What We’ve Been Thinking
search, mobile, app marketing, events and some random stuff.
search, mobile, app marketing, events and some random stuff.
Appearing in Google’s local search results can be immensely beneficial to most businesses. Especially small hyper-local businesses, who gain from the online equivalent of passing trade. Someone could be in your area, round the corner for instance, looking for exactly what you sell or provide. That person uses their smart phone to Google “…in Your Street” and if you’re set up correctly you will be at the top of their list of results. You are encouraging an easy sale and who doesn’t like an easy sale?
The question is, what’s the most efficient route to maximum opportunities? Sit back and relax while I take you there.
First, be aware that Google has changed the name of the product so often that I don’t know what to call it anymore – Local, Maps, Places, Business, Whatever. Different names, same thing. Let’s go with ‘Google Local’.
Setting up Google Local is pretty easy and quick. The only downside is the length of time it takes for Google to verify the listing.
In order to do this you will need a Google account. If you don’t have one then create one here. You’ll be using this account for other Google services which we will discuss later in the series.
If you follow the link above you can start to create a Google account. Click the Sign Up button at the top right of the page. The first page you’ll come across is the Personal Details page.
Fill out your details and move to the next stage.
If you’ve not got a Google account you’ll hit a page which will entice you to sign up to Google+. They use clever wording to disguise what they are doing. Ignore it for just now. We will return to it later in the series.
Next you’ll land on the page where you’ve to enter your business details. Google have simplified this process and it’s far easier that it used to be, simply because they want you to sign up to Google+ to develop your business profile.
More often than not, the next page will have other options of similar or closely located businesses. Sometimes it will have your business. This is because someone else set it up before you. If this is the case claim the business. If your business is not there then click ‘none of these match’ and move on to the next stage.
We are at the end HURRRRAAAAH! It wasn’t that hard, was it? You will see a text box where you enter the recipient’s name. Do that then click. You will see a confirmation overlay showing an example of the verification postcard. This is what Google sends you and inside is your verification pin.
Now. You might be thinking ‘Awesome! That’ll be here by the end of the week and I can start earning my place in local listings.’. Wrong! The time it takes for a card to arrive varies greatly. I’ve seen it go from one week to six. Make sure you don’t miss it because you have a long wait on another card.
That’s it. Fairly straightforward, eh? The other stages of local optimisation are just as simple. Stay tuned.
When you’re out and about you tend to meet people from all walks of life, from billionaire bankers to sandwich shop owners (we go out and about in some remarkable places). The former have no interest in what we at Miratrix do for a living, while the latter usually do and bombard us with questions on how to boost their footfall. This article, then, is the first in a series of blog posts dedicated to the little guys, the real heroes of the contemporary economy (so if you’re a billionaire banker, cool your Lear jets for now: we’ll get back to you soon).
Making hyper-local searches super-effective
To be even clearer, the series is designed to help those businesses who’d benefit hugely from hyper-local searches such as ‘cafe in’, ‘restaurants and bars in’ or ‘clothes shop in’.
We decided to create a resource to suit businesses that are small and entirely local; businesses of a scale that cannot justify the cost of hiring a search marketing expert.
If you have a business which you think would benefit from ‘in’ search terms take your laptop or tablet, head to the nearest coffee shop, order a drink and read this. If you own a coffee shop go to a quiet corner and read this.
Contrary to the belief of many who deal with SEO’s (or what you might believe by reading other articles on local searches) the easiest, most influential thing a small business owner can do is not keyword research and calling the developer to update the title tags.
Setting up and claiming local listings will be the first and most effective things a small business can do.
Before you start setting up local directories you will need:
As I see it, if you cover the bases below you are in good stead to improve your local SEO traffic.
These posts are for small business owners who aren’t search savvy. If you are one of those people and are finding trouble with the tutorials please let me know where you are having problems and I’ll amend the posts to make it easier.
Over And Out!
Here’s a list of things I consider undervalued:
That’s an abbreviated list but you see where I’m going with it. Copywriting is important and just like pizza and fresh air the quality of the copywriting can mean life or death.
The other day I was discussing copywriting with a client, who had chosen to write their own copy. That’s fine, but as a believer in high quality copywriting I decided to try to explain why copy is so important. It’s hard to explain. It’s better demonstrated.
When pulling together the Miratrix site I originally wrote the content. After writing our content marketing page I re-read it and I was brutally honest with myself. It wasn’t inspirational and didn’t flow. Here’s my version of our content marketing page:
Content marketing has become a bit of a buzzword recently, but what the heck is it?
Put simply, content marketing is creating content that shows off your great products and services.
Offering your company’s products for sale on the internet isn’t enough to make sure you close the deal. Unless you are the cheapest provider for everything you offer, then you need to differentiate yourself and convince the public that they should buy from you.
Content marketing can help do this and here at Miratrix we are experts in documenting all the knowledge within your business and using this to generate you revenue.
Every business in the world exists to solve a problem for someone and content marketing is a way for you to demonstrate how you can help. It’s a diverse channel of business which can range from the straight forward to the biggest :
Now here’s the professional copywriter’s take:
Content marketing is a buzzword, but what the heck does it mean? And when was the last time a customer bought a buzzword?
Put simply, content marketing is online content created to maximise the appeal, value and uptake of your products and services, and their benefits.
Setting yourself apart and a great deal more
Offering your company’s products for sale on the internet doesn’t guarantee you’ll close the deal. You need to develop distinctive and effective ways to differentiate your business and convince your target market that buying from you is a good idea.
Professionally produced content marketing can help you do this and here at Miratrix we are experts in mining all the knowledge within your business and using this to generate more revenue for you. Experience tells us that you probably already have numerous solutions to build business, right under your nose.
Access high quality response
Every business in the world exists to solve a problem for someone. Content marketing is just another showcase for you to tell the world about how you can help. And clever content marketing will stimulate high quality response. Consider three proven fixes:
With tailored content marketing you can transform your company into the ‘go to’ website/store/office/phone number (we want to help improve every channel of your business, not just the website) for solving customers problems.
To gain these advantages, take advantage of Miratrix know how, now.
I didn’t find it hard. The final copy is concise and more engaging; it no longer just talks at the reader. There’s relevant detail without being wordy. It still reflects the Miratrix tone of voice.
Letting a skilled copy-writer distill your content is one of the best things you can do for your website. Because copy-writers are skilled in writing. and not in your area of your business, they can be objective. They can, with an open mind, a load of honest questions and a determination to achieve clarity, help you filter out all the jargon and unnecessary statements. You end up with text which can motivate a reader to perform the intended action, and feel more positive about your service, product or opinions.
Be warned. A hard-working copy-writer is prepared to look a complete numbnut in pursuing the essence of what you are offering: in asking seemingly stupid questions, the writer can learn more, faster. Sometimes, just sometimes, when faced with a barrage of idiotic questions, clients realise that they’ve spent years (and fortunes) missing the point about their own products (and their brand, but that’s another kettle of worms). When you get down to the words, you get down to the cold, hard reasons why people buy stuff.
Many people believe that they can write effective copy and they assume (especially in marketing departments) that it’s their job to write it or no one else will. To those people, I ask:
If the answer to all those questions is YES then good luck. If your answer to any of those is NO then it’s time to call in the professionals.
PS My copy-writer has many more great pointers on generating productive copy, but he’s keeping them to himself, and I’m keeping his name to myself. Hell, you may be a competitor of mine, and Miratrix wants every edge it can get.
Websites which aren’t utilised make me sad. I mean, you pay good money to put up a website and then you go and let it languish, fall into disrepair and become increasingly irrelevant to your customers. The poor thing only gets updated when someone in the office bothers to remember.
Would you treat a shop on the high street or your office with the same disregard? No, you wouldn’t, because they are important, forward-facing parts of the business.
So is your website.
I hear and understand the argument that begins, ‘Our contracts/products/services are too big/expensive to be sold online’. If this is the case, then it means that those who are thinking about buying from you will need considerable persuasion and will take time before making their purchase. Should you not be doing EVERYTHING possible to convince that person that your company is the one to buy from?
It’s unlikely that traditional advertising, pamphlets, flyers, quarterly brochures and so on will instantly convince a potential client that your company is cutting edge, relevant and competent. I’m not saying that those media have no impact – they do – just that they now act more as brief introductions and reminders rather than tools to convert. They have a place in the marketing toolbox, but they tend to be ephemeral and are more likely to be dismissed. That’s why printed matter, radio commercials, etc, carry the web address. Your website is now a crucial reception area for your business. So why not give customers an impressive reception?
If you were the owner of a company where deals are done face to face, through meeting the right person, I’d like you to ask yourself, ‘Where is that person likely to look first to find out more about my company?’ and, ‘Where is the person who is doing the procuring going to point their boss?’.
I’ll be surprised if you opt for any of the traditional mediums I mentioned above.
If you don’t want to focus on ranking for keywords that’s fine. I understand why you wouldn’t want to waste resource on link development for key phrases which will only drive a few hundred visitors a month (and most of those keywords only loosely qualify anyway).
What I cannot understand is that you have a static website carrying very little information and which consists mainly of sales copy. I don’t like reading sales copy. It’s usually easy to spot: it’s self-congratulatory, self-indulgent and often peters out into a list. I like to know why your product/service is innovative and awesome in ways that can help me; and then I like to see examples of awesome in practice. Ideally, I’d like the content to entertain me, but hey, maybe I should get out more. Finally, I want to hear from the expert in the field. YOU.
It’s much more difficult and time consuming to put together a pamphlet or brochure than it is to write a post on a trending topic in your field. And that’s before we mention that these days print is frequently far less effective than online at generating buzz about your business.
Many companies use their websites to promote themselves. You don’t need to be an intergalactic conglomerate to do it effectively. To be honest, it’s probably harder to write about your subject if you are in a large multi-national because of the tangle of red tape, guidelines and protocol that you need to fight through to make it happen. Small to medium size companies are more nimble, though there are exceptions.
Example of companies who make their websites work hard:
Once you’ve created your blog post (it doesn’t need to be a blog post, it could be a video, graphic, guide, glossary, anything at all) you need to let people know it’s there.
Have you got an email data base? Tell them! Got friends in the industry? Tell them!
If yours is a less technophobic company that likes twitter, facebook or LinkedIn, use those channels to start a conversation. Don’t just push it out saying, ‘Oy! Here’s a link read it!’
Ask followers to give you feedback or to share it for you. You’d be surprised how happy people are to help you out. Just ask.
Your blog posts won’t work for you if you don’t push them. Think of your posts if it they were flying lanterns. You need to get them up in the air first. Once they’re up, they’ll get noticed; people will point them out to each other; if they are well written, topical and relevant, they’ll more than take care of themselves.
What I’ve just discussed here is called a couple of things – content marketing, inbound marketing or as we like to call it at Miratrix “Talking About Your Business”.
‘Talking About Your Business’ doesn’t just have a positive effect on how new business perceives you it also helps gain traffic from search engines. You are killing a flock of birds with one stone. Earning new visitors, developing trust in your industry, promoting your business and expanding your client base.
In the long term it’s the most cost effective and enjoyable way to promote and develop your business. You never know, you might actually impress someone enough for them to contact you before they meet you in person.
Keep this under your hat, but I like looking at Google Trends. I find it useful for understanding what’s happening in sectors and with brands. It is trend based so not to be taken as gospel but from my experience the predictions are usually accurate.
The other day I decided to investigate if people were still talking about black/white hat SEO. Not sure why it popped into my head, it just did. Maybe my head was cold and I needed a hat.
Anyway, the results were interesting and to me they made a lot of sense.
The trend for black hat SEO has been around from as far back as Google Trends can show you. White hat SEO seems to have had made an appearance about one year later. I feel that the phrase white hat SEO was created to counter black hat and help differentiate the two when selling in to clients.
I prefer the phrase ‘ethical SEO’ but as you can see from the graphic it’s never really taken off. Unlike hats, which are easy to take off.
It’s not a surprise that black hat SEO attracts greater interest than white hat. Using it you can either spam the competition, boost your traffic or both simultaneously. What is worth noting though is that the country we most associate spamming with is the country which seems to have the greatest interest in black hat SEO. That’s right, India!
No longer can we say ‘they didn’t know what they were doing’.
When Google released Penguin, its job was to destroy link spammers. I was happy when this update hit. A lot of sites which didn’t earn their SERPS were hit hard. Unfortunately, as in most wars, there was collateral damage and some good guys got taken out, but in general it was a helpful update.
Penguin created a shock wave in the industry and beyond. If we are to compare Penguin to natural disasters I’d liken it to a meteor blast. Why? According Google Trends it’s caused lasting damage which over time may lead to the extinction of black hat SEO or at least people’s interest in it.
In May 2012 the search phrase ‘black hat SEO’ dropped off a cliff. While the phrase ‘black hat SEO’ still gets more interest than ‘white hat SEO’, people’s interest in black hat techniques are in free fall and unlikely to return.
Although black hat techniques still work and it is possible to rank using spammy techniques it would seem that Penguin has put the frighteners on people. Nobody wants to talk about it, they live in dread of the shadow of the Penguin!
Maybe black hat SEO will evolve and another term will take its place. Crash Hat SEO, maybe. Or how about Top Hat SEO? Any other suggestions out there, that you’d like to hang your hat on?
In case you haven’t been paying attention, the internet has been the fastest changing business environment over the last 15+ years and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. In these years, the way that individuals use the internet has went from dial up, to broadband and desktop computer to smart phone. What they are searching for has changed too.
Back when Amazon was still a start-up, the number of people searching for books, DVDs and CDs was growing every year. Nowadays the number of people searching for these kind of terms will still be growing (well blu ray will) but this growth has been eclipsed by the growth in people asking questions.
What do I mean by questions? “How do I…..” The internet is full of people asking looking for answers!
People are of course, still conducting searches for products and service, but the number people people just typing straight searches into Google just keeps on increasing.
The important question for business owners is “how do I make more sales from this trend?”. This is undoubtedly a difficult question, but one that I’m going to attempt to answer.
If you are a lawyer, power tool seller, wedding dress maker, home cinema installer or mobile phone retailer, people (potential customers) will be looking for the answers to questions that you can help them with.
I know many people will argue that once the visitor gets the information they will leave the site and never come back. I won’t try to argue with this – conversion rates of these people will be low, but what you are trying to do is build your company as the experts, the people to visit or call when they do want to buy or engage a service.
Ask yourself this: if you had the choice between two local lawyers to call, one who displays their wide ranging knowledge by giving simple and straightforward advice on their website and another who has generic text and stock images, who would you choose?
You can find the type of things your customers are searching for quite easily if your website has been running for a while and you have Google Analytics setup. Have a look for “how”, “what”, “where” and “why” keywords and you are bound to find some questions that your website probably isn’t delivering the answer to. A few blog posts or an FAQ page later and your going to be picking up more traffic and showing off your expertise to potential customers. You might even pick up a link or 10 along the way!
Finally, don’t be afraid to give this information out thinking that people won’t need you once they have the answer. Will people decide to do their own SEO because they read this article? No. Will I do all my own accounts because I read up on how to use Sage? Hell no! I will, however, have more trust in the accountant that published the article/blog post and be more likely to pass them my business.
We know how boring it can be scrolling all the way to the end but we appreciate you doing it!
If you fancy a chat drop us a line or give us a call. We’re always happy to hear about your ideas or your business.
23 Golden Square,
Want to get in touch?
Your account will be closed and all data will be permanently deleted and cannot be recovered. Are you sure?