3rd Edition of Free Guide to Effective Local SEO

It’s been 3 years since I released the 2nd edition of my free guide to local SEO.

Much has changed in Google and in the rest of the local-search “ecosystem” since then.  Edition 2 still can help you, but it’s developed a casu marzu -like crust.

I’ve finally come out with the 3rd edition.  It’s the clearest guide to local-search success you can get.  It will help you whether you’re new to local SEO or have done it for years.

Whereas the 2nd edition was an evolution from the 1st (from 2011), the 3rd edition is a different beast.  Some differences:

  • It’s one page.  Down from 58 pages.  (There is also a page of notes – optional.)  It’s even easier to get through and to act on.  You’ll know right away where your local SEO effort is dragging.
  • I don’t make you slog through any detail you don’t need or want. The steps should be clear to you right on that single page, but I don’t know which steps you’ll need more vs. less help on.  That’s why I often refer to blog posts that provide detail on a specific step.  (I wrote 154 posts between the 2nd and 3rd editions.  You probably don’t want to read all of those.)
  • You get the resources my helpers and I use to help clients: my comprehensive site audit checklist, our citation-building worksheet, a list of doable link opportunities, and more.
  • My advice is 100% up-to-date. It takes into account Google updates like Pigeon (2014) and Possum (2016), the local citation sources that matter today, the review sites that matter today, and much more.
  • I plan to keep the free guide updated real-time. There may not be a 4th edition as such, but rather continual tune-ups to this edition, as local search continues to evolve.

Enough throat-clearing.  You can access the free guide right here:

(If you’re reading this on mobile, you’re probably wondering where my opt-in form is.  Long story.  Just scroll down and click the link in the footer.)

Let me know how you like it!

Cancelled Moz Local: How Many Listings Still Stand?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rinses/4794547760/

Moz Local is a great tool.  I use it for a number of my clients, and often suggest it to others.  Having correct listings on the “local” sites that matter is a crucial one-time step if you want to improve your local rankings.

No tool is a silver bullet to create or fix all your listings.  Moz Local is no exception.  But it can save you some time and heartache, because typically it takes care of a handful of important listings that can be a pain for you to create or fix manually.

It’s just $84/year, so you’re probably not itching to cancel it.

But what if you do cancel, for whatever reason?

What happens to your listings?  Do they just go poof?

No, based what I’ve observed.  It seems any Moz Local-created listings stick around for at least 90 days, and probably much longer. (I’ll update this when I see how much longer.)

That’s the short answer.  If all you want to know is whether you need to scramble to work on your citations immediately after cancelling Moz Local, you’ve got your answer.  No need to read on.

Or, if you want more detail, in a minute you can read about the micro-study I did on this.

Some context

As you may know, Moz Local creates and fixes listings programmatically.  People aren’t doing it for you.  Moz Local has an API relationship with the local directories and other sites in its network, which is what allows it to publish or fix your listings on those sites for you, and in some cases to remove duplicate or incorrect listings that you don’t want.

That’s also why Moz doesn’t make any promises that your listings will stay up if you cancel Moz Local.  You could have created free listings on the sites in Moz’s network if you wanted to, but you opted to save yourself at least a couple hours of hassle and pay $84/year (a good call in most cases, in my opinion).  What you’re paying for mainly is Moz’s partnership with the various “local” sites.  Moz still has to pay them even if you cancel.  In effect, you’ve chosen to license your listings.

Long way of saying that if you cancel Moz Local, Moz will “release” control your listings.  At that point it’s up to each individual site what to do with your listing(s) in its directory.

I wanted to see how that actually plays out, so I did a little experiment.

The story behind the experiment

I don’t often have occasion to cancel a Moz Local subscription.  It’s only been around since March of 2014.  When I set it up for a client (not all of them), typically the client is with me for many months or for years.  Sometimes I set it up in my Moz account, or sometimes in theirs, depending on their preference.

Anyway, 3 months ago I did have the rare occasion to cancel Moz Local.  I’d set it up for a client in August of 2015.  We worked together for a couple of months, until he went on a long hunting trip that made it tough to do some steps that required teamwork.  (I suppose I could have done the aimless busywork that most SEO companies bill for, and continued to bill the guy until it cut into his ammo fund.)

His business hadn’t been online at all before we started working together.  The paint was still drying on his site.  As part of our broader work on local SEO, my helpers and I did some manual citation-building for him – on the sites that matter that Moz Local can’t reach.  That happened at the same time we set up Moz Local.  He didn’t have any listings on the sites in Moz Local’s network.  When they went up, they went up because of Moz Local.

My client still had 11 months left on his Moz Local subscription.  When renewal approached, I asked if he wanted to keep it around.  Never heard back.  So I took note of how many of his Moz Local-controlled listings were up and running before I cancelled, and then I cancelled.

The experiment

The cancellation was on July 24 of 2016.  Here, you can see my spreadsheet on the status of the Moz Local-controlled listings a few minutes before I cancelled:

Those listings were the same as they’d been 10 months before.  Didn’t lose any or gain any that Moz Local couldn’t create or update (e.g. Factual).

I checked the listings again on August 23, 30 days after I cancelled.  No difference.

Checked ‘em again on September 22, about a month ago.  Still there.

90 days after cancellation, on October 22 (a couple days ago) I checked them again.

 

The listings that were up when I cancelled are still up 3 months after I cancelled.

Conclusions

There were and still are a couple stragglers that never did get squared away, but my point is nothing has changed: The listings didn’t disappear.  You sign up for Moz Local to have it take care of listings on PITA sites like Acxiom, LocalEze, and CitySearch.  In this case, those listings went live without problems, and didn’t go up in smoke once I cancelled.

Now, this was a micro-study on only one case.  I’d say it was a telling case, because the business didn’t have any listings on Moz Local-controlled sites before we signed up.  We started with a clean slate: no duplicate listings, or existing listings that Moz Local had to fix.  Pretty clear before-and-after picture.

Just the same, I’ll keep an eye on what happens to the listings from here, and I’d like to see the results of a similar mini-experiment on a business in a different situation.  There are a few things I still don’t know:

  • Will the same listings still be up a year from now?
  • Did our manual citation-building (on sites not in Moz’s network) in any way make Moz Local-partnered sites more likely to keep listings around after cancellation?
  • If you use Moz Local to suppress duplicate listings, do those listings just pop up once you’ve cancelled? (I’m confident they would, and it’s just a question of when).
  • Will the correct listings remain up for a business that had “messy” listings (incorrect and duplicate listings) before signing up?

Moz Local’s very good FAQ gives some insights into those questions, and I have some theories, but it’s always good to see how things play out in the real world.

No matter what, Moz Local (or any other tool) should be only a part of your strategy to get your local listings built and fixed.  You also need to work on other sites Moz Local doesn’t reach, as well as on “niche” citation sources.

Have you ever cancelled Moz Local?  If so, what happened to your listings?

Any cancellation-related questions I didn’t address?

Leave a comment!

Template for Creating Knockout City-Page Content for Local SEO

https://www.flickr.com/photos/46799485@N00/4470761409/

Most “city pages” stink more than a pig farmer’s overalls.  Even if they rank well, they usually don’t compel anyone to call.  The content is stuffed with the name of the city, but it’s boilerplate otherwise.  To would-be customers it’s just lip service from a company that seems desperate for business.

Every page is the same, except one targets “roofer Dallas,” and another is for “roofer Fort Worth,” and another goes after “roofer Plano,” and so on.

When that doesn’t work, that’s when business owners and SEOs decide to do even more of it.  They pump out even more awful city pages.  And again they wonder why the phone doesn’t ring more.

It doesn’t need to be that way.  If you’re willing to rub a few brain cells together and do a little work, city pages (or location pages) can be a super-effective way to reach customers – especially farther-away people who may not see your business in the local 3-pack / Google Maps results.

I’ve already written on how to create city pages that rank well and can drive leads.  You’ll want to read and absorb that post if you haven’t already.  You’ll know everything you need to create knockout city pages.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/theogeo/1118335116/

Except it’s still daunting.  Even if you know the right approach and will put in the work, exactly where do you start?  Do you just stare at the blank page?  If you’re building city pages for a client, how do you know if you have enough meat to make a hot dog?

That’s where my quick-start template comes in.  I’ve created a simple worksheet you can use to zero in on good, relevant, city-specific content you can put on your city pages, or a client’s.  (It’s a new-and-improved version of what I’ve used to help my clients.)

Here’s the spreadsheet on Google Drive:
(If you want a copy, download the spreadsheet.)

https://goo.gl/4ghvbn

Notes:

  1. If you (or your client) can’t answer “yes” to at least a few of the questions, city pages are probably a no-go at the moment. You’ll have nothing to say.  You’ll be the Dr. Phil of your local market.
  1. You can see real-life examples in column D of the spreadsheet.
  1. You still need to work long-term on earning relevant links. You do not necessarily need to get links to your city pages (though it’s great if you do).  But if your domain as a whole doesn’t have much link juice, even the best city page is less likely to rank well – especially if you’re in a competitive market.  The flipside if you’ve got some decent links to other pages – probably most of which point to the homepage – any city page you create is more likely to rank well and sooner.  You earn Google’s “trust.”
  1. Yes, copying and pasting your online reviews is fine – whether the reviews are from Google or from Yelp or (as far as I know) from other sites. Just don’t mark them up with Schema (or other structured-data markup) as a way to get those juicy “review stars” showing in the organic search results.
  1. If the spreadsheet isn’t your thing, you might prefer this great guide from Miriam Ellis.

Any local content-creation angles you’d add to the spreadsheet?

Any example of knockout city pages with thoughtful content?

Any other ways I can make the worksheet more useful?

Leave a comment!

Local Business Directory Support-Team Email Addresses: How to Reach a Human When You Need Help

https://www.flickr.com/photos/trailimage/12826185203/

For reasons that may or may not have to do with local SEO, you need to fix your online listings.  Maybe you want to fix 50, or just one.

All these sites all make you jump through hoops.  You’ve done everything they’ve asked you to.  You’ve filled out their forms to submit new listings as directed, and to make fixes as directed.  You’ve waited.

That process has probably worked for most of your listings, but you’ve got stragglers.  Either the form’s broken, or you get an error message no matter what you do, or the changes don’t stick, or it’s been 5 months and they still haven’t processed your listing.

It’s time to bother a human.  Someone who works at the site.

That’s only fair.  You may only have a free listing and not pay the site directly for a primo listing, but they can only make money from ads if they have a business directory big or good enough to get them traffic, which they boast about in order to sell the ads.  Your business info is part of their directory, and therefore part of their sales pitch.  They owe it to you to make basic fixes to your listing, if they don’t give you the means to do it yourself.

But most of these places don’t give you an easy way to reach someone who can help.  (Hey, time is money.)  So how do you reach someone?

I’ve compiled a list of support-team emails for various local directories, search engines, and data-aggregators.

Many of these addresses my helpers and I have used successfully.  Others are for sites we’ve never needed to contact by email.  All should reach someone who can help you, or who will refer you to someone in a neighboring cubicle who can.

Please email wisely:

  • Use a domain email if at all possible (yourname@yourcompanysite.com). Consider setting up one, if you don’t already use it for your citations.
  • Be polite. Maybe you hate the yellowpages-type company, but the support rep didn’t do anything to you (and can always find a way to decline your request if you’re nasty).
  • Make it clear exactly what you want, so they can oblige you without wasting your time or theirs on back-and-forth.
  • Make it clear you’ve tried everything else, including the normal channels.
  • Don’t email them 5 times in a day because they didn’t get back to you within the hour.
  • If for some reason they can’t say yes to your request, ask how you can get your listing fixed.
  • If you have 75 locations, first ask how you should go about getting those listings fixed en masse.
  • Don’t email them constantly. If you pee in the pool, we’ll all have to get out (but might want to throw you back in).

Here are the support emails, from A to Z, for 21 sites you might be wrangling with:

Acxiom / MyBusinessListingManager email:
mblm@acxiom.com

Angie’s List emails:
angieslist@angieslist.com or memberservices@angieslist.com

Apple MapsConnect emails:
mapsconnect@apple.com or mapsconnect-business@apple.com

Bing Places email:
placesfeedback@microsoft.com

City-Data.com email:
errors@city-data.com

CitySearch / InsiderPages emails:
myaccount@citygridmedia.com or customerservice@citygrid.com

Cylex email:
info@cylex-usa.com

Factual email:
accounts@factual.com

Foursquare business email:
support@foursquare.com

InfoGroup / ExpressUpdate email:
contentfeedback@infogroup.com

LocalEze emails:
support@neustar.biz, support@localeze.com, or localezesupport@neustar.biz

Manta email:
help@manta.com

MapQuest email:
supportteam@mapquest.com

MerchantCircle emails :
toplevelsupport@merchantcircle.com or support@merchantcircle.com

ShowMeLocal email:
support@showmelocal.com

SuperPages & DexKnows email:
customerservice@supermedia.com

Yahoo Local email
listings-support@yahoo-inc.com
(If Yext won’t help you – and you’ve tried their free-fix method – you can email Yahoo.  We’ve had success in getting duplicates removed this way.)

Yellowbook emails:
team@hibubusiness.com or servicecenter@hibu.com

YellowBot email:
help@yellowbot.com

YellowPages emails:
ypcsupport@yp.com or customer.care@yp.com

Yelp Business email:
feedback@yelp.com

I don’t have a direct, non-phone-tree phone number for most of these (yet?).  If you also want non-email ways to contact some of these sites, here are a few great resources:

Be Where Your Customers Are with Local Business Listings – Max Minzer
(includes some phone numbers and extra detail)

Major Internet Business Directories – Mike Munter
(includes some phone numbers and extra detail)

Twitter Handles for Local Business Citation Sources – Bill Bean
(in case you want to try to get help via Twitter)

Thanks to Austin Lund for letting me know about some emails (see his comment).

Special thanks to Nyagoslav of Whitespark for telling me about a few emails I didn’t know about.  By the way, if the thought of fixing all your listings yourself makes you feel like Fred Sanford, consider hiring Whitespark to help clean up your citations.

Which sites have been helpful – or not helpful – when you’ve emailed them?

Any email addresses you’re still looking for?

Any emails I’m missing?

Leave a comment!

Dummy Links: Part of a Smart Local SEO Strategy

https://www.flickr.com/photos/us7thfleet/8092179893/

What I like to call “dummy links” are links that you can get with a little commitment of resources, but without having to think too hard.

You’ll need to earn some good links (from other, relevant sites to your site) if you want to rank well in the local search results.  If you’re in a semi-competitive market, that is.  If you’re trying to rank for “Tulsa taxidermist,” you’ll probably do just fine without.

Too many business owners – and their marketing companies – think local SEO is just a matter of citations and on-page optimization and your Google My Business page and maybe getting a few reviews.  What gets overlooked is how much overlap there is between “local” SEO and classic organic SEO.  Links affect not only your rankings on the map, but also your rankings for search terms for which Google doesn’t show the map.

In my experience, links are usually the main reason that big ugly corporations fare better in the local search results than they should.

Still, most people who know links affect their visibility never really try to get them.  Business owners don’t know where to start, don’t want to pay for work with long-term payoff, or don’t want to invest much at all.  Marketing companies don’t know what to do, either, and don’t want to bill their clients for work that takes thinking, that has only long-term payoff, and that maybe doesn’t look as good on paper as “Built 50 links this month!”

I’ll assume you’re different: you’ll do what you can to get relevant, non-spammy links, if you just know roughly what direction to go.

That’s why I’ve put together this list of doable, straightforward link opportunities:

https://goo.gl/tLl6Dl

 

They’re link opportunities that may require a few minutes of research on your part, but that don’t require you to think, “OK, so what do I write, and then how do I do outreach to try to get someone to read the damn thing and link to it?”

They’re also not the types of links that any dolt could buy by the thousands on Fiverr or Upwork or ODesk – the kind Google usually likes for about a two months before putting your site in the box.

 

I’ve listed real-life examples, where possible.

Are there other ways to earn high-payoff links?  Of course.  (Here’s an excellent resource.)  Building an audience and becoming an “authority” is great.  Assuming you’ve taken care of first things first, I’ll be the last guy to try to talk you out of that.

The point is you don’t have to try something that takes years or that has a steep learning curve, just to get the kinds of links that can help your local visibility.

Grab 10 link opportunities from the list and try to execute on them over the next few months.

Any other good “dummy link” opportunities you can think of?

Any questions?

Leave a comment!

Moz Local My Business Console Debuts: Quick Facts and Thoughts

Today Moz rolled out the My Business Console, as a part of the Moz Local suite of tools and resources.  Moz engineers Mark Corley and Dudley Carr gave me a tour of it the other day, and it looks useful for multi-location businesses and SEOs.

You can read the full announcement, or my TL;DR version here.

Key points:

  • It’s a way to keep track of and manage who has access to your Google My Business pages.
  • Because that’s only a problem for people who manage multiple locations, it’ll probably only be useful if you’ve got a multi-location business, or possibly if you’re an SEO.
  • You don’t even need a Moz account (free or paid). It uses OAuth to sync up with whatever Google account you use to manage your My Business (AKA Places) pages.
  • I’m pretty sure it works in every country.
  • It’s free, and the Moz engineers tell me it will stay free.
  • As a new tool, there’s room for improvement, so you should let Moz know your thoughts.

Thoughts from test drive:

  • Don’t bother unless you have multiple locations.
  • You’ll want to get your Google-accounts house in order before using My Business Console. It’s great if you have lots of locations and maybe even lots of managers to manage.  But if each of those managers has 5 Google accounts, and they don’t know which one to use, or you aren’t sure which one to grant access to, or if you send an invite to the wrong one, things could get muddy.
  • It may take a while for Moz to authenticate your Google account, so you may be on a “loading locations” screen for a while. You may also need to refresh your browser.
  • Under the “Managers” tab in the My Business Console you can which people have access to which page(s), but you can’t see those people’s email addresses. Apparently that’s a result of Google being stingy with data.
  • There’s no “support” area yet, nor a way to help the less-savvy user know which Google account to use or not to use (like cockroaches, there’s never just one Google account). I’ve suggested to Mark and Dudley that Moz create an easy-to-access FAQs page.  Let me now in the comments if you agree.

Significance:

  • There will be more tools like this – now that there’s the Google My Business API, which lets developers make programs that deal with Google local listings. Moz plans to introduce more.  (Yext recently rolled a different, paid offering.)
  • Maybe don’t grow too reliant on it, in case Google ever kills off the My Business API.
  • I’m confident the My Business Console will stay free. It’s a great lead-gen tool for Moz Local, doesn’t cost them much, and someone else can (and probably will) develop a competing tool.

Questions?  Early feedback?

Leave a comment, so that Mark, Dudley, and other Mozzers can get your thoughts and maybe put them into action.

Announcing the Definitive List of Local Review Sites

Photo used w/ permission of Danny Nicholson of whiteboardblog.co.uk

How complete is your collection of reviews?

To know that, you’ll need to know of all the sites where customers can (and should) review your business.

I’ve found 398 local review sites so far.  Some you already know about – and may even have reviews on – but others are overlooked opportunities.

I’ve put together a handy spreadsheet for you.  It’s not in this blog post: I made a page for it because it’s a little easier for me to keep the list up-to-date that way.

Go there to sit through my preamble, to get your hands on the spreadsheet, and to read my liner notes.

See the list of review sites

By the way, right here is the place to leave comments or questions.  Don’t hold back, now.

Which Local Citation Sources Offer Follow Links?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/superiornationalforest/5062843250/

Pretty much every local listing you create for your business lets you include a link to your website, so that it’s easy for visitors to learn more about you.  But most of those are nofollow links  – meaning Google’s not supposed to “count” them for or against your rankings.

Still, some sites don’t slap a “nofollow” attribute on their links.

I (with the help of my assistant, Danielle) have put together a list of the local-business and industry-specific directories where the links to your site technically count, to one degree or another.  We scoured my Definitive Citations List, plus a few additional sites.

As you might guess, some of these sites are more notable than others.  Some are prominent directories in a niche (e.g. WeddingWire), some represent a cause (e.g. GoGreenWebDirectory.com), and others might just be on your citation checklist anyway (e.g. Brownbook).  But other sites are pretty mediocre and no-name.

Why should you know about – or bother with – a list that includes some mediocre sites with mediocre links?

  • Mediocre “follow” links have their place in the world. In the early stages of a local SEO effort, they’re signs of life that Google might observe.  They might help you rank for the one obscure search term that gets you the one customer who helps keeps you in business for long enough that you can do RCS.
  • Again, some of the sites are pretty prominent, and you may want to get listed on them for non-SEO reasons.
  • In case for whatever reason you don’t want listings on local directories that offer follow links, you’ll want to know what those sites are.
  • Maybe you’re just a curious cat, like me.

This post hits on a sticky topic, so I’m going to make you read even more preamble before I get to the actual list:

  1. Don’t rely on any one type of link or one strategy to get links.
  1. Don’t expect these “follow” links to make a huge difference by themselves.
  1. Do realize that most of the links you’ll want to earn over time will take hard work.
  1. Do use your best judgment.

austin-powers-behave

Anyway, here are the general local-business directory sites that include a follow link when you create a listing:

2FindLocal.com

6QubeDirectory.com

Bizyhood.com

BrownBook.net

CBSYellowPages.com

Cylex (on request – see Imi’s comment)

DirectoryCentral.com

DiscoverOurTown.com

EventCrazy.com

GoGreenWebDirectory.com

IndependentWeStand.org

Infignos.com

Kudzu.com (sometimes)

Lacartes.com

LocalPages.com

Opendi.us

PegasusDirectory.com

SmartGuy.com

SocialRaves.com

TicketBud.com

USBDN.com

WherezIt.com

YellowOne.com

YelloYello.com

(Note that TicketBud.com and EventCrazy.com are sites you can publicize events on.  Now that can be a good way to earn links.)

Now for some industry-specific sites that offer a follow link.  Even if you ignore the first list (above), there’s a strong case to be made for these because many of them are (1) review sites and (2) have some visibility in Google. (FYI, some of these may be paid listings.)

AutoMD.com

AWDP.org

BailBond.com

CyberAtty.com

DealerRater.com

DoctorOogle.com

Frommers.com

GetMowed.com

HomeStars.com

Justia.com

LocalGranite.com

LuxuriousLandscapes.com

MenuPages.com

MyZipPlumbers.com

OpenTable.com

Sortfolio.com

SportsTavern.com

TheBestDesigns.com

TherapyNext.com

WeddingWire.com

Zagat.com

Other sites that offer follow links are “powered by Yext” – meaning probably the only way you can get a listing there and a link is to use Yext.  These sites include eLocal, Switchboard, Topix, WhitePages, Yellowise, and others.  As Dan Leibson has noted, there may be some value in those listings / links as well.  I didn’t include those.

Local Chambers of Commerce tend to offer follow links, too.

Great discussion here, by the way.

Do you know of any sites I missed?  Any that I should definitely remove?  (I’d love to keep this list up-to-date.)

To what extent do you agree with me that “mediocre links have their place in the world,” in the sense that they can help you get the ball rolling?

Other local-citation-link-related words of wisdom?

Leave a comment!

P.S.  Thanks to Tony Wang, Michael Doran, and Kathy Long for contributing to the list with their helpful comments, below.

Quick Initial Review of Moz Local Insights (Beta)

Moz Local has come a long way in the last 20 months.  It’s a handy option for getting some of your most-important listings up and running, especially for new businesses.

It isn’t a one-stop shop for all your citation needs – nor is it meant to be – but it can often eliminate serious legwork.  It’s affordable ($84 / location / year, as of this writing.)  I often recommend it.

David Mihm just announced some new features – called Moz Local Insights.  It’s a combination of 3 dashboards that show you stats on where your business falls in the local heap.

It’s a beta release, so my initial take is probably what you’d expect: there’s a lot of promise in these new features, but they need some work.  (That’s true of any beta release.)

This post isn’t meant to be an exhaustive review, but rather just my lab notes so far.  I may add updates as I notice new things in Moz Local Insights.

Anyway, let’s go through the three new tabs, one at a time:

 

 

 

Update 11/14/15: The “Performance” area is working for me now – as a result of either Moz’s fixes or my realizing a couple senior moments I’d had, or both.

I can’t say yet what I think of the “Performance” area, because I couldn’t get it to connect with my Google Analytics accounts (where I’ve got most of my clients’ GA dashboards).

Here’s a screenshot I nabbed from David’s announcement post, just to show you what the “Performance” tab should look like:

It appears to be a slick custom Google Analytics dashboard, essentially.  Although geeks like me find it fun to sift through GA data, clients often don’t, so I think this will add value there.

It would be nice if Moz Local could attribute clicks you got as a result of your Google Places 3-pack rankings, if you’re using a tracking URL to track that stuff.

 

 

 

You’ll probably want to play around in the “Visibility” tab.  By default, Moz Local will track the categories you specified as the keywords you want to track.

The search terms you want to rank for are probably pretty different from the categories you want Moz Local to use for your various listings.  That’s why it would be nice if they sent you an email or showed a pop-up that says “Hey, update your keywords!”  (I hope you can track more than 5 of them in version 2.0.)

Maybe they emphasize that step more if you’re setting up Moz Local for a given business for the first time; I set up my clients in there pre-Insights.

The bottom line is: be sure to click that “Add and Manage Keywords” and update your keywords before you do much else in the “Visibility” tab.

 

 

 

 

The “Reputation” tab doesn’t seem to reflect accurately (yet) how many reviews the business has, and where it’s got those reviews.

Here’s one example of a client who’s got reviews on a bunch of sites, including several that show up on page one when you search for him by name:

But here’s what Moz Local shows:

The “Reputation” tab has a nice, clean layout, so I think it will be useful as a reporting tool that clients can easily log into.

At that point it won’t be too different from the Google My Business reviews dashboard, but of course the issues with Google’s dashboard are (1) many clients can’t figure out how to get in there, and (2) with Google’s new interface it’s gotten even less intuitive.  That this will be under the same roof as Moz Local’s other reporting features is nice.

One add-on I’d like to see in here is the ability to export your reviews: the text, the ratings, the reviewers’ names, where the reviews were written, when they were written – the whole burrito.  (There’s an ORM tool out there that has this export feature, but I can’t remember which one.  ReviewTrackers gives you that ability.  Thanks to Darren for reminding me.)

An export would be a handy feature partly so your reviews don’t go poof if they’re filtered or otherwise lost, and partly so it’s easy to mark them up with Schema and put them on your site (yes, even on Google+ and Yelp that’s OK).

In a nutshell: Moz has some work to do, but I like where “Insights” is headed.

What do you think of it so far?

Have you left them feedback on the beta version yet?

Leave a comment!

10 Ways to Use CrazyEgg for Smarter Local SEO

https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomaseuler/3656514979/

CrazyEgg is like night-vision for your website.  It’s an inexpensive, easy-to-install tool that shows you where visitors click, how far down the page they scroll, and much more.  I’ve used it years, on my site and on clients’ sites.  I recommend it in my audits, and to anyone with a site that’s supposed to support a business.

It shows you that intel in a heatmap for each page you want to track.  You study those heatmaps to make decisions as to how to improve your site – how to make it better at giving visitors what they’re looking for.

But CrazyEgg’s insights on clicks can also help you improve your local visibility in Google and elsewhere.

You can discover content ideas, which review sites your visitors care about most (or want to review you on), how visitors who found you through Google Places behave once they’re on your site, and much more.

By the way, there are other great click-analytics tools, like the up-and-coming HotJar, but I’m focusing on CrazyEgg because I’ve got the most experience with it and it’s been good to me for a long time.  (No, I’m not an affiliate.)

Here are all the insights (I know of) that CrazyEgg can give your local SEO campaign:

Insight 1:  Do your pages compel visitors to go deeper into your site?

You want a low bounce rate, “long clicks,” and in general for people to use your site the way Google expects they would.  The jury is out on this as a ranking factor, but in my experience it does matter.

Study CrazyEgg’s heatmaps, starting with your most-important / most-trafficked pages.

Do most visitors click where you expect and want them to?

Do they click on links / buttons for specific services you want to promote (and if so, which services)?

Do they even scroll far enough down the page to see what you want them to see?

You may have some surgery to do.

Oh, and don’t forget to re-launch your CrazyEgg test on a page once you’ve made any changes to that page.

 

Insight 2:  What FAQs-page questions are the most popular?

Knowing which questions visitors click on most can tell you what content you might be missing, and which pages you should beef up so as to answer those questions.

Create a giant FAQs page (here’s a great example), and make the questions clickable links that take visitors to the answers.  Either the answers expand, or you put them lower down on the page.  If you’re using WordPress, consider a plugin like jQuery Collapse-O-Matic.

Then let the CrazyEgg test run, until you’ve got a couple hundred clicks.  See which questions people click on the most.  Then create more content or tweak what you’ve already got (or both).

 

Insight 3:  See how your Google Places traffic behaves.

Use Google’s URL builder to create a tracking URL and add it to the “Website” field of your Google Places page.  (More detail in this post from Dan Leibson.)

Then set up a CrazyEgg test for your landing page (without the tracking parameter).  Let it run for at least a couple weeks.  Then pop open the “Confetti” view in CrazyEgg and see where your Google Places visitors tend to click.

You can even compare the types of traffic you get from practitioner Google Places pages (e.g. “John Doe DDS”) and practice pages (“Doe Dental Center”), if you’ve claimed those Google pages and added different tracking URLs to each.  This may tell you whether you should try to bury that practitioner page or spruce it up and get reviews on it so as to develop it into more of a traffic source.

 

Insight 4:  Are your “city pages” effective?

If nobody seems to click or scroll, Google may consider them garbage, too.  Help those little guys.

 

Insight 5:  Are your microsites or exact-match-domain sites just online paperweights?

(Spoiler alert: probably.)

 

Insight 6:  How many visitors show interest in your reviews?

Do they click on links to your reviews, or click on your review widgets or badges?  That might tell you a few things, like that:

(1) They probably came straight from Google.

(2) They probably didn’t see enough of your reviews in the search results.

(3) They care about reviews in general, and you could probably get more traffic and clicks (which seem to affect rankings) if you pile on the reviews.

(4) Maybe you should put your reviews on the page where currently you just link to them.  (They won’t get filtered.)

 

Insight 7:  How do reviewers (past and current customers) act once they’re on your “reviews” page?

Let’s say you give your customers a link (on paper or in an email) to a page where you’d like them to write you a review.  Which links do they click on – that is, which sites do they try to review you on?

If everyone clicks on the same site or whichever one’s listed first, you probably need to provide guidance (e.g. “Have a Google+ page? Please go to Google+”).  If people don’t seem to click at all, they may not know there are clickable links.  Do reviewers have to scroll down to see all the choices – and might miss some?

There’s a story there, if you’ll listen.  What you learn can help you get more reviews on the sites you want.

 

Insight 8:  How many people look up driving directions?

I’d hazard a guess and say that this matters a little, if you’re a bricks-and-mortar business.  Bill Slawski has written about this – that the combination of driving-directions lookups and an influx of reviews might be a ranking factor, according to one of Google’s patents.

Encourage visitors to look up driving directions.  Don’t forget to embed the right kind of map: a Google map of your business, rather than of a generic address.

 

Insight 9:  Does anyone actually click on your social-media “share” buttons”?

Rather than ask visitors to share on Facebook and Twitter and Google+ and Pinterest and LinkedIn and Reddit and create a Squidoo lens for you, you might make better use of their attention by linking them to further reading, or to your reviews, or to your contact form.

This harkens back to Insight #1 – about how you want to get visitors deeper into your site.  You also want those visitors to become customers.

 

Insight 10:  Look at each traffic source and see how those visitors behave.

Is most of your traffic from Google.com – meaning most visitors find you in the search results?

Do you have any significant traffic from sites where you’ve got reviews?  (If so, keep racking up reviews there and elsewhere.)

Do the links you’ve earned from other sites actually send you traffic – or just “link juice (you hope)?

Study the different dot-clusters.  Do all the oranges click your “Read Reviews” link?  Does it seem that none of the blue-dot visitors clicks at all?

Bonus insight: You might conclude, finally, that Yahoo Local is a total waste of time.

Can you think of other ways that click-analytics can help your local SEO?

Any tips on those – or on CrazyEgg in general – you’d like to share?

Leave a comment!