Local SEO And Keyword Permutations

Local SEO can be a lot of fun. It’s really all about geo-targeting your content to your specific local geographic area and surrounding communities. But I’ve noticed that many small business owners, and their SEO consultants, like to use the same keyword variations and local geo-targeted city names multiple times by mixing up the order. Here’s an example of what I mean:

  • Ayrshire, Scotland business marketing
  • Ayrshire business marketing
  • Business marketing Ayrshire, Scotland
  • Business marketing Ayrshire
  • Marketing business Ayrshire, Scotland
  • Marketing business Ayrshire

Is all of that really necessary?

The idea is to use every variation of your keyword phrases that you can in hopes that you will rank for each variation. The problem is this kind of keyword generation can lead to some awkward phrases. Sometimes the keyword phrases are unintelligible depending on the niche.

I’d prefer to recommend to small business owners to pick a sensible variation of your keyword phrase and local geo-targeted term and pair them up so that you can use them naturally within your content. If you use a keyword that doesn’t make sense though it might help you rank better in the search engines, then you could lose the trust of your readership before you ever gain it. That certainly wouldn’t be good for your business.

This type of local SEO faux pas is easily preventable. Don’t lose sight of the end goal for a short term gain.

June 18th, 2012 / Local Search

Google Is Making Changes Again

Google can’t seem to go a day without making a tweak that shakes things up again. The latest change – or need I say changes? – is the integration of Google Local into Google+. And on top of that the search engine giant has removed the stars from its Google Local reviews.

This will undoubtedly change how users interact with Google Local. You’ll likely see fewer reviews on your Google Local page.

I agree with Mike Blumenthal. It simply illustrates that authorship is now the important element in your content publishing strategy. Make sure that you are using authorship markup on your pages and that you are claiming authorship across all of your properties. That will increase your personal reputation online and give your brand a boost.

With the integration of Google Local into Google+ it is now imperative that your local brand migrate to using Google+. Not just for SEO reasons either. But also for brand development and the opportunity to push out to a wider circle of online prospects.

I know what Google is up to. They want everyone to have a Google+ account. It is your Google+ account where things are going to start happening for savvy webmasters and if you don’t sign up for one, then you’ll be behind the curve ball where online marketing is concerned.

Want to know another recent change Google made? They’re doing away with Webmaster Tools and making it a part of Google Analytics. What do you say? Is that an improvement?

June 2nd, 2012 / Local Search

Local Contact Information And Your Website

There are a myriad of reasons for including your company’s local contact information on your website. SEO is just one reason. The main reason for including your contact information is so that people searching for your company can find you easily and get on with calling you for business.

This might seem like a no-brainer, and it really is. But you’d be surprised at how many business’s don’t include their local contact information on their website.

We live in an age when more than 50% of the population will go online to conduct a search for a local business. And I’m not just talking about a generic search. I’m talking about a specific search for your business by name. They used to use the Yellow Pages, or business phone book. But not any more. Today they use Google. So what’s going to happen when someone searches for your business by name and finds your website? Will your contact information be visible on the home page? It should be.

You want your phone number, physical address, and your e-mail contact information to be visible on your website. Most people will call you if they are looking for your business specifically. At the very least, you should include a contact form on your website.

But a contact form isn’t enough. People want to know where you are located, so include your physical address. If you don’t want people showing up at your location because you work out of your home, then at least include the city and state, or country/region. That’s for SEO purposes. But it’s also to let people in that community know that you are local. People want to do business with local companies.

Your contact information is the most important information to include on your website. Make sure it is there.

April 19th, 2012 / Local Search

Your Google Places Address

If you have a Google Places listing, I’d bet you never thought you’d see the day when you would have to hide your address. You likely never thought you’d want to hide your address. But after you read this article at SEOmoz, you may very well rush to your Google Places listing and do just that.

We all know there are different types of business. Local businesses and global businesses are two types.

Google Places was designed for local businesses. If you don’t do business with local clients, then you don’t need a Google Places listing. But what if you do? Then there are several types of business categories you might fit into.

  • A business with a local business address
  • A home-based business that services customers in a home office or at their location
  • A home-based business that doesn’t service customers in the home office

Which type of business are you?

If your business is a home-based business that doesn’t have a place to service customers locally, then you may find your Google Places listing disappearing – unless you hide your physical address.

Wouldn’t that defeat the purpose? Wouldn’t it make your local search results less effective?

Yes. No.

You can still have a Google Places listing, and it would result in diminished search results if your physical address isn’t showing. But it won’t kill your Google Places listing altogether, which could happen if you fail to hide your physical address. Oh, the dilemma.

Ask yourself this question: How much business has my Google Places listing actually brought me?

If you don’t think you’d lose that much local business by hiding your physical address, then go ahead and do it. But if you take the risk of not hiding it and Google finds out, then know that your Google Places listing could disappear. Local SEO is not an exact science. Do the right thing for your business.

March 26th, 2012 / Local Search

The Importance Of Phone Numbers In Search

A local search study shows that people search for local business phone numbers, addresses, and hours of operation more than any other information about a business. This is an important concept for local Scotland businesses to grasp. Sooner rather than later.

I have actually heard of people conducting searches for phone numbers. But that’s another story.

Let’s say that someone in your neck of the woods knows your business name and wants to contact you. They Google your name. What happens if they don’t find any information on you? Better yet, what happens if they find your website or a social networking profile and your phone number or business address are not listed? Chance are, they’ll go to your competition.

That’s precisely what you don’t want to happen.

Since an overwhelming majority of local searchers want to find your phone number, address, and hours of operation, it makes sense that you do everything possible to ensure they find that information. That includes:

  • Claiming your Google Place page and keeping it up to date
  • Prominently displaying your phone number, business address, and hours of operation on your website
  • Submitting your business to local search directories like Yelp, CityPages, etc.
  • Building a Facebook brand page for your business and making sure you add your phone number, business address, and hours of operation on your brand page

That last point is vitally important. More people are actually searching the social networks for local business information. And 91% of the people who do use Facebook to do it.

Don’t be an enigma. Make your contact information front and center on the Web.

March 5th, 2012 / Local Search

3 Local Search Ranking Factors You Should Be Concerned About

When it comes local search, it works much the same way as universal web search with a few additional ranking factors to consider. Today, I’m going to talk about 3 local search ranking factors that I think are important and that you should give serious consideration to if you want to rank for your business website.

  1. Internal link anchor text – Internal links are important. These are links that link one page of your website to another. Whether we’re talking about static pages that link to each other or your blog that links to a static page, your anchor text is very important. You should link your pages using the most relevant anchor text possible.
  2. Inbound link anchor text – Just as internal link anchor text is important, so is inbound link anchor text. Anchor text is a key ranking factor for all links. Make sure you spend considerable time focusing on relevant anchor text for every page on your website.
  3. Geotargeted on-page content - Another ranking factor that you should consider for your local business website are geotargeted search phrases. It’s not enough to simply rely on your niche-related keywords. You should include geotargeted search phrases as well. For instance, “Scotland SEO” is an example of a geotargeted relevant search phrase. This can be narrowed down to cities and regions within the country. Use your geotargeted phrases in your website content.

These are just three local search ranking factors. There are plenty more including information you’ll find in your search engine Place pages.

February 29th, 2012 / Local Search

Google Is Tweaking Local Search – Again

Google is constantly seeking to improve its search algorithms. They’ve noted in a blog post (yesterday) that they’ve made 40 algorithm changes in the month of February 2012 and that sets a new record. Two of the changes have to do with local search.

Here are those two changes, in the words of Google:

Change #1

Improvements to ranking for local search results. [launch codename “Venice”] This improvement improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.

Change #2

Improved local results. We launched a new system to find results from a user’s city more reliably. Now we’re better able to detect when both queries and documents are local to the user.

You would think that Change #1 would automatically lead to the effect of Change #2. I have no doubt that it did, but we must ask why Change #2 is necessary is Change #1 is so good. I think what Google is saying is that they’ve implemented a system that allows them to quickly find local documents that match local queries.

Change #1 has more to do with using traditional SEO to improve local search results. That’s a change that has been a long time coming.

So how do these two changes affect Scotland businesses? I’d say they have huge consequences for positioning your business in local search. For instance, if you are a local Scotland business, then you should do a fair amount of geotargeting in order to increase your exposure to local search terms. Don’t just rely on your Google Places listing, in other words.

I like these changes, but some of the other 40 changes this month could prove to be a big deal as well.

February 28th, 2012 / Local Search

Local Marketing And The iPhone

An article in Search Marketing Standard lists 4 out of 5 methods of marketing that are primarily iPhone or smartphone related.

According to the article, mobile marketing is the way to get your business moving in 2012. I agree. Here are two statistics you should know: 40% of Google mobile queries are local and 70% of smartphone users use their phones while shopping in store. That spells it out for you, doesn’t it?

Then there are the deals websites like Groupon. How many people do you know receive coupons on their cell phones? Almost everybody I know.

Location-based iPhone apps are more likely to share purchasing information with other mobile users. While a lot of attention of late has been focused on an Amazon app that lets shoppers compare prices while shopping in store and then to make a purchase if Amazon’s price is cheaper, I still think that many people prefer to shop locally. iPhone apps are a great opportunity to encourage local shopping.

Finally, localization is better – much better – with mobile marketing. If you operate a chain store, then you can increase your local marketing initiatives with mobile marketing and iPhone/smartphone apps.

This is clearly the age of mobile marketing. When you think about local marketing and mobile marketing, you can think of them as synonymous. They really are.

December 20th, 2011 / Local Search

The Google Places Mystery Meat

Mike Blumenthal wrote an interesting post about Google Places. It seems one small business owner got irate with Google for de-indexing her website – or maybe just dropping her in the rankings.

The secret sauce in Google Places has an interesting flavor. Of course, like a lot of things in life, there are no guarantees.

What you need to understand about Google Places listings is that they are based on location. For instance, if a searcher in south Ayrshire is looking for an auto mechanic, the listings for auto mechanics that searcher will be based on proximity to the searcher’s location. The closer, the higher the ranking.

Flip that around. The searcher is on the northern end of Ayrshire and searching for an auto mechanic. That searcher will see an entirely different list. The higher ranked mechanics will be located closer to the searcher’s location on the north.

That’s not the only criteria, of course. Other things matter, too. But location is a huge part of ranking in Google Places. Don’t think that you are left out in the cold just because someone on the other side of town can’t see your business. It may be that there is a lot of competition between you and that searcher’s location.

September 12th, 2011 / Local Search

How Google Maps Works

Some people are a bit confused about the difference between Google Places and Google Maps. The difference is really subtle.

With Google Places, you can claim your business listing and updated it. People can use Google Places to search for businesses and develop a network of local friends. However, when you update your Google Places listing, it can also be found by searchers using Google Maps.

Google Maps operates on three primary ranking factors:

  • Location
  • Relevance
  • Prominence

The location factor returns your business if it is in close enough proximity to where the searcher is located. For example, if an Ayrshire resident is looking for an SEO company and they search “ayrshire, scotland bakery”, they’ll get back a list of bakeries in the Ayrshire, Scotland area. If they search for bakeries in Maybole, however, they’ll get a new list of bakeries with different rankings.

The relevance factor has to do with whether or not you place your business in the right category, use the proper keywords in your business description, and other related SEO factors.

Prominence has more to do with how users view your business in relation to other businesses within the location and relevance factors. This is judged by your ratings and reviews and whether or not your business has been saved in user’s maps and favorite places.

So there you have it in a nutshell. If you want to rank well in Google Maps, focus on location, relevance, and prominence.

July 23rd, 2011 / Local Search