SEO Ho Ho – Search Engine Optimisation in 2016 – Xmas Message

The year is nearly at an end and Xmas has been and gone, but there is still a lot of cheer in the air and pleasant memories of all the festivities to boot (amongst them our company Xmas card – see the image below) which went down very well with our customers).

seo-ho-ho-card

But there are other reasons to be grateful about 2016, in that in my view Google has made some really good moves to make the results fairer and more accurate, the latest Penguin update really sorting things out.

This has been somewhat of a relief to SOM as we have been ‘preaching’ what we call ‘Proper’, ‘Scientific’ SEO. What we mean by this is that we research the words that people are searching for in a market area, find the words that Google ‘wants to see’ for these phrases so that they can be incorporated in to the copy. Then we add some relevant links (with a natural anchor text and source type mix) and he presto , things start to happen.

The best part of this is that it is all totally ‘Google legal’  and can never in our view be subject to any penalties that Google may dream up at some time. We can say this as all we are trying to do is to make sure that any site we optimise offers some of the best information there is on a given subject, and of course we make sure that there are enough links to the site’s pages so that Google thinks the same. We call this link building programme ‘priming the pump’ as once the site gets traffic, the links will start building organically. Link building is still required in many cases, but perhaps, only because others are trying to get their sites rankings higher too…

As to the blog post we have included below, we certainly agree about the rise of AI and believe that Google searchers have for some time been ‘rats in the Google maze’, in that they have been analysing what we click on and what sites we like, thus getting closer and closer their goal of truly understanding the real intent behind a given search term.

The other interesting thing raised here is the increased importance that mobile search is being given these days, not really surprising when you realise that people are accessing the web using mobile devices more and more these days.

For 2017 we see it as more of the same, Google getting cleverer and cleverer at spotting the good sites (the ones that deserve rankings) from the ones that don’t, all of which means you just have to ‘Do SEO properly’ or suffer the consequences…

To see the full article on SEO in 2016 and some predictions for 2017 please click the link.

What we’ve learned about SEO in 2016?

Since the inception of the search engine, SEO has been an important, yet often misunderstood industry. For some, these three little letters bring massive pain and frustration. For others, SEO has saved their business. One thing is for sure: having a clear and strategic search strategy is what often separates those who succeed from those who don’t.

As we wrap up 2016, let’s take a look at how the industry has grown and shifted over the past year, and then look ahead to 2017.

A growing industry

It was only a few years ago when the internet was pummeled with thousands of “SEO is Dead” posts. Well, here we are, and the industry is still as alive as ever. SEO’s reputation has grown over the past few years, due in great part to the awesome work of the real pros out there. Today, the industry is worth more than $65 billion. Companies large and small are seeing how a good search strategy has the power to change their business.

As search engines and users continue to evolve, SEO is no longer just an added service brought to you by freelance web designers. With the amount of data, knowledge, tools and experience out there, SEO has become a power industry all on its own.

Over the course of the year, my agency alone has earned a number of new contracts from other agencies that are no longer able to provide their own search efforts. A large divide between those that can deliver SEO and those that can’t is beginning to open up across the board.

The rise of AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is now prevalent in many of our lives. Google, IBM, Amazon and Apple are very active in developing and using Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI). ANI can be used to automate repetitive tasks, like looking up product details, shipping dates and order histories and performing countless other customer requests.

The consumer is becoming more and more comfortable with this technology and has even grown to trust its results. Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, announced during his Google I/O keynote that 20 percent of queries on its mobile app and on Android devices are voice searches.

RankBrain, Google’s machine-learning artificial intelligence system, is now among the top three ranking signals for Google’s search algorithm. Why? Google handles more than 3.5 billion searches per a day, and 16 to 20 percent of those are unique queries that have never been searched before. To handle this, the team at Google has harnessed the power of machine learning to help deliver better results.

While we can’t “control” RankBrain, what we can do is learn more about how Google is using it and then help the tool by creating good content that earns shares and links, building connections with others in our niche or related niches, and building trust in very targeted topics.

We are still in the beginning stages of this technology, but as more and more homes become equipped with smart tools like Amazon Echo and Google Home, we can be sure that these tech giants will use the knowledge they gain from voice search to power their AI technology.

The “Google Dance”

Every so often, Google likes to surprise us with a major algorithm update that has a significant impact on search results — some years we get one, and other years we get a little more.
While they do make nearly 500 tweaks to the algorithm each year, some are big enough to garner more attention. Let’s look back at four of 2016’s most memorable updates.

Mobile-friendly algorithm boost

A little under a year after “Mobilegeddon,” an event marked by the launch of Google’s mobile-friendly ranking algorithm, the search giant announced that it would soon be increasing the effects of this algorithm to further benefit mobile-friendly sites on mobile search. That boost rolled out on May 12, 2016, though the impact was not nearly as significant as when the mobile-friendly ranking algorithm initially launched.

Penguin 4.0

While this ended up being a two-phase rollout, Penguin 4.0 made its entrance on September 23, 2016. This has been considered the “gentler” Penguin algorithm, which devalues bad links instead of penalizing sites. The second phase of Penguin 4.0 was the recovery period, in which sites impacted by previous Penguin updates began to finally see a recovery — assuming steps were taken to help clean up their link profiles.

“Possum”

While this update was never confirmed by Google, the local SEO community noted a major shake-up in local pack and Google Maps results in early September 2016.

Fellow Search Engine Land columnist Joy Hawkins noted that this was quite possibly the largest update seen in in the local SEO world since Pigeon was released in 2014. Based on her findings, she believes the update’s goal was “to diversify the local results and also prevent spam from ranking as well.”
Divided index

As mobile search continues to account for more and more of the global share of search queries, Google is increasingly taking steps to become a mobile-first company. In November, Google announced that it was experimenting with using a mobile-first index, meaning that the mobile version of a website would be considered the “default” version for ranking purposes instead of the desktop version:

“To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.”

The time to say goodbye to 2016 is fast approaching, and I am truly excited to see what 2017 has in store for the world of SEO!

Not All Businesses Are Destined For Globalisation, Local Search Is More Appropriate

There are lots of business owners who dream of growing their small local business into a worldwide giant with outlets in all the major cities around the globe. Whilst this is not really a realistic option for most SMEs, every business has to start somewhere even if that somewhere is a bit of space for a home office in the dining room.

Obtaining a high quality website is usually an important step for the business as this is the start of its online presence. It can feel like the start of globalisation for the business owner even though in reality, most of their turnover comes from local custom. It is important to remember that actually that local trade is very important so making sure that anyone looking for the goods you sell or the services you offer are easily found by those searching in your area.

Always make sure that your business website is listed in directories such as Google Places, Yell and so on. Any directory that offers a map is going to be useful because when the searcher clicks on the results, a map will be shown and they will be able to find your premises. These days, many people do searches using their mobile phones so they can easily navigate to your business using the map. So if you own a pet supplies shop and someone is looking for a dog bowl, they can type in ‘buy dog bowl in Townsville’, your business should appear in the listings complete with directions.

Targeting local keywords will really help with local trade, so having your chosen keywords alongside the name of the town or region is key to success. People will often type in local keywords when they are searching for particular goods or services in their local area. So, the pet supplies business will have many products and services on offer which could be being searched for by potential customers. Terms such as cat treats Townsville, Bloggs Pet Supplies Townsville, flea treatments Townsville and so on could very easily rank highly in the search engines which in turn means an increase in local trade.

So, taking into account the type of business, it is possible for Bloggs Pet Supplies to become a global player but it is more likely that it will remain a small or medium sized business with 1 or more stores in the region. It may grow to the point where it is nationwide however, as most of its clientele are going to be local customers, it would be prudent to target marketing efforts on the local area rather than going global. It is up to the business and its advisors to decide whether going global is going to be beneficial and whether it is even going to be worth the investment to try.

 

Search engines have been working hard on fine-tuning their algorithms to provide high quality search results based on location.

Google is the best covered in the industry, with its Pigeon update launching in July 2014 and rolling out to UK, Canada and Australia in December. Use the links if you want to learn more about the update.

It’s one thing to know that local search is important and can affect your SERPs presence but it’s another entirely to know how to ‘do’ local SEO effectively.

Having spent some time researching, then actually implementing most of the core local SEO tactics for a few websites, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the top 10 things you can and should be doing, in order of priority (please note – my priority order, I’m not claiming it as a definitive best practice statement).

You’ll notice that this blog is geared towards organisations with local offices/stores, rather than pureplay online stores servicing a local area.

This is because a significant chunk of local search is people looking for places near to them, whether that’s to buy products or enjoy local services, and many of the effective online SEO tactics are focused on physical stores.

The search engines have also invested in tools to allow you to set-up local business listings to improve search visibility for stores.

Here’s my top 10…..

1. Create a unique landing page for each store

A unique store page can be optimised to provide content that is relevant to local customers and targeted at local keyword searches.

Start by thinking about your customers; what information are they likely to need for your store? A good store page should include:

  • Address and phone number (in a standardised NAP format).
  • Additional contact details e.g. email, contact form, social media icons.
  • Map and directions (embedding a Google Map is a popular option).
  • Opening times.
  • High quality photos of the store.
  • Store services provided.
  • Calendar of events (if relevant).
  • In-store promotions and offers.

From a pure SEO point of view, each page needs an optimised:

  • URL e.g. /stores/store-name rather than just a numerical store code like /stores/1234
  • Page title
  • H1
  • Meta description
  • Schema.org markup
  • Canonical tag (in case there are any filters that could generated duplicate content)

Please note this list isn’t exhaustive as there are lots of SEO considerations but the above is the minimum to cater for. Below is a good example from Selfridges, although the meta data could be better optimised e.g. the H1 for each store page is ‘Our Stores’ which has no reference to location.

 

2. Add a business listing for each store

You can add your business to Google and Bing free of charge using the simple online set-up forms. Make sure you verify each listing, a small but important detail.

It’s advisable to create a business Google and Microsoft account to do this rather than creating the listing from a personal account. This is especially important for Google when you start linking other Google properties like Google+ pages and YouTube channels.

It’s important to add optimised content for the store listing, so think carefully about the business name, category and description.

You want the business page to be found for relevant searches but you also want the business listing to appeal to potential customers.

The advantage of a verified business listing is greater SERPs dominance for brand searches, which can increase CTR. Below is an example of a startup I helped to build out its local SEO, showing Google results for a brand search.

You’ll notice the reviews showing in the knowledge graph area, see 4. below for more info on the benefits. This is really important for SMEs where the business isn’t established

Click the link to continue reading: https://econsultancy.com/blog/66574-10-essentials-for-local-seo-success/

Use Local SEO To Boost Your Business

Having a website means that your goods and services can be bought from anywhere in the world but, are you missing out on the local market? Your local area could be a great untapped source of income for your business and if you are not advertising locally, you could be missing out. A lot of people like to use local businesses particularly if they can collect the goods that they want to purchase the same day or they could just be looking for a particular type of food prepared in your restaurant. So make sure that your business is accessible to this group of potential customers and remember that most people now use smartphones to find businesses. There are many ways to promote your business locally and you need not spend a lot of your advertising budget to do this, there are a lot of free services that you can use, all you need to do is fill in the online forms and if you are doing this, do be careful to fill in all the details correctly. Be sure to provide a map on your website so that customers can find you easily, this is particularly important if your business is located in a large business park or a rural area or is difficult to find without directions. Make it easy for customers to buy from you or they will go elsewhere.

Local SEO is vital if you want your business to be found in the search results when consumers are actively seeking the products/services that your business sells/provides. Top search rankings are responsible for keeping your phone ringing and local consumers walking through your doors. A solid local SEO plan helps ensure that your target consumer can find your business when they perform a local search.

Your on-page factors along with social signals, inbound links, NAP (name, address and phone) listings, and local listings all contribute to your website ranking in the local search results. Improving your position in the local results can drastically improve your website traffic, resulting in more sales and revenue for your business. The following eight tips can help you to improve your local SEO effort.

1. Make sure your local listings are all correct.

You should have a Google+ Business page, Bing Places for Business, and a Yahoo Local page set up. These are the listings that show up at the top of the local search results, so it is important that your business is listed with each in order to have a chance to show up in the local search results. Fill out each profile completely and make sure that your business name, address, and phone number is exactly how it appears on the contact page of your website.

2. Check for duplicate local listings.

It is very possible that you have duplicate local listings out there and you will want to perform a quick audit to check. If you do locate duplicate listings you will want to delete them. There are many services to help you with your local listing management. Our favorite is Moz Local because it is so simple to use and it is extremely affordable.
Read more at http://www.business2community.com/seo/8-tips-improve-local-seo-performance-0879695#syz3QH5teZxijwgO.99

Further information

What is local SEO and why do you need it?

SEO for local businesses

Not every business wants to be a multi-national, some want to offer their goods and services to a more local audience and as such, the way they run their online campaigns will be slightly different. For these businesses, having websites that can be viewed from mobile devices is essential as often, people looking for them will be using their mobile phone or tablet. Making use of local directories, local review sites, social media and local business group sites such as Chamber of Commerce, are great for getting a business known in a particular area or community. Using long-tail keywords using local geographical terms will help with the search engine listings as well. Video can be particularly useful and as many people view these from their mobiles and then share them with their friends, this is an area that should not be ignored.

Here’s a local search optimization tactic that is a staple in the repertoire of many professional SEOs: YouTube Optimization. It’s particularly effective in local search since relatively few businesses have created and published video promotions for themselves.

Before launching into the technical tips for optimizing your YouTube videos for local search, it’s worthwhile to mention the content itself. While my tips below will provide benefit somewhat independently of whatever the video is actually about, all benefit derived from the work will be magnified if the video is compelling. So, subject matter and the way it is conveyed are of primary importance. I don’t mention “quality” (although that can contribute) because there are many videos of poor production quality or low resolution that are extremely popular. The subject matter of a video and the way it’s conveyed — its “interestingness” — are more likely to determine whether people will watch it, whether they’ll watch all the way through, and whether they’ll share it with friends.

YouTube Local SEO

Some businesses simply make an ad about themselves when they do a video. While these can be informative for prospective customers, they are typically not all that imaginative (and usually not as effective as less overtly promotional videos).

A better approach would be to publish a series of brief videos over time about aspects of your industry, its products, and its services. Provide how-to videos that demonstrate how to do what you do. Obviously, if you sell a service, you won’t make money off of do-it-yourselfers, but these videos are typically more popular and will therefore convey more ranking potential to your business. They can also serve to establish you as an expert — and sometimes, when you show what’s involved in what you do, it will persuade people to pay to have it done.

Other types of videos can teach consumers about how to select the sorts of products you sell, or tell them how to discern qualities about services offered. These “public service” sorts of videos may train consumers in how to be more discerning and, in the process, train them to choose you instead of your competition. Click here to continue

Further information

5 simple steps to improve your local SEO

2013 local search ranking factors

Local SEO tips for small businesses post Panda/Penguin

 

Do not neglect your local audience when doing your SEO

Many small to medium sized businesses rely on local trade and as such, it is so very important not to neglect marketing to the local audience. Obviously, there will be businesses that can only service locals and those will almost exclusively spend their marketing budget on the local area. Others however, are able to offer services to a wider audience and whilst this may be an essential part of the long term strategy, ensuring the locally based clientele are kept informed of goods and services offered by the firm can be key to securing a sound foundation for the business. Ensuring that there has been sufficient SEO done on the site that includes the local area is a must and making use of all the search engine tools can really help promote your business as well. Much depends upon the type of business you are operating but making the most of the technology and the opportunities that it can give rise to, can give you a real boost particularly for those using mobile searches.

The vast majority of local businesses out there – even those heavily invested in digital and mobile marketing – are constantly looking for insights on how they can improve their placements in Google’s search engine results.

While there’s plenty of advice available on specific tactics ranging from leveraging keywords and linking to boosting reviews and Facebook likes, most business owners struggle with how to prioritize their local marketing budgets to improve their rankings, while avoiding unintentional negative hits to their search visibility.

David Mihm at Moz, a marketing analytics firm, pulls together the valuable “Local Search Ranking Factors” survey each year to help to demystify local SEO rankings by honing in on the insights of 35 local marketing experts. Participants evaluate the influence of key ranking factors and prioritize specific ones that they believe contribute to local SEO rankings.

Released earlier this month, this year’s results provide a strong blueprint for businesses – both new entrants and those already established in the local search space – on how to allocate their limited marketing budgets to generate greater visibility for their brand and one-up their competitors.

Where To Prioritize Local Marketing Efforts

The first section of the survey asked participants to identify the importance of eight thematic clusters of ranking factors across three primary types of local search results – localized organic search, pack/carousel search and maps search – for both desktop and mobile searches.

Participants were asked to assign a percentage of influence to all eight clusters, adding up to 100%, to measure those areas with the greatest impact for local businesses planning their digital and mobile efforts.

 

Image courtesy of Moz.com used with permission

Image courtesy of Moz.com used with permission

Click here to read on

Further information

Why Google+ and Google Local are important to your local SEO

5 step checklist for reviewing your local SEO campaign

 

Making the most of your SEO

Making the most of your website is what all businesses strive for so it is important that you have good SEO implemented. There are many ways of using SEO to boost your site’s ratings with the search engines but it must be done correctly and within the rules.

One of the biggest challenges for any business, not just in the SEO sector, is being able to accurately forecast and measure the size of their market opportunity.

For decades successful businesses have been built, grown, and acquired, partly based on their ability to measure opportunity and work toward attainable forecasts.

Now, not every forecast is 100 percent accurate and that is certainly not the subject of my post today. Developing a discipline of forecasting and using that information to focus on the most attractive value opportunities in the competitive field of SEO puts you, as an agency, independent specialist, or brand ahead of your business competition.

My last post offered some ideas on how to measure ‘Share of Voice’ in order to get ahead of the competition. Now let’s go one step further, talking about search opportunity forecasting and explaining why estimating the future value of SEO matters.

We are in an industry that is 15 years old and growing rapidly. SEO is a $2.2 billion industry, according to the Forrester US Interactive Marketing Forecast 2011 to 2016. Hence, if you want people to think of SEO as the critical business function that it is, then it’s only logical to treat it like one. Click to continue reading.

Further reading

Local SEO: Reviews and recommendations

Utilizing SEO to improve your online ranking

Making time to execute your SEO campaign

Google disavow tool: effects, implications and theories

 

A few ideas to keep your online business presence

If your business has an online presence, there are a few things you can do to ensure your website is working properly and that visitors turn into clients.

One of the best things about online advertising is that you can track it. It is important to be able to find out how many clicks you are getting, which page they are landing on and then what pages are being visited. You will be able to see if there are any patterns evolving once visitors arrive. If you do not know what is going on, how will you know if your advertising strategy is working?

If you run a small business, there is a high probability that most of your customers are based locally. If this is the case, you must ensure that your online marketing strategy is targeting your business to the local area. By targeting the local audience, you will not only save a bit of money but you will capture potential new customers in your locality. Make sure your website is properly optimized for conversions, if it’s not, you could really lose out on a lot of business. It is one thing attracting visitors, it is quite another converting them, so you must make considerable efforts to get those conversions.

Always make sure that your contact information is prominently displayed and easy to find. See to it that your website has a clear call to action, such as contacting you or filling out a form. Take a good look at your website to see that the most important information is clearly visible and that visitors do not have to scroll down or click through endless pages to find what they are looking for.

It may seem very obvious, but take a look at your customer service. It is the one thing that really influences customers and if you have poor customer service, word soon gets round. The internet is one of the best and worst ways of creating a reputation. News spreads fast, so if your customer service is less than perfect, do something about it so that your company’s reputation is kept intact. Find out what people are saying about your business online, contact satisfied customers to share reviews about your business online.

Google make changes to results in the USA – Is it bad news?

Just picked up this story from the lads and lasses that check out what people are Tweeting about and it makes interesting, but perhaps disquieting news. The article that sparked the Tweets appeared in the Guardian on the 11th Jan and cover the way that Google has altered the results (some say ‘warped’) by incorporating (and giving favour too) data from its  Google+ network.

These changes have only been made in the USA so far and only work when the user is logged in, but it has annoyed many as it may have the effect of making existing Google+ users more likely to use it as they will be more in control of the data they see (this being based to some degree on their own circle of friends and interests as per their Google+ profile and history).

Twitters lead lawyer, Alex Machgillivray was quoted as saying is was a “bad day for teh internet”, which shows how worried / annoyed some people are getting…

Google however have not been silent on the matter either,  Amit Singhai of Google, introduced the changes, saying “We’re transforming Google into a search engine that understands not only content, but also people and relationships.” He also pointed out that there is a “toggle” that will let people see the results with and without ‘Google+ personalisation’.

No doubt the war of words will continue, with perhaps legal action in the USA as the fact that the anti trust laws may be being broken here has been mentioned.

As ever it will need to be kept an eye on as it may well start making getting rankings even more difficult and make the statement ‘Not everyone sees the same results when they type in a keyword phrase’ even truer….

Click the link for the full story on Google+ data used in their SERPs listings.

Local Businesses Not Taking Advantage of Google Places Listings

A survey of Chiropodists in Herefordshire showed that only 4 out of 10 had claimed and verified their listings on Google Places and of those that had claimed their listings only 1 in 10 had bothered to add any further details.

More amazing still there were no reviews at all of any of these practitioners at all, which is something of a surprise when you consider how personal this service is.

What this shows is that many businesses are not taking full advantage of the possibilities that Google Places offers, after all these days people are far more likely to look on the Web than pick up a copy of the Yellow pages or even the local newspaper. This is the case for other types of businesses too, many are simply not taking advantage of this free service.

As it stands today, this means that these businesses could steal a march on their competitors by saying more about themselves and by getting their customers to place real and truthful reports on the service they received. After all, if you were looking for a chiropodist would you not like to know as much about them and the services they provide before you pick up that phone? And if you can read some real reviews about them as well, would that not make all the difference and make it all the more likely that they will get your business.

Another major thing to consider is that when you are using your mobile phone, Google can tell where you are, this means that it often provides ‘local information’ in preference to anything else.

Therefore, if you have claimed and ‘optimised’ your Google Places account you are far more likely to have your listing presented to those potential customers.

In the USA, Local Search (powered by Google Maps amongst others) is becoming more and more popular amongst users, and we can be reasonably certain that this is will happen in the UK (the signs are certainly there) so now is the time for all businesses to take advantage of this free marketing channel.

Google Places – An Example of Why it is so important!

Hopefully, just about every business that wants business (especially local business) will know about the power of Google Places, but if not, well here is just one small example as to why it is so important…

The story is based on personal experience as I needed to pick a place where I could meet my sister so we could hand over a ‘package’ (my father, as he is staying with us for a bit).

My sister was travelling from Kent to Lampeter, so we decided to meet somewhere near Abergevenny, but not in the town as it was too busy and we might miss each other. So we chose Crickhowell,, a little Welsh village. But where to meet there??

This is where Google Places came in, for on the map was a cafe, so we choose that. Sure there are others all about it on the streets, but none of them had a Goolge Place, so we didn’t know they existed.

So, Cafe18 got our business, when otherwise they would have not..

OK, one little visit will not change their business, but imagine the impact over a year or so and under different circumstances for a different business.

It all goes to show that having a Google Places account is something that should not be overlooked.

If you want advice on Google Places Optimisation then please call us.