On a recent TV interview I was asked what I thought the biggest mistakes business owners make with respect to marketing their business on the Internet. And even though my answer was accurate, it was far from comprehensive. So, after giving the question some thought, I decided to answer it more fully here.
To start, there are dozens of ways you as a local business owner can market your products and services over the Internet. And when I use the term “market” I’m writing about free ways to promote your products and services, not paid advertising.
Along those same lines, I want to address the question more specifically. “What are the biggest mistakes business owners make when marketing their business on-line via Local Search Marketing … i.e. Google Maps.”
To start, if you call on local customers and you’re not implementing Local Search Marketing techniques including Google Maps, Bing Local and Yahoo Local you’re missing out on the most effective form of Internet Marketing available to your business. In my humble opinion, there are very few local businesses, if any, who will find a better return on their investment, especially since this form of Internet Marketing is free and it generates a ton of new customers. That being said, let me get back to answering the question.
Not Searching For Your Business Like Your Customers Do
Unless you have fantastic brand recognition, customers will not search for your business using your business name. They will search for the products and services you offer and they will do it on their computers, on their smart phones and on their GPS devices in their cars and trucks.
So, if a searcher or potential buyer is looking for someone to replace the brakes on their car, they’re going to search using terms like, Auto Mechanic, Brake Repair, Brake Service or Car Repair.
Take a moment right now and do a search for the products and services you offer. Better yet, do that search on your computer using Google, Yahoo, Bing and Yellowpages.com (keeping in mind that these are only a handful of all of the potential places where your customers are looking for the products and services you offer.)
Then do the same search from your iPhone, iPod, iPad and any other mobile device you can get your hands on, and then do the same search from the GPS device in your car or truck.
OK. Now you have an idea of what your customers are seeing … and just as importantly, what they’re not seeing.
Not Claiming Your Google Place Page
Current estimates show that 12% of Local Business owners have claimed their business listing on Google. It’s the first, and one of the most important steps to “World Domination” or at least market domination in your community. You can find and claim your business by going to Google.com/local, searching for your business name and address, clicking on the “more info” next to your business name, seeing if your business has been claimed yet and then setting up a Google Account and claiming your business.
When you go to your Place Page, you will see one of two pieces of text on the top right hand side of your place page. It will either read …
Indicating that the business has not been claimed by the business owner or someone working on behalf of the business owner.
Indicating that the business has been claimed by the business owner.
You can quickly eliminate the second biggest mistake by finding and claiming your business on Google.
Not Fully Optimizing Your Google Place Page
Claiming your business is one thing, (and it’s a very important thing to do) but optimizing your business listing will bring your business to an entirely different level of success. When we offered this service we changed $1,000 to optimize a Google Business listing and it was worth every penny.
Most business owners never take a second look at the information they provide in their place page. And, because of that, there is a very good chance they will be either removed from the map section completely (because they unknowingly broke one of Google’s rules) or they will now show up in the map where potential customers are looking (because they have not done their local keyword research.) Let me give you a few examples of where things can go wrong if you don’t pay attention.
If you don’t provide your legal business name exactly as it appears in the outside world, Google can and will remove your listing from their maps section. I’ve seen this happen multiple times and it’s very difficult to back on the map once you’re business is removed.
We never, and I mean never provide an address without checking with the USPS first. Get this wrong … even slightly wrong and your listing will not show up in the right location. I can not tell you how many times business owners provide the wrong (non-USPS approved) address in their business listing because they’ve never checked with the USPS. It’s shocking.
This alone will keep you from showing up in the map results if you don’t have the “right” telephone number. Follow the rules and make absolutely sure that you’re providing a Google authorized telephone number.
This is way to comprehensive to cover in this article. But in short, if your website is not localized, you’re screwed. Google is now paying very close attention to your website. Among other things, they are looking to see if your site has …
- Your business name, address and telephone number on every page.
- A map with written directions to your business on your site.
- A geo meta tag in your HTML header.
- Optimized, geo-tagged, photos on your site.
- A quick loading home page.
- A domain name owned by the business and not the business owner
- Your website hosted on a server in your country.
- A site that is optimized for mobile devices.
- Dozen other critical components that I don’t have time to cover in this article.
Problem is, most business owners just type in their web address (without the http://) and without giving any thought to localizing their website.
This is the primary way Google knows what your business is about. Again, most business owners either select one “Google suggested” category or they choose the maximum of five “Google suggested” categories. This is a huge mistake. We spend more time on this one aspect of optimizing a local business listing than we do anything else, and we rarely select more than one “Google suggested” category, and you shouldn’t either. You can learn more about selecting the best categories for your business listing here.
Photos / Videos / Description Text / Additional Details
- Did you geo tag your photos?
- Did you optimize your photos by adding a caption, renaming it with your keywords and adding a full citation in the description before linking it to Google?
- Did you re-size your primary photo to the proper dimension and link to it from a static server?
I could ask you similar questions concerning your video, description text, hours of operation and additional details. As you can see, there is much more to filling out your Google Place page than meets the eye.
So, in order to avoid the third biggest mistake, take the time to fully optimize your Google Place Page listing and fill it out completely.
Assuming That Once You Fully Optimized Your Google Place Page And Your Business Listing Shows Up On Page One Of Google Maps … Your Done.
If you’ve fully optimized your Google Place page listing following the guidelines I provided above, and your business listing is showing up on page one of Google Maps for your primary local keywords, you’ve completed about 7% of the work necessary to dominate your local market. It won’t be long before your competitors figure out how valuable this space is and start to do the same thing. If you want to use your business listing to generate new customers, you must be willing to take the time to do your listing right and promote it all over the Internet … not just on Google.
There are hundreds of websites and Internet services where your customers look for your business. Your listing needs to be prominent and have a stellar reputation on every one of those site. Google is just your starting point.
Now that you’ve done the initial work, get to work on the remaining 93% that still needs to be done.
- Generate additional business citations.
- Clean up your inaccurate citations.
- Find the most valuable citation sites for your business in your community.
- Claim your business on multiple sites.
- Make sure the Yellow Pages isn’t hindering your efforts.
- Generate positive reviews.
- Get bad reviews removed.
- Claim and optimize your business listing on every site where your customers are looking for you and reviewing your service.
- Insure that your business website is fully optimized for local search.
- Build the value of your business website by creating valuable link bait.
- Monitor your results and continue to build your reputation.
Local search is free and it’s the most powerful form of Internet marketing for the vast majority of local businesses, but it takes effort. Do it right and you will be rewarded with new customers for a long time to come.
Local Search Marketing Boot Camp – April 9 On Maui
If you’re really interested in dominating your local market for the products and service you offer, consider joining us for an all day Local Search Marketing Boot Camp. It’s a lot of work and it’s a very long day, but you’ll be amazed at what you accomplish (with your business listing) after just one day.