Top Rank Yourself (TRY) Local SEO

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7 Δεκ 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 6 μήνες)

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Top Rank Yourself (TRY) Local SEO
10 Step Checklist for Do-It-Yourself Local & Mobile
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
by Allan Todd
www.allantodd.com
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Introduction
If you own a local-oriented business then you undoubtedly know the importance of ranking
high on search engines and smartphones to be found by your prospects and get more business.
You probably also know that you need Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to get that high
ranking.
SEO can be a challenge to local business owners because they perceive SEO as too hard to
do themselves and and too expensive to outsource.
If you have tried to figure out SEO you soon discover there is a massive amount of
completely irrelevant information. You do not want to learn the history of SEO nor do you want
to know why you need SEO - you already know you need it.
That’s why I created this ebook, to de-clutter and simplify SEO. This document is a step-by-
step series of “what to do” checklists for local SEO. This document contains all the tactics I use
for professional SEO in simple, easy to digest checklists. No SEO history, no theory nor in-depth
details. Just the “what to do” to get in done and move on with running your business.
Using my checklists you or someone on your staff - even your spouse or teenager - can
perform SEO for your business. It just takes basic communications, analytical and Internet
browsing skills, oh and a little time and energy.
There are 10 SEO steps to getting Top Rank Yourself (TRY) on the search engines. Each
step has a checklist or two. This document reveals exactly “what” I do for my clients.
Here is an overview of the
10 Steps to TRY in Local and Mobile Search
:
1)
Identify the
Keywords
your prospects use to find your products or services.
2)
Optimize the free
Place Page
listing Google gives all businesses.
3)
Use website SEO to make your website as
Google friendly
as possible.
4)
Add great
Content
to your website on a regular basis.
5)
Get
Citations
(i.e. mentions) of your business on the Internet.
6)
Get a steady stream of positive
Customer Reviews
on social media.
7)
Get
Links
to your website from recognized, authoritative websites.
8)
Maintain an active presence for your business on
Social Media
.
9)
Get
Mobile friendly
so business behaves and performs on smartphones and tablets.
10)
Measure
your path toward Top Rank and
Repeat
the above steps to stay there.
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We Are Here To Help
This ebook consists of the checklists I use for professional Local SEO, so not all information
may apply to your situation. We are the type of people that appreciate customers, relationships
and helping people succeed. That is why I love it when readers contact me with comments,
questions or any topic. Feel free to contact me via my website at
www.pagecafe.com
Good luck to you in your journey to Top Rank Yourself.
- Allan Todd
About the Author
Allan Todd is a SEO/Internet marketing consultant and Joomla website
developer with broad
experience in all aspects of online web business, website
design, social media, local search, Joomla content management, persuasion
architecture and email marketing. He is President and founder of PageCafe
Internet Consulting, Inc., a web design and Internet Marketing firm
headquartered near Colorado Springs, Colorado. Established 1997.
Allan loves helping businesses succeed online and gets a thrill out of a first
place ranking on Google. He can brainstorm and give advice all day on
Internet marketing and web design to improve online effectiveness and results. He has built
more than 300 websites, launched over 50 online stores and managed dozens of online marketing
programs.
Prior to founding Pagecafe, Allan was a project manager and engineer in the defense
industry. He began his career as an Air Force officer in 1981. He has business degrees in
Marketing and Computer Science. Allan enjoys his family, fly fishing, camping and his Harley.
Disclaimer and Terms of Use
By downloading this document you are accepting this disclaimer and terms of use. You agree that all content in this
document is protected by copyrights or other proprietary rights and laws, and is the sole property of Pagecafe Internet Consulting,
Inc. You are permitted to use the content as an aid for search engine optimization. You may not copy, reproduce, modify,
republish, upload, post, transmit, or distribute any contents of this document in any form or by any means without prior written
permission from us, and you are solely responsible for obtaining permission before reusing any copyrighted material. This
document may link you to other sites on the Internet or include references to information/services provided by other parties.
These other parties are not under our control and you acknowledge that we are not responsible for the accuracy, copyright
compliance, legality, decency, or any other aspect of the content of such sites, nor are we responsible for errors or omissions in
any references to other parties or their products and services. The inclusion of such a link or reference is provided merely as a
convenience and does not imply endorsement of the other party by us, or any warranty of any kind, either express or implied.
While the author has used his best efforts in preparing this ebook, he makes no representations or warranties with respect to the
accuracy or completeness of the contents of this book and specifically disclaims any implied warranties of merchantability or
fitness for a particular purpose. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation. You should
consult with a professional where appropriate. The author shall not be liable for any loss of profit or any other commercial
damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.
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Table of Contents
................................................................
Keyword Discovery
6
Local vs Non-Local Search Results
6
Finding the Best Local Search Terms
7
..............................................................
Google+ Local Page
10
Creating Your Business NAP Profile
10
Create or Claim Your Google+ Local Page
11
..................................................................................
Content
16
What is Content and Why is it Important
16
Types of Website Content for Regular Updates
16
Brainstorm Content Topic Ideas
17
Creating a Content Plan
19
Hiring a Writer
20
Publishing Content on Other Websites
22
Video Content
23
.....................
Website Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
25
Writing for Relevance
25
Technical SEO
26
................................................................................
Citations
30
What are Citations and Why are They Important
30
Getting Citations
30
Get the Most Important Citations First
32
Industry Citation Sources
33
Getting More Citations Over Time
33
..................................................................................
Reviews
35
What are Reviews and Why are they Important
35
Create a Process for Getting Reviews
35
Handling a Bad Review
39
......................................................................
Inbound Links
40
What are Inbound Links and Why are they Important
40
Link Building Techniques to Avoid
40
Good Link Building Techniques
41
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Foundational Inbound Links
42
Getting Inbound Links from Directories
43
Ideas for Inbound Links
43
..........................................................................
Social Media
46
Content Ideas for Social Media
46
Google+
46
Facebook
47
Twitter
49
Youtube
50
....................................................................
Mobile Friendly
51
Make Your Website Mobile Friendly
51
Google+ Local
52
Optimizing for Apple Siri
52
Customer Check-ins
53
................................................................
Measure & Repeat
55
Measuring Your SEO Progress
55
Repeat
56
Conclusion
56
.........................................................................
Link Sources
57
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1.
Keyword Discovery
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) begins with keywords.
The purpose of this section is identify the best local search terms for your business. The
result of this section is a list of keywords for which you want top rank in the local and mobile
search. Top rank for the keywords on this list is the goal of this entire document.
Everyone is familiar with Google and you undoubtedly understand the importance of ranking
high for the keywords your prospects use to find your business.
The first step in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to identify the keywords that your
prospects and target market use to search for your services and/or products. The process of
assembling the list of keywords for your business is called
Keyword Discovery
.
1.1.
Local vs Non-Local Search Results
You need to understand this simple concept: Google treats local oriented search keywords
differently than non-local oriented keywords. We call this special treatment “Google Local
Search.”
Google determines if a particular keyword “triggers” a local oriented response. When a
keyword triggers the local search, Google formats the search results in a special format called

Local Search Engine Results Pages
” or Local SERP.
The Local SERP format includes grouping local business in a table format with the
businesses name, address and phone plus there is a link to a Google listing page called the

Google+ Local Page
.” There is also a push-pin link to a map in the upper right of the Local
Search Results.
This table-like grouping of the top businesses in the Local SERP is usually limited to seven
businesses. We call the grouping the “
Seven Pack
.” The number seven is not fixed and Google
sometimes shows only three results and will occasionally show five and even 10 results in the
“Pack.”
Example of Google Local Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
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1.2.
Finding the Best Local Search Terms
Your mission is to 1) identify the keywords your prospects use to find your business, 2) select
the best keywords by relevancy, popularity and competition, and finally 3) combine the best
keywords into your Cash Phrases that you will use in your business descriptions and website
content.
Checklist -
Keyword Discovery
1)
Identify Seed Keywords. Brainstorm and create a list of “
Seed Keywords
” that you
believe your customers are using or will use to find your business. Stop at 10 or 20
words. Most business owners can easily do this. For example a family lawyer would use
the following seed keywords: divorce attorney, family lawyer, child support, adoption,
etc.
2)
Try Out Your Seed Keywords. Go to Google and search on your Seed Keywords. Look
at who comes up and look at their website for keyword ideas. Add any relevant keywords
to your Seed Keyword list. If a Seed Keyword brings up businesses unrelated to your
business, then the Seed Keyword is probably not a good keyword for you to target.
3)
Think Local. When brainstorming Seed Keywords consider including local cities,
neighborhoods, zip codes, area codes, regions and major local landmarks.
4)
Does the keyword bring up the Local SERP? If so, make a note that the keyword
triggered local search. Give these keywords priority and add to Cash Phrases list.
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5)
Use a Keyword Suggestion Tool. There are many tools available that will suggest
keyword ideas based on your Seed Keywords. I recommend using the
Google Adwords
Keyword Tool
. I also like Google Instant’s auto-complete feature for keyword research.
Here are links to tools I used regularly.
a.
Google Adwords Keyword Tool
- Used in rest of this checklist. Go here and
familiarize yourself with how it works by entering a few keywords in the Find
Keywords box. Notice how values are given for each keyword’s popularity and
competition.
b.
http://www.semrush.com
- Research keywords used by your competitors
c.
http://ubersuggest.org
- Easy to use and understand keyword research.
6)
Discover Keywords. Go to the Google Adwords Keyword Tool and select “
Exact
Match
” on the check box under “
Match Types
.” This match type is better for
discovering the best Local Search Terms as it can reduce the clutter and highlight the
most important keywords for your business. Start the Keyword Discovery process by
entering your Seed Keywords one at at time. Sort by the column “Local Monthly
Searches” by clicking on the column title.
7)
Review Keyword Suggestions. The Google AdWords Keywords Tool shows a list of
related keywords to your Seed Keywords. Your job is to look at the list and determine if
the keyword is relevant to your business. Use the relevancy, popularity and competition
data to help you determine value to you.
8)
Build Your Keyword Target List. Select keywords by clicking the checkbox link next to
the keyword you want. As a general rule keywords with more than 100 local searches per
month is popular enough to be considered, as long as the keyword is relevant to your
business.
9)
Be specific. Don’t be too general when selecting keywords. Broad keywords like
“travel” or “restaurant” are difficult to rank high for and don’t bring in qualified
prospects. Keywords with 2+ terms are best.
10)
Put Keyword List in Spreadsheet or Document. Download your final keyword list to your
desktop and import the list into a spreadsheet or document. Format to make it easier to
read (widen columns, delete empty columns, remove brackets around keywords).
11)
Competitor Keywords. Research your competitors by looking at the keywords they rank
for using
SEMrush.com
. Add any relevant keywords to your keyword list.
12)
Identify Keyword Categories. Add a column called “Category” to your spreadsheet.
Assign a category to each keyword based on the similarity of the keywords in the
keyword phrase.
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13)
Group Keyword by Category. Sort the spreadsheet by the category column. This groups
similar keywords into common categories.
14)
Identify the Best Keywords in Each Category. Look at the keywords in each category
making note of the popularity and competition for each keyword.
15)
Go to Google and test your best keywords. Don’t include your city name in the search
term. If a keyword triggers a Local Search Results then you want to make a note of this
by adding a column to your keyword spreadsheet called “Local Keywords” and put the
word “Yes” in this column for each keyword.
16)
Create Your Cash Phrases. Combine keywords into phrases that include the best
keywords
for a topic. I call these
Cash Phrases
. For example suppose all the following
keywords are popular: health insurance plans, health insurance polices, health quotes.
The Cash Phrase would be “health insurance plans, polices and quotes.” You may want
to create a page on your website based on the Cash Phrase. You will use these Cash
Phrases in your business descriptions, local listings, social media profiles, web pages,
blogs, etc. See following Table - Examples of Turning Keywords in Cash Phrases.
Table - Examples of Turning Keywords into Cash Phrases
Table - Examples of Turning Keywords into Cash Phrases
Good Keywords You Discovered
Combined into Cash Phases
divorce lawyer, divorce attorney, find a divorce lawyer,
family divorce lawyer, best divorce lawyer
...find the best divorce lawyers and family law
attorneys...
DUI attorney, drunk driving attorney, DUI defense
attorney, drunk driving laws, driving under influence,
best dui attorney
...DUI defense attorneys that are experts in drunk
driving laws...
...arrested for driving drunk or under the influence?
Find the best DUI defense attorneys...
health insurance plans, health insurance polices, health
quotes
...health insurance plans, polices and quotes...
roof repair, roof estimates, roof contractor, roofing
contractors, residential roofing contractors, roofing
contractor
...residential roofing contractor offering free roof repair
estimates....
heating air conditioning contractor, heating and cooling
contractor, heating and air contractor, residential air
conditioning, commercial heating contractor, licensed
heating contractor
...licensed commercial and residential heating, cooling
and air conditioning contractor...
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2.
Google+ Local Page
Google gives all local business a free place page style listing called the Google+ Local Page.
The purpose of this section is to optimize the visibility of the Google+ Local Page for your
business, and thereby improve your visibility in local and mobile search.
The Google+ Local Page is actually the first of many “place pages” or “listings” you will be
creating in the search engines, online yellow pages and various directories. You will be creating
local place pages in Bing Local, Yahoo Local, Yelp, Facebook, YP.com and many other websites.
Before you start creating all these local Place Pages and listings, you need to define your
Business name, address and phone (NAP) Profile.
2.1.
Creating Your Business NAP Profile
It is very important for Local SEO that your business name, address and phone (NAP) is
exactly the same everywhere you are listed on the Internet. This consistency is actually
extremely important, so take a few minutes before you do anything and create a NAP Profile.
You must use your NAP Profile - down to the last abbreviation and period - consistently
wherever you list your NAP. Don’t flip-flop with what to call your business.
Checklist - Creating Your Business NAP Profile
1)
Create a NAP Profile File & Folder - Use you computer to capture the following NAP
information. Keep it handy as you will be cutting and pasting from it frequently.
2)
Company Name - First step is to establish your definite, unequivocal business name.
3)
Address - Your definite, unequivocal business address. Always use the same
abbreviations i.e. “St.” or “Dr.” Don’t vary on anything.
4)
Phone Number - Use local number with local area code. No 800 numbers or routing
numbers.
5)
Website URL - I recommend including “www.” if you tend to use both with and without.
6)
Business Hours - Show if important to your business. Leave out if not.
7)
Business Tag Line.
8)
Descriptions. The length allowed for your business description varies widely on different
place page listings. Write two separate paragraphs describing your business. One short
Description of 200 characters and one long description of 600 characters. Make the each
concise yet conversational. Use your best keywords. Try to emphasize how your business
is different from competitions i.e. your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Include the
name of your business in the description. Don’t overuse keywords, that’s spamming.
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9)
Products and Services. Make a list so you got it ready to cut/paste where you need it.
10)
Brands Carried.
11)
Certifications and Awards.
12)
Social Profile URLs - If known at this time. The most important to have in the NAP are
Google+ Local Page, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Youtube.
13)
Business Photos - Have files available on hard drive. Use your keywords in the file
names. Format .jpg or .png is best.
14)
Business Videos - Upload to Youtube and have files available on hard drive. Use
keywords in file names.
15)
Coupons.
2.2.
Create or Claim Your Google+ Local Page
Ok you got your NAP in hand, let’s optimize your Google+ Local Page.
The goal of this section is to either create a new or claim an existing Google+ Local Page for
your business.
If your business is new you most likely will need to create a Google+ Local Page. But first
you will need to check because Google created over 50 million of the Google+ Local Page for
businesses that it found in Yellow Pages and other directories. If your business has been around a
while it most likely already has a Google+ Local Page and you must claim it.
You don’t need a website to have a Google+ Local Page. In fact, many businesses get found
online just via their Google+ Local Page.
Do the following checklist if you would like to get more familiarized with Google+ Local
pages. If you are already familiar with Google+ Local Pages skip to next checklist.
Checklist - Familiarization with a Google+ Local Page
1)
Finding a Google+ Local Page. The following steps will help you find a Google+ Local
Page.
a.
Do a search on one of your keywords that trigger local search. You will know
you are seeing Local Search Results if you see a map in the upper right of the
search engine results page (SERP).
b.
Look for the Seven-Pack of businesses, they are labeled with push-pins with
letters A, B, C, etc in the push pin.
c.
Click on a push pin to bring up the business on a map.
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d.
Click on the “More Info” link next to business name to bring up the Google+
Local Page.
2)
How recognize a Google+ Local Page? If you see below the cover photo tabs for About
and Photos and a “Manage this page” button when you scroll down you see rating scores
and reviews, then it’s a Google+ Local Page. When local listings appear on Google Maps
or in Google Search, clicking on more info or on Google reviews will take you to a
Google+ Local Page. See Example Google+ Local Page.
3)
Analyze Competition. Check out the Google+ Local Pages of your competitors and note
their categories, keywords, description, photos, video, coupons, etc. Does their listing
contain good keywords? Your listing needs to be better than your competitors so print
out any really nice looking Google+ Local Pages of your competitors for ideas.
Example Google+ Local Page
Checklist - Create or Claim a Google+ Local Page
1)
Information Needed. Before starting you will need your Name Address Phone (NAP)
Profile and logo file, up to10 photos (including logo) and up to 5 videos on Youtube.
2)
Start the Create/Claim Process. Have you already claimed your Google+ Local Page?
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a.
Yes: Go to your Google places
Dashboard
. Login using the email you claimed
the business with. Skip rest of this checklist and go to next checklist “Optimizing
the Google+ Local Page” located immediately following this checklist.
b.
No: Go to next step.
c.
Don’t Know: Go to next step.
3)
What Google Account to Use. To proceed you need to login to a Google account, i.e. a
gmail account. I always recommend creating a unique Google account just for claiming
the Google+ Local Page. The reason is you may need to give other people access to this
account so its not good to use your personal Google account. To create a new Google
account if desired go to:
https://accounts.google.com/SignUp

4)
Find Any Existing Google+ Local Pages. Login to Google using your desired Google
account. Go to
http://maps.google.com/
On the left is a link that looks like this “Put
your
business on Google Maps
” - click this link. This brings up a search screen.
5)
Search by Phone Number. Enter the country and phone number of your business and
click the “Find Business Information” button.
6)
Existing Google+ Local Page. Do you see your business listed?
a.
Yes - Your business has a existing Google+ Local Page, possibly more than one. If
you see see several choices for your business click the “Edit” button for the best
choice. Go to the next checklist “Optimizing the Google+ Local Page.”
b.
No - Your business does not have an existing Google+ Local Page. Proceed to
create a new Google+ Local Page by filling in the information and saving. Then
go to the next checklist “Optimizing the Google+ Local Page.”
Checklist - Optimizing the Google+ Local Page
1)
Before Starting This Checklist. You should have either started a new or claimed an
existing Google+ Local Page. Bring up the page in edit mode and continue.
2)
Complete All Fields. Your Google+ Local Page must be 100% complete. Update all of
the fields in the Google+ Local Page. Below are my tips for completing your Google+
Local Page.
3)
Consistency. You want your business name, address and phone (NAP) info to be exactly
the same everywhere you are listed on the Internet. This consistency is very important,
so make sure the info entered here is exactly how it will be listed everywhere.
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4)
Company/Organization. This will be your page’s title and it should match the way your
business is known in the real world. Don’t use your city in your business name unless it’s
actually part of your company name.
5)
Business Address. Your address should be same as what Google shows in Google Maps.
Go to Google Maps and search for your business and use the address exactly how Google
shows it. Use an actual local address. Do not use a PO box.
6)
Hiding your address. If you have a home based business or for other reasons do not want
your location to be visible to the public, you can tell Google not to display your address
in your listing by checking the appropriate box during the set up process.
7)
Phone number. Enter a local phone number here. If you have an 800 number or other
additional numbers, add them by clicking the ‘Add more phone numbers’ link, but be
sure you list your local number first. A business landline is preferred. Again consistency
is crucial, your phone number must be the same everywhere on the Internet.
8)
Business Categories. The categories you choose are extremely important in determining
what local keywords Google considers your business most relevant for. You can choose
as many as 5 categories. Use a Google suggested category for first category. Check your
competition’s categories and use if appropriate. Category should be “what you do” not
“what you sell.” Use your keywords in additional categories. Don’t use location in
categories.
9)
Basic Information. Choose your service area by entering in cities, zip codes or radius per
the instructions. Don’t pick too large of an area as your competition will increase the
larger the service area to specify. Enter your business hours, payments, etc. Fill in all
boxes.
10)
Description. Up to 200 characters, cut and paste from NAP Profile. Avoid location terms
in your description. Google already knows where you are, so don't waste any of your 200
characters with location terms.
11)
Photo and Video Optimization. Use your best keywords in photo/video file names. Put
best of best keywords first. Geotag each photo/video with your business location. Use
photos/videos that show your value. For example, before and after photos are great for
remodeling companies.
12)
Coupons. Add new coupons monthly. Put your phone number in the coupon.
13)
All Done? Once you are done entering your business information, click submit and
prepare to validate ownership of your business.
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14)
Validation. Google requires you to validate that you are the business owner. This is done
either by phone or by snail mail using a postcard. Phone is much quicker but requires you
to be at the phone when you click the Finish button. Pick the method best for you and
validate your listing.
15)
Google Places Dashboard. Once you’ve created your Google+ Local Page you can go to
your dashboard to update your listing and to also see visitor traffic statistics. Go to this
link
http://www.google.com/local/add/businessCenter
to manage your page. You must be
logged into Google using the account you created/claimed the page with.
16)
One Location vs. Multiple. Don’t create more than one Google+ Local Page unless you
have multiple locations. If multiple, it is ok to create one page for each location. If more
than one Google+ Local Page already exists for a single business location you have a
problem that is difficult to fix. Click
here for detailed article
or contact me,
Allan Todd

for help.
17)
Be Patient. Congratulations, you claimed, created or updated your Google+ Local Page.
Now relax and wait while Google get around to applying your update. New Google+
Local pages will show up in about two weeks. It can take a couple of months for Google
to show updates to existing Google+ Local Pages. There is plenty to do while you wait
so continue reading.
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3.
Content
The goal of this section is to make certain the online content for your business is high quality
and updated on a regular basis. The result of this section is a strategy for creating content, hiring
writers and implementing processes for routinely adding great content to both your website and
other websites across the Internet.
3.1.
What is Content and Why is it Important
Google loves great content. There is a definite correlation between online content and
rankings. Google especially loves to boost businesses whose 1) websites are updated regularly
with great content and 2) is mentioned in fresh content elsewhere on the web.
What is content? Content is the textual, graphical, audio and video information contained
within your web pages and elsewhere online.
What is great content? It is content that is better than your competitors. It’s called by many
names: cornerstone content, epic content, exceptional content, linkbait and viral content. The
ultimate secret to online success is resonating with your audience better than your competition.
3.2.
Types of Website Content for Regular Updates
One of the most frequent questions I get from local business owner is “How do I keep my
website fresh, what content do I add on a regular basis?” The following checklist reveals my
favorite types of fresh content in order of preference.
Checklist - Types of Website Content for Regular Updates
1)
Blog Updates. My favorite way to keep a fresh supply of content flowing is to have a
blog on your website. I recommend updating your blog one to four times per month,
however more frequently is fine. Your articles should be at least 800 words long to
impress Google. It’s important to create regular, high quality blog articles so I
recommend hiring a writer, see checklist for “Hiring a Writer” later in this document.
2)
New Products, Offers and Discounts. If appropriate for you business, it is a good for
SEO to have a “What’s New” or “Sale Page” and occasionally add content about new
products, services, and offers. However this should not be your only type of content
updates.
3)
Video Updates. Create occasional videos and post to your blog and social media. Videos
are great content for blog updates. Videos do not have to be professionally created.
Business owners can make a simple video with their smartphone and an external
microphone. I have a checklist on “Creating Video Content” later in this section.
4)
Photo Updates. When creating blog updates, incorporate photos of the business, staff,
equipment, customers and any other subject related to the business.
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5)
FAQ Updates. Updating your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page is a great way to
improve your website visitors experience while also helping your SEO. Create and
regularly update a list of the questions you get asked by your customers. Include
keywords in the title and body of the FAQ. Write a comprehensive answers and post on
your website. Spread out FAQ updates over time if possible. It is also good to update
older FAQs to keep them fresh.
6)
SAQ Updates. SAQ’s are “should ask questions” that you wish your prospects and
customers would ask. They are the little nuances of your niche, the things you spent years
studying and refining after years of hard work, trial and error and working in the
trenches. They are the things people outside your industry don’t know that they don’t
know. SAQ’s automatically position you as a leader and expert. The biggest difference
between FAQs and SAQs is that when people hear your response to an SAQ, they will be
captivated by your knowledge, expertise, know-how and wisdom. (This SAQ concept is
courtesy of Mike Koenigs, online marketing guru.)
7)
User Generated Content. This is content your customers add to your site, or what you
add as a result of discussions with your audience. Examples are customer testimonials,
product reviews, photos, how to videos, etc. This type of content is the secret of many
successful sites like Yelp, Zappos, Youtube and many others.
8)
Long Articles. These can be white papers, case studies, how-to-guides, product tutorials
or webinars. A long article is typically an all-inclusive article about a topic. Google
loves long articles and visitors love to download them.
9)
Infographics. As of Spring 2013, infographics are a popular form of content being widely
used by businesses to simplify the display of information. I do not recommend
infographics for most local businesses as they are difficult to create. If your business has
complex processes then infographics are useful and appropriate content.
10)
Audio. Podcasts and similar types of audio are valuable for some businesses. These are
also difficult to create, but if your business is well suited to audio then it is great content.
3.3.
Brainstorm Content Topic Ideas
Ok so blogs, FAQs, videos, products, etc. are all valuable ways to add content. So what do
you write about? The following is a checklist of ways to brainstorm content ideas.
Checklist - Brainstorm Content Topic Ideas
1)
Define the interests of your audience. Create a description of the typical reader and write
down their interests, problems, etc. This should be updated regularly. Always try to put
yourself in the shoes of your audience when brainstorming content ideas.
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2)
Create a Content Idea Journal. Setup a place to jot down content ideas and keep it handy.
For example a notebook or smartphone. Ideas come at strange times and places. I keep a
list of topics and questions, like my own FAQ. As questions come to mind and I answer
them for my own benefit I am generating brilliant ideas for great content. Real-world
problems and solutions make great content.
3)
Titles and Headlines. Spend time creating magnetic headlines and link captions. You only
have seconds to capture the interest of distracted web surfers.
4)
Content Blogs. There are dozens of blogs about creating killer content and driving traffic
to blogs. A couple of these are really awesome, here are my favorites in priority order.
1)
Copyblogger -
www.copyblogger.com
2)
The Sales Lion -
www.thesaleslion.com
3)
Boost Blog Traffic -
http://boostblogtraffic.com
5)
Below is a list of places I look for ideas for content:
a.
Keywords. Search using your keywords and get ideas from the results. Search
for “how to + keywords”, “what is + keywords”, “blogs for + keywords.” Try the
same types of searches at Youtube.com.
b.
Google Suggest. Notice how Google often completes your sentences in the search
bar? This is called Google Suggest and it is Google suggesting popular search
terms for you. Try searching on your keywords and see what Google Suggest
offers. These terms are often great ideas for content. Go to
http://ubersuggest.org

for a super speedy way to use Google Suggest.
c.
Customer Demographics. Write useful tips based on your customer’s
demographics. For example, “Seven things to consider if divorcing over 65”.
d.
Audience Problems. Write about solutions to your customers problems.
e.
News. How is your business related to current events.
f.
Tips. Write articles such as “Seven tips for using <keyword>.” People love the
numbered list of tips style articles. Beyond lists, what’s your biggest tip - that one
thing you would tell a newbie to your niche? What advice could you offer to your
prospects to help them be more efficient, get superior results, save money, save
time, be more fashionable, better looking....
g.
Tutorials. Your most qualified prospects love to learn about your products and
services. (Thats why
you are
reading this ebook right?) Make them happy by
posting a “How To” tutorial every now and then.
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h.
SAQs. Mentioned earlier under types of content. Creating answers to Should Ask
Questions (SAQ) make great blog articles and videos.
i.
Resource Recap. You don't have to create all the content yourself, gather together
the best resources from your niche and link to them from one place could be very
valuable content.
j.
Similar and Related Blogs. Read blogs related to your business for ideas. Read
your competitor’s blog (in other cities) for same reason. Find blogs similar to your
at
http://www.google.com/blogsearch
and at
http://technorati.com
.
k.
Seasonal Topics. Write about your business in light of the current season or
holiday.
l.
Things to do. Write about things to do in your local area. Tie into your business if
possible but not always necessary. People love things to do articles.
m.
Before/After. Write before/after stories related to your business. Especially good
for home repair, auto repair, fitness businesses. Include photos.
n.
Case Studies. Write a case study about a project or service that you have
completed.
o.
Controversial Articles. Writing controversial articles can be a powerful content
tool. Tips: No mud-slinging. Question the thoughts of others, not their morals.
Don’t be a high and mighty know it all.
p.
Repurposed Content. Take some content you already have and create some new
related content about it. For example make a video about an article, or make a
infographic about an article, or write a summary of longer content you already
have. This
article has great ideas for repurposing content
.
q.
Regulatory Bodies. Write about regulations affecting your business, i.e.
Obamacare.
r.
Curate Other People’s Content. Find great articles and write a summary throwing
in your opinions. Report interesting news about your niche with your voice and
thoughts. Tip: don’t simply repeat others people stuff, add your unique viewpoint.
6)
Recommended Kindle Book. This book has some good content ideas and is free for
Amazon Prime members.
How to Write Great Blog Posts that Engage Readers
3.4.
Creating a Content Plan
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The first step in almost any activity is the plan. Fail to plan and you plan to fail. You will
need a roadmap of the type of content, frequency and timing of publishing, and the goal of the
content.
Checklist - Creating a Content Plan
1)
Frequency. How often should you publish content? The goal is to publish fresh content
on a regular basis. How often and when depends on several factors including your
budget, availability of time and labor and the competitiveness of your keywords in local
search. Here are my thoughts on frequency and timing.
a.
First look at your top ranked competition and see how often they update their
websites. Use as a guide for what you might need to do.
b.
Daily or several times a week is very aggressive for SEO purposes. This is best if
you are in a very competitive market and you have the time/budget for content
creation.
c.
Weekly is a good rate for most local businesses, particularly if the competition is
not more energetic.
d.
Monthly or bi-monthly is fine for many local businesses. Any less frequently and
Google may not consider your site very vibrant or valuable.
2)
Content Calendar. I recommend using a calendar format for your content plan. This
helps you include holidays, seasons and local events in your content plan and can even
help you write to the seasonal mood of your readers.
3)
Theme Grouping. Once you understand the topics that are of most interest to your
audiences, consider scheduling your content around a particular theme each month. This
will give your content an organized feeling and allows you to include teasers for the next
blog post, tempting readers to come back.
4)
Timing. Think about what days are best for publishing your content. Many businesses
publish during mid-week. I like Tuesdays for blog updates. Thursdays are good for
restaurants and nightlife businesses.
5)
Responsibility. Clearly show who is responsible for creating and publishing the content
on the content calendar.
6)
Content Cleanup. Not really a content creation item but you should put a recurring task
on your content calendar to review and maintain your content to include freshening up
outdated copy, removing broken links, deleting obsolete articles and discontinued
products and/or services.
3.5.
Hiring a Writer
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It is simple to hire a writer, though finding the right writer for you can take a little time.
Unless you or someone on your staff is good, dependable writer I recommend hiring a writer.
Your writer does not have to be local but its good to have them in a convenient time zone.
Checklist - Hiring a Writer
1)
Hire a Competent, Experienced Writer. You need great content so you must either 1) find
a writer in house or 2) hire a qualified writer. In house writers would be nice however, it
is often difficult to find someone in house who can write well or has the time to write. I
look for writers with the following characteristics:
a.
Experienced writing for your industry
b.
Knowledgeable in basic SEO for content
c.
Proven track record of interesting content on a regular basis
d.
Skills with popular web content software such as Wordpress, Joomla, etc.
2)
Where to Hire a Writer. I hire freelance writers off the popular job boards where
experienced writers post their resumes and look for work. My favorite job boards are:
a.
Elance.com -
www.elance.com

b.
Odesk.com -
www.odesk.com
c.
Craigslist.org -
www.craigslist.org

3)
Research Writers. Go to the sites listed above and research the writers’ online profiles.
This will give you an idea of what caliber of writers are available.
4)
Be Choosy. I hire only native english speaking authors who reside in the USA with
proven track records. However other English speaking countries have great writers too,
you just need to make sure they use American English.
5)
Create a Writing Task Description. You should start the hiring process by writing down a
task description for your writer. Include everything you know about your writing
requirements including topic, target audience, frequency, length of articles, where to post
and website software requirements, i.e. content management systems such as Wordpress
or Joomla.
6)
Start with a Couple Test Articles. When you have found a prospective writer or two that
you want to try, start by hiring them to write two to four articles for your business. I
usually test 2-3 writers for my SEO clients and run their content past the business owner,
and hire the best one.
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7)
Hiring for Long Term. In my experience writers love to be hired to write on a regular
basis for a long term. They will often become intimately familiar with the subject matter
as they write and the quality will improve. Also some writers will give discounts for
regular work.
8)
Things to Avoid. Here are some things to look out for when hiring writers off the job
boards
a.
Writers offering cheap $10 articles. This type of content is usually a re-hash of
someone else’s content.
b.
Content Mills. These are websites where you post your keywords and get five
article in an hour. This content is usually uninteresting with no new ideas.
c.
Writers in Non-English Speaking Countries. There are definitely exceptions to
this rule, however be sure to test and monitor writers you hire from India,
Philippines, etc.
3.6.
Publishing Content on Other Websites
Who is talking about you? What are they saying? Who is linking to you? Remember, Google
loves great content about your business from across the Internet. Creating content for publishing
on other websites is a great way to encourage Google to love you.
Checklist - Publishing Content on Other Websites
1)
Get a Link or Mention. Quick note here, the following steps are about publishing your
content on other websites. In all cases you want to make sure you get a link to your
website or mention of your NAP. More on link building later.
2)
Guest Blogging. Blog owners/writers are always looking for guest bloggers. Research
local blogs and try to arrange writing an article. Most bloggers have guest blogger rules
pages.
3)
Interviews. Try to get interviewed by popular local websites, blogs, newspapers, etc.
4)
Reviews. You can post reviews on Amazon and other websites, establishing yourself as a
thought leader in your industry. Reviewing books on Amazon get high visibility.
5)
Content Association. When facilitating content for other websites, try to get your
keywords and your business name in the content. While Google is indexing the web and
it stumbles across your business name, it will associate the keyword topics near your
business name to your business website. For example if you own a beauty salon and a
newspaper article about “Colorado Springs” and “best beauty salons” includes a mention
of your business name, your business will receive a boost for the keyword topic
“Colorado Springs best beauty salons.” This happens even if no link or mention of your
business NAP is in the article.
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3.7.
Video Content
Video content is valuable for SEO, especially in Youtube which is the 2nd most popular place
to search. Videos improve your website “stickiness” which is known to boost rankings. Videos
are great content for your website, Guest Blogging, your Google+ Page, Facebook and other
websites where video is viewed.
The purpose of this section is to help you understand the different types of video format,
content and places to post video. I recommend every business have video as part of their content
plan, not just for SEO but to improve the quality and engagement of your website and social
media.
Checklist - Video Content
1)
Brochure Video. All local businesses need what I call a Brochure Video. This is a short
video that answers these questions: 1) who is this company, 2) what products/services are
offered, 3) where are they located and 4) why are they better than the local competition.
2)
Types of Video. There are many types of video, and some are easier than others to
produce.
a.
Slide shows. Think exporting a power point to video. Easy to do. Search for
Animoto.com
and
ProShow Gold
.
b.
Camera. Do I really need to explain this one?
c.
Animations. Really amazing tools are available. Used to present products and
services. Search for
GoAnimate.com
and
Aniboom.com
d.
Screen capture. Recording the computer screen and audio of operator talking.
Quick and easy to make once you learn software.
3)
Types of Video Content. Below are ideas for what content to put in videos. Keep in mind
you want videos to weave in your geographical location, business name and Cash
Phrases.
a.
Educational & Tutorial. Popular and easy to make. Great for SEO. You are
perceived as an expert.
b.
Question/Answer. Powerful and easy to make. Often overlooked.
c.
Customer Testimonials. Very believable form of social proof.
d.
Employee Testimonials. Good for conveying authenticity and quality.
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e.
Interviews. Good for quick, natural sounding content. Requires introduction,
interesting questions, and a strong conclusion.
f.
Storytelling. Good for inspiring or conveying values and heartfelt content. Good
for “why” content about a business. Can be time consuming to create script.
g.
Events. If you organize or attend an event, make a video about it. Great blog
content.
h.
Video Contests. Get your customers to make video by organizing a video contest.
You will need rules, timeframe, prize and what kind of video can be submitted.
4)
Where to Post Videos. For SEO purposes, your website and Youtube are the two most
important places for video content. There are dozens of other places to post video content
and there are services that will post it for you. Check out
www.trafficgeyser.com
5)
Book of Tips for Making Your Own Videos. Look for this great Kindle Book on Amazon:

101 Video Marketing Tips and Strategies for Small Business
” by Lasse Rouhiainen.
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4.
Website Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
This section is about making your website Google Friendly which means your website will
give Google everything possible to help it understand what your website is about and therefore
reward you with top ranking.
Essentially website SEO for your website for Local Search can be broken out into two
subcategories: 1) Relevant Content and 2) Technical SEO.
4.1.
Relevant Content
Relevance is the degree to which your website content matches the intent of a searcher’s
keywords. Your website content must be considered by Google to be relevant for a particular
keyword in order to rank for that term. You typically will not rank for non-relevant terms.
Therefore you must always be thinking about “creating content for relevance” when placing
content on your website. Each marketing oriented page of your website must be focused on a
keyword topic. Think of your Cash Phrases as a focused keyword topic. Google will visit each
page of your website and attempt to determine 1) what your website is about and 2) what is each
individual page about. To get a top rank you must make it very easy for Google to figure out
what keywords and topics your website and its individual pages are all about.
Checklist - Writing for Relevance
1)
Write for Humans. The following steps in this checklist are going emphasize using your
keywords in your content, which is good. But remember you are writing for human
readers. While writing for relevance for SEO is all good, your content must be naturally
written and interesting to humans.
2)
Create Separate Pages for Each Keyword Category and/or Cash Phrase. For most
websites you will want to have one or more individual pages about each of the Keyword
Categories and/or Cash Phrases. For example, after performing Keyword Discovery a
family law attorney might need separate pages for divorce, separation, dissolution,
property division, paternity, child support, child custody, adoption, etc.
3)
Check Out Your Competition. Read though all the steps below then go look at your high
ranking competition web sites. Keep in mind your competition must be doing something
right to rank high so try to gleam ideas from them for your website as you do the
following steps.
4)
Page Relevancy and Focus. Make certain that each page of your website contains
relevant and focused textual content about a Keyword/Cash Phrase. Don’t dilute
individual web pages with multiple topics. Make separate pages for separate topics.
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5)
Keyword Density. Do not over stuff keywords into a page. Make the page sound natural
while you keep it focused on the keyword topic. Usually using the keywords 3-5 times is
enough. Don’t focus on keyword density, this can lead to poorly written pages that do
not interest people.
6)
Synonyms and Variations. Use synonyms for the target keywords if you can. A page
about Divorce Attorney could use the keywords “divorce attorney”, “divorce lawyer” and
“divorce law” and still keep the page focused and relevant.
7)
Keywords in the H1, H2 thru H6 Tags. Include your Keyword/Cash Phrase in these
important SEO tags. The H1 Tag is the main heading for each webpage. Put your most
import keywords in the H1 tag as best you can while still keeping the heading interesting
and understandable to a human. The H1 tag is visible to the viewer and you want it to
appear at the top of the webpage. Use only one H1 tag per page. The H2, H3, H4 thru H6
tags are subheading on the page and can be used as often as desired to create great page
content.
8)
Keyword Location on Page. Put your Keyword/Cash Phrase near the beginning, in the
middle and near the end of the page. I like to include my most important keywords in the
first and last sentence of the page.
9)
Use Bold Text. If it can be done without negative impact on the readability of a page, I
like to bold the first occurrence of the Keyword/Cash Phrase on the page. I will usually
include bolding a longer phrase than just the keywords so it is natural sounding.
10)
Keywords in Internal Links. It is important to link your individual web pages together
using the keywords as the anchor text. Link to other pages on your site as naturally as
you can. Link fairly early in the body copy and use natural and relevant anchor text that
includes keywords. Don’t overuse keywords in anchor text. I like to link blog articles
together and also link blog articles to the main topic pages of the website.
4.2.
Technical SEO
Your website must be intentionally made to be Google Friendly by using technical SEO
methods. Most of these methods are one-time and require web hosting and HTML skills, so you
might want to send the checklists to your webmaster.
Checklist - Technical SEO Methods
1)
Domain Name Optimization. Do the following to optimize your domain name
registration:
a.
Ensure your domain registration address matches your business physical address.
b.
Register your domain for 5+ years. Google likes commitment.
c.
Include keywords in your domain name.
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2)
Robots.txt file. This is the first file that the search engines visit on your website. You use
this file to tell the search engines what to ignore (i.e. not index or spider) on your website.
Most websites do not even need this file. However, check with your techies to make sure.
If you’ve got some private areas on your website put them in this file to keep those nosy
search engines out.
3)
Redirect non-www to www. To boost SEO you only want one URL for your website,
either with www or without but not both. I recommend if a visitor types in just your
domain with out the www (i.e. yourdomain.com) you want your website to redirect to the
www version (www.yourdomain.com). Your webmaster will know how to do this.
4)
Implement Canonical Pages. Frequently a single web page can have multiple URLs that
point to it. This is common in Content Management Systems like Wordpress and Joomla
and ecommerce sites. This can confuse Google so you need implement what is called a
Canonical Page to tell Google the URL to use and ignore others. To do this you need the
implement the Canonical Tag on your website.
5)
Keywords in URLs. It helps SEO to use keywords in the URLs of your website. This is
called Search Engine Friendly URLs. I recommend using the dash character to separate
the keywords in the URLs.
6)
Keywords in the Title Tag. Every web page on your site has a one Title Tag. It is
extremely important to include the Keyword/Cash Phrase for the page in the title tag. I
also recommend including your business name or brand at the end of the title tag. Do not
exceed 70 characters in this tag.
7)
Write a “Teaser” Meta Description Tag. While not important to boost SEO the contents of
the Meta Description Tag are often used by Google in the Search Engine Results Page
(SERP). This short sentence is your opportunity to hook searchers and attract them to
click on your website. Keep the description to under 155 characters.
1)
Keywords in the Keyword Meta Tag. The keyword meta tag does not boost SEO
however I like to include the Keyword/Cash Phrase in this tag as a reminder of the
specific keywords being targeted by the page.
8)
Keywords in Image Alt Text. Include the Keyword/Cash Phrase keywords the alt text for
each image on a web page. Vary the keywords used in different images on the page.
9)
Keywords in image file names. Include keywords in the file names of your image and
video media files. Put the most important keywords near the front of the file names.
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10)
Put hCard tags on the home page. The hCard tag labels information on your web page to
help Google understand the information. There are hCards for phone number, address,
city, zip, etc. I recommend including business name, address and phone (NAP) in hCard
format at the bottom of the home page. Reminder consistency is crucial, NAP must be an
exact match to Google+ Local Page and your other local directory place page listings.
See this
video tutorial on creating hCards
.
11)
Speed test and speed optimization. Google favors websites that display quickly. You need
to test your website for speed. Go to this link for a great tool for website speed testing:
http://www.webpagetest.org
This site gives your website a letter grade (i.e. A is best, F is
failing) in several speed categories. You want a grade of A or B in each area. If your site
is failing these speed tests, you need to work with your web technical staff to fix the
speed problems. Here are some common speed tactics most sites should use.
a.
Optimize images for fast download. Here are some tools:
Smush.it
,
Online Image
Optimizer
,
SuperGIF
b.
Use gzip and a caching method
.
c.
Compress CSS and and Javascript.
d.
Don’t use nested tables or inline styles.
12)
Create a Geo Sitemap. For local oriented businesses create a geo sitemap and KML file
for the website and upload the files to the website’s root folder. This site makes it easy:
http://www.geositemapgenerator.com
More info:
https://developers.google.com/kml/
documentation/kml_tut
13)
Google Analytics (GA). You need to track your website analytics i.e. your web visitor
traffic and visitor behavior. There are many tools for this but I recommend using Google
Analytics, which is free. Go to the GA page and get the codes to put on every page of
your website. Here is the link to GA:
http://www.google.com/analytics
14)
Google Webmaster Tools (GWT). You need to set up your website with GWT. Go to the
Google Webmaster Tools
website, sign in with your Google Account – preferably the one
you are used for GA (see previous step). Click the red Add a Site button to begin. Follow
the instruction to verify site ownership.
15)
Create a Webpage Sitemap. Create a Google approved sitemap and submit using Google
Webmaster Tools (GWT). Check status in GWT regularly. There are many ways to create
sitemaps and if website is built using a Content Management System (CMS) such as
Wordpress or Joomla there are plugins that create the sitemap. You can get a site map
built for any website here:
http://www.xml-sitemaps.com
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16)
Social Media and Bookmarking Icons. Ensure that attractive icons to your social media
sites are on each page of your site. For most businesses this includes Facebook, Twitter
and Google+ Local but there many others (Linkedin, Pinterest, etc.). If you have a great
blog include a RSS icon and social bookmarking. See
http://www.addthis.com
17)
Include a Map to Your Business. If it is appropriate to place a map to your business on
your website, I recommend getting the map code for embedding your Google Local Plus
listing directly from Google. Embed the Google Map on your website, preferably on the
home page and “Contact Us” page for extra Google love.
18)
Use Responsive Design. This is for mobile and tablet friendliness. A website that uses
responsive design will automatically sense the size of the device being used to view the
website and automatically adjust the content for easier viewing on smaller devices. This
means that you only need one website for all devices which helps mobile SEO. More one
this later in the section Mobile Friendly.
19)
Do Not Submit to Google. Google wants to find your site via links from other sites. If
you ever receive emails offering to submit your site to thousands of search engines, avoid
these offers like the plague.
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5.
Citations
The purpose of this section is to claim existing and/or create new citations in the best
websites for your business. The result of this section is a complete and search optimized
collection of citations for your business. These citations will help Google understand and give
creditability to your business, which helps Google endow your business with top rankings.
5.1.
What are Citations and Why are They Important
A citation is any reference to your business out on the web, with or without a link. A citation
usually includes your business name and your phone number, address, website, or a combination
of the three. Just a mention of your phone number is a citation. For example, a listing in Yahoo
Local is a citation. So is a listing in your local BBB or Chamber of Commerce websites.
Citations are very important for ranking in Google's local search results. The more citations
you have from quality sources, the better your website’s ranking.
Citations are extra important in small business niches (like plumbing or electrical) where the
business may not have a website. The search engines rely heavily citations to validate the
business.
5.2.
Getting Citations
Getting citations is a mostly manual process with a few automated citation services. With
manual citations you have to go out on the web and either claim existing citations or create new
ones. Automated citations are obtained through “aggregators” that distribute or feed your
information to multiple citation directories. Obtaining citations is an on-going process, you need
to get the best ones first. Then over time you need to continually add new citations.
Checklist for Getting Citations
1)
Grab Your NAP Profile. The first step is to get your NAP Profile in front of you. You
will be cutting/pasting information from it during the following steps.
2)
Business Categories. Most of the citation sources, including Google, Yahoo, Best of the
Web and Bing allow you to label your business in a number of categories (usually
between 2 and 5). The categories are extremely important for top ranking. For each
citation you must: 1) fill in the maximum categories available, 2) pick the best categories
for your business and 3) try to use your keywords in the categories.
3)
Check for Existing Citations. If your business is not new and/or you’ve had a business
phone number for a while, there is a good chance you already have some citations on the
Internet. Check your current citations in the major directories here:
GetListed.org
This
website will give you a list of existing and needed citations. Go though the list and claim
and optimize each citation source as each one is on my list of most important citations
which is coming up in the next step.
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4)
Best Citations First. Create and/or claim the citations at each of the websites shown in
the table Most Important Local Citations. These are the big dogs and are a “must-get” for
almost every business type.
5)
Citation Velocity. This is the speed at which you accumulate citations. You want to get
citations slowly and steadily over time. You want a consistent velocity, not a flood. Don’t
submit a large number at once as this looks like spam to Google. Submit a couple a week,
consistently.
6)
Get Local Citations. There are often local citations sources that you should get. These
vary by city or area of the country. So a Google search on “directory” + your location.
Use you knowledge of the local business community to find these citation sources, then
research next. See the next step for a helpful research tool.
7)
Research More Local Citations in Your Area. Research local citation sources by using
the
Whitespark Local Citation Finder
to help you find the best local directories for your
business. This tool is a competitive analysis tool for citations. It finds the businesses that
are ranking locally, then finds their citations. So it can help you understand the
competitions’ citation building strategies by showing you where they are getting citations.
8)
Don’t use Citation Building Services. There are shady business listing services out there
that will create listings on dozens, or sometimes hundreds, of additional domains when
you submit to one. This can create a massive link spike from low quality directory sites
and actually hurt your rankings. Do use these services.
9)
Use the Exact NAP in all Citations. I know I’ve said this already too much but it is worth
repeating, make sure all citations use the exact same name, address and phone (NAP) for
your business. Right down to the abbreviations for streets.
10)
Links for Citations Articles. The following articles are great sources for citations.
a.
www.getlisted.org/resources/local-citations-by-category.aspx
b.
www.searchengineland.com/top-50-citation-sources-for-uk-us-local-
businesses-104938
c.
www.yext.com/blog/2012/09/the-most-important-local-business-directories-for-
seo
d.
www.ngsmarketing.com/best-local-seo-local-search-articles-2012
e.
www.ngsmarketing.com/local-citation-building-study-part-2-what-pros-think
f.
www.brightlocal.com/seo-tools/citation-tracker
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5.1.
Get the Most Important Citations First
Here is my definitive list of the most important citations. Get these first. But not all at once,
get a couple a week until you’re through the list. Remember to check your Citation status at
GetListed.org
first.
Checklist for The Most Important Citations
1)
Google+ Local -
plus.google.com/local
(you did this in Step 2 above)
2)
Yelp.com -
www.yelp.com

3)
Bing Local -
www.bing.com/local
4)
Yahoo Local -
local.yahoo.com
5)
Express Update -
www.expressupdateusa.com
(aggregator for many citations)
6)
Localeze -
www.localeze.com
(aggregator for many citations)
7)
Acxiom -
www.mybusinesslistingmanager.com
(aggregator for many citations)
8)
Universal Business Listing (UBL) -
www.ubl.org
(aggregator for many citations)
9)
Yellow Pages (YP.com) -
www.yellowpages.com
10)
Superpages.com -
www.superpages.com
11)
Citysearch -
www.citysearch.com
12)
insiderpages -
www.insiderpages.com
13)
White Pages -
www.whitepages.com
14)
Better Business Bureau (BBB) -
www.bbb.org
15)
FourSquare.com -
www.foursquare.com
16)
Manta -
www.manta.com
17)
MerchantCircle.com -
merchantcircle.com
18)
Brown Book -
www.brownbook.net
19)
Hotfrog -
www.hotfrog.com
20)
Local.com -
www.local.com
21)
City Squares -
citysquares.com
22)
Kudzu -
www.kudzu.com
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23)
Tupalo -
tupalo.com
24)
Best of the Web Local -
local.botw.org/helpcenter/getlistedorg.aspx
25)
Chamber of Commerce -
www.chamberofcommerce.com
26)
DexKnows -
www.dexknows.com
27)
Nokia (Here.com Prime Places) -
here.com/primeplaces/
28)
Zip Local -
www.ziplocal.com
29)
Magic Yellow -
www.magicyellow.com
5.2.
Industry Citation Sources
After you’ve worked through the most important local citations above, you can start working
through other sources of citations such as category or industry oriented directories. These
directories often have substantial brands awareness and marketing budgets to drive traffic, so
they help boost your SEO.
This page is a great source for US citations sources by category, start your research here:
www.getlisted.org/resources/local-citations-by-category.aspx
The following table contains the top industry citations sources that I am aware of. Be sure to
search Google for “best directories for <your industry>” to find more sources.
Table - Industry Specific Citation Sources
Table - Industry Specific Citation Sources
Contractors &
Construction
www.bbb.org
,
www.servicemagic.com
,
www.dexknows.com
,
www.superpages.com
,
www.angieslist.com, www.
judysbook.com
Health Care
www.healthgrades.com
,
www.health.usnews.com
,
www.doctor.webmd.com
Directory of directories:
www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/directories.html
Insurance
www.indeed.com
,
www.insuranceagentref.com
Lawyers
www.avvo.com
,
www.findlaw.com
,
www.justia.com
,
www.lawyers.com
,
www.nolo.com
,
www.legalmatch.com
,
www.superlawyers.com
,
www.lawyercentral.com
,
www.lawinfo.com
,
www.bestlawyers.com
,
www.ChambersAndPartners.com
Employment
www.indeed.com
, www.simplyhired.com, aerotek.com
Restaurants, Bars
www.yelp.com
,
www.urbanspoon.com
,
www.tripadvisor.com
,
www.facebook.com
,
www.citysearch.com
,
www.opentable.com
5.3.
Getting More Citations Over Time
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You need to get citations continually over time. The following checklist is a list of ideas for
citations to get in the future. Set this section aside for a couple months until you have completed
claiming and optimizing the citation in the above paragraphs.
Checklist for Getting Citations Over Time
1)
Yourcityname.com - Most cities, towns and counties have websites. Often these are a
great place to try and get a citation. For example, denver.com, coloradosprings.com, etc.
The website
http://www.mlive.com
(Michigan Live) is a great citation source for
Michigan businesses.
2)
Competitors Citations. Use the following website to find your competitions citations and
try to get any appropriate for your business.
http://www.domain-pop.com
3)
Youtube.com Videos. When you publish videos always include your NAP in the textual
description of the video.
4)
Local Oriented Directories and Websites. Research the following websites to find local
directories and websites where you could possibility get a citation in your city or county.
a.
http://botw.org/top/Regional/United_States/
b.
http://dir.yahoo.com/regional/u_s__states/
c.
Whitespark Local Citation Finder
(mentioned earlier)
5)
Local Blogs. Include your NAP anytime you do a posting on a blog external to your
website. For example posting in newspaper blogs, local event websites, schools,
government, etc.
6)
Industry Directories and Websites. Look for citations at websites that are about your
topics and keywords. For example, the membership directory of your trade organization,
or a blog that is popular among readers in your industry. Search Google for “[your
industry] directory” or “[your keyword] directory” for possible citations sources. Here is
a good source for industry directories:
http://www.macraesbluebook.com
(click Get
Listed link).
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6.
Reviews
Customer reviews are a key factor in achieving top rankings. The purpose of this section is
to get a steady stream of customer reviews for your business. The result of this section is
implementation of a process for getting reviews for your business.
6.1.
What are Reviews and Why are they Important
Reviews are evaluations of your business left online by your customers. Reviews are usually
a paragraph or two long and often include a rating score such as Five-Stars.
Reviews are a very important ranking factor to Google Local Search. The amount and rating
scores of reviews in Google+ Local, Yelp and other sites has been proven to affect rankings in
the Seven-Pack and on mobile devices.
You need to get customer reviews on social media, the major search engines, yellow page
directories, local websites and possibly industry review sites, if appropriate for your business.
6.2.
Create a Process for Getting Reviews
For most businesses it is a challenge to get customers to leave reviews. Local businesses
must therefore have a Customer Review Request Process in place and use it routinely.
Checklist - Customer Review Request Process
1)
Most Important Review Sites. Make a list of the 5 - 10 most important review sites for
your business. Do not limit your review sites, Google gives a boost to businesses with
reviews from a variety of different websites.
2)
The Top Review Sites. At a minimum, most local businesses should use the following top
customer review websites:
a.
Social Media: Google+ Local, Yelp.com & Facebook
b.
Search Engines: Bing Local & Yahoo Local
c.
Yellow Page Listings: SuperPages.com & YP.com
d.
Directories: CitySearch.com
e.
Local Websites: Varies by City, do a search on “city-name review websites”
3)
Stalk Your Competition. Check out your competition on the above review sites. Do they
have a lot of reviews? Where are the reviews from? Try to get reviews where your top
ranked competitors are getting reviews.
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4)
Create/Claim Review Pages. The review sites give businesses a place page listing which
contains information about your business. This listing is where customers leave reviews.
Most of the review websites are also citations sources so you probably have already
created/claimed your important review sites.
5)
Optimize Review Listings. Make sure each review listing has complete information on
your business. Most likely you did this earlier in the Citations step.
6)
Review Page on Your Website. Make it easy for your customers to leave you a review by
creating a page on your website that links to your list of favorite review sites. Sort the
list in order or importance to your business. Usually I list the Google Local Plus Page
first with Yelp second on the list. For tourist businesses TripAdvisor might be first.
7)
Ask for Reviews. You must ask your happy customers for a review. Timing varies but I
recommend asking within a week or two of providing the service or product. Send them
to your Review Page on your website to leave the review.
8)
Use Email to Ask for Reviews. For many businesses you can email your happy customer
to ask for a review. Include the link to the Review Page in the email. Follow up two
times asking for the review, but make sure they have not already left a review before you
follow up. See exhibit “Example Request for a Review Email #1.”
9)
Email Signature. Include links to your review listings in your email signature line.
10)
Print Out of Instructions. Where email is not appropriate to ask for a review, create a
card or paper with instructions for how to leave your business a review.
11)
Reviews on the Spot. For many businesses it is a good idea to try and get a review via
the customer’s smartphone while the customer is in your business. Display a QR code
around your business where the customer can see it and scan it and leave a quick review.
This is especially good for Google+ Local and Yelp. Do not put a PC in your business
for custom reviews. Google will detect this and spank you in the Seven-Pack.
12)
Ask Facebook Friends & Fans. Ask your Facebook friends and/or post on your business
page to leave you a review on CitySearch, Insider Pages, YP.com and even Yahoo. You
can log in to these sites with Facebook.
13)
Review Velocity. This is the speed at which you accumulate reviews. You want to get
reviews slow and steadily over time. You want a consistent velocity, not a flood.
14)
Create a System. To get a steady stream of reviews continually coming in you need to
formalize a system for asking for reviews. I train my clients to send the email requesting
a review within a week then follow up in 7 and 14 days.
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15)
Grow Quantity Slow and Steady. Many businesses are gung-ho at first asking for
reviews, then the energy fades. Make asking for reviews part of the weekly routine for
your business. Slow and consistent is natural to Google. Fast and bursty is not. When
you have 100’s or 1000’s of reviews, people know that can’t all be fabricated. When they
see a business with 2-3 reviews they are doubtful and the reviews don’t really help.
16)
No-no’s. Google has stiff penalties including removal of all reviews and other penalties
that can kill your Google+ Local Plus Page rankings. Below are things not to do as part
of your customer review request process:
a.
Asking for a review is ok, paying or other form of soliciting reviews is a no-no.
Do not offer customers discounts, prizes or free stuff for leaving a review.
b.
Putting a computer in your business for customer reviews is a no-no.
Customers creating reviews on their cell phones in your business is ok. Google
may punish you if it sees multiple reviews from the same IP address.
c.
Outsource Reviews. There are companies that will claim to help you with
“online reputation management.” Many of these firms simply create bogus
reviews on search engine and yellow pages sites. This is bad. Do not hire these
companies.
d.
No fake reviews. Do not review yourself. Do not buy reviews. Do not have
employees leave reviews.
Checklist - Most Important Review Sites
1)
Google+ Local -
plus.google.com/local
(you did this in Step 2 above)
2)
Yelp.com -
www.yelp.com
3)
Yahoo Local -
local.yahoo.com
4)
Citysearch -
www.citysearch.com
5)
insiderpages -
www.insiderpages.com
6)
Yellow Pages (YP.com) -
www.yellowpages.com
7)
Superpages -
www.superpages.com
8)
Bing Local -
www.bing.com/local
9)
Better Business Bureau -
http://www.BBB.org
10)
Contractors, Home Services
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a.
Judy’s Book -
www.judysbook.com
b.
Angie’s List -
www.Angieslist.com
c.
Service Magic -
www.Servicemagic.com

11)
Hospitality, Travel, Restaurants, Tourism biggies
a.
TripAdvisor -
www.tripadvisor.com
b.
UrbanSpoon -
www.urbanspoon.com
c.
Zagats.com -
www.zagats.com
d.
Open Table -
www.opentable.com
Exhibit - Example Request for a Review - Email #1
Email Subject: <business name> needs your help
Dear <Customer Name>,
Thanks again for doing business with <business name>. I hope that you are
doing well.
I invite you to submit a review about your experience with <business name>
that would benefit other customers.
Your input will help others choose the best <business type> for them.
We are finding that on-line reviews are becoming an important part of our
business. Would you take a minute to write us a review?
It s a pretty simple process since we have a
listing on all the major
review websites
including Google, Yelp, City Search, Insider Pages, YP.com
and others.
Click here
find links to our social media review listings
to leave us a
review.
Reviews on social media are very important to our business. We welcome and
appreciate your informative and insightful review.
Kind Regards,
<business owner name>
PS: Click
here now
to leave us a review
. It will only take a couple
minutes. Thank you!
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6.3.
Handling a Bad Review
If your business gets a bad review on social media it is important to respond quickly. First of
all, stay cool fool and do not over react. Do not be argumentative and do not be defensive. I
recommend you apologize in the public comments area. Explain the steps you will take to
prevent the situation from happening again. Thank the reviewer for providing the feedback.
Then contact the offended customer via a private message and ask questions if you need
clarification. This make them feel listened too and feel like you care. Then if legitimate offer a
remedy such as a discount or an exchange. Many reviewers (especially Yelp’ers) update two-
and three-star reviews to four- and five-star reviews after being contacted by the business owner.
Bad reviews can actually help your business if you publicly respond quickly, professionally
and with the resolution to the problem. This shows current and future customers that you care
about your customers and your business's online reputation.
You should view legitimate criticism about your business as free market research. You can
get ideas about how your procedures, operations and employee-training can be improved.
Monitor your business name so you are alerted when new reviews appear. Create a Google
Alert to monitor all online mentions of your your business. This will notify you when new
reviews pop up on the internet. Go here to create alerts:
http://www.google.com/alerts
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7.
Inbound Links
The purpose of this section is to acquire inbound links to your business website from related
and respected websites. The result of this section is 1) getting links from my list of standard
inbound links and 2) implementing a process of getting additional inbound links from respected
websites over time. Links to your website are very important to achieving top rankings.
7.1.
What are Inbound Links and Why are they Important
An inbound link is simply a link from a website to your website. For example, if your local
newspaper or chamber of commerce were to link to your home page, that is an inbound link.
Not just any inbound link will do, you need to get links from websites 1) that are related to
your keywords and 2) that Google respects. Inbound links that do not meet these two criteria are
worthless to SEO.
The best kind of links are “natural” which means the link was given voluntarily because your
website has valuable content. Google want to endow top rankings on web pages with exceptional
content. Inbound links are a major factor in helping Google identify great content.
The worse kinds of links are “un-natural” which means the link was not given because of
great content. Many “get traffic quick” schemes use unnatural links which are artificial,
deceptive and manipulative. Google does not want to reward top rank to websites where the
webmaster or a SEO firm has managed to acquire a lot of unnatural links.
There are many ways to get respected, natural inbound links, and there are many ways to get
bad, un-natural inbound links that can hurt you. My recommended tactics for DIY link building
are spelled out in the following sections.
7.2.
Link Building Techniques to Avoid
The building of inbound links directed to a website is one of the oldest and
most abused SEO
techniques
. Over the years Google has learned to weed out poor, low-quality inbound links from
disreputable websites. In 2012 Google even started to penalize websites that had links from
disreputable sources. The following is a checklist of link building tactics to avoid.
Checklist - Link Building Techniques to Avoid
1)
More links is not better. Avoid building high numbers of low quality links. In the past it
was good to have more links, but that is no longer true. The quantity of inbound links to
your website is not important. Its the respectability of the inbound links that is important.
2)
The “nofollow” Attribute. Do not go after inbound links from websites that include the
rel="nofollow" attribute in the source code of the link. This attribute makes the link
useless to your ranking efforts.
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3)
Reciprocal links. In most cases do not do the “I’ll link to you if you link to me” link
exchange. If a high quality site links to you (i.e. local newspaper, chamber, college, etc.)
then it is ok to link back to them.
4)
Off-Topic Links. Avoid getting inbound links from websites out of context with the topic
of your website. Go after links from respectable websites related to your keywords and
industry.
5)
Just Plain Bad Link Practices. Avoid all of the following: site wide links (link on every
page of website), buying bulk links from sites like
Fiverr.com
, and any link sources who