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Free Mobile Apps Critical To Local Business Success

Free Mobile Apps Critical To Local Business Success

Increasingly, it’s a “work from anywhere” world. There are now more handheld devices (smartphones plus tablets) in use than there are people living on planet earth, and there are few things you can do on your PC or laptop that you can’t also do on your handheld. Let’s face it, it’s an increasingly connected, mobile world. That’s a good thing, because it means that you can take time away from the office and still get meaningful work done. The following then, are some of the most critical apps you can install on your favorite smart device. Armed with these apps, you can take care of business, no matter where you are. DropBox If you aren’t using DropBox yet, then you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s such a simple, yet compelling idea. Hard drive space on the cloud, that you can access from literally anywhere you can get an internet connection. Create a free account, log in, and start uploading the files you’re working with. They’re available to you twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, no matter where you are. As long as you’ve got an internet connection, you’ve got your most important work files. It’s perfect. It’s priceless. If you’re not already using it, after a week or so, you won’t remember how you got along without it. Google Docs Depending on the device, typing anything of any length can be a bit of a challenge, so this one’s actually more useful if you’ve got a tablet

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The Next Big Algorithm Update Is Coming – Are You Ready?

The Next Big Algorithm Update Is Coming – Are You Ready?

Google’s “Panda” update changed search and internet marketing forever. It’s still talked about to this day. Almost overnight, many sites that had been using Grey- or Black-hat link building strategies saw their earnings crater, falling as much as 90%. A number of small businesses who relied heavily on the internet for leads and sales went out of business. It was a wakeup call, but what’s coming on April 21 is going to make Panda look like a walk in the park. Google provided plenty of warning in advance of the Panda update, and they’ve done the same thing here. A number of people simply chose not to heed Google’s warnings about Panda and they paid the price. You can bet that everyone’s paying attention now. The Purpose Behind The Change Google doesn’t do anything without a lot of forethought and planning, and this update is no different. In this particular case, the change to the algorithm is all about mobile. The reality is that handheld devices have eclipsed the PC. There are more handhelds in service today than there are people living on the planet. As you might expect, more searches are conducted on mobile devices than on PC’s these days, and in recognition of that reality, Google wants to make sure that the results they’re displaying for their users are the best results possible, and that’s the driving reason behind the update. Helping to ensure a quality user experience for the people who use their search engine (and let’s

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Never Run Out of Great Ideas for Content Marketing Again

Never Run Out of Great Ideas for Content Marketing Again

One of the biggest problems we face when marketing our businesses is coming up with a constant stream of good ideas.  The idea behind content marketing is all well and good, but coming up with the actual content can be a real challenge.  There are two basic approaches here.  You can find content that other people have already generated, and simply share it with your viewers, or you can generate all new, original content.  Probably, you’ll want to do a bit of both.  In terms of finding top quality content made by others to share, what we’re really talking about is content curation.  See, the internet is really all about sharing, at the root.  You can share content (yours or someone else’s) and leverage that sharing to make a profit.  How? Well, for example, let’s say you’re a plumber.  You know that if a plumbing problem gets out of hand, you’re going to get a phone call.  You also know that a lot of your customers are, at least to a degree, do it yourselfers, who are interested in at least trying to fix minor problems on their own.  You could spend thousands of dollars on recording equipment then spend hundreds of hours making a series of video tutorials on home repairs, but why?  Not only is that taking time away from your core business, but it’s actually costing you money in the short run. On the other hand, you can easily spend some time on YouTube and find plenty

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Your Local Social Media Checklist

Your Local Social Media Checklist

You probably already know, or have at least intuited that social media should be an important part of your local marketing strategy. The problem is, especially if you’re fairly new to the social media sphere, you may not really know how to get started. In fact, in looking at it, and hearing people you know talk about it, you might be concerned that it’s going to be an enormous time sink that will take time away from other aspects of running your business. Granted, if you let it – if you don’t control the process, it can do that, but if you approach social media like every other aspect of your business, you can master it, rather than letting it master you. Below is a simple but effective template for putting social media to work for you. Remember the Letters PGS PGS lies at the heart and soul of your social media strategy. The letters stand for Purpose, Goal, and Strategy. Just keep those three things in mind, and your adventures in social media will get a whole lot easier. We’ll outline what each of those mean below, and how you can use them to formulate a rock-solid plan for yourself, then execute against that plan for consistent results. Purpose In business, if it doesn’t have a clearly defined purpose, then you probably ought not spend resources worrying about it. Initially, your social media purpose could be something as simple as, “raise my brand awareness” or “get my name out

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Survey Of The Best Local Directories

Survey Of The Best Local Directories

One of the biggest challenges for a small business trying to break into the search engine rankings the traditional methods of marketing that worked so well before Google’s “Panda” update, don’t really work anymore (at all). This has prompted local marketers to cast about for alternatives. The bottom line is, while it is still possible to see big moves in your organic search engine rankings, it takes more time and money than many small businesses have to put toward the task. In the best case, that should be seen as a long term, strategic goal, rather than a short to medium term “quick fix.” The question becomes then, what to do in the meantime? Is there a way to leverage the power of someone else’s good standing with the search engines, and use that good standing to boost the rankings of your individual business? The answer, fortunately, is a resounding yes! That’s actually why the directory services are so important to your local marketing strategy. They give you a means to leverage the awesome SEO power and potential of huge, well established sites, and channel that power down to your business to help get you noticed quickly. This lets you stand toe-to-toe with much larger businesses with deep pockets and big advertising budgets in your local market where all your customers are, and let’s face it, that’s where it counts. So which of the popular directories are the “best?” To a certain extent, that’s a matter of opinion, but let’s

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Responding to Reviews – Best Practices

Responding to Reviews – Best Practices

How important are reviews? Well, a one-star improvement to Yelp reviews can translate to anywhere from a 5-9% increase in revenue, so from a dollars-and-cents perspective, they’re hugely important, but just as important as the reviews themselves are the manner in which you respond to them. The first thing to note here is that when a customer cares enough, or is upset enough to leave a review, you should respond. Yes, you read that correctly. You should be responding to each and every review left for you. The positive ones are, of course, fun to respond to. After all, you’ve got a customer who’s singing your praises, and what’s not to like about that. It’s not enough though, to post a generic “thank you” and move on. A positive review represents a golden opportunity to genuinely connect with one of your customers, and doing so will almost always ensure repeat business. That’s good, because ideally, you don’t want to “just” sell to someone once. If you’re serious about growing your business, then what you really want is to sell to your customers forever. Repeat business is where the big money is. Every bit as important as that, however, is the idea that when you start having genuine conversations with your customers, they’ll likely share those reviews and comments with their friends. What that does for you is it puts your customers to work for you in a manner of speaking. You can, at that point, begin to leverage the power

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Trends In Local Marketing, 2015

Trends In Local Marketing, 2015

The local marketing scene, like all of marketing in general, has been upended by the rise of digital media. That upheaval continues through to this year, but some trends are becoming apparent. If you’re looking to grow your business in 2015 and beyond, here are ad markets you’ll want to pay special attention to, and why. Digital Marketing Digital marketing in all its forms is, and continues to be the big winner here for the foreseeable future. It is currently experiencing double digit growth, and that’s not expected to change any time soon. In short, if you’re not marketing digitally, you’re missing out on the hottest segment of local advertising. Print Media Print media is becoming increasingly niche. It can work, and can be successful in small, tightly package bursts of advertising, but increasingly, print-based advertising only works in highly specialized areas, and/or if you’ve got a strong, standing relationship with a print-based vendor. Expect to see it continue to slowly decline in its overall importance in the year ahead, though you will see an upsurge in its use and effectiveness during election years. Knowing this, a savvy small business owner will develop those contacts during election years, and be able to arrange extremely cost-effective deals once the injection of temporary election money goes away. Print vendors will be eager to keep their remaining advertising clients happy during those non-peak times, and that can translate into a solid win for you. Radio For a long time, radio has been the

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Claim Your Local Listings

Claim your local listings on the 3 major search engines. Google My Business https://www.google.com/business/ Yahoo Local https://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/local-listings Bing Places For Business https://www.bingplaces.com/

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Top 10 Local SEO Strategies

Top Ten Strategies for Local Rankings 1.      Profiles Establish Profile Authority Follow Google’s Best Practices Guidehere. Verify and Claim your Listings at http://www.getlisted.org Claim at least Google, Bing, Yahoo and Superpages Complete all info thoroughly, including clear, long, excellent description (Basic and Enhanced Information) Establish NAP format Use email matching domain to register account Establish photo shoots with Google when possible.  Always upload at least 5 pictures Use images and video, (walk-through, testimonials) Establish Service area Utilize QR Codes when possible Real Address, No UPS or PO Boxes Consider implications of Walk-in versus Service Based Stay Away from: Violating Google’s Suggestions Using 800 Numbers Using Phone Number Tracking P.O. / UPS Boxes Multiple Place Pages / location Duplicate Phone on Multiple Place Pages 2.      Reviews Implement a Review Acquisition System Professional Service offices should create a ‘Thank You’ post card when a thank you mentioned in the office, including instructions to leave a review on Zagat. Properly train employees to have a lending ear for positive feedback from customers, patients and clients. Encourage positive customers to leave a review online. Use the hReview HTML Rich Snippet Markup on Website for reviews. Link Reviewers’ name to their online social profile, preferably LinkedIn. Do not solicit reviews.  Only ask to leave a digital review if a verbal unsolicited testimonial is provided. 3.      Social Media Create and participate in social media channels Create a Business Page or Fan Page Facebook (Get Vanity URL after 25 likes) Google+ Local LinkedIn Follow Best Practices Photos

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Does Your Website Content Matter?

Does Your Website Content Matter?

The average Internet user spends three to five seconds deciding if a website is worth the time and trouble to explore; this means you have a very small window to capture a user’s attention and to convince the user your site is worth his or hers time. Outmoded technology, outdated content, and most of all outdated designs lose websites customers every minute of every day; as a website owner, you need to look at your sites with a fresh, critical eye every day, and if something is not relevant to your site or to your customers, you need to address it – fast. Your Home Page Your home page is the landing page a user will click on in a results set from a query to the search engine of their choice. It’s your opportunity to make a good first impression, and statistics say you don’t have a long time to do it. Your page needs to be designed to catch the eye of the user, to get him or her to spend more than five seconds checking it out. A home page doesn’t need to be busy; if it’s too noisy, with slide shows, animation, and videos, the average user will click off in those three to five seconds. If you’re hiding your content behind the cute little bells and whistles, you’ve taken away a user’s reason to look at your site. A home page needs to tell your story – who you are, and why the customer wants

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