5 Essential SEO Tips for Local Businesses

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You can be sure that your competitors are competing for search results, and if you aren’t trying just as hard, you’re giving business away. As a small business, you have to do everything you can to expose your brand to as many local potential customers as possible. The thing is, these days consumers spend more time online than they do watching TV.


The best way to reach Internet-savvy customers is to position yourself highly on Google and other major search engines. To sell your prospects on your product or service from the top of the SERPs, you’ll have to set up a plan to optimize social media presence, reviews and on-page elements.

Optimize On-Page Data

Optimizing your on-page data is the crucial first step. You must ensure that your on-page elements align with what Google wants to see. Here are a few tips to get you headed in the right direction:

  • Create an appropriate domain name. Your domain should speak to what you do and where you’re located. The simplest way to do this is to literally combine your business name with the city you’re in. For instance, if you’re “Cici’s Cuts,” and you’re located in NYC, www.ciciscutsnyc.com would be a nice domain for you.
  • Use relevant keywords. Place keywords in your titles and in your pages that are relevant to your business, your product and your location. Use keywords naturally. Another good idea is to go for long-tail keywords.
  • Spread your NAP data far and wide. You should add your name, address and phone number to every page of your site.
  • Share the love. Your content shouldn’t be all about you. Make sure that your copy reflects the fact that you’re part of a vibrant community. A great way to do this is to partner with other local businesses or to co-sponsor a local charity. Then blog about it! Also, mention what part of town you’re in and the landmarks in your immediate vicinity.

Encourage User Reviews

Reviews give you immediate social proof, and they increase your visibility in local search results. Importantly, the way in which you engage with reviews also affects your visibility. Here are a few tips to help you engage positively with reviews:

  • Never, ever buy reviews. It can be tempting. Hiring people to post reviews for you can backfire spectacularly. If you lose the public’s trust, you might have to fork over money you don’t have to a PR firm.
  • Encourage organic reviews. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with encouraging satisfied customers to leave a review. Checkout flyers, website callouts and email followups are great ways to do this. The more authentic reviews you generate, the more you’ll stand out in local search results. Yes, this means that you will get the odd negative review, but that comes with the territory. There isn’t a credible business in existence that doesn’t have any bad reviews.
  • Encourage reviews across the Web. As part of your outreach, encourage customers to post reviews to as many sites as possible. Your reviews are at their least effective on your own site. Sites like Yelp! and Epinions have huge influence.
  • Respond to reviews. If you’re a hot-head, you might want to have someone else handle this. You want to respond to reviews proactively, but if you’re hostile, you can cause a bad review to go viral. If you come across a negative review, thank the author for their feedback and ask them to get in touch with you so you can go over their issue in more detail.

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The Most Critical SEO Elements for 2014

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These days, many webmasters are finding it difficult to figure out what’s still relevant for SEO and what’s no longer important. Two of the main components of a strong SEO strategy remain the same: 1) to publish high-quality content that gets read and 2) get linked to by as many people as possible. Translation: Quality content and inbound links.


But this year, a third key element joined the ranks of these two components and that’s social media! Social media wasn’t around when SEO first developed into an industry; it only became a factor in the ranking algorithm in recent years. Today social media is a means to increase shareability, distribution and reach of content and this, in turn, provides readers and search engines alike with new data to assess quality.

So the 3 key elements to building a strong SEO campaign in 2014, irrespective of industry include:

1. Content strategy

2. Inbound links

3. Social media

Is Content Really King?

“Content marketing” is beginning to replace the term “SEO”. It’s no longer enough to simply have an SEO strategy. In the wake of Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates, many of the once-popular SEO tactics that used to work no longer do.

“Content is king” is a mantra that is probably repeated more often than any other in the world of SEO. As such, business owners should continue to focus on creating high-quality content guided by solid keyword research. A solid content marketing strategy not only aims to build your business exposure and visibility for many keywords, it also aims to build brand awareness, authority and credibility as well as social media awareness and conversion rates.

Are Links Still the Primary Ranking Factor?

With Google stepping up its efforts to penalize link networks and those who buy and sell links, how important are backlinks to Google’s search algorithm? Have backlinks lost their importance for ranking purposes?

In his Webmaster help video published on May 5, 2014, Matt Cutts shared:

“I think backlinks still have many, many years left in them”

Cutts said links help Google figure out the reputation of a site or pages. But Google also wants to give more weight to pages written by experts. So this means that authority will become even more crucial for websites and in the coming months and years, website owners are going to see an even greater emphasis in the value of authorship.

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The Latest Google AdWords Innovations

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In the last couple of years, technology has made the world a much more interconnected place. People are now constantly connected, moving almost seamlessly between apps, sites and even screens while on the go. For small and large advertisers alike, this means that the definition of what makes a good ad has changed. Today, the best ads are more than just messages sent to various devices. Ads are now a medium through which advertisers can connect to their potential customers through information and content shared at the right place, at the right time.


On April 22, 2014, Google added some big changes to the AdWords platform. These new products, while they caused serious concern among advertisers before they rolled out, proved to be some really cool features that will help advertisers around the world to grow their businesses and find new customers.

New Features Targeted at Mobile Apps

In this day and age of technology, people live a major part of their life online, looking for the content, information and solutions that are most useful for them. Sometimes this content is on websites. Other times though, the content is in mobile apps.

For years Google has offered popular formats through which advertisers can promote their app. This includes Google search ads and their AdMob network. Now, the next generation of Google search ads features is here along with that of Google’s Display Network and YouTube.

The New Features

1. Better Discovery

For advertisers looking to drive app downloads and app installs on the AdMob network, Google now enables you to reach people who are more likely to turn into customers based on the apps they use, the frequency with which they use those apps and the types of in-app purchases they make. On YouTube, Google is also enabling app installs as an enhancement to the current TrueView offering.

2. Easier Re-engagement

Did you know that over 80% of downloaded apps are used only once and then deleted?


This means that when it comes down to it, lots of businesses are able to get their apps onto people’s devices but they might never actually make a sale or see these potential customers again. Through the new app re-engagement campaign in AdWords, advertisers can now increase usage of downloaded apps. You can now push consumers into apps they’ve already installed for both search and display.

3. Enhanced Measurement

In AdWords, advertisers can now also measure conversions across the entire life cycle of their app, from install to re-engagement to in-app purchases.

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How to Optimize Your Business Listing on Google+ Local

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Every day, millions of people search for businesses on Google. This makes it important for you to have a local business listing that can be easily found on Google.com and Google Maps. With Google+ Local, you can do this in a matter of minutes and it does not cost a thing.


Why use Google+ Local

1. You can speak for yourself

With Google+ Local, you can create a great listing for your business and make sure its details are accurate and thorough.

2. It’s easy to use

A local business listing is an easy way to maintain an online presence with or without a website.

3. It’s free

Creating a listing on Google+ Local is completely free. You can, in addition, make your listing shine by adding extras to it like photos and videos, custom categories and coupons to encourage customers to check in or make a first-time purchase.

How to Make the Most of Your Listing on Google+ Local

More people search for businesses online than anywhere else. A rich listing which features a description, appropriate images and videos, business hours and a link to your website will encourage potential customers to choose your service over others. Accurate and thorough information can also help Google match your listing to more searches directly increasing the number of views your listing gets.

So How Can you Optimize the Listing for Your Business on Google?

Google+ Local brings users and their local businesses together. To that end:

1. Create a business listing that is both complete and accurate.

  • Make sure your business location is entered correctly. Do not place your pin marker at a location where your business does not physically exist.
  • List your official business website on the local listing. Do not provide URLs that redirect users to landing pages other than those of the actual business.
  • Include images and videos. This will help your business stand out.
  • Include other relevant and useful information such as your opening hours.
  • And of course, make sure your business name and phone number are accurate. Provide a phone number that connects to your individual business location instead of a call center number whenever possible.

2. Choose the Right Categories for Your Business.

  • For your business to show for the right searches, you need to pick a category from the list of suggestions that depicts what your business is.
  • Choose specific categories instead of broad ones if those are more appropriate. The point is to describe your business well.

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How To Make Offline & Online Marketing Tactics Work In Synergy

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Digital marketing is dying. Well, technically it’s not, but in the grander scheme of things, it is. Let me explain.

There is a very fine line between offline and online marketing. And this line keeps getting finer and finer. They’re continuously merging. “Digital” or “online” marketing should not be considered as a distinct and separate line of marketing. It should be done in congruence with your offline marketing. Both types should converge towards a central message.


All of this makes sense, right? But how do we put this information to practice? Here is how.

1. Take Advantage of Custom URLs

A problem that many marketers run into is that prospects aren’t willing to enter long URLs into their smart devices. With services like Bitly, you can track the effectiveness of your offline advertising efforts by using relevant, shortened URLs. With these services, you can create a short URL for each poster, brochure or other physical medium. Even better, these URLs track each and every visitor. If you don’t like Bitly, you can always use other 3rd party software or a self-hosted script that does the same task.

You can create entire websites dedicated to your campaign from which you can provide prospects with additional information. It’s a cinch to create special promotions for individuals who come to your offer through a physical advertisement. Simply create percent-off coupons for each type of advertisement you are running, and then assign them to their own websites. Bonus: create two URLs and assign each to a different type of advertisement and you’ve got easy split-testing.

2. Utilize Hashtags

There’s a reason that Facebook, Vine and Instagram have adopted the hashtag. Quick fact: Foursquare pioneered the hashtag, by the way! After all, hashtags provide consumers with an easy way to chat about a given topic. For marketers, this provides a means with which to gather fans around their brand. Place hashtags on your physical marketing materials anywhere that you mention your social networks. Savvy prospects know that your hashtag is an easy way to find out what people think of your business. Moreover, those prospects will use your hashtag when they discuss your product themselves, which increases your exposure tremendously.

You can encourage your fans and prospects to use your hashtags by offering a simple incentive. For instance, when you host an event, let your fans know that you’ll be offering a prize to one lucky winner. To qualify, they have to use your hashtag on Twitter or another network on the day of your event. Then, you select one winner at random. Instagram is a very good channel for this type of contest, but the prize must be something of value to generate buzz.

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