We in the online marketing and SEO community need to do a better job communicating with our business audience. We speak with clients regularly who expect that they can hire an SEO/SEM agency, wait for their rankings to soar, and reap the benefits.
Unfortunately, like most things in life, it’s not quite that simple. For today I’d just like to focus on what you should expect if you engage a Local Internet Marketing expert to promote your “brick and mortar” business. The operative expectation is this: be prepared to be a part of a team. Don’t expect your “web guy” or your “seo gal” to do it all for you. As a business person, you will need to play a vital role in making your local Internet marketing push a success.
Here are some of the important pieces of media and information you will need to provide to whomever is acting as your search marketing expert:
- Access to passwords, login ids, email accounts used to set up listings, and so forth
- A clear description of your business
- Clear, quality photographs of your business
- Complete access to your website
- A way to change the code on your website pages
- Good descriptions of your goods and services
- Time for responses to the SEO consultant’s questions and requests (these responses need to be timely)
A Few Details
The first thing that the local optimization expert will do (or should, if they know their stuff), is ask you about any areas where you have created an online presence. You might have set up an account on Yelp, or Google Places (also known as Google+ Local). You might have set up different identities on these sites for different locations of your business. It will be up to you to track down those details, which involves thought, interviewing employees, and pouring over old emails.
Then, the Internet Marketing consultant will need to make sure that your local listings on the major search engine local portals (by that I mean Bing Local, Yahoo Local, and Google+ Local) are formatted in just the way that those key players are expecting. The consultant will probably have to make changes to your listings, and the search engines will need to send you a verification request (which is usually a postcard). You will need to alert your employees to any mail, or even phone calls, that come in from Google, Bing, Yahoo, or Yelp.
Next your Internet marketing consultant will need to you to give them a good description of your business and high-quality photos. Increasingly Google, especially, are relying on visual representations of your business, and so top quality photography will pay off. Typically, this will be a role you will need to play.
Then your Local SEO expert will need to coach you on how to enroll your customers in leaving reviews about your site, and where it’s best to leave those reviews (it will vary from business to business).
After that, expect regular requests from your local SEO expert to provide media, changes to your website, social media interactions, keyword ideas, access to people in your organization who might help.
Local small businesses are no longer getting a pass with Google and the rest. They need to work hard to create a quality site with great content that conforms to the (sometimes) quirky rules of the search engines in order to score.
But if you and your web company do the hard work of functioning like a team, your results will show up on the score board. But remember, you have to do your share.
Ross Barefoot is the Chief Technology Officer at Horizon Web Marketing. In his work with Horizon Ross brings 35 years of small business management experience, 25 years programming experience, 20 years web development experience, and 13 years experience as a professional SEO. Ross is also currently a certified SEO trainer with the Search Engine Academy and serves on its board of directors.