The recession is no excuse for local and small businesses owners to experience marketing depression. In fact, it’s a great time to take advantage of your network of contacts and your geographic location. Small business owners can actually take advantage of economic downturn and learn new marketing strategies to sustain the future of their organization. Here are some simple Web marketing tips for small and local business owners to try so they may boost their Website’s search visibility and to build Web marketing buzz. The key is to stop selling and start Serving your consumer. Customer service via well-managed websites, educational content, helpful tips, easy to find contact, frequently asked questions pages, blogs, email newsletters, etc that have VALUABLE content will allow you to do what marketing is really all about, build relationships.
Tip #1 — Define Your Optimized Key Phrases
Focus on key phrases before any search optimizations are executed. Define keywords that describe your business, product(s) or service(s). Next, marry those descriptive keywords with city or county locations. Remember this equation: Business or service + Location or region = Optimized Key Phrase.
Business or service: Wardrobe consultant + Location or region: Santa Barbabra = Optimized Key Phrase: Wardrobe consultant Santa Barbara
The power of targeted phrases pays off when you begin to optimizing page titles, meta tags, site content, internal links, and external links with the accurate, descriptive key phrases you have developed. These will help attract targeted search results and bring the right customers to your site.
Tip #2 — Be an Educator. Teach to Build Trust and Credibility
Business owners are usually experts in their field and have a great deal of passion for what they do. A business owner can offer value with educational materials, content and tips. Being an educator via online content can help you go from being experts to AUTHORITIES and that is where credibility and buzz kick in. Utilize the social media networks, blogs and micro blogging as a platform to reach consumers and educate them with your expertise.
Tip #3 — Craft Valuable Content that Also Communicates Location
The slogan “content is king” still holds true. Define your key phrases and weave them into all your content.Content such an important element to Web marketing because it:
(1) fuels search indexing,
(2) builds indexed pages for a website,
(3) serves customers, and
(4) boosts visibility.
Local businesses can maximize their search visibility by crafting content written with geo-specific key phrases. Once that is accomplished, try adding it to online press releases and blogs and sharing the content in social media communities. Here are examples of headlines with geo-targeted key phrases that could be used in press releases or blog posts:
Local Ventura Dog Trainer Volunteers Studio for Humane Society Rescue Day
Beverly Hills Wardrobe Consultant Event March 31st
Tip #4-Build Links with External Websites
Increasing links back to your Website boosts search engine visibility. Local businesses can maximize links from other sites by taking advantage of their tremendous assets: contacts and community. Use your connections to initiate:
Links in a local directory
— A link in the local Chamber of Commerce directory
— Links to your site in the blog roll of local bloggers
— Partnering with non-competing local websites to exchange links
Whenever possible, request that the “link back” have one of the key phrases you are targeting.
Tip #5 — Get on Low-Cost/No-Cost Local Search Opportunities
Businesses that operate or have a mailbox in a geographic location can add their listing (usually at no charge) to Google Maps, Yahoo Local, MSN Live, SuperPages, Yellow Pages and other local sites. Some local search engines require a call or will mail a postcard to verify address, but with most all you need to do is add your business online.
Since Google, Yahoo, and MSN often include local businesses above other listings in their search results, local businesses can often leverage their geographic edge to get top listings.
Online phone book sites offer paid options that are worth exploring, as well. Another approach is to ask your clients or customers to post comments about your business on local Internet listings to boost credibility and awareness.
Tip #6 — Place Contact Information and Place-Names on Each Page of Your Site
The simple act of adding contact information to every page of your site can boost search visibility. If you serve multiple cities, give your address, then a descriptor such as: “Serving the Tri-Counties, Small Business Bank for Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County.”
Tip #7 — Re Purpose Your Marketing Assets and Collateral Online.
Videos can be edited and hosted on video-sharing sites, photos can be posted on your blog, and great content can be re-purposed on your website and shared on ezine sites, newsletters, blogs, sites like eHow.com and more. If you are in the news, populate your press page with news and write your own press releases that share company news, awards, events, new services and push them out to free PR wires. You can use what you already have to build buzz and boost credibility and content = search results. No need to reinvent the wheel, be creative and recycle marketing collateral!
Tip #8 — Web Marketing is NOT about the Tools- it is About HOW You Use the Tools
Web marketing is NOT about the tools (blogs, banner ads, paid search, social media) Web marketing is about HOW you use the tools. The key to successful marketing is to maximize the relationships to grow revenues and profit. Strategy is how small businesses build awareness and boost business.
Think about marketing not as “spending” but instead “investing” and make your investments count. Put dollars into “marketing capital” that will sustain and work for a long time. Web marketing collateral is a brilliant place to invest, (it’s low cost or no cost) and lives forever (unlike print ads, online ads, direct mail or TV/Radio that die when you stop doing them).
Websites that communicate who you are, what you do and why you are worth working with are great supporting capital to a small company. This is a stressful environment, so consumers are more conscious — they need to 1. know 2. like and 3. trust before they buy…does your Web marketing evoke trust? Invest in marketing that supports these points and it will be an investment that carries you for years.