Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

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New! Google Tells How to Improve Your Local Ranking

Local Ranking Advice From the Horse’s Mouth

Increase your local visibility on Google.Google recently published some advice for local businesses on how to be more visible when people do a local search for what you do. Proper SEO for your website is essential of course, but there are some other specific things you can do to make sure people find you easily when they do a local search on Google.

Start with Google My Business

Google My Business logoGoogle relies pretty heavily on your listing in Google My Business and offers some suggestions on how to make sure your listing there is optimized for local search. These suggestions will help you show up higher in the organic listings and will also improve your odds of showing up in the Local 3-Pack.

Here is your six task to-do list:

  1. Add or claim your businessGoogle has video instructions.
  2. Enter complete data — fill out as much as you possibly can of all the information Google My Business accepts: your address, phone number, category, and more.
  3. Verify your location — again, Google has video instructions.
  4. Include you business hours — be sure to include any special hours for holidays and the like and keep them current.
  5. Add your logo and photos  — they help attract visitors to your listing, and can help them understand how you provide what they’re looking for.
  6. Manage your reviews  — encourage delighted customers to leave reviews, and be sure to respond helpfully to any negative reviews promptly. We have some advice on that.

The 3 top local ranking factors

According to Google, there are three main factors controlling whether you show up near the top in local searches:

Relevance (SEO)

We’re talking about keywords here; the search terms your customers are using to find what you offer. Keyword research, analysis and selection should always be an integral part of any SEO program. Make sure there are pages on your website that are clearly about the most common and most important search terms. Also make sure your pages include your location address. Be sure to use them in your listing on Google My Business and any other local sites.

Google's Local Stack is the most prominent place your local business can appear.

The Local Stack on Google

Proximity

In a local search, distance is very important; we are talking about local search, after all. Always specify your location, and be sure it’s consistent every place you’re listed. If you don’t see customers at your location but provide your services at their locations, you can specify that so your street address doesn’t display and send unwanted visitors to your home or private office.

Prominence

This has to do with how well known your business is. Google bases this on your organic rankings from SEO and on information Google has about your business from all across the web: reviews, links, and local directory listings.

Some of the sites in PowerListingsOne approach we recommend to our own clients is a PowerListings subscription. That provides a convenient dashboard where you can enter all of the kinds of information Google says is important and synchronizes it across about 70 local search engines, directories and apps, including the essential Google My Business. It also presents you with all your reviews so you can effectively manage them.

If you’d like to see how well or how badly you show up among local citations, run a free scan for yourself.

Thoughts? Comments? Start or join the conversation below.

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Need help with your local visibility? Rank Magic can help.

Top Local Ranking Factors for Small Businesses

Are You in the Local 3-Pack?

Local stack: separet local listings in Google search results

Click to enlarge.

There have been a number of changes in how Google represents local search results. Sometimes referred to as the Local 3-Pack, when people search for a business or service  within a particular local area, Google shows the top three local websites beneath a map showing their locations. This often appears above all of the organic or natural listings, so even if your website shows up at the top of the organic results, if you show up here it substantially increases the likelihood someone will click on your listing. Let’s explore the local ranking factors that will help you show up here.

There has been reliable research showing that if you appear in both the organic results and the pay per click results, it super validates you as one customers will click on. Showing up in the local listings does the same thing, or even more so.

New: 2015 Survey Results

The folks at Moz have just concluded a detailed study for 2015 of all the significant factors that govern whether and where your website shows up in the Local Pack. While that study may be a bit too intense for most small business owners, here’s a pared down list of the very most important factors you should know about.

  • Domain Authority  — Domain authority is an overall measure of how well a website should perform in searches, based on many factors including link popularity.
  • Quality of inbound links  — this is more important than the number of inbound links.
  • City and State in the Page Title of your landing page from Google My Business  — that’s usually your website home page.
  • Consistency of structured citations  — citations are mentions of your business name, address and phone number across the web, and especially listings in local directories such as YellowPages.com, Yelp.com, SuperPages.com and those included in our PowerListings subscriptions.
  • Quality or Authority of your citations  — citations from high quality sites and those with a high Domain Authority count very heavily in your favor.
  • Keyword relevance in the content  — aside from the local geographical terms in the search (city, county, state, etc.) this relates to the keywords in the search and how relevant the content of your page is.
  • Inbound link diversity  — having links pointing to you from many different websites.
  • Geographical relevance in your content  — having the county, city, neighborhood, etc. included in the content of your page.
  • Having your physical address in the city of search

SEO Best Practices

Much of the above relates to best practices SEO. There are no major surprises in the above list; mostly a re-ordering of priorities. You should routinely have all those bases covered and be working on improving those you can on an ongoing basis.

If you need better visibility in local search, Rank Magic can help.

Google recently changed the Local Pack from seven local listings to three. How has that impacted you? Let us know in the comments below.

How to Keep Spambots From Ruining Your Traffic Reporting

Google-Analytics-logoA couple of weeks ago, we ran a post alerting you to the fact that spambots may be inflating your traffic reporting in Google Analytics. Now let’s consider a couple of ways to prevent that.

Google’s Bot Filter

About a year ago, Google added a filter for just this sort of thing. It’s quite simple to implement. With Administrative rights, open your Google Analytics and click on the Admin link.

Google Analytics Admin sectionOnce there, Click on View Settings:

Google-Analytics-View-Settingsbot and spider filterDown near the bottom of the screen you’ll find the Bot  Filter checkbox. Just check that and you’re done.

Sort of. Google is only filtering out traffic from known bots and spiders.There may be many spambots that aren’t on the list, so you may still get some of that traffic  reporting. But at least it will filter out friendly spiders like Googlebot.

If That’s Not Enough

If you’re still seeing lots of spambot traffic from some of the sources we illustrated in our previous post then we may need to pull out the big guns. The simplest way to keep these bots from crawling your site is to stop them at the door. Not only will they not pollute your traffic reporting anymore,but they won’t even get onto your site, saving your web server some traffic load.

If your web host is running a Unix or Linux server, you can block these spambots in the .htaccess file. (Don’t worry if you don’t know what that is; your webmaster will know.) The folks over at ROI Marketing have done some nice work on this, compiling an extensive list of the most common spambots, and they even went so far as to provide the code you can copy & paste into your .htaccess file.

It May Take a Little Ongoing Vigilance

It may be a good idea to check for new spambots every once in awhile; these things tend to pop up without warning. But utilizing these two techniques should take a really big nite out of your referrer spam traffic.

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Please enter a comment below to let us know how this works for you, or if you’ve found a better way to deal with this.
Need help with your organic search traffic? At Rank Magic, we can fix that!

Are Spambots Ruining Your Traffic Reporting?

Google Analytics

Google-Analytics-logoMany, many website owners rely on Google Analytics to report on the traffic to their sites: where do visitors come from, what pages to they like, how many visitors are coming to their website, etc.

If you’re doing SEO or paying someone like us for it, you need to know how well it’s working.

When looking at SEO, you (and we) like to see how many visitors are coming from organic search, from links on other sites (referrals), from paid search, from social media, and from typing in the URL directly. That’s getting a little more difficult now.

Arrival of the Spambots

In recent months we’ve seen a disturbing trend of spambots showing up in the referral traffic figures. Spambots are not human visitors, so they’re not the kind of traffic we want or need. Some may be scraping email addresses or have other goals, but whatever their motivation, it’s not serving you well.

While a few hundred spambot visits a month are unlikely to skew reporting for a large site like Amazon, for a small local business just getting started on the web they grossly distort traffic reporting.That makes it hard to tell where visitors are coming from and whether or not your SEO efforts are paying off.

Here’s an example of what looks like really nice traffic growth:

total-trafficBut if we look into where that traffic came from, we find it’s almost all referral traffic, and that traffic has just exploded over the past two months, accounting for the vast majority of new visits. Here’s traffic showing only referral visits:

referral-traffic

navigationYou can see where those referral visits came from in Google Analytics, navigating as shown on the right.

Once you do, the websites where those visits originated are listed. In this case, we’re only showing the top ten referral sources, but spambots consume the majority of those sources even when you look deeper into the results.

bot-traffic
1,409 of the top 1,510 visits are from bots — more than 93%. You can see how this makes interpreting your website traffic exceedingly difficult.

Is this happening to you?

The first step you need to take is to determine if this is a problem for you. Access your Google Analytics and navigate to the spot shown just above. If you don’t know if you have Google Analytics installed on your site, just ask your webmaster. If you don’t have it, I encourage you to ask your webmaster to add it, and to give you Admin rights. Having Admin rights will open up one of the tools to help you deal with this.

In the meantime, it helps to know whether you can trust your traffic analytics. In Acquisition | All Traffic | Channels (the location shown above) you can still check all the non-referral traffic sources individually to understand the traffic you’re getting from those.

How do you fix this?

There are ways to filter out much of the spambot traffic from your reporting, and even to deny spambots access to your website. That’s a topic for a future blog post right here.

Stay tuned.

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Need help with your organic search traffic? At Rank Magic, we can fix that!

Avoid This Pitfall for Small Business Mobile Sites

rank-magic-mobileYou may have received an email like this from Google:

Google systems have detected that your desktop site URLs redirect smartphone users to the homepage of the smartphone site rather than the page they found in Search results. This critical issue causes problems for Googlebot for smartphones because it can’t access your smartphone URLs. It also confuses your users.

Some people have taken the shortcut to make their website’s home page responsive and not taking care of the internal pages. When they do that, they create a redirect so that regardless of which page a mobile user finds in search results, clicking on it only brings them to the mobile version of the home page instead of the page they want.

Google is cracking down this practice and has been sending emails like the one above to owners, warning them about that practice. They have devoted a post in the Official Google Blog to this topic. If you’ve received the above warning, I encourage you to read Google’s position in that blog post and fix the problem ASAP.

Humorous look at poor mobile redirection practices.

We borrowed this from the folks at xkcd.com.

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Tell us about your own experiences with this in the comments below.

Need help with poor visibility in search engines? At Rank Magic, we can fix that!