In 2014, Google once again shook up the search industry with a new algorithm update that gave more prominence to maps and review directory sites. Google Local was the main focus of the new algo called Pigeon. Even though this new update which was meant to improve Google’s search parameters on Maps was essentially aimed at the US market, most experts agree it’s also a pre-cursor for Europe and beyond. Most SEO industry leaders know full well that when Google implements anything new in the US, it is likely to reflect on the rest of the world anyway. With that in mind, we will be covering how important it is now to think about your own Google Local account here in Spain. What many don’t realise is that Google Maps acts just like it’s counterpart Google Search – it is in fact a powerful search engine as well.
The Nerds at Google
As someone in the marketing profession, it still surprises me when I hear people talking about cheating Google. In many cases, those with little patience trying to desperately make money online or attain clients will sometimes navigate to the dark side – otherwise known as Black Hat SEO. What they don’t realise is that Google is prepared; the nerds who work at Google simply can’t be beat…at least for very long.
Yes it’s certainly true that you can get away with certain tactics not in tune with Google’s guidelines; but it’s only a matter of time until things catch up with you. Imagine for one moment, you’re online business is flying high, money is rolling in, clients are being successfully retained, when suddenly you wake up one morning only to find that your site has been removed from Google’s search index.
To be more laymen, and get the point across; you go to type in your website name in the search engine only see that you are no longer listed there. That’s how serious Google is. They know it was no accident, and they know you knew full well what you were getting into. The best advice to give here is just don’t do it. Why risk everything you’ve obviously worked hard for?
So the next couple of questions on your mind are how do you make your site stand apart or just really awesome? And, how do you take full advantage of Google Local in 2015? The short answers are relatively straightforward:
1. Make your site is user friendly
2. Earn the best possible links for your site
3. Basic onsite optimisation (SEO)
4. Mobile friendly site
They really are short answers, but here’s the really important thing; Google has been telling us for years how to make the best possible website in order to rank well. Not to shocking I suppose if you’ve been paying attention to the right sources. Unfortunately there are far too many purported marketing pros out there telling business owners to do the exact opposite of what Google wants…let me assure you this is in only their best interest. You see, the faster they can get you to number one on Google first page, the more likely you are to keep paying them to hold it there. It’s just a vicious circle.
Matt Cutts Top SEO Mistakes
Here’s how you get noticed and ranked on Google
If you’re serious about SEO and marketing your business online, then start with your website. Take a good look. Then, take a close look at your competitors website. What’s different? Really ask yourself how it is that your competitor is ranking on first page of Google. You have to keep in mind that your potential customers will be reviewing several sites for what they need; therefore, it’s up to you to make sure your site is the best in your niche.
Here are some common mistakes you should avoid; even though they seem quite basic, you’d be surprised to learn just how many sites make these common pitfalls, quite possibly even some of your direct competitors.
1. Very little or no content on the homepage
It’s still shocking to see this in 2015, considering that Google has be un-wavering in their guidelines for years. Content on the homepage is very important for two reasons – it gives your potential clients a better understanding of what to expect, and it helps the search engines understand as well. The first 100 words of text on your homepage is actually crawled by Google and considered in the rankings. So, even though it might look cool and pretty to have that slideshow, flash or video on the homepage, it won’t hurt to put in some welcome text and a heading.
2. No onsite blog
Again, we can’t stress enough the importance of useful content on your website. To get you have to give a little. Give your clients some helpful information and become the authority or go to people in your niche. Have a look at your major competitor, see what they are doing with their blog or online help; then match wits and steal away those clients!
3. Too many keywords or spammy keywords
This still goes on even though it’s only a matter of time before they are caught. Stuffing your title tags or meta description and even your content with a ridiculous amount of keywords is futile. Remember the nerds at Google? Yeah, well they don’t get out much and made sure to include something in their algo updates that would catch this…it’s called Penguin & Panda, and I suggest you learn about both of them.
Even though we still see a lot of these types of sites trying to fool the engines, we take solace in the fact that many have learned their lesson as well. For example, in 2014 Google’s link removal requests climbed to an astonishing 345 million. This means, Google’s updates and penalties are working, and people are finally starting to get it.
Just how important is Google Local to Your Business?
Google expects certain on-site signals, and local optimisation is one of them. If you don’t include your own local information on your website, you are missing out. Make sure your website is correctly optimising for local areas.
If you own a shoe shop in Fuengirola or Marbella – then tell it! “Marbella shoe shop” is just one basic way, it’s more common sense than anything else. Here are a few more tips to help you get started on local optimisation:
Include the city you reside in, in one of your title tags (most important page would suffice)
Include the city name in a heading tag like H1 or H2
Include the city name in your content
Include the city name in alt image tags (don’t forget about Google images…they rank too!)
Google has a lot to be proud of, they’ve certainly paved the way in innovation and continue to lead on the world search engine forum. Google alone is responsible for over 80% of the searches online. YouTube as well has become a major search engine in itself. Google+ however, well, we can get to that another day. Therefore; if you want to successfully market your online business, you need a few very important things as stated above:
1. Obviously you need a website
2. An optimised website
3. Social Media Connections
4. Google Local & Google Maps (keeping in mind you must optimise for local)
Number four is where we come into play with our virtual tours. But, just how important is Google Local for your online marketing efforts?
Featured: 7 Free SEO Tools You Should Be Using
Do you want to do well in Google Local in 2015?
Is your business listed on Google Maps? Is your site optmised? Is your site mobile friendly? Answer these questions with a yes, and you’re almost there. Don’t forget, a virtual tour is a great way to attract new customers as well, and connects with Google Maps and Local. So for now, the stage is set, you know what you have to do in order to be successful online in 2015. Your online marketing is essential to any branding campaign you have in mind. You can use several tools to help as well, but we can’t stress enough how important it is to be fully optimised. Keywords are vital, and don’t forget that your city of location is a keyword too.