Digital Marketing for Acadiana Businesses
● By Brian O
Search engines are just a part of the digital marketing puzzle
When you look across this great country of ours you quickly come to notice that everyone is talking about “digital.” If it’s not Google it’s Facebook, if it’s not Facebook it’s Mobile. People are tweeting, pinning and status(ing) all day long. Yet the fact that we’re all exposed to social media in particular and digital in general few local businesses are seeing much a benefit from digital. Why is that?
It comes down the how quickly things are evolving and misunderstanding the basics.
The Local research firm Borrell Associates recently released a report in which they interviewed hundreds of local businesses reporting, “Business owners told us that they felt overwhelmed, that they did not understand all of today’s local media choices — the confusion of online, social, mobile app, deals, keywords, blogs, SEO, tweets and so on. They did not have the training to deal with it, they did not have the time to deal with it, they did not have the staff to deal with it.”
What are the basics?
Things like reputation, social media, and search engine optimization (SEO) comprise the foundation of digital. Ironically, these are the same ideas that comprise the foundation of the real world. You spend a lot of time building the reputation of your business and you collect testimonials whenever you can (Reputation). Of course word of mouth and facetime with your customers is a great way to learn from them to improve your business and gain new customers (Social Media). Finally, if people can easily find you then they won’t do business with you (Search Engine Optimization).
Not only are the concepts derived from the real-world but how to succeed is just as understandable. Understanding doesn’t guarantee success but success online certainly won’t happen with you understanding the details because just like your real-world business success online isn’t just something you build and forget but continue to refine.
Many websites and businesses have emerged to help you build and manage your reputation online. Most of these services have free options, you should always register and take advantage of every free option that you can as it helps with SEO as well. The challenge is ensuring that the reputation you build benefits you wherever people find your business. For this reason, a listing in the Directory at AcadianaLifestyle.com Powered by Locable enables you to collect and share reviews and testimonials on our website, on your website via our Reviews Widget, and on your Facebook Page with our Facebook app so that no matter where potential customers find you they find the same YOU. Listings are free to create and paid upgrades are available to help your business stand out and get more out of your efforts online.
Of the three foundational activities, reputation management is the one you can most directly influence and can be made to happen in a near-automated way once setup.
Check out AcadianLifestyle.com/places for more information on listings in our Directory.
Social Media is the most challenging component of digital for local businesses. In part because it’s on the opposite side of the spectrum from Reputation Management, it can be the most time intensive if using a brute force approach. But more so because social media is a form of entertainment and is quickly replacing TV viewing as leisure time, as a result in order for you to be successful you need to be entertaining.
Here’s the rub, most local businesses are boring. Most businesses I don’t think about until I need them whether we’re talking about a plumber, electrician, or HVAC. There are exceptions such as restaurants, theaters, spa’s and the like which have entertaining news and events but these types of businesses are but a fraction of local businesses.
Does this mean “boring” businesses shouldn’t attempt social media? Absolutely not. All local businesses should have a Facebook page, some should have Twitter profiles or Pinterest accounts depending on the nature of the business. Your website should be socially shareable, any content or blogs you create (see SEO below) should be socially shareable and you should piggy-back on others that are more established on social media such as participating on Acadian Lifestyle’s Facebook page which has the ability to connect with locals on a wide range of entertaining topics. Moreover, posting your events and activities on sites that are social media friendly and then sharing those activities to social media will help you benefit from Facebook and other networks.
You can start by posting Free events in the calendar at AcadianaLifestyle.com/calendar.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Finally we have SEO, the 800 pound gorilla in the digital room. Ironically, your search results (how Search Engine Optimized you are) are affected by both your reputation online and your businesses participation in social as well as other factors.
Despite the fact that we all use search engines like Google and Bing most people are confused by how they work. They are technological marvels to be sure but the concepts can be understood by all – if we can just get past all of the misinformation floating around out there. If you think SEO is most impacted by the phrase “meta tags” forget you ever heard that.
Consider this real-world example. You’re in a new city and you hop in a cab. You tell the driver you want to have a four star meal for dinner. Then he takes you down main street and before you know it you’re at the best restaurant in town. Now what if I told you that search engines are like the cab drivers of the Internet? (And even better, you don’t have to pay them!) Of course online you type in what you’re looking for and they try to figure out where you really want to go based on the phrase you use, that is the EXACT phrase you use and the level of detail.
They suggest a few places (or many) based on the content that exists on those websites and how closely that content matches your search phrase. Though they don’t stop there, they also look at how many people are talking about your business on social media, linking to your website from their website or blog or directory. Links to your business are like a referral. If you’re trying to get a job, getting introduced to the company president is a lot more valuable than walking in off the street not knowing anyone. So it is with search engines, the more links that you have from relevant websites the better.
What is relevant? Well, it depends on your business and is primarily comprised of sites that are locally prominent and those that have a lot of content about a topic related to your business. For example, if you’re a Thai Restaurant and you have a glowing review with a link to your menu from a Local Restaurant review website which wrote an article about the best Thai Restaurant’s in town then that would carry a lot of weight, even more if people share that review to Facebook. Notice the underlined words are critical, Google plays a very complicated game of “Go Fish!” and this Keyword matching is an important aspect of it.
Search engines are a powerful driving force of the Internet and understanding how they work is essential to your online endeavors. Want to learn more about SEO and Social Media or see what Acadiana Lifestyle can do to raise your profile online? Contact Us and for businesses with a listing in the directory you can join a free SEO and Social Media Webinar with our digital partner Locable. Just create/claim your business’ free or upgraded listing and you’re in. Want to bring a friend with you? No problem, you’re welcome to include employees and we encourage you to refer your friends to create/claim their business listing so they can join in too.
Top 5 Common Small Business SEO Myths
- SEO is a ‘one-off’ project.
- SEO costs more than it’s worth.
- SEO doesn’t bring in real customers.
- SEO isn’t useful for small business.
- Paying someone for SEO is your best bet.