Small Business SEO & Online Marketing Myths

Through the last decade of working with websites, creating brands for small business whether it’s single-person companies or multi-state products, there remains this stigma of doubt. Online marketing, to some, remains an unwanted extension of doing business in the digital age. However, as the internet grows and smart phones, next-gen devices and the cloud does as well, internet marketing services like SEO (search engine optimization), social media marketing and email marketing grows along with it.

“I don’t think my business needs something like this…”

“We are in a small town, so we don’t need this kind of a service…”

“We are doing fine without it…”

All of these are responses I have received, heard about or been told throughout the years. Even in the last 6 month, locally, when asked about SEO in New Castle, Pittsburgh SEO, Youngstown social media campaigns or online reputation management in Butler, I’ve received what were believed to be valid points.

But, I have a question for you…do you really know what people are looking for online in your area? In fact, do you know what kind of market you are excluding from your revenues?

Myth 1 – We are doing fine without online marketing

The biggest issue with new clients is that the idea of change is scary at least and terrifying at worst. Your business doing “just fine” is not enough. Your business needs to grow, needs to become more known and visible and easier for potential clients and customers to find.

Misunderstanding your brand’s online marketing needs

One thing that I know (I’ve asked) is in a business owner’s mind, they believe that with their incoming revenue they are at a point that is as good as it gets. They want to not have to face the idea that they might be hindering their sales and growth.

Or, some business owners believe that they have already tapped into their largest demographic and audience.

Understanding marketing, your customers and what they want

The truth about online marketing

The truth of online marketing is that there are ALWAYS more customers and clients out there. To get to them, you need to first accept that you might not be getting in touch with all of them, and next, find them.

Remember, potential clients and customers are not always looking for you. Sometimes, you have to become a beacon of authority in the industry that you are in. Other times, you have to place yourself in a position to be in the first group of potential businesses they turn to.

What I just described is completely online marketing – social media to shed light on who you are, paid advertising to let them know where you are, and SEO (search engine optimization) to be high in search results for when they look.

Myth 2 – SEO isn’t for a small town business

Many small businesses in small towns choose to focus on physical and standard forms of advertising. These include radio spots, flyers and the like. In fact, let me give you end-of-the-year 2013 poll result for businesses spending in 2014 on marketing and advertising…

Marketing and Advertising Budgets and Spending in 2014

There is a shift from traditional advertising mediums into more digital and internet marketing areas. In fact, one of the most telling signs of shifts for small businesses to start marketing in a more digital way is the second to last option – NONE. 41% of the business owners polled are turning to some form of advertising rather than simple word of mouth.

Small town needs go unknown

Small town businesses can make use of the above survey to notice trends developing in online marketing as the higher budgeted area. But why? Why is online marketing slowly growing in use? And, is this reason viable for ALL businesses, small or large, small-town or big city?

The answer is in mobile phone sales and accounts in use currently. Let me show you a mobile phone use number for the county I am in, Lawrence County in Pennsylvania. These are the main cities and towns in the county: New Castle, Ellwood City, New Wilmington and Bessemer.

Mobile Phone Usage for Cities in Lawrence County | New Castle, Ellwood City, New Wilmington and Bessemer

As you can see, over 80% (83% to be exact) of Facebook users in this particular area use mobile or mobile and their PCs. This means that if you start online marketing and focus on mobile phone users in this area, 4 out of 5 people in the population could be seeing your ad. Is radio advertising that powerful? Are flyers, billboards and/or newspaper advertising that impactful?

More on mobile phone usage and why you should be looking to advertise or market to those users later.

Understanding of Local SEO turns it around

Local SEO will turn around your marketing efforts – whether they have been via internet marketing or standard offline marketing tactics. Local SEO focuses your industry, and your content into a marriage with the region that you are in.

For something like Local SEO in New Castle, or the surrounding area, local SEO can help to boost your business onto the first page of search results…if not #1-#3. When you tie in your onpage SEO efforts, along with doing local SEO to accompany your region, and you send signals of authority via citations and reviews sites, your brand becomes more weighted in search.

Which means, your business, whether in a small town or not, is targeted to the people that live in the area. Basically, you are becoming more visible to them in search engines, and they will, in turn, find you more often. And when you tie in things like mobile device SEO and link building with local resources, your one-person business might grow in traffic, size and revenue to the point where hiring becomes the best option for you.

Myth 3 – Social media isn’t for THIS business

Social media, despite what some business owners’ gut feelings might be telling them, is not a fad. Social media is also not something that your business does not need. As more and more people gain more access to the internet via new devices and methods, social media has grown.

How much has social media grown as an industry?

Social Media Networks
image courtesy of Leverage

Social media’s stigma of youth

I believe, because of what I’ve read and what I’ve discussed with business owners, that the idea of social media not being a required method of marketing is due to age partitions. Older business owners, or older managers even, believe that social media is a platform of youth.

However, this is less and less true when you start to research local areas.

For instance, when it comes to New Castle social media and Facebook, there are 3,135 unique logins from women age 25-34. This is the largest demographic using Facebook, men and women included. And as for age, note that for women ages 35-54 you see almost 5,500 unique logins.

Let’s remove youth altogether. How many people, in this city alone, from ages 25 to 54 are unique logins to Facebook and using it on a nearly daily schedule? Over 8,600 women and nearly 7,000 men – or a total of over 15,000 people in this one town using social media. Compare this to a few hundred flyers you hand out, or possibly a few thousand with a newspaper ad, or a few thousand with a billboard.

Why social media marketing is real for everyone

The above example shows that no matter the age or location, people use social media. this is precisely why social media is not for any particular industries or types of business…it’s for all businesses.

One last thing I want to leave you with is a stat from Mashable, concerning online usage. I’ll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions as to how powerful social media can be, no matter the age, location or gender of the person.

Digital Media Usage in the US in 2012
image courtesy of Mashable

Myth 4 – People will find us regardless, if they look

Growth, whether you experience it in terms of revenue, traffic, customer base, staff or individual physical locations, is a never-ending part of the business world. In fact, just like a shark, if your business is not moving, growing vertically or horizontally, your business will die.

Businesses that have been successful for decades will tell you that. That have opened more stores, created more products or services, integrated new forms of advertising or marketing, or have simply moved to larger and larger facilities. Business that do not look towards the future as one of growth, they are the empty storefronts you see, and the said tales of three year cycles of funding, start-up, revenue and then closed doors.

The notion that people will simply find you is absurd. People will find what they are looking for, only when it is presented to them.

How does this happen? What methods will people use to do this?

  • Word of mouth
  • Standard advertising (radio, television, print)
  • Physical viral (sponsored events, contests, flyers)
  • Passive online marketing (SEO, social media, content creation)
  • Paid advertising, digital (PPC, PPM, Adsense, Social Paid-for ads)

Completely giving up on your brand

The above list is a fairly active one. Even in passive online marketing, you still need to actually do something, or pay someone to do it. However, only one, relies on a hope – word of mouth. This is an antiquated method of a business’s growth and marketing tactic.

And yet there is one in there, that is just like word of mouth, however it is multiplicative in it’s value and reach – and it isn’t word of mouth! It’s online marketing.

As a business owner, why wouldn’t you want to at least test the waters to see if more clients can be reached? Are you worried about too many? Then, by finding more you can stay at your number of current client, but raise your prices to increase revenue based on demand. Or, increase the amount of employees you hire to fill that demand.

At the end of the day, with all things being equal, quality traffic = real revenue – and actively finding more leads and more customers creates that financial security every business owner and entrepreneur is looking for. Isn’t that what we all want? To be successful in finding potential customers, converting them to paying customers and making them part of an ever-growing community of followers of our brands?

Online marketing finds clients

The fundamental truth of online marketing and the only reason to start taking part in it is to find more clients…to find those leads and convert them into paying customers. If you don’t actively get involved with internet marketing, you are like a scientist that has the cure for every disease in the world, but are on a boat in the middle of an ocean – it won’t matter.

Instead of simply relying on ‘word of mouth’, create some using social media. Instead of assuming people will find you, use SEO (search engine optimization) to make it easier for them to find you. Instead of sitting back and waiting for the next purchase, start growing your brand and your business today.

Don’t keep believing the myths and hype anymore about online marketing not being an effective tool for traffic generation and revenue. Instead, use it. You won’t be upset with the results. And, you will likely become more and more interested in the process as time goes on.

Do you have questions about online marketing and SEO?

Contact me, anytime, to discuss your brand and your online and offline marketing goals today at email@jamesblews.com.

Also, check out an offer that is time-limited (it will be gone in December), for Social Media Optimization.

James Blews
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Small Business SEO & Online Marketing Myths
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Small Business SEO & Online Marketing Myths
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Small businesses can fall into the myths of online marketing and SEO on a daily basis. New Castle, Pittsburgh or Cleveland business - here are your truths!
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James Blews
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Author: James Blews

I am a digital marketing consultant living in New Castle PA. As a lifelong resident, I understand the issues that small business and microbusiness have with marketing, and am looking to solve that. I love my two children and my wife - and occasionally, the Steelers.