How to Find and Fix Inaccurate Citations for a Local Business

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How to Find and Fix Inaccurate Citations for a Local Business
How to Find and Fix Inaccurate Citations for Local Businesses

When it comes to improving visibility and getting found online, local citations play a critical role for local businesses. Remember, a local citation is any mention of a business’ name, address, and phone number (NAP) online. There are several ways to optimize business listings online, but consistent NAP data is at the basis of all high-quality citations. In fact, 73% of consumers lose trust in a local business when they find incorrect information about the business online.

When a consumer searches from their mobile device, a citation is often one of the first results that appears. This could be a Google Map listing, Yelp review or even the Facebook Page. This occurs because these citations have more influence than the business’ website. If multiple NAP variations appear when searching, it can have a significant effect on the business.

The amount and quality of these citations also impact how search engines evaluate and rank the business’ websites. The more high-quality citations a business has from high-authority websites, the better.

Steps a Business Owner Can Take to Find and Fix Inaccurate Local Citations
Step 1: Find the Business’ Citations

It’s impossible to clean up citations if you don’t know where to look for them. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools to help businesses locate their online listings. Our free Online Visibility Report is a great starting point for identifying these citations. Local businesses can also search online to see if their information is up-to-date in individual directories.

Step 2: Identify Inconsistencies

Depending on how “dirty” a business’ citations have become, there may be several variations of its NAP data online. Before bad data can be corrected, all variations should be identified and recorded – ideally in a spreadsheet for easy tracking. When looking for inconsistencies that need to be cleaned up, consider whether the physical address, phone number or website address have changed over the years.

Next, determine exactly how you want the business’ information to appear online. Inaccurate NAP directly affects local search rankings, so it’s vital that all information found in business listings matches the information provided on the business website.

Tips for Locating Bad Data that Needs to be Fixed

Search for each of the NAP variations listed in your spreadsheet to see what turns up.
Search for the phone number with the name of your company in quotations, preceded by a minus symbol to identify citations with inaccurate business names.
Search for listings with outdated NAP data (perhaps an old phone number or address if the business has ever relocated).
Find listings with incorrect phone numbers by searching for variations of the number accompanied by the company name, preceded by a plus symbol.
Include the business name, address and phone in quotation marks for an exact match.
Place a minus symbol before a quoted element to exclude it from search results.
Use Google’s “site:” function to search specific websites for business listings. For example, to search for a listing on Yelp, simply enter: Site: yelp.com “company name”

Be sure to create a list of all inconsistent citations and exactly what data needs to be fixed on which websites. Ideally, include the link to the listing that needs to be corrected.

Step 3: Prioritize Fixing Primary Data Sources

To make the best use of your time, start by cleaning up data on the most important sites. Data aggregators, for instance, provide information to directories and search engines. So by submitting updated, accurate listings to aggregators like Factual, Acxiom, InfoGroup and Localeze, business owners can nip (part of) the problem in the bud by fixing the source.

The online data ecosystem is complex and it can take time for changes to appear, so we recommend that business owners deal with the most important citations individually. Some websites allow businesses to manually update listing information, while others require that the owner requests a change or correction by contacting the site by phone or email.

Some examples of popular local directories that should always be kept up-to-date include Yelp, Superpages and Judy’s Book. Here’s a sampling of the top directories we recommend:

Advice Local’s Data Amplifier Network

Take a peek at our entire Data Amplifier Network here.

Step 4: Build More Quality Citations

When creating new citations, the listing information must be identical to ensure a consistent online presence for the business.

Submit business listings to data aggregators, business directories and local Chamber of Commerce websites. Other sources for building citations include review websites and social media. Although some local directories generate listings based on data from aggregators, business owners also have the option to manually submit information to directories themselves.

Still not sure if the business you represent is being affected by inaccurate citations? Download our free guide, The Complete Guide to Local Citation Audit and Cleanup, for more detailed instructions and information on how to protect a business from bad data online.

How to Find Local Citations - Free guide

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Mastering Reputation Management and Online Reviews

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Mastering Reputation Management and Online Reviews
Online Reviews and Reputation Management

This modern, technological world we live in, a world where online reviews can be published in a second, is a bit of a double-edged sword. In one regard, it’s a wonderful thing. It enables us to share and view information instantly, and it gives businesses a chance to appeal to a much wider audience than ever before.

Mastering Reputation Management and #Reviews by @BernieColeman #SEO #Business
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4 Tips for Managing Online Reviews

On the other hand, however, it can spread all information, especially negative information, in the blink of an eye. So, one person’s bad experience could lead to a multitude of people having an unfortunate and incorrect view of a business. Fortunately, businesses don’t have to fall victim to the “curse” of bad reviews; there are actions that will allow the business to take control.

1. Monitor the Online Reviews and Mentions of a Business Across the Internet

Perhaps the most important rule of dealing with online reviews is to know what’s being said about the business. Reviews can be written and published in under a minute, and the longer they stay online without comment or intervention, the longer they are able to impact the public’s view of the business.

As such, the online review sites that feature the business should be checked daily or if possible, multiple times per day. Setting up Google Alerts will send a notification email anytime the name of the business is mentioned online. And if there’s not enough time to check review sites in-house, hire a person or a service to do it.

Remember, when it comes to managing a business and its online reputation, knowledge is power!

2. The Right Way to Request Online Reviews

A lot of people, regardless of how satisfied they are with a business and its products or services, normally don’t take the time or even think about writing a review unless it is suggested they do so.

When a client expresses satisfaction, thank him or her and provide links to selected review sites. Do not say specifically “please put this review on XYZ,” but the client can be thanked and be told that the business would appreciate their additional comments on one of these review sites. Sending out an automated email to clients requesting feedback about their experience after they have purchased products or services is another way to get online reviews.

Be careful when requesting reviews. If the review sites suspect a business is soliciting reviews they will remove them, and give that business a digital hand slap.

3. Be Proactive in Responding to Online Reviews

Getting a negative review is never fun, but it’s part of being in business. If someone happens to relate a less-than-favorable experience with the business, don’t panic. One or two bad reviews can actually work out favorably.

For starters, having a few negatives peppered in among the positives makes a business seem real, and doesn’t give off the vibe that it is actually testimonials being posted and used as reviews. Secondly, how the business responds to these reviews – hopefully with sincere apologies and problem solving responses – can make the business look good.

However, if the business starts accumulating more negative online reviews than positive ones, it may be time to look at business practices, and potentially into professional reputation management assistance.

4. Simplifying the Process with Tools and Apps

These days, there are many tools that give users the chance to relate their experiences about a business on a wide range of review sites via a quick click on their mobile device. Keeping up with all of these sites can seem next to impossible at times.

Make sure to take advantage of the tools and apps available through review sites, plus third-party tools. Schedule a demo TODAY to learn about our reputation management tool.

All-in-one Reputation Management Dashboard

What tips do you have for managing online reviews? Share and join in the conversation!

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Google’s Hawk Update Tackles Visibility Issues Affecting Local Businesses

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Google’s Hawk Update Tackles Visibility Issues Affecting Local Businesses
Google’s Hawk Update Tackles Visibility Issues Affecting Local Businesses

Google’s latest algorithm update is once again shaking up local search results – and this time it’s great news for local businesses! The new Google Hawk update directly affects local SEO and could mean better online visibility for local businesses. More specifically, it’s designed to level the playing field for businesses in close proximity to their competitors.

Google’s Hawk Update Tackles Visibility Issues Affecting Local Businesses via @Advice_Local
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Let’s take a closer look at what all the fuss is about.

What is Google’s Hawk Update?

Hawk is an algorithm update designed to improve the geo-filtering Google uses to surface organic local search results. This means Google is now better at identifying when similar business listings are duplicates that should be ignored and when they’re actually two separate businesses that just happen to be near each other.

Why Is Hawk Important for Local Businesses?

Before Hawk, a business’ online visibility could be negatively affected by a similar business with a nearby address. In fact, one business could inadvertently dominate local search results, leaving all nearby competitors off the results page for no good reason.

For example, if two restaurants are on the same street, Google would sometimes mistake the two business listings for a single restaurant with a duplicate listing. Of course, Google doesn’t want to show duplicate listings in search results, which means only one of the two restaurants would appear in local SERPs when diners searched for places to eat.

Hawk is Google’s Response to Good Intentions Gone Bad

Allowing one business to fully knock competitors out of search results is obviously not ideal for the businesses or local consumers, so why did Google introduce this filter in the first place?

Originally, the filter was developed to prevent unscrupulous businesses from dominating search results by creating multiple listings. Unfortunately, this backfired and led to some businesses being dropped from local search results altogether.

We already know that Google is serious about tackling duplicate business listings, which is why this Hawk update is so important. The update will allow Google to target and penalize duplicate business listings without harming innocent local businesses in the process.

Hopefully, any local businesses that were affected by the filter before Hawk will soon get the boost in local search results they deserve.

Local Presence Management - Request a Demo

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Local Search Made Easy: 5 Must-Haves for Local Success

Blog – Advice Local
Local Search Made Easy: 5 Must-Haves for Local Success
Local Search Made Easy

Welcome back! We’ve been on a journey back to the basics of search engine optimization (SEO). It’s always good to reinforce a solid foundation so we can build something even greater on top of it. As you may know I have an affinity for local search, and since we’ve been reviewing best practices for SEO, you probably had an idea that a Local SEO series was soon to come.

Local businesses, even those attached to a greater regional or national brand, have a unique opportunity to reach their nearby target audience in search. They have the chance to convert on what Google refers to as the Micro-Moment. Immediacy often drives traffic locally; people need something and they need it now. (Learn more about Micro-Moments in this research paper.)

56 percent of on-the-go searches have local intent
82 percent of smartphone users turn to a search engine to find a local business
82 percent of smartphone users check their phones in-store, when deciding what to buy

These are important moments for brands, to be there, to show up and have relevant information for these varied consumer searches. Sure, there are still searches for the basics like NAP data and business hours, but consumers are now looking for more details like product information and what is in-stock at a particular location.

This doesn’t happen without a strategy and plan in place. Let’s take look at what it takes to have a solid local SEO strategy that brings in the traffic you need.

5 Must-Haves for Local Search Success by @BernieColeman #AdviceLocal #SEO
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Local Search Defined

We often talk about local search engine optimization (SEO) or local search but rarely place a definition with it. As a subset of SEO, it has a geographical-based focus. To put it simply:

Local SEO is the process of obtaining visibility and gaining traffic in search results on various search engines, for a geographic area.

So what does that mean in real terms? Last week a friend was traveling to a conference and her bag, with her phone and laptop chargers, was lost at the airport. (Nightmare city, right?)

Although she was afraid she was out of luck, with the last bit of juice in her phone she was able to conduct a search for electronics stores near the airport and her hotel. (This is a Micro-Moment.)

She caught a cab and was able to find exactly what she needed because that store prioritized being found. While there, she even picked up a few other items, meaning the store met her need and was able to gain additional sales because of that.

This is the essence of local search.

Be Found in Search Around Town

Digital marketing, especially SEO, can be downright overwhelming. There are so many questions that come up.

Why do my locations seem to have multiple listings?
Why are my review scores all over the place?
I thought we were already optimized, what happened?
Will social media help me?
What’s the ROI on all of this anyway, and how can I know for sure?

I like to keep things simple, so below is the highlight reel for a business to get found in local search results.

5 Must-Haves for Getting Found in Local Search

Maintain Accurate Business Listings Online. The Internet is full of business listings services, which are similar to the old school Yellow Pages. These include services, shops, companies and facilities within a given geographic area. It’s quite possible your business is already listed without your knowledge. This is a good time to take control of your online data and how your company is presented on these third-party websites. Many of these sites are eager for you to have you claim your listing, which more often than not, is a free process.
Manage Your Reputation on Review Sites. Websites like Google, Yelp and Foursquare encourage customers to leave reviews for companies they’ve done business with. These sites need to be checked often, to see how your business or businesses are currently rated. Be sure to take appropriate action, with responses to both negative and positive customer entries. Advice Local can help with this, too.
Optimize Your Website Content. Identify keywords customers are likely to use when searching for businesses in your industry and segment. Strategically include these words and phrases in your site’s content. This, along with other SEO activities, makes it easier for algorithms to crawl your site, meaning you have a better chance at higher search placement, which makes you discoverable, by potential customers in search results.
Utilize Social Media. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the like, offer excellent opportunities to engage with your current customers and target audiences. Build relationships on the proper social media channel, which is the site or sites frequented by those customers and prospects. Give them the information and content that keeps them coming back.
Track Your Performance. Many good applications exist to help you track your website’s performance, sites making referrals, social media, email offers and content downloads. The great thing is, many of these are free or have lower-cost options. You also want to find ways to measure conversions; sometimes, it’s as easy as asking the question. Once you can review this data and assess how you’re doing, you’ll know what steps you need to take to get better results.

We’re Just Getting Started

I hope you gained a bit of insight into the wonderful world of local search today. We’ll continue in the next post with a discussion about online business listings and the importance of monitoring a business’s reviews and the reputation for each one.

Whether you have one business or are the representative for multiple, Advice Local is here to help!

Local Business Listing Solution

What’s your favorite aspect of local search? How much success have you seen by focusing locally? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Be sure and come back each week for more local search news from the #QueenofLocalSEO.

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How to Future-Proof an SEO Strategy Against Google Algorithm Updates

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How to Future-Proof an SEO Strategy Against Google Algorithm Updates

Search engines like Google have one main job: to serve up relevant search results. In order to keep up with the latest technology (like smartphones) and consumer needs (high-quality, targeted, local search results), Google is continually improving the algorithms it uses to rank website content. This is great for consumers but makes things a bit more complicated for a local business trying to get found online.

These frequent Google algorithm updates mean SEO best practices are always changing. Although it’s impossible to predict Google’s next move with 100% certainty, there are steps businesses can take to future-proof their web presence as much as possible against upcoming algorithm updates.

How to Future-Proof a #SEO Strategy Against #Google Algorithm Updates by @BernieColeman
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Future-Proofing a Local Business’s Online Presence
Create Purposeful Content

Google wants to deliver the most relevant results to its users, which means providing specific, targeted content that matches a search query perfectly. Businesses that offer valuable content that Google can easily identify will perform well as the search giant gets better and better at distinguishing high-quality E-A-T content from low-quality content.

Each page of a business’s website should serve a specific purpose and each blog post should answer a specific question. Focusing on topics that matter to local consumers when possible is the best way to ensure Google will continue to serve the website to nearby customers when searching.

Maintain Consistency

Businesses that ensure their location details are identical across all major business directories, their website, and social media profiles are more likely to rank higher in search. Maintaining accurate NAP data (name, address, and phone number) is an important part of optimizing a website for local search.

Not only do inconsistencies hurt a business’s SEO and local search placement, but all signs point to Google continuing to prioritize local results for mobile consumers.

Go Mobile-First

I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about mobile, but the simple fact is mobile devices are not going away and Google’s new divided index displays separate search results for mobile and desktop users. As the mobile index continues to gain authority, it will be prioritized over the desktop index and receive more frequent updates. In future algorithm changes, Google will continue to reward websites that perform well on mobile devices.

Not only is a mobile-friendly website the new norm that consumers expect, it’s also necessary for ranking well on search engine results pages. A website should be designed with mobile users in mind going forward.

Be Vigilant

There are small Google algorithm changes rolling out all the time – many so subtle that you don’t even notice! But that doesn’t mean you can let your guard down. Business owners need to be ready to react and adjust their SEO strategy accordingly whenever the next big update is revealed.

The best defense against algorithm changes is to keep up with the latest SEO best practices. Remember to take the time to consider how any changes you make might impact a customer’s online experience.

Stay vigilant about local presence management and keep an eye out for new algorithm updates so you can respond as quickly and effectively as possible.

Are you prepared for the next big Google algorithm update? This free resource will get you started.
What is Local Presence Management

Be sure to come back each week for more local SEO strategies from the #QueenofLocalSEO.

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Local Presence Management: What a Local Citation Is and Why It Matters

Blog – Advice Local
Local Presence Management: What a Local Citation Is and Why It Matters
What is Local Citation

When it comes to marketing a local business online, local citations play an important role in improving SEO and boosting visibility in local search results. This is especially true in mobile search results. Most likely, this isn’t anything you haven’t read about before, but in 2017 this is even more significant.

As search engine algorithms continue to evolve and get smarter, we have to get smarter and more focused on where we build citations for local businesses. We’ll discuss this point more as we get further down in the post.

What a Local Citation Is and Why It Matters by @BernieColeman #AdviceLocal #SEO
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But First, What Is a Local Citation Exactly?

Here’s a simple definition:

A local citation is any mention of a business online that includes the business name, address, and phone number (often referred to as NAP).

Common citation sources include directory sites, data aggregators (i.e. Factual, Acxiom, Localeze, and Infogroup), Chamber of Commerce websites, social media, review sites such a Yelp, plus Google My Business and Bing Places. It’s important to note that a mention of the business on its own website doesn’t count as a citation.

A majority of citations include a link to the business’ website or additional information. Local citations are a valuable component of local SEO optimization regardless of whether they provide the business with a direct link. The benefits of citations go way beyond getting backlinks.

Why Citations Are Important for Local Businesses

Search engines use citations (among many other SEO factors) to gauge a business’ online reputation. So the more quality citations a business has online, the higher the business’ placement will be in local search engine result pages.

The prevailing mindset over the past decade has been that having more citations is always better, but this is no longer valid. In fact, low-quality citations, particularly those that link to your website, can negatively impact Google’s trust in the business. Rather than trying to improve a business’ online reputation through sheer volume, Advice Local focuses on identifying and targeting specific high-quality directories. We only submit local businesses to directories that meet the strictest of qualifications, which we determine based on 23 different metrics, including domain authority.

Another important characteristic of valuable sources is that they distribute their data across other directories and networks, thus acting as a data amplifier for local business citations. At Advice Local, we call this our Data Accelerator Network.

Recommended Citation Sources for Local Businesses

Here’s a sampling of citation sources that pass all our criteria and we submit to through our local presence management solution:

Advice Local’s Data Accelerator Network

How to Get Cited

It’s pretty simple to get cited, especially on directory sites. Many are free and will let the local business simply answer a few questions, verify they have permission, and upload a logo. As mentioned earlier, this doesn’t mean the business should want to be listed on every site possible. The process of optimizing a business listing on these sites requires time, attention and understanding.

For example, ensuring the business citation is 100% accurate is extremely important. And once a business is listed on a directory, ensuring the listing remains accurate and maintains a consistent NAP can be tedious. Oftentimes, businesses are listed on directories without even being aware of it. Having duplicate citations confuses customers, impacts trust among search engines, such as Google, and hurts the business more than it helps. Bad data is a real problem for local businesses. Here’s more about how bad data happens and how to fix it.

There are several companies that offer local listing management services, such as we do at Advice Local. When choosing a local listing management company to partner with, it’s important to closely evaluate their business practices, the methods they use to submit listings and the places to which they submit. Yext, for example, submits to some low-quality directories. They also use a technique that can create duplicate listings and override existing optimized listings with ones that are not optimized. When the business cancels Yext’s services, some of the new listings disappear and existing ones revert back to featuring bad data. You don’t have to take our word for it – check out this study conducted by Whitespark.

By now, you can see there’s a lot more to local citations than just getting listed! We didn’t even cover earned links, which refer to citations created naturally through mentions on the web, producing high-quality content that others want to link to and guest blogging.

Are you ready to take action? I recommend you start with generating an online visibility report. This will show you how many listings a business has online currently, highlight bad data issues and recommend a few next steps.

Free Online Visibility Report

Keep coming back for more local search news from the #QueenofLocalSEO!

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The Five-Step, Quick Start Local Content Marketing Plan

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The Five-Step, Quick Start Local Content Marketing Plan
Local Content Marketing Plan

To get local customers, you need a content marketing plan that is local focused. It’s time to review your activities. Assessing whether or not your efforts have delivered the results you expected is a necessary task. Even though many businesses regularly update their Facebook page and Twitter account, most do not know how to measure the return on their content marketing investments. A business must know what a “like” is worth, and how about the value of a “retweet” or a comment on the company blog?

Here’s the plain truth: you can’t make much headway in evaluating content marketing without first having a clear content marketing plan. For some business owners and managers, creating such a plan does seem overwhelming, and it doesn’t help that your email and social accounts bulge with messages promoting this or that blog post, eBook, tip sheet or seminar, each containing different ideas and advice on how to create a plan. This might seem too big to tackle but don’t worry, because there’s a solution …

Get Started Today with @BernieColeman’s Five-Step, Quick Start Local #ContentMarketing Plan
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Today I am glad to share my fast and friendly, DIY format plan for a basic content marketing strategy. True, it’s yet another piece of advice, but I promise that this one will make your content marketing focused and rational. This information will prepare you to efficiently separate the useful from the bluster in those emails that arrive each morning – and it won’t take too much time.

Five Steps to a Content Marketing Plan
1. The Goal – Identify the Action You Seek.

Note that “action” here means an observable behavior, not an attitude or a feeling. Got that? OK – now ask yourself this: What do I want people to do? Be specific! For instance, if you’re a florist with an attractive storefront you might want to generate more street traffic. If selling a service such as graphic design, you may want to draw potential customers to an online portfolio so they can see your work.

2. The Target Audience – Identify Who Can Give You the Action.

For the florist, people walking down his street or living near his shop are the ones who can give him what he wants, which is to come by and visit his store. For the graphic designer, it’s people who are online looking for graphic design services. (Remember, the target audience has specific characteristics. Avoid thinking of your audience as the “general public.”)

3. The Channel – Decide How to Reach Your Audience.

The florist, or indeed anyone with a physical store, is often best served by using local search. It’s a way to help people discover the shop when they search Google (or another search engine) for a florist. Businesses must also understand that local is being supercharged by mobile, and they really cannot be separated. 90% of U.S. customers now carrying mobile phones (I’m one of them, and willing to bet you are too!).

As Street Fight Insights puts it: “… the more ‘local’ a company is, the more there is to lose by not having a mobile plan at play.” The florist might also want to take out an ad in local shoppers and weekly newspapers, or even create an attractive poster to tack up on bulletin boards around town. (Yes, sometimes low tech still works.) The graphic designer could create a gorgeous Facebook page and then promote it with a few low-cost “boosted” posts.

4. The Content – Determine Your Offer.

Ask what will motivate the target audience to act when they see your Facebook page or find you through local search? Pay attention, because the answer to this question may cause you to rethink how you define your target audience. For example, the florist thought his audience consisted of people living and working near his shop. While that is logical, it isn’t focused. In fact, unless a person who lives in his area wants flowers, they are unlikely to visit his store. So the florist is actually better off refining his target audience to be those who live or work nearby AND who are looking for flowers. He might also stretch that a bit to include those who live/work nearby and who also need a convenient gift.

That refinement widens his target market and provides more opportunities for him to get creative with content marketing. This content could highlight the ease and speed of acquiring a quick hostess gift by stopping into the florist’s shop to buy flowers on the way to a dinner party. (Of course there is a great deal more to this step once you get deeper into the finer points of marketing strategy, but to get you started this will do!)

5. The Evaluation – Decide How You’ll Know If It Works.

This is the key question to ask at the beginning of content marketing planning. It is why we want to express the desired action in behavioral terms. If more local people come into the florist shop, then it worked, right? If more potential customers view the graphic designer’s portfolio, it worked. If the goal was achieved, was it due to the content marketing or some other reason? How do you know? That’s the challenge of the evaluation stage: connecting results to your content marketing activities.

In the case of the graphic designer it’s not too difficult to make the connections. Using free or low-cost metrics, she can track the numbers and demographics of people who first visited her Facebook page (where she offered her content) and then came to her website (where the portfolio is hosted). Further, she can identify which pieces of content were most effective in driving traffic to her site, and then refine her content marketing efforts going forward.

For the florist, things are more complicated. In planning his content, he will want to include ways of tracking consumer activity. He might, for example, include a different promo code in each piece of content so that he can identify the customers that came to his shop as a result of a particular search query. And as noted above, sometimes low tech still works: the florist might simply ask a purchaser how they heard about his shop!

Content marketing is just one component of a much bigger local search plan! Learn more about how Advice Local can help today!

Local Presence Management - Request a Demo

This post is part 1 in a five part series. Here’s the links to the other four posts:

Part 2 – Establishing Content Marketing Goals
Part 3 – Attracting the Right Target Audience
Part 4 – Determine the Offer
Part 5 – Measuring and Evaluating

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17 Blog Post Ideas for Creating Content that Drives Local Website Traffic

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17 Blog Post Ideas for Creating Content that Drives Local Website Traffic
17 Blog Post Ideas for Creating Content

Are you looking for ways to help local businesses get more traffic to their websites? Are your clients constantly telling you that they need more leads? What about getting placement in the top of Google search results?

With Google tightening up proximity searches in mobile and desktop search results, local businesses need to get more creative in how they drive local traffic to their business’ websites through organic search results.

Beyond having 100% optimized business listings around the web, being active on social media and emailing current customers, local businesses need to do more to rise above the competition.

What I’m referring to is not a paid social media campaign or PPC advertising (even though those are a great idea, too), but something more. It’s not new, it’s not ingenious, but it’s necessary.

I’m talking about blogging ­– creating content that will drive traffic to the business’ website. While some may feel blogging is an outdated practice or not right for their business, that’s not really the case.

17 #Content Ideas that Drives #Website Traffic by @BernieColeman #AdviceLocal #SEO
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There are countless reasons to publish new content on a business blog consistently. Here are just a few below:

Four Reasons Local Businesses Need to be Creating Content

Educate current customers about products and services
Keep current customers engaged
Attract new customers
Improve a local business’ placement in search results

Beyond the above list, the simple fact is Google likes websites that are active and have an engaged audience. They can and do reward these types of websites with site traffic.

Since many marketers (and business owners) don’t write content regularly because it can be difficult to think of a steady stream of topics, I thought I would share a few today.

17 Things to Start Creating Content About Today
1. New Team Members

The new guy or gal in the business can be the source of a quick, informative blog post that helps introduce customers to the amazing people who make it run. People like reading about other people, so sitting down with a new employee and getting their story for the business’ blog is always a winning idea.

2. Technology Upgrades

Businesses that provide services to customers like printing, shipping, etc. should share the excitement when they make an upgrade with their readers. It’s a good way to show customers the business is paying attention to customer needs, growing as a business and upgrading to the latest and greatest. There’s another positive side effect of these kinds of posts – it’s a great way to share about existing services or introduce new ones to the reader. Capitalizing on the big purchases can even be a bigger win.

3. Local Events

To drive potential new visitors to a business’ website and inform the local community about what’s happening around them, consider publishing a local events calendar. This not only provides a valuable and relevant service to readers, but it also increases the brand’s visibility when consumers perform a local search for events. Updating a resource like this at least once a month is recommended.

4. Common Myths or Misunderstandings in the Industry

Every industry has myths surrounding it that just aren’t true. Dentists, for example, get a bad rap for root canals, but most people who have had a root canal in the last 10 years will tell you it wasn’t too bad. Come up with a list of common myths or misunderstandings and debunk them. These types of blog posts tend to do well and distinguish the business as an industry thought leader.

5. Top 10 Lists

People love to click on “top 10 lists” and when you really think about it, they’re not that hard to make. For an air conditioning business – it could be the top 10 ways to save on the electric bill, or for a wine bar – it could be the top 10 wine picks for 2017. Or, it could even be a top 10 on the top blogs for specific industries. The simple fact is they are a quick, easy way to promote something specific and it could lead to some beneficial partnerships.

6. Happy Customers

Rather than claiming the business has “happy customers,” why not interview a few of them so they could say it for themselves? This not only showcases customer satisfaction, but it also informs prospects about the types of customers the business helps. This is a great topic idea for videos, but can also be written interviews as well. B2B businesses should ask the customer to share how they found out about the business, what kind of solution was provided, and how they felt about working with them.

7. Famous People

Everybody loves celebrities. When a business comes across a news story about a famous person using products they sell, they should share about it with readers. I would recommend the business take it a step further and do outreach to the celebrity with the link to the post after it’s published. You never know when the celebrity may click “like” or “retweet.”

8. How Times Have Changed

Industries change as new technology is created! This is a great topic to write about on a business blog. Sharing with readers about how the industry, business and products have evolved is always a fun topic. Perhaps it’s a look back at a business that has been around for 20 years and has gone through several iterations of a logo. Nostalgia resonates well with many audiences.

9. How Things Could Be Better

If there are problems in the industry that aren’t being addressed or are impacting the consumer, write a quick post about how it could be better. Be sure to include how the business is providing a solution – not just complaints. This will highlight the business’ expertise to readers and potential customers.

10. Highlight Good Deeds

If the business is engaged in any kind of charity or community action, writing about it to let readers know is always a good idea. Share what the business is doing, including a few pictures and how others can get involved. This type of post is good PR for the business, but more importantly, it’s a great way to shed light on causes the business cares about.

11. Problems the Local Business Solves

Businesses are successful because they do something great! They provide products or services that solve problems for consumers. Writing a series of posts about problems the business solves is a great way to provide consumers with what they want. The business needs to make sure and explain it in simple terms. By writing content this way, the business will also feed content to searchers who are looking to solve specific problems.

12. The Secret Sauce

Businesses that have a unique tool, method or process for creating a tangible product have content just waiting to be produced. These are great to use when producing videos, showing employees in action or just geting a tiny bit of buzz online. Readers want to know the “secret sauce,” so share it with them!

13. Share Real Life

Shows like “Real Housewives of Dallas” or “The Bachelorette” prove consumers like to watch people’s lives unfold on-screen. What about a series created for the sole purpose of sharing what a certain type of employee or department does at work every day? Businesses writing about “a day in the life” would be able to recognize employees for their accomplishments and keep customers coming back to learn what’s next.

14. Getting a Job in the Industry

Chances are some of the business’ blog readers want to know what it takes to land a job in the industry. They could even be researching the business because they are thinking about applying. Do prospective employee need certain credentials, training or education to work in the field? Does the business use recruiters to find employees, hire directly, or do people enter the industry in a different unique way? Sharing with readers the company hiring practices, especially if certain criteria is required like a background check, etc., only shows the business is serious about who works for them.

15. Frequently Asked Questions

This is another simple content idea. Consumers are constantly searching for answers to specific questions in the micro-moment, and writing about the questions and providing the answer is another way to get more traffic to the business website for specific search terms. It also answers questions of those already frequenting the business website.

16. Statistics

People love stats. Appealing to a reader’s sense of logic by sharing interesting statistics about the business or the industry is a great way to show the business is on top of their game and gets that prospective customer to say “yes.” Using statistics to show the reader why the product is right for them is a winning idea.

17. Seasonal Content Themes

Leveraging popular times of the year like “Octoberfest” or “Fourth of July” to put more content on a business blog is a win for both the reader and the business. An example would be a restaurant featuring their favorite fall beer pairings, or perhaps how their patio is perfect for catching the fireworks and dinner. The content needs to be relevant to the business and provide value to the reader. It’s important to remember that when thinking seasonal, it doesn’t just mean Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Don’t Just Blog to be Blogging

Consumers want to read content that is interesting, educational and answers specific questions they may have. It’s important that each article demonstrates expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. Google wants businesses producing E-A-T content. Websites that meet this need are the real winners.

Please don’t take this post to mean that businesses should be blogging just for the sake of blogging. Blogging is the perfect opportunity for increasing brand trust, providing a valuable extra layer of service to customers, and meeting consumer needs in the moment!

I’ve just shared 17 ways to create more content for a business’ blog. Did you come up with any of your own? None of these ideas struck a chord with you? That’s ok. There are all kinds of ideas around you; starting asking questions and you’ll certainly find a few.

(By the way, did you notice, I just blogged about blogging?)

Want to produce more content for your clients but need some help getting started? The Advice Local team is here for you!

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The Five-Step, Quick Start Local Content Marketing Plan: Measuring and Evaluating

Blog – Advice Local
The Five-Step, Quick Start Local Content Marketing Plan: Measuring and Evaluating
Creating a Local Content Marketing Plan

Creating content that attracts prospects, keeps customers engaged and creates conversions all at the same time is definitely not easy to do!

I love a good journey, and that’s exactly what I’ve been taking you on for the last month or so – a journey to create a local content marketing plan that is easy to implement and evaluate. Yes, this journey includes measuring and evaluating the results.

As this journey comes to an end, here’s a refresher: I started by covering the 5 Steps to a Local Content Marketing Plan, then began a deep-dive into each one of the steps in part 2, part 3, and part 4 of the series. Today, I’m wrapping up the journey with how to measure and evaluate the success of the local content marketing plan.

Creating the foundation for Local #ContentMarketing Success by @BernieColeman #AdviceLocal #SEO
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Measuring the Success of Local Content Marketing
1. How to Know if You Succeed

To gauge the results of your efforts you must measure. If you plan the evaluation right, all you’ll need to do at the end of the local content marketing initiative is to aggregate the data from the various metrics you’ve gathered, then spend a bit of time analyzing what it means. On one level this analysis will be relatively straightforward, because you will be comparing results data against baselines and benchmarks that you identified earlier in the process. But there’s a catch: you need to connect the results to your content.

2. Connecting Content to Customer Behavior

Regardless of your results, whether strong or weak, you need to know if they were influenced by local content marketing efforts, or by something else. The more time that elapses between posting content and seeing evidence of results, the more difficult it is to connect the two. Furthermore, the ability to chart connections depends a good deal on the kind of business you are marketing and how closely the things you measure overlap. For instance, how are clicks, likes, and comments related to overall marketing goals, in addition to the marketing of a specific piece of content?

If the goal is to get more in-store traffic and you achieve that, how will you know that it’s a result of the things you measured? Do more clicks translate into more in-store traffic?

If the goal is to get more sales, like in the example used for the architect earlier in the series, then the sales funnel stages the prospect is in could be significantly longer, and you could have several different marketing initiatives targeting them.

Example: The initial goal was to get them to come to an event at the office. They attended, went to the website, read an article about architecture and downloaded an eBook – and now they are potentially in two different sales funnels. If there isn’t a CRM in place to track all the campaigns a prospect is in, I highly recommend you consider it.

3. Gathering Metrics

The things that you measure are usually proxies for the things that you really want to achieve. As an example, if you’re looking to boost in-store traffic, then it doesn’t make much sense to measure online engagement (clicks, likes, etc.). Instead, ask yourself this: What kinds of things will indicate the business is getting more in-store traffic? If this is the goal, you may include a discount code in the online content, then count the number of in-store customers who use the code. This will give you an idea of how many customers came to the local business as a result of seeing the content on the website or social media.

You could most likely have different measurement indicators for each piece of content. For example, the graphic designer (used as an example in earlier posts) wants to get clients for her website design business. Using a tool like Google Analytics, she can track the numbers and demographics of people who viewed an article on her website – who clicked from perhaps Facebook or Twitter and then clicked through to her website to see her portfolio. To track these metrics you would need to have Google Analytics and goals set up.

The graphic designer can also chart the progress of a given user, to see whether – after viewing her portfolio – they completed a contact form, and later, if they actually hired her! She can also identify which pieces of Facebook content were most effective in driving traffic to her site, and then refine her social media content going forward.

4. Revising Your Goals

Like the business owner above who wanted to increase in-store traffic, you may get to the evaluation step and find that your proxy measurements are not compatible with the goals. In some instances, you may find that the goal you initially established is too big to be achieved in a single local content marketing campaign. In that case, you would need to revise that goal to be more in line with the things that can be measured.

What’s the bottom line to all this? Goals, audience, content topics, channels, and measurement indicators are all part of a circular planning process. Once it is mapped out it can be used repeatedly to cultivate new customers – and deepen the loyalty of existing ones.

Unlike traditional marketing strategies, content marketing is best implemented as an ongoing process, with its results viewed as cumulative equity in the brand. And again, as mentioned in Part 4, do create valuable content based on the E-A-T concept of Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. Google loves high-value E-A-T content and the happier you make Google, the higher the content will rank in SERPs.

As we know, all good things must come to an end, and that includes this series. If you have just landed here at the end without reading the preceding posts, Parts 1–4, then start here and work your way through them individually.

Success Starts with a Solid Foundation

One last thing – to successfully track behavior, to measure success and conversions beyond a solid local content marketing plan, you will need a solid foundation. This foundation is part of the beginning, it’s not the goal itself. It starts with the website, moves into Google Analytics set-up, goal tracking, and much more – and the Advice Local team is here to help you get started from that solid foundation! Request a demo and learn more today!

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6 Common Business Listing Issues that Can Damage Local Presence

Blog – Advice Local
6 Common Business Listing Issues that Can Damage Local Presence
Common Listing Business Listing Issues

For better or worse, there are plenty of factors that can impact a business’ online visibility. How well a business manages its online listings plays a role in determining how often it appears in relevant search results and how many local customers discover the business online.

This means that simply having business listings isn’t enough – businesses must take the initiative to actively resolve listing issues that can damage local presence.

Some of the most common problems for local business listings include:

Incomplete or missing information
Outdated, inaccurate or inconsistent NAP data
Unclaimed or unverified listings
Low-quality visual content
Using a single listing for multiple locations

Let’s take a closer look at what causes these issues and how businesses can fix them to protect their local presence.

6 #Business Listing Issues that Damage Local Presence by @GetPlacedLocal #AdviceLocal
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The Most Common Problems with Local Business Listings
1. Incomplete Listing Information

The more information businesses make available online, the more likely potential customers are to visit the website and store location. So, each business listing should be as detailed as possible. Always include the business name, address, and phone number (also known as NAP data), along with other relevant information.

Some directories allow businesses to include additional information, such as driving directions to the store, photos of the building or products, hours of operation, and other details a customer might want to know before heading to the store or making a purchase.

2. Inaccurate NAP Data

Unfortunately, even if the listing includes NAP data, it’s not always accurate. Whether the business moves, gets a new phone number, or changes its name during a merger or acquisition, there are plenty of ways for NAP data to become outdated.

To keep a business’ NAP data up-to-date across the web and prevent bad data from spreading, business owners should go straight to the source. Data aggregators like Acxiom and Infogroup propagate business data to directories and other websites. So, in addition to submitting updated NAP data to relevant directories, it’s critical to make sure the major aggregators always have accurate, relevant information about the business.

3. Duplicate Listings

More data is not always better. In fact, duplicate listings are a huge problem for businesses trying to take control of their local presence management. There should only be one listing per business location in each local business directory.

How do duplicate listings happen in the first place? It might be that the business has changed locations or names and, instead of updating the existing listing, a new listing is erroneously created. Whatever the case, business owners should keep an eye out for duplicates and remove any extra listings they discover.

4. Low-Quality Visual Content

Some directories allow businesses to upload images to help customers visualize where the store is located and what the business offers. However, low-quality images can do more harm than good by giving potential customers an unflattering view of the business or product.

For example, consider how a dark, blurry photo of a restaurant would make you feel about eating there. It doesn’t matter how good the food tastes if a low-quality image online causes potential diners to lose their appetite before they even book a reservation.

Instead, the business should highlight popular merchandise or menu options with flattering photography that offers a realistic perspective. The business should also showcase the storefront so people can easily recognize it when they come to the shop or restaurant.

5. Unclaimed Listings

Another major issue is failing to claim existing listings that are already published and visible online. That’s right, listings can appear without the business owner even realizing! For instance, Google My Business listings are often auto-generated by information readily available online – which means the business owner might not be aware the listing exists.

This is dangerous for several reasons. One of the main risks is that the listing information will be incorrect. Although Google is pretty good at piecing together information to create a listing, it’s not always the most up-to-date data that gets curated and displayed.

Claiming the listing also allows the business owner to add more detail and optimize the business listing. For example, with a claimed listing, the business can ensure only flattering photos are displayed and make sure the NAP data is 100% accurate.

6. A Single Listing for Multiple Locations

 For businesses with more than one location, a single listing per directory is not enough. Whether there are two stores or 2,000, multi-location businesses need to have unique listings for each individual location. After all, each location has its own address and contact information that should be easy to find online. Local customers want details about the most convenient store for them to visit – including NAP, hours, directions and other relevant data.

Many business owners still don’t realize the importance of having a unique listing for each store or location. Individual listings allow multi-location businesses to drive web traffic to their websites and foot traffic to their physical stores. Additionally, each listing should link to a unique landing page specific to the location.

Local Presence Management for Businesses that Want to Get Found

Managing a business’ local presence isn’t easy – especially for someone who is busy trying to run the business, too. If you’d like to hand the local presence reigns over to a team of professionals, get in touch with Advice Local today!

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