It’s worth questioning whether manual search engine submission is still worth doing. Here’s some information that calls into question the need to manually submit your site to Google and Bing:
“You don’t need to submit your website to search engines because search engines have evolved beyond the point of needing to be directly notified when a new website, or page on a website, is created.”“Since 2001, not only has search engine submission not been required, but has become virtually useless.”
Onsite optimization makes a big difference to your SEO because search engines crawl your site and glean keyword information directly from it. If keyword research is step 1 in a local SEO campaign, onsite optimization is step 2.
Once you know what keywords to target, you can evaluate your website to see if they are included in strategic places in your website’s HTML.
Sometimes this means re-vamping your existing web pages and sometimes this means changing your website structure by creating new pages on your site to target specific keywords.
Your website is one of the few places on the web where you have absolute control over your content online, so we want to take advantage on your home turf!
Sometimes in our periodic frustration with Google (over say, how needlessly difficult it is to properly link Google My Business to Google+ to our YouTube channel), we forget what incredible services they actually provide to users free of charge. Those of us old enough to remember know that it didn’t used to be possible to just search for answers to basic questions and immediately receive accurate and helpful answers. Now, for virtually any informational question you have, the answer is there at your fingertips or even voice search.
From the business owner’s perspective, I would put Google Analytics in this category of incredible stuff that’s now just free. By placing a short snippet of code on your site, you are able to see how many people come to your website, how they found you (from SEO or SEM), and what they did once they arrived. Speaking again in pre-Google terms, this would be a costly enterprise software suite, not a free service, which it now is.
Now that we have the proper gratefulness for “GA” just in time for Thanksgiving, let’s talk about what metrics a business owner should focus on in the busy and complicated-looking interface.
Most business owners would generally avoid setting up shop to sell things people don’t want, yet they regularly plop content and pages on their website with hardly a thought for what their customers want. Keyword research should be your roadmap; let the search data guide how you create your website, from your regular pages or your blog posts.
We are constantly amazed at the animosity Yelp inspires among business owners we talk to. They frequently bring it up to us unprompted or fly into a mini-rage when we mention the “Y” word. Terms like “shakedown,” “scam” and “the devil” arise commonly enough that the company might want to take notice. (From the conversations we’ve had with Yelp, they don’t plan on changing anything.)
Once the curses have mostly passed, it’s then our unfortunate job as a Madison SEO company to tell businesses they should capitalize on Yelp anyway, however bad the blood. This doesn’t always go over well, and we’ve actually been told this is a non-starter: that the business has been burned so badly they don’t even want to deal with Yelp.
So what’s going on that business owners resent this top online business directory that is almost a search engine in its own right?
Madison-area business owners often ask us what SEO entails. Contrary to common belief, good SEO doesn’t consist of “manipulating” Google’s algorithm. To the contrary, ranking on the first page for your services is more a matter of following online marketing best practices and adhering to search engine guidelines.
To rank well, you need:
Easy, right? Well, not exactly, but it at least helps to know what we’re up against when we want to be in the “modern phonebook” on page 1 of Google and Bing. The following describes how we break this all down in our recommended 6-month SEO projects.
Five is the magic number when it comes to reviews on your Google Local or Google My Business (GMB) page. That’s because once you have 5 reviews, Google shows your star rating visually to potential customers on Google Maps and in the result page 3-pack. Something about seeing stars just makes a person want to click and check out that business.
Not having those stars when other businesses do just makes it look like you’re lacking somehow. And you are, really, because you should regularly be using social proof (like testimonials and reviews) to sell to your future customers. Anybody can say their own company is great, but new customers are more likely to believe your past customers.
So how do you encourage your customers to leave you reviews on Google? There’s no obvious link URL like there is for your main website.
Fortunately, someone has made it easy by creating a tool. Check out how it works in our YouTube video here.
Schema markup is a way of telling search engines about the content on your website. Google and Bing’s crawlers index millions of pages on the web daily, first by crawling the HTML and exploring links across the web, then indexing the data they find for web searchers just like you and me. For example, if you create a basic webpage and include your local business address, search engine crawlers may crawl and index that information without registering that it’s your business address specifically. There may have been other ways to infer that anyway if your business name, address and phone number (the holy NAP of local SEO!) are standard across web directories and citations, but by adding additional HTML tags, you can tell Google and Bing explicitly, “This is my address, so take note and index it as such!”
Even if you don’t know HTML, bear with me a moment and look at these two ways of displaying address information to search engines
<p>Candy on Main Street 123 Main St Madison, WI 53703</p>
<p itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/LocalBusiness"><span itemprop="name">Candy on Main Street</span> <span itemprop="address" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/PostalAddress"> <span itemprop="streetAddress">123 Main St</span> <span itemprop="addressLocality">Madison</span>,<span itemprop="addressRegion">WI</span> <span itemprop="postalCode">53703</span></p>
Yikes, okay that’s looks hideous to a human reader, but it’s crystal clear to a search engine. And notice how if you read through the second snippet of code, you can see the same business name, address, and zip embedded in the HTML next to tags like
itemprop="name" itemprop="address" itemprop="postalCode"
If you’re not on WordPress but can add HTML to your website, we recommend using Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper tool. Dig it, because this lets you open up your site, highlight the text you want to markup, then tells you what HTML to add to your site.
If your site is on WordPress, there are plugins that can do this for you. We use this RankYa plug-in for Get Found Madison’s website. Yoast has one, too, but it’s premium so it costs some money.