Back to Basics #15: Do it Like a Small Business SEO Company

small business team seo company By now, you’ve probably read a number of articles about how you, as a small business owner, can learn how to do SEO to benefit your own business. You may have read about how important it is to be on Twitter or Facebook; you probably saw studies claiming that a specific keyword density is key to ranking well; you may even have considered buying links to get more traffic.

It can all be confusing. It can be expensive. And honestly? It sometimes doesn’t seem like it’s worth the effort, does it?

Well, we’re here to help you out. In this post, we’ll show you five easy ways you can get involved with your company’s marketing campaign just like a small business SEO company would do. With these tips, you’ll begin to see results that definitely pay off.

plagiarism comic

Image courtesy of: Olive Harvey College Library Guides

1. Make friends with Copyscape. Are you writing your own content? Have you tried optimizing your front page or started a blog? You'll definitely want to look into using Copyscape. For no cost, you can enter your site's address and Copyscape will scan the web looking for plagiarized text. If your blog or site content have indeed been plagiarized, it can hurt your rankings. Furthermore, if you're using references in your writing, you might want to run your text through Copyscape. The last thing you need is to be blamed for plagiarism from your end. Make sure your content is 100% original all across the board, and you'll be better off for it.

2. Make content easily shareable. When people read an article and enjoy it, they immediately look for the “share” button. They want to tell their family and friends about the great thing they've just read. It would follow, then, that if you don't include sharable links at the end of your post, you've just potentially cost yourself thousands of views. Be sure to make it easy for your visitors to share your content to all the most popular social media platforms, and you'll notice that your content will be shared more frequently. If you need help figuring out how to set this up, there are plenty of tutorials around the internet as well as easy-to-install plug-ins for blogging software such as Wordpress.

3. Get your customers involved through reviews. We've written about this in the past, but it's so important that we feel we should reiterate here: your customers need to be involved with your company through reviews. There's a fine line between asking and encouraging your customers to participate willingly, and pushing your wishes in their faces aggressively. You can encourage customers to leave reviews by putting a sign up in your store, offering a coupon as compensation, or even provide a free service with proof of a positive review. Reviews not only help people searching for your services find your store, they also help you stand out in the crowd. Searchers nowadays rely on sites such as Yelp to help them make decisions about which business they want to give their money to. Don't let this opportunity slip through the cracks—you'll be surprised at how much good reviews can help.

pay per click advertising for small businesses

4. Consider PPC (pay-per-click) advertising. If you're just getting your business off the ground, we'll be honest: It can take some time for Google to start picking it up and ranking it. But that doesn't mean that you can't make the most of the time in between. You can purchase ads from Google for only a few dollars a day and they'll appear alongside search results related to your keywords, helping guide visitors to your site. Google ads allow you to get the word out about your site in ways that organic ranking can't; at least not in the beginning. Check out Google's free keyword planner to take a look at keyword suggestions you can use in your ad campaigns.

5. Try your hand at video advertising. A big part of advertising nowadays is visual. Think about it: If you're on Facebook or Twitter, you probably share images and videos all the time! That's why it's important that you get into the habit of creating media content for your company's social media sites. People are much more likely to share media than they are to read through a “wall of text”. Furthermore, video advertising helps a lot with SEO and ranking. Google gets strong ranking signals from videos and the keywords used in them. Even if you don't have a big media budget, you can still put together helpful “how-to” videos or showcase happy customers recommending your products and services.

You can do it like the SEO companies!

With these tips, you can easily dip your toes into the waters of advertising and marketing. It might sound cliché, but if you don't start small, it'll be too much for you to manage all at once and you'll feel as if you're drowning. You can do it like the small business SEO company professionals by trying these few simple tips! And as always, if you need help and advice, Internet Local Listings is here to help. We offer everything from business listings to custom content to personalized websites! Visit us here for more information.

Any other tips you can think of that we missed? Let us know!

Announcing MyBusinessSites.com: An Internet Local Listings Product

affordable-websites-for-small-businesses At Internet Local Listings, we regularly work with our clients to provide the best internet marketing services at affordable prices. We primarily work with small businesses, and as such, we understand the importance of enhancing local listings. Small businesses receive most of their customers from the surrounding local area, and many of these customers search for a business online before choosing which store they’ll visit.

Many of our customers have come to us looking for help with their websites. As mentioned previously, without a website, trying to get customers to visit your store is hard work. Customers are naturally drawn to listings with more information—store hours, address, website, and reviews, for example. So if you’re showing up on the first page but don’t have enough information to entice customers to click on your listing, you’re working twice as hard for half the reward.

Are you in this camp? Don’t worry. We have good news for you:

We’ve added websites on to every one of our packages!

Now, you may have some questions on these new products. Below, we’ll do our best to address the most common questions we’ve received.

Well, how much does this cost? I can’t afford to pay for an expensive website.

You can sign up for the starter package for only $199 a month and still receive a free, SEO-compliant website. This is a product that has never been offered before. We wanted to add this onto our most basic package as a way of saying thank you to our customers. It’s added at no extra charge, and for those of you who have no existing site, it should be a great benefit to your local listings. The free websites offer these exciting features:

  • Basic navigation pages (Home, About, Contact Us, Products and Services)
  • A customizable photo gallery
  • Custom content, if desired

You can also purchase premium websites at an additional cost of $300 for the setup, and $60 monthly for hosting. These sites are much more versatile and fully customizable, but they also take longer to set up and implement. You can look forward to these features when you purchase a premium website from MyBusinessSites.com:

  • Fully SEO compliant HTML5 site
  • Industry appropriate stock photos (or you can provide your own custom photos)
  • Custom written content by our writers, if desired
  • Custom color scheme
  • Email contact form
  • Google maps embedded in your contact page
  • 3 standard pages (home, about, contact) PLUS two custom pages
  • Custom domain name and hosting

Is a website necessary for my small business?

You are free to submit your business to the internet’s many business listings without a website. It is not a requirement, and will never be a requirement.

However…

We can’t stress enough the importance of having a website. Most companies now own websites. Perhaps ten years ago it wasn’t as important, but with the number of people now using their smart phones and laptops to find local businesses, it’s an opportunity you can no longer afford to miss if you are competitive about your business listings.

I already have a website. Can you work on my existing site for me?

Unfortunately, this plan only works for our websites. We would be happy to set up a website for you and work together with you with one of our website plans.

How often will my site be updated?

Once your site is live, it won’t be changed unless you need it to be. You’re of course welcome to submit changes at any time, whether that’s new content, more photos, or you need to change your contact information.

Are you ready to finally own your own website? Head over to MyBusinessSites.com and get ready to boost your online presence!

3 Reasons to Encourage Customer Reviews

customer reviews five stars Whether you really enjoyed your service or really hated it, chances are that you’ve left a review for a company before. Believe it or not, these reviews (even the bad ones!) can actually help a company in multiple ways: Reviews not only help a business gain visibility and credibility on the internet, but it also gives the owners a chance to converse with customers and learn how to make a customer’s experience better. In other words, reviews benefit everyone. But how can you go about encouraging customer to leave reviews for a small business without coming off as pushy or desperate?

Here are three reasons you should encourage customer reviews in a natural—not an annoying—way.

  1. Customers who read online reviews tend to purchase more. According to statistics cited by Econsultancy.com, 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision and 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site that has user reviews. And when you really think about it, this probably rings true for you, too. In my case, the last time I was shopping for a book online, I read the reviews first. Sometimes I purposely look through books with terrible ratings just to see how bad they really are (strange pastime, I know); however, I will never end up paying for them. Instead, I’ll pay for the ones that have outstanding reviews. And I bet if you think back to the last time you were shopping online, you probably did the same thing.
  1. Reviews can help advertise a new product. Do you have a new product or service available for your customers? You can encourage reviews by offering a coupon or gift certificate to those who complete a survey or leave you a review. According to Sam Decker, vice president of marketing and products at Bazaarvoice, a gift certificate offered in exchange for reviews can boost your review volume by 500 to 800 percent. That’s a lot of new reviews for your company—and the gift certificates will bring in customers who may otherwise have decided against making a purchase at your store.
  2. Reviews help customers get more involved with your brand. When a customer leaves you a review, they’re spending their own free time offering you their voice. Whether the review is positive or not, this is a pretty big deal! Take the time to respond to your reviews. Make sure that you engage all customers with respect and honesty. And be sure to encourage them to review wherever it feels comfortable. For example, if you’re on Yelp as well as Foursquare, leave links to Yelp and Foursquare on all of your sites—social media included. Send out periodic tweets or posts asking customers (politely) to leave a review if they had a great experience with you. Before long, your customers will become more involved with your brand. And when they see that you respond to your customers, they’ll know that you take the time to read their opinions and that you take them seriously. Now that’s some positive PR!

With these things in mind, here are a few things you might want to avoid:

Don’t blast the customer with an email every other day. Have you noticed now that wherever you go—the mall, a restaurant, or even a website—that everyone asks you to fill out a survey or give an opinion? As a customer, it gets exhausting. As a business owner, it’s stressful. You, the owner, get irritated trying to get customers to cooperate. And in turn, they don’t feel like filling out a form after every shopping experience! So simply ask them in a polite way and move on. They’ll participate if they want to, and bugging them all the time won’t help your case.

Don’t beg for reviews. I’ve seen it on Twitter more times than I care to count. “Review me and I’ll love you forever!” “Help me out and I’ll follow you!” “Please, please, please review me, I need help!” None of this looks good; it’s actually totally unprofessional in the best scenario, and makes you look desperate in the worst. There’s no issue with occasionally tweeting something like “Have you had a great experience at our store? Leave us a review!” and posting a link to the review site. Just be sure to ask in a friendly, professional manner and try not to spam your followers.

Don’t fake reviews. You know the saying “Fake it ‘til you make it?” Well, that doesn’t apply here. Faking reviews is probably the biggest faux pas that small companies make, as well as the one most commonly seen. Your family and friends are probably more than willing to help you out by leaving you glowing, positive reviews. And that’s great that they support you—but you should be focused on gathering real customer reviews. Don’t fall victim to paying for them or padding your reviews with falsities.

Need help getting customer reviews?

At Internet Local Listings, we help our clients get their small businesses listed accurately across the internet. As an internet marketing company, we strive to help each and every client reach more customers, and in turn, grow their business. And because our packages are priced at a rate that the average small business can afford, we truly believe that by working together, we can make a lasting difference for your company where other internet marketing companies can’t. Call or visit us today for more information.

Back to Basics #12: An Introduction to SEO Hosting

woman-drawing-a-website-edit In other Back to Basics posts, we’ve talked about the importance of SEO, how to implement simple SEO techniques on your site, and how to best work with an internet marketing company to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Something we haven’t gone into much depth about, however, is SEO hosting. SEO hosting is basically a term meaning your internet marketing company will optimize a website that they’ve built especially for your business. It doesn’t require a whole lot of participation from the clients’ end—you can be as involved or as uninvolved as you choose to be, really—but it does require patience and a basic understanding of what role a website plays in the SEO process. So in this post, we’re going to go over the basics of SEO hosting and hopefully help you understand how this process can help get your site ranking higher in the most popular search engines.

SEO Hosting: What is it?

As mentioned above, SEO hosting applies to websites that are built using current search engine optimization techniques. This includes anything from blogging using strategic keywords to optimizing images and videos through detailed “alt” descriptions, captions, and names. If you sign up with a web design company and request that they also manage your site, you should be aware of their content marketing practices before you agree to any long-term relationship. Do you know if they’re optimizing your site for you? Or are they just using stock text and photos without customizing the content? As a small business owner, it’s important that you get involved with your internet marketing/web design company, because unfortunately, there are far too many stories of small business owners completely trusting their marketing team without understanding the basic marketing process, only to end up being cheated out of thousands of dollars because they didn’t know how to tell if something was going wrong. By learning a bit more about SEO hosting and how it works, you can avoid being stuck in this situation yourself.

SEO Hosting: Do you need it?

Even after learning the basics of internet marketing and getting a grasp on how SEO hosting works, you may be asking yourself if you even need these services. And, to be fair, it can be a very big project to undertake, and perhaps it seems as if it's more trouble than it’s worth.

Well, it is a big project to undertake. But you can't afford not to do it.

Because the truth is, if you want your website to be found by potential customers or clients, you’re going to have to learn how to play the marketing game. And if you don’t have the time, desire, or motivation to do so, there is always help available—so really, there’s no excuse to not be involved with SEO hosting in some capacity, even if you aren’t managing it all yourself. After all, you want improve your chances of showing up on the first page of Google and other popular search engines. You need to deliver a great web experience to each of your site’s visitors. You must engage on social media and create a positive atmosphere where customers and clients feel like they can really get to know your brand. And all of these things are extremely important to your customers, so it’s well worth the time and cash investment.

So long answer made short? Yes, you need SEO hosting, and it helps to understand the basics of the process at the very least. No excuses!

SEO Hosting: Who should I look for?

There are a lot of companies that offer SEO hosting. You can find web designers who will optimize your site from the get-go as well as internet marketing companies that can take over the process with an existing site, even if you’ve had your domain for a long time. And don't worry if you have had a site for many years and haven't begun learning about SEO yet--it’s never a bad time to create a marketing strategy, and the sooner you do so, the better off you’ll be.

It’s also important to know that SEO practices change all the time. Google (and other search engines, such as Bing and Yahoo!) adjust their ranking algorithms frequently. What that means is what works for SEO hosting today might not work in a month. Those who specialize in search engine optimization are quite familiar with this aspect of digital marketing and will diligently read about upcoming changes on a regular basis, as well as implement new strategies when the time comes. Someone who doesn’t keep up with new developments in the internet marketing world isn’t someone you want to work with—in fact, they could jeopardize your hard-earned rankings. Google often penalizes sites that abuse older SEO practices, so make sure you and your web design team/internet marketing company are working together to develop accepted, effective practices and you’ll be good to go. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrtweARWFFw?list=UUoyXcgTDuuRojwPEcfNKELw]

SEO Hosting: Where can you find it?

A great place to start looking for SEO hosting is with trusted internet marketing companies. Of course we’re going to showcase our talents here, but there are a number of places you can go to find experienced marketing experts to work with your company. The most important part of this process is determining what your goals are. For example, do you need to start a new website? If so, then you’ll have to consider whether you want to hire an SEO hosting company or a marketing company and website design company separately. Do you want someone to take over the marketing of your existing website? You can still choose an SEO hosting company to make sure your site’s design and implementation is in accordance with best SEO practices; or, you may simply choose an online marketing company to help you with content production, local listings claims, and social media management. You can get involved with the process or monitor it as you see fit. Just make sure that you know who you’re working with and what your goals are before you begin and you’ll get the best results.

With over 50 years of combined experience in the internet marketing industry, Internet Local Listings is a trusted source for SEO hosting across the US and Canada. Some of our specialties include: ensuring local listings are consistent and clearly listed across the internet; writing custom, optimized content to help your listings rank better; and designing and optimizing websites for all of our clients (although we offer premium packages for those who want more control over design and content).

So if you’re ready to take the plunge, click here to learn more about our SEO hosting services with our new sister site, MyBusinessSites.com, or visit our contact us page and send us a callback request. We’ll be happy to discuss your needs at your convenience.

Following Your Website’s Ranking Progress

Following Your Website’s Ranking Progress If you’ve put the time and effort into SEO practices such as blogging, listing your store in directories, and promoting your store on social media, then you know how important it is to keep track of your progress. You need to see if your efforts are paying off, after all—why waste energy and perhaps even money if you don’t see any positive results? There are a lot of reasons to keep track of ranking data, but if for nothing else, you'll want to know to make sure that your marketing campaign is going in the right direction.

So, with this in mind, what is the best way to follow your website’s ranking progress? In this post, we’ll go over a few ways you can do this without knowing a lot about SEO, coding, or even marketing.

  1. Google Analytics. You can sign up for a free account with Google Analytics and have most of the hard work taken care of for you. All you have to do is insert a simple code into the “header” section of your website and Google will begin tracking all the visitors! You can see where they’re coming from, how long they’re spending on your site, which pages they’re looking at, and more. But perhaps the most valuable thing in terms of rank checking is being able see which keywords clients are using to find you. And if you’re paying for ads, Google Analytics will also show you which paid keywords are helping people find you. This is simple, cost-free, and a very powerful way of keeping track of ranking data.
  2. Search and find method. If you’re not as technically inclined, you can definitely do a simple search and see if your site is pulled up. Now, this is inferior to using something like Google Analytics because you will have to type in every keyword that you want to check. Analytics, on the other hand, might find an obscure keyword or phrase that searchers are using to find you—ones you may never have thought of. But if you're still set on searching for terms on your own, then take comfort in the fact that it’s possible to check choice keyword rankings simply by Googling and seeing if your site appears. It’s best to then keep track of your progress by searching once every two weeks or so and logging position in an Excel spreadsheet.
  3. Find a reliable page where you can download or utilize a rank checker. Sites like moz.com and alexa.com allow you to check your rank with their online tools. It’s easy to use them—simply type in your URL and view your results. The only downside to this is that to get the in-depth stats that you’re looking for, you’ll have to pay. With Moz, it’s free for 30 days, and then $99 a month; Alexa also offers a free 30-day trial with tiered plans available after the trial ends, starting at $9.99 a month for the basic package and going up to $799 a month for the most advanced package.
  4. Talk to a web developer. If you want the best results but you don’t know how to use Google Analytics, and don’t want to pay for an extra service such as Moz or Alexa, your best option is to talk to your web developer. A good web developer can set up your Google Analytics account for you and show you how to follow your website’s ranking progress, or they can prepare special reports for you. This is part of a web developer’s job, so if you’re already paying for someone to handle the coding for your site, you can have them handle rank reporting as well.
  5. Call us. At Internet Local Listings, we take care of compiling the ranking progress reports for you. Any time you want to know about your website’s standing, we’ll run a ranking report and email it straight to your inbox for you. Everything is presented in an easy-to-read format, complete with comprehensive details. It’s rewarding to see all that hard work paying off—and you deserve to know where your site stands. And, the best news of all: It’s included with any of our packages!

Finally, if you want the full website experience, you’ll be pleased to know that we also build premium websites for our clients. If you choose the website package, you’ll get to have professional web developers working on your site to ensure it ranks well. Google Analytics can easily be implemented by our team, so you’ll never have to worry about figuring out code. View our pricing and plans here or simply fill out a contact form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. We’ll happily work with you to make sure you reach your ranking goals!

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Back to Basics #10: 3 Things You Need to Know About Local Marketing for Small Businesses

local-marketing-for-small-businesses Welcome back to another Back to Basics post! In this article, we’re going to talk a bit about a few simple things small businesses need to know about local marketing success.

When a brand is competing on a local level, it doesn’t need to focus on the same things that a national brand does. This much is probably obvious, but let's go over an example to make sure everything is clear. So let's say you’re an auto repair mechanic working in Wheelsville. (Hey, it could happen.) When people search for an auto mechanic, they might just type in “auto mechanic”--a simple, straight-forward query. Google is smart enough that they’ll bring up nearby results based on the searcher’s location, which could be one of a few cities in the area. But if the searcher is in a particularly small area or needs to find a service in a very specific location, they might type in “mechanic in Wheelsville,” and this time, Google will bring up all the most relevant results specific to Wheelsville.

What does this mean for you?

Simple: You need your address and listing optimized in order to get the best placement on search engine result pages. And to help you do this, here are 3 things you need to know about local marketing for small businesses—and they’re easier to get the hang of than you think!

3 Tips for Local Marketing Success!

1. Check and cross-check listings for accuracy. You won’t believe the number of business owners who are completely unaware of the status of their listings. Thousands and thousands of unclaimed listings exist on the internet—from listings on popular sites such as Google Places, to directories you’ve never even heard of (but that should still be used correctly). Use our scanner here to see if your site is listed correctly. (We promise, it won’t bite. Or lead you to a scary abyss.)

2. Local marketing is all about reviews. So get them from as many customers as possible! Offer an incentive for those who want to leave a kind review—a coupon, a complimentary treat, or a free tune-up. Whatever you feel you can offer to a customer for a review is a great way to get them to participate. Search engines derive relevancy from fresh content. For local businesses, some of the best signals you can give to the search engines are great ratings for your locally-listed business. Not to mention, when other customers stop by and read your ratings and reviews, they’ll be pleased with what they find, and of course, enticed to stop in and experience it for themselves.

3. The people who understand local marketing the best are the people who connect with customers. How can you easily (and cheaply) do this? You can pick a few social media sites to join and update regularly. By connecting with your customers via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other social media platform of your choice, you can be sure that customers will always be able to find you. This way, when people search for your business online, they’ll have a good chance of finding your social media sites as well. Basically, the more places you’re listed, the better—people will find you instead of your competitors.

What if you don't have the time to invest in learning or implementing local marketing techniques?

Now, none of this information is particularly ground-breaking. It’s not going to shoot you to the top of the search results overnight. What it will do is give you a great head-start on local marketing for your small business. The sooner you get your business listed consistently, get your customers reviewing your business, and get started connecting with customers via social media, the better.

However, we understand that many small business owners don’t have the time to invest in local marketing strategies. If you’ve read through this article and decided it simply seems like it’s going to take too much of your valuable time, we hear you. Internet Local Listings has over 50 years of combined experience helping small businesses succeed at local marketing. If you feel that you need a helping hand, check out our affordable packages and join thousands of our other satisfied clients across the US and Canada!

If you liked this post, find more news here.

Working Effectively with Internet Marketing Experts

internet-marketing-experts So you’ve hired internet marketing experts to take over the marketing strategy for your small business. You’re excited to see results and you’ve already begun paying for your marketing team to begin the work. You check your rankings the next day, and it seems that you haven’t moved up at all. You check again after a week, and things still don’t seem to be going as planned. At this point, you’re frustrated and ready to tell them you’re finished—you want to work with a different internet marketing company. If you feel like this, you’re not alone. Many small business owners have felt the exact way you do—so in this article, we’re going to talk about making the most of your experience with internet marketing experts, and what you can reasonably expect while implementing your marketing strategy.

Internet marketing is not an overnight process.

When you hire a gardener to plant your garden and tend to the plants as they grow, you know the process will take time. You don’t expect a seed to germinate into a blooming flower the next day! The same thing goes for marketing. Internet marketing experts need to take a look at your individual case and plan accordingly. For example, some clients have zero presence on the internet—no website, no local listings, no blog. Others have been doing their own work and simply need assistance managing social media or content distribution. By the same token, there are industries in which there is a lot of competition—HVAC, roofing contractors, and auto mechanics. Other industries have an easier time ranking because they are one of a few businesses that provide a service in an area—people like dentists, medical specialists, or even psychics. Everyone’s case is different, and everyone takes a different amount of time to begin appearing on the first page. So how is this possible? Well, Google combs through data on a daily basis, and it begins to compare this data over time. So it makes sense that it’s not going to find your site, immediately deem it the “most relevant” and put it at the top of the search results above all of your competitors. It takes time for Google to weigh and determine site relevancy, so you must be patient as this process takes shape.

Changing things without consulting your marketing team can result in setbacks.

If you’re feeling antsy about a particular keyword not showing up, you might feel like you want to get rid of it and choose another. But if you go into your blog or Google Places and begin changing keywords around, you’ll eventually find that you can easily undo all the hard work you’ve put in already--even if you meant well. This isn’t to say you can never (or should never) change keywords—sometimes, you find that you’ll just stay on the second or third page indefinitely with the amount of competition you’re facing. In this case, talk to your marketing team and determine new keywords to use. Over time, you’ll hopefully see improvements for these terms. If you don’t see any new traffic growth over the first few months, then you definitely need to take a look at what’s going wrong and make adjustments accordingly. The main lesson here is to not go ahead and do things without consulting your team. You are, after all, paying them to help you rank. You should always understand one another and what your goals are. If there is no communication between you and your marketing experts, then you’ll essentially be throwing away money. You need to work together!

Get involved and learn about the process.

Obviously if you’re hiring internet marketing experts to manage your marketing strategy, it’s because you don’t have the time (or desire) to learn how to do marketing on your own. And that’s fine! But if you take the time to learn just a few basics about internet marketing, you’ll find that you can more easily follow along with the process and even enhance it. At Internet Local Listings, we do manage many clients’ Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. However, our clients often ask to be involved with the process, and we encourage it. By tweeting, updating your Facebook status, or writing content for your own page, you’re helping the process along and learning more about how to work with your internet marketing team as you go. That’s a great thing! By combining ideas and discussing tactics, you can enhance your team just like you would with traditional or word-of-mouth marketing. Give input, feedback, and get your hands "dirty", and you’ll get a lot more out of your internet marketing experience. If you would like to learn more about digital or online marketing, check out our Back to Basics series, where you can learn about SEO basics and discover simple changes you can implement on your site to help boost your rankings. If you want to hire a team of qualified internet marketing experts, simply give us a call at (888) 770-3950 or visit our contact us page and fill out a form. You can also use our scanner to see if your site is listed correctly across the internet! So contact us today to discuss your marketing concerns with our experienced, qualified internet marketing experts!   Check out these pages for more information on internet marketing tips:

 

Why Small Business Marketing is Essential in 2014 and Beyond

small-business-marketing-in-2014

small-business-marketing-in-2014 Getting the word out about your business has always been your top priority. As a small business owner, you already understand how important marketing is—whether it's word of mouth, fliers, direct marketing, or running local advertising campaigns, you know that you have to get the word out or your numbers suffer. But what many small business owners don't take into consideration is a marketing plan. And without some type of marketing strategy, you'll likely become frustrated, not knowing whether your efforts are paying off.

This is the primary reason that small business marketing is now non-negotiable. In 2014, we have a number of options to help us determine how and where to market to our clients: social media, blogs, video marketing, online local business listings, Google Places, and more. With all of these tools at our disposal, is there any excuse not to have a marketing plan in place?

No, there isn't. In this article, we'll talk a bit about why small business marketing is essential in 2014 and beyond. When you understand just how effective marketing is for your business, you'll have a better foundation to grasp the concepts of beginning your own marketing campaign.

Small business marketing is the only way to get the word out.

word-of-mouth-marketing

You've heard of companies like Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, and Apple. Why is that? Because they have a massive consumer base and they have massive marketing budgets. Their ads are fed to you frequently to ensure you know what the company is up to, and they make sure that their products stay up-to-date and relevant.

Now, you're probably thinking, “Well, I don't have that kind of money to spend on an advertising campaign!” and you're probably right. Most small business marketing budgets are scant. And that's okay. You don't need a ton of money to start seeing returns on your efforts. As we've discussed in previous articles, you can implement social marketing strategies for very little money, and you can get started with blogging completely free of charge. The best thing about this type of marketing is that you can begin to spend money whenever you like to boost your efforts. Want to place an ad on Facebook? You can spend as little as $5 a day to promote your business. Want to pay for a domain name and host your blog as a website? For less than $20, you can grab a domain name, and hosting can be as low as $3-5 a month. There's no reason you must feel like you are required to spend thousands of dollars just to be seen online.

When you get the word out with small business marketing, you begin to build your audience online. And that's the #1 most important thing.

In 2014, traditional networking is still important.

traditional-marketing

Networking. It sounds like a buzzword, and to some extent, that's what it's become. That aside, you should never underestimate the power of networking. If you go to local business expos, connect with influencers on Twitter and Facebook, and simply ask your customers to refer you to friends and family, then you're already networking. If you're not networking and these activities don't sound like they'll increase your sales, then think of it this way: you're building a strong reputation and a sturdy foundation of support and availability for your clients. And that is absolutely essential.

The easiest way to get started is to simply ask your customers to review you on Yelp and Google. This has the added bonus of sending “relevancy” signals to Google, helping you to rank higher. Many customers would be happy to submit positive reviews when asked, but they often don't bother to go online and leave reviews otherwise.

You can also get started on Facebook and Twitter for free. Place signs around your office or store that tell customers where they can find you online. Ask friends and family to spread the word. None of this will cost you a thing, except maybe an hour or two of your time to craft the signs!

Are press releases outdated? Nope. Not even close.

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Spread the word about newsworthy business developments: A new product, a sale, or a special event your company is attending or hosting. Try to send out a press release once a month to keep the word about your company relevant and fresh. This can cost money if you choose to promote your company online—you can pay anywhere from $120 to upwards of $250 to have your press release promoted on popular sites. But you don't have to do this. Small business marketing is all about leveraging your local connections. Talk to your local newspaper or ask to be on the news or featured on a radio show. You can talk about your new products or even offer customers a special discount if they mention your interview or article. By doing this regularly, you can easily make a good impression on your local community.

The new way of connecting to customers: Videos.

YouTube logo small business

Many small businesses specialize in a specific, niche service: Plumbing, dog grooming, notary services, etc. Think of how you felt when you first started learning about your industry. You probably felt overwhelmed and looked to professionals for guidance. Or consider how you feel when you want to save money and try to take care of things yourself—fixing a pipe or cleaning your roof, for instance. Many people look up tutorials now on YouTube.

This might seem counter-intuitive to teach your customers learn how to help themselves, but it is actually a great way for your customers and company to share a dialogue. It establishes you as an authority figure and expert in your industry. Plus, taking the time to create a video tutorial for your customers shows that you spend time thinking of their needs—and customers truly appreciate that. Finally, videos on YouTube, when properly optimized, send strong relevancy signals to search engines, and that helps your website rank higher.

And there you have it. Small business marketing is essential in 2014. You need to network to connect with clients. You need to create content to stay relevant on search engines. You need to connect with customers in new and innovative ways. As the internet grows more content-based, your small business will have to keep on top of these trends to ensure your customers are still finding you.

If you need assistance with any small business marketing services, Internet Local Listings is always here to help. Simply contact us here or visit our site for more information. We have a special running right now, too—so act fast and save money while you start bringing in more customers!

Internet Local Listings Announces Website Add-On for Clients

customizable website for small businesses

Internet Marketing Company Offers Small Businesses Affordable Website Solutions

Santa Ana, CA: Internet Local Listings, an online marketing and advertising company, announced the addition of free websites to their basic SEO package late last week. The simple website includes a customizable template, hosting, and domain name purchase, and was created specifically with small businesses in mind.

Many local business owners need marketing services but they have not created a website, usually because they lack the time, skills, and resources to do so. Internet Local Listings listened to their clients’ concerns and developed a simple, attractive template that business owners can now use to host their content. The internet marketing company primarily works with small, local businesses, and understands the importance of a website for such a business looking to compete in the local market place. The websites are provided as a complimentary service for those who sign up with the most basic package.

"We’re excited to announce the addition of the free, customizable websites to our clients," says Kristen Dillon, Director of Operations for Internet Local Listings. “We ensure that each website is properly built and optimized to promote the best SEO practices.” The company has already been working on customized websites for clients who purchase that service separately, but after discovering how many small businesses struggled with site creation and maintenance, worked to create something flexible and affordable to better assist their smaller-budget clients. “We want to get every client ranking organically as well as in all their target markets locally,” Miss Dillon adds.

While clients who still want to receive a completely unique and customized site can opt to purchase that service separately, Internet Local Listings now aims to provide one free, customizable template for every new client as they sign up. By allowing business owners to provide their own photos and written content where requested, the internet marketing experts hope to deliver a better overall marketing experience and improved ranking results for all of their clients.

Internet Local Listings is an internet marketing and advertising company based in Santa Ana, California. Founded in 2011, Internet Local Listings is committed to helping companies develop a digital marketing plan that will get their website ranking higher in all the major search engines: Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.

Back to Basics #6: Why Small Business Listings are Essential for Local Businesses

small business listings

Note: If you’re an internet marketing expert, this post will probably not be of much help to you. But you can feel free to check out our other marketing tips and tricks here, or learn about our internet marketing services here.

If you're a beginner, we welcome you to read our Back to Basics series to learn more about internet advertising and small business marketing.

And be sure to follow our blog for posts delivered to your inbox!

 

Today, people search online to find their favorite businesses—whether they’re looking for a new place to eat dinner or they need to find a reputable salon, they’re far more likely to use a popular search engine to browse through their options than they are to do offline research. After all, with access to a computer or a smart phone at nearly every moment of the day, there’s no reason for people to locate a phone book or a business directory just to give you a call. It’s a waste of time! (And, while we’re at it, a waste of trees and ink!) For small business owners, this means all company information must be made available across a wide range of local listings online to ensure customers can find your site.

As of June 2014, nearly 69% of global searches were conducted on Google. That’s a huge number! But you may be wondering why Google is the top choice for most users. There are other search engines out there, so what gives?

It’s really quite simple. When someone searches for a local business or service, Google combines relevant search data with maps, store hours, site information, and more to create a virtual company profile. It’s visually appealing and easy to use. You can find exactly what you’re looking for with only a few clicks.  If you don’t have your business listed with Google (or across any other major small business listings online), you run the risk of your potential customers going to your competitors rather than your store.

So here’s the fast and hard truth: small business listings are essential to the success of your business.

Especially for companies who have a lot of competitors. Even if your company has been around for years and has a lot of word of mouth advertising success behind it, you need to be listed online. It’s simply the easiest and fastest way to appeal to new customers. Furthermore, even old customers might want to look at your website, look up your phone number, or take a peek at your store hours, and the best way to find those is through small business listings on Google.

Don’t believe us? Here are a few facts that will definitely change your mind:

59% of consumers use Google every month to find a good business. And of these consumers, over 70% value what they find in the results. This data can’t make it any more clear: if your business doesn’t show up in a local search, you’re missing out on people who are not only trying to find businesses like yours, but you’re also missing out on people who are very likely to trust your listing and stop in to your store. Consumers are looking monthly—be there for them.

74% of searches for small business listings take place on Google. Consumers are choosing to look through Google before any other online listings--There are even different listings available for your business depending on your country! And yet, Google dominates the searches, so you need to be absolutely sure you’re listed on this search engine powerhouse!

Claim your small business listings on Google to give yourself a competitive edge. By claiming your listings on Google, you give yourself a huge advantage over your competitors who haven’t done so. You can not only link to your site, but you can add pictures, let customers leave reviews for you, and improve the likelihood that your business will be found when customers search for products or services related to your business. It’s just common sense!

But Google isn’t the end-all, be-all of small business listings.

The success and prevalence of Google is obvious in this situation. If you do not get listed across Google, you’re doing your small business a disservice. But there are other places people look, too: Superpages, Yelp, WhiteSpark, Manta, eLocal, Brownbook, Yellow Pages, and many more. It can be time-consuming to make sure you’re listed consistently across all directories. Furthermore, it’s helpful to have your content optimized to ensure people can find you under your choice of keywords.

At Internet Local Listings, we’d be happy to help you out with this entire process, getting you listed across all directories and small business listings. Whether you choose to use the info you’ve found here and give it a go on your own, or you’d like us to help you with your marketing efforts, we hope you’ve enjoyed this article in our Back to Basics series!

 

Read more Back to Basics for Small Businesses:
1. What is SEO?
2. What is Social Media?
3. What is Organic Ranking?
4. Why Your Company Needs a Digital Marketing Firm
5.  Blogging for Beginners

Back to Basics #5: Blogging for Beginners

  blogging-for-beginngers

If you’ve never heard the saying “Content is King” then you’d better get used to hearing it now! When you run your own website, the best way to keep your clients up to date and to keep the search engines happy is to post new blog articles. Frequently.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself that you’re not a professional writer. Maybe you’re worried that that you simply don’t have time to update a blog. While you may be correct about not having formal training in writing, it’s more than likely not true that you don’t have the time to do this. You do. You just have to break it down into small chunks. In this article, we’ll talk a bit about how beginners can overcome the fear of putting their writing out there, and how they can find the time to keep updating regularly.

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Blogging for Beginners Step 1: Create a List of Topics

Before you begin blogging, it’s a good idea to have a list of potential topics to write about. You may be tempted to just write about what you’re up to when you’re at work, or maybe something that’s going on with your family. While it’s important to keep that human connection in your posts, it’s also important to keep your customers informed of key topics relating to the services you offer. To help illustrate, let’s take a fictional business and talk about a few good topics they could use in their blog.

Sam’s Pest Control is a small, family-owned company in Anywhere, USA. They want to start a blog to connect with their customers and draw in new clients. They might want to write about things like:

  • What pest control can do for your home or business
  • How you’ll save money in the long run when you use a pest control service regularly
  • How to keep your home protected from pests
  • Innovations in humane pest control
  • How pest control services change with the seasons

And there are probably many more topics to choose from. But as you can see, by thinking outside the box, you can come up with a long list of blog topics that will keep you writing for months to come.

creating-a-blogging-schedule

Blogging for Beginners Step 2: Create a Blogging Schedule

Continuing with our Sam’s Pest Control analogy, we’ll take a look at how to build a schedule that you can work with, even if you’re busy running your own business.

Sam works Monday through Friday, and often, he works overtime. He’s exhausted when he comes home and definitely doesn’t think he has hours to spare on blogging. He’s a business owner, not a writer—so how is he supposed to manage all of this?

It’s simpler than he thinks.

First of all, don’t worry about writing grammatically perfect posts. You can edit and use a spell checker and still make your point. Obviously you should try to edit your post so that it makes sense, but don’t presume you have to craft perfect prose to be a successful blogger for your small business.

Second, set aside 15 minutes a night. Write however much you can—a good goal to start with is 100 words. If you do this five days a week, you’ll have one 500-word post to put up by the end of your workweek. And keeping up the schedule of posting once a week is a very realistic, very achievable goal for small business owners. Whether you choose to do it after dinner or right when you get home is up to you. Just create that schedule and stick with it.

which-blog-platform-should-i-use

Blogging for Beginners Step 3: Create Your Blog

Now that you have a list of topics and a schedule you WILL stick to (we believe in you!), you can go ahead and create your blog. Some people prefer to just update with text on their website. While this can work, it makes it difficult for people to find posts as you start to amass a lot of articles.

The better choice for a small business is to sign up for a free blog at Wordpress.com. You can also choose to go with other platforms like Blogger, but Wordpress has a lot of support and is widely used. In our experience, it runs more smoothly and has more customization options as well.

For your blog name, try to choose something short and to the point. Remember that this is connected to your company, so you’ll want to choose something relevant; something that conveys the company image. Sam’s Pest Control is, thankfully, a short enough company name that he can probably choose that. (It will end up looking something like samspestcontrol.wordpress.com.) If you have a longer company name (something like Sparkle Power Wash and Window Shine Company) you’ll want to shorten it to something that reflects your business’s services, such as “sparklewashco.wordpress.com” to keep customers from getting confused.

blog-customization

Blogging for Beginners Step 4: Customize Your Blog

So you’ve claimed your blog and you’ve prepared lists for post ideas. Good! Now you have to customize your blog and get it set up for visitors to see.

One of the worst mistakes a beginning blogger can make is choosing a terrible layout. The colors are awful, music starts playing when you navigate to the page (hint: NEVER do that; at least give visitors the chance to press play if they’d like to hear the music), and the pictures don’t align correctly.

Thankfully, this is actually a very easy thing to avoid.

When you sign up with your blogging service, they’ll provide free layouts. You can choose from any one of these and make your blog look sleek and professional without having to know a word of coding. Furthermore, most allow you to customize colors, fonts, and pictures, so you can still make the blog look unique without sacrificing utility or aesthetics.

blog-promotion

Blogging for Beginners Step 5: Promote Your Blog

Once you have everything set up and you’ve written your first post, you’ll have to promote it. You could have the best blog post in the world, but if you don’t put it out there, no one will find it! The internet is a huge place and there are lots of people vying for the attention of clients, including your competition.

So how do you make sure that the right people see your work?

Post it on all of your social media channels. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn—whatever you use, make sure you post a link to your blog. Try submitting to StumbleUpon. Reach out to local press outlets if you have an announcement to make about your company—maybe you’re rolling out a new product, or maybe you’ve hired a new employee and you want to do an employee spotlight. Whatever the news is, you can contact local journalists or blogs and see if they’d like to cover your post.

Finally, make sure your existing customers know about your social media sites and your blog. Invite them to follow you or sign up for a newsletter and you’ll be surprised at how many people will be happy to oblige!

 

Good luck with your new blog! With regular contributions and some effort to get the word out, you’ll soon be seeing new visitors and increased interest in your small business. And if you need help with the marketing aspect of this, don’t hesitate to contact Internet Local Listings. We’re social media marketing experts and would be happy to help you market your site!

Back to Basics #4: Why Your Company Needs a Digital Marketing Firm

why you need a digital marketing firm It used to be that a company could place an ad in the Yellowpages or the newspaper and almost immediately see their marketing efforts paying off. But those days have drawn to a close. In order to keep up with marketing in 2014 and beyond, you need to get your business online. Websites allow customers to find services and products at any time of day, and it gives you a chance to make a great impression before anyone even walks in your door.

Think about it: TV shows and music can be streamed online. Blogs and social networks deliver relevant, recent news and interesting articles. You can even read your favorite books on electronic devices. And when you search for a product that you need, where do you go first—to the phone book or to your favorite search engine? We bet you go online and search for services. So it makes sense that as a small business owner, you need to be where your customers are—online. But there’s one problem: Once you’ve set up your website, how do you make sure that your customers are finding you online?

That’s where a digital marketing firm comes in. A great digital marketing firm can mean the difference between customers finding your business instead of your competitor when they search online.

A Digital Marketing Firm Can Guide You

At Internet Local Listings, we know a lot about digital marketing. After all, it’s what we do—we work hard to get our clients’ websites visible across the web. We understand the ins and outs of local listings, boosting Google rankings, utilizing social media marketing, and building links. This is something that you, as a small business owner, probably don’t know a lot about. And that’s fine—you’re an expert on running your business, and you need to make sure you stay on top of those responsibilities.

What a digital marketing firm can do is help you run your business more efficiently. We’ll work with you to make sure your business is presented the way you want it to be. We’ll make sure your social media accounts are reflecting your desire to connect with customers. And we’ll be happy to let you participate in whichever way you feel comfortable. That way you can focus on running your company while we channel you passion for your business into a more prominent online presence.

digital marketing diagram

A Digital Marketing Firm Can Save You Money

Have you ever tried to advertise your business online? Maybe you bought ads on Facebook or Google, or maybe you paid to have your website listed somewhere. Whatever the case may be, if you’ve thrown money out the window on failed advertising endeavors, you may be feeling frustrated or even hopeless. But don’t worry. You can still market to your customers and not spend a fortune.

A digital marketing firm like Internet Local Listings can help you spend your marketing budget in the right way. There’s no need to pay for expensive advertisements that aren’t guaranteed to work. With packages starting at just $199 a month, Internet Local Listings has some of the best prices available on top-quality digital marketing services. Packages are customizable and you can get involved to any extent you feel comfortable. Want to send us pictures to use on your social media? Go ahead. Want to write your own content for a custom website? We’ll be happy to assist you (it’ll still need to be optimized!). Just let us know and we will be happy to work with you.

By working with a digital marketing firm, you’ll see real results. Putting ads up on Facebook or Google is a short-term solution to drive curious people to your website. But getting your website in front of your audience organically is much more worthwhile and a wiser investment in the long run, because it costs less and has a much wider impact.

A Digital Marketing Firm Can Connect You to Your Community

Small businesses are generally not concerned with appealing to customers all over the world. Small business owners tend to sell to local customers. From word of mouth advertising to old-fashioned window displays, local companies have different methods of capturing the attention of their customers. That is great—but to get a leg up on your competitors, you’re going to want to be on the front page of popular search engines as well.

That’s where a digital marketing firm comes in. We can get you listed all across the internet and help you rank higher in search engine results so that you can connect with your customers. Even better, you’ll rank organically in local searches. That means that when people in your town (or nearby towns) search for a service that you provide, your name will pop up. They’ll be able to find your store address and hours, and that makes it easy for them to contact you or to drop by to shop.

Why not cover all your advertising bases with digital marketing services? Increase website traffic and your web presence, and you’re well on your way to being found instead of your competitors. Call or visit Internet Local Listings today to speak with our digital marketing firm about your small business advertising needs.

 

Back to Basics #3: What is Organic Ranking?

what is organic ranking? If you’re just getting started with the internet marketing aspect of your business, you have probably heard a variety of unfamiliar terms already, from “SEO” to “analytics” to “content marketing”, and others. The phrase “internet marketing” itself works as sort of an umbrella term for a number of related topics. That’s because internet marketing is a complicated subject, and as such, there are a lot of areas that need to be explored when planning a marketing strategy. So it makes sense that there are some industry-specific terms that you’ll have to learn if you want to improve your knowledge.

But perhaps one of the stranger terms you’ll come across when you’re just starting out is “organic ranking”. While it sounds a little bit like a weird judging system for the produce at a farmer’s market, it’s actually a lot simpler than that. Let’s talk a bit about what organic ranking is and how it pertains to your company’s internet marketing strategy.

What is Organic Ranking?

Simply put, organic ranking is the way your site shows up in search results when someone types in a term. For example, if you sell cozies for mugs and someone types in “cheap mug cozies”, you’d want your site to pop up. If it does, that means it’s ranking organically for the keyphrase “cheap mug cozies.”

Ideally, you want to attain organic ranking for highly-trafficked keywords and keyphrases. After all, the more people who search for a term related to your business, the more traffic you’ll get. But unfortunately, this also means that there is going to be a lot of competition for these keyphrases. And, as you know, the search engine only returns a limited number of results, and most people aren’t going to click past the first page. So you really have a limited section in which to effectively rank.

How do I Improve my Organic Ranking?

First of all, what is organic ranking to you? Is it worth investing in—i.e., with an advertising budget? Is it something you’d like to try to do on your own by spending as little money as possible? Or is it something you’d simply like to understand better so that you can gauge how your site is doing in comparison to your competitors?

All of these are great reasons to learn a bit more about how to improve your organic ranking. This article won’t go into too much depth about this topic, but we’ll provide three solid examples of proven ways to help boost your organic rankings.

  1. Define a list of keywords.  If you don’t know the address of your destination, you don’t have a very good chance of getting there. It works the same way with organic ranking. You need to know what people are looking for before you can create a plan for them to find you. Take a look at the keywords your industry. Which are being searched for often? When you search for your competition, what do you type in to get their page to pop up? When you check Google trends, are your keywords and keyphrases showing up? Spend some time figuring this out. You can use Google Keyword Planner to do some research as well as Google Trends.

2. Understand the behavior of users. Without going into specifics about user experience and all the intricacies of demographics and gender, you should take the time to consider how your customers will use search engines. Are they going to be looking for your address or storefront? Make sure that you have your business on Google Places so they can find you on a map. If you have a Yelp page, make sure it’s filled out completely. Search engine users want results to be quick and easy to find, so be sure to help them out as much as you can. It’s also interesting to note that people click on organic search results 94% of the time—as opposed to 6% of the time for paid ads. So you’ll want to make sure you’re coming up organically to net the most clicks.

3. Write your own content. Who knows your business better than you do? Nobody. You should update your site regularly and provide visitors with fresh content. Not only does this give them an incentive to return and see what’s new, it also tells the search engines to come back and look at your page more often. Over time, this will help your organic ranking. Use your keywords and keyphrases in your articles. And if you’re concerned about your writing skills, you can always send ideas to a qualified writer, and they can craft a post for you.

What is organic ranking going to do for you?

It will help your site get found in a sea of competitors. It’s important to remember that organic ranking takes time and effort. You can choose to learn more about it and tackle it head on, or you can always hire professionals to assist you.

At Internet Local Listings, we’re proud to offer services to get your business ranking organically. It still won’t happen overnight (we’re not really wizards, though we pretend to be sometimes), but we can get you ranking for at least 2 keywords—sometimes more—in 60 days or less, or you don’t pay us until you see those results you want. Visit us or fill out a contact form to find out more. No matter what you decide to do, remember one thing: Successful organic ranking means you will be found by your customers—and failing to rank organically means you lose out to competitors. In a fast-paced, results-driven world, you definitely want to be the former.

How to Find the Best SEO Services for Small Business

seo services for small business If you’ve found your way to our blog, you’re probably doing research on how to find the best SEO services for small business. Chances are that you’re a small business owner yourself—or maybe family or friends are local business owners. Whatever the case may be, you’ve come to the right place. Internet Local Listings is an SEO company with over fifty years of combined experience in the internet marketing industry. And throughout the years, we’ve helped small businesses just like yours increase traffic to their websites.

Before you invest in an internet marketing company, there are a few things you should consider. At Internet Local Listings, we’d be honored to have the chance to show you just how we can help your company be seen online. But how do you know you’re choosing the best SEO services for a small business?

Must-Have SEO Services for Small Business

The company will get you listed across the internet. One of the most important things for a small business is to be found in local listings and directories. This means that your company name should pop up in places like Yahoo listings, Manta, Whitepages, Brownbook, and so on. The more places your company name, address, and phone number appear, the better chance your customers have to find you no matter which directory they choose to use. Think of it as the new way to use the yellow pages.

You’re being provided with a social media platform to reach your customers. In this day and age, everyone is on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a number of other social media sites. If you don’t have a strong social media presence online, you’re missing out on an opportunity to connect with customers—and you’re probably losing sales, too. A good SEO company will build social media platforms tailored to your company so that your customers and find and interact with you online.

You’re seeing fresh content and updates. If your company offers custom-created content for you, it should be updated on a regular basis. Not all websites have blogs, however, and if this is the case for your small business, you should at least make sure that your website is up-to-date and your social media sites are serving as a mode of timely communication with your customers.

The company offers a website package. A company offering custom-tailored SEO services for small businesses should have a website option. Many small business owners don’t know how to build a site, much less have time to update it regularly. Internet marketing companies need to understand this to be able to cater to a small business’s needs. Be wary of the SEO service that doesn’t work with you to make sure you have a great website.

The company doesn’t promise the moon and stars. This sounds negative, but it really isn’t. SEO is a complicated business— and because of this, many small business owners don’t understand the ins and outs of the industry. And that’s fine. After all, that’s why you’re hiring the pros! However, it’s important that you arm yourself with basic knowledge of how the marketing process should work. It’ll save you the heartache of partnering with people who don’t understand how to work with a small business, or worse, a company that promises to deliver everything when really, there’s no magic formula to get everything working in a short amount of time. Plus, it will instill realistic expectations and the patience you need in order to work with the pros so that they can get the results you’re looking for.

The long and short of it is, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. You can’t expect results that blow your competition out of the water overnight. It’s simply impossible to pull off!

How to Know if You’re Working with an Honest SEO Company

Now that you know what the best SEO services for small business should offer, how do you know if the company you’re working with is being honest and upfront about your account? How do you know if you’re investing in a successful long-term plan, or if you’re being taken for a ride?

An honest SEO company will get you listed in local directories immediately and then go to work on other marketing services—blogging, building a site, setting up a social media platform, etc. Ranking will come in time. An SEO company can set everything up the way Google likes, but Google will take its sweet time combing through data and reorganizing search results. You will see your hard work pay off in a first-page ranking—but it takes time.

That being said, if your SEO company promises to get you ranking in 30 days for any keyword, you can bet your bottom dollar that you’re going to be sorely disappointed. At Internet Local Listings, we can get you ranking in 60 days or less for two keywords—and sometimes more! Even though this might sound paltry to a small business owner who has never invested in SEO, this is a realistic and effective goal. Ranking for only two keywords at Internet Local Listings, we’re confident that we can get you real results you can see in a reasonable amount of time.

An honest SEO company will also tell you if things aren’t working out as planned. At this juncture, you can work together with the SEO service to tweak keywords, or you might choose to find other ways of getting your name out there. With high-competition industries it can take a bit more legwork, but you will still see results if you stick with it. There’s no magic formula to success, so you have to be flexible and think long-term for the best results! A dishonest company will not want to put the time in to work with you on these things. Don’t let this happen to you.

Choose Internet Local Listings for SEO Services for Small Business!

Whether you’re looking for a simple small business SEO package or you’d like something a little more in-depth, we have it all at Internet Local Listings. We hope you enjoyed this post, and we would be honored to take care of your small business’s marketing needs. Simply fill out the contact form or give us a call at (888) 770-3950! See how our affordable SEO services for small business can help you.

Back to Basics #2: What is Social Media?

What is Social Media? Globe showing social media platforms. Note: If you’re a social media expert, this post will probably not be of much help to you. But you can feel free to check out our other marketing tips and tricks here, or learn about our internet marketing services here.

Want more beginner tips? Read Back to Basics #1: What is SEO

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What is Social Media?

If you own your own business, you’ve probably been told that you need to set up social media accounts. And while you’re probably already familiar with Facebook and YouTube, you might not know a lot about Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or Google Plus. In fact, you might think that some of these platforms have nothing to do with your company or are completely useless in your advertising and marketing efforts.

Well, you would be wrong.

Social media is one of the most powerful tools you can leverage in your advertising campaign. In this post, we’ll talk a bit about what social media actually is, as well as how some of the top platforms can benefit your company—even if you run a small local business.

The Hidden Value of Sharing Content

Simply put, social media is text, images, and videos that can be easily shared across a public platform. It’s a bit like email—you can write your thoughts, include some pretty pictures, and send it off. However, unlike email, social media enables you to share your thoughts and media with everyone across your network at once. And those people can share it with people in their network, and so on and so forth. Plus, you can reach people who you never would have via email!

Are you starting to see now just how valuable this can be for advertising?

You’ve probably heard about certain things going “viral”: Grumpy cat, auto-tuned newscasts, and dancing babies are just a few of the contenders. All the publicity that these folks got originally came through social media sharing.

In other words, it was pretty much free.

Now, we can’t all expect to be the next big internet sensation, but we can use social media to increase customer engagement, gain free advertising, and promote a positive brand image. By understanding the power that social media holds for your company, you will be able to give yourself a leg up on your competition.

How Does this Benefit a Small Business?

Okay, so you’re on board with the idea of signing up for social media accounts now. That’s great! But before you go out and create 15 profiles, let’s talk a bit about the platforms we offer at Internet Local Listings, and take a look at the pros and cons of each. We won’t discuss the other platforms in this article.

First, not every company is built the same way. And not every social media platform will be perfect for every company. In other words, what works for a cupcake bakery probably won’t yield the same results for a roofing contractor.

Second, you should note that managing these accounts takes time and effort—so only sign up for the accounts you think will benefit you the most. You can easily become overwhelmed trying to maintain your accounts, and if you’re not doing a good job keeping up with your customers via social media, you’re not going to be getting the most out of your efforts.

The Platforms We Offer

Facebook Logo

Image courtesy of: http://thenextweb.com/facebook/2014/04/17/facebook-launches-optional-nearby-friends-feature-android-ios/

 

Facebook: Facebook is, hands down, the most widely used social media platform in the world. With over 757 million (yes, million) daily users, Facebook has a wide reach and is an untapped advertising source for many small business owners.

The pros of signing up for Facebook:

  • It’s easy to learn to use—you probably already have a personal account, and running a business page isn’t much more complicated than using a personal profile.
  • It’s free to sign up, and you’ll never have to pay a dime to run your own professional business page if you don’t want to. You can pay to advertise if you so choose, but you’re never going to be forced to purchase anything.
  • Facebook’s reach goes as far as you want it to, but it also has a strong local presence. You can build your network as you see fit for your company.

The cons of singing up for Facebook:

  • It’s oversaturated. Its biggest strength can also be a weakness, particularly for a small business or a new face on the internet. A Facebook page can be difficult to grow from scratch, and the companies who already have an established customer base tend to do the best.
  • Changes in Facebook algorithms mean that paid content is seen more frequently than free content. Basically, because Facebook went public, they’re finding more ways to make money. One of the biggest ways they’ve found is to have users “boost” posts by paying to ensure the content they share is seen by more people. If you don’t want to pay, there’s a bigger chance your content will be swallowed by the paid content.

So who benefits from Facebook?

Although established businesses tend to fare better, starting a Facebook page is an easy and effective way to engage your existing clients as well as inform potential customers about your products. It’s also highly valued by Google and can rank right under your own website—so even if you don’t see much point in sharing updates on Facebook, we’d recommend that every company sign up, even if only for the ranking benefits.

Twitter logo

Image courtesy of: http://mybroadband.co.za/news/internet/79423-top-twitter-users-in-south-africa.html

Twitter: Twitter is probably the most understood social media platform that we offer for our clients. The reason for the confusion is that most small businesses hear about the “trivial” things posted on Twitter—what you had for lunch, a selfie, a dog doing a headstand (okay, that’s actually pretty impressive, right?). What they don’t know is that, when used properly, it can be a rapidly-growing social network, and it offers extremely fast and efficient content sharing. Sharing media on Twitter is practically mindless—one click of a button and you’ve sent off a “tweet” that you find interesting to your followers. They can tweet it to their followers, and so on. You only have 140 characters to work with, though, so you’ll have to get creative.

The pros of signing up for Twitter:

  • Twitter is easy to use and extremely efficient. You can connect with like-minded people quickly and engage in brief, to-the-point conversations.
  • Twitter was made to share links. If you tweet your blog posts or share a photo on Twitter, people will click. It’s very effective to boost page visits.
  • Although there’s a lot of bad content, it’s easily drowned out. Twitter moves fast. Don’t like what a person has to say? Block them or mute them and they’ll disappear from your feed. Want to amplify a positive voice? Retweet that person or tell your followers to follow them. Being social is easy on Twitter.

The cons of signing up for Twitter:

  • There is a lot of self-promotion on Twitter. Yes, you have signed up to promote your business, but the point of social media is to engage. If you’re out there screaming about how you have the best lawn fertilizer in all of Texas over and over again every day, people are going to unfollow you. Finding that balance between self-promotion and sharing can be tricky for newcomers.
  • It tends to be widespread. If you’re looking to connect locally, Twitter might not be the best place to advertise. People on Twitter tend to network from around the globe. Furthermore, most people you meet will probably be other business owners, and you’ll have to find a way to connect with them in a positive way.
  • As mentioned above, it’s brief. It can be frustrating to try to make an impactful statement in 140 characters or less!

So who benefits from Twitter?

We truly believe that almost any company can use Twitter to their advantage. Local contractors can connect with suppliers and other people in their industry. Spas can connect with big-name beauty brands and clients. Artists can network with other artists to promote their work. With a little bit of creativity, you can build a network that helps you in your marketing endeavors.

What is Social Media to you?

There’s a lot of time and energy involved in running a social media campaign—setting it up, scheduling regular updates, networking, answering customer concerns, and running promotions. And we only touched on the two platforms we offer for our clients at Internet Local Listings—there are certainly others to explore. What does your time and money mean to you? Are you ready to take the plunge?

If you’re interested in learning more about Facebook and Twitter or you’d like to hire social media professionals to maintain your accounts for you, simply contact Internet Local Listings here. We’d be glad to discuss your social media goals with you!

Best 5 Benefits of Social Media Marketing

Benefits of Social Media Networking for Small Businesses Has your company been planning a social media marketing campaign? Do you already have a campaign running? Whether you’re a small business with a small budget, or a medium-sized business looking to invest more in a marketing campaign, social media is an integral part of your advertising approach.

If you’re on the fence about utilizing social media, here are the best 5 benefits of social media marketing that are sure to change your mind.

  1. Most businesses report seeing vast improvements in customer engagement when using social media. According to Social Media Examiner, a whopping 92% of small businesses reported their social media efforts generating more exposure for their businesses. That’s no small number of business owners! Makes us wonder what the other 8% saw. This doesn’t take into consideration, however, how frequently the sites were updated, nor does it say how much money was spent in the process.
  2. 3 in 5 small businesses said they gained customers through social media. Amanda Sibley at Hubspot reports that the majority of small businesses found that they’ve actually increased sales simply by staying up-to-date with social media platforms. Even if they didn’t spend a lot of money on advertising, the simple act of updating with fresh content helped them rank better and better communicate with customers.
  3. Social media marketing budgets are expected to double in the next year. So what does this have to do with your small business? It simply means that more people are jumping on the social media bandwagon. Right now, there is still a lot of competition on popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter. But with visits to Google Plus rising (Google+ receives 1.2 billion visits per month, whereas Facebook nets 809 million),and Tumblr and Pinterest still holding users’ attention up to 4x longer than other sites, it’s worth it to investigate which other social media platforms would benefit your company—and to do so sooner rather than later. The benefits of social media marketing are almost indisputable in this area!
  4. People still read through the ads on social media sites. According to Social Media Today, 60% of LinkedIn users have clicked on an ad on the site, and 43% of U.S. marketers have obtained at least one new customer through LinkedIn. Those statistics alone should make you stop to consider whether your business could be benefitting from networking on LinkedIn. Likewise, other social media sites also have a great effect on traffic: Almost 60% of all social media-referred traffic to B2B websites comes from just three networks: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  5. Mobile coupons placed on social media sites get more clicks. As stated by Local Vox, Mobile coupons get 10 times the redemption rate of traditional coupons and mobile ads get 3x the clicks. By strategically incorporating mobile coupons to your social media marketing plan, you’ll see an increase in customer engagement as well as purchases.

For more information on the benefits of social media marketing, you can contact one of the Internet Local Listings representatives here or read through our plans to see if you’re ready to take the leap into social media!

Back to Basics: What is SEO?

What is SEO, content marketing, social media This is the first post in the "Back to Basics" series. To stay caught up on posts, follow our blog and posts will be sent directly to your inbox!

If you’ve been following our blog, you’ve probably noticed that we talk a lot about search engine marketing and optimization. And while that notion is easy to grasp, some of the terminology surrounding the subject can be a bit… exclusive. If you’re feeling a little in the dark about what internet marketing entails, then this post is for you. If you’re already well-versed in the intricacies of SEO, then you may enjoy reading about how to increase customer engagement, or our tips on implementing new marketing strategies this summer!

So What is SEO Anyway?

As you’ve probably gathered, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it refers to the process of crafting a website and its content around the algorithms search engines use to rank search results. It sounds confusing—and when you get into the details and science of it, it can be—but the concept is actually not very difficult to grasp. SEO covers a number of industries: Search Engine Marketing, Internet Marketing and Advertising, Content Syndication and Marketing, Social Media Management, and more. You don’t necessarily need to understand exactly what all of these terms mean, but it’s important to understand that SEO isn’t a precise science, and that it is applied across a number of industries—it’s dynamic; not static.

The good news is that for most small businesses, having a rudimentary understanding of SEO is enough to get started on improving your search engine rankings. So let’s go over a few things that you’ll need to know to understand the science of internet marketing!

  1. Content is king. If you haven’t heard this one yet, you’ll definitely start hearing it now that you’re looking for more information on search engine optimization.  What is SEO without content? It’s an incomplete effort at best. To rank better on search engines, you’ll need to provide the robots that “crawl” data on the internet with new and fresh content. And how do you do this? The easiest way is to start a blog. You can also opt for frequent social media posts, but you should note that in this case, the search engines will likely rank those sites higher than your own website!
  2. Organic results are best. Organic? As in, like the food? No, not exactly. Here, “organic results” means the results that pop up when you search for a specific phrase. Let’s say you’re looking for information on how to install your own windows. You’ll search for something like DIY window installation or installing your own windows. The results that pop up are “organic” search results. What is SEO’s role in this? Simple: You want to get the search engines to rank you for these kinds of terms, which are otherwise known as keywords. Do some in-depth keyword research and build your content around the best choices for your industry and local competition.
  3. People love social media. In fact, chances are, you’re already on Facebook, if not a number of other social media sites. Most of us are on social media in some capacity today, right? And it’s important that your website and company are listed across a few choice social networks as well. Not all industries are the same and thus not all social media platforms are suitable for everyone. Look at your competitors and see what they’re doing. Then create your profiles and start gathering your own fanbase. So then, what is SEO in relation to social media? The more you update your social media sites and interact with fans, the more attention you bring to your sites. Your social media pages will also appear in search results when customers search for your business’s name.

What is SEO to a small business?

Your small business may already be ranking fine for a couple of keywords. But the thing about SEO is that it’s a fickle beast—between Google, Bing, and Yahoo!, ranking algorithms are changing all the time. It can be difficult to stay caught up on all of these factors, particularly if you don’t have a dedicated marketing team. Chances are you’re doing this mostly on your own. And when you’re trying to run your business, do you realistically have the time and resources to spend learning about best SEO practices? Probably not.

These few tips should help you grasp a few of the main components of ranking—providing fresh content, choosing good keywords, and setting up social media accounts to connect with fans and customers—but the science goes much deeper than that. Search engine optimization is a necessity if you want to succeed as a business online.

If you’re interested in learning more about this subject, simply browse through our site or fill out a contact request form. At Internet Local Listings, we have over 50 years combined experience with SEO and internet marketing services.

What is SEO to you? An investment you’d like to make? Something you’d like to learn more about? Whatever it is, Internet Local Listings would like to help. Give us a call or drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, email, or via our contact form today!

How to Increase Customer Engagement for Your Small Business

increase customer engagement for small businesses If you’re a small business owner, there’s a big chance you’ve heard the term “customer engagement.” Depending on your level of experience in managing an online storefront, you may not have a clear picture of what it means to have customers “fully” engaged. To some business owners, a highly-engaged customer simply means someone who visits your store—whether in person or online—and purchases a product or service from you. To others, this term means that a customer would have to purchase and come back to use your services again, or perhaps be involved with your website or social media accounts in some way. And it’s true that for different industries, customer engagement will be different: i.e., if you’re a concrete contractor, you’re not going to expect the same return service as a boutique or thrift store. So how can you determine the best way to improve customer engagement for your company?

Know Your Clientele

This is the best answer, but unfortunately,  it’s also very complicated. You may know the basic needs of your clients, but you might be surprised at how in-depth you can really get with the details. For example, if you’re a boutique specializing in women’s clothing, you already know that women are going to shop at your store more often than men. But do you know finer details, such as income level, interests, hobbies, and spending habits? Getting your customers more engaged with your store requires a little bit of research, as well as some finesse in gathering this type of data.

The good news is that social media is the perfect answer to this dilemma. According to a survey done by Avaya’s Autonomous Customer Research, 82% of customers prefer multi-channel engagements—meaning not only do they want to visit you face-to-face in your store, but they probably want to connect with you via email, Facebook, Twitter, or on another social media channel. But why do customers enjoy this?

Simple. They can get all the information they need from the comfort of their own homes. They can stay caught up with your sales and special offers simply by “liking” you or following you online. Don’t you think you owe it to your customers to help them stay connected to your brand in such a convenient way?

How to Improve Customer Engagement

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to choose a few social media networks that you want to maintain. Keep in mind that this is a time-intensive endeavor—if you want results, you’ll have to be willing to spend at least several hours a week dedicated to this part of the process.

That’s why it’s important to just choose a few networks that you know appeal to your clientele. There are so many out there that it would be next to impossible to maintain your presence across each one. Whether you choose Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Tumblr, you’ll have to find your strengths and play to them. That being said, here are a few tips to help you increase customer engagement across any social media networks:

  1. Create relationships, not “hard sells”. You are a sales pro, no doubt. But the way you approach customers online is not the same way you’d approach them in the store. People come to your site to browse at home—let them do so in peace.
  2. Make it easy for customers to find you. You could have the best business in the world, but if your customers can’t find you on the web, they’re not going to be calling. Make sure you are ranking on the first page for a set of targeted keywords. Customize your social media profiles with easy-to-find-and-follow links to your site. Finally, be sure your contact information is available. Customers like knowing that they can contact you if they need to.
  3. Provide relevant updates. Customers like to know what your company is up to, but they also enjoy related topics. If you’re a salon, try updating about the latest hair trends. If you’re a contractor, talk about seasonal updates that homeowners can benefit from.
  4. Update frequently. This is a common mistake. Oftentimes, people assume “if you build it, they will come.” This is far from true in the fast-paced world of internet marketing. You need to not only build a strong foundation, but you also need to keep adding to it. Aim to update your site’s blog at least one time a week, if not more. Update Facebook, Google +, or LinkedIn once a day. You don’t have to spend hours crafting a post, but try to keep clients engaged with your site through quality, fresh content.
  5. Respond to criticism. But do so politely. If you have a negative review, evaluate what the customer has to say. Publicly address it so others know that you recognize and care about a customer’s experience. Which brings us to our next topic…

Dealing with Angry Customers

It is not fun to deal with, but it happens to the best of us. You will have angry customers and you will have to find a way to respond to them without looking unprofessional. The best way to do this is to find legitimate complaints and politely respond as you would to a customer in your store. If the complaints are abusive, slanderous, or are coming from someone impersonating your company, you can report them to the appropriate person. Keep on top of this—you don’t want to leave unprofessional or negative comments around!

Want to hire the pros?

Did you know that companies who have a fully-engaged customer base see a 23% average increase in revenue? There are so many reasons you should be online and engaging with your customers—but if you’ve decided it’s just too much of a time investment, you can always hire the pros. Visit Internet Local Listings to see our variety of online marketing packages, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to set up an account. We’d love to help you increase customer engagement and get your site ranking!

Internet Local Listings Now Offers Affordable Website Design

shopping for affordable website packages

Why Do You Need a Website?

Are you interested in setting up a webpage for your business, but don’t know where to go for affordable website design? Internet Local Listings is now proud to offer a great website package to clients who want to be listed online, but don’t yet own a website.

In today’s marketplace, it’s difficult to be competitive without an online presence. People use the Google, Bing, and Yahoo! search engines to quickly find almost any type of service online. Think about it: The last time you went online to search for a restaurant, where did you go? You probably went to one of those top 3 search engines and clicked on a link on the very first page. And can you ever recall a time you clicked to the second or third page to find a result? Most people never move past the first page—94% in fact. So if you want your customers to find you, you will need to do two things:

1)    Find an affordable website design package to successfully launch your professional webpage.

2)    Enlist SEO experts to get your site ranking on the first page of all the top search engines.

The good news is that Internet Local Listings offers all of these things in one affordable package. Want to know more? Check out some of the highlights below:

Choose from a Variety of Affordable Website Design Packages

If you’re concerned about losing creative control over your website, don’t be. At Internet Local Listings, we respect—and encourage—your participation in the website design and maintenance process. That’s why we work with you every step of the way: from choosing a domain name, to incorporating important business information, to discussing custom content and layouts to best suit your interests and your industry. Every one of our affordable website design packages can be customized an unlimited number of times during the first thirty days of your contract.

To get started, you’ll sign an agreement for a basic website package. This includes 5 pages: Home, About Us, Services and Products, Contact Us, and Photos. These tabs can be changed to suit your needs, and they may vary depending on your customer base. Each and every page is designed to exceed SEO industry standards. The entire site is constructed in a way that encourages optimal search engine indexing—the process that places your page at the top of the results.

How Do I Get Started?

It’s simple to get started! Simply contact our web department at (888)-770-3950, ext. 910 and we’ll be happy to guide you through the process. From there, a friendly sales representative will help you do the following:

  • Compile important information to include on your website. You’ll receive a questionnaire via email to address all aspects of your business. Please complete this in the first three (3) days to help us get you online faster!
  • Select a domain name. We do give suggestions for SEO purposes, but you may choose to opt out of this. We will walk you through all of this—no need to know coding.
  • Choose a design. You can supply us with photos and suggestions for content. If you want to write your own content, we strongly encourage you to discuss that with your sales representative.

Within 15 business days of purchase, your website will be completed. Remember, during the first 30 days, you’ll have unlimited changes. If you’d like to make changes after this period, we offer a flat fee of $100 a month to cover all hosting, design changes, technical assistance, photos, and content updates.

So if you’re ready to purchase an affordable website design and bring your business to the internet marketplace, call (888)-770-3950, ext. 910 and let Internet Local Listings help you be sen online!

Here are some samples of website designs we have done:

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