Mastering the Art of Local SEO

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Local SEO is a daunting and intimidating task to tackle for any small business. Google’s algorithms seem all the more mysterious in the local realm, and competition is fierce in almost any market. It used to be that the goal for a local business was to land in the “10-pack”, or the top 10 businesses for a set of local keywords. Google would then show a map charting the location of the top 10 rankings, with subsequent information listings. A few years back, Google changed this to the “7-pack”, thereby limiting top ranking opportunities even more. It goes without saying that your goal as a small business owner is to land in the top 7 for your targeted keywords. So how do you achieve this lofty vision? Through the cornerstones of great SEO: Fantastic content, smart citations and link shares, great customer service, and crafty social media. It’s a tricky task for sure, but it’s a mountain you absolutely can conquer.

Tip #1: Write a Fabulous About Me Page

It’s important to tackle the task of defining yourself out of the gate. A well-written About Me section is not just an asset for your site’s SEO efforts, it can also be the foundation of all further strategies for your content marketing. Address the needs of your customers, tell the story of your creation (briefly), and don’t be afraid to include some random but intriguing truths as well. Play to your strengths and make it crystal clear what you offer, and why you rise above your competition. For other expert tips on crafting a killer About Me page, see this excellent article from ProBlogger.

Tip #2: Choose Keywords Carefully

If your site is already live, you should be testing your top keywords regularly to see A) how you’re ranking and B) how many users are actually searching with your selected terms. There is no frontier more dynamic than the digital space, so use that to your advantage. This means you can change what’s not working anytime you need to; it also means you need to stay on top of how your site is performing on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

For local SEO, your keywords should trigger the local algorithm. You’ll know this is the case if you see the telltale Google map with the top 7 rankings noted. If your keywords don’t launch the 7-pack, it’s definitely time to make sure your site’s content pages, social media pages, and all related content reference your targeted keywords and location.

Tip #3: Geographic Know-How

Whenever Google has more than 7 top ranking sites for any search, those closest to the downtown center of their geographic region often take precedence (referred to as the “centroid bias”). It is therefore critical that if you are closer to one city-center over another, that you target searches according. Likewise, if you’re on the outskirts of town, local SEO is going to be more challenging, so you may be wiser in sticking to the exact town(s) you service and not waste efforts on reaching the closest metro.

Tip #4: Be Thorough and Consistent

You probably already have profiles on the major social media outlets, but are you sure that your key NAP data (name, address, and phone number) is consistent on every one? This is a commonly flubbed and critical SEO task. If you choose to spell out avenue, as an example, do so every time you note your address. If your data is not an exact match everywhere on the web, Google may not know to lump all your profiles and content together.

Tip #5: Size Up the Competition

If you want to know what it takes to get top rankings in your demographic, study the business that currently lands at #1. See how they format their NAP data, and uncover what’s working on the respective website. You can even copy their NAP information, throw quotes around it, and Google it – the results will help indicate how many (and which) directories and citations you need to get top billing. As a comparison, do this for one of the lower ranking sites too. This shows you the bare minimum you need to surpass #7. Make sure to do the same search for your own business, so you know exactly where you rank as well.

Tip #6: Citations, Reviews, and Outreach

Once you’re certain your social profiles and site content are complete, keyword-rich, and consistent, it’s time to make your link sharing and testimonials more robust as well. Link sharing requires a balance of like-minded niches that are not hardcore competitors, combined with high Google credibility and user value. You don’t want incoming and outbound links to just any site, of course – these need to be thoughtfully pursued, and regularly checked.

If any of your link partners lapse into spammy habits or create partnerships with folks with bad habits, your citation score will diminish in the eyes of Google. The same thing goes with customer reviews. You absolutely must do customer outreach and ensure folks are talking about your brand. It’s not the end of the world to have a few bad reviews, as long as they are heavily balanced by positive experiences. If you’re receiving a slew of negative testimonials, you obviously have some core business issues to resolve as well. But no reviews at all will hurt you just as much, if not more. Please don’t fake these – if your customers find out, you’ll have to deal with that outrage and lack of credibility, and you may truthfully never recover.

Likewise, make sure you are listed on the big directories, like Google Places and Yelp. Research local directories specific to your area; don’t just hit the obvious big players. This is where it’s critical to intimately know your audience – who they are, where they can find you, and exactly how they are looking for your services. Consider local neighborhood guides and websites, Chamber of Commerce sites, and city guides. Find groups on ‘Meetup that fall into your target niche, and ask if you can sponsor their group. Community outreach, if well-executed, can be a huge boost to customer acquisition and retention.

Local SEO is a dicey and competitive landscape, but quality and consistency are your friends. Be methodical about your changes and improvements, and don’t do them all at once. Make tweaks to your strategy, monitor the results, then improve upon the areas that most need it. Keep your eyes on the 7-pack prize – it IS attainable. Ask yourself “Why not my company?”, and you, too, might find yourself on top.

Digital producer, game designer, Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs, Tina Courtney-Brown has been shaping online businesses since 1996. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, massively multiplayer games, social networks and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, nonprofit director and true cooking diva. Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook and Google+.

Post from: SiteProNews: Webmaster News & Resources

Mastering the Art of Local SEO

Give Your Facebook Page a Free Facelift

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

If you’re tired of the same standard Facebook format for all profiles and business pages, Social Fixer is your new best friend.  This innovative browser add-on, previously named Better Facebook, allows business owners to give branding flair and personality to the otherwise bland page structure.  Social Fixer also gives users more flexibility on newsfeed posts, comments and loads more options.  If your company has a heavy Facebook presence and is looking to inject some creativity into the mix, Social Fixer can give you a serious edge.

Customization Options

Facebook profiles have always allowed limited personalization.  Learning from the chaotic, freestyle approach that was part of MySpace’s undoing, Facebook has opted instead to take away the most creative power from its massive user base.  While giving everyone full access to modify their profiles in any fashion is still a recipe for disaster, allowing businesses and individuals to add polished flair and style can only engender more marketer loyalty, especially if it improves customer response.  That’s where Social Fixer comes in.

Currently, Facebook only allows users to update profile and cover photos, control what appears in the news feed (to a certain extent) and of course the usual profile text.  The Facebook Help Center includes details on how to customize a page’s appearance.  But options are vastly limited.

Features Social Fixer allows you to tweak include adding a tabbed news feed, triggering image previews, controlling who sees what and when in your feed, analytics options to view who is accessing which posts, unfriending details and various feed filters.  You can direct specific items to a targeted news feed tab, and create a more stylish theme for your page as well.

How to Setup Your New and Improved Facebook Page

Social Fixer is a browser add-on that works with Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Safari; all of the major ones, save Internet Explorer.  Once you download the program, here’s how to install the new features to your Facebook page:

Step 1:  Choose recommend settings, or opt for a more minimalist selection that switches most add-on defaults to “off.”  You can, of course, revert any of these functions later on in the process.

Step 2:  Select if you want to place applications and game posts in separate tabs on your news feed (default is yes.)  This may not be relevant to a business profile, because owners are likely not playing games with the same account, but this is a fantastic feature to players who do not wish to clutter their feed with in-game achievements and triumphs.  Not everyone wants the world to know they just leveled up in Bingo Bash.

Step 3:  Customize your chat sidebar. You can replace the existing design with the old pop-up version, opt to show all online friends (or not), and even use a mini chat list that eradicates the thumbnail images.  The latter is perfect for businesses who don’t use the chat feature much and dislike the amount of real estate it normally occupies.

Step 4:  Select your photo options.  You can choose to disable the light box / theater pop-up view that Facebook currently employs, and revert to a more simplistic single-photo display.  The default is to keep things as they are.

Step 5:  Decide if you’d like to allow users to see the full-sized versions of your images when they hover over a thumbnail in a post or profile.  Photo previews are marked as “Yes” by default.

Step 6:  For comment posting, you can decide if you’d like to have the Enter key function as a new line creation or auto-post option.  Facebook does the former currently, and it’s a major gripe amongst users that Social Fixer wisely addresses.

Step 7:  If you’d like to add a link to Social Fixer’s own news feed to the Facebook panel, it will be a great source of tips and tricks for you in the future.  And it’s a way to show the free tool a little appreciation for the crafty convenience it affords you.

Once you complete the setup wizard, your new Facebook page installs.  You will now see profile tabs and news feed labels that are a bit different than the default views, but they will match your selections during setup.  Notice, too, that your most recent posts will appear at the top of your feed, but a dropdown menu option gives you the power to switch back to top stories instead.  If you wish to change the theme and color palate of your page, click the wrench icon for theme options.  Make sure to test new themes on all browsers, however, because not all of them showcase these changes as intended.

More fun features include the power to see sum totals of posts (including duplicates), identify who has unfriended you and when, and see the number of times Older Posts has been selected by your users.  The chat list will now default to showing online friends at the top of the list (instead of the current alphabetical listing.)  The left side of your page will feature navigation panels that showcases content you’ve ‘liked,’ as well as upcoming relevant events. Again, these options can be customized to lead to other favorite destinations, if desired.

When you’re out of the setup wizard and looking to change any and all options, just click the icon of a wrench, and a window will appear with a myriad of customization selections. For example, you can hide articles and/or videos from your feed, automatically move posts from applications, or change font sizes for posts and comments. Options get even more granular; you can even choose to show actual time stamps for posted content, rather than the default “one day ago” language Facebook currently uses. Marketers will love the ability to filter all posts by user, type of post, and even specific keywords.  This is a chance to really get to know your Facebook fans on a level not previously available.

Potential Drawbacks

Facebook is notorious for frequent updates to their templates and news feed formats, so if you opt to customize your page, you’ll want to test every aspect whenever Facebook makes even the smallest of updates.  Case in point:  Facebook recently added new features to their news feed, which may have caused some issues for Social Fixer users.  It’s nothing a bit of re-customization can’t address, but just be mindful you’ll likely spend a bit more time than usual on your Facebook presence should you choose to use this add-on.  Considering the massive benefits involved in having a page that separates you from the vanilla look and feel of your competitors, however, it will likely be worth the extra time and elbow grease.

Digital producer, game designer, Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs, Tina Courtney-Brown has been shaping online businesses since 1996.  She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, massively multiplayer games, social networks and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, nonprofit director and true cooking diva.  Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook and Google+.

Post from: SiteProNews: Webmaster News & Resources

Give Your Facebook Page a Free Facelift

Apple’s Growth Slows as it Sets New Product Expectations for Late 2013

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Move your marketing budgets and discretionary spend for the next iPhone or any new Apple products to the fall at the earliest. Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook essentially said as much as he vigorously defended the company on its latest earnings call, and shared his frustration with Apple’s declining market value in the stock market, which has wiped out 27 percent of its total value in the last year.

Twitter Soon to Launch Two-Step Verification: Report – Associated Press Hack A Reminder of Need for Stonger Security

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

After its highest-profile hack yet, Twitter is rumored to be speeding up its testing of a two-step authentication process to bolster its security.

A number of corporations have been hacked on the social networking site in recent months, but yesterday’s hack of the Associated Press’ (AP) account, may have been the impetus Twitter needed to hasten its crack down on security, experts are saying.

The AP Twitter account hack resulted in a tweet that caused a few minutes of panic among the American people: ‘Breaking: Two explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.”

The tweet caused the U.S. stock market to plunge, although it quickly recovered after it was learned the message was a malicious  prank.

The Syrian Electronic Army, a hacker group that endorses Syrian President Bashar Assad, has claimed credit for the hack. The group hacked the BBC’s Twitter account last month.

Other Twitter high-profile hacking victims in recent months include Burger King and Jeep.

Also, 250,000 of Twitter’s 250 million members were hacked in January. It was reported the following week that Twitter then had plans to launch two-factor authentication in a bid to strengthen log-on security.

Twitter’s advertisement for a full-time software engineer to focus on product security shortly after was thought to be linked to the issue. The post indicated the job would require the candidate to “design and develop user-facing security features, such as multi-factor authentication and fraudulent login detection.”

According to a Wired report, Twitter already has a “working two-step security solution” that currently is in the testing phase. It is thought the service will soon be rolled out to users in waves.

Two-factor authentication could at least be introduced to high-profile Twitter accounts such as large corporations and media outlets as well as politicians and celebrities right away, an expert told IDG News Service.

“Twitter needs to get on board and make two-factor authentication available … as fast as possible,” Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Security told IDG.

With two-step verification, users must enter their password and a verification code. The code, usually, is sent to the user’s phone via text, voice call, or mobile app.

During sign-in, the user often can request the service no longer ask for a verification code on that particular computer. From that point on, only the user’s password will be required.

However, if the user or someone else tries to sign in from a different computer, a verification code will be required to gain access to the account.

In a blog post earlier this year, Twitter director of information security Bob Lord also stressed the importance of using a strong password. He offered four tips to Twitter users to improve account security. Here is an excerpt from the blog:

• Use a strong password. Your password should be at least 10 characters that include upper and lower case characters, numbers, and symbols. You should always use a unique password for each website you use; that way, if one account gets compromised, the rest are safe. 

• Watch out for suspicious links, and always make sure you’re on before you enter your login information. Be cautious when clicking on links in Direct Messages. Whenever you are prompted to enter your Twitter password, just take a quick look at the URL and make sure you’re actually on Phishing websites will often look just like Twitter’s login page, but will actually be for destinations other than Twitter. If ever in doubt, just go directly to in your browser. 

Don’t give your username and password out to unknown third parties, especially those promising to get you followers or make you money. When you give your username and password to someone else, they get complete control of your account and can lock you out of your account or take actions that cause your account to be suspended. Be wary of any application that promises to make you money or get you followers. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! 

• Make sure your computer and operating system is up to date with the most recent patches, upgrades, and anti-virus software. Keep your browser and operating system updated with the most current versions and patches; patches are often released to address particular security threats. 

Post from: SiteProNews: Webmaster News & Resources

Twitter Soon to Launch Two-Step Verification: Report