Author Archives: Tyler Tafelsky

Tyler Tafelsky

About Tyler Tafelsky

Tyler Tafelsky is the Senior SEO Specialist at Captivate Search Marketing. Over the course of the last seven years, Tyler has served many roles in the search marketing profession. With roots in web copywriting, today he offers experience in organic SEO, content marketing, link popularity, social media, PPC advertising and remarketing. See more articles written by Tyler, or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Atlanta Named Top 5 City in U.S. for SEO Jobs

Among the top five cities in the U.S. for SEO jobs, Atlanta claimed the #4 position next to Chicago, Boston, and Phoenix. Atlanta’s ranking, which is an improvement from last year, reflects a new 2017 job market study conducted by Sandbox SEO.

Best Cities SEO Jobs Atlanta

Image source: Sandbox SEO

The study curated and analyzed the “Best Cities to Get an SEO Job” in America based on the volume of job postings that include “SEO” in the title. As prefaced in the study, a caveat to keep in mind is that “SEO becoming less of a job title and more of a key skill to have in a Swiss Army type of role.”

Nonetheless, “SEO” (compared to related titles like “Inbound Marketing” or “Content Marketing”) is still a heavy favorite when it comes to job titles. As posted on sites like Indeed.com as “SEO Rockstart” or “SEO Legend,” job postings with “SEO” continue to remain strong.

SEO Continues to Grow in the South

According to Search Engine Journal’s related piece 2017’s SEO Job Trends: What Does it Mean for Your SEO Career?, Tylor Hermanson takes the overall geographical analysis of SEO job demand one step further.

Based on SEO title opening growth by region (August 2016 – January 2017), the south is leading the way in the U.S. with 3.5% growth.

South Atlanta SEO Jobs

Image source: Search Engine Journal

Despite the regional trends taking place in the south, SEO positions are not opening at the same rate of overall employment. Hermanson notes that:

“Indeed listings with ‘SEO’ in the title are down 13.2%% since May with a Pearson correlation of -0.8244 when compared to SEO workforce growth in LinkedIn.”

SEO Job Trends

Image source: Search Engine Journal

While considerations like seasonality are definite factor, perhaps one of the most common reasons for this decline is that SEO jobs are slowly being called something else. In fact, Hermanson notes that the ratio of SEO as a job title to SEO as a skill has only declined 3.2% since May.

The Future Outlook on SEO Jobs

Contrary to questionably-supported claims that “SEO is dead,” SEO jobs are not going anywhere anytime soon, especially in Atlanta. If you’re seeking jobs in the search marketing profession, it’s perfectly fine to assume a job with SEO in the title.

And if you’re an employer, you don’t have replace “SEO” with an alternative title that reflects the latest buzzwords. “Website optimization,” “inbound marketing,” and “content marketing” can all have varying job roles but their duties often overlap with traditional means of SEO.

How to Optimize Your Site for SEO Performance

What makes a website perform from an SEO perspective? It’s a dynamic mix of content, user-experience, and web development. Strategic SEO needs the entire web industry – from writers and marketers, to developers and designers. Here are some SEO optimization strategies you need to adopt to ensure that your site is performing to the highest possible SEO standard.

Regular Auditing Bad SEO performance is often caused by a lack of data auditing. SEO success hinges on regular analytics deep dives to ensure that your site’s search environment remains at an optimal level. Implement frequent analytics meetings to ensure that all departments and stakeholders are aware of key web metrics. Address badly performing pages as an organization and implement improvement strategies. Fix 404s (broken links) as soon as they appear with 301 redirects (crucial for large ecommerce sites). A broken link can cause revenue loss and will interfere with site crawling and indexing. As well as regular analytics reviews, invest in high-level SEO audits every now and then. Make sure that you invest in someone with a good understanding of technical SEO who can pass on key recommendations. Be aware that you may not be able to fix everything immediately – prioritize tasks that affect indexing and user-experience first. Great Content That People Can Share Don’t waste money on low-performing content that clogs up your site and devalues your brand. You need actually good content that will form the basis for backlinks, social shares, and brand mentions. You need content that is going to invite comment and engage. So how can you make your content more shareable? How can you create content that will work for a link building tactic like the Skyscraper Technique? Always be topical and newsworthy. Try to write content that is ‘of the moment’. Seasonal roundups and content that is looking towards future industry trends are perennially popular. Struggling to come up with anything? Buzzsumo is a great content research tool that tells you the most shared posts based on your keywords. Do one better than your competitors – survey the playing field and observe what your SEO competitors are doing. Sites that rank well will have invested in quality content in the form of guides, tutorials and factsheets. Creating your own content library of downloadable and shareable resources will improve key engagement metrics like dwell time and social shares (and they can also be used for lead generation). Ego bait is great for when you are struggling to get shares and mentions from industry leaders. Everyone loves to share when they’ve been featured – factor in expert roundups, reviews, and interviews into your content calendar. Offer value and use keyword research tools like answerthepublic.com to help find user questions that need answering. Always focus your content around people’s main concerns. (Optimizing your site thematically like this will also help up your relevancy metrics). Always consider your buyer personas (including negative ones) when you are developing new content to ensure that you are hitting the mark. Going off-topic could mean wasting expensive content resources. Don’t just rely on people to share – make sharing integral to your website structure with sharing icons, pop-ups and social share plugins. Make sharing easy and natural – people won’t do it if it’s a hassle. Don’t forget to heavily promote and outreach your content with targeted social media and email campaigns. Speed (Especially on Mobile) Websites that are slow aren’t going to impress users or search engines. Speed is becoming increasingly important, so keep optimizing your site’s front and backend environments for speed and usability. Mobile speed is crucial for SEO. Here is how Google’s mobile-first index is impacting ranking and SEO. Take advantage of the open source Accelerated Mobile Pages Project and optimize your website for fast mobile browsing. Factor in speed to all your design decisions – use images, video and complex design elements sparingly and always explore the latest compression and minification options. Speed isn’t just a performance issue, it has a big impact on overall site user-experience too. Don’t accept slow load times and explore different development and hosting options when needed. Here are some SEO speed best practices. Metadata & Structured Data Make sure that your website is tagged up correctly so that search engines can choose content elements to display in dynamic search fields. You want search engines to be able to parse your content and pick out key elements like reviews, product images etc. Rich snippets and rich cards (mobile only) are there to give people a more inviting (and faster) search experience. By optimizing your site with structured data markup you are giving yourself the best chance of showing up in these fields. Remember to write unique title tags and meta descriptions for all your pages and give your image alt texts some love too. Fresh and Meaningful Backlinks & Brand Mentions A great site won’t go far without authority, which in turn is dependant on links. Authority is judged on the number, quality, and relevance of backlinks and brand mentions to your domain. Use link analytics tools like Majestic to monitor your current backlink portfolio. Be aware that having an unnatural link profile (too many keyword anchors, links from spammy/irrelevant sites) may have a negative impact on your rankings. If you have lots of link spam, it might be appropriate to consider link disavowal; but this is an advanced SEO tactic that should be handled with caution. Mass disavowals are not recommended. Need to get more links? Use the power of content to gain more natural links, either through outreach or guest posting. Always offer value with your content and match it to your intended target with personalization. Another way to raise domain authority is to focus your efforts on local citations and brand mentions – reviews and directory registrations are key to this local SEO tactic. Streamline & be purposeful SEO performance issues often come down to pages having mixed purposes. Due to keyword mismanagement, some sites are forcing search engines to choose between ranking different pages on their site for the same keyword. This can lead to ineffective search positions – find your purpose first. Don’t risk confusion – make sure that each page has a clear search purpose and a coherent user-experience. Talking about different things on the same page? It may be time to branch out. How well are your landing pages optimised? What pages are making it to the index first? A proper keyword strategy should help you define page purpose. Keep refining and redefining your keywords. Ever had SEO performance issues? What tips did you find most useful for your website?

Regular Auditing

Bad SEO performance is often caused by a lack of data auditing. SEO success hinges on regular analytics deep dives to ensure that your site’s search environment remains at an optimal level.

  • Implement frequent analytics meetings to ensure that all departments and stakeholders are aware of key web metrics. Address badly performing pages as an organization and implement improvement strategies.
  • Fix 404s (broken links) as soon as they appear with 301 redirects (crucial for large ecommerce sites). A broken link can cause revenue loss and will interfere with site crawling and indexing.
  • As well as regular analytics reviews, invest in high-level SEO audits every now and then. Make sure that you invest in someone with a good understanding of technical SEO who can pass on key recommendations. Be aware that you may not be able to fix everything immediately – prioritize tasks that affect indexing and user-experience first.

Great Content That People Can Share

Don’t waste money on low-performing content that clogs up your site and devalues your brand. You need actually good content that will form the basis for backlinks, social shares, and brand mentions. You need content that is going to invite comment and engage.

So how can you make your content more shareable? How can you create content that will work for a link building tactic like the Skyscraper Technique?

  • Always be topical and newsworthy. Try to write content that is ‘of the moment’. Seasonal roundups and content that is looking towards future industry trends are perennially popular. Struggling to come up with anything? Buzzsumo is a great content research tool that tells you the most shared posts based on your keywords.
  • Do one better than your competitors – survey the playing field and observe what your SEO competitors are doing. Sites that rank well will have invested in quality content in the form of guides, tutorials and factsheets. Creating your own content library of downloadable and shareable resources will improve key engagement metrics like dwell time and social shares (and they can also be used for lead generation).
  • Ego bait is great for when you are struggling to get shares and mentions from industry leaders. Everyone loves to share when they’ve been featured – factor in expert roundups, reviews, and interviews into your content calendar.
  • Offer value and use keyword research tools like answerthepublic.com to help find user questions that need answering. Always focus your content around people’s main concerns. (Optimizing your site thematically like this will also help up your relevancy metrics).
  • Always consider your buyer personas (including negative ones) when you are developing new content to ensure that you are hitting the mark. Going off-topic could mean wasting expensive content resources.
  • Don’t just rely on people to share – make sharing integral to your website structure with sharing icons, pop-ups and social share plugins. Make sharing easy and natural – people won’t do it if it’s a hassle.
  • Don’t forget to heavily promote and outreach your content with targeted social media and email campaigns.

Speed (Especially on Mobile)

Websites that are slow aren’t going to impress users or search engines. Speed is becoming increasingly important, so keep optimizing your site’s front and backend environments for speed and usability.

Metadata & Structured Data

Make sure that your website is tagged up correctly so that search engines can choose content elements to display in dynamic search fields. You want search engines to be able to parse your content and pick out key elements like reviews, product images etc.

  • Rich snippets and rich cards (mobile only) are there to give people a more inviting (and faster) search experience. By optimizing your site with structured data markup you are giving yourself the best chance of showing up in these fields.
  • Remember to write unique title tags and meta descriptions for all your pages and give your image alt texts some love too.

Fresh and Meaningful Backlinks & Brand Mentions

A great site won’t go far without authority, which in turn is dependent on links. Authority is judged on the number, quality, and relevance of backlinks and brand mentions to your domain.

  • Use link analytics tools like Majestic to monitor your current backlink portfolio. Be aware that having an unnatural link profile (too many keyword anchors, links from spammy/irrelevant sites) may have a negative impact on your rankings. If you have lots of link spam, it might be appropriate to consider link disavowal; but this is an advanced SEO tactic that should be handled with caution. Mass disavowals are not recommended.
  • Need to get more links? Use the power of content to gain more natural links, either through outreach or guest posting. Always offer value with your content and match it to your intended target with personalization.
  • Another way to raise domain authority is to focus your efforts on local citations and brand mentions – reviews and directory registrations are key to this local SEO tactic.

Streamline & Be Purposeful

SEO performance issues often come down to pages having mixed purposes. Due to keyword mismanagement, some sites are forcing search engines to choose between ranking different pages on their site for the same keyword. This can lead to ineffective search positions – find your purpose first.

  • Don’t risk confusion – make sure that each page has a clear search purpose and a coherent user-experience. Talking about different things on the same page? It may be time to branch out. How well are your landing pages optimized? What pages are making it to the index first?
  • A proper keyword strategy should help you define page purpose. Keep refining and redefining your keywords.

Ever had SEO performance issues? What tips did you find most useful for your website?

This article was contributed by guest author:

Gareth Simpson

Gareth Simpson – Technical SEO & Startup Founder

Gareth has worked as an SEO for almost a decade now and has recently started freelancing as a technical SEO in Bristol, UK. His SEO specialisms are content and blogger outreach…and he likes green tea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image credit: Pixabay

Search First Online Reputation Management Strategies Driven by SEO

From landlords investigating potential tenants to businesses evaluating prospective vendors, Google’s search is the go-to source to scope-out one’s reputation. As such, the Google search engine results can define an entity’s (or an individual’s) online reputation, shaping the perception for those who care.

This has made SEO-driven online reputation management a huge component of search marketing. Both businesses and professionals need to take ownership of the search results that reflect their name, in addition to the products and services they provide.

online reputation management seo

And this effort extends into our personal lives as well. Think about trying to land the ultimate apartment rental or dream job. If a landlord or employer searches your name and nothing but negative content ranks on page one, then chances are you’ll have a difficult time competing with other applicants.

Effective SEO can help help control specific types of search results, helping to optimize the online sentiment surrounding a brand or individual. Below we share search first online reputation management strategies that are driven by SEO and other avenues of Internet marketing.

Develop a Review Generation Strategy

One of the most common plagues to a company’s online reputation is bad reviews. Just one bad review can cripple a brand’s image on the web.

Be proactive by motivating and incentivizing customers to leave positive reviews on your company’s Google My Business listing, Yelp page, and other reviewable web properties. Depending on the business you’re in, you can try crafting a unique business card, recipe, or post-purchase hand-out to stimulate happy customers to take action. Offering a “proof of review” incentive for a certain percent discount on a future purchase is crafty and effective strategy.

Not only does generating a high volume of good reviews help build a positive online reputation, but it can mitigate the possibility of a future bad review (by not ruining your aggregate 5 star review rating.) Be creative and develop a review generation strategy that’s aligned with your customers best interests.

Create an Unhappy Customer Contingency Plan

respond to bad reviews for online reputation management

When negative reviews do arise, your business should have a system in place to handle such cases. Being responsive is key. Although specific to Yelp, this article has some creative (and humorous) ways to go about responding to negative reviews on almost any platform. Below is a compelling video found on that article.

There are countless ways to go about creating a contingency plan for unhappy customers who leave negative reviews. Ultimately, the foundation centers on automating a process that responds to the reviewer and helps turn the sentiment around.

For more good insights on this topic, I encourage you to read these articles on Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com.

Proliferate Your Social Media Presence

In addition to your company’s Google My Business listing and Yelp page (which are socially-oriented in nature,) proliferate your brand’s presence on various other social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Pinterest, etc.

social media profiles

These social media profiles are valuable SEO assets that can help you own page one of Google for branded keywords. This is because these types of sites offer high domain authority. So having an profile that’s optimized around your brand name on these social sites can help you better control the search results. This is particularly effective for individual professionals and consultants who are concerned with search results surrounding their name.

Properly Optimize Your Web Properties

Applying basic SEO principles on all optimizable web properties can further help you dominate page one of Google for brand keywords. With your website being number one, be sure to mention your brand name in the Page Title and Meta description of the homepage.

Similarly, you can acquire customizable or vanity URLs on your brand’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+ (or Google My Business). Here can include brand keywords to help ensure these web properties rank better.

web properties for reputation management

Further, instead of writing profile bios and descriptions in the first person (i.e. Our company has been in business for…), keep them in the third person (i.e. Captivate Search Marketing has been in business for… ) to better establish keyword relevancy.

Employ a Content Strategy

Last but most certainly not least, employing content strategy can be a significant player in proactively protecting a brand’s online reputation. Articles, press releases, and blog posts (including guest blog posts) can be rankable assets that can appear on page one for target keywords.

A classic approach is to occasionally produce news content on your blog surrounding any new acquisitions, awards, or accomplishments about your company. For very noteworthy news, invest in a premium press release on PRWeb.com, PRNewswire.com, or related platform. You can optimize these releases for branded keywords as well as product/service-related keywords.

In conclusion, content is most certainly king in the context of online reputation management. The challenge is producing rank-worthy content that help proliferate your brand’s online footprint and appears on page one of Google.

2016 Local SEO Ranking Factors Distilled

Understanding the most important local SEO ranking factors can be a consuming, ongoing endeavor. Google’s algorithm is ever-changing, and certain search engine ranking factors can change over time.

With a month away from 2017, it’s a good time to reflect on the local SEO ranking factors that have shaped best practices of 2016. So I’ve distilled data and insights from some of the industry’s leading sources, such as Moz, Search Engine Land, and Local SEO Guide. But because some of this data is rich with metrics and SEO lingo, it may be over the head for some layman marketers.

local seo ranking factor 2016

Graphic by Local SEO Guide

Here I discuss (in no particular order) some of the most influential local SEO ranking factors in a quickly-consumable blog post. Let’s get into it.

1. Google My Business (GMB)

Having a Google My Business profile is essential. Yet, having a 100% populated and SEO-friendly GMB is another. Initially, you should focus on claiming and verifying your the GMB page.

Google Maps Marketing My Business

Populate your company’s Google My Business page to 100%, including a tagline, description, and several high quality images. Also be sure to select the most relevant primary category that reflects your business.  Your GMB page is the next most important SEO web property next to your website. Get more tips and strategies on optimizing your GMB page, click here.

2. Website

When it comes to optimizing your website, an obvious local ranking factor, crank out this local SEO action items:

  • Populate your site with quality and unique content (using keywords and phrase where it makes sense, especially in the Page Title and Meta Description.)
  • Include links to your GMB page and other primary social profiles
  • Mention your business’s name, address, and phone number (or “citation”) as it’s mentioned on your GMB page and other listings. Include this in the website’s header, footer, or some other site-wide placement, if possible.
  • Embed the Google Maps snippet on your contact page, or even your homepage if you want to go the extra mile.
  • Look into creating a KML file for your website.
  • Build a HTML sitemap and generate/upload a XML sitemap to your website
  • Create a “Reviews” page where you can direct happy customers to leave a review on your GMB page, Yelp page, and other major listings

3. Backlinks

Backlinks deriving from other sites must not be overlooked. In fact, a majority of your time should be spent looking for opportunities building links as well as earning links naturally (by way of great content marketing, social influence, publicity, press etc.)

Domain authority is a metric that defines the sheer strength and SEO potential of a website. This metric is determined by backlinks. Think of links like votes. But instead of trying to get the most votes, focus on getting higher quality votes from trusted sources.

For example, if you were doing SEO for Subaru, getting links from Car & Drive would be a nice win. Find opportunities (whether via outreach, networking, or connecting with colleagues and complementary business) to generate more links to your site.

4. Off-Site Local Signals

Google Maps SEO Marketing LocalThe next important part step to local SEO is generating more citations and fixing any that are inaccurate. Google can crawl and compare citation information on your website, GMB page, and other listings throughout the web. Any discrepancies in citation information can hinder credibility and SEO potential.

A good place to for a quick evaluation of your site’s citation profile is the Yext Powerlistings Scan. This free scan will show you how your business’s citation data appears on major listings like Yelp, Yahoo! Local, Bing, WhitePages, MapQuest, and about 50 other directories.

In essence, this cumbersome process involves removing any duplicate listings and correcting any listings with outdated or inaccurate data. The idea is to polish-up the entire citation profile representing your business and ensure that it’s 100% accurate and consistent across all listings.

Local SEO Investment Chart by Local SEO Guide

local seo investment chart

Concluding the 2016 Local SEO Ranking Factors study conducted by Local SEO Guide is this handy investment chart. According Andrew Shotland at Local SEO Guide, continuing to acquire quality links is dominant area of focus.

While there are several more local SEO ranking factors involved in the grand scheme of things, most savvy search marketers will agree that these are tops. If you stay focused on the latter four factors (with the latter two being an ongoing effort), you’ll have a significant competitive edge.

Franchise SEO: How To Build a Multi-Location SEO Strategy

Franchises and multi-location businesses are growing at an incredible rate, but so are the SEO challenges that come with them. In fact, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the franchise sector will increase by 5.6% to $552 billion in 2016, according to the International Franchise Association’s annual report on the state of the industry.

franchise seo strategy

And as more and more of these entities realize the value in search marketing, franchise SEO has become an increasingly important aspect to a franchisor’s digital strategy. But When it comes to marketing multiple locations online, franchise SEO can often be a complex endeavor. These five elements to multi-location SEO should help your brand successfully attract customers for your franchisees by harnessing the power of search.

1. Optimize Your Site

Before your your mind starts to boggle over all of the locations you have to manage, first take the time to optimize the main pages of your site. These are typically the homepage, sitemap page, about page, blog, and any product and/or service pages. These pages will hold immense SEO value in the long-run, and will likely be some of the most visited pages on your site. They will also be the pages that most commonly appear in the organic search engine results.

Among the most important aspects of optimizing your site is taking care of any technical issues inhibiting SEO. I suggest checking out Paddy Moogan’s post on Most Common Technical SEO Problems & How To Solve Them at Moz. But in a nutshell, some of the most detrimental issues to fix are:

  • multiple versions of the homepage
  • soft 404 errors
  • 302 redirects instead of 301 redirects
  • broken/outdated sitemaps
  • query parameters added to the end of URLs

2. Grow Your Online Footprint

Beyond your own site, other sites that feature, discuss, and/or promote your brand are often a significant differentiating factor in more competitive markets. Take an investigative look at your brand’s online footprint (or off-site presence) that extends outside of your own site. In the search marketing community, we call this off-site SEO.

Does your brand have a presence on all of the major social media platforms? Are your social media pages active and updated with regular posts (and are you engaging with your audience?) Are legitimate online publications covering newsworthy events and products/services surrounding you brand?

In the context of off-site SEO, backlinks (or inbound links) are essentially other sites referencing your site for more information on a certain topic. I like to think of backlinks as votes of credibility. But instead of striving to get the most votes, focus more about the quality of your votes.

Parallel to this frame of mind, ensure those references are coming from reputable and relevant sources. Google and other search engines are a lot like intelligent humans in how they perceive these references or links back to your website. Would you trust the recommendation for auto repair parts on a popular mechanic website or food blog?

When it comes to investing in franchise SEO services, these ideas spawn good questions to bring to the table (i.e. what kind of resources and strategies does an SEO company offer to generate backlinks?)

3. Create Dedicated Location Pages

Now that we’ve covered the importance of having a well-optimized site and promoting your brand as a whole, the next vital step to franchise SEO is to ensure customers in each geographic market are easily able to find your local franchises on the web.

First, each location must be properly communicated to Google. In essence, creating dedicated pages for each location is SEO best practice. Make it easy to present all of these pages to your users. Leveraging clickable maps, search functionality, and lists are great ways to direct users (and search engines spiders) to where they need to go.

on-page SEO for Franchises

Having unique and properly-optimized location pages enables Google to see that each location is unique and should be displayed in local search results accordingly.

When it comes to the technicalities of optimizing each location page, here are the essential ingredients to a SEO-friendly location page:

  • Name, Address, Number, and other contact information (aka “citation” of the business.)
  • Embedded Google Map
  • Link to corresponding Google My Business page
  • Unique content about the location/franchisor
  • Photos of the location
  • List of products and/or services
  • Directions from surrounding cities
  • Links review pages and social media profiles of the location

You can take this process one step further by integrated Schema, or structured data markup, to further enhance the SEO potential of the site.

4. Build Listings & Citations

In the first bullet point above, citations (or mentions of a business’s name, address, and phone number) are a similar “voting” mechanism as backlinks. Citations are bits of information that Google crawls to determine the credibility and popularity of a business. The focus for franchise SEO is to build citations (via business listings) on sites like Yelp, Manta, Superpages, Yellowpages, and hundreds more.

fanchrise seo citations

In addition to building more citations, this cumbersome process also involves removing duplicate listings and correcting any listings with outdated or inaccurate data. The objective is to clean-up each location’s citation profile so that it’s 100% accurate and consistent across all listings.

Tools like Moz Local and Bright Local are invaluable for this process (particularly when doing franchise SEO for 100+ locations.) At Captivate Search Marketing we leverage Bright Local to help us scan, audit, and build citations for our clients (and that includes removing any duplicates and fixing listings to ensure accurate and consistent information.)

5. Leverage Your Franchisees

There are some elements to multi-location SEO that are difficult to control. This where your franchisees, and further, individual location managers can either support or hinder a fully-actualized SEO program. One of the best examples of this is customer reviews.

A poorly managed location can lead to poor customer reviews on its Google My Business listing. And poor customer can destroy a franchise’s reputation.

Conversely, implementing a review generation strategy (or further, an unhappy customer strategy) can help protect the reputation of your franchise. And because customer reviews are a local ranking signal, racking-up a significant number of 5-star reviews will only support the business’s rankings.

In Scott Holstein’s 5-Step Setup Guide to Franchise SEO, he recommends making available:

“webinars covering best practices and standards for social media, claiming online profiles, reviews, and testimonials and how to handle local media. When given some instruction and the proper resources, your franchisees can be your greatest advocates.”

For more information about multi-location SEO for franchises, visit Captivate Local a branch of Captivate Search Marketing that specializes in local SEO solutions.

Captivate Spearheads Local Google Maps Marketing Services

With mere months away from 2017, it’s a good time to start re-assessing our local SEO strategies. Here at Captivate Search Marketing, we’re taking-on a more integrated approach by embracing the opportunities in Google Maps marketing.

Google Maps Marketing Services

Many immediately envision the local 3 pack listings that are shown in Google search (typically under any Pay Per Click ads.) However, there’s more to Google Maps marketing then the local listing component.

While the 3 pack is unquestionably the most powerful form of marketing real estate, there’s also the search results in the Google Maps interface. Otherwise known as the ranked Google Maps results, these listings are influenced slightly different ranking signals.

For this reason, in addition to AdWords, the outlook on Google Maps marketing offers a multi-faceted approach for local businesses. Let’s take a closer look at the different opportunities that our Google Maps marketing services have to offer.

Local 3 Pack

As mentioned above, the local 3 pack is prime marketing real estate that can literally grow a business by leaps and bounds. Depending on the city or geo-reference, countless companies may be competing for placement in the coveted 3 pack. This can make it a difficult endeavor, and one that needs to be put into realistic perspective for some businesses.

Google Maps 3 Pack Marketing

Is there a more valuable form of advertising and marketing real estate for local businesses?

At Captivate Search Marketing, we can help devise a Google Maps marketing program that’s designed to meet attainable outcomes and expectations. For instance, if you operate a plastic surgery practice that is located 30 miles outside of San Francisco, and yet want to rank for “plastic surgeon San Francisco” against fifteen other authoritative surgeons (who are actually based in the city,) we’ll be honest with you. We’ll tell you that your chances of ranking the 3 pack are slim to none. (But there’s alternative avenues to generate traffic from such keywords.)

We understand ranking factors that impact the local 3 pack listings. In addition to city-center proximity, among the most impactful are citations, Google My Business page, customer reviews, and website. For these Google Maps marketing and SEO services, see our Captivate Local branch. There you can learn more about the importance of having a well-optimized website and Google My Business page, abundant citation profile, and review generation strategy in place.

Ranked Google Maps Results

Google Maps Optimization

This link directs users to the ranked Google Maps results.

The second component to Google Maps marketing is the ranked results shown directly in main Google Maps interface. If you click on the “More Places” option under the local 3 pack (as shown in the figure,) you’ll be taken to the ranked Google Maps results.

These listings are shown for search queries submitted in the Google Maps mobile app. And for mobile searchers who do not have location data activated on their device, these result may be shown automatically.

According to local search data, the ranking signals for these Google Maps listings depend mostly on a company’s Google My Business page. Further, citations are less of a ranking signal (and some local SEO’s will dispute that citations are not a ranking factor at all.)

local Google Maps SEO Marketing

The ranking factors of these search results depend mostly on Google My Business pages, and less on citations (unlike the local 3 pack).

As part of our services in Google Maps marketing, we can help optimize your Google My Business listing to its fullest potential. If you do not already have a page claimed and verified for your businesses, we provide the solutions to help you accomplish this first step. Further, we can help optimize your listing with specific techniques that your competitors are probably unaware of.

Google Maps Ads

The last component, which is distantly underutilized, is Google Maps advertising. Using the AdWords platform, you can create ads that make your business more pronounced in the ranked Google Maps results (shown in the figure below.)

Google Maps Advertising Services

In a competitive search market, advertising in Google Maps can offer a number of benefits. Not only is it immediate, but advertisers only pay when users click their ads. And because less businesses are leveraging Google Maps ads compared to traditional search ads, they can help companies get a leg-up on their competitors. Further, it’s a great alternative (or supplement) to the latter mentioned components.

There are four new ad features that are available in Google Maps:

  • Promoted Pins (which can include logos and branding elements)
  • Customizable business pages
  • In-store promotions
  • Local inventory search function

Ads can appear in the search results shown in the Google Maps app, the desktop and mobile versions of the main Google Maps interface, and on Google.com’s Expanded Map results.

As an AdWords Certified Agency, we at Captivate Local can help you set-up a Google Map advertising campaign. Drop us a line at (404) 666-3887 or visit our contact page to learn more about how we can help you with Google Maps marketing.

How Local Business Results Are Shown On Google Search

Depending on the keyword query, there are many different ways in which local business results are shown on Google search. Below we go into greater detail behind the types of search results that local businesses can leverage for greater visibility.

Search SEO Company Atlanta in Google

Pay Per Click Section (Google Adwords)

Pay Per Click Section On Google

The Pay Per Click (PPC) section in Google shows ads from businesses in your area who are bidding on keywords. The only way to get in this section is to pay/bid with other businesses. Depending on the competition of the industry you are in, some industries pay up to $120 per click and higher. Not only do you have to pay per click but you also have to pay the PPC management company a fee to optimize and manage your account. You can run these PPC campaigns yourself but you should let an local SEO company manage your campaign if you aren’t very experienced with PPC.

Google Local Listing Section (Google My Business)

Google My Business Listing Section On Google Search

The Google local listing section, also known as Google My Business Listing section, is the most important place to have your business listed. Most clicks or calls come from this section. Although, the competition in this section is fierce! The trick to ranking highly in this section is “white hat SEO”, content marketing, and getting reviews. As you can see below, we are still ranking in the #1 spot even though we have less reviews than our competitors. Proving that you don’t have to have more reviews to rank higher. 

Organic Search Section (Organic Listings)

The organic listings are you last chance to get clicks to your site. Most people are going to use the listing section but sometimes the listings don’t have enough information to make sense to the searcher. The organic listings make it easier to understand exactly what type of product or service you offer. These results are pulled straight from the pages on your website.

Organic Business Listing Section On Google Search

Can I get My Business Listed In These Sections?

Yes you can, you can either do it yourself or let an expert help set these listings up for you. We suggest having experts set these up correctly, the first time. Without expert advice, you may end up spending a ton of money on irrelevant clicks, wasting time on keywords that don’t get you traffic etc. See below about the factors Google uses to grade your local business site.

How Is My Local Business Site Graded By Google?

Google looks at a number of factors to grade your website. Here are the most important factors you should be aware of to get a good Google Score.

Content & Text On Pages – Have you ever heard the phrase “Content Is King?” Well that statement is more true now than ever. Google wants to see that you have unique, quality written content that gets traffic. Wasting your time making 500 word blog posts? Yeah we did that for a while too until we realized that 500 word posts will never rank and only dilute your SEO strategies. Posts of 750+ words are recommended.

Links Matter – The amount/quality of links you have pointing to your site is very important. Sometimes the single factor holding a site back from ranking over their competitors is “links”. The best way to get a good grade from Google is to have high Domain Authority Links pointing to your site. How do you get high DA authority links? Hire us!!

Easy Reading Score – Google wants your page to be readable by 8th graders and below! Yeah, we know that sounds crazy but people aren’t all that bright these days. Most internet users have a 8th grade reading level or above.

Is your Website Mobile Friendly? – Google started penalizing sites who are not mobile friendly. If your site is not responsive, you may be in trouble. Also, Google is starting to way more heavily on AMP (accelerated mobile pages). AMP pages are simply stripped down versions of your pages that load extremely fast. Do you know how to install AMP pages on your site? We do!!

Headings Are Important – Headings can either tell Google you are the exact match they are looking for or completely confuse them and earn you lower rankings. Are you using your heading tags properly? Do you know which ones you should be using the most? It can be confusing at first, but let our experts guide you through proper usage of heading tags!

Competition – Have a lot of competition in your area? You are going to have a tough time beating out your competitors unless you know what type of content you need, where to get links from, and how to rank in a high competition field. Our local SEO experts know exactly what you need to beat out high competition businesses in any industry!

Thank you for reading “How Local Business Results Are Shown On Google Search”, stay tuned for more from the experts at Captivate Search Marketing.

Local SEO Best Practices for Atlanta Small Businesses

With 2017 just a few months of way, now is good time for Atlanta small businesses to check-in with their local SEO strategy. There have been a lot of changes to both local and organic search over the last several months, indicating a need for some businesses to adapt. To help you reassess, below we share a few local SEO best practices for Atlanta small businesses.

Local Atlanta SEO Best Practices

Optimized Google My Business (GMB) Listings

Crafting a well-optimized Google My Business (GMB) listing for you small business is vital for local SEO. It’s essentially the most important web property next your website, and should optimized and fully populated.

local SEO best practices google my business

Some local SEO best practices to optimize your GMB page include:

  • Populating your page to 100% completion. This includes all the fine details like your business’s hours of operation, location, contact information, etc.
  • Choosing the most relevant categories that describe your business, making the primary category the most relevant.
  • Properly linking from your business’ website to your Google My Business page (you’ll see instructions for this on the page with specific code to drop on your site.)
  • Verifying your listing via phone or postcard submission (in which Google will send a postcard to your business’ address with a 4 digit PIN to verify your GMB listing.)

Properly establishing your GMB page is not only important to rank in the Google local 3-pack, but its one of the most significant ranking factors of Google Maps optimization.

Citations & NAP Alignment

Citations (or mentions of your business’ name, address, and phone number) are and will continue to be a strong signal that directly influences local SEO. Some of the top thought leaders in the search marketing profession have stated that citations make up a substantial portion of Google’s local search algorithm.

local SEO best practice for citations

Most common on local directories and social media sites, citations can be created fairly quickly and easily on sites like Yelp.com, Manta.com, Superpages.com and Yellowpages.com, to name just a few. Additionally, the citations that give local small businesses a competitive edge are often found on locally-specific sites (i.e. MetroAtlantaChamber.com) or industry-specific sites (i.e. FindLaw.com for attorneys.)

However, perhaps more challenging than creating new citations for you Atlanta business is cleaning-up inaccurate citations on existing listings. One of the most common plagues for local SEO is misaligned NAP info. Ensuring 100% consistency across all citations surrounding your business is a best practice that should not be overlooked.

Customer Reviews

Generating positive customers reviews on your Google My Business page (in addition its Yelp page and other popular listings) can enhance many areas of your web marketing efforts. As for local SEO and ranking in the 3-pack, customer reviews are an important ranking factor that can help boost your business’s ranking. Generating positive customer reviews is also beneficial to improve click-through rates as well as improve online reputation.

local SEO best practices in generating reviews

To encourage positive reviews, create incentives for customers to visit your GMB page (among other listings) and leave favorable reviews. Many small businesses go to lengths to offer a coupon or discount in exchange for a positive review. Whatever your review generation strategy is, ensure that its ethical and that your customer reviews are genuine. The outcome can have profound effects on you local SEO efforts, especially in a competitive Atlanta search market.

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