As a small business owner, you probably get 100 emails a week from SEO specialists telling you that your ticket to untold riches will only come if you are ranked number 1 in Google search results.  While there is some value to that, it is far from the be-all and end-all of your digital marketing goals.

While getting your website optimized for the search engines is always a good thing to do, it is certainly not the only, or even the most important thing that you can do.  Online local marketing is vastly different from marketing for bigger brands and companies.  You should definitely not be spending your entire budget on Search Engine Optimization.

As a small, local business, you should concentrate on getting involved on social networks, review sites, and directories to piggyback off of those sites’ traffic and “authority”.

Harnessing review sites such as Yelp will give you another avenue of potential clients and customers.  Having good customer reviews and experiences greatly translates into a digital grass roots movement and affinity for your business.

Example Yelp Page

Keeping a Facebook business page will allow your business to build a fan base and also allow you a good opportunity to communicate with them on a personal basis and build loyalty. It also allows you to share special events, promotions, and even survey your user base for new ideas. Since complaints often show up on social sites, your participation helps you manage those negative experiences and turn them into a reputation enhancer by handling problems quickly and showing that you care about your customers.

Example Facebook Page Enagement

Exploring other online advertising opportunities besides Google’s Ad Sense might give you exposure and revenue streams that you didn’t realize were there before.  Participating on help and answer sites, DIY forums and other places where your potential visitors go for information can also be a good way to get more customer traffic and exposure and build your reputation.