All posts tagged Chicago SEO

What Does Pigeon Mean For Your Local Business?

Over two weeks ago, Google released a local algorithm update that industry experts are calling Pigeon. Pigeon aims at improving local search results for users by making the results more relevant and accurate. The new Pigeon update has features including spelling correction capabilities, Google’s knowledge graph, and detecting search synonyms. As a result of the update, Google is placing local directories higher in the search results than small businesses. While this is benefiting the big players of local directories like Yelp and TripAdvisor, it is hurting small businesses rankings that do not carry the same amount of SEO strength. In some cases, the entire first page is filled with local directories, for terms like “Chicago pizza” or “Miami hotels.” In a few search queries, small business sites do not show up in the results until as far as the third page.

Google’s main goal for the algorithm update is to improve the local search experience for users, and to make results appear more organic than they have in the past. To do this, Google has nearly eliminated the presence of local seven packs for many search results. The decrease has hurt many small businesses that only ranked in the local pack and are no longer being featured on the first page of the search results.

So what can you do to continue getting business even when your site isn’t ranking? First, you can consider running a PPC campaign to boost your chances of being seen on the search results page. Since Pigeon seems to favor local directories, make sure your business is listed correctly on the leading local directories, as well as directories specific to your niche. Although Google seems to no longer include local packs on SERPs, they are still using the local carousel that appears at the top of the results page for some search queries. To utilize the carousel, make sure your business has high quality Google+ photos, and encourage customers to review your business.

Google+ pages will also play a large role when ranking in local search results. When creating your Google+ page make sure your business is listed in the most appropriate categories to enhance the chances of appearing in the search results when that category is searched. It has been noted that having the same area code in your business telephone number that is associated with your business location can improve your rankings. Also having several reviews of your business can influence your local search rankings, so encourage customers to leave reviews whenever possible.

Overall, the update is trying to enhance local results for users. Google wants to make sure only the best and most relevant pages are being shown, and that the results appear as organic as possible (hence the drastic decline in the frequency of local packs), so the best way to boost your business is to make it exceptional! White hat SEO tactics are still being rewarded by Google, so make sure your website is optimized for your industry and location. Add geo modifiers to title tags, include keywords in your business title, and implement other SEO best practices.

How is your business adjusting to Google’s newest update? Reach out to our SEO team with your stories and your questions.

Link Earning in 2014

Earning links to help your website rise in the search engine rankings now involves different strategies than it did in previous years. Transparent link building plans have fallen out of fashion as Google’s backlink guidelines have evolved and become more defined. Rather than simply buying or exchanging links as part of an SEO campaign, companies need to create content that organically encourage other sites with good Page Rank to link to their webpage. While brazen SEO link building tactics are no longer helpful, there are still plenty of good ideas to consider for an effective optimization plan.

Here are a few of my favorite ideas to help build links from a recently updated Backlinko post.


Audio Sharing Sites

These sites readily accept audio files, whether it’s music or a spoken word piece. Create a great piece of audio content and the benefit is twofold:
1.      You’ll get a follow link to your webpage on the audio sharing site.
2.      You can get listeners to enjoy and share your piece, which may inspire further people to link to your website.

There are a lot of free audio sharing sites, so you can use this idea even if you have a limited SEO budget.

Scoop It
Scoop It allows users to personally curate web content onto their own Scoop It page.
You can suggest content for someone to post by using the “Suggest” feature. If they like your content, they’ll post it and you’ll be linked in the post.
You may need to sign up for a paid Scoop It account to employ this technique.

Website Feedback Sites
Website feedback sites (like Concept Feedbackor Criticue) are another way to get a link. Submit your website to be critiqued and it yields a follow link. Many of these sites involve a fee as you are given valuable feedback on your website by their staff.

Blog Aggregators
Submit your site to be included on a blog aggregator like Technorati or Alltop and if it’s approved you’ll have a follow link to your site.

.Edu Sites
A lot of universities have resource pages for their students. If your company could be useful to university students or faculty, reach out to the webmaster to see if you can be added to the list of resources.

News Sites
You might be able to get a great link from an authority news site by working with HARO. HARO (Help a Reporter Out) connects reporters with relevant sources, and if you’re able to provide useful information to a reporter, you and your website could be linked in an article.
There are both free and paid options when signing up to be a HARO source.

Sponsorship / Charitable Contribution
If you have a little more money for your SEO campaign, consider earning a link through a sponsorship or charitable contribution. Do you sponsor a local business, team or organization? They probably list their sponsors and contributors online, perhaps with a dedicated page that includes a helpful link.

These methods of earning backlinks from high ranking authority pages are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more ways to earn links if you get creative and try new ideas. Beyond that, you can also consult an SEO agency such as Evolving Interactive for more help strengthening your site’s signals.

Google has been making (its own) news over the past two weeks, but it’s all been good news. Google is calling more attention to the efforts it has put in to streamlining the local search experience from the business owner perspective. While Google has always been the leader of local search, it has been no secret that many in the SEO industry, as well as business owners, have had more than their share of frustrations trying to optimize and manage their local profiles. Now, it would seem those times are a-changin’.

First Google announced that it was introducing a new support feature for its Google Places page. For place page owners and operators, this new help system provides a walk-through of possible errors that could be wrong with your listing. The checklist will help owners troubleshoot. For the more experienced local optimization types out there, there will also be the ability to send a note to a Google Analyst who will respond to the issue. Other search engines like Bing and Yahoo have had service support in place already; though neither have the volume of searches that Google sees.

Next, Google unveiled another new feature that will pre-emptively help Place page users. Google will now send an email that will notify of changes being made to the listing by outside sources. Google has always used valuable data providers like Yelp or Insider Pages to gather information about a business, as well as feedback or changes provided by any Google user on the local pages themselves. Now, when impending changes will alter a listing, a business owner will receive an email explaining the impending changes. Google says this is to keep business owners from having to log in to places every time there is an update, in an effort to keep the most recent and relevant information at the pages forefront. Business owners will still have the opportunity to log-in and manually override these changes with the edit option.

These changes come at the end of a long summer of Google Places in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. As Google tried to promote a new feature regarding businesses open or closed statuses, the story that actually got called into question was how easy it was to report a listing closed. With no support at the time, business owners would have to check in often with their listing to learn if a disgruntled or misinformed customer or competitor took it upon themselves to close their business (on the Places page). After a stunt by a local expert, Google addressed the flaws. But with these new support systems in place, these flaws should be much fewer.

With all of the changes happening to the local world lately, Google may be protecting its position as the leader with these support features. Google has never ignored its users; it simply just doesn’t have the manpower to handle every request that is asked of local support. The real hard pill to swallow was that it seemed as though it was ignoring users helpless against never ending “pending review

I guess it’s a good thing for the industry that the letters S-E-O are seeing an influx in news articles, especially in heavy hitters like the New York Times. In the last few months, I can remember reading several articles about the dark side of our otherwise under-the-radar industry. There was the article about the terribly negative reviews benefiting a sunglasses salesman / customer service pariah. Then there are the articles about link schemes that put the big businesses at the top of every search result, until they got caught.

I guess it’s a better thing that Google also reads these articles, because that seems to be the only time white hat SEO’s see results they’ve been clamoring for.  The most recent article was again posted by The Times, and brought to light Google’s shortcomings in their local search section, a section Google has been actually been placing more value on in recent months. In an effort to keep listings as up to date as possible, Google allows searchers to request that a business’ status be updated to “reported to be closed

We want to try and put more of the “Interactive