The Two-Part SEO Ranking Model: Let’s Make SEO Simple

Posted by EricEnge

There sure is a lot of interest in SEO ranking factors:

There have been major studies done on this, notably by both Moz and Searchmetrics. These are groundbreaking pieces of research, and if you’re serious about SEO, you need to understand what these studies say.

That said, these are too complex for most organizations to deal with. They need a simpler way of looking at things. At Stone Temple Consulting (STC) we deal with many different types of organizations, including some of the world’s largest companies, and some of the highest-traffic websites in the world. For most of these companies, understanding that there are 200+ ranking factors does more harm than good.

Why, you ask? So many people I talk to are looking for a silver bullet. They want to hear that they should only change their heading tags on the second Tuesday of every month, except during leap years, when they should do it on the first Tuesday, except in February when they should change it on the third Monday. These distractions end up taking away from the focus on the two things that matter most: building great content (and a great content experience) and promoting it well.

Today’s post is going to lay out a basic approach that most companies can use to simplify their thinking about SEO, and keep their focus on the highest priorities.

What Google recently said

Here’s what Google Dublin’s Andrey Lippatsev said in a Hangout that I participated in on March 23, 2016. Also participating in the Hangout was Ammon Johns, who asked Andrey what the two most important ranking factors are:

Andrey Lippatsev: Yes. Absolutely. I can tell you what they are. It is content and links going into your site.

There we go, that’s a start. According to Google, it’s links and content that are the two biggest. Hopefully, the idea that content is a big factor is obvious, but below I’ll break out more what great content really entails. In addition, you can see some backup for the power of links in the study I recently published on links as a ranking factor.

Should we think of the world as consisting only of these two factors? It’s quite simplistic, and possibly too much so, but let’s try to simplify this even more. How many organizations would dramatically improve their SEO if they focused on creating great content and promoting it effectively? I can tell you that from my experience these are two things that many organizations simply don’t do.

Does that mean that we can take our two factors and put them into a (purely) hypothetical ranking score equation that looks like this?

I actually think that this equation is pretty effective, though it has some limitations and omissions that I’ll describe in more detail below. You also need to think about the concept of “great content,” that will get a high Content Score, in the correct manner.

What is “great content?”

If we step back and think about what makes up great content, it seems to me that there are three major components that matter:

  1. Relevancy
  2. Quality
  3. The overall content experience

The first part of this is simple. If the content is not relevant to a query, it shouldn’t rank for that query, ever. That makes sense, right?

The second part is also pretty simple, and that’s the notion of quality. Does it provide information that people are looking for? Is that information relatively unique to your site? Clearly, it makes sense for the quality of the content to matter a lot.

We can combine the notions of quality and relative uniqueness into the notion of material differentiation. Rand covers this brilliantly in his Whiteboard Friday about creating 10X content.

Creating the 220,001st article on how to make French toast is just not going to cut it:

You need to create something new and compelling that also offers a lot of value. That may not be easy, but being the best at something never is.

If you’re in a competitive market, it’s reasonable to guess that your top competitors are making great, relevant content on topics that matter to their target audience. For the most important queries, it’s probable that the top 5 (and maybe more) pieces of content in that space are really, really good (i.e. more comprehensive than other articles on the topic, or brings in new information that others don’t have).

The third part encompasses many pieces.

  • Is your content well-organized and easy to read?
  • Does it effectively communicate its key points? How do people engage with it? If they land on a page on your site that has the answer to their question, can they quickly and easily find that information?

Once again, you’ll find that the major competitors that rank in the top of the SERPs all handle this pretty well too.

Let’s now take a look at what the role of the content score in ranking might look like:

Note that the Y-axis is “Chances of Ranking,” as opposed to “Ranking.” Nonetheless, this curve suggests that the Content Score is a big one, and that makes sense. Only the best of the best stuff should rank. It’s simple.

Digging a bit deeper on what goes into content quality

But what about title tags? Heading tags, use of synonyms? Page layout and design? Stop and think about it for a moment. Aren’t those all either part of creating higher-quality content, or making that content easier to consume?

You bet.

For example, imagine that I wrote this piece of content:

It could be the greatest information in the world, but it’s going to be really hard for users to read, and it will probably have terrible user engagement signals. On the other hand, imagine that my content looks like this:

Would you say the quality of one of these pieces of content is higher? I would. The second one is much easier to read, and therefore will deliver more value to users. It will get better engagement, and yes, it will probably get linked to more often.

Why do links get separate treatment?

You could argue that links are just another measurement of content quality, and there is some truth to that, but we give them separate treatment in this discussion for two reasons:

1. They’re still the best measurement of authority.

Yes, I know I’m ruffling some feathers now, but this is what my experience after more than 15 years in SEO (and seeing hundreds of SEO campaigns) has taught me. To get and sustain a link, someone has to have a website, has to be willing to modify that website, and they have to be willing to have their site’s visitors click on the link to leave their site and go to yours.

That’s a pretty material commitment on the linking site’s part, and the only incentive they have to do that is if they believe that your content is of value to their site’s visitors.

Why not social signals? While I’ve long argued that they have no impact except for aiding in content discovery, let’s for sake of argument say that I’m wrong, and there is some impact here, and explain why social signals can never be a critical part of the Google algo. It’s simple: social signals are under the control of third-party companies that can make them invisible to Google on a moment’s notice (and remember that Google and Facebook are NOT friends). Imagine Google giving Facebook (or any other 3rd party) the power to break their algorithm whenever they want. Not happening!

2. The power of links should cause different actions on your part.

What is that action? It’s called marketing, and within that discipline is the concept of content marketing. Done the right way, these are things you should do to raise the reputation and visibility of your brand.

In fact, this may consume a material amount of your entire company budget. With or without search engines in the world, you’ve always wanted to do two things:

(1) Make really good stuff, and

(2) market it effectively.

In 2016, and beyond, this will not change.

No doubt, part of attracting great links is to produce great content, but there are other overt actions involved to tell the world about that great content, such as active outreach programs.

Expanding on user engagement

Many have speculated that Google is using user engagement signals as a ranking factor, and that it will increase its investment in these areas over time. For example, what about click-through rate (CTR)? I discuss CTR as a ranking factor here, but to net it out simply, it’s just too easy a signal to game, and Google tells us that it uses CTR measurements as a quality control check on other ranking signals, rather than as a direct signal.

You can doubt Google’s statements about this, but if you own or publish a website, you probably get many emails a week offering to sell you links via one scheme or another. However, you never get emails offering you CTR ranking schemes. Why is that, you think? It’s because even the scammers and spammers don’t think it works.

Important note: Rand has done many live CTR tests and a number of these have shown some short-term rankings movement, so CTR could be used in some manner to discover hot trends/news, but still not be a core ranking factor.

What about other user engagement signals? I’d bet that Google is, in fact, doing some things with user engagement signals, though it’s hard to be sure what they are. It’s not likely to be as simple as bounce rate, or its cousin, pogosticking.

Pogosticking sure seems like a good signal until you realize there are many scenarios where they don’t work at all. For example, when users are comparison shopping, they’ll naturally hop from site to site.

Finding good user engagement factors that make for really reliable signals is quite hard. Many have speculated that artificial intelligence/machine learning will be used to derive these types of factors. Here are three pieces of content that cover that topic in some detail:

  1. The Machine Learning Revolution: How it Works and its Impact on SEO, an article here on Moz by yours truly
  2. SEO in a Two-Algorithm World, a Powerpoint by Rand Fishkin
  3. The Past, Present, and Future of SEO, an article by Mike Grehan

Information architecture

Having a solid information architecture (IA) that Google can crawl and easily find your content is also a major requirement. In Andrey Lippatsev’s response, he undoubtedly presumed that this was in good shape, but it would be wrong to leave this out of this discussion.

At Stone Temple Consulting, we’ve helped tons of sites improve their organic traffic simply by working on their IA, eliminating excessive page counts, improving their use of SEO tags like rel=canonical, and things of this nature. This is clearly a big factor as well. Usability also feeds into IA, because people need to be able to find what they’re looking for on your site.

What I’ve left out with the two-factor model

First of all, there are other types of results, such as images, videos, and maps results, that are opportunities to get on the first page, but the above discussion is focused on how to rank in regular web search results.

To be fair, even in the regular web results, I’ve left some things out. Here are some examples of those:

  1. Local links. I’m not referring to “local pack” listings here. If I search on “digital cameras” right now, in the regular web search results, I’ll see some listings for stores near me. Clearly, proximity is a very large factor in ranking those pages.
  2. Query deserves diversity. An example of this is the query “Jaguar.” Chances are that my two-factor algorithm would rank only car sites in the top 10, but Google knows that many people that type that query want information on the animal. So even if the two-factor algo would slant things one way, you’ll see some animal-related sites in the top 10.
  3. In-depth articles. This is a feature that’s hard to spot in the search results, but sometimes Google includes in the bottom of the top 10 results some pieces of content that are particularly comprehensive. These are for queries where Google recognizes there’s a decent chance that the user is engaging in extensive research on a topic. Here’s an example for the query “constitution”:

We conducted a small sample review of 200 SERPs and found that about 6% of the results appeared to be from factors such as these. The two-factor model also doesn’t account for personalization, but this post is looking at ranking factors for regular search results other than personalization, which, of course, also has a large impact.

Looking for ranking hacks?

OK, I’m going to give you one. Make your content, and the experience of consuming that content, unbelievably good. That’s step one. Stick to your knitting, folks, and don’t cop out on the effort to make your content stand out. You have no choice if you want to get sustainably positive results from SEO.

Don’t forget the overall site and page usability, as that’s a big part of what makes your content consumable. This is a critical part of making great content. So is measuring user engagement. This provides a critical feedback loop into what you’re doing, and whether or not it’s working for your target audience.

Then, and only then, your focus should turn to marketing that will help drive your reputation and visibility, and help attract links to your content. Here it is in a nutshell:

If your content isn’t competitive in relevance and quality, links won’t help. If it is, links will make the difference.

Your content has to be elite to have a chance to score highly on any given competitive search result. After that, your superior marketing efforts will help you climb to the top of the heap.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Should You Be Outsourcing SEO Training for Your Team?

Posted by rachelgooodmanmoore

When first looking to offer something new, most businesses fall in line with one of two schools of thought:

  1. Build it internally
  2. Purchase or outsource it

There are pros and cons to both sides of the coin.

Here’s an example: Say you’re looking to expand the selection of products your company sells. Building a new offering in-house would allow you complete control over the size and shape of the new product. The drawback? Building it yourself usually takes significant internal resources and time. If, instead, you chose to purchase a product from another organization (let’s call them Acme Corp) and whitelabel it — or maybe even purchase Acme Corp itself — you’ll be able to go to market sooner, but you’ll almost certainly have less control over the product you’re offering.

The idea of “build internally” or “purchase externally” doesn’t just apply to products — it also includes internal programs like market research, sales strategy development, and even professional training. In fact, it includes almost everything that makes up an organization, from its processes to its people.

Think back to the last product (internal or external) your company released. In which camp is your organization? Whether you go the outsourcing or building in-house route depends on your business and the situation at hand. There are arguments for the merits of both, and some organizations employ a mix of multiple strategies.

Let’s look at some of the considerations and use cases for why you may want to choose one over the other when it comes to training — in particular, SEO training.

Is SEO training unique?

It’s worth examining if (and how) SEO education differs from other flavors of professional training. While SEO training is a different beast than, say, learning to code or how to do business accounting, from my perspective as an online trainer, teaching SEO isn’t remarkably different than teaching any kind of digital marketing.

SEO training: a different type of beast.

At basic and intermediate levels, neither SEO nor digital marketing in general are extremely technical (compared to something like learning JavaScript, MySQL, or setting up a Salesforce CRM), nor do they require an MBA or PhD to master. Both are easier with a fundamental understanding of how websites and the Internet work, and both are at their best when backed by real data and at least a dash of creativity.

SEO versus digital marketing training

Do these two actually differ from each other at all? Search engine optimization is a subset of what digital marketing is all about, so they’re related. But there are differences, nonetheless. Let’s take a closer look:

The training face-off

Digital Marketing Education SEO Education
Focuses on all aspects of how to attract traffic, convert those visitors into leads, and help transform those leads into customers Mainly focuses on how to best attract visitors
Covers ways to attract visitors from all sources Deals almost exclusively with increasing or refining traffic from search engines
Deals with topics like email marketing, marketing automation, social media, content creation, and beyond Hones in on topics like keyword research, site architecture, on- and off-page optimization, and analytics (though may also include topics like content creation as they pertain to generating search traffic)
Typically measures ROI in terms of marketing or sales-qualified leads generated Most direct ROI numbers are around traffic generated by source (namely search engines or search-influenced sources)

The right column, for our purposes in this article, is how we’ll be defining “SEO training.”

Now that we’re on the same page with what we mean when discussing SEO training, let’s dive into the ten-thousand-dollar question*: should you build and run this type of training in-house, or outsource it?

*Yes, some SEO training programs really do cost that much.

Outsourcing: the benefits

Let’s start our tour of outsourcing versus building training in-house by examining the pros of hiring an outside trainer or signing up for an SEO training course:

1. Outsourcing saves time.

Whether it’s hours devoted to developing an SEO curriculum, putting together lessons, actually teaching, or following up with trainees after your session, building and delivering from-scratch training can take an enormous amount of time and effort.

Outsourcing means you get hours in your day back, and because the training is built by professionals, the end product may be higher quality than something built internally.

2. Outsourcing can save you money.

Note “can” (and not “will”) save you money. If you only need training one (or a few) time(s), or if you have a relatively small group of people enrolled, it can be significantly more cost-effective to outsource training.

On the other hand, if you have a large number of people to train or plan on offering a course on a regular basis (for example, as part of new hire onboarding), it may be worth the upfront cost to develop in-house training.

3. Outsourcing lets you put more budget towards day-to-day operations.

It may sound counterintuitive, but companies that “run lean” or dedicate the lion’s share of budget to day-to-day operations may not be able to sacrifice the man hours necessary to develop, deliver, and maintain a training program. Outsourcing one is often significantly less expensive for the scale these organizations need.

4. Don’t have an internal expert, but need new internal expertise? No problem.

If you’re looking to strengthen existing SEO skills or build your company’s SEO expertise from the ground up, but aren’t ready to hire a search marketing manager just yet, finding a good SEO training course or bringing in an outside trainer can provide the skills you’re looking for.

It’s also useful for agencies hoping to offer full SEO services or building an SEO pilot program. Bringing in outside help to train up a few team members on key skills means you don’t need to invest in a net new hire for a program with an uncertain future.

5. Outsourced training makes it easier to reach a remote or multi-lingual team.

It’s as common to hear about companies expanding to open their first satellite office in Beijing as it is to hear that office is in Boston. Thanks to the Internet, today’s world is smaller than ever.

If yours is one of the many companies with international workers or a largely remote workforce, it can be hard to deliver training that’s equally accessible and applicable to everyone. In situations like this — and especially if you have a multilingual workforce — outsourcing training that’s available in various languages can be a great option.

6. Outsourcing may give you access to accreditations or certifications.

Many online and in-person SEO training programs include some sort of certification of completion or proficiency. If that’s a priority, you’ll want to purchase an in-person or online program from an organization with industry name recognition that offers a certification.

7. Outsourcing gives you access to the best quality educators.

Whether you’re a full-fledged Google algorithm guru or just know your way around a site crawl, no one can argue that you’ve got some SEO chops. You already know the material, so it should be no trouble to whip up some training based on your expertise… right?

Maybe, but maybe not. “Doing” skills are different than teaching skills; being skilled at SEO doesn’t automatically correlate to being skilled at teaching SEO. And, perhaps more importantly, teaching doesn’t automatically lead to learning. Just because you have knowledge to share doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be as successful as possible when helping your colleagues actually learn.

One of the biggest benefits of outsourced training is that it gives you access to professional educators, not just folks with practical experience who educate in their free time.

Outsourcing: the drawbacks

Now that we’ve covered some of the benefits of outsourcing training, let’s give in-house training the same treatment. What are cons of relying on a 3rd-party provider for your SEO training needs?

1. Only relying on outsourced education doesn’t give you any equity.

No, I’m not talking about link equity. The equity I’m referring to here is, metaphorically, the same kind of equity you get from buying a house versus renting an apartment.

As a renter, you’re only paying for access to the property — not an actual stake in it. Buying, on the other hand, may take more effort and investment upfront, but it gives you control (and ownership!) over the actual property itself.

What does this metaphor have to do with in-house versus outsourced training? Only relying on outsourced efforts means you’re continually paying someone else for access to their educational property. If you have training needs that span over many employees or many years, this can get very expensive. In those cases, while it may initially be more costly to develop training in-house, it’s a better long-term investment because of the ‘equity’ it provides.

2. Outsourcing training doesn’t always scale with growing businesses.

Plan ahead for the long-term: If you’re growing your organization and plan on having multiple people involved in creating optimized content for your website, it may be a better long-term investment to build in-house training that grows with your team.

3. Outsourced training generally focuses on best practices and one-size-fits-most processes.

Most training programs center on teaching “best practices” or general strategies. If you have a specific process or way of doing SEO, it may be difficult (if not impossible) for an outside trainer to communicate your optimization process — in your terms, using your tools — to your team. For some organizations, that alone may be enough to tilt the scales towards creating all training in-house.

4. Have specific content needs? Building your own curriculum may be your best bet.

Related to having unique processes, having specific content needs also may mean that outsourcing training isn’t the best bet for you. Only want to learn about optimizing content for mobile search engines and advanced link building strategies, but don’t want to have to pay for access to 30 other courses to get the two you do? While some training providers can build a fully custom program designed around exactly what you want to learn, many may come as standard “packages” with little flexibility around what you can learn as a whole or within each session.

5. Training for large teams often comes with a large price tag.

Almost any type of purchasable training program — be it pre-recorded videos, live sessions, in-person classroom experiences, or otherwise — are priced on a “per seat” basis. If your team either needs access to multiple sessions, you have many team members who’ll all need access to the same courses, or both, outsourced training can quickly get pricey.

6. Your access to training materials may be limited.

Some SEO training providers place legal restrictions on re-using the their training materials. This means you may not be able to record sessions, download slides, or distribute useful materials to your team. If sharing the educational love with your coworkers is a deal breaker for you, consider creating and running your SEO training in-house. If you’re still leaning towards using an outside provider, be sure to read their FAQs or legal materials before pulling the trigger.

Key questions to ask

While there are many benefits of outsourcing your SEO training needs, depending on your specific needs there may be an equal number of drawbacks. When considering the right training route for your team it’s worth taking the time to consider questions like:

  • How many people need to take this training right now? And over the next one to two years?
  • Do I have the internal expertise (or access to it) to create high quality training myself?
  • Will it cost me more to build training than it’s currently worth?
  • Will it take me longer to build training than value it will provide?
  • When do I need my employees trained by? Do I have time to wait, or is there an immediate need?
  • Do I need a general SEO training program, one that focuses on specific topics, or one that details my unique process?
  • Are the outsourced training options available to me worth the price? What do they include?
  • Is it important to get some sort of certification, badge, or other certificate of proficiency upon completion of the training?

The answers to these questions may not give you a black-and-white answer as to whether building training in-house or finding an outside provider is the best choice for you, but they can help make the decision a bit less murky.

Thinking of going the outsourced route for some (or all) of your team’s SEO training? Check out Moz Academy’s online workshops and custom training options.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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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Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

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

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

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

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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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:

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!


Stage 1: Awareness

At MozCon 2013, I gave a talk called Beyond 10 Blue Links, documenting the diversity of Google features surrounding organic results. Many of us at Moz felt strongly that the world of SERP features could have a profound impact on search marketers, and so we started to catalog Google’s changes and collect the data to find out just how much SERPs were evolving.

In early 2014, we built a prototype to better understand how we could help customers track SERP features, but we discovered that most of our customers were unfamiliar with them. None of us knew, at the time, exactly what impact SERP features were having or how we should adjust our tactics. The idea of tracking possibly dozens of types of results was daunting, especially in an industry where most of us already wore too many hats.

So, we kept tracking the data, and we learned along with the industry. We also, I hope, contributed to that education. We built the infrastructure we knew we’d need down the road (much credit to our Silo team), even if we weren’t sure when the turn in that road would come. Eventually – and in large part due to the growth of Featured Snippets – we knew that our customers were ready.


Stage 2: Acceptance

As of August, 86% of the SERPs in our 10,000-keyword tracking set had some kind of non-organic feature (a Knowledge Panel, a Featured Snippet, Rich Snippets, a Local Pack, etc.). If you count ads and shopping results, that number goes up to 97% – the days of 10 blue links are long gone.

We recently did an analysis of over 400,000 search result interactions (thanks to Russ Jones) and found that SERPs with rich features send 28% fewer clicks to traditional organic results. At the same time, many of these features, including Featured Snippets, create new opportunities for non-traditional clicks. Either way, the impact on your SEO is very real, and it’s essential to understand what you’re up against.

The challenge in tracking SERP features, as an SEO, is that which features matter to you can vary wildly with your niche. I’ve seen a single feature radically impact traffic for some sites, while that same feature may have little or no impact on others. Once you’ve accepted the reality of SERP features, you have to understand how the landscape looks for your own industries and sites:

One of the first things you’ll see on the new SERP Features page is the overview. This graph shows the presence of features across your campaign, as well as the proportion of features that you’re listed in (where applicable). At launch, we support the 16 highest-impact desktop SERP features. Click on the pull-down above the graph, and you can pull up a Trended Analysis for any feature. Good news: we’ve already got a 60-day history available at launch.

It’s time to accept that SERP features really do exist, and dive into the details. Scrolling down, you’ll see a comprehensive list of your Campaign keywords along with your current ranking, plus the features those keywords displayed the last time we checked them:

The keyword list shows all of your campaign keywords, along with their rankings and a list of icons signaling which features appeared on those SERPs. Blue icons indicate that your site appears in the feature, red icons indicate your competitor is in it, and orange icons mean that you’re both listed (this might occur in multi-listing features, such as News Packs).

At the top of the page, you can narrow your list by keyword, label, location, or feature. Let’s say you just wanted to see keywords with Featured Snippets. Next to the funnel icon at the top, click [+], then select “SERP Feature” and choose one from the list:

The overview graph and keyword list are both filtered now, and you can explore whatever features are most applicable to your work.


Stage 3: Opportunity

So, what do you do with this knowledge? We’ve developed an insights system to help you answer that question. For example, if a keyword in your campaign currently displays a Featured Snippet, and you rank in the top 5 organic results, you’ve got a decent shot at being able to compete for that snippet. So, we call that out:

Click on any keyword with “Insights” to see possible opportunities. At launch, we highlight keywords with Featured Snippets, News Packs, Reviews, Videos, and Site Links (if you’re not currently listed in them). We hope to add more insights in the near future.


Bonus: Questions in KWE

Want to put this to the test today? Here’s a way to easily start tracking Featured Snippet opportunities. Go to Keyword Explorer, enter a term, view all results, and then, in the first pulldown select [are questions]. You’ll get a list of question suggestions related to your chosen search term:

Now, select the questions that interest you, and add them to your Campaign. We’ll start tracking Featured Snippets and other SERP features, and soon you’ll be discovering new opportunities to stand out from your competition.

Thanks to everyone involved on the Product and Design teams, and special thanks to our Silo team for putting the pieces in place over the past year to make tracking features possible. Please reach out to us with any comments or suggestions, and we hope you enjoy the new features!


Join our Launch Day Twitter Q&A Party!

Try it today and tweet questions (the occasional comment or rave also welcome!) to @Moz with #OwntheSERP. Questions will be answered in real-time throughout the day (ok, technically between 7:00 am and 4:00 pm US-PST) by one of our pros: @RandFish, @Dr_Pete, @BritneyMuller, @JontheExiled.

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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:

vc pe canva.png

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:

publishing media targeting canva.png

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:

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:

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):

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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