(the following is a guest post from Charles Stankovitch)
Aloha everyone… First off I want to thank Dave for allowing me the opportunity to post on the coveted HuoMah Blog. When I met Dave back in the Threadwatch days, one of my first late night encounters with him was a patent reading lesson and a story about how water flows around rocks. But, we can save that conversation for another day.
This post was written because, I felt you could use a break from all of the clawing and hair pulling that search geeks normally subject each other to on a daily basis. While I am an apparel designer at heart, I'm also a mom and pop small business owner with a physical store and a website – in the trenches if you will.
Local marketing from a business owner’s perspective
One area that I really enjoy playing in, (with web marketing) is the Local stuff. As such, I have a bit of Local Marketing wisdom, that I would like to share. So, why don’t you hop into the trenches with me and I will give you a tour of Local SEO from a small business owner’s perspective, as well as comments on some things that could maybe even make you some money in the future.
People selling Local services need to be sensitive to that fact that Local marketing can be one of the most affordable and lucrative things they can engage in. Much of the on-line local listings are free, or for a very nominal cost, and many are permanent.
Then consider the Local customer, the place where we come to the fork in the road. While a lot of time and money is justifiably put into term and phrase research, it’s my personal opinion that just because a word gets searches doesn't mean that it converts that entirely well. Local searchers need to be treated differently because they already have a pre-conceived notion of what they want and where they want to get it from, with “where” being the key point of discussion.
Using our Escondido location as an example, when a user searches for “Hawaiian apparel Escondido” they already know what they want and they are willing to travel in or around the city limits of Escondido to get it. If you don’t have a Local listing in Google (or with those other guys), you have pretty much lost an opportunity to convert a very qualified customer.
But, let’s say you do have a listing and the user clicks it, what does that mean to you? Well it should mean a lot; at this very point you already have a customer that is thinking “I am considering buying something from you”. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have an informational, as well as professional looking Local listing. This customer has just poked his head in your door.
Treat your prospective customers viewing your listings just like you treat customers visiting your store. Greet them, bond with them, meet or exceed their expectations. Your Local listing is all about the user experience.
(the following is a guest post from Jeremy Rivera)
Locality is something that for generations has defined how effective a business can be, and has played into decisions by businesses and companies on where they place their brick and mortar locations. With the evolution of the internet, and the growing use of mobile devices, you might think off the cuff that this would decrease the importance of a business's actual location. However, location still plays a vital role even though we're entering an online age where customers could just as easily be from next door as in the next state.
Define your Location by finding your Niche
Each category of business has started to see more and more specialization, more and more websites that focus on a particular topic. This leads to more and more opportunity for the small business owner to get even more free advertising space as these niche verticals need community and business owner participation in order to become more successful. A couple of examples would be Urban Spoon, Menu Pages or Restaurants.com. These represent the new online branding through user feed-back that is becoming more and more important
When the web was young, back in the dark ages of dial-up and Mosaic, the big stat was "hits". Everyone had a counter on their home page, and everyone sold, or tried to sell, advertising based on the number of hits on their site. It was soon discovered that hits are a worthless metric. A hit is simply a request made of the server, so a page with 100 images on it generated at least 101 hits every time it was loaded. And the counters on most home pages could easily be padded by hitting the page refresh over and over.
Fortunately advertisers and webmasters learned quickly that when counting traffic there are only two numbers that matter, visitors and unique visitors. Both types are valuable for different reasons, and a website that can grow to a place where people want to return over and over again is less tied to the whims of the search engines.
To that list, we can add RSS news feed subscribers, newsletter subscribers, even the number of comments a simple blog post may get.
The problem with these benchmarks/metrics though is that none of them mean much when it comes time to pay the bills. You can have all the traffic, all the subscribers, even all the hard core fans you want, but if they don't convert in to sales, what's the point?
It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Google Personalized Publishing!
Have you ever purchased a magazine only to be frustrated that it only had a few articles of interest? Did you ever think you could make a better one? Well, fear not my faithful minions; Google is going to give you that chance. Thats right, your very own publication. You can choose the topics, choose all the content and even pick which advertisements (or none at all) that are in your on-demand point-of-sale printed personalized publication. Thats right my fine peeps now you can be the editor in chief.
In case you didnt notice, I tend to cover SEO and Internet Marketing around here, not publishing and related advertising. There was a patent that came out from the good ship Google yesterday that I simply couldnt pass up. It is a system that allows you to create your own magazine or eZine, depending on your preference; and if I do say so myself, that is pretty freaking interesting.
The system revolves around document processing, and, more interestingly, the customization/personalization of content and advertisements in various publication formats; e.g., print form (e.g., newspapers, magazines, books, etc.), electronic form (e.g., electronic newspapers, electronic books ("e-Books"), electronic magazines.
I dont want your business! Really, its true... That is something I have said, not in so few words, to many prospects that come to me for SEO (and other) services. Truth be told, I probably turn away some 90+% of the projects that trickle in. Am I having some sort of an adverse reaction to more 000s in my bank account? Have I finally flipped out from being a rant-o-holic? No - on all counts; You see, I have long been a proponent of the 80/20 rule, which for our purposes well state as 20% of your clients are responsible for 80% of your grief. A liberal interpretation, but I am sure Pareto wont mind.
What is important to get digested, is that you can lose a vast amount of time dealing with those clients from Hell and other less than palatable situations. This can be cured through simple diligence and pre-qualifying of potential donors (to my bank account that is).
When it comes to qualifying clients you are trying to establish the best scenarios in which you have the highest likelihood of not only being profitable, but being successful. By that I mean leaving behind a legacy to be proud of, a client gleaming with joy for having known you and a website that purrs like a kitten snuggled up to a warm bowl of milk.
There can be a variety of reasons that a prospective SEO client is shown the door;