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Why Every Website (Not Just Local Sites) Should Invest in Local Links and Citations - Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

At first glance, local links and local citations might seem unnecessary for non-local websites. On a closer look, however, there are strong underlying benefits to gaining those local votes of confidence that could prove invaluable for everyone. In today's Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains why all sites should consider chasing local links and citations, suggesting a few different ways to discover opportunities in your areas of focus.

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we're going to talk about why websites — every website, not just local websites — should be thinking about tactics and a strategy to get local listings and local citations.

Now, this might sound counterintuitive. I've actually encountered a lot of folks — especially online-only businesses or even blended online and local businesses — who think, "Are local links really that important to me, or are they off-topic? Could they potentially cause problems and confusion? Should I be trying to get those?" I'm going to try and make the case to you today that you absolutely should.

Recently, I got to visit Scotland to talk to several folks. I visited Skyscanner. I spoke at the Digital Excellence event and spoke, of course, at the Turing Festival, which was a remarkable event in Edinburgh. We actually landed in Glasgow on a Saturday and drove up to a little town called Inveraray. So I'm going to use some examples from Inveraray, Scotland, and I apologize if my accent is miserable.

A few of the businesses we visited there: Loch Fyne Whiskies, they have their own living cask, where they essentially add in whiskies and blends to this cask that keeps evolving; Whisky Shop, which is an online-only shop; and then Inveraray Castle, which is a local business, entirely a local business centered around this lovely castle and estate that I think, if I understood correctly, is run by the Duke of Argyll, Argyll being the region around there. Apparently, Scotland still has dukes in business, which is fantastic.

Local & online business

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So for a local and online business, like Lock Fyne Whiskies, they sell whiskies in their specific store. You can go in — and I did — and buy some stuff. They also sell on their website, I believe just in the United Kingdom, unfortunately, for those of you watching around the rest of the world. But there are certainly reasons why they would want to go and get local links from places that link to businesses in Inveraray or in Argyll or in Scotland as a whole. Those include:

  • Boosting their Maps visibility, so that when you're searching in Google Maps for "whisky" or "whisky shops," potentially, if you're near Inveraray, Google Maps will make their business show up higher.
  • Boosting their local ranking so that if you're searching for "whisky shop Argyll" or "whisky shop Scotland" or "whisky shop near me" and you happen to be there, Google will show this business higher for that ranking as well.
  • Boosting their domain authority, meaning that those local links are contributing to overall ranking ability. That means they can rank for longer-tail terms. That means they can rank more competitively for classic web search terms that are not just in local or Maps.
  • Sending valuable traffic. So if you think about a listing site, like thelist.co.uk has them on there, TripAdvisor has them on there, a bunch of local sort of chamber of commerce — it's not actually the chamber of commerce there — but chamber of commerce-type sites list them on there, that sends valuable direct traffic to their business. That could be through foot traffic. It could be through referrals. It could be through people who are buying whisky online from them. So a bunch of real good reasons why a local and online business should do this.

Online-only business

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But if you're an online-only business, I think a lot of folks make the case of, "Wait a minute, Rand, isn't it true that if I am getting local links and local citations, those may not be boosting my relevance, my ranking ability as much as they are boosting my local ranking ability, which I don't actually care about because I'm not focused on that?"

So, for example, whiskyshop.com, I think they are also based in Scotland, but they don't have physical locations. It's an online-only shop. So getting a local link for them in whatever part of the region of Scotland they are actually in would...

  • Boost their domain authority, giving them more ranking ability for long-tail terms.
  • Make it harder for their competitors to compete for those links. This makes link acquisition for an online-only business, even from local sources, a beautiful thing because your competitors are not in that region and, therefore, they can't go get those same links that you can get simply by virtue of being where you are as a business physically located. Even if you're just in an office space or working from home, wherever your domain is registered you can potentially get those.
  • Yield solid anchor text. There are a bunch of local sources that will not just point out who you are, but also what you do. When they point out what you do, they can link to your product pages or your different site sections, individual URLs on your site, and provide anchor text that can be powerful. Depending on how those submissions are accepted and how they're processed, some local listings, obviously, you're not going to get them, others you are.

There's one more that I should include here too, which is that...

  • Local information, even citations by themselves, can be a trust signal for Google, where they essentially say, "Hey, you know what, we trust that this is a real business that is really in this place. We see citations for it. That tells us we can trust this site. It's not spammy. It doesn't have these spam signals around it." That's a really big positive as well. So I'd add that — spam trust issues.

Local-only business

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Lastly, a local-only business — I think this is the most obvious one — we know that it...
  • Boosts Maps visibility
  • Boosts local rankings
  • Boosts your long-tail ranking ability
  • Sends valuable direct traffic, just like they do to a local and online business.

Easy ways to find citation/link sources in your locale:

If you're going to go out and look for some local links, a few quick recommendations that are real easy to do.

  1. Do a search for a business name, not necessarily your business name — in fact, not your business name - anybody, any of your competitors or anyone in the region. It doesn't have to necessarily be your business. It could be someone in the county or the territory, the state, the city, the town, minus their site, because you don't want results from their site. You're actually looking for: What are all the places where their business is talked about? You can add in, if you'd like, the region or city name.
  2. Search for one local business and another one. So, for example, if I was Whisky Shop and I were in Inveraray or I were in Argyll, I could search for "Loch Fyne Whiskies" and "Inveraray Castle," and I would come back with a list of places that have both of those on their website. That often turns out to be a great source of a bunch of listings, listing opportunities and link opportunities.
  3. Google just by itself the city plus the state, or region or country, and get lots and lots of places, first off that describe that place, but then also that note notable businesses or that have business listings. You can add the word "listings" to this query and get some more great results too.
  4. Try out some tools here — Link Intersect in Moz, or Majestic, or Ahrefs — and get lots of results by plugging in two of these and excluding the third one and seeing who links to these that doesn't link to this third one.
  5. Use business names in the same fashion that you do in Google in tools like a Mention, a Talkwalker, Google Alerts, or Moz's Fresh Web Explorer and see who is talking about these local businesses or regions from a news or blog or forum or recent perspective.

So with that, I hope you'll do me a favor and go out, try and get some of those local links. I look forward to your comments, and we'll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.


Video transcription by Speechpad.com


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Spell-check your new expanded text ads with this AdWords script

Expanded text ads are here, and advertisers will likely be doing significant ad copy revisions as a result. Luckily, columnist Russell Savage reminds us that you can use AdWords scripts to ensure that your new ads are devoid of spelling errors.The post Spell-check your new expanded text ads with...

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Reaching Your Golden Influencers with Content Through LinkedIn Ads

Posted by WilcoxAJ

We’re all well aware that the tides have shifted in SEO. Building links for the sake of building links is no longer the best strategy.

We’ve all heard the gospel of great content being preached: "Just create great content, and the links will naturally come." While this may be true for brands with existing followings, it’s often a very different story for most SMBs.

The fact of the matter is that if a brand lacks social presence and followers, it may get more eyeballs on its great content by printing a copy, and stapling it to a tree.

For that reason, you need to pay to get that great content in front of the eyes that are most likely to share/blog/mention it. I’m going to show you how to do this using LinkedIn Ads.

LinkedIn, the resume site?

"LinkedIn?", you say? "Why would I share content on LinkedIn?", you ask? Very good question!

Everyone’s favorite professional social network is very well known for its ability to host your resume, as well as its usefulness in finding your next job. What you may not have noticed is that LinkedIn has been making great strides towards becoming a content hub, and it began back in 2012.

In 2012, LinkedIn released their Influencer program. It allowed business celebrities like Bill Gates and Richard Branson to publish long-form articles, and it allowed the likes of us peasants to follow that content without requiring said celebrities to accept our connections.

In 2013, the network announced its acquisition of Pulse, a news and content engine, which can push you content based on your industry, seniority, etc. It then released a new ad unit called "Sponsored Updates," which allows advertisers to put content in front of the right eyes.

In 2014, long-form posting (such as the likes of Arianna Huffington and Barack Obama enjoyed) was then released to all LinkedIn members.

You can see how, gradually, the professional network positioned itself to become the place you go for your business news.

Getting started

By now you may realize how helpful LinkedIn advertising can be for your content marketing efforts, but you don’t know how to get started. No problem! Here’s what you need:

1. Company page admin access

Sponsored Updates (the native ad unit that was built for sharing content effectively) require a connection to the company page. First and foremost, you’ll need to have an existing administrator of your LinkedIn company page add you to that as well.

Here’s that process:

Have your existing admin go to www.linkedin.com and search for your company name
Click on the result that is labeled "Company Page"
Click the button at the top that says "Edit"
Scroll down to the section called "Company Page Administrators"
Type in the name of the person to be granted access (you, presumably). In order to add someone, you must be connected already on LinkedIn.
Click "Publish" at the top of the page

If your company has not yet created a company page, that’s no problem either — they’re quick and easy. You can create your company page for free.

2. LinkedIn Ads account access

If you have an existing LinkedIn Ads account, here’s how to get access:

Have an account manager navigate to LinkedIn.com/ads
Log into LinkedIn with personal credentials
Select the company’s account
Click the cog wheel at the top-center of the page and click "User Access"
Click "Add User"
Type in the name of the person to be granted access (presumably you) and grant "Account Manager" (administrator) permissions

If you don’t already have an existing account, here’s how you do it:

Navigate to LinkedIn.com/ads
Click "Get Started"
Sign in with your LinkedIn credentials
Click "Add Account"
Begin typing the name of your company name in the "Company Name" field
Create an account name (simply the name of your company is best, but anything to help you recognize which account you’re accessing if you manage several

Why use LinkedIn Ads?

Although the ads platform may not be pretty, or have the feature set we in PPC have come to expect, its granular control over B2B targeting can’t be beat. I’m certain you can see the value in being able to reach someone by:

  • Job title
  • Seniority level
  • Department
  • Industry
  • Company
  • Etc.

Who should I target?

That depends. Who would you get the most value out of seeing your content? Here are a couple angles that I’ve used:

1. Venture capital hack

Is your company getting ready to raise a round of funding? You could target those within the "Venture Capital & Private Equity" industry. The fact that potential investors have heard of you could mean precious increase to your valuation.

Here are the targeting settings where I did just that for a client:

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2. Publisher hack

Do you want to get your content linked to? How about targeting those that buy ink by the barrel? Here’s what I’ve used for just such an occasion:

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By reaching those with seniorities of manager and above in the publishing industries, you’re able to get your content in front of those who could cite, publish about, or otherwise authoritatively share your content.

Attitudes toward native ads

How do we feel about advertising? Savvy consumers are suspicious and skeptical of advertisers. The fantastic part about sponsoring content is the vast majority of consumers don’t view it as an ad. When you ask customers how they found you after arriving through sponsored content, you’ll get answers like "A friend shared…" or "I came across…"

Of course, if your sponsored update feels like an ad, you’ve shot all of your blissful goodwill in the foot.

What does it cost?

Depending on the audience, I’ve found LinkedIn clicks to cost between about $4–8. That being said, sharing content carries with it a huge advantage.

For those familiar with the AdWords auction system, it will come as no surprise that you can get significant discounts on your cost-per-click (CPC) if your click-through rate (CTR) is high.

For the uninitiated, each time a LinkedIn user loads a page on the site, there is an opportunity cost associated with showing an ad. Advertiser A may be willing to bid $20 per click, but if their CTR is .1% the platform would make, at most, $20 from showing the ad to 1k visitors. Contrast that with Advertiser B who is only bidding $3, but has a CTR of 1%, which results in a maximum of $30 to the platform for showing ads to those same 1k visitors.

This means that LinkedIn maximizes its revenue when advertisers have great CTRs, so it lowers costs of high CTR performers in order to reward them for their profitability.

The advantage, then, of sharing content that's low in friction and high in interest is that it garners high CTRs, and therefore lower CPCs than content that presents more friction.

Remember that you're targeting your ideal audience here, and getting as many of them as possible to your content/offers will likely pay significant dividends in the future.

Added bonus!

Remember in the section above when I mentioned getting your ideal audience in front of your content pays significant dividends? This is where I get more specific.

You’ve got your ideal audience to your site now, and you paid between $3–7 per click to do it, which is costly in many verticals. Do you keep relying on $3–7 clicks to continue to bring them back until they’re raving fans and ready to talk to your sales team? You could, but then your cost per engagement will look sky-high.

Contrast this with the possibility of placing your LinkedIn traffic into AdWords, Twitter, and Facebook retargeting audiences (tutorial here). You can even name those audiences after the persona you drove there (i.e. Media, or Venture Capital) to make interpretation of the accounts easy.

For instance, if your LinkedIn campaign is targeting media, then call your retargeting audience “Online Media Professionals” or something to that effect.

How much do you normally pay for retargeting traffic? $.60? $1? Less? Whatever it is, it’s bound to be a huge discount compared to your original source of the traffic, and the big advantage to you is that everyone in that audience, you got to qualify through the most effective B2B targeting.

Staying on top of your ideal audiences’ minds with banner ads is great and all, but what gets even more exciting is then using those retargeting audiences as persona development.

Persona development

From following the retargeting strategy above, you know that you’ll end up with a retargeting audience that contains your ideal audience. This allows you to serve a lot of impressions very inexpensively. Use this to your advantage to test content titles, etc.

Are you interested in finding out whether the phrase "data-driven" is more engaging than "big data?" How about testing colloquial messages as opposed to more formal? Try running different versions of the content in image A/B tests to test what resonates most with your persona!

As you test against this audience, you’ll start to find out how best to talk to them, and what types garner the greatest results. After all, you’re paying for the traffic, so you might as well get all the use out of it you can.

Recap

To sum it all up, start by gathering a significant announcement, and decide the influencer who would have the greatest sway over publishing/funding it. Target those folks using LinkedIn’s powerful ad targeting. Then retarget those visitors using your favorite retargeting channels to further invest in the influencers. Then watch business results happen, in a truly scalable fashion!


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Google's Future is in the Cards

Posted by Dr-Pete

Google is constantly testing new design elements, but over the past few months they've been testing a change that, while it might seem small on the surface, represents a major philosophical shift. The screenshots in this post were all captured on live SERPs but appear to be tests and have not rolled out permanently. Here's an example of the basic change:

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Notice how each result (ads and organic) is wrapped in a container and visually separated on a gray background. These containers are called "cards" in Google's vernacular, and they're important, but we'll get to that. Why should we care about a few borders and a background?

Shift #1: Mobile-first design

We've known for over two years that Google was shifting to a mobile-first design philosophy. Earlier this year, Google removed ads from the right-hand column. While this change was partially due to performance, I believe that a big part of it was standardizing the ad environment across platforms (mobile, tablet, desktop, etc.). What's not obvious from the test above is that this card-based design is more than just boxes and backgrounds. Google is testing a serious move toward single-column SERPs. The removal of ads from the right-hand column was only the beginning.

Here's a SERP screenshot for "polar bear" in Google's current desktop design:

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Below is the test design, captured back in May. The Knowledge Panel has been moved to the top-left, and the right-hand column is gone. This is not a Knowledge Card of the sort we typically see on the top-left. It is the traditionally right-hand desktop entity, moved and collapsed (with a "More about Polar bear" arrow):

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Here's the same search on an Android phone. Notice the card-based format and Knowledge Panel at the top. Obviously, nothing is in the right-hand column, because mobile only has one column:

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There are still display differences between mobile and the desktop test, of course, but you can clearly start to see the convergence between the test and the current mobile design.

How will it all fit on the left?

Getting everything on current desktop SERPs into one column poses significant challenges, and Google is experimenting with a few variations. Here's a SERP that has both a Knowledge Panel and a Knowledge Card, for example:

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In this case, the Knowledge Card showing the support phone number appears above the Knowledge Panel, and both are above the first organic result. You'll notice some design differences on this example, which was captured in July. Here's another example, with a different, more interesting layout:

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This SERP has a local 3-pack, which is at the top (like on current designs), followed by an organic result, and then followed by the Knowledge Panel. This pushes the Knowledge Panel down the page quite a bit, and the #2 organic result down well below the fold. In another example, we saw a Knowledge Panel below four ads and four organic results. So, the traditional top placement may become more flexible.

Here's an example with a Featured Video, followed by a Knowledge Panel, and then the first organic:

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The bottom of this same SERP has another interesting feature: a set of three different related searches, each with their own card. On the current design, these live at the bottom of the Knowledge Panel, but here they've been split off from the panel and expanded:

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Keep in mind that these are only variations in testing, and that this testing has been ongoing over a period of months. We can piece together Google's intent from looking at multiple tests, but we can't pin down what the final design will look like or when (or even if) it will launch.

Shift #2: Google Now

There's another reason I think the card-based design is potentially interesting. Google Now, Google's predictive search product, was built on the "card" concept. Here's an Android screenshot:

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Google Now mixes and matches results of personal interest. On this screen, I've got a Knowledge Graph-style card with an upcoming game time, another KG-style card with a recent box score, and a carousel of news results, all under a topical "Chicago Cubs" section header. Here's another Google Now screen:

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Here, I've got another news carousel (note its similarity to mobile search news carousels), and then an individual news story with its own card. Google Now shows that you can create a result using virtually no traditional organic results and mix multiple Knowledge Graphs, news, and other entities in a single, fluid experience.

What does it all mean?

Cards are much more than just a design philosophy. We're used to seeing SERPs in clusters: a column of organic results, a Knowledge Panel, a box of news results, a box of local results, etc. Prior to individually-labelled ads, even AdWords ads came in visually-delineated chunks. With cards, we have to start thinking of each individual information unit as a stand-alone result, and every SERP is a mix of the most relevant results across a wide variety of sources and types.

Viewing SERPs as collection of search information units (SIUs?) also allows Google to easily adapt across a wide range of displays, from desktop all the way down to wearables, which might only have screen space for a single card. Even voice search can be adapted to cards. Currently, if you run a voice search on Android that returns a Featured Snippet, for example, your mobile device will read that snippet back to you. Voice search is returning one card, a single unit of search information.

Cards give Google a great deal of flexibility, and will begin to break traditional design barriers and result groupings. We may see ads leaving top and bottom blocks and being dispersed between other results. We may see a mix of shopping results, say a single product card and a multi-product carousel on the same page. Similarly, we may see multiple news results or carousels across a single page. We may see multiple Knowledge Cards or personalized results, if a search merits that kind of personalization.

The era of cards is the final nail in the coffin of ten blue links. Ultimately, our definition of search engine optimization is going to have to expand beyond traditional results and into any information unit that can drive traffic.


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NEW: Rank Beyond 10 Blue Links with SERP Feature Tracking in Moz Pro

Posted by Dr-Pete

From Featured Snippets to In-depth Articles to Knowledge Panels, Google SERP features have remade the search marketing landscape. After three years of planning and many months of work, I'm thrilled to announce the launch of advanced SERP feature tracking in Moz Pro, available immediately to all customers! Using the most comprehensive data set on the market, Moz Pro now provides advanced analysis of the 16 features listed below:

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Try it out now under the [Rankings] tab within any campaign, or read on for a walk-through of the new features. New to Moz Pro? Take a free 30-day trial!

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Making Sense of Google's Updates in Local Search

Posted by George-Freitag

Last week, Casey Meraz did a great breakdown on the state of local, showing where you should be heading with your strategy and answering some tough questions about the future of local search. Today, let’s look at all the recent changes that Google itself has been making to its own local product and examine how that will help you understand where they’re heading.

This has been a big year for local search, with Google launching a ton of changes related to local, including several changes directly to their local platform, Google My Business. Marketers and brands are naturally scrambling to respond to each of these changes individually, as they should, but what about the larger implications of changes like these?

The running theme with all these changes seems to be the following three things: Google is taking local seriously, Google is wants to get more local data through its crawler, and Google really, really wants more reviews. But let’s not jump ahead of ourselves. First, let’s review some of the major changes that have occurred over the last few months.

What’s changed?

1. No more descriptions for Google My Business

The most recent change to Google My Business occurred on August 3rd when Google My Business stopped accepting edits to the description. The description will still be editable through Google+, but with the way the rest of the company has been distancing itself from its social platform, that’s likely not to stick around for long.

2. Additional categories no longer supported

Additionally, though it got lost in the shuffle a bit, when they removed the descriptions they also removed the following sections from their bulk upload form:

  • Ad Icon URL
  • Ad Landing Page URL
  • Alt Phone. Alt phone is now "Additional phones."
  • Categories. This field has been replaced by "Primary category" and “Additional categories.”
  • City. City is now "Locality."
  • Description
  • Email
  • Fax
  • Payment Types
  • State. State is now "Administrative area."

3. Google+ metrics removed, additional Google My Business Insights

In a separate announcement, Google also removed Google+ metrics from their dashboard, instead providing more detailed metrics around the source of views to your GMB profile. Google My Business now shows whether customers found a business via search or Google Maps and breaks down actions customers are taking by website visits, driving direction requests, phone calls, or photos.

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4. Greater support of reviews for local businesses

And in yet another announcement this month, Google released the ability for all websites to have “Critic Reviews” published directly in Google search results, next to the local businesses results. Days later, Google backed up this announcement by promoting the detailed Schema Markup needed to apply for critic reviews.

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For reviews on Google My Business itself, they added the ability to respond to reviews on Google directly through the latest version of its API.

Overview of changes

And this is just within the last couple of months! So, what do all of these changes imply? Well, first off, it means that Google is making some serious changes towards local. And it should. Based on data released in May of 2016, over 50% of its traffic is now mobile and within that, nearly 30% of those searches are local!

Secondly, it means that Google is getting more confident in its own crawl data. Google wouldn’t take away a chance to get information from you if it didn’t have a good way of getting that same information by itself. We already saw this when Google removed support of Authorship and, years earlier, removed support of the Meta Keywords tag. By further distancing its local product from its social product, Google+, it implies that the data gathered from those sources wasn’t valuable. It also means that Google likely hasn’t been paying attention to any of this stuff for some time now.

This is pretty in line with everything Google has worked towards with local information. User-generated information, while invaluable, is easily manipulated. Because of this, Google often prefers to use its own data, when available. This is why that irritatingly complicated Local Search Ecosystem is so irritatingly complicated. Google needs to be able to verify its data, verify it again somewhere else, and repeat however many times it needs to to be sure.

How does this affect me?

So what does this mean for marketers and brands? There are a couple of key takeaways. First, it means that Google is becoming increasingly confident in the data that it’s getting on its own. On top of that, Google is surfacing more information about an individual business than it ever has before. Information like business hours, reviews, driving directions, social links, and more are all available directly in the search results.

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While providing all of this information is potentially great from a user perspective, this is also makes Google tremendously vulnerable from a trust perspective. Every new piece of information that Google surfaces in its search results is a new opportunity for them to get that information wrong, so they're putting themselves at a tremendous risk. They aren’t going to do this unless they can be absolutely sure and, as we know, the way they verify information is through their own crawls.

The second big takeaway is that Google is trying harder than ever to get more reviews into its platform. By distancing itself from Google+ they removed one of the biggest barriers for leaving reviews. By promoting Schema and opening up the ability for more people to have their reviews included in search results, Google is making sure that it has as much review data as possible. As demonstrated last year in another study by Casey Meraz, we know that reviews are a huge element in the click-through rate of local results.

What should I do?

Let’s talk tactics. Knowing that Google is putting more emphasis on crawl data and that it's looking for more ways to get reviews, your job as a marketer gets pretty clear. You need to get your local information and reviews in all the places Google might look and make it easy for Google to understand.

Learn to love Schema markup

One of the most telling things about Google’s updates, in general, is that they've been consistently and reliably promoting Schema usage every chance they get. This means they probably like it. And the great thing about Schema is that it’s easier than ever to implement! To facilitate their love affair with Schema, Google created an easy-to-use tool, the Structured Data Markup Helper, that lets you highlight contact information, reviews, and more, then generate the JSON-LD code you can paste right in the <head> of your page. Pair that with their other free tool for testing markup, the Structured Data Testing Tool, and you have everything you need to start using Schema right away.

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Make your business listing information accurate

This may seem repetitive in the local space, but that’s just because it’s true. Even if you enter all the information exactly right in Google My Business, Google still doesn’t trust it unless it can verify it against other sources. Use the free Check Listing Tool or any of the other online tools to make sure you’re not only listed on all of the most important online sources, but that your information is accurate. And not just mostly accurate — so accurate that Google doesn’t have any choice other than to completely trust your data. The one thing that will prevent Google from ever showing your business in their giant local search result is conflicting information about your business on various online sources.

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Get your review strategy together

You can’t just sit around and hope for reviews anymore. According to a study by BrightLocal, 92% of people look to online reviews when deciding to use a business. We also know that people click on them in Google. And we know that Google is trying to get as many of them as possible in their own search results.

  1. Use Schema markup on your site for all the reviews you have on your own site. Even if Google isn’t using those now, they're certainly acting as though they want to start.
  2. Monitor your reviews online and have a response strategy. With Google surfacing reviews even more in their results, you need to be sure you properly address negative reviews and take every opportunity to address the concern.
  3. Give great customer service. The most frustrating part of an online review strategy is that the majority of it occurs offline. Be nice to your customers and thank them for their time.

Earn good links

There are tons of great resources for linkbuilding on the Moz Blog alone, so I won’t muddy the waters with more advice. I will say that, while the Google penalties of the previous few years have been rough on linkbuilding, there’s still no question it’s still one of the most influential ranking factors in SEO as a whole, let alone in local. The only difference is that it has to be good. The one thing the Google penalties proved that Google definitely knows the difference between a good links and a bad link. Good links are good because they mean people are actually interested in your content and are legitimately trying to share it. Of course Google would want to use that as a metric. That’s the content you need to make.

Is this all you can do? Of course not. But focusing on the things Google is paying attention to is one of the best ways to make sure you’re staying ahead of the curve to make your local strategy as future-proof as possible.

Any other big changes in local that I missed? Have your own tips to stay on Google’s good side in local? Share your own thoughts in the comments below!


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