Local vs. National SEO: How Strategies Differ?

Some of you may not know there is local SEO in addition to national SEO, so you’re sitting there blown away. It’s okay. Grab a snack and your favorite beverage and I’ll help you figure this out.

What’s the Difference Between National and Local SEO?

The most obvious difference is location, location, location! With national search engine optimization, you are optimizing for your entire country. If you’re a local brick and mortar business, you need to make sure you are implementing SEO for your business that includes information about your location. However, I think any business can benefit from local optimization. It’s always important for your community to know who you are and what you do so you can contribute based on your expertise.

Here’s a thought to comfort you: local SEO isn’t that different from national SEO.

Local SEO is important for this singular reason: people are searching for local services using their smartphone. For example, let’s say you are a freelance web designer and you work out of your home. If someone in your area, let’s say Portland, Oregon, searches using their smartphone for “web designer in Portland, Oregon”, you want your name in those results, right? For sure! Local search engine optimization is the way to get it there.

Get a load of these stats:

  • 64% of users search local businesses online
  • 80% of all smartphone users are doing it from their phone
  • 2 out of every 3 people complete their purchase after looking up a local business

Local SEO is the new yellow pages.

So How Do Strategies Differ?

They differ enough that one of my favorite sites for SEO tips has two separate sections for the two. With local SEO, you’re going to add a few things to your SEO toolbox. You’ll want to polish up your skills for repetition as well because this can get tedious. All that NAP, those citations, it’s a lot to get done!

In addition to your regular SEO for your business such as:

  • Title tags
  • Meta description
  • Alt tags
  • SEO-friendly permalinks
  • Keywords

You will need to add the following:

  • NAP – an acronym for name, address, and phone number
  • Google My Business Page – makes special ranking easy since it’s Google-owned
  • Citations – Business listings on local directories

That’s not too terrible a list, I don’t think. These are actually things you should be including in your SEO for your business anyway.

Take Your Local SEO to the Next Level

How about a few SEO tips to help you really be a local SEO pro? Anyone can put together some NAP, create a Google My Business page, and claim a few citations, but just a little added effort will make your SEO for your brand top-notch:

  1. Make sure your NAP is consistent across all of your web presence, from your website to the last citation, it must all match exactly. If you said Street on one, you have to spell it out on all the rest of them too.
  2. Make your NAP clickable. Just the phone number actually. Use this HTML tag:<a data-rel=”external” href=”tel:PhoneNumber” target =”_blank”>FreeText</a>

    Replace “PhoneNumber” with your 10-digit number and “FreeText” with whatever wording you want or none at all.

  3. Provide useful information on your website such as an FAQ page.
  4. Include directions to your location. Include well known landmarks, etc.

Action Steps to Get Started on Your Local SEO

  1. Claim your Google My Business page. If there are duplicates, you will have to call Google to have them removed. Call around 9am EST otherwise you probably won’t get a timely answer.
  2. Once your have your page, fill it out completely, upload a few pictures, etc. Make it look like you live there.
  3. Build your citations. Start with the top national sites: Infogroup , LocalEze, & Factual.Then go to Yahoo Local, Bing Places, Yelp, and so on. Some of these are and will be paid sites. Work your way down to local-only sites and directories.
  4. Make sure your NAP is consistent across the board.
  5. Don’t shy away from reviews; encourage them! Include a QR code and link on your business card to your Google reviews.

Wrap Up

That wasn’t too painful, was it? Local SEO is actually a really good addition to national SEO, and I recommend that you do it regardless. If it’s too much for you, hire a team of SEO experts to help you get it done more efficiently. You will be glad you did.

 

Search Engine Optimization Round-Up: April 2016 Edition

Search Engine Optimization is a must if you want to pull in any traffic from the search engines. Did you know that organic search could be driving as much as 50% if your traffic? That’s pretty hard to ignore, right? Subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss my round-up’s to help keep you informed. Let’s round it up!

SEO Spending Is Neck and Neck With Advertising

Borrell Associates, a research company, says that spending for “marketing services” is even bigger than advertising. That is huge since advertising has driven content since, well, we had nothing but newspapers. So the forecast is that by the year 2020, search engine optimization will be an $80 billion industry. This means one of two things for you:

  1. You need to become a player in the SEO industry
  2. You need to improve on optimizing your website

Google Blocking Sites With Deceptive Download and Install Buttons

Sometimes SEO is more than keywords and back links. Just as Google has done with past penalties for mobile sites or spammy links, they are now blocking sites with shady buttons that are actually links instead of actual functions. Can I get a hallelujah? As much time as is spent optimizing your website for search, it would surely be a shame to ruin it all with spammy buttons and advertisements.

Ask yourself, “Is this really the optimal thing for my users? Does it help them solve a problem or answer a question?”

If the answer is no, then part of your search engine optimization plan should be to get rid of it before Google issues a penalty to you because of it.

 Mobilegeddon 2.0

If you remember last year, Google released an algorithm update that boosted the search engine ranking of website that were optimized for mobile. There’s an update coming and now they are notifying website owners in the search results when their site isn’t mobile-friendly. This is a huge piece of SEO news and one that is easy to fix, especially if you’re running WordPress. There are several plugins that will convert your site to mobile in a matter of seconds and allow you to avoid this penalty altogether. Even if your mobile site looks a bit rough, it still solves the problem while you find a better way of optimizing your website.

Is Your Homepage Optimized?

Wait, should you even optimize your homepage? Wouldn’t that cause redundancy in other areas of your website? That depends on how you go about it. Optimize your homepage for broader brand searches rather than specific keywords. There are other ways to execute proper search engine optimization of your homepage. Here are 5 of them:

  1. A carefully written title tag. You’ve got about 55 characters including spaces to compose an accurate title for your entire website.
  2. Write a description. Here, you have 150-160 characters to describe your website.
  3. Create a user-friendly menu. Make sure your website’s navigation is flawless.
  4. Have at least 300 words of copy on your homepage to help your users know what they can do from your homepage in regard to your website.
  5. Include your social links. Make sure your social media links are prominent so users can find you elsewhere.

Action Steps That Will Set Your SEO On Fire

I can’t tell you if you should pay for search engine optmiization or SEO tools or not. However, I can tell you that you can jump ahead of the game with a few simple steps:

  1. Use WordPress. I don’t recommend anything else.
  2. Optimize your homepage as outlined above.
  3. Use an SEO plugin like All In One SEO Pack or Yoast SEO.
  4. Fill out all of the snippet fields for every post and page.
  5. Use your focus keyword in your copy.
  6. Produce regular new content.

Round-Up Wrap Up

It can be challenging to stay ahead of all of the SEO trends and news. A general rule of thumb is to build and design your website for people, not for search engines. Search engine optimization can be as difficult or easy as you make it. Be sure and subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss my future round-ups!

 

How Google My Business Synced with Moz Local Impacts Search

Things get exciting when a couple of giants like Moz and Google My Business get together. Moz Local recently made it possible to automatically import your locations from Google My Business while playing around with the API. This process required a manual download and upload of a CSV file previously, so changing it to a single click is a welcome update. This is especially huge for companies who have hundreds of locations or franchises on multiple Google My Business accounts.

Moz Local My Business Console

While Moz Local was at it, they decided to build My Business Console, a free tool that syncs with Google My Business and automates account management a step further. There are two ways inside Google My Business to add Managers on accounts with multiple locations:

  1. Add a Manager on the Business account
  2. Add a Manger to each Location account one at a time

The first option gives the Manager quite a bit of power over the locations. The second option is tedious beyond what is feasible, so what you have here is essentially the best to way to manage multiple locations in Google My Business.

There Will Be More to Come

The Google My Business API is a relatively new addition for developers. There will, no doubt, be more tools emerging based on this new access. This API currently controls access to Search, Maps, and Ads, so I look forward to seeing what else emerges that might be useful for optimization in 2016. Yext has already developed a totally different paid option with the API. An extensive FAQ and Guides section indicates that development is in full swing using the new API.

How Does It Impact Search?

Well, it hasn’t yet, but since the Google My Business API grants access to Search and Ads, it warrants our attention. A service using this API that allows bulk operations involving Search and Ads could impact search dramatically, and would be a welcome addition to Search Engine Optimization updates. As for the Moz Local My Business Console specifically, it is not a Search tool, but rather for management purposes.

More on the Console: Do You Need It?

There are a few key points regarding the My Business Console from Moz Local. First and foremost, it is free and will remain free. As a result, you do not need a Moz account to access it. You can simply log in with your Google account details. Pretty much the only function of this console currently is the bulk control of Managers on your Google Pages, so it’s only really useful to you if you have multiple Managers and/or locations. That is not to say that Moz might not add more Google My Business functionality at a later time, it wouldn’t hurt to check it out at the very least.

Keep in mind the My Business Console is brand new as is the Google My Business API, so there are bound to be issues. If you’re doing fine with Google My Business at the moment, I would suggest waiting a bit to give Moz time to work out the kinks. Really you don’t need the tool unless you manage multiple Google My Business pages and locations as an SEO, agency, or Social Media Manager.

Wrap Up

Like I said, I look forward to seeing what other tools emerge using the Google My Business API. Also, a warning, don’t get too attached to any tools that use Google’s API’s because we know they are fond of killing off tools that they deem obsolete. Do you have any ideas for tools that would be useful utilizing the Google My Business API? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

How the Jelly Relaunch Will Impact SEO Efforts

Well, first of all, what is Jelly and the Jelly Relaunch? It’s a fair question and the fair answer from their website is:

“…a new kind of search engine powered by the fundamental helpfulness in all of us.”

Jelly Industries is being run by Biz Stone, whose resume includes Google, Twitter, and Medium. He has partnered with Ben Finkel who has an equally impressive work history including Twitter and Fluther. One day while walking and talking, Biz turned to Ben and asked him if they were tasked with building a search engine in today’s landscape of mobile technology where everyone is connected, how would they accomplish something like that. Jelly was born from the concept that everyone is mobile and connected, so if you have a question, someone out there has the answer.

How Does It Work?

Users ask a question. Jelly learns which people have the answers to what questions. Then it pairs users with the people who are most likely able to answer the question. If users need further clarification, they are able to connect directly with the people who answer.

Hasn’t This Been Done?

Actually, Jelly was first launched in 2014 after some moderate hype. This first iteration had a lot more answers than questions which was just one of the problems that plagued the start up. The idea had been shelved, but Biz Stone started talking about a Jelly relaunch at South By Southwest 2016. Biz said the Jelly relaunch will not require people asking questions to create an account, only those who want to provide answers. Check out the Jelly Twitter feed for more information from Biz’s South By Southwest lecture.

Wait, Did Someone Say “Search Engine”?

You’re getting sharp! Yes, Jelly will be a search engine which means Search Engine Optimization! One of the ideas shared by Biz Stone is that just like Google indexes documents, the Jelly relaunch will index people. That sounds a bit creepy, but what we really need to think about is what it will mean for SEO. How exactly might one go about ranking people rather than documents? Don’t over think things. The web is still made up of documents, and ultimately, so is Jelly.

How Will the Jelly Relaunch Impact SEO?

Google has been at the top of the SEO chain for well over a decade now. We depend on the guidelines and data they provide to rank websites, or at least try to rank them.

Traditional search says that when we have a question, we think of some keywords and type them in. The search engine returns many results and then we must sift through them to find our answer.

The Jelly relaunch is supposed to revolutionize search by taking our question, letting us go on with our day as usual, and then providing an answer from a human. The idea is to save us the time of sifting through search results.

Search Engine Optimization as we know it isn’t going anywhere in the foreseeable future. However, Jelly could give SEOs a specific platform to optimize for, especially with long-tail keywords. Question and Answer sites have been around for a long time and tend to be a research point for the most part, but just try typing a question into Google. Notice how many sites like Yahoo! Answers and Quora pop up?

Without current access to the closed beta of the Jelly relaunch, it’s hard to know what the full impact will be. It’s definitely something to keep an eye on.