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+.

How to Get Products to Appear in Google Image Search

If you’ve been paying attention to Google Image Search, then you may have noticed some new changes. Now, related product images (including price and store information) are appearing in the Image Search results. And they’re not really ads, either.

how products appear in Google Image Search

While it may look like an AdWords PPC/Google Shopping thing, it’s not. It’s actually a SEO thing. And it’s prompting ecommerce marketers to ask the question: how can I get my products to appear in Google Image Search?

As highlighted on the Google Webmaster Central Blog in mid April, Image Search recently launched “Similar items” on mobile web and the Android Search app. It’s also evident when using Image Search on desktop. According to the article:

The “Similar items” feature is designed to help users find products they love in photos that inspire them on Google Image Search. Using machine vision technology, the Similar items feature identifies products in lifestyle images and displays matching products to the user. Similar items supports handbags, sunglasses, and shoes and will cover other apparel and home & garden categories in the next few months.

While the article does underscore the importance of proper Schema markup, there are a couple SEO techniques that go unmentioned. So if you want your products to appear in Google Image Search, below I outline the exact methodology on how to do it.

How to Get Products to Show Up in Google Image Search

If you want to get your products to show up in Google Image search, then you need to start by optimizing the images before you upload them to your site. This process is pretty straightforward and easy to implement without needing any technical experience.

Google Image Search Products

Depending the keyword query, Google will often show the Images snippet directly from the primary search results page. These techniques can help you get exposure here, too.

Below I take you through a step-by-step process on how to optimize images. Not only is this the first step to getting your products to appear in Google Image Search, but it will also increase the likelihood that your images will appear in Image Search snippet shown in Google Search (as shown in the figure above.)

1. Optimize Product Image Properties (Prior to Upload)

Because I am considering buying a pair of Lems Boulder Boots for future travels, I’ll use this particular product as an example throughout this process. As such, “Lems Boulder Boots” will be the keyword target for the image being optimized.

Product Image SEO Google Search

First, make sure the image file is .jpg. This will give you complete control over the image properties.

Next, name the image file according to your keyword targets. In this case “lems-boulder-boots.jpg” will be the image file name.

Right click the image file and select “properties.” This will open a window that allows you to modify specific pieces of information pertaining to the image file.

How Products Show Up in Google Image Search

Click the “Details” tab in order to populate specific image properties. Here you can include keywords in the Image Description section, namely the Title, Subject, Tags, and Comments. You should also rate the image as 5-stars and include an author, if applicable.

Image Optimization Google Search Products

Don’t hesitate to be a little relentless when populating the image Tags. For this example, I included the following tags: Lems Boulder Boots; Lems Boots; Boulder Boots; Minimalist Boots; Zero Drop Boots; Lems; Boots; Boulder Boot; Lems Boulder Boot.

Once done, hit apply, OK, and upload the image to the site.

2. Optimize Product Image Title & ALT Tag (Post-Upload)Google Product Image Search SEO

This next step is basic SEO best practices. Once the image has been successfully uploaded, you’ll want to make sure to include an image Title and ALT text. Because most individuals are using content management systems like WordPress to manage their sites, this option is clearly visible.

There’s really nothing to it. Simply include an image Title and ALT text that reflects the keyword target. If you have a number of images that are relatively similar, you may want to use variant text, like “Shop Lems Boulder Boots” or “Lems Boulder Boots Black Leather.” It’s smart to mix-it-up and keep each image ALT unique and not overly keyword stuffed.

3. Implement Product Schema Markup

The last step in the process to ensure your products are eligible for “Similar items” in Google Image Search, make sure to add and maintain Schema product metadata on your pages. By using Schema.org/Product markup, you help Google better find your products and give users an at-a-glance summary of product info.

This implementation may seem highly technical, but’s it’s not all that difficult. Below is an example of Schema.org/Product markup.

<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Product">
 <h1 itemprop="name">Lems Boulder Boots</h1>
 <img src="lems-boulder-boots.jpg" alt="Lems Boulder Boots" itemprop="image" />
 <p itemprop="description">
 Lems Boulder Boots are a lightweight, zero-drop boot ideal for minimalist.
 <span itemprop="sku">123456789</span>
 </p>
</div>

Google provides the following tips to ensure that your products are eligible to appear in Similar items:

  • Ensure that the product offerings on your pages have Schema.org product markup, including an image reference. Products with name, image, price & currency, and availability meta-data on their host page are eligible for Similar items.
  • Test your pages with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to verify that the product markup is formatted correctly.
  • See your images on image search by issuing the query “site:yourdomain.com.” For results with valid product markup, you may see product information appear once you tap on the images from your site. It can take up to a week for Googlebot to recrawl your website.

Depending on the platform you use to manage your site, implementing Schema can be a little tricky, even for some webmasters. For more information on leveraging Schema.org/Product and how to get products to appear in Google Image Search, contact us at Captivate to learn more.

Google Mobile First Index Unlikely to Roll Out in 2017

The news struck many of us as a bummer when we caught wind that Google’s highly-anticipated mobile first index will likely be postponed, and for quite some time.

During #Next10x: Mastering Mobile Digital Marketing in Boston, Gary Illyes from Google said that the mobile first index might not launch in 2017. He mentioned that he hopes it does launch, but is not 100% sure.

google mobile first

While it’s clear Google’s mobile first experiment is live, it said it has to be quality neutral. Given the situation, Google is far off from striking that balance.

See what some of the experts were discussing at #Next10x via Twitter.

Quick to misquote Gary Illyes was WordStream’s Larry Kim:

To clarify, Mark Traphagen of Stone Temple chimed in with:

Coming in to clear the smoke was Illyes himself:

What this Means for Marketers

While many marketers have been on the edge of their seats regarding Google’s mobile first index, they can scoot back knowing that it’s going to be awhile before we see any true implementation of this change.

This might be music to ears of some marketers who have been slacking on getting their sites in mobile-friendly shape. Now there’s more than enough time to implement responsive web design and embrace the new mobile first index with confidence.

Need help? Contact us at Captivate Search Marketing and we’ll help optimize your site with a new responsive design that’s both mobile-friendly and SEO-friendly.

Exact Match Targeting Gets Even More Vague for AdWords Advertisers

Gone are the days when “exact match” meant exact. On March 17th, Google announced changes to the way in which exact match keyword targeting works in AdWords. In essence, exact match targeting will include close variants, such as plurals, abbreviations, adverbs, typos, etc. But that’s not all.

adwords exact match update

 

Exact match targeting will also be widened to include variations in word order as well as function words, such as “the,” “like” or “but.” As a result, Google may ignore both function words and word order when determining whether an ad should be triggered for an exact match keyword. This new diluted definition of exact match is expected to be quite the burden on precision-oriented advertisers.

Machine Learning Trending Forward

Back in 2012, Google introduced “close variants” as a mechanism to capture plurals, typos and other similar versions of exact match and phrase match keywords. The intention of close variants was to broaden coverage while helping advertisers save time constructing otherwise very intricate keyword lists. Advertisers who wanted greater control had the ability to opt out of close variant matching. But to the dismay of many, in 2014 Google removed the ability to opt out of close variants for exact match and phrase match.

The recent announcement that’s redefining the parameters of exact match is indicative of Google’s increasing trust in its machine learning system. In other words, Google has reached a point where it encourages advertisers to let the algorithms take over and focus their efforts elsewhere. According to Google, early tests have shown an average of up to 3 percent more exact match clicks while maintaining comparable click-through and conversion rates.

Confusion Over Clarity

So what do these recent changes mean for AdWords advertisers? Ginny Marvin says it best in her Search Engine Land post on the topic:

There are many cases in which variations can change the meaning of a keyword. Take a recent example of [pancake mix] being matched to a search for “pancake mixer.” Those are not the same thing. However, there are many cases in which variations don’t change the meaning at all.

What These Changes Mean

Here are the in’s and out’s of how these mew changes are intended to work:

Function Words

Function words are most commonly bind words, like “in,” “at” or “for.” They’re also conjunctions, such as “and” and “but,” as well as prepositions, pronouns, quantifiers like “some,” “like” or “could.” In simpler terms, function words are words that do not hold much meaning on their own.

With this recent change from Google, function words may be ignored, replaced or added.

For example, the exact match keyword [seafood restaurants Atlanta] could match to the query “seafood restaurants in Atlanta.” Google shares a few additional examples of function words and what they mean for exact match targeting:

adwords exact match function words

Word Order

In most instances, word order doesn’t make a big difference with intent, and search engine users often don’t use natural word order. Take a keyword like [college recruiting giveaways]. The meaning doesn’t change with [recruiting giveaways college] or [giveaways college recruiting]. Although you’d probably never say either of those examples aloud, the intent is clearly the same.

adwords-exact-match-function-words

Navigating The New Changes

The new changes brought on by Google require advertisers to think ahead about the unintended consequences when word order matters. Further, they need to be increasingly diligent when it comes to mining search query reports.

In the previously mentioned post, Ginny Marvin outlines a few things advertisers can do to prepare for the coming changes.

1. Review existing exact match queries and determine if the loss of function words or a reordering of the words changes the meaning. Add those variations as negatives in your campaigns.
2. Review close variants in your Search Query Reports to see if other variations are currently being triggered that might be affected by these changes. Add those as negatives.
3. Starting in April, step up your mining of Search Query Reports, particularly for close variants.
4. Get ready to update your scripts. If you are using a script like the one from BrainLabs to make exact match exact, it will need to be updated. 

adwords search terms exact match filter

The primary concern surrounding most AdWords PPC advertisers is Google matching queries to keywords that don’t have the same meaning or intentional relevancy. However, Google emphasizes that it won’t alter exact match word order or function words when it understands changes would alter the true meaning of the query. I suppose the keyword there is “when it understands.”

To dovetail on one of Ginny Marvin’s example, take the case of a query like “TVC to ATL flights.” Users clearly do not want to see ads for “TVC from ATL flights” or “ATL to TVC flights.” Obviously that’s a clear-cut scenario for Google to recognize. Yet, there are a number of possible queries that could be gray.

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.

(404) 953-2406

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