Local Small Businesses and the Search Engines – Geo-Targeting

“If you, as a local business person, choose to ignore the trend, you’ll miss a window of opportunity which will remain open only until all your competitors have jumped on the band-wagon, and the playing field is level again. Until that happens — as it will — you have the chance to get ahead of the rest, and establish yourself at the top. It’ll be harder later!”

Geo-Targeting – What’s that?

Something every local business operator should know!

More and more people nowadays are using Web search engines to find and compare local shops and businesses for their goods and services, and those local small businesses which are unaware of or ignore this fact are suffering an ever-increasing disadvantage.

Many people see little or no use for a local or regional business to have a Web site to promote their goods or services. After all, the Internet is a global thing, right? Wrong! There are several ways to promote a Web site locally or regionally, so that it brings in a disproportionately large volume of local traffic. Any business owner not using a Web site to promote a local or regional business is making a huge mistake, and ultimately leaving money on the table.

The factors now encapsulated in the field of search engine optimisation (SEO) are varied yet simple. Time and time again, however, Web site owners fail to see some of the most recent naturally occurring ‘common-sense principles’ behind an effective and successful SEO strategy. This article brings to light the most recent important change in SEO: Geo-Targeting…

The trend…

The increase in on-line purchasing generally has led to more consumers using the Web to look for goods and services in their local area. For many obvious reasons they prefer to deal with a local business than one far away.

If customers are looking to buy jewellery, and they are located in Essex, England, it is very common for them nowadays to append “Essex” to their search, or even “Southend”, if that’s the town where they live. So, instead of looking simply for “jewellery” they will search for “jewellery Essex”, “jewellery Southend”, or a similar variation of this.

“Local Search — using Internet search engines and on-line business directories to find local traders — is growing at an extraordinary pace. Figures in the US, comparable to the UK, show that 63 percent of all on-line users performed a local search in July 2006. This is a 43 percent increase year on year. On-line local searches do lead to customer action. The same study showed that 50 percent of all local searchers visited a local merchant as a result of their search behaviour, while 41 percent made contact off-line.” (Source: comScore networksmarketwire.com)

When it comes to consumers making a purchase, local search has more of an impact than national search. At the Search Engine Strategies Conference & Expo, held in London in 2007, John Myers of Latitude said that users are 30 percent more likely to purchase a product or service when it is related to local search. Speaker Grant Muckle from Touch Local said that 40 percent of all on-line searches are local in the UK.

The cycle…

These statistics are nothing less than phenomenal. At LocalShoppers.co.uk we think that the “art of shopping” is reaching a full cycle, but on another level. Before the Web, consumers bought locally, unless there was a good reason not to. The reasons are obvious: the travel time and expense saved by buying locally at, perhaps, even a higher price than in the next town compensated for the lower price there; likewise if the goods had to be returned for any reason, or the merchant had to supply spare parts, etc., etc.

With the advent of Web sites, consumers slowly but surely came to trust the technology, and now order goods from all over the world. Astute merchants, however, are beginning to realise that traditional shopping principles still apply. After all, they’ve hardly changed for millennia, and are entrenched in our psyche. It is these astute merchants, often small businesses and even ‘one-man bands’, who are jumping on the Internet band-wagon, and, knowingly or unwittingly, are driving the trend full circle towards shopping locally, merely by having a presence on the Web.

The future…

This is not to say that global shopping has had its day. On the contrary, it will continue to grow, but, now that the initial euphoria of being able to buy anything from anywhere is subsiding with blasé acceptance, people are coming back down to earth, and the in-bred habits of shopping locally are resurfacing. The big difference is that consumers will continue to use the Web as a tool, simply because it is there, just as they did after the advent of the telephone.

Indeed, the telephone can be seen easily as a direct precedent. It appeared first in only a few homes, and was a luxury. Then, as it became cheaper, it became more popular. Nowadays the telephone is an integral part of almost everyone’s life, and people use it to order goods and services quite naturally. Even schoolkids regard a telephone as a necessity! Now think about the on-line computer: Sound familiar? History is repeating itself.

An on-line computer has, of course, several advantages over the telephone: You can see what you’re buying; You can look for what you want at any time of the day or night; You can get far more information about the product or service, and about the merchant; You don’t need actually to talk to anyone; There’s a visible record of the offers being made, thus avoiding misunderstandings; etc. An important benefit of the on-line computer over the telephone is that comparison shopping is now so much easier and quicker. It’s human nature to want the best deal, and people are finding it on the Web. What better opportunity, then, is there for local businesses to display their wares than the one now presenting itself?

The local merchants and tradespeople who grasp the significance of the Web quickly, and take action to be a part of it, will be the ones who will be ahead of the game, and will already have an established presence by the time their slower competitors realise that they must follow them.

The opportunity…

Customers looking for goods or services are becoming more savvy. They now know that, if they search for “magnotherapy”, for example, they’ll get almost 100,000 results to choose from. If they type “magnotherapy essex”, however, they’ll get fewer than 1,000. That’s still a lot. If they enter their town in the search, like “magnotherapy canvey”, only about 100 results are returned. The more local the search phrase is, the fewer are the results.

Because consumers naturally feel more comfortable dealing with a local supplier, and they now understand how search engines work, it explains why more and more of them are performing such local searches.

If you, as a local business person, choose to ignore the trend, you’ll miss a window of opportunity which will remain open only until all your competitors have jumped on the band-wagon, and the playing field is level again.

Until that happens — as it will — you have the chance to get ahead of the rest, and establish yourself at the top. It’ll be harder later!

Setting Up Shop – Starting a Small Business

Making the decision to set up shop as a new small business can be one of the most exhilarating, and yet also one of the most challenging for most people to make. Here are three suggestions to reduce some of the challenge associated with starting a new business venture:

  1. Choose businesses with lasting demand, whenever possible
  2. A new business based on a short-term fad can work for a little while. However, a lasting business should be based on trends which are more likely to be continuous, since fads will come and go. Even if the demand should change, a business based on an ongoing trends will be able to adapt more easily than one which is based upon only temporary events. Carefully consider customer characteristics (demographics, psychographics, etc.) to improve the selection of a business which has customers with lasting demand(s) for the products and services that you offer.

  3. Choose businesses in superior locations
  4. Some geographic areas will naturally be better locations for target customer markets. All else being equal, customers tend to prefer closer locations to those which are far away, unless your product or service is capable of being provided remotely, at little or no cost. Locating near customers who have established patterns of buying from your type of business is ideal, and most likely to result in better business results overall. Look for indicators (new housing developments, apartment complexes, etc.) which will closely match the target customer characteristics, and market segments you seek to win over.

  5. Choose businesses which are in high-growth industries
  6. All things considered, it is best to pick a business in an industry which is experiencing high growth, as it is much better to get some of an available market, as opposed to having complete dominance of a market where there are nearly no customers left to serve profitably. Entering high-growth markets can also lead to profitably specializing in sub-segments of that market, as your firm develops more expertise. However, also realize that every industry eventually experiences a slowdown as well, so be certain your business plan includes preparation for surviving the inevitable slowdown, once it does occur. Your business should be somewhat diversified by then, to reduce your risks of depending entirely on one market.

In summary, it is best to choose a business based on lasting trends, which is in a superior location, and which is in a high-growth industry. By doing so, you maximize the odds that your business will succeed, and last well into the future.

Copyright 2010, by Marc Mays

Small Business – SEO Basics – Where Do You Begin Promoting Your Business Online?

Many small business make the mistake of beginning with their website when they want to begin promoting their business online. For those who are inexperienced, this would seem the logical place to start. Unfortunately, just having a website is not enough. You must be able to get traffic to the website in order to do business online.

Ideally, you would have consulted with an SEO specialist before having your site built. For most, that is not the case. There is a great deal to learn when it comes to how search engines work and how to get buying traffic to your website. You do not have that kind of time to spend. The logical solution is to hire someone with experience to help you along the way. It does not have to cost a great deal but you do need to spend money on your website to get the full potential from it and to bring your website in front of your prospective buyers.

One of the first things your web consultant will want to do is define who your target market is. This is done through keyword research and market analysis. Once your market is clearly defined and the choice keywords selected, you will be able to make the little changes to your website and all of your promotion materials that will bring traffic to your website. More traffic means more sales.

In a few months, once your website begins to build traffic, your consultant will be able to help you monitor the progress of your success. She will take the time to put together a monthly report so you will be able to see what is working and what is not. Once you see trends of success, you can then tailor your efforts and streamline them into spending more time on what is working and less time on what is not.

Because search engines and traffic trends are ever changing, your SEO consultant will be a valuable asset to your business. Their business depends on staying on top of these trends so you can be sure your website promotion campaigns are as current and effective today as they were in the past. You are busy running your business. You do not have time to spend staying on top of another industry, namely SEO.

Your SEO consultant will take the time to work with you to find a solution within your budget. Even small business, or should I say, especially small business, can benefit from a helping hand when it comes to SEO. This service is not reserved for big businesses. Who knows, when you start getting enough traffic to your website, your small business may just turn into a big business.

Internet Marketing for Small Business – The Vital Truth

As a small business owner it’s our natural tendency to approach everything with a hint of skepticism. There are so many ‘next big things’ that it’s oftentimes difficult to distinguish between a passing trend and a legitimate evergreen marketing strategy for a small business.

Skepticism or no, I’m willing to bet that by now you’ve started seriously eyeing Internet marketing for small business as a viable addition to your advertising repertoire; you’re starting to realize that this is something worth jumping on.

Let’s face it – Your competitors are doing it, so you should do it too lest you unknowingly give up a foothold in your niche.

Wait Just a Minute – What is Internet Marketing, Exactly?

Before we go any further I think it’s worth taking some time to clarify exactly what we’re referring to when we say ‘Internet Marketing’. If you’ve done any research at all on the topic of small business online marketing, you’ve probably seen a wide array of terms thrown about. It can be very confusing to learn anything at all about Internet marketing with a seemingly endless amount of ideas out there… How are you supposed to know what’s what? Well, below I’d like to briefly go over a few of the most common terms and methods that you should concern yourself with:

#1. Small Business Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Small business search engine optimization refers to getting your business’ virtual property listed on the first page of search engine results (most commonly in Google) for a select group of keyword phrases. Whether it’s a Google Places page, a YouTube video, a Facebook page or even your own website, the goal is to position yourself so that local searchers see YOU before your competition.It sounds complicated, but that’s why we’re here. The results of a successful SEO campaign can be enormous.

#2. Small Business Email Marketing / List Building

Small business email marketing is without a doubt one of the most powerful forms of lead generation out there. Imagine having the power to reach your loyal customers any time day or night with your newest and greatest promotions? Imagine being able to send your customers coupons, newsletters and other interesting content so that you’re constantly in contact with them, remotely building your brand in their mind’s eye? I’m sure with a little imagination you can start to see the possibilities… Email marketing is one of the most viable long-term marketing strategies for small business owners to consider. Your customers aren’t going to stop using email anytime soon, and the ability to stay in frequent contact with a customer even if they’re not visiting your actual place of business is too good to pass up. If you take nothing else away from this article, at least learn more about small business email marketing.

#3. Social Media Marketing for Local Businesses

This is the newest and greatest trend in the world of Internet Marketing for small businesses. Facebook alone has over 800 Million users worldwide, and most users spend a minimum of 6 hours per month on this website. As Facebook grows it’s an increasing amount of time YOU could be using to further your business. Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites are going to be some of the greatest marketing mediums of 2012 because they give you the ability to keep up with interested customers on a daily basis through websites that they’re spending lots of time on anyways. Why not take advantage of this opportunity?

#4. Pay-Per-Click Advertising for Direct Marketing

The next time you’re searching for something in Google I want you to pay attention to the right side of the screen. You should notice a few small ads that are separate from the search results. These are actually paid advertisements from Google’s AdWords program, and they’re a crucial aspect of small business online marketing.

The pay per click advertising (PPC) works is a simple 3 step process:
• Write a small ad for your business
• Pick keywords or locales to target
• Pay per click for traffic directly to your business’ website

Pretty easy, right?

This is a great way to start off your Internet marketing campaign because with Pay Per Click you get exactly the results you pay for. Want to give 100 new customers the chance to fall in love with your business? Pay for 100 clicks to your website… Done. I’m sure you can see the value in this kind of cost-per-lead advertising. Through proper lead generation and analytics you can have yourself quite a profitable campaign that runs virtually on autopilot.

And hey, want to really explode your customer base? Why not use PPC advertising to drive targeted traffic to your email newsletter so you can stay in contact with your new potential customers?

Why Internet Marketing for Small Businesses is a Good Investment

What holds back most small business online marketing campaigns that the business owners fail at marketing automation.

We’ve all learned this lesson: When you try to do everything yourself you inevitably fall behind in the areas you’re best at, and don’t get far enough in the areas you’re good at. The result is that your business slows down, and you don’t see as much revenue as you should / could. If time is money, then you can’t afford to spend an increasing amount of time on something that someone else could be doing faster.

That’s why when approaching Internet marketing for small business I recommend enlisting the assistance of a trained professional.

Time and time again we’ve seen a much greater ROI when the business owner focuses on running an outstanding business, while the Internet marketers do what they do best – Capture the interest of potential customers. Whether you decide to pursue small business search engine optimization to bolster the rankings of your website or social media marketing to get the word out through Facebook / Twitter, you can rest assured that you’ll see better results from someone who’s done it before.

Internet marketing for small business doesn’t have to be time consuming, and it’s certainly doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, an Internet Marketing campaign can be relatively cheap when compared with other marketing strategies for small businesses! As a small business owner you’d be giving up a lot if you limited yourself to offline marketing only, so I urge you to consider the techniques and methods outlined in this article. I’m sure you can find an Internet Marketing company or service provider who would be more than willing to help you with these internet marketing services so you can start finding new potential customers on autopilot. What are you waiting for?