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Your business name, address, and phone number must be cited consistently and uniformly across all online platforms, including web and social media and directories (such as Yelp). If your address displays differently, Google will not log it nor display your information in the local listings on search engine result pages (SERPs).
Even if you’re not a restaurant, you should still check online directories like Yelp, claim your business and make sure your address and phone numbers are consistent. It’s easy to check, just search your business name to see how it is displayed in the SERP. If you have an abbreviation like us, i.e. Pacific Software Publishing, Pacific Software Publishing, Inc. and PSPinc, check all of them on search engines. If your business name doesn’t show up in the SERP, you need to start investigating why not. Maybe it's because you never put your address on your website homepage, or Facebook, or Yelp.
Google and other search engines do their best to show the most reliable results, but it all starts with us business owners.
If you put yourself in the consumers’ shoes, would you feel safe purchasing online from a lesser-known or smaller business that doesn’t list their location – even if their website looks great? Personally, I would like to know where the business is located even if I’m getting a great deal on their site. It makes me feel more secure knowing I can contact the company headquarters and it adds legitimacy behind their brand.
So, the moral of the story is your online contact information is important for your local SEO, but also for your business etiquette.
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This month we’ll once again focus on SEO, but we’ll get more specific to ‘local SEO’ since it’s becoming a much more prominent feature in search engine result pages (SERPs).
As we look ahead to 2018, businesses need to be aware of local SEO as another strong marketing tool when planning for next year’s strategies. If your company has an online presence, you’ll want to make sure to include local SEO into your plans and learn how to be a contender in that space.
You’ve probably noticed when you search Google, you get listings for businesses near you, the brick and mortar locations. You could say Google is the new telephone book. Instead of flipping for phone numbers and addresses, we simply search online for that which interests us, and Google will show us a variety of stores nearby with location and contact information. No longer do I have to memorize the phone numbers for my favorite restaurants, because I can pull it up quickly on my smart phone.
With the convenience of searching online via smart phones, and from our activity on social media sites and even email, Google and other search engines have come to know our search behaviors, interests and location, and therefore try to show us the most relevant information. Often you’ll see local shops and contacts for whatever it is you’re searching for.
On the flipside, if you want your business to be the one showing up in SERPs for local SEO, you have some things to work on.
The formula to achieve a local SEO presence is constantly changing, but there are quite a few important factors for you to know, and we’ll discuss those in detail in December.
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Once you have your keywords defined, your SEO in place and your PPC up and running, how do you tell if it’s working for you? You want your business exposed to more people – your target audience – but in the end your ultimate goal is to generate revenue.
If you’re getting clicks into your site, but no engagements or transactions, meaning people are bouncing out, that doesn’t do your business any good. So let’s figure out how to measure the results of your keyword campaigns and analyze a good strategy going forward. The best way to do this is by tracking the users who visit your site.
There are many tools available to you, but the most commonly used tool is Google Analytics. It’s free and simple to use by embedding tracking tags into your site. You will be able to capture data such as number of visitors, repeat visitors, their general demographics, their behaviors like how long they stayed on your site and where they departed. This kind of information will help you make intelligent decisions going forward, and help you fine tune your campaigns or web pages.
If you find that people are bouncing out, maybe you need to try some new keywords, or your target audience needs to be reassessed. Or perhaps you simply need to rethink your content or call to action in hopes to better connect with your audience.
Whatever it might be, the answer lies in the data. Tracking and analyzing visitor behavior on your site can open up a world of insight into what’s working and what’s not.
image source: pixabay.com
Sticking with our “electric bike” keyword example, let’s analyze what the #1 organic search listing did to get such prestigious page position. Search results may look different from person to person, but in general, the fundamental reasons for different listings to rank high are the same.
According to Google:
“Relevancy is determined by over 200 factors, one of which is the PageRank for a given page. PageRank is the measure of the importance of a page based on the incoming links from other pages. In simple terms, each link to a page on your site from another site adds to your site's PageRank. “ (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/70897?hl=en)
Another factor for PageRank relevancy is content. We’ve said it before, content is king in the world of search engines. You need to craft your web content using the keywords you want to rank for. Wherever it makes sense (and it should read naturally), use keywords within the text of your pages, within image file names, within the URLs including your domain name, folder and HTML file names.
When I searched “electric bike” this listing came up on top: https://electricbikereview.com/best-electric-bikes/.
As you can see just from this, both the domain name and the folder name contain the keyword “electric bike.”
When I scanned the webpage further, I found the critical keywords plugged into the content:
bike- 140 times
electric- 119 times
electric bike- 96 times
It makes sense this one page ranks so high with that many keywords included!
There isn’t an overnight solution to rank high organically on search engine results, but it is true that your content matters, and can help get you there eventually.
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Okay, today we are going to pause the keyword talk! Today is Thanksgiving, so in the spirit of fun and thankfulness, we tech-minded folks at PSPinc want to “give thanks” for the technology that has changed our lives in the past 30 years.
We don’t often reflect on how far we’ve come so quickly, so join us as we take a walk down memory lane to highlight some of our favorite innovations. Today, we’re thankful for:
The Mouse (1946)
A trackball pointed device was developed for a fire control radar plotting system – which was the birth and concept of today’s mouse.
The Internet (1950s)
The development of Internet began in the 1950s with an initial concept of a wide-area network in several science labs. This became ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) in the 1960’s and was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense as a method of networking computers.
A product called Sketchpad was introduced, the first of its kind to navigate a computer through its graphical user interface program (GUI). This prompted the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) to introduce the Xerox Star 8010 in the 1970s, with the standard GUI known today. The center also led many other technology inventions, such as laser printing.
Ethernet, the wired network system, was designed at Xerox PARC. The same year, the first handheld cellular mobile phone was developed, which went to the market in 1983 by Motorola.
IBM Personal Computer
IBM introduced its model 5150 as a Personal Computer. The word PC was born, leading our computing platform of today.
Apple Macintosh Computer
Apple’s first Macintosh went on sale two days after its famous Super Bowl XVIII ad. (https://youtu.be/VtvjbmoDx-I)
Our business is built upon the foundation of these great inventions, and we are thankful it has allowed us to innovate and create new technologies for our customer base. Happy Thanksgiving to all, and we’ll catch up with more on our keyword conversation next week!
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Let’s go back to the keyword “electric bike.” Remember, it got 23.5 million search results. When I searched more specific keywords like “electric bike seattle” or “affordable electric bike” the results went down drastically, meaning the pool of competitive advertisers got smaller. Sometimes it’s best to narrow down the search results (and the competition) by choosing more specific keywords.
You should also bring your attention to the map. When your search results bring up a map, you’ll see local bike shops around the region. If you click “more,” now you’ll see only a few ads at the top followed by only a few pages of results and probably 30-50 shops. Competing with 50 is much easier than trying to stand out among 23.5 million.
This is called Local SEO.
Instead of putting your effort towards the bigger population, you put your time and energy towards getting recognized within the region. Please note that Google displays the local search results when it makes sense. For example, “electric bike” shows the local search results, but when you search a keyword like “search engine optimization,” you won’t see local business information on a map. From what we know, Google shows the local search results for companies with brick and mortar stores.
So how do we show up in the local search results list?
Here are the key points to know:
- Have your location information on your website (i.e. name, address, and phone number).
- Be 100% consistent with the spelling of the above information throughout your site.
- Add your target keywords in places that make sense throughout your website.
- Claim your business on Google My Business at https://www.google.com/business.
- If your business has a presence on the web elsewhere, such as a social media sites or website member directories, make sure all information is correct and consistent.
Make sure your business contact information is listed and accurate wherever you have an online presence so search engine crawlers can index your information and display your website among the local search results.
Once you determine the keywords your target audience would search to find your type of business online, what next? Now, you need to understand the two ways your keywords will get your business found – via SEO or PPC.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) means growing your page rank and popularity in search results organically, meaning you don’t pay anything to earn your position on a search results page. Pay-per-click (PPC), on the other hand, is where you pay to have your links displayed in search results by bidding on keywords.
Let’s cover the easier one first: PPC
Google is by far the most popular search engine for PPC, and its program is called AdWords. You pay per each time someone clicks into your link in the search results pages, after they’ve typed in a search term (keyword or phrase) you bid on. The keywords are auctioned off, and you bid for position to outrank others also wanting to show up for that keyword. Keyword prices vary greatly depending on their popularity, anywhere from a few cents to $50.
If you want that very first spot on the first page of the search results, you will be paying more per click than the advertisers below you, or those on the second and third pages of the search results.
The handy thing is you can control your budget and set parameters so you won’t spend over a certain amount per day, or week, or month.Let’s say you want to bid on a very popular, expensive keyword and show up high in the search results for one day, but your budget is $100. You can set it up in the admin tools to stop showing your ads once you’ve met that amount. You get to control your budget and the length of your ad campaigns so spending doesn’t get out of control.
We suggest that business owners with a new website or domain spend $100 to $200 on PPC to boost the new URLs. We’ve seen that getting started with PPC actually helps the website’s organic SEO rankings.
We also suggest the A/B test method – basically you run two different campaigns for PPC and compare the results. Comparing the two after a few weeks should tell you if one or the other brought you not only more traffic, but more quality leads. Are a certain set of keywords in one campaign converting to sales? Maybe the other campaign isn’t producing any leads at all. If the results for one campaign are not to your expectations, drop it and try another.
And just for fun, check out the most expensive keywords in Google AdWords: “insurance,” “loan,” “mortgage,” “attorney,” and “credit,” priced somewhere in the $40s - $50s per click!
image source: pixabay.com
When thinking about the keywords that apply to your business, it might benefit you (and your budget) to take the “big fish in a little pond” versus the "little fish in a big pond” approach. What I mean by that is some keywords like “electric bike” are going to be more generic and generate a lot more results than a more specific version of the keyword, like “reliable electric bike.” Fine-tuning your keywords to include an adjective or a location may help reduce your competition in the search results pages. It creates a smaller pond of search results where you could end up getting noticed more easily – like that big fish.
Sticking with our “electric bike” example, what are some other ways to narrow the search term so we reduce the size of our pond? What are some good adjectives? I’ve already done a little research for you, and here are the search results:
electric bike- 23.5 million
best electric bike- 8.76 million
best electric bicycle- 6.35 million
cheap electric bike- 5.21 million
reliable electric bike- 2.17 million
affordable electric bike- 2.78 million
Now you see the drastic difference between searching “electric bike” and “reliable electric bike.” “What is the best electric bike brand” is a keyword phrase that gives 13.2 million results, showing up somewhere in the middle. But you can see even though the keyword itself is a several-word phrase, it’s popular enough to be searched by many people.
You can always research Google to figure out the best phrase combinations for your keywords, but you want to make sure those keywords fit your ideal customer base. As stated in my previous blog, if you choose the word “cheap electric bike,” you are not going to sell your bikes if they sell at a higher price than your competitors. People may click to your site, but they will bounce out just as fast if they were expecting another price point. You might leave them with an untrustworthy taste in their mouth too, which is never a good reputation to have in business.
Choose your keywords wisely – ones that are genuine and give an honest representation of who you are, what you sell, or what you do.
“Hanging out the proverbial shingle.” “Starting your own thing.”
Whatever you call it, a small business is one of the great American dreams. Who doesn’t love being their own boss, setting their own schedule and building something with your name on the door?
Sure, there’s risk involved, but let’s face it. Crossing the street is a risk. Venturing outside during flu season is a risk. Life is basically a never-ending game of risk-reward. And one of the biggest rewards of starting a company is the ability to turn your passion into your job. Why be an accountant with a passion for gardening, when you can start a landscaping business, right?
If only it was that simple. Building a business takes passion, but it also takes other things. Like web sites, web hosting, email marketing and that little thing called social media. And for a person who loves petunias but fears pixels, it can be well, paralyzing.
But fear not, great-American-small-business-dream-chaser. The best thing you can do for your company’s digital presence…is to not do it alone. Every hour you spend learning how to code a web site or dealing with domain registration is an hour you could be spending mastering your passion. Which is where your company’s potential truly lies. So focus on what you do best, and hand off the reigns of your digital presence to people who do it best. Even better, find a partner who sees the digital world as their passion. See how that works?
A true digital partner will not only get your business online, but they will help it thrive. So here are a few things to consider when picking a partner to manage your company’s digital ecosystem:
HOLISTIC DIGITAL SERVICES
A great web site is just the first step. After all, fancy design and a catchy URL won’t do much if it’s not seamlessly connected to your entire business, including billing, scheduling, customer retention and more. Make sure your partner has the capability to not only build and host your site, but to build in the connectivity your site will need to fuel your company’s growth.
If your site goes down, your business goes down with it. Make sure your site is built rock-solid for increased traffic, and hosted by reputable partners so that you never have to turn away customers. Because when customers have a bad experience, they usually become former customers.
Most importantly, look for a digital partner that will have your back when it counts. Who do you call when you need help? When are they available? If you have to call some other country only to deal with someone reading off a script who then shuffles you off into customer service no-man’s land, that’s not good enough. Your small business will be built on a foundation of personal connections and reputation, so demand the same from your digital partner. You need a digital concierge, not just an “IT guy.” They should know your name, and what keeps you up at night. If they don’t, find a partner who does.
If you are starting a small business, I applaud you, because you are truly the engine that drives this country. Of course, you will no doubt feel overwhelmed at times with all the hats you have to wear, so do yourself a favor. Hand off that big, shiny digital hat to a trusted partner who will look after your digital ecosystem. That way, you can focus on turning that passion into a thriving, rewarding business.
Mayumi Nakamura is President and CEO of Dreamersi, a full-service firm who builds and maintains stress-free digital ecosystems for small businesses.
image source: pixabay.com
It’s more and more obvious that search engines are trying to show the most useful and relevant information to us, according to our online behavior. As I stated in my last article
, when I searched “electric bike” on Google, I ended up getting 23.5 million results from it. But when I looked closely, I realized Google map displayed shops with reviews near my physical location, tailoring the search to me specifically.
Google can tell my location from an IP address (Internet Protocol address) – sort of like a telephone number for your computer’s internet connection. Every internet connection has an IP address consisting of four blocks of numbers ranging from 0 to 255. So, for example: 012.23.234.45.
The point is, it’s impossible for us to do a search that doesn’t take into account our location data – whether using your PC, smart phone or tablet. My search results will always be somewhat different than yours based on our IP address and past searches.
Now that you know how search engines work for individuals, let’s take a moment to figure out your potential customers. The combination of understanding both will help you pick out the right keywords for your online ads.
If you are an electric bike manufacturer, let’s start with your price point. If you have high-end bikes, your target audience must be able to afford your prices. On my own Google search, I see prices ranging from $300 to $7000! If you make and sell expensive bikes, most likely you don’t want to use the word “cheap” or “inexpensive” within your keywords because you won’t be attracting the right customers and you won’t see the return on your ad investment.
By this process of elimination, you’ve just begun “defining” your audience and “refining” your keywords. As we discussed in a previous article, knowing your target audience
will really help you refine those keywords yet to come. In the next article, we’ll dig deeper into getting more specific with your keywords.
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