I was working with the owner of a great local business that helps put on weddings last week, and they were sharing how tough business has been this year. They do amazing work. Brides just love them and that creates a lot of Word of Mouth. So why the tough times? The number of couples getting married hasn’t drastically changed.

For one, the work from Spicture of a shackEO company they were paying hundreds to every month wasn’t working anymore. What they and the SEO company didn’t understand is that local SEO has drastically changed. The days of referrals simply picking up the phone and calling your business are over. Your referrals aren’t going to go directly to your website after first hearing about you. Instead, they will search your business in Google where they will encounter your Google+ page and it is THAT which has to do the work to win your referrals over and get them to your website.

Using the scenario from the wedding business above, a local potential customer will likely hear about your business from a friend. The referral is great, but in-between hearing great things about your business and picking up the phone they search your business on Google. If they see a “picture of a shack” they will move on, likely comparing you to competitors with a better web presence before making a purchase decision.

 

Once they get to your website, if they see a page rich with the right content they stay, learn about your business, look at reviews, and click through the content you carefully laid out for them to walk them through your process. Great click through content is critical. You have to offer something of value whether it is a coupon, a contest, or a sample of your product. That is what I like to call the Reward (I will explain Rewards and how to use them in an upcoming post). The key is to offer something worth them giving you their coveted information so you have permission to start a conversation.

This is what we mean when we talk about the Convert step in Word of Mouth marketing. You’ve done all of the hard work to create referrals in the market, but you have to make sure they are able to find you, and when they do, like what they see.

Google+ Local SEO

Google+ Local SEO

That’s why I focus on creating amazing, always up-to-date Google+ pages for our small businesses with a steady stream of great reviews. Then, compelling, visually driven, mobile-first websites that communicate what you really do, acting as a 24/7 salesperson for your business.

In the next post, I discuss the second most important part of keeping your referrals in “The Secret to Great Reviews”