Why should you care about the Top 3 Ways? According to the Pareto Principle 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes (i.e. 80% of your results will come from 20% of your actions). As is often the case, sometimes the most obvious solutions are also the most valuable ones. These “3 Ways” represent that top 20% that will get huge results for you and your business…
Step #1: Search Engine Optimization
You need to do proper search engine optimization (SEO) if you want your website to rank well in the search engines. When doing SEO you need to pay attention not only to on site factors such as page names, title and description meta tags, but also off site factors like the quality of inbound links to your website or the amount of business citations you have.
The following steps are some of the quickest, easiest & most effective ways to improve your search engine optimization…
Create a WordPress Website: If you don’t already have one, you should build a WordPress website. WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that allows you to easily post and make changes to your website from any computer with an internet connection.
WordPress is also very search engine friendly and will allow your website content to be easily found online. The WordPress CMS is free, however, all websites require at least a domain name and hosting which will cost you a nominal amount each year. Visit: WordPress.org for more information.
Install Google Analytics: Install or verify that Google Analytics has been properly installed on your website. Google Analytics will allow you to track things like how many new & repeat visitors are visiting your site, exact search queries people are typing to arrive at your site, and things like how long people are staying on a page before they leave (bounce rate).
Visit: Google.com/analytics for more information.
A major part of creating these website pages is doing search engine optimization on each page. Every page on your website needs to be properly optimized to get maximum search engine visibility…
Create Specific Product or Service Pages: One way to improve your SEO and increase traffic to your website is by creating specific pages for the services you offer. So instead of having just one services page which lists all your different services, you will instead have a specific page for each and every service.
So if you are a cosmetic surgeon in Dallas and have a specific services page about Rhinoplasty (nose job), then a potential client searching online for “nose job Dallas TX” would be more likely to find you as a result of seeing your Rhinoplasty page in the search results.
Each page on your website needs to target one specific keyword which increases the likelihood of it being displayed on page one of the search results. On the flipside it is highly unlikely that a “Services” page containing Rhinoplasty as just one of many services on the page, would ever show up prominently in the search results.
Create More Fresh Content: Another great way to improve your SEO is by creating more fresh content on your website, more often. This is most easily done by adding a blog to your site. Your site should have at least 2 or 3 new blog posts per month – the more the better.
Think of it this way, every relevant article you post to your blog is like having an advertisement that shows up on the search engines, an advertisement that will draw people to you and your business… forever. You can write your own blog posts if you choose, however, I wouldn’t recommend it. You’ve got better thing to do with your time.
This work should mostly be outsourced. You can easily get great writers on Elance.com or Odesk.com, some who even have their Masters degrees and in some cases their PhD’s. You may even be able to find writers who specialize in your specific niche. And the cost is nominal, usually between 1 and 2 cents per word for most projects.
So let’s say you‘re able to post a new article to your blog each week. Those articles, which may cost you $25-$50 each, will end up costing you about $2,500 for the year. The additional search engine traffic generated from these 52 blog posts may double or even triple your new patient acquisitions.
If you consider what the lifetime value of a new patient is to your practice, you could easily be getting a 10x return on your investment. And don’t forget, content posted to your website is evergreen. It will continue to generate search engine traffic for years to come.
Install the WordPress SEO Plugin: If you have a WordPress website, one tool that will help you do on-page SEO is the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast. This plugin will, among other things, check to see that your #1 keyword is in you pages title tag, description tag and header tags. It will also check how many times the keyword is in the body copy. Visit Yoast.com for more info.
Ad Title Tag: If you were to create a Rhinoplasty page, the title meta tag should be something like “Rhinoplasty – West Hartford Cosmetic Surgery.” Your title tag tells people, and the search engines, what the page is about. Your title will also be the main hypertext link you see in the search engine results pages (SERPS). Visit Moz.com for more information.
Add Description Tag: Another important meta tag you need to create for each page is the description tag. When your page shows up in the search results your description will usually show up just beneath the pages title link.
Though a well written description tag probably won’t help the page get ranked any higher in the search results, it will help you better describe exactly what that page is about to those searchers. Remember, some of these searchers may become site visitors, and some of those visitors may become customers, so take care when creating your descriptions. Visit Moz.com for more information.
Submitting your business to online directories is a simple yet powerful way to increase traffic to your website. By creating these listings or “citations”, you allow your business to easily be seen when someone is searching for a solution to their problem on search engines like Google. Also, in many cases these business listings will actually show up higher than your website will in the search results.
Create Google+ Business Page: The most important of all business directories is Google+. If you have not done so already, you really should create and optimize your Google+ Business Page also known as “Google My Business.” By creating this listing you allow your business to easily be seen when someone is searching for your products or services on Google.
If you’ve set up your Google+ page and a potential customer in you city were searching for your products or services, Google will display your business contact info and a link to your business’s Google+ page prominently, often on page one, along with other local businesses.
Google will rank your listing based on, among other things, how close the customer is to your business location and how closely your products & services match the keywords that person used in the search.
But one big thing most businesses miss after setting up their Google+ page is reviews, you need 5 star reviews. Imagine if a potential customer of yours was searching for your products or services on Google. After running the search they are presented with 7 of your local competitors on page #1. And let’s say none of your competition have any reviews but your business listing has ten 5 star reviews. Which company are they going to trust more? Which company are they going to call? …Yours.
Depending on the type of business and its location, a properly optimized Google+ listing may alone account for as much as 30-70% of your website traffic and as a result, a huge chunk of your business revenues overall. Visit Google.com to learn more.
Create Yelp Business Listing: As important as a Google+ page is, or maybe even more important for some, is a well-managed Yelp Business Listing. There are literally thousands of directories where you can list your business online, however due to Yelp’s popularity they consistently rank very high in the search results. If you can create and effectively manage your Yelp listing and get lots of 5 star reviews from loyal customers, you will absolutely crush the competition.
After creating your Yelp listing you will literally have customers calling you up every day excited to tell you that they found your business & saw your great reviews on Yelp. But again, getting those 5 star reviews is the key to getting big results on Yelp. Visit http://www.yelp.com for more information.
Use Moz Local to Check & Build Citations: In addition to your Google+ and Yelp business listings, you need to create even more listings or “citations” to increase your online footprint and get more traffic to your website. It’s fairly easy to post your business on these directories and should take no more than 5-10 minutes per site. You could even have an administrative assistant do it, or hire someone on Fiverr.com. You may be asking yourself “so what exactly is a citation?” Citations are nothing more than mentions of your business name & address online.
You may have posted your business information in an online directory, or someone could have referenced your business’s name, address and phone (NAP) in a blog or forum post. In any case, these references to your business are all considered citations. The more high quality citations you have online, the more authority your business & website will have with regard to search engine rankings. The most common way to get these citations is by creating online business listings.
When building citations, to avoid potential confusion by search engines, as well as your customers, you need to post your business information exactly the same way on each directory. So if your business is located at 123 Main Street #110, don’t carelessly type “office 110” or “Suite 110.” Be consistent and use the exact same format on every site. So do your existing citations match the name, address and phone number on your Google+ business page? If not, they need to be updated to match your #1 business listing, your Google+ page.
You can check your listings for data consistency at Moz.com/local (formerly GetListed.org) to see if all your business data matches up between the major local directories. Simply go to Moz.com/local and enter your business name and phone number. Moz will then show you how your business listings appears in top directories like Google+, Yelp and SuperPages, as well as data aggregators like Factual.
Data aggregators will share your business information with hundreds or even thousands of other websites that wish to display your business info on their sites. So creating business profiles within these data aggregators alone will greatly increase your “online footprint with limited work on your part.
Moz Local has a paid service which allows you to monitor your listings for a yearly fee. However there is really no need to use the paid version, just use the free version, it gives you almost all the same features as the paid version, you just need to enter your business name & zip code each time to run the report.
Visit https://moz.com/local for more information.
Find Even More Citations with Yext: Yext will provide a larger list of general online directories than Moz Local will. You should check to see how your business listings show up with Yext, then work on submitting or updating your business listings starting with the first one shown. But be forewarned, Yext goes out of their way to show many errors between these listings. Their goal is to make you a customer then charge you a yearly fee, so they have a vested interest in painting an ugly picture of your business with regard to your citations. Don’t sign up for their service, just use the results they give you as a guide to help you build more relevant citations. Visit http://www.yext.com/ for more information.
Outsource Your Citation Building: It’s important to have your business listed not only in large general directories like Google+, Yelp, Yahoo and Bing, but also in directories specific to your businesses niche.
Whitespark has a great citation finder tool to discover all those places where your business should appear online. Whitespark chooses these authoritative sites based on, among other things, how many of your competitors also have citations from these sites. Whitespark will also hand submit your business to general directories for $4.00 and to niche specific directories for $5.00 per submission.
BrightLocal is another company that has some great local SEO tools. BrightLocal also have a slightly less expensive submission service called CitationBurst that costs $2 – $3 per submission depending on your volume.
Visit http://www.whitespark.ca or http://www.brightlocal.com for more information.
Reverse Engineer Your Competition With Google: In addition to the general directory listings you have created based on the Moz Local and Yext recommendations, there are still many other general and niche specific directories where you could submit your business. So how do you find the best directories to submit your business to? Reverse engineer your top competition.
To find out what directories your competition is listed on. Do a Google search for:
“business name” AND “zip code” – site:http://www.competitorsdomain.com
So it would look something like:
“the great handyman” AND “06119” – site:http:www.thegreathandyman.com
This will give you most of the places online where your competitions business listings & citations occur. Try to create your own citations on most if not all of these sites starting with the search results on page 1. A good way to keep track of all these potential citation building opportunities is to create a spreadsheet of them. So each time you create a citation at one of these sites, you can check it off on the spreadsheet then move on to the next one on the list.
Step #2: Nurture & Engage With Your Customers
Build a 5 Star Reputation: Let’s say you were looking for a dentist online then did a search on Google and found 7 local dentists. Of those dentists, four of them had no reviews, two others had poor reviews of 2-3 stars, and one had ten 5 star reviews, which one would you call? The one with the 5 star reputation of course!
The best way to get reviews is simply to ask. Seek out your most loyal customers and ask them to leave a review on Google or Yelp. You could also offer some sort of incentive, such as 10% off their next visit or purchase if they leave a review.
Here’s an example of some incentive cards:
When you see negative content or reviews about your business online, it’s important that you act quickly. There is a saying, “Silence is consent.” Many sites such as Yelp let the business owner respond to the reviews. The longer you wait to respond, the more potential customers see the negative review and believe it’s a true representation of your business.
Your goal in handling an upset customer should be threefold:
a) The customer may turn from upset, to satisfied.
b) They may post positive things about you and rebut or remove their negative remarks.
c) You may learn something helpful about your business that will improve it and help to avoid negative reviews in the future.
But is the Criticism Legitimate or Fake? Unfortunately, there is a small subset of people online who think it’s fun to leave bad reviews about businesses. If you find this to be the case, resist the urge to respond in anger. Instead, demonstrating concern and wanting to discuss the specifics of their encounter will go a long way towards showing other potential customers that you are interested in their feedback and want to improve the situation.
Empathy is a powerful tool, and being sincerely concerned with their bad experience is a trait that every business owner should have.
In the case where you’re dealing with someone who simply wants to hurt you, be very selective with your response. If the insult is small, a simple apology will do. As the insults escalate, you must be careful with your reply. Sometimes, the customer is clearly wrong because they expect too much for too little. Fight the urge to call them unreasonable. Instead, say something like this:
“We are very sorry you feel that way and will do everything within reason to resolve this. If you will contact us, we would like to work together to find a solution.”
If the complaint was legitimate, they may contact you. If they are simply being obnoxious, you will likely never hear from them, but at least you were professional in your reply and those who read the review will hopefully see that you were trying to be helpful and address the situation directly. Be transparent and honest. Under no circumstances write fake reviews or ask your family, or worse, employees to write reviews for you.
But please don’t underestimate the importance of getting good reviews from your customers, it may be the single most important thing you do for your business.
Nurture Your Existing Customers: One of the easiest ways to get more clients is by nurturing your existing ones. Let’s say Dr. Lee, a Dermatologist, has a 65 year old patient Jennifer, who gets a checkup for Melanoma once every year. Jennifer’s husband James, however, has never been checked.
After Jennifer’s routine yearly exam, the doctor then sends her out a helpful article about Melanoma in addition to some “50% OFF new client coupons” which she can give to friends and family. Jennifer gives coupons to two of her friends and gives one to her husband James. James gets his first exam and fortunately the exam goes well, he appears to be 100% healthy.
After James’ exam both Jennifer and James now have more peace of mind, and Dr. Lee, as a result of following up & nurturing his client, has gained 3 new clients. Client nurturing can be done via direct mail, email, or even by phone. You can also nurture your clients by sending out a monthly newsletter or survey them via email regarding their level of satisfaction with your services. But the main thing is consistency, make a habit of touching base with your clients at least every 3 months and don’t be afraid to ask for referrals!
Engage With Hootsuite: In this “age of the internet” it’s very important to monitor your reputation online. Hootsuite makes it easy to discover comments & reviews about your business online instantly. There are many services that can monitor social media mentions of your business on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, but Hootsuite allows you to monitor them all and also publish directly to these sites straight from within Hootsuite.
So if a customer were to write a positive review about your business online, that would be a great time to thank them for their patronage. If you have a Hootsuite account they will instantly send you a notification of this review via email and you can reply to your customers comment promptly. If on the other hand, an unhappy customer were to write about an unpleasant experience they had with your business, try to use this as an opportunity to engage with that customer. Show your sincere empathy regarding their problem, then, try to fix the problem or at least do your best to diffuse the situation.
To learn more about setting up using Hootsuite check out Steve Dotto’s Hootsuite Tutorial on YouTube.
Step #3: Do PPC on Search Engines & Facebook
Do Pay-Per-Click Ads the Right Way: Most businesses who try to set up a pay-per-click campaign fail. When creating a campaign, you need to do more than just send people to your website when your ad is clicked (which is what most businesses do). You need a plan.
To create a profitable campaign you need to:
a) Create a great offer, a reason for them to click on your ad. Make an irresistible lead magnet like a “Special Report” or a coupon for your services.
b) You need to capture your prospects email address when they arrive on your ads landing page (otherwise known as a squeeze page) so that you can follow up with them in the future. Remember, most client conversions happen with repeated follow up, and if you don’t capture their email address you are virtually throwing money away.
After the prospect has provided their email address on your landing page, you can then forward them to your lead magnet or send it to them via email. You can easily create great landing pages for your ads at LeadPages.net, or you can outsource the work to a professional on sites like oDesk.com or Elance.com.
c) Be sure to create two different ads for each offer, then split test those ads against each other (this can be easily done within your Adwords or Facebook advertiser control panels). The winning ad will be the one with the highest “click through rate” (which is the percentage of people who actually click on the ad).
The winner then becomes your “control” ad. Now it’s time to create a new ad to try to beat the control ads click through rate. By continually split testing your ads you can easily double or triple your campaign’s effectiveness, sometimes in as little as a few months.
You should also create at least 2 different offers and also split test those against each other. You may find that your “Special Report” converts into new clients much better than your coupon offer does. You may even eventually do away with your coupon offer all together because of its lackluster performance when compared with the “Special Report” offer. At that point you should create and split test a new offer against the Special Report control piece.
Moving forward, as your campaign becomes “seasoned” and continues to attract more clicks, you will benefit by receiving a lower cost per click. When your pay-per-click campaign becomes seasoned and continually receives high converting traffic in the form of clicks, your campaign will start building “authority”.
Google, Bing & Facebook reward this authority with a lower cost-per-click. So as your campaign runs, you end up paying less per click. And those clicks will have a better chance of turning into new customers since you are now sending those potential clients to your best converting offers.
These 3 steps work great for most businesses and are arguably some of the most effective ways to get more customers and increase your sales & profits.