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Online Marketing for Local Contractors in a New Economy

What is best way to market your business in this changing economy? Local business marketing used to be fairly simple. In times past you could place an ad in the yellow pages and you were all set. You’ve probably noticed that the Yellow Pages aren’t as successful as they use to be. Now, people just type their local search parameters into Google or other search engines to quickly and easily find local businesses. More and more consumers each year are turning to the Internet to research local companies and services, before they buy. Search engine marketing is the key to harnessing the profit power of your local customer base; traditional Yellow Page advertising is expensive and doesn’t drive customers to your website that provides 24×7 information.

A number of businesses are devoting their marketing dollars to search marketing. If you search for industry keywords, i.e., “leak detection in my town”, you most likely find that the industry leaders in your market are marketing online. This is because search engine marketing is the single most effective way to drive local traffic to your business website and get phone call leads. If you’re not marketing online, you are leaving sales on the table.

The goal with any search marketing program is to get your website to the top of the search results based on keywords of your business and your competitors. When your website dominates Google search results, you can be assured that you are driving the optimal leads to your business’ website. There are four main types of search marketing tactics: natural search optimization, paid clicks or pay-per-click (PPC), local directories, and map marketing. Each of these unique tactics offers different advantages; it is when they are strategically blended together into a search marketing plan they yield the best results.

A comprehensive marketing strategy that includes all of these elements gives your website significant advantage over your competitors. The end goal is to have multiple listings on the first page of Google, which is when you know you are properly optimized. This ensures that customers seeking the products and services you offer find you first. The more times you appear on the first page of search results, the better chance you have of getting the customers you desire.

Natural Search Optimization
Consumers use natural search, also known as organic search, on platforms such as Google to research products, services, and companies before they buy. Of course, if your website doesn’t appear on the first page of results, your chances of increasing sales diminishes significantly. Google isn’t the only search engine that consumers use; MSN, Yahoo!, Bing, and are important to note as well.
Search engines use automated software called crawlers to comb the billions of websites on the Internet and bring back the most relevant results for a certain query. These crawlers use algorithms that determine the relevance of these websites and their corresponding ranks on the search engine results page. It is because of these crawlers that business websites need to be optimized using various on-page and off-page SEO techniques including the use of relevant keywords and optimizing website content. Increasing the number of off-page links to your website is also very effective.

Paid Search (Pay-Per-Click)
More commonly known as pay-per-click advertising, paid searches are the fastest way to make your business visible to your target market. Unlike a local search and a natural search, though, paid search requires an initial investment, albeit smaller than the investment you put in traditional advertising media, to pay for every time a person clicks on the link to your website. In a Google search, a paid search result appears in the form of an advertisement on the top right side of the natural search results, allowing your users to see you right away instead of having them rifle deep into the search results first.

Map Marketing with Google Places
A typical search query by a potential customer often looks like this: “Manhattan Italian cuisine restaurant.” In a Google search, the search engine displays a local map of the area and the top 10 listings for restaurants in Manhattan offering Italian cuisine.
Map marketing is achieved by creating an active Google Places listing that shows your location and relevant business information. When properly created, the listing includes targeted keywords that will help the listing to show for relevant local searches.

Local Directory Listings
Local directory listings are online directory services such as Yahoo, Superpages, Citysearch and Yelp. These listings show up in local organic searches for your company and are also utilized by smartphone companies when they are compiling their databases. Submitting a listing for your business is another great way to drive local traffic to your website from desktop and smartphone searchers that are looking for your services.

To succeed in business today, you must have a comprehensive search engine optimization marketing plan. When you are ready to expand your customer base, grow your business, and experience greater revenues, it is time to implement an online marketing plan that incorporates local search, map marketing, pay-per-click, and organic search to draw potential customers from your service area.

Push Local specializes in online marketing for small businesses including Servpro Franchises.  Our services include search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, map marketing, and local directory submissions.  Some of the organic terms we go after for Servpro franchises include: Carlsbad mold, San Marcos mold, San Marcos water damage, Vista water damage, Carlsbad smoke damage, and Carlsbad water damage.  Push Local has shown continued success marketing for Servpro franchises with a number of clients currently ranking number one for their targeted organic search terms.  

Advertising Online: 6 Rules For Compelling Text Ads

Search engine advertising campaigns need the same amount of design, strategy and consideration as traditional offline advertising mediums.  The message, the placement and the offer all need to be thoroughly vetted and tested to ensure success.  Copywriting is a skill and an art; and because of the limited amount of text allowed in most online search advertising campaigns, being succinct is vital.  The goal with these types of campaigns is to include popular keywords and keyword phrases that will bring you to the top of page rankings. Below is a list of 6 rules to help you create effective online advertising campaigns.

Rule #1:  Obey The Rules

All search engines have slightly different requirements, guidelines and rules for their text advertisements for word count and format.  Once you write a compelling ad, understand that you will have to tweak it for each of the major search engines that you intend to advertise on. Here is the general rule of thumb that with minimal tweaking will work across most advertising platforms:

Headline:            25 Characters Maximum

Display URL:       35 Characters Maximum

1st Line:                34 Characters Maximum

2nd Line:               35 Characters Maximum


Rule #2:  Make URL And Landing Page Coincide

Make sure that the URL you choose to display in the advertisement coincides with the message on the landing page.  If this is not the case, the search engine genies may disqualify the ad based on their rules and requirements.

Rule #3:  Use Relevant Keywords

SEO tactics fail if relevant keywords and phrases are not used.  Determine the keywords that represent your business and offerings and include those in the Headline and 1st line of text.  Remember, these keywords, for the best results, should also be reflected on your landing page.  Google AdWords Keyword tool and others can help you determine the most effective keywords for your website.  The relevance of your keywords can influence your cost-per-click, clickthrough rate, and your overall quality score.

Rule #4:  Use Proper Punctuation, Spelling And Capitalization

Proofread every word and letter of your advertisements.  Punctuation, spelling and grammatical errors send the wrong message to your potential customer base.  Take the time to review and make sure that the format, spelling and punctuation make your advertisement easy to read.    Making an advertisement easy to read and comprehend at first glance means to avoid abbreviations that are not universally recognized.  Title case is the recommended format as all caps in the text ads can cause your ad to fail the guidelines.

Rule #5:  Leave Your Business Name Out

The amount of text that is allowed in search advertising does not allow for your business name to be included.  When a customer clicks on your website however, they will see the name of your business.  It is more important to get them to your site based on the offer and keywords than it is for them to recognize the business as yours from the advertisement.

Rule #6:  Avoid Legal Battles

One of the consistent rules across all search engines for their advertising, is that unless you own the trademark for a particular product, you may not use it in your text advertising.  Instead of using name brands that are trademarked in your text ads, use a more generic phrase.  For example if you a brand name perfume, the keyword could be “luxury perfume”.  Then, you would bid on the trademarked name as one of your keywords.

Creating compelling text search ads is not rocket science, but it does take a deft hand.  Test the effectiveness of different keywords and phrases across the search engines to determine which advertisements are giving you the best ROI.  Take the time to analyze what is working, and what is not working and adapt the text as your offers and products change.

Measuring ROI For Online Campaigns

ROI or Return On Investment is one of the most fundamental measurements in business.  Businesses of all sizes, in all industries analyze how their investments are influencing their bottom line.  The costs associated with advertising and marketing is one of the areas in which ROI is extremely important.  It is vital to understand what is working, or not working, to help shape new strategies moving forward.  Measuring ROI for your online marketing and advertising campaigns can help you determine the effectiveness of your message, keywords, placement, and if you are reaching your target audience.  Follow the steps below to help ensure that your online marketing campaigns are providing the return on investment you desire.

Step #1:  Set Goals

Setting goals is the first step towards measuring the effectiveness of your online campaigns.  What results are you hoping for?  An increase in visitors to your website by 50%?  An increase of 30% in sales?  Increase brand/business awareness?  It is important to determine and your goals and remember to make them within reach.

Step #2:  Choose Marketing Tactics

Once you have the goals of your marketing campaigns, it is time to consider what tactics you are going to employ to reach your goals.  Your marketing message, brand promise, special offers and unique sales proposition must take into account your ideal customer base.  Marketing messages that are targeted to a special niche are more effective than a generic message.

Step #3:  Determine How You Will Measure Results

There are a number of ways to determine the ROI from various marketing campaigns.  It is wise to test a variety of messages and special offerings through an array of channels.  Technological advancements have made it much easier to determine the effectiveness of campaigns.

Custom URLs:  Create custom URLs for each campaign you are measuring.  This allows you to track the number of visitors to your site drawn by a specific marketing tactic.  This can be used for display ads, pay-per-click advertising, marketing in social media, and direct response email advertising.  The landing page needs to be representative of the advertisement and have calls to action that will change your visitors into buyers.

Custom Phone Numbers:  This will provide similar information to the custom URLs.  If the goal of your campaign is to turn over leads to your internal sales team, having a variety of different phone numbers in marketing collateral will help you track what is working, or not working.  If you advertise across a variety of platforms including traditional media as well as online marketing, you can choose to measure the effectiveness of the message, or the placement, or both.  You can have one phone number that is dedicated to a particular online message, or one that is dedicated to a particular message that is promoted across several platforms.  It all comes down to if you want to measure the effectiveness of the message, or the placement.

Use Available Analytical Tools:  Nearly all online advertising platforms including Facebook, YouTube, Google and Twitter have built in analytical tools to help you determine the effectiveness of your campaign. These are free or very reasonably priced however, there are also more comprehensive analytical tools available that help you track your ROI.

Talk To Your Customers:  Ask new and existing customers, directly, how they heard about you and found your website.  Ask them what in your advertisement spurred them into action.  Be specific with your questions and your customers will be specific with their answers.  Track these responses along with other measurements to help determine the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Step #4:  Adapt Or Stay The Course

Once you have all of the results in and they have been analyzed, it is time to evaluate how, or even if, you need to change your message, offer, or location of your advertisements.  It could be that your first try was a homerun; however, there is nearly always room for improvement.  The answer is to test/refine, test/refine.

The most effective marketing campaigns, regardless of placement, require the right message, with a compelling offer being delivered to a strong potential customer base.  The four steps above will help you determine your ROI for the campaigns and allow you to adjust, tweak and adapt them to raise your revenue.

Push Local specializes in online marketing for small businesses including Servpro Franchises.  Our services include search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, map marketing, and local directory submissions.  Some of the organic terms we go after for Servpro franchises include: Austin water damage, Hyde Park water damage, Austin fire damage, Austin smoke damage, and Austin mold.  Push Local has shown continued success marketing for Servpro franchises with a number of clients currently ranking number one for their targeted organic search terms.