Local Search - Duct Tape Marketing

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5 Steps to Optimize Your Website Like a Pro

photo credit: Google via photopin (license)

photo credit: Google via photopin (license)

Everyone uses search engines to find products and companies these days. About 60% of all consumers use Google search to find businesses, and over 80% of online searches result in direct sales or in-store visits. You want to optimize your website so that you show up on the top of these searches. This should be a top priority for any business owner.

Unfortunately, search optimization is not a fix it and forget it type of task. Google’s search algorithm is constantly evolving as they attempt to provide the best results for their searchers, and, of course, make as much money as possible in advertising. Your website has to keep up. You can’t simply hire an SEO expert to optimize your website once and forget about it for years; you’ll begin to see diminishing results.

With that in mind, you should be doing these following tasks on a regular basis to continually optimize your website, and stay ahead of the search curve.

5 Steps to Optimize your Website

1. Keyword Research

All search optimization begins with keyword research. You have to have an understanding of the current search landscape and your keywords. This is critical to not only do at the beginning of any marketing strategy, but also occasionally re-evaluate. These numbers always change, and you want to stay up-to-date.

Using Google Keyword Planner, begin with your industry and location. The tool will then give you a wide range of search terms, how often they are searched, and the competition over those words (based on how many businesses are buying ads based on those search terms.) You’ll want to find as many relevant keywords for your business as possible that have low competition but high search numbers.

Once you identify those terms, write them down word for word. Any slight variations on your identified keywords will hurt your optimization. Use these keywords in all of your efforts to optimize your website moving forward.

2. Create Great Content with Keywords in mind 

Content is the basis for the entire Duct Tape Marketing approach, and posting regular content will help your website show up on more searches. When approaching content, you must keep the keywords in mind. The entire point of the content is to reach people who are looking for it.

Use your keywords as a springboard for content ideas, and try to work your keywords into the posts as often (but as naturally) as possible. For even more tips on optimizing each post for search, check out Kala’s post on post optimization.

3. Speed it Up

Google is beginning to punish slow running websites. You want to make sure your page is always up to speed. Luckily there is a tool to do just that. Google Speed Insights will not only tell you if your page is running slow, but it will give you suggestions on how to speed it up.

It is important to do this regularly and even follow up on those suggestions. Things you are doing on your website (posting new content, new products or pages) can slow your website down. You don’t want to be penalized for slow speed if you don’t know it is occurring.

4. Use Landing Pages

You want every single one of your landing pages to keep your keywords in mind. If you’re creating a landing page for a new product or promotion, try to work a keyword that is most relevant to your individual product into the title and body copy of the page.

If there are multiple keywords you think apply to this promotion or item, you may want to test multiple landing pages with each page focused on one keyword. Do this too often, though and you’ll slow your website down, so be sure to delete underperforming landing pages.

5. Update Your Page Titles

Quick question: what are the page titles of your website? Most business owners have their page titles as simply the name of your business. This is great if your business name is perfectly optimized, but most aren’t (the best search names usually follow the City + Service format, like Kansas City Auto Body for example.)

Try changing your page titles to include your #1 keyword. This can be something as simple as “Your business name + Top Keyword” but you can get creative. Try to incorporate a slogan that includes the keyword.

Optimal Results

With these five tips, your website will be consistently delivering you optimal results. Be sure to evaluate those results, find what works and what doesn’t. Also, this is not a complete list by any means. SEO is an incredibly deep and ever-evolving strategy, but that means there are tons of great resources to help you along the way.

Alex-Boyer-Photo-150x150-e1420769709443Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC

3 Proven Strategies for Local Lead Generation

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 3.06.12 PM

Marketing Podcast with Mark Z. Fortune and Kevin Jordan

Every local-based business wants to improve their local lead generation process. Leads are the life-blood of your marketing efforts. The best salespeople can convert those leads into sales, but without leads even the best sales force on the planet can’t bring you more business.

That is why lead generation is one of my favorite subjects to discuss, and the topic of a new book from a group of my friends and Duct Tape Marketing Certified Consultants called Local Lead Generation: Proven Tips to Help Grow Your Business.

My guests for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast are Mark Z. Fortune and Kevin Jordan, Certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultants and co-authors (among others) of The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Local Lead Generation: Proven Strategies and Tips to Grow Your Business. We discuss the new book, how to improve your total online presence.

Questions I ask Mark and Kevin:

  • What are some of the common mistakes small business owners make?
  • How do I get customers to visit my website?
  • Why shouldn’t you just buy traffic with pay-per-click?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why it is so critical to focus on local search and local lead generation
  • How reviews draw customers into your store
  • What the role of social media is in local search

 

Transcript

Transcription Service Provided by GMR Transcription

John: This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by MarketingProfs. Do you have the write stuff? Unleash your inner writer by downloading the latest MarketingProfs Marketing Writing Kit for free. You’ll find it in the show notes, but you can go to mprofs.com/ducttape.

Hello, welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guests today are Kevin Jordan and Mark Fortune. They happen to be a couple of Duct Tape Marketing Consultants who have, with several other Duct Tape Marketing Consultants, written a book called The Small Business Owners Guide to Local Lead Generation. So, Mark and Kevin, thanks for joining me.

Mark: Thanks for having us John.

Kevin: Thanks.

John: Well, so I always like to pick on the title first, you know, everybody knows they need lead generation. You guys have stuck the word local in the title and so I wonder is there a difference between local lead generation and just everyday lead generation?

Mark: Yeah, well, we felt like there was. I think what happened was there’re five of us who have coauthored the book and in just some of our back and forth and working together in the network, we all sort of realized that we’re all working with clients that are local businesses and sometimes they face some unique and common struggles across just the local spectrum and these days, especially in the online world, you can really narrow down your focus as to who your local market is.

So, if you’re a local veterinarian clinic, you’re not really concerned with marketing outside of a three- to five-mile radius of where your business is so there are very specific things, especially in the online world, that you need to worry about in order to bring in the right kind of customers to your business and that’s really where we focus in on the local aspects in this book.

John: Yeah, and I’ve actually been doing this for a long time and even before we had the Internet really as a foundational tool or a website at least, and I do think initially there was a feeling that oh, if you’re trying to sell globally, you need to be online and that’s a big deal. But now people shop around the world certainly but they also shop across the street using all these Internet tools so it really has become, I think, hyper important for local businesses.

Kevin: Yeah, absolutely, and I would add to what Mark said that in addition to the online elements which are very important these days, there’s a lot of offline marketing tactics that are available to local businesses. A business that’s not particularly local simply can’t use or can’t really use the … and we get into some of those in the book, especially when it comes to direct mail and referrals and those kinds of things.

John: Yeah, and I think that’s a great point too because I think a local business, as you pointed out, I think one of the advantages is when they start combining all of these things and so they use their offline tools to drive people maybe online to get more information to then drive them into their store and that’s where I think the real power comes is when you’re integrating all of these things.

Mark: Yeah, and it’s so important to keep in mind if you’re a local business owner that probably well over half of your potential customers and ideal customers are carrying a Smartphone that is location aware and they’re searching for your type of business while in the car or in the office and they’re not on a desktop computer doing it. So, that local aspect of what you’re doing and being able to be found quickly by the search engines is just critical these days.

John: Well, and also you imagine when you pull your phone out and you’re driving around, you have pretty high buying intent too, right? It’s like I want to find this thing that I’m looking for and I’m going to go buy it right now and so that makes that even more important I think. So, you guys both consult with small businesses. What are some of the common mistakes, maybe just generally when we’re speaking about marketing, that you encounter on a daily basis?

Kevin: Mark, you want to take that one first?

Mark: Sure, one of the things I see very often across my client base is a real tendency to jump on marketing tactic of the week. Sometimes it’s just of their own research and their own searching and sometimes it’s they’re being sold an advertising program by a vendor and they don’t fully understand but there will be a rush to oh, man, we have to get on Facebook or oh, we’ve got to do paper click or oh, we’ve really got to figure out Twitter this week, and there’s very little cohesive strategy that goes into it.

And we all know small business owners are yanked in a million directions at once so it’s hard to really focus on that plan and nailing down really where you want to go and how you’re going to get there. So, I very commonly see a real tendency to just jump on one tactic for a little while.

Kevin: I agree 100 percent with what Mark said and one thing I’ll add to that is that a lot of times, and I think this is a very tragic mistake, is that small business owners get connected with a marketing person – I hate to use the word professional because I wouldn’t necessarily –

John: Because that would imply something, wouldn’t it?

Kevin: Yeah, that would imply something. They get connected with a marketing person who is not fully qualified to do what they’re doing and in fact just last week, I did a consultation with a local independent insurance agency who had just launched a new website and nowhere on the entire website did it say anything about where the business was located. And if you know anything about search engine optimization for local businesses, you know that that information needs to be in multiple locations on every single page of the website.

John: Well, the thing that’s funny about that is that’s not just search engine optimization, that’s just good manners.

Kevin: Yeah, common sense.

John: I mean, how am I going to find you?

Kevin: Yeah, and not only that, but this particular web designer was charging this business owner over $300.00 a month for a “search engine optimization package.” So, I don’t know what was going to be in that package, but it’s kind of like selling someone a car and then telling them that the engine is going to cost extra, and I see this a lot where business owners just don’t know how to hire the right marketing people. And if someone reads this book, if nothing else, I hope what they get out of it is knowing what questions they need to ask before hiring someone to help them with their marketing.

John: You speak about, as many marketing related books do these days, a lot about content and in fact, you talk about out publishing the competition. I will say, and you’ve certainly experienced that, I think a lot of small business owners generally are buying that now and understanding the value of that, but it is still probably the hardest work for them. It’s the part that they struggle with the most; I mean how can we make this idea of content marketing something that a small business owner can actually wrap their arms around?

Mark: Yeah, I think one of the important things, and something we really try to point out in the book, is to not get intimidated by the notion of content. And I think small business owners tend to think that means they have to stare in front of a blank computer screen with an empty Word doc every Monday morning and figure out how to crank out a thousand words by 9:00 a.m. for a blog post and that’s just not the case. I mean one of the tactics – I have a newer client, a local landscaping service, and when I said content to him, he nods his head because he knows he has to do it but you can tell it’s just overwhelming him, the idea that he has to do all of this.

And I say, “Start simply. What are the ten most frequently asked questions your customers ask you on every job you get? Write those answers down. There’re ten blog posts right there.” You can break it down into very common themes and really start to tackle this.

John: Yeah, one of my favorites is what are the questions they should be asking you but they don’t know even to ask you but you know that if they ask that or if you were able to provide the information on that, that would help differentiate you and it would help them get to a better understanding. I see you guys and I talk about FAQs and I can’t remember the acronym you used for what I’m talking about now, but I coined the term Frequently Unasked Questions, but then I found the acronym didn’t play very well in some places.

Kevin: We call them SAQs, the Should Ask Questions.

Mark: I was just drawing that out. I’m like no, that won’t work, hold on.

John: Yeah, you don’t want to pronounce it phonetically or something, that’s right, but I think that’s a great point too. And you talk about in the book this idea of repurposing content too. I think that’s another thing that they get intimidated by is to see people are doing video or they’re doing podcasting and oh, my God, how am I going to think of all this stuff and really finding a piece or two of kind of foundational content that really tells your story and sets you apart, I mean it’s not that hard to turn that into eight or ten applications, is it?

Kevin: Absolutely not and in fact, this podcast we’re recording right now, a transcript of this could easily be turned into multiple blog posts with very little editing. In fact, one thing that I’m doing right now with the owner of a clinic for weight loss is instead of just writing his blog, what we’re doing is every week I interview him about his own business as if we’re doing a podcast episode and then I can write the blog post using a transcript of that so that it’s in his own voice. But thinking forward and thinking ahead, we’re saving the recordings of those so that if any time in the future he wants to start a podcast, he already has all the podcast episodes ready to go.

John: That’s great. That’s such a great technique too for people that find it hard to sit down and type on a blank screen, but boy, you ask them a question or two and they won’t shut up and so I think that that sometimes can be a great way to extract content from somebody.

We already talked about the obvious put your name and address on your website, but what are some of the other must-have considerations for a website now that even for local businesses has become maybe the hub of their business?

Mark: Well, I think in so many ways, yes, the NAP, the name, address and phone number is absolutely critical to be on a site so that you can be found unlike Kevin’s client that he mentioned earlier. I think it’s also really important if you have multiple locations to create a unique page within your site for each location that also helps drive that local content or those local search results. I think it’s also critical to take into account your community and your surrounding neighborhoods when you’re developing content.

Write something unique to the neighborhood you’re in. Write something unique to the community interests or a cause that you may be involved with and that will over time, if you’re consistent with it, really help with your search rankings. And don’t forget to ask your customers for reviews, I mean it’s just so important to manage that reputation online, and five star reviews and thumbs up reviews and great reviews on Google+ and Facebook will really help drive leads and new business into your store.

John:  Yeah, and I think it’s also a great trust factor. Anymore, we tend to not believe advertising, we tend to not believe a lot of stuff that somebody is telling us about themselves, but we are more likely to believe that five star review even from a perfect stranger. So, I think they certainly are a necessary element in the search game, but I think they’ve become a real important trust signal as well.

Kevin: One thing I’d add as far as critical elements of a website, and I’m sure your listeners are well aware of the latest changes to Google’s algorithm by the time this podcast comes out, but the bottom line is if your website is not mobile friendly, it’s going to be more and more difficult for you to rank in search results and so just go ahead and bite the bullet if your website isn’t mobile friendly right now, get a redesign that’s responsive and that conforms to the latest best practices in that regard so that you won’t be slapped by future updates from Google.

John:  Well, and we talked about it already. I think Mark mentioned the idea, you know, so many people locally, when they’re looking for a business, that’s what they’re using to search so even if it weren’t for the fact that Google was now not going to show your site, I mean it makes such a bad experience for that person that’s on a phone anyway.

Mark: Yeah, I have a new client. We’re redesigning their website specifically because of that issue. It’s a veterinary clinic and they have good search rankings. They’re actually pretty good marketers and have a successful business, but 40 percent of their traffic was mobile and the latest Google updates have really punished their traffic and there’s really no way to get around that other than to rebuild your site in a mobile responsive design. You just have to bite the bullet and go for it.

John: So, now I have my lovely website up and it’s mobile friendly and it has great content. How do I get people to visit?

Kevin:  Well, I think the first thing is making sure that when it is built it’s built with all the proper elements of SEO best practices in place so making sure the keyword rich content and the coding is done correctly and all that. That’s Step 1.

And then Step 2 is just taking the idea that you preach John about the total online presence where you incorporate your social media, your email marketing, your online advertising, your ratings and review sites and directory listings and have that all working with each other and all pointing back and driving traffic to your website.

John: Yeah, and then it’s plain old networking too, right, in the local community working with other businesses, getting links from other businesses, posting content other places that point back to your site.

Kevin: Yeah, and we joke in the book that some of the, you know, we talk about the idea of back links and how you can get links from authoritative sites like your local chamber of commerce and your local BNI chapter. In other words, some of those organizations are things that you probably need to be doing anyway and this idea of getting traffic to your website is just even more incentive for you to be participating in your community.

John: So, you mentioned a couple of elements of search engine optimization. Are there any particular elements for local search? So, in other words, for that local business, are there some things that are very unique to that local business to show up when I’m in that town searching for whatever you’re selling?

Mark: I think what I’ve seen with my clients are reviews tend to be very, very important, and I work with my clients as a part of what they’re doing. And we talk about it in the book that when a customer has had a good experience, work with them to get that email address and ask them for reviews. Take five minutes or take 30 seconds and give us a quick review on Google+ or on Facebook, and that really will help boost up your traffic as folks are searching for your business in that mobile environment.

Kevin: It’s also an insurance policy because let’s face it, the customer who has a bad experience with your business is going to be much, much more motivated to go online and leave a negative review than the one who has a great experience. That’s just the ugly truth of it.

So, you might say well, I don’t have any negative reviews so I’m not that worried about it, but when you get one, you’re going to be worried about it so why not go out and get five or ten or 15 or 50 positive reviews so that when that negative review does happen, which it will if you’re in business long enough, then it’s just not really that big of a deal because it’s buried by all of the positive reviews.

John:  So, getting reviews, optimizing your site, writing content, all these things that work over time do take time. Can’t you just buy traffic?

Mark: Not if you don’t want to get punished. I think there was probably a time, not that long ago, where the Black Hat SEO guys, if you will –

John: Well, no, I’m talking about legitimate ways of buying traffic meaning paper click advertising, I mean –

Mark:  Oh, okay.

John:  – surely you get some clients over time that maybe they have more money than time or patience and feel like hey, why don’t we just dive into Google AdWords. What’s wrong with that thinking?

Mark: Well, for one, if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can get really expensive really, really fast with very low conversions. I think if you have a good website and a good strategy and a good landing page and someone who really understands paper click marketing that you’re working with, you can start dipping your toes into paper click pretty quickly and generate some decent results.

I know two of our coauthors, both Phil Singleton and Justin Sturgis, use that very often with their clients and use it very successfully, but I’ve seen it happen time after time. Somebody thinks they just put in a credit card to Google, into AdWords, and traffic is going to start pouring in. And sometimes traffic does pour in, but none of it converts. If you don’t have a good landing page and a good clear call to action and offer for what somebody’s going to get, you’ll spend a lot of money really fast.

Kevin: Yeah, I would say that AdWords or any other form of paper click advertising even though it might get traffic to your site quickly is not a short-term proposition either because even just to do a basic test of whether a landing page or a campaign is going to be successful, I think at least one to two months minimum would be required depending on your traffic volume and the area you’re targeting.

So, I see business owners who will do it for a couple weeks or a month and are not satisfied with the results and give up, but they don’t even have a statistically balanced sample in order to judge whether or not it would have been successful.

John: I think you both alluded a little bit to this idea of conversion, I mean obviously, once you know if you get X traffic you will get X result then in many cases you can afford to say okay, let’s go buy all that traffic up because we know what it’s worth to us, but what are some of the ways that you would recommend to know what’s working and not working? I mean I think a typical small business even if they feel like their revenue is good, in many cases they don’t really know what’s driving it so how do you find out? How do you measure what’s working and not working online?

Kevin: I think the first thing John is to make sure that you have a method in place for tracking it and are looking at that on a regular basis, whether you or the person you’re outsourcing your marketing to, so analytics are hugely important and with online, online anything really, there’s no excuse not to be tracking it well because the tools are there, they’re available and most of them are free. So, that’s Step 1.

Mark: I think the other part too is once you have Google Analytics up running in the social world you can see how much engagement you’re getting. You’ve got to dedicate some time to actually analyze what that means and where your new customers came from and understanding your cost to acquire. One of my clients right now is a software and data company here in Arkansas where I’m located, and we spend an hour a month going over all of the month’s analytics and eventually the conversation moves from how many likes did we get or how many shares did we get to okay, how many of those shares turned into somebody that wanted to see a demo or wanted to try a free trial of our product?

And the same thing applies to local business to consumer businesses as well. How many people are converting from all the tactics that you’re using? And then you get down to a cost to acquire and you begin to understand what the lifetime value of that relationship is.

John: Yeah, and I think so often people are, and I’m guilty of this, you’re very traffic driven, but as a metric, have an understanding what you started to talk about. What are some of the goals of that traffic? What are we trying to get them to do? Even if it’s how many of them are signing up for a newsletter when they come here or converting to signing up for our webinar? And I think too often all people think about is traffic and sale and there are a lot of goals or steps along that journey in between that can and should be measured.

Mark: Right and I think it’s important with the local businesses to really understand what you have with your existing customer base. I mean that can really be, you know, probably is your most valuable asset in the company in terms of helping folks you’ve already converted to convert others. So, we really encourage all of our clients to work with your customer base, make sure they have a wonderful experience and turn into those referral partners for you.

John: So, the final question and then we’ll wrap up. I know you guys have some resources that you want to share along with the site for the book, and I know you both get this question all the time, what ultimately is the role of social media in local lead generation?

Kevin: Well John I think No. 1 is the first principle of social media, and we jokingly talk about this in the book, is to do no harm. So, for a local business that is pressed for time and who thinks I have to be on social media so they go and set up their Facebook page and their Twitter account and their Google+ and all the other places that they want to be and then they post one or two things and then stop.

It is actually hurting that business because when someone goes on your Facebook page and sees that the last post there is Happy Thanksgiving 2012, it’s what we call the social media ghost town effect and it makes people wonder is this business even open. Do they respond to requests? So, No. 1, if you’re going to have a profile on a social media platform, you’ve got to post regularly.

And No. 2 is the purpose of social media is really to have conversations with your customers. It’s not some place where you post your ads and it’s just like you’d put an ad in the newspaper, take the same ad and put it on your Facebook page. You want to be using it to maybe start a Facebook group for your customers or use it to solicit feedback or something. It’s all about having a conversation, not about pushing out a marketing message.

John: Yeah, and I think that’s a great point. I mean I’ve often told people that say I just don’t have time for social media, do something; find some way to serve your customers using it. Just as you mentioned a group or something on Facebook or following them on Twitter, making a Twitter list of them and at least checking in once a day and seeing what your customers are saying. I mean you could find that valuable couldn’t you, and I think a lot of times you’re right, people get caught up in oh, if I’m on Twitter, it means I have to say something witty 12 times a day, and it certainly can have value without you saying a thing.

Mark: Well, and I think you touched on something really important there John, which is so much of the time it can start with just listening first because even if you’re not active in the conversation and you haven’t set up your properties, your business and the needs you’re trying to solve are absolutely being discussed. An example I see every day, and it makes me think of this in my business all the time, is my neighborhood has a Facebook group, just all the houses in my neighborhood.

And nine out of ten posts, other than somebody’s dog is lost, are who knows a good roofer, good electrician, good plumber, good whatever, name the service that you’d like. And that stuff is a goldmine as a lead generation tool, and while you can’t actively necessarily advertise on those groups, people are talking about the kinds of needs that your business solves out there and you’ve got to be willing to listen and dive into that conversation.

John: I was working with a group of chiropractors – not chiropractors, orthodontists, and I was giving a presentation on social media and was told that the group was very leery of the impact of it. And so I went and found, without much work, found about a dozen pictures of young women who had just gotten their braces off raving about how beautiful they feel now and thanks to their orthodontist and in most all cases didn’t mention the orthodontist and I showed them. I said, “Would this be a marketing opportunity for you had you seen that your customer is raving about this?”

And in a couple cases, they did mention the orthodontist, but out there into no man’s land because the orthodontist wasn’t doing what you just talked about and missed, in my opinion, a tremendous opportunity to say hey, you were a great patient and have all of that young lady’s friends and followers know that their orthodontist cared in a moment that was obviously pretty important to that young lady.

Mark: Well, and you’re right, and what if you’re the one orthodontist in that town who has really figured that out?

John: Exactly.

Mark: You’re going to be miles ahead of your competition.

John: Yep, yep, it was a great demonstration. So, localleadgenbook.com is where you guys have set up shop for the book. And do you want to tell us about some resources that you have there because I know you mention them throughout the book and then also I think you have a special offer for the launch?

Kevin: Yeah, absolutely. The resources page we put together is still a work in progress, but now as we get closer to launch, we’re adding more and more links to each chapter so for each chapter in the book, we’ve put links to the resources that we mention in the book and articles that have more content, especially the chapters on SEO and paper click. And by the way, it’s really, really difficult to describe what an anchor text link is in a printed book.

John: Yeah, right, right, some things you have to experience online, right, yeah.

Kevin: So, for things like that we have additional resources on the website that people can use to help them. And then we’ve also put together what we feel is a really great bonus package for people who buy the book and come to the site and provide a proof of purchase so we have a bonus chapter on video marketing which I think is becoming more and more important even for local businesses.

John: You bet.

Kevin: We have a downloadable template for creating your marketing kit, video interviews with all the authors – what else do we have Mark?

[Crosstalk]

Mark: Don’t forget the eBook. We put an eBook out there with 66 lead generation tactics and tips that you get for free when you go to the purchase link on localleadgenbook.com.

John: Awesome. Well, thanks guys. Obviously, you’re in the Duct Tape Marketing Network so I will see both of you probably sooner than later, but congratulations on the book and obviously local businesses, this is information you need and it is in a very digestible format and great job.

Mark: Thank you.

Kevin: Thanks John and I want to finish up with one additional quick story. I don’t know if you remember, but the first time that I met you, it was after you gave a speech to our local Small Business Development Center and I walked up to you and asked you to sign my book. It was The Referral Engine book.

If you had told me at that point that in less than three years you would be writing the forward for a book that I wrote, I would have told you that you are absolutely crazy, but here we are and it’s happening and you’ve given us a lot of support not only with the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network but just in resources and access to the other things that we need so thank you very much for that.

John: Well, you’re welcome. The need for what we do is immense guys so, you know, it’s a lot of fun doing this. I do remember that Kevin by the way. The nearest town that had an airport I think was about a hundred miles.

Kevin: Yeah, oh, yeah.

John: That’s how small we’re getting. All right guys take care and we’ll talk to you soon.

Mark: Thanks John.

1 Why is Local Search So Important?

Marketing podcast with David Mihm

In answer to the question in the title of this post, chew on a few of these stats:

  • 82% of local searchers follow up offline via an in-store visit, phone call or purchase (TMP/comScore)
  • 74% of internet users perform local searches (Kelsey Group)
  • 61% of local searches result in a purchase (Search Engine Watch)
  • 59% of consumers use Google every month to find a reputable, local business (Search Engine Watch)
  • 37% of all searches are done on mobile (ClickZ)
David Mihm

David Mihm

If  you own a business that thrives on doing business locally, you must understand how businesses in local markets are found today.

Sure, a lot of people find local businesses by asking a friend for a recommendation and if you are lucky enough to have made a positive impression on said friend there’s a chance your business will benefit. But, as the stats above reveal, today you must show up strong when people inevitably turn to a search engine – even after a recommendation from a friend – to find local goods and services.

My guest for this week’s episode is one of the world’s foremost local SEO experts and Director of Local Search Strategy for Moz.com, David Mihm.

Questions I ask David:

  • What is the difference between local SEO and traditional SEO?
  • What changes do you foresee in local SEO in the future?
  • How has content marketing affected local search?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • How location changes your search results on Google
  • How reviews, even industry specific reviews, are affecting search results
  • What is a knowledge card, and why it matters now and in the future

Check out Moz.com’s local search learning center at https://moz.com/learn/local

If this topic seems appealing join me for a live webinar – How to Win With Local Search – Thursday, May 28th – Noon CDT (GMT-5) – Enroll here

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Hostgator, where you’ll get 24 hour live support via chat, phone or email, 1-click WordPress installs, easy-to-use website builder, design services, marketing services like SEO and PPC, and for my listeners: a 30% Discount. Go to www.Hostgator.com/promo/ducttape

6 5 Local Search Tactics You Must Employ Today

This post is one in a series of tips designed to guide small business owners through the challenges of today’s startup environment and is sponsored by Canon MAXIFY – the printer lineup designed to help small business owners increase productivity so that they can focus on everything else that matters. For more information about the Canon MAXIFY printer lineup visit here 

Search is pretty much everything these days.

photo credit: D.Clow - Maryland via photopin cc

photo credit: D.Clow – Maryland via photopin cc

Even businesses that rely on people in their town, coming into their place of business to complete a transaction, are held to the fact that, increasingly, most buying decisions start out with an online search.

The category of local search engine optimization has picked up steam over the last few years as search behavior combined with the rapid growth of smart phone use created a truly mobile search consumer. Services like Yext have cropped up just to help tackle this very specific form of SEO.

Below are five local search tactics that demand your attention today if you are a local oriented business.

Get the NAP right

NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone and the search engines obviously want to make sure that when someone is looking for a local business there’s no ambiguity around what and where the business is.

Google depends upon list and data compilers to make sure this information is accurate and up to date. If you’ve been in business more than a few months there’s a good chance your business is in one or more of the directories that Google depends on, but in addition to adding business to these directories you must make certain that the information is correct and consistent.

MOZLocal is a great free tool for analyzing the current state and gaps in your directory listings.

Local profiles matter

Profiles in social, local and review sites such as Yelp, can be a great place to add lots local information.

While many people are familiar with the more popular networks such as Google+ and Facebook, there are other important directories that might help in giving your local business an edge. MOZLocal is one of the best tools for automating this process.

Localize your content

Many people forget to consider their web content and make sure that they are adding localized content where it makes sense. Obvious things like blog posts with suburb names and maps with directions are a must, but you might also consider adding a community calendar and blogging about events that happen in your town.
The Yoast Local SEO Plugin is an invaluable tool for optimizing content on WordPress sites.

Consider adding location specific landing pages where you might have content specific to a suburb, town or even neighborhood.

Reviews drive local trust

Reviews are one of the many ranking factors Google throws into what businesses show up for a local search. If you search on a term like “SEO” and Google thinks you are in say, in Kansas City, you are going to see a list of Kansas City based SEO companies.

If you do this search yourself take note of the fact that all of the local pages listed also have Google+ Pages associated and while not all have reviews, the ones that do certainly stand out.

Get serious about collecting reviews! Tools like Grade.us and GetFiveStars can help make this process more streamlined.

Local social

Don’t forget to add to your overall local approach by localizing much of your social media activity. As mentioned above, your profiles are a great place to start, but you can go beyond that as you post new content and updates.

Think about ways to curate local content to share in social media. GeoTarget your social media advertising with local personalization. Find and use popular localized hashtags. See if anyone has created local Twitter lists of influencers you can tap into.

When you work consistently on the local search tactics outlined above you can expect to gradually start raising your local search profile to the point where Google may become your greatest source of leads.

 

Canon will be spotlighting several small business owners on its social media channels throughout the next several months, so be sure to leave a comment and share your thoughts on this post using the hashtag #MAXIFY in order to qualify. If you are a U.S.-based small business owner (1-9 employees) and have faced a unique business challenge in your first year on the job, let us know! We’d love to hear what line of work your small business falls within and what you feel is the most important takeaway from this post. We’ll also be rewarding select small business owners with a prize pack including the Canon MAXIFY MB5320 printer as well as other essentials to help you run your business more efficiently. So don’t forget to leave a link to your website or social media pages that way we can see how well you’re marketing your business and get in touch!

19 How Can I Get My Local Business to Rank Higher in Search?

Friday is “Question of the Week” day here at Duct Tape Marketing. Each Friday I’ll tackle a specific question I received via readers or in places where I’m speaking. Submit your question here and if we use it we’ll highlight you and send you a signed copy of Duct Tape Marketing.

For today’s answer I wish I could say there was some magic pixie dust, but the fact is getting your local business to show up high in the search results takes some work.

For the local business the goal must be to move into what is referred to as the Google Local Pack – those 6-8 listing that show up for a local search. This is particularly important on mobile devices that are often pinpointing local only.

The Google Local Pack

There are many factors and of course a great deal has to do with the competitive nature of your particular industry.

However, there are several tried and true steps that you should take in order to give your business the best chance possible

Clean up your NAP

NAP is the directory acronym for Name, Address and Phone. This data clearly tells that a business is local and guess what – if you’ve been around for a while there’s a good chance some data source has this wrong.

Here’s how to assure you have an accurate NAP listing in as many places as possible.

Go the USPS site and get the correct address format for your business

Check with these major data providers to ensure your listing is complete and accurate.

Get listed

Now that your listing is accurate with the data folks, make sure that you listing in some of the more popular online business directories. Claim enhance these profiles.

One of the best tools for doing this is getlisted.org – this free tool will find your listing or lack of in some of the major directories and lead you to the place where you can edit and add.

Brightlocal is another very powerful paid tool for improving your local presence.

Get reviewed

Reviews carry a lot of weight, both with search engines and would be customers. You must get serious about this aspect of local search. Note the image above – the site that ranks #1 in Google has the best review profile.

The three most important place to focus your review work are

  • Google+Local – Google want your business on Google+ so they’ve moved the local pages there. Start building your local page and focus on getting more reviews.
  • Yelp – On top of being the biggest review site Yelp provides Bing Local results.
  • Foursquare – this location based check in site is working hard on becoming a local directory and should not be ignored.

Bing local listings

Localize your pages

One of the most overlooking opportunities is the local nature of the content on your site. Make sure you:

  • Add your NAP in Schema.org format to every page
  • Add local terms such as suburbs, neighborhoods, places and events in your titles and subtitles.
  • Create localized happenings and news pages
  • Create site sections or landing pages dedicated to local phrases.

For WordPress users one of the best things you can invest in is the Local SEO for WordPress plugin from Yoast. This plug in will handle a great deal of the techie stuff for you and let you do some nice things with maps and directions.

31 One Simple Tactic That Can Give You an Unfair Advantage in Local Search

Showing up in local search results is a pretty big deal if you’re any sort of local business. When people search online locally, but plan to buy offline locally, being the organization they find first and find when mobile could mean the difference between growth and death.

While lots of people publish tips about Google Places pages, local web content, address citations and the sort, not enough people are talking about the power of local video when it comes to gaining an advantage in local search.

Many people are talking about video from a content standpoint and I agree, but what about locally optimized video for SEO. I’ve seen this intentional tactic produce some pretty incredible results in a very short time – particularly when it comes to a Google and YouTube combination.

See, here’s the deal – Google wants to give people interesting search results and as often as possible that includes a mix of local Places pages, videos, products, images and blog posts all mashed together on page one for specific search phrases.

Local businesses that get good at producing and optimizing video can find their YouTube videos zapped to page one for highly competitive search terms with very little effort.

I did a little test over the weekend to prove this theory. Granted there may be other factors at play here, but here’s what I and I believe you can do it too.

I am hosting a couple workshops in Kansas City in June. Since this is for me a rare local play I wanted to see what could do to get some local search results. So, here’s what I did.

  • I created a very brief video recorded directly to YouTube.
  • I even did a little bit of editing using the new YouTube Tools
  • I named the video Kansas City Marketing Workshop and Training
  • I added a description with this term
  • I added keywords that related to the term
  • I saved the video
  • I embedded the video on a page on my site.
  • I pointed to the video on YouTube from my Facebook page

Total time invested was about 15 minutes. About 30 minutes later this video showed up on page one for the search term – “Kansas City Marketing Workshop”

Kansas City Marketing Training and Workshop video

A day later it moved to the #2 position for the search term and #4 position for the term Kansas City Marketing Training. I conducted these searches logged out of my Google account and even received the same results using private browsing in Safari.

There’s no telling how long this video will stay at the top of the results for my search term, but it certainly reinforced the idea that this is a powerful way to gain additional local search results while creating useful content.

Below are tips to keep in mind as you explore this tactic:

Do the keyword research

Use a tool like WordTracker or Google Keyword Tool to hunt for some search phases that make the most sense. You’re not looking for hyper competitive terms like “Marketing,” you’re looking for longer, less searched phrases that you can quickly impact.

Also keep in mind those frequently asked questions. Focus on making videos that address those issues.

Create multiple videos

The idea behind this approach is to create dozens of simple videos that allow you to build a library of content that addresses many of the things your prospects are searching for.

Make the videos sell

Make sure you add URLs and annotations to your videos so you can send people to pages that give them even more information.

Optimize for specific terms

Use the search phases you uncover as your video titles, in descriptions and as keyword combination. Do a search on YouTube for the phrase you are trying to win and see what comes up. Once you find the top videos in your search term make note of the keywords and borrow liberally.

Point to the videos

Google loves it when other sites point to videos that are hosted on YouTube. You can give your videos even more juice by linking to them from your web site, Facebook and other video hosting sites.

Experiment with the intriguing little tactic and you may uncover some pretty fantastic results for frequently searched terms that might not otherwise stand a chance of competing for.

10 5 Ways to Improve Local Search Results for Business

“This article originally appeared on the OPEN App Center. Visit www.theopenappcenter.com for more information and resources for streamlining and growing your business.”

Local SearchIncreasingly, when folks turn to a search engine, they aren’t looking for something around the world, they’re looking for something around the block. The good news for local businesses is they aren’t just looking; they’re jumping in the car, going out and buying what they find when they search.

Make it a priority to improve search results for your business, because this new way of finding and buying locally means that your business better show up in the top results when people turn to a search engine to shop locally.

Below are five local search engine optimization and search engine marketing plays that you can do today to improve your chances of coming up big in the local search game.

Be Geographically Complete.

Search engines want to return the best local search results, so make sure you have lots of local markers on your pages and pointing to your pages. Things like addresses, city names, suburb names, neighborhood names, zip codes, area codes, maps and directions are all markers that say your business is local. Sprinkle this kind of data liberally throughout your site and make sure you use city names in high priority text such as internal links and headlines.

You should also have geographic links pointing to your business. You can do this by adding local links and descriptions that point to your site in social media profiles and exchanging links with other local businesses and strategic partners.

Lastly, make sure the location data in the primary directory and data service providers is accurate and complete. Two of the best ways to accomplish this little technical piece is to visit GetListed.org or use the annual listing service of UBL.org

Be a Community Resource.

Another powerful way to improve local search results and amplify your local search opportunities is to create content that is related to your community, regardless of whether it directly relates to your products or services.

A great example of this might include coverage of local sporting events or festivals. A B2B example might include maintaining a calendar of networking events or business related seminars.

Using a little RSS magic and a bookmarking tool like Delicious, you could even automate the aggregation of news and other related content for neighborhoods with very little work.

The net effect is that you’ll improve local search results by creating content that offers value to local readers and this is just the kind of information the search engines value the most.

Create Neighborhood Pages.

If you serve a number of communities in a large metropolitan area, it’s probably a good idea to add suburb- or neighborhood-specific pages with extra information personalized to that part of town.

Some of your information on these pages might be identical, but try to make them as unique as you can so that the search engines see them as different pages or you won’t get them seen. You should add unique images with local descriptions, unique geographic terms and neighborhood descriptions or news.

You can also use these pages as landing pages for offline ads as well. If you want to promote your business in a suburban newspaper, for example, you can send readers to the unique page you’ve created for that suburb and create a more personalized experience.

Encourage Ratings and Reviews.

The local search directories created by Google, Bing and Yahoo play a large role in the local search results. If Google, for example, is convinced someone has a local intent in their search, either based on physical location or a geographic term in the actual search, they will return results of local Google Places pages.

It’s critical that your business claims and enhances its Google Places, Bing Local and Yahoo Local pages, but you must also start to proactively build reviews from happy customers on these pages as these reviews are a key contributor to a business showing up high in the local results.

Simply asking for reviews and pointing people to your Google Places page is a good way to start the review ball rolling

Take Advantage of Local Real Estate.

The final local search suggestion involves placing videos, images, and slides in a number of sharing sites such as YouTube, Picasa, Slideshare or Flickr. These free sites allow you upload videos and other assets. You can use these sites to host and stream your videos on your own site, but you can also use the fact that many people search these sites to draw local search traffic.

When you upload your files to these sites make sure you give the file local names, tag them with local terms and describe the content of the file with rich local descriptions. Most of these sites also allow you to geotag where the video or image was shot.

The various tactics to improve search results described above may seem like little things taken individually, but collectively they can add up to big results in the increasingly competitive local search engine game.

20 Making Local Reviews Part of the Content Strategy

Reviews from customers must be seen as an important part of the overall content strategy for any business, particularly local businesses. The fact that prospects have begun to expect to find reviews and rely heavily on those reviews when making buying decisions combined with the data that suggests search engines seem to be using reviews as a major component in local rankings, requires a major mind shift when it comes to addressing the category of reviews.

It’s no longer enough to sit back and hope you get some nice reviews from all those happy customers. In today’s increasingly competitive local search environment, you’ve got to make reviews a significant piece of your content strategy and build processes to make sure your business is focused on leveraging every review you can acquire.

It may seem like I’m being a bit overly dramatic here, but the reason I believe this is going to take a mind shift is that it’s also going to take some work, but right now the organizations that are working this angle hard are winning.

Here’s a mini case study to help illustrate this point: (This story is courtesy of Postling)

Park Slope Eye has a very fully developed Yelp business page

Dr. Justin Bazan of Park Slope Eye in Brooklyn has embraced social media and review sites with enthusiasm and it appears to be paying off. Park Slope Eye has over 100 positive reviews on Yelp and is approaching that number on Google Maps as well. Do a Google search for Brooklyn Optometrist and Park Slope Eye come up number one in the local listing.

An emphasis on reviews and social media is paying off for this local business

According to Bazan reviews are so important that they justify the extra work that may come with embracing the tactic. For example, Yelp has a review filter that holds reviews from people that don’t appear to be very active or have a level of credibility on Yelp. This filter is one of Yelp’s tools to keep people from gaming the system with fabricated reviews or reviews generated though campaigns. (The filter isn’t perfect, but it’s there.)

Credibility, in Yelp’s definition, evolves from the level of activity from the Yelper (ie. the level of engagement of the review, and a few other factors like how complete their profile is)

Since Park Slope was putting so much emphasis on reviews on Yelp, they were receiving them, but many were getting stuck in Yelp’s review filter and, while Buzan could see them in his account, they were not available publicly, so he added this step to his process.

“To get reviews out of the filter I went into my filtered reviews and pulled up the reviewer’s individual review of Park Slope Eye. I began to engage that review and reviewer. I sent the reviewer a compliment, a message, and voted the review as useful, funny, or cool depending on the context. I did that for all of the reviews. Lastly, I added them as a friend, which you can do as a business owner. After doing all of this the review was taken out of the filter and is publicly accessible.”

Okay, now understand that in order to get the kinds of reviews they get, they’re doing a few other things right, but this is a great example of how a local business, doing great things, can get great results for very little money using a customer content strategy and social media tools.

In fact, their own website is totally downplayed and somewhat ineffective (except I dig the Dave Brubeck music), but it doesn’t really matter because in their particular case, the reviews from Yelp and Google rise to the top when someone does a search, local or otherwise. (They even point to their Yelp page as their website in their Google Place page and on Facebook)

This kind of engagement around reviews and taking their creation on as a content strategy is the kind of grass roots marketing that every local business must embrace.

20 Rethinking Keywords and Mobile

Google mobile search and Google search are two different animals and understanding more about both has become a necessary evil. Currently, the results returned when doing a search on a mobile device can vary greatly from those done on a desktop (SEORoundtable)

The biggest difference being that Google figures if you’re on a mobile it’s likely your intent is more local focused – plus it’s easier to know exactly where the search is being conducted.

The other issue is that people turning to the mobile browser tend to search on that device a little differently, think more abbreviated, than they do on the desktop and that’s something we all need to understand a little better.

The Google Keyword Tool is a tool that every marketer must have in the toolbox as a quick way to understand some data on the kinds of things people are actually searching for – or at least the actual words and phrases they use most when looking for what you offer.

Google Keyeword Tool

You access mobile data through the "Advanced options" link

The tool recently received a nice little update with the addition of mobile search data. Using this tool is the first step to understanding the keyword differences inherent in mobile search. The reason I think this is such an important topic is that at some point mobile search will be the dominant form of search – it’s already there for some industries. (BIA Kelsey Report)

It’s time to start thinking about blending some of your keyword strategies to make them more mobile centric – and of course getting serious about local optimization. (5 Ways to Make Your Website Scream Local)

Some observation’s from playing with the tool

  • If you sell something that is mobile related or found primarily via a phone you’ll get far better keyword ideas
  • You can now have a much fuller picture of the search volume for phrases – mobile is doubling and tripling volume estimates
  • This is a pretty significant piece in the local search optimization game

Here’s Google’s official help page for using the Keyword Tool.

24 5 Ways to Get More From Your Google Place Page

I write a fair amount about local search because it’s an important topic that’s only going to become more important as millions upon millions of folks move over to smart phones to do their browsing and shopping.

The undisputed leader in all things search is Google and so it’s important to pay close attention to the shifting landscape of local tools and services created and supported by Google. You might want to start with this overview video from Google – How Local Search Ranking Works.

Google Place Pages

In today’s post I want to cover the Google Place page and make sure you understand some of the ways to get this centerpiece in the local search game working hard for you.

1) Claim – The first step of course is to claim your Place page. There’s a pretty good chance that a listing exists from a phone record so start with Add Your Listing page and see if you can locate by phone number. Once you do you’ll be given the chance to edit the listing. You will have to verify ownership and any changes to basic information will require that you verify again, but make sure you do it. Take the official Google Place Page tour here.

List your business name exactly as it is, don’t get cute by adding geographic terms as Google may whack you for this. List your address and even if you have a toll free number list your local number as the area code is a big location signal for Google (You can list more than one number.)

Home based business or businesses that want to designate a wide service area can choose this option in Service Areas and Location Settings and then list zip codes or service distance and then hide the home address from the listing if they like. – This video describes service areas.

2) Keywords, Categories, and Description – During the process of enhancing your profile you will get the chance to pick the category that best describes your business. You get to use 5 and you should add them all. Make sure you use the most accurate terms suggested by Google in their list, but you can create custom categories not on the list if they are indeed accurate. This is a place where Google gets a little miffed if you try to stuff location words in so be careful and don’t get too creative.

Use your description to get your important keywords and location terms in – blah blah blah a keyword and keyword service serving city, suburb and neighborhood – but don’t stuff, make these read well to human eyeballs.

3) Add Video and Images – Google gives you the ability to add photos and video and you should take advantage of this. In fact, you absolutely should add at least one photo, even if it’s just your logo, as it will show next to your listing in place searches. You get the chance to upload a photo from your computer, but consider adding images to Google Picasa or Flickr and taking the time to geotag them. This way when you add the photos by giving Google the URL to the photo you get some extra geographic data.

You can list up to 5 YouTube video URLs and my feeling is that if these are described, optimized and geotagged well on YouTube (a Google company) it can only help your cause. Video embedded in your page also makes for a more engaging page when someone shows up too.

4) Google Tags and Google Boost – Tags and Boost are two new local advertising options for your Place Page and they do cost money. By purchasing either of these options you won’t enhance your chances to show up higher in Google’s index, but you can make your listing stand out and they may be worth the fairly low cost.

For a flat monthly fee of $25, businesses can enhance their listings that appear on Google.com and Google Maps with a yellow tag that emphasizes specific information such as a coupon, video, website, menu, reservations, photos, or a custom message.

Boost enables business owners to easily create online search ads from directly within their Google Places account. This way your local ads show up in the sponsored results and you get a blue pin instead of a red one. (Not available everywhere yet – use this form to get notified when it’s available in your city)

5) Rate and Review – Anyone visiting your Google Place Page can write a review as long as they have a Google account. Ratings appear to play a fairly significant role in getting your Place Page to rank well although Google won’t say much on the subject. Getting lots of positive reviews, even if they weren’t a ranking factor is good for business. While you don’t want to create anything that is fake you do want to put some energy into stimulating reviews.

  • Any time a customer compliments ask for a review, post those reviews in other prominent places such as your store and website.
  • Go through your list of customers and highlight those with GMail addresses – there’s a good chance they are can more easily participate.
  • Get in the habit of reviewing your business customers, suppliers and partners – check out the Google Hotpot tool.

The local search game will continue to evolve, but don’t pass up this chance to start building your local foundation right now!