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7 Keys to Showing Up in “Near Me” Searches

If you own a local business, you need to show up in “near me” searches

Google's Local 3-Pack for "near me" searches.Google’s Consumer Insights has reported a 150% increase in “near me” searches in the past two years. A near me search almost always signals that the searcher is ready to buy a product or service. Think With Google reports that 76% of those result in a same-day in-store visit. Results are almost as strong for services like lawyers, plumbers, and landscapers.

Ideally you want to show up in Google’s Local 3-Pack, which shows three organic listings and a map showing where they are. Failing that, you want to show up in the organic listings beneath it and in the list when someone clicks “More places” at the bottom of the 3-Pack.

The 7 keys to “near me” visibility

Small business SEOClassic search engine optimization (SEO) is always essential to visibility in searches of any kind. But local SEO, which is needed for showing up in near me searches require some extra attention. Here are seven keys to improving your visibility in those kinds of local searches.

Most local searches are done via voice search on a phone.1) Mobile-friendly website

I always recommend a responsive website  so that the same content and experience is delivered regardless of the device visitors are using, whether computer, tablet, or phone. It needs to be mobile friendly with text that’s easy to read and buttons that are not too close together to be selected with a finger press.

You can check this easily with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

2) Fast pages

With today’s microscopic attention spans and general lack of patience, many searchers won’t wait more than two or three seconds for your site to show up in their browser or phone. There are a number of techniques you can use to speed up your pages that are beyond the scope of this article. But there are some excellent tools that can show you what your page download speed is. And if it’s too slow, some explain what factors are responsible for that and offer suggestions to speed things up. Here are three that I like:

3) Effective Local SEO

Increase your local search visibility on Google.This involves clearly having your location or locations listed on your website. And not just on your Contact Us page. If you have a single location, it belongs in your footer so it’s on every page. If you don’t have a storefront but provide services at the customer location, describe your service area, both on your Contact Us page and, if it’s not too extensive, in your footer.

Some businesses create individual town pages for the most important towns in their service area. If you elect to do that, it’s absolutely essential to make sure that they don’t look like duplicate content to Google. Each page needs to be completely unique and obviously focused on the town it’s about.

Any place your address appears you should have schema code for it. Sometimes called structured data markup or structured coding, this is a construct cooperatively developed by Google, Yahoo, & Bing to help them better understand information on web pages. We explain it in our blog post entitled What is Schema Markup? How important is it for local business SEO?

4) Claim your business listings

The most important business listing for you is probably going to be Google My Business. Make sure to claim  your listing there and fill it out as robustly as you possibly can. Include things like business hours, your logo, photos, a description of your business, handicap access — anything and everything that Google My Business will accept.

claim your social media listingsDon’t stop there. You need a social media presence in at least Facebook and Twitter, and depending on the nature of your business and your target market, possibly Instagram and others. You need a listing on Yelp, Yahoo Small Business, Bing Places for Business, and LinkedIn. Other good listings would be Angie’s List and Judy’s Book, and there are plenty more good ones as well.

Vertical directories are another good source of listings. Depending on the nature of your business, you might want to be listed in places like FindLaw or Houzz. Caution – these are more likely than others to charge a fee.

5) Get more reviews

Positive Yelp reviews can help your small business.Online reviews can help assure Google that you are worthy of a prominent listing in search results. Start with Google My Business itself; asked a delighted customer or two if they would give you a review there. More reviews are better, but only if they are spread out over time. If you get too many reviews in too short a period of time they may appear as though you purchased them or enlisted everyone in your family to write them, which is a violation of Google’s terms of service.

Don’t stop there. Get reviews on lots of sites. The more broadly across the web your reviews appear, the better your chances of showing up prominently in Google.

If someone gives you a word-of-mouth referral, the person they refer to you is very likely to check you out by looking you up. If they see lots of sites that show online review stars for you, it adds to your credibility and improves the likelihood that they will reach out to you.

6) Ensure broad and consistent NAP citations

NAP - name,address & phoneYou need to be everyplace your customers are on the web. You should have listings everywhere you can. These are called citations rather then links because some of them, like Alexa, don’t link to your website. A local citation is any online mention of your NAP. Citations can appear on local business directories, on websites and mobile apps, and on social media. They help customers  discover local businesses and can also improve your local search engine rankings.

One risk of widespread citations across the web is that older ones may have a variation of your company name, a previous business address, or an old phone number. That can confuse Google: if Google isn’t sure where you are, it’s unlikely to show you in local search results. If you don’t have the time to actively manage that, we have a service that can help get you that broad exposure and also ensure consistency across more than six dozen authoritative platforms.

It’s also critical to not only be consistent across the web, but also with how your NAP appears on your website. If you show a suite number across the web, don’t fail t include it on your website. Consistency matters.

7) Get geographically relevant backlinks

Backlinks are links from other websites to yours and are an essential part of Link building is essential to your authority on the web.all SEO efforts. Your website derives its authority or importance on the web based on the number of other websites that link to you and the authority they can pass along to you. And your authority is a critical factor in how high you rank in Google search results.

For local and near me searches, you should also have a good number of local backlinks. If you belong to a local chamber of commerce, make sure it links to you. If you participate in networking groups, make sure that they link to you. Any local businesses you work with repeatedly ought to be linking to you and, especially those you’re in a referral relationship with. And you can also get articles and press releases in local or hyperlocal news sources. That would include your local paper if they have an online presence, and other online sites like Patch.com and TAPinto.net.

Go Get ’em!

These are all things you can do on your own. As this is written, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 quarantine and many businesses have temporarily slowed temporarily. If that applies to you, use the extra time you have to go through these seven keys to showing up in local and near me searches and implement everything you can. That should position you for a faster recovery once the current pandemic ends.

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If you run into difficulty implementing any of the above recommendations, give us a call. Rank Magic can help, even if it’s just giving quick advice over the phone or referring you to one of our strategic partners to help you.

Email Marketing and Social Media: What happens when they’re combined with SEO?

Digital marketingDigital Marketing

What is digital marketing? How can some digital channels be combined and have SEO baked in? How can you make this scheme actually work?

You already know that social media contributes to your SEO efforts. Well, so does email marketing! In fact, email marketing and marketing automation is one of social media’s predecessors — one that can be quite profitable.

Hence the need for various email marketing and marketing automation platforms, such as Moosend and MailChimp, two of the best free email marketing services-and various marketing tactics.

But how do these tactics work together? What kind of impact do they have on each other?

Let’s go ahead and see…

Why combine them?

First of all, let’s clarify a very basic thing: the marketing approach email marketing uses is very different from the one social media marketing does.

The two media are quite different, but this doesn’t mean you can’t make them work together. Especially since email marketing provides measurable ROI — up to  4400% to be exact — and social media’s ROI can’t be easily measured.

Email marketing is used to entice, engage and keep an open dialogue between people who opted to sign up. In short, it’s not like you’re going to send a newsletter and your work is done. You need to maintain a profile that will gently nudge the user into interacting with you.

On the contrary, social media can be used to actually draw attention and help a brand go viral. A clever punchline and a well-made visual, perhaps a post with a sneaky QR code that people will have to scan to get special prizes -kind of like a treasure hunt game- will draw more attention and reach a larger audience.

Social media and email markewting can work togetherTo reach more people

Combining the two media will help get rid of an obstacle or two.

Let’s say you’ve already got a mailing list and you’ve just created your first social media profile. Try uploading your email list on your social media profile.

Just click on the “Find people you know” button for Twitter, “Add connections” for LinkedIn and so on, and click on the email option each social media platform will give you. This way, you’ll create a followers’ count without even trying, simply by following your subscribers.

Urge your followers to share your posts around and incentivize the offer. That way, you’ll get more brownie points when it comes to referrals and you’ll grow your reach through affiliate marketing.

Let’s assume that you’re a company like Amazon or eBay. Your product is a service. And let’s assume that you want to use affiliates and referrals to grow your prospects’ base.

You can have your prospects share your posts or your email. Every person clicking on the post will be redirected to a landing page with one simple purpose: to get your prospects to sign up and earn either some kind of discount code or an incentive like free shipping.

Incentivise sharing your content.But here’s the thing: you need to incentivize the process for those who are going to share the post around, otherwise why would someone share your post in the first place?

Perhaps, the more people they get to sign up to your website and services, the better their chances at a huge discount.

That way, you incentivize both ways and people are eager to share your social media posts around and have more people sign up.

Not to mention that the more people to see your ad, post or anything your followers decided to check out, the better when it comes to being viral and generating more traffic and, ultimately, more conversion.

To get new followers and — in the end — buyers

It’s a shame to have just a selected few see your email marketing campaigns, as you’ve invested a lot of effort there.

And despite its cost, it’s also a shame to not spread the word when it comes to your email marketing efforts through your social media channels as well.

Include one of the stunning visuals you’re going to use in your next email campaign in one of your posts and spice things up with a headline promoting a discount or a customer loyalty program.

Then create a landing page — optimized for conversion, of course! — and link the landing page to your post. Urge them to subscribe and give them a little extra if they share your landing page with their loved ones.

A prospect won’t convert to a customer just because you asked nicely. You’ll need to include multiple touch-points into your strategy, and this means leveraging social media to your advantage.

But your efforts won’t be enough without the use of some good  SEO tactics.

How is that even possible?

It may sound a little strange and the two media may seem to be quite different from each other, but in reality they’re not, as you can always use one to promote the other and vice versa.

Email marketing in social media

First of all, you can add a subscription form or a little subscribe button to your Facebook page and encourage people to subscribe.

Secondly, repurpose content from your emails. Turn them into posts and ask for feedback. If people love these, urge them to subscribe to get more content like that.

Create a contest that will be urging people to subscribe to your mailing list for better chances at winning, or maybe to know more.

social media marketingSocial media in email marketing

Of course, this goes vice-versa as well.

The buttons of your social media pages need to appear down at the bottom of every email newsletter you send. This way you can spark curiosity and have your prospects connect with you using different methods.

Another benefit of using social media buttons on your email campaigns is the credibility those add to your brand overall.

Your brand’s social media pages are the place for your prospects to communicate with you in real-time, which is increasingly important in 2020.

Time for some SEO

I’ll bet most of you wonder what SEO has to do with these two mediums — especially with email marketing. Well, there’s a strong relation, even though it may not seem obvious.

It all comes down to the content you decide to use for each campaign and each post.

A high bounce rate represents lost business.Email marketing boosts SEO efforts

One thing SERPs are affected by is the time spent on a website and the bounce rate. You could have excellent SEO and it still wouldn’t work well if too many people bounce from your website.

Linking your website from your email marketing campaigns is one way to get quality traffic — in other words, control the quality of people who visit your website.

Remember that those are the people who’ve already subscribed to your email list and they’re, by extension, already engaged and eager to receive your content.

Also, by making your content shareable to social media, you can easily engage people outside the realm of your email marketing campaigns… However, this content practically demands some SEO optimization, as social media have a direct link to SEO.

Social media platforms are mini-search engines

Don’t tell me you’d never thought of that…

Social media platforms have those little search bars and those search bars work in the exact same way as a search engine. In other words, they look for keywords.

Hashtags are keywords tooSo, in order for your content to pop up first, you need to work with keywords, to show that it’s interesting and up-to-date.

And hashtags are keywords as well.

So, optimize your content for the keywords you’re trying to target each time and then post it on social media with captions that contain spot-on hashtags.

Now, of course the links you receive from social media do not affect your SERP efforts. Directly. But indirectly, there is much at stake if you don’t optimize for SEO and don’t get links from social media shares.

Keywords will mean that your content will pop up first, which means more traffic, which means more brand awareness and buzz around your name.

And who doesn’t need some buzz?

Content always needs optimization

Content is always critical.Last but not least, we’ve got content. And content needs to be aligned with your SEO efforts, whether it’s on your website or in a documents file somewhere in your computer.

Using keywords and SEO optimization, you can create content that will be segmented, making your life easier when it comes to going for some serious targeting.

After all, well-written and valuable content can always appeal to a wider audience and feel tailor-made and specific.

And if you’ve no idea what type of content your audience would love, just ask them through a poll or a survey.

Another reason you should optimize everything for SEO is that you can always repurpose your old content, be it from your emails or an older social media post and turn it into a blog post, a roundup post or website content.

Of course, this goes vice versa since you can repurpose old web pages and blog content and create fantastic social media posts. Especially if it’s video content, which is always short, bite-sized and easily comprehensible — therefore, full of keywords and SEO optimized, provided the content is valuable, of course.

Takeaway

Combining email marketing and social media is no easy task, but it’s one of the most beneficial things you can do, as it shows brand consistency and can easily create more buzz around your name.

What’s more, it can make you go viral, increase your reach and satisfy your already existing prospects.

By combining social media and email marketing and creating content based on SEO principles, you’re aiming for high engagement and, in the end, conversion. You’re also creating content your prospects will find valuable and will spend time on, as they’re the ones creating trends and — by extension — keywords.

About our guest blogger

Téa Liarokapi

Téa Liarokapi is a content writer working for email marketing software company Moosend and an obsessive writer in general. In her free time, she tries to find new ways to stuff more books in her bookcase and content ideas — and cats — to play with.

 

 

 

Note from Rank Magic:

If you struggle with this, we can help. We can help personally with your SEO issues, and can recommend strategic partners who specialize in email marketing and social media. Reach out to us!

404 Errors: What Can Happen if Your Page is Broken

Oops! Don't run afoul of a Google penalty.Your company website is one of the leading sources of traffic for your business, so keeping its structure healthy is a must. You want to be able to meet your visitors’ need to have accurate information about your brand and offerings directly from your website. This way, you can move your target audience further into the succeeding stages of the buyer’s journey.

So, imagine if your prospect is ready to engage with you, but finds a page 404 error message instead of the branded content that they are hoping to see? They’ll probably feel frustrated and disappointed, which isn’t a really good way to welcome people visiting your site. Because of this kind of negative experience, you may lose potential customers.

Google cares about 404s

Plus, broken 404 pages make your website look bad in the eyes of Google and other search engines. As a consequence of serving your online visitors with 404s, your website’s ranking on the search results may drop.

Before 404 errors escalate into a serious issue for your organization, you should mobilize your web developers to look into the problem right away. Have them check if the trouble is on your end or on the server where your website is hosted. As soon as you identify the source of the problem, you need to apply the fix as quickly as possible.

While you’re at it, you should also aim to ease the users’ difficulty in finding what they initially came for. Perhaps you can redirect them to other pages on your site, request them to reach out to you via chat, and so on. Last but not least, make sure to take precautionary measures so that the same scenario of having 404 pages show up on your site doesn’t happen again.

To have a clearer understanding of how to go about fixing problems related to 404 pages, check out this featured infographic.

All about the 404 Page Not Found error

Infographic provided by Spiralytics

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If you’d like to talk with us about your own website, just give us a call.

Do You Need an SEO?

Maybe. Probably.

Google has an excellent post that answers this question and more. Here’s how they start:

SEO is an acronym for “search engine optimization” or “search engine optimizer.” Deciding to hire an SEO is a big decision that can potentially improve your site and save time, but you can also risk damage to your site and reputation. Make sure to research the potential advantages as well as the damage that an irresponsible SEO can do to your site.

So how do you tell an “irresponsible SEO”?

We’ve addressed some of this before with posts that can all be found here. The recent article by Google overlaps a bit with that, and here are the main points Google stresses:

  • Avoid Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue.
  • No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
  • Be careful if a company is secretive or won’t clearly explain what they intend to do.
  • You should never have to link to an SEO.
  • Choose wisely (our posts can help).
  • Be sure to understand where the money goes (organic or PPC?).
  • What are the most common abuses a website owner is likely to encounter?

Like this post? Please say so with the Like button above or the +1 button below. Or tweet it with the button up top. Thanks for sharing.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below.

We encourage you, after reading what Google has to say, to put us to the test.

5 Tips for Avoiding Bad SEO Companies

Sometimes I feel like I’m in an industry that has more than its share of charlatans. Small Business Trends reported on five dead giveaways that you’re dealing with an SEO company that practices deceptive or “black hat” SEO.Snake oil salesman

Their descriptions of these telltale signs is worth reading. This is just a very quick listing of what they are. I encourage you to read the article to better understand the implications.

  1. Keyword stuffing
  2. Overuse of bold text and links
  3. Hidden links
  4. Complicated link schemes
  5. Multiple domains or subdomains with essentially the same content

One place to look for and compare some good SEO companies (if you’re in the greater NYC area) is a list from the folks at DesignRush of 40+ Best SEO Agencies In New York.