8 Elements of Strong Off-Page SEO

The whole point of SEO is improving your website’s ranking in search engines. And while good SEO includes a checklist of website optimization tips, it’s the marketing that happens on other blogs, forums and websites — and even in the real world — that can really fuel a climb in the search rankings. This is called off-site SEO. It’s those aspects of marketing that raise awareness of your brand while building your reputation with your audience.

The whole point of SEO is improving your website’s ranking in search engines. And while good SEO includes a checklist of website optimization tips, it’s the marketing that happens on other blogs, forums and websites — and even in the real world — that can really fuel a climb in the search rankings.

This is called off-site SEO. It’s those aspects of marketing that raise awareness of your brand while building your reputation with your audience. Guest-writing posts for popular blogs, getting great Yelp reviews and impressing the pants off of your customers are all examples of off-site SEO. With strong off-site SEO, people will want to learn about your business before even bothering with Google. Reach that point, and SEO gets a whole lot easier.

Read on for eight elements of strong off-page SEO that you should incorporate into your marketing strategy.

1. Sell a Fantastic Product

This is ground zero for off-site SEO. Great marketing can sometimes make up for a ho-hum product, but only temporarily. Eventually, the truth comes out — and good luck getting people excited about something that’s average at best.

In addition to providing goods and services that are actually useful and valuable, you should also focus on how you can sweeten the deal with remarkable associated offers. Back your product with a lengthy warranty. Create a generous return policy. Open a tech-support line. Don’t just sell your product — convince customers that your business is the best place to buy from.

2. Seek Out Higher-Quality Inbound Links

Since the earliest days of SEO, inbound links have played important roles in establishing a website’s credibility. In recent years, though, Google started penalizing sites with larger volumes of low-quality inbound links. It’s far more important nowadays to focus on high-quality inbound links from reputable blogs and websites.

With this in mind, you should always be thinking of ways to get more links from high-quality sites. Consider writing guest blogs or informative articles for influential websites in your industry, or pitch story ideas to your local media to get inbound links from news stories. You can also build high-quality inbound links by interacting with influential industry figures on Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media. You might even find link-building opportunities with clients and business partners.

3. Be the Best at Customer Service

Word of mouth is extremely powerful — not just the good, but the bad. Customers who have great experiences with retailers and local businesses are much more likely to become loyal shoppers. On the flipside, customers who feel spurned, overlooked or insulted might vent to their friends or, worse, rip your business on social media.

Simply put, be the best at customer service. Treat every customer with reverence, and make sure your employees are fully prepared to answer questions about your goods, services and policies. Everyone wants to be treated with respect. Do this well, and customers will look for your website — and further cement your online authority — the next time they need help.

4. Seek Positive Reviews From Customers

Did you know 88 percent of online shoppers incorporate reviews into their purchase decisions? Or that more than half of young adults ages 18 to 34 trust online reviews more than friends and family? We could go on and on, but the point is this — businesses backed by positive online reviews are much more likely to be searched for on Google.

Measuring Custom Campaigns With UTM Codes

Custom Campaigns give you the ability to add campaign parameters to the destination URLs of your blog posts, online marketing ads, social media content, etc. That way, you’re able to collect data about those campaigns and understand where the campaigns are performing the best.

Google Analytics logoWhat are Custom Campaigns?

Custom Campaigns give you the ability to add campaign parameters to the destination URLs of your blog posts, online marketing ads, social media content, etc. That way, you’re able to collect data about those campaigns and understand where the campaigns are performing the best.

In this post, I’ll walk through how to build URL parameters to measure the effectiveness of Custom Campaigns in Google Analytics.

Kia blog post main image

Best Practices for Building URLs

What are URL Parameters?

Parameters are snippets that you can add to the end of your URLs. There are five main parameters that must be paired with a value that you assign. Each parameter-value pair is what contains the information you want to track that’s related to your campaign.

The table below outlines the name and definition of each parameter you’ll find within common URL builder tools such as the Campaign URL Builder by Google.

Kia's blog post chart

How to Identify URL Parameters

For example, let’s take a recent blog post of mine, “Hacking the New Google Drive Features,” and add URL parameters to it. In order to measure the traffic to the post that comes from our branded Twitter account, we identify the following parameters:

  • utm_source: twitter
  • utm_medium: social
  • utm_campaign: branded
  • utm_term: n/a
  • utm_content: n/a

Our destination URL is now https://st-tech.blog/new-google-drive-features-2017/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=branded. You’ll notice we didn’t include utm_term or utm_content. That’s because we reserve utilizing those snippets for PPC campaigns.

Why Use URL Parameters?

These parameters will allow us to effectively measure the traffic received from the specified criteria. When a user clicks on a custom URL, the parameters are sent to Google Analytics, and the data made available in the Campaigns report under the Acquisition tab.

Kia's blog post example

This gives us tons of more freedom in terms of our analysis. We’ll be able to drill down in Google Analytics and pivot this data to tell our user’s journey to the post. This type of data is actionable and can have a significant impact on the bottom line: ROI.

When NOT to Tag URLs …

Remember, though, as tempting as it may be to try and measure everything about where your traffic comes from, remember to tag only what you need for effective analysis.

Why? Because the more parameters you add to URLs, the more complicated you can make it in the end. Google Analytics automatically tracks the majority of these parameters and spending time on tagging for the sake of tagging isn’t the point.

The goal of tagging destination URLs is to differentiate traffic with more specificity than Google Analytics already does.

Do you use Custom Campaigns in Google Analytics? How has tagging helped you measure your campaigns more effectively? If not, give the Campaign URL Builder a try and follow my tips for more detailed analysis of traffic sources to your site or blog.

Cool Tech for Content Curation, Project Management

When assessing the best tools for content curation and project management, it’s important to identify what your needs are before diving into possible solutions.

When assessing the best tools for content curation and project management, it’s important to identify what your needs are before diving into possible solutions.

Need to share reliable social media content, quickly? Try Buffer. Want to keep better tabs on your editorial and social media calendars? Experiment with Trello. Looking for a marketing automation tool to synchronize your messaging across platforms? Go for IFTTT. These tools not only enhance workflow, they help streamline team communication and collaboration.

content curation, project management

Content Curation, Social Media Scheduling Tool: Buffer

buffer-connectBuffer is useful for those with small blogs (like this) who are managing social media calendars on-the-go. One of the best features is “Content Inbox,” a source for curated content tailored to the interests of your followers. You can easily push this content to your Twitter, Google+, Facebook and Instagram accounts to keep your audiences engaged throughout the day and your messaging consistent. Visit the “Analytics” tab for more on how your posts performed and even schedule top performers to Re-Buffer at a later date.

twitter-analytics1Buffer is also useful for social media scheduling with its built-in queue. You can either set your own post schedule or let Buffer choose for you based on past user engagement data.

buffer-schedule

There’s no doubt that Buffer is essential for social media marketers, content creators and anyone else looking to take control of their many social media accounts. Give Buffer a try to keep your curated content flowing without any hiccups.

Editorial Calendar, Project Management Tool: Trello

Trello is by far the most intuitive, visual and powerful tool out there for small blog creators to keep tabs on their editorial calendar. Trello is incredibly easy to learn for any type of user (whether beginner or advanced). Create lists and then drag-and-drop cards within them to supercharge the publishing process.

Trello

Label cards, add team members and use Power-Ups to integrate with Google Drive, Twitter, Slack and more. This is incredibly important for small bloggers, as content should be strictly managed and shared with the team throughout the conceptualization process.

Trello scheduling Kia Street

We use Trello for just about everything at st-tech — including our own personal to-dos. The platform’s versatility and usability make it a must-try.

Marketing Automation Tool: IFTTT

IFTTT is a fascinating automation tool in which you can create recipes that allow communication between your devices, apps and systems via the Internet of Things (IoT). This tool is heavily used for marketing automation, as well as boosting personal productivity. The interface is simple and designing recipes is even easier now, thanks to IFTTT applets.

How to Use IFTTT

IFTTT Kia blog post tech

If This, Then That is best for those who utilize a ton of Web apps and services on a daily basis. So, how does IFTTT work? You start by selecting a recipe and turning it on. Recipes are easily programmable to fit your needs as you’re able to use “ingredients” that add custom specifications.

IFTTT Kia blog post

Crafting your own recipe is perfect for those who wish to have more targeted control over their relationship with the IoT. However, there are also tons of preset applets from IFTTT’s collections that are widely beneficial, as well.

Here are three recommendations for small bloggers using IFTTT:

  1. Use Google Calendar to keep track of your Buffer posting schedule
  2. When you create a new Trello card, add an event to Google Calendar
  3. Archive every time you’re @mentioned on Twitter to a Google spreadsheet

Whether you’re a content contributor, small blogger or community manager — these tools will help you take your content to the next level.

Which tool is your favorite? Let me know in the comments section below.

Does Your Content Work? Advanced KPIs for Google Analytics

You spend tons of time making sure every word in your blog posts is perfect, but are you measuring the performance of these posts effectively?

Google Cabinet MCheck out even more about personalization and artificial intelligence with FUSE Enterprise.

You spend tons of time making sure every word in your blog posts is perfect, but are you measuring the performance of these posts effectively?

Whether you’re a Google Analytics magician or a certified beginner, GA is integral when evaluating the performance of any website (including small blogs).

For many just starting out in Google Analytics, digging through your plethora of data to unearth actionable insights is no small feat. To save your soul (and your time!) this post will walk you through how to create my go-to advanced segment: Engagement/Post.

This GA segment is simple, quick and applicable to any type of blog or business with content-focused KPIs.

Without further ado, here’s how you can take advantage of the unique segment I created to measure user engagement on my blog.

Kia blog post GA segment

What Is Google Analytics Advanced Segmentation?

Google Analytics Advanced Segments isolate specific types of traffic within your reporting views for deeper analysis. Segments essentially allow you to view GA data that follows your specified criteria. There are five ways to customize segments; by:

  • Demographics
  • Technology
  • User Behavior
  • Date of First Visit
  • Traffic Source

In addition to this list, GA provides the ability to program your parameters with conditions and/or sequences under the “Advanced” tab within the segment editor. This gives you the added flexibility of setting multiple conditions (which we’ll explore later) for your segments.

Using Advanced and Custom Segments in Google Analytics

In any view, segments can be found at the top of the screen underneath the header that contains the report’s name, your selected date range and the options for sharing. To remove/edit/share segments, toggle its settings by clicking the arrow next to each box.

kia blog post GA view

GA offers pre-set segments, such as:

  • Converters
  • Non-converters
  • Direct Traffic
  • Mobile Traffic
  • Etc.

Take a look at these later on, if you’re interested in using Google’s system segments.

Creating the ‘Engagement/Post’ Segment

My go-to segment, Engagement/Post, is unique because it gives you a refined look at the performance of specific content rather than an overall peek at website traffic.

Kia blog post Engagement/Post segment
Here’s how I define Engagement when creating the Engagement/Post segment

Next, you’ll create a condition that excludes traffic from your categorical website pages (example: home page, about us, etc.). Because it’s super-important to analyze these separately. This is because user intent and behavior varies, depending on where they are on your site. Bundling all activity without distinguishing between the pages that matter most is a sure-fire way to fudge up a good GA analysis.

Of course, this can all be done in a variety of ways without using advanced segments (think: filters, views, content groupings, etc.). But segmentation in GA is a foolproof way of validating this type of traffic data without getting your hands too dirty.

Kia blog post Engagement segment detail
Your GA segment should look something like this now

This advanced segment will allow you to better understand which content drives the most engaged users on your site. Compare it against other segments for best results.

Explore the Solutions Gallery

Kia blog post GA gallery

The GA Solutions Gallery is for those interested in importing dashboards, custom reports and segments into their own GA accounts. Essentially, this platform serves as a forum for sharing user-generated GA solutions.

The Solutions Gallery is perfect for beginners, because there aren’t any major commitments or heavy setup involved with importing. For pros, check out the GA Solutions Gallery if you’re looking for specific, detailed segments that align with common KPIs.

Feeling lucky? Upload or create your own solution to share publicly for reuse in the gallery.

Recommended Dashboards for Content Marketers

  • The Content Analysis Dashboard provides you with insights that help evaluate the efficiency of your content. The dashboard widgets show the pages that are underperforming or overperforming so you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
  • The Engagement and Loyalty Dashboard helps you analyze traffic growth over time to improve loyalty and engagement with your content.

You can also create your own dashboard in Google Analytics under the “Customization” tab. The tab is great for everyday GA users who wish to make shortcuts, craft custom reports and receive alerts.

Marketers, what’s your opinion on my Engagement/Post segment? Did you implement it, or did you find another segment that matched your needs in the Solutions Gallery?

Learn even more about the convergence of technology and branded content at the FUSE Enterprise summit. Artificial intelligence and personalization will be featured among many other techniques and technologies.

Small Blog, Big Strategy

It’s incredibly tough for even the biggest brands to master content marketing. So what about small blogs? How are they staying relevant today? Microtargeting and interest-based awareness have changed digital strategy and these tactics are now home to small bloggers.

Kia Street blogIt’s incredibly tough for even the biggest brands to master content marketing. So what about small blogs? How are they staying relevant today? Microtargeting and interest-based awareness have changed digital strategy and these tactics are now home to small bloggers.

Let’s call “small” any blog with more than five active content contributors and at least a few published posts. Sound like you? Keep reading for more of my take on how to amplify your blog’s online presence. If you site has yet to be born, refer to this easy-to-digest explanation on the first steps of getting a website — securing a domain name.

kia street blog graphicDevelop Reasonable KPIs

No matter how big or small the budget, there are plenty of ways to get your content out there. For example:

  • Be at the top of results when users search for you on Google
  • Maximize reach and awareness of new posts immediately after release
  • Drive and sustain website traffic via Twitter and referrals
  • Focus on what is most important to your business: such as user acquisition, overall awareness and user engagement.

This allows you to divide and conquer with paid search, native advertising, social media and affiliate marketing. Consider this perspective when developing your own KPIs.

Aggregate Your Audience Data

What does your audience like on each channel? What do they care about?

Ask your audience data a lot of questions to help you dive further into who your readers are, how they use the chosen platform and what type of content they respond to most. Now see if you can match your blog’s content to the trends found within your audience data. This can help you understand if you’re offering the right content for your audience.

Think of your analysis as instant market research. Your audience data allows you to truly map out your customer’s journey. Some marketers are innovating this concept entirely by creating content paths to match their content marketing goals.

Identify a Content Strategy

Once you’ve solidified your goals and target audience, examine your strategy. Nix any initiatives that don’t contribute to your ultimate mission. What is it that you ultimately want your audience to do? The answer to this question should drive your content marketing strategy.

Experiment With Social Tactics

Experiment with targeted content that is engaging and personalized. Be transparent and interesting to your users. Here are a few simple ideas to make this happen:

  • Host a live Q&A panel on Periscope featuring your editorial staff;
  • Let the audience choose the topic of your next blog post via Twitter polling;
  • Find, attend and capture industry events with Instagram Stories.

Depending on your audience and the theme of your blog, there are many ways of standing out to both followers and non-followers, alike. Play with and test different tactics for best results!

kia blog post chartLearn, Try, Repeat

The best piece of advice for any small blogger is to learn, try, repeat. Here are three principles for riding the trend waves of your industry:

There are tons of sources that can provide you with the training you need to be successful in content marketing. Use them!

You can never go wrong with experimentation, but you can definitely go wrong without it. Don’t be hesitant toward failure.

Digital changes by the second — and so do the needs of your audience. Remember to periodically optimize content to fit the needs of your users.

Learn, try, repeat: It’s the most effective way for small blogs to sustain authority and relevancy in 2017 (and beyond!)

How Much Content Is Too Much?

Content marketing can be traced back to the 1895 publication of The Furrow, a magazine launched by John Deere. It now circulates to over 1.5 million farmers in 12 languages to 40 different countries. Was The Furrow a strategically smart marketing idea? Absolutely.

The Content Show That Never Ends: Repurposing Like a Media CompanyWhat started as a way to educate and inform farmers on the latest farming trends has spawned an entire industry.

According to The Content Marketing Institute, content marketing can be traced back to the 1895 publication of The Furrow, a magazine launched by John Deere. It now circulates to over 1.5 million farmers in 12 languages to 40 different countries. Was The Furrow a strategically smart marketing idea? Absolutely. Does it continue to have a role in John Deere’s marketing toolbox? Definitely. Have some brands missed the point of this strategy? Without a doubt.

Since farming knowledge, insight and technique is constantly changing and new trends are emerging regularly, it makes sense that The Furrow is at the center of this key industry. But 54 percent of B2B marketers state that creating engaging content is their number one challenge. Other top challenges include producing consistent and/or a variety of content.

As a result, many blogs, whitepapers, videos, etc. are often full of uninspired messages that don’t engage readers or help position the brand in a meaningful way. They are merely “filler” to allow a marketer to check a box. Blog post? Done!

So what’s the best way to evaluate how much content you should be generating and how often? The answer, unfortunately, is not simple.

Since the strategic purpose of any content should be to help build positive brand awareness, keep your brand top-of-mind with your customers and prospects. Why deliver content that doesn’t help your buyer? The buyer should be the focal point of all of your content: understand their needs, their pain points, the problems they’re facing, the hierarchy for purchase decision within an organization and what those influencers need in terms of information.

Content topics can often be best identified by talking to the sales force and/or your customer service reps. They can share the top questions asked by buyers, the top objections they have to overcome and the most asked service issues. Supplement those insights with some investigative work in top keyword searches using Google Analytics, and you should be able to develop a laundry list of topics for meaningful content. Because at the end of the day, buyers don’t want “content” — they want solutions to their problems.

The reality is, no one will notice if you don’t post a blog today. No one will complain if they don’t get your tips ‘n tricks for the week, or if you skip a day or two of messaging. No one except the person monitoring your output — which I promise you, is only your boss.

With all the marketing automation solutions out there, too many marketers are worrying about how to keep feeding the machine. But it’s about quality, not quantity.

The Art of Quality Link Building

So much of SEO has changed over the past 20 years. These days, search engine algorithms penalize keyword stuffing and ignore meta keywords, and having a website that displays on mobile devices is arguably more important than desktop performance. As technology evolves, more about SEO will continue to evolve. But the importance of links hasn’t changed.

Link building? What are you, a blacksmith?So much of SEO has changed over the past 20 years. These days, search engine algorithms penalize keyword stuffing and ignore meta keywords, and having a website that displays on mobile devices is arguably more important than desktop performance. As technology evolves, more about SEO will continue to evolve. But the importance of link building hasn’t changed.

While other aspects of SEO either get your website indexed or clarify its relevance, links will determine your website’s reputation and popularity. If your website is linked by trade publications, business partners or scores of customers, then the search engines will view your site in a positive light and increase your rankings. On the other hand, a website with very few inbound links — or, worse, inbound links from spam websites — is more likely to be penalized in favor of more popular competitors.

Remember, a search engine’s worth is its ability to provide users with the content that’s likely to be most relevant to their needs. Trusted, popular websites are most likely to have that content. So if you want to get the most out of SEO, then you’ll need to work on building links.

How Do Search Engines Evaluate Links?

As stated above, not all links are equal. Understanding how search engines evaluate links can help you know which links to pursue. Here are some of the more important link factors:

  • Overall popularity: The most popular websites tend to have the most valuable links. Truly popular websites on regional, state, national or global levels tend to have scores of reputable links and strong social media signals.
  • Topic relevance: Look for links from other businesses, publications and associations that are relevant to your line of work. If you run an auto mechanic business, then you won’t get much value from a link about sporting goods.
  • Spam: The Internet is filled with spam sites that aren’t useful for anyone. Search engine algorithms are continually adjusted to devalue spam links.
  • Relevant anchor text: The text that makes up a contextual hyperlink is referred to as anchor text. If several websites link to a site using the same or similar anchor text, then search engines will be more likely to view the linked site as an authority for that keyword term.

Search engines evaluate all these factors and more when determining link quality. Links from social media are also becoming more important, although SEO experts are divided on exactly how search engines value these links.

How to Get Links

Now that you know what search engines look for, the next step is getting others to link to your site — and this doesn’t need to be a struggle. Here, we’ll review five ways to build a network of reputable links.

  1. Ask Customers and Business Partners
    Your greatest supporters are likely to link to your website if you ask. You can make it easy by giving them badges, logos or icons that link back to your site. Many of your customers won’t have actual websites, but people who have blogs can post about your business and include links (with relevant anchor text for bonus points). You can also ask customers and partners to connect with your business on Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels.
  2. Start a Blog
    Blogging has several benefits in the world of SEO. At the very least, blogging is an easy way to populate your site with fresh, relevant, local content. Do a good enough job, and customers and business partners will link to your blog and provide you with a wealth of quality links. Don’t limit your blog to writing about what’s happening in your business; write about your industry and your community, or even write seasonal do-it-yourself pieces that appeal to your customers’ needs. Make your blog a valuable resource and others are likely to build your links for you. You can also send your most interesting blog entries to bloggers, trade associations and others who might want to publish your posts with links.
  3. Do Something Special
    Get others to write about your business by doing something special in your community. Host a charitable event, launch a contest or spread the word about an innovative new service, product or technology. Local reporters, bloggers and publicists for political organizations and trade associations are always looking for good stories.
  4. Register With Site Directories
    Take advantage of popular business review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List that allow you to place a link to your website. You should also create a profile in Google My Business. Registering your business with these well-known directories has numerous other SEO benefits in addition to being quick-and-easy links.
  5. Leave Comments
    Commenting on blogs, forums, news articles and other content is a quick way to expand your link network. However, largely as a result of spammers, search engine algorithms have evolved to minimize the value of content links. But while this tactic is less productive than other link-building options, a high volume of content links on quality sites can still positively impact your SEO.

7 Quick and Easy SEO Tips for Small Businesses

Start off simple. If you’re new to SEO, that’s the best advice I can offer. Search engine optimization is an ongoing effort with many moving parts, and the payoffs are never immediate. But you don’t need to be an SEO guru to start moving the needle on your search engine rankings. Start with some simple tips to boost your SEO — and work at them consistently — and good things will happen.

Easy SEO TipsStart off simple.

If you’re new to SEO, that’s the best advice I can offer. Search engine optimization is an ongoing effort with many moving parts, and the payoffs are never immediate. But you don’t need to be an SEO guru to start moving the needle on your search engine rankings. Start with some simple tips to boost your SEO — and work at them consistently — and good things will happen.

Here are seven easy SEO tips that any small business owner can do. You don’t need to be a Web designer or have years of experience in marketing. Of course, you’ll want to learn more about SEO and expand your efforts as time goes on. Until then, these tips are more than enough to get you on your way.

1. Start a Blog

Content is king. That’s an old SEO adage that you’ll hear repeatedly if you hadn’t heard it already. Google’s algorithm is programmed to favor websites with unique, relevant content that’s highly useful to visitors.

Starting a blog is a great way to get useful content on your site. And there’s so much you can do with a blog. You can write about new products and industry trends, or you can engage your customers by offering helpful advice. Blog posts can help to establish your business as a local authority, and they can also be shared on social media to provide backlinks and positive social media signals — both of which are helpful for your website’s SEO.

Google’s search algorithms also favor websites with regularly updated content. Maintaining a blog serves this purpose. And if shoppers like what you have to say, they’ll be more likely to bookmark your site and return for future purchases.

2. Create a Google My Business Account

Creating a Google My Business profile allows your business to be shown in the local “maps” results of Google.com. If your business has walk-in customers, then that’s a big deal. Think about how many people use their smartphones to find nearby places to eat, shop and run errands. You can get an influx of new customers from the few minutes needed to start a Google My Business profile.

3. Start Building Backlinks

Building a network of backlinks (hyperlinks to your website from other sites) can establish your business as an authority in your field, resulting in a higher search ranking. To start building backlinks, create profiles for your business on sites such as Yelp, Bing Local and Foursquare. Build a company page on LinkedIn, and create a YouTube channel if you can offer informative or instructional videos — the possibilities are endless.

As you start profiles on different sites, remember to list your business information exactly as it’s listed in Google My Business. Doing so will boost your SEO efforts.

4. Get Your Titles, Headers and Meta Description Tags in Order

Titles and headers help Google determine which search terms are relevant for pages throughout your website. For example, if you owned a formalwear shop, then the wedding dress page should have the term “wedding dresses” in the page Title and a variation of that phrase in the <h1> header. The page Title is not visible on the page so you’ll need to view the source code to review your page Titles. The <h1> header is usually the main headline above the page content, and there should only be one, unique <h1> per page.

Like the page Titles, the meta description is also not visible on the page, but it does appear with your website in the search results. You can think of your Title and Meta Description like an advertisement in Google’s search results.

5. Ask Your Customers to Write Reviews

Reviews are helpful for small business SEO especially when they’re positive. Always ask your customers if they’ll post reviews to your Google My Business page or any other online review sites you’ve joined.

And really, you should create profiles on as many of these sites as possible. Angie’s List, Yelp and TripAdvisor are three of the most popular. Remember to make sure your name, address, and phone number (aka your NAP) on these sites match exactly with your Google My Business profile. As noted above, these citations can make a sizeable impact on your local SEO. Positive reviews can be even more impactful because they can lead to more prospects turning into customers.

6. Mention Your City and State

Boost your local SEO by frequently listing your company’s city and state throughout your website. Don’t overdo it, but putting this information in your meta tags, your home page <h1> header and throughout your content is helpful.

If you have a blog — which was one of the tips listed above — then articles pertaining to how your business is relevant to your city and region are also helpful. Mentions of your city and state can influence Google to favor your website in local search results.

7. Make Sure Your Site Works on Mobile

More people search Google nowadays using smartphones and tablets than desktops and laptops. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, then your mobile search engine ranking is likely to take a hit. Remember that Google’s algorithm is tuned to connect people with sites that offer good user experiences. A site that’s not optimized for mobile won’t display correctly and may not even function as intended.

WordPress and other online publishing tools offer free website templates that are ready for mobile users. So you’re probably in good shape if you use this kind of platform. However, you may need to enlist a Web developer to convert your site for mobile. While this could be expensive, it’s well worth the cost. Otherwise, you risk losing more than half of your potential online customers.

Conclusion

Getting started in SEO doesn’t have to be a big deal, and this guide proves it. Anything you can do to improve your SEO – even the small things – will pay off over time. Just be patient and don’t get overwhelmed. Keep your process simple, and learn new things when you can. Eventually, your quick-hitting efforts will snowball and your website will climb in the rankings.

Want more SEO tips?  Click here to get a copy of our Ultimate Local SEO Checklist.

My Account Was Hacked! A Lesson in Customer Service

If you’ve read my blog before, you know I love Starbucks. When taking a road trip, I use Google maps to find the closest location when I need a little pick-me-up. When flying, I seek them out in airports. And while recently strolling down the street in Lima, Peru, I spied that familiar green logo and my husband immediately knew I’d have to stop in for my favorite latté.

If you’ve read my blog before, you know I love Starbucks. When taking a road trip, I use Google maps to find the closest location when I need a little pick-me-up. When flying, I seek them out in airports. And while recently strolling down the street in Lima, Peru, I spied that familiar green logo and my husband immediately knew I’d have to stop in for my favorite latté.

Several years ago I signed up for their loyalty program, tied my Starbucks card into one of my credit cards and now proudly carry my own personal Starbucks Gold Card that is always “filled” with enough financial credit to ensure I can support my addiction.

I was sitting at my desk last week responding to emails when suddenly an automated email from Starbucks popped up thanking me for “reloading” my Gold Card. I thought it a bit odd, as I hadn’t visited a Starbucks in over a week and usually, as soon as I hit my pre-determined minimum, it reloads on the spot.

A minute later I received another automated email telling me they had “reloaded” my card. “Hmmm …” I thought, “There’s a glitch in their email system because I got that email twice.”

A minute after that, I received another email confirming my Starbucks Card Balance Transfer of $XXX from my Gold Card to a different Starbucks card number.

Wait … What?!?

I looked back at the first reload email and compared it to the second reload email and realized there were two different transaction numbers … And now it all made sense.

It seems someone had hacked into my account, transferred $XXX from my credit card to my Gold Card, did it again, and then transferred the entire amount to their own Starbucks card! I was flabbergasted.

I immediately called Starbucks customer service and the guy on the other end of the phone could not have handled the situation any better if he tried.