Small business owner’s are sometimes reluctant to admit failing online. The local SEO aspect of showing up in local search is almost non-existent. They will say, “I show up pretty well in local search” but yet they don’t get hardly any leads from the business website. Few prospects report finding you online and many can’t remember.
The answer to why local businesses are not found on Google is not always obvious, but usually stems from years and years of SEO neglect. This involves placing too much trust in your website designer who is probably a great designer, but horrible at SEO. Many web designer’s freely admit it and send SEO work elsewhere, while others keep it in-house and convince clients it is being handled. If that’s true, why are these very same local businesses nowhere to be found while searching online? If your website was built years ago or even 90-days, it’s probably needs some optimization to meet current search parameters. In the world of search and SEO, a couple of months is long time and much will be change. Small businesses and website designers don’t have time to stay on top of it all.
Many business owners turn the key each day on their brick-and-mortar retail store and lock-up each night with very little thought of what’s happening online. That is the nature of main street retail. It’s not that these business owner’s are not aware of prospects searching online, it’s a mindset that if they don’t cross over the front door threshold, I won’t have a chance to make a sale. This may be true for today, but how about tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. There is less relationship building happening online compared to prospects who are in the store physically. In some industries, business owners are listening and interacting on social media, answering questions, assisting prospects with ideas and solutions, harvesting email address for future follow-up and so on. These business owners have discovered that prospects want to interact in a variety of ways and it’s not always in person or face-to-face.
Future prospects will come from those researching your products and services online. The business who engages with them, in the mode the prospect chooses, will win the sale. Businesses no longer dictate how the transaction will happen, it’s the prospect telling the business how they want the transaction to happen. Business owners can comply and do the deal or simply say, “no, you will have to come down during business hours to take care of that”
Year’s ago when I was selling cars online, I remember asking my dealership if I could deliver a car to the client and sign them up at the kitchen table. My dealer, who was becoming more progressive, said sure, why not. We generated (2) sets of Finance Documents, one with warranty and one without. A driver then followed me to the prospects house on the far east side of Portland. The buyer lived right around corner from our strongest local competitor, but decided to buy from me based on how they were treated, and our desire to complete the transaction in the manner they wished.
The consumer of tomorrow is here today. You may not have discovered them yet because you’re not listening on the right channels. Take the time to find out how your prospect wants to do business, engage with them, and find out how your solution will meet their needs.
Retailer’s may have exact products and services an online prospect is looking for, but get’s excluded because the search engine results don’t display your business. In other words, online you don’t exist for those particular keywords. Sure, you have a website, a few business listings, some social media sites, but your still not showing up for the most searched terms people use to find what you sell. That’s when first realize, the only chance I have to sell something is when and if someone walks through the front door. That’s a bad situation to be in given the following statistics. The implications will motivate any business owner to take action and make sure their products and services show up in local search.
Look at how quickly a prospect takes action, within 24-hours they will visit your store. If you would have taken the time (or spent the money) to get noticed in local search, you might have won a conversion, visit to your store.
You see, being found on Google was not a priority back when people did not use the internet. Do you even remember? It was only 10-15 years ago that online searches first started growing. People used a directory to find a Plumber, Attorney, Car Dealer, CPA, etc. You remember, the Yellowbook and Superpages was really popular. They have all done a complete makeover to reinvent how they serve local business. They are no longer relevant and should not be considered a viable lead generator. If you’re rocking the yellow pages with tons of leads, shows, and sales, we have to talk. I want to find out who your prospect is and understand why they are not searching online. Most people I know cannot find a copy of the Yellow pages in their homes anymore. Maybe it’s just me, but when mine arrives, it goes into the recycle bin the same day I get it.
Today’s business owner’s can no longer view SEO as a luxury “advertising expense” reserved for bigger competitor’s. It must now be thought of as, “top priority” and a must have. Local SEO is now a necessity to being found online and the only question business owner’s should now ask is, “how much SEO can I afford?” You need to strive for page#1 Google. The reason you must make it is, if you’re not page#1 Google, your business does not exist. SEO can provide the highest ROI of any online advertising spend if it’s correctly implemented by a reputable SEO who is using only “White Hat”, proven, and sustainable strategies. It is tempting to get a quick fix when your business is invisible online, but I caution you to dig deeper and realize a quick rise to prominence online draws scrutiny from Google, Yahoo, and Bing. If you get to page#1 quickly, someone is using unnatural link building tactics that are not sustainable and may potentially damage your future ability to being found online. Quality SEO takes time, building natural links, and writing unique content that inspires and informs your readers. SEO done correctly, takes time and follows guidelines set forth by all the major search engines. If you’re looking for quick website traffic (instant) buy PPC (Pay-per-click) on Google AdWords, Yahoo, or Bing advertising platforms. You should also try social media advertising on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. All have paid advertising platforms that drive instant traffic to your offers, web pages, etc. Advertising on these platforms can also increase foot traffic, phone calls, and email leads.
Don’t mess with tried and true SEO strategies, just find a trusted SEO and set a budget you can afford now. It is better to start than sit on the sidelines. If you don’t, you may never catch your competition and be stuck with long-term PPC campaigns with Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other’s.
Traditional, brick-and-mortar businesses in local communities across America still derive sales from foot traffic, referrals, and word of mouth. There is also the element of “buy local” that benefits some, but not if you’re in the new car business! Buyer’s quickly forgo the local mentality to save potentially thousands of dollars elsewhere.
If your selling low value products, it’s likely you will get the local business. Local business owner’s fortunate enough to be located in popular towns with robust tourism have more opportunities to close sales. My digital marketing agency is located in McMinnville, Oregon. The downtown merchants typically enjoy more traffic compared to smaller, not as popular surrounding communities. McMinnville, Oregon was a finalist in “America’s Best Main Street” contest published by Parade Magazine.
Allowing your business to disappear from online search is not necessary. The process of getting found online does not have to prohibitive to main street America business. All it takes is a some analysis, research, and a plan. SEO is the key to making it happen. The local referrals will always be there, but prospects searching online have yet to meet you. Don’t disappear online, spend some time finding out what you need to be doing.