When it comes to running a local business, it’s no longer enough just to have a great physical store and expect the customers to come running. Whether you’re a family run shop or store, an accountant, or a large company with multiple locations, local SEO is the only way that you will get the right customer who needs your products to your store, exactly when they need them.
Online search is now consumers’ top choice for finding local businesses, and local SEO is as important as ever. Your Google My Business listing is the first step in optimising your Local visibility (so make sure all of the information there is up to date and relevant), but there are a lot of other things that you can do, to make sure that your business is at the top of its game:
As good as Google My Business is for providing insights into local searches like clicks for directions, website clicks, phone calls and local pack impressions, the rest of the SERP can also be used to direct users to your page. For example, traditional organic search optimisation efforts that are made with a local angle can help to improve your business’s search presence in relevant local markets by inferring that a user is interested in shopping in the local area, showing local-based SERPs instead of generic results.
It’s just a fact that Google rewards websites that are easy to crawl, and using structured data will ensure that your website is easy for Google to both understand and evaluate your product inventory when someone searches online for a product that you may have; this, in turn, improves your store’s chance of showing up in relevant searches.
In simpler local SEO terms, there is nothing more off-putting than looking up a business online only to find that its website, Facebook, Twitter and Google Business listing all show different results, so make sure that your opening hours, services, location and any other information is all up to date across the board. Inconsistencies will give your business a bad reputation and will affect how your business appears online.
As with all SEO, links to and from your website are an extremely important factor in establishing the credibility of your business. Try to consistently share links to and from all of your social media profiles, and boost your local presence by sponsoring local events or helping the local community and sharing the information about it with links to other local businesses involved online. You can also try and be kind to other businesses in your community and share their deals, events and blog posts to build a sense of loyalty and use your website or social media channels like a local hub.
User reviews are a great way to help and build your business’s online presence and credibility, so make sure that you are treating reviews correctly. Whether you receive positive or negative reviews from your customers, you should be responding to them and showing your best side. It also bodes well to encourage your existing customers to leave reviews and ratings across a variety of different platforms to boost your local reach.
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest are the big players in the world of social media digital marketing, but is it time to find the next big thing? Snapchat is no longer just an app used to send risqué pictures that self-destruct, and over the past few years its popularity and usability have sky-rocketed, and here’s why and how you should be using it:
Why: You can contact the right people
Depending on the target audience you have for your brand, Snapchat Ads could be the most appropriate choice of social media to reach the right people. The key demographic for Snapchat is 18-34 year olds, so if you’re looking for young and active, then you can’t get closer than that.
Why: You can show a bit of personality
Different social networks allow you to show different aspects of your business or brand’s personality, and thanks to the live, instant nature and 24-hour time-frame of Snapchat you can be so much more personal and intimate with your potential customers. Providing a first-hand look at the behind-the-scenes areas of your brand will help you to look more personable, relatable and trustable.
Why: You can make direct contact
Facebook’s problem is that most people have to remember to visit your page directly to see your updates, and Twitter is so fast-paced that your updates can be easily missed, but Snapchat is unique in that the app is used by people who physically click on your ‘Story’ to see what you are saying. This is the key part of people’s Snapchat routine, meaning that you have your audience’s undivided attention at all times, and chances are that they are viewing your updates multiple times per day, every single day. What other social media platform offers such a direct and impactful service?
How: Videos and Photos
Media is the way to go if you want to capture the interest of young people and retain their attention, and Snapchat makes it easy to record short videos showing products or explaining how they work; you can also post multiple updates in a row to create an interesting narrative, and even post images from your camera roll like a mini catalogue.
Using personalised and custom-made filters can be a great way to create brand awareness and share your message. You can pay big to add these filters to Snapchat’s list for your brand, create a simple filter for the location of your store or office and even create a geo-filter that only activates when your customers are in a certain area.
How: Paid adverts
Snapchat’s devoted audience is shown adverts every so often while viewing other people’s stories, and you can pay for a branded one to be shown in this way. The most straightforward and controllable form of advertising on Snapchat, you can create all sorts of impactful adverts to appeal to your potential customers.
Thanks to Snapchat’s 24-hour self-destruct policy, it’s the perfect place to offer discount codes and vouchers to your customers. Simply add a quotable code or specific word to any of your Snaps that customers can say in a store, or type in online and get a discount to help boost sales and convert people to actual customers. Sharing deals regularly will also encourage people to keep coming back and looking at your story, so they become immersed in your content.
How: Include links
As well as letting people know new and exciting things about your brand, digital marketers can also add a link or webpage to their Snaps so that users can swipe up from a Snap to go straight to a website which is relevant. This is a great way to keep customers interested and learning more about your business.
Your Questions About Digital Marketing Answered
In today’s hyper-connected world, it is now easier than ever to connect with, contact and communicates with your customers and potential customers online, and that is why having a digital marketing plan is as important as ever. A sort of umbrella term for all of your online marketing protocols, digital marketing includes everything from SEO and Pay Per Click adverts on Google to advertising on Facebook or Twitter and email marketing campaigns.
Digital marketing is a very broad category of marketing, and there are lots of little details that fall under digital marketing that you may never think of, like having the best hosting services possible (to avoid spam or online scams) and even SMS or MMS messages which don’t even involve the internet! There are hundreds of questions that even the most advanced digital marketers don’t know the answer to, but to get you started here are a few of the most common conundrums to help you out:
Does my business really need digital marketing?
The short answer is: yes! Digital marketing is perhaps the most important tool you have when it comes to attracting new customers or users to your website or business, and no matter what type of business you have, digital marketing will be an invaluable asset. The beauty of having a digital marketing strategy is that you can see the results of your efforts in real time as they happen, so you can quickly and easily see what works, in what way it works, and how well your tactics are working too.
Is digital marketing expensive?
There are loads of free and easy ways to implement digital marketing for your business, and you really can achieve some great results without even spending a penny, but once you have exhausted the cost-free ways of marketing online, it may be worth stepping up your digital marketing plan by paying to get even better results.
As long as you have your website hosted through a reputable web hosting company then you can employ some inbound marketing techniques like SEO with only a little bit of research and no cost at all. However, if you are looking to employ outbound techniques such as online pay-per click advertising or buying email lists, then you will have to pay for your results.
Is there a difference between digital marketing and inbound marketing?
You may have heard both the terms ‘digital marketing’ and ‘inbound marketing’ quite a lot, they may even have been used interchangeably in conversation, but is there a difference between the two terms? Whilst both ‘inbound marketing’ and ‘digital marketing’ are extremely similar, there are a few small differences between the two.
In the world of digital marketing, there are both inbound and outbound methods or tactics which can be used, and while the term ‘digital marketing’ as a whole doesn’t differentiate between the push and pull of these tactics, ‘inbound marketing’ is a much more specific term which relates to marketing techniques that actually attract target customers to a website rather than just aiming your efforts at everyone (whether they are interested in your product or service or not).
To put it simply, inbound marketing is digital marketing, but digital marketing isn’t necessarily inbound marketing.
What type of digital marketing content can I create apart from a blog post?
Everyone knows that SEO rich blog posts and websites are the first and most important type of content every digital marketer should be creating for their business, but there are also lots of other great types of content you can create to pique potential customer’s interests.
Infographics, blog posts, and short videos are all easy, shareable nuggets of content that are quick to create and a great way to spread the word about the sector your business is in, or the brand you have created if you have just started using digital marketing effectively; however, e-books and webinars are another form of content you should be thinking about as they allow a lot of room for lead generation, interactivity and are extremely high in value.
So, whether you’re an old hand at digital marketing, or just new to the party, you can take a few hints and tips from this article to help inspire your next big digital marketing campaign and push your business to the next level.
One of the key rules of business is that your potential customers need to be able to find you, otherwise your chance of getting new custom is next to non-existent.
With so much business now being done on-line, the good location and the eye-catching shop front have been replaced with well-placed links and tantalising copy, leading customers away from search pages and straight onto your website.
Bearing this in mind, it’s no surprise that Google can play a huge part in the success – or failure – of any business, no matter what it is you’re trying to sell.
Why you need your Business to be on top of Google Search Results
Some studies have shown that the top result in Google for a specific search term can send more than 30% of customers to the very first company at the top of the first page of results. And the result just below it gets just under 20% of the custom.
With such a huge portion of business going to the top search result, and with such a big gap between the top result and the result immediately below it, you can imagine how tiny a portion of custom goes to those businesses that don’t even make it to the first page. Less than 5% of people go beyond the first page to find what they’re looking for, so you should be aiming to be as high up as you can get.
The big takeaway here is that you need to be thinking about your search rankings unless you want to get left behind. You might have enough business right now, but you need to make sure new customers can always find you, otherwise you could find yourself in a very vulnerable position and entirely reliant on word of mouth in the future.
What is Google SEO?
SEO – or search engine optimisation – is the art and science of getting your business to pop up in Google in the right place, at the right time, and in front of the right people. Using a combination of data and intuition, you can come up with a unique formula that works for your business.
There are good and bad SEO services out there – the bad ones will offer a cookie-cutter solution to lots of businesses which results in them all competing even more heavily with each other for the same generic top spots or most likely encourage Google to penalise their site. The good ones, however, will know how to assess the market and reach the people who are definitely looking for exactly the products or services you’re offering.
One of the ways good SEO differs from bad SEO is in taking into account the language your potential clients are using when they’re looking for the products and services they need. If you sell a very specific make and model of product which is available to consumers, then of course you’ll want to rank highly in Google when someone searches for your product by name.
But you also need to think about those potential customers of yours who might not know the make and model of the product you sell, they only know what problem they want to solve with it, or what need they’re trying to fulfil by finding it.
Being able to work out the right search terms to catch all the phrases these potential customers are using will give you double the potential customer base. For a start, you can reach everyone who is informed enough to search for the make and model of product by name. Secondly, you can catch anyone who doesn’t know the make or model, but does know what they want the product to do, or what problem they want it to solve.
This is why SEO is as much of an art as it is a science. If you can think the same way your customers think (the art) and then use data and technical tools to turn that information into an SEO strategy (the science) you can make your way to the top of Google and leave your competitors behind.
Now over to you. How Google affected your business and what you did about it? please share your experiences in the comments box below.