Local internet marketing is becoming more complex by the day, which makes it hard for local businesses, and even marketers, to figure out the most effective way to spend their marketing dollars. I asked 7 experienced local Internet marketers for help, by asking them one question:
"If you are given a budget of $900/month to market a local business, what would you do in the first month?"
Then, I added my recommendations, as well. Here's what they had to say.
Matt Siltala, President of Avalaunch Media
This one is easy, I would spend as much time as I could doing an audit.
I would have my main audit focus be in three areas:
1. Technical SEO,
2. NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) and
Once I have uncovered any issues in these three areas, it makes everything else we do going forward so much easier. $900 is not a huge budget so some of the funds may have to be spread across 2-3 months to make sure everything is done correctly.
In many cases, I have done technical audits on local sites that have lasted 30+ hours (so you can see a $900 budget for a GOOD person that knows what they are doing is not going to last long).
Making sure everything is technically sound with the website, then making sure there are not issues with the NAP and finally seeing what work has been done with citation building is exactly where I would be focusing all my energies the first several months. The thing that is nice about doing these audits on a limited budget is you are not spending any money on external things.
The money you are spending is on the time it takes you to do the work, so again this is why I would start with an audit.
Phil Rozek, Local Search Consigliere at Local Visibility System
Start with the site. Build pages for each specific service, and some FAQ pages. Also build a page for each member of the team. Most sites are anorexic. Make yours weighty and informative. See: 21 Pages a "Small Local Business" Site Needs for Tip-Top Local Visibility.
Then work relentlessly on the citations, starting with the big ones and "upstream" data-providers, like ExpressUpdate, LocalEze, CitySearch, YP and Yelp. Sweat the categories you choose for these listings. Use GetListed.org and Whitespark's Local Citation Finder to patrol for the other sites that need your attention.
Make sure your Google+ Local page isn't breaking any rules, and that you've picked out relevant categories for it. Not a lot of moving parts here, so move on.
Then it's time to ask customers for reviews on Google+ and on a couple of other sites (preferably on at least one that's industry-specific). Asking 2-5/week is a good rule of thumb. Do not stop asking. Ever.
Matthew Hunt, COO of Powered By Search
If I was given $900 a month to market a local business, here's what I'd do in the first month:
I'd invest it into 3 things:
- Content and
- Google Places
I'd create a small PPC campaign on only 4-6 of the most obvious commercial-intent-based keyword searches and make sure I am only bidding on exact match keywords so I can keep my budget super low.
I'd then create a content creation plan around local longtail content and publish as much relevant and useful content as possible. I'd also focus on claiming my Google Places listing and build citations and ask everyone I know to review me to make sure I have at least five golden stars next to my local listing.
In my opinion, $900/month is not going to get any business very far with online marketing.
One would need to put in a lot of sweat equity to keep it afloat.
Melih Oztalay, CEO of SmartFinds Internet Marketing
- Setup your company social profiles on Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Update the business website with the social communities.
- Pin-Code verify your local business listings at the top 10 major websites and search engines.
- Get a syndication service like UBL.org or Localeze to syndicate your business information across other business directories. I would not recommend using Yext.
- The bulk of your $900 budget at about $10-20/day would go to Google Adwords Express for hyperlocal advertising.
Chris "Silver" Smith, President of Argent Media
I would spend some time setting up the company's website, or adjusting it to insure that it is optimized, and set up a blog for them, if they weren't already blogging. Then, I would submit their listing information to Universal Business Listing, selecting at least their Professional Package for distribution in order to insure their presence in local search engines and online directories. (Disclosure: I'm on the board of advisors for UBL, but I would not use and recommend their product if I did not find it to be effective and very competitively priced.) Then, I would also submit their information to KnowEm in order to effectively claim their brand name username on multiple social media sites (KnowEm's distribution can also be good for obtaining a basic level of inlinks.) Finally, I would spend some time developing out their Twitter and Facebook profiles effectively, to increase their influence and authority through good social media optimizations. Depending on the type of company, the location and competition, I might also evaluate them for pay-per-click advertising and begin setting them up for that as well.
Adam Dorfman, SVP - Product & Technology at SIM Partners
Historically, I would recommend finding a domain that you could build your website around and then learning WordPress and building a basic website for yourself. These days, however, social media has become so powerful it makes more sense to start there.
- Create a Google+ Local profile for your business, fill it out with quality content and information about your business and start inviting friends and family members to it. Ask them to share with their friends.
- Repeat on Facebook.
- Repeat on Foursquare.
- Repeat on Yelp.
- Repeat on sites that are important in your line of work. (TripAdvisor for hotels, Angie's List for Service Area Businesses, etc)
- Distribute your business listing information to the primary data aggregators: Localeze, InfoUSA, Acxiom & Factual in order to populate your business data as far as possible.
Only after you have done this does spending the time and money to create a website make sense. The good news is that all of these things should leave you with a decent amount of money left over for those unexpected new business expenses that are going to arise.
Vedran Tomic, Co-Founder Local Ants LLC
Provided that my budget wouldn't get cut for months, I would start with defining the business objectives of the website/Internet marketing.
I would do so by asking myself the following:
- What does my site have to do to be successful?
- How many customers, leads, email subscriptions etc. does it have to bring?
- What's the maximum my business can pay to acquire a customer or a lead online?
After this, I would try to find out the current situation when it comes to the metrics above (cost of customer acquisition etc.).
This is the time when I would do a NAP audit and a technical SEO audit. If there was any time/budget left, I would work on developing a campaign that would accomplish the business goals of the site.
Not surprisingly, most if not all respondents would tackle any NAP inconsistencies and take care of data aggregators. What's somewhat surprising is that a significant portion of respondents see social media as an area that needs to be tackled right away.
Starting a paid search campaign was another prevalent recommendation. Judging by these responses, achieving local Internet marketing success is getting more complex and is quickly going out of scope for most local businesses - both in terms of time and skill needed to make a significant impact.