Category Archives: Local Marketing

Why Slogans Matter

As the general election officially began, we set out to review the very basics - campaign slogans.

These short sound bites are designed, to sum up, the candidates’ overall positions and platforms in just a few easily repeatable words. The idea behind a campaign slogan is twofold: 1) convince voters to choose that candidate, and 2) create easy repeatability that can be chanted, repeated to friends, and maybe even go viral.

So how did the two major candidates do with their slogans? Without considering the issues, the candidates’ likeability, their platforms, or any other factor that will sway voters this November, let’s dissect just the actual slogans.

Hillary Clinton: We’re Stronger Together

With a lifetime of politics under her belt, including stints as First Lady, Secretary of State, and United States Senator, Hillary Clinton should be a master of campaign slogans, right? Yet an analysis shows that her slogan is not quite up to par. Here’s why:

1. Evoking Socialism: Hillary Clinton fought a fierce battle in the primaries against Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders. The fact that she beat him indicates that perhaps her party, nevermind America as a whole, rejected that particular ideal. Presumably, Clinton’s team is hoping to draw in Sanders’ fervent supporters, but the vaguely socialist connotation of the slogan’s word choice could be a risk in the national election.

 

2. Copycat Branding: Donald Trump has run his entire campaign on the idea that he is the strong, tough leader that America needs. No matter what you think of him, the bravado some might say is the total of what he is offering. While the Clinton campaign appears to be trying to differentiate its candidate by pointing out that no one person is as strong as an entire community working together, that idea is a bit high-minded for a slogan. Using the word “strong” enhances the appearance that Clinton is responding to Trump rather than defining the narrative herself.

 

3. Possible Alienation of Voters: Studies consistently show that the word “together” evokes the stereotypically feminine ideals of cooperation and empathy. Its use in a campaign slogan also implies that we should all aspire to work cooperatively with others. That message resonates with those who embrace those ideas, but what of those who embody the stereotypically male traits of independence, stoicism – the refusal to ask for directions? It will be a tough sell to convince these voters that they should suddenly reject individualism and embrace cooperation.

 

Donald Trump: Make America Great Again

Donald Trump’s brash, arrogant, dismissive manner has earned him rebukes and outright disdain from large segments of the voting public, and even key members of his own party. No matter what you think of him, the numbers show that he is a highly polarizing figure. Surely his campaign slogan is just as boorish and inflammatory, right? Surprisingly, he seems to have hit the mark with a slogan that will resonate with quite a few voters. Here’s how:

1. Aspirational Wording: Wherever your personal politics fall, and whatever your view of the issues, it is hard to deny that making America great is an excellent goal. The fact that the word “great” is so nebulous and non-specific makes this even stronger, as each person is free to project his or her unique vision of an ideal, ‘great’ America onto it.

 

2. American Identity: The inclusion of the word “America” suggests patriotism and national pride. We might all be wildly different from each other, but we all think of ourselves as Americans and are proud of that identity.

 

3. Loss and Hope: Notice that the slogan doesn’t tell us to make America great. It tells us to make America great *again*, suggesting that we were once great, but lost our way. However, the slogan assures us, we can make it right. Tapping into very primal emotions that acknowledge our individual and collective grief, and gives us hope for the future.

 

4. Nonthreatening and Inarguable Word Choices: While Clinton’s slogan uses a high-minded appeal to the power of collectivism, Trump’s slogan is intentionally so vague as to be all-inclusive. There is no direct way to disagree with the slogan’s content, it does not highlight any particular viewpoint, and it is simplistic enough to make an excellent soundbite.

Of course, elections are not decided by campaign slogans. Debates, press conferences, social media, and many other factors will play into the final results. Still, in a tightly contested race, every element matters. A slogan should provide a simple, tightly focused message in a compact package that is easy to remember and repeat. The power of a well-designed slogan should never be overlooked, as you never know when it might tip an undecided voter into one column or the other.

Disclaimer: Internal polling of First Source Interactive employees shows support for both candidates as well as neither. We will focus our election analysis on the branding and marketing aspects of the campaign and avoid political positions (which don’t matter anyway).

13 Points to Consider When Setting Up a Google AdWords Campaign

As 2015 draws to a close, time to develop your digital marketing plan is quickly running out. Whether you are suffering from writer’s block or you simply cannot focus on drinking a bit too much eggnog, the following 4-step guide should help give you a kick start. However, before we look at the points, it is important to clear up a common misconception many people have about marketing by answering one question:

 Is your marketing plan trying to answer the wrong question?

I can bet that you and your marketing team are smart – probably even much smarter than I am. However, it makes no sense to be smart but uses your skills and knowledge to answer the wrong question! Let me illustrate this point with an example: a couple of years ago, our company carried out a survey of more than 100 business owners, asking them one question:

“What is the #1 thing you would like to know about digital marketing?”

As is to be expected, the responses were varied, but most of them followed a common theme. Many of the business owners polled wanted to know, “Is there one marketing tactic that I can use to give me the best Return on Investment (ROI)?”

I am pretty confident that if we polled business owners again today, we would get the same question coming up because it is one that our clients keep asking us. Chances are you are also looking for the answer to this issue too!

If you have asked yourself this question, then this article should make it clear that no single tactic or strategy gives the best ROI. When developing your marketing plan, you should not look to find a single ‘holy grail’ trick. What your strategy should do instead is to combine multiple channels to come up with a unified way to improve your ROI.

Now that we have got that out of the way, we can now move to the four steps to creating a successful digital marketing plan.

Step 1: Define Your Goals For 2016

The most crucial step of planning your marketing strategy is determining your goals. However, you should not just have any goals; they should be SMART goals. This is a mnemonic which means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Each of your strategy’s goals must meet each of those criteria.

Specific

It is common to hear business owners set vague goals like ‘we need more leads’ or ‘we should increase our sales.’ However, these are not real goals. How many more leads does the business need? How much growth is the company aiming for in 2016? If your goals are already set, be prepared to review them and make them as accurate as possible.

Measurable

You must have measurable goals so that you know what progress you are making toward achieving them. When carrying out your digital marketing efforts, Google Analytics can help you to measure how close or far you are from achieving your goals.

Achievable

Although it is a lot of fun to dream big and set your sights high, it is important that you give yourself targets that can be achieved within the next 12 months. The goals you set should not demoralize, but be a source of excitement and motivation.

Relevant

Does your goal matter in the bigger picture of your business’ success? Achieving your goals should have a direct impact on your bottom line. A #1 Google ranking for ‘New York pediatric surgeon’ is a goal that is specific, measurable and could be achievable, but does no good for the business of a doctor who does not deal with children.

Time-Bound

Because you are preparing your goals for 2016, the deadline for the achievement of your goals is December 31, 2016. Because some of your goals can (and should) be possible to achieve by then, set an appropriate completion date. Having deadlines for your goals is a great motivator to reaching them.

Step 2: Work Backwards When Defining Your Monthly Goals and KPIs

By this point, you should have set your goals. For example, your goal could be to generate sales of $1,000,000 in the next 12 months. This would be a reasonable SMART goal if your business generated less than a million dollars in 2013.

Your next step is to figure out the future date you expect to hit this target and then work backwards. This is a major step as it allows you to identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you must track to achieve your goal eventually.

Although it may sound strange, a simple way to do this is to start by assuming it is December 31, 2016. Write down what the performance of your business looked like that month. Picturing what your future would look like is a simple mind game that is, however, a critical part of planning for 2016.

This exercise will help you answer questions like how many sales were necessary for December to hit your 2016 goal? To generate the $1 million mentioned above, is necneeded to generate $83,333 every month over 12 months. Of course, this is an oversimplified figure as you should plan to have growth month over month from January to December.

So, how many sales are necessary to generate $83,333 every month? If you have an average customer value of $500, you will need 167 sales every month. The next question is: To make 167 sales, how many leads do you require? If your lead conversion rate is 10%, you need to attract 1,670 leads. Looking at your website’s historical analytics figures, you may find that your visitor to lead conversion also stands at 10%. This means you need to have 16,700 visitors to your website every month to hit your sales target.

This example shows how working backwards makes it simple to identify KPIs for your business.

 Step 3: Get Real

The third step in developing an effective marketing plan for 2016 is to check your goals against the KPIs in step 2. Given your traffic statistics, is it possible for you to achieve visitor numbers of over 16,000 every month? Are the conversion rates you used attainable when measured against similar businesses or your historical data?

Getting the answers to these questions requires a fair bit of research and probably some expert third-party advice. The key issue is whether you generate enough traffic to help you achieve your goals. For instance, Google’s Keyword Planner may indicate that there are 100,000 searches every month for the product or service you offer; is it possible for your SEO and Google Adwords to deliver 16,000 visitors to your website?

Although 16% of all the searches for your keyword may not look like much, it is important to remember that – for most businesses – a 2% AdWords click through rate can be termed a successful campaign. It is recommended that you seek the advice of a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) expert to ensure that the goals you have set are achievable and realistic. If you discover that you have set unattainable goals, do not be ashamed to revise them. It is better to do this at the beginning than to spend 12 months chasing shadows.

Step 4: Assign Responsibilities

The last step of developing your strategy should be relatively straightforward. This move involves assigning a member of your team the responsibility for the implementation and measurement of monthly progress. If your plans for growth are big, you may need to hire someone specifically for this task, or outsource it to a different company.

Creating A Digital Marketing Plan For 2016

As 2015 draws to a close, time to develop your digital marketing plan is quickly running out. Whether you are suffering from writer’s block or you simply cannot focus from drinking a bit too much eggnog, the following 4-step guide should help give you a kick start. However, before we look at the points, it is important to clear up a common misconception many people have about marketing by answering one question:

 Is your marketing plan trying to answer the wrong question?

I can bet that you and your marketing team are smart – probably even much smarter than I am. However, it makes no sense to be smart but use your skills and knowledge to answer the wrong question! Let me illustrate this point with an example: a couple of years ago, our company carried out a survey of more than 100 business owners, asking them one question:

“What is the #1 thing you would like to know about digital marketing?”

As is to be expected, the responses were varied, but most of them followed a common theme. Many of the business owners polled wanted to know, “Is there one marketing tactic that I can use to give me the best Return on Investment (ROI)?”

I am pretty confident that if we polled business owners again today, we would get the same question coming up because it is one that our clients keep asking us. Chances are you are also looking for the answer to this question too!

If you have asked yourself this question, then this article should make it clear that there is no single tactic or strategy that gives the best ROI. When developing your marketing plan, you should not look to find a single ‘holy grail’ trick. What your strategy should do instead is to combine multiple channels in order to come up with a unified way to improve your ROI.

Now that we have got that out of the way, we can now move to the 4 steps to creating a successful digital marketing plan.

Step 1: Define Your Goals For 2016

The most crucial step of planning your marketing strategy is defining your goals. However, you should not just have any goals; they should be SMART goals. This is a mnemonic which means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Each of your strategy’s goals must meet each of those criteria.

Specific

It is common to hear business owners set vague goals like ‘we need more leads’ or ‘we should increase our sales.’ However, these are not real goals. How many more leads does the business need? How much growth is the business aiming for in 2016? If your goals are already set, be prepared to review them and make them as specific as possible.

Measurable

You must have measurable goals so that you know what progress you are making toward achieving them. When carrying out your digital marketing efforts, Google analytics can help you to measure how close or far you are from achieving your goals.

Achievable

Although it is a lot of fun to dream big and set your sights high, it is important that you give yourself targets that can be achieved within the next 12 months. The goals you set should not demoralize, but be a source of excitement and motivation.

Relevant

Does your goal matter in the bigger picture of your business’ success? Achieving your goal should have a direct impact on your bottom line. A #1 Google ranking for ‘New York pediatric surgeon’ is a goal that is specific, measurable and could be achievable, but does no good for the business of a doctor who does not deal with children.

Time-Bound

Because you are preparing your goals for 2016, the deadline for the achievement of your goals is December 31, 2016. Because some of your goals can (and should) be possible to achieve by then, set an appropriate completion date. Having deadlines for your goals is a great motivator to achieving them.

Step 2: Work Backwards When Defining Your Monthly Goals and KPIs

By this point, you should have set your goals. For example, your goal could be to generate sales of $1,000,000 in the next 12 months. This is a possible SMART goal if your business generated less than a million dollars in 2013.

Your next step is to figure out the future date you expect to hit this target and then work backwards. This is an important step as it allows you to identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you must track to eventually achieve your goal.

Although it may sound strange, a simple way to do this is to start by assuming it is December 31, 2016. Write down what the performance of your business looked like that month. Picturing what your future would look like is a simple mind game that is, however a critical part of planning for 2016.

This exercise will help you answer questions like: how many sales were necessary in December to hit your 2016 goal? To generate the $1 million mentioned above, it is necessary to generate $83,333 every month over 12 months. Of course, this is an oversimplified figure as you should plan to have growth month over month from January to December.

So, how many sales are necessary to generate $83,333 every month? If you have an average customer value of $500, you will need 167 sales every month. The next question is: To make 167 sales, how many leads do you require? If your lead conversion rate is 10%, you need to attract 1,670 leads. Looking at your website’s historical analytics figures, you may find that your visitor to lead conversion also stands at 10%. This means you need to have 16,700 visitors to your website every month in order to hit your sales target.

This example shows how working backwards makes it simple to identify KPIs for your business.

 Step 3: Get Real

The third step in developing an effective marketing plan for 2016 is to check your goals against the KPIs in step 2. Given your traffic statistics, is it possible for you to achieve visitor numbers of over 16,000 every month? Are the conversion rates you used attainable when measured against similar businesses or your own historical data?

Getting the answers to these questions requires a fair bit of research and probably some expert third-party advice. The key question is whether you generate enough traffic to help you achieve your goals. For instance, Google’s Keyword Planner may indicate that there are 100,000 searches every month for the product or service you offer; is it possible for your SEO and Google Adwords to deliver 16,000 visitors to your website?

Although 16% of all the searches for your keyword may not look like much, it is important to remember that – for most businesses – a 2% AdWords click through rate can be termed a successful campaign. It is recommended that you seek the advice of a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) expert to ensure that the goals you have set are achievable and realistic. If you discover that you have set unattainable goals, do not be ashamed to revise them. It is better to do this at the beginning than to spend 12 months chasing shadows.

Step 4: Assign Responsibilities

The last step of developing your strategy should be fairly straightforward. This step involves assigning a member of your team the responsibility for the implementation and measurement of monthly progress. If your plans for growth are big, you may need to hire someone specifically for this task, or outsource it to a different company.

Understanding Search Intent

Search intent’ is what lies behind every keyword used in internet search. In order to get a clearer picture of this concept, it is essential for you to look at the search process from the point of view of the person who is searching for the term you are considering for SEO. This will help you to better understand what the person is really looking for.

By carrying out this exercise, you will discover that most keywords can be put under one of two main search intent categories, namely:

  1. Research intent

  2. Buying intent

It goes without saying that the keywords categorized under research intent are those that people type into a search engine when their sole aim is looking to gain more knowledge on the particular keyword. For example, due to spending long hours seated at my desk, I started to experience episodes of back pain. I therefore searched Google for ‘back pain.’ The search resulted in several articles that outlined the causes and possible cures for back pain.

On the other hand, the keywords classified under buying intent are phrases that people type into search engines when they are looking to buy a product or service. In my case, it only took me a short while to realize that there are several products that have proven to be effective remedies for back pain such as anti-inflammatory drugs. I did not require any drugs, but if I did, I would likely have searched for a term like ‘anti-inflammatory chemists NYC.’ It is easy to see that this example keyword has much more buying intent than the initial search for ‘back pain.’

Now that you have a grasp of the concept of search intent, we will investigate how you can tailor your SEO strategy to take advantage of this knowledge.

Focus Your Efforts on Buying Intent Keywords

It can be easy to lose sight of the fact that SEO should aim to ultimately drive sales, not just help gain a higher Google ranking. Keeping this in mind, SEO efforts should be concentrated on buying intent keywords and phrases instead of research intent keywords.

If you fail to do this, you will end up wasting a lot of your time and investing a lot of money on keywords that boost your search rankings but do not drive any sales.

To be clear, focusing on buying intent does not mean completely ignoring research intent keywords; there is a lot of value to be found by ranking high for these types of keywords, but buying intent keywords should be your initial focus. In order for this to happen, your on-page optimization for the product or service should be relevant to buying intent.

Once your product or service pages have been fully optimized for buying intent keywords, you need to expand your focus to research intent keywords. However, this will need you to take a slightly different approach.

Using Research Intent Keywords to Widen Your Marketing Funnel

As I mentioned above, it is easy for you to target buying intent keywords because it is a matter of simply optimizing the relevant product pages on your website. In order to target keywords for research intent, it is likely that you will have to create new pages on your website. Often, the best way to do this is to create a completely new section of your website (for example, a Resource Center) which would contain pages that have information relevant to your industry and are optimized for the necessary research intent keywords. A blog also works as well as a Resource Center in this aspect.

Widening your marketing funnel in this way – through targeting of research intent keywords – ensures that you are able to capture prospective buyers much earlier within the sales cycle. For instance, I did not know anything about the various pain medications available when I was researching back pain.

After I had completed researching back pain, guess the product I would have bought if I felt I needed treatment for my back pain? You guessed right – I would be more inclined to purchase the product sold by the business that offered me the most useful information on the causes, symptoms and remedies for back pain. Put simply, publishing useful information that is optimized for people searching for research intent keywords helps you reach your prospective customers even before they know they require your product or service.

Of course, for this to be effective there is a catch…

A Lead Magnet Is Necessary

For effective conversion of traffic from research intent SEO to sales, it is vital to find a way to capture your visitors’ contact information and use it to follow up and pitch your product or service. Failing to do this will mean that you offer visitors to your website plenty of useful educational information, but they leave your website to purchase from a competitor.

A Lead Magnet is the most effective method of capturing visitor contact information. A lead magnet is valuable content that you offer to your website visitors for free, such as a checklist, guide, informational eBook or coupon in exchange for completing a form. Upon collecting the email address of your prospect, you will be able to do a follow-up message with more information regarding your product or service.

Your approach to SEO will mainly depend on the search intent of the phrases and keywords that you would like to rank for. The first step you should take is to optimize the pages that have details of your product or service for buying intent search phrases, and then optimize your general information pages for research intent keywords. You may then use a lead magnet, which is a tool to help convert researchers into buyers.

Google AdWords: Search vs. Display Networks

A major gripe for me and many other advertisers online is the way Google pushes advertisers to target both their Search results and Display networks whenever they set up their AdWords campaigns. According to Google, when an advertiser first sets up their AdWords campaign, targeting both networks provides an opportunity for them to reach more customers.

While, technically, this is true, it is not a very good idea. In this article, we will examine why targeting both networks in the same way is a bad idea so that you can avoid the trap of targeting these two very different networks with the same AdWords campaign.

Understanding the Search and Display Networks and Their Differences

When most people think of Google AdWords, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the ads that are displayed alongside search results on Google.com. These ads are run on the Search network. The beauty of the Search network is that it offers advertisers the chance to show prospects highly targeted advertising when they are looking for a particular product or service.

The Google Search network is very similar to the old Yellow Pages. This is because prospects would ‘search’ for a particular item in the Yellow Pages when they were ready to buy, which meant that businesses could advertise whatever products or services they were offering alongside the regular listings. Today, most people use Google.com to search for the products or services they need, with the Search network acting as the new Yellow Pages.

On the other hand, Google’s Display network works completely independently of the Google.com search. The Display network is powered by a service known as AdSense, which places ads on a variety of independent websites whose owners are looking to earn money when people view or click on the ads. Any website owner can sign up to AdSense and place the Display network ads on their website. Advertisers can then target these web pages. Google’s statistics indicate that there are more than 2 million websites which use AdSense today, giving you an idea of just how large the network is.

To understand the difference between the two networks, it is essential to understand that when you advertise on the Display network, your campaign is not targeting people who may be looking for your products or services. Instead, you are advertising to the people who are visiting any one of the websites on the Display network. This fact leads us to the first point you need to understand when advertising with Google:

#1. Your Ad Message Should Match the Relevant Network

Whenever someone visits Google.com and searches for a particular product or service, you are almost guaranteed that they have an immediate need. For example, if a prospect searches for a ‘locksmith in Denver,’ it is fairly obvious what the person wants. This person clearly has an immediate need for someone who fixes or repairs locks in Denver, or else they wouldn’t have taken the time to enter that particular search phrase in Google.

With this in mind, you can then tailor your Search network ad copy so that it is a precise match for the keywords the person searched for. This will ensure that you offer them the best option. Because your prospect typed the search phrase ‘locksmith in Denver,’ the ad you place on the Search network should make it clear that you are a locksmith who operates out of Denver and have a call-to-action to encourage the person to get in touch with you.

On the other hand, let us consider a person who is surfing the internet and reading an article that explains how a deadbolt lock is installed. While it is clear that this person would like to know how locks are installed, you cannot be certain that they actually want or need a locksmith. Unlike the prospect who visits Google.com and types in a search phrase, there is no way to know if this individual has an immediate need – therein lies the difference! In this particular case, the ad campaign you place on the display network should be aimed at convincing the person that getting a locksmith is their best option if they would like to install a deadbolt correctly.

It is fairly obvious from the two examples above that the ad copy you choose for the Search network has to be different from that which you use to advertise on the Display network. It would therefore be impossible for you to effectively match your ad message to the network. As a result, it is therefore a bad idea to use a single campaign to target both advertising networks.

After we understand the importance of matching the ad copy to the relevant network, we can then move the concept to the next level:

#2. Ensure That Ads Match Contextually and Behaviorally

When we looked at the example of the Display network ad above, we were working on the assumption that the ad campaign had been targeted at a contextually relevant webpage that talked about how to install a deadbolt lock. This is the simplest form of targeting available when using Google’s Display network to match the keywords within your ad to relevant web pages on the more than 2 million websites that use AdSense.

Another option available to advertisers who use Google ads is behavioral targeting. This works by showing your ads to individuals whose internet browsing history indicates that they may be interested in purchasing your product or service. For example, if I visit many home décor and home improvement websites, with time, the Google search engine figures that I am interested in this particular area and will put me within an audience group that may be called ‘home improvement.’ Behavioral targeting allows advertisers like interior decorators, painters, plumbers or locksmiths to easily select an audience of people that will be more likely to be interested in the products or services they have to offer.

Now that you are suitably armed with knowledge of how contextual and behavioral targeting works, all you need to do to ensure that your campaigns are more effective is to ensure that your ad copy matches your targeting options. The better you get at matching your copy to your targeting options, the higher the number of clicks your ads will generate.

Update on Pinterest Place Pins

Background

Pinterest has more than 70 million users worldwide. It’s no surprise that the engaging social network has quickly become one of the most popular social media networks in the world. The platform demonstrates the power of visual content in advertising and marketing on a mobile scale. With its successful acquisition of users so quickly, Pinterest decided to monetize its reach in the market with ad opportunities for businesses with the introduction of Promoted Pins. However, other pins are useful to your business as well, such as Article Pins, Place Pins, and Product Pins. The focus of this article will be on Pinterest Place Pins.

What are Pinterest Place Pins?

Pinterest Place Pins are location-based destination and travel markers that users can highlight. These pins contain detailed information on a selected location’s map, address, and phone number. There are now more than 750 million destinations pinpointed by Place Pins. Now with Place Pins’ move to iPad, its potential for adoption by users is greater than ever. Place Pins are currently free to use for travel affectionados, but its monetization future certainly exists for businesses.

How do we use Pinterest Place Pins?

Businesses can create Place Boards enabling them to highlight their business as prime destinations for travelers. The boards offer the same functionality as a regular Pinterest board, except they are tied to a specific locale. Use high quality images to grab the attention of your audience and enhance your presence. Integrate GIFs into your boards to add another level of variety to your board.

How does this help my business?

If you want more customers coming to your business, as well as another local citation to connect to your web presence, we recommend you take advantage of Place Pins. They are the perfect way to start promoting your services without breaking the bank on your marketing budget. Not only that, but they bring in targeted traffic to both your brick-and-mortar place of business, website, and mobile app.

Place Pins are making waves for local businesses and customers, so don’t be late to get in on this effective marketing tool. Its inclusion on mobile is only going to further intensify the latent reach of your business’s online visibility.

What do you guys think of Pinterest Place Pins and its release on Apple’s Ipad? Are you planning on using Place Pins to reach a broader audience? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Top 5 Local SEO News Stories from 2013

2013 was one of the best years for local SEO. More businesses took the time to optimize their sites for Google local search capabilities. Social media networks, like Google Plus and Pinterest, integrated local features to increase small businesses’ local visibility.

Moreover, this is just the beginning of what’s to come for your local presence in 2014!

We saw some excellent local marketing stories in the last year, and we think it’s appropriate to point out some of the top exciting posts to bring back into the fold.

Here are our 2013 first draft picks!

1. Foursquare Introduces Ads For Small Businesses

Foursquare has had its fair share of criticisms from the tech community, mainly centered around struggling to make profits. The company’s latest effort in getting business to pay for its service are Foursquare Ads for Small Business. Will this the defining moment Foursquare’s history, or is this the final nail in the coffin? Only time will tell.

2. Pinterest Moves Into Travel After Launching New Tools to Help Users Plan Trips

Pinterest moves into the local business niche with its latest product, Pinterest Place Pins. While it gives consumers the ability to mark travel destinations and find highlights of exotic locales, this is also a chance for local businesses to market themselves in a new way. Hats off to the folks at Pinterest for recognizing this underserved niche of the market.

3.  Did Hummingbird Just Kill Your Local SEO?

Google Hummingbird pulls off the big Google search update of the year, which had marketers up in arms about keyword data. Of course, this update affected local SEO, but not as bad as most people instinctively thought. Despite detailed keyword data no longer being provided, local business are given the chance to augment their visibility for humanized search syntax.

4. Google Unveils New Local Search Results Display

Google drove drastic changes to its local search results display with the introduction of image carousels. Including this update directly in SERPs gave customers another parameter to judge businesses. In terms of leveling the playing field, Google’s image carousel is a huge step forward, allowing businesses the opportunity to attract additional customers.

5. Meet the New Google Maps

Finally, the Google Maps we know and love gets a stylish new upgrade. Google aims to create a map platform for every person and place and Google’s goal with this map update was to provide a dynamic and specific entry for each person. Making the map more immersive and engaging also served to build a deeper connection with the user. Google Maps is a welcome change to one of the best map platforms in the market.

We cannot wait to see what lies ahead in 2014 for local SEO! For now, let’s bid 2013 a fond farewell!

Our top five local SEO news stories from 2013 are described above. What were some of your favorite memories of the year past? Keep us posted in the comments below!

Top 10 Blogs to Learn About Local SEO

Local SEO is one of the most important aspects for any local business. From anchor text to geo-targeted listings, competitor analysis, and customer reviews, local search offers many advantages and tactics. Among local search’s many benefits, businesses can earn targeted rankings, sales, visits, and dedicated customers. In order to get as informed on this specific section of web marketing, it is important for your business to read content from top blogs on the subject.

Below we’ve compiled the top 10 blogs to learn about local SEO. Don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of some of them! We advise you delve into these authority blogs, and put some of these skills to the test on your own local website.

Balihoo Blog – Balihoo Blog generates content on ad builders, local marketing, and media planning. The material consists of local marketing trends and social media pointers. The white papers on the Balihoo Blog are also worthwhile.

Blumenthals – We welcome another top authority on the short list of top local blogs named Mike Blumenthal. He keeps track of local updates to Google and Google Plus, while chronicling changes in local SEO requirements.

Search Engine Land – Search Engine Land is an immense content resource that not only delves into local search but all other aspects of inbound marketing as well. This blog pumps content out on a consistent basis, so don’t feel wiped out if you can’t keep up. That being said, time to get reading!

Local Marketing Boost – Local Marketing Boost takes note of the news surrounding local web and publishes opinions on new local tools. This blog is another superb resource to keep you posted on what’s happening.

Local SEO Guide – Andrew Shotland’s blog highlights local SEO updates and current events involving local marketing. We think you’ll love his personal touch to inbound marketing in general.

Local Visibility System – If you are looking for a top local marketing expert, look no further than the Local Visibility System blog! The blog owner, Phil Rozek, provides step-by-step guides on how to submit your site to local directories, local SEO insights, and more.

LocalU – Another strong blog is LocalU. It completes walkthroughs of creating local listings, local pages for your site, and more. This blog partners with Moz and provides high quality information for business owners.

LocalVox – LocalVox is a local, mobile, and social marketing platform all in one. The blog offers advice for entrepreneurs and small businesses to take control of their branding and messaging. LocalVox’s advice is top notch, so give it a look!

Marketing Pilgrim – Want to grab the most up-to-date news with local companies and social media? Marketing Pilgrim has it in spades. With its large editing crew, and diverse range of topics, you find there are a lot of learnings to sift through in the archives.

Street Fight Mag – Street Fight Magazine is one of the top local marketing publications for small businesses. With its case studies and current event reports published daily, not many other resources provide better quality information than this blog.

What local SEO blogs do you frequent on a regular basis? Let us know what other local sites we’ve missed in the comments section below.

Quick Ways to Build a Yelp Listing

Background

Creating a Yelp listing is an effective backlink strategy for your business’s online visibility. This directory is highly trafficked by millions of businesses and customers alike.

Yelp proves beneficial for both parties: Customers get to express themselves and their experiences with the business, while the business takes the opportunity to respond accordingly. As a result, websites will be able to maintain a more positive relevancy as long as they maintain their listing.

Here are some facts to consider before you decide to join Yelp:

1. More than 108 million users visit businesses through Yelp a month. That’s a lot of visibility.

2. At least 42 million reviews have been written for local businesses.

3. Every business owner gets a free account to contact their customers and post photos.

Now without further ado, let’s make a quick and easy Yelp listing for your business:

Adding a Listing

1. Click here to begin the process of claiming your business.

2. Hit “Claim my business” in the middle of the page.

3. You will find out if your site is already listed once you type in your Address and Business Name. If it is not found, go ahead and create a new listing.

4. If your business does not show up in the results page, click “Add your listing to Yelp” at the bottom of the page. Otherwise, next to your listing, you have the option to “Unlock” it by entering basic user information and agreeing to the terms of service.

5. If you are continuing on to add a new listing, enter in all of your information under “Add Your Business.” Take care in making sure the information is correct.

6. Click the “Add” button at the end after double-checking your business data.

7. A message will appear on the next screen asking you to verify your account through email. Click the confirmation link to complete the process.

Quick Tips on Content and Communication

  • Similar to social media best practices, Yelp users need content to stay engaged. We suggest putting up visual media content on your listing that positively represent your business. Taking the time to prepare quality photos, slideshows, and even videos demonstrates the level of support you put into your business.

  • Google pays attention to Yelp. We recommend adding in some targeted keywords to help boost your rankings.

  • Make sure that you respond to both positive and negative reviews. How you handle yourself with a bad review is just as, if not more, significant than how you respond to good feedback.

  • While it’s always important to develop conversations with customers on Yelp, it is bad practice to ask or solicit for reviews.

  • Take a look at your competitors’ Yelp pages. They may potentially give you ideas on how to position your listing to attract a new group of customers to your business.

What do you think of using Yelp to aid in your business growth? If you have experience or thoughts on the subject, please post them in the comments below.