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.

Advertisements
Published in: on November 10, 2008 at 4:04 PM  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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 Websites and Email Addresses Say about your Credibility

Remember the days when a business was not considered “credible” unless they had a FAX number? In today’s Internet business economy you could be losing credibility just by the online signatures you leave.

I spend a lot of time telling you how to promote your business online and help customers find you through the search engines, but what about the people that may already know about you or find out about you through a more traditional method?

For many of your potential customers, the first thing they look for on your business card or in your ad is a website. The customer who is checking out at the cash register in the lobby of your restaurant may pick up your card, hoping to consult your menu from home at a later time to help plan a special event. Yet, when they get home and realize there is no website on the card, you have taken yourself out of the competition for their business. The person reading your ad in the yellow pages hopes to consult your website before deciding if they will call you to fix their plumbing problem. Again, no website in your ad, and you are out of the running.

And what about an email address? For many consumers and businesses, email has replaced snail mail and fax machines as a main method of communication…sometimes as important, or even more important, than the telephone. Email is a timesaver, so if you don’t have one, what does that say about your customer service? Not having an email address makes it difficult for many people to reach you, and they may not be willing to make the extra effort to pick up the telephone even if your phone number is right in front of them. Sometimes even having an email address is not always enough. Business that use free email services are sometimes not taken seriously. Which email address sounds more credible and stable: “joe@joeselectrical.com” or the guy at “electrician@hotmail.com?”

Times have changed. Everything is faster these days, particularly when it comes to making buying decisions. Sometimes we have less than 60 seconds to make a good online impression. What does your website and email address say about your business? Speed has raised the bar. Having a fax number is no longer an indication of stability and credibility.

Your website and email address is your electronic signature. How do you stack up with the competition? Do you make it easy for new customers to contact you and buy from you? Do you deserve their trust? Does your business look like it has kept up with the times?

Published in: on May 30, 2008 at 12:22 AM  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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  
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Why historical success says NOTHING about your need for a Website

If you are a small business owner, how many times have you said or thought this: “I have been successful for years without a website. I don’t need one.” As a website developer, I hear it several times every single day.

USA Today’s “Ask An Expert” Steve Strauss http://www.usatoday.com/money/smallbusiness/columnist/strauss/index.htm received this inquiry from a reader. “…I just don’t see the need for a [web]site. My business has been around forever, and we have done just fine without one. Am I wrong?”

You are not alone. But, if you think this way about your business, then I want to speak to you directly and bluntly. You can’t live in the past! It doesn’t work in any other area of life, why would it work in business? Do you still dial 555-1212 to reach directory assistance? How about area codes…remember when we only needed to dial those to call people really far away? Do you drive the same car you drove in 1970? Still watch the same no-remote tune-with-a-dial 12” black and white model TV with only 3 channels? Or pay the same amount for gas that you did five years ago? As times change, so do the things we buy, the way we buy them, and the way business owners must conduct and market our businesses to get our attention or even stay in the game.

And as the old saying goes, you are either moving forward or falling behind.

Are you still skeptical? Want some proof? Ask the next 25 people you talk to (friends, family, customers, or employees) if they bought anything online 15 years ago. Then ask the same people if they bought anything online in the last year. If you do not believe you need a website before this experiment, the results of your survey are going to shock you.

If you are still a “doubting Thomas,” take it one step further. Ask these survey participants about buying a car, planning vacations, finding a new doctor, shopping for homes…the subject matter isn’t nearly as relevant as the fact that people shop online, and they do research BEFORE they shop, and before they make just about any purchase.

Visit Steve Strauss’ exchange with Phil in its entirety. http://www.usatoday.com/money/smallbusiness/columnist/strauss/2008-02-11-getting-a-website_N.htm. It tells a story that I would do injustice to try and reiterate, but the message is clear. Marketing strategies are not the same as they used to be. Not having a website puts you at a significant disadvantage because times have changed. Everyday, more and more of your competition develops a website so, eventually, it will be the businesses without a website that are out of business.

The strategies that made you successful yesterday are not what will keep you successful tomorrow.