Category Archives: Small Business Advertising

Local Citation Finder

local citation finder detectiveMany small business owners have learned recently, that citations help to push their Google Places ranking up in the SERPS (search engine results pages), and they are looking for local citation finder software, information, advice, and tools to help them.

We have been working with small businesses for years, helping them to get or increase their number of citations. During this time we have found many great blog posts, websites, and software on the subject, we have also developed our own techniques, which we want to share with you in this post.

Here is what we have learned about citation finder software

While it is okay to use software to find citation sites, you don’t want to use it to acquire them. Much like girls in the movie “Water Boy”, automatic submission tools are the devil. Automated citation submissions have been viewed as black-hat SEO for years, and since the recent Panda and Penguin updates to Google’s Search algorithm, you are almost definitely going to get penalized.

Exception to the rule

There is always an exception to the rule, and this one come by the name of yext (they spell it with a lower case y). They have partnered with a lot of cheesy directories and some not so cheesy, to do automatic submission. Yext got together with all the little directories a few years ago, they were afraid Google would eat their collective lunches in the small business marketing niche. They figured that if they partnered up, they could compete with Google. So for $99.00 a month you can automatically submit your business to the underlings.

Recently, Merchant Circle partnered with yext, if you have a Merchant Circle listing, your email probably gets hit once a week with yext advertisements. Spoiler Alert: The verdict is in, and most say it isn’t worth the money. One more quote from Water Boy: “Which brings me to my next point, don’t smoke crack!” – LT

Whitespark local citation finder software

This tool will help you find citation sites. This is a more advance type of do it your self tool. They will not only find you citations based on keywords, but they will track your local competitions citations too. These guys help you find all citation sources, not just directories.

They also help you to keep track of where you have submitted your company. Whitespark will cost you $20.00 a month, but they will let you run up to 3 campaigns for the dough. These guys are pioneers in local SEO, and I have used them in the past.

SEOMOZ Recent acquisition “GETListed.org” a free citation finder

Getlisted.org was the birth child of David Mihm a local search expert, but now the proud property of SEOMOZ. This is a great free tool that is gaining a lot of popularity. I believe it will cost money in the not to distant future. This website not only offers the citation finder, or as they say “See how your business is listed on Google, Bing, and other major local search engines.”, but, there is also a ton of great information about local SEO.

Not only the president but also a member

I am a big fan of the BBB and the Local Chamber of Commerce. I have every small business I work with join these two sites. If you scroll to the bottom of any page on my website, you will find a link to my A rated BBB listing, and also a link back to my local chamber. They are not only great sources for citations, but they actually drive paying customers to you. I get better leads from these two resources, than any other directory. Of course it matters what industry your in, if your in food service you may find you get more leads from Yelp or Urbanspoon.

Acquire Local Citations Through Sponsorship

Find a local little league team, adult softball team or such with a website or facebook page you can sponsor. When they post your company as a sponsor, ask them to include your contact info. A lot of local pubs have a website, find a dart team to sponsor and get a citation.

Plan to be a toys for tots drop off, all drop off locations are promoted on lots of local websites (just missed that bus for 2012 though, but there is always next year).

Most organizations have a Facebook page, even if they don’t have an official website. You could buy a case of cookies from the local girl scouts troop, and ask them to post your address in in return on their Facebook page as a place to buy cookies.

Acquire local citations through promotions

Run a promotion that benefits a good cause. We worked with an auto repair shop to run an oil change promotion benefiting the local homeless shelter. When you donated 5 cans of food, you got an oil change for $15.00.

The local news papers picked up this story and came down to take a picture of the owner, and of course they included the name, address, and phone number in the piece. The local garage expanded it’s customer base, up-sold some front-end work and brake jobs, while earning some citations.

Their are a lot of meet-up groups and organizations that need space to meet once a month or once a week. If you have the extra space, or if you don’t use your boardroom at night, you can find local hobbyist groups, book clubs and such that will list you as the place to meet.

You don’t need to be original to succeed. Find a good local cause that is already being promoted, and ask to co-sponsor the cause or event.

Put a webcam in your store front for citations

People love webcam sites, especially during harsh weather situations. For the cost of a $65.00 streaming webcam. You can post your location. CAMSCAPE is just one such site that lists webcams from all over the world. If you investigate this website be prepared for your work rate to suffer, because some of these webcams are awesome. Not only can you get a citation, but also you will get a link.

In conclusion, there are infinite ways to get local citations for your business. Use your own creativity and the principles and resources listed in this post to come up with your own ways to find citation sources.

Please tweet, +1, or like this page on Facebook – buttons below – Thank you!

 

Paid Search Organic Search – A Match Made In Heaven

PPC & SEO Synergies

paid seach organic search example
click to view large image

There are many things paid and organic search have in common, lets dive straight in.

In order to drive down the cost of clicks in a paid search campaign, you need a high quality score. Which means your webpage has to be super relevant to the keyword your bidding for. In order to rank well in the organic section of the SERPS (search engine results pages), you need a highly relevant webpage for a specific keyword.

Some would say there are reasons for not using the same webpage for both SEO and PPC.

  1. Don’t put outbound links on a paid search landing page, you want to make it difficult to leave your page without converting.
  2. You don’t want to much information on the page to confuse your paid traffic.
  3. Drive your paid traffic through your sales funnel with a landing page full of calls to action. Your paying for the traffic, don’t worry about UX (user experience), get the conversion.

All of the above would not be considered good tactics for a organic webpage, though has some merit for a paid search page, but, any possible synergies between the two marketing channels would be lost. I believe the two channels, PPC and SEO can share the same landing page and should. Especially if we are talking about a small business with a limited advertising budget.

Another Thing In Common Between Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click

The cost of highly trafficked short-tail keywords are quite expensive, compared to the not so well trafficked long-tail. Similarly, the cost to build enough links and optimize a page for the short tail /premium keyword is also very expensive to say the least.

Paid Search Organic Search Strategy

To write great content, and to get links to those pages takes time and money. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a way to test our keywords, just to get an idea of how much actual search traffic there was before we made the investment. Well there is such a way, it’s called PPC. With PPC, you can throw up a few quick landing pages, target some keywords for a month, and then see. You can be on the first page of the SERPS testing multiple keywords within days.

To determine the the organic value of a keyword you discovered in your pay per click account, multiply your monthly click total by 3. This is because an organic ad on the SERPS gets clicked three times as much as PPC ad’s. Then multiply your organic click count by the average cost per click of your paid search campaign.

Once you identify the keywords you want to target, create several highly relevant optimized pages and direct your inexpensive long-tail PPC traffic to those pages. If the content is really good, you will know doubt get some visitors to link to it, or even bookmark it. This will help your page to improve it’s organic rankings.

There are a lot of competition for the keywords that generate a ton of traffic, and the cost to compete usually is not only cost prohibitive, but there would be no return on your investment (ROI). By utilizing the synergies of paid search and organic search, and by targeting long-tail keywords, your advertising is likely to provide you a very high ROI.

Web Design Packages Prices and Advice

Other companies standard web design package prices do not include a plan for advertising. Our company are online marketers first, and web designers second. Everything we do is infused with an internet marketing strategy. Failure to plan is planning to fail.

Just about anyone can put up a website, that’s easy! The hard part is getting it listed high enough on Google and Bing for customers to find it. A website without traffic is almost useless, most websites will at least rank well for the name of the business, so people who know your company name will usually find you. This is not adequate to build a business.

Our Web Design Packages Prices & More

We have online advertising and marketing plans that start at just $200.00 a month that include:web design packages prices

  • Hosting
  • Complete website – 5 pages
  • Domain name
  • Call Tracking Phone number
  • Google analytic set up
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Facebook and Twitter integration
  • WordPress Blog
  • Graphics
  • Directory Listings In Google (top 3), Yahoo, Bing, Express Update, Yelp, Foursquare, superpages.com, yp.com, citysearch, hotfrog, bestoftheweb, Nokia, Insiderpages.com, Kudzu, nsphere.com /Directory, Dexknows, Local.com, Mojopages.com, Manta, and More…
  • Maintenance

There is not a better web design and marketing package anywhere for $200.00. If we can do all the above for so little, imagine what kind of plans we have for larger budgets.

All the work done in the above package is done in house, in the United States, 20 minutes north of Boston, in Lowell Ma.

This web design and marketing package price was designed with small businesses and small budgets in mind. Lets talk a little bit more about what you get in this plan

Web Hosting Package

Ultimate premium plan with 99.9% up time, email address on state of the art servers. We host your website and domain name on the same hosting company we use, with the same unlimited bandwidth and storage. We set you up for success, with room to grow.

Web Design Package

Our 200.00 package gets you a professional looking website much like the one your on now. We buy graphics unique to your industry, build custom headers, write the content, and include a professional contact form on your new contact page.

Custom Domain Name

Your domain name is an important part of the package, whenever possible we will go with your company name. It is important that local businesses have an industry related keyword in the domain name. We offer free consulting to our clients, to help them choose a proper domain name, a domain name that helps with good rankings on search engines.

If you already have a domain name you want to use, we will import it to the hosting account for free, and set it all up.

Call Tracking Phone Number

A call tracking phone number should be apart of any successful web marketing strategy. This helps you to track whats working and what isn’t. You can see who is calling and where they are calling from in monthly reports.

Directory Listings

Most people want to be on top of Google (smart people), we put you there by properly optimizing your Google Maps listing (not over optimizing), and build the necessary citations around the web to get your listing to the top. Citations and reviews are how to get your listing to the top. We get the citations and you get the reviews. Related Article

Recap

There is so much more that goes into this package that makes the price look ridiculously low. If your looking to start a business website, or want to redesign your existing website. Hit us up on our contact page to get started right away. Feel free to ask questions right in the comments below.

Bonus

All new clients will receive an AdWords Voucher good for a hundred dollars to promote their local Maps listing. When locals search for words related to your business, Google will feature your Maps listing, If someone clicks the ad or phone number, a couple dollars is deducted from your $100.00 voucher.

Limited Time Offer

This is a limited time offer because we are only excepting 20 new clients for this package. This is a really good website and marketing combo. If you think any friends might like this deal, please use buttons below to share on Facebook or Tweet it out.

How To Rank Higher In Google Maps

Learning how to rank higher in Google Maps will improve the amount of calls you receive, graff of success for having learned how to rank higher in google mapsand improve traffic to your website or store front. The traffic and phone calls come from locals in your area that are searching for your products or services. I am going to list the best resources to find citations, and give you advice to improve your Google local business directory listing. Plus I am going to tell you my two favorite and most powerful citation sites.

There are a lot of factors that go into improving your position in Google’s directory. I want to talk about what I consider to be the most important factor, which are citations. If you want to check out all ranking factors and see some studies, check out these articles: Ranking Factors, Google Places quality guidelines, and Rank Correlation Data, 

Citation Definition: NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)

A citation is a reference of your NAP on a webpage other than your own. Citation Example: Having your business information listed on Yahoo Local, or any directory. Tip: Make sure you name address and phone number are exactly the same every time, on every site, or it may not count towards your total citation count.

Why Citations Are An Important Ranking Factor

Google only wants to list real local businesses. Webmasters trying to get traffic to their websites have been spamming Google for ever, trying to get their businesses listed outside their actual geographical area. So in order to verify the information entered into the Google Maps Directory, Google crawls the web looking for other instances, or mentions of the same business. The more citations they find, the more they trust, the higher you’ll rank.

Citation Sources

So now we understand that we need more citations than our competition, but where do we get them? There is an awesome free tool, I don’t know how long it will remain free, so use it soon. Citation Finder will let you know where you are listed and where you’re not. It delivers you to the page you need via a link, so you can list your business.

There is another way to find citation sources. Put your competitions phone number into Google and search, this will show you all the places they are listed. Repeat this search for your top 3 or 4 competitors and you will have a long list of citation sources. We wrote a post on how to find local citations.

My Two Favorite Citation Sources

Not all citation sites are created equal, and some are better than others. While you want a lot of citations to help move up your Google Places position, some sites will send customers ready to make a purchase (bingo). The Better Business Bureau (BBB), and your local Chamber of Commerce, are great resources and citation sites.

It is my belief that easy to get citations are not worth as much as citation sources that verify the information that is submitted to them. Some citation sources mail you a code to verify your mailing address, or they call you to verify you actually have the phone number you say you do.

To get an accredited BBB listing, you have to show them your business certificate, and /or show licenses and certifications, sort of prove how long you’ve been in business. Who but real businesses will go through this process.

Many people go to their local Chamber of Commerce, or the BBB when looking for services. These companies are trusted to provide reputable local businesses. Some chambers will let your customers leave a review, and the BBB ranks your business in part by reviews left by past customers (reviews are proof a citation is legitimate).

I am a proud member of the Greater Lowell Chamber Of Commerce (GLCC), They not only list my business in their local directory (local citation), but provide me with a ton of ways to promote my company. They have offered me a free TV spot on the areas local network, I have taken advantage of free radio interviews, and I have attended mixers with other local chamber members.

The GLCC has promoted my services on their social networking channels, and via flyers and their print directory. Every year they promote a big expo in our local community, giving me yet another opportunity to build my brand.

Nobody has told me Google’s grading system, but I have managed to help my clients get into the top three spots and many to number 1 with what I just shared. One of the keys to learning what works and what doesn’t work is testing.

SEOMOZ.org had a tool that gave you weekly updates. It would give you present and historical rank data. You could see your Google Maps rank for any keyword you plugged in. It also gave you the same data for Bing Local and Yahoo Local. The tool is out of order right now, but we are told it will be back better than ever real soon.

Now you know how to rank higher in Google Maps, get out there and get your citations. It is time consuming work, so add a few every week. You may want to bookmark this post to come back to the tools I have listed.

Hit me up in the comments with any questions or to tell what you have done to improve your local Google places ranking. Part of sharing is sharing the love, please “like” or plus 1 this post below.

Internet Advertising Companies

Internet Advertising Companies: Comparisons, Pricing, and Advice For Small Businesses

Finding a good online advertising agency and picking the right marketing channels to get what you need can be difficultplanning strategy for internet marketing

Why do Internet advertising companies charge different amounts for the same services? There are a lot of different methods of advertising a business online, which should I choose? Why are there so many different names to describe the same online marketing channels? These questions leaves the uninitiated small business community scratching their collective heads.

There are online advertising companies that work with just search engines, only promoting businesses on Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Others specialize in social media, promoting their clients on the sites of Facebook, Twitter etc… While others do email marketing, contextual ad placement, lead gen, or advertise on directories.

If you were to hire a different consultant for each of the different online advertising channels, they would tell you their way offers the most value. “If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail”. Agencies with consultants that have experience with all marketing types can offer a more holistic strategy, but at what cost?

It will typically cost you over $1000.00 a month to work with an experienced, well established digital agency. These companies don’t work with smaller budgets, and until recently, the larger market of smaller budgets were under served by interactive firms.

Under served small budget / small businesses marketing companies

Local internet advertising companies logos
Sources: 1and1.com; superpages.com; yellowpages.com; yodle.com; web.com

The online marketing community has begun developing packages aimed directly at businesses with small budgets over the last few years. Companies like: web.com; yodle; 1&1.com, reachlocal.com, and the like have developed all in one solutions which include: Hosting, domain name, website, and usually a directory listings in the big three search engines.

The cost of an average entry level package offered by most of these companies is between $100.00 and $200.00 a month. These marketing packages will provide you with a professional looking website, and little else. Sometimes not very professional looking (in my opinion). Yodle Review

Yp.com and Superpages.com have been offering similar packages, but theirs include a premium listing at the top of their respective directories. The websites look pretty good on the whole, but you can expect to pay $300.00 -$500.00 or more a month for these services. In my opinion they do a better job than the others, but at a higher cost, and I have spoke with many small businesses that have used them, and the return on investment just isn’t there, so their packages are not worth the cost.

All of the big box marketing companies mentioned above have a few things in common.

  1. A lot of what they do is simply automated.
  2. They claim your site is optimized (SEOed) for local search. (barely)
  3. They use a call tracking phone number, not your phone number.

They offer you their cheap introductory automated services at $100.00 plus a month, which include marketing speech like “free website”, “free set-up”, “legal guarantee” to suck you in. They want to up-sell you optimization for more cities and towns. Which really means they simply include your street address on the website, and that their plan has serious limitations (which it does but is beyond the scope of this article).

The packages above will do little more than create a web presence, and help your business to be found by people searching for your business by name.

Cost Comparison: You vs. Them

If you went and got your own domain name and hosting account,  it would cost you roughly $100.00 a year. Then add to it the cost of a professional looking website $500.00 – $700.00, and you have a one time investment of $600-$800, plus say $110.00 a year for hosting and domain name fees (after the first year). The five year cost of a web presence comparable to the box stores mentioned above is at most $1400.00.

The five year cost of the cheapest package offered by the corporate marketing agencies mentioned above is $6000.00. So would you rather spend 60 hundreds or 14 hundred? By spending less on your website and hosting, you free up money to actually promote and advertise your website …ie your business services or products.

The alternative to doing it yourself, or going with a box store package

Small Budget Web Advertising Solutions

There are Internet advertising companies (cough * like mine) that enjoy, and actually excel at working with small advertising budgets. These agencies have comprehensive packages for budgets from $100.00 – $300.00 that blow away the big box stores.

For only $100.00 a month you can get: a highly optimized website; citations all over the web, including your local community; Social account creation with integrated sharing buttons on your website; professional contact forms and expert consulting. You get an actual chance to dominate your local competition.

A $250.00 $300.00 a month plan will get you a few links build over the course of a year, some paid search exposure on the search engines, or more content creation, possibly some video, or accelerated social exposure.

I hope you have a better idea of what it cost to advertising online and you found this article helpful. Please hit me up on Twitter with any questions @Inform_Local. Remember part of sharing is sharing the love, please like or plus 1.

Check out this book by Holly Berkley for more information

 

 

Free Local Online Advertising For Small Business

no cost advertising signI have been writing about free local online advertising for small business for years, but I have never had so many great resources to point you to. The best free online advertising comes by way of directories. Google is the best, and you want to rank #1. Why do I say they ‘re the best? Because as of today most people use them as their search engine.

There are a lot of directories available you should list your business on, not because people use them and will find your business, not to drive a lot of traffic to your business, but because the more times your business name, address, and phone number (called citations) appear across the web, the higher your rank on Google’s Directory will be. The other reason is to have a place besides Google for people to leave reviews.

Citations and reviews are really the two keys to high rankings on Google’s local maps listing service. You will ride high above all the competition with those two elements, and it’s all completely free. It is time consuming but worth the effort to get your local small business on top of the most powerful search engine.

Reviews used to be kind of tough to get because a user had to have an username and password with the directory in order to write you one. You could send a person Yelp to leave a review, and many would get there only to find they had to register first, and then it became to much trouble. And the truth is, you want reviews from people with active accounts, not just one made up for you.

Nowadays most of the directories will let you log-in with your Facebook or Twitter account. This makes it really easy to get a review. Also if you follow my advice and list your business on all the directories, people can leave a review on the site they actually have an active account with. The best time to ask for a review is while your customer is still overwhelmed with the value or service they just received, and their all about the love.

Some rules about filling out directories:

  1. Use your business name exactly and only as it appears on your business license (available at your town hall), or bank account DBA, don’t add any keywords to spice it up.
  2. Your name, address, phone number, website address, and email should be EXACTLY the same on all directories.
  3. Work and hunt through the category section and make sure you pick the appropriate category.

Do a search for your phone number to see what directories your listed on, just type it into Google and hit search. Now do what it takes to edit and make right the information you find. If you started out all spammy like most of us 6-7 years ago, this might take a bit of doing.

Before you get started and I tell you which directories to get listed on, go ahead and write down a description of your business. Write a title for a service you offer, and write a description about that service. Try to gather any photos you may want to list, such as of a logo, or store front.

One last piece of advice, try to fill them out as completely as possible, types of payment you accept, store hours, specials you may offer, Twitter handle, Facebook page, and again, try to keep all the information the same across directories. Use your business email that matches your domain name, don’t use a personal email address, and make sure all this information is on your own website too. Now your ready!

Head over to this website and punch in your company name and phone number, don’t worry it’s free, they wont even try to up sell you. Keep in mind many of these directories will try to sell you a “premium listing”, don’t bother as it is a waste of money. Here’s the site: http://getlisted.org/. After you work through the first list of directories, look for the tab on top of the page that says Next Steps – More places to list your business, or click here. You may want to bookmark this page if you haven’t already to refer back to instructions and links.

I am going to give you one more that is free, and strongly suggest two others that are not free, but will help your rankings immensely. The free one is Angie’s List, and the other two are the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and your Local Chamber Of Commerce. Make sure you add your webpage link to every directory including the last two mentioned. Once your listed on all the directories, let your customers know and offer promotions for reviews.

Related Posts: How to rank higher in Google Maps and Local Citation Finder

Here Is What The Best Link Builders | Link Building Services Are Doing

Person looking through magnifying glass

The best link builders are really good at finding and developing relevant content and resources for their clients. They develop and promote content to attract links, and they “search” the Internet for potential link candidates.

They scour the web for category specific: blogs, forums, thought leaders, groups, web pages, and other web resources for potential link candidates.

Once potential candidates are discovered, they are evaluated and ranked for relevance, and gettableness (get-able-ness = how likely to get a link). Many candidate discovery techniques are performed with an actionable plan in mind for getting a link from the specific prospect type. I’ll cover discovering candidates and acquiring links in a bit.

The best link builders and link building agencies act most-often as if search engines like Google don’t exist. When these marvelous link builders are not busy finding great resources and content to get links from, they are building their own killer content and resources to attract them.

The best of the best, act as if Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam department was standing right over their shoulder when deciding if a link is actually an asset. This is the essence of white hat link building.

Discovering Link Candidates

Link building pro’s utilize the millions of blogs, magazines, groups, and clubs that exist on the web. Whatever your topic, there is almost certainly an organization, crowd, gang, crew, league, gathering, contest, pool, posse, society, specialty directory, or Pinterest board where you can join the conversation in a meaningful way.

The way we like to find these groups, pages etc… is with Google search.

*Example: If you want to find blogs that mention kitten mittens try this search: inurl:blog intitle:”kitten mittens”. This search basically says to find url’s with the word blog, and that have kitten mittens in the title of the page. Results

You can find any page or file indexed by Google, Some of the most used advanced parameters are:

  • intitle: This one tells the search engine to find pages about what ever word follows the colon(:). * EXAMPLE intitle:keyword or intitle:”multiple keywords”
  • inurl: This one tells the search engine to return web-pages and documents with your keyword in the url.
  • site: is used to search a url. *EXAMPLE site:informlocal.com. or the site: operator can be used to find a specific TLD (.org, .com, .edu).
  • – or minus is used to exclude. *EXAMPLE -cake tells the search engines note to return any results with the word cake, the minus operator, or – is a very powerful one for zeroing in on just what your looking for.
  • ~ or tilde, known as the synonym generator, tells search engines to also return synonyms of your keyword when placed directly in front. *EXAMPLE ~cake

If you would like a list of Google’s advanced search parameters, I recommend you head over to SEOMOZ, and read their paper on advanced search queries.

Discovering Link Candidates WITH An Actionable Plan

Guest Posting Plan

One of the easiest ways to get a link from a relevant webpages is by guest posting on blogs. There are millions of blogs out there that need content, but how do you find them? try this one: inurl:blog intitle:~keyword + “guest post” | “guest author”.

The above search is very powerful, it says to look for web addresses with the word blog in the url/address, with your keyword or synonyms of your keyword in the title, along with the words guest post or guest author. One thing to keep in mind when using the tilde (~) operator, it’s best to use single words.

Once you have found some prospects to submit a guest post, the best link builders are looking for a phone number, and calling the prospect. Yup, you will find that your success rate will improve by some 20% will a phone call. If you contact them via email, do not just send them some canned request. Have an article topic in mind, but always ask if they have any ideas about a piece you can write.

Getting Listed As A Resource – Plan

Doing guest posts can be hard work, how about just finding pages that list resources like your website. Now that you are learning to search the web for specific pages, I will let you figure out how to find pages or web addresses with the word resources or resource that match your category or keyword.

Some other link building words you may want to include along with your keywords when doing searches: directory, list, lists, links, submit site, submit url, submit a site, add url, reviews, library, association, resources, resource, Blogger, WordPress, tumblr, and add site.

Beyond Link Building

I used this search to find recently sold homes in specific towns, and that had a swimming pool, for a local pool service company that wanted address for their advertising post card: site:zillow.com “recently sold”, pool, n.reading, ma. This query searched zillow.com for homes that recently sold with a swimming pool in the town of Reading. I was able to provide them 150 local addresses for their direct mail piece, all in the local area of their service route.

Many SEO agencies have several content writers on staff, while others contract out this work. Expert link builders know that if a link is easy to get, it is probably not worth having, and reverse engineering your competitions links is a great way to always be playing catch up. Links that are really tough gets are the most rewarding.

I would like to hear some feedback and learn what you are doing to build natural white hat links. Lets ride the hash-tag #bestlinkbuilders to share comments and new posts about link building techniques, tips and advice.

Please post comments on twitter: @Inform_Local #bestlinkbuilders

5 Steps To Local Online Advertising

It is not hard to dominate your local market once you know how. What few people realize is that there is more than enough work in one single town than you could complete in a year. By focusing all your energy on targeting just one town, you will be ninety eight percent more effective than if you try to tackle a large area.

Local Online Advertising

Most people are using the Internet to find local products and services, and you need to be at the top of Google to get your share of the traffic. You are going to need a few things to dominate your local online search.

  1. A geographical and service specific business name.5 Steps To Local Online Advertising without the yellowpages
  2. A geographical and service specific domain name.
  3. A simple five page website.
  4. Get listed on Google, Bing, and Yahoo local directories and get Citations
  5. Links, Links, and more Links

To illustrate the best way to advertise locally and dominate, I will use a fake roofing company start up. This fake roofing company is located in Boston Massachusetts.

Step 1: A Geographical And Service Specific Business Name

Unless you already have a brand name, a business name that is being searched for locally, or is well known, you should change the name of your company*. I recommend including the initials of your state, you can be even more locally focused by choosing the name of your town. Also include a word specific to your industry.

If I were choosing a name for my Boston Massachusetts roofing company, I would go with something like Roofer’s MA LLC | Roofing MA LLC | Boston MA Roofer’s | Roofing MA | MA Roofing Co. | Etc.

You also want to make sure the domain name (example.com) is available for what ever name you decide to go with, which brings us to step 2

Step 2: A Geographical And Service Specific Domain Name

Go over to somewhere like http://dynonames.com/ and start searching to see if the name you want is available. Having your keywords in the url will help once you begin to get links. Links to your website from other websites with industry specific keywords helps Google to know what keywords to rank your website for.

If you don’t already have a hosting account, Dynonames offers a premium package for $89.00 a year. I recommend buying the domain name for ten years. The cool thing about Dynonames is that they have a super 5 minute installation of WordPress. It is included in the premium package and will do fine as your website. Which brings us to step 3.

Step 3: A Simple 5 Page Website

You want to have a website with: home page, services page, about us page, testimonials page, and a contact us page.

I highly recommend having a blog too. It does not matter if the blog is on your website, or off-site. A blog gives you the ability to create web pages that will target new keywords. There are to many benefits to list, so incorporate a blog.

Each page should be optimized for one phrase and one phrase only, this means the phrase is in the title, page description, in the text of the page 1-3 times and in the alt description of an image on the page.

In the footer section make sure you have the address on every page. Also make sure you include a phone number on every page. Put your business name and town name in home page title.

Put your keyword phrase in the first three words of the page title section.

Now you have an optimized website, but a website with out advertising is like a great TV commercial that never runs, or is seen by anyone. Which brings us to step 4

Step 4: Get Listed On Google, Bing, And Yahoo Local Directories

These directories are free to join, and once your listed, they can put your business right at the top of the search engines. You want to be listed on the top of Google more than any other, because they are used by 80+% of all the search engines. There is one thing more than any-other that will get you to the top of Google, citations. Related Post: Citation Finder

A citation is a mention of your business on other websites. So you want to join as many other free directories as you can find. There is a great new service called Whitespark, they help you to find the best directories and places to acquire citations. White spark cost $20.00 a month, but does a lot more than just find directories, they help you find local citation, and show you where your competition is getting their citations.

There is another local citation finder website. It will help you to see what directories your listed in, and where your not listed. Getlisted.org may not be free for long, but it is for now.

Make sure you take your time and completely fill out every profile on citation websites. One point of supreme importance it to make sure you have one phone number associated with your business address. Also, however you describe your address, business hours, business name, on your website should be the exact same way you list it on all the directories and citation websites. This can be time consuming work, dedicate one day a week or month to get some until you have got 60 or so citations.

The next best way to cruise to the top of Google is by getting your customers to leave reviews on these directories. I offer my customers a $25.00-$100 rebate if write a review for me. I ask that they email me their name, address, and phone number, with proof of an online review. Once you get citations and reviews, you need to start link building, which brings us to step 5.

Step 5: Links, Links, And More Links

Links are to organic search what citations are to local directory listings. It’s not enough to be listed in the local directories, you need to be on the first page of Google organically as well as in the directories. In order to do this you need links. You need links from other web pages to yours. Some of the best local links lately are coming from the BBB (Better Business Bureau), local CC (chambers of commerce), and clubs, like the Elks and the Lions.

It will cost you $500.00 or so for the BBB and another $350.00 for the Local CC, but both have payment plans. The BBB is offering a free moth right now and a $50.00 a month fee after the free month. The CC will break the $350.00 payment up into $75.00 payments.

Other simple link sources include: submitting articles to online magazines, writing guest posts for blogs, and local neighborhood patch informational sites.

Related Posts: How to build Links | How to Build Citations | How To Rank Higher In Google Maps

Yodle Reviews & Complaints – Is It Worth The Money

yodle review speakerPro’s & Con’s of Yodle Local Advertising Services

This is primarily a Yodle Review, but you can apply all the pro’s and con’s to all big box store online advertising companies that target small and local businesses. For specific complaints about Yodle, read all the comments left by others below.

Local online advertising is big business being targeted by large corporations like Yodle. They offer local advertising specials to small businesses with a “legal guarantee”. They guarantee you will be on the first page of Google in your town for vertical specific keywords within 60 -90 days or you don’t pay the monthly fees.

You need to understand what good local online advertising is to decide if Yodle is worth the money. Good online marketing and high rankings can be summed up to Good Content and Links to your website.

How Much Does Yodle Cost? | Yodle Pricing | Yodle Fees

The cost for the Yodle package outlined above is $179.00 per town, per month, and no set-up fee. If you visit the Yodle website for pricing you will be directed to a squeeze page (a page designed to acquire your contact info) before you get answers. You pay only for the first two – three months, then only the months you are on the front page of Google. However, their legal guarantee does not cover the first 2-3 months, you have to pay for those.

The gist of what I have been hearing from their customers is that they get you on the first page for keywords that just don’t convert to leads or customers. These concerns have been reported by people that signed on for a $450.00 a month package.

After three months they have spent close to $1400.00 and have not got enough new customers to break even. They then bailout taking the loss. Then they are left trying to reclaim their own Local Google Maps and Bing Listings. Yodle claimed them during this time and changed their phone number to a Yodle tracking number.

It takes longer than three months for most campaigns to become effective. It appears that Yodle is not properly setting customer expectations. Their sales staff is more interested in getting the sale than properly and honestly setting expectations.

I am going to mix the pro’s and con’s of doing your local online advertising with Yodle

Negative: They do not optimize your website, they create you a new website by using your websites content, and host it on one of their own domain names.

There are many negatives to this, which include:

  1. Having two domain names with the same content is a Google no-no, Google penalizes websites for having duplicate content. If they out-rank your existing website, it will be your website that gets penalized for having duplicate content, not the Yodle site.
  2. As soon as you stop paying them, you own nothing, they redirect traffic to someone else, maybe a local competitor.
  3. If you had invested this money with a local online advertising company (*cough like mine), Your website would be yours and continue to produce leads for years to come, even if you stopped paying for services.
  4. For almost $200.00 a month you only get optimized for one town.
  5. The sites I have audited have very little content and pretty crappy link profiles.

Pro’s: This is a slightly better system than Home Advisor or Roof Networx – Yodle vs. Home Advisor

Local online advertising with Yodle is a lot like lead generation sites like Service Magic a.k.a Home Advisor, money goes to generating leads, as soon as you stop paying the company, you have nothing to show for your investment, but hopefully you made some money off the leads, hopefully more than you spent for them.

Yodle is better than Home Advisor because they generate leads just for you, and Service Magic /Home Advisor sells their leads to you and two other competing contractors. But Yodle owns the domain name and phone number to your business (not-good)!

Also with Lead gen sites, you pay per lead, Yodle fees are fixed at a maximum monthly fee. So let’s do the math: If Home Advisor charges 30.00 a lead, and gives you 30 new roof leads a month you pay $900.00, but if you can generate more than 6 leads a month with Yodle, each lead after the first 6 are essentially free, your total investment is $179.00. So Yodle would be better “if” they could get you 30 leads.

Negative: They provide you with a call tracking phone number

It doesn’t sound like a negative when they say it. They tell you the call tracking phone number is so you can track all the leads your getting from them in a report. The report shows how many phone calls you get from their online advertising. That piece is actually good! It would be great if you got to keep the phone number, but you don’t.

Sounds good right? Well this is one more way they own you! If you stop feeding the machine they stop redirecting your calls to you. People looking for your brand will find Yodle’s phone number not yours. If you ever want to change internet advertising providers, they will not port the phone number to you.

Also, they put their phone number on your Yahoo, Bing, and Google local directory listings. So good luck ranking locally, or even reclaiming your own business on these local directories, should you want to change service providers or go it alone. Google won’t list a business with two different phone numbers for one address. They will think your trying to spam their directory, even though your not.

Pro: They put you on the front page of Google and have a “legal guarantee”

Down side seems limited, if they don’t do what they say they will, you don’t pay. The loss is limited to 2-3 months of $179.00 (if you only go for a one town package). They will keep working to get your business listed on the first page of Google for free after the first 2-3 months, free until your listed.

I would caution anyone thinking of using the Yodle for local online advertising, be very specific about what qualifies as being on the first page. Make sure they are guaranteeing you get on Google for competitive keywords and not the name of your business.

It is super easy to rank well for your own unique company name. The challenge is getting ranked well for your industry specific keywords with a large amount of search volume. Also, which section of the search engine will you be listed on: Google Maps? AdWords /PPC? or Organic?

What is Yodle Roofing?

Yodle is trying to rank themselves for searches done by roofing contractors looking for local online advertising agencies. So besides optimizing their own website, they have begun creating category specific sites like Yodle Roofing, Yodle Dentisits, Yodle Lawyers etc…

I use a similar tactic to attract all forms of contractors. Instead of creating new sites on different domains, I have a specific page on my main domain. See my contractor advertising page for example. People doing searches for contractor advertising companies  find this page.

Yodle is targeting specific industries with unique domain names and websites. This makes them look like specialists in these fields. I mainly work with local contractors and professionals in the United States, Yodle does not actually specialize, they only look like they do.

Local online advertising & return on investment

Advertising successfully means making money! If you can give Yodle $179.00 a month and they can give you one or two new customers a month, or even a year, would it be worth the investment? For many contractors the answer is yes! Many roofing contractors for example give $250.00 kickbacks for a single sold job. If your selling more than one a month with Yodel, its worth $179.00 all day long.

It is plain to most people that it is better to own than to rent for obvious reasons

Consider what your business would be worth should you go to sell it in five years. You will get a lot more for it if you own your website, and phone number. With a website that generates a 100k per year in new business, versus renting a domain name, website and phone number.

Investing in your own online presence builds equity in your company and eventually reduces the cost of leads. What will you do if they decide to raise rates, or sell out to another company? Your stuck starting from scratch to build a web presence. Also, all your old customers that have that tracking phone number have no way to get a hold of you if you end up leaving or using a less expensive service.

I believe people who only have a small amount to pay for attracting new customers, might be better off learning to use Google Adwords on their own, or working with a local online advertising company, and investing in their own online presence. An online presence that will pay them back in leads, years after they stop paying for online marketing services.

Why build up a brand that someone else owns the domain name or phone number to?

Is Yodle worth it? – Yodle Review

Be sure to read the comments below, I have some great comments from previous Yodle customers and one comment from Yodle themselves. Every-time someone writes a review about them, their reputation management team joins the conversation and tries to smooth things over.

By now you may have guessed that I am in direct competition with Yodle. But what I am telling you is the honest to God truth! They’re are better options available. Local online advertising is totally worth it but you need to get with a company that isn’t going to give you a crappy little website that has little original content and a weak link profile.

If you insist on going with Yodle, only sign up for their cheapest package. It is over priced but offers way more value than their more expensive packages.

I (Mike) wrote the article above and have a lot of people contacting me to compare online advertising packages and see what I offer. I am currently not offering any services.