Thumb Area Website Design, Mobile Website Design, Google Plus Local Page Management
We want to help you to embrace new technologies to advertise your products and services.
We want to help you to learn how to advertise more effectively, less expensively, and to a wider market.
We want you to realize how many people, even right here in our area, search online for local products and services.
We want you to realize that if your small business isn't visible online, you are missing out on customers, and leaving money on the table.
We have a can't lose plan to revive the local economy, and we hope that local businesses will hear us out.
Small businesses around the country who are surviving and even thriving during these rough economic times are the ones who are embracing new technologies to advertise their products and services. We think it's high-time that small businesses in the Michigan Thumb Area start doing the same.
In our world today, where the Internet allows us to connect and communicate instantly with people anytime, anywhere, on their laptops and iphones, there's absolutely no reason why local businesses should be suffering.
We believe that if Michigan Thumb Area small businesses would learn how to advertise more effectively, less expensively and to a wider market using available online technologies, they would see an almost instant increase in customers and revenue.
One of the main problems we have here in the Thumb is that most local small business owners don't realize how many people - even right here in our area, search online before they decide which local businesses to spend their money with. If you and your small business aren't visible and active online, you are absolutely missing out on customers.
If the thought of learning how to use all the latest online tools like Google Plus Local, Facebook, QR codes and video marketing sounds overwhelming, we say not to worry.
Although we have the capability to provide our services to anyone in the world, our focus is on the counties that makeup the Thumb Area of Michigan (Huron, Tuscola, Sanilac, Genesee, Lapeer, & St. Clair Counties).
Just to re-iterate our services include: Website Design, Mobile Website Design, Google Plus Local Page Management, Search Engine Optimization, Mobile Marketing, Email Marketing, Video Marketing, Pay Per Click Advertising, Social Media Management, Reputation Management, and other Internet related services.
As part of our plan to help you, and the local economy, please continue reading, the following three topics are the very most important priorities that you must implement to ensure your future business success.
1. Create A Website For Your Thumb Area Business
You might be thinking to yourself, I'm a brick and mortar store, I don't sell things online. Why do I need a website? The answer is because that's how your customers find you. The days of looking up a business in the yellow pages are gone. Your customers are looking for your business online, and on the go. The fact is... it doesn't matter what you are selling, or what kind of business you are in, you need to have a professional looking website appropriately designed for your business.
So lets go over the very basics of what it takes to get a website on the web. In order to do that, I like to use the analogy of a book author. Lets say you want write a book, and put it on the library shelf, so that who ever wants to read it can. First, you need to buy a blank book with a title. Make sure it's a good title, so people will want to read it. Second, you need to be able to write on the blank pages of the book. You need a good pen. Finally, you need to get your book off your desk, and on the library shelf, so that the public can see it.
Creating a website works the same way. First, you need to choose and register your domain name. This is like finding a good title to your book. Because you are a brick and mortar store, it might be a good idea for your domain name to have something to do with your geographic location. Lets say you have a courier service in Marlette. It would be a great idea to register marlette-delivers.com, or marlettecourier.com. Even if that isn't the name of company, the amount of natural traffic that domain will generate will be well worth it. Plus, you can always direct that traffic to, the-name-of-your-company.com.
Now, you will need register that domain name with a registrar. There are quite a few registrars out there, and they are extremely easy to find. You can just Google, domain name registration, and find one that you like. We personally like namecheap.com.
Once you have your domain name registered, you will need to get your site hosted. This is where our analogy gets a little out of order, but because many registrars also act as hosting companies, now is the best time to discuss it. Having your website hosted is like putting your book on the library shelf. It allows everybody in the world to have access to it. When you choose a hosting company, it's important to consider server reliability, site uptime, email clients, and other features. Saving a few dollars a month by using an unreliable hosting company will cost you many times more than that in lost business.
So now you have your blank book with a good title, and you have it on the library shelf. It's time to start writing on the pages. Most hosting companies out there will offer different solutions for actually creating your website. We recommend Wordpress from wordpress.org. It's free, widely used, and most hosting companies will offer one click installation of the software. Once you have it installed, you will find a plethora of documentation and help videos to get you started.
Well, thats it for this overview of how to create your website. If you are feeling a little overwhelmed, don't worry about it. It can be a lot to take in at first. You may want to consider talking to an online marketing professional. These people have made a career out of helping people like you increase sales. It could be time very well spent.
For more information and much more detail about why having your own small business website is so important please checkout this article: In Today's World A Local Small Business Must Have A Website
2. Create A Mobile Compatible/Optimized Version Of Your Thumb Area Website
Here are some interesting facts:
- Mobile is ramping up faster than any other technology we have seen in the past.
- 3x more smartphones are being activated every minute around the world than there are babies being born.
- At the end of 2011, over half of Americans have smartphones.
- The Mobile Web is EXPLODING. US Mobile Queries have grown 4X in 2011.
- 29.6% of queries for restaurants are mobile based.
- 15.5% of queries for Consumer Electronics are mobile based.
- 79% of large online advertisers DO NOT have a mobile optimized site.
I hope #7 got your ATTENTION. You need to understand why this matters to you, how you can take advantage of this to help make you more money, and also get a better understanding of the mobile environment.
I want to talk about the importance of having a mobile optimized version of your business's site. Let me start by saying that a good portion of the people looking for your business online, are doing so from a web-enabled mobile device, aka, their smart phone. And when somebody is browsing the Internet on their phone, they do it in a completely different way then they do on their computer. Screen sizes are different, resolutions are different, even interfaces are different. In addition to that, a page that would take 1-2 seconds to load on your home computer, might take up to 15 seconds to load on your smart phone. (That may not seem like a long time, but just try clicking on a link and counting to 15. For today's customers, it's an eternity.)
Let me show you a quick example here. If I pull up a browser, and go to the Wall Street Journal's website, you will see that it's very well laid out, professional, and everything you would expect from a top tier company. However, if the Wall Street Journal didn't have a mobile optimized site, and I was on my iPhone, it would look terrible.
Same webpage, but what a difference. There is no way I'm going to spend time fishing around this page, hoping to find what I'm looking for. And it gets worse. The iPhone is fully web enabled. Imagine if I was on a phone that had a mobile browser that only scraped links and text. What a mess. By the way, www.iphonetester.com is a great way to get an idea about how your site will look on a mobile device.
So here's the bottom line. Having a mobile optimized website is a huge benefit to your business. The best way to get one is to talk to a web professional. They can show you different options, and get your site ready for mobile customers.
For more information and further detail about why having your own small business website is so important please checkout this article: A Mobile Optimized Website Is A Must For A Local Small Business Because Smartphones Are Powerful & Prolific
3. Claim & List Your Thumb Area Business On A Google Plus Local Page
Get your business listed on Google Plus Local. Why? It's crucial for your local small business, and it will improve your rankings and draw new customers to your door. All for free, and very easy to do.
While the idea of the World Wide Web implies that people come to the Internet to get information from all around the globe, the name doesn't leave a lot of room for another aspect of the Internet that most people rely on Internet searches not just for world wide, but for LOCAL information. Nearly 85% of people, in fact, rely on the Internet when they're looking for local information.
Where to order pizza? How late is the hardware store open? Who can repair my printer over the weekend? Internet searches and free tools like Google Plus Local are fast becoming well, to tell the truth, they've long already become what used to be the yellow pages or other printed business directories. Google Plus Local is the place where people go to find your website and your physical location. If you're not listed, or not listed well, they're going to find your competitors, and give them what might have been your business.
Let's go thru a scenario and see what I'm talking about. Let's suppose you live in Port Sanilac, Michigan... Valentines day is fast approaching, and you desperately need to do something special for your significant other... you're thinking a gift certificate to a salon. So you run to Google and type in salons to see what your options are. Just to be sure that you're with me... the ficticous person that I'm referring to in this scenario is good at doing local searches on Google, and already have their search location set to 48469 (Port Sanilac).
Now you'll notice that a Google Plus Local Panel & a Google Map of the local area pops up, complete with several pins designating salon locations - Lexington, Croswell, Port Sanilac, Michigan. Of course, if you spot a salon right around your corner, then good news for you, and good news for that salon. But that's not always the case. And there to the left, you've got the text and website listings of those top listed places in the Google Plus Local Panel. All of this before the standard Google organic search listings.
This is a great start for this scenario, and it looks like we have plenty of options. Now what catches my eye next, is that one of these shops has a bunch of stars next to it. 8 reviews in total, with a 5 star rating that seems to put this salon above all the others. This is a good draw, and a good lesson that I should try to accumulate as many good reviews as I can for my own business.
Furthermore, if you click on any of these blue links, you'll go straight to the business's website, assuming that they have one... unfortunately so many of them don't. If under the blue link it says maps.google.com it means that business does not have a website. If under that it says Google Plus Page that means that business has not even "claimed" their Google Plus Local Page. These folks are absolutely leaving money on the table because it is so easy to setup a Google Plus Local Page that will bring more traffic through your doors.
But let's continue on... check this out. By clicking on the reviews, if the business is smart enough and lucky enough to have them, you get that business's Google Plus Local profile page. In this case, they've done a good job of filling out their profile with good copywriting with effective keywords, plenty of pictures to give them a friendly face, and you can go through and read all of their reviews in full.
So let's get started and setup a Google Plus Local Page for our business. In most cases, one already exists for your business. You just have to "claim" it, and set it up with the information we suggest here. We'll sign in to Google Plus Local, and check out just how easy it is to set up an effective profile. We've got basic information such as address and phone number, to hours of operation and payment options. The more information you fill in here, the better off you'll be when customers looking for your type of business, in your general location, and come across your description. Don't neglect to add a photo, or videos if you have them. Not only does all of this help make your profile more engaging for people who find it, but the extra content and the tag information you have associated with that content will encourage Google to take more notice of you. So on that note, be sure that your descriptions and all of your tags are SEO optimized. That is, make sure that your prime keywords are not littered all over the place, but are featured well in your text.
Back to the dashboard. Once you have your profile set up and running, you can access these user friendly tools to a get a very detailed analysis of how your business and your listing is performing in these online searches. How many people came to your website today? Did they find you through a search engine, or did they click on a link from another website? What exactly were they searching for when they found your website, and what can you do to tailor your message or even tailor your product or service to better accommodate these customers? All of these tools will give you a picture like no other, and help you make smart decisions about how to capture the attention of more customers.
And to really optimize your rankings, to earn you the number one slot on the search engines and in a primary spot on the Google Plus Local panel, what should you do? It's tremendously overlooked, perhaps because it takes a bit of effort but the number one thing you can do to shoot past your competition is to get the customers that do walk in your door to post a review online. Whether it's a notice on your comment card, a little sign posted on the cash register, or even a face-to face-request, this little extra step will reap dividends. And of course, be sure to respond to those reviews once you get them. This too helps build up your online presence, and Google will reward you for it.
There you go. Hopefully you get the idea now of why ranking well on Google Plus Local is no small matter. It gives your living, breathing business a living, breathing presence in the world's primary local business directory.
Of course, it's not absolutely necessary to handle all of this yourself if you don't have the time, or would rather spend your resources on other aspects of your business, doing what you do best. Plenty of businesses allocate some resources to professional online marketing consultants, and for good reason. These specialists have a thorough understanding of Google Plus Local and other tools out there, and are constantly keeping themselves up-to-date with the latest techniques to build web presence. By keeping one in your corner, you'll be sure to maintain a forward-leaning strategy when it comes to the online world, stay a step ahead of your competitors, attract new customers and leads, and reward your business with a well-deserved ROI.
Please consider keeping us in your corner.
For more information and additional detail about why claiming and detailing your Google Plus Local Page is so important please checkout this article: The Importance Of Google Plus Local Pages For Local Small Businesses