreds, even thousands of people. It’s a sign that your content is engaging and drawing the attention of the right people.
- Increase in the number of keywords sending visitors to your website.
Online visitors looking for your services will not always search for you using the same keyword phrases that you might expect them to. You will always have your most impactful keywords but along the way you want to pick up different ones. I might need my A/C unit repaired and search for “ac repair Goodyear az.” My neighbor down the street might search for “hvac company Goodyear.” Your online presence will become stronger by pulling in visitors using keywords your website is not even targeting. It may not seem like a lot when 1-2 new visitors per keyword are visiting your site, but it will add up over time if your website is picking up 20 or more keywords over time.
Most local business owners find it challenging or assume it is challenging to stand out in their local market. I don’t blame them. If you’re an A/C and Heating Repair Company, the competitor down the street probably offers the same services. When it comes to Local SEO, it’s important to find where your competitors are and where they are not. This will help you separate your local business from the local competition. Here are a few tips:
If you’re in a competitive industry and you’re located in Goodyear, AZ, it may be too competitive to target the entire Phoenix, AZ metro area. In a perfect world, you want to attract customers from all over the valley, but you will see quicker results by targeting your location, even your neighborhood. You might not see as much traffic but you will rank quicker by targeting local keyword phrases.
- Actually Use Social Media
Many small businesses will set up a Facebook and Twitter page and never use it to its full potential. They might post once a month or every other month when it crosses their mind. Don’t get caught up in how may LIKES or FOLLOWERS you have, rather, focus on real customers. Use social media to reach out to your current customers to stay in touch with and keep them up to date with what’s new with your business. Staying top of mind with your customers will help drive repeat business and referrals.
I know as a business owner we wear many hats. But getting in the habit of asking for reviews is a gold mine. Happy customers love giving reviews. They just need to be reminded to or asked to. Getting reviews on Yelp, Google+ and other review sites help boost your search engine rankings and success. Leverage these reviews sites with social media to offer discounts and promotions to your customers for giving a review. Give them a reason to give a review and to keep coming back.
Take advantage of the free services the search engines have to offer. Google, Yahoo! and Bing all have free directories to submit your business to. Today, many small business owners don’t take advantage of Google Plus. It’s free real estate and of course Google prefers to drive traffic to their own listings. Leverage your business blog by posting links to your blog on Google Plus for customers to read and share. These links will also be indexed by Google giving your website additional links or pages to be ranked on Google.
Small businesses run on tight marketing budgets because of cash flow concerns. Marketing and advertising can be expensive but it’s important to keep your business in front of your local market.
Today, social media and inbound marketing are one of the most cost effective ways to engage with your customers and stay top of mind. Unfortunately, it’s not the only means of marketing you should be focusing on. Here are some offline marketing strategies to help grow your business on a tight budget.
- Develop a 10-second commercial
As a business owner you should be able to market your business at the drop of a hat. Sales professionals focus on a 30-second commercial. You need a 10-second commercial. Time is money and people are in a hurry and you need to engage them now rather than later. Perfect it and people will remember you.
- Get to know your ideal customer
Find out who your customers are and where they spend their time. Where do they hang out? What events do they participate in? Find out and get your message in front of them.
Network and build relationships with other local business owners or executives. Learn to cross-promote each other by learning about each other and their business. Most likely, you or your inner circle will have a need that can be serviced by someone in your network. Promote each other on your social media profiles and exchange marketing materials. You won’t see instant success but in the long term you will have a strong network of businesses and customer base.
Ask your customers for referrals. Naturally, some of your customers will refer potential customers to you. Everyone is busy and giving a referral is not always top of mind. Referrals are a great way to grow your business locally because the potential customer already has some trust built up with you.
Email marketing is another cost effective marketing tool to build relationships and stay top of mind with your customers. Always ask your customers if they want to join your mailing list for upcoming promotions or discounts. Share upcoming events or new products. Try not to be too pushy but be engaging so they look forward to your message and not want to block you. Incorporate social media with your email campaigns to further engage with your network.
- Create promotions and discounts
Regardless if your business is new or has been around awhile, promotions are a great way to drive new customers to your business. People love coupons and they are proven to generate return visits by your customers.
The more offline marketing strategies you can maintain, the more your business will be top of mind with your customers and potential customers. You don’t always have to spend money to make money. It also takes time and effort to grow your business.
Do you have other offline marketing tips that helped you grow your business? Please share it with us.