Search Engine Ranking
Wednesday, June 11th, 2008
Welcome back to our two part (maybe more!) series that talks about simple and essential methods that you can use to start gaining a respectable rank in what’s called the “local” search engine results from Google. You know what I mean – when you type in a geographical location keyword – then followed by some sort of service, e.g. “Los Angeles Pizza Delivery”. Google returns a list of ten local businesses depending on what you typed in, with a map to the left of it.
The reason it’s important for your business to appear in these listings for all the services or local products that you sell, is because your average internet user, who is searching for something in particular, will typically click within the first range of results that the see. In the case of local searches, chances are, they’re going to click one of those ten local results that come up – and that’s what we went over in the first part of the series, along with different tactics you can use to get your business ranked within those ten phrases on keywords and keyphrases that are important to you.
In the first part of this local seo series, we talked about three aspects of local SEO:
1. Make sure to include the phrases you want people to find you by, on your actual website. For example, if you want consumers to find you by typing in “Boston Italian Restaurant” – then it would be in your best interest to work that phrase in your site somewhere.
2. Update all of your business listings in the big online yellow pages sites. It may take a days work to do it, but its well worth it to have accurate listings.
3. Encourage, but don’t demand reviews of your business. Google provides customers a way to review a business that they’ve used that shows up in local results. Not sure what kind of a factor it plays in rankings – but it doesn’t hurt, mainly for giving a potential customer piece of mind AND it helps them decide on which service to use. For example, if your listing has 4 good reviews, and your competitor has none, who do you think they’ll pick? You!
Photo Courtesy Of A30 Tsitika
So, today, let’s talk about other important factors of getting ranked in the local search results. I’ll do these in list form so that it’s easier to scan and pick up key points.
1. Make your address well known. Make sure to include your business address and telephone number on your page (usually in the footer) of every possible page of your site. Mainly, you want this text to be crawlable, and a general rule of thumb is – if you can highlight it, Google can see it.
2. Google Local Business Center – Have you actually taken the time to add your site to the Google Local Business Center? This is perhaps one of the most important steps you can take to get listed, and even if you are listed, make sure to sign up and edit your business info so that it’s completely accurate.
3. Longevity is key. The longer your business is ranked in the local results, the higher you’ll rank over time. Fly by night and new businesses don’t have a real chance at outranking the vets. So if your business is new, you’ll have to suffer through a period of time where Google decides to trust if you’re in it for the long haul or not. Editing all of your local listings should help – as it shows you made an effort to get everything right, telling big G that you’ll be around for the long haul. Another trick that comes from the regular SEO world – register the domain name of your business for the maximum term. It’s been said that Google checks WHOIS data, and if they see you’re registered for a long time, they may lend more trust to your site.
4. Incoming links are like big shiny diamonds. Probably the most important part of this entire ordeal, especially for the long run, is the amount of people linking to your website. Just like in regular SEO, links are what puts you in the top seat. The more, the merrier (well, usually) – especially, if you manage to get strong incoming links where the other site uses a localized anchor text. For example – I own a Florist in Chicago, and on my website, I link to my favorite local pizza place using the anchor text “Chicago Pizza Delivery”. That’s going to help that pizza places’ website in the rankings tremendously. A local incoming link, using a geo targeted anchor, is like gold. The more of these you can get, the higher you’ll rank, I promise you. If you know other business owners in your area, do whatever you have to do (legally, of course) to get them to link to you. Remember, one way links are 100 times more powerful than reciprocal, so if you don’t have to “trade” links, don’t. You just want them to link to you, using specific anchor text.
With the above four tips, and the ones from Monday (which are also listed above), you should be able to get your website listed in the local results rather easily. This is going to make a noticeable difference in the amount of business you do over time, and for most small business owners, hiring someone to perform this on your site is well worth it. But that’s the thing – all of the things I listed above? Anyone can do it! If you have even novice internet skills, with a little research, you could probably knock out everything I’ve told you in a matter of a couple weeks. I can’t say this enough, but, it’s well worth your time, and may make a significant positive impact on the books.
Tuesday, June 10th, 2008
Although local SEO isn’t anything new and revolutionary, it certainly seems to be a very hot trend these days, especially as we breeze through 2008. Many small businesses are realizing the amount of extra business they could have, if only their sites were optimized and showing up in local search results. SEO companies around the world are taking notice, and many are selling special “Local SEO” plans and gaining thousands of new clients by doing so.
Having said that – what about your average Mom and Pop pizza joint that operates on an extremely tight budget, and often relies on family or friends for all of their technology needs? These types of businesses (and there are tens of thousands of them), definitely do not have the resources to hire SEO firms to run a local SEO campaign for their websites that were designed by their grandchild that got a degree in graphic arts. With the exorbitant cost of gas, supplies, advertising, and everything else these days, SEO just doesn’t seem to fall on the list of top priorities – although it should.
Photo Courtesy Of Atelier Teee
So to ease the pain, and make things easier, we’ll talk about easy ways that the small business owner can optimize their website for local search results. Truth be told, it’s not all that difficult, and anyone with access to change and/or add information on their site can get it done relatively easily.
Let’s start today with a few simple things that you can do to your website that’s so easy, it seems almost silly. There are obvious things that you can change or modify, that you may not have thought were important. But trust me, they are!
Okay, a lot folks learn and understand better by visuals, so take a look at the image below. I simply did a search for “landscaping service Indianapolis”, and the results in the image tell us a few things right off the bat.
First of all, besides the number one listing (who probably got their through more advanced means, which we’ll talk about later), notice the first couple of listings and what they have in common?
Well, if you can’t notice it, I’ll tell you. Remember how I typed in “landscaping service Indianapolis”? Notice the 2nd and 3rd results are the only ones that actually contain the keyword “landscaping service”. Why is that interesting? Well, it works in sort of the same way a regular yellow pages ad would work. You want to specifically list what your business does. Google is smart, don’t get me wrong, but they often look to the obvious things to determine and return the most relevant results for a search. The businesses that used the keyword “landscaping service” were picked to be near the top simply because they used that search term (which is a typical keyword that someone would type in when searching for this kind of business, with the geographical reference in front of it).
So in other words, somewhere on each individual’s site, they list exactly what they do. While most business owners would say “well, duh” to this – you would be surprised at how many small businesses don’t list everything they should on their websites. But, this isn’t the only place that Google will determine what your business offers. As a matter of fact, Google often turns to local search outlets, such as YellowPages.Com, Yahoo Local, and many others. You want to make very sure that each of those kinds of sites that list your business info has the exact information you want people to find you by. If you’re a 24 hour dry cleaner service, you want to make sure people find you by typing in “24 hour dry cleaner service”, right? In other words, if you want people to find you by that term (because a lot of people search for specific terms like that), you wouldn’t want Yellowpages.com listing your site as “ABC Cleaners”. Because even if ABC cleaners offers 24 hour dry cleaning services, if it doesn’t boldly state that in the title, then you can count on zero local results for it, and we don’t want that to happen.
So, you need to check up on and probably modify your listing in all of the big local search websites. Trust me, its well worth your time!
If you’re curious as to which local search outlets have your business listed, you can usually find out just by typing in your business name in Google. Typically, the local search outlets will be the ones ranking towards the top, but just take a few hours, go through each listing, and modify it to what you want people to find you by. Most, if not all of those types of sites allow you to register for free and “claim” your business listing, so that you can modify it to your liking. Of course, the change in the search results won’t happen overnight (nothing does in the SEO world), but it’s better to start now instead of letting it sit. Once you optimize everything to your liking on the local search sites and your own site, you may be pleasantly surprised after a couple months go by at the new boost in customers and traffic.
One last thing that I’d like to point out in the image above is the customer reviews. I can’t confirm how much this helps your actual rankings, but I’m sure it plays some part, even if it’s a tiny one. I know the picture is cut off towards the right, but the listing at the top is the only one with customer reviews. Coincidence? Who knows, but it sure doesn’t hurt to have customers leave reviews about your business. Think about this though, even if the amount of reviews didn’t affect your local search rankings at all, if you were a consumer looking for a business, and you had a choice of 10 businesses, and only one had customer reviews, which one would you probably check out first? Exactly, the one with reviews. Consumers like to find out everything they can about the business before they spend their money with them. It’s the same thing that made Amazon a pioneer in selling products – they allowed customers to leave reviews for everything they ordered. I know I’ve personally bought many items simply because I was able to find out what other people thought about it. It makes perfect sense, and plays a huge psychological role in the consumers buying mindset. Don’t ever coerce your customers to leave a review simply to look good, but it may be very smart on your end to approach your best customers, and kindly let them know that they have the option of leaving a review of your services for others to read. This alone may make a significant impact on the amount of business you receive. Afterall, nearly 70% of online activity is related to local content. And with hundreds of millions using the internet each day, that’s a lot of business.
Stay tuned for the next installment of Local Search Engine Optimization Basics to learn more about optimizing your website for local search results.
Friday, May 30th, 2008
The age of keyword jamming is over. Let’s say in the past you had a site that sells car seat covers. You would be able to jam together a series non-grammatical phrases and that would be enough to fool search engine spiders. You’d gather together relevant keyphrases, such as:
- Sheepskin car seat cover
- Car seat cover sheepskin
- Car seat cover online
- And so on
Eventually, you’d write web content that read like: “If you’re looking for car seat covers sheepskin then you’ve found the best car seat cover online seller.”
Didn’t make a whole lot of sense but it made just enough sense to improve search engine ranking. Google, and other search engines, changed their algorithm for indexing web content. Their modus operandi was not just because they didn’t like being fooled by nonsense content, but their goal was to improve the quality of websites overall. Though this made search engine ranking more difficult, it did lessen the number of dummy sites and improve the quality of the Web overall.
Informative and Relevant Web Content
Now it’s necessary to provide well-written and useful content. When it comes to SEO-based web content, you should be looking for both quality and quantity. Most importantly, you should be looking to provide relevant content that can act as good linkbait. Though the car seat cover example above was able to trick search engine spiders in a bygone era, what it could not do was improve external linking. What site owner is going to link to content with a bunch of gibberish-inflected keywords? Who is going to Digg such an article? The answer: no one.
So providing quality, relevant content has a number of uses:
- To improve search engine ranking for a particular topic
- To improve linking from outside sources.
- To help the site become an authority in a given field.
Let’s take a look at number 3. The content you provide should be topic-specific. If, for example, you run that car seat cover site, you should be providing content related to cars in general, rather than straying into other areas of interest. The idea is to bring in auto enthusiasts and car owners. Providing a highly-informative and useful article on perfume isn’t quite going to enhance your conversion rate with visitors.
There’s virtually an unlimited number of things you can write about cars, so the content does not necessarily have to be centered around the products you are selling – so long as the content remains in the same general area. You could even provide content about the Indy 500 or Nascar. The idea is not only for the site to be informative, but entertaining. You want to retain viewership and bring in new users.
Keywords and Conversion Rates
The more content you have, the more likely it is that the content will be picked up by search engines. This is where quantity becomes as important as quality. You might be surprised just how many keyphrases come up when you provide organic content. So while you can’t expect four paragraphs to target every major keyphrase, a list of 20 or more informative articles will likely cover the most relevant keywords.
Another important issue is the conversion rate. Not only do you want to become one of the most trusted resources in your particular industry to possible link partners, you want to have the same effect on potential customers. The rule goes that the longer a web surfer stays on a site, the more likely it is that he or she will make a purchase. Repeat visitors are particularly important. The more authoritative your site, the more likely it is that a customer will make a purchase or click on an affiliate link. In short, search engine ranking isn’t your only concern. The conversion rate once someone lands on your site is paramount. Quality content enhances a site’s conversion rate, plain and simple.
Tracking Performance and Site Branding
Once you’ve done all of the above, you need to track how the web content you’ve provided is performing – both in terms of traffic and conversions. It’s possible that the car-site owner gets a lot of traffic from the Indy 500 content, but not very many conversions. That’s fine – it’s not ideal, but you want to increase the number of site visitors because this can effectively brand the site as a leader in the industry.
For the content that is gaining a lot of traction and attention, direct some more content in that area, while increasing how you monetize the content in terms of internal linking and ad placement. Likewise, for content that has proven to provide a good conversion rate via ad clicks or purchases, provide more content in this area. This sounds like a no-brainer, but too often site owners get complacent and let web content remain static. Remember, we live in an increasingly information-rich world, so not providing new, relevant content is an absolute mistake.
Thursday, September 27th, 2007
How SEO Hosting Works
SEO Hosting allows for users to create hosting accounts for their
websites and assign each account an IP address. What is unique to SEO
Hosting is that the IP’s that are assigned to the server, are very diversified.
Technically the definition of a C class IP is an IP with the first octet or numerical block from 192 to 223. So if an IP is 192.*.*.* all the way through 223.*.*.* it is considered a “Class C” IP. However for the purpose to keep things simple, we’ll go with the understanding that each numerical octet is a Class, and the “C” class, just refers to the third octet.
Let’s take a closer look and examine an IP address. For example:
An IP is a string of numbers, separated by different octet blocks – A, B, C, and D respectively. The block from this IP address that most website owners are concerned with is the class C block. In the above example, the class C block is “789”.
Why is this important?
Since getting traffic to a website is primarily the most valuable
process of having a web site, and search engines are the source of most
of this traffic, people generally like to find out the best ways to
optimize their web sites to rank in the top listings of search engine
Tweaking and optimizing a web site to rank well in the search engines is known as Search Engine Optimization or SEO.
A common belief among SEO gurus is that search engines will penalize web sites when there are too many sites with similar content on the same IP address.
Nobody knows the exact search engine algorithm that is used to determine a web sites rank in listings, but people have reported success when they place each website on its own IP, and even more importantly each IP will be on a different class C block.
IP address 123.456.789.10 would have the website petfood.com and IP
address 123.456.790.10 would have the website catfood.com on it.
As we can see, the domain names and websites would have a similar topic
and therefore each domain is using a different class C block of IP.
Another claimed benefit is interlinking between web sites. Web sites
ranking also depends on how many other web sites are linking to them.
To prevent spam and bad search engine result listings, the search
engines give less weight to websites on the same class C IP linking to
Legitimate site owners will benefit from SEO Hosting because they can
link each site to each other and if it’s on a different class C IP they
will be able to still receive credit from interlinking between the sites.