Back in October of last year, we realized that, in order to improve our client’s search engine visibility on Google, Bing, and Yahoo!, we needed to develop a link building strategy outside of the traditional content marketing, “if you write it, they will link” mentality. Our client is in a very competitive market where competing personal injury firms spend hundreds of thousands each month on Adwords, organic SEO, video marketing, and social media strategies.
We knew we could never compete with these firms unless we came up with a creative approach to obtain more backlinks and improve the amount of authority that our client’s website has with Google.
Moz, a website that has been trusted in the local search community for a number of years, recently released their 2015 Local Search Engine Rankings factors report. This is a survey conducted by a collection of experts in the local search realm, as they weigh in on what they believe are the most important rankings signals when it comes to local search queries.
As an attorney, you most likely market your services to a specific geographic area. You would also, therefor, most likely be interested in your site ranking among the top 3 local search results for search terms that are relevant to your practice area(s) and location(s). A few examples:
“Los Angeles employment law attorney”
“Miami divorce lawyer”
“Houston bankruptcy law firm”
And so on. But how do your competitors constantly obtain top rankings in the local search results, especially now that there are only 3 local search results being displayed by Google? I’ll dive into the most important factors that are in the survey, and explain why they’re important for your law firm to improve it’s visibility on Google+ Local.
The Overall Ranking Factors
The survey groups each ranking factor into a primary category. They are as follows, in order of importance:
On-Page Website Signals (name address and phone number listed on website, local and practice area keywords in page titles and headlines, alt image tags, etc.) 20.3%
Link Signals (anchor text of inbound links, quality of websites that are linking to your firm’s site, number of inbound links, etc.) 20.0%
My business signals (your Google+ Local business page being properly categorized, name address and phone number on Google+ Local business page matching law firm name, address, and phone number on website, etc.) 14.7%
External location signals (does your law firm name, address, and phone number appear the same on all trusted citation sites, quality of citation sources, etc.) 13.6%
Behavioral/mobile signals (click-thru rates, mobile click-to-calls, etc.) 9.5%
Review signals (number of reviews, review scores, diversity, etc.) 8.4%
Social signals (amount of Google+ Authority, number of Facebook likes, followers on Twitter, etc.) 5.0%
And Personalization signals account for the additional 8.5%
I’ll touch on each of the most important ranking factors under each category below. It’s also worth noting that the survey broke each factor down in two different categories- how important they are for organic results, and how important they are for local results. Organic results are the non-local results in Google that don’t list the business name, address, phone number, website, and reviews. They are the rankings in Google under the local results, and the results which appear if the local results (referred to as Stack/Snack Pack) do not appear for that search query.
So in the example below, a Google search for “Los Angeles employment law attorney”.
Local (“Snack Pack”) Results:
There’s no way of knowing when the local results will be displayed for every keyword you’re trying to rank for, and there’s not really a reason to optimize for organic and not for local, or vice-versa.
There are also a number of organic ranking factors which attribute to a law firm’s website obtaining higher local search engine rankings.
That being said, I’ll move forward assuming that all of the ranking factors that I touch on will attribute to your law firm website’s overall search engine visibility for local search terms, with the emphasis on improving your local search engine ranking results.
There are also additional categories which list the most negative ranking factors, as well as the top difference-making factors. I’ll discuss each of these under each category.
On-Page Website Signals
Back in the good ol’ days of SEO, including your keywords in your website’s page titles, meta keywords list, and maybe even your meta descriptions (if you really knew what you were doing) would be enough to see your website obtain top search rankings on Yahoo! and AltaVista. However, times have changed. There are hundreds of on-page ranking factors when it comes to optimizing your website to obtain top search engine rankings on Google+ Local and Google organic. Some of the most important factors include:
Geographic (City/Neighborhood) Keyword Relevance of Domain Content (# 7/50 for top organic ranking factors)- Google wants to see your city, state, and county mentioned in the actual content of your website. If you’d like to rank for a number of city/county-based search terms, then putting together specific pages dedicated to those cities and/or counties can’t hurt. But make sure you include your city, state, and county in the content of the website, not just where your address is listed.
HTML NAP Matching GMB Location NAP (# 9/50 for top local ranking factors)- Your law firm name, address, and phone number should be listed on your law firm’s website in text that can be crawled by Google EXACTLY as it appears on your Google+ Local business page. Not as an image, not without the suite number listed, and not without the “PLLC” or suffixes that are at the end. EXACTLY as it appears on your Google+ Business page, and vice-versa. Marking it up in schema.org format can’t hurt either.
City, State in Most/All Website Title Tags (# 10/50 for top organic ranking factors)- Including your city and state in your website’s page titles isn’t a ranking factor that is normally discussed, nor it it one that we’ve taken seriously until now. You only have 55 characters when it comes to your page titles, but a lot of law firms include the firm name at the end of every page title. Why not include your city and state instead, to prove to Google that you’re the best firm in your area? Try to implement your city and state in the relevant page titles as often as possible, because this is now an important ranking factor when it comes to on-page optimization for local SEO.
Domain Authority of Website (#2 overall difference-making factor in competitive markets)- The survey lists domain authority of website as an on-page optimization factor. However, domain authority is widely-believed to be a link signal factor. Moz’s exact definition of domain authority is:
Domain Authority is Moz’s calculated metric for how well a given domain is likely to rank in Google’s search results. It is based off data from the Mozscape web index and includes link counts, MozRank and MozTrust scores, and dozens of other factors. It uses a machine learning model to predictively find an algorithm that best correlates with rankings across thousands of search results that we predict against.
I didn’t include this factor in the list to discuss it, because it’s a very broad ranking factor made up of a collection of on-page and off-page metrics. Instead, I included it to explain why on-page ranking factors were the most important category when, in all honesty, off-page factors are probably more important.
Business Title in Anchor Text of Inbound Links to Domain (#26 overall difference-making factor in competitive markets)- Anchor text diversity is important when it comes to SEO. Don’t focus on all of your anchor text of inbound links including keywords that you want to rank for, which is an old-school SEO technique. Instead, your law firm’s name should be the anchor text for the inbound links to improve your local search engine rankings.
NAP in hCard / Schema.org on GMB Landing Page URL (#27 overall difference-making factor in competitive markets)- Like we said, including your law firm name, address, and phone number in schema.org or hCard markup format can’t hurt. You should try to do this on every page of your website, but including it in your landing page (which is usually your home page for most firms) is a good starting point.
Top Negative On-Page Ranking Factors
Presence of malware on site (#4 overall of top negative ranking factors)- check in Google Webmaster Tools and make sure there are no malware threats present on your law firm’s website.
Absence of crawlable NAP on website (#9 overall)- like I said earlier, Google should be able to crawl your law firm’s name, address, and phone number. It shouldn’t be an image.
Address includes suite number similar to UPS Mail Store or other false addresses (#10 overall)- If you’re using a UPS mail store, Regis Virtual office, etc. Google is probably on to you.
Presence of Multiple Crawlable NAP on GMB Landing Page (#21 overall)- This is an interesting ranking factor, because the survey is stating that having multiple crawlable addresses on your Google+ Local landing page can negatively affect your local search engine rankings. However, a lot of firms (and businesses, for that matter) who have multiple locations usually include all of their locations in the footer or sidebar(s) of their home page, and throughout the website. This factor is stating that you should be specifying city-specific landing pages for each of your locations, and that those pages should not include the other office locations.
Mis-Matched or Private WHOIS Information (#27 overall)- I’m glad this factor is listed. Do NOT use domain privacy for your law firm website, and make sure your hosting company doesn’t do this either. There’s no reason for it, and it could actually see your website penalized for local search queries.
Google has tried over the past 3 or 4 years to limit the types of methods that SEO professionals use when attempting to rank a website higher in Google’s index. Their Penguin updates that have launched over the years have made link building tactics that were previously effective, such as article submissions, social bookmarking, blog commenting, forum signatures, and a number of other link building methods, not only unacceptable, but potentially harmful.
However, link building is not dead. Inbound link-related factors continue to be the most important when it comes to obtaining higher organic AND local search engine rankings. Here are some of the most important link signals ranking factors when it comes to local SEO:
Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain (# 2/50 for top organic ranking factors)-Diversity of Inbound Links to Domain Your website should obtain links from websites which are quality and authoritative. How do you measure the quality of an inbound link? Google Pagerank? Domain authority of the domain linking to your law firm’s website? Domain authority of the individual page linking to your law firm’s website? Relevance? Number of additional outbound links on the page? Yes, and I could go on. Also, the ranking factor “Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to GMB Landing Page URL” is listed as #12/50 for organic ranking factors, which seems to be very similar.
Diversity of Inbound Links to Domain (# 6/50 for top organic ranking factors)- Don’t rely solely on inbound links from your microsite(s) or paid legal directories. Your law firm website should be linked from a number of different sites which are relevant to your location(s) and practice area(s).
Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain (# 16/50 for top organic ranking factors)- Your website should have a higher quantity of inbound links, and they should also be of high quality (ranking factor #2). If it sounds like I’m being a little stand-offish when it comes to trying to explain inbound links as a ranking factor, there’s a reason for it.
Let’s just move forward saying that inbound links are extremely important to your law firm website’s search engine rankings, before I say something I’ll regret when trying to explain other link-related ranking factors, like:
“Velocity of New Inbound Links to Domain”
“Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain from Industry-Relevant Domains”
“Quantity of Inbound Links to GMB Landing Page URL from Locally-Relevant Domains”
Yes, these ranking factors are important. But am I going to tell you that you should focus time and attention on one or a few of these factors?
No, because they’re all related.
You can’t focus on building higher quality inbound links, only to turn around and see that the quantity of inbound links are important as well.
You can’t focus on building more practice area-specific links, only to turn around and see that local-specific links are important as well. Not to mention the fact that link building methods are dramatically limited by Google’s numerous updates, so I’ll conclude and move on to the negative link-related ranking factors by concluding this: links are important. According to Google- write great content, and you’ll more quality, relevant links. According to Google.
Top Negative Link Factors
Oh wait, link-related factors are the most important overall ranking factor category, and yet… there are no link-related ranking factors in the top negative factors category. (Head spins).
My Business Signals
Moving on to something that you (mostly) control, your local Google My Business page. Here are the most important local ranking factors when it comes to your GMB page:
Proper GMB Category Associations (# 3/50 for top local ranking factors)- We took on a new client a few weeks ago, and made some changes to their Google My Business page. All we did was change their primary category, and their local search engine rankings saw a significant improvement less than a week later. This is definitely an important ranking factor, it’s listed #5 under difference-making factors in competitive markets.
Product / Service Keyword in GMB Business Title (# 7/50 for top local ranking factors)- Proceed with caution. The number 14 negative ranking signal- Keyword stuffing in business name. List your business as your law firm name in your GMB profile, don’t include keywords. It should be exactly as it appears on your website. This ranking factor doesn’t make sense to the legal field for a number of reasons.
Individually Owner-verified GMB Location (# 13/50 for top local ranking factors)- Make sure you claim your GMB profile.
Top Negative My Business Ranking Factors
Incorrect Business Category– #1 negative ranking factor. Make sure your law firm’s Google My Business profile is properly categorized.
Reports of Violations on your GMB location- #5 overall
Mis-match Address on GMB Landing Page #7
Incorrectly-placed map marker in GMB #12
Presence of Multiple GMB locations with Same/Similar Business Title and Address #13
Choosing to Hide GMB Address #20
External location signals
Google pulls from a number of trusted citation sources when it comes to local search engine rankings. These citation sources are extremely important when it comes to your local search engine rankings. Here are some of the most important ranking factors when it comes to external location signals:
Consistency of Structured Citations (#2 overall for top local ranking factors)- I’ll save everyone some time and sum up citation/external signals like this- your law firm name, address, and phone number has match up across the board on all citation sources. If there are inconsistencies, duplicates, etc. you’ll probably be negatively affected. This is the NUMBER ONE ranked factor under difference-making factors, as well as the #1 factor that experts have been focusing on ever since the 3-pack of local results launched in Google.
Tip: Want to see how your law firm name, address, and phone number are listed on trusted citation sites? Order our free Local SEO Audit which will display how your firm is listed on all of the top citation sources.
Quantity of Structured Citations (IYPs, Data Aggregators)- #14 for top local ranking factors- What’s interesting here is that, according to the study, the number of citation sources that a business is listed on is less important than the citation sources that you do have being consistent and accurate. I do have a hard time believing, however, that a law firm which is listed on 10 sites accurately will have more authority and obtain higher search engine rankings than a firm which is listed on 120 citation sites.
Quality/Authority of Unstructured Citations (Newspaper Articles, Blog Posts)- #18 for top local ranking factors- Not necessary links from other websites, but how often is your law firm name address and phone number (NAP) mentioned on non-citation websites? Be sure to add your NAP to your Youtube videos, press releases, etc. and make sure it’s all accurate and consistent.
Quantity of Citations from Industry-Relevant Domains- #13 in difference-making factors in competitive markets- Being listed on niche legal directories such as hg.org, Findlaw, Justia, and other niche legal citation sources can help to improve your local search engine rankings.
Top Negative External Location Factors:
Mis-match NAP / Tracking Phone Numbers Across Data Ecosystem (citation sources)- #3 overall
That’s pretty much it when it comes to external location factors. Make sure your citations are consistent, because if they’re not, you’ll probably have a hard time obtaining top local rankings on Google.
Additional Ranking Signals
Behavioral/mobile, Review, Social, and Personalization Signals
I’m going to group the remaining ranking factor categories together and touch on a few remaining factors which you can focus on to improve your local rankings on Google:
Quantity of Native Google Reviews (w/text)-#11 overall for local ranking factors- more positive reviews means higher Google rankings, to an extent.
Proximity of Address to Centroid- #16 overall for local ranking factors- I am only mentioning this ranking factor because I’m glad to see it has dropped over the years. I wrote a report on how to obtain higher rankings on Google Maps, way back when it was called Google Maps, and this was a top 5 factor. Not anymore, glad to see things are evolving.
Proximity of Address to Centroid of Other Businesses in Industry- #20 overall for local ranking factors- Hmm, maybe I spoke too soon. How close your address is, to the centroid of other law firms in your area? Not so sure about this one.
Top Remaining Negative Ranking Factors
Low Numerical Ratings of GMB location by Google Users (e.g. 1-2)- #18 overall- Bad Google reviews means bad Google local rankings. Once again, to an extent. The fact that this is only #18 on the list of negative ranking factors means that a few negative reviews, left for whatever reason, doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the world. From a rankings standpoint, at least.
The rest of the negative review ranking factors, such as negative reviews on third-party sites, and negative sentiments, round up the list of remaining negative ranking factors.
To conclude my post, which was intended to explain and debunk some of these local SEO ranking factors, I’d like to include some quotes from some of the experts polled in this survey as they weigh in with some of their expert opinions.
“In the past year or so, “local” seems to have come full-circle: it’s mostly organic SEO (read: links), Google local listings are primitive, and Google still won’t do anything about mapspam. What’s really changed in 10 years?” – Phil Rozek, Local Visibility System
“How does this local website with no SEO, no backlinks, crappy title tags beat us? Aggregate user data. Historical citation data. Hyper local signals. Forget being a small fish in the world wide waters, be a big fish in a local search pond.” -Thomas Ballantyne
“In a hyper competitive market like legal, claiming the few remaining spots (of the Top 3 Snack Pack) relegated to the actual businesses requires exorbitant retainers with sophisticated agencies. Good for me, but bad for the industry as a whole – especially the smaller firms who can’t possibly afford to keep up.” -Conrad Saam, Mockingbird Marketing
“Those who gain meaningful local links and couple it with strong on-page optimization, good site structure and useful content will thrive. I believe that some behavioral signals are effecting rankings – click-thorough rates from the SERPs, in particular, and probably bounce rates and time on page, too. There are some signals that can help in local rankings, but only if they are not overdone – things like location and product terms in anchor text and review text, for example. The challenge for many is having the restraint to not overdo something that works.” -Mary Bowling, Ignitor Digital
“I think this is going to eventually (gradually after several other small changes) turn into pay-to-play…. “Only 3 precious spots – pay a premium if you want to be in one of them. If you can’t afford a 3 spot, then there is always Adwords.” -Linda Buquet, Local Search Forum
“Local business owners will need to prepare to pay to play, while at the same time, diversifying their marketing outreach to be less Google-dependent. Reviews have become a major competitive difference maker, so you’ll want to be earning as many good ones as possible, particularly on prominent platforms like Yelp, and the basis of these reviews is right in your own store, in your interactions with customers. I would not be surprised to see digital-happy marketers taking a second look at more traditional marketing techniques to try to regain relationships that have just vanished with the universal introduction of the highly limited Local Stack. Diversify, diversify, diversify!” -Miriam Ellis, Solas Web Design
It’s very common, hopefully, for you to launch a new version of your website every few years. Times change, technology evolves, and it’s important for you to “keep up with the Joneses”, aka your competition. You know what they say: “evolve or die”.
But is redesigning your website as easy as drawing up a new layout, putting up some new pictures, and changing a few things around? Well, hopefully your website design agency makes it seem that easy, but in reality, a lot goes into redesigning your website. Make sure your website redesign implements the following:
1) A responsive layout
It’s no secret that the number of mobile users who are browsing the Internet from their phones and/or tablets is increasing. Google also recently released a mobile-friendly update which gives websites which adapt to the user’s screen based on which device they are using higher rankings in their search results. Make sure your redesigned website is responsive. If you’re planning on using a WordPress theme, most of the newer premium themes are responsive out-of-the-box, so be sure to choose one that is mobile-friendly and gives your visitors what they want.
2) A content development (or pruning) plan
Over the past few years, webmasters and business owners have been told by Internet marketing “experts” that the more content that your website has, the better chance of it ranking well on Google and other search engines.
Yes, adding additional pages dedicated to relevant topics can help your website to rank for “long tail keywords”. But in Internet marketing, you should always focus on “quality over quantity”. If you previously had the mindset that you had to add a certain number of pages on a weekly or monthly basis in order for you to stay competitive, it most likely resulted in a drop-off in the quality of that content. The bulk content model is a flawed theory. Content writers, bloggers, and employees sometimes have a hard time coming up with original and creative ideas for content topics when they’re assigned a certain number of content pieces and given a deadline to complete their writing. As a result, the quality of the content suffers.
In other instances, maybe you’ve hired a number of different bloggers and content writers in the past to post regular updates on your website. Maybe these content writers didn’t read what content has already been posted on the website, and created content based on topics that already existed.
There are a number of law firm and other websites which have hundreds and thousands of pages indexed, and getting a grip on what content already exists can be a grueling task.
You don’t necessarily have to keep all of this content. In fact, in many instances, it’s better to either ditch some of the old pages, or combine the pages with shorter content into one or a handful of longer pages or blog posts. For example, if you have an FAQ section on your website, it’s very possible that most of these pages include less content, maybe a paragraph or two. Google hates websites with thin, duplicate content, so combining some of those FAQ pages into longer posts (based on practice areas, services, etc.) and weeding out the duplicate pages is something you may want to do before launching your redesigned website. This is called content pruning.
TIP: Implement 301 redirects
If you end up deleting a number of pages, or if your website redesign includes a different URL structure (.html, .asp, etc.), make sure to implement 301 redirects so that the old URL’s forward to the new pages on the redesigned website.
3) Categorized pages, posts, FAQ’s, case results, etc.
We used WordPress as our preferred content management system when we redesign websites, for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is because WordPress allows us to keep everything organized and categorized, which helps to improve user experience, click thru rates, and conversions. For example, let’s say we’re redesigning a website for a personal injury law firm, and they handle cases in a number of different practice areas: auto accidents, motorcycle accidents, medical malpractice, premise liability, etc. In WordPress, we can categorize all of their blog posts, case results, FAQ’s, videos, etc. so that the relevant content is presented to the user based on the practice area that he or she is researching. So if the user is on the motorcycle accidents page, as long as we made sure the imported content was properly categorized during the website redesign process, we can present the user with FAQ’s related to motorcycle accidents (state helmet laws, common motorcycle injuries, dangerous roads or intersections, past case results that the firm has obtained for motorcycle accident victims, etc.). Google sees that the pages per visit, average time on site, and other conversion-related factors have improved as a result, and they’re most likely going to reward a website which is improving the user’s experience.
4) Faster load times
Website load times are on a very long list of what Google looks at as a ranking factor, and SEO aside, nobody likes a website which takes 10 seconds to load. Make sure your website redesign includes the proper caching plugins or features. Serve scaled images, versus uploading a high-res photo and asking the user to wait while it’s re-sized. Implementing a content delivery network (CDN) can also help to improve website load times. For more information on load times, check out GTMetrix and Pingdom. Google Pagespeed can also be useful it analyzes your website in both desktop and mobile views, and offers suggestions on what you can improve.
5) Don’t give your users everything at once
This may be related to the “content development/pruning” tip that I mentioned earlier, but it still deserves its own section. What I’ve seen a lot of law firms do on their websites is throw a long list of practice areas at the user for them to choose from, in the main navigation menu and on the home page. If your law firm offers 50 different practice areas, or if your business offers a number of different services or products, we’ve found that it is more effective to group all of these into a handful of main categories, and letting the user navigate his or way through to find what he or she is looking for. Also, when you list all 50 practice areas or products on the home page, the “link juice” that is coming into the home page of your website is being distributed to internal pages that are linked from the home page. So if you have 50 links, versus 5-7 links, the link juice is being “diluted” because it’s being split up among too many pages.
Don’t insult your user’s intelligence, or assume that they have the attention span and patience to go through a list of 50 practice areas or services to find what they’re looking for. Also, by funneling your visitors to the proper sub-pages, it makes your law firm or business look more like an expert in those practice areas or services, versus the law firm which takes any case they can get their hands on or the business that does absolutely everything.
6) Be sure to include microformat markup
There is specific code which can be included on your website that communicates to Google and other search engines that the content included in that code is your business name, address and phone number (NAP). This code is called microformat, and the microformat that is preferred by Google is schema.org. You can also implement schema.org microformat markups to website items such as videos, events, reviews/testimonials, offers, and more. To see what microformat language is included in your website redesign, be sure to check out Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. You may also want to see what type of microformat markups some of your competitors are using, so if you know of a few local websites which rank well for the search terms you’re targeting, put their URL’s into the tool as well.
7) Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools is absolutely vital when it comes to your website redesign. If you don’t currently have access to GWT, make sure you register and implement it when your redesigned website launches. You’ll want to monitor for any crawl errors, messages, HTML improvements, and other issues that Google Webmaster Tools alerts you of. If you’re using WordPress on your redesigned website, I recommend using Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin because, in addition to all of the SEO options which it offers, it also allows you to easily add your GWT code for instant access.
8) Social media sharing
This may sound like a no brainer, but make sure you include an option for users to share, like, Retweet, Pin, and other ways to share your website’s content on social media sites. Include links to your Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and other social media sites in the header and/or footer of your website redesign. Your users want to find out more about you, don’t make them rely on what comes up in a Google search when they type in your law firm or business name.
9) Build your list
You’ve probably come across a blog or law firm website which offers a free report in the past, in exchange for your name and e-mail address. You may think that these free reports don’t turn directly into cases or sales, but you’d be surprised how valuable one newsletter subscriber is. Think of creative ways to capture your user’s name and e-mail address, whether it be by offering a free informative guide, or by running a contest where the user has to provide his or her name and e-mail address to enter. You can implement slide-in forms, pop-ups, and post-content forms where users can enter their information. If you develop a widget, such as a child support calculator, personal injury worksheet, or whatever it may be, ask the user to provide you with their information before viewing their results. Make sure you focus on building your e-mail list on your redesigned website, it will allow you to build your brand and referral base.
The last thing you’ll want to implement in your website redesign, and probably the most important factor, is your calls-to-action. If possible, try to implement a floating navigation bar where your phone number is always displayed on the user’s screen, and they always have the option to click the “contact us” link. Look into a live chat provider, which can be very effective when it comes to improving conversions. Your users also want to find out more information about you and your business, so be sure to implement video throughout the website and include a call-to-action at the end. If you have a physical location where customers or clients come to visit you, make sure your website includes a Google Map, and driving directions. Don’t just assume that your visitors are going to know to click on “contact us” in your navigation menu and fill out a web form. Why not include a form in the sidebar of your blog and interior pages, and make it stand out in a different color?
If you follow these 10 tips, your website redesign should give your users the impression that you take your web presence seriously, and that you are, indeed, keeping up with the competition.
We realize it may not immediately make sense, but it is very true: getting involved in your community, in real life, can significantly improve your SEO, you website traffic, and your overall online marketing strategy. Even though hosting a charity event, throwing a party for your clients, or teaming up with local schools doesn’t seem to have anything to do with where your website shows up on Google, it really does.
How, exactly, does community involvement lead to better SEO?
You get more great backlinks. Your local event might be covered in the newspaper, mentioned on industry websites, or touted by non-profit organizations that you are benefiting. All of these sources have a lot of authority and will result in high-quality links.
You improve your social media following. Encourage people to “check-in” to your events on social media websites like Facebook and Four Square. Post pictures of the event of Instagram. Holding an event will result in at least a few more local followers – potential clients and people who will potentially share your links and spread the word.
You increase your number of online citations. A citation is when a website mentions your name, address, and phone number – even if they don’t link to your website. Being involved in a lot of local events means getting online citations every time someone promotes you, the event, and your business. Lots of citations increases your authority and your page rank.
You create opportunities for great content. Just because your community event happens in real life doesn’t mean it can’t be mentioned on the internet. Be sure to promote the event online and cover the event afterwards. Consider creating a hashtag for the event, taking pictures, and even life blogging it on Twitter. After the event is over, consider writing a longer blog post summarizing it or even posting a video with highlights.
You build your brand. Every time you hold a public event, you are solidifying your brand in the community and associating your brand with positive stuff: giving, participating, helping, caring, and having fun.
You build your following. Even if someone who attends your event is already a client – and even if they already follow you on Facebook – attending the event can solidify your relationship with them and make them a true fan and disciple of your business. Having strong relationships with past clients often means getting future referrals, getting more content shared online, and getting established as an authority in your field in the community.
Would you like to learn more creative ways to improve your search engine optimization strategy, or would you like to request a free SEO audit? Call The Search Ninjas today to talk to an expert: (410) 929-5610.
On July 24, Google rolled out its latest search algorithm update. Although the update wasn’t named by the company itself, SearchEnglineLand dubbed the update “pigeon,” while around the world SEO experts began wondering how these new changes affected search engine optimization – and what businesses should do in response.
What do we know about the Google Pigeon update so far? While the search engine giant has not released any details, researchers have already pinned down a few main points:
Pigeon is designed to give users better local search results. Google claims that all algorithm updates have one central goal: getting users useful, accurate, and high-quality information. In this case, Pigeon was released so that people looking for local businesses and services have an easier time finding what they need.
Pigeon loves local directories. If you haven’t taken the time to make your business shine on local directories, now is the time to start. Begin by making sure that your business is listed on all relevant directories, from Yelp to your local chamber of commerce. Continue to improve your ranking by encouraging your clients to leave reviews on these websites.
Pigeon loves social media. If your business isn’t already spending time building its presence on social media and engaging with local clients on websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you should consider it now. If you are engaged in social media marketing, this might be a good time to see how you can improve your strategies.
Pigeon favors local businesses over local brands. This is good news for small business owners: if you have a local ice cream shop, it may show up in Google local search results before national listings for known brands, such as Ben and Jerry’s or Cold Stone Creamery.
Pigeon favors businesses on Google+. It might not be fair that Google seems to give an advantage to local businesses that use its other products, but that is the way things seem to be at the moment. Claim your business’ Google+ page, make sure all of the information on the page is accurate, and optimize the page with content and images. If you have your Google+ profile set up correctly, images and information about your business may appear in local search results.
Many of your old SEO tactics still work! Pigeon has not affected many key areas of SEO. For example, building your website’s authority, collecting high-quality backlinks, and creating great new content are still all really great ways to get new clients and boost your web traffic.
Was your website negatively affected by the Google Pigeon update, or would you like to improve your website’s search engine optimization? Call The Search Ninjas today to talk to an expert and request a free SEO audit: (410) 929-5610.
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