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Out of the Jungle and Onto the Web

(August 2011) posted on Tue Aug 09, 2011

Coudray describes how to strengthen your online marketing and improve your standing in search-engine results.

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By Mark A. Coudray

Gartner, Inc. reports that in 2010, 70% of social-media programs failed because businesses had no idea of how to incorporate them into their marketing or how to measure the results. The same report goes on to say that within five years, 70% of collaboration and communication applications will be on smart phones (can you say App Store?) and will be designed specifically to communicate user experience.

A clear picture should develop when you consider all three of these major factors. Consumers today want the best deal, but they want to shop locally. Past motivation to buy on the Internet came from local companies doing a poor job of being findable in their own markets. Between Google and the directories, local companies are being pushed off the first page search results.

The single biggest factor in having a local customer make the decision to buy locally appears to be consumer reviews and comments. Sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, RipOffReport, and let consumers review and post their experiences with local companies, good or bad. There’s an entire industry growing up around these review sites, the Online Reputation Management Industry.

The growth of these sites comes because 78% of consumers trust consumer reviews over company advertising (16%). Wow! No matter what we say on our Websites, the consumer sees it as hype and unbelievable. Yet, when it comes to credible testimonials and unbiased reviews, most people trust the consumer-based reviews.

You can help yourself a great deal by joining the Better Business Bureau and taking part in their BBB Online Program. This program allows you to put a BBBOnline badge on your site and it links directly back to their site where you are rated on an A+ to F basis. You can also take part in ETrust or McAffee HackerSafe programs to add further credibility.

There are three things you can do, relatively painlessly, to improve your local position in the search results dramatically. The first is to claim your business on Google Places. This is free and only takes a few minutes. When someone searches for “custom T-shirt printer Dallas” your results will pop up on a Google Map as a pin with a letter from A-G. Your place in the list depends on how complete your profile is and the relevance of your chosen keywords.


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