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Archive for the ‘SEO’ Category

By Dev Basu

The folks over at Milwaukee Search Engine Optimization have put together a great infographic on SEO which I thought I would share with you. This Infographic about search engine statistics shows data from 2006-2010 (including a prediction about 2014)

Reposted from Powered By Search

Dev Basu is a Toronto based Search Engine Optimization, Local Search, Internet Marketing, and Social Media Expert. Dev is the founder and CEO of Powered by Search, an internet marketing agency based in Toronto. He blogs on the topic of Local Search and Small business marketing at his personal blog, Search Marketing Insights.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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Part 4 – This is the final installment in Dev’s extensive series on Local Search Optimization. See the links to Parts 1,2 are 3 below.

By Dev Basu

So you’ve claimed your listing and can finally find yourself on the major search engines when you search your business name and the city you’re located in. But you might be asking yourself, “Why can’t I find myself for <insert city> + <your services> yet?” One of the reasons your listing doesn’t rank is because it does not have enough citation data aggregated via your local business profile, such as your Google Place page.

In order to “get found,” you’ve got to start building citations to your listing, much like building links to your website for organic SEO rankings. At its core, citations can be of two types, structured and unstructured.  Structured citations come from third-party data providers that the search engines know and trust as business data providers. Unstructured citations would include any reference to your business’ name, phone number, or URL on any given web page recognized by a search engine.

Most citations will at the very least contain the following:

  • Your DBA Name
  • Business Phone Number
  • Business Website URL
  • Business Categorization

You may also find citation sources that allow more rich information about your business, such as the ability to include pictures, videos, extended information such as your business hours, and even reviews and customer ratings. All of this extra information will help you rank in local search, so I encourage you to complete your citation profiles to be as complete as possible.

Essentially, citations are the search engine’s way of validating the popularity and credibility of your business, especially since it is difficult to fake a business’ inclusion in a chamber of commerce, print business directory, or government website.

Web citations come in many forms, but the most common ones include:

On my site I’ve compiled a list of the 20 Best Local SEO Citation Sources for the United States for you to use. That being said, you can either choose to build these manually, use an agency or Local SEO specialist to manage your citation building process, or use a syndication service and business data management service such as Universal Business Listings or Localeze.

Before you begin building your citations, I have 6 actionable tips to offer you:

  1. Always use your Doing Business AS (DBA) name in all your citations.
  2. Avoid keyword stuffing or mis-categorization.
  3. Do not use call tracking phone numbers in your citations.
  4. Use your main website as your primary business website URL
  5. Do complete all available options related to your business information available at each citation source.
  6. Be patient, since citations take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months to show up in your local business profiles

Part 1 The Rise of Local SEO and the Death of the Yellow Pages

Part 2 How to Claim and Optimize your listings on search engines

Part 3 8 Steps to Building an Optimized Local Business Listing

Dev Basu is a Toronto based Search Engine Optimization, Local Search, Internet Marketing, and Social Media Expert. Dev is the founder and CEO of Powered by Search, an internet marketing agency based in Toronto. He blogs on the topic of Local Search and Small business marketing at his personal blog, Search Marketing Insights.

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Part 3

Part 1 The Rise of Local SEO and the Death of the Yellow Pages

Part 2 How to Claim and Optimize your listings on search engines

By Dev Basu

Now that you’ve claimed your listings and verified them, it’s time to optimize them. This article will contain little fluff and lots of actionable advice, so let’s get started:

Optimizing your Google Places Page (formerly known as Google Local Business Center) listing consists of paying attention to the following steps as you fill out your business profile:

  1. Basic Business Information
  2. Email, Description, and Website
  3. Business Category Selection
  4. Service Areas
  5. Hours of Operation and Payment Options
  6. Images and Videos
  7. Additional Details
  8. Review and Submitting Your Listing

Profile completeness is a ranking factor within Google’s local listings. Profiles that are more complete have better rankings than ones that are less complete, so it’s important to fill out the entire business profile.
Nick Thomas of G5 Search Marketing submitted this to Blumenthals.com 4-Aug-2009.

Step 1: Include Basic Business Information

This includes filling out the required fields such as Country, Company/Organization, Street Address, City/Town, State, ZIP, Main Phone, and Fax numbers.

Make sure you use the actual DBA (Doing Business As) name for your company and that your address information is reflective of your actual address. Fill out the fields as accurately as possible, since Google will attempt to cross-reference them with information from other business databases that mention your company.

Step 2: E-mail, Description, and Address Display Options

  1. Use an e-mail address that is associated with your website domain such as info@yourdomain.com
  2. Use the 200-character limit in the description to accurately describe your business including product and service areas where possible. The business description should answer the following questions:
    • Who are you?
    • What do you do?
    • Where are you located? Where areas do you cover?
  3. Fill in your website details. If you do not have a website, it’s best to at least have a one page website freely available through any of the many free website builders.

Step 3: Business Category Selection

Selecting the right categories can make or break your chance at ranking prominently within Google’s 7-pack, that is, their list of seven similar businesses and organizations in your area.

Google offers one main category and four related categories to help define your services. Start typing in the main categorization of your business and you’ll find that Google Places will suggest a category for you choose. Choose the most appropriate suggestion as your main category and then proceed to fill in related categories or other services your business offers.

In the past, you may have heard that it is a good idea to stuff city or location keywords into your categories. While this was true last year, it is no longer effective and can even be detrimental to your rankings.

If the suggested keywords do not match your business services appropriately, you can you use custom categories. Employ this Blumenthal’s Google LBC Categories Preview tool to find synonyms that are recognized by Google Places. For example, identified synonyms for the suggested category “Lawyers” include:

attorney
attorneys
defense
DUI
family law
findlaw
law firm
law firms
lawyer
pro bono

Step 4: Service Areas

In recent months, Google Places has offered the option for businesses to define their service areas. This is especially useful, at least in theory, for mobile businesses such as plumbers, roofers, and other contractors, and home-based businesses. Unfortunately, Google Places still places more trust in brick and mortar based businesses than mobile businesses. Our testing has proven that selecting service areas results in a sharp drop in rankings. As per Google Place guidelines however, this is the only way for mobile or home-based business to represent itself on Google Places.

Google Places also offers the option to hide your business address completely, in case you want to keep your business address private.

Step 5: Hours of Operation and Payment Options

Filling these details out accurately will help you get closer to a 100% complete Google Places listing. You can also select split hours in case your business is open at different times during each day.

Step 6: Images and Videos

Adding images and videos not only helps your local business listing become more interactive, it also counts toward a 100% complete listing.

Make use of this option and upload some of your business related photos. They can help your customers get an idea of what to expect when they visit or call you. For example, if you are a real estate agent, you can upload pictures of some of the recent properties that you have sold. Be sure you upload 10 images to help make your profile complete.

You can also upload business videos to your local business profile. These can be promotional videos, company messages, and DIY or how-to videos for your customers. Google Places gives you an option to showcase up to five videos. While more videos provide increased interactive content for your customers, only one video contributes towards profile completeness.

Step 7: Additional Details

This section allows you to provide all additional details you wish to tell your customers about your business. You may add multiple fields, but only one is needed to count towards profile completeness. Example fields where you may add appropriate keywords include options such as parking availability, free estimates or quotes, or awards your business may have won.

A rarely known fact is that you can also add links in your local business listing to your Twitter or Facebook pages. Just add a field called “Follow us on Twitter” or “Follow us on Facebook” and copy the full URL for your Facebook or Twitter Profile into the field on the right hand side.

Step 8: Review and Submit Your Listing

Re-check your listing data to check for accuracy, then click the submit button to save your changes. In about an hour or so — and sometimes faster than that — Google Places will have picked up your listing. If you are in an non-competitive market, you may already have a place in the 7-pack of local business results. If you don’t show up on the first page don’t be discouraged, because in my next article, I’ll explain how to building citations or “links to your listings” that can strongly impact your rankings.

Monday- Part 4 – How to Promote and Syndicate Your Local Business Listings

Dev Basu is a Toronto based Search Engine Optimization, Local Search, Internet Marketing, and Social Media Expert. Dev is the founder and CEO of Powered by Search, an internet marketing agency based in Toronto. He blogs on the topic of Local Search and Small business marketing at his personal blog, Search Marketing Insights.

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By Dev Basu

In Part 1 we considered why local listings are so important for your business. In this article, we’ll outline the first steps towards taking control of your business data, sometimes referred to as “claiming your listings.”

How Search Engines Gathers Data about Your Local Business

Major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing rely on third-party data providers for nearly all of the data that shows up in their local business listings. These data providers include aggregation houses such as Axciom and InfoUSA , common Internet Yellow Pages type sites such as Super Pages and Merchant Circle, and social media review sites such as Yelp and iBegin. With such a complex eco-system of local business data, it’s important to claim your listings to consolidate all this fragmented business information under a profile that is under your own control.

Claiming your listing is also the best preventive measure against your listing being hijacked by an unscrupulous competitor, misrepresented with inaccurate information, or merged with a competitor’s data. It’s also the very first step in being able to actually optimize your business listing by hand.

How to Claim Your Listings

You can create your business listing at Google Local Business Center, Bing, and Yahoo. Sign up as a user at each of these respective business centers. Then either search for your business by name and address, or add the business location by following the relevant instructions.

While you’re filling out the required business information, ensure that you’re using the Doing Business As (DBA) for your business, and that you’re maintaining a consistent format for your Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP). It is important that you fill out this information as accurately as possible so search engines can find your business in third-party business data they draw on and associate it accurately with your business profile. Complete your profile as comprehensively as possible:

  • Provide a keyword-rich business description.
  • Complete all the fields for business information, such as hours of operation, payments accepted, services offered, certifications, awards, parking availability, etc.
  • Upload or link to the maximum allowable number of business images and videos.

When you are ready to verify your information, you will be either contacted via:

  • Phone with a secret pin code to verify your identity, or
  • Postcard mailed to your business location.

Once you have verified your information, you now control your local business listing.

Best Practices in Claiming Business Listings

  • Do not create duplicate business listings when claiming an existing unverified listing.
  • Create only one listing for every physical brick-and-mortar location you have.
  • Follow the listing guidelines for each of the major search engine local business centers.
  • Do not use call-tracking phone numbers as part of your listing.
  • When possible, use a local phone number rather than a toll-free number for additional ranking power.

Next article I will provide 10 Steps to Building an Optimized Listing, which will include tips and best practices on using images, video, text ,and the appropriate keywords to further optimize your business listing.

Dev Basu is a Toronto based Search Engine Optimization, Local Search, Internet Marketing, and Social Media Expert. Dev is the founder and CEO of Powered by Search, an internet marketing agency based in Toronto. He blogs on the topic of Local Search and Small business marketing at his personal blog, Search Marketing Insights.

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By Dev Basu

When was the last time you cracked open your phone book to find a local business, such as a plumber, electrician, lawyer, or dentist?

Chances are your telephone book is gathering dust, while your customers are actively searching for the services you offer on the Web.

They’re also searching via their mobile devices, enhanced 411 services such as Google 411, and finding you on a map rather than in a business directory.

Of the 10 billion unique searches conducted each month in the US,  an estimated 40% are considered to have ‘local intent,’ that is, for local services, businesses, and products.  Needless to say, if your local business isn’t focusing on dominating the local search space, you’re leaving money on the table.

Location Aware

Traditionally, a local search query has always been in the form of name of your service area or city + the type of service you offer. For example, you customer may be looking for a “chiropractor in Chicago” or “personal injury attorney Boston.” As search algorithms have matured over the years, search engines have become smarter at understanding not only the “local intent” behind a search query, but also where the searcher is located, called “geotargeting.” For example, if you now search on Google for the term “sushi”, you’ll likely find sushi restaurants close to where you live. This technology is especially useful on mobile devices, such as the iPhone and Blackberry.

In order to maximize the chances of your business being visible on local searches, you optimize your website for local search. You’ll also want to optimize the business profiles you may have at other websites and local listing profiles on various search engines.

How Do I Get Started in Local Search Optimization?

In this series of local search optimization articles, you’ll find in-depth instructions on how to optimize your local search presence from start to finish.

  1. How to Optimize your Website for Local Search
  2. How to Claim your Local Business Listings on Major Search Engines
  3. 10 Steps to Building a Well Optimized Local Business Listing
  4. How to Promote and Syndicate Your Local Business Data
  5. How to Get Reviews and Citations for Your Local Business
  6. How to Purchase Local Pay Per Click Advertising

Local search is the fastest growing area of search today. Aside from offering an excellent return on both your time and monetary investment, local search leads have proven to bring customers with higher than average intent to purchase your products or hire you for your services.

How To Get Started?

The first step in dominating your local SEO opportunities is to determine the state of your existing local business profiles that third party data providers may be aware of. To do this, head over to www.getlisted.org, input your business name and ZIP code, and click “check listings.” Your listing snapshot will provide you a listing score as well as telling you whether you’ve claimed your business profiles on Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Best of the Web Local. As we’ll explain in the next article in this series, claiming your listing is the first step in gaining control of your listings and sending the search engines the right signals to index and rank your profiles properly. Claiming your listings is also the best preventive measure against your listing being hijacked or edited by an unscrupulous competitor.

In summary, you’ve now learned why local SEO is an important component of marketing your small or medium business via search engines and internet yellow page type websites in addition to determining your listing score, or how complete the state of your local business listings are in on different business data providers.

Watch for Part 2 tomorrow – How to Claim and Optimize Your Local Business Listings on Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

Dev Basu is a Toronto based Search Engine Optimization, Local Search, Internet Marketing, and Social Media Expert. Dev is the founder and CEO of Powered by Search, an internet marketing agency based in Toronto. He blogs on the topic of Local Search and Small business marketing at his personal blog, Search Marketing Insights.

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