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A 5-Step Process to Outperform Your Competitors in Local Search

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Whether you’re running a small local business or heading an enterprise-level operation, your prospective customers are looking for your business online. To make that connection happen and outrank your competitors, you need to optimize your local search to bring in new website visitors, grow online sales, and keep customers coming back for more.

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1. Have a Solid Online Marketing Strategy to Attract Customers via Local Search

It is absolutely undeniable that Google, Yahoo! and the other search engines have radically changed how we interact, collaborate and shop within our local communities. In fact, statistically, Google alone handles 100 billion searches per month around the world. Of these searches, 7 billion are unique local searches performed on Google per month in the United States.

So if you have a local business or one that targets audiences in a specific geographic location, you cannot under estimate the potential of local search as a form of marketing. Additionally, mobile search is absolutely exploding. According to a 2014 Google study, 4 out of 5 consumers use the search engines to find local information. Of that number, 88% search on their smartphone.

  • 54% search for business hours
  • 53% search for directions to a local store
  • And 50% search for local store addresses

The study also concluded that 18% of local smartphone searches lead to a purchase within a day. Read more

A Guide to How Meta Tags Still Impact SEO

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For a typical query typed into Google’s search bar, Google’s search algorithm relies on more than 200 “clues” to guess what the user might be looking for and give them back exactly what they want. Meta tags are one piece of the Google algorithmic puzzle representing a fantastic way for webmasters to provide search engines with information about their sites.

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But there is confusion among webmasters concerning the importance of meta tags with articles popping up over the web every now and then about how Google ignores meta tags. Perhaps it all started with the following video where Matt Cutts said verbatim “We don’t use the keywords meta tag in our search ranking. Other search engines might but Google doesn’t.”

Note that Matt Cutts only said that Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking. He said nothing more and nothing less about using meta tags as a proxy for information about a website’s content. The keywords meta tag had value at one time for SEO and that’s no longer the case. This does not mean that Google ignores meta tags altogether when it comes to search ranking. For example,

  1. The Meta Robots tag is still one of the most important tags, which lets you influence search engine crawler activity on a per-page level.

For example, you can control how Google and the other search engines treat a page with implementations like:

  • index/noindex: This tells the search engines whether a page should be included or excluded from the index.
  • follow/nofollow: This tells the search engines whether links on the page should be crawled or disregarded.
  • noarchive: This prevents the search engines from saving a cached copy of a specific page.
  • nosnippet: This prevents the search engines from displaying a descriptive block of text next to a page’s title and URL in the SERPs.

There are, of course, other tags that you can use as a way to store information within your site and describe its content for the search engines without being actually viewable by users. Read more

3 Examples of Local Search by Businesses that are Doing it Right

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In 2015, if you want to have a successful local SEO strategy, there are some things you need to know. For example:

1. Your Goals Inform your Campaign

Search engine optimization encompasses technical and creative elements to improve your rankings up the SERPs, drive traffic and increase awareness in the search engines. Therefore, to have a successful campaign, you should have a good idea of what your objectives for SEO are and how it will fit into your marketing mix.

For example, are you interested in traffic or are you interested in conversions you could track. Maybe you want to know how your content pieces are improving your ROI. The truth is: You can have all the traffic in the world but if it is not meeting one of your goals of SEO (conversion or education) then the traffic is not helping any purpose.

2. Tunnel Vision is Not Necessarily Advisable

In a post published on December 3, 2014, Mike Ramsey from Nifty Marketing talked about a click study test he ran through Usability Hub. The first study- “Salt Lake City Hotel” gave the following results of what people clicked on following a Google search for “Salt Lake City Hotel”.

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The takeaway: Users click all over the place and while it is desirable to be number one on the SERPs, you also want to get clicks from your paid ad, local result and barnacle SEO efforts.

3. Don’t Spam

And finally, while Google is getting smarter and better everyday, some spammy tactics still work. Take the example below for instance.

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Don’t do it. Instead, you want to rise above it and do things the right way. If you take shortcuts, sooner or later you will get penalized and it’s not worth the heartache.

3 Examples of Good Local Search

Bricco

If you Google “best Harrisburg restaurants”, you would see that the upscale Mediterranean and Italian restaurant Bricco is the top result.

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Is the food really good there? Sure! Going by the reviews and ratings of the place, Bricco offers a really great dining experience. But that’s not all. It is also listed on trusted and top-ranked sites such as TripAdvisor and Urbanspoon. In SEO, there is a marketing tactic referred to as “Barnacle SEO”.

In essence, just like the way barnacles attach themselves to whales’ skins, in Barnacle SEO, by attaching your name to top-ranked and trusted sites in your industry, you benefit from top rankings in the SERPs as well. This makes it very different for your competition to drown you out SEO-wise.

The takeaway: Do not underestimate the power of good “Barnacle SEO”. Get listed and maintain a good presence on review sites that are trusted in your industry. Read more

The Why & the How of Performing an SEO Audit

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By definition, an SEO audit is a thorough analysis of your website to check the overall health of your search engine optimization, encompassing both technical and creative elements. These optimizations improve rankings, drive traffic and increase awareness in the search engines. Determining their performance can help you identify SEO problems and in turn, determine what is holding back the organic performance of your site.

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So if you’re wondering if should you perform an SEO audit, the answer is yes. Not only should you perform an audit, you should perform a thorough one so that nothing slips through the cracks. An SEO audit can help you:

  1. Analyze and evaluate the quality of your inbound links. This can help you detect if you’re attracting poisonous links from low quality sources such as link farms.
  1. Analyze what your competitors are doing and get an inside look at their backlinks with tools like Open Site Explorer (OSE) & Mondovo.
  1. Check your content and make sure your homepage content and landing pages are optimized.
  1. Check your keyword targeting, keyword cannibalization, content formatting and headlines.
  1. Evaluate your on-page optimization including title tags, meta descriptions, URL structure and images’ file names as well as alt text.
  1. Analyze and evaluate your website’s accessibility and indexation so your content performs better in the search engine listings, including checking the robots.txt.
  1. Check your site’s architecture and internal linking.
  1. Review your website’s mobile experience.
  1. Review page load time for key pages.
  1. Avoid duplicate content by making sure there is one URL for each piece of content and the content does not show up elsewhere on the domain.

These are all small changes that can be made to parts of a website but when implemented combined with other optimizations, they can have a noticeable impact on your site’s performance up the SERPs.

How to Perform a Comprehensive SEO Audit

A comprehensive SEO audit can be broken down into 5 sections:

  1. Accessibility
  2. Indexability
  3. On-page optimization
  4. Off-page optimization
  5. And competitive analysis

Accessibility

Here is the deal: You may have the most beautifully crafted website with the most premium content that you paid the bucks for but if the search engines and users can’t access it, it might as well not exist. Under this section of your SEO audit, you investigate things such as:

  1. Your robots.txt file
  2. URLs that return errors
  3. Your site’s XML Sitemap
  4. Your site architecture
  5. Your site’s usage of Flash and JavaScript navigation
  6. Your website’s performance with tools such as Google Page Speed and YSlow to makes sure your site doesn’t take too long to load.

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Local SEO Tips & Tricks for Multi-Location Pages

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Today’s search engine optimization strategies have mutated drastically, in order to keep up with Google’s ever-changing algorithms. Although national SEO is crucial, local marketing strategies offer a majorly viable source of traffic and potential income. In fact, some businesses will gain more profitability, by catering to a local audience, instead of focusing on the national market.

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Of course, in order to do this, it is imperative to follow the appropriate steps to optimize pages for your local state, city and general region. There are innumerable ways to reap the benefits. These methods will be discussed in-depth below.

Building Specific Pages for Individualized Locations

In order to rank appropriately, within your local market, it is of the utmost importance to target these areas using suitable content. By utilizing location pages and URLs for each specific city and state, you’ll certainly rank better. There are numerous advantages of building distinguished pages for each city, since you can actually optimize each page for the search engine. When you set up a page for your specific city and state, you’ll want to rely on the standard SEO guidelines for optimizing and ranking that page.

  • Use appropriate H1 tags

  • Page titles are crucial

  • Geo-specific keywords in content

  • Use localized URLs

  • Local keywords in IMG tags, when possible

Although it is possible to build content for each individual page quickly, it is advised to do so in a measured manner, in order to ensure that each page is unique. If you have specific operational hours, testimonials or reviews for a particular location, make sure to delegate these to the specific localized page. Once all pages have met a conclusion, ensure that they’re linked together in one form of another. For instance, you can build a main page, which acts as a base and links to the other individualized location pages.

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How to Use Internal Linking to Boost Your SEO Rankings

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Search engine optimization or SEO is a complex process that includes many different elements. This process was once much simpler, but because of the frequent search engine algorithm updates more and more people are starting to look for professional help. When someone mentions SEO or takes a closer look at some SEO company offers, they will notice that most services are focused on link building especially on backlinks or external links.

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Although these links are very important, the fact is that the updates we have mentioned before are usually focused on these links and it is very hard to find a good strategy related to external links. On the other hand, there is one element that is not much affected by these changes and has significant effect on the ranking, but yet for some reason this element is often forgotten or left out. We are talking about internal links.

Internal links are links that direct users to another part of the website or on a new page that is part of the same domain (website). These links are very helpful for the users because they enable them to find what they are looking for fast. In addition, internal links can be very helpful for those who want to improve search engine rankings. In other words, with a proper internal link strategy you can expect longer visits and better rankings.

Where and How Can We Use Internal Links?

1. Use Your Footer

Many website owners don’t pay much attention to the footer although this area can be very useful when it comes to attracting organic search traffic. The website footer is much more than a place where you place a copyright notice and basic info about the creator of the website. This place should be used to improve user experience and assist users who are looking for fast access to the wanted information.

2. Use your Sidebar

If you want to start a successful SEO campaign, you should know that every element of a website can be used for better ranking. The sidebar is another element that can make a difference in your website’s success. Many people use the sidebar to place links or icons that actually direct people from their website to another place – affiliate links, ads, buttons to their social media profiles etc.

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A Guide to Understanding What Bounce Rate is & How to Lower it

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According to Google, bounce rate is a website metric indicative of the percentage of sessions in which people leave your site after interacting with the entrance page. Most often, when you own a website, you want visitors to somehow “convert” either by clicking through to buy something, fill out a form or read more. If your website has a high bounce rate, this could mean one of three things:

  • Either your website has design and/or usability issues
  • Or you are attracting the wrong kind of traffic
  • Or you attracting exactly the right kind of traffic and users are finding the information they need on the entrance page itself and ergo have no reason to click through to the other pages of your website

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In truth, a number of factors can contribute to a high bounce rate. These include:

1. Your website has only one page

If your website only has one page, analytics software such as Google Analytics do not register multiple page views unless the page is reloaded several times. Consequently, it’s not uncommon for single-page sites to acquire high bounce rates.

2. Your web tracking code setup is not working

For a multiple-page site, a high bounce rate could be indicative that the Google Analytics tracking code on your website has not been implemented correctly. To make sure you are collecting data, you will need to review the set up.

3. Site design

If all your website pages bear the tracking code and your site’s bounce rate is still high, the problem could lie in the design of your website. A few things to consider include:

  • Redesigning your landing pages
  • Optimizing the pages so they attract the right kind of visitors
  • Changing your target keywords around to better reflect page content
  • And optimizing your website with a fresh and unending stream of quality content

4. User behavior

Last but not the least, sometimes a high bounce rate has nothing to do with your website and everything to do with user behavior. For example, if a user bookmarks a page of your website and returns to it several times over the next couple of weeks, each session is considered a bounce.

How to improve your bounce rate

Because both the design of your website and its Google Analytics set up can have an impact on your bounce rate, improving this website metric is contingent upon making certain very specific changes that will be as individual as your business itself. The key to success is to analyze specific data and consequently adjust factors that are contributing to your bounce rate. To name a few:

1. Attract the right kinds of visitors

To reduce a website’s bounce rate, a valuable approach is to optimize the pages so they correlate better with search terms. The process starts with choosing the right keywords to target and maintaining top rankings up the SERPs for those keywords. Also consider creating multiple landing pages, each with unique content created around a branded term and aimed at different types of visitors.

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