Every day more and more customers are using the internet to satisfy their needs. According to recent studies, over 80% of US consumers chose the internet as their preferred media channel to find what they are looking for, which includes about 40% of consumers who said that they use their mobile device for local search. The reason? Simple – the internet offers dynamic, real-time information; customers are now just c lick away from having a technician at their house to diagnose the problem. So what does this all mean for you? It means that traditional forms of local advertising, such as print Yellowpages and newspaper ads, have become less significant and much less cost-effective, and that in order to be competitive in today’s marketplace, local businesses MUST have a strong web presence. Of course, one big question for any local business owner is: where on the internet should you be advertising?
The typical approach a customer takes when searching online is using a search engine, of which Google is the leader, followed by Bing and Yahoo. There are two different ways to go about advertising yourself on search engines: through the organic, or natural search results, and through the paid search results, which are the featured search results highlighted at the top and side of the page. A common misconception is that in order to have a good presence online, that you must have a website. This is NOT the case. A nice, easy-to-navigate website is a great tool to have, but it is also a very difficult thing to build yourself and it is quite expensive to outsource. More importantly, a good website is not worth anything to your business unless you are successfully driving the right traffic to it.
In order to do that, you will either have to optimize your website so that it ranks highly in the organic search results, or you will need to bid a lot of money on clicks to drive traffic through the paid search results. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving your natural search rank, which is achieved through a combination of practices in improving the content and design of your website. It is somewhat complicated, expensive to hire a company to do for you, and takes time before you will see results. The issue for a local business in achieving high rank and driving traffic through the paid search is that it is very expensive, and for that reason is much easier for larger companies or advertising companies who represent many businesses within the appliance industry to achieve.
So where do you get started? Well the goal in your online efforts is clear: you want new customers in your service area who need an appliance repaired to be finding your business and picking up the phone and calling you about it. My recommendation? First, take advantage of every free listing available to you online, which includes getting your name out there through social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook. But you must realize that these free listings are not going to get you the results that you should be looking for; studies show that 78% of searchers click on the first or second result that they find, so you better believe publishers are not just giving away those listings. For that reason, it is wise to spend your advertising dollars to get listed all over the internet. Different searches are going to yield different results and it is impossible to have one website or to get listed on one directory that is going to be optimized for all of the searches that you want to drive traffic for. Also, try different things, and analyze your results; different businesses have varying levels of success through different advertising formats, you need to find what works best for you.
Good luck with your research and with all of your online advertising efforts.