21 Aug LocalVox: Simple Small Business SEO Tips
The following is excerpted from an interview we conducted with Cami Bird, Content and Social Media Marketing Manager at LocalVox, the online marketing platform for local businesses. In it she discusses global trends in local marketing that are key to small business success, including SEO, Mobile, Conversion, Email Marketing, Review Content, Calls-to-Action, CRMs, and how small businesses should respond to a constantly changing technological landscape. Cami is an expert in social media management and content marketing, always looking for the next great way to enhance reach and engagement so, without further adieu, enjoy!
Global Question: Key Trends for Local Marketing
Q: In your opinion, what are the main challenges local businesses face marketing in 2015?
A: The hardest part is to keep up with the changing technology. With new trends continually emerging on social media, it can be hard for a small business to know when something is worth investing their limited resources in. Unfortunately, this leads many businesses to just ignore a trend until everybody else is doing it, which is too late to be an advantage for them.
While I don’t think businesses should jump on every bandwagon, I think they should take time to read industry news. Our LocalVox blog is one of many that gives essential news on anything from the latest Google search algorithm to getting started on Facebook. By being informed, Small Businesses can know which trends are here to stay and which are fading fast, picking the right things to help them reach consumers.
Q: How would you explain the fact that 60% of SMBs today say they have trouble getting found online?
A: lot of small businesses know they need to be found on Google, but they aren’t sure how to make it happen. There are some simple things such as consistent directory listings that help small businesses get ranked, or linking their pages to one another and including photos or encouraging customer reviews. They often don’t know where to turn to take the small but powerful actions that make a difference for their visibility.
Q: What would you recommend to easily perform on google? Any SEO key tips they should know?
A: There are two main tips for getting started with SEO. First, have consistent directory listings, with a local business address (not a P.O. Box) and a local business phone number (no 1-800 numbers). This not only helps establish your business as a local small business but also makes it very easy to find for local searches.
Second, find your core keywords and use them everywhere, but in a natural way. You want to include your keywords in a few key places:
- Copy or text
- Alt-text for images
This formula works best on blog articles, but can also be used for website pages and even in review responses. While not every area will need to include keywords, the more often you use them, the easier your business can be found.
Q: What role do you think mobile can play for local businesses? How can they best use its prevalence to their advantage?
A: To respond to the mobile shift, it’s essential to have a mobile-responsive site. We’re not quite sure how mobile will change online marketing (for instance: if there will be more mobile purchases or if it will better help people find products in their local stores), but we do know that over 50% of searches happen on mobile devices. If local business websites can’t be seen by the consumers searching for them, that means they’re losing business by not taking the right steps to adapt.
Q: What kind of online strategies would you recommend in order for SMBs to boost their sales and conversions?
A: I am a huge fan of Google Analytics and Goals. By creating goals and conversion points for your site you can track who is most interested in your business and keep in touch with them. My favorite form of this is with an email list such as blog subscribers or news subscribers, where you can then contact each person on that list with one of the most successful forms of digital marketing—email! A small business can then tailor their email messages to deliver coupons or inform about the latest products, finding the correlation between emails and sales.
Q: How do you think SMBs can make the most of email marketing?
A: SMBs can do a lot with email simply by starting with a list and being in constant contact with that list. If they want to take it to the next level (where it can get a lot more complicated, but doesn’t have to), then they can tailor that message to the action that drove each individual to convert and join the list.
For example, a shoe store could have an email sign-up and give the options for emails containing women’s, men’s, children’s or all of the above shoe information. If a man is just looking for deals on the latest men’s shoes or children’s shoes for his kids, he is then getting the exact message he wants, making it easier for him to buy.
Q: Do you think other forms of messaging (SMS, social media, messaging apps) can complement or overtake email marketing in the future, and how?
A: As of right now, no. Email marketing has been a strong leader in SMB marketing even though people have predicted it would be overtaken, but I like the idea of social media or messaging apps being able to create a more intimate and friendly space for consumers and businesses to communicate. However, until there’s a network that consumers and businesses prefer to be on (other than the web itself, where email is the standard messaging format) I don’t see this happening.
The Power of Reviews
Q: A restaurant with 3.5 stars on Yelp is 63% more likely to be full than one with 3 stars. Do you think SMBs are missing their opportunity to succeed when they shy away from feedback and encouraging reviews?
A: Definitely, online reviews not only are where word-of-mouth has moved in the modern age, but also where free feedback for small businesses is provided. Consumers consult an average of 10 sources before making a purchase, meaning that they are looking for 10 or more opinions about a small business before they decide to patronize it. Can you imagine how much business is being lost by ignoring the power of reviews in this way?
Also, just because a business doesn’t encourage or respond to reviews doesn’t mean they aren’t receiving them on Google or Yelp. By monitoring, encouraging and responding to reviews, a small business can not only foster more sales, but also keep track of any negative interactions with their business and help negate issues that might emerge if they didn’t pay enough attention to feedback.
Q: How do you think SMBs should incorporate calls-to-action on their web or social media pages?
A: Calls-to-action give consumers a clear idea of what their next step should be. A business can provide all the information a consumer might need, but if a consumer doesn’t know what to do next it’s highly unlikely their visit will result in them making a purchase. There should be a CTA on every page of a small business’ website, in addition to every message they have to the public (even if it’s a social post saying “Retweet please!”).
Q: We provide local businesses with Calls-to-Action. How do you think the following CTAs benefit a local business: Online Scheduling, Click-to-Call, Click-to-Chat?
A: CTAs such as Click-to-Call or Online Scheduling give you a few ideas into (1), the success of your CTA and (2) the effect on your business. If business has a Click-to-Call onto their website and knows it gets 70 calls from it a day, 50% of those ending up with an in-store purchase, they can then estimate their cost per lead (the average purchase price / by 35 = their cost per Call-to-Click lead). Being able to have readily available information at your fingertips, as well as an easy way for consumers to contact you, can be very influential.
Q: Many SMB owners think a CRM is only useful for large enterprises. How do you think the right CRM would benefit them?
A: The right CRM benefits SMB owners by being able to provide more than just customer relationship management. For instance, our LocalVox platform allows you to contact email lists with coupons and news, but it also lets you manage your search engine ranking and social media marketing all from the same dashboard, giving you all-in-one coverage of your marketing to save a tremendous amount of time and energy.
Global Wrap-Up Questions
Q: Do you think, with the way the mobile internet has developed, SMBs should be worried about fierce competition or excited about the opportunities in front of them?
A: Excited! There will always be competition, but there has never been an easier time to beat out competition than right now. Twenty years ago a small business would never be able to get in front of thousands of consumers for such a low cost and beat out big brands, but now they can with local search and SEO.
As long as a business is willing to develop with changing technology and take advantage of new technology as it emerges, there’s no limit to how they can thrive.
Q: To conclude, what would be some key tools you’d recommend SMBs use to get the most out of their online strategies?
A: Some of my favorite tools for small business are LocalVox for its easy to use dashboard serving the majority of your marketing needs through SEO to content development and social media. When it comes to image creation, I love Canva, it’s a fairly easy-to-use free tool that can help make anything from a social post to a PowerPoint more impactful without the user having any design skills. Lastly, I love Google Analytics. It’s a powerhouse when it comes to tracking your website’s digital marketing results, and even though it’s from Google, I don’t think it’s taken advantage of nearly as much as it could be.
We offer our gratitude to Cami Bird for taking part in this interview, and look forward to publishing more interviews with Experts and Influencers who help Small Business grow. To keep up with Cami’s work, be sure to visit the LocalVox Blog and follow her with @LocalVox on Twitter!