Want your business to be found by local customers? Who doesn’t

Local Business

When it comes to marketing a local business online, local citations play an important role in improving SEO and boosting visibility in local search results. This is especially true in mobile search results. Most likely, this isn’t anything you haven’t read about before, but in 2017 this is even more significant.

As search engine algorithms continue to evolve and get smarter, we have to get smarter and more focused on where we build citations for our local businesses.

A local citation is any mention of a business online that includes the business name, address, and phone number with a description centered around keyword phrases corresponding to website content (often referred to as NAP).

Common citation sources include directory sites, data aggregators (i.e. Factual, Acxiom, Localeze, and Infogroup), Chamber of Commerce websites, social media, review sites such a Yelp, plus Google My Business and Bing Places. It’s important to note that a mention of the business on its own website doesn’t count as a citation.

A majority of citations include a link to the business’ website or additional information. Local citations are a valuable component of local SEO optimization regardless of whether they provide the business with a direct link. The benefits of citations go way beyond getting backlinks.


Why Citations Are Important for Your Local Businesses

Search engines use citations (among many other SEO factors) as a primary gauge of a business’ online reputation. So the more quality citations a business has online, the higher the business’ placement will be in local search engine result pages.

The prevailing mindset over the past decade has been that having more citations is always better, but this is no longer valid. In fact, low-quality citations, particularly those that link to your website, can negatively impact Google’s trust in the business. Rather than trying to improve a business’ online reputation through sheer volume, we focuses on identifying and targeting specific high-quality directories. We only submit local businesses to directories that meet the strictest of qualifications, which we determine based on 23 different metrics, including domain authority. 

Another important characteristic of valuable ethical directory sources is that they distribute their data across other directories and networks, thus acting as a data amplifier for local business citations.

The process of optimizing a business listing on these sites requires time, attention and understanding and CAN NOT BE AUTOMATED.

For example, ensuring the business citation is 100% accurate is extremely important. And once a business is listed on a directory, ensuring the listing remains accurate and maintains a consistent NAP can be tedious. Oftentimes, businesses are listed on directories without even being aware of it. Having duplicate citations confuses customers, impacts trust among search engines, such as Google, and hurts the business more than it helps. Bad data is a real problem for local businesses.

We create, submit and monitor all elements and provide you with a dedicated dashboard in order to monitor all activities in real time.

Check how your website appears in search results by clicking here


Small businesses: Don’t overlook your digital marketing strategy

Recently I have had the opportunity to speak at two business to government events focused on small business issues. At each of these events I spoke with several small business owners who had common issues, to wit: I don’t need marketing, I need more (fill in the blank with: sales, contracts, task orders or sub-contracts).

This has been a common complaint since I started my company in 1985. Marketing, it seems, is superfluous and is not required to win more business, get contracts or sub-contracting agreements, or to drive sales. Apparently all you need to do is be in business and customers will appear.

There is a significant disconnect here that must be addressed.

Business does not happen in a vacuum. Traffic to your web site, sales leads, incoming emails and inquiries via telephone do not occur without specific actions.

The 2015 Market Connections study on B2G Content Marketing finds that various types of content influence the government procurement process at each stage. These are; identification of a need, budget allocation, determining requirements, drafting the RFP, identifying potential bidders, proposal evaluation, and approving the purchase.

Most valuable digital content

Among the marketing tactics that influence the process (each weighted differently at each stage) are webinars, case studies, enewsletters, ebooks/interactive publications, marketing collateral, infographics, podcasts and blogs.

Event attendance and company web sites are obvious omissions and both are equally important in the process. There are many contracting officers who will view a bidder’s website to verify claimed areas of expertise, subject matter experts and more. Some contracting officers also look on LinkedIn.

The point is that feds collect and review information during the procurement process, as do the primes during their partner selection process. If you are not a producer of this information, the likelihood of being included at the end of the process is next to zero.

Potentially hundreds of companies compete for each piece business bid by the federal government, either as a prime or team member. How you stand out and how you differentiate your company during the process can determine whether or not you have a role at the conclusion of the process.

When primes vet a potential subcontractor, they look for several things, among them:

  • Do you have a relationship with the client that is significant?
  • Do you have a product, service, or process that adds value to the ultimate solution?
  • Does your company possess known subject matter experts (SME) in the area?

Suppose a small business executive meets a program manager from a prime contractor at an event and has a few minutes to explain what her company does. The program manager has some interest and after the event looks up the company and the executive on LinkedIn…and sees little or nothing.

Then they look at the website and find a generic “IT services” menu, nothing highlighting the area of expertise mentioned in the conversation: no case study, white paper or webinar, nothing highlighting the SME they claim to have on staff.

Having your set-aside status on your web site as your lead argument buys you nothing. Claiming to be an “IT services” firm, or worse claiming to be a “systems integrator” with a staff of 20 puts you in the category of generalist. There are thousands of generalists.

Opportunity lost.

Among the arguments I hear are:

  • If we post white papers or case studies, other companies steal our ideas.
  • If we highlight our SMEs, bigger companies will hire them away.
  • If we focus on a specific area, prospects won’t look at us for other opportunities.

And the list goes on.

Focusing on a core competency opens more doors than it closes. Agencies and primes don’t want small company partners that do everything, they want a partner that does one thing better than 95 percent of the competition.

Consultant Bob Davis calls this a sustainable competitive advantage. It is sustainable because you are truly several notches above most other companies and it will take a while for the competition to catch up.

Having that advantage is one thing, publicizing it to the right audiences is something else. If you expect traffic to occur simply because you have a unique, or near unique, skill, guess again.

The small contractor marketing to do list includes several actions, among them:

  • Defining your niche area of expertise
  • Making certain your web site clearly enunciates this expertise- and backs it up
  • Creating informative materials that support and demonstrate the expertise:
    • White papers
    • Case studies
    • Webinars
    • Videos
    • Podcasts
    • Leveraging social media to
      • Highlight your in-house SMEs
      • Create company and individual profiles that support the area of expertise
      • Share the informative materials you have created

This is not the maximum necessary, this is the minimum if you are seeking a sustainable position in the government contracting arena.

Marketing is not a superfluous activity in government contracting.

Until you define who the influencers are in the equation of selling your product or service, then put sufficient information in front of them to position your solution, you will be sitting in a lonely office somewhere, waiting for the phone to ring, looking at Google analytics to determine if your web site had another visitor this week, and wondering if anyone will ever view your LinkedIn profile.

Not that I have an opinion.

About the Author

Mark Amtower advises government contractors on all facets of business-to-government (B2G) marketing and leveraging LinkedIn.

This Malware Can Delete and Replace Your Entire Chrome Browser with a lookalike

Security researchers have uncovered a new piece of Adware that replaces your entire browser with a dangerous copy of Google Chrome, in a way that you will not notice any difference while browsing.
The new adware software, dubbed “eFast Browser,” works by installing and running itself in place of Google Chrome
The adware does all kinds of malicious activities that we have seen quite often over the years:
  • Generates pop-up, coupon, pop-under and other similar ads on your screen
  • Placing other advertisements into your web pages
  • Redirects you to malicious websites containing bogus contents
  • Tracking your movements on the web to help nefarious marketers send more crap your way to generating revenue


50 Astonishing Mobile Search Stats and Why You Should Care

Here are 50 astonishing mobile search stats about the rise of mobile search:

1. Global smartphone use will reach 2 billion by 2015 (Bloomberg)

2. Nearly half of American smartphone owners used shopping apps in June 2012 (MarketingPilgrim)

3. 45 percent of users between 18 and 29 use mobile search daily (Icebreaker Consulting)

4. 31 percent of mobile Internet users mostly go online using cell phones (Pew 2012)

5. Across all industries, mobile traffic is increasing by 3.5 percent per month (Televox)

6. 35 percent of smartphone owners expect to access the Internet using their phone more in the future (Televox)

7. The number of local searches on mobile devices quadrupled in 2012 (Local Search Association)

8. Of the estimated 30 billion annual mobile searches, about 12 billion are local searches (Search Engine Land)

9. Tablet users access search 73.9 percent of the time, more than any other activity (eMarketer)

10. Local mobile searches (85.9 billion) are projected to exceed desktop searches (84 billion) for the fist time in 2015 (eMarketer)

Key Takeaway: The time to start your mobile marketing was yesterday. By the end of 2013, your marketing may look antiquated if you haven’t adopted marketing that appeals to smartphone and tablet users. Consider responsive design, monitor how people access your site to assess whether building an application is a good idea and build more visual and shorter content.

Lost in a sea of data? It doesn’t have to be this way. PR is about people and relationships. Get Brian Solis’ free e-book to see why humanity is the next killer app!

Tablet Usage – Mobile Search StatsSetting of searches

11. 77 percent of mobile searches occur at home or work—even if a PC is nearby and readily available (Search Engine Land)

12. 40 percent of mobile searches happen between 6pm and 12pm (MarketingPilgrim)

13. Of mobile searches, 40 percent occur on tablets and 60 percent on smartphones (Icebreaker Consulting)

Smartphone Usage – Mobile search stats14. Mobile search queries almost double during the holidays (snaphop)

15. Shopping searches are two times more likely to be performed in-store (Google Mobile Ads)

16. Smartphone use most often occurs during travel (72 percent), in restaurants (64 percent) and in stores (63 percent) (Vocus Blog)

17. Tablet use most often occurs in the living room (88 percent) or bedroom (79 percent compared to at work (24 percent) (Vocus)

18. 80 percent of smartphone owners use their device in stores to shop (Google – Mobile in Store)

19. One in six smartphone owners use mobile to assist in shopping at least once a week (Google – Mobile in Store)

Key Takeaway: “Mobile doesn’t always mean on-the-go,” says Scott Benson, Vocus SEO manager. Even if you operate a business outside of the retail space, you must prepare for searchers to access your site.

“Mobile is where your customers are searching even when they have access to a computer,” he says.

Mobile Search Motivation – Mobile Search Stats
Mobile searchers not only want information in an instant because they may act soon.

20. Two-thirds of in-store mobile searches are conducted to help make purchasing decisions (MarketingPilgrim)

21. 33 percent of mobile searches and 20 percent of desktop searches have a local intent (SmallBizTrends)

22. 81 percent of people prefer mobile for its convenience and speed (Vocus Blog)

23. 45 percent of mobile searches are ‘goal-oriented’

24. 17 percent of people make a purchase after a mobile search

25. 94 percent of smartphone owners look for local information on their phone (Televox)

26. 84 percent of smartphone shoppers use their devices to guide their in-store shopping experiences (Google – In-Store Search)

27. 82 percent of mobile shoppers use search to influence their purchasing decisions (Google – In-Store Search)

Key Takeaway: You must analyze your site and content marketing to determine if it is appealing to mobile searchers, says Scott.

Determine what terms mobile device users search and produce quick-hitting content that addresses these queries. Also look at your analytics to determine the devices people use to access your site and find the landing pages that earn the most traffic.

Mobile Actions – Mobile search stats
More than one in every four mobile searches ends in conversion.

Actions it inspires

28. 73 percent of mobile searches trigger follow-up actions (SearchEngineLand)

29. 28 percent of mobile searches result in conversions (SearchEngineLand)

30. Google conducts 30 million click-to-calls each month (SmallBizTrends)

31. 70 percent of mobile searches for products or services will result in a sale in the near future (Televox)

32. When searchers seek local information, 70 percent connect with the business (Televox)

33. Searchers are 55 percent more likely to notice ads when they’re in a store (Google – Mobile In Store)

34. Searchers using mobile to help make a decision are 30 percent likelier to visit a retail website (Google – Creating Moments That Matter)

35. Mobile searchers to aid buying decisions result in a 57 percent higher likelihood that the searcher visits a store (Google – Creating Moments That Matter)

36. Mobile searchers are 51 percent likelier to make a purchase (Google – Creating Moments That Matter)

37. Mobile searchers are 39 percent more likely to call a after for searching for information related to a buying decision (Google – Creating Moments That Matter)

38. 81 percent of conversions (defined as store visits, calls or purchases) triggered by mobile search occur within five hours (Google – Creating Moments That Matter)

39. 65 percent of respondents noticed ads during the study (Google – Creating Moments That Matter)

40. Including a city name in mobile ads increases click-through rates as much as 200 percent (MediaPost)

41. 48 percent of mobile users used a device to access local content in December

2012, up from 42 percent in December 2011 (Local Search Association)

42. Frequent mobile shoppers spend 25 percent more in-store than those who occasionally use smartphone to assist shopping (Google – Mobile In Store)

Key Takeaway: According Tim Reis, who leads Google’s mobile and social platform teams, mobile devices are personal to people, enabling marketers to connect with them better than a TV commercial ever could. Instead of shouting, look for authentic ways your brand can add value to the customer by teaching them something, making them laugh, giving them access to information or simply pass the time.

Mobile web sites – Mobile search stats
Your website not optimized for mobile like these? You’re losing customers.
Searcher Habits and Pet Peeves

43. 40 percent will click another mobile result if a site’s not mobile friendly (Icebreaker Consulting)

44. 46 percent of mobile users say they are unlikely to return to a website they had trouble accessing from their phone (Gomez)

45. 34 percent said they would visit a competitor’s site instead (Gomez)

46. 60 percent of mobile users expect a website to load in less than three seconds (Gomez – What Mobile Users Want)

47. Professional services websites not optimized for mobile are 24 percent more likely to have mobile visitors bounce (Televox)

48. A third of shoppers find information on their smartphone as opposed to contacting employees (Google – Mobile In Store)

49. Two-thirds of in-store shoppers prefer mobile sites to apps (Google – Mobile In store)

50. Mobile searches have a click through rate 30 percent lower than desktop (State of Search)

Key Takeaway: Google’s report about how mobile is changing in-store experiences notes that marketing to mobile users can get and keep them in your store. Follow Google’s three steps:

Create a mobile website that prominently displays retail locations and phone numbers
Make finding product information, offers and other information about your business easy to find
Reach more people by adjusting your marketing message based on the shopper’s location, time of day and device

Credit to Cision

2014 SEO trends (Author Jason Demers)

“Is SEO dead?” It’s a common question within the online marketing world today.

If you’re an entrepreneur relying on a strong online presence to connect with customers, you’re right to pay attention. It’s undeniable that the SEO landscape is changing.

For instance, Google is taking a hardline approach. Shady link-building tactics (think Rap Genius), poor quality content and bad design are just a few of the factors causing websites to get penalized. So what’s worked for your business in the past may no longer work, and in fact, could actually hurt your business now.

Today, successful SEO strategies have to incorporate diverse components including brand building, mobile optimization, content marketing and social media integration. It’s time to adapt your strategy to address these realities. Here’s a closer look at five trends that will shape your SEO success in the year ahead.

5 SEO Trends Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know for 2014

    Here We Go Again: What Entrepreneurs Need to Know About Hummingbird, Google’s Latest Update
    Read more from Jayson DeMers »
    1. Effective SEO has three pillars. A strong SEO strategy has three core components: links, content and social media. What’s become more pronounced in the last year is the relationship between these elements. Content must be laser focused on your audience’s needs and honed to drive specific profit-generating actions. Social media amplifies your reach, signaling to search engines that users find your content valuable. Links from high quality sites also reinforce that you’re a solid, trustworthy site. A virtuous cycle is starting to emerge that all begins with writing great content.

    2. The rise of content marketing moves toward digital maturity. Content marketing was the top marketing buzzword of 2013, and it’s a trend that’s here to stay. Brands need to become savvy about telling their own stories and creating content that resonates with audiences. As the initial fascination with content marketing wears off, marketers are now demanding more return on investment, or ROI. Content marketing is maturing, and as a result we’re better able to effectively target content, measure performance and correct course to improve results.

    3. Mobile optimization is no longer optional. With the release of Google’s Hummingbird updates, it’s getting harder for sites without a mobile strategy to rank well. This includes both a responsive design and a mobile content strategy. Realistically, it’s time to invest in this anyway from a business perspective: Half of Americans own smartphones and more than a third own tablets according to Pew Internet. Responsive design ensures that your site looks great across a range of mobile devices. A mobile content strategy targets your content to the context, needs and behaviors of mobile users. To learn more about post-Hummingbird mobile optimization, read The Key Ingredients to a Winning Mobile Content-Marketing Strategy.

    4. Building your brand is more important than building links. A strong brand is playing an increasingly important role in SEO. One tangible example is Google’s introduction and emphasis of Google Authorship, a program that connects content to your author profile with recognized authors’ content performing better in search engine results. Building your brand and thought leadership in your space are critical steps to ranking well over time. For help building and implement a branding strategy, see this collection of resources.

    5. Social media, especially Google Plus, plays an integrated role with SEO. Google is relying more than ever on human signals in the form of shares and mentions on social media to help vet sites. If you don’t have a strong social media marketing presence and a strategy that makes it easy for people to share your content, it’s time to implement one (for help with that, I recommend “How to Determine Which Social Media Network Fits Your Business.”

    Social media has matured to the point where it’s intersecting with SEO to help determine search rankings. Two easy places to start are building your Google Plus presence and ensuring that your website and blog have content sharing modules built in.

    As you’re developing your company’s SEO plan, remember that all these trends add up to two things: integration and balance. Invest in all the key areas — from writing good content, to building links and developing your social platforms — with the understanding that they mutually support each other. Customize your plan by identifying your company’s gaps and opportunity, and focus on the channels that bring you closer to your audience. Good search engines rankings will follow.

    The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.