04- Apr2018
Posted By: DPadmin
29 Views

How to get started with local SEO

Local SEO proved to be one of the biggest trends throughout 2016 and 2017, and is expected to continue doing so throughout 2018.

Businesses that have been able to optimize their on-page and off-page SEO strategies are already reaping the supreme benefits of local SEO. For others, there are undeniable opportunities to begin their local SEO journeys.

Google suggests that 80% users conduct online searches for local businesses, while 50% of users who do a local search on mobile for a business visit its store within a day. Yet businesses continue to miss the opportunities that local SEO provides.

Don’t be that business. Instead, use the tips and tricks mentioned in this guide to get started with local SEO.

Claim your Google My Business page and optimize it

Google+ might have mostly fizzled out, but Google My Business continues to be a cornerstone for implementing local SEO. If you’ve not claimed a Google My Business listing for your business yet, this is the time to do so. The chances of your business featuring on the front page in a local relevant search improve manifold purely by having a well optimized and filled out My Business Listing.

Go to google.com/business, start the registration and verification process, and wait for Google to send you a postcard to your physical store location.

Make sure you understand that Google only allows real business owners to have their My Business pages; so you need to work out an arrangement with your digital marketing consultants so that you continue to own the My Business listing even if they depart.

Your business name, address, and phone number (abbreviated as NAP) must match what you have been using for digital marketing till now. Also, lay special emphasis on selecting categories, business hours, types of payment accepted, etc.

Then, have top quality photographs of the office front and insides uploaded on to the profile. Digital businesses without a location can hide the address to still be able to claim their My Business listing.

Here’s what a well maintained and optimized Google My Business profile could look like on a search page.

Understand and master the art of citations

Here’s it, put simply – every mention of your business online is a citation. More citations are good for your business’ local SEO. How does Google consider a mention as a citation? Well, your business NAP has to be mentioned for it to be counted as a citation.

Too many businesses have already lost several months of efforts in getting themselves mentioned online, purely because of inconsistent NAP. Though increasingly there’s consensus among digital marketers that Google actually triangulates data and identifies slightly different business names as belonging to the same business using NAP, we’d recommend you play it safe.

Keep on optimizing your website for mobile

Though this is something every website owner must do, local business website owners need to speed up their game particularly well. That’s because a majority of local searches are done on mobile devices, and are intent-backed.

Responsive layouts, intuitive user experience and interface design, etc. are the basics; you need to step past them! Google’s Mobile Friendly testing tool is a great starting point. I did a test on a post I was reading recently, and was impressed with the tool’s validation.

Add business directories to your to do lists

Apart from giving you a valuable citation online, business directory pages for your business also garner more visibility for your business. Here are some action points for you.

  • Start with the most notable business review directory websites such as Yelp and CitySearch
  • Next, use this list of business directories and create your business profiles on each (target at least 7 complete profiles per week)
  • Look for niche specific business directories and create your profiles there
  • Look for local business community websites, and grab your listing there
  • Check if the state government has a Chamber of Commerce or equivalent website, and look for a way to get a mention there
  • Use the services of citation aggregators like Infogroup, Acxiom, and Factual
  • Look for an opportunity for a citation via local newspaper websites
  • Of course, remember to get your NAP spot on every time.

‘Localize’ your website’s content

You can do a lot to help search engines understand your business’ local appeal by optimizing your website for the same. Local content, for instance, can help search engines contextualize your website’s niche to its local service. Then, you could include an interactive map widget to further enhance the local SEO appeal of your website.

Also, consider creating a separate local news section on your website, wherein you could post content about niche-related local events. This will serve you well in terms of allowing the usage of local SEO relevant keywords.

Businesses such as restaurants, lawyer services, house repairs and interior décor, etc. have a lot to gain by using these basic tactics.

Be very hungry for online reviews

A Moz report attributes 8.4% of ranking value to online reviews. It doesn’t sound much, but considering how 88% users depend on online reviews to form opinions on quality of businesses, brands, and products, the eventual impact of reviews is significant.

Google My Business reviews are the primary source of SEO juice; you need at least 5 reviews for Google to start showing your reviews. Facebook Business reviews must be the next on your radar, because of the trust they inspire among online users. 

There are several other review websites you need to take care of, to maximize the local SEO benefit from the same. To get more reviews, try out these tactics:

  • Motivate store managers and field sales personnel to get reviews from customers on handy mobile devices, asking them log in to, for instance, Zomato or Yelp, and doing it on the spot (consider giving them a little discount for the same)
  • Use email marketing, with a single link that takes users to the reviews page
  • Consider using a social listening tool such as HootSuite to be alerted of your business and brand mentions, which you can transform into reviews
  • It’s worthwhile seeking services of online reputation management agencies for this.

Invest effort in local SEO relevant rich schema

Schema markup can be added to your website’s code to enhance its readability for search engines. There are several scheme markup tags that specifically focus on local attributes of your website.

Local schema markup tags assists local SEO in two ways:

  • First, it allows search engines to understand your business’ local relevance
  • Second, it means search engines can show your business page result along with rich snippet info such as phone number, address, business working hours, ratings, reviews, etc.

Here’s an example of how web results with local SEO schema markup appear on SERPs.

Local schema markup is beyond the scope of this guide, but here’s a good tutorial from Schema App.

Don’t forget to run your website through Google Structured Data Testing Tool to understand if the schema markup is done correctly.

Concluding remarks

As you read this, there are hundreds of potential customers searching for businesses in your neighborhood. Your website could be staring at them through their desktops and mobile phones, as soon as you get started on local SEO with the tips, tricks, tools, and methods described in this guide.

 

Source: How to get started with local SEO | Search Engine Watch

26- Sep2017
Posted By: DPadmin
106 Views

An integrated approach: From SEO to PPC and beyond

For most businesses, the summer season means a slow-down in industry events — but for digital marketers, there is no rest! My company was out in force at both The Turing Festival and BrightonSEO this year, both of which represent fantastic forums for knowledge-sharing and networking.

Reflecting on what were hugely insightful conferences, I’d like to run over themes that stood out to me — and how digital marketers can put insights drawn from them into practice.

Attendees of both conferences were spoiled for choice: Speakers from the world’s largest and most inspiring companies, including Google, Moz and Skyscanner, headlined stages. Members of our paid search team were particularly wowed by the session delivered by Wil Reynolds, the founder of Seer Interactive.

Breaking down silos

Wil Reynolds’s background commanded the audience’s attention from the get-go with a story that is still relatively unusual in the marketing world. Originally an SEO expert who turned to PPC, Reynolds suggested that the notion of switching between elements of search marketing shouldn’t be unusual in 2017, but that it unfortunately still is.

Typically, search professionals specialize in either paid or organic search and rarely move from one to the other. However, combining these skill sets can strengthen a marketing team and add value to the services it delivers to its clients.

I think that’s an important lesson for marketers, whether agency or client-side. Integrated marketing strategies are more effective than siloed efforts, and we have no shortage of case studies to that effect here at QueryClick.

Describing how he broke out of his own silo and combined SEO with PPC, Reynolds highlighted how the two areas of search complement each other — a message that resonates with me personally as a marketing professional who recognizes that an integrated approach delivers the strongest results.

A holistic approach

In a modern digital marketing world, however, the merging of skills goes far beyond mastering both SEO and PPC. The way people consume content has drastically changed over the last decade. The rise in mobile media consumption has led to a diverse range of content platforms, and marketers now have extensive opportunities to tailor their messaging and reach their target audiences.

To ensure consistency across platforms, today’s brands demand an integrated approach with a cross-skilled team that breaks down silos, produces more meaningful data and offers them more bang for their buck.

Running organic and paid search campaigns simultaneously (with a single point of truth in reporting) allows integrated marketing teams to define the keywords that have the highest conversion rate and therefore determine the themes that will optimize a brand’s overall digital marketing strategy. To work effectively, however, it must be rolled out across SEO, PPC, social media, PR and conversion rate optimization (CRO), with each team working closely together in order to achieve the brand’s end goals.

Bridging the gap

Of course, there are risks to adopting an integrated approach. There can be a huge disconnect between PPC and SEO campaigns, for example, and work must be done to bridge the gap between both disciplines. Ensuring that the work of the SEO and PPC teams complement each other, and that they can yield valuable data and insights for that work, should result in campaigns that are more targeted and relevant to the brand’s audience.

I’ve written before about how you can integrate paid and organic search behaviour in a blended “Halo” report, and I think it’s just one example where integrating channels provides significant insight value to both channels.

Of course, creating an integrated strategy is an art form as much as it is a science, and without the appropriate tools at hand, it’s not always possible. Power BI, a data visualization tool which can pull deeper integrated organic and paid metrics together, can help marketers present a visual representation of PPC and SEO activity live, allowing both teams to move away from working and reporting in silos and allowing an instantly accessible “single point of truth.”

Get the full picture

During the conclusion of his session at The Turing Festival, Reynolds pointed out that it is important to recognize that SEO and PPC look at the world differently. He described PPC professionals as being akin to “creative accountants,” working to meticulous precision, and suggested that SEOs are more like “poker players,” keeping their cards close to their chest.

Although the skills and mindsets of these specialists are very different, combining both organic and paid results shows the full SEM picture and allows digital marketers to deliver stronger results to their clients. This, in turn, informs the strategy for the whole digital marketing team, from PR to social. If mastered, a data-led, integrated approach is the holy grail of modern search marketing.

Source: An integrated approach: From SEO to PPC and beyond

29- Jun2017
Posted By: DPadmin
129 Views

Going Local for 2017: Local Search Engine Marketing Strategy

If you know anything about SEO marketing strategies, then you probably know that they’re incredibly fickle. Just as soon as one “best practices” article appears online telling you how to make the most of the latest update, there’s another algorithm ready to go in and mess everything up again.

There are many different strands of SEO to consider, and one that’s often under-estimated is local SEO. As the name might suggest, local SEO is all about appealing to customers in your general area. Perfect for small businesses and brick-and-mortar companies with an online presence, local SEO helps you pinpoint your customers when they need you most – for instance, when they’re searching for somewhere to go for dinner, or a nearby place to buy shoes. After all:

Across the globe, local competition in the digital sphere is heating up, and it’s crucial for businesses to learn how they can improve their search efforts if they want to get ahead of the game this year. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to do this, from refining your content, to taking social media measures. In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the most-up-to-date, and timeless tips you can follow to enhance your Local SEO marketing strategy.

Tip 1: Your Title and Meta Description Tags are Still Important

Meta description and title tags are elements of HTML that can be customized to outline the content of a webpage. In other words, it’s like a mini-advertisement, a taster of what your consumer can expect when they click onto your page.

Not so long ago, Google increased the width of the primary search engine results area, which meant that description and title tags were able to get a little bit longer. However, keeping things short and simple is often the best way to go.

image: http://cdn2.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/pasted-image-0-8-600×294.png

Take advantage of the space that you have, but use it wisely. Make sure that you double-check to ensure that you’re hitting keywords, and that your titles aren’t getting cut off in the search results. If you’re not sure how your tags are going to look in action, you can use emulators like the Yoast SEO Plugin for extra help.

Tip 2: Use the Local Schema Markup

Local schema markups are basically structured pieces of data that inform search engines of what your business does, and where it does it. These markups are only used by around 31.3% of websites, but when accessed in your marketing strategy, they can be a great way to make your business stand out, and even ensure that you rank higher than your competitors.

Google wants you to make the most of schema markups because it helps their bots to crawl through your website and find out what you’re all about. That’s why they’ve introduced their very own “Structured Data Testing Tool” which will help you to pinpoint errors in your data.

image: http://cdn.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/pasted-image-0-1-1.png

Correctly using a schema markup can raise your local ranking by several positions -yet most businesses still don’t do it. That’s great news for you – since you can take advantage of the benefits other companies in your niche are missing out on.

Tip 3: Optimize “Google my Business”

Google estimates that around 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to conduct their local searches. However, despite this, many small businesses have never claimed a single listing online – which means they’re missing out on some serious opportunities for growth.

One of the most important listings you can organize today is your “Google my Business.” This listing influences search engine users, and some studies show that users who view a complete listing are 30% more likely to visit a store.

If you’re looking for SEO rankings, then it’s worth knowing that Google likes to keep things in-house. In other words, it prefers its own business listings when giving local results to users. Additionally, if you want to make sure that you show up for the most relevant search results in your niche, then you’ll need to optimize your listing, hopefully with a lot of great reviews.

image: http://cdn2.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/pasted-image-0-2-1.png

Source

 

Webcast, July 6th: Advanced SEO Site Auditing

Tip 4: Publish Plenty of Locally Optimized Content

When you need information, where do you go?

Once upon a time, the answer might have been “a phonebook”, or “a library”, but today, nine times out of ten, you’ll get your information from the internet. Businesses can boost their presence online by providing content that’s connected not only to their business and niche, but their local area too. For instance, it’s the difference between writing a blog called “How to Find Great Shoes”, and “How to Find Great Shoes in New York”.

Since search engines prefer fresh content, it’s a good idea to use your blog to post plenty of copy answering questions that people might have in your industry. Make sure to include your keywords in the title, tags, and headlines consistently, and organically. At the same time, you can expand your content marketing strategy efforts by sharing locally-optimized pieces on social media too.

image: http://cdn.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/pasted-image-0-3-1-600×398.png

Source

Tip 5: Build an Appropriate Link Strategy

Links that span outwards from your company’s website to other websites, and vice versa, are essential to your business marketing strategy. These links help to indicate the authority and credibility of your business to Google, so that it knows where it should rank you. Links are great, but if you try to game the system and fill your pages full of them, you’re just going to end up damaging your reputation in the long-run.

Instead, you need to focus on building strong, reputable links with local companies, brands, and communities. For instance:

  • You could share links on social media to stories from local publications that are relevant to your industry
  • Include links to your website in your email newsletters, and the updates you post for customers
  • Sponsor or host local events that allow you to link out to neighborhood businesses, or ask for guest-spots posting on their blogs

Perhaps the most important part of building an authentic link strategy is to make sure it’s authentic. Ensure you know exactly who you’re linking to, and that the people you connect with are relevant to your business. Also, make sure that you don’t venture out to third-party content providers who claim they can fill your content full of SEO-boosting links. Trust me when I say this could have a disastrous impact on your reputation.

image: http://cdn2.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/pasted-image-0-4-1-600×343.png

Source

Tip 6: Post more Customer Reviews Where They Matter Most

According to recent surveys, around 84% of people trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation. In other words, if someone isn’t sure whether they should buy your product, they’ll go elsewhere for advice on what to do.

Google has put a great deal of emphasis on customer reviews lately, showing snippets on the search engine results page with bright golden stars designed to draw attention to your business. Getting those reviews to show up in relation to your business is one of the best ways you can boost your business trust levels, and enhance click-through rates.

The best way to increase your chances of getting great reviews for your company is to offer incredible products or services, and simply ask your customers for what you need. Some people will be so impressed by your product that they’ll be happy to write a testimonial for you without any prompting, whereas others might need the promise of a future discount to get their fingers twitching.

Either way, by adding positive customer reviews to your local SEO marketing strategy, you’re giving people close to your business the information they need, when they need it most. If someone passes your store and wonders whether you’re trustworthy, or worth their money, then all they need to do is look at those golden stars.

Building Local SEO

Obviously, building your local presence is only one aspect of a killer marketing campaign, but it’s one of the best ways to combine your offline and online advertising efforts for more traffic and more customers. If you can give your customers the information they need to find your store, and then offer an incredible experience that links back to your brand, you’ll be on your way to a profit-generating reputation in no time.

Source: Going Local for 2017: Local Search Engine Marketing Strategy

27- Jun2017
Posted By: DPadmin
108 Views

10 Things Your Competitors Can Teach You About SEO

Photo credit: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

Original thinking in the business world can be of great help, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn from others. Remember the old saying, keep your friends close and your enemies closer? Well, this may sound sneaky, but learning how your competitors do their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can…

Original thinking in the business world can be of great help, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn from others. Remember the old saying, keep your friends close and your enemies closer? Well, this may sound sneaky, but learning how your competitors do their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can really teach you a lot on how you can structure your marketing strategy.

Your competition is one of the obstacles your business will have to face in order to be successful. Keep in mind that in the world of SEO and digital marketing, there’s ideally no one closer to you than your competitors. In this case, why would you overlook learning about them when developing your strategy? You can find a wealth of information and achieve a competitive advantage by simply researching and analyzing your competition.

1. Identify your Real Competitors

When finding your real competition, I recommend that you include any website or company that you compete with for web visibility and traffic, regardless of whether you are selling the same product or not. A comprehensive competitive analysis is not a small task, but it will be worth it. Aim at making a list of around five to 10 competitors in your geographical location and your industry. Here is how I went about finding my top competitors:

  1. Use industry keywords to look for businesses similar to your on the major search engines
  2. Set up a Google Alerts to ensure you receive all the necessary updates on your competing products/services, and even keep up with industry news
  3. Find more competitors in your niche via associations’ member directories

2. Determine the Keywords You Compete For

Once you have determine your competition, it’s now time to analyze the keywords, including the long-tail keywords that you are competing for. You can actually begin analyzing who ranks for the same terms. The Google Keyword Planner tool is what I used for this, where you just enter the competitors URL and the tool will show you the keywords related to the topics and content on their website. You can even identify the level of competition and keyword volume with this tool.

3. Explore their Content Marketing

To improve your rankings enhance your brand awareness, and increase your organic traffic, you have to produce high-quality content regularly and consistently. This is one of the most effective tools in Search Engine Optimization, and gaining more leads. You can learn from the pitfalls of your competition, as well as from their strengths. Check how often they post, the quality of their content, whether they share on social media, and assess the number of views.

4. Social Media Behavior

What social media platforms do your competitors use? What kind of content do they post there? Are there any links to videos, articles, or infographics? Do they use keywords on their social media posts? Have a look at the groups they interact with and how they do it.

5. Audience

Some of the best information about your competitors you will find in blog comments. Comb through the comments you find and find out what the audience is saying. Work with the information you find to improve your product, so that it has everything the audience really want.

6. Product Analysis

Do a comprehensive analysis on the products they offer and find loopholes in the development where possible, this way, you will find features you can include in the products you offer. Or you can combine you expertise in their product, put an effective spin on it, and sell it at a competitive price.

7. User Experience

With online marketing, we are transitioning into the responsive formats to provide a consistent experience on all devices and screen types. The insurgence of mobile marketing means that user experience will still be key in customer satisfaction. Find out what your competitors are doing, so that you can keep up as the technology advances.

8. Backlinks

Before you start on your link building strategies, it pays to scope out what the competition is doing. You can find some potential link opportunities for your website. Use your detective skills to find out more about their high-authority backlinks, distinguish between spam and quality links, and to identify potential backlink sources.

9. Conversion Techniques

Some businesses utilize lead magnets or provide their audience with free offers to entice them to sign into their mailing lists. The kind of enticements and lead magnets they are using can provide you with an insight on exactly what you can do to increase the value of your offering, and therefore gain more leads.

10. Local SEO

It’s important to note the Search Engine Optimization efforts of your competitors in your local landscape, especially if you operate from a physical location. Find out if your competition has updated their local profiles in the popular online directories. Look for consistency in the contact information on their profiles and on their website, how well they have utilized their profile features, and if they bother to interact with local reviewers. I actually Created an ebook on this late 2016 of last year titled: Master Guide: To Dominating Your Competition in Local SEO.

This ebook is free and packed with strategies that are still current with resources for local SEO, along with how to overtake your competition!

Now that you have gained some valuable information about the Search Engine Optimization strategies your competition, get started! You are now at a better position to enhance your online presence, and to outshine them all.

Source: 10 Things Your Competitors Can Teach You About SEO

15- Jun2017
Posted By: DPadmin
228 Views

4 things to note when optimizing for local SEO in 2017 | Search Engine Watch

According to digital marketing expert Jordan Kasteler, 1 in 3 of all Google searches has local intent. This means users search for and expect local information

SEO for businesses in 2017 will be revolutionary.

Within the space of 3 years, it has become significantly easier to find businesses, stores or items nearby, creating a shift in user’s intent and search behavior.

Users no longer have to include their location in search queries, such as inputting “coffee shops in Queens” into Google.

This trend has given way to the “near me” search query – Google “coffee shop near me” while in Queens, and Google will fetch coffee shops in your local area.

According to digital marketing expert Jordan Kasteler, 1 in 3 of all Google searches has local intent. This means users search for and expect local information in SERPs, and now more than ever, priority should be given to optimizing on-site and off-site strategies for local SEO.

Below are a few things to note when optimizing for local SEO in 2017.

#1: Title tags and meta descriptions still work

Title tags and meta descriptions are on-site HTML elements which reflect the content of your page, and are shown in SERPs and browser tabs as text. With Google increasing the width of the SERP to 600px, the length of title tags falls between 40 and 50 characters (best practices) while meta descriptions should be a maximum of 160 characters.

Titles display what your page is about to both visitors and search engine crawlers, while meta descriptions summarize the content of your page. Your title tags and meta descriptions must include the keywords you are trying to rank for, for example, “cheap hotels in Las Vegas” (title tag includes a keyword and locality).

Titles and meta descriptions must be unique, compelling and descriptive, as this can affect click-through rates from search results to your page.

Using the length guidelines above, ensure your title and descriptions are displaying in full on the SERP. Use tools like Yoast’s SEO plugin, SERP preview tool, and SEOmofo to emulate how your title tags and meta description will look in search results.

#2: Keyword research

Keyword research represents the very foundation of your SEO campaign and when done properly, keywords can drive traffic and rankings for your web pages. Keywords represent terms and phrases people type as search queries to find local businesses.

Keyword research for local SEO involves optimizing your web pages for keywords with geo-modifiers – i.e. place names and locations. For a furniture making business, a generic, non-local keyword might be “furniture makers” but for businesses optimizing for local SEO, an acceptable keyphrase would be “furniture makers Portland” or “furniture makers Portland Oregon”.

To optimize your keyword research for local SEO, brainstorm keywords or phrases with a geo-modifier that customers might use when searching for a business like yours. Run generated phrases or words through Google Keyword Planner or Keyword.io to get keyword ideas together with monthly search traffic stats.

Keyword research can be time-consuming, but rewarding when done properly. For a more in-depth guide, check out our complete guide to keyword research for SEO.

#3: Optimize for Google My Business and Bing Places for Business

Google My Business, formerly known as Google Places, allows you to display your business hours, phone number and directions to your office on Google Search and Maps. This service is free and will aid your SEO efforts, as your business is listed when customers search for your services.

When optimizing your Google My Business page, remember to upload your business logo and photos of your business (staff, office building, etc.).

For an online business with no physical location, you can hide your address, but be sure to fill in and validate every other piece of information entered. A misplaced phone number or wrong address can result in you losing customers and revenue.

For Bing Places, the process is similar to Google My Business. Though Bing cannot be compared to Google in terms of use and search traffic (3.5 billion searches per day), some customers nevertheless still use the search engine, and you might have what they are in need of.

 

#4: Local structured data

Structured data, sometimes referred to as schema markup, are codes which are added to websites to provide search engines with in-depth information about your products, your business offering, prices of your products, location-based offerings and much more.

According to ACMQUEUE, a measly 31.3 percent of websites use schema markup, and most of these on a very basic level. Schema markup on your websites make your business stand out in the SERP with things like rich snippets, which in turn will boost your CTR.

There are various options for businesses when implementing Schema markup, you can optimize your website according to your business type (dentist, travel agency, etc.), events (business listing in upcoming events) and location (location markup).

Google is forcing marketers to use schema markup and is rewarding websites who use this feature as structured data helps crawlers understand your web pages and the content in it. To check if your website is optimized for Schema markup, you can check out Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.

Conclusion

The above points are a drop in the ocean for optimizing for local SEO, but implementing the points above will have you generating results and better conversion rates.

Source: 4 things to note when optimizing for local SEO in 2017 | Search Engine Watch

15- Jun2017
Posted By: DPadmin
106 Views

Be a mad scientist to be more successful in local SEO

With my recaps of the Local SEO sessions at SMX West last month, we had a bit of a break from Greg’s Soapbox. Never fear, it’s back in full force this month!

I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend several large conferences over the last few months, and I have been a part of many discussions about what really works for local SEO. It seems that most people fall into one of two camps, and there’s a growing debate between the two.

On one side, we have people who hold the annual Local Search Ranking Factors (LSRF) survey, now run by Darren Shaw at Whitespark, as gospel. On the other, you have the anti-LSRF group, who think that the LSRF study is opinion-based poppycock (yes, someone actually called it “poppycock”). This side favors the insights gleaned from Andrew Shotland and Dan Leibson’s massive study of local ranking factors, in which they attempted to reverse-engineer Google’s local algorithm.

In many cases, but not all, the results of the study align with those of the survey — but in some cases, there’s a huge difference.

As I sat through these many conversations and debates over the last few months, I noticed something unsettling. Nearly every person I talked to on either “side” of the question seemed to fall into that camp by blind faith. They believed one way or the other because that’s the side of the fence they were “raised on,” so to speak.

Forget what anyone says — test it for yourself!

Maybe I’m just wearing my (officially licensed and available for sale) Greg’s Soapbox Tinfoil Hat, but in my entire career as an SEO, I’ve never simply accepted anything as the truth. I’ve always thought of myself as a bit of a mad scientist, conducting crazy experiments to see what really worked… and I’m incredibly surprised that so many people don’t look at things the same way!

It’s insane to read a blog post or two, or see a dynamic speaker at a conference, or even listen to your boss and trust that you’re hearing the absolute best truth. We all know there are hundreds of factors that influence the relevancy of a site, and being local SEOs, we know that Google treats different business types and even different search queries in vastly different ways.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not knocking the Local Search Ranking Factors study. I’ve been a participant for years, and I firmly believe it’s an amazing tool for anyone in the industry. But I also think that Shotland and Leibson have the right idea: you simply must test things for yourself to be sure that things really work the way you expect them to.

To geo-optimize or not to geo-optimize?

The perfect example is geo-optimization. Most old-school local SEOs will tell you exactly how to optimize a page for a geo term, inserting it in the title tag, H1, content, alt text, URL and so on. On the flip side, the correlations in Shotland and Leibson’s study show that geo-optimization doesn’t really do anything. So who’s right?

I’m on Greg’s Soapbox, so I’m right. Here’s the answer: none of us is right.

In some cases, geo-optimization might not do squat for a website. If it’s a competitive vertical, and every site has geo-optimized out the wazoo, then of course it won’t work. It’s exactly the same issue I discussed in my post last fall about unique content no longer being important because everyone is unique.

In other verticals that might be a bit behind or a bit less competitive, geo-optimization can be a huge game-changer. If you’re working on a site, and it’s the only one in the local market that’s well-optimized for that city, then boom — you win!

The issue is this: neither the LSRF results or Shotland and Leibson’s test will tell you what’s right for your own site or your clients’ sites. You’re going to have to test things for yourself to find out what really matters.

The Local Search Ranking Factors study is incredibly valuable because it points you in what’s probably a good direction. The 40 or so participants in the study are at the absolute top of the local SEO game, and I know for a fact that every single one of them is always testing. It’s a good bet that if the LSRF study points you in a direction, it’s a smart choice to follow and test that factor for yourself.

Same thing with Shotland and Leibson’s test — there’s a good chance their data is pure gold as well, and it should give you a starting point for your own tests.

Regardless of which camp you fall into, don’t trust anything on blind faith. Become a mad scientist and test things for yourself — you’ll be a better SEO, and you’ll get much better results for your clients.

Source: http://searchengineland.com/mad-scientist-successful-local-seo-273241