Blog Archive

Archive for August, 2012

Local SEO Strategies That Can Attract Customers To Your Business

online marketing for small businessThe internet and online social media attract an audience too big for businesses to ignore. Regardless of what you sell, your company’s size or location, the potential for online marketing is growing every year and business owners that take advantage of it are rewarded for their efforts.

According to marketing research, an increasing number of consumers go online when they are looking for local businesses in their area or want to learn more about the products available near their homes. Therefore, having a strong internet presence is essential for a successful business strategy.

Using a mix of online social media websites and localized search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, any business owner can raise the profile of their enterprise and attract more customers. Here are a few easy tips on how to boost your business’s search engine results:

Localize Your Keywords and SEO Marketing Strategies

It sounds simple, but many forget to do it. Where is your business located? The name of the town, state or region where do business should be a prominent on your company’s web site and not just on the front page, but in subtexts, titles, keywords, tags and other SEO tools.

Data on your website analytics tells you that you have lots of customers searching for you from a particular city or region, you should include that area by name in your keywords. If you find that visitors are hitting your website with a search term paired with a city or state name, optimize your online content for that particular city/state name.

An easy way to increase your visibility in specific areas is to simply include city and state names with the keywords you’re optimizing. Search engines will recognize your keywords and link them with the regions you’re targeting, so when someone within your area searches for your services, your business is more likely to rank higher due to that association with both service and regional relevance.

Join Google+ Local

Google is God in the digital world and will shine light on your business if you do as it pleases. Not only is Google the most widely-used search platform on the internet, but it provides a number of free, simple features you can use to promote your business directly to search engine users that are actively looking for your products and services.

With a little effort, you can boost your small business’s visibility on the internet by providing Google with some basic information about your business. The more you provide, the easier it will be for customers to find you through Google search.

When you complete a profile on Google’s “Places for Business”, your company will be easy to find on Google Maps, Google Shopping, Google+ Local, and many other Google Search products.

Take Advantage of Customer Review Sites

Sometimes, online customer reviews can make or break a business. Internet date reveals 72 percent of consumers find online reviews are as trustworthy as personal recommendations, and 52 percent said positive online reviews about a local business increase the likelihood they will visit the business.

The answer is clear: online reviews are becoming more popular, and more consumers are referring directly to the Internet to seek out local businesses. Therefore, any smart business will make these customer reviews work for their business. That doesn’t mean you should spam fake reviews of your own business all across the Internet, and it doesn’t mean you should use these review sites to slam your competition—those are bad practices that can get you blacklisted on Google Places and can destroy your good name as a reputable business in no time.

Instead, encourage your customers to leave positive reviews online. You can’t force customers to really do anything, but if just a handful of them leave positive reviews on the Internet about your business, those will become valuable testimonials that will encourage more potential customers to pay your business a visit.

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Online Social Media: Five Strategies That Can Help Healthcare Providers

social mediaA strong presence with online social media can help healthcare business and health care practitioners improve their visibility on the web. More and more, it’s becoming essential for hospitals and health providers to reconsider their marketing strategies and start mixing social media into the equation.

To help understand the possible applications, consider these five examples of how the social web can work for hospitals and others in the healthcare industry:

  • Share Information with Patients
: With the magnitude of health information available on the web – both accurate and inaccurate – it’s likely that patients can easily be misinformed. By integrating social media into your healthcare marketing strategy, organizations can share accurate, timely information regarding symptoms, diseases, medications, treatments and more.
  • Live Procedures Tweeting: 
Social media channels have helped open an area of healthcare that was, until recently, available to a select few: the operating room. Last February, Henry Ford Hospital became one of the first hospitals to use tweet a live procedure from an operating room. Doctors, medical students and curious non-medical personnel followed along as surgeons posted short updates on a kidney surgery to remove a cancerous tumor.
  • Appeal to Mainstream Media: 
Reporters have become tech savvy. Seventy percent of journalists use social networks to assist reporting, compared with 41 percent the year before. With numbers that high, it only makes sense for healthcare marketers to leverage social media channels in order to achieve coverage by both mainstream media and industry publications. As part of healthcare marketing efforts, organizations can use social media channels – including blogs, forums and microblogs – to share success stories from out-of-the-ordinary operations or treatments, medical research or other significant achievements.
  • Communicate during Times of Crisis: 
Whether it be a flood, an earthquake or a mass shooting, hospitals and healthcare providers are at the center of it all when a disaster strikes. Healthcare providers can use social media networks to provide real-time updates both for those directly affected by the crisis and those watching from afar.
  • Train Medical Personnel to Tweet: 
Some healthcare organizations have begun leveraging social media channels to complement training efforts. The Mayo Clinic, for example, incorporated social media into a recent training presentation for local chapters of the American Heart Association. During the presentation, participants were encouraged to contribute to the discussion using the #AHAchat hashtag

The truth is the numbers: online marketing is crucial and social media can help lift your business through the rankings in Google searches. A study by iCrossing and Opinion Research Corporation, “How America Searches: Health & Wellness,” discovered 34 percent of consumers use social media to search for health information and 36 percent what to see what other consumers say about medication or treatment. The study also found 67 percent use online search engines to find healthcare services.

Study says web sites and social media boost small businesses growth

social-media-toolsA recent survey shows small business owners have more customers today than they did at the beginning of the year and they credit the growth to their online presence. Vistaprint, an online marketing service, announced the survey findings in its second “Small Business Happiness Index” for 2012.

“It is clear that micro business owners recognize the importance of having a web presence and how it can positively impact their business,” said Don LeBlanc, chief marketing executive at Vistaprint. “Being online extends the potential reach of small businesses and introduces them to new audiences and customers. Interestingly, the survey shows that 75 percent of respondents are generating revenue from their businesses, but only 46 are actually selling products on their websites. That indicates that websites are also driving brand awareness through search results.”

Data from the survey concerning the usage of websites and social media platforms supports LeBlanc’s statements:

  • 69 percent of micro businesses surveyed currently have a website
  • 90 percent of respondents feel that it is important to have a website
  • Of those micro business owners who have a website, 75 percent are generating revenue either directly or indirectly through a website
  • A little less than half (46 percent) sell physical products on their website
  • 56 percent of micro business owners have a Facebook page for their small business

The index gauges micro business owner sentiment and provides information on topics that include their overall happiness, customer growth and revenue. Additionally, this survey focused on small businesses and their presence online, including owning a website and leveraging social media.
Survey findings show the economy is slowly rebounding and business is going generally well for small business owners: 27 percent are on track to make the same amount of money as last year, while 46 percent are on track to make more money this year. Additionally, 55 percent of small business owners have more customers now than they did at the beginning of the year.

The quarterly survey generated nearly 1,500 responses from U.S. based micro businesses (businesses with between 1-10 employees) and showed that the vast majority are optimistic about running their own businesses, with 77 percent reporting that they are very happy. Respondents also said that running a small business is ideal for them, as over 85 percent somewhat prefer or strongly prefer working for themselves.

Vistaprint conducts regular surveys with its U.S. micro business customer base, defined as small businesses with between 1-10 employees that primarily work out of their homes and generate less than $100,000 annually in revenues. This online survey was conducted from June 10 to June 17, 2012 with nearly 1,500 total respondents and a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.