Andy Crestodina: “You don’t need 1,000 articles. You need 100 great articles.”

Andy Crestodina is a guy whose marketing advice you should listen to. In 20 years of his digital marketing career, he helped more than a thousand businesses, co-founded a…

The post Andy Crestodina: “You don’t need 1,000 articles. You need 100 great articles.” appeared first on Mangools.

Did you miss our previous article…
https://www.61seoservices.com/?p=287

Google Starts Cheering Anti-Spam Edits in Google Maps

Just about every day I send in edits on Google My Business pages that have committed one party foul or another, but this is the first I’ve seen Google go out of its way to encourage those edits:

It was a partial edit of a business’s name, in which I removed a single stuffed-in keyword.  I find two things interesting, at least in this case.  The first is that I made that edit back in 2018.  The second is that that edit has stuck for almost 3 years, even though it would have been easy for the business to add back in the keyword.  Often when you make a Google Maps edit on the name of GMB page and Google agrees with your edit and makes the change, the business just changes the name back to whatever it was, and Google doesn’t do anything about it.  Often it becomes a tug of war.

I wasn’t the first to notice this; it’s reported in this tweet from last month.

Got an email update from @googlemaps. It says “Your reported problem is making a difference”

“You changed the name of Spicy Ramna Restaurant, which has now been seen over 2,000,000 times. Thanks for making such a valuable edit to the map.” #localguides #googlemaps pic.twitter.com/gtZFqRfkEC

— Saiful Islam Sohel (@saifulissohel) June 16, 2021

But that’s it.  I haven’t seen anyone else mention it yet, nor have I gotten similar nudges from Google on other edits.

So far, Google doesn’t seem to cheer recently-submitted, recently-approved edits.  You’d think if that Google really wanted to encourage more Mapspam policing you would get emails on fresh edits, the same way Google emails you all the time about photos and reviews you posted.

Of course, only some kinds of Google Maps anti-spam edits can even get 80,000 views.  A completely bogus GMB page that you get removed no longer gets any views, of course.  I suppose those sorts of edits would be harder to encourage, even though fake GMB pages are the most damaging type of Google Maps spam by far.

Presumably you could get the same kind of email if you make a “popular” edit unrelated to spam, like on a business’s hours, but notice the subject line of the email: “Your reported problem is making a difference.”  Seems to have a spam-control flavor to it.

Have you seen this before?  If so, when, and for what kind of Google Maps edit?

What do you think Google is aiming for here, exactly?

Leave a comment!

Shoehorning Cities into the Address Field of a Google My Business Page

https://www.flickr.com/photos/chodhound/7373250998/

I may have seen this before, but it must not have registered with me until I saw it more than once on the same page of Google Maps results.   In any event, it’s new to me.  Below is an example.  Do you see what’s out of place?

Is it the plump business name?  Nope.  Keyword-stuffing like that is omnipresent.  What else looks odd?

That “service area” – Holy Moses!  Has Google started displaying in Google Maps all the cities in your GMB service area?  That’s what I thought at first, but notice: the cities are in the “address” field.

The street address is in the address field, but so are 12 cities (known as “suburbs” in Australia) and communities the business serves.

That isn’t a fluke, because on the very same page of Google Maps results is another GMB page with the same rigging, though both pages appear to belong to the same company.

 

That city-stuffed “address” field only shows up in Google Maps, as in at google.com/maps/search.  It does not show up if you just type the query into Google and click on the map, or click on the “View all” link under the map, to pull up the local finder.

So, as with so many other things Google lets slide, it appears you can cram your service area into the address field of your GMB page.  Does it help rankings or help the business rank in a wider area?  I don’t know, though I would guess it doesn’t.  Those particular GMB pages don’t rank at the top of the heap for that query, but they’re far from the bottom: they’re #4 and 9, respectively, as of this writing.  Not bad.  They’re in the mix.  I could see how that stuffed address field might get more clicks, because the misplaced “service areas” blob is eye-catching.  But is that possible benefit worth increasing the chances of a suspension?  Probably not.

I wouldn’t suggest stuffing the address field with city names (or anything else), but I’ll admit I admire the fancy footwork required to do what that business did.

Speaking of which, how did they do that?

 

My educated guess is they verified the GMB page at the appropriate address, waited a while (and maybe worked on their citations), and then later went to work on the 1st “address” field in the GMB dashboard.  It’s possible that didn’t even trigger re-verification by postcard.  If it did trigger reverification, then the business owner must have been able to get the postcard sent to the first, correct version of the address (the one without all the city names), possibly in the way Joy Hawkins described here.

I might tinker around with this on my own GMB page (not a client’s) – just out of curiosity, and to see what’s involved.

How many times have you seen a GMB address field like that?

Has someone else written about it before?  (If so, I’d like to give that person credit.)

Any part of it you’re curious about?

Leave a comment!

Did you miss our previous article…
https://www.61seoservices.com/?p=258

10 Years of Local Search Blogging

https://www.flickr.com/photos/yellowstonenps/33294412078/

Today marks 10 years since I started blogging about local SEO and related topics, and in my view it marks the real start of my business and all that’s brought – including 400+ posts, way more skill, great clients, a great living, some friendships, a better understanding of my place on this dustball, and a bit of fun along the way.

Therefore, as Klingon ritual dictates, I must offer up a few stray thoughts today, even if there is an 80% chance it’s all irrelevant to you and a complete waste of your time.  On the other hand, if you’re a business owner who’s interested in the blogging or “content” thing, or if you’re a longtime reader here, or if you’re a local SEO-er, there may be bits and pieces of interest to you.

As I alluded to in my post from 5 years ago, I had been in local search for a couple of years by June of 2011, but my business model was completely different (i.e. not workable), and I didn’t have a blog or any other good way to connect with the very few other people in local search at the time, with or most of the people who’d become my clients.  If I never started the blog, there never would have been a business that lasted this long, and the start date wouldn’t have meant anything to me.  So maybe June of 2008 is the anniversary of my career choice, and September of 2009 is the anniversary of the website.  But June 1, 2011 is the anniversary of the business.

Anyway, even though most of my comments are on other matters, there are a couple of drive-by points I’d like to make about local search in general on this auspicious day.

I’m amazed at what a friendly industry this still is. By that, I mean the vast majority of people who work full-time in local SEO are nice people. I still haven’t figured out exactly why that is.  I haven’t even figured out how that can be, given how many unethical agencies there are, how many questionable software “solutions” have come and gone, how much spam is on the map, Google’s ever-increasing shadiness, and of course the horrors of the last year-plus.  Despite all of that, there remains a Mayberry vibe, and I’m grateful for it.Local search doesn’t seem to change much. Google’s tweaks, updates, ad injections, and rebrands seem like a big deal at the time, but they rarely still seem like major events in hindsight. Non-Google entities – other search engines, directories, software, services – tend not to influence the basic activities that separate some businesses from others.  “Revolutions” are few and far-between.  Mobile was a big deal.  Voice search…apparently not so much.

Neither of those observations is new to me, and probably isn’t a “Eureka!” moment for you, either.  In a similar way, if I were to recap what I’ve learned in the last 10 years, at least half of it would be exactly what I remarked on 5 years ago.  I’d say all of that still holds true.  But since then a few more things have dawned on me.

So, below are some observations, recommendations, and other neural gas from my last 10 years of blogging.  I hope these are relevant to you if you’re either a business owner who has some interest in blogging or other “content,” or if you’re in the local search industry, or both.

Don’t write for a big splash on Monday; write a post that readers will find useful for years.  The post may address a problem they don’t even have yet, and those people’s first visit to your site may be many months away.  Delivering your solution to those people is tricky, but if you can do it even a few times, your blogging will be worth everyone’s time.  If there’s one thing I’ve come to appreciate in the last 10 years, and especially in the last 5, the “think in years” approach is it, and most of my other thoughts here today are about how to do it.  A blog post should be less like sushi and more like a Slim Jim.You need an additional line of communication immediately downstream of your blog posts.  Probably your best bet is your email newsletter and not a Twitter feed or Facebook page or similar medium that you don’t really control and can be booted from.  In any event, very few people will read your post and contact you with the intention of working with you.  Either there’s not a need yet, or they need to get to know you more.  Whatever you hope to get out of it, blogging should part of the system, rather than the whole system.  This is where my “seed audience” approach may help.You can’t just be a blogger; you still need to ply your trade.  Ever watch This Old House-type shows and wonder whether the hosts ever swing a hammer?  Skills rot, and then insights do.  If you become the “ideas person” then it’s a matter of time before you start writing about inconsequential stuff, because you’ve lost sight of your audience’s challenges and therefore any solutions.  You can’t keep growing plants in soil that never gets replenished.  Keep your focus on doing your craft, rather than on blogging.  That’s how you’ll keep growing the experience that makes blogging worth your time and your readers’ time.Customers / clients / patients are your single best source of ideas.  They never run out of questions, observations, or new challenges.  If you talk with them all the time and hear what they’re saying, you’ll never run out of “content” ideas.  This is a main reason I say you need to remain hands-on in your business.Link out often and err on the side of giving more credit rather than less.  It compels you to do a little more homework on whatever you’re writing about, it makes for a more-helpful read, it’s just good form, and you’ll make more friends.It’s OK to slow down the pace.  The “write every day” approach has benefits, but isn’t sustainable.  Even if you put up something new once a week, you’ll run out of good ideas faster than you can get your hands on them.  Then either you’ll be forced to slow down anyway, or you’ll produce mush.  The right pace is the one you can stick with.  Case in point: I don’t post as often as I used to.  My “5 Years of Local Search Blogging” post was #276.  This one today is #405, rather than #552.  In the first 5 years I’d average 4 posts a month.  In the last 5 years I’ve averaged 1-2 posts a month.  So I’m going at about half the pace.  Has it hurt business?  Quite the opposite.  The posts are just more consistently useful these days.Avoid sounding corporate, or like a bigger organization than you are.  Avoid pompous words (like “ideation”), avoid industry jargon when you can, and don’t say “we” when you can say “I.”  Whatever you write or share, make it sound more like how you talk in-person.  I know that’s easier said than done, and I’ll admit that a very useful but stuffy post does more good for you and the reader than a less-useful but fun post can.  All I’m saying is go for useful AND relatable whenever you can.Don’t imitate anyone else, or at least anyone else in your industry.  Cover topics nobody else has, and do it in whatever style works for you, without necessarily thinking too much about it.  There’s a practical layer to that, which is that you don’t want to be an also-ran.  A decent number of people and entities in local search have done, shall we say, adaptations of my posts – often years after I wrote about whatever topic.  (I’d rather not name names.)  Often even the titles of the posts are similar to my originals.  Can’t say it doesn’t irk me a little, but those posts tend to be written by newer people, who often don’t have a mental bibliography of what’s been covered over the years.  The other reason not to cover other singers’ songs is that what you produce will be more memorable and therefore more useful to your readers.  I can’t tell you the number of times I talk with business owners who tell me they approach SEO/marketing in a certain way because of something I wrote in a post 3 years ago.  This may sound odd, but the universe knows if you’re original.Figure out what kind of habit or habits your posts will reinforce.  The people you’re writing for don’t want “fresh content”; they want to form habits that have payoff and can help them with problems big and small.  There is a place in the world for “daily news,” but people also get maxed out on that.  Also, the bearer of news often is not or will not seem to be a go-to person anyone wants to hire.  If your whole blogging or other content strategy is “news,” you’ll get an audience that just wants the news…and nothing more from you.  Instead, what you want is for people to think of what you produce in terms like, “every time I’m done with his post I come away with an idea I want to try,” or “every time I read one of her posts I learn about a problem I didn’t know about, and can avoid before it becomes a problem for me.”  Your blog (or other content vehicle) should be a gym, and not a sample tray at the supermarket.  Do that by focusing on specific questions and concerns, rather than on what you think will get clicks.Show gratitude to your readers.  Never take them for granted, even if they never pay you a dime or help in a conspicuous way.  The best way to do that is not to waste their attention with info that isn’t useful.  The next-best way is to ask for their feedback whenever you can and along the way to thank them for reading.  You may have a rough idea of what their situation is today, but you never know what’s next.  Some readers may be squeaking by today but will become a big success tomorrow – possibly due in part to the info you share – and he or she will return the good karma when you least expect it.  Other readers may refer you to friends or family who become great and longtime clients.  Some readers will get hit by a bus tomorrow.  Most people will read your stuff and benefit from it quietly.  Your audience isn’t a blob; the people in it will change over time.  We’re all just passing through town.  The question is what you do in the interim.  Pay extra attention to people who read your stuff year after year.  Ask them questions from time to time, and get to know them on one level or another.

 

This is probably a good time to say, whether you’re a longtime reader or just tripped on a banana peel and landed here, thanks for reading!

I’d be interested to hear if you have an all-time favorite post, or a favorite recent one, and of course I’d love any suggestions or questions.  (As always, I hope you’ll leave a comment.)

Service Pages and Local SEO: 20+ Principles to Make Them Your Rock-Solid Foundation

https://www.flickr.com/photos/billburris/2406031897/

I work with clients on all kinds of local-visibility-related challenges, but you would not believe how much time I spend on service pages: explaining, critiquing, troubleshooting, inventorying, creating, and refining them, and then doing it all over again.

By “service page” I mean any page that’s focused on a specific service you offer.  But everything I recommend here also applies to whatever you may offer: products you sell, medical treatments you perform, legal cases you handle, etc.

Service pages can help you in many ways, including in that they:

Turn more of your visitors into customers, no matter how good or bad your search engine visibility is.Can bring you most of the organic rankings you’ll get.Can pop you into the Google Maps results / local 3-pack.Can produce a “local one-box” result, for more-specialized search terms.Serve as landing pages for Google Ads, likely helping your conversion rate and Quality Score.Help you develop a better understanding of your customers’ problems and why they might want your solutions.

Service pages never get less important.  I spend about as much time on them for super-longtime clients as I do for newer clients.  They help businesses that are squeaking by and businesses that are breakin’ necks and cashin’ checks.  No matter where you are in the local SEO process, time you spend on service pages is time well-spent.

They’re also one of the most basic parts of local SEO (and non-local SEO).  Without them there’s usually not much on the site you CAN optimize, or much for would-be customers to see if they even make it to your site.  If you’re a business owner who can’t or won’t put in the time to get your service pages right, your local rankings will have a Denver boot on them until that changes.  If you’re a local SEO who doesn’t put much time into service pages, your clients are in trouble.  Service pages should be your fastball, your cover of “Yesterday,” your Hamlet.

On the one hand, if you won’t do crackerjack “service” pages, you might as well not bother with other types of pages and other aspects of local SEO (and marketing) that are much harder to do well.  On the other hand, in most cases you can get just about everything else wrong and still get at least some business if you can develop powerful service pages.

How do most competitors approach them?  As an afterthought, as something to try after gimmicks and hacks haven’t worked out, or not at all.  The relatively few businesses that produce strong service pages tend to do well in the search results and in terms of business.  That’s your opening.

 

So, how can you make service pages that haul some freight for you?  Below are the main principles I suggest you apply.  (I show examples where it makes sense, and I have a list of examples at the end.)

Principle 1: Start making service pages very early in your local SEO effort. Are they priority #1? Probably not, because you’ve probably got a few quicker wins at hand.  But right after taking care of the urgent stuff, start cranking out service pages.  It takes time to draft, build, optimize, and link to them.  It takes a while longer for Google to index your pages, and for them to start ranking for anything, for you to see what’s in the net and to make changes, and for those pages eventually to rank higher or for tougher terms (or both).  You’ll want to get a jump on it.

Principle 2: Figure out roughly how many service pages to aim for by sticking to a simple rule: if you want customers for it, create a page on it. There isn’t much to it beyond that, but I will throw in a few caveats:

You shouldn’t have multiple pages on exactly the same service; the services should be distinct.I don’t suggest creating city-service permutation pages.Even if you’ve got a page on each distinct service, you may have some opportunities to create good spin-off pages.

Principle 3: Don’t let your menu limit the number or types of pages you create. You don’t have to link all your pages in the main menu, and sometimes you may conclude it just doesn’t make sense to do so. That’s fine.  All that matters is you link to your service pages in multiple noticeable spots on the site.  On the other hand, if you’ve found the main menu has started to rip its pants but you want to keep adding pages to it, consider something like a mega menu.

Principle 4: Make it a page, not a post. If you also have a post about the service, fine. You can always consolidate later.  You can always make a complementary post later.  But at least get the page.

Principle 5: Know, produce, and use the types of content that are effective on service pages:

FAQs, especially from customers/clients/patients and from leads. If you have to pick just one type of service-page content to focus on, FAQs should probably be it.Reviews from people who got your service. If possible, link back to where the person wrote the review (like on Google Maps).Photos, especially before-and-after photos.Videos, preferably YouTube embeds, and preferably of you at work or speaking.Case studies or war stories (on specific projects, cases, procedures, etc.).Links to related pages on your site, particularly related service pages.“Steps in our process.” As you describe what goes into the sausage, you’ll probably use some of the other types of content (e.g. photos)Bio / profile info on specific people in your business who offer or specialize in that service.Synonyms and near-synonyms of the service. You may be able to rank for some o those, too, without too much sweating.

Here’s a great example.

Principle 6: Scavenge content from dud blog posts and low-performance pages and use it to better effect on your service pages. Do you have old service pages with 90% junk but 10% good info? Did you write some blog posts that not even the bug on your laptop screen read?  If they’ve got some content that describes your services pretty well, see what you can grab and use on a new services page or on an existing one.  If the old page or post had some decent rankings, traffics, or links, you’ll probably want to 301-redirect it to the current / new services page.

Principle 7: Avoid creating city-service permutation pages, as in a service page for each city where you offer. Occasionally there’s a good reason to have them, but in the final shootout they tend to disappoint.

Principle 8: Get the 1.0 version up quickly, but work on the page continually. You can and should develop and improve the page over the long haul, and you may want the 2.0 version to happen sooner rather than later. Always look for ways to show off recent work, address questions you get, and describe people’s problems and your solutions in more detail.

Principle 9: Make your target geography explicitly clear. Specify your exact service area, or the specific places where you get the most customers/clients/patients, or (if you’re a multi-location businesses) which locations offer the service. Good service pages don’t just describe what you do: They’re also about where you do it, where you’ve done it, or where people who have gotten it have come from.

Principle 10: Front-load your page: start off with brief description of what the service is and who needs it, then put a call-to-action (maybe even a contact form), then go into all kinds of detail on the service, and then put another call-to-action at the bottom. Most people flub their service pages in one of two ways: either they don’t describe the service at all and assume customers have enough info to take the next step, or they go into a PhD dissertation about the service before they tell customers what the next step is.

Principle 11: Go heavy on the internal links – both to your service pages and on your services pages. Don’t have just one trail of breadcrumbs to a service page. In general, I try to link to each high-priority service page on the homepage, in the main menu, in the footer, on the main “services” page, at the very least.  If possible, also link to them on your pages for related services , and on “bio” pages for specific people on your crew.  In general, how heavy you go on the internal linking should be proportionate to how important you consider this or that service.  Inbound links from relevant other sites to your service pages will be hard to come by, so it’s extra important to feed those pages the link juice from your other, perhaps more-linked-to pages.

Principle 12: Continually look for or create opportunities to add more internal links to any given service page. On other service pages, on relevant blog posts, etc. This is in addition to the initial batch of internal links you should have added right after you created the service page.  Over time the opportunities and the need to add more links to that service page will taper off, but you should always be on the prowl.  Especially once you more pages than fingers and toes, you’ll be surprised at how many good places there are to add relevant internal links.  By the way, I wouldn’t be too concerned about overdoing it.

 

Principle 13: Don’t burn yourself out by making niche pages way more detailed than they need to be. Or you won’t get all the pages you need or it’ll take you forever. The more niche or specialized the page is, the less detailed the page needs to be.  Also, the more niche the page is, the more likely it is to rank across a wider patch of geography.  Go extra long and detailed on services for which you have more or tougher competitors.  On more-specialized service pages, though, it probably won’t take as much effort to rank.

Principle 14: Create spin-off pages at every opportunity, and link to them on existing service pages at every opportunity.

Principle 15: Embed every half-decent video on your site. If you do nothing else with a video you put on your business’s YouTube channel, put it on at least one “service” page you care about. In my experience, the view count is a big factor in how visible a video is in YouTube and in turn in Google’s main search results.  Which creates a chicken-and-the-egg question: if your video doesn’t rank for anything, how do you rack up the views?  You do it by getting people who visit your site to watch videos relevant to the service(s) they’re interested in.  (Similar to the “seed audience” approach I suggest for your blog, if you blog.)  Also, if the video doesn’t suck, it can be persuasive and help you get more business out of however much (or little) visibility you’ve got.  This is the single highest-payoff thing you can do with your videos.  Don’t just keep them cloistered on YouTube.

Principle 16: Add a section your online/virtual offering, if applicable. See my 2020 post on the topic: Doable Examples of Online/Remote Services Offered by Local Businesses

Principle 17: Wheel out your best copywriting and other persuasive stuff. Like your homepage and contact page, a service page is a “money” page, where people can and often do decide whether to take the next step. In many cases it’s the first page visitors have seen, and you don’t want it to be the last you’ve seen of those visitors.  Your service pages can get customers in the chute even if the rest of your pages aren’t very persuasive yet, or if your USP still isn’t crispy enough.  That means now is the time to copy and paste reviews from customers who got that service, show relevant photos/videos, address every frequently asked question, say exactly who does NOT need your service, describe all the alternatives, and make it plain as day how your service differs from competitors’.  As my track coach used to say, “Leave it all on the track.”

Here’s one of my all-time favorites.

Principle 18: Add “refer a friend” offers, pro bono offers, and discounts for certain customers, if possible. It’s a small bit of relevant content, but more important is it’s a way to expand your customer base beyond the footprint of your current rankings. Even as your search engine visibility improves over time, you want to become less reliant on it.  Rustling up business is still the ultimate point of it all.  But even that feeds into your rankings, too, because each customer can also yield a review or testimonial, a case study, photos, a video, or even more – all of which can help your rankings.  At least in that odd respect, customers are your content.

Principle 19: Don’t be too concerned about duplicate content – either between different service pages or between service pages and other pages. If you avoid the misguided “city-service” page strategy, there’s not much risk of your making service pages that are too similar to each other. One page is about this service, and the other page is about that service.  There will be some overlap – some boilerplate – and that’s fine.  Google is used to seeing that, and I’ve never seen a “penalty” of any kind from Google.  Assuming you did an OK job on both of the pages (by following my other recommendations), the worst that happens is one page doesn’t rank so well and you need to take another chop at it.

Principle 20: Study your service pages early and often in Google Search Console. Look them up in “Performance” -> “Pages” and see what terms they rank for (and don’t rank for), how many impressions they get, how many clicks they get, what the months-long trend looks like, and which service pages are doing better than others. You’ll get a sense of whether you need to develop your page more, make it more enticing to click on in the search results, or blast more internal links to it.  Once you know how the page stacks up, the action items probably won’t take too much thinking.

Principle 21: Become a connoisseur of competitors’ and others’ service pages. Don’t just give them a sniff in the search results and move on. Go through the pages in search of good ideas you can adopt or adapt.

Principle 22: Don’t put all of your effort into service pages. I know that sounds strange, given how much I just talked about service pages. But those are only part of the rigging.  Your homepage, “areas served” page, maybe “city” pages, and other pages all can rank and convert, and require your effort.

Examples of local-business sites that use service pages effectively

Below are a few examples of sites with rock-solid service pages.  (I have more examples if you’d like them; just let me know what industry you’re looking for an example in.)

KapturePest.com

SpaciousMindCounselling.com

HoustonFaces.com

PHXInjuryLaw.com

PremoElectric.com

CentralMassAuctions.com

BestHandymanBoston.com

Hoyes.com

JohnThePlumber.ca

Relevant posts

Local Justifications Are a Big Deal and You Can Influence Them – Miriam Ellis

Title Tags for Local SEO: Increase Your Local Traffic and Click-Through Rate – Darren Shaw

How Does YouTube Count Views? We Break It Down – Kayla Carmichael

One-Time Work vs. Ongoing Work in Local SEO – me

Should You Make It a Page or a Post? – me

You Offer 10 Services and Serve 10 Cities, So You Create 100 City Pages? Why City-Page Proliferation Is Dumb – me

Spin-off Pages: a Bazooka for Your Local SEO – me

10 Bootstrap Ways to Grab More of Your Service Area in Local Search – me

How to Rank for “Near Me” Local Search Terms – me

Odd Relationships in Local Search – me

Any principles I forgot – SOPs that have worked well for your service pages?

Any examples of sites that are dialed-in on their service pages?

Leave a comment!