May 14 2013 Workshop – SEO For Properties Other Than Your Website

Next week (May 14, 2013) I will be leading a portion of an afternoon-long workshop regarding a rather unique element of internet marketing.  The topic will cover search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) for web properties OTHER than your own website!

Here is the breakdown of information:

  • Who:  Steve Smillie (Lynx Search Marketing) will be talking about your website’s design and your e-mail marketing + Mario Wilson (Market With Mario) will be talking about social media marketing.  I will talk about SEO for your other web properties (LinkedIn page, YouTube videos, etc.)
  • What:  3 events will take place that afternoon:
    • Luncheon
    • Workshop
    • After Hours Event
  • Where:  Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites (Fairview/McKinney).  3220 Craig Dr, McKinney, TX 75070.  Hotel desk phone is (469) 952-2044.  The hotel is on Craig Drive, south of Eldorado Parkway and west of Highway 75/Central Expressway
  • When:  Luncheon is 11:30 and the Workshops begin at 1:00
  • Why:  The common goal for each of the 3 speakers is to help any business owner or executive discover new ways to reach unknown (as of yet) prospects and convince them to contact the business for more information
  • How:  You can sign up at the event registration links here:
  • Price:  There is a fee for the lunch and another for the workshops.  All fees go to Networking University
  • Discount Codes:  Early1 is the code for the luncheon.  Member 1 is the code for the workshops.

Questions about all of the events are welcome to be directed to Debra through her contact information  at Networking-University.com.   You are welcome to contact me with questions about my portion of the workshop that afternoon.

Infographic Marketing In The Dallas Fort Worth Area


 

If you want to give your business a chance to convey its message to BOTH your current audience and first-time prospective customers or clients then you may want to use a new way to convey your message known as an infographic.  The image above is a sample of an infographic. The data in there is NOT REAL… I just used it as an example!

The data in here is presented in such a way that it would be representative of what businesses in the Dallas Fort Worth area are requesting when it comes to marketing their businesses online.  Again, this is just an example because, in the real world, businesses are asking for help also with LinkedIn, classified ad creation, paid advertising (pay-per-click and banner ads) and much more.

Here is another version of what is deemed an “infographic”, yet it is completely different than the first version.  Yes, the geographic data is made up (!) but in this case you see that images and video can be embedded inside the infographic (all rights belonging to the original copyright holders):


 

The point here is that you now can convey lots of data (text, figures, relationships, etc.) which tend to “lose” your prospect or have that person “tune out” when presented with lots of information to process early in the marketing or sales cycle.  Using the old phrase, “a picture is worth 1000 words”, you may be able to convey your desired/intended message to those who can generate new business now in ways which were difficult previously.

What You Can Do With An Infographic

Once you have conveyed the type of message you want in an infographic theme then it comes time to actually do something with it.  You want that image to get in front of your prospective audience to help you generate new business or at least extend your brand & company name.

Here are some thoughts on what to do:

  • Share the infographic with your main followers on Facebook and Twitter
  • If appropriate, share it on LinkedIn — both in your personal timeline (or in your company’s profile page) as well as in any appropriate groups and/or LinkedIn Answers
  • Post it on your site and optimize the page for the desired keywords
  • Pin the infographic from your site onto appropriate Pinterest boards you control
  • Embed the infographic as an image inside a press release which has related content
  • E-mail it to your newsletter or subscriber lists
  • Put a link to it in your e-mail signature file
  • Share it on relevant local and national online forums
  • Send it to specific media contacts in trade or local publications in case they need that type of content for upcoming publications (physical or online)
  • Syndicate the infographic through appropriate RSS feeds
  • Add it to your company’s image sharing sites like Flickr and Photobucket
  • Send it to those needing relevant guest blog post content
  • Use it as an image in an online classified ad
  • Many other ways to give your infographic image exposure to current customers and prospective ones

That’s Great… But What Infographic Can I Create?  I Don’t Have Any Art, Graphic Design, Or Photoshop Skills!!

This new technology may be daunting to some business owners and executives who like the potential but are hesitant due to confusion as to what to convey or not having graphic design or image-editing skills.  This is fine!

There are several infographics templates which can be edited easily for marketing purposes.  There also are third-party services who can create an eye-catching, memorable infographic for your business.  Again, the big “take away” is to know what to do with it AFTER it gets produced.  The list I mentioned earlier should help you.

Let’s use a realistic example:  moving to Dallas and wanting to open a pizza shop with takeout and delivery service.  Obviously you will want to get more attention to your website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube channel, online coupons, positive reviews on UrbanSpoon.com and other online properties.  One way to do this is to create an infographic with a “pizza” theme.

You could create a special “tip” or benefit for each of the 8 “slices” in your image.  For example you could break it down this way:

  1. Slice # 1 tells people where to go read positive reviews online about your pizza and delivery service
  2. Slice # 2 tells people where to get year-round online coupons (e.g. Twenty percent off Tuesdays, or something like that)
  3. Slice # 3 tells people to join your Facebook page (include the actual Facebook URL/link) for occasional specials and Facebook-only promotions
    1. You can do the same thing with your Twitter account
  4. Slice # 4 tells people to see your videos on YouTube
  5. Slice # 5 gives a link to take people to read a positive review from a local Dallas news station or local publication
  6. Slice # 6 tells people where to get some suggestions for ways to make “pizza night” at home more memorable
  7. Slice # 7 tells people where to find your location with a link to an online map
  8. Slice # 8 tells people where to read your menu on your website

Again, this is just a basic concept; but instead of deluging your audience with all of this information in text format you can “package” the information (called “framing”) in the form of something relevant… in this case a pizza.  You then would share this new image/infographic by some of the methods I outlined earlier.

Since most pizza places aren’t doing this it can help you stand out.  From there, you are making the image helpful (aka “value added”) because you are giving clear instructions to people on how to get reviews, find menus, find out where you are, get coupons, etc.  You, therefore, are giving people a lot of helpful information in an easy-to-comprehend manner.  In the pizza industry you could take this a step further and use it as part of your printed materials which you can hand out locally.  Chances are that the people who are given a printed infographic with helpful information are likely to hold onto it longer, and hopefully they will take the next step of ordering a pizza from you.

This should help any “commodity” business (e.g. a local pizza restaurant) get people to willingly share your marketing materials.  Obviously, there are no promises but it tips the odds in your favor!

While I love the search engines, and it would be terrific to rank # 1 for a phrase like “pizza delivery North Dallas” or “pizza takeout 75205”, I have to remember that ranking in the search engines is not the only way to get you more qualified prospects.  Leveraging your social media and e-mail lists with something unique and value-added can bring qualified first-time customers just as much as top search engine rankings.  Later on, we can discuss how to blend multiple strategies together so please let me know if you are interested in more on this topic.
Thanks,

Matt

Internet Marketing For Plano And Similar Cities – Without SEO Or Paid Ads?

Small to medium-sized businesses in Collin County and North Dallas have an interesting challenge when it comes to marketing their local services and retail locations to those in Plano Texas, which has a population over 250,000.  For the most part, the city (located in Collin County) borders on Dallas County; and this can present some challenges for the business owner and their retained marketing teams.

While the audience differs depending on the business owner’s industry, let’s take as generic an example as possible. Since most Plano residents do not use mass transportation, the majority of teenagers and adults who drive cars will need to have their car’s oil changed every few months.  Assuming that most people do not, or will not want, to know how to change their oil then there is a demand for this service.  How does a new oil change facility, or an established one, gain market share in Plano and from other drivers who are in town?

The Challenges For Those Who Have Not Started Online Marketing Yet

Here are a couple of problems facing the oil change facility new to the area as well as for those who have declined to start online marketing yet:

  • With Google Places and Google Local Plus, the challenge becomes when a service has a North Dallas address; but in the real world people from Plano are more likely to become customers.  All of the directories listing the business’ address, however, promote Dallas.  This can cause some SEO concerns for reaching Plano residents through the search engines
  • The fastest way to get exposure is to use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to send traffic to a web page.  The costs for phrases like “oil change Plano TX” may be cost-prohibitive to the business due to the current amount of competition for that phrase.  This does not include any “penalties” assigned by Google should the “Quality Score” (QS) of the page to which you are sending the traffic is not properly optimized to match your ad
  • As with all paid advertising, once you stop paying the traffic goes away
  • Search engine optimization, especially with the new Google Plus Local and Google Places optimization campaigns, are confusing to most people.  SEO, while a fantastic way to get new customers, is a constant game of “leap frog”.  If you are able to leap frog a competitor in the search engines then it is possible that, one day, another competitor can leap frog your website
  • Video marketing is a great way to get exposure for any local business.  The problem is that most business owners treat a YouTube video as  a regular “30 second commercial” like they see on TV.  In the online world, you must add value to the video viewer; and this is a tougher “shift” in mindset for the business owner than you might realize.  Also, there are production costs to factor into the equation
  • If you look at many local business videos you will see a glaring problem. A video has been uploaded for 6 months… and it has less than 10 views!  You would think that a business owner has at least 10 friends and family members who would watch the video, but this points out a huge concern.  Most business owners care about the lighting and graphics on a video… but they have no strategy of how to use that video (once completed) to get the word out about their business
  • Online classified ads are great, but many have no marketing skill to create a call-to-action in order to get people to come to the specific oil change location versus that of a competitor
  • Not many oil change facilities have social media properties, let alone reasons why a customer would want to join any of them.  Most also do not even have an e-mail newsletter with tips, coupons or other incentives to bring in the cars of friends and family
  • A press release announcing the store opening, or a new line of service, may not reach your audience due to several factors:  timing, the style of writing, how the release is distributed, etc.

As you can guess, there are several challenges faced by local business owners… and this is not to pick on oil change businesses!  There are some of these businesses who are using social media and other services tremendously in the area of Plano, Frisco, Allen and McKinney.  I just wanted to give as close to a universal example as possible.

So How Do I Start If I Do Not Have Much Of A Budget Nor Much Technology Know-How To Rank My Website # 1?

This is a great question!

There are a few things which can be done which are inexpensive if you get outside help, and they even are no-cost if you learn how to do them yourself.  Depending on your desired new prospects, here are things you can do:

  • Use any e-mail marketing service for which you are currently paying.  If you have ACT, iContact, Constant Contact or a similar program then take the time to learn how to give value to your customers.  If not all of your customers are on your list then do what you can to get their permission to add them to your mailing list.  This becomes an “asset” which you control which won’t go away for a long time.  Make sure that your e-mails have an “opt out” (unsubscribe) option and are compliant with the CAN-SPAM rules
  • If you know that your audience spends time on a particular forum relevant to Plano, Frisco or any of the other North Dallas and Collin County communities then discover what it will take to post helpful tips and answer questions on that forum.  Build trust in that forum and have others sing your praises, both online and in the real world
  • Have ways to get your customers to leave reviews on websites other than yours.  For example, have your happy customers leave positive reviews on AngiesList, Google Plus, Google Places, your Facebook business page, Twitter timeline, Yelp page, LinkedIn and similar services
  • Contact me regarding how to set up various alerts and notifications in order to be informed when someone in Plano (or coming to Plano) has posted something indicating a need for your service.  You then will have ways to get in touch with that person or company needing your help
  • Offer value by promoting an “education” event.  For example, the oil change business can take an afternoon once a year and invite new drivers to learn how to check the tire pressure, check their oil, etc.  Have the attendees take pictures and videos, and encourage them to share these with their friends

These are just a few of the ways to reach an audience who needs your service without having to go through paid advertising or using search engine optimization (SEO) or search engine marketing (SEM).  Please note that paid ads and SEO & SEM are, indeed, worth your time.  They just have drawbacks and costs like all marketing tactics.

In any local market, there are over 60 methods to reach a prospect who does not know you nor knows any of your current customers.  Feel free to contact me to discuss how to customize these methods to come up with a plan that is tailored specifically to your audience and business.  From there, we can discuss ways to put into place a customer “retention and referral” program so that a new customer you gain can become a lead source to help you grow your business quickly.

Collin County Lead Generation Companies – Questions To Ask Yourself

Collin County Texas is rather unique from a marketing perspective.  With a population over 3/4 of a million people, it has a mixture of high technology, local service businesses, agriculture, families who have lived in the area for generations and people moving to the area everyday from all over the United States and other countries.  There is a major problem however for many businesses in the area…

… how to reach most of those people easily and quickly!

I Have A Problem Reaching More People In Allen, Frisco, McKinney, Plano And The Rest Of Collin County.  I Am Just Too Busy Running My Business!  How Do I Just Get More Leads And Referrals?!?

If you have sentiments similar to that statement then you may have considered using a lead generation company or service to help you.  There are local-specific companies, internet marketing companies with a pay per lead or pay per appointment model, some will generate leads based on revenue sharing (much like a commissioned sales person), and there are national companies which can generate leads in your industry.  Before you choose one of these there are some questions to ask yourself.

I will get to those in a moment.  Before addressing those questions, please take a look at some of the “big picture” or “birds’ eye view” elements specific to Collin County Texas versus the rest of the Dallas Fort Worth area.

Challenges For Collin County Local Businesses When Attempting To Get New Leads And Prospects From Within Collin County

Unlike Dallas County and Tarrant County – which both have established television, print, radio and other dominant sources to reach a good percentage of the county’s population – Collin County is behind in that regard.  This is not to knock on the hard work of those who work in Collin County media establishments.  The challenge they face everyday, just like the local business owner attempting to reach those in Collin County, is fragmentation of trusted sources of information.

All you have to do is talk with people in Frisco, McKinney, Plano, Allen, The Colony, Prosper, Princeton, Fairview and other Collin County communities.  Ask them one simple question:  “Where do you go first to find out good resources in the local area?”  You would be surprised at the breakdown of what people trust.  Here are just SOME of the replies you will get, assuming you ask a broad range of people across different demographics:

  • their friends and family
  • the search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.)
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Craigslist and other classified ad sites
  • the newspaper
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest
  • Yelp
  • Daily deal sites (Groupon, Living Social, etc.)
  • online coupon sites + coupon books
  • Restaurant.com and other restaurant review sites
  • Google/Yahoo/Bing maps with the reviews
  • local radio station
  • upcoming event and “things around town” websites
  • chamber of commerce
  • a specific DFW online directory
  • an ad on a local website
  • a particular mobile-friendly (smart phone friendly) website or application (“app”)
  • many others

As you can see, the result changes depending on what is being sought in addition to the demographic/psychographic traits of the person you are asking.  Going forward into 2013, you will see a greater emphasis on review-based information.  This is a change going forward to start to “weed out” the businesses who rely on image rather than results.

How far will this go in 2013 at the Collin County level?  It depends on the audience.  With more tech-savvy people moving into the area everyday, play it safe and generate reviews as much as you can on multiple places – not just your website.  Getting favorable reviews, ideally with actual results within a short period of time, will be a terrific asset.  Get these on your Facebook page, Twitter timeline, YouTube videos and channel, Yelp page, LinkedIn profile (and company profile), Google Places, Google + Local business page and more.

Sadly, many local business owners and executives feel overwhelmed that they have enough on their plates just focusing on running their businesses, managing cash flow, dealing with employees and trying to have some semblance of a life outside of work!  Ideally, they would love get referrals and non-referral prospective clients and customers everyday; but the reality is that it just doesn’t work that way for a respectable percentage of businesses in the area.

Going outside of your business and paying for qualified leads can be a smart move.  There are some pitfalls, though, and those pitfalls have hurt other businesses across the country.  The first step is to ask yourself a few basic questions in order to achieve “wisdom” instead of “experience” — so that you can learn from the mistakes others have made instead of paying a “tuition cost” to gain the same knowledge!

5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Hiring Any Lead Generation Or Commission Sales Generation Outside Company/Service

Let’s keep this simple.  Here are 5 questions to ask yourself, although you are welcome to ask yourself more targeted questions in order to help you grow your business across North Texas in 2013:

  1. How many leads and prospects generated from an outside company or service can I handle in a given day or week?  Also, what is my current conversion (closing) rate on inbound calls or e-mails from people who were not referred to me by friends or my clients?
  2. How are the prospects “qualified” and tracked?  Am I going to pay only for qualified leads which are transparent to both sides?
  3. Is the service I am thinking about using offering exclusive leads or non-exclusive leads?  If “exclusive”, how much exclusivity do I get and do I have to pay a premium for it?
  4. If the service is providing me non-exclusive leads, how difficult will it be for me to reach the prospective client/customer in a timely manner to have a meaningful discussion?
  5. Do I have a way to follow up with prospective leads even if they do not use my service or product after the first time I become aware of them?  Do I have enough to convince them to join one of my lists (e.g e-mail newsletter, LinkedIn, Faceook page) in case they are dissatisfied with the service they first choose in order to get them to use my service the next time?

Obviously, there are more questions.  Many business owners in Collin County who have used lead generation services, however, when asked these questions have told me that it was the first time they have ever thought about those questions.  They just stampeded into a paying for a service which might not have cared enough to make sure that those questions were addressed properly.  Since the deal has to make sense for both parties, the lead generation service requesting that the local business owner pay for leads should care enough to make sure that everyone’s best interests are covered and are as transparent as possible.

What About A Daily Deal Site? I Love Using Those Coupons And Would Love To Have All Of Those People Calling Me To Do Business

This is a great point many local business owners have made.  To get even 80% effectiveness from a daily deal site, though, you need to be EXTRA careful.  Since you only pay on the purchase of the discount, and not just pay for leads, this should be a “no brainer”, right?!?

Not necessarily.

There are many factors which come into play here, including:

  • Is a daily deal site the best way to reach your prospects, or are there better ways?
  • Will such a deal, once thousands of Collin County residents know about you, actually “cheapen” your image and take you further away from a “trusted advisor” status and more toward a “commodity” status?
  • Do you have any of the 8+ ways to maximize the likelihood that a daily deal site customer will become a long-term customer, paying as close to the regular price as possible?
  • Is your staff trained to handle the influx of new customers should it work?
  • Do you have methods to maximize the odds that you get more positive reviews than negative reviews once you gain the greater exposure?
  • Do you have a unique tie-in with a news story or other event that “dovetails” with the daily deal promotion in order to get even greater exposure across Frisco, McKinney, Allen, Plano and the rest of Collin County and DFW?
  • Do you have any strategies to get images, videos or audio from the daily deal and use it for further marketing purposes?

As you can see, by taking a few minutes to think things through properly you can make an educated decision about generating more leads and prospects.  Again, Collin County residents are fragmented when it comes to how they make buying decisions due to its relatively unique situation unlike most U.S. markets.  By asking these questions you can put yourself ahead of some of your competition and take high-odds actions in 2013 to grow your business.

Should you want any help with the topics addressed in this post then you are welcome to contact me with your questions about your specific situation.  With over 60 methods to reach people in Collin County, we should be able to customize a plan of action which makes sense for everyone and keeps the risks to minimal levels.

I hope that this helps you and your colleagues and friends in some manner.  Please let me know if you would like to see more content on this topic.  If so, I will add it to the queue of upcoming topics regarding local business marketing in 2013.

Online Classified Ad Websites – How Any Dallas Small Business Can Use Them

Many small business owners across the country, even in Dallas (where this blog post originates), think of classified ad websites as an afterthought or not worth their time to post.  Other internet marketing tools and strategies are seen as being more interesting, supposedly having broader reach, and even seen as targeting a “low class audience”.  Intelligent business owners, in-house marketers, and marketing agencies know that these limiting beliefs can hinder their exposure to a qualified audience.

What you may not be aware of are the extra benefits which classified ads provide you, in addition to the likelihood of receiving a direct phone call/e-mail or walk-in to your store.  When you are looking to acquire new customers or clients in a local market, assuming your industry does not have standards preventing classified ad website marketing, then you can benefit your company in any/all of the following manners:

  • Direct sales of products or services in your local market
  • Announcing open-to-the-public events (either free or paid) on the event calendars
  • The links get crawled by the search engines and, if compliant with the site’s standards, can be a “supplemental” link building strategy for your search engine optimization efforts
  • Some of the classified ad websites may syndicate your ad to other websites which you do not yet know exist
  • Some markets have enterprising people create unique/customized classified ad websites which pull content from other sites.  These may target specific parts of a city or even larger homeowners associations across the country
  • Some of the sites permit the inclusion of your online videos
  • Some of the lesser-known classified ad websites can have your ad rank on the first page of the search engines for some of the lower-competition phrases.  This, of course, is on a case-by-case basis; but it still happens today because it leverages the classified ad website’s “authority” in the search engines
  • You can test out text or graphic/image ads on local classified ad websites before rolling them out as part of your paid advertising efforts
    • You can test headlines, price points, unique tracking phone numbers, specific “calls to action”, etc.
  • Some sites allow for easy sharing of your ad with the readers’ social media or e-mail lists

 

The drawbacks to classified ad website posting are the following:

  • Time consuming
  • Not sure which “add on” features for which you should pay on those sites which charge.  For example, you could pay for highlighting, bold font, etc.
  • No guarantee of a ROI
  • You think that you will look “cheap” and that your competitors will use it against you
    • This usually is a false notion, but it can be perceived that way
  • You go in with the belief that physical classified ads are worth the money and time instead of online classified ads
  • Some sites force you to learn some basic HTML skills in order to get the ad to look the way you want it to look

Most of the listed drawbacks can be overcome easily, but you need to know the benefits of classified advertising before you can counter the perceived drawbacks.

At this point you may be asking, “On which classified ad websites should I place ads?”  There are over 30 classified ad websites which permit ads for virtually any community in the U.S.  Here are a few of these top sites, each of which gets a good amount of traffic including the Dallas Fort Worth region:

  • Craigslist.org
  • Backpage.com
  • Oodle.com
  • OLX.com
  • Ebayclassifieds.com
  • USfreeads.com
  • Adpost.com
  • Classifiedads.com

An often-overlook strategy for attracting new customers is to discover local classified ad sites specific to your local market.  Let’s look at Plano Texas, which is a suburb just north of Dallas and south of the cities of Frisco and McKinney.  In addition to the main classified websites listed earlier, you can type in a likely-entered phrase into the search engines.  In this case, let’s enter “Plano Texas classified ads”.  Here is a screenshot of what this search returned in Google tonight:

Online Marketing With Classified Advertising Websites In Dallas and Plano Texas

You can see two additional websites which are worthy investigating a little bit further.  After the paid ad for Classifiedads.com, you can see two results:

  • planotx.ziply.com
  • www.planotexasclassifiedads.com

Of course, you can modify the search and look for results if you want to market outside of the Dallas and Plano TX area.

Determine if these sites offer free or very low-cost advertising.  In addition, you can follow some basic suggestions on how to determine if this site gets any respectable amount of traffic from your local area.  If you need help on this then be sure to contact me.

Obviously, classified ads on these types of sites are hyper-targeted, but it is best to have a balance between these types of sites,  Craigslist, and the rest of the major national classified ad sites mentioned earlier.

If you want to take this process to another level then you can do any/all of the following:

  • use tracking phone numbers (if permitted in your industry)
  • use tracking websites/domains to determine if the ad is working
  • split test headlines, calls-to-action, colors, placement of images, etc.
  • include helpful video or images when permitted
  • include phone numbers in headlines
  • test the wording of your ad and determine if “scarcity”, “invitation marketing”, humor, or if other underlying approaches work best for your audience in that specific market provided that you get enough traffic to your ad(s)
  • include phrases to help your search engine efforts such as targeting specific HOA’s, demographic groups, etc.

I hope that by reading this far that you have a somewhat better understanding of how and why online classified advertising can help you with your objective of gaining brand new customers/clients who never heard of you previously, nor were referred by any friends or family.  Again, the benefit may be passive (e.g. generating links to boost your main website’s home page in the search engines) versus direct benefit (e.g. getting a call directly from the ad or a walk-in to your location).  By properly structuring your ads and placing them on the appropriate web properties you should be taking constructive steps toward boosting your benefits and doing things which your competition is not doing.

If you have any questions or need help with any aspect of your internet marketing in Dallas or elsewhere around the country then feel free to contact me.

Getting More Out Of Any Chamber Of Commerce Membership

An Online Marketing Strategy To Leverage Your Local Chamber Of Commerce Membership

In the upcoming weeks I will post more about how any small business or medium-sized business owner or executive can boost his or her online presence through the business’ chamber of commerce membership.  Obviously, most of the benefits from any chamber membership comes from the “real world” participation:  weekly or monthly breakfasts, attending ribbon cuttings, going to quarterly or annual luncheons, and any opportunities to meet new people coming into the area through chamber events.  The ability to gain online marketing benefit, however, is not often as obvious.  In a moment you will learn one of the many strategies you can employ to get more online exposure through your chamber of commerce membership.

This blog entry helps three parties to benefit:

  • The prospective customer or client benefits because he or she is able to find products or services in the local market which have the possibility of meeting some sort of minimum standards
  • The business owner or executive wins because he or she feels that the membership paid to the local chamber of commerce is providing extra benefit above and beyond what was promised initially; and the business has the potential to grow through acquiring new customers or clients who never heard of the business previously nor were referred in any manner
  • The local chamber of commerce wins because its website gets more exposure and, therefore, can help the chamber gain more credibility and (passively) the possibility of attracting new members

First, you will want to know why your receiving calls about “SEO” services are so prevalent.  The underlying assumption is that by ranking at the top of search engines for a phrase which have some degree of consistent demand (number of searches each month) you will receive a good degree of pre-qualified prospects to a web PROPERTY.  Please note that this does not necessarily mean that the property must be your website.  It could be an online video on your YouTube channel, a press release, a local newspaper article about your business or a page on your website other than your home page.  Also note that ranking first does NOT mean an automatic number of new customers or clients.  This is because many elements have to be in place for someone to call or e-mail you out of the blue.  Such elements include price, guarantees, reviews, your promises, ease of finding contact information and several other factors.

Next, you have to know that the search engines want to give its users the very best possible results.  This is because each major search engine is part of of, or entirely, a publicly-traded company… and they need to meet analysts’ quarterly earnings expectations!  Therefore they want you to use that one site for ALL of your “who, what, when, where, why, how” questions.  This is because they know that out of every 100 queries made through their engine a certain number of people will click one of the paid ads where the search engine earns revenue from the advertisers.  Therefore, the more queries made through that particular engine equals more revenue for the parent company!  It is a “market share” game for the search engines, and therefore each engine always seeks out the best ways to return quality results so that you stay loyal to it and not “defect” to another search engine.

Remember that in any local market, the chamber of commerce’s website tends to be “authoritative” to these search engines.  One of the reasons why is that you cannot “spam” the chamber website very easily, if at all.  If a web property which you control appears on the chamber website then it likely had to go through some sort of human approval process (assuming a degree of human control) before it can be read by the search engine robots/spiders.  This type of control process lends itself to making each link on the chamber website more “trustworthy” than most other links in your local market, and you can begin to use this your advantage.

Finally, let’s cover a trend at the time of this blog post in the world of search engines. Many people now have easy access to “spammy” links in large volume.  What you want is to never have anything deemed spammy touching your website.  Ideally, the only links you want actually pointing to your website are located on web properties which the search engines respect.  These could include helpful videos on video-sharing sites, links to your site on press releases, local newspaper websites pointing to your home page, local directory websites, endorsements from happy customers on their social media properties, and similar types of links.  One of these types of quality links is a link from the local chamber of commerce’s website to your website.

Remember earlier that you read about ranking web PROPERTIES, not just your website’s home page.  Here is where your chamber of commerce membership begins to pay off in terms of helping you in the search engines.  Let’s take a look at an example for this website on the McKinneyChamber.com website, although it applies to anyone who has a membership in most chambers of commerce around the U.S.:

Internet Marketing Services McKinney Tes

Internet Marketing Services On The McKinney Texas Chamber Of Commerce Website

Note the website link (URL) which is http://www.mckinneychamber.com/Internet-Marketing-Services/MORETHANSEOCOM

Now take a look at the query in Google for “online marketing services McKinney TX”

McKinney Texas online marketing services

Chamber of commerce sub-folder (directory) appearing in the search engines

You can see that the sub-folder (directory) for “internet marketing services” on the McKinneyChamber.com website is ranking # 2 for this query.  The first three listings are paid ads, and the Chamber’s website is the second in the “organic” results.  Odds are that the Chamber has not spent a lot of time or money (if any!) promoting this specific sub-folder (directory), yet it still ranks near the top of the results.  This is just one of many examples of where a chamber of commerce’s website has authority in the search engines.

Even though my website’s listing is not directly showing in the results, the directory listing category page on the chamber website where my listing appears is ranking well.  This is fine to me as it gives authority to this website as well as anyone’s business who meets the Chamber’s minimum standards for appearing on that page.

In order for your business to gain more exposure, you can further boost your chamber page listing in the search engines with quality links.  For example, if you write a press release and are permitted to use up to three links then consider a strategy like this:

  • a link to your website’s home page (or another page on your site which best serves the interests of the press release’s readers)
  • one of your social media properties (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.)
  • the specific listing for your business on the chamber website

Please refrain from buying “spammy” links and sending them to your local chamber’s website as that will not benefit you in the long run (and maybe not even in the near term either!); and buying those links won’t help your fellow chamber members either as there likely will be no search engine reward for doing so.  Instead, whenever you have an opportunity to promote your page on the chamber website then do so.  Roughly 5-10% of your link building efforts can go to your business’ chamber website listing.  You can dedicate the other 90-95% to building quality links to your home page, “inner pages” on your website, articles, local directory listings, social media properties, videos and other helpful content you have produced for prospective customers and clients to find you.

I hope that this strategy begins to help you change how you look at your membership in any chamber of commerce around the country.  There are many more ways to leverage your membership in order to gain new customers or clients online.  If you cannot wait until the next blog post to discover these methods then you are welcome to contact me for more information; and we can discuss your strengths to increase the chances that your chamber membership will produce more customers through strategic online marketing.