Small & Local Business Internet Marketing Resources
“Yoda said, “Give, Then Take.” We like that and have followed it with every Internet enterprise we have created. 406 Strategies is no exception. Our intent with the Resources Section is to provide the top tools and latest developments in Internet marketing for small and local businesses so that if you have the time, desire and manpower, you can do a lot of the work required to establish your Internet presence yourself.” – John Audette, 406 Founder
We’re getting started here by focusing very heavily on a concept that is being called by various terms, including localization, local search engine optimization (SEO) – or our trademarked term for it: Local Listing Optimization. We believe that the low-hanging fruit for local businesses currently is to optimize their local listings in the major search engines. There is a large “first mover” advantage here in terms of establishing your ranking before your competitors – and the cost is very low.
Doing It Yourself vs. Having 406 Strategies Do It for You
If you prefer to complete your local listing process yourself, you will find resources here to help get you started. If you prefer to have 406 Strategies do it for you, our Local Listing Optimization process is quick, easy, thorough – and the cost is a nominal one-time fee of $499.
A (Very) Short History of Search Marketing
While on-page organic search engine optimization (SEO) techniques and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising have been around for many years, local SEO techniques are relatively new. John Audette, one of the founders of 406, was a pioneer in SEO and in 1995 started what grew to become a large Internet marketing agency. It’s interesting that proper optimization of local listings requires much the same approach as organic SEO did, way back when.
John’s history is one of the reasons that 406 has been able to develop such a powerful approach to optimizing local listings – 406 Strategies Local Listing Optimization. Like many things, it’s a process that looks simple to do on the surface, but has complexities and subtleties as you dig deeper.
The newly-heightened importance of optimizing local listings has been propelled by a number of factors – five relatively recent ones are perhaps the most catalytic:
- The rapid fall in yellow pages usage
- The decline in newspaper readership and reach
- Google’s introduction of Google Places in late October of 2010
- The ever-increasing distribution of mobile devices such as smartphones – up 193% in the 12-month period prior to this writing
- Bing’s new local listings initiatives
The majority of consumers today use the Internet to find information on local goods and services, with an ever-increasing amount done on mobile devices. One effect this has had is to make the yellow pages pretty much a relic of the past – kind of like renting movies at Blockbuster.
Local Listing Resources
Since many of the factors contributing to the heightened importance of local listings are relatively recent in nature, the number of resources online are somewhat limited. We realize that if small business owners are willing to take the time needed to learn the techniques and do the implementation, they can be up to 75% as effective doing this process by themselves. So we’ve listed some resources for those who would rather tackle local listings on their own.
Excellent Video from Google on Some of the Ways They Establish Local Rankings
The three most important things: (1) Location – how far your business is from the searcher’s location; (2) Relevance – how relevant your business is to the search terms. This is why it is vitally important to make sure your business is listed in the proper categories (out of 1800 possible) at Google Places; (3) Prominence – how popular your business is, based on what they refer to as “web factors”, which we would interpret as customer reviews, location check-ins, and the like. Most of this data is probably gathered from social media sites.
GetListed.org is a great resource by local search guru and 406 adviser David Mihm and his business partner Patrick Sexton. They have an automated tool that you can use to see how your business is listed at Google, Yahoo and other search engines. All you have to do is to enter your business name and your zip code. You will then receive a listing score that rates how effectively your business is taking advantage of listings at the major search engines. It will also provide a list of things you can do to improve your score. Highly recommended if you want to take a stab at optimizing your local site listings yourself.
This is a direct link to David’s resources page with a list of links to articles and advice.
One of the very best places on the Internet to get the latest in SEO information, SEOmoz has become an institution and a must for do-it-yourselfers.
Search Engine Land
One of the definitive websites on all things Internet-search-related. 406 co-founder John Audette’s son Adam Audette is a frequent columnist there.
Internet Marketing Strategies & Tips
A good site for the D-I-Y’er. Lots of free tips on maximizing the return from your web presence.
Jim Blasingame: The Small Business Advocate
Jim Blasingame is widely acknowledged to be one of the nations leading small business advocates. From Small Business Radio interviews with industry experts, to blog posts, to articles, his website is brimming over with useful information for small business owners. And it’s all free. Highly recommended!
- 406 Strategies Intelligence for Small & Local Business
This is our very own 406 Strategies blog. We work hard to provide timely information about Internet marketing news, developments, strategies, information and tactics for local and small businesses.
A great blog by, you guessed it, the inimitable (or should that be in-mihm-itable? sorry) David Mihm. David is the undisputed #1 guru of local search and by following his blog you will probably end up with more than you ever wanted to know about the subject.
A blog by Greg Sterling, who follows search, local and mobile markets closely.
- Outspoken Media
More about online marketing than local search, but well-done and informative, by Lisa Barone.
- Understanding Google Maps & Local Search
An excellent blog by Mike Blumenthal, who we refer to as the Pope of Localization, with in-depth information on all things local.
- Local SEO Guide
An excellent resource for local search by Andrew Shotland.
- Local Onliner
Run by Peter Krasilovsky, VP at BIA/Kelsey, this blog focuses on developments in Internet local marketing.
Here are three DIY books that we haven’t personally reviewed:
- Can Your Customers Find You Online?, by Charisa Jones Pruitt
- Local Online Advertising for Dummies, by Court Cunningham and Stephanie Brown
- Mobile Search and Local Search Marketing: The Small Business Survival Guide, by Stephen Wilson
Here are some more theoretical books that we have read and reviewed. It’s amazing where you can pick up insights that are applicable to Internet marketing:
- Malcolm Gladwell
A typical Gladwell book – pop psych that is easy to read and interesting but that doesn’t go very deep or very wide.
It’s listed here because it led me to the following two books, which I suspect were some of the “inspiration” for Gladwell’s book. Like going from Coors Lite to a Deschutes Brewery HopTrip – not that there’s anything wrong with Coors Light.
- Dan Ariely
Since you’re on this website, you’re probably involved with marketing online. Did you know, to quote Ariely, that humans rarely choose things in absolute terms? Do you know the distinction between social norms and market norms and how social contracts and market contracts differ? It’s a critical distinction for those marketing on the Internet, where the lines can blur, but where you cross them at your own peril. Ariely is a professor of Behavioral Economics at MIT. A likable, accessible and interesting individual, he bases his observations on empirical data from scientific tests conducted by Ariely and other scientists. His central thesis is that people often act in unexpected ways – ways which we would call irrational.
The recent economic meltdown makes this theory especially compelling today. Much of our current economic theory is based on the Chicago School of economic thought, which was led by Nobel-winning Milton Friedman. Their free market school of thought is, unfortunately, based on complex models that include assumptions that human beings will always react in predictable and rational ways. Recent events have demonstrated that to be a faulty assumption – even Allen Greenspan has admitted that he never imagined that human beings could act in such self-serving ways. Behavioral economists are building a more realistic model, based on the fact that human beings often respond irrationally and unpredictably. In addition to advancing the discipline of economics, the information here is of great benefit to marketers interested in gaining more understanding of their customers.
- Leonard Mlodinow
Most of us have a tendency to think of events in our lives as being subject to clear cause and effect, but oftentimes there’s a great deal of chance involved. Mlodinow, a professor at CalTech, theorizes that our lives are profoundly affected by randomness, change, and probability, and he provides insights that are useful for marketers seeking to understand their audience. While he has more of an academic focus than Ariely, his basic thoughts are similar. He deals more through the vantage point of probability and statistics, which can be a little hard to follow at times. Probability, which tries to measure the odds of the outcome of an event, is often counter-intuitive, but always interesting. Statistics, which measures an outcome of an event, is easier to follow. This is a great book for marketers – and it has a very cool cover, even better than “Made to Stick”!