• Turn your store into a roadside attraction

    [Pic credit: "Maddy and the Twistee Treat - Somewhere in Kansas" by Greg Younger is licensed under CC BY 2.0]

    A picture is worth a thousand words and with every social website having a way to share those pics, your business’ story could be the size of a Tolkien novel. So, it only makes sense, to take advantage of the current digital, sharing culture by giving customers’ something to snap a pic of to spread your establishment’s fame.

    I’ve assembled a short list of ideas for you to use as a starting point to find a unique appeal for your business or organization to use. It’s about giving people a reason to be the center of attention and to use their “selfie” as a way to promote you.
    - - -

    Ben & Jerry’s face cutouts: a simple idea that invites people to be a part of the product.

    Wall Drug’s free ice water: finding an almost free item to give away to people who are looking for a reason to get out of the car.

    Cow Parade & public art projects: using an icon from your region encourages people to capture a memory with that object.

    Roadside attractions in America: everything from grave markers to alien jerky can be used to draw attention to your business/organization.

    - - -
    How about you: what was the last roadside attraction you stopped at and why?

  • People may think your business is a porn shop

    I was new to the Boise area when my beagle developed a cough -- so I did what any normal person would -- I typed “vet” in the search bar on Google Maps and went looking for help. I started with the locations nearest to me and found a couple of excellently reviewed clinics.

    Then I got the “XXX Vet Clinic”.

    Now, it’s not what you think (I’ll let your imagination go wild) -- it was a hijacked Google Maps account leading to a porn site instead of the small business’ homepage (which I’m assuming they didn’t have).

    This is more common than you may think. With approximately one billion searches a day, Google maps is one of the most used websites in the world and an attractive target to hackers. All it takes is for your business not to be claimed and for someone (occasionally with good intentions) to go in and change your hours, leave a negative review, or even close your location.

    Kevin Poulsen wrote a telling article for Wired.com about a business owner suing Google over having his business listing be hacked. His words of warning: “...if you ignore your Google Maps listing, you’re inviting trouble.”

    Don’t be the next XXX Vet Clinic.

    You can set this up yourself: www.google.com/business. Or you can contact me. I'd be happy to help.

  • 53% Of Internet Searches Are Locally Motivated

    If you're reading this, I am assuming you're not one of the many business who still think it's O.K. to ignore the internet. If you are (or aren't), check this out: Microsoft said that 53% of searches in Bing (their search engine) have local intent. And Google said their figure is 33%. Either way, a ton of people may be trying to find you.

    With that said, here's a tiny checklist of what you need to have up-to-date this coming year to be found online:

    1. Current / Updated Website: Most of the search engines give special attention to websites that have fresh content. This can be done by blogging, linking up with social media sites, or by simply making sure everything is current and correct on the site.

    2. Claimed Business / Organization: There are a bunch of places where you need to mark your territory or be prepared to be overlooked. Google Maps, FourSquare, and Facebook are all major players in having people find you. I can't tell you how many business have incorrect info or are not current when being searched for.

    3. Socialized: Be available on at least one social media site, whether it be Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook -- people expect to find you there, so be there.

    By the way...if you need help, just ask. (Shameless plug, I know.)

    Here's to a super happy new year!

  • Small town web presence - Google Alerts

    Many local business owners have been ill-informed to the notion that it takes too much time to manage their presence on the web...and they’re right...if they don’t have the right tools. One of the most essential utilities available to everyone for free is Google Alerts.

    Google Alerts lets you type in keywords (i.e. your business’ name) and will email you when those words are found in Internet news, blogs, videos, real time, discussions, and mentions on the web. There are a series of filter options, but ultimately, is straightforward and easy to use. There is no reason why you should go without this any longer. 

    Google Alerts Tutorial:

    1. Go to: google.com/alerts

    2. Enter your search terms. (Uses quotation marks around exact phrases.)

    3. Click the "Preview results".

    4. Adjust the settings.

    Type: What web sources do you want them to pull from?

    How Often: Chose the time frame that works best for you.

    Volume: Do you want Google to filter out some of the findings?

    Email: Enter the email you’d like the report sent to.

    5. Click "Create Alert" button.

    This will take you less than 3 minutes to set up and will help you monitor what’s being said about your business (good and bad) on the web.

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