If you own a business that sells goods or services to people within your geographic area, it is critical that you are found in online through ‘local’ search. With the rapid growth of mobile device usage, search engines results nowadays take local search signals as a major factor in ranking their search results. Anyone who searches services like ‘barbershop’ on their mobile device while in Sydney will have very different results from someone searching the same service while in London.  With increasing usage of location-based apps and devices, the strength of local search will only increase in the upcoming years.

The importance of being found in local search cannot be understated. While it is important to own a traditional phonebook listing, there is no doubt that a simple online listing can have a greater impact in the potential leads or service inquiries.

Tip #1 Claim Your Listings

The easiest and yet most important step is to own digital spaces. Go online and create social media accounts. It will not only allow you to improve your online visibility but also allow you to protect your brand and reputation.

Here are the top listings that will help your local business:

  • Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn
  • Social + Image Sites like Pinterest and Instagram
  • Review Sites like Yelp or similar

The type of social media or listing that you join should be matched with your goal and industry. For instance a woman’s salon shop can have an instagram or pinterest account, while a bank would avoid having one. A bank would have a Linkedin and Googleplus account instead. There are some social media channels that may be more appropriate for some businesses more than others.

Tip #2 Brand Consistency

Be consistent with the following info on all your listings:

  • Business Name
  • Title
  • Address and Phone number
  • Category
  • Business Hours

Your business name and title is one of the most important items you need to keep consistent. Having it consistent will allow search engines to properly index your business in search and geographic search.

For instance, if your business is called “Lou’s Mart’ in listing and ‘Lou’s  Grocery’ in another, there is a chance that search engine’s will see this a 2 separate entities. You should choose one business name and title and stick to it for all business listings – even offline listings like yellow pages.

It is important that you are descriptive with your business title. Use specific categories/descriptors for your listings. If you own a car repair shop, make sure to include it in the business title – like Adam’s Car Repair Shop. A descriptive title will rank better than if you name it a simply ‘Adam’s’.

While it is important to be descriptive about your business title, you should avoid using titles with marketing descriptions like – best or #1. This is not acceptable in Google guidelines as it is not relevant in local search.

Read the Google Quality Guidelines for Local Businesses  on business info below:

  • Your title should reflect your business’s real-world title.
  • In addition to your business’s real-world title, you may include a single descriptor that helps customers locate your business or understand what your business offers.
  • Marketing taglines, phone numbers, store codes, or URLs are not valid descriptors.
  • Examples of acceptable titles with descriptors (in italics for demonstration purposes) are “Starbucks Downtown” or “Joe’s Pizza Restaurant”. Examples that would not be accepted would be “#1 Seattle Plumbing”, “Joe’s Pizza Best Delivery” or “Joe’s Pizza Restaurant Dallas”.

Tip#3 Clean-up any Duplicate Online Listings

Before you start making any new listings, make sure to claim existing listings of your company. Instead of creating new ones, update these accounts to be consistent with your branding and organisation’s information. This will not only give you the benefit of saving time and effort in creating a new listing, but it will also help search engine’s index and display your information faster as well.

facebook verified business logo

Tip#4 Verify your listings

It is very easy to create a fictional local business online. In order to improve your search ranking, do not just create or update your business listings, make it an ‘official page’ by verification. This will not only give your local business credibility with search engines but to your customers as well.

Verifying your Business with Facebook:

  1. Click Settings at the top of your Page
  2. From General, click Page Verification
  3. Click Verify this Page, then click Get Started
  4. Enter a publicly listed phone number for your business, your country and language
  5. Click Call Me Now to allow Facebook to call you with a verification code
  6. Enter the 4-digit verification code and click Continue

Verify your local business with Google:

  1. Go to https://plus.google.com/dashboard and click Manage this pageon the page you’d like to verify.
  2. Click Verify your business beneath your address.
  3. Check that the contact information is correct. You can also address the postcard to a specific person by adding a name to the Optional contact name field.

More info on Google Verification: https://support.google.com/business/answer/2911778?hl=en

The Next Step: Engagement

Do not let your geographic location limit your online engagement and growth.

Once you have created your business listings, take it a step further by regularly posting relevant, entertaining or informational content for your customers. While having a simple listing is enough to help promote your local business, regularly updating your pages/listings with content will help you build brand awareness and possibly increase your customer base.  A simple post can tell people that you are active and, it will open up venues for them to engage with your local business.

Your company website is more than just an online version of a company paper brochure. Its design and performance can be seen as a measure of your company’s values, efficiency  and services. A poorly-designed website will affect not only your reputation but can also affect your sales and revenue in the long run. One can say that your customers will judge your site as a reflection of how your business operates.

With the the popularity mobile devices and the exponential growth of online shopping, a fully-functioning optimised website is no longer just an option but a requirement. If you want to generate quality traffic  and to build customer loyalty for your site, avoid the 3 web design mistakes below:

Slow Loading Websites

slow-loading-websites

Users nowadays are generally impatient. A report showed that at least 25% of users ‘bounce’ or exit a site without doing anything if its pages load time exceeds 4 seconds. This lost audience can easily be translated as lost revenue. This is most evident in large ecommerce stores like Amazon where each second can be translated as billions of dollar in loss.  

Check the speed of your homepage and other most visited pages of your site. Any page that loads longer than 3 seconds need to optimised. Use tools like Google PageSpeed to find insights to speed up your website. Consider minimizing image sizes and making codes cleaner. You can also consider asking your host provider different solutions that they may have to improve your site’s load speed.  

 

Poor Mobile Site Experience

Poor Mobile Site Experiences

Nowadays, mobile devices are seemingly extensions of the people’s lives. Whether at work or in everyday lives, people have it with  all the time and everywhere. It is always within an arm’s length away from a person. Google recognized this behavior and updated its algorithm to award mobile-optimised sites with better search rankings in order to incentivize companies to make their sites mobile friendly.

Audit your site by browsing it with different mobile devices. Do different tasks like navigating to different pages, downloading items and signing up for newsletters. Take note of sections that made you pause or areas that did not function properly.

Check your site with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. This tool will show you how your site is displayed on different mobile browser sizes and orientations. It will also provide insight on areas of the mobile experience you can improve on.

 

No In-site Search Functionality

Website with no Search bar

Make it a point to provide easy access to your pages. People need information, and they need it quickly. What better way than providing them with an in-site search bar that allows them to input and browse your site’s page quickly. This is particularly important if you own a site that showcases thousands of different products.

Search functionality helps increase your site’s conversion. The data you will get from these searches will also help provide insight on items or pages that are important for them.

Have a search bar installed above the fold of each page of your website. Making sure this functionality is visible will directly affect both your bounce rate and conversion rate.

Summary

Website design can be quite difficult, but it can be beneficial if you know what to prioritize. Keep page load time fast, design for mobile and have a search function for your site. These basic items will keep your site competitive in the digital space.

As a business owner, one should see as Twitter is more than a simple social media platform or distribution channel. A Feb 2016 report shows that there are 320 million people that use Twitter. Of this 320 million, 100 million actively use Twitter everyday. This phenomenal number not only demonstrates it as a powerful tool for communication but also as one of the forefronts of social media. In short, given the number of people on Twitter, small business owners can benefit by creating and communicating through it.

While Twitter has the exposure numbers, as with any tool, it only works if you use it the right way.
Originally, created for people to tweet 140 character updates on their phones, it became a tool where people shared what they were doing at the moment or what they ate. It became where society shared their mundane moments.

Fortunately, with its usage in maturity, Twitter has become a powerful platform to share news, voice opinions and grow ideas. It has been useful enough to report world events and shape society. In fact, a just simple tweet between two people was instrumental in creating the successful company called UBER.

Twitter and Engagement 

The image below shows how Twitter can be used for Digital Marketing:

twitter-engagement

 

Twitter Content Tactics

Below are some tips that can help guide you with Twitter Content:

 

Give Things for Free
People are happy to receive free things and will not hesitate to share where they got something of value to others. Give out good advice, free videos, free e-books and webinars. If you can give free products via contests, go ahead and do so. Share value to your followers and there is a higher chance that valuable exposure will go back to you and your site.

 

Use Photos / Images in Tweets

Lyrics from an old song say that “A picture paints a thousand words’. Apparently, this works on twitter as well. According to a various studies, Tweets with images get 2x engagement versus normal text tweets.

Stay away from using stock imagery. As with any social media, people are looking for something new, unique and interesting. Stock images are the complete opposite of that.

Create your own images, infographics and use your own photographs. Your users will know the difference.

 

Share Interesting Links
Entertain and educate your followers. Share interesting facts and infographics. Create stories that engage users. Data from a report notes that sharing links helps increase retweets of your posts.

Your tweets do not have to be all about your company. Remember that Twitter is like a conversation. As a rule of thumb, as with in any conversation, do not let it be one-sided or purely self-serving. As much as possible avoid tweeting only about yourself or your company all the time. Mix it up with interesting topics that will interest your target market.

Yes, you can tweet links about your company, but try to keep it at a minimum or at a good mix. This will help build your credibility and avoid losing followers.

 

Less Words has More Impact
According to studies, less is more when it comes to character count in Twitter. Tweets under 100 characters have greater engagement rates. While this also depends on the message that you are communicating, it can be beneficial to note that people scan tweets quickly.

For instance, if you have a long topic to discuss, make a series of tweets instead. As the data suggests, keeping it short and simple as much as possible is beneficial in the long run.

 

Use Hashtags
Hashtags are powerful because they allow users who are engaged to a certain topic access to similar twitter posts. Data from a study on them suggests that there is higher interaction if hashtags are used in a tweet. However, the study also points out that limiting their use to 1-2 hashtags is more beneficial for engagement. Likewise, using appropriate hashtags for topics will be more meaningful and helpful to followers.

 

Twitter and content
Twitter is a powerful platform that can easily distribute your brand and your message. While success in digital or social media marketing takes time, there is always the possibility overnight fame as well as instant failure.

No matter what communication platform you use, what you ‘say’ is what matters. At the end of the day, it is important to create, post and retweet quality content.
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Sources:

http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/march-2013-by-the-numbers-a-few-amazing-twitter-stats/
https://blog.bufferapp.com/10-new-twitter-stats-twitter-statistics-to-help-you-reach-your-followers
http://www.linchpinseo.com/infographic-twitter-tweet-cheat-sheet
http://www.businessinsider.com/how-a-tweet-turned-ryan-graves-into-a-billionaire-2015-3