Causes for Ranking Loss Identified & Successfully Remedied
19/11/14 SEO

Causes for Ranking Loss Identified & Successfully Remedied

This post is about things I have identified as causes for sites not placing well since the last quarter of 2013.

I don’t know if related to Hummingbird, or Panda/Penguin specifically, because they are things that have always been problems that could kill rankings. However, the issues did not affect the performance of the sites until October 2013, which is when they all fell off the first page into nowhere land.

1)     Bad Backlinks – and by this I mean specifically:

Free Directory Links – These are links on spammy, free directories. They are bad neighborhoods, because any site can be listed on them, so it’s where sites that can’t get good links go to get links, like porno sites for example. To see examples of these types of directories, all you have to do is Google “free links directory”.

Blog Comment Links – This is where you go to a blog, make a comment and link back to your site with a keyword.

2) Having more than one domain name pointed at your site, and it’s pointed incorrectly. Instead of it being 301 redirected, it’s 302 redirected or not redirected at all. A 301 redirect tells Google the site moved to a new domain permanently (this is the right way to do it). A 302 is temporarily moved. Google sees 302 redirects and/or no redirect at all, as two separate sites with duplicate content. They also see the non-www and www versions of your site as separate sites. For example, and – When you go to you will notice it redirects in the address bar to This is called setting your canonical url, and prevents Google from indexing both versions. Your site needs to be represented one way, either with or without the www, and under only one domain name.

3) Having bad links (as above) on an old domain that is redirected to your site. Your current domain may not have bad links, but your old one might. And if old is redirected to new, all those bad links still count against you.

4) Not having original content, or someone copied/stole your content. You can check this at

5) Targeting a city in your main SEO where your office is not physically located. Since Hummingbird (from what I’ve noticed), Google seems to only be serving up sites for local searches that actually have a physical location in that city. Example: you are going after Dallas as your main seo focus, but you are located in Plano. It doesn’t mean sites don’t still slip through and manage to rank without an address, but it’s an exception to the rule when it does happen (and might be because the site is very old, is being grandfathered in, or has a bunch of trust, which equates to ranking power with Google. The solution is to target the city where you actually are located, or get an executive suite address from a company like for the main city you care about ranking for (not a UPS or postal center address or P.O. box). You’ll also need a Google+ (map listing) page for the address, and citations in the major business directories from a company like, and BBB membership listing your address is a VERY good idea. I have written several blogs about this, which you can find at:

If you have not joined your local BBB, I suggest you do so. Here is the person to contact for the Dallas area:

Brian Reagan | District Manager – Phone: 214-740-0343 – Email: He is VERY helpful, SEO knowledgeable (on the board of the DFWSEM) and speaks at conferences. He is interested in your success online.

The above are major issues I have encountered recently, that once corrected have repaired rankings. Make sure they are not issues you have if you have lost your placement on Google.

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How to Improve Your Local Search Results
19/11/14 SEO

How to Improve Your Local Search Results

Search engine optimization doesn’t have to be hard, speaking from a purely technical standpoint.  It’s mostly hard work, and just using white-hat techniques Google says to use. Sure, there are some things you can do to get more out of what you do, but just remember the bottom line when it comes to SEO:  focus on providing value to people who visit your website.

Most small business owners are so time-strapped, that they just don’t do these basic things that could greatly improve their Google local search results:

Consistent NAP Use

Your name, address, and phone number (your “NAP” information) must be 100% consistent across the web.  You see, Google trusts websites and businesses that have been around longer.  They want your website to be much like your physical business location – always in the same place, and easy to find.

One mistake you might make is to use “Suite” instead of “Ste.” when entering your NAP information online.  You can use either way, but just make sure it’s exactly the same. You can check it here to see what I mean.

Regularly Produce Content

Many business owners seem to understand blogging is important.  But because they’re strapped for time, you can often visit their website and see one update made 2 months ago, one 6 months prior to that, and nothing else. I’m not criticizing here (because I am also guilty), just discussing the facts.  You don’t have to go crazy with content.  About one 800-1000 word blog post per month does the job.  But, the more you do, the better.

And if you want to get highly active social media profiles and build a community that comments on your blog, you’re going to need several blog posts per month.

Have a Nice, Clean, Modern-Looking Website

This is important for SEO for a few reasons:

If your website looks too old, people might think you’re not in business anymore.  If they click on your website, look at it 2 seconds, and then leave, in technical terms, this is called a “bounce.”  If the percentage of people who bounce off your website gets too high (greater than 50% or more), Google might think your website isn’t a match for what they’re looking for.

Then, your rankings will take a hit.

The second important aspect of a website is how fast it loads.  A second or less is ideal, while 2 seconds or less does the job.  Google views a fast-loading website as offering a good user experience, and it wants those websites at the top of its rankings.  Slow load time also affects sales.

Digital marketing thought leader KISSmetrics conducted a study, which found sites that take around 4 seconds to load lose around 22% of their sales right off the bat.  That number falls to about 10% at 2 seconds, and 3% or so at 1 second.

Third, your website should be “responsive” in design.  That means it displays perfectly on desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablet PCs.  Google’s actually endorsed responsive design publicly, and it doesn’t too often make it publicly and distinctly clear what it wants from websites and SEOs. If it’s not responsive, at least make sure you have a mobile version of your site.

Finally, you also have to use the minimum amount of code behind the scenes to make this happen.  That’s highly technical so I won’t go any further into it, but know that less is more when it comes to code, and that websites have to be designed with SEO in mind from the start.

An example of a good website would be:

Looks modern

Simple, easy to navigate menu at the top

Good use of color to keep things interesting, without going overboard

Very fast load speed

Logo in the upper left tells you who they are and what they do immediately

Claim Your Google Places Account & Get Active on Google+

Here’s an article on how to if you haven’t yet. Also, a regularly updated G+ business page with a few social media posts monthly, could help increase the number of people who have you in their circles, and also potentially help you get more social shares (which are a significant ranking factor for Google these days).  Here’s a detailed post on a simple social media strategy time-strapped SMB owners can use.

Get Online Reviews

I wrote a whole post about getting online reviews.  Not only are good reviews a booster for your search rankings, but reviews allow you to do market research and see what about your business needs to improve to make your customers happier.

If you have a misbehaving employee, long wait times, or a product that breaks too often, people aren’t afraid to let you know online.  If you ask for feedback in-person, most customers are less truthful because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

You want to be above at least 4 stars, and ideally 4.5 stars or more.

So as you can see, although the website coding tip is fairly complicated, most of these are not.  Internet marketing is more about providing value to your website visitors and doing consistent hard work than anything else.

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Need Online Business Reviews?  Read This!
19/11/14 SEO

Need Online Business Reviews? Read This!

Google’s publicly stated a number of different SEO benefits that reviews provide your website:

When you have 10-20 reviews, Google ranks your business higher – according to Higher Visibility

Reviews also offer fresh content (if you choose to post them on your site), and this helps satisfy the Google Fresh Update

Besides that, the fact that you have a good average rating encourages more people to use your business.  In fact, 52% of those surveyed by Hubspot said positive customer reviews make it more likely they’ll purchase from that business (compared to 28% who choose based on location and price alone). And, what people say in those reviews can also increase sales – and especially so if what they say is results-oriented.

If you’re not already aware, one site that really stinks for reviews is Yelp.  They’ve received tons of complaints, including allegations they filter out positive reviews, allow negative ones, and do so with more frequency when the company in question refuses to purchase advertising through Yelp.  Some also claim Yelp deletes positive reviews offered by reviewers with profiles that aren’t highly active.  So whatever you do, stay far, far away from Yelp.

There’s only about a million other business review sites online, so which are the most important?  Here are a few:

  • Google+ Local
  • The BBB
  • Angie’s List
  • Citysearch
  • Merchant Circle
  • Epinions
  • Insider Pages
  • Yellow Pages

You don’t need to be on all of them, but you should get listed on 3-4 or so to start.

Now here’s the question you really want the answer to:

How do You Create a Strategy for Getting Online Reviews?

If you’ve been wondering how to get online reviews, you don’t have to worry about it too much.  It’s actually pretty simple.

Some ideas for getting online business reviews:

Ask for them in Person.  Wait until you’ve made a customer happy, and then ask them to review your business online.  Mention the site you’d like them to use though – otherwise you might get them from an undesirable website (like Yelp).

If your customers are under 30… Consider using your social network profiles to ask for a review.  They do everything online, so it’s pretty easy to get them to take action.  Encourage unbiased, honest feedback.

Do you have an e-mail list?  If so, that’s a great way to ask for a review.

Don’t have a list, but do have the e-mail?  Send an e-mail to your customer about 3 days or so after service.  Inside the e-mail, add links to the top sites from which you’d like to receive reviews.  Better yet, just make that part of your signature so you don’t have to type the links up over and over again.

If you do most of your business by phone… Try following up with your customers using a comment card.  Use return postage on the card, attach it to your invoice, and ask for the review.

For customers that purchase in-store… Include a short note at the bottom of their receipt.

For smartphone users…  Add a QR code to your business or comment cards they can take along with them.  When scanned, this should take them directly to your desired review site.  Yeah, it costs a little, but QR codes are pretty simple, so it’s not a huge additional expense, and the business you get from the better reviews will more than offset the cost of the QR code.

Create a dedicated testimonial section on your website.  It’s as simple as can be – and you’ll get reviews from your desired site.  On that page, you could embed your reviews, which also helps your SEO.

Some Additional Tips

Now that you have some strategic ideas in place for getting more online reviews, let’s talk about some things you should and should not do.

Avoid creating fake reviews.  It’s tempting to do, but don’t do it.  Review sites are becoming aware of this and are removing the fake reviews.  And if you’re customers discover this is happening, you’ll lose a ton of trust.  If you get caught, you could also get fined for it.

Don’t offer incentives for reviews.  This could actually hurt your business more so than anything else.  Your top customers could feel hurt you’re willing to manipulate the system like this.  Additionally, you’ll also get biased information, which means you can’t make solid business decisions.

Do ask promptly.  The shorter you ask for a review after the time of service, the more likely you are to actually get the review.  An article at Search Engine Land claims you can get completion rates of 80-90% when you do this.

Fill out your business profiles.  You always want to have the appearance that your business is active, so make sure your profiles are fully filled out on all websites where you want to get reviews.  It’s a good idea to include pictures of your business, staff, products, and services as well.

Respond to as many reviews as possible.  If you’re smaller, make sure you hit every single one, at least thanking people for their feedback.  Others will notice how much you care, and that may be enough for you to choose them over another business.Address negative reviews.  If you can contact a person who makes a negative review and resolve the issue, do it.  Then, follow up the review with comments, if you were able to come to a resolution that makes the customer happy.

So if you’re wondering how to get business reviews online, that’s the short of it.  Yes, I know, more to manage, but also very necessary and helpful to take care of in today’s business environment.

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Multiple Addresses & Phone Numbers + Bad Google Rankings
19/11/14 SEO

Multiple Addresses & Phone Numbers + Bad Google Rankings

If you are having a Google ranking problem, it is critical to make sure you do not have addresses and phone numbers you don’t know about cited online creating possible Google confusion or location spam.

You can do this by searching for your company name on Google, Bing and Yahoo (and also check the local maps section of these search engines). Look for any current and past phone numbers and addresses you may have used.

If you do have multiple addresses and phone numbers that are legitimate, you MUST dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s everywhere for the sake of your Google rankings. Each address needs the following, or should be deleted from your site and everywhere else online in my opinion. From what I have seen lately, something as simple as having another address listed on your website, unless you have properly covered these bases, could be hurting you on Google (even your map placement).

Each address needs a unique phone number. Do not have multiple addresses listed with the same phone number.

Each address needs a Google Places map listing and Google+ Business page.

Each address needs to be listed on your website contact page and on the specific city location page, and you need to link out to each Google+ Business page via richsnippets code, so that it passes in the structured data markup testing tool.

Each address needs to be listed in the major local business directories like Yellow Pages, SuperPages, Yelp, etc. (I use Power Listings for this.)

Membership in the local BBB is also very important I think (because Google favors them in the rankings and refers to their database). I believe they will list your locations on your profile. The Dallas BBB will also link to you from their pages related to each city you service. I recommend contacting: Brian Reagan | District Manager 214-740-0343 – Email: to join or if you have any questions. He is VERY helpful and interested in your success online.

All your information everywhere; map listings, social sites, business directories, your website, needs to MATCH perfectly, down to the T. Your company name, address, phone number(s) and domain name need to be consistent, as in using #700 versus suite 700 or ste 700, etc.

Another big factor is, let’s say you are actually located in a suburb of Dallas, i.e. Plano, but you are targeting Dallas with your SEO, meaning your meta-tags and content all say Dallas. If this is the case, you likely have noticed a sharp decline in your placement. The reason would be that Google does not see you as actually being a Dallas company because of your address. They seem to only want to rank sites for cities where they have locations. If you want to target Dallas, you need a real Dallas office address, or need to refocus your SEO on the city where your business resides.

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6 Tips to Help Your Rankings on Google
19/11/14 SEO

6 Tips to Help Your Rankings on Google

  1. Make sure you have Google+ Authorship and Publisher code installed and working properly on your site.
  2. Install a sharebar on all your webpages so people can interact socially with your site’s content.
  3. Revisit your existing content and try to make it as unique, educational and informative as possible. Make sure you have at least 500 words per page, but 800-1,000 is better.
  4. Make sure you have a blog installed on your website and that you are socially active. Even if it’s only 1-2 posts per month, just be consistent. If you post too much people will block or tune you out. Your articles should be unique, worth posting and related to your main subject matter, not just a retelling of the news or an already existing story, not unless you add to its value with your own professional perspective and opinions. Then once posted to your own website’s blog, it needs to be pushed out to your own social sites (Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook) by clicking on your own sharebar buttons and sharing them with yourself. (Pinterest too, if the article contains an infographic, which will help get it a lot more love.)
  5. Work on getting connected to as many other professionals and companies as you can on Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest that are complimentary to your own subject matter, who might actually bother to read and interact with your articles. Your social efforts will fail without connections.
  6. Also share your site’s pages socially, and not just your blog articles, if they contain great informative content and are worth sharing.
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