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Month: September 2014 (page 2 of 3)

Understanding the Importance of Reviews in Local Search Results

In a world where 30 to 40 percent of searches are local, local results are now dominating the SERPs. Google’s local results, now merged with Google+, have long allowed businesses to claim their listing and primp it up with photographs, a personalized description, and more. Undoubtedly, in your local searches you’ve noticed user reviews – and perhaps they have even swayed your purchasing decisions for the better (or for the worse, as the case may be). The same thing is happening to your customers, and it’s pretty apparent that your Google+ local reviews are only going to keep getting more and more important.

Google has always looked for ways to improve their algorithm, and as we all know they make changes to it all the time – one or two per day, hundreds of tweaks per year. With the development of features like Author Rank and Brand Rank, Google has been trying to lend a human signal to calculations made by a machine, which are by their very nature robotic. What’s more human than a review?

Online reviews are fundamentally important to your bottom line, too. The 2012 Local Consumer Review Study found that 72 percent of consumers trust online reviews just as much as they would trust a personal recommendation made by a friend. And over half (52 percent, that is) went so far as to say that positive online reviews make them more likely to purchase from that business. That’s a pretty strong signal.

It looks like positive reviews are going to have some amount of ranking power within local results in the near future, if they don’t already. Google wants the best experience possible for their users, and ranking by reviews is going to help them get there.

To get those reviews, it might be tempting to go out there and post some glowing reviews of your own, or pay someone else to put them together and post them. Google has been tweaking the spam protection on their reviews in the past few months, so if you were thinking about it, now is probably the time to stop. Google posted some helpful advice for business owners in Google Groups. Among their tips: Don’t trust SEOs who want to write you great reviews. Don’t trust anyone who says they can remove negative Google reviews (Pro tip: they can’t). Encouraging your employees to toot your horn on Google+ or offering your customers incentives for leaving reviews are no-nos as well.

A Search Engine Watch post nixed two other illegal, but admittedly creative, workarounds: You can’t type up your customers’ comment cards as reviews (“We ask that all reviews come from first-hand experience and do not allow posting reviews on behalf of others”) or plop a computer or tablet down inside your business asking for reviews then and there. Google wants all your business’ reviews to come from your customers on their own time and in their own words.

So what are you allowed to do? Good question. You may get a few reviews naturally (people are already accustomed to the idea of reviewing restaurants, and some parts of the service industry are following suit), but Google also encourages you to send reminder emails after your customers make a purchase.

But those aren’t the only ways – it doesn’t hurt to post a reminder in your storefront (you’ve probably seen those “Find Us On Yelp” stickers — same principle applies) or follow up with any mentions you get on social media. You should already be monitoring your brand on social media — set up Google Alerts or filters in your Twitter tool of choice — this just gives you something to do when someone tweets about your business. Obviously only actively encourage those who’ve had a good experience to leave a review!

Which brings us to… bad reviews. Oh, l’horreur! What do you do? Well, first off, definitely don’t do nothing. Just as you wouldn’t stubbornly ignore a screaming customer in your store, you should not ignore a frustrated or downright terrible review. Keep an eye on your listing, and when a bad review does come through, politely respond. Offer your apologies for the poor service, and if there is any way to make that customer happy (you can let them know when an item is back in stock, you can take another look at something you installed in their home), offer it right there. While it might not be a great idea to offer that customer a discount on a future purchase (doing so might teach your customers that they can get specials by reviewing you negatively), if you can offer a solution to their problem it will make everyone happier.

Of course, the best thing you can do to combat a bad review is to push it down with a bunch of good ones. It’s obvious that Google is going to assign increasing importance to local reviews in the future, especially as they improve their methods of fighting spam reviews. Getting ahead of the curve now and getting some reviews will give your business a boost when this happens.

Improving Your Website Ranking

Any website owner wants their website to be ranking well for those keywords which will mean that targeted visitors arrive on their website and possibly turn into customers or clients.

A website’s ranking on search engines (especially Google) is quite important when you take into account the following important statistics:

– 90% of users don’t go past the Page 1 of Google

– 42% of users click on the website on position 1, 12.5% on position 2 and only 8% on position 3

What does this all mean?

This means that if your website is not on Page 1 of Google and in the top 3 positions, then you are effectively missing out on more than 60% of potential visitors (and customers for that matter).

If your website isn’t currently in a good position on the search engines, don’t panic! There are many things you can do to move its rankings up. Below is a list of website ranking factors from the most important:

URL

If you want to rank for a certain keyword, it’s absolutely vital that you have that keyword in your domain name. If you feel tempted to use your company or brand name instead, keep in mind that the goal of ranking at number 1 for your main keyword will only get much harder if you do so.

Domain Age

If you register a brand new domain name, you are going to be starting from scratch. However, a start is a start and as the months and years go by, your website will benefit immensely from this factor. On the other hand, you can get a head start by purchasing an expired domain name which does not currently have an owner. Just make sure that it hasn’t been banned by the search engines before purchasing.

Title Tag

Having the keyword in the title tag of your home page is a MUST. There are many websites which still use their brand name or company name in their title tag which make ranking for target keywords even harder. This is a ranking factor that is applicable to all pages on your website.

Page Structure

Optimize each page on your website for just 1 keyword. Every page on your website should only be optimized for one keyword. Any more and ranking for your target keywords will be that much difficult. Your home page should target the main keyword while other pages should target related, long tailed keywords.

Keyword Density

It’s important that you mention the keyword you are targeting on the relevant page. A good density to aim for is 3% which means that your target keyword only makes up 3% of the text on the page. Any more and your page could be seen as being spammy.

Backlinks

You’re probably wondering why backlinks is at the bottom of the list when it is an important factor in getting website rankings. The reason why I put it down there is to emphasize getting your website set up right first before getting backlinks. Getting hundreds or even thousands of backlinks to a website which is incorrectly optimized will diminish the value of each link in getting rankings.

On the subject of backlinks, it’s important that you get them from a variety of sources while using a variety of anchor text.

The key to a successful website in terms of getting targeted traffic and customers is all in this article. Read it many times over if you have to. Simply get these website ranking factors right and you will have a immensely successful website before you know it.

Search Engine Advertising

A Good Investment?

I want to introduce you to a beginner’s guide to traffic generation by using paid-for ads on search engines. Now I have to be honest and say most of my experience has been really with Google Adwords primarily, however I’ve done some with Yahoo, which has returned some very good, cost effective results. Try them all and then decide for yourself.

Little Bit of History For You

Overture, which is now owned by Yahoo, basically created P4P (pay for performance), as we know it today. They realized and anticipated the growth in online shopping, that activity would increase dramatically, and advertising was going to be huge because of all the online businesses.

You need visibility to get web surfers to visit your site to buy, join your list etc. Placing ads that can send visitors to your sites not only increase sales, but traffic as well. Yahoo now has this service (since buying Overture some years ago), which allows ads for companies or websites to be visible in response to certain keywords that are entered by the browser.

More Visitors Helps Your List Building Activity

Any company can drive more traffic to its site by making use of this service. More traffic means that you’ll get more people seeing the pages of your site and getting the benefits of your site’s info, or better yet, buying your products or joining your list. If you’ve got a high volume of traffic, then it makes building your list somewhat easier and quicker as well. Naturally the advantage of getting people onto your list is that you are then able to market to them on a regular basis with the hope that they are not just one off customers, but over time will buy further product from you, and a website owner they have come to trust. Hence the phrase “the money’s in the list.”

The lifeblood of every website is to get a large and consistent traffic flow to the website. Visitors to your site are vital obviously, and if you can get as large a number as possible who are targeted (i.e. they have an interest in whatever your site is about) using internet marketing tips like these, it will help towards getting sales and increased awareness of your site’s products or services.

So How Does it Work?

Yahoo Overture works in basically the same way as Google Adwords. Both services use searches based on keywords and keyword phrases to place ads on sites that are relevant.

The browser’s keyword selection will determine what results come up. When you do a search, you’ll see ads on the right side of the results page. At the top of these ads will be paid ads. These are ones where the company or website has paid for them to be listed for that keyword or phrase.

Let’s look at an example. Imagine that you have a site that sells retail and wholesale auto parts. You can choose certain keywords that will bring up your ad when they are searched. When somebody types in, for example, Ford Explorer your ad comes up because you’ve chosen the phrase Ford Explorer for your ads.

Using this technique, you don’t have to worry so much about optimizing your site’s content for search engine optimization. However, in my opinion an important internet marketing tip is you should SEO your site anyway, as highly optimized sites will always rank better and can take advantage of changes in web technology that are bound to come about from time to time – so do it anyway.

By using Yahoo/Overture it’s possible to get your list listed on the first page, obviously depending on how competitive your keyword choice is and the budget you have to spend. A word of caution here – keep your budget very small and tight until you have tested the system. However, using search engine advertising is a quick way to get more traffic to your site. But obviously the best plan is to use SEO and other free methods of traffic generation as well.

OK So What’s The Cost?

The only trouble is that you’ll have to spend some cash to use this method. Yahoo/Overture has a number of different pricing options, depending on the number of keywords your ad has in it, or the number of times you get clicks. They also offer deals that allow your ads to show up on third party sites and not just search engine results pages. Visit their site to check out the current costs.

As far as the third party sites go, they’ll put your ads on sites that are relevant to yours. In other words, they are going for the same or similar keywords. This ensures that the people who might be interested in your site will see it. It would be meaningless for them to put your ads on an unrelated site.

Invest in Your Business’s Future

You can and should see this money as an investment. The idea is to pull more visitors to your site, and thus to increase sales. When it works, you will make good on the investment. The trick then is to work on your site so that those clicks turn into cash. In other words, don’t just get them there; get them buying and joining your list.

They say it takes money to make money. Actually, there are a number of free or low-cost ways to drive traffic to your site. But using Yahoo’s Overture (and the other search engines ) can help you get there faster. It offers quicker traffic on a bigger scale. If you don’t want to wait around for the search engines to start finding your site, it can be well worth the money!

So there you have it, Internet marketing tips like these are all about using the arsenal of tools, tips and methods to quite literally ‘market’ your site.

Small Businesses and Local Search Marketing

There is competition in every industry today and small businesses are fighting one another to keep from being eaten up by the giants. Visibility is everything and never before has ‘out of sight, out of mind’ been more applicable. Local search marketing is a digital marketing strategy that helps improve the visibility of your business.

People, while doing online searches, may assume you don’t exist, because a lot of times they use different keywords to search for the same thing. It is rare that people look for information by directly typing the company name into the search engines; they usually do so by typing the location, or the service, or the feature.

Local search marketing helps people reach your business when they search for related terms, not just the name of your company. It involves having your company registered on various local search engines. However, just registering is not enough. All your details need to be filled in correctly, along with descriptions, keywords, links and maps. Many sites personally make a phone call to check the authenticity of your company before they register you. This phone call ensures that you are listed on their site and thus increases the visibility of your website.

For small businesses local search marketing plays an even more important role. Rarely are there budgets for large scale advertising, and yet it is essential to get the word out about your business. Most of your potential clients are looking for what you offer by searching online. Your company needs to organically be filtered into their searches whether they are searching for you by product or location. The world wide web has revolutionized the way business is conducted nowadays, and online visibility has become critical for the success of your business.

You will surprised by the amount of footfalls local search marketing can organically lead towards your site. A lot of small businesses are unaware of these tools and hence lose out on the many advantages of it. This kind of digital marketing is extremely essential for small businesses and cannot and should not be overlooked. Google is a very important aspect of local search marketing. There are many ways to help you turn up on the front page of Google search results. You need a very strong web presence to help you do this, not only on your own website but also on other search engines, on local search groups and on listings websites. The constancy and accuracy of your information helps your company legitimize itself as a reliable and recognized institution, irrespective of size.

Digital marketing strategies form a large part of marketing plans, especially for smaller businesses. No longer do people flip through yellow pages when they can find what they’re looking for with the simple click of a button. Local search marketing puts on you the map; literally and otherwise.

Make sure your keywords density isn’t too high

Your keyword density is also a factor that affects your search engine rankings. Search engines determine the relevance of your website to a particular subject by the use of keywords in your web page text. The higher the density of the keyword, the more relevant the web page for that keyword subject. However too high a keyword density, and the search engines will consider you trying to spam the search engines and will penalize your website for keyword stuffing, or keyword spamming. Content with a conversational tone or a natural editorial flavour can produce a premium keyword density and leave you with good quality content. The old rule of thumb is that your keyword should never appear in more than half of the sentences on the page. A better approach is to have your keyword not appear in more than 1/3 of the sentences, yet use synonyms and other related keywords on the page as well to add relevance. In total, you don’t want your keyword density to be above 3%. Tools like keyworddensity.com can give you a quick reference to web page keyword density.

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