Most small businesses owners that are actually smart enough* to know they need to be online and have a strong web presence don't have the first clue as to what to do or how to do it. This is not surprising, as the average financial consultant, doctor, mechanic or pizza shop owner did not go to school for local web marketing. After all, there was no such thing more than fifteen years ago, and it's only in the last five or so that it's become not just important, but – in my view – imperative.
*We live in a world where approximately 50% of small businesses don't have a website… much less a mobile-optimized website… much less understand the value of a strong web presence.
Heck, it's been my general experience that most small business owners don't know much about marketing, period – much less web marketing and the intricacies of navigating a constantly changing and radically evolving online environment. Which is an actual shame, as a little bit of local SEO optimization knowledge would go a long way towards helping most struggling small businesses.
And we can help. A lot. As in… putting your business front and center in the search results. Even, as hard as it may be to believe, into multiple slots on page one of the Google search results, as shown in the video below. But I digress…
The way the web works now for small and local businesses is this:
1) The vast majority of searches on the local scene are by folks looking to shop locally. See my first infographic series for more on these small business marketing statistics.
2) Despite the impact of social, most people still go to Google first. This means you need to be on page one for the search terms that are relevant to your business. You need to have not just a properly built and implemented site, but a fully fleshed out Google Places profile as well.
3) Even though people don't shop by social media directly (Facebook Stores were a massive flop, for instance), the fact is that social activity and proof have a huge impact on how Google ranks your site and other web properties. The more Likes, Shares, Favs, bookmarks, mentions, etc. that your web properties have, the better. Social signals tell Google that your site is relevant and important, and rewards you accordingly.
4) Believe it or not, when you've done it right, you can have more than one of your web properties showing up on page one for your search term(s). You can have your Google Places profile ranking on Places/Maps. You can have your website ranking, too. You can even have a video or videos ranking as well. It's entirely possible to have multiple page one listings! This means you dramatically increase your chances of getting the click, while reducing those of your competitor.
5) When you are big on page one, you'll get all the leads, calls and sales you want!
So, social media and marketing have a huge impact on everything else online now. If you're not doing smart social marketing, you're actually hurting your website, your Google Places page (if you have one, and you should), and everything else you're doing online. You need social signals these days the way you once needed backlinks not too long ago (though you still need backlinks, too).
Now, to some facts regarding this subject:
52% of small businesses active in social media stated that it created higher brand awareness. That's really, really good, but it could be a much better. From what I have seen, this is from a group that includes many who literally have not systematized their social media marketing efforts whatsoever. They're flying by the seat of their pants, in other words, and making it up as they go. Imagine how much better YOU could do with some expert help.
61% of businesses found that social media marketing brought them new business and repeat customers. That's impressive. But again, for those that are following best practices, my belief is that the number is closer to 99%. We've yet to see social media fail where it's done the right way.
NOTE: If you haven't set up your Google Places page yet, you should do it now. Click the link. Google Places is 100% free to use, and far, far more powerful than any Yellow Pages ad you ever bought – assuming you're on page one. In fact, you can think of it as the “Google phonebook” or online yellow pages in a way. Claim it, fill it with relevant info (products and services, specialities, discount offers, business hours, etc.), pictures and videos. If you need help, contact us. We'd be glad to help.
In our three part infographic series, The Small Business Marketing Did You Know series, we described three free fast ‘n' easy tests you can do to get your small business marketing/web marketing “graded” and see if it's working. In our experience, most business owners are shocked by what they find out. Certainly, those that aren't doing anything proactive at all (which describes most small businesses, unfortunately) can't expect much.
In fact, in the first of these – the Google Test, explained in the video – if you're “making the grade” in the least, it's really quite remarkable. Odds are, if you are in a competitive market at all, your result will be a complete and utter FAIL. But if you are showing up on page one of the relevant results, it's more by accident – as we say in the video – than by design.
In the Small Business Marketing Google Test video (above), we go into much more detail than was possible with an infographic alone. The “ground truth” of small business and web marketing is explained, as well as the specifics and importance of Google Places/Google Maps, and all the latest metrics small business owners must know to understand the importance of the web to small and local businesses in the new millennium.
All modesty aside (ahem), this one video can probably tell you far more about your basic web presence and what Google thinks of it than you have have ever known before! You might also want to check out the articles which accompany the actual info graphics. There's more great small business marketing information there, too.
Your goal with your small business and web marketing should be show up on the first page of the relevant search results – in Google, of course, but hopefully in other search engines as well. Preferably, in the top three positions. That's where 70% of all the clicks go!
When you have a good web presence, business just naturally flows to you. But the first step is to see where you're at – with the Google Test! Once you've done that, you can get a better handle on what needs to be done.
We hope you enjoy and learn from the video. If you've got questions or concerns, please contact the Web Genius!
In the prior post of the Small Business Marketing Infographic series, the “front” to the “back” shown here, we posed the question as to whether the 86% of web surfers who are searching online for local businesses to patronize can find you and your business. But it's more than a rhetorical question, because it can be answered with empirical data. In fact, you can (and should) see the data first hand, and evaluate it yourself.
When you take the Google Test, you will very quickly see whether your web presence is making the grade or not. First, you'll see if you're showing up on page one at all. You'd be surprised (or maybe not) how many small business owners don't even know if they do or not. Of course, the ones that do show up on page on are usually quite aware of it, because it normally translates into a lot of calls and business!
If you're showing up, let's hope you're in the top 3 slots. Those get 70% of all the clicks. Further, if Google Places/Maps is present, are you showing up there, as well? Google has done an excellent job of “training” the public with their products, and many never look down the page past the map itself. They look for the nearest establishment and click the digital pushpin for more information.
No matter what ways consumers make use of the Google listings, the fact remains that if you aren't showing up for the keywords people are searching for, you're in big trouble. Period. End of story.
No matter where you are on the Google listing, and whether you show up on Google Places/Maps or not, your positioning is not written in stone. Rest assured that it can very quickly be improved with the right small business marketing strategy.
Now here's something most small business owners don't know. It's kind of an open secret in SEO circles. Here goes: you can “own” more than one slot in Google! Yep, it's true. So, instead of having just one slot on page one for your keyword phrase, you can have three, or five, or even more!
Think about the implications of that for a moment.
See, if you do it right, you can have more than just your website showing up on page one. You can have secondary sites, videos and even local directory listings appearing there as well. And what do you think that does for? Yep… more clicks! Lots more.
Better still, when you grab multiple slots, you're actually denying the competition the opportunity get all that new and repeat business via Google.
Now it's true that not every market is conducive to multiple listings on page one. In a few, the competition is already too fierce, and you're “lucky” to get a single entry (luck having nothing to do with it, actually). But in many markets all over the USA and beyond, the Google listings are wide open to serious businesses that take the initiative.
Total online marketplace domination is not just possible, it's very, very achievable – if you know what you're doing and you have the time and resources necessary to make it happen. It won't happen overnight. But you'd be surprised how fast it can happen, too.
There's a flip side, of course. By the same token that you can dominate your local marketplace, your competition can do the same.
But whether we're talking a single listing (preferably at the top) or multiple ones, your business simply must be on page one or you might as well forget about getting any action from Google. Most people never go beyond page one, and most pick from the top few results.
And not to trouble you further, but the fact is that the longer you wait, the worse it gets. Those who achieve success in their local marketplace online are thereby positioned to benefit for years and years to come. Those who wait until it's too late will rue the day when they “coulda, shoulda, woulda.” Don't let that be you.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF PART 2: In the first part of this series, the dilemma facing the most small business owners – in relation to their web marketing – was made clear. Some continue to make use of traditional media – at least to some degree – while others rely on world of mouth and having a business in the right location. But in the age of the internet, social media and mobile marketing, this is no longer sufficient for those that wish to be prominent in their local marketplace, or which wish to grow consistently and rapidly. Effective small business marketing techniques have changed dramatically in recent years. Unfortunately, the environment grows only more complicated and confusing with every passing day – yet harried business owners and entrepreneurs have less time and attention for keeping up, much less “doing their marketing.” This is a terrible Catch-22 for most businesses… but not the only one.
Today, it’s all about the web. Tomorrow (and I don’t mean a distant tomorrow, either) it’s about mobile. Let’s deal with “today’s” Catch-22, before dealing with tomorrow’s.
Ever since the rise of the internet, the ground has been shifting beneath the feet of the vast majority of small business owners, and most are only vaguely aware of it – despite the accompanying upheavals! Case in point: according to research, about 50% of small businesses don’t have a website at all, or have one which is out of date, busted or hasn’t been touched in years.
In the year 2013!
Do you find this shocking? You should. And it's a shame. Because the web can be a small business' best friend. And it's a cheap date, too! So if it's your business (and website) that fall into the above category, then I humbly submit that you need to make some changes – right quick!
Small businesses need to appear on page one of Google (which still gets 70%+ of all search traffic) for the keywords people are searching for. This is done through a combination of great onsite content and proper offsite promotion and linking. Proper SEO (search engine optimization), in other words. If Google Places/Maps are present in the search results (which is not always the case), businesses need to be showing up there, too.
Why? Most web surfers never go past page one, and about 70% of the clicks go to the top three listings. If the Google Places/Google Maps boxes are present, many consumers never look beyond them – which is exactly what Google intends. That's great for you, of course, if you're “on the map” – and not so great if you're not!
NOTE: The Small Business Marketing Infographic Series posted on this site has three free tests you can take to evaluate your web presence and assess just how well your online marketing is doing. Or not, as the case may be. We recommend you check it out!
Whereas the Yellow Pages can print as many pages as is needed for a section, there are only a very limited number of slots on page one of any particular category. The good news is that in many markets, page one is wide open and ripe for the taking. The bad news is that this will not obtain forever, and permanent victory will most likely go to those who “seize the high ground” now.
Wait a while, and it will be really, really hard to break into page one. Wait long enough, and it will be nigh-on to impossible!
So even as small business owners struggle to adapt to the critical need for a strong basic web presence in order to “rank” on page one – using their site, Google Places/Maps, various listing directories, articles/blog posts and videos and SEO (search engine optimization) – it’s not nearly enough anymore, either.
Email remains one of the most effective and powerful means of reaching prospects and customers. There are so many ways to monetize email lists, it's actually astonishing. Serious internet marketers have been doing this for years. But most small businesses do not collect email addresses from site visitors or customers or build a list at all. This represents not only lost traffic, potential and revenue, but a missed opportunity for long-term relationship building as well.
The advent of social media – Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google Plus One, etc. – has entirely changed the small business marketing game. Again. It’s no longer sufficient to have just a website and call it a day (not that it really ever was). Google is now looking at social activity (“social proof” in the trade) as a prime indicator of the value of your site and other web properties.