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.


Local Search vs. Organic Search: How to Spot the Differences

Local search versus organic search is an ongoing question, especially for those new to Internet marketing and the online space. For a lot of people, search engine optimization is like a maze they have to get through before it begins to generate traffic for them. Spotting the difference between local and organic search is pretty obvious once you know what you’re looking for.

The Main Difference

The main difference between organic and local search is the location element. Local search is reserved for exactly that, local businesses and locations, while organic search is for a wider national or even global audience. For example. Vick-Strizheus.com is global, so you won’t find any tags or other information that optimize this site for local. For the most part, local SEO is for physical locations for goods and services.

The Advantage of Local Search Versus Organic Search

The cool thing about local search is that your business has the ability to be front and center with other local businesses and it’s a level playing field as of this writing. I did find out recently that Google is testing ads for the Local Listings Pack (the three listings under the map in search results), but it’s not official yet.

The main advantage to local optimization is that local businesses with trusted websites can rank quite well without a lot of hassle. Organic sites don’t appear in the Google Local Listings Pack, so the competition is stripped down to just your local competitors.

More Differences Between Local and Organic Search

There are several difference between local and organic search since there are 2 distinct approaches to optimizing for each. So, aside from location:

  • SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) Position – Local and organic SEO may not achieve the same SERPs position. Even though you may be on the first page for local search doesn’t mean you will rank on the first for organic
  • Backlinks versus Citations – For organic search, backlinks are wanted to achieve a better ranking. You want other relevant authority pages to link to your website. For local, you build citations in lieu of backlinks. Citations are local listings for your business on sites like Yelp, YellowPages, Foursquare, etc.
  • The Approach – Organic SEO requires on and off page search engine optimization efforts to achieve success. It is a ton of work. However, local SEO doesn’t really start on your website, but with a Google My Business listing. From there, it’s all about citations and reviews

Which Is Best For Your Business

You may want to concentrate on one, the other, or both. It depends on the reach your business has. Let me break it down for you like this:

Organic – best for businesses with multiple locations, a national or global reach. For example, Ace Hardware needs organic SEO, but Bob’s Hardware of Kalamazoo needs local.

Local – best for businesses that operate a physical location. For example, your local boutiques, plumbers, restaurants, etc. need local SEO.

Both – Some situations do call for both. For example, if you run a graphic design agency, you want to be searchable by your local community as well as across the globe since your products are mostly digital. Another example would be a chain store like Walmart. They need to appear in the local results as well as organic.

Wrap Up

Local search versus organic search can be confusing. I hope this post will help clear it up for you. A word of caution, watch out for local companies trying to sell you search engine optimization services. Do your due diligence before you hire someone. Search engine optimization can be tedious and just as it has the power to make your business, it can also break it if some shady SEO company builds spammy links or something else Google might frown upon.

Reading a few articles like this one and this one can help you know enough to not get ripped off. Let me hear what you’ve learned in the comments!

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 to Create Engaging Content for Your Business

One of the biggest challenges in working online is to consistently create engaging content for your target audience. It is a full-time job all by itself and fits neatly under the umbrella of your content marketing success. Let’s get into some tips on how you can drive content engagement for your brand or business starting today.

Creating Engaging Content for Business

This is easier said than done. Content does a lot more than drive content engagement. It also builds trust and loyalty for you business in the marketplace. Having authoritative content for business can really take you to a higher level online, not to mention what it does for your credibility. Try these action steps to create engaging content:

  1. Create the right goals. While engagement is a worthy goal, it shouldn’t be your main goal.
  2. Do it better than your competition. You can use Google to do a site:search and then use Open Site Explorer to find your competitors’ best content and see who is linking to it. Then create better content and ask the same brands to link to your content as well.
  3. Build brand trust with good representation on and offline.
  4. Share valuable information from your brand and other non-competing brands.
  5. Highlight experts in your company and bring them to the forefront.
  6. Market your content using social media.

Using Social Media to Increase Content Engagement

Social media is like a car that drives you content where you want it to go. No matter what kind of content you create, you can distribute it using various social media channels and reach a wider audience than if you just released the info on your blog and left it to the organic search results.

You can actually use social media to drive content engagement without a lot of hassle. In fact, here it is broken down in 4 simple steps:

  1. Think outside the box. Be innovative in your approach. Every new, shiny thing out there was discovered through out of the box thinking.
  2. Customize your pages and profiles. Make sure you fill out all of the information and upload the necessary graphics.
  3. Be congruent to your brand. Don’t represent completely different ideas from your brand intent.
  4. Stay relevant. Make sure you spend a little time each day reading and studying the latest news in your industry.

Content Marketing Success in a Boring Industry

Maybe your business isn’t that exciting. Do you run a funeral home? Oh, you drive a sewage truck? Man, that is tough! So how can you find content marketing success? I feel your pain. I’m glad I’m not in your shoes, but that doesn’t mean there is not a solution for you to increase content engagement. Check this out:

  • Focus on the issues your customers face. All of the content you create should solve a problem or answer a question for your audience
  • Know your target audience. Acknowledge the types of content that perform the best and make more of that. Don’t neglect list building!
  • Be consistent. If you decide to blog once a week, then get that new blog out once a week without fail
  • Experiment. Try all different types of content and see what performs the best. Grant it, video might be a bit of a challenge, but if you’re creative, you will find a way

The more content you create and drill it down to what is working to increase content engagement, the less boring your subject matter will seem.

Wrap Up

Creating engaging content for business doesn’t have to be hard. Here are some action steps to get you started quickly:

  1. Set goals.
  2. Fulfill your goals consistently.
  3. Analyze what is working and what’s not.
  4. Create more of what’s working.
  5. Rinse.
  6. Repeat.

Don’t make it harder than it is. If you set aside a couple hours to brainstorm content for business and include a few team members, this would quickly become a non-problem in your business. Comment below and let me know what kind of strategies you’re using to drive content engagement in your corner of the web.


Social Media Round-Up: April 2016 Edition

Social media is fast-paced, so be sure to subscribe to my blog so you can catch my monthly round-ups. These are designed to keep you informed of the latest social media news. There are actually enough social media networks these days to fuel posts like this which amazes me.  Let’s round it up!

Facebook Has Had a Crazy April

Facebook went nuts this month with updates and news. First up, Facebook Live is huge right now. Even I’ve started playing around with it a bit.

It expanded this month to:

If you don’t know yet about Facebook Live, it is Facebook’s contribution to live video streaming services. This allows you to create more engaging video events that are more interactive for your followers. To try it for yourself, tap the new status button in the Facebook app on your mobile device. Select the live broadcast icon at the bottom of the screen. It looks like a head with sound waves emanating from it.

Next, Facebook is rolling out it’s Save button to more of the Internet. Save button, you say? Unbeknownst to most of us, Facebook rolled out a feature in July 2014 that allows users to save snippets from the web like an Instapaper or Pocket type of application. With 240 million monthly users, it only makes sense that Facebook would expend this. Here’s a demo video if you’d like to see it in action.

Finally, as an added bonus, you might be interested to know that Facebook is exploring methods for users to monetize content. Some of these options include:

  • Tip jar
  • Branded content from affiliates
  • Donation option
  • Call to action buttons in posts
  • Revenue share

As long as it took to get an answer to the Dislike button, I wouldn’t expect to see any of these implemented any time soon.

HootSuite Adds YouTube to Streaming Options

If you already use HootSuite to manage all of your social media networks in one place, then you may be excited to learn that they’ve added YouTube to their list of streaming options You will now be able to approve and schedule YouTube videos from HootSuite. This is convenient on a number of fronts, but most notably being among teams. You will also be able to manage comments using the service. HootSuite is in it to win it and really is becoming a one-stop shop for social media tools.

SnapChat Rolls Out New Features

SnapChat also rolled out a couple new features this month. First up is Chat 2.0 which allows you to send your friend a couple messages and then transition to text or video chat with one tap when they respond. They say they’re aiming for their chat feature to be the next best thing to chatting in person. It sounds like they’re on their way!

Next up, they also released Auto-Advance Stories. If you have multiple stories to catch up on, SnapChat will now automatically move to the next after you finish one. A couple gestures give you complete control of the experience:

  • Swipe to advance ahead
  • Pull down to exit

Mobile Update

I also felt that it was worthy tof note that almost 80% if the time that people are spending on social media is being accessed using mobile devices. Facebook is the staunch leader while SnapChap rocks the teenage set. If your market is millennials, you need to figure out SnapChat yesterday. Even more important, if your online endeavors aren’t mobile friendly, your first priority should be to to get them that way.

Round Up Wrap Up

Big offerings this month from social media. I hope you enjoyed these social media highlights. I know all of the information can be overwhelming and that’s why I’m putting out these round-ups. I’ll be releasing these monthly on social media, SEO, and more. Subscribe so you don’t miss them!