Targeting. All marketers say they do it… few really do.
Targeting saves money. Targeting puts your ad message in front of the right eyeballs. I have said before that if you focus on marketing you don’t have to advertise as much. If your business focused on differentiating your brand from your competitors better, you wouldn’t need to use as many methods of advertising to promote your marketing messages.
Targeting is about putting your business in front of those consumers ready to buy your product of service.
Targeting has been the key advantage of directional marketing efforts over creative ones. Directional marketing, a term that was first coined by TMP in 2001, is when buyers are looking for sellers vs the other way around, like creative marketing.
According to Wiki:
Directional Marketing is a type of marketing, a measurable form of direct response advertising, whose primary role is to point a potential consumer toward the completion of the sales process or service selection. Unlike traditional direct marketing which typically communicates to unsolicited consumers, directional marketing is primarily consumer initiated where consumers seek out advertising to aid in their purchase decision, e.g., to identify potential vendors with which to do business. Examples of known forms of Directional Marketing media are the Yellow Pages, Internet, or Electronic Yellow Pages and Local search (Internet).
For most small businesses, every dollar is precious. Small businesses do not advertise for the sake of advertising, they can’t afford it. Small businesses, to the most extent, do not have the financial resources necessary to invest in brand recognition. Branding requires repetition of the brand message. Which takes a lot of money to become the most effective. There are many forms of creative branding media, such as the radio, television, magazines, and direct mail.
The most effective form of advertising for small businesses has been and always will be the one that has the highest usage and frequency. Selecting the right media to advertise has commonly been an easy choice for SMBs, since this used to be the yellow pages. It is now Local Search.
Local search is Easy.
Oops. I said it.
Local search is not as fragmented as the industry wants you to believe. Everyone in the space is fighting for a piece of the pie. Internet yellow pages sites (like SuperPages.com, YP.com, Local.com etc) are fighting for traffic just like the local vertical directory sites (AttorneysListed.com, Lawyers.com, Elocalplumbers.com, Restaurant.com etc) and they all want a piece of the location-based social networks (FourSquare, Gowalla, Facebook Places etc.) With all these different options to advertise, why did I say that local search is easy? It all begins with Google (and 25% Bing.) All of these sites must get traffic from Google in order to provide value to advertisers. Traffic from Google brings eyeballs which turns into leads and phone calls. If you can master Google, you master local search.
Since Google is where consumers begin researching for local product and service providers, it only makes sense that the first thing a business do is optimize for Google Places. This does not mean paying some odd $150.00 per month fee to some company to “manage listings.” Google Places Optimization is a holistic effort that requires scheduling multiple activities, such as local listing optimization and blog content strategy. It also requires positive reputation management and a well planned ratings and review aggregation process that incorporates leveraging your positive reputation online. All this sounds like some sort of mumbo jumbo, and likely the reason why so many are experiencing SEO scams.
Local SEO in a nutshell:
- Schedule listing optimization to create Google Places citations
- Schedule on-site content for your website pages and posts
- Schedule off-site content for mass articles, niche directories, press releases, and industry vertical sites.
In “The Death and Rebirth of Editorial Citation on the Web,” Rand Fishkin suggests that as much as 20% of the links on the web exist solely for the purpose of influencing search rankings. Keep in mind that Holistic SEO tells us to consider the value of content, not just spammy article links with synonym swapping techniques that the search engine algorithm has accounted for.
- Collect ratings and reviews from your clients and create a process to promote them in local search
Don’t be fooled by anyone telling you your local rank is dictated by a specific signal, especially if that signal is the number of reviews your business has. You do not need to go wild with reviews to rank. Reviews are game-able, and thus not a good long-term local search signal.
- Become involved in your online community. Become an advocate and curator of online discussion…. this builds links too!
- Learn how to use Advanced Search Operators to improve research on Google
- Create an account with StepRep for Reputation Management and awareness for just $19 per month
- Leverage the social signals and PageRank of sites like Facebook and Twitter, but don’t expect to receive the traffic needed to monetize the effort unless these pages rank on Google. Social sites are great for influencing Google rankings, but they are more about marketing and reputation than new customer opportunities.
Social sites are great tools of creating a positive brand and increasing your authority online. I often recommend including social sites in your link building efforts. Social Media Optimization strategies can be scheduled and automated, such as social media bookmarking and social media posting. The main thing to keep in mind when looking to incorporate social media in your online marketing strategy is to focus on interacting with discussion amongst your online community.
Take a look at the strategies that Metro Tickets in Dallas has implemented. With my help, Metro Tickets offers FREE TICKETS to events around Dallas – Fort Worth with new FREE TICKET TUESDAY promotion. This once a week promotion on Facebook offers the chance for the companies FACEBOOK FANS to win tickets for answering simple trivia questions.
- Don’t fall for the product pushers. Holistic search marketing methods require us to consider all opportunities, but this also means that you need to be careful where you invest your ad dollars. You will get calls everyday from some local website or person offering to list your business. One would think that the first thing you would do is conduct a search on Google for what it is that you do and where you do it. The results on Google should help you decide which product-centric pushers you should do business with and which ones are not on the radar. Keep in mind that most local web traffic starts with Google (and 25% Bing/Yahoo.)
- Last but not least: Don’t participate in the SEO vs PPC debate. You need both! Holistic search marketing helps you rank all over Google, not just at the top. Everyone says they can get you to the top, but the clicks and conversions depend upon the message title and description in the SERP (search engine results page.)
I often recommend a 50/50 budget distribution between everything SEO (content, web design, video, listings, and images) and everything PPC (paid search, content network, promoted video, local tags.)
For further advice on local search marketing, visit my website.
While SEOs can provide clients with valuable services, some unethical SEOs have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to manipulate search engine results in unfair ways. Practices that violate our guidelines may result in a negative adjustment of your site’s presence in Google, or even the removal of your site from our index. Here are some things to consider:
- Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue.Amazingly, we get these spam emails too:
I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories…”
Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for “burn fat at night” diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators.
- No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.
- Be careful if a company is secretive or won’t clearly explain what they intend to do.Ask for explanations if something is unclear. If an SEO creates deceptive or misleading content on your behalf, such as doorway pages or “throwaway” domains, your site could be removed entirely from Google’s index. Ultimately, you are responsible for the actions of any companies you hire, so it’s best to be sure you know exactly how they intend to “help” you. If an SEO has FTP access to your server, they should be willing to explain all the changes they are making to your site.
- You should never have to link to an SEO.Avoid SEOs that talk about the power of “free-for-all” links, link popularity schemes, or submitting your site to thousands of search engines. These are typically useless exercises that don’t affect your ranking in the results of the major search engines — at least, not in a way you would likely consider to be positive.
- Choose wisely.While you consider whether to go with an SEO, you may want to do some research on the industry. Google is one way to do that, of course. You might also seek out a few of the cautionary tales that have appeared in the press, including this article on one particularly aggressive SEO:http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2002002970_nwbizbriefs12.html. While Google doesn’t comment on specific companies, we’ve encountered firms calling themselves SEOs who follow practices that are clearly beyond the pale of accepted business behavior. Be careful.
- Be sure to understand where the money goes.While Google never sells better ranking in our search results, several other search engines combine pay-per-click or pay-for-inclusion results with their regular web search results. Some SEOs will promise to rank you highly in search engines, but place you in the advertising section rather than in the search results. A few SEOs will even change their bid prices in real time to create the illusion that they “control” other search engines and can place themselves in the slot of their choice. This scam doesn’t work with Google because our advertising is clearly labeled and separated from our search results, but be sure to ask any SEO you’re considering which fees go toward permanent inclusion and which apply toward temporary advertising.
- What are the most common abuses a website owner is likely to encounter?
One common scam is the creation of “shadow” domains that funnel users to a site by using deceptive redirects. These shadow domains often will be owned by the SEO who claims to be working on a client’s behalf. However, if the relationship sours, the SEO may point the domain to a different site, or even to a competitor’s domain. If that happens, the client has paid to develop a competing site owned entirely by the SEO.
Another illicit practice is to place “doorway” pages loaded with keywords on the client’s site somewhere. The SEO promises this will make the page more relevant for more queries. This is inherently false since individual pages are rarely relevant for a wide range of keywords. More insidious, however, is that these doorway pages often contain hidden links to the SEO’s other clients as well. Such doorway pages drain away the link popularity of a site and route it to the SEO and its other clients, which may include sites with unsavory or illegal content.