Online Reputation Management: Don’t Get Caught With Your Pants Down

pants down around anklesEverything you are learning at Take Control, both here on our blog and in the training videos, will help you build your online reputation and increase your positive online visibility.

This article at searchengineland.com on local search tactics pointed up some interesting methods people are using to increase their business’s online visibility. Some small local business owners in metropolitan areas are going to the drastic extent of moving their physical business location to a more popular part of their city!

Being a local small business owner from a small town, you will never have to go to that extreme. But you do need to get busy and establish your online presence. That is what Module One at Take Control is all about.

Taking control of what is being said about you right now seems so simple, many people want to ignore these techniques in favor of the flashier internet marketing social media options like Facebook pages and of course, fancy websites.

But if your goal is to grow your business and make yourself more money, you need to lay the foundation for your internet marketing success, and that involves establishing your total internet presence – things you do yourself like maintaining a quality website, and things that are done without your knowledge or direct permission like review sites and directories.

You need to show up everywhere possible. You need to claim your business wherever it is being listed or talked about.

You need to show up on directories, both general and specific to your industry and geographic location.

You need to be continually managing your reputation online. Large companies are paying big bucks to have someone else do their reputation management. You can do it for yourself and your business in a few minutes a week at no cost. But you need to be doing it.

No, taking control of your online reputation isn’t very flashy compared to a workshop on how to get a zillion likes for your Facebook page. But if your goal is making more money, you’ll reach that goal faster if you start by taking control of what is already being said about you online.

Facebook likes are great, but we’re building an internet marketing strategy that you can trust to grow your business. Facebook and other social media are the cherry on top. We are starting with the foundation – that oh so important vanilla ice cream that makes every sundae worth digging into.

So, get started right now by googling yourself. What did you discover that surprised you? Was your biggest surprise that you didn’t find anything at all, or that you uncovered an unflattering review that is years old?

Once you’ve discovered what’s being said, your reputation management strategies need to kick in.

You need to be responding to any negative reviews and comments and acknowledging any positive ones.

If you discovered that you don’t as yet have much of an online reputation to manage, you must get busy and build one. You need to generate some positive reviews and comments from your loyal customers.

Need to know what to do next? Check out Module One here at Take Control. You won’t find better advice and training anywhere on the net

Think you’ve heard this from me before, well, you’re right. Here are some past posts looking at this topic from different angles:

Do You Need to Get Serious about Internet Marketing?

What Skiers Can Teach Small Outdoor Recreation Businesses About Honesty in Marketing

Thanks Bark for  having this kicky photo available on Flickr through Creative Commons

 

How to Optimize for Local Search

It used to be a given that everyone in business needed to be listed in the local telephone book.

Now, everyone in business needs to be online, optimized for local search.

If you ever wondered if Take Control put too much emphasis on setting up your Google Business page, please take a moment to read this post from WordTracker.com – How to get famous in your neighborhood – local search optimization.

For people in small towns, local search seems like something you DON’T want to stress if you’re trying to attract customers from out of your immediate area. But the thing is, with smartphones, local search puts you in touch with everyone whose passing through and looking for services like yours.

Someone on the highway driving past can find you more easily if you’ve optimized for local search.

Locals who’ve given up using telephone books will find you more easily if you’ve optimized for local search. Anyone, anywhere, who puts your town or area name into their organic search for services like yours will find you if you’re optimized for local search. Get busy and set up your business profile at  https://www.google.com/business/ and keep it updated.

Google continues to add new search features that make the organic search results look different from what you see in the Take Control videos. But the centerpiece of so much of what they do with businesses goes back to that Google Business page.

Keep it updated regardless of whether you have a business page on Google+. I can’t predict what will happen next at Google or Bing or Yahoo!. But keeping your local business listing up to date on each of these search engines will give you the added oomph needed to stay ahead in organic search results.

I talk often about Google, but with a new kick butt CEO, who knows what will happen with Yahoo! Keep your listing current there too.

If you don’t look at your review sites. If you just don’t have time and money to optimize your old website. Do your business a big favor and optimize for local search by getting that local business page up and optimized on Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Take Control Video Lessons Now Free

With all the recent changes to some of the major marketing tools I’ve included in the Take Control of Your Internet Marketing videos, I’m having to make some major business decisions. I cannot create and upload new videos fast enough to keep up!

So as of September 1st, access to all Take Control videos will be free of charge. There is much valuable content on the site that is not affected by the flurry of updates and changes to services and platforms including Google, Facebook, and the WordPress theme, Thesis.

Here’s how to proceed to get the most out of Take Control of Your Internet Marketing:

1. Don’t skip anything. Google Places is still the foundation of your relationship with Google who, as I said in the video, rules the world. Organic search still is your most valuable tool for reaching your customer and Google Places gives you an opportunity to tell Google who you are and exactly what you do, in your own words. The look of the Google search page has changed dramatically in the past few weeks which would require some major updates to the videos that I don’t have the time to do. But the basic, simple steps outlined in the video lessons for keeping your search placement has not.

2. Everything in the videos about review sites is spot on. Use the information to establish and maintain your review site listings. The review sites themselves will change their look, but your ability to access your listings and respond to reviews and the importance of those responses will not.

3 The importance of targeting your Perfect Customer becomes more important every day. The marketing lessons in Module 2 will continue to be the most important information at Take Control. Those of you who are doing the hard work of Id’ing your customers, digging into their needs and wants, likes and dislikes will benefit. Digging into your own business and matching the solutions you offer to those customers, and discovering the keyword phrases most often used to search for those solutions is now an essential activity for business success.

4. Facebook has changed dramatically. The lessons about Facebook in Module 2 will help you get comfortable if you’re one of the 2 people in the world who isn’t using Facebook. With Graph Search and the new updates to the News Feed, it is essential for any business wishing to reach customers through Facebook, to have a business page. It’s hard for a small business owner to keep up with all these changes, and even harder to keep training video material current! Uncle!! I can’t do it any longer. If your customers are on Facebook, you need that business page, and to keep up with changes, you’re going to need to follow the Facebook for Business Blog.

5. Your website. Module 3 still have an incredible amount of content that will help you be successful. Thesis, the WordPress theme used in the training has morphed into a new product called Thesis 2. It is an incredibly powerful tool for effortlessly keeping your website’s relationship to search engines and WordPress current.  We are keeping the video tutorials using Thesis, but recommending now that the “Twenty family” of free themes from WordPress are an excellent alternative for your small business website.  From “Twenty Eleven” through “Twenty Seventeen,” WordPress has presented a fabulous new theme each year. These themes are upgraded on a regular basis, so they retain their ability to work seamlessly with new versions of WordPress.

As for the marketing lessons in Module 3, they remain simple, doable and powerful. You will learn how to format your pages for search engines, no matter which WordPress theme you use. You will be less likely to adopt an expensive website design that had lots of bells and whistles, but less solid built-in SEO benefit that will attract your customers. You will know what technical steps to take to update an underperforming web page, and how to use the basic WordPress platform, no matter which theme you use.

6. Finally, you’ll have everything you need to start blogging successfully and effectively.

All the pieces for successful internet marketing are here, and they’re yours without further charge.

These are the exact steps that my private clients are using to build successful businesses. If you would like more individualized assistance to reach your business goals, please call or email. I have determined that I’m happier working with small business clients than trying to stay on top of Facebook and Google’s next move!

I will continue to blog on internet marketing as I come across tools that will help small local business people. An example is the latest free ebook from HubSpot on Facebook’s newsfeed. Go to Access the Crash Course to the Facebook News Feed. HubSpot has tons of free helpful information and a huge staff that keeps up on all these changes.

Thank you for your membership.

Joanne

Have You Checked Your Search Engine Traffic Lately?

Google’s been at it again.

search engine traffic graph

Search engines are constantly changing. They have to, to stay ahead of people using so called “black hat” methods to manhandle their websites to the top 10 search results. Google is dedicated to giving searchers the best possible search results, NOT mangled results caused by someone gaming the system.

So you and every other business owner needs to stay on top of search engine changes. Google and the other big search engines are getting better and better at almost reading searchers’ minds.

Because we stress the importance of providing content on your website that your customer needs and wants, we’re fairly certain that you’ll weather all the Google changes pretty well.

The websites that are overly focused on their products and services, overusing certain keyword phrases without backing up those keywords with additional good content are going to get punished.

Your website isn’t a fix it and forget it billboard.

You should be aware of what kind of traffic you’re getting to your site,

  • checking regularly to see if traffic is changing,
  • learning which pages are getting the most attention,
  • reviewing what keyword phrases are generating the most traffic.

Google Analytics can help you easily do this and it’s free. Setting up Analytics is simple. Signing up for a Google account will be your first step. If you have a Google Business Page (which you should) or a gmail account, you have a Google account.

For a complete guide and step by step instructions for using Google Analytics, go to the Google Analytics training site. There is hugely more information there than you may need, but if you’re a data lover, you’re going to be amazed by what Analytics can show you about your website traffic.

Have your webmaster add the necessary scripts for Google Analytics to begin tracking your traffic. It’s important to do this. Google Analytics makes it possible to act strategically as you work on your website.

Organic search is still incredibly valuable according to recent studies, so paying attention to your search engine placement is vital to your business success.

You’re too busy to spend time on website related activities that won’t improve your search engine placement. Besides knowing and understanding your customer’s needs and wants, Analytics data is your best free option.

Here’s more useful info about Google:

How Google Decides That You Deserve To Be On Page One

 

Image from Yahoo Small Business Advisor along with an interesting article

 

 

 

 

Himalayan Outback: An Example of Internet Marketing Success

Himalayan Outback is an adventure travel business located in northern India. We have  worked together via Skype for six years.

Himalayan Outback is a good example of the value of a robust internet marketing strategy.

Misty Dhillon is a master fly fishing guide and recognized authority on the Golden Mahseer, a highly prized sport fish. Himalayan Outback is a high end guide service, taking fishermen to remote fishing locations in northern India to catch and release this amazing fish.

By “high end” I mean first class accommodations and service, even in remote areas where tent camping is used.

When we first met, Himalayan Outback’s homepage looked like this: oldhimalayanoutback

Misty’s question to me was, “I’m a highly sought after fishing guide, yet most of my business is coming from other people’s websites. Why?”

We spent the next few months responding to that question and changing Himalayan Outbacks entire web presence to reflect the answers. Continue reading Himalayan Outback: An Example of Internet Marketing Success

What Is Big Data and What Does it Have To Do With Small Local Business

Over the past few weeks I’ve read numerous articles online about Big Data. It occurred to me that many of the people I serve, you who read this blog, might not be following the discussion about Big Data as closely as I have, so it would be a good topic for this blog.

Big Data cartoonWhat exactly is Big Data?

Everyone who has a mortgage, a credit card or a smartphone is aware that data is being collected about them. We get those privacy statements in the mail or online and every site from Facebook to Amazon makes us click “Yes I’ve read and agree” to the terms of service before we can get on with our business. Continue reading What Is Big Data and What Does it Have To Do With Small Local Business

Internet Marketing is First and Foremost About Your Customer

customer service graphicThe world is swirling with internet marketing training courses!!

I, of course, keep a close eye on what is being offered and I’m concerned.

There are good trainings on how to use Facebook and all the other social media options.

There are courses on making and managing your own website.

Just google email marketing and you’ll find a zillion training options.

What is largely being ignored in this wealth of training options is the customer.

Small local business owners are caught up in the urgency of needing to be everywhere online. Too often they’re forgetting the purpose of being anywhere online: To be where your customer is searching. Continue reading Internet Marketing is First and Foremost About Your Customer

How to Start Looking For Small Business Financing Help

shopkeeper in front of storeIt has been my experience, working for many years with small rural business owners that NOBODY opens their own business to manage financials. It is one of the three necessary parts of owning and operating your own business and the one thing that is most often left to chance.

Getting help with financials

It’s scary to look at financial projections and profit and loss statements. Better to check your bank balance to see if you can pay your bills and go back to doing the fun stuff, the stuff you went into business to do.

In his book, Ripples from the Zambezi, Ernesto Siroli talks about how important it is for an entrepreneur to get help with at least one of the three vital parts of operating a business, the thing the business does, the marketing and the financials.

For most entrepreneurs financials is the obvious thing to get outside assistance with and the first step is to know what help to ask for. Too often the first signal that help is needed is when the checkbook tells you, you need to look for financing.

I received a nice email this week from Jeffery Redd of the Government Financial Officers Assn. (GFOA) thanking me for mentioning Small Business Trends in a previous post at my Rural Tourism Marketing blog.

Where to start looking for small business loans

Jeffery suggested another website regarding small business financing options that is good enough, I wanted to pass it on to you Take Control members and interested readers. The website http://www.abcbizloans.com/unsecured/sba-loan-programs/ spells out many of the types of grants and loans available through the SBA.

When you start looking for business loans and grants, this might be an excellent place to start to educate yourself about what’s available. Then, contact your local Small Business Development Center of micro enterprise association.

It’s helpful to start learning what you don’t know you don’t know before you start asking for loans. You’ll know what questions to ask when you meet with a small business advisor. The nice thing about this website, as Jeffery points out, is that it’s purely informational without a pitch for any particular type of loan.

And, you might want to check out that original post, 2011 Trends Favor Small Towns and Locally Owned Businesses. It is still useful and relevant .

 

Need to Learn How to Do Something? Google It.

Safe cut can openerWe live in interesting times. It has never been easier in the history of the world to learn something new.

We’ve gone from limited resources and information, with everything stored in libraries, museums and universities to a time when anything and everything is now available online. Everyone has access to anything!

So, why is it so hard for so many small business owners to make the shift from traditional to inbound marketing?

From paper advertising and telephone books to social media. From word-of-mouth to digital word-of-mouth.

It’s habit. It’s overwhelm.

Continue reading Need to Learn How to Do Something? Google It.

How to Blog: New Lessons at Take Control of Your Internet Marketing

New video lessons on blogging have been added to the Take Control of Your Internet Marketing training. These lessons are part of Module Four, Take Control of Your Message and Build Your Authority.

 Blogging is a vital part of an internet marketing strategy for four reasons:

Dave Coverly cartoon on blogging1. People, potential customers, are using the internet to research before they buy.

A well optimized blog will give those potential customers the information they’re looking for to make a buying decision. If the product or service they are seeking, your product or service, is linked to your blog, you’ve increased your chance to make that sale.

2. People, potential customers, learn to trust the businesses that give them the best information about the product or service they are researching.

You build your authority as a knowledgeable and trustworthy business owner by giving good, detailed information about what you do or sell.

Business owners not familiar with the philosophy behind blogging and content marketing might worry that they will lose business by giving too much away free. They may be concerned that by teaching a skill they sell, people will do it themselves rather than buying their services! The reality is, that doesn’t happen. We’ll show you examples in the training videos.

3. Blogging helps to build a relationship with the people who find your information and blogging style useful and interesting.

Internet marketing is all about attracting and building a relationship with people who are or could become your customers. You’ll discover in these blogging lessons how useful all the work is that you have done in past modules.

You will be using the work you did in Module Two to identify and profile your Perfect Customer. You will easily integrate a blog into the website you created in Module Three. You will see how valuable this new tool is in expanding the relationships you started with your work to show up on review sites and local business pages in Module One.

You’ll begin to see first hand how all these pieces fit together to create a comprehensive internet marketing strategy.

4. Blogging is an easy way to keep the content on your website fresh for search engines.

Google loves blogs. Blogging shows Google and the other search engines that you have a regularly managed and updated website. A well optimized blog post is individually indexed, giving you another doorway into your website. Each new post gives you an additional way to attract visitors – potential customers.

The lessons are designed to make it simple and doable to accomplish something that many people find difficult – writing 300 to 500 words on a single topic.

I stress 300 to 500 words to help you think of this as a short writing effort, but many of you will get started blogging and find you have much more to say! You might even find that like me, you love blogging!

I show you a way to pick your topic and write your headline that will make the actual writing much easier. You’ll know exactly what you want to cover and how to rapidly churn out an interesting, informative post.

Then you’ll be reminded of the the formatting techniques taught in Module Three, this time focusing on capturing the attention of a skimming blog reader.

“Why wait for this important information until Module Four?” you might ask.

As those of you who are members have discovered, going through the video lessons is building your competence as a master internet marketer.

  • You have seen immediate results from your work in Module One.
  • You accomplished some of the vital preparatory work of targeting your customer and building some internet competence in Module Two.
  • You created and populated your home base, the centerpiece of your internet strategy in Module Three.
  • And now, in Module Four we’re expanding and refining your skills by focusing on ways to enhance the relationships you’ve created in past lessons.

And, you’ve still had time for all the other demands on a small local business owner!

 

Cartoon by Dave Coverly at Speedbump.com

 

 

Learn the simple and doable steps to taking control of your internet marketing