Get in Front of your Local Customers with these Local SEO Tips

If you have a local business you’d like to drive footfall into then optimising for local search (or ‘local SEO’) can help you achieve your goals. In today’s post we have some quick tips on how to optimise for local searches so you can get your local business in front of the people who need your services, at the time they need them. First let’s set the scene; Google is continuously trying to provide a better search experience for its users, and providing local search results to people searching on mobile and desktop devices is one of the ways they are trying to do this. Here are two examples of how local search results can look: 1. Local Google Search Results on Desktop Devices:
Local Google Search Results
In local results displayed on desktop devices, you will typically see a map and prominently featured star ratings and reviews.
2. Local Google Search Results on Mobile Devices:
Local Google Search Results on Mobile Devices
The presentation of the local results differs on mobiles. Google offers ‘directions’ and an easy option to ‘call’. It’s likely that if you’re on the move, and are searching on a mobile device, these are the things you’re most likely to need.
Quick Tips to Improve Local SEO Here are four quick tips on how you can optimise your business for local search:
  1. Create a Google Places account. If you don’t have one already this is one of the first steps you should take when optimising for local SEO. When you’re creating your Google Places profile make sure you use all of the available options when updating information – this means adding plenty of descriptions and uploading images (and videos if you have them). You should also encourage your customers to leave reviews here too.
  2. Have location specific pages on your website. Whether you have one or more business locations, you should dedicate a page to each of them on your website. This page should clearly feature contact details, perhaps an image of your business, open hours and consider embedding a Google map on these pages too.
  3. Feature addresses and phone numbers accurately and consistently across the board. You will be surprised at what a difference it can make if you have variations of your business address(es) scattered around the web. Google assigns authority to addresses, and if all of the addresses vary (even slightly) then Google can’t assign this authority effectively. Use the exact same address format and details on your website, your Google Places profile, your social listings and in any directories.
  4. Feature “local” keywords on your website and in meta data. This does not mean stuff your meta titles and descriptions and page content with your address or location details, instead use a common sense approach and feature locations in relevant parts of your website, such as your website footer.
There is a lot more to local SEO than these four tips, but these are definitely a good starter for ten. If you’d like some more extensive support or advice with your local SEO, then why not get in touch?      

Getting Started with Content Marketing: What Is It and Why Do You Need It?

Content marketing was one of the hottest buzz-phrases of 2013 (and 2012); it was the talk of the online marketing world and there is no sign of its success or power slowing down. In this blog post we explain what content marketing is and why your business needs it. Content Marketing – What Is It? It’s difficult to define content marketing succinctly as it encompasses such a lot, but in short it is the process of creating, publishing and sharing content that is useful, relevant and engaging to both customers and potential customers. In the digital world a content marketing strategy would be devised with the aim of delivering a number of objectives that might include:
  • Increase website traffic
  • Increase website conversion rates
  • More brand awareness
  • Help SEO
  • Help customers

Content Marketing - How It Can Help Your Business

  What Is ‘Content’? ‘Content’ isn’t just words on a web page, it can be anything and everything from image galleries to FAQs or reviews to videos. This ‘content’ will most frequently sit on your website, however it may sit on other sites such as YouTube or external review sites. Why Content Is So Important To Your Business Content marketing should be an essential part of any digital marketing plan nowadays. It plays a very important role in supporting a number of strategies, some of which we have detailed below: SEO Updates to Google’s algorithms over the last few years have shown how important good website content is, and anyone with thin website content is likely to suffer in coming years if they’re not already. Having plenty of content on your website surrounding the products and services you sell can also help your site to rank in search engines for more non-brand search phrases. Users and Conversion Rates We can’t argue that shopping online is convenient, but sometimes buying online can be difficult. It can be a struggle to find out what materials products are made out of, or to know if the product quality is any good, or how to care for a product once you have it. If a website has plenty of information such as in-depth product descriptions, and aftercare advice, the user is likely to have a better and more reassured shopping experience. This kind of supported shopping experience comes from excellent website content that has the shopper/customer in mind the whole time. Long Term Brand Awareness Rich content that is relevant to your target audience will keep them engaged pre, during and post-sale. This means along the customer conversion journey your brand is in the right place. Plus, if your brand remains in people’s minds weeks, or even months, after a sale through excellent content, then when said customers need the products you sell again, they are more likely to think of your brand. If you’re wondering what part content marketing can play in delivering your online objectives then why not get in touch?  

Big Brands Hit with Google Penalties…. and What We Can Learn from Them

In the last year alone there has been what appears to be large Google penalties handed out to some big brands. In today’s post we take a look at some of the brands that suffered, what they were up to and what we can all learn from their mistakes. Interflora Around a year ago Interflora were subject to a Google penalty. The penalty was so severe that even for brand searches (e.g. “interflora”) their site was nowhere to be seen in Google’s results, and this was the case for around 10 days! Being absent from Google’s natural listings for this period of time would have undoubtedly hit their bottom line hard. Although Google declined to comment on the disappearance of the brand from its search results, it is widely understood that Interflora received the penalty because they were using advertorials as a means of gaining links. Paying for links, in any shape or form, is against Google’s policy. Expedia In January of this year Google hit Expedia with a penalty that saw them lose an estimated 25% of their search visibility, with rankings reportedly being lost on keywords like “hotels” and “airline tickets”. Although both Google and Expedia refused to comment on the situation, research suggests the penalty was imposed due to unnatural linking activity. Underhand techniques, including links appearing in WordPress theme footers and Expedia being present as part of link networks, appeared to have been at play. Halifax Even more recently (around a couple of weeks ago) Halifax appeared to have received a Google penalty too. This looked to have cost them key rankings on what are probably some of the most important phrases to their business: “loans”, “personal loans”, “ISA”. Reports on industry blogs suggest that again unnatural linking behaviour was the cause of their penalty, and that tactics such as paid posts and unnatural link acquisition were in use. What can we learn from their mistakes? With all of the examples above unnatural linking activity was at the root of the brands’ problems. Any link building activity that involves exchanging goods or money for links is bad, and also so are any activities where links are built very quickly for no apparent reason – this is normally representative of being part of a link network. Instead, if you want to build a good back-link profile you should concentrate efforts on:
  • Competitor research as a means of finding good link sources
  • Mix up anchor text and use both your brand name and keywords
  • Have a good and active social media presence in the channels that are most suitable to your business
  • Create excellent content that makes others want to link to it and share it
Today’s post serves as a reminder that anyone, including the huge brands that spend millions with Google, can be hit with a penalty if they don’t abide by the rules. If you’d like some advice on link building, or you think you may have been subject to a Google penalty then get in touch, as we can help you.