Google Analytics

Google My Business for Your Business [Summary of Search]

Businesses thrive when they have an effective way for customers to find them on Google – the search engine most frequently used by your future customers. One of the most effective ways to ensure your business is found is with citations.

A citation is any mention of your business online. A structured citation is a mention of your business on a directory such as Google My Business or Yelp, and an unstructured citation is your business information (NAP: Name, Address, Phone Number) that is not in a business directory; this could be anything from an article about your company or a mention of your business on a vendor’s website. Citations are important for Local Search, as they give search engines your business information across the internet. If you want to rank in Google’s Map Pack, you’ll want to start by making sure your Google My Business (GMB) listing is properly optimized and maintained. Here’s how:

  1. Who Owns Your Listing? If you’re not sure who owns your GMB listing, or you don’t remember which email address you claimed it under, don’t worry! You can request ownership by creating a Google My Business account and searching for your business listing. If it’s already claimed, you can request ownership at this point, and if it isn’t claimed you can request a postcard be mailed to your business address to verify you are who you say you are, and this business is indeed yours.
  2. Search For Duplicate Listings. SEOs know there is nothing search engines hate more than an incorrect NAP on a citation listing. Second to that would be duplicate listings. Google looks at duplicate listings for a business, picks which one they like best (regardless if the information is correct or not) and shows that listing in search. So, how can you tell if you have a duplicate business listing in Google? It’s simple: search for your address and select Maps results. This will show every Google My Business listing for that location. If you see a duplicate of your business, you can claim this listing and merge it with the correct one.
  3. Is Your Map Marker Correct? There is nothing more frustrating as a user than finding incorrect information on a business listing. Wrong hours of operation, a listing for a business that is no longer at the address, and the dreaded map marker location. When users are getting directions to your business address, they’ll often look at your listing in maps to see where you are located. Especially if the user is familiar with the area in which your business is located, they may skip the directions altogether. Make sure your map marker is in the correct place by updating your correct address in your listing information and moving the map marker to the correct spot. Trust me, your users will appreciate it!
  4. Optimize Your Listing. Optimizing your Google My Business listing is a lot easier than it sounds. You want to make sure your business name is correct, your address and phone number are correct, and as we covered above, your map marker is in the correct place. Additionally, you want to make sure the correct business categories are selected so users know exactly what your business does. Make sure your hours of operation are correct and add additional hours of operation for holidays so your customers know when they can and cannot reach you. Add images of your business so users will know when they’ve found you, and add attributes so they know what features you offer! GMB also recently brought back the description section so you can tell users more about your business. Be careful, though; getting too crazy with keywords can cause Google to hide your listing in search. A good rule of thumb is to not leave any field blank, but to keep your listing as organic as possible!
  5. Keep Responding To Your Reviews. This is arguably the most difficult part of maintaining a Google My Business listing. Fortunately, every time you get a review Google will email you at the email address in which you claimed your listing. However, many business owners find this task daunting, especially if they are getting negative reviews. Think of it this way: you can’t make every customer happy. Users know that, and typically find businesses with 100% five-star reviews untrustworthy. Negative reviews are a normal part of doing business, and responding to these reviews show you care about customer service. Google My Business is a platform for unhappy customers to come and express their frustrations with your business, and how you respond says a lot about you. Don’t offer coupons or discounts for the customers to return to your business; instead, express your concerns and give them a phone number or email address to contact you directly to resolve the issue. This turns a negative review to a positive experience and shows Google you’re interacting with your customers which helps boost your rankings. It’s a win, win!
  6. User Suggested Edits. Google allows users to suggest edits to business listings directly from search. This means if I know a business location offers bathroom access, has a different phone number, or the listing is missing a suite number, I can suggest the update directly from search. When you log into your GMB account you’ll find a yellow banner across the top of your listing prompting you to approve user suggested edits for your business. Sometimes, Google will publish these edits if they go unapproved by the business owner, or if the listing is unclaimed. So, it’s very important for business owners to be checking in on their listing frequently to make sure their listing information isn’t being changed.

Making sure your Google My Business listing is properly optimized (and stays that way!) is the first step to achieving local search rankings. Google My Business is just one piece to a very extensive puzzle, but once you master your Google My Business listing you can easily begin claiming and optimizing other local citations for your business. Want to know more about Local Search? Give us a call and we’ll help guide you through the process!

4 Reasons Why Organic Traffic Can Stay the Same – Even When Rankings Go Up [Summary of Search]

The amount of organic traffic coming to a website is an important measurement of SEO success, but several factors can mean fluctuations – or even decreases – while rankings are stable.

  1. Four Ads at the Top

In the last year, Google has removed text ads from the side of their search engine results pages (SERPs) and placed up to four at the top. For many competitive queries, this means less visibility. In many cases, the #1 organic position is now below the fold! That dramatic shift in position means fewer clicks. According to a 2014 study, these are the percentage of clicks a listing can expect in each of Google’s top 5 positions:

1 – 29%

2 – 15%

3 – 11%

4 – 7%

5 – 5%

 

The dynamics change considerably when more ads push a number 2 position down to where it might receive 7% or 5% of the clicks! For many competitive keywords we are tracking, this is the most dramatic shift we’ve seen for organic traffic. It is also possible to “cannibalize” your organic traffic with PPC where your site was already at the top. So be careful out there, and check your most important SERPs.

 

  1. Search Volume has Decreased

Another reason organic traffic can decrease is due to trends or seasonal fluctuations. Many businesses do have seasons, and Year-over-Year traffic is the better measurement. And don’t forget to check https://trends.google.com/ for trends in the queries your visitors might be using.

 

  1. Organic Traffic Counted as Direct Traffic

There are a few ways that organic traffic can show up as direct traffic. If it’s a mystery as to why organic traffic is decreasing, check direct traffic in Google Analytics. Where direct traffic is soaring, Google Analytics may not be seeing the true source (aka referrer) of the traffic. There may be a couple of reasons:

 

– Redirects

We’ve seen many strange redirects over the years, enough that this is worth mentioning. Referrer information can be removed when redirects are done via programming languages, or even in a chain of redirects that cross to HTTPS and back.

 

– Certain browsers block information

There have been periods in which Safari blocked referrer information. On sites with heavy IOS traffic, the effect is easier to spot. But for many sites, this can be a difficult blip to locate.

 

  1. Decreased Number of Pages or Products

For eCommerce sites that have dropped product lines for business reasons, eventually, a loss of organic traffic for those keywords will be seen. Pages that are redirecting or missing will eventually drop from Google’s index – and organic traffic can suffer. However, if you are trimming low-quality pages, that is certainly worth the short-term decrease in your traffic! Quality is still king, and Google can see if a page is being visited, shared or linked to. So don’t stop pruning your site.
These four situations explain the cases we’ve found where rankings might stay the same (or even improve) with no commensurate increase in organic traffic numbers. Be sure to check this list next time you find yourself wondering,”Where did all of the Organic traffic go?”

Speed is Everything [Summary of Search]

Page loading speed has great importance with Google these days. From mobile visitors to Googlebots, every visitor will appreciate a speedy experience. Here are some ideas to keep in mind:

1. Rise of mobile

The importance of mobile can be seen in Google’s announcements the last few years. Mobile users are more impatient than ever, and Google provided stats last week regarding just how impatient mobile users are:

– The average mobile page takes 22 seconds to load, but 53% of users leave after 3 seconds!

– Even mobile landing pages in AdWords were found to take 10 seconds loading time.

There are many easy changes available for sites to make, as the answer isn’t always in purchasing a faster web server. Google’s own analysis found that simply compressing images and text can be a “game changer”—30% of pages could save more than 250KB that way.

2. Ranking factor

A few years back, Google made page speed a small ranking factor – or at least they were finally explicit about it being a ranking factor. Since page speed issues aren’t given the exposure of crawl errors and other items in Google Search Console, it can be easy to put them on the “long list” of items to fix. Its addition as a ranking factor is a great signal that this needs to be prioritized.

3. Bounce rate

Nice try, loading up your site with images that take forever to load. Unfortunately, that doesn’t increase the duration of site visits. It just makes people angry. According to Google’s analysis, every second of loading time, from 1 to 7 seconds, increases the chance of a bounce by 113%! Many SEOs believe that “engagement metrics” such as bounce rate could also be a ranking factor. And it makes sense: When Google sees a rise in organic bounce rate, they know human visitors are judging the content. How could Google not take this data into account?

4. Crawl rate

In one recent test, increasing page speed across a site dramatically increased the site’s crawl budget. Slower sites can be overwhelmed by crawl activity. But if you ever feel the need to put a crawl delay in your robots.txt, take that as a warning sign. After all, even reasonably fast sites can often need more crawl budget.

Tools and Fixes

Luckily there are remedies. Some can be quite easy, such as adding compression to your web server. Others might require a trip to Photoshop for your site’s images. However, some items will not be worth fixing. Try to concentrate on the easiest tasks first. Run an analysis of your site through these two tools and see what you need to fix:

Google’s newest tool:

Test how mobile-friendly your site is.

GTmetrix.com features include a “waterfall” showing which page items load at which stage, history, monitoring, and more.

Good luck and enjoy optimizing the speed of your site!