Small business owners need to understand how Google+ Local can help gain exposure for your business. Many businesses fail to realize that the internet is a powerful source of information. Albeit we don’t like it at times and even intimidating to newer users, it is something that most recognize that is important. However, you have to be found in order to drive traffic to your business. Let us start out by discussing local marketing.
Local marketing is specific. Your first step should be to go to the Google search engine (www.google.com) and type in the keyword, “Google business solutions.” The #1 search will take you to the page that deals with setting up a map for your business along with a pleather of resources. First critical detail is a map that is a free service by the search engine giant in order to help customers find you. Essentially this is like placing a listing in the yellow pages but it is online.
Online Search: Be Found
If you happen to live in Kansas City, Missouri and own a clothing store there, you will want your listing to come up on the first page for that keyword. At least as high as possible which other strategies can be put into place to move this along. This happens when a customer types something into the search box like, “Clothing stores in Kansas City, MO.” Try it out yourself and you will find several of your local retailers coming up immediately along with other type of directories, IE: yellow pages online. These are not the pay per click ads that you see on top or have heard of (known as sponsored ads). These come up in the free searches and are usually listed before the #1 website rankings for the day. When you click on these listings, it takes you right to the company website and they can call you or visit your store location. The best part about this is that it is free. Paid sponsorship options are available with Google and other search engines.
Are You Scared?
Small business owners are usually frightened by the high cost of pay per click advertising. Example as briefly mentioned above is the paid ads on top with a slightly highlighted background or on the right sidebar. Perhaps you are a business owner and have heard horror stories of campaigns costing as much as $3,000 or more per month. In actuality, a good marketing campaign can cost you as little as $500.00 or less per month. In order to get the best bang for your dollar, you are going to have to set your adwords account a little bit different than what you are used to or have heard. For starters, when you are creating your ad, make sure to put in specific words like, “cheap t-shirts in Kansas City”(keyword research is important but we’ll save that for a later date). As you can see, it mentions that you are located in MO and are specific about the city. You are also letting the consumer know that you sell t-shirts and may only be offering this in your geographical area. Next, when you place your bid, never let it go over what you can afford. The system will then ask you to specify if you want your ad to be shown all over the world, only the United States or just one particular state. It is important to only show your ad for your specific city and state. This is a common mistake for beginners to think they can go for the whole country out of the gate. You don't want someone from California clicking on your ad if they do not live in your state/city. That would spell a financial disaster for you meaning you would be further off from optimizing your campaign. Also make sure that your landing page has some sort of a coupon ad that they can show you in the store so that you can see that your campaign works.
Importance of Customer Reviews
Most small business owners live and die by their customer base. A negative perception can be very damaging to the public opinion but even a great perception can equal the opposite.
Since Google+ has ultimately taken aim at capitalizing on their ever so dominating stance online, adding their social network along with the former Google Places (now Google+ Local), gaining customer reviews is one of the easiest things you can do.
Think outside the box a bit here with me. If you could get your customers to leave a positive review (direct them to your Google+ Local page URL) but at the same time REWARD them for taking the time, Google will see these “interactions” as they should give you more of a weight when ranking you on specific search terms in your area.
Now I hear your wheels spinning… don’t set up a computer at your location and have the customer do it right there. If you have several reviews coming from the same IP address with different accounts, Google will do the ol’ Kung Fu Panda smack and you will be black balled to put it lightly. Maybe you have them scan a QR code which will direct them right on their phone? This way it will be from their internet connectivity with their phone provider.
Just some beginning ideas you could ponder some more. Have you considered integrating a basic mobile marketing strategy?
67% of Customers Trust Online Reviews
In an infograph by The SmartBiz Business Blog, 7 out of 10 online consumers trust opinions of unknown users on review sites like Yelp, Yahoo local, and Google Local. The largest group that are seeking online feedback is the 35-54 age group.
We could talk all day and then some about the many different strategies, thoughts, and ideas that many folks have on this topic. More importantly, just becoming aware of these little avenues to combat from being “lost” online will greatly benefit small business owners from a local marketing strategy perspective.
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*Featured photo credit: http://www.tkproductions.net/
*Infograph photo credit: http://smartbizmarketing.wordpress.com/