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Adjust Your Small Business Strategy With Google Analytics

June 24, 2020 No Comments

Do you work with/for an SMB that’s struggling with low-funnel ads? Use Google Analytics to redefine your goals to make data-driven, informed decisions.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


SEO on a shoestring budget: What small business owners can do to win

June 5, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • There is a common and long-held belief that getting results from SEO takes at least six months. How true is that?
  • SEO can be costly and requires big dollars and a huge team to succeed. Should you ever compete with the biggies at all?
  • SEO is highly technical, changes from time to time with Google algorithm updates, hence, making it unpredictable. 
  • This piece answers those questions in detail and further debunks two common myths regarding the time it takes to get results from SEO and the unpredictable nature of SEO. It is, in sum, about how small businesses can play and win in the big league with SEO on a budget.

Pretty much everything you think you know about SEO today will be out of date tomorrow. This makes the online world an exceptionally volatile environment, where big fishes swallow the small ones.

In spite of this, many small businesses with a small budget for SEO are finding their feet in the online marketing world. How are they doing it? 

Research and experience have shown that domain age, numerous (quality) backlinks, and quality content are among the competitive advantages of businesses that are dominating the online marketing world.

And given that getting these things cost time and money, they present a formidable entry barrier to small business owners who want to get into the SEO game with a small budget.

For small business owners with little budget for SEO, chances are their website is relatively new, they do not have a budget for backlink building and even the job of creating content for their websites rests entirely on them. 

Before you turn away from SEO, remember the classic of Ryan Holiday,

“The Obstacle is the Way.”

The last decade is replete with stories of how savvy business owners found their ways to go face to face with the giants and, sometimes, defeat them.

The online world is not very different in that aspect. If you can follow the following steps, Internet marketing success, against all odds, can be made-to-order.

In this guide, I will show you what small businesses are doing to defy the stereotype and make SEO success on a shoestring budget, in a relatively short time.

1. The low-hanging fruit strategy

If you have been tinkering around with SEO for a while, you’ve probably heard of the term “long-tail keyword”.

Long-tail keywords refer to the specific keywords searchers are likely to use when they are close to making a purchase online.

To put this in perspective, here is an example.

If you want to start a blog on how to start a blog, for example, chances are you will not get found on Google given that the key phrase is too broad.

But if you break this down a little bit further and try to rank for “How to Start a Blog for Free,” your chances of ranking high on SERPs become brighter because you are targeting a fraction of the audience of the first key phrase. 

Another example is, if you are selling shoes, keywords like “shoes” are short-tail keywords, and trying to rank for them means you are probably going to be competing against Amazon and Gucci.

You don’t want to melt away like a snowflake under the sun, do you?

But if you try narrowing it down to more specific keywords such as “mens shoes,” or “best holiday shoes,” you have a better chance of getting to number one on Google SERPs for this kind of keywords. 

I ran the word “shoe” on a keyword research website. Here is what the result looks like:

The number in that red shape refers to the level of organic competition of that keyword, otherwise known as Keyword Difficulty (KD).

While the keyword “shoe” has a very high traffic potential, you do not have the wherewithal to weather the cutthroat competition of that field.

Now, look at the image below.

You can see that another keyword “men’s shoe” KD is a little above 32. That is your long-tail keyword and anything that falls into that category.

When you look at the number of organic traffic, you’d find that you can receive up to 38,000 monthly organic traffic for that keyword. For a small business owner with a limited budget for SEO like you, this is not too bad.

All you need to do now is to find as many of these long-tail keywords as possible and use them to plan your content calendar.

Now that you have found the low-hanging fruits, what is it that you are supposed to do with them?

Follow through with the next step.

2. Keyword research

This sounds obvious, or like something you have just done, but wait a moment.

Now let’s take one of our short-tail keywords and plug it back to the keyword finder and see what we’ve got.

As you can see, even under the keyword “mens shoe,” we still find potential keywords that you can place strategically under your post and rank for or use to develop an independent blog post. 

That is why it makes sense to do thorough keyword research to further see what other keywords you can place in your blog post for your major keyword and rank for as well.

While it is advisable these days to keep every single blog post focused around one keyword, having two major keywords to rank for in a single blog post is not a bad idea, according to Hubspot.

Well, on certain occasions, I have seen a single blog post that ranks for multiple keywords.

3. Write in-depth blog posts

According to a 2016 research, the average blog posts that rank number one on Google has about 1,900 words.

In the past, what it takes to rank on Google is a string of keywords. In other words, keyword stuffing WAS all it took.

Not anymore. Thin content was one of the primary targets of Google’s Panda. For a post to rank on Google, it is well understood that thoroughness is a sine qua non.

Posts that make it to the number one position on Google are in-depth and full of trusted sources. But do not mistake a long post for an in-depth post. 

An in-depth post proffers value — every single word in it.

Embedding posts with visuals such as videos, infographics, and photos might mean additional advantages to boot.

While there is no denying that relevancy is what matters, most posts that meet the standard of relevancy required to please searchers are the long ones that offer more than vague answers.

And of all people, a little unknown business owner who wants to do SEO on a small budget needs to offer all the value she can.

4. Keyword related and non-keyword related on-site SEO

The bedrock of your on-site SEO efforts is your content which, I believe, we have discussed as incisive as possible.

However, on-site SEO involves more. Much more.

Let’s look at the most important things you need to pay attention to in your on-site SEO efforts.

5. Keyword-rich content

You know we talked about keyword research earlier in this post. But when I say keyword-rich, I do not intend “keyword-stuffed.”

Assuming you’ve now found the keyword around which you want to base your blog post, it is time to use this keyword strategically in your writing to tell Google what the post stands for.

Lucky for you, this doesn’t have to be much of a struggle if you are using WordPress. All you need to do is install Yoast SEO on your dashboard and it will help guide you in writing a keyword-driven article.

6. Mobile-friendly web page

Do I even need to mention that? Nearly 60 percent of searches made online are now from mobile devices. And that Google continues to change its algorithm to suit this trend in search method is telling enough.

Optimize your site for mobile-friendliness and you are on your way to a better ranking on Google. This article gives you clear steps as to how you can achieve a mobile optimized site.

7. Page load speed

When Google announced their Google Mobile-First Index, they further made it clear that site speed has become a ranking factor. Several findings have since shown that this is true.

If you are going to reap the benefits of your SEO efforts, then your site speed is something you must pay attention to.

How, then, do you increase your site speed? Ways abound, and some of these ways can be dauntingly technical.

So, if you are doing SEO on a small budget and, like me, you suck at coding, I will advise you to allocate a huge part of your lean budget for the technical aspects.

I will, nonetheless, tell you what it takes and my recommendation for you as someone who is doing SEO on a shoestring budget.

8. Minifying CSS, Javascript, and HTML

Our websites are constituted of some little tiny ugly codes (Sorry, programmers, they are ugly to us). 

Those little tiny objects are made up of unintelligible commas, spaces, numbers and all sorts of nebulous characters. 

If you are a techie, then it wouldn’t cost you much to remove unused code, code comments, unnecessary spaces as well as other characters.

But for the uninitiated like me, you’d stand a better chance if you outsource this to professional web designers.

9. Image optimization

Image is another element that can take a lot of space and clutter up your website, thereby making the loading time a bit slower than is desirable.

As much as visuals are important for a successful blog post, keep in mind that the average image recommended for a blog post is 1200 x 628 pixels.

To optimize your image for SEO, you want to do it in such a way that it doesn’t compromise the quality of your image neither does it impact your SEO in a negative way.

There are many image optimization tools online. Look them up here.

10. URL structure

When it comes to SEO, you cannot afford to have a URL that looks like an HTML code. 

An SEO-friendly URL must be one that’s easy to read for search engines and gives humans the idea of what they are about to click.

Research has shown that URLs are among the key elements searchers consider before they click on a link.

In the olden Internet days, it would not be too hard to see URLs that look like specks of dirt, but such URLs these days are but condemnable heresies in the sight of lord Google.

Take a look at the illustration below to get an idea of what you should and should not do when it comes to URLs.

Source: Neil Patel

Here is a checklist of what you should have in your URL

  • Use your keywords in your URL: For example, if you have a blog post about where to find the best dog food, your URL should look like this: www.blog.com/where-to-find-best-dog-food. You can see it looks almost like a complete sentence. Here is an example from a blog I wrote about podcast hosting platforms: https://contentmarketingprofit.com/10-best-podcast-hosting-sites-and-everything-you-need-to-succeed/. Notice how it gives you an idea of what you are about to click.
  • Keep it short and simple: Keeping it below 60 characters has always been the recommendation. Short and sweet doesn’t mean you should overdo it though. Always try not to go beyond 60 characters.
  • Hyphens are better used as a separator in a URL than an underscore according to Google.

11. Link internally (with caution)

Linking to your other blog posts from a relating one has become a rule of thumb in writing blog posts.

And in case you don’t know, it isn’t just a fad designed to make you look like a professional blogger.

Its benefits include delivering link juice to other pages, showing Google the relevancy of posts to one another, making it easy for Google bots to crawl and index your pages and of course, keeping humans on your site longer.

But the “with caution” above means, when cross-linking internally, be wary of using too much exact-match anchor text in your links.

If you do, Google might think it’s an attempt to manipulate and penalize you for it. 

12. Copy: Good, relevant, great copy

Yes, I know I’m supposed to write that as “metadata” here, but metadata isn’t particularly a ranking factor.

It’s just a clicking factor which, indirectly, makes it a ranking factor.

What you put in your metadata matters. Bear in mind that aside from your title, your metadata is what tells users whether to click or scroll down.

As such, do your best to ensure that your metadata hits home. Create short, concise, quality descriptions that convey value to the user searching the internet for either information, purchase, feedback, or any other reason.

13. Go for the big link

It’s been many years since Google started using link signals as an important ranking factor. Links are still the most important external factor in SEO, and they aren’t about to go away anytime soon.

Now it’s time to start building backlinks, first, for your site as a whole, and, second, for your money pages in particular.

While this looks like a straightforward venture, be careful and observe the following rules in building links or you might run into a problem.

But before we go into the rules, let me quickly take you back to our first step in this journey.

Remember I clearly stated that you must find the long-tail keywords around which you are going to build your blog posts? Now, it’s time to hit your competitors where they are most vulnerable. 

What this means is that for every least competitive keyword you find, your competitor has the least number of backlinks going to that.

Analyze their link profile using tools like Ahrefs and try outdoing them with backlinks on those ones.

To put it this plain text, if your shoe-selling competitor has a blog post about “mens shoe” just like you do, and the number of backlinks that goes into that is twenty, to outrank them at that one on Google, all you need is twenty-one backlinks to a similar blog post on your site.

If you have nailed your on-page SEO already, consider this a silver bullet on outsmarting your competitor.

Now let’s quickly run through some link building best practices.

A. Quality, not quantity

If you go after low domain authority sites in the interest of haste, you risk hurting your SEO. 

While it’s not necessary to only go after sites with the highest domain authority, learn to go after sites with great domain authority. Anything from 60 DA and above is okay.

But even sites with 40 DA are also useful so long as they aren’t too many. Your best chances though lie in getting sites with 60+ DA by your side.

B. Have a healthy mix of anchor text

For someone who wants to rank a site for a keyword such as podcast platforms, for instance, you may be tempted to want to build a link profile with those two keywords: podcast platforms.

But I guarantee you that there is no faster and surefire way to get your site penalized. Google suspects an unnatural amount of links with the same anchor text pointing to the same source.

If you must build a link profile, then have some diversified anchor texts. 

C. Avoid black hat link-building no matter the glamour

And I can’t stress that enough.

There are many link vendors on the Internet who sell you on quick generic links that will get you penalized rather than rank.

The struggle to build links can be overwhelming for someone on a little budget and the lures are all there. But patience to do the right thing never gets too much. Don’t be in a haste to rank a rank that will truncate your well-planned efforts.

Even if those generic links work for you in the short term, what it will take for all these gains to disappear is Google penalizing you.

Avoid buying links, PBNs, as well as all other kinds of black hat link building that are being touted on the Internet.

In the end, build a huge and healthy link profile around your low-hanging fruits. This can be achieved by becoming a guest post rockstar and willing to withstand a lot of virulent rejections.

Or better still, create likeable assets in terms of valuable articles that bloggers may naturally want to refer to.

Need an example? Link Building for SEO: The Definitive Guide

Another thing that will help you in your link building campaign is bloggers outreach. Heaps of articles exist on the Internet teaching you how to go about these things in detail.

As you build this up, your domain authority significantly improves, arming you with the experience and money to go big and eventually share the field with your big competitors.

And from the very beginning, the purpose of this blog post is to teach you how to start small and go big with a thin budget for SEO.

It is a piece of article written with a simple philosophical understanding in mind, that is; sometimes, you have to take one step back to potentially take two forward.

Conclusion

If you’ve been searching online to seek answers for how long it takes to rank on Google, you might have come across articles that saunter a little bit around and end up saying six months. 

That might have been true in the past but not anymore. Whenever Google updates her algorithm, there will be traffic losses and gains. Most times, these are not due to correctness or error from your end.

But SEO has lived long enough to have fundamentals and so far as we know, the things identified in this blog post have stayed long enough to become hard and fast rules in search ranking efforts. 

If there is anything we’ve learned in the past decade, it is a simple truth that big dollars are not always the sole winning ingredient — anymore.

Will, innovation, grit, unceasing creativity, and a touch of luck are all you sometimes need to win. When you plan to use some SEO marketing for your business but you have a little budget, you aren’t expected to exit the stage. 

You can still win, but only if you try.

Ali Faagba is a copywriter, content marketer, and a tech freelance writer. He’s been featured in Entrepreneur, Thrive Global, and others. You can reach him on Twitter @contentmints.

The post SEO on a shoestring budget: What small business owners can do to win appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Plastiq raises $75M to help small businesses use credit cards more

March 26, 2020 No Comments

When Eliot Buchanan tried to use his credit card to pay his Harvard tuition bill, the payment was rejected because the university said it doesn’t accept credit. Realizing the same problem exists for thousands of different transactions like board, rent and vendor payments, he launched Plastiq. Plastiq helps people use credit cards to pay, or get paid, for anything

Plastiq today announced that it has raised $ 75 million in venture capital in a Series D round led by B Capital Group. Kleiner Perkins, Khosla Ventures, Accomplice and Top Tier Capital Partners also participated in the round. The round brings the company’s total known venture capital raised to more than $ 140 million.

To use Plastiq, users enter their credit card information on Plastiq’s platform. In return, Plastiq will charge you a 2.5% fee and get your bills paid. While Plastiq was started with consumers in mind, SMBs have now accounted for 90% of the revenue, according to Buchanan. The new financing round will invest in building out features to give SMBs faster services around payments and processing. 

Plastiq provides a way for SMBs and consumers to pay their bills and make sure they have reliable cash flow. For example, restaurants sometimes have a drop in revenue due to seasonality or, as we’re experiencing now with COVID-19, pandemic lockdowns. Or tourism companies for cities that are struggling to attract visitors. Those companies still need cash flow, and using Plastiq’s service, they can use credit cards to pay suppliers even in an off season. 

There is no shortage of competition from other companies also trying to solve pain points in small-business cash flow. According to Buchanan, Plastiq’s biggest competitors are traditional lenders, as well as companies like Kabbage and Fundbox. Similar claims could be made about Brex, which offers a credit card for startups to access capital faster. 

Kabbage provides funding to SMBs through automated business loans. The SoftBank-backed company landed $ 200 million in a revolving credit line back in July, fresh off of landing strong partnerships with banks and giants like Alibaba to access more customers. Kabbage loans out roughly $ 2-3 billion to SMBs every year. 

Plastiq, according to its release, is also on track to make more than $ 2 billion in transactions. But unlike Kabagge, Plastiq doesn’t issue loans or credit, it just unlocks a payment opportunity.

“SMBs don’t need to be burdened with additional debt or additional loans,” Buchanan said. “So rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, let’s use a behavior they have already earned.” 

Buchanan would not disclose Plastiq’s current valuation or revenue, but he did say that it’s not too far away from $ 100 million in revenue run rate. The company’s revenue has grown 150% from 2018 to 2019. 

The company also noted that it has surpassed “well over 1 million users,” up 150% in unique new users from 2018 to 2019.

In terms of profitability, Buchanan said that “we could be profitable if we wanted to be,” noting that Plastiq’s revenue and margins could lead them toward profitability if they wanted to focus less on growth. But he added they don’t plan to “slow down” the growth engine any time soon — especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because the Series D round closed at the end of 2019, Buchanan said the pandemic did not impact the deal. However, the company had planned to time the announcement with tax season. Now, as small businesses struggle to secure capital and stay afloat due to lockdowns across the country, Plastiq’s new raise feels more fitting. 

“Our customers are more thankful for solutions like ours as traditional sources of lending are drying up and not as easy to access” Buchanan said. “Hopefully, we can measure how many businesses make it through this because of us.” 

The 140-person company is currently hiring across product and engineering roles.


Startups – TechCrunch


Everything small businesses need to know to launch a campaign on Amazon

January 19, 2020 No Comments

A financial publisher based in the UK, created an infographic guide aimed at helping small businesses get started with advertising on Amazon.

The infographic, A Small Business Guide to Amazon Advertising, presents a visual summary of advertising options available on the platform and includes some tips that small business can use to get started with launching a campaign.

In this post, we’ll summarize some of the key insights from the guide, including a list of next steps that will help you get ads running on Amazon in no time.

Unless otherwise noted, all statistics and images in this post have been taken, with permission, from the original infographic produced by Businessfinancing.co.uk.

Amazon’s enormous retail reach

Based on gross merchandise value (GMV), Amazon is the second largest ecommerce website in the world (second only to China’s Alibaba) and the largest in the U.S.

It receives over 200 million visits each month and is the first-choice ecommerce destination for many shoppers, with 56% of consumers visiting them before any other website. About 47% of consumers begin their product search on Amazon, versus other search engines such as Google or Bing.

According to a 2018 Poll, nearly 70% of small businesses who sell a product online say that Amazon has had a positive impact on their sales. Advertising on it can help small businesses reach the  online retailer’s vast audience in a variety of ways.

If you’re an existing seller:

  • Sponsored products
  • Sponsored brands
  • Sponsored display ads
  • Stores

If you don’t sell directly on the platform:

  • Display ads
  • Video ads

The infographic breaks down what each ad product looks like and summarize some tips for getting started with your first campaign.

Ad products for existing Amazon sellers

There are roughly one million small businesses currently selling on Amazon. That’s a lot of competition, which is why it’s important for businesses to understand the different ad formats available on the platform and what they’re used for.

Sponsored Product Ads: These ads appear in the search results and product detail pages within Amazon. Advertisers pay on a per-click basis, thus there are no up-front fees required. Sponsored product ads are a good fit for sellers, vendors, and kindle authors who want to promote their merchandise/books.

Amazon ad

Example of a sponsored product placement on Amazon—Source: Businessfinancing.co.uk

Sponsored Brand Ads: Brand ads appear on Amazon product pages or within the landing page of your store and are triggered by relevant searches. As with sponsored ads, there are no monthly fees associated with brand ads. Advertisers pay only when a user clicks on the ad.

Amazon ad

Example of an Amazon sponsored display placement—Source: Businessfinancing.co.uk

Amazon Stores: An Amazon Store is free to create and acts as a hub where all your products are listed in one place. Stores are suitable for sellers, vendors and agencies. Stores are great to aid with product discovery and branding. They can be designed without any coding using predesigned templates provided by Amazon. Stores are available to sellers enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry, vendors, and agencies and you do not need to advertise on Amazon to create a store.

Example of an Amazon Store—source: Amazon

What if you’re not an amazon seller?

You can still advertise on Amazon and its associated properties if you’re not currently a seller or vendor on the platform. It offers two ad formats—display ads and video ads—which business can leverage to promote their brand, products, and services.

Display Ads: Display ads (not to be confused with “sponsored display ads) can appear on Amazon, websites operated by them, apps and third-party sites. Display ads can be purchased using their self-service demand-side platform (DSP) or via managed-service option which requires a minimum spend of $ 35,000. Display ads are priced on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) basis.

Display ads enable businesses to show ads both on and off Amazon, including within apps. When someone clicks on the ad, they can be directed to the product page, your store page, a custom landing page on Amazon.com or an external website.

Video Ads: As with display ads, video ads can link to a product page, external website or landing page. Amazon video ads appear on its owned websites such as IMDb and devices including Fire TV. Video ad pricing varies based on ad format and placement

Example of display and video ads available for non-sellers—Source: Businessfinancing.co.uk

Seven steps to launching your campaign

The infographic outlines—and helps to visualize—a seven-step approach to getting your ads up and running on Amazon quickly.

  1. Pick a descriptive campaign name
  2. Decide on a monthly ad budget
  3. Set an end date for your campaign
  4. Choose “automatic targeting” so Amazon can generate keyword and product matches automatically based on user searches
  5. Select one product per campaign
  6. Select your keywords
  7. Understand the available bidding strategies, then choose the one that’s right for you

Amazon offers three bid strategies for advertisers as shown above— Source: Businessfinancing.co.uk

Amazon provides step-by-step instructions (as well as $ 50 in free clicks) for sellers who want to get started with advertising on the platform. Their advertising page provides all the relevant details.

Create maximum impact with campaign optimization and monitoring

Once your campaign is launched, you should immediately begin to monitor and optimize its performance. The infographic lists several techniques that small businesses can use to help their ads stand out and perform well including adding negative keywords to ensure your ad isn’t triggered for irrelevant searches (e.g., if you sell dog food, you don’t want your ad to show for someone searching for “cat food.”)

Other tips focus on the type of language to include (and not to include) in your ad copy and the best way to leverage different ad types so that they work together (e.g., by keeping display ads running at all times).

The full infographic is available for free here.

The post Everything small businesses need to know to launch a campaign on Amazon appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Rhino looks to replace renters’ security deposits with a small monthly fee

October 1, 2019 No Comments

Rhino, the insurtech startup incubated by Kairos and co-founded by Kairos CEO Ankur Jain, has today announced the close of a $ 21 million Series A round led by Kairos and Lakestar.

Rhino was founded in 2017 with the goal of getting back to renters the billions of dollars that are locked up in cash security deposits, all while protecting landlords and their property. As it stands now, landlords usually take one month’s rent to cover any damage that might be done to the apartment during the lease. This is piled on top of first and sometimes last month’s rent, and even at times a broker’s fee of one month’s rent, which adds up to an incredibly steep cost of moving.

Because of certain regulations, this money is held in an individual escrow account and can’t really generate interest, which results in billions of dollars zapped out of the economy and instead sitting dead in some account.

Rhino is looking to give renters the option to pay a small monthly fee (as low as $ 3) to cover an insurance policy for the landlord. Rhino is itself a managing general agent, allowing the company to both sell and create policy plans for landlords through partnerships with carriers.

Thus far the startup has saved renters upwards of $ 60 million in 2019, with users in more than 300,000 rental units across the country.

“The greatest challenge is working against legacy and industry norms,” said Rhino CEO and co-founder Paraag Sarva. “That start has begun, but there is a huge amount of inertia behind the status quo and that is far and away what we are most challenged by day in and day out.”

To help speed up the process, Rhino is working alongside policymakers to enact change on a federal level.

Alongside the funding announcement, the company is announcing its new policy proposal that was created in collaboration with federal, state and local government officials. The policy essentially allows for renters to be given a choice when it comes to cash deposits, including allowing residents to cover security deposits in installments or use insurtech products like Rhino to cover deposits.

Rhino says it will be sharing the policy proposal with 2020 presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle.

Rhino is one of a handful of companies that has been incubated by Kairos, a startup studio led by Ankur Jain with the goal of solving the biggest problems faced by everyday Americans. The studio focuses on housing and healthcare, with companies such as Rhino, June Homes, Little Spoon, Cera and a couple of startups still in stealth.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


5 Must Watch PPC Reporting Metrics For Small Businesses

March 15, 2019 No Comments

Let’s dive into the data that PPC platforms like Bing and Google provide small businesses and identify 5 easy ways you can use the wealth of information available to make little PPC campaign tweaks that add up to big results.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


4 local SEO strategies for small and medium businesses

February 20, 2018 No Comments

For small and medium businesses who want to compete on the same playing-field as much larger corporations with greater resources at their disposal, having a strong local SEO strategy is crucial.

Irrespective of what industry you’re in, you’ll always have at least one competitor who has been around longer and has allocated more budget and resources to building their visibility on the web and in search engines.

It may feel futile to try and compete with them in the realm of SEO.

But local SEO plays by slightly different rules to the regular kind. You don’t need to have reams of funding at your disposal or hundreds of links pointing to your site to be visible and relevant to a local audience – you just need to understand the unique characteristics of local SEO, and apply a few simple strategies to cater to them.

In this article, we’ll explore four cost-effective strategies that small and medium businesses can use to give themselves the best chance of ranking locally.

Verify your business’ Google Plus page

Your first step is to link your business’ Google Plus page with Google My Business. Google My Business allows SMEs to update their information across Google Search, Google Maps, and Google Plus in one fell swoop, to ensure that a potential customer can find you wherever they are and whatever device they’re on.

Local searches lead to more purchases than non-local searches, and verifying your Google Plus page makes it possible for you to monopolize the majority of the search results pages for your brand name, especially for the Local Business Card on the right.

Business owners need to realize that anyone can edit your business listing and this includes your competitors. Once you have provided Google My Business with all your details, it is very important to login to your Google My Business dashboard regularly to ensure that no one has attempted to make any unwanted changes to your listing.

Take advantage of the many interesting features available to businesses on Google My Business such as Google Posts, booking button feature, messaging, Questions & Answers, and more. The possibilities are limitless, get busy!

Pay-Per-Click advertising

Launching your website is only the first step. Implementing a marketing strategy that includes Pay-Per-Click advertising is an important part of small business success within the digital landscape.

Virtually every small business can benefit from implementing a pay-per-click marketing strategy to build its web presence. The idea is to identify targeted, relevant keywords, understand your target audience and develop a strategy that will drive the right types of leads.

Selling a product or service that is difficult for consumers to find locally makes your business a great candidate for PPC advertising campaigns. People often rely on internet searches to locate unusual or rare products.

On top of this, many local searches with high purchase intent take place on mobile, as consumers search for a business or service “near me” while they’re out and about. As PPC advertising dominates a greater proportion of screen space on mobile, having paid search ads in place will give you the best chance of appearing in front of consumers in these moments.

Learning to combine the strengths of both search and social media, pay-per-click will effectively round out any small business’ paid advertising strategy. Understanding the difference and when to use each platform will increase visibility and decrease cost.

Host user-generated reviews

Google sees reviews as a major factor for ranking on the new carousel design; however, more than anything your reviews are for Google users who see your company on a SERP. Peer-to-peer reviews are powerful because they give your potential customers a good sense of what it’s really like to use your goods or services.

In this regard, the internet has leveled the playing field for small businesses across the globe through the power and exposure of online user-generated reviews.

Search engine spiders like content that is unique and frequently updated, and user reviews are an easy way to create more of this. Content generated by users is often unique to the user, therefore, it is different from the generic content mostly used by e-commerce sites which is the same thing as the manufacturer description.

This, combined with the fact that the words and phrases used by reviewers are often the same as those used by searchers, increases the chances of ranking well for search queries that are relevant to your product.

When you consider that 88% of shoppers consider product reviews before making any purchase, it’s a safe bet to assume that more and more consumers will be searching for the name of your product along with the word ‘review’, or related words like ‘ratings’.

Get your visitors started by simply putting a button on your webpage to facilitate leaving a review, prompt visitors to leave a review after purchasing something or visiting a particular landing page, or talk directly with people in your store or company about leaving a review.

Optimize your images

Optimization for local SEO is not limited to text. Due to the increasingly blended nature of search results, you can now see images on the search listings page, so it’s important to optimize your imagery for search engines.

Ensure your images are search engine-friendly. It all starts with the file name. There are a billion and one images out there, so you don’t want to use a generic image file name like ‘image12345.jpg’ that will guarantee your business gets lost in the pile. Instead, you want to use something descriptive to make it easier for your images to compete in rankings.

Search engines can’t read images, so it is up to you to use alt tags to help describe your image to ensure it pops up during relevant queries. Write a concise, relevant description that contains the appropriate keywords. Don’t forget to write content above and below the images on your website, using keywords where appropriate; the more the text is related to the image, the better.

Most importantly, if you want your images to rank for localized keywords, make sure you add local keywords wherever you can for blended results optimized for a specific local area.

In short, there’s no elevator to rise to the top of the search engine rankings, especially when there’s a massive competitor lingering on the scene. But with a strategy that leverages your geographic location, you can selectively overcome your competitors in specific key areas.

Give yourself an advantage by narrowing your topic and keyword focus and increasing your location-specific relevance. You might not rank for as many keywords as the big players, but you will be able to surpass them in relevance for your chosen focal points.

If you want to dive further into local SEO strategies after reading these tips, the following articles will take you more in-depth:

Pius Boachie is the founder of DigitiMatic, an inbound marketing agency.

Search Engine Watch


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