Archive for the ‘Local SEM’ Category

Keeping up with local SEM changes

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

local sem success

Has local SEM or search engine marketing got you confused lately? Things are certainly not the same as they were 2 or 3 years ago? The local search marketing game is changing folks and technology can be blamed on that. Chances are in the next three years it will change even more so don’t get too mad. Just hop on the horse and try to hold on.

Let’s take a look at how the local SEM game has changed over the years:

Local SEM Change#1 – Blogs

Blogs have been around for a number of years but I still see many website owners trying to market themselves locally that still do not understand the concept of a blog. A blog is nothing more than a journal entry of your choice that adds a whole new page to your website. You can structure that post as you wish and with a little savviness that blog post can rank for a variety of search terms in the industry.

Local SEM Change#2 – Social Media

Now wasn’t this a wrench in the gears for some? Who would have thought that communicating on a local level with your audience in front of your computer would make things so difficult for some businesses. It’s still cheaper than a newspaper ad but when you have been doing print advertising for a better part of your life it is tough to walk away from it for some. Can’t teach an old dog new tricks right?

search engine marketing companies

Local SEM Change#3 – Check In Technology

Hold onto your hat folks because this one might make your head spin. You walk into a Starbucks and you click a button to tell everyone you have checked in and now you have a mayor badge? What badge? To make things even worse for some businesses Facebook has stepped into to join the fun with the location check in technology which is going to downright give some business owners a head ache.

Don’t be scared but rather embrace the new changes and find a way to get involved with the new technologies related to your local SEM campaign. Waiting and hoping things will change is never going to happen. If you need help you can give me a buzz, I’ll be happy to evaluate your local SEM needs.

The power of geographic keywords

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

When it comes down to choosing the right keywords today, a more accurate description of the process would be ‘choosing the right key phrases.’

If there was a time when you could easily top the results for a one-word keyword search string that is long past. Now the Web is so densely populated with sites that it is next to impossible to achieve constant top ratings based on one-word keywords.

Achieving constant top ratings for two-word or three-word search phrases is a more realistic goal. If you examine closely the dynamics of search results for popular one-word keywords, you would find that while it may be possible one week to be in the first ten organic results, the next week you fall right out of the first 30 results because the competition for popular one-word keywords is so fierce and other sites have replaced you.

This is where local SEO becomes paramount, especially dealing with Goggle Places. You can use your geographic location in your keyword phrases to rank highly in localized search.

Of course, you can include one-word keywords in your overall keywords list, but you cannot depend upon them for high rating or targeted results. For instance, if you have a business selling fishing boats in Miami, Florida then of course “boat” is a mandatory keyword. However, your optimal keyword phrases will be much more specific, and would likely include “fishing boats,” “Miami boats,” “Miami fishing boat dealers” and even some other popular local terms like “Miami fishing” or “Miami boating.”

Social Media Tips for Real Estate Agents

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Social media and real estate go hand in hand. Many of my clients are in real estate and I help them to use social media as a dynamic and professional tool. However, there is something of a learning curve. When using social media as a real estate agent keep these tips in mind:

• Always keep personal and real estate profiles separate. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have coworkers on your facebook or friends on Linkedin, but always think carefully about whether you want a potential business relation to see pictures of you with your sister’s baby or celebrating at a Griz game

• Think about each social network you are going to get involved with. Just because everyone has a myspace page, think about is it really relevant to what you want to do and who you are. For a real estate agent, Realtown would be good social network to get on, but Myspace would not be. But don’t just jump on the bandwagon of a social network, think about what having your ‘brand’ on there would mean by association

• Always check your privacy settings for any social profile, regardless of whether it is for real estate or personal. Just because you only use your facebook account for personal friends and acquaintances, remember that others can search for you and possibly see information. Google now allows you to search over social networks for information, so if you have pictures of you doing things you don’t want future home buyers to know about make sure your settings are done right

• Always add value to the social network. This means providing information that users actually want to know about. Now, keep in mind the specific audience of each network when figuring out what value is. On facebook with family and friends, a picture of your dog in a Santa outfit in front of the tree would be added value to your friends. That would not be value added information to your LinkedIn connections (but that market report on an up and coming real estate market would be!) Plus the better the value, the more likely somebody is going to retweet or repost it so you get to increase your audience without you lifting a hand

• Build quality relations. By quality we mean relevant. In other words, don’t spam invite a bunch of people. The days of who’s got more friends on myspace are over, it is better to have 10 relevant real estate specific ‘friends’ then having 400 strangers. In fact, a lot of professionals online will either think you’re a major party animal meeting bunches of people, or you’re a spammer concerned with quantity over quality

• Don’t SPAM! Let me repeat that DON’T SPAM!!! This goes back to value add. But it also means, don’t be constantly sending out requests to help you out with something, or asking people to post comments on blogs or asking for a retweet

• Remember the Golden Rule. Treat other people online like you would want to be treated. If somebody is wrong about something on a forum, politely explain the correct answer. Would you want somebody to attack you for being an idiot (or ‘flaming’ you) if you are wrong or to politely explain (possibly even in a private message) what the correct answer is?

• Try to listen to other people. This means that instead of posting meaningless “oh, that’s a great point” try to add something to the conversation. If someone posts about 10 staging ideas, post another one in a comment. And just like any real conversation, make sure to adjust what you are saying to what other people are saying. If you are on a forum discussing accounting techniques and someone post a different opinion after you posted, listen to what they said, and make sure to reference what they said in your post.

3 Misconceptions About Google’s Local Search

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Countless articles have been written about Google’s recent overhaul of how it displays local search results; and I feel like I’ve read most of them. Along the way, I’ve come across a few of what I’d call misconceptions about Google’s changes and how they impact both the search results and how small/local businesses should adjust their approach to the new search results. Here they are:

1. This change diminishes/phases out organic SEO.

I’ve also seen Google’s new local SERPs described as a change that puts more emphasis on your Google Places address. Neither is accurate.

In the old way of local SEO, you essentially had these options:

  • Do local SEO on your business web site, optimizing pages for good, local keywords. The hope was to rank in the organic results that might show up below the old 7-pack, 3-pack, etc.
  • Claim and optimize your Google Places listing in order to get visibility inside the 7-pack, 3-pack, etc.
  • Both of the above.
  • Neither of the above.

I’m simplifying things there, but the point is that you could get visibility via local SEO and/or Google Places listings.

Now, your listing is inextricably tied to local SEO. The change doesn’t diminish one or the other; both are now required elements of any local search marketing effort. Without both an optimized web site and a solid business listing, your chances of great visibility in the new Google Places is low.

2. You can’t rank (or it’s harder to rank) for any city name outside the one where you’re located.

Ranking for cities other than where you have a physical location was always a challenge in the old local SERPs, and was essentially impossible in larger cities and/or competitive industries. A real estate agent in Concord, North Carolina, was just not going to get visibility for “charlotte real estate agent” or even “albemarle real estate agent.”

But, in smaller cities and/or less competitive industries, it was always possible to show up in the 7-pack or 3-pack of local results. That has not changed in the new Google Places. If you do enough searches outside the major cities, I’m certain you will see local businesses ranking for cities where they’re not actually located … just as they did before.

3. Local directories are dead.

The prevailing thought was that the new Google Places search results would pretty much kill internet yellow pages sites and other local directories. Not the case. I see Expedia, Yahoo Travel, and others showing up on a search for atlanta ga hotels. I see and SuperPages showing up on page one for nashville dermatologist. I see three directories at the top of page one for charlotte italian restaurants. Look at this screen shot for “child care nashville”:

Again, I have no doubt that you’ve also seen local directories doing just fine in the search results even after the big Google Places change. They’re also getting visibility in the links below some of the business listings, too, when there are reviews available.


  • Organic SEO on your web site is more important today than ever for local search visibility.
  • Getting visibility in cities where you don’t have an address is no more easy or difficult than it was before.
  • You’re still competing against local directories.

If you have any questions about this please let me know and I’ll try to help you examine your local search needs.

2011 Local SEO Search Predictions

Friday, December 10th, 2010

The predictions season is here . . . Telmetrics is one of the first out of the gate with its “Top Local Search Trends for 2011.” Here they are for you pleasure and consumption with comments by me:

1) SEM Churn Levels Off: We expect churn to decrease in 2011 as SEM agencies have aggressively adopted key measurement tools to help prove the value of their services. Transparent performance and positive customer/advertiser satisfaction go hand in hand.

2) Quality of Leads Trumps Volume: Advertisers have realized that call or click volume doesn’t necessarily translate to a quality body of leads. Local advertisers have become more savvy and will demand tangible lead quality measurement in 2011.

3) Call Tracking Gets Social: In 2011, we expect more advertisers to monetize their social media initiatives and with that, demand performance reporting on social media campaigns. Call tracking within social campaigns will help validate the model as consumers are still picking up the phone for the last leg of a transaction. Additionally, reputation management platforms that embed call measurement will bridge the gap between online and offline customer feedback.

4) Speech-to-Text Adoption Takes Hold: Caller intelligence from consumer- advertiser dialogue—available through speech-to-text technologies—will be widely adopted and advertisers will be able to more effectively optimize ad spend and creative to drive more leads. Lead quality details such as customer sentiment and keywords spoken will quickly become must-haves.

5) Value of Traffic from Online Sources Revealed: As the ROI of online platforms becomes more transparent, traditional ad channels that generate quality call volume will have an opportunity to recoup lost ground by demonstrating their value on a level playing field.

At a general level I agree with all of these.

3 Top Local SEO Tips

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Top Ten Competitors Research

The foundation of a successful local search engine optimization campaign begins with researching your top local competitors. Taking note of data such as page titles, content headers, site descriptions and keywords used to name a few, can give you great insight and a jump start on which direction to point your campaign. Browse their blogs and forums to see who is linking to them and which conversation starters got the most feedback from visitors.

Take a second look at the site layout, does it flow from a marketing perspective? Are the contact details readily available? How about a visible phone number? Take all into consideration when researching your competitors and compare your lists to map your foundation.

Keyword Research

Working in conjuction with your top ten local competitors research will be your keyword research. Now its time to find where these clients are coming from. Using online tools such as Wordtracker, Wordpot and the Google keyword tool can give you great insight to who is typing what search term the most to find your category.

Using these terms to determine how you will organize your site layout, page titles and content headers can give you an enormous advantage over others less savy. There are several SEO tools available on the net to help you perform these simple tasks and while some vary greatly aesthetically; in the end, they all spit the same information. Just be sure to stick to the most popular!

Content Management

Optimized content management holds great value in organic search engine optimization search results. Adding fresh relevant content on a regular basis (often referred to as “Spider Food”) keeps the search bots happy and more & more search moguls like Google give rich rewards to web sites that create fresh original content.

Research is key in content development & content development is a large piece of the organic pie and local search engine management plan

Google Previews tweaks search engine marketing again

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Last week Google launched its newest innovation on their search engine page: Instant Previews. The idea of a search engine website preview has been around for a while and with this launch, all Google Instant users will be able to view previews of search results pages without a plugin. This gives search engine marketing strategists call to look at their clients’ webpages and check for optimization, especially for companies using Flash websites

Google Instant Previews allows users to see Google’s cached version of a website without leaving the search results page. The look and feel of a webpage is more important than ever at enticing users to click. When a user clicks on the magnifying glass icon  next to a search result, an overlay will appear with preview of the page.  Once the magnifying glass is clicked, the user can hover over the other search results to scroll between previews.

So how will Instant Previews impact businesses?

Instant Previews will increase the importance of web design and usability and should decrease the number of clicks going to lower quality sites, doorway pages and sites praying on misspellings. As a company that optimizes both HTML and Flash websites, we believe Instant Previews has raised the importance of optimizing Flash websites yet again. Here is an example of Google Instant Preview:

I continue to stress to my clients in interactive marketing the importance of focusing on SEO in combination with page design and usability in order to create clean, useful and appealing sites that rank high in search engines and entice users to click. According to Google, people using Instant Previews are 5% more likely to be satisfied with the results on which they clicked.

The concept of previewing websites is far from new, but when the world’s largest search engine decides to add a visual representation of a page to the search results page, businesses must stay ahead of the curve. Google continues to lead the way in search engine innovation. From the June Caffeine update to the introduction of Google Instant in September to last weeks’ newest addition of Instant Previews, Google has made 2010 a remarkable year in search engine marketing.