[Video] Customers Are Searching for Local Businesses Online – and How Your Business Can Survive the Shift

[Video] Customers Are Searching for Local Businesses Online – and How Your Business Can Survive the Shift

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Do you still think that a listing on the yellow pages is enough for prospects to find your local business? If so, this is a wake-up call.

The truth is this: paying customers are finding more and more ways to research products and services in their area. Widespread Internet access and mobile devices enable customers to find what they need instantly, on the go, and with high buying intent. This also comes with the high propensity to share experiences online with friends. If your business is not capitalizing on this shift, then you are losing out.

Watch our video now:

Online Trends Affecting Your Local Business

Local businesses that serve a specific geographic area can no longer rely on simply placing their listing on yellow pages. Consumers are going beyond traditional methods of searching for products and services in their area. Here are some trends that you need to know:

  • Local Searches on tools like Google Places and Bing Local grew by 144% between 2011 and 2012 (comScore)
  • 86% of tablet owners made a purchase from their recent tablet-based local search (MarketingSherpa)
  • 72% of smart phone owners made a purchase from their recent smart phone based local search (MarketingSherpa)
  • 78% of all Internet users conduct product research online before making a local purchase (Pew Internet)
  • 80% of users stated they have changed their minds on making a purchase because of a bad review they read online (Cone Communications)

These are trends that your business simply cannot afford to ignore.

The Shift – How Prospects Are Looking for You

Based on the trends above, you’ll see that consumers are no longer dependent on print listings and other traditional media to find businesses they need. They are using the Internet and their mobile devices to quickly locate shops. In fact, a survey by Ipsos found that 61% of global Internet users are doing their research before making a purchase.

Aside from traditional search engines like Google, prospects are using tools like Google Places, Facebook Places, and Foursquare. Local Buzz is a service that optimizes your presence in these location-based web properties. Through Local Buzz, you can ensure your business is optimized for local business listings, maps of major search engines, and the sites mentioned earlier.

And frankly, if your competitors are as interested in success as you are, they will be optimizing their business for these increasingly popular tools as well — if they haven’t already.

To illustrate the power of Local Buzz, here’s a “personal” example. Have you ever found a business through Google maps? Checked-in to your favorite restaurant over Facebook? Or decided to visit a local store because you were influenced by a friend who did so? Then you’ve personally experienced what Local Buzz is capable of.

These online local channels will help you, at the very least, ensure potential customers in your service area know exactly how to get to you and by reading reviews, learn why they should choose you over everyone else.

Crucial Areas Where Businesses Need Help

More than just knowing how Local Buzz works is knowing what pressing issues local businesses are facing. These issues need to be addressed immediately:

  • Duplicate Local Business Listings – Duplicates will confuse people and search engines alike. Prospect customers won’t know which listing is official and correct. On the part of search engines, they might split your listings’ authority between the correct one and the duplicate. This is one area you should definitely look into to be able to take advantage of Local Buzz.
  • Lack of Competition Analysis – Do you know where you currently stand in the race? Are your competitors being rated and reviewed by your prospects?
  • NAP Inconsistency – One of the biggest factors that affect local search domination is inconsistency of name, address, and phone number or NAP across all listings. Again, Google knows that if you confuse people with inconsistent information, your search results won’t be good for users, and it won’t rank those results.
  • Absence of Profiles on Major Channels – Be there when your prospects look for you. It’s a major mistake not to open your accounts on Google+, Facebook, and Foursquare.
  • Absence of Promotions – You need to attract in-store visits via deals and online check-ins. Posting promotions on key accounts can motivate prospects to check out your store and existing customers to return.

Manage the Shift – Help Prospects Find Your Business

Statistics show us that prospects are searching for local businesses online and increasingly via mobile. Your response should be obvious: move your marketing efforts online and ensure your local business is visible to those who need to find it. All of this starts with a shift in your mindset as the owner.

You’ve seen how Local Buzz works through statistics. But more importantly, you’ve most likely already experienced its potential. You’ve felt it personally and you know it is no longer enough to rely on traditional methods to be visible to prospects. You need to be online, be visible, and be proactive. To survive the shift to mobile local searches and to thrive in it, you need to start using Local Buzz for your business right here, right now.

Call us now or send us a message to schedule your free consultation on Local Buzz.

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Beyond Local Online Presence: How Your Local Business Can Keep the Cash Register Ringing with ‘Local Buzz’

Beyond Local Online Presence: How Your Local Business Can Keep the Cash Register Ringing with ‘Local Buzz’

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According to statistics, an overwhelming 78% of consumers research about products and services on the Internet before buying locally. The message consumers are sending local business owners is therefore clear: be visible online or get ready to close shop.

A lot of business owners have responded to this message by getting a website done. They also pay for SEO or search engine optimization services to make sure they appear on Google when their prospects look for products they offer. But is this strategy good enough to keep your cash register ringing every day? Or is there a better way to ensure your business dominates “locally”?

The ‘Problem’ with Your SEO Approach

Indeed, optimizing your online presence is a necessity. Some 90% use search engines such as Google to look for products and services. If you do not appear on search results, even your neighbors might not purchase from your shop, and it’s because you are “invisible” on Google. So, business owners employ agencies and professionals to conduct SEO or search engine optimization for their website. That IS the solution. Ironically, that is also the problem: Business owners tend to focus all their attention on SEO, and nothing more.

Traditional SEO works if you want to rank on Google. But if you own a local business and you want to appeal locally, you need to implement optimization efforts that are geographically focused. This goes beyond targeting keywords that include your geographic location. It means creating a “buzz” that 1) enables your business to dominate local search results and also 2) makes people actually visit your physical store and buy.

Higher Ranking, More Search Results

Local search factors differ from general search factors. According to the 2013 Local Search Ranking Factors study by Moz, some of the things you must consider for local search optimization are:

  • Place Page Signals – proper categorization of business, etc. (19.6%)
  • On-page Signals – NAP or name, address, phone number, etc. (18.8%)
  • External Location Signals – NAP consistency across listings, etc. (16%)
  • Review Signals – review quantity and diversity, etc. (10.3%)
  • Social Signals – Google+ authority, Facebook likes, etc. (6.1%)

The items above are signals that surveyed industry experts believe help websites rank in local searches. These ranking factors tell us how we can better rankings on local search results. But to “dominate locally” is another thing. You need to rank high for your website AND get more search results from external sites, too. This way, your business will have more chances of being found by users.

Therefore, you need to optimize your local online presence in other web properties, such as social media, maps, review sites, and local listings. They not only help improve your website’s overall rankings, they also ensure your local business shows up for more search results on Google.

Generate ‘Buzz’ for Your Local Business

To create local buzz for your business, you need to reinforce your typical SEO work with these location-targeted approaches:

Ensure NAP Presence and Consistency – According to MarketingSherpa, only 58% of businesses list their local business address on their website! This has two major negative consequences: first, a missing or inconsistent NAP can lead to a poor local search ranking, as Moz ranking factors above tell us. Second, it will prevent prospects – particularly mobile users – from taking further action. A study by Google and Nielsen showed that users who searched via a mobile device also called a business phone (7%), visited a store (17%), and made a purchase (17%).

Check for Duplicate Places Listings – Be sure there’s only one listing for your business at Google+ Local, Foursquare, Facebook Places, and Bing Local.  You want everyone to check-in only at the right account – your account. Plus, you don’t want to confuse both people and search engines.

Get Published on Review/Rating Sites – According to BrightLocal’s 2013 Local Consumer Review Survey, over 80% of consumers regularly or occasionally read online reviews to determine whether a local business is a good business. In comparison, only 15% do not read online reviews. What’s interesting is that around 65% of consumers say positive reviews make them more likely to use a local business – significantly up from only 50% from two years ago.

Encourage Social Media Reviews – Some 58% of searchers are more likely to use a local business if a social network connection recommended it, says the Local Search Usage research. The study, which was conducted by comScore for 15miles/Neustar Localeze, also found that consumers who actively search for local businesses on social networks also use (50%) and submit (41%) consumer reviews.

Facilitate Web Check-ins – When customers check in on your shop using services like Foursquare, that activity is published and seen by his network. You can use promotions to attract check-ins. Some of the most popular promos are the “friend deal” (reward is given when a group of people check-in together) and the “loyalty deal” (reward is given after a number of check-ins). Why? Research by Pew Internet shows more smartphone owners are now using check-in or geo-social services. The percentage is at 18% as of 2012, significantly up from only 4% in 2010.

These are only some of the methods you can use to create a local buzz for your local business. Yes, traditional SEO will help your website rank well on Google search. But if you want to dominate your competition, you need to dominate local search with results. You must give prospects more links to click when search results are served. More importantly, you need to encourage them to go beyond searching at visit your store to buy. You can do this through “local buzz.”

***

We can generate local buzz for your local business. Call us now or send us a message to schedule your free consultation on Local Buzz.

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Is Your Local Business Invisible Online? Discover Local Buzz! [Infographic]

Is Your Local Business Invisible Online? Discover Local Buzz! [Infographic]

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More and more consumers are using the Internet to search for products and services in their area. Sadly, local businesses are struggling to keep up with the trend. They are finding it more and more difficult to stay visible to potential customers online.

On the other hand, a select few local businesses are thriving. They are dominating local listings and enticing prospects to come and visit the shop. Want to dominate your local area for your products and services, too? Discover how you can thrive locally with the help of optimized local listings, customer ratings and reviews, check-ins, and maps – otherwise known as “local buzz.”

See our Infographic:

TechnologyHill.com-Local-Buzz-Infographic-Blog

Local Search and Why It’s Growing

Many local business owners are aware that nearly 8 in 10 consumers use the Internet to look for products and services online. Google, of course, is the leading search engine of choice. That’s why business owners spend majority of the budget on having a website and optimizing it for search results. What many owners are realizing now is that they should optimize their online presence based on location too, not just on products and services they offer. That’s what local buzz is all about.

Local search happens when prospects type in geographic keywords in their search queries (i.e. “best wedding gowns san francisco” or “website design in chicago). Some 54% of searchers include a local modifier (city, zip code) in their search nowadays.

Much of the popularity of local search can be correlated to the growth of mobile device ownership and usage. Some 74% of smartphone owners get real-time location-based information through their phone, as of February 2012, up from 55% in May 2011, comScore said.

Local Buzz Means Money for the Biz

For now, it is clear that consumers are online and they are looking for a local business with the help of the Internet. But why should you care? In essence, it’s about your bottom line, your sales. It’s about your business’ future. Local searches are not just aimed at locating a business. They are also geared to make a purchase! As mentioned above, mobile is fuelling local search. So it is no surprise that:

  • 78% of mobile phone searches resulted in a purchase
  • 77% of tablet searches resulted in a purchase
  • 73% of mobile searches trigger other additional action and conversions

Local searchers therefore aren’t just typing queries on Google using their mobile devices; they are looking to buy! Now this is what matters: is your local business “buzzing” on local listings and consumer feedback? Or is it invisible when prospects search online?

Local Buzz 101: Beyond Traditional SEO

Typically, business owners hire a designer to create a website and then employ an agency to optimize that site. There is nothing wrong with this approach. In fact, these two things should be first in your priority. They ensure your business is present online. But your local business needs more than just exposure on general search results. It needs to be visible in various local listings and entice prospects to visit your shop and avail of your products and services.  That’s where local buzz comes in.

Unlike typical and traditional search optimization, “local buzz” focuses on your business’s local online presence. This is done by combining traditional SEO with the optimization of genuine consumer reviews, check-ins, maps, and local listings. This also means that aside from your own web pages, search results from Google maps, Foursquare, independent reviews sites, and local listings will come up when prospects search online. Local buzz aims to make your local business visible and appealing to local searchers.

Dominate Local: Check-ins, Listings, Maps, Reviews

Various studies have shown that local listings, maps, reviews, and check-ins not only dominate local search results, they also influence a user’s purchase decision. For example, a BrightLocal study found that the effect of online reviews of consumers is also stronger this year, compared to last year.

  • 85% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses (up from 76% in 2012)
  • 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (up from 72%)
  • 73% of consumers trust a business more because of reviews (up from 58%)
  • 65% of consumers are more likely to use a business with positive reviews (up from 52%)

Aside from reviews, geo-social or check-ins websites and apps should be part of the strategy. Foursquare alone has 40 million users and has logged 3.54 billion online check-ins so far. You may use check-in promotions to entice prospects to visit your local store or shop. Rewarding them after a number of check-ins is one type of promotion.

Maps and listings also matter. For instance, 35% of mobile phone users who search for local businesses via apps use Google Maps, according to comScore. Meanwhile, 76% of searches using Internet yellow pages resulted in either a purchase or intent to purchase, says the Local Search Association.

The message these statistics bring is clear: you need to dominate local listings with location-based services to ensure prospects find you, and that they find you worth dealing with. Your local business needs local buzz.

Call us now or send us a message to schedule your free consultation on Local Buzz.

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Social Media Optimization: A Business Necessity, Not a Luxury [Watch the Video]

Social Media Optimization: A Business Necessity, Not a Luxury [Watch the Video]

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Did you know that within the social media space, there are conversations happening at this very moment that will define your brand? If you don’t capitalize on this vast and growing landscape, your competitors will, and you won’t like the outcome.

Watch the video:

Business owners may not realize it yet but social media optimization is now a crucial marketing necessity if their venture is to compete in this economy. The emergence of social networks over the past few years has changed the way businesses reach out to their audience. In fact, it is no longer enough to have a website, get backlinks, and rank well on Google. Today, a successful business needs essential elements: networking, awareness, engagement, trust, and loyalty – all of which are achievable through social media.

Social Media Optimization: A Legitimate Business Need

You might still be wondering, just how important is having a Social Media Optimization campaign for your business. Well, let us help you put things in perspective.

  • 1 in 4 people worldwide are social media users (eMarketer)
  • 1 in 6 minutes spent online worldwide is spent on social media platforms (comScore)
  • It took 13 years for television to reach an audience of 50 million people (United Nations Cyberschoolbus)
  • It only took Facebook 2 years!

Without a solid social media optimization strategy, it will be difficult for businesses to make the most out of this trend. Even coping with it will be a struggle. Social media is indeed growing and evolving fast. It’s involving more and more people connecting with each other, sharing thoughts and feelings through status messages, likes, tweets, links, photos, videos, and etc.

How connected are you to your target audience? How many people are talking about your business? When a potential customer searches for your business’ name on Google, are they going to find (aside from your website) professionally designed and updated social media profiles?

Social Networks as Marketing Tools

In the “State of the Media: Social Media Report,” global information and measurement company Nielsen reported that social media has changed how consumers are influenced to buy. “Consumer decisions and behaviors are increasingly driven by the opinions, tastes, and preferences of an exponentially larger, global pool of friends, peers, and influencers,” the report said.

The Nielsen study also found that, each month, social media users:

  • Read about other customer experiences (70%)
  • Learn more about business products and services (65%)
  • Compliment brands (53%)
  • Express how they feel about brands they like or don’t like (50%)

This is both a challenge and a cause for celebration for marketers. While it will be more difficult to control brand messaging, it also opens up new channels for business owners to reach their prospects. If you have a social networking strategy, you can influence how prospects see your brand, and eventually gain their awareness, engagement, trust, and loyalty.

How to Take Advantage of Social

From account setup to maintenance and tracking, there’s a plethora of actions that can benefit the online social presence of your business. Some of the more important actions you can take, and take immediately if possible, are as follows:

Share Updates via Facebook – If you’re going to inform people of your events, updates, and promotions, make sure to include Facebook in the plan. The biggest of them all, the world’s largest social network now has 1.11 billion monthly active users.

Share Updates via Google Plus – Google’s own social network now has 500 million registered members, 359 million of which are active. Apart from its usual social properties, Google+ is crucial for marketing because of its SEO or search engine optimization benefits. A recent correlation study by Internet marketing  software developer Moz found that high ranking pages tend to have more +1’s.

Tweet Regularly – Establish your presence by posting regular updates on the micro-blogging site. MediaBistro estimates that 67% of Twitter users are far more likely to buy from the brands they follow on Twitter. Twitter’s own survey shows that 63% of people follow SMBs to show their support. Some 85% “feel more connected” to the business after following them.

Join LinkedIn Discussions – LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with 238 million members. It’s a great way to build your credibility and gain customer trust. Feel free to join relevant discussions in over 2.1 million LinkedIn groups.

Create Hype through YouTube – YouTube needs no introduction but to get a glimpse of its power as a web traffic source and social platform, here are some interesting figures. Over 1 billion unique visitors use it every month. Nielsen reports that YouTube has a better reach than any cable network when it comes to the 18-34 U.S. age group. Video is an exciting format and YouTube enables you to take advantage of it.

Social Media Optimization Benefits

The problem with networking through social media is the time and dedication needed to ensure you have a regular presence. Your followers need to see constant updates on your accounts. Unfortunately, business owners cannot afford to spend all their time away from the core business posting status updates or commenting on discussions. Good thing we can help you in this area. It is, after all, our expertise.

We will help you:

  • Expand your network (acquire friends, fans, followers, connections, join groups)
  • Increase awareness (through tweets, status messages, posts, etc.)
  • Generate engagement (through discussions, commenting)
  • Promote trust and customer loyalty (with regular updates, promos)
  • And boost this further with the amplifying power of social media

We can draft a social media strategy that can help you achieve your business goals, and then help you execute the plan… so you can remain focused on your core operations, and push the business from that end.

We’re offering free in-depth consultation on how social media can help grow your business today. Call us now or send us a message to schedule your free consultation on Social Media Optimization.

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Anatomy of a Social Buyer: Use Social Media Optimization to Understand Your Customer & Get Sales

Anatomy of a Social Buyer: Use Social Media Optimization to Understand Your Customer & Get Sales

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Social media optimization is a known business necessity. Owners understand that for their venture to withstand the competition and survive in the current economic environment, they need to be on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. They need to update fan pages, upload photos, and interact with their audience. After all, 67% of all Internet users use social networks, according to Pew Internet research. Indeed no online marketing strategy is ever complete without it. But at the end of the day, its sales—not likes, retweets, or repins—that keep the business going. So the question now is…

“Do businesses actually get sales from social media?”

Social: Vast Network of Networks

Despite doubts clouding social’s power to keep the cash register ringing, business still believe in conducting marketing via social networks. In fact, 83% of marketers surveyed by Social Media Examiner consider social media as important for their business. The same source found that 59% or marketers are using social media for 6 hours or more each week.

As for which site is considered most critical to business, 42% of marketers asked by HubSpot for the State of Inbound Marketing report voted Facebook as their choice. Some 80% of U.S. social network users prefer to connect to brands through it.

Apart from Facebook, which now has 1.11 billion monthly active users; marketers also cited Twitter and Pinterest. According to a study by Edison Research, 51% of active Twitter users follow companies, brands, or products on social networks. Pinterest, on the other hand, is ranked by Experian as the third most popular social network in the U.S., based on traffic. Google’s very own Google+ is continuously growing with 359 million monthly active users. Then, there’s YouTube, LinkedIn, and other popular sites.

So, Do Social Users Actually Buy?

Some 43% of social users actually do buy. The purchases happened after conducting some form of social action on the item, like sharing and favoriting, says global research provider, Vision Critical. Broken down by site, Facebook appears to be the best platform to drive sales as 38% of its users have purchased an item after liking and sharing it. Pinterest ranks second with 29% of users saying they have purchased an item. Twitter was third with 22%. Social sites can drive both online and offline sales, it was found.

What do they buy? Recent social-inspired purchases by users fall mostly under technology and electronics, with the category accounting for 34% of sales driven by Twitter and 25% by Facebook. As for Pinterest, the top category was food and drink (24%).

Which type of retail store or site did they buy from? Facebook users mostly purchased from a discount retailer (43%) and supermarket (18%). Discount retailer also ranked first for Twitter (31%) and Pinterest (26%). Twitter users also bought from a department store (31%) while Pinterest users purchased from a specialty retailer (21%).

The Social Buyer: Dissected & Analyzed

The social buyer exists, and is mostly (51%) between the age of 18 and 34. The 35-54 age group represents 34% of social purchasers while the 55+ age group accounts for the remaining 15% or so. Divided by sex, 56% are male and 44% are female.

The demographics change when mobile comes into the picture. The ratio between males and females further favors males, 69:31. The 18-34 age group grows to 68% of the total number of social purchasers using mobile. Facebook (43%) and Pinterest (38%) purchases are mostly not mobile but 35% of Twitter-driven purchases are purely mobile.

So what’s inside the mind of a social buyer? A whopping 70% of Twitter user-purchasers said they were “vaguely” thinking about purchasing the product at the time they bought it. Facebook (60%) and Pinterest (49%) users had the same mindset when they bought a product, adds Vision Critical. The difference surfaces in buyers who “had not thought about purchasing this product” when they bought it. Only 9% of Twitter user-purchasers fall under this group while the figure is 16% for Facebook. Pinterest appears to be the best site for unplanned purchases as 29% their social buyers weren’t even thinking about buying such item when purchased it.

How to Appeal to Your Social Buyer

Use a Specific Network’s Purchasing Influence – Auto posting the same exact stuff on all your social accounts is not the best way to approach social media. If you want to get social-inspired sales, you must understand how a particular network or social website influences a customer’s purchase decision. For example, 43% of Pinterest purchasers said they were influenced by the “additional information on the product,” according to Vision Critical. This means Pinterest is a great choice when providing product details, reviews and recommendations, different models, etc.

For identifying where prospects can purchase the product, 38% of buyers used Twitter. When alerting to a sale or deal, 37% credited Facebook and 32% Twitter. Some 32% got reminders to purchase through Twitter. But when it comes to providing a coupon code, the race is tight between Facebook (18%), Pinterest (14%), and Twitter (18%). The product discovery contest is also close: Facebook (31%), Pinterest (35%), and Twitter (35%).

Network Where Your Targets Are – Leading data firm comScore estimates 80% of Pinterest users are female. Repinly, an online pin directory, says the most popular Pinterest categories are as follows: food & drink, DIY and crafts, women’s apparel, and home décor. Head over to Google+ and the world turns upside down. According to SocialStatistics, nearly 87% of Google+ users are male. Students, early adopters, and engineers are some of the biggest groups. Go to LinkedIn and you’ll find a healthy balance of professionals from both sexes.

The idea is to analyze which site best suits your target market’s profile and then start your social media optimization campaign in that network. This strategy not only gives your marketing direction some focus, it also maximizes your resources.

Get Started in Focused Social Media Today – You can use social media optimization not just to get a legion of followers, but also to generate sales; a fact that’s already been proven across multiple industries worldwide. The best approach right now is to get started—if you haven’t already—and give it focus to ensure you influence social buyers to purchase your products and avail of your services today. We can help you.

Need help with social media, attracting social purchasers, understanding your customer, and generating more sales from social networks? Call us now or send us a message to schedule your free consultation on Social Media Optimization.

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    • admin
    • January 1, 2014
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    • admin
    • January 1, 2014
    Reply

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat

      • admin
      • January 1, 2014
      Reply

      Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.