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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”.

Local-seo

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.

local-seo-results

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.

local-search-results

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

8 Tools to Help You Evaluate Your Website Content against Your Competitors

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Whether you want to build trust among your customers, drive sales, or become recognized as a thought leader in your industry, content marketing is essential to building a successful online presence.

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A big part of producing and publishing information that builds authority and a community around your brand is watching your competition. After all, you’ve been doing it from the time you were in school or on a sports team. The value of watching your competition is twofold.

  1. You want to keep up
  2. You want to know where the marker is set so you can outperform your competition

In the world of online marketing, the same principles apply. Competitor analysis is essential to finding opportunities and setting goals based on thought leaders and competitors you aspire to beat.

Keeping an Eye on Your Competitors

As a content marketer, it is valuable to keep a finger on the pulse of your audience. One of the ways to do this is to keep an eye on your competitors. In particular, you want to analyze the types of content they are producing because competitive marketing strategies are strongest when:

  1. They position your strengths against your competitors’ weaknesses
  2. Or when you choose positions that pose no threat to competitors so that you are no longer competing for the same

This, in turn, can help you write opinion pieces. You also gain valuable insights into reader expectations.

4 Ways to Evaluate your Content Marketing Strategy against That of Your Competitors

  1. Set up an Alert to Get Notified Whenever your Competitors are Mentioned Over the Web

While knowing when your competitors are mentioned over the web does not directly help you compare your content marketing strategy vs. your competitors’, it can help you keep a tab on what’s happening on and off their website. This can help you identify the keywords and types of content that are likely to increase any return on your investment (ROI). 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.

seo-audit

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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Semantic Search and its Impact on SEO

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Keyword-based search engine optimization, as traditionally practiced, is dead as we witness the rise of long-tail keywords and semantic web technologies. These are now intrinsic to almost every operation performed by the major search engines including Google and Bing. As a result, if you are a search engine marketer and you are serious about maximizing the visibility of your website in the SERPs, you need to have a sound knowledge of how the semantic web works and the incorporated technologies.

semantic-search

But do not take this to mean that keywords are no longer relevant to SEO in 2015. After all, the search engines do require some text to make sense of what it is your company actually does. But what they take great pains to understand (and subsequently store) are other information including places and concepts that ultimately gives the pages on a website their meaning.

In short, semantic search is this creepy functionality within Google and adopted by a few other search engines whereby the engines derive meaning from the words on your website rather than focusing on the words themselves. This was introduced as part of the Hummingbird update released in the summer of 2013.

The Value of Semantic Search

Search begins when words are typed into a search box. This makes ranking for the right keywords one of the most important activities in search marketing. But most people don’t search with one keyword. For example, someone is very unlikely to type “laptop” in Google’s search bar. They would type additional words to give additional clues. For example, they could be looking to:

  1. Buy a new laptop
  2. Buy a used laptop
  3. Have a laptop repaired
  4. Upgrade a laptop
  5. Buy laptop accessories
  6. Or do research for a paper due at school about the evolution of laptops

In turn, the search engines explore the semantics of those additional words and understand the meaning behind them to guess what the user might really be looking for. This has an application in SEO because by incorporating semantic technologies in your SEO campaigns, you can help Google deliver your website pages as the best results possible to user queries. This means you have to determine the right keywords based upon user intent and then create content based on those terms.

Semantic keyword research has many advantages:

  1. Semantic keywords inform high-converting blog posts.
  2. It can improve your click-through rate when the elements of your conversion funnel are aligned semantically, including your landing pages and emails.
  3. It can improve your quality score, which in turn leads to better rankings.

Some Tools You Can Use for Semantic Keyword Research

1. Google’s Advanced Search

Google’s advanced search results is a quick and effective way to generate semantic keywords. Using the example above, say you’re an online laptop store and you are currently having a 30% off promotion. To find keywords that visitors actually type into the search engines, type “laptop discount codes” in Google’s search bar. Scroll to the bottom, and ignore everything in between; at the bottom is a harvest of keywords. Read more

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 Create a Mobile-Friendly Website for Your Visitors

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Let’s start this post with a little exercise. Using a mobile device, access your website.

mobile-friendly-website

What do you see?

  • Can you access the pages easily?
  • Can you read the pages easily?
  • Can you find all the important information?
  • Is it hard to use?

Here is the deal: the desktop version of a website might look great but unless it’s mobile-friendly, it might be difficult to view and use on a mobile device, requiring the user to constantly pinch and zoom to consume content. This can lead to a frustrating user experience and subsequently the visitors abandon the site for greener pastures in the form of your competitor’s mobile-friendly site, which is readable and therefore immediately usable.

Did you know that, in the United States, 94% of people use their smartphone to search for local information? Even more interesting is the fact that 77% of mobile searches occur at places where desktop computers are available, namely at home and at work. The translation of these statistics is simple: Whether you are selling products to people or you are running a business blog to build trust and authority among your potential buyers, mobile is critical to your business and your website needs to provide a good experience for users, whether they are using their desktop computer to access it or their mobile devices.

But how can you optimize a website to look good and offer users a full mobile experience?

1. Make your Website Easy to Use for Customers

If you are a large men’s athletic footwear store, your goal is to make it easy for potential customers to complete certain tasks. For example, you may want customers to:

  • Pick your site from the SERPs after searching for shoes or men’s athletic footwear to buy
  • Browse through your selection of products
  • Check out your blog posts and product reviews
  • Get your local address
  • And ultimately purchase some men’s sneakers or men’s tennis shoes

Outline these tasks and design your website so it streamlines the process for users and help them complete these tasks through a minimum number of user interactions. At the end of the day, designing a site to be mobile-friendly is based on the principle of prioritization. Once you know the most important tasks your customers perform on mobile, your site should be designed to support these tasks and support ease of use too. The quality of a mobile site matters!

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How to Put Together a Homepage that Converts

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Here is the deal: If you own a website that you use to build authority amongst your customers and/or drive sales, the first impression you make matters. This makes your website’s homepage one of the most important (if not the most important) page on your website. The need to get its design right stems from two considerations:

  • A website’s homepage is where most of a website’s traffic lands that you hope to convert into leads and sales
  • Once a visitor lands on your homepage, the first impression is formed and you probably won’t get a second chance to make a first impression

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But what makes a great looking homepage that also converts as much of the traffic it receives as possible?

1. A good homepage clearly answers the questions of who you are and what you’re offering

Unless you are a company or brand with as much reach and impact as Coca-Cola or say Nike, your homepage needs to clearly answer the questions of who you are and what you do. The reason for this lies in the fact that you need to assure visitors who land on your website that they are in the right place and do so very early on so they don’t bounce. 

2. It resonates with the target audience

Your homepage also needs to resonate with your target audience in being fairly narrowly focused and communicating with people using the right language. Take a look at these two homepages:

Both are brilliant in that they use clear heads and subheads with no use of jargon and the content avoids corporate Gobbledygook.

3. It looks great

This one is a no-brainer. A website’s homepage should be designed to impress. The challenge it seems is for businesses to keep it simple. After all, what you want to do here is to provide a good and memorable user experience for visitors but not reinvent the wheel per se. To that end, choose a simple layout and the right color scheme. Include the critical elements that make a good homepage such as:

  • A headline
  • A sub-headline
  • Benefits
  • Your primary CTAs
  • Features
  • Customer proof
  • Success indicators
  • Navigation
  • Supporting images
  • Content offer
  • Links to useful resources
  • And secondary CTAs

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