This post was contributed by guest author Ryan Stewart.
Businesses of the 21st century are all connected to the digital market. Not all marketing and business relationships should be digital, but digital marketing boasts proven results in growing retention with your clients and community. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is an integral part of any digital marketing strategy. It is a crucial element in organically driving customers to your businesses via online platforms. In other words, it’s modern day marketing!
Take a look at these ways to increase that foot traffic using search engines that are more conducive to small businesses without big box SEO budgets.
Google this and Google that
If you look up the definition of “search engine” in the dictionary, you’ll probably find the word ‘Google’ somewhere in that definition. For many, “search engine” is synonymous with Google. Google is one of the masterminds in online searchability. Therefore, this search engine is an important gateway in helping your business be found through being searched for on the web. However, Google is not the only search engine out there! By limiting your SEO efforts to Google, you might be missing out on some great opportunities for small business growth.
There’s nothing like your own community. It’s where you live, where you experience the joys and bumps of life. It’s home. If you want your small business to shine, you need to set your eyes on a local presence. When it comes to marketing strategies for your small business, local SEO is the first avenue on that road. There are many different search engines on a local level that can get your small business found by the people who are looking to experience what you have.
1. Strengthen Your Yelp Presence
Major search engines index Yelp listings in their algorithms. So, setting up an active Yelp profile and utilizing keywords will get you on the market as an operating business in the area. Yelp is the Yellow Pages of our time, including content like detailed contact information, reviews, maps and photos. Yelp averages about 145 million views each month, and 70% of those come from mobile. This goes to show that many people are searching for local places while on the go, making their decisions based on Yelp listings.
To start, you want to make sure your Yelp page is aesthetically pleasing. The reason is simple: you need to get people in the door so that they can write you a review. The number one factor in Yelp’s results ranking system is reviews. So inviting people into your store, and winning that positive review, is crucial in developing a high ranking on Yelp.
A successful marketing strategy many small businesses are adopting to strengthen their Yelp presence is mobile marketing via mobile apps. For example, small businesses use geofencing to send out push notifications to ask customers to leave a Yelp review while they are in their establishment. The best time to prompt your customers to leave a review is after a great experience with your business. So why not after they have enjoyed an incredible meal?
There’s nothing like marketing in the minute. Just ask In a Pickle, a Walton Massachusetts restaurant. The eatery attributes 30-40% of its new business to its 173 Yelp reviews and its 4.5-star rating.
2. Stay Engaged on Social Media
Social media plays a huge role in your business’s online visibility. According to TechCrunch, Facebook sees 2 billion search queries every day, so it’s not something you want to overlook when you are thinking about being relevant in the digital community.
The key to boosting that visibility and SEO is staying active. For many small businesses, staying active on all the different channels can be a real challenge. There are a few ways you can combat this.
- Post Meaningful Information
- Updates on product releases
- News about trends in your industry
- Customer success stories
- Product demonstrations
- Limit Your Channels
The first thing to remember about social media is that the goal is retention. So, the first question you need to ask yourself is “What social media channels do my current customers frequent?” Then, you can develop the right SEO and marketing strategies for those channels. Simply put, you don’t need to grow a Pinterest following if your customers are not on Pinterest.
- Socialize With Your Customers
One thing that’s often overlooked by small businesses is the idea of customer engagement. It’s not enough to only post on social media; you also must actively engage with your followers. This means making sure you offer genuine responses to comments rather than canned comments. In fact, studies show that 67% of customers use a business’s social media channel as a means of customer service. So, if you’re giving canned answers, you could be doing more harm than good.
- Use a Social Media Monitoring Program:
It’s important to maintain and manage your chosen social media channels, and of course there’s an app for that. Hootsuite, TweetReach, Klout, and Buffer are all great and free programs will allow you to schedule your content ahead of time, as well as notify you when people interact with your social media profile. Many of them even come with mobile applications that offer you the opportunity to respond to comments on the go.
You can learn a lot about using social media as an SEO tool from Red Mango. The company boasts over 76K Facebook followers and 54K Twitter followers. The marketing team uses three powerful techniques to keep their business visible in the eyes of its potential customers: customer engagement, product promotion and quality visuals.
3. Get Video Savvy with YouTube
Not everyone is ready to buy products or make a decision about which product to purchase. There are many steps in the buying process, and it’s important to make your business available on the channels that complement those steps.
Some customers want to see how to use a product before they purchase it. Other’s are looking for advice about a product or service. When visuals, tutorials, or demonstrations are in demand, YouTube is the best search engine for the job. In fact, it’s the second largest search engine, next to Google, filtering over 3 billion search queries each month. If that’s not enough to convince you, 59% of people would rather watch a video than read a product review, a blog post, or even a social media feed.
Remember, it’s not always about selling. In order to grow your YouTube channel and achieve brand loyalty, you need to show that you’re an expert in your niche. Creating “How To” Videos is a great way to show customers you know the ins and out of your area of expertise.
Here are a few ways to get your business noticed on YouTube.
- Keep it Short
- Add a quality description
- Create a descriptive title
- Use Annotations
- Link your videos together
- Add tags
- Use thumbnails
- Engage with views
Creating a video is not hard! All you need is a camera and a basic editing software. You can certainly find a How To YouTube video that guides you through the process. It’s an inexpensive way to cultivate an online presence. It’s also an excellent local SEO marketing strategy that’ll help you increase customer acquisition.
There’s always power in creativity as well. This is the approach BlendTec took, and it has earned them 775,000 subscribers and over 1 million views. The company created a show called, “Will it Blend?” And, it literally tried to blend anything that would seem impossible to blend. The comedy and enjoyment led loyal followers to purchase high quality blenders from BlendTec. After 10 years of “Will it Blend” episodes, the company reports 1000% increase in sales that are directly related to its YouTube SEO efforts.
4. Answer Questions on Quora
Quora’s 190 million users consist of industry experts actively engaging with their potential customers by answering industry specific questions. It’s quickly becoming the go-to place for finding answers to any intellectual and relevant question you can think of. Thus, it’s a search engine for those people looking for answers to very specific questions. The key to capitalizing on the benefits Quora has for your business is to answer questions and showcase your knowledge about your niche.
With any SEO strategy, the goal is to optimize your online presence and create more visibility for your business. This is easily achieved when you think of Quora as a search engine for your business.
- You will be reaching your targeted audience where they are seeking answers.
- You will be strengthening your reputation among peers and customers.
- You can easily promote your website and your content.
Quora played a large role in the growth of a small technology marketing firm owned by Gail Dempsey. Dempsey credits Quora for increased traffic to her website because she answered industry specific questions about topics and linked back to blogs on her website that address similar industry issues.
One thing you need to remember if you are using Quora as a search engine is that it’s not a place to offer salesy type language and promote your business. It’s a search engine that is geared at customer retention. You offer valuable knowledge to the community, and because of the value you provide, people seek you out because they trust what you have to offer.
You don’t have to master Google to get your business found online. In fact, SEO has grown far beyond where your business shows up in a Google search. SEO consists of many avenues, but two important takeaways are, 1. Remaining relevant in the market with great client service and 2. Utilizing your business keywords for search engine optimization (SEO). The bottom line is simple, as long as you adopt SEO as a factor in your marketing strategies, your customer foot traffic will increase, and retention numbers will grow along with that.
Ryan Stewart is a Digital Marketing Consultant with over 8 years of experience working to help Fortune 500 companies grow their online presence. He currently resides in Miami, where he owns boutique creative agency WEBRIS. You can find Ryan on Twitter and LinkedIn.