<link rel="stylesheet" href="//fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Roboto%3A300%2C400%2C500%2C700%7CRoboto+Slab%3A400%2C700">What is Local SEO? - Home Improvements SEO

Local SEO helps businesses promote their products and services to local prospects and customers.

Local SEO isn’t complicated

It’s just about finding out what your competitors are doing and then doing it a little bit better.

To gather information for local search, search engines rely on signals such as local content, social profile pages, links and citations to provide the most relevant local results to the user.

Why Local Search Is Powerful for small businesses

Four out of five consumers use search to find local information, which means that if your business isn’t optimised for local search, you could be missing out on 80% of your local customers. In short, local SEO is critical if you want your business to stay relevant.

Why Your Google Rankings Can Make or Break Your Business

Google rankings are more important than you might think for your business. The ongoing trend is the Internet and social media are driving businesses. In order to reach out to any new customer base, you must understand your local rankings matter.

Your local rankings are what can make or break the growth of your business. It is not just about climbing Google rankings, but using your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to maximize the reach of your business.

SEO is the way to be able focus your business presence on the Internet in online searches. It speaks to specific results, not paid for, and all the big search engines, specifically Google. This has been growing in status for use by both small and large businesses.

Research is proving that more and more potential customers are going straight for the top search results on a search engine page. They do not even take the time to look through the results further down on the page. If your site is not in those top few, it can cost you a lot of prospective new business.

A large number of all searches have local intent. Getting your business onto that topmost search list is vital to accessing that customer base and boosting your sales. These potential customers are virtually right at your front door.

Use Online Research Tools to Boost Effectiveness

In order to catch these prospective customers, you need to be able to utilize critical online tools to achieve your best reach and keyword optimisation. It is important to look up available local research tools that can help you to organize search results for your business around specific keywords and locations.

You can submit a detailed profile to your chosen tool and expand your results so a potential customer can find them no matter what device they are using. You will also want to use exact and accurate keywords to describe your business. It must be effective and descriptive. These words will act as direct lines from your business site to the search engine.

You want to think about how people will look for your business during an Internet search. For example, if you own a high-end women’s clothing store, you would want to think about using words such as boutique, specialty, and designer in your public profile. The only rule is to think up what your customer base will use to find you.

When customers provide online reviews on your business, the good reviews can increase the search for your services. If your business has registered with any local online directories or review sites, Google can track these trusted sites for your business’s name and connect the details to related searches.

Your ranking will depend on two things: how closely your description matches the business profile being searched for, and how easily the searcher can interact with your profile. The more people who click on your link in the search engine, the higher your link will be on the results page, resulting in more business traffic. It is vital to use your rankings to maximize your reach and positively expand your business reach.

Now that you know a bit about how Google rankings affect your business, it’s time to do something about it. Whether you choose to do it alone or you decide to hire a professional SEO expert, the benefits are something you can’t deny, so don’t put it off any longer.

Local SEO Package

If your company has a website, chances are you know a little something about search engine optimisation (SEO.) Since the early days of the internet, web designers and business owners have done whatever they can to guarantee their website is at (or near) the top of search results for chosen keywords.

As Google’s search algorithms get more sophisticated, though, they began to custom-tailor results to suit the preferences of the user ‐ and that includes geographical location. That’s where local SEO comes in. It’s the process of optimising your website to get a higher “local” search ranking.

Oftentimes, Google users enter geo-targeted keywords to find local businesses – such as “best pizza in Brighton.” If you own a pizzeria in Brighton, you want your restaurant to show up high on that results list, and that’s why local SEO is important.

It differs from regular SEO in a few key ways:

* Regular SEO is about building authority for a website (which may or may not include geographical information); local SEO is about establishing reliability for a business that exists in a particular physical location.

* Regular SEO relies heavily on backlinks to build credibility for a site in the eyes of the search engines; local SEO relies on citations that verify the business is real, as well as solidify their location.

* The goal of regular SEO is to rank organically high for chosen keywords; the goal of local SEO is to also break into the list of local search results.

How do you know if you need local SEO?

The answer to that question is very simple. If you own a brick and mortar store that relies on local customers to stay afloat, you need local SEO.

Most consumers today go online search engines to find local products, services, and businesses. In other words, many of your potential customers are looking for a place to buy via web search and your company isn’t ranking well, you’re missing out.

Before we get into the Local SEO Checklist, let’s identify some of the key benefits of local SEO:

* It helps generate traffic for both your website and your physical location
* It increase name recognition
* It helps build authority and credibility for your business
* It is easier to move up in a local search (if you do it right) than in organic search
* It can increase your return on investment (ROI) because you are spending marketing pounds where they will do the most good
* It increases conversions ‐ companies that rank high for local search get more conversions because the people who see them on Google are a targeted audience

Now that you have a basic idea of what local SEO is and why you need it, let’s get into the local SEO checklist.

Local SEO Checklist

What do you need to do in order to successfully optimise your website for local search? Local SEO has many things in common with traditional SEO, so let’s run them down.

Keyword Selection

The first step in any SEO strategy is to identify the best keywords for your business to target. A keyword is a search term or phrase entered by internet users to find information about a certain topic, product, service, or business.

Once they do, the search engine goes to work to find the best web pages to match the keyword; they also prioritise the list of results based on the best match for the keyword.

The good news is… coming up with a list of good keyword terms for local business is much easier than general SEO. It all boils down to location relevance and industry topic relevance. For instance, let’s say you’re a divorce solicitor in the East Sussex area. Obviously, you want people to find your business when they go online to search for “Sussex divorce lawyers.”

So by optimising your site ‐ and other online properties – for this keyword term, you have a better chance of showing up higher in the results. Although you can target multiple keywords throughout your website, it’s best to start with only a few. If you focus on too many different keyword phrases in the beginning, you will wear yourself thin and it will be harder to get results.

To develop a list of keywords, first come up with a list of terms and phrases you think your target audience would use to find your type of business. Based on this list, you can do further research to choose the best keyword terms.

What geographical areas does your business serve?
How would people describe what your business provides?
What different products or services do you offer that could be used as search terms by consumers?
What type of problems does your business solve for consumers?
What keywords are your competitors using in their SEO?

TIP: Don’t be too general or broad with your keyword selections. It’s important to use the right combinations of keyword variations in order to reach the right target audience. User intent has become a major search ranking factor. So when selecting your keywords, think about what a user is REALLY looking for when typing in that phrase.

For instance, a plumber may choose “leaking tap” as a keyword. However, this may not be a good term to target because someone could simply be looking for information about fixing a leaking tap themselves and not necessarily looking to hire a plumber.

However, if someone puts a city and/or state after a keyword term, they’re likely looking to do business.

Keep in mind that searchers are becoming more and more specific with location-based searches. So be sure to localize your keyword phrases as much as possible to target specific areas. For instance, if your business is located in a suburban area of a major city, use keywords for that suburban town instead of trying to target the major city. Also feel free to hyper-target specific neighborhoods too if it works for your business.

You can also use the free Google AdWords Planner tool, as well as other keyword tools out there (some paid, some free) to check the number of searches and competition levels for each term. Due to the fact that this tool provides data based on whether there are advertisers for the selected keywords, it does not give you exact figures and should not be your only determining factor for keyword selection.

Another good resource for choosing your keywords is Google’s suggested search terms; these are additional phrases that Google suggests in the search box as a user types in a particular keyword. They also give additional suggested terms at the bottom of the search results pages.

If you have Google Analytics on your website, this is another great resource to check to see which keyword terms are bringing in traffic currently.

On-Site SEO

Once you have identified keywords, the next step is to jump into on-site optimization ‐ the things you can do on your website to help you rank for local searches:

* Include keywords (including geographical information) in key spots on your page: title tag, meta tags, alt image tags and even in the URL if you can.
* Create fresh and relevant content that includes your local keywords. Don’t spam keywords ‐ include them as an organic part of your content.
* Make sure your name, address and telephone number is embedded in the HTML code of every page.
* Include localization in blog posts and other content.
* Create a geo sitemap and KML file (keyhole markup language) that will allow your site to show up on Google Earth and Google Maps.
* Optimize logos and images with localized file names and alt tags.
* Blog about locally relevant topics.
* Embed social media sharing buttons on your website.
* Include information about your company’s history and local roots on your “About Us” page.
* Participate in (and blog about) local events.

Off-Site SEO

SEO also includes factors that aren’t on your website:

* High quality backlinks from authoritative sites
* Content on video-sharing sites such as YouTube
* Content on social media

In order for these items to help you with local SEO, they have to include information like your location, as well as some of your important keyword terms.

Off-site optimisation also includes several other key areas, which we will discuss in the following sections.

Local Directory Listings

Another important component of local SEO is getting your company listed in local directories.

1 Sign up for Google My Business
2 Fill out your profile completely. Make sure to include:
– Company name
– Full address & phone number
– Proper product & service categories
– Photographs
– Videos
– Optimised description
– Encourage customer reviews
3 Sign up (or claim your business) on other directories, including Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Yelp, etc
4 Maintain a presence on location-specific social media, such as FourSquare, Citysearch and Mojopages
5 Seek out industry-specific directories as well

Citations

Consistency does matter with local SEO, and nowhere is it more important than with listings of company name, address and phone number ‐ also known as NAP citations. A NAP citation is not a link ‐ it is merely a listing of your primary business information. Having a large number of accurate NAP citations is a huge part of getting your business to rank in local search results. Here are some things to keep in mind when collecting and monitoring citations:

Get as many citations for your business as you can. A citation may include listings in directories like the ones mentioned above. However, other sources include:

– Better Business Bureau
– Local chambers of commerce
– Yellow Pages
– Local business directories
– Horizontal directories like Yelp
– Region-specific sites (www.Brighton.co.uk/places)
– Industry-specific directories
– Non-structured listings, such as those in local magazines or newspapers
– Be consistent when submitting your information. Even minor difference (“Street” instead of “St.” or listings with and without a building number) can impact your search ranking.
– Weed out duplicate listings
– Track down and correct inaccuracies

The goal is to have all of your NAP listings look exactly the same, because Google’s algorithms will not be able to aggregate them. Remember, the goal of local SEO is to give the location of your business credibility and authenticity. You can’t do that if there are 10 different versions of your address out there. As you work your way through existing citations, keep a list of every place you are listed. That way in the future, if you change locations, you will be able to easily change your address when you need to.

Delete Duplicate Listings & Citations

As mentioned earlier, consistency is extremely important with local SEO. Google your business name or phone number and:

* Update addresses if you have moved
* Request that duplicates be removed
* Keep an eye out for fraudulent entries

If keeping track of online listing and citations has not been a priority, you may find that you are listed on cites where you need to log in. If that is the case and you do not remember your password, you may have to do a little extra work to get the listing corrected. Take the time to do it, because inaccuracies will be reflected in your local search ranking.

Content Marketing

Online content has become one of the most important factors for increasing brand visibility and influence online. Since 97% of consumers search for local businesses online, creating content tailored towards your specific target audience can be powerful for helping you get more traffic.

Content marketing is the practice of publishing interesting, useful, relevant content related to your industry online. The key here is to leave “selling” out of it and let your content do the selling for you in an indirect way. Instead, the focus should be on building relationships with your audience and establishing expert status in your industry. The overall goal is to engage your readers, which will help you convert those leads into customers.

* Define your target audience
* Choose your keywords
* Research topics for your content
– Twitter Local Trends
– Local News
– Local Forums & Blogs
– Local Events
* Create a blog and post often
* Share content on social media
* Repurpose content into visual and rich media, such as videos, presentations, podcasts, images etc.
* Rinse and repeat for the long-term

Encourage Customer Reviews

Encourage your customers to review your business on Google+, Yelp or other review sites. The number of reviews you have has a direct impact on your Google placement. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

* Make sure to claim your business on all review sites and fill out a complete profile.
* Encourage reviews by putting logos for review sites on your page, or on your receipts.
* Make a point of responding to both positive and negative reviews.
* Suggest customers write reviews on a regular basis. It is better to have a steady stream of reviews than a huge flood of them.

Social Media

No local business can afford to overlook the importance of social media. That is as true of local SEO as it is of SEO in general. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

* Maintain an active presence on important social media sites, including Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube. Note: Google+ is owned by Google. It is not as popular as Facebook, but having a presence there for your business is a must. Information and reviews on Google+ have a direct impact on your search rank.
* Fill out your profile and bio completely, and make sure to link back to your website.
* Have an editorial schedule that you stick to ‐ having a Facebook page won’t matter if you never update it. You need to keep your followers engaged.
* Use geo-specific keywords in your social media content. This will help you to optimize your social media content ‐ and that will play a role in improving your rank in local search.
* Interact with other local business on social media.
* Follow relevant local organizations and events, such as your Chamber of Commerce, local farmers’ markets, trade associations and fairs. Share their content when appropriate ‐ and try to get them to share yours.
* Embed social sharing icons on your website.

Be Mobile Ready

More and more customers are accessing information about local businesses on their mobile devices. If your site is not already mobile-friendly, it should be. Here are some things to remember:

* On April 21, 2015 Google released a new algorithm to ascertain how mobile-friendly websites are. It was expected to have a significant impact on local mobile rankings.
* You can test your website by plugging the URL into Google’s Mobile Friendly Test Tool
* Make sure the mobile version of your site is optimized for geo-specific keywords, just as your regular site is.
* Put an emphasis on getting the mobile version of your site to load quickly. Sites that load slowly (anything over 3 seconds is considered slow) have a high bounce rate ‐ and your bounce rate can have an impact on your local search placement
* Think about including rich snippets ‐ these are pieces of additional information such as your business hours, prices and products that can be coded to show up on under your page name in a list of search results.
* Design your mobile site for fat fingers. You want quality content, but it also needs to be easy to navigate on a small screen. Mobile users will get frustrated if things are too close together or difficult to read.

Online Videos

Videos are arguably the most popular kind of online content. A huge percentage of people watch videos online, and they are some of the most frequently-shared content.

Creating and posting videos is a great way to boost your local SEO. Here are some tips:

* Post videos on your website, as well as on video sharing sites such as Youtube and Vimeo
* Geotag videos with your location information. YouTube makes this easy ‐ all you need to do is go to Advanced Settings and search your location
* Include a link to your website in the description of the video
* Include your name, address and phone number in the frames at the end of the video ‐ Google’s algorithms will be able read the data, even when it is in video form
* Also include your NAP in the audio ‐ Google produces a transcript of the video, so then your NAP will be included in the transcript
* Make full use of the opportunity to describe your video. In addition to a link to your website, include your NAP and a small bio or description of your business
* Associate the video with the Google+ page for your business
* Associate the video with your Google My Business page
* Embed the video on your website or blog
* Share the video on your social media pages and encourage others to share it as well

Regularly Monitor, Tweak and Improve

Once you have completed the local optimization of your site, it is important to be vigilant. Just as you would with regular SEO, you need to make a point of monitoring:

* Your citations and directory listings
* Your backlinks
* Your online reviews
* Your social media pages

If your standing in local search is not where you want it to be, you will need to continue tweaking your page and your off-site links and social media to improve your standing. Some things that may help you to improve include:

* Doing a user experience audit of your website ‐ both the web and mobile versions
* Get your page to load more quickly
* Conduct ongoing keyword research
* Review traffic and tweak keywords as needed
* Do split testing of various components of your site
* Read Google’s guidelines and best practices

Keeping your site optimized for local SEO is not a one-time thing. It requires an ongoing effort on your part. You can take steps now to get things started, but then it makes sense to have a regular schedule for monitoring your online presence.

Local SEO Priorities

Even if your business gets a certain number of customers who are not local to your brick-and-mortar store, making local SEO a priority is a no-brainer for every business owner who wishes to tap into their local market.

Regardless of your industry, an increasing number of your customers are using mobile and desktop devices to look for local businesses. This means you cannot afford to ignore the importance of optimizing your website for local search.

The information contained in this book is a jumping off point for you to start the work of optimizing your site. If you are not an SEO expert, don’t worry. There are resources available that can help you cover the territory covered in this checklist.

The important thing to remember is that not optimizing your business for local search means that you will be missing out on opportunities to attract new customers. Businesses which rank in local searches see more conversions ‐ and more sales ‐ than businesses which don’t.

If you would like the help of a skilled and professional Local Online Marketing Specialist to get things going down the right path, do not hesitate to contact us.

3 Ways to Gain SEO Momentum from Your Competitors

Search engine optimisation does not have to be an independent venture; using your competitors’ online presence as a resource and working with them to promote your services can ensure that search engines are providing the fullest benefits to your business. Below are just a few methods of gaining SEO momentum from your competitors:

Echo Their Social Media Strategy

An impressive social media presence is crucial to search engine optimisation. The more engagement you have on social media, the more likely you are to appear as a top result on a search engine page.

Investigate your competitors’ social media pages; are they engaging with their audience on a consistent basis? Is there audience highly-responsive to their content? Are their pages showing up in the search results for some of your keyword terms?

Use your knowledge of your competitors’ social media audience to tailor your presence to a similar demographic. Once you have a handle on how effective their pages are, you can target these same groups of people with advertisements and by creating posts that appeal to them.

Content management and page upkeep play a large part in retaining social media followers. Does your demographic seem to respond to a page posting links to relevant articles, do they prefer a quiet page that only posts about upcoming deals and coupons, or do they prefer a page that interacts with them on a personal level, sending direct offers or tagging clients in status updates? Make note of how your popular competitors interact on social media, and mimic their strategy.

Use Their Name to Gain Recognition in Your Area

Although it may seem counter-productive, using your competitor’s name in conjunction with your own can be beneficial. Your potential clients are searching for your services, and whether they are conducting a search for a specific company name or a general location and service search, your successful competitors will appear in their search engine.

Compose an honest and straightforward article that highlights your strengths and makes note of any areas where you overshadow your competitors. When a potential client searches for information about your service, whether by typing in your competitor’s name or a description of the service, your comparison may appear, exposing your business in a positive light.

Actively Engage with Them Online

It may seem risky to promote the name of any business other than your own, but when you interact with a competitor online, it increases the visibility for both of your businesses. In general, having a larger and more active online presence will increase the chances that your company appears on a search engine, but interacting with a competing business also creates the opportunity for you to attract your competitor’s customers.

By interacting with your competitors online, you are making yourself visible to their existing customers and increasing your chances of being more noticeable on search engines.

Ensuring that your SEO strategy is well-rounded and targeted to the correct demographic may seem tricky, but by using your competitors as a resource, taking cues from their strategies, and working with them to establish an engaging online presence, you can simplify the process and guarantee the success of both of your businesses!

Not Considering User Intent? Your SEO Strategy is Incomplete

“Just Google it” is the phrase you probably hear everywhere you go nowadays. As search engines continue to improve by focusing more on user experience, your search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy should always consider decoding user intent.

What is User Intent?

User intent refers to anything customers intend to look for when they conduct a search query on the Internet. The intent may be shown through keywords or by implication. For instance, if you type the word “crawfish” into many search engines, a list of local seafood restaurants appears as a result. The search engine matches the user intent based on search data, click data, and heuristics, and no longer produces old simple results from keywords. Thus, successful SEO strategy requires a good grasp of user intent.

Different Types of User Intent

There are typically three main types of user intent: navigational, informational, and transactional. Navigational intent is when a user wants to get to a certain site. If a user tries to look for information, it is called informational intent. And when a user wants to perform an activity or purchase something online, it is considered transactional intent.

How to Create Content That Relates

To develop a solid SEO content strategy, you need to understand what customers truly want about your products or service and would be more likely to put in their online search. The initial step is to list everything your business does and wants to be looked up for.

Categorize those things into types of user intent and assign value to each one to help prioritize efforts and resource allocation. Then, brainstorm about the types of media, message, or graphics that need to be created to match with the user intent incorporated in your marketing plan.

User Intent Differences Across Devices

Users move across platforms and devices to search and make decisions. It is vital that your SEO agency can help you plan a content approach that reaches multiple media channels where potential customers can possibly have access.

Mobile users may aim at finding a quick answer, compared to longer results on a desktop. For instance, a user who looks for “furniture” on a phone is more likely to pay attention to the differences in prices and images of the product than to detailed descriptions of it. Therefore, the time element plays a role in the types of products searched on devices.

Moreover, mobile search tends to yield more local-based results. This means regional business owners can advertise to and capture local customers with promotions that cater to a specific demographic. When a user uses location-based keywords such as “used cars for less than $2,000 in San Jose,” you have a clear indication of what the user is searching for. With this information, design content, product positioning, and a marketing plan will be simplified.

Shifting the focus of keyword search to user intent will help business owners seize more opportunity to attract and accommodate customers. The success rate depends on how much you understand user intent and are able to develop a content strategy around it.

Why Social Engagement is Important for SEO

Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo are the most popular ways in which people search the Internet. Search engines rank the results by deciding which website, video, or image is most relevant to the user. Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is an important way in which you can take advantage of the algorithms used by these search engines to make sure your content comes out on top.

While most websites simply make sure that certain keywords relevant to their potential visitor are dotted across every page, it takes a lot more than constant keyword repetition to make a for an effective SEO plan. It also takes an efficient, dedicated social engagement strategy.

Search Engines Care a Lot About Visibility on Social Media

From the 1.39 billion active monthly Facebook users, to the 40 million registered users on Vimeo as well as everything beyond and in-between, social media is a huge potential pool of customers, even for the most specialized of websites.

Link building, or creating as many links as possible to your website, is no longer the most effective way to drive up search engine rankings.

These days many search engines would rather take into account the number of people Tweet-ing, Yelp-ing, and blogging about your business. Google, for example, is all about the value you bring to customers. So you can claim up and down that yours is the best online store on the web, but if you do not have the numbers, the search engines do not care.

Search Engines Do not Like Spam

Many search engines are wary of spam. They are just as dedicated as you are to making sure that users get the information they are looking for, instead of just social media accounts with links to more links and click-bait. Search engines do not just care about visibility on social media, but about the authenticity of that visibility.

Social media users tweeting organically about your service are far more valuable to your search engine rankings than spamming your social media accounts with links back to your website. Search engines are a business too, and they want to make sure that the service they offer is effective.

Social Media Users Trust Each Other More Than They Trust Marketers

Imagine if a person you did not know, told you to use a service you had never heard of. Now imagine if your friend asked you to use the same service. That is the difference between you doing the marketing for your website, and social media doing the marketing for you.

Social media users exist in interconnected webs, whether online or in real life. Penetrating a social media circle does not just mean connecting with the two or three dozen people within that circle. It means connecting with friends, family, admirers, and even fans. Not only will putting your marketing in the hands of social media increase traffic to your website, but it will also improve your search engine rankings in one fell swoop.

Conclusion

Not only is social media a quick and easy way to produce more traffic, it is also a valuable, crowd sourcing SEO tool. Engaging with social media allows you to reach out to, get to know, and grow your audience online. In increasing your authenticity and visibility online, your business becomes an entity that both potential customers and search engines can trust.

Using Local Industry Articles to Generate New Business

With most consumers doing a quick Google search for local products and services, a positive online presence is absolutely vital for the modern brick and mortar store. Here is a quick guide to help demystify the “science” behind creating meaningful industry articles to help get new customers into your store.

Let’s say you own a juice bar in Los Angeles, CA. You will want to create content that incorporates the keywords people are typing in when looking for juice bars in Los Angeles. For example, “cold-pressed juice in Los Angeles” or “LA juice bars” may be popular terms. Be sure to integrate them into your article in a natural way that will capture the attention of local prospects.

People today spend much of their lives online and, as a result, are becoming much savvier at picking out promotional content. Most readers are inclined to skip sponsored articles in favor of something that feels a bit more authentic. Before writing your article, try putting yourself in the reader’s shoes by asking yourself a few questions, such as:

* Is the content engaging? Does it read as conversational, or is it full of language that is difficult to grasp?
* Does the use of keywords seem forced or natural? Avoid “keyword stuffing” or forcing keywords awkwardly into a sentence.
* Is the information useful to the reader? Be it a post on how to save water in your household, or a salad recipe made with local produce, how can you leverage your industry expertise in a way that connects with your target consumer?

Getting More Views and Shares

The more platforms your industry articles link to, the greater chance a potential customer finds your website. Post articles to your company’s social media pages and, remember, posts that include images get more likes and shares. Facebook friends can be a great resource for promoting blog posts, as they are likely to share an article they find interesting or useful.

Another option is becoming a guest blogger on a well-known website. Submitting articles through other platforms can increase your readership, and in turn, generate traffic to your own site.

Remember, Quality Counts

Flooding search engines with a deluge of industry articles might sound like a good way to get your business on the map, but it can actually have the opposite effect. Search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo! are becoming more aware that some businesses churn out low-quality articles en masse to generate more web traffic and, as a result, are flagging such articles as spam.

Regardless of the spam risk, writing thoughtful, well-researched content is invaluable, fostering a meaningful connection with the reader.

Don’t Overthink It!

Creating relevant content that promotes web traffic, and by extension, in-store customers, should not be daunting. Have fun, and create the kinds of articles you would want to read. Whether it is an article on how to save gas money, make a healthier smoothie, or find your signature cologne, finding a way to connect to customers is key.

3 Signs that Your SEO is Failing

Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is the process by which your website is built with the goal of having it appear higher in search results. This criterion is always changing to keep up with searchers’ needs and expectations, so your approach to your site design must change to keep up with them.

If it has been a few years, or even months, since your site was updated, you may notice your conversion rate dropping off. To help you judge your site’s SEO effectiveness, these are 3 signs that your SEO is failing.

Phone Calls Slow Down

When your website is left to fend for itself, it quickly becomes out of date. Search engines like Google look at the last time your site was updated and use that as part of their ranking criteria. Sites that are updated often are ranked higher, thereby generating more top hits and, as a result, more conversion from search results to customer contact. When your SEO is out of date, you will notice a market decline in customer contacts, including phone calls, over the course of a couple months.

Decline in Organic Website Traffic

Organic traffic is one of the most reliable ways to measure the effectiveness of your SEO, as it refers to the people who found your website through a search engine. If you log into the Google Analytics tool then click on “Acquisitions,” you will see a breakdown of where the traffic to your site is coming from, including searches, social media, direct visits, and referrals. This is something you want to keep an eye on monthly, if not weekly, to look for any drops and where they are coming from.

Drop in Keyword Rankings

While keywords are not as major a factor in search rankings as they once were, they still count toward the way Google views your website. Keywords now play a role more aligned with the intent of the person searching. This means building higher quality, more relevant content features into your content rather than strictly building it around specific keywords. By using a half a dozen or so keywords as your reference point, you can watch their performance to determine how they affect your rankings.

Oversaturating your website with keywords is another way to lose rank in the Google search algorithm. If you are overusing keywords and clumping them all together at the top of your page, Google will look at this as spam and will drop your ranking accordingly. Keeping an eye on keyword performance can be tedious, but it can provide a good deal of information about your rankings.

So, how do you address these problems? The key is to stay updated on the criteria the major search engines use to determine how your website fits into the searches being conducted. Spread out your keyword usage throughout the page with no more than a 3 percent ratio of keywords to content. Keep your site updated regularly, ultimately weekly, so Google knows is it not abandoned. Most importantly, make use of Google’s reporting features to learn where improvements are necessary, and your site will remain on top.

How To Get Your Fair Share Of “Near Me” Leads

Whether traveling, exploring their neighbourhood, or just attempting to recall the name of their local dry cleaners, thousands of consumers are using their mobile Near Me tools to identify local businesses. Are you making the most of an open opportunity to drive customers to your business’s doorstep?

Verify Sites for Accurate Representation

The first and most important step in making the most of the Near Me features available to consumers through mobile apps is to confirm that all information available to potential customers is accurate. One of the best ways to do this is by searching your business through Google ‐ and preferably from a mobile device. What do you see? This is exactly what your customers and potential customers see. If any information is incorrect or missing, clean it up.

Cultivate Curb Appeal

Once customers have located your business and have the information they need to find you, they will need a better reason than proximity to get them in the door. This is especially true in densely populated areas. Apps like Yelp and Foursquare allow businesses to advertise special deals for new customers. Offers usually request that customers “check in” using various social media sites such as Facebook or Instagram which then multiplies exposure and increases your visibility within the market. Finding a way to stand out amongst prospects is imperative in leveraging the benefits of the Near Me feature.

Business Be Aware, Not Business Beware

When consumers use the Near Me now feature, they are bombarded with a plethora of information, not just your location and phone number. A majority of mobile apps and search engines also provide shoppers with reviews and ratings from other customers and clients. Being aware of your reputation is vital in creating a reputation and image that attracts local business. Encourage happy clients to write reviews on a variety of sites. Don’t be afraid to ask satisfied customers for positive feedback and be sure to spread that feedback out over a variety of search based apps and sites. It’s best to consider both criticism and compliments. After all, a bad review is still a review.

Consider Keywords

Keywords are also important in optimising Near Me leads. Many location based search apps allow you to explore specialty services or deals within a location or proximity. Properly using keywords throughout your website or page should be a familiar internet marketing strategy that is utilized frequently.

Research the competition and make small changes to your existing sites. What makes your company distinct amongst the rest? Keywords that include your businesses location (city or well known neighborhood) within the Meta tag can increase your Near Me leads. Headings and anchor text can also help to improve search engine ranking. Consider using phrases such as, “Best Happy Hour in San Francisco.” This provides your location as well as important phrases, drawing business through your doors as opposed to your competitors.

Millions of people each day use location based mobile and social media apps to make decisions such as where to eat, which plumber to use, or other service or product based choices. A few simple tweaks to your existing sites or commonly used search engines can assist in making sure that your business receives its optimal share of their potential buying power.

Avoid Losing Customers Due To NAP Inconsistencies

In an age where social media is more relevant than local newspapers and local listings are more relevant than the physical Yellow Pages, it has become increasingly important to maintain a consistent business profile online.

NAP stands for the “name,” “address,” and “phone number,” and makes up the basic elements of your company’s online profile.

NAP accuracy can strengthen your company’s credibility and overall brand, while inconsistencies can deter and discourage potential customers. In short, when someone searches for your company on a local web engine such as Google or Yahoo, the ideal situation is that all contact information remains consistent and updated.

Beyond the technicalities of potential customers not being able to reach your company, having the wrong information posted online can also detract from the amount of attention you are receiving in a search.

Google tracks the citations of the business and omits certain information from searches when they detect inconsistent information.
The technology Google uses to track your business information will match your listings with as many search results as possible. The less variation you have in this information, the higher the ranking your business could potentially have.

This function was designed to provide the most optimized and relevant search results to users, but can also serve as a major marketing disadvantage to business owners who are not aware of their online profile.

Keeping all of your business’s listing information relevant and synced at all times ensures that your business data is being distributed to the largest number of people possible. The more potential customers you have accessing your business profile, the better chance your business has of succeeding.

Types of Inconsistencies to Avoid

The technical aspect of NAP consistency can be as specific as ending your company’s name with an “Inc.” or “Co.” Some other popular mistakes that business owners make are:

* Using various spellings and/or abbreviations of the company name
* Having duplicate listings
* Misinformation
* Incomplete information

These errors will create confusion within servers and even among potential clients.

When maintaining consistency, it is important to include area code numbers when listing phone numbers, and spelling out the correct street suffix when providing addresses. Search engines can detect these minute details, which could negatively influence your business’s search ranking if incorrect.

The first step to fixing NAP inconsistency is to take control of your listings on search engines. You can easily do this by typing your business name into a web engine such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo.

Then, you can view and make any changes to the listings that are already available online. By following these steps, you are taking the first initiative to creating a stronger marketing strategy for your business. That stronger marketing strategy will result in more customers and better sales.

Leveraging a Blog to Attract Customers

Attracting local business using a blog could be among the most effective strategies currently available. Potential customers can utilize a blog to initiate contact with a company. With constant changes to Google’s methods, blogging can also enhance rankings by making your site more relevant to the local market.

Here are some tips to get you started putting a blog to work.

Local Audience Targeting

Products or services can be featured in a blog from the local audience’s perspective, making them more appealing to customers in the area. Writing from a potential customer’s point of view is a good way of engaging their interest in doing business with a company. Articles could be written about charities that serve the area, services offered that help the local community in some way, or local events around the city.

Interviews with local business owners or experts could also be used to provide customers insight into company goals, values, and what the business has to offer, in addition to issues that are important to the community. A news blog would keep your readers informed of sales, celebrations, current events, and other happenings.

Focusing on the Customer

A customer’s special day or milestone could be acknowledged and featured, with their permission of course. This would demonstrate to the person, and other readers, that you value and appreciate those who do business with you. It also shows that you genuinely care about them, not just from a business standpoint.

Some of the creative or unique ways someone has used your product or service could be reported. This could include a video or audio clip of an interview or demonstration of the way the product or service was used. Readers will be able to relate to local residents and their solutions to issues they might also face.

A genuine or creative way to relate information about the local weather and how it affects your community in a blog post could also be used to engage the interest of your readers. You might offer suggestions for weatherizing, advice about storing items for the winter, or tips for when is the best time to plant.

Improving Search Rankings

Keeping your site constantly updated with new information is a good way to improve Google search rankings. A daily blog will demonstrate that your site is a valuable resource for information. It is important to do so in an authentic way, however. A well-known authority on the topic should write the blogs, for example, and thorough research should be conducted to ensure accurate information is included.

Making your site more relevant locally is a key component in attracting customers through Google searches. Keeping your focus on the customer when using a blog can help with not only getting attention but also driving new leads and sales. There are many more options available for using blogs in creative ways. Hopefully the material presented here will spark some inspiration for your own ideas.

It is important to note that a blog will not always be effective, but if done correctly, it can be a powerful tool in connecting with potential customers.

Tips for a Consistent and Authentic Link Strategy

In order to increase your company’s online and offline visibility, you need to establish a consistent and authentic link strategy. Linking to and from websites related to your business and industry help build credibility and helps to lay a foundation of authenticity for both you and your business. But there’s a “right” way to do it.

Go Local

An effective link strategy is not just about building links to your business’ website—there is an offline component as well. One imperative way small businesses build a name for themselves is through local link building. Even the smallest community has the potential for abundant business opportunities if you leverage them properly. Successful strategies commonly include:

* Building on Local Relationships—Offer testimonials for and participate in other people’s events.
* Increasing Community Presence—Look for new opportunities to get involved in your community. Consider getting involved in local boards and giving to charities.
* Creating a Local Blog—Create content that has a completely local focus and will potentially produce an emotional response from the people of your community.

Go Viral

Of course, the goal of your website is creating genuine traffic that will convince people to purchase your goods and services from your website or by visiting your store. Creating a professional-looking website is useful only if potential customers can see it. Business owners who want to build their online presence will:

* Share Website Links—Take advantage of social media. Create Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Instagram pages and share your links when appropriate.
* Include Website Links—When creating newsletters, either physical or via email, include links to the website to make it easier for people to act.
* Do Not Spam—Do not share your website via blog comments or online forums. Spamming severely damages your credibility and gives off an unauthentic feel.

Keep it Real

When developing an authentic link strategy, the most vital tip one needs to consider is this: do not be fake. Most people can tell when someone is using them for his or her own gain and loathe having anything to do with the user. Not only does it potentially sour your relationship with that one person, but that person will likely speak about it to others, and your reputation will take a hit—particularly in a small community. Be true to yourself and be prepared to establish a give and take relationship with other business people in your community.

The Only Constant in Life is Change

All the suggestions relayed here require consistent effort. The most important thing a business owner looking to create a consistent and authentic strategy for link building can do is to be committed. You need to be willing to do what you need to do and willing to adapt your strategy when needed. What works in the short term may not in the long term. Therefore, you need to review your strategy regularly to determine if it is working. Moreover, if not, decide what needs to change and move forward. Be bold and do not be afraid of mistakes; instead, learn from them.

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