What Makes Sense For the Future of Local Marketing on the Internet?
I've spent the last few months really digging into what Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird - and whatever other Google-inspired animal kingdom program means in its quest to take over the world. At this point, I would have to say Google certainly controls the Internet world. The ripple effects over the last year from these programs has shaken up what the traditional small business SEO industry used to know about marketing their clients on the Internet.
Despite all the technology and coding behind this, what Google is doing makes sense to me. Google’s bottom line mission is to generate the best search results possible to retain and increase their global audience. That, in turn, sustains and increases its Adwords revenues. Simple as that. As the Internet matures, it will continue to take advantage of whatever tools out there to accomplish this. Thus, we are seeing a logical alignment of site load speed, the quality of a site's content, what others are saying about you online, and how consistent backlinks and citations are as all major factors for Internet local marketing in 2015.
Content Will Always Remain Supreme...
Local marketing of a business website used to be a matter of paying attention to details for content following what I keep calling it - logic. The original premise of search engine indexers was to “logically” run through a website picking up keywords and phrases then plugging those numbers into an algorithm that generated the best search results. In the not too distant past, SEO marketers simply had to be a bit creative in employing a number of varying techniques to get these words packed in anywhere they could without damaging the integrity of the actual read of the content. Of course, there has always been more detail to it than this but overall it was a matter of paying attention to the details and following SEO best practices.
However, content is now being looked at differently. It’s always been about content and it still is. Where search engine indexers started out being very rudimentary, over time they have improved to steadily take into account keyword “stuffing” and other means employed to get that first page first position everyone seeks. Google is finally doing a good job of weeding out sites that are simply at the top because somebody put the most effort into cramming content everywhere it can and employing other slightly to blatantly back-handed techniques to get them there.
I like to say that Google’s updates to its indexer over the last 8 months have advanced to the point of defying logic in the areas of being able to more decipher “naturally written” content. These updates also penalize many of the accepted former “white-hat” techniques all of us SEO marketers used to use to market our clients. Now, instead of trying to pack a long list of desired keyword phrase content into a limited amount of webpages, it is looking for a pattern of continual pertinent subject matter content spread out naturally throughout a site.
I feel the only really effective recommended means to do this now is to implement a blog program and maintain it. With this blog program you'll want to pay attention to how it is crafted, or wordsmith’ d, by putting continual thought into keeping on subject using primary keyword phrases and geo-references "naturally" throughout the article. For example, talking about this subject of "local internet marketing" in conjunction with using a geo-reference in the article. An example would be:
“We recently performed a complete internet local marketing campaign for a HVAC company in Newport News. Something we found interesting about marketing this client was…”
Not only did I use a good example for this article, with this being a blog post we just helped our own indexing for "local marketing" and "Newport News" - one of the regional cities we service and want to index better in. The phrase and geo-reference reads naturally and is not repeated excessively or "forced".
What Others Say About You...
With the solidification of social media and customer review sites within the fabric of the web, it makes common sense that Google would also index what is being said by the public about a company’s products and services as part of its ranking criteria. Why not tap into this information to generate the most reputable businesses at the top of a search return based on positive or negative reviews? At this moment, it is not a large factor in ranking, however there is too much talk about it becoming so. As more people use the Internet to express their level of satisfaction with a company's product or service, I can guarantee that this will become critical probably within weeks or months of this post.
Review sites are also within the realm of generating backlinks or "citation" links back to your business website. In the big picture, it is critical to have a very consistent name, address and phone (NAP) format to better identify your particular business to increase what is known as your domain authority. The extreme consistency of this format solidifies your particular business as unique in Google's eyes and not to be confused with any other similar business type or name as yours that may be out there. The more of these consistent citations linking back to you the better. Domain authority criteria is also becoming a larger Google ranking factor.
Adapting To The Changes
So, quite frankly, it seems Google is now encouraging - more like forcing - the Internet to work for its reward. In the past we could post a website with some basics of detail and best practices employed and expect a reasonably effective result in traffic to the site. Now, it takes that foundation - which still applies strongly - and forces pro-activity in generating reviews and adding continual quality content to the site. This, in conjunction with a creative and consistent social media presence.
Businesses that take the time and/or expense to adapt to and follow these new guidelines will be rewarded. Those that don’t, I'm afraid will be left behind.