Google+ Local Marketing Blueprint

Google+ Local Marketing Blueprint

google-local-blueprint

When I created this local marketing blueprint about  2 years ago, my plan was to only show it to clients that I give proposals to in order to seal the deal. It’s gone through a few adjustments since the merge of Google Places and Google+ Local back in 2012 and I’ve decided to finally share it.  This is the blueprint that I follow for every local marketing campaign that I do. If you follow the steps of this blueprint, you will be on your way to dominating your local market. And of course I left out a few of the secret sauces that will remain undiscovered. I like to keep my sauces in-house :-). But this is a blueprint that anyone can follow and achieve good results with a low competitive market.

Google+ Local Marketing Blueprint

10 Components To Google+ Local Optimization

1) Keyword Research
2) Competitive Analysis
3) Picture Promotion
4) Coupon Promotion
5) Video Promotion
6) Local Directory Promotion
7) Review Promotion
8) Social Media Promotion
9) On-Page Website Optimization
10) Off-Page Optimization

Google+ Local Optimization Strategy

keyword-research-and-analysis
1) Keyword Research

– Research National Keywords
– Research Most Searched Keywords
– Research Local City Keywords
– Research Nearby Towns/Suburbs/Cities

2) Competitive Analysis

– Research Competitor Categories
– Research Competitor Review Sources
– Research Competitor Citation Count/Sources
– Research Competitor # Of Videos, Images, Backlinks, etc.

picture-optimization
3) Picture Promotion

– Upload 10 Images To Panoramio & Geo-tag Images
– Optimize Description & Insert link That Points To Your Website
– Use Optimized Pictures From Panoramio On Category Landing Pages On Website

coupon-optimization
4) Coupon Promotion

– Create 2-4 Offers/Discounts
– Optimize Offers With Keywords
– Promote Offers On Website & Through Social Media

video-optimization
5) Video Promotion

– Create 5 Marketing Videos & Submit To YouTube
– Optimize Videos Based On 5 Categories Chosen
– Add 5 Videos To Google+ Listing & Add To Category Landing Pages On Website

directory-optimization
6) Local Directory Promotion

– Submit/Claim Local Directories (Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, YP, City Search, etc)
– Add Relevant Content (Description, Pictures, Videos, etc.)
– Make Sure Info Matches Google+ Local Listing Exactly (Business Name, Address & Phone)

review-marketing
7) Review Promotion

– Encourage Customers To Leave Reviews
– Create A System To Encourage More Positive Reviews
– Syndicate Reviews From Around The Web With Facebook, Website & Mobile Website

social-media-marketing
8) Social Media Promotion

– Run Viral Promotions (Quizzes, Contests, Sweepstakes, etc.)
– Keep Fans & Followers Engaged On A Regular Basis With Good Content
– Create Content That Generate Likes, Re-tweets & Google+1’s

onpage-optimization
9) On-Page Website Optimization

– Optimize Meta Data On Each Page (Title, Description & Keywords)
– Optimize Page Content With Category Keywords
– Create 5 Category Landing Pages (1 For Each Category Chosen)

offpage-optimization
10) Off-Page Optimization (Backlinks)

– Create Backlinks From Multiple Sources (Social Media, Articles, Press Releases, RSS Feeds, Social Bookmarking, Web 2.0, etc.)

Ok…if you’ve read down this far this must have been of some interest to you. So since you read this far I’ll give away some more secret sauce. Below are some presentation slides that I put together for the Google+ Local Marketing Blueprint. I did this presentation for a company I worked for 2 years ago. The slides will go in great detail about how the blueprint works and how it should look when everything is put together. The last slide may confuse some but if you follow very closely you will catch on. I may record the presentation soon and upload it to reveal the entire thing.

Google+ Local & Category Landing Page Integration With Website
google-local

Photo Optimization & Integration With Panoramio
panoramio

Video Optimization & Integration With YouTube
youtube

Full Integration With Everything Working Together
full blueprint

Now this…is how you dominate your local market. Ok that’s enough of my sauce for now. I’m getting low. Maybe more at a later time? Stay tuned…

100 Ways to Market Your Online Business For Free

100 Ways to Market Your Online Business For Free

Marketing effectively isn’t all about the size of your budget; it’s about your audience. Even though you may be faced with a shoestring (or even a nonexistent) budget, one thing you do have is time. You most certainly can market your business on a shoestring, as long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort. Let’s jump right into it.

1) Understand Your Audience

Regardless of your budget, understanding your audience is at the core of being able to market your business so that you attract the right audience.

2) Blog, Blog, Blog

Your blog is the base from which all action should take place. It doesn’t matter whether or not you pay for your blog; everything you do should be on your blog before you post it anywhere else.

1-facebook-page-create3) Facebook Pages Are a Must

Sign up for a Facebook Page for your business, then announce every new blog post, every new bit of information on that page, always linking back to your blog in the process.

4) Set up a Pinterest Account

Pinterest is hot right now. If you can find a way to incorporate pictures for each new blog post, you can promote yourself on Pinterest.

5) Set Up a Well-Made Linkedin.com Profile

Set up your profile and fill it out completely. Seek to improve it at all times, cross-pollinate information from your blog to Linkedin.com. Ask people to recommend you and endorse you. Do the same for others.

6) Use Twitter.com Often

Twitter is a social network in which you can post short 140 character updates often, throughout the day, without irritating others like you might by doing the same thing on Facebook. Use it often to remind people about your blog.

7) Join Yahoo Groups

There are literally thousands of Yahoo Groups that you can join. Join groups that are comprised of your ideal audience members.

8) Use Craigslist to Post Ads

Using a verified email account you can post ads for your business. Choose the right category for your business. Posting between 4pm and 9pm is the best, according to Craigslist.

9) Make Smart Forum Comments

Find forums where your audience participates and make smart comments that show your knowledge about the topic, letting your signature line speak for itself.

10) Use Local Media to Get the Word Out

Most of the time local media can’t find enough stories. Be a story – send them a press release about your business and they’ll be glad to cover a local success story.

11) Utilize Free Directory Listings

There are directories all over the Internet; use them to list your products and services.

12) Use Your Website

Your website is already in place, so use it to its full potential by ensuring that it properly represents your business in full.

13) Become the Expert

People like listening to experts, so become the go-to expert in your niche. Before you know it more people will come to you and ask you more questions, which you can use for more blog posts, and to create new products.

14) Get Involved in Your Community

It will cost you time, and perhaps gas money, but the more involved you are with your local community, the more business you’ll get.

15) Write Guest Blog Post

Find niche sites that speak to your audience and offer to write original blog posts for them on a regular basis. All you need in return is a link to your site in your bio.

16) Publish a Kindle Book

Kindle makes it simple to publish, compile and edit your old blog posts into an eBook for your audience. Give it away free or sell it for 99 cents.

17) Ask Colleagues to Review Your Products/Services/Books

When you produce something new, always ask others to review it for you on their blogs and websites.

18) Have a Contest

Use your blog, social media, and/or Youtube.com to promote a contest with the prize being free product. Get people to vote on the winner, which will encourage sharing among the participants.

19) Give Away Free Reports

“Free” can be worth a lot these days. Create a great report – such as an overview of your niche – and give it away in exchange for email list sign-up.

20 ) Add Social Sharing to Your Website/Blog/Newsletter

Make it simple for other people to share your website, blog, or newsletter by adding social share buttons.

21) Do a Regular Q&A on Your Blog

Utilizing emails, questions found on forums, and other sources, create a weekly Q&A blog post. You can take just one question at a time and make an entire blog post built around it.

22) Repurpose Content into Video

Make your Q&A posts into a video, or make any past “how to” blog post into video. Sometimes people like to see things in other forms.

3-google-hangouts23) Host a Google+ Hangout On-air

Do your Q&A on Google+ Hangout On Air. Doing a live event can be scary, but it can also be a great way to get new connections.

24) Answer Questions on Google+

Search for and answer questions within your niche by people on Google+.

25) Answer Questions on Facebook

When someone asks a question you can answer on Facebook.

26) Answer Questions on Twitter

A lot of people will pose short questions on Twitter – be ready to answer them either in public or directly.

27) Use Quora to Build Your Business

Quora is a free service where you choose at least five topics and then contribute to questions and answers that are relevant to the topic.

28) Join Relevant Forums

Search for forums about your niche and join those where your audience participates. Then become the resident expert.

29) Join Groups on Linkedin.com

Find groups of both your audience and direct competitors and join them on Linkedin.com. Do not self-promote, but be free and open with your answers and questions.

4-linkedin30) Create Your Own Groups on Linkedin.com

Linkedin.com allows you to create your own groups, so create one in which you can pose and answer the questions you want to, as well as use to promote your blog.

31) Create Your Own Facebook Groups

On Facebook you can create many types of groups, both private and public. Create both so that you can converse with your audience and colleagues.

32) Join Groups on Facebook

Find groups on Facebook that are both networking and marketing worthy. Join them, and participate actively.

33) Upload Videos to Youtube.com

Create videos and put them on Youtube.com, and also embed them into your website.

34) Spotlight Gurus in Your Niche

Create blog posts that spotlight gurus within your niche. When you mention someone, link to them as well. You might even end up with a comment from them, too.

35) Curate Other People’s Content

You don’t have to write all your own blog content, you can curate relevant content from others (as long as you link back to their content in full and only write a blurb about their content).

36) Interview Experts for a Podcast

You can use free services like Skype to record interviews as a podcast. Post them on your site and to iTunes.

37) Transcribe Expert Interviews into an eBook

Repurpose the expert interviews into an eBook. You can make individual eBooks, and then at the end of the year compile them all into a larger volume.

38) Transcribe Expert Interviews into a Blog Post

Likewise, you can transcribe all interviews into blog posts. Some people would rather read than listen. Give your audience options for how they can get your information.

39) Host a Round Table with Experts on Google+ Hangout On Air

Gather up some experts and host a round table on a popular topic. While you’re limited to the participants on the round table, the On Air part is unlimited.

5-skype40) Interview People via Skype One-on-One

Skype is a great way to record an interview both in video format and audio format, then later post that recording Youtube.com, your site, or in some other format.

41) Do a Weekly Expert Roundup on Your Blog

Do you know four or five experts? Ask them to participate in a weekly expert panel where everyone answers the same question.

42) Participate in Weekly Expert Roundups on Other People’s Blogs

Be the expert answering the questions for someone else’s weekly expert panel.

43) Check Your Email for Q&A Inspiration

If you’re stuck for things to say on your blog, look no further than your email for questions from your clients. You can take one question and turn it into a blog post.

44) Create a Survey with SurveyMonkey Post Everywhere

SurveyMonkey has a free version that you can use to do a survey of your audience. Facebook and Linkedin.com are both good places to post your survey.

45) Create Follow Ups about the Survey

Use everything you do as blog fodder. Blog before, during and after any significant event, and include a survey.

46) Respond to all Comments on Your Blog

If someone comments on your blog posts, always comment back.

47) Respond to all Comments on All Social Media Accounts

If someone comments on any social media account on any post, try to comment back as often as you can.

48) Solicit Guest Blog Posts

Create some guidelines for guest blog posts on your own blog, and actively solicit guest posts from experts.

6-speaking49) Offer Your Speaking Services Locally

It can be frightening to speak, but speaking locally can get you written up in the paper, and give you plenty of blogging material.

50) Become a Source to the Press

Whether local or national, becoming a source to the press can get you free media coverage. Check out HARO for more information.

51) Volunteer Yourself & Any Member of your Company as Expert Panelists

Don’t just do everything yourself. If you have a staff, or use contractors, let them also participate in expert panels on your company’s behalf (subject to your supervision, of course).

52) Donate a Large Amount to a Charity Your Audience Cares About

This doesn’t seem free, but add some amount to the price of your products and services so that you can give 10 percent annually to a charity of your choice. Write press releases about it and blog about it.

53) Let Your Audience Vote on the Charity to Donate to

Make it more of a big deal by having your audience vote on which charity will benefit, starting three months before the donation.

54) Submit Press Releases for All Your Newsworthy Activities

If you’re not submitting a press release each month, you’re not doing enough.

55) Organize Local Meetings & Roundtables

Local events can get you some online link love. Everyone who goes to the event will blog about it, and of course you will too. And, there’s that press release you can prepare and submit.

56) Go to Local Meet up Events

Join Meetup.com and find local events to attend. You can become recognized as an expert just by attending and interjecting your knowledge.

7-testimonial57) Offer Testimonials for Vendors or Colleagues

When you post a testimonial, you usually get a nice link back to your site; sometimes you get your picture published too.

58) Ask for Endorsements & Testimonials

Likewise, getting endorsements and testimonials is a good way to boost your business.

59) Create a Free Mobile App

There are some free apps that you can brand for yourself and offer to your audience. It’s a great way to brand your business.

60) Give Loyalty Discounts to Customers

Seeing special offers and sales that available only to new customers can be rough on current customers, so why not offer them loyalty discounts for sticking with you?

61) Respond to Complains Immediately

When someone complains, never ignore it; deal with it immediately in a way that feels like a win for the customer.

62) Use Slideshare.com to Market Your Business

You can open a free Slideshare.com account, which is limited, but provides you with a good start. It’s a great way to share your knowledge.

63) Create a Free How to Webinar or Video

By using Google Hangout or other Webinar Software such as Any Meeting you can teach others how to do something in which you’re an expert.

64) Give Awards for People in Your Industry

As a known expert you can create an award, make a widget, and give out the award yearly to someone who stands out in your industry or niche.

65) Ask for Sponsors for Events

Want to host an event but have no cash? Ask for sponsors. Often if you get sponsors you’ll not only be able to put on an event that’s free for participants, but you’ll also come out with a profit.

66) Publish an e-newsletter

An e-Newsletter is a little different from your basic email list. This is a planned periodic newsletter that you can even sell advertisements in.

67) Offer a Free eCourse on Your Topic

You can do this easily by email using technology you already have such as Aweber.com. Or if you don’t have that yet, you can use Mailchimp.com, which is free up to 500 subscribers.

8-thank-you68) Send Thank You Email for Purchases with an Upsell

Don’t miss out on opportunities to upsell when someone buys something. Your thank you page or thank you email is the perfect place to pitch a discount on another item, or even promote an affiliate product or service.

69) Use Affiliate Marketers

By creating an affiliate program you create an army of marketers who can help your website rank higher on Google Search. Plus, you’ll make more sales.

70) Freely Help Others

Always be ready to help others online and offline. It’ll pay you back in more ways than you can imagine.

71) Use Article Marketing

Article marketing is not dead. You can still find reputable places to post your articles.

72) Build Up Your Google+ Page

Keep filling out and building up your Google+ page. The more your profile is perfected, and the more you perfect anything related to Google, the higher you’re going to rank in their search engine results pages.

73) Set up Webmaster Accounts with Google, Bing & Yahoo

Webmaster accounts are yet another link back to your site. Plus, the information you can learn from each is invaluable for you to boost your page rank.

74) Use SEO on Every Page of Your Site

On page SEO refers to everything you do on every page of your website in order to help search engines find your site and rank it. Don’t overlook the importance of this.

75) Use Off Page SEO

Off page SEO refers to everything you do to promote your website off your site, such as participating in social media, article marketing and so forth.

76) Make Movies or Slideshows of Your Products & Services

Movies and slideshows are a great way to showcase your products & services. People like to see what they’re getting.

77) Attend Networking Events Often

Whether online or offline, networking events can boost your business awareness exponentially.

78) Keep Building Your List of Referrals & Keep in Touch

Don’t just meet someone and not connect. Connect on social media, connect in email and then keep those connections going.

79) Write Personalized Emails to Prospects

When you’ve met a promising prospect, drop them a personal note instead of a canned note. You’ll get a better response.

80) Contribute to Popular Industry Magazines

Industry publications, both online and offline, need contributors. It’ll only take some time to write them, and submit them, but the payoff is well worth it.

9-reporter-note81) Become a Go-To Expert for the Press

Your local press needs people they can call on regularly for quotes. Be that person. Contact them anytime there is a story in your local paper with expert commentary. Before you know it, they’ll call on you.

82) Start a Weekly YouTube Show

Instead of just doing a random Youtube.com video, why not start a regular show. Ensure that it’s part of your niche and set up a regular schedule.

83) Start a Weekly Podcast

Guests or no guests, you probably have something to say about your topic that can be put in a weekly podcast.

84) Put Your URL on Everything

Social media profiles, bios, signature lines, business cards, your URL should be everywhere.

85) Submit Your Site to All Directories

Sure, your site will be picked up eventually, but why not submit it to them manually to hurry up the process.

86) Win Awards

If you find any contests to enter, do so, and then try to win. The more you win, the more you have to blog about, and the more people will see you as an expert.

87) Offer Excellent Customer Service

Remember that the word always gets out. If you provide excellent customer service (even if you make a mistake here and there) you’ll be seen more favorably. Do right by your customers.

88) Form a JV Partnership or Two

A joint venture partnership can expand awareness of your business, and encourage others to want to work with you too.

89) Use Free Services for Mini Sites like Google Sites, Weebly or Wix

If you have no money at all, you can still create a website with one of these services. It’s not recommended for long term, but it can do the job for the time being or for a limited-purpose site.

90) Grab Your Google Business Listing

Whether you have an online business or offline business, your Google Business Listing is important.

91) Grab Your Bing Business Listing

Same thing – the more search engines you’re listed with the better.

92) Grab Your Yelp! Business Listing

You don’t have to have a bricks and mortar business to be listed with Yelp!

93) Get Free Business Cards from Vistaprint.com

While not ideal, due to the Vistaprint ad on the back, this is an excellent way for you to get started marketing your business locally and in person without increasing your budget.

11-word-mouth94) Encourage & Incentivize Word-of-Mouth

Ask friends, relatives, and customers to tell everyone they know about you and what you do. Give discounts or cash to those referrers when you get a paying client. This is a good use of those free business cards.

95) Utilize Your eMail Signature

Every single time you send out an email, it should include a signature that has links to your blog, social media sites, and a nice signature and tag line.

96) Ask Past Clients for Referrals

Past clients are a good source of testimonials and referrals, but they can’t provide these things if you don’t ask.

97) Offer Past Clients a Deal they Can’t Refuse

If you want your past clients to use you again, offer them a hefty discount to come back.

98) Offer Free Consultations

Every new customer should get at least a free 15 minute consultation. It will make them feel as if they can trust you more when they can talk to you.

99) Host a Big Event & Give Away Your Products & Services

Whether on Google+ or via a webinar, hosting a big event and then giving away a huge prize package consisting of your products and services will make waves.

100) Cross-Promote with Complementary Businesses

If you know businesses that already market to your audience, contact them and make a deal to cross-promote each other’s products and services. This works best if you both have affiliate programs.

No matter how much money you make now, utilizing these free online marketing ideas will increase your bottom line. Marketing on a shoestring budget doesn’t mean you’re limited in what you can do. It also doesn’t matter if you do have the money to spend – most the ideas above are still good ideas to keep your marketing budget small and your business booming.

Top 10 Reasons Social Media is Important for Search Engine and Website Traffic

Top 10 Reasons Social Media is Important for Search Engine and Website Traffic

Search engine optimization and ways of driving website traffic have changed dramatically over the last few years.  It used to be all about the algorithms.  Then Google’s all-powerful algorithms were over-ridden by the phenomenon of social search as social media developed, grew and exploded.

Google fought back, creating, scrapping, re-creating and refining its own social media platforms and apps to compete with its major competitor, Facebook.  In fact, the two giants are running neck and neck, miles above every other social network.  Facebook holds # 2 ranking – both at home and globally, according to Alexa.com.

The emphasis Google has been putting on its own social networks should give us the biggest clue why social media is important for search engine and website traffic.

1. Social Media Keeps Up with – and Enables – Trends

What’s the one consistent fact about internet culture, social platforms and technology nowadays?  It’s always in a state of change.  And one fact that is quickly becoming self-evident:  Whichever social network can adapt to the cultural mindset the quickest draws the biggest audience.

1-fish-schoolingHave you ever seen documentaries that show how certain fish not only school together, but move as one fluid entity, shifting this way and that as if they possess one mind?  Well, social networks in today’s cultural climate operate exactly like that.

These networks go with the flow and are not manipulated by algorithms.  In fact, algorithms are being feverishly adapted to keep up with popular online connection practices and habits.

Both social media developers and Google programmers know this.  Changes in algorithmic practices have resulted in a shift away from rigid formulae to the phenomenon we all know by now as “social search”.  If even Google is rushing to follow social platform leads, that’s a powerful message about the importance of social media.

2.  Social Sharing is the New SEO

2-social-examinerWhat makes Google sit up nowadays is the sharing capacity and performance of a site – not backlinks.  In fact, Google now penalizes backlinks from exact anchor text, boosting sites in the ranks if their content is fresh, original, authoritative, comprehensive, spam-free – and above all, shared.

Want to rocket up in search rankings the easy way?  Follow the example of top-ranking sites such as Social Media Examiner here and install the Google+ “+1” button, as well as the “g+” follow icon.

And do install share buttons for the other major players – Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn.

3.  Social Networks are where People Spend Their Time

3-mobile-and-hands

Nowadays thanks to mobile phones, people don’t have to wait until “after work”:  They can quickly check Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter feeds any time, day or night.

In fact, Mashable published an infographic in November, 2012, showing that “social media accounts for 18% of time spent online”.  (But did you know that fastest growing segments are “males of all ages and people over 55”?)

People now habitually ask friends for opinions, check in at local businesses, complain about poor service – and visit websites promoted through social ads and social media Business Pages.

4.  Social Networking Improves Your Google Rank

There are two things you must do, to quickly advance in Google’s search rankings.  Number one is purchase a domain in your own name (if that is not already taken).  Next, join the top social networks and optimize your profile within each one.

Why?

Let’s take an extremely common name – say, “Ann Johnson” – and type it into Google’s search bar.  We have 243,000,000 results.  And out of that 243,000,000, which results come up in the top four positions?

Let’s take a look…

4-ann-johnson

Top place goes to the Ann Johnson who was lucky enough to secure her namesake domain – www.annjohnson.ca.

Second, third and fourth results belong to Ann Johnsons who have profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.  That’s a great example of leveraging the power of strong social sites – and the particular Ann Johnsons featured here didn’t just sign up and create any old profile.

They optimized their profiles, right down to the “Twitter” Ann Johnson creating a custom URL, “https://twitter.com/VoteAnnJohnson”.

(It’s more than probable that “https://twitter.com/AnnJohnson” was already taken, so she got creative and used a keyword –i.e. “vote” – relevant to her Twitter goal.

5.  Social Media Arouses Curiosity – and Sharing

If you are wondering how to make sure your content is frequently or virally shared (which can increase the value of your profile to Google over the profile of someone else who has the same name), then it’s time to pause before you press the “post” button.

5-million-dollarThe million-dollar dollar question to ask yourself is…

  • “Is this content share-able?”

If you don’t know what “share-able” constitutes, take a look at:

  • Posts that reap a storm of comments and shares from your target niche
  • Types of posts that gather more shares in your niche:   A particular website?  A frustrating challenge?  Cute kitten photos?  Your YouTube Videos?  Photographs?  Instagram shares?

And above all, if people like your content, they share links to your site.

Dynamic, interactive and emotion-catching content is definitely one of the top ten reasons social media has become important to your search engine ranking.

6. Social “Rich Media” Apps Make Your Content More Share-able

One of the biggest advantages social media endows, when it comes to driving traffic to your website, is in the number of rich media apps they allow you to easily install; as in videos, photos, links and sound clips.

6-twitter-cardsThis brings not only a degree of interactivity to your site – always a good thing when it comes to share appeal – but helps your site stand out and grab attention.

Not only that, but you don’t have to pay for developers or spend hours slaving over code:  The social networks have done all that for you.

Take, for example, Twitter cards.  These go in your website HTML so that when readers tweet or retweet your content, they don’t just tweet the link; they tweet your rich media too, as Adam Burrell shows in our example, left.

Not only does this drive traffic to your site, it gives you complete control on how it is presented.  To install the snippet of code for Twitter cards, visit the Twitter developers link.

Best of all, you can easily add Twitter cards through a dashboard-searchable WordPress plugin.

7.  Social Networks are Developing More Rich Media Resources All the Time

7-tweet-with-rich-mediaIf there’s one thing social networks and developers do brilliantly, it’s creating apps designed to outdo the competition, send people to your website – helping you show up at the top of search results.

For example, not only does Twitter offer Twitter cards for your website, they sweetened your links by incorporating rich media into their own platform so you can instantly add a photo or location to your tweet.

8.  Social Networks are Competitive

8-slideshare-snippet-guideAnd that’s good news for you!  The major players have the big bucks, staff, experts and resources to spy on and analyze each other’s results.  If you see a strategy such as rich media copied from one network by another, you can pretty much bet it’s a viable traffic-generation and engagement strategy – particularly when development competition seems to be fierce.

Another tip:  When people start blogging about a strategy or app and creating SlideShare presentations, you know that one is here to stay.  (Till the next one comes along, that is…)

9.  Social Networks Drive Online Traffic to Local Businesses

This should come as no surprise to anyone, but for local businesses who create online presences (as more and more of your competitors are doing nowadays) social media such as location apps (e.g. Foursquare) can really give an edge.

9-foursquare

Apps such as these prompt people to “check in” and announce where they are via mobiles.  And people seem to love to do this!

10.  Reviews Drive Traffic

If you have a local business, social apps and networks are invaluable for providing your customers or clients with the opportunity to easily post reviews – particularly via Google+ Local.

10-google-plus-local-reviews

Claim and optimize your Google+ Local space to attract people to your website or business, instead of your competitors’.  And one side effect will be that you attract targeted customers or clients who never would have found you, any other way.

Location, reviews, recommendations, “Likes” and photos or videos of your products or business – and most of all, the opportunity to let a wide market hear your unique “voice” – make social media not only important for driving traffic to your website, but vital to search engine rankings and results.

Top 10 Reasons Why Content Continues to Rule Online Marketing

Top 10 Reasons Why Content Continues to Rule Online Marketing

Creating new marketing plans and ideas are allows good for your business. While in the process of brainstorming some new concepts and techniques to your overall marketing strategy, one that will remain the same for any online campaign is the importance of new and high quality content. Here are the top 10 reasons why content will continue to rule online marketing for years to come.

1. Content is the Reason People Go Online

1b-searchWhile it might not always seem like it, we always have a reason to turn on our computer or tablet or smartphone to start surfing the Internet.

That reason might be that we’re seeking entertainment, to find an answer to a question or a solution to a problem we have, or even just to provide a pleasant distraction for a few minutes.

The common thread running through all of these things is content. A person goes online in order to consume some type of content. When you have content on your business website you’re giving people a reason to visit.

2. Content Allows You To Distinguish Yourself

2-apples-orangesChances are you’re not the only business that’s operating in your chosen niche. In fact, there are probably at least a few others who are trying to accomplish something quite similar to (or perhaps even exactly the same as) what you’re doing.

Having a steady stream of quality content allows you to distinguish yourself from your competition, and therefore have the best possible chance of landing new customers. Not all businesses are willing to make content a priority in their marketing, so by doing so you can help your business stand above the competition.

3. Establish Your Expertise

3-expertWhen potential customers are searching for solutions to their problems, or considering making a purchase, one of the hurdles they have to overcome is the lack of trust in dealing with a business they’ve never dealt with before. In many cases, this lack of trust is based on the fact that these potential customers simply don’t know who’s a qualified expert in the field, and who isn’t. With high quality content on your website you establish yourself as someone who knows what they’re talking about, and your business as a solution to the potential customer’s problem.

4. Content Gives People a Reason to Come Back to Your Website

4-repeat-visitorsThe single best type of customer you can get is a repeat customer. Since you’ve already established a relationship with those individuals, you can save on the new customer acquisition costs. And those existing customers know exactly what they can expect from you and your company. But you still need to keep giving your existing customers a reason to come back to your website. Giving them new information on how they can get the most out of the product or service they’ve already bought from you is a great way to start the process of long term customer retention.

5. Content Helps You Explain Your “Value Proposition.”

5-valueEven if a potential customer never thinks about it in these terms, one of the questions they’re asking themselves when they’re considering buying something is why they should but it from you instead of from someone else. With quality content on your website you’ll be able to explain your “value proposition” – i.e., exactly what it is about your product or service that offers the greatest value to a potential customer.

6. Content Lets You Service Your Existing Customers

6-faq-serve-customersWhenever a customer asks for service or assistance or for help in understanding something, you can bet that there are many more behind the scenes who have not bothered to ask, but who instead simply stay dissatisfied with the transaction. FAQs and “How To” content on your website can help some of these potentially dissatisfied customers with the issues they may be having, and can turn them into satisfied customers.

7. Content Helps You Build Your Mailing List

7-mailing-listHaving a list of individuals who’ve opted in to receive emails from you can be your single most valuable business asset. One of the most effective ways to build your mailing list is to offer valuable content to a visitor in exchange for them signing up for your list. The most common types of content giveaways include special reports and ebooks on a particular topic of interest.

8. Content Helps Your Search Engine Rankings

8-search-rankingsWith relevant and high quality content, the major search engines will identify your website as one that’s likely to be a valuable resource for individuals who are searching for information on a particular topic. Writing articles that will be genuinely useful and valuable to potential customers, while keeping basic SEO principles in mind, can boost your search engine ranking, and help more individuals find your business.

9. Content Can Help You Expand Your Social Media Footprint

9-social-mediaContent is more than just long reports and ebooks. Content also includes pictures, videos and short articles. And these are just the types of things that people love to share on social media websites. By including content that people share on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest you’re making valuable links and contacts within the social media universe. Expanding your social media footprint in this organic way can be an irreplaceable way to build your business.

10. Content Keeps You Active and Creative

10-creativityUntil you have the mindset of constantly creating new content for your website, there’s a significant risk you can stagnate in your business. It’s virtually impossible in today’s business environment to simply come up with a single product or service and then just sit back and stop creating. When you’re thinking about how to bring quality content to your website, your creative juices flow, and this can only help you in other parts of your business.

Keep your business growing by making sure you’re always giving your customers and potential customers useful and high quality content.

Google Ranking Factors 2012 – Social Factors Rule

Google Ranking Factors 2012 – Social Factors Rule

Most people are aware of the Google Places & Google+ merge that happened last month, but not too many understand the significance it had on social media integration. Searchmetrics, a company that aggregates billions of data points a month did a test on the effects of social signals aka social engagement. If you never knew how important facebook shares, likes & comments were to your marketing strategy, I’m sure the image below will convince you.

A few highlights from Seachmetrics inquiry

  • Social media signals show extremely high correlation: social signals from Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are frequently associated with good rankings in Google’s index.
  • Too much advertising is detrimental: for the first time we are seeing sites with too many advertisements struggling to rank well. However, the problem apparently relates only to AdSense adblocks…
  • Backlinks are still important but quantity is not the only important thing: even though the number of backlinks is still the most powerful factor, links with stop words and ‘nofollow’ should also be included in the link-mix.
  • Brands leverage classic SEO signals: apparently pages with strong brands do not need to be as concerned with the areas of title tags, headings etc. According to our figures, this group operates under different rules.
  • Keyword domains still frequently attract top results: despite all the rumors to the contrary, keyword domains are still alive and well and are often in the top rankings.

To read the rest of the article click here.

What Is Google Plus Local And How Can It Help Your Business?

As technology evolves, consumers increasingly rely on the internet to point them towards good products and trustworthy services. As a result, online and digital marketing is now an essential advertising tool for any company.

For small and local businesses, the move away from much more expensive and time-consuming print and television advertising is proving beneficial. If you are looking for an effective way to promote your business, Google Plus Local, a newly created online business directory, could be the ideal solution.

What Is Google Plus Local?

Google created Google Plus Local as a way to combine its search engine, social networking, and business directory features. Google Plus Local’s primary use is to allow customers to search out and find detailed information on local restaurants, shops, and other services. However, by taking advantage of this popular tool, businesses can use their page as an effective advertising platform.

Your Page:  When you set up your company’s Google Plus Local page, you can include maps, contact details, photographs, and other important information. From then on, your customers can use the page to rate your company, write reviews, and add photos. Your page will visible in Google search results and on Google maps.

Zagat: A key part of this business directory is its Zagat ranking system. Zagat uses a 30 point scale to rate different aspects of a company, like food, decor, and service, from ‘poor’ to ‘perfection’.

The History Of Google Plus Local

Google Plus Local is based on its predecessor Google Places. The most significant change with this newer version is that it is completely integrated with the ‘Google Plus’ social network. In the short time the new social network has been available it has gained over 100 million members and that number is growing, making it a valuable and relatively untapped marketplace.

Here are just a few other changes that have taken place:

  • Your business’s page will now be included in Google’s index, making it more visible in searches
  • People’s search results will be influenced by their friends and family’s previous reviews and ratings
  • Through your page, you will be able to respond and interact with comments and customers directly
  • People using the Google social network can share and post comments linking to your business

How Your Business Can Use Google Plus Local

The primary benefit of this new service is its ability to increase the profile of your business. It also allows you to connect with your customers on a more personal level. As with any form of advertising, to make the most out of your Local page, you need to develop a clear strategy. A concise plan of action should include:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

As part of an official Google service, your page already gets a boost in the search engine’s results. However, to make the most of the service, it is still important to utilize SEO. By including relevant keywords, keyword phrases, backlinks, inbound links, regular updates, and other SEO content, you can guarantee to improve your business’s listing placement.

Integrate Social Networking

With over 100 million members, the social network Google Plus is a valuable place to engage potential customers. An individual’s search results on Google Plus are affected by the opinions and ratings of their friends and family members. By developing a tightknit and friendly relationship with your customers through your use of the social network, you can dramatically improve your profile in the local area.

Making The Most Of Zagat

The customer ratings you are given will be a very prominent part of your page. Unfortunately, even the best companies get occasional bad reviews. By encouraging your customers, whatever their opinions, to leave a review, you can ensure that you get representative overall results.

Dealing With Any Negative Feedback

It is wise to develop a strategy that deals with negative comments if they occur. Acting in a professional and engaging manner to properly tackle any negative effect a review could have will stop it causing damage to your reputation. It could also help you to win back a customer that would otherwise have been lost forever.

What Results Can You Expect?

After implementing an effective strategy you can expect the following results:

Better Search Rank

Statistics show that the majority of people only visit sites on the first page of their search results. Of that page, the top 3 results are far more likely to be visited than any of the others. By using Google Plus Local to get your company’s page into this prominent position, you can guarantee increased interest in your service.

More Traffic To Your Website

Once you have increased your search engine rank, placing a link on your Google Plus Local page to your official business website will increase its traffic and the number of customers/bookings you get.

Useful Information

You could learn about the demographics of customers using your account. Through their data analysis, Google Plus have learnt that:

  • 58% of their users are male
  • Their three biggest markets are the USA, UK, and India
  • Engineer is the most common profession of their users

Community Of Customers

With its integration into Google’s social network you can build up a solid relationship with your customers as well as repeat visits. Providing prompt and friendly feedback to any comments or reviews is just one way you could do this.

How  To Begin

The world of internet advertising can be very daunting for a small business. If you or your company has never tried to implement a Google Plus Local strategy before, there are many possible pitfalls to run into. Adding content that yields a very low search engine result or building up a bad relationship with your customers are just a couple of potential problems.

If you would rather spend more time running your business and less time promoting it, hiring an online marketing specialist is the ideal solution. Making sure your company’s Google Plus Local page is in the hands of professionals can not only improve your earnings, but also help to ensure your business’s survival in the future.