Local SEO & Marketing: How to Promote Your Local Business Online

Local SEO & Marketing: How to Promote Your Local Business Online

Do you want to know how to market your brick and mortar store online? 

With most of the world’s 7 billion people logging onto the internet, the ability to perform well online has never been more critical to the success of your business. While many stores operate well within a physical location, knowing how to present yourself on the internet helps you build your online presence and maybe even attract customers to your store.

So, do you want to get involved in local marketing online? Do you want to learn more about local SEO? 

If so, keep reading! We’ll go into everything you need to know below!

The Advantages of Marketing Online

If you already have a bustling in-person business, you might be wondering why you need to participate in online marketing. Why should you take the time to learn how to market (or pay someone to do it for you) when you’ve already built a business of which you’re proud?

Having a well-performing online presence is absolutely crucial to growing your client base. While your store may do well with physical advertising, word-of-mouth, and attracting passersby into your location, you can still benefit from trying to get people online to buy from you.

As we mentioned above, most of the world’s population logs onto the internet. This means you have the opportunity to expand your client base far beyond your local area. Savvy business owners always want to look to the future and discover how to grow their profit margins. By putting yourself online, you open yourself to a whole world of new customers.

Bolstering your online marketing also boosts your local clientele. If you’re a shop that serves a specific audience in your area, for instance, knowing how to conduct local marketing on the web will gain you more customers.

In turn, this gives your more opportunities for revenue and the chance to develop more loyal clients. 

Search Engine Optimization

Have you heard of search engine optimization (SEO) before?

Most people who do research into the world of marketing online run into it. Put simply, search engines such as Google and Bing use algorithms to sort web pages after a user makes a certain inquiry. Marketing experts keep track of how these algorithms work and came up with a method, SEO, to help their businesses make it to the top of the search results.

SEO functions using keywords and links. When you use SEO for business, then, you need to figure out which keywords people are typing into search engines to find services like yours. You accomplish this by using keyword research tools or consulting with professional online marketers who specialize in SEO for business. 

Then, you try to incorporate as many of those keywords into the content of your website. This shows search engines your content is relevant to the people who are looking for your services.

Linking

Next, you want to establish reliability. When algorithms review online content, they’re looking for information that is both relevant and reliable so their users get the best results. They do this by looking for links. The more someone links to your website, the more reliable the algorithms believe your content is.

While you can’t always control who links to your website and who doesn’t, you can do your own linking. Link to pages on your own website and interesting, relevant information you find on other places on the web. When you link either within your website or to another site, the algorithm ranks your content higher.

What Is Local SEO?

Let’s face it, though: there are millions of different online stores in the world, and ranking well as you compete against so many companies is extremely difficult.

But did you know you actually might stand a greater chance of growing your business locally? 

Think of it this way: whenever you run an inquiry about a type of product or service you need, search engines often give you local listings. For instance, if you search “Bookstores near me,” the search engine might bring up your local Barnes & Noble or indie book shops. If you were to make the same search in another town, though, the search results would be different.

That’s because algorithms actually use the location of people’s laptops or mobile devices to determine which results are the most relevant to that user. They pair people with products and services in their area.

This is good news for you. When you use local SEO for small business purposes, you get the opportunity to expand your reach locally and narrow down your competitors to just the people in your hometown. This especially serves brick and mortar stores well, as people in their area are able to locate them more easily.

Using Local SEO

So, how do you implement local SEO?

Again, SEO depends a lot on keywords, and local SEO is not an exception. The key to ranking well in your area is knowing which keywords people in your region commonly use to find businesses like yours. Fortunately, you can use keyword research tools to determine which ones are the best for you to use.

When you implement SEO for business, you should start seeing more traffic to your website, which gives you the chance to convert them into customers. 

Want to Improve Your Local Marketing?

Are you looking to improve your local marketing and local SEO?

When you implement SEO services for small business, you should see an increase in the number of people who come to your website. By using local marketing techniques, such as local SEO, you open your client base to the opportunity for growth and expand your business. 

Do you want some help making your online presence the best it can be? We can help! Our talented team specializes in making you stand out on the web. Request a quote today!

Preparing For Your New eCommerce Website

Preparing For Your New eCommerce Website

This article is for anyone that is currently having a New eCommerce Website developed, or is planning on developing one in the near future. If you are a client and your developer is in the process of building your new online store, this article should help you prepare the things you and your developer will need to streamline the process and get your website finished correctly and faster.

Depending on the arrangement you have with your developer, it’s very possible that you will be required to provide the content for your online store, such as images, text, prices…  The listed items in this article include the most common requirements, your particular requirements will vary depending on what type of online eCommerce website you are building.

Domain Name

The first and probably the most important element for your online business is the domain name.  A domain name is a name you select for your website, the URL.  For example, our domain name is sellersbay.com.  It’s usually a good idea to try to get the .com extension when searching for a domain name.  Ecommerce websites require a higher level of trust than regular websites that are not accepting transitions and exchanging money.  It’s important to select a domain name that sounds professional, is as short as possible, brandable, and no dashes.  An example of a good domain would be.  ********.com and not *****-********.shop

Other extensions are becoming more and more popular, but in my opinion, the .com is still the best.  Other options are .net, .co and hundreds of others.  If you can’t find the domain you would like for your business, try looking on auctions, such as https://auctions.godaddy.com/ or other such domain auction sites.  Sometimes the best names have already been taken, but you can find them on auctions for a few hundred.  The name of your business should be used as your domain whenever possible.  If your business name is XYZinc.com you could look for domain names such as xyz.com, xyzinc.com, xyzwidgets.com, widgets being whatever you sell.  The goal here is to keep it simple, professional, and memorable.  As far as purchasing your domain name, first ask your web designer, developer if they resell the domains, sometimes they do and they can give you a discount.  However, always make sure the domain name is in your name as the owner and keep your login details private and secure.  If you lose your domain, you lose your business, make sure all measures are taken to secure it.

It’s also a very good idea to register your domain name for a lot longer than 1 year.  If you are serious about your business and plan on being around for a while, then you should purchase your domain name for at least 5 years.  There are a few good reasons for this, one, it’s strongly suspected that Google’s search algorithm takes this into consideration when ranking websites. And it would make perfect sense because if you are not planning on being around then why would they rank you higher than someone who is?  Also, there is less of a chance you forget to renew your domain and lose it inadvertently. 

Logo & Branding

If you don’t already have a logo for your business, it’s advisable to first have your logo created and then build your website around it.  The reason is, it’s much easier to create a logo and to create an eCommerce website, and it will give you and your designer the color scheme and feel of your website and some other hints, such as what fonts to use and the overall focus of your business.  If possible, and if needed, it’s a good idea to also have a brochure, letterhead, and any other branding materials completed during this time.  You will likely have to create content for these materials, which can then be repurposed for your website. Keep in mind that any content you have that has not been used online in some way can be used on your website if it’s suitable.  

eCommerce Website Hosting

The 2nd most important element of your online business is your hosting choice.  It’s extremely important to select a well established, trusted, and secure environment for your new online store to be able to grow close sales and keep your customers coming back for more.  

Types of Website Hosting

There are many types of website hosting available, but most of the time the level you choose directly relates to your budget and how fast you think your business is going to grow. For example, if you have a brand new, unknown product you want to sell online and you only have a few customers or none yet, then it’s usually a good idea to start off with a shared hosting environment, but one that will allow you to grow.  To do this, I recommend using a hosting provided that you can start with a shared but upgrade to either a dedicated server or cloud hosting.

Difference between Dedicated, Shared and Cloud Hosting

Although there are other hosting options besides dedicated, shared, and cloud, I will only be clarifying these three options for now, as they are the most common.  

Dedicated Servers

Dedicated servers are dedicated to your business only, hence the name.  There are two types of dedicated servers, managed and unmanaged.  If you have an in-house server administrator, then lucky you, you can afford to purchase the unmanaged dedicated server and save a few bucks each month.  But we recommend the managed dedicated server, which means the hosting provider takes care of all those pesky changes you will need during your many years, hopefully, in business.  Managed dedicated servers are a great choice for most eCommerce stores because you can usually expand by adding more drives to your server.

Cloud based hosting

Cloud hosting consists of many servers sharing resources, it’s similar to shared and dedicated in some respects.  It shares resources with other servers in a similar way to shared hosting, but it is highly configurable, expandable, and flexible.  This is the best option if you think your company is going to be very big and requires lots of space and bandwidth to grow quickly.

Server Bandwidth

Depending on what type of eCommerce business you have, it may require large amounts of bandwidth and storage.  Bandwidth is the resources used during transactions, think of your home internet, if you watch lots of youtube videos, online movies, video games, this all uses resources.  It’s the same on your business hosting account.  If you get lots of traffic on your website and lots of sales then you will use lots of bandwidth.  It’s important to find out what the limits are going to be on your account before you sign up and spend months building your business on their servers.  

Storage Space

Besides bandwidth, the next consideration for your hosting is how much server space they will allow. Server space, just like your home computer’s hard drive, is required to store the images, database, content, and other files your website will accumulate over time.  

Email Server

There are a few options when it comes to your online store’s email server.  Your email should have your domain name at the end, so if your company website address is xyzwidgets.com, then you will want email accounts such as myname@xyzwidgets.com so you look snazzy and professional.  To do this, you need to get an email server setup for your domain name.  The good news is that most hosting providers include email hosting and it’s very easy to set up a new email account.  The bad news is, it’s usually not a good idea to use your website server for email, as it can use a lot of valuable resources.  I recommend getting your email accounts with an external service, such as rackspace.com or Office 365.  

Security

As we all know, security is very important for any website, but even more so for an online store or any eCommerce website that stores the personal details of its customers or clients as well as accepting payments of any kind.  This requires an SSL certificate, in fact, Google now penalizes websites that do not have an SSL certificate.  If you have ever gone to a website and been greeted with a warning that the website is not secure, this is probably because they don’t use a website security certificate.  The good news is that in many cases it’s free to have one installed.  But if you have the budget for it, it’s best to pay for more recognized and secure certificates such as GeoTrust or one of the leading brands.  This shows you take your website security seriously, which puts your customers’ minds at ease and gains trust, more sales, and more return customers.  

Privacy Policy

If you review most eCommerce websites, they usually have a privacy policy in the footer of their website.  This privacy policy should be reviewed by a lawyer for accuracy and completeness. Have it written by a lawyer and add it to the footer of your website.  Legalzoom.com has reasonable prices for this.

Shipping Policy

For your shipping policy, you can usually review a few of your competitors, and write yours in a similar way, without copying their text directly. Keep in mind you obviously want to use your actual shipping requirements. This should include your carriers, shipping time requirements, and anything else you think is important concerning your shipping setup.

Tax rates

I won’t go into too much detail on tax rates, but it’s very important that you know where you have to pay taxes and where you don’t, as well as how to pay them.  This is a question for your accountant and depends on what country you are living in, as well as the city and other tax-related issues.  It is important that you find out the correct tax rules and laws for your location and configure your online store accordingly.  Preferably automating as much of the process as possible.

Payment processing

Without payment processing, something strange happens, nothing!  You need a method of accepting payments or you won’t get any.  The most common options at the time of this writing are PayPal and Stripe, but there are hundreds of other options.  Here are just a few.

PayPal.com

PayPal will allow you to accept online payments from anyone that has a PayPal account, but even if they don’t have a PayPal account they can still pay you with a credit card.  It’s very simple to set up a PayPal account and most online stores have plugins to install PayPal and it can be set up in minutes.

Stripe.com

Stripe offers a very similar setup process to PayPal but is for credit cards specifically. All credit card processing is done on the Stripe servers, and their rates are comparable to PayPal. Most of the websites I set up use either PayPal, Stripe, or both.

Here are some other things you should consider.  I will be adding to this article and expanding on each of the points noted below.

  • Shipping carriers
  • Shopping cart
  • CMS
  • Who to hire to build it?
  • How to select the right developer
  • Preparing product images
  • Product details
    • Short description
    • Long description
    • Price/Sale price
    • Quantity on stock if keeping stock
    • Colors, sizes, and other options
    • Shipping price
    • SKU
    • Tags
    • SEO title
    • SEO description
  • Social profiles
    • Profile page layouts
    • Content for profiles
Why You Should Hire a Website Designer in 2021

Why You Should Hire a Website Designer in 2021

You may have seen articles online stating why hiring a website designer is a thing of the past.  Well as a web designer for over 22 years now, I find this hard to believe, at least not yet.  Here are some of the reasons why I think you should hire a website design company or a website designer with a marketing background, to build your website, rather than using a crappy page builder.

Here’s why you should Hire Website Designer 2021

A good website designer has a design background.  Yes, you can build your own website with a page builder, but will you design it exactly the way you want or need it to be?  Do you know how to create a website that looks good, loads fast, and converts visitors into customers?

A good website designer not only knows how to build your website but also knows about conversion optimization.  For this reason, I recommend hiring a well-established, well-rounded website designer that knows web design, SEO, and website conversion optimization.  There is no way a website builder can do all that.  Sure, you can create search-engine-friendly websites with a page builder, but only if you know how to optimize the website in the first place.   

Do you know how to set up all the tracking scripts for Google Analytics, Google search console, conversion tracking, and how to SEO optimize your pages, add XML website maps?  Do you know how to make sure all your images are in the correct format, size, have the correct alt tags, and load fast, and they are all correctly tagged and optimized?  How about creating the correct screen sizes for all the top mobile devices, so that they still look great on mobile? Not to mention many more things you probably don’t want to know about. It’s like asking how the sausage is made, nobody wants to know, but somebody has to do it, sorry I wrote this just before lunch.

Basically, to build your own website correctly with a page builder you need to be a website designer in the first place.  Then you need to learn SEO and some online marketing.  Then you need to learn how to convert your traffic into sales and leads so that when you have built your website it makes you some money.  I mean that is the point, right? 

When it comes right down to it, you can build almost anything yourself and you can get a machine to build things for you also.  However, when it comes to your business it’s important that your website can convert your traffic, ranks well, and looks great.

Are Page Builders Easy To Use?

Most page builders allow almost anyone to build their own website with a drag and drop interface.  You select a template; some options and you have a shiny new website.  It takes away most of the learning curve involved in designing your website. 

However, what most people don’t know is that you can do the same if not much more with your own website by using a built-in page builder plugin.  For example, if you build your website using WordPress and a theme such as Divi and their Divi builder plugin, you have far more control of your website.

What About Website Hosting?

Most page builders are hosted for you, meaning your website is stored on their server and you pay a monthly fee.  Now some might say this is a bad thing, but it really depends on what you want.  Having them host your website might be exactly what you want and in this case, you are golden.  If you are the type of person that would rather live in your mom’s basement until you are 45 because it’s nice and safe and warm, then this option is for you. The hosting company usually hosts your email and domain too.  So it’s a one-stop-shop for all your website needs.  However, if you are like me and enjoy actually owning your website then I recommend building it without a page builder with something like WordPress or Joomla! and a reliable hosting company such as liquidweb.com or hostek.com

What About A Unique Design?

A page builder cannot design your website for you, it will give you options to choose from, usually starting with a template and then you modify this template to fit your needs.  However, unless you are a designer it’s very likely that your website will not look anywhere near as good as what a professional website designer would be able to build.  Have you tried giving your kid a haircut lately?  How did that turn out?  Has the trauma worn off yet?  Have the kids stopped bullying him/her yet? Most website designers have a degree in design and know about using color, fonts, space, and other design elements to make sure your design looks great on many types of devices.  Sure, many page builders have come a long way, but they can’t design your website for you. 

Search Engine Optimization

Do you like traffic? Then you might want to make sure your website is optimized for search engines.  Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing each page of your website as well as your entire site’s structure to give it a good chance of ranking in search engines.  A WordPress website or almost any of the leading content management systems, are easier to optimize and have a better website structure than any page builder.  They simply are not the same breed. 

Best of both worlds

When it comes to the best way to build an affordable website that looks great, is extensible, easy to update, converts well, and allows for unlimited capacities your best options depend on your budget.

If you have buckets of gold nuggets, then you can build your own custom-designed content management system from scratch with all the bells and whistles you can dream of.  You can use advanced programming to build anything.  However, if you are looking at page builders then your budget is probably a little more down to earth, so I’m going to focus on the best low-budget options that will allow you to fully compete with the big guys.

WordPress

Yes, I know you knew I was going to mention WordPress right?  But that’s because it’s the best CMS on the planet and it’s free.  You can build almost any website you can dream of with WordPress.  Also, the advanced themes, with page builders built-in, will allow you to build your own websites quickly.  I highly recommend WordPress and the Divi Theme along with Divi page builder.  Combine this with Yoast for your SEO, some speed optimization plugins and you are all set.

Yes, you will have to hire a designer to build the initial website and set up your SEO, however, you will own the website afterward and have just as much control if not much more than you would have with a page builder.

For example, you can easily add eCommerce to your website if you want to turn it into a fully functional online store by using a plugin called WooCommerce.  WooCommerce only takes a few hours to install and configure and it has everything you need.  If you need more, then there are tons of great plugins and more being built constantly.

Another great system is Joomla!, which is also a CMS.  Joomla! It May have a slightly higher learning curve than WordPress but some say it’s a bit more powerful.  I have used both for over a decade and we have developed plugins for both and I would say WordPress is a bit better in many respects.  There are more plugins, it’s easier to work with and easier to optimize for search engines.

Are You Serious?

If you are serious about your business, then you should be thinking long term, if you use a page builder to build your website you don’t own the website.  You can’t move your site to another hosting company if the company that owns your page builder goes out of business or is taken over by a company with bad support.  If you sell your site then you can simply move it somewhere else.  If you sell your business one day you have the chance to sell the site to the new owner without requiring them to stay with the page builder host.

After 20 years in the web design industry, I have studied many systems and methods for building websites.  The only page builder I would recommend, and it’s not really a page builder, is Shopify.  Shopify is mainly for eCommerce websites, but it’s also used for regular websites.  Shopify will allow you to build a very good online store very quickly and there are various plugins to make it SEO friendly.  However, it must be hosted on the Shopify servers and you will need specially trained developers to work on a Shopify store if you require custom development.

In closing, if you want a real website, then hire a real website design company.  Don’t hire one website designer, hire a team.  One person cannot build, host, and provide online marketing to the level you need to grow your business.  An automated website builder can only build your website, it cannot design, optimize, maintain and promote it as a web design company can.

It’s sort of like building your own house.  You can build your own house, but will it be up to code?  Will it be safe?  Will you do it correctly and how will you know if you did?  Would you want a robot to build your house or a craftsman?

Websites should be an extension of your business and not just a thing you pop up online, so you can say you have a website now.  Most businesses make most of their money from their website and this is increasing every year.  Also, you don’t have to hire us, but you can if you want 🙂 We also have a directory of website designers aptly named websitedesigners.net. Feel free to join if you are a website designer, or you may want to hire someone local for your next web design project.

Smart Ways to Boost Your Sales During COVID-19

Smart Ways to Boost Your Sales During COVID-19

COVID-19 has brought challenging times for most of us and especially for businesses worldwide.

Food delivery, grocery delivery, or even a cab service was once considered a luxury. But now it’s a necessity. People are afraid to leave their homes. The COVID-19 has flipped the lives of people upside down. To increase business during COVID-19, one must rethink sales and marketing strategies.

Here are some ways to boost sales even in COVID-19:

Earn Trust with Virtual Tools

The last few months have shifted the in-person sales model to a virtual video conferencing model. Clients now expect businesses to leverage modern-day techs, such as Zoom, Skype, and other tools to deliver pleasant, safe, and efficient customer experiences.

Customer engagement tools that provide virtual tours, video stories, and live video on social media have increased website business and driven massive sales increases. Doctors, Law firms, psychologists, teachers, company meetings, and more are now completed virtually in many instances. So now, more than ever, it’s important to think outside the box and come up with new methods to gain new clients and keep the ones you have using every available means.

Revamp Your Content & Website

Change your content from sales-based to information-based. Be it blogs, social media posts, or content on your website; every piece must be designed to educate the customer on their current needs and interests, just as the one you are reading now is doing.

Pose your business as a valuable resource to the community that is delivering a promise. Gain the customer’s trust by providing value and build a strong bond with resourceful content, which will truly help their business.

Differentiate your brand by telling a heartfelt brand story. Inform the customer of how your proactive approach sets you apart. Share long-term and short-term goals through blogs, social media posts, press releases, and video conferences.

Be Transparent & Honest

While most companies feel hesitant to share how the pandemic has impacted their business, customers respect honest and transparent brands.

Detailed email notification of the change in policies and business practices will strengthen trust among customers. Respond to crisis-related questions positively and productively. Customers are upset, talk to them, and tell them how your business can resolve their issue.

In hard-times, clear communication is the key to increase business during COVID-19. Tell the customers which products/services will be available, the delay in the delivery, and what preventive measures you are taking to keep the customer and staff safe.

Improve Your SEO

In current times, you cannot rely on customers visiting your store physically. If you are not there on the first page of Google, you’ve already lost the battle.

Here’s what you can do:

Improve your page loading speed: One of the quickest ways to get noticed by a search engine is to speed-up your website to enhance your rank.

Produce More Content: When your product more content, you’ll show up more in search engines and social media. This will present an opportunity for you to make a sale. Create content that relates to your customers, products, and or services.  For example, you could have services you offer that are not on your website, or you may have services you offer that are new due to Covid 19, which will help your customers or clients.

In the End

In recent times, the way businesses make sales and generate revenue has changed. You must adopt the new system before your competitors take hold of it. Tools like video conferencing, live video, and product demonstration on video will help you get ahead of your competition.

How to Use AdWords Ad Extensions

How to Use AdWords Ad Extensions

Over the years Google has evolved into a very complex advertising machine.  If you own an online business or are thinking of creating one, you will most likely advertise on Google at some point during your time in business.  AdWords can generated a lot of money for your business if used correctly, but it can also waste a lot of your profits if used incorrectly.

Use Ad Extensions Correctly

Google AdWords Ad ExtensionsAd extensions are relatively new to AdWords, but they have a big impact on your click through rate.  The click through rate is the amount of times your ad has been viewed divided by the number of times it was clicked by the viewer.  For example, if your ad was viewed 100 times and clicked on 2 times, then your click through rate is 2%.  Usually you want your CTR to be as high as possible, because this means your ads are relevant to the search, which usually means they will convert better.

However, you still have to take conversion rate into account.  Conversion rate is the rate of conversions such as sales, leads and other possible website interactions your visitors make on your website.  If your website is old and not well organized or has a very bad landing page*, then it probably won’t convert well.  So you may ask, how do extensions have anything to do with this?  Your extensions act as a guide to your ad, when your ad is listed on Google’s search results there are links under it, these are ad extensions.

There are various types of ad extensions and various times to use them.  For example, if you are targeting locally, such as if you own a hairdresser or ice cream shop, you would want to create site extensions for your location, so you would use a “Location Extension”, this allows you to add your locations so you can be found easier.

Sitelink AdWords Extensions

Site link extensions are great for pointing your customers to the exact pages they are searching for.  For example, you might want ads targeting shoes to show sitelink options for “red shoes”, “blue shoes” and so on.  In this case you would create a site link pointing to each option.