The Local Traverse City SEO Guide for 2013
This local SEO guide is designed to help you integrate a Traverse City SEO campaign into your company's 2013 marketing plan.
The best practices of local SEO are evolving. In short, they are becoming more like real marketing, and less a secret recipe for better rankings. The fact is, SEO is a practice that any in-house marketing team can handle with the right knowledge and direction.
The opportunities to capitalize on local SEO in Traverse City are wide open. And with big changes on the rise, you can prepare your 2013 SEO strategy accordingly.
Consider the five pillars below that I believe to the cornerstones to local SEO success in 2013. By respecting each pillar, you can construct a solid SEO campaign for your Traverse City business.
1. Stop Writing for Keywords and Write for the People
The content on your website is a key element to ensure it's keyword relevant and . But the tables are turning where content quantity, or word count, is less of a factor. It's rather the quality and relevancy of the site's content that are pivotal for success.
Many people think that SEO is all about cramming keywords in the page copy and meta tags. And although having some degree of keyword relevancy is important, content with keyword density that's too high is a risk, especially after Google's 2012 algorithm updates that penalize websites that are over optimized.
Maintain the integrity of your page copy and stop writing solely for keywords. Write with passion and from the mindset of your target visitors, and only include keywords when it naturally makes sense. The fact of the matter is, on-page SEO keyword usage only accounts for about 15-20% of the Google's search algorithm.* It's the off-page variables such as social signals and link popularity that carry the most SEO weight.
2. Develop a Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing is a powerful practice that directly aids your SEO efforts. It centers on on producing superb content (articles, videos, graphics, podcasts, etc.) and sharing that content with you target audience and throughout the web. The end-goals of content marketing are to:
- inbound direct traffic to your website, via the superb content
- build brand awareness, recognition, and credibility
- generate link popularity and social authority for SEO
Most content marketing strategies will differ per company, but the primary SEO value remains consistent. The main idea is to produce awesome content that gains top of mind awareness and respect with your target audience.
Although content marketing might seem like an inbound strategy more than SEO strategy, there's still SEO value to be gained. Much of the content you publish can withhold links that direct back to your website. Think of these back-links as votes of popularity and credibility for your website. A greater number links (from quality and relevant sources) gives your website more authority and momentum to rank higher in the search results.
Equally as important as link popularity is the social authority your content generates. This ranking factor is gaining ground and projected to be even more influential for SEO in 2013. Social authority is earned via audience engagement which results in the Likes, +1's, Tweets, and Shares from your target audience. These "social signals" are what indicate a popular piece of content that deserves top rankings.
In essence, the businesses that produce relevant, top-notch content, and persistently share their content through various social media platforms, will realize better SEO and marketing success.
3. Diversify Your Content Portfolio
Much of the SEO practice of 2012 centered on publishing articles and blog posts (text-based content) with intention of manually creating links from the content. The mentality was simple: by building more links we could help increase our keyword rankings. That practice worked for quite some time, but has drastically diminished over the last couple months. The focus is now on creating beautiful content that earns social authority and link popularity in a natural manner.
While developing your content marketing strategy, think about various types of content that you and your marketing team can produce. One of the most powerful and highly-engaging forms of content is video. Not only can videos captivate your audience and lure them to your website, but exceptional videos are effective tools for organic search marketing. This is because well-ranking videos offer the highest click-through rates as well as conversion rates from organic search.
Images and graphics are also great forms of content to have in your marketing arsenal. With these you can create slideshows, which are a great way showcase your products or services in a more engaging format. Rich media of the like is also more prone to being shared across various social mediums. So if you're looking step-up your SEO game for 2013, diversify the content you create, and have a plan on how you're going to share it and make known.
4. Get on Google Plus, STAT!
It's now more common to see local organic search results for almost any keyword that has a geographic or local relevancy. You don't even have to include "Traverse City" in the search phrase and Google (by recognizing your IP address or Gmail account credentials) will display localized search listings (accompanied by the Google Map with little red pins).
For example, take a look at the Google screen shot below for the keyword search "auto repair," which was from my laptop in Traverse City.
Although the main link headline for each listing (e.g "Accurate Auto Repair") will take you to the repair shop's website, the Google reviews link will take you to the business's Google Plus page.
In essence, there's more to Google's local search algorithm than having a well-optimized website. Although a well-optimized website does help, it's a strong Google Plus page that leads to top rankings.
Again, many variables contribute to the local organic search listings in Google, but addressing your company's Google Plus page should be priority. Some of the primary elements to consider include:
- having a content-rich page that contains accurate information about your company
- verifying your business's address (which requires manual submission through your company's Google Plus page and PIN verification sent via postcard.)
- earning a high number of Google Plus reviews that are preferably positive in nature
- including a "Follow us on Google+" link on your company's website that points to its Google Plus page (and includes the 'rel=publisher' code snippet in the link's tag)
- mentioning your company's address on your website so that it exactly matches that of the address on your Google Plus page (aka "citation alignment")
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There's more to Google Plus that will directly shape your Traverse City SEO strategy for 2013. By growing your business's Google Plus following and you can earn greater social authority for SEO. This is because the more followers (or people you have in your "circles") will directly correlate to gaining more visibility in Google's search results.
Ill give you a quick example. In one of my circles I have included the Great Wolf Lodge, a resort here in Traverse City. While using Google to find ideas for the "best places to celebrate the holidays", I am shown a very obvious Google Plus post from the Great Wolf Lodge.
Because their post was highly relevant to my keyword search, and because I am a follower of the Great Wolf Lodge on Google Plus, Google fed me these personalized search results. This is an example of Google's Search plus Your World, which will have a powerful influence on local SEO strategies for all types of companies.
5. Establish Local Traverse City Connections
The purpose of creating local Traverse City connections is to build relationships that can aid your SEO efforts. More specifically, you'll want to establish local connections with the intentions of being able to publish and share your content on other blogs and websites. Publishing your content on other, Traverse City-relevant blogs and websites will add the most value to the links you include in your content.
This concept has been popularized as guest blogging. The highest quality of links you can earn will come from sources that are keyword-relevant (based on the topic of the content) and geographically-relevant (based on the location of the publishing source.) So when guest blogging is done on a local-Traverse City level, the SEO value is mighty powerful. This is because the geographic-relevancy of the source is a glorious match in the eyes of Google.
For instance, an area jet ski rental company could offer a guest article about "Things to do in Traverse City" for tourist or hotel blog. The article could include a paragraph about renting jet skis for the afternoon as a thing to do. With the agreement of the blog owner, the ability to add a call-to-action, or link back to the jet skit rental website will help increase its keyword rankings.
In summary, your Traverse City SEO campaign can gain momentum by establishing local connections and publishing meaningful content on new platforms. This will broaden your brand's exposure and can aid your SEO strategy.
Google is extremely intelligent and can recognized these intricacies when weighing the attributes of your content, as well as any links deriving from your content. The best mind-set to have is one that is empathy-driven on creating quality and relevant content that's well-liked by your target audience. Parallel to content marketing, social media engagement will have a momentous impact on your Traverse City SEO strategy.
I hope these five pillars will help shape a successful SEO campaign for your Traverse City business. Rank on, my friends.
About the Author
Tyler Tafelsky is the Traverse City SEO and search marketing director at Top of Mind. He offers over 5 years of experience in the web marketing profession and is firmly dedicated to helping northern Michigan businesses succeed by sharing is knowledge and insights. You can learn more by connecting with Tyler on Google Plus.
* Citation: www.seomoz.org