Why Search Engine Optimization is a Long-Term Investment

When it comes to search engine optimization, there are so many things to consider before you get started that it might seem like an impossible task to take on. From meta tags to building backlinks, and from content marketing to social media, it seems there’s a million things you need to do to play the ranking game–and actually do well at it.

But SEO is a long-term investment. It’s not a “set it and forget it” type of process–it’s a fluid, ever-changing industry, and it takes a lot of knowledge and dedication to keep up with all the latest strategies. Before we get into that, though, take heart–There are some things you can do to get started immediately:

  • Make sure to list your business on Google + and as many major directories as possible. Defining keywords, linking to your website, and providing vital information about what your business does makes it easier for the search engines to index you.
  • On that note, make sure your address, phone number, and business name are listed consistently across all directories. Search engines can create duplicate listings for slight variations in addresses, and this creates confusion for customers who are searching for your services.
  • Build a website with an easy-to-navigate structure and visitor-friendly photos. Make sure you include meta tag descriptions, provide search engine-friendly alt tag descriptions on photos, and submit a site map to Google periodically. Updating your blog or at least providing fresh content is a must. And you should always make sure your link structure is clear to search engines. I.e., website.com/blog/how-to-install-a-faucet is great; website.com/22560 is not.

SEO is ever-changing and increasingly complex.

But the nature of the beast is that SEO is an ever-changing process. Google is always trying to make its algorithm more accurate–for example, when you think of how search functioned in the 90s versus now, they have improved a lot at returning relevant results! Why? Because Google has invested a lot of time into researching user intent, so that when someone types in a query, he or she gets more accurate results. Naturally, the company is going to continue doing their research and honing the algorithm in the years to come.

What does all of this have to do with Search Engine Optimization? Well, put simply, SEO is the process of getting a site “Google-ready”. SEO experts take current Google data and make sure that client sites comply with it, so that they’re ranked higher in comparison to their competitors.

SEO experts must work with an algorithm that is unknown to anyone–and still try to stay in Google’s good graces.

So basically, once you’ve achieved that ranking, if you’ve hired good SEO people, you’ll likely hold that spot for a long time to come.

However, sometimes Google makes SUCH drastic changes that while you may have been ranking on page one on Monday, suddenly on Tuesday, you’re not ranking at all. You soon discover that you are lacking now-important SEO elements or utilizing outdated techniques.

For example, “keyword density” used to be a big concern for SEOs. They advised that articles and content on sites contained keyword-rich articles, using the exact same grammar structures every time the keyword was used, even if it didn’t make sense in the context of the sentence. Back then, this was actually a way some people would “cheat” Google–just stuff keywords in some text and end up ranking on page one! (By the way, this is what’s known as “black hat” SEO–doing things simply to cheat the system–and black hat techniques will get you booted from page one on Google’s next update faster than you could imagine.)

Now, Google actually punishes people for stuffing keywords. And the search algorithm has become sophisticated enough that Google can understand changes in a query’s grammatical structure. What that means is that you no longer have to JUST search for “landscapers cheap Lexington” to get relevant results, but you could search for “cheap landscaper in Lexington” and get basically the same thing.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a screenshot. Take a look at the pages:

cheap-landscaper-lexingtonlandscapers-cheap-lexington

Yep, the majority are the same links. One just has a map, so they’re listed as Google + business listings, and that’s where you’ll spy the difference. But the point still stands. Google is really good at interpreting what the user is looking for–affordable landscapers in or around Lexington. Whether you word it like Yoda or an English professor, Google wants to help you out, and does a pretty good job at it!

SEO experts are in it for the long haul–and so are you.

Because Google is always changing, search engine optimization must follow suit. There are those out there who say SEO is dead (there’s always somebody saying that about ANYTHING, though) and there are others who say it will become obsolete as search engines grow closer and closer to behaving like human minds. But the fact is, the web is always changing. People build new websites. New businesses crop up, while others close their doors forever. It’s not enough to rank on page one today. You have to work with experts to make sure that you continue to rank on page one in the future too, whether Google releases a major update or another business moves into your vicinity. So until Google can read your mind and pull up the best business to match your personality (eep–that’s some scary stuff, isn’t it?), search engine optimization will be a thing. SEO is a long-term investment, and if you have a great business at your side, it will be worth it.

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.

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Back to Basics #11: 5 Small Business Marketing Ideas Anyone Can Do

small business marketing ideas
If you’re looking for small business marketing ideas, don’t fret–there are plenty of affordable ways to go about it.

Small business marketing is a tricky thing to get the hang of: Small business owners often struggle knowing when or how often to post updates on social media; what to post about or how to gather content ideas; or even when to start blogging or how to connect with potential readers. It can be overwhelming, to be sure, especially when you are strapped for time and have a limited budget. So in this article, we’re going to talk a bit about a few small business marketing ideas that anyone can do easily and cheaply—whether you’re completely new to online advertising or you’ve been trying your hand at it for a while and just aren’t seeing the results that you want.

  1. Develop a PR Strategy. As this article from Entrepreneur suggests, it’s important for all companies, particularly small businesses, to make sure that they have a PR strategy in place. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to have a large budget or spend a ton of time on it—in fact, small businesses can implement great PR campaigns into their social media strategies. Take the Kleenex example cited in the article: In 2011, Kleenex searched Facebook to find fifty people who posted about being sick. After getting into contact with friends and family members, they sent care packages to the ailing cold-sufferers. The recipients were so pleased that they posted happy pictures of their care packages. Great PR and usage of social media in one shot—and a very cheap maneuver.
  2. Start a podcast. Have you ever subscribed to a podcast? They’re great to listen to on the commute to work or in the morning while getting ready to head out for the day. And they’re also easy to make! As Inc.com suggests, you might want to try interviewing other business owners for their point of view on marketing or advertising. Or maybe you’d like to put together a podcast series of how-to’s—for example, plumbers or electrical contractors do very well with these types of podcasts. You can teach people how to do things they want to learn more about, while still drawing attention to your company. It’s a win-win situation!
  3. Forget advertising like the big brand names. While it’s perfectly fine to draw inspiration from popular advertising campaigns, you have to remember who the big companies are marketing to. They can reach far more people than you are able to, and they have the budget to pull it off. Don’t waste your time trying to dissect everything a large company does—instead, focus on how you can connect with your local customers in the best way possible. You could try hosting a photo captioning contest on Facebook where the winner gets a coupon. You could try running a “special offer” for a day if one of your tweets gets 50 retweets. Maybe sending out a postcard to your loyal customers is a good idea. Think about these types of marketing techniques and choose one that works for you.
  4. Networking with other small business owners. Nowadays, you can easily network online through sites such as LinkedIn. But nothing will ever replace the face-to-face value of networking in person. To meet other people in your industry, attend local seminars. Offer to speak at colleges or other events. If there are conventions in your area, look into speaking on a panel—or if not speaking, attend and ask questions. You could even try going to a book club or submit a press release to your local newspaper. By connecting with other small business owners, you’ll be able to better navigate the local scene and make yourself a go-to brand name in the town.
  5. Claim your online listings. Believe it or not, your business could already be listed on places like Google and Bing. The problem is that you haven’t claimed the listings yet. By claiming your own listings, you let your customers know that you exist, and you provide consistent information so that no matter which search engine they use to find you, your information will always be correct. Furthermore, claiming listings helps with online rankings, and once you are listed consistently across the internet, you’ll see more traffic being driven to your site!

Want more information on small business marketing ideas? Subscribe to our posts via email, or you can also like us on Facebook, follow Follow @InternetListing on Twitter and Pinterest, and circle us on Google Plus! Let us know how Internet Local Listings can best assist you with your small business marketing needs!

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Back to Basics #8: Social Media Trends: Do Small Businesses Need to Keep Up?

social-media-trends-for-small-businesses
Should small businesses keep up with new social media trends?

Small business owners: Are you tired of hearing about the importance of social media? Have you started up a Facebook page or Twitter account and decided that it’s just too much effort for too little payoff? Well, you’re not alone. Many small business owners feel that social media trends don’t offer a lot for their companies—what’s popular today might be gone in a couple of months, after all. And who wants to spend a lot of time building up a following just to find out that there’s another new social media network out there?

Unfortunately, you still need to be harnessing the power of social media. Even if you don’t keep up to date with social media trends, you will find that there are certain staples that are here to stay—at least for a few years. And that’s plenty of time for you to invest in your followers and customers to make sure they connect with your company.

The number of small businesses jumping on board with social media trends is only growing.

Did you know that…

  • 88% of small businesses use LinkedIn.
  • 84% of small businesses use Facebook.
  • 74% of small businesses use Twitter.
  • 58% of small businesses use Google+.

(statistics taken from HeidiCohen.com)

And the numbers are only growing. Many small business owners who haven’t begun social media marketing yet say that they plan on implementing a strategy within the next year. Those who already have often say that they want to step up marketing efforts and track results more carefully. If you’re in the former camp, check out our articles to learn more about what social media is, and how to develop effective social media marketing strategies on a small business budget.

Text and photos aren’t enough anymore—you need to try out videos.

Another one of the top social media trends for small businesses is the growing usage of YouTube. Companies are happily producing their own visual content for their customers. According to a small business survey conducted by Verticalresponse.com, 35% of the small businesses they surveyed said that they used YouTube as a part of their regular marketing efforts. With the number of free video creation programs available on the internet now, it’s become much easier for even the most non-artistic person to make informative, engaging, and SEO-friendly videos. You can actually have a lot of fun creating videos for your customers—think of them like visual blog articles. You can talk about a variety of subjects relating to your industry. For blogging ideas, check out our article here and apply some ideas to your video content. The videos don’t have to be stiff and “corporate” in appearance–you can make them as unique as your company.

But what about the competition? How do you keep up?

Yes, it’s true that your competition will likely be using social media just as you are. And it’s also true that as people join social media sites, you’ll have more competitors. You’ll be competing not only for business, but for your content to even be seen in the first place! Think about it: If the average Facebook user has, say, 300 friends, how many posts do you think they’ll see in a day? A lot. Now think of all the companies they’ve “liked”. There’s going to be a lot of competition to be seen on their news feed.

Unfortunately, as the user base for social media sites grows, the competition levels get continually tougher. And usually the only way around this is to start paying. You can pay for ads to be placed on a target demographic’s page, or you can “boost” your posts to make sure they stay on top of a news feed. You’re certainly not forced to do this by any means—but remember this as time goes on.

Whether you’re new to social media or you’ve been working on it for years, there’s no way around it: small businesses must stay on top of social media trends if they want to see organic growth online. This isn’t to say you must spend 24 hours a day on social media; however, with regular updates and time investment, you’ll see your engagement growing and your efforts paying off.

And if social media trends are just too much for you to handle right now…

If you need help managing your social media accounts, visit Internet Local Listings and take a look at our internet marketing packages. We’ll be happy to help you get whatever you need to be seen online–whether it’s social media, a new website, or local business listings!

How to Find the Best SEO Services for Small Business

seo services for small business
Even if you’re a company with two employees, you can afford effective SEO services for a small business.

If you’ve found your way to our blog, you’re probably doing research on how to find the best SEO services for small business. Chances are that you’re a small business owner yourself—or maybe family or friends are local business owners. Whatever the case may be, you’ve come to the right place. Internet Local Listings is an SEO company with over fifty years of combined experience in the internet marketing industry. And throughout the years, we’ve helped small businesses just like yours increase traffic to their websites.

Before you invest in an internet marketing company, there are a few things you should consider. At Internet Local Listings, we’d be honored to have the chance to show you just how we can help your company be seen online. But how do you know you’re choosing the best SEO services for a small business?

Must-Have SEO Services for Small Business

The company will get you listed across the internet. One of the most important things for a small business is to be found in local listings and directories. This means that your company name should pop up in places like Yahoo listings, Manta, Whitepages, Brownbook, and so on. The more places your company name, address, and phone number appear, the better chance your customers have to find you no matter which directory they choose to use. Think of it as the new way to use the yellow pages.

You’re being provided with a social media platform to reach your customers. In this day and age, everyone is on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a number of other social media sites. If you don’t have a strong social media presence online, you’re missing out on an opportunity to connect with customers—and you’re probably losing sales, too. A good SEO company will build social media platforms tailored to your company so that your customers and find and interact with you online.

You’re seeing fresh content and updates. If your company offers custom-created content for you, it should be updated on a regular basis. Not all websites have blogs, however, and if this is the case for your small business, you should at least make sure that your website is up-to-date and your social media sites are serving as a mode of timely communication with your customers.

The company offers a website package. A company offering custom-tailored SEO services for small businesses should have a website option. Many small business owners don’t know how to build a site, much less have time to update it regularly. Internet marketing companies need to understand this to be able to cater to a small business’s needs. Be wary of the SEO service that doesn’t work with you to make sure you have a great website.

The company doesn’t promise the moon and stars. This sounds negative, but it really isn’t. SEO is a complicated business— and because of this, many small business owners don’t understand the ins and outs of the industry. And that’s fine. After all, that’s why you’re hiring the pros! However, it’s important that you arm yourself with basic knowledge of how the marketing process should work. It’ll save you the heartache of partnering with people who don’t understand how to work with a small business, or worse, a company that promises to deliver everything when really, there’s no magic formula to get everything working in a short amount of time. Plus, it will instill realistic expectations and the patience you need in order to work with the pros so that they can get the results you’re looking for.

The long and short of it is, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. You can’t expect results that blow your competition out of the water overnight. It’s simply impossible to pull off!

How to Know if You’re Working with an Honest SEO Company

Now that you know what the best SEO services for small business should offer, how do you know if the company you’re working with is being honest and upfront about your account? How do you know if you’re investing in a successful long-term plan, or if you’re being taken for a ride?

An honest SEO company will get you listed in local directories immediately and then go to work on other marketing services—blogging, building a site, setting up a social media platform, etc. Ranking will come in time. An SEO company can set everything up the way Google likes, but Google will take its sweet time combing through data and reorganizing search results. You will see your hard work pay off in a first-page ranking—but it takes time.

That being said, if your SEO company promises to get you ranking in 30 days for any keyword, you can bet your bottom dollar that you’re going to be sorely disappointed. At Internet Local Listings, we can get you ranking in 60 days or less for two keywords—and sometimes more! Even though this might sound paltry to a small business owner who has never invested in SEO, this is a realistic and effective goal. Ranking for only two keywords at Internet Local Listings, we’re confident that we can get you real results you can see in a reasonable amount of time.

An honest SEO company will also tell you if things aren’t working out as planned. At this juncture, you can work together with the SEO service to tweak keywords, or you might choose to find other ways of getting your name out there. With high-competition industries it can take a bit more legwork, but you will still see results if you stick with it. There’s no magic formula to success, so you have to be flexible and think long-term for the best results! A dishonest company will not want to put the time in to work with you on these things. Don’t let this happen to you.

Choose Internet Local Listings for SEO Services for Small Business!

Whether you’re looking for a simple small business SEO package or you’d like something a little more in-depth, we have it all at Internet Local Listings. We hope you enjoyed this post, and we would be honored to take care of your small business’s marketing needs. Simply fill out the contact form or give us a call at (888) 770-3950! See how our affordable SEO services for small business can help you.