A Small Business Guide to Citations

citations
Quality Citations

 

For businesses who want to rank in the Local landscape, there are many different aspects small business owners need to understand in order to be found online. There is an overwhelming amount of information to digest, no shortage of SEO experts to tell you what you need to be doing and minimal amount of time to do any of it.

Small business owners in particular should have a strong, responsive website, with unique, neighborhood relevant content, a social media presence and an ongoing digital strategy. This can be a tall task for any business owner, let alone those who do not fully understand Local SEO.

Every small business owner has done this at least once since their business has been open. They go to Google, type in their information and scan the Page 1 SERP. It’s natural. Business owners want to know how they show up in Google. What’s also natural is having the business website show up first (hopefully). What shows up next though? Facebook? Yelp? Something else? Whatever the results are, hopefully it is their own business.

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Why Google My Business is Critical for Local Success

Local SEO

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business launched to most businesses in June of 2014 and signified a major investment from Google in local business. Google, always looking toward future, appears to be solidifying local business as their foundation for the future. Many businesses were able to use Google My Business (GMB) immediately upon release, while other, larger, branded companies had to wait several months for the rollout.

Originally known as Google Places, Google My Business is designed to help local businesses seize control of their digital marketing presence. This powerful tool allows businesses to manage general business information, Google Reviews, Google Plus, Adwords and Analytics in one easy to use home. It also provides a way to manage the local digital landscape from Google Search, Google Maps and Google Plus on one dashboard.

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I Got us Pandalized. Then We Got Out. Here’s How.

What Happened

The Google Panda algorithm was first deployed in February of 2011 and effected up to 12% of search results, most notably for us – our website. The algorithm targeted low quality websites with thin content, high ad to content ratios and other quality signals such as content farms. We got smoked by this algorithm and continued to get dinged each time a new version of Panda was released to the wild.

panda1

I’ve read others say that once you get hit by Panda once, you somewhat flatten out and it doesn’t keep hurting you. My perspective on that is different. Our website continually got hit and each time it took a good portion of our traffic – anywhere from 5-20% of whatever the current level of traffic happened to be. Now, this was our own fault mind you. Some of it was because we were lackadaisical in changing our content from standard, un-unique, nearly duplicate content on nearly all of our city/state/zip code pages and some was because I was still pumping out guest blogs which were of the same, poor quality as our website content. I take full responsibility.

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Google Pigeon Theory

No Pigeon

I’ve had this theory for a little while now and I’m going to finally let it out of the box. Inspired by a great read on Andrew Shotland’s blog, he spits a few theories of his own. Andrew has been most vocal about how crappy the Pigeon algortithm has been and that G needs to clean it up. One of his theories on why the SERP’s are so bad is the “the combination of overweighting of Google’s brand algorithm and the narrowing of the radius for many local queries could have pushed some of these big brands out of the local packs”.

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Pigeon Algorithm Analysis

spammylinks

Its been a few weeks since my last post on Pigeon, though I want to give an update on some items of interest I’ve been seeing with the update.

Ive been researching Pigeon since the day it was announced in an attempt to figure out just what is going on with the awful results being displayed. Here’s a quick rundown of what we know so far:

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Pigeon Local Results are Useless

via http://www.questioningcreatives.com/mark-chambers/
via http://www.questioningcreatives.com/mark-chambers/

What is Pigeon 

By now, we all know what Pigeon is about. A quick recap for those who are behind….On July 24th, Google launched a new local algorithm, later dubbed Pigeon by Search Engine Land. Results are still coming in though it appears the algorithm is a huge shake up in local search as both Google Maps and Web results were impacted. It is supposed to provide more useful, relevant and accurate local search results which are more closely tied to traditional web search ranking signals. (I will prove later why I think this is bullshit.) As of now, Pigeon has only rolled out to US results though it will most likely roll out to other countries and languages in the near future.

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My Humble Beginnings in SEO

I’m finally getting around to putting some actual content on the site. I’d like to start by giving some context into how I got into the SEO/Digital game.

My metaphorical long journey

College and the Move

We can trace it all the way back to right after my 4 year college stint ended , I was a 21 year old kid eager to get into the workforce, start my long career and prove to my parents I didn’t go to school simply to major in Crushing Beers. Being a marketing major, I figured I’d be starting out at the bottom of a company doing petty work for a while before earning my stripes and moving up the corporate ladder. It took me a couple months of sales jobs, low level marketing gigs, reflection, goal analyzing and thinking about my future before I decided I was going take the biggest risk of my life at the time – I was going to pack up all my shit and move from Chicago to Kansas City to live with my girlfriend. Ballsy.

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