Local search is a powerful way for small business owners to reach new customers and generate leads. When a customer uses the internet to research products or services, they’re not just looking for any business—they’re looking for a business in their neighborhood or city. And you want to make sure your business is at the top of those local search results.
Although we don’t recommend any attempt at advanced techniques in this book, due to the amount of regular changes that happen in the world of SEO – we will give you enough information to understand exactly what it is that your provider is offering. To properly juggle the tasks necessary to accomplish your SEO goals – you should think of all the moving parts involved.
SEO doesn’t have to be confusing. Just think of the separate parts, and you’ll have a good idea of how we manipulate the search engine results – but altering parts of your website.
- Browser (the software you use to access the internet – not to be confused with a search engine, which is a website you visit to get search results. By default, many browsers are set to either Google, Bing, or MSN when you first open them – which is the cause of the confusion. The following are browsers:
- Google Chrome
- Microsoft Edge
- Mozilla Firefox
- Microsoft Internet Explorer
- Search Engine
- Search Engine Results
- Search Engine Results Page
I’ll describe each piece individually, along with how they all fit together in general.
Your browser is the software installed on your computer that allows you to access the internet. When you open the software, many times the first thing you see is the search engine – which can be confusing to some users. Although we won’t go into much detail in this book – there are many great resources online that you can review to learn more about the differences.
The search engine’s purpose – is to go out on the internet, and provide ‘results’ for what you would like to find. If you type in a request, the search engine will check it’s ‘index’ – and post the results for you on your computer. Although these results aren’t 100% live, they reflect a lot of work that is completed by the search engine to properly ‘index’ billions of search results – and rank them in proper order depending on the search request.
The results page is the output of a variety of equations and algorithms built with the express purpose of delivering the best (right) content every time, and to penalize people who try to cheat the system.
For search engines to be relevant – they need to continually produce quality results, or a competitor will start to take advantage – and grab more traffic for their search services. At the advent of the internet – there were many search engines, but with it’s simple interface – Google jumped to the top of the list, and became the search engine of choice for nearly a decade now.
Each page of your website could have up to 20 different variables, and if you have 20 pages on your website – you have a total of 400 pieces of “on-page” information that must be individually altered and then measured, then re-altered, and measure again. The measurements happen once per month – but there are times when the results from search engines don’t publicly release until 3+ months have passed. Any changes that you’ve done to your website must be meticulously documented – so that you can return to the information after several months have passed.
When you look at your website, any visible (or invisible, coded) elements are considered on-page. Every other metric, whether you’re measuring the number/volume of links from other websites, links from social networks, reviews in Google/Yelp/Yahoo/etc., or considering the relation between government or organization websites – you’re looking at “Off-Page Metrics”. These measurements are a lot more difficult to control, as you could be linked to a ‘bad’ website – that has a miserable reputation, and could be in a different country. Removing that link would require a lot of time and effort by someone who doesn’t have experience in the procedures necessary to successfully complete the removal. You could have an article written about your company that doesn’t have a link to your website, and there’s a chance that you may be able to contact the author to request a link to a specific page on your website. You could ensure that each post you send out on social networks has a link to information on your own website, which can help as well.
A link from your website to another might be ‘shoving your customer out the door’ – but if you create the link correctly, you are helping your customer – along with boosting your ranking in search engines. Remember that search engines just want their users to get to the right information as quickly as possible.
If a website is ranking well, and you send a visitor from your website to the higher-ranking website – search engines see this connection, and the ‘trust-factor’ is boosted on your website. If a high-ranking website links to you – the link also adds trust. An easy way to think of this connection, is to imagine your website being covered by gold dust. When one of your visitors enters your website – they gather a bit of that gold dust on their shoes. If you send them to another website, they track that gold dust over to the other website – increasing the value of that transaction. If you want to gain more gold dust at your website – all you need to do, is increase the volume of links at high ranking websites! That increases the potential of your website visitors bringing as much of that gold dust back to your website as possible. But, don’t forget what search engines are looking for… they want users to find the right information! So, when you create a link on a social network, business listing, or other high ranking website, make sure to link to a page with information that will help your brand-new, gold dust tracking customer!
Well, if the internet is a library – the search engine is the librarian, and your customers are the people asking the librarian to find some information for them. Your website is simply a single book in this massive library. I mean, every website in the world is a separate book – so you can imagine it takes a while for the librarians to read YOUR book, along with every change to every ‘book’ on the planet.
With social networking, people posting pictures of their meals, and altogether too many selfies online, the library is growing out of control.
The librarians are extremely busy, sorting this information – and cataloging an endless flow of data for search engines to work properly.
When you simplify the overall situation to these small pieces, I can easily explain how each part can be used to help market your company online. “How do you get to the top of Google?” you might ask, and I can easily say:
“The librarian has to effectively read your book, take notes, and verify pieces of information to be ready the next time someone asks for related information.”
If the librarian was an actual person, your website would never hit the top of the list. At the rate of data expansion in 2017, and forecasted into the future
– it would never even reach a search engine at all. There is no possible way for humans to sort this information on time. Fighting against this stream, you should ensure your website has the proper elements to be quickly read and understood by the search engines.
- Title Tag (Book Title)
- Heading (Headline/Chapter Name)
- Content (What is the book ‘about?’)
- Images (Are there pictures?)
- Meta Description (Short description in dust cover)
- Geographic Location (Where?)
- Update Frequency (when was the book published last?)
These are a few of the factors that are used by search engines to sort and rank your website, but this list goes much further – with nearly 200 factors involved in the detailed listing for your website on the search engine results page.