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Stay Ahead of Your Competition with Online Marketing
If your business is not visible on the internet, you are giving your competition an easy opportunity to attract a lot more customers than you. You probably stay plenty busy running your business and don't have a lot of time to bother with online marketing, but it could be the most cost-effective way to publicize your local business.
Of course, you advertise in the Yellow Pages, so new and repeat customers can find you when they need you, right? That is right, for people who still use the telephone book when they need a product or service.
But, in today's cyber-connected economy, fewer and fewer people search the telephone directory for local information. Think about it. If you want to find the best barbecue in a town you are visiting for the weekend, are you going to thumb through the local phone book, or are you more likely to use your smartphone or laptop to find what you need? The barbecue joint with the best local online marketing strategy is likely to get your attention.
According to research conducted by Google (who admittedly might have a conflict of interest over the outcome), over 90 percent of consumers look for products and services online. Of greater importance to small business owners, out of the billions of online searches every month more than one in five is someone looking for local information. Put a smartphone in a consumer's hands and more than one third of his or her searches will be for something local.
So, what is the best way to tap into this vast pool of potential customers? The fastest way is to buy paid advertising to attract internet visitors to your business. But, writing, placing and managing effective paid online advertising is not easy and it can cost you a lot more than you get in return if you are not careful. Another consideration is that paid ads only work as long as you keep paying for them.
A better approach might be to use free or inexpensive methods to attract visitors via search engines like Yahoo, Google and Bing. Local marketing relying on internet traffic can be very effective if you understand how to make it work for you. If you build a visible online presence, your business will benefit from it for many years with very little ongoing expense.
Your local online marketing strategy can be very simple. You may want to pay an internet marketing expert to do the work for you, since it is time-consuming and you may not want to handle your marketing yourself, but you should have a basic understanding of the following steps in the process:
You don't absolutely have to have a website, but it definitely helps to have one. Your website will be the central focus of your local online marketing efforts. It is where potential customers will find the information they need to decide to call you or visit your store.
Pay attention to on-page factors that improve your site's search engine rankings. These include optimizing the site title and description that appear in the search results pages, and proper use of key search phrases on your pages to help searchers find your business online.
Use off-page strategies to get the search engines to rank your site higher than your competitors' sites. These include getting other sites to link back to your site, listing your business in relevant online directories, maintaining an active Google local listing, and participating in social media like Facebook and Twitter.
You can make use of your free Google "Maps" or "Place Page" listing even if you don't have a website (although it is even more powerful if you have a website). If you know how to claim and optimize your "Place Page" it can be a very effective marketing tool, since it presents information about your business and is likely to rank high in the search results. You can even offer your customers special deals and coupons via your Google Places listing.
Compared to traditional print, radio or TV advertising, or expensive pay-per-click internet advertising, attracting free online search traffic to your business is inexpensive. It will create visibility for your business that will attract new customers for years to come. Get started today and keep a step ahead of your competition.