Local Marketing on the Internet

local internet marketing services hampton va
local internet marketing services hampton va

What Makes Sense For the Future of Local Marketing on the Internet?

I've spent the last few months really digging into what Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird - and whatever other Google-inspired animal kingdom program means in its quest to take over the world. At this point, I would have to say Google certainly controls the Internet world. The ripple effects over the last year from these programs has shaken up what the traditional small business SEO industry used to know about marketing their clients on the Internet.

Despite all the technology and coding behind this, what Google is doing makes sense to me. Google’s bottom line mission is to generate the best search results possible to retain and increase their global audience. That, in turn, sustains and increases its Adwords revenues. Simple as that. As the Internet matures, it will continue to take advantage of whatever tools out there to accomplish this. Thus, we are seeing a logical alignment of site load speed, the quality of a site's content, what others are saying about you online, and how consistent backlinks and citations are as all major factors for Internet local marketing in 2015.

Content Will Always Remain Supreme...

Local marketing of a business website used to be a matter of paying attention to details for content following what I keep calling it - logic. The original premise of search engine indexers was to “logically” run through a website picking up keywords and phrases then plugging those numbers into an algorithm that generated the best search results. In the not too distant past, SEO marketers simply had to be a bit creative in employing a number of varying techniques to get these words packed in anywhere they could without damaging the integrity of the actual read of the content. Of course, there has always been more detail to it than this but overall it was a matter of paying attention to the details and following SEO best practices.

However, content is now being looked at differently. It’s always been about content and it still is. Where search engine indexers started out being very rudimentary, over time they have improved to steadily take into account keyword “stuffing” and other means employed to get that first page first position everyone seeks. Google is finally doing a good job of weeding out sites that are simply at the top because somebody put the most effort into cramming content everywhere it can and employing other slightly to blatantly back-handed techniques to get them there.

I like to say that Google’s updates to its indexer over the last 8 months have advanced to the point of defying logic in the areas of being able to more decipher “naturally written” content. These updates also penalize many of the accepted former “white-hat” techniques all of us SEO marketers used to use to market our clients. Now, instead of trying to pack a long list of desired keyword phrase content into a limited amount of webpages, it is looking for a pattern of continual pertinent subject matter content spread out naturally throughout a site.

I feel the only really effective recommended means to do this now is to implement a blog program and maintain it. With this blog program you'll want to pay attention to how it is crafted, or wordsmith’ d, by putting continual thought into keeping on subject using primary keyword phrases and geo-references "naturally" throughout the article. For example, talking about this subject of "local internet marketing" in conjunction with using a geo-reference in the article. An example would be:

“We recently performed a complete internet local marketing campaign for a HVAC company in Newport News. Something we found interesting about marketing this client was…”

Not only did I use a good example for this article, with this being a blog post we just helped our own indexing for "local marketing" and "Newport News" - one of the regional cities we service and want to index better in. The phrase and geo-reference reads naturally and is not repeated excessively or "forced".

What Others Say About You...

With the solidification of social media and customer review sites within the fabric of the web, it makes common sense that Google would also index what is being said by the public about a company’s products and services as part of its ranking criteria. Why not tap into this information to generate the most reputable businesses at the top of a search return based on positive or negative reviews? At this moment, it is not a large factor in ranking, however there is too much talk about it becoming so. As more people use the Internet to express their level of satisfaction with a company's product or service, I can guarantee that this will become critical probably within weeks or months of this post.

Review sites are also within the realm of generating backlinks or "citation" links back to your business website. In the big picture, it is critical to have a very consistent name, address and phone (NAP) format to better identify your particular business to increase what is known as your domain authority. The extreme consistency of this format solidifies your particular business as unique in Google's eyes and not to be confused with any other similar business type or name as yours that may be out there. The more of these consistent citations linking back to you the better. Domain authority criteria is also becoming a larger Google ranking factor.

Adapting To The Changes

So, quite frankly, it seems Google is now encouraging - more like forcing - the Internet to work for its reward. In the past we could post a website with some basics of detail and best practices employed and expect a reasonably effective result in traffic to the site. Now, it takes that foundation - which still applies strongly - and forces pro-activity in generating reviews and adding continual quality content to the site. This, in conjunction with a creative and consistent social media presence.

Businesses that take the time and/or expense to adapt to and follow these new guidelines will be rewarded. Those that don’t, I'm afraid will be left behind.

Hashtag – You’re it!

why hashtag mark your content
why hashtag mark your content

What’s the Deal with #hashtags?

Why do people and businesses load up their posts with these random words, phrases, acronyms, and so on? Well, it all started a long time ago…Back before Google and Bing became the genius search monsters that they now are. Before hashtagging was, well…a thing. Tags were used not only to categorize websites and content, but as a sort of SEO (search engine optimization) boost. The tags on a site would help it rank higher in search engine results. Think of tags along similar lines of search keywords. The search engines would crawl the tags on sites to determine the relevance to the search query. These days, search engines crawl all of the text on (and in) a site, which has made these tags and categories a lot less important to SEO.

Wikipedia[1] tells us that what we now refer to as the hashtag first appeared on Internet Relay Chat (IRC) which was created back in 1988. It was an internet chat system where users would chat through specific channels (topics) which where notated by the pound sign, immediately followed by the topic. For example, to join a group of people chatting about football, the user would type /join #football into their IRC platform.

[1] Internet Relay Chat - Wikipedia

Why Did Hashtags Become a Must-have for Social Media Success?

I’m glad you asked! As using tags for SEO became less and less impactful, they actually became a very useful way to optimize social media posts and blogs. Tags became a way for a user to search a specific topic or category within a website or social media platform. The first modern-day application of the hashtag appeared on Twitter in 2007. User Chris Messina tweeted the following, not knowing that he would kick off an international standard practice for nearly all social media platforms:

“how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?”
—Chris Messina, (@factoryjoe), August 23, 2007

It caught on, big time. Twitter took nearly two years to respond by turning #hashtags into clickable links that users could follow in order to see posts made under the same hashtag by any public user. It didn’t take long for other platforms like Facebook and Google+ to pick up on the trend.

How Does this Affect You and Your Business?

First, it provides a great way to group and organize your content. This not only helps for your own reference, but it helps fans find older content that might be relevant to a particular issue they’re experiencing. Next, it’s a brilliant way to find new readers and reach an audience that you otherwise may never have been able to tap into. Not everybody may follow you, but if you diversify your content and your hashtags to match, you stand a great chance of reaching tons of niche audience members that could potentially follow you, or even become a client or customer.

In Hampton, we deal with a lot of small business. Hashtags have proven to be a great way to not only reach the entire Hampton Roads region, but a way to expand our reach to audiences across Virginia, the east coast, and the entire United States! They’re especially helpful for niche businesses that could use some healthy interaction from people who are truly interested in said niche.

So get out there, pay attention to trending hashtags, and do it! BUT…Don’t overdo it. Loading up your post with more hashtags than content is a quick way to make people lose interest or chalk you up as a spammer. Stick with a couple/few relevant and popular hashtags. Let us know how it works for you!

Facebook Changed Social Media For Businesses

facebook business organic reach marketing
facebook business organic reach marketing

Where does the future of social media take us?  It’s virtually impossible to say.  Facebook changed social media for businesses. One thing we know for sure though, is that you have to keep up with the ever-changing world of social media.  Many business owners are noticing that their organic (unpaid) reach has seriously been declining on Facebook pages.

If you're one of these business owners, you are not alone.  It’s not necessarily because you don’t have amazing content.  Back in April of 2012, pages were reaching about 16% of their fans on average. That number has reportedly slid into the low-single digits.

For big companies that have the budgets to buy paid ads and boosted posts, this reduction may be a good thing.  It weeds out many of their smaller competitors that had depended on the free reach previously enjoyed by page managers.  So what does this mean for small businesses that have put a lot of time, effort, and money into building a strong presence on Facebook?  Well, it means that it’s time to get creative!

Content Has Always Been and Will Always Be King

Your posts aren't showing up in as many timelines as they used to, but if you want good interaction and sharing from the small chunk of people that will see your posts, you still need to post good stuff! Also, even though you may not be getting the same amount of likes and interaction that you used to enjoy, people still want to see activity when vetting a company...These days, online research is a large (if not the largest) part of that vetting process.

Expand Your Social Media Horizons

-Are you on Twitter? Don’t let this platform become a ghost town with nothing more than an automatic feed and a stretched out, pixelated cover photo.  If you are active on Twitter and have a nice looking profile, it is pretty easy to draw engagement!  What good does that do?  Well, remember…Social media management isn't always about hard conversions (especially not right at first).  It’s less about advertising than it is about branding and trust-building.  Think about it…People follow you because you post useful/interesting/funny/unique stuff.  They might not need your product or service now…But they’re much more likely to come to you over your competitor when they do need it!  An active, engaging, useful online presence tends to add legitimacy, personality, and trust to a company.  People often prefer to do business with other people, not with faceless entities.  People want to relate.  Social media is a great way to give your brand a personality...The type of personality that people want to do business with!

-Are you on Google +?  This is one that you really don’t want to overlook.  Google Plus for Business is now completely streamlined with Google Places, YouTube, and Reviews.  From the new dashboard, you can see your insights and what kind of activity your page sees.  Even posting as little as once a week will have a tremendous impact.  When anybody Googles your business, as long as your business is verified and you've got your Google + Business page all set, your Google listing will show your location on a map, reviews, and a feed of your latest posts.  It seems as though there is less commenting/interaction on Google + than some other platforms (for now), but the number of views per month is through the roof!

Record and Analyze

Not too long ago, Facebook was pretty much the standard metric for how your social media program was faring.  This has very quickly become false.  It will get worse too…Many experts speculate that Facebook will decrease organic reach of pages to 0% over time.  This means that if you don’t pay to show up in peoples’ timelines, you simply won’t show up in them at all.  This may seem alarming, but don’t worry.  We still feel that it’s good to have a solid presence on Facebook, but do not worry when you see your insights slipping.  This will happen no matter how great your posts are (to varying degrees).  When analyzing the success of your social media program, look to other platforms; don’t rely on Facebook.  Twitter and Google + both provide insights and may provide a much more realistic view of your social media impact.

So basically what we're getting at is...Carry on!  Post the best content you can come up with no matter what platforms you use.  Branch out to other big platforms and have an awesome presence there.  Don’t let your Facebook turn into a ghost town, but also don’t get scared when you see your reach and interactions falling.  Facebook is not the be-all, end-all of social media.  Just like years back when MySpace fizzled out and led way to the growth of Facebook, another platform will take its place.  This may happen more slowly because although brands get the shaft with the new Facebook algorithm, individuals still interact with other individuals well on Facebook.  No platform can reign forever though.  You'll get through this!