If you are a website
owner who wants to get the best out of SEO, you need
to understand that the timing of your SEO strategies and exercises is
just as important as the strategies or exercises themselves.
Whether you are doing a
website launch or redesign, the best time to
start doing SEO is before you release it to search engines for indexing
and ranking. In other words, SEO work and website design
should start at the same time.
Some aspects of SEO are unique to a new website, some are unique to
redesigned a website and others are common to both cases. Nik Chaykovskiy, the expert of
Digital Services explains the features of doing SEO for various purposes.
SEO For New Websites
For new websites, SEO
should run concurrently with web design and user
experience (UX). This means, the SEO strategy will determine the kind
of content that will be used and where it will be placed on
the website. Success in SEO is, thus, a result of the effort put
towards intertwining web design, UX, and SEO. Starting SEO during
the web design process accelerates the results of SEO.
However, this has
another implication to your business: your UX and
web design experts must understand SEO and your SEO guys must understand
UX and web design. These experts might need training in four
critical areas (design, UX, front end development, and SEO). But the
effort is definitely worthwhile. It’ll be easier to brainstorm and
the chances of the new website being successful are significantly
SEO Tips For Website Redesign
If you’ve already
launched your site, the best thing to start with is
an SEO audit. An SEO audit helps you to know your SEO strengths, such
as the pages that are ranked highly by search engines. You also
know what SEO aspects make the page perform well so that you can
maintain/preserve or replicate those competencies as you redesign
Also important during
website redesign is having a 301 redirect plan.
As the old URLs are being changed, the redesign team should carefully
redirect traffic to the new URLs so that traffic to the site
is not lost once the redesigned website is fully functional. It would
be, and has been for a few businesses, lethal for the business
if this SEO aspect is forgotten. Imagine what would happen if your
site’s visitors were greeted by a “404 – Page Not Found” error when
they tried accessing your site’s webpages.
SEO Is An Ongoing Activity
For both new websites
and redesigned ones, SEO is an ongoing activity.
In today’s fast-paced technological atmosphere, most of the SEO aspects
change within short time spans. At one time you’ll need to
install an SEO plugging and at another time formulate your content
according to the current trend. Failure to roll with the SEO
trends would be a definite death of the business, especially if sales
heavily rely on digital marketing.
Know the right SEO steps
to take now to make your SEO strategy and
website more successful. If your site is already running, engage an SEO
professional and make sure a thorough SEO audit is done. This
is the best way to know what actions best suit your website with regard
to SEO success. And if you are planning on building a new site,
involve your SEO team right from the start. SEO done during the early
stages of website development helps to avoid SEO mishaps in the
structure of the site that could cost you time and money in the future.
it has become a common perspective that as long as you have good
content, the rest will take care of itself. It is true that SEO and
Content marketing are inextricably linked good content is necessary
for SEO. However, for a successful optimization campaign, you will need
much more than just good content.
The Customer Success Manager of
Digital Services, Nik Chaykovskiy explains why quality content is not enough for running SEO efficiently.
In theory, the idea is
accurate. All search engines strive to provide
their users’ base with the best content and so they have algorithms
that rank good content higher. By producing more content, you can
have more indexable topics which will cover many search requests.
Furthermore, as long as the content is good, more users will visit
On the other hand, if
you have no content at all, you do not stand
a chance of having efficient SEO. If the material is poor and not
trustworthy, your results will be similar. For your content to be good,
it has to meet a variety of standards to prove it is good. This ranges
from uniqueness to practicality, relevance and entertainment.
Let’s assume that your
content is good and that you produce content
on a regular basis. This content is futile so long as it is not
visible. If your users are not aware about your work, then they cannot
read or view it. With the advances of Google, it still relies on the
feedback of its users to help ranking the quality of content. Thus,
if these users cannot view your work, Google cannot judge the quality of
Much of this feedback
is usually provided through shares and links,
which Google considers as trustworthy. By earning lots of links, you
can be seen as a good source of content and as a result, you will
rise in the search rankings. However, these links are not earned by good
content only. You have to take initiative by promoting and
syndicating your links, sometimes by building some manual links as well.
Having good content on
your site is a good start. However, you should
never neglect the technical factors that are necessary for your site to
rank highly in search engine results. Most template sites, like
WordPress and Wix come equipped with a technical structure which makes
it easier to be indexed by a search engine.
This, however, is not
enough too. You will need to create Meta data
and title tags, improve the security of your site, update your
robits.txt file, create and update a sitemap and increase the speed of
your site if you want your site to be in fighting shape.
You can only tap into
the true power of content if you are able to
integrate it with a variety of other marketing strategies. For instance,
you can use email marketing and social media marketing to the
benefit of your content. By using these strategies in conjunction with
each other, you stand the better chance to take the most of your
content. SEO is a complex strategy. It cannot be boiled down to a single
The amount of funds you
should invest in SEO varies because of the prices
offered by agencies. However, the practice shows that the high cost of
services not always guarantees the success of your SEO
campaign. Does an increased amount of initial investments correspond
with the increase of the benefits gained? Is there a certain
threshold for businesses necessary to reach to reap the rewards?
Nik Chaykovskiy, the leading expert of Digital Services explains what factors influence the return on investments in SEO.
The amount of time and
money spent on a strategy affect volume and
quantity. The compounding payoff is greatly affected by variations of
the following elements. On this account, increasing the input of
one or a few of these factors increases the rate of growth of the
Quantity is the amount of work done on a regular basis. Many
quality links increase domain authority, while quality content increases the pages one has in Google’s index.
Quality depends on the amount of time dedicated to the work
done. Higher authoritative sources create more value hosting a single link than lower ranking sources hosting several links.
Time. Returns from an investment are not instantaneous as they are a snowball over time.
Partial investments in a
business that exists in a market with
many competing sites would not yield as much results as it would have
made out of the company, that had been invested for the development
of content marketing strategy. However, there are alternatives that
help in increasing site’s visibility with the minimal budget
and investment requirements. A company can spread the content within a
certain market niche or a local geographic area where it
optimizes content for the target audience found in these segments. The
result will be an increase in the relevance of content provided.
Another point of
consideration is the level of quality that content
needs to satisfy before being released. Poorly written content or thin
content can trigger the Panda penalty that will significantly
drop ranking on the search queue. It poses a threat to the brand’s
reputation and visitor traffic to the website as well as any
possible relationships with publishers who aid in link building. The
minimum investment ensures the quality and potential for
growth as businesses level is up to the competition. Ranking higher
than competitors will require a content strategy that surpasses
competitors and relies on the knowledge of the best practices in content
Complexity of Aspects
Taking into the account previously discussed points, we can come
up to the following conclusions:
Business gains greater returns if the amount of initial investments
was increased as compared to one-o-one exchanges
Competition limits the visibility for small investments, but not
entirely making it impossible
Achieving a certain threshold of quality for content and link building
ensures that businesses gains the momentum
In conclusion, SEO is not an all-or-nothing strategy that demands an
entire marketing strategy to see significant effect. Investing time and effort helps in achieving quality. Finally, the more
investments one makes, the higher results he/she yields. Smaller investments are also effective if invested in the right way.
Many times when Google discharges information for its procedures,
which regulates the ranking of websites, I would advise clients to make no amendments to anything. Our company has never been
involved in search engine junk tactics like the creation of insignificant low-quality incoming website links. Creating exclusive
content and quality links have always been our motivation.
Still, we deal with the cases that when clients come to us telling that after the changes of Google released, like the Penguin 2.1 appraise, it affected their rankings. Clients usually think that it relates to some difficulties with their success process, but we discover most of them had bad incoming links created by the previous SEO company they were working with.
Incoming links are an
essential element for determining websites
ranking in Google. Earlier, a website with the highest number of
incoming links would rank higher than a competing website
with lower backlinks. Firms would create lots of incoming links
regardless of their quality or if they made any sense since Google
didn’t care about any relationships between the links and the websites.
Google then revolutionized. Panda was first introduced in
early 2011, then Penguin was released later in 2012. All of a sudden,
the quality of incoming links took over the quantity, at the
same time, the firms that got involved in the collection of a large
number of backlinks were getting involved in wrong techniques
during the creation of content. According to Semalt expert Andrew Dyhan,
an online marketing specialist, what Panda has started was
finished by the Penguin. Many websites witnessed a drastic fall in
their rankings, revenue, and traffic, and this is where one of
our clients was caught up. This was a great astonishment for the
affected webmasters whose sites got hit.
The bad incoming links
don’t show the harmless effect until they
hurt a great deal someday. Clients don’t realize the urgency of getting
rid of backlinks before we show them the analysis of their
account of the client. If on the first stages, removing bad links is
not very time-consuming and expensive, later when the loss will
bad enough, removal of incoming bad links became the urgent priority
that will make you ready to any amount in. We immediately
witness positive output once we embarked on bad links removal, but
unfortunately, some clients tend to be willing to get the immediate
In order to maintain
clients, any SEO firm should immediately look
out for bad links and eliminate them. Currently, we reveal to potential
customers regarding removal of bad links and if obligatory,
we advise them to invest in it for an initial couple of words. The
greater lesson is to have an understanding of where Google is headed
and drive clients towards that route. For the SEO customers, it is no
longer an option to be up to date with the trend in order to
succeed. Also, abandoning the necessity to get assistance from the SEO
firm very likely will make your competitor a winner. Therefore,
following up with professionals is important.
optimization (SEO) experts understand the importance of
link building. Essentially, link building is one of the cornerstones of
effective SEO strategy. This is because Google’s algorithm
relies a lot on inbound links to determine website’s authority that
influences organic search rankings.
Links are a critical factor in increasing brand visibility and referral traffic. In spite of this, a recent survey indicates that only 62 percent of all marketers are engaged in link building. So, why some marketers avoid pursuing this strategy? Andrew Dyhan, the Customer Success Manager of Digital Services explains the factors, which make link building a critical aspect of SEO.
Fear of Google
penalization is the primary reason why many marketers
avoid building links. It is quite fair, however, in most cases, this
threat is overrated. Google’s penalization bases on Google’s Penguin
update. According to this update, if you build links that violate
Google’s terms of service, the search engine will respond in a
form of burying your website in a deep sea of content where users won’t
find you. This translates into less traffic and low rankings.
So, what are the unhealthy links that earn you penalties?
Links from bad sites
low-authority sources and spammy sites are the first type
of links you want to avoid. At the most basic level, the value of a link
is determined by the authority of the site it emanated from.
In other words, if you source links from high authority sites, you
command more authority on your site. On the other hand, if you
build links from a questionable or spammy site, the authority of your
domain takes a beating.
Contextually inappropriate links
Unlike the past,
Google’s algorithms are advanced enough to detect
how content fits the needs of the audience and the natural use of
language. In simple words, if you link to content that has nothing
to do with the piece, Google will flag you down and punish you for
trying to mislead users.
Initially, it was common
practice to include keywords in the anchor
text of your links. Today, doing that might get you penalized by Google
because SEO enthusiasts started abusing the practice by stuffing
keywords into links where they did not belong. In spite of this, you
can still optimize your anchor text, however, it must be
contextually appropriate for the link.
Spammy links include
posting comments on a forum with just a link
to your website and no other content. Why? Because the main goal of such
a link is to drive traffic to your site without giving any
value to readers. In addition, Google can penalize you if you place
links on the same pages of the site repeatedly.
Links from schemes
Any link you build with
the sole intention of driving traffic to
your site without giving the user any valuable information is suspect
and subject to Google penalties. There are a number of such
links including reciprocal links and link wheels where the intention is
to pass authority to sites within the wheel. To find out
what Google considers as link schemes, read their article on the subject
to avoid getting in trouble with the search engine.
Other techniques of manipulating site rankings
Normally, Google’s main
aim is to reduce the possibility of SEO
enthusiasts manipulating their site rankings using links. As long as
you are using links in a way that is beneficial to users, there
is nothing to worry about. However, if you are trying to use underhand
methods to drive traffic and manipulate rankings, you are
setting yourself up for Google’s penalization on your site.
Ultimately, an official Google penalty is a manual action similar to blacklisting. This is what strikes fear in every webmaster but most of the time, Google’s heavy hand only comes down on intentional offenders. However, webmasters often panic and think they have been penalized when their site experience a drop in traffic. But if you avoid running afoul of Google’s mode of operation or work with the specialized SEO services provider, who technically track your website’s performance, you will have nothing to worry about.
Content is the foundation of digital marketing success, no matter the channel on which that content appears.
Content determines the businesses social media fans and followers choose to associate with, how visitors
choose to engage with your website, and for which keywords search engines find your site relevant.
If you’re like most small business owners, you probably have no trouble talking to friends, relatives,
business partners, and prospective customers about your business: the kinds of people you help, the pride
you take in your work, what customers value about your business, and so on.
But it’s tough to find time to write about your business. It can be a struggle to find the exact right words
to describe your business to the World Wide Web.
Fear not! Your website content doesn’t need to be perfect. In fact, it will appear more authentic to your
customers—and probably be more useful to them—if it isn’t filled with refined marketing language, and
actually answers their questions about your company’s products or services.
With that in mind, here are some ideas to get you started with creating content:
What are the top things users look for?
Google and Bing both provide a very simple method for researching the key phrases that your prospective
customers are interested in: Simply visit either search engine’s homepage and perform a search. Prior to hitting
“return” on your keyboard, take a look at the list of terms related to the one you typed in.
These are generally the most popular words or phrases related to what you typed. Make a list of these terms
and be sure to target a page on your website about each one. Repeat this process several times to develop a
comprehensive list of subjects to start your content process.
Research keywords using Google Trends
Google Trends can provide you with a few more specifics around the relative search volume of each keyphrase
that Google or Bing suggests. You can even zoom in to your specific geographic area to see just how popular
certain phrases are in your state, metro area, or in some cases even your city. Google will also suggest
even more key phrases related to these phrases next to the geographic overlay, so don’t ignore these.
What are the top questions your customers ask you?
This is a great tip from Aaron Weiche of Spyder Trap Marketing.
If customers are asking you the same questions over and over again offline, they probably have the same
questions online as well—and may even type these questions directly into a search engine.
Each of your top questions should have a full page devoted to it to maximize your ranking potential for each question.
What’s unique about the areas you serve?
From an SEO standpoint, it’s a best practice to create a page for each town, county, or region that you serve.
For example, if you’re a suburban plumber looking for business in the major city in your metro area, you
could talk about the history of the sewage and water system of that market on its own page, highlight
subdivisions or condo buildings that have a higher incidence of plumbing issues, or list lawsuits
that have occurred over faulty pipes in that market. The more local the “scent” of a given page, the
more likely Google and Bing are to rank that page.
Case studies of previous projects
You can also start a little bit closer to home, so to speak, and feature projects you’ve worked on
in a particular market. Be as explicit as you can about the services you performed, or how your
products helped the customers achieve their goals. Case studies are one of the things that make
your business unique, so stay away from using canned marketing-speak, and focus on telling stories
that will help future customers relate to previous ones.
Customer interviews and transcriptions
The best way to help future customers relate to previous customers is through video interviews and testimonials.
In the era of smartphones, it’s super-simple to film and upload video interviews to YouTube and embed them
on your website. The personality of your clients and customers will really shine through the video.
Make sure you include a text transcript of your conversation below the video so that you get keyword
“credit” from the search engines also.
For more information on writing great content that is compelling to both humans and search engines,
see Moz’s complete Beginner’s Guide to SEO.
Many local business owners are surprised with the information that appears when they (and their customers) come
across their business listings at Google and Bing. Often, incorrect or out-of-date information shows up with
no explanation about where it comes from.
In some cases, even business owners who have already claimed their listings at major search engines like Google
and Bing continue to see improper information displayed about their businesses, which understandably just adds
to their frustration.
The reason this happens is that these search giants pull in business information from a variety of other sources,
in addition to maintaining their own business databases. They both do the best they can to match the data that
comes in from these other sources with what they have in their own index, but sometimes that doesn’t happen properly.
If the information is different enough from the correct listing, search engines might think it’s a different
business—or they might even feel that the wrong information appears so many times in the other places from
which they get their data that the info might actually be “right.”
The sources that Google and Bing pull information from vary from country to country. Each has its own set of
important players, known as data aggregators.
These aggregators have typically accumulated their business databases by scanning and transcribing things
like phone records, utility records, business registration websites, and printed yellow pages directories.
Google also crawls the web looking for business information wherever it can find it: online yellow pages directories,
review sites, local newspaper sites, and blogs. Many of these sources get their information from the same aggregators
that Google does—just one more reason you need to make sure your business information is correct at those handful
of primary providers in your country. If your data is wrong at those aggregators, it’s likely to be wrong in many
places across the web, including Google.
The data aggregators of the future
Factual is a relatively new player on the scene; they were hardly on anyone’s radar
less than two years ago.
And yet today, if you visit their homepage, you see a who’s who of local
search portals, including Yelp, Bing, and TripAdvisor. It’s clear they’re a force to be reckoned with, especially globally.
Even for experts, the local search ecosystem is incredibly confusing! But hopefully browsing the local search ecosystem
graphic relevant to your country will give you a better understanding of how these local data sites fit together,
and identify places to clean up incorrect listing information you might not otherwise have known about.
Every business that competes in a local market and who competes for the
display of localized results in SERPs will likely find the need to
conduct a local SEO audit at some point. Whether you’ve hired an SEO in
the past or not, the best way to beat the competition is to know where
you stand and what you need to fix, and then develop a plan to win based
on the competitive landscape.
While this may seem like a daunting task, the good news is that you can
do this for your business or your client using this Ultimate Local SEO
guide was created as a complete checklist and will show you what areas
you should focus on, what needs to be optimized, and what you need to do
to fix any problems you encounter. To make things easier, I have also
included many additional resources for further reading on the topics
In this guide I am going to cover the top areas we review for clients
who either want to know how they can improve or the ones that need a
local SEO audit. To make it easier I have included detailed explanations
of the topics and an Excel template you can use to conduct the audit.
Also since the Pigeon update, local search has started to weigh organic
factors more heavily so I have included them in this audit. However, if
after you have read this you’re looking for an even deeper audit for
Organic SEO, you should also check out Steve Webb’s article, ”
How to Perform the World’s Greatest SEO Audit.”
Who is this guide for?
This guide is intended for those businesses that already have an
existing Google My Business page. It’s also mostly geared towards brick
and mortar stores. If you don’t have a public address and you’re a
service area business, you can ignore the parts where I mention
publishing your physical address. If you don’t have a listing setup
already, it’s a little bit harder to audit. That being said, new
businesses can use this as a road map.
What we won’t cover
The local algorithm is complicated and ever evolving. Although we can
look at considerations such as proximity to similar businesses or
driving directions requests, I have decided to not include these since
we have limited control over them. This audit mainly covers the items
the website owner is in direct control over.
A little background
Being ready and willing to adopt change in online marketing is an
important factor in the path of success. Search changes and you have to
be ready to change with it. The good news is that if you’re constantly
trying to do the right thing while be the least imperfect, your results
will only get better with updates.
Some goons will always try to cheat the systems for a quick win, but
they will get caught and penalized eventually. However, if you stick
with the right path you can sleep easier at night knowing you don’t have
to worry about penalties.
But why are audits so important?
At my company we have found through a lot of trial and error that we
can provide the best results for our clients when we start a project off
with a complete and full understanding of the project as opposed to
just bits and pieces. If we have a complete snapshot of their SEO
efforts along with their competition we can create a plan that is going
to be much more effective and sustainable.
We now live in a world where marketers not only need to be forward
thinking with their strategies but they must also evaluate and consider
the work done by prior employees and SEOs who have worked on the website
in the past. If you don’t know what potential damage has been done, how
could you possibly be sure your efforts will help your client long
Given the impact and potential severity of penalties, it’s
irresponsible to ignore this or participate in activities that can harm
the client in the long run. Again, sadly, this is a lesson I have
learned the hard way.
What aspects does this local SEO audit cover?
Knowing what to include in your audit is a great first step. We have
broken our audit down into several different categories we find to be
essential to local SEO success. They are:
1) Google My Business page audit
2) Website & landing page audit
3) Citation analysis
4) Organic link & penalty analysis
5) Review analysis
6) Social analysis
7) Competition analysis
8) Ongoing strategy
Analyzing all of these factors will allow you to develop a strategy
with a much better picture of the major problems and what you’re up
against as far as the competition is concerned. If you don’t have the
full picture with all of the details, then you might uncover more
Before we get started, a disclaimer
In this guide I am going to try to break things down to make it easy
for beginners and advanced users. That being said, it’s a wise idea to
seek advice or read more about a topic if you don’t quite understand it.
If something is over your head, please don’t hesitate to reach out for
clarification. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
How to use this guide for your local SEO audit
This guide is broken up into two parts including this post and a
spreadsheet. The written part that you are reading now will also
this spreadsheet which
will allow you to collect pertinent client intake information, record
problems, and serve as an easy reference as to what your ultimate goal
is for each of the items.
To use the spreadsheet you can click the link and then go to File > Make A Copy.
spreadsheet includes five tabs that each serve a different purpose. They are:
Current info – This tab allows you to record the information
the customer submits and compare it against the Google My Business
information you find. It also allows you to record your notes for any
proposed changes. This will help you when it comes time to report on
Questions to ask – These are some basic questions you can ask your clients up front that may save a lot of time in the long run.
Competitor information – You can use this tab to track your competitors and compare your metrics side by side.
Top 50 citations audit – This is the list of the top 50 citation sources as provided by Whitespark.
Audit steps – For the more advanced user I took everything in
this long document and condensed it to this easy to use spreadsheet with
an audit checklist and some small notes on what you’re checking for.
Get your audit shoes on. Now let’s get started
Step 1: Gather the facts
Whether you’re conducting this audit for a client or your own business
it’s important to start off with the right information. If clients fill
out this information properly, you can save a lot of time and also help
identify major issues right off the bat. Not only can we help identify
some of the common local SEO issues like inconsistent NAP with this
information, we can also have it recorded in the spreadsheet I mentioned
Since this is an audit, the spreadsheet has information to include the
current information and a column for proposed changes for the client.
Later, these will be used as action items.
The first tab in this spreadsheet has everything we need to get started
under the company information tab. This includes all of the basic
information we will need to be successful.
This information should be provided by the client up front so that we
can compare it to the information already existing on the web.
You can use the audit spreadsheet and enter this under the “Provided Information” column. This will help us identify problems easily as we collect more information.
The basic information we will need to get started will include NAP
information and other items. A sample of this can be seen below:
Questions to ask up front
Once we have the basic company information we can also ask some
questions. Keep in mind that the goal here is to be the least imperfect.
While some of these factors are more important than others, it’s always
good to do more and have a better understanding of the potential issues
rather than taking shortcuts. Shortcuts will just create more work
Feel free to edit the spreadsheet and add more questions to your copy based on your experience.
1) Have you ever been penalized or think you may have been? The
client should have a good idea if they were penalized in the past.
2) Have you ever hired anyone to build citations for you? If they
hired anyone to build citations for them they should have some
documentation which will make the citation audit portion of the audit
3) Have you ever hired an SEO company to work with you? If they
hired an SEO in the past it’s important to check any work they completed
4) Have you ever hired anyone to build links for you? If they have
hired anyone in the past to build links they will hopefully have
documentation you can review. If you see bad links you know you will
have your work cut out for you.
5) What are the primary keywords you want to rank for? Knowing
what the client wants and developing a strategy based off this is
essential to your local SEO success.
6) Have you ever used another business name in the past? Companies
that used a different name or that were acquired can lead to NAP
7) Is your business address a PO Box? PO Boxes and UPS boxes are a
no no. It’s good to know this up front before you get started.
8) Is your phone number a land line? Some Local SEOs claim that
landlines may provide some benefit. Regardless it’s good to know where
the phone number is registered.
9) Do other websites 301 redirect to your website? If other
websites redirect to their domain you may need to do an analysis on
these domains as well. Specifically for penalty evaluation.
10) Did you ever previously use call tracking numbers? Previously
used call tracking numbers can be a nightmare as far as local SEO is
concerned. If a client previously used call tracking numbers you will
want to search for these when we get to the citation portion of this
document. Cleaning up wrong phone numbers, including tracking numbers,
in the local ecosystem is essential to your local success.
Local SEO audit phase 1: Google My Business page
Google My Business Dashboard
has a lot of useful information. Although I reference the Google
Guidelines below, be sure to check them often. Google does change these
sometimes and you won’t really get any official notice. This happened
rather recently when they started allowing descriptive words in the
business name. Keep in mind that if any changes were recently made to
your Google My Business page they may not show in the live version. It
may take up to three days for these to show in the search results.
information collected below should be put in the “Current Info” tab on
the spreadsheet under the Google My Business Information. This will also
help us identify discrepancies right away when we look at the
1. Locate the proper Google My Business page we should be working with
We can’t really get started with an audit unless we know the proper
page we’re working this. Usually if a client hires you they already have
How to do this: If your client already has a Google My Business login, and log in to their dashboard
using the proper credentials. In the back end of the dashboard it
should show the businesses associated with this account. Copy this URL
and confirm with the business owner that this is the page they intend to
use. If it’s not their primary one we will correct this a bit later
Goal: We want to find and record the proper Google My Business URL in our Local SEO Audit Spreadsheet.
2. Find and destroy duplicate pages
Editor’s Note: Since the publication of this post,
Google has shut down Mapmaker. For a current list of best practices for
managing duplicate GMB listings, read: https://moz.com/blog/delete-gmb-listing.
Duplicate Google My Business listings can be one of the greatest threats to any local SEO campaign.
How to: There are several ways to find possible
duplicate pages but I have found the easiest way is to use Google
MapMaker. To do this log in to your Google account and visit
http://www.google.com/mapmaker or https://plus.google.com/local.
From this page you can search the business phone number such as
555-555-5555 or the business names. If you see multiple listings you
didn’t know about, a major priority is to record those URLs and delete
I personally see a lot of issues when dealing with attorneys where each
attorney has their own profile or in the case where an office has
moved. There should only be one listing and it should be 100% correct.
Goal: Make sure there are no duplicate listings. Kill any duplicates.
3. Ensure that the local listing is not penalized (IMPORTANT!)
Figuring out Google penalties in the local landscape is not usually a
walk in the park. In fact there are a lot of variables to consider and
now this is a bigger deal post Pigeon as more organic signals are
involved. We will look at other types of penalties later in this guide.
Unlike organic penalties Google does not notify businesses of local
penalties unless your account is suspended with a big red warning on the
back end of your My Business page.
According to Phil Rozek from Local Visibility System “My first
must-look-at item is: is the client’s site or Google Places page being
penalized, or at risk of getting penalized?”
How to do this: If your keyword is “Los Angeles personal
injury attorney” then you could search for this keyword on Google Maps
and Google Search results. If your business listing appears on the maps
side in position C for example but then does not appear at all in local
search results performing a normal Google Search, then it’s likely there
is a penalty in place. Sometimes you see listings that are not
suppressed on the maps side but are suppressed on the places side. This
is an easy way to take a look.
Goal: Do your best to determine that the listing is not penalized. If it is consult a penalty expert for further guidance.
4. Is the Google My Business page associated with an email address on the customer’s domain?
In my experience it’s best practice to have the login information for
the business under an email address associated with the domain name.
Additionally this ensures that the client has primary control of their
listing. As an example if you run Moz.com and had local listings your
Google My Business login should be firstname.lastname@example.org instead of
email@example.com. This helps associate that you are indeed the
Rumors are flying about Google’s upcoming mobile-friendly update, and
bits of reliable information have come from several sources. My
and I wanted to cut through the noise and bring online marketers a
clearer picture of what’s in store later this month. In this post,
you’ll find our answers to nine key questions about the update.
1. What changes is Google making to its algorithm on April 21st?
Answer: Recently, Google has been rolling out lots of
changes to apps, Google Play, the presentation of mobile SERPS, and some
of the more advanced development guidelines that impact mobile; we
believe that many of these are in preparation for the 4/21 update.
Google has been downplaying some of these changes, and we have no
exclusive advanced knowledge about anything that Google will announce on
4/21, but based on what we have seen and heard recently, here is our
best guess of what is coming in the future (on 4/21 or soon thereafter):
We believe Google will launch a new mobile crawler (probably with an
Android user-agent) that can do a better job of crawling single-page web
apps, Android apps, and maybe even Deep Links in iOS apps. The new
Mobile-Friendly guidelines that launched last month focus on exposing JS
and CSS because Android apps are built in Java, and single-page web
Some example sites that use Responsive Design well in a single-page app architecture are:
Google has also recently been pushing for more feeds from Trusted
Partners, which are a key component of both mobile apps and single-page
web apps since Phantom JS and Prerender IO (and similar technologies)
together essentially generate crawlable feeds for indexing single-page
web apps. We think this increased focus on JS, CSS, and feeds is also
the reason why Google needs the
additional mobile index that Gary Illyes mentioned in his “Meet the Search Engines” interview
at SMX West a couple weeks ago, and why suddenly Google has been
talking about apps as “first class citizens,” as called out by Mariya
Moeva in the title of her SMX West presentation.
A new mobile-only index to go with the new crawler also makes sense
because Google wants to index and rank both app content and deep links
to screens in apps, but it does not necessarily want to figure them into
the desktop algorithm or slow it down with content that should never
rank in a desktop search. We also think that the recent increased focus
on deep links and the announcement from Google about Google Play’s
new automated and manual review process
are related. This announcement indicates, almost definitively, that
Google has built a crawler that is capable of crawling Android apps. We
believe that this new crawler will also be able to index more than one
content rendering (web page or app screen data-set) to one URL/URI and
it will probably will focus more on feeds, schema and sitemaps for its
own efficiency. Most of the native apps that would benefit from deep
linking are driven by data feeds, and crawling the feeds instead of the
apps would give Google the ability to understand the app content,
especially for iOS apps, (which they are still not likely able to
crawl), without having to crawl the app code. Then, it can crawl the
deep-linked web content to validate the app content.
FYI: Garry Illyes mentioned that Google is retiring their
old AJAX indexing instructions, but did not say how they would be replaced, except to specify in a Google+
post that Google would not click links to get more content. Instead,
they would need an OnLoad event to trigger further crawling. These
webmaster instructions for making AJAX crawlable were often relied on as
a way to make single-page web apps crawlable, and we think that feeds
will play a role here, too, as part of the replacement. Relying more
heavily on feeds also makes it easier for Google to scrape data directly
into SERPS, which they have been doing more and more. (See the appendix
of this slide deck,
starting on slide 30, for lots of mobile examples of this change in
play already.) This probably will include the ability to scrape forms
directly into a SERP, à la the form markup for auto-complete that Google just announced.
We are also inclined to believe that the use of the new
“Mobile-Friendly” designation in mobile SERPS may be temporary, as long
as SEOs and webmasters feel incentivized to make their CSS and
“Mobile-Friendly” in the SERP is a bit clunky, and takes up a lot of
space, so Google may decide switch to something else, like the
“slow” tag shown
to the right, originally spotted in testing by Barry Schwartz. In fact,
showing the “Slow” tag might make sense later in the game, after most
webmasters have made the updates, and Google instead needs to create a
more serious and impactful negative incentive for the stragglers. (This
is Barry’s image; we have not actually seen this one yet).
In terms of the Mobile-Friendly announcement, it is surprising that
Google has not focused more on mobile page speed, minimizing redirects
and avoiding mobile-only errors—their historical focus for mobile SEO.
This could be because page speed does not matter as much in the
evaluation of content if Google is getting most of its crawl information
from feeds. Our guess is that things like page speed and load time will
rebound in focus after 4/21. We also think mobile UX indicators that
are currently showing at the bottom of the Google PageSpeed tool (at the
bottom of the “mobile” tab) will play into the new mobile algorithm—we
have actually witnessed Google testing their inclusion in the
Mobile-Friendly tool already, as shown below, and of course, they were
recently added to everyone’s Webmaster Tools reports. It is possible
pages are in the new index as possible at launch.
2. If my site is not mobile-friendly, will this impact my desktop rankings as well?
Answer: On a panel at SMX Munich (2 weeks after SMX
West) Zineb from Google answered ‘no’ without hesitation. We took this
as another indication that the new index is related to a new crawler
and/or a major change to the infrastructure they are using to parse,
index, and evaluate mobile search results but not desktop results. That
said, you should probably take some time soon to make sure that
your site works—at least in a passable way—on mobile devices, just in
case there are eventual desktop repercussions (and because this is a
user experience best practice that can lead to other improvements that are still desktop ranking factors, such as decreasing your bounce rate).
3. How much will mobile rankings be impacted?
Answer: On the same panel at SMX Munich (mentioned
above), Zineb said that this 4/21 change will be bigger than the Panda
and Penguin updates. Again, we think this fits well with an
infrastructure change. It is unclear if all mobile devices will be
impacted in the change or not. The change might be more impactful for
Android devices or might impact Android and iOS devices equally—though
currently we are seeing significant differences between iOS and Android
for some types of search results, with more significant changes
happening on Android than on iOS.
Deep linking is a key distinction between mobile SERPs on the Android
OS and SERPs on iOS (currently, SERPs only display Android app deep
links, and only on Android devices). But there is reason to believe this
gap will be closing. For example, in his recent Moz post and in his
presentation at SMX West, Justin Briggs mentioned that a few sample
iOS deep links were validating in Google’s deep link tool.
This may indicate that iOS apps with deep links will be easier to
surface in the new framework, but it is still possible that won’t make
it into the 4/21 update. It is also unclear whether or not Google will
maintain its stance on tablets being more like desktop experiences than
they are like mobile devices, and what exactly Google is considering
“mobile.” What we can say here, though, is that Android tablets DO
appear to be including the App Pack results, so we think they will
change their stance here, and start to classify tablets as mobile on
Welcome to our newest installment of our educational Next Level
series! In our last episode, Jo Cameron taught you how to whip up intelligent SEO reports
for your clients to deliver impressive, actionable insights. Today, our
friendly neighborhood Training Program Manager, Brian Childs, is here
to show you an easy workflow for targeting multiple keywords with a
single page. Read on and level up!
For those who have taken any of the Moz Training Bootcamps,
you’ll know that we approach keyword research with the goal of
identifying concepts rather than individual keywords. A common term for
this in SEO is “niche keywords.” I think of a “niche” as a set of
related words or concepts that are essentially variants of the same
Let’s pretend my broad subject is: Why are cats jerks?
Some niche topics within this subject are:
Why does my cat keep knocking things off the counter?
Why does my cat destroy my furniture?
Why did I agree to get this cat?
I can then find variants of these niche topics using Keyword Explorer or another tool, looking for the keywords with the best qualities (Difficulty, Search Volume, Opportunity, etc).
By organizing your keyword research in this way, it conceptually aligns with the search logic of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm update.
Once we have niche topics identified for our subject, we then
dive into specific keyword variants to find opportunities where we can
rank. This process is covered in-depth during the Keyword Research Bootcamp class.
Should I optimize my page for multiple keywords?
The answer for most sites is a resounding yes.
If you develop a strategy of optimizing your pages for only one
keyword, this can lead to a couple of issues. For example, if a content
writer feels restricted to one keyword for a page they might develop
very thin content that doesn’t discuss the broader concept in much
useful detail. In turn, the marketing manager may end up spreading
valuable information across multiple pages, which reduces the potential
authority of each page. Your site architecture may then become larger
than necessary, making the search engine less likely to distinguish your
unique value and deliver it into a SERP.
As recent studies
have shown, a single high-ranking page can show up in dozens — if not
hundreds — of SERPs. A good practice is to identify relevant search
queries related to a given topic and then use those queries as your H2
So how do you find niche keyword topics? This is the process I use that relies on a relatively new SERP feature: the “People also ask” boxes.
How to find niche keywords
Step 1: Enter a relevant question into your search engine
Question-format search queries are great because they often generate featured snippets. Featured snippets
are the little boxes that show up at the top of search results, usually
displaying one- to two-sentence answers or a list. Recently, when
featured snippets are displayed, there is commonly another box nearby
showing “People also ask” This second box allows you to peer into the
logic of the search algorithm. It shows you what the search engine
“thinks” are closely related topics.
Step 2: Select the most relevant “People also ask” query
a look at those initial “People also ask” suggestions. They are often
different variants of your query, representing slightly different search
intent. Choose the one that most aligns with the search intent of your
target user. What happens? A new set of three “People also ask”
suggestions will populate at the bottom of the listthat are associated with the first option you chose.
This is why I refer to these as choose-your-own-adventure boxes. With
each selection, you dive deeper into the topic as defined by the search
Step 3: Find suggestions with low-value featured snippets
“People also ask” suggestion is a featured snippet. As you dig deeper
into the topic by selecting one “People also ask” after another, keep an
eye out for featured snippets that are not particularly helpful. This
is the search engine attempting to generate a simple answer to a
question and not quite hitting the mark. These present an opportunity.
Keep track of the ones you think could be improved. In the following
example, we see the Featured Snippet being generated by an article that
doesn’t fully answer the question for an average user.
Step 4: Compile a list of “People also ask” questions
you’ve explored deep into the algorithm’s contextually related results
using the “People also ask” box, make a list of all the questions you
found highly related to your desired topic. I usually just pile these
into an Excel sheet as I find them.
Step 5: Analyze your list of words using a keyword research tool
With a nice list of keywords that you know are generating featured snippets, plug the words into Keyword Explorer
or your preferred keyword research tool. Now just apply your normal
assessment criteria for a keyword (usually a combination of search
volume and competitiveness).
Step 6: Apply the keywords to your page title and heading tags
you’ve narrowed the list to a set of keywords you’d like to target on
the page, have your content team go to work generating relevant,
valuable answers to the questions. Place your target keywords as the
heading tags (H2, H3) and a concise, valuable description immediately
following those headings.