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Search Engine Guide : Small Business Search Marketing
Search engine marketing news and information you can use to grow your business.

Search Engine Guide
  • 5 Strategies for Better Team Coordination in SEO

    by Jayson DeMers

    When most entrepreneurs and marketers think about refining their SEO strategies, they focus on the conventional best practices that constitute a successful optimization approach, such as their on-site optimization, ongoing content marketing strategy, and link building campaign.

    However, there are also more collaborative, qualitative, and personal factors to weigh when it comes to execution of your campaign. For example, how can you make sure every member of your team stays coordinated with the rest in their mutual efforts to optimize your site?

    Why Coordination Is Essential in SEO

    Depending on the size of your organization, SEO could theoretically be executed by a single person. In a small business, building a foundation with on-site optimization, content, and an introductory link-building campaign could be handled by a single person doing full-time work.
    But it's more common to see several people working together in close coordination to achieve exceptional results on behalf of a firm. That coordination could make or break your campaign in the following ways:

    • Deadlines and execution. First, the obvious: SEO is an interconnected series of tactics, and if you're going to execute them in conjunction with other people to achieve a final goal, you need everyone to work on the same interim deadlines and benchmark goals.
    • Cross-disciplinary coordination. Even if you don't have both generalists and specialists in the SEO field working together, your SEO will still be influenced by people in multiple departments. For example, your designers will need to know how to design websites with SEO in mind.
    • Camaraderie and workload balancing. It also pays to keep your SEO team working close with one another so everyone maintains high morale. This will be beneficial when one specialist inevitably gets saddled with more work than another: You can bring the departments together to rebalance the individual workloads.

    How to Stay Better Coordinated

    Now let's take a look at how you can help your team become better coordinated in practical terms.

    1. Use more efficient forms of communication.

    Modern technology offers a ton of advantages, and you need leverage as many of them as you can for your team. As pointed out by Dialpad, millennial workers tend to be closer to the cutting edge of new communications technology, but that doesn't mean the rest of your team has an excuse to stick with older technologies. Whether you're using an in-house team or some members are working remotely, give yourself flexibility by keeping your team using multiple forms of communication, from phones to cloud-hosted management and collaboration platforms, and chatting apps.

    2. Set both individual and team goals.

    Focused teams are able to work more productively because they know what they're aiming for. It's crucial to establish both individual and team-based goals. For example, you might encourage your entire team to work toward a certain rate of growth in organic visitors, with individual goals for your team members, such as getting featured on a number of new publishers or developing a certain kind of content. This will help keep things moving toward a destination while compensating for any individual weaknesses you encounter.

    3. Identify and document consistent brand standards.

    Some areas of SEO get pretty technical, but much of the ongoing work--such as content development and guest posting--will rely on the strength and consistency of your brand to succeed. Because of this, it's a good idea to document your brand standards formally and make those available to everyone on your team.

    4. Have overflow policies.

    An oversized workload can depress anyone; when one individual has too much to do and another not enough, your team can't possibly function efficiently. To avoid this potential hitch, it's a good idea to have overflow and workload balancing policies in place. For example, you could encourage your team to openly admit when they have too much on their plate and have a line of delegation in place to coordinate task reallocation efforts.

    5. Cross-train your workers.

    Every member of your team, both in the SEO department and in surrounding sections, will have an area of specialty. But it's worth making the effort to cross-train everyone on what all (or at least some of) the rest are doing. This approach allows outside workers to step in and take over the tasks of others (and thereby assist your workload-balancing efforts). It also keeps each worker abreast of what the others are doing and leads to a heightened sense of group awareness and focus on team goals.

    Together, these strategies can help your team remain in closer coordination, and working harder on the goals that will drive your business forward.

    You'll also need to be prepared for a degree of difficulty; it's never easy to coordinate an entire team of differently minded and differently skilled people, so you're bound to run into difficulties trying to keep everything and everyone together. Try to remain as adaptable as possible.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.



  • Do you have enough pages in the search index?

    by Mike Moran

    More pages in the search index means more chances to be found. So maybe you never really have enough pages--since every extra page is a lottery ticket in the search sweepstakes. You've gotta be in it to win it. But this does not really offer us any answers. There are obviously some amount of pages that seem OK and other amounts that are probably Bad, like, zero would be bad. How do you determine how many pages you have in the search index, and if your number is enough?

    First off, you need to understand that there is no single search index-each search engine has its own search index. Google has its own, Bing has its own, and so do many other search engines. So, you need to know which search engines are worth worrying about-in the U.S., it's Google and Bing.

    So how do you find out how many pages are in Google's index and how many are in Bing's?

    Both Google and Bing have a tool called the "site:" command. You can just enter into each one the word "site:" along with your domain name (Such as "site:biznology.com").  For some sites, this handy command works just fine and you can see how many pages are stored in each index. If your results look right, great. But sometimes the results just look nuts. For example, "site:ibm.com" yields 2.8 million pages on Bing but a crazy 12.2 million pages on Google.

    To avoid such inaccuracies, use each search engine's Webmaster Tools sites. Both Google and Bing will tell your Webmaster exactly how many pages are in the index and will even let you know which pages they are having trouble grabbing. It's possible that the IBM Webmaster is aware that there actually is a big discrepancy between Google and Bing, which might be just fine or might be something they are working on.

    I've spoken to a few experts and they have varying theories. One told me that Bing stops crawling when more than 1% of the pages get errors-the Bing Webmaster site will clue you in on this. Another speculated that Bing is only returning counts of pages that get search visits, not every page in their index. No one I spoke with knew for sure why this is happening, but it shows you the importance of checking your numbers.

    Likewise, big swings in indexed pages (1,000 pages indexed in Google today vs. 5,000 yesterday) mean that you should look into it. And, in general, an inclusion ratio (pages indexed divided by actual pages) below 70% is something that should give you pause, although with these Bing errors who knows what a good inclusion ration is for Bing right now.

    Regardless. knowing how many pages are indexed is the first step to seeing if you have a problem.

    Originally posted on Biznology

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.



  • 5 Technical Factors to Check When Your Search Rankings Take a Dive

    by Jayson DeMers

    In an ideal world, your SEO strategy would be on a constant, steadily forward-moving trajectory. As you invest more time and effort into your online presence, your rankings would gradually increase--with no interruptions. However, this is almost never the case. Eventually, no matter how careful or experienced you are, you'll run into a ranking drop that leaves you frustrated and confused.

    The problem is, SEO and online visibility are such complicated topics that they're impossible to reduce to single variables. Everything, from the type of hosting you use to the type of social media marketing you pursue, can affect your organic search rankings.

    Where do you start when troubleshooting a ranking dive?

    Technical vs. Non-Technical Issues

    Generally, there are two categories of factors that can cause a dive:

    • Quantitative, technical factors. Sometimes, there's a simple, technical factor affecting how your site is ranking. On many levels, Google's algorithm is simple and mathematical in its approach. For example, if your site isn't structured in a way that Google can see and readily interpret, it won't be able to index your site, and your rankings will drop. These tend to be obvious once spotted, but they require a degree of technical expertise to solve.
    • Qualitative, non-technical factors. Other times, you'll be dealing with more subjective, non-technical factors. Google has a number of qualitative evaluating segments to its algorithm, such as Panda, which evaluates the quality of your content, and Penguin, which evaluates the quality of your inbound links. Sometimes, a drop in content quality--which is hard to objectively identify--can be responsible for your ranking drop.

    Technical Factors to Check When Your Rankings Drop

    Your first course of action, after seeing a major drop in your rankings, should be to check for technical factors that might be affecting your positions. These are plain to see and often simple to fix--and once repaired, there's a good chance your positions will be restored quickly (if not instantly).

    Here are things to check:

    1. Your hosting.

    The first place you should look is your hosting. A lot of things can happen with your hosting provider--your site may be temporarily unavailable, or your site may not be served properly. You might even be experiencing page loading problems because of your hosting provider. Run an audit on your hosting situation and consider switching if you're not receiving consistent service.

    2. Your robots.txt file.

    The robots.txt file is a meta data file that instructs Google how to view and index your site. You can use it to prevent certain pages from being indexed, which is highly useful for canonizing duplicate content pages. However, many people end up making mistakes in the robots.txt file, masking the entire site (or entire sections) from being indexed.

    3. Improperly set up 301 redirects.

    301 redirects are an important and powerful tool in online visibility, but they're often misused. If you set up a 301 redirect improperly, it could result in a number of different errors, such as duplicate indexing or the complete loss of certain pages of your site. Be sure you're actually using 301 redirects, and not 302 (temporary) redirects or any other means of forwarding traffic.

    4. A content loading issue.

    Sometimes, technical hiccups are simple and easy to identify. If some of your content isn't loading properly, it could cause your rankings to tank. For example, if none of the images or videos on your site are loading on mobile devices, you could suffer a massive blow to your mobile rankings and traffic.

    5. Functional errors.

    You may also find functional errors throughout your site, which can influence how your site is ranked. These can range from very small, such as broken internal links, to very large, such as entire sections of your site that aren't loading or running properly. Some of these functional errors can bleed into qualitative factors, such as pages not loading quickly enough, or poor user experience factors. Run performance tests on multiple devices to check for these errors proactively.

    If none of these technical factors seem to be affecting your site, you'll have to start looking for qualitative, non-technical issues that might be wrong with your site. Or, if there's a specific type of ranking drop you've seen (like a drop in local rankings), you can seek your next troubleshooting targets accordingly.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.



  • 6 Tips for Managing Local SEO With Multiple Locations

    by Jayson DeMers

    Local SEO holds tremendous potential for almost any business with a physical location (and even some without). Because local SEO functions on an algorithm separate from Google's national search, you'll face less competition, higher relevance among your local audience, and even higher visibility, thanks to Google's local 3-pack listings. Unfortunately, most conventional local SEO tactics cater to businesses that have only one physical location - what happens if you have multiple locations?

    The Trouble With Multiple Locations

    Having multiple locations means you'll have multiple streams of revenue, and it's a valuable way to increase brand recognition and your potential pool of customers. However, much of the power of local SEO is derived from associating your business with a single location. If you try to split your efforts inefficiently, you could end up only weakly optimizing for your target cities, but if you only focus on one city, you'll miss out on the visibility potential of your other locations. What are you supposed to do?

    Strategies for Success

    Try using these strategies to succeed with multiple locations in local SEO:

    1. Create a separate landing page for each city your business operates in.

    Your first job is to create a separate landing page for each of your locations. It's possible to create a new domain for each of your sub-locations, but this is inadvisable, as you'll lose out on the cumulative authority you'll gain from all of your sources. For example, you could create a page for a specific city location, complete with location information and any specific unique features that this location offers--for example, US Storage Centers has a designated page for San Antonio, with hours, directions, and unit availability.

    2. Create city-specific content for each city you operate in.

    Next, you'll want to fill those pages with content specific to that location. Don't leave your landing pages as empty shells! Instead, write rich, descriptive content about the unique features each of your locations offers that particular area. If you get hard-pressed, write about some of the features of the city, such as surrounding landmarks or things to do.

    3. Split your social media pages.

    If you only have two or three locations, you can probably get away with having one "master" social media presence, but if you have more locations than that, you'll want to split your social media profiles into individual locations. Create a designated contact for each location to manage their respective pages, and keep one "master" brand page to help people find the social media page most relevant to them. This will help you connect more specifically with your target demographics, especially if your locations are around the country.

    4. Segment your link building strategies.

    As long as all your locations are under the same domain, you'll gain collective domain authority with any links you build. However, remember that inbound links pass page authority as well as domain authority, and any links you have pointing to city-specific pages will help those individual pages rank higher. This is valuable if you want to promote one location more than another.

    5. Manage your third party profiles and local reviews separately.

    Each of your locations should have a separate entry in each third-party review site you leverage (such as Yelp). This will ensure that Google lists your businesses separately for each respective location, and will enable you to monitor and manage local reviews more efficiently. Again, you'll want to designate a responsible contact for each of your locations to take charge of this duty.

    6. Produce ongoing blog content for each city.

    Finally, you'll want to produce ongoing content for each of your locations that's specific to that city. For example, if you have locations in San Antonio and Kansas City, you could write a post about the "top attractions in San Antonio" one week, and "top attractions in Kansas City" the next week. Rotate these geographic-centric terms in and out of your content strategy (always making sure they're natural) to increase your relevance for each location.

    With these six strategies, you'll be able to optimize your web presence for each of your physical locations without sacrificing your potential to rank for any other location. It requires a careful balance, and you may find yourself wanting to optimize for one location more than another.

    This is perfectly acceptable, especially if you have a "main" location, so feel free to evaluate your strategy and balance your efforts accordingly.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.



  • The 6 Ways Small Businesses Can Stay Competitive in SEO

    by Jayson DeMers

    Search engine optimization (SEO) is more popular than ever as a marketing strategy these days, and one of the biggest reasons for its mass appeal is its scale and sheer potential. There are billions of searches per day, performed by people all over the world, so optimizing your site to rank higher for these searches has practically unlimited potential. But can small businesses hope to capitalize on this potential when there are so many big businesses competing with them?

    Popularity and Time

    There are two problems with this "infinite potential" model. First, SEO has become incredibly popular--most businesses now have an online presence, and the vast majority of them are actively competing for more visibility online. Second, SEO has been around since the dawn of the Internet, and major corporations who have been pouring millions of dollars into their online strategies are pretty much untouchable in terms of rankings.

    These two issues make it seem practically impossible to many small business owners--with limited resources and little existing domain authority--to break onto the scene. But it is possible for small and local businesses to gain an edge with these six strategies:

    1. Zero in on a specific niche.

    Your first job is to cut down the competition. Not all search terms get the same amount of search volume, and not all terms carry the same amount of competition. If you're worried about squaring off against major national competitors, refine your target market to a more specific niche. This will cut down the amount of competition you face, and increase your relevance for that specific niche--you'll be working with lower search volume, but you'll rank faster and become more relevant for your audience. For example, you could focus on one specific demographic, or target a specific point in the buying cycle.

    2. Target overlooked long-tail keywords.

    There are two main "types" of keywords, with a bit of gray area in between. "Head" keywords are short, like "bike tire," and feature high volume and high competition. "Long-tail" keywords are long, often using conversational sentence structures like "how do I change a flat bike tire," and feature lower search volume but correspondingly lower competition. You can rank for these search terms easily because of how specific they are. Refine your keyword targeting strategy to focus on more long-tail keyword terms.

    3. Prioritize local optimization.

    Local search results rely on a different algorithm than Google's national search framework. You may notice when you perform a local search that the top three relevant brands for your search appear in a box (with links to a website, directions, and a prompt to call on mobile devices) above typical organic search results. It's possible to optimize your site to appear for these local searches; not only will you get a "free pass" by getting featured above the typical national search results, but you'll face far less competition in the process. As an added bonus, you'll get more locally relevant traffic for your site.

    4. Use the power of personal brands.

    Personal brands have a number of advantages over corporate brands. They're instantly more trustworthy, they have a higher likelihood of being featured in offsite publishers, and if used independently from your local business, they'll provide an additional potential route of traffic and visibility for your corporate brand. Start developing your key leadership and personnel through content and social media, and tie those personal brands back to your core corporate brand.

    5. Work with local publishers.

    Major corporations will have more power and resources to force an increase in their content's visibility (through things like paid advertising), but as a small business owner, you'll have more relevance in local publications, like local newspapers, blogs, and forums. Work with those publishers to build more of a reputation for yourself, and get involved in more local projects and volunteer opportunities to help your community impact grow. The more connected you are, the more potential search visibility you're going to receive.

    6. Build up a reputation with reviews and social media.

    A big part of local SEO depends on the quality and quantity of the reviews you receive, but you can also generate independent buzz by cultivating more reviews (especially on offsite directories and social media). Work with your existing clients and regular customers to start developing better reviews and more visibility for your business. In turn, you'll get more visibility and more peripheral traffic (bypassing and complementing the organic search route), but you'll also get more inbound links and more "real estate" throughout the web, which can increase your overall organic search visibility.

    The truth is, small businesses can be just as competitive as big businesses when it comes to SEO. They aren't able to reach the same number of people, but they can receive huge increases in visibility, reputation, traffic, and eventually sales.

    Knowing your strengths and weaknesses as a small enterprise means avoiding competing in areas where you're outclassed, and instead focusing on where you can make the biggest impact.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.



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