Category Archives: Local SEO

Facebook’s Secret Weapon For Local Business

Facebook’s Secret Weapon For Local Business

Facebook has been established for some time now as a great platform to promote your local business as part of your local SEO marketing. Pages allow you to add plenty of relevant details so your customers can see how close you are, when you’re open for business and how to get in touch, among other things. Facebook generally likes to point out all its fancy features to you as you set up your page, and pops up with frequent messages to make sure you’re not missing anything.

This makes it rather strange that it’s keeping a significant recent development fairly quiet. With no announcement at all, Facebook Professional Services was launched a few months ago for desktop users only, although we expect a mobile version is in the works. A Facebook representative recently confirmed the features in “the early stages” of development, so it may well change soon before it becomes a major selling point.

It is effectively a local business directory with a basic built-in search engine which returns results in your local area when you’re looking for a particular service. Your search query is limited to a pre-defined list of business categories, which correspond to the categories you must select from when you set up a business page. When you choose a service to search for you’ll see a summary of each business in your area, plus snippets of reviews and other key information.

 

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An example of the results displayed when you search for a business type.

 

Interestingly, the way Facebook has chosen to rank different business in the results is highly personalised and takes multiple factors into account – even SEO within Facebook is getting complicated! Your average star rating from your reviews is a major factor, but it also looks at your personal connections and is more likely to show you places your friends have visited or reviewed. Although we can’t be sure, it’s safe to say your personal interests and any history of your own interaction with the page are taken into account too.

So what’s the big deal if this feature isn’t widely known about? Well, it serves as another indication that Facebook wants to assert itself as a major player for local business listings, taking on competitors such as Yell and Thomson Local. Once they figure out a way to streamline the delivery of this service across different devices, and coordinate it properly with their local map features, we anticipate Facebook business pages are going to become an even better way of getting yourself seen by new local customers.

Dealing With Negative Online Reviews

Dealing With Negative Online Reviews

For any business, even if you are not primarily focused on your online presence, online reviews matter. When people search for your business (or your target keywords, if you have an SEO campaign), your average Google+ rating and the number of reviews you have might show up on the first page of results. These people are going to make a judgement to compare you with your competitors, and if you have bad feedback that’s on display publicly, it’s likely to hurt your business.

Getting bad feedback online can be frustrating. Sometimes it will be as a result of a genuine problem that occurred with one of your real customers. It’s very hard to guarantee perfect service every time, and mistakes happen, so from time to time even the best businesses might have dissatisfied clients. If someone chooses to be vocal about their disappointment on your public social media pages such as Google+ or Facebook, or on review sites like Yell or Review Centre, you will want to keep a lid on it if you can.

However, it’s not about trying to censor your customers’ voices. In fact, most websites simply won’t let you do that. Instead, it’s important to get in touch with that person, reaching out to them and finding a solution that works for both parties. Whether this is public or private will depend on the context. Ideally, you should ensure people know the best way to get in touch with you directly so they don’t have to resort to public reviews in the first place!

What about unfair reviews that you don’t think are real? Sometimes customers might let anger get the better of them and exaggerate their stories, or worse still, deliberately lie to make your business look bad. In these cases the best course of action is also to get in touch with them, although this may prove difficult. Be wary of taking more serious actions, though, as they could have consequences. Depending on the situation there are several things you can try, but it’s better to get professional advice before jumping into an argument online. After all, the reputation of your business is at stake, and the way you respond to criticism publicly says a lot about you to other potential customers.

At 123 Ranking we offer a more detailed help guide specifically for helping you deal with negative online reviews. Our Rank 3 package is our most comprehensive SEO plan yet, and it includes this guide along with a range of others free of charge. To find out more about how we can help, simple get in touch with us now.

Content Marketing: The Ultimate SEO Tool

Content Marketing: The Ultimate SEO Tool

Content marketing is a vital factor in the success of any business website.  If you’re not thinking about it, the chances are you’re well behind where you could be.  You might think of blogging when we mention content marketing, but it’s much more than that!

Content marketing basically means communicating valuable information to your audience that isn’t really focused on selling your product or service, but empowers users and gives them something they value.  It can be thought of as indirect marketing, since the idea is that once your readers start to see you as a valuable source of information, they’ll be more likely to remain loyal and buy from you later.

With all aspects of your online presence, content marketing is integral.  As we say all the time to our clients, having great content is of course one of the best things you can do for SEO purposes. To help your website rank higher on search engines organically, you really want users to find engaging content that makes them stay on your site for longer and feel like they found what they were looking for, and search engines notice this behaviour.  If you think about it, the strategy you follow with the written content you use to promote your website should be consistent across social media, pay-per-click campaigns, emails, blogs, videos, PR and more… so content marketing really is key.

Your objective with content marketing is essentially to build a high quality relationship with your potential customers over time, so you can guide people towards those eventual purchase decisions without the need for hard selling techniques.  Be careful though, as it’s not all about manipulating your readers!  Considering the wealth of information available online, you need to stand out as a voice of authority in your industry and deliver high quality resources to help empower your customers and bring them back to you next time they need an expert.

Ultimately when planning our content, we need to find a balance between two main factors: what do we need, and what does our audience need?

Starting with our audience, we need to make sure we know exactly who they are.  If we have a target market for our business (which we probably should have established by now!), what do they want to find when they visit our website?  Do you know what they already think of your brand or your products?  Does the size of your potential market warrant spending money on paid advertising, or getting professional help with SEO, social media and more?  If you can answer these questions, you have a good starting point.

We also need to balance this with what we want to eventually get back from our audience. What’s the main objective of your content marketing strategy?  Are you building awareness of your brand, promoting a new service, converting leads from a campaign, or something else?  Thinking about how your business model works, how can you make sure the information you offer people encourages them to convert?

Once you’ve worked on formulating an initial strategy, getting some quality content written should be straightforward, especially when you’re writing as an expert in your own field.  Next it’s vital to think about how you’re going to share and promote your content to reach its intended audience.  Beyond SEO and paid advertising, harnessing the power of social media is important as it’s perfectly suited to sharing content and increasing your reach naturally.  If you can offer your followers (and the rest of the online community) something of value, pushing it on the right channels combined with real social engagement should be enough to start growing your audience.

For more help with content marketing, from your initial strategy to maximising your potential reach, we recommend you simply get in touch with our team at 123 Ranking.  As experienced SEO experts we’ve learned to focus on the bigger picture, helping our clients perfect every aspect of their online presence and put themselves in the best possible position to grow their businesses.  If you want to be in that same position, simply ask us here about how we can help you get there.

Google is to Give Secure Sites a Ranking Boost

Google is to Give Secure Sites a Ranking Boost

Back in March 2014, Matt Cutts Head of Google’s Webspam team said he would like for HTTPS and SLL certificates to be a ranking signal. Five months later, the world’s most popular search engine Google has announced that it’s going to give secure SSL sites using HTTPS encryption higher rankings on Internet searches.

Google hopes that this will encourage website developers to utilise the technology that protects websites against middle man attacks and hackers breaking into their websites and stealing users’ personal information, such name, address, contact details and billing information. This announcements comes as one of the most significant steps Google has taken to making sure the World Wide Web is more secure.

Encrypted data transmitted over the Internet adds a barrier between Web users and anyone who wants to potentially steal their information – this is particularly useful for e-commerce websites that continuously take payments from customers.

Prior to the announcement organisations have seen this as additional burden because of cost concerns and fears of slowing down their website response time – which is also has a detrimental effect of search engine rankings. But now because of the high-speed encryption technologies available, it means that the cost and speed no longer need to be an issue. Encryption will be a crucial factor in determining how a website is ranked.

Do I need a SSL Certificate?

Yes! Typically SSL Certificates have only been used on websites checkout pages and not on product and content pages. In light of Google’s new announcement it’s essential that website owners ensure their whole domain name, including all their files and URLs go over HTTPS. Here at Free Virtual Servers we’re offering online banking standard (256bit) SSL certificates from as little as £9.99 a year. An SSL certificate will not only benefit your search engine rankings but it’ll give your customers peace of mind as they’ll know their confidential information is safe on your website.

If you want to rank favourably on Google it’s in your best interest to ensure your web pages are encrypted, or this could be detrimental to your search engine rankings.

For more information about this service, check out our website: https://www.freevirtualservers.com/cheap-ssl-certificates

How to find your website ranking after Google Venice

In February 2012, Google announced the “Venice” update as part of 40 changes to improve search quality, I don’t expect you to look through all 40 changes so these are 2 important ones we are going to talk about in this post:

Improvements to ranking for local search results. [launch codename “Venice”] This improvement improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.

Improved local results. We launched a new system to find results from a user’s city more reliably. Now we’re better able to detect when both queries and documents are local to the user.

Basically, Google wants to Continue Reading