A big part of my job involves challenging misconceptions that people have about internet marketing.
The industry moves fast and is filled with a lot of BS. There are many, many people competing for your marketing budget, and often they’ll sell you services that you think you need – even if they won’t produce the results you need.
It can be hard to tell where to invest your money. My goal is to help clients maximize every dollar they spend on marketing to get the best return they can. After all, if you’re achieving results, it’s a win-win for us both. Your business will grow, and you’re more likely to keep using my services (with your now increased marketing budget!)
Here are some straight answers to questions that businesses recently asked me about how to best market online.
1. My company offers services nationwide, but I only have an office in one city. I rank high for my city but not nationally. Should I set up “pseudo locations” in other cities to increase my chances of ranking higher?
It’s hard (and getting harder) to fool Google into listing you if you don’t actually have a physical street address in those locations. Sometimes PO boxes work, but the overhead of managing those “pseudo locations” can be a pain. For example, the listing service Yext charges per location, so you’ll inflate your costs needlessly.
But more importantly, this approach is risky. Google doesn’t want you to put up multiple fake locations; otherwise everyone with a non-geographic specific service would use the tactic. So while it may work today, it could come back to bite you later. If Google improves their algorithm and susses out that those “pseudo locations” are, well, not real, it may also determine that your real physical address isn’t a quality local listing either. You could see not just a loss of the web traffic from those pseudo locations – but a loss of ALL your traffic overnight.
You could invest a lot, and it might work. But then again, it’s just as likely that Google will see through the strategy, and it won’t last long. No one can be certain what Google will do, but we do know that ultimately their goal is to improve the accuracy of information online. If you’re working against that agenda, you could be penalized.
2. I want to make sure my business is listed in online directories. Is Yext a good solution?
Personally, it’s not where I would invest my marketing budget. Instead of paying $400+ a year, you can claim your listing on Google+ Local, Yelp, and CitySearch for free, and that’s probably 95% of the value you get from Yext. If you need assistance adding the listing, it’s still much cheaper to hire a professional to do it once. However, it is key to check those listings regularly – 2 to 3 times a year – to ensure they’re still accurate.
[intense_content_box rtl=”0″] Ok, I wanted to post an update to this, Yext has added a ton of new features and I have had a bit of a change of heart on their solution. With local becoming more and more important and the recent changes in 2014 with local search on Google, I think Yext’s price vs features are actually a good deal. In addition, they are the only company that has a direct API to several of the local directories. You still need to invest time in making Yext work and remember the main value is getting your listing data correct, which is a hard task if you are doing it manually. Remember you should make sure you include a Special Coupon Offer when you are setting up Yext, that’s a great way to increase leads with local.[/intense_content_box]
3. What about placing an ad on Yellow Page City?
I’ve noticed a recent uptick in interest from businesses for ad placement on the Yellow pages, and I believe it’s tied to the recent study which found that local results on the Yellow Pages are actually more accurate than the local listings on Google. But here’s the thing: it really doesn’t matter. Why? Because the Yellow Pages don’t get a lot of traffic, especially for niche or location-based businesses, and the quality of that traffic is generally much lower than Google.
In fact, the Yellow Pages actually advertize on Google to generate traffic for their website. Then they mark it up and resell it to you, essentially arbitraging the traffic. Instead, I recommend cutting out the middle man. Go straight to Google, set up your own PPC campaign, and be 100% in control.
4. I don’t like my current domain name, so I set up a new, more user-friendly one to redirect there. I’ve noticed that if you Google the old domain name, the search results all take you directly to my site. But the new domain name doesn’t yet. How do I fix that?
I recommend that you don’t. The reality is that no one is directly searching your domain name except you. In Google’s eyes, the original domain name is an established website. Changing it will erode some of the credibility that you’ve already built.
That doesn’t mean your new domain name doesn’t have value. You can still use it for branding purposes on business cards, marketing, your email signature, anywhere, since it redirects to the other site.
If you still feel like it’s an important change to make for branding purposes, be aware that it’s a setback of as much as 3 months’ work. If your top priority is generating leads, keep it as is.
5. I want to be at the top of every search related to my business. Can you make that happen?
Being at the top of every search all the time is not a realistic goal for any business. (And anyone who promises that isn’t being honest with you.) Google is too saturated of a market for you to ever hope you would achieve that without a lot of money.
Instead, a realistic goal is to win on a handful of strategic keywords that generate highly qualified leads for your business and then to convert them. To achieve that, you have the follow 3 principles:
- Target the right people
- Engage them with the right content
- Convert them with the right product or offer
Do that, and you will have a sustainable, quality source of leads that you can grow over time with your business.
5 thoughts on “Cutting to the Chase: Straight Answers to 5 Internet Marketing Questions from Businesses”
This is a great blog post, Tom. I think it would be interesting to see a series just like this where you answer real internet marketing questions from business owners every week/month. It’s helpful to get straight forward, easy to understand answers to these types of questions.
Just what I was looking for. I keep going back and forth about whether or not to shell out the money for Yext. I think I found my answer.
I have a different (but related question): Is there any point these days to seeking website directory listings?
Sandra, thanks for the question. The way Google and others determine whether a business is valid is by using the NAP, Name Address Phone. It’s like your businesses unique identifier, like a digital fingerprint. The more references to these NAP’s, called a “citation” that are found the more convinced google becomes that this is your real business and therefore it goes up in value. So the SEO value is in the fact that you have many citations all saying the same thing in relation to the NAP. This is one of the reasons it’s important to have your Name, Address, and Phone Number on your website.
Your fifth point is so true. It’s easy to want to rank #1 for every keyword you can think of. It wasn’t until I started narrowing my efforts that I gained any traction with my SEO efforts.