Facebook for Local Search…an Infographic

Let’s face it, if you own or manage a business you cannot afford to ignore Facebook.  Creating a Facebook page and interacting with your audience will undoubtedly help your business develop brand recognition at the very least.

This infographic was originally developed for NEXTlevel Group which has since been changed to Scott Gombar | CT Internet & Social Media Marketing.  In this infographic I review Facebook statistics specific to Connecticut.

Some interesting facts include:

  • Over 40% of Connecticut’s population is on Facebook
  • 80% of consumers prefer to interact with a brand on Facebook before making a purchase.
  • Facebook is second only to Google for local search

Facebook for Local Search...an Infographic by Scott Gombar.  Did you know that over 40% of Connecticut's population is on Facebook?  Learn more here..

 

 

No sales from your website? Here’s why

I Have Visitors but No Sales

Have you ever wondered why you’re not converting sales from your website visitors?  Your SEO company delivered on their promise to bring you more traffic, they show you the reports that indicate more people are coming to your site but no one is biting.   First of all if your SEO brings traffic and that’s it then they are not doing their job, but I will save that for another post.

You need to look deeper at the numbers to understand why it is no one is making a purchase, signing up for your newsletter or contacting you about a service.   Even more importantly you have to look at your website and understand what it is that is turning off visitors, and correct it now.

So what is it that is making your customers turn away, and possibly go to the competition?  How do you even know if it is your site and not your online reputation, or lack of?  What can you do?

What’s wrong with your site?

You have a gorgeous site, at least according to you and your web designer.  You advertise your products or services clear as day and you offer competitive pricing.  That’s all great and will help but that’s not what is going to keep the people visiting your site.  Chances are you have competition that offers similar products or services at similar prices so the only way you can compete, especially if you are not established is to provide something that your competition does not offer.

So what is it that your website does not have, or maybe does have, that is turning people off?   Let’s look at 3 things that could improve conversion rates.

1.  Remove unnecessary interactive (flash) content.  Flash is a killer.  If your website takes longer to load because of flash content people will leave and continue the search elsewhere.  Get rid of the flash.  Flash has fallen so far out of grace that they have created a new version of HTML (the language of web pages) that makes flash useless.

2.  You need something to make your visitors feel warm and fuzzy about your product or service.  For example, we were recently tasked with helping TechsRUs with their site.  Among other things we had them include some guarantees on their site.  Nothing over the top or outrageous but we noticed a few things that might help, things that their competition was not doing.

  • Include detailed pricing information-most of the time people are looking for how much they can expect to spend.  Many businesses do not publicly advertise pricing or make it obscure.  Why?  The client will find out eventually.  It’s better to be upfront and set the expectation beforehand.
  • Include testimonials when possible, but make sure they are real.  There is nothing worse than made up testimonials.   Visitors can often see right through them.  Testimonials give you a level of credibility with new visitors because they know you have worked with others in similar situations who are more than happy to express their pleasure with your business.
  • Don’t go for the kill.  Your website home page should not ask for the sale right away.  It should be a welcome mat telling visitors “Hey, we have all of this wonderful information and stuff for you to look at, stay a while”.
  • Offer a guarantee or refund policy.  On the TechsRUs site, they offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee, or you pay nothing.  I know this sounds risky, and while it may backfire from time to time most people are honest and will pay for the product or service at the rate you requested.
  • Tell your visitors why they should choose you over others.  Throughout the TechsRUs site, there are explanations as to why they would be best suited to be your IT Support team.  None of them really cost too much money or time or even impact the bottom line negatively but people are more apt to do business with their team because of the little things they offer to potential clients.
  • Get an unbiased third party opinion about your site.  Sometimes what you and your web designer think looks great may not be that appealing to others.  And often that third party can even point out what it is about your site that is turning people off.

3.   Don’t build your site for you, build it for your visitors.  Remember what you might think is great might not be appealing to others.  For example, on the TechsRUs site, they recently posted a blog about ways to maintain your computer for free.  What might seem very basic to a lot of techy people is not for the people that TechsRUs is trying to attract.  They designed the content for their audience, not for themselves or their peers in the industry.

You have to know your audience, your potential clients.  Otherwise, you are essentially writing content for yourself, and if that is what you are doing then you will undoubtedly fail in business.

Build it and they will come

When you tell people about your business you explain it to them as they understand it.   You present it in a manner that the target audience can easily grasp and comprehend why they should be working with you, and not the guy down the street.   If you feel that your target audience of the moment is not grasping your message you restructure it so that they can understand it.

That is the process of Optimization (SEO).  You design your site to reach your intended audience, not your peers or experts in your industry.  You have to find out what will make your audience stick around and convert.  That really should be the job of your Internet Marketing team whether in-house or contracted.   Your website will need to be tweaked from time to time to make adjustments to further optimize your opportunities.

One final note

I mentioned earlier that your SEO probably helped increase traffic.  While that is great is it qualified traffic?  Do you know how many pages of your site they visited?  Do you know how long they stayed on your site, or where the traffic came from or went to?  And is Social Media part of the plan?

It’s not enough just to get people to go to your website.  If you are paying large monthly fees just to increase traffic without fully understanding where it is coming from and what they are doing while they are there then you are not getting your moneys worth.  And your Internet Marketer is failing at his job, which means most likely they are also failing at improving your sales.  Isn’t that what a marketer does, improves sales?

 

Want a free analysis of your internet marketing program?  Give me a shout, call 203.806.0736

Local Search Infographic. Are You Measuring Up? [Probably Not]

A lot of numbers to look at with this one.  Are you taking advantage of your local search opportunities?    Probably the most interesting to me is that there are 350 million business reviews done DAILY!  If you are a local business you definitely need a piece of that action.

By the way, over 40% of Connecticut is on Facebook.  If you do not have one of those 16 Million business pages you are doing your business a disservice.

Which fact do you think is the most interesting?

Local Search Infographic

The importance of local search

You’re a local business in Connecticut and you need to target consumers and/or businesses in Connecticut.  You have a website but your not sure who is seeing it.   You need to focus on your Connecticut Local Search Marketing but now you are wondering how to go about that, or if your current internet marketing team is doing that for you.

There are numerous directories dedicated to local businesses and the consumers who support those CT local businesses.  Almost half of the app downloads on iOS are social and local.  This means that not only are consumers looking for businesses on the go, but they are looking for your product or service.  Is your competition getting the business because you’re not taking advantage of the directories and local search/social media?

Mapquest lists restaurants, banks, stores and other brick and mortar locations when anyone uses their service.  Is your business showing up on their site?  Google, Bing, Yahoo and Yelp are all dedicated to local business growth.   Many other sites tie in with local directories and search.   Millions upon millions of people are using local search to find what they are looking for, and many of them are ready to purchase.  Don’t miss out on the potential!

Ready to see how your doing with your local internet marketing? Click here…

5 things you should not do as an internet marketer

Internet Marketing 101

What to look for from your marketer?  Not everyone is an expert

Internet Marketing

Any business owner will tell you to keep an eye on what your competition is doing.  As such I am constantly looking at what other SEO and Internet Marketing Firms are doing.   I generally focus on those that I would compete directly against but occasionally go outside of my area just to see what others are doing.

Some of these firms look very strong and seem to know what they are talking about based on their content and social media presence, while others could use a few lessons.  It always amazes me when someone advertises services that they are not proactively using themselves.  For example, if you look through craigslist you will see numerous people advertising that they are expert web designers, yet they do not have a website.

Often I come across a site that advertises SEO but they do not seem to have a strong understanding of what SEO is in 2014.  The game has changed.  You can no longer rely on a strategy that focuses on link spamming, email spamming or keyword stuffing.  You cannot pay a black hat SEO to get you on the first page of Google.  The tricks that many would be SEO firms used to get their clients to the top no longer work, and their clients are suffering while they scramble to correct everything,  The fact is if the SEO firms were doing it right all along, and heeding Google’s warning, they would not be scrambling today.

Today your focus should be content, content, and content.  Developing original, quality, relevant content is what will drive your site to the top, as long as everything else is set up properly.  As long as the content is there, the rest can be achieved with a little help from a qualified internet marketer.

Rather than list everything you will need to do,  I am going to list some of the things you should run away from if you see it on another firm’s site.  This is not an all inclusive list but is a good starting point.  If you are looking for a true expert in the field of internet/digital marketing make sure they are not trying to include any of these items as part of their own strategy.   Your firm should be transparent.  If you don’t know what they are doing then they may not be using ethical online marketing methods.

If you are looking for some things you should be focusing on as part of your plan, learn more on our guest blog post on Business2Community.com.

Probably most important, if they promise to get you the top spot of Google’s search results instantly…run and run as fast as you can.  No one can guarantee that.

What Internet Marketers Should Not Be Doing

1.  Flash Content-Flash content is not crawled by search engines.  Meaning it is not seen by Google, Bing or Yahoo when they send their spiders out (sounds creepy, I know) to look for content.  Flash content (as well as other similar content) is not readable by the search engines.  The more flash content you have the less likely you will be found by search engines, which means you will likely not be discovered when people search for your product or service.

If your home page has flash content, or you have a flash intro as part of your site there is a very good chance the search engines will never find it.

Flash has also fallen out of favor of many people who use the internet, so much so that HTML5 was developed and it is rumored that Flash will eventually be phased out.  HTML is the language of the internet.  Other languages are built on top of HTML but without HTML you do not have websites.

If the internet marketer you are looking at has a lot of flash content, or java content, especially on the home (index) page of their site you can bet they are not very strong in the field of SEO.

2.  Focus on link building as a primary strategy-At one time adding your link to as many resources as possible was indeed a strategy that would work if you wanted to get to the top of the search engine results page.  So much so that large corporations invested a lot of time and money into this as their primary strategy despite warnings from Google.

Today, with Google’s recent algorithm updates, this strategy will prove costly.  If your site invested in this as a strategy it is most likely suffering today.  You should not be paying for links back to your sites or exchanging links with others as methods for link building.  Google wants links to your site to basically be someone saying you are an expert on a subject.

If an internet marketer’s primary focus is on link building (most likely spamming) then their plan will not work with the algorithm that Google has in place now.  It will most likely have the opposite impact and cause you to drop in the ranking.

3.  Ignore Social Media-It’s the elephant in the very small closet.  You simply cannot afford to ignore social media.  If a firm says they are SEO experts but only have a couple hundred followers on Twitter or no presence on Facebook/Google+ then they do not take social media seriously.  If they have not heard of Pinterest or Instagram then they are not prepared to develop your social media plan.

Social Media cannot be ignored.  There is no question about it.  You cannot survive without a presence on the major players of the social media world.  It’s really that simple.  Without this presence, and interacting with your audience you will lose out to your competitors.

4.  Duplicate Content-Duplicate content on your own site, and on other sites can be harmful to your internet health.  Google does not like duplicate content.  If there is duplicate content Google will discount at least one of the sources.  If one of the sources is discounted, can you afford to have Google decide which one it is?

If an internet marketing firm has duplicate content, duplicate pages or duplicate sites then chances are they are not aware of this rule, and probably others.

5.  Ignore Your Audience-So many times I see where people are commenting on blog posts, social media posts or other internet content by an internet marketing company where a representative of the company does not reply.  It seems to happen most when the comment is not favorable to the topic of the post.

This means the company is not engaging its audience.  This is not the behavior you want from your internet marketing firm.  Engagement is one of the most important aspects of internet marketing and should never be ignored under any circumstance.  If you see an internet marketing not interacting with it’s audience this indicates they do not value their audience, and will not value your audience either.

The Final Word

Ask a lot of questions before you commit to a firm.  Understand what their plan will be, ask for reports on the results of the strategy they have in place.  Any good internet marketing plan will include tweaks to improve upon results or address negative results quickly.

SEO plans are constantly adjusted, updated and optimized and should include social media, content development and multimedia such as images and video.  The best marketers use tools to check for all possible problems and correct them quickly.  Ask what tools a potential firm will use.

Transparency is always key.  If the firm cannot tell you exactly what they are doing and how they are achieving the results you should express concern.  Remember, you are the client, not vice-versa.

If you have questions about what your firm is doing feel free to ask!  We’ll look into it and let you know, for free!

 

Facebook Business Page Tips Part 2-Using Your Page

Facebook Anger & ConfusionLast week we talked about the importance of a Facebook Page if you own or run a business.    This week I continue the series on Facebook Business Page Tips.  We’re going to discuss using your page to reach and attract an audience interested in learning more about your product or service.

We already discussed a few ways to build your audience in the first post.  This post will focus more on how to keep them intrigued, interested and engaged.   This is typically where a lot of page owners falter.    Some take the “If you build it they will come” saying to literal.  That will not work on any Social Media page.  You have to develop the community, and then engage the community.

Engage Your Audience

1.  Optimize Posting Times

Your audience has a time of day that is best for engagement.  Most users of Facebook tend to interact with posts in the early to mid-afternoon hours (after lunch) and again after dinner.  While this is probably true for a majority of Facebook users you will want to test and re-test to confirm that posting at certain times works better than others.

You should also get in the habit of posting on a regular basis.   At one time it was recommended (even by me) that you post one to 2 times a day to avoid annoying your audience.  Today’s Facebook makes it a lot tougher to reach your audience with just the one to 2 times a day.  It’s OK to post 5 times a day, just spread them out to maximize potential reach.   And make sure you check your insights to see how well a particular post does.

One of the worst things you can do to your Facebook page is not posted on a regular basis.  Abandonment will not sit well with your audience.  You will be forgotten.  Audience members might disappear and conversions will drop off.

2.  Use Images/Video

Studies show that engagement dramatically increases when a post includes an image or video.   So much so that Facebook has indicated recently that they will give more weight to posts from Facebook Pages that use less text and more images.

As noted on Buffer,  Facebook posts with images increase engagement by 39%.  Engagement is how you convert your audience to clients.  It can be as simple as a picture related to your post, or an infographic.

If you want to use videos (and we recommend you do) it’s best to include YouTube and post it on YouTube for several reasons.  As a corporate trainer, I learned that different people interact with different types of media differently.  Wow..that’s a mouthful.  What I am saying is some prefer written, some prefer images and some prefer video.  If you plan to reach as many people as possible you need to include as many types of media as possible.

3.  Use Post Scheduler

Facebook Post Scheduler

Facebook has a built-in scheduler for pages.  Use it!  It is physically impossible to be on Facebook 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  You have other obligations and commitments.  You need to eat and sleep.  You have a life away from your computer (although that probably means you have a smartphone with you).   So use the scheduler to set up posts in advance.

While I am a certified HootSuite Partner it is best you use the Facebook scheduler.  Unlike other social media platforms, Facebook does not like you using third party apps to post.  Their algorithm tends to push posts using third-party apps further down, decreasing engagement potential.

4.  Ask Questions, create surveys

Facebook Questions and SurveyThere is nothing like a question or survey to get the masses going.  A couple of examples recently used on my page include:

  • Who will win the Super Bowl
  • What type of business would not benefit from Social Media Marketing
  • And currently..who makes the best pizza in Connecticut.

You will notice that only one of the questions is directly related to what I do and what the page is about.  You don’t always have to be on topic with your Facebook page.  In fact I recommend that you do stray as you’re bound to bore people if all you talk about is what you do.  Talk about what people want to talk about.  Remember, it’s a community.  When you are out with friends and family do you just talk about what you do or do you talk about other things as well?

Surveys are also great because they are easy for your audience to interact with.  Rather than writing out a response they can just select the choice they want and move on to the next persons post.

5.  Create a contest

People love contests.  You don’t have to give away your car or house.  It can be a gift certificate to Dunkin Donuts or a Visa Gift Card.   You can even offer your services for free as I have done in the past.  Contests get people engaged with your page.

The contest should require an action from your audience.   The most common action is a page like, followed by signing up for your email list.  You don’t have to limit the action to just these items but it does have to be track-able somehow.

My last contest was Win a Website Makeover.  The contest required you to fill out a short form..name, address, website address and email address.  It also required a page like and finally (and most importantly) a screenshot of your website.  From this, I chose the ugliest website and rebuilt it.

6.  Encourage Sharing

SharingIt’s OK to ask.  If you think you’re content should reach more people then ask your audience to share it, like it or comment on it.  This also means your content will be bumped.

What’s bumped you ask?  Have you ever noticed a picture or post at the top of your timeline from years ago?  That’s because someone recently commented on it moving it to the top of the Facebook timeline since it had the most recent interaction.  The same works for your page posts.  If someone comments on or shares the post get’s moved to the top of the timeline.

7.  Don’t ignore comments, even if negative

Probably one of the worst things you can do, ignore a comment.  Reply to any comments no matter what it is (unless it’s obvious spam).  Ignoring comments will just about guarantee the loss of at least one audience member.  Ignoring a customer complaint will probably look worse than the complaint itself.

I cannot overstate this…do not ignore any comments.

8.  Don’t ignore weekends

In case you’re living under a rock… weekends are busy on Social Media.  Facebook has a much higher engagement rate on Saturdays especially.   In fact, the best day to share on Facebook is Saturday.   You would be missing out on potential reach and conversions if you ignored weekends.

If you’re like me and Saturdays are tough to sit at the computer (hey, I have 4 kids ranging from 18-not yet born) then use the Facebook Post Scheduler.

9.  Don’t go for the hard sell

SalesmanIt’s really simple…follow the 80/20 rule.  In sales trainer, they teach you ABC (Always Be Closing).  I learned this many, many years ago while working at Radio Shack.  I personally never understood it since I hated being sold to, and that’s probably why I did not last long at Radio Shack.

Social Media is no different…people do not want to be SOLD to.  They liked your page to develop a relationship with you, to learn more about what you do.  There is a good chance they are already considering purchasing from you but forcing your sales pitch down their throat will quickly turn them off.

The 80/20 rule in it’s simplest form means you should only be selling 20% of the time.  That means that 1/5 of your posts should be related to selling your product or service.  To be honest I almost never post a sales pitch on Facebook.   My main focus is interacting with my audience about various things including what I do.  This should be your focus too.

If you want to see my posts just visit my Facebook page.  

Get On Facebook and Get Started!

Next week I will post more on Facebook etiquette so make sure you come back.  For now, you have plenty to work with!

Need help getting started on Facebook?  I would love to help you out!   Just click here to contact me or call 203.806.0736

CT Internet Marketing Facts in 2014

Have Website, Will Search

If you own a business you undoubtedly heard of the internet.  As a matter fact unless you have been living under a rock you have probably heard of the internet.  It has become almost critical that your business has some sort of presence on the internet or risk becoming irrelevant.  It’s so easy to start a business and establish it on the internet with the number of resources available at little to no cost.

But it’s not enough to just create a static web page and upload it to the massive world wide web.  There are literally billions of web pages on the internet, some of them competing for the same audience you are trying to reach.  Let’s take a look at some simple statistics just in Connecticut Internet Marketing.  I will list some of the things CT residents are searching for and how many times they are searched in a month, just on Google.

CT Search Facts

    • CT Plumber-12,100
    • CT Electrician-5400
    • landscaping in CT-12,100
    • CT Computer Repair-3600
    • Italian Restaurants CT-6600
    • CT Life Insurance-1900
    • Financial Planning CT-390

As you can see you may have some stiff competition, and this is just Google.  What about Bing and Yahoo?  What about Facebook, Twitter, and Google+?  You have your work cut out for you now that you opened the business and uploaded your static site.  So what’s a business to do?

Local Search Marketing in Connecticut

Here are some tips to improve your search results.  You can do most of these on your own with little to no financial commitment but the time involved may prove to be overwhelming especially if you are trying to run a small business.

1.  Website Content-You should strive for original, fresh and related content for your website.  This is probably the single most important piece but as you will discover the other pieces all tie in together.   If you are Financial Planner in Connecticut you will want to develop a blog with relevant content.  While not every post needs to be Connecticut specific it should have some flavors of Connecticut, and of course Financial Planning. Your ‘static’ pages should also be relevant and contain material that is up to date.  You will need to refresh and optimize on a regular basis to obtain your ultimate goal of reaching the top of the search results.   The percentage of content on your website should be significantly higher than the actual coding behind the site.  You should also have a clear structure to your website using a menu and internal links.  Google wants to be able to find other pages on your site easily. Images on your site should contain the proper description.  You should limit the amount of flash and java content.  If you are looking to have more media on your site use pictures and videos but ensure they have proper descriptions and coding.

2.  Social Media-At the very least you will want to develop social media profiles on what I call the Big 3.  (No not the Miami Heat).  Your social media should be used for community development and not for the cold sale.  If you set out to attack customers with sales pitch after sales pitch you will fail to develop a community and brand awareness. Facebook-right now Facebook is easily the king of the jungle.  In Connecticut alone there are over 1.6 million people over age 18 on Facebook.  That means using Facebook you can reach almost half of the states population.  Where else can you do that for no financial commitment? Alright, it’s not quite that simple, it will take some time, and at first you may want to invest in Facebook’s advertising system to get your page jump started.  With Facebook Ads you can target a very specific audience, and as soon as you reach 30 followers you can get more insights into your Facebook page to help optimize it further.

Google+ has taken over the number 2 spot over Twitter as far as the number of users.  Google+ is Google’s entry into the social media world after a couple of other failed attempts.  Google+ also lets you set up Google Authorship which will help to rank in the Google Search results tremendously.  As a matter of fact, Google has said if you have Google Authorship set up you will rank better.

Twitter is a micro-blogging site.  It has slipped to number 3 in number of users just recently.  It offers a platform to post short (140 Characters or less) updates about whatever you want it to be.  Twitter made the hashtag famous and while all the aforementioned sites use hashtags as well Twitter seems to thrive with them.

3.  Keywords are also important but not in the same way as they used to be.  It is important to have Keywords on your website (and social media profiles) but they should be a part of the content.  Search engines are not using meta keywords anymore.  Keywords should also be added using H1 and H2 tags wherever possible.It is also important not to overuse Keywords (called Keyword Stuffing).  This can have a very negative impact on your site’s ranking in search engines.  Using your keywords should not make your content unreadable.  If it does not make sense to you then it probably will not to your audience.

4.  Link Building is also a good way to get your site noticed by search engines but can also have a negative impact if not done right.  You should strive to quality, related sites link back to your site.  Google looks at this as meaning you are considered an expert in your area if other people in your field, or related fields are linking back to you.The reverse is possible if your site is linked from sites that are unrelated, or even worse are considered spam.  This can have a very negative effect on your search engine results.  Another no-no is posting on blogs solely for the purpose of adding a link back to your site.

5.  Guest Blogging is a good way to get your name out there.  There are many sites that allow people to blog as a guest which will do a few things for you.  It allows you to show your expertise in an area, making you the authority on the subject.  It also allows legitimate backlinks to your site if the blog has a by-line (which it should include, using Google Authorship). With that being said make sure that your guest blogs are also tied into your Google Authorship account.  This goes a long way in making you the expert on the materials you are covering.

You will want to be careful with Guest Blogging.  Make sure you are not using it as a form of link building.  You should only guest on high quality blogs, and do so on a regular basis to ensure that Google does not view it is spam.  You also will want to limit guest bloggers on your own site.  Make sure they are legitimate content developers and not spammers.

6.  Email Marketing can be a very useful tool in your toolbox.  This allows you to send email to people who have opted in to receive notifications from you and may include product or service updates, tips, promotions and pretty much anything else you want to include.   Using a service like Constant Contact makes email marketing very easy to manage, and it is very cost effective.Email Marketing still has one of the highest ROI in the marketing world.  It is a good idea to invest in it since the cost is minimal but the potential is limitless.  It is important to note that your email should be considered an extension of your website.  It should have well thought out content that follows the same guidelines as your site, no keyword stuffing or other behavior that will turn your audience off, or encourage them to opt out.

7.  Adwords-While this one will cost some money it may be a good idea to use it initially to build your websites presence.  Using Google Adwords you can target specific audiences who are looking for exactly what you are offering.  This means that you are getting pre-qualified leads to your website, and now it’s up to you to convert the visit.

These are just some of the things you should be focusing on.  It is a good starting point to help your CT Internet Marketing plan get off the ground but there are many other things that you can do.  Keep in mind you are creating a web presence to attract potential clients, not for your own ego.  You should always get the perspective over an unbiased person whenever creating or drastically changing your website or other web presence.

It is also a good idea to keep in mind the don’ts of local search marketing.  Anything that seems unethical probably is.  Link Spamming and Keyword Stuffing are two things you will definitely want to stay far away from.

Not sure how your internet marketing plan is going?  Ask us, we’ll let you know…for free.

Happy Marketing!