In the highly technical and sometimes confusing world of ‘SEO’, business owners need to understand the necessity of ensuring that their business is listed in the top four major search engines. I call this part of ‘The ‘fundamentals’ of digital marketing’. I liken today’s digital age to the 20th century yellow pages in terms of importance. Upon review of these modern day versions of the yellow pages, one can should easily see the importance of being listed in these directories.
As many of you may recall, when a business opened let’s say 20 years ago, the phone company would provide a one line business address and phone number totally free, gratis, nada! The same is true in today’s Google world, and the social media platform. Google, Yahoo, Bing and Yelp will ‘give’ your business a free basic listing. Search engines such as Google scan public records, and publish the information they find, right or wrong. The problem is that most business owners aren’t even aware of what information Google, Yahoo, Bing and Yelp has, and what is published. And to further muddy the waters, even pro digital marketers are kept in the dark as Google changes often; even the semantics of their products!
‘Google Maps’ is also known as ‘Google Places’. But let’s keep it simple. All businesses are provided a free business listing. The problem however is it takes several hours to create, update, populate, upload photos, confirm and ultimately ‘optimize’ each listing. It sounds easy enough, but it can be a laborious and tedious task for most. To ensure it’s done correctly however one must take the time to suffer through the process. And In this case ‘ignorance’ and ‘laziness’ are a business owner’s worst enemies. After all this is YOUR business, and it’s about your customers being able to find you easily for all the products and services you provide.
It is crucial for your business to have the ‘basics’ or what most in the industry refer to as ‘Fundamentals’ in place. Think of it as being similar to building a home. Without a foundation the house will have a difficult time standing and an even harder time maintaining its structural integrity. You can also relate it to professional sports, or any team sport. If your fundamentals are solid, your chances of being competitive greatly increases. Creating separation from competitors in today’s environment means taking the time to understand the basics and ensure these particular business listings are handled correctly. Furthermore ignoring these listings or their importance will ultimately cost you money and can leave you in the wake of your competition. Even still most business owners have to find this out the hard way.
More and more consumers are reading online reviews before making a buying decision. Therefore it is imperative that a business owner take the initiative and find out how a positive or negative online presence can affect his or her business. I’ve found that not enough interest is taken regarding ‘image’. If you put on a pressed shirt, slacks and comb your hair to be presentable, why not do the same for the image of your business?
It is true that the majority of businesses we speak with do not utilize these free listings to help propel them forward prior to our arrival at their doorstep. What’s disturbing is that so many of businesses we speak with are completely unaware of the importance of business listings in Google, Yahoo, Bing and Yelp. These listings, their content and reviews can move a business up in the ranking in a very short time. Keep in mind that that these are the largest business directories in the world…..and they’re FREE! No smoke and mirrors here!
Your Google, Yahoo, Bing and Yelp listings will need to be verified, but current content will also need to be added. Reviews, information regarding ‘specials’ or even changes in your hours of operation need to be added. Accuracy and uniformity are important as well. Each listing should mirror the other in terms of business categories; details about your business’ products and services. In addition to the basic listings with Google, Yahoo, Bing & Yelp, we also want to stress the importance of social media and its role in search engine ranking. A ‘business’ Facebook page (Separate and not connected to your own private Facebook account) is preferred. A Twitter account is also recommended, as well as ‘LinkdIn’ and for some businesses ‘Pinterest’. These social media platforms are as they enable a business to communicate with prospects and deliver targeted ads to your audience.
Basic social media presence is also free to incorporate. There are hundreds of other business directories out there as well, but the top ten seem to be the most effective. We recommend having these basics and fundamentals in place BEFORE you begin your SEO campaign. You may then have a look at creating a website that is search engine friendly.
Additionally, so much information moves so quickly on the web that it’s important to have your site evaluated by a professional to ensure that you’re not paying for an expensive online business card or brochure; one that no one can even find or navigate. Again It’s all about the fundamentals and the basics that ensure your business has the online presence required in today’s competitive business environment. This is so crucial that if the basics are not handled you can easily be ‘left behind’. Your competitors will pull in the ‘lion’s share’ and you will be left with the scraps.
Make sure that if someone is looking for your product or service while driving and searching on their smart phone, that they can find you easily. The good news is that MOST of your competitors do owners DO NOT have their basics ‘in’. Once you take that step you will see the separation occur. tor. Lastly, all three search engines are always looking for fresh and updated content on your business.
So it’s a bit more complicated than simply posting basic info and then forgetting about it.
Make sure you’re taking advantage of all the free listings the Internet has to offer to promote your product or service. Do the fundamentals well, and you may be surprised at the increases in numbers of inquiries and new customers you will enjoy.