7 Ways a Local Business Can Improve in Search Rankings

If any local business owner were asked whether or not they would like to get more customers, the answer would be a given – yes!

Running a successful brick and mortar business is difficult. You might have a great customer base who regularly buy your product or services, but it’s important to make sure that fresh new business is always coming in. For business owners or marketing managers, it takes a lot of effort to keep your local internet presence maintained with content, reviews, SEO, and social media.

In fact, maybe that’s an aspect you haven’t really looked at and assumed that the expense of hiring an agency to do it would never pan out.

keyword-research-seo-services-seattleThis is where local businesses actually have an opportunity to really shine online – if they approach outsourced marketing the right way – with a focus on tracking sales… and this is key.

If you’re thinking that this sounds like more work, don’t worry. This is something that a good marketing company will be able to help you handle. And, in the end, you’ll be able to relax more because you know that your campaign is generating a true ROI.

Here are the key search ranking tactics that an outsourced marketing agency can help local businesses with.

1. Research for the Right Keywords

Not all keywords are created equal. Because of this, you’ll need to know what keywords your customers use to find you.

For example, if you own a law firm in Seattle, Washington that specializes in personal injury, then seattle personal injury lawyer would be an important keyword theme to focus on.

Here’s another example. If you are a plastic surgeon in the Seattle area, then you would want to look at ranking around the keyword theme plastic surgery Seattle.

Ranking for these different keyword themes can take a significant amount of time and effort, but the amount that it will require for you depends on the industry you’re in. If you’re in a major city and you are in the medical profession, it will take more work to rank well than if you were focusing on a suburb.

Because of this, a good marketing company may not necessarily go after keywords this difficult right at the beginning. Instead, they’ll bring in sales by going after low hanging fruit – keywords that are longer, easier to rank for, but that are highly relevant to bringing in potential customers. A good example of this would be a keyword like local cosmetic surgeon bellevue.

For more reading, check out this article on What is a Good Keyword, Anyway?

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2. Developing the right content, consistently… for the right audience.

It’s a given that you will need high quality content. Google takes things like grammar and how well it’s connecting with your visitors into account.

For your company, content will be critical for both visitors and search engines. Here’s a great article on optimizing your content for search engines and your audience.

A good marketing company will ask you questions about your audience and help develop buyer personas for your company. This way, your content will specifically be targeted to reach who you want to reach.

It’s important to note that, not only does Google want to see good content, it also likes to see it consistently. It tells them that you are a good resource for your industry and are likely more relevant than your competitors.

3. Getting Google Local Setup

Google local optimization takes getting in front of local traffic to the next level. In this case, Google will show a “7 pack” of businesses that are relevant, local, and often have reviews. Getting this local recognition is generally due to building out local citations by an SEO. These local signals show Google that you’re relevant and legitimate – and worth recommending in their local 7-Pack listings.

This allows you to showcase how well you serve your clients and what you offer right from the search engine itself.

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4. Creating or claiming your local listings

Local listings can consist of local directories or review websites. For local optimization, it’s important to claim these listings for your business – as long as they are quality and relevant. If you’re not sure what a citation is, just click the link above.

Citations are important because Google takes them into account when they measure how relevant you are to a local area and keyword. A good marketing agency will be able to help you get these claimed, uniform, and optimized correctly for your local market.

Social profiles would also be included in this. For local optimization, it’s also important that your social profiles match, and are optimized. This means including your physical location, business or store name, and your website URL. Again, consistency is important.

5. Get genuine reviews

We’ve run the gamut as far as review campaigns are concerned. In fact, a couple of years ago Google went through and cleaned out entire Google Local profiles and deleted them because of fake reviews. This severely impacted several businesses who relied primarily on local leads.

Even though testimonials can be difficult to get at times, a good marketing agency will be able to help you develop a consistent campaign that drips in leads from your customer base.

6. Reaching out

It’s important to reach out locally. This will provide more opportunities for your business to get talked about and linked to online. Reaching out to local bloggers and incorporating Press Releases can be a great way to get into your community.

Even though it’s not online marketing specifically, doing sponsorships or hosting networking events can open up some online opportunities as well.

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7. Optimize For Mobile

Mobile use is huge and it’s growing – which makes it even more important for local businesses to develop a mobile responsive website.

This is different than having just a “mobile” website though. Because of the sheer amount of variation between screen sizes, being responsive is key. It allows you to optimize their experience to the screen they are on.

Analyze and monitor your results

A good marketing company will help you go over your results and tie them to actual sales.

We call this process “closing the loop.” Here’s what it allows us to learn:

  1. What of your marketing channels are most efficient
  2. Which buyer persona is most profitable for you
  3. Your current cost per sale & lead
  4. How to optimize your campaign for maximum ROI

Have questions? Give us a call or schedule a free SEO assessment – we’d love to help!

How SEO is Flawed

Conversion. It’s the reason that we marketers drive traffic to a website. Our goal, the one purpose of doing SEO, is to acquire new customers for our clients and our companies.

To do this, we perform keyword research. We dig in and learn about what it is that users are searching for. We try and put ourselves into the mindset of the people we hope to acquire through persona development and customer interviews. All of this effort comes out as a strategy. A keyword theme is written up, and so begins the process of ranking.

So why is it that, an average 97% of the time, the very people that marketers spend so much time working to attract don’t convert?

Is it that they just targeted really crummy keywords, and the traffic they send is junk? I don’t think so. You’ll often find that a well done SEO effort yields very engaged traffic, people that, you would think, would be highly inclined to buy.

Alas, not so much. Even websites with very high return on marketing spends are usually still in the single digits as far as conversion rate.

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So, what’s the problem?

The problem is this: The assumption that we can tell what a person is thinking just by looking at the phrase that an unknown user types into a single field form is flawed. Why assume we know what they are thinking? Why assume we know why they chose to type in those specific words? Why assume that they are someone we can sell too? We can’t. Not really.

SEO, in this sense, is terribly flawed. If it were otherwise, we would have dramatically better conversion rates.

The simple fact is that the vast majority of users, even users who visit from extremely relevant keywords, simply won’t buy from you. The reason?

They aren’t ready to. And this is where nurturing, informing, and maintaining a relationship with a viewer becomes so vitally important.

And to curtail a possible objection that you might be thinking of, targeting your content to focus on just the people at the bottom doesn’t seem to work much better. So called commercial intent keywords convert people into sales well, but again, only a paltry percentage actually convert. All too often, the people who use commercial intent keywords just aren’t ready to buy.

What is the Solution to This Failure of SEO?

The conversion process can be summed up in the three word phrase “Browse, Compare, Buy”. It’s one of those things that any online marketer has had burned into their minds. Unfortunately, that places just as much focus on the Buy stage as it does the Browse stage. In our minds, the process looks a bit like this:

conversion path

In reality, the time it takes for users to come to an understanding of what they feel they need, how they are going to approach satisfying that need, who or what they are going to choose to satisfy the need, making a decision, and committing to that decision, is entirely different:

Capture

Making the decision and acting on it is usually the smallest part of the process. People can spend days or weeks thinking about a dress or a pair of shoes, but it only takes a moment to purchase, and yet we as marketers spend an enormous amount of time focusing on just that final step.

Take a look at the time it took to actually make that purchase. During that entire time, as the user gets the information they want and makes the comparisons that they need to make, they are being exposed to your competition. They may even forget you exist.

So What Can Marketers Do to Compensate For This?

This is where the importance of nurturing comes into play. Email nurturing, paid ads, social media contact, and so on are all ways that you can keep your visitors engaged, interested, and aware of you. Maintaining a clear conversion path is also important — part of conversion rate optimization (CRO) is to make sure that next steps are intuitive, so that people naturally and easily move themselves down the sales funnel to purchase.

Instead, we need to stop thinking about just the buy stage. The bottom of the funnel isn’t where the people are. Using ebooks, guides, and coupons as offers and backed with a solid email marketing effort, we can stay top of mind with our customers during the browse stage, help guide them through the comparison stage, and ultimately be the only choice for them.

Winning our customers isn’t just about keywords and rankings. It’s about being there every step in their journey.

If you are in need of help with your SEO and inbound marketing strategies, give us a call.

Content Marketing and SEO: Winning the Battle Against Page Rank

There’s a big misconception about how SEO works in the business world today. Many business owners think that SEO is the “unseen magic” that happens behind the scenes. If you’re a marketing manager or a business owner and you’re thinking of hiring a company to take care of your SEO, then you need to understand how content plays a huge role in your SEO journey.

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Is Content Marketing Important?

Sure, content marketing is an important thing. It’s huge! However, if you’re not using the right type of content then you’re not going to be able to rank the right keywords. While I see SEO as a healthy methodology (we call this method Inbound Marketing) at its basic core, SEO is the manipulation of Page Rank. 

You might be wondering if manipulation is a bad thing? Doesn’t that go against the Google Webmaster Guidelines? Well, the short answer is, it could. However, I see this as an issue of, “With power, comes great responsibility”.

The responsibility is to provide the end user with high quality content. If you’re failing at this responsibility, then you’re really not a marketer, you’re just a hacker of Page Rank.

Hey, being a hacker can be good. Even Neil Patel has branded himself as a “growth hacker” — but this is different.

Is SEO Really That Valuable, or is It Dead?

I like this handy-dandy pie chart that shows the irony of how SEO’s spend their time.

how seo really works

Ok, So Let Me Do My Job and Try to Teach and Convince You of SEO’s Value : )

Previously, I said that SEO is a methodology. I call this methodology, “Inbound Marketing”.

Inbound methods take conversion rate optimization, paid search, marketing automation software, e-mail marketing, press release etc… into one approach that fixes the three main problems our clients deal with:

  1. Increasing traffic
  2. Converting traffic to leads
  3. Converting leads to sales

You could say that the perfect marriage for increasing organic rankings for your Seattle area company is a strong technical search engine optimization and content marketing team. The two go hand in hand. Yes, Google algorithmic changes do have a large part of the search engine optimization world “throwing their hands up in confusion” over what really works for search rankings but the fact is, the same thing that affected rankings in 1999 still affects rankings today.

However, high page rank back-links are not the only part of SEO that makes a website more relevant to humans and Google. Fresh content is imperative to rankings as well.

Fresh content is like search engine food. It’s the digital meal that you serve up to please human curiosity and needs. In return, your website looks more relevant to search engines and you get higher rankings. In this case, back-links are not necessary but can be earned by consistent content marketing efforts.

Why Marketing is Often the Biggest Missed Component to Content Development

Content by itself is healthy for your website and search engines, but content that is syndicated out to other sources is 1000% more effective. There’s two ways of looking at back-link earning with fresh content.

  1. First, content that is merely developed and not syndicated will receive organic rankings that will earn back-links over time. If you have a lot of content out there then, you’ll organically earn back-links (as you provide value to human searches).
  2. Second, content that’s syndicated via social and a niche related site like business2community.com. Google + is also a great place to syndicate your content as this helps you develop your authorship with others in your niche.

Both methods are effective for earning high quality PR links to you inner pages and home page but the second method earns links much faster. Step one is a long term process that may or may not work. However, marketing to your current database of fans through e-mail, social, and Press Release will yield high quality links much faster.

Where ROI Happens With Content Marketing

ROI happens with organic search. Your content is the arrow. Your target is a demographic that converts well for you. If you’re hitting your target with your content and marketing you should be receiving high quality leads from the organic results.

Back-links are Bad??

Ok, maybe you’ve heard that back-links are bad from…somewhere. And frankly, there’s been a huge shift in our industry away from back-link development to things like content marketing and paid search campaigns. However, back-links are still the strongest ranking factor in use by Google. As long as you have a good foundation with your on-site SEO work, back-links are huge.

The Perfect Link

You need a highly relevant back-link with a high authority and trust. I use Majestic.com metrics to determine if the link I’ve attained for a client is high quality or not. trust and relevance are the biggest factors for determining if a back-link is quality or not.

The different between links today and links “pre-Penguin” are that now links are weighted by not only authority but also trust. It’s possible to have a ton of links that produce an authoritative website but, if those links are not trusted… then there’s going to be a big problem.

Here’s the difference, authority can be scaled by the number of links pointing to a page but trust is measured by the amount of healthy sites that are linking to that page. This is why you will see sits that have huge citation in Majestic but low trust. You want a lot of trust! Majestic is not able to measure all forms of trust either.

Nofollow links from quality social media sites pass a measure of trust (not authority) to websites. This is why you can rank a website purely off of nofollow links (a tactic used by many SEO’s today).

If you’d like to have a conversation with us on increasing your web traffic… contact us or download this great guide below!

 

Knowing the Difference Between a Good and Great SEO

great-seo-good-seo-seattle-marketing-company-marketing-managerAfter several visits to our existing clients to review the SEO work Fannit is doing for them, three things became very apparent to me;

  1. Most business owners or marketing managers do not know what strong SEO does to help boost their internet marketing results
  2. SEO has become a very complicated set of tasks that required full-time attention if your business wants to do it well
  3. Fannit could do a better job of explaining SEO in simple terms

I hope this post helps you understand how to best use an SEO resource and why the really good ones, like Fannit, deserve top dollar.

What is Great SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), according to Wikipedia, is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s (Google, Bing) natural or un-paid (“organic”) search results.

You have all heard the statistics, one of which is that 90% of people who search will click on content that appears on the first page. While I can’t personally speak to the validity of that statistic, it sure sounds good.

And it is this fact that leads most people to believe that ranking keywords is the most important – the only – thing an SEO can do.

But this idea is only partly true. Ranking is important, but there is so much more to good SEO than that. Knowing why you rank, which keywords you rank best for, which keywords you are not ranking for,  and how traffic obtained by ranking those keywords in engaging your site is what a strong SEO should figure out for your business.

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STRATEGY – Take the Time to Understand Your Business

A good SEO knows that to affect the visibility of a web page, they (and therefore you) must first understand the following about your business.

  • Do your prospects care about the content (blogs, press releases, landing pages, etc) you are producing on the internet? Does it attract their attention when they search?
  • How often are key terms searched for in the location (city, county, state, country) you are trying to attract new prospects?
  • Which content that prospects search for right now is getting visitors to your website(s) and those visitors are engaging your business? (ie. do visitors call you, request more information, request to be contacted?)

DELIVERY – Doing the Work to Make the Right Kind of Difference

If your SEO is teaching you the following about how your website is performing, they are doing 50% of the job they need to be doing. Read on if you want to learn what it means to do 100% of the job of great SEO.

  • Do search engines find your site more relevant and authoritative on the content you are producing for your site or page?
  • Are the keywords used in all your content attracting the right type of prospects from the right places on the internet?
  • Do you obsess too much over ranking and not focus on the marketing and sales results?

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RESULTS – Closing the Loop Between Marketing and Sales

The best SEOs (and there are only a few now who do this) will provide you with information about the results a business owner cares about so you, as a Seattle marketing manager, can make decisions on the best strategies. If your SEO does not currently closing the loop with you, they are not focused on the right results.

There are 5 pieces of data needed to close the loop between marketing/SEO efforts and the sales returns those efforts receive.

  • Traffic – visitors to your site in which you know the source (organic, paid, referral, direct). More traffic does not always mean better — better converting traffic means better.
  • Leads – these are visitors to your site which “convert” to leads by filling out a form to give you permission to contact them or market to them in some form.
  • Sales – someone who engages your business and then buys your product or service with money. In the case of eCommerce sites, these are orders. Service businesses may not close a sale in the same month they obtained the lead.
  • Revenues – the money your business earns from sales.
  • Expenses – the investment you make in the marketing you do. Fannit recommends you track your spend by campaign track the cost of various aspects of that campaign so you can determine how well your investment paid off.

Once you close the loop between marketing and sales, you will be able to calculate your marketing ROI, acceptable cost per lead and revenue per sale. These are key metrics to have if you want to scale your business with the marketing you are doing.

There are so many companies these days who claim they do great SEO and the fact is, there are only a few of us (like Fannit) actually doing it. What is even more disturbing is that most business owners don’t demand it.

Interested in working with great SEO? Contact us to get an inbound analysis of your website and to talk with our SEO about how we can improve your business.

The Best Local SEO Strategies for 2015

Any business with a physical location needs a good SEO strategy. Whether you’ore a lawyer, dentist, doctor, retail outlet, or local restaurant, if your best demographic comes from your local area, then local SEO is a must. I want to discuss some of the best local SEO strategies you can implement in the year 2015.

The best local SEO strategies for 2015

Major Differences Between Local and National SEO

While both are based on backlinks, on-page factors, indexing, and social media, local SEO differs from national SEO through several unique elements. For local SEO you need to claim a local profile on several platforms, including Google and Bing. This local listing of your business will show in localized online searches. Another important element of a local SEO strategy is what it is called a citation. This is any mention of your business online, including the exact company name, location and phone number. And the third important element in a local SEO strategy is having reviews and online testimonials from your customers.

In order to implement a good local SEO strategy for the year 2015 you also need to remember several important details. You have to ensure that your company name, phone number, and address are listed on each and every page of your website. They should be listed in the exact same format you see in your local listing on Google (very important). Your Meta descriptions, title tags, and content on your website should include your city and state names. You should also use Schema local markup in order to show your location to search engines. A KML file may also be useful on your website to send as many signals as possible.

The factors that have the greatest impact on local listings are: the number of reviews, the number of citations, and how positive the reviews are. Positive testimonials and reviews imperative to your brand reputation.

Let’s list out all these mentioned factors so that we can outline a good SEO strategy in 2015:

  • Create a local listing on Google Places and ensure you complete it 100 percent. Do not use any location names or keywords in your business title or description that are not part of your official business name.
  • Use a listing service such as Whitespark to syndicate the information from your Google Places on other major local citations. Each of these is a signal that provides tremendous value for your local SEO.
  • Use a tool like this one on fiverr to build out your social profiles to show your company name, phone and address. These are all useful local citations.
  • You can also use a tool such as the Whitespark local citation finder to research the best citation sources for your city. You also can get citations on guest blog posts.
  • Ensure that you have good on-site SEO and that several of the links you build also contain your city and state.
  • Ensure you get happy customers leaving positive testimonials and reviews on Google Places. Encourage your customers to rate their experience with your services and products.

As a small business you may want to consider hiring a specialized local SEO agency. Local SEO can often be too complex for a beginning online marketer. However, if you cannot afford this, I would suggest you check out some of the online resources I mentioned above. Good luck with building your local SEO, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact Fannit for more info.