Many local business owners start off thinking their path to success is paved by being ranked at the top of the search results. Internet marketers will quickly sell this business owner the idea of SEO. Whereby, the marketer will do some magic, by tweaking some keywords on the pages and changing a few things around. He’ll then basically hire slave labor to SPAM the Internet with links to the business owner’s website from blogs, press releases, forums, and other dubious link sources.
Now, there is some truth to this strategy, but there is also a downside and risk. The downside is you’re paying someone money that could be spent elsewhere on other forms of marketing. As a local company, do you really need to be #1 for all search results on the Internet to be successful? The risk is being caught by Google and other search engines, as using “black hat” techniques and demoted or removed from their listings. Last year, The New York Times featured an article about how J.C. Penny was severely penalized by Google for using unscrupulous SEO techniques.
As a local business one of your largest assets can be trust from your clients. To build and maintain that trust, you should focus on real and trustworthy marketing practices. Go social or viral. Build your brand with real customers on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Create a mobile app or get your business on some of the many existing mobile sites and apps like Yelp, Foursquare, and Gowalla.
A spin off on the “black hat” technique, that is actually legitimate: start your own blog. It can be within your current website or on another website. Promote your new products or sales on your blog, and link back to them on your regular website. If you don’t have time to write your own posts, hire someone to write unique and relevant content. You could even offer previous clients a discount in exchange for an informative review, testimonial, or other type of relevant post.
I suggest when you consider your Internet marketing options, consider if the marketer selling you an SEO package has your best interest at heart. Does he want you to be in the number one spot just long enough to collect his big fee, or does he want you to be in the number one spot forever, because all of your real clients are talking about you all over the Internet?