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    SMBs: What is Your SEO Strategy Missing?

    Last updated 2 months ago

    When you think about search engine optimization best practices for your small business, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? If you think of SEO as only making sure a set of specific keywords are optimized on your website it’s time to update your strategy. It’s true that keywords play a huge role in modern SEO, but today, SEO is about more than simply optimizing a few pages of your site for certain keywords.

    In fact, it’s time that small businesses take a deeper look at what search engine optimization means in today’s competitive SEO landscape that demands not only stellar onsite optimization but also a steady stream of fresh content as well as an optimized offsite presence. Here are a few key insights about modern SEO that can help you see what your SEO might be missing.

    1. Is Your SEO Focused on Keywords or Topics?

    One big evolution in modern SEO is the role that keywords play in today’s search landscape. Search engines have become more intelligent over time, learning more about both the behaviors that consumers use when they search and about the behaviors marketers use to attempt to improve their rankings in search. These insights play in to regular changes to the algorithms that drive what shows up when someone searches for your business online. And, several recent algorithm changes have brought to light an evolved understanding of the role of keywords in SEO.

    Keywords still play a huge role in SEO, but the question is, are you thinking about keywords correctly? Because search engines are better at recognizing groups of related keywords and prefer content that’s written naturally (as opposed to content where specific keywords are forced and stuffed unnaturally into content), many experts advise an SEO strategy that focuses on topics, or groups of related keywords and terms, rather than trying to repeat an “exact keyword phrase” a certain number of times on each page.

    When writing your content, keep in mind the topic at hand and the keywords people might use to search for your business. Due to changes in search engine algorithms, exact-match keywords don’t play as strong a role. But, you still need to include key phrases related to the core topic.  For example, let’s say you have dental website and you focus on the topic of flossing. Your content should be written in a much more natural way than simply repeating the word “flossing” over and over on the same page. Instead, use a natural variance of keyword phrases such as “why should I floss,” “flossing benefits,” and “how important is flossing” in your content to help searchers find your website when they search.

    So, if your SEO strategy is still obsessed with exact keyword match, keyword match density, and keyword stuffing, it’s time to update your game and polish up your content. And, speaking of content…

    2. Are You Regularly Publishing Fresh, Relevant, Optimized Content from Your Site?

    Have you ever heard the phrase “Content is King”? Well, for small business SEO, this statement rings true. In fact, it’s true for any business, large or small, which is why content marketing has become so important in online marketing today. The first component of content marketing that small businesses need is to make sure their SEO strategies include publishing fresh, relevant content from their sites. 

    That’s because creating fresh, relevant content focused around your main topics and keywords helps your website show up when people search for topics and keywords related to your business. The more you create content that helps people find your site, the more search engines will view it as relevant and authoritative, helping boost your visibility on the search engines.

    The most popular way to regularly publish content from your small business website is to have a blog – and post to it regularly! You can use a mix of original, optimized content such as educational posts, infographics, photos, videos, and ebooks, along with sharing summaries and links to relevant content others have shared online (just make sure you’re attributing it properly)!

    When writing for your blog, it’s important to think “educational and entertaining” content rather than “sales pitch” content. Make sure your content is also focused on the keyword topics you are optimizing your website for, and ultimately that the content is both helpful and appealing to the consumers you want to target. Not only will this entice more people to engage with your content, but it will be more likely to prompt them to share your content to their own networks.

    Using the dental website example noted above, let’s say you decide to publish a dental blog on your website. You might write a blog post titled, “Flossing & Heart Health: What You Should Know.” Notice that the headline isn’t a sales pitch about your dental practice. Rather, it’s a piece of content that your online audience might find useful and in turn share with their own online audience on places like Facebook, Twitter, etc.

    And speaking of sharing…

    3. Is Your Content Optimized for Social Sharing?

    In today’s SEO landscape, it’s also important to make sure that consumers are sharing the fresh content you publish online. Not only does this help your content (and therefore your business and its website) gain more visibility, but it can also serve as a signal to search engines that your website is a popular and authoritative site on the subjects you cover. Plus, social signals like comments, likes, and shares from your website or social media pages can help influence how relevant the search engines think your site is.  

    And, speaking of being signals you send to search engines…

    4. Is Your Offsite Web Presence Optimized?

    Another critical piece – especially for local SEO – is to make sure your offsite Web presence is optimized for your small business. This includes sites like local listing and directory sites, as well as you brand’s social media pages. It’s critical to make sure these pages are not only claimed, but also that they are optimized in a way that is accurate and consistent, because this plays a large role in how search engines understand your business. Here are a few components to consider.

    Local Listings

    CitySearch, Yellow Pages.com, and Yelp are just a few of the several local listing services that share information about your business online. But, if you haven’t claimed and optimized these listings, you can’t guarantee that the information they include is up to date, accurate, or consistent. And this matters a lot to search engines. In fact, they care right down to how you abbreviate, spell, and punctuate your listings. So, make sure your listings are claimed, optimized, and consistent with how you publish your business information online (including on your website and social media pages).

    Google+ Local

    Google+ Local is both a local listing and a social media page that you can use to share content with your followers. Claiming your own Google+ Local business page and populating it with relevant content not only helps local consumers to find you online, it also helps your SEO efforts. Adding keyword-optimized, geo-targeted content like descriptions of your business, customer reviews, and company and product photos gives the search engines the relevant content they’re looking for when ranking your page. To claim your Google+ Local listing, you have to start by creating a Google+ profile page.

    Make sure that when you launch your page, the business information is correct and complete with current address(es), phone number(s), hours of operation, and your website’s URL.  Optimizing your Google+ profile with this information and your relevant business keywords can increase your chances of getting found in local and map searches.

    Facebook

    Facebook is a top social media site with more than a billion active users, and as such, it’s a popular online marketing tool for small businesses. It offers you the chance to grow and cultivate an engaged, passionate community of customers and other fans — an audience that you can leverage to help spread the word about your content. This also drives traffic to your website, along with social signals, both of which search engines factor in. Infographics, photos, and videos are popular content types on Facebook, so make sure you’re creating and sharing content from your blog and business website that appeal to your Facebook audience.

    Twitter

    Twitter is also an important site when it comes to optimizing your business Web presence, plus, it’s a great place to encourage social sharing and engagement for your content online. Many businesses struggle to understand how to best leverage Twitter, especially when it comes to SEO. Most experts recommend sharing content related to your core business topics as well as regularly syndicating links to your own uniquely published content as a way to build an active audience and encourage your engaged followers to visit and share your content. 

    So, What is Your SEO Missing?

    Bottom line? It’s important to have an SEO strategy that applies a modern understanding of keywords, includes publishing fresh, optimized content, and leverages an optimized and engaged social media presence.

    Are you using a modern keyword strategy when it comes to your website? How often do you create and post new content for your audience? Let us know with a comment!

     

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    About the Author

    Amy Neeley helps small- and medium-size businesses navigate the online marketing world with insights and information featured on the ReachLocal blog. You can also connect with her on Twitter.  

    ReachLocal Talks Marketing Strategies at CeBIT Australia

    Last updated 2 months ago

    • Modern-Marketing-ReachLocal-Slide
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    • Modern-Marketing-CeBIT-Aus

    This week, we were honored to participate in the 2014 CeBIT Australia conference, a premier business technology event in the Asia Pacific Region. This prestigious setting enabled us to share the floor with other top industry and technology leaders like Salesforce, IBM, and Intel.

    At the event, Chief Marketing Officer Todd Ebert shared his insight about how technology is impacting online marketing and how ReachLocal is leveraging this trend. In his presentation, 7 Pillars of Modern Marketing, he explained how technology and strategy work together to drive success in the local and online marketing space.

    During his presentation, Ebert discussed concepts like creating useful customer experiences, integrating sales and marketing initiatives, and leveraging marketing automation tools. Check out the full presentation to see all seven modern marketing pillars and how ReachLocal is applying them to our own marketing strategy.

    With Yahoo! Integration, Yelp Just Got More Powerful for Local Businesses

    Last updated 2 months ago

    Search for the name of any local business on the major search engines, and chances are you’ll see a Yelp listing show up close to, if not on, the first page of search results. Why? A few reasons.

    First of all, online recommendation and review sites continue to build strong signals to consumers that influence their buying decisions. That means, more consumers are searching for and clicking on these profile pages for local businesses and therefore helping them rank higher in search engines. Secondly, both Bing and Yahoo! now have exclusive partnerships with Yelp, meaning that Yelp reviews are now featured more prominently within local search results, showing up with the listing card for the local business. For consumers, the number and quality of your reviews could affect whether or not they contact your business, and in some cases may cause them to reach out to your competitor instead. Thirdly, Yelp reviews and ratings for local businesses are highly visible in Apple Maps, and with a growing number of users this can be critical for your local business.

    And since Yahoo! and Bing make up a growing percent of search queries today, with a combined total of 28.7% of search share, it’s important to make sure your business shows up – and shines – when people search for local businesses like yours online.

    The simple point is, if you haven’t claimed your listing on Yelp, it’s important to do so. In fact, if you don’t, a Yelp user could attempt to update your business information for you, which could result in inaccurate information. So, verifying your own business page is the best way to ensure that these results are accurate, complete, and consistent with all your other business profile pages online. Here are a few tips you should keep in mind to get the most out of claiming your Yelp business page

    Add or Update Your Business Information

    Much like other local listings or profiles on social media sites, Yelp provides local businesses with many options for including business information. The most basic information you should make sure is accurate and consistent with your additional profiles is your business name, physical address, type of business, website URL, phone number, and hours of operation. Not only are these details critical in order for consumers to contact you, but they are also are displayed on both the “near your location” and map search results of both Bing and Yahoo! 

    Yelp also displays information that other directories may not offer but that matters to consumers who are researching your business. For example, if you own a restaurant, you can add a link to your menu, payment options, parking information, price level, and reservation requirements, which can all be helpful to someone looking for a place for a business lunch or a romantic anniversary dinner.

    Remember This:

    No matter what type of local business you own, it’s important to think about your Yelp page as if you were a consumer searching for a business like yours. Think about what you would want to know about a business or what you wish you would have known about a business before choosing them, and make sure your profile includes these details for your prospects.

    Post Realistic Images

    Part of what grabs a consumer’s attention on any review or social site is the images that represent the business. And authenticity matters. Whether working with a professional or taking Instagram-style shots, focus on capturing what makes your business unique and great, instead of making sure every image is staged or edited to perfection. For a restaurant, that means showing off your best-selling dishes and a dining room filled with happy customers. For a massage studio, that means showing pictures of friendly staff and rooms that evoke a sense of relaxation. For a hotel, featuring the different room layouts and even local attractions can help travelers get a sense of what they can expect when they arrive.

    Remember This:

    Customers who visit your location can also post images along with their reviews to your Yelp business page. So, make sure that the standards you set in your own images are also present in your day-to-day business operations so that your images don’t tell a different story than what your customers experience. Let your authentic experience shine.

    Promote Positive Reviews

    There are many ways you can feature the great things consumers have said about your business that can encourage new customers to contact you. For example, you could use an online tools to create a make quote image with a brief quote from a happy customer review – and you can then post these images on your social media sites, emails, and even on your website in order to attract more visitors to your Yelp pages, and even indirectly influence your fans and followers to leave you more reviews.

    You should also take time to reply to reviews customers have left you – both positive and negative – to show consumers who find your Yelp page that you acknowledge concerns and will work to resolve them in addition to the fact that you appreciate the nice things customers have to say about you online. How you respond to reviews will also speak volumes about the kind of business you are to potential customers.

    Remember This:

    Getting great reviews starts with delivering great products and services and providing consistently great customer service. Make sure that employees know from the beginning what makes your business unique, along with your standards, expectations, and values, so that they become part of every customer experience. Plus, recognizing your team members whenever you get a new positive review on your Yelp listing can help them see first-hand the impact of great service. Similarly, addressing negative experiences with your staff can help them understand what to adjust so that the issue doesn’t happen again.

    Is your local business using Yelp to help boost your visibility in search results and help convince consumers to choose your business? What other ways do ensure that your business profile shines on Yelp? Let us know with a comment!

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    About the Author

    Tara Banda writes about how local business owners can reach more customers through inbound marketing for the ReachLocal blog. You can connect with her on Twitter.

    How to: Google Yourself (and Boost Your Results)

    Last updated 2 months ago

    Have you ever Googled yourself? If you’re like the majority of Internet users, you’ve probably done this a time or two to see what shows up in organic search results for your own your name, just out of curiosity. Chances are, if you have a fairly unique name and have published content on the Web, like a public Facebook profile, Twitter page, or personal blog, some of it will show up when you search. If you Google yourself fairly regularly, you may notice that what shows up changes over time (thanks to your content aging, Google modifying its algorithms, and other content being added to the potential mix of what could show up in search results pages).

    When’s the last time you Googled your business name and local search terms you want to show up for? Does your website show up when you search? Is the content that does show up about you accurate, consistent, and positive? It’s important to get a good understanding for what consumers see when they search for your business name. So, here are three reasons you should Google yourself (along with a few tips for improving what shows up in the organic search results). 

    But, first things first.

    Before you get started, make sure you are using a private browsing window before you search. In Google Chrome, this is called an “incognito window,” and can easily open one by just clicking “File,” and then “New Incognito Window.” It’s important to use a private browsing window when you Google yourself because this allows you to see a more neutral search result that isn’t affected by your browsing history, logged in services, or other factors that search engines can use to show you personalized search results. Personal search results are a great way to see more relevant content when you’re searching for products and services you want online, but when you’re Googling yourself, you want to have a more neutral view that isn’t biased by the fact that you’re affiliated with the business you are searching for.

    However, do keep in mind that most search engines will automatically use the location of your IP address to provide local search results regardless of browser mode, so your results for local keyword searches will look like those in a similar geographic area to you. Now, let’s get started!

    1. See how much real estate you actually own in search results.

    When it comes to online marketing, the results you really care about are getting leads and customers. Simply ranking high in search results doesn’t necessarily correlate to getting results.  But seeing how frequently your business name appears in organic search results is a good indicator of what you need to work on when it comes to optimizing for your branded terms. If you are executing a well-rounded search engine optimization strategy for your business, when you Google yourself, you should ideally find your business’ website and any claimed social media or review pages like Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp. Plus, your Google+ Local page, if claimed and optimized, will appear prominently in the main search result, along with your photos and business information. And, because of the way it’s featured on the SERP, it’s crucial that it’s complete and accurate. In the example, you’ll see this business’ name populates key destinations like their website, Facebook page, Yelp page, and Google+Local listing in the organic results. 

    If any of these key components aren’t ranking well in search results for your business name, this can help you identify areas for improvement. For example, if your website doesn’t show up locally for your business name, you may need to engage an SEO service that can help make sure your business name keywords and geographic data is present on your website’s content and code to help boost your presence in local search results.  If local listings, especially your Google+ Local page, aren’t showing up for your business name, make sure you claim and optimize these listings for your business name. If they are claimed and still not appearing in search results, you may need to take a deeper look at how to optimize key elements in your listings like your website URL, business description, and about copy featuring your business name as a keyword.

    2. Audit the business details that show up online.

    Now that you’ve seen what shows up for your business on the SERPs, how accurate is it? Is any business information, like your address and phone number, consistent across all your pages? What about photos? Are they professional and an accurate representation of your business? Or are they missing altogether? Cleaning up your social pages and local listings with up-to-date business information and eye-catching photos of your business can improve your chances of getting discovered and impact whether consumers will do business with you.

    But, if your listings aren’t showing up in the search results, or the information is inaccurate, you need to audit all the “citations” for your local business are across the Web. What this means is that every place your business name is listed online—from your own website to your listings and native content on social sites – needs to include accurate and consistent information, down to the details like spelling and punctuation of your business name, address, and other details. 

    3. Keep a pulse on your online reputation.

    Not only is regularly searching for your business name an important way to know how well your website, social media pages, and local directories fare on the search engines, but it’s also a useful tactic to help you keep a pulse on your online reputation. Googling your business name will not only show you the content you’ve created, but also content others have created about your business, like reviews, complaints, comments, blog posts, images, and more. It’s a good idea to search separately for reputation terms about your business name to see what consumers are saying about you online. For example: someone at Sunshine Daycare Center would search “Sunshine Daycare Center reviews” and “Sunshine Daycare Center complaints.”

    Why is this important? Your online reputation gives you a good idea of the overall sentiment being shared publicly about your business online, which consumers may come across when searching for your business. Plus, it can be a good way to gauge areas for improvement in your business. For example, people are often quick to post negative content about a business online when they have a bad experience, in order to vent or seek a resolution. So by addressing negative content you may run across online both with your customers and within your business, you can boost customer satisfaction, improve your business (and, bonus, help improve your reputation online). So, respond to negative reviews when you can, and address customer service issues promptly. Also, make sure to be proactive every time you have a great customer interaction and let them also know you appreciate their review. 

    Ready to Get Started?

    Regularly searching for, or Googling, your business name is a quick and easy way to monitor your online presence and see where you might need to make some adjustments. And, by taking steps to improve your website, social media pages, and local listings, you’ll start to see more positive content about your business show up when you search online — and that means your prospects will, too!

    About the Author

    Tamara Weintraub helps equip small business owners with information about local online advertising, social media, and content marketing as a writer for the ReachLocal blog.

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    3 ReachLocal Clients Talk About Local Online Marketing Performance

    Last updated 2 months ago

    What happens when a small business owner partners with ReachLocal for online marketing? What kind of performance do they really get? According to these ReachLocal customers, they not only get a business partner, but they receive service they can depend on and online marketing that helps them reach their target audience to get results. Hear the real scoop as these three clients share all about what working with ReachLocal means for their businesses.

    Web Traffic that Translates Into Business

    For the past few years, TGM Associates has worked with ReachLocal to get in front of more potential residents searching for apartment rentals in several different locations. In fact, since 2012, they have seen a significant part of their traffic – around 40%! – coming from their search engine advertising through ReachSearch. But it’s not just about driving traffic to their website; they want that traffic to translate into new business. Because what really matters to this small business is the amount of people they are able to help. By targeting the right consumers through online marketing, TGM Associates attributes nearly 20% of new leases to ReachLocal. “For TGM it’s been incredibly helpful, because not only are we getting traffic, but it’s translating into business at the end of the day, which is what we ultimately try to do for all our Internet sources,” said Zach Goldman, Partner & Director of Operations.

    An Online Presence That Targets the Right Clients

    For McCready, Garcia & Leet, P.C., being able to see interaction from new potential clients is key to deciding which cases to take. “I highly recommend ReachLocal, because they have taken my practice – and the marketing, especially with regards to the Internet – to a whole a new level,” said Michael P. McCready. “They’re always ahead of the curve when it comes to technology. If there’s something new, or something that I should be into, they’re the first ones to tell me about it.”

    With the ReachLocal Mobile App, they are able to immediately see engagement from their prospects, including reading chat transcripts from their 24/7 TotalLiveChat service and listening to calls and voicemails they get from their search engine advertising. Plus, by using ReachSearch to get their services found on search engines, they reach the right target audience at the right time, so that more of their prospects turn into clients.

    Real-Time Results & New Leads

    Within a few months of using ReachLocal for online marketing, Benny Boyd Automotive Group saw their business nearly double. These results are in part due to ReachLocal’s search engine advertising optimization that helps them show up in search engines for critical keywords, translating to more contacts and more customers. How do they know it works? This business relies on detailed reports in the ReachLocal mobile app that let them know what’s working, from where their search results come from to how many calls they are getting, on a daily basis.

    “Since the last two months that we’ve been with ReachLocal...our business has almost doubled in most of my locations. The technology that we have to be able to track and monitor through ReachLocal allows me to be able to stay on top of my business from hour to hour, from day to day, from week to week, from month to month,” said Marc Gibson. “I have noticed a huge difference.” 

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