You have all seen it. It is an integral part of search these days. You are out and about. You decide to look for a good place for lunch. Searching for “restaurants” works but if you want to be clear with your search, you can say “restaurants near me” and up comes the list. This is “near me” search and you need this for your listing.
While this makes a lot of sense for local sensitive places like restaurants, coffee shops or (my favorite) brew pubs, it is important for businesses all across the spectrum.
A mantra we often hear in business is “Shop Local” because by supporting local businesses we support local jobs. I know several people who will not go for coffee at Starbucks and will not have lunch at whatever the convenient big chain is. Instead they go out of their way to find the local coffee shop and independently owned restaurant to do business at.
In the same way people go out of their way to select the independent hair stylist, the local plumber, the local cpa and yes a local (or at least domestic) web design firm.
Still not convinced it matters to you? Let’s dig in a bit deeper. From 2014 to 2015 the traffic from “near me” searches doubled. At the same time, Google’s organic listings are LESS likely to have the magic 10 on the first page or results, opting instead for, on average, 8.5 listings. So being ranked 9 or 10 in the “organic” listings can bump you from the first page but being near where someone searches for you can pull your site or business up.
How do you optimize your local business listing for near me searches? Here is a high level overview of what you need to do:
- Claim your business if you haven’t already: www.google.com/business for Google or www.bingplaces.com for Bing (we recommend avoiding the Yext and YP type services that will do this for you – you’ll pay a lot for an ongoing service that usually just needs done once)
- Make sure your address is IDENTICAL everywhere – on Google and Bing, on your web site, on any other sites or groups that might list you. This leaves no room for ambiguity as to whether it is the same business or same address. No ambiguity is a very good thing when it comes to search.
- Complete the business profile as much as you can. Put in your hours. Put in all of the information that is asked for, including photos. Make the images be real photos of you and your office and your team.
- Encourage happy customers to give reviews for you. If you Google your business, you should see it on the right. From there your customer can click on Write a Review and tell the world how happy they are with you.
Actually just about all the reports are useful and can give you great insight into how visitors are interacting with your website. The list below is intended for beginners to help direct your attention and get into the basics.
- Audience Overview (default view)
View the number of sessions and users over the last month. See pageviews, pages per session, average session duration, bounce rate and percent of sessions that are new (not repeat). While all the info helps, the numbers of users and pageviews are great information for beginners to begin to digest how their site is being used and even more importantly, WHETHER it is being used.
- Audience -> Mobile -> Overview
See the break down on how many are using desktop, how many using mobile and how many using tablet. Since Google began requiring sites to be Mobile Responsive and then to define what it means, it has become even more important to understand how folks view your site. You should definitely check your site to see how it looks on the different devices. And seeing how much actual traffic you get on each can help you determine how many resources you need to focus on each view.
- Audience -> Users Flow
Shows what country visitors come from, what page they visit first and what page(s) they visit after the first page. This is critical to understanding if your visitors are making the decisions you want them to. If you have created a sales funnel and no one is getting through the funnel, monitoring the flow will help you understand where people are getting hung up and then you can begin to examine why they are getting stuck.
- Acquistion -> Overview
Shows how visitors got to your site. Referral: Links from other web sites to yours. Direct: People who typed your url in the location field on the browser. Organic Search: people who searched for something related to you and came to your site. Social: people who clicked a link in social media to get to your site. There are ways to create campaigns to track even more but these four groups are a great way to get the big picture about how people are getting to your site.
- Acquisition -> Search Console -> Queries
This is where the really cool stuff is. Queries shows you what queries people made at Google, how many times your site actually showed up (Impressions) on the page and how many times someone clicked on the Google results that showed your site. It also shows your average position for those key words and the Click Through Rate or CTR. The higher the CTR, the better you are doing.
- BONUS: Acquisition -> Search Console -> Landing Pages
This shows you what pages people see when they first get to your site. Search engines do NOT just link to your home page. This helps you understand what pages Google (and the folks who use Google) likes most about your site. For example, we do a lot of work with non-profit organizations. Over the last month, this page https://www.educyber.com/who-we-work-with/non-profits/ showed up 200 times in search results and got 5 clicks which means that we had a CTR of 2.50% which makes us pretty happy.
You can change the date range at any time but changing the information in the top right corner. You can also do comparisons of ranges, comparing one month to the previous month, for example. The default range when you login and bring up the reports is for the last month.
Bounce Rate refers to the percentage of visitors who enter your site but then leave without visiting more pages. Most folks view a high bounce rate as a bad thing but you have to make sure you are interpreting what is actually happening. For example, if your contact page has a high bounce rate, it is likely because I have visited the page and either called you or emailed you. So I don’t need to be on your site anymore. But it would be for a good reason.
SEO Landing Pages – requires Google Webmaster Tools be enabled. If you don’t have Webmaster tools setup, you ought to. It too is free and it only takes a few minutes to link them up. Then you have even more data at your disposal.
If you don’t have GA enabled or if you have it enabled but aren’t looking at it, why not? This is the kind of marketing data you should have at your disposal. Need help with it? Give us a call at 303 268-2245.
Local search is where it is at for service related companies. Whether your service is landscaping, roofing, dry-cleaning or computer support, it only makes sense that you would do most if not all of your business in and around your local community.
So how does local search work? While it can be quite complex to get your site listed high in the local listings, the basics are simple and sometimes that is enough.
Let’s use Google since they account for 84.72% of all search engine usage worldwide.
- First go to http://www.google.com/maps and in the search bar, type in the name of your company. If nothing comes up, type in your address.
- When you see your listing (there should only be one – if there are more, that’s a topic for another day) click on more info. Along the top on the right you’ll see a link that says “Business Owner?”. Click on that link and claim your listing.
- If it says “Owner-verified listing” then someone from your company has already claimed the listing. You’ll need to talk to them to get more information.
- If you don’t have a Google account, it only takes a few minutes to create a verify one. Do this and come back to the maps. If you already have a Google account, then login.
- Now you’re ready to enter your company information. The more info you enter, the better your chances of being listed.
- Put in your complete address and ALL of your contact information.
- Choose two or more categories for your business.
- Enter your hours of operation as appropriate and check off the types of payment you accept.
- Upload a couple of pictures – of you, of the outside of your place of business, of the inside, etc.
- Upload a video or two. These don’t have to be professionally shot. Just practice a few times and take the best one you have. Introduce people to your business.
- Enter some additional details and click on Submit.
- The first time you do this, you will be asked to select whether Google should call you or mail you. Select call and be prepared to enter the PIN number they’ll give you on the phone as soon as you click Finish. Then within a day or two your listing will be eligible to begin appearing.
There are lots of things you can do to enhance your local listing such as:
- Upload more pictures
- Upload more videos
- Add / Create fields for Additional Details
- Add as many categories as you can think of for your listing
- Try the free trial of Google Tags
- Update your status
- Create a coupon
People often ask me why is it so important to use a blogging software like WordPress. I try to explain the intricacies of RSS technology to them – not so really simple after all – at least not to some folks. But now I have a really simple demonstration.
On Monday, September 13th I posted a blog on Setting Rules for Social Networking. To be very precise, I posted it at 2:41 Mountain Time. Nine minutes later I received a Google alert telling me that “Brian DeLaet” had once again been found. . . you guessed it , from my blog that had just been posted.
That says, more eloquently than I can, why you want to leverage technology. And, I’ll put in a plug for our blog tool of choice: WordPress. WordPress is so nice because it is easy to install (most web hosts have an automated installer), is easy to update (usually just a one click update process) and had hundreds of plugins that help you do whatever you might want to do. The plugins themselves are easy even for beginners to get a handle on.
So why would a company want to blog? Let’s see . . . more people coming to visit your web site? More web site visitors inquiring about your services or products? More inquiries turning into sales?
With the speed at which information is made available, you can monitor the news and blog about what is happening as it happens. If you have a tree removal service, for example, you could blog about how important it is for those in mountain communities to leave sufficient space around their homes in case of fires like the Fourmile Canyon fire or Reservoir Road fire. This typically translates into a lot more traffic on your web site and to more tree trimming jobs.
Need help setting up a blog or hosting your blog? We can help. Call us at 303 268-2245.
I’ve always followed the concept of what gets measured is what gets done. I also follow John C. Maxwell’s leadership newsletter and this last newsletter included this quote from Albert Einstein: Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.
So what’s my point? The beauty of the Internet is that it is like one huge database. The problem with the Internet is that it is like one huge database. A while back I was talking with a potential client about what to measure with the statistics on his web site. He wanted to measure everything. While possible, that isn’t practical. Of what value is there in tracking, for example, how many 206 error codes you get on your site? Anybody out there know what a 206 error is? Those of you who just said yes are web techs. But for a business owner, that information isn’t a useful metric to determine the success of the site or the business.
What statistics are useful? We have five key stats we follow for our customers but what statistics are useful depends on what your goal is. Rarely do I find a customer whose goal is really to be ranked number one for a key word or key phrase. What they really want is to get more customers for their business and see having a high ranking for their key phrases as one of the means towards reaching that goal. So if you try to measure everything, you’ll likely just end up confused. Here are the five web site statistics that we recommend tracking:
- Number of Visits
- Pages Visited (in order of number of visits)
- Search Engine Referrals
- Key Phrases Searched For
Of course, if you need assistance understanding these, EduCyber’s Search-Friendly Hosting is probably just the thing for you.
Search engines from Google to Accona (yes, there’s a search engine called Accona) to Yahoo like to look at the URLs on your site. So you should pay attention to what is happening with your URLs. But let’s start at the beginning. What is a URL (sometimes pronounced U – R – L and sometimes pronounced like the name Earl)?
www.educyber.com/edunotes/index.php is a URL. It is what appears at the top of your web browser when you are on a web site. www.educyber.com/blog is another URL from our site. One thing to note is that for most sites, either index.htm or index.php will be a default page that shows up if you don’t type a file name. So www.educyber.com/edunotes/ is the same as www.educyber.com/edunotes/index.php.
So now that we know what a URL is, let’s take a look at how it can help you. As mentioned above, index.htm or index.php will be a default page that you need to have. After that you can name a page anything you want. You do NOT want to name a page index2.php or indexb.php. That tells you nothing at all about the content of your page.
Telling the search engines and your web site visitors about the content of the page helps them to understand what they will find on the page. This information is much more useful to the search engines than to visitors but then you’re more likely to get visitors if the search engines understand you.
Now let’s take another look at the EduCyber site for an example of what I’m talking about. Our navigation bar has a link that says Web Site Design. If you click that link, you go to this page: www.educyber.com/web/design.php. Notice that you’re in a folder called WEB and on a page called DESIGN.PHP. Those two pieces of information help search engines understand that is what the page is called.
As a final example, take a look at the URL in your browser as you read this blog. The last part of it reads /search-engines-and-urls/ which is also the title of this post. That helps to tell the search engines what this blog post is all about.
The moral of the story is to use meaningful file names and paths when you create web pages and web sites.
Came across a fascinating web site that I want to share with you. I have several friends who are very visual people. They love to diagram things. Several of them love to use a visual mind mapping tool that puts words all over the place – helping them to group key ideas and just see things in a more visual manner.
If that sounds like you, you need to check out Quintura. This site / application creates visual “mind map” searches. They use some pretty sophisticated algorithms to create the connections and visual creations. For example, we recently hosted the Information Product Roadtrip at EduCyber. If I do a search for information products at Quintura, I get the two words in the middle surrounded by a couple of dozen related words. Put the mouse over products and the words most closely related to it come forward and the others fade away.
If the linear fashion of most search engines just doesn’t cut it for you, try Quintura. Even if you love the way your favorite search engine works, you’ll want to give Quintura a try just to see if you get any additional insight.
One of the things that many people overlook when creating their web site is coming up with good title tags.
First let me make sure we are on the same page. A title tag is the title of the page that appears at the very top of the browser window. For example, if you visit www.microsoft.com, you’ll probably see “Microsoft Corporation – Mozilla Firefox” or “Microsoft Corporation – Internet Explorer”, depending on your choice of web browser.
Now for Microsoft, that might be all you need. But for us little guys, we need to let the world know what it is that we do. Visit EduCyber.com and you’ll see the title “Denver Web Site Design, Internet Marketing, Web Hosting, Denver Search Engine Optimization.” Note that the name of the company doesn’t appear in the title. Instead we have let people know what it is that we do here at EduCyber.com.
Also, if you click on a link, such as the link to this blog, you’ll see that the blog page has a different title. The title here is “Search Engine Tips, Internet Marketing and Web Design: EduCyber blog”. Yes we have used the company name but notice that it doesn’t come first. Also note that every page on your web site should have a different title.
It appears, from a brief visit around the web site that a lot of companies want their site to be ranked high for “Welcome!”. You can often find Welcome in the title of web pages as well as having it be the first word of text on the main page of the web site. Do a search at Google for Welcome and see what I’m talking about.
What should you do? Write a list (10 – 50) of key phrases that you should be ranked for. Choose the two or three most important ones for the title of the main page. Look at the various pages of your site and craft a different title for each from your key phrases. Then do a search. Are you listed? If not wait a week and try again. This isn’t the end all to Search Engine Optimization but it can be one factor to help you get listed.
It was bound to happen. Google officially knows everything. They have indexed more than ONE TRILLION web pages. They announced this stunning bit of information last Friday on their official blog. If they’ve indexed that much, they must know everything, right?
Much is made of Google and the information they bring to your fingertips with just a touch of a key or click of a mouse. But just like a teenager or earlier 20’s college graduate, they’ve got a lot of knowledge but not a lot of wisdom. “Knowing” lots of stuff and understanding what to do with it is a different matter. Take, for example, the valid complaints of SEO Expert Aaron Wall. In recent blog posts he has complained that ads on his Gmail account have been trying to entice him to date lonely married women because the content of his emails have been about his happy married life as he is a newlywed. Another complaint he had was about a new Google site that, simply because it is a Google property, trumps others sites in search.
I’ve taken to re-using my favorite Spiderman quote “With great power comes great responsibility.” when dealing with this issue. Google has been a tremendous success. They have built a powerful search engine that has changed the way we communicate and get information. They were definitely in the right place in the right time with the right idea. But as they have grown, they have tended to rely to heavily on their content (their knowledge) and not used wisdom to use this content in a manner that is healthy and consistent with copyright ownership.
According to Hitwise, last month Google accounted for nearly 68% of all search in the US. Wow. And if you compare the April numbers to March or to April of last year, you see that they are expanding their dominance. That is the phenomenal part. Typically if a company creates a new niche and dominates it, other companies come in later to cash in on the good times and in the process they steal some of the market share. Google just keeps growing their share of the market.
Can you image what it would be like to “own” your industry or niche like that? Yahoo has less than 21% of the market (which is still pretty hefty) and MSN has fallen to less than 6.5% of the search market. Ask, while holding a smaller share, continues to grow their share. With Google and Ask expanding, MSN and the rest of the search engines are “taking it on the chin”.
Why do you think Google just keeps grabbing more of the market?