Search on a Dime

Time for more small talk. Get it? Small talk? Because we’re talking about small businesses again? Imsofunny.

Fine…I’ll leave the funny for Twitter and just stick to the liveblogging. Jerks.

Jennifer Evans Laycock is moderating speakers David Mihm (woot!), Matt Van Wagner and Stoney deGeyter.

Stoney is up first.

If you’re SEO is jacked up, you’re not going anywhere. You want to take a good look at your site. Go beyond the keywords and look at your site as a whole. When you don’t focus on SEO, what you’re going to find is that you lose rankings overall. With bad SEO, you lose indexed pages, rankings, visitors and sales.

Don’t make the search engines (or your users) think. You want to make it as easy as possible.   You have to look at three main things.

Domain and URL Structure

  • Keep it short.
  • Register for 10 years
  • Make it memorable
  • Use keywords, if possible

Redirect all domain names to the primary URL. Get your canonical issues taken care of. He doesn’t like relying on the new canonical tag because who knows if it really exists or what it will become.

Use search engine friendly URLs. Use keywords when you can. Use categories. Minimize the number of parameters if you’re using a dynamic system.  The search engines may index it, but once you get too deep it’ll slow down.

Session IDs: Huge source of duplicate content troubles.  Find a different way of tracking people through your Web site than using session IDs.

Custom redirect pages: Create a custom 404 page so people don’t get the big white screen when they wander off the path. Keep them on your site by telling them where to go next for help.

Use a top-flat directory structure: Don’t link every page from your home page.  He talks about using a directory structure that’s very similar to Bruce Clay’s concept of siloing.

Link & Navigation Structure

You want links to be search engine friendly. Make your URLs representative of the pages the user will click through. Don’t use JavaScript in your links because the search engines can’t get passed them. They’re blocked from the search engines.

Be careful of how you’re splitting your link flow.  You want to direct all your link flow into one primary page so there’s only one URL available for that page.

Your link text should use keywords. “Click here” should be not your anchor text.

If you have parts of your site that are hidden behind password fields or drop down boxes, the search engines can’t access it.  You need to have clickable links in order to open your content up to the search engines.

Have a site map. Separate your content, don’t just throw up a bunch of links. You want to make it easy for your users to find the content. It should mimic the main navigation, separated by sections and headings. Apple has a really great site map.

Prevent broken links as much as possible. Run a broken link check on your site at least once a month. He mentions Xenu, which is a free download. Broken links just happen. Don’t let your site lose value because it looks unkempt. You don’t want users or the engines to find them.

Document & Page Structure

Your Title tags should be unique. Don’t use the same one across your whole site. Not every page on your site needs to have a Meta Description. If you’re targeting a page for specific keywords, put in a Meta Description. If you’re not, don’t worry about it.  This way, the search engines will just take a snippet of the content.

Interlink your related pages.  Any opportunities you get to interlink content from one page to another, you should take. It will not only give more information to your visitors, it’ll help the search engines pick up those links.

Up next is David, who is completely adorable and someone I’ve never heard present. Yey, David!

Forty percent of queries have local intent.100 million unique visitors per months search Yahoo with “local intent”.

The search engines are asking how they can gauge local intent.  Some of the ways they do it are by asking explicit questions, they look at search history, Google/Yahoo account information, IP targeting, mobile targeting, and browser awareness.

The New/Old Local Search

Old: You typed in a keyword and your area and you got geo-based organic results. 10 blue links with a meta description.

New: Eighteen months ago we started to see the new local search results with the local one box. It’s a totally different interface. If you type it in and leave the box clicked for “remember my location” any search you do will be targeted to that location, whether it’s locally based or not.

The 10 Page: Local results are the default for #1 (or #4) result for every keyword and city, State.

If you get any significant percent of your business from a physical storefront, you need to be in local. It’s leveled the playing field for moms and pops.

Where does Google’s Local data come from?

  1. The Google Local Business Center
  2. Third Party Data Providers
  3. Web Crawling

Yahoo relies on similar data. It’s free to submit to both of them.

Local Business Center Ranking Factors.

  1. Claiming your listing manually:  They trust you more if you claim. Trust and rankings are tied. Google doesn’t trust bulk uploads due to spam vulnerability.
  2. Categorize Properly
  3. Use keywords in business title

Google and Yahoo also rely on third-party data feeds and web crawling. Google focuses on Web citations aka mentions of your business name in proximity to either your address, phone number or both. It may or may not be accompanied by a link to your Web site. They come from data providers.

To get these citations, make sure your data is consistent among different providers.

[David talks super fast and I'm missing things. He's still adorable and I want to put him in my pocket to take everywhere. ]

Where to Get Citations: Data Providers

  • InfoUSA
  • Localeze
  • UniversalBusinessListings.org

Also look into: BOTW Local, OpenList.com, CityVoter.com, InsiderPages.com and Superpages.com

You can get local citations from blogs, as well. Also from industry and city directories.

David’s Local Search Camp on a Dime

  • Create a contact page on your site with your address plus phone number coded in HTML hCard Microformat
  • Claim your listing at Google Maps and Yahoo Local
  • Submit to big data aggregators
  • Claim your listings on secondary search platforms
  • Link out to your various listings from your contact us page: Ensures that your citations will get picked up by Web crawl. Increases the potential for indented listings in organic search with link juice. If you have a YouTube video, link to it from your contact page, too.

Is anyone else sad he didn’t plug GetListed.org? Because it’s an awesome tool and he’s far too modest. Use Getlisted.org to help you claim all your local listings and read their blog.

Up next is Matt.  He starts clapping for himself. Hee.

Aw, Matt plugs GetListed because David didn’t mention it. So much love in the room.

Paid search can be a very effective tactic for small businesses.

  • Small business issues: Time involved in marketing, ad spend comes out of owner’s pocket, technology is not what they do.
  • Define Opportunity: Develop the ideas (What do you want to promote?), implement and test, evaluate.

When designing a paid search campaign, keep it simple. Don’t use exotic tactics or try to be the best paid search campaign on the planet. Stay within your comfort zone.  Use paid search as part of the solution. Stay within the major engines, expand or contract spend as needed, use the new targeting options that enable laser-focus.

Matt asks Jennifer when the phone was invented and she just laughs at him. Hee. I have no idea when the phone was invented either. They haven’t had that Gossip Girl episode yet.

You have two tactics with paid search: Geographic targeting and Time of Day Targeting.

  • Geographic Targeting: You can constrain campaign by state, DMA, radius, etc. The tighter you target, the less the search engines can deliver real traffic.
  • Time of Day Targeting: Show ads when you want them to be seen. Bid higher or lower certain times of the day. Turn off campaigns when business is closed.

Matt offers up a really great case study that was super information, but not so much liveblogging friendly. Your loss.

[I have just noticed there is CAKE on the stage. Little pieces of cake. I can has cake? When do I get the cake? Think they'd stop me if I put down my laptop and grabbed the cake?]

Ooo, now he talks about goodies. Apparently they are gluten-free brownies and something-or-other energy bars. All I know is that they are not in my belly and that needs to be remedied. Now can I eat the brownies?

Question and Answer

What about local in Europe?

David: Google Maps is universal everywhere. Yahoo has country-specific algorithms. Google, though, works the same way. There are different citation examples abroad. See what’s showing up for your industry and keywords.

How does advertising locally help to get you out there nationally?

David: The local piece with the 10 piece won’t help you nationally. The more you get your name on local blogs and directories, that will help you rank nationally.

Stoney: If you’re a national company in a niche market, you’re not going to have a lot of competition, so focus nationally.

What about using nofollow on the About page

Stoney: Use it carefully. He uses it for Privacy policy, Shipping pages, not for About Us because those can be valuable.

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About the Author

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.

Get social with Lisa at Twitter

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