To connect to the vast world of internet, you need a web browser (like Firefox, Chrome or Safari) so that you can access countless websites from the comfort of your home or on your mobile devices. With the help of browsers, you can surf the web and interact with your friends through social networking, purchase travel tickets done through online travel agencies, pay your utility bills and… the list is endless.
All it takes is the address of the website you want to visit and voila! You have your chores done for you in no time at all. This is all well and good for the sites that you know about, but what about the sites that you do not know about yet? What about the time when you wanted to book a ticket to the Caribbean but you weren’t familiar with the different travel agencies there? Fortunately, since 1990 when the first file indexing system called Archie was built and then later in 1994 when Yahoo! was born, finding information about far flung places and in fact, everything about anything, has become not only doable but is getting easier and easier. Note: Google didn’t hit the scene until 1998(1)
When Search Engines were initially developed, they were not like conventional websites, they were an index (or archives) of computer files. These early “search engines” were merely a database of websites and they did not have the natural language keyword capabilities used in modern search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo!
How Does A Search Engine Work Today?
Google implements “crawlers”, “spiders” and “bots”. The basic idea of a general google search is that the keywords written by the user in the search area, are used as references. The crawlers, spiders or bots, search the entire Google database for content that matches the words inserted by the user. When they find that content, they display it on the page and allow the user to cherry-pick a website from the selection.
Search Engine Optimisation
As we know that Google and the other search engines try to match the user intent, commonly referred to as keywords or keyword phrases, with the most relevant content that the search engines have in their index of sites.
There are multiple ways of improving a site’s chances of getting seen by the user. The first is using Search Engine Marketing (SEM) also called paid search or Google Adwords which is a pay per click arrangement, and means that every time a user searches for something, Google will display up to 4 advertisements at the top of the page and 2 or 3 sometimes at the end of the first 10 results on page 1 of Google. You’ve no doubt seen these ads and have probably clicked on them maybe sometimes not even realising that by doing so, some business somewhere was picking up the cost of your click.
The second way of increasing your site’s chances of appearing on page one of Google is by implementing Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). The word optimisation means, to make something favourable for yourself. Search engine optimisation does exactly that. SEO is a series of strategies to get your website’s brand and most important keywords onto the first page of Google.
There are many ways to optimise search engines, from the content on your site and the structure and coding of your site (on-page SEO) and the number, quality and relevance of the backlinks from other websites (off-page SEO).
SEO is not only about building a website that is search engine friendly and can easily be recognised by the crawlers, nor is it just about a website that is always on top when certain keywords are searched. It is about making your site more relevant to the user. “User friendliness” is a very important ranking factor and will continue to be in 2016. For instance, a site that loads quickly and has relevant content will rank higher in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) than a site that is slow to load and has inferior content.
The Need For Local Business SEO
Search Engine traffic can make or break the future of any local business. Traffic can provide the website and the firm with P.R., revenue, and publicity that is unparalleled. Other types of marketing techniques are mere foot notes in history (RIP Yellowpages) in front of investing in Local Business SEO.
The Consequences Of Not Investing In Local Business SEO
It is well known that search engines are developed to be smart and adaptive, but they are still not perfect. Major world-beating search engines such as Google and Bing are constantly updating their algorithms (simply put an algorithm is the formula used by the search engine to rank sites) and Local Business SEO’s are constantly having to update their techniques to keep up with the changing rules. If a local business were to decide to do their own SEO they would soon be hopelessly handicapped by outdated strategies that might’ve worked in 2007 but are no longer relevant in 2016.
The Internet is literally becoming a war zone for companies that are competing for the same goal. I’ve lost lost of the number of businesses who have told me “I used to rank number one for my keyword, but now even the small operators have overtaken me in the SERPs”
Ranking in highly developed online marketplaces such as Australia, USA and the UK can only be achieved by hiring a Local Business SEO; someone who knows the local area – someone who keeps up with the never ending changes implemented by Google and no copied by every other search engine on the planet.
What worked in Local Business SEO in 2015?
- Good quality content is a constant. You know, in SEO I often feel that the more things change, thee more they stay the same. This is certainly true for
good, great quality across your entire site. If you can’t judge for the merits of your content for yourself, then ask someone who knows a thing or two about the English language, something about what content you should be providing – really just ask your local business SEO guy or gal. They can set you on the right path. The message here is to clean out the crappy, poor quality content on your site and replace it with high quality stuff that your customers will love.
- A well structured site with great content (obviously) will do well in the SERPs. I think the importance of on-page optimisation has increased steadily in the 7 years I have been helping local businesses to succeed with SEO. A major improvement to a page can have a big effect in the SERPs and this is something I proved over and over again in 2015.
- Directory links. Yes, getting directory links still worked in 2015 despite what you might have heard from some of the biggest SEO blogs on the Internet(2) However, you still have to be very careful which directories you choose and that’s where a good Local Business SEO come into the frame. Hint, hint… It also comes down to the quality of your on-page as to whether a directory link will help you or hurt you.
- Backlinks. I feel it’s prudent to point out here (especially if you are of those resolute SEO DIYers) that all backlinks are definitely not created equal! A backlink will help you if it’s a from a high quality (authoritative) relevant site and will undoubtedly hurt you (eventually) if it’s from a low quality or spammy website that is irrelevant to your niche and is in a foreign language.
What will work for Local Business SEO in 2016?
1. Developing Content That Actually Attracts Links
If you can master the art of producing high quality content that visitors to your website will not find anywhere else, the chance are that other webmasters will want to link to you. If you push your new content out to Social Media sites such as Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Pinterest etc your chances of attracting traffic and having your content linked to will increase.
2. Co-Citation Links
Some people believe it is the holy grail of SEO to get inbound links to their sites. However, what is frequently ignored by many is the positive affect that an outbound link can get for your site. Good sites link to other good sites don’t they? You don’t want to be linking out to a competitor’s site but you do want to link to relevant, authoritative websites. After all if you say it, you might not be believed but if Wikipedia confirms what you say, the authority that site has, passes a bit more authority to you. Co-citation also now refers not just to the anchor text of links (in-bound and out-bound) but to the other words on the page that are within close proximity to that anchor text.
3. Link Outreach
Link outreach involves identifying opportunities on other websites to link to your content. Find a website relevant to yours and ask them to link to you – but here’s a hint, give them a good reason. For instance, show them some awesome relevant content on your site and they’ll readily accept your request. You can also create awesome content for a site you have identified and ask the webmaster if a guest posting opportunity is available. Warning: Link outreach is incredibly time-consuming and you have to know what you are doing.
4. Track What Your Competitors Are Doing
Spying on your rivals is old school; companies have been checking out their competitors since Adam set up his apple store in the Garden of Eden. Look at your competitor’s links, and manually review which links are worth the shot. Then go and get those links for yourself! Are they blogging regularly? Do they have a lot more great content than you do? If the answer to these last 2 questions is yes, then you had better get to work creating new content for your site, particularly if you’re in a niche with a lot of competition.
5. Mobile SEO
As was the case in 2015, developing a site for mobile browsing is your safest bet to a well-optimized business. More and more people are switching towards mobile browsing. In fact, in 2016 for many searches, mobile is already way out in front of desktop and total mobile searches outnumbered desktop for the first time in history during early 2014.
Some of the most frequently asked questions
I get regarding Local Business SEO
Q. What are Backlinks?
A backlink is when one web page link to another web page. Backlinks are also called inbound links. These links are very critical in determining your importance and popularity in the pecking order. The more backlinks you have, the more importance your website gets. Or does it? You have to be very careful to build high quality, relevant links to improve your standing in the SERPs.
Q. What are SEO Services?
A. Someone providing local business SEO. A local business SEO uses all the techniques they are aware of to engineer higher rankings in the SERPs for their clients.
Q. What is On-Page optimisation?
A. On-page optimisation refers to the content present on your website and includes some of the following;
LSI words – latent semantic indexing(3)
H1, H2, H3 tags
Q. What is Off-Page optimisation?
A. Not everything on your web page is responsible for achieving better rankings in a search engine result. There are numerous ways that you can apply to achieve better rankings without having to touch a code on your website. Some of these are;
• Posting on forums
• Social Media
• Promotional Videos
• Local Directories
• Guest posting
Q. How will long content help me achieve rankings?
A. There is no hard and fast rule about how long an article on your website should be to attract Google’s attention and to climb in the rankings, but conventional wisdom dictates that it should be as long as it needs to be to cover the subject of the page in as much detail as you can, whilst maintaining a high level of quality. It should be media rich, with quality images, relevant videos, info-graphics, dot points, numbered lists, tables, graphs etc.
Q. What is Quality Content?
A. I believe that long content is being more and more rewarded in the SERPs but long content for the sake of it is not necessarily acceptable either. If 400 words are enough to cover the subject (keyword) of the page, then so be it. If, however, your competitors have taken 5000 words to cover the breadth of a topic, than you had best come up with 6000 words that are high in quality and are rich in all sorts of the media mentioned above.
Q. How does Website Structure and Site Architecture help?
A. The structure and architecture of your website play a pivotal role in determining your Google rankings. There are numerous elements in your site that matter so much when it comes to deciding how good your site is, these are;
• Site Navigation
• Internal Linking
• URL structure for both HTML and CMS websites.
• Silo architecture
Q. What are Social Signals?
A. Social signals are mentions of your website on social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, etc. Whilst I can’t say for sure that lots of quality social signals such as Facebook like, Twitter re-tweets or YouTube likes, comments and subscriptions are going to help you rank in Google, they will certainly bring more traffic to your site. If that traffic engages with your site by watching your videos, reading your stuff and staying on your site for more than a minute of two and therefore decreasing your bounce rate, you will most certainly be rewarded with better ranking down the track. A downstream benefit if you like.
Q. How long will it take me to rank?
A. How long is a piece of string! The real answer is. “It Depends…” It depends on the niche you’re in, where you rank now, how competitive are the keywords you wish to rank for, the quality of your site, and a host of other factors.
If you want to speak with me about local business SEO, please feel fee to call me on 1300 885 487. You may or may not like what I have to say about your website and your chances of gaining the rankings you want, but you’ll get an honest appraisal.
(1) A Short History of the Internet; http://www.thehistoryofseo.com/The-Industry/Short_History_of_Early_Search_Engines.aspx
(2) Search Engine Land; http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/opinion/2202914/are-directory-links-still-worth-doing
(3) Explained here on Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latent_semantic_indexing