Category Archive : Internet Marketing

17 Reasons why your Local Business Should be Blogging

Blogs:  You’ve probably either read a blog, have written a few posts, don’t understand them, don’t see the value, are intrigued but don’t know where to start, or think its for the kids.  But very few business owners I’ve come across understand the reasons WHY you should be blogging, and actually commit to blogging successfully.  Blogging is a key for a local businesses internet marketing strategy, and here are 17 reasons why you should start today:

1 ) Search engines LOVE it – This should be enough reason to start blogging by itself.  It’s proven that search engines love unique fresh content.  Keep yourself getting found by the search engines by consistently creating new fresh content to index.

2 ) Be the Industry Expert – Blogging allows you to create new content on your industry.  Prospects are researching products and services more and more before they buy.  Make yourself an expert in your field by providing your prospects with articles and facts that give them a reason to buy from you instead of the competition.

3 ) Consumers want to Learn, not be Sold – Lets face it… nobody cares about your products.  They want to solve a problem or fulfill a need or want.  When prospects are searching online, provide them with the information that they are looking for in your industry and move them closer to the sale.  This will also build trust with your company.

4 ) Keep Yourself up to Date – We are all guilty of being a little lazy sometimes, and as much as an expert you think you are in your field, there’s always more to learn.  Consistently blogging will force you to keep yourself up to date with new products, technology, updates, industry news, needs of prospects etc.  It will keep you learning and on your toes.

5 ) Go Viral – People love sharing new and interesting things that they find, especially in their niche.  If the new article, story, list is compelling enough, people will share it with their circle.  All this leads back to you and your website, and new exposure to fans and followers that might not have known you existed before.

6 ) Connect with your prospects – Relationship selling.  If you are not blogging does a prospect have any reason to keep coming back for more?  Create an ongoing relationship with your prospects with new and interesting content.  Speak to them consistently so you are on their mind when they are ready to buy.

7 ) Make Money – There are many ways to make direct cash from your blogging efforts.  One easy way is to set up an affiliate network.  There are many affiliate networks like Commission Junction which are fairly easy to set up so you can link to other sites that sell complimentary products and services, and take a commission of any products that get sold through you.

8 ) Create Touch Points – Do you have a long sales cycle for your business?  In many B2B situations, high value products or seasonal businesses that require many months and touch points from reps to generate a sale, blogging is one of the easiest ways to stay in front of a prospect.  I’m sure they are sick of reps calling them every few weeks asking if they are ready to buy yet… Try writing content, which gives you a reason to reach out to the prospect, and offers something of value that isn’t a sales pitch.

9 ) Increase your Social Network – Many businesses utilize social networks, but fail to generate content.  Grow your fans and followers by giving them value through your writing.  Many businesses are ReTweeting other business articles and information their customers will find interesting… why would you want to give the credit and followers to someone else??  Write unique content and have people follow you because you are the expert.  Every time I write a new blog post, I see my fans start to grow.

10 ) Create Web Traffic – All your posts that end up on social networks will link back to you.  The more fans, the more retweets, the more eyeballs that see what you are writing, the more will visit your site.  Prospects will be led to you through an article that they wanted information about, but end up a customer after they visit your site.  In the long run, its a numbers game, so create more traffic to your site through Blogging.

11 ) Content Lives on for Years – I’m sure at some point, you have been searching online for information, and have come across an article from years ago that had exactly what you were looking for.  Online information doesn’t go away, but gets indexed for years to come.  Write new content and create more avenues for people to find you for years to come.

12 ) Become a Resource – I’ll say it again.  Nobody cares about your products.  Be the go to person when people need help for what you offer.  Your business will increase when you are looked at as a resource instead of a salesperson.

13 ) Don’t be a Brochure – Static brochure-like websites went out with the millennium.  They don’t give anyone a reason to come back to you for more, and don’t generate new visitors to you.  Create value to a visitor, and an actual reason to come back besides just listing your hours and contact info

14 ) Create a Buzz – Do you have a new promotion?  Contest?  Press release?  Blogging is a great way to create a buzz and conversation among your fans and followers.  Open the lines of conversation between you and your prospects and let them into your world.

15 ) Your Competition Is – If you aren’t already blogging, at least one of your competitors probably is.  They are now the industry expert and information resource that is staying in contact with YOUR prospects.  Change this or lose business.

16 ) SEO – Links, Links and more links.  Blogging is one of the best ways to create links to your site and increase your SEO.  Along with this, construct your articles to use keywords that have a high search volume for your industry to keep you high on searches.

17 ) Your Content HUB – Lastly and maybe most importantly, your blog should be your content HUB.  This should be the connection point to your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube channel, Foursquare etc.  All content that you push out to your social networks should lead back here.  This is where people learn about you, research you, keep in contact with you, and decide that they want to do business with you.  Make it count and give people a reason to pick you instead of your competition.

6 reasons why PPC campaigns fail for local businesses

Search Engine Marketing

1)  Advertisers don’t manage their campaigns properly – This may sound simple, but the reason that most PPC campaigns fail is that the advertisers plain just do not manage the campaign.  Search Engine Marketing allows you to keep your campaign constantly improving.  All too many advertisers find the keywords they want to target, and just leave the campaign alone.  In order to be successful in the competitive search engine market, your campaign must evolve and grow over time.

2) Under-Budgeted campaigns – Along with not managing the campaign, under budgeting your campaign is probably the easiest way to have your PPC campaign fail.  What are the current bid prices in your market?  How much will it take you to compete with the competition?  Do you have enough chips to sit at the table?  There are a few techniques to improve the quality of your ads pay less than some competitors, but all in all you will usually want to be in the ballpark.  Would you go to a no-limit texas hold-em game with $10 in your pocket.  No way!  You’d be strong armed out of the game.  Think of the PPC world the same way, come prepared to spend in the range that the search volume and cost per click allow for.

3) Lack of Tracking – When I talk to a lot of local advertisers, it amazes me how many business owners are not tracking results.  With all the tools out there such as Google Analytics, there is no excuse for not tracking results.  How are you ever going to know what is working for you?  How are you tracking ROI?  With Search Engine Marketing, all the tools are there for business owners to see what is working and what isn’t.  To not track results is a waste.

4) Low profit per conversion – For some business models, an owner can do all the right things, and the campaign still will not generate positive ROI.  One huge reason is that the profit margin for your sales needs to be more than the cost of not only acquiring your customers, but also all the other visits to your site that did not buy.  For some low margin industries, search engine marketing is just not cost effective.

5) Customers aren’t searching for your product – Some products the general population of consumers just are not going to search for.  Think about a lot of products that are advertised on infomercials.  Strange items that a person would not think to search for on their own.  Another would be if you were trying to target C-Level executives.  Bidding on your keywords would probably just spend all of your budget to reach the few CEOs that would finally see your ad.  Before starting a campaign, make sure your product is something that is searchable.

6) Long sales cycles – This one is tricky.  If you are a B2B company that has a long sales cycle, multiple touch points with clients, requiring sales reps meeting with clients in the field in order to complete the sale, PPC campaigns may not be the best place to convert sales.  Although, with this business model, search engines can be great lead generators for your reps.  Just stick a contact form on the page, and have the lead act as your conversion

9 free SEO tools to help improve organic search engine ranking for local businesses

1 ) Adwords Keyword Tool – Use Google’s Keyword Tool, and type in a few key terms pertaining to your industry.  The keyword tool will then give you a list of other relative terms and the search volume for the search.  This will help you to make sure you are using terms on your website that a lot of prospects are searching for.

2 ) Wonder Wheel – When you type a search into Google, along the left margin, click on Wonder Wheel, and it will show you similar terms for what you searched for.  Use this to dig deeper and use more targeted keywords.

3 ) Keyword Spy – Use Keyword Spy to look at competitive websites and research what terms they are using as keywords.

4 ) Firefox Rank Checker – Download Firefox Rank Checker and you can see where you stack up against the competition for important keywords on search engines.  Rank Checker will show your domains rank on Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

5 ) XML – SitemapsXML-Sitemaps will walk you through how to create a sitemap for your website which will make it easier to be found by search engines.

6 ) Google Webmaster Tools – Google Webmaster Tools provides you with detailed reports about your pages’ visibility on Google. To get started, simply add and verify your site and you’ll start to see information right away.

7 ) SeoCentro Meta Tag Tool – SeoCentro designed this Meta Tag analysis tool to help webmasters analyze their web pages. This search engine optimization tool analyze not only the Meta Tags but try to use the same spider technology as the search engines spiders them self.  Use this tool to make sure your page is tagged correctly to help organic search results.

8 ) Yahoo Site Explorer Site Explorer allows you to explore all the web pages indexed by Yahoo! Search. View the most popular pages from any site, dive into a comprehensive site map, and find pages that link to that site or any page.

9 ) Google AnalyticsGoogle Analytics is the enterprise-class web analytics solution that gives you rich insights into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness. Powerful, flexible and easy-to-use features now let you see and analyze your traffic data in an entirely new way. With Google Analytics, you’re more prepared to write better-targeted ads, strengthen your marketing initiatives and create higher converting websites.

Changes to Google PageRank algorithm to improve quality of local listings

While the exact Google algorithm has always been a mystery, it has been widely known that the secret “Google juice” for PageRank to get your business to the top consists of keyword relevant content, inbound links coming from across the web that give your page authority, along with social bookmarks from sites like StumbleUpon and Digg, that make your site more important to the search engines.

The game is changing again.

Google wants to be a destination instead of sending consumers to other sites.  In the following image from ReachLocal, you can see that Google is making an effort to keep consumers on their site through tools such as: Google Hotpot for reviews, instead of serving up results to Yelp and CitySearch, Google Places for local directories instead of Yellowpages or Superpages directories, also Google just announced Google Offers to compete against Groupon and Living Social, and who knows whether Google will get on their feet with Google Me and have success with social to compete with Facebook and Twitter.

So how does this affect you… the local small business owner?  It is now more important than ever to have a total web presence, engage fans and followers, keep up with your online reputation, and keep up to date with fresh content, because it’s going to even play a part in whether or not you will be found online.

What should you do to impact your organic results?

  1. Claim and update your Places page (see video in right sidebar)
  2. Invest in content marketing
  3. Build a strong group of fans and followers to impact your search rank
  4. Manage a positive reputation for your business

Bret Talley | Florida Internet Marketing

Bret Talley Image

Hello and welcome to my blog. I am Bret Talley, Florida based Internet Marketer (Ft Lauderdale, Miami, West Palm Beach). If you are a local business owner in Florida, this blog is for you. I have adopted a new approach to marketing, and feel that you should be able to gain the majority of your customers by inbound methods: having your customers find you online when they need you, instead of the traditional methods of interrupting people’s day with your marketing message that the majority of the public has learned to tune out.

Here you will find many tips on how to increase your online web presence, internet advertising, and how to use search engines and social media to find new customers who actually have a need for your products. Also, I will teach you, the local business owner, how to position yourself as an industry leader, so potential customers will choose you when it comes time for a buying decision.

I hope the information in my blog helps you, and feel free to contact me with any other internet marketing questions for your local business. Enjoy!

-Bret Talley

3 easy ways for local business owners to find potential customers using Twitter

Use Advanced Search to find people interested in what you offer

It would be amazing to be able to find consumers who are currently in need of your product/service, are in your target area, and referencing your business and competitors.  Traditional media focuses on outbound marketing, and interrupting peoples day to serve up a message with hopes that someone would be interested.  With online media and internet marketing, local business owners can start a conversation with someone who is actually in need, and currently talking about your products and services.  Anyone would tell you that this is a great source of potential new customers in the market for your product/service NOW!  Start by going to www.search.twitter.com/advanced

Here you can type in any set of keywords that pertains to your business.  If you’re a Fort Lauderdale roofer, type in leaky roof, a competitors name, new roof, etc and find people in need of your service.  Next, target these results by typing in a zip code and distance from that zip to serve up results for your service area.  Once you see the results, you can even click “Feed for this query” to get a live feed every time there are new updates with these keywords.

Follow these people and start conversation and engage with them to close new business!

Follow other businesses using Twitter, follow their followers.

Easy enough, but if you are looking to find more people to follow you, start joining the conversation by following people in your industry.  Get ideas for your updates.  Twitter will give you a list of all of their followers, so if you see some people who are in your target market, follow them to.  Its a known fact that about 50% of the people you follow will follow you back.  NOTE: Do not just follow everyone, as if you follow hundreds of people at once your account will be suspended.  Get engaged with the prospects and find if there is a need.  At least you will have people following you who then care about your product.

Add your “Follow me” Twitter icon to email signature

Chances are, you are probably sending emails out to current clients and prospects anyway.  Just add your Twitter icon to all of your employees email signature, and BOOM… instant marketing for your twitter account, directed at people you are already interacting with.

If you have any Twitter questions on how to use this tool for your business, or any other online marketing questions, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment.

Even a monkey can get you on Google… but are they making your Search Engine Marketing dollars work?

With the ever rising percentage of advertising being moved online, everyone seems to want a piece. It seems like any unqualified person with an internet connection wants a piece of the action of the Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization pie. When I’ve spoken to business owners, most of them say they have met with and been cold called by many of these folks. So with all of the competition, how can a local business owner really tell the difference between someone who really knows what they are doing and can deliver results, and the monkey who can put them on Google. Let me start by saying, that while its ridiculously easy to get your business on Google, tracking and making your dollars work for you is a whole different ballgame. Start by asking yourself:

Are they tracking conversions?  If so, how?”

While its nice to only be charged for the clicks to your website, does a click really generate dollars for you?  If you really want to evaluate the ROI for your local business, it all comes down to conversions.  Calls, web form submissions, reservations… this is where you really start to find out if the advertising is producing positive ROI for you.  Does your SEM company have a good reporting system, if any system at all, to track your conversions?

“Is the text ad taking the user to your landing page or one of their directory pages?”

Believe it or not, even some of the big name Search Engine Marketing companies in the industry are still directing people to landing pages they own instead of the clients website, mostly so they can utilize a tracking phone number.  This is not good, and you will lose all the traffic to your website.  Be weary of this method of tracking.

“They promised me top position on Google”

Watch out for any company who will guarantee you top placement on Google.  It’s a bad way to bid and not cost effective

“Are they testing multiple text ads and landing pages?”

Successful long term campaigns should constantly be testing multiple text ads and landing pages to measure success.  Click Through Rate of the text ads should be measured to see which one is more effective, and the landing pages Google Analytics should be looked at to measure Click Through Rate from ad, Time on page, Bounce rate, and conversions.  Website Optimizer can be utilized to test website changes. These are a few things that all reputable Search Engine Marketing firms should be employing to maximize results for clients.  If you have any other questions about Search Engine Marketing or Google Adwords, please feel free to contact me.

How and why to claim your Google Map listing for your local business

Top 3 ‘Post This, Not That’ of Social Media for Your Small Business

POST THIS: Engage your followers

Ask questions, reply to comments, post things that will initiate reaction. The name of the game here is interaction with your followers. The people already have some sort of brand allegiance to you, but here is where you really separate yourself from the others and form a lifetime customer.

NOT THAT: Bash bad comments

Do NOT, I repeat Do NOT, start a fight or argument with someone about your business on social media. Yes, in an open forum, there will be people who have negative things to say. You may not like or believe what they say, or might even take offense to it, being that you put your heart and soul into your business, but the last thing you want is a PR nightmare spinning out of control online.
Remember, when you post something online, it stays there forever! Bad comments are not necessarily a bad thing. Never before since the rise of Twitter and Facebook has it been so easy to hear problems straight from the customer, and be able to fix the situation instantly. Use social media to your advantage and you can utilize it as a huge customer service advantage

POST THIS: Become an Expert

This is your chance to show prospective clients why they should choose your product or service.  Not a writer?  Start.  Or hire someone who can.  Use your blog, facebook, or twitter to provide useful industry information to your fans and followers.  If you are a plumber, what is the newest wrenches that just came out, or make a list of tips to keep your faucet from leaking.  When you become the knowledge leader in the industry, people will call on you when they are in need.  Someone once told me “Content is King”  Not sure where I heard that, but its pretty true.

NOT THAT: Badmouth competitors

This might sound obvious, but while you do want to make yourself an industry expert, this is not a forum to tell followers why they should choose you or what makes you so amazing compared to your competitors.  It comes off tacky and people will react that way.  Keep it professional and keep the good content coming.

POST THIS: Promotions and Giveaways

If you have any special events, giveaways, definitely feel free to use social media as a means to promote this.  People LOVE free stuff, so use contests to get more followers and fans, and use them often.  Make it something worthwhile for people who sign up for email lists or follow you.  Give incentive.  Is your Value Proposition greater than the effort for the prospect (ie filling out a thousand forms)  Make sure it is, people won’t jump through hoops.

NOT THAT: Sell your products

Ok, so you made a Ok, so you made a facebook and twitter account to get more business.  I get it… But if you want to build a loyal following, the last thing you want to do is post sales pitches all day.  No one likes to be sold.  But everyone loves to buy.  Be in front of people that use your products when they need them, be the industry expert, be engaging and entertaining, and win the business.

How to Monitor Yourself and Your Competition Online

People are pretty vocal nowadays about what they think of a product or service, but how are you going to keep up to date with what all of your customers are saying about your business?  Sure, you could constantly search for yourself and see what pops up, but that is time consuming and frankly just annoying.

Free internet marketing tip #3:  Google makes it really easy for you.  Just set up a Google Alert for your business name, and voila, you will get an email every time Google indexes a new page with your business name.

Now, any savvy business owner knows that its just as important to keep up to date with the happenings of your competition.  Whether it be a new product, new pricing, or promotion being offered, or just to see how they are being viewed by the public so you can stay one step ahead.  Just set up the same Google alert for your competitions name and have everything sent to your email.

Note:  This may not be the best idea if you have an extremely common name, otherwise your box will start to fill up fairly quickly.