GDPR: What’s All the Fuss, it Doesn’t Affect Me, Right?

The short answer is–WRONG, you are more likely to be affected than not!

Be forewarned, this is a lengthy post…but since the GDPR has weighty consequences, it deserves it–and there is no hiding from it!

no hiding from GDPR

My Business is US Based so GDPR is Irrelevant

You live in the US, and your business is based in the US. You don’t market to people in other countries. So you may be thinking, understandably so, that you don’t have to worry about GDPR.

Sadly, you would be wrong. red buzzer equals GDPR wrong answer

My personal disclaimer: Let me start off by saying, I am not a lawyer.  I never even played one on television. So, after reading this you have legal-type questions, please contact your attorney.


OK, not that that is over with, let’s start off with what GDPR is, because since you probably thought it didn’t affect you, you might have glossed over it.

What is GDPR?

GDPR stands for the General Data Protection Regulation.

It is law that was passed by the European Union (EU), but don’t let that stop you—because, believe it or not, it just might impact your business.

(If after reading this post, you want more info, you can go to the European Commission’s Principles of the GDPR.)

Just Whose Data is Being Protected?

OK, so the law is about Data Protection, but what data and whose? European Economic Area

The regulation is intended to protect individuals who live in the European Economic Area (EEA)*.

It gives people some protection and control over what personal information is collected by businesses online, and how it is stored and used.

Notice that we said ‘individuals who live in’ not citizens.

What Data is Protected

“Personal Data” is the term they use, but what does that really mean?

Some things that are protected are fairly obviously, like a person’s name, address, email address, credit card information and the like.

But this regulation also covers things that can identify an individual “indirectly.”

That would be things like a person’s IP address, because that IP address actually identifies every computer. IP stands for Internet Protocol. And an IP address is a unique string of numbers. That number is linked to everything you do online. You don’t have control over your IP address, so there’s no need to memorize it.

A person’s IP address, unlike their home address, changes. The address is assigned by your Internet service provider. If you are using a different network (like when you’re surfing the web while waiting for your car to be washed, or checking your email from your remote office, AKA the local coffee shop), you will be assigned a different IP address. Even at home your IP address can, and frequently does change.

(Click to read more about IP addresses)

What Businesses does GDPR Apply to:

The GDPR applies to ‘Data Controllers’ and ‘Data Processors

Data Controller: someone/entity that determines if you will collect data and what data you will collect.

Data Processor: the entity or application that processes or stores the data on behalf of a controller.

Most internet marketers are therefore Data Controllers. Some may also be processors, but most will probably engage other entities or applications as data processors.

red buzzer equals GDPR wrong answerMy Business is Small, Surely I’m Exempt

Wrong Answer. Size doesn’t matter if you collect or process personal data,

But I Don’t Target Europeans

Unfortunately, your intentions don’t actually seem to matter. This is about the end-user’s location, not you or your business.

Non-EU based businesses are required to comply with the GDPR if that business “collects or processes” any EU residents’ personal data.

I Don’t Charge Anything on My Site, So I’m Good  GDPR is in effect whether you charge money or not

Wrong, again. There is no requirement under the GDPR that money must change hands.

When Does it Go into Effect?

May 25, 2018

Why is this Happening?

Let’s face it, people are pretty pissed off that some of the big businesses have collected our personal data and abused it.

woman angry at how personal data was used

Those big guys have the staffing, the lawyers, and the bucks to cover their bases. Good for the consumer, but it still leaves smaller businesses with a huge burden to protect people—even though they never abused anyone’s info in the first place.

Penalties and Enforcement

The fines for not complying a pretty hefty: up to 4% of a company’s global turnover. The exact amount would be determined based on how bad the violation was.

How this regulation will be, well, regulated, and enforced is not clear.

What Do I Need to Do to be Compliant?

GDPR compliance checklist

This regulation may require you make some significant changes on how you obtain consent, who you collect and store personal data, and your disclosures.

Consent: you must obtain “explicit consent” before you collect personal data from an EU resident. Consent must be voluntary, specific, informed and unambiguous.

That means a several things to marketers

  • You can’t pre-tick boxes for people, or presume that by using your site someone agrees. You must require they take an action in order to agree.
  • The language has got to be clear and understandable. And it can’t be buried in a bunch of legalize—it needs to actually be separate from other terms and conditions.
  • You must specify what data you are collecting or processing and what will be done with that data.
  • You must identify any third-party controllers or processors that will be using that data
  • You must explain how a person can later withdraw their consent
  • You should avoid making consent a precondition of service
  • You must keep records of the consent (even if this wasn’t required, you would want to do this, because it would be how you would defend yourself should the need ever arise.)
  • If you will use data for more than one purpose, you must inform the user of each use and allow them to accept or reject each use individually.
  • Parental approval is needed before collecting data on children under the age of 16

What Data Do You Collect?

businesses collect and store personal data

Start by figuring out what data you actually collect.

Ex: Names, email address, IP address, mailing address, payment info

Where did that data come from?

Ex: an opt-in form, Google Analytics, a comment area, a contact us page

Do you share that data with anyone?

Ex: email client, credit card processing company, website hosting company, a cloud storage server, a company that you are an affiliate for, a company that serves of personalized information (such as retargeting ads) on your website

Do you currently have any data on an EEA resident?

If you do, did you get ‘explicit consent’ or do you need to do that now?

Change Your Privacy Policy GDPR requires security of personal data

Make sure your privacy policy is up to date and addresses the GDPR. You have probably been getting a lot of emails from businesses about their updated privacy policies. You might take a look at those to see how they are handling it.

In the privacy policy you should disclose the data you collect and how it is used, and if you share it with anyone. Also include how a person can rescind their permission.

Keep in mind, the privacy policy is important, but it is NOT in place of getting informed consent.

Change How You Get Consent

Once you know what data you collect and how it is used, you can now create forms, opt-in boxes, etc that lay it all out there.

Allow the user to check one, several, all, or none of the boxes giving consent accordingly.

Be Sure to Check These Easily Overlooked Areas of Your Site/Business often overlooked areas affected by GDPR

Analytics: Most marketers use some sort of analytics in order to determine where their traffic is coming from, and how well their efforts are working. The GDPR doesn’t mean that you cannot do this, but you may have to make a few tweaks

GDPR cookie consent example

to your collection.

You can make the data anonymous (including not tracking IP addresses) before it is stored or processed.

OR you can add an overlay to the site that 1) gives notice that your site uses cookies, 2) what the cookies are used for and 3) requires the user to take an action to give consent prior to entering your site.

Here is an example of an overlay that gives informed consent about the use of cookies. This example is from the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office, page on GDPR FAQs for small organisations (sic)

Tracking Pixels, Retargeting Ads: If you use retargeting ads, you must inform users when they enter your site and obtain informed consent before they enter your site. This includes using Facebook’s tracking pixel.

Sponsored or Guest Content: anyone who publishes content (editorial or advertising) on your site must also be GDPR compliant. So check it out before you publish.

Email Lists: Have a checkbox (unticked) that the visitor must check to indicate consent. Your opt-in form may have several checkboxes.

If you use tracking pixels in your email campaigns (commonly used to see if/when someone opens an email) you must list that expressly before they subscribe to your list.

Your email service provider should give you the tools you need in order for your emails to be GDPR compliant—but it will be up to you to use the tools.

Affiliate Links: Get consent for cookies—it can be on a post, a page, or an overlay, but it must be before a website visitor clicks the actual affiliate link.

Display Ads: If your site displays ads from a third-party, you must get consent from site visitors immediately—before they actually enter your site. The consent might be that this third-party is colleting data for advertising and marketing purposes, but if they gather data for more personalized targeting that should be specified.

GDPR and contact forms

Contact Forms: Hey, we think it should be self-evident that if a person is requesting you contact them that they are giving permission for you to collect their data. But, apparently it isn’t. Are you storing the data? How will it be used? What data are you collecting and why? Bottom line, include the disclaimer and get explicit consent.

Website Plugins: If your website uses plugins, it is your responsibility to ensure that the plugin developers are also GDPR compliant. The good news is that’s guidelines prohibit approved plugins (on the directory) from tracking users without their clear consent. Keep in mind however, that just because a plugin WAS on the directory when you installed it, it doesn’t mean that it STILL is.

Webinars: If you are a guest on a webinar or other web-based event, be sure that your host is using GDPR compliant tools. If you are the host, and you share your data with a guest, you must ensure that the guest is GDPR compliant.

Live Events: GDPR is not strictly for web events. If you attend a live event and collect data, you still must follow the GDPR.

Other Marketing Efforts: do you have or buy a list for mailing, phoning, or email marketing? Those all fall under the jurisdiction of the GDPR as well.

Security: Keep in mind that everything you have done to protect data in the past is also affected by the GDPR. This includes, but is not limited to off-line storage (do you back up to a different hard drive, or to a thumbdrive or CD?), malware protection software, cyber security software…

Help Managing GDPR GDPR compliance help

There are some checklists that can help you make sure you are in compliance, and if not, the steps you need to take in order to get there. Check out these at and you might want to check out their 12 steps to take now info here.

Plugins: There are WordPress plugins that are touted as being able to help businesses manage data and be GDPR compliant. We are not, at this time, vouching for any specifically.

Email: contact your email service provider to be sure they offer the tools you need

Hosting company: check with your webhost to be sure they are GDPR compliant

Forms: if you use any kind of forms, check with that provider to be sure they are GDPR compliant

Storage: where do you store data? Is it GDPR compliant?

Final Thoughts on GDPR

GDPR and future for business

Quick recap: any business, even those based in the USA, must obtain explicit consent from any resident of the EEA prior to collecting any data that could identify them, either directly or indirectly.

Although the GDPR is an EU regulation, it wouldn’t surprise us if something similar comes down from other countries. So, if you decide you are not going to protect data now, you may be required to do so in the future.

We pulled information from a variety of sources for this post in order to better understand the ramifications of the GDPR for us, our clients, and readers. This is not necessarily the ‘final word’ on the topic, and there are many other sources of information that may provide similar info and advice—or advice that contradicts our conclusions. We cannot tell every business owner what is right for their business; this is general information that should help you make an informed decision about what your next step(s) should be.

*Residents of the following Countries Covered by the GDPR: The EEA includes all countries in the EU (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK—at least for now), and also includes Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. Switzerland’s residents may, or may not be covered, that is unclear.

Map of the European Economic Area from Wikipedia

Google Changes for Local Business (Yes, Again)

Google+ and Social Media Walls Tumbling Down for Local Business

Read the latest on changes the Google+ is making and how it might affect your local business:

Google Mobile searchimage

Google Now Crawls Facebook

It has now been announced that Facebook is “allowing Google to crawl and index its mobile app.”

What does this mean for your local business? It means that Google Search results on Android devices will begin to show more Facebook information.

This is currently only in Beta and only available for Android devices, but if a customer or potential customer is using Google to search for something you carry, it is now possible that if you talked about it on Facebook it might show up in their search results.

Facebook logo

Not only could it show up, there will be a link that will take them directly to the Facebook app.

Of course not every status update you make on Facebook will be indexed. Currently there is only a small percentage of Facebook information that is being indexed.

As is the case with all Google searches (mobile and desktop) pages with higher authority will be more likely to be indexed and served up.

Facebook claims that your PRIVATE info will not be indexed.

web search

While it is too early to tell, there may be some added benefits for local businesses in terms of mobile search results.

This could bring more non-Facebook users to your FB page. It could also bring people in who are FB users, but not currently logged into their FB page.

One of the theories behind this shift is that Google has lost ground in the mobile search arena. Earlier this year they announced a deal with Twitter for search. Now Facebook. It may be that the social media walls are beginning to crumble, allowing for some transparency between the platforms.

Then again, this could all go away as Facebook improves its own search engine.

What should I do?

  • Keep posting on your Facebook page, talking about services/products/events that are important to you, your business, and your community.
  • Make sure your profile is optimized.
  • Optimize your Facebook pages.
  • Keep posting on other social media platforms that fit your business and community.

Google+ Redesigned


There have been rumors flying around for quite some time that Google was going to get rid of the Google+ pages.

While it doesn’t yet look like our local business pages (no matter what Google decides to call them) are going to disappear completely, we are seeing changes in the structure.

If you have logged into your page lately you probably will have noticed the change already. Touted as being simpler to use and more mobile-friendly, the big shift is that “Communities” and “Collections” are now the focus.

They are separating functions, removing things like Hangouts. G+ is also moving away from connecting with other people, in a Facebook sort of way.

You can still have a Google+ profile, but we are told that will be migrating to a generic profile called “About Me.” Anyone can create an About Me profile, and the G+ profile will not be a requirement for commenting on YouTube videos and the like.

What does this mean for my local business?

Don’t panic if something that you used to have on your business page seems to have disappeared. It may come back.

We will have to wait to see what the future brings on all things Google. It may be that we will start to make updates on an About Me page rather than G+.

What are communities?

They are like groups in Facebook. You (personally or your business) can join various communities which are centered on specific topics. The groups may be private or open. You can choose whether or not you want your membership in a group to be public on your profile or not.

What are collections?

Collections are a place where you can curate content. Similar to Pinterest with content not just pictures. Other people can follow (subscribe) to one or more of your collections.

So if you have a business that sells two (or more) distinct product lines, you could create a collection for each. If you are a hair salon, as an example, you might have a collection on hair styles and another on hair care products. A furniture company might have a collections based on rooms such as bedroom, living room and dining room. A candy company might have collections based on types of sweets, such as chocolates, hard candies, and chewy candies.

What should I do?

Don’t panic. Don’t despair. Don’t dump your Google+ pages. Remember, Google+ is part of Google and therefore connected tightly with Google Search.

This is a beta test. Google moves in waves, so you may not even see a difference yet. Even when/if you do, it might not last.

  • Become familiar with collections.
  • Think about how to create your own collections. This is where you will be posting ultimately if things go the way Google says it will. The content you post in your collections will be indexed.
  • Keep your profile current and optimized, but make sure your website and Facebook pages are as well.

Remember, Google seems to like to make changes for local businesses. In the end, their goal is to provide a good experience for their users. Those users are the people who are searching for your business! Does Google always get it perfect? Nope, but they do seem to be willing to say “mea culpe” and try to fix it.

Focus on your business. Use the tools you have that are working for you. Learn some new ones if you don’t have enough business or have mastered those.

Don’t try to know it all–be willing to admit that just maybe you aren’t perfect at it all either, and reach out for help if you need it.


Thanks to Social Media Examiner and Silicon Valley Business Journal for the intel!

Buying Domain Names for Products and Brands

Internet Advertising that Works the TANKShould a local business buy a separate domain name for every product or brand they carry?

It would seem like a simple question. For most retailers this would be impractical if not impossible.

There are times when having multiple domain names is a really good idea.

If you are the creator/manufacturer/owner of a brand or product then by all means you should have that domain name for those items. Even if it means you own a lot of names.

Owning the domain name doesn’t mean you actually have to build the site–although you might want to. What it does do for  is prevent someone else from scooping up the website and stealing visitors. Whether it is a competitor or just someone looking to benefit from your marketing, you don’t want to lose that internet traffic.

Case in point, recently on the television show Shark Tank some entrepreneurs were encouraged to change the name of their product. Now, I disagreed with the advice they were given, but that is a different story. What was the real travesty was that they got all this great publicity from the television show–but never bought the domain name. Instead a couple other people did and got a lot of free traffic! Fortunately for these entrepreneurs the websites had no relation to their business at all so it was clear to anyone who landed there that there was a mistake.

You love your existing site and just want to create a new page for your product–that’s fine, but still plunk down the few dollars it will take to secure the name. Then have your webmaster redirect the new domain to point wherever you want it to…your existing home page, a new product page, whatever. You keep all the traffic and all your marketing efforts are for your benefit.

With a little planning your website doesn’t have to tank.

Hosting Your Local Business Website

I’ve had a lot of people ask about websites lately–specifically, where to host their website.

As the saying goes, nothing in this world is certain except death and taxes. Therefore I will preface this post with caveat there is not one right answer for every business, not even smaller, local businesses.

With that disclaiInternet Advertising That Worksmer out of the way, I will tell you what I generally advise clients (and anyone who asks.)

It is a good idea to own your own website. That means you have purchased the domain name rather than relying on a free site.

Fortunately, that is not usually a big expense. If your exact business name is not available as a domain name ( then there are some options, but if possible, secure your name. There may be reasons that we would advise buying other domain names (instead or in addition to your business name)–but that should be handled on a case-by-case basis. A domain name typically costs less than $10 a year to buy and renew. There will be plenty of people who want to charge you a lot more–but before you plunk down your hard earned money, realize that it probably isn’t necessary.

A domain name is great, but it doesn’t do you any good all by itself. You have to have “hosting.” Webhosting is a service that you must pay for to have your domain actually online. Think of it like renting a storefront. You can have a great business name, but if you want to have customers buy from you, you need your store. The webhosting is like the building. Once you have the building, you fill it with items to sell and your decorate it. That is comparable to building the website–you decide what you want on the site and how you want it to look. You determine how you will interact with your customers, what the function of the site is, etc.

Now that we are clear on the basic terminology, let’s get back to webhosting. You have many different options when it comes to hosting your website.

You can have your website hosted for free, but for most businesses it is worth spending the money to have the website hosted elsewhere. Some companies will provide a domain name as part of their webhosting service. Many companies will offer an affordable package that gives you a domain name, hosting, and designing for a low monthly fee. This may be the right option for your business, either in the beginning or long term. It may also be a terrible choice for your business. Knowing what purpose your website will have can help determine your hosting needs and what is your best internet solution. These may change and grown over time, and you can’t possibly know everything that you will ever need in a website. Don’t worry too much about what your business will look in 5 years, at least not for your website. Focus on what you need right now, and what you envision for the upcoming year.

The exact cost of web hosting will depend on how much “cyber-space” you will be using. Similar to the size of your storefront, the more bandwidth and disc size you need, the more hosting will cost you. Most local businesses will not need to spend thousands to have a website. But if you host a lot of videos directly on your site, you will need more space than someone who has a lot of still photos. Will you be making sales on your site? Will people have to login to access your site or will all the content be open to anyone? Are you planning on collecting email addresses or other personal information on your site? All of these things impact how your site will be built–and the type of security and hosting that you might need.

Internet Advertising That Works As your online presence grows and you get more visitors, you may need to boost your hosting package, especially if you sell products online, so choose a hosting company that will allow you to grow over time. Sure, you can change hosting companies later, but it is often easier (not to mention less expensive) to upgrade rather than actually move your site. That doesn’t mean you should feel trapped paying for a lot of services that you don’t currently, or may never, need. You wouldn’t rent a store that is 10,000 square feet if you only need 1,000 right? Pay for what fits for the near future and hopefully you will be able to expand where you are…but you can always pack up and move if you need to.

When looking at hosting your website, you want to choose a company that has good reliability. Just like you don’t want to have the lights go off while customers are in your store, you want your website up when people are looking for you–and that can be a lot more hours than your brick and mortar store is open. You don’t want your customers to find your website is down or running too slowly. A minor inconvenience one time may be okay, but people are fickle and they will move on if your site regularly doesn’t meet their needs.

In the old days, it was necessary to know a lot of computer coding in order to build a website. That isn’t the case any more. For most local businesses, simple sites are great. You can do a lot of the work yourself if you want–even if you don’t want to build it, you can do some of the updating. Your website might include a blog or a photo gallery that you update, letting your customers know what you are up to. This can be fun and a great way to engage with your audience, and a way that you can save money.

How much interest you have in working on your website AFTER it is built can also be a consideration in what your site looks like and where it is hosted. If your intention is to engage with your customers and add pictures or a blog, then you don’t want a site that requires a lot of coding to get that done.

Internet Advertising That Works  On the other hand, “simple” sites can have challenges too. Unless you know how to build a website that will do what you want, then your energies may be better spent on other aspects of your business. This is a good time to remember that you don’t have to be a master of everything. Would you attempt to do the electrical work in your building? Or would you give up, throw in the towel on your business because you don’t know how to put up the lights? Would you take the time away from getting your business running to learn how to do the electrical work? Most people wouldn’t, they would hire an electrician or whomever they need to fulfill their vision.

The same should be true for building your website. Find someone you trust to help fulfill your online vision. Let them know your goals for today and the near future. They can help you plan out the best website for your local business, including making recommendations for hosting your website. Just like you will have to direct the electrician where you want the lights to go, and about any special equipment you have so he can be sure you have the proper outlets and power type, you will need to direct your website designers on your needs and desires. Just as a good electrician may advise you to make changes to save money or for safety, your website designer may make suggestions to improve your site–including where to host it to suit your needs.

Hosting your website is part of the puzzle, but an important part. By working with someone who understands your business you can be assured you are getting all the pieces put together so the picture of your business is clear to not only you, but to your customers as well.

Banner Ad Scams Too Good To Be True

Banner Ad ScamsIf you have a website or blog you have probably been hit up by “professionals” who are interested in “helping you” in a variety of ways. Sadly, many of these so-called pros are actually out to scam you. They may be after your money or they may be looking to infect your computer or your website with malware.

I am not an IT expert, I know enough about my computer and coding to get the job done–most of the time. I do have a good sense when something feels squirrelly. One of my sites was hacked once and I can tell you from personal experience that it was a royal PIA to get it cleaned up. Frankly, I don’t understand how people get their jollies this way–that site was not making any money, so it certainly wasn’t to make financial gain!

I digress…as I so often do 😉

The latest came through my contact form. The good news is that I can safely read the messages from my contact form. The other good news is that I was smart enough, awake enough, alert to the possibility enough (you choose the descriptor you think is right) to NOT click on the link.

Whenever I have a question about if something is legitimate I do a simple Google search. And guess what I found this time? Yep, lots of people are reporting this scam.

Here is the content of the message I got (please do not go to the URL listed–I have definitely NOT activated the link, but want you to be able to see the full scam)

Subject:     Contact Form Results
From:    Josephine Bergson <

Josephine Bergson wrote:

My name is Josephine Bergson representing the advertising department of the LLT
Consulting company. We are interested to place ads (banners), of your choice, on
your websites.

Design and sizes can be seen on our website at
Depending on the banner size you choose we can pay up to $950.00/month.

If you are interested to become an advertising partner please let me hear from you.

Kind Regards,
Josephine Bergson


Sounds great, doesn’t it? Too good to be true? That’s because it is!

This might be a great deal, but one of the flags is the dollar amount the are “offering”…but you don’t have to just take my word for it.

Read what a couple IT/high tech guys have to say about this scam (this links ARE active and click away!)

Michael Sheehan AKA HighTechDad:

and Len at Telapost:

Both these guys give good hints on how to determine if what you are being offered is spam. I love this part, do a simple “who is” search and “if the domain is new, registered to a funny name, in a foreign country, renewed recently, and does not belong to a legitimate sounding company you can be sure that the email has ill intentions.” (Thanks Len for that quote).

Also, be realistic, not greedy. If your site doesn’t get significant traffic (yet) then you probably won’t be getting these kinds of offers. If the money seems to good to be true, it probably is.

Clicking on links can load your computer with a malware or trojan. Len stated that he believes this single scam has affected hundreds of machines or more already. If you are one of the unfortunates who did click the link, check these guys out for suggestions on how to clean your machine.

To your successful online business–and pooh on scammers!

Search Tips for Local Businesses: Your Site Name

This is part 5 of a 6 part series on search tips for local businesses

Should Your Site Name be Your Business Name?

Search Tips for Local Businesses: Your site nameFor many businesses, they want their website name to be the same as their business name. And for many this makes sense. Especially if you are a big, well-known brand. Someone looking for a hardware store in your area may just type in the name of one of the big box stores rather than using keywords. In those instances have your site name (your URL) match your business name is important.

If you aren’t a big brand, you might consider using a keyword in your URL, possibly in conjunction with your business name. If your business is specific to a town then you may want to also consider using your town name in your site name. Both of these can help the search engines know what your business is about and where you are located.

When people search for a Mexican restaurant they may not include the town they are looking in. That’s okay, because the search engines are smart and know the IP address the search was made from—and the town that that IP address is located in. It isn’t perfect, but it means that they will tend to serve to the potential customers the Mexican restaurants nearer to them, not ones across the state or country.

By including your town in your URL you can help the search engines serve up your listing to people in your area.

One word of caution—if you have your town in your URL then you do not want to put your town in every page and description. Sometimes that can be misinterpreted by the search engines as “keyword stuffing”

OK, you want to build a brand and therefore you want to have a website with your name, not a keyword based URL. That’s okay. There are ways that you can have your cake and eat it too. By having two URLs you can take advantage of local search strategies and still build your brand and name recognition.

Search Tips for Local Businesses: Reviews

This is the final part of a 6 part series on search tips for local businesses

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews

Search Tips for Local Businesses: reviewsDid I mention reviews?

Reviews = “Social Proof” that your business is real. Positive reviews on a variety of sites, including Google+ are in important part of getting found online. If you think you are doing everything else right and you still are not ranking—take a good, hard look at your reviews.

Do you have reviews with stars? These are extremely powerful. You have to have 5 reviews at the time of this post in order for the stars to show up on Google. So if you don’t have stars, get more reviews. Ask your happy customers to review you on your Google+ page.

Make it easy for people to give you a review. Hand out a postcard or colorful piece of paper letting your customers know where to place a review. Be sure to list the sites that are popular in your area. If Yelp is big where you do business, be sure your Yelp site is up, accurate and give folks that link. Angie’s List big in your town—ditto. Facebook? Whatever service(s) your customers use the most, be sure they are active pages with accurate details, and have those links handy. Whether it is the biggest in the country is not the issue (other than Google—that ALWAYS makes a difference.)

Search Tips for Local Businesses: Content

This is part 4 of a 6 part series on search tips for local businesses

Provide Important Information, AKA “Content”

Search Tips for Local BusinessesWhen you are building your pages pay attention to both the content which is the information ON the page, and the tags and metadata—the information behind the scenes.

Even though some people will claim that the search engines don’t use keywords any longer, that is really a misinterpretation. It is true that keywords have been overused and abused, which has led to changes in how search engines work. But a keyword is at its most basic simply a word. It is a word, or group of words that people use when searching for your business. As long as people use words to search, then keywords will have a place in search engine algorithms.

Think about it this way. Twenty years ago if you wanted to find a place to have dinner you would grab the phone book and look under the restaurants section. “Restaurants” was your main keyword even back then, we just didn’t call it that!

Now, if you had a hankering for great chili rellenos, you would further refine your search and look for “Mexican Restaurants.”

Of course the phone book you grabbed was for your city or town, or neighborhood, right? You wouldn’t be looking in a San Francisco phone book and expect to find a great Mexican restaurant in Phoenix.

That is the importance of the information behind the scenes. By using metadata, tags, and even titling for your posts, pages, and images, you are helping the search engines determine which “phone book” your business belongs in.

Place your most important keyword, like Mexican restaurant, in your titles, images, and descriptions. When you are building your page content, you want it to sound natural, but you also have to create the right road signs so search engines can find you.

Some of your “road signs” will include links. These may be external links that take a reader to another site for additional information. You should also have internal links: links that go from one page of your website to another page on your website. Think of links as another way to help your readers (and the search engines) to find the information that is most important to them.

Are Citations Important for Local Business Success Online?

The short answer to the question, “Are citations important for my local business?” is yes, if you want to have success online.

local business online success

What exactly is a citation?

A citation is when your business name, address, and phone number appears on another site on the internet. There does not have to be any other information about your business to qualify as a citation, but there are many other sites that will give more complete details about your business.

In order for your local business success online to happen consistency is crucial. It is vital that your citations be consistent in the information that they have about your business. Inconsistencies, even minor ones can have an adverse affect on your online success.

There are literally thousands of places where you can have a citation for your business. Opinions differ on whether or not you need to try to go after them all, which is an on-going task as sites come and go. Sometimes it depends on your business, your location, your service area, and the competition that you have online. Like most things, there isn’t a “one size fits all” answer.

If you have a presence online and you are not having success with getting customers through the internet, one place to look is at your citations. If you are not sure how to do that, or if you do not have the time or inclination to spend the time on the computer adding hundreds of citations it is time to call in a professional.

Contact Internet Advertising That Works and we can help get your online citations in line and more customers to your local business.