SEO Hackerz Podcast

Episode 001 – How Does Google Search Work

It’s finally here.  The first episode of my new SEO podcast.  The SEO Hackerz Podcast debuted with a review of how Google Search Works.

In recent months I have discovered a few things.

  • Most Google users don’t know that location plays a factor in the search results
  • Most blog owners and business owners don’t believe you can rank on the first page of Google for a one-word, high-value keyword
  • Some SEOs believe that putting your browser into incognito mode will remove your search preferences, location and history thus giving you a true indication of where your website ranks for a particular search query

In this podcast, I debunk these theories and myths.  Hopefully, it’s a little clearer as to how Google returns results for a users search query.

I will have this transcribed as soon as I can determine the best way to do that.

 

Transcription

Welcome to SEO Hackerz the SEO podcast for the people where we discuss SEO issues with your Web site and your business.

Episode 001 of SEO Hackerz

How Does Google Search Work

ep 001 SEO Hackerz How Does Google Search WorkAlright, Alright Welcome to Episode One of SEO Hackerz. I am your Host Scott Gombar and uh I thought we’d start it off with something simple. Well, maybe not so simple. I’ve noticed in a lot of online groups, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, different forums and so forth, a lot of People don’t really understand how Google search works and I think in order for you to plan out just your SEO properly you need to understand how SEO, how Google search works. So that’s the purpose of this first ever episode of SEO Hackerz is to show you just how Google search works.

So what I’m going to do is share my screen. And this is Google Chrome. So I want to point out a few things here before we get going. We don’t need to log into everything so I am logged in to Google Chrome itself. So if you’re not familiar Google Chrome allows you to save your settings across the different devices. So if you’re logged in then it’ll remember all your settings all your bookmarks and so forth. You can see right here I’m logged in to Google Chrome. So it knows what I’ve searched for in the past. It knows what websites I’ve visited and if I go on my mobile device or on another computer or wherever it may be then it’ll have the same settings there so all of my bookmarks and believe me I have a few hundred bookmarks here.  It remembers that. So my default pages, I have three default pages one is Gmail, one is Hootsuite and one is Google Search.

So this is where most people start their search or a lot of people start right here in the address bar. They might just type in a query here and depending on your settings your browser will default to whatever search engine you choose. And right now Google accounts for 70 to 80 percent of all search queries on the Internet in the US. So let’s just type in a simple search. Let’s say I am looking for a plumber, local plumbers. So it and it gives you some suggestions here. I could do the same thing here and it will do the same thing. But we’re going to search for local plumbers. And this is a search. This is the search engine results page.

So this is the results that it returns for your search. Now had I searched for plumbers in the past the search results would be different somewhat because it would be Google. One of the factors that Google looks into is your search history. I don’t think I’ve searched for plumbers on here in the past and think I’ve only used Facebook for that. So here are the results. This is an ad. These are ads. With reviews. I’m sorry. Yes, these are ads. These are also ads. This is new. So that threw me off a lot off a little bit but it looks like there are ads that include reviews. So that’s pretty cool. But how do I know if its an ad? Because it says sponsored right here. These are also ads. It says ad here. This is your Google Local Pack or Google Three pack. Different people call it different things and this is returning results based on my location.

Okay so the ads aren’t necessarily based on location so Roto-Rooter is national. This is a uh Looks like it’s probably some type of listing site or some type of referral site or lead site for plumbers. These are all local plumbers to me so you can see on the map I am in Meriden Connecticut. Yeah. Look at this map here I’m somewhere in here. And so it’s pointing out the local plumbers to me. And I can expand on this but there is usually only 3 listings here that will show up depending on what your query is. Usually, no more than 3 and sometimes less sometimes none at all. And you could sort by rating and by hours of operation and then you can expand to more locations.

Below that these are the organic results now by the way, so all of this, the ads from AdWords, most SEO companies might also do AdWords or partner with someone that does AdWords. My business, my company does do AdWords as well. SEO companies should be doing this (Google 3 Pack). This is part of local SEO, the Google 3 Pack, the Google Local Pack. This is set up through Google My Business. Then these are the organic results and this is what most SEOs focus on through the various methods and we’ll go into various methods of ethical and not so ethical SEO in future podcasts. So we have here Home Advisor, we have Yelp, and we have Blue Frog Plumbing. Home Advisor and Yelp, these are going to be directory sites. Probably most of you are familiar with Yelp. Home Advisor maybe you are familiar with it if you’re in the service industry or you’ve done any type of home repair in the past. YellowPages is the same thing. Affordable Plumbing Services looks to be a local plumber. Based on the phone number it says Meriden Connecticut 6 3 0 is a Meriden phone number. We have Angie’s List which is another site similar to Home Advisor. Roto-Rooter is a national brand. Local 777 is the union for plumbers and pipefitters. A1 quality Router is another local 235 is also Meriden prefix. So we’ve got Thumbtack, If you’re not familiar is another lead generating site for a different service type businesses. Then you have some more ads. So we have should be 10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 results.

Of those 10 I think there’s 1 2 3 local plumbers listed of the ten in the organic results. Then you have the ads. Okay so let’s just search Plumbers so we can see. A lot of people believe you can’t rank for one-word keywords anymore so plumbers would be, believe it or not, is a very high-value keyword on Google and I’ll use another one after this just to show you what I mean. So similar results here you have your ads and (Google) actually provides a definition. The Knowledge Graph. This is, and I’ll do this in a future episode but this is another SEO tactic that I’ll get into in a future episode. Your Google 3 pack, a little bit different this time but I think two of the three are still the same. Then Home Advisor. Blue Frog moved up. Blue Frog moved up on this listing. So they are a local plumber I believe. Central Connecticut. I am in central Connecticut. They are a local plumber so they moved up. They’re in number two in the organic listings for plumbers. Not Meriden plumbers, not local plumbers, not plumbers near me. Just plumbers. So I’m going to show you what the keyword volume on that is in a moment. New Concepts Plumbing, also local. Johnny’s Plumbing LLC local. Peter White. These are all local so now we searched for just plumbers. We have more local businesses listed and this is like I said a high-value keyword.

Let me show you what I mean. I’m going to go to Moz Keyword Explorer at Moz.com. Moz appears to be a little bit slow at the moment. Here we go. Keyword explorer is going to ask you to log in but let me just show you what that looks like. It didn’t ask me to log in. Yes, it did. Where’s the log in option? Here we go. I do not have a paid account with them at this point. I have used them in the past. I’ve decided to stick with SEMRush as my primary tool. What is my username? That’s why. We’ll get it right, I promise guys. So we log in you must do it one more time. You can see in a given month there are between 11,500 and 33,000 searches for just plumbers. If you look so plumbers near me actually gets 70 almost 71,000 to 120,000 searches per month. This is a high volume so if you divide it by 50 states you’re getting a significant number of searches per month. High Difficulty. Let’s do plumbers near me just to show you what I mean. So 71,000 searches per month.

You have Yelp, Home Guide, Home Advisors, BBB, Angie’s List Angie’s List Thumbtack. Blue Frog again shows up on page 1. Roto-Rooter and Affordable Plumbing Services. So those two are doing quite well with their SEO. I would imagine that they have somebody internally doing this or they have contracted an SEO Mot me. I don’t work with any plumbers at this point so if you’re a plumber and you need an SEO guy. I’m your guy. So there are two local listings two local businesses in the organic search results for plumbers near me. And this gets anywhere between 71,000 and 120,000 searches per month nationwide so you can rank, that proves that you can rank on the first page of Google for one word or high-value keywords.

Another one that comes up a lot and I do work with some attorneys. None in Meriden. So let’s do attorney. So here’s your ad. Here’s your knowledge graph again, and again, I’m going to get into why this is so this is Wikipedia but there is a chance you can rank here for your website and we’ll get into that in a future episode. People also ask for… This is a keyword strategy. Is an attorney and a lawyer the same thing so maybe now you have a blog post on that because people are searching for that. That’s another strategy and we’ll get into that later. Charles Thompson Law. local lawyer. Eaton Law. Local Lawyer. STMC Law local.

So as you can see… and there are top stories because there’s a lot a lot of stuff going on in the country about that right now. Attorneys.com. You know some of these are going to be listing, a lot of them will be listing sites. They have more power, more money, more resources behind them. But I have one two three law firms locally ranking in the top four for organic search results. Three of the top four. OK.

And then you have your Google Places. None of those three are here. So that’s something. To me what you should be doing is something I try to get business owners to do. You should own the first page. So yes it’s easier, by the way, to rank for a branded name. So Scott Gombar is a brand name. And so here’s my google my business listing, my website, LinkedIn, Twitter and so forth, Yelp, BBB, Facebook and so forth. If I keep going it’s all me UpCity and Alignable. Alignable is a great site by the way. If you’re not using it, use it for local businesses. So this is what you should be trying to do and if I go back to attorneys then they’re not doing this. Charles Thompson, Eaton Law STMC Law. None of those are here. They’re not owning as much of the first page as possible.

Alright, so that’s part 1 of that search. Now, these listings are, these returns these are skewed by my preferences. my locale, and what I’ve searched for in the past. Possibly my search history. Right.

So let’s try, we’re going to go to Firefox. So what I’m trying to point out is that your search results will not be the same as mine. I don’t know if Google is the default search engine on Firefox. I very rarely use Firefox. Let’s do that again. Attorney, did I do attorney or attorneys. I did attorney. OK. So people think you can’t rank on the first page of Google for these things. A little bit different. So Brownstein is here twice. Meriden Cooper Corporation is here. So a little different. There is your Wikipedia again formatted??? It’s still here Ok. But here’s Charles Thompson, Eaton Law, STMC Law, and then you have some news. So Charles Thompson was number two, Eaton Law three and STMC Law four. They’re all on the first page still but the order is a little bit different. As you can see this is moved up a little.

Now let me get to my point. Let’s say what a lot of  SEOs are doing, and depending on the area, so like New Haven law firm is probably a good search probably fairly high volume. Let’s find out. Probably should have decent amount of search volume. Zero to ten is not that spectacular. New Haven Law Firms gets 11 to 50. OK. And this is what I mean by brand. Look, more people search for Wiggin & Dana than they do New Haven law firms. So New Haven law firms gets 11 to 50 and a New Haven law firm to get let’s say 25 to 30 searches per month, you know depending on what they do, that could be a pretty significant volume of inquiries. Wiggin and Dana!

So I did not mean to do that. So you can see the value of branding. We’ll get to that in a future episode. See this, Wiggin and Dana. So New Haven law firms, I’m not in New Haven. I’m about twenty-five minutes outside of New Haven. There are quite a few law firms here listed.  Lawyers.com is not a law firm. Best Law Firms is not a law firm. But the rest are law firms. So let’s take a screenshot of as much of this as I can. Let’s Snip It. And I’ll include these screenshots in the show notes. So new haven law firms. This is the top 1, 2, 3, 4…. eight that’s only because I don’t want, too lazy to lower the zoom. New Haven Law firms. We did plural. I’m going to, I have a VPN software express VPN and I’m going to change my location temporarily. What do I mean? Well, you’ll see. So right now I have an IP address in Meriden Connecticut. Actually, my yeah, Meriden. So it says I’m in Meriden. OK. I’m gonna say now that I’m in, let’s go to a different location in the U.S. Let’s say Dallas. Hopefully, it works. Give it a moment to connect. Ok, It’s On.

So let’s see what it gives me for an IP. Now it says I am in Dallas. Let’s do that again in Firefox. New Haven Law Firms. OK let’s just do attorney. Then we will do New Haven law firms. So now it’s showing me attorneys. There’s your news. These are attorneys in Dallas. Here’s your definition, attorneys.com, more news, attorneys in Dallas. So what you get for your search results in Dallas are not going to be the same as me in Meriden.

So let’s do New Haven attorneys and see if it’s the same. Maybe I did it in Chrome. Yeah. New Haven law firms let’s see if that’s the same. So we screenshot. I’ll bring it back up in a moment. So you can see the Google business listings I believe are the same. Let me find my screenshot. I don’t remember where I saved. OK. Best Law Firms, Wiggin Dana, Lynch Taub, New Haven Lawyers, so this looks to be the same. It is. Alright, but is that dependent on me being in Chrome which remembers my search history. So it’s goo too, looks pretty similar. So that’s interesting. I was expecting different results. If I go into incognito mode (private window) and Google New Haven Law Firms. Looks the same still. Yep, it’s still the same. So what that tells me is very specific searches, very specific queries New Haven law firms give you the same results across the board in the U.S. If I go to another country and I’ll get to that a moment it’s different.

Now, why would this be important? So I expected a different result. So I’ve seen different results but this is interesting to me that is the same. And why would this be important? I might be a business owner, a law firm in Dallas that needs help from a New Haven law firm. So I might be calling up, go on Google and say I need a New Haven law firm. I don’t have a relationship with anybody New Haven. I need a New Haven law firm. And this is what it returns. Most people do not go past the first page. Most people don’t go past the first four listings.

So that’s important to know. Very few people, I think it’s less than 8 percent. Go to page 2. So here is your page two results. Very few people come here. If I go??? So we saw attorney was not the same results because now it’s based on your location. So attorneys in Dallas are not the same as attorneys in Meriden or New Haven. Let’s choose a different country because this was a topic that came up. People searching for something from another country so let’s say, let’s try France. I have not tried to connect to a Europe VPN. So let’s see if this works. It says I am connected. Let’s confirm that I have a France IP and here we go. And we’re n France! Look at that. In a matter of minutes, I visited Paris. Alright, New Haven law firms. Let’s do it again. It’s in French. And I don’t??? Well, that’s interesting. So these are different. Google My Business listings are definitely different. I know who this is. I know this person. This is the same, not the same, so different. So as you can see now most of the first page results are still here, just in a different order. But again, like I said, first four usually get most of the clicks. So now LTKE moved up a little bit. They might get more clicks than Wiggin. Now the chances of somebody in France calling for a New Haven law firm are pretty slim but you never know. The point of this is that people think Google search results are the same across the board everywhere and they’re absolutely not.

You can’t assume that what you get in another part of the country is the same as what I’m getting on my Google search. So Google search results are factored by your location. They are factored by your search history, your preferences. It may also take into consideration your google, your Gmail, if you use Gmail, it takes that into consideration. That’s not confirmed we don’t know for sure but we’ve just proven that this searching a keyword for (A) you can, let me let me go back to the United States. (A) you can rank for one-word, high-value keywords. We just proved plumbers and attorneys. Let’s try lawyers. Let’s just do lawyer. Lawyer. So I am back in Meriden now. Here’s your ads. So you can see I am back in Meriden. Why does it keep freezing when I do this. But these are Meriden lawyers, back in Meriden. Wikipedia definition. But now we have a local lawyer, we have the Bar Association, we have a local lawyer, we have lawyers.com. So two out of the first five were local, somewhat local. And then we have some news articles. So we have three in the organic results that are local. Let’s go to keyword explorer. Now here’s another point. New Haven law firm gets zero to 10 searches per month nationally. New Haven law firms gets 11 to 50 so your keyword choice is important. And so this is a good tool to use you can get 10 search queries per month. If you need more than that my suggestion would be to use the Google Keywood planner which is part of AdWords suite. You do need AdWords account. You don’t, I believe you need to have an active AdWords ad campaign.

I fortunately have several clients with AdWords campaigns going so I can’t confirm one way or the other but I don’t believe you need an ad campaign. I think you just need an AdWords account. I could be wrong. So I will double check and get back to you. But it’s interesting and you have a branded keyword suggestion and this would be more for AdWords campaigns. This is a tactic for AdWords that actually gets more search than New Haven law firms. So this is why branding in SEO is so important and I’ll do that in a future episode as well. Coming up with all these great show ideas. So branding is important in your keyword strategy and in your SEO strategy. Let’s just do lawyer here and see what it does. You guys are making me use up all my search queries. So lawyer search queries between 30,000 and 71,000 and I believe attorney. Lawyer definition. No. OK. So lawyer gets between 30,000 and 71,000 lawyers gets I’d bet it’s less. Yes it’s less, significantly less. About 10 percent. No about…. significantly less, about a third. An attorney was the same attorneys. So whether you search for attorney or attorneys it doesn’t matter, I’m sorry attorney or lawyer it doesn’t matter. They are about the same search volume but the other nice thing with what keyword planner is instead of doing the U.S. you can do local to you. You can drill right down to the city. Yes. The results are about the same for a lawyer and attorney. So if you ran for both lawyer and attorney then you increase, you double opportunities.

So I have lawyer here ??? Mahone, Billings and Barrett, and Carter if I do attorney, nobody’s doing both. Nobody ranks on the first page for both. But so now you have six law firms local to me that are getting somewhere between 30,000 and 71,000 searches per month on a national level. Let’s just do the Keyword Planner so I can show you. I don’t know the exact URL. Here we go. Sign In. Yes, I used Lastpass. I choose not to remember any of my passwords anymore. It’s just safer that way. Most things I use multifactor authentication now that’s whole other topic and I won’t get into right now.

Alright, so keyword planner. Let’s get there. I think I just went in the wrong way so… Yeah, this isn’t it. Who is this that’s not running alright anyway. Somebody’s payment information is not up to date but that’s a whole nother story. So let’s say, lawyer. It already narrowed it down a Connecticut for me. So in Connecticut, there are 1300 searches per month for lawyer. Says competition is low. We can narrow this down even more so if I wanted to do just Meriden Connecticut. Three hundred and forty thousand people. We get about 20 searches per month. Now that might not seem like a lot but you also have to remember (and here’s attorney at 20). You also have to remember that they’re getting searches from surrounding towns. This is 20 possible clicks per month on the first page because remember most people are not going past the first-page average monthly search of seeing which, yeah so lawyer and attorney to get the most.

If I did personal injury (Where are my results) its been creeping up that’s actually pretty high. So it’s been creeping up little by little every month. Let’s go back to attorney for a minute. So I don’t know if this is lifetime for attorney because this is saying there were 720 searches in June of 2018, of which 470 were on mobile, so more than half, which really shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. Interesting. You earned saw this must be, I’ll have to look to see what this really means.

But this is a better tool so you can get search volume locally so if I were to say search for, what’s a very uncommon attorney term. Well you know while we’re here I’ll point out something else. So if you search for, there are people that try to rank for very very very specific terms and I don’t get the strategy. So your keyword strategy should be somewhere in between trying to rank for high-value keywords and ranking for somewhat specific keywords that still have search volume. Some people try to rank for keywords that have zero searches. And it’s great, their site is on  page 1 first slot and great! You did it! You have no competition. Nobody is looking for it. So you’re not really getting anything from that. So that’s another thing to be wary of if you’re talking to an SEO. Yes, you can rank for very specific search terms. I can probably do it within a couple of weeks sometimes. But if nobody is searching for it what’s the point? The idea behind this podcast was to show you how Google search works and how you can (a) rank for high-value single-word keywords like lawyer or attorney, we did plumber let’s do well let’s do what I need right now.

Let’s do air… Let’s do HVAC. There’s an ad, there’s a definition. These are the different HVAC companies near us and this is the Google Maps. So then you have Cromwell HVAC which is about 10 or 15 minutes north of me. Middletown HVAC, You have an Extreme Temp CT in Southington. So these are pretty local towns to me. Wallingford and Cheshire also pretty local to me. We have 1 2 3 4 Looks like 4, oh Silver City I missed them. 1 2 Silver City is in Meriden 4 5 on the first page Google that is local just for HVAC.

You can rank on the first page of Google, locally, for one-word keywords. As a matter of fact the days of ranking throughout the United States, throughout nationally for one-word keywords as you can see just based on what I’m doing here. Those days are over. So nobody is going to own the top spot for lawyer across the board. Because, somebody does, Wikipedia owns it but no business is going to own it. Lawyers.com is a lead generation, I believe, a referral service. Yeah. And being on these sites, I don’t know, off the top of my head, I don’t know what the cost is or what you have to do to be on the site but being on these sites should also be part of your SEO plan. So will do those on future episodes, but as you can see with 4 high-value keywords, one-word keywords, local businesses are ranking on the page first page of Google.

And as you can see if I’m in a different location then my results are different. And finally, if I’m in another country my results are different. So if you’re in Europe or in Asia you’re not going to get the same results as me here in the United States even for very specific keyword phrases. So if I type out a personal injury lawyer that helps with Mesothelioma it’s going to be different in France than it is going to be Meriden Connecticut. And that’s because Google takes your location into consideration. If I type in something specific to a location so Meriden lawyer it may be different based on my location if I’m in a different country. As we saw with my results in the U.S. The results were the same. Now there ismore than one New Haven and more than one Meriden in the United States. You might have to factor that into the results but that’s how Google search works. Google search takes your location primarily, your previous search history in your preferences and potentially your Gmail settings if you use Gmail. If you think going incognito changes anything let me show you it does not. Lawyer…. because I actually spoke with an SEO online who said that they go incognito to confirm search rankings and as you can see here it doesn’t mean anything. I’m still getting very similar results. So don’t believe that either. So that’s going to do it for the first episode of SEO Hackerz. My plan is there is a Facebook group if you go to SEOHackerz.com and that’s with a Z, not with an s.

So that’s S E O H A C K E R Z dot com. Go there, that will bring you to the Facebook group. I do plan on having members of that group on my podcasts in the future. And this, as you can see, I’m doing videos as well, so maybe we’ll break down a website go over what needs to happen on your website. I have a lot of ideas for this podcast. This was the first one. And there’ll be plenty more. I don’t know the frequency. Maybe as I come up with ideas and I have a ton already. Maybe once a week. I don’t have a set time. There won’t be live for now. They may go live on my Facebook page in the future. I’m Scott Gombar your SEO expert on the podcast. If you go to scottgombar.com that’s my website for the business S C O T T G O M B A R dot com. And once again Facebook group is S E O H A C K E R Z dot com SEOHackerz.com. It will take you right to the Facebook group where I do plan on having members on the show in the future. Until the next episode, I will talk to you next time and remember SEO is for the people!

 

Facebook Groups to Replace Email Marketing

I Dumped My Email Marketing. Here’s Why [And What I Replaced It With]

I sent my last email today, July 25th, 2018.

I started a Facebook Group to create an active SEO Community.  Email Marketing Open Rates and Click Through Rates are down across most industries.  Facebook Groups allow for better collaboration, sharing and community like involvement.

Preface

email marketing sucksI used to send an email newsletter every two weeks.  I slowed down because my open rate was not that great and click through was even worse.

I thought it was just me but after doing some research I saw that email reach for most people was down.

I took some time to think about it.  I tried different things including:

  • Different Types of Titles
  • Different email templates
  • Use of different kinds of buttons
  • Different types of content

There was no real improvement.

Keep in mind my list is people who voluntarily signed up.  I did not purchase it or build it any other way.

What Gives?

If you take some time and think about your own email behavior you will understand why email marketing is down dramatically over the years.

You might remember the days of your post office mailbox being stuffed with direct mail.  How much of that mail was ignored?

You’re sending email to someone who is likely inundated with email daily.  They just do not have the time to read everything.

If they do open your email it’s probably getting skimmed at best.

I do this.  I get at least 100 emails on any given day, probably closer to 200.  I just cannot take the time to read them all.

I choose what I read based on the subject and the sender.  Otherwise the email likely just sits in my inbox or gets deleted.  I signed up for these email newsletters and notifications.

I spend a lot of time reviewing clients content and analyzing SEO.  I am constantly marketing and researching.  Taking the time to read EVERY email just does not work.  It does not work for most people.

In the US email marketers have an open rate of 19.9% on average.  The lowest open rates are 7.8%.  

I Get It

What Do You Do to Continue to Reach People That Want to be Reached?

Let’s face it.  If you wanted to read my content you will.  Whether it’s in an email, on my social media or on my blog.

The problem is you may not be aware of when I create new content.

I have a solution.

I created a Facebook Group.  Using a Facebook or LinkedIn Group is really the best way to continue to reach your community.  Everyone is notified of new posts.  The reach is far greater than any other online method right now.

You might think other options are better.  Let’s review.

  • Facebook Page Reach is down significantly and will continue to fall as Facebook tries to recover from the fake news problems. Followers of your Facebook page ARE NOT notified of new posts.
  • Twitter reach is down as the platform continues to try to find itself and also attempts to eliminate bot accounts.
  • Google Plus is almost a ghost town
  • Snapchat reach is also down
  • Instagram is the only platform right now that seems to be doing well for reach for most active social media users and businesses. It has crossed the One Billion user mark (only Facebook has more).  Just recently they launched InstagramTV.

Organically the best way to reach your community is through a Group on Facebook or LinkedIn.  I chose Facebook as it has a larger population.

Instagram is great and I use it often but it does not offer the same community feel as a Group on Facebook.  It’s still very easy to miss content as the algorithm evolves in a similar manner to Facebook’s algorithm.

Facebook Groups to Replace Email Marketing

Welcome to SEOHackerz – A Facebook Community

I launched the group on July 12th, 2018.  As of this blog post, there are 9 members.

I am sending my final email on July 25th, 2018.  In the email is an invite to the group.

I pointed a domain I own (seohackerz.com) at the Facebook Group to make it easier to find.

How Do I Get People to Join My Facebook Group?

Now I have a group.  Let’s call it a community.  How will I get people to join?

Facebook’s algorithm clearly favors larger, more active groups.  It takes time to build it.  If you do nothing it will take a long time.

A few years back I started an Online Networking Group on LinkedIn.  It took a while to get it to 100 or 500 members.  Today the group sits at 5069 members.  It’s pretty much on autopilot now.  I have two admins who help moderate the group.  It’s a great resource for Connecticut businesses and entrepreneurs.

The point is if you build it they will come…. if you put the work in too.

Here’s what I have done so far to bring people to the group.  Keep in mind all of these were done within a few days of writing this blog post.

  • Tweeted about it on Twitter (and I will continue to do so)
  • Shared it on Instagram
  • Posted it to my Facebook Page
  • Of course, there is the email I told you about
  • Asked current members to share it
  • Shared it in a few groups I belong to, with permission of course
  • Share it in groups I own including the LinkedIn Group
  • I have replied to comments on my blog posts with invites

I will continue to do most of these.  I will find other ways to share.  I may even run an ad or two.

Building a community for SEO

Why Do I Share This?

Email marketing does work for some.  It did work for me for some time.

For most email marketing is declining, rapidly.  It is being replaced by other means of reaching your community/audience.

A personally know a few business owners who use text messaging instead.  With text messaging, you’re not competing with hundreds of emails.  You might be competing with dozens of texts.

I know a few businesses who switched their social media marketing from Facebook Pages to Facebook Groups. If you pay attention to the news at all you know that Facebook is reducing Facebook Page reach even more.

I have chosen to eliminate my email marketing program and focus on Facebook Groups.  Yes, that is plural.  I belong to other groups that are very effective for their purpose.  I plan to create a couple more for various purposes.

Marketing has evolved dramatically in the last 20 years.  The explosion of the internet has made it incredibly easy to seek and engage your ideal community.

I say easy because it’s easier than placing an ad that will be seen by a mass population of people of which only a small percentage are interested in what you’re selling.

Today in the world of marketing (digital marketing) evolves constantly and often.  If you’re not staying up to date with changes you can fall behind very quickly.

I am evolving my marketing plan.  I will do the same for the businesses I work with.  I just advised a business today to move more of their strategy to Instagram.

My last email campaign saw an open rate of 12.44% and almost no clicks.  The industry average for my industry is around 20%.

Sharing the same content in ONE Facebook Group generated 31 visits to the blog post.  Of which maybe 1/3 left comments.  Even better is my bounce rate is down to around 45% now, well below industry average.

That’s in one day, one share in one Facebook Group.

It’s clear to me the path I need to take.

Final Thought

Email marketing might be great for you.  Everyone is different.  I have (and still) work with several businesses on email marketing.  I have watched open and click-through rates decline over time for every single one of them.

No matter what strategy is deployed it does nothing to shake up the analytics.  Occasionally we get lucky with a great response.

I prefer to get lucky more often.

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seo process wash rinse and repeat

What Happens When You Stop Doing SEO? [It’s Not Pretty]

Backstory

seo process wash rinse and repeatI worked with a service provider type business for a good portion of 2017.  At the end of 2017, they were very far behind on their invoices.  I offered the business an opportunity to pay off the outstanding invoices with a 35% discount.  They agreed and asked if they could spread the payments over the first quarter of 2018.  I agreed.

They made some payments but did not keep the commitment.  Meanwhile, I continued to handle their inbound marketing at a modified rate, mostly just SEO.  It started to become evident that they did not want to pay the past due balance as well as the new balance incurred.

This dragged it out until it came to a head in June 2018.  They made sporadic payments, but it was never enough to get caught up.  They continued to fall further and further behind.  In June 2018 I stopped all digital services that I was providing.

In a little over a year, they had increased qualified traffic to their website by 142.9%.  This might not seem like a lot, but their service area is relatively small in population, maybe a few hundred thousand at most.  The service is a high-ticket item so not all the few hundred thousand are qualified.

The office manager admitted to me on more than one occasion that the number of requests for bids had more than doubled over the previous year.  The SEO Campaign was working.

What Happened to Their Traffic & SEO

I turned over their Instagram account.  I had stopped posting to it at the end of 2017 because of past due invoices.  This is when I began focusing on only SEO and Content Creation.  They removed me as an admin of their Facebook page.  This is a clear indication of their intentions.

Another digital marketer began posting for them sporadically with almost no results.

What they did not do was remove me from Google Analytics or Google Search Console. Google Search Console was never even set up for them by the marketer/web designer/SEO before me.  They may not even be aware of its existence though I did review it with them several times early in the process.

A week or 2 after we parted ways I started receiving alerts from the Google Search Console for AMP errors.

AMP is the Accelerated Mobile Project.  The plan is to speed up the mobile web.  In short, it caches a stripped-down version of your web pages on Google’s servers so that they load faster on the mobile web.

The errors were regarding content mismatch.  Essentially Google was advising that there were two different versions of the website.  This alone can create problems when it comes to indexing the website.

Probably more alarming is in less than 2 weeks their traffic took a 40% dive.

traffic decline from stopping SEO

I checked again 2 weeks later, and that trend continued.  Compared to the previous year they were down 13.33%.

What Does That Mean?

As an SEO I am constantly testing theories on my own web properties.  I had a podcast site up for over two years that was receiving several thousand visits per month.

The podcast was discontinued, and the site was ignored for over a year.  The site was live, but no new content was added.

After almost a year the traffic to the site was non-existent.  It had between 10-50 visits per month.

SEO is not a set it and forget it process.  It is an ongoing strategy that needs to evolve as Google updates the algorithm and as search itself evolves.

My active SEO clients are currently seeing traffic increases of between 40 and 500%.  None of them are down in traffic, and even more importantly they are all experiencing increased call volume.

traffic increase from SEO efforts

You might ask what part of SEO requires constant maintenance.  I get asked all the time to just do an SEO refresh. I oblige.  Not without cautioning the client that results are usually temporary.

Here are some of the services that an SEO provides while managing a business’ SEO strategy:

Most of these activities are not visible to anyone other than the SEO providing the service.  This means on the surface you might not notice a difference when the SEO campaign stops.

The business will notice the difference when the SEO stops!!

Assuming the business does not hire another SEO expert I can just about guarantee that by this time next year their site traffic will be almost non-existent.  Their request for quotes will drop dramatically.

You also must account for your competition.  There’s a good chance they are at least doing some SEO.

What Can I Do If My SEO Provider Sucks?

Unfortunately, the SEO industry is full of snake oil salesmen.  There are great legitimate SEO experts who know how to do the proper research and implement an effective SEO plan. There are also those who claim to know SEO but practice outdated or unethical methods.

I would also avoid cold calling SEOs.

One common mistake I see with SEO is the keyword focus.

Here’s an example:  An online business that sells trinkets wants to be ranked for “random item name with 8-digit item number”.  The item number is only used by their business.

The problem with this strategy is no-one is searching for that.  And the SEO is not using Latent Semantic Indexing (using patterns to identify variations or synonyms of the keyword). 

More than likely the person or team doing the SEO has not done the proper research.

The best thing you can do is speak to a few SEO experts before deciding who to work with.

It is important to note that most SEO plans take at least 6 months before they really start paying dividends.  There are variables to this including your websites age and level of competition.

If you are already working with an SEO and suspect you’re not getting your money’s worth you can get an SEO report (free on my site).

I did speak with a service provider who questioned the methods of their current SEO.  They were right to question them.  I gave them the information they needed, and they went back to their current SEO to review.

I might have pissed off that other SEO, but I helped the business owner.  Maybe I didn’t get a new client out of it, but I suspect their current SEO will drop the ball again.

That SEO was using a questionable method of link building.  I told the business owner that it likely won’t hurt them, but it definitely won’t help them.

If they are not doing their part to honor your agreement, then you have every right to end the agreement.

Search Engine Optimization for Business Growth

Final Thought

SEO is truly an ongoing process.  It should be thought of as part of your overall marketing and advertising plan.  Like many other things in life the moment you begin to ignore it you will start to see negative results.

There is the initial SEO refresh as I call it but that is only to get the ball rolling.  After this is completed then you must maintain and evolve.  There’s always another business popping up trying to take that traffic from you.  Don’t let it happen to your business.

Ending an effective SEO plan will produce negative results for your business.  Unless you have a qualified SEO ready to take over be ready to take a hit on traffic and sales.

If you are a do it yourselfer then make sure to be consistent with your SEO efforts.  Taking a month off from SEO can have a very dramatic effect on your overall business.  I have seen business owners heart sink on more than one occasion.

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local business listings for SEO

Jump Start Your Google Rankings with a N.A.P. [Improve Traffic by 20-70%]

Jump Start Your Google Rankings with a N.A.P. [Improve Traffic by 20-70%]

  • N.A.P. is an acronym that stands for Name, Address, Phone Number
  • Maintain accurate and up to date listings across the internet is important
  • What happens when N.A.P. is updated on business listing sites to be accurate and up to date?

Summary

Why is N.A.P. So Important?

What I Discovered While Researching the Client’s Local Listings (This is Probably Happening to Your Business)

How We Fixed the Local Listings

What Your Business Needs to Know

local SEO local Search NAPIn a recent case study, I worked with a client on their local listings.  We uncovered the following before we got started.

Of 61 listings, 52 of them were nonexistent.  Five of the remaining 9 contained incorrect N.A.P. information.  We took on the task of updating these listings to improve their overall rankings in Google.  Once all the local listings were updated the traffic to their site saw a 70% increase in traffic and a 12% decrease in bounce rate.  These increases were from local, qualified traffic.  Meaning it was not junk traffic from another part of the world.  The traffic increase was from organic search results.  In fact, the bounce rate for organic traffic was even lower than the overall number.

See – What is Bounce Rate & Why Is It Important to SEO?

You might be wondering what N.A.P. is.  N.A.P. stands for Name, Address, Phone Number.  This is the basic information of any listing for a business on any number of local directory listing sites.  There are hundreds of local directory listing sites ranging from Google My Business to Yelp and lots of lesser-known ones in between.  Some of these sites are not very valuable to your SEO strategy (What Is SEO?) or your business in general.  Others will provide a boost as Google scans the internet to ensure business information is accurate.

Speaking of Google My Business, if you don’t have GMB listing accurately set up for your business then we need to have a different conversation.

Why Is N.A.P. So Important? 

Google My Business is a very important component of local SEO.  Having this set up completely and accurately is a necessity for any business.  Google does not only confirm your business information on Google My Business.  It also scans the internet to validate that your N.A.P. matches what you have on Google My Business and that all the other listings match.

Variations in your name, address, and phone number can send signals to Google that the information is not accurate across all your web properties.

What I Discovered While Researching the Client’s Local Listings

Let me start by saying that there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of local directory listing sites.  There are the necessary listing sites such as Google My Business, Bing Places, and Yelp.  There are the lesser known but still somewhat important sites like Apple, Yellow Pages, YP, and Mapquest.

After these sites, there are local directories that are not very popular at all.  These include sites like ABLocal and AroundMe.

You may not have heard of the last few sites above, but they still provide value to your Local SEO efforts.

local business SEOThere are more listing sites that provide no value as well. In some cases, adding your information to low-value directory listing sites can send the wrong information to Google.  In most cases, you just won’t receive any benefit to adding your business to them.  This is where having an experienced and knowledgeable SEO comes into play.

We scanned 61 local listing directories for their business information.  Their business was not listed at all on 52 of the local directory listing sites.  Of the remaining 9 more than half had the wrong information.

The 9 that were set up included Google My Business, Bing, Google+, Yelp, and Yahoo.  The business at least knew the importance and value of claiming their business listings on these sites.

What happened to the listings is that over time the address and business name changed.  The listings were also created with the owner’s cell phone number rather than the business number in some cases.

This meant that of the 9 created listings there were Name mismatches, address mismatches, and an incorrect phone number.

How We Fixed the Local Listings

We were able to discover and update the listings quickly.  In a matter of days, 51 of the listings were live with accurate information.  The rest soon followed.

After day one of the updates, we saw a 20% increase in traffic and a small drop in bounce rate.  The traffic increase came almost exclusively from local organic search.

After one week we saw an increase in traffic of just over 70% while noting a decrease in bounce by 12%.  This is significant as it indicates more qualified visitors are coming to the client’s website.  In other words, people who want to potentially do business with the client.

We did not see an immediate bump in monitored keyword rankings.  It is possible that other keywords that we are not actively monitoring moved up.  We will know when we do our end of the month review.

What You Need to Know

There is no indication from Google that having N.A.P. set up correctly on these local listing sites impacts your Google Rankings.  I have no way to prove that a listing site helped or hurt SEO efforts.

It is obvious that Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook and other business listing sites of this caliber are critical to your SEO success.  They should be included in your plan.  The client did include 9 of the top business listing sites in their plan.  The client did not maintain those listings which eventually became stale and outdated.

The remaining business listing sites may or may not impact SEO and Google Rankings.  It’s hard to tell as we updated 61 listings at the same time.

If you as the business owner decide to do this on your own there are third party sites/applications that can assist.  Yext is the most well-known one.  Synup is also a good option.

You can also go the manual route.  This will take you more time obviously.  It also increases the chances of a listing becoming stale or inaccurate.

local business listings for SEOStart from the top of the business listing pile.  Google My Business, Yelp, Yahoo, Bing, and Facebook are some of the most important ones.  Continue from there.  You can easily find a list of important business listing sites by, wait for it, Googling it.

Or you can ask us to do an initial scan for you!

You may or may not get the same results we got for our client.  Having your business listed on local directories is helpful regardless of the impact it has on your SEO.  Having accurate information is very important.

I will close with this.  Every year on Christmas Eve I get cannolis for the family.  Growing up in New Haven this was easy as there were a few Italian bakeries within a mile or 2 of me.  Now I live about 30 minutes away from New Haven.  A few years ago, I thought I would try a newer bakery closer to my home.  I googled the business information on Christmas Eve.  To my surprise, the Google listing said they were closed.  I had to go to New Haven to get Cannolis.

Turns out the bakery closer to me was open on Christmas Eve but their Google My Business listing was not accurate.  They lost my sale and potentially many others.  Have you ever gone to an Italian bakery on Christmas Eve?

Are you prepared to lose sales because you can’t be found or your information is not up to date?