The 9 Most Common Local SEO Myths of Local SEO

on Friday 22 April 2016

1.Deleting your listing in Google My Business actually removes the listing from Google.

Business owners will often question how they can get rid of duplicate listings on Google. One of the more common things people try is claiming the duplicate and then deleting it from the Google My Business Dashboard. When you go to delete a listing, you receive a scary message asking if you're sure you want to do this

The truth is, removing a listing from Google My Business (GMB) just makes the listing unverified. It still exists on Google Maps and will often still rank, provided you didn’t clear out all the categories/details before you deleted it. The only time you’d really want to delete a listing via GMB is if you no longer want to manage the listing.

Google confirms this in their help center article:
When you delete a local page, the corresponding listing will be unverified and you will no longer be able to manage it. Google may still retain business information from the page and may continue to show information about the business on Maps, Search, and other Google properties, including marking the business as permanently closed, moved, or open, depending on the information that’s known about the business.

2. Failure to claim your page means your business won’t rank anywhere.

I’m sure most of you have received those annoying phone calls that say: “Your business is not currently verified and will vanish on Google unless you claim it now!”

First of all, consider the authority of the people who are calling you. I can say with certainty they are not experts in this industry, or they wouldn’t resort to robo-calling to make sales.

The Moz Local Search Ranking Factors does list verifying your listing as #13 for making an impact on ranking in the 3-pack, but this is often because business owners add more data to the listing when they verify it. If they left the listing exactly how it was before verifying, the verification “status” would not likely impact the ranking much at all. We often see unverified pages outranking verified ones in really competitive markets.

3. "Professional/Practitioner" listings on Google are considered duplicates and can be removed.

Google often creates listings for the actual public-facing professionals in an office (lawyers, doctors, dentists, realtors, etc), and the owner of the practice usually wants them to disappear. Google will get rid of the listing for the professional in two different cases:
  • The professional is not public-facing. Support staff, like hygienists or paralegals for example, don’t qualify for a listing and Google will remove them if they exist.
  • The business only has one public-facing individual. For example, if you have a law firm with only one lawyer, Google considers this to be a “Solo Practitioner” and will merge the listing for the professional with the listing for the office. Their guidelines state to “create a single page, named using the following format: [brand/company]: [practitioner name].”
In the case that the professional has left your office, you can have the listing marked as moved if the professional has retired or is no longer working in the industry. This will cause it to vanish from the search results, but it will still exist in Google’s back-end. If the professional has moved to a different company, you should have them claim the listing and update the address/phone number to list their new contact information.

4. Posting on G+ helps improve your ranking.

Phil Rozek explains this best: “It’s nearly impossible for people to see your Google+ posts unless they search for your business by name. Google doesn’t include a link to your 'Plus' page in the local pack. Google doesn’t even call it a 'Plus' page anymore. Do you still believe being active on Google+ is a local ranking factor?”

No, posting on G+ will not cause your ranking to skyrocket, despite what the Google My Business phone support team told you.

5. "Maps SEO" is something that can be effectively worked on separately from "Organic SEO."

I often get small business owners calling me saying something along the lines of this: "Hey, Joy. I have an SEO company and they’re doing an awesome job with my site organically, but I don’t show up anywhere in the local pack. Can I hire you to do Google Maps optimization and have them do Organic SEO?"

My answer is, generally, no. “Maps Optimization” is not a thing that can be separated from organic. At Local U in Williamsburg, Mike Ramsey shared that 75% of ranking local listings also rank organically on the first page. The two are directly connected — a change that you make to your site can have a huge influence on where you rank locally.

If you're a local business, it's in your better interests to have an SEO company that understands Google Maps and how the 3-pack works. At the company I work for, we've always made it a goal to get the business ranked both organically and locally, since it’s almost impossible to get in the 3-pack without a strong organic ranking and a website with strong local signals.

6. Google employees are the highest authority on which ranking signals you should pay attention to.

Google employees are great; I love reading what they come out with and the insight they provides. However, as David Mihm pointed out at Local U, those employees have absolutely no incentive to divulge any top-secret tips for getting your website to rank well. Here are some recent examples of advice given from Google employees that should be ignored:
  • Duplicate listings will fix themselves over time.
  • Posting on Google+ will help your ranking (advice given from phone support reps).
  • If you want to rank well in the 3-pack, just alter your business description.
Instead of trusting this advice, I always suggest that people make sure what they're doing matches up with what the pros are saying in big surveys and case studies.

7. Setting a huge service area means you’ll rank in all kinds of additional towns.

Google allows service-area businesses to set a radius around their business address to demonstrate how far they're willing to travel to the customer. People often set this radius really large because they believe it will help them rank in more towns. It doesn’t. You will still most likely only rank in the town you're using for your business address.

8. When your business relocates, you want to mark the listing for the old location as closed.

The Google My Business & Google MapMaker rules don’t agree on this one. Anyone on the Google MapMaker side would tell a business to mark a listing as "closed" when they move. This will cause a business listing to have a big, ugly, red "permanently closed" label when anyone searches your business name.

If your listing is verified through Google My Business, all you need to do is edit the address inside your dashboard when you move. If there's an unverified duplicate listing that exists at your old address, you want to make sure you get it marked as "Moved."

9. Google displays whatever is listed in your GMB dashboard.

Google gives business owners the ability to edit information on their listing by verifying it via Google My Business. However, whatever data the owner inputs is just one of many sources that Google will get information from. Google updates verified listings all the time by scraping data from the business website, inputs from edits made on Google Maps/MapMaker, and third-party data sources. A recent case I’ve seen is one where Google repeatedly updated an owner-verified listing with incorrect business hours due to not being able to properly read the business hours listed on their website.

Content Credit : JoyHawkins

Impact of Content Delivery Networks on SEO

on Wednesday 13 April 2016
What is a Content Delivery Network?

Contact Delivery Networks (CDNs) are a system of servers distributed throughout the world delivering web pages, and other web content (like video streaming) based on the users geographical location. This means that large amounts of content can be delivered quickly and without any interruptions.

For instance, if your website is based in Los Angeles, the people who are accessing it in San Francisco will receive the content faster than people accessing it from Shanghai. The farther away the person accessing the website or application is, the longer the load time and the more frustrating the user experience becomes.

CDNs have been a hot topic for businesses wanting to expand by reaching Internet users globally. It gives businesses the opportunity to reach out to millions of web users anywhere in the world in just seconds. Being able to put your company out in front of as many people as possible and quickly should be a priority for any business looking to grow, and when it comes to SEO, it must be a priority.

How do CDNs Work?

CDNs are made up of a network of servers referred to as “points of presence” or POPs. Each one of these servers (POPs) are spread out in locations all over the world. The CDN server that is located closest to where the user accesses it is called an “edge server.” When a user requests content from a website or application through a CDN, they will be connected to the closest edge server. This ensures the user will receive the best experience possible.

According to Incapsula, some of the benefits of using a CDN include:

  • Faster load times for content on your site (this is especially useful for increasing performance of your mobile site)
  • Image compression improves performance by reducing the size of images sent to the user
  • Session optimization reduces the number of open connections to your web server
  • Scaling quickly when there is increased or heavy traffic to your website
  • Ensuring the stability of your website by minimizing the risk of traffic spikes at point of origin
  • Better site performance and customer experience

CDNs allow you to cache (temporarily store) your websites content on a CDN so it is delivered from an edge server to the user faster than if it were to be delivered from the origin. This allows the content requested to travel from the nearest POP and back, instead of having to travel all the way from the website’s origin server and back.

Another benefit of using a CDN is that CDNs will remove and update (purge) your content regularly, to ensure the most relevant and current content is being delivered, even if the website content is cached. This process is referred to as content invalidation.

How do CDNs Help SEO?

CDNs improve the speed and quality of content that is delivered to the user. CDNs should be seen as part of the solution for search ranking as it is applied to page speed and efficient content delivery, but it is not the only thing that needs to be done to increase search ranking. Think of CDNs as a way to improve upon the technical ranking factors for SEO.

For instance, CDNs help to ensure each version of your website across several servers and locations are identical. CDNs use caching algorithms and canonical headers to help enhance SEO of your website by combatting duplicate content creation issues. Remember, as CDNs purge content so the most recent and relevant content loads first, they must do this across every cached version of a site.

How CDNs Make Your Site Safer?

Having the site load from several servers and from several locations will not only improve your site’s health, but again it is a huge benefit for SEO by increasing the load time of your website.

The risk of attack on your site will also decrease, because of the multiple servers located in multiple geographical locations. Having multiple servers will also help prevent your website from crashing by dividing the load time up among the various servers.

Should You be Using a CDN?

CDNs can benefit anyone with a website or mobile application that could be requested by multiple users at a time. CDNs are especially useful for websites that have a lot of content and varying content types, and complex websites with users from multiple geographical locations. Most importantly, CDNs will increase site load speed, which will increase your search ranking.

On the other hand, if you are going to implement a CDN, make sure that you implement it correctly. Contact a professional to help you implement your CDN, because an incorrectly implemented CDN can compromise your site’s SEO and usability.

Original Source : Adobe

Micro-Conversion vs. Macro-Conversion

on Thursday 7 April 2016

  • The Personalization Gap Is Wide

It indicates that consumers would welcome real-time offers in stores and online. Yet, very few marketers are using technology to achieve micro-level personalization, with almost one-third saying that they do not personalize at all. The result? Most consumers find that the personalization they do see is superficial and annoying. They want to use technology to solve problems and find services quickly, but many organizations are falling short.
The stakes are high. Companies that can deliver the right experience to the right person will become the go-to brands, leaving other brands far behind.

  • The Right People + the Right Data = the Right Experience Design

A key element in an engaging customer experience is continuity across devices and platforms. Often, a fragmented customer experience is a reflection of the structure within an organization. Different platforms within a company present a challenge - they may only be able to optimize pieces of the whole experience, and they use different KPIs (key performance indicators) to do so, leading to multiple personas for the same customer, competing offers on different channels, and other poor experiences.

Integrated data systems, where the same solutions that harness all of the data are used to optimize and personalize the experience, will help marketers understand how their customers experience their brands as a whole. A unified platform makes it easier for all team members to see the same data and analysis and to work together to create a focused, optimized experience.

The best experiences will be forged when people are able to listen to the data and, from it, understand how the customer thinks and feels about the brand. The skillsets needed are an intersection of business, science, and liberal arts skills. Only 10 percent of companies have established customer-experience teams - people who combine the art of design with the science of optimization to create personalized experiences that drive engagement and revenue. Companies that invest in agile and efficient technologies - and the right people to use them - will become the competitive leaders of the future.

  • Personalization Is a Process, Not an Event

Leading personalized experiences are evolved with an iterative process. They begin by bringing data together to map customer behaviors and identifying top-performing areas and bottlenecks. A prototype experience is developed from this initial map.

Most companies would stop here, but significant gains are realized by continued analysis of performance and revisions to the experience. From there, one can move on to automate the experience. This is necessary to achieve personalization at the micro-scale needed to reach every customer on all of their channels and devices.

  • The Internet of Things Will Widen the Gap

In just a few short years, the mushrooming number of devices on the Internet of Things will create new data streams and a torrent of new information. This data can potentially give an even clearer view of customers lives, if marketers can meet the challenge of making sense of this massive amount of data. These new devices will compound today’s marketing problems and make it critical to implement strategies now before the avalanche begins. Today’s integrated technology supports these new levels of data analytics, content management, testing, and optimization and will allow scaling of personalized experiences at the new levels of data input that are coming soon.

Higher Ranking Factors Revealed By Google

Google made very interesting announcements about SEO recently..

#1: Links and content are Google's #1 and #2 ranking factors

As you may know, Google uses over 200 ranking factors to rank websites.And SEO pros have long known that backlinks make up a good chunk of these 200 factors.

For example, three of Google's most well-known ranking factors are link-related: 1. the number of links pointing to your site, 2. the anchor text of those links and 3. the authority of those links.

That's why any SEO agency worth their salt tells their clients that link building is the KEY to first page Google rankings.

So it was refreshing to hear Google confirm that links and content were Google's two most important ranking signals.

When a Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google (Andrey Lipattsev) was asked what the top two ranking factors were, he answered:

"I can tell you what they are. It is content. And it’s links pointing to your site."

So the next time you see an alarmist "link building is dead!" article, you can chuckle to yourself...
...and then get back to the important task of link building.

Key Takeaway: Despite the buzz about social signals, backlinks remain the core of Google's algorithm. If you want to build more white hat links to your site, I highly recommend watching this step-by-step video case study.

Announcement #2: Google uses CTR and user experience in their algorithm

Yes, links are still king today...and will likely remain Google's top ranking signal for years to come.

That said, Google is consistently adding new ranking signals into the mix.And in a recent talk, Google engineer Paul Haahr revealed some of these new signals.Specifically, Paul revealed that:

1. Google runs A/B tests with the SERPs. So if you drop or go up 1-2 spots, it may have nothing to do with links, on-page SEO, etc. It could be a test.

2. Google definitely uses click-through-rate (CTR) data as a ranking signal.
This shouldn't come as a huge surprise.

After all, if a site ranks #2 in Google -- and hardly anyone clicks on that result -- it probably means the page is irrelevant.

And if they DO click on it -- but hit their "back" button after 2 seconds -- it tells Google that it's a low-quality result.

On the other hand...

If your page gets an above-average amount of clicks -- and people stick to your page like superglue -- this tells Google that people like your page.And it's likely to get a rankings bump.

Key Takeaway:Google pays attention to how searchers interact with your site. A high CTR and time on page may boost your rankings.

And for a bunch of super-practical strategies that you can use to optimize for CTR and time on page.

Is it Time for Growth Hacking to Rebrand?

on Saturday 2 April 2016
“Well, the one thing that never quite sat right with me is the word hacking. There are a number of things implied by that word that don’t align with the intended growth hacking definition. I argue that we must replace the word hacking with something more appropriate.My rationale is as follows.”-Andy Ramnn

1. Hacking implies shortcuts and quick fixes.
Anyone obsessed with business growth knows that sustained growth is only achieved through a dedication to understanding and maintaining maximum relevance and appeal to a target audience. Doing so requires the disciplined and relentless application of specific methodologies to drive engagement, conversion and loyalty. Furthermore, additional methodologies must be deployed to detect and adapt to changes in the needs and orientations of that audience.

Great copywriting is not a quick fix. Disciplined A/B testing is not a quick fix. White hat SEO is not a quick fix. Focusing on the customer to optimize engagement and drive down is not a quick fix. And, this applies to all companies, not just startups.

This is a deep process. A long(er) term strategy. This is not hacking.

2. Hacking implies nefarious methods.Being highly relevant and accessible to your target audience doesn’t come from gaming the system. Black hat SEO techniques to artificially boost page rank are dying off fast as viable means to drive sustainable growth. Real growth hacking strategies not only create better, more relevant content and offerings for customers, they make the web better as a whole. And as more companies engage in a process of continuous optimization (improvement), the entire web improves.

Growth hacking techniques are not shady, deceitful, or ill meaning. They require creativity, analytical thinking, and social prowess to achieve a singular goal.

This is not hacking.

3. The term hacking causes confusion and adoption of false principles.
The term is misunderstood, which means the benefits of growth hacking becoming widespread, or even universally adopted, is slowed unnecessarily.

If the perception among company leaders and marketing generalists is that growth hacking involves quick-fix and black hat methodologies, then the adoption of real techniques to drive customer-oriented optimization stalls. If growth hacking makes for a better web as a whole – as I argued previously – then slowing the adoption of its true methods is bad for the web.

This is the point where I confess that I don’t know if I have anything better in mind. I have no quarrels with growth engineering as a term of art. Growth marketing is also somewhat apt, though less complete in terms of what it encompasses.

In the end, growth hacking may stick. I can probably live with that. Do you know a growth hacker who would prefer to be called a growth engineer? You’re at a party. You introduce yourself to someone. You tell your new companion that you’re a growth hacker. What you do is witchcraft, unknowable to ordinary mortals. You are the James Bond of the deep web. You are mysterious, and important.

Or, you say that you’re a growth engineer. You’re the nerd in the marketing department.
See the difference?

The point is to continuously make the web a better place. This happens when companies focus on being more relevant, more accessible and more frictionless. If this is the true collective ethos of growth hacking, then perhaps it’s time to redefine the word hacking, rather than rebrand our discipline.

About Author: Andy is the President & General Manager of Alexa.

Google pulls Gmail mic drop April fool joke after ruining many lives

on Friday 1 April 2016
Looks like the joke's on Google, or is it? The search engine giant -- known for inserting jokes and hoaxes into its products ceremoniously on every April fool's Day -- was caught foot in mouth on Friday when an ill-conceived joke backfired, ruining many lives in the aftermath. The prank: a mic drop option added to Gmail that automatically affixed a gif of a minion tossing away a microphone when you hit send. The problem: it led to more headaches than laughs.

Google has acknowledged the 'joke wasn't funny' and pulled the plug on it now, but the damage has already been done.

"Well, it looks like we pranked ourselves this year. Due to a bug, the Mic Drop feature inadvertently caused more headaches than laughs. We're truly sorry. The feature has been turned off. If you are still seeing it, please reload your Gmail page," said Google on its official blog .

So what's the fuss all about, you ask? Well, Google silently replaced Gmail's 'send and archive' option with a 'send and mic drop' option this morning. Typing in an email (or possibly replying to one) and quickly hitting on it attached a gif to your email (a minion dropping the mic) inadvertently letting the receiver to know, 'hey, this conversation' just ended.

"Gmail is making it easier to have the last word on any email with Mic Drop. Simply reply to any email using the new 'Send + Mic Drop' button. Everyone will get your message, but that's the last you'll ever hear about it. Yes, even if folks try to respond, you won't see it," Google said while announcing the feature earlier in the day.

But, people ended up sending those emails to bosses and other people who might not really appreciate the joke.

"Thanks to Mic Drop I just lost my job. I am a writer and had a deadline to meet. I sent my articles to my boss and never heard back from her. I inadvertently sent the email using the "Mic Drop" send button.There were corrections that needed to be made on my articles and I never received her replies. My boss took offense to the Mic Drop animation and assumed that I didn't reply to her because I thought her input was petty (hence the Mic Drop). I just woke up to a very angry voicemail from her which is how I found out about this "hilarious" prank,"said one user .

"Yes, it's a funny April fools joke, but not when it's actually screwing up my important email correspondences," wrote another user .

Source India Today