Posted on December 3, 2013 in Uncategorized by cmblogger
It’s not rocket science to understand why most shoppers prefer to purchase goods and
services locally. But many digital marketing campaigns don’t seem to consider this reality
when crafting an effective SEO strategy. Nevertheless, optimizing for local search-and multiple
locations, if you have more than one store-is critical to any digital marketing plan. Without it,
you’re going to lose the many customers who search for a nearby brick and mortar on the SERPs.
To take advantage of this marketing opportunity, first identify which locations are most
important to your business. Pick the top areas, and make sure you have local business listings
with all their relevant location data (address, hours, sales promotions, etc) on Google+ Local,
the Bing Business Portal, and Yahoo Local. Along with having local keywords, the more
specific, real information you include in these entries the better you’ll do with the search
engines as they match user queries with the appropriate results.
Make sure your social media presence also references these locations, as well as external
review sites like Yelp and CitySearch. Remember, as consultants at BIA Kelsey recently noted
in a widely referenced study, more than 97% of all consumers use online media to find the
brick and mortar locations where they’ll be shopping. As Steve Marshall, research director of
BIA Kelsey explains, “The Internet has indeed become an integral part of consumers’ local
commercial activity.” Today, your multi location search performance matters. Take steps to
ensure its success.
Up until the not so distant past, any real search engine strategy was all about keywords. As
in, what are yours and how often are they appearing on your landing pages? Sprinkled like so
much pumpkin spice in everyone’s holiday snacks and beverages, a hefty dose was seen as
the quick fix by which we’d all rank well in the SERPs.
Those days are gone. Like the ubiquitous pumpkin spice, too much of a good thing only goes
so far, and in fact, is kind of gross when overused. While keywords will always be important,
the larger issue is content authority and relevance. Do you have meaningful copy that
addresses the needs and interests of your site visitors?
To rank well, your website should be written for the people searching for the topics in which
you specialize. Rather than just creating stilted prose designed for Google Search bots, make
your landing pages the best information out there to answer a particular query. At the risk of
sounding too hipsterish, be a thought leader in your field, not just a follower.
For today’s search, quality matters over quantity. Create real value for your potential
customers with a website that says something and adds to your field. Blog or post regular
updates that your users can read and share with others. For 2014, that’s good SEO, and the
holiday treat to last throughout the year.
We’ve all heard about the necessity of content marketing for great rankings. For many,
however, that simply means more paragraphs using as many keywords as possible in order
to rank. Given the new capabilities behind Google’s revamped search engine, however, this
approach is not quite enough to score with the SERPs.
Hummingbird, as the new algorithm is called, is extraordinary for its ability to distill the core
search query from a natural question. For example, where in years past you might have typed
in “chiropractor Las Vegas” to get search results, you can now simply ask, “Where is the best
chiropractor?” for pages of high quality answers.
Moreover, provided you’ve allowed Google to know where you are, Google will also give you
location-centric results for any query. It’s all about improving convenience and quality, which
also means the search engine will now prioritize those websites with strong mobile friendly
content as well.
Successful SEO now means regular publishing of high quality content, along with making sure
your site is mobile friendly across a variety of browsers. Keywords, while important, are no
longer the main priority they once were. To rank with Hummingbird, you’ll need to fly as well.
When people talk about the importance of SEO, its biggest advantage often goes without
saying: trust. According to a recent international marketing study, 91% of consumers prefer
the results of a natural search [i.e. organic] to paid ads or other forms of digital advertising.
Obviously, to continue with an effective SEO strategy makes sense. But things have changed
significantly for the search engine’s algorithm over recent years, and with this shift come new
ways of doing things in order to rank.
For example, consider keywords. It used to be that any copy that featured as many keywords
as your writer could cram into a sentence usually passed as adequate. But don’t fool yourself.
This is no longer the case. Today, focus on content that instead addresses the needs of the
customer in a meaningful way. That’s what will score with the search engines, rather than
artificial prose aimed only at the search bots. Every landing page must have useful information
that not only sounds good but resonates with your customers as well. The more your readers
share, comment and repost, the better for your website and your brand in this brave new
world of SEO.
Will things change again? Inevitably so. But some things remain the same. In 2014, whatever
your industry, your consumers will trust the SERPs over anything else to find your products and
With so many variables to the website design process, it’s easy to forget the SEO impact of
individual landing pages. However, if you’re interested in maximizing conversion and social
shares along with your organic rankings, it’s important to look at everything through the SEO
lens once in awhile.
Which keywords are linked to which of your landing pages? Are the right landing pages coming
up on the SERPs for the keywords that best match with their content? Example: if you’re
selling lug nuts on your products page, the phrase “lug nuts” on the SERPs should be linked to
that page on your website. Don’t make it difficult for your customers in search of a particular
keyword to have to navigate through your site in order to find it.
Metrics like traffic, bounce rate, average time spent on the page and the % of visitors who
exit should be numbers you’re not only aware of, but that inform what’s working and what’s
not for your website. High bounce rates may signify your content isn’t communicating your
message successfully, or that consumers are looking for something other than what’s on the
landing page to which they’ve been linked. Average times spent on the page should be directly
related to the amount there is “to do” there, too.
Finally, consider your customer. Optimize each landing page for the type of customer who’s
likely to frequent it. Keep your message clear, concise and focused on how your value
proposition relates to consumer benefits.
In light of how much has changed for search engine optimization in recent months, these may
be factors you hadn’t considered important. Nevertheless, great landing pages are now critical
for strong rankings. Optimize each accordingly.
Launched in June, Google’s new Carousel features a row of black framed images across the top of the SERPs for certain kinds of queries. With up to 20 results, they’re mostly found for travel, dining and entertainment related searches. As you’ve probably already noticed, each Carousel slide displays an image coupled with relevant search information, which if you click on it reveals an address, phone number and most prominently, recent consumer reviews.
If you’re a local business hoping for greater visibility on the SERPs, this is going to be an important new feature to factor into any digital marketing strategy. While no one is exactly sure how big the Carousel is likely to become for Google, everyone can benefit from the steps necessary to optimize for it.
If you haven’t already, create a page for both Google Places for Business and Google+. Upload attractive, high resolution images for both, and order them in terms of importance. Finally, make sure your customers are reviewing you on the search engine. According to a recent study, high online review scores translate into better placement on the Carousel. For hotels alone, “earned media” (i.e. positive reviews on Google) are already an important factor in first page Google rankings.
For 2014, it’s another tool in your SEO kit bag that may prove enormously helpful. In time, Google is expected to utilize these types of images for even more categories, as Carousel is now also appearing for some sports and education results pages too.
We’ve talked about the importance of good keywords for strong organic rankings and brand messaging, and yet, they’re not the end of the story when it comes to today’s SEO. With Google’s increasing sophistication, in fact, search queries will no longer be limited to the often awkward, always highly structured keyword phrases of the past. With the emergence of author rank and topical authority as important factors for the SERPs, any digital marketing campaign should focus on developing quality content, along with the right keywords, as the best way to achieve success.
Make your brand and your website the best place for information on a particular product, subject or service area. In doing so, think about what your target audience might be interested in-and go after those topics. Do you provide document shredding services? Consider a blog that addresses privacy concerns for 2014 as well as best practices to maintain a data-secure workplace. Sell bifocals? Focus your website content, social media campaigns and search campaigns on eye health, eyesight information and related safety issues.
Remember though, the answers aren’t in bombarding the customer (or Google) with endless pages of long winded, useless information that is difficult to even navigate. Make your website attractive, visually appealing and a fun place to be-and you’ll reap the benefits not just with the search engines but your customers as well. Going into 2014, “holistic” is a new catchphrase for SEO. Create something of value for your customers, and good rankings are sure to follow.
We all know that integrating your SEO and social campaigns can significantly improve organic rankings, but many businesses struggle with the mechanics of exactly how these social media platforms can be harnessed for best results. When it comes to Google’s Hummingbird algorithm, keep in mind the three important factors that will determine how you fare on the SERPS. According to most experts, it’s all about fresh content, popularity (how often your content is shared, for example), and your perceived trustworthiness.
This starts with your “authority” on the web. In Google terms, this refers to the relative importance of your website compared to others in your field. Google calculates authority in several ways, but social media is a critical part of this equation. First and foremost, the Google bot will assess your engagement levels. Who is liking your posts? How many shares or re-tweets do you get? Search engines prefer websites that have lots of consumer interactions to show for themselves. Social media is the way to demonstrate to Google that you have the clout with consumers that merits a first page ranking.
It can sound daunting, but the good news? A strong social media presence not only helps with your organic search rankings, but will build your brand along the way. Rather than simply marketing for a search engine robot as was necessary in years past, today’s effective SEO strategies work best when they reach real people: your customers.
Google just turned 15 last week, with 70% of the market share for search on desktops and a reputation as one of the world’s biggest brands. Founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two PhD students, their idea turned out to be a necessary component of any business marketing plan in 2013. Along with a party, Google also introduced a new search algorithm a few days ago to further refine their ability to answer user queries effectively. What do you need to know?
First, PageRank isn’t entirely dead-but now it is only one of about 200 factors the search engine considers before assigning a ranking. What else matters? As we’ve explained in other posts, Google now also notices things like plenty of good content, keywords, the frequency by which copy is updated, etc. as ways of deciding which results are most relevant to a particular query.
The term “conversational search” is going to be an important phrase for Google users in coming months with Hummingbird. It refers to the new emphasis Google is placing on the meaning behind search words, rather than just the way they are phrased. In the past, a user had to type in “cheese brands” to get a range of quality answers. With Hummingbird, a searcher can now even enter, “what are the best kinds of cheese?” into the search bar and get responses.
What this means for any business hoping for good SEO is again, the continued importance of quality content over simple keyword seeded copy. Web pages with lots of relevant, descriptive paragraphs will do far better with their rankings than sites who ignore the new algorithm. The best news about the new search? Stay engaging, and you’ll also stay well ahead of your competitors.
Many of us are still resisting using Google+ socially. Most people barely have time for Facebook, let alone another social media platform. And when it comes to business, who cares, anyway? Aren’t Facebook and Twitter enough?
Quite frankly, no. Think of it as a “quid pro quo” situation. Google wants people to use its proprietary social media platform, so the popular search engine will reward those websites who do with better rankings, even if none of your customers or associates use it. It’s that simple. As e-learning consultant Steve Rayson puts it, “Google Plus content stays around, gains page rank, gives page rank, and appears in search results over a long period. It appears Google Plus posts can retain ranking indefinitely with some posts over a year old still top of search result pages.”
Google+ posts also send valuable social signals to the indexing bots, another key element of today’s search engine optimization process. As you post images, blog links and text to your Google+ page, you’re letting the search engines know your relevance to the goods and services you sell. Testimonials and reviews posted on this social media platform will also help you gain traction.
Google+ is free, fast and easy, and it will help a lot. In the sometimes complicated world of digital marketing, there aren’t many strategies you can unequivocally describe in the same terms. Move ahead of your competitors and take advantage of Google+ benefits today. And who knows? Maybe you’ll find time to create your own personal Google+ page as well.