“Search engine marketing” can be a very intimidating term for local business owners. This intimidating term refers to the work you do to position your website so it is found at the top of search results pages when someone looks for you or for what you do.
Unfortunately, it does require WORK. Websites rarely show up in the top ten results just by luck. Often, it requires focused effort to get in the top ten and persistent effort to stay there.
For many local business owners, it is just too overwhelming to learn all the ins-and-outs of search engine marketing and it is impossible to find the time to do all the work. As a result, search engine marketing efforts by local business owners are accomplished in random moments of marketing. Many owners are so unconfident in the work they have done that they just stop their efforts in frustration.
Just as some owners quit their efforts, others never even start. The ones who quit have decided that it is too much effort to do and too expensive to get help. The ones who never started have decided that they don’t need the Internet and that traditional marketing methods are still good enough.
Both outlooks are unfortunate because they are both wrong.
While it may be too much effort to do, it certainly isn’t too expensive to get help. Especially from search engine marketers who specialize in small, local businesses and who understand your needs and constraints. What your marketer builds will be built much faster than you can build it on your own and it will be connecting you with customers and making you money much faster than if you piecemeal your marketing efforts over time.
Deciding that you don’t need Internet marketing overlooks the fact that the number of people who have grown up relying solely on the Internet to discover their world is growing exponentially. Currently, you can find young adults who have never looked up a movie time in a newspaper, never used the yellow pages, and have sent less than ten letters in their lifetime. They bank online and through ATMs. They pay bills online and over the phone. Speaking of phones, they have never used a payphone. They always have a cellphone with them and are connected to the Internet all day, every day, everywhere they go. They find restaurants and places to go through the apps on their cellphone. They live online enough that they discover who to date and who to marry online.
Businesses, even local businesses, need to be online.
The bare bones version of being online is having a website. It is expected that businesses have a website. Websites legitimize your local business and inform customers about you.
That website doesn’t do a local business any good though if that website isn’t found at the top of search engine results. That is the reality. Being found on the first page of search engine results is crucial if you want to reach customers.
In the following list, you can see for yourself how important it is to be at the top of the results.
- First place ranking gets 42% of the visitors.
- Second place ranking gets 12% of the visitors.
- Third place ranking gets 6% of the visitors.
- Fourth place ranking gets 5% of the visitors.
- Fifth place ranking gets 4% of the visitors.
- and it just gets smaller from there.
Ideally, local businesses need to get first place rankings. Those rankings don’t happen by accident; they demand serious local search engine marketing savvy.
That is where hiring a search engine marketing company that specializes in local businesses comes in.
Most SEM companies will give you a free consultation. Take advantage of this and visit with several. The prices can be quite varied and you should talk to several companies before you choose the package and price range that fits your needs and budget.
During the consultation, listen to your gut about how much the company is interested in you, your business needs, and your target customers. If they seem more interested in your budget and having you sign a contract, keep looking until you find someone who is focused on your needs.
The company should never promise results. Search engine marketing is more art than science.
Before they tell you what they can do for you, it should be obvious that they have done some research about your business. They should look at how your website is currently reaching your customers. They should look at how your competitors are your customers currently. They should understand the lifetime value of a customer so they understand your business process.
They should make you feel confident that you are doing the best thing for your business by focusing on the part of your business you do best and that makes you money and be letting them handle marketing your business in the ways that they do best so you can make more money.
Whatever you do, don’t start and don’t quit. Your business needs to be online and well-positioned yesterday. So if it wasn’t, you really should start to fix that today.