Google’s “Organic” Algorithm Is A Lot Faster Than Google’s Local Algo

March 18th, 2014

On March 15th, the WP Total Cache plugin on this site for some reason started serving Googlebot 403 response codes (aka “Access Denied”):
403 Access Denied Errors

As you can see organic entrances to my site via the home page have tanked over the past couple of days:

Local SEO Guide home page organic traffic

While traffic to other pages was down about 20% on Monday, it hasn’t totally cratered probably because Googlebot hasn’t crawled most of the other pages yet and hit the 403s.

One of the more interesting results of this psycho plug-in issue is that it clearly shows the relative speed of Google’s “organic” or “non-local” algo v. it’s “local” algo. On any given day, this site typically ranks #1 or #2 for “local seo” in the “organic” results. And over the past year or so, Google has decided that “local seo” queries should trigger a local pack. When I search from Pleasanton, CA, I am usually #1 in the local pack as well. Now when you search, you can see I am still #1 in the local pack, but I am nowhere to be seen in the organic results:

Google Local Results for local seo

(click to enlarge)

So if you ever wonder why sometimes it takes a long time to dislodge the #1 listing in the local pack, one likely reason is that Google’s local algo just takes its own damn time.

PostScript: About 9 hours ago I fixed the problem on my site and resubmitted the home page to Google via GWT. I am now seeing it rank #1 for “local seo” again. That organic algo is pretty damn fast.

→ 5 CommentsTags: Google+ Local · Local Search
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Everything is Awesome in Local SEO!

March 3rd, 2014

I gave the following talk on local SEO tactics at SEMPDX’s Searchfest last week and thought you all would enjoy the deck. Searchfest is a great show in a great city. I was joined by Dana DiTomaso of KickPoint. Dana is the real deal. She gave a great talk on local marketing “beyond citations” that’s worth checking out. And thanks again to David Mihm for the invite.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Local Search
Posted by Andrew Shotland

The Definitive Top 10 Local Citation Sources for SEO!

February 24th, 2014

Than again maybe not

Six months ago, after 7+ years of being in business I finally got around to incorporating Local SEO Guide, Inc. A few weeks ago, I thought it would be interesting to create a Yext Powerlisting for the biz and see what happened. Today when I checked the indexation, I realized that given the freshness combined with the low level of activity around that business name, the rankings of the various directories for my business name should reveal the relative SEO strengths of each directory that had the listing, particularly for SEO-related queries.

So without further ado, I give you the definitive, ultra, Mashable-Reddit-Upworthy ready list:

The Top 10 Local Citation Sources for SEO:

  1.  Yelp
  2. Linktown.WCNC.com (powered by MojoPages)
  3. Switchboard
  4. Merchant Circle
  5. Yellowpages.StateJournal.com (powered by Local.com)
  6. Yellowpages.StarAdvertiser.com (powered by Local.com)
  7. SuperPages.com
  8. GoLocal247.com
  9. Wysk.com
  10. FindTheCompany.com

If you want to see the rest of the list, here’s the SERP – remember to use an Incognito Browser.

And I know – the results are biased towards Yext publishers, but if sites like Yellowpages.com can’t even pick up a new business listing within six months, well, that ain’t my problem.


→ 9 CommentsTags: Yellow Pages
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Is Apple Maps Phone Verifying Business Info?

February 12th, 2014

A business claims they were called by Apple Maps about their out of whack NAP. First I have heard of such a thing.

→ 1 CommentTags: Apple Maps
Posted by Andrew Shotland

5 Ways SEMRush Makes Me Look Like a SEO Wizard To Potential Clients

February 11th, 2014

First off, thanks to SEMRush for providing me with a free account for the very long time it took me to write this. I appreciate your patience. For those of you in a hurry, here’s a two-week Guru SEMRush Promo Code to get you started.

I have used a lot of SEO tools over the years. It’s a fragmented, confusing space. So from time to time I thought it would be helpful to offer my perspective on those that I like.  Today let’s talk about SEMRush.  SEMRush monitors the search engines for something like 90,000,000 keywords across 25 countries. It then slices and dices that data in a variety of ways so you can get amazing insights into how domains perform against various keywords and competitors.

Since everybody does tool reviews these days, I am going to focus on some of my favorite uses of SEMRush instead of an overall TLDR review. And we all know listicles are the coin of the realm these days. So here’s how I use the tool to look like a SEO wizard to potential clients:

  1. Blow New Client Prospect’s Mind
    So I’m on the phone with a prospect like PrankPack.com. I pop their domain in SEMRush and immediately I can see a sample of keywords they rank for along with their average position in Google, estimated monthly search volume and average CPC:
    Prank Pack Rankings
    So I can see that they rank #1 for “prank gift boxes” which is great, but digging a bit deeper into the report I see this gem:
    Wake & Bake Dude!
    They only rank #14 for “wake and bake”, a term that gets 4,400 monthly queries. Within seconds I have a great assessment of how the site is doing SEO-wise and the beginnings of a content strategy – Thinking a Wake & Bake Griddle recipes post could be the way to go.The Wake & Bake Griddle
  2. Quickly Get An Idea of Their Overall Organic Traffic Via Average Rankings
    This little chart shows the average position of all of the keywords SEMRush tracks for the domain over a two-year period. A quick eyeball of this tool tells me that Prank Pack has been on the rise over the past year, but saw a downturn in Nov-Dec-Jan of 2013, which is troubling because that should be their big season. This data immediately causes me to inquire about whether or not PP has been engaging in any risky SEO behavior, which will help me craft a plan for them.Prank Pack Organic Traffic Trends
  3. Quickly Identify Competitors
    SEMRush’s “Competitors in Organic Search” report looks at the sites that rank for the same keywords as your site. This instantly can help you understand how tough the SEO task will be. For example, PrankPack.com is going to have to compete against Amazon, YouTube, Ebay & Pinterest.  Not for the faint of SEO heart, but you can do it PrankPack!  And BTW who is this PrankPlace.com upstart?
    PrankPack Organic Competition
  4. Drill Down on Competitor SEO Strategies
    Competitive site data is perhaps the best part of SEMRush.  I can quickly see that PrankPlace.com is doing a decent job of SEO by checking out their average rankings and top-performing keywords. This can give me a lot of quick ideas about new keywords PrankPack should consider targeting.  Looks like this Xmas there’s going to be some Obama Toilet Paper and Liquid Ass in the stockings (they go together like peanut butter and chocolate):
    Obama Toilet Paper & Liquid Ass
  5. Get An Idea of Ad Budgets
    Though we generally discourage clients paying for traffic, while we are waiting for the Liquid Ass Prank Pack to make it through the design committee, it might be helpful for PrankPack to start buying some Adwords. SEMRush makes it simple to quickly get a handle on PrankPlace’s ad strategy. It provides data for a domain’s Adwords campaign such as the target keywords, ad copy, estimated ad spend over time, etc. With this data in hand, I can quickly inform PrankPack, that we may want to consider budgeting a few thousand dollars a month for Adwords to compete with those bastards.
    AdWords SEMRush

    All of the above data took about two minutes to assemble and analyze. I find this stuff incredibly helpful for quickly steering calls with prospective clients in the right direction. There are many other uses for SEMRush, but I find that blowing a new client’s mind in two minutes is one of the better ones.

→ 10 CommentsTags: Enterprise SEO · SEO Tools
Posted by Andrew Shotland

“The SEO Butcher Is Not Working Anymore…”

February 5th, 2014

This gem just landed in the inbox. Remember when you thought serving SMBs would be cool?

Subject: SEO

Message Body:
I do not mean to waste anybody’s time, nor do I wish to ask a taxi to drive me home for free, I have questions and spend countless hours thinking I have something figured out only to realize after spending a night on what I thought was the way to Los Angeles and wondering why I am in New York. I do appliance repair in [CITY REDACTED], I have exhausted endless nights trying to get something going on the free sites such as merchant circle, blogger, etc. now after about two years of spending endless nights learning stuff, I have found word press was working until Google made their change and what I did have on the first page has disappeared, surfacing on the fourth or fifth page and I realize I am really just a butcher that has no idea how to trim a cow to get the most meat. I’ll apologize now, because this is starting to feel like another one of my novels and I do not know how to just get to the point I guess, such as my business is appliance repair in [CITY REDACTED], I am a service technician that can repair any make any model appliance in any home If I may, is it better to target refrigerator repair [CITY REDACTED] or does appliance repair [CITY REDACTED] cover refrigerator repair [CITY REDACTED] better? I have been using word press and targeting the high-end appliances because I make more money repairing a Viking Range Refrigerator Repair [CITY REDACTED] or Sub-Zero Repair [CITY REDACTED]so I’ll spend a entire night trying to make a blog look like a webpage and as I said I am self taught and have, in my mind done well being a SEO Butcher that is until Google did whatever they did I used H1, H2, H3 the title in H1 would be Viking Certified Refrigerator Repair [CITY REDACTED] then I’d do it in H2 Viking Certified Refrigerator Repair [CITY REDACTED] then I’d go H3 below it Viking Certified Refrigerator Repair [CITY REDACTED] I’d even go as far as the first sentence in Paragraph Viking Certified Refrigerator Repair [CITY REDACTED] and then Leon Seserman would try and write something decent to get my 300 words using Viking Certified Refrigerator Repair [CITY REDACTED] throughout the 300 word page. I would add pictures of beautiful kitchens equipped with Viking appliances and I use Viking Certified Refrigerator repair [CITY REDACTED] for the picture title and the alternate title as well. I even went as far as listing Viking Certified Refrigerator Repair [CITY REDACTED] at the bottom of the page a line in Italic, one underlined, one bold, one in each H1, H2, H3 so at the bottom of the page I’d have it listed like six times in a row and then I would make the text color white on a white background so it was not noticeable to most people, I hoped anyway, That is how I labeled myself a SEO Butcher because within three days on average I’d see Viking Certified Refrigerator Repair [CITY REDACTED] on the first page anywhere from 3 days to a week it would be first page or it was not going to make it to the first page and I figured that one got busted. Honestly I must have written a hundred probably two hundred blogs that way over the two years or so, which worked enough that I’d get two calls a day maybe average six or eight calls a week off the word press. I hope you haven’t fallen asleep or just tired of this novel I always read about links how important they would become but could not really figure them out I’d link my main website to the blog in the text I’d have a ling and on the side bar another link going to my main website [URL REDACTED] and I would link my blog the same way [URL REDACTED] even my webpage’s [URL REDACTED] and [URL REDACTED] the four links I just listed a webmaster did for me he designed the main site and the blog and he just like made the other two a webpage at the address but all the other pages send you to az home appliance repair He has really helped me so much that I feel like an ass asking him to teach me his business it just is not right and writing this novel to you is not really right either but I have gone as far as I can night after night and so other technicians that need a webmaster I tell them to hook up with chris, which he thought would get me upset but nobody likes to work for free unless they are volunteering. I spent all this time trying not to associate all these blogs except for the mentioned links and I am not even sure if those are the type of links everyone is talking about. Now I am trying to build a web presence after staying anonymous all that time, now I spend endless night trying to become a expert in my field trying to use face book, Google plus and twitter writing blogs. I am going nowhere fast and to top it off, this is being honest all this has been and see I have a novel and really haven’t accomplished anything but shown you how desperate I’ve become. I don’t have the money required to pay a professional and in 2012 I spent 5 months in a county hospital with Phosphine Toxicity or agent orange but not from Vietnam I got it from welding in compressors when I use a torch to weld the compressor the residue of the Freon is phospine poisoning I was breathing and after 40 years it took its toll, to top that off two weeks after they released me from my 5 month stay I fell down a flight of stairs and while in the hospital from that they gave me some drug that killed me, seriously I laid dead for twenty some minutes while my wife watched and the doctors scrambled doing CPR breaking 7 ribs and I spent two weeks in a coma before I came to then I could not do anything could not even put a fork in my mouth I talked as if I was retarded it was awful to say the least so I lost everything my home cars service truck even my bike my wife had to move in her daughters and I finally got to move into a shed in the backyard of a family I met because they had no air conditioning last summer and I fixed it for free they found out I was sleeping in my truck and they offered their work shed behind their trailer. I am desperately trying to come back up and lost my truck for driving on a suspended license I don’t know why I am crying on your shoulders or if your even still reading I am just hoping I might find information, someone that will just point me in the right direction and I have managed to write a book just as I feared and for that I apologize sincerely I do. [NAME REDACTED] has been great and has left my website up even though I haven’t paid him for the last year which I am thankful for but I cannot ask him to do more for me when he has done so much so I turn to a stranger hoping you can feel I am being honest and not just pounding sand and maybe you can give me a few tips or point me in the right direction, if for no other reason than you do not want another book sent to your e-mail If you live in [CITY REDACTED] or know someone that does and they have no air conditioning or a broken fridge I would certainly do the labor at no charge long as they bought the necessary part. My name is [NAME REDACTED], I use the name [NAME REDACTED] on the internet and say he is my brother he’s the boss, really I don’t even know what I am asking you to do for me, but if you can give me your expertise and maybe write me a book telling how to do it because the SEO Butcher is not working anymore and you are the lucky person I felt the energy to ask, I guess this is a little more that drop you a line but if your too busy or it just doesn’t appeal to you, I understand really I do I am just asking for your knowledge I do want to find an ending for this book , I don’t even remember your name, sorry but either way I hope everything is great for you and your family and may all your dreams come true. I thank you for listening, Godspeed Good night well Good Morning again thanks, [NAME REDACTED] aka [NAME REDACTED]

→ 11 CommentsTags: Small Business Marketing
Posted by Andrew Shotland

“Your Ad Rep Turned Down A Job At A Gas Station – Just To Help YOU With Online Marketing”

February 4th, 2014

Phil Rozek has been spending too much time on this blog. Great post – IYP Advertising & Local SEO: How Badly Does It Suck?

If you are not familiar with Phil’s work, spend a few hours on his site. It’s Local SEO gold.

→ 4 CommentsTags: Local Search · Yellow Pages
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Too Bad Most SMBs Can’t Afford Superbowl Ads

February 3rd, 2014

Earlier today I thought I had uncovered evidence that GoDaddy faked it’s “real” SMB quitting their job Superbowl Ad. Perhaps I posted too soon as further research revealed that the profiled puppeteer is in fact real. So let’s use this tempest in a teapot as a teachable moment shall we and provide PuppetsbyGwen.com with some local marketing advice.

  1. Use Your Location On Your Pages & In Your Title Tags
    Not done.
  2. Make Sure Your Business Name, Address & Phone Number Appear in Text on the Site, Ideally Wrapped in Schema
    Well, I do see a phone number.
  3. If You Serve Several Different Cities, Create a Page For Each
  4. Claim your Google Places for Business Page
    Gwen hasn’t
  5. Make Sure Your Business Data is Present/Up To Date on Google+, Yelp, Apple Maps, Other Top Local Search Sites & Business Data Aggregators
    Puppets By Gwen Isn’t
  6. If You Know You Are About To Get Millions of People To Your Site, Have Content Prepared That Helps Potential Customers Decide to Hire You
    I know the site is pretty new, but you’re appearing on the Superbowl and talking about how much business you do from your site maybe don’t have an empty Events section; maybe have some blog posts about your shows; maybe have some actual videos on your YouTube channel, etc.
  7. Make Sure Your Old Domains Redirect to the New One
    Gwen’s aren’t. This will help Google figure out that your new domain is the right one to rank.
  8. Don’t Let John Turturro Into Your House
    He can come off a little creepy at times.

I could go on and on.

The good news is that with the amount of backlinks Gwen’s site has received over the past day, all it should take is a little help and Gwen should be ranking for all sorts of stuff.

We can’t all have million dollar Superbowl ads for our business, but surely all of us can get the basics of Local SEO right.

→ 6 CommentsTags: Local Search
Posted by Andrew Shotland

(Sock?) Puppets by Gwen – Did GoDaddy Rig Their Superbowl Ad?

February 3rd, 2014

So Gwen Dean quit her day job to pursue puppeteer dreams in front of the country last night; in part thanks to an awesome GoDaddy website (a pretty good product btw).  According to the Superbowl ad, Gwen has booked about 1,300 shows via her website. Technically, she says they were “booked online”, but the ad clearly implies the shows were booked through her GoDaddy website:

But I am not so sure this Gwen person is for real. (UPDATE: Looks like Gwen Johnson is in fact a real puppeteer in Yonkers – here’s her old site – but I still think GoDaddy took a few too many liberties with her story. #Marketing) Some Local SEO sleuthing reveals the following:

    Forget about the SEO implications, I don’t know about you, but I never travel more than 30 miles to do a puppet show. Gwen’s service area: the entire planet. Must be a new Google Places dashboard feature.
    The first was this single photo posted on January 26th:
    Shit we need to post something quick!
    Well, who has time to blog when you have to do 1,300 damn puppet shows!
    Creating a great YouTube Channel can really pay off:YouTube SEO At It's Finest
    Puppet Circles
    That’s ok of course, because you really just need to have a verified Google+ Page for Business.
    Puppets by Gwen’s first Facebook activity was on July 5, 2013:
    Please Like My Puppet!
    That same day, Gwen also posted a strangely out-of-season set of pumpkin carving photos. But after that, she only posted one event in August and then nothing until January 31st. And her Facebook page had no reviews until 17 hours ago.
    Except it doesn’t look like Gwen has been active on Twitter, until a few hours ago that is.
    Of course you need to actually be on Yelp for that to work, but that’s just a detail…Hey, I heard GoDaddy has a new tool that can help businesses get on sites like Yelp:
    Get Your Puppets Found!

    Kind of reminds me of something…

Thanks to Ryan Jones for pointing out that PuppetsbyGwen.com was only registered on December 26, 2013. Their website builder is fast:
PuppetsbyGwen.com WhoIS

→ 19 CommentsTags: Local Search
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Anatomy of a Local SEO Campaign

January 30th, 2014

Barbie Doll Stuck Up Butt X Ray
Source: The Internet

  1. Client Information Intake
  2. Research > Strategy Recommendations
  3. Site Audit > Upgrade
  4. NAP/Citation Audit > Fix Issues
  5. On Site Content Creation
  6. Off Site Content Creation
  7. Review Generation
  8. Link Research > Link Outreach
  9. Clean Up Link SPAM From Previous SEO Firms
  10. Rinse
  11. Repeat


→ 8 CommentsTags: Linkbuilding · Local Search · Online Reviews · Small Business Marketing
Posted by Andrew Shotland