How to get higher rankings on Google local business listings online

If you own a website, ‘how to rank higher on Google’ probably makes for one of your most common searches, ironically enough. Webmasters are always looking to leapfrog their competition, but if your website is the front page of a well-run business, you absolutely NEED to get those rankings.

While search engine placement is important enough already, a business’ individual ranking in Google Places a.k.a. Google local business listings matters even more – you want to rank at the top of the business listings in your area and even impose a little on the areas around you. Here’s how to do it.

Getting Google to like you more

While we can go on and on about Google’s complexity, it’s still a machine that follows the same principles its coders imbued it with: look for established and popular websites and rank them higher.

Therefore, you want your business to look that way to Google no matter its current state. Start by editing the Google Places page itself: provide enough information on how to contact you and what your working hours are and don’t forget to line up the Places name of your business with its listings on the web.

The last part is especially important: Google, the almighty website, turns to other websites to know more about an individual site. Your Google Places business name should be the exact name you’re using in the Yellow Pages and various other listings sites – all of these citations should be aligned to the letter in order to avoid confusing the search engine.

If you’re juggling several business names or locations across various places on the internet, be prepared to do some searching and reaching out in order to set everything straight. Remember: a business that seems to have everything in order will automatically rank higher with Google’s listings, so figuring out how Google gives good grades is a hugely-important part of ranking any website.

Getting Google to think people like you

Google can get you more visitors than any other website on the internet can. There’s only one problem: it needs to believe your website offers something positive and worth returning to.

One of the safest and most effective ways of accomplishing this is to get good reviews on your Google Places page. Of course, easier said than done – lots of people can’t bother writing online reviews and those that do often prefer sites like Yelp to Google’s own service.

You’ll have to decide whether you want reviews from actual customers or simply those that are ‘SEO-optimized’, to put it nicely. No matter how the review came about, as long as Google can verify your reviewers as actual people with a normal online profile, your business listing will go way up.

Ideally, since every additional review helps gain a bit more recognition, your reviews will come from several sources: customers who were asked to write them, friends and family who have gotten the same request and as ‘outside assistance’ by SEO specialists, if you can get it. Be wary of shady practices, though – Google’s always had a knack of catching up to these, and they’re only getting better by the minute.

3 great must read online marketing books

Nothing like a good read even in this advanced day and age – if the read in question can help you make more money, all the better!

There are plenty of supposed marketing gurus out there who claim that their insights are supreme, but are they really? If you’d like to stick with tried and true content that has been proven to work, here’s an overview of 3 great must read online marketing books and what you can learn from them.

Must Read Online Marketing Books

Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger: The internet has a funny way of giving things new meaning: while the word ‘contagion’ will be met with fear and concern in real life, it’s one of the most sought-after commodities on the internet. If you’re marketing anything online, you’ve probably spent a good amount of time trying to understand why things go ‘viral’ (and, more than likely, how you can get something of yours to). Berger’s book tries to explain this phenomenon of deceptive complexity – it can almost feel as if you could spend your entire life trying to get something to go viral and not be able to. Still, with Berger’s tome in hand, your chances are much better – you might not be able to get a billion likes, but you’ll gain a thorough understanding of how to cater to the masses.

The Culting of Brands by Douglas Atkin: Here’s another scary word that will probably have you running for the hills: cult. Nobody likes cults nor being around one, yet few would argue that getting your brand to reach cult-like status is good for business. In his book, Atkin goes over why some brands are elevated above others time and again, taking the time to examine why people will live and die by certain brands even after they’ve done them wrong. Most forms of viral exposure present nothing new or breathtaking to consumers and yet still manage to get a massive following: why? You might not be able to instantly apply the things you’ve read in this book – after all, building any worthwhile brand takes time. The knowledge will stick with you, though, and will likely come out when it stands to make a big difference.

Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares: Want something less abstract and more hands-on? Consider Traction as your reading of choice: as opposed to exploring deep ideas about marketing and salesmanship, Traction instead focuses on getting good results with your products or services no matter what they are. If you’re looking for knowledge you can apply right off the bat, Traction has it plenty – the book’s no-nonsense approach boasts 19 different ‘channels’ through which you can launch your money-maker. As one would expect from successful businessmen and economists, Weinberg and Mares understand that, at the end of the day, it’s not so much about ideas and beliefs as it is about results. Traction is about as goal-oriented as a marketing book can get – reading it should allow your business to reach new heights so long as you aren’t hesitant about applying the knowledge.

Pros and cons of using Yelp advertising

Those visiting Yelp for the first time (or the first couple of times) might deem the site’s owners as altruistic: such a useful service consisting solely of user reviews and without any monetization scheme to it,?

Yet upon further inspection, it becomes clear that Yelp’s owners are well-aware of their need to put food on the table: the site features a form of advertisement that, while not quite as in-your-face as Flash-based neon signs, ranks among the most powerful on the web. But should you use it?

The pros of Yelp advertising

As you might have imagined, one of the biggest benefits to advertising on Yelp is… well, that it’s Yelp! The site is considered as the most important of its kind, overshadowing Google Places and the like for reasons known only to the traffic gods.

Therefore, it certainly pays to have an ad on Yelp, and you won’t have to worry about it not being seen. In fact, this brings us to why Yelp advertising works even better than it should: ads aren’t very overt and are often featured on the pages of your direct competitors.

Yelp ads aren’t too eager to show themselves as such. Instead, they’re perfectly content to appear as natural search results for a business in an area while taking first and second place based on advertisement money alone.

And can you really get much better than having your ads featured on the pages of your competitors? Yelp is pretty open about facilitating this, and you’d do well to make use of these less-than-exemplary methods – it’s a war out there for each and every customer, after all.

This video explains why Yelp ads work from a dental practice perspective. Clearly, even a single venture into Yelp’s advertising can help your business a ton: become a mainstay on your competitors’ pages and at the top of people’s search results and you’re headed for great things. With that said, there are certainly drawbacks to this form of marketing.

Why you might not want to advertise on Yelp

We’ve said a good deal about what makes Yelp advertisement work. But really, whom is it working for? Most prominently, the owners of the site – the rest are just playing ball.

Yelp’s status as the premier review site on the internet almost creates a need to advertise with them. Why? Even if you have the greatest business, how can you compete with others who are paying to get listed above you? And what about the actual business page: no matter how good your reviews are, can you really afford to have competitors advertise their services on your page?

And so, the issue with Yelp becomes clear: instead of choosing the site with no repercussions either way, business owners are, in a sense, forced to participate.

Yelp’s advertising costs are high and their model certainly isn’t going to be winning any awards for fair play. If you don’t want to feel like your brand is being used to line someone’s pockets, you can always choose to forgo Yelp ads altogether: sure, your competitors will gain more exposure, but plenty of business owners out there would argue that it’s nothing that hard work can’t fix.

How to market your business online in Dallas, TX

The saying ‘less is more’ definitely holds true in terms of online marketing: even the slightest movement in the right direction can make a huge impact in a short amount of time.

True as this may be, being one of Texas’ biggest and most modern cities, Dallas can make the life of any business owner difficult – with so much competition out there, how does a fresh business make enough of an impact? And what about mistakes – does making one mean you’re getting blacklisted, what with all the alternatives?

In reality, it’s pretty simple: getting a good presence for your Dallas business online means going to work on those pesky search engines and milking them for all they’re worth.

Marketing a business online

Much of what online business marketing is about comes down to search engine rankings: if you can’t rank, you probably aren’t selling as much as you could. But to start ranking, you’ll need to start marketing your business to others first.

There are plenty of ways to do this: as far as starting from scratch goes, the internet gives you as good of a chance as anything else. Always start by getting yourself listed on as many free and established listings sites as possible – the more yellow pages Google sees you on, the higher you’ll rank in return.

Past that, you can opt for one of the many forms of advertisement available online. Google and Facebook stand out as the most prominent options: even a smaller campaign that focuses on Google ads can have huge long-term benefits on your business. Unfortunately, having a big website means everyone wants to advertise on it – as a result, there’s plenty of competition between Google and Facebook advertisers even when working inside of a lenient niche.

Putting together an effort

As convenient as they are, Google and Facebook ads won’t be the bread and butter of your online marketing. No, you’ll have to come up with your very own marketing strategy: finding something that separates you from the crowd and sticking to it.

Are you a Dallas wedding planner who pays special attention to detail and guarantees that the big city won’t swallow up any marital quaintness? Go ahead and advertise your services as such, then – instead of blandly spreading word of your business name, add a personalized touch to the whole affair.

Once you’ve gotten better at giving yourself the right appearance, consider making a note on some of the more specific locations that can propel a business. Take Yelp advertisements: while they’re undoubtedly effective, their power comes from the advertiser’s ability to enforce an image every bit as much as from their generous placement. The same amount of advertising money could net you much greater results if you took the time to invest in your brand before running your campaign.

And that brings us to a simple fact about marketing that holds true online and offline: the best and most successful efforts often don’t ask for much more than your time. If you’re seen making an effort to became known pro bono and based on the novelty of your services, you’ll enjoy better marketing rewards than if you simply tried to pour big bucks into sponsored ads.