local reviews can help local seo

Many facets go into a marketing strategy, and that’s what makes it so interesting. Marketers need to think about who their clients are and what their online search and shopping habits are. They also have to keep a keen eye on the competition, create similar angles that are better than the competition or break out of the box and do something completely different.

Factoring all of those issues and more, marketers have to accomplish their marketing strategies using the funds and resources that are available to them.

For smaller companies, the term “marketer” is often loosely applied to a company owner, employee or intern because of budgetary constraints. Some companies don’t even have the funds or technical wherewithal to put up a company website. Others create a simple, no-frills website and spend little or no time updating it.

A basic website is better than no website at all. Small companies with small budgets don’t need to break the bank to advertise online. A few great reviews, written and posted by local customers, go a long way towards helping new customers find your business among the local pack.

Get acquainted with Google My Business.

Your business can get some attention online, even if you don’t have a website, as long as you’re willing to take a few minutes to complete a Google My Business page. Google has done you the favor of setting up a blank template of a page that you can easily customize for your business — for free.

Google My Business is a user-friendly template that lets you add your company’s name, address, phone number, fax number, email address or other contact information. Your Google My Business page will enable your customers to call you right from the site and give them directions to find you in person.

When you’ve got new and exciting information or events to share with your customers, you can easily edit the page and let your customers know about it with a few short paragraphs and some images.

Business owners that have any amount of marketing know-how can also take advantage of linking, keywords, alt tags, meta descriptions and other search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Most importantly, your customers can leave a review on your Google My Business page. Whether the review is positive or negative, it gives you the chance to connect with them to thank them or offer to turn a negative experience around.

Google My Business has an easy-to-understand section called “Insights,” which tells you how your customers found you.
The platform can increase your business’s ranking, even if you don’t have a website or have one without many bells and whistles.

Reviews mean a lot to business owners — and Google loves them, too.

Local SEO Guide conducted its annual study of local SEO ranking factors and found that customer reviews were big players in search engine ranking for local search. The study analyzed more than 200 factors as they related to 100,000 businesses. 

The study also looked at other factors that help local businesses rank well. It found that local ranking factors are highly connected with organic ranking factors. Businesses that ranked well in organic searches also showed high in Google’s local pack. This leads me to believe that businesses can rank well in local packs even when website owners or marketers aren’t taking advantage of SEO strategies, like keywords and linking.

Exactly how do reviews correlate to local search?

What we can learn from this is that smaller companies may think that they can’t have a huge presence online, but a Google My Business page with lots of positive reviews on it can change all that quite nicely. Google will see lots of reviews on a Google My Business page, indicating that it is a local business that does well and has a great reputation with local customers.

Essentially, Google uses crowdsourcing to tell it whether a site is a company with a strong reputation. Google has a specified format for reviews, so that customers know how their review will appear. The tools for Google My Business make it hard for spammers to get in on the action and damage the customer’s reputation. If they get through, Google will crack down on unscrupulous spammers and hackers.

Quality and quantity matter equally in reviews.

The Google search engine takes a look at what reviewers are saying before making a judgment on rank. Google gives special attention in the local pack to reviewers who mention any of the keywords or the name of the city where the business is located.

I’ve noticed that websites that have high-quality link profiles nearly always rank well in local search. I’ve also noticed that sites with few or no links, and those that have poor-quality links, also rank well in the local search pack if the business has good reviews on Google My Business.

Here are a few final clues about local reviews.

Creating a website should be the highest priority for companies that don’t already have one. Website platforms are relatively easy to set up. Many templates have automatic updates, so some of them require little or no maintenance if that’s what you’re looking for.

With or without a website, ask your best customers to rate and review you on your Google My Business page. Encourage them to mention your services and your city.

With Google picking up the cost for the site and you putting forth some effort of your own, new clientele may be clicking and calling because they loved what other locals said about you.

SEO As A Primary Marketing Tool

Paid advertisements have long been a staple of the marketing industry. Advancements in technology showed us how to organize content so that potential customers could more easily find our offerings on the world wide web. This began the great debate of whether it was better to attract customers by educating and enlightening them or by splashing attention-grabbing ads where they couldn’t miss them.

In my career as a digital marketer, I’ve learned the pros and cons of search engine optimization and pay-per-click through experience. Marketers can use both for any type business if they master one important concept — understanding why they need to put more effort and resources into one rather than the other.

Going Back To The Basics

SEO and PPC can complement each other nicely. Are you marketing a product or a service? How well-established is your business? I’ve found that answering these questions are good places to start when making decisions about which marketing approach is likely to be more effective, or whether you need to use some combination of both.

This is when it helps to go back to Marketing 101. Are you clear about who your target market is? Where will your potential customers be looking to find the products or services that you’re offering? What words would you type into the internet search box if you were looking for the same product or service?

PPC As A Marketing Strategy

PPC tends to work well for companies that are offering products. Paid ads also work nicely when you have a new angle or new use for an existing product or service. When paid ads are designed well, PPC helps attract new customers quickly.

PPC puts your brand front and center right at the top of your webpage. Google will typically show four paid ads on a desktop. Mobile apps leave room for three paid ads topping the page. Paid ads give you a lot for your money because they give you room for a brief written description and a few “sitelinks.” Sitelinks are subsections of your ad that will take your customers directly to a page on your website for locations, specials, blogs, news or your about page. PPC ads also allow you to select your target audience by day, time, location, language, previous visits and other important parameters.

You need to keep a tight handle on your budget when using PPC. Many clicks are bound to bring you new business, but they can also waste your budget. I’ve found that it’s important to set a realistic budget for paid ads and monitor them often.

Another nice thing about PPC is that analytics make it easy to see whether your PPC ads are effective in real time. Getting quick feedback helps me make decisions about pulling ineffective ads. It also gives me an opportunity to increase my budget for ads that provide a strong return on investment.

SEO As My Go-To Marketing Strategy

I tend to use SEO as my primary marketing tool. That’s because I’ve found that SEO works extremely well for our business, a senior home care company, as well as companies that are primarily service oriented.

Over time, I’ve worked diligently to build a strong brand within my company. My current goal is to keep the brand in front of our target market. I want to establish Caring People as the authority on home health care and continue to build trust and credibility in our brand. Organic searches deliver greater volume to our website than paid ads. SEO is the most cost-effective strategy for us at this time because content is working great for us.

Using PPC To Enhance A Strong SEO Marketing Strategy

I believe that SEO offers a better value for the home-care industry because we offer personal services. Our customers want to know more about our company before they’re willing to invest their money in our staff. Articles, reviews and positive testimonials are the key to getting clients to make that first call asking for more information.

Despite the fact that SEO takes center stage in my marketing plan, I still regularly manage a medium PPC campaign. I’ve found that adding PPC ads to my marketing strategy adds enough spice to our efforts to draw in some new clientele. I use PPC at various times to highlight certain campaigns or to tie our services into current events. For example, this year we had a huge marketing campaign for National Grandparents Day. In using SEO and PPC together, we get more clicks overall. Greater numbers of clicks lead to conversions.

As a rule, PPC tends to work better for e-commerce companies. SEO tends to work better for services businesses that want to keep their brand visible while getting new clients. PPC can strengthen your SEO efforts nicely and vice versa. Of course, there are always a few exceptions to the rule. After SEO and PPC, monitoring and analytics are your next BFFs.

Digital Marketing Strategy For 2018

As I look at my digital marketing calendar for the year ahead, I’m equally enthusiastic and challenged by how I’ll need to fine tune my company’s digital marketing platform in 2018. My past and current marketing efforts have helped me further brand recognition, increase online leads and establish my company as an authoritative resource in the home-care industry. Next year, I want to push our marketing efforts even further.

In 2017, my main focus was on content marketing, SEO, PPC and PPL. Based on data collected over the last 12 months, I’ve decided that I need to shift my focus to organic search. Planning my content marketing strategy in advance and having great writers and graphic designers on hand makes a big difference.

In 2018, marketers should focus on anticipating user questions, needs and emotions in order to engage with them. To that end, I’m planning to focus my efforts on researching relevant topics that can answer user questions. Becoming a reputable source where people go to learn more before making the decision to purchase helps you build trusted relationships with customers, and happy customers become evangelists of your brand. Using data will help marketers develop great content, not only based on keywords but also on developing topics. A good marketer knows that this is the key to a long-term client/company relationship.

As a marketer, my audience has trained me well. I can tell what information they want and how they want to receive it just by watching and monitoring their behavior. The key to captivating your target market in 2018 is creating content that is not only engaging but also smart, timely and personalized.

Striking The Right Tone On Your Website

What would your website homepage say to a visitor if it didn’t have any words? Marketers need to choose their colors and images intentionally so that they deliver the right message that speaks for the brand. Today’s consumers have a sharp eye for overused stock photos. They’re more likely to be drawn in by photos, images and videos that blend in naturally with the webpage design. I intentionally chose photographs of active seniors socializing with caregivers and family members to enhance our website, which we designed in warm, pastel colors. The total effect feels personal and homey — just like our brand.

Having a website that balances user experience with SEO is a game changer. Simple language and the right call to action encourages customer interactivity. Big blocks of content, on the other hand, will overwhelm your visitors. A quick fix is to break down content with images, bullet points, icons and other graphic elements. Make sure that your website is intuitive and easy for users to navigate. Visitors to your website who can’t find information quickly won’t be back.

Make sure your content is relevant. Every section of your website should add value and have a purpose. For example, I added testimonials from our valued clients because our clients are looking for first-person assurance of a positive experience. When in doubt, leave it out.

Marketing In A Micro Moment

Technology has made it easier for marketers to learn the behavior of their customers. Making the most of micro-moments and smart technology will place you well ahead of the marketing pack in 2018.

Apps can tell us the geographical location of potential customers, the types of products they usually buy and the times of day that they tend to be on the internet. This is exactly the type of information that marketers need to pay attention to in the coming year.

One of the challenges of 2018 is how marketers can tap into this information to get their messaging in front of clients exactly when and where they need it. Why would someone shop around to the competitors when the perfect product or service popped up on their cell phone just as they were about to search for it? These are called micro-moments. Micro-moments attract shoppers who are ready to buy on impulse.

Here are a few tips for designing micro-moment ads:

• Give the shopper the main idea at a glance.

• Add a clear call to action.

• Make the call to action accessible in one touch.

• Optimize content for mobile apps.

Have you been delaying getting an online chat application for your website? Customers in 2018 expect to be able to chat with a knowledgeable professional right away. An online chat box is a valuable addition to your digital marketing efforts, if you haven’t implemented one yet.

Smart content also means differentiating content for prospects and current customers and personalizing the experience for each. Greeting someone by name when they revisit your site makes it a more personal experience. At my company, that personal experience ties directly into the mood of our brand.

Focusing On Content Development

Creative groups, either in-house or remote, are the digital marketing thought leaders of 2018. Creatives who specialize in writing, graphics or design know how to create meaningful content to attract prospects from all types of industries. Good writers know that the right words combined with the most appropriate images can tell the story of your brand in that micro-moment that ultimately captivates a prospect. Experienced writers and designers create the tone and voice that helps your prospects connect with your brand on a personal level.

The Wrap-Up On Digital Marketing Trends

As you finalize your marketing plans for the new year, the best advice I can give you is to think like your customer. Your customers are searching for your products and services while they’re waiting in line for their morning coffee. They’re commuting on planes, trains and ride-sharing services. Their downtime is your prime time. Challenge yourself to create a marketing plan that makes interacting with your business as easy as buying a cup of coffee.