Boosting Business+Profits Online

More Google Changes Coming Your Way

Google is continuing their march to fill up the prime areas of your screen with their paid ads. In an earlier post, I pointed out that only the top 7 local business listings are now being displayed (vs the top 10 previously).

The search engine has now removed phone numbers from local business listings in order to free up more real estate for sponsored ads, according to Aaron Wall. As more ads fill up the ‘above the fold’ area of the screen, organic search listings are being pushed down with the exception of the top 1 or 2 ranked websites.

This new development highlights the importance of getting to the top spots of the organic search rankings so that your website can be visible above the fold. Since it takes time and resources to get to these spots (unless there is very little competition in your niche), this leads back to doing the proper keyword research so that you’re targeting the most important keyword(s) for your business.

Posted via web from Kym Wong’s posterous

Most Effective Internet Marketing Strategies

Most local businesses focus on paid search or pay-per-click advertising, such as Google Adwords,  because the results are immediate.

most-effective-online-marketing-tacticAccording to a Forbes/E-Marketer study however, the most effective online marketing tactic, for both small and large firms, is SEO or search engine optimization. This was followed by email marketing, then pay-per-click advertising.

The results are not surprising given that 88% of Internet search traffic flows through organic search results (Forbes) so the opportunity to attract more visitors and website traffic by ranking organically in the search engines is huge.

The downside is that it does take time (usually several months) to get a site ranked and the results are never guaranteed.  Organic rankings depends on a great number of factors, including back links to the website which can take time to accumulate. Link building is a gradual ongoing process that takes much time and effort.

Business owners who are willing to invest in the search engine optimization and marketing effort will reap significant rewards:

“Instead of spending advertising dollars on newspaper and magazine ads, focusing on acquiring more organic search traffic as a key pillar of advertising strategy should become mainstream in the next 12 months. Thus, I see organic as the next big frontier in online advertising” – Forbes 5/09

Local Internet Marketing – Must Do’s for Business Owners

local-internet-marketingAccording to some statistics, there are over 10 billion searches done each month in the United States and more than 40% of those searches have ‘local intent’.  This means that there are approximately 4 billion internet searches for local businesses and services monthly!

Improving your business’ ranking for local internet searches has therefore become very important.  In a previous post on boosting your local search rankings, I pointed out that at a minimum, business owners should create a listing on Google’s Local Business Center.  This is easy to set up and the service is free.  You can sign up for it here.

In addition to creating a Google Local listing, you should also set up a business listing at Yahoo Local. The process is very similar and its also free.

Microsoft also has its Bing local search engine, so consider creating a listing there as well.

Having multiple listings and additional citations should give your local search rankings a definite boost.

Local Search Ranking – Top 3 Factors for Ranking Well

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What are the Key Factors for Boosting Your Local Search Rankings?

Following a previous post on the overall basics of search engine optimization, I thought it might be relevant here to focus on local search rankings. What determines how well a website does in the search results when someone conducts a search related to their city or town?

A recent survey of search engine experts by David Mihm sheds some light on the key factors for ranking well for local searches.  27 experts were asked to rate a total of 49 factors in terms of their importance in determining local search rankings.

The top 3 factors that were ranked as being most significant in positively influencing local rankings were:

1. Having a local business listing within the city of search

If you look at the search results for “online marketing bethesda” in the image above, my company’s local business listing shows up prominently along with the local city map and location. Because Google is placing these local business listings first in the search results (i.e. before showing other web matches), it is critically important that you create your listing using Google’s Local Business Center. This service is free and should absolutely be a ‘must do’ for all business website owners.

2. Being cited by other local portals, associations, or groups

According to the experts surveyed, listing your business with local online directories, portals or associations can also help your local search rankings. Examples of such sites might be infoUSA, Yellow Pages, Yelp, City Search, Merchant Circle and even local chamber directories. These sites usually have high page rank and authority, so creating a listing which links back to your business website should give your rankings a boost.

3. Using proper categories and keywords in your local business listing

When setting up your Google local listing, be sure to select the right category for your business. In addition, inserting the keywords or search phrases that you want to rank for in your business listing (especially in the title) will also improve your search rankings.

The survey goes into negative factors affective search rankings as well. These include negative customer reviews, using an 800 telephone number in your local listing, and having multiple listings with the same business name and phone number. The full survey can be seen here.

What is Search Engine Optimization: The Basics

SEO mazeGetting to the top of Google provides huge payoffs, as discussed in my previous post here. There are a lot of factors that go into getting your website ranked by the search engines.

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the practice of fine-tuning different aspects of your website with the goal of getting it ranked well.  The SEO world is filled with myths and misinformation due to the search engines’ secrecy with respect to the precise algorithms that they use for ranking.

For business owners, finding reliable information about SEO can feel like navigating a complex maze. For those who would like to learn more about the basics of SEO and what the search engines look for, this beginners guide to SEO (from SEOmoz) is a good resource.

This comprehensive report covers:

  1. What is SEO
  2. How Search Engines Operate
  3. How to conduct Keyword Research
  4. Critical components of Optimizing a site
  5. Building a Traffic Worthy Site
  6. Growing a Site’s Popularity
  7. Crafting an SEO strategy

While some of the tools are dated (e.g. Overture no longer exists), the basic concepts remain relevant. Overall, the report provides a holistic picture of SEO and what it entails.

Boosting Business+Profits Online