Category Archives: Organic search and SEO

How to Optimize for Local Search

It used to be a given that everyone in business needed to be listed in the local telephone book.

Now, everyone in business needs to be online, optimized for local search.

If you ever wondered if Take Control put too much emphasis on setting up your Google Business page, please take a moment to read this post from WordTracker.com – How to get famous in your neighborhood – local search optimization.

For people in small towns, local search seems like something you DON’T want to stress if you’re trying to attract customers from out of your immediate area. But the thing is, with smartphones, local search puts you in touch with everyone whose passing through and looking for services like yours.

Someone on the highway driving past can find you more easily if you’ve optimized for local search.

Locals who’ve given up using telephone books will find you more easily if you’ve optimized for local search. Anyone, anywhere, who puts your town or area name into their organic search for services like yours will find you if you’re optimized for local search. Get busy and set up your business profile at  https://www.google.com/business/ and keep it updated.

Google continues to add new search features that make the organic search results look different from what you see in the Take Control videos. But the centerpiece of so much of what they do with businesses goes back to that Google Business page.

Keep it updated regardless of whether you have a business page on Google+. I can’t predict what will happen next at Google or Bing or Yahoo!. But keeping your local business listing up to date on each of these search engines will give you the added oomph needed to stay ahead in organic search results.

I talk often about Google, but with a new kick butt CEO, who knows what will happen with Yahoo! Keep your listing current there too.

If you don’t look at your review sites. If you just don’t have time and money to optimize your old website. Do your business a big favor and optimize for local search by getting that local business page up and optimized on Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Have You Checked Your Search Engine Traffic Lately?

Google’s been at it again.

search engine traffic graph

Search engines are constantly changing. They have to, to stay ahead of people using so called “black hat” methods to manhandle their websites to the top 10 search results. Google is dedicated to giving searchers the best possible search results, NOT mangled results caused by someone gaming the system.

So you and every other business owner needs to stay on top of search engine changes. Google and the other big search engines are getting better and better at almost reading searchers’ minds.

Because we stress the importance of providing content on your website that your customer needs and wants, we’re fairly certain that you’ll weather all the Google changes pretty well.

The websites that are overly focused on their products and services, overusing certain keyword phrases without backing up those keywords with additional good content are going to get punished.

Your website isn’t a fix it and forget it billboard.

You should be aware of what kind of traffic you’re getting to your site,

  • checking regularly to see if traffic is changing,
  • learning which pages are getting the most attention,
  • reviewing what keyword phrases are generating the most traffic.

Google Analytics can help you easily do this and it’s free. Setting up Analytics is simple. Signing up for a Google account will be your first step. If you have a Google Business Page (which you should) or a gmail account, you have a Google account.

For a complete guide and step by step instructions for using Google Analytics, go to the Google Analytics training site. There is hugely more information there than you may need, but if you’re a data lover, you’re going to be amazed by what Analytics can show you about your website traffic.

Have your webmaster add the necessary scripts for Google Analytics to begin tracking your traffic. It’s important to do this. Google Analytics makes it possible to act strategically as you work on your website.

Organic search is still incredibly valuable according to recent studies, so paying attention to your search engine placement is vital to your business success.

You’re too busy to spend time on website related activities that won’t improve your search engine placement. Besides knowing and understanding your customer’s needs and wants, Analytics data is your best free option.

Here’s more useful info about Google:

How Google Decides That You Deserve To Be On Page One

 

Image from Yahoo Small Business Advisor along with an interesting article

 

 

 

 

How Google Decides That You Deserve To Be On Page One

eyeball by Thomas TolkeinI had a frantic call and several emails this week from a client who understands how much her business depends on good internet marketing. In a routine check, she had dropped off page 1 for several of her keyword phrases!

She’s a great internet marketer with 3 identified Perfect Customer types, excellent content on her website and a robust social media presence.

I googled one of her suspected keyword phrases, and there she was, in #3 placement on page 1!

What does this mean? How can searches done hours apart result in such different results?

There are several important factors you need to know about Google search results:

What you see when you search is not necessarily what your potential customer sees.

Google has the ability to compile search results that are based on a searcher’s past search history – their past searches and past interest in the subject.

What you see on Google page one for your search is determine by more than what you think you’re asking for.

The engineers at Google study search patterns and add features to their algorithm based on what they learn.

It turns out that they have studied enough searches to be able to determine the intention of a search: whether we’re searching for information, to purchase or to navigate to a specific place on a website!

We “unique” humans act in pretty predictable ways that allow search engines to know our intentions! This is good for us as searchers, because it means that the results that we get are more useful.

It makes life more difficult for we business owners trying our best to land on search page one for our most important keyword phrases!

What you can do to improve your relationship with Google.

You can’t afford to have an SEO on staff (yes, there is a whole class of experts that do nothing but try to keep up with Google! In the Middle Ages, we called them Alchemists.)

But, you can do some simple things  on your own to stay on Google’s radar for your most important keyword phrases. Some of these things seem strange, but it is all part of proving your authority and legitimacy as a small business owner.

Remember, Google keeps tabs on every business of any size in every country in the world! Give them what they need to know you’re for real – it’s an important first step.

1. Set up your Google Local Business Page, filled out completely and exactly to Google’s specifications. (We teach you how in the first lessons here at Take Control)

2. Set up a presence at LinkedIn. This is the first time I’ve suggested this because I wasn’t sure about it’s importance. Now, I’m convinced.

Go to LinkedIn, and set up your profile – It will take you less than an hour to put in enough details to prove your legitimacy. While you’re there, join a group of two that is geared to your industry. I’ve discovered these to be useful and interesting. If you join in the discussion once in a while, that interaction contributes to your authority.

3. Set up a social media page for your business where your customers are congregating (probably Facebook to get started). Post information and newsy tidbits about your business, link to your website and reply to likes and comments made by your followers/friends/likers.

4. Have an “about” page on your website with your name, contact information and links to your social media pages. That is all for Google. For your customer, flesh out your about page with content about you and your business. For most microbusinesses – actually all – you ARE your business, so use that about page to talk about yourself and add a picture as well.

NOTE: Your contact information is also called your “citation.” It’s one of the ways Google tracks you so be sure your citation is exactly the same everywhere from you online presence to your business cards that customers use to reach you both online and off.

5. Join your local Chamber of Commerce and be sure your business is listed properly, with a link to your website. Join any trade or professional organization associated with your industry and do the same. It shows Google that you’re legit., and if you post those connections on your about page or somewhere else on your website, they add to your authority with your customer.

6. Here’s something you don’t have much control of, but over time, searches that specifically ask for your business name increase your authority.

How do you get that? Offline marketing. Is your website listed on your business card? Are you passing out tons of those business cards everywhere you go?

What about everything else that you produce? Labels? Receipts?

7. Proof of location and address – your citation. Easy Peasy. Your address should be everywhere.

Do these seven things and at the same time keep your website content focused on serving the needs and desires of your Perfect Customer(s) and you’ll do fine, no matter what Google throws at us next.

Photo by Thomas Tolkein

 

What the h)&#$! Are Citations and Why Should I Care!?!

Preparing for a day-long workshop on internet marketing always brings me back to basics.

mary poppins silhouetteI am struck by what a challenge small local business owners face, trying to sort through all the marketing advice, trainings, do’s and don’ts we so freely and effusively share!

As I prepared for the workshop I returned to my old mantra, “Simple, doable steps.” Not because the small business owners I talk to are incapable of understanding “difficult and theoretical,” but because nobody but a few slightly nutty people like me go into business to do marketing!!

You and they go into business to do what you love and marketing is a necessary, often bitter pill that is a huge part of being successful.

And right now, internet marketing is the Hugest (is that even a word???) part of that bitter pill, thus a spoon full of sugar called  “simple and doable steps.” Just call me the Mary Poppins of internet marketing!!

Back to the simple and doable step called Citations

As I discussed in the workshop, there are two vitally important ways to connect with your Perfect Customer online.

  • The first is by showing up at the top of organic search results usually at Google.
  • The second is being other places online where people are searching for information. (We won’t be talking about this one today.)

Citations are a simple, doable and POWERFUL way to show up well in those organic search results.

In internet speak, a citation is simply your business name, your address and your telephone number. Period. Nothing more, nothing less. It doesn’t have to be a link to your website. It just needs to be listed pretty much exactly the same in many different places.

“How,” you might ask, “Can something so easy power me to the top of a Google organic search?”

The answer is many fold.

  1. First, we all know that local search is what is powering the internet. When people search for a dentist or a restaurant or a store selling fishing flies, they probably want one close by.
  2. Secondly, Google, in order to dish out the most relevant local results, needs to know where your business is.
  3. Thirdly, Google needs proof that you’re legit by multiple appearances on the internet of that name, address and phone number.

Getting citations out there is about the easiest internet marketing thing you can do!!

Start by setting up your Google Business page. This will actually have the effect of giving you a spot on Google Maps with your Citations.

One suggestion I’ve seen in several trusted locations online is to look at how your citation is written at Google Maps and copy it elsewhere. That means copying everything. Spelling out BLVD.  or RD if that’s the way it’s listed and putting your telephone area code in parentheses, again, if that’s the way it looks at Google Maps.

And the biggie is to be sure you list your business name the same way everywhere. Some people think that it’s advantageous to stuff a few keywords into your business name in listings. Don’t do it! Google will be angry, and you don’t want to make Google angry!

Then, google yourself to see where else you are listed. Correct your citations in places where you can. Places like directories and review sites. Set up a Google Alert for your business name to get regular updates about when and where your business is being talked about online. Again, change any incorrect citations that pop up, if you can.

Get your citation out there. Join your local Chamber of Commerce and be sure to get listed with any professional organizations. Get listed in any online directories and review sites.

Simple and doable. Just publish your name, address and phone number using these suggestions and watch what happens to your organic local search results.

All this is covered in Module One here at Take Control.