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Ten Local Online Marketing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

In his new book, "Local Online Advertising for Dummies," Court Cunningham shares strategies and tips that can help SMBs seize opportunities in local markets and sidestep common mistakes.

The following excerpt from Court Cunningham's book "Local Online Advertising for Dummies," is presented by InformationWeek SMB courtesy of Wiley Publishing.

Don't Miss: An exclusive interview with author Court Cunningham


Local Online Advertising for Dummies

Chapter 18: Ten Local Online Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them)

This foray into the world of online advertising is kind of a grand adventure. Although there is clearly a beaten path that you need to follow to maximize your chances for success, at times, you'll see your efforts come up short and wonder: What the heck am I doing wrong?

In a lot of cases, the fault isn't so much with the execution, but with the thinking or preconceptions. Because these things are part and parcel of your inner self, they can be really hard to recognize as the actual culprits when your efforts aren't having the results you want.

In our experience, many people make certain mental errors when launching themselves into the online arena -- and in this chapter, we list the ten most common.

1. Assuming Your Customers Behave Like You

Maybe you're a 25-year-old running online marketing for a retirement community. Just because you go to the blogosphere before you buy any products or services doesn't mean that your target audience does. Conversely, you might be a 70-year-old dentist, and you think the Internet is just a fad. You need to think the way customers think and figure how they find businesses. No matter what your mom told you, in this case, don't be yourself.

2. Not Knowing Your Limits

You can create your own Web site, do search engine optimization (SEO), and run your own pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. That's one of the reasons books like this exist. However, to do these things right, you need to spend an appropriate amount of time on them. That means that the five minutes you spend monthly on your PPC campaign may not be enough, and consequently, you're wasting money that could just as well go to pay someone to take care of your local online advertising for you. Think hard about whether you'll make an ongoing commitment to optimizing your advertising campaigns. If not, maybe the best thing to do is go with the pros.

3. Assuming Web Site Aesthetics Equals Web Site Success

You may think all the frames, flash, and images you've put on your Web site look great. Unfortunately, that great stuff is all but invisible to the search engines. Like Joe Friday, search engines want only the facts. The subjective stuff on your site can be a lot of fun to create, but if content on your Web site can't even be read by the search engines, you aren't even in the game. Think like a search engine does. Make sure you have

  • A search engine-friendly URL
  • A site map (or site index)
  • Contact information on every page
  • Keyword-rich copy
  • Footers
  • Reciprocal links

In other words, position yourself to be found before you worry about being impressive. And when in doubt, test and learn.

4. Creating a Web Site That No One Visits

If you build it, they will come, right? Wrong. Just because you have a Web site doesn't mean anyone will go there. To get people to your site, you need to drive traffic -- whether that means using SEO, PPC, e-mails, banners, or some of the other tools we talk about in this book. The moral of the story: Give people a road; then they will come.

5. Making It Difficult for Potential Customers to Contact You

You'd be surprised how many local business Web sites we see that don't even show the phone number. Or the contact information is buried deep down the Contact Us page. Your phone number (or however you want your potential customers to contact you) needs to be large and in charge on your Web site. Throw an easy-to-fill-out form on your page, too. That way potential customers who don't want to call still have a way to contact you.

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