Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Archive for the links Category

Citations Can Help Your Local Search Visibility

Local search listingsGoogle is not just counting links for their local search results in Google Places. Now they’re counting citations, too.

Links, as we all know, are important for organic search rankings. A citation is a mention of a company or website that’s not clickable as a link. It’s just a mention.

Many of us considered them worthless insofar as search engine visibility goes, but that’s not the case anymore. Citations in places like YellowPages.com, Yelp, Merchant Circle, Localeze and others can give your local search listing (the one associated with a map) a significant boost.

We’ve found a handy list of 20 excellent websites where you can easily get citations. Some of them allow customer reviews, too. Encourage your most delighted customers to go and write reviews once you have a listing there. Just remember not to write rave reviews yourself; you’re likely to get caught at that.

Helpful Link Building Resources

Link popularity — the number and quality of other websites that link to yours — is an important factor in search engine rankings, especially in Google. But few of us have the patience to sit and wait for others to link to us. So we have to resort to active link building.

Neil Patel’s blog posted a list of helpful link building resources. Some that struck me right off the bat were

  • A list of resources to help you beuild incoming links better and faster.Top 9 Ways to be a Link Magnet
  • How to Use Blog Commenting to Get Backlinks
  • Tips for Small Businesses
  • Linkbait Failure – Not Understanding the Need for Instant Gratification
  • 24 Advanced Inbound Link Strategies
  • 4 Kinds of Prospecting Phrases for Link Building Queries
  • Fundamentals of Getting Big Links from Big Media Sites

You may find some that strike a chord with your needs. Check out Neil’s list of link building resources here.

[Update November, 2020] Engine Scout, an Australian digital marketing company, has written an excellent article on building authoritative inbound links through HARO (which stands for Help A Reporter Out), a platform for journalists and bloggers to solicit information” from experts in their field. And whatever business you run, surely you are’n expert in that field. Check it out and consider adding it as a valuable tool for improving your link profile.

Changes at Google Places – Emphasis on Reviews & Citations

For brick & mortar businesses and those that involve face to face customer contact, Google Places (and Yahoo Local and Bing Local) are important sources of traffic. These are the listings that show up next to a map of suitable matches.

Google PlacesGoogle Places is sporting a new look that also reflects changes in their approach. For example, there’s an increased emphasis on customer reviews. At the same time, Google will no longer re-post reviews from paces like Yelp as it did in the past. Instead, it will be emphasizing reviews from within Google Places itself — with two prominent red Write A Review buttons to encourage that. You can read more about this at Search Engine Land.

Citations are more important now than ever. Citations are mentions of a business, even if they don’t include a link. So in addition to the well-known positive effect of link popularity on your organic listings, non-linked citations can be especially helpful in your local listings.

Update Note: Google Places is now Google My Business and Bing Local is now Bing Places for Business.

Can You Really Get Links By Email Requests?

Relevant incoming links may count as much as 40% toward top rankings in Google.

But just sitting back and waiting for them to happen by accident isn’t a meaningful action plan. One potentially fruitful approach is to find relevant websites and send them an email asking them to link to you.

Email link requests have gotten a bad name.

Most website owners with any degree of visibility on the web get link request emails. Most often these are poorly written and come from off-shore mass link builders. They’re pretty easy to identify and most people just delete them as spam. That’s one reason that at Rank Magic we follow up email link requests with a phone call (almost no one else does that!).

According to Website Magazine,

Direct link requests get a bad wrap as they are used (and often used poorly) by those that either don’t care or don’t know any better (believing inbound link volume outweighs inbound link quality – which it doesn’t). It should not have to be said but know that email link requests do not typically work when they are misdirected or provide no immediate or long term benefit to those providing the link.

But there are things you can do to increase the positive response to your link request emails.

Follow a few simple suggestions from this Website Magazine article and you should see your email link request success rate improve.

Recovery From Google’s Panda Update

Google’s recent algorithm update named Panda has caused many websites to lose rankings in a big way. Most deserved it, but not all. Earlier this month, NPR ran a story about a furniture store called One Way Furniture that had been hurt badly by Panda, mainly due to its use of canned product descriptions, which they copied from their manufacturers’ listings.

Apparently Panda identified the duplicate content and downgraded the value of the pages at One Way Furniture. There are some other suspected factors at work in their rankings plummet as well. Now they’re slowly climbing back to their pre-Panda rankings through a lot of effort:

  • Removing duplicate content and rewriting product descriptions
  • Using the canonical HTML tag to resolve multiple URLs that point to the same page
  • Proper use of 301 redirects
  • Paying close attention to their page speed
  • Constantly building backlinks.
  • One of the things they did was to hire some new copywriters to write original product descriptions aimed at being search engine friendly, and not duplicates of manufacturer descriptions.

CEO Mitch Lieberman said

For example, a bar stool that previously used a manufacturer-supplied bullet list of details as its product description now has a five-sentence description that details how it can complement a bar set-up, links to bar accessories and sets the tone by mentioning alcoholic beverages, all of which makes it more SEO-friendly. What we’re seeing now is what is good for customers and what they see on the site is also good for Google.

Another online publication that was badly hurt by Panda, DaniWeb, published a recovery story earlier this month. They cited their own reasons for the hit and what they’ve  been doing to get out of it:

“I guess it also goes without saying that it’s also important to constantly build backlinks, It is entirely possible/plausible that Google’s Panda algorithm hit all of the low quality sites that were just syndicating and linking back to us (with no unique content of their own), ultimately discrediting half of the sites in our backlink portfolio, killing our traffic indirectly. Therefore, it isn’t that we got flagged by Panda’s algorithm, but rather that we just need to work on building up more backlinks.”

Their experience reminds us to be vigilant. Perhaps Google’s page speed factor is more heavily weighted than we thought. And maintaining fresh inbound links from reputable websites is always important.