Maximizing Local Search Engine Results

Internet marketing is a very complex endeavor.  In the last several years, new businesses and even new entire industries have been created as a result of the need to properly optimize websites and promote them and the businesses they represent on the Internet.

One simple and easy way to promote your business online is to submit it for inclusion in the local search engine results.  This is one of the many ways to promote your business online, but it is one of the fastest and least complex. Now, many of my customers ask me if I can do this for them.  The simple answer is no…it’s best and easiest if you do it yourself.  The submission process is mainly designed to be done by the business owner, not the Internet consultant.

The purpose of this post is to give you some simple and easy access to submit your business for inclusion in local results.  But before you continue, please bear in mind a few things:

1.  This is not a terribly complex or technical process, and the results are worth it.  However, you should understand that there will be a few minutes of work and attention required.  Set aside about 30 minutes before continuing.

2.  Verification is required by most of the search engines.  This means they will want to immediatly verify that your listing is real, the information is correct, and email addresses and phone numbers actually are functional.  When you decide to move forward with this process, you should be in your office or accesible at the main contact telephone number and email that you intend to use in your listing.

3.  In some cases, you’ll need to sign up for an account.  No worries…this is perfectly safe.

4.  Finally, you should have a brief description of your company, and all relevant information including hours of operation, pictures, or logos you wish to associate with your company.

Now let’s move forward. Thanks to fellow blogger Cody, from Thrillingheroics.com, I’ve been able to provide  the following simple links.  Thanks, Cody. Here are most of the popular local search engines.

Let me know how it works.  In many cases, the results will be almost immediate!  Gotta love the power of the Internet.

Published in: on November 10, 2008 at 4:04 PM  Comments (3)  
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Reasons to Not Consider a Website

Does that sound like a strange title of a blog post from a website developer?  Granted, there is some sarcasm in my words.  Here’s a list of reasons some business owners shared with me about why they do not need a website:

a.    I am about to retire.
b.    We are changing our name.
c.    Our business is being sold.
d.    The company will not be in business much longer
e.    I only give my website out to my customers.
f.    That’s handled out of our Corporate office (click).
g.    I am a manufacturer’s rep…I work for dealers/distributors only.
h.    We are a wholesaler…we work directly with only retailers.

All of these reasons, while the business owner may really believe they have some relation to a lack of need to consider a website, all suffer from the same flaw: they are illogical.  If the business owner woke up, went to work, and opened their office….in short, if they answered their phone…then they should – at a minimum – consider how a website could help them grow their business.

As a business owner, does it not stand to reason that one should be open-minded to any opportunity that exists that might enable expansion of business or provide expansion or additional stability to the client base, regardless of what extraneous circumstances might be going on with the business?

After all, you are still in business, right?

At least for now.

What’s On Your Mind?

Dear Reader:

Your opinion is important to me, so much so that I’ve designed a contest to encourage you to share it with me. I want to ask you, ‘what’s on your mind?’

As a business owner, how much do you value the Internet?

How do you think a website can help your business?

If you already have a site, what’s working well about it and what needs improvement?

If you don’t have a website what’s your reasoning for not having one?

What other questions do you have for me?

What specifically would you like to know about websites and Internet marketing?

Has the online world changed the way you do business?

Do you think you are fully taking advantage of the growing online audience that’s looking for a business like yours?

Every question posed here as a comment or in answer to one of my questions gets an entry into a drawing, which I’ll pull on Aug. 26; one entry per business please.  The winner will receive $377 off the price of a new website or $377 in web consulting if you’ve already purchased a website from me.

How Much Does a Website Cost?

How much does a house cost? A new truck? A new piece of machinery? It depends, doesn’t it?

No doubt, these are all significant financial decisions, and the final price tag is something that affects the kind of item a consumer might decide on. But in all of these cases, the answer to the “cost” question depends on a lot of different things – mostly what the consumer wants included in the item. And more than likely, the first response to the “cost” question must be “well, how much do you want to spend?” or “what price range is in your budget?”.

Yet, when a website developer answers the “cost” question by asking what is in a potential customer’s budget, the potential customer invariably thinks the website developer is asking because he intends to gouge the customer for as much as possible. Why?

And consider this. If a consumer were to find a realtor that would answer the “how much does it cost” question without asking you for any more information, what would the consumer think when he told him a price that was more than he thought he could afford? What if this was you? If the realtor said, “well I can sell you a house that costs $300,000” and you knew it was about twice what you wanted to spend? You would probably respond with something like, “Well, that’s too expensive. Can you help me find a house around $150,000?” What you would NOT think is, “Wow…that realtor was trying to take advantage of me. I better go find another realtor that is willing to sell me a less expensive house.”

Here’s the difference in how most business owners look at the website in comparison to how most consumers look at the other financial decisions previously mentioned: when one goes to buy the house, he is a consumer who has already decided that he will likely make a purchase of some kind. With the website, however, many business owners ask the “cost” question with the intent of factoring the answer into whether or not he will continue considering. This is where the shift must occur. Some even ask how much something costs for the main purpose of saying “no thank you, that’s too much.” What they really ought to be asking at this point is, “What do you think a website can do to increase my business?” Followed by a discussion about what they want and need in a website and how much it will cost to create it, based on their desires. Eventually, like all other business purchases, a decision can be made on a cost/value basis.

You must first embrace the fact that you must have a website to continue to do business. Only after you have accepted this fact will you then be able to approach the decisions about a website from the proper perspective, only then will you be able to discuss the feature and benefits you want in a website in an effective way, and only then will a developer be able to provide you with the high-level of service – like what you receive from the realtor – and help you make the correct decisions about a website that will function for your business while also falling within the confines of your pocketbook.

A Website That Pays For Itself

Is developing a website for your business really an expense? Perhaps it’s not. If designed, maintained, and promoted properly, a website can actually make you money. In fact, you should expect it to.

Frequently, I am faced with the objection of a website being cost-prohibitive for a small business. Especially when a small business may already be struggling to make ends meet and cover already existing expenses, often times it is difficult to imagine spending money on developing a web presence. Arguably, however, a business owner in this predicament may be examining their situation from the wrong perspective.

As we see more and more people going to the web to not only explore options for doing business but also for ways to do business more easily, it is apparent that the Internet is not just a passing fad. In fact, the Internet itself is already an indispensible component of today’s economy.

In fact, it’s not unrealistic to consider the possibility that one of the reasons cash is tight and business is slow might be because you are missing out on bringing in your share of online business. If you are not selling where customers are buying…if you are not promoting and advertising where customers are researching…then they are likely buying from someone else.

So how do you bridge the gap? First of all, know that a website actually increases revenue and more than pays for its investment. The reality is, time and time again, companies that have chosen to invest in a website have proven this to be true. Now, go out and find a web solution provider that you can trust…one that you know has your best interests in mind and one who will be there for you long after the sale. You want not only a website developer, but a partner in your Internet marketing…someone who is invested in your success.

Don’t be intimidated by the Internet. Embrace it. Your business might just depend on it.

We Had a Website Once

As I travel around, speaking to business owners about the power of web presence, I am not often surprised by what I hear. However, one thing that always seems to catch me off guard is the comment, “We had a website and we let it go.”

Usually, this is offered as an explanation as to why they do not have a website, but even more bizarrely, as justification as to why they do not need one now. This is simply nuts and here’s why.

If you once had a website, then you probably understood the benefits of a powerful web presence, and made the decision in favor of it. But what happened? Obviously it did not perform as expected or customers and prospects would, right now, be able to find you online.

Why didn’t it deliver results? Perhaps it was an ineffective design or poorly maintained. Perhaps no one could find it because it was not effectively marketed. In any event, it was not because websites do not work.

Imagine this:

You mistakenly print a competitor’s name and address on a marketing flyer and distribute throughout the tri-state area. While customers flood to your competitor’s store, you wonder why your flyer isn’t working. Do you blame the concept of a marketing flyer, and decide that using marketing flyers is not an effective way to advertise your company? Do flyers simply not work? Of course not! It was the way you used the tool that was flawed, not the tool itself.

So, why does the fact that you once utilized a website incorrectly lead to the conclusion that websites don’t work?

What can you do? Well, you can find a website developer with a proven track record of building and marketing successful websites for small businesses. Do your research and, the second time; use the right tool in the right way! Websites work. The Internet is here to stay. Don’t dismiss the effectiveness of this powerful tool simply because your first attempt did not work. Wise business owners make the time to understand mistakes so that they can adjust and respond more effectively. Be the wise business owner you know you are. Build a website that works and you’ll be very pleased that you did.

Who Makes Your Business Decisions?

Have you ever wondered what decisions your receptionist might be making for you?

Your initial reaction may be to say; “My receptionist doesn’t make any decisions for me. I make my own decisions.” But perhaps you should not be so sure. I call small businesses every day to promote my services, and one of the most troubling responses I get is “No, my boss wouldn’t be interested in a website.”

First, ask yourself these questions:

Is having a dynamic and results-producing website something that I do intend for sometime in the future?

Do I intend to ever sell products online?

Do I intend to ever offer access to my services online?

Do I intend to ever use the power of the Internet to reach tens of thousands of customer that no longer use the yellow pages?

If the answer is no, then you should do some research on the power of web presence. I think it will surprise you. Every day, more and more businesses get “on line,” and at some point soon, businesses will not be able to survive without a web presence.

But if you answered yes to the above questions, then how will your receptionist ever know when that time has finally come? How will she know when it is time to let the gate open and allow the website developer access to you?

It is entirely too easy for the receptionist to say “no” to a salesperson. Perhaps she remembers that you quickly dismissed several calls from website developers in the past by possibly grunted something like “I don’t have time for that right now.” But she does not necessarily understand the reasons why you may have made that comment, and may not understand that, at some point, you do intend to get a website.

And what if the guy on the other end of the phone, tomorrow morning, is the right guy? What if he is the quickest, easiest, most affordable and most effective way to get online? That’s what I offer, and I could be calling. But you never get to hear about it or talk to me because of your receptionist’s unrefined and less than strategic screening process?

We all understand that it is the receptionist’s job to minimize distractions and unnecessary interruptions for the people working in his/her office, and to do her job effectively, she must limit access to her co-workers. However, there is a fine line that should not be crossed when it comes to allowing the true decision-makers to make the important decisions about the business, and too many Gatekeepers cross that line and exercise control that is not theirs to exercise, only because they have not been adequately informed.

If you think this might be happening, a conversation with your receptionist might be in order. If you feel you do not have the time to investigate it or to instruct your receptionist…I wonder how many important decisions are never even making it to your desk?

Some Good News

Dealer Depot is a brand new client, and after just 60 days their new website has delivered for them in a big way. They are a wholesale supplier of building materials, and their office and warehouse are located in the small town of Monongahela, in Southwestern Pennsylvania. When I first met with them they had a site that wasn’t working for them because it was not developed by a professional. Their website offered limited information, was not properly optimized, and was seldom if ever visited by the search engines.

In the middle of February, they hired us and three days later, we had a site up and running which had a more professional look and feel. By the end of the first week, we had begun adding product listings to the site, and by the end of 30 days, a complete and comprehensive site was published. Web site optimization was complete within 3 additional days, and by the end of the 35th day from start date, a fully functional and optimized site was submitted to the Search Engines.

And less than 60 days from the day we started, I received a call yesterday from Dealer Depot who was calling to inform me that they had just acquired 2 new customers from the West Coast. They wanted to know how and why? I told them that the details are not important, but the “why” is because you hired Power On The Web to develop your site and manage the Internet marketing and online promotion of it.

So, how fast can we get a professional website up and running? Sooner than you might think. How quickly can we get businesses positive and measurable results, with our web solution? Sometimes within weeks. So, what are you waiting for? Call Clem for a no obligation walk-through today at 724-263-6611.

Published in: on April 8, 2008 at 1:50 AM  Leave a Comment  
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What You Should Know About the Internet

Are you a small business owner? Have you ever thought something like this?

 – I do not need a website because people do not look for what I do online.

 – I do not sell products online, so I don’t need a website.

 – Only teenagers use the Internet, and they are not my customers, so I do not need a website.

 – My neighborhood is not savvy with technology. No one uses computers around here.

 – We do not do any Internet business, so a website would be useless to us.

 – I’m older and not into computers, so a website would be a waste of money.

These are actual quotes from what business owners have told me when we discussed their need to develop a web presence. If you have said or thought something similar about your business, then I have some important information to share with you. Consider the following:

By The Numbers – the percentage of adults who use the Internet

76% of men     and      74% of women

92% of people ages 18 – 29
85% of people ages 30-49
72% of people ages 50-64
37% of people ages 65 plus

Source: Pew Internet American Life project http://www.pewinternet.org/

This information shows the massive segment of the population that are Internet users across the wide cross-section of age groups. And with such access to immediate information as is available at our fingertips online, do you believe it likely that these individuals will look for products and services in the yellow pages or on the Internet? Be it someone to cut their grass, do their taxes, fill their cavities, or provide legal advice, the reality is the Internet is where people go for everything.

It is truly irrelevant whether or not YOU use a computer…your CUSTOMERS do. It is irrelevant whether or not you choose to “conduct business online…” your business still needs to have a presence there! Your competition is there, and so are your customers. And, as I have often said, if you are not selling where your customers are buying, then they are buying from someone else.

So, let’s stop being afraid of the Internet and embrace it as the amazing tool that it is. The Internet is here to stay, so you better use it to stay in business before your choice to not be there puts you out of business.

The specifics of your website design are not important.

If the topic of this post sounds unbelievable, I hope to open your eyes by the time you finish reading. As with most of my posts, I was gripped by a recent experience I had with a potential customer who owns a car detailing shop. Since we started talking almost two months ago, each discussion he and I have had about considering a website for his business has been a discussion about colors and music. As I attempt to steer the direction of the conversation to more relevant topics, on which his decision should be based, he insists on discussing background music and how he wants “red and yellow everywhere.” Here’s the problem in a nutshell: this business owner is missing a very important point.

Don’t get me wrong. A good looking website is important, and I always intend to use the colors and design schemes that mirror what the client wants. But the truth is that his website is going to be a tool. Some businesses choose to use it primarily as a tool of credibility, an “online brochure,” if you will. But the true power behind a properly designed web presence is in the additional exposure that a properly optimized website can bring to your company…the new customers that your website can attract to your business who would not otherwise find you were it not for your web presence.

For the business owner who may be unfamiliar with these terms, “search engine optimization” simply means making a site search-engine-friendly.  Optimization occurs after the actual design of the site is complete, and involves making the site visible to the search-engines and their “spiders,” or their programs that crawl the web in search of sites with valuable information.  Optimizing a site is vital to properly market the site to Search Engines.

When making the initial decision to possibly invest in a website for your business, the important questions to be asking are NOT questions about design details. Instead, here are a few important examples of questions to ask when you begin this process:

  • How long will it take to have a properly optimized site online?
  • How do you optimize my site after design is complete?
  • Do I have the ability to submit the site regularly to search engines? Or can you provide this service every 4-5 weeks, and at what additional cost?
  • Can I control the addition of new and fresh content at my discretion to attract ongoing Search Engine attention?

Certainly, a poor-looking website that attracts new customers is not what you want either, but recognize the priorities in the appropriate order of importance. Determine a developer’s ability to provide your business with proper visibility first, then worry about making the site look the way you want it. In reality, the latter objective is the easy part that most any developer can accomplish for you.

Getting the traffic to your site is the vital skill that not all site designers possess.