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.

Waiting Around for Panda 3.9?

Have you seen any fluctuations in your search results lately? There’s some speculation that another Google Panda update has hit or that’s coming very soon. The last confirmed refresh was on June 28 and it’s not unusual for updates to occur within as little as 2 weeks from the previous one.

It’s important to keep an eye on: website traffic, impressions, calls, and even number of contact forms received. Looking at trends will help you diagnose the problem if something has gone terribly wrong. For example, a website with a weak backlink profile can go from 1st page rankings and tank to 10th + page after an algorithm update. Without regularly monitoring your website, it would be difficult to tell until it’s too late. Summer months tend to be slower (depending on your industry), so it can also be a seasonal factor and not a Google update. Nowadays, people are too quick to jump the gun and blame everything on Google when there is a bigger picture.

Prevention is the key to being flagged by Panda or Penguin updates. But what about the paranoia that your site could be penalized? Some website owners admit to making SEO content updates so frequently that they can’t tell if the results they get are from their own handy work or from Google updates. In fact, that’s the last thing you want to do – make random changes, change loads of anchor text, add or remove tons of links. This isn’t helpful if the end result is good or bad if you don’t know what lead you there.

“Slow and steady wins the race”. In this case, it could pay off to wait and see what changes need to be made and how to recover instead of digging yourself into a deeper hole. Even if it’s out of fear of being nabbed by Google’s updates, it will help if you constantly monitor your website and make additions that will help it become more effective and user friendly.

Video Marketing Opportunities for Small Businesses

youtube ad

Some small businesses may not be aware of how video marketing services can greatly benefit their online reputation. Let’s take a look at 3 ways videos can help your business:

1) Improve Customer Relations – Videos are a great platform to do webinars, short Q&A’s, tutorials and more. In these cases, the content is free and easily accessible so that you help establish your company as a credible source of information when customers need more assistance. On the other hand, some larger companies (Domino’s and Playstation) have used videos as a medium to quickly apologize and address unhappy customers. Either way, it helps to utilize and integrate a different form of communication via video.

2) Enhance Brand Awareness – When you create videos, this shows passion and knowledge that you have for your specific industry. Not to mention that putting a face to your business helps establish trust and a genuine representation of your company. (Just think of what Matt Cutts represents for Google and Rand Fishkin for SEOmoz.)

3) Reach a Larger Audience – If you’re interesting in using video ads to promote your business on YouTube, that’s now possible! In a way, it works like Adsense, where a company can bid on keywords that are related to their business. With more users on YouTube, don’t expect this ad trend to disappear. This is an area that small businesses can really embrace to find relevant customers.

Find out more about video marketing in these related blog posts:
Does Your Business Use Facebook Video?
Video Marketing for Your Business

Why Your Content Marketing Strategy Needs SEO

Google’s Penguin update may have left you feeling down and out, but now isn’t the time to completely give up on SEO.

Penguin Penalties
If you’ve been dabbling in black hat tactics, or even gray hat, that is obviously a big problem. But there are many marketers who have been “punished” by the algorithm updates, even if they have played it safe. Some sites have dropped a few spots, while others have felt  a full on penalty by dropping 10+ pages. What does that mean for the future of SEO? Regardless of what you’ve read, search engine optimization isn’t “dead” as much as it has drastically evolved. It’s a matter of which businesses can hang on during this ever changing environment.

The Big Problem with No SEO
While this may lead to a focus on cranking out content without any optimization, there is a huge problem with that. The main problem with thinking about online marketing without SEO is that your content needs to be found and seen by search engines in order to be indexed and eventually ranked. Just think of it as if you have the greatest thing to share BUT no one will ever come across it because you’ve done no marketing or planning to bring the content to the people. A failure to plan for effective SEO may also affect other aspects of online marketing like social media marketing… things that’ can’t be found cannot be shared!

Lessons Learned
The best advice is to stay up to date on upcoming updates and to see how they are affecting your peers and industry. Gone are the days of building hundreds of links, pages, articles for a quick fix. As Google puts it, the face of SEO today yearns to reward high-quality content without unnatural links or methods that may seem to be created solely for the purpose of manipulating search results. If these updates teach you anything, it should be that you should have a balance in optimization tactics: content creation, inbound/outbound links, on and off page optimization. In other words, simple is better and less is more.

Helpful articles:
Reconsideration Request Tips From Google
SEOs Share Google Penguin Recovery Tips
Google Penguin Update Recovery Tips & Advice
Whiteboard+ on Google’s Penguin Update

Google’s April Search Quality Highlights: What Stands Out For You?

What a month it’s been! Google has released 52 search quality updates over the past month and it’s felt like non-stop changes in search results.

While you can check out the entire list here, these are a few that stood out:

Smoother ranking changes for fresh results. This update is meant to help users easily find fresh, breaking news stories. For example, if you search “Google Panda Updates” you can expect stories about the latest update (Panda 3.6) to be at the top of the search results. This is slight factor plays a minor role in ranking changes and you can expect more to come as the algorithm is tweaked to be more sensitive to fresh stories.

Keyword stuffing classifier improvement. Google has designed a keyword stuffing detector so that they can better seek out sites that are participating in this outdated and ineffective practice. As we can assume, this was one of many signifiers used in the Penguin update, which solely targeted “webspam”.

Less snippet duplication in expanded sitelinks. It’s a well known fact that Google is averse to duplicate content and content that is used over again site wide. With this update, Google is working on reducing duplicate snippets of expanded sitelinks. This means that you’re less likely to see the same content summary of related topics that you’re searching for. In another related update, Google also worked on displaying the beginning of the content on each page for snippet results to give users a better idea of what they’re about to click on.

More authoritative results. This is a vague mention of an important update. Google has updated a signal that they use to find more authoritative content. Perhaps this is related to the PageRank update, although it technically occurred in May.

What do you think of last month’s search updates and do you think they’re helping you prepare for changes in the upcoming months?