How Important Are Exact Match Keywords?

how-important-are-exact-match-keywords

Whether you’ve been doing SEO for a while or you’re just getting into the topic, there’s a good chance that you’ve already done some research on keywords. In fact, you’ve probably received quite a bit of advice on how to best use keywords–that you should focus on long-tail keywords and phrases; that you need a specific keyword density so search engines can pick up your content; that you should be adding keywords into headers and creating anchor text.

Well, at one time, all of these tips were true. While many of these practices are now outdated, there’s a reason you’ve been hearing so much about keywords: At one time, keyword-focused strategies were at the top of any SEO’s game.

So the question remains, how important are exact-match keywords now? How do keywords translate into useful information for search engines? Read on and find out!

Back in the day

Because search is an ever-evolving practice, search engines have had to make a huge number of adjustments in how they rank sites over the years. These adjustments are referred to as “algorithm updates”. And with each of these algorithm updates, SEOs find new ways to help boost page rank. So back when the web was less sophisticated and the algorithms weren’t quite as effective as they are now, search engines looked for pages with keywords that matched the search query exactly. These were called exact-match keywords.

Keyword stuffing

Once SEOs noticed that the usage of exact-match keywords would get sites ranking higher, they began putting those keywords in all the content on the website. They’d put it in image descriptions. In headers. In footers.

It got so bad that they’d even put it in the background of the site–yes, as in the space behind the text and images–and just change the color so that it blended in with the background color. Talk about obnoxious (and shady).

Now that is something that Google strongly dislikes. In fact, they wrote a whole piece about why hidden text and keyword stuffing is bad. Needless to say, it didn’t take too long before they started penalizing sites that stuffed keywords.

Keyword density

A tactic used alongside of keyword stuffing was adhering to a specific keyword density. Many of the people who used to stuff keywords realized that the search engines had begun to penalize them for it, so they decided instead to hit a specific density of keywords per article, thinking that this made the text appear more “organic” to search engines and thus would not be flagged as spam. Their density goals usually ranged from 2-5%, and the keywords had to be an exact match.

Of course, this led to really sloppy writing. We’re talking keywords and keyphrases shoved in roughly every two sentences, leading to repetitive, grammatically- and syntactically-incorrect content. It was so obvious that it was “optimized”. And soon, Google began flagging many of those articles as spam, too.

So how do exact-match keywords work now?

As a part of the Hummingbird update in 2013, Google began taking semantic indexing into account. What does that mean? It means that the search engine is smart enough to parse sentences and pick up on keyword variations as well as topics and themes. This eliminates the need to try to stuff strangely-worded keywords into your content.

So let’s say that you run a site promoting salon services and you’re located in Atlanta, GA. Before, with exact-match keyword phrasing, you might only want your content to reference “salons in Atlanta, GA” so that you could rank locally for salon services.

With the Hummingbird update in place, however, you wouldn’t have to worry about it. If you have claimed your Google business listing and made sure that your address is correct, you’ll already have a location associated with your website. As long as your site contains content about salon services, Google will understand that when someone is searching for salons in the Atlanta area, there’s a good chance they might be looking for your page.

So if exact-match keywords aren’t as important now that Google utilizes semantic indexing, what should you focus on?

Website structure

When it comes to your website’s layout and the way the code is structured, you might think that SEO has nothing to do with it. Well, you would be wrong.

If your site is easy to navigate, then visitors will find the information they’re looking for without much trouble. Google looks at this data–how long is someone on your site? Do they click around?–which, if they stay a while and look at your content, implies your site has what they needed. But what if they just back out immediately? This would suggest they didn’t find what they were looking for, and Google will assume your site isn’t relevant to their needs.

So be sure to title your pages with descriptive words. Make your menus easy to navigate. Ensure your web designer has enabled a site map. All of these things are far, far more important than exact-match keywords.

Site speed

Something that you might not even consider to be an issue can often really make or break your SEO efforts–if your site is slow or has errors in loading, you could be damaging your ranking without even knowing it. So what can you do to make sure your website loads quickly?

  • Clean up any extra pages that you don’t use anymore (perhaps from an old design).
  • Get rid of plug-ins that are broken, outdated, or are otherwise unused.
  • Ask your web developer if there is any unneeded media or outdated code that you can get rid of.
  • SSL encryption could possibly give a ranking boost, although it’s not significant.

Other content tips

If you’re writing your own content, here are some good things to keep in mind:

  • Use proper grammar and sentence structure. Writing poorly comes off as spammy.
  • Choose a topic and stick to it. By using the topic keywords organically throughout the post, you will tell Google what the page is about.
  • Do not repeat the same words over and over again. You’ll look spammy.
  • Interlink your posts. Google loves links, including links on your own site.
  • Use images. When you use images with proper titles, you increase reader interest and you tell Google more about your topic.
  • Encourage conversation. Leave comment sections open. You can earn trackbacks to your post (other links) and make it easy for people to engage with you.

And there you have it! Exact-match keywords aren’t important today, but staying on topic and providing fresh, relevant content for your visitors is. So keep practicing your writing and let the ideas come naturally–and remember that you need to write for people, not for search engines.


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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How Local SEO Helps Local Businesses Dominate Searches

How Local SEO Helps Local Businesses Dominate Searches
If you’re a small business owner and you’re just a little bit confused on the concept of search engine optimization (otherwise known as SEO), you’re not alone. But there’s no need to feel completely lost–in fact, you might be happy to hear that to make use of SEO tactics, you don’t actually have to be a coder or master of marketing. Surprisingly, it’s pretty easy to learn the basics and implement some of the changes on your own. Below, we detail some of the ways local SEO differs from on-site SEO, and how you can start making local SEO work for your small business.

Local SEO functions differently

When working to get a website ranking, an SEO expert will generally come up with a detailed plan that covers a number of proven SEO tactics: Link building, content creation and syndication, image and on-page optimization, and more. From blogs to ecommerce sites, this works well, and it’s a tried-and-true method of working your way up the search engine result pages (SERPs).

But unlike blogs or ecommerce sites, small business websites generally represent a digital space that provides information about the actual “brick-and-mortar” store. A person who goes to a small business’s website already has a product or service in mind–they’re not mindlessly browsing for “gray pants on sale” or “blogs about healthy baby foods”. No, they’re looking for a plumber in Toiletville, and blogs or toilets for sale aren’t going to help them much.

So this goes to reason that when your company shows up in a local search, it’s because the person who is searching for you wants something locally–they’re not interested in what some blog has to say about plumbing or what Wikipedia has to say about it, either. They just want to find a plumber.

So that’s why it’s important that you focus on local SEO for your small business. It’s just not the same as trying to get an online store or blog ranking. Local SEO is its own animal.

Smart local searches will display pertinent information for your customers.

Because your local business is an actual storefront, people who are searching for you won’t just want to find your website. They’ll also want to know your business hours, how to get in contact with you, and they might even want to learn what others think about your products and services. You may have noticed that when you conduct a search for a local service, a map will display showing nearby businesses. You can then click to get information about the business, such as the business name, address, and phone number (NAP).

To get these important points of data to display properly in searches, you’re going to want to submit your business information to directories. There are a lot of online business directories, whether you’re aware of it or not: The Yellow Pages, Yelp, Merchant Circle, Google Business Places, Bing Places for Business, and more. For more information on specific directories, VR Marketing Blog has put together a helpful list of the top 20 places your local business should be listed.

Basically you’ll want to make sure that all of these listings display a correct form of your NAP. If there are duplicate listings on any directories, claim them and fix them to avoid the search engines thinking there are two locations/phone numbers/names for your business. If you find that there are inconsistencies in addresses or contact information, make sure you correct it. The search engines will pull up data based on what’s listed in directories–and you want your information to be correct so that your customers can easily find you.

The takeaway? Local SEO directories will help customers find you when conducting local searches, so you’d better make sure you’re listed in as many of them as possible.

Local reviews help you out in more ways than one.

An integral part of your local SEO campaign will be collecting business reviews. Google wants to display only the most important results to people who are searching for local businesses–so naturally, it will show those with more positive reviews first. Think of it as “social proof” that you’ve got what the people are looking for.

Of course, reviews don’t just help you show up on local searches. They’re also a great way to advertise your business on Facebook or other social media platforms. Entice your fans and followers with a coupon or special offer if they leave you a review. Sometimes, people just need a little push in the right direction before they get involved.

What you need to know: Local reviews are worth their weight in gold for your small business. The more reviews, the better you’ll appear to prospective customers, and the higher you’ll rank on the SERPs.

Connect with other local businesses for the best networking opportunities.

Local businesses are unique in that they get to establish roots in a community. Sure, there are competitors. And sure, you’ve probably never felt like promoting them before.

But if you connect with other local businesses, you create a wonderful networking opportunity for yourself. You can link to one another online, building your link portfolio to boost your presence on Google. You can run promotions and drive business that way. You could arrange interviews or work together to promote a cause and draw attention to your services. Gone are the days of trash-talking your competitors. Now it’s the age of co-promotion, and local businesses can really shine in this area–if you know how to play your cards right.

So what should you do? Figure out who the big names are in your area. Connect with successful businesses and find a way to form a positive relationship. Support one another online and watch your traffic grow.


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.

Has your Business Claimed an SEO Business Listing (US)?

local-seo-business-listing-us
Have you claimed your SEO business listings? US businesses must be listed correctly across the internet for the greatest impact on traffic.

As we’ve discussed in previous articles, it’s absolutely necessary that your small business is listed consistently, clearly, and correctly across the internet. In order for your customers to find your store (or at least obtain your contact info if you work from a private address), they must be able to find your business listing on every search engine. If some of your customers use a search engine other than Google (and trust us, it’s guaranteed some will), a different local listing will appear by your name. So as you can see, you only make sure your listing is correct on Google, you’re going to run into some problems down the road. In this post, we’ll talk about the “3 C’s” of your local listing: Consistency, Clarity, and Correctness.

Make sure your small business’s SEO business listing is consistent.

Have you changed storefronts? Has your address changed in the last year or so? Did you just lease a new office? If you have, then you’re going to want to make sure that your new address is listed everywhere. You might change the address on one listing, while leaving another listing with the old address. And, unfortunately, if you start confusing the search engines with multiple addresses under the same business, you run the risk of hurting your rankings. This isn’t to say that you can’t have multiple addresses under the same business listing, however: If you run a business with three locations in your local city, you can specify this in your Google Places for Business page and make sure that all of your stores will be found.

So before you post your SEO business listing, make sure that:

  • You’ve gone through the proper channels to make sure that your business has an address listed.
  • That the current addresses are listed across a number of sites.
  • That your address is hidden properly if you need to hide it. Make sure it is hidden across all listings if this is the case!

An SEO Business Listing must be clear and easy to understand.

You’ve probably seen it before: A restaurant has a description on Yelp or Google, trying to entice customers with their eclectic menu and exciting happy hour. But the listing is full of gibberish, words are misspelled, and random nouns are capitalized because… well, who knows why? All of this takes away not only from the professionalism of the company, but from the ease of reading as well. Customers are less likely to visit your establishment if they can’t decipher what you’re trying to tell them. Therefore, you have to ensure that your business listing is clear and concise. Tell your customers that you have a great happy hour, and tell them that you’ve been in business since 1983 and have the best burgers in town—but you don’t need to list your whole menu and ramble on about every little detail of the atmosphere. Let your customers become interested through your description and find out for themselves how great you are when they visit.

Before you let your listing go live, be sure to do the following:

  • Check to see if your listing is too long. You might be interested in sharing every detail of your business, but your customers just want pertinent information.
  • Make sure you’re clear in your listing: Is everything spelled correctly? Have you clearly stated where your establishment is and what it provides for its customers or clients?
  • List all the information you’d want to see when you search for a service. Hours of operation, address, phone number, website, email, and a few sentences about how wonderful you are should all suffice.

Above all, make sure your SEO business listing is correct.

You can have your address listed across all major directories and listings, and you can write the best description in the world for your company—but if you have incorrect some information hidden in there, it’s all for naught. And, even worse, fixing an error of this magnitude is a pain. Before you press “submit” on any of your listing forms, make sure that you list all your most important information correctly. A great tip is to make a list before you start. What do you think is most important for your customers to know? Make sure to include it on you listing. If something can’t actually be listed, make sure that you provide a phone number or another way of contacting you so that customers can still get a hold of you if they have questions.

Before you press submit on your business SEO listing, make sure:

  • You’ve made a list of all the information you want to include for your business.
  • You’ve spelled everything correctly and included your most recent company info.
  • You’ve filled out complete information and no partial addresses, phone numbers, or business hours!

With these tips, you should be able to create well-rounded, effective, and helpful SEO business listings. Your customers want and need accurate information—and as a small business owner, it’s your job to make sure they get it. Your accurate listings will also make sure that your site (or at least your Google Places for Business page, if you don’t have a website) ranks higher in searches. You can’t go wrong with these strategies!

As always, if you’re simply too busy to manage writing content, listing your sites across the internet, or updating your website/Google Places for Business page, you can ask Internet Local Listings for assistance. We have over 50 years of combined experience in the SEO industry and would be happy to help you with whatever services you need. From social media marketing to building you a custom website, we have the skills and expertise necessary to get your small business site visible on the internet. Call or fill out a contact form today for more information on your services—or feel free to start building your own SEO business listing using these tips! Be sure to subscribe for more updates.

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How to Find the Best SEO Services for Small Business

seo services for small business
Even if you’re a company with two employees, you can afford effective SEO services for a small business.

If you’ve found your way to our blog, you’re probably doing research on how to find the best SEO services for small business. Chances are that you’re a small business owner yourself—or maybe family or friends are local business owners. Whatever the case may be, you’ve come to the right place. Internet Local Listings is an SEO company with over fifty years of combined experience in the internet marketing industry. And throughout the years, we’ve helped small businesses just like yours increase traffic to their websites.

Before you invest in an internet marketing company, there are a few things you should consider. At Internet Local Listings, we’d be honored to have the chance to show you just how we can help your company be seen online. But how do you know you’re choosing the best SEO services for a small business?

Must-Have SEO Services for Small Business

The company will get you listed across the internet. One of the most important things for a small business is to be found in local listings and directories. This means that your company name should pop up in places like Yahoo listings, Manta, Whitepages, Brownbook, and so on. The more places your company name, address, and phone number appear, the better chance your customers have to find you no matter which directory they choose to use. Think of it as the new way to use the yellow pages.

You’re being provided with a social media platform to reach your customers. In this day and age, everyone is on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a number of other social media sites. If you don’t have a strong social media presence online, you’re missing out on an opportunity to connect with customers—and you’re probably losing sales, too. A good SEO company will build social media platforms tailored to your company so that your customers and find and interact with you online.

You’re seeing fresh content and updates. If your company offers custom-created content for you, it should be updated on a regular basis. Not all websites have blogs, however, and if this is the case for your small business, you should at least make sure that your website is up-to-date and your social media sites are serving as a mode of timely communication with your customers.

The company offers a website package. A company offering custom-tailored SEO services for small businesses should have a website option. Many small business owners don’t know how to build a site, much less have time to update it regularly. Internet marketing companies need to understand this to be able to cater to a small business’s needs. Be wary of the SEO service that doesn’t work with you to make sure you have a great website.

The company doesn’t promise the moon and stars. This sounds negative, but it really isn’t. SEO is a complicated business— and because of this, many small business owners don’t understand the ins and outs of the industry. And that’s fine. After all, that’s why you’re hiring the pros! However, it’s important that you arm yourself with basic knowledge of how the marketing process should work. It’ll save you the heartache of partnering with people who don’t understand how to work with a small business, or worse, a company that promises to deliver everything when really, there’s no magic formula to get everything working in a short amount of time. Plus, it will instill realistic expectations and the patience you need in order to work with the pros so that they can get the results you’re looking for.

The long and short of it is, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. You can’t expect results that blow your competition out of the water overnight. It’s simply impossible to pull off!

How to Know if You’re Working with an Honest SEO Company

Now that you know what the best SEO services for small business should offer, how do you know if the company you’re working with is being honest and upfront about your account? How do you know if you’re investing in a successful long-term plan, or if you’re being taken for a ride?

An honest SEO company will get you listed in local directories immediately and then go to work on other marketing services—blogging, building a site, setting up a social media platform, etc. Ranking will come in time. An SEO company can set everything up the way Google likes, but Google will take its sweet time combing through data and reorganizing search results. You will see your hard work pay off in a first-page ranking—but it takes time.

That being said, if your SEO company promises to get you ranking in 30 days for any keyword, you can bet your bottom dollar that you’re going to be sorely disappointed. At Internet Local Listings, we can get you ranking in 60 days or less for two keywords—and sometimes more! Even though this might sound paltry to a small business owner who has never invested in SEO, this is a realistic and effective goal. Ranking for only two keywords at Internet Local Listings, we’re confident that we can get you real results you can see in a reasonable amount of time.

An honest SEO company will also tell you if things aren’t working out as planned. At this juncture, you can work together with the SEO service to tweak keywords, or you might choose to find other ways of getting your name out there. With high-competition industries it can take a bit more legwork, but you will still see results if you stick with it. There’s no magic formula to success, so you have to be flexible and think long-term for the best results! A dishonest company will not want to put the time in to work with you on these things. Don’t let this happen to you.

Choose Internet Local Listings for SEO Services for Small Business!

Whether you’re looking for a simple small business SEO package or you’d like something a little more in-depth, we have it all at Internet Local Listings. We hope you enjoyed this post, and we would be honored to take care of your small business’s marketing needs. Simply fill out the contact form or give us a call at (888) 770-3950! See how our affordable SEO services for small business can help you.