The Benefits of Online Marketing for Local Businesses
Frequently Asked Questions
According to research done by Webvisible and Nielsen, the top resources consumers turn to to find local information include the following:
• 82% use search engines
• 57% use Yellow Pages directories
• 53% use local newspapers
• 49% use Internet Yellow Pages
• 49% use TV
• 38% use direct mail
• 32% use White Pages directories
The percentage of people using search engines and email newsletters is constantly increasing, while the percentage for newspapers, magazines, and radio decreases.
The web presence of a business is the complete digital footprint of a business found on the Internet. While the website and the written, video and graphical content it contains is the cornerstone of a company’s web presence, there are quite a few other digital locations where a business might have a presence. These include, but are not limited to:
- Links to pages and content on the company’s website from other places on the Internet.
- Social media properties such as a Facebook Page, Twitter account, LinkedIn account (business and personal), company blog, Google +1 account.
- Mentions of a business or website in social media – posts, links, tweets, +1’s, likes, etc.
- Video content created and posted on video sharing sites such as YouTube.
- Local business pages such as Google + Local;
- Listings in business directories like Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, Merchant Circle, YellowPages.com, Whitepages, CitySearch and others.
- Email communications with customers and prospects.
- Press Releases to news and media outlets.
- Content a business has created and shared on other websites.
Building a growing web presence will your business help reach more new customers and prospects while increasing contact with existing customers. Your competitors are growing their web presence, so if you aren’t growing yours then you are falling behind.
People search the web for a business, product or service in different ways. Some people use familiar search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo). Some people will utilize social media such as Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn. Other people may use business directory services like Yelp, CitySearch or FourSquare. There are numerous additional ways Internet users find businesses and these methods continue to evolve at a rapid rate. The more places your business has a presence, the more likely your business will be found.
A growing web presence also helps develops trust and authority for customers and prospects. The more places people see you the bigger and more familiar you are in their minds. In addition, a broader web presence will also frequently enhance search engine rankings for many of the same reasons.
Search engine optimization is an essential component of a business’s marketing and sales strategy. With the rise and rapid growth of the Internet and the demise of many traditional (offline) channels to reach customers and prospects such as the Yellow Pages, having a web presence has become increasingly important if not vital.
Reasons for developing and implementing a clear SEO and web presence strategy include:
- To optimize your web presence and visibility.
- To build better branding and positioning for your business, products and services.
- To increase the online credibility and trust for your business.
- To identify a business’ most effective keywords.
- To rank higher in the search engines.
- To increase traffic from potential customers.
- To increase the number of repeat visitors and customers.
- To Grow Your Business – $
The goals, project scope and budget for search engine optimization and growing a web presence can vary significantly for different businesses. However, the need and importance for having an optimized web presence will only grow over time. At the end of the day, if your customers and potential customers are not finding you on the Internet they are finding your competitors.
Keywords and keyword phrases are a central element of search engine optimization. In its most basic definition a keyword or keyword phrase is the text a web user types into a search box to find relevant information or content. Phrased another way, keywords are descriptions of the information people are searching for and can bring targeted traffic to your website.
Choosing the best keywords for your website and SEO optimization is very important for getting targeted traffic to your website with the greatest chance of converting them to customers and repeat visitors. Effective use of keywords is essential for ranking well and being found on the Internet. Keyword research is focused on locating the optimal keyword phrases for drawing targeted traffic to a website.
Keyword research can frequently be dry and very detailed oriented. To do it well it requires special software tools and experience. However, this type of research and the information it provides is the cornerstone of any successful SEO effort. Many people also consider the optimal use of keywords to be essential for creating and maintaining a successful website as keywords will appear in the website’s page content, in the off-page meta data and frequently in page titles and descriptions.
Local Search is the use of a geographic tag, such as a state, city, or zip code as part of the search phrase when performing a search. Local search is an efficient way for a search engines to deliver relevant, results for businesses, products and services within a limited geographic area. An example of a local search would be entering “italian restaurant chicago” into the search box on Google, Bing or Yahoo.
Businesses with a physical location such as restaurants, repair businesses, contractors, dentists and plumbers, can derive significant benefits from optimizing their web presence for local search opportunities. There are a growing number of online directories and locations where local businesses can develop a presence.
Google, Bing and Yahoo all have services that allow local business owners to create a business listing online with the most accurate, up to date information about their business, products and services. These listing will generally include a link to the businesses website, their phone number and a map showing the business location.
This is a very valid question for small businesses. Especially if budget dollars are tight. One way to answer this question is to look at what your competitors are doing. In evaluating competitors be sure to look at both online and offline (brick and mortar or retail) competitors. If the products or services your business provides can be ordered or delivered via the Internet then your online competitors may be as important or even more important than your local offline competitors.
This is a good example of where, if your potential customers are not finding you, they are finding your competitors. Therefore, a good place to begin in answering this question is to determine how your customers and prospects are currently finding your business. If your business does not currently have a web presence then this could be an opportunity to reach many more potential customers and significantly expand your business. If your competitors have a web presence and you don’t, then you could be losing a lot of business to them now and in the future.