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Google My Business – Local SEO Strategies for Small Businesses

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If you have a website or business on the internet, you are likely thrilled with any search traffic and rankings you might receive. However, if you are a local-based business, it’s all about ranking for keywords that are relevant to your location or specifically about your business.

In most cases, local businesses won’t really understand the metrics of SEO or how to improve their rankings in the search results. More often than not, they will simply be happy if they are appearing at the top of Google for their brand name, and also have a Google Business Listing with their hours, location and business details.

This is ideal… but there are definitely more opportunities for traffic, growth, and improvement — especially when you start considering online traffic and content options with geo-targeted traffic.

Google My Business is a great place for local businesses to start with their online journey, but it’s definitely not the beginning and end. Implement these three components into your content creation and marketing efforts to get even more out of your local business listings in Google.

Start a Website or Blog for Your Local Business

Most small businesses and local retail locations should already have an online website or blog, but many still don’t. Unfortunately, way too many businesses think that a listing in Google Local or Yelp is going to represent them well online — however, this isn’t the case at all. Instead, it could actually be hurting them in the long run.

Without an official website for your business, there is no way for your audience and customers to really get in direct contact with you. Any information that might be found on other websites or local directories might also not be updated or accurate. At the same time, without a website of your own, you are letting customers leave reviews on other websites that you have no control over.

With a site of your own, you are always in control over what people see, find and discover about your business. This is also a great way to make a better first impression (through a nice website, pictures and company info). Once the connection has been made, you can then showcase your best customer feedback and ratings that appear within your Google My Business page.

Wouldn’t you rather be sending people directly to your own website when they search for your brand online, versus sending them to another third party website? You should.

Take Advantage of Facebook Advertising

There are currently over 1.8 billion users on Facebook. While the social network has worldwide exposure, it’s also done wonders for localized businesses and brands in the process.

Through the use of both Facebook Page and Facebook Advertising, local businesses can reach audiences within their area, while also growing a following at the same time. This is why you commonly see flyers that say “Like Us on Facebook” in your favorite retail locations. It’s a simple, fun and easy way for brands to connect with their audiences, while also allowing them to build a ‘social mailing list’ in the process.

Advanced local businesses and brands can also take advantage of the demographic and geo-targeting options that are available through Facebook Ads. The same can be said for ‘custom audience’ targeting options, which allows site owners to display ads through Facebook based on visitors to a website or emails on a mailing list.

Keeping with the theme of how to maintain a great online presence and building up your Google My Business profile, Facebook Pages and marketing can also be a great way to lead people to your local search listings where users can leave ratings and reviews of your own. Since your audience is already following you on Facebook, there is a good chance their review and rating would be positive.

Focus on Local SEO, Content Creation and Competitors

The third and final tip for improving a local business’ presence online, is to simply know how to rank your site in Google. As mentioned, it’s not hard to claim your Google My Business listing in Google… but that doesn’t mean you are going to listed at the top of the search rankings for generic search phrases like ‘car repair’, ‘food services’ or ‘pizza’ in your area, even if the geo-location settings are turned on for results. To improve your rankings you need to understand how to do each of the following;

  • Rank for Local Keywords – Ranking in Google is a science. If you don’t already know the basics of SEO, you can follow them here. In short, you need to create valuable content for your website and gain backlinks to your site. Those are the two most simple and straight to the point methods for explaining how rankings work in Google. The same thing goes for Google Local rankings as well… the more content and rankings back to them, the more likely they are to rank higher.
  • Create Local-Based Content – A listing in Google is great for your business, but there is a lot more opportunity if you are willing to put in the time, work and effort. For example, think about the many different things your potential customers might be searching for in Google (besides your company name). Ratings, locations, coupons, how to’s, local events… you name it, all of it can be used for potential content ideas you can create through your own site.
  • Know Your Competitors – As a local business, your competition is everything. If they have a bigger store, better advertisements and higher search rankings… you need to know! Tools like SEMRush and Google Alerts will allow you to keep an eye on the competition, both through search ranking movements and any new content appearing in Google your competition might be ranking for.

Another method that has worked for various businesses to help improve the look and activity of their sites, is to send geo targeted traffic to their sites. This type of traffic marketing will help with Alexa and SimilarWeb rankings. While these aren’t key components to SEO or determining how successful or big a site might be, they are metrics that brands and businesses do keep an eye on. Also, depending on the size of your business, this type of paid traffic can also bring in new audiences and customer to your website (and even local business as well).

Claim Your Google My Business Page, then Build Out Your Own Site

I’m all for having a Google My Business page for your local business, but don’t rely on that for everything. I always tell my audience the same thing — you want to own your own content! This is why it’s so important to have your own domain name and web hosting, versus starting a website on Blogger.com or WordPress.com. At the same time, you don’t want to have 100,000 fans on your Facebook page and not leading them to join your own mailing list of visiting a site you actually own.

No matter how much of your business is coming from local residents in your area, your online presence is of the utmost importance. Follow these Google My Business and local SEO marketing tips to stay ahead of the competition.

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How to Improve Local SEO Results When Using a Digital Marketing Agency

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Running a business can be very rewarding and exciting, but there are also many challenges that you have to try to overcome. One of these barriers is the stiff level of competition you face, no matter what industry you are in. If you want to be able to compete effectively with rivals, you have to ensure you have a solid marketing strategy in place and that the solutions you use actually work.

Unfortunately, just ‘creating content’ is never going to get you there. To rank in Google, your site will need powerful backlinks to improve the Domain Authority and Page Authority rankings of your site. Without these in place, your site will likely be found in Google for a wide range of long tail keywords, but likely somewhere between pages 10 to 100 — which is pretty much useless.

In order to effectively rank online and compete against already established sites, you will need to come up with a very creative and highly effective content creation and marketing plan. If you are a single person (or small) business, you will likely find that this task in itself could be a full time business, which is why many organizations outsource the process to a trustworthy digital marketing agency.

To help with the process of winning the war of online marketing and SEO, let’s cover some of the most important factors when trying to find a trustworthy digital marketing agency, and where/how you might want to focus your efforts and advertising dollars.

Local is Extremely Effective for Targeted Ads and SEO

When looking at the internet as a whole, there are more than a billion active sites online — which means they are all creating new content all the time, getting new social shares/backlinks, and ranking in Google. If you want to compete on this global scale, be ready for some massive competition.

At the same time, many smaller and local businesses don’t have the funds or resources to compete at these levels. For this reason, they should focus heavily on their local SEO rankings, paid advertising and demographic audience.

Neon Ambition, an SEO in Austin, has been working with companies for years now on how to improve their local reach and targeting, while also explaining the importance of how to find a positive ROI with SEO marketing, which can have a pretty much limitless ad spend cap.

They recommended the following take place:

“Having worked with hundreds of clients on a local specific ad campaign, we understand not only how hard it can be for a local business to rank, but also for them to spend a limited budget and see results at the same time. We have found great success with building localized content then targeting and remarketing location audiences to come back to the site once again. By additional social media and occasionally backlinking to such articles and resources, we continue to see progressive SEO growth month after month, while not requiring small mom and pops to spend thousands of dollars per month in the process.”

When it comes to local SEO and handing your business off to a digital marketing agency, it’s also important to have some basic understanding of how SEO works for your own personal and business expertise. You will also want to look for the following badges and certifications, as they will give you a better indication on how efficient and trusted an ad agency might be.

A great article on this topic can be found on Forbes, which ranks the following three factors as key elements that should be used when trying to rank in Google, target audiences, and find a positive ROI with local online advertising.

A company’s rank in Google My Business (GMB) results can be boiled down to three distinct areas of focus:

  1. Relevance
  2. Distance
  3. Prominence

How to Use Content and Social Networks to Improve Rankings

As previously mentioned, if you want to rank in Google, you need to have a powerful website and/or blog with established backlinks. If you don’t have this in place, it’s something you can build up over time. However, at the moment, not all is lost.

Thanks to the power of social media, you can rank Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and other social profile or local directories pretty fast and easy in Google. Since most of these sites are already trusted in the eyes of Google, it doesn’t take much to rank such inner profiles and pages on their site.

In that same Forbes article mentioned above, they highlight the following methods for relying on social media and local directories to improve site rankings and being found by your target audience.

  • Select a high-volume keyword phrase that has location intent. Typically, for an attorney, this will be “practice area” plus “city name.” For example, “personal injury lawyer Philadelphia.”
  • Create a page on your site targeting this phrase.
  • Include the phrase in your page title, headings, page copy, meta description and image file names.
  • Include your name, address and phone number on the page.
  • Include the phrase in your page permalink as such: example.com/city-name/target-keyword-phrase/

By following these simple tips, there is no reason why your brand shouldn’t be able to rank for all ten listings on the main page of Google for your personal brand or business name. It’s something I’ve been able to do for my “Zac Johnson” name for quite a while now.

Social media is out there and it’s free to use. So take advantage of it!

Quick Ideas and Tips to Improve Local SEO on Your Own

There are many advantages to using a digital marketing agency when trying to rank and promote your local business, especially if you have no idea where to start. But there are also many things you can do on your own time to help promote your site and grow it’s site rankings and power over time.

Here are some quick ideas and tips to get started.

  • Have a blog. This one is a no-brainer, as it will allow you to create content for your site and will also start ranking your site in Google for long tail keywords. Also remember to effectively promote each blog post, and don’t expect people to find them on their own.
  • Create visuals and infographics for social media. This is a great idea, as everyone is already on social media and if you have a new recipe or service coming out, if you can make a quick infographic or animated video, it’s much more likely to be seen and shared.
  • Contribute to expert round ups. Depending on your niche market and business, this one might work or it might not. Check out these expert roundup examples and you can learn more about this.
  • Guest blogging on other industry/local blogs. Again, this comes down to the process of creating content for your sited within your industry, and then gaining exposure and getting backlinks as a way of compensation for your time, expertise and articles.

It’s likely that your digital marketing agency will be handling a lot of this, but there is no reason why you couldn’t start working on some of this at the same time. If you end up securing some nice placements and start to get a good feeling for how local SEO and audience targeting works, it might be something that you want to bring in-house as well.

Finding the Best Local Ad Agency for Your Business

When going with any local ad agency or digital marketing firm, make sure you always do all of the necessary research. Also, try to stay out of a super long term contract. Most SEO campaigns and work can take anywhere from 3-9 months before you start seeing real results.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to shoot me an email and I can help out with any questions you might have.

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5 Things Most Site Owners Do Wrong with Their SEO

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For so many websites on the Internet, regardless of objective or industry, the biggest source of traffic is the search engine. Absolutely, you should invest resources into cultivating other traffic sources, but it is undeniable that ranking well for your target keywords and keyword phrases on those search engine result pages (SERPs) will always work in your benefit.

Before you can start working on all the things you should be doing right, you need to eliminate (or at least reduce) the things that you are doing wrong. The two really go hand-in-hand. And it is in that spirit that we present to you five critical mistakes that site owners do with respect to search engine optimization.

1. Writing for the Search Engine

To be perfectly fair, search engine optimization has gotten progressively more complex and nuanced over the years. In the past, the “rules” of engagement were much more straightforward with much more clearly defined lines in the sand. You must have your keyword appear in the title and in the first 50 words. The exact keyword phrase must appear X number of times in the text.

These days, Google sees right through that. And the old practices of keyword stuffing and almost mechanical content production have only led to robotic, unnatural content that actual people don’t want to read. If you’re focusing all your efforts on “writing for the search engine” rather than addressing what readers actually want, you’re missing the point entirely.

Done correctly, it is perfectly possible to write for both humans and search engines at the same time. At the end of the day, the best SEO strategy is to provide what actual humans want to get out of your content.

2. Skipping the Competitive Analysis

A critical component to starting and running a successful business is formulating a successful business plan. This involves analyzing the market, for instance, to determine the anticipated level of customer demand. You take the time to formulate your unique selling proposition (USP), the key feature or benefit that differentiates you from the competition. Search engine optimization works in much the same way.

When putting together an SEO strategy for how and where you want to build backlinks, you must start with a competitive analysis. This involves identifying the competition, and reviewing it with a backlinks checker to see what they have (and the ones that you don’t), and analyzing the most important keywords that you want to target, the ones that represent the biggest and best opportunities for growth.

By skipping the competitive analysis, you’re almost going into your SEO efforts blind. You’d be starting with what you think might work, rather than what is already working for the competition. This establishes expected benchmarks and reveals how and where you may be able to achieve those benchmarks. Why re-invent the wheel?

3. Overlooking Dead Links

In all your efforts to optimize new content moving forward, it’s easy to overlook old content that can still be a great source of traffic. When you have a lot of old content that isn’t very good, that can actually weigh down your entire domain. This means that, in effect, Google is docking points on your new content because your old content is just bad. And the only thing worse than bad content is content that isn’t even there.

A practice overlooked by so many site owners is that they forget to find dead links and work to recapture them. This is true in two different contexts. First, you should check to see the URLs that are generating 404 errors for visitors. Determine how you can best redirect those visitors to relevant content instead. Second, you should check your own content to ensure you are not linking out to 404 errors too.

There are tools and tutorials available for both of these concerns, and they can largely automate the process. It’s a routine you should be doing at least every month or two.

4. Focusing Only on High Volume Keywords

Keyword research is a critical aspect of search engine optimization. What many site owners do wrong with SEO, in this respect, is that they’re devoting far more time (and resources) on the big, high level keywords. That’s where you’ll find the highest and most cutthroat competition, even if it’s also where you’ll find the highest search volume. Compete with sharks and you can only expect to get bitten.

Instead of focusing too much energy on getting the tiniest of slivers out of the bigger pie, it can be much more fruitful to find several smaller pies where you can carve out a much larger slice. High volume keywords are great, but they’re remarkably difficult to crack. Low and moderate volume keywords, however, have much less competition and you can reap the rewards of highly targeted, highly motivated search from users.

It takes time to identify these opportunities, to be sure. It’s also true that the riches are indeed in the niches.

5. Including Irrelevant Internal Links

A common SEO practice is to integrate a number of internal links in your own content. The idea is that this “helps” the search engines crawl through the rest of your content, and it helps to keep users on your site longer because it introduces them to content they may not otherwise seek out on their own. That’s partly true, but it only holds water if the internal links are actually relevant.

Just as you should avoid keyword stuffing for the sake of keyword stuffing itself, you should also avoid internal link stuffing purely for the sake of including internal links. Point your site visitors toward relevant, useful content that you have on your site, and even link to the same resource more than once if it’s something that’s really important; however, don’t just link to something just because you feel like you need to include an internal link there.

Just as linking to an irrelevant external site with little usefulness or authority hurts your site’s reputation, the same is true if Google detects that your internal links aren’t actually providing real value to users. Think first: will visitors actually benefit from this link?

SEO and Link Building in 2019 and Beyond

Search engine optimization will always be a moving target, because the cryptic complexities of the search engine algorithms are in a constant state of flux. At the end of the day, great content is still great content, and your number one priority should always be to deliver what the end user actually wants. And to do that better than anyone else.

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12 Essential Digital Marketing Tools Guaranteed to Grow Your Business

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A craftsperson is only as good as their tools. Companies deploying growth strategies using digital marketing tools need to make sure they are investing the right time and money.

But with the digital economy changing so fast it can be difficult to know where to invest your time and money. There are new companies and new tools springing up every day.

Each one promises huge returns and low cost. Make sure you have the right investment or the competition could leave you behind.

You need these 10 tools today:

1. Feedly

It isn’t enough to have great content. Your content strategy needs to be curated, scheduled, and tracked.

Feedly will help you curate your content calendar across platforms.

2. CRM Software

What is CRM Software? CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a must for companies that need to make use of valuable data across all departments.

This means you! Without CRM you aren’t able to target the right people, turn insights into conversions, or avoid redundancies.

3. LeadPages

Your bounce rate could be killing your SEO. Even worse, all those bounces could be symbols of your business going elsewhere.

Leadpages is the answer. You can test new landing pages and deploy for success with Leadpages.

4. Splice

If you aren’t using video content, you should be. And if you aren’t optimizing your video content for social media you are missing a huge opportunity.

Splice, from the makers of GoPro, is the tool for your video content.

5. Google Analytics

There is no replacement. You need this.

From within your Google Webmaster Account, you can manage all aspects of your site when it comes to SEO and making sure you are good in the eyes of Google.

Not sure if your site was affected by one of the latest penalties, or if it’s indexed in Google? All of this and more is tracked from Webmaster Tools.

6. Yoast

If you are using WordPress and struggling with SEO, Yoast is the tool for you. Yoast comes in a free version and offers insight into your text.

Yoast will scan your content and rate all of it, traffic light style, for SEO.

Best of all, this tool is extremely easy to use, and free!

7. LiveChat

Customers want support in real time. Make sure you are on the cutting edge of user experience with LiveChat.

The next time you visit a website or ecommerce site and see a little chat popup window appear, this is exactly how LiveChat works.

There are plenty of alternatives out there, and many of them are powered with artificial intelligence.

Take a look at the different options available and how other brands are using these chatbots to grow their business — then think about how you could do the same.

8. WooCommerce of Shopify

If you want to start selling products online, you need to have a great ecommerce platform.

Two of the most popular and best solutions out there are WooCommerce and Shopify.

Discover how to boost ecommerce sales with either of these platforms, while also improving your SEO and revenue in the process.

9. Social Shark

With over 1 billion users worldwide, there’s never been a better time to make the most of Instagram. But for marketers new to the social media platform the results can be disappointing without the right tools.

Social Shark is the right tool to grow your Instagram presence.

10. Ahrefs and DA/PA Checkers

All those SEO hunters out there already know about Ahrefs. The tool will track your rankings as well as link-building campaigns.

The tool also helps you improve local SEO.

Another useful tool to add into this section, is TheHoth’s DA/PA checker.

It’s free to use and if you are looking up

11. MailChimp

Email marketing represents the highest return on investment in terms of digital marketing. But if your company is only dabbling in the email marketing field you are missing out.

Email marketing needs to be targeted, managed and tracked to be effective. MailChimp is a great tool for small businesses.

12. Famoid

Everyone is obsessed with social media and making sure they reach as many people as possible. This can clearly be seen by how much the top influencers are getting paid when posting content and showing brands and products within their updates.

While everyone starts at ZERO, there are ways to speed up this process.

Famoid is a social media marketing platform that allows people to grow their following fast — no matter if it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube.

In addition to growing your follower, they also have options for increase shares, likes, and views as well.

Moving Beyond Digital Marketing Tools

Remember, digital marketing tools are only a means to an end. Many business owners and marketing professionals feel that once they have the right tools the rest will take care of itself.

Not so. You need to lead your company into growth.

Now that you have the 10 essential tools covered, make sure you are headed in the right direction.

Learn more now about the hacks that will make your company grow faster.

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