Local Learnings from the Northeast: Answering a Small Business Owner’s FAQs
For the past few weeks, we’ve been traveling around the country for the YP Local Breakthrough Summit – a series of one-day events designed to help local business owners break through their marketing barriers via the power of digital marketing. This week alone, we were busy making stops in Boston and New York alongside our team of digital marketing experts from YP, Bing, Google, Yahoo, and Verve. It was a jam-packed week, but worth every (sleepless) minute as our team had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with more than a hundred small business owners, all whom were ready to take their businesses to the next level.
In every city we’ve visited, we’ve noticed that local business owners ask similar questions. While their specific challenges vary based on the kind of businesses they operate, their underlying needs, at least in terms of digital marketing, are quite consistent. So, we’ve taken a lot of notes, compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions, and now are happy to share some the answers with you – direct from the mouths of our experts.
Q: Why does a local business need a website?
A: Websites are how local businesses get found via directories and search engines. It’s the “home base” for pertinent information about your business, including hours, location, products and services offered, and more. That’s why it’s so important for all the information on your website to be accurate and up-to-date at all times. Surprisingly, many local businesses think their website is current, but oftentimes find errors when they look closely – even basic things like the name of the business. This is the kind of inaccurate information that can get picked up by other sites and directories, which, in turn, make it harder for your potential customers to find and engage with your business.
Q: How can local businesses get on top of search engines results?
A: There are lots of different ways to secure top billing on the major search engines, but there is almost no way to guarantee the top spot all the time. One of the most popular methods is through Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which involves making sure your website is easy for search engines to find based on the keywords you’d anticipate potential customers using in their search for your business. It also helps to have a number of inbound links driving traffic to your site as well as ensuring your content is always fresh, relevant, and up-to-date to help ensure your site gets the highest ranking possible. SEO can be very time intensive to manage, but the benefit is a lot of organic (free!) website traffic.
The other recommended method is through Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Bidding on relevant keywords is the heart of an SEM campaign – in other words, paying for the search terms that you know potential customers use most to find your business. Though, keep in mind that some of the most popular search terms can be quite costly, so aiming to always have top billing in search results may be unrealistic (especially when you only have a small marketing budget to work with). Instead, focus on driving more leads at the smallest possible cost. In fact, appearing in second, third, or fourth position oftentimes in a much lower cost-per-click without impacting your ability to convert searchers into actual customers.
Breakthrough moments from Boston
May 17, 2016
See more in our Event Photo Gallery
Q: Does ad scheduling increase the cost of ads?
A: Ad scheduling, also known as “dayparting,” is a great way to secure ROI by ensuring that your ads run at a time when your potential customers are likely searching for what your business offers. For example, if you own a coffee shop, you’d want to run ads during business hours – especially when the need for caffeine spikes in the morning or late afternoon – to immediately drive foot traffic to your store. However, if you run a home and garden business, you may want to take a more seasonal approach, running search ads when the weather warms up and local customers are thinking about planting flowers and making their lawns green again. In both cases, the cost-per-click might be higher at these peak times due to increased competition, but there’s a better chance that these searchers who find your ads will become customers.
Q: What role do maps play in searches?
A: Maps are becoming increasingly important for how local consumers find local businesses. According to Google, “near me” searches have seen a 34x increase since 2011 – meaning more and more people are using Google Maps to start (and end) their searches vs. Google Search alone. Not to mention, 80 percent of those searches come from mobile devices, making it critical that information on your website is up-to-date and your business address is visible in Maps (officially known as “location extensions”).
Breakthrough moments from New York City
May 19, 2016
See more in our Event Photo Gallery
Have a question you’d like answered? Send us an email, and one of our marketing experts will get back to you in short order. While you’re at it, be sure to check out YP Marketing Solutions for tips, tricks, and tools to help your business grow.
Categorized in: SMB Solutions