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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The 10 Biggest Small Business SEO Blunders

1. You’re not optimizing your local search listings.

Are you listed on directory sites like Yelp, FourSquare, and Merchant Circle? If you’re not, this could be hurting your rankings. If you are listed across these sites but still aren’t seeing any boost in rakings, you will want to check to make sure you have listed all your information consistently. Check to ensure your business address, phone number, and website are all spelled correctly and don’t contain any unnecessary variation in syntax.

For example, if your address is “1234 Olive Branch Drive”, make sure every listing reads exactly like that. “1234 Olivebranch Drive” or “12 34 Olive branch dr” are both different listings!

Furthermore, if you find that you have duplicate listings, make sure you claim ONE and delete the duplicates, as this could be confusing people who are searching for your business.

2. You’re trying to rank for broad keywords.

If you’re in a small area, you might be able to rank for the keyword “plumber.” But if you’re in a bigger city, chances are that there are a lot of other plumbers working there with you. That means you have a lot of competition when people are searching locally!

So what can you do to improve this situation? Well, you might want to try linking for more specific keywords. For example, instead of “Cleveland plumber”, you might want to try “Cleveland plumber residential septic”. This way, you can rank for more specific keywords–and these are far more likely to get you ranking than something that’s too simple.

3. Using the same anchor text over and over.

You’ve probably heard something about keyword density before–something like “you must have 2-5% keyword density in your article to make it visible to search engines.” And you’ve more than likely also heard that you should use anchor text on your links so that you can target specific keywords.

Well, that’s not exactly true.

First of all, the keyword density thing is long-outdated. Google is smart–over the years, the search engine has learned to look for different variations on the same phrase. So that means that if you link to one page using the exact same anchor text over and over again, search engines (or even your visitors!) might think you’re trying something fishy. A good rule of thumb for you to remember is that if it looks spammy to you, it’s going to look spammy to your readers–and to the search engines. So regardless of what you’ve read about keyword density and repeating anchor text, following this practice is not going to help you in the long run.

So what should you do? Creating high-quality content that contains your keywords and key phrases is the best bet. Don’t stuff your keywords in or worry about using them in a bizarre way (such as our “Cleveland plumber residential septic” example–how would you fit that into a natural-sounding sentence?). Just write organically about your topic and you’ll be fine.

 4. Using subpar content.

Did you hire someone to write your content for you or did you write your content yourself? If you hired someone else to write it, did you check their credentials and make sure that their work is easy to read? Or does it come off a bit unprofessional, with misspellings or poor grammar? If you did the work yourself, do you feel confident in your ability to write good content, or do you feel a little embarrassed of the work you put up?

If something seems off about your content, we have some bad news for you: Your readers will probably notice too. If your content doesn’t read well or is perceived as untrustworthy, you’re destined to stay buried under your competitors.

So if you feel confident about your writing skills, go ahead and post fresh content on your pages; just make sure that you edit your work before you post it.

If you don’t feel confident and choose to hire a writer, make sure you select a candidate who actually has quality work in his or her portfolio! Don’t just hire the “cheapest” writer because you want to save money.

Always remember that quality is key when it comes to content. No exceptions.

5. Focusing too much on getting links vs. creating content.

Most people who are just getting into SEO learn very quickly how important backlinks are.

And before you get all up in arms, we’ll make it perfectly clear that we’re NOT saying backlinks aren’t important.

K. With that out of the way, if you focus too heavily on getting links to your site, but don’t bother creating a good site, you’re kind of shooting yourself in the foot. You need a reason for your readers to want to return–a reason for them to trust you and your work. If you just get a bunch of people linking to a boring landing page, you’re not going to gain much for all your effort.

So while reaching out to other sites and building links is important, don’t forget to make your website spectacular, too!

6. Not using meta tags or descriptions.

Meta tags and descriptions help search engines categorize and cache your site. If a search engine can’t find any pertinent information, it’s not going to know how to place your site–and it won’t see it as “relevant”. That’s why you have to make sure to include meta tags and proper descriptions in every page’s header.

This probably seems like too much work or like it’s too complicated, especially if you’re an SEO beginner. But it doesn’t have to be. If you host your site on WordPress, you can get a plug-in that helps you fill in all this important information. Try Yoast or All-in-One SEO. In just a few minutes, you can easily fill in keywords and descriptions that make your site attractive to search engines–no coding required.

If you’re not on WordPress, you might have a tougher time with this, but you can read more about the usage of meta tags and descriptions here.

7. Not bothering with Google Analytics.

Have you signed up for Google Analytics? If not, you’re missing out on a lot of important data–data that can tell you just about everything you need to know about your site’s visitors.

When you use analytics, you gain access to insider knowledge: Who is visiting your site the most? Where are they from? Which pages are they visiting–and how long are they staying on each page? By learning a bit about the basics of Google Analytics, you can figure out what is and what isn’t working for your site. Once you have a basic idea of where your strengths lie, you can begin to provide more content that your visitors crave, and in turn, make a more focused plan of how you will update in the months to come.

Now that’s a good way of growing your readership, and a great way to nab some true fans.

8. Ignoring social media integration.

So let’s say you have your website set up and it looks great. You update your blog regularly. You even have a photo gallery dedicated to your company’s stellar products and services. But do you have a way for your visitors to connect with you via social media?

Social media is a huge part of marketing nowadays. If people can’t find your company on sites like Facebook and Twitter, you might be selling yourself short–think of all those fans you could be missing out on. Be sure to make it crystal clear to your visitors how they can connect with you on social media.

And if you haven’t signed up yet, we’ve got some news for you: you’d better get crackin’ on that. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to connect with your clients and customers simply because you’re too frightened of change or because you think you don’t have enough time to learn social media. It’s well worth it, we promise.

9. Forgetting to update your blog or post new content.

How many times have you told yourself that you were going to update your blog once a week–and then you wrote one post and forgot to update for a month?

Or, have you told yourself that you don’t care about updating a blog–you put up a website a few years ago and it’s good enough, right?

Well, that’s just no good. If you want to be found by the search engines, you have to make sure you look relevant. If you were searching for, say, a local veterinarian, and the website the search engines pulled up looked like it hadn’t been updated in 12 years, would you choose to call that vet or find another one? You’d probably head to another vet, right?

That’s exactly what Google tries to avoid. It wants to create the best experience for its users, so it will devalue your site if  it doesn’t deliver fresh, relevant content. So whether you choose to blog or you just update your site’s existing content regularly, the key is to make sure you create some new data for the search engines to gobble up.

10. Thinking SEO is just a set-it-and-forget-it strategy.

So you’ve hired an SEO to go over your site and make sure it’s search-engine ready. You’ve paid them–probably a decent amount–and now you’re good to go, right?

Unfortunately, no. SEO best practices change all the time. Search engine algorithms constantly change, and what that means is what is a-okay today might not be tomorrow. Obviously, such drastic changes aren’t occurring that frequently, but every once in a while a big update will throw a wrench into rankings, sending previously-optimized sites crashing into the depths of the search engine result pages. It’s for this reason that you should keep an SEO expert available to monitor your site and make the necessary changes. After all, they keep up with the industry and it is their job to make sure their clients see results.

And hey, on that note, that’s what we do.

So if you’re looking for help with any of this, just drop us a line and let us know.

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.

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.

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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!