Posted by . In topics: Digital Marketing · Local Search/Google · Marketing

Big companies use PR firms to keep the press up to speed on their latest product announcements, event sponsorships, management changes, and other important information.  All of these announcements inundate the press (i.e. spam) and have actually created a backlash – many journalists now look to blogs in their area of interest for the really interesting stuff.  This is even happening in local press, where reporters eye local blogging content to spot trends and subjects of interest.

What does this have to do with your business?  Blog writers are always searching for fresh meat (trust me) and are often very open to direct communication, comment, and suggestion.  If a local blogger is writing about something that you’re an expert in, or a product/service area that you serve, it’s likely the blogger would welcome your input (much more so than a traditional journalist).  Also, it’s not at all unusual and, under the right conditions, not unethical, for bloggers to accept offers of free products/services to evaluate and comment on.  If the blogger does pick up your idea or input, you can often get a nice little bump in traffic for the effort.  If the local paper cites or follows up on that blog, or if the organizations that compile the “best of” lists in your town pays attention to bloggers (most do now), you could get a significant recognition and months of free publicity.

Bloggers often do a pretty good job of optimizing their sites for Google too.  This means that their work (and potentially your press) might be picked up by a broader audience than just their core followers. Read more »

Posted by . In topics: Advertising · Digital Marketing · Local Search/Google · Marketing

Google is putting their money where their mouth isn’t:  brand marketing via broadcast media.

The internet advertising behemoth has been running broadcast ads since mid-January and invested an estimated $5 million for a single 53-second Super Bowl TV ad.  The spot, an emotion-laden story about life, love and adventure, driven by Google searching, was one of the critic’s favorites this morning.

What most advertising pundits missed was this:  Why does a company that has unlimited ability to advertise and build name recognition across billions of web pages every single day need to advertise on TV?  The answer:  Google is facing real competition today from Microsoft/Bing, and soon probably from Apple.  They realize that they can’t just win with superior algorithms any more.  And they know something that a company learns by driving and analyzing 60% of internet advertising:  internet ads do a lousy job of branding and building desire. Read more »

Posted by . In topics: Digital Marketing · Local Search/Google

If Google has its way, its new local search technology will soon be the arbiter of ‘hot’ or ‘not.’  The latest (local) product, Google “Favorites,” is designed to label one business per specific locale the ‘favorite’ for its business category.  This nod will be driven by consumers in a variety of ways involving social and mobile tools that are part of the new product launch.

If you’re one of the small businesses that hasn’t paid much attention to Google and it’s local search, you’d better start before this tech creates a hard-to-crack stratification of haves and have-nots.  If you’re familiar or active with Google Local, use your knowledge to start fighting for this new beach-front real estate today.   Read more »

Posted by . In topics: Customer Retention · Digital Marketing · Local Search/Google · Marketing · Social Media

With recent advances in search technology, your customers’ experiences can now be instantly in the public domain and, in many cases, magnified by the size and nature of social networks.  This adds to the existing risks posed by sites that offer un-moderated ‘ratings’ of local businesses – many of which you may not even know exist.

If you don’t already, its time to start taking steps to manage your brand’s reputation online – at the very least, to find out if there are any reputation-killers lurking in the dark recesses of the web.  For most businesses, this can be as simple as a doing a couple of quick searches each month, or setting up an automated Google Alert to do the searching for you.  Other businesses may need to dedicate more effort to this issue; particularly ones that are active in social media, have high staff turnover, face very aggressive competitors, or who’ve had problems with product quality or customer service.

In this, the first of two posts on Reputation Management, we’ll cover why you should be concerned and how you can take steps to monitor what’s said about you or your business online.  In the second post, we’ll focus on how to use this information, including strategies for remedying bad situations. Read more »

Posted by . In topics: Advertising · Digital Marketing · Local Search/Google · Marketing

Every month, our team of marketing, operations, and strategy professionals put their heads together to answer a reader’s question about growing his/her small business. You can click here to submit your own question, and please feel free to join this discussion by adding your comments below

Rachel H., Stamford CT

Q: My staff and I put a lot of time into our website – it has a fantastic design, includes video testimonials, detailed pages about all of the services we provide, and have a very good page of Frequently Asked Questions.  It’s so much better than our competitors’ sites that several are even starting to copy us.  I get a lot of positive feedback from customers about the site so I know it does what we want it to do.  The problem is that it doesn’t generate a lot of traffic.  But the traffic it does get results in an email to us about 20% of the time, which I understand is a very high converting level.  I have our www address on our direct mail pieces and very large print in the occasional newspaper ads that we run. I’ve had web programmers offer to do things (that I don’t fully understand) to make it show up more often in Yahoo and Google, but the bids are pretty expensive and I just don’t know if they will work.  What do you recommend? Read more »

Posted by . In topics: Digital Marketing · Local Search/Google

Does your business show up on the first page of a Google search for your firm’s general category/service? If not, you’re in the same boat as many other local businesses and you’re probably missing revenue opportunities as a result.  The good news is that even the smallest firms now have a free, easy-to-use tool to help them solve this problem.

It’s important to remember that only a minority of your potential customers actually search for vendors – roughly 4 customers go to ‘known’ firms for every 1 that uses a search engine to find one – but now you have a better chance than ever to compete for these searchers without a large investment in your own website and the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that is needed to get it found today. Read more »

Posted by . In topics: Digital Marketing · Local Search/Google · Marketing

Our first post about Google’s local search tools focused on the basic what, why, and how to help you get started.  This second installment focuses in on the critical steps for improving your local search ranking.

You may have heard or read that having ‘incoming links’ to your website is critical for appearing high in a Google search result.  This is true.  A very large component of Google’s overall ranking scheme is based on how popular your page is, as measured by the number (and relative popularity) of sites linking to yours.  But what if you don’t have many, or any, links coming to you from outside sources?  What if you don’t even have a website?  Don’t sweat.  There’s another way to be found. Read more »