Archive for "General"

How to Leverage Local SEO to Promote Your Small Business

General Jun 10, 2017 No Comments

Local SEO for Small BusinessIf you’re determined to leverage local SEO to promote your small business, then you’re making an intelligent effort that could drastically transform your company’s growth potential.

SEO is one of the most powerful marketing mediums. With people actively searching what your business has to offer, attaining top search engine placement can lead to highly-qualified traffic to your site and a wealth of new business.

Investing in a local SEO program to grow your local business requires a comprehensive approach. Below we outline some of the various strategies and techniques required to actualize a successful local SEO plan for your small business.

Establish an “Optimized” Web Presence

Optimization carries many meanings in the world of SEO. From a big-picture perspective, establishing an optimized web presence for your business includes:

  • Having a website that’s technically-fluid from an HTML perspective
  • Ensuring your website is mobile-friendly or responsive on all mobile devices
  • Leveraging Schema markup to better communicate your site’s content to search engines
  • Using CTAs and other conversion touch-points to ensure users can contact your business
  • Making use of internal linking and providing good navigation/usability on your site

The above, in a nutshell, are important aspects of establishing an optimized web presence. This will serve as the foundation for you Nashville business, while helping to ensure all other SEO strategies realize their full potential.

Get Listed

Having a well-optimized website can only get you so far with SEO. In fact, most of the factors that determine a site’s search engine rankings are off-site. These are the links, citations, and signals that are found on other websites, and refer back to your site.

When you get your small business listed on various directories and other related sites, you can earn what are called “citations.” That’s the technical term for mentions of your business’ name, address, and phone. The more citations your business earns on other websites (i.e. chamber of commerce site,, press release, etc.) the more credibility your business will have in the Google local search results.

Google uses citations as a ranking factor in it’s local search results (also commonly known as the Google 3-Pack.) The important thing to keep in mind is ensuring all citations are both accurate and consistent. Any inconsistencies or inaccuracies in your Name, Address, and Phone number will have diminished SEO value.

Generate Links

Link BuildingPart of getting listed on other sites throughout the web includes generating backlinks. For instance, not only does getting listed on provide citation, but also a valuable link back to your website.

Links, or backlinks, are referrals from other websites that indicate to search engines how popular, credible, and authoritative your site is. Having a high volume of backlinks from relevant sources will help your local SEO efforts.

While getting listed provides an easy win for link generation, acquiring authoritative links from relevant sites can take persistence and work. Networking, outreach, and guest authorship are just a few ways to cultivate valuable link opportunities that can drastically impact your Nashville SEO strategy.

Create Content

Content Marketing for Local SEOAnother way to generate links is to earn them. By creating exceptional content that gains favor among the masses, people may link to your site naturally. While this is a beautiful thing, it is much easier said then done.

In short, craft a content strategy for your business website. This may focus on weekly blog posts, monthly videos, or podcasting. At the very least, refreshing your website with new content gives Google a reason to come back more frequently to crawl and index your site.

So even if you’re not earning links as a result of your content strategy, you can still supplement your local SEO efforts by keeping your site fresh. New content also gives you something worthy to share on social media.

Be Social

Local Social Media MarketingBringing your content strategy and link acquisition efforts together is social media. You need to spread the word about your content and share it relentlessly throughout the web.

If you lack an abundance of social media followers, you can try “boosting” or advertising your posts to new audiences using ad platforms on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Think of this investment as a brand building opportunity that can increase the overall value of your business.

Lastly, SEO is more about brand building. Producing amazing content and building a strong social media presence can have a direct impact on your local SEO strategy. In a competitive local search market, these channels will be vital assets to give your business the edge it needs to be a strong contender for top rankings.

Local SEO in 2017: 3 Investments That Offer The Biggest Wins

General Nov 07, 2016 No Comments

local SEO in 2017Actualizing a successful local SEO strategy requires a multi-fold approach that addresses a number of ranking factors and optimization strategies. From citations and backlinks to social media profiles and Google My Business listings, the elements that go into a comprehensive local SEO strategy can be overwhelming.

In this post, I cut out the minutiae and shed light on the SEO strategies and ranking factors that offer the greatest ROI. So as you embrace local SEO in 2017, here are three powerful investments that will offer the biggest wins over the year to come.

1.  Make Link Building a Priority Focus

Because Backlinks Fuel Domain Authority & Enduring Search Rankings

As the fuel behind domain authority (and a site’s overall ranking potential,) link building has proven to be one of the most vital aspects of bolstering your site ranking in Google’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

But don’t go running out of the gate looking to acquire just any links. Research has shown that Google’s search engine algorithm crawls and assesses each link’s citation flow and trust flow, which is to say that link relativity = weight in ranking. These two metrics are thought to work in tandem to parse whether the backlinks on a given site are from quality, trusted websites.

Some criteria to consider while gauging whether a site will have a high-rating citation and trust flow:

  • How does the site rank on Google?
  • How relevant is the source?
  • How many sites link to said site?
  • Is the site updated regularly?
  • Is there good user interaction (i.e. are visitors commenting or reviewing?)

That’s great, but how do I generate backlinks?

Outreach Relentlessly

One of the most obvious and organic ways to generate backlinks to your site is by simply reaching out. Consider whether other site-owners might be interested or benefit from linking to the work or service your site provides.

Questions to ask yourself before hitting send:

  • Does your site operate in the same niche?
  • Does the site link to other sites?
  • Will the inclusion of your site add value to those you’re reaching out to?

While outreach is one of the most overlooked efforts in acquiring quality backlinks to your site, there are countless other strategies (i.e. guest blogging, event sponsorship, memberships, etc.)

Without going into detail about the latter mentioned link building strategies, the following SEO components we discuss below can lend to sure-fire methods to increase link popularity.

2. Create Great Content That Sparks Engagement

Taking a More Creative, Audience-Driven Approach to Your Content

In addition to keeping your site fresh and frequently crawled by search engines, another bonafide and necessary strategy for backlink acquisition is simply creating great, digestible content. (This is why we’re here in the first place, right?)

But beyond just great content, you’ll want to focus on audience-driven content that gains the likes, shares, tweets, etc. (social signals) of your audience.

Social Media is the new “News”, and video isn’t the future, it’s the NOW

As we trek forward as a society, traditional news and journalism mediums continue to be outpaced by the explosive growth of social media. Compelling data from Cisco estimates that a whopping 75 percent of online traffic will be exclusively for video streaming by 2020; however, we’ve already started hitting that number!

comScore’s February 2016 video streaming data states that YouTube and Facebook alone had a combined number of over 263 million unique viewers per month. And that’s only from desktop devices. As the world continues to go mobile, these numbers are slated to become even more astronomical across all platforms.

Leverage Rich Media Strategies

You want your content to be highly optimized for social sharing. Be it photo or video, it’s a smart bet to start employing the use of image-based content now. Not only can you dramatically increase your click-through rates, but you’ll add engagement to your site all whilst boosting your site’s ranking potential in Google.

Pick 2 or 3 social sites you’ve found to best connect your business with your audience (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram) and keep output across them cohesive with links to your site within descriptions and captions. (It’s good to use specific page URLs as diversifying links to all of your site’s pages is beneficial). Also, can try using highly visible icon links and calls-to-action in your content to further spur social engagement.

By creating great valuable and shareable content, you’ll encourage organic backlinks from visitors and followers that enjoy your work and want to share it.

3. Increase Local Rankings with Google Maps SEO (and Google My Business)

Optimizing for Keyword + City Search Queries

It’s no secret that an incredible amount of traffic that goes through Google is based on people searching for convenient, close-by goods and services on their smartphones. The more you can optimize your business for local search results (keyword + city search queries) the better you can drive highly-qualified traffic to your site. A powerful way to go about this is via local Google Maps SEO.

google maps SEO

A big step in enhancing your company’s visibility in these local results is by claiming and optimizing a Google My Business (GMB) profile. This is a simple Google-hosted profile where you can list important information like hours of operation, website, phone number, and perhaps most importantly – an address. It’s also the primary asset that contributes to a business’ ranking in the Google local 3 pack as well as ranked Google Maps results.

The GMB profile is also great for displaying photos of your business and client reviews, which both have been known to improve your Google ranking and offer quick insights into your company identity. This easy-access information allows users to make quick decisions about their search query.

Unfortunately, without a physical location, it may be a little more difficult to rank for your preferred local Google SERP; however, there are ways to work around the lack of a business address. Search Engine Land suggests that you create a GMB page on your site that’s dedicated to the city or area you service in combination with the keywords you’re targeting. Linking to this added page from within your site and propagating solid backlinks will help you build authority and improve your ranking.

Although there are many ways to improve your Google ranking, these local SEO strategies will surely give you a great start. They’re also ongoing pursuits to help ensure that your site continues to build authority and social momentum for lasting search engine value.

This article was contributed by Bret Bowerman.

Local Google Maps Optimization & Search Marketing Tips

General Oct 17, 2016 No Comments

Google Maps is undoubtedly one the best and most widely used apps Google has to offer. But it’s provides far more than just getting around without a road atlas or finding the right restaurant for lunch. Google Maps has become an incredibly powerful marketing tool for all types of businesses. google maps optimization

In essence, Google Maps marketing is a way to use Google Maps functionality to become more visible. It’s not only helpful to large businesses, but also for medium and small businesses on the local level. However, Google Maps is less about visibility, more about positioning of your business. If used in a proper way, Google Maps optimization can play a big role in your online marketing strategy.

In this short guide, we will walk you through how digital marketers use Google Maps optimization and marketing as a part of their much wider digital strategy. We will cover many essential features and things, which you need to do, as well as few lesser known, nifty tips and tricks to help your customers find you.

Google Maps Optimization Tips

Usually, most businesses are listed on Google My Business, but often fail by provide incomplete information. This results in diminished visibility and weaker rankings. You can boost your Google Maps listing with the following Google Maps optimization tips. These tips are focal to certain ranking factors that will impact your business’s visibility in the Google Maps search results.

USPS-Approved Business Address

When entering your business address, use only the one used by USPS. This includes suite, room, or subdivision details, a full 5 (or 9) digit zip code. Also check for formatting errors, as slight mistakes can affect your Google Maps ranking. You need to check whether your address is actually displayed on Maps listings. There’s a checkbox in My Business settings that states whether you would like your business details displayed. Ensure this is checked to help bring more credibility to your listing.

Specify Areas You Serve

Usually businesses have a location or storefront, so it is important to state the areas you service. You can include names of nearby towns and cities served by you, and their geographical radius from your location. You can also specify whether you service customers at your primary location, or are just a phone-only company.

Verified Google My Business

Having a verified Google My Business listing is vital to rank in the search results. This essential item in the local Google Maps optimization process is important and can take few weeks. You will receive a postcard that has a unique PIN to your Google My Business profile to your physical address from Google. In some cases, Google may allow you to verify ownership by phone.

verify google business maps optimization

Relevant Business Categories

Not only should you choose a primary category (that most clearly represents your business,) but also any additional categories that are relevant to your business, especially if you offer wide range of services. This will increase the chances of ranking for these related services, helping to drive more traffic and business to your web presence.

Optimize Your Introductiongoogle maps marketing optimization

Your Google My Business introduction is a summary of your business, the services or products it offers, and what sets it apart from your competitors. So make your introduction attractive, but avoid keyword stuffing or cramming links. Use only relevant keywords in your introduction and make it naturally well-branded more than uber-optimized for SEO.

Optimize Media for Google My Business Listing

Google Maps is a visual platform so make it more appealing by including photos that make your business stand out. It can also be an optimization opportunity for you. For comprehensive Google Maps optimization use third party apps to add some metadata to images, making them much easier to find. For instance, try adding the following media properties to make each file as optimized as possible.

Solicit Customer Reviews

User reviews Google My Business profile can help solicit new business and achieve higher Google Maps rankings. This is definitely a great form of Google Maps optimization in a competitive search market. So encourage your satisfied customers to post positive reviews about you online.

reviews google maps optimization

New Google Maps Ads

Now you can use new ad features offered in Google Maps. They are in-store promotions, promoted pins, local inventory search function and customizable business pages. These ads are shows on Maps search results on any Google Maps app, mobile and desktop versions of Google Maps site.

Lastly, be patient with the actualization of Google Maps marketing strategies. It will take some time to show but with persistence you can soon outrank your competition.

3 Insights to Help You Rethink Your Local SEO Strategy in 2014

General Dec 28, 2013 No Comments

Local SEO Insights for 2014Local SEO is a unique subset of search engine optimization. The way in which Google determines local business listings (paired with the map and little push-pins) is different from traditional organic SEO.

In 2013, local SEO strategies centered on citations and ensuring your business is listed on several top directories (i.e. Google+ Local [formally Google Places,] Yelp, Yahoo! Local, etc.) While investing the time to get listed on the top local business directories is important, it will only take your local SEO efforts so far, especially if your in a competitive marketspace.

In short, you need start looking at your local SEO efforts from a different perspective. Below are 3 significant insights to keep top of mind when embracing local SEO in 2014.

Be Active and Involved on Social Media Sites

Although many local businesses see the importance of having a presence on social media sites, many of them fail to be active and involved. The narrow-minded SEO perspective would think “Okay, our Yelp page is built. We now have a citation and a link back to our site. Done.”.

But what if you could do more to increase the authority of your Yelp page, and thus the SEO value of that citation and link back to your site?

You can.

By being active and involved with your audience, and optimizing your social media pages from every angle, you can greatly empower their SEO potential. How, exactly? Start by:

  • Reaching out and connecting (following, liking, encircling, etc.) with other respectable businesses and professionals
  • Optimizing images and uploading them to your social media pages
  • Encourage reviews from satisfied customers (perhaps by implementing an incentive program)
  • Build a following (or better yet, a community) and engage with your audience
  • Take advantage of promotions via social media networks (like Google Offers or Facebook Coupons)

Social media business pages offer immense authority for local SEO. Heck, there are some business Yelp pages out there that have a Google PR (PageRank) of 5 (and the link is DoFollow!). That’s some serious link juice compared to commonly stagnant PR 1 Yelp pages.

Lastly, earning social credibility (or social authority) is becoming a strong factor that Google uses to determine search engine rankings. Many organic SEO experts are seeing a correlation between search engine rankings and the number of Twitter and Facebook followers, Google +1’s, etc.

Local Citations Are Good, But Links Are Better

Just like traditional SEO, the amount and quality of external links pointing to a website is ultimately the greatest influence of its search engine rankings. Once you’ve gotten your business established on the top local business directories for SEO, spend some time determining various link assets for your business’s website.

Some of the best assets for local SEO include:

    • Investing in a membership at your local chamber of commerce. Members often get a listing (and a link) on the chamber website (which is both authoritative and locally relevant.)
    • Reaching out to other local businesses and professionals for guest blogging opportunities. Building these relationships are huge long-term asset for not only SEO, but marketing in general.
    • Becoming a local source for news, information, or advice. If people see value in the content you’re publishing, you can actually earn links back to your site. Think of your business as the online authority figure of what you do. If it’s DUI law, own it with videos and articles that help individuals understand their legal rights.

The last tip above stems into our next insight: becoming a content marketer.

Create Purposeful Content That Offers Value

You may be familiar with the old SEO catchphrase “Content is King!”. While that concept still holds true, its focus has changed.

It’s less about writing 700 word webpages that are jammed with keywords. Rather, it’s more about producing purposeful content that offers value to your target audience. More bluntly put, it’s all about mastering the craft of content marketing and creating meaningful content that resonates with other people.

Get yourself in the right mindset by contemplating the following questions:

        • What problems, issues, or questions does my target market have?
        • How can I help those individuals based on what I know and the resources that I have?
        • What forms of content would best get my message across in the most engaging manner?

Think about the local businesses that are owning it in both Google Search and social media sites. They are typically businesses that are constantly producing awesome articles, blog posts, videos, graphics, or podcasts, and they’re actively promoting this content on social media.

Rethink Local SEO in 2014

To rethink your business’s local SEO strategy in 2014, view your organization’s entire marketing plan. How much time and money do you have invested in traditional forms of marketing and advertising?

Perhaps you can generate ideas that can put greater emphasis on building an online content marketing strategy and building a legit social media presence. Although these efforts might seem like exclusive tactics, both most certainly influence local SEO (and will even more in 2014.)

Localize Your Internet Marketing for Better ROI

General Aug 20, 2013 No Comments

Local Internet Marketing StrategiesThe surge in mobile device usage and statistics that illustrate a large number of users who search for local goods and services on their mobile devices has led to Google gradually shifting its algorithms and implementing more social engagement to provide users with more local search results.

This trend has delivered small businesses with a huge opportunity to compete with the big boys in their industries for local consumers. It also has provided businesses that invest in Internet marketing with a lean, highly focused (local) target for their marketing efforts that produces better ROI.

Organic Search Marketing With a Local Focus

One of the most effective, ROI-producing local Internet marketing strategies is organic search engine optimization that is focused on local keyword targets.

Like traditional SEO campaigns, local organic SEO hinges on building a reputation for your business online that drives higher rankings through effective content marketing and link building.

In local organic SEO, small businesses are able to target consumers in their local area who are searching for their goods or services by optimizing for geo-modified keyword phrases. For example, if your company offers plumbing services and you’re located in Jacksonville, Florida, you might want to target the keyword phrase “Plumbers Jacksonville FL” instead of a broader, more general term like “Plumbers.”

A primary advantage of localizing your organic SEO campaign it costs less and provides higher returns for small businesses, as compared to to an Internet marketing program that encompasses broader, wider markets.

Google+ Local Offers Prime SERP Placement

The game changer for local Internet marketing came in May of 2012 when Google replaced its Google Places pages for businesses with Google+ Local listings.

Google offers local businesses prime real estate to get in front of users who search for their service/product in their local area. Google displays their listing near the top of the search engine results page (SERP) next to the local map.

Google+ Local SEO

Getting your  company listed next to the map is yet again a process of building trust with the search engines by establishing local business listings (citations), acquiring positive online reviews, and general listing optimization.

Enhanced Adwords Campaigns Cater to Local Mobile Search

If your business participates in pay per click advertising with Google Adwords, Google has made it easier for you to manage a mobile, local PPC campaign with its new Enhanced Adwords Campaigns.

It’s important to remember the significance percentage (over half) of all Google searches that are conducted on mobile devices that are done with the intention of finding a local solution.

Google Adwords has provided its advertisers with the ability to narrow the scope of their campaigns with “geo-targeting” their ads to specific locations.

This allows companies to reach highly qualified consumers in their local area, as well as users who are searching for businesses with their geo-modified keywords.

Weeding out consumers not in your local area with geo-targeting, and reaching more highly qualified consumers provides for better ROI for your campaign.

The new Enhanced Adwords Campaigns also allow businesses to easily manage their mobile PPC strategies with simple mobile ad configuration, rather than having to create a separate mobile campaign within their Adwords account, which was the previous best practice.

Now more than ever, reaching local consumers via Internet marketing is essential for sustained business growth, and implementing a locally-focused marketing strategy is going to provide your business the most bang for its buck in the long run.

Importance of Mobile PPC Marketing for Local Businesses

General Jul 30, 2013 No Comments

Mobile PPC Marketing for Local BusinessesPay per click (PPC) campaigns have proven to be highly effective marketing tools in for local businesses.

With mobile internet and the proliferation of mobile phones and tablets growing by the day, the potential of mobile PPC campaigns has significantly increased – particularly for those companies who conduct business locally.

If you have a local business and you want to boost your company’s presence online in the local search results, investing in mobile PPC marketing can reap huge ROI rewards for companies that target local consumers.

Why invest in mobile PPC marketing?


Mobile PPC provides a huge targeting advantage for local businesses because of its granular nature. You can set up mobile specific campaigns (although it’s not necessary now with Adwords Enhanced Campaigns), custom mobile ads and ad extensions such as click to call or places extensions, etc. that target mobile users specifically.

Many businesses such as auto body shops or junk car buyers garner a large portion of their traffic from mobile sources, so advertising mobile-only campaigns gets your company in front of these users who are looking to buy NOW.

Campaign Efficiency

Mobile PPC marketing is also cost-effective compared to desktop PPC campaigns. In a research conducted by The Search Agency, costs of mobile marketing through smart phones are 48 percent cheaper than desktop-based marketing during the 3rd quarter of 2012.

Also, mobile PPC campaigns deliver higher click-through rates, which in turn means local businesses employing PPC campaigns on a mobile devices are likely to see an increase in traffic and conversion rates because your company is serving up mobile ads that are hyper-specific to what the local consumer is looking for.

This means you’ll be spending less for clicks, and have a higher probability of conversion.

Not Everyone Is Doing It

Another advantage locally-based mobile PPC advertising is you still have an early mover advantage to make your business stand out from the rest of the competition.

Not everyone is doing it, and if you’re ready to jump ahead of your competition by getting your business in front of highly qualified local customers, now’s the time to work mobile PPC into your online marketing strategy before everyone else catches on.

Each of these points outline why mobile internet users can be a huge potential market for local businesses and a well executed mobile PPC strategy can drawn them in and make a huge impact on your local business.

Video: Building Citations For Local SEO: Don’t Be Lazy

General Apr 08, 2013 No Comments

In the video above, local SEO consultant Chris J. Everett discusses the importance of building citations for your local business and its local SEO efforts, particularly when it comes to local maps optimization.

As Everett explains in the video, there are many free websites available out there for small businesses to build citation profiles on, however the most critical component that needs to be considered when building out your citation profiles is to NOT BE LAZY and to make sure you’re being thorough and consistent with how you’re building out your profiles.

A previous post by Dylan Thomas on the Local SEO Kingpin blog supports what Everett is saying in this video, that small businesses need to make sure they’re using the exact same company Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) when building out their profiles.

Related Content

Leverage Google+ to Drive More Local Business

General Feb 10, 2013 No Comments

One of the newest social media platforms, but now the second largest in the world, Google+ is an excellent tool for small business owners targeting the local customers.

Google+’s merit as a resource for driving business from local consumers comes because of its marriage of local organic search and social media marketing into a single platform.

Google+ business pages are Google’s replacement for Google Places listings. Google+ listings offer local small businesses a wonderful opportunity to get found by local consumers because of their inclusion in the search results for locally focused keywords. Below you’ll see an example of chiropractors in Atlanta and the Google+ listings that display near the top of page one on the search engine results page:

Google+ Local SEO

As a small business, getting found online by local consumers is a highly valuable source of lead and sales generation. With the prime real estate offered by Google+ local listings, small businesses need to understand how this platform can be utilized to drive business.

Below I’ll go into touch on why small businesses need to adopt Google+ as a lead generation tool.

Why Does Google+ Matter to Small Businesses?

Research has found that 40 percent of all Google mobile searches and 20 percent of entire Google searches have a local intent. That is, Internet searchers are searching for local businesses providing a specific product or service. That said, small businesses need to understand the power of Google+ and the positioning they receive in the search results for local queries. Small businesses will definitely want to capitalize on that visibility, but might not know how to get their company up in those listings.

Google+ Reviews Are Testimonials That Drive New Customers

As you begin to grow your Google+ listing profile and visibility through optimizing your page by building citations, acquiring reviews from your customers on your Google+ profile is going to help you convert people who click onto your profile into sales leads. These reviews are testimonials from clients who have done business with you, and as you build your Google+ visibility, the positive reviews left by your customers that are read by potential new customers online can increase the likelihood of them contacting you to do business. That said, encourage your customers to leave reviews on your Google+ profile if they had a great experience with your company. Their testimonial will go a long way in helping your Google+ profile attract new customers to your small business.

Google+ as a Social Media Marketing Tool

Aside from their inclusion in the Google local search results, the aspect that makes Google+ business pages so unique is that they also allow for social media interaction with your customers. Much like Facebook, your business is able to use Google+ as a platform to share compelling content with your followers. Share links to blog posts that you’ve written or other relevant content that your Google+ followers will enjoy.

Google Plus for Small Business

If your content is valuable enough, your followers will be obliged to share or +1 your content, which leads to an increase in social media signals which have a direct impact on how your content ranks organically.

The Google+ platform provides local small businesses an incredible opportunity to get found by local consumers who are searching for your product or service. If you haven’t joined the Google+ bandwagon yet, you’re doing your small business a disservice, missing out on valuable search visibility that can drive more visibility, more traffic, and more sales for your small business.

Most Important Off-Site Local Ranking Factors Moving Forward

General Jan 28, 2013 1 Comment

Search engine optimization, and business for that matter, is about staying ahead of the curve. You always want to be the one setting the trends while your competition follows in your footsteps, not the other way around.

In a field that is as quickly-changing as SEO, this is even more important than in other industries. Things that were commonly accepted as industry-standard a year ago could easily be obsolete today.

David Mihm posts a list of the top local search ranking factors on his website every year. The survey is done by asking a number of local search experts to rank 90 possible positive factors and 18 possible negative factors.

Off-site factors will always be huge in ranking, and I don’t think there is a person in the world that will disagree with that statement, so I am going to go over the top 10 off-site factors and try to see which ones will be the biggest moving forward.

The top 10 Off-Site Factors in the 2012 survey (2013 list will probably be released in summer again) were as follows:

  1. Quantity of Structured Citations
  2. Quality/Authority of Structured Citations
  3. Consistency of Structured Citations
  4. Quality/Authority of Unstructured Citations
  5. Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain
  6. Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain from Locally-Relevant Domains
  7. Quantity of Unstructured Citations
  8. Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Places Landing Page URL
  9. Quantity of Inbound Links to Places Landing Page URL from Locally-Relevant Domains
  10. Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain

I don’t think many people (anyone?!) in the local SEO industry would debate that these factors are important today. But since we are trying to stay ahead of the competition, which factors are going to the most important down the road, 2 years from now, 5 years from now, and even 10 years from now?

The two that stand out to me, and the ones that I am going to be focusing my efforts on, are #2 – Quality/Authority of Structured Citations and #6 – Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain from Locally-Relevant Domains.

As you can see from the list, citations, both structured and unstructured, are a huge local ranking factor. However, I feel like the quality of the websites is going to be more important than quantity moving forward. Anyone who was in the SEO industry two to three years ago knows that everyone was preaching quantity of links as the most important factor for ranking.

“Get as many links as you can, from as many sources as you can! It doesn’t matter if the sites are spammy and unrelated to your niche”, someone once advised me. Advice like that was common (although short-sighted), but it really was true: if you had more links than your competitor, you were going to rank higher than him/her.

After the Panda/Penguin updates obliterated those websites who had been obtaining tons of low-quality links using over-aggressive with anchor text, it finally became ingrained in marketers heads that quality is the key to staying in this game for the long-run, not quantity. Of course, the person with the largest quantity of quality links is going to outrank the person with a smaller number of quality links, but for now, I would focus on getting quality links and citations from related sites. Local online newspaper and magazine articles are great citations to obtain, so I will be spending a good deal of time on brainstorming ways to get those for my business.

Having said all that about quality, I move into #6 – Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain from Locally-Relevant Domains.

The reason I don’t think you have to be picky looking for quality sites that are in the same vicinity as your business is that all visitors coming from that site to your site are going to be, by default, extremely high-quality. There are just not many spammy local sites, period. Not only will links from locally-relevant websites help your business rank higher, but the visitors arriving through that link will almost all be interested in your business/service, since they clicked the link in the first place. For my business in 2013, I am trying to get as many links and citations from websites in my city as I possibly can.

I am fully expecting Quality/Authority of Structured Citations to be #1 on the 2013 list of local ranking factors. I also think Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain from Locally-Relevant Domains is going to move up a place or two. Google seems hellbent on making Google+ relevant too, so we will probably see a rise in importance of the Google+ Local pages just like we saw in 2012.

About the Author

Brian KlemmBrian Klemm is an SEO and inbound marketer at Northbound Digital, based in Chicago, IL. He specializes in local SEO and content marketing.

Feel free to connect on Twitter @NorthbndDigital or Google+.

SEO: Link Building in Depth – Building Links – Two Types

General Jan 28, 2013 No Comments

Link BuildingI like to think of linking as two separate games, creating two different types of links. These two groups may be thought of as the real links on the one hand and fake or contrived links on the other.

What do I mean by real links? The real thing, a real link, is a type of link that the major search engines really want to see. It’s a link pointing to your website from another site, but it exists because the owner of that other website really wants to create a link.

The owner has found the reference page to be in some way useful or amusing or interesting or engaging in some manner. These are the sort of links that the search engines are most interested in because they are genuine votes for your site.

On the other hand, there is the fake links. Not fake in the sense that the link is somehow not real in the technical structural sense, they are real HTML links, but fake in the sense that the purpose for the link is fake. The link isn’t there because the person owning the site linking to yours particularly cares for your site. The link is there because you want it there and have somehow managed to convince the site owner to place a link on his site pointing to yours. Or put it another way, because the site linking to your site has some kind of incentive to place the link there.

Here is example of what I think of as a real link. Let us say, you create a glossary of terms related to your business, something genuinely useful to other people in your industry. A few bloggers discover the glossary think it’s worth talking about so they mention it in their blogs and link to it. Those are real links, this kind of strategy, building something on your site in order to encourage people to link to it is often known by the term link bait.

On the other hand let’s say you buy links, you pay other site owners to link to your site. Those are the fake kind of links. The site owners don’t really care about your site they don’t care what the link is pointing to. They are simply placing the link in exchange for money. Of course, it’s often difficult for the search engines to determine the difference between a real link and fake link which is why fake links often work well, though not always and why the whole fake link business is so big.

Here is an example, let’s say you pay a blogger to write about your site and link to it. How can Google for instance tell the difference between a real link to your really useful link bait and a fake link to a not so useful site that was placed in return for cash? Often it can’t, which represents a huge dilemma for the search engine companies because on the one hand they have tried to discourage fake links in particular the purchasing of links yet at the same time they reward the strategy. Millions of sites have done very well using a variety of strategies for building fake links. In fact, mostly link campaigns are really fake link campaigns. It’s actually often the case that a fake link is more valuable than a real link because of the problems the search engines have in distinguishing between the two.

A real link from a low page rank blog for instance will likely be less valuable than a paid link from a high page rank blog. However, in general a real link strategy is more valuable than a fake link strategy for a variety of reasons. First the search engines are continually getting better at figuring out the difference. As an example when Google discovers a site containing paid links it often devalues those links perhaps totally ignoring the links and could even remove the page from the index. Another example is reciprocal linking, while many proponents of reciprocal linking would put such links firmly in the real link category, claiming they provide value to site visitor, in fact most reciprocal linking is clearly done for SEO reasons and the search engines know it, which is why reciprocal links generally have little value these days.

There is also no fine line between real and fake links, sure on the one end there’s links to genuinely useful link bait and on other purchased links but in between there are all sorts of other things such as press releases, article syndication, friends and family links, links from partners and so on. With links getting more valuable as you move along the continuum from paid links to link bait links.

In a general sense it’s worth being aware of these two basic link strategies, real and fake links, and understanding that search engines are more interested in real than fake and are continually getting better at assessing the difference.