There is a unique challenge to online local marketing. Your competition pool is often smaller and much more unique. Therefore the goal of getting to the first page of search results seems easier to obtain. It may even seem cheaper, since all you have to do is beat out a few hundred businesses.
Perhaps you, as a business owner, have decided to do your own online local marketing. You’ve searched online for information on how to get the results you want. You’ve created a plan, and now you’re ready to take action.
But wait. Before you take that first step, there’s something that I need to tell you: chances are the information you’ve gathered is woefully out of date.
In fact, chances are most local business owners are using online marketing tactics that may be ten years old.
“How is that possible?” you ask. After all, you checked the date of your information. Some of it was published as recently as a few days ago.
Search engines change their algorithms daily. These changes are often minor, but they add up to bigger changes, like Google’s recent change favoring mobile-friendly websites (more on that later). So tactics that may have worked ten years ago do not work now. In fact, search engines penalize some of those tactics. If you get hit with penalties, it’s improbable that you will show up in the search engines at all.
Here is a list of seven local marketing myths you may be buying into that are keeping your business from achieving online success.
Myth #1: Quick SEO Can Help You Get on Page 1
There are no shortcuts when it comes to ranking in SEO. A long term, consistent approach is needed in order to be successful. Sometimes, even the best plan to get on the first page doesn’t come to fruition.
There are hundreds of factors that decide where your website is going to rank in a search engine. One of those factors is how long your website has been around. If it’s less than a year old, your chances of getting on page one are about 2-3% at best.
Search engines put their trust in older websites with an established history. Those websites that are ranking on page one for your keyword have been around for years. Even if they haven’t, they’ve probably got other ranking factors working for them that you aren’t seeing. It is highly unlikely that any “quick SEO” technique is going to work in your favor. It’s better if you simply invest in a solid, long term plan and exercise some patience.
Myth #2: Microsites Will Help You Boost Your Rankings
The logic is fairly simple. Ranking a microsite is easier than ranking a huge site, right? And the microsites will contain general information that will point people back to your business. So you can pull in traffic from these sites without investing a lot of money in SEO for your company website.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it doesn’t work like that anymore. The days when you could use dozens of keyword-based microsites to get search engine rankings are gone.
Search engine algorithms have been updated to exclude any network of websites that point to the same domain. So if you’re looking to use 50 plumber-based keyword microsites to point back to your business websites, think again. You’re more likely to get penalized than be rewarded.
Myth #3: Your Keyword Needs to Be in Your Domain
This springs from the second myth involving microsites. Having someone search for “laptop repair” and seeing “laptoprepair.com” at the #1 position will garner clicks.
Except for one thing: if you actually search for “laptop repair” in a search engine, the first results to come up are going to be businesses with brand names as their domains, like “geeksquad.com.”
Brand names are more important than keywords in search engine results. The moral: focus on establishing your brand instead of trying to rank for a keyword. If your brand is associated with that keyword, you’ll be rewarded with higher rankings.
Myth #4: You Need Multiple Phone Numbers for Tracking Purposes
This is another myth that springs from myth #2. When setting up microsites, each site would have its own separate phone number. That way the business owner could see which sites were performing the best, and which ones needed to be cut.
A search engine uses your phone number to identify your business as unique. Multiple phone numbers confuses the search engine, and can hinder your online marketing efforts. Stick to one number. It’s easier to maintain.
Myth #5: You Don’t Need Social Media
It is true that some businesses won’t get a lot of attention on social media. But you still need to use it to your advantage. You can use it to connect with other local businesses that compliment your services. You can report on local events, or curate information that is of interest in your niche. Doing these things can position you as an expert in your field.
Myth #6: Optimizing Your Site for Mobile is a Waste of Time
Maybe this was true a few years ago, but now it’s a necessary part of having a website.
In fact, in early 2015 Google launched an algorithm change that rewards mobile-friendly websites with higher rankings. They’re placing more emphasis on mobile traffic, since more than 50% of internet traffic comes from mobile sources. That number will continue to grow.
Optimize your website for mobile. You’ll boost your rankings and get more traffic.
Myth #7: Reviews Affect Your Rankings
Your reviews have nothing to do with your rankings.
Your reviews are just that: reviews. They do affect how customers view your business, but they don’t affect how search engines rank your website.
If you’re worried about bad reviews and a bad reputation, you shouldn’t be. Be proactive. Respond to negative reviews in a very professional manner. Most of the time you’ll find you can resolve the issue. This impresses upon potential customers that you care about their experience with you and you want to satisfy them.
In truth, the right response to a bad review is better than a dozen glowing reviews.
Local marketing can be pretty confusing. It’s easy to come down with information overload. If you’re still using any of these myths in your local marketing plans, make immediate adjustments. You don’t want to purposefully hold your business back from reaching its full potential.