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 got his start in small business managing an importing company in the bicycle industry. While there, he tried his hand at programming to find more effective ways to track, market and sell his company’s range of bicycle parts. He loved the web marketing side of things so much he became a professional web developer in 2001, starting a website design business in Western Colorado. He took his first SEO certification course from the Search Engine Academy in 2002, followed it up with another in 2004, and decided to jump full time into SEO training and consulting in 2011, becoming a Master Certified Instructor with the Search Engine Academy, where he continues to serve on the Board of Directors. Today, Ross is CTO, trainer and chief SEO strategist at Horizon Web Marketing (www.horizonwebmarketing.com), a full-service digital marketing agency based in Las Vegas.