Tag Archives: SEO


Link Building for Local Businesses

Date Posted: March 12, 2015 by


I recently wrote about an overall SEO strategy for restaurants.

While having a great website with a killer menu is awesome, you’ll need to do a few more things to get in Google’s good graces. One of the major ranking factors that encourages the search engines to grant you some nice organic traffic is the number and quality of the links that are pointing to your site. Why are links so important?

A link is a clickable reference from one site to another. You can also think of a link as a vote of confidence from one to site to another. The more times that websites link to your site, the more times that other sites are saying that yours is an authoritative site on the web. However, just like in life, quality is more important than quanity here. For example, a link from CNN.com to your website may be more powerful than 100 links from lower quality blogs.When you build these links, you are transferring SEO value from one site to the next. By building up this SEO value, you are increasing the ranking potential of your site as a whole.

While this may sound complicated in theory, in practice, it’s pretty straightforward. Your mission is to find websites that want to mention your local business. Here are a few ways you can do this.

  1. Guest Blogging

Guest blogging involves you writing content that includes a link to your site for another site. This is a win/win/win. The site you are writing for gets quality content and time back in their day to spend time with their friends and family. The site’s readers get quality content from a different perspective that is consistent with the overall theme of the site and you get to put your content (and brand) in front of a readership that you don’t have to work hard to build. And, of course, you get that juicy link pointing back to your site to drive your SEO efforts.

  1. Citations

A citation is a mention of your site that gives the readers an opportunity to review your site or service. Yelp.com is a very big player in this space. There are probably hundreds of these all around the web. Some have more SEO value than others, but they are all important in some way. While the SEO value that is transferred to your site may be minimal, the power is in the mention and the potential traffic that will be sent to your site. Here are a few on which you should concentrate. While this is specific to the restaurant industry, there are others that cater to specific local industries.

  • Urbanspoon
  • Google Places
  • CityVoter
  • MenuPages
  • Yelp
  • OpenTable
  • Zagat

 

  1. Sponsorships

While the others before this require no monetary investment, there are some opportunities out there that can provide a lot of value with a small piece of your marketing budget. Don’t worry, you don’t have to break the bank for this. Here are some ideas:

  • Sponsor a local little league team. They are always looking for money to help kids, they don’t require a huge investment and you will do some good in your neighborhood
  • Sponsor a local event. Google something like “local events” and you are sure to find something
  • Sponsor a MeetUp group. Go to Meetup.com and do a keyword search for the industry that you are in. There will surely be a group out there that wouldn’t mind supporting your brand for a little pocket change
  1. Interviews

Sometimes, your most valuable asset is your time. Let’s say you are a local lawyer and you want to build some links to your practice. Why not give some of your time to a local startup blog that needs some content. You can use your law expertise to speak about topics that are relevant to the startup community such as “how to start a c corp” or “things to consider before accepting venture capital.”

Creativity is important here. Using the same lawyer example, maybe you want to work with a local hip hop blog to share your perspective on getting your songs licensed to use on television shows. The possibilities are out there and they are endless if you are creative enough.

  1. Just be a good person

Sometimes, just being yourself is enough to earn press and links. For example, Wil Reynolds from SEER Interactive slept outside to raise money for a great cause. This brought attention to his non-profit and they also linked to his donation page.

So, there you have it. Some straightforward ways to earn some valuable links for your local business. If you need some more help and you’d like to work with us. Feel free to sign up for our free SEO Audit. We’d love to help!

Restaurant SEO

Date Posted: November 19, 2014 by


Running a restaurant is difficult. You have to worry about customer service, ordering ingredients, payroll, taxes, benefits and…oh yea… you have to make great food. While your plate is already full (no pun intended) (I laughed) the last thing that you want to worry about is marketing. Unfortunately, having great food just doesn’t cut it (pun); marketing is a necessary evil.

While there are many different ways to market your site, Search Engine Optimization (or SEO for short) is one that is so important, but often overlooked. According to Wikipedia, SEO is “the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results.” SEO is an online marketing tool to ensure that your website shows up toward the top of Google (and other search engines) when a potential customer searches for a keyword that is relevant to your business. There are several steps in the process and I’ll outline the major ones in this article. We’ll dive deeper once you are comfortable with the basic concepts.

Keyword Research

Ranking #1 in Google for just anything isn’t good enough. For example, if you are a sushi spot in Philadelphia, you probably don’t want to rank #1 for “best lasagna in Philly.” You want to rank for terms like “sushi restaurant,” “best miso soup” or even “best sake in Philly.”To start, you would develop a list of 20-25 keywords that are important to your business and divide them into ad groups. (Maybe explain this concept) If you did this in Excel, your spreadsheet may look something like this:

Sake

 

 

 

 

 

Figure out different groupings of terms that make sense for your business and bulk up each grouping with individual terms. You can use Google’s keyword tool to do this as well.

Landing Pages

Once you have developed and grouped a list of keywords, you’ll want to target these terms to a landing page. Think of a landing page as a page on your site that speaks to a different keyword grouping. Sticking with the sushi example, you’ll want to have a page on your site that discusses your sushi roll offerings.Try to include images of each dish along with explanations about what each one is. You may even want to incorporate video to show how your master sushi chefs prepare each roll.

By making this page as comprehensive as possible, you’ll send a strong signal to the search engines as to what this particular page is about. Coupled with some more of the best SEO practices, you’ll begin increasing your website’s ranking potential and drive more visitors to your restaurant.

Content

Content is the gas that fuels any SEO campaign. By including your targeted keywords within the content of your sites, you’ll increase your ranking potential. The best place to do this is the menu. Want to rank for “Philadelphia sushi roll?” Make sure you have a corresponding HTML menu on your site. Also, be sure to include prices for transparency.

One important place to add content is your homepage. Typically, the homepage has the most SEO value and the highest ranking potential. You can leverage this power by including a few paragraphs about what your site is about. Here is where you would mention the most relevant keywords If you owned an Italian restaurant, you would mention the signature dishes along with the address. You would also add in images attractive dishes along with important restaurant staff

A great way to create even more site content (and also introduce other keywords) is on a blog. Many restaurants are utilizing the power of their blog to engage with customers and provide updates about food or service. You may want to speak about a New Year’s Eve special, or run a contest. A blog would be the perfect outlet.

Technical

Google works by sending “crawlers” out to different sites. These crawlers find content and bring it back to the servers. Within the server, Google uses an algorithm to parse the data and rank websites accordingly. Having killer content is great, but it won’t help if the search engines can’t find it. So, how can you make sure that Google can find your content?

The first thing that you should do is avoid sites that use a lot of Flash technology. While beautiful, these sites can sometimes serve as dead ends for the search engines. You should also make sure that you are not restricting access to your site within the robots.txt file. If you are using a WordPress template that you downloaded, or your site was designed by a friend, you should be fine, but missing the mark here can really limit your site’s SEO potential.

Also, be sure that all of your site’s links are working. Simply click through the site to make sure nothing is broken or use this tool to make life easier.

Social Media

Gone are the days when it was just kids on Twitter talking about what they had for breakfast. Your potential clients are here and they are looking for recommendations on the next best thing. Check out this tweet:
Tweet

 
What if your restaurant were to reach out and tweet something like “hey, we have some great sushi! We are also a Zagat rated restaurant (if that was true.)” I know that I’d feel extra special if a restaurant reached out to ask me that. Shoot, I would probably actually give it a shot.

This isn’t just limited to Twitter. Check out Instagram, Facebook and even Pinterest. Wherever your customers are hanging out, you’ll want to set up shop. Just don’t be creepy.  Aim to help people, even if you don’t always recommend your food.

Email Marketing

With a newsletter sign up form, you’ll be able to collect email addresses of people who opt in to hear about your stuff. Once a week, send out a newsletter with some pics of your best dishes. Send it out a little before lunch so people are nice and hungry. Maybe run a promotion for your most loyal customers so that they can enjoy a special or even discounted meal.

I recommend MailChimp and it’s 100% free up to 2,000 emails per month.

Link and Citation Building

Everything that I listed above can be easily done by a savvy webmaster.  If your strategy is easy, anyone can do it. If anyone can do it, it’s not a competitive advantage. One competitive advantage is link and citation building.

A link is a clickable reference from one site to another. In the eyes of the search engines, it is seen as a vote of confidence from one site to another. If my site has more quality “votes” than your site, my site will rank better for the keywords that we share (assuming everything else is the same.)

You should definitely start with citation building, and a popular destination is Google Places. While Yelp is also just as viable, Places is a Google owned property, and I think that they would show that a little more love. Run a search for your brand name in Google and see what comes up. You will probably see that someone, somewhere has created this for you already. You will see something like this:
Location

 
Click ‘Manage this page’ and Google will walk you through step-by-step. The steps are really straightforward. If you claim this location by phone, it takes about 20 seconds.

Link building, on another hand, is a different animal. It involves outreaching to different websites to convince them to link to you. Take a look at this site. Words
This article was written in 2013 and ranks on page one of Google for the term “best sushi restaurants in philly.” If I owned a sushi restaurant, I would reach out to this author and ask if they would be willing to do an updated 2014 version of this. I would even go as far as to offer them a free meal at my restaurant to prove that I deserve mention. If your food is dope, this would be a no brainer.

Reputation Management

Lastly, we move to dreaded reputation management. You may be the new managemer of a restaurant that was run into the ground financially, or even one with a terrible PR mess on its hands. Or, you may have made your own mistake and you want to turn things around. The best place to turn in this case is Yelp.

First, make sure you have claimed your Yelp page. To do so, look up your business on Yelp and click this:Work_Here

While you can’t delete anything that has been written about your business, you do have the opportunity to engage with a disgruntled customer, and may be able to turn things around. Offer them a free meal to make a better impression. Maybe even just be human and apologize. We all make mistakes.

Also, encourage positive reviews. Once the customer pays the bill, add an insert to the receipt that says something like “Enjoy the meal? Share your experience with your friends on Yelp.” Enough great reviews will push negative reviews down and, before you know it, people can forget the past. Just be sure that you follow Yelp’s guidelines, you really don’t want to upset them.

Got any more questions? Want to let us handle some of the SEO for your restaurant? Feel free to reach out to us. We would love to help!

 

Starting A Company Blog

Date Posted: October 28, 2014 by


You’ve been in business for quite some time.  You’ve gone through a few different website designs. You recently met a savvy web developer, and she was able to build you a beautiful website. Your coworkers love it, and you’ve shared it with friends and family. You may even be getting compliments from current clients and, if  you’re lucky, drawing traffic from search engines and other websites. But, there’s more. When the developer built the site, it also came with a shiny new blog. You may have heard that blogging is what all the kids are doing these days, but how is it relevant to your business, and how can leveraging the content posted there help your business grow? Good question!

While a company blog typically lives on the site’s root domain, it serves a different purpose.  Here are a few ways  to leverage your company blog for SEO purposes.

Opportunity to add new and fresh content to your site

Search engines love great content. Just ask this guy. By consistently adding content to the site, you’re not only proving that your site is consistently maintained, but that you are also taking your e-business seriously. In doing so, you’re also encouraging the search engines to visit the pages on your site more often. If your site has a significant amount of SEO, the engines will return to index your content more often than your competitors. By doing this, your site has the potential to rank higher for keywords that your competitors are also targeting. This will increase the potential for leads and sales.

Opportunity to introduce new keywords to target

Let’s say you are a psychologist in an American city. You’re ranking pretty well for the term “psychologist in [YOUR CITY]”   but you’re looking to attract more local clients. Check out what happens when I visit Google.com and I start typing “psychologist for…”
Google_Search-1

You already have some great content on your site, but if you want to find other ideas and different keywords to target, you can create a blog post about each of these topics. Over time (and as your site’s ranking potential  increases) you will increase organic traffic to the blog. As a bonus,  add a call to action at the end of each post and turn those readers into actual clients.

Position yourself as an industry leader

I’m the type of guy  who believes actions trump words. If someone tells me that they’re passionate about something, I expect consistent performance at a high level. For instance, if you’re a sneakerhead, I wouldn’t be surprised if you had a sneaker blog, a podcast, or if you were a moderator on a few well known sneaker blogs.  Let’s say that  you’re an accountant, and you want to earn a client’s trust and business. A blog may be what separates your business from your competitors. Trust me, people research before making decisions. By  keeping a fresh perspective on industry trends  and a commitment to speaking about them, your potential clients will see you as an industry expert. Your competitors will even take notice.

Showcase talent on your team

While you started the business, there are plenty of people that work with you  to run it. And while you know it, the rest of the world may not know just how  smart your team really is. By providing your coworkers with a platform to express their thoughts, you’re showing that XYZ Company is  greater than one person. You know how the game works: a client signed on because they thought that you were going to work directly on their project. However, your schedule is so full with speaking engagements, other clients and running the actual business; you need a team member to pick up the slack. It’s a lot easier to  qualify a coworker’s capability to handle that account when they have been building their own brand on the blog. Imagine being able to say “Hey, client, you want to know how qualified so-and-so is, check out this informative  blog post about your industry. It got shared X times on Y blogs and even got shared by an industry leader.”

Link building

Links are clickable references from one site to another. By linking to a site, I am giving a vote of confidence. By getting enough “votes” on the web, you are increasing your website’s ranking potential, which will help drive traffic, leads and sales. If your content is stellar, other websites will want to reference you  for argument support. Let’s say that you are a food blogger, and you came up with a great  recipe for homemade mozzarella cheese. You include some great photos and even some video on your blog and share it with the world. Another blogger, who is blogging about their pizza recipe, wants to use your mozzarella recipe for the pizza. The blogger then links to your recipe from their blog. Now, all  of those readers will visit your blog to see what you have to offer. Over time, other bloggers will take notice and do the same. At this point, you will have so many bloggers linking to your recipe that when someone Google’s the term “homemade mozzarella recipe,” your site ranks #1 from all the “votes,” and you get to enjoy all the traffic to your site…..for free!

Do you have a blog that doesn’t get enough love? Are you looking to start  one? Contact us today and let us help you!

 

Google Panda 4.1

Date Posted: October 3, 2014 by


Google_PandaGoogle released an update to their search algorithm last week that was termed Panda 4.1. Before I delve into the specifics, let’s back track a bit.

To serve better ads, Google basically archives the entire internet. Google uses “crawlers” to visit as many sites on the web as possible and these crawlers return the data from these websites to its servers. Within these servers, an algorithm sorts through the raw data to make an educated guess, not only in regards to the topic what a specific site (and URL), but also how that site/URL ranks with regard to other.

Google’s ranking algorithm is heavily guarded, and rightfully so. If an entity were to figure out the search algorithm, the information can be used to game the search engines, allowing a specific site to rank toward the top of the search results for a specific keyword. Just imagine if you owned a website that ranked #1 in Google for the term ‘car insurance.’ You would be a rich individual as this keyword is a highly profitable one with regard to search volume and intent. Every day, there is someone, somewhere trying to manipulate the search engines’ algorithms to maximize profit. By doing this, a person searching for a lucrative keyword would be served a sub-optimal search result. If enough of these searches are returned, a person may lose faith in the search engines’ credibility, and begin to use it less. If I lose faith in Google, I start searching more in Bing and if enough people do this, Google will serve less ads, which will be a big hit to their overall business.

In an effort to fight this manipulation, Google is constantly updating its search algorithm. Google released the first Panda update a few years ago. The update’s main focus was to penalize sites using thin or weak content to gain rankings for specific keywords. Last week, Panda 4.1 was released which penalized sites that may have slipped through the crack from the previous Panda releases. Some have observed that Panda 4.1 affected sites within the gaming and lyrics sites. It has also been said that Panda 4.1 has affected 3-5% of search queries.

You may be wondering if your site has been impacted by this update. Well, there is a way that you may be able to find out. We would recommend taking a look at your analytics tracker from the beginning of the month through today. If you saw a significant dip (around 20 – 30%) you may have been negatively impacted by this update. If that’s the case, you may want to check your Webmaster Tools account to see if there are any warnings. However, if you notice a spike of about 20 – 30% during this time, you may have outperformed other sites in your industry who were getting by using SEO techniques that violated Google’s guidelines. (maybe add in and explain difference between white and black hat stradegies).

If you have been negatively impacted by Panda 4.1 (or any other algorithm update) feel free to reach out to us for a free consultation. We may be able to help turn things around for you.