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Small Business, Big Money: The Power of Local Internet Marketing

Local internet marketing — the term seems almost oxymoronic. After all, isn’t part of the allure of marketing online the fact that people from Poughkeepsie to Paris can find your webpage and learn about your business? Well, yes, but if you run a brick and mortar business, how likely is it that people will drive there from Poughkeepsie — much less Paris — no matter how awesome your website is?

Brick-and-mortar businesses can still benefit from internet marketing, but of a very different variety than is used by the infopreneurs, site flippers, and other money-from-nothing gurus of the ‘net. They shouldn’t be targeting broad keywords and trying to snag traffic from other continents — they should be focusing on locale-specific searches, trying to make sure that when someone from Sequim, Washington searches for “lavendar soap”, that their lavender soap making shop it the one that Google displays first.

That’s the essence of local internet marketing — marketing to local people that are using the internet. It seems almost tautological, doesn’t it?

local internet marketingBut for all that it makes sense, local internet marketing isn’t always easy. Depending on the location, “local” might mean a place with 50,000 people, or 5 million — and the more people, the harder you have to work to optimize your site for the search engines. Los Angeles SEO, for example, is a dozen times more competitive than Oregon SEO, which is still two hundred times more competitive than SEO for the aforementioned lavender shop in rural Washington State.

However, once you’ve made it to the top, the profit that comes through the door is astounding. Studies have shown that 70% or more of internet users look up products locally online, and they have a tendency to decide on a business based on their web presence more than on their phone voice or their yellow pages advertisements.

That’s why local internet marketing is so much more effective than an ad in the newspaper or handing out fliers. A properly-performed localized SEO effort will give you more bang for your buck than almost any ‘real-world’ marketing campaign, especially for a small business, and especially in a smaller town. It may be a small business, but with localized SEO services, it can be big, big money.

Affordable SEO, Not Amateur SEO

Affordable SEO is the heart and soul of any startup web-based business. Small businesses don’t have the budget to drop vast quantities of money on pay-per-click marketing — though it is usually smart to spend a bit on it, just to get your income kick-started. In many ways, smart PPC management is the perfect compliment to affordable SEO — you get the income fast from your PPC campaign, you spend it maintaining that campaign and investing in some inexpensive but effective SEO, and eventually, the SEO will take over and the PPC campaign can be dropped.

That’s the fundamental essence of an expert route to success online, actually — find a way to make some consistent money up front, often with pay-per-click marketing or some other method of expensive but high-volume traffic generation, and then use the money you make to create backlinks and other SEO substructure to get your website on the stop of the search engine results pages.

The problem that many webmasters have is that they hire an SEO freelancer for pennies per hour on ODesk or Elance, and then they wonder why it’s been seven months that they’ve been paying for a service and haven’t gotten anything out of it. The answer is that they hired an amateur. It’s possible — and common — for amateurs to spend hundreds of hours doing what seems like valuable SEO work, building backlinks, posting on forums, commenting on blogs, and writing articles, only to get no results at all.

Professional but affordable SEO services might charge a bit more than a freelancer, but the results will be evident from the first week. Professionals know how to perform proper SEO, often utilizing ‘tricks’ that make every effort they put forth perform multiple functions at once — like giving your site a high-quality backlink while also driving traffic to the site to create sales, or writing an article and submitting variations of it in different places that all link back to the main article, driving the article itself up in the search engine results and making it’s effect on your website that much stronger.

The lesson here is simple: when it comes to search engine optimization, not everyone can afford to hire a huge company to work for them and make them king of the hill overnight — but everyone can afford professional SEO services if they know where to look, and anything less is just a waste of time and money.

Organic SEO is Like Organic Food for Your Website

Organic SEO is, at heart, the practice of creating the circumstances that will make Google and other search engines show your webpage on their front page. It’s an absolutely vital practice to the success of any long-term web-based business — in a very real way, if you’re not getting natural traffic, your website isn’t healthy — it’s on life support.

Like a healthy diet of organic food, organic SEO doesn’t have instantaneous effects — the goodness builds up over time. No one expects that if they stop eating Happy Meals and start eating right, they’re going to magically become perfectly healthy overnight — it’s implicitly understood that building a healthy body takes time and continuous effort. Organic SEO is exactly the same.

organicSimilarly, like eating right, Organic SEO has some of the most profoundly positive effects on your business of any of the practices you could engage in. When you eat right and overcome your health problems, you wake up every morning feeling energized and ready to take on the world. When you have powerful backlinks driving your page to the top of the search engines, you wake up every morning to learn that you’ve gotten another thousand visitors, few hundred conversions, and dozens of sales overnight, and you’re ready to pay bills, set some aside for a rainy day, and go out for a night on the town.

For a small business SEO is even more important, because the budget is that much tighter and the profit margins are that much more critical. SEO represents that investment into your future, without which your business will be permanently hooked on ‘fast food’ — by which I mean paying for banner space, classified ads, and other expensive, less-focused traffic.

Like McDonalds, these alternate traffic sources are fast, easy, and they claim to be cheap — but in reality, in the long run, they cost you so much more than doing things right. Just like eating junk will eventually cost you more in medical bills than you could possibly save on your monthly food bill, paid traffic will always eventually catch up to you, wallet-wise, as your conversions suffer.

Far better to ‘eat right’ from the get-go, and achieve a truly healthy web-based business sooner rather than later.