24 Mar

How important are online reviews

Think about the last time you did business with a company. How did you find out about them? There’s a good chance you asked your friends and family for a recommendation and that one or more individuals ended up naming the company in question.

But what happens when a person is looking for a quality service and nobody in their circle can offer any suggestions? Most often, they’ll still look for word of mouth, but it’ll be found on those pesky review sites that so many business owners fear.

The importance of online reviews

It’s not an over-exaggeration to say that online reviews play a huge part in a business’ ability to get customers. When thinking of hiring a contractor, people want what they’ve always wanted: the cold, hard truth about the company’s practices from someone unbiased and unaffiliated with them in any way.

Most experienced marketers have come to recognize that customers are gaining more and more power as time goes by. It’s not just the fact that more businesses popping up translates to people having more choices than ever – there’s also something to be said about the widely-available information regarding good and bad practices in virtually every profession. The number of uninformed customers is rapidly dwindling – people know what to look for and are hardly willing to take chances with so many options available.

You could have the slickest-looking website out there featuring all sorts of customer feedback, quotes and reviews of past cases – you’ll be happy if the informed customer believes a fraction of it before venturing out to neutral websites to get the real skinny.

How negative reviews impact your business and what you can do about them

Unfortunately, the massive presence that online reviews command means that business owners have a tough time rebounding from a single negative review, let alone a couple of them chained together.

People have a way of ignoring the good to focus on the bad, and things are no different here – in fact, lots of customers actively seek negative reviews as they want to know the worst case scenario.

If you’re looking to become a legitimate business with a strong presence in your local community, you can’t afford to ignore online reviews no matter what they’re saying. The game has changed, and businesses must evolve in accordance – you have little choice but to start building your reputation through good practices and making sure that lots of customers are satisfied enough to go out of their way to write a positive review.

It might seem grueling, but there’s no way around it. Just the opposite: as popular as online reviews are now, they’re only getting more widespread by the minute and there’s practically zero chance of the standard going away in the foreseeable future. Instead, expect online reviews to become the go-to method of getting information about a business – those who went through the effort of keeping their record clean will benefit more and more as time passes and are sure to beat out their less-attentive competitors before they even know what hit them.

23 Mar

How to market your local business online

Your first venture into online marketing can seem scary. All these websites offering ad space – how can you know which one is right for you? And what about the costs – do you really need to spend big bucks to establish an online presence?

Well, that depends mostly on how good you are at selling yourself. Let’s face it: those with a knack for spreading their brand will do so with minimum investment while others can pour big money into one failed campaign after another and see very little results. In the end, it all comes down to finding a demographic and relating to it on a personal level.

Some of the most common ways

As you might have imagined, ads continue being the bread and butter of marketing even deep into the digital age, although the rules have changed a bit.

For starters, there are many more ways to advertise now than there were just a couple of years back. Most people consider Google ads to yield the best results: after all, you can’t get much better than ranking above numero uno on the search page of the most visited website in the world, can you? As effective as they are, Google ads have their limitations and can cost a pretty penny without doing all that much. The same goes for Facebook ads: while somewhat cheaper, using them requires an understanding of your demographic and what the people in it are looking for. It’s even harder with Google: while Facebook only makes you choose an age group, location and similar broad parameters, you’ll need a thorough understanding of what niches are in order to get the most from your Google ad campaign.

Likewise, most websites out there feature some amount of advertising space for those looking to market their brand. Advertising on the right website can lead to a massive increase in traffic in a matter of hours while advertising on the wrong one really won’t amount to much aside from emptying your pockets. Again, you’ll need to figure out the group you’re targeting, find out the websites they visit most often and see about placing your ads somewhere in there.

If commercial breaks were never your thing, there are other, less-obvious methods of online marketing to consider.

The road less traveled

An example of a less-common way to market yourself online would be paid-for placement on websites like Yelp – these sites play a huge part in most decisions on who to do business. The reason why we list this method as ‘uncommon’ is that many business owners don’t realize the importance of review websites nor are they aware of the option to get paid-for advertising on them. The ‘ads’ on these websites differ very little from actual search results, which makes them a godsend to those looking for quick traffic that converts.

Another way to market your local business online is to create a helpful site that people can turn to for insight – not just people from your local community but also those from all over the world. If you can create a hub of useful information that’s difficult to find elsewhere on the web – be it on your business website or a related personal blog – you’ll get lots of customers without really paying for any advertising. Keep in mind, though, that creating a site of this kind takes time, effort and dedication.

22 Mar

How to use SEO for your business

Running a business is tough on any day of the week – even when things are going as smoothly as they can, you can never afford to take a breather and hope that the company will run itself, especially if you are the sole owner.

So how can you hope to juggle an additional load on your back in the form of SEO? Well, you’ll just have to manage somehow. These days, there’s no replacement for search engine placement, and ranking higher will get you more leads than most other brand-establishing methods. Sure, lead conversion is still up in the air, but what good is running the best business if nobody knows you exist?

One of our business partners that assists us with SEO is Revved Business in San Antonio. They are a first-class SEO in San Antonio. If you have questions about SEO and optimizing your business online, you should definitely put them on your list to contact.

seo san antonio

Using SEO for your business

Business owners looking to use SEO for their own gain should familiarize themselves with the basics first. Applying SEO is exactly what the acronym would suggest: optimizing your brand so that it gains favor with the search engines.

It doesn’t matter if you feel that Google or Microsoft (Bing) are bad or evil companies who don’t deserve to be catered to – the fact of the matter is that most of your customers will find your business through search engines whether you like it or not.

Therefore, you’ll have to take some time to understand what helps a page rank higher (and what causes its ranking to plummet). One easy thing you can do is to find out how people are getting to your site – what are the searches they most commonly use? From there, you can alter the text and images on your site so that would-be visitors have an easier time navigating to it. This alone will help you rise a great deal, especially on the most relevant pages where you will likely break into the top 10 if your website is in good standing. Of course, SEO takes a lot more than just altering your site a bit – you’ll have to create an online presence that rivals or exceeds those of your competitors.

Putting yourself out there

In simple terms, the more your business is mentioned on the web, the better your search engine placement will be. There’s a catch, though: the quality of the sites you’re mentioned on makes all the difference in the world. To make a real impact on the rankings, you’ll want your name on some of the foremost websites related to your niche – personal blogs with heaps of visitors, instructional sites, aggregates and more.

Fortunately or unfortunately, there isn’t a quick way to go about this most of the time. Past adding your listing on various citation websites, you’ll have to reach out to owners of popular websites and see about getting mentioned. They aren’t likely to do it out of the kindness of their hearts, so you’ll have to offer something in return – be it a quality post that provides a ton of insight into the workings of something relevant or a fixed partnership fee, find out what the site owners are after and consider giving it to them.

The results will speak for themselves: getting mentioned on as little as two or three popular websites with a lot of visitors from your area will skyrocket your traffic and, in turn, improve your standing with the search engines considerably even for less-relevant search queries.

21 Mar

Marketing your business online

One could say that the essence of marketing changed completely in just a couple of years: it might not be absolutely correct, but it’s still a good point to make. Whereas in the early and mid-2000s marketing was still about getting your ads onto as many TV channels and billboards as possible, the internet has now largely replaced these as the advertising medium of choice.

Business owners and marketers who have revoked the internet in its earlier days are now undoubtedly realizing their mistake: without an online presence, you aren’t going to get very far in the business world anymore.

Here’s an example of some work we did for San Antonio Rain Gutter Pros (http://www.sanantonioraingutterpros.com). They came to us needing help with their website…

san antonio rain gutter pros

Untangling the web

So why is marketing your business online suddenly so important? Well, there are a number of explanations and theories. You could say that people, as a whole, trust the internet a whole lot more than any other marketing medium used in the past. The internet gives people the feeling that they’re in control: it makes them feel as if every business is handed to them on a silver platter, allowing them to pick and choose whom they want to work with.

However true this might be, it still provides only a partial insight into the state of affairs. In reality, those with big advertising bucks are still beating out the competition just as handily as they did when things were offline, albeit through different methods: instead of more airtime, companies with more money can often ‘buy’ better rankings, improved reviews, greater online exposure and much more.

Did we also mention ads never really went anywhere? Instead of being a nuisance in the middle of your favorite TV show, ads are now displayed on the website you visit every day, or as sponsored content on your online news outlet of choice. Some companies also make use of Google ads by, to put it bluntly, guaranteeing that their name comes up on top of the searches. Those being seen the most are – you guessed it – those with the most money to spend on advertising.

So how can you compete if your opponents are still buying Senate seats?

What smaller companies can do

Those with big advertising money have it easy, but the battle is far from lost. If anything, the move to online marketing has given smaller businesses and companies more tools to defend themselves and even beat out larger enterprises – look around, and you’ll see plenty of small business owners making it big thanks to the power of the internet.

Of course, you can’t expect the web to do your job for you. To stand out among the countless ads and fight the competitors’ souped-up search placements, you’ll need to wield creativity like you mean it – think long and hard about what makes your business stand out in a positive sense and then build your campaign around it. Are you a licensed and insured rain gutter company looking to establish a local presence with the help of the internet? Be sure to advertise your business as a team of customer-oriented, friendly professionals out to make a difference through quality of service.

While the prices of Google advertising might give off the opposite idea, you can reap great rewards from online marketing efforts that cost a minimal amount of money so long as you have something of value to offer.