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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