Category: Local SEO

How The Amount Of Funds Invested In SEO Correlates With The Benefits Gained

How The Amount Of Funds Invested In SEO Correlates With The Benefits Gained

The amount of funds you should invest in SEO varies because of the prices offered by agencies. However, the practice shows that the high cost of services not always guarantees the success of your SEO campaign. Does an increased amount of initial investments correspond with the increase of the benefits gained? Is there a certain threshold for businesses necessary to reach to reap the rewards?

Nik Chaykovskiy, the leading expert of Digital Services explains what factors influence the return on investments in SEO.

The amount of time and money spent on a strategy affect volume and quantity. The compounding payoff is greatly affected by variations of the following elements. On this account, increasing the input of one or a few of these factors increases the rate of growth of the returns.

  • Quantity is the amount of work done on a regular basis. Many quality links increase domain authority, while quality content increases the pages one has in Google’s index.
  • Quality depends on the amount of time dedicated to the work done. Higher authoritative sources create more value hosting a single link than lower ranking sources hosting several links.
  • Time. Returns from an investment are not instantaneous as they are a snowball over time.

Competition Factor

Partial investments in a business that exists in a market with many competing sites would not yield as much results as it would have made out of the company, that had been invested for the development of content marketing strategy. However, there are alternatives that help in increasing site’s visibility with the minimal budget and investment requirements. A company can spread the content within a certain market niche or a local geographic area where it optimizes content for the target audience found in these segments. The result will be an increase in the relevance of content provided.

Quality Threshold

Another point of consideration is the level of quality that content needs to satisfy before being released. Poorly written content or thin content can trigger the Panda penalty that will significantly drop ranking on the search queue. It poses a threat to the brand’s reputation and visitor traffic to the website as well as any possible relationships with publishers who aid in link building. The minimum investment ensures the quality and potential for growth as businesses level is up to the competition. Ranking higher than competitors will require a content strategy that surpasses competitors and relies on the knowledge of the best practices in content marketing.

Complexity of Aspects

Taking into the account previously discussed points, we can come up to the following conclusions:

  • Business gains greater returns if the amount of initial investments was increased as compared to one-o-one exchanges
  • Competition limits the visibility for small investments, but not entirely making it impossible
  • Achieving a certain threshold of quality for content and link building ensures that businesses gains the momentum

In conclusion, SEO is not an all-or-nothing strategy that demands an entire marketing strategy to see significant effect. Investing time and effort helps in achieving quality. Finally, the more investments one makes, the higher results he/she yields. Smaller investments are also effective if invested in the right way.

7 Trends From Semalt To Dominate SEO Marketing in 2019

SEO, for most businesses, helps them stay ahead of their competitors. Understanding changes in SEO is necessary so as to adjust their content and SEO strategy to level up with the competition.

Jason Adler, the leading Customer Success Manager of Digital Services, explains the dominating SEO trends of 2017:

1. Rise of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs).

AMPs are an open-source protocol that speeds up page load on mobile devices. They increase speed by four times and cut data costs by eight times. Google favors sites that have optimized their structure to support AMPs. A small icon, consisting of a carousel and a lightning bolt, indicate the AMP status of the site. Due to this favoritism, an anticipated action by most brands is to take advantage of the option.

2. Rise of “Dense” Content.

People currently favor lengthy content that covers a topic extensively as compared to the bite-sized content repeatedly used in the past. Since both types have flooded the market, the focus may shift to ignoring length entirely and focusing on providing as much content in the smallest possible space to appeal readers, something called “dense” content.

3. Machine Learning Will Change How Algorithms Work.

Google RankBrain opened the doors to machine learning possibilities. The Google Hummingbird functions’ extension analyzes phrases used by users in conversational queries and updates algorithms accordingly. People anticipate that Google will release more learning updates and incorporate them in other areas such as data interpretation or automated marketing.

4. Personal Branding as a Secret SEO Weapon.

It will become easier for businesses to secure guest posts, build trust, and drive more traffic to the website. Semalt has successfully integrated personal branding into the marketing campaign. As social media platforms continue to favor the individual posts over branded posts, more companies will continue to find value in personal branding thus leading to more opportunities and increased competition.

5. User Experience Optimization (UEO).

User experience is important to SEO. Google favors mobile optimized sites for mobile devices. Speed and an enjoyable user experience are defining characteristics of a mobile optimized site. The year 2017 may put more emphasis on user experience. AMPs are the first sign of this, but looking for alternate ways that capitalize on user experience is advisable.

6. Intensified Use of Mobile Apps.

SEO has increased the mobile app options for users with such features as app indexing, deep linking within the apps, and app streaming. So far, Google has managed to cater to needs of the app users without deviating from its search engine as a search engine. Apps may soon replace traditional websites and increased app favoritism.

7. Sophistication of Personal Digital Assistants.

In 2017, diversification and increased sophistication of personal digital assistants’ features such as Siri and Cortana these features will bring about newer and more advanced forms of conversational search queries presenting rank opportunities for businesses in both areas.

There is no immediate need to change current marketing strategies, but it is important to be aware of the potential impacts these trends could have on business. This awareness will help develop an action plan to maintain top ranking over opponents.

Content Planning for Local SEO

Content is the foundation of digital marketing success, no matter the channel on which that content appears. Content determines the businesses social media fans and followers choose to associate with, how visitors choose to engage with your website, and for which keywords search engines find your site relevant.

If you’re like most small business owners, you probably have no trouble talking to friends, relatives, business partners, and prospective customers about your business: the kinds of people you help, the pride you take in your work, what customers value about your business, and so on.

But it’s tough to find time to write about your business. It can be a struggle to find the exact right words to describe your business to the World Wide Web.

Fear not! Your website content doesn’t need to be perfect. In fact, it will appear more authentic to your customers—and probably be more useful to them—if it isn’t filled with refined marketing language, and actually answers their questions about your company’s products or services.

With that in mind, here are some ideas to get you started with creating content:

What are the top things users look for?

Google and Bing both provide a very simple method for researching the key phrases that your prospective customers are interested in: Simply visit either search engine’s homepage and perform a search. Prior to hitting “return” on your keyboard, take a look at the list of terms related to the one you typed in. These are generally the most popular words or phrases related to what you typed. Make a list of these terms and be sure to target a page on your website about each one. Repeat this process several times to develop a comprehensive list of subjects to start your content process.

Research keywords using Google Trends

Google Trends can provide you with a few more specifics around the relative search volume of each keyphrase that Google or Bing suggests. You can even zoom in to your specific geographic area to see just how popular certain phrases are in your state, metro area, or in some cases even your city. Google will also suggest even more key phrases related to these phrases next to the geographic overlay, so don’t ignore these.

What are the top questions your customers ask you?

This is a great tip from Aaron Weiche of Spyder Trap Marketing. If customers are asking you the same questions over and over again offline, they probably have the same questions online as well—and may even type these questions directly into a search engine. Each of your top questions should have a full page devoted to it to maximize your ranking potential for each question.

What’s unique about the areas you serve?

From an SEO standpoint, it’s a best practice to create a page for each town, county, or region that you serve. For example, if you’re a suburban plumber looking for business in the major city in your metro area, you could talk about the history of the sewage and water system of that market on its own page, highlight subdivisions or condo buildings that have a higher incidence of plumbing issues, or list lawsuits that have occurred over faulty pipes in that market. The more local the “scent” of a given page, the more likely Google and Bing are to rank that page.

Case studies of previous projects

You can also start a little bit closer to home, so to speak, and feature projects you’ve worked on in a particular market. Be as explicit as you can about the services you performed, or how your products helped the customers achieve their goals. Case studies are one of the things that make your business unique, so stay away from using canned marketing-speak, and focus on telling stories that will help future customers relate to previous ones.

Customer interviews and transcriptions

The best way to help future customers relate to previous customers is through video interviews and testimonials. In the era of smartphones, it’s super-simple to film and upload video interviews to YouTube and embed them on your website. The personality of your clients and customers will really shine through the video. Make sure you include a text transcript of your conversation below the video so that you get keyword “credit” from the search engines also.

For more information on writing great content that is compelling to both humans and search engines, see Moz’s complete Beginner’s Guide to SEO.

Local Search Data Providers

Many local business owners are surprised with the information that appears when they (and their customers) come across their business listings at Google and Bing. Often, incorrect or out-of-date information shows up with no explanation about where it comes from.

In some cases, even business owners who have already claimed their listings at major search engines like Google and Bing continue to see improper information displayed about their businesses, which understandably just adds to their frustration.

The reason this happens is that these search giants pull in business information from a variety of other sources, in addition to maintaining their own business databases. They both do the best they can to match the data that comes in from these other sources with what they have in their own index, but sometimes that doesn’t happen properly.

If the information is different enough from the correct listing, search engines might think it’s a different business—or they might even feel that the wrong information appears so many times in the other places from which they get their data that the info might actually be “right.”

The sources that Google and Bing pull information from vary from country to country. Each has its own set of important players, known as data aggregators.

These aggregators have typically accumulated their business databases by scanning and transcribing things like phone records, utility records, business registration websites, and printed yellow pages directories.

Google also crawls the web looking for business information wherever it can find it: online yellow pages directories, review sites, local newspaper sites, and blogs. Many of these sources get their information from the same aggregators that Google does—just one more reason you need to make sure your business information is correct at those handful of primary providers in your country. If your data is wrong at those aggregators, it’s likely to be wrong in many places across the web, including Google.

The data aggregators of the future

Factual is a relatively new player on the scene; they were hardly on anyone’s radar less than two years ago. And yet today, if you visit their homepage, you see a who’s who of local search portals, including Yelp, Bing, and TripAdvisor. It’s clear they’re a force to be reckoned with, especially globally.

The fragmentation of the location-based app market is only going to increase, and like Factual, Foursquare has turned its sights on becoming “the location layer for the Internet.” Its developer service is extremely reliable and it surely counts a large percentage of web developers among its ~40 million users. Foursquare is now enlisting users in a quest to provide extremely fine-grained venue data. The ability to layer user-generated data on top of business information is clearly the direction this ecosystem is heading. Google’s Mapmaker tool, Open Street Maps, and Foursquare position those entities to remain at the forefront of this trend.

Making sense of it all

Even for experts, the local search ecosystem is incredibly confusing! But hopefully browsing the local search ecosystem graphic relevant to your country will give you a better understanding of how these local data sites fit together, and identify places to clean up incorrect listing information you might not otherwise have known about.

How to Perform the Ultimate Local SEO Audit

Every business that competes in a local market and who competes for the display of localized results in SERPs will likely find the need to conduct a local SEO audit at some point. Whether you’ve hired an SEO in the past or not, the best way to beat the competition is to know where you stand and what you need to fix, and then develop a plan to win based on the competitive landscape.

While this may seem like a daunting task, the good news is that you can do this for your business or your client using this Ultimate Local SEO audit guide.

This guide was created as a complete checklist and will show you what areas you should focus on, what needs to be optimized, and what you need to do to fix any problems you encounter. To make things easier, I have also included many additional resources for further reading on the topics below.

In this guide I am going to cover the top areas we review for clients who either want to know how they can improve or the ones that need a local SEO audit. To make it easier I have included detailed explanations of the topics and an Excel template you can use to conduct the audit.

Also since the Pigeon update, local search has started to weigh organic factors more heavily so I have included them in this audit. However, if after you have read this you’re looking for an even deeper audit for Organic SEO, you should also check out Steve Webb’s article, ” How to Perform the World’s Greatest SEO Audit.”

Who is this guide for?

This guide is intended for those businesses that already have an existing Google My Business page. It’s also mostly geared towards brick and mortar stores. If you don’t have a public address and you’re a service area business, you can ignore the parts where I mention publishing your physical address. If you don’t have a listing setup already, it’s a little bit harder to audit. That being said, new businesses can use this as a road map.

What we won’t cover

The local algorithm is complicated and ever evolving. Although we can look at considerations such as proximity to similar businesses or driving directions requests, I have decided to not include these since we have limited control over them. This audit mainly covers the items the website owner is in direct control over.

A little background

Being ready and willing to adopt change in online marketing is an important factor in the path of success. Search changes and you have to be ready to change with it. The good news is that if you’re constantly trying to do the right thing while be the least imperfect, your results will only get better with updates.

Some goons will always try to cheat the systems for a quick win, but they will get caught and penalized eventually. However, if you stick with the right path you can sleep easier at night knowing you don’t have to worry about penalties.

But why are audits so important?

At my company we have found through a lot of trial and error that we can provide the best results for our clients when we start a project off with a complete and full understanding of the project as opposed to just bits and pieces. If we have a complete snapshot of their SEO efforts along with their competition we can create a plan that is going to be much more effective and sustainable.

We now live in a world where marketers not only need to be forward thinking with their strategies but they must also evaluate and consider the work done by prior employees and SEOs who have worked on the website in the past. If you don’t know what potential damage has been done, how could you possibly be sure your efforts will help your client long term?

Given the impact and potential severity of penalties, it’s irresponsible to ignore this or participate in activities that can harm the client in the long run. Again, sadly, this is a lesson I have learned the hard way.

What aspects does this local SEO audit cover?

Knowing what to include in your audit is a great first step. We have broken our audit down into several different categories we find to be essential to local SEO success. They are:

1) Google My Business page audit

2) Website & landing page audit

3) Citation analysis

4) Organic link & penalty analysis

5) Review analysis

6) Social analysis

7) Competition analysis

8) Ongoing strategy

Analyzing all of these factors will allow you to develop a strategy with a much better picture of the major problems and what you’re up against as far as the competition is concerned. If you don’t have the full picture with all of the details, then you might uncover more problems later.

Before we get started, a disclaimer

In this guide I am going to try to break things down to make it easy for beginners and advanced users. That being said, it’s a wise idea to seek advice or read more about a topic if you don’t quite understand it. If something is over your head, please don’t hesitate to reach out for clarification. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

How to use this guide for your local SEO audit

This guide is broken up into two parts including this post and a spreadsheet. The written part that you are reading now will also correspond to this spreadsheet which will allow you to collect pertinent client intake information, record problems, and serve as an easy reference as to what your ultimate goal is for each of the items.

To use the spreadsheet you can click the link and then go to File > Make A Copy.

The complete spreadsheet includes five tabs that each serve a different purpose. They are:

Current info – This tab allows you to record the information the customer submits and compare it against the Google My Business information you find. It also allows you to record your notes for any proposed changes. This will help you when it comes time to report on your findings.

Questions to ask – These are some basic questions you can ask your clients up front that may save a lot of time in the long run.

Competitor information – You can use this tab to track your competitors and compare your metrics side by side.

Top 50 citations audit – This is the list of the top 50 citation sources as provided by Whitespark.

Audit steps – For the more advanced user I took everything in this long document and condensed it to this easy to use spreadsheet with an audit checklist and some small notes on what you’re checking for.

Get your audit shoes on. Now let’s get started

Step 1: Gather the facts

Whether you’re conducting this audit for a client or your own business it’s important to start off with the right information. If clients fill out this information properly, you can save a lot of time and also help identify major issues right off the bat. Not only can we help identify some of the common local SEO issues like inconsistent NAP with this information, we can also have it recorded in the spreadsheet I mentioned above.

Since this is an audit, the spreadsheet has information to include the current information and a column for proposed changes for the client. Later, these will be used as action items.

The first tab in this spreadsheet has everything we need to get started under the company information tab. This includes all of the basic information we will need to be successful.

This information should be provided by the client up front so that we can compare it to the information already existing on the web. You can use the audit spreadsheet and enter this under the “Provided Information” column. This will help us identify problems easily as we collect more information.

The basic information we will need to get started will include NAP information and other items. A sample of this can be seen below:

Questions to ask up front

Once we have the basic company information we can also ask some questions. Keep in mind that the goal here is to be the least imperfect. While some of these factors are more important than others, it’s always good to do more and have a better understanding of the potential issues rather than taking shortcuts. Shortcuts will just create more work later.

Feel free to edit the spreadsheet and add more questions to your copy based on your experience.

1) Have you ever been penalized or think you may have been? The client should have a good idea if they were penalized in the past.
2) Have you ever hired anyone to build citations for you? If they hired anyone to build citations for them they should have some documentation which will make the citation audit portion of the audit easier.
3) Have you ever hired an SEO company to work with you? If they hired an SEO in the past it’s important to check any work they completed for accuracy.
4) Have you ever hired anyone to build links for you? If they have hired anyone in the past to build links they will hopefully have documentation you can review. If you see bad links you know you will have your work cut out for you.
5) What are the primary keywords you want to rank for? Knowing what the client wants and developing a strategy based off this is essential to your local SEO success.
6) Have you ever used another business name in the past? Companies that used a different name or that were acquired can lead to NAP inconsistencies.
7) Is your business address a PO Box? PO Boxes and UPS boxes are a no no. It’s good to know this up front before you get started.
8) Is your phone number a land line? Some Local SEOs claim that landlines may provide some benefit. Regardless it’s good to know where the phone number is registered.
9) Do other websites 301 redirect to your website? If other websites redirect to their domain you may need to do an analysis on these domains as well. Specifically for penalty evaluation.
10) Did you ever previously use call tracking numbers? Previously used call tracking numbers can be a nightmare as far as local SEO is concerned. If a client previously used call tracking numbers you will want to search for these when we get to the citation portion of this document. Cleaning up wrong phone numbers, including tracking numbers, in the local ecosystem is essential to your local success.

Local SEO audit phase 1: Google My Business page

The new Google My Business Dashboard has a lot of useful information. Although I reference the Google Guidelines below, be sure to check them often. Google does change these sometimes and you won’t really get any official notice. This happened rather recently when they started allowing descriptive words in the business name. Keep in mind that if any changes were recently made to your Google My Business page they may not show in the live version. It may take up to three days for these to show in the search results.

Any information collected below should be put in the “Current Info” tab on the spreadsheet under the Google My Business Information. This will also help us identify discrepancies right away when we look at the spreadsheet.

1. Locate the proper Google My Business page we should be working with

We can’t really get started with an audit unless we know the proper page we’re working this. Usually if a client hires you they already have this information.

How to do this: If your client already has a Google My Business login, and log in to their dashboard using the proper credentials. In the back end of the dashboard it should show the businesses associated with this account. Copy this URL and confirm with the business owner that this is the page they intend to use. If it’s not their primary one we will correct this a bit later below.

Goal: We want to find and record the proper Google My Business URL in our Local SEO Audit Spreadsheet.

2. Find and destroy duplicate pages

Editor’s Note: Since the publication of this post, Google has shut down Mapmaker. For a current list of best practices for managing duplicate GMB listings, read:

Duplicate Google My Business listings can be one of the greatest threats to any local SEO campaign.

How to: There are several ways to find possible duplicate pages but I have found the easiest way is to use Google MapMaker. To do this log in to your Google account and visit or From this page you can search the business phone number such as 555-555-5555 or the business names. If you see multiple listings you didn’t know about, a major priority is to record those URLs and delete them.

I personally see a lot of issues when dealing with attorneys where each attorney has their own profile or in the case where an office has moved. There should only be one listing and it should be 100% correct.

You can also read my previous MOZ article.

Goal: Make sure there are no duplicate listings. Kill any duplicates.

3. Ensure that the local listing is not penalized (IMPORTANT!)

Figuring out Google penalties in the local landscape is not usually a walk in the park. In fact there are a lot of variables to consider and now this is a bigger deal post Pigeon as more organic signals are involved. We will look at other types of penalties later in this guide. Unlike organic penalties Google does not notify businesses of local penalties unless your account is suspended with a big red warning on the back end of your My Business page.

According to Phil Rozek from Local Visibility System “My first must-look-at item is: is the client’s site or Google Places page being penalized, or at risk of getting penalized?”

How to do this: If your keyword is “Los Angeles personal injury attorney” then you could search for this keyword on Google Maps and Google Search results. If your business listing appears on the maps side in position C for example but then does not appear at all in local search results performing a normal Google Search, then it’s likely there is a penalty in place. Sometimes you see listings that are not suppressed on the maps side but are suppressed on the places side. This is an easy way to take a look.

Goal: Do your best to determine that the listing is not penalized. If it is consult a penalty expert for further guidance.

4. Is the Google My Business page associated with an email address on the customer’s domain?

In my experience it’s best practice to have the login information for the business under an email address associated with the domain name. Additionally this ensures that the client has primary control of their listing. As an example if you run and had local listings your Google My Business login should be instead of This helps associate that you are indeed the business owner.

How to: If someone else owns your Google My Business page you can transfer it to yourself. Read Google’s Transfer Ownership guide.

Goal: The Google My Business Login should be on an email address on the customers domain.

Local Search and Digital Marketing

The Anatomy of a Search Engine Result

Do you find it difficult to decipher the different components of Google’s search results these days? You’re not alone. It’s hard for professional SEOs, let alone local business owners, to figure out how and from where Google is surfacing various pieces of information. Knowing which search engine results represent paid advertisements vs. natural or organic results vs. social results vs. local results is basically a full-time job!

For local queries in particular, Google tends to return results that include a blend of both website and Local information—mostly stemming from Google+ Local pages.

Here’s a screenshot of what that looks like. Note that for this query, “car insurance,” the searcher does not even need to specify where he’s looking for car insurance—Google guesses his location based on a variety of signals.

Since the Spring of 2012, Google has returned an increasing percentage of these “blended” results for local queries—meaning it’s important to optimize not only your website, but your Google+ Local page, and all associated local and social media profiles.

Conceptualizing the Online Landscape

This graphic is meant to represent the influence of both organic search ranking factors (things related to your website) and social media factors (such as reviews left for your business on your Google+ Local Page, Yelp, Citysearch, and other sites around the web).

In order to truly succeed in local search marketing, your business will need to make both organic and social media efforts. But not every business should focus on the same mix of techniques to achieve success.

Where Should You Prioritize Your Resources?

If your business sells products or services to customers located in your geographic area, optimizing for local search will almost always be a must for you. Both Google and Bing have indicated that over 20% of all desktop search queries are local in nature and that somewhere around 50% of queries on mobile phones and tablets are local. These percentages will only increase in the coming years.

Depending on your business model, local search may be a key component of your overall marketing mix. But it shouldn’t necessarily be the first place you start with your online marketing.

Many factors like the age of your website, whether you have someone available in-house to work on your online marketing, and the physical location of your business all influence whether local search should be your primary focus, or whether you might be better served taking a look at organic search or social media first.

Digital Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses

Google, Bing, and the other search engines have revolutionized how we learn, how we collaborate, how we shop and how we interact within our local communities. Today, Google alone handles more than 100 billion searches per month around the world. Of those searches,

From these numbers, we can extrapolate that there are approximately seven billion unique local searches per month on Google in the United States.

Google, Yahoo!, and Bing are all currently returning local results that have challenged traditional print Yellow Pages and, in many areas, exceeded their usage as the preferred method for discovering local businesses and local information. As of March 9, 2009, Google began showing local results for generic queries, meaning that Internet users no longer need to include any city or geographic terms in their search to be shown results that are local to their location.

Additionally, mobile search is absolutely exploding. Mobile searches primarily pull their results from local search engines.

What this means for your business: The potential to attract new customers via local search is enormous.

Depending upon your business model, your marketing budget and your resources, local search may be the right match for your business—or, conversely, other forms of marketing may be smarter for you. Visit and read all three of the articles in the “keep learning” section below to determine the best possible marketing channels for your unique business.

Keep learning

Building a Social Following Locally

Few marketing terms light up local business owners’ eyes like the words “social media”. Most business owners are already using social media in their personal lives, and it’s only natural to want to use this channel to grow your business. However, many business owners dive headfirst into social media without an understanding of what kinds of content to post, how to attract followers and fans, or the nuances of each social platform—let alone a concrete strategy to make the most of their time spent.

The essence of social media is really a public conversation with your customers and prospective customers—sort of like one big dinner party. Just as partygoers aren’t really attending with the intent of being sold to, neither are social media followers looking for a constant sales pitch. And no partygoer likes to be cornered by someone who only talks about themselves, so don’t be “that guy” on social media either! Engage your followers, ask their opinions, and give them a sense of investment in your business.

In terms of making the most of your time, spend it on the sites where your customers are. Just because you think you should be on Facebook doesn’t necessarily mean that it will pan out for you. Survey your customers to find out which sites they’re on, whether in-store, via email, or when they call for an appointment. You’re likely to get a running start on your social media campaign if you “fish where the fish are.”

Check out the “keep learning” section below. There, you’ll find specific guides to help you build and engage a following on the major social networking sites for local businesses.

Keep learning