In the lead-up to Small Business Saturday, I’ll be sharing tips and insights from leading online community experts on how business owners can get more out of social media. This week, I caught up with Todd Mintz, who has more than 10 years’ experience in the search marketing industry.
Search marketing is an incredibly powerful tool for attracting customers, but its jargon can be a bit daunting. I asked Todd to shed some light on how business owners can use search marketing to attract local customers this holiday season.
Q: What is your top social media tip for business owners looking to make the most of the holiday season?
A: Participate. Go out of your way to join in relevant local conversations without trying to sell anything. If you come across to others as helpful and resourceful, people will want to learn more about you and your business. And as they discover what you're about, they'll remember you if they have a relevant need that you might be able to fulfill.
Q: Can getting mentions in blogs help with local search rankings, and if so, what are some good ways to find and connect with local bloggers?
A: Absolutely. With the personalization and localization of search results, a relevant local link will be much more helpful and valuable to you than a generic non-local link. A couple good ways to connect with local bloggers:
Offer to write a guest post. Most local bloggers will welcome high-quality, relevant guest content.
- Find something the blogger has written and leave a relevant comment. After making a few relevant comments (so the blogger knows you), introduce yourself via e-mail. Then, let the relationship evolve naturally.
Q: What's the most important thing businesses neglect to do when trying to build visibility through local search?
A: Online Reputation Management. Almost every business has pages on Google and other places where the public can review their business. Businesses typically get negative reviews that are often ignored by the business owner. A negative review is a wonderful opportunity for customer engagement because not only are you able to perhaps turn the dissatisfied customer into a brand advocate for you, but your engagement with critics will be noticed by other prospective customers evaluating whether to use your services. That kind of engagement can help take the sting out of previous criticism.
Q: Should businesses consider adding holiday content to their sites to improve local ranking, and what tips should they keep in mind?
A: Holiday content should be added if relevant to the business. However, you don't add holiday content to get search rankings; you add holiday content to show relevance to customers and hopefully increase conversion and engagement. People frequently forget that there is much higher ROI in increasing the conversion potential of an existing site, as opposed to trying to generate new customers via search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. The more relevant your site is to customer needs, the more likely that you'll sell to them.
I hope you’ll keep Todd’s advice about managing your online reputation in mind as you build your own online presence through search marketing and other tools. For more of his insights on local search marketing, be sure and read his article How To Drive Local Search Traffic Through Yahoo and Bing Search Marketing.