For small businesses, one of the most ubiquitous advice they’ve heard is that they have to build their brand online. Building your brand means not just letting people know about your company, but also defining it in a way that effectively sets you apart from your competitors.
If you have a small business, you have to build your brand online. Even the top companies in the world are doing the very same thing. Here are some of the reasons why:
1.It enables you to reach audiences worldwide. With top companies, the main advantage of the Internet is that they can just about engage with everyone from anywhere in the world. They’re not limited to local TV shows and newspapers. A single campaign can encompass the globe.
2.It’s an opportunity to engage in a more personal way. One of the main problems with top companies is that many people see them as faceless corporations whose sole purpose is to gain profit from the masses. But going online can provide a more personal touch, and your brand can have a human face which your potential customers can identify with.
This has become much easier through the use of social networking tools such as Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. These companies can easily find out what issues their customers are concerned about, and they can answer their questions right away. Huge companies can offer the same small-town vibe that appeals to many customers.
3.The cost is relatively cheap. Top companies, despite their size and budget, aren’t exactly fond of spending money. They remain on top precisely because their expenses are less than their revenues.
And that’s one of the main allure of brand building online. It doesn’t cost much at all, and the ROI is tremendous. Building a website is much cheaper than engaging in a nationwide or worldwide TV advertising campaign. And by going online, they can even have their customers acting as their own marketing staff, spreading word of their brand on their own—for free.
4.Results are more specific and instantaneous. When top companies engage in brand building, the results can take months before they become noticeable. And even then, the results aren’t as specific. It’s much more difficult to get more specific data from offline marketing efforts.
With online tools, top companies can glean a lot of specific data regarding demographics that they can tailor their message. They can target precise demographics.
And the results can be received immediately. There’s no waiting period involved which means they can react more quickly to real time perceptions about their brand.
Building your brand online is one of the most effective ways of reaching your target market, and top companies know this. If you haven’t done so yet, you better take action now before your competitors do.
If your business has an actual physical location, then one of the first things you need to do to promote your business is to use Google Places. This service enables you to get listed on Google Maps. It sounds so simple, but the benefits are profound.
Here are some reasons why Google Places is so important for your business:
1.It’s cheap. All you need is a little bit of time and effort to set up your business profile, and that’s it. There’s no fee to use this service, because it’s a free service offered by Google.
2.It gives you an online presence. If you have a small business and you don’t have a website of your own just yet, then your Google Places listing can function as your website.
3.You can provide information about your business. You can put your business name, description, phone number, and location on your listing. It’s very much like being listed in the Pages except that the listing is on the Web. You can also add other relevant info, including photos and YouTube videos.
4.Your listing will appear on Google search results. The focus here is on local searches, and the results are therefore limited to your local area. So if a Google user is searching for a Chinese restaurant in San Jose, CA, then Google determines the user’s location and then provides all the Chinese restaurants near them. That will include your business if you own a Chinese restaurant nearby. The Google user can even check out your listing to learn more about you.
5.Your location will appear on Google maps. For small businesses, this is a crucial advantage. Now your potential customers will know exactly where your office can be found. Google acts as a beacon for your would-would be customers to follow. In addition, even just getting your Google map location on Google search results boosts awareness in your brand.
6.You get reviews about your business. This is always a good thing, even if you get a bad review every now and then. Reviews make your business more relevant, and that will boost your ranking in search results. And when you view them objectively, these things tell you how to improve your business. You’ll know what you are doing right, and you can address the complaints by improving on weak areas.
7.Addressing reviews enable you to engage with your customers. You can acknowledge reviews, and this can make your customers feel more special. You can thank the ones who wrote the good reviews. As for the negative reviews, even just hearing from you can decrease any bad feelings, and readers can at least know that you are taking complaints seriously.
So essentially, Google Places is crucial for your business because it will increase people’s awareness of your brand. It also enables you to enhance your relationship with your customers. These are the advantages that a small business cannot afford to ignore.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. This refers to the things you do so that when people use a search engine like Google and types in a word or phrase that’s connected to the topic of your website, your website pops up in the results. One of the more important things that people need to do to optimize their website for search engines is to create backlinks.
What are Backlinks?
The links on your website may direct your users to other websites which they may find interesting or important. These are called outbound links. Backlinks on the other hand are the links on other websites which direct their users to your website.
So why are backlinks important?
That’s because they can help your website more popular on search engines. When other websites refer to your website, you then become more of an “authority” on the topic you cover. Backlinks also serve as a recommendation of sorts, and Google takes note of that.
Google is in the business of serving up the websites that their users want, and when you have other websites recommending yours then that means your website must be what users want.
Google also monitors the number of people who come to visit your website, and backlinks offer a very convenient way for the visitors from other websites to come to yours. And as you get more and more visitors to your site, the more SEO “points” you earn.
Crucial Backlinking Factors
The number of backlinks you have is crucial, but that is not the only factor that is important. Here are some other factors you want to consider:
1. Relevance. Let’s say your website is all about selling car parts and offering car repair services. But if you get backlinks coming from websites that are not connected in any way to your business (such as vegetarian diet websites), then this won’t boost your SEO at all. In fact, it may trigger suspicion that you didn’t earn your backlinks the proper way.
Google may think that you bought those backlinks, and this may earn you a penalty.
2. Quality. Not only should the websites linking to your site be relevant to your niche, but they should also be popular with Google and other search engines as well. Let’s put it this way: you’re a basketball player and you need a recommendation—it’s better to have a recommendation from a famous coach like Phil Jackson than from a high school coach in some unknown town. So going back to our previous example, if you have a car parts and repair website, you should endeavor to get backlinks from well-established websites connected to the car industry.
3. Different types of websites. There are many types of websites connected to the car industry. Some are blogs and review websites, there are forums and online directories, and others are commercial websites. You need backlinks from all of them, and not just from a particular type of website.
4. Speed of acquisition. You can’t suddenly have a thousand backlinks appearing overnight. It will make search engines suspicious. Getting a thousand backlinks is only possible if you bought them and Google will penalize you for trying to trick them.
Essentially, the more and better backlinks you have, the greater chance you have of improving your ranking with Google. Just make sure you do it ethically, or else you’ll do more harm than good for your site.
A lot of people and businesses seem to want instant results. It’s a universal trait. This explains the popularity of those miracle weight loss supplements that promises to give instant results. Even if doctors caution everyone that healthy weight loss is never more than 2 lbs a week, most people ignore their warnings because they are more interested in losing weight fast.
It’s the same thing with Search Engine Optimization. SEO is a slow and gradual process. In fact, any attempt to cause instant SEO improvements can result in doing the website more harm than good. That’s because those instant SEO tactics are considered forms of cheating too, and then you’d get punished by Google for it.
Here’s a look at the whole SEO situation:
No responsible SEO professional jumps at making changes right away. First you will need to determine what changes are needed, and that comes after making a thorough analysis. And this goes beyond analyzing what you’ve been doing with your website. Your competitors will also be analyzed as well.
This is a rather tedious process, and only the pros will have the requisite patience and skill to do it. Even the right keywords must be identified first, and that takes research as well.
In order to succeed in optimizing your website for search engines, you need more than just a few tricks. It’s not enough that you have keywords in their proper places. You actually need to create content that your users will find interesting and useful.
Again, this will take time. Coming up with original content isn’t as easy as you think. What’s more, you need different types of content. You can’t have just huge blocks of text all over the place. You also need lots of images, and of course you may use videos to boost your SEO and user interest as well.
Keep in mind that the ulterior motive of Google and other search engines is to provide websites with the most relevant content whenever their users type in keywords to look for websites. So you actually have to prioritize providing the content your users will appreciate.
If you’ve done any research on SEO, then you know the value of building links with other websites. Those sites must first be identified to begin with. Your competitors will be studied, and their links will be checked to see which sites they are linking to. If your competitors are ranked highly, then you also need to get those links. In order to outrank them, then you need to get links which your competitors don’t have.
And you can’t have a thousand new links sprouting overnight. Link building needs to be a slow process, because when you go too fast Google will simply assume that you’re cheating (you bought these links instead of accumulating them legitimately). That will get you penalized.
So when it comes to SEO, slow and steady wins the race. But to make that happen, you better get started now.