Grow Smart Newsletter May 2014

Issue 020 September 2014 // Grow Smart Marketing

Welcome to the latest issue of the Grow Smart Growth Bites, your monthly newsletter dedicated to business growth and development. In this issue:

  • So What Makes Up Google’s Ranking Algorithm?

  • Why Aren’t Your Local Pages Ranking Better?

So What Makes Up Google’s Ranking Algorithm?

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Ranking highly in Google’s search results is considered the Holy Grail for marketers and website owners hoping to generate organic traffic from non-paid sources.

While of course there is always a cost to getting your pages in a position to get seen on Page One of Google, it is a very large piece of the traffic pie, and not to be dismissed. SEO and local SEO marketing still reigns supreme for the most sought out online business marketing.

So how do we know what is a part of the algorithm and what isn’t?  

You’re right: it’s a closely-guarded secret at Google, but empirical evidence using all the frequent updates Google is fond of foisting upon us, (Pandas, Hummingbirds, and Penguins) has left clues that are valuable in deciphering what works and what does not.

What follows are 13 ranking factors that are no doubt important to the equation. We know there are well more than 200 in all, so this list is by no means exhaustive, but it will give you a good place to start!

13 Ranking Factors for Google Search

  1. Keyword in page title tag – This one is still very important, and helps Google determine exactly what your page is about.
  2. Length of content – Tests are showing that longer form content, between 1000-2000 words is winning spots on Google Page One far more than any other, particularly if that content is rich in LSI and related content.
  3. Page loading speed – A huge factor, both for search engines and visitors, as studies are showing that we now sport an attention span of 8 seconds, 1 second less than a goldfish. So, if you page loads slowly…
  4. Keyword in URL – If at all possible, it’s a good thing to have your primary keyword for the page in the URL.
  5. Video and Images – Videos and images tend to keep visitors on your page longer, which translates to better rankings. Especially true if you have YouTube videos there.
  6. Outbound authority links – Linking to authority sites in your market is a good sign to Google.
  7. Domain Trust and Trustrank – Closely related to the above point is Trustrank, measured by looking at the reputation of the sites linking to you.
  8. TOS and Privacy Pages – Making sure you have these in place it goes a long way toward Google seeing yours as a viable entity.
  9. Contextual links – Links in the body of your content carry far more weight than in other places on your page, such as the sidebar or footer, no matter who they’re from.
  10. A natural link profile – A link profile that’s grown naturally, and not filled with high PR links all sporting the same anchor text.
  11. Social signals – There’s little doubt now that Google considers social signals when determining where to rank your page. Social is here to stay.
  12. Page over-optimization – Making too great an effort to sculpt your own page rank by over-optimizing your pages can have a detrimental effect.
  13. Too many ads – Having an abundance of ads that lead offsite to affiliate offers and other products is a no-no, especially above the fold on your home page.


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Why Aren’t Your Local Pages Ranking Better?

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If you have a local business and in any way form or fashion depend on your Google listings in local search for business, (and you should be!) then you understand what a calamity it can be if your rankings suddenly tank, causing the phone to stop ringing, and revenues to plummet.

But how to ferret out the cause if this decline in rank? Is it competition, or something you’re doing wrong at the site level? The competition part is easy enough to determine, but site or listing issues take a bit more investigation.

Here are 7 items to help you troubleshoot your local SEO for problems.

7 Local SEO culprits to make sure you’re rid of!

  1. Violation of Google Places Quality Guidelines – Google has very specific ways in which they expect local businesses to be represented, and if you run afoul of these you won’t rank well. Check out the Google Places Quality Guidelines for more information.
  2. NAP Inconsistencies – Not having your basic business information consistent over all platforms and listings can really throw a wrench in your rankings. This is easy but time-consuming to fix.
  3. Duplicate Google+ listings – Inadvertently having more than one Google+ listing for the same business is a no-no. While there are some exceptions, most businesses are allowed but one Google+ page.
  4. Poor site navigation – If your site is poorly designed for human traffic and blocks search engines from doing their job, you’ve got a problem. Make sure your site navigation is easy to follow, and that you don’t have anything in place to keep your pages from being indexed, like errors on your Robots.txt file for instance.
  5. Duplicate content issues – Beware of duplicate content issues, which are very easy to create when you have a local site that has several locations. Don’t just slap the same content up there with a different geo-modifier, or you’re asking for trouble.
  6. Dead in the water – If your rankings have eroded over time, it could be that you’re simply guilty of not keeping up the Jones’s. If you’ve not updated your pages in eons, and have stopped gathering local citations during the Bush administration, you may want to consider this.
  7. Professionally written and presented – Nothing screams poor quality more than a site riddled with poor grammar, misspellings and this content. Make every effort to have your pages professionally written and edited, full of useful content your readers will want to share!

There are many more reasons that can be to blame for your local pages not ranking as well as you’d like them to, but these are considered the first places to check. Get these right and continue to improve your Local SEO and you’ll likely find your site rising again from the ashes!

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