Saturday, January 31, 2009

Maximize Your Business' Online Presence

My neighbor, a small business owner, told me she thought she had the whole "SEO thing" under control. I'm sending her this column from David Mihm and posting it here so others can read the hints in SMBs Need More Local Outreach -- here is just a portion:

What businesses can do to maximize their presence on local search engines:

Verifying your business’s information may lead to improved rankings on the major search engines, in addition to ensuring that they present correct information about your business.

1) Check to see where you’re already indexed using

2) Claim and verify your information at the major search engines: Google, Yahoo, and Live

3) Submit or verify your information with as many different data providers as you can.

(David supplies a list, so click on over to see it)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Local Closures

It saddens me to watch neighborhood businesses close - here in the Rose Garden area of San Jose, we've seen two closures in the past few months, and now comes the announcement that Communknity will close this month.

As the name implies, Communknity is a knitting supply store that seemed to do everything right. Five knowledgeable employees, in-store lessons, author appearances, and a local gallery. They supported local artists, hosted fundraisers, and were part of local breast cancer fundraisers.

In short, they created a small, tightly knit community while benefiting the neighborhood and community at large. This was exactly the type of business you want in your city.

I mourned when I saw San Jose's last general interest independent bookstore, Willow Glen Books, was closing, but the world of bookstores was forever changed before the economy tanked. Communknity rankled me in a different a way that made our neighborhood a little poorer.

Constant Contact Hosts Small Biz Seminars

Congrats to email marketing company Constant Contact for the announcement they are launching small biz email seminars throughout the LA area.

This is something local newspapers and regional yellow pages should have been doing all along- not particularly email but all types of emerging marketing, and I predict this will be a winner for Constant Contact...great PR, great results, and a program that will expand quickly.

It's even nicer that their LA representative is Kelly Flint, formerly of United Way, since that brings the experience of someone used to having a limited budget and a diverse group of constituents.

Way back when I first got involved in the local interactive scene - in 1994 and 1995 - I held an ongoing series of luncheon seminars for advertisers of the Houston Chronicle. They were very, very appreciative, and in many ways, that helped lay the foundation for the success has experienced (not to dismiss the incredibly progressive and practical interactive management teams over the years).

Anyway, thumbs up and accolades for "REAL MARKETING" to the Constant Contact team. There's no reason that small businesses should have to prowl through the web or take days out of the office attending seminars to get the low-down on email marketing.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Check Your Online Listing

Check out, or at least their free tool that lets you check your "claimed" listing in major search engines.

It's far from perfect at this point, mostly because the site is busy talking in "lingo" and not in local business-speak. But if you already sort-of understand your way around the local online lingo, it's a nifty check-up of whether you have dotted your i's and crossed your t's.

What do I mean that the site talks lingo? I typed Dr. Abed, 95126 (my dentist) and it showed no listings, even though when I went to Google and typed Dr. Abed 95126, she came up top of the listings. I typed in Zanotto's, (a neighborhood market) at it showed that the name had not been "claimed" on Google, Yahoo, Live but that it had 72 "citations" on Google. There was a link to click through and claim it, but no discussion on what "claiming" the name meant.

EDIT: Got a really nice note from the GetListed folks, and they pointed out that Dr.Abed's ZIP was 95128 - they are SOOO correct, which is what I get for making assumptions - and that her office is listed when done correctly.

Why, oh why (she asked again and again) do the online folks think that local businesses have nothing better to do than learn search-engine speak.

Anyway, Miriam Ellis writes a nice entry on why GetListed is good and useful and even necessary - and says nice things about the founders.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Link to local

I'm an advocate for eating locally grown fruits and veggies - pretty easy since here in Silicon Valley just about everything grows within a 50 mile radius.

For those not as fortunate (ie, those without neighbors who have a plentiful harvest), here is a link to "Buy Fresh, Buy Local" a resource for Californians. And here's a link to Local Harvest, a national resource.