Free Website Offer

March 10th, 2009

Hi All,

We are running an offer at where you can get a Free website if you add or claim your business as one of our Premium listings.

Check it out at www.locallycompared.com

We promote your business on our sites, and give you a free starter website if you don’t have one to give you a local internet advertising boost.

Thanks,

Steve

steve@locallycompared.com

2009 will signal a change in local internet advertising.

December 1st, 2008

There’s a lot of people pushing Adwords now, two small business owners I know in the last week have recieved at least two phonecalls from different companies selling Adwords, or Adwords management.

Many business owners have a knowledge gap, but they are also concerned about the cost of paying someone else to manage their online presence.

A little bit of knowledge, and a little bit of research can go a long way. The economic climate will force businesses to re-evaluate their routes to market, enquiries will drop, and suddenly the 46% (source yell.com) of users who ONLY advertise their business online on yell.com will start looking to get more coverage in Google and Yahoo. Coverage in Google means either Adwords or paying sites who have high rankings in the search engines.

*BUT* there’s only space for 10 Adword ads on the front page, so inflation of Adwords will further increase, and the cost to acquire a customer will therefore go up. Locallycompared.com and sites like www.accountantsinliverpool.co.uk (no1 for a search for ‘accountants in liverpool’ offer a simple and fair deal -> Pay a nominal fee for a rotated position.  In this model, everyone gets a fair deal and equal exposure.

Why isn’t locallycompared.com completely free like Freeindex.co.uk and other business directory sites?

When you operate a free model, you can’t advertise your service to the mass market, and you can’t drive the kind of users to your site that will make a real difference to your advertisers.

Locallycompared.com is already the place to find the most detailed information on businesses, accessible by a number of high Google positions, and we have a ton of great features we’re developing on the site, one of which will beta tomorrow.

We are engaging businesses to build a fairer route to local customers, and providing local users with the best information on local businesses.

Steve

Adwords Inflation

November 24th, 2008

What’s the future for Adwords and local businesses?

I have seen the cost per click of adwords go up over 300% for some local business keywords in the last year, and i’m sure there will be examples of other larger increases in some cases.

Google have created a fantastic money making machine for themselves, but over time I’m certain that the front page sponsored results will become simply too expensive for smaller businesses.

As an example, searching for plumbers in (location) results in a variety of results, some are directory sites, some are independent businesses, some are larger operators.

There is only so much space on the right of the page, so taking or plumber example, there are 5 – 10 national businesses that operate plumbers in various areas, some as franchises or otherwise.  It stands to reason, that over time the bigger national plumbing companies will simply outbid the local operators… another channel for the small business bites the dust, or we will see.

My model with locallycompared.com is to provide unlimited enquiries, and randomised ordering of results for one fixed yearly price. This means that our paying businesses cannot reserve a top position, but will allways be at the top for a percentage of the time, ‘fair’ being the operative word.

How do we solve this? over to you Google…

Locallycompared.com Update

November 23rd, 2008

This week we saw the launch of a new version of the site, and traffic is up 500%.  More and more businesses are claiming their profiles, and we will start mailing businesses next week.

We have a number of new number 1 positions in Google, and search positions in general are on the up. Good movement all round.

SEO Basics for local businesses – Getting inbound links

August 24th, 2008

Getting links to your site is an important off page factor.

The text in the links that link to your businesses website help the search engines to determine what your website is about. When people are searching for businesses online, research shows that they don’t search for ‘business directories’ they search for what they are looking for, for example ‘plumbers in sheffield’

So as a business you want to make sure your getting links to your site which describe your business the best. In our example, a plumber would want as many links as possible to their site which contain the text ‘plumbers in sheffield’ as this is what people are searching for.

Getting links to your site can be done many ways. To summerise :

  • You can upgrade on business listings sites to get an inbound link to your site.
  • You can offer to swap a link with a business. You can do this by contacting the owner of the site and offering to do this.
  • You can  pay an SEO business to buid links to your site.

Upgrading you listing in an online directory site will often get you a link back to your website. This is a great way to get a link and more exposure.

Paying an SEO or web design company to build links for you will be more expensive and be an ongoing cost, but the returns will show with a consistent effort. Many SEO companies offer link building services and you can discuss this with them in detail. The more relevant those links are to your site, the more relevant Google will consider them, and the better your SEO will be.

Thanks,

Steve

Adwords for local businesses

August 24th, 2008

Google Adwords are a great way to get people to your businesses website, but it can be expensive!

You can spend as much or as little as you like on Adwords, so its about maximising the return on your investment.  Once you’ve been to Google and signed up for an adwords account, you’ll need to add some credit to get started.

You can then set your budget for the month, and start telling Google which searches you would like to appear in on the far right hand side of the search results. Competition, as with normal Google positions in the centre if the page, is intense. Google bases how much you pay per click on how intense the competition is for the keywords your bidding on.  This means that a click could cost as much as £20 if you’re a ‘hotel in london’, or just 1p if your a ‘dog walker in canterbury’.

So it’s time to be creative with your bids! You can do this by thinking about how you can exploit the ‘long tail’ of searches (more on this later). This is simply bidding on keywords or phrases that less people search for, but are still relevant to your business. For example, there will be a lot of competition for searches for ‘plumbers in london’, but much less competition for ‘plumbers in brixton’. This way you can reduce your Cost Per Click and still get visitors to your site.

Adwords is a great way to get new customers, and I’ll be posting more on this soon.

Thanks,

Steve

Why advertise your business in a directory?

August 24th, 2008

Business directorys enable you to get more exposure to local people, and valuable links to your website.

When thinking about which business directories you want to be listed in, common things to consider are:

  • How much traffic does the site get?
  • Is the content of that site relevent to your business?
  • What positions does the business directory have in the search engines for searches relevant to your business?
  • What features does the site offer, can you update it with your testimonials and offers?
  • How well to you feature in comparison to your competitors, are you missing out?

Many businesses get a lot of calls from sites offering them advertising in online business directorys, some of these businesses oversell the benefits of being listed in their particular site, but many sites should not be overlooked because your online presence is getting more an more important.

Users of the internet have moved on from paper directories , why would someone with broadband  go back to a paper directory when they can look online for the latest information about which businesses offer local products and services.

Directories are an important way to improve your exposure online.  Make sure that you are maximising the return on your investment in local internet advertising by being featured on the busiest sites which have the best positions in the search engines for your  business type and location.

It’s money well spent to make sure that you are at the top of the list in all the sites that are in the top search engine positions for yor business type. Take for example a search in Google for ‘Plumbers in Sheffield’.  The majority of the sites which are achiving the high positions are directory sites which offer low cost listings to maximise the exposure to your business. Take some of your budget for offline advertising and move it online before your competitors do first.

There’s no way to escape the fact that these business directories are going to be above you in the search engines, they’ve spent a  lot of money and time on SEO in order to be there. You just need to make sure that your business is featured in the right places.

Thanks,

Steve

SEO for local businesses – On Page Factors

August 24th, 2008

Many (including me) see SEO as being split into two areas. One is ‘off page factors’, and one is ‘on page factors’.

Today I’m going to talk about on page factors. When someone says ‘on page’ they mean the pages of your website. The factors part relates to things about the content of the site which the search engines will find appealing, and enable them to better understand the content of your site.

Take a minute to go to the ‘View’ menu in your internet browser. You’ll see that there is an option which says ‘View Source’ or ‘View Page Source’. If you click on this an new window with open which shows all the code of the page you are looking at. This is the code that the search engines read in order to understand and categorise your businesses website. Not all websites are created equal, so lets look at what makes a site best for a search engine to understand.

META content provides information about your site to the search engines. Meta is organised into tags that look like this:

<META name="Description" content="A description of your business">
<META name="Keywords" content="Keywords that are relevant to your business">
<META name="Rating" content="General">
<META name="Robots" content="all">
<META name="Language" content="English">

The most important parts to help you get better positions in the search engines are the Description and Keywords tags, and I’ll be describing how to get the most out of these in a later post.

Thanks,

Steve

SEO for local businesses – Beyond the Jargon

August 24th, 2008

Many people have come to my business in the past and asked how get they can get higher positions in search engines for people searching for keywords that relate to their business. This is a question that many businesses answer by baffling their prospective customers with science, and encoraging them to part with a lot of money over an extended period.

Some SEO companies will offer to guarantee you a top position, avoid these at all costs, others will be more honest and tell you its not an exact science, and that they will need to spend a lot of time and effort on achieving results for you. Wouldn’t it be good if you could save some money and help yourself?

Lets get down to some basics:

  • SEO involves enabling the content of your site being best organised and presented for the search engines to look at your site, and understand what it contains. This is something that is easy to implement once, but for optimal results, takes a short amount of time on a regular basis.
  • SEO is also about making sure that the links to your site from other websites contain text that relates to the content of your site.
  • SEO involves making sure that you are focussing on getting traffic for the searches that you want to be found, by making sure that your sire contains the right amount of content that relates those searches.
  • SEO involves making sure that you update your content regularly so that you can present upto date information about your business to the search engines. The search engines will help you if you help them.

I aim to help local businesses by providing details of the things you should be thinking about, whether you want to do some SEO for yourself, or need some help choosing a company to do your local Internet advertising for you.

Thanks,

Steve