A company can have the best business model in the world, but it won’t matter if it doesn’t get discovered. To that end Konstantin Stoyanov launched 411Locals, an Internet marketing company that helps small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) get discovered online.
Entrepreneurs who are launching startups know that a solid web presence isn’t an option. Many brick-and-mortar business owners who once relied on newspaper advertising and direct mail promotions are awakening to the same realization. If a business can’t be discovered on the web, via multiple channels, then it’s losing its competitive advantage.
By now, almost all entrepreneurs are aware of the importance of search engine optimization (SEO). It’s a means of optimizing a website so that it ranks highly in the SERPs.
However, one often overlooked flavor of SEO is Local SEO, or SEO that’s intended to reach an audience within a relatively small geographical area. It’s especially important for small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) that don’t cater to a worldwide audience.
I sat down with Stoyanov to discuss with him the challenges that face businesses today and how his company offers solutions.
AJ Agrawal: What inspired you to launch 411 Locals?
Konstantin Stoyanov: I had a number of businesses before 411Locals and I was a real estate agent as well as an investor. As the online marketing tasks for my own ventures started getting more and more complicated, I found that too much of my time was dedicated to research. I put a team together to help handle some of those action items. That’s when I realized that many other small business owners were facing the same struggles. Specifically, entrepreneurs lack time for research and testing. They also don’t have the expertise on staff to help them get discovered on the web. Finally, they couldn’t find affordable solutions for Internet marketing. The need for help was clear. I decided to use our assets and expertise to assist others.
Agrawal: What’s the key to making a small business a success on the Internet?
Stoyanov: There are three keys to making a business a success on the Internet. First, the company must set clear and realistic long-term goals. That includes detailed planning about how to reach those goals. That’s a strategic initiative that gives a “big picture” view of how the company will reach its target market. Second, there must be adaptability to changes. First, the company must adapt to changes in the Google ranking algorithm. The algorithm that Google uses to rank pages today will almost certainly not be the same as it is a year from now. Also, businesses need to respond to the efforts of their competitors. If a competitor is ranking higher for a specific keyword all of a sudden, research is needed to determine what’s happening and to respond with the appropriate optimization effort. Finally, there needs to be open communication between the client and the agency.
Agrawal: Why is business differentiation so crucial for success?
Stoyanov: All business in this space must be customized. There is no “one size fits all” solution. It’s all dependent on the vertical, market forces, the size of the target city, and the efforts of competitors to create a visible online presence.
Agrawal: You use the word innovative frequently on your 411Locals website. In what way is your business innovative? Please try to be specific.
Stoyanov: We have created tools that will monitor and report the keyword positions of our customers and their competitors. We also provide reports about how those keyword positions have changed over time. We also analyze our own data from all of our customers to determine the most effective practices. Finally, we constantly adapt our SEO techniques and internal processes to provide faster and better result for our clients.
It’s absolutely vital that businesses maintain an easy-to-discover presence on the web in the 21st century. Otherwise, they’re bound to lose market share to competitors who are catering to a more tech-savvy audience. Thanks to the advent of “webrooming” (people looking for items online before buying them at a store) and “showrooming” (people look for items at a store before buying them online), consumers are trained to shop and search online before making purchases. Businesses that don’t accept that reality will struggle to survive.
AJ Agrawal is a writer, entrepreneur, and speaker. He is the CEO and Co-Founder of Alumnify Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @ajalumnify
Link to original article: forbes.com