Local Listings, Citations & Directories

Rightly so, businesses place a lot of focus on their website; ensuring that it is both user friendly and search engine friendly. However, getting a leg up in local search results will require more than a solid-functioning website. Today, relevance, proximity, authority, and popularity are super important for a business to thrive in local search results. Done correctly, citations, niche directories, and local listings provide valuable links to your website that accentuate overall search engine strategies.  

High Value Directory Listings

High value local listings for both general and niche industries can have a legitimate impact on search engine results and E.A.T. (Expertise, Authority & Trustworthiness) The best news is that they have little to no required investment -other than time. Below is a list of the top 5 general citation listings based on a combination of MOZ Domain Authority, Alexa Ranking data and other core components of local business search optimization.  

5-Step High Impact Listings For Local Business

  1. Google My Business

    The most valued place for a local business with at least one physical location is, by far, Google My Business. Add your business listing for free to gain customer reviews and show up in more local search results including Google & Google Maps.

  2. Bing Places For Business

    Bing weighs more heavily on social signals & pulls reviews from third party sources such as Yelp & Facebook. Free listing & very worthwhile to add this smaller search engine to your local search strategy.

  3. Better Business Bureau

    The BBB receives a massive amount of traffic, builds trust immediately & appears on page 1 of many organic brand searches. (Google approved) Even the free, non-accredited version, is a win-win for local business.

  4. YELP

    Yelp follows some strict guidelines that make it difficult to acquire new reviews & have bogus reviews removed. On the other hand, Yelp reviews are shared on other platforms. Most importantly, information from Yelp is used to populate Apple Maps.

  5. LinkedIn

    When someone searches from Google or Bing, your LinkedIn posts can appear. This type of professional platform quickly builds authority, trust & also can be used to build a network of new clients & referrals for your business future

Honorable Local Listing Mentions

A free company Facebook page allows an opportunity to gain reviews and engage with huge daily base of customers. It is expected for a local business to have a page, however, if the page is not current or engaging, it can have a negative impact on a business brand. Secondly, I have removed Yahoo Local Business listings from my top 5. They have been through many changes in recent years.  The complications of having to manage this listing through a 3rd party company (YEXT) takes it out of my top 5. If you do not mind the hassle, go for it. I choose to ignore it & replace that time with more productive endeavors.

Internet Listings For Local Success

Please do not litter the internet with listings that have no clear purpose. (In an effort to inflate traffic numbers from paid ads, companies like Yellow Pages and Yellow Book have been known to do this.) Instead, ensure that each referral site truly adds value to your overall online strategy. Local SEO consultants who setup and manage these efforts utilize marketing tools that measure the popularity and value of each potential link. Measurement data includes data such as traffic, ranking and domain authority. If you do not have the ability to hire professional help, just use good common sense. For example, if you are a local law firm, it would make sense to have your information on AVVO. On the contrary, it may not make sense to list on Grub Hub or Zillow.

Local Business Citations Overview

Use citations, niche directories and local listings to brand and inform. Done correctly, they provide links of qualified eyeballs to your business website. What works for your business may be slightly different. Just stick to the citations that are most relevant to your specific industry and town and have the most impact on local search results & website traffic. If you need assistance setting up or managing your business listings, contact us for affordable pricing options.

Social Profiles Do Rank In Search

Yes, social profiles do rank in search engines! For most brand searches, social media profiles for business -such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter, are mixed into “free,” non-paid, organic search results. This means that social media profiles can rank right along with SEO optimized pages from your website. Test this theory by placing a couple different branded business names into Google search. Depending upon many factors, social can also outrank website content. Although social platforms are not a “direct” ranking factor for website pages, they should not be overlooked because they are very visible to branded search terms.  

Social Impact on Business

  • Appear in more organic SERP’s on social platforms & Google
  • Acquire all of page one organic search results for brand
  • Showcase website pages to new audiences
  • Display products & explain services
  • Actively participate in Q&A
  • Builds E.A.T (expertise, authority & trust)
  • Feed website pages with inbound links
  • Encourage conversation & word of mouth advertising
  • Extend branding message & products / services
  • Gain consumer insight & gauge online reputation
  • Reach & impact specific demographics

SEO and Social Media

Technical / Organic SEO and Social Media have different purposes – but compliment one another. Here’s how it works: Technical SEO connects search engine crawlers to pages on your website based on searcher’s intent and a multitude of industry related keywords. Nothing is more important regarding the foundation of an online business. However, technical SEO alone isn’t enough. “Big picture” opportunities to reach and influence customers online shouldn’t be overlooked. Social media is just one opportunity to take advantage of modern marketing that extends online visibility far beyond a well-developed website. Build a digital team that is well-rounded; as focused on technical details as much as “big picture” lead generation.

Social Impact On Brand

A business website and SEO efforts are just the beginning. Online visibility, especially in highly competitive industries, requires addressing all “touchpoints” of a customer journey, including social media. For any business type, in any industry, the social impact of your brand has long-term advantages that can nicely align with company goals. Top social channels for business offer profiles for single or multi-location businesses. They engage the potential lead.

Engage With Potential Customers

  • Subscriptions
  • Live broadcasts
  • Stories
  • Links back to your website
  • Detailed “services” & “products” pages
  • Posting of video, photos, infographics, etc.
  • Messenger & other communication streams

Carefully select your social media channels. Have a creative discussion with your digital and marketing team members to discuss brand, messaging, use of hashtags, and overall objectives. Include competitive research along with demographics, and the offerings of each platform.

Social Media Demographic Study: Hootsuite

Ignoring Social Media Leads To:

#1. Competitors stealing positions on page one of YOUR brand search results

#2 A negative impression when potential customers can’t find you on social platforms

#3 A negative impression when social media is handled incorrectly

#4 Many lost opportunities to grow business & generate leads

Social Media Help For Business

Undeniably, social influences are fully integrated into personal, political, and professional spaces online. With devoted attention, social interaction can help a business exponentially. For social media to begin working for your business, a customized “business” social profile is required. (Even if you already have personal profiles for the same social platform.) Setting up, contributing to and tracking business social media profiles is a little different than personal profiles. Leaning Tree marketing is familiar with the process and has a fully transparent system to manage and contribute with trust and loyalty to your business goals. Need help with your social media? Contact us today.

XML Sitemap & Indexing

Help Spiders Find Your Site

One of the most basic and easiest things you can do to improve SEO is to ensure that web spiders can easily find and crawl your website. An XML sitemap achieves this goal. It’s essentially a list of pages intended to be found by web spiders, search engine bots, and/or users.  A good sitemap will provide a clear understanding of your website structure; organizing pages by hierarchy or content type -providing important meta-data for each page. If used correctly, a sitemap serves as a tool to organize and clearly define the pages within your website.  A sitemap can easily be created using Google Search Console, your content management system, (CMS), or a variety of other sitemap generator tools.

XML sitemap Types

There are multiple sitemap types. For the Google search engine, you’re going to be using XML files. Sitemaps can also be pointed at through robots.txt codes and could potentially use other formats, depending upon the search engine you are looking at. When submitting XML sitemaps to search engines, follow the instructions provided by each one. Also consider creating more than one sitemap for your site using variations specifically for images, videos, news, mobile, etc.

Will a Sitemap Get Pages Indexed?

There is no guarantee. A sitemap significantly improves your chances of being indexed by major search engines. If you submit sitemaps, you’re making it easy to be found. All businesses want to be found! However, search engines still need to determine if the quality of your pages are worthy enough to connect to specific search queries.  Ultimately, submitting a sitemap is important for SEO, but it’s not going to make a search engine like Google prefer your site over another just because you have a sitemap pointer.

Submitting Sitemaps to Search Engines

Once you’re happy with the sitemaps you have created, they must be submitted manually to search engines.  (Update & maintenance sitemaps manually as well.)  For any search engine, verify the website then ensure appropriate user permissions before submitting a sitemap. Be sure your sitemap is in the correct file format and actually exists on your web server before attempting to verify it.

Find XML Sitemaps on Your Website

  • View XML sitemaps currently associated with your website, simply type in your website URL with the XML index extension, such as: https://www.allaboutmybusiness.com/sitemap_index.xml
  • To Validate XML sitemap submittals, refer to the dashboards on Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools or other free sitemap validator tools
  • Be sure to check and update your sitemaps regularly, especially as new content as added to your website.
  • If you can’t find a page that you think should be on your sitemap, ensure that page isn’t blocked by robots.txt

How to Add Sitemap to Google

  1. Go to webmaster tools, or “Google Search Console”
  2. Find & select “sitemaps” in dashboard options
  3. Select “add/test sitemap”
  4. Paste your sitemap code in appropriate file format
  5. Test , Submit, & ensure it has been saved

How to Add Sitemap to Bing

  1. Go to Bing Webmaster Tools
  2. Locate the sitemap widget from user dashboard
  3. Select “add a sitemap”
  4. Paste your sitemap code in appropriate format
  5. Test , Submit, & ensure it has been saved

Adding Sitemaps to other Sources

  • Yahoo! Site explorer is no longer valid.  Use Bing Webmaster Tools as shown above to ensure your sitemap is uploaded to Yahoo!.
  • Ask.com no longer allows the submittal of sitemaps. The best way to reference your sitemap location for Ask.com is to use robots.txt to reference it.

Help with Website Sitemaps

Hire additional assistance to create, upload, maintenance, or verify the success of your sitemap submittal, contact The Leaning Tree Digital directly for more information.

Content Strategy For Underperforming Website Pages

Content presents is a huge opportunity to rank better in search engine results. A website should have a variety of content pages including static content, landing pages, form pages, thank you pages, and blogs. The top two goal for a web content strategy should be to help improve the visibility and user experience. This article focuses more on visibility for search engines.

What Does Google Look For in a Web Page?

If you note that a particular page or series of pages on your website are underperforming, then it is time to investigate. Before deleting, redirecting, merging multiple pages into one single page, evaluate the importance of the content and consider all options.If you have tried all the technical SEO tricks in the book to improve page performance, and they still underperform, then the problem may be due to “low quality” or “outdated” content. Potentially, the problem could be more about the user experience, rather than the search engine. However, let’s focus on some of the things that Google is thought to rank web pages for.  Besides on-page optimizing content, many experts agree that  E.A.T. is a strong factor in the Google algorithm configuration. After reading this article, I would recommend searching for and viewing Google’s “Quality Raters Guidelines” as it may help prepare more “search engine” friendly content.

Website Performance and Content Evaluation
In addition to keywords, your website content should indicate to Google bots that you are the expert, authority in your field, and that high-quality / trustworthy material is offered. Evaluate the performance metrics to gauge success or failure. Detailed and optimized pages which are specific about one service or product rank better than a page that has merged a bunch of varying or related products or services together. Fast loading websites outperform slow ones,  and sites that keep content fresh are going to be more appealing. Improve content performance b answering some important questions.

Some initial questions to ask regarding quality & authority:

  • What are your competitors doing differently?
  • When did the page performance take a turn? (Possibly due to a Major Core Algorithm Update?)
  • Is the page on your sitemap?
  • Is the page slow to load?
  • Are your pages outdated or no longer relevant?
  • Are your pages overlapping with material/duplicate content?
  • Are your pages providing enough detail/word count?
  • Are your pages bouncing?
  • Are your pages targeting & attracting the correct audience?
  • Are your pages displaying content which positions you as the expert?
  • Are the referring domains to this page authoritative?
  • Is there a clear call to action on every page?

*Tools to assist in your evaluation: Google Search Console,  ahrefs, MOZ, SEMRUSH & Majestic.

Fresh Quality Content CAN Get More Leads

There is a known correlation between the depth of your content and Google rankings. It has since been updated and to current day continues to emphasize the importance of fresh and updated content. The magnitude of content updates and frequency of content updates do also have an impact on this indexing system.

You may lose ranking if pages are too similar, too short, have too many focus keywords, are not supported by quality links, or are not on-page optimized. If fresh quality content isn’t the problem, do some investigating into competitor content. Do websites that outrank yours have more in-depth authoritative content?

Improve Visibility on Multiple Platforms

In order for the content to be fully visible and have an opportunity to be indexed, it needs to be on both mobile and desktop. The same goes for content which has been “hidden” behind mobile tabs. Although the content exists on mobile, it may be difficult to find or use. If this is the case it also will not indexed as well as fully visible content.

Due to mobile first indexing and the improvement of mobile delivery and display of content, most businesses have seen traffic on mobile content surpass desktop. Even so, do not forget about your desktop audience! Content on your desktop may still provide more conversions, better bounce rates, and more opportunity for in-depth research.

Quick 10 Content Performance Maintenance

There are ways to salvage underperforming web pages. Focus pages which have minimal traffic, low conversions, or low visibility on mobile first…then desktop.

  1. Check your online reviews & monitor your reputation. Get a handle on what are people saying about you. Even if you think there would be no reviews in places like Yelp or BBB, look anyway. Also, ensure that you respond to negative reviews!
  2. Ensure content is authoritative, relevant, in-depth and understandable.
  3. Ensure that the page you’re focused on is being noticed and understood by search engine crawlers. This means it should be found on a sitemap.
  4. Check for duplicate/similar content. If there are competing pages, tell Google which one you prefer to rank using robots.txt / canonicals.
  5. Your web page should be easily found & formatted for the mobile device & also found on desktop. If needed, revisit & revamp your on-page SEO.
  6. Your page must load quickly on all devices. (First mobile interaction 1-3 seconds.)
  7. Add updated, fresh content to existing page; reach 2000 words per page if possible & ensure there’s a call to action.
  8. Knowing what your top competitors are doing differently is a really big deal, and a great starting point. However, it is important to go a step further and ensure that you’re addressing your niche.
  9. Support your pages with links, social mentions, comments & multi-media. (If you’re a local business who can’t get referral links from high authority sites on a national level, then try to get some on a local or social level.)
  10. Ensure images are not copy write and also have alt tags.

One last thing that is important to mention. If you’re trying to boost a local business landing page, review or testimonials page, Q&A page, video or media page, social profile page, be aware that there is specific structured data available to enhance them!  It could also help get other pages noticed, including in SERP’s such as Google Answers and featured snippets.

If your website content needs some attention, contact Leaning Tree Digital.

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