All posts tagged seo

chicago local seo map

Remember the good ol’ days of easy rankings? It seemed like all a Chicago business owner needed to do in order to rank well on Google was have a website and a Google Plus page. Unfortunately for the end-user, those easy rankings usually served up irrelevant results and an abundance of spam sites. As competition grew and algorithms got smarter, it became more and more difficult for small and medium sized local businesses to rank well on Google. Enter local SEO. So what is local SEO, and why do Chicago businesses need it?

New Google Algorithm Updates Impact Local Search

In 2015, Google made a huge, and rather shocking, update to their Local Maps. Imagine that you’re a pizza parlor in Chicago. Historically, Google would show seven results on Local Maps with links to each business’s Google Plus page. If you were only one of, say, 3 pizza parlors in that Chicago neighborhood, Google might also show a couple of Chicago hot dog restaurants and perhaps an Italian restaurant to round out all seven positions. Even businesses that never did any local SEO were able to rank on the local listings.

However, with the update, Google whittled the local map section down to only three results. The link to Google Plus was gone, as well as the business’ phone number. With only 3 positions available on the local listings, the competition got fierce.

local seo snack pack map

How Possum Changed Local Search Results

Another big change to search came a year later in 2016 with the roll-out of Possum. This update was intended to provide a level playing field for all local businesses listed in the Local Search results. Although there are several main factors, here are our 3 key takeaways that affect local business the most:

  1. The Physical Location of the User: Considering the increasing number of users on mobile devices, this is a significant update. With Google now factoring in the proximity of the user more prominently than ever, users are going to get different results based on where they are physically located. For example, if a user is in the Loop searching for Chicago pizza parlors, they will get different results than the user in Lincoln Park.

This graph shows the increase of mobile over desktop queries, and projections for 2018 and 2019:

mobile impact on local seo


  1. Flexibility on “Location” to City Limits: Previously, businesses located outside the physical limits of a city had a very difficult time ranking for that city. In response, websites started creating micro-site landing pages to compensate. Fortunately, Google now allows companies that are outside the city limits but conduct business in the nearby or ‘neighboring’ city to be listed in the snack pack search result. For example, a pizza parlor in Evanston, located on the cusp of Chicago, would now be able to rank for ‘pizza parlor Chicago.’

  2. Location of Business: Google applied a filter to the addresses of businesses. This eliminated businesses from having more than one listing for the same location. For example Chicago lawyers in the same law firm, or a dentist with multiple locations.

So…What is Local SEO?

Local SEO, very simply, is the process of making a website more visible on the Search Engine Results Page (like Google). Through the optimization of your website, local SEO targets users who are actively searching for your product or service. This process culminates in driving more quality traffic to your website. Keep in mind that this is an on-going process. This is especially true in light of the number of Google Algorithm signals that exist, as well as the constant algorithm updates.

Why Do I Need It?

Search engines like Google have over 200 signals they take into consideration when ranking web pages. A website must be optimized, through on-page and off-page strategies, in order to gain the value these signals send to your site.

In addition, competition among local businesses only continues to increase. And with only three positions in the “snack pack” maps area, Chicago business owners need to stay on top of their local SEO strategy. Moreover, local businesses have to compete with large websites in the organic listings. Previously, it was relatively inconsequential if you didn’t rank well in the local listings but had a top presence in the organic listings. However, with sites like Yelp or Wikipedia, your organic listing that used to be #1 might now get pushed down to the 3rd or 4th position.

Therefore, Chicago local business owners must find smaller target areas in order to get more visibility and the subsequent rankings. Optimizing for local search is one of the most cost-effective marketing methods to achieve this.

Can I do Local SEO Myself?

Technically, yes. Fortunately, many of the tried and true white hat SEO techniques are still viable options for optimizing websites. While there are a lot of DIY options available, it’s extremely tedious and time-consuming for the business owner. Furthermore, unless you are experienced in local SEO tactics and keep apprised of Google’s ubiquitous updates, it can be difficult to know where to start. Although Google offers many free tools such as Search Console and Analytics, these tools are challenging for a novice to understand.

The most important thing a local business owner can do is to accurately fill out your Google My Business profile, include your Name/Address/Phone Number (NAP) on the pages of your website, build consistent citations on other websites, and then build links with good anchor text. Beyond that, you should consult an SEO agency such as Evolving Interactive for more help strengthening your site’s signals.

If your business is struggling to adjust to Google’s newest update, reach out to our SEO team. As always if you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at

You know what will be the biggest SEO trend in 2014?


At this point, it’s unavoidable. If you want your site to rank well, you’ll need integrity.

Recent changes to Google’s algorithm like Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird have put a premium on providing useful content to users in honest ways. You can no longer sneak a useless site to the top of the SERPs with keyword stuffing and link schemes. Gone are the days of black-hat SEO, and it’s about time.

Remember how obnoxious it was to see a site rank higher than yours because someone used black-hat techniques? Ever get annoyed when someone disparaged the SEO industry as a whole because of a few bad apples? Thanks to the recent algorithm changes, there are new restrictions to prevent shady tactics.

Some view the restrictions negatively. The many changes have made some of the easy (black-hat) techniques not only ineffectual but damaging to SERP rankings. But there’s a positive way to look at it. With shady tactics now proving harmful to search rankings, there is no reason to spend your time and energy employing them. And having that extra time and energy is good, because ranking higher in SERPs now requires more work and thoughtfulness than ever before.

As search engines get better at delivering what customers want, websites will have to get better at providing the valuable content that gets delivered. This means you can’t get away with keyword stuffing or link schemes to artificially boost your site’s rankings. Now that cheap tricks won’t help rankings, the true cream will rise to the top. And if you want to be at the top, you need to provide valuable content that customers want. It’s that simple.

There are no more tricks, and for that we should be grateful. With such frivolous distractions eliminated by Google’s updates, we can now focus on the hard work of providing quality content to our customers.

Having reflected on and reacted to the major industry updates of the past years, let’s look forward to 2014: when hard work and integrity will yield superior results.

Voice search is changing the way that people search on the internet, and thus changing the game for SEO. Before technologies like Siri and voice command, people would search by entering specific keywords or keyword phrases into a search engine. Now, because of voice search, there is a shift from queries focused on precise keywords to a more relaxed and conversational language.

For example, if you are searching for a hair salon via voice command you might say “Where can I find a good hair salon?

Content is king right now. While there is still something to be said for link building (only the strong survive), expanding the content to your website, and making sure that content is worthwhile, is the way to go. In truth, your SEO efforts should have a blend of various strategies. Everything in moderation. But no doubt that adding great content that your users will care about on regular basis will only benefit your website’s value.

The DO’s in creating excellent content

Start building up your website –

  • Go through all of the content on your website and make sure that it lines up with the goals and purpose of why you created your website
  • Create a blog! This is very important in order to receive more backlinks, more indexed pages and in the end more traffic. Make sure to update your blog frequently.
  • Create a team or assign someone to keep the blog up-to-date. Have this team look over not only your blog but all of the content on your website
  • Use different content models such as comics, newsletters, infographics, webinar, open discussions, podcasts throughout your website
  • Include social media buttons at the end of your articles to make it easier for your readers to repost your content. Use only your 3 main social media platforms as buttons; having any more can be overwhelming to the reader.
  • Check your meta description tags and make sure they are compelling for people that are clicking through the SERPs

The DONT’s in creating content

  • Do not post repeated, meaningless, duplicate and boring content. Readers will not be interested and your articles will not be shared.
  • Make sure that your content relates to the overall purpose of your website

Create content that stands out                

  • Have a clear purpose in mind when writing content – Ask yourself: who is your audience, what are they looking for by reading your content, how can you assist your audience, and what your business is looking to get out of the content that you are writing
  • Create a strategy for the content that you display. Define the general theme or direction that you want your content to go in.
  • Decide how you wish to create, distribute, and maintain your content over time.
  • Create a performance metric to measure the success of your content marketing

Main nuggets of wisdom –

  • The main goals in content marketing is to build trust with your audience and create a lasting following with them
  • Think of your audience
  • Educate and help your readers with your content


Gears have shifted within the last year, and the name of the SEO game is content. What are all of the ways we can generate useful or interesting content for potential customers, followers, friends, etc. Today in our Effective SEO update, we talk about Pinterest. Specifically, we talk about the value of adding video to your Pinterest board and how creating a diverse and engaging board can lead to more interactions with the people following you.

Many people that use Pinterest don’t even know that they can pin videos to their boards and believe it or not videos can be one of the most effective way to get other Pinterest users to see and share your content. Most of the people that browse on Pinterest do so while doing other things. Social media users are generally considered passive users for that reason, and it takes a lot to keep their attention. Videos are an excellent way to do this. By creating video pinboards, you’re more likely to hold a user’s attention for more than just a minute or two. Once a user likes your content and spends more than a few minutes with it, they’ll be more likely to click through to your site or share your content with other like-minded individuals.

Pinning Videos to Existing Boards

If you’re already using Pinterest and have created boards that you add to on a regular basis, consider adding a video the next time you want to add content to a board. Videos can attract people that already have an interest in your content or a specific board to come back and look at your content again. In some cases, you may find that people who have already commented on your boards or shared them will do so again if you add video content.

Picking Video Content to Pin to Existing Boards

While the video content you add doesn’t have to be yours, it should of course be related to the board that you’re pinning it on however, the video content you add to an existing pinboard really doesn’t have to have a ton of value. That means that if you have a pinboard about “How to take care of Dachshund’s