The undeniable power of search engine optimization has helped make the technique a marketing powerhouse over the course of the past decade. SEO offers a myriad of benefits for organizations of all shapes and sizes, but local business owners need to address a unique set of criteria to maximize the effectiveness of their optimization efforts. If you’re an entrepreneur looking to boost your site’s marketing prowess in your local market, consider the following essentials for mastering local SEO, once and for all.
Local Directories: Listing Your Business
Long gone are the days when consumers would turn to the Yellow Pages to connect with local business owners. Instead, modern buyers use sites like Google+ Places, Google Maps, Yahoo! Local and Bing Places for Business. Listing your business in these directories has a twofold effect. Firstly, the directories themselves serve as a valuable tool, should web users start their search with one of these portals. Local listings also enhance the overall SEO power of your website, in turn boosting your search rankings.
Social Proof: Demonstrating Your Value
Ask yourself the following question: Would you be more likely to trust the advice of an advertisement or an independent customer? In almost all instances, you’d choose a real customer’s input over a company’s advertising copy, right? This simple exercise demonstrates the incredible potential review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Google+ represent.
It’s not enough to merely claim your business’ listing on one of these sites, however. You need to publicize your presence on review sites. Many entrepreneurs include easy links in their email footers and on their business cards. You can also print signage to include in your storefront, or place small widgets on your site. Remember, it’s important not to directly solicit positive reviews, however, as you could find yourself in violation of the terms and conditions of these directories.
Mobile Users: Making Your Site Responsive
If you didn’t already know, Google changed its algorithms earlier this year to prioritize responsive sites. Responsive websites shift to fit the screen of each unique visitor. If your site isn’t yet responsive, make this a top priority in the months to come. Not only will adopting a responsive design boost your SEO performance, but it will also better convert the 63% of smartphone users performing local searches.
Running a local business and managing a corporate brand differ in a multitude of ways. Utilizing business directories, gathering social proof, and catering to mobile customers may not make much impact on a large conglomerate, but these marketing techniques have far reaching implications for small businesses. By investing your attention and resources in pursuing these marketing channels, you’re bound to increase your site’s traffic count, convert more visitors, and hopefully, grow your bottom line.
Content marketing accounts for an astounding $135 billion in annual spending, for one simple reason: it works. Great content should engage users, encourage social sharing, and ultimately convert visitors. Generating new content for the web can prove challenging, however, particularly for small businesses and restaurateurs. If you’re eager to capitalize on the power of content marketing for your business and not sure where to start, consider the following ten content ideas for restaurants.
1. Turn Your Best Dishes into Instagram Stars
Large chains spend billions of dollars each year bombarding television screens with delicious imagery in an attempt to lure in diners. You might not have the budget for a television advertising campaign, but why not use Instagram to document your latest creations?
2. Embrace the Listicle
Buzzfeed counts an impressive 200 million unique visitors each month, thanks in no small part to the digestibility of its listicles. Try your hand at creating something similar, such as 10 Plates
You Won’t Want to Miss this Month or 6 Dream Dates in [Your City.]
3. Tell Your Story in Video Format
Consumers love to learn the story behind a brand, and few mediums get the message across as well as video. Why not partner with a local videographer to broadcast what makes your restaurant truly special?
4. Release an Iconic Recipe
If your customers can’t get enough of your steak marinade or key lime pie, why not share the recipe with the masses? It sounds intimidating, by sharing favorite recipes can generate brand loyalty, encourage repeat visits, and more. Customers don’t patronize your restaurant just for the food—your ambiance, customer service, and preparation counts for more than you realize.
5. Get Your Chefs Talking
Perhaps unsurprisingly, many consumers are awful cooks. Why not ask your chefs to prepare a list of 5 simple tips you can share via social media?
6. Highlight Other Businesses
Instead of making everything about you and your brand, why not create a blog exploring the best destinations in your community and include your restaurant? You might be surprised how much traction these articles can gain quickly.
7. Host an Online Giveaway
People love free stuff. Why not host a gift card giveaway and require user submissions via social media. Encourage your followers to tag your restaurant for a chance to win, and watch the residual traffic pour in.
8. Seek Customer Input with a Poll
Internet users love to share their thoughts. Why not create a poll that will encourage user participation and provide valuable insight for your brand? Ask respondents to indicate which new special you should add to your menu or the best part of your restaurant’s cuisine.
9. Go Behind the Scenes
Customers are always intrigued by what happens behind the scenes at their favorite hotspots. Why not document a day in the life of one of your staffers or explore the creation of a new dish for the menu?
10. Create a Meme
Feeling clever? Why not make a meme using a photo taken in your restaurant? Put your link on the image and share it with the masses.
When it comes to establishing a full-fledged social media presence, many small businesses focus their attention exclusively on Facebook and Twitter. While the impressive reach of these two networks is undeniable, platforms like Pinterest represent an incredible growth opportunity for small brands. 83% of Pinterest’s users would rather interact with brands than celebrities, and a further 52% use the platform to make buying decisions. If you need further convincing, don’t overlook these key ten reasons to use Pinterest for business.
1. Pinterest Users are Motivated Buyers
Pinterest is driven by content. Research suggests that 47% of social media users have made a purchase based on a Pinterest recommendation alone.
2. There is No Better Platform for Sharing Content
Reaching the masses with your brand content often proves challenging, but Pinterest makes easy work of it. Encourage people to share your blog posts, photos, and videos by including share links directly on your website.
3. It’s Easy to Express Your Brand Aesthetic on Pinterest
The visual appeal of a brand falls under Marketing 101, but some social networks aren’t well-suited for branding messages. Pinterest makes it easy! Optimize your leverage by creating “pinnable” square graphics to accompany your content.
4. Pins Represent Long-Term Value.
Minutes after you share a tweet or Facebook post, users will see newer information at the top of their feed. Popular pins, on the other hand, can refer traffic days, weeks, and months after their original publication. If you’re striving to maximize your social media ROI, Pinterest offers a smart place to start.
5. Pinterest Drives Impressive Traffic.
Forget about paid advertisements and complicated SEO strategies—Pinterest represents one of the web’s most formidable forms of traffic generation. The network was responsible for the second-most social media referrals in 2014.
6. Market Research and Trends Abound
Never again wonder what interests your target audience. Instead, simply peruse the boards of your brand’s followers for a veritable treasure trove of information about your buyers’ habits and preferences.
7. Pinners Crave Lifestyle Content.
Pinterest’s user base skews overwhelmingly female, and its most active pinners focus their attention of food and drink, lifestyle topics, and home decor. If you’re operating in these industries, Pinterest represents explosive growth potential.
8. Pinterest Caters to a Diverse Audience.
Cutting-edge social networks like Instagram and Snapchat may be the most popular with Millennials, but Pinterest’s demographics show it counts large numbers of users across the age spectrum. Diversify your marketing efforts and start pinning!
9. The Network Keeps Growing.
Pinterest now counts nearly 80 million unique visitors monthly, an increase of 47% over last year’s numbers. Compare these numbers to the stagnant growth of both Twitter and Facebook to understand how powerful Pinterest is set to become.
10. Pinterest Plays Nicely with Other Social Networks
Fear you don’t have enough time to invest in operating a social media presence across various platforms? Fortunately, Pinterest works in conjunction with other networks. Integrate your account with Facebook, for example, and kill two birds with a single stone.
With millions of connected users across the globe, it’s hard to overestimate the power of the social web. Traditional word-of-mouth marketing can’t hold a candle to a viral web story, which is why it’s important to focus on crafting content that captures the attention of the masses. If you’re eager to harness the power of the social web for your business, use the following five tips to gain more followers, create shareable content, expand your brand clout, and ultimately, drive your bottom line upwards.
1. Elicit an Emotional Response
If you’ve ever found yourself crying over a Hallmark commercial, you’ve experienced the power an emotional advertising campaign has on its audience. Research conducted at the University of Pennsylvania suggests that good news spreads faster over social media than negative information. Tell a story through your content and aim to tug on the heart strings of your followers to maximize your content’s leverage.
2. Focus on Aesthetic Appeal
Audience perception plays a vital role in the success of your content. Not only should you craft text, photos, and videos that demonstrate authority within your niche, but you also need to ensure visual appearances aren’t neglected. Invest in a quality responsive site theme, or partner with a freelance graphic artist to produce stunning visuals for your content marketing campaign. Content that looks appealing makes a bigger impact.
3. Respond Quickly to Current Events
As stories gain traction online, Facebook and Twitter will often recognize these as trending subjects. Savvy marketers can use these trending topics to catapult their content to new heights. As web users search for information on these events, related content is displayed.
While sharing content tied to current events can result in a dramatic uptick in the popularity of your materials, you should always exercise caution when taking this approach. Too many brands have tried to tie their content to extremely sensitive subjects, in turn incurring the wrath of the blogosphere. Keep your content relevant, appropriate, and respectful to avoid this pitfall.
4. Reshare Old Content
In the current marketing landscape, it isn’t uncommon for a new blog post, video, or ad to be quickly replaced by content from other sources. Don’t craft a long post, publicize it once, and call it a day. Instead, reshare old content frequently, ensuring new followers discover it and those who may have missed it have a chance to see it again. This approach helps conserve marketing dollars and boost the power each piece of content holds.
5. Make it Easy to Share
If you want your readers to share your content, don’t ask them to jump through a million hoops. Instead, provide sharing buttons on your website that make it easy to broadcast your content with the click of the mouse. Plenty of WordPress plugins provide this functionality, helping you ensure your content reaches the largest audience possible.
When it comes to capturing the attention of potential customers, generating traffic for your business site is an important consideration. Many small business owners struggle to determine whether it makes more sense to invest in SEO or PPC, but you shouldn’t think of these tools as competing forms of traffic generation. Instead, PPC and SEO can and should work together harmoniously, transforming your site into a veritable powerhouse.
Using SEO to Grow Your Business
SEO is an umbrella term that applies to the techniques webmasters use to ensure their site meets the best standards and practices of the web’s largest search engines. Don’t be tempted to put SEO and PPC in the same box, because SEO serves a distinct purpose. Using the right SEO approach will certainly boost your traffic, but deploying a thoughtful SEO strategy is meant to establish your site’s authority.
As you create optimized content, search engines will start to prioritize your pages over others. Naturally, this results in more traffic, but it also results in increased brand exposure and name recognition. Both of these factors help a growing business succeed.
Launching a PPC Campaign
Much like a print or television advertising campaign, PPC ads provide a short-term boost for your company. Effective PPC ads target web users who are likely to be interested in your products or services. Because each click of a PPC ad results in a financial charge, most small businesses run PPC campaigns periodically, based on the constraints of their advertising budget.
SEO & PPC: Which is Better?
In a nutshell, SEO is a long-term growth strategy while PPC ads pull in immediate traffic. So, which technique is better? Neither method is inherently better than the other, but consider the following keys when the values of these tools for your business:
● SEO often represents a lower overall cost, simply because it doesn’t carry a direct financial expense like PPC clicks.
● PPC ads generate traffic much more quickly than SEO.
● SEO often represents a higher ROI over the course of a site’s lifetime, since web users are more likely to trust organic search results.
● Effective pay-per-click ads need to be optimized continually, but they’re not subject to changes in the search engine algorithms.
Feeling overwhelmed yet? While it’s certainly a lot to consider, think of it this way: PPC ads are more expensive, but they generate quick, targeted traffic. SEO works in the background and improves with time.
Before you discount one method in favor of another, instead contemplate using both tools together to maximize your site’s effectiveness. The world’s most powerful brands use a combination of SEO techniques and targeted PPC ads to connect with web users. Choose to continually invest in high-quality content that uses SEO appropriately, and deploy PPC when you’re in need of a traffic boost. While there is no perfect equation, juggling both methods will ensure your site connects with the largest audience possible.