With people giving Yellow Pages and directory inquiries a miss and going straight to the internet to search for local businesses, it is essential for small businesses to both have an online presence and a small business lead generation system in place. There are two roads to go down to get more business prospects – SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (Pay Per Click).
SEO is more of a long term goal, as it can take months to get high up on the search engines for the keywords people are typing in to find your type of small business. Of course, if you do know some tricks of the trade you can get more exposure faster and your small business marketing will pay off a lot quicker than that. The major search engines do cater for the local small business.
Google offers a free local listing, which all small businesses should take advantage of. Google ‘Google Local Business Center’ and you will find where to sign up. You will need a free Google account to set up this listing, and then you can enter in your business details and your business classification. Google will then mail you a postcard with a confirmation pin number on, which you will need to enter to activate the local listing. Once you are live, people performing searches in your local area for your type of business are likely to see your business listing and a map at the top of the Google search page. It’s a great start to online lead generation, as people find your business quickly and easily.
Yahoo offers a similar service. Do a search for ‘Yahoo Local Listing’ and take a look at what they have to offer. They do have a free basic listing, but the monthly paid “enhanced listing” option is worth considering, as you can enter in a detailed business description, more photos and offer online coupons to encourage your visitors to pick you over your competitors. These online coupons are great for both B2B and B2C lead generation.
Having these listings in place give you a good head start in getting your website found when people search online for your business type. They are just a small fraction of the many ways that SEO can get your website noticed by your business prospects. Other ways include finding sites with high PR (page ranking) and getting backlinks from them, as well as entering your business details on online directories. Your customers need to be able to find you for small business lead generation to be successful.
Now, if you are looking for a quick and worthwhile use of your business resources to generate leads, then the way forward is to use PPC. Unlike using SEO, you can often see results and traffic on your first day using this method of B2C and B2B lead generation. Google AdWords is the most popular and most effective PPC program used.
As small business marketing using PPC is fairly new and local keywords still relatively cheap, it is an ideal method for small business lead generation. You sign up for an AdWords account, enter the local keywords that you would like to bid on, and depending on the competition and how much you bid, you are on the first page of Google straight away and people can find you. You only get charged when people click on your ad, and you can track and test what keywords are most effective.
In conclusion, you can see that SEO is important in the long term for getting your site ranked high in the organic listings, but in the meantime, while you are achieving those high rankings you should use PPC for your small business lead generation.