Ideally, your marketing budget would have a lot of wiggle room - allowing you to pursue both SEO and Google Ads. Many small businesses find that this is just not feasible, leaving them with an either/or scenario. So, instead of putting you in a position of feeling guilty for not being able to provide the best of both worlds, we are going to give you the knowledge you need to choose the best one for your business. 

SEO: What Is It? 

SEO stands for search engine optimization. In the vast world of digital marketing, this term is heard everywhere. Though it makes sense since being found via search engines is vital for nearly all businesses. 

Whenever you build a website, Google will, on its own, find it and index it without you having to do anything to optimize it. Here’s the thing, though - just because your website is indexed doesn’t mean it will show up for the searches you want it to. Let’s take a look at an example. 

Construction crews often vary their services based on the season. For instance, during the winter months, they may offer snow removal services. If their website only mentions construction and not snow removal, then it isn’t likely to show up when someone searches for snow removal in their town. This is still true even if snow removal is mentioned, but done so only briefly. It may very well show up in search engine results, but it will likely be somewhere after the first few pages. However, by creating a specific service page outlining the specifics of the snow removal services, there will be a greater chance of ranking higher in the search results. This is known as on-page optimization. 

If another construction company offers the same sort of snow removal services, they may have added backlinks to the local chamber of commerce, newspaper, or other local government offices. When it comes down to ranking two similar sites, Google will prioritize those websites that have backlinks from trustworthy sources - as well as those with business profiles on Google. This is known as off-page optimization. 

Certain technical key points also play a role in how a website is ranked. Google wants high-ranking websites to be safe, easy to use, quick to load, and free of errors. 

All in all, SEO’s goal is to optimize your web presence so that you can rank well with Google. Unfortunately, you can’t control the search engine’s algorithms and rankings - and that means there are no guarantees that your SEO efforts will work. But, by knowing the main factors Google looks for in a website and combining it with SEO best practices, you can increase your chance of ranking high. 

What are Google Ads? 

Depending on how long you’ve been following digital marketing, Google Ads used to be called AdWords. They are a means of getting around SEO, rankings, algorithms, etc., and have your business ranked at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs). Does this just happen? No. You have to pay to get there. 

Google search ads allow you to target a very specific audience and their search queries. The result is that you drive qualified and relevant traffic directly to your site. Google places these paid ad placements both above and below the organic search results. They appear similar with the only significant difference being that they are labeled as “ads.” 

Before you get too excited, there are a couple of catches. For one, you must bid on keywords. This means you are not always guaranteed that top spot on the first page of SERPs - a competitor may outbid you. Also, Google will assign an Ad Quality Score for each ad. This score, as well as your bid, will determine where your ad will end up on the page. 

SEO and GoogleAds: What’s the Difference?

By now, you can probably tell that both SEO and Google Ads serve their own purpose - and can work very well together. Google Ads can give you fast results while SEO builds long-term success. But if putting them to work together isn’t an option, then we need to break down the pros and cons of each. 

The Pros of SEO

More Cost-Effective: SEO costs less than Google Ads, and its effects have longevity. 

Steady Traffic: If you take the time to invest in SEO and quality content, you will likely always have a source of traffic to your website. 

Larger Potential Audience: The number of people who click on organic search results rather than ads is significantly higher. So, in that way, SEO gives you a larger target audience.

Build Trust with Consumers: Those ranking high in organic results are seen as being more trustworthy by consumers. 

Consider it an Asset: The effort you put into your SEO is an asset that can grow. The more you invest in your SEO, the higher your rankings - and the more it will drive traffic to your website and lead to conversions. 

The Cons of SEO

Results Can Be Slow: SEO doesn’t happen overnight - it takes time. 

Limits on Local SEO: You are limited by proximity regardless of the size area you serve.  

Limited Control: Google is always changing their algorithms. And, opting for SEO means this is something you’re going to have to deal with. 

The Pros of Google Ads

Quick Results: It is no secret - Google Ads yields faster results – that is, as long as you make large enough bids. 

Tracking and Metrics: Because you are paying for Google Ads, Google gives you all sorts of easily accessible tools to use for tracking and metrics.

Target Your Ideal Customer: With Google Ads you are bound to get precise targeting for your audience.

Expand Your Reach: By advertising,  you can expand your visibility for more search terms, including keywords that you may not be ranking for organically. So in this way, Google Ads also increases your reach. 

The Cons of Google Ads

Costly in Competitive Markets: Depending on your niche, you may find that pay-per-click costs are too high to make your campaigns profitable. 

Little Long-Term Value: Google Ads do not create value for your business over time. Once you stop paying for it, the benefit ends - and traffic to your site comes to a halt. 

SEO and Google Ads: Pick One

Remember, it will take a long time to see results from SEO, but the results will continue to be valuable to you for a much longer period. SEO is most often recommended as the go-to digital marketing channel for those with a smaller budget, an established business, and who don’t require fast results. Meanwhile, we recommend emphasizing Google Ads for newer businesses looking for sales, leads, and fast results -- and who don’t have the patience for the fruits of SEO labor to develop. 

If you have the budget, both SEO and Google Ads work well together. Consider using your Google Ads to uncover the best keywords with the highest conversions - and then focus your SEO efforts on these keywords. 

Want Help with Digital Marketing?

If you are interested in learning how your business can benefit from these digital marketing tools, contact us today.

If you’re running a local business, you know how important it is to be visible on the search engine results pages (SERPs). But what you may not know is that data aggregators are a critical part of local SEO.

Data aggregators are companies that collect, distribute, and sometimes sell business listings and consumer data, depending on their business model. They’re also used by search engines to populate local search results and by consumers to find local businesses.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at data aggregators and why they’re so important for local SEO. We’ll also give you some tips on how to make sure you get the best results from using a data aggregator.

What Is a Data Aggregator?

A data aggregator is a business that collects user or business data from various sources and repackages or distributes it in useful ways. Data aggregators are also known as data brokers or data resellers.

A data broker gathers information from social media sites like Instagram and Facebook, review sites like FourSquare and Yelp, and local business listings like YellowBook and NextDoor. Small businesses obtain user-generated content from data aggregator databases for marketing purposes and campaign decisions, as these databases are organized in a way that makes it easy to locate specific information.

A local data aggregator, or LDA, is the type of aggregator that takes information from one business and distributes it across hundreds or thousands of websites. LDAs charge small businesses a fee to create citations for their business. 

Why Is Data Aggregation Useful?

Data aggregation is useful from the local SEO perspective because it allows businesses to spend their time and money more efficiently. Creating citations for your company and Google My Business profile takes hours, if not weeks, without the right tools. Manually submitting your business’s information to local business directories can take 15 to 20 minutes per submission. 

By using an LDA, businesses can improve their search result rankings much faster for a fraction of the cost. An LDA will automatically submit small business information to various websites within a few business days. This frees up business owners and their employees to sell to more customers or improve products and services.

How Do Local SEO Data Aggregators Work?

Understanding how local SEO data aggregators work starts with understanding what information they need to do their job. Local SEO listings include a lot of data, but primary data points are:

There are two main types of data aggregators: centralized and distributed. Centralized data aggregators collect and analyze all the local SEO data from review sites, social media platforms, and other websites in one place. Distributed data aggregators collect and analyze local SEO data and store it in peer-to-peer (P2P) networks or other locations. 

Centralized data aggregators are more robust than distributed ones. They can store vast amounts of information, which makes it easier for them to aggregate vast quantities of information.

Distributed data aggregators are more granular and flexible, making it easier for them to pick up on small changes in a geographic area in real time. When choosing a centralized or distributed data aggregator, make sure that you consider whether you need robustness or flexibility in a system.

Both types of data aggregation structures are used to disseminate information about your business to relevant directories and review websites. Keeping your business information consistent throughout submissions is the most important factor in working with any data aggregator. 

What Are the Biggest Benefits of Local SEO Data Aggregation?

Local data aggregation helps small businesses with SEO because it allows them to quickly and efficiently publish their most up-to-date info across hundreds or thousands of websites. This gives them more time, money, and energy to focus on bigger priorities in their business.

Using an LDA also enables businesses to make more informed decisions about pricing and marketing, as the process of gathering competitive intelligence becomes easier once a business is ranking higher.

Utilizing local SEO data aggregation shortens the time it takes to build a local presence. When you’re doing everything yourself, including SEO tasks, it will take weeks upon weeks. When you hire third-party services to handle manual tasks like citation creation for you, you aren't bogged down by important, but less urgent business needs. 

Local SEO data aggregation also provides insight into the latest movements of search engine algorithms, which can be helpful when optimizing site content, structure, and URLs.

How to Work With Local Data Aggregators

Working with local data aggregators is pretty easy overall; it’s primarily a matter of having your informational ducks in a row. Here’s what to do:

The Bottom Line

Using an LDA is an excellent way to make a large SEO difference for your small business in a short amount of time. As your business achieves higher local search result rankings, you’ll have a clearer line of sight toward your competitors. 

Review each local data aggregator's privacy policy in its entirety before deciding whether or not to work with them, as well as whether or not they follow standard verification procedures in the data brokerage industry. Through local SEO data aggregation efforts, you'll be able to reach the audiences you desire much sooner and at a lower cost than with blanket or strictly manual marketing approaches.

Choosing a web design company is an important step for any business or individual who wants to set up a website. Afterall, online presence is important, so you need to create an attractive and easy to navigate website. But how do you choose the right firm to create a new site or help update an existing one?

Research Pays Off

Start with online searches to find web design companies and ask your peers for references. You can also make a list of websites you like, both as examples and to find out who constructed these sites that appeal to you the most.

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, research the company or companies to uncover their reputation and expertise. See how long they’ve been in business, and what skills they have in regard to development, SEO, and marketing.

A good way to do this is to check for reviews and testimonials, both on the company’s own site, and Yelp, Google, Facebook and other resources for reviews. 

Ask for a Portfolio

Along with looking at each web company’s own website, explore their portfolio so you can view samples of their work. Are they professional? Simple to use? Do the sites the company has developed fit well with the kind of function and approach that you’d like for yourself?

And it’s also important to see the range of the company’s work. Are the designs unique for each website, or do they appear to have been built from a template? 

Make a List of Your Website “Must Haves”

Decide on your basic requirements and make a list of what these are. Knowing your “must haves” will make it easier to choose the web design company that suits you best. 

Examples include experience with WordPress, logo design, hosting, and specifics that you might need such as online payment or online registration options. 

Know Your Time and Budget 

Being aware of your own time frame and budget will also help in choosing a web design firm. If a company’s services are too expensive to fit your cost parameters, then you should not choose that resource. And if a company takes many months to create work you needed yesterday, then another choice is also in order. 

Establish both a timeline and budget for your web design needs. If you have a hard and fast deadline, such as a new product launch or company location, be sure to express that to the web design company in advance, to make sure there are no questions about delays.

Evaluate Web Design Companies as Long-term Partner

Interact with the web design company to find the right fit for you and your business. Make sure that their personality as well as their skills fits your needs. Chances are you’ll be entering a long-term relationship with a web design company, so make sure it’s the right relationship for you.

Ready to Learn More about Web Design from Let It Be Local?

If you’re ready to learn more about the capabilities we offer, reach out to us today! Whether you have a specific project in mind, or just want to talk about the design services we provide, we’re ready to help. 

SEO, or search engine optimization, refers to efforts made to improve the visibility of your website in the search engines, and it's an absolute must if you want to ensure your business stays competitive online. And while Google has made its ranking algorithms harder to crack than ever, there are still plenty of improvements you can make right away to help your site rank higher and drive more traffic. 

Here are five tips you can use right now to improve your visibility and lay a foundation for SEO success. 

1) Do Keyword Research

Before diving into SEO, you need to do keyword research. Keywords are words or phrases people use to search for products, services, or information online. 

The first step is to figure out what your business does—we'll call it Service Business 101. Next, you want to understand which words your target audience will likely type into a search engine when looking for these core keywords for your products or services. 

To do keyword research, you'll need to figure out what you do, who you serve, what they want, and how they talk about it online. You can start by browsing through sites like Quora where people are asking questions in forums related to your business. Read these posts and see if you can discover new keyword opportunities. Just make sure not to steal these ideas – use them as inspiration for your unique content!

Our favorite free keyword research tool is UberSuggest and our favorite paid keyword research tools are Ahrefs and SEMrush

2) Optimize Page Titles

Optimizing page titles is an essential SEO best practice. The purpose of a title tag is to inform search engines about the topic of your web page. When you enter specific keywords into your website's title tag, you tell search engines exactly what your page is about. You can think of a title tag as like the chapter title in a book’s table of contents – it gives the reader an idea of the topic of the chapter. 

The keywords contained in your title tag are essential for several reasons. First, search engines use these words to find your web page. These words are also visible in search engine results pages (SERPs), so optimizing them can help you stand out from other search engine result listings and improve your click through rate (CTR). And of course, title tags help Google determine where your web page should be ranked within its search engine results pages. By incorporating the right keywords in your title tags, you can give your pages a better chance of ranking on the first page of Google searches. 

3) Use Lengthy, Specific Meta Descriptions

The first search result always has a large share of clicks. You must write meta descriptions that match your target audience's needs. Make sure your descriptions are long enough (about 100-155 characters or more) and specific, with relevant terms included. Most importantly, use natural language; Google is smart enough to detect keyword stuffing in meta descriptions for SEO purposes, so don't overdo it. 

Tip: Tip of your title tag as like a headline and your meta description as like the ad copy that “sells the click” and helps persuade the searcher to click on your listing. 

4) Create and Optimize Your Google Business Profile

For local businesses, it’s critical to create and optimize a Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business profile, or GMB).  

Why is a local focus so important? According to Google:

Here are some tips to get you started: 

Plus, you’ll also want to request reviews from your customers, clients and patients on an ongoing basis. And, of course, make sure to create and optimize separate Google profiles for each of your business locations

There are many more tips that we could provide for Google profile optimization, but this will get you started. Contact us if you require assistance with Local SEO services

5) Build Citations and Links

Next, it’s critical that you build citations and links to give your business credibility in Google’s eyes. 

What are citations? Citations are mentions of your company’s “NAP” - and the more citations you have, the more trust Google will have that your business is established and trustworthy. 

What are links? Links are hyperlinks from one website to another website. Google considers links to be like votes in favor of your website’s authority. The more links you have from high-quality, relevant websites, the more likely Google is to rank your website at the top of the search results. 

The best way to build a foundation of citations and links is to get your business listed in dozens of reputable, relevant directories. You’ll want to get listed in 3 types of directories: 

And again, it’s important to make sure that you use your real business name in your listings and keep your NAP consistent. 

Need SEO Help?

If you are ready to improve your SEO, try some of these easy-to-implement steps and watch your traffic grow. If you need help implementing any SEO best practices, contact us today!

The New Year is the perfect time to improve your business’s local visibility and rankings on Google. So, before the opportunity passes you by, take the time now to follow these simple steps for boosting your visibility on the world’s leading search engine. Here are 8 Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) updates you should make early this year. 

1. Audit the Basics

Conduct a quick audit of the basic information on each of your Business Profile pages. Confirm your location(s) are correct, your phone number is correct, and website links are functional. Keep in mind that Google invites users to report misinformation, which unfortunately can lead to your basic info being changed without you realizing it. So take thirty minutes or less to confirm that each of your business listings has accurate contact and location information.

2. Optimize Product or Service Descriptions

If you’re offering new products on your website, be sure that they are also included in your Google Business Profile. Best practices for optimizing product descriptions include information on shipping estimates, benefits the product or service offers the consumer, photos of products.

 The same goes for updating new services offered. A law firm for example, that has expanded into different practice areas, should update the services to include these new areas of practice.

3. Update Images

Add some new photos to your Business Profile in the New Year, to get your phone ringing or more requests for directions. Studies have shown that business profiles that have at least 100 images get at least 500% more phone calls than those with fewer images. Likewise, businesses that have more than 100 photos get 2700% more requests for directions. 

4. Create Your Own Q&As

Answering frequently asked questions is a great way to help consumers understand your business better. Think of common questions you receive as the owner, or while working in your store or office and then ask them in Google. Then, log into your business profile and answer the questions. This not only helps your customers but can also increase your visibility and ranking, by allowing you to add keywords in your answers. 

5. Begin Using Google Post

Google posts are widely underused, but they can be incredibly helpful in showing up in local panels in Google Search and Google Maps. In the New Year, you can use posts to promote new products, announce new services, acknowledge your top talent, share awards you’ve received, and much more. Photos, videos, and branded content graphics can all be shared in a post.

6. Add Attributes

Attributes give consumers detailed information about your store or business. Attributes can include everything from COVID-19 precautions to ownership information, to accessibility features at your location(s). Take advantage of the opportunity to share as much about your business as you can, with attributes.

7. Read and Respond to All Messages and Reviews  

It is incredibly important for rankings and visibility that you acknowledge all reviews promptly. A favorable review warrants a thank you reply. A negative review should also be acknowledged and responded to professionally. If you’ve been lax in responding to messages, the New Year presents the perfect opportunity to focus on replying promptly.

8. Update Hours and Holiday Information

If your hours have changed since the holidays, be sure that your current hours and closures are accurate. Likewise, if you know you’ll be closed for upcoming holidays such as Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, etc., schedule those hours now using the “special hours” feature.

Get Help With Your Search Engine Visibility and Ranking

If you need help getting your business to show up and rank locally contact Let It Be Local today. Let It Be Local provides SEO services, as well as Google Ads, social media, and web design with a focus on locally-focused small businesses.  

Geofencing is one of the newest targeting methods for digital marketing. While most small businesses who advertise online are familiar with targeting potential customers via demographics, interests, and zip code, geofencing takes things a step further by allowing you to target people based on their current location. Here’s what you need to know about geofencing and how it can support your local marketing efforts.

How Geofencing Works

Geofencing works by using a smartphone’s beacon technology, GPS, radio frequency identifiers, and/or Bluetooth to trigger an ad or push notification when the device enters a virtual boundary, or geofence, drawn around a certain location.

If you own a coffee shop, you might set up a geofence within a mile radius of your location, so people nearby can receive notifications or view ads offering them a discount or promoting a new latte. The idea is that because people are in the area, they’re more likely to stop by and take advantage of what you’re offering. 

Geofencing can be used in a number of different ways, but for marketing purposes, it’s used for:

Benefits of Geofencing

There are a number of reasons to consider using geofencing for local marketing:

Expand Your Advertising Reach

If you’re only using Google Ads or Facebook Ads, you’re missing out on the opportunity to get your message in front of more prospective customers.  For example, a landscaping company or a plumber could target nearby home improvement or hardware stores to get in front of customers who may not be actively searching in Google.  This is an opportunity to introduce your business without the distraction of other competitor ads.

Improved ROI

You can use geofencing to target individuals who are likely to visit your business or use your services. When paired with other types of targeting, you can pinpoint exactly who sees your ads, optimizing your return on investment.

Track In-Person Visits

With other types of ads, you’d typically measure phone calls or contact form submissions.  However, not all of those actions result in people visiting your office or store. Geofencing is unique because you measure actual in-person visits -- the technology uses your office or store as the conversion zone.  As a result, you’ll know exactly how many customers visited after viewing or clicking on your ads.

Examples of Geofencing for Local Businesses

Here are some examples of how local businesses are using geofencing in their digital marketing:

The most effective geofencing campaigns combine location targeting with demographic targeting to create laser-focused advertising that gets results.

Learn More About Geofencing for Local Businesses

Let It Be Local can help you get started with geofencing for your digital marketing. Contact us today to learn how we can help you generate more leads and stay ahead of the competition.

Call 203-979-4013 to learn more.

It doesn’t seem all that long ago that we all felt like COVID-19 was in the rearview mirror, but the rise of the Delta variant has many of us donning masks again and heeding social distancing guidelines. Setting aside how you feel about these precautions personally, from a business standpoint, it’s important to make sure your customers know what to expect when they visit you. 

Local Profiles and COVID-19 Protocols

Luckily, there’s a simple way to do this: update your local profiles. We’re assuming you’re already active on Yelp, Google My Business, and Bing Places (and if you’re not, you should be!), so all you need to do is log into your accounts and use their built-in features to share updates about your business operations during COVID-19.

Updating COVID-19 Protocols on Yelp

Yelp profiles allow you a number of options for displaying your COVID-19 protocols. You can let customers know whether or not you’re open. If you are open for business, you can list virtual consultations as an option, then check any additional safety measures your business is taking. Options include:

You can also add a banner message at the top of your Yelp page to communicate important messaging to customers or clients.

Updating COVID-19 Protocols on Google My Business

Google offers robust options for sharing COVID-19 protocol updates. Select the COVID-19 Update option in posts to create a message about your current business operations, then go to Health and Safety and select from the following options:

Updating COVID-19 Protocols on Bing Places

On Bing Places, you’ll find a COVID-19 Related Announcements option listed prominently when you log into your account. Enter the information you want to share, add a link to your website for more details, and set a timeframe for your announcement if you have a start and end date in mind.

Why It Matters

As the Delta variant hits the US hard, more Americans are going to return to making decisions about which businesses to patronize (or not) based on their COVID-19 protocols. If this winter is a repeat of last year’s, it’s time to start preparing now. 

In addition, by making sure people know what to expect before visiting your business, you can prevent potential conflicts over mask wearing and social distancing, alleviating some of the burden on your staff to enforce your guidelines. 

Learn More About Navigating COVID-19 With Let It Be - Local

If your business is feeling the effects of COVID-19, smart messaging and digital marketing can help you get back on your feet again. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

If you run a small business, it can feel like keeping up with the latest in SEO and social media trends is an endless task. As soon as you have a handle on optimizing your website, an algorithm update changes everything; your Facebook posts are getting good engagement, then suddenly, it drops off a cliff and you can’t figure out why. Now, Google My Business has added another new feature to the mix—the ability to create posts from your account.

Below, we’ll go over where Google My Business fits into your local SEO efforts and the importance of GMB posts for small business owners.

What Is Google My Business?

Google My Business is a feature Google offers local businesses that allows them to manage their own Google Maps and Google Search presence. Assuming you own or run marketing for a small business if you’re reading this, you should know that local search is the front door to any SEO strategy; if you’re not active on Google My Business, it’s time to get started. 

If you don’t use GMB, Google decides what information it will share with its users about your business—and it may not always be accurate. Being active on GMB gives you the opportunity to take charge of your own information. You can make sure your address, business hours, and other critical information is correct, ensuring that potential customers or clients are able to connect with you.

What Are Google My Business Posts?

While Google My Business began as a means of sharing the nuts-and-bolts information about a business, it’s evolving into a marketing platform, giving local businesses the option of sharing updates via GMB posts. General updates, CV-19 announcements, special offers, and more are available to help drive additional search traffic to your business’s website.

Here’s what a GMB post looks like: 

If we were to compare Google My Business posts to another social media platform, we’d say they’re most like Facebook updates, as you can include text, images, video, and links to share your latest blog posts, promotions, or news. The two are so similar, in fact, that we recommend simply repurposing your Facebook posts for GMB if you don’t have the time or budget to create dedicated GMB posts. Aim to share a post on GMB at least once a week.

How to Use Google My Business Posts for Your Small Business

Just like with Facebook, your GMB posts should have at least one image attached to them, along with text that engages your audience and encourages them to contribute to the conversation. GMB posts are perfect for sharing upcoming events, offers or discounts, hour updates, and new products or services. Here are some quick tips to get you started:

Right now, we’re observing that the optimization of Google My Business profiles is the number one ranking factor for local businesses. As with everything related to Google, there’s no disclosure about whether and how GMB posts factor into local search rankings, but we do know people will see them when they search for your business. GMB posts give you the control to share what you want potential customers or clients to know about your business at the precise moment that they are searching for what you have to offer.

Learn How We Can Help Manage Your GMB Presence

If you’re struggling to keep up with Google My Business posts, our team of local search experts can help. Contact us today at 203-979-4013 to find out more about our SEO services in southeastern CT.

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