There's the hard way, and then there's the easy way. But all too often, businesses that are obviously desperate to attract new customers seem to go about things the wrong way. They try to sell people on the need for their product or service, when they should be focusing on making sure they're found and look appealing when people that already have that need are looking for them.
Changing behaviour is hard: target the converted…
For instance, say you run a plumbing business – but you need more work. You could drop flyers in your local area, or spend money getting fancy vehicle decals, or even run a radio campaign. But most of the people that would be exposed to your messages would have no immediate need for your service so the best you could hope for is that they file your information away and pull it out when they need it.
People are searching for your business right now…
What you really want is to target people that need a plumber right now. People doing renovations or that have just had their toilet leak or their hot water service fail. Does this sound like a pretty hard bunch to pin down? In the past it would have been extremely difficult, but now, more than 80% of all purchases start with a search on the internet – so we know where they're looking.
Amazing isn't it! Eight out of ten people will jump online when they have a need for something. So what this plumber would be better doing is focusing on being found when people search for things like;
* 24 hour plumber eastern suburbs Melbourne
* recommended plumber hot water service
* best plumbing service to fix toilet inner city
* plumber that does bathroom renovations
Search Engine Opimisation is not what you think it is…
That's right. It's not your business name you should be targeting when you're thinking about search engine optimisation, it's the problems you solve and the benefits you provide. (Of course you should be found online when people type in your business name, but those people have already decided to contact you. The vast majority of your potential customers probably don't know you and are searching for phrases related to their problem or the solution they're looking for.)
It's a MUCH harder road trying to convince people they need your service. Target the people that have already decided they need it and are trying to find a suitable business for their patronage.
As another example… Say you run an upmarket Italian restaurant. You could either do something on a broad-base scale – but you'd be reaching people that are totally uninterested in your offering (the gluten-free, students & budget eaters, people that rarely eat out, people that only eat out when someone else organises it, etc). You'd also have to offer them a pretty compelling reason enticing them to change their habits. A far easier option is to work on optimising for online search phrases like;
* best Italian restaurant bayside
* reviews for Italian restaurants near city
* authentic Italian dining Sydney
* best home-made lasagna restaurant
So where do you start?
How do you firstly know what search terms to optimise for, and secondly actually optimise for those search terms? Sounds like a lot of work! You could hire an SEO consultant to do this for you (or invest an enormous amount of time learning and doing this yourself). But another, more natural way, is to get customers writing about their experiences online.
User-generated content is ideal because customers tend to write in the same ways that other potential customers search. The same things are important to both groups and they tend to use the same phrases.
Your customers can be your best marketing tool
Customer reviews are an ideal way to optimise your business on search engines because they;
1) Get Your Business Found – as the descriptions are often a great match for people's search terms. (For the technically minded, this also works particularly well because WOMO's page rank is high and your page gets re-indexed each time you get a new review.)
2) Are Incredibly Convincing – customer reviews are known to be the most persuasive type of information on you can put in front of potential customers
So what are you waiting for? Go ask some customers to review your business now…
*For businesses wanting to accelerate this process, Word Of Mouth Online's Happy Customers Program provides the tools to get more reviews and build your reputation. There's more information here or contact us to find out more.