How (949) Local Will Thrive in 2014


[schema type=”organization” orgtype=”LocalBusiness” url=”http://949local.com” name=”(949) Local Internet Marketing” description=”Internet marketing for small business in Orange County, CA” street=”26040 Acero” city=”Mission Viejo” state=”CA” postalcode=”92673″ country=”US” email=”info@949local.com” phone=”(949)573-2125″ ]HAPPY NEW YEAR!…Now get to work!!

As 2013 came to a close did you ponder the course of your business over the the past year? Did you say to yourself, “Thank God I survived” or “Thank God I thrived”?

Whichever way you answered, I hope that you considered your actions that contributed most to your survival or your growth. I hope also that you began to formulate a plan for 2014 that builds upon those positive actions of last year and incorporates a few new actions to take your business to the next level.

No doubt you will get a lot of strong advice both online and offline from business “gurus” telling you to do (or don’t do) this or that in the year ahead. I suspect you will be relieved to know that I’m not going to do that. Instead I’m going to tell you what (949) Local is going to do to survive and thrive in 2014. If my planned actions resonnate and you decide to add them to your own plan, great!  If not, that’s fine too. After all, everyone’s plan should be unique to themselves and their own circumstances.

I’m not much different than many of you reading this now. I run a small business and was blessed that it thrived as more clients entrusted us with their online marketing in 2013, most of whom were referred from other satisfied clients. And we were also blessed in being able to perform for them despite some very challenging twists and turns presented by the search engines and “You Know ‘Goo…’” in particular.

Now as 2014 dawns, we think of how we want to continue to grow in this new year and how we’re going to do it.

We’re Going to Get More Online Reviews!Yelp

Brace yourself. A digital marketer is going to confirm what you already know: “Word of mouth is the best marketing tool for your business”. And mine too judging by the referrals (949) Local received last year.

As much as I appreciate referrals, I need to channel them and promote them as well, especially online. In a survey done last June by Myles Anderson on SearchEngine Land, 79% of consumers say they trust an online review just as much as they trust a recommendation by a friend.

I am, however, a little shy about asking clients for their referral, even online. And, in the past it hasn’t always been very easy to direct (channel) them to the review site I desire e.g. Google, Yelp, etc. One of the best new tools we adopted (for our clients anyways) is one which sends an email out to recent customers which asks a few general questions on their recent experience. If the customer replies with positive ratings another email is sent to thank them and asks one more small favor: Now go to your favorite review sites and tell the world. “Buttons” are embedded in the email that will take them directly to the client’s page on Google+, Yelp or any other review site we want to channel them to.

If, however, their rating of their experience is less than stellar it gives us the “heads up” and we can then personally reach out to the customer to address their concerns directly, before they post a negative review online. Then, when the customer is satisfied, their feedback is requested again and once we are reasonably certain that their previous concerns are resolved and they are now satisfied, direct them to our pages on various review sites. Voila! We gain valuable feedback, build additonal goodwill and get a marketing boost. Talk about turning a negative into a positive!

We’re Going to Be More Active on Social Media!

So many clients and local business owners we know groan and moan when this topic is brought up. I get it! I too find it challenging to set aside even a small amount of time to go to my Facebook or Google+ Page and write something relevant and interesting. However, one key development in local search in the past year is a business’ activity, and online interaction in social media. So if our postings on Google+ will improve our search rankings throughout Orange County, I’ll make the time.

Some clients tell us they just can’t think of anything worthwhile to write (or post) on. I had the same challenge. Then I started visiting the groups I belong to on LinkedIn relevant to Orange County business and my business and found opinions that I either agreed with or not. I replied to posts there and more important, the online discussion helped crystalize my thoughts on the topic so I could share them on other platforms like Google+, Facebook, the (949) Local blog and our newsletter.

We also set up alerts on Google to tell us whenever something relevant to my business was found online. Every day my Gmail delivers new announcments, opinions and happenings in my business and my community. Yes, a lot of it is self serving PR releases but also a lot of good discussions that I can weigh in on. This helps keep my social content fresh (and therefore more relevant) and helps position me further as an expert in my field and my community of Orange County.

We’re Going to Advertise More Online!

Not unlike the topics above, this too pleads, “Oh doctor, heal thyself!”. After all, we are in the search marketing business and constantly trumpeting the vast advantages to Google Adwords. And, if I do say so myself, we’ve gotten pretty darn good at crafting high performing and measureable campaigns.

Google AdwordsAs said before, “word of mouth” marketing is the most effective vehicle. Right behind that, in our opinion is organic search positioning, which (949) Local is also blessed to be highly ranked in. To see what we mean, just go to Google and type in the search bar:

There (you better) see (949) Local positioned at the top of the local search results. We have a lot of clients that found us this way. However we work in a field with lots of local competitors and we will never rank over another online marketing company, say in Irvine, when someone specifies Irvine in their search query. There are just too many local competitors between here and there to expect to rank in that “local pack”. That is where Adwords comes in.

We can get Page One visibility in Irvine or any other communities we desire with our message plastered at the top of the page of search results on queries (or keywords) that we want. We set our daily budget so we don’t go broke in the process. We craft numerous ads to determine what prompts folks like you to call us. When one works, we run with it. When one doesn’t, we dump it. We constantly monitor, adjust and experiment with the ads themselves, the keywords that trigger the ads, the bid amounts, etc. etc. etc. It, like most online marketing, just takes time to perfect.

We’ve run a number of campaigns over the past year which have performed very well. It’s true, search marketing (Pay-per-Click or PPC) can be really expensive if you don’t stay on top of it and know what you’re doing. But with more clients using us to manage their online campaigns, we spent more time optimizing their campaigns than we did on our own. So, we are confident that we know what we’re doing. Just not that confident that we will dedicate the time necessary to manage it as effectively as we do for our clients.

However, we’ve invested a lot over the past year in a number of software tools to help us execute better for our clients that improves performance while saving us a bunch of time. That bunch of time will be allocated to promoting our business effectively, fine tuning the execution of processes on our client’s behalf and growing (949) Local overall in 2014.

Conclusion

Those are three things that we are resolved to do in 2014, so consider yourself forewarned. If you are a client, expect us to hit you up for your feedback and a online review. If you are a Facebook “Friend” or in our Google “Circles”, expect to see more compelling and engaging posts to get your mind turning. And if you find yourself in need of some help in navigating the increasingly complex waters of local Internet marketing and don’t immediately think of (949) Local (shame on you!), expect to see us at the top of your search results page on Google when you go there to find help.

We believe that 2014 is going to be a great year for (949) Local, our clients and all local businesses. Let’s resolve to thrive, and not just survive, together.  Give us a call if we can help or you just want to bounce some ideas off us.

Happy New Year!

(949) Local’s Online Marketing News – November 2013


What Is The One Thing You Can Do This Month To Help Your Search Rank?

Ask Your Customer to Post a Review of Your Business Online…It Will Help Your Ranking!

It’s no secret that Google keeps its algorithm that determines who ranks first to last a BIG SECRET.  No one, outside of a few “Googlers” know for sure.  So each year David Mihm of Moz takes a survey of local search experts from around the world asking them what they think are the most (and least) important ranking factors for businesses in local search, Google in particular.  This survey is one that we look forward to every year as it  always offers some great clues to help our client’s search rank.  And with all the chaos of this past year in Google’s local search platform, boy, we could use some clues.

Online Reviews for Pat Hurley Guitar Lessons

Perhaps the biggest change in this years ranking factors versus last years is the strength of online reviews.  While the quantity of “native Google reviews” comes in #12 under “Foundational Ranking Factors”, under “Competitive Difference Makers” online reviews comes in at #3 (Quantity of reviews by authority reviewers), #6 (Quantity of Native Google Places Reviews) and #12 (Quantity of Third-Party traditional reviews).

Do you have a strategy in place to get good reviews from your customer?  A good start is to get your customer’s email address (hopefully, you have had them forever).  Within a day or two of a transaction with you, send them a “Thank You” email and ask them whether their recent experience with your business was up to snuff.  If their reply is negative, contact them immediately to address their dissatisfaction and find a way to make it right.  If however they reply with positive feedback then send them another one now including links to each review site that your business is listed on e.g. Google+, Yelp, CitySearch, etc.

This way you head off a bad review at the pass, before they’ve likely had a chance to go online and dump on you.  If they have had a great experience, giving them a quick and easy way to tell the world how great you are will increase the chances that they will take that one extra step.

Google’s Hummingbird Is NOT Just Another Update

You know how hummingbirds fly almost silently?  That’s how Google’s latest “update” to its search algorithm seemed to even those in the SEO community.

Google's Hummingbird Update

Most likely, you haven’t heard of “Hummingbird” or noticed any change in Google at all.  Don’t feel alone as many SEOs didn’t know it even existed until a month after it went live.  Unlike Google’s previously well publicized updates like Panda and Penguin (what’s up with Google’s fixation on animals?), Hummingbird was kept hush-hush.  And this bird is a whole new animal.  In fact, it’s a whole new algorithm that draws upon a bunch of new “signals” to determine what to present to you when you search for something on Google.  These new signals include your social media footprint, what type of device you are searching on and lots more.

In the past (like in September), Google matched the keywords that you type into the search query bar with their huge database of websites and businesses looking for matching words.  Now, rather than just matching words up Google is trying to figure out what your intention is.  For instance, if you are in San Diego and you use your cell phone to search Google for “pizza”, Google may figure that you are on the road and will deliver results of restaurants in San Diego that serve pizza.  On the other hand, if you are using your desktop computer at home to search for “Pizza”, it may show you results for take out or delivery.  Now the search results you see  on your screen for a query could be completely different than the same query done at the same time in the same area on someone else’s device.

How will Hummingbird affect your business and local search ranking?  Probably not much…yet. Hummingbird will take some time to get to know the neighborhood.  But Google has always been a pretty quick study so it shouldn’t take long.  However, now that you know that the playing field of local search has changed in a fundamental way, you can most likely take advantage before your local competition does.  Lots of clients and others moan and groan about Google+, Google+ Local, Google+ for Business, etc. etc….They say, “Too much!  I don’t have time to post, don’t care about what my ‘friends’ had for lunch. I just want more business!”  I hear you and I feel your pain.

But get over it!  Seriously folks, you need to embrace this.  It is a whole new ball game.  And those who adapt to this new game will reap big rewards in the short term until most of your competitors figure out something is different.  Then you will benefit long term as your position is solidified by your continued attention to the new dynamic.

Have questions about how to best take advantage of this opportunity?  How to get started?  How to find relevant stuff to write about on your Google Plus (whatever)?  Contact us and we’ll be glad to get you started.  Or, we’ll be glad to take the burden off of you completely so you can take care of your customer.

Google Is A BIG Dog, But Not The Only Dog In The Yard

Having a strong visibility on Google local search is important for sure.  But Google isn’t everything even if it powers 70% of all online searches.  What about the other 30%?  Namely, Bing and Yahoo.  Those two combined make up nearly all of the rest of online searches.

Google Is A BIG Dog!

Google is a big dog, but he ain’t the only dog in the yard.

Many times when we take over a client’s local search positioning from another “big SEO company”, we are constantly amazed that the “other guys” never registered the business on Bing or Yahoo.  This is like telling 3 out of 10 potential customers that you don’t want their business.  So don’t forget to submit your business and website to these search engines also.

Bing and Yahoo are not nearly as robust as Google (in our humble opinion) and their (mis)handling of local search queries is frustrating.  But if they can drive even one new customer to you, why not take the time to submit your business profile and take a shot on their map as well?

You know who else constantly monitors Bing and Yahoo?  Google!  When they see your business listed there, they match the record with theirs and you gain more credibility (or relevance, as we say in the search world).  And your business will eventually begin to rank higher on “the mother of all search engines” as well.

Does (949) Local craft custom profile pages on Bing and Yahoo?  Well…yeah…duh!  We even create our client’s Google+ pages of all varieties (Google+ Local, Google+ Business, etc.).  But wait, there’s more!  We also create custom profiles on dozens of local and national directories to strengthen our client’s citation portfolio.  What’s a “citation portfolio” you ask?  Oh, we really need to talk.  So call us now.  Operators are standing by!