Ayrshire Businesses Are Going Google Places

Recent changes to Google Places have practically the entire Internet talking. All you have to do to see these changes is log in to your Google Places account, and be prepared to be impressed.

Besides the cool new web design, there are some specific features in Google Places that I find quite interesting.

  • You can now upload a photo and your local search results will be personalised based on the places you review.
  • It is now easier to rate and review businesses in the Ayrshire area.
  • You can also add friends to your Google Places profile, which makes it much more social in nature, though the search engine optimisation benefits are still there.
  • The places you review show up in Google Maps with the cool pinpoint icon showing their location.

As a business owner in Ayrshire, one of the best ways to ensure that your business is reviewed is to review other businesses in your area. By putting yourself out there as a reviewer, you are also promoting your business. That invites patrons of your business to review yours in return.

I predict that Google Places will become one of the most important small business promotional tools on the planet – for Ayrshire businesses or businesses anywhere in the world.

July 22nd, 2011 / Local Search

Geotargeting Your Ayrshire Blog

No matter what business you are in, you can easily geotarget and localise your SEO efforts by blessing local people and organizations with write ups on your blog. All it would take is once a week and over time you would effectively SEO your website for local Ayrshire terms. Here’s how you can do it.

  • Pick the 500th customer, or the 1,000th customer (maybe the 10,000th customer if you are a large business) for the week and highlight that individual with a small feature story telling where they are from and what they do.
  • Have a Customer of the Week contest and let your employees choose who that customer is. Write a feature story on him or her.
  • Highlight a person or organization who is doing exceptional community service work in Ayrshire.
  • Sponsor a contest and announce the winner on your blog.
  • Choose someone in Ayrshire who is not yet a customer of your business and ask them to try your product for free, then interview them about whether they liked it or not. Allow them to be negative and publish the results on your blog.

If you try these easy-to-implement local SEO methods, over time you will see your website and blog rank for local Ayrshire terms. You’ll be geotargeting your blog and website content.

July 18th, 2011 / Local Search

Who Owns Mobile Marketing?

Mobile marketing is the rising sun. It is on the horizon and ready to shine its light on those business owners who recognize it for the potential that it has. And while it hasn’t really gone mainstream yet, it’s truly on the cusp of doing so. But there are a strong group of early adopters who have harnessed the power of mobile marketing and made it profitable. Who are they?

I think, to a large degree, that early mobile marketing adopters are local businesses. I think, to an even larger degree, that the future of mobile marketing belongs to local businesses. They own it.

Here’s why I say that:

  • Mobile marketing allows you to connect with people on the move in your local area like no other form of online marketing
  • Location-based marketing is just beginning to catch the eye of savvy marketers – it is the future
  • iPhone apps have huge local marketing potential unlike any other mobile marketing tool
  • New up-and-coming mobile marketing tools are focused on local business
  • The integration of local directories and one-click calling over mobile phones will drive much of the mobile marketing technology in the near future

When a customer is in your area and wants to find you, how are they likely to do that? With their mobile phone using one of these tools: Twitter, an iPhone app, a location-based search, or one-click directory call. Local small businesses own mobile marketing.

May 18th, 2011 / Local Search

Local Web Marketing Options

When it comes local online marketing, what kind of options do you have for your Scotland business? Truthfully, you have more options than you probably think you do. Here are some ways you can brand and market your Scotland business through local online marketing.

  • Website Design – Your website’s design says a lot about you professionally, but it’s also not always about your design. You could do something real simple like establishing your local presence with a geotargeted URL like scotlandseo.co.uk.
  • Local SEO – When you optimize your website, try optimizing it for local search terms such as “Scotland,” “Ayrshire,” and “Ayrshire, Scotland.”
  • iPhone Apps Geotargeting – Got an idea for an iPhone app? Try to localize it with a geotargeted approach such as the one we developed for Glencoe Mountain.
  • Local PPC – Pay per click advertising is always a nice option for local online marketers.
  • E-mail Marketing – Add an opt-in form to your website and get people to subscribe to your e-mail newsletter. Use it to add a local flair to your marketing approach.
  • Social Media – Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn all have a local component to their social media marketing platforms. Learn to use social media with a local lean.

Local Scotland businesses have options when it comes to marketing and branding online. Don’t get pushed into a marketing corner where you are out of reach from local customers. Plan and execute your local online marketing, and be consistent.

May 16th, 2011 / Local Search

Why Google Is Going Local

U.S. online marketing blogger Frank Reed, who writes for Marketing Pilgrim, wrote a great article about Google sending out human operatives to several U.S. markets to discuss online marketing with small business owners. Those markets are:

  • Portland, Oregon
  • Austin, Texas
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • San Diego, California

It’s interesting that none of these marketers are in the northeast or the midwest parts of the U.S. Where is Google in those markets?

That aside aside, however, there is some wisdom in Google using this approach. After all, local search is about more than digital indicators. It is also about human interaction and what better way to show that Google understands that than by sending out flesh and blood to interact with small business owners on their own turf?

Of course, the goals stated for Google’s local search efforts are simple and make a lot of good darn sense:

1. Introduce them to and educate them about Google Places and local search in general
2. Claim their Place Page and give them tips about managing that page moving forward
3. Introduce them to and educate them about the NFC (near field communications) window decal that Google would like to see in every merchants’ window across the land.

If you have not claimed your Google Place Page yet, then I recommend that you do so ASAP. Even here in Scotland, local search marketing is about to pick up speed. And Google and Bing will both be there to see that happen. Google Place pages will be a huge factor in future local search rankings. Claim yours before someone else does.

May 5th, 2011 / Local Search

How Web Citations Help Local Businesses

Local search marketing is a different game than global search marketing. When you are trying to rank a web page against a global slate of competition for specific keyword phrases, you absolutely must pay close attention to your inbound link portfolio. Inbound links are not as important for local search.

Note that I said “as important,” not “unimportant.” The search engines have always analyzed at least a couple of hundred criteria to determine how web pages should rank in their indexes. Inbound links are just a single factor, or you might count them half a dozen to ten times if you consider all the relevant data related to them. But that’s a sidebar.

Local businesses can claim a listing in each of the search engines’ local databases. Google has Google Places. Yahoo! has Yahoo! Local. And Bing has Bing Local. Each of these listings include a business name, a physical address, and a phone number. What would happen if that information started appearing in various other places around the web without a link?

The answer is, it will likely increase your local search rankings.

In local search, you are not competing against every website in your niche around the world. You are only competing against like businesses in your geographic location. If you can get your business name, address, and phone number listed in various sources – both locally and globally – then you can increase your competitiveness in local search.

May 1st, 2011 / Local Search

Meetup And Local Off-Line Marketing

If you are interested in promoting your local Scotland business online without spending all of your time chasing backlinks and creating web pages, then Meetup is the perfect social media website for you.

Millions of people flock to Meetup daily all around the world looking for groups that interest them. You can find a group on almost any topic for just about any location in the world, including Ayrshire, Scotland.

So let’s say you want to start a group that meets weekly to discuss local Ayrshire history. All you have to do is go to Meetup, start a group, advertise where your group will meet, and pay the Meetup organizing fee. You can charge your members a fee or charge a fee for attending your meetings, but if you are organizing a group for business purposes, you might think otherwise.

This works particularly well if you are involved in the industry of interest. For instance, if you are a genealogist and you hope to sell your services as a genealogy researcher, a local Meetup group that discusses Ayrshire history could very well be a great marketing vehicle.

Local off-line marketing has benefited greatly from online marketing strategies. Meetup is the perfect example of local marketing using the Internet.

April 27th, 2011 / Local Search

Negative Reviews Are Good, Right?

We’ve been conditioned by the real world to think that negative reviews are bad. In truth, they certainly can be. But online they can have positive benefits. In fact, they could help your website rank better in the search engines.

Each search engine has a local business listing component. At Google, it’s called Google Places. Bing calls it Bing Local. And Yahoo! has Yahoo! Local. You have to claim your business listing, which is free, but once you do your customers can write reviews of your business.

I highly recommend that you claim your local business listings. Then, you want to provide great customer service and ask your customers to write reviews. Start with your best customers first.

If your local business listing has twenty five reviews and one or two of them happen to be negative, that’s a plus. You’ve still got twenty three or twenty four positive reviews. All of those reviews will work to push your local business listing to the top of the search results.

You can also add a reviews page to your website and allow your customers to write reviews there. You can even moderate those comments and only publish the ones you want. The more reviews you receive on your website, the more likely you are to have that page rank in the search engines, which will lead to more traffic.

Instead of fretting over negative reviews, try turning them into a positive.

April 9th, 2011 / Local Search

Real Estate SEO: Naturally Local

The one thing that you can say about real estate SEO that is absolutely true no matter where you live is that it is naturally local. That is, all real estate SEO is local SEO.

Think about that a minute. If you are a real estate agent in Ayrshire, what good does it do you to advertise your services in London, England? And if that doesn’t make sense, then does it make sense to optimise your web pages for global traffic when you know that you are seeking traffic from local people?

Now, hold on a minute, you say. What if someone is moving to Ayrshire from London, England? I’d want them to find my website, wouldn’t I?

Yes, of course. You want people to find your website no matter where they live: England, Africa, Hawaii, etc. But the question to ask is, what search terms are people going to use to find your website? And the answer is, they are going to use “real estate” or a related term plus your local identity. In our example, people will search for “real estate in Ayrshire Scotland” or “Ayrshire real estate.” In other words, they’ll search using local terms.

That’s the reason you want your SEO focused on local keywords and search terms. Optimising your website for “real estate” in general is going to get you very little. The online competition is too broad. Narrow your scope to local geographic terms in addition to your real estate terms, then see what happens.

Local SEO is about narrowing your scope. That’s what you have to do when you are in real estate.

March 20th, 2011 / Local Search