At the end of this post I give instructions on receiving a free review of your Wisconsin small business website that includes actions you can do yourself.
Does your website make you money or cost you money?
Many business owners, especially those starting out view their website as a necessary cost of doing business. Nothing could be further from the truth. Websites are your storefront in today's digital age and should present your products and services in the best possible light, and make it easy for clients and potential clients to learn about you and your value proposition.
If your website isn't bringing in business and you want to grow, it needs to change, and the sooner you take action, the better it is for you, and worse for your competitors.
Isn't Facebook all I need? Facebook is all but essential, and if your business isn't there, you're missing out, albeit if that's all your entire marketing effort, you're missing out.
I get clients through Facebook, why spend the time and money on a website? For several reasons that begin with placement in search results. You have no control over your placement and even if your Facebook page outranks your website today, it doesn't mean it will tomorrow. Plus, think how much better sales will be if your site outranks Facebook, because first you will have your site listing, and then Facebook, providing two kicks at the can instead of one.
Also, what happens when Facebook decides to start charging for business sites? Don't leave yourself with only one option.
Most importantly with Facebook, is from a search result point of view, it's very difficult to stand out and dominate your space. In the world of online marketing, if you don't dominate, you're a distant second place at best.
I get clients through word of mouth, why spend money on a website? There's little question that word of mouth is your best source of marketing. Satisfied clients at the end of the day really is the not-so-secret formula for success. If you're doing a great job now and making clients happy, you owe it to others to let them know about you. And online marketing allows you to market to your current clients, not just new ones. If you're not letting current clients know about all your services, they may be willing and wanting to buy from you, but may not do so because they don't know your full offering.
Isn't SEO voodoo and I hired someone to improve my site and it was a waste of money? We agree, SEO is voodoo and if you waste your money worrying about metatags, keyword density, and making search engine robots happy, you're likely wasting time, energy, and money. The best way to improve your SEO / search results is to create content. Not just any content will do. You want to provide valuable information that people are searching for. Much less people are searching to BUY, most are searching to gather information.
How do you take advantage of what people are searching for and make Google, Bing, and other search engines love you? You do so by answering the questions people are asking. Let's use lawn care as a first example.
Intuitively, you may think, "why would I want to show/tell people how to care for their lawns, then they won't need me, right?" Yes and no, and it's the "no" part that makes you money.
If our lawn care business writes articles on how to make lawns greener, when people who care about how green their lawn is are searching for "how to make my lawn greener" someone is going to show up in search results. Now ask yourself this, do you want it to be your business, or your competitors' business? Of course you want it to be your business, and if you don't believe me, keep reading and I'll change your mind.
If you're thinking "so what, now my competitor spent money creating the article that teaches people to do it on their own". And you're partially correct, but also incorrect. That's in part because the people searching will fall into three categories.
"I don't want to buy, I just want you to show me how to do it"
1. These people are looking to do it themselves, or not do it at all. They're the ones you're thinking of when you think it's a waste of time and energy to post how to make your lawn greener. For those lawn care owners that don't understand or appreciate the power and winning strategy of online marketing, these searches are the confirmation that websites cost money instead of making money. Lawn care owners that understand online marketing understand that even these people, the ones that aren't going to buy (at least not right now) from you STILL help your business.
How do they help? They increase your traffic, which in turn signals to Google and other search engines that your site is important and should be ranked higher. The added traffic doesn't have to be much because it's all relative to your competition. Think of it this way, when a group of gazelles are being chased by a lion, in order to survive, any given gazelle doesn't need to be the fastest of the group, it just needs to not be the slowest.
For the small business owner, our lawn care specialist in this case, a website doesn't need to be the greatest site for your industry in the world, or in America, or in Wisconsin, it only needs to out perform those in the local market. This is because Google gives a lot of weight to local businesses, especially service businesses. If your lawn care business is in Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Eau Claire, or Appleton, you're not competing against other cities (unless you're in that given market also, but these concepts of local remain and there are effective strategies to use), you're only competing against your market.
"If I read enough websites I can do it myself, unless it involves actual time, effort, or work"
2. These people "hope" to make their lawn greener on their own, and are trying to figure out what they need to do. They want a greener lawn, and they're willing to pay, but they also think if they perform a few Google searches they'll figure it out, and spend 15 minutes reading, followed by another 10 minutes working on the lawn each year, and boom….greener lawn on the cheap.
We all fall into category number two at times. If we didn't, the internet probably would be only filled with pictures of cats performing weirdly funny tricks. Category two people are the people that can truly excel your business and take it to the next level. Why? Because after spending a few hours trying to figure it out, and maybe five trips to Menards (including the one returning what they didn't use), they realize it's waaaaaaay too much work, or they don't have the skill set to make their lawn green. If these same people have read article after article and watched several of your videos on what to do, they consider you the expert and know what you're doing. After you positioned yourself as the local expert, you're first in line to get a call. After all, they already "know you" because they've watched your videos and read your posts.
"Price isn't as important because you've positioned your lawn care business as the experts in lawn care"
Also, akin to category number one people, these visitors have increased your importance with Google and have helped your ranking. Some will call, and others won't, but that's par for the course in any type of marketing. The ones that call already trust you, that's why they're calling. Plus, price isn't as big of a factor because you're the expert they trust. Let me repeat that so it fully sinks in, Price isn't as important because they're not shopping price, they're shopping results. If you're a service business and competing against others, wouldn't it be nice to not have to add your proposal/bid on top of a pile that includes everyone in a three county area?
If you've ever showed up, discussed the service desired, provided a proposal, and the client simply says "Yes, my friend John said you do great work", you know how great that is compared to "we're getting other proposals and we'll be in touch". Having a dominant website in some cases can be better than a friend recommending you, and when it's not, it's still almost as good.
3. These are the few, and highly coveted website visitors. They're not looking to learn anything, they want a a service, a good service, and they're in a buying mood. They're performing a search for "lawn care service" and who are they most likely to call? It's not the service on page 4,3, or 2, they're most likely going to call someone from page one of search results. And from page one, the top three results are the most likely to receive calls. Because the first two category website visitors pushed your website high in rankings (or your competitor until you fix that problem), your site is the most likely to be seen by the homeowner ready to buy.
Before they call though, they're also likely to click on a few (of the top listed) websites and see who they think is best. And if your site looks sharp, has many instructional videos and presents you as the expert (remember, it's a gazelle type of race here), you're going to get the call, or at the very least more calls.
That's what a website can do that Facebook can't. That's what a website can do for your business that radio, TV, and any other form of marketing can't. A website can position you as the expert, the one that people are willing to pay MORE for because they understand what they're receiving and feel more comfortable. People will pay for quality, but only if they know they're receiving quality.
If you're a small business owner and want to dominate your space and grow your business, but don't know what to do or what steps to take, give us a call and we'll walk you through step-by-step. If you want our help, we can do that too, but first, we'll teach you what needs to be done, and why each step is important in a way that it makes sense, and never ever suggest VooDoo SEO that doesn't work, isn't understood, and you can't do yourself.
And if you want to talk about business insurance, we'll happily talk about that too, but that's up to you and your choice.
We'll provide a review and provide at least five things you can do yourself to improve your ranking and response. What's the catch? All I ask is you provide feedback on Google and/or Yelp, if you want to know more, give me a call or email us at websitereview at 1reason dot com
Robert Weinstein is a husband, dad, stock market junkie, real estate broker, and of course…Insurance agent. Interests include my family, economics, marketing, technology, real estate, finance/investing, history, and Asia.
Robert’s insurance expertise includes having the designation of Certified in Long-Term Care (CLTC) and assist in asset protection for families with members entering retirement.
Robert is also an accomplished syndicated writer whose work can be found in TheStreet, MainStreet, CNBC, Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Seeking Alpha, MSN Money, The Money Show, Stock Saints, Motley Fool, Fidelity, Minyanville, RealMoney Pro, and many national and international newspapers.