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?

 

 

 

 

Engagement for SEO

Want to Win the SEO Game? Improve Your Website Engagement

Engagement for SEOSummary of Want to Win the SEO Game?  

  1. What are top considerations for SEO focus according to SEOs and Marketers?
  2. Which of the top considerations for SEOs and Marketers are relevant to SEO in 2018?
  3. One tactic that will help you beat your competition with SEO.
  4. How is engagement measured by Google?
  5. How do you improve engagement for SEO?
  6. Other ways to improve engagement for Google.

I get asked by business owners all the time what they should be focusing on for SEO.  There are a lot of considerations to this answer and there’s no doubt you will get a lot of different answers.  Some of those answers will be completely wrong.  Others will be a part of what you should be focusing on for your SEO strategy but not the most important piece.  Here’s a list of the responses other business owners have been given:

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Some of these answers are great.  Some are important but not as important.  Some are completely wrong.  Here’s a quick explanation of each:

  • Link Building-this SEO strategy is still a very important component to SEO. It has also evolved from its earlier days.  It takes a lot more strategy, planning, execution and time to do it right. Link farms are gone, and black hat link building will likely cost you Google Rankings in a big way.
  • Web Page Title-Yes, this is important but probably not as important as engagement
  • Circle Link Building-this is a link building tactic that I would consider grey hat. I don’t think it impacts sites negative or positively.  Essentially a network of sites places a non-reciprocal link to another site.  The next site then links to another the same way.  This continues and forms a circle of links.  These links look spammy and while I cannot find proof that they will hurt I also see no evidence that they help.
  • PBN (Private Blog Networks)-Some SEO Solutions Providers swear by this type of link building. PBNs are groups of blogs and websites that have built some Google credibility (allegedly).  The sites then place links to other sites usually for a price.  Google has said PBNs are not allowed but as of this blog post there does not appear to be any penalties related to it.  This is not a practice my SEO agency uses as I do believe somewhere down the road Google will do what they did with Link Farms.  Site owners beware.
  • Blogging/Content-if you know me then you know blogging and content creation is a critical component of my SEO strategy for clients, and my business. Yes, make sure you are creating content.  End of story.
  • Videos-While Google cannot yet determine the content of a video there is related meta information that will help with Google crawling it. Video also greatly improves engagement.  If you read the title this blog post, then you know engagement is the focus here.  Think about it.  Google bought and owns YouTube, a video platform.  Don’t you think video will be an important part of SEO?
  • AdWords-AdWords is a very powerful digital advertising platform owned by Google. Some believe that using it contributes to your organic results.  This has yet to be proven and Google says it does not.
  • Google My Business-Yes, absolutely set this up. It is part of any successful Local SEO plan.  Not setting this up and maintaining is a huge mistake.  This adds your listing to Google Maps and the Google Local Pack.  Read my blog post 6 Ways to Optimize Your Google My Business Page for more information.
  • Yelp-Yelp is important to SEO in a roundabout way. It does add a link back to your site.  The link is a no-follow link so officially it won’t help your link building efforts, but Google does like to see some no-follow links.  Having a profile on Yelp should also increase traffic.  Who doesn’t want more traffic?
  • Social Media-Google’s official stance as of this blog post is that Social Media does not help with SEO rankings. Let’s think about it though.  This blog is about engagement.  Engagement happens on Social Media.  Social Media also drives traffic to websites.  Social sharing is a form of engagement.  Links to your website from social media help with link building, even if they are no-follow.  Plus, have you ever Googled a business and seen their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram pages in the results?
  • SSL-In July of 2018 Google Chrome will display a Not Secured message for ANY website that does not have an SSL certificate. Google Chrome is the most used browser today.  Seeing this message may send potential clients running.  SSL is a ranking factor but not as big as mobile or relevant content right now.

Improve Search Results by Improving Engagement

Want to Win SEO?  Engage!

After reviewing the above list, you should now know (if you didn’t already) that content is a game changer.  Whenever I onboard a new client I tell them they need an active blog.  Adding content to your site for the purpose of winning SEO is not enough.

Take some time and look at Google Analytics.  Look at some of the data Google analyzes.

  • Bounce Rate-How many users leave the website after visiting a single page versus visiting another page on the site measured in a percentage.
  • Duration Per Session-How long is the site visitor staying on the page
  • Pages per Session-How many pages are the visitors viewing during a session (visit to the site)

These three pieces of data are indicators of engagement. This means Google cares about engagement and uses it for analysis.

RankBrain is Google’s Machine Learning portion of their algorithm.  RankBrain attempts to determine a searchers intent when displaying search results in the Google Search Results Page.  RankBrain uses engagement to help it determine if a result is relevant to the searchers intent.  Google continues to utilize RankBrain more over time.

How is Engagement Measured by Google? How do I Improve My Engagement

Google measures engagement by factoring in the following:

  • Bounce Rate-Bounce Rates vary by industry but generally speaking a bounce rate of 60% or lower is considered good. There are a few things you can do to improve bounce rate.
    • Create relevant, timely and interesting content. I know it’s not easy for some industries, but it can be done.  Most people find SEO to be boring or confusing, but I do my best to simplify it for non-professionals.  The more information you can provide the better.  Relevant means make sure the title of your blog matches the content of it.  Use tools like Google Trends and Buzz Sumo to find ideas that are timely.
    • Keep pop-ups and distractions to a minimum. I never put more than one pop up on any page.  The more distractions there are the more likely they will leave the page.  Google is also strongly discouraging pop-ups that take over the page.
    • Add a video related to your content. You don’t need a full production.  A video recorded from your phone works fine in most cases.
    • Link to internal resources. This serves multiple purposes for SEO but for this article, it helps keep people on your site longer and increases pages per session.
  • Duration per Session-Google measures how long a visitor is on your page and site. The longer they’re on your site the better it looks for you.  This indicates to Google that the visitor finds your content to be relevant and of value.  The bullet points above will also contribute to a better duration per session.
  • Pages per Session-a lower bounce rate naturally correlates to a higher page(s) per session rate. You can increase this further by ensuring all of your content is well thought out and there are relevant internal links to other pages and/or blogs on your site.
  • Social Shares-Share your content and encourage others to share it. It’s OK.  Send it in an email, share it to all platforms that will help.  The more shares the better.   This will increase the visits to your site and indirectly tells Google that people are engaging with your content.
  • Comments-Comments can be the bane of any website owner’s existence but can also be of great value. Comments encourage spam but there are ways to counter the spam.  Legitimate comments are another indication that people find your content to be of value to them.  One important tip here.  Make sure you respond to ALL comments.  Just like reviews, it’s important to acknowledge the comments. This is often overlooked by site owners. Responding to all comments encourages even more engagement.
  • Natural Internal Links-linking to other relevant content on your site is a great way for your audience to get more information related to what they came to your site for in the first place. Google also sees internal links as a part of link building.  Internal links also make it easier for Google to crawl your site.

        More Ways to Increase Engagement on Your Website

  • Consistency-Adding a blog post once every 6 months is not consistent. You need to have a plan.  Have a content calendar prepared for each quarter.  Make sure that the calendar is fluid as topics may come up during the quarter.  For example, one of my clients is a roofing contractor.  If a hurricane is forecasted for Connecticut then a blog post about preparing your home for a hurricane becomes relevant and can address people’s concerns.
  • Avoid Tech Talk/Jargon-don’t tech talk people to death. Talk to your audience as if they know nothing about what you do.  Some of them may know and that’s great but chances are if they are on your site they are looking for some information.
  • Answer Questions-Answering Questions is a great way to drive engagement. If you know of direct questions that need answers, then provide the answers in a blog or FAQ.  Use bullet points to highlight answers.  This may even get your blog post into the knowledge graph on Google.

Google wants to serve up the best responses possible to a searchers inquiry.  Using the steps above will help your site visitors to engage more.  More engagement means that Google will recognize your content as being the most relevant answer to searchers inquiries.  Your search rankings will improve.  Higher search rankings mean more people see your site.  I think you can see where this is going.

I hope you find this helpful.  If you know of a way that improves engagement on your site please share.  We love comments (See what I did there?)

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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.

 

Cold Calling SEO Scams

What is SEO and How Can You Dominate SEO in 2017?

What is SEO and How Can You Dominate SEO in 2017?

what is seoOne of the questions I am asked most often when I tell people what I do is what is SEO?  I get asked this question so often that I have found myself just defining it as part of my answer, something like I optimize websites to increase traffic and revenue for businesses.  I decided it was time to explain exactly what SEO is and what you need to know about SEO in 2017.

What is SEO?

The Definition of SEO

SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization.  The short definition of SEO is the optimization of a website or landing page to make it easier for people searching the internet to find it.  SEO is not a new tactic or technique.  In fact, it’s been around for well over a decade.  If you’ve been in marketing at all then you have likely heard of SEO (shockingly I have spoken to marketers who have no idea what SEO is).  SEO is an art and a science.

SEO is an organic process.  That means if you are handling your own SEO you are not paying to rank your website on any of the search engines.  You are doing this without advertising and paying to improve ranking.

SEO requires a lot of knowledge on how the major search engines work and the changes they make to their algorithms.  Not keeping up with changes can be detrimental to your SEO plan, and ultimately your business.  This is why SEO experts like me are able to charge for this service.

You can fix your own leaky faucet and you might get it right but you might also miss something and create a bigger problem later.  You might also break something else in the process and create an enormous problem.  SEO works the same way.  Doing SEO wrong can set you back; in some cases years.

With the above definition, I will tell you that SEO has evolved dramatically, and continues to evolve daily (literally).  One of the main reasons that SEO has evolved so dramatically is the evolution of how people search.  We don’t search the internet the same way we did even a year ago.  Let me give you a few examples of what I mean:

  • Today if we’re looking for a product we’re more likely to take to Amazon or eBay than we are Google
  • With the influx of voice recognition software and hardware (Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and Google) it’s not uncommon to pick up a phone and use the voice search or to use a standalone Bluetooth speaker with voice recognition to get an answer
  • People routinely use YouTube (the second most popular search engine in the world) to research how to do something or get a product review. People would rather watch a video than reading.  They also want to be educated on a product or service before making a purchase
  • Often someone using Google to search will revise their search 3-5 times to find what they’re looking for. This has led to the development of machine learning (AI) to determine a searcher’s intent rather than what they type in (or speak).  Google’s AI is called Rankbrain.

How Do I Dominate My Own SEO?

diy seo memeFirst, let me start by saying you need to know a few things to get started.  If you are going down the DIY SEO road then you are likely using a CMS like WordPress, or a website builder like Wix.  If you choose WordPress I would highly recommend installing the Yoast SEO plugin to help you manage SEO.  The website builders have some SEO components built into them but they can be limiting.

You can download my free On-Page SEO checklist to help you with the first part of SEO.  Review this document and implement all the action steps listed and you will be off to a great start.

Ultimately the way to dominate SEO is by thinking of your audience first, not Google or Bing.  Develop and write content for your audience.  If you sell cars then explain the advantages of a certain car in terms your audience will understand.  If you are a painter then develop content around deciding what type of paint you should use or what colors work best in different scenarios.

If you’re an SEO expert then develop content that helps business owners understand why SEO is so critical to a business’ success and how to determine if the SEO is done properly on their site.

Content comes in many forms.  Develop content in video, photos, infographics, written, and audio.  This ensures you are appealing to different types of leaning.  By doing this you will likely increase engagement which has become an important part of what Google looks at in determining ranking factors in 2017.

Content that your audience wants is one of the most critical pieces of any successful SEO plan.  Once the content is developed you can worry about the other more technical items and SEO tricks & hacks.

Here are some SEO hacks & tricks that have worked well for me recently:

  • Repurposing & remarketing content. Take an older blog post, update it and share it across social media
  • Sharing a blog post that Google has indexed on your site to other blogging platforms
  • When developing content include different forms of content (video, audio, images). Video especially will increase engagement
  • Share, Share, Share. There are tons of ways to share your content.  Do it.
  • Include Power Words in Your Title and Content
  • Don’t develop content around a singular keyword phrase. Use variations
  • Use Google Search Console to determine keyword analytics and build on positive results

one does not simply type in one search queryThat should be enough to get you started.  Things are changing in 2017.  If your SEO is not changing with it then you will suffer.  Some things to look out for in 2017 in my educated opinion:

  • Google will continue to put more weight into engagement analytics like bounce rate, time on page, and shares.
  • Google will penalize “fake” traffic. This means if you are somehow manipulating clicks to your site you will be penalized.  One of the more common methods of doing this is to encourage people to search for something and click on your site.
  • Businesses will place more value on SEO, and good SEOs will become harder to find. Larger businesses will in-house SEO.
  • Video will continue to drive SEO results and become more important to your SEO success.

I have a few more theories but we will hold on to those for a later blog post.

The question is What is SEO.  We reviewed what SEO is and how to dominate it in 2017.  The truth is SEO takes a lot of time, testing, effort, monitoring and work, and some luck.  If you are not prepared for the long-term commitment it’s best to leave it to an SEO expert.  In short, SEO is HARD WORK.

Feel free to join me on SEO Hackerz (formerly the SEO Tear Down).  I broadcast live once a week and upload every episode to YouTube, Facebook, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and my site.  Lots of SEO information and tactics to be had on this podcast, and I keep them 15-20 minutes.  See you there.

SEO is for the people

 

 

 

 

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 13 | Link Building Secrets for SEO Domination

SEO Tear DownEpisode 13 | Link Building Secrets for SEO Domination

Link Building is one of the most challenging aspects of SEO. Many business owners are discouraged from doing it and many SEOs avoid it or take the cheap way out.

I talk about Link Building and some organic ways to get high-quality links back to your site, some of them are not so hard.

We talked about the following for link building and SEO:

  • Adding a link to ted.com (Ted Talks)
  • Adding profiles to blogging sites like Medium & Blogger.
    • We also talked about a strategy of sharing your original blog content mentioned in an earlier episode.
  • Adding profiles to industry related sites
  • Creating social media profiles
  • Guest blogging
  • Commenting on relevant, high-quality sites
  • Brief discussion of Penguin 4.0

Have a listen and if you want to feature your website on the next episode of the SEO Tear down sign up today.

 

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.

Episode 10 Two SEO Hacks You Can Crush Your Competition With

the SEO Tear Down with Scott GombarEpisode 10 Two SEO Hacks You Can Crush Your Competition With

I wrote a blog post about an SEO hack that you can use (ethically) to increase traffic by 95% (or in some cases 200-300%).  I discovered some other hidden benefits to this SEO hack so that was the focus of this weeks episode.  Then I remembered that I wanted to talk about another SEO hack that I have used successfully several times now.

The first SEO hack involved repurposing existing website blog.  Read the blog post here to learn more about what I did and what the results were.

The second SEO hack involved your domain purchase and keyword strategy.  Basically if you research your long tail keywords before domain purchase you can get a domain with exact match keywords.  I have successfully ranked #1 within a few days on all major search engines.  I launched a new site 6 days ago with the same strategy and so far I am number 15 on Google, and number 1 on Yahoo and Bing.

I also talked about Google separating their index into 2 indexes.  One for mobile and one for desktop.  What will that mean to your business and website.

Can I build SEO friendly websites on Wix?  You can but you don’t get access to everything you need to win the SEO battle.