Creative Commons image by  NOGRAN s.r.o.

Creative Commons image by
NOGRAN s.r.o.

If you’ve been marketing your business online for a decade or more, your understanding of what makes good search engine optimization strategies might be less than up-to-date. Part of keeping your SEO where it should be is keeping up with the latest trends. Here are a few tips and hints that can get you out of the Dark Ages of Internet marketing (okay, really just into 2016 and beyond).

Keywords are not what they used to be.

You already know that content quality is important and that keyword-stuffing is very much out (right?).A� What you might not realize is that when Google sifts through your content, it’s not necessarily looking for keywords in their own right. Instead, it’s looking for your intent. That’s why if you Google, “greatest show in the world,” the search engine knows that chances are good you’re looking for the Ringling Circus, which is the “greatest show on earth.”

What this means for you is that while keyword research is helpful because it can steer you in the right direction, sticking to specific keyword phrases, particularly long-tail phrases, is not important. Make sure your content is well-written and focuses on the point you want to make, and it should be classified correctly in searches.

Link wheels are a big don’t.

Ten or so years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for SEO companies to recommend “link wheels.” These were websites built for the purpose of all linking to one another. For example, if you had a website where you sold cleaning products, you might develop one site about floor cleaners, which linked to a site about bathroom cleaners, which linked to a site about window-cleaning, which linked back to the floor cleaner site. These were sometimes complex designsA� if drawn out, creating figure eights, spokes, and other shapes in addition to (or instead of) a simple wheel, but the premise was the same: Manipulate linking to boost SEO.

Nowadays, this doesn’t work. First, Google catches onto this sort of thing and will penalize sites for doing this. Secondly, backlinking works best when the sites linking back are authoritative, and not just fake sites or sites built specifically for backlinking or link-wheeling purposes. If you were wondering whether building a link wheel would be a good strategy, it’s not. It was iffy a decade ago, and it’s definitely black-hat now.

Local SEO is a completely different animal.

Between a requirement for mobile-friendliness and changes to the layout, local SEO looks almost nothing like it did a decade ago. Think about it: Ten years ago, people weren’t using their smartphones to look for a “cake bakery near me,” like they are today. Keeping your Google My Business listing up to date and making sure that your site is optimized for mobile devices are two actions you can take right now to boost your local SEO rankings, if you haven’t done them already.

There are undoubtedly many other ways that today’s best SEO practices are not the same ones you had success with ten, or even five, years ago. If you aren’t sure where to start with your digital marketing and local search, contact Most Optimal for help.


Creative Commons image by Tires 8 (Flickr).

Creative Commons image by Tires 8 (Flickr).

Yet another Google update has become active! You might or might not have seen any impacts from Penguin, Panda or Pigeon, but this one might be more likely to make a difference when it comes to local SEO. Possum rolled out on September 1, but things are still changing, so if you see a difference at the moment, you might not see one this time next month or three months from now. As with all of Google’s algorithm changes, a lot of this will require waiting and seeing. Here are some of the changes that might impact your local SEO:

 

Out-of-city-limit companies might get more business.

 

Prior to the Possum update, it was difficult for those companies who are located out of city limits to show up in the top three results for any given keyword. This was true even if their address and zipcode matched those located within city limits. Now Google isn’t penalizing these businesses for their physical locations. Instead, they will tend to show up more for certain keywords based on their postal addresses. What this means for you is that if you are located in an unincorporated area or CDP outside of official city limits but you still have a zipcode indicating that you are part of that city, you will likely get more hits.

 

Those with fake addresses and post office boxes might be penalized.

 

You’re not supposed to be using false addresses or PO boxes on your Google My Business account, but this is enforced fairly inconsistently in some cases. Now, though, businesses with false addresses (or, in some cases, duplicate addresses) will likely find themselves dropped out of the top three search results. It’s not actually a penalty, because the business will likely still be in the search results; they’ll just miss being in the “three-pack.”

 

The location of the user matters.

 

If you are in Orlando and you search for “florists in Orlando,” you’ll now get different results than if you are in Miami searching for “florists in Orlando.” This can affect your search results if you are using “florists near me” as a keyword or if you are a business that routinely gets clients and customers from other areas of the state, country or world.

 

The keywords used matter.

 

There’s not a surefire rhyme or reason for this, but searching for “Orlando florists,” “florists in Orlando,” and “florists Orlando FL” will likely bring up different results on the three-pack. It might be helpful to check out where your business is being ranked the highest when it comes to variations on common keywords.

 

Google likes to keep us guessing, and the Possum update is no exception. Stay tuned for more information as Google finishes up its testing of the various factors and makes more long-term changes to this update.

 

 

 


Creative Commons image by SEO Link

Creative Commons image by SEO Link

If you are involved in creating the SEO content for your website or blog, you know that local SEO can be the way to go for many companies. Specifying your location helps potential consumers know that you are (or are not) in their area, and it also helps you rank higher on Google search lists, because there’s less competition for “hairdressers in Cleveland” than there is for just “hairdressers.” When you create your content and ads, then, you’re going to want to think about using local SEO strategies. Here are a few hints and tips for those new to the idea.

Don’t Go Crazy Listing Town Names

If you are in, say, the Tampa area, you might consider which areas you service and come up with a very long list. Brandon, Lutz, Apollo Beach, Gibsonton, Seffner, Wesley Chapel, Land O Lakes, St. Petersburg, Largo, Clearwater… If you incorporated all of these towns into your copy, Google (and your readers) would suspect you of being spammy. Nobody wants to read a long list of towns that you service. While it’s fine to choose a couple, it’s often just as effective to state “Tampa Bay area,” or “Tampa, St Pete and Clearwater.” If someone in Lutz or Brandon wants to hire you, they’ll assume they’re included in with Tampa Bay — and if you don’t want to service homes in certain towns because they are too far outside of your radius, then you can deal with that when they call. Another option is to include a map on your site. Just avoid listing a bunch of cities, towns or zip codes in the content of your website.

Use Google My Business Appropriately

When putting your business into Google My Business for local search, you need to choose only the towns that you have a physical presence in. That’s it. Do not try to submit your listing to a variety of towns, as it’s not going to do you any good. While we’re on the subject, choose just one or two categories, as well. You can find more information on using Google My Business to boost your local SEO in an article we put up a few months ago.

Don’t Neglect to Ask for Reviews

Having reviews on your Google page, as well as on other pages like Yelp and Facebook, will give your business a needed boost. Having reviews on Google, preferably positive reviews, of course, will give people something to click on. They want to see what other people think about your business! Get into the habit of asking your customers for reviews. Do whatever works: Add a link to your outgoing email, offer an incentive for leaving a review (you could do a drawing each month for a giveaway, and each review gets an entry), straight-up ask customers face-to-face to leave a review, and so on.

Do be aware that you might need to do damage control occasionally if people leave you poor reviews. Remember that you might have to do this even if you didn’t ask for reviews, and since you are asking, you can make a mental note to stay on top of what’s getting posted about your company.

 

Keep up with your competitors by using strategies designed to boost your local SEO for better visibility. If you have questions about how you can make SEO work for you, you can contact Most Optimal.