Tall Marketing

A digital marketing agency in Cumbria that’s passionate about generating businesses more revenue online.

What Is E-E-A-T?

What Is E-E-A-T? 1920 1280 George Cotter

Demonstrating first hand experience and authority in the website content you publish is more important than ever if you want your content the rank highly.

Previously just E-A-T, Google has now upgraded this to include an additional “E” and in short E-E-A-T standards for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.

E-E-A-T signals are becoming more and more prevalent thanks in no small part to the Helpful Content updates, which reinforces the need for high quality and original content that’s been written by an expert.

The basics of E-E-A-T

Google explains the concept of E-E-A-T in its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, with the stipulation that content that meets with the guidelines is of high quality, has taken effort, is original and taken some talent to create.

So what does the concept of E-E-A-T mean?

Experience

As reference earlier, the additional E is for Experience. This guideline is to ensure that the content creator has first hand experience of the subject. Pages that are created by individuals who have personal experience will tend to be more reliable sources of information. For example, you’re more likely to trust a product review from someone who has actually used the product over one written by someone who hasn’t.

Expertise

Who has written the article you’re reading? What information can you find out about them? Is the article you’re reading on employment law been written by a qualified solicitor? Or has the article been written by an external content writer who’s done it to get keywords on the website and attract clicks?

For many subjects this part really matters. People reading a piece of content that could seriously impact their life need to know it has been written by an expert. Taking legal, financial or medical advice from a generic content writer is a terrible idea, and Google doesn’t want their users to do this.

If you’re not an expert you can negate this by carefully researching the subject and referencing other experts and their content to build yours.

Authoritativeness

An author or business can establish authority when your work is mentioned by other parties in your field. The absolute sweet spot is to get related websites with good authority levels referencing and promoting your content. If other experts are linking or mentioning your content it clearly demonstrates how trusted you are.

It’s unlikely any content is going to be a success without a level of authority, and it’s also a key way to boost the authority of your whole website domain.

Trustworthiness

This is a wider signal than just the words on the page, Google wants to rank websites it can trust is giving users the best experience. In its most basic form a trustworthy website is user-friendly and loads quickly, but that’s just the start. The business or organisation that’s hosting the content also needs to demonstrate its trustworthiness.

In Google’s view a trustworthy business is one that is transparent about it’s physical location and who works there. Trustworthy content should link to other authority sources, especially when mentioning someone else’s statistics or insights.

Is E-E-A-T a ranking factor?

There’s lots of chatter about E-E-A-T but the fact is that it’s not a ranking factor. There isn’t anything specific within the guidelines that you can point to that has to be in place.

When ranking websites Google uses a host of signals to form its own opinion.

Thinking about E-E-A-T when creating content is recommended as it’ll boost engagement with users but you still shouldn’t be ignoring technical and offsite SEO strategies. Google never really tells us how its algorithms work so it’s not a good idea to obsess over each part, simply work towards creating the best website and content possible.

E-E-A-T vs YMYL

YMYL stands for “Your Money or Your Life”. This is related to website content that can literally cost readers their money or their life.

Pages that fall into YMYL are those about health, well-being, finance or safety. It can impact a wide range of websites, not just doctors, lawyers or financial advisors. If you’re trying to influence someone’s decisions you are at least touching on YMYL. Even just accepting online payments pushes your website towards YMYL.

Google wants to give these websites extra scrutiny due to the fact the content can have a significant impact on someone’s life. In the time of AI and lots of misinformation, it’s becoming increasingly hard to know what online content you can trust. What Google is looking for is YMYL content written by experts, who have a transparent and visible online reputation and a history of proven experience.

E-E-A-T and YMYL are not separate ranking signals and there is lots of crossover, but E-E-A-T is particularly relevant for websites that land in YMYL.

To conclude

There’s no shortcuts to developing strong E-E-A-T signals. Google also looks at the bigger picture, so even if you think your content meets all guidelines but your website is dated, slow and hard to navigate, you can’t expect it to rank highly.

The good thing is that if you nail E-E-A-T your competitors will find it very hard to out rank you. This won’t happen overnight and all your work should be aimed at your users, not pleasing Google. One will follow the other.

How To Create Locally Relevant Content

How To Create Locally Relevant Content 1920 1285 George Cotter

For businesses looking to establish a strong online presence in their local area, creating and understanding the purpose of locally relevant content is a crucial. From a local bakery, to a digital marketing agency, crafting locally themed content that speaks to their target markets keeps them relevant and starts everyday conversations.

Understanding the importance of local content

When we refer to local SEO, we’re not just talking about the technical setup of a website. We’re including content creation that builds a local presence and engages potential local customers.

In it’s most simplest form, local content is about telling search engines what your business does and where you are. Search engines, particularly Google, will now prioritise a users location when it delivers search results. When you’ve executed a locally focused content strategy, your website should become more relevant to the searchers query.

When you start creating content built around local keyword research, you can ensure you’re working to increase search visibility in the right areas.

However, local content goes beyond just keywords and locations. It’s vital your content is relevant and portrays your knowledge and authority. A fantastic way to implement local content is to engage with local events or initiatives and then reporting on them. Plus, localised content such as this is more likely to attract backlinks from other local websites which is another effective way  to build local organic search engine rankings.

Types of local content

Imagine your favourite local restaurant. To build their local online presence they could feature articles about the history of the building their located in, and how they’re working with local suppliers. This is the kind of content that resonates with a local audience and positions the restaurant as a business that cares about the local economy.

Here are various types of local content you could utilise to grow your search engine visibility:

Locally themed blog posts

Writing blogs about local news or events is a great way to engage a local audience. If you’re involved in the local community you should promote it, but also use it as a natural way to use local keywords in your content. Additionally, you can promote these posts on social media to boost engagement and start conversations.

Community event coverage

Actively being involved in local events can be a gold mine of local content. If you’re a business that supports or participates in a local event you can use photographs, interviews and updates to create keyword rich content. This is also content that can attract local backlinks which will further boost your search engine visibility.

Local guides and reviews

As a local business you could take time out to visit local attractions, restaurants, cafes, playgrounds etc in view to writing reviews or guides on the best things to do in your area. This type of content can be very useful to both visitors and locals and enhance your website’s authority.

Local case studies

As an established business you must have a long line of satisfied customers. Sharing how you have positively impacted customers is a powerful way to connect with your target audience. Tall Marketing have a growing list of case studies, which include a description of the customer, the work completed and a testimonial from the client themselves. This type of content not only resonates locally but also showcases expertise and success stories.

Local specific landing pages

If you have a business that operates is multiple locations, creating specific location pages on your website is essential to building rankings in each place. For example, if you have a bakery business with locations in Kendal, Lancaster and Penrith you should create a page for each that include content written for that specific location. This is not only an effective SEO tactic, it will also provide a personalised experience for website visitors and increase enquiries.

Local partnerships

Producing content in collaboration with other local businesses or influential people can significantly boost relevance and reach.  For example, a local gym could partner up with a health food shop to produce content around healthy living and nutrition. This will also open up opportunities for cross promotion for both businesses. It’s important the content is valuable and interesting which resonates with your target audience.

User or customer generated content

Asking customers or website users to share their experiences of working with your business is an effective way to generate authentic and engaging content. User generated content will naturally include your target keywords and provide opportunities to repurpose through social media posts or case studies – which in turn can build further local engagement.

FAQs with a local relevance

An FAQ section that addresses common local queries can be a valuable resource for both your audience and your SEO efforts. This type of content is not only helpful for those seeking local information but also establishes your business as a knowledgeable authority in your field. Additionally, by targeting questions commonly searched by locals, you improve the chances of your website showing in organic search results at the point potential customers are researching.

 

On page SEO strategies for local pages

On page SEO strategies for local pages 1920 1708 George Cotter

Enhancing the online visibility of your business in your local area ensures you attract more qualified visitors. In order to achieve relevant rankings you need to ensure your website is optimised for the keywords potential customers are using when researching your products and services. On-page optimisation is the process of ensuring your website meets current best practice of the ever evolving search algorithms, and is crucial to a successful local seo strategy.

Strong local rankings not only increases website visitors, it helps build trust and credibility in your field. Mastering on-page SEO for local pages is the key to building more customers in your local marketplace.

Structuring URL, title tags & meta descriptions

The structure of your website, often referred to as website architecture is central to ensuring both visitors and search engines can find your content. This, alongside the creation of optimised title tags and meta descriptions are crucial to the foundations of any SEO strategy.

In regards to URL (the page links) structure, think about how you want them to be displayed. They should be logical and provide clear information as to what the page is about and where a page sits within your website.

For example, you could own a Cumbrian law firm that has 3 offices spread around the county, one being in Kendal. The creation of your URLs in this instance needs careful attention, as you’ll want a page on your website representing each location. You’ll should look to use a page address such as www.mylawfirm.com/offices/kendal, this approach instantly tells search engines and users the geographical location and that you also likely have more offices.

Just as important are title tags and meta descriptions as these are the words that occupy the prime real estate on search engine results. They could be the difference between a visitor clicking to visit your website over a competitor. You’ll not want to get a reflection of your target keywords in there, and include engaging wording to entice people to click.

Optimising header tags with local keywords

All pages on your website should have a clear heading structure. These serve not only to structure your content to make it easier to read, it also serves as a technical means of telling search engines what the content is about. All pages on your website should utilise a H1 heading, which will be the title of the page. You can then utilise sub headings split by H2, H3, H4 etc to structure the content. You can have multiple instances of H2, with further sub headings below that.

In the above location page example, the local office page H1 could be “Local Solicitors In Kendal”. There should then be subsequent H2 headings that provide further information such as “Our Legal Services In Kendal”, which could include a list of services offered from the Kendal office. Below that could be H3 headings that introduce each legal service such as “Conveyancing Solicitors” and “Will Writing”.

Each heading reinforces the local presence of the page and organises the page into a logical flow for both visitors and search engines.

Naturally including local keywords with the page content

Including local keywords into your page content is an effective strategy for websites wanting to target a specific geographic area. It can be especially effective for relatively small local businesses to compete with larger or nationally focused ones.

This can only begin with your researching what specific keywords you need to target. A “local keyword” would usually consist of a generic term related to the products and services you provide, followed by a location. For instance, if you’re a solicitor based in Cumbria, a relevant keyword might be “solicitors in Cumbria” or “property solicitors in Cumbria”.

Remember, SEO isn’t just about attracting any visitors, it’s about attracting the right visitors so research is key. It might also be tempting to cram as many local keywords as possible into your content, but this will likely only do more harm than good. Search engine crawlers are smart, and only getting smarter. They prioritise well written and engaging content  that humans will find easy to understand and learn from. A well written block of text about your business should offer many ways to naturally include our target keywords in a way that also adds value to the reader.

Using local schema mark up for enhanced visibility

Schema markup further helps search engines understand the local relevance to your web pages. It adds an extra layer of data that can lead to increased visibility. It’s code you insert into your website that give context to your content, telling search engines what it’s about. Local business schema explicitly tells search engines your business name, industry you work in, your address, opening hours and products you provide. It can also pull in other details like reviews, social media links, business owner details and images.

If you’re unfamiliar with website code you will need expert assistance to both create your schema markup and apply it to your website. There’s an excellent Google Guide on created markup code. There also some free tools available that will create the code for you once you’ve inputted your business details.

Adding location specific information on contact pages

Depending on search a user performs on Google or other search engines, they will often prioritise local services near them. So if your business specifically serves specific areas, it’s beneficial to include this on your contact page. It gives visitors and search engines clear information about where your business operates.

What you could include:

  • Business address – keep this consistent anywhere you list it online
  • Embed Google map – Add a Google Map widget with a pin drop where your business is located
  • Local phone number – Use an area code that corresponds to your target location. It will reassure visitors
  • Opening hours – Especially useful for businesses that rely on face to face interactions
  • Local landmarks – Mention some well known local landmarks, this could be just part of giving directions to people that are less familiar with your area
  • Public transport option – If your business is easily accessible via public transport, providing this information could be very helpful to potential customers
  • Testimonials – If you have reviews or testimonials from local customers, include these
  • Multiple locations – If you have more than one physical location where you serve customers, create separate pages for each. This will help search engines to understand you serve multiple local areas

Whether you’re bakery, plumber, coffee shop, personal trainer or anything in between, you can significantly increase your online visibility by following some of the strategies above. On page SEO for local pages is the key to boosting your web presence in search engines. Strong search engine rankings not only boost website visits, but also builds trust in your business as it’s a clear sign you are a leading local provider or supplier.

Exploring the power of local keyword research and analysis

Exploring the power of local keyword research and analysis 1920 1280 George Cotter

When it comes conquering your local marketplace “keyword research” should be a term you need to become well-acquainted with. The keywords your potential customers are using when researching products and services online are the key to you building online visibility. Exploring keyword research and analysis can significantly boost your businesses online presence.

Identifying local keywords and phrases

Imagine you’re on the hunt for the best sandwich shop in your area. You go to your phone and type: “best sandwich shops” into a search engine. What happens next is that your location data and search engine algorithms try their best to lead you to the best options within a close distance.

If you’re a business owner you will have undoubtedly asked yourself how certain businesses are given the priority rankings over others. There are a host of local SEO factors to consider, with a crucial one being keywords and phrases. Local keyword research is the process to discover what search terms your customers are using when looking for businesses like yours.

Continuing with the example of the sandwich shop, your customers might also be using keywords like “takeway lunches in [your town]”, “independent bakeries” or “coffee shops near me”. By identifying these keywords your can hone in on your customers.

Long tail keywords for local SEO

A long tail keyword are longer and often more specific phrases that your customers are using when looking to make a purchase decision. So in regards to the sandwich shop, instead of using a keyword like “sandwich shop in [your town]”, a potential long tail keyword could be “fresh sandwiches made to order” or “vegetarian takeaway sandwiches in [your town]”. Whilst these keywords will undoubtedly have a lower search volume, they will often attract a higher conversion rate because you’re offering a solution to a specific search intent.

Someone using a long tail keyword is looking for a particular type of sandwich, they’re not just researching, they’re on a mission to find a specific place to buy the sandwich they want.

Keyword research tools

Thankfully there are a range of tools available to identify target keywords.

Google Keyword Planner

The Google Keyword Planner is simple to use within the Google Ads dashboard. It simply shows you the search volume and competition level for each keyword, it will also show you closely related keywords to the ones you provide. You can also use it to narrow the data down to specific locations.

SEMrush

SEMrush is a comprehensive SEO tool. It’s not only got a great tool for uncovering relevant keywords, it also allows you to track the performance of your competitors. You can easily monitor how your rankings perform against your local competition, potentially giving you vital insights into their own keyword strategies.

SE Ranking

Another powerful tool but perhaps more cost effective than SEMrush. It offers a comprehensive suit of tools for keyword research and competitor analysis. Whether you’re a novice of a pro, SE Ranking can be a great partner on journey to local SEO success.

Create a target keyword list

So by know you’ll be armed with the knowledge of what keywords your local customers are using. It’s time to start building these into your website content. Add them to the meta descriptions, page titles, product descriptions, anywhere you can naturally mention them.

However, be careful not just to cram as many keywords as possible into your website. The goal is to continue providing a great user experience with interesting and attractive content, whilst also optimising your content for SEO. Search engine algorithms are smart, and only getting smarter – they’ll know when you’re trying too hard. Let the keywords flow naturally.

To conclude

We’ve provided a high level understanding of what keywords are, and we’ve given you some suggestions on the tools you might utilise to find them and track rankings. Finding the right balance between interesting and relevant content and ensuring it’s optimised for search can be tricky. Drop us a line if you’d like some pointers – we’d be happy to guide you in the right direction.

Introduction to local SEO: Unlocking the power of local search

Introduction to local SEO: Unlocking the power of local search 628 424 George Cotter

In today’s digital age, when people seek information or services, they often turn to search engines for answers. For businesses, especially those with a brick-and-mortar presence, this digital shift presents an incredible opportunity to connect with local customers. Enter Local SEO – the digital marketing strategy that can boost your online visibility and bring your business to the forefront of local search results.

What is local SEO & why is it important?

What is local SEO?

Local SEO, or local search engine optimization, is the process of optimising your online presence to attract potential customers in your specific geographic area. It’s like planting a digital flag that says, “Hey, we’re right here in your neighbourhood, ready to serve you.” Whether you run a cosy café, a clothes shop, or even a private dentist, local SEO ensures your business shines brightly when local people look for products or services you offer.

Local SEO isn’t just about a fancy Google Maps listing or a flashy website. It’s a strategy to understand your customers wants and needs. It’s about building trust, spreading your brand’s story, and  in turn building search rankings.

The significance of local SEO

Imagine this: You’re on a short break craving a slice of pizza on a Friday night in an unfamiliar town. You look up “the best pizza takeaway near me” on Google. This produces a list of nearby pizza spots. How did they get there, and how does Google determine the order they appear in? It’s all down to a series of local SEO factors.

Local SEO is more than just making your website visible to the locals. It’s about gaining a competitive edge by understanding the intent behind local searches and tailoring your online presence accordingly. Whether someone searches for “best coffee shop near me” or “bathroom installers in Kendal”, Local SEO strategies will result in your business showing before your competitors.

Benefits of local SEO for businesses

Bridging the gap between online and offline

Local SEO acts as a digital bridge between your physical business and potential customers searching online. By optimising your website and Google My Business listing, you increase the chances of locals discovering your services before they even step foot in your shop or business. It’s like leaving a trail of breadcrumbs that leads them straight to your door.

Targeted traffic and qualified leads

When you rank high in local search results, you attract visitors who are genuinely interested in what you offer. These are qualified leads with a higher chance of converting into loyal customers. Local SEO strategies help you focus on your target audience.

Building trust and credibility

When your business appears in local searches with glowing reviews and a well-optimised website, it shows trustworthiness. People are more likely to choose a business with a solid online presence and positive customer feedback. Local SEO helps you build that trust and credibility, making you the go-to business in your local community.

Understanding local ranking factors

Google My Business (GMB)

Your Google My Business listing is the centre of your Local SEO on Google. It’s like a digital storefront that showcases your business on Google Maps and search results. Ensure your business information is accurate, add high-quality photos, and encourage customers to leave reviews.

NAP consistency

NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. Consistency is key here. Make sure your business details are the same across all online platforms, directories, and social media profiles. Google loves consistency, and it rewards you with better rankings.

Local citations and directories

Think of local citations as digital footprints of your business scattered across the web. These citations can be business listings on directories or other websites. The more relevant and accurate citations you have, the more Google trusts your business’s legitimacy.

Online reviews and ratings

In the world of Local SEO, customer reviews are very important. Positive reviews are fantastic at attracting potential customers to your business. Conversely, negative reviews can give people a negative opinion, so always respond to feedback professionally.

Location keywords

Incorporate relevant local keywords throughout your website and content. It helps Google understand your area of expertise and connects your business to local searches.

Local SEO is not a one-time trick; it’s an ongoing journey. Stay engaged with your community, keep your information updated, and deliver outstanding service. With the power of Local SEO, your business can flourish.

How to get your business on Google Maps

How to get your business on Google Maps 1920 1280 George Cotter

Are you a business owner looking to get more customers and increase your online visibility? Getting your business on Google Maps can be a game-changer!

With over 3.5 billion searches conducted on Google every day, having a presence on Google Maps can lead potential customers right to your doorstep. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process step-by-step, using real-life examples. Plus, give you insights on how having a presence on Google Maps is just the first step along the way to a successful local seo campaign.

Why Google Maps matters: the power of local search

Picture this: you’re strolling through a new town, your stomach grumbles, and you’re craving some pizza. You whip out your smartphone and type in “pizza near me” on Google. A map pops up, showing you the closest place serving pizza, complete with reviews and ratings. You pick the one with the most tempting pictures which is about 10 minutes walk away from your current location, and set off.

This little scenario demonstrates the power of Google Maps and why it matters so much for your business. It’s not just a digital map; it’s a virtual gateway that connects eager customers to your doorstep. Let’s take a closer look at why Google Maps could be vital for your business:

The magic of local search

When people search for products or services, they often want them quickly. Google Maps serves as an oracle of local search queries. It knows what’s nearby and shows it to those trying to find it. If your business is on Google Maps, it’s like being at the right place at the right time.

The trust factor

Trust is absolutely crucial with any internet marketing. When your business pops up on Google Maps, it gains instant credibility. Customers feel more at ease knowing Google has vetted you and found you worthy of being listed.

Making the right first impression

Your Google Maps listing is often the first interaction potential customers have with your business. A well-optimised, engaging listing with quality images and positive reviews can leave a lasting impression and prompt them to choose you over competitors.

Reviews and feedback

Google Maps opens the door for customers to leave their thoughts about your business. Embrace this feedback, engage with your customers, and use it to improve your offerings and services.

Get your business on Google Maps – A Step By Step Guide

  1. Create or claim your Google My Business (GMB) listing
  2. Verify your business listing
  3. Optimise your GMB listing
  4. Keep your business information up to date
  5. Leverage Google posts
  6. Engage with customer messages
  7. Monitor and respond to reviews
  8. Build local relationships
  9. Track your performance

 

Step 1: Create or claiming your Google My Business (GMB) listing

The first step to getting your business on Google Maps is creating or claiming your Google My Business (GMB) listing. If you haven’t already done this, head over to Google My Business (GMB) and click on “Manage Now.” Follow the instructions to create your listing by providing accurate and detailed information about your business.

Example: Let’s say Emily owns a coffee shop named “The Busy Bean.” When setting up your GMB listing, she ensured all business details were included, such as the coffee shop’s name, address, phone number, website, opening hours, and included it in business categories such as “Coffee Shop” and “Cafe.”

Step 2: Verify your business listing

Google wants to ensure that only legitimate businesses appear on its platform, so the next step is to verify your business listing. Google will typically send you a verification code via mail or phone, which you’ll need to enter on your GMB dashboard.

Example: After setting up her “The Busy Bean” business listing, Emily received a postcard from Google with the verification code. She entered the code on her GMB dashboard, and her business was verified. With a couple of days her business was visible on Google Maps.

Step 3: Optimise your GMB listing

Now that your business is verified, it’s time to optimise your GMB listing to stand out from the crowd. Add eye-catching photos of your products, services, and storefront (should that be relevant). Encourage your satisfied customers to leave positive reviews, as they play a crucial role in attracting new customers and boosting your local presence on Google Maps.

Example: “The Busy Bean” uploaded high-quality images of their high quality coffee and cakes, along with pictures of their comfy and welcoming interior, making customers eager to visit.

Step 4: Keep your business information up to date

Life is constantly changing, and so is your business. Make sure to keep your GMB listing updated with any changes in your business details, such as new addresses, phone numbers, or special holiday hours. Your business could also begin to offer additional products or services, which can be covered by including your business in all relevant categories.

Example: When “The Busy Bean” expanded to a second location, Emily promptly updated the GMB listing to reflect the new address and contact information. She also started to offer a local delivery service so she added this in her service areas.

Step 5: Leverage Google posts

Google Posts is a feature of GMB that allows you to share news, promotions, and events directly on your GMB listing. It’s a great way to engage with your audience and keep them informed about what’s happening in your business.

Example: “The Busy Bean” uses Google Posts to announce weekly specials, holiday-themed treats, and even barista workshops, enticing customers to keep coming back for more.

Step 6: Engage with customer messages

Google allows customers to send messages directly to your business through the GMB listing. Be responsive and engage with these messages promptly. Answering customer enquiries can lead to increased trust and revenue.

Example: When a customer asked about cold drink options, “The Busy Bean” quickly responded with a list of their soft drinks, smoothies and iced coffees, ensuring the customer felt valued and appreciated.

Step 7: Monitor and respond to reviews

Online reviews are very powerful in influencing consumer decisions. Regularly monitor and respond to both positive and negative reviews. Express gratitude for positive feedback and address any negative feedback professionally to show that you care about your customers’ experiences.

Example: When a customer left a glowing review for “Sweet Delights” about their exceptional customer service, Emily responded with a heartfelt thank-you message, reinforcing their commitment to providing the best experience to every visitor.

Step 8: Build local relationships

Building relationships with other local businesses, influencers, and community organisations can enhance your presence on Google Maps. Collaborate on events, sponsor local initiatives, and cross-promote each other’s businesses.

Example: “The Busy Bean” partnered with a sports club for a family day to raise money for the activities the club provides, gaining exposure from their partner’s participants and strengthening their ties within the community.

Step 9: Track your performance

Google provides valuable insights and analytics on your GMB listing’s performance. Regularly review these metrics to identify what’s working and what’s not. Adjust your strategies accordingly to improve your online presence continually.

Example: Emily diligently analysed the GMB insights for “The Big Bean” and noticed that most customers found them through Google Maps. She decided to allocate a larger portion of her marketing budget to enhance their digital presence further.

Claim your spot on Google Maps

Getting your business on Google Maps isn’t just about appearing on a virtual map; it’s about putting your business on the radar of potential customers actively searching for products or services like yours. By following these steps and incorporating local SEO strategies, you can ensure that your business stands out and shines brightly on Google Maps, driving more foot traffic and online conversions.

The Power of Technical SEO: Boost Your Website’s Performance and Rankings

The Power of Technical SEO: Boost Your Website’s Performance and Rankings 1920 1440 George Cotter

Technical SEO refers to the optimisation of the technical elements of a website to improve it’s performance and bring it in line with current best practice. Generally when someone refers to technical SEO they are pointing to strategies specifically related to boost search engine rankings, but many elements are also aimed at improving the overall user experience.

A website that has a sound technical foundation will be one that operates efficiently and is easy to use.

Some key aspects of technical SEO can include:

  • Ensuring search engine bots can crawl and index the website’s pages efficiently
  • Improving load speed and performance to provide a great user experience
  • Checking the website provides a seamless experience across different devices
  • Introducing a URL structure and architecture that’s both user and search engine friendly
  • Implementing structured data markup to help search engines understand the content
  • Creating a sitemap that shows search engines a clear website structure
  • Setting up tools to monitor and track user insights

Why is technical SEO important?

If the pages on your website are not efficiently accessible to search engines, and don’t provide a great experience for your users, they’ll struggle to rank highly on search engines. Plus, once someone  does find your website, if they are presented with a confusing site architecture, they won’t be able to find what they need and ultimately leave.

If your website doesn’t work and look great on all devices, or they are a slow to load, this also provides a poor experience to users. And more importantly, both these issues are confirmed Google ranking factors.

Let’s talk about website crawling

The very first step to technical SEO is ensuring that search engines can crawl all the content on your website. Crawling is the way search engines find websites and begin to understand what their content is about. If they can’t crawl, or find that it’s taking too long to crawl, they simply won’t rank your content.

Crawling occurs when search engines find and follow links around your website. By linking to new content from pages you know search engines already know about you can ensure they find it efficiently. For example, this article is listed on our Digital Academy page, which is included in the website navigation. We know search engines know about the Digital Academy so every time they visit our website, they will see any new content listed.

Here’s some ways you can help search engines to crawl your website:

Have an SEO friendly website structure:

Your website structure / architecture is the term used to describe how your web pages are linked together. An effective structure is one that’s setup to help search engines and users to find your content efficiently.

A typical website structure will have a home page, which includes a navigation menu that links through to different parts. Then subpages are linked to from those. All pages should be found through just a few clicks from the home page. A structure like this will mean your website is organised into a logical hierarchy.

Submit your sitemap to Google

A “technical” sitemap will be in an XML file which contains a list of all the pages you want search engines to find, and more importantly where to find them. Once you have an XML sitemap ready you need to submit it to Google using Google Search Console.

Let’s look at indexing

Once search engines have crawled your pages they will then attempt to understand the content. At this point they will “index” the content, and pages must be indexed before they will rank in the search results. The content will be stored in databases, so this is why any updates you make to pages will take time for search engines to understand.

The easiest way to check if a website has been indexed is by simply searching for it on Google. A quick hack is to perform a search like the following:

site:www.tallmarketing.co.uk

By searching for that exact text on Google it will show you all the pages on this website that have been indexed.

The use of Noindex

Often they’ll be pages not your website you want to intentionally not be indexed. This is common of eCommerce websites for example where you can hide away the checkout or account pages – here’s some other reasons why you might not want a page to be indexed:

  • Temporary or incomplete content you’re working on
  • Avoid duplicate content issues that exist of different landing pages which can dilute your SEO efforts
  • Development or stage environments that you don’t want to be discovered by search engines

To use the “noindex” tag, you need to insert the following line of code within the HTML head section of the page you want to exclude from indexing:

meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”

This tag tells search engine bots that they should not include the page in their index. As a result, the page will not show up in search engine results pages (SERPs).

It’s worth noting that the “noindex” tag does not prevent the page from being crawled or accessed by users. It only tells search engines not to include it in search results. If you want to prevent search engines from accessing the page altogether, you can use the “disallow” directive in the robots.txt file or implement other methods like password protection.

Master technical SEO best practice

Use HTTPS

Virtually all website addresses will now begin with https rather than http as it’s more secure, and has been a ranking factor since 2014. It protects sensitive information such as payment details and logins by creating a level on encryption between the website and the hosting environment.

You’ll instantly recognise a website that uses https as it’ll have a padlock icon in the address bar. And most browsers will now mark websites as “not secure” if they don’t.

All https websites will have an SSL certificate installed which authenticates it’s identity and establishes a secure connection.

Have only one version of your website

All search engine crawlers and website users should only be able to access one version of your website, i.e. it doesn’t exist on multiple versions of the domain like one that starts www and one that doesn’t. Having more one version will create duplicate content issues and dilute your backlink profile.

All versions of your domain should redirect into the main version.

Work on load speed

Improving the speed of your website can have a huge impact on how user friendly your website is. Your visitors will be on the go and have little patience for a slow loading website.

Speed is also a crucial factor for search engines like Google. Websites that load faster are more likely to appear higher in search results, gaining better visibility and attracting more organic traffic.

Have a mobile-friendly website

You can’t ignore needed a mobile friendly website as Google now uses mobile first indexing – meaning it uses the mobile version of your website to rank content.

By providing a mobile-friendly experience, you make it easier for users to navigate your site, read content, and interact with your calls to action. This leads to increased user satisfaction, longer session durations, lower bounce rates, and higher conversion rates.

Use structured data

Structured data provides additional context and meaning to web content, making it easier for search engines to understand and display relevant information in search results.

It allows website owners to provide explicit details about their content, such as product information, reviews, events, recipes, and more. By incorporating structured data markup, search engines can extract and interpret this information more accurately, leading to enhanced search result features like rich snippets, knowledge panels, and other visually appealing elements.

Find a resolve broken pages

Encountering a 404 error, or “Page Not Found,” can frustrate users when they attempt to access non-existent webpages on a website.

404 errors result in a poor user experience. Users may become discouraged and abandon your website if they repeatedly encounter broken links or missing content. By addressing and removing 404 errors, you create a smoother and more user-friendly browsing experience, keeping visitors engaged and satisfied.

Search engines consider broken links when evaluating a site’s quality and relevance. A high number of 404 errors could result in lower search engine rankings and reduced visibility. By proactively removing 404 errors, you demonstrate your commitment to providing a seamless experience for users and increase the likelihood of retaining traffic and maintaining search engine positions.

Stay on top of it all

No part of technical SEO should be treated as a one-time project. New problems will crop up over time as new pages are added and best practice evolves. Regularly monitoring is crucial to catching issues as they arise.

google algorithm update

How to recover from an Google algorthim update

How to recover from an Google algorthim update 1920 1285 George Cotter

We’ve seen it many times: A company creates a website they love, which acts as a crucial source of customers. Through the use of certain SEO practices, they’ve built strong, organic rankings on Google for their target keywords and then… it all changes. Their rankings drop literally overnight, visitor numbers to their website plummet, and enquiries or orders dry up.

So, what’s happened?

If you’re encountering a scenario similar to the one above, it’s highly likely that your website has been penalised as part of a Google algorithm update. It’s something you probably weren’t prepared for or even aware might happen. But it’s possible to recover from this with some focused graft.

Nb. If you’ve just seen drops in visitor numbers, rather than drops in rankings, check out our blog around why website visitor numbers might have dropped.

What is a Google Algorithm update?

Firstly, let’s talk about what an algorithm update actually is. In recent years, Google Search has evolved in order to present its users with content that is more high quality and more relevant to what it thinks they’re looking for. Google wants its users to feel like they are finding the best answers to their questions, from the most useful websites.

To do this, Google’s search algorithms will hunt for and rank websites, from high to low, based on which ones look like they will deliver the best results for their users search. The benchmarks that Google’s algorithm is looking for, to rank your website more highly on its search results, are good quality links to your website (from other websites and pages), the quality of the content you publish, and how technically sound the set-up of your website is. The way Google analyses and interprets these elements is constantly evolving through the use of their search algorithms. Depending on the scale of an update, it can have a major impact (both positive and negative) on your site’s ranking performance, but it could also not affect it at all.

So how do you know when an update has taken place? Check out Search Engine Journal’s history of algorithm updates

How to recover if you’re hit – a 3 step process

What you specifically need to do will vary depending on the nature of the latest update. On a more occasional basis, Google will release a “core update” which is more universal and can impact on a number of metrics. However, the more frequent, smaller updates will specifically target certain types and aspects of websites. This means that some updates will only be relevant to some websites and irrelevant to others. This provides webmasters an opportunity to gain an insight into why some websites get hit when they do.

For example, in Feb 2023 Google announced the “Product Reviews Update”. This is a sixth iteration of an algorithm, aimed to target websites that focus on reviewing products. But if you’re a digital marketing agency (like us), then it’s highly unlikely to impact your website at all.

If you have noticed your website has lost ranking positions recently, then the good news is that any website can recover. So, here’s an action plan, using a logical 3 step process.

Research why your website has lost rankings

Before you can begin recovering your ranking positions, it’s really important to understand why they’ve dropped in the first place. If you don’t track when any Google algorithm updates happen, then reading this article may the first step towards understanding what has happened. And going forward, it’ll be a great idea for you to start tracking these updates.

Once you have established that there has been an update that has affected your website, you need to determine what the update was targeting, and check whether other websites in your space have also been affected (both positively and negatively).

Next, have a look at which specific content on your website has been affected. This involves  going through each page and investigating if any have declined in rankings. Or conversely, if there have been any improvements in rankings. This is relatively straightforward to check, if you’re actively monitoring your ranking positions. If you’re not doing this already, you could use tools like SE Ranking or SEMRush to help you.

Once you have determined which rankings have declined – have a think about the web pages that were affected. Ask yourself:

  • Which keywords have declined and how do they relate to the pages? Are they optimised for both target keywords and other related search phrases?
  • How much do you know about the latest algorithm update?
  • Based on what you know about an update up to this point and your own opinions, are there things that could improve both the content and the user experience on these pages?

2. Create a plan of how to recover lost rankings

So now it’s time to create a plan to recover your lost rankings and the first step here is to confirm what you already know.

  1. You know if there was a recent algorithm update, and you know what it was targeting.
  2. You know which pages on your website were affected and what rankings you’ve lost
  3. You know what your website goals and how that relates to the latest update

All this information will help you develop an effective strategy.

How?

Let’s go back to the previous example we used of the update that was targeted at review websites. And let’s take a website that reviews the latest smartphones. The website is full of articles of varying lengths and detail around smartphones and their accessories. Many of these articles are accurate and useful, but then Google releases their “Product Reviews Update” and all of a sudden, loads of pages lose ranking positions.

Your research shows that the update advice revolves around providing qualified opinions and info about the product being reviewed, that goes above and beyond what the manufacturer says about it. Such as explaining how it’s evolved from previous models and providing ways that make it easy for users to purchase the product. All of this, aimed at delivering more in depth and useful content to Google’s users

The first step here would be to identify which external web pages have actually benefitted from this update. Evidence might suggest that the competing web pages that have benefitted from the update are longer, that they include links to historical related content (blogs/landing pages etc), they link out to high authority sources of information, and also offer easy ways for readers to buy.

Using this information, you can create a list of tasks or changes, aimed at making your content better, in the eyes of the Google ‘bots.

3. Sensibly and strategically make updates to your website

So, now you have a clear understanding of why your website has lost rankings and what you need to do to begin recovering them. Next, you need to generate some updates. Depending on your website setup, this could present some challenges.

For example, if you have direct access to your website content through a CMS, such as WordPress, you could action small updates quickly. But if you don’t have the tools, or your website setup doesn’t allow for more significant changes, this could be a longer process.

We understand that seeking the expertise of a developer to help could be costly. But before you rule this out as an option, ask yourself why you want to make these changes in the first place. And also what the end goal could look like. If the ranking drops are significantly undermining your business, then you need to find the right balance. Inaction won’t get you back to where you were or where you want to be now!

Get a website set up for winning results

Google algorithm updates are an unfortunate challenge that every website owner or webmaster has to face, and trust us, we know it’s frustrating. However, try to look at algorithm updates as opportunities to move forward. Staying on top of the latest best practice will not only keep you ahead of your competitors, it will also ensure you’re providing the best content and experience for your users.

Still not sure what’s going on with your website? Speak to some friendly experts.

Free SEO tools anyone can start using

Free SEO tools anyone can start using 1920 1280 George Cotter

So who doesn’t want their website to appear in the top positions for relevant searches on Google? Every business regardless of sizes wants to be found online, but it’s far from easy (don’t let anyone tell you it is).

Having a strong online presence is crucial to the success of your business online. SEO is the process of optimising a website in order to rank higher in search engines, increase organically generated visitor numbers, and ultimately improve the overall visibility of a website. Whilst SEO can be a long term strategy, there are a number of free SEO tools available that anyone can start using today.

From keyword research through to backlink monitoring and technical issues, I’m going to introduce you to some of our favourite free tools – at least those with a good free version to get started.

Google Analytics

If you have no idea how many people are actually visiting your website, or where they’re being generated from then Google Analytics is where to go. At the time of writing Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is being introduced to supersede Universal Analytics (essentially GA3). GA4 is a set up in terms of how easy it is to navigate and understand but still a great free tool.

The setup will need a snippet of code adding to your website, but it will only take any webmaster a few moments to do if you not yourself. There’s plenty of guides out there depending on the platform your website is built on.

Search Console

Another free tool from Google is Search Console. This is probably more important than Google Analytics for SEO but they’re both a great place to start. Formally known as Webmaster Tools, Search Console is where you can monitor and evaluate how your website is performing in Google organic search results.

You could simply use it to view what keywords are triggering impressions (views) on Google and the position your website currently holds for each. Perhaps then moving up a stage would be to monitor more technical issues affecting SEO performance or check what links currently point at your website – both serious factors for successful SEO. Search Console is especially useful for new websites as this is the place where you submit sitemaps to Google and view insights into how your pages are appearing.

Google Keyword Tool

OK, this one isn’t completely free as now a days you need to have spent money on Google PPC Ads to be able to access it, but it’s very useful if you have. Within the keyword tool you can research the specific searches people are using on Google when research the products and services you provide or sell. In my experience, this often differs from the way business owners refer to their own products.

Simply input a keyword / search phrase and the tool will produce a list of closely related keywords and how many searches they’ve recently received.

Google Trends

Google trends is only useful is you are researching keywords that receive a high volume of searches. Within this tool you can analyse how search trends have changed over years and can often explain why you might have seen a downturn in a certain business area.

It’ll also show you any seasonal trends that certain keywords enjoy. This can also be narrowed down to certain regions for more localised search trends.

Looker Studio (Was Data Studio)

The free tool from Google is Looker Studio. Here you can create reporting dashboards that can pull in data from all tools into one easy to digest website report. It’s ideal for both in house marketers and agencies to produce clear reporting that even the most technical novice can understand.

Screaming Frog

Although a paid for tool Screaming Frog has a free version which still produces a great level of detail for smaller websites. It’s easily the most popular desktop website crawler, with the free version allowing up to 500 URLs to be crawled. It’ll produce a spreadsheet style report showing where there are gaps in website fundamentals such as title tags and heading structures.

Ultimately Screaming Frog is ideal for large websites where an SEO needs to do widespread crawls of a website to identify how to prioritise their work.

SEOptimer

Need a high level overview of your website which produces a list of action points to boost SEO performance? Head over to SEOptimer.

Simply input your website URL and it’ll do a crawl which analyses key SEO metrics and will give a rank for each – On-Page SEO, Links, Usability, Performance and Social.

Don’t treat what it’s tell you as gospel as it’ll need some context around the stats, such as it doesn’t really know what your website is about or what the content is saying.

In conclusion, there are numerous free SEO tools available for individuals and businesses looking to improve their online visibility. These tools can help you identify areas for improvement and take steps towards higher search engine rankings.

Whether you’re a seasoned SEO professional or just getting started, incorporating these tools into your strategy can help you achieve better results and gain a better understanding of SEO.

website visitor drops

Help! My website visitor numbers have plummeted

Help! My website visitor numbers have plummeted 1920 1272 George Cotter

So in your latest reporting you’ve seen a sudden drop in visits to your website? Or you’ve seen a constant decline over a number of months?

Obviously the more visitors you have the more opportunities you have to attract new customers but there could be a number of explanations as to why visits have dropped. These range from relatively simple content issues that could be cleared up to perhaps something more technical that needs careful consideration. 

Below we’ve put together our top 10 reasons why websites experience decreases in visitor numbers. This could be a sudden drop or clear decreased visits over time:

  1. You’ve been hit by an algorithm update
  2. Your tracking codes have been removed or have errors
  3. You’ve changed your robots.txt file
  4. You’ve added incorrect redirects
  5. You’ve lost organic ranking positions
  6. Your website has a got a manual penalty
  7. You’re not considering target keywords when building content
  8. Your competition has upped their game
  9. You’ve migrated to a new website or made a large update
  10. Your server isn’t functioning correctly

1. You’ve been hit by a Google algorithm update

Google releases updates to its algorithm throughout the year and these are becoming increasingly intelligent. Some updates are small tweaks but others are major “core” updates and these are the ones that cause most fluctuations in ranking positions. Google are very transparent about when updates are released but getting real detail about what an update is looking for or doing is far harder to extract.

When you know an update has been released it’s worth looking through your ranking and visitor stats to see if there was an impact. Plus, it’s also worth keeping yourself up to date with what algorithm changes are being rolled out so your strategies stay ahead of the game.

2. Your tracking codes have been removed or have errors

This happens far more often than you might think. When you add a tool to your website that gathers visitor metrics it’s highly likely you’ll need to add a tracking code to it in order for the tool to gather data. However, if you’ve had recent updates done to your website and you’re looking at a drop in visits it’s definitely worth checking if the tracking is working correctly.

So if you’ve suddenly realised there’s no sessions being reported in Google Analytics, the first step is to check the tracking is firing correctly. This is especially common if someone has been working on your website who is unfamiliar with what tools you utilise. 

3. There’s been changes made to your robots.txt file

Are you sure your website isn’t blocking search engine bots? In order to appear in search results in vital bots can crawl your content and it’s easier than you think to block them. 

This is especially important if you’ve recently either launched a new website or had a large update. Developers tend to work in a staging environment which will rightly be blocked from search engines, but as this test version will likely replace the live website, it’s crucial it’s opened up again.

4. You’ve added incorrect re-directs

If you have a website that’s a few years old or has gone through several iterations it’s likely they’ll be link redirects in place. A webmaster will commonly add these to your htaccess file, but they can also be quickly managed from a range of plugins if you have a WordPress website. 

As a website owner it’s important you keep on top of what redirects are in place, and you test any new ones, especially if you’re adding a large amount. If one of your redirects isn’t working or links to the wrong page it could result in a drop in page views and cause people to leave your website. Plus, with re-directs there’s a few additional considerations such as avoiding redirect chains – when a redirected link points at another redirected link. 

5. You’ve lost ranking positions

Quite a simple explanation to a sudden drop in visitors is that your website has lost organic ranking positions. Using a tool like Google Analytics it’s straightforward to split your visits by their source, and this might well reveal the reason is a drop in organic visits. 

If you’re tracking organic ranking positions for relevant keywords or you know of a strong ranking position that produces visitors, it should be straightforward to identify what’s happened. You could also use the Search Console to check general search engine visibility drops.

6. Your website has got a manual penalty

Linked to the algorithm updates mentioned above, a manual penalty is one where instead of just being marginally penalised by a machine, you’ve been penalised by a human. If your website is being hit by the algorithms then the next level is for it to be reviewed by a human and if they find you’re going against Google’s guidelines they have the power to hit your website much harder.

You can see if your website has been hit by a manual action in the Search Console.

7. You’re not considering target keywords when building content

In order to build and maintain search engine rankings all content you add to your website should be based around a basket of relevant keywords. These should be the search terms your target audience are using when researching your products or services. If you’ve previously held competitive ranking positions that have now been lost then the content you’re adding to your website (or indeed not adding) could be to blame.

8. Your competition has upped their game

It is possible that you’re doing all the right things but still losing visitor numbers purely because a competitor has upped their game. Keep yourself up to date with your competitors by monitoring their digital marketing tactics such as social media, link building, and content strategies. There’s a host of tools you can use to monitor links and other metrics.

If they’ve recently built a large number of inbound links it could be they’re also investing in a new SEO strategy. By understanding why a competitor is enjoying higher ranking positions you can start to create your own strategy to bounce back.

9. You’ve migrated to a new website or made a large update

Building a new website should be a really exciting process but it’s easy to muck up the migration and instantly lose visitors. The same can also be said if you’re introducing a large update. There are specific steps you should take when migrating to a new website – check out our website migration checklist to ensure you don’t negatively affect your visitor numbers or wider SEO.

All website migrations or large updates need careful planning. With the right process you should only positively impact your SEO rather than the other way around. 

10. Your server isn’t functioning correctly

If you’re experiencing a sudden loss in visitors then are you sure that your website is functioning properly or are there issues with your hosting environment? It’s important your website is hosted on a reliable server as if you experience regular down time this will negatively impact your SEO.

A common issue for servers not functioning correctly would be if you’ve received a surge in visitors or if you’ve used up the available bandwidth. Get help from an experienced webmaster if you think you’re having problems server side.

In Summary

Seeing sudden drops in visitors or clear decreases over time can seem daunting but there’s almost always an explanation, and with that in mind there’s always something you can do about it. 

The important thing is to realise that losses in visitors could come from something as easy to rectify as an incorrect redirect, or it could be a mixture of things mentioned above. Losses in visitors need investigating properly in order to put together a plan to recover them.

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