About the Author
As we continue to grow our team, we strive to bring on the best minds in their respective industries. When it comes to SEO optimization, we recently welcomed one of the leading experts in the field, Jim Muturi. As an SEO Specialist, James came to us in March after successful roles implementing keyword planning with Verizon, Houston Airport System, GearTech LLC, Aztec Rental Services, and Get Loans. He served as an SEO specialist in these roles and helped numerous businesses launch and market their sites and products online using keyword planning. He also served as the SEO content expert for Chase Bank.
Jim's experience goes back to 1997 when he developed and designed his first website. The success of his debut site led to businesses scouting him for digital marketing help, garnering him over 20 years of SEO expertise. When he is not finding SEO solutions for ECI, he is spending time with his family--wife Irene and daughters Krystal and Clarissa. His favorite past-times include cooking, reading, writing, hiking, and watching Sci-fi, suspense, and action movies. Some of his favorites include The Avengers, Gone Girl, and the John Wick series.
Below, Jim has shared industry secrets on planning and maintaining an effective SEO strategy to grow your business and income.
To answer that, we first need to define what SEO is in a broad sense. It is the process of improving a website's ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) for specific keywords. The goal of SEO is not just to drive traffic but to convert those visitors into paying customers by providing something they need or want when they arrive at your website. SEO techniques have evolved in the last decade to cater to an ever-changing digital landscape.
Google is the most popular of the four leading search engines (the other three are Bing, Yahoo, and Baidu). In the past two decades, the tech company has grown to become the largest search engine with a market share of over 80%. To protect its brand, Google uses incredibly advanced algorithms to find the best content to serve in response to a specific query. Here are the factors it considers when deciding which material to rank highly.
Once you type a specific query or keyword into Google's search engine, it analyzes many pages to determine the most relevant ones. The more content is on a page, the easier it is for Google to determine what the page is about. Take, for example, the search term "jaguar": Would the user be referencing an animal or a vehicle? To determine which pages to serve, Google must examine the page's other related keywords. This highlights the significance of extensive content that includes relevant keywords, graphics, and other elements.
Google's algorithm can now "see" and understand images. Incorporating high-quality, relevant photos onto a page is another excellent way for the search engine to determine a page's relevance.
Keyword-relevant titles and descriptions
If you use a content management system (CMS) to build your content, include your targeted keyword in the page title. The page title is the brief description (often no more than 60 characters) that appears at the top of the browser window and displays in search engine results.
Including your targeted keyword in the page's title is a crucial ranking factor. It tells Google what the page is about and helps the algorithm crawl the remainder of the page or content.
Fast load times
According to recent research, the average buyer waits only three seconds for a page to load before clicking away. Load speeds and latency can have a substantial impact on Google rankings.
What factors influence the loading speed of a website or post? It could be a combination of factors. One is the site's underlying code, which can reduce initial server response times. Another is locally hosted media such as video or uncompressed images. These elements can affect the page or site's web vitals and add to overall latency, interfering with the user experience.
The following best practices can improve page-load speeds:
Businesses are increasingly using local SEO as a competitive strategy. This has spurred controversy about whether to treat it differently than regular SEO. While there are many similarities between the two, it is crucial to assess whether you should implement a local SEO approach to increase your site's visibility.
Local SEO enhances your ranks and exposure in local search results, such as Google's Map Packs/Local Packs. The objective is to rank higher in search results for a specific targeted location. However, does this demand a different SEO strategy?
Whether you are optimizing a site for general or local search, the fundamental SEO-recommended practices are similar. Content must be relevant and of excellent quality, keyword titles must be short and descriptive, and page speed must be satisfactory. This leads us to the following question: how do businesses start building up their local SEO? Here are additional steps to consider:
Optimizing your Google Maps listing
Google Maps (also known as the Map Pack or Snack Pack) is a distinct component of local SEO. If your business or organization offers products or services in a specific geographic region, having a Google Business Profile (GBP) is essential to your digital marketing plan. This is no surprise considering that more than 30 percent of all queries on Google tie to a specific location.
Take your customer reviews seriously
Customer reviews are a major ranking factor for local Map Packs. According to a recent survey, 82% of consumers read online business reviews before making a purchase decision. Therefore, it is not surprising that Google also considers consumer reviews as a ranking factor for local map packs.
Claim and complete your Google My Business profile
Many businesses and organizations recognize the significance of a Google Maps listing. However, few have made an effort to claim their listings. An even greater number have not made the extra effort to complete their profiles. This includes adding business hours of operation, relevant keywords, posts, photos, videos, and other pertinent information. In addition to lowering sales and conversions, an incomplete listing can affect local search results.
Have a website
Existing surveys indicate that around 30% of small businesses in the United States do not have a website (the number is higher internationally). During the COVID-19 lockdown, companies became acutely aware of the significance of having a website, as it was their only means of interacting with customers. Linking your website to your Google Maps profile provides customers with actionable information and can increase both sales and positive reviews.
Ensure the website is mobile-friendly
A 2019–2020 survey found that over 65% of all website visits originated from mobile devices. The impact of the COVID-19 lockdown probably indicates this number is higher. Because most consumers perform local searches on their mobile devices, having a mobile-friendly website can significantly impact your local SEO efforts.
Google My Business (GMB)
Google my Business (GMB) makes it incredibly easy to list your business and provide relevant content to your customers, including photos, videos, and more. It is also a great place to highlight your services and consumer reviews and establish a positive online reputation regardless of geographical location.
Yext is a multi-platform tool that helps businesses and organizations manage their local directory listings, directory submissions, citation building, Q&A, online reputation, analytics, and more. Yext integrates with Google My Business in addition to other tools.
SEO management tools
SEO management tools are a must-have for any business looking to make an impact in local SEO. Personal favorites include SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz. Keyword research tools include Keyword Tool IO, Keywords Everywhere, and Long Tail Pro.
Page speed monitoring tools
These include GTMetrix, Pingdom, and Google's PageSpeed Insights.
Georanker is another excellent local SEO tool that checks website rankings in multiple locations. It goes even further and uses heat maps to show which parts of the site your visitors interact with most.
The importance of local SEO for all types of businesses and organizations cannot be understated. While local SEO shares some similarities with general SEO, it has some distinguishing features. The goal is to dominate the local map packs for localized search and maximize visibility on Google My Business. Businesses must apply specific strategies and techniques and innovative tools to achieve this.
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About the Author