Understanding Local Search Marketing

Posted August 14th, 2013 in Getting Visitors, Online Marketing, Small Business Tips, Tech Tips by Brett

Last week we posted our first in a series of feature posts about website marketing and its complexities. After focusing on SEO and Meta Keywords last week, we’re going to focus on Local Search Results, one aspect of Search Marketing and the benefits of building a local presence on Google Places for your business. These articles were written by our guest host, Adam Steele, who is the CEO at Nightlite Media and has expertise in SEO, social media and email marketing.

1) Google Local Results Changed the Game, Part 1

This post will break down the premise of local search marketing and give you insight on why it is an important aspect of your online presence.

2) Google Places Optimization Checklist, Part 2

This post will break down how Google Places works and offer some simple tips and guidelines to a successful Google Places page optimization.

3) Google Places Local Business Directories, Part 3

This post shows you how to take your Google Places optimization to the next level by learning about off page ranking factors.

All 3 posts above have tremendous insight into Local Search Marketing and should be a great resource when starting your Search Marketing campaigns.

Pulling Back The Layers of SEO

Posted July 31st, 2013 in Getting Visitors, Online Marketing, SEO, Small Business Tips by Brett

For the past 3 years, we have been posting a wide variety of articles to our blog to better help our customers as they navigate through the many layers of website marketing. One of the most delicate and difficult layers can be SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO has many different elements from keywords to relevant website content and page names. SEO can be complex and can get overwhelming quickly, so we thought we’d take you back to the beginning and show you how to get started with some basic SEO tips that can improve your website ranking.

1) SEO Building Blocks: Meta Tags and SEO:

This post will give you a good introduction to Meta Tags and Keywords and how they work.

2) Google Keyword Tool:

This post goes step by step on how to use the free Google Keyword Tool and shows you how to create a list of potential keywords and how to pick the ones that will work best for your pages.

3) 5 Tips on where to insert keywords:

This post will give you good information on where and how to insert keywords onto your pages.

The above articles will give you a great start at understanding keywords and creating your own Meta Tags for success in organic search rankings. Stay tuned next week when we reintroduce local business marketing, a good strategy to capitalize on local geographical search results for your business.

Grow Your Business With CityMax Affiliates

Running an online business can be challenging, so we’re always looking for ways to make life easier for our customers. We’re excited to partner with several companies who may be able to enhance not just your website with CityMax but your business as a whole.

HootSuite: HootSuite is a social media management system for businesses and organizations to collaboratively execute campaigns across multiple social networks (Facebook, Twitter etc.) from one secure, web-based dashboard. Launch marketing campaigns, identify and grow audiences, and distribute targeted messages using HootSuite’s unique social media dashboard.

Moo: MOO is an award-winning online print business that helps our customers print things like Business Cards, Postcards and MiniCards, making it easy for them to share information about themselves or their business in the real world.

Appointment Plus: All-in-One Online Scheduling Software provides customizable software to help businesses with all of their scheduling needs.

Zazzle: Personalized Items and trinkets, great for giveaways or brand recognition in your community and business field.

For more information click on the links above or visit the Marketing Section of your website to see if they can add value to your business and your website!

Get Professional Pay Per Click Marketing Services from TitanPPC.com

Posted March 12th, 2013 in CityMax.com News, Contests, E3, Online Marketing by Emily

A lot of customers ask us what companies we think are the best for Pay Per Click advertising. As a result, we would like to officially recommend a new partner company — TitanPPC.com. Here’s a message from them about their services:

Advertise your business using PPC on Google!

We’ve partnered up with CityMax to provide you with world class Pay Per Click Services. TitanPPC.com has over 7 years of PPC experience and we are Google Certified Pay Per Click Experts. This partnership is a huge win for all CityMax customers! The best part is that TitanPPC.com really knows the needs of CityMax users. We have worked with CityMax customers in the past and know the website builder in and out.

What is PPC?

Pay Per Click allows you to get to the top of the search engines by paying for your ad to be there. Compared to SEO (search engine optimization) PPC gets you instant traffic to your website or business much faster. PPC simply means you are paying every time someone clicks your advertisement, thus: “Pay Per Click”.

Is PPC Right For You?

Every business big or small should be running PPC. If you’re a small one person operation, or a fortune 500 company, you should be running PPC. PPC is our passion and we believe that every business in the world should have the opportunity to grow like they have never imagined. No matter what your budget, we can help!

We Have a Special Deal for CityMax Customers

We know marketing budgets aren’t always big, so we are offering 2 special packages just for the needs of CityMax customers. You won’t find rates this low anywhere else online for world class pay per click services.

Please visit us at www.titanppc.com/citymax or call 1-888-325-4508.

Local Business Directories, Google Places, Part 3

Posted November 16th, 2011 in Getting Visitors, Online Marketing, SEO by Emily

Guest Post:  Adam Steele is the CEO at Nightlite Media. His expertise includes SEO, social media and email marketing. This is Part 3 of Google Local Results Changed the Game.

In my last two posts, I explained the 5 W’s of Google Places (who, what, when, where & why), as well as how to go about optimizing your own Google Places page. A year ago, this information would have been enough to earn you a first page ranking, and in some smaller niches and/or cities, this is still the case. HOWEVER, if you want to play with the big boys, and take your Google Places optimization to the next level, then your next step is to learn off page ranking factors.

Off page ranking factors covers a huge scope of potential topics. First, it is important to understand the difference between off page and on page factors. When it comes to Google Places optimization, on page factors include your website and Google Places page. For simplicity, we have only covered your Google Places page, which was the topic of my last post. Off page factors include major link building. That is, building links on other sites, and having them link to your website. In this article, we are going to focus on one type of links: citations.

Citations are occurrences of your business information online. In fact, it doesn’t matter where online it appears, as long as the citation includes your business name, address and phone number (NAP). A common misconception is that a citation is a profile on a local business directory such as Yelp, Superpages, Insiderpages, Judysbook or Citysearch. While these are excellent sources for citations there are not citations themselves. They are local business directories.

Local business directories are certainly the most common place to create citations for a lot of reasons including: it is free, easy, authoritative, of  high quality, traffic-rich etc. For all these reasons, we will focus on these directories and go over what you need to know about them.

Firstly, yes, they are FREE – well mostly. Many of these directories offer everyone a free business profile, which allows them to add their business information, pictures, videos, link to site etc. Not a bad deal! However, these directories stay in business because they hope to sell you extra incentives, including advertising, better ranking on the site and a multitude of other products and services. Do not be surprised if you receive a call or several email solicitations immediately after signup. It is a necessary evil I am afraid. For those of you who want to entertain these offers, I suggest you tread very carefully. Most aren’t worth their weight.

Creating profiles on local business directories is dead easy, but you shouldn’t take the easy, quick route. Although I haven’t proved this yet, it is my feeling that a more complete profile will lend more authority. That is, Google treats a bare bones profile differently than one that has been carefully completed. This may not be the case right now, but I have no doubt that in future this will be the case. So go ahead, add pictures, videos, great content, etc. Another good reason to create these carefully is accuracy. Any inaccuracies in your business name, address or phone number will hurt your ability to improve your Google Places rank.

Authority and quality fall in the same boat. When I say authority I am usually referring to the credibility that Google has assigned to a website, or in this case the local business directory. All the more popular directories have lots of authority, which is in part, passed off to your business when Google finds your business information on it. For all intents and purposes, it is considered a ‘vote of confidence.’ By this, I mean that a link or citation from these directories will have a positive effect on your rankings. Google has deemed them quality websites.

If a local business directory has all the before mentioned characteristics then it also will be traffic rich. What does this mean to you? Well, many of these sites attract consumers looking for local
businesses. If consumers are able to find you, and in a good light (thanks to your robust profile), you may score yourself some extra business. In fact, I find that my clients tend to receive 3-5% of their traffic from these directories. If their monthly traffic is 1000 visits, 30-50 extra visits is nothing to scoff at.

Here is a small list of the more popular local business directories:

These are just some great directories you can submit your business to. There are literally THOUSANDS. Per usual, we have a reward for your readership. We want to send you a list of 100 of the best local business directories online. This is the list that we submit our clients to and one that we have carefully cultivated over the last 18 months. Send me an email adam.steele@nightlitemedia.com and I will quickly send it your way.

Google Places Optimization Checklist, Part 2

Guest Post:  Adam Steele is the CEO at Nightlite Media. His expertise includes SEO, social media and email marketing. This is Part 2 of Google Local Results Changed the Game.

Overview

97% of consumers search for local businesses online. You definitely want to be there when they’re looking for you with Google Places for business.

Google wants to show its users the most relevant, up-to-date, quality information (including companies) possible. This is its mission and just one reason it is the biggest. As such, when it comes to optimizing your Google Places page, you should keep this in mind.

The following are some simple tips and guidelines to a successful Google Places page optimization. The quick tweaks will improve your chances of securing better positions for your business. Please keep in mind that Google Places is constantly changing, and what works at the time of this checklist may change dramatically in 30 days. Saying that, we have tried to keep to the things that have remained a constant for some time now.

Initial Process

  • Select the area/city you wish to target
  • Keyword Search: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal. Put in a word that you “think” the average person would type in Google when looking for a business in your city. (NOT the name of a business, but a word or phrase.) Example: ‘Dallas electrician’. Google will suggest other popular words below that term. View the ones that are popular and record them. Make sure you deselect broad and select exact (on the left) and focus your attention on local volume/searches, not global.
  • Identify keywords you would like to dominate in your local town/city and search them for yourself. Not all keywords will trigger Google Places. So, you need to make sure the ones you go forward with bring up Google Places results when you search for them.
  • Record on a piece of paper the top 5 -10 keywords and rank them in order of priority (keep on hand).

Submission

  • Set up a Gmail account if you don’t have one already here.
  • Search for your company to see if an existing Google Places page is already setup. Go to http://maps.google.com and put in your phone number with area code to see what comes up. Try more than one phone number if you have more than one for your business.
  • If after you check, you DO have a page, then you will simply want to “Edit Page” if there is anything you want to change (check below to see if your current Google Places page has the appropriate content listed below.) If you do NOT have a page after entering your phone numbers, then you will want to create one!

Creating A Google Places Page

  • After you have created a Google account, you will want to set up your Page. Answer every question (Leave nothing undone – Google views this as “incomplete”.)
  • Company Name (Without keywords) DO NOT get fancy here. Stuffing your title with keywords is just going to get you in trouble. In the past, stuffing the title offered an SEO advantage, but now it is both risky and unnecessary. Simply put your business name here as it is recognized everywhere else.
  • Street Address: Your business address as it occurs everywhere else online and offline. Consistency and accuracy are KEY. If your business has existed for some time, try and search your own address. Look for the most popular address for yourself and go with that one if it’s applicable–otherwise update it. You would be wise to go back and adjust all those addresses that are different than what you use in your Google Places page. NOTE: If later you decide to make any changes to your address, Google will very likely request to send you a post card before updating.
  • City/Town: Self Explanatory. NOTE: This is the city that you will have the best chance of ranking in for your keywords.
  • Main phone: Same principle as your street address. Take a look how your phone number appears already online. Is it in (xxx) or xxx? You want it to appear in Google Places the same way it does elsewhere online.
  • Website: Use http://www. You want it to be hyperlinked.
  • Description: I would typically suggest using the same one that occurs in your site’s meta data (description tag) for consistency. Keyword rich is fine, but don’t make it spammy. Also, consider your click through rate (CTR). Searchers will see this, and decide whether they want to click or not so don’t be afraid to be a bit ‘salesy.’
  • Category: Few things to know here. Stay the heck away from city modifiers. That is, your category should be ‘electrician’, NOT ‘Dallas electrician.’ Doing the latter will get you in trouble. Google gives you 4 custom categories and one pre-defined. Make good use of them and align them with the keywords you want to rank for. Similar to the Company/Organization field, categories are being screened and the same sensitive keywords apply. Custom categories don’t really have to be too coherent. If you have a lot of keywords you are targeting, try and combine them with other keywords, but again, not too spammy.
  • Service Area and Location Settings: Pretty self explanatory. It is commonly used if you are using an address outside of the city/cities that you want to rank in OR you want to rank in all your surrounding cities. Use this function to define your service area(s). NOTE: You aren’t going to rank in San Fran, if your address is in Austin. Obvious, I hope. However, if your address is in the suburb of San Fran and you want to rank in San Fran and its surrounding suburbs is doable. Being outside of the city you want to rank in puts you at a disadvantage. If you are trying to rank for a competitive keyword and you are not located in the city you want to rank in, you could be hooped.
  • Hours & Payment: Just make sure this is consistent with everything else that is published online.
  • Photos: Yes, you should add photos. Photos uploaded should be saved as ‘cityname-state-keyword’ and then uploaded. Google also gives you the option to “Add a photo from the web.” I like to add a picture from the website. This creates a connection between your Google Places page and your website. This is a good thing.
  • Videos: Yes, you should add video preferably of a testimonial like a customer (not you). These can be YouTube videos. Remember to make sure your files are named after a keyword.

Verification: More than likely Google will want to send a post card. The post card typically takes 5-8 business days to arrive. When it arrives, log back into your Google Places dashboard and enter a PIN code to verify and activate your listing.

Similar to my last post, there is a perk for reading. This articles perk is 3 months of FREE Google Places page optimization…a $300 value!! To enter the draw, send your answer to the following question to adam.steele@nightlitemedia.com. Also, if you like some of the tips above, follow me on twitter for more at http://twitter.com/nightlitemedia.

Question: In the categories section of your Google Places page, doing what can get you in trouble?

Google Local Results Changed the Game, Part 1

Posted October 31st, 2011 in CityMax.com News, Contests, Online Marketing, SEO by Emily

Guest Post:  Adam Steele is the CEO at Nightlite Media. His expertise includes SEO, social media and email marketing.

Search engine optimization is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in the search engines. As an internet marketing strategy, search engine optimization considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms typed into search engines and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. In this three part series, I am going to focus on local search engine optimization, otherwise known as Google Places, beginning first with a brief history and thorough explanation of what it means to you and your business. My hope is by the time you finish reading part three, you will be able to take it upon yourself to improve your businesses local presence is Google Places. At the end of each post, I will be offering a FREE game changing eBook that I have put together to help you and your business succeed online.

How Google Local Results Changed SEO

SEO—Search Engine Optimization—has been a necessary staple of website production since the invention of the search engine. Many techniques have been invented to make sure that websites appear as highly as possible when customers and audiences are looking for them. It eventually became evident that some massive websites could use these techniques to maintain their dominance indefinitely, even when users were searching for terms only dubiously related to these dominant websites. Also, these huge websites could afford massive firms to provide SEO services for them, which guaranteed them superior results over smaller websites. For this reason and several others, Google instituted local search results.

What are Google local Search Results?

Google first launched their local results system in late 2010. Simply put, local search results are an adjustment to the Google algorithm which displays results from a user’s local area before national options. For example, if someone in Seattle, WA were using Google to search for a common phrase such as “outdoor furniture” they would have once been directed to a results page filled with companies competing internationally. Now however, local results from actual businesses located in Seattle will be given priority and appear at the top of the page.

The local search results also tied in with the expansion of Google Maps. All the local businesses that appear in the search results will also have their locations and applicable reviews noted. This created a powerful incentive for local businesses to begin investing in their online presence, and gave them a reason to consider SEO services for their own needs.

Why do Google Local Results Matter?

Google Local Results or also commonly known as Google Places, are nothing less than a game changer for the world of SEO. The initial impact of the fact that small businesses could now compete with international companies created several serious changes in the way SEO is done, and how seriously businesses need to take their online presence.

Google Local Results changed SEO in several important ways. First, it shifted the focus for any local results from international businesses with massive budgets to small businesses. After all, no matter what, the small business would appear before the larger business when searching for a term that included a geographical region. Of course, only a few of the top results were dedicated to local businesses, and those spots were now fiercely competitive. New SEO firms that dedicated themselves to local results formed quickly and convinced many businesses of the necessity of updating their marketing to include internet saturation. Small Businesses, for their part, had little choice but to take internet marketing more seriously.

It is not an insider secret of marketing that customers are moving more and more of their business online, and not just when they want to order, but also when they are looking for businesses in their own area. Many services assist with this, be they GPS software, Smart Phone apps or others. The fact that Google dominates most searches on the web makes it necessary for businesses operating in limited geographic areas to begin taking their online presence seriously. Not just because they may now compete with international companies, but also because local businesses are now beginning to powerfully compete in their own areas. When a significant number of new customers are discovering businesses online, it becomes absolutely necessary that businesses take advantage of these conditions to compete.

What does this mean for the future of SEO?

Google Local Results ensured that internet marketing and SEO services are now and forever something that locally-oriented businesses should take advantage of. For small businesses, this means it will be absolutely necessary in the future to understand SEO. It may also mean that SEO positions, or a contract for SEO services becomes an important part of companies that rarely dealt with any sort of online marketing before.

Conclusion

As greater numbers of users and customers shift their lives online, more and more once-rare techniques become necessary for operating in the modern business world. SEO is one of these techniques, and has only become more relevant in the face of dramatic changes like Google Local Results. The consequences of Google Local Results are already evident. The opportunities waiting for both small businesses and specialists alike are daunting to even consider. As in every human endeavor though: Fortune favors the bold.

Now that you have read my monotonous ramble, here is a free eBook that will give you the basics to begin improving your on-page game. That is, I will be providing you with instructions to improve your visibility online simply by making a few changes to what appears on your website. NOW, this eBook is ONLY going to be useful for those who take the time to read. As such, in order to receive your free Game Changing eBook, you must answer a skill testing question, the answer of which is in this post.

Question: What is local search engine optimization or Google Local also known as? Send me your answer to adam.steele@nightlitemedia.com and I will send you your free eBook.

New Partnership with Online Marketing Company Nightlite Media

New partnership with CityMax.com

New CityMax.com partner

We are excited to announce that CityMax has partnered with Nightlite Media.

One of the most asked questions we get is: “How do I get visitors to my site?” Nightlite Media are experts at helping people successfully draw visitors to their sites using:

  • search engine optimization (i.e. getting your sites ranked highly on search engines like Google)
  • social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook)
  • email marketing

We know it’s sometimes difficult to learn and then find the time to promote your site. The reality is that for many of you, getting a company to help you is the best choice. So, our marketing team searched out the best of the best online marketing companies and then put together custom packages we thought made the most sense for our customers. Check out the special packages here.

How important is it to get your online marketing started? Here are some facts that Nightlite Media has put together:

  • 97% of potential customers are searching online first
  • 61 billion online searches were made in August 2010 alone
  • 77% of North Americans are online (that’s a huge 266 million people!)

You can contact Nighlite Media for a 100% free consultation by going to http://websitedynamics.nightlitemedia.com or by calling 1-888- 418-3839. Why not jumpstart your online marketing today!

Should You Move Your Blog or Not?

Have you ever thought about moving your blog from one host to another, but were afraid of what might happen to your search engine ranking?

Should Double Dragon Jewelry move their blog?

Should Double Dragon Jewelry move their blog?

Cindy of Double Dragon Jewelry Ltd. is deciding that exact scenario. She’s debating whether to move her new blog from BlogSpot.com (one of the most popular blogging software programs) to one that will allow her to keep her blog as part of her jewelry website.

Just to make this clear, her jewelry is being sold on:

silverjewelry-sterling.com

Her blog is currently at:

doubledragonsilverjewelry.blogspot.com/

Her web host, i.e. CityMax which is us, has added a blogging option so she could have her blog on:

silverjewelry-sterling.com/blog.html

If Cindy moved her blog to silverjewelry-sterling.com, she would have to weigh the following:

1. Potential to improve the rank of silverjewelry-sterling.com

Having her blog on her CityMax site will do 3 things that may increase her search engine rank for silverjewelry-sterling.com. First, every blog post is new content on her site. The more often you update your site, the more often search engines will re-index it (i.e. check out your site to see what new info is posted so their links are up to date) and rank your site higher.

Second, each blog post Cindy does will hopefully result in more links to silverjewelry-sterling.com because people like her posts. Each link or “vote” helps your search engine ranking. If a website with a high search engine rank links to your page, this is even better. Their “vote” for your site is actually worth several votes.

Third, each time Cindy posts a new article, this will result in a new page that can be linked to from the search engines to her site. This in turn will mean more opportunities to draw people to her site. The more people who visit her site, the higher her website ranking will be.

2. Cannot take search engine rank of doubledragonsilverjewelry.blogspot.com to new blog

If Cindy already has a good rank for doubledragonsilverjewelry.blogspot.com,she cannot transfer that rank directly to her new blog pages. This is because her blog is moving to a different domain. The search engines will recognize this change as doubledragonsilverjewelry.blogspot.com has shut down and then when they index her blog on silverjewelry-sterling.com/blog.html, they will recognize this as a new blog.

3. Beware of duplicate content as it can get your site delisted temporarily

If Cindy plans to move over articles she posted on doubledragonsilverjewelry.blogspot.com to silverjewelry-sterling.com/blog.html, she could get silverjewelry-sterling.com delisted temporarily. The reason is search engines don’t like duplicate content or even very similar content. It looks like someone who isn’t an authority on a topic, just copied someone else’s content. Everything is automated too, you cannot tell Google: “Hey, I just moved my blog to ______.”

Cindy may want to only post new articles on her silverjewelry-sterling.com/blog.html blog at first and not copy over any of her old articles. After her old blog has been closed for a considerable amount of time (many months) such that the old page content is no longer indexed on search engines, she can then repost the articles.

4. Potential to increase sales on silverjewelry-sterling.com

Cindy is likely to get more people to click to other parts of silverjewelry-sterling.com since her website navigation will be right beside her blog posts. This may result in greater sales. Note that if she didn’t move her blog over, you could argue that she could simply have a link to her jewelry online store.

5. Functionality and Convenience

Cindy needs to weigh the functionality of the 2 blogs. To BlogSpot’s credit, they have had many years to develop their site and blogs are their primary focus. CityMax is an all-in-one website builder and must balance the benefits of developing the blog further against other features that are requested. When it comes to convenience, Cindy may like that she can manage everything on CityMax instead of having to monitor 2 websites.

If anyone has any other reasons to move or not move a blog, please post them in the comments.

Get Mentioned on ShoestringVenture.com

Posted July 14th, 2011 in Online Marketing by Emily
Photo courtesy of ShoestringVenture.com

Photo courtesy of ShoestringVenture.com

For small businesses interested in some free publicity, Steve Monas of ShoestringVenture.com:  The Startup Bible Blog is looking for startup businesses that were started on a shoestring budget and that have a website. You can submit your interest with a brief synopsis to query-1bwf@helpareporter.com. Submissions must be received by 7:00 PM EST on July 20th, 2011. If your story is chosen, you may also get published in a future book as a case study.

You can see examples of the kind of stories they’ve published before here. Please don’t contact him if your story has already been published before on his site. ShoestringVenture.com gets 2,000 visitors per day so it’s worthwhile to give it a try.

CityMax.com has been featured in...