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Local SEO Factors

Local SEO Factors

Local SEO FactorsAs explained in my last post which covered the definition of SEO, we learned that authority plus relevance equals rank. Search engines typically measure authority by looking at how many actual pages exist on your website, and by analyzing how many other websites link to yours. The more relevant pages you have, and the more relevant and credible links you have linking back to your website, the better your SEO mojo. However, when it comes to local businesses, it would be nearly impossible for your business to rank against big directories, like Yelp and YP, if the same approach were taken.

That’s why for local businesses, the search engines use a different approach. Local SEO is the term used to describe the specific tactics involved in helping local businesses get found and ranked on the search engines. There are 3 factors to consider when thinking about Local SEO.

On-Page SEO

On-Page SEO refers to the content and structure of your businesses website. It’s important that your website prominently displays your NAP (name, address, and phone number) correctly across all pages. The products and services that you offer should be listed. If you offer a wide array of services, create a services page that lists and explains all of the services you offer. If you serve a large community that extends far beyond your physical address, create a page that speaks to the products and services you offer in the various communities you serve. Also, don’t forget a good call to action, coupon, or other offer. In short, make it easy for your website visitors to understand who you are, what you do, why they should use you, and make it super easy for them to know where to call or visit you.

When it comes to website structure, there are so many website building tools and services that ensure your website is structured in a way that makes it easy for the search engines to find and index the information on your site. Website services like those offered through our very own PowerSites® will allow you to have a perfectly structured website with little effort and at an affordable price.

Citations

Citations are your businesses NAP (name, address, and phone) listed across the web. If your NAP is listed on ten different web pages, then you have ten different citations. Since most local business websites don’t have tons of pages nor do they have tons of back links from other websites, the search engines look to citations as a way to measure authority and relevance instead. When it comes to citations, it’s important that your NAP is consistent across all websites and pages. If you have a phone number listed on your Yelp business listing page that differs from your listing on Yahoo! Local, that is not good.

The more consistent and error free your NAP, the more professional and authoritative you look in the eyes of the search engines. Additionally, the way your citations appear across the internet should match the NAP used on your local business’s website. And, if you are trying to get in Google’s good graces, you should make sure you have a Google+ page for your business, again with the same info.

 

 

Reviews

There is a reason why reviews are all the craze. Not only is it proven that consumers are more likely to patronize a business or use their products or services if they have reviews, but the search engines actually favor businesses that have reviews posted on sites like Google+, Yelp, and Facebook. Asking your customers to give you reviews on these sites will not only help your local SEO, but it shows your customers that you care about their feedback. Don’t be afraid to incentivize your customers either. Offer them a discount on their next purchase or service if they write a review for you!

Whatever you do, don’t get bogged down thinking about how you are going to take on these three factors. Local SEO may seem daunting, but any time you think about ranking on the search engines it is important to remember one thing – the search engines are trying to think like humans. When put that way, local SEO is really just a good result of professionally representing your brand online, explaining why people love you, and making sure everyone knows how to get a hold of you.


Drew Fortin is the VP of Marketing at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Local Business Listings.

What is SEO?

What is SEO?

What is SEO?

Photo Credit: SEOPlanter

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the process of affecting a business’s ability to be seen and ranked by the search engines through controlling content and code on your website (aka On-Page SEO) as well as managing relationships with other websites who may write about, or link to, your website (aka Off-Page SEO). The search engines will chose to display your website’s content within the search engine results page, or SERP, if it thinks the topical nature of your website content is relevant to the keyword or phrase a user has searched. It will then use a complex formula, or algorithm, to determine what content to show first.

The age old formula for winning in SEO has always been Authority + Relevance = Rank.

  • Authority can be determined by how large your website is (how many pages are on your website) and how credible you are (how many other websites are linking to your website).
  • Relevance can be determined by the overall topical nature of your website to the search being conducted, how relevant a specific landing page or article of content is, and how recently the piece of content being considered was created.

SEO is all about letting nature take its course and doing things organically. Paying for placement on a website or advertising will not have any impact on your organic ranking. And, trying to cheat the system, i.e. developing linking schemes or paying others to link to link to you, rarely has an impact anymore as the search engines strongly prohibit this practice. In some cases, they will even black list your website if it is connected to the use of prohibited, or black-hat SEO practices.

When SEO was born in the early 2000’s, SEO was really all about trying to manipulate data on your website or developing link schemes within pages on your website and with other websites. Today, SEO is somewhat different, thanks to the constant updates and optimization of the algorithms or formula’s search engines use to determine what content to show you. SEO is less about trying to affect your rankings and more about simply making sure your brand is well established, professionally represented, your website is easy to navigate, and you are hosting unique content that is relevant to the products or services you offer. The more useful and unique content you host on your site, the more opportunity to have for others to find your content and share it with others.

Before social media, really the only way to share content was via writing an article on a website and then referencing someone else’s website or content by linking back to them. Social media has really changed things as a majority of content is shared on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and LinkedIn and linked back to the originating source. All of these back-links, or inbound links, provide signals to the search engines that others have found your content useful, or credible enough to link to you. Although not every link holds equal weight, receiving this organic flow of traffic from these other websites back to your website lets the search engines know you are indeed an authoritative source.

Although the fundamentals of SEO have remained somewhat the same, the search engines have dramatically changed their formulas, or algorithms over the years. Besides inbound links and content on your website, there are dozens of factors and variables that can affect your website’s ability to rank organically. The search engines now take into account:

  • Who is actually conducting a search
  • Where they are physically located
  • What types of websites they are more likely to frequent than others
  • What sort of content is being used (text, photos, video, audio)
  • Who is linking back to you (social influencers, educational institutions, news/media sources)
  • How recent your content was published
  • How rich your content is vs. others
  • How well your website is built
  • And the list goes on and on…

As a business with a website you must be thinking “wow, trying to keep up with SEO is easily a full-time job.” Well, it’s true – there are hundreds, if not thousands of companies, who specialize in helping businesses of all sizes climb the ranks of the search engines. And, although SEO can seem quite daunting and complex, it’s important to remember that the search engines’ ultimate goal is quite simple – to think like you! The goal of the search engines is to show you exactly what you are looking for. Sure, some of you may have been thinking that the search engine’s goal is to make money, but the reality is that they can only make money off of advertising if they constantly strive to create a great user experience that keeps search engine users coming back time and time again.

Part of the user experience is showing content from credible sources. So, keeping to the simple mantra, if you focus on making sure your brand is professionally represented online (across your website, social media, listings, etc.), you take care in regularly updating and providing unique, relevant, and rich content, and you make an effort to share your content and encourage others to digest and share your content, you shouldn’t have to worry about SEO as things will just happen naturally.

Is there more to SEO? Sure there is. However, the search engines are getting smarter and smarter at determining what content to show when. In fact, Google’s latest updates have started to take away much of the control of SEOs, making many of the technical components of SEO industry standards that come with most any website hosting or website creation service. SEO is now more increasingly less about gaming the system and more about focusing on managing your brand and your reputation. Pretty soon, we may see a world absent of any mention of SEO at all!


Drew Fortin is the VP of Marketing at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.

google rankings

The Not-so-Secret Secret of How to Rank Well on Google

So you want to rank well on Google? Well, look no further because PowerSites has the answer. To rank well, or even just rank on Google, it’s best to understand what Google is trying to do. Google as a Search Engine has one goal, to provide the best results to their users as possible. They take in the search query as provided by the user and try to find a list of websites that best fit what Google thinks the user wants.

So how does this help you? Well, as Bill Gates famously said back in 1996 “Content is king.” By having more and relevant content on your website you make it easier for Google to understand what services your company provides. When Google better understands a website they’re more comfortable sending their users to that website.

We talk about a little bit throughout our blog posts about SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. SEO is simply, making it easier for Search Engines (Google, Bing, etc..) to understand the content on your page. So even from an SEO standpoint there is a focus on good quality content. As Google’s Matt Cutts states in a Q&A, even without good SEO Google can still find your content and use that to make sure they provide the best results to their users.

So How do you Rank well? Put yourself in the shoes of your customer, what do they want to know about you and your business. Your website is you, online. What services do you provide? Do you do anything special? What makes you better than your competitor? But don’t forget the basics like where are you located, and when are you open. By providing as much information as possible about your business, Google can understand you, your company, and your website better, which will make it easier for them to refer you to one of their customers.


IMG_9375_600x600Michael Baaske is the Web Product Coordinator at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings. Michael’s worked at the PennySaver for 9 years and is a computer nerd and fan of the cord cutting movement.

How to Create a Marketing Plan

How to Create a Marketing PlanCreating a marketing plan can be a simple process. Any business or organization that spends the time creating their marketing plan will see many benefits. An online presence is incredible and easy to position with an enthusiastic marketing message. Identify the ways you enhance the lives of your target market and determine the greatest presentation that ignites your passion.

Marketing plans are great ways to see the best direction for your company. Plans should include the following:

  • Target Market
  • Demographics of Paying Customers
  • Promotions and Public Relations
  • Product Descriptions
  • Services
  • Online Marketing
  • Timelines
  • Financials

Creating a signature statement for the company is part of the marketing. This is part of the product descriptions. This is similar to an elevator speech with a few power packed statements about the company, the benefit’s to customers, and what great need it serves. What need is the business addressing and how are the customers’ lives better with the company’s products and services being provided. Practice making this inspirational. Rehearse your statements and check with others to obtain feedback on the message you are using to describe your company. Does it inspire them to jump for your number or search through your website? Do they want to quickly learn more about your company?

Website Marketing

Marketing a website is as easy as making everything work right. Your company is part of something fantastic and spreading the word to the world through the Internet is such an amazing opportunity. This is done very quickly with a website and a great marketing plan. Advertising is easier when you really understand your target market and customer base.

It is possible to market your online website with multiple search engines. You can create your website with words that are frequently searched by Google or other search engines. Many call this Search Engine Optimization or SEO and it is used to create more traffic for your online presence.

Online marketing is better when you are able to present your message clearly. Marketing a site is faster after your concepts are prepared. Advertising is a fantastic way to promote your website. Most advertising for websites is a short blurb about your products or services. These blurbs could be catchy and enthralling. The short catchy phrases are remembered when they are fun or match up with your customers’ needs.

Timelines are best to create when you’re in a good mood. A timeline includes how many customers you get and how long it will take. Arranging your customer list is as easy as writing it down and demanding it. Predicting the financial projections is important so make sure that you understand what each customer is worth to your company.

Plans are simple if you know what you want to include. You can add or delete depending on what feels right. The marketing for your company should be exciting, and then it’s easier to do. Have fun while creating your plan and make sure you agree it’s superb, and exactly what you want for your small business.

Foursquare and Yelp: The New SEO

Foursquare and Yelp: The New SEOSEO used to mean “keywords” and, well, that was about it. Eventually Google started to use more sophisticated formulas and algorithms to turn out results, and SEO started to depend more on a science of striking the right balance of keywords and phrases. Now, SEO is a much more intensive and all encompassing part of your marketing strategy. It’s simply not enough to have the right keywords anymore, now you need to have the right keywords in the right place, you need to improve your rank on sites like Yelp and Foursquare and get good reviews on Google Places. Keywords simply aren’t enough anymore.

If you have a small business, here are a few marketing tips to getting what you need out of sites like Foursquare and Yelp:

  • Engage With Your Reviewers

    The more you engage with your reviewers, the better you’re going to do on these sites because people like to know for certain that their voices are being heard by the people who need to hear them. Thank the positive reviewers and ask for an opportunity to make it up to the people who had a bad experience. Customer engagement does not occur in a void.

  • Link But Don’t Pressure

    Letting your customers know that you have a listing on Yelp and on Foursquare is a great idea. Begging them for a review at every opportunity is not only obnoxious, it’s discouraged. Take the time to link to these sites in your signature, mention your Yelp presence in your newsletter, but don’t beg your customers for reviews or they’ll think of it as an unwanted obligation.

  • Develop a Multimedia Presence

    Including multimedia in your corporate profile on these sites is a good way to kick start engagement by simply adding a little more color and life. In fact, you may simply consider this to be a part of completing your profile, making it feel more robust and substantial. People don’t always want to contribute a review if it’s going to be the sole piece of real content on the site, so building a real presence on these sites means that your customers don’t have to do that for you.

The more you use Foursquare and Yelp, the higher your SEO ranking is going to climb when it comes to Google results for your niche. SEOis about more than just using the right search terms in your content now. Today, search engine optimization means creating the kind of results that people actually want to find, not just the results that Google will give them. This means making use of sites like Foursquare and Yelp to get the word out about your business.

This is the trick to marketing in the new decade: your customer base is your new marketing team. It’s your job to give them a message that they can run with and a product or service that they can get behind.

What does SEO mean?

If you are a small business owner or a webmaster you’ve probably heard mention of, or seen the term SEO mixed in with all of the other marketing tips you may be receiving. And if you are like many just beginning to create a web presence for yourself, you already understand the necessity of having a site that ranks high on the list of search engine results. However, you may not fully understand how the process of search engine optimization, or SEO, works.

So, what exactly is search engine optimization, you ask? That is the process businesses rely upon to get their websites coming up on the first page of search engine results whenever someone searches for something related to that particular site. It is basically based on the concept of keywords, or words people might type into a search engine when looking for something like what your site has to offer.

Photo Credit: SEOPlanter

Here’s a quick, basic example:
For instance, say Mr. Kitty has a website called Purrfectlyfunny.com. This website sells delightful toys for irritating those pesky masters. Now, the goal of search engine optimization is to figure out what kinds of searches might lead a person to this website, and optimize your chances of being found. Perhaps, one of Mr. Kitty’s customers strides over to a computer and puts the phrase “hair ball” into a search engine like Google.

Well, what do you know? Purrfectlyfunny.com happens to sell hair balls of all shapes, sizes, and consistencies. Oh, yes, they have just the right one for this customer to use for irritating his owner. The only problem is that Mr. Kitty’s website does not show up on even the first few pages of the results, and this means that Purrfectlyfunny.com will likely not be found by the customer.

But, the good news is that Mr. Kitty now has an idea of what sort of searches might lead a prospective customer to his site. He can now incorporate these keywords, or key phrases as the case may be, into his web content. By strategically placing these keywords on various web pages throughout the site, the search engines will be able to decide where Mr. Kitty’s website falls in the relevance category when displaying results. The more relevant to the search, the higher Mr. Kitty’s site will be displayed on the results page.

Now that you have a basic understanding of what this process is, you might also want to keep in mind that there are other factors that influence the way an engine determines a site’s ranking in the search results. In example, just as search words matter, so do title words. Often a web page’s title is a tell-tale sign as to what kind of information is located on that page. If a customer is searching for “big, bad, nasty hair ball” and Mr. Kitty has a page entitled How to Find the Biggest, Most Nasty Hairballs then Mr. Kitty’s page is likely to be among the top results.

Lastly, links from other websites to your website are important. However, not just any links. Search engines like Google or Bing take into account the reputation of the sites linking your site to theirs. Those with links from well established websites will receive higher attention. It is seen as a kind or recommendation.

If you keep these things in mind, you can build your business its very own SEO-friendly website. Knowing just a bit about it helps any website go a long way, but there are also companies like PowerClicks that provide search engine optimization services for small businesses to ease the burden on small business owners.

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Want to be found on the first page of Google?

Google is the most popular search engine on the internet, and increasing your Google ranking is the surest way to increase your small business website response rates. While it’s often been said that content is king on the internet, when it comes to Google ranks, links are a closely-held second place queen. If you don’t already have a website for your small business, PowerSites can help.

One key method to improve your Google ranking is to increase the number of high-quality back links you have to your site. In addition to creating more back links, here are 5 more ways to increase your Google ranking:

  • Evergreen Content

    Staying current is important when it comes to website content, but if you want to consistently rank higher on Google, evergreen content is the key. One of the most important marketing tips given by almost every expert is to create content that has staying power. If it’s relevant a year from now, readers will still find value in your posts and will stay on the site longer. This translates to more sales and more repeat customers. Readers who only find last years’ news on your site will be left wondering how else you’ve fallen behind the times.

  • Increase your Google Ranking

  • Keywords

    Use Google’s Keyword Tool to find useful search terms for your particular business. Customers looking for your type of product or service will search online using specific phrases. Search engine optimization, or SEO, aims to take advantage of these common search phrases by sprinkling them into pages on your site where Google can pick up on them when performing a search. Look for phrases that have a relatively high search number and a relatively low competition. If you need help with starting your SEO campaign, contact our PowerClicks team today.

  • Guest Blogging

    Contact website owners in related fields and offer to write a guest blog post in exchange for a link back to your site. Bloggers are almost always open to guest bloggers, as it gives an exciting new flavor for their readers to sample. You’ll get the word out there about your small business, get a valuable link back to your site and maybe increase your readership and fan base. Stick with blogs where you have a great amount of knowledge on the subject matter, or where you are an acknowledged expert on the topic, for the best impact. Come back in the days after your post appears to answer any questions or comments the readers may post.

  • Video

    According to Mashable Business, posting videos on your site can increase your rankings dramatically. Video can put a face on your business and convey a sense of the company culture and attitude. If you’re known as friendly, helpful or knowledgeable, create a series of small videos that demonstrate those traits. Google likes video, and shows it appropriately in its rankings.

  • Update Regularly

    One of the oldest and most valuable small business tips for website owners is to update your website or blog on a regular basis. There’s no need to post every day if you don’t have anything new to say, but create a schedule and stick to it. Regular readers and customers will begin to count on seeing new posts, and will be disappointed if they don’t appear.

Tips to Improve Your Sales Results

Small business owners are in business to create sales and profits. Here are a few thoughts on ways that you can improve your sales and find new local customers. These small business marketing tips will help you become more successful.

  • It is important to have a good marketing plan in place. You need to know who your potential customers are and understand what they want. If you’re not sure where to start, refer to our blog on how to increase repeat customers.

  • If you don’t already have an online presence, you should consider creating a web site. You may not know how to create a web site but there are many people or companies who can do this for you at a reasonable cost. PowerSites can help you get your website up and running. These days, when people are searching for a local business to help them, they often go to Google first.

  • Improve your Sales with these Marketing TipsYou can use email marketing to grow your customer base and stay in contact with your current customers. You should have a way to collect customers email addresses. Then you can email them on a regular basis to keep your business name in front of them and to offer them specials. Remember to take care of your existing customers. People who have bought from you are the most likely to buy from you again. Email is one good way to stay in touch with these existing customers.

  • You can also increase your emphasis on word of mouth referrals to your company. If you already have satisfied local customers, they can be your best source of new customers. Create an incentive program for referrals. Offer something that makes it worthwhile for your satisfied customers to recommend you to their friends.

  • Another way to improve sales is to talk with your existing customers. Ask them what they think you’re doing well and what areas you could improve in. They will be happy you asked, and you will get some valuable feedback. You can do this in person or you may try using social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

  • You always want to be easily accessible to your clients and potential customers. They need to be able to reach you easily when they are looking for you. If they do a Google search, you want them to find your website, with an enticing one sentence description and your phone number, listed prominently. This is where SEO comes in. If you’re not sure where to start, let PowerClicks help you.

These small business tips will prove to be very useful to your business once they’re implemented properly and executed. I hope these help you improve sales and grow your business.

We all have our favorite sales tips to use and pass on to others. Share these tips with others and/or comment below and share some of your favorite small business tips!

Make Your Business More Visible Online and Offline

Being visible brings customers to a small business. It’s an age-old axiom, and in modern business it’s practiced regularly through marketing and advertising. Yet visibility starts with first understanding where the business is today and where it needs to be to get in front of customers.

Imagine for a moment, you’re a tourist in your town. You need a particular product or service but it’s the first time you’ve ever visited the location. What would you do first to find that service or product? If in a highly urban area today, most people would use their mobile device and some kind of app to locate local businesses quickly that serve the need and are within reach. However, let’s say the town is a bit off the beaten path and your cell signal isn’t that great. Most people then revert back to the traditional tools available, which generally include the local yellow pages, the newspaper, local classified ads, and finally referrals by a local, knowledgeable person.

A business desiring to improve being seen locally can only hope to influence people into becoming reliable referrals, but it can definitely do something about placement and visibility in local papers, phone books and local searches on the Internet as well.

Consider the following marketing tips:

Business Listings

List your business in the yellow pagesThe phone book is an easy avenue to initiate. However, it’s only effective when caught at the beginning of the printing cycle. Otherwise a business has to wait for the next printing, which usually occurs once a year. However, you can now add your business to online business directories, listings and review sites, such as YellowPages.com, or Yelp.com. Make sure that the information listed for your business is always accurate.

Get a Website

Small Business Tips: Get a Website with PowerSites

In this technology-fueled world, if you have a business, you NEED to have a website. If you don’t already have one, let PowerSites help you. Once you have your own website up and running, make sure that all listings and pages about your business link back to your website. This includes your Yelp page, yellowpages.com listing, Facebook Page, Twitter Account, Google+, and any other business listing or social media page.

Search Engine Optimization

With the website established and complete with necessary information and the critical contact data included, the website needs to be profiledand listed on search engines to be picked up. A business has two options for this part: pay for a better search engine listing position or make the website real interesting with constantly changing content and SEO. If one doesn’t have the time for daily website work, Entrepreneur Magazine suggests paying for the search engine ranking spot may be the better way to go. If you’re a local business owner looking to try paid search, you don’t have to go it alone. Check out PennySaverUSA.com‘s paid search service, PowerClicks.

Print Ads

Finally, print ads still matter. While it may sound old-fashioned, newspaper and classified ads still work exceptionally well in driving local customers to a business. Local papers and classified ads still provide key links for locals and visitors to quickly find services they are looking for in the immediate area. It’s also a great way to attract new customers, by enticing them with offers and coupons.

So, to boost online and offline awareness a small business should work on multiple levels of advertising, as noted above, simultaneously. This covers both traditional and technological ways of marketing for products and services. It also covers a wide generational spectrum of customers, which can mean more business and more awareness overall.

7 Tips for Local Search Optimization

Local search optimization doesn’t have to be hard. If you can afford a consultant, great, but you don’t need one to make an impact on the local marketplace. Here are a few tips for improving your local search marketing efforts:

1. Be Easy to Find

A newspaper or classified ad seen by thousands of people in your town doesn’t do you much good if you don’t include your phone number, official website URL, product listings and other details. With things like QR codes, it’s easier than ever to let people find you on the web through local print ads, and of course, you shouldn’t even be wasting time on online local marketing without putting your information out there.

2. Focus on the Important Keywords

Keyword stuffing looks bad and it looks desperate. Give people what they’re looking for with sharp SEO for hyper local marketing, but don’t overwhelm them with keyword stuffing. Focus on important keywords.

3. Establish a Visual Presence

Your corporate logo, pictures of your store and videos can all be a tremendous help in establishing your brand. The web makes it easy to advertise with multimedia, don’t ignore the opportunity. Use the appropriate social media channels to expand your reach and communicate with your customers.

4. Check for False Listings

Browse the local phone book and search listing sites to make sure that your information is correct. Check to make sure that you don’t have the same name as some other store in town, and try to establish a distinctive identity in the local community.

5. Keep People Up to Date

Verify all of your listings and keep them up to date. Your Facebook account is doing you no favors if it still lists your old address and website URL.

6. Coupons and Sales Still Work

Many small business owners get so obsessed with web marketing and new developments in local marketing that they forget that the old tricks are still, sometimes, the best. Don’t neglect coupons, and use the web to get them into more people’s hands.

7. Study Your Analytics

And don’t just study them, do something about them. Pursue the marketing channels that are working, fix or drop the ones that aren’t. Analytics aren’t just there as a status symbol for businesses, they are there to let you know what works and what doesn’t. If you’re not adjusting for the data that analytics produce, then why use them at all? Track, study, research and adjust based on the numbers you’re getting.