2020 has hit everyone hard – especially small business owners and their local businesses. Government enforced closures and restrictions, less consumer discretionary income and general fear in the marketplace have become a factor to the toughest business climate since the Great Depression. With spending getting tighter and the competition for dollars intensifying, the marketing strategies that a CEO/CMO chooses will make or break many operations. Local SEO and other digital marketing strategies have been pushed ahead by over five years and your business needs to be ready.
In this article, we will discuss 3 of the best areas to invest in marketing during the COVID pandemic to maximize return on investment.
The 3 Best Ways – focus on return on investment
With COVID-19 severely reducing the amount of time that a person spends out and about and drastically increasing the amount of time that they spend at home, it’s no surprise that people are spending more time online – on their smartphones, tablets and computers.
The increase in time spent on devices means that customers are searching, researching and buying more online. This means that even the smallest local search ranking factor can mean the difference between a person finding your business listing or another. Here are the top 3 ways to take advantage of these trends as a smart marketer:
Global spending on digital marketing nears $100 billion: study
1. Improve Your Company’s Local SEO
97% of people learn more about a local company online than anywhere else. (Source: SEO Tribunal)
A decrease in leaving the house means an increase in online shopping from home. An increase in shopping from home means more people using search engines and shopping online. Increasingly, potential customers areusing local search and platforms like Google My Business for services “near me” or “close by”. These Google searches grew by more than 900% over two years according to Chat Meter.
With your customers increasingly turning to search engines like Google for local products and services, it is essential that your local businesses rank well in LOCAL SEO for your main offerings. If you don’t rank in the top five organic SEO search results for local businesses with your main keywords, that factor will get smoked by your local competitor as they will snap up your potential customers.
So what are a few of the ways to get your business listing to rank in local search above your nearest competitor on Google? Well, let’s look at the LOCAL SEARCH part of the equation – which includes Google My Business and the results which appear on a Google Map. The first thing a local business can do is decide where you want to see opportunity. Most potential clients and customers are going to search with local intent. This means that they’re going to use Google search to find local listings. If someone is searching for a plumber, they don’t want to see the business profile for a plumber who is located 100 miles away. They want someone who appears high in a local ranking because being local is a factor that more often than not drives business.
What are local SERP’s?
Global spending on digital marketing nears $100 billion: study
One of the best ways to increase your local SEO is to research local small business SEO packages. A great digital marketing agency will help you to reach local customers based on your business location rather than having a local ranking for a potential customer who may be hours away. That person may be searching for a business like yours but they are not truly YOUR local audience.
One of the best ways to increase your local SEO is to research local small business SEO packages. For other ways to increase your local SEO, check out our article:
2. Digital Advertising
Probably the fastest and one of the best (if done correctly) ways to get a positive return on your marketing investment is through digital advertising.
With digital ads on Google, you are essentially buying the right type of traffic and leads to your website. Unlike local SEO, digital ads can generate leads for a product or service right away. This means that search engines like Google show ads targeted to a specific “avatar” which an agency such as X3 can help you develop. In other words, if you want a local link to be shown only to a person searching for “roofers near me” who is also a woman between the ages of 25 and 34 who speaks english within 10 miles of your business location – only a person fitting that profile will be shown your ad.
The best types of ads to market your small business during COVID are:
The click-through rate (CTR) of a retargeted ad is 10x higher than the CTR of a typical display ad. [Source: Wishpond]
Data rules the world around us and the big tech players (Facebook, Google, LinkedIn etc..) are tracking everything that you do on the internet.
If you search for something (new shoes for example) Google and Facebook both know that you are interested in buying new shoes and will show you ads for businesses that sell new shoes. If you read a blog post on how to cook a great apple pie or click on a Google map result showing the best fried chicken in your zip code, Google and other search engines know.
If you go to a shoe website, that website knows that you have been there (through “cookies”) and can serve you a retargeted ad to you via Facebook or the Google display network on other websites. This sort of tactic is meant to re-engage a potential customer.
Because you have searched for shoes and gone to a shoe website, you are likely to purchase shoes and being shown a retargeted ad will have a high conversion rate.
Very few small businesses that we meet with as a digital advertising agency in Denver are running retargeting ads which can be a huge missed opportunity. A competitor of a certain business owner may have social or paid campaigns going but a person will only see ads from that organization once or twice and only on selected platforms whereas retargeting will follow a potential customer who’s already been to the retargeting company’s website.
Because of the high conversion rate and low relative cost, we recommend retargeting ads to most of our digital advertising clients. This is doubly true for those who frequent mobile search since our phones always know where we are and using NAP citations (Name, Address, Phone number) can show us ads targeted to our location at that moment. This results in better offers to the people who are most likely to buy.
Pay Per Click Ads
Pay per click (PPC) ads are still a great way to go for small businesses that are looking to maximize their spend on digital advertising.
If the agency in charge of PPC is running a great campaign for the small business, then the ads are only being shown for keywords where potential customers are going to buy products or services and are therefore more likely to respond to those offers.
The PPC agency also has to make sure that the keywords selected for the campaign are not too competitive or costly. When that happens, the business will run out of budget quickly and will not show a positive ROI. However, because these ads can be so narrowly targeted to exactly who a business wants to reach, they can fit into national or local search.
When using PPC ads on a platform like Google or Google My Business, a business also doesn’t pay for impressions (impressions are similar to paying for a billboard which people drive by without ever paying attention). Rather, this tactic means that the only time you pay Google is when someone actually clicks on your ad. After that, it’s up to your website to convert them into a customer.
Many local searches also give a business owner the opportunity to include specific, local keywords which takes the results of search engines like Google and displays ads that aren’t simply relevant to the topic a potential client is looking for, but also the business listing of someone nearby who can be on-the-spot much more quickly. This not only delivers faster results and local knowledge but it also give the business organization a chance to influence their local search visibility.
3. Social Media
As of Q1 2020, there are 2.6 billion monthly active Facebook users. (Statista, 2020)
Social Media posts and ads (especially Facebook ads) can provide a very high return on digital marketing investment for small businesses.
Because Facebook knows their users interests, friends and search histories, ads can be very targeted and only served to users with a very high likelihood to engage and purchase. Additionally, Facebook and Google can often share the sort of information gleaned from your posts which make the advertisements you see on both platforms that much more catered specifically to you
Small businesses looking to do retargeting ads through Facebook should hire a digital marketing agency that can dive deep into their ideal customer’s behavior and demographics and can create compelling visual ads with great written copy. Part of our job is to makes sure that your social media posts are focused, have proper timing and display the proper “look & feel” of your business personality.
Encouraging your social media audience to engage with a business can also encourage more sharing and gaining of a new local link to your website (think of it like a person‘s website with a link back to your business as “social proof”). Things like this not only share your website but also increase your business profile and brand recognition. Aspects like this will also increase appearance of a given local keyword on social media just as it would in Google.
The final thing we’ll mention as it relates to social media is the online reviews which live there. Giving your customer base a chance to leave both positive and negative reviews on social outlets allows a steady stream of your customers to share their feelings with you and other potential customers. It also allows you to openly resolve conflicts which shows your professionalism in handling a bad review. Search engine rankings will ultimately be affected by all online reviews – even on social media – so local organizations should make sure their SEO strategy includes a way to respond to all reviews – good AND bad.
The Bottom Line
Due to COVID-19, (and technology adoption as a whole) your target customers are spending less time in cars listening to the radio, less people are watching traditional TV and very few people still pick up a physical copy of a newspaper. The traditional methods of advertising (Radio, TV and Print) are dying. Business owners must change with the time to maximize return on investment and the top ways to go are: local SEO, digital advertising and social media.
At X3, we are experts at delivering local SEO and digital advertising campaigns to maximize return on investment. It all starts with a free assessment or contacting us to learn more!
Curious to see how small business from X3 can hep you DOMINATE YOUR COMPETITION ONLINE? Get in touch!
7 + 10 =
One of the objections we hear the most from potential clients is that their primary means of finding new clients is through word of mouth. Upon hearing this, it used to be that we’d push back saying that local SEO is a much more effective way of being found by clients who don’t already know your business. Over time however, our views have evolved quite a bit.
Below I’m going to talk about just how important digital marketing is and just how strong the tie between that and word of mouth marketing is.
First let’s look at how a customer’s research is a factor in word of mouth marketing; according to BrightLocal customers say that positive reviews of a product or company make them more likely to use that business a whopping 91% of the time in the B2B space. What happens after that though? Things like Google, Google My Business, a Google Map and a ton of other aggregators and review sites take over. That’s because things like Google My Business are simply word of mouth in the digital space and a campaign there can have a more targeted and direct reach on platforms like Google.
Typical behavior suggests that those potential customers then learn more about a product – and this is where local SEO efforts plays a massive role. For instance, when it comes to roofing in our area, a Denver SEO expert will tell you that there are about 5,000 roofers licensed to work in Colorado. With all that interference out there, if your local SEO isn’t working for you and you don’t get found in organic Google search or Google My Business, review effectiveness will fall off significantly. Second, how do we get those reviews for a local business?
Finding a good local SEO agency will tell you that getting found for the things that people search Google for – not just your company name – is vital. With the best local SEO campaign firing on all cylinders, Denver SEO for local businesses like roofers will have them showing up in top positions in search engines for things like, “roofers Denver CO” which gets 500 searches per month on average.
Once a business brings aboard a client they then have the opportunity to help them build their reviews. This includes Google Maps and Google My Business optimization which are key places that online reviews are shown. This also includes Facebook reviews in addition to other social media outlets.
We all know Google, and how it has its fingers in every part of the online pie, but what is Google My Business? (yoast.com)
Google My Business, Apple Maps and Bing Places – among other interactive map platforms – have quickly become some of the most powerful places where a person finds business listings – including your competitor down the street. These platforms harness the knowledge of information in a business profile and couple it with reviews from customers near a particular zip code so the learn and become more informed. They also provide a business owner with a way to respond to client compliments or negative reviews which keeps their online presence transparent and their customer service tactics open.
Another advantage of these platforms is providing a local citation and a bit of local link building. For each business listing there is an opportunity to improve a local ranking factor in search engines with local links back to your businesses website which improves organic search and is one of the SEO tools and tactics which can bring new customers to your online or physical location through Google.
With a massive decrease in the amount of face-to-face interactions due to Covid-19 over the past several months, online reviews and requests for recommendations has become even more important for local businesses. The same holds true for local SEO – the more online research people do for a business, the more information they’re able to find. Google My Business is often the first stop in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
A business should be hiring a local SEO company to help navigate those waters so that they can focus on actually running their business. At X3, we are a local business too and when we see someone like a plumber or roofer being dominated by a competitor, we know that the person running that business is a person we can help. It is our job to make sure that search engines like Google show your website and Google My Business shows your business listing first and moves your competitor or product to the second spot. We make sure that a searcher finds you using local keywords which contain things like your city or zip code.
The final thing we’ll point to is cost. Let’s face it, on its face word of mouth marketing costs – zero. But does it? In terms of time and effort to share local business values, know how and service with a new client, there is a ton of work that goes into a business growth strategy to find a potential customer. Every minute spent on marketing takes away from a business’s ability to be involved in actually running that business. The cost in sweat equity can quickly go through the roof. This includes trying to do the complex task of managing their own SEO and social media. In fact, even as we go through this article, things like mobile search grow more and more important and a local keyword becomes more impactful since your phone knows your location. Your local ranking is the first thing you want someone nearby to see since many more people shop close-to-home (especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) than anywhere else.
However, when local businesses are looking for affordable local SEO services we love showing an actual example of how the ROI on SEO works. Here’s a quick example:
There are an average of 50,000 Google searches focus on roofing, roof repair, roof replacement, product, etc. in Colorado each month. So let’s say that 5% of those local searches find a particular roofing company, 5% of that 5% become leads and 50% (typical rate of conversions for Denver roofing companies) of that 5% become customers.
50,000 (searches) X 5% = 2,500
2,500 X 5% = 125
125 X 5% = 6.25
6.25 X 50% = ~3.125 new clients per month
With the average Denver roof replacement price being about $15,000 that means an estimated ~$550,000 in a year.
When broken down like that, hiring an expert local SEO company with their tools to drive traffic, reviews and more word of mouth is certainly affordable. Your marketing efforts should be focused on the overall value of improving your local search ranking since the return can be so high.
The Bottom Line
Word of mouth marketing is a vital part of establishing trust with both existing and potential clients. However, the effectiveness of much of that trust is the ability for people to then find a business through utilization of the best local SEO services available. Reviews and local search engine marketing work hand in hand to drive revenue and success with any business.
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Let’s face it, SEO can be confusing for small business owners. There is a lot of conflicting information on how much small business SEO packages should cost, the effectiveness of different approaches and how long it should take to get a local business to appear on top of Google.
While finding an SEO agency in Denver that actually produces great local seo results can be tough, it is more important than ever for a local business to invest their marketing dollars in improving their digital presence.
With the rise of COVID-19 and new business landscape, more and more people are doing their shopping and research online. Local businesses which a person finds nearby on a Google Map are those who are more likely to get business over a competitor
This means that small business owners can’t afford not to be found by potential customers on Google. At X3, we help local business owners find the perfect small business SEO package for them and guarantee results. Today, we will look at 5 ways that companies can increase their local SEO on Google and other powerful search engines.
1) Avoid Black Hat SEO
If it sounds too good to be true, then it almost always is. This is definitely the case with local SEO and how much it can influence a ranking factor.
In the early days of local SEO, companies could use “keyword” stuffing to jam a bunch of keywords that they wanted to rank for into any page or posts on their website to improve the desired keyword’s ranking.
Today, such shortcuts will get penalized by search engines and do much more harm than good.
If a Denver SEO agency is promising hundreds of backlinks in a short amount of time, it’s another giveaway that they are using black hat SEO efforts. Other black hat tactics include:
-blog comment spam
Growing your company’s digital presence requires hard work over time. Don’t work with a company that takes shortcuts and will hurt your brand and your business and its online presence.
2) Claim your online business listings
There are many places online where your business can appear including social media sites, local indexes, search engines etc. A few of these, to be specific are:
– Google Maps
– Apple Maps
– Bing Places
– Google My Business (including Google Reviews)
Each listing that is claimed and correctly connected to your website provides a valuable backlink to your business and your local SEO near your zip code. Having correct information and being accessible on directories makes your business easier to find for potential customers.
Conversely, each unclaimed listing is a missed opportunity and you could have potential customers looking at incorrect/outdated information. You also could be missing out on responding to negative reviews or customer complaints.
In the early days of the internet, there were relatively few websites, so navigating the web was easy. Once the internet started to expand, however, search engines were created to allow… Source: mailchimp.com
Making sure that all of your online listings have been claimed can take a lot of time. If you have a solid small business SEO package, your agency should be helping you claim and audit all of your business listings.
Working with your agency (who should have much of this knowledge), look for local business directories where local customers may look to find something like plumbers or restaurants nearby. These directories indicate local intent to keep money in their own zip code.
Our website is listed in seolist.org – Colorado Search Engine Optimization Directory
Ready for a crazy statistic?
According to BrightLocal, 76% of people trust small businesses online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from a friend.
Getting positive reviews means increasing your credibility and trust with your local market and prospective customers. Google My Business and other directories with your business profile are increasingly important to a person looking for your business or product.
A large amount of reviews is also a great indicator to search engines that you are an established company in your market.
Most companies do not prioritize quality reviews from clients enough. Separate yourself from the crowd and prioritize your company’s reviews.In order to have these reviews show up in a Google search, you need to be listed with a local citation. These include many local directories or aggregators which allow for NAP citations (Name, Address and Phone number) which will guide customers to search results for a local keyword.
WHY ARE NAP CITATIONS IMPORTANT?
Global spending on digital marketing nears $100 billion: study
4) Focus on local link building
Getting local links to your website tells Google that you are an authority in local search for your core services or product. Let’s say that you are a Denver SEO company trying to build credibility in Denver and the surrounding areas – it wouldn’t do much good to build links in Los Angeles, California, since that location isn’t a good ranking factor for a business in Colorado, is it?
This is a mistake that a lot of companies make as they focus on industry specific links in other markets rather than building local links right in their backyard. Having a business profile and NAP citations in something like a local Chamber of Commerce is a great opportunity to find a new potential customer.
Building valuable local SEO links can be tricky as the best links have to be industry relevant and relevant locally. At X3, we help small businesses with the best local link building strategy and do the link building for our clients. Someone looking for Google local listings on mobile search are even more likely to shop with your business as mobile search knowledge becomes even more important accounting for over 80% of Google search by the end of 2020.
Most companies do not prioritize quality reviews from clients enough. Separate yourself from the crowd and prioritize your company’s reviews.
5) Creating local SEO content
Almost half of all Google search queries are searching for local information relative to where a person lives. You can make sure that your small business website shows up in the local rankings with a good local SEO content strategy.
The first step to creating great content is to come up with your local keyword strategy for Google, Bing and the other search engines. Once you have your optimal keyword strategy writing good, long-form content using the keywords in your strategy is a great way to go.
The best way to implement this is to write great blog posts around your business or service using your keywords and specifically around your local area. You can also make sure that your local ranking is further improved by keeping things like Google My Business up to date with pictures of a current project, your staff or a featured product.
Consistent, high quality blog posts are pivotal to any local SEO strategy and will ensure that you continue to stay relevant for the most valuable keywords in your market.
The Bottom Line
At X3 we are SEO professionals. It is our job to maximize your marketing budget so your digital marketing efforts can turn search engines into that put-one-in-get-two-back money machine I mentioned earlier. It’s also our job to show you how your money is being spent and provide the trust, results and clarity so you can account for each dollar and track conversion goals to see that money grow. Let’s talk.
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