Most of the articles related to SEO and Marketing are all about giving you answers. This blog post is going to focus on questions you should be asking yourself, especially if you are a small business owner thinking about online marketing strategies, tactics and results. If you think I missed something, feel free to add a comment to help make the article better.
Here are some of the questions small business owners should be asking:
1.) How do the search results look for my companies name?
Why it matters: If you are ranking well for your main keywords, are you ranking well for your company name? How about your president/owner’s name? Many customers simply type in your company name into search engines and learn as much as they can before they start doing business with you. This is where reputation management comes into play. Reputation management is becoming more and more popular. One angry customer with an authoritative blog (a blog that ranks high in search engines) can wreak havoc on a company.
What should you do?
- Type your company name into Google, Yahoo and Bing. I would do this at least once a month, do it more often if your company has a lot of visibility.
- Also type in the name of the Company President/Company Owner and other public known employees.
- Use services like Google Alerts, Yahoo Alerts and/or Bing Alerts – for your company name and other keywords.
2.) Did I put all my eggs in one basket? Am I getting traffic/sales/revenue from a variety of resources?
Why it matters: Relying on one source of traffic, customers or other marketing strategies is dangerous. That’s why when you choose a SEO Company, or Online Marketing Company, you should be sure that the company you choose is versatile in attacking all fronts of internet marketing (Social Media Marketing, Video Marketing, etc..)
What should I do?
- Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC) would be a good place to start, if you don’t already have it in place.
- Social Media Marketing (SMM) is the new wave of brand recognition advertising and marketing. This includes using social media communities like Twitter and FaceBook to build your company’s presence on the web.
- Do not assume that SEO alone will always send you customers and traffic. You have to diversify. Search Engine Optimization includes SEO Optimized HTML – Meta Tags, Keyword Placement, etc..
- Start a blog to write yourself, or hire SEO Copywriters to ensure you have unique content posted at least once a week, or once a month to start out with. A blog can do wonders for your SEO strategy.
3.) Do I own my local business listings?
Why it matters: Do a search on Google Maps for your company location. Type in your company address and see what pops up….nothing? Well by adding your company locations to local business listing services like Google Maps and Yahoo! Local Business Listings – even MerchantCircle.com can be a valuable resource. Allows search engines to recognize where your face-to-face business resides. This helps when it comes to search engine optimization.
What should I do?
- Claim your business listings on sites like Bing, Google and Yahoo to start out with. Then try for other major local directories like InsiderPages, MerchantCircle, Citysearch and others. Then search for local business listing directories that are run by local companies (i.e. www.BestOfTampa.net)
- Build your local business listing profile as much as possible. Google allows you to link YouTube Videos to your local business listings. Most services let you add things like special coupons or discounts, hours of operation, pictures and contact information like phone numbers and website links.
4.) What are people saying about my business on Yahoo? Google? Bing? Yelp?
Why it matters: People buying things or signing up for business services rely heavily on reviews and ratings when making purchasing decisions. Nielsen released a study last year that suggested 90% of us trust recommendations from people we know, and 70% trust recommendations posted online by strangers (i.e., online reviews).
What should I do?
- Like I said before, make it a habit to check popular sites like Yahoo, Google and Bing for customer reviews, you will want to do this at least once a month. Of course, if your business gets a lot of reviews, you will want to check more often.
- Do not panic if you receive a negative review; Negative reviews can actually be good for business. Negative reviews make your business profile more trustworthy because a business that always provides “5 star service” can seem hard to believe.
- If it is possible to respond to the reviews, do so in a polite and professional manner. Google Places recently added the ability to respond to your customers comments.
5.) Am I using social media correctly?
Why it matters: Social media and the marketing that comes with the territory is only getting more popular. Nielsen says that 75% of online consumers around the world visit social media sites/blogs, and 22% of all time online is spent on social media sites. The average visitor spends 66% more time on social media sites than they did a year ago. If you do it right, Social Media Marketing is a great way to connect with consumers.
What should I do?
- At least claim your social media site profiles and hold them until you are ready to use them. A tool called KnowEm is great for securing your company name/accounts across multiple social networking sites.
- If you’re not sure which social networks to use, hire a company like CQuinnDesign.com to consult with about which social networks are right for you.
- Look for blogs in your industry and start reading them. When you have something intelligent to say, leave comments. Most blogs use a service called OpenID.net r which is basically a universal account in which you can create a profile that you can log into to leave comments on various blogs.
6.) Am I focusing on what matters?
Why it matters: Getting involved in techniques and strategies that do not help your company can be easily to do. Especially when every SEO Company or Social Media expert you run into claims to be the best. So working closely with a company like CQuinnDesign.com that tailors a strategy closely related to your business, and does not use “cookie-cutter” tactics can pay off in the long run.
What should I do?
- Consult with a specialty firm like CQuinnDesign.com that understands which metrics will work for your company. You want to make sure that the company is dynamic and can adjust to changes in the industry.
- Making sure that you have some sort of analytic set up on your website is a step in the right direction.
- Spend more time with your analytic data, make sure you know how many leads/sales/revenues you are driving from all your efforts. A company like CQuinnDesign.com will analyze this data on a monthly basis and form strategies on what your next move should be to bring in more leads, which then convert to sales, which ultimately converts to revenue.
7.) Am I earning trust with what I do online?
Why it matters: Trust is the number one factor in your business’s long-term success. If your customers can’t trust you, or your company – it will reflect on the internet through the use of social networks and comments left on your business listings on Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.. Amazon.com does not always have the lowest prices, but they do have trust.