Small business SEO is probably the last thing on your mind, we get it.

 

You started a business to do what you love but somehow along the way you end up doing well…  pretty much everything. You wear many hats – you are both the janitor and the CEO.

 

For your small business to succeed and you to actually start doing the things you love in the first place, you will also need to take on the role of a SEO or Search Engine Optimisation wizard.

 

But your main role is not in SEO, nor should it be. You have more important things to do.

 

This article is not intended to be the be-all end-all guide to SEO. SEO takes many years to master and there are already plenty of books and SEO blogs out there should you want to delve deeper.

 

What this article set out to do is to teach you the philosophy of small business seo. It highlights the fundamentals of good SEO and ideas on how to use it to beat your larger and more established competitors.

 

It is a guide intended for small business owners.

 

As many of you may guess, this article borrows on the principles of The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

 

A good summary can be found here.

 

The timeless principles of The Art of War are still relevant today as they were back in 500B.C and especially more so for small business SEO where you go up against larger, more established competitors.

 

art of small business SEO

 

What is Small Business SEO?

 

Truth be told, SEO cannot be classified into small business or large business. The techniques you used for both are identical in most cases.

 

The difference lies in the approach and mentality of small business SEO and not in its execution.

 

Much like guerilla warfare, small business SEO is about outwitting your larger competitors with unconventional methods.

 

Because let’s face it, you do not have the resources and money to go up against the established titans in your industry.

 

You need to know when to pick your fights, when to ask for help and when to walk away.

 

Before we delve deeper into these methods let’s first highlight what constitutes good SEO.

 

small business seo agency Sydney

 

What is Good SEO

Good SEO is something that the search engine approves of and are not designed to artificially temper with your rankings.

 

For Google, a good SEO plan adheres to Google Webmaster’s Guide.

 

While there are hundreds of metrics that rank SEO and some of them can get extremely technical, we will highlight the major 3 aspects that decide your ranking position on search engines. These are what every good SEO comprise of and they are:

 

Technical SEO

Technical SEO deals with the well, technical aspects of SEO. They often work in the background and you cannot see them. Things like page load speed, mobile responsiveness and on-page SEO are the fundamentals in good technical SEO.

 

Good technical on-page SEO will have ideal meta descriptions and accurate titles that describes your website and its pages.

 

Good Content

Good content is synonymous with good website ranking. Good content are unique and original but most importantly answers a searcher’s query.

 

Links

Links are to SEO what referrals and recommendations are in the real world. Internals links makes pages easier to track and index. Inbound links are powerful recommendations and outbound links lets search engines such as Google and Bing know what your page is about.

 

The essence of Small Business SEO should be a combination of online, offline and social activities and marketing methods along with the above.

 

Small Business SEO: The Fundamentals

Starting Small with Laser Precision

You do not want to compete head on with larger companies with huge marketing budgets. Instead of optimizing for ‘car sales’ for example, you may want to go for more specific terms such as ‘Blue Honda Civic”. This term won’t get as many enquiries as ‘car sales’ but that means you avoid competing with large companies that do.

 

Long tail Keywords

The above is an example of long tail keywords or key phrases with 3 or more words.

 

There are advantages to this:

  • Easier to rank for
  • More tailored to client intent so sale rates are higher
  • People who search for long tail keywords are often in the ‘ready to buy’ stage rather than researching stage

 

long tail keywords in SEO

 

Get Hyper Local

Your biggest competitors with their limitless budget will have already ranked for terms in the biggest cities across the country. Their shotgun approach also means you will be up against fierce competition.

 

Their aggressive marketing in big cities means they may leave the smaller cities wide open for you to exploit.

 

Instead of doing SEO for ‘plumbers in Sydney’ which everyone must be doing with 43,600,000  search results, why not instead go for ‘plumbers in north sydney’ ? The competition is cut by more than half but you are still getting plenty of business through it.

 

Leverage Google My Business

Since Google’s algorithm update on prioritising local businesses, Google My Business has played an essential role in getting your brand out there for local search.

 

This means if you type in ‘plumbers’ in the search bar and you live in Chatswood then Google will show the plumbers with a Chatswood address first.

 

This is the working of Google My Business. If you’re a local operator then Google My Business is essential.

 

It’s important to list NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) on the footer of your website if you’re a local business to give signal to Google that you do indeed service that area.

 

Local Directories and News Outlets

While directories no longer provide the same amount of link juice as they once did, they still relevant for local businesses. As mentioned above, Google gives preferential treatment to search results if the searcher is within that local area.

 

Local directories and newspapers give good indicators to Google that your business services that local area.

 

For a more technical tutorial, please visit our guide on Local SEO.

 

Identify a Gap In Your Competitor’s Armor

No company is strong in every area of marketing and SEO. For SEO, there are literally thousands of keywords that you can target, by targeting every keyword, you are spreading yourself too thin.

 

Identifying a gap in your competitor’s SEO efforts can be used to great effect. Consider the following to differentiate yourself:

 

Targeting different location

Targeting different keywords

Use different sources of link building

Target different audience

Different interval of content marketing, method of  distribution etc…

 

Using Mobility as a Weapon and Never Sit Still

Mobility is one of the few advantages you have as a small business so make the most use of it.

 

For small business SEO, this means taking advantage of trends via Google trends to reach your target audience before your larger, slower competitors.

 

Mobility also means constantly implementing new ideas, testing and tweaking your campaigns to get the best result.

 

For example, if advertising on Yellowpages not working out (when did it ever work?), you need to try another method.

 

Google Ads not working for you, how about SEO.

 

Facebook not working, how about Instagram or LinkedIn? You get the point.

 

Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless. Fail fast. Succeed faster.

 

using Google Trends for SEO

 

Use Free Resources

There are plenty of free resources that can help you with small business SEO.

 

As most of digital marketing practices essentially leads back to SEO, there are more than enough options for you promote your products and services.

 

Below are some free resources you can tap into:

Public  Forums

There are forums for just about every topic under the sun. While, many forums have do not follow links back to your website, you can still use them to gain a periodic boost to your website visits and SEO.

 

Before you start your shameless promotions, please make sure you first read the forum’s posting rules and guidelines. Most forum members dislike promotions from outsiders so you may have to become a regular first before you can begin to promote your own brand or services.

 

Company Blog

Ideally, you want all efforts to link back to your company blog on your company website. This is because of the control you have on your own website.

 

Periodically publish amazing content on your company blog will get you return visitors and add opportunity for more keywords to be found on search engines as well as backlinks.

 

If you don’t have a website yet – What are you waiting for? A website is the fundamental of SEO and is an absolute necessity.

 

Guest Blogging

Does your business have other vendors that operate within your niche but are not direct competitors?

 

These businesses provide the perfect opportunity to cross promote your services and build backlinks va guest blogging.

 

Do More With Less

Time and again digital marketing has proven to provide a more positive return on investment than traditional marketing.

 

In our previous article what’s the most effective digital marketing strategy for a business, we highlight that there is no single strategy that works for every business but there are some digital marketing strategies that work better than others depending on your industry.

 

Small business SEO is a form of digital marketing strategy that has one of the highest ROI. It provides long-term lead generation and sales growth for any business.

 

small business SEO leverage

 

Know Your Limits – When to Hire Outside Help

We get that as a small business owner you are often short on time and capital.

 

A part of successful small business SEO is recognising your limitations whether they be time, money or expertise. You cannot do everything yourself.  

 

That’s reason enough to bring onboard an SEO expert.

 

Is SEO expensive? Yes, good SEO can be expensive but only if don’t recognise the value it generates.

 

Small Business SEO is an Investment not an Expense.

 

A lot of small businesses fail because they do not recognise what’s an expense and what’s an investment.

 

Expense is an activity or product that will drain your resources.

 

Investments, however, are something that you can expect to get a return on in the future.

 

Many small business owners think marketing is expensive. It is not expensive if you can get a positive return on investment from it.

 

If spending 1 million dollars on marketing you will get 3 million in return, is the 1 million dollars expensive?

 

Obviously, don’t go spending 1 million dollars unless you first gauge the effective of the campaign on a smaller scale first!

 

Without SEO, it will be an uphill battle to generate enough leads and businesses in the online world.

 

Read our how to find the best SEO agency guide to partner up with a good local SEO agency.

 

Summary

Small Business SEO is hard due to limited resources. By gaining an understanding of our strengths, weaknesses and opportunities we set ourselves up in the best possible position to succeed.

 

Small business SEO is about recognising you cannot compete head on with your biggest competitors.

 

It is using non traditional methods to target your visitors where your biggest competitors do not target. These include targeting different locations, keywords, and execution of SEO campaigns.

 

It is using mobility in your favour to capitalise on the latest trends and never settling.

 

It is using free resources such as forums and social media and leveraging digital marketing as a medium to do more with ess.

 

It is also about recognising your limitations to know when to bring in outside help.

What's the most effective digital marketing strategy?

 

Chances are, if you're reading this then you want to learn more about digital marketing or you're considering ways to grow your business online. Perhaps, you are looking for the most effective digital marketing strategy that will get you the most bang for your buck.

 

Well, you've come to the right place because today we will explore the various forms of digital marketing strategies used, the pros and cons and the return on investment of each to uncover the most effective digital marketing strategy for your business.

 

 

*** BONUS – Download an eBook summary of this article plus exclusive offer below:

 

 

Digital Marketing Strategies Review

 

When we say digital marketing, we are generally referring to marketing that are not delivered via traditional channels such as TV, radio and print. Digital marketing or online marketing includes all marketing strategies that are delivered online through search engines, websites, social media and email.

 

While this article covers all aspects of digital marketing to find the most effective digital marketing strategy, you will find that it focuses heavily on SEO or Search Engine Optimisation.

 

This is because SEO is the backbone of which all other digital marketing (with the exception of paid search) are based on.

 

Search engines are now fast becoming an indispensable part of our lives. SEO is what gets you found when a customer search for you on search engines such as Google and Bing.

 

The most effective digital marketing strategy revolves around SEO.

 

Digital marketing vs Traditional marketing

Traditional marketing such as broadcast, magazines, newspapers and direct mail while proving effective in the past are fast becoming obsolete.

 

digital marketing vs traditional marketing

 

The main drawbacks of traditional marketing are:

Little to no interaction with audience

Traditional marketing provides a one way communication to clients with little to no interaction. Digital marketing on the other hand allows users to easily communicate with each other and your business through forums, social media, and comments section on your blog etc…

 

Higher Cost

Most traditional marketing have an expiry date such that newspaper, broadcast, and radio ads only shows for period of time. It's a right place at the right time strategy and if your client missed it then you're short on luck and have to run another campaign.

 

'Traditional marketing is a right place at the right time strategy '

 

Digital marketing on the other hand tend to be more proactive and long lasting. Your website is there 24/7, your PPC campaign only incur a cost once your clients clicks on your ad and your content will always be at the forefront when your customer searches for your services provided you have good SEO.  

 

Difficult to track

Can you tell if your customer opens a mail or hears your ad on the radio or watches your commercial on TV? Traditional marketing is difficult to track and without tracking data, how can you measure the results and improve on it?

 

Digital marketing on the other hand provides numerous tracking stats that can provide the upperhand on how to promote to your customers.

 

For instance, through Google Ads you can see how many people clicks on your ad, the time, location, gender and age of the person who clicked on your ad. These are vital information for your company to know because the more you learn about your customers, the easier it is to target them for awareness or sales campaigns.

 

As you can see, digital marketing have many advantages over traditional marketing. However, traditional marketing can still provide good results and brand awareness in many scenarios such as for local businesses servicing a certain geographical area.

 

SEO Review

SEO is one of the key strategies if you want organic or non-paid traffic to your website. It is the glue that gels together digital marketing activities such as website optimisation, content marketing and email marketing.

 

Bare in mind that SEO is a form of website marketing in that the chief aim of the campaign is to direct your potential customers to your website.

 

Essentially, SEO is utilising techniques that rank your website higher than your competitor when you clients search for your services or products on a search engine.

 

google seo vs google ads

 

Needless to say, SEO plays a integral part of all your digital marketing efforts as it's a direct, non-invasive form of marketing where your customers come to you for your products and services.

 

The advantage of SEO is the constant stream of prequalified clients that comes through your website without having to pay for it.  

 

SEO is what is considered a semi-permanent marketing strategy because the amount of time your website stay on the top of the search rankings often do not drastically change unless it's due to blackhat SEO.

 

The downside also is that it can take some time depending on your competitors and the industry you're in to rank on the first page for the search terms you desire.

 

Pros

Your clients come to your for your services and products

Pre-qualified clients

You don't have to pay for traffic to your website

Higher conversion rate due to pre-qualified leads

Long term benefits

Establishes authority as you show up on the first page search results

The most effective digital marketing strategy revolves around SEO

 

Cons

May take some time to see results from a few months to a year depending on level of competition

 

Website Optimisation

Having a website nowadays is a no brainer. What many business don't realise is that having a website is just the beginning. Unless you're an established brick and mortar business, having a brand new website is unlikely to bring in a lot of traffic.

 

To bring in traffic you will need your website optimised.

 

Website Design and Optimisation play a vital part in improving your website's ranking on search engines.

 

A good website will provide its visitors with the ultimate user experience. It will be clean and fast to load on all devices and it will contain useful information good enough to be shared.

 

Website optimisation can be classified as on-page and off-page. On-page optimisation deals with technical optimisation such as loading speed, keywords and meta tags etc… Off-page is getting backlinks from highly relevant industry related outlets.

 

Content and inbound links are two of the most important factors for search engine ranking success.

 

An ideal website provides the destination in which all other marketing efforts should be funneled through. This is because a website provides many flexible ways to convert a client whether it is through an awareness, research or sales program that other channels may not be able to.

 

The most effective digital marketing strategy will be involve an SEO optimised website. 

 

website in digital marketing

 

You have absolute control over your own website.

Per Per Click Advertising Review

PPC or Pay Per Click advertising also known as Search Engine Marketing is paying every time someone clicks on your ad and for your ad to appear on the top of search results.

 

PPC is ideal if you want immediate results because your campaign can be up and running within a couple of hours.

 

Naturally, Google Ads is the most prominent platform for PPC due to the huge market share of Google. For new PPC customers, we recommend that you skip Google Adwords Express and instead use traditional Google Ads (previously known as Google Adwords) as this allows better targeting options. Beware though, that if you're relatively new to Google Ads, it can run through your budget very quickly. So it's ideal to to learn the mistakes you're making on Google Ads as to get the most return for your ad spending.

 

For long term sustainability, it is a good strategy to incorporate both SEO and PPC. One for long term growth and the other for immediate leads to fill your pipeline. For that, PPC would be one of if not the most effective digital marketing strategy for immediate results.

 

Pros

Almost immediate results

Reach a large number of people quickly

Track-able data

Re-marketing can cross promote products and services to existing clients

 

Cons

Can waste a lot of money if you don't know what you're doing

Having to pay to stay on stop

People are more likely to click on organic results than PPC ads

Content Marketing

Content marketing is using content through blog or articles to promote brand awareness for your business.

 

As awareness is at the top of the sales funnel, content marketing should focus on providing in-depth content that helps a visitor make a decision or learn more about a subject. It is used as lead generation and rarely to sell a product or service.

 

Due to Google penalising thin content, an article or blog should be well written, easy to read and provide in-depth content.

 

Articles that are ranked on the first page of search engines are typically over 1500 words long. However, it is important to note that the length of an article is not what gets you ranked. It is how well written your article is and if it answers the searchers query.

 

Promotion of content marketing will be the most effective where your ideal customers hang out be it social media, email or through public forums or third party blogs.

 

Pros

Good way to raise awareness and generate leads

Easier to target long-tailed keywords

Good way to showcase know your business or personal style

Provide authority on a subject matter

 

Cons

Can take time for it to be effective

Writing in-depth content that is SEO optimised will require help from a good copywriter

Email Marketing

Email marketing allows you to keep in touch with your users every time you have something to say. Be it a weekly newsletter or special promotion, email marketing gets your message out there to people who are already interested in your services or products.  

 

Email marketing is a direct, one on one approach and provides one of the highest engagement rates out there and also one of the highest return on investments for your marketing dollar. For that, email marketing is one most effective digital marketing strategy if you want a low cost marketing solution.

 

For email marketing to work, you have to send relevant information to our clients. Information that they cannot ignore otherwise you're just one of the many email spammers out there with little or no value to give to your clients.

 

'Send emails that your clients cannot ignore '

 

Tip:

Two of the best ways to encourage subscribers to your email marketing list is to give exclusive discounts or freebies to new users. This can be a 20% one time code or a free ebook with some nice tips and tricks.

 

Tip 2:

Always have a link back to your website for email marketing campaigns. This give your website a boost in traffic every time you do an email blast and is good for SEO.

 

Pros

One of the highest ROIs for your budgeting dollar

Reach your customers directly

Cost effective

 

Cons

Need to build up your email database which can take time for new businesses

Need a consistent approach

Will require consistently good content otherwise you risk getting your emails flagged as spam

 

Social Media Marketing

With so many social media channels available today, you have to really think about where your ideal customers hang out. For sexy and glamorous products, Instagram is a good platform. For selling to businesses, LinkedIn may be a better option.

 

Social media marketing works best as a tool for sharing information and as a customer service hub.

 

It is important to note that most people visit social media sites to be entertained so keep your content light and entertaining. Align yourself with partners who share your believes, values and company image. It is not a place to constantly flog your products or services.

 

Social media marketing provides social proof but it can also backfire on you if you do not look after it daily.

It is better to focus on one or two social media platforms than be on all of them but not engaging your clients.

 

Pros

Can be used as customer service tools

Can be easily shared

Great content can go viral

Large user base

Are good for products and services with lots of great photos

 

Cons

Not as trackable

More followers do not necessarily translate to more sales

Is time consuming

Can be easily ignored

Can backfire if not looked after properly

 

What's the most effective digital marketing strategy for your business

While there are no one size fits all approach in digital marketing strategies there are some that work better than others depending on the industry your business is in.

 

As highlighted above, all digital marketing strategies have different advantages and disadvantages.

 

For instance, businesses that sell 'sexy' products such as hotel destinations, fashion or photography services, social media marketing and display search marketing can work to your favour as they are more visual.

 

For traditional products, businesses that sell to other businesses or one that solves a problem then content marketing and SEO can be used effectively to target what your customers are searching for online.

 

The below chart shows the general ROI for various marketing activities ( and therefore should be used as a guideline only) (source: nielsen report https://www.nielsen.com/ )

 

marketing channels ROI compared

 

As can be seen, digital marketing generally have a higher return on investment than traditional marketing. Out of all digital marketing channels, the highest average ROI are from email marketing, SEO, content marketing and paid ads as seen below (Source: Econsultancy: Email Marketing census, 2015). On paper email marketing is the most effective digital marketing strategy.

 

digital  marketing channel with best ROI

Summary

After all this, what exactly is the most effective digital strategy of all? If we had to choose one, it would be email marketing due to its low cost, high return on investment nature but email marketing by itself is not enough. 

 

In a perfect world, one digital marketing strategy will work flawlessly across all businesses and industries, but in reality there is no one size fits all approach.

 

The most effective digital marketing strategy will often depend on the industry and the stage of the buyer’s journey.  

 

Due to this and digital marketing strategies getting more complex over time, you will often find that an integrated approach works best.

 

Be where your clients like to hang out and providing them with the best possible service and support is how you can raise awareness and increase sales.

What to expect during the first few months of SEO is a common question we get asked daily.

 

You’ve read our how to find the best seo agency ultimate guide, worked through its checklist and have chosen the best seo agency. You’ve established contact and worked with your SEO agency to identify the best plan of attack. You are excited and is prepared for the bombardment of phone calls and emails coming your way and then… nothing.

 

You wonder if you’ve done anything wrong or even if Google is broken? Rest assured, you haven’t done anything wrong and Google is definitely not broken. In this guide, we will explain what is normal and what you should expect within the first few months of using SEO.

 

 

Does SEO Work?

Firstly, let me say that one month of SEO without seeing tangible results is completely normal. Depending on the competitiveness of your keywords and industry, it can take one month to a couple of months before you start seeing results. If you have talked to your SEO agency thoroughly, chances are they would’ve told you the same thing.

 

SEO works but only if it’s done right. The best practices and SEO ranking factors are constantly evolving so what worked before may not be working now.  

 

Below are the most important major Google algorithm updates so far and a brief overview. They are what constitutes to good SEO according to Google themselves.

 

Fred

Date: March, 2017

Overview: Thin content penalty update

 

Websites content are not ranked based on quantity but on quality. This updates means that websites that has a large number of affiliate products and ads (where the website receives a commission from traffic or sales generated from its referrals ) will be negatively affected. If your site do sell affiliate products, make sure to include plenty of high quality information on the pages as well.

 

Possum

Date: September, 2016

Overview: Localisation update

 

Emphasis on importance of local business optimisation which means the closer you are to a business, the most likely their results will come up in your search if all things equal. This means if you are only servicing local clients, always include your NAP (Name, Address, Location) on your relevant pages.

 

RankBrain

Date: October, 2015

 

Overview: Shallow content, poor user interface penalties update

RankBrain is part of the overall Hummingbird search algorithm that uses computer learning to better understand the meaning and intent behind each search.

 

While Google didn’t straight out say how to optimize RankBrain, many sources speculate it to be the importance of the overall user experience.

 

For content websites this means getting to know the true intent behind your users and write in a way that compels them to click, read and share that info. This means placing emphasis in topics rather than keywords to provide high engagement rates.

 

Emphasise on topics rather than keywords.

 

Mobile Optimisation

Date: April, 2015

 

Overview: Sites that are not mobile optimized are affected. Google ensures websites that are mobile friendly are ranked at the top of mobile search results. Mobile speed and usability are two factors you should focus on. Since mobile search had already overtaken desktop PC search, making sure your website is mobile friendly is a must.

 

Pigeon

Date: July, 2014

 

Overview: This algorithm updates places the importance of a user’s location and its connection to local search to the local algorithm and its core algorithm whereby traditional SEO ranking factors are now used to rank local results.  

For businesses serving local clients, this means to optimize your website for local search. Including your websites on relevant local business directories and related publications can send a strong signal.

 

Hummingbird

Date: August, 2013

 

Overview: Hummingbird is a major algorithm update that places emphasis on a user’s true intent as opposed to individual search terms. This means while keywords are still important, Google makes it possible for a page to rank on a query even if it doesn’t contain the exact keywords the user entered into the search engine.

 

This update further penalises websites that uses keywords stuffing rather than high quality content.

 

Penguin

Date: April, 2012

 

Overview: Spammy and irrelevant inbound links are penalised. As also are anchor text over optimisation.

 

Link value are now based on quality and not quantity. You should link to industry related, relevant and highly authoritative websites. For inbound links pointing back to your website it is good practice to use optimized anchor text (or exact match) sparingly and mix it with your brand name and naked URL. If your use of anchor text is natural and helps your client to gain more insight or provide assistance, you don’t need to overthink about what to put.

 

Panda

Date: April, 2012

 

Overview: Keyword stuffing, low quality content, duplicate content websites are affected

 

Panda assigns a quality score to web pages that is used as a ranking factor. Avoiding duplicate content, low quality content and keyword stuffing on your website and you will not be affected or penalised.

 

Google updates their algorithm hundreds of times a year and most of them are kept secret from the public. Some of the most important updates over the years include introducing machine learning algorithms to detect relevance, usability, mobile-friendliness and website security.

google algorithm updates

 

How Do You Prevent Google From Penalising Existing SEO?

 

You can’t. Nobody can tell what plans Google has next to their algorithm but to lessen the chances of an upcoming penalty and a good general thumb of rule is that good SEO will always be focused on how you can help your target audience better.

 

You want to make your visitors have the easier and best user experience possible and add rich-detailed content that helps your visitors make a decision or solve a problem, educate or entertain them so they will share your content. Write for your readers not search engines.

 

When will Google change their rankings algorithm no one knows but as long as you have your client’s best interest in mind, you won’t have to worry.

 

As long as you have your client’s best interest in mind, you won’t have to worry.

 

Bad SEO Can Actually Harm Your Rankings

If done incorrectly, SEO can actually harm your rankings.

 

Anything that provides no value to your customer but rather is artificially used to ‘beat the system’ or machines including:

 

  • Keyword stuffing – over use of keywords in content
  • Link farming – obtaining links from link farms
  • Cloaking – hiding content in a webpage
  • Re-directs – redirecting to unrelated webpage
  • Scraped content – scraping and duplicating content from other websites
  • Participating in affiliate programs without adding value – directly linking to affiliate sales pages without providing anything useful to visitors
  • General black hat SEO

 

A more detailed list can be seen at the Google webmaster guidelines page.

google rankings drop

 

Why Does SEO Take So Long?

 

Short answer: It doesn’t. Long answer: it depends on how competitive your keywords are. SEO doesn’t take long if you have a unique company name or product.

 

For example, if you specialise in selling ‘’purple running shoes with polka dots’’, chances will be high that you will rank higher and faster on Google for those terms than just normal ‘’running shoes”.   

 

On average, the top 10 search results are websites that are 2-3 years old with good SEO. There is only a 22% chance that a website that was created within a year to be in the top 10 results. The hard fact is: the odds are stacked against you.

 

For anyone new to SEO, I would suggest they see an online presence as a reflection of a brick and mortar store..

 

Think how long an established business took to get there. Think how much effort it took them to get there. It should be said that SEO is a reflection of that but in the online world.

 

You will need to build your reputation as a provider of excellent content and service day in day out. That’s what SEO is. It’s not a set it and forget it strategy and there are no free passes.

 

SEO is not a set and forget marketing strategy and there are no free passes.

 

First Few Months of SEO Expectations

 

1st MONTH SEO Results Expectations

Depending if you have existing SEO, this month is about laying the fundamentals and establishing a marketing plan. Researching competitors, keywords and auditing your current website for quick technical fixes are some of the main activities.

 

If your website has bad SEO then this month will also be dedicated to correcting it.

 

On-page SEO optimisation is implemented here and also internal linking and creation of important core service and product pages.

 

Your website or business name should be on Search engines now for new companies however, gaining a ranking increase for key terms here is unlikely unless in a niche industry.

 

2nd Month SEO Results Expectations

This month will be focused on creating good, in-depth content. If your website is new then this entire month will be dedicated to creating a few highly detailed articles to pitch to industry related sites for backlinks, share with your existing email database, blogs, via social media or other paid channels.

 

Finally, some easy to reach link sources such as from previous customers, competitors, vendors, and local niche directories are obtained.

 

Gaining a rank increase this month is unlikely unless in a niche industry. If you’re in a not so competitive industry then you ‘may’ see some results from the technical optimisation done in the previous month.

 

3rd Month SEO Results Expectations

This month will be focused on link building from the research that was done in previous months. Inbound links is one of the main factors when determining website rank. Further content creation and promotion are completed as well.

 

You may start to see some results if you started some easy link building in the first two months.

 

4th – 6th Month SEO Results Expectations

This period is when you should start to see the fruits of your labour as link building results begin to show after 2-3 months.

 

Further optimisation is done after the first few months of SEO as well as maintenance and discovering new opportunities.

Once again it will depend on your keywords and your competitor’s existing SEO profile to see how high your website ranks. However, it often this period that clients will realise the potential of good SEO.

 

It is worth noting that while it takes 4-6 months to see some tangible results of SEO, that continual efforts are further rewarded. 

 

If immediate results are what you’re after then SEO may not be the best platform for you. Try other platforms such as Google Ads Pay Per Click Advertising. However, when SEO works, it leaves PPC in the dust because of the amount of sustained opportunities and leads it generates for your business month in month out without having to pay a monthly fee.

 

Summary

During the first few months of SEO, you can expect to see a number of changes to your rankings and website.

 

SEO is essentially outranking your competitors so your results will vary greatly depending on your existing competition and industry.

 

There’s no magical button that you can push and no one can put a date on when you will be be ranked #1 for your website’s main keywords.

 

Think of SEO as going to the gym or losing weight. If you follow good guidelines, put in the effort day in day out you will see results gradually and that may or may not happen during the first few months of SEO.  

Trying to find the Best SEO agency in Sydney or locally in Australia is a tough and tedious endeavour akin to making your way across a minefield.

 

For starters, there are just so many people and agencies calling themselves SEO experts nowadays.

 

These so called SEO agencies are all claiming to get your business to the top spot on search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo.

 

Added to that, you are constantly bombarded with emails of similar claims with pricing ranging anywhere from free to thousands of dollars per month.

SEO agencies email

 

How on earth could you possibly tell the good from the bad and choose the right SEO agency that will help your business accomplish its marketing objectives?

 

Never fear, in this guide, we show you how to do just that. We will highlight all aspects in choosing the right SEO agency, the warning signs of a bad SEO agency and questions to ask to help you choose your next local SEO partner in whether you’re in Sydney or anywhere locally in Australia.

 

We will reveal to you industrial secrets and highlight some of the key questions to ask SEO companies to choose the best one for your marketing objective and how to weed out dodgy SEO operators locally and from overseas.

 

——————-

*** BONUS – This is quite a lengthy article. We highly recommend reading through it because if you're about to spend thousands of dollars a month on something, then it makes sense to take 10 minutes to learn about it.

However, if you're short on time, you can download a summary of this article and a checklist below to determine the best SEO agency for your business. 

———————

 

Why Are There so Many Dodgy SEO Agencies

To be fair, there are not as many dodgy SEO agencies as there are scams involving SEO. Many of the so called SEO agencies are in fact not real SEO agencies but are scammers out to get your private information or hard earned money. Labeling themselves as an SEO agency only provides them with an outlet to carry out their attack.

 

This can be contributed to:

  • SEO is in demand and a necessity in today's online world

 

  • SEO takes time to see results. 

 

  • Many business owners and directors are clueless about SEO. 

 

  • It's low stakes high reward

 

SEO is a Necessity and in Demand

Any growth or in demand industry with high initial costs are prone to scammers and SEO is no different.

SEO just works and below are the statistics to support that:

  • 93% of online experiences start on a search engine

 

  • 75% of users don't scroll past the first page of a search result

 

  • 70-80% of users prefer organic SEO rather than paid ads

SEO stats

 

With these stats, it's no wonder businesses want to have their name pop up on the first page whenever someone searches for their products and services online.

 

Unscrupulous operators realise the huge demand of SEO for every company needing an online presence so it essentially provides them with an endless supply of targets.

 

SEO Takes Time

SEO takes time. Specifically, good SEO takes time to see results. This is because:It takes time for search engines to index and rank your website compared to your competitors. 

 

Your competitors may already been doing SEO for years, which gives them an advantage to rank higher which means it will take longer to overtake them. 

 

Researching, planning and creating unique, engaging content and getting links to them takes time. Establishing yourself as a credible company takes time in the real world as do online.

 

Dodgy SEO agencies can't be proven in the short term unless you are experienced in the field of digital marketing.

 

After the realization a few months later, the scammers are long gone with your hard earn money or private details.

 

Don't worry because we will let you on some telltale signs of dodgy SEO practices later on.

 

 

Many Business Owners are Clueless About SEO and How to Differentiate Between a Good and a Bad SEO Agency

As a business manager or owner, time is a scarce commodity. There are a hundred and one things you need to make a decision on everyday. So how on earth can you make time to learn something completely new and constantly changing.

 

SEO can be complex topic for many business owners. Most owners will know that SEO will get them to the top page when people search for them but often do not know the process and work required to achieve it.

 

Differentiating good from bad SEO is not as simple as choosing an apple in the supermarket but there are definite signs.

 

'Managing and running a business is difficult enough as it is without SEO.'

 

 

It's Low Stakes High Reward

Setting up a fake email address claiming to sell SEO online while spamming thousands of Australian businesses are a low stakes high rewards venture. They only need to scam one or two for it to be worthwhile. Obviously, it’s profitable enough to be working because we are still being flooded with phishing spam everyday. In fact, a study shows over 60% of our emails are unsolicited or spam.

 

Healthcare and dating scams are the most prolific but SEO scams for businesses doesn’t seem too far behind. 

 

SEO scam signs

 

 

The 3 Stages of Finding the Best SEO Agency

 

In order to choose the best SEO agency for your business, we established a 3 stage process as outlined below:

 

Stage 1: Weeding out Scammers: This stage is used to weed out the scammers and fraudsters. You will learn telltale signs of a bad SEO and common tactics scammers used to steal your private information or hard earned money. Any agencies offering you SEO from this stage, you should run away from and do not reply to their emails or calls.

 

Stage 2: Separating the good and the bad SEO Agencies: Here, we learn to identify the bad SEOs. These are not scammers per se but you will find little value in using these agencies if at all. They rely on locking you in with bold promises but lack the experience to truly make you rank well for your industry related keywords. A lot of overseas and a surprisingly large number of local companies fall under this category.

 

Stage 3: Shortlisting and choosing the best SEO agency – You should choose your SEO agency from theis shortlist. However, there will be some that are better than others and you will learn the questions to ask and what answers to look for to find the best SEO partner for your business .

 

Stage 1 : Weed Out Dodgy SEO/SCAMMERS

They Are Emailing You From Free Email Account Such as Gmail

Dodgy and scammy agencies often use any free online email services such as gmail, outlook or yahoo mail to target unsuspecting business owners. This is because it provides a free and easy way to get in and get out.

 

All scammers like to take the easy approach. Setting up an official company website via .com or .com.au domain and fill it with relevant info will be too much like work.

 

A free email address means once they are caught or are blacklisted, they can easily switch to another free email account. Furthermore, without a proper company setup, there are no trails once they scam you of your hard earn money or private data.

 

No reputable company will operate under a gmail account so if you see a 'company' approaching you via anything besides a .com or .com.au email account, flag it as spam. Don't even reply to the email because replying means they can use whatever you say against you.

 

Refusal To Do a Live Meeting or Telephone Call

Scammers like to hide behind a screen of anonymity. If an agency put forward a SEO proposal and will not take a telephone or live meeting then chances are they do not like to be put under scrutiny for being a fraud and most are not legit.

 

The reason why scammy operators shy away from live phone interviews and meetings is because they often need time to research how actual SEO works (like reading this article).

 

Like many scammers, the more questions you ask them, the easier you can spot their flaws. Which is why they will not often take your call.

 

Do They Guarantee #1 or First Page Results Within a Short Time Frame?

SEO takes time. How long you say? While SEO is different for every company the typical time frame for SEO results to show is after 4 months. In competitive industries, SEO make take over a year to show some results.

 

How can an agency readily promise number #1 rankings in a month ( for high volume search keywords ) when the industry average is 4 or more?

 

Any agency that promises first page or even #1 position on Google within a very short time frame is preying on the 'instant gratification' psyche and definitely do not having your best interest in mind. Steer clear like you would any 'get rich quick' schemes.

 

In fact, if an agency guarantees #1 ranking altogether, you might want to double check their legitimacy as will be explained below:

 

Readily Promise Number #1 Ranking on Google

You may come across ads or emails with bold headlines such as promising number #1 ranking results. If an agency claims such bold statements, you may want to take things with a grain of salt.

 

For starters, It’s relatively easy to get on the first page or even number #1 ranking but for only for terms that no one searches for or unique such as your company name or a long-tailed search phrase.

 

For instance, consider the following search

 

  • Buy iPhone online

 

  • Buy pink and purple iPhone case with sparkling diamonds

 

Average monthly search for the first one is in the thousands. Average monthly search for the second is not likely to be many

 

The second search will be much much easier to rank for but it will have no traffic. When an SEO promises first page results, they often mean search terms that has very little search volume or a variation of your business name.

 

Another scenario where you can easily get on the first page or number #1 position on Google is by spending money via PPC.

 

Google ads a PPC or what we called a paid per click advertising platform will almost always get you on the first page but it will cost you money for every click you get. It is different from SEO because traffic is paid. SEO traffic comes naturally. SEO results are long term while PPC results will cease once you stop paying for ad placement.

 

SEO vs Google Ads

 

If any SEO agency in Sydney or within Australia promises first page or number #1 ranking results, your follow up question should be ‘do I get to choose my search terms or keywords`.

 

Have a 'Work For Free' model

A 'work for free until we rank you on the first page' is another common technique used to dupe business owners and managers into shelling out private info or phishing scams.

 

Reason – As stated above, SEO is something that takes time and tremendous amount of effort. What's more, Google themselves stated 'Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings'.

 

So, if something that is in demand and valuable, takes effort but with no guarantees to achieve results – why would anyone do it? Companies are paying millions of dollars to gain top positions on search engines for their desired keywords, SEO agencies that don't have the confidence to charge what they're worth are often not worth it or they have other ulterior motives.

 

Agencies that use these too good to be true or overly aggressive models are why SEO gets its bad reputation and the reason why this guide exists.

 

Stage 1 Summary

Having common sense and avoid too good to be true scammers is probably the main objectives at this stage.

 

Don't be fooled by too good to be true offers. Being on the first page of SEO or Bing is lucrative business. Thousands if not millions of people visit their websites every month. If companies are paying millions to get their business on the front of the internet via search engines, do you really think you can do the same with only a few hundred dollars from someone off the Internet with a gmail email account?

 

 

Stage 2: Filtering the Good from the Bad

 

After you weed out the fraudulent and scammers in stage 1, we can begin stage 2 testing.

 

Stage 2 SEO agencies while not flat out scammers are often inexperienced or use shady SEO techniques.

 

Surprisingly, we found a lot of overseas companies and plenty of local companies fall under this category.

 

However, companies under this stage you are safe to take calls from or even set up an initial meeting.

 

Below are some common signs

 

Pricing Too Good To Be True

Similar to stage 1 'work for free' models, these plans are designed to trap to you a contract or worse.

 

What's an example of pricing too good to be true you ask?

 

Considering that good SEOs easily charge $100 per hour. Anything less than $1000 per month (for small to medium sized businesses) are unlikely to yield measurable results.

 

Is $1000 too much to pay? Well, that's something only you can answer. Consider it this way – if for every $1000 you spend, you get $2000 in return or $10,000 in return. Will that be too much?

 

Good SEO is an investment not an expense.

 

However, if you find $1000 too expensive, we recommend that you abort SEO altogether and search for an alternative marketing solution rather than waste money on bad SEO.

 

SEO pricing Sydney

 

SEO Agency Chooses Keywords for You

As per stage 1, it is not hard to rank for obscure or long phrase keywords. Any agency that chooses keywords for you without consulting with you and showing proof of monthly search volume is not an agency you want to work with.

 

Ideally, the SEO agency will talk with you on what keywords your business is ranking and its estimated monthly volume. They will also talk about how competitive each keywords are and what are some easy win keywords that has low competition and high search volume.

 

SEO Agency Sets the Number of Keywords

 

If an SEO agency says they can get you to rank for 50 keywords – your follow up questions should be 'can I choose them' and 'how many hours will you spend on each keyword or search term'.

 

Setting a high number of keywords do not mean anything if none of them have the search volume to back it up. One high search volume keyword may take 10 times longer than 50 lesser searched keywords to rank for so you can see why agencies promising high number of keywords is not necessarily a good thing.

 

Promising Hundreds or Thousands of Links

 

Links are very important metric affecting SEO and as such many SEO firms may try to sell you on the idea that more is better. This is not necessarily the case. You see, not every link is the same.

 

Links coming from relevant industry or well established websites are worth more than inbound links from irrelevant sources. So one relevant high authority link can have the same value as hundreds of irrelevant links.

 

Links can quite simply be classified as good or bad. Good links will provide value for your SEO while bad links will harm it.

 

High valued links are often difficult to obtain that's why agencies promising hundreds or thousands of links are going for low valued links that provides no value to your SEO campaign and oftentimes are detrimental to it .

 

This case is especially true when a SEO agency’s main strategy of link building is by submitting it to hundreds of online directories. While it is worthwhile to submit to a few local directories when starting out, the risks outweighs the benefits in a long term SEO strategy as many online directories carry a Google rankings penalty.

 

Stage 2 Summary

Just because we weed out the scammers in Stage 1 doesn’t mean we can let our guards down. In this stage, we separate the good from the bad SEO agencies. We reveal the signs of a bad SEO and also some things they promise that are of little value or actually detrimental for your business such as promising a large number of low volume keywords and setting those keywords for you or promising a large number of (bad)links that they use to try and hook you in.

 

Stage 3: Choosing the Best SEO Agency

The best SEO agency in Sydney or locally in Australia belong in this stage and they should be in your shortlist for agencies to hire. However, there are some that are better than others. Below are the questions to weed out the good from the great.

 

Do They Lock you in a Contract

We get that SEO takes time but is it really in your best interest to be locked in a six months or yearly contract?

 

An SEO agency may get you to sign a long term contract because they say that you will not get the full benefits otherwise. While this is generally true, there are so many other factors involved such as:

 

No Results – Obviously, you want to see some results. What happens if after a few months have passed and there were none and you want to change providers?

 

Communications and Customer Service – You may not like the agency's way of communication. Their customer service may not be up to scratch.

 

Change of Circumstance – Perhaps you want to focus your budget on another aspects such as Google Ads. If you are locked in you will have to see things through good or bad.

 

Budgeting and cash flow Issues – You may run into cash flow issues and want to postpone the campaign until everything's back to normal. A locked in contract will not allow that.

 

As you can understand, a bad SEO agency will negatively impact your company's search engine rankings. You definitely want the flexibility to see see some initial results, re-negotiate terms or even leave rather than being locked in a long contract.

 

Are They a Local Company?

Since in this article we are looking for the best SEO agency in Sydney or locally in Australia, it stands to reason that an SEO not operating in Australia should be excluded. A local company provides many benefits such as ease of communication and local know how.

 

For many small to medium sized companies, their client base may only be within a certain city or region.

 

Having a local partner means they know the local conditions better such in-depth knowledge of your competitors and operations. They will also have good connection with other local companies and make it easier for them to reach out to them for industry related backlinks.

 

Backlinks if you don’t know already are one of the main factors for good SEO rankings.

 

'Hiring a local SEO company can be advantageous if most of your clients are locally based '

 

local-seo

 

Is the Agency Currently Working With Other Companies in the Same Industry as Yours

SEO at its core is ranking your company higher than your competitors. As such you can see why an agency currently working with many of your competitors may not always have your best interest at heart.

 

Who will they give priority to? Will they limit your results so they can get better results for your competitor? Will they reveal your secrets to gain a boost to the competitor?

 

Given an agency will have many or even hundreds of clients. It can be unrealistic for one to only focus on you out of your entire industry. How comfortable you are with them also working with your competitors will depend on your individual tolerance and how far you are currently ranking.

 

How Many Other Companies is Your Consultant Working With

Through your agency you will most likely be assigned a single consultant to handle your SEO. One thing you need to ask is how many other SEO jobs do they have on hand? Reason is you do not want them to be too busy as good SEO takes time.

 

As a general rule, you do not want your consultant to be working on more than 10 clients at the same time otherwise they are spreading themselves too thin.

 

How Will They do SEO?

This is quite a broad question but SEO generally begins with a website audit or competitor or keyword analysis and research.

 

A SEO agency that doesn't begin with some sort of audit or research do not truly understand your current position to beat existing competition.

 

Do They Have Detailed Case Studies of Their Process and Results?

With so many SEO companies nowadays, you really need one who can walk the walk and talk the talk. A detail case study of SEO means you see them in action and you can more accurately judge the quality of their work.

 

Don't settle for just a logo of clients or written testimonial.

 

Do They Help You to explain their reason behind each SEO activity?

No successful SEO campaign is ever achieved without collaboration from the agency and their customer. The best seo agency in Sydney or in fact within all of Australia will know their stuff but they will not know all the in and outs of your own business and industry – only you do.

 

How Often Do They Keep You Updated?

Reporting can vary between agencies. Typical reporting occurs every two weeks or end of month. However, you may want to contact the agency for urgent matters.

 

Do They Do Other Forms of Digital Marketing?

SEO does not work independently. It works best when combined with an overall digital marketing plan involving:

 

Website Design and Optimization – A fast, clean website is one of the fundamentals of good SEO.

 

Content Marketing – Good content are an essential part of SEO to get traffic, mentions and backlinks.

 

Social Media – Social media indirectly affects SEO and are used to spread good content around and redirect traffic to your website.

 

Public Relations – PR can also indirectly affect SEO with mentions on popular and high authority websites and publications.

 

Email Marketing – Email marketing provides one of the best marketing ROI. A good SEO plan will definitely involve email and content marketing.

 

digital marketing diagram

 

Do They Tailor Approach to Your Business and Industry

You cannot apply the same SEO techniques and expect the same results for every business.

 

How SEO is applied will depend on a number of things including if a business is new, if your clients are local or international and your current ranking position among many other things to consider.

 

An agency that can tailor your SEO strategy is one that will ultimately achieve the best results in the least amount of time.

 

Are You Satisfied With Their Initial Meeting

After stage 3, you will most have a shortlist of capable SEO agency candidates.

 

Do they tick all the boxes of this article and how satisfied are you with the initial meeting?

 

Stage 3 Summary

This stage provides technical questions to separate the best from the good. We look at some deciding factors such as if they will lock you in on a long term contract, their current work load and if they are working for your competitors as well as you. We see if they can walk the walk with a case study request and finally score them based on their initial telephone conference or meeting.

 

Final Thoughts

Choosing the best SEO agency in Sydney or locally is not easy. It incorporates many stages of selection including weeding out bad SEO agencies and scammers, shortlisting the good candidates and finally choosing the best one for your business objectives.

 

Choosing the best SEO agency is a tedious task but if you look for common sign and ask the right questions you are well on your way to finding a partner you can count on in a long term and mutually beneficial relationship.

marketing-for-tradies

Tradies, the backbone of the Australian economy – Slugging it out day after day fixing leaky taps or installing new floorboards. Make no mistake, it is back breaking labour yet they put their money where their mouth is and persevere. Maybe it’s their relaxed attitude or casual appearance but they oftentimes have a reputation and perception that’s quite far from the truth.

 

Take for example the controversial Snickers ad that’s having a little fun with the trade industry https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqgjTZQiySw. Their hard working, down to earth attitude and modesty however can also be their downfall as they often do very little if at all to promote their services and even getting more word of mouth ( a large portion of their revenue stream) is overlooked.

 

This digital (and traditional) marketing for tradies made simple article will try to address some of these issues and highlight some points and strategies tradies can use to promote themselves and their business to drive in new and returned business.

 

While marketing techniques for tradies follows marketing principles for any other industry, there are a few areas you want to put your efforts on to get maximum returns and that is local SEO and Word of mouth. This is because unless you are a large corporation that can serve customers in many states, you will need local customers – this is when local SEO comes in and word of mouth is what’s going to give you an edge over your competitors.

Digital Marketing

DigitalMarketingGraphic

Website:

A website that contains great and relevant content with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) optimised with your industry specific keywords will not only do great in local search but also act as a platform for customers to sing your praise.

 

A website that has shareable buttons will make things easier for your clients to share content and your business details with their friends and family. Social media buttons on every page is even more ideal. For special offers, you will need an opt in form to collect your customer details. Put in some extra efforts for your term and conditions and what’s covered in your rates and it will separate you from the good to the great.

 

Location Location

Make sure your business name, type of business and location in searchable html form and map form are included in relevant pages (Home and Contact Us page minimum). Ideally you want a different page for a different location if you have multiple locations to maximise the benefits.

 

Clients

Are they happy with your service? If so, ask them for reviews. List them on your website. Link to them. Show other prospects you are doing great work within the community.

 

Case Studies

A highly targeted case study that’s well written and addresses the right issues with measurable results will do wonders to promote recognition and credibility with other local clients.

 

News

Have you recently made contributions to the local community or school or have you purchased a new van or ute for your business? Share it! Even small or what may seem insignificant events can help to boost your recognition and establish rapport with your local customers. Sometimes what seem like insignificant news can play to your advantage because you appear more real and easy to work with than larger corporations.

 

Testimonials

Testimonials on your website provides great social proof. Whenever someone says something great about you or your business ask them if you can use their comments. If your service area has a tight knit community, recognising that a comment or testimonial comes from a friendly neighbor will definitely put you in their priority list when they need your services further down the road. It your clients have a linkedin, social media or business page, linking to them will create valuable real-world connection.

 

Reviews

Study have shown people mainly write reviews when they are not happy with a product or service. That’s why it’s imperative that tradies go above and beyond to ask for good reviews. Review snippets can be seen when people search for your company or when you advertise on Adwords with reviews extension so it’s a core aspect of your business you want to put effort into and get right.

 

Social Media

Social media is king when it comes to sharing content online especially for B2C businesses and of course for tradies. Depending on where your customers hang out, at least two social media accounts are recommended.

 

Google + and Google My Business account:

For customers to leave reviews, a Google + account does wonders. If your business is already listed on Google, make sure to claim it with a Google My Business account and add contact information such as your business phone number, location and website to boost your local search ranking.

 

Local Search Engine Optimisation

Local-SEO-for-tradies

With recent algorithm updates, Google is giving higher priority to local businesses on search result. This means bigger companies with huge advertising budgets no longer have the upper hand and small businesses are enjoying a much needed boost to their business online. To find out more and how to rank higher in local SEO, please visit our blog how to improve your local SEO. In it we emphasis on the three ingredients to get right with local SEO

  • Set up Google My Business Account and link it to your Google+ profile
  • Add location data to your business account emphasising on address and telephone number
  • Link to local established websites such as community, school or newspaper

Having claimed your locations and phone number will enable your business to be found locally and be well on your way to ranking a high position in search engines.

 

Search Engine Marketing

Adwords

Proximity search is the key here because you don’t want to waste your money from customers who are outside your location of service. Demographic also plays a vital role – are most of your clients aged between 40-50? Are they self employed? Etc… A highly targeted adwords campaign will do wonders for your business guaranteed!

 

Traditional Marketing

Although digital marketing plays a major role in promoting your business, we must not forget about traditional marketing. In fact, for local businesses a traditional approach may be what separates it from larger international companies that serve the same industry.

word-of-mouth

Word of Mouth

For businesses that only serves clients within a particular location, word of mouth is especially important in spreading the word so to speak. This being said, seldom do tradies leave a platform for their customers to sing their praise. The idea is to make reviews and sharing of your content as easy as possible. Below are some ideas you can use to promote word of mouth the old fashion way:

 

Business cards

You’ll be surprised at how many times tradies forget this. They turn up for work, complete it and leave an invoice and off they go to their next client or the local pub. A basic business card is one of the simplest things you can give to a client. A business card set up as a fridge magnet or with a promotion for returning customers is an even better idea.

 

Connecting with Local Chamber of Business or Meetups

If you’re servicing clients locally, it is especially important to become friendly with the locals (from a business perspective and also personally of course!). You may want to check out a local Meetup group or join your area’s business chamber. A local business chamber also has the resources to help you start and grow your business.

 

Branded Company Car

With such fantastic branding, who else am I gonna call?

 

If you’re constantly doing jobs in a particular region, a company car will do wonders to your brand recognition and promote word of mouth.

 

We hope you got something out of our marketing for tradies made simple article. Bear in mind, these are just tip of the iceberg. What marketing strategies has worked for you? Please share below or subscribe to our Newsletter to the right for future articles delivered straight to your inbox.

 

Marketing-to-Chinese-Consumers-header

With its natural beauty and laid back lifestyle, Australia has been and still is a top destination among holidaymakers. While New Zealand holds the number one foreign visitors to Australia for many years, it has seen stagnant growth. The country that’s making the most of their holiday down-under now is China. In this article, we will focus on the Chinese buyer mentality and shopping habits and how you can market to Chinese consumers locally and online to get your business China Ready.

 

As Chinese people get wealthier, they are shopping and  traveling more and Australia remains one of their top destinations. As a matter of fact, China has overtaken New Zealand now as the number one foreign visiting nation in Australia with almost 1.5 million visiting last year [2].

 

Not only are they visiting more, they are also spending more. Research has shown Chinese spend more more than $8000 per trip, more than the UK and the US (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-15/chinese-tourists-spend-more-money-in-australia/7633736).

 

Cashed Up and Ready to Spend

Chinese tourists spend $2500 per trip on shopping and with its widespread counterfeit problem at home, Chinese visitors like to splash out on branded clothing and accessories. Organic foods and supplements are also a hit. It doesn’t matter if they can get the same brand in their country, they will always pay more for an identical product in Australia because they know they are getting the authentic product and not a counterfeit or a watered down version.

 

Why are Chinese Traveling to Australia More?

It’s not that Chinese are traveling to Australia more, it’s that they are generally traveling a lot more as a nation. Apart from Australia, the Chinese also love to visit France, the US, Japan and the Maldives.

tourists-in-Australia-by-country

Foreign visitors to Australia by country – Australian Bureau of Statistics shows Chinese’s explosive growth in the past decade compared to other countries.

 

Not Just Tourism

Shopping holidays are common for Chinese people but at home, they are also spending up on Aussie products.

 

Periods of Buying Frenzy

During the Chinese new year ( mid February), student holidays and Xmas time are when they tend to spend the most. However, the day they spend the most by far is Singles Day November 11th.

 

Singles Day November 11 or 11/11

Is like Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Click Frenzy in that most retailer partake in nationwide discounts. The date November the 11th or 11.11 was supposedly for single people to indulge by spending on themselves but it has now turned into a national shopping event. Singles day is an online only event and it sets the record as the world’s largest online sales event in one day.

singles-day-sale-numbers

In 2016, 23.39 billion worth of sales in one day was reached – more than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

 

Pandas during singles day 11/11

Yes, this is exactly what happens during Singles Day 11/11.

 

What Chinese People Love to do When Traveling

Chinese people love bragging rights. They like to flaunt their wealth especially in front of other people. It’s not necessarily an act of vanity but it is a cultural thing. Chinese have a proverb ‘ren yao lian, shu yao pi’ which translates to “people can’t live without ‘face’ or reputation just as a tree can’t live without it’s bark”. So it comes with no surprise that they like to shop when they are on holidays. They will splash out more on souvenirs to take back home than they will spend on tourist experiences here. This is because it’s in Chinese culture to buy souvenirs to curry favour for business and to show other people they’ve been to a particular place or destination.

 

Don’t be surprised if you see Chinese tourists spending more time on taking and posing for photos than actually enjoying the event or attraction.

chinese-tourists-on-beach

Two young ladies having fun on the beach. Don’t expect this to be the norm back home because in general Chinese girls prefer whiter skin than a tan as it’s deemed more beautiful.

 

Now that we identified the spending power and some shopping habits of Chinese buyers, we need to set up an action campaign that takes advantage of it. Below are some ways to promote your brand and products to Chinese customers:

 

How to Have Your Business China Ready

Having a translated Chinese brand for recognition

A vast majority of Chinese people doesn’t understand English and how to pronounce words written in English so in order to promote your brand there, a translated Chinese name will do wonders for localisation and recognition. This will make your brand easier to remember and be readily accepted. For a good translation, take into consideration phonetic sound, name, meaning and message behind your brand.

Below are good and bad examples of English translated Chinese brands

coca-cola-chinese-translation

Coca Cola to ‘ke kou ke le’ which literally means tasty and joyful.

 

Lost in Translation – American brand Best Buy’s translation is ‘bai si mai’ which sounds similar to best buy in Chinese. However, to a native Chinese the meaning is ‘Think 100 times before buying’. It’s easy to see why it failed to connect with Chinese shoppers.

best-buy-fail-china

Better ‘think 100 times before buying’.

 

Retailers Missing Out on Boom

Tour operators/ staff – Although, not every store will need a Chinese speaking staff, having one doesn’t hurt and shows your enthusiasm to welcome them as customers.

 

Signs

At the very least, have signs in your shop, business or attraction that says a welcoming message or instructions. Do not be over reliant on Google Translate however.

 

UnionPay

You may think everyone has a MasterCard, Visa or American Express credit card. Wrong! China’s most popular Credit Card is actually UnionPay. In fact Union Pay’s long held monopoly over the domestic card market only came to an end in June 2016 (http://www.scmp.com/business/banking-finance/article/1968737/chinas-55-trillion-yuan-credit-card-clearing-market-now). In the meantime if you want Chinese clients, apply for an account to accept Union Pay with your bank soon.

 

Menus & Pamphlets

To cater for Chinese clients, menus and pamphlets that’s written in their language will make their stay more enjoyable and memorable so they can share with their friends in person or via social media. When designing menus and pamphlets do NOT forget to include QR code to link to additional resources such as your website or social media!

 

QR (Quick Response) code

While originally created for the automotive industry in Japan, QR or Quick Response codes have taken the Chinese by storm and remains hugely popular to this day thanks to Wechat, China’s version of Whatsapp that has a built-in QR scanner thus allowing more than 600 million of its active users access to its functions.

QR-code
QR codes are still widely popular among Chinese

 

Avoid Taboos and Superstition

When planning your marketing material, there are a few things to keep in mind. Avoid the numbers 4 and black colors besides both of these resemble death and bad luck. You may find buildings that are missing the 4th or 14th floor in China. Gold, silver, rose similar to the new Apple Iphone is normally favored by Chinese people as it’s good luck. The number 8 is also good luck as it sounds like the word ‘fa’ which translate to ‘prosperity’. So pricing a product $888 is a better pricing strategy than $444.

 

Digital Marketing to Chinese Consumers 101

A big part of succeeding in China is having your brand recognised online. With over 1.1 billion active mobile phone users, China is at the forefront of the digital economy and how you market to them will determine your success or failure.

 

Have a Chinese Website

Having a Chinese website is advantageous as it builds rapport and authenticity. Potential customers will quickly abandon a website if it’s in a language they do not understand. Having a Chinese website will make it viewable and searchable in China’s largest search engine Baidu thus Opening your door to millions of potential new clients.

In summary, having a Chinese website can have the following benefits:

  • Gain Trust
  • Create New Opportunities
  • Be More Competitive
  • Be in native search engines
  • Increase Sales and Bottom Line

 

Why Google Translate Doesn’t Work

Google translate is good at getting the general idea of a sentence and works most of the time but do not be too reliant on it. Below is a literal translation:

English Text Google Translated How its Actually Interpreted
Get your foot in the door 让你的脚在门里 Let your foot trapped inside the door

As you can see above, sometimes Google Translate just plain fails. The reverse is also true. Just go to any Chinese website, hit Google Translate and see what you can understand from it. To really connect to Chinese buyers, you will need a multilingual website.

 

Ways Your Website Might get Blocked by the Great Firewall of China

China has a very strict censorship and surveillance system in place and for websites that don’t adhere to their views politically you can be sure they will get blocked. While there are no sure fire ways to know if your website will get blocked, a good guide is to look at existing sites that are blocked and not associate your website with them or link to them.

For a list of the most popular websites that are blocked by the Great Firewall of China check here. You can see many of the most popular websites today are blocked including Google, most social media, pornographic and news websites. Another way you can disassociate yourself from blocked websites is having a dedicated server rather than shared hosting with known blocked websites.

 

So I Should Host my Website in China?

After reading the above, you’ll be under the impression it’s best to host your website in China. That way you can get unrestricted access and faster speeds. Not quite. You will be under the scrutiny as outlined above and maybe even more so. To have a website in China, you will require a business registration number, be currently operating in China and have an ICP (Internet Content Provider) license. Getting an ICP license is a long and complicated process that we do not recommend you do yourself. There is a way around it though and that is not in host in China entirely.

The Solution?

Host in surrounding countries with a more lax registration process. This allows for the fastest speeds and unrestricted access.

 

Chinese Social Media

Wechat or Weixin in China is a popular messaging app similar to WhatsApp in the western world. WeChat has functions and features to that of Facebook and Whatsapp combined which is why many people prefer it over WhatsApp. Likewise, people who want a simplified platform prefer WhatsApp. While we won’t be comparing the two in this article, we will point out that Wechat is by far the most commonly used among Chinese people.

Wechat also offer companies and businesses an option to create an Official Account. Similar to a Facebook business page, an Official Account allows your business to provide article feeds to subscribers. To apply for a Wechat account please visit http://apply.wechat.com/

Note: Wechat users will have access to Chinese and International accounts. However, Chinese users of Weixin will NOT have access to International accounts created on Wechat.

Weibo – Twitter like alternative in China. Use it to follow celebrities and advertise your current products and services.

Hopefully this articles provides you with some insights on how to sell to the Chinese consumer. It only touches the surface. In part 2, we will explain in greater detail on how to promote your business digitally in China and how Chinese culture influences buying habit and preference.

That side, all businesses are different and do not take a one size fits all approach. What’s been working for you? What hasn’t? Please share comments below.

To get your business China-Ready regarding branding, multilingual website localisation, digital marketing and more, please do not hesitate to contact us with your requirements.

References

[1] What Chinese tourists like and dislike about Australia

http://www.traveller.com.au/what-chinese-tourists-like-and-dislike-about-australia-31kby

[2] Chinese tourists spend record amounts but Australian retailers risk missing the boom

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-15/chinese-tourists-spend-more-money-in-australia/7633736

[3] China’s 55 trillion yuan credit card clearing market now open for competition

http://www.scmp.com/business/banking-finance/article/1968737/chinas-55-trillion-yuan-credit-card-clearing-market-now

Australia Tourism plans towards 2020

http://www.blockedinchina.net/ – Test if your website is blocked in china

Destination NSW – Strategies for China Tourism in NSW

Guinness book records for Singles Day 

After you have avoided the hidden traps of purchasing a website and it’s finally SEO optimised and running, you are now ready to promote the heck out of it. However, not every business is set for world domination. If your business only serves clients locally, it makes sense to put most of your marketing efforts into local SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). This guide gives you proven tips and tricks to improving your local SEO.

One of the things we get asked the most from our local clients is how can they get their business on the top right position with a photo, phone number and address details similar to what we did with our client Wardsteel & Aluminium below when certain industry related keywords are searched via Google search engine.

google local search

As you can probably guess, having the top position shown along with your company photo, website details and telephone numbers when potential clients search for a product and service does wonders for your business’s bottom line like nothing else. It means Google places enough trust on it (on top of the other hundreds of similar business listings) to recommend their seal of approval.

Firstly, before we tackle the problem of optimising your website locally, we need to understand there are two criteria for it to appear in that position:

  1. Their business name and domain name are at the top position when you search for them. As you can guess, unique business names make this step a lot easier.
  2. They need to be in the top position already with certain targeted keywords – this is the harder version.

For 1, it is as easiest as starting a Google + account and claiming your business listing with your business name, address, telephone number and operating hours here.

For 2, which is what your aim should be, it can be a little more difficult. Below are a list of things we did to help our clients reached the top position in Google search.

Before we start, you will need to copy a paste a few things about your business so have these prepared will save you time further down the track:

  • Business Name
  • Business Address
  • Business Email address
  • Business Phone number
  • Business Description
  • Business ABN/ACN
  • Social Media links

Establish a Google + account

First things first, in order to get to 2, we must first complete 1. Sign up to Google + and claim your business listing in the link above. Remember to link your website to this business page otherwise you will not benefit from the added traffic from this.

You will receive your Google verification code in the mail in a few business days. After you received this code, enter it in and voila, you are verified!

Establish Local Presence

While there are many ways to establish local presence, the easiest and the fastest way is to associate yourself with local providers and directories. Now, not every local directory is made equal, there are a few directories that will generate a higher value for your website. Depending on the industry you’re in, these directories will be different as well. The food industry and the automotive industry for instance will be quite different. However, in Australia, the directories that will generally get you the best results are:

  1. Yellowpages
  2. Truelocal
  3. Yelp
  4. Hotfrog
  5. Startlocal

Of course you can add more directories but it’s more about quality than quantity with link building. Because you’ve already written down the requirements above, filling in these shouldn’t take too long.

After completing these two steps, you’ll be well ahead of other similar websites to ranking well for local SEO.

However, local SEO is about consistency and effort so it’s a good idea to include content marketing on a regular basis.

Local Association

By associating yourself with local businesses, you validate yourself to Google that you are also a local business. Below are some communities and events you might want to associate yourself with:

Local schools/high Schools

Schools give out high value links locally because they are normally well established and recognised.

Local sporting events

Sporting events brings people together. Why not see if your local footy club requires sponsorship?

Local charitable events

Local fundraising or voluntary events can be good opportunities to network

Local industry directory

As mentioned briefly, local directories can provide high value links for your business.

Local newspaper

The newspaper you get delivered free every week can provide great opportunities for you to reach out to other businesses and people within your area.

Review Sites

Review take up nearly 10% of the factors deciding local ranking. Why are reviews important? It’s because it authenticates the business and people want to do businesses that are rated well by others hence Google takes it into consideration.

Because of that, it’s a good idea to have your business to promote positive reviews and also  monitor and respond to bad reviews on various review sites.

Review sites will vary depending on the industry you’re in. Take for instance, the food and hospitality industry will have more relevant reviews from Zomato, goodfood.com.au and tripadvisor while the automotives industry will benefit from productreviews.com.au. If unsure, simply Google on the review of your largest competitor. You should then have an idea of which review websites are prevalent within your industry.

Note – Do NOT try to set up fake accounts to give yourself positive reviews or your competitors fake negative reviews as you will lose all beneficial ratings or even get penalised if discovered.

While doing all the above will give you good results, it may still not reach the top position. There are many factors influencing this including age of your website, its click through rate compared to your competitors, number of links, content quality etc.. but as long as you keep your website up to date with excellent information and allow it some time, it will be in a good position to rank high.

What are some of the best techniques you use for local SEO? Please share comments below.

By David Zhou

Consultant at ShoutItOUt.com.au

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