Proximity to Searcher Now the #1 Ranking Factor for Local Search

Moz, a leading thinker on SEO, annually gathers the opinions of dozens of local SEO experts. They compile the data into a report to find out what really works in local SEO each year.

In 2017, experienced SEO consultants ranked “proximity to searcher” the most influential search ranking factor.

That’s ahead of links, citations, on-page SEO…you name it.

So, I guess you need to create a flying warehouse that uses drones for distribution like Amazon’s talked about?

They have a patent for it – true story!

Anyway, you can’t do that now. But until you can, focus on doing good solid local SEO so searchers can find you.

Besides your proximity to the searcher, what else can you do? Here’s a brief list of other factors, according to the survey from Moz:

  • Having a Physical Address in the City Searched

    Google’s relaxed on this one a little, much to the relief of SEOs here in the DFW Metroplex. It makes sense that, if you’re in the city where the searcher executes the search, you come up for the search.At the same time, what if you’re in a different suburb, but physically closer than a similar business who is in the suburb where the search happens?

    Google accounts for this more effectively when searchers search. Ideally though, you have a physical address in the city searched.

  • Link Quality

    Links have always been powerful for your rankings. While they’ve lost some strength over the years, they’re still strong today.And they’ll continue to be strong in the future, even though other factors may gain some potency too.

    Why?

    Links simply vouch for your website’s quality. Get a link from the New York Times, and you look awesome. Earn a link from a porn site, and you don’t look so good.

    The more links you get from other quality sites, the better. Because, Google only figures good sites link to other good sites.

  • Citation Consistency

    A “citation” is a mention of your NAP (name, address, phone number) information. You must be consistent with this…to the letter!If your address is “123 Fake St.,” Google gets annoyed when you so much as say “123 Fake Street” instead.

So, you have to decide on one way to discuss your address on the web, and then use only that information. And if you have a change, go back to all the other websites where it’s mentioned and get them to change it.

Kind of a pain. But the reality of today’s local SEO.

That’s Far From All…

Those are some of the most important local search ranking factors. But it’s not a complete list.

You can actually read them all in Moz’s 2017 Local Search Ranking Factor survey.

Here’s to high rankings in 2017 and beyond!

4 Modern Link-Building Tactics That Don’t Anger Google

Google’s most recent algorithm update,”Fred,” nailed websites that used low-quality links to maintain their search rankings. Many of these websites used “link building” from SEO companies to get their search positions.

However, Google doesn’t like “built” links as they were doing them. At the same time, your SEO company can still “build” links. It’s just that it has to be done in a certain way so that Google doesn’t penalize you for your links.

What has to be done? Ask your SEO company how they build links. If they’re doing it in ways that Google likes, they should say they do one or more of these:

  1. Manual Email Outreach to Influential People in Your Niche

Google wants “natural” links. In an ideal, perfect world, a natural link is one that someone decided to post on their website because they thought your content was so useful it was worth linking to.

Well, you can’t get any closer to that than by emailing a website owner or editor of a content-heavy website and letting them know you have a piece of super-useful content their audience would love. Not every one will give you a link. But some will.

And those links are as close to “natural” as you can get.

  1. Social Media Promotion to Your Followers

Nothing gets easier than this. Every website owner does it. Unfortunately, that’s where promotion for most website owners ends.

But you should do it. Make sure only 20% of your posts (at most) go back to your content. Watch your analytics to see which posts get shared the most. Then, reshare them after 3-4 months or so.

  1. Guest Blogging

A few years ago, Google said it would penalize guest blogging. The SEO community, however, overreacted.

Unfortunately, guest blogging can be manipulated just like any other link building method. Spammy, low-quality blogs exist which have virtually no audience. And they sound like they’re written by third-graders.

Those aren’t really “blogs.” They’re designed exclusively for the purpose of getting links.

However, get posted at a blog with an audience of a few hundred to a few thousand people, and Google loves that link. It knows that website already. It knows it has an active and engaged audience.

It’s a legit community. Google loves links from places like those.

  1. Create a Joint Venture

Who serves the same audience you do? Who doesn’t directly compete with you to serve that audience?

Say you’re an HVAC company. Look for a plumbing company. Offer to work together on a blog post, which both of you will post on your websites and social media profiles.

You’ll each win links and social media followers. But you won’t hurt each other’s businesses.

Just make sure you target a company with a similar audience size as yours. If you go for the “big guys,” they won’t be interested because they don’t stand to benefit as much as you. However, they might go for an in-depth blog post from you because their audience would love your niche experience, and they can’t provide it themselves.

Links Will Remain the Currency of the Web

Social shares have gained some importance when determining your search rankings. But for right now, and the foreseeable future, links will have greater power than social shares.

Work with an SEO company who understands how to provide you with high-value links that don’t get on Google’s bad side.

How to Get High-Income Consumers with Adwords

Many people believe consumers with high incomes need to hear fancy language to buy. That’s not true.

They talk just about the same as anyone else. However, the difference is what they talk about.

With that in mind, we want to tell you about an income targeting feature available in Adwords. In fact, you can target incomes like this:

  • Top 10% (household income: $146,001 +)
  • 11-20% ($131,001       – $146,000)
  • 21-30% ($111,001 – $131,000)
  • 31-40% ($96,001 – $111,000)
  • 41-50% ($64,001 – $96,000)
  • Lower 50% ($0 -$64,000)

…But there is a little bit of a catch. You always have to be careful with Adwords. Remember, it’s Google’s number one source of profit – by far. No other revenue stream of theirs even comes close. It’s to their advantage to look good to their investors. When you make mistakes or don’t understand how Adwords works, Google makes money.

In this case, if you target people by city or zip code in addition to income, that targeting trumps the income. This time, that makes sense. But, we’re just giving you a word of caution so you don’t use Adwords blind and suddenly find yourself in trouble.

In Adwords, you simply go to “Settings > All Settings > Advanced Search > Location Groups > Demographics > Select Household Income Tier.”

Of course, if you know the income range of your customers, then you’d only want to target that range, right? Otherwise, you’ll get clicks with zero-to-little chance of making a sale, which means you’ve wasted your time and money targeting that demographic.

 

How This Comes Into Play in DFW

We have a wide range of incomes here in the Metroplex, and certainly our fair share of high-income earners. But, imagine you know the income of the customer you want to attract.

For example, you sell fancy audio-video home theater systems, and you know people who make $100,000 or more would have an interest in them. Well, now you can target suburbs of DFW where that makes sense. And then you can target the right household income range.

Then, to make it work, you sell the experience of having an amazing home theatre with comfortable seating. Avoid the temptation to use fancy, flowery language. That’s the stuff you see on TV. People who buy home theatres want the intense experience – one that’s way better than watching a regular TV.

And that’s how you use Adwords’ income targeting to your advantage.

Google Releases Its Own Recommendations for Hiring a SEO Consultant

Shot of two male colleagues working on a computer at the office

 

Seems a little late to the game, doesn’t it? SEO’s been around as a practice since 2000. It’s had a reasonably popular reputation since 2008 or so.

You can actually see the video on YouTube here:

Here’s some of the main highlights of the video if you prefer to read instead of watch:

  1. SEO is not “black magic.” It’s a legit practice. Some shady SEO companies certainly treat it like black magic. But Google says it’s definitely a legitimate thing.
  2. You can’t use quick tricks to rank number one in just a few short weeks. You could have done that 12-15 years ago. But SEO isn’t that easy anymore.
  3. Successful SEO helps your site put its best foot forward so it ranks appropriately. No surprises here. Searchers want the best websites at the top of Google’s rankings. This demand forces Google to continue to improve its algorithm so that happens.
  4. Good SEOs ensure you give your online customers a good experience. This certainly follows from the previous point. Spammy tactics, shortcuts, and fast results are not promised by good SEOs.
  5. It takes 4-12 months to rank. Good SEOs need time to implement improvements. And they need some more time for Google to pick up on those and rank your website accordingly.
  6. The best thing you can do is to get a SEO who correlates their recommendation to a documented statement from Google. Google has great resources for this. You’re better off Googling the specific recommendation. But, a couple resources include Google’s Webmaster Search Console and the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog.
  7. In most cases, doing what’s good for SEO is good for your customers (and vice-versa). Again, this relates to points made earlier. Users want websites where they can learn what they want fast and either order it, or save your site and come back to it later to learn more, until they are ready to order.
  8. Conduct a two-way interview with your SEO. There’s several aspects to this. First, try to make sure the SEO is genuinely interested in your business. Check their references. Ask for a search audit (which will cost you money). Finally, make your decision to hire (or not hire) the SEO.

So that’s how Google says to hire a SEO. It’s good, commonsense, practical advice that helps you make a great decision you won’t regret.

3 Techniques You Can Use to Win in Local Search

"Search area on LCD display, pixelated close up view."

Yes, you can do some things to win the fight for local search rankings. And what’s more, they’re fairly simple.

You may be a time-strapped local business owner. But, you can take some small steps to help out your SEO company.

Here are some simple things you might consider:

1. Compelling Titles and Meta Descriptions

For titles and meta descriptions, you simply use the SEO by Yoast plugin. It shows you exactly how your search result appears as you type it in. This is important because the length of both your title and meta description actually change. Go too long, and you see the dreaded (…) in the search results.

That’s a huge turnoff for searchers. So, Yoast SEO helps you stay on top of that so you don’t make mistakes.

Now, as to writing titles and descriptions, you simply answer the question,”So what?”

That’s what searchers think. “So what? Why should I click on your search result instead of any others?”

The better answer you offer to that question, the more clicks you get. Benefits, emotions, and experiences are most enticing for consumers. Business people want emotional benefits too, and you have to compliment those with benefits for their business also.

2. Make Your Business Worthy of 5-Star Reviews

Local business owners are finally getting it. Reviews are key to their success. 70% of consumers will leave a review when you ask. 84% trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

For starters, make sure your company offers 5-star products and services. Study your competition’s reviews to see what people like and don’t like about their company. When you get negative feedback, take that to heart and change your company for the better (assuming it’s not an unreasonable customer). Publicly show you care by responding and fixing what’s wrong, and then ask your customer if they’d update your review.

Never, ever create fake reviews. Many businesses do this. They get away with it for a while. But it eventually catches up to them.

3. Monitor Your Analytics Carefully

If content is king, analytics is queen. You’ll want to watch how long people are staying on your website. Do they bounce? How many take the action you really want them to take?

Test small changes to your website to optimize these. Change what you offer in the headline. Write different calls to action. See what works best with your website.

That’s how the winners separate themselves from the pack.

If you use these 3 techniques, you’ll be well ahead of most local businesses.

SEO: Not Just Another Marketing Tactic, But a Central Focus

Early on, about a decade ago when SEO really started to become its own marketing discipline, it didn’t

blackboard

gain legitimacy in marketing. Sure, it was another tactic you could use. However, there were many more you could employ to bring in business.

This attitude was generally held by both sophisticated B2B marketing companies and small and local businesses. TV, radio, flyers, the Yellow Pages, newspaper ads – there was an abundance of marketing tactics available that still worked.

Today, you can still use all of those tactics. But, marketing’s morphed to where SEO should really be the focal point of all your efforts. And we’re not just saying this because we’re a “SEO company.”

It’s the way things now work.

Let us explain more about why:

  1. Consumers and B2B Buyers Simply Don’t Use Other Methods for Finding Businesses Like They Used To

When you think about it, TV isn’t the main way information spreads anymore. It can still work for larger brands. But, people go to the web now.

Newspapers barely get read. Flyers can still work. So can direct mail. Radio commercials happen too fast and people forget the information. No one reads the Yellow Pages. Billboards are forgotten.

Not that any of these can’t be part of your marketing strategy anymore. But, the web’s so convenient and widely used that all these other avenues have lost much of their potency.

  1. Everyone Goes Online First to Get What They Need

Millennials, many of whom do not know life without an internet connection, are now turning 34. There’s around 75 million Millennials, and they’re now entering their prime earning years. As consumers, they prefer to navigate the web to get what they want.

Many C-level execs, when they need a product or service, assign their Millennial staff to do research for them. Older generations, of course, are quite used to the connected world, and how it works, too.

SEO Must be the Central Focus of Any Marketing Strategy

Today, many businesses, local and national, still minimize the importance of SEO in their marketing. They view it as just another tactic, rather than the central hub of all their marketing.

You don’t have a choice in this anymore. Your customers, no matter who they are, want to get to know more about you online. You can certainly use other tactics too. But, SEO must remain central to your marketing efforts.