Archive for October, 2010

Getting a start on local SEO

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Local SEO, which is the art and science of ranking well in search engines for local results, is one of those things that is easy to learn but hard to master, so let’s focus on the easy part. Say you’ve got a website and it’s not ranking in Google very well for whatever search term you desire results from. What is there to do about it?

These are some simple things you can do, or even better get someone else to do for you, to start off your local SEO campaign.

Figure Out Your Target Audience

Until you know who you are targeting there is not much point in doing local SEO. What words are your potential customers searching with when you want to be found? What are different modes are they in when they are searching? Are they ready to buy? Are they just doing research? Are they big spenders or are they cheapskates?

In general you should pick terms that match up with your service, that you think will convert well and that have good search volume. To get an idea of search volume use Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool.

Then once you come up with your target keyword list…

Update Your Page Titles

The “title tag” is perhaps the most important element of SEO and local SEO. These are the words that appear at the top of your web browser when you are on a page. They are also the words that show up in the blue links in Google.

Put the search terms you are targeting in your page titles. In general keep the titles as brief as possible while at the same time making them appealing to searchers. Put the most important keywords at the beginning of the title. Don’t worry about getting this perfect the first time as these are very easy to change and Google usually reacts to these changes quickly.

Make Each Page Title Unique and Add Your City Name

It is also important in local SEO that all of the pages on your site have unique page titles. Make sure you add your city name to the titles as a lot of people search for your service in your city.

You also should check the meta descriptions tags of each page to make sure those are unique as well.

Add a Few Internal Links

The number of links a page gets from its own site and which pages link to it matters. The home page is the most important on the site and so the pages that are linked to from the home page are also important. Figure out which pages you want to rank the most and add links from other pages to these pages. Make sure you use relevant keywords in the text of those links. For example if you want to rank the page for “pasta” use the word “pasta” in the text of the links that go to that page. Try not to use the exact same phrases in each link to make it look more natural. For example in some of the links use “best pasta” or “terrific pasta”.

Add Your Address to Every Page

Ideally every page should have your address and phone number. This is helpful for users but it also reinforces your location to the search engines. If your business has multiple locations then you may want to create a separate page for each location or at least a single page that lists all locations. Make sure you link to these pages from as many pages as possible on the site. It would probably be a good idea to list as many location names as possible on the home page too.

Also use these tried and true tips for local SEO improvement.

Get Links

None of this stuff will work very well if you don’t have any links to your site. The big search engines look at links from other sites as a sign of quality and trust. So you should spend some time thinking about what other sites you think you can get links from. Here are some of the obvious ones:

– Chambers of commerce/local business groups
– Local business directories/Local newspaper site
– Friends who have sites (including your kid’s blog)
– Partners/Vendors

There are hundreds of other ways to get links like writing articles for other sites, sending out press releases, adding your business info to social media sites, etc.

It’s important to understand that local SEO is not a one-time thing just like running a TV ad campaign is not a one-time thing. It’s a marketing tactic like any other. And as more people use the Web to find local services, local SEO could become one of the more important components of your marketing plan. So get familiar with it today so you can master it tomorrow.

If you have any more questions about local SEO please use our contact form for Local SEO Asheville.

Tried and true tips for local SEO improvement

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Working in local SEO there are a few things you immediately learn that can help a client with local search engine optimization. Some are easy to implement, and some sound a bit easier than they are, something that makes my services valuable to my clients.

Here are a few of the many SEO tips that are among the most common and first approaches used when running an SEO campaign. As a business owner you can implement some of them yourself, but the time needed may be daunting to you. These components to a good SEO campaign are things I stress as an Asheville SEO expert.

Deep linking

Make sure you have links coming in to as many pages as possible. What does it tell a search engine when other web sites are linking to different pages on your site? It says that you obviously have lots of worthwhile content. What does it tell a search engine that all your links are coming in to the home page? That you have a shallow site of little value, or that your links were generated by automation rather than by the value of your site.

Social bookmarking

Make it easy for your visitors to social bookmark your website, creating important links that the search engines value. There are plenty of free social bookmarking widgets available. Here is a recent look at social bookmarking popularity:

Article exchanges

You’ve heard of link exchanges, useless as they generally are. Article exchanges are like link exchanges, only much more useful. You publish someone else’s article on the history of pudding pops with a link back to their site. They publish your article on the top ten pudding pop flavors in Viet Nam, with a link back to your site. You both have content. You both get high quality links.

Article marketing

Writing your own articles (or having an local SEO expert do it) can be a valuable way of obtaining local search engine optimization. Go here for my blog post on Local SEO Article Marketing.

Be bold

Use the <b> </b> tags around some of your keywords on each page. Do not use them everywhere the keyword appears. Once or twice is plenty.


Offer articles to ezine publishers that archive their ezines. The links stay live often for many years in their archives.

Become a foreigner

Canada and the UK have many directories for websites of companies based in those countries. Can you get a business address in one of those countries?

First come, first served

If you must have image links in your navigation bar, include also text links. However, make sure the text links show up first in the source code, because search engine robots will follow the first link they find to any particular page. They won’t follow additional links to the same page. You can see this in action at the link to the home page on this web site monitoring page

Multiple domains

If you have several topics that could each support their own website, it might be worth having multiple domains. Why? First, search engines usually list only one page per domain for any given search, and you might warrant two. Second, directories usually accept only home pages, so you can get more directory listings this way. Why not a site dedicated to gumbo pudding pops?

Titles for links

Links can get titles, too. Not only does this help visually impaired surfers know where you are sending them, but some search engines figure this into their relevancy for a page.

Not anchor text.

Don’t overdo the anchor text. You don’t want all your inbound links looking the same, because that looks like automation – something Google frowns upon. Use your URL sometimes, your company name other times.

Site map.

A big site needs a site map, which should be linked to from every page on the site. This will help the search engine robots find every page with just two clicks. A small site needs a site map, too. It’s called the navigation bar.

There is a lot more to local search engine optimization, and there are always more details when looking at an individual site. But these tips should help any website significantly improve its rankings. The services of a local SEO expert can make your SEO improvement times exponentially better.

Asheville SEO expert touts value of article marketing and Goggle submission

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

As an Asheville SEO expert I am often asked about how I am so successful at establishing relevant backlinks for companies looking for local SEO. One of the top approaches for generating highly relevant backlinks from established websites is article marketing.

Well written and high quality articles which are aimed directly at your target local audience can produce valuable links with clout when seeking local SEO. Internet articles should not be too long (I keep mine to around 300 to 500 words) and should always provide some useful and quality information which will inform or stimulate your target local audience. Used correctly, having a large number of articles in circulation will increase your exposure and generate many quality links. However, you want to focus on quality over quantity as high-quality articles are far more valuable from a local SEO perspective.

Having your articles displayed on popular directories will enhance the frequency of search engine crawls and be a tremendous benefit to you in page rank. If you are unable to take the time to produce this content yourself then outsourcing article production is a winning strategy that will pay off in the end. The posting of content each day is a key component of page ranking.

This is an opposite strategy to local SEO blog post marketing, which can take two distinct forms, none of them quite like article marketing. When posting for search engine crawls on blogs you want to rotate between “quality” blog post of around 800 words maximized for your local target audience and containing useful and valuable information for them, and “maintenance” blog post which are shorter (and possibly more frequent) and are focused on search engine crawls.

Submission strategies to Google are also important. You can see the prominence of Google in this search engine market share graph:

After your articles are out on your blog or another article site, you can submit then to Google. The earlier you submit, the sooner Google can crawl and extract them. The result is that you’ll boost your publishing power, and Google will process your most recent articles more quickly, since they recrawl all News sitemaps frequently.

Signing up for Google Webmaster Tools and verifying your site helps a great deal. If your site is currently included in Google News, the presence of the News Crawl link on the left indicates that the news features are enabled. If your site isn’t included in Google News, you can request inclusion.

Google wants only the most recently added URLs in your News Sitemap, as it directs Googlebot to your breaking information. If you include older URLs, no worries (there’s no penalty unless you’re perceived as maliciously).

For various reasons, when crawling an article, Google News checks to make sure it can find the article body. If your article body is broken up by tags, ads, sidebars or other non-article content, they may not be able to detect the actual article body, and reject your article as a result. In addition, if you place the beginning of your article’s body near the title in the HTML, they’ll be more likely to extract the correct title and snippet.

If you reuse article URLs, Google’s system may have difficulty crawling and categorizing your stories. In addition, make sure your article URLs have at least three digits that don’t resemble a year You can get around this requirement by submitting your articles in News Sitemaps. Also, please note that session IDs can confuse Google’s crawler, and Google may not realize that two distinct URLs actually point to the same page.

If this seems complicated and time-consuming…well, it is, a bit. That’s the reason many folks turn to a local SEO expert when attempting article marketing. It’s easy to get the little things wrong and end up with a lot of work going for naught.

As an Asheville SEO expert it took me awhile to get the ins and outs of article marketing down, but I am now very proficient at it and my clients appreciate the fact that I can perform this important SEO task for them without their having to invest the time it takes to create and effectively submit new content on a continual basis.