Thursday, January 27, 2011

Top Seven Tips to Get Your Local Listing above Your Competitors

Did you know that in 2008, 82% of local searches online resulted in a phone call, site view, in store visit or immediate purchase? This has no doubt increased along with the popularity of local listings and highlights the need for your local listing to be in that prime position – above your main competitors.

Assuming you already have a Google Local listing, I have outlined seven things you can do to help get yours ranking above your competitors:

1. Complete your local listing profiles fully by adding business information, website, photos, You Tube videos, etc. Google is all about the user experience and the more complete you’re listing, the more helpful it looks to them.

2. Use your keywords several times in your local listings and be descriptive. The description section is the area where you can provide the most content about your business in your listing, so make it count! Be descriptive and give people a reason to choose you over your competitors.

3. Use a physical address instead of PO boxes if possible. This is especially important now that Google is currently blocking listings with PO Box addresses.

4. Don’t submit your listing more than once. Duplicate entries can get you in trouble.

5. Choose the categories for your listing wisely. The Google Local Business Center has so many category options to choose that it isn’t shouldn’t be too hard to find the one that best suit your products and services.

6. Get your valued customers writing reviews? In some cases, the number of reviews your listing has will determine if your listing is on the first or second page of the results.

7. Get social. Properly constructed social media profiles, like Twitter and Facebook, can be picked up as citations for your listing if they include your business name, address, and phone number.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Five Google Webmaster Tweaks to Optimize Your Rankings

With the ever expanding feature set of Google’s Webmaster Tools, it’s easy to miss some of the more essential settings and tools that can help you achieve top rankings.

In this post, I’ll cover 5 tips which will give your site the best chance of ranking well.

1. Upload Your XML Sitemap

Helps: Ensure your website is indexed

Where to find: Site configuration > Sitemaps

Uploading an XML Sitemap provides Google with a map of your website which helps them crawl your content and maximize the number of URLs which are included in their index. This is especially important for larger sites that have a large number of brand and product pages.

2. Set Your Geographic Target

Helps: Improve your position in local search results

Where to find: Site configuration > Settings

Setting your geographic target helps Google to associate your website with the particular region you are targeting. We have seen some strong positive ranking improvements for our clients after enabling this setting, so ensure it is correct for your website.

3. Look at Google’s HTML Suggestions

Helps: Improve your position in search results

Where to find: Diagnostics > HTML Suggestions

Google’s HTML suggestions include any issues that Google found when they were crawling your website. These can includes issues with duplicate or missing META information as well as any un-indexable content on your website. If Google finds any issues with your website, click on each to learn more and correct any problems.

4. Optimize Your Sitelinks

Helps: Improve click-through to core pages

Where to find: Site configuration > Sitelinks

Sitelinks are links to a site’s interior pages that can be shown in search results. Google automatically generates these links for some websites; however these can be modified using webmaster tools.

If your website is showing Sitelinks, remove any non important pages from the list.

5. Monitor Your Page Loading Times

Helps: Improve rankings and customer satisfaction

Where to find: Labs > Site performance

With Google using page speed as a ranking factor, it’s also a good idea to make sure your pages are loading as fast as possible. Use this tool to monitor the load time of pages on your website and optimize this when possible.

The Essential List of Free Content Related SEO Tools

Content is King in SEO – we all know its true, but many people still fall into the trap of focusing on everything else – except their content!

It’s easy to get distracted with your offsite SEO strategies and forget the fundamental rule of SEO – create valuable relevant unique content. So to help you research, create and analyze your content, I’ve created this list of essential free content SEO tools.

Keyword Research

Keyword should be the starting point of any solid SEO strategy. These tools and services will help you find new keywords and check to see if your existing keyword strategy is viable.

Often overlooked, but a good place to start is basic dictionary and thesaurus websites. It helps you think of other ways searcher could be looking for your products/services.

This free keyword tool offered by Google is the first spot for research keywords by most SEO professionals. It also provides valuable insights into traffic levels.

Wordtracker (and the many other keyword research tools available) utilize data that includes sources outside of Google.

Website Keyword Suggestion Tool

This keyword suggestion tools searches the existing content on your website to determine the keywords and search terms to target.

Duplicate content checker

Duplicate content is a big no-no in the SEO world. Getting caught with duplicate content can result in penalization by the search engines – which often include delisting from their results. These tools will help you check whether the content on your product pages or articles is too closely matched to other content on the web.

Page Comparison Tools

Sometimes, the best way to opti9mize your content for better rankings is to see what your competitors are doing better. These two tools will check to web pages (yours and your competitors) and provides some vital stats about each.

Keyword Density

When determining relevance, search engines like Google look to keyword density are one of the key measures. These tools will help you check whether the copy on your pages provides adequate density to your primary keywords.

Text to Code Ratio Tools

In the world of the web, being lean in terms of code is now more important than ever. Ideally you want web pages to be more content than code to keep the search engines happy. It makes their indexing of your content faster and more thorough. Use these tools to check the ratio of your web site code to content (indexable text)

Search Engine Spider Simulator

While the good looking pages (with images and fancy media) can be good from a user perspective, you have to remember that search engines primarily index text – and that’s how they assess your content’s relevance. These tools will help you see your webpages in the same way that search engine spiders do.

With all these free tools in your content optimization tool chest, it’s a good chance to go and review your existing content and see if it needs a spruce up, or create some new content on your website with the new content opportunities you’ve found.