Directory Maximizer

Local SEO | The Order Of Things, Some Common Mistakes

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If we look at changes that Google made to Search in 2013, it becomes obvious that local search and mobile marketing are now indispensable components of any successful marketing plan to improve the online visibility of a business. In effect, local search marketing is the process of employing what sometimes feels like an endless list of tactics to optimize your local profile. The success of a local search marketing strategy it seems is contingent upon two things: Proper timing and avoiding local SEO mistakes.

Local-SEO

Proper Timing is Key

A big part of local search marketing is knowing where and when you need to create or claim a business listing. Online, there are many local directories and they constantly pull information from each other such that, at any one point in time, it is practically impossible to differentiate which directory is pulling what information from where. But there is a hierarchy that exists among the various local data providers and aggregators. This explains why if you are to create or claim a business listing, you would do well to start with the big shots and work your way through the one-way or two-way data streams they branch into.

1. Start with the Major Data Providers

Localeze, Acxiom and ExpressUpdateUSA, previously called infrogroup are what you call major data providers. Basically, major data providers are the local directories that supply all the search engines and other local directories with information. As such, these are the local directories you want to start with to create a complete local profile for your business. Verification is usually done via a confirmation email or by phone. After updating and claiming your business listing, it will be a couple of weeks before the search engines and other local directories pull your information from the major data providers and in turn update their record of your business information.

2. Next Stop: The Search Engines

After updating and verifying your business listing with the major data providers and waiting a little while (because you want to avoid creating duplicate and inaccurate profiles), the next stop is claiming your listing with the major search engines including:

  1. Google Places for Business
  2. Bing Business Portal, and
  3. Yahoo! Local

Once you verify your business listing by waiting for a postcard with a pin code or for an automated phone call, you can start updating the listing with photos, videos, work hours and so much more.

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Don’t Click Back! Don’t Let Your Visitors Click Away Either

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Ask any experienced webmaster and they will all confirm the same thing – no matter how many eyeballs or visitors you get to your webpage, chances are that if it isn’t aesthetically designed, 90% of them will simply bounce off, never to be seen again.

designing-a-great-website

As a website owner, it is your job to make sure your website is extra sticky – people should be compelled to stay on your website, reading article after article – that’s one unifying feature of some of the best websites in the world. Your websites need to be optimized for Conversion-Centered Design – people are emotionally affected by your words, and can’t help but click on the links you want them to click on. The following tips will help you create the best design possible and to complement it with the greatest content you can.

Headlines that jump out of the page

Everyone knows headlines can be very powerful. The easiest example is probably right now littered over your Facebook feeds – where content frequently goes viral just because the writers title it with a hyperbolic, emotionally engaging headline. While we do not advise that the greatest value in your website should be the headline itself (typical of viral articles with great headlines and dead content) – it should take a leaf out of their books.

Engaging, unique headlines will provide a good gauge for your readers to get an idea about your article even before they read it. Remember to optimize your titles with your keywords to provide an additional punch. When your title appears in the SERPs, a well written headline will boost click-throughs to your website.

Make it easy to read

Everybody loves easy-to-digest content. Lists, videos, and small articles get more “stickiness” than long, thick blocks of texts. This age, unfortunately or fortunately, is the age of low attention span – make sure your content is organized and broken into neat sections and lists to ensure maximum retention of your visitors’ attentions. People “scan” – they don’t read. Often they will ignore most of the article and skip to the part that is most relevant to them – make sure it can be found easily!

It’s great practice to break your texts into small blocks and generously use subheadings, lists, infographics and other visuals that complement readability.

Write good content

Don’t write for search engines! This is an easy trap to fall into – but there are very few things that are more of a turn off than keyword stuffed text. Write for your readers – they are the ones who will hit the Like, Share and Retweet buttons – which will in turn help you get ranked. Insert your Keywords where they feel natural. Humor is a great technique to get your point across and increase the “viral-ness” of your content.

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How to Know if You Have Been Penalized by Google

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Online marketers and Google have been engaged in a treacherous dance for over a decade. The moment Google comes out with a new algorithm, online marketers try to beat it. Google adapts. Online marketers follow, and the cycle repeats.

google-penalty

In the early days, all you had to do to get ranked highly was get a lot of links pointing to you. That was the very basis of PageRank, the system that used the number of links you had as a determinant of page quality. Marketers learned to game the system. So Google adapted, and started using meta tags to determine page relevance. Marketers figured out that to rank, all you had to do was stuff your pages and your meta-keyword tags with the right keywords. Then, Google adapted again.

Since the early days, Google has come a long way. Google no longer relies on just one or two ranking factors. Instead, Google uses over 200 different factors to determine the quality of your website. Everything from your social media presence, the concentration of ads and your website’s loading speed now plays a role in your search engine rankings.

Yet, in the last few years, Google has really taken things to a new level. They’ve released three game changing updates – Panda, Penguin and Humming Bird – that have seriously changed the game for website owners.

Have you been penalized by one of these updates? That’s what this article will explore. But before we get into that, let’s take a quick look at each of these updates.

The Panda, The Penguin, The Humming Bird

So, what were each of these updates? And what’s the difference between all of them?

Google Panda. The Google Panda update was all about getting rid of low quality websites. A lot of low quality websites were ranking highly in Google, thanks to blackhat ranking techniques. Also, many Google ranking factors – like the “exact keyword in the domain” factor – helped low quality sites get ranked. The Google Panda update penalized and lowered the rankings of these low quality websites.

Google Penguin. While the Panda update targeted low quality websites, the Penguin update targets low quality backlinks. This was known as the anti-spam update. Google actively penalized websites that over-optimized. They also targeted websites that violated the Webmaster Guidelines, as well as websites that used blackhat SEO techniques.

Google Humming Bird. This was the biggest update of all. Instead of changing the old algorithm, which started from the beginning of the Google days, this was a complete overhaul of the algorithm. In other words, Google essentially rewrote its search algorithm from scratch. Instead of being keyword-based, the new algorithm is designed to intelligently understand what a searcher is looking for. It understands sentence structure and conversational questions. This was an especially important update for mobile searches, which are often dictated in the form of a question via voice command.

Those were the three major updates. Each of these updates targeted a very different aspect of SEO. In each of these updates, some websites improved in rankings, while others suffered. How do you know if you’ve been penalized through one of these updates? And what can you do about it?

How to Know if You Were Penalized by Google Panda

A Google Panda slap can take a couple different forms:

1. You notice your traffic spikes and drops erratically. One day you might have normal traffic, then the next it drops back to zero, then the next it bounces back. This means that Google is indexing and deindexing your site repeatedly. This often means there are duplicate content issues, HTML parsing issues or other structural issues with the site. This is less common.

2. The more common way this occurs is a sharp drop directly after a Panda update. To see if your website was caused by a Panda update, check to see if your traffic dropped sharply within a few days of a Panda update. Here’s a complete list of all the Panda update dates.

If you’re getting penalized by Google Panda, the best approach is to work on your content quality. Remove duplicate topic content, even if they’re unique in words. In other words, before the Panda update, “How to Fix a Motor” and “How to Repair a Motor” would be considered unique articles. After Panda, they’re considered duplicate.

Work on creating content that’s quality and gets people to stay on the site longer. Reduce your bounce rate, increase your average pages per visitor. Reduce the number of ads per page. In other words, right now Google considers your website low quality. Work on increasing the quality, rather than on link building techniques. Here’s a video by Matt Cutts that talks about the steps to be taken when hit by a Google Panda update:

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5 Quick Real Life Ways to Build Links

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When marketers and SEOs talk about link building, the major focus is usually on things like content distribution, guest blogging, directory submissions, and things like that. Yes, all of these are cool and make sense, but if you think about it, for most people, especially business owners, most of our time is not spent online.

link-building

When we are not online, we are in the real world; meeting and talking to people, building new relationships, etc. Since we spend most of our time off the computer, why not acquire links then? Building links offline? How? This is what this article is all about.

Tip #1: Reward People

I could really use an example to illustrate what I want to say here. Okay so let’s say you are a gym owner, and a basic membership to your gym costs $25/mo., and you have a $49 initiation fee. A nice way to get people to link to you would be to give them 50% off the initiation fee (or completely waive the fee) if they link to you. If they have a website or blog, great! If not, they could do it from their social accounts. This is an “expensive” example, I know. It’s not set in stone though; you can come up with your own ideas. An alternative to this would be to offer a free bottle of water or a free protein shake after a workout if they share your link (a one-time offer).

Tip #2: Interviews

Interview popular people in your industry. Most popular people LOVE having the spotlight and attention on them. They spread the word about it when that happens…often in the form of links! It doesn’t stop here. People who like them also tend to talk about the events their “idol” or “authority figure” feature in.

So here we are looking at a post on a popular blog maybe. Or a tweet from an account with tens of thousands of followers or more. Plus several retweets and blog posts of their own as well. Great potential here!

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4 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Local SEO Campaign

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Although there are a lot of articles on the subject, local search marketing can be quite tricky. What I would like to share in this article are 4 things that while fairly simple, tend to be overlooked by many business owners or their search engine marketing team.

local-seo

1. Local Data Aggregators

TripAdvisor, Google +, Yelp. Are you optimizing your business listings correctly?

No? You should!

Yes? You shouldn’t stop there!

With Google + having a strong influence in the search engines, I don’t think I even have to say why your listing there should be optimized (okay fine, I just did!). People use Yelp and TripAdvisor all the time, so search crawlers are hanging out there too to see what’s up with your business.

However, some businesses just stop here – and they shouldn’t! Google doesn’t take into account citations from just these 3 places! It crawls 1000s of websites to do so!

Make sure to submit your data on websites that have dedicated “local” pages. A good place to start is on these 4 influential data aggregators: NeustarLocaleze, InfoUSA, Acxiom, and Factual.

Why bother? Well, here is a good way to think of it: If your business is in it for the long-run and is “legit”, you will want it to be found in as many places as possible. This includes offline and online spots. A “dodgy” overnight “business” might run a few PPC or CPM ads, but a legitimate business will take the time to build increase its presence in other ways too. And if 100s of local aggregators mention you, chances are, your business is legit and valuable.

2. 10 Stores = 10 Pages, or Something Like That

This is advice straight from Matt Cutts. Literally, he has a post on his blog titled: “SEO Advice: Make a web page for each store location”.

It’s not a long article, but for those of you who just want the main takeaway, here it is:

Don’t hind your store location information behind a form or a POST. Create a unique, easily crawlable URL for each store. Also have an HTML sitemap of the stores’ web pages if you can. He also acknowledges that this might not be ideal for ALL businesses, so he proposes this solution as well:

“If you have a relatively small number of stores, you could have a single page that links to all your stores. If you have a lot of stores, you could have a web page for each (say) state that links to all stores in that state.”

Oh, and if you really want to maximize your chances of getting ranked higher, then by all means, optimize these pages for mobile too. It should not be a surprise that people are very likely to look for your store location on the go.

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An Unconventional Way to Building Links: Using Images

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Guest posting. Article directories. Press releases. What do they all have in common? They all use words to land you links. But focusing on text-based link building can make you miss out one of the most powerful link building strategies on the planet: image link building. From infographics to icons, quality images can translate into powerful backlinks.

images-link-building

How to Use Images for Link Building

1. Offer Premium Graphics to Other Bloggers in your Industry

This strategy for link building is both easy and rewarding. Create, or purchase the rights to use and distribute quality images that you can barter with other bloggers in exchange of a link back to your site.

Don’t go around spamming other bloggers. Take the time to find blogs that could use those images. For example, a blog that always has nice images in its post. Or why not, a blog that has really good information on it, but lacks some visuals.

2. Reverse Image Search

Sometimes other webmasters will love an original image that you’ve put on your site. So much so that they will feature it on their own. Alas, some of them forget to link back to you. To make sure you get due credit for your hard work on your images or at least a link, head over to Google image search and click on the little camera button in the search field. Paste the URL to the original image you have on your site and click “Search by Image.” Google will show you the pages in their index with that same image.

Visit each page in the results and look for any that don’t include an attribution link.The idea isn’t to be threatening, but to thank the webmasters for posting your work and reminding them to link back to you.

3. Infographics

Infographics are a link builder’s Trojan horse. Armed with a quality infographic, you can get links from authority powerhouses like NYTimes.com and Business Insider.

Of course, for this to happen, you’ll have to do a bit of marketing first.

One of the best ways to get some traction to your infographic is to submit it to free infographic directories. Some of them are:

http://visualoop.tumblr.com/

http://infographic.co.za/

http://visual.ly/

http://www.bestinfographics.co.uk/

http://www.bestinfographics.info/

http://www.infographicpost.com/

http://dailyinfographic.com/

http://newsfix.co.uk/

Other promotion methods include the classic emails, social promotion or paid advertising.

4. Memes

Memes are super-easy to create and have the potential to go viral if you can be creative.

To create a good meme:

- Using Photoshop or Quick Meme, create your meme.

- Once the meme is ready, share it on your social account

- Use your meme in your content distribution campaign (in a blog post or an ebook)

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How to Make Your Website SEO-Friendly | A Developer’s Guide

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It’s hard to find technical SEO information over the web. This cheat sheet is aimed at helping web developers new to search engine optimization with improving their sites’ interaction with both search engines and users. The SEO best practices outlined below apply to sites of all sizes and types and will make your website easier to crawl and index. After all, search engine optimization often boils down to making small modifications to different parts of your website. When combined with other optimizations, these changes improve your site’s user experience and subsequently its performance in the organic search results.

SEO-guidelines-developers

1. The Importance of Unique and Accurate Page Titles

For each page on your website, indicate the page title with a title tag. A tittle tag serves to tell both users of your site and the search engines what topic the page covers. Ideally, you need a unique title for each page. The title for your homepage can be your business name and include other important bits of information such as a physical location or a few of your main business focuses.

SEO Best Practices:

- Choose a title that accurately describes the topic of the page’s content.

- Each page should have a unique title tag.

- Use brief but informative titles.

2. A Page’s Meta Description Tag

A page’s meta description tag summarizes what the page is about. It can be one-sentence long or it can be a short paragraph. Like the page’s title tag, the meta description tag also goes in the <head> tag of your HTML document. Meta descriptions tags are important for pages on a website because these are often used as snippets for the pages by Google.

SEO Best Practices:

- Use a description that accurately summarizes the content on a page.

- Use a unique description for each page.

3. Mind the Structure of Your URLs

Organizing the documents on your website under descriptive categories and file names keeps your website tidy and it helps Google better crawl the documents. It also creates simple-to-understand and user-friendly URLs. A URL that contains relevant words provides users and the search engines with information about the page unlike oddly named parameters. Also remember that the URL to a document is displayed as part of a Google search result.

SEO Best Practices:

- Use URLs with words and not session IDs and other unfriendly parameters.

- It’s advisable to use hyphens to separate words as they’re treated as spaces by the search engines, .e.g. homes-for-sale.html

- Use a simple directory structure to organize the content on your site.

- Provide only one URL to access a specific document to avoid splitting the reputation of that content.

4. Navigation is Important

The importance of the navigation of a website is two-fold: to help visitors find their way around the website and for the search engines to understand what content is more important to the webmaster. Plan the navigation of your website based on your home or “root” page, the starting place of navigation for many visitors.

SEO Best Practices:

- Develop a naturally flowing hierarchy for your content from general content to increasingly more specific documents.

- Control most of the navigation on your site through text links. Avoid navigation based entirely on javascript based drop-down menus – you’re alright if the dropdown menu is CSS based and can be navigated by the search engines.

- You need an HTML site map page and an XML Sitemap file.

- You need a custom 404 page for the occasional user who lands on a page of your site that does not exist.

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