Like any organization, local businesses in particular have a lot of options when it comes to advertising and marketing. While there’s no question that Internet marketing is one of the most effective avenues, many business owners still struggle with where to invest their marketing dollars.
Deciding between digital platforms doesn’t have to be complicated. While there are many avenues a local business can take – such as Facebook ads, Yelp ads, Google Search ads, Google Display ads, SEO, or sponsored content – often times using a combination of channels yields the best returns.
In this post I break down three Internet marketing channels that I’ve found to be the best avenues for local businesses with modest ad budgets. The platforms leverage the best bang for the buck, and help generate both short-term and long-term growth. Keep in mind that every business has unique objectives, so while certain platforms might thrive for some companies, others might find value in other unique Internet marketing opportunities, such as Yelp ads or investing in a local chamber of commerce membership.
Next SEO, Google Ads is of the fastest and most effective ways to get in front of users who are actively searching for what your business offers. Google Ads uses a pay per click model in which advertisers bid on keywords. Depending on how much they bid, and a few other variables, their ad will appear either above or below the organic search results.
Previously, Google Ads was called Google AdWords. This platform is notorious for failure, yielding questionable returns and leaving advertisers scratching their heads. But that’s often because Google AdWords, at the time, made it difficult for the layman to understand the nature of Google’s pay per click advertising model and the importance of using specific match types.
Now, with the new Google Ads, the platform is far more intuitive, making it easier for beginners to grasp the concepts and run a successful campaign. The beauty behind this platform versus Facebook and the other advertising channels centers on user intent. Your target users are actively interested in the keywords surrounding your business. While click-through rates aren’t as high as occupying a top organic search listing, you can still attract in-market users to your site.
I’ve gotten so obsessed about the new Google Ads platform lately and helping local businesses understand its features and nuances, that I’ve created an online Google Ads training course. You can learn more about this course over at YisooTraining.com or by viewing the course here.
SEO & Google My Business
SEO has become one of the most popular avenues to Internet marketing, and for good reason. Organic search engine visibility is the most premium marketing real estate around. Again, it all goes back to user intent and serving users with relevant content who are actively seeking solutions to the problems you solve. But unlike Google Ads, with organic SEO, the clicks and traffic to your site is earned naturally, costing you nothing but effort.
For local businesses, one of the most important profiles or components to your web presence for SEO is its Google My Business page. Just ask any reputable local SEO consultant. This page, along with your website and other variables, is what dictates your presence in the local 3 pack search results. These listing, which are accompanied by a Google Maps snippet and appear at the top of the search results, show for any keyword with local intent, such as “pizza,” “chiropractors,” or geo-modified queries like “best pizza in Traverse City” or “chiropractors near me.”
The listings in the local 3-pack, as shown in the figure above, also see greatest click-through’s against all other paid or organic listings in the search results. In short, it’s probably some of the best advertising exposure a business can get. But sometimes, the 3-pack can have a fourth, paid listing. While contingent based on where a user is searching from, Google Ads advertisers who successfully integrate Location Extensions, can have their ad appear in the 3-pack. In some rare yet incredible instances, this can result in a business occupying a listing in the paid search results, 3-pack listings, and organic search results.
All businesses, especially local businesses, should populate and verify their Google My Business page. It’s the first big step to SEO next to optimizing your website. And while there’s tons that goes into a solid SEO strategy, I won’t go into detail in this post. Just make sure you have a SEO-friendly website that’s well-suited for optimization and ongoing strategies.
Although most users on Facebook are not actively searching for your business’s solutions like Google, the beauty behind Facebook ads is that you can target users who very, very in-market as to what you have to offer. For instance, let’s say your a local triathlon coach who wants to grow your coaching business. With Facebook Ads, you can target users who are interest in triathlon, swimming, biking, running, endurance sports, and/or other interests, who are located within 15 miles of your location, and are between the ages of 21-55. In essence, you can get really, really targeted with Facebook Ads.
One thing that I have noticed with Facebook Ads is that conversion rates are often times not as high as SEO and Google Ads. In other words, users who visit your site from Facebook are less likely to submit a contact form or place a phone call for your tri coaching services. However, Facebook Ads are highly effective for other creative applications that can help grow your business in the long-term. One of the most powerful is building your brand’s follower base, as exemplified in the figure below of local voting initiative in Traverse City.
Facebook Ads are fundamental to growing your following, because doing it organically is very difficult and requires a highly time-intensive content marketing and outreach strategy. More followers improves the exposure of your posts, thereby generate leads down the road. But aside from building your following, Facebook Ads are effective to promote events, local news and press, or funnel users to other platforms where they can engage with your business.
For more information about Internet marketing and how to create a thriving web presence, contact Traverse Web. To connect with me, Tyler Tafelsky, hit me up on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn or scope out more of my work over at CaptivateSEO.com.