Editor’s Note: CitizenTekk publishes startups and experts. When we were introduced to Mark Collins, we thought nothing more could be said on the topic of SEO. But apparently, we were wrong. Here’s how to master Google’s recent changes with search ranking.
Don’t get left behind. Google’s shift from Google Places for Business to Google Plus Business pages is in full swing, as Google+ goes after Linked In and Facebook with one shot.
An estimated 80 million local businesses have the older Google Places for Business listing, that they will need to upgrade to a Google+ Business page to capitalize on the rapidly growing social media aspect that a Google+ profile now offers. (Basically, the existing Google Places for Business page automatically migrates into the Google Plus Local section of the Google+ user’s account profile, upon request. The Google+ Local page is now your local listing, in lieu of the old Google Places page).
Even though the Google Local page allows you to collect +1’s, you still need to create your Google+ business page so you can post content. Also, the business page offers more enhancements like a background profile picture instead of the default Google map, while offering a more glitzy look and feel a well.
It is common knowledge that Google has shifted it’s search algorithm to favor Google+ in local search. The primacy of Google+ is apparent when you combine it with the other web services owned by Google. So, another part of the formula is to use the Google-owned family of sites. You should create a YouTube video, a Blogger.com blog and upload pics to Panoramio with keyword tags and links back to your site. Then, add these as content posts in your Google+ page as well. Result? Your video or blog post will often rank on page one in local search, along with your website, if you follow the rest of the formula.
Content SEO vs SMB SEO
Even if you have a great content SEO campaign going for a national presence, there are advantages to establishing a good old fashioned local web presence. Here’s the gist of the recipe for getting to the top of Google search in your local area:
-Lock down your Google, Yahoo and Bing local business listings through their verification process. This is a commonly overlooked basic step, search engine submission to other sites like Ask.com and AOL are also recommended.
-Directories, directories, directories
Add your N.A.P. (name address profile) to as many local business directories as you have the time and energy to do. While backlinks are less relevant in regard to higher level content SEO, they are still a key to driving your site to Google page one search, locally.
Adding your site to Merchant Circle, YP.com, Yelp, CitySearch, HotFrog, Local.com to and to at least 50 of the hundreds of other local directories is recommended, and worth your time. You must be very careful that your N.A.P. is EXACTLY the same everywhere. For example, your phone number, street address, business name and URL must be matched character by character to be counted in Google’s algorithm. Misspelled or differently typed and spaced listings will not show up.
Finally, some of the larger, established directories are becoming content portals in their own right, so they also offer another venue to post, links articles and content as part of a global campaign.
Google +1 content
Create the basic social media profiles like Google+, Facebook, Linked In, Twitter and FourSquare with your N.A.P., then make sure you do posts regularly with a backlink to your site. (Using a free HootSuite account allows you to blast one post to up to 5 social media accounts). Also, an enhanced Google+ business page allows you to now collect +1’s, which has adds another indirect boost to search rank as +1’s are a way for Google+ plus users to share and recommend your content.
SEO for SMB (Small to Medium sized Business) is it’s own, often overlooked SEO category. Yet creating a dominant local web presence is an inexpensive, yet effective way to increase web traffic, contribute to your overall content strategy, and most important, it could connect you to national clients in your own backyard.
Mark Collins is President of www.OnWebLocal.com, and specializes in Local Web Presence and Google+ Local SEO Marketing for national firms, small to medium sized businesses and professionals. He enjoys writing web content, developing online media strategy and helping clients define their specific marketing niche and message.