Directory Maximizer

A Handy Guide to Local SEO by Directory Maximizer

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As a local business user, your SEO budget is one of the most important things you manage each month. A website’s listing on search engines provides peace of mind to thousands of business owners around the world by enabling them to get in touch directly with local customers, where word of mouth or physical advertising wasn’t cutting it.

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But local business owners tend not to overlap with technology experts or software engineers, but we do think that traditional businesses need to go through the learning curve of setting up a local SEO campaign. Here are some vital tips that will help with your local search rankings and enable you to get quick access to hungry customers.

1. Optimized Local Place Pages are Key

The first and most important step to take to ensure high rankings in local search pages is to build “Place Pages” for all the search engines you’re targeting. (Here are the links to Bing, Yahoo! and Google Places)

This ensures that the search engines understand you run a local business, which will then allow them to incorporate your listing into their search results.

However, it is vital for you to optimize your places page with accurate and targeted information, to make sure you are placed above your customers.

  • Categorize your business into the relevant category – uncategorized businesses are NOT listed in search results!
  • Ensure all of your information is accurately specified – you have the same NAP (Name, Address, Phone) everywhere, in all the listings, for consistency’s sake
  • Make sure you upload plenty of high quality photos
  • Detail your hours of operation
  • Specify the services you offer

2. Reviews Matter. A Lot.

Reputations make or break businesses. A highly rated business will get more clicks than a 1-star or 2-star listing – which is very important as far as SEO goes – a competitor who is getting more clicks will rise higher in the rankings. Moreover, it is becoming more and more apparent that Google is looking at ratings as a factor for rankings. Make sure you invite all users to your website to leave a review! Be proactive about responding to reviews – your involvement in the websites reputation is a very positive sign.

Don’t post false reviews! This is the easiest way to get penalized – let the reviews flow in naturally and honestly.

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3 Brands That Are Getting Content Marketing Right

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Since the beginning of time, businesses have wanted to build relationships with customers.

1. The press gave rise to print advertising.

2. The radio enabled radio advertising.

3. Television allowed 30- and 60-second spots.

4. The web yielded banners and popups.

With each invention and new communications medium, businesses reached more and more customers piggybacking on content that people would pay attention to.

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The Internet was by far the most important invention making it possible for brands to become publishers and to publish without the prohibitive fixed costs of presses and antennas while the next medium, dubbed “social” brought about a revolution allowing commercial brands to reach audiences with their messages in a much easier fashion. The challenge, however, was that social media gave distribution power to the people. This meant that brands had to start telling stories that inspire and provoke consumers’ attention and willingness to share.

If you’re in marketing, you’ve probably heard of the following:

1. Red Bull’s magazine that circulates to 2 million people a month.

2. American Express on OpenForum.com

3. Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” video

Because of social media’s new powerful influence, “publish or perish” is no longer just the dreaded axiom of academics. Commercial brands are also embracing the concept.

So Which are the Brands that are Getting Content Marketing Right in 2014?

1. American Express

If there is one brand that knows how to do rock content marketing, it’s American Express. One of their most booming endeavors is American Express Unstaged or AmexUnstaged. American Express Unstaged is a program that live streams concerts by high profile music celebrities. Fans from all over the world get to view, not only the event in live performance, but also exclusive videos before and after the event.

American-Express

According to Walter Frye, Director of Entertainment Marketing & Sponsorships at American Express, “Content is an important piece in all of our marketing efforts. Extending our messaging through content is a great way for us to continue to convert our customers from simply seeing a message to considering our brand.”

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A Step by Step Guide to Video Marketing

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If you feel online video is just another over hyped, passing fad, think again. In fact, online video is gaining strength as a type of content. The web trending towards video is made obvious by the popularity of YouTube. This may lead to the conclusion that we simply don’t like to read anymore. But the video preference situation we’re witnessing is much more detailed than that. So, why video?

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According to Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D. —a leading speaker, author and consultant to brands like Amazon, Disney and Walmart, there are 4 core and very human reasons why we are drawn to videos.

1. The fusiform face area (FFA) is a part of the human visual system that, it is speculated, is specialized for facial recognition. This is an actual brain function that hard-wires us to use the human face as a gathering point for information.

2. Voice converts information into meaningful content.

3. Emotions are contagious.

4. Movement grabs attention. Since the Stone Age, we’ve survived by noticing things in motion – we still do!

Show off Your Business Skills with Online Videos

Since YouTube arrived on the scene, online video has played a vital role in advertising and marketing. Leaders in every sector including health care, retail, and travel are sharing videos to showcase their industry expertise, educate consumers and demonstrate how their products and/or services work.

Marketers leverage the power of online videos to:

  • Establish industry knowledge and expertise
  • Put a face to a name and business, reinforcing trust
  • Help customers visualize a process or service

The take-away so far…

Human beings are visual creatures. We trust and rely on what we can see in front of us. Videos can help potential and current customers understand exactly what you’re offering. Show your customers that you are reliable, experienced and willing to take the time to explain your work.

4 Types of Videos to Implement in any Content Marketing Strategy

If you’re not already implementing videos into your current marketing strategy, you’re grossly behind the market. To get you started on this front, here are 4 essential types of videos that you should implement in any content marketing strategy:

1. Interactive Videos

Interactive videos allow users to have some level of interaction so that they may alter or change the outcomes of future parts during the video. They are used for a wide array of purposes. For example, fashion sites and media outlets often use interactive video technology.

2. Review Videos

Review videos assess companies, products and/or services. They are excellent to showcase details about your products and/or services and describe important benefits and weaknesses.

3. Testimonial Videos

Testimonial videos use customers to discuss their experience using a particular product and/or service. They are a great way to make customers the heroes. Testimonial video often feature aspects of your products, services and/or company.

4. Blog Videos

Blog videos support blog content. They are more casual and range from 45 seconds to 3 minutes in lengths. Use blog videos to share tips and tricks with your community. Like blog articles, blog videos should be relevant.

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5 Essential SEO Tips for Local Businesses

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You can be sure that your competitors are competing for search results, and if you aren’t trying just as hard, you’re giving business away. As a small business, you have to do everything you can to expose your brand to as many local potential customers as possible. The thing is, these days consumers spend more time online than they do watching TV.

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The best way to reach Internet-savvy customers is to position yourself highly on Google and other major search engines. To sell your prospects on your product or service from the top of the SERPs, you’ll have to set up a plan to optimize social media presence, reviews and on-page elements.

Optimize On-Page Data

Optimizing your on-page data is the crucial first step. You must ensure that your on-page elements align with what Google wants to see. Here are a few tips to get you headed in the right direction:

  • Create an appropriate domain name. Your domain should speak to what you do and where you’re located. The simplest way to do this is to literally combine your business name with the city you’re in. For instance, if you’re “Cici’s Cuts,” and you’re located in NYC, www.ciciscutsnyc.com would be a nice domain for you.
  • Use relevant keywords. Place keywords in your titles and in your pages that are relevant to your business, your product and your location. Use keywords naturally. Another good idea is to go for long-tail keywords.
  • Spread your NAP data far and wide. You should add your name, address and phone number to every page of your site.
  • Share the love. Your content shouldn’t be all about you. Make sure that your copy reflects the fact that you’re part of a vibrant community. A great way to do this is to partner with other local businesses or to co-sponsor a local charity. Then blog about it! Also, mention what part of town you’re in and the landmarks in your immediate vicinity.

Encourage User Reviews

Reviews give you immediate social proof, and they increase your visibility in local search results. Importantly, the way in which you engage with reviews also affects your visibility. Here are a few tips to help you engage positively with reviews:

  • Never, ever buy reviews. It can be tempting. Hiring people to post reviews for you can backfire spectacularly. If you lose the public’s trust, you might have to fork over money you don’t have to a PR firm.
  • Encourage organic reviews. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with encouraging satisfied customers to leave a review. Checkout flyers, website callouts and email followups are great ways to do this. The more authentic reviews you generate, the more you’ll stand out in local search results. Yes, this means that you will get the odd negative review, but that comes with the territory. There isn’t a credible business in existence that doesn’t have any bad reviews.
  • Encourage reviews across the Web. As part of your outreach, encourage customers to post reviews to as many sites as possible. Your reviews are at their least effective on your own site. Sites like Yelp! and Epinions have huge influence.
  • Respond to reviews. If you’re a hot-head, you might want to have someone else handle this. You want to respond to reviews proactively, but if you’re hostile, you can cause a bad review to go viral. If you come across a negative review, thank the author for their feedback and ask them to get in touch with you so you can go over their issue in more detail.

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How to Optimize Your Business Listing on Google+ Local

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Every day, millions of people search for businesses on Google. This makes it important for you to have a local business listing that can be easily found on Google.com and Google Maps. With Google+ Local, you can do this in a matter of minutes and it does not cost a thing.

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Why use Google+ Local

1. You can speak for yourself

With Google+ Local, you can create a great listing for your business and make sure its details are accurate and thorough.

2. It’s easy to use

A local business listing is an easy way to maintain an online presence with or without a website.

3. It’s free

Creating a listing on Google+ Local is completely free. You can, in addition, make your listing shine by adding extras to it like photos and videos, custom categories and coupons to encourage customers to check in or make a first-time purchase.

How to Make the Most of Your Listing on Google+ Local

More people search for businesses online than anywhere else. A rich listing which features a description, appropriate images and videos, business hours and a link to your website will encourage potential customers to choose your service over others. Accurate and thorough information can also help Google match your listing to more searches directly increasing the number of views your listing gets.

So How Can you Optimize the Listing for Your Business on Google?

Google+ Local brings users and their local businesses together. To that end:

1. Create a business listing that is both complete and accurate.

  • Make sure your business location is entered correctly. Do not place your pin marker at a location where your business does not physically exist.
  • List your official business website on the local listing. Do not provide URLs that redirect users to landing pages other than those of the actual business.
  • Include images and videos. This will help your business stand out.
  • Include other relevant and useful information such as your opening hours.
  • And of course, make sure your business name and phone number are accurate. Provide a phone number that connects to your individual business location instead of a call center number whenever possible.

2. Choose the Right Categories for Your Business.

  • For your business to show for the right searches, you need to pick a category from the list of suggestions that depicts what your business is.
  • Choose specific categories instead of broad ones if those are more appropriate. The point is to describe your business well.

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How To Make Offline & Online Marketing Tactics Work In Synergy

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Digital marketing is dying. Well, technically it’s not, but in the grander scheme of things, it is. Let me explain.

There is a very fine line between offline and online marketing. And this line keeps getting finer and finer. They’re continuously merging. “Digital” or “online” marketing should not be considered as a distinct and separate line of marketing. It should be done in congruence with your offline marketing. Both types should converge towards a central message.

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All of this makes sense, right? But how do we put this information to practice? Here is how.

1. Take Advantage of Custom URLs

A problem that many marketers run into is that prospects aren’t willing to enter long URLs into their smart devices. With services like Bitly, you can track the effectiveness of your offline advertising efforts by using relevant, shortened URLs. With these services, you can create a short URL for each poster, brochure or other physical medium. Even better, these URLs track each and every visitor. If you don’t like Bitly, you can always use other 3rd party software or a self-hosted script that does the same task.

You can create entire websites dedicated to your campaign from which you can provide prospects with additional information. It’s a cinch to create special promotions for individuals who come to your offer through a physical advertisement. Simply create percent-off coupons for each type of advertisement you are running, and then assign them to their own websites. Bonus: create two URLs and assign each to a different type of advertisement and you’ve got easy split-testing.

2. Utilize Hashtags

There’s a reason that Facebook, Vine and Instagram have adopted the hashtag. Quick fact: Foursquare pioneered the hashtag, by the way! After all, hashtags provide consumers with an easy way to chat about a given topic. For marketers, this provides a means with which to gather fans around their brand. Place hashtags on your physical marketing materials anywhere that you mention your social networks. Savvy prospects know that your hashtag is an easy way to find out what people think of your business. Moreover, those prospects will use your hashtag when they discuss your product themselves, which increases your exposure tremendously.

You can encourage your fans and prospects to use your hashtags by offering a simple incentive. For instance, when you host an event, let your fans know that you’ll be offering a prize to one lucky winner. To qualify, they have to use your hashtag on Twitter or another network on the day of your event. Then, you select one winner at random. Instagram is a very good channel for this type of contest, but the prize must be something of value to generate buzz.

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9 Simple Ways to Create Content that aren’t Blogposts

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When people think content production, it’s an instinct thing to want to start writing right away. While that’s understandable, at some point though, you will need to define why you create content and what you’re trying to achieve with it. These decisions do two things:

– They give your content focus and clarity

– They make you a content publishing guru

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At the end of the day, producing and publishing content is a way to build relationships and a community around your business so people feel loyal to you. It’s a strategy for becoming recognized as a thought leader in your industry. And you want the content you create to achieve those goals be it:

  1. Prospecting; generating leads for follow-up
  2. Sales
  3. Marketing; generating interest in your business
  4. PR; building a public opinion about your products
  5. Customer support
  6. And/or thought leadership

When you are just starting out with content marketing, it makes sense to start with a blog. But as you then gain expertise, you can add one or two new types of content. The important thing to remember is you want the type of content you’re creating to check two boxes.

Ask yourself:

  1. Is it something easy to create?
  2. Will your audience appreciate information in that format?

The different types of content

Not including blog posts…

1. Video

With online video quickly becoming the preferred medium for people to satisfy their information and entertainment needs, small businesses failing to include it in their marketing strategies will do so at their peril. If you wish to increase the online visibility and impact of your business, you want a presence on video-hosting and sharing websites like YouTube and Vimeo. The common practice among marketers now is to upload videos to YouTube and these are then re-posted on their blogs. Others create a video blog, or vlog housed on YouTube.

2. Podcasts

It’s a fact of life now that different people consume content in different ways and as a business, you want to get your message and brand out there across multiple channels. Podcasts serve the purpose of adding variety to the mostly text-based content strategy that most businesses use. Podcasts are often published on iTunes, Stitcher Radio or Blubrry. Their appeal lies in the fact that you can listen to them any time, anywhere whether you’re driving to work, riding in a train or even just sitting on the couch in your living room.

3. Webinars

Next up, let’s talk about webinars. As part of your content marketing strategy, you can host webinars and present information to a live audience. You can then use any recording of the event and slides that you used as content on your website, in newsletters and on your product pages.

4. Speeches, workshops & interviews

Marketers, particularly B2B marketers, have, for the last couple of years, struggled with the fact that content is now the key that unlocks all other marketing channels. And fair enough! Sharing quality content makes email messages more likely to be opened and social media more engaging. Workshops and interviews, when implemented correctly, promote both thought leadership and brand awareness.

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