Back to Basics #18: When Should You Automate Updates?

scheduling-updates We've talked before about how you can take a load off your shoulders by scheduling your social media and blog updates. But, as with any automated services, there's a point where you need to draw the line. Your followers and fans don't want to interact with a robot, after all—they're there because they enjoy what YOU have to offer.

So how do you know when to automate your blog posts and social media updates, and when to interact with your fans?

Automate for hours you aren't awake.

Sure, it's not the perfect time to post at 3 am on Twitter—not for everyone, anyway. But many businesses have customers who reside on the other side of the pond—and they're awake during those hours. So it's a good idea to schedule a few tweets to go out when those other eyes will fall on your page. As for platforms like Facebook and Google+, it's best to figure out when you get the most interaction. For many people, the best hours are earlier in the day, local time. If this is the case, you don't necessarily have to automate your updates. However, you might choose to do so if you know you're going to be forgetful about it!

Going to be busy or out of town all weekend? Automate your updates.

Of course it's ideal that you be around to interact with your fans and followers no matter how busy you are. But the reality of life is that we have to unplug every once in a while.

But just because you're gone doesn't mean that you can't still engage your audience. By scheduling a few posts to pop out when you're away, your fans will still be able to see what you're up to, the content you want to share with them, and products that they might want to buy.

Keep a balance of 80/20: 80% promoting other people, 20% marketing your own products.

People don't like to see a constant stream of advertisements coming from the accounts they choose to follow. If the only updates you ever offer are hard sales pitches, you'll find that your social media presence and blog subscriptions are going to go nowhere fast. A good way to keep this balance is to schedule some retweets or shares during the day. This way you can be sure that you're still contributing to discussions without coming off as overly sales-y.

Reuse old posts—schedule them to pop out at some time in the future.

What do you do with old blog posts? Well, as long as the content is “evergreen” (meaning that you could read it three years from now and it'd still be helpful), you can schedule the posts to pop out in the future.

For example, let's say you write an article about cleaning your gutters yourself. This is probably the most useful in the fall, but that's not to say it can't be helpful at other times of the year! Posting it once every few months across your social networks can help drive traffic back to your site. By scheduling them in advance, you won't have to think too much about it, or try to remember a few months down the road. It'll already be ready for you!

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When should you NOT automate your updates?

  • When dealing with customer service--people want responses from humans, not robots.
  • When you have a fan or follower trying to get an answer to a specific question. For example, “How long is your sale going to be on?” shouldn't elicit a response based on the fact that a person contacted you (i.e., “thanks for connecting!”), or worse—radio silence.
  • During a time of national crisis. Too many brands have forgotten to take off their scheduled tweets or updates during an unexpected crisis, and as a result, they came across as insensitive—even callous. Even if your company's services have nothing to do with the crisis at hand, sometimes it's just best to stay silent for a little while.
  • When someone follows you (this is primarily geared toward Twitter users). When you follow someone on Twitter and they send you an automated direct message welcoming you (or asking you to buy something), how does it make you feel? Annoyed? Yeah, it probably doesn't really make you want to interact with the person. So don't do this to your followers. Send a personal greeting if you like, but whatever you do, don't spam them.

What do you think? Do you automate your posts? When should someone avoid scheduling updates? Let us know in the comments below!

Today There Was a Google Panda Update, but Don't Panic Just Yet

google-panda-update Multiple sources have confirmed that Google has rolled out a new update for its “Panda” search algorithm, including Google's own Pierre Far, who wrote on his Google+ page that the change will continue to be rolled out over the next few days:

“Earlier this week, we started a slow rollout of an improved Panda algorithm, and we expect to have everything done sometime next week.

Based on user (and webmaster!) feedback, we’ve been able to discover a few more signals to help Panda identify low-quality content more precisely. This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher, which is nice. Depending on the locale, around 3-5% of queries are affected."

Before you begin to panic about your rankings, let's take a step back and take a look at which sites the Google Panda update was targeting. While the company will never explicitly state how their algorithm works, they do give some good hints:

  • Is the information on the site trustworthy?
  • Is the content well written—i.e., free of spelling errors, factual inconsistencies, etc.?
  • Are there multiple copies of the same content?
  • Does the site have an excessive amount of ads on it?
  • Is the content mass-produced or does it come from a variety of sources?

And so on.

So you can probably see that there's a common theme here: Targeting poor content practices.

And as it turns out, there's a good reason for that.

no-spam

As we've mentioned in our other articles, many marketers love to inform their clients that “content is king”--and it is, without a doubt, an incredibly important part of the ranking formula. While there are many other factors that contribute to a site's rank, content is perhaps the most easily targetable and exploitable. You've probably visited sites with “spammy” content—poorly written, stuffed with keywords, repetitive, devoid of any real substance. And the experience probably wasn't fun, either. At one point, the spam had gotten so bad that it wasn't uncommon for someone to just take someone else's article, put it through a program to “spin” the text, and spam it across their website. And all without even being penalized by the search engines!

Obviously, things haven't been that bad for a while. But Google still catches spammers employing these practices, and it doesn't appear that the spammers will stop trying to find these loopholes any time soon. So the Google team periodically tightens the bolts on the algorithm--it's the only way they can penalize the sites that seek to exploit the system. Unfortunately, this can end up putting the squeeze on legitimate businesses, too, because no adjustment is perfect.

So it's understandable, then, that there are a lot of small and medium-sized business owners who worry that this (or any) Panda update will affect them adversely.

If you're among them, the best way to improve your chances of recovery is to take a look at your content. And take a close look—really analyze it with an objective eye. Is it high quality? Do you update your site frequently? Does your site's design and layout look reputable and professional? Are you providing a real service to your visitors or are you simply spamming them with in-your-face advertising?

looking-at-a-bad-website

If you can honestly say that you're providing everything you can to ensure a great user experience, there should be no concern! In fact, you may even notice a jump in your traffic. If you notice that you have been adversely affected by this update, don't worry too much. You can take a close look at where your site can improve and begin to seriously address those issues. Over time you'll notice your work paying off, and the next time a bigger Google update rolls around, you'll be able to climb the rankings again!

Questions or thoughts on the Panda update? Let us know in the comments below!

Back to Basics #17: How to Choose Keywords for a Small Business

how-to-find-keywords-for-small-businesses In our Back to Basics series, we've talked about blogging, content marketing, updating social media, managing your public image, and even how to manage your time by using tools to help speed up your posting and sharing. But this isn't all you need to be doing to make sure that people are finding your business!

Another important part of keeping your campaigns running as smoothly as possible is to keep up to date on which keywords are helping your small business rank. A great way to do this is to use the Google Keyword Planner or KeywordTool.io, both of which are free to use and easy to learn.

Finding Target Keywords

So how do you even know where to start? A good place to begin your research is with your competitors. Now, we're not advocating stealing their keywords in an attempt to out-rank them (some people do this, but it's not really a great way of going about things), but it's a good idea to see why your competitors are ranking so high. Do they have unique keywords? Are they the only providers of that service in your area? Do they have a website that has been up for many years? All of these things can determine how well a site is ranking, and often, with a bit of research, you can find ways to use this information to your advantage.

keyword-planner

To find their keywords, simply enter their URL in the box and see what Google pulls up. You may be surprised at some of the terms people are using to find the competitor's site.

Alternatively, you might want to try entering your own URL and seeing what Google suggests. If you already have content on your site, the keyword planner will list related terms and give you an estimate of their search volume. You can pick a few of these keywords and think of variations for them.

Finally, using keywordtool.io, you can enter a subject—dentist, for example—and it will come up with a number of suggestions based on that keyword. You can plug some of these into Google's Keyword Planner to see how the terms fare in searches.

Checking a Keyword's Effectiveness

So after you've chosen your keywords and used them in blogs, meta tags, and images, how do you know if they're working for your site? Well, a good way to check is to sign up for a free Google analytics account. You can get a code to copy and paste in your site's header section and from there, Google will track information about the visitors that come to your site. (Important: If you know nothing about this, it's best to contact your webmaster and ask him or her to insert the tracking code for you—you don't want to mess up your website!) You can discover how they accessed your page—by organic search, social media links, or links from other pages, for example—and you can see which terms they're using to find you. These terms are going to be the ones you want to focus on. If you see that some aren't getting much traction, try a different variation by returning to the keyword planner and playing around with your options.

You can also try using a search engine to see if you can pull up your page with any terms. This isn't necessarily the most effective way of determining if your keywords are working, though—sometimes it takes a while for the search engines to index everything and determine that your site is relevant. Plus, Google Analytics will show you where your “impressions” are, and these are equally as important to consider. Impressions are terms that the search engines associate with your site. They may not pull up your site until page 8 or 9, but they are there. Sometimes, given a bit more time and effort through blogging and social media sharing, you can move up the ranks for these "impressions" as well.

maintaining-google-ranking

Maintaining Your Ranking

Now, before we begin, let us just say that there's no sure-fire way to ensure you stay at the top of a search engine's result page. That's because the algorithms change frequently—most often in an attempt to keep spammers from finding loopholes to abuse. Unfortunately, that means that it will affect you, too, even if you're doing nothing wrong.

But there's good news!

A good way to make sure that you stay in the good graces of the search engines is to update your site frequently. Blogging at least once or twice a week is a good goal. Talk about your keywords and subjects relating to them. Make sure that all your fresh content is high quality, relevant, and entertaining for your visitors to read. By doing all of this, you'll have the best chance of maintaining your ranking over time.

If you enjoyed this article on how to choose keywords for a small business, be sure to subscribe for more updates delivered to your inbox! There are plenty of other articles meant to help small business owners make smart SEO and social media decisions. Or, if you have any other tips, let us know in the comments below!

Back to Basics #16: 5 Ideas for Your Marketing Strategy

digital-marketing-icons

In our Back to Basics series, we’ve covered a wide range of topics, from the basics of SEO to implementing a few reliable social media strategies. But what if you’re looking for more ideas for your digital marketing strategy? What if you want to go above and beyond social media marketing? In this post, we’ll give you five great ways you can improve your digital marketing strategy without focusing solely on social media and local listings. As always, we try to supply helpful and affordable suggestions while keeping the small business owner in mind.

1. Build an app.

You know the line: “There’s an app for that!” Well, there might not be an app for that. There are plenty of ways small businesses can get in on the app craze. If you run your own restaurant, you can build an app to let customers place an order using their phones or tablets. You can offer periodic deals that only app subscribers can access. There are plenty of ways to get creative. And the best part is that now that apps are so popular, you can get one built on the cheap. Check out freelancing sites such as elance.com or fiverr.com to find prospective contractors!

2. Migrate to mobile-compatible platforms.

We can’t stress it enough: If you’re not mobile compatible, you’re falling behind the times. A lot of people are searching for small, local businesses using their phones. They want access to immediate information about the products and services they seek: Business hours, phone number, website, menu (if you’re a restaurant, obviously), and of course the street address. Many look for Yelp ratings or BBB listings. All of this can be found through a quick local search. Make sure that all of your website’s information is up to date and displays correctly on mobile phone screens as well as tablets. You can hire a designer to make sure that your site looks flawless on all devices, or you can sign up for a free site at squarespace.com or weebly.com and choose layouts that are mobile-friendly. (Or, Internet Local Listings offers a free website with our starter package!)

3. Focus on creating good content.

If you haven’t noticed already, social media visibility is becoming increasingly dependent on paid-for advertising. You want more people to find you on Facebook? Be prepared to spend money advertising. You want more people to retweet you? You’ll have to purchase promoted tweets. According to aforbes.com article, it’s only going to get worse. The monetization of social media is inevitable—with the amount of people using the services, companies are eager to shell out money in hopes of attracting more customers.

Of course, this unfairly discriminates against small business owners. Without the budget to push their ads out there, they get buried under the noise of larger corporations. The way around this? Start and regularly update a blog.

Google is always looking for great content. It helps you rank better and it helps keep visitors interested in your site. You’ll never have to pay to write your own thoughts down in a virtual “journal.” So get started with a free blogging platform such as Wordpress or Blogger and make sure that your voice is still being heard amongst the never-ending calls for you to spend money on advertising.

4. Create a podcast.

You might be raising your eyebrow at this one. You probably don’t know how to make a podcast, and that’s okay—not a lot of people do. But that’s precisely why it can put you ahead of the curve. Small business owners can get in on the podcasting craze and reach an audience that their competitors can’t. Run a yoga studio? Talk about the health benefits of yoga, interview students who have seen great health benefits, and give listeners a weekly yoga challenge. Are you an electrician? Talk to your listeners about seasonal electrical tips, how to save money on electrical bills, and how to use your existing décor to spruce up your interior decorating. There are plenty of things you can talk about in a podcast. Make a list of things you are interested in that relate to your field or industry. Then check out sites like RawVoice or Wizzard to get ideas and find out more about podcasting.

5. Hire Digital Marketing for Small Business.

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that search engine optimization still delivers one of the highest returns on your monetary investment. Take a look at Moz’s handy-dandy chart here and see which things small businesses could handle easily on their own vs the amount of time that needs to be invested. You’ll immediately notice that SEO is affordable and the results are worthwhile. However, you’ll also see that it requires a large time investment and an expert to help you navigate the subtleties that come with the SEO process. Digital marketing doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, though—you can check out our plans and pricing to see which works the best with your budget and long-term goals.

 

Is there a digital marketing strategy that you would recommend to a small business owner? Leave it in the comments below!

How to Stay Motivated When You’re Feeling Discouraged

be-awesome-today Photo courtesy of Jessismoreblog.com

We’ve all been there: You’ve been working hard and trying to remain positive. You’ve been diligently maintaining your blog or vigilantly replying to customer reviews and encouraging engagement on social media.

But growth has been slow.

And one day, you wake up, and it hits you: You’re tired. You’re frustrated. You’re completely discouraged and don’t know what to do.

How to stay motivated when you’re feeling sad

Everyone is motivated by different things. Some people like watching happy movies. Some people look up inspirational quotes and pin them on their office walls. Still others turn to family and friends to support them during tough times. These are all great ways to stay motivated—personal connection and fostering positive feelings are some of the most basic human needs. Fulfilling these needs tends to put you back in the frame of mind to concentrate on your goals again.

But it doesn’t necessarily erase or push away those bad thoughts. And it certainly doesn’t make you feel like blogging or marketing again. Here are a few things you can consider to help you get back into the right frame of mind to take steps forward once more.

kitty-reading-a-book

Read.

Perhaps you’ve been in the wrong frame of mind for a while. Maybe your marketing strategy isn’t panning out because there’s an element to the unique formula for your success that’s missing.

Picking up a book relating to your problem can do just the trick. An author might tell a story about when they were discouraged and how they overcame it. They more than likely have some good advice to consider. And while this is all anecdotal evidence, it’s still worth it to read and consider what others have to say. Reading allows you to reframe discouragement into a fresh new view on the problem.

Write.

So you’re not a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. That’s okay. Sitting down and making a list counts as writing, as does writing an entire blog post. Something as simple as starting with “What frustrates me right now” and just free-writing your feelings can help you sort out your thoughts. Many people find writing to be cathartic, even if they don’t bother to publish their writings, or never even show anyone! This is what the point of a diary is, after all. But it can be useful for anyone, not just pre-teen girls.

Re-visit great times in your company’s history.

Did you host a BBQ once that was a great success? Did you hold a promotional event where a lot of customers showed up to your store and left happy? Can you remember how you felt when you first cut the ribbon at your store’s grand opening? Do you still have that first dollar you earned framed on the wall?

All of these things can evoke a positive emotion in you. It helps you remember that your hard work does pay off. You’ve had successes and you’ve had failures. You’ve had ups and downs. That’s okay—everyone does. Celebrate the times you’ve felt truly proud of your business and your successes, and soon you’ll remember why you do this in the first place. It’s a labor of love!

overcoming-failures

Ask yourself what you’ve learned from your failures.

It is painful to think of the times we’ve failed: We released a product that fell flat. No one responded to our call for reviews. Worse, a customer lambasted you in a public forum despite you trying your hardest to please them, and you just can’t get them to change their mind or give you a second chance.

Well, you can’t please everyone. And there is no guaranteed formula for success when it comes to marketing.

But all successful people take their failures and turn them into a positive experience. By looking at them as learning opportunities, they can understand where they went wrong and learn to view it as a way to weed out the ideas and strategies that don’t work. Here’s a great quote from Thomas Jefferson to remember when you’re trying to learn how to value your less-than-successful endeavors:

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”

Now that’s a great way to motivate yourself when you’re feeling down!

Find support forums online.

This one probably goes hand-in-hand with seeking support from family and friends, but it has the extra advantage in that it offers support in an anonymous space with unbiased people and advice.

Finding a small business support group can be immensely helpful for discouraged business owners. You can share stories with others and get advice on how to get through tough times. You won’t feel like they “have to” say these things (like you might when talking to your mother, friends, or spouse) and you’re getting advice from people who truly understand what you’re going through. This can provide a different perspective that you can use to bolster your confidence once again.

We hope you’ve found this at least the tiniest bit helpful! If you have any suggestions for how to deal with discouragement, please leave them in the comments below.

7 Helpful Social Media Management Tools for Small Businesses

busy-business-owner When you own your own business, it is time-consuming enough to try to manage all of your daily tasks—but you know you have to get them done if you want to be successful.

You probably also know that nowadays, you have to be on social media if you want to bring in new business. But what if you simply don’t have the time to keep up with everything? What if you’ve tried and tried, and still, you are spending too much time doing repetitive tasks which take away from your normal schedule?

In this post, we’ll give you 7 tools that you can use to help automate and better organize your social media updates. Most of these are useful for almost any social media site you can think of, but several focus specifically on Twitter. Why? Because Twitter demands more time and attention to be effective than do sites such as Facebook, Google Plus, or LinkedIn. If you’d like to know more about scheduling updates, check out our post on how to improve your social media strategy.

With that being said, let’s dive in and start with one of our absolute favorites: BufferApp.

1. BufferApp

bufferapp

BufferApp is a free app that you can install on your phone or browser. With just the click of a button, you can “queue” tweets, Facebook and G+ posts, and LinkedIn and App.net updates. With the free version of Buffer, you can queue up to 10 updates at a time across each social network, and you can choose to have them appear whenever you like. For example, if you have a promotional event coming up and you want to post an update a week before the event, once two days before, and once the day of, you can schedule the posts to pop out at those specific times. But that doesn’t mean you can only schedule one update a day, of course—if you want to schedule ten tweets in a day, you can! Plus, you can save and rearrange schedules as needed. And if your updates get out of order, you can drag and drop them into position. It’s easy and intuitive, so it’s perfect for the small business owner who doesn’t have much time to dedicate to updates.

Another great feature of BufferApp is the curated content. If you’re running low on ideas, Buffer features 25 shareable updates that you can add to your queue. From quotes and inspirational articles, to posts about improving your business, you can find tons of interesting things here without having to scour the web.

Bonus: With the “Awesome” plan, you get a lot more versatility with your posts. You can have multiple schedules running—for example, run one Twitter schedule for the weekdays and one for the weekend—and you can queue many more posts at once, saving you time for the entire month if you so choose. Analytics is also available to Awesome plan subscribers, so you can easily see what times your customers are responding to posts, how many people are engaging, and who is sharing your updates.

Explore BufferApp’s features here: https://bufferapp.com/

2. HootSuite

hootsuite

Similar to Buffer, HootSuite offers you the ability to schedule updates. You can even auto-schedule messages between chosen times. But there’s a downside—unlike Buffer, which allows you to schedule up to 10 updates at once with the free version, HootSuite’s free account only allows you to schedule one update at a time.

But if you’re willing to pay $9.99 a month for the “Pro” plan, HootSuite gets way more in-depth than BufferApp does.

For starters, if you subscribe to the Pro plan, you can manage 35 social media profiles—far beyond BufferApp’s “big five”. You can also schedule up to 350 updates at a time. Furthermore, you get advanced analytics reports telling you who is sharing your updates and when, and you also get training from “HootSuite University” to help you understand all of the features that HootSuite offers.

But if you’re on a small budget and only want the free version, don’t worry—you still get lots of flexibility. Import up to 2 RSS feeds to capture and publish content from your blog or other blogs. Connect your social media profiles and organize them into tabs to sift through the important information you want in seconds. And of course you’ll be able to see basic statistics such as retweets, mentions, likes, plus ones, etc.

Check out HootSuite's plans here: https://hootsuite.com/

3. RavenTools

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RavenTools is a godsend for companies that want everything from analytics to social media all under one convenient dashboard. Raven is different than the previously mentioned apps, because it works on all site data (not just social media) behind the scenes and presents it to you in graphs, reports, or emails—whatever you'd like. For example, you can set up your campaign to include reports compiled from your Google analytics data, or you can do keyword research to see which keywords you should be using in your advertising campaigns. Raven also helps you send out press releases though PRWire, manage your blog posts, and set up AdWords. When you've decided on all the information you'd like, Raven can run a report and deliver it to you.

And what if all of these features don't really interest you?

No worries. Like all of the other tools mentioned so far, Raven can schedule updates for social media accounts; however, it is presently limited only to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

The downside to Raven is that it costs money from the get-go--$99 a month for the Pro package. So if you're looking for something powerful and all-encompassing, Raven's well worth the money. But if you need something simple, you would probably be better off looking elsewhere.

You can find more information on RavenTools here: http://www.raventools.com/

4. Social Oomph

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With Social Oomph, you can manage unlimited Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Plurk, and App.net accounts from one dashboard. Social Oomph probably has some of the most in-depth features of any social media management system. For example, if you sign up for a free account, you can tweet up to 12 times in 60 minutes, but if you pay for the “Pro” package, you'll be able to tweet as often as you like. You can also set up your Twitter account to auto-curate people you follow into your lists, find friends based on keywords, and deny spambot follow requests. You can save and reuse drafts of all your social media posts (not just Twitter)—so if you have something you'd like to post about on a regular basis, Social Oomph has you covered.

You can many get bonus features by signing up for the “Professional” package, with a number of billing options to choose from. You can also purchase certain upgrades for only Twitter if you need more tweeting versatility, but are fine with the free options already provided for Facebook, LinkedIn, Plurk, and App.net.

We can't list everything Social Oomph does here, so check out their site and take a look for yourself: https://www.socialoomph.com/

5. Tweepi

tweepi

Tweepi does many of the things Social Oomph does, but it's used purely for Twitter accounts. One of the handiest features that Tweepi offers its subscribers is the follow en-masse option, as well as the “date unfollowed” feature. For example, you can search for people to follow by keyword, and Tweepi will bring up a list of people you might be interested in. If you like, you can select everyone on the page and follow them simultaneously. You can also unfollow them simultaneously if you need to. Tweepi diligently tracks when you've followed and unfollowed Twitter users so that you don't accidentally ditch someone or re-follow someone you've unfollowed in the past. This is particularly handy when you see that you've followed someone a month ago and they're still not following you back. Time to unfollow that user!

Tweepi also allows you to look at other Twitter users' lists and follow the users on that list. Or you can check out who follows one of your idols and grab those accounts. You can also purge people who haven't tweeted in a long time. You can even view a list of people who are following you, but you aren't following back.

All of this is available with the “Pro” account for $14.99 a month, or you can use the basic package for free. You will have limited options with the basic account, though, and to be honest, it's not really worth using for free when you compare it to something like Social Oomph. You also can't schedule updates—Tweepi is solely for finding and purging people from your account. But don't underestimate its power in that regard: it is very helpful if you want to grow your following quickly.

You can find out more about Tweepi's features here: http://tweepi.com/

6. If This, Then That

 

iftt

If This, Then That is far too versatile to cover in such a short section, but we'll do our best to show you how exciting it can be. And once you start using it, you'll wish you had known about it sooner.

The idea behind this app is that you can set up one event to trigger another. For example, every time you post a picture to Instagram, you could have the photo automatically sent to your Dropbox account for a family member to download later. You could set up your phone to send you a weather report once you've entered a specific location. You can even send yourself wake-up calls.

For social media management, you can cross-post to multiple social media platforms at once. Or you could even combine ITTT with BufferApp and feed your RSS through Buffer to make sur that you tweet without spamming. There are so many things you can do... and it's all free.

The downside to ITTT is that it's not meant to queue up multiple social media updates. This is meant to help organize your daily tasks and simplify your life—something a small business owner can surely appreciate.

Find out more about all of the cool recipes you can make here: https://iftt.com/

7. Dlvr.it

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Dlvr.it is similar to IFTT in that you can set up “recipes” for one event to trigger another. For example, you can set up your RSS feed to go automatically to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more. You can also manually schedule posts if you'd prefer to do it from Dlvr.it's dashboard. It's a way to syndicate your content in a number of areas with very little effort.

Dlvr.it is not really meant to schedule updates. Again, it's meant to simplify and organize your life. All you have to do is plug in your RSS feed and your new stories will pop out on a variety of social media platforms. You don't even have to think about it. Plus, you'll get analytics and geographic data to see if your posts are drawing in your audience.

As with all of the other services we've covered in this article, Dlvr.it is more useful when you pay for the “Ultimate” or “Enterprise” plans. Although it's versatile on its own with the “Pro” plan, you'll get faster feed updates with more inputs if you upgrade.

Check out dlvr.it's features here: https://dlvr.it/

There are so many reasons that small business owners should consider automating updates: to save time, to ensure a regular update schedule, and to keep your profiles active. But with this being said, you need to remember that this will never take the place of interacting with your customers. Engagement is an integral part of your social media marketing strategy.

Can you think of any other apps that you like using? Let us know in the comments!

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!

Back to Basics #14: How to Deal with Bad Reviews

thumbs-down-how-to-deal-with-bad-reviews It happens to the best of us: At some point in your small business career, you're going to get a negative review. Even if you try to make every business decision with the customer's needs in mind, and even if you strive to ensure 100% customer satisfaction every day you're open for business, someone will still find something to complain about. From contractors to preschools to salons, no one is immune from the dreaded bad review.

Well, that was a depressing intro. Sorry about that.

So, now that you're feeling deflated and sad, how can we go about making sure that you're a) prepared for the review when it arrives and b) educated with a few basic skills to help you make the best of a bad situation? In this article, we'll talk about how you can best go about addressing a bad review. Of course, we'll also mention a few things you should avoid at all costs--because not every review is worth responding to.

Take a cooling-off period.

When you see that bad review, your first reaction is probably going to be anger. A few thoughts will probably be running through your head: “What did I do to deserve this?” “I don't recall anything like this happening.” “Well, this customer is clearly mistaken.” “They're lying.” “I'm just going to ignore them.” And the list goes on.

Well, any or all of the above may be true, but unfortunately, most small businesses lack the means to prove their side of the story. So in this situation, before you sit down and type a response to the reviewer in an attempt to defend yourself, it's best to just back away and think about what the customer has said. The reviews generally fall into two camps: The people who complain for the sake of complaining, and the people who want to offer constructive criticism.

The people who like to go online and vent about things for no real good reason are nearly impossible to appease. Respond to their complaint and they could berate you. Ignore them and they could get angry that you don't respond at all.

On the other hand, there are always going to be reviewers who have a legitimate complaint. Maybe there was a miscommunication, and it was just an accident. Maybe one of your employees was having a bad day and it ended up affecting their work. Either way, it's your job to consider what the reviewer has said before jumping to conclusions

Most importantly, it's vital that you be able to admit that maybe you really did make a mistake, if there was indeed a mistake made.

Then, once you've calmed down and evaluated the situation, you'll be ready to deal with the bad review in a professional manner.

Determine whether a response is needed.

As mentioned above, some cases will call for a response, while others are best left untouched. Situations where you will just want to ignore a response would be:

  • If the reviewer is using inflammatory language or just trying to pick a fight
  • If the reviewer is ranting about something that doesn't have anything to do with your services
  • If someone is leaving repeated reviews in an attempt to flood your page with negative comments

While most companies make every effort to respond to each review, sometimes dealing with the very angry or hostile reviewers can end up making the experience worse. Knowing how to identify these types of reviewers is a great skill for your company to develop.

In other situations, you'll want to respond to your negative review. Doing so requires you to have professional language and a legitimate apology. Don't just make excuses for the mistake. Acknowledge that this person is trying to constructively help you with your business—they're hoping that by leaving their review, you can see where you might be falling short of good customer service. Then you have a chance to win back business or, at the very least, to show customers how much you care.

bad-review-checkbox

Respond in a timely manner.

There are instances in which businesses take too long to respond to a review. This can actually make a company look bad—like they can't be bothered to address the concerns of a customer. It's best to respond within a week of the initial comment, so check the popular review sites regularly and make sure that you're following up with your customers. 

Next, write a draft of your review. If the review was written recently and you've taken the time to cool off before you reply, it's still best to compose a draft. Have a friend or someone you trust read it through and make sure it doesn't come off as passive-aggressive or inflammatory.

Write a real apology if needed.

There have been a number of articles written on flimsy apologies vs legitimate ones. The intricacies of constructing a PR-friendly, yet personalized apology and follow-up promise to improve is beyond the scope of this article. However, the following tips should prove useful: 

  • Don't make excuses. Treat the customer with respect and dignity. Offering an impersonal and lazy excuse like “well the cashier was new” or “it was rainy that day and some people couldn't make it in to work” is not going to cut it.
  • Explicitly state that you are sorry for the inconvenience you have caused. Not the inconvenience you may have caused, or for the customer's feelings. (i.e., “I'm sorry you feel this way” or “I'm sorry if we offended you.” The customer is telling you exactly how they feel. You need to apologize for the mistakes made on your end, not for how the customer feels.)
  • Follow up with something to make it up to the customer. Whether that's a 10% off coupon, a free meal, or a complimentary service from the owner, any sort of offer to fix the problem will be appreciated. An apology needs to be followed up with the intent or promise to improve, or the customer will find it empty or phony.
  • If the customer doesn't accept your apology, move on. Don't argue. It will hurt that they still don't want to visit your business. But you can't please everyone—and arguing or begging will just make you look bad.

Finally...

Don't send your replies in a private message. Post these apologies publicly. People will see that you took the time to respond and it will only reflect well on you!

See more information on how you shouldn't respond to negative comments here: The Wrong Way to Respond to Comments

Encourage more positive reviews. As we discussed in a previous article, it's always a good idea to encourage positive customer reviews. There is a difference between begging for a review or being too aggressive in your requests vs posting a friendly reminder that you need customer reviews to help grow your business. You can offer an incentive for people who participate and generate more good talk about your company! 

Can you think of anything we missed? Let us know in the comments!

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 #13: Why Am I Not Showing Up on Google?

woman-thinking-about-seo It’s a question a lot of small business owners have: Why am I not showing up on Google? You’ve made sure you’re listed on all the major business listings, you’ve optimized your posts and images, and you’re still not seeing your name pop up at the beginning of the results. What gives?

Unfortunately, Google is slow at crawling, indexing, and shifting listings around. And it can be really pokey for newer websites. To make matters worse, once you finally get the hang of things and begin ranking, you can easily be derailed by a change in the algorithm, which means you'll have to find a way to crawl back up to the top of the listings once again. It’s not easy, and it’s definitely not fun.

To illustrate our point, we’ve put together an article that should help explain how everything works. To help you understand our process, we’ll use a “garden” metaphor. Your business is like a garden—you have individual plants, or products, that you want to “grow”. But a garden doesn’t produce the best fruits and blooms overnight. It takes time. So let's take a look at our gardening strategy...

seed packets

Step 1: Plan and Prepare. After you’ve signed up with us, you’ll talk to one of our account specialists to make sure we get the correct information for your listing. Generally speaking, this is a smooth process. However, mistakes are sometimes made, and we encourage our customers look over their account information to ensure accuracy. If something’s off, let us know! We’ll get it changed as soon as possible. This sets the groundwork for your internet marketing campaign, so it’s important that we provide as detailed and accurate information as we can.

Step 2: Select Your Seeds. Once we have all customer-approved information, we can begin discussing keyword choices. Choose some of your own, and our experts will come up with a few as well. Think of your keywords as the seeds for your garden: once selected, we’ll come up with content that will help people find you using the keywords you've selected. For example, if you’re a roofing contractor, you might want to rank for “roofing”. However, this is a highly competitive keyword, and often it’s just too vague. To get more accurate results, most people will search for something more specific. Our experts will help you find more descriptive terms that are much more likely to get you ranking on the first page.

planting-seeds

Step 3: Plant Your Seeds. Now that you have your keywords selected, our experts will write custom content that helps Google and other search engines associate your chosen terms with your business name. We’ll add detailed content descriptions to localize and promote your business. Your site will be submitted across a wide range of directories, so that no matter how or where people search, they can find your business. It’s like nurturing any plant seed—with regular attention and the proper nutrients, it will grow into a healthy plant. The more time spent on optimizing listings and creating custom content for your listings, the better the results will be! Which brings us to…

Step 4: Give it Time. This brings us back to the problem at the beginning of the article. You’ve done everything you can—now why aren’t you ranking? Well, that’s because you need to give your listing time to “grow”. There are a lot of factors that go into ranking, such as how many competitors you have, how well they’re ranking, and the type of service you provide. If you’re a seasonal supplier, you might have more obstacles to overcome during certain times of the year. However, this doesn’t mean that your listing won’t take root—it will probably just take a little longer to begin ranking due to the decreased demand for services. Consistency and accuracy of listings also plays a major role, as do regular updates. Furthermore, it is impossible to begin ranking overnight. Many people are all too anxious to see their business showing up on Google—and rightfully so!—but unfortunately, it takes time no matter how successful your business already is. You can purchase Google ads to increase likelihood of click-throughs and you can definitely place ads on Facebook or other social media sites, but if you want to rank organically (that is, pop up when someone searches for your products or services), you have to give your garden time to grow.

Grandmother with her granddaughter working in the garden

Step 5: Water with Care. At Internet Local Listings, we keep up-to-date with the latest listings and search engine algorithm changes. What does this mean for your company? It means that when we find a new place to submit your listing, we’ll do it for you. When Google makes changes, we make sure we comply. To bring us back to the garden analogy, it’s part of caring for the plants—weed out bad practices and nurture the ones that are known to work. But keep in mind that with every new or changed listing, it can take Google a few days to approve the changes. There’s no need to worry if you notice your listings have changed—everything should be back to normal soon!

Step 6: Keep Up the Maintenance. As long as you’re in business and want to remain on Google’s front page, you’ll have to keep maintaining your listings. As part of our agreement, Internet Local Listings will take care of this for you. If you need to make any changes to your listings, be sure to let us know and we’ll get your information updated ASAP. If you want to change keywords, we’ll be happy to help you with that, too. It’s our job to make sure that you’re 100% satisfied with your listings across the internet, so we encourage you to reach out and contact us with any questions or concerns.

garden-infographic

Want more information on our internet marketing services? Just visit us at InternetLocalListingsInc.com and we'll be happy to assist you in any way we can!

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.

Has your Business Claimed an SEO Business Listing (US)?

local-seo-business-listing-us As we’ve discussed in previous articles, it’s absolutely necessary that your small business is listed consistently, clearly, and correctly across the internet. In order for your customers to find your store (or at least obtain your contact info if you work from a private address), they must be able to find your business listing on every search engine. If some of your customers use a search engine other than Google (and trust us, it’s guaranteed some will), a different local listing will appear by your name. So as you can see, you only make sure your listing is correct on Google, you’re going to run into some problems down the road. In this post, we’ll talk about the “3 C’s” of your local listing: Consistency, Clarity, and Correctness.

Make sure your small business’s SEO business listing is consistent.

Have you changed storefronts? Has your address changed in the last year or so? Did you just lease a new office? If you have, then you’re going to want to make sure that your new address is listed everywhere. You might change the address on one listing, while leaving another listing with the old address. And, unfortunately, if you start confusing the search engines with multiple addresses under the same business, you run the risk of hurting your rankings. This isn’t to say that you can’t have multiple addresses under the same business listing, however: If you run a business with three locations in your local city, you can specify this in your Google Places for Business page and make sure that all of your stores will be found.

So before you post your SEO business listing, make sure that:

  • You’ve gone through the proper channels to make sure that your business has an address listed.
  • That the current addresses are listed across a number of sites.
  • That your address is hidden properly if you need to hide it. Make sure it is hidden across all listings if this is the case!

An SEO Business Listing must be clear and easy to understand.

You’ve probably seen it before: A restaurant has a description on Yelp or Google, trying to entice customers with their eclectic menu and exciting happy hour. But the listing is full of gibberish, words are misspelled, and random nouns are capitalized because… well, who knows why? All of this takes away not only from the professionalism of the company, but from the ease of reading as well. Customers are less likely to visit your establishment if they can’t decipher what you’re trying to tell them. Therefore, you have to ensure that your business listing is clear and concise. Tell your customers that you have a great happy hour, and tell them that you’ve been in business since 1983 and have the best burgers in town—but you don’t need to list your whole menu and ramble on about every little detail of the atmosphere. Let your customers become interested through your description and find out for themselves how great you are when they visit.

Before you let your listing go live, be sure to do the following:

  • Check to see if your listing is too long. You might be interested in sharing every detail of your business, but your customers just want pertinent information.
  • Make sure you’re clear in your listing: Is everything spelled correctly? Have you clearly stated where your establishment is and what it provides for its customers or clients?
  • List all the information you’d want to see when you search for a service. Hours of operation, address, phone number, website, email, and a few sentences about how wonderful you are should all suffice.

Above all, make sure your SEO business listing is correct.

You can have your address listed across all major directories and listings, and you can write the best description in the world for your company—but if you have incorrect some information hidden in there, it’s all for naught. And, even worse, fixing an error of this magnitude is a pain. Before you press “submit” on any of your listing forms, make sure that you list all your most important information correctly. A great tip is to make a list before you start. What do you think is most important for your customers to know? Make sure to include it on you listing. If something can’t actually be listed, make sure that you provide a phone number or another way of contacting you so that customers can still get a hold of you if they have questions.

Before you press submit on your business SEO listing, make sure:

  • You’ve made a list of all the information you want to include for your business.
  • You’ve spelled everything correctly and included your most recent company info.
  • You've filled out complete information and no partial addresses, phone numbers, or business hours!

With these tips, you should be able to create well-rounded, effective, and helpful SEO business listings. Your customers want and need accurate information—and as a small business owner, it’s your job to make sure they get it. Your accurate listings will also make sure that your site (or at least your Google Places for Business page, if you don’t have a website) ranks higher in searches. You can’t go wrong with these strategies!

As always, if you’re simply too busy to manage writing content, listing your sites across the internet, or updating your website/Google Places for Business page, you can ask Internet Local Listings for assistance. We have over 50 years of combined experience in the SEO industry and would be happy to help you with whatever services you need. From social media marketing to building you a custom website, we have the skills and expertise necessary to get your small business site visible on the internet. Call or fill out a contact form today for more information on your services—or feel free to start building your own SEO business listing using these tips! Be sure to subscribe for more updates.

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Back to Basics #11: 5 Small Business Marketing Ideas Anyone Can Do

small business marketing ideas Small business marketing is a tricky thing to get the hang of: Small business owners often struggle knowing when or how often to post updates on social media; what to post about or how to gather content ideas; or even when to start blogging or how to connect with potential readers. It can be overwhelming, to be sure, especially when you are strapped for time and have a limited budget. So in this article, we’re going to talk a bit about a few small business marketing ideas that anyone can do easily and cheaply—whether you’re completely new to online advertising or you’ve been trying your hand at it for a while and just aren’t seeing the results that you want.

  1. Develop a PR Strategy. As this article from Entrepreneur suggests, it’s important for all companies, particularly small businesses, to make sure that they have a PR strategy in place. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to have a large budget or spend a ton of time on it—in fact, small businesses can implement great PR campaigns into their social media strategies. Take the Kleenex example cited in the article: In 2011, Kleenex searched Facebook to find fifty people who posted about being sick. After getting into contact with friends and family members, they sent care packages to the ailing cold-sufferers. The recipients were so pleased that they posted happy pictures of their care packages. Great PR and usage of social media in one shot—and a very cheap maneuver.
  2. Start a podcast. Have you ever subscribed to a podcast? They’re great to listen to on the commute to work or in the morning while getting ready to head out for the day. And they’re also easy to make! As Inc.com suggests, you might want to try interviewing other business owners for their point of view on marketing or advertising. Or maybe you’d like to put together a podcast series of how-to’s—for example, plumbers or electrical contractors do very well with these types of podcasts. You can teach people how to do things they want to learn more about, while still drawing attention to your company. It’s a win-win situation!
  3. Forget advertising like the big brand names. While it’s perfectly fine to draw inspiration from popular advertising campaigns, you have to remember who the big companies are marketing to. They can reach far more people than you are able to, and they have the budget to pull it off. Don’t waste your time trying to dissect everything a large company does---instead, focus on how you can connect with your local customers in the best way possible. You could try hosting a photo captioning contest on Facebook where the winner gets a coupon. You could try running a “special offer” for a day if one of your tweets gets 50 retweets. Maybe sending out a postcard to your loyal customers is a good idea. Think about these types of marketing techniques and choose one that works for you.
  4. Networking with other small business owners. Nowadays, you can easily network online through sites such as LinkedIn. But nothing will ever replace the face-to-face value of networking in person. To meet other people in your industry, attend local seminars. Offer to speak at colleges or other events. If there are conventions in your area, look into speaking on a panel—or if not speaking, attend and ask questions. You could even try going to a book club or submit a press release to your local newspaper. By connecting with other small business owners, you’ll be able to better navigate the local scene and make yourself a go-to brand name in the town.
  5. Claim your online listings. Believe it or not, your business could already be listed on places like Google and Bing. The problem is that you haven’t claimed the listings yet. By claiming your own listings, you let your customers know that you exist, and you provide consistent information so that no matter which search engine they use to find you, your information will always be correct. Furthermore, claiming listings helps with online rankings, and once you are listed consistently across the internet, you’ll see more traffic being driven to your site!

Want more information on small business marketing ideas? Subscribe to our posts via email, or you can also like us on Facebook, follow Follow @InternetListing on Twitter and Pinterest, and circle us on Google Plus! Let us know how Internet Local Listings can best assist you with your small business marketing needs!

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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!

Resources:

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!

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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:

 

Back to Basics #9: Local Listings for Small Businesses with no Physical Address

google-places-for-small-business

google-places-for-small-business In Back to Basics #6, we covered the importance of small businesses being listed across local directories such as Yellow Pages, eLocal, Brownbook, Manta, White Spark, and others. This process is easiest to do for those businesses that have a brick-and-mortar store: A boutique, hair salon, supply store, or car repair shop, for example. But what if you’re a contractor working from your home or you provide virtual shopping services? You don’t want to list your home address because you live there and want to keep that information private—so will you still be able to list your business effectively so that your customers can find you?

Listing your business without an address: Not as difficult as you think.

The great news is that it’s perfectly acceptable to Google to list your small business without an address. Now, this isn’t to say everyone should do this—first, think of your industry. If you have a store, you will want to make sure that your customers can find you; in this case, it's a pretty straight-forward decision--leave your address visible. If you are a mobile notary or car washing service and you have a small office but you also serve your clients away from the office, you may choose to indicate that as well. If you work from your own home, it’s understandable why you would want to keep that information private. So as you can see, it all depends on what you deem to be the best for your particular set of services.

Once you’ve made your decision to keep your small business’s address hidden from Google, the next step is filling out your listing. In the next part of this post, we’ll discuss filling out your Google Places information.

Filling out your Google Places Page information

local-listings-for-businesses-with-no-physical-address

As you can see, when you set up your Google Places page, you have the option to check a little box that says you deliver services to an address. This would be the choice that you would want to make if you wanted to hide your address. If you also serve people from an office, you can select the “I also serve customers at my business address” box to show that you do both.

You can find all of this information on your Google Places page when you edit your address. It can easily be changed whenever you choose—so if you make a mistake or want to come back later and change things, it’s simple to do.

Hiding your address on other local directories

As we discussed, Google isn’t the only place you’re going to want to list your business. Other places such as SuperPages, HotFrog, Localeze, and eLocal will also have options to hide your address. When you claim your business listing, you can opt to leave off your address to ensure you keep your private information private. You may have to do some more searching on these sites—it’s not always apparent right away where these options are.

Now, in the past, there has been some debate as to whether Google will penalize any business that hides their business. Some articles claim businesses that provide services such as plumbing MUST hide addresses or risk disappearing from search results; others claim that every home-based business must keep their address visible or risk disappearing from search results. But these are now old articles, and this system has been in place long enough that it doesn’t seem to be much of an issue anymore.

The important point to remember here is that some business owners need to hide their information for safety or privacy reasons. This should not interfere with your rankings, and it is certainly not intended to be a way to punish small business owners who want to keep their information private. It’s there to protect you—so if you want to keep that information hidden, do not be concerned about it affecting rankings.

Getting assistance with local listings for small businesses

Whether you do or don’t want to hide your business’s address, Internet Local Listings can help you ensure you’re making the most of your listings. We ensure all data is optimized for your industry and listed correctly across all the most popular directories. If you have concerns about privacy, we’d be happy to work with you. After all, everyone should be able to rank on the first page if they work hard enough for it—whether or not they have a physical address to list. Give us a call at (888) 770-3950 or fill out our contact form today to get more information on our services. Let us know what we can do for you!

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.

making-a-list-of-blog-topics

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!