Promoting Local Business Basics

Recently, I was asked to help promote a local brick and mortar business’ website. They needed more traffic from their local community, especially during the end-of-year holidays. I said, “sure; I’d be glad to!” Making an already appealing site even friendlier to local search is basic web 101, right? They’ve earned some top Yelp reviews on their own, and it’s a nicely done site.

I was given the site’s passwords, and popped inside to check on the first page’s keywords. Wait a minute. The keywords had nothing do with this business. Why would they have entered, “Vera, Wang,” for example, when they don’t sell women’s clothes? Those were the keywords used for his first page. In fact, the entire site’s keywords would confuse anyone, much less a search engine. I began to understand his low page ranking.

Fundamental Skills are Best

Site Pro News teaches us to thoughtfully submit sites to the directories, pay attention to relevant keywords and, in general, help share our good content effectively. Since my client’s professionally created site had been online for a few years, I thought the basics were done, and fine-tuning would be a simple task. The “promotion guys” charged my client $1,500 per month for several months. The site was verified by Google Analytics, but I couldn’t find it in the Open Source Directory, or any of the backbone directory sites of the Web. Facebook and Twitter accounts existed, but weren’t optimized, either.

I documented the current page rankings for my new client. Since he’s a specialist in another area, he trusts others to take care of his Web presence. I showed him the lame keywords, and we talked about his poor search results. He nodded his head; he knew his search results should be better, so he had fired his “web positioning guys” several months ago. He’d been surviving on his original site content since their departure. Now, his business was starving for new growth.

Protect Your Golden Goose

If you’re lucky enough to land a client paying you $1,500 per month, don’t kill your Goose that Laid the Golden Egg. Just like planning for Thanksgiving dinner, it’s the basics that will make the best meals. Would you forget to serve mashed potatoes and gravy at Christmas? Take the time to enter your client’s domain in the basics anchors of the Web, such as the Open Source Directory, and the rest of the search engines listed. Don’t be dazzled by the buzz of a Twitter account, or a Facebook page, and short-change your client. Be sure to go back, and check your entry; did the phone number appear correctly, or do you need to fix it? Care about your client. If you don’t plan and set the table properly, everyone will go hungry later.

Because I’ve been building sites since 1996, I always begin a site’s promotion with basic site submission; leaving social media for last. If your page views aren’t improving as you expect, this is where you should check first. You may find it has never been done. If the Web can find the site, then the business will at least be found by it’s neighbors; social media enabled, or not. My client’s “web gurus” promoted their expertise with social media; but ignored the basics, and weren’t able to deliver the traffic they promised. Like the boy in the fairy tale looking for the golden eggs, they killed their own Golden Goose!

Rewards for All

After re-working his entire Web presence from scratch, I have new respect for what I’ve learned during my years of building and promoting websites. “Basic webmaster skills” learned here on SiteProNews, are critical anchors for any site’s successful social media efforts.

Four weeks later, we’re dominating the search engine results, the phone is busier, and our page views keep climbing. Any local searcher can find us easily, and that’s just what was needed.

When his colleague asked me how I did it, I told him, “I planned carefully for our success, just like planning a Holiday dinner.” My resurrected, “Golden Goose” client, tossed me a broad smile over his shoulder, as he reached for his ringing phone.

*This article first appeared on SiteProNews on November 22, 2012

Stacey Mayer became a webmaster in 1996, when she began AWhiteHorse.com,™ a horse lover’s portal. Her equine coloring books soon made it one of the most popular equestrian destinations on the web. Today, she uses her experience promoting local businesses with friendly and informative blogs, featuring her award-winning artwork.