Search Engine Optimization for Local Businesses

Ideas

Landing pages – design or technical skills?

Posted by on 4:10 pm in Long Haul SEO | 0 comments

 

Its fun putting a web designer and an SEO expert in a room together and watch them argue about landing pages.

Web designers are all about the look and user experience for landing pages , while they argue that SEO is a series of Chris Angel type tricks and focuses strictly on numbers. SEO guys feel that landing page designers are all dope-smoking hippies that just want landing pages to look pretty. Many believe the two ideas can’t work together to create a great looking, great performing landing page, but that is simply not true.

Both SEO and design are important elements for every landing page and should be embraced by marketers to create a successful landing page or website. Every landing page needs gripping headlines, copy, and images to grab prospects attention, but if you haven’t done a great job optimized the copy, page title, and headlines to get users to your site, your design for nothing. Likewise, if your site is all optimized but you don’t have quality content and great design then users won’t stick around to check your message.

Clients deserve a compelling experience without cramming pages full of keywords or making things one big image that's supposed to wow people into action. Make the two work together by choosing quality over quantity.

When you hire someone to build landing pages, make sure that they ask questions about BOTH your business goals AND about your brand to determine imagery and also SEO elements.

 

Why Guest Blogging is SEO Gold

Posted by on 11:22 pm in Long Haul SEO, Stuff You Should Know | 0 comments

Guest Blogging For SEO Defined

Have you have visited blogs before and maybe noticed when an article has been posted by a "guest blogger," instead of by the main person who usually runs the site?  If a site allows guest bloggers, what’s it mean to you in the world of SEO, local search or building your brand?

The SEO Value is one aspect of guest blogging, but getting your name out there as an “expert in your field” will help you build your actual brand. For instance, if someone is checking your wedding planning service out online after you gave them a proposal for a wedding for 400 , wouldn't it be great to have a bunch of “expert” articles, all written by your company on multiple industry-related blogs showing up? (P.S… You do actually know that 74% of all potential customers check out service companies online by typing in their names before giving them any money -  just something to keep in mind).

 

How to post as a guest blog on others' sites:

The SEO benefits you get from posting a guest blog on others' sites will help you in lots of different ways. Not only do you get back links to your own site (which, again, boosts your search engine rankings), but you will also be able to reach potential new clients. Let’s face it, it is unlikely that the few regular readers on your website and the regular readers on the website where you are guest blogging overlap completely - which means there will be plenty of readers on the new site who would never have heard of you, and would never have visited your blog, if you hadn't done your awesome new guest post!

When you start creating guest blogs on others' sites, and you do it regularly, bloggers might actually start to reach out to you for expert articles (that of course have a link to your site)!

Sometimes, even if a site does not have a specific "Guest blogger" policy and you really want to be on the site, start following the blog and making good comments.  Eventually they may reach out to you to get more involved.

There are even sites you can sign up for that allow you to put your expertise down and be a resource for journalists to interview or use for quotes.  Blogs often go to these services to save themselves some time when they are putting an article together.

 

Why SEO is Like Weight Loss

Posted by on 8:21 am in Long Haul SEO, Stuff You Should Know | 0 comments

Jenny Craig sales are sliding downward 4% this year, Weight Watchers has bonked in the first half of the year,  and sales at  Nutrisystem, dropped a sucking 20 percent.  They blame people trying to do it themselves.  With free apps and the internet, why not try right?

Small business owners see this too all the time.  People try to get rid of those bugs before calling an exterminator.  Customers try and take their own pictures for family portraits.  We see it all the time at the ad agency level.  businesses try and do it cheap and with minimal effort first. ... then often, they call the experts.

... and... we actually advocate this approach first believe it or not!  Why?

Well, like weight loss, some of the best customers we (or any small business) have only get the value of a structured, smart and proven approach. after trying and it not working so hot.  The CEO of NutriSystem, said their typical customer is someone who has "tried other approaches and has decided they need something more structured."

Sometimes paying someone else to help you makes sense, especially if it works better.  $2.99 for an app that you didn't lose weight from is still a worse value than something for $20 that works.

It's all about value.  If you spend your hard-earned bucks, you should always get more perceived value from what you spend.

 

5 Ways Clients Screw Up Their Own SEO

Posted by on 10:17 pm in Long Haul SEO, Stuff You Should Know | 0 comments

One the biggest issues in getting a website to rank well and make money for a client, can be the client themselves. Yes, I said it.  I know the client is always right… unless they are hurting themselves.  It’s hard to watch a well-meaning client get in their own way and not know it. I want to help them understand what they should do (and not do) to make sure that they get the most out of their money if they hire a seo firm, whether in Tampa for local seo or not.

Choosing the right keywords

One of the most basic mistakes that I see clients make when working with an seo company, or even  doing their own search engine optimization, is selecting  the wrong keywords. It is easy to become mesmerized  by massive projected traffic numbers in Google instead of focusing on the real number that matters to a business – sales.

I have seen this happen constantly, and it never gets any easier to watch. Let me set this up for you. Here is a “pretend” conversation after the SEO company has done initial keyword research and recommended the appropriate keywords to the client:

Client: “I want to target keywords A, B & C.”
SEO Company: “While the research does show that those will bring traffic, we don’t feel those are the right keywords to target for sales for your specific business category.”
Client: “I know my industry better than you ever will and those are the keywords I need to show up for, because my competitor is using those.”
SEO Company: “Okay.”

…After months of work that has resulted in top rankings for the client’s selected keywords:

Client: “I’m not seeing a good enough return on my investment with you to justify continuing with you guys. My sales never increased considerably and it’s not enough to cover my monthly spending with you, let alone make money. You have been working on this for several months now and I don’t get how search engine optimization has helped me at all.”
SEO Company: “Well, we moved your site to the top rankings for the keywords you asked for and your traffic has increased, but maybe we should look at now optimizing for the other keywords that we initially recommended to drive sales three months ago.”
Client: “No, I’m sure that won’t help, I know my business.”

The mistake clients make with keywords is demanding that the SEO marketing company target their efforts on keywords that will not translate into sales. A better strategy is to start with keywords that will have a much higher conversion rate and almost always be easier to rank for. You are much more likely to see a positive ROI by using this strategy.


Not making the Recommended Changes To Their Website

There will always need to be changes made to a site for search engine optimization purposes. Nobody has yet to design the “perfect site”.  One of the ways that a client gets in their own way is in their refusal or slow implementation of those changes. It is important that once some recommendations have been made, the changes are made as soon as possible. The longer it takes to make the changes the slower the rankings will come and the longer it will be to see a return on the investment.  We often hear clients that complain that change is not happening fast enough in rankings but have not made the changes to the site they need to drive these.

Not Adding Content

To get rankings for certain keywords it is necessary to have content that centers around the keywords that you are trying to rank for. Often there will be recommendations to add or alter content to the site. If content is recommended as part of an SEO campaign, it is important to add it. if some alterations are recommended, then make those. If clients are concerned with the recommendation, they should discuss it and come to some compromise that will work for them and the SEO firm, but don’t just “not do them”.

Bad Communication

Talk, talk, talk! One of the most frustrating things for an Internet marketing company is to have a client’s campaign slowed or stopped due to a lack of response from a client. If a client is not answering emails and phone calls, then the SEO Firm is likely at a standstill on their SEO campaign.

On the other hand, some clients are a little over-anxious to communicate. As a client, you should feel comfortable to call or email them whenever you need to. However, a daily phone call to discuss rankings for the day over a three to six month SEO campaign is not called for in any case.  Clients should expect regular, and pre-defined updates that they are comfortable with.

Micromanaging

It is important to understand and be comfortable with the strategy that a SEO company is using, but if clients must approve every little move, then they retard progress. Just as clients are an expert in whatever profession they pursue, remember that SEO firms are the experts in theirs and they have done this more than once.

By micromanaging clients cause delays because of waiting for approvals. Clients have a business to run, and they should go do that. Clients should use due diligence before hiring any Internet marketing company and then trust that the company they have hired knows what they are doing and can get the results that were paid for. Clients should discuss with them what kinds of things they want to approve and then let the SEO firm do their job.

 

Hopefully, this gives some SEO food for thought. Good luck in your national and local SEO ranking pursuits!

 

Local Restaurant SEO Fail

Posted by on 5:11 pm in SEO Fail, Stuff You Should Know | 0 comments

OK, so you have a restaurant…

In our industry, there are some truths to restaurant local search marketing:

  1. Restaurants are among the most searched for local businesses on the Web.
  2. Restaurants consistently have Web sites that are both invisible to local search engines and are worthless for potential customers at the same time.

Do you see how those two things don’t go well together? Well, unfortunately most restaurants don’t and consistently have a common thread:

They’re painful to even look at.

They turn off users, are invisible to the local search engines, and the experience they create makes me want to skip a meal.

If you’re a restaurant owner in the year 2011, help customers and the search engines by following a few local search engine optimization basics for restaurants. Yes, I know your life is about making delicious meals, but that awesome food is going to sit if no one can find it.

 

Below are some simple search engine optimization concepts your restaurant Web site should follow:

 

Lose the Flash.

First, don’t set anything on auto-play.  It is 2011 and local search users now control their destinies and also don’t find clicking on a button that hard. We are also likely going to click off your site immediately when the loud music starts playing on our computer at work.

Don’t let a web designer talk you into doing something that will only help their portfolio. Everything is moving, everything does something, and users aren’t quite sure what to do. Worse yet, because this designer went for flashy magic instead of readable HTML, all the search engines get is an empty page and doesn’t show up on those iPhones carried by hungry people with money. Sure, cool is nice, but not when it sacrifices the entire experience and your ability to be found by hungry searchers. Café Whatever’s site may win a local restaurant web site award,  but we’d settle for them just making it easy.

Provide Location Info/ Map To Your Business

Want customers to be able to find you? You want to give the search engines clear signals as to where you’re located and what neighborhoods you’re associated with? Excellent.  Then stop hiding and put a local map and location information right there on your Web site. By giving users and Google Places a very specific location, including cross streets and “near” areas, everyone can figure out where you are. You can even link a local Google Places map right to your site.  This helps people not have to cut and paste anything.

Just make sure your business address, phone number, hours and a map to your storefront are all located on your Web site for customer use.

Use Searchable Menus

Look, I want breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I don’t want to download a 2mb pdf menu on my work computer and get yelled at by the IT guy.  Also, local search engines can’t see them.

As a restaurant, your menu information should be easily readable to local search users and search engine spiders. It should NOT be a picture of the menu you give to hungry people when they walk through the door.  It should be actual text that both users and the engines can see.

Also, you can submit your restaurant menu to a service like Dotmenu, which feeds into Google and other services.

Include Images…and Optimize Them

Don’t just start snapping with your smartphone.  Get some decent images. Give a real photographer or a local college photo student a couple of free meals and some booze to come in and take photos of your storefront, your employees, nice looking dishes you serve, your patio overlooking something nice, your bar with 50 different local beers on tap, etc. This is the kind of content users want to see when they’re deciding where they want to go grab a meal with their friends or especially try somewhere new. Once you have the pictures, do yourself a favor and optimize them for local search so that it shows up in Image search and universal search.

Offer Intelligent Social Media Information

If you’re a local Donut maker on Facebook and you’re tweeting the moment the hot glazed donuts come out of the oven – make sure your Twitter information is front and center on your Web site because I want to know that as a donut lover. If you’re a coffee shop and you’re using Facebook to promote events, make sure I can find that information and it is actually up to date. There is no better deal killer than if you have 2 month old information on your site as the freshest thing you offer.  If you have a strong presence on Yelp, let me know. These are the signals users look for when they’re evaluating a restaurant online. Give us the content we want and we are more comfortable walking through your door to buy your $5 cupcake. Trust us. Get out there and create new conversation hubs, just tie them into your core experience.

As a local restaurant, whether local or franchise, you know people are searching for stuff to eat. So why hide?

 

 

SEO Image Optimization

Posted by on 9:50 pm in Stuff You Should Know | 0 comments

Pro search engine optimizers give much greater attention to image search visibility today. Image search optimization is especially interesting to website owners or publishers with a particularly visual product (for example, art galleries, clothes designers, or furniture manufacturers). Everyone knows a picture is worth a thousand words.

There are a number of factors that influence image positioning. Print out the below check list and be sure you’ve done all you can to have your images well optimized.

  • Your image should be an inherent part of a page and share the same theme. I.e. the page’s title, headings, body text must tell visitors the same story that the image tells.
  • Create an Images folder on your server to save all your pictures there. Make sure search engine crawlers are allowed to index it.
  • Use descriptive keywords in your image files’ names. Separate words in the file names with a hyphen, not an underscore.
  • Provide a small description of an image in the alt attribute of the img tag, but do not fill the alt attribute with tons of keywords, even if they are relevant.
  • Think of also using a short image title with keywords in them.
  • Place the keyword-rich text in the body around the image that describes it.
  • If the image constitutes a link, its anchor text is quite powerful in terms of optimization for high image-search rankings.
  • On the other hand, if you have other pages of your site linking to the page with important images, create keyword-rich link anchor texts to such pages with images.
  • Use high resolution images, if available. Provide different resolutions of images.
  • Avoid putting a 'click to see larger image' link inside of a JavaScript link. Scripts may cause difficulties in the link indexing.
  • Check how your image looks in thumbnail size. Stronger contrast is needed to better discern an image, which might lead to more people clicking on and linking to the image.
  • Save photos as .JPG files, and other graphic image types as .GIF. Search engines tend to interpret a GIF image as a standard graphic image with 256 colors, while JPGs as photos with millions of colors.
  • Re-upload your pictures from time to time, since image freshness is a contextual clue for the search engines and might affect relevancy.
  • As promotional tactics, you may watermark your images with your site address — if they are linked to, people on other sites will learn about yours.

Continue to think about your images as you do the rest of the site.  Lots of small things done right make a masterpiece.

 

Why Should I Care About LinkedIn?

Posted by on 9:27 pm in SEO to Go, Stuff You Should Know | 0 comments

Why Should I Care About LinkedIn?

Social marketing has become a huge element of Internet marketing these days. Social marketing has become so popular that many millions of people today rely on social marketing totally for their marketing. For this reason, we have decided to take a closer look at the Linked Influence program.

LinkedIn is an extremely popular social networking site which most of you have already heard of. It is a social marketing web site for pros and business owners to offer their services and products to others. And a lot of people have actually found new careers merely by being a member. Linkedin has become so popular that globally there are over 100 million members.

Linked Influence can demonstrate how to get the most out of Linkedin, and explain how you can even drive traffic to your websites.

Setting Things Up

When you sign up with Linkedin, you will need to create a profile and this article demonstrates how. Linked will also let you optimize your profile on LinkedIn so it generates as much attention as possible. You will also learn how you can use keywords in order to get people to find you when they are searching for something. Making certain others can find your LinkedIn profile is very important and keyword marketing techniques you learn will help.

Building A Following

One thing you will discover as you use it is how to take advantage of Linkedin groups as a way for you to build a rather big mailing list. You will also discover how you can grow your own LinkedIn group. Creating your own group is a terrific way to promote yourself and your business or products.

Going One Step Further

When you have all the basic principles covered,  you can utilize Linkedin as a traffic source so you will never have to worry about site traffic again (insert LOL here!). But seriously, LinkedIn can help you spread your word out and this can help you boost online sales.

Establishing Your Business

If you already have a business and want to increase your client base using LinkedIn, great! Putting up a good company page is one of the things you wouldn't want to get wrong, and you can really design a company page that grabs attention. A boost in clients will be a direct consequence of having more people checking out your company or business page.

Because of all the opportunities for LinkedIn, it can take you some time to master all the methods. Nonetheless, you don't want to slack off and skim through because you will not reap all of the benefits that LinkedIn has to offer. Another good thing about LinkedIn is that if you don't get everything you want out of it, it was free to start with and the other services are monthly. All in all, with the benefits you don't have anything to lose by trying out LinkedIn within your overall marketing program.

 

Simple Suggestions For Your Local Search Engine Ranking Success

Posted by on 9:44 pm in Long Haul SEO, Stuff You Should Know | 0 comments

Simple Suggestions For Your Local Search Engine Ranking Success

Remember that quote from a the "Field of Dreams" movie that said "If you build it they will come". Not too long ago the same was true of websites. My, has the world changed. Now things are considerably different. Today, in order to get the interest of the search engines and also get top search engine positioning you need to think about carrying out proper local search engine optimization.

Here's a few simple search engine optimization methods that you should put in to effect on your current websites and any new websites you build. Local Search Engine Optimization can be split into two separate entities. You will find that there are both on page and off page SEO techniques. The first variety of SEO is the on page optimization elements. This is basically how the search engines view your site and whether they feel it is a valid page to place in their results. Off page Search engine optimization is the process of building links on other sites that point back to your site. Links help raise up your rankings in the internet search engine results and make the search engines "like you".

Ready to start your on page SEO? You'll find that there are a few basics that are required. You need to select the keywords and keyword phrases you want your site to get ranked for. For this example we are going to pretend that you have a weight loss clinic and you are creating a new blog post and you want to rank for the words "Weight Loss Made Easy". The first thing you will want to do is have that term as the title of the web page. Then as you are creating the page, you will want to include that term in the first sentence of the content if possible. In the event that for some reason the content does not read correctly with that phrase in the 1st sentence, you can make sure that the keyword phrase is anywhere at the beginning of the article content so both readers and search engines know what the post is about.

Your keyword should also be included within every other paragraph of the blog post, don't fill all the content with the phrase as you may be penalized for key phrase stuffing. So for a common article or post may have about 7 to 8 paragraphs of content, dependent on the writer, your keyword phrase should be included 4 or 5 times through the post. You also really want to make sure that the keyword is also somewhere in the last paragraph of the article for local search ranking success.

Now for the off site optimization. It is time to start building links for that page determined by the keyword phrases you would like your page to rank for. So when folks click on that phrase they are brought to your site. These kinds of links are extremely potent in the search engines and the more backlinks to your site you have the higher you will rank.

When it concerns building these links one of the simplest ways to do this is through article marketing. This is where you compose an article and place these key phrase targeted links in the article as well as in a resource box at the ending of the article. Then you submit these articles to as many article sites and other sites that will publish your article content as you can find. When the article directories publish your article content and other people take them from the article sites and publish them on their websites your getting an additional link. However, if you try and publish the same article in multiple places, you can also be penalized. Placement is also sometimes dependent on you placing a link on your site from that site, which can effectively cancel your link value out.

Try some of these and see how they affect your rank. This is a long-term commitment and a one-time dive into this pool will not likely help you much. Stay with it, and you may see some real results!

Good luck with your local search ranking efforts!

Is Putting Your Local Business on the Internet Your Best Option ?

Posted by on 11:36 pm in Stuff You Should Know | 0 comments

Is Putting Your Local Business on the Internet Your Best Option ?

With money being tight for thousands of local business, business owners are trying to find ways to generate extra money and many are turning to the Internet. Businesses are turning to the Internet without realizing how much work they have to put in. It is not as simple as most people think. If you don't have the time or effort to invest in to your business online, you can basically ensure that it will not be a success.

You have to decide if an online business is a good option for you. An online business is not something you just set up and wait for the dollars to roll in, if that is what you think, just forget about it. Much like any business, you get out what you put in. Don't waste your time or money if you don't believe you can invest at least a couple hours a day to build your Internet business up.

Then again, local business owners are a smart bunch and most of you probably already understand that time and work will be required and you're prepared to put forth the effort, it can be very profitable. If you're still reading, we will show you how to get going.

You will need to get a domain name and hosting for your domain so you can set up a web site or blog. I am sure you have seen those web sites promising you money without even having to have your own website, while it's possible, if you want to do it right, you need a website. By having your own website, you can build your reputation and the reputation of your product.

Making money from your blog or website is now what you want to begin considering. There is nothing wrong with just putting up information on your local business, however, you need to get a lot of traffic to your website. Its basically like a customer calling you or coming into your store, but the internet offers the ability to leave your store instantly, without having invested even driving to you or walking in, so more visitors are needed and they need very clear reasons to stay.

Website traffic is the crucial ingredient to making money online. When nobody comes to your web site or blog, there is nobody to click links or promote anything to. Many people start off turning to pay per click for obtaining traffic to their web sites. When you employ pay per click methods, you have to pay to get people to your website, whether they buy anything or not. Essentially, you are paying each time a person comes to your website by clicking on one of your PPC adverts. PPC works great, but many people are under the impression that local business leads online are still pennies per click. This is typically the case and if you are getting off the ground on a budget like many local business do, you won't be able to afford using PPC.

But for those of you on a budget, there are gratis traffic programs. There are numerous free programs online that can help you get traffic to your web site. You can even do a search on any search engine for "free website traffic" and you will be able to locate numerous programs to help you get started.

In short, if you understand it takes time and you will need to work at it, starting a business online could be a great choice.

If You Want Quality Website Traffic, You Must Read This

Posted by on 12:23 am in Long Haul SEO | 0 comments

If You Want Quality Website Traffic, You Must Read This

Typically, the last thing most people think about when putting up a business online is how to start directing visitors to their web sites. One thing you need to remember about your online business is that no traffic equals no money. Getting traffic to your web sites is easy once you have the right information. In this article, we will cover a couple of traffic generation methods.

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