For many dealers who developed a web site, a feeling of accomplishment, pride and excitement ensued. Somehow they felt they were now up to date with the times and that their business would be impacted in a positive way. Most retailers were correct in their assumption if their site was designed professionally or the graphic designers among us who used the right web design program melded with their own eye for design and creativity. For the consumer, a web site is now a form of credibility, an intermediate step before investing the time to go a retailer. If customers are impressed, that is a good enough reason for having a web site alone. Web sites that are image rich, whether residing in the pages of the actual web site or outbound links to co-branded web sites can help the customer come in with a preference for a design that can save hours of time in going through albums. Shortening the decision process is one way of making a sale more profitable besides selling a more expensive item.

However, the real success of a web site for a local retailer lies in how easy it is to be found by local customers.

Because retailers collectively do not have visible web presence, in most areas, implementing an invitation and bridal related retailer implementing a professional local search marketing program could equate to being the one shining star in the sky on a dark night or being the only ad in a magazine filled with editorial. The reason I say that is for more than half of the consumers that are online researching with the intention to purchase at a local retailer, your local listing that resides on the first page of the search results on Google and AOL (when the rest are online offerings or national directories) is the most relevant listing for the consumer’s search. The consumer will know that because that if you are a local business, your geographic information is seen. Getting set up with google adwords is something you can do yourself but there are so many components and intricacies to setting it up and so much time needed to maintain it properly. There is so much detail that Google has a certification course that we have completed.

The program is pay-per-click, meaning that you are set up with google to only pay them when someone clicks onto your web site from the sponsored search results on top or on the right hand side of the page of results.

That is not the only way to be found. There are organic ways to come up high on the search engine results for local searches. To come up on the top of the search engines for general terms like “wedding invitations” involves thousands of dollars and thousands of hours in search engine optimization. However, if you are in Des Moines, Iowa, it is much easier to come up if someone is typing in “Wedding Invitations Des Moines”.

The first way to even have a chance of being found organically, is to make sure that your web site content reflects different key words grouped with local information. Besides searches for web sites, there are also searches for images and videos that are being conducted for the same key words. So having them on your web site can be helpful in getting found. Making frequent updates on your web site is helpful as a pattern is determined by Google on how often they think you update your web site and will electronically scan your web site for relevance in different key word searches. That determines how high up you will appear. Another little known way is the age of the domain name. Even if your web site is new, if it is a domain name that was registered 10 years ago that helps.

Naturally, just like wedding and party magazines, there are wedding and party web sites that attract a tremendous amount of relevant traffic and you can pay for a local listing. A number of retailers I have spoken to have gotten some customers from The Knot. There are other sites that are free to a get a basic listing on and then you can pay for an upgraded listing. An example of free directories with other advertising options are:

Another web site to look at for exposure:

Another strategy to help support the traffic to your web site is establishing a blog. A blog can have a separate web site address and can act as an ongoing newsletter where you share information that is of interest to your readers. You can communicate the availability of this resource to your customers and establish a link on your web site and the blog would link to your web site. As I mentioned earlier, search engines try to find the most relevant information for a customer that is searching for something specific and blogs are highly rated by search engines because of their editorial aspect. Ironically this blog sometimes gets found by consumers doing general searches for invitations. A free way to establish a blog which is recorded by search engines (I use it)

Here are some other tools:

Establish profiles on the following sites:– build a profile of your business, a fan page for your business and build or participate in groups for networking and learning.– develop a network of people you know and build a profile of your business. – develop a profile and network with people you know and others by interest. – similar to linked in(above) – build incoming links to the content on your site which can help build traffic. and post videos or an invitation slide show with a graphic of your web site.

I hope these ideas and resources help your business, and if you need help with implementation because of time constraints or want to maximize the benefits of these resources, we can help at Local Traffic Builder.