No, SEO Isn’t Dead.

 

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If you  haven’t heard it before, you’ll probably hear about it sometime soon: SEO is dead, and we’re all a bunch of fools to invest any more time and money into it. We might as well just accept it now: We’re never going to be able to use any kind of strategy to boost our ranking on the biggest search engines on the planet.

Except that SEO isn’t dead. We’re not wasting money or time by investing in optimization services.

And there are strategies that help you boost your online presence. There’s no magic bullet, but there are best practices that successful SEO companies follow to get their clients more exposure.

So what gives? Why do people keep saying SEO is dead?

In this post, we’ll go over a few of the top reasons people cite for the “end of SEO”. Keep in mind that Google does change its algorithm frequently, and that what works today might not work sometime in the near future. But that’s natural. Change can be dealt with; strategies can be adjusted. Just because search is an evolving thing doesn’t mean that SEO has no place in today’s business marketing strategies.

Reason #1: People are losing trust in big businesses.

It’s a reflection of economic strife and increasingly-agitated people: Trust in leaders, particularly corporate leaders, is plummeting. With security breaches, scandals at the top levels of big businesses, and news about middle- to low-rung workers being mistreated or underpaid, it’s no wonder people are beginning to raise their eyebrows at large companies.

In fact, Google itself has gotten into a number of heated legal tiffs. People are actually more likely to trust the NSA than they are Google, according to one survey.

And that’s just it, isn’t it? Google is everywhere, almost omnipresent. It’s so ingrained into peoples’ lives now that there are comics and jokes about the search giant’s software being implanted in our brains sometime in the near future! “Big Brother”-type concerns used to be something that you only found in a George Orwell novel, but nowadays, they’ve become a real, legitimate concern.

All of this to say that because people are losing trust in big businesses, they’ve lost trust in Google. They fear where Google could go, given all its power. So when applying this to SEO, people assume that Google has the system rigged, and that you’ll have to pay increasingly more to be considered above other sites in the SERPs.

However, while the legal troubles have been concerning, that doesn’t mean that Google will be slowing down anytime soon. SEO is still effective in spite of all that.

Reason #2: People use apps to search, rather than Google.

Some people say that because people are searching for things using apps such as Amazon, Yelp, or Pinterest, that SEO is dead. They argue that when customers begin moving away from Google like this, optimization just doesn’t have the same kind of effect that it used to.

Except that that is wrong for two reasons:

1) People still use Google to find things, particularly small local businesses. Apps might draw some attention away from Google and the other search engines, but that doesn’t mean that people never use them. How many times have you looked for restaurants or movie tickets simply by typing it into Google? Probably a lot, right? Yelp reviews definitely have their place, but you don’t always go straight to Yelp to find a place to eat.

2) Sites/Apps like Amazon have their own internal search algorithms. And guess what? Those can be used to your advantage as well. It’s true that when people are shopping for things like Kindle books, they’re probably going straight to Amazon rather than Google. But again, this doesn’t mean that SEO is dead–you can even apply what you’ve learned to Amazon if you’re selling items there.

Reason #3: People are sharing links via social media, and that’s caused would-be Googlers to shift away from search.

Some claim that because people are always getting news and information from their friends on social media platforms, that means they don’t use Google anymore. After all, why search for “peeptoe shoes on sale” when you could just buy the exact same pair that your friend just shared with you?

If you thought you sensed some sarcasm there, you’re correct. People do take recommendations from their friends seriously, and people do click on links that their friends post to social media. But that doesn’t mean this is a 1-for-1 exchange with Google! Especially when it comes to shopping for clothes or local services, people will want recommendations, but they’re also going to want to shop around. And that means that they’re going to do some Googling before making their final decision.

Reason #4: Ad blocks and distrust of paid placement makes people avoid your paid promotions.

There is some truth to this statement. People get sick of having advertisements pop up in their feeds all the time. They want to be able to search without accidentally clicking on some spammy ad. And that’s a totally legitimate concern.

But not everyone blocks ads. And some people do still click them. It seems to depend on where you’re listing them. Facebook ads still work, and so do Google ads, although it’s getting more and more difficult to reach your audience through advertising without paying more competitive prices.

When it comes right down to it, though, people are more likely to trust a legitimate link rather than a sponsored ad. So SEO is still important in this scenario, too–you can pay to promote your site, but if you’re found organically, you have a higher chance of nabbing more clicks.


Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to discover how we can help you be seen online.

 

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Facebook to Introduce 360 Degree Videos

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This Wednesday, Facebook announced that its News Feed will begin to support 36o-degree videos: you’ll be able to move your view up, down, left, and right to take a peek at your surroundings from all different directions. Currently, they are testing the technology, and they describe it as a “new kind of online video” that will allow viewers to move through it not unlike they way they would a video game.

Putting the Oculus Rift Technology to Use

Last year, Facebook acquired the creator of the Oculus Rift–a headset that was originally built for virtual reality (VR) games. Microsoft and Google have tinkered with this technology by building prototypes of their own: Microsoft with a HoloLens headset, and of course the most popular of the bunch, Google Glass eyewear (which hasn’t died yet, contrary to what people think).

Clearly, Facebook understands that the future of the internet and user experience will rely heavily on video, as well as virtual reality. Technologies will integrate with our everyday activities and “augment”, or enhance, the way we interact with technology and apply it to our lives.

An explosive new technology

Facebook has said that more than 1.3 billion people that utilize its platform view more than 3 billion videos every day. And that’s just on its platform–that doesn’t take into account videos watched on YouTube, Vimeo, Google, or any other platforms. Nope. That’s just. Facebook.

So Facebook hopes to introduce its users to using this kind of VR video. And this week during the keynote address at the company’s annual developer conference held in San Francisco, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the company is already looking into asking third-party publishers to create their own videos to share via Facebook.

How the videos will work

Spherical cameras will capture video in 360 degrees–think of it sort of like Google’s “street view” cameras. You’ll be able to virtually locate a point on a map and look around you by dragging your mouse around, or if you have a touchscreen, you can also do this by moving your finger across the screen.

Zuckerberg stressed how much like virtual reality this really was: “You’re going to be able to put on your headset and feel like you’re really there,” he said.

Google’s Trying to Get Local Businesses Online

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Have you heard about Google’s new project “Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map”? Launched in late March, this program offers resources to business owners so that they can get started building their online presences. It also offers the option for official city partners to join up. Alternatively, if you are already on Google Places, you can claim and correct duplicate or erroneous listings.

Where do I find this site?

The website is GYBO.com. When you navigate to the Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map website, you’ll see a local version of the page. So whether you’re in California or Alaska, you’ll see a town close to you–one that’s relevant to your local searches. You’ll also find an FAQ, free online business tools (such as videos and tutorials), and a free scan to find out if your business information shows up on Google Places already.

What if I don’t have a website?

If you don’t have a website, Google offers a free domain and hosted website through StartLogic. However, it should be noted that this website is only free for one year, and they do not offer maintenance–that is up to the customer.

Of course, you don’t have to go through Google and StartLogic to get a website. You can go with any host of your choice and still submit your site to Google. There is no penalty for choosing another service. In fact, we offer affordable website packages with customization options as well as hosting and maintenance.

What if I find my listing, but it’s incomplete or incorrect?

Using the free scanning tool (this will open up to our city, Santa Ana, CA; however, you can enter your own city!), Google will find out if your listings are present online, and also if they are completely filled out. If they are not complete, the website will guide you through updating your listing so that Google can index your listing.

Why should I bother with this? Can’t someone do this for me?

According to Google itself, “businesses with complete listings are 2x as likely to be considered reputable by customers searching for services.” That means that if you have a completely filled out listing with accurate information, customers are more likely to choose you over your competitors. When people search for goods and services online, they usually choose from the businesses listed at the top of the results page–those that are active, have good reviews, and information on business hours, contact information, and website links.

So you can follow Google’s steps and make sure your business listing includes hours, phone number, address, photos, reviews, and website. You can also hire someone to help you–not only can they get your site listed on Google, but they can also get you listed across many directories as well as help you with social media, website hosting, and marketing. In fact, that’s exactly what we do–so if you’re looking for help, give us a call.

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to discover how we can help you be seen online.

5 Things You Can Do to Make Your Blog More SEO Friendly — in 30 Minutes or Less!

5 ways to make your blog more SEO friendly in 30 minutes or elss

1. Install a responsive-design theme (Time: 7 minutes).

Look through your blogging platform’s pre-made themes and you can find responsive designs for free. If you want to have a little bit more choice, you can always pay a one-time fee to have access to a design that’s more customizable.

So how does a responsive design help with SEO? More and more people are searching the web through mobile devices nowadays–that includes phones and tablets. As this becomes more commonplace, Google is going to start valuing mobile-friendly sites more than those that don’t cater to all devices. Don’t be left behind–get on this now. It can be free, and seriously–7 minutes. You can do it in the time it takes you to take out the trash.

2. Make sure your URLs are easily indexable (Time: 3 minutes).

When you post a new article, does it show up looking something like this?

Myawesomeblog.com/?p=431

Yeah, that doesn’t really  help the search engines find your site. Instead, go into your permalinks customization and make sure you choose something that enables you to format the title with keywords. Search engines love keywords, not random letters and numbers that tell them nothing of the page’s content.

(Note: on wordpress.com, your links should automatically be formatted correctly; on wordpress.org blogs, or self-hosted blogs, you can find the permalinks customization option under “settings.”)

3. Make your images SEO-friendly (Time: 10 minutes).

Well, to be honest, this depends on how many images you have on your blog. But if you have a reasonable amount, you can easily make this work in under 10 minutes.

Simply go to your media section (where you host your videos and images), and open up the editor. On wordpress, you can see all your media in one spot and you have the option to rename them, add links, and add something called an “alt tag”. That’s where the gold is.

Alt tags tell search engines what the picture is about. So if you go in and edit all your images’ alt tags, search engines will be able to associate them with your site and keywords.

For example, instead of leaving the alt tag of an image of a plumber working at a toilet blank, try writing a descriptive sentence like, well, “plumber working at a toilet”.

4. Install a plug-in that helps you stay on top of SEO best practices (Time: 5 minutes).

Yoast SEO and All-in-One SEO are the best choices. Yoast recently had a security issue, but they quickly worked to seal it back up, and everything is back to normal again.

These plug-ins can easily be installed on WordPress from here or here, or you can do a search for them yourself from the native WordPress dashboard. After they’re installed, you can then begin playing around with options and implementing strategies that will help your posts rank better in search engines–and the best part is, this can be free, or close to it.

5. Submit a fresh site map to Google (Time: 5 minutes).

You can do this manually, or by using the Google Webmaster Tools generator. Then you can submit your sitemap through Webmaster Tools yourself, and it’ll all work just fine. We promise.

Or, you can do it an easier way. With a WordPress blog, you install another plugin that’ll make this much more convenient.

Try something like Google XML Sitemaps, which you can download here for free. What this enables you to do is create a sitemap quickly and easily–and the plugin will submit it to Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. It notifies these popular search engines every time you update so that they can quickly index your work. Much, much easier than trying to do it yourself, right?

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.

7 SEO Myths You Need to Trash Immediately

Whether you’re new to SEO or you’re a long-time veteran, you’ve certainly heard your share of opinions on the practice. Keyword density matters according to one person, while another claims it doesn’t. One person proclaims Facebook to be pointless; another says it’s essential to your marketing campaign.

It can get downright exhausting to listen to these kinds of things. So today, we wanted to take the top 7 SEO myths we hear, and debunk them for you. Can you think of any others? Let us know!

1. SEO isn’t a long-term investment

“I did SEO once. Isn’t that good enough?”

Nope. In order for SEO to work, you have to keep at it. If you lost weight once, would you expect it to stay off forever? No. You have to make lifestyle changes to keep yourself healthy and trim, and the same goes for your website: If you want to grow your traffic, you have to keep promoting, keep updating, and keep connecting with your customers.

2. SEO is a scam

This usually ties in with the above concern. When people aren’t seeing their sites at #1 on Google within three days of working with an SEO service, they start panicking. Surely, because you’re paying for SEO, it should be done right away… right? If not, you’re just being scammed by some shady, fly-by-night operation. What a ripoff!

No, that’s not exactly true. While there are some out there who seek to take advantage of small business owners, that can be said about any industry. There are always going to be “bad apples” in the bunch, and there’s nothing you can do about that. What you can do, however, is learn how to spot them. Don’t think that just because someone is bad at their job, that all of us are!

3. Google doesn’t take any cues from social media

You’ve probably heard it before: Social media doesn’t help you rank in Google, because Google doesn’t care about your social media updates. While this is technically true in that Google does not care about how many fans or retweets or “likes” you have, that doesn’t mean that your social media sites don’t help your presence.

Confused? Let us explain.

If you follow best practices for your social media accounts, when people search for your company, your profiles should show up. Now, this might not directly affect the ranking of your website, but it gives people who search for you a whole host of options to connect with you. Furthermore, when people share your content via social media, it could bring attention to your work and allow others to contact you and/or build links to your site naturally. And these things will affect your ranking.

4. Link building is pointless now

Nope.

It seems that every so often, someone starts proclaiming link building to be dead (or SEO, or Facebook, or viral marketing, or… you get the picture) and then tons of people follow suit, crowing the same soundbites everywhere. But link building isn’t pointless. It never has been, and it probably won’t be.

Google does take ranking and relevancy signals from sites that link to you. If you have done a good job building a network of peers the natural and honest way, you have nothing to worry about. Forging relationships and providing fresh content are things that Google wants you to do. But if you buy links or pay someone to implement other black-hat SEO techniques (black-hat meaning bad; Google will punish your site if you’re caught using these methods), you’ll pay for it in the long run. This kind of link building is pointless; not the honest way.

5. You need to include a keyword density of x to rank

2%? 5%? You’ve heard it before: If you don’t maintain a certain keyword density in your content, Google’s going to overlook your site in favor of someone who does it correctly.

There’s definitely a nugget of truth to using keywords in your content: As the search engines crawl your page, they look for phrases consisting of related words. They can then conclude that the site is about a specific topic.

But that doesn’t mean you have to use the exact same instances of keywords a certain number of times. If you try to stuff too many keywords into your content, you’ll end up looking like a spammer. Instead, try to focus on writing clear content that revolves around one topic. So if you’re a nail salon, try writing a post about top nail trends of 2015. Or you could write about the top three brands of nail polish to try this spring. Do you see how clearly those topics are defined? By writing content around such a focused topic, you’ll naturally use language that cues search engines to look for certain keywords and keyphrases. You can also consciously make sure to include your keywords a few times, just for good measure.

6. Anchor text all keywords

This actually used to be an SEO truth. But then you started seeing sites with the same keyword or keyphrase repeated over and over and over, and every single time, the keyword led to the same page.

Google came down on that practice pretty hard.

Nowadays, it’s better to include links to your other pages (or to external sources, if applicable) by simply linking phrases like “click here” or “read more”. It’s not that it’s necessarily bad to link using keyword-rich phrases, but it can appear to Google that you’re linking specifically for the purpose of SEO, rather than providing valuable content for your readers. So try not to overdo it, and just link to things in a natural way rather than forcing it too hard.

7. Paid search will increase your organic rankings

Paid search can help you drive traffic to your site for the duration of your campaign.

But there is no data saying that paid search will help you rank organically.

Think about it: Companies with millions to spend on advertising would have it in the bag. Companies with smaller budgets couldn’t even compete. There’s already competition for pay-per-click bids; but that just helps Google determine which advertisements to show first. So until search engines decide to allow paid search to influence rankings, you can safely assume that this is not something you need to worry about.

Which SEO myths bug you the most? Let us know in the comments!

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.

Why Search Engine Optimization is a Long-Term Investment

When it comes to search engine optimization, there are so many things to consider before you get started that it might seem like an impossible task to take on. From meta tags to building backlinks, and from content marketing to social media, it seems there’s a million things you need to do to play the ranking game–and actually do well at it.

But SEO is a long-term investment. It’s not a “set it and forget it” type of process–it’s a fluid, ever-changing industry, and it takes a lot of knowledge and dedication to keep up with all the latest strategies. Before we get into that, though, take heart–There are some things you can do to get started immediately:

  • Make sure to list your business on Google + and as many major directories as possible. Defining keywords, linking to your website, and providing vital information about what your business does makes it easier for the search engines to index you.
  • On that note, make sure your address, phone number, and business name are listed consistently across all directories. Search engines can create duplicate listings for slight variations in addresses, and this creates confusion for customers who are searching for your services.
  • Build a website with an easy-to-navigate structure and visitor-friendly photos. Make sure you include meta tag descriptions, provide search engine-friendly alt tag descriptions on photos, and submit a site map to Google periodically. Updating your blog or at least providing fresh content is a must. And you should always make sure your link structure is clear to search engines. I.e., website.com/blog/how-to-install-a-faucet is great; website.com/22560 is not.

SEO is ever-changing and increasingly complex.

But the nature of the beast is that SEO is an ever-changing process. Google is always trying to make its algorithm more accurate–for example, when you think of how search functioned in the 90s versus now, they have improved a lot at returning relevant results! Why? Because Google has invested a lot of time into researching user intent, so that when someone types in a query, he or she gets more accurate results. Naturally, the company is going to continue doing their research and honing the algorithm in the years to come.

What does all of this have to do with Search Engine Optimization? Well, put simply, SEO is the process of getting a site “Google-ready”. SEO experts take current Google data and make sure that client sites comply with it, so that they’re ranked higher in comparison to their competitors.

SEO experts must work with an algorithm that is unknown to anyone–and still try to stay in Google’s good graces.

So basically, once you’ve achieved that ranking, if you’ve hired good SEO people, you’ll likely hold that spot for a long time to come.

However, sometimes Google makes SUCH drastic changes that while you may have been ranking on page one on Monday, suddenly on Tuesday, you’re not ranking at all. You soon discover that you are lacking now-important SEO elements or utilizing outdated techniques.

For example, “keyword density” used to be a big concern for SEOs. They advised that articles and content on sites contained keyword-rich articles, using the exact same grammar structures every time the keyword was used, even if it didn’t make sense in the context of the sentence. Back then, this was actually a way some people would “cheat” Google–just stuff keywords in some text and end up ranking on page one! (By the way, this is what’s known as “black hat” SEO–doing things simply to cheat the system–and black hat techniques will get you booted from page one on Google’s next update faster than you could imagine.)

Now, Google actually punishes people for stuffing keywords. And the search algorithm has become sophisticated enough that Google can understand changes in a query’s grammatical structure. What that means is that you no longer have to JUST search for “landscapers cheap Lexington” to get relevant results, but you could search for “cheap landscaper in Lexington” and get basically the same thing.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a screenshot. Take a look at the pages:

cheap-landscaper-lexingtonlandscapers-cheap-lexington

Yep, the majority are the same links. One just has a map, so they’re listed as Google + business listings, and that’s where you’ll spy the difference. But the point still stands. Google is really good at interpreting what the user is looking for–affordable landscapers in or around Lexington. Whether you word it like Yoda or an English professor, Google wants to help you out, and does a pretty good job at it!

SEO experts are in it for the long haul–and so are you.

Because Google is always changing, search engine optimization must follow suit. There are those out there who say SEO is dead (there’s always somebody saying that about ANYTHING, though) and there are others who say it will become obsolete as search engines grow closer and closer to behaving like human minds. But the fact is, the web is always changing. People build new websites. New businesses crop up, while others close their doors forever. It’s not enough to rank on page one today. You have to work with experts to make sure that you continue to rank on page one in the future too, whether Google releases a major update or another business moves into your vicinity. So until Google can read your mind and pull up the best business to match your personality (eep–that’s some scary stuff, isn’t it?), search engine optimization will be a thing. SEO is a long-term investment, and if you have a great business at your side, it will be worth it.

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.

10 Ways to Rock Your Small Business Blog

1. Put social media connections in a sidebar.

Have you ever visited a blog with a sidebar—you know, the thing that loads on either the left or right hand side of the screen and usually contains links or advertisements?

Well, if you have, you probably noticed that those sidebars usually contain information about pertinent things: Other blogs, affiliate links, popular articles, and of course, social media profiles.

Make it easy for your customers and clients to connect with you across all your social media platforms by installing a sidebar on your blog. For WordPress, most themes support it. For Blogger, it’s built right in. Make good use of that real estate!

2. Offer helpful advice.

Don’t just try to sell your readers your services. No one likes a hard sales pitch, and no one wants to slog through an entire post just to see that you’re selling them something.

Instead, why don’t you offer advice to your readers? For example, if you sell and install gutters, you could put together a post detailing the proper care of gutters for all seasons. Or you could walk customers through the different kinds of gutters and which ones work best with different kinds of homes.

By offering advice, you won’t come off as pushy or desperate. You can add a soft pitch to your posts by saying that you’re available to help with any problems the reader might be having, and leave your contact information. Make sure you also have your contact information listed on the rest of your site, too–readers should be able to quickly find what they need no matter where they are.

3. Link to your own articles.

Did you know that linking to your own articles can help send more positive ranking signals to Google? If you’ve written a number of posts already, then you’ll have plenty of relevant information om your site that you can refer your readers to. Going back to our example, the gutter supplier, you might have written one post about the importance of cleaning your gutters before the snow falls, and you might have written another about maintaining your gutters throughout the winter. You could definitely find space in one article to link to the other, and vice versa. This will keep visitors on your site longer, too!

4. Include good images—not just generic stock photos.

Have you ever read a blog where the photos are just generic, boring stock images? Does it help you remember that site or feel like it really connects with you?

Probably not. The point of including images in your posts is to enhance the reader’s experience—to break up text and to create a visual guide for the content they’re taking in. If you just include boring, run-of-the-mill stock pictures, it’s not going to be very attention-grabbing. So get out there and find exciting photos to include, or, if you’re artistic (or if you employ an artistic and willing employee), you might even want to create your own one-of-a-kind graphics!

5. Get competitive.

Yes, that’s right: Contests. If you put up a blog post asking people to participate in a contest, your readers will be happy to comment and share. You can then cross-post it to social media accounts and ask your fans to share there, too. Contests can be simple to design—like asking people to caption a photo, for example—or they can be a bit more complex, such as asking people to submit a creation of their own (photo, writing, design, etc).

Then, as a reward, you’ll want to give away a prize like a coupon, “buy one get one free”, a free estimate for your services, or gift cards to your store. Whatever you think is a good incentive for your company!

6. Want feedback? Set up a poll.

If you want to get some feedback about the quality of your services, the appearance of your website, or the appeal of the sale you’re currently running, a great way to do so is to set up a poll. You can get plug-ins on WordPress to do this easily. The beauty of a poll vs asking for direct feedback is that people are much more likely to be honest when the results are anonymous. So you’ll probably have more participants, and you’ll more than likely end up with more accurate responses!

7. Make sure you have a sitemap.

If you haven’t already, you should make sure that your blog contains a clear sitemap for Google to crawl. Basically, what this means is that Google robots can find their way around your page more easily, making it more likely that your page will rank.

Every once in a while, it’s nice to submit a new sitemap to Google, especially if you’ve done a lot of rearranging on your site, or if you produce content regularly (which you should be doing!)

If you need help doing this, here’s a handy guide.

8. Update your blog frequently—even with just some quick news.

Sometimes it’s difficult coming up with regular blog post ideas. Whether the creative juice isn’t flowing or you’re just plain not interested in writing, it can be difficult to consistently come up with great blog posts for your readers. And that’s okay. All of us suffer from writer’s block from time to time, and there’s really no way around it. You just have to come up with something–anything–that you can talk about to keep the attention of your readers. You could even post a little “hello” and update everyone on your plan to unveil a new product. Whatever works!

Oh, and if you’re really struggling to come up with topics, we have an article to help you brainstorm some killer blog post ideas right here.

9. Show off your latest work.

Do you have a photo gallery that hasn’t been updated in the last year and a half? Well, it’s probably time to change that. Go in and add photos of things you’re proud of–if you’re a roofer, for example, ask customers to share photos of the work that you did. You can then put it up in a gallery for your visitors to browse. If you’re a person who provides artistic services (like web design or photography), this is a must-have. Don’t be shy–you should be proud of your hard work!

10. Reach out to others in your industry.

If you’re serious about marketing your business, a great way to get more eyes on your small business blog is to reach out to industry professionals and ask for their opinions. Ask them to share tips and tricks. Share their articles with your readers. Try doing an interview, or ask someone if you can do a guest post on their blog. There are a number of ways you can network, and just as networking in person, networking online takes effort and finesse. When you hobnob with some of the well-known names… well, you’ve just bought yourself more traffic and more credibility.

Good luck with your small business blogging endeavors!

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.

Today There Was a Google Panda Update, but Don’t Panic Just Yet

google-panda-update
Most people get excited about seeing a panda. But they’re not always excited about Google Panda updates.

Multiple sources have confirmed that Google has rolled out a new update for its “Panda” search algorithm, including Google’s own Pierre Far, who wrote on his Google+ page that the change will continue to be rolled out over the next few days:

“Earlier this week, we started a slow rollout of an improved Panda algorithm, and we expect to have everything done sometime next week.

Based on user (and webmaster!) feedback, we’ve been able to discover a few more signals to help Panda identify low-quality content more precisely. This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher, which is nice. Depending on the locale, around 3-5% of queries are affected.”

Before you begin to panic about your rankings, let’s take a step back and take a look at which sites the Google Panda update was targeting. While the company will never explicitly state how their algorithm works, they do give some good hints:

  • Is the information on the site trustworthy?
  • Is the content well written—i.e., free of spelling errors, factual inconsistencies, etc.?
  • Are there multiple copies of the same content?
  • Does the site have an excessive amount of ads on it?
  • Is the content mass-produced or does it come from a variety of sources?

And so on.

So you can probably see that there’s a common theme here: Targeting poor content practices.

And as it turns out, there’s a good reason for that.

no-spam
If only it were this easy to get rid of spam.

As we’ve mentioned in our other articles, many marketers love to inform their clients that “content is king”–and it is, without a doubt, an incredibly important part of the ranking formula. While there are many other factors that contribute to a site’s rank, content is perhaps the most easily targetable and exploitable. You’ve probably visited sites with “spammy” content—poorly written, stuffed with keywords, repetitive, devoid of any real substance. And the experience probably wasn’t fun, either. At one point, the spam had gotten so bad that it wasn’t uncommon for someone to just take someone else’s article, put it through a program to “spin” the text, and spam it across their website. And all without even being penalized by the search engines!

Obviously, things haven’t been that bad for a while. But Google still catches spammers employing these practices, and it doesn’t appear that the spammers will stop trying to find these loopholes any time soon. So the Google team periodically tightens the bolts on the algorithm–it’s the only way they can penalize the sites that seek to exploit the system. Unfortunately, this can end up putting the squeeze on legitimate businesses, too, because no adjustment is perfect.

So it’s understandable, then, that there are a lot of small and medium-sized business owners who worry that this (or any) Panda update will affect them adversely.

If you’re among them, the best way to improve your chances of recovery is to take a look at your content. And take a close look—really analyze it with an objective eye. Is it high quality? Do you update your site frequently? Does your site’s design and layout look reputable and professional? Are you providing a real service to your visitors or are you simply spamming them with in-your-face advertising?

looking-at-a-bad-website
If you feel like this when reading your own content, it’s probably bad.

If you can honestly say that you’re providing everything you can to ensure a great user experience, there should be no concern! In fact, you may even notice a jump in your traffic. If you notice that you have been adversely affected by this update, don’t worry too much. You can take a close look at where your site can improve and begin to seriously address those issues. Over time you’ll notice your work paying off, and the next time a bigger Google update rolls around, you’ll be able to climb the rankings again!

Questions or thoughts on the Panda update? Let us know in the comments below!

Back to Basics #17: How to Choose Keywords for a Small Business

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In our Back to Basics series, we’ve talked about blogging, content marketing, updating social media, managing your public image, and even how to manage your time by using tools to help speed up your posting and sharing. But this isn’t all you need to be doing to make sure that people are finding your business!

Another important part of keeping your campaigns running as smoothly as possible is to keep up to date on which keywords are helping your small business rank. A great way to do this is to use the Google Keyword Planner or KeywordTool.io, both of which are free to use and easy to learn.

Finding Target Keywords

So how do you even know where to start? A good place to begin your research is with your competitors. Now, we’re not advocating stealing their keywords in an attempt to out-rank them (some people do this, but it’s not really a great way of going about things), but it’s a good idea to see why your competitors are ranking so high. Do they have unique keywords? Are they the only providers of that service in your area? Do they have a website that has been up for many years? All of these things can determine how well a site is ranking, and often, with a bit of research, you can find ways to use this information to your advantage.

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To find their keywords, simply enter their URL in the box and see what Google pulls up. You may be surprised at some of the terms people are using to find the competitor’s site.

Alternatively, you might want to try entering your own URL and seeing what Google suggests. If you already have content on your site, the keyword planner will list related terms and give you an estimate of their search volume. You can pick a few of these keywords and think of variations for them.

Finally, using keywordtool.io, you can enter a subject—dentist, for example—and it will come up with a number of suggestions based on that keyword. You can plug some of these into Google’s Keyword Planner to see how the terms fare in searches.

Checking a Keyword’s Effectiveness

So after you’ve chosen your keywords and used them in blogs, meta tags, and images, how do you know if they’re working for your site? Well, a good way to check is to sign up for a free Google analytics account. You can get a code to copy and paste in your site’s header section and from there, Google will track information about the visitors that come to your site. (Important: If you know nothing about this, it’s best to contact your webmaster and ask him or her to insert the tracking code for you—you don’t want to mess up your website!) You can discover how they accessed your page—by organic search, social media links, or links from other pages, for example—and you can see which terms they’re using to find you. These terms are going to be the ones you want to focus on. If you see that some aren’t getting much traction, try a different variation by returning to the keyword planner and playing around with your options.

You can also try using a search engine to see if you can pull up your page with any terms. This isn’t necessarily the most effective way of determining if your keywords are working, though—sometimes it takes a while for the search engines to index everything and determine that your site is relevant. Plus, Google Analytics will show you where your “impressions” are, and these are equally as important to consider. Impressions are terms that the search engines associate with your site. They may not pull up your site until page 8 or 9, but they are there. Sometimes, given a bit more time and effort through blogging and social media sharing, you can move up the ranks for these “impressions” as well.

maintaining-google-ranking

Maintaining Your Ranking

Now, before we begin, let us just say that there’s no sure-fire way to ensure you stay at the top of a search engine’s result page. That’s because the algorithms change frequently—most often in an attempt to keep spammers from finding loopholes to abuse. Unfortunately, that means that it will affect you, too, even if you’re doing nothing wrong.

But there’s good news!

A good way to make sure that you stay in the good graces of the search engines is to update your site frequently. Blogging at least once or twice a week is a good goal. Talk about your keywords and subjects relating to them. Make sure that all your fresh content is high quality, relevant, and entertaining for your visitors to read. By doing all of this, you’ll have the best chance of maintaining your ranking over time.

If you enjoyed this article on how to choose keywords for a small business, be sure to subscribe for more updates delivered to your inbox! There are plenty of other articles meant to help small business owners make smart SEO and social media decisions. Or, if you have any other tips, let us know in the comments below!

Back to Basics #13: Why Am I Not Showing Up on Google?

woman-thinking-about-seo
Thinking about how to improve your rankings on Google? You’re not alone.

It’s a question a lot of small business owners have: Why am I not showing up on Google? You’ve made sure you’re listed on all the major business listings, you’ve optimized your posts and images, and you’re still not seeing your name pop up at the beginning of the results. What gives?

Unfortunately, Google is slow at crawling, indexing, and shifting listings around. And it can be really pokey for newer websites. To make matters worse, once you finally get the hang of things and begin ranking, you can easily be derailed by a change in the algorithm, which means you’ll have to find a way to crawl back up to the top of the listings once again. It’s not easy, and it’s definitely not fun.

To illustrate our point, we’ve put together an article that should help explain how everything works. To help you understand our process, we’ll use a “garden” metaphor. Your business is like a garden—you have individual plants, or products, that you want to “grow”. But a garden doesn’t produce the best fruits and blooms overnight. It takes time. So let’s take a look at our gardening strategy…

seed packets
Before you can grow a plant, you have to select your seeds.

Step 1: Plan and Prepare. After you’ve signed up with us, you’ll talk to one of our account specialists to make sure we get the correct information for your listing. Generally speaking, this is a smooth process. However, mistakes are sometimes made, and we encourage our customers look over their account information to ensure accuracy. If something’s off, let us know! We’ll get it changed as soon as possible. This sets the groundwork for your internet marketing campaign, so it’s important that we provide as detailed and accurate information as we can.

Step 2: Select Your Seeds. Once we have all customer-approved information, we can begin discussing keyword choices. Choose some of your own, and our experts will come up with a few as well. Think of your keywords as the seeds for your garden: once selected, we’ll come up with content that will help people find you using the keywords you’ve selected. For example, if you’re a roofing contractor, you might want to rank for “roofing”. However, this is a highly competitive keyword, and often it’s just too vague. To get more accurate results, most people will search for something more specific. Our experts will help you find more descriptive terms that are much more likely to get you ranking on the first page.

planting-seeds
Plant your seeds carefully!

Step 3: Plant Your Seeds. Now that you have your keywords selected, our experts will write custom content that helps Google and other search engines associate your chosen terms with your business name. We’ll add detailed content descriptions to localize and promote your business. Your site will be submitted across a wide range of directories, so that no matter how or where people search, they can find your business. It’s like nurturing any plant seed—with regular attention and the proper nutrients, it will grow into a healthy plant. The more time spent on optimizing listings and creating custom content for your listings, the better the results will be! Which brings us to…

Step 4: Give it Time. This brings us back to the problem at the beginning of the article. You’ve done everything you can—now why aren’t you ranking? Well, that’s because you need to give your listing time to “grow”. There are a lot of factors that go into ranking, such as how many competitors you have, how well they’re ranking, and the type of service you provide. If you’re a seasonal supplier, you might have more obstacles to overcome during certain times of the year. However, this doesn’t mean that your listing won’t take root—it will probably just take a little longer to begin ranking due to the decreased demand for services. Consistency and accuracy of listings also plays a major role, as do regular updates. Furthermore, it is impossible to begin ranking overnight. Many people are all too anxious to see their business showing up on Google—and rightfully so!—but unfortunately, it takes time no matter how successful your business already is. You can purchase Google ads to increase likelihood of click-throughs and you can definitely place ads on Facebook or other social media sites, but if you want to rank organically (that is, pop up when someone searches for your products or services), you have to give your garden time to grow.

Grandmother with her granddaughter working in the garden
Everyone can help! Work with your SEO experts to make sure your listing is growing steadily.

Step 5: Water with Care. At Internet Local Listings, we keep up-to-date with the latest listings and search engine algorithm changes. What does this mean for your company? It means that when we find a new place to submit your listing, we’ll do it for you. When Google makes changes, we make sure we comply. To bring us back to the garden analogy, it’s part of caring for the plants—weed out bad practices and nurture the ones that are known to work. But keep in mind that with every new or changed listing, it can take Google a few days to approve the changes. There’s no need to worry if you notice your listings have changed—everything should be back to normal soon!

Step 6: Keep Up the Maintenance. As long as you’re in business and want to remain on Google’s front page, you’ll have to keep maintaining your listings. As part of our agreement, Internet Local Listings will take care of this for you. If you need to make any changes to your listings, be sure to let us know and we’ll get your information updated ASAP. If you want to change keywords, we’ll be happy to help you with that, too. It’s our job to make sure that you’re 100% satisfied with your listings across the internet, so we encourage you to reach out and contact us with any questions or concerns.

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Want more information on our internet marketing services? Just visit us at InternetLocalListingsInc.com and we’ll be happy to assist you in any way we can!