If you've ever taken a business course, you'll probably remember one of your professors evoking the famous Bill Gates quote that indicates:
"The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency."
For business leaders looking to increase web presence and build a powerful digital marketing strategy, this quote elucidates a salient point: the more efficient and consistent your digital marketing strategy is, the more profitable your results can be. However, if you pay no attention to efficiency and consistency, then you might end up at the bottom! In order to rise to the top of local business Internet search, consider the following:
1. Understand "Rank" In A Local Search
If you want your business to rise to the top of the leader board when it comes to search results you need to be sure you are being efficient in your digital marketing strategy planning by being certain that you:
- Use the same exact business name, address, and phone number in every single social media format and local business Internet directory; even changing a title slightly can confuse the search engines.
- Create fresh content for your website and update it regularly; upload photos and videos to your Google Places profile.
- When filling out the Google Places profile use the category field to characterize your business ("coffee shop," "caf", "bistro") and use the description field to unleash organic and descriptive keywords.
- Encourage viewer engagement and ratings; more ratings translate into a higher search engine ranking.
- To establish rank, search engine algorithms utilize "relevance," "prominence," and "distance" along with indicators that measure "trust" (also interpreted as how probable it is that the business is active, legitimate, and fresh). Taking care to address the checkpoints above will assist you in gaining higher search engine rankings.
2. Website Considerations – The Initial Stages
Some business ideas take off with social media and use existing business directories to get the ball rolling. But as the business grows, you will need to build an effective website to maximize your digital marketing strategy. Before investing in a website consultant or going it alone, take some time to build an efficient strategy from a digital marketing point of view. To complement digital marketing and increase overall web presence, your website should:
- Be easy to navigate with social media links and other relevant contact information readily available.
- Address your client's needs in an engaging way (study competitor's websites first).
- Utilize basic analytics to quantify website data.
- Offer a place for customers to leave reviews.
- Educate or contribute to consumer knowledge with fresh and relevant content.
- As time and interest allow, you will want to take these steps further to maximize website potential and increase local business rankings even more.
3. Maximizing Website Potential
Once you have a basic layout ironed out, you will then need to add more elements from a comprehensive digital marketing strategy in order to maximize your ranking potential. At this stage, you may seek additional professional development in this area or consult with a digital marketing specialist. In either event, this is what you need to keep in mind at this stage in website development:
- Optimizing your website for most efficient client engagement will increase reviews and boost ranking.
- Checking that Google can recognize connection between your website and your Place page is essential for eliminating data confusion.
- Utilizing the most efficient use of keywords and proper category associations is important for search engines to automatically boost you to the top.
- Taking the time to verify that your name, address, and phone number (with area code ) is exactly the same on your website as it is in all directories is paramount for improved Google rankings.
- Developing creative ways to keep clients coming back to your site and building reliable links on your web page is vital as your business (and competition) grows.
With regular updates, reputable links, and increased client reviews you can achieve top rankings – especially in areas where competition is tough.
4. Use Business Directories – Many Are Free!
Another great way to drive your business to the top of local search engine results is to make the best use of as many free business directories as you can. Of course, the common ones are Google local, Yahoo local, Bing, and the yellow pages, but also consider:
- yelp.com – local business reviews
- citysearch.com – business location resource
- insiderspages.com – reviews
- kudzu.com – consumer tips and reviews
- manta.com – small business networking site
- citysquares.com – insider guide to local business
There are many other free directories you can find on the Internet. Just remember to be effective, you will need to use the exact same address, phone number, and business name as you do on your Places page. Consider using your social media influence to encourage clients to post reviews on your directory pages.
Increasing efficiency and consistency in your digital marketing strategy can greatly improve your rank in local search results. To climb your way to the top, continue to educate yourself on strategies to maximize your web presence. In one Internet marketing case study, a hotel jumped from 9th to 3rd and their website received 300 more visitors and 1200 more views in just one month after implementing many of the same strategies detailed above. Having a web presence isn't enough to fully compete in today's global marketplace. Maximizing the efficiency and consistency of your digital marketing strategy can pack a powerful punch placing you at the top of coveted first page, and effectively ahead of your competition.