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Tag: Businesses

13 Important SEO Tips for Small Businesses – ShoeMoney

SEO Search Engine Optimization Business Marketing Concept

There are billions of live websites on the internet right now. That means that, as a small business owner, you have to know a lot about SEO if you want your business and your website to get noticed.

The good news? We’ve got you covered!

In this article, we’ll give you 13 SEO tips for small businesses. That way you can make sure that your business, and your business’s website, are both very easy to find on popular search engines like Google.

1. Don’t Expect Instant Results

We get it. You want to improve your SEO results and you want to do so as fast as possible. And while it’s possible to make some SEO changes in a few hours, getting noticeable results that fast isn’t going to happen.

Our advice? Be prepared to wait anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to see a noticeable difference in your SEO results. Ranking on search engines isn’t easy, especially at first, which is why we recommend you temper expectations early on.

2. Research Current SEO Trends

Of course, if you want to improve your SEO strategy, you need to stay up to date with the latest SEO trends to do so. By reading this article, you’re already checking this box, which of course is a good thing.

But if you want to sustain success, you need to always be on the lookout for new SEO tips and tricks. So, don’t ever stop researching SEO strategies, and stay aggressive, so you can keep those top rankings once you get them.

3. Invest Time and Money Into SEO

To piggyback off of that last point, if you want to get big-time SEO results, you need to be prepared to spend time and money on SEO. You don’t have to break the bank to get positive results, but investing hours of hard work, and a few bucks, is necessary to find success.

The good news? SEO is most likely something that you can do yourself in-house. And if you do need the help of an expert (more on that later), hiring an SEO specialist is affordable, which is a huge plus.

4. Focus on Local SEO

If you own a small business, odds are you’re looking to get attention online from customers in your area. If that’s the case for you, you need to make sure that you spend most of your efforts improving your local SEO strategy.

Not sure where to get started with local SEO? Go ahead and get listed on Google My Business, if you haven’t done so already, first. That way customers can find you more easily on Google, and even leave reviews for your business, two things that will improve your local SEO.

Also, make sure that you encourage customers to leave those reviews for your business on Google. Search engines like Google love them, and the more that you have, the higher that your business will rank. 

5. Create a Good UX

Have a website? Want to get your website to rank higher on search engines? If so, your main focus should be on improving your site’s user experience, or UX.

After all, search engines only want to redirect users to websites that provide credible information and a positive UX. If your website checks both of those boxes, you give yourself a better chance of ranking high for those important keywords.

6. Get Active on Social Media

There are few things that you can do away from your website to improve your SEO strategy. Being active on a few social media platforms, in particular, can have a noticeable positive effect. 

Our advice? Pick the three most popular social media platforms in your niche and focus on those three platforms only. That way you can not only improve your SEO but also give yourself a chance to find success using social media marketing.

Not sure which social media platforms are the most popular three in your niche? Simply do some research on the biggest competitors in your niche for answers. Whichever sites they have the most followers and engagement on are the sites you need to invest in. 

7. Do Plenty of Keyword Research

If you’re creating content for your website, perhaps for a blog, you need to know a lot about keyword research to rank highly on search engines. This is especially true if you have a newer website or are operating within a competitive niche.

The good news? Keyword research isn’t all that hard. All you need to do is use a keyword research tool and look for keywords with a high search volume and a low competition ranking.

Once you have a few keywords, create awesome and credible content around them. Pretty simple, right?

8. Have a Simple URL Structure

Another big tip for improving your SEO strategy for your website has to do with URL structure. Because picking the wrong URL structure can make it harder to rank for those keywords we just mentioned, which of course isn’t a good thing.

A pro tip? Let the title of your article, page, or post be your URL structure. Separate each word with a dash, but other than that, make no changes to your URL. 

That way you can make sure that your keyword, which should be in your title, is also in your URL.

9. Master Internal Linking

We’ll be honest. Backlinks from other websites are one of the biggest keys to improving your SEO strategy. But since you can’t control those, we’ve decided to spend more time talking about internal linking instead.

Not only can internal links help you drive users to other content on your site, but search engines like it when you have them, too. On top of that, it can be something that you use to create your content around, which can be helpful, especially for blog owners.

Internal links to your own content aren’t the only internal links you need to have, either. Linking to a few other credible, relevant websites is always a good idea, as again, search engines will take notice. 

10. Study Your Analytics Often

No matter what kind of website you have, your analytics should be driving all of your SEO decisions. After all, numbers don’t lie, and that information is the key to determining what works for your site and what doesn’t.

So, be sure to use your analytics when brainstorming for keyword ideas. Give your audience more of what they want, and less of what they don’t, so you can grow your site faster.

11. Focus on Mobile Users

Did you know that over 50% of all web traffic comes from mobile users? That’s a number that is only going to rise over the next 5 years, which is why mobile users are so important to your SEO strategy.

Simply put, your entire website, and even local SEO strategy, should be all about mobile users. Because making sure that you’re mobile-friendly is essentially future-proofing your business.

At this point, investing in the help of an SEO expert may be worth considering. That way you can make sure that your website, and your SEO strategy, are built from the ground up with mobile users in mind.

12. Use Google Webmaster Tools

It goes without saying, but Google is one of the biggest and most popular search engines in the world. They also offer website owners and small business owners tons of free-to-use tools to help them rank on their search engines.

We’ve already talked about Google My Business. But for website owners, Google Webmaster Tools is another must-have tool in your toolbox.

Within Webmaster Tools, you’ll have access to tons of things that you can use to make your website more SEO-friendly.

13. Listen to Valuable Feedback

We talked a lot about analytics earlier. And while that is the most valuable form of feedback, there are other forms of feedback that are worth paying attention to as well.

Direct comments from users, in particular, are important. After all, they can help you improve your UX, which again, is super important for your website’s SEO.

Also, don’t be afraid to listen to SEO experts. They know what you need to do to reach your biggest goals, which is why investing in the help of a professional can be a game-changer for small businesses.

Need an SEO company? Not sure who to call? This Go Florida SEO company is more than worth investing in, as they’ve got all the experience needed to help you get to where you want to be.

13 SEO Tips for Small Businesses

As you can see, a lot goes into knowing the latest SEO tips for small businesses. With that being said, if you use this guide, and continue to research the topic, you should be able to create and maintain an effective SEO strategy over time.

Looking for more SEO tips and tricks? Check back with our blog often for tons of useful ideas and concepts.




[Quiz Result] Are Appointment-Only Businesses Allowed a GMB Listing?


https://www.sterlingsky.ca/

We had 817 people answer this question in our 2020 Local SEO Blackbelt Quiz. The correct answer is yes.

Here’s how the answers broke down.

appointment GMB's

Google My Business currently doesn’t have an option for hours to allow businesses to indicate they are available by appointment only.  If a business is appointment-only, Google states that it shouldn’t provide hours on their listing.

For example, the home-based massage therapist can set themselves up as a storefront as long as they don’t set business hours because they don’t want people walking up without making an appointment.  If the customers are coming to the massage therapist’s house they would want to keep the address visible (not hide it).

This does not mean that virtual offices that are used to meet clients occasionally (by appointment) are allowed since they would not be regularly staffed.

So What?

Google My Business has never had a perfect way to indicate that you are a by-appointment-only business. However, removing your hours, as well as adding a blurb to your GMB description, and perhaps even your Google Posts, is a great way to indicate to customers that you are only available by appointment. Lastly, make sure to select the “Appointment Required” GMB attribute that was launched in 2020.

https://www.sterlingsky.ca/
Latest posts by Colan Nielsen (see all)



7 Ways Local Businesses Can Improve Website SEO


Anyone who runs an online business needs to get to grips with search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of working to make your website rank more highly in results pages on search engines such as Google. There are a few strategies you can use to help your site rank better in local search results. In this article, we’ll discuss how you can improve your website SEO through simple WordPress improvements.

Why is ranking well for local search queries so important? According to Business Wire, 67% of Americans prefer to shop with local businesses where possible. Additionally, an estimated 46% of all Google searches have local intent.

Speaking anecdotally, I have seen the importance of local search results first-hand. 80-90% of the business for my web design agency, Lform Design, comes from within our home state of New Jersey. 

Website design makes a big difference in your SEO performance due to a number of factors that we’ll look at in more detail. Fortunately, with a bit of know-how, it’s not hard to create a local SEO-friendly site.  

Have I convinced you? Read on to learn a few easy web design and SEO-boosting tricks that can be applied to WordPress sites in order to give your business a leg up in local SEO boost. 

How Does Web Design Impact SEO?

Whether you’re building your own website or working with an agency, the sooner you get your head around the fundamentals of SEO, the better. Many website owners make the mistake of only thinking about SEO once their site is up and running. However, web design can have a significant impact on SEO if you bear it in mind from the start.

There’s one main reason for this: Google prioritizes sites that are user-friendly. Good web design makes it easy for both search engine crawlers and human users to navigate through your site. Therefore, you should prioritize navigability and user-friendliness at every stage of your website design process. 

Website design factors vary from page load speed to the domain name you choose. Each factor can all have a substantial impact on your SEO, for better or worse.  And, since online businesses and company websites can live or die by their SEO, you’ll want to make sure the impact is positive.

It’s worth taking a look at Google’s Core Web Vitals to learn about these factors in more depth.

How to Improve Your Website Design for a Local SEO Boost

Fortunately, there are several ways to optimize your site for SEO, either at the point of design or by making amends later. Today, we’ll look at seven strategies that specifically relate to local SEO. 

Let’s get started!

1. Optimize Your Homepage

Perhaps the easiest way to optimize your website for SEO purposes is to start with the content on your homepage. This will be where most of your website visitors land when they first arrive at your site, so you must make sure it’s up to the task. 

Your homepage can achieve two important SEO goals:

  • Attract local searchers to your site
  • Keep them on your site longer, reducing your bounce rate

Your homepage should clearly tell your website visitors who you are and what you do. Since you are aiming to attract local searchers, you should be sure to mention your location prominently on your homepage. In addition, it should clearly signpost visitors to help them find the page they need on your site. 

Here’s an example:

Local website homepage example

This is the homepage for Palmer, an advertising agency in San Francisco (and one of the top Google results for the search term “ad agency San Francisco”). Notice how it clearly states what the company is and does, references geographical location in a prominent place, and contains a descriptive menu to help customers find whatever they need. 

2. Make the Most of Metadata

Meta tags are small bits of data about a web page embedded in the page’s HTML.

Sound complicated? Don’t worry, it’s fairly simple and you don’t need any coding knowledge. The easiest way to insert metadata on each of your pages or posts is to use the Yoast SEO plugin, available through WordPress.

Since you’re focusing on optimizing your site for local SEO, your metadata should include a reference to your business’s geographical location. This will tell search engines where you’re located and increase your chances of showing up in local results.

Here’s an example of how working with Metadata in the Yoast plugin looks: 

Yoast SEO Plugin Screenshot

Remember to optimize the metadata for each page on your website. If you have a blog (which you should!), then optimize the tags on each post, too. 

Remember though, tags aren’t just for search engines. Make sure you’re only using a select few tags to group information, rather than spamming them.

3. Use Local Business Schema

Schema, also known as structured data markup, is a kind of code that you can add to each page of your website to tell search engines what the page contains. There is a particular subcategory called local business schema that can have an impact on local SEO. 

Not sure if you have schema on your site? Use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to check:

Google's Structured Data Testing Tool

You can add numerous different fields to your local business schema. At a minimum, I recommend that you add:

  • Company name
  • Contact information, including telephone number and business email address
  • Physical address
  • Opening hours
  • Company logo
  • A short description of what you do

You can always add more at a later date if you wish. You can also add schema to separate product or service pages. For local SEO purposes, you’ll likely want to focus on local business schema.

4. Ensure Your Site is Mobile-Friendly

When I started my custom web design and development agency in 2005, we didn’t think or talk much about mobile-friendly website design. In those days, few people had internet-enabled mobile phones. However, the way we use the internet has changed beyond recognition in the last 15 years. 

Approximately 10.5% of web traffic worldwide came from mobile devices by 2010. In 2020, that figure stood at around 50%. That means that mobile-friendly web design is no longer an afterthought or a nice-to-have, but an absolute necessity. By the end of the year, Google will have switched all websites to mobile-first indexing, which means the mobile version of a site will be even more important than the desktop version when it comes to search rankings. 

Mobile-friendly website design is particularly important for those businesses targeting a local market. Why? Because people are extremely likely to search for relevant local businesses using their mobile devices while they are on the go. What’s more, 88% of consumers who do a local search from a smartphone visit a relevant local business within 24 hours. 

The data speaks for itself: you cannot hope to promote your website effectively in local searches if your site is not optimized for mobile users. A high-quality responsive design will ensure your site renders well on all devices. 

5. Ensure Your Site is Fast and Easy to Use

Did you know that 40% of internet users will abandon a website if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds or less? That’s an enormous amount of traffic and prospective custom you’re missing out on if your website is slow to load! A slow site can also seriously harm your search rankings.

In the context of local SEO, a slow site can destroy your chances of getting a spot in the coveted Google 3-pack

Here are some of my top tips to help you speed up your site and keep your rankings intact: 

  • Choose a great, SEO-friendly hosting service. If you can afford it, dedicated hosting is a better option than shared. 
  • If you mostly want to attract local traffic, choose a local server. This will reduce server response time and speed up your site. Another option is to use a content delivery network (CDN). 
  • Compress images to the appropriate size. You can use a plugin like WP Smush to do this without losing image quality.
  • Optimize your site scripts and remove any that are unnecessary. Plugins like Asset Cleanup are great for this. 
  • Keep your content management system, themes, and any plugins updated. 

As a rule of thumb, I suggest aiming for a loading time of under 200ms for your site across the board. 

Top tip: You can use a free tool like Google Lighthouse to check your site pages’ load times and more key info.

6. Optimize Your Content for Local Search Intent

Creating a steady stream of great content on your website, such as through a blog, has a significant positive benefit when it comes to SEO. If you want to target local customers, make an effort to create local content

Here’s an example. I wrote this post on the Lform Design blog about the best web design companies in New Jersey:  

Local content blog

As a direct result of this post, Lform Design is now the first organic result on a Google search for terms like “best NJ web design”. 

Remember, you can also mention your geographical location in posts that don’t have a specific local theme, as long as it fits in organically. Here’s how we did it recently:

Local content example

This post is about web design amid the challenges of COVID-19. However, it was easy to include a reference to our specific location in a way that fits organically into the piece. 

7. Ensure Your NAP Data is Included

NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. In other words, your business’s contact information. Many businesses include their NAP data in their website footer, but you can go a step further than that. Why not have a separate “Contact Us” or “How to Find Us” page? If you have multiple locations, use a page for each location. 

Here’s how Figment, a design agency based in London, does it: 

Website NAP

NAP on a local business website

The company displays the full address of each of its locations in the website footer, and then also has a separate page for each. 

If you want to use NAP data effectively for local SEO, you must ensure it is consistent. How does your data appear on your website and in your Google My Business listing? It must be identical everywhere. 

Fortunately, Google and search engines have gotten smarter about NAP, recognizing that St. = Street, for example. If in doubt, cross-reference your website and listings with a list of accepted abbreviations

Conclusion

Robust SEO is vital if you want to run a successful online business, and never more so than for businesses targeting local customers. Since such a significant percentage of Google searches have a local intent, you’re likely missing out on a lot of business if you don’t put concerted efforts into local SEO. 

You don’t need to be an SEO expert to lift your business higher in the rankings, though. You just need to understand the basics and apply a few important strategies rigorously. Start with the tips I’ve laid out for you here and you’ll be off to a flying start.

Good luck!



What are the Top Three Businesses in Dubai


Did you know that setting up a business in the UAE is easier than in other Middle East regions? The government and ruling persons of Dubai are constantly working to improve the business environment. Better facilities are constantly provided to foreign investors and the opportunity to build up their business in a fast-paced multicultural environment. The UAE has been standing out from the Middle East as it has been operating differently. Instead of relying on oil production as other Middle East countries, Dubai has established the perfect business-friendly eco-system. That said, foreign investors have found the best platform to develop their business startups and expand their business globally. Click here to get more details about the offshore companies in uae.

1)         Construction Sector

Construction companies are amongst the most profiteering businesses in the UAE. As you can see that this man-made island comprises the tallest buildings on this planet. Dubai keeps constructing new buildings with innovative designs every other day. This aspect has opened a huge door for foreign construction firms to offer their services in the UAE and gain more profits. Entrepreneurs and expats can also opt for selling construction materials in their raw form to the UAE and pocket profits.

2)     Maintenance services

The services of maintenance, plumbing, and repairing jobs are in great demand in the UAE. In fact, these services operate on a smaller scale, yet their demand is at the peak. People in the UAE keep looking for skilled handymen who know their craft well. You can start a business in the UAE on a smaller scale by providing small services to clients who lack the time or skills to do it themselves. However, you do need a solid financial and marketing plan apart from getting your business registered first. If you are skilled labor or have a group of skilled laborers, you are more likely to excel in this business field.

3)           Real Estate

If you are thinking about setting up a real estate business in the UAE, you will find tremendous success. Since the number of foreign investors and expats in the UAE is constantly rising, real estate affairs are also increasing. Such matters include but are not limited to, buying, renting, and selling properties. People residing and working in the UAE are demanding trustworthy and professional real estate agents who can promise smooth property dealings. A license is required before you can officially operate your real estate business in the UAE.

Final Thoughts…

Before you take the plunge and prepare for your first business meeting in the UAE, it is recommended that you learn about Dubai’s culture beforehand. As mentioned before, Dubai is the cultural hub of the UAE. You should get familiar with the customs, etiquette, and nitty-gritty of Dubai’s life so that you become a successful foreign investor.

About The Author

vipul

Vipul is a professional blogger and online advertiser based out of Bengaluru, India. Always in a quest for new ways to make money, Vipul detail out all possible opportunities that can help anyone to earn passive income online. You can connect on Twitter, Linkedin & Facebook



Workers Compensation Secrets for Small Businesses Revealed


Are you a small business with employees? If you are, you need to have worker’s compensation coverage to protect yourself, your employees and your business at all times.

Are you hiring a steady stream of contractors? The same holds true here as well. You should start researching worker’s compensation coverage, so that you’re ready the day someone gets classified as an employee.

Here are some of the worker’s compensation secrets for small business that shouldn’t be so secret. 

Worker’s Compensation Claims Aren’t Limited to Industrial Worksites 

The classic worker’s compensation case involves a construction worker falling off a roof or an industrial worker maimed by equipment. However, worker’s compensation claims can arise in almost any workplace.

An employee injured in a car crash while driving your delivery van can file a worker’s comp claim. Office workers are more likely to file worker’s compensation claims for repetitive stress injuries, but they could get hurt carrying boxes down stairs or getting sick when exposed to chemical fumes. 

Worker’s Compensation Claims Can Lead to Legal Battles 

Worker’s compensation claims can lead to legal fights. An employee can fight for greater compensation, and they should fight allegations that the workplace injury didn’t occur in the workplace. After all, a finding that the injury occurred off-site or is unrelated to work means they don’t have a worker’s comp claim. If the boss ordered people to work in unsafe conditions or pushed them to violate rules in place for people’s safety, the company doesn’t just have a worker’s comp claim when someone is hurt. They’re also liable for safety violations.

Employees often get legal help, because getting a settlement can be difficult. They may be unable to fill out detailed paperwork because of a traumatic brain injury or when taking pain medication. Or they may have trouble getting all the paperwork together to get the full compensation they’re owed.

For example, they may have requested compensation for their emergency room visit but not yet addressed the mounting bills for ongoing care. Insurers who are slow to pay bills create an undue burden on the employee, and this can lead to interest and penalties as well as legal bills for everyone involved. 

According to the NCS, the majority of worker’s compensation costs by cause through 2017-2018 were as a result of motor vehicles, burns, falls and slips, and more.

As you can imagine, in nearly all of these scenarios, the incident probably could have been avoided — which means there is no reason for employees to ever be injured while on the job.

Worker’s Compensation Is Similar to Every Other Insurance Policy You Pay For 

Worker’s compensation is a form of insurance. You pay premiums based on several key risk factors. One is location. The premiums will be based in part on the state you work in, because different states have different rules. The type of work is a major factor.

Some industries are much more dangerous; construction and industrial workplaces are two such examples. Logging, fishing, and agriculture have greater than average risks, too. Premiums are also based on your payroll. You pay more when you have more people to cover. Then there is one’s claims history. If you have more accidents than average, you’re going to pay far higher worker’s compensation insurance premiums.

On the other hand, if you work with the insurer to mitigate obvious risks, your premiums may go down. If you make changes and no longer generate a steady stream of claims, your insurance company will eventually lower the premiums. Workers’ compensation typically considers the employer’s liability to be limited, but bad practices that cause people to be regularly injured or oversight that results in a major accident can leave you liable. 

Worker’s Compensation Is Not Just For Big Business 

Are you hiring contractors? You may want to prohibit someone from being hired for a job unless they carry their own workers’ compensation insurance. Sole proprietors can buy worker’s compensation to protect themselves, too.



How to Win at Local Search with Service Area Businesses


https://www.sterlingsky.ca/

Those of us who work with local businesses know that strategies often always center around the business’ location. Our goal as marketers is to drive more customers into their stores, and those customers generally live within a small proximity around their office.  But what do you do when your business is a home office and you don’t want customers showing up at your house or your run-down store because your business type makes it so that the transaction takes place at your customer’s location? It can be challenging because the Local algorithm that powers Google My Business listings was built around the Google Maps pin. 

Service Area Business

Trying to make it work for a service area business can often feel like competing with Beyonce when you’re simply one of the “other sisters” that no one cares about.

What Should You put in the Service Area Section in GMB?

All the service area section in GMB is really useful for is dictating what shows up on the for your highlighted area.  What you put in this section does not impact ranking.  

Should You Hide Your Address?

According to Google My Business Guidelines, “if your business doesn’t have a storefront with clear signage but travels to customers at their physical locations, you’re allowed one service-area Business Profile.  If you’re a service-area business, you should hide your business address from customers. For example, if you’re a plumber and run your business from your residential address, clear the address from your Business Profile”.

When setting up a Service Area Business (SAB) in Google My Business (GMB), you will be asked a series of questions regarding your business. One of the first questions Google will ask is, “Do you want to add a location customers can visit, like a store or office?” These days, when you create a listing and select “No” for this question, Google automatically hides your address so it’s not anywhere in the dashboard.  However, if you missed doing that, you can still remove the address later by pressing “clear address”.  So the guidelines “suggest” doing this but is it a good idea?

First, if you hide your address you don’t get a map marker.  That might not sound too bad, but look at how much extra exposure Nutri-Lawn gets here by Google showing a pin & the distance to the user.

 

SAB - Nutri-Lawn

Second, there was a thread that came up on our forum recently where an SEO agency was complaining that switching his client (plumber) listing to an SAB with a hidden address had a negative impact on calls. One recent example from our Local Search Forum has a user complaining that his traffic and leads have dropped significantly after switching his business to a Service Area Business. Here is a quote from the forum thread,

I had such a huge drop in my calls and website visits after I converted from physical address to SAB in the auto repair niche.”

Another quote from the same thread,

Since [clearing address], his calls have dropped off and his listings on maps has become almost non-existent.

One last quote from the same thread,

I’m in the bin/dumpster rental business and I too lost rankings with our Toronto franchise location when I made this switch.

Should You Show the Address of your SAB?

There appears to be a lot of reasons why you’d want to ignore this guideline, but before you decide to change your listing, it’s important to consider the negatives. Some negatives of showing the address of your SAB listing include GMB Support not helping you. I’ve seen tons of cases where businesses contact GMB support for help with an issue and the support agent won’t address their concern until they fix guidelines violations on the listing.

Second, there is an increased chance of suspensions. I try to not make major edits to listings for industries like locksmiths or garage door repair because it’s so easy to trigger a suspension that pulls the listing off Google completely.  In these cases, you won’t get your listing reinstated unless you clear your address.

Lastly, your home address will be publicly visible.  This is not ideal for a variety of reasons.

Do Service Area Pages Still Work?

service area pages work

 

We have evidence service area pages still work.  For example, here is a small sample of how many conversions were driven from the top-performing service area page over the course of a year.  As you can see, it varies quite a bit based on the industry. service area pages

 

There are a few things you can add to your page to provide Google with enough information to understand what the page is about and rank organically. Here are a few ideas you can implement on your website:

  • Build a table of recent cases the business has handledsab recent cases
  • List driving directions to the office/business (for SABs that have an office)
  • Use photos of the city the business is in to enhance the pagesab photos
  • Add reviews specific to that location/area.

With all of these additions to a Service Area Page, were able to see an increase in traffic and rankings to our client’s pages.

https://www.sterlingsky.ca/

Do you have strategies you find work really well for service area businesses? Tell us about them in the comments.

Brian Barwig
Latest posts by Brian Barwig (see all)



How Local Businesses Can Get Started on Twitter


Building a strong Twitter following for a local business is tough. It seems like only big brands, politicians, and celebrities get attention. 

There’s also a ton of information on how to do it, making you feel lost and out of sync with what you really need: a guide on how to use Twitter for local businesses.  

And before we dive into this guide, here are a few stats showing you why Twitter isn’t only for big brands, politicians, and celebrities…

  1. Culturally relevant businesses influence 25% of buying decisions on Twitter
  2. In 2019, the cost per ad engagement reduced by 12%
  3. 24% of U.S citizens use Twitter as their primary social media platform
  4. 32% of Twitter users use the platform to watch videos

Now, let’s say you’re sharing video content (either as ads or organic posts) that is relevant to the culture of the locations your business is serving. What’s going to prevent your followers from buying and becoming loyal customers? 

Let’s dive into how to use Twitter to help your local business grow. 

Getting started with Twitter

When you’re getting started on Twitter, you want to make sure that your customers are already using the platform. 

This way, you’ll avoid investing time and money, only to realize that you could have invested the same into other platforms to get a better ROI.

Determining if your local business should use Twitter

Here are four questions you should ask yourself to make sure that Twitter is right for your local business:

  1. Do your existing and potential customers use Twitter?
  2. Whom do they follow, and what content do they share?
  3. Does your demographic information resonate with Twitter’s user base demographics?
  4. Are your competitors on Twitter? If they’re present on the platform, analyze how they’re engaging their followers, so you know how to position your business to stand out. Things to look out for are things like the type of content they share, their posting frequency, number of followers, and level of engagement.

If you don’t know the answer to these questions, you should talk to your customers to create a detailed customer persona.

Setting up your profile

Once you’ve verified that Twitter is a great platform for your local business, you’ll need to set up a profile. 

If you haven’t created an account, head over to Twitter’s signup page and sign up using your business name and email address. 

Choosing a username (including sources to check for available usernames)

Next, choose a memorable username. 

You also want to maintain brand consistency among all other social media platforms you’re active on, so use a similar username to what you’ve used on other platforms such as Facebook. Make sure you use a tool like Namechk to see if your desired Twitter handle is still available.

If someone has already taken it, there’s no need to worry. You might choose to get around this by including a location in your username. Kumon, one of BrightLocal’s clients, has done this for a specific location on Twitter. However, their Facebook page has the company name without tagging any location:

Kumon on Facebook

Now take a look at their Twitter account:

Kumon Twitter

It has three different handles targeting different locations, meaning that you’re not limited to the amount of Twitter handles you can create for your business based on the locations you serve. 

This is an especially helpful strategy when expanding your business into global markets, or even just opening up additional locations. 

Just bear in mind that this won’t always be worthwhile, depending on how many locations you have. For example, if you just have a couple of locations, then it may make more sense to streamline them into one account unless there are major cultural/language differences between the two audiences.

However, if you have multiple locations and the resources to manage the accounts without letting them go to waste, then this is definitely a strategy to look into to grow your business’s reach and awareness.

Optimizing your bio for local business

Your bio should communicate what you do in a brief, yet clear, manner to help customers understand what’s in it for them in the shortest time possible.

You also want to use relevant keywords to increase the chances of the profile showing up in search results. While your username should act as a branded keyword, you can use your bio space to say what your handle alone cannot. 

The key is to think of search engine optimization (SEO) best practices when writing your bio, and make sure it is good for search. In other words, don’t be afraid to use keywords and hashtags!

Here’s a great example of this from Growth Hackers:

Growth Hackers Twitter

Choosing a header and profile photo 

Your header and profile photo should have a similar color scheme to what is used on your website. This makes it easy for potential and existing customers to recognize you on Twitter and pay attention to what you post. 

One suggestion is to use your logo as your profile photo and a picture of the team as the header photo, as Sterling Sky Inc does:

Sterling Sky

Alternatively, use logos on your profile photo, and a similar high-quality image on the header photo just like Nifty Marketing do:

Nifty Marketing twitter

For the profile photo, the image should be 400 x 400 pixels, and its maximum file size should be 2MB. For the header photo, the image should be 1500 x 500, and the maximum file size should be 5MB. Upload images in either .JPG or .PNG formats.

Setting objectives/KPIs

After setting up your Twitter account and optimizing your profile, you’ll need to set objectives and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These help you know how you’re going to position your local business on Twitter in order to achieve your wider business goals. 

Defining goals 

Some of the goals you might want to set could include: 

  • Building brand awareness through working with influencers to earn brand mentions 
  • Generating leads by running ads to landing pages or webinar funnels 
  • Handling customer support issues to help resolve customer problems faster
  • Increasing online sales through your eCommerce platform

Once you’ve defined the goals, you can use a marketing workflow to map out how you’re going to reach said goals. 

The difference in strategies between B2B and B2C

When thinking about the goals you want to achieve, keep in mind that a B2B business will have a different approach to Twitter when compared to a B2C business. 

B2B sales cycles are known to be longer. These businesses are better off using the platform to build brand awareness and generate leads, then set up email sequences to nurture these leads until they are ready to buy:

B2B lead nurturing

On the other hand, B2C businesses typically have short sales cycles. Twitter comes in to help B2C businesses build awareness, drive more traffic, and run ads to get sales faster. 

That said, here are some common objectives you’ll want to consider as an example:

  • Increase the number of sales by 30% in the next quarter
  • Increase revenue by $5,000 in the next quarter
  • Increase the amount of traffic to a relevant landing page and local office visits by 10% every month…

For example, Swagbucks tweets about making money online then refer that traffic to this landing page where they can collect emails and signups via this form:

Swagbucks

Source: Swag Bucks

Once you set your objectives, think about some of the metrics you’ll need to track to help you achieve the objectives you set. These are your KPIs:

  • Number of followers you gain every month
  • Level of engagement – Retweets and replies to threads
  • Ad clickthrough rate- If you’re using ads to drive traffic to a local landing page like the one below, then you’ll want to track your clickthrough rates to measure the effectiveness of your ads:

Seattle PPC Ads

Source: Loganix

  • Number of podcast interviews you book in a given local area
  • Brand mentions – If you’re working with nano influencers, you’ll want to know the number of brand mentions you’re getting to help you build brand awareness

Measuring analytics

To track your KPIs, you’ll need to use Twitter analytics. Given that 80% of small businesses in the U.S rely on a SaaS tool to help run their business, consider using a social media scheduling tool like Hootsuite or Sprout Social to help you manage your account and get access to more analytics reports, such as brand mentions and brand sentiment. 

While using social media platforms to schedule posts and view analytics, consider also using a project planning template from a company like Monday to plan projects and stay on top of deadlines and KPIs. That way, you’ll have no trouble demonstrating ROI/ROAs when it comes up in meetings.

Alternatively, you can use a data visualization tool to demonstrate the data in your monthly or quarterly meetings:

Data visualisation

Source: Zoho

My clients always appreciate data they can easily see and understand with visual graphics and references.

Developing a Twitter strategy

To do well on Twitter as a local business you’ll need a solid strategy that helps you achieve the objectives you have set. 

Below, we’re going to cover key elements of your Twitter strategy.

Content strategy

Given that you already know your goals and objectives, your content strategy will help you know how you’re going to keep followers engaged through the content you share. 

Start with the content you post on your blog. To make your tweets stand out, repurpose your blog post images and post them on Twitter with a short description, a link, 2-3 relevant hashtags, and a call-to-action:

Twitter content

Source: Each Night

Use the correct size of image sizes by using a graphic design tool that helps you automatically resize images for Twitter to save time.

You also want to make sure that you never run out of content to post. Break down the infographics you create into separate images and share them with your followers. These two approaches work well with evergreen content because it has a long shelf life.

Finding accounts to follow and engage with 

Look for trending topics in your niche and/or a given location that you’re going to follow and engage with. Alternatively, you can also use your business’s city as a hashtag to engage with the local community.

These topics will help you understand the type of content that resonates with your potential and existing customers. Remember to retweet, like, and reply to relevant threads and start building connections with these users. 

Post frequency and timing

How often you post your content and the time you decide to post your content should be determined by when your target audience is using Twitter. At what time do they log into Twitter? How often do they use Twitter in a day or given week? 

While best times to post on Twitter exist, rely on your testing to see what works best, and when in doubt, fall back to the recommended posting times, as suggested by experts. 

Interacting with your customers

As you continue posting content on Twitter, you’re going to engage with your customers. If you’re using Twitter for customer support, make sure that you respond within 12 hours. 

Respond to these complaints with empathy and make sure you take them to a private channel such as email and take it away from the public domain.

Summary

Done right, using Twitter for local business can be a cost-effective way to build brand awareness, drive traffic, and awareness for your local business. 

You’ll be leveraging what other big brands have been using while still getting great results from your efforts, and you’ll be spending less trying to reach more people and generate leads and sales. 

To get started right away, evaluate whether Twitter is right for your local business, then create an account, and optimize your profile. Set your goals, relevant objectives, and KPIs you’re going to track. 

Next, look at what the competitors are doing then create a content strategy that helps you stand out and start engaging with followers consistently. Look at analytics reports to identify areas where you need to improve. 

Over time, your efforts will start building up and results will start trickling in — new leads, sales, and revenue for your business.

Now it’s over to you: are you currently implementing Twitter into your local business’s marketing strategy? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!



Reopening Checklist for Local Businesses: Make It Confusion-Free, Local SEO-Friendly, and Safe


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No matter how operational your business has been, or how “open” it can be now, or how your goals have changed, sooner or later your local search visibility again will be one of your sorest spots.  Whether that’s already happened or is still a while off, at the very least you don’t want your local SEO to be in worse shape than it was before the lockdown.

There’s a good chance you’ve been open in some capacity this whole time.  So when I say “reopening” I’m referring to whenever you’re (1) welcoming more in-person business and (2) focusing more of your local SEO effort on drumming up that in-person business.  My guess is you’re not emerging suddenly.

 

Of course, I don’t know your specific situation, so I assume it’s safe and legal for you to “reopen” in one manner or another.  I assume you’ll apply your best judgment.

I’ve put together a quick checklist of the main quick tasks to help you pick up your local SEO effort where you left off, and maybe even make a little progress.  Here’s my “reopening” checklist (chunked into sections for clarity):

Google My Business (“GMB”)

  1. Make sure your GMB page is not marked “temporarily closed.” The ideal situation is you never did that, because for a while marking your business as “temporarily closed” would you from the 3-pack (from what I saw). In any event, now is probably a good time to mark it as “open.”  By now, most people know to check with you if they’re unsure of your hours or SOPs.

  1. Accept or deny any auto-updates Google has made on your GMB page, depending on whether they’re accurate.
  1. Make sure your latest GMB post reflects your current status, especially if you created a sticky post or a “COVID update” post.
  1. Confirm your GMB description is up-to-date.

  1. Submit edits on any recent keyword-stuffing in competitors’ Google My Business “name” fields. (In the COVID era Google has allowed certain kinds of descriptive phrases in there, which of course certain people have used as a justification to keyword-stuff even more than they did before .)

Website

  1. Make sure your title tags reflect your status as of reopening time (if you updated any of your title tags to reflect your COVID status).  Even if your title tags are unchanged, at least your description tag (or even a sitelink) should anticipate and address the question on everyone’s mind.

  1. Make it clear whether your online or “virtual” offering is available long-term, once you’ve resumed seeing customers / clients / patients in-person. Many business owners scrambled to roll out that kind of service and to create a page for it, but many of them conflated that page with their “COVID policies” page. So you want to make it clear to people whether your virtual offering is or was strictly a spring of 2020 thing.

  1. Confirm your “contact” page reflects your current status: how open you are, your hours, willingness to offer a virtual service, etc.

Reviews

  1. Determine whether Google is allowing new Google Maps reviews through. As you may know, Google put new reviews on hold for a while, though Google been allowing some reviews through (to varying degrees) since about mid-April, from what I’ve observed. Do a dry run by asking someone you know (customer or not) to leave you a Google review.  A few hours later or maybe the next day, sign out of your Google account, open an incognito browser tab, and see if you can see the review in Google Maps.
  1. Try responding to a Google review to confirm whether Google has restored your ability to respond to reviews. (Yep, that feature also was on ice for a while.)
  1. Encourage a recent customer or other reviewer to mention your safety protocols in his or her review. That accomplishes at least a couple things: it makes it clear you’ve seen customers recently, and it gives would-be customers a sense of your business’s current SOPs.

Other

  1. If you run Google Ads (AdWords), make sure none of your ads or extensions has been pulled because you mentioned the pandemic or telehealth by name. (You can only refer to those obliquely.)
  1. If applicable, make sure HealthGrades shows correct answers in the FAQs section (which shows up because HealthGrades uses Schema FAQs markup).

  1. Send a “howdy” or low-key announcement to anyone who may have wanted to visit your business or work with you in recent months, but who couldn’t. I’m referring to people you had to turn away, people who had safety concerns you may have addressed in the meantime, etc. I’m sure your website and Facebook page will convey the message, but I’d also recommend an email blast, a one-on-one email, or even (dare I say) a piece of snail mail.  Even if your rankings are OK and you’ve got no local-visibility-related problems, it may be a while before you get any new customers through the local search pipeline. See who’s been stuck in the pipeline for the last few months.  No doubt some people have lost interest, while others are in real bad need of what you offer.

 

Once you’ve reopened, of course you’ll get back to the same challenges you had before: getting more visible than your competitors are, and getting business out of the deal.  Then you’ll be back to the same questions, like of how to earn good links, how to get good reviews, how to make your site as big and bad as it can be, how to keep a lid on competitors’ spam, and more.  In a strange way it may feel good to get back to the point where those things are the biggest problems; they might not seem as daunting.

What else is on your reopening to-do list?  Anything I forgot?

Any big decisions you’re pondering (that tie in with local search)?

Leave a comment!

Free SEO Help for Small, Locally-Owned Businesses Hurt by Looting & Rioting in 2020


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If you’re part of a small and locally owned business that’s been looted or trashed by rioters in recent days – or if you know someone in that situation – I’m glad to provide some pro bono marketing / SEO help.  All you’d need to do is contact me, though you’ll probably want to read the rest of this post for context.

Many problems marketing just can’t solve, of course.  But I can think of at least a few situations in which a little well-executed local SEO or other online marketing helps your business get by for at least a while longer.  For example:

  • Your store or office is boarded-up or not staffed, so you need to offer a mobile, home-based, or online/virtual service.
  • Your store is destroyed, but you can sell some of your products online and ship them.
  • You’re fully operational, but nobody’s coming to your doors due to some combination of riots, police, the COVID lockdown, or nearby peaceful protests.

No business should be looted or trashed, and larger outfits often serve a purpose in minority communities.  But any medium-sized chain (or larger) business is less likely to have been seriously hurt by the rioting.  Larger organizations are not my clients, and that’s always been true of my pro bono work, too.

That’s why my offer is geared more toward family businesses and the like.  I’m thinking particularly of (a) single-location or other very “local” businesses that are (b) owned and operated by People of Color who (c) also live in the affected community or nearby.  But there is a know-it-when-I-see it factor here.  In any case, I’ll ask you for basic info about you and your situation.

Peaceful protests are important and noble.   Violent rioters’ hostage-taking is selfish and evil.  Looting and destroying makes economic hardships even harder, and that ultimately means hungry kids, not just broken or missing “replaceable stuff.”  Anyway, if your livelihood and family’s future have suddenly become collateral damage, I’d like to do what I can to help.

Again, I am not saying online marketing can solve every problem or even can come close.  But let’s at least make it one small-to-medium factor working in your favor.  You can contact me (or pass this along) and let’s discuss what we can do pro bono.

Two quick notes:

1. My universal caveat: my time is pretty limited. Time is a limiting factor in my longstanding Visibility for Veterans program, in my offer to certain businesses early in the COVID pandemic, and in my work for my many clients.

2. If you’re an SEO or other marketer and you also would like to offer some pro bono help, please let me know. It would be great to have a few skillsets besides mine, because every business owner’s needs are a little different, especially now. (Maybe we can even get a Google Drive doc of pros who offer this or that, in this amount or that, and affected business owners can just contact whomever seems like the best fit.)

Even if you don’t have a need for pro bono local-marketing help, if you’re a business owner in a situation like the one I described, I’m still interested to hear how things are.  Do send “just a howdy” if you feel like it.

Stay frosty.

Pro Bono Local SEO Help for Businesses Locked Down by Coronavirus


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If you or someone you know is a business owner whose business has been shut down or severely hobbled by Coronavirus regulation or the like, I’m glad to offer a bit of local SEO/search/visibility advice free of charge or obligation.  All you’d need to do is read the stuff below and email me your questions.

It’s possible you’re not legally allowed to see customers / clients / patients at all, or in the way you usually do.  In that case maybe you have a plan B you want to get off the ground, or you’re rolling out a remote, “socially distanced” version of your service, or you just want to use your downtime to maximum effect so that business is OK once this has stabilized.  For goals like those I can probably help.

Some things to know – please read all of this before contacting me:

1. I can offer only a limited amount of help. My family and clients are my first priorities, and I have a full dance card.  I can’t do hands-on work for you, or spend much time.  The ideal situation is you have some specific and pressing local-search-related questions, and just want clear guidance on what to do.  I’ll email you back.  There’s a chance I’ll also suggest a quick phone call, if that’s the quickest way to convey my suggestions.

2. Your struggles need to be specifically because of Coronavirus. I’m thinking of dentists who aren’t allowed to see patients at all, doctors who can’t perform elective procedures for a while, and restaurant owners who rely on butts in the chairs more than on takeout – for example.

3. Some groups of people I can’t help. If you’re a marketer/SEO with a client who’s been clobbered by recent events, you’ve got my empathy, and you can send this to a client and he or she can contact me and CC you, but I wouldn’t send you advice that you white-label and charge for.  If you’re a competitor of one of my clients, I probably can’t help (for obvious reasons).  If your business is one that’s in a temporary slowdown, but not in a real pinch caused by COVID-19 regulation or aftermath, then I can’t offer any pro bono help, because you’re in the same situation as probably 80% of businesses.  My SOP is “I know it when I see it.”

4. You may want to check my list of posts first, to see if I’ve done a blog post that does the trick.  (I’d love to hear if that’s all you needed.)

5. Send me at least a brief rundown on the situation CV has created for your business. I will ignore “I’m here for the free help, k thx”-type requests.  I just want to make sure you truly need help, and that it’s entirely or mostly because of regulations (or similar fallout) that hit your business unusually hard.

6. If you need or want more help than I can provide pro bono, I’ll need to point you in another direction.  I’ll tell you one of three things: (1) “Just follow those suggestions and see how far you get,” or (2) “Consider such-and-such service I offer,” or (3) “Contact so-and-so, who may be able to help – though probably not for free.” I’ll still point you in the right direction on whatever questions you send me, if possible.  It’s just that I have an obligation to “flatten the curve” on the time I spend on any one situation.

7. Some problems don’t have a local search/SEO solution.

8. Feel free to send this to someone you know.

Why am I offering to help Coronavirus-clobbered businesses for free?  Just for good karma.  On the one hand, I’m stingy with my time, because I need most or all of it to meet my commitments.  But on the other hand, if in the short time left over I can help people in a pinch, that makes me feel good.  I’ve helped veterans pro bono in a similar way for many years, and that’s worked out well.  We have an understanding, and so I can offer a little help to people who can and do use it.  Should be a similar situation here.

Plus, I always like an up-close success story.

Anyway, if all that describes your Coronavirus conundrum and the fine-print sounds reasonable, feel free to email me or to pass this along to someone you know.

Other people offering pro bono local SEO help during the Coronavirus crisis:

  • Chris Barnard of Social Dental Network.  Consider contacting Chris if you’re a dentist who’s had to hunker down, consider contacting.
  • Dani Owens of Pigzilla.  I’ve worked with Dani on many client projects over the years.  Dani also builds websites, so if you were already considering a new site, but need to hold off until things settle down, now may be a good time to get to know her.

You can leave a comment on this post if you have questions about the above.  (No specific SEO questions in the comments, please.  That’s what your email is for.)