In 2009, over 67% of consumers searching for local products and services used the Internet.
– Source: SearchEngineWatch.com
In June 2010, Google, Yahoo! And Bing accounted for 95.88% of all Internet searches.
– Source: Hitwise.com
What’s the point? Internet marketing is critical to any local business. Here are the five things every local business should do before considering spending a dime on Internet marketing:
- Know what people actually search for to find your business: Search engines have far less to do with computers and more to do with language. Google provides a free tool for finding out what the most popular searches are for your type of business: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternalThe tool allows you to enter the keywords you think are the best for your business and it will tell you the top 50 or so related terms along with statistics for ranking them. Using the 80/20 rule, make a list of the top 20 keywords related to your business.CRITICAL NOTE: Add the cities within your service area to the list. If you don’t know all of the cities within a county, search for the county name on wikipedia.org and they will provide you with a list of every incorporated city within the county.
- Put the keywords into your site where the search engines can find them. If you want to be found for “purple people eaters” then the words better be in your site where the search engines can associate them with your business. Here are the short-cut methods for making sure the search engines know what your business is about:a. Create a unique title meta tag for each of your site’s main pages using a maximum of 60 characters. Includes your top cities as well.
- EXAMPLES: Lifetime Fence Company – Lewisville | Flower Mound | Denton – or – AC & Heat Solutions | Air Conditioning and Heating | Hurst
b. Create unique description meta tags for each of your site’s main pages using a maximum of 200 characters. Incorporate top keywords and cities so that between all of the pages each is used at least once.
EXAMPLE: JBC Custom Remodeling is your Real interior and exterior expert serving the DFW Metroplex including Dallas, Fort Worth, Richardson, Plano, Frisco, Highland Park, Irving, Lewisvile, Flower Mound.
c. Create two paragraphs. The first tells what you do and includes the top 20 keywords. The second tells where you do it. Length does not matter.
EXAMPLE: The best selection of durable home medical equipment in Denton County including: oxygen supplies, sleep therapy (CPAP & BiPAP), Wheelchairs, lifts and walkers, compression therapy systems, incontinent supplies, diabetic shoes and supplies, foot orthotics and custom orthopedic devices, hospital beds, physical therapy supplies, rehab mobility aids, breast prosthesis and bras, bathroom safety equipment and personal care items.
Over 30 years in Denton county and conveniently located near: Lewisville, Flower Mound, Corinth, Hickory Creek, Denton, Highland Village, Lake Dallas, Coppell, Corinth, Argyle, Aubrey, Bartonville, Carrollton, Copper Canyon, Dallas, Double Oak, Hebron, Justin, Plano, Ponder, Prosper, Shady Shores, Southlake, Trophy Club, and Westlake.
Add the paragraphs to EVERY page in very small text in the footer (the bottom where the copyright info typically is). This information is for the search engines and not designed to impress customers, so do not worry about making it sound consumer-friendly.
- Add an interactive map to your Contact page using the code from either Google or Mapquest. Search engines look specifically for this code on a site to help determine whether it is addressed to local prospects or national. For instance, eBay, Amazon and Dell do not include maps on their site because they are national. Your site should, because you are local.
- Take ownership of your local business listings in places like Google Maps, Yahoo! Local and Bing Local. According to SearchEngineWatch.com, up to 24% of a local business’s new customer contacts can come from a Google Maps listing alone. Make sure your listing accurately reflects your business. Claimed listings with a web address are known to show higher in ranking than unclaimed listings.
- Make asking for online reviews a part of your everyday business. Nearly every online business directory allows consumers to leave reviews. Many even uses the quantity of reviews as a factor for ranking the listings. If you think about human nature, a significantly higher percentage of people who are upset with a business will leave a review than the percentage of satisfied customers. Protect yourself from a bad review by making sure you have multiple good reviews.
The top review sites are:
Make the most of these 5 recommendations and you’ll start seeing results in often less than a month. Done properly, any business can be on the first page of localized search results – and stay there – within 4~6 months.