Archiv für den Monat: November 2017

What are sitelinks and how can I get them?

Back in 2015, we published an article entitled ‘How do I get sitelinks to appear in my site’s search results?‚ which looked at how to get the hallowed set of additional links which can appear beneath your website’s SERP listing, known as ‘sitelinks‘.

At the time of publication, this was all up-to-the-minute, cutting-edge information. However, since then, Google has made a change to the way that Search Console handles sitelinks, making our invaluable words of wisdom sadly outdated.

As a result, we’ve written up this refreshed and revised guide containing everything you need to know about sitelinks and how you can give yourself the best chance of getting them.

What are sitelinks?

As I hinted at in the introduction just now, sitelinks are additional links which appear beneath the main URL for a brand or publisher when you search for it on Google. They deep link to other pages within your site, and are designed by Google to “help users navigate your site”.

N.B.: These are not to be confused with sitelink extensions in Google AdWords, which are very similar but appear in AdWords ads. AdWords users have full control over whether these links appear and what they contain, unlike organic links – as we’ll cover in just a moment.

In some cases, sitelinks will also appear with a handy searchbox which lets the user search within your site directly from the SERP.

Here’s what the sitelinks for Search Engine Watch look like:

Sadly, no searchbox as of yet.

Right away you can see that these are a mixture of category pages, static pages within our site, and the odd article.

A couple of these are links we would choose to feature – the SEO and PPC categories are key sections of our site – but others are decidedly not: Online Marketing Guides, for example, is a static page from nearly two years ago which links to articles on search engines of different kinds.

The reason for this is that Google pulls in sitelinks automatically, rather than letting the publisher choose what they want to feature.

Sitelinks can be a little bit of a double-edged sword in this regard: even if you can get Google to display them, they might not necessarily be the links you would have chosen to display.

But having sitelinks appear under your search result is still a positive thing overall. Here’s why:

They give your brand more SERP real estate

You can get up to six sitelinks for your SERP listing, plus a searchbox if you can wrangle one. On desktop, this means that four or five times as much SERP space is given over to your listing, while on mobile, a sitelinked listing can take up the entire screen.

This has the benefit of further pushing down any irrelevant or unwanted results, news articles or social mentions for your site – as well as any competitor results that might appear – and makes users more likely to click on your website rather than another result about you.

Based on the statistic that the first three results in search account for nearly 55% of all clicks, Blogging Wizard calculated that having sitelinks could boost click-through rate for the top result by around 20%.

They give the user more options for navigating your site

Users searching for your site on Google might not necessarily want to land on your homepage. Sitelinks on the SERP provide them with a direct link to other parts of your site which might be more relevant to them, or encourage them to explore sections that they might not have known about.

If your SERP result has a quick search bar, they can use it to navigate directly to the page they’re looking for, saving them a step in the user journey.

They direct traffic to other (possibly under-served) areas of your site

Hopefully your website is laid out in a way that allows users to easily find the content or pages that you want to promote. But even then, they are unlikely to be as visible or straightforward to click through to as a link on the SERP.

Sitelinks have the benefit of distributing organic search traffic that would normally be concentrated on your homepage across other areas of your site. However, one side effect of this that is that these pages will effectively become landing pages for your site, and so you should bear in mind that a lot of people might be forming their first impression of your site from these pages.

True, anyone can click a link to a part of your site other than the homepage and land on your site that way, but these links are present on Google, and you can guarantee that a certain percentage of users are clicking them to get to your site. So make sure they look their best!

What Google changed about sitelinks

Up until October 2016, Google had one feature which allowed site owners a small modicum of control over which pages could be displayed as sitelinks for their website.

Google Search Console previously had an option to ‘demote‘ sitelinks, in which site owners could specify any URL they particularly didn’t want to appear as a sitelink. Google said that while it couldn’t guarantee the page would never appear, it would “get the hint”.

But late last year, Google Webmasters made the announcement that, “after some discussion & analysis”, they would be removing the Demote Sitelinks setting in Search Console. They elaborated,

“Over the years, our algorithms have gotten much better at finding, creating, and showing relevant sitelinks, and so we feel it’s time to simplify things.”

In other words – we believe we have the ability to display the most relevant sitelinks for the user, without your input!

Google did also offer some insight into how site owners can influence the sitelinks that appear for their website, saying:

“We only show sitelinks for results when we think they’ll be useful to the user. If the structure of your site doesn’t allow our algorithms to find good sitelinks, or we don’t think that the sitelinks for your site are relevant for the user’s query, we won’t show them. […] Sitelinks have evolved into being based on traditional web ranking, so the way to influence them is the same as other web pages.”

They followed this up with a few best practice tips to help improve the quality of sitelinks for your website.

So, I know you’re dying for me to get to the good bit already: What can you do to make sitelinks, and more importantly the right sitelinks, appear for your website?

How can I get sitelinks for my website?

Overall, the best practice advice for how to get sitelinks to appear for your website boils down to having a high-quality site which Google can crawl easily. Google itself mentions in the excerpt above that the “structure of your site” needs to allow its algorithms to find good sitelinks, or it won’t display them.

Luckily, the steps you can take to improve your chances of getting sitelinks are all things that will improve your overall SEO, and make your website easier to navigate for visitors. You may find that you’re already doing several of them.

Rank #1 for your brand name in search results

This one might seem like a no-brainer to some, but the most basic prerequisite for getting sitelinks is that you be the top ranked search result when someone searches for your brand or website name. Google doesn’t award sitelinks to the second, third, fourth or other lower-down SERP rankings.

For example, if I search for Wired magazine from the UK, the UK publication – wired.co.uk – is the one that ranks top for its brand name and gets sitelinks, while its US site, wired.com, ranks lower down.

If you’re struggling to rank #1 for your brand name among other websites with a similar or the same name, a rebrand to a more unique name or URL might give you a better chance of getting to the top.

Build and submit an XML sitemap

A sitemap is a lot like what it sounds like: a ‘map‘ of your website which lists every page on the site, which can be designed for users or for search engines, in both cases to help them navigate the site.

In this case, we’re talking about a file hosted on your website’s server which tells search engines about the organization of your site’s content, and allow search spiders to more intelligently crawl your site.

Google Search Console Help Center has a set of instructions that you can follow on how to build and submit a sitemap. If you have a WordPress site, though, you can sit back and relax as a sitemap is already automatically generated and submitted to search engines for you.

Other steps that you can take that will allow search engines to crawl your site more quickly and accurately:

  • Make sure that your site’s structure and hierarchy are as clear and logical as possible, with your homepage as the “root” page (the starting point). For example, if you’re an online retailer selling clothing, the navigation for your site might be formatted like this:

Home > Clothing > Women’s Clothing > Accessories > Handbags

If you have any legacy structures within your site that make navigation obscure or overly complicated, now might be the time to overhaul them.

  • Use internal links with clear and informative anchor text.
  • Make sure that the pages on your site are well-linked to each other, particularly the ones you want to appear as sitelinks – Google takes the number of internal/external links into account when judging the importance of pages for sitelinks.
  • Use Fetch as Google to test whether Google can crawl and index important pages within your site.
  • Make sure that your website’s main menu only features the most important categories.
  • Use relevant and accurate meta descriptions, title tags and alt text throughout your site.
  • Avoid thin, insubstantial content, duplicate content and of course spammy-looking keyword stuffing techniques.
  • Try to improve your site speed and page load times, and make sure that your site is mobile-optimized to maximize your chances of getting sitelinks on mobile.

Whew! That was a lot of points, but as I say, the steps you can take to have the best chance of getting sitelinks are mostly just good overall SEO practices, and you should be doing most of them anyway.

Bear in mind that there’s no still guarantee sitelinks will appear after you do this, but you’ll be in a much better position to get them.

How can I get a searchbox to appear with my sitelinks?

All of this advice so far has dealt purely with how to get sitelinks to appear for your website, but as I’ve mentioned, some lucky websites are also awarded with a handy searchbox which allows users to search your site directly from the SERP.

Is there anything you can do to influence whether or not this searchbox appears for your site? To an extent, yes.

While whether or not you get a sitebox at all is still at the mercy of Google, once you have one, it’s possible to configure it to use your site’s internal search engine to search your site (instead of Google, which is the default). Google Developers has a Sitelinks Searchbox page which details how you can use structured data markup to implement a searchbox that uses your website’s own search engine.

The jury’s out on whether implementing this will increase your likelihood of getting a searchbox to begin with (if you’ve got any data on this either way, it’d be interesting to know!).

But if for some reason you want to make sure that your brand’s search result doesn’t come with a searchbox attached, there’s a way to prevent that. Simply add the following meta tag to your site’s homepage:

So there you have it: everything you need to know about how to maximize your chances of getting sitelinks. In short, have a quality website, follow SEO best practices, and lay out the welcome mat for search spiders.

Source:: searchenginewatch.com

Content Marketing Lessons from 4 Holiday Ad Fails

Making a great holiday ad should be simple. Start with a heartwarming message about love, peace, and goodwill. Add twinkling lights and evergreen trees and families getting warm by a fire. Then add your brand’s logo discreetly toward the bottom right. There you have it – a holiday ad that won’t offend, creep out, or annoy anyone.

It’s an easy formula, but one that a surprising number of brands mess up every year. Fortunately for us, they mess up in entertaining and educational ways. It’s almost easier to learn from a cautionary tale than a role model, so reveling in bad marketing can make you a better marketer.

These four holiday ads are certified disastrous, each in their own special way. And each has a lesson – or two – that marketers can use all year round. So prepare yourself for blasphemous meat products and yodeling cats: It’s time for some festive marketing fails.

1. Sour Sentiment from KFC

Last year, KFC created this music video, which is inexplicably three minutes long:

If you have better things to do with three minutes, the song is about how awful the holidays are, how people are annoying, how children are the absolute worst…but we can all come together because KFC is delicious.

KFC’s a notoriously “edgy” brand on social media, so it makes sense they would launch a sourball right at the heart of the holiday season. But this video leaves a worse aftertaste than their potato wedges do.

I believe comedy is great for marketing. But there are so many layers of irony and misanthropy here that it’s hard for the joke to breathe – by the time the gospel choir comes in, it’s impossible not to roll your eyes. And even if it made you chuckle all the way through, did it make you hungry for KFC?

My Content Marketing Takeaway: Humor is great for marketing. Irony less so. Snarkiness infinitely less so. Stick with humor that invites your audience into your tribe and makes them feel good.

2. Sainsbury’s Turns a War Story into a Commercial

On the complete opposite side of the irony spectrum, we have the absolute deadly earnestness of Sainsbury’s Christmas ad from 2016. After you watch the video, you’re invited to watch two different behind-the-scenes videos – they’re that proud:

The ad tells the true story of American and German troops in 1914 that called a cease-fire on Christmas Day. They sang songs together, celebrated the holiday, and then returned to trying to kill each other the next day (the video stops short of that last bit).

There’s nothing wrong with telling this story, and even nothing wrong with a brand telling it. But it’s still cringe-inducing to have that ad tagline and Sainsbury’s logo pop up at the end. It makes me feel manipulated by a brand, rather than entertained by a story.

My Content Marketing Takeaway: If your brand is approaching sensitive subject matter, keep the branding subtle. Let the content take center stage, and don’t turn a beautiful moment into a commercial.

3. Gregg Bakery’s Sausage Savior

British bakery chain Greggs stirred up controversy this year with their advent calendar announcement. The ad featured a nativity scene with a sausage roll in place of the baby Jesus. Not surprisingly, some Christians objected to the imagery. And some people thought it was hilarious. And the bakery apologized while not really apologizing.

Greggs picked up some free publicity from the stunt, of course. But none of that publicity had to do with their delicious pastries. And they’re getting eyerolls from folks who are tired of edgy brands courting controversy during the holidays. It’s a tired move.

My Content Marketing Takeaway: I’m all for drawing in your tribe, even to the extent of repelling those who aren’t your target audience, by leading with your brand’s values. Stirring up pointless controversy doesn’t tell anyone about your brand, and doesn’t make a meaningful distinction to your target audience.

4. Whatever This Is that Walmart Did

My words are my livelihood. My words are my only weapon against the world. But for this… I have no words. Just watch.

So. Yodeling cat in a Santa hat for 51 seconds: Walmart! Right?

The thing is, this ad made some kind of sense back in 2011, when it came out. It fits in with an animation trend from the late ‘00s. Today, it’s just ugly and off-putting. And, of course, even back in the day it didn’t have anything to do with Wal-Mart.

My Content Marketing Lesson: Make your marketing timeless rather than trendy, useful rather than “viral,” sensible instead of utter screaming nonsense.

Happy Holidays and Beyond

When holiday advertising works, it’s a fine example of what content marketing can be: Uplifting, entertaining, empathetic, even valuable. When too much snark, aggressive branding, pointless controversy, or cat-yodeling gets in the way – well – at least it can serve as a warning to the rest of us.

Are you already looking past the holidays to the New Year? Explore four emerging marketing channels for 2018.


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How Do I Rank Higher in Google Local Search? Our Checklist for Local SEO

Local content types diagram by Mike Ramsay

How Do I Rank Higher in Google Local Search? Our Checklist for Local SEO was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

The good news: Showing up in Google’s search engine can be extremely beneficial to your local business.

The bad news: Google doesn’t care if you rank high or low. It cares only that there are quality results that answer the query to the total satisfaction of the searcher.

So the pressing question is, how do you rank higher on Google Maps and Google local search results? Improving your local search rankings is possible, and the results are very real. A Google study found that:

  • 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information.
  • 50 percent of local smartphone searches lead to a store visit in less than a day.
  • 18 percent of local searches on a smartphone result in a sale within a day.

If you’re asking, “How does Google local search work, and how can I rank higher in local search?” then this local SEO checklist is for you!

I first presented these 41 factors that contribute to local search ranking at Pubcon earlier this month (see my slide deck at the end). Here, I list them executive summary style, to help you understand how you can increase your local search rankings.

Disclaimers: Each of these topics could be an article in itself, but I’ve tried to give brief explanations and links for further reading, in keeping with a list format. This is not an exhaustive list of local ranking factors. It’s not in priority order either, but grouped into general categories which you can jump to as follows:

Housekeeping Signals

1. Branding
Being a respected business in your community will increase your local search visibility. Google pays a lot of attention a brand’s perceived trust and expertise. Even if you’re just starting out, aim for happy customers and consistent quality to attract traffic and mentions.

2. Domain name
Your website’s name should accurately represent your business or brand. It’ll be in every URL, so make it something appropriate and easily remembered. Don’t use a keyword phrase alone (e.g., www.FloristLosAngeles.com) to avoid an exact match domain (EMD) penalty. On the other hand, including a keyword as part of your domain (e.g., www.FirstStreetDental.com) can help you as a local business if it’s tied into your brand name. Search algorithms are getting better and better at weeding out low-quality results, so make sure your domain doesn’t look like spam.

3. Hosting
When it comes to web hosting, think about speed, availability, and maintained software. Choose a host that ensures your content is served up quickly, since page load speed is now a factor in Google’s algorithm. Beyond the hosting platform, there are many ways to speed up your web pages. Using Accelerated Mobile Pages and/or Progressive Web Apps may be worth considering, as well.

4. Content management system (CMS)
Above all else, your CMS should be easy to use. Here, WordPress is king, consistently the top CMS used on the web. Consider how you can improve your system’s functionality with plugins — WordPress.org lists 1,864 plugins for “local” alone. And, don’t forget about a WordPress SEO plugin, too.

5. Compatibility
We’re in a mobile-first world, with the majority of searches happening on smartphones and Google evaluating sites based on their mobile friendliness. Check your site to make sure it’s mobile friendly and optimized for mobile devices — otherwise, your rankings and visitor counts will suffer. Voice search is the next big area of compatibility.

6. Email
Use your business’s domain in your email address (@bruceclay.com) rather than @gmail or another generic provider. It’s a small point, but worth putting on the housekeeping checklist to increase your professionalism and perceived trustworthiness.

Keywords and Content Signals

7. Keyword and content gap analysis
Identify the keywords working for you in terms of hitting key performance indicators and bringing in revenue. Use keyword research to find additional phrases that can serve your personas/community, and examine your competition online for their keywords. Wherever you find a gap in your own content compared to the top-ranking sites, expand accordingly.

8. Detailed competitive review
To get a more in-depth look at your competition, you’ll need to perform a detailed review. Examine their performance in every area in this checklist, then outdo them. The goal is to be the least imperfect with your local SEO.

9. Content creation
Content that informs, educates or entertains readers improves your engagement. We recommend siloing your web content based on the themes your business is about. Set up your navigation and internal links carefully to create a hierarchical structure for the content on your site. Doing so will strengthen your site’s relevance and expertise around those topics.

10. Content variety
Many different types of content can be “localized” to pertain specifically to your community. The list includes images, news, events, blog posts, videos, ads, tools and more. Having a variety of types of content indexed also gives your site more opportunity to rank, since they can appear in the vertical search engines (e.g., Google Images, YouTube, etc.).

Local content types diagram by Mike Ramsey

11. Content creation strategies
To establish yourself as a local authority, tell local stories and express your opinion about the topics your business and your customers are focused on. Excellent content can become a strategy for attracting search traffic and also local expert links.

12. Local videos
When you create videos that are appropriate to your website and region, you’ll soon discover that people will share them more on a local level. Build landing pages for your videos on your site to attract links and mentions. You can do this by uploading a video to your YouTube channel first, then embedding it on your page (copy the HTML right from YouTube’s Share tab into your page’s code).

13. Long-tail rankings
Use locally relevant content to rank higher in searches around the Local Pack. Examples would include posts like “The 5 Best Restaurants in Las Vegas,” which could answer long-tail queries such as, “What are the best restaurants in Las Vegas.”

14. Local relevance
Having content that’s locally focused can improve your reputation and reach in your area. This requires more than doing a find-and-replace on the city name to create hundreds of basically duplicate pages. You can start with templates, but make sure you’re including enough customized text, images and data to be locally relevant.

15. Landing pages
For the best local results, create optimal landing pages. For example, if your brand serves a wide region, you might have a different landing page for each city in that region, like “dog grooming Simi Valley” and “dog grooming Thousand Oaks.”

16. Schema NAP+W
Schema markup is code you can add to your website to help search engines understand your various types of information. According to Searchmetrics, pages with schema markup rank an average of four positions higher in search results.

Local businesses need schema in particular to call out their name, address, phone and website URL, also known as NAP+W, as well as hours of operation and much more. As an example, here’s what schema for our NAP+W would look like in the page code:

Local business schema markup example

Local business schema markup example (in Google’s preferred format, JSON-LD)

Google is planning to expand its use of schema, so be sure to take advantage of all the structured data that applies to your content. Check out Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to confirm you’re implementing schema correctly.

17. Information in the Local Pack
Search engines want to make sure local business information is valid before presenting it in the “Local Pack” (the handful of local listings Google displays at the top of a web search results page, with addresses and a map). A business’s proximity to the searcher heavily influences whether it shows up in Local Pack results, so your location matters.

Keep your NAP+W data consistent across all sources. This is a local SEO priority, as it improves the search engines‘ confidence in your business listing’s accuracy.

Be sure to include your business address on your own website. You can do this in the footer so it appears on every page, or at least show it on your contact page.

18. Google Map embedded
By adding a Google map to your contact page or footer, you can quickly show searchers and search engines exactly where you’re located. Using an embedded map rather than a static map image provides extra functionality and reduces friction — a human visitor can just click the map and grab directions. On our site, the embedded map shows in the footer when a user clicks [Location & Hour Information]:

Embedded Google Map on BruceClay.com

Embed a Google Map to add an interactive element to your site.

19. Testimonials
To boost your brand’s credibility, you’ll need to get some local reviews or testimonials. Earn them (here’s a list of SEO-approved ways to get local reviews) and then add them, localized and with the author identified whenever possible. Testimonials, especially on a local level, can have a big impact. Seventy-three percent of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.

20. Hawk update
In the past, Google filtered out local listings that shared the same address or that were on the same street (part of the Possum update) under the assumption that those sites belonged to one business trying to get multiple listings. But since the August 2017 Hawk update, Google seems to have removed “same address” filtering for organic ranking.

On-Page Signals

21. Technical on-page SEO
On-page elements are critical to get right for organic SEO on any web page. In addition to the standard optimization items (see our always-up-to-date SEO checklist for a list), a locally targeted page should have:

  • City in the title tag
  • Schema markup (as appropriate to the page contents)
  • Do not stuff keywords
  • Do not simply find-and-replace city names
  • Appropriate reading level and complexity (compare top-ranking pages to find your sweet spot)

22. Local keyword optimization
Be sure to mention local keywords on your web pages (such as the name of your city, state or region and other geographical/local references) to help solidify Google’s understanding of your location and help you rank for local keyword queries.

Linking Signals

23. Local link building
You cannot rank in a city without having local links. When relevant, quality websites within your city link back to you, it shows you’re a trusted local brand. Only links coming from unique IPs, unique domains and unique WhoIs for your geographic area will help you rank, so don’t fall for link schemes. The anchor text (clickable text) used in the links also send a signal to search engines. (See more link building guidelines.)

24. Local directories
To make it easier for searchers to find you, you’ll want to be included in geotargeted directories for services, such as Yellow Pages online, a local restaurant database, or other. These citations add more weight to your site in the local search ranking algorithms. (This interview with local expert Darren Shaw gives helpful information on local listings, including a directory list.)

25. Social and web mentions
Are people talking about your brand online? Even if they don’t include a link, brand mentions on social media platforms show engagement and interest in your business. These linkless mentions (and also “nofollow” links) help your business by attracting new customers and reinforcing your brand’s reputation, which can even influence local search rankings. Use a tool like GeoRanker to identify local citations and social media tools to keep tabs on the conversation.

26. External links
Boost your credibility by linking to local expert resources that would be useful to your site visitors. Choose external web pages that are relevant to your subject matter and region. Remember that in order to be viewed as a local expert, you should visibly network with other local experts.

27. Competitor backlinks
If someone is linking to your competition, they might link to you as well. Start by looking at the backlink profile of your top-ranked competitors (using a backlink analysis tool such as Majestic, Ahrefs or other). Identify good candidates — high-quality and relevant sites that don’t already link to yours. Then see if you can earn links from those same sites.

Local Pack Signals

28. NAP+W consistency
As mentioned earlier, NAP+W refers to your business name, address, phone number and website URL. The goal here is for your NAP+W to be consistent across the board — wherever it’s listed online. For local optimization, you don’t want to have various versions of your address and phone number out there, such as:

NAP inconsistencies per Yext tool

NAP inconsistencies identified should be fixed (via Yext)

To see if your NAP+W is consistent, try Yext’s free test.

29. Google My Business (GMB) optimization
Having a Google My Business listing is critical for businesses with service areas and physical businesses. It’s a free business listing to start building your visibility in Google Maps and Google Search.

In addition to ensuring NAP+W information is accurate, here are some optimization tips for your Google listing:

  • Add a unique description about your business. Make it long (400+ words), formatted correctly, and include links to your website.
  • Add your open business hours.
  • Select the best categories for your business (use Blumenthal’s Google Places for Business Category Tool).
  • Include a high-resolution profile cover image, plus as many additional photos as possible.
  • Use a local phone number (not a toll-free number).
  • Encourage reviews from your customers.
  • Use Google Posts to enhance your brand’s Knowledge Panel with upcoming events or special news. Your post displays only temporarily (usually for seven days), but will remain visible to anyone looking up your brand using Google mobile search, so make each post unique.

Secondly, create and optimize your business listing on Bing Places for Business.

30. Check your site on Google Maps
Your Google My Business listing and schema also help get your business to show up in Google Maps. Since navigation systems and customers may refer to Google Maps to find you, make sure the pin marks the correct location for your business. Here’s how to add or edit your site in Google Maps.

31. Local business listings
Increase your visibility by including your business on sites such as Yelp, Thomson Local, Angie’s List, Yellow Pages, TripAdvisor, Urbanspoon, OpenTable, Merchant Circle and Foursquare, as well as local travel and news sites — choose the sites that fit your type of business and customer base.

32. Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Boost your credibility by ensuring that your business is listed with the BBB. Monitor your ratings there and display your BBB rating on your website as a trust signal for visitors. As with all local directories, make sure your location information on BBB matches your NAP+W.

33. Citation building and reviews
Reviews will usually reflect absolute happiness or absolute misery. So it’s important to monitor the quantity and sentiment of your online reviews so you can actively manage your reputation.

  • Review sites to monitor include: Facebook, Google, Yelp, Bing, local chamber websites and more.
  • Sites where citations and mentions may occur include: Reddit, Quora, news media sites like WSJ, etc.
  • Consider adding a page to your website with instructions on how to provide reviews and feedback.

34. Location pages
It’s recommended that you have one or more pages on your site dedicated to each location your business is in. Dedicate a page to each keyword, for example, “real estate agent, Simi Valley” (services, then city). Design this to be a good landing page for anyone searching within that area, and make the content unique. Avoid laundry lists or simply doing a wild card replace for the city name. Search engines can spot that type of duplicate content a mile away. (See our tips for dealing with thin content on your site.)

35. Press releases
Press releases can be a great way to let locals know that you exist, especially if you have breaking news. Opening a new location? Hosting a charity event? Be sure to publicize it, and include the local geo references (city name, etc.) in your text. A press release published through an online PR site might catch the eye of a reporter who will publish a news article about your business in a local publication.

Social Signals

36. Social profiles
Being active in social media and sharing your content (think content marketing) contribute to keeping your business top-of-mind. On social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ and Pinterest, your profile pages matter — make them consistent with your brand voice and informative. Be sure to include your contact information. Engagement with your brand is a social signal, such as when something you’ve posted is shared or liked. It’s also a way to engage with current and potential customers.

37. Touch your followers
Help customers stay in the know. Social media can be an efficient way to spread news, local deals, alerts and updates to your customer base as well as get the word out to others. Interact with them one-on-one, and you may develop a brand advocate for life.

38. Become the local expert
Make yourself known as a trustworthy business by building local expertise and authority in your space. For example, you could teach a class or speak at a local event. Brainstorm presentations that bring value to an audience while showcasing your expert knowledge related to your business.

39. Local discounts
Attract local customers by offering discounts for locals. For example, you could offer members of a local organization $x or x% off your products or services, accept AAA discounts, or other.

Success Signals for Local SEO

40. Online and offline conversion tracking/analytics
Stay on top of your conversions — actual results and dollars earned from your website — through analytics. (If you haven’t yet, set up Google Analytics for free.) Pay particular attention to rising or falling click-through rates and bounce rates, which will show you how many searchers clicked through to your site and whether they liked what they found.

Enable mobile users to simply click to call your phone number wherever it appears, and track those interactions. Appointments and sales made online may also be important metrics for success. Remember, not counting progress is a failure.

41. Monitor rankings
Be aware of your rankings in regular organic results and in the Local Pack. I suggest you choose at least five specific local keyword phrases to focus on at a time, but test more for rankings. Regularly check to see whether your business shows up on the first page of search results; compare your results to that of your competition. You can do this through manual viewing of “[keyword] near me”-type searches, if you’re in the local area. You can also use a tool like AuthorityLabs to track local rankings.

While there’s a lot of work that goes into boosting your local search rankings, it will be well worth your time and effort as a local business. It may even mean your survival. The points on this local SEO checklist give you lots of ways to attract more customers with your online strategy.

I want to hear from you. Would you add anything to this list? Share your local checklist to-dos in the comments below. Then share this article with a friend.

Local Search Ranking Factors from Bruce Clay

Source:: bruceclay.com

6 innovative new search engines to keep an eye on

Plain and simple, Google isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of search engines, but it’s often easy to feel like it – perhaps nowhere more so than within the search industry itself.

And when you think of other search engines besides Google, how many can you name? Bing? Yahoo? Maybe DuckDuckGo, if you’re privacy-conscious (or a bit of a tech hipster)?

Believe it or not, there are a number of other search engines out there, still crawling the web and making their mark. Since Google has so completely dominated the “all-purpose” search engine space, many of them have moved to occupy more niche areas, like academia, or sought to distinguish themselves in other ways.

As technology continues to have a hand in most everything that we do, it’s important to be aware of the other contenders in the industry. While they aren’t likely to revolutionize SEO overnight, they’re indicative of the trends and technology currently making their way through search, which could show up on a much larger scale later on.

If you’re feeling fed up with more “mainstream” search engines, you might even want to give some of them a go yourself.

Below is a break-down of six search engines you should be keeping your eye on and why:

Oscobo

Oscobo is a privacy-focused search engine that made its debut in late 2015. You will see in the screenshot below that its landing page is almost identical to Google, showing results similar to what you would see on Google, but there is one major difference: it’s anonymous.

The other difference is that this particular engine targets those in the UK. Regardless, the engine is open to everyone and licenses its search index from Bing/Yahoo so you’re getting the same great results without the snooping online.

It doesn’t log your IP address or drop any cookies, and generates revenue solely from PPC advertising, where the advertiser is paying for the intent behind someone typing a keyword.

Good Gopher

Good Gopher is a search engine for independent media and academia, created in 2015. This search engine boasts being “the world’s first privacy-protecting search engine that bans corporate propaganda and government disinformation.”

It has been dubbed “the Internet for human knowledge”, supposedly allowing more independent and honest sites to rise to the top of search results – though as the screenshot above will demonstrate, many of these are still highly politically partisan. However, its roster also includes independent activists, journalists, scientists, bloggers, media websites, nonprofits for human interests, and more.

Users can “like” certain sites they enjoy to help them move up in the SERPs, flag any sites that may have slipped through, and the engine will not track your searches or search behavior (a trend seems to be brewing here…).

Semantic Scholar

Semantic Scholar is an academic research search engine, launched in November 2015. Adam Stetzer previously wrote about Semantic Scholar for Search Engine Watch, noting its use of artificial intelligence, data mining and natural language processing.

This engine has been designed to be a search service for journal articles, using a combination of machine learning and semantic analysis to offer relevant results. In this way, the engine is called a “smart” engine. It will highlight which papers are most important using data mining (hence the AI and machine learning aspect of the engine) as well as make connections for you about other related papers (hence the “semantic” portion of the engine).

While this is currently used primarily for those in the field of scientific research, the implications of how this engine, or type of engine, could grow are huge.

Yippy

There’s only one word to describe this search engine: obscure. If you’re looking for hard-to-find websites, use Yippy. Essentially, Yippy searches other search engines for you. It does the hard digging so you don’t have to.

If you’re looking for very explicit hobby sites, government information, or specific research for an academic paper, you’ll find it on Yippy. Once you’ve done your search, you’re given the option to “preview” the website before you go directly there. It’s a helpful feature for browsing.

One of the coolest things about this search site is the ability to even further refine your searches. For example, I searched “search engine watch.” When I performed my search, I was given the option to choose exactly what I was looking for. I even got sidetracked looking at all the other things related to that search query (shown on the left-hand side).

You’d be surprised all that you’d find with this engine. Below shows a screenshot of the engine in use:

Once again, notice that along the left side of the page you’re given recommendations for how to enhance your search! With this specificity, you can really dig deep and find exactly what you’re looking for – literally, exactly.

Omnity

Omnity is a research and semantic mapping search engine, launched circa 2016. The search engine aims to help you find related documents and therefore discover how different pieces are interconnected, specifically in the fields of science, medicine, engineering, law, and finance.

Although this search engine would be a dream for researchers, it can also help marketers who may have a client in one of these fields and are looking to create unique content. Note that in order to use the engine, you need to sign up to use the site on either the free or the paid enterprise plan.

Webopedia

Not sure what a specific technical term means? You could check out Google’s results, or you could go to Webopedia. If you’re not already familiar with technical terms, then you’ll want to use this search engine. Webopedia is set up exactly how you’d expect—in encyclopedia format.

For example, I searched the word “software.” Here’s what showed up in the results:

Unlike other sources, Webopedia breaks a term down so it makes sense to the average person who may not be technically literate.

The takeaway

In a world run by Google, we often forget there are other search engine options available. When you’re searching the vast black hole that is the Internet, you want accurate results, uncluttered data, and ways to reduce your search for specificity.

While Google is king of search and universally used, there is still plenty of room to grow and become more specialized and more efficient with our searching.

Source:: searchenginewatch.com

Content Conversations: How to Hit the Ground Running in 2018

We are in the final stretch of 2017 which means 2018 will be here before we know it. And unfortunately, Q2 will be here in the blink of an eye.

All too often we spend weeks or even months creating a content strategy, and quickly find that by the middle of March, we’ve already abandon our best laid plans. Instead, we should be spending our efforts developing a plan that is tied to a core group of objectives that we can reference as soon as it feels like things may be getting off track.

It’s no surprise that one of the key themes for content marketing in the coming year is working harder to tie marketing activities to objectives and measuring TRUE content impact.

To help you figure out how to start 2018 off with a bang, we bring you part 2 of Content Conversations. Last week we tapped into our content experts for insights into top lessons learned in 2017. This week we take a dive into essential steps to help you hit the ground running with content in 2018.

Always Think of Your Audience First

Sounds easy enough right? You’d think so. But unfortunately, many brands are still creating very brand and product centric content.

Instead, focus on creating content that answers the top questions that your audience is asking. If you don’t know what those questions are, speak with your customers and use tools like Answer the Public to determine demand.

Ann Handley
Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs

“If your content isn’t of value to your audience, then it’s not effective.” @annhandley tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • What are the top three pain points that our product/solution/service solves for our customers?
  • Which of my current content appears to be resonanting best with our target audience?
  • What does an ideal customer look like?

Simplify & Focus on Content Impact

Regardless of resources and budget, content marketers want to do it all. Often, we become spread too thin because we’re trying to focus on too many channels and too many tactics.

Let data be your guide for determining where to focus in 2018. Use this information to decide which channels and tactics are performing and fully invest your time and effort in the coming year into these data-driven and focused approaches for maximum impact.

Joe Pulizzi
Author & Keynote Speaker

“Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.” @joepulizzi tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • Would our content benefit from an audit?
  • Which tactics do we know perform best for our brand?

Tie Content Marketing to Revenue

Let’s face it, there are a lot of marketers secure in their positions that are not at all responsible for the performance of their marketing. Because content objectives can sometimes appear “fuzzy”, many marketers are not moving the needle in the right direction.

It doesn’t matter if your content budget is large or small, it’s important to tie all tactics and activities to a desired outcome. Now that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for testing and creativity which is essential for standing out against the competition.

Chris Brogan
CEO, Owner Media Group

“The biggest companies in the world want more passionate people, not spreadsheet watchers.” @chrisbrogan tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • Have we identified the true performance and value of our content marketing activities?
  • Are we all holding each other accountable to marketing performance?

Create Content Benchmarks

How will you ever know where you’re going unless you understand where you’ve been? Instead of setting arbitrary performance content goals, review performance of previous campaigns or tactics to create a benchmark.

Also, once content has gone live, be sure to review what worked (and what didn’t) so that you can optimize the performance going forward. Content is not a “set it and forget it” tactic so it’s important to edit to improve marketing performance.

Alexandra Rynne
Content Marketing Manager – Marketing Solutions, LinkedIn

“Look back at how your content has performed and optimize your approach.” @amrynnie tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • What similar content have you published that can be used as a benchmark for future content?
  • What are reasonable goals for improving content performance?

Be Creative & Experiment

It’s time for content marketers to begin pushing boundaries. Instead of focusing on getting the content published, take a look at what has been created and what is planned to determine if it is a piece of art, or something anyone could make.

Depending on the size of your organization, you may not have a dedicated creative or design staff. Spend time finding outside freelancers or agencies that can help turn your content from good to mind blowing.

Tim Washer
Writer & Producer, Cisco

“Content goals that are clear are publishing deadline and budget, but many can’t tell if they’ve created something meaningful.” @timwasher tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • What is one test or bet that you can make early in the year on a creative piece of content?
  • What budget can you set aside for experimenting with super creative content?

Determine Your Measurement Strategy

Content success looks different for every brand. Defining your goals for content in different funnels of the buying cycle are critical to content success.

Every piece of content that you create and publish should be directly tied to goals and should be relentlessly measured against those goals.

Dayna Rothman
VP of Marketing & Sales Development, BrightFunnel

“Have goals in place for every piece of content you create.” @dayroth tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • What are the most important KPIs for our brand that content should be measured against?
  • What tools do we have/need in order to effectively measure content?

Understand the Waterfall

As you know, digital marketing is a multi-touch process. The vast majority of time, prospects don’t convert into customers just from reading a single blog post.

Plan for the different stages of the customer journey to make sure that you have compelling (or even personalized) content for each stage of their vetting process.

Chris Moody
Content Marketing Leader, GE Digital

“Everything you do as a marketer, can be anchored into something that is actual ROI.” @cnmoody tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • Do we know what the typical customer journey looks like for our brand?
  • Do we have anchor content at each stage to keep moving them through the funnel?

How Do You Plan to Hit the Ground Running in 2018?

The verdict is in and 2018 appears to be the year that marketers MUST focus on content measurement outside of basic KPIs. The marketplace is becoming increasingly competitive so it’s essential to define your content measurement strategy by the end of the year in order to remain relevant.

What advice do you have for other content marketers to hit the ground running in 2018?

Disclosure: BrightFunnel & LinkedIn are TopRank Marketing clients.


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The post Content Conversations: How to Hit the Ground Running in 2018 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Source:: toprankblog.com