“If You’re Not On the First Page, You Don’t Exist.”

They say a picture speaks a thousand words – but we beg to differ. Never underestimate the power of well-crafted copy written by a true wordsmith of the millennial generation. If you run a small to medium sized business in today’s fast-paced world, commissioning a talented and seasoned copywriter is one of your first keys to success.

You’ve probably heard of a little something called SEO. If you have – great. If you haven’t, this stands for Search Engine Optimization, and involves writing copy full to the brim with keywords that possess strong findability on search engines. Obviously, “If You’re Not On the First Page, You Don’t Exist.”Google being the top priority.

It’s all about optimizing your web page, and making sure it pops up on the first page of Google. After all, as the unwritten rule goes – if it’s not on the first page, it doesn’t exist. Flawlessly crafted copy in this regard will not only pump your recognition, but create something that people want to share, which will in turn boost your SEO even further.

But this is just the beginning, and we’re fully equipped with all of the word-molding tools to shift the global focus to your business, and slowly move your competitors to the sidelines.

Never underestimate the power of SEO copywriting! Call 800-WEB-5421 to take your business to the next level today.

Link Building Benefits of Real Life Meetups

group-meetup Have you ever browsed activities on sites such as Eventbrite, Meetup, or even events on Yelp? You might be surprised to know that organizing a local meetup can actually help your SEO and link building efforts.

Successful meetups are based on a common cause, so some events might include:

– A mixer for local businesses
– A free, informative presentation answering questions about your industry
– A social get together for alumni
– Getting together for a good cause or charity, like a beach clean-up weekend
– A gathering for a night hike
– If all else fails, your business can always sponsor a local event

Here are some reasons why these types of links will benefit your business:

It’s strengthens your link profile – Diversifying your links on local sites is always helpful and even if there is no SEO value (or the links are nofollow links), your site will benefit from the natural traffic from people who are looking for things to do in their area.

It’s essential for local SEO – Relevant citations are crucial and when your business is associated with local events in local businesses, it’s the best of both worlds! In terms of link building efforts, something like this would be more meaningful and helpful than auto-submitting your website to hundreds of directories!

Good publicity – Social media fans love supporting businesses for a good cause. Find one that speaks to you personally or your business as a whole. Depending on the event you are hosting or sponsoring, it will help your business brand to be associated with a good cause – helping others in need, cleaning up the environment, or supporting other local businesses.

It gives your business a chance to be part of the community – A free local event will always bring in traffic, virtually and in-person. While the link on the local meetup site will help your website, being at an event in-person will help your business by making connections that could never happen solely on the internet. This is what REAL networking is all about!

Explore different local meetup options for your business and let us know what you think!

5 Things You Need to Know About Google Pigeon

1) What is Google Pigeon?

At the end of July to mid-August, a local Google update began to roll out. Although Google has never really said much by way of an official announcement, this shakeup has been dubbed “Google Pigeon” in the SEO world. As always, the goal of this local update is to also provide more relevant and accurate search results.

google-pigeon

The rationale for the name comes from the fact that some birds (pigeons) fly in a “local” pattern. You can read more about it here on Search Engine Land, where the name first originated.

We all know that Google’s algorithm is updated all the time. Pigeon matters in local and organic search even though it’s not a penalty-based update, per se. As marketers, pinpointing major Google updates helps create a point of reference that we can look back on historically. Check out Moz’ Google Algorithm Change History here.

2) Google’s Local Search Landscape Has Been Seriously Flawed

For years now, Google Local has been royally screwed up, for lack of a better word! The back end has been hard for businesses to use and many have been stuck in Google hell waiting for their listing(s) to be updated with the correct information or un-suspended. On top of that, local search results seem to change by the hour and don’t really follow any rhyme or reason. Unlike organic and PPC, which has structure, local has been very mysterious, not to mention not transparent.

3) Your Business Should Not Rely on Local or Organic Search Placement For Traffic

In the past, some smaller businesses (or even large businesses) may have relied on being in the top of Local search results. The Local or 7 pack has drastically dropped for queries. Pre-Pigeon, it was estimated that the 7 pack showed up for about 12% of local search results. After Pigeon, the local pack only showed up for 3% if queries. That is a huge drop and many businesses may have felt that drop from a loss in traffic.

4) Local Directories are Becoming More Influential

Local search results were so volatile because Google was making changes to the ranking factors. It’s suspected that some of these factors include website authority which can be measured by directories, local directories, and authoritative review sites like Yelp. Customer reviews on third party websites are crucial for user experience but it seems like they have more weight not, especially when it comes to local search rankings.

Along with getting more customer reviews, it’s important that you have the basics covered. Meaning that your NAP (Name/Address/Phone Number) is correct throughout the internet where possible. Also, don’t forget about listing your business using the correct categories, locations, and keywords.

5) Local Search Is Becoming More Tied to Organic SEO

As much as you hate or love to admit it, local search is becoming an integral part of organic SEO. This means that you need to stay on top of what current best practices are. As we see from a recent example, preaching the importance of Google Authorship couldn’t be avoided. But Google took all that away within days! Even though Local 7 packs are disappearing or shifting at the moment, it doesn’t mean that it’s a permanent change. Be ready to stay on your toes and coordinate local as you would organic SEO.

Tweet us @Emarketed or contact us (323) 340-4010 if you have any questions or need help with these recent changes in Google Local. We’re here to help!

Unlocking the Key to Consumer Local Search Behavior

Consumers are constantly looking for things close to them. Nearby searches of restaurants, clothing stores and other local businesses fulfill a want and need. Going a step further, consumers are doing competitive research looking at pricing, hours, and products in stock. Although a definitive study can’t be done, Google sought out to understand this local search behavior as best they could. Google partnered with Ipsos MediaCT and Purchased® on research studies with 5,000+ U.S. smartphone users. These searches were logged and findings will help businesses get a better understanding of what consumers are looking for. View the entire study here.

local-thought

Key Findings on Consumers Taking Action

– When searching, location and proximity matters
– Half of participants who entered a local search on their phone, visited a store that very same day
– 4 in 5 consumers want ads based on their location and immediate surroundings
– What do customers look for? 54% were looking for business hours; 53% checked directions; 50% were looking for the address
– 18% of local searches (on a mobile device) lead to a same day purchase
– 73% of participants thought directions in ads were important and 70% thought having a call button is important

How Can Businesses Keep Up With Local Search Demand?

First and foremost, having prominent contact information on your website and ads is a must. Customers are looking for directions to your address and your local number (no 800 or call tracking numbers here, please!).

The second step is more difficult to keep up with, but it’s just as important. If you haven’t heard already, Google is changing their local landscape again… with the introduction of Google My Business. This is an “upgrade” to the disaster that was Places and merging of Local Plus. Google has announced that this will be a solid platform where businesses can address their customers’ needs. The good thing is that My Business will feature a full integration of Google Places and Google Plus. Theoretically, this should be a seamless transition that will make it easier for businesses and customers all together.

Read more about Google My Business here and call us at (323) 340-4010 if you have any questions. Your local search presence is too important to overlook!

The Ghost of Local Search Present from the Future

Local search marketing’s past, present, and future may not all be the same. But as a search marketer, that’s the interesting part of watching the local landscape evolve. According to BIA/Kelsey’s (www.bia.com and www.kelseygroup.com), 97% of consumers (nearly all!) use online media when researching products or services in their local area. It’s no wonder that marketers are recognizing the growing similarities and importance of optimizing for organic SEO and local search. In 2014, they will continue to grow in influence, especially for local businesses.

Reaching Out to Location-Based Consumers

A recent infographic reveals how location-based data is more useful for bringing brands to a shopper’s attention. There are different tactics to use for delivering targeted mobile offers, such as sending brand or product-centric suggestions to shoppers’ phones as they browse. For example, if you’re shopping at a Westfield Mall, you could get coupons or offers on your phone as you pass certain department stores. Pretty cool and useful!

Currently only about 23% of marketers use location-based data in their current mobile efforts. But we can certainly expect those numbers to grow. Check out the infographic here.

micro-location

Come Up with a Solid Plan

For local businesses, the most crucial part is to establish a standardize plan for local search marketing. You can read more here but it can be easy as coming up with a 3 step plan.
1) Identify your local market opportunity
2) Optimize business listings For accuracy & consistency
3) Optimize, publish & distribute
Standardization, spreadsheets and persistence will be your best friends when working on local SEO efforts. Even though marketers recognize that this can be the hardest part of local search marketing, it’s a surprise that 46% of participants admin that they don’t use any NAP tactics. Check out more of the results below.

What Do Other Marketers Think? And What Can You Expect?

If you haven’t sign up for InsideLocal’s webinar series here. The results of their recent survey are as below:

– 62% of participants said that local search marketing is getting harder
– 32% say that review generation and reputation management are the most difficult parts
– 28% say that citation and link building are hardest
– 49% say they have made changes to their strategy (due to Google’s changing algorithm for displaying local results)

Moving Forward

Local search might have been on the bottom rung of importance in the past, but it’s definitely been proven that you can’t forget about the local factor nowadays. As with all aspects of online marketing, local businesses in less competitive areas can benefit more from local SEO (with less effort), than their counterparts in large, highly competitive areas. For example, a plumber in a small town can skyrocket to the top of local search with little on-page optimization and just by using the city in the title tag. Whereas a locksmith a big city will have to compete with more aggressive tactics and competitors.

The interesting part of local search is that there are so many different case studies where several factors are tested. Even though correlation isn’t causation, it can certainly help us get one step closer to doing things right in order to show up on local and organic search results.

Similarities Between Organic SEO and Local Search

Last month, we discussed how social media marketing is closely tied to blogging in this blog post. Today, we’ll explore the close relationship between organic search engine optimization and local search marketing.

similar-organic-local

The local search ecosystem is one of the most confusing in the world of online marketing. It’s hard to categorize it with organic SEO as it has evolved to be its very own monster. Let’s explore a few ways local search is closely related to organic search. You can’t have success if these two don’t work together!

Structured Data and Schema Markup
Implementing Schema markup involves technical knowledge of coding, as well as the discipline to maintain consistent NAP (name, address, phone) throughout all of your listings and contact information. This is one example of how organic and local search must work in unison in order to work at all! Many search marketers liken local search to SEO including something that goes beyond.

That extra factor applies to the external influence that local search deals with. Whereas you can only do so much with traditional on-page SEO, local search allows your business to go one step further to get the right exposure.

Links and Citations Go Hand in Hand
Links used to be the bottom line for SEO where citations are highly sought after in local. The concept of quality over quantity applies to both these fields. So much of optimization techniques nowadays rely on the basis of credibility, trustworthiness, being diverse and natural. With that being said, you want to look at links and citations as reputable mentions that you want your business to get.

The “Unknown” Factor
Organic and local search are both like wild animals that marketers are constantly trying to wrangle. It doesn’t help that there is really no technical support in these areas (on Google’s end). They’re both plagued with crazy ranking fluctuations, sporadic testing/experiments and conflicting ideas of what Google really wants you to do. Google is quick to punish websites and suspend local listings or profiles, but aren’t as quick to explicitly tell you what is wrong so that you can correct the problem. This can lead to wild speculation, change in tactics without merit and changing other things that can further screw up your local listings! Not good… but if there’s something you can learn, it’s to 1) test, test and test 2) keep track of what you’re changing to see what it works. Whatever you do, don’t just blindly make changes and hope that a few things work out!

Local and Organic are Evolving with Mobile Search
As mobile search results are undergoing important changes, it’s only expected that local search and organic search results will also change. With the popularity of Carousel, visibility of paid ads and increase/decrease of blending listings, it’s even more important that your organic and local search campaigns are working in cooperation with each other. The last thing you want to do is to treat them as two completely different entities that don’t need to interact with one another. If you can picture content being tied to social media marketing, it’s just as important to put organic in a box with local search. Grouping these different processes together will help you be more organized and get a better, bigger picture view of your overall online marketing plan.

The Growing Local Search Ecosystem

the-local-web

Local search is all any marketer is talking about this year! Take a look at a portion of this infographic above. As you can see, local websites are at the heart of local review, social media, daily deal and mobile websites. It’s no wonder that local search sites are considered to be the single largest opportunity for national brands with the capability to drive local awareness as well as sales. Check out all 5 infographics here.

Local Citations
This brings me to my next point of the importance of building quality local citations that work in unison with your SEO plan. Local citations are mentions of your brand and business contact info that are unlinked. We’ve talked about them previously like they’re references made in an academic paper.

Just like with link building, you’re looking for quality in local citations. Some citations are great for your website, where low-quality sites could not be helpful at all or even harmful.

How to Find Good Local Citations
With the growing importance of local citations, it’s important to grow them at a natural speed and to fill out all your information correctly. Remembering choosing directories for link building? It’s time to look at local citation sources in the same way.

The most obvious way is to do a quick visual run down of the site itself. Does it look well-design and legitimate? Is it overrun with ads without any contact information? Check Page Rank, Domain Authority and Domain Age. This is the quickest way to find out if a site is legitimate. You can also search for their name + “scam” or “fraud” to see what kinds of results come up.

Some local citation sites are known for their pushy salesmen who guarantee #1 rankings without any real proof or transparency. Other sites may have complaints about over billing. It’s best to stay away from these sites or at the very least, avoid paying for your submission.

Local Search Takeways
Local citations are here to stay so it’s best to read up on the latest best practices and tactics. Remember, that quality matters much more than quantity. SEO is about much more than links in today’s world and we have to understand where local and social play a role in website’s success. It’s all starting to come together as pieces of a bigger puzzle now!

Google Rolls Out Carousel for Local Search Results

Have you taken a ride on Google’s carousel? Although iPad and Nexus tablet users have seen this feature since the end of last year, it’s definitely a new search experience for many desktop computer users. Remember all those summer updates and changes Google was talking about earlier? Luckily for us, this one seems to be helpful for users and businesses across the board!

A Richer Search Experience
As an owner of a small business, especially for restaurants, bars, hotels & other local businesses, it’s important to see how your listing shows up on this “carousel ride”. This also means being aware of your customer reviews, image associated with your business and how your competitors show up. First impressions mean everything and you want to be the pretty horse on this ride.

At first look, it might seem overwhelming as there’s the carousel (an additional scrolling list at the top of search results), a map along with organic search results. Note that review sites (Yelp, UrbanSpoon, Yellow pages etc.) are likely to dominate page 1 of these results, at least for now.

More Competition and Opportunities
Keep your eyes peeled! While Google local carousel is currently available for some categories, it’s likely that its reach will only grow into more verticals. It’s also not unreasonable to expect different design layouts and functions like Google has been experimenting with in local search.

The location and map features are helpful for businesses who want to capture traffic from people who are searching within a certain proximity. From there, reviews, pictures, prices and other similar factors will help customers make their final decision.

Check out a sample of a local carousel and let us know what you think. For more information on local search join us on Google+ and feel free to contact us.

Yelp! I Need Somebody (Help, Not Just Anybody)

Customer reviews and testimonials have always been important and Yelp is one of the first sites that come to mind. Potential customers may visit your Yelp page even before they come to your website or place of business. Here are some tips to help with reviews:

Make it easy for customers to find your business on Yelp by officially claiming it and filling it with all the right information and categories. Name, address and phone number changes could lead to duplicate listings, which is confusing.

Add your listing to crucial places like your website, Facebook profile, email signature and more. Also add stickers and decals on your windows, counter etc.

Encourage natural customer reviews. This means absolutely no fake reviews, incentives or compensation. Yelp’s filter is good at detecting and hiding fake or suspicious reviews.

Reach out to active and power users. Like the title of this post suggests, getting a positive Yelp review is great. But ideally, you don’t want just anyone to leave a review. And there’s a good reason too. If a n00b signs up for a Yelp account and leaves your business a positive review (and no reviews for other businesses), it might not even show up due to Yelp’s filter. If possible, you want those good reviews to come from someone who has authority in the local community and influence across different social networking sites.

Although this sounds difficult, it’s where being a business owner helps. Encourage Yelp check-ins for specials and coupons, this way, you can actually interact with customers and dig a little deeper to find out if they’re active on Yelp. Providing excellent service is key regardless.

Don’t appear too desperate or pushy for reviews. Instead, create open engagement by encouraging happy customers (and hopefully active users) to visit your Yelp page.

Stay on top of the mobile game. If you’ve used Yelp’s phone app, you’ll know that the “local” aspect isn’t completely accurate. Most of the time, top reviewed business listings will get preference, unless you specifically set the filter to display businesses by physical location.

Helpful Articles:
What We Can Learn About Taking Criticism & Reputation Management
Yelp in Your Words: Negative Review? Stop, Drop and Roll
- 11 Things You Didn’t Know About Yelp
5 Tips To Get More Online Customer Reviews
Buy Reviews on Yelp, Get Black Mark

Local Search Marketing: A Few Do’s & Don’ts

As if organic search isn’t frustrating enough, there’s also the issue of local search aka those A through G map listings that show up within blended results. These listings are based on a different algorithm than normal search, although it’s often thought that the two influence each other.

Check out some resources as you’re working on creating or updating your business and don’t forget these important do’s and don’ts. Make sure to read carefully because one wrong move can seriously screw up your local listing!

Do’s
– Use a standard format of all your contact information, including business name, URL, phone number, address (using st. versus street or suite vs. # & etc.)
– Create only one listing for each physical location
– Use a real phone number (although it’s tempting to use an 800 or tracking number to track calls)
– Use the same information/format and claim other non-Google listings (Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, YellowPages etc.). Google often pulls information from these sources to create or validate your business listing
– Use the correct categories and optimize your descriptions, photos

Don’t
– Create multiple listings for a single physical location
– Use virtual offices and use  different information for different listings
– Hijack competitor listings with false information
– Post fake reviews for your business or solicit an unnatural amount of reviews during a short time period
– Let local search marketing “experts” control your local accounts. Some companies use tracking numbers that could jeopardize your listing and might not even give you logins if you eventually decide to discontinue their service. Make sure you know what you’re signing up for!

If you’re lucky enough to have just one real location, you don’t have much to worry about. It’s a problem once you move, have multiple locations, have listings that have merged with incorrect information. Local listings can be a pain but patience and consistency are the key to getting things figure out. Read more about troubleshooting for Places here.