Tag Archive | "Local Businesses"

Google Places Phased Out: What this Means for Local Businesses

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Google Places Phased Out: What this Means for Local Businesses

During the last year, when Google announced that its social networking service, Google + would be usable by businesses, there was a lot of speculations about how this would affect Google’s main product: the search results. We all know how the Google search engine works, at least the basics. First, you have the “natural” search results, where the page rank is based on Google’s algorithm in determining how high a website would rank in search results. Then, we have the paid search ads, or Google’s Adwords service.

Google has, however, made changes to how local businesses show up in search results. First, they altered the way search results are displayed, so that businesses that are local to the user would have their websites appear higher in search results when the searcher was from their local area. Then there is Google Places, which is a kind of directory for local businesses. It worked relatively well and had one major advantage: listings were completely free.

But on May 31st, all the Google Places listings have been replaced instead by Google + local pages. This change is automatic and has affected 80 million pages on Google Places.

There are also a few other changes that were made related to this: a “local” tab now appears in the main Google + interface, allowing users to instantly find local businesses while they’re browsing the social network. Google has taken over Zagat and integrated their local business reviews in the Google + Local service. While Google Places had reviews and ratings of businesses, they weren’t nearly as complete as they should have been. In fact, even some relatively popular businesses just had a dozen or so reviews, even though they have thousands of customers each month. The traditional search results aren’t the only place where Google has integrated Google + local pages. In fact, they will appear in search results on Google Mobile Search and in Google Maps as well.

There are a few reasons that could be cited for this change in the way Google operates when it comes to local business search. It has been said that Google hoped to make their Places platform a complete interactive service where local merchants and customers would interact and communicate with each other. However, this didn’t fully happen as they had planned. A big reason was the limitations of the Google Places platform, that wasn’t as “social” as it should have been. Google + Local Pages gives merchants the ability to present a more complete picture of their business and also allows their customers to have more social interaction. When a user is logged into Google +, for example, they will see the reviews and recommendations made by friends before seeing other information. This encourages users to create more content on the platform, by interacting with merchants such as when they ask questions or write a review of the products and services they’ve received from them.

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Simple Business Types You Can Start: Part 2

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Simple Business Types You Can Start: Part 2

Yesterday, we’ve seen an example of a simple type of business that you can start online. The majority of easy to start online businesses involve either selling a product or providing some type of useful service to your target market. Here are some more examples of small online businesses that you can start:

  • Social Media Marketing Services

Social media has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years, so much that many businesses have seen it useful to build their presence on various social networking websites, such as Facebook, Google + and Twitter. Of course, there are still small businesses that, even though they may have an online presence through a website, don’t currently use social media even though it could be profitable for them. If you have knowledge on how to promote products, services and ideas through social media, you can offer your services to local businesses.

There are many types of services that you can provide. The most simple ones would be creating a social media page for your clients, filled with information about their business and products, and done in a style that matches their main website. You can also offer to manage the social media presence of a business entirely, by making the updates as well as creating events, groups, etc. when necessary.

  • Web Design and Web Building Services

Here again, you will offer your services to other small businesses in your area. You can offer to create web sites completely from scratch, or to update existing ones in order to improve their appearance. You can also offer to create mobile compatible versions of websites, which is something that is quite in demand lately due to the increasing use of smart phones by consumers to look for products and services that they want to buy.

In addition to designing and building websites, you can also offer additional services that will make you look more valuable for your clients. For example, you can offer to manage a website completely, by adding content and making updates when necessary. You can also provide your clients with web hosting services as part of your web design packages, which can simply be done by getting a reseller account with a good quality web host.

Naturally, you will need some good web design skills working with different software, plus graphic design skills would be useful as you can then create completely customized backgrounds, logos, etc. for your clients websites. Advertising can be easily done through free or low cost methods, such as on social media, through classified ad sites, forums, etc. If you do a good job and are priced competitively, you could also get some word of mouth referrals which will boost the amount of clients that you get.

These two are other examples of online businesses that you can easily start if you already have the right skills. There are plenty of other ways to make money online by starting a small, home based business. You just need to be creative in finding useful services that you can offer and that people would be willing to pay for.

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More Online Marketing Mistakes You Shouldn’t Do: Part 2

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More Online Marketing Mistakes You Shouldn’t Do: Part 2

When it comes to online marketing, there are many mistakes that marketers and website owners should beware of and avoid as much as possible. Avoiding these mistakes will simply mean that you can take better advantage of all the opportunities that internet marketing has to offer you, in addition to giving you the potential to make more money from your online business, with less worries and potential problems down the road.

Here are some more of these mistakes that you would want to avoid as the owner of a business that has an online presence, no matter how big or how small:

  • Ignoring the feedback, comments and opinions from site visitors and past customers

The web has gotten to be an increasingly social place, where information is being shared not only by businesses, but also by the consumers themselves, who often give feedback and advice to others about where to shop online. Google Places, for example, allows people to leave a rating and comments regarding local businesses that are listed. Specialized websites that are built around a certain niche, for example, Trip Advisor for travel related services, have an extensive section of customer reviews and ratings of different businesses and services. And of course, let’s not forget discussion forums that are related to the niche where your business is operating in, where users frequently share advice about which businesses are the best ones and which ones should be best avoided.

All of these sites provide a very useful service to consumers, allowing them to get more information about the experiences of others before they do business with someone. If you own any kind of business, look up your name on Google to see if there are any ratings and reviews that were posted about it. This will give you the chance to see if any customers or site visitors have had problems with what you’re offering and in many cases you can give a response and invite anyone that had a problem to get in touch with you.

Regarding web forums and social media groups, it’s well worth it to register and take the time to participate a bit in them, even if there were no posts, positive or negative, about your business. Simply by being present on social sites that are related to your niche, you will increase the visibility of your business and have the potential to get some new customers, even if you don’t actively advertise on that specific website.

Also, if someone has had a problem that wasn’t resolved, it gives them the chance to contact you through the website to work something out rather than posting a negative review.

With all of these things considered, you should be aware that watching your online reputation is something very important. Since it doesn’t even take that much time to do, maybe an hour every 3 days, being on top of what is being said about your business in the online world is definitely something that you shouldn’t be skipping out on.

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Better Marketing Habits to Establish

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Better Marketing Habits to Establish

We’ve previously seen some of the changes that could happen in the world of online marketing in the year 2012. While it’s good to know about what will be new in online marketing, it’s even better to know how you can apply this in a more practical context, as in your own online marketing efforts. If you want to establish some better online marketing habits for this year, there are certain things that you should do. Of course, not all of these tips will apply to you as some might be specific to local businesses, e-commerce websites or affiliate websites. What you should do is to think about what will make sense in your own situation and how you can integrate it within your business. Of course, you should also develop your own methods, strategies and ideas if you’ve resolved to have better success with internet marketing during 2012.

  • Establish a Plan

This is how you should start, no matter how simple your goals are. There’s no need to buy $1000 software that creates fancy graphs and flowcharts either. A simple plan drawn up with a pen and paper is sufficient. List your goals, as well as the methods that you intend to use in order to achieve them. Also, list some backup options or side goals that you would want to use if your main objectives don’t work out for whatever reason, or have already been achieved and you would like to do something more.

  • Keep Track of Changes in the Online World

Anyone that does online marketing, whether as a primary occupation, a side job, a hobby or as an alternate to other means of marketing (print, radio ads, etc) should stay on top of the new things in the online world. This is because you could find some opportunities to take advantage of that you otherwise wouldn’t have even known existed! By reading online marketing related blogs, forums and news sites you can see if there’s something that could be useful for you, such as a new advertising network which has a unique business concept, an up and coming social networking site that is starting to grow, etc.

  • Cut Costs Whenever You Can

Now this doesn’t mean that you should go for whatever is cheapest without regard to quality, but there are many ways that you can cut your business expenses online. For example, if you’re using a web host that charges you $25 a month for just 1 website and domain, you could find other hosting companies that can provide you with unlimited website hosting for just $5 a month and still be of high quality. The bottom line is that you need to look at the services that you’re using or are planning to use. Think about whether it would be possible to get the same functionality and quality for a less expensive price. This can be done by contacting your existing partners and providers to negotiate better rates, or comparing other companies online to see if they have something that would be right for your business.

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Using Craigslist for Affiliate Marketing: What Not to Do

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Using Craigslist for Affiliate Marketing: What Not to Do

There is a lot of talk in internet marketing communities about using traffic from Craigslist to publish affiliate or CPA offers. While it is possible to do so, there are certain practices to avoid. Here are some things not to do when using Craigslist.


  • Don’t use it for offers where it is not allowed


CPA networks are aware of the fact that some marketers use Craigslist. Some networks ban this type of promotion outright, some forbid it for certain offers, while certain allow it as long as you follow some rules set forth by them. If you do not want to get banned from the network and possible lose the earnings that you have made, you should comply with any rules that they have. When in doubt, contact your affiliate manager just to be sure.


  • Don’t simply put in your affiliate links and banners all over the place


Craigslist is mainly designed for local businesses and individuals to post ads and not a place to spam affiliate offers. Any blatant affiliate links and offers will be flagged down rather quickly by users of the site. Simply put, do not direct link from a Craigslist post to an affiliate offer. Your post will probably be gone within minutes anyways.


  • Don’t post in the wrong category just to get traffic


If you post an ad in a category that is irrelevant, it will get flagged down almost instantly. The bottom line is, keep your postings to categories where they are relevant if you want them to have any chance of staying up.


  • Don’t attempt to trick or mislead people


This is one of the biggest things not to do when using Craiglist. While it was quite popular with black hat marketers about 2 years ago, Craigslist, affiliate networks and merchants have all come down on this and took action to prevent it from happening.


Now, what exactly is “misleading” people? Some examples would be: posting a fake job offer, telling people that they got the job, but that they simply need to complete a biz opp offer to “verify their info”. Or putting up an ad for an apartment and then telling people that they need to pass a credit check, then sending them over to a credit report affiliate offer. One other trick that was popular consisted of offering people a job and then telling them to buy a video conferencing software from an affiliate offer as the “training” for the job would be done remotely. In all cases, this is misleading people, as the apartment or job that was promised to them simply does not exist.


If you do this, soon enough, somebody will complain to the merchant and say “Hey! You promised me a job if I signed up on your site! How come nothing happened?” and you will simply end up banned.



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Is it Still Possible to use Craigslist to Make Money Online?

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Is it Still Possible to use Craigslist to Make Money Online?

Craigslist is a popular and free online classified ads site. While it certainly isn’t as popular as say Google or Facebook, it is still one of the most popular sites on the internet, with millions of users from all around the world visiting it. This has given online marketers a lot of ideas on how to monetize all of this traffic. Unfortunately, Craigslist is not what it used to be when it comes to internet marketing and you have black hat marketers to thank for that. What some people did went far beyond just spamming CPA offers to downright lying to people such as promising them jobs or mortgages if they complete a CPA offer for a credit report or a biz opp. As a response to that, Craigslist has upped its security mechanism and has even posted warning in many of its sections that specifically mention affiliate marketing.


But this doesn’t mean that is is completely useless to online entrepreneurs. There are a few ways to use it for your online marketing efforts. Here are some of them:


  • Promoting your e-commerce site


If you have a website that sells merchandise, then you can still use Craigslist to promote it. For example, if you sell clothes or electronics in your online shop, then you can post an ad in the proper section of Craigslist and get some traffic to it that way. Make sure to post in the right section, or your ad will be flagged down rather quickly. Also, don’t post the same ad in different cities at the same time. While there is nothing wrong with a global e-commerce site posting ads in multiple cities, remember that Craigslist is not mainly aimed at internet marketers, but rather for small, local businesses to post ads in the city where they operate.


  • Providing services


If you offer some services that can be done over the internet, then you can use Craigslist to get some business too. For example, if you create websites for businesses and individuals, then you can put an ad in the right section to promote that. There are plenty of services that you can do over the internet and have your clients pay your by Paypal or another payment system. Some examples include: translation, writing, graphic design, flier/advertising design, promotional video creations and a whole lot more. If you want to appear more professional and therefore more trustworthy when providing these services, you can always create a simple “business” style website that gives details of what you do and your prices, as well as get a toll free phone number to get your clients to reach you. You can get one for a few dollars a month and then forward it to your cell phone, or just leave it to always go to voicemail. Here’s a tip to get more sales: put a special discount or coupon code in your ad and tell readers to mention it when they order.

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Full Time Online Business: Part 2

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Full Time Online Business: Part 2

If you want to make a full time income online, there are plenty of business models to select from. Of course, it is possible to earn some decent money by providing services to others, such as doing web design, writing articles, sales copies, etc. However, there are some things that you can do to make a full time income without spending all day actually doing the services.


What you can do is to outsource the actual service creation to other workers that you can find on classified ads sites, freelancing sites as well as forums. If your business gets really big, you always have the option of actually getting a physical office and hiring a full time staff.


Here are two business types that you can start:


  • Web Design Agency


A lot of small and local businesses right now are getting online and would like to have a website. The thing is, very few business owners have the skills to create a good looking website and many of them do not want to spend the time it takes to learn how to put one together. This is where you come in.


All you need to do is to put together a team of a few freelancers that specialize in web design. It is always good to have people with diverse skills on board, such as one who specializes in blogs, while another one that does flash websites, etc. Basically, you would get clients to pay you for a website. Let’s say you charge $100 per site and pay the freelancer $60 for their work. You would then pocket the difference.


  • Digital Marketing Agency


Plenty of business owners are also realizing the potential that the internet has when it comes to attracting new customers. This is where you will be helping them. You can offer a complete marketing package to small businesses, which would include optimizing their website for SEO, building backlinks, creating articles and uploading them to directories, creating and managing social media pages, putting up ads and listings in business directories and classified ads sites, managing their ad campaigns on PPC and media buying platforms, etc. This can be a very profitable business model, as there are plenty of local businesses that would like to advertise online, but don’t really know how to.


Getting Clients


Remember that most of your clients aren’t really up to date on the whole internet marketing scene, so advertising on IM forums is not really the best idea. It would be better to advertise in local classified ads sites, business directories, as well as in local businesses. Doing direct mail campaigns as well as calling up local businesses can sometimes yield quite good results, although these methods of advertising are a bit more expensive and time consuming for you. However if you do great work at competitive rates, you are likely to succeed in building a full time income.

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Marketing For Local Businesses: Your Options – Media Buying Part 3

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Marketing For Local Businesses: Your Options – Media Buying Part 3

Now that you know about the kinds of ads that you can run when you buy media, let’s take a look at where you can actually place your ads. While there are plenty of places where you can place them, you will need to choose wisely so that you are able to get the maximum benefit from them. Many websites sell advertising space to cover their hosting costs and make a profit. You will often see “advertise here” or “your ad here” somewhere near the ads on the site. If you don’t, you can always contact the webmaster directly to see if you can place an ad for your business on their site.

  • Sites Often Visited By People from Your City

These could be the websites of local newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, etc. Basically any website where people that live in your city will visit. This will give you exposure to the local traffic that you want.

  • Sites Related to Your Niche

Obviously, you can’t advertise on the website of a business that offers the same thing than you. Would you ever see an ad promoting Honda cars on a Ford dealer’s website? Definitely not. But you can find websites of businesses that are related to your niche without being competitors. For example, if you run a moving company, then you could advertise on a site that people who are about to move will visit, such as real estate sites or websites that list rental properties.

  • Discussion Forums

Web forums that are related to your niche can be an excellent place to get traffic from. For example, if you sell mobile phones, placing your ad on a mobile phone discussion forum would be a great match. However, if you only do business locally, be sure to deal only with forums that have mostly local traffic, or at least that offer geo targeting for their ads, which will let you display your ads only to people who are from the area in which you do business.

Advertising Networks

When you look for places to place your ads, you will see that many websites are affiliated with an advertising distribution network such as Adbrite. The main reason is that managing advertising on a website can be quite time consuming for the webmaster, as he will have to manually put up the ads, collect payment for them, etc. This is why many websites instead sell advertising space to networks, who then resell them to advertisers.

This is also advantageous to you as an advertiser. By signing up for an advertising network, you will discover many other sites on which you can promote your business. All you would need to do is select the payment options, choose any settings such as geo targeting and then give them the ad copy you want to use. You can thus easily manage your media buying campaigns and keep track of things more efficiently.

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Marketing For Local Businesses: Your Options – Media Buying – Part 2

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Marketing For Local Businesses: Your Options – Media Buying – Part 2

Now that we have seen what media buying consists of and the various business models available when it comes to paying for your ads, it is time to take a look at two things that are just as important: what type of ads you can run and also where you can place your ads.

There are various types of ads to choose from:

Text Ads – These are similar to the sponsored ads that you would find on Google search results, except that they are served on various websites rather than on search engine results. Depending on the network, you will have a certain amount of characters that you can use for your title and for the body of the ad. Remember, you want people who are interested in what you have to offer to click on your ad, but also to avoid those who are merely curious or looking for freebies. This is especially important if you are paying on a CPC model, as you don’t want to waste your advertising budget on non productive visitors to your site. As such, your ad should inform the viewer of what you have to offer as well as be cleverly worded and attractive.

Banner/Graphic Ads – These are another popular type of ad in the media buying industry. You basically create a graphic ad, which can have various shapes and sizes. Some are the classic horizontal banner, while others are more in a vertical “skyscraper” format. There are also banner ads available in a smaller, usually square format. When you create a banner, you want to do the same thing than with a text ad: captivate the viewer’s attention, but still give them enough information to decide whether your business offers them something they need. Banner ads are basically an animated GIF file, which can easily be created with a graphics program. Or you can also pay a freelancer $5 – $10 to create a banner ad for you.

Popup/Popunder Ads – These types of ads are still being offered, although they have lost most of their efficiency, due to the fact that browsers now have integrated popup blockers and if an ad does get past those, most people simply get annoyed and close it. As such, it is not recommended that you use them if you are promoting a local business, as they are more suited for affiliate offers.

Video Ads – This is a relatively new type of ad, but is growing in popularity. It is basically a mini commercial, like one that you would see on TV. The video is played either before the user watches another video on a video sharing site, or plays automatically when the page serving the ads is loaded. You will, however, need to create a video ad by yourself and have it approved by the ad network. Since this is a new type of ad, their success rate has not yet been fully tested, so unless you have a significant budget to devote to your media buying, it is best that you try the other ad types first.

Tomorrow, we will see where you can put your ads and how to optimize them in order to take maximum advantage form media buying.

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Marketing For Local Businesses: Your Options – Media Buying – Part 1

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Marketing For Local Businesses: Your Options – Media Buying – Part 1

When it comes to online advertising options for a local business, there are plenty of choices that are open to you. Some of these options are completely free, while others will require you to spend some money and thus create an advertising budget. But one of the advantages of online advertising is that it is not as expensive as other methods, such as television or radio ads. It is also possible to very specifically target the audience that you want to reach, so that only people who have a high chance of being interested in your products end up seeing your ads.

One of these options is media buying. Now, many of you who are not familiar with online marketing terms may wonder what media buying consists of. Basically, it means that you will be buying advertising space on another website and paying for these ads according to different business models. Here are the ones that are the most commonly used in the media buying industry:

Fixed fee – You pay a certain fee to have your ad displayed in a permanent position on a certain website. This fee could be for a day, a week, two weeks, a month or even longer. Usually with this option, your ad is not rotated, meaning that it stays in one spot on the website for the entire time that you have paid for it. The costs will vary depending on the ad location as well as the traffic that the site receives. As such, the price for a daily ad on a site with a moderate amount of traffic could be as little as $4, while one on a site receiving tens of thousands of daily visitors (such as a popular news site in your city), a daily ad could cost you $1000 or even more.

CPM (or cost per views) – Here, you will pay a certain amount for every thousand visitors that view your ad. Every view is counted, so you will pay the same amount whether a visitor clicks your ad to go to your site or not. Once again, the amount you pay will vary on the popularity of your site, as well as the location of the site where your ad is put in. Ads which are displayed in prominent parts of the site tend to cost more.

CPC (or Cost Per Click) – This is similar to pay per click (or PPC) ads that you see on Google sponsored results. You will pay an amount for each person that clicks on your ad and is thus redirected to your site. Costs will vary depending on the site where you are advertising. They can be as low as $0.01/click up to $1.00 or more for each click you receive.

Tomorrow, we will explore more details about online media buying, such as which websites you can advertise on and the types of ads that you can create for your business.

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Your Social Media Strategy

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Your Social Media Strategy

In the past, we have talked about what a great tool social media can make when you are trying to promote your business online. But in order to get good results from your campaigns, you will need to do things the right way, rather than simply plunging into the social media world unprepared.

We have already made a comparison between paid and free social media marketing. While there are some differences between both types of advertising, the following tips will be valid for both paid and free advertising on different kinds of social networks. Here are some things to keep under consideration:

  • Will you do things yourself, or hire outside help?

Social media marketing is not complicated. However, just like any type of online project, it will require that you spend some time on it and acquire the necessary knowledge to do things right. You may want to spend about half an hour to an hour a day checking up on your campaigns and updating your pages. If you can’t do this, you may want to hire some outside help, either from a dedicated online marketing firm, or from a freelancer that is knowledgeable on social media marketing for small businesses.

  • Which networks will you use?

There are plenty of social networking sites out there. Twitter, Facebook and MySpace are some of the most popular ones, but there are also some small and emerging networks that are used by many people. Some of these smaller networks could be quite popular with people residing in a certain region. What you need to do is to figure out who your targeted audience is, and what networks they frequent. You will then be able to focus your marketing efforts on the social media sites which are most popular with your target audience.

  • How will you keep your audience interested?

Remember that social networking sites are places where new content is posted all the time, ever single second of every day. While users come to these sites to learn things and inform themselves about what their friends and local businesses are doing, remember that these sites are not an encyclopedia or business directory. As such, you need to keep your content fresh and interesting for your readers. This can be achieved in various ways. For example, if you run an auto customization business, you may want to put up pictures of work that you have recently done on customers cars. You can also put up info on upcoming promotions or events related to your business. While you don’t have to update your page every single day of the week, you will still need to put up updates on a regular basis.

By keeping these tips in mind, you will be able to draw a much bigger benefit from your presence on social media sites. It is always good to have a strategy in mind, but you might need to make some changes to it if you realize it is not giving you the desired effect, or if you want to try using a new social networking site that has just become popular.

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Marketing For Local Businesses: Your Options – Social Media

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Marketing For Local Businesses: Your Options – Social Media

Even those who know nothing about online marketing are aware of the fact that social media is having a big impact on our world today. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are keeping people from around the globe informed and entertained on a daily basis. But what does that mean to you, as a small business owner? Is it possible to use social media sites to your advantage? The answer is yes. How you do it will depend on your goals and budget.

Social media is very versatile in terms of an advertising medium. This is because there are free options and paid options to advertise on it. You can use any of them, or both at the same time to maximize your impact. Let’s explore what you can do with social networking sites:

Paid Option

Many social media sites, like Facebook and MySpace, have a paid advertising option that helps advertisers get traffic to their websites, while bringing in revenue to keep the social site running. The payment model varies from one network to the other, but in most cases it is a CPC (cost per click) type, where you pay an amount that you bid for each click.

The advantage of social media ads is that they can be very highly targeted. You can, for example, select who will get to see your ads based on factors such as location, age, gender, marital status, etc. This will allow you to get better quality traffic.

But since you are paying for this traffic, you will need to track and test your campaigns accordingly, in order to get the maximum benefit from them and avoid wasting your funds.

Free Option

This is a bit more simple and doesn’t involve you paying for traffic, but requires more work on your part. Depending on the network, you would normally build a page for your business, which provides contact info, a link to your site, news updates, and details of your products.

You will then need to attract people to become fans of your business and follow what you are saying on your page. This can be accomplished by various means. You could put social media buttons on your main website that will allow people to instantly become your fans. You could also include a link to your page on your communications with customers, such as on invoices or in your email newsletter.

If you have a very good product, or a page that is quite unique and engaging, your fans will do the marketing for you, by spreading your page around to their friends, who can also become fans of your business. This is called “viral marketing” and can cause your page to be seen by millions of people in a short time. But of course, you will first need to have something interesting to offer on your page which will captivate your audience. When you put together your page, look at what other businesses have done with theirs for clues on what made them successful on social networks. This will give you a good idea of what to do and what not to do.

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Marketing For Local Businesses: Your Options – Free Online Classifieds

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Marketing For Local Businesses: Your Options – Free Online Classifieds

When we talk about internet marketing, many people instantly seem to think that it is related to affiliate offers and building a website to host some Adsense ads. Sure, these things are what many people do to earn money on the internet, but they are not the only components of online marketing. If you have a local business, you can use the internet to draw more clients and above all, to get your business known in the community. There are various options for you to use to get the word out. Yesterday, we have talked about local SEO and your options for doing it. But search engine traffic is not the only way for you to get visitors to your website and clients for your business. Let’s examine a few other ways to get what you are looking for.

Getting Traffic

Whether you are pushing affiliate offers, or have your own, physical small business, you want traffic to your site. Traffic simply means visitors that look at your website. There are many ways to get this traffic: SEO (which we talked about yesterday), online classified ad sites, social media sites and targeted media buying. We will explore these one by one to see what the advantages (and sometimes drawbacks) are of using these methods. That way, you will be able to make a decision on how to advertise your business online.

Classified Ads Sites (Craigslist, Gumtree, Backpage, Kijiji and dozens more).

There are various sites which let you place a classified ad, which is similar to what you would see in a newspaper. There are some main, worldwide sites such as Craigslist, but there are also some local sites which could be geared towards people in your locality. For example, in French Canada where I live, the website Annonce123.com is very popular with people and attracts a lot of local traffic.

In order to maximize your chances of success and to take the highest advantage of the sites it is recommended that you:

  • Post on all the sites. That’s right, both the national sites which have a section for your city and the smaller, local sites (if present in your locality). Posting an ad on these sites is free and takes 2 or 3 minutes. Remember, even if you only get 10 views a day for your ad, one of these viewers could be your next biggest customer. Say if you own a car rental place, the viewer could be a diplomat from Monaco on a temporary assignment in your city, who will rent your most expensive car for 6 months. Think of the money you will make with him. Sure, this is rare… but you never know… and if he doesn’t see your ad, well he never know your car rental business existed and use a competitor instead.
  • Make you ad look interesting. Your ad should stand out and be engaging to the users. Thus, use a good title and also, make sure that you use proper spelling and grammar in the ad. Believe me, it helps.
  • Use the “featured” or “upgrade” options if possible. Many sites, for a small fee of (varies from $0.50 to a few dollars) will let your ad be “featured”. This means that it will be either on top of all the other ads, or will have highlighting that will draw attention to it. If you have a few dollars to spare, use this option.

Tomorrow, we will examine social media sites and how they can be useful for marketing your local business on the internet.

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How to Do SEO for Local Businesses

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How to Do SEO for Local Businesses

If you own a local small business, then you are probably looking for ways to increase your business visibility in the online world. Well, there are various ways that this can be accomplished. For example, you can use social media or pay per click ad solutions. But let’s not forget that SEO is important too. However, many small business owners neglect to pay any attention to SEO, because they believe that there is way too much competition and that they will not be able to advance anywhere in the rankings.

But recently, Google has made some changes to the way search results are ranked when it comes to local keyword. The search engine uses geo location to determine the area where the user is located in and then displays search results which are relevant both to the user’s area and the keywords they were looking for.

How do you take advantage of this recent change to go up in the rankings? It is actually relatively easy, there are just a few things to do:

First, optimize your pages for both your main keyword and the area in which you do business. So for example if your main keyword is “plumbing” and you do business in Miami, then you would optimize your pages for the keywords “plumbing Miami” and “Miami plumbing”. Also, be sure that every one of your pages has a reference to your location on it. This can be easily done simply by putting your address and phone number in the footer of every page. Not only does this allow customers to see your contact info on each page, but will also let Google determine your location more easily.

If your business is not listed on Google Maps, then you should make sure that it is. Simply request a listing and it will appear in the results in the next few weeks. Local business listings appear on Google Maps together with web sites, so it will make it very easy for your customers to find you.

To optimize your website for “local SEO”, it is also a good idea to list your business in as many online business directories as possible. Not only will this potentially give you traffic coming from the directory itself, but it will also give you some very valuable backlinks as well. Backlinks that are coming from other sites that are related to your area, such as local business associations, chambers of commerce, etc. are also very helpful in this scenario.

While doing SEO may seem complicated, in reality it is not. You just need to have the proper information and take time to do the right actions. Remember that SEO is not meant to replace, but rather to work together with other types of online advertising that your business uses, so you can still keep using Adwords or social media ads in addition to deploying efforts to get your site to rise through the rankings.

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