Having your business listed in local business directories is critically important in determining how well your site will rank in the local search engine results. These listings (also called citations) which feature your business name, address, and phone number are considered by a leading number oflocal SEO experts to be among the top factors considered by the search engines in ranking your website for relevant keywords.
Why Business Citations Matter
Local directory citations are similar in effect to inbound backlinks. While citations don’t pass on ranking authority from linking websites, they do lend a degree of credibility to your site that confirms your status as a local business to the search engines which can give your website a local seo boost in rank. As a local business, your website is eligible to be featured in the local search results – which are typically much easier to rank for than the organic search results.
The Importance of Accurate Citation Information
The Internet is all about sharing information and resources – and that includes your company and products. Inaccurate information that gets shared with search engines or directories could cause confusion as to your business identity. If this confusion raises “red flags” about your business, you could lose citations as well as valuable customer testimonials, and not receive the search rankings that you deserve.
A simple yet highly effective way to ensure that each of your citations is accurate and up to date is to create a file on your computer with all of your basic business information. Whenever you need to create a new directory listing, simply cut-and-paste the contents of this file to your new profile to avoid being penalized for inconsistent or inaccurate citations.
Local Business Directory Submission
Submitting your business information to all 50 of these directories by hand is the best way. However, it can be time consuming and tedious work. To help with this you can either use an autofill add-on for Firefox or you can hire a reputable company like Yext, Yahoo Local Works or Moz Local.
The Top 50 Local Business Directories Your Company Needs To Be Listed In:
(Local Business directories are listed in ABC order)
Need Help With Manual Directory Submissions?
IF you're short on time CinchLocal.com offers an affordable solution that is guaranteed to increase your local presence of you or your client's website.
These are foundational links that are hand-submitted to over 50+ directories, we also find 10 niche directories, include your social profiles, business logos, pics and more!
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For professionals who have been in the field of SEO for a while now, reading has been central to their survival. Hours are spent perusing through blogs, forums, guidelines, search engine patents, etc... While all of this has certainly enhanced the knowledge of people on various aspects, seldom has it helped much in coming to a consensus on how to rank higher in search engines like Google.
For a newbie in the world of SEO, the entire process may seem convoluted and a bit daunting. That's why we create an "SEO blueprint" or a framework on which those new to SEO may be able to build their research and work. For those venturing into SEO for the first time, this guide by CinchLocal.com assumes you know a few basics. If not, then you might want to read Beginners Guide to SEO or the Learn SEO Section.
Before you actually get into the details of this blueprint, there are a few things you will need to understand about it:
This blueprint is ideally for those of you who have a basic understanding of SEO and how it works. There are 25 concepts of SEO that we will go through in this document. These concepts may be broadly classified into 5 categories:
Avoid common keyword research mistakes: As with most things, there are two ways of doing things – the smart way or the hard way. The smart way is often the easiest way too. Take a look at some of the common mistakes newcomers to SEO commit:
This last point is by far the most common of mistakes and it is also when SEO efforts become difficult. A simpler approach would be to rank anywhere from 100 or 1000 or their multiples of long tail keywords in a single piece of content. The idea is to select a keyword theme and use it instead of promoting a single keyword.
Narrow down on a keyword theme: Get a keyword theme to implement across the entire structure of your content. This way, rather than focusing on just one keyword, you have the idea reiterated in multiple ways, and the result can be great. In order to narrow down on a theme, you will need to know about your client base, the kind of traffic they can generate for you and the possibility of conversion. Once you know this, you will be able to get specific on what will act as a trigger to initiate a response from them. Your keyword theme will stem for this.
Take for example the topic of baseball – getting a ranking for Major League Baseball may be difficult. But working ff of Chicago Cub v/s Philadelphia Phillies 1992 and the like will give you a better ranking. Narrow down on your topic in general, and then work on finding specific keyword qualifiers.
Understanding keyword qualifiers: Qualifiers is a reference to those words that add a level of specificity to a keyword. These may be of different kinds such as:
You will have to work on finding every possible qualifier that works with your keyword and which will resonate with your audience. There are free keyword tools such as Wordstream, Keyword Spy and SpyFu among others that you will find online that you may work with.
Finding the ones that work on Google: After this effort of finding qualifiers and adding them to your keyword theme, the next step is to introduce it into Google’s Adwords Keywords Planner. This will narrow it down to approximately 15 to 20. These phrases will not be so competitive, yet carry the possibility of ranking. Google’s keyword planner does offer the ability of running 100s of phrases at one go, but you get better variety if you limit your search to 5 to 10 at a given time. Always opt for exact search types to get the best keyword phrases that do not have too much competition.
One tip you must keep in mind at this point is to view the competition column with caution. Because it will often show you figures for paid search items and not those obtained from an organic search.
Working on ranking your chosen keywords: With a basic keyword set in hand, your next step will be to see how well your phrases will actually rank when used. There are two ways of ranking out the competition:
o Where is the keyword? Title tag, URL or on the page
o What is the page and domain authority for that particular URL
o How authoritative are the first few results
o What is the anchor test for links
o What quality resource will you be able to provide for this keyword
Being able to break through the top 5 search results for your keyword phrase will be considered a successive campaign. Using long tail keyword will improve your chances of ranking. This is where we step into the other aspects of SEO management.
Content, if not handled the right way, will simply become a collection of words that is mass produced and will not provide any value at all.
How to make content and not spam: You could choose to write dozens of articles on a topic and hope that they will be ranked on Google. Instead, what you must do is begin writing with a view on how to create content that offers much value for the reader. It is difficult to produce something that has value, but when you succeed in doing so, you become a valuable resource to webmasters online. With the value you provide, you will find rankings and algorithms working in your favor and links building up on their own. More importantly, you will have loyalty and readers who will come back for more. Value addition can take on several forms such as:
It is not necessary to have all these qualities included in your content, but emphasizing on at least one of them would be great.
Creating a structure for your content: The aim of this blueprint is to give you at least one means of building links, and that is where structure of your content will factor in. There are many ways in which you can present your content so that it adds value to your theme:
In some cases, you may even consider combining them all together. It is important that you find multiple ways in which to deliver your content. It is not necessary that everything you put online goes viral. However, what is essential is that at least one part of your content becomes so highly authoritative that it will drive traffic to the other parts of your site.
Pay attention to your title: You need to spend a good amount of time writing out the title of your piece. For those of us new to the world of SEO, coming up with a title that is catchy, conveys a message and encourages the reading of an entire piece is not always easy to come up with. Write out as many titles as you can and then after a day or so of leaving it alone, come back and choose one out of them.
Length or depth of matter: Never look at just the word count. How deep your content is also matters in helping you get a good rank online. In-depth content brings with it a level of uniqueness and also an assurance that it is probably not duplication. You will also be able to get deep into your content, rather than make vague suggestions. When you have good quality long content, it increases the perception that there are more links involved and there are better rankings.
How to add depth to your content: If word count is not a priority, then how will you be able to work on quality and depth? This is a natural question that arises. There is a lot of information that is written on how Google defines quality. While a large part of it is speculation, a lot of it is actually what Google follows to separate good content from bad. Here are some questions that you may ask about your content. These came from Google soon after their first Panda update:
Fitting into Google’s Models: Though Google’s bots are far from being able to perceive information like we can, it is slowly getting there. Algorithms are so intricate these days that they are designed to pick sentences, paragraphs, blocks as well as content and analyze them for an understanding on keywords, topic and expertise presented. So how do you know whether your content makes the cut for Google?
Answer the questions above for starters –holiday season recipes as a keyword phrase will need to include words like roast, grill, Christmas, turkey, stuffing and pudding in order to move up the ranking ladder. The kind of words you use will matter.
Research has shown that using specific words for a particular topic directly work on getting higher rankings. There are standalone tools available to analyze the kind of words that should be used for a topic.
Topic modelling: Now, all of the above would make more sense if you had access to one of the computers Google uses to analyze content. Since you don’t, there are other means of structuring content and coming up with a topic. One of the simplest ways of doing so is with the keyword themes that you made at the beginning of this blueprint. Using these keyword phrases to come up with topics will ensure a good amount of relevancy to your topic.
Great design is key: While content is definitely important, great design is also just as important. Make a provision in your budget for a good website designer. Some of the benefits of good design are:
An important aspect of this SEO blueprint is the architecture of your site, and getting this right means that you make not just one page, but several pages of your site rank well. Here are some aspects you will need to look into:
Create a hub: There are only a handful of sites that are successful with only a single page of content. The way Google works is that it examines the content you have as well as its relevancy based on links coming in and out of it. What will get you a good ranking is multiple hubs each of which look at a range of topics in-depth.
Cross link your hubs: Ensure that each of your hubs has links going into other hubs as well as coming out of them. You can anchor these links of keywords that overlap. Often this is done to provide additional insight into a particular topic. It also helps to give your hubs more attention from search engines.
Create a central hub: All of the multiple hubs are best connected to a single central hub from which all others originate. You could look at it as your home page, which then branches out into multiple other pages.
This is the next section of your blueprint and one which is quite extensive once you get into it. Take a look at the various aspects you need to pay attention to.
Getting the basics right: There are reams of information about on-page optimization available. It is best to go through some well-known sources of information. Once you have read through the basics though, here are a few more tactics that you should be well aware of:
Internal linking:While we have suggested earlier on that it is important to interlink the content on your hubs, there are a few things you need to keep in mind regarding them.
When creating your links, always make them prominent and eye-catching.
Create links naturally: Don’t think too hard about your anchor text. It should be worked into the natural flow of content and should not be too contrived. When you go easy on the flow of language, you naturally have diverse anchor text and this enhances the quality of your content. This especially holds good when you are linking internally.
When working on your anchor text, don’t create text to fit keywords, instead work your anchor text around the content for a more natural flow.
Tips for good anchor text:
Creating Title tags: Writing a good title tag is directly responsible for getting you high on-page ranking. But Google is also strict when it comes to over-optimization of tags and has been recently cracking down on content that is irresponsibly keyword heavy. Two things to avoid would be:
Do not over-optimize: Whether you are dealing with titles, URLs or links, do not over-optimize. Today, getting a good ranking is all about writing for humans and not for computers. Google is structured in such a way that it easily recognizes over-optimization and instantly demotes your site.
The importance of structured data: Including information that is short and simple on every webpage is essential. Though it does not really have a proven track record for improving ranking, it does show a good potential for the future. Especially in verticals like recipe sharing, they are quite important. There is no hard and fast rule about what should be included in structured data, but some musts are:
The last part of this blueprint is related to building links, and this is essentially the last 10% of your strategy. The first 90% is all about creating the best type of content. Keep in mind that there are multiple ways of building links – free and paid. As you work in the field of SEO, you will be exposed to each one of them. Link building is an on-going task. With time and patience, you will learn the ropes and will soon elevate yourself to the next level.
Negative SEO has been the focus of debate. It revolves around competitors and even shady SEO firms using bad SEO to apply penalties to other websites through the use of bad links, such as the kind you'd get from having a compromised site linking back to your own.
This topic of debate has become even more apparent ever since Google Penguin came into play. Websites have been knocked clear off the same results that they used to rank first or second for.
The good news is that there's a two useful tools that you can use to keep your website free from the ill effects of unnatural links: CognitiveSEO and the Google Disavow Tool.
Let's explore how these two invaluable tools by exploring the problems Google Penguin brought in detail and then elaborating on a generalized Penguin recovery strategy.
Penguin Recovery: The Negative Effects of Google Penguin
A handful of websites faired better after the Penguin update was implemented compared to the countless websites that saw everything from complete drops off Google to slow, gradual drops to ranks past page 100.
There are a total of 5 Penguin updates . . .
Understandably, many of these websites saw their traffic from Google for their primary keywords dry up like a puddle in the desert shortly after the Penguin updates mentioned above.
While this isn't anything new with Google updates, it does represent something troubling when you take into account that these webmasters had tried everything legitimate that Google had suggested that they do for SEO purposes.
That means they tried . . .
You can likely see where this is going. It seemed that no matter what these webmasters did, nothing worked. Their rankings continued to decrease and in some cases until their websites were pulled from Google entirely.
Doubts About the Google Disavow Tool
The major thing that was hurting webmasters after the Penguin update concerned malicious and unnatural links. It's what made it nearly impossible for websites to recover their previous rankings.
To remedy this, Google released the Google Disavow Tool. Its aim is to allow for webmasters to have a last resort measure for links that they couldn't have removed otherwise.
The problem is that the Google Disavow Tool comes with a very scary warning. If you use it incorrectly or fail to try every other avenue to remove links to your website, then Google may penalize your website manually.
This is where CognitiveSEO comes in. It enables you to spot unnatural links with a fair degree of certainty.
Detecting Unnatural Links
CognitiveSEO allows you to import links that you export from tools like the Google Webmaster Tool. You can then run the link analysis feature to see the links that are both helping and hurting your site.
CognitiveSEO classifies links into one of three categories: “OK Links”, “Suspect Links” and “Unnatural Links”. While it's not perfect, most webmasters will agree with a majority of the results CognitiveSEO gives them after analysis.
You can then export the analyzed links from CognitiveSEO into a plain text file.
Upon making a manual review of your findings, you can then submit that file using the Google Disavow Tool with a high degree of certainty that your URLs are actually unnatural.
The Results of Penguin Recovery
After going through this process, some webmasters saw that their websites were indexed and ranking once again. Properly optimized websites saw a proper Penguin recovery by regaining their first page rankings of the same keywords that they had once lost.
The most fortunate part of this process is that it wasn't just a simple fluctuation. These websites came back and stayed at those high ranks they once had.
Putting It All Together
While there were many factors influencing how the websites mentioned in this post ranked, it's a good bet that it was the unnatural links pulling these websites down in the SERPs.
Is CognitiveSEO required for you to repeat this same process? The answer is that it's not. You can sit there an manually check every URL reported by the Webmaster Tool on your own before submitting a list of URLs to the Disavow Tool.
The part where CognitiveSEO is useful concerns the amount of time it can save you. When you have hundreds and thousands of URLs pointing back to your website, it becomes a considerable task to check them all by hand.
Add this in with the fact that Penguin recovery is stressful enough and you can see why it's a tool worth recommending.
For the record, Cognitive isn't paying me to write this. I just felt that you'd appreciate knowing one way to help you fix one of the biggest algorithmic penalties to hit websites during the Penguin updates without having to spend days or weeks sifting through all the links pointing to your website.
If all of this sounds too painstaking or time consuming for you, CinchLocal.com has proven to be a trusted leader in search engine optimization. By purchasing one our affordable SEO packages we will check all your back links and you can be confident that your exposure in Google can be taken to the next level.
Rich snippets are a powerful online media tool that even the savviest marketer has never heard of. They can be instrumental in improving SEO and increasing your Google search results' click-through rates by 30%, generating more site traffic from SERPs than other conventional outlets.
CinchLocal has used its decade of experience in online marketing and SEO utilizing tools like rich snippets to build its clients’ Internet presence, returning increased organic traffic and solid rankings in popular search engines around the world.
What are Rich Snippets?
If you were online looking for an apple pie recipe you’d type the keyword "apple pie recipe" in Google, hit RETURN and peruse the results. Looking at the results below which one would you probably click on first?
Chances are you would most likely click on the first result. Not because it appears first but because it provides additional information (picture, star rating, 85 user reviews) and exemplifies exactly what you are looking for in an appealing and compelling manner.
Google snippets contain unique information — not keywords — yanked from content that is displayed in search listings alongside the page title, URL and meta description. That content is not limited to text. It could be photos, ratings, author info and more.
Rich snippets are actually tricky to implement. It is why typical SEO strategies don’t necessarily include them, regardless of how much they enhance that content. Utilizing snippets can make a significant difference in search listings. These carefully coded properties will draw the attention of users scanning search results, giving them more reason to click through.
As a premier local search marketing expert, CinchLocal tailors rich snippets and other proven SEO techniques to drive traffic and generate leads and customers. The Internet has become the most important marketing tool on the planet and we know how to take advantage of it on behalf of our clients.
Using Rich Snippets
The fastest and easiest way to implement snippets into your content is through microdata.
What's Microdata? Microdata is labeling content that breaks down what the information is about. Your content would promote a who or what, a where and when and a why anyone should care. With rich snippets, there would be a bit of code that states in general Here’s who and what this is about with any info Google needs to display in its listing.
Microdata uses very simple HTML5 tags that assign descriptive terms to bits of information. While knowing some basic language is advantageous, one doesn’t need to be an expert to use microdata. Rich snippets would essentially be prompts to Google on how to set up your listing. Google’s Webmaster Tools can help you with this using their Structured Data Testing Tool. Their tool will allow you to test and confirm if Google recognizes the rich snippets.
If you have a WordPress blog I recommend using the following WordPress Plugins:
9 Different Types of Rich Snippets
Listed below show all the different types of rich snippets along with instructions from Google on how to successfully install each type. *Helpful Tip - select the "microdata" option for the easiest installation.
1.) Rich Snippets for Authors
The author snippet will include . . .
Click here for Google instructions to set up rich snippets for Authors
2.) Rich Snippets for Organizations (Businesses)
These rich snippets contain contact and location info, pricing, hours, customer reviews, etc...
Click here for Google instructions to set up rich snippets for Organizations
3.) Rich Snippets for Events
These Event snippets will provide not only event information, but it can include specific options such as links to daily events or registration. Google can display up to three.
Click here for Google instructions to set up rich snippets for Events
4.) Rich Snippets for Music
Album rich snippets can have links to individual songs or available lyrics on top any other information you’d want the viewer to know.
Click here for Google instructions to set up rich snippets for Music
5.) Rich Snippets for People
People snippets are excellent for networking. They can include job titles, employer, location, interests, a photo and any other relevant information. They differ from author snippets in that the people snippet will contain more personalized information.
Click here for Google instructions to set up rich snippets for People
6.) Rich Snippets for Products
Product rich snippets can have pictures of products, ratings and price ranges.
Click here for Google instructions to set up rich snippets for Products
7.) Rich Snippets for Recipes
For Google to recognize a recipe snippet at least two tags must be place: photo of the dish; a tag for prepTime, totalTime, cookTime or ingredients; a review; or calories. These rich snippets can include ratings as well.
Click here for Google instructions to set up rich snippets for Recipes
8.) Rich Snippets for Reviews
Google captures of reviews usually include a 1 to 5 star rating, but they can also feature just the review section.
Click here for Google instructions to set up rich snippets for Reviews
9.) Rich Snippets for Video
The set up for a video is different from a static image. Google will see the Facebook Share mark up code as well.
Click here for Google instructions to set up rich snippets for Video
Rich snippets require attention to detail. The team at CinchLocal is familiar with the process and can show you the best ways to utilize them.
With extensive experience in SEO and online marketing, we are skilled at web design, social media promotion, blogs and more. Get in touch and let us show you how rich snippets can put your business front and center in searches and driven traffic.
Small businesses often have a difficult time starting their first search engine optimization campaigns. Some of the most crucial steps to form a good SEO campaign for them are also the steps that require massive amounts of trial and error to perfect.
This is just one of the reasons that the do-it-yourself approach ends up in failure for businesses. Sometimes, this just means that the SEO campaign didn't succeed in bringing in new customers. In rare cases, it can result in an entire website being removed from Google's search listings because of an improper SEO approach.
The best way to achieve success with the do-it-yourself mentality is to follow these 11 search engine optimization tips for small business.
1. Identify Who You're Marketing To
The first step in any advertising campaign should be to identify who you're marketing to. You need to know this for virtually every step of the way, especially if you want your SEO to be successful. Everything from your content to your keyword selection is influenced by who your target audience is.
2. Look at the Bigger Keyword Picture
The primary keyword of your business, website or website's category of pages may not have the most uses, but it should be versatile enough to produce long tail keywords that people are searching for. You should also consider how useful your keyword is in the long run in the event that people are trying to find your website through things like personalized search engines.
3. Interlink Your Pages
Visitors should be able to traverse from one page to another by not just your main page navigation system, but by contextual links sprinkled throughout your content and linking to relevant pages.
4. Reuse, Recycle and Reapply Your Keywords
A certain keyword can generate a load of traffic, but it may not always do so consistently. Don't be afraid to try and rank other pages on your website utilizing the same keyword in a slightly different way.
5. Become Socially Active
Not only do search engines love social cues, but so do people. One of the biggest search engine optimization tips for small business involves the fact that you should devote a portion of your SEO efforts to increasing your clout on social media networks like Twitter and Facebook. This approach has a wide number of benefits that apply to your business as a whole, hence why it's worth investing in. Also look for new social sites like Pinterest, Instagram, and Google Places for Businesses.
6. Take Advantage of What Your Competitors Don't
While you should try and take a share of what your competitors already have on larger social networks, sometimes you can find just as loyal of a following on networks that your competitors don't fully utilize yet. Take advantage of them, and capitalize on what your competitors don't.
7. Author Original Content
Search engines and visitors love original content. The more unique it is, the more likely they are both to stick around.
If you can't think of what to add to your website, consider creating a professional business blog to discuss news and other developments in your business's field of expertise, answering customer questions - even ones they didn't even know to ask!
8. Be Consistent
Set a 3-6 month goal and post on your blog at least 2 times a week; the more you post the faster you will get results. make sure each post targets 1 long tail keyword and is properly optimized. Then submit your post to all the various social media sites - do this for every post. Do this and Google along with the other search engines will become your best friend!
9. Use Pay-Per-Click Advertising
While PPC isn't “free” like search engine results are, they're still a viable way to increase the number of customers your business finds from the Internet. Consider using PPC to supplement your traffic.
10. Be Patient
The biggest of search engine optimization tips for small business is to be patient. Rushing produces a plethora of bad things. Sites have been banned, blacklisted and removed from search engines because they decided to do all of their SEO at one time.
11. Stay in Contact With your SEO Team
It doesn't matter if you use a firm, an agency or in-house staff, you need to keep in contact with your team. The more closely you monitor them, then the more control you will have over the major parts of a SEO campaign. Conversely, they can ask you questions that are almost immediately answered in the event that they have an unknown preventing them from completing a task.
If you are a small business and need help with your search engine optimization contact CinchLocal.com today. We're experts that go above and beyond the call-of-duty!
The founder of CinchLocal, is a seasoned entrepreneur that has over 18 years of experience in search engine optimization and online marketing.