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Archive for the ‘Search Engine Marketing News’ Category

Google – Local Plus

Yesterday, Google made a pretty big change to their local business pages. That is to say, they removed them. As of this morning, all of the local pages are in transition to a new page hosted by the Google + platform. Google has several reasons for making the change, which they explain will create a simpler experience for customers. This simpler experience includes a more proficient rating system, using ratings from Zagat when applicable. Google says it will also make it easier for searchers to leave reviews and recommend businesses to the friends in their circles while logged in to their Google Plus account.

The transition seems to be fairly smooth in terms of bringing over content, though for now it is still recommended that business owners manage their listing through the Places for Business. Right now, the changes have created new plus pages for the business that you can navigate to through the maps listing. For businesses that already have created and manage a local Google Plus page, Google’s instructions is to “hold tight” for updates on how to link the two pages together.

The change will not make a huge difference to customers / searchers in terms of their searching habits. If anything, the move to this new platform should make finding the right places easier, offering more insight on recommendations and reviews, as well as personal “plusses” from those in their circles (if they are signed into their Google account). For business owners, it will require more effort. Whereas before it was enough for owners to claim, optimize, and manage their places page; Google Plus has plenty of bells and whistles to enhance listings. It will be to the owner’s benefit to add content and find ways to get the page out there. In addition, this Local Plus page will count as an indexed page, meaning it will show up as a search result.

Stay tuned to the Evolving Interactive blog for more information on the transition to Google Plus Local, including optimization tips and important notes.

In the meantime, here are some resources to help you better understand the transition.

Search Engine Land

Blumenthal’s Blog

Google and Your Business

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3 Ways to Boost Your Facebook Followers Overnight

Today on the Evolving Interactive SEO Blog, we feature a guest post about how to optimize your Facebook profile in a few easy steps. Social media management is a key element to optimizing your business for search engines, a point our guest blogger points out.

Whether you’re running a business or you’re trying to promote yourself, you need to use social networks like Facebook to reach new audiences. Here are a few tips for quickly gaining new followers on Facebook.

1. Engage your followers

Don’t be afraid to ask your readers questions or to offer prizes and contests through your Facebook page. When you make an attempt to communicate with your page’s fans, you bring a lot of positive attention to your page and increase your chances of a viral post.

When you engage your followers, make your posts short and sweet. Try to hook your audience’s attention. If you’re having a lot of trouble getting followers, you might even offer a prize to viewers who share your Facebook page with their friends.

2. Don’t self-promote too frequently

Once you have visitors coming in from shared posts, ads and links, you need to make sure that the first thing that visitors see is a page that offers some value to them. If all of your posts promote your business, band or self, you won’t win too many new followers.

Vary your posts and try to give your visitors a reason to come back. Post interesting links and invite discussion in the comments of each post. You’ll stand a much better chance of getting a viral post that can drive more attention to your page. Remember to check your Facebook page’s Insights to see whether visitors are responding well to a specific type of post.

3. Optimize your page

One of the easiest ways to get quick traffic is to make sure that your page looks impressive. Pay a professional graphic design company to make appropriately sized images for your page. Use an optimized URL by visiting the settings of your Facebook page and make sure that the new URL is easy for your visitors to remember. Delete boring or irrelevant posts and make sure that your page looks professional.

When you have a good Facebook page, you can add your URL to your email signature, put it on business cards and promote it directly, but wait to take this step until you’ve optimized every element. Eventually, growing your base of Facebook followers will be as easy as posting regular updates and including your URL wherever you can, but first you need to understand your audience to make the type of page that people follow regularly.

Guest post courtesy of Shai Atanelov, the Client Services Director for New Edge Design, a web design company in New York.

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Google Plus – How it Effects Your Search World

Last week, Google announced that its new Social Network platform, Google Plus, will now effect search results.  The buzz spread like wildfire across the SEO industry. How much of a game changer will this be? Will search engine optimization still matter if search results are now personalized instead of taking the most relevant and trustworthy sites and ranking them accordingly?

It’s no secret that Google’s main goal for the past year has been integrating their new budding social network with their search results. Anyone logged into their Google account with a Google Plus profile will see a different set of results than a searcher not logged in. Google Plus users will have the option of personal or worldwide results. There is an icon at the top right of the SERP that shows a silhouette of a person or a globe, and the Plus user can toggle between the two sets of results.

Clicking on the person icon, the top results for a search will be based on recommendations, or Plus 1’s, that you and the people in your circles have made, or info that others have shared with you. Results with reviews and pluses will have higher ranking then those without. By switching over to the globe, you will see the natural results without these social signals affecting them as directly.

Google has used social signals as a part of their algorithm for years, with personalized results getting a boost.  Twitter follows, Facebook likes and shares, and Yelp reviews have factored in to results; companies have used this buzz to crawl up the rankings. Facebook and Twitter have criticized this change, citing that Google will give preferential treatment to its own social signals, a claim Google has denied.

Other features to Google Plus, like the fact that users must opt-out of the personal search and not opt-in, have led to concerns among users and SEO’s. However, it is easy enough to switch the results back to the global, impersonalized results. There is even a way to permanently remove the personalized results in the search settings. Concerns about privacy are also prevalent, as anyone with access to private information can share it publicly. It is ultimately up to the user who they share info with, but the receiver can post it at their whim, so know your circles. As with anything on the internet, it’s a good rule of thumb that if you wouldn’t want your content on the web, don’t upload it to begin with.

As Google Plus fixes the issues and bugs that are inevitable as it gains in popularity, it will be important to make the most of its features. As the social signals for sites that have “Plus 1’s” will affect their rankings, it will be essential to have your customers, friends, and followers take the time to “Plus 1” your website. While there are already business profiles in Google Plus, expect them to take an even bigger role in the coming year. Add your business and website to the Google Plus universe, and interact with as many people as you can. While you will undoubtedly hear a fair amount of back and forth criticism as this new platform gains traction, the fact is this is a product of Google, the search engine that typically dwarfs all competition. Even if it is never as popular as Facebook or Twitter, it will have an impact on your rankings, so you’ll want to get on board.

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Set Your SEO Goals in the New Year

It is cliché, sure, but we’re about to start a new year, and there really is no easier time to set some new SEO goals for your website. You have 12 months and 4 quarters in front of you to track growth and get into a groove of building your business online. Here are a few tips Evolving Interactive recommends for staying ahead of the search engine marketing game in 2012.

1. Keep up with changes – One of the most valuable tools for me this year has been subscribing and checking in daily with Google’s Small Business blog. In 2011, we’ve had the Panda update, the launch of Google +, a push to develop local businesses, and much more. Subscribe and check in daily to learn about the latest changes that Google is making to (hopefully) make life easier on small businesses.

2. Monthly Brainstorming – Make SEO a priority. Obviously, it’s important. As you look at monthly numbers and reports, think about where you want to improve, and set a few goals in place to get you there (or on the right track) by the start of next month. For example, if you’re seeing growth with a few keywords but are stagnant with others, focus your strategies on some new keywords. It’s going to be more valuable if you’re on top for a wide range of terms. Expand the conversation to include others on your team. Maybe some unconventional ideas will be the shot in the arm you need.

3. Monitor your growth – Think of your most important keyword terms. When you type them into a search engine search bar, what do you see on the results? Are you on the first page? Do some research to figure out how you’re ranking at the start of the new year. There are several tools out there that can help you do this. It’s a good idea to check in with the rankings every month or so to see if you are improving or not. A steady drop in rankings may mean your website has other problems, like broken links or missing pages. Of course, moving up means you’re doing something correctly. Part of the initial consultation we offer at Evolving Interactive is a ranking report for the keywords you pick and we recommend.  If you’d like to know more about SEO rankings and how it affects your business, contact us for a free consultation to get you started in 2012.

And since we’re already on the subject of the new year, all of us at Evolving Interactive want to thank you for keeping up with us at the Evolving Interactive Blog this year. We appreciate your guest blog posts, your comments, and your interest. We look forward to writing for (and with) you in 2012. Happy New Year!

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SEO You Should Know – The Golden Rule

We are almost at the two year anniversary of our SEO Blog on the Evolving Interactive website. In the search marketing industry, a lot can change in a period of weeks, let alone two whole years. (Check back with us on January 14 2012 for a special blog post.) However, even in this ever changing industry, there is a golden rule that everyone, SEO’s and small businesses alike, should follow. Optimize your website for your customers first, and the search engines second.

In the early days of search, the black hat tactics that made a website look juicy to a search engine seem archaic and obvious now. Keyword stuffing, putting colored keywords on a same color background, spamming comment boards (this still happens, sadly and comically); and the list goes on. All of these tactics were used to help boost the strength of a website that really had nothing to offer to people / potential customers once they got to the site. As search engines caught on to these “strategies”, SEO’s on both sides of the white/black hat debate made more conscious efforts to make customer websites user friendly. It’s no good for your business to have people stopping by, getting frustrated or confused, and never becoming a customer.

So as tempting as it is to over optimize your site for Google’s spiders, the rule of thumb is to put yourself in your customer’s mindset when optimizing your site. Think, “What makes me stay on the site?” Here are a few quick tips to make the searchers and the search engines happy.

Homepage Content – This is the most important place on your website to have great content, including your hot keywords, major products / services, and contact information (especially name, address, and phone number). New clients with an idea about SEO have asked me to re-write content using a ton of keywords, the full list of services and service areas, etc. The basic idea is correct, but keep in mind the average online attention span. You want to grab new users with a quick description about your business and services, something that makes them want to look at other parts of your site for more specific information (like service areas and products). If you write this content with a few of your star keywords, it will also entice search engines.

Meta Description Tags – This is a short description written into the HTML of your page, not seen by the searcher. An early black hat tactic was to stuff this area with as many keywords as could fit. Like the homepage content, it is important to have this be a well-written, concise description about your overall business. Keep in mind, you can (and should) have a unique description on each page. While search engine bots will crawl this description for relevant keywords, there is a more important function that applies to the searcher. Sometimes, on the results page, a snippet of your meta description tag will appear underneath the link to your page. If this section is filled out with all keywords, the site can appear spammy. On the other side, if there is no information in the tag, the search engine may pull content from the landing page. Since you have the chance to control the content shown, make it a quick, enticing sales pitch to attract searchers to your site. (Note: Keep it under 165 characters)

Layout/Design – Users can’t help but be attracted to a clean, easy to use website, with well-placed content, photos, and easy to find links to the rest of the site. Think of the difference between Myspace at its worst versus Facebook at its always. Myspace had space for flashing photos, links scattered across the page, and a slow loading speed, to name just a few of their critical mistakes. Facebook came along with a simple color scheme, a more user friendly navigation, and no trouble loading. Think of this when planning the layout for your website update, or your new site. Clean and cool will keep the visitors you get, instead of scaring them off.

The end goal of all SEO is to attract more customers and increase business growth. Granted, attracting the search engines will help to attract the potential customers. But you want them to like your website when they find you.
For more information on search engine optimization or SEO consultation, contact moc.evitcaretnignivlovenull@ofni or call 312-454-4550.

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