Local SEO in 2015

Long are the days gone when with a quick(or big) SEO fix you can jump on the first page of Google. Local SEO is not what it used to be. There are lots of Google algorithms specifically designed against quick SEO tactics. No matter how big or small the SEO company Google doesn’t want their results manipulated.

SEO still works but it takes more time and experience. For a business to jump from page 3 of Google to page one it takes even more than one year. Yes, you read it right. Years.

Trust carries a lot of weight in local search. Accumulating trust points that give Google confidence the business is real, trusted and really located there takes time.

Local SEO is targeting the right keywords and business category, rankings monitoring, few high quality links and many local citations. This process cannot happen overnight otherwise Google will detect you are trying to manipulate rankings. Getting a single link or citation is not going to move the rankings significantly. There is hardly any single action these days that will make a difference given the complex local search algorithm we have today. BBB, Angie’s list, Yelp, Chamber of Commerce and industry association links boost trust that the business is real and it has a real physical location. The older the link or listing the more trust is gained.

A fake business listing won’t bother with a Business License, County Taxes, BBB listing, and would not even be approved. In local there are all kinds of scams, fake businesses, even companies that try to hijack competitor listings. There are also lots of businesses that try to set up fake listings in different cities just to try to rank.

Quick SEO results are not possible anymore. Google AdWords is the way to go if you’re after quick results.

Realistic SEO Expectations

Our experience with Search Engine Optimization has proved time and again that there is a very high return on investment for SEO. However, it is not a magic bullet and takes time to develop. The purpose of SEO is to reach to, or be found by clients on the internet more effectively and in greater numbers.

Business owners need to have realistic expectations otherwise they are talked into low-quality SEO campaigns with promises for fast returns using methods that haven’t been effective for several years. Promising business owners what they want to hear and failing to deliver is the norm today with SEO. Don’t respond to unsolicited emails and beware amazing promises. Don’t just take our word for it here what even Forbes recommends.

What you want in a SEO is competence not strong sales skills. That means you want them to know what they’re doing. Finding SEO competence isn’t easy, since the vast majority of small business owners are confused about SEO. Proper SEO for small business yields a steadier, more sustainable way to find new customers.

Always ask for previous examples and results. Don’t get impressed by a SEO salesman promising you a lot of traffic and new business. SEO is not the same product you can buy from any SEO company, SEO is proven knowledge and experience. Here are our SEO results.

It may take many months to start noticing results, and longer for major results. Google changes their algorithm often, giving more or less weight to different kinds of content, links and other signals used to determine rank.  We must anticipate and accommodate for these changes in order to continue growth.

SEO should increase the small business bottom line not waste resources on non-effective tactics.

SEO Still Works

The problem with SEO these days is that everyone thinks they’re an expert.

There is a classic problem when a small business owner wants to retain a professional SEO. Many look good on the outside and promise a lot, but how many are good and work well?

Today, many SEOs have a lot of ready to go solutions at their fingertips that bypass the need for knowledge and competence.

Instead of doing the work that real SEO involves, they promote easy SEO solutions:

  • Social media that promotes irelevant influence;
  • Content marketing platforms that promote content in classic just get it out-there promotional tactics;
  • SEO software that allows mass spamming with links – a practice penalized by Google;
  • Social media “marketing” automation that blasts messages on all social media platforms regardless of relevance;

And the sad part is, most small business owners are falling for this.

What you want in a SEO is competence not strong sales skills . That means you want them to know what they’re doing. Finding SEO competence isn’t easy, since the vast majority of small business owners are confused about SEO.

Proper SEO for small business yields a steadier, more sustainable way to find new customers. Being hit by Panda and Penguin Google updates is unfortunate and often means SEO incompetence and running after quick results. Fluctuations happen but long term organic search traffic should grow.

SEO should increase the small business bottom line not waste resources on non-effective tactics.

Small Business SEO Mistakes

Responding to SEO Solicitations

SEO GoogleAlthough we are a web design and SEO company, we receive many SEO solicitations. Their promises are deceptive or misleading.

Does this sound familiar?
“I thought you might like to know some of the reasons why you are not getting enough organic & social media traffic on your website.”

“Looking for more traffic to your business? We have a complete solution to getting your website ranked higher on Google and other search engines! And you will see results Fast!!”

Here is what Google says about SEO:

“Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue. You can risk damage to your site and reputation”

Hiring an Out of Area SEO Company

Search results are personalized. Factors like demographics, search history, browsing history affect your search results. People in different areas have different search results for the same search term and there is no way around that.

Not Respecting Google Webmasters Rules

Small Business SEO was never about tricking the search engines to rank a small business website higher. Most SEO solicitations are using techniques not approved by Google like Bulk Link Building, Spam Commenting, Keyword Stuffing.  SEO shortcuts worked well over the years but since Panda and Penguin algorithm updates they just don’t, in fact they get you penalized.

Not Checking Previous SEO Results

Don’t get impressed by a SEO salesman promising you a lot of traffic and new business. SEO is not the same product you can buy from any SEO company, SEO is proven knowledge and experience. Again, here is what Google says:

“Can you show me examples of your previous work and share some success stories?”

Not Checking Google Analytics

Keyword rankings are important but the number of website visits is extremely significant particularly when you are tracking SEO results. Many site owners will be surprised to find out that they don’t have much traffic from search engines even though their website looks great.


SEO Trends

SEO ProcessSEO is changing fast. Google Local Search, Google Plus, Google Authorship, AuthorRank and much more didn’t exist 2 years ago in search results, now search engine results pages are dominated by them. Bellow are some of the most important things that need to be taken care for good SEO results.

Google Local Search

Google Local Search or Google Places is becoming more integrated with Google organic results than ever. Verifying and optimizing the Google Places page is the key in having local listings placed on the first page of Google.

Link Building

Building links is a practice not approved by Google. Only quality links matter these days. Blog spamming does not help from the contrary, if WordPress and Akismet can detect spam so easily, how about Google who has so many more resources?

Website Design, Coding and Architecture

This is the most important thing regarding SEO. Google ranks websites based on their content and structure. Redesigning the website and using modern coding and optimization is the only way to be on the first page of search results for the long term.

Social Media

Google tries to push Google Plus so hard for small business owners that they started showing snippets from Google Plus profiles integrated in search results as seen on Alan Edmunds website. Search “Divorce Attorneys in San Diego” and the Google Plus snippet should appear besides the search result. Facebook and Twitter are important for small businesses but mostly do not matter for Google search results.

New Blog Posts

Blog post are useful as they can bring some good qualified traffic and also keep the website content fresh. Some keyword research needs to be done so the blog post is about what people are searching for, as seen on keepyoursecurityclearance.com.

Local Small Business SEO

Better Image offers Search Engine Optimization specifically designed for local small businesses. Our affordable and local SEO services will help a small business have better placement in search engine results and increased revenue generated from the web.

There are hundreds of businesses competing for a particular service in Raleigh-Durham area yet only 10 of them are on the first page of Google Search results. The rest of them fail at generating more business, which is the main purpose of a small business website.

When most clients are ready for a redesign or just SEO services they usually want to jump directly into one or many of these traffic generating initiatives because they think that focusing on increasing traffic will help their business problem.

Instead, one should also take in consideration if the website is ready to receive the additional traffic and convert the visitors into high quality leads and customers.

As often happens, those who don’t truly understand SEO and Internet marketing and what it takes to create a successful online presence, are more interested in a quick fix than they are in making sure that things are done efficiently. In fact, most small business websites fail to bring more visitors because the owner or the person in charge of company’s Internet presence, approached this entire process in a completely wrong way. Hiring a SEO company out of the area, is the biggest mistake a local small business can make.

Efficient SEO involves knowledgeable research and strategy into the client’s local presence, needs, industry, competition, business model, keywords and target audience. Where do you rank now, and what keywords is that for? There is no magic number or time frame. Efficient SEO takes time and work. Efficient SEO also continues to require work after you’re number one. We can help you build your list of keywords and teach you how to be on the first page of Google search engine results.

Why You Can’t Outsource SEO

97% of consumers search for local businesses online. When searching on Google, imagine someone searching for “car dealers“. It would likely be more satisfying to that user if Google shows car dealers websites that are close to their physical location.

Google uses several different methods to detect user location including locations in search term and location based on computer’s IP or GPS mobile devices location. This is 99% accurate. Google displays Pay Per Click advertisements and search results based on user location.

If a local small business owner in Raleigh chooses an Internet Marketing or SEO company located in a totally different area, they most likely won’t be able to see your website in search results as someone from Raleigh area does.

Following are two totally different search results for the same search query “car dealers”. First screenshot is from someone located in Raleigh, NC and the second screenshot is from someone located in Atlanta, GA.

Google Search Results in Raleigh, NC:

Local Search Results in Raleigh

Search Results in Atlanta, GA:

Local Search Results in Atlanta

As you can see, Google displays search results relevant to the user location. If there is such a big difference for two relatively close US cities, how can someone from outside the country properly optimize a local small business website?

To run an effective local Internet Marketing campaign, you need to see the search results that your target audience actually sees.

Web Design for Small Business

Local small business websites compete for placement in search engines results pages, and those websites developed and optimized with the best knowledge and experience will receive the benefits of increased traffic and visibility. This will place small business owners to a tremendous advantage over their competitors, potentially bringing them thousands of dollars in extra revenue each month.

Analytics Report

When it comes to small business web design and search engine optimization you have to be good enough to work fast enough to deliver a great website for a reasonable price. At the same time you can’t be wasting hours and hours making it perfect and getting lost in details, because this will reflect on the final development cost.

We mostly work for local small business owners who really care about the final product. There is no such thing as perfect when you are trying to meet the requirements and scope of the website. For those of us designing small business websites, we can’t have a perfectionist spending days playing with the latest HTML, Javascript and CSS trends and technologies, because that is coming out of the bottom line.

Do typical small business owners care more about the 1% of the visitors who use ten years old computers with JavaScript turned off or do they care more to bring in potential customers?

Developing a small business website is entirely different than developing a university website or a big online store. If we fail to properly scope the project, we will end up with a negative return on investment (ROI) for the small business owner and this is not acceptable.

Google New Local Search (Places)

Google search results have been separated from its local search with visitors having to actually type location and click different options to find a local business. Not anymore.

Google is actually combining local search with organic search results.

 Using a new algorithm, Google can now detect when users are trying to find local businesses. Search Engine results pages will actually display the location of nearby businesses that match the search query, along with business photos, reviews and relevant information. For small business websites this is a big opportunity.

Google will automatically choose local search results, rather than a general web search, if it thinks a search query is about a local business. Local search accounts for 20 percent of Google searches.

How the new Google search results benefit your local business?  Your Google Places page can help you rank in search engine results and drive more visitors to your website.  The Places Page (Google Local Listings Page) allows you to add relevant information about your business such as business descriptions, website, contact info, hours of operation, photos, reviews and more. 

The more optimized for search engines a website is, the higher a business will rank in the Google Local Search. Local businesses that have not claimed and optimized their places pages are at a big disadvantage in local search.  Any local business can easily take advantage of this opportunity.

Search Engine Optimization is evolving fast. Stay on top of the trend, use affordable SEO in Raleigh, NC.

Bad Web Design Happens

Recently, one of prospective clients contacted us and told us their new website isn’t working and needs to be optimized.

Businesswoman Clearly Unhappy

“I hired a web design company who promised to build me a great website. While it looked good, it cost me about $12,000. Well, I didn’t see the results I was looking for and my website didn’t bring any additional traffic or new customers.”

Why did this happen? Here are some of the most frequent mistakes that contribute to a website failure.

Website Not Optimized for Search Engines

Thinking about SEO as a totally different project is a big mistake. Basic Search Engine optimization should be at the heart of the website, with the pretty presentation built around it. Keyword research, search engine friendly navigation and structure, duplicate content, multiple domains, Google local listing, 301 redirects, semantic markup, HTML and CSS coding, unobtrusive scripting all do matter when designing an optimized website.

Not So Great User Experience

A website success always depends on its visitors. A surprising number of web designers ignore user interaction entirely and base their web design only on a design perspective. This typically results in inappropriate design or just decoration. Web designers are much more than pixel pushers. They have intimate knowledge about the Web and how users interact with it. They also understand user interfaces and design techniques, including grid systems, white space, color theory and much more.

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” – Steve Jobs, Apple

Website Performance Not Measured

You cannot value something you cannot measure. Fortunately, there are numerous metrics you can use to evaluate the impact of the website.

Google Analytics generates insightful charts and reports about the number of visitors, page views, content distribution, traffic sources, keyword report and much more. If you don’t have it installed, how do you know that something needs to be adjusted and improved?

To have a successful website you should know right from the start how to measure the performance of your website. Measuring your site’s success is crucial if you want it to make the biggest online impact. This is because by measuring how often people visit your website you know how well your site is doing online and how well it is appealing to its target audience.

Previous Work and Results Not Checked

Don’t believe everything you are told, but ask for examples and results! Are previous clients happy? Are their websites looking good and professional? Do they have any traffic?

“Can you show me examples of your previous work and share some success stories?”
- Google

Check your web design company portfolio and look for quality and the latest trends and technologies. Ask for adequate contact information, documentation, and explanations.