Part 1A | Part 1B | Part 2A | Part 2B | Part 3A | Part 3B
So here we are, the end of the road for our Small Business Marketing Infographics – Do You Know series. Part 3B of 3 parts. We hope you've learned something of value along the way.
Presumably, you just took the FreeGrader test. If you haven't you can head on over to FreeGrader right now and get your score. The test looks at more than just where you are in Google, but across the web as well. It analyzes your overall small business marketing footprint, if you will.
As shown on the infographic above, what we're looking for is a score of 85-90. A score that high (or higher) is fantastic, and represents a very sold web presence in which there is a high probability of being found in local web search. But if you didn't score that high, there's reason for concern – the lower the score, the greater the concern!
NOTE: the FreeGrader test is really only a loose, rule-of-thumb assessment of your overall web presence. A much more comprehensive online “audit” is usually recommended.
In any event, we think the data we've provided, combined with the tests you've done for yourself, should have done two things for you: 1) convince you (if you needed it) that having a strong web presence is critically important today, and only becoming more so, and 2) that there is no avoiding it if you want to be relevant to your local marketplace (and even in business at all).
So, there are basically two ways to go about fixing a less-than-stellar score from FreeGrader. And if you “flunked” the prior tests (GetListed and Google) too, you've really got a lot of work ahead of you.
1) You can attempt DIY (Do It Yourself).
As discussed in my article series The Small Business Marketing Catch-22, this is a daunting task, but it's not impossible – just improbable. Most small business owners, entrepreneurs and managers simply don't have the time.
The reality is that if you're not an SEO/social media expert, odds are you're going to have to become one. Why? Because you have to know what to do, even if you're only directing the efforts of others (like the college kid you thought could run your social media efforts).
You may “save some money” over the cost of hiring a professional, except that in place of money, you'll be burning time. Lots of it. And in so doing, you'll be taking yourself away from the things you are really good at (and presumably like to do), only to embark on a very, very steep learning curve that comes complete with an ever-changing, highly confusing curriculum.
2) You can hire an expert.
No matter how you do it, what's entailed is nothing less than building out a web presence into all the right channels, in the right sequence and using the right techniques, to get the fastest results possible – all without upsetting Google!
See, Google likes it when sites grow organically. In fact, it will give maximum love to sites it really likes. Conversely, Google hates it when people try to game the system and “cheat” their way to success online.
Do even the right things in the wrong sequence – or too fast – and you can jeopardize everything you're working so hard to build. Playing in the sandbox was a fun thing as a child, but being in Google's sandbox is not a good thing.
Now the definition of “cheating” online is a gray one, because one man's perfectly acceptable, if aggressive, web marketing campaign may be another's shameless efforts to buy success. Ironically, Google loves it when you “buy success” – so long as it's the Adwords advertising platform you're buying it with. Otherwise, not so much.
The objective of an effective small business marketing strategy online is to create the kind of web presence that causes a significant portion of all those web searches, calls, leads and visits to come to you. It can be done with “free” methods, or paid ones (the aforementioned Adwords, as well as Facebook ads and other ad networks) or a combination of the two.
The old expression “all roads lead to Rome” is an apt one in this circumstance. In fact, in many marketplaces today, it's entirely possible to utterly and completely dominate it. You wouldn't necessarily know that such a thing was possible just by looking at Google search results. Somehow, all the slots are always filled, right? But just because they are filled, doesn't mean the competition knows what it's doing.
The fact is, very few folks in the local marketplace know what they're doing online these days. While it's entirely possible to have a decent web presence entirely “by accident” in small markets, we do not recommend total apathy and/or ignorance as an effective small business marketing strategy!
What we do recommend is that you take your online marketing and web presence very seriously. Doing it right means having all the leads, business and sales you could ask for – even to the point of “owning” your local market. But not doing it right is fraught with peril. Not only will you be losing out on business you could and should have, with every day you wait you're making the competition stronger and your future chance to “get in the game” harder and harder.
We recommend kicking your small business marketing into high gear with all speed, and we're here to help if you think you need it.