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The importance of local SEO in your marketing efforts

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The concept of local SEO may still be alien to some, but it is fast becoming an essential component for all businesses, online and offline. In particular, brands that seek long term search engine success.

So what exactly is local SEO?

This is the type of search engine optimization that is focused on providing relevant results to a user based on their current location. And this is a practice that has seen a sudden rise thanks to the increase in smartphone usage, combined with improved connectivity.

And although it has a lot of similarities with traditional SEO, there are some fundamental differences.

Care for some statistics?

Google recently revealed that one in three mobile queries in the United States are now local. Additionally 95% of mobile users look up local information on their phones. It goes without saying that this is one area of search that is set to become more and more prevalent in the years to come.

So how do you optimize for local search?

Luckily, Google have set up things that will help you get started. Google Places for Business, and Google+ Local combined with some simple on-page local SEO provide the perfect start towards optimizing your online presence for local searches.

Plus there is no shortage of online tools to analyze your local SEO rankings.

We will be going through all this in detail in subsequent articles on how to optimize your websites for local SEO, along with best practices, dos and don’ts.

Melanie Russell is a seasoned online business reporter and has been writing about the web for as long as she can remember.

8 Comments
  • Jen

    Great straight-forward information, Melanie! 🙂 The statistics are telling. This is extremely important for small businesses to consider when trying to establish a local base. Google seems like the way to go now.

  • Eddie84

    Google+ local is a fantastic tool for local SEO. Unless you’re strictly an online business, then local seo could be the best option for your new business. Nice post!

  • CholeCash

    Melanie- quick question: do you prefer Bing Local or Yahoo local and why? Thanks in advance!

  • Dtt23

    New news that Apple is using Bing as its default search engine on its new OS update to be released this fall. This could cause a HUGE increase in value for Bing Local. It may be smart to invest in that now.

    • Dennis

      Great point. I just saw this as well. Bing seems like the definitive next-best alternative to Google at this point!

  • Genie

    Melanie, you’re spot on with the statistics section. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out to eat or just out in general with someone and we’re conversing and the convo leads to us googling something. Mobile devices are definitely key!

    • AceofSpades

      Very true. A lot of times it’s to research an obscure fact for me, but overall, there are definitely times I’m out and I’ll google restaurants or other businesses near me. Mobile importance cannot be stressed enough.

  • Chetty

    Great start, Melanie. I am eager to see the subsequent articles, because I could definitely use help on the dos and don’ts of local SEO.

Editorial

13 Steps You Need To Follow To Build A Profitable High Traffic Technology Blog – Part Two – the belly of the whale

This is part two of my blueprint that will help you begin the process of building a high traffic profitable technology blog.

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Belly Of The Whale

So in my last post in this series, I talked about some of my experiences with some of the successful high traffic websites I actually built. This is part two of my blueprint that will help you begin the process of building a high traffic profitable technology blog.

So you want to build a technology blog that will actually pick up steam but before you actually get started, you have a few pivotal decisions to make.

After trying to build tech blogs randomly and failing, I figured out the best technique to use when preparing to start a technology blog.

I call it…

The Belly of the whale strategy

The Remora Fish

Have you heard about the Remora fish? They are really fascinating.

Check this out:

Remora are small fish with front dorsal fins that have evolved to enable them to adhere by suction to smooth surfaces. They spend their lives clinging to a host animal such as a whale, turtle, shark or ray. It is probably a mutualistic arrangement as the remora can move around on the host, removing ectoparasites and loose flakes of skin, while benefiting from the protection provided by the host…

Wikipedia

Now what the heck does that have to do with digital marketing? In this case, everything.

When you decide to start a tech blog, you want to make sure that you become the Remora fish.

You need to find a large technology company that has the following:

  • Millions of customers
  • Millions of fans
  • Lots of promotional/advertising money
  • Complicated software that is relatively hard to understand
  • Complicated software that people want to understand
  • A topic you are (somewhat) interested in

Once you identify that software company and decide you want to become an evangelist, you stick with them and monitor everything they do and figure out how to make money off their scraps.

I say “scraps” but remember, in many cases, these are multi-billion dollar companies. If you do your homework, their scraps can set you up for life. But more about that later.

It becomes a win-win situation.

  • What does the company get from you? They get an evangelist who is spreading the gospel of their software to the world.
  • What do you get? You get money, some level of “fame” and the ability to build your own community.

If you execute this properly, it becomes a mutually beneficial win-win situation.

The not so obvious mistake

The majority of bloggers who start technology blogs look at successful blogs like ZDNET, CNET and The Verge and think they can replicate those types of online publications.

You can’t. You simply can’t.

It’s real simple, those blogs are run by COMPANIES with TEAMS of writers and editors who can pump out 20 to 30 stories a day in different categories.

In addition, since they are so established, they pretty much will eat up the top 10 search engine results of almost anything they decide to cover.

It’s not fair but that’s just how it goes. So what should you do?

Real simple, you have to pick a niche.

What is a niche?

A niche is simply defined as a specialized market.

You see, in 2018, there is simply no market for “a tech blog”.

Technology Blogs

There are tons of general tech blogs out there

People know where to go for those and most of the people you want in your audience already know where to go to get general technology news.

You need to think about something more specific than technology to focus on if you want to carve out your own reliable section of the multi-billion dollar tech news industry.

You want to drill down and get really specific.

I’ll get more specific.

Here’s an example from my experience.

I wanted to start a technology blog and I focused on Microsoft.

Microsoft was a fantastic company because they made software that BILLIONS of people used, had a (relatively) great reputation and had lots of fans and customers. It was in many ways, a great whale to latch on to.

Remember my criteria?

  • Millions of customers
  • Millions of fans
  • Lots of promotional/advertising money
  • Complicated software that is relatively hard to understand
  • Complicated software that people want to understand
  • A topic you are (somewhat) interested in

It fit the bill perfectly so I thought I found my niche.

Niche -> Microsoft

Now at this point, the problem was, Microsoft make a TON of software and hardware. Windows, Windows Server, Surface, The Cloud, Surface, Azure, IOT and on and on.

Since we talked about not being a generalist, I realized that I didn’t have the resources to cover all these sectors so I had to drill down and pick a subset of the software that Microsoft makes.

Each of their business units has millions of customers (and potential readers of my blog) so it was hard to go wrong. At this point it was a just a matter of my preference so I chose Windows.

Niche -> Microsoft
Sub Niche -> Microsoft -> Windows

Looking good at this point but Windows had multiple versions on the market at the time (Windows Vista, Windows XP etc) and I knew that I couldn’t handle all that information so (in 2007) I had to drill down one more level.

Niche -> Microsoft
Sub Niche -> Microsoft -> Windows
Sub Niche -> Microsoft -> Windows -> Windows Vista

At this point, I decided that I would build a blog about Windows Vista and that crowd would be my crowd. That audience would be my tribe and I could focus on just one software package.

One decision made.

Thumbs up

Why is drilling down so important?

Drilling down is critical for three major reasons.

FOCUS

First, it gives you the ability to focus. You can avoid running down many other rabbit holes and getting distracted if you find the right technology niche.

USER DEFINITION

Second, it allows you to define your readers, visitors and (hopefully), future customer. Once you identify your audience, you can start creating a concrete business plan about the types of goods and services you can sell in the future aside from your daily informational content.

SEO

SEO is critical. Identifying what niche you are attacking allows you to create a concrete content plan that you can use to optimize your organic audience acquisition down the lane.

This is critical.

If you’re thinking about starting a technology blog, think about what product you want to focus on. Does it have millions of interested readers? Is the company large enough to latch on to? Do they qualify as a whale? Do they have lots of informational resources out there?

These are some of the things you need to think through before you actually pick a topic.

Think about this step for a while. In the next post in the series, I will walk you through how to write a baby business plan for a technology blog and help you figure out all the things you should be planning for EARLY.

This information will save you a lot of time and money so stay tuned.

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Evaluation

Find The Traffic Of Any Website With SimilarWeb

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If you have a particular site you are competing with, or just want to find out the traffic of any website or blog, there are a number of online tools that can help.

Most of them work quite differently from one another, in how they calculate the numbers, but solutions like Alexa, Quantcast, TrafficEstimate and even SEQquake provide valuable insights. Now you can add another neat tool to this list — one that goes by the name of SimilarWeb.

In theory, it is impossible to know exactly how much traffic a website gets, as that information is private to the owners of that particular website.

Tools that promises to provide these numbers does so based on their own research, algorithms and estimates. Some even include logs from Internet service providers in their statistics. Point being, you should always take this data with a grain of salt.

They are guesstimates, at best.

But still a good source to find out website traffic and demographic information. SimilarWeb works the same way, and one advantage it provides (against other such tools) is that a fair amount of data is available for free. Other provides charge monthly fees for access to their statistics.

So simply input the URL of a website that you want to gather some insights on, and the tool will give you a brief report about that site, along with their traffic estimates.

The numbers presented are quite close, though obviously not accurate.

Obviously, the bigger a site, the more precise an estimate it will provide. For example, TechCrunch lists on their ‘Advertise with Us’ page that they receive 34 million monthly page views. And sure enough, SimilarWeb provides numbers in this range.

However a lot of smaller sites are not enumerated, understandably.

As it stands, though, this probably is one of the better traffic estimation tool available online, and you can use it to gather some good results and compare how your sites compare with your competitors.

It also works with mobile apps, so give it a try at this link.

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Research and SEO

New Google Penguin Algorithm Update Being Rolled Out

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A new Google Penguin algorithm update is now rolling out. Although it was delayed by a week or so, the search engine giant has already begun the rollout of its latest Penguin update.

The company officially announced this a few weeks back.

In fact, the slow worldwide rollout began this past Friday, with the objective of reducing even more search spam than before. According to the company, webmasters may already have seen an impact already, though the effects are expected to be more noticeable in the coming weeks.

In the words of Pierre Far, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google:

“On Friday last week, we started rolling out a Penguin refresh affecting fewer than 1% of queries in US English search results. This refresh helps sites that have already cleaned up the webspam signals discovered in the previous Penguin iteration, and demotes sites with newly-discovered spam.”

Sounds pretty solid!

Those of you not in the know, Penguin is the codename for Google’s algorithm that decreases search engine rankings of sites that are found to be violating the Webmaster Guidelines that the company has put in place.

It focuses on artificial methods that are employed to increase the ranking of webpages — manipulation, in other words. Google has updated several of its algorithms these past few months, including a number of updates to Panda.

At the same time, the company has been hunting down individual sites and entire networks that it believes are trying to trick the system.

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