Local Search Blog Posts by Scott Gombar

first steps to SEO Success - Meta Tags

First Steps to SEO Success – Meta Tags [And What to Avoid]

It’s been a while since I added to this series.  My plan was to finish the series and turn it into an eBook by the end of the year.  I guess I better get moving a little.

What We Will Discuss:

  • What Are Meta Tags
  • What Meta Tags are Deprecated
  • What Meta Tags are Important
  • Other Meta Tags

So far we have covered:

Now we’re going to talk about one of the more misunderstood and often abused areas of SEO.

What Are Meta Tags?

first steps to SEO success meta tagsMeta Tags are not visible when visiting a web page or blog post.  They are inserted into the header code of a web page.  They provide more information about what the web page or blog post is about.  They also provide other information to search engines.

There are meta tags that are useful to search engines, and others that are no longer useful.

If you are using a WordPress site it is easy to add Meta Info.  Most SEO plugins assist with providing meta information.

Yoast SEO plugin is my SEO plugin of choice on WordPress.  It is the most widely used SEO plugin.  Be sure to do your own research to determine what works best for you.

Most CMS or Website builders provide tools to add the appropriate meta information to your site.

If you are building a website with your own code, then you will have to manually add the appropriate code to your web page header section.

Meta Tags are short snippets of code that provide information about what your web page or blog post is about to search engines.

Why Are Some Meta Tags Useful and Others Not?

Let’s start with Meta Keywords.

Meta Keywords used to indicate to a search engine that a web page should be shown when a searcher queries for that keyword.

The problem was website owners and SEOs would stuff this meta tag with irrelevant keywords.  This created a negative user experience for people looking for specific information.

Meta Keywords can still be added but it’s pointless as major search engines do not use this information anymore.

Meta Description is used to describe what a web page or blog post is about.

A meta description is a one or two sentence synopses of the web pages content.

Google and other search engines won’t display much more than this.

Meta Descriptions are still very useful.  One thing to note is that Google does not always display the meta description in the search results.  Many times, Google will opt to display content from the web page or blog post itself.

There is no clear explanation as to why Google might choose to display content from the web page versus using the meta description.  It most likely depends on the search query being entered.

This is a typical Meta Description

<meta name=”description” content=”Meta Tags Are an Important Aspect of Search Engine Optimization.  Learn what they are and which ones can help you rank on Google”>

meta description tags for SEO

Google has stated that using keywords in a meta description will not help your SEO.

Where meta descriptions will help is enticing searchers to click on the web page.  Writing a compelling meta description, possibly with a call to action, is more likely to drive traffic than ignoring the meta description or using something generic, or keyword stuffing (which won’t help AT ALL).

If you read my blogs on a regular basis then you will know I talk about engagement all the time.  Google uses engagement statistics (bounce rate, time spent on a page, shares, etc..) to determine a page’s relevancy.

If a page has a low bounce rate and good engagement statistics, then there’s a better chance it will rank higher.

If searchers are clicking through a search result because of a well-written meta description, and stay on the page, visit another page on the site, leave a comment or share the page then Google considers the page to be more relevant.

If a page is considered more relevant there’s a good chance the web page moves higher in the search rankings.

Meta descriptions should be 160 characters or less.  Short meta descriptions will usually not have great results when shown.

Google has tested longer meta descriptions in the past.  As of this writing, the meta descriptions are not parsed beyond 160 characters.

Title Tags

We talked about web page and blog titles and their importance in an earlier blog post.

Title Tags are the meta tag used to tell search engines what the title of the web page should be.  This is an important meta tag as well.  This might be the most important of the meta tags.

Google will not serve up other information for the title tag.  The title of your page might make or break your clicks and visits.

<title>First Steps to SEO Success – Meta Tags [and What Not to Do]</title>

meta title tags for SEO

I wrote a lot about Titles and Title Tags in my post about Page and Blog Titles for SEO Success.

Title tags are probably the most important meta tag for your SEO.  This is why I dedicated a separate section to title tags.

Let’s talk a little about what might make the above title successful.

The title describes what the blog post will be about.  It also gives the searcher a reason to click through.

The searcher might ask if they are doing something wrong that could be hurting their SEO.

There was a study done by Brian Dean of Backlinko that showed using parenthesis or brackets significantly improved CTR (Click Through Rates).

These meta tags are probably the most recognized but there are a lot more.  Let’s explore.

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Other Meta Tags

Meta Robots Attribute

This tells Google what it should do with your web page or blog post.  There are two attributes that you can assign to this tag.

Index/NoIndex tells Google whether the webpage should be indexed on the search engine.

Follow/NoFollow tells Google whether the links on your web page should be trusted (Follow) or not trusted (NoFollow)

There are other meta tags that are specific to social media.

Open Graph was originally specific to Facebook.  Open Graph meta tags pass information from your web page to Facebook.  This is how Facebook can identify:

  • The page title
  • The description
  • What image to use
  • Author
  • Date
  • And more

Today Open Graph is used by Pinterest and Google Plus as well.

You can set up Rich Pins for Pinterest.  This is an extra step that is done through the Pinterest platform.

open graph meta tags for Facebook and Pinterest

Some of the more common open graph meta tags are:

<meta property=”og:title” content=”What Happens When You Stop Doing SEO? [It’s Not Pretty]”/>
<meta property=”og:description” content=”What happens when a business decides to stop doing SEO on their website? The results are pretty dramatic and can impact a business immensely.”/>
<meta property=”og:type” content=”article”/>
<meta property=”og:image” content=”https://www.scottgombar.com/what-happens-when-you-stop-doing-seo-its-not-pretty/”/>

what happens when you stop doing SEO post on Facebook

 

Twitter also has meta tags to do the same.  Twitter meta tags are often left out of blogs and web pages.  This is a lost opportunity for many site owners.

twitter meta tags

What About Rich Snippets?

When I created my SEO Checklist several years ago rich snippets were not widely used yet.  They still have not been implemented by most of the websites on the internet.

Rich Snippets or Microdata is like Meta Tags in that it provides microdata about a web page to search engines.

I wrote about Rich Snippets and Microdata briefly in this blog post. 

Since more is being said about Rich Snippets and their usage on Google’s Search Results Page I will add that to my next blog post in the First Steps to SEO Success Series.

While it has not been declared outright it is possible that one day Rich Snippets (Schema.org) will replace meta tags.  Google is relying on the information from rich snippets more and more.

If I were implementing an SEO strategy today I would include both meta tags and rich snippets as part of my strategy.

Next up in this series is Rich Snippets and Schema.org

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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?

 

SEO Graphic

First Steps to SEO Success – URL Structures | Scott Gombar CT SEO

SEO GraphicFirst Steps to SEO Success – URL Structures

So far, we have talked about the following as it relates to a Successfully SEO Plan:

This step is a little bit easier and quicker once you get going.  It’s also much easier if you take this into consideration prior to putting your website together.  Having to change the URL structure after the website has been created is a much larger task.  You may also have to consider 301 redirects when changing the URL structure of an existing website.

One of the often-overlooked items for on-page SEO is the structure of your URLs.  Keywords can be identified in the URL of a page.  Whether you are developing a website in WordPress, another CMS or you are creating pages with your own code, the URL structure is easy to set up.

In WordPress, under Settings>Permalinks you should set up the URLs of your pages and posts as Post Name.  This will make it easier for you to set up the URL structure.

Now that you have this set up it’s time to create a page.  By default, WordPress will create a URL based on your page title.  If you read the previous step (page titles) then you are already creating SEO friendly page titles.  There may be an occasion where you want to modify the URL further.  In WordPress this is easy.  Right below the title of your page or post the URL is displayed.  Click the edit button to the right of the URL and edit it as necessary.

One item to consider is stop words.  Some SEO Experts believe that certain words, called stop words, can have an impact on how Google ranks your site.  This may have been the case at one time, but it is no longer true.  Stop words are common words such as:

  • The
  • A
  • On
  • Go
  • An

First Steps to SEO Success URL StructureThere is no longer a reason to be concerned about stop words.  You should try to keep URLs to 5 words or less but there isn’t a hard limit set by Google.  Research shows that shorter URLs do get more clicks, but I don’t believe searchers pay too much attention to URLs when clicking on search results.

Creating URLs Manually

If you are creating web pages manually using HTML, PHP, ASP or another language then you probably already have the knowledge needed to create URLs.  The same best practices should still be followed when creating the URL structure of your pages and overall site.

URL Best Practices for SEO

  1. URLs should be ‘almost’ legible to humans-For example, if my URL is 5-things-your-seo-forgot-to-do-how-its-hurting-your-business this will make sense to a human. If I just add random numbers and letters after my TLD (top level domain) it is not readable.  In fact, I do use random numbers and letters when I am testing something and don’t want anyone to find it.
  2. Include keywords in your URLs. Yes, it counts. Include one keyword or long-tail keyword in your URL structure.  Using the example above you can easily determine that the keyword I wanted to focus on is SEO but there are other items that could return in search results.  For the example URL above, I basically used the title of the page.  Think of it as another opportunity to use your focus keyword in your content.
  3. Shorter URLs Where Possible-This is not for Google. This is for your audience.  Your audience is who you really want to create content for, isn’t it?
  4. Don’t Use Dynamic URLs Where Possible-Using URLs that end in something like php?language=en&inhalt=id=99 should be avoided. They’re ugly and can sometimes discourage people from clicking on them.
  5. Use Hyphens-in the example I used in point one I included dashes to separate words. This makes it easier to read.  Underscores are also acceptable but it’s best to use hyphens.  Spaces will work but this then adds a %20 to the structure of the URL.  This makes the URL a little harder to read.
  6. Avoid repetitive keywords in the URL structure. This includes folders.  For example, if my URL is com/local-seo/local-seo-steps this looks spammy.  It almost looks like keyword stuffing.  If you know anything about SEO then you know that keyword stuffing can negatively impact your SEO now.

SEO Hero

301 Redirects

If you are editing the URL structure of an existing website that has already built up authority and backlinks, then you have some things to consider.  Your best bet would be to create 301 redirects from the old URL to the new URL.  As an example:

Examplewebsite.com/page.php is changed to Examplewebsite.com/more-informative-url.php then you will want to add a 301 redirect.  A 301 redirect tells Google and other search engines that you have permanently moved the content of the page to a new location (URL).  I wrote a quick post about how to create a 301-redirect a while back but it’s pretty easy to do if you have access to your htaccess file.  Just insert the following:

RedirectPermanent /oldpage.html http://www.yourdomain.com/newpage.html

WordPress also comes with plugins to manage redirects.  This might be easier for less technical website owners and/or multiple redirects to set up.

Next, we will talk about Meta Descriptions

Get a Free Audit of Your Website SEO!!

 

 

6 Hacks to Beat Your Competition on Voice Search and Google

6 SEO Hacks to Beat Your Competition on Voice Search in 2018 and Beyond

Google Assistant (Duplex) Announcement at Google IO and What It Means to Your Business

6 Hacks to Beat Your Competition on Voice Search and GoogleSummary

  • Google announced the next generation of the Google Assistance in May 2018
  • Google Assistant’s name is Google Duplex
  • Google Duplex will be able to schedule appointments and carry on conversations
  • Businesses will need to adjust their SEO strategy for voice search
    • Create conversation and relevant content
    • Ask & Answer questions your audience/clients will ask
    • Add rich snippets to utilize microdata/schema
    • Ensure your website is mobile friendly and fast
    • Create long-form content that includes short, concise answers
    • Answer your phone

During Google IO (May 8th -10th, 2018) Google announced the next phase of its Google Assistant development. It is well ahead of where most people anticipated it would be.  Its name is now Google Duplex and let’s just say Skynet is real.

Google Duplex takes the digital assistant to a new level.  Soon Google will be able to place calls, set appointments and carry a conversation with the person on the other end.  Google Duplex will also be able to call businesses to confirm hours of operation on days where hours might be adjusted, such as holidays.

This is exciting and scary at the same time.  This combined with a rapidly increasing focus on voice search (Gary Vaynerchuk’s VoiceCon is on May 22nd in New York City) should emphasize how voice search is becoming more of an integral part of our daily lives.  Comscore estimates that by 2020 50% of all searches queries will be done through voice.  Gartner estimates that by 2020 30% of voice search queries will be done using a device with no screen.  https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2018/04/10/voice-search-statistics-2018

 What does this mean for SEO and your business growth? 

It means if you are not taking voice search seriously you better start.  This is going to sneak up on everyone faster than mobile did.  Not including this in your SEO and marketing plan could prove detrimental in the coming months and years.

Google, Amazon, and Apple are the primary players in voice search at the time of this writing.  Google and Amazon are clearly the leaders in voice search.  If you have used either of these services, then the potential is evident.  If you pay attention while you or someone else uses Google or Alexa then it should also be clear there are subtle nuances between voice queries and text queries.

It’s also a safe bet that Facebook and other social platforms will add voice search features in the future. Whether your focus is social or search, the result is you will have to optimize for voice queries. Voice queries are not the same as type or text queries. The only real question is how soon you need to start considering voice search as part of your content marketing strategy.  The answer is NOW.

Truth be told no-one can say for sure how voice search will impact SEO.  Most SEO solutions providers have a good idea of what will happen.  What is clear is how quickly voice search is evolving and the impact it is having on local search and SEO.  Something else that’s clear is you will not be presented with 10 results on a page when you ask your virtual assistant a question.  You will only get one result.  You’re not competing for page one anymore.  Now you will compete for number one.

6 SEO Hacks to Beat Your Competition on Voice Search

Voice Search Graphic SEO 2018

  1. Adjust Content to Be More Conversational & Relevant

There is a difference between the way someone types in a search query and the way someone verbally asks a question.  If you don’t know what I mean, then try it out yourself.  Ask Google or Siri a question and then think about whether the way you asked is the same as you would type it in.

Case studies so far have shown that there are several factors that return results for a voice search query.  One of those factors is the tone of the query response.  Conversational pieces of content fared better on voice search.

It’s still early for the results to be concrete. Voice search is still evolving.  Early case studies may not be relevant in a few months.  That said the early case studies make sense.  People would rather receive search query results in a conversational tone.  Take a little time to think about the conversations you have with your peers, yourself and even your virtual assistant if you are already using one.

  1. Ask & Answer Questions Your Audience Will Ask

When people use voice search they typically ask a question or issue a simple command.  Questions require short and too the point answers.  You’re already seeing this on the Google Search Results Page (SERP).  Many times, if you ask a question it returns a result at the top with bulleted answers or a one-sentence answer.  This is called the knowledge graph.

The knowledge graph results are often the result you get when using voice search.  The knowledge graph began showing up on Google Search in 2016. It’s almost like Google has been planning this all along.

How do you get results in the knowledge graph?  Answer questions.  There are many ways to come up with questions and answers.

  • What are some of the ways you can come up with questions to answer on your site?
    • answerthepublic.com lets you ask a question and returns different variations of the question. This is sort of what Google does with RankBrain (Machine Learning).  Google’s goal is to identify the searchers intent.
    • Ask existing clients and/or audience for questions they may have and answer them.
    • Use Quora to find questions related to your industry. Add them to your site and add answers.
    • Use Google’s Question and Answer section on Google Business listings to create relevant questions and answers.
    • You will also notice in my more recent blog posts I also include a bullet point summary near the top of my blog post. I am working my way backward on the rest of my blog posts to do the same.  Either a 1-2 sentence summary or a few bullet points will be added.
  1. Rich Snippets/Microdata

You’ve probably heard about rich snippets.  You may have even talked to a marketer about them.  Are you using them?  Statistics say you are not.

36.6% of Google Search results include at least one rich snippet, but only .3% of all websites use them.  Search Engine Land April 22nd, 2014.  While this has likely increased, I heard on a more recent podcast (within the last few months) that adoption of rich snippets is still very low.

Rich Snippets are derived from Structured Data added to website code.  This structured data makes it easier for Search Engines like Google and Bing to understand what a web page is about.  Structured Data also helps search engines extract important information from a web page.  That information might include things such as:

  • Hours of Operation
  • Location
  • Blog Author
  • Type of Content
  • Events
  • Local Business Info
  • Reviews
  • And a lot more.

Structured Data uses specific language.  The structured data the major search engines use comes from Schema.org.  It is important to note that Rich Snippets or Structured Data is not exclusive to Google. In fact, Google, Bing, Yahoo all use it as well as Twitter, Facebook, and other social platforms.

Structured Data is going to play a big part in voice search results as this information is easier for search engines to decipher.  It’s also easier for mobile search results to be returned based on structured data.  Many voice searches are performed on mobile.

Let me get on my soapbox for a sentence or two.  If your site is not optimized for mobile, rich snippets, and voice search, you are going to miss out on a huge chunk of search results.  This will cost your business a lot of money.

  1. Mobile Friendly and Fast

Alright, I mentioned it already.  I have mentioned it in other blog posts and podcasts.  I will continue to mention it until most businesses are taking it seriously.  Mobile search represents more than half of all search queries.  Many of those searches are done using a virtual assistant.

What do you do when you try to load a website on your phone and it takes more than a few seconds?  Most of us will close it or go back to the search results to load another page.  We will do the same thing if we load a web page on mobile and cannot view it or navigate it properly.

This impacts your search results because your bounce rate increases.  Bounce rate is a user engagement factor.  A high bounce rate and low time spent on a web page tell Google your web page is not relevant for the search query it is being returned for.  It will not be found via voice search if it is not mobile and fast.  Google wants FAST.

Google has already started rolling out mobile first indexing.  Google says that this only impacts sites that are mobile friendly but sites who are not have also received notification from the Google Search Console.  Page speed has also continued to gain importance, especially on mobile.

  1. Long Form Content

Google almost anything and you will see that most of the responses are long form.  Of course, it depends on the industry and your competition but the longer and more diversified your content the more likely it is to rank high in the search results.

The average word count of a voice search result page is 2,312 words. Therefore, Google tends to source voice search answers with long-form content. ~Backlinko Voice Search Analysis 2018

While word count helps the content rank higher on Google, short concise answers help your content be the query result on voice search.  When creating your content, you will have to provide short answers (the above study suggests that results were 29 words or less on voice search) while creating long-form content, at least 2000 words, that is engaging.

I mentioned industry and competition.  It is important to keep an eye on what your industry is doing as a whole and what your local competition is doing.  It’s even more important to stay one step ahead.  Don’t create content just a little better than what your competition is creating.  Create content that crushes their Google rankings.  This might seem harsh but at some point, a current, or new competitor will figure out that they need to put more focus into search results.  When they do you don’t want to make it easy for them to take what you worked so hard for.

Creating long-form content is one way to ensure it will not be easy for your competition to take your search rankings.  Creating long-form content that invites engagement is also a way to make you the authority in the eyes of your ideal audience and in turn Google.  Becoming the authority means you have a better chance of getting in the knowledge graph and being found for voice search queries.

  1. Answer Your Phone

This should seem like a no-brainer but unfortunately, it’s not.  Answer your phone.  Google is calling.  One thing that is clear from the samples of Google Duplex (and they were real samples) is that Google will place calls to set appointments.  If you are in a business that takes reservations or appointments it will be even more important to answer your phone.

Imagine if 50% of search queries were now voice.  Now imagine if that search is for an Italian restaurant or a hair salon.  Who will Google find?  When they do will the phone number be correct, and will someone be available to answer the phone?

As mentioned earlier Google will call businesses on holidays to check what their hours are.  I know of an Italian Pastry shop that lost a lot of business because Google showed them as closed on Christmas Eve.  They were indeed open, but this is another example of why your Google Business listing is critical, and why it will be important to answer your phone.

You’re probably scratching your head trying to figure out why businesses must be told this.  I was once hired to handle SEO for a local locksmith.  I set expectations and clearly explained what would happen during our time working together.  For 5 weeks the locksmith complained because he could not be found for New Haven Locksmith.  He was two towns above New Haven and was number 11 in the search results.  He was abusive and liked to insult people.  After 5 weeks I had enough and fired my client.  It was the first time I had ever fired a client but in retrospect, I should have never taken this client on.

During this 5-week engagement, the locksmith was ignoring phone calls and email requests for service calls.  He was only focused on getting to page one with New Haven Locksmith (which happened 5 days after I fired him).  He was turning away business in a highly competitive industry.  Traffic and results were being driven to his web properties but this locksmith was not focused on delivering a positive customer experience, or any customer experience.  He wasn’t focused at all.

There are a lot of businesses, especially smaller businesses, that do not answer the phone on a regular basis.  Don’t be that business.

 

Final Thoughts:  Voice search continues to evolve and become more and more a part of our daily work and personal lives.  It’s clear that voice search and virtual assistance will be a big part of how Google and other search engines return results.  While these 6 Ways to Improve Your Search Results in Voice Search may further evolve it’s safe to say that these are areas that will need your SEOs attention in the coming months and years.

If voice search will account for 50% of all search queries in 2020 and 30% of those will be on a device without a screen what will you be leaving on the table by not adding voice search to your strategy?

 

 

 

 

Local SEO

6 Reasons You Need Local SEO to Crush Your Competition – Updated

Local SEOUpdated April 19th, 2018 | Originally written October 10th, 2014

6 Reasons You Need Local SEO to Crush Your Competition Summary

  1. Branding
  2. Sales
  3. Traffic
  4. Cost Effective
  5. Competitiveness
  6. Return on Investment (ROI)

I wrote this post 3 1/2 years ago and saw that it is still getting a lot of attention according to Google Analytics.  I decided to update/refresh it for Spring 2018 for a couple of reasons.

First, I want to show my audience and clients how re-purposing can be used to drive qualified traffic to your blog and website.  It is a tried and true method of increasing traffic to your website.

Second, as with most blog posts over time, they need to be updated to provide timely and relevant information.  I am a person that not only preaches but practices.


Local SEO
has become one of the most indispensable components of every brand and business that desires long-term success across search engines. It has grown significantly over the past few decades, particularly given the upsurge of smartphone usage and better connectivity. As the name implies, local search engine optimization is about focusing on online searchers who are looking for particular services and goods that are available locally.

According to a recent study, over 80 percent of local consumers use search engines to find local businesses. People constantly request information while on the move via Android phones and iPhones or laptops. Gone are the days of dusting off the yellow pages from below the coffee table or cabinets. Consumers have now become savvier and require information on local businesses quicker than ever. If a local company cannot be found online, then it is already missing out on a plethora of opportunities to its competitors. Here are 6 reasons why businesses cannot afford not to use Local SEO.

Why Local SEO is Critical To Your Business Success

1. Branding

Local SEO will help establish your brand and business online, allowing potential clients and customers to find your website. Local SEO SignThis, in turn, will help to build your online presence. A professional business website that is simple to navigate and provides a positive user experience is extremely imperative as it is the first impression a potential client or customer will receive. Additionally, the combination of a user-friendly, high-quality website will automatically result in more phone calls, leads, sales, and revenue.

Update: While it is still a must that you have a website for your local business it’s also important to understand how the Google Search Engine, and to a lesser extent the Bing Search Engine, work.  Google Search Results will display several sections depending on the query.  In most cases, the results will include in order Ads, Google Local Pack, and Organic Results.  If the search is a very specific question or request for information then it may also include the specific answer or rich snippets.  There are multiple opportunities to show up on the first page of Google and you should try to occupy them all.

The Google Local Pack is set up through Google My Business and has had a lot of new features added in recent months.  I mention this because while your website can and should be connected to your Google Business listing people are less likely to click on your website from the Google Local Pack. If optimized correctly all the information they need will be included.  The first contact may be them sending a message or calling directly from Google Maps or the Google Local Pack.

2. Sales

The right SEO service will also boost your company sales. Wondering how? Well, imagine if more customers found your site, don’t you think that would lead to more sales? Of course, it would! Position your company in front of your potential clients and see for yourself. If more people view your site, it will translate into more sales. With the entire world connected through the internet, it makes it extremely imperative to be found online.

What’s even more valuable for businesses is that 18 percent of local searches lead to purchases within a day – more than double the rate of non-local searches (7 percent). This means that for every five times your web content shows up in a local search result, one person will likely make a purchase. 

Update: Your website should not be treated as an online brochure but let’s be realistic.  Today’s consumers and business operators are very savvy.  Chances are if they are contacting you they’ve already been to your website and have done the research.  This is the premise of inbound marketing.  A lot of the selling has already been done thus increasing your closing rate.  At this point in the buyer’s journey if the sale is lost it is likely due to the sales process, or the salesperson.

3. Traffic

With search engine optimization, your site will receive augmented traffic, which will be highly targeted based on relative search phrases and keywords. While creating an SEO strategy, we search and identify phrases and keywords that are highly searched terms related to your company and location. Wouldn’t it be great to have your site at the top of the search engines? Potential clients usually believe that the top results are the best results. This, in turn, will drive huge traffic which can later be converted into profits.

A client who is ready to purchase the products or services that you offer, who wouldn’t want that?

Update: Make sure the content that sits at the top of the Google Search results is relevant to the search query you intend it to be for.  Irrelevant content won’t last long at the top.  Your competition has hired me, or someone like me, to take that spot from you.  If the SEO that they hired is good at what they do then they’ve already done their research on you and devised an SEO plan to take that top spot from you.  That plan might include better content with more information.  Part of branding is setting yourself up as the expert.  If someone makes it look like you’re not the expert then your traffic will drop.

Also contributing to traffic decreases (and I have seen this numerous times) is a website that suddenly stops producing content.  I see this professionally from businesses who are not in it for the long game.  They want the quick sale for a few dollars of profit but are not considering tomorrow, next week or 5 years from now.  When they’re not seeing the bank account increase as fast as they had hoped (even though they were advised in clear terms what the expectations should be) they give up on the plan.  6 months to a year later their website traffic is non-existent.

4. Cost-Effective

Think about the thousands of dollars your business spends on other forms of sales promotion and advertisements.  For instance, print media is very expensive and does not provide great returns in most cases because you target the masses when using this form of advertising/marketing. The masses are not ready to buy from you. Most of them have not even considered your service or product. Instead, you should consider investing your print media budget into a digital campaign using highly targeted local SEO and marketing.

A recent campaign managed by my company averaged just under $20 per referral for a service that cost $197.  Taking one week of the campaign; the highly targeted ad spend and associated fees was a little over $600. The client sold 33 units at $197 each. This resulted in a net profit of about $5900. Not bad for one week, right?

That businesses competition was using billboards on a major highway in New Haven County, Connecticut.  I don’t know what the ROI was for the billboard but I can promise the investment was more than $600 and can almost guarantee that the ROI was not as good as the Google Ad campaign I ran for my client.

Update: Organic SEO and Local SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t plan to fund your retirement in 5 weeks and you shouldn’t expect to be rolling in money within 5 weeks of executing an SEO plan.  SEO takes time and has to be analyzed and adjusted constantly.  The long-term ROI of a well-executed SEO strategy cannot be beaten by any other form of marketing or advertising.  Combined with Social Media Marketing and Digital Advertising you can consume the bulk of your industry’s Local SEO and drive revenue while your competition continues to advertise in the local print newspaper that no one reads anymore.

5. Competitiveness

With a well thought out and executed local SEO plan, your business can easily outrank a competitor, thereby acquiring the online market share locally for your industry. Your companies online presence and the overall image it portrays online are extremely crucial. This is the first thing every potential customer will notice. Times are changing and if your business does not dominate online, then it is not taking full advantage of the opportunities that are available. Time is of the essence. If you want to win the local marketing war then get started on your local SEO now!

Update: One key component to dominating your local SEO is your Online Reputation.  Online Reputation Manage (ORM) includes reviews and review responses.  Responding to ALL reviews is one of your most important jobs with regards to Local SEO and ORM. 

I worked with two businesses who went against my advice regarding responding to negative reviews.  Both decided instead of responding to the reviews, trying to put a positive spin on a negative review, they would just delete the reviews.  I am not going to say that one ignored negative review caused this but the mindset behind it probably caused both businesses to eventually close, one of them was in operation for 35 years.

People want to know that you address concerns as well as you address adoration.  Don’t ignore the former to look like a local hero.

6. Return On Investment

Return On Investment on ChalkboardEvery business wants to know what their ROI is going to be. A professional SEO plan that utilizes all aspects of Search Engine Optimization and Marketing will provide your business with an excellent long-term return on investment. Radio and TV advertisement is extremely costly and there is no guarantee that the audiences are even remotely interested in your service or product. With Local SEO, the potential customers are landing on your website page after searching for related and relevant search terms and keywords related to your business. What do you think would achieve better results for your business? 2000 random people viewing your advertisement on TV or 2000 people visiting your site because they are interested and actively searching for your service or product? This is what makes Google Search Marketing so imperative. With SEO as a Solution, you can help grow your business consistently, increase revenue and profit over the course of the plan, and increase the longevity of your business.

I want to take a moment to point out that you should consider hiring a professional, experienced SEO.  I am not saying this just so you will hire me.  I am saying this because the SEO Industry changes very rapidly and it’s important that your SEO evolve with the changes.  The Google Search Algorithm averages 2 updates per day. What worked yesterday might be frowned upon by Google today.  You can do your business a huge disservice by cutting corners on SEO.

That being said, I hope you find this and all information on this site helpful.  As a thank you for checking out this blog post click here to get your Free Local SEO Audit.

 

Episode 16 | Local SEO Domination – Crush Your Local Competition

the SEO Tear Down with Scott GombarEpisode 16 | Local SEO Domination – Crush Your Local Competition

There’s a little thing called Google Maps. You see it when you search for businesses. It falls between the ads and the organic results. How can you dominate this listing and other spots on Google, as well as Bing?

Set up your local listing on Google by going to google.com/mybusiness and on bing by going to bing.com/places.

We also talked about setting up a Facebook Page, LinkedIn Company Page, Yelp and other local directories like YP and Mapquest.

We also analyzed another website today. The SEO was already done for the site by another SEO provider. They did not do the job. Watch and Learn

Episode 15 Podcasting for SEO Dominance

the SEO Tear Down with Scott GombarEpisode 15 Podcasting for SEO Dominance

In previous episodes I talked about ways of getting backlinks. One of those ways is appearing on podcasts as a guest.

We have also talked about developing content in the past. Creating your own podcast and adding it to your website is a great way to add content to your site.

I talk about both of these on this episode of The SEO Tear Down.

Learn a tactic that will develop your personal brand while improving your SEO efforts.  Become the recognized expert in your industry and drive more traffic to your site and more revenue to your business.  It’s a win/win.Learn a tactic that will develop your personal brand while improving your SEO efforts.

Episode 14 | Dominate the First Page of Google

Episode 14 | Dominate the First Page of GoogleSEO Tear Down

This week I talked about dominating the first page of Google.  Have you ever googled something and discovered a number of listings back to the same site?  That’s Google dominance but how does a website owner dominate Google?

There are 3 areas of opportunity when it comes to the first page of Google.  At the very top is Google AdWords.  There are 4 spots there.  Capture one of those spots through advertising and you are on your way.  You have to create relevant, high quality ads to make this happen.

Second is Google Maps.  Set up your business on Google.com/mybusiness (I talked about this in a previous episode) and get reviews.  Show up in the 3 pack and you have accomplished step 2 of Google Dominance.

Finally you have the organic results.  The difference for organic results is you have an opportunity to rank more than once in the top 10.  I used my own results to make a case.  My website is first followed by LinkedIn, Facebook, Reciproty, Business 2 Community, Slideshare and other sites.  That means not only does my website rank on the first page but my social profiles do as well.  You can also have multiple pages on your site show up on the first page.

That’s Google Dominance!

We also analyzed a website for it’s SEO. This was our first episode using Twitter Live along with Huzza and Facebook Live.  Someone on Twitter asked that we analyze a chiropractic site live and of course I obliged.  Have a listen to see what opportunities exist for the site.

Episode 12 | Optimize Your Business for the Google 3 Pack

SEO Tear DownEpisode 12 | Optimize Your Business for the Google 3 Pack

How do you get your business in the Google 3 Pack, also known as Google Maps?  When you do manage to get your business listed how do you dominate the Google 3 Pack section of the Google Search Engine Results Page?

This week I talked about that very topic.  Adding real estate to the Google SERP by dominating the Google 3 Pack helps you dominate Google.  Here’s what you need to know to succeed on the Google 3 Pack.

First, the Google 3 Pack is managed by going to google.com/mybusiness.

Once you’ve created an account here are the items to ensure your success on Google Maps:

  • Thorough & Detailed Description including relevant long tail keywords
  • Profile Image, Logo and Cover Photo
  • Website URL
  • Phone Number
  • Email
  • Address
  • Hours of Operation
  • Have Clients Review Your Business
  • Connect to YouTube and Upload Videos

Ep 11 | YouTube Optimization for SEO

SEO is for the peopleEp 11 | YouTube Optimization for SEO

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last few years you know that video has become a huge part of marketing and the internet in general.  Business owners are encouraged to create videos and upload them to YouTube as a means of marketing their businesses.  And so they do.  They have no idea what to do from there.

The most popular search engine for millennials, and the second most popular overall, is YouTube.  YouTube used correctly is a very powerful tool in your SEO strategy but how do you optimize your video for SEO?

That was the topic this week.  We quickly discussed some optimization opportunities for YouTube.

Your Channel

  • Get a custom URL
  • Add Cover Photo
  • Add link back to your website and social profiles
  • Add a thorough about section (did not discuss in video)

Your Videos

  • Include a descriptive title with a long tail keyword as the focus
  • Include a thorough description using long tail keyword variations in the description, and a link to your website
  • Include relevant tags.  Think of these as meta keywords for YouTube

Your Website

  • Embed the video on your website (blog post or page)
  • Include a description or transcription of the video
  • Optimize the post/page for On-Page SEO just like any other web page

There is certainly more you can do.  For example sharing the video is an important part of your SEO strategy.  Start with these steps and we will revisit at a later date.