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Last updateWed, 20 May 2015 1am

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Internet Marketing Strategies: Google Local Business Center

During the past year, Google has made some major changes in Local Search, making it vitally important that every brick-n-mortar retail business establish their Local Profile in Google.  Search Engine Marketing is very competitive, and getting your business to show up for prime keywords such as “jewelry” or “diamonds” has been nearly impossible unless your website has been established for those terms for several years.  However, this past year Google made some major changes which tip the scale in favor of local businesses.  And the best part is, setting up your account in the Google Local Business Center is easy and FREE.

Internet Marketing Strategies: The problem with and solution to SEO and Yellow Pages

Today there exists an unprecedented opportunity for local retail businesses to market their services and products online.  Many small business owners will miss this opportunity.  They are either not advertising online, or they are so caught-up in their SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efforts and Yellow Page and other directory listings that they don’t see the problems or the new opportunities that lie before them.

Now before I go any further let me say I’m all for SEO and directory submissions.  I’ve written several articles about those aspects and they need to be a part of your online marketing efforts.  However, today it needs to become a smaller part of your overall Internet Marketing.  Before I tell you about this new opportunity let’s take a look at the problem with these traditional Internet marketing methods.

The Problem

If you advertise your jewelry products and shop services on the Internet and work really hard to optimize your website to get a high ranking in Google or the other search engines, you’ll be rewarded with a top 10 listing.  Maybe you have worked really hard and are rewarded with the #1 top spot for your keywords in your local area. The problem with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is that after all your hard work; there you are, listed with 9 of your competitors.

The same is true of online Yellow Page and other local directory advertising. Sure you can (and should) get a free listing in all the online directories, but there you are listed with all your competition.  Even if you pay exorbitant fees for a featured or enhanced listing, you are placed at the top and all your competitors are listed below you.  In addition to all your local competition, the Yellow Page directories have the audacity to place online jewelry company ads around your listings.  They then charge you a premium to have those ads removed.

The Solution

Today there is a window of opportunity for business owners to completely dominate Google and the other search engines.  It is possible to not only get listed in the top 10 of a search, it is possible to secure 6, 7, or even all 10 of the top positions on a search page.  By doing so they push all the Yellow Page directory listings and competitors’ websites to the second or third page of the search results, effectively neutralizing their value.

This window of opportunity exists for one lucky business owner in each local market who is wise enough to jump on this bandwagon before any of their competitors.  Once a local business dominates Google for searches in their product category all their competitors are not only left behind, they’re left out.

In order to understand how a business can dominate Google and the other search engines you need to know two facts about search engines.

First, search engines DO NOT list websites!  They list web PAGES.  Therefore any page you put on the Internet, regardless of where you put it has a chance to be listed on a search result page.

Second, search engines will typically list only one web page from a website for a search.  On occasion they will list a second or rarely a third page from the same website.  If they do, they put the pages together and indent the second and third pages so that everyone knows that they are related and from the same website.

So in order for you to get 7, 8, or more of the top listings you cannot just add more pages to your website.  If you do, the search engine will list the most relevant one to the search and ignore all the rest.  To get around these rules, smart marketers are using Web 2.0 websites.

Web 2.0 websites allow you to put pages on their website about your business.  Since these new pages are on different websites, Google and the other search engines will list them on their search results pages along with your website.  The more of these pages you create the better opportunity you have to get all of the top 10 positions on a search result page.

Although each page has a chance to show up on a search results page, many of them will not.  It is kind of like throwing mud on a wall.  Some of the mud will stick but a lot of it will fall off.  In order to get a lot of mud on the wall you have to keep throwing more mud at it.

As with all Internet marketing there are NO guarantees.  How effective this type of marketing will be and how much effort will be needed to become successful depends a lot on the size of the market area, the number of competitors, and how aggressive they have been marketing their websites.

Some of the best types of Web 2.0 websites to use for your marketing are:

Social Bookmarking Websites - Websites such as delicious.com, digg.com, folkd.com, faves.com, mix.com and propeller.com all allow you to create a listing (a bookmark) telling everyone, including the search engines, about your webpage.  It is free to sign-up and list your webpages.  You should bookmark every page on your website and every page you create on other websites in as many of these types of websites as possible.  Bookmark pages already on your website gradually over time, then bookmark new pages as you create them.

Every bookmark you create provides one more link to your website raising its value to the search engines.  Plus it is a new page that can also be listed in a search engine results page.

Blogs - Blogs are an important aspect of your online marketing and a good way to keep in touch with your customers.  Every business should have a Blog and post to it regularly.  Every post you make on your Blog is a new page for the search engines to index, and list on their search results page.

You need one main Blog that you post to and have a place for your customers to subscribe to your postings.  But don’t stop there.  Websites like Blog.com, Blogger.com, WordPress.com, and Ning.com allow you to create Blogs for free.  So sign up for one or more Blogs on each one.  You can have a Blog for your diamonds, one for colored stone jewelry, one for engagement and wedding rings, one for jewelry repairs, one for custom jewelry designs, and more for any additional products or other services you offer.

Place links in your Blog post to different pages on your website and to other social media pages such as your Facebook page.

Once you create a new post be certain to bookmark it on all the Social Bookmarking Websites on which you created accounts.  Each post on a Blog is a separate webpage and needs to be marketed as such.

Social Media Websites - Social Media websites are those websites like Facebook.com where you can create a separate page about your business or the products and services you offer.  Facebook Fan Pages are the most popular, but you should not stop there.  Create pages on Hubpages.com, Squidoo.com, Xanga.com, WetPaint.com, Weebly.com and others as well.  The more pages each month you create the better chance you have of dominating Google and the other search engines when someone searches for the services you offer.

Place links in your social media pages to different pages on your website and to your Blog post.  Don’t forget to bookmark all the Social Media pages you created.

Online Video Host - Online video ads placed on video hosting websites such as YouTube.com is one of the best ways to advertise your products and services on the Internet.  Online Videos get some of the top rankings faster than any other type of webpage.  When you submit your video be sure to include a link to your website in the description of the video, also include information about your jewelry, your address and phone number.

YouTube is by far the largest video host on the Internet, but it’s not the only one you need to use.  Some of the best listings come from video hosts other than YouTube.  Some of the video hosts you should use include Revver.com, MetaCafe.com, LiveVideo.com, DailyMotion.com, Kewego.com, and Veoh.com.

Create a new video or two each month and submit it to each of the video host websites.  It’s free to create an account and to up-load your video.  After you have up-loaded your videos make sure to bookmark all the videos from each host on every bookmarking website on which you have accounts.

In addition, the videos playing on these host websites can easily be placed in a Blog post or on a Social Media webpage.  This is an easy way to develop new content for these pages, and by placing the video on your page it creates a link to the video on the host account helping it rise in the rankings.

Good News and Bad News - The good news about these Web 2.0 websites is that Google and the other search engines constantly monitor these websites and quickly list new pages.  It is common to see your new page listed in the top 10 in a few days, sometimes sooner.

However, the bad news is that the search engines are looking at these websites to provide current, up-to-date information.  Because of this they don’t typically list these pages for more than 3 or 4 months.  After that time they start to lose their luster and begin to slip in the rankings.

The way to avoid this downfall is to constantly make new pages month after month.  As one page starts to slip in the rankings you have another new page to take its place.

If all this sounds like too much work for you to accomplish, since you are already busy selling jewelry and running a business, Internet 4 Jewelers has programs especially for retail jewelers.  These programs start at $247 per month.  Which program is right for you depends on your market area and how aggressively you want to advertise.  For more information on the services they provide contact Brad Simon at www.Internet4Jewelers.com/marketing.

Internet Marketing Strategies: Local search marketing

Even though it is still in its infancy, Local Search is shaping up to be one of the dominant players in Internet Marketing.

Facts:

  • 30 percent of all search queries are Local Search (contain a city, state or zip code).
  • 2.6 billion Local Searches each month - its bigger than all the Yellow Pages combined.
  • Local Search Marketing is already a $31 billion industry.
  • Numbers of Years to Reach 50 Million Users:
    • Radio: 38 years
    • TV: 13 years
    • Internet: 3 years
    • Local Search: 9 months

Local businesses are at an extreme advantage if they learn how to leverage Local Search. The growth potential for local search is staggeringly high, and the impact on your business could be enormous!

Simply put, Local Search will soon dominate the brick-n-mortar world of marketing. Ready or not, Local Search is here and getting stronger.  If you are not optimizing your search presence for Local Search, you are making a BIG mistake. The fact is most retail businesses are not making local search optimization a priority yet, so there is still time to get in the game, but your window of opportunity is closing fast.

Optimizing your Internet Marketing efforts for Local Search is fairly simple and straight forward.  And in spite of the billions of dollars being spent on Local Search, most small businesses can make a big difference in a few hours of work.

The two areas you need to work on are your website’s Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Local Directories.

Local SEO

You actually don’t need a website to rank in local search. If you added your business to the Local Directories listed below, you will find your store showing up in Local Searches.  However, if you do have a website, then there is a lot you can do to optimize your website to help improve your rankings in Local Search.

The most important factor is having information on your website that relates to your local geographic area.  The search engines cannot list your website in a local search if they don’t know your store is located in that geographical area.

The following information needs to be on every page of your website, in text that is easy for search engine spiders to read.

Address - Include your street, city, state and zip code. Spell out your state name in most places, but use the two letter abbreviation as well in different places on the page. Do NOT use a PO Box.  List your street address so that the search engines can pin point your location on a map. Do not list multiple businesses with the same address - you could get banned for spamming.  If you are in a strip mall or shopping center where other business have the same address be certain to use your suite number to differentiate your business.

Phone Number - List your local business phone number (not an 800 number) including area code on all your pages. If you have multiple business locations, make sure they all have their own phone number. Listing the same phone number for different business addresses is a proven way to kill Local Search rankings.

Local Nicknames or Neighborhood Names - If the area your business is located in is known to all the locals by some name other than your city name, this name needs to be on every page of your website as well.  Your potential customers will more likely use this name in a search and the search engines will not know to list you unless you include it on your webpages.

Business Hours - This doesn’t have to be on every page, but you should list this information somewhere on your website, as users and search engines both look for it.

All the above information needs to be typed out in the body text of the webpage.  Also, it is helpful to include it in your page titles. Page titles are very important. At the very least, have your city, state and zip code in the page title of your homepage, your Contact Us page and your About Us page.

Local Directories

It is important when listing your business that your business information remains consistent throughout all of the directory websites and matches the information on your store’s main website. Information consistency across all Internet websites is crucial to the process of getting your business listed quickly and accurately in Local Search.

Internet Yellow Pages

Internet Yellow Page Directories remain one of the best places to list your business for Local Search.  Do a search in Google for Jewelry Store followed by your city name or zip code and see which directories come up in the search results.  These are the ones you will want to start getting listed in.  If you are already listed make certain that your information is accurate, correct any mistakes, and add any additional information.

In addition, fill out the free business profiles at YellowPages.com (AT&T) and SuperPages.com (Verizon). These two directories have the broadest reach and many other IYPs (Yellow Page Directories) syndicate their content, so listing with them will get you a lot of exposure across numerous sites.

Be sure to include your website URL in your listing.  This link to your website from the local listing in the IYPs will help establish your website’s Local Search importance.

The category you’re listed under is perhaps the most effective way to tell the local search engines what your site is about. Mis-categorized listings make it very hard to rank your products and services.

If your business fits under multiple categories, most local search listing centers have custom fields where you can list those additional categories. So list yourself under the primary category your business is relevant to, then list the other services your business provides in the custom fields. Only include services you actually provide, however, and don’t use these fields for keyword stuffing.

Only list your business in the city in which it is located. Listing your business in several surrounding cities is considered SPAM and the search engines will devalue your listing.

Don’t worry about purchasing an expensive listing in the IYPs.  It’s possible to blow hundreds and even thousands of dollars on these listings with little to show for it.

Also remember that many IYPs will try to sell what they call search marketing services. In general, their sales people are stumped by the simplest SEO questions, so avoid these services, as the return is rarely worth the investment.

Online Maps

These are becoming more and more important to Local Search and their value may soon pass Yellow Page Directories.  Fortunately, claiming your business’ listing in Google Maps is pretty easy. It doesn’t matter whether you are already in Google Maps or not. Simply go to www.maps.google.com and enter your company’s information. If you are already in, Google will find your existing listing and give you the opportunity to claim it.  If it is not listed fill out the form and submit it. Next you need to verify that you really do represent the business by either having Google call you with a special PIN number, or having Google send a postcard to your business with the PIN number.

If you are verifying by phone, be sure that you have access to the same phone number that is in your Google Maps listing. If you are in a new development and Google doesn’t recognize your street address use the post card to verify your listing, proving the address does exist.  This process takes only a few minutes and is actually pretty easy.

Once you have verified your listing, add all the information about your business including your website URL.  The more information about your store the greater the chances it will come up in a search result list.  Include all the products and services you carry.  If you don’t list a product or service, Google will not know to list you when someone searches for it.

Customer Review Websites

Having customers review your store on websites such as Yelp.com or directly in Google Maps is an important element in Local Search Marketing.  The more reviews you have the better your chance of receiving higher listings.

Do not worry about bad reviews.  If you receive a bad review add your comments to it including your side of the story and how you resolved it.  Also remember that Google looks at the number of reviews, not the rating or content of the review.  There are numerous reports of companies that tried to do a smear campaign against one of their competitors by posting bad reviews on all the different review websites.  The only thing they accomplished was to drive their competitor’s website to the top of Google search listings.

If a customer reviews your store on Yelp and is an inactive user, their review may become suppressed.  A suppressed review is still on the website, it just doesn’t show up when a person views your listing.  The important thing to remember is the review is still on Yelp’s website and Google sees it and gives you credit for it.

Some thing you can do that might help to keep the reviews showing up are:

  • Find someone who is active on Yelp to comment on the review (or comment yourself).
  • Link to the review in your Blog, and other places around the Internet.
  • Share the review on Facebook, Twitter, etc. by clicking on the buttons to do so at the bottom of the review.
  • Bookmark the review on Social Bookmarking websites.

Every brick-n-mortar retail or service business will need to have an Online Local Search presence, similar to the way a phone book listing has been essential in the past.  These steps will greatly improve your chances of getting listed and ranking well in the major local search engines. Then it is just a matter of keeping your listing accurate and up-to-date. Doing so will help to ensure that the major local search players have your latest information, and that there is no conflict between the information they are pulling from the various directories.

For more information on marketing your jewelry store on the Internet, getting higher search engine rankings, or using the Internet to keep in touch with your existing customers visit www.Internet4Jewelers.com You can follow Brad on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BenchJeweler.

Internet Marketing Strategies Facebook: the new ‘Face’ of business marketing Part 2

Facebook Pages are for businesses.  Your customers and potential customers can then become “Fans” of your business page.  Because of this association to the page, Facebook Business Pages are most often referred to as “Fan Pages”.

You can have as many Business Pages as you want.  You can (and should) set-up Business Pages for any and all business activities and/or products of your store.  You should first set-up a main Facebook Page for your store using your store name.  Then over time start making additional Facebook Pages on all aspects of your business.  For example you could make a page for jewelry repairs, custom designed jewelry, appraisal services, diamonds, gemstones, engagement and wedding rings, different lines of jewelry and watches you carry, etc.

Internet Marketing Strategies Facebook: The new ‘Face’ of business marketing part 1

It's been said that if you are being chased by a bear in the woods you don't have to be able to out run the bear. You only have to out run the person next to you. The same is true with business during a down economy. To be successful your business doesn't have to out run a Bear Market, just your competition!

Today many retail jewelers are finding Internet Marketing a great way to stay ahead of the competition. It is highly-effective, low-cost advertising, and the field is wide open when compared to other marketing media. There are relatively few retail jewelers taking advantage of Internet Marketing.

Facebook is a prime example of this. Few retail jewelers have begun using Facebook, and of those who have, very few of them are using it to maximize the customer prospecting, and advertising features that Facebook offers.

Facebook was started in 2004 out of Harvard University as a way for classmates to keep in contact after graduation. In 2007 Facebook opened up to the general public rather than just college graduates.

Currently Facebook has 225 million registered users and is predicted to reach 500 million before 2011. It is the largest Social Networking website and the fourth most trafficked website in the world. The fastest growing demographic on Facebook is 30 years and up and the average age is 35.

Because of it's Ivy League beginnings Facebook users tend to be a bit more educated and certainly a little more mature than other social networking websites and the Internet in general. The median income is also higher among Facebook members than other social networks. What this means is Facebook members have money!

Facebook has 3 main components. Each one is used differently and all three can benefit your business. They are Profiles, Pages, and Groups.

Profiles
Facebook profiles are for individuals, and therefore called ‘Personal Profiles'. You need to set-up a profile to begin using Facebook. Each person can only have one profile and it must be in your personal name (don't use your business name to create your Facebook profile).

Pages
Facebook Pages are for businesses. You can set-up Business Pages for any and all business and business activities. You can have as many Business Pages as you want. Your customers and potential customers can then become ‘Fans' of your business page. Because of this association to the Page, Facebook Business Pages are most often referred to as ‘Fan Pages'.

Groups
Facebook Groups are for just about anything you can think of, provided it is not the common taboos such as hate, pornography, etc. Facebook Interest Groups are a great place to meet people who have common interests with you and to join in on discussions concerning that topic.

This month we cover your Facebook Profile. Over the next few months we will look at other aspects of Facebook.

Creating Your Profile
Go to www.Facebook.com and enter your information and click ‘Sign-Up'. If you already have a facebook account log in to your account and click on the ‘Profile' tab. Be sure you include information about who you are and what you do in your Facebook Profile.

As mentioned before Facebook profiles are for people and you must use your real name or you are in violation of the Terms of Use. If you own Jones Jewelry and you set up your profile with a first name of Jones and a last name of Jewelry don't be surprised if you try to log onto Facebook one day and find your account deleted. All your friends will be lost and all your posts will be removed. It's not worth the risk. There are so many ways within the rules of Facebook to publicize your business, it's a foolish risk to take using your business name as a personal profile. If you already have an account set-up using your business name you can log into your account and edit your name in the account settings.

User Name
Your profile page on Facebook will be assigned a URL (webpage address) that begins with www.facebook.com/ followed by a long string of meaningless numbers and letters. This makes it very difficult to tell anyone to visit your profile page. Beginning in June 2009 Facebook has allowed users to select a user name. Your URL then becomes www.Facebook.com/YourUserName. To claim your user name go to http://www.facebook.com/username.

You want to select your real name as your user name if it is available. If you have a common name and it is no longer available then choose a user name with keywords appropriate to your business. For example if you own a jewelry store in Atlanta and your name is not available then you may want to choose something like AtlantaJeweler for your user name.

Always choose your real name if it is available. This will go a long way to helping your Online Reputation Management. Other keywords can be chosen to name pages you create, but this is your one chance to get your personal name.

Profile Picture
Make certain to up load a picture. It's called ‘Facebook' for a reason. People want to see your smiling face. Your personal profile picture is not the place to put pictures of your jewelry, logo, symbol, or anything other than a professional looking picture of you. You can, of course, up load all these other pictures to your profile page (and you should), but you want a picture of you chosen as your profile picture.

Website Links
In the ‘Contact Information' be certain to include a link to your website, and encourage all your employees to include a link to the store's website in their profile. You can include links to 10 different websites, so be sure to include a link to your blog as well as any other webpages you have. Facebook is a PR9 (page rank 9) website. These are extremely valuable links that you want to take advantage of and get as many as possible (one from each person connected with your store).

Special Note to Men
Men need to be careful on social networking websites when trying to network with women, as is the case with jewelers as most of our customers are women. You don't want to come across as a stalker. Adding family info to your bio such as "Happily married with 4 children" goes a long way to helping with this issue.

Making Friends
In Facebook your connections with other people are called Friends. You can invite other people on Facebook to become your friend, but they have to accept your invitation before you are friends with them. Currently Facebook limits you to 5,000 friends. They have announced plans to remove that limit, but as of now there doesn't seem to be any progress towards it.
Add a link to your website, blogs, and e-mail signature file inviting people to become your Facebook Friend. Add the link to your business cards as well and any brochures and pamphlets you have. The more customers and prospects you have as friends the easier it will become to promote your business through Facebook.

Accept All Invitations
To Become Friends

It amazes me how many business people on Facebook ignore (delete) requests to become friends. That's the equivalent of going to all the trouble and expense of opening a new store and then locking the door and not letting any customers in. How foolish!

Now I understand that some people want to use Facebook to communicate with family and don't want the world to see those posts, and that's fine. But don't give up the tremendous opportunities to build your business with Facebook. As you make friends you can create different ‘Lists' to categorize your friends. You can have a list for Family, Closest Friends, and Business Contacts. You could divide your business contacts into Suppliers, Customers, and Prospects, or however you want to set it up. When you make a post of any kind you can choose who you want to see it, and who it will be hidden from.

If at any time in the future you find you have someone as a friend that for whatever reason you no longer want to be friends with, you can delete them as friends. Facebook will silently remove them from your friends list. The person you removed will NOT get any type of notice that you removed them as a friend, and no mention of it will appear on your wall.

To begin making friends, Facebook has a feature where you can automatically invite everyone in your e-mail program contact list. Facebook will send an e-mail to everyone in your contact list inviting them to become your friend. If they are not a member of Facebook they will receive a link to sign-up and once they have created their account they can accept your friend invitation.

Once you have some friends you can go to your friend's profile and look through all their friends and invite anyone you know to become your friend as well. Another helpful feature to make friends is ‘Friend Suggestions'. Facebook will look through all the friends of your friends, and if they find anyone who is a friend of more than one of your friends they will suggest that you may know them as well and you can send them an invitation.

Don't Invite More Than
20 Friends A Day

You can accept an unlimited number of friend requests, it's only outgoing invitations that appear to be regulated. If you invite too many people to become your friend too quickly Facebook will consider you a spammer and WILL delete your account. Build friends slowly, but constantly. Every day or at least every couple of days you should log into your Facebook account, accept any friend requests, and send out 20 or so invites to people you know to become your friend.

One good way to develop a following on Facebook from people who are in your geographical area who would be potential customers is to do a search on Facebook for your city name and state either by itself or with terms such as ‘shopping' or ‘businesses' and see what comes up. Many times there are groups on Facebook for your geographical area. Visit the group's Facebook page and read what they have to say. See if there are any discussions going on (one great advantage of a Facebook Group is the on-going discussions). Join in the discussions or start a new one.

At the group's page you can view all the members. Look through the members and if you see anyone you know you can invite them to be your friend. It is also acceptable to invite people to be your friend if you don't know them when you have a common interest. Because you are both members of the group gives you something in common.

If you don't want to be that aggressive in asking them to be your friend, you can still develop a large following just by participating in the discussions and getting to know more people in your area. It's like being at a cocktail party and networking with the guests.

Next month we will look at Facebook Business Pages and how easy it is to create traffic to your website through them. In the mean time if you want to become my Facebook Friend log onto www.Facebook.com/BenchJeweler



Brad and Debbie Simon are owners of Internet 4 Jewelers. If you need a website or need help with your Internet Marketing go to: http://www.Internet4Jewelers.com.

Internet Marketing Strategies: Online video ads

During the past 18 months nothing has received better results in Google for us than Online Video Ads. We have seen some of our videos get in the top 10 Google search within hours of posting them. We have also seen our videos receive 5 or 6 of the top 10 listings, dominating a search term.

Google has recently changed how they are listing videos, so you will not see results like this anymore, however Online Video Ads remain one of the easiest and quickest methods to get top results in Google.

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