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50+ Business-Building Local SEO Tactics For SMBs

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50+ Business-Building Local SEO Tactics For SMBs


Do you have a local small to medium-sized business (SMB)?

If so, you know just how difficult it is to get found and stand out in increasingly competitive search results.

Local SEO strategies must adapt to new features and algorithm updates by the top search engines that affect local search results.

Most local SEO tactics fall into the following three categories.

  • Optimizing local listings and citations.
  • Optimizing your website and its content.
  • Optimizing and working on incoming links.

In this column, you’ll find over 50 specific things you can do right now to help improve your visibility in local search results, divided into those categories above.

Optimizing Local Listings & Citations

Let’s start with your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) data.

In order to get listed and ranked in Google Maps, you need to be a legitimate business, and in some areas, you’ll need a business license (depending on the type of business you’re in).

That NAP needs to be consistent and listed the same everywhere or you’ll have problems later on.

Before you get started with local listings and citations, you’ll also need the following:

  • NAP of the business.
  • Website URL (list of internal location pages if more than one location).
  • A short description (up to 50 characters) that should include your main city name and type of business.
  • A longer description (up to 250 characters) that describes who you are and what you do. Include the city name and areas served if applicable.
  • Recent photos of your business.
  • Category of your business.
  • Keywords (that you’d like to rank for). These are typical “city name keyword” type keywords.

The main strategy for local listings and local citations is to get as many as feasible in the right category, with consistent information such as your NAP data.

Screenshot by author, March 2022

Local citations are mentions of a local business, which includes NAP data. Local citations may or may not include a link to your website. There are generally two strategies for getting local citations:

  • Get the local listings yourself.
  • Hire someone else to get them for you.

Taking the time to get local citations yourself can be a really big project, especially if you’re in a competitive industry in your area.

Competitors could have up to hundreds of thousands of local citations, which is nearly impossible to do manually.

If you’re a local business (SMB) in a fairly non-competitive market, then getting a handful of local citations manually is a good strategy. If that’s the case, a non-competitive local SEO strategy for local citations is to get these listings:

  • Google Business Profile.
  • Facebook.
  • Yahoo! Local (currently requires a payment to Yext).
  • Apple Maps.
  • Bing Places for Business.
  • MapQuest.
  • Yelp.
  • BBB.org.
  • FourSquare.
  • TripAdvisor.
  • Angie’s List.
  • TrustRatings.
  • YellowPages.
  • Home Advisor.
  • Thumbtack.

The last two on the list are specific to certain industries, and you’ll want to search certain directories that are specific to your local business’ industry.

Typically, these are easy to find — they’ll rank in the top 10 search results (on the first page).

BrightLocal has a list of top local citations for the U.S. that they maintain.

Submitting to directories (and getting listed) will allow your local business to take advantage of what’s often referred to as “barnacle SEO.”

Your business gets listed on pages on other websites that rank well for a certain keyword you’re targeting.

So for [Dallas carpenters], Google lists sites like Yelp.com, homeadvisor.com, thumbtack.com, houzz.com, and angi.com.

Getting listed on those sites will bring the business leads, as they’re ranking well in Google.

Once you have secured (and verified) those local listings, the next local SEO strategy is to get listed with the main data aggregators. There are three:

  • Data Axle (formerly InfoGroup) – Submit your business here.
  • Acxiom  – Register then submit your business here.
  • Localeze – Register then submit your business here.

The data aggregators will take the information of the local business and aggregate it (make it available for literally thousands of websites to use).

Be sure you’re using the correct NAP data and website URLs, as once the data aggregators get hold of your data, it’s tough to get it corrected and updated and can take quite some time.

Using A Third Party For Local Citations & Listings

Another local SEO strategy is to outsource local citations and listings.

Several third-party businesses allow you to submit your local business listing to them (the NAP data, short and long descriptions, URLs, etc.), and they will then use their connections to get that data on other websites.

Many have agreements with certain data providers, and can efficiently get hundreds, thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of local citations.

These third-party services include:

  • BrightLocal.
  • MozLocal.
  • Yext.
  • Advice Local.
  • SEMrush Listing Management Tool.
  • Whitespark.
  • Synup.

Some of these services are better than others, mainly because of the agreements they have with other websites and their technology.

Some submit to only 30 websites, and others like Advice Local will end up getting a local business thousands upon thousands of local citations, many of which include a link to the website.

Be wary of any third-party websites that set up a local listing on behalf of the local business but won’t give the local business the login and password for those listings.

Reviews Are Key

Getting reviews of your local business, especially on Google, is going to help rankings and it will encourage others to visit your business.

People do read reviews online, especially for service-type businesses (hotels, resorts, carpet cleaners, home inspectors, carpenters, and even car dealerships).

So, if your local business is a service-type business or another business where reviews are important, then creating a good strategy for dealing with reviews is key.

Local businesses need to request and encourage their customers to leave a review.

There are a lot of ways to encourage customers to leave a review.

Some businesses post a plaque at the business asking for reviews. Other SMBs encourage reviews by offering a “prize” each month to a random reviewer (one local business I frequent gives away an Apple iPad once a month to a random reviewer).

The local business should respond to reviews just as quickly as they are left, regardless if it’s a positive or negative review.

If it’s a positive review or comment, thank the customer for leaving a review.

If it’s negative, deal with it quickly and offer to take the issue offline to minimize any future problems and the negative review getting out of hand.

Even if you miss responding to a review, it’s perfectly okay to respond to reviews left several months in the past.

If the review shows up and can be seen easily, then I recommend responding to the review.

Too many local businesses will take the time to verify their local listings but won’t properly deal with reviews and respond to them in a timely manner.

Local businesses should take the time to develop a strategy for encouraging reviews, tell employees what that strategy is, and designate one or two people to respond to reviews.

Here are a few other ways to manage reviews:

  • Designate one or two employees to read reviews and handle review responses.
  • Encourage reviews by asking your customers when they check out or pay for services.
  • Send customers a letter or postcard in the mail, asking for a review after you provide services.
  • Outsource review monitoring and response. Typically, your social media or SEO company (or consultant) will help monitor and respond to reviews. If not, hire someone part-time to handle it for you.
  • Add a link on your website to a few other places where customers can leave a review. On the Google Maps listing, for example, Google provides a link to the listing that you can share.
  • Add a form on your website so they can anonymously leave a review (or leave their contact info if preferred). There are plugins available that will help you post those reviews on your website. This is especially helpful for businesses that sell products directly on their websites.
  • Create a comment box at your business, and provide a pen/pencil and forms. On the form, add a line for the customer’s email address. Ask them if you can post their review or testimonial online. Or, if you have their email address, email them and ask them to leave a review online.

Reviews sent directly to the business can be posted on the company’s website (with the permission of the customer). Reviews left on a third-party website (like on Google, Yelp, etc.) cannot be copied and posted on the company’s website.

Reviews on third-party websites have in fact been given extra weight lately by Google. So sites like these, where customers can leave reviews and feedback, could potentially help with local rankings on Google:

  • Yelp (yelp.com).
  • Trip Advisor (tripadvisor.com).
  • Yellowpages (yp.com).
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB.org).
  • Manta (manta.com).
  • Angie’s List (angieslist.com).
  • Foursquare (foursquare.com).
  • Facebook (facebook.com).

Another way to get more local reviews is to create a postcard or handout that’s given to customers.

Tell them you’d like their feedback, and use that feedback to make your business even better.

They can leave you a review on your website, or on any of these third-party websites (list the websites where you’d like them to leave a review).

Optimizing Your Local Website’s Content

Without going into too much detail about optimizing a local website, there are several on-site local SEO strategies that are important to consider:

  • Optimize for “Near Me” search queries.
  • Optimize for local.
  • Be a local content machine.
  • Buy a local website or blog.
Local Search on GoogleScreenshot by author, March 2022

Optimize For “Near Me” Search Queries

In the past, there have been more people using “near me” in the number of search queries, such as [restaurants near me] or [pharmacies near me].

Those two search queries assume the search engine knows where the searcher is located.

While “near me” isn’t necessarily gaining in popularity as it once was five years ago, it’s still used quite often.

I recommend doing your own keyword research and specifically looking to see if “near me” is used in search queries in your area.

If there’s a significant amount of searches, you may want to optimize at least one page on your website for “near me” related keywords.

Local Ranking Factors

Advice Local came out with their list of 2021 Local Ranking Factors, which is worth reviewing.

Specifically, they found that the local SEO experts that contributed to the list of ranking factors said that these are important:

A properly optimized GBP listing is the most important ranking “factor.”

So, it’s important to optimize your Google Business Profile listing.

Reviews are important, as well as responding to those reviews.

Then one of the “rising” important factors is the optimization of your website’s pages, which is the “On-Page” referred to above.

For example, make sure that your website has the proper Local Schema markup code, and the NAP data there matches the information in your GBP exactly, especially the name.

Work on getting more backlinks specifically to your individual location pages that include “city name + keyword” in the anchor text of the links.

Be A Local Content Machine

One interesting tactic or “local SEO strategy” I’ve seen lately that works well is becoming a local content machine.

Essentially, by adding a blog to your local business website and writing about local news and events, you’re producing content that others in the city will want to read and share, especially on social networks.

While you’re not necessarily writing about your local business, you’re branding the business locally. When someone wants or needs a company’s services, they’ll think of your business first since they’ve seen it so much online.

A local auto accident and personal injury attorney hired a writer to write articles every single day about accidents in their city.

While they weren’t targeting the actual victims they wrote about, the social media shares went up dramatically and the attorney got his name out there in front of people in the city.

Those social media shares did end up creating links to the website, which in turn helped local rankings.

Buy A Local Website Or Blog

If you’re looking to add a lot of content fairly quickly to your local business website, consider purchasing a local website that already has the content you need.

It could be a local hobby website with local news or articles, or it could be a local blog that has the content.

Perhaps the owner doesn’t have the heart to keep up with the content like they used to or they could just use the money.

Approach a local website or blog about buying their site and incorporating and moving their content over to your local business website.

Setting up redirects from the old domain name to your local business website will help pass any link equity and history over to your local business.

Optimizing And Working On Links

Links to your website have always been an important search engine ranking factor and will continue to be in the future.

Google’s algorithm has always favored links to a website.

But back in 2016, there was a stronger emphasis on links when Google released its Google Possum algorithm update.

Local links or links from other local businesses and organizations have been important for years, and are still a very important part of a local SEO strategy today.

Greg Gifford, Vice President of Search at SearchLab.com, recommends that you can “find easy link opportunities by looking at the relationships you already have.”

Local sponsorships, local volunteer opportunities, and local offline groups can all lead to local links.

Need more ideas for local links? Use Majestic.com to analyze the link profiles of similar businesses in another city.

Another local SEO strategy for local links is to get links from competitors.

Use a web crawler such as the Screaming Frog SEO Spider to crawl their website and review all of your competitors’ outgoing links.

Then, see if there are any links you can get from websites your competitors are linking to.

Essentially, those competitors are passing link credit or PageRank to the other website that then passes it to your website.

Additional Local SEO Tips

Those are a few local SEO strategies that will help local search engine rankings.

But, if that wasn’t enough, here are a bunch more local SEO tips and pointers that you may not have thought of yet.

Local Listings

Undoubtedly, the number one local search ranking factor is the “proximity of the business to the point of search.”

How far is the business away from the person who is doing the search?

For example, Google knows where the searcher is (especially if they are using a mobile phone).

The closer the business is to the person doing the searching, the more likely that business will show up in the Google Maps and Google local listings in the search results.

Some businesses have been known to get a “virtual office” location (or multiple virtual office locations) just for this reason, especially if the customer never visits their location.

While this is a local SEO strategy I don’t endorse, it’s a local SEO strategy worth noting – as a company’s competitors might be doing it.

Keep your local online listings up to date.

If you know you have an update to your NAP data, make sure it gets changed online as soon as possible.

If you’re moving, start updating your local listings.

As soon as you know the new address, start updating local listings online.

It can take months for websites to update your listing, so the sooner you start, the better.

Just as you update your “snail mail” with the US Postal Service when you move to a new location, you’ll want to make sure your local listings are updated as well.

As previously mentioned, the address with the USPS should be the same exact address used in your local listings.

Search engines most likely have access to USPS data and inconsistencies can lead to local ranking problems.

Consistency is key when it comes to NAP data and your business’s ability to rank well locally.

Make sure your local listings are consistent and the same as it is on your website.

Audit your local citations.

Inconsistent NAP data across multiple websites is one of the issues I see a lot.

Auditing your local citations to make sure your NAP is consistent everywhere can really help local SEO.

You might have multiple phone numbers, different versions of your address, or even a different address on some websites that list your NAP data.

Removing duplicate listings and updating inconsistencies can make a huge difference.

Add updated photos on a regular basis to local profiles.

Get on a regular schedule of taking new photos of your location and your business. Add new photos on Google Business Profile, your Facebook page, and other sites that will accept photos such as Yelp.

Add a budget for local ads.

Use Google AdWords to target specific locations and target potential customers in your area. Google is now offering ads on Google Maps listings, so setting aside a budget for those ads will pay off.

Work on getting more reviews.

It’s always a constant battle to get more online reviews than your competitors – but it’s worth it in the long run.

Ask customers for reviews – in-store, at your location, and even via email if you have your customers’ email addresses.

Ask for a review on Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor if you’re a hotel or resort.

Always respond in a timely manner to every review that’s left, whether it’s a positive or negative review.

On-Site Local SEO

Add marked-up schema.org code to your NAP on your website.

The name, address, and phone number on your site should be marked up with the proper code.

It won’t affect how it displays on your site, but the schema.org code will tell search engines just that – that it’s your name, address, and phone number.

You can also add the markup in JSON-LD (JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data) code, which can help Google know about your NAP.

Add the proper link to your telephone number.

Adding a “tel://” type of link to your phone number where it’s listed on your site will allow mobile visitors to click on the link and call you.

This can also help search engines display your phone number in the phone call extension area in mobile search results.

Speed up your website’s load time.

Optimizing your site for mobile devices can seriously (and quickly) help rankings.

I’ve seen Google send more traffic to a website just because the website loads faster than it did before. This might mean moving web hosts, redesigning the website, or using a CDN.

All photos of your business should be tagged with the appropriate location information and keywords.

Use an EXIF editor to add location information, keywords, and descriptions of each photo. Each image file can be updated with this information, which can include geotagged location information.

Multiple locations? Create a section on your website for each location.

Don’t create just one page for each location, add additional content if possible.

Each location will have its own unique personality with its location and employees. Why not consistently add content relevant to each location? Add a blog, and add photos to make it relevant.

Use the proper syntax and keywords in your URLs.

For each location, use a format like www.domain.com/location/. Link to each location in the main navigation on your website, but don’t link to sub-pages under each location.

Consolidate separate websites for each location to one main website.

If you’ve set up a separate domain name and website for each location, move those websites to your main site.

Redirect the domain names with 301 redirects and move the content to sub-sections on your main website.

Each location will feed off of the main website’s authority to become more powerful. Don’t forget to update your location’s local listings so they point to the new URL on the main website as well.

Some local search queries can trigger featured snippets.

Depending on your topic, you can increase your website traffic and visibility by showing up in “position zero” for some search queries.

Position zero is the “featured snippet” that Google shows above all of the other search engine listings.

Use SEMrush.com to analyze the keywords you’re currently ranking for, and see if any of them include a featured snippet.

Optimize the content to show up for the featured snippet. Other search queries may also trigger the knowledge graph, instant answer, local pack carousel, or images that you can optimize for.

Make sure you’re using HTTPS.

While you may not be taking credit cards or personal information on your website, moving your entire website to an SSL secure server will give you a leg up.

HTTPS is now a search engine ranking factor for Google, and many local businesses haven’t moved their websites to HTTPS yet.

So moving to HTTPS will put you ahead of your competition. It’s important to make sure that links that you’ve had for a while, such as local citations, point to the HTTPS version of your website.

Add a blog.

Write blog posts on a regular basis about local news, local issues, and local events. Post those on social media and link back to your blog post.

Photos are always liked by local residents, and quite often they’re shared.

Local SEO Audits

Perform an audit of your website.

There are several different types of audits available, including link audits, on-page audits, and local citation audits.

Local citation audits are good for identifying duplicate listings and inconsistent NAP data.

I’ve recently seen a rash of negative SEO being done in the local listings, with some businesses receiving listings being built “for them” with bad data, courtesy of competitors.

A local citation audit can identify a lot of these issues so you can deal with them properly.

Link audits are important, as local maps algorithms are increasingly relying on link data.

Having low-quality links and off-topic links pointing to your website can hurt rankings.

On-page audits are also important to identify areas for improvement on your website.

Fixing issues like formatting, metadata, heading, and even page load speed can improve rankings.

Off-Site Local SEO

Get your customers’ email addresses and use that data to target them on Facebook or for an email newsletter.

You can upload your customers’ email addresses and phone numbers to Facebook and target them with ads.

Then, create a lookalike campaign on Facebook to target even more people with the same demographics as your current customers.

Optimize for voice search.

More people are using voice search to find local businesses. They use voice search to help them find a business near them.

For example, they might ask, “Where is the nearest Italian restaurant?” Check out the Local SEO Guide study of “near me” local SEO ranking factors that I previously mentioned. It’s an interesting read.

Use the barnacle SEO strategy.

For your main keywords (the ones you want to rank for), take a look at who is currently ranking – and it may not be your own website.

If you can optimize your listing or show up well on another site that’s currently ranking for your keyword, then you’ll still see some traffic and get business.

If a Yelp, Home Advisor, Thumbtack, Angie’s List, or BBB page is ranking, then make sure your local business is listed on those pages.

Participate and sponsor local events, organizations, and non-profits.

These will increase your local visibility and will quite often include a link back to your website, which ultimately helps your search engine rankings.

Final Thoughts

It takes a holistic approach to optimize your website for search. The combination of on-site optimizations and offsite listings and links will help boost your SMB’s visibility in local search results.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Olivier Le Moal/Shutterstock





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SEO

7 Steps to Grow Your Traffic & Sales

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7 Steps to Grow Your Traffic & Sales

Content marketing has become one of the best (and most cost-effective) ways to get traffic to a website. When done right, the traffic keeps coming long after you stop actively promoting it.

If you own an e-commerce website and want to learn how to utilize blogging to grow your brand and increase your sales, this is the guide for you.

I’ve personally grown blogs to over 250,000 monthly visitors, and I’ve worked with dozens of clients in the e-commerce space to help them do the same. Here’s an overview of my seven-step process to starting and growing an e-commerce blog. 

But first…

Why start a blog on your e-commerce site?

Creating a blog has a whole host of benefits for e-commerce websites:

  • It can help you move visitors along your marketing funnel so they eventually buy.
  • You’re able to rank highly for keywords on Google that your product pages could never rank for but that are still important for building brand awareness and finding customers.
  • It can help you grow your email list.
  • You’re able to continue to get traffic without constantly spending money on ads.
  • It provides many opportunities to link to your product and category pages to help them rank better on the SERPs.

If you don’t know what some of these things mean, don’t worry—I’ll explain them along the way. But for now, let’s take a look at some e-commerce blogs that are working well right now so you can see the end goal.

Examples of successful e-commerce blogs

Three of my favorite examples of e-commerce websites using blogging are:

  1. Solo Stove
  2. Flatspot
  3. v-dog

Solo Stove comes in at the top of my list due to its excellent use of videos, photos, and helpful information on the blog. It also does search engine optimization (SEO) really well, bringing in an estimated 329,000 monthly visits from Google (data from Ahrefs’ Site Explorer).

Overview of Solo Stove, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

In fact, it’s grown its brand to such a level of popularity that it even created search demand for keywords that include its brand name in them, then created blog posts to rank for those keywords:

Ahrefs' keyword report for Solo Stove

But that’s not all it did. Its blog posts also rank for other keywords in its marketing funnel, such as how to have a mosquito-free backyard or how to change your fire pit’s colors.

E-commerce blogging keyword examples

Then on its blog posts, it uses pictures of its fire pit:

Solo Stove blog post example

Ranking for these keywords does two things:

  1. It introduces Solo Stove’s brand to people who may eventually purchase a fire pit from it.
  2. It gives the brand the opportunity to promote its products to an audience who may not have even known it existed, such as the “mosquito free backyard” keyword.

Moving on, skater brand Flatspot also does blogging well, with a cool ~80,000 monthly visitors to its blog just from search engines.

Overview of Flatspot, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

One of its tactics is to piggie-back on the popularity of new shoe releases from major brands like Nike, then use that traffic to get readers to buy the shoes directly from it:

Flatspot promoting Nike SB shoes in blog post

Finally, let’s look at v-dog—a plant-powered kibble manufacturer that gets ~8,000 visits per month.

Overview of v-dog, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

My favorite post it’s done is its guide to making wet dog food at home, which ranks for the featured snippet for “how to make wet dog food”:

Google search results for "how to make wet dog food"

This guide directly promotes v-dog’s product to make wet dog food. So people who search the query will be introduced to its brand and potentially buy its product to make their own wet dog food at home.

And there you have it—three examples of blogging for e-commerce that’s working right now. With that, let’s talk about how you can start your own blog.

Seven steps to start and grow an e-commerce blog

In my 10+ years as a professional SEO and freelance writer, I’ve worked with over a dozen e-commerce stores to help them grow their website traffic. I’ve also run several of my own e-commerce websites.

In that time, I’ve distilled what works into an easy-to-follow seven-step process:

1. Do some keyword research

I never start a blog without first doing keyword research. Not only does this make coming up with blog topic ideas much easier, but it also ensures that every blog post you write has a chance to show up in Google search results and bring you free, recurring traffic.

While we wrote a complete guide to keyword research, here’s a quick and dirty strategy for finding keywords fast:

First, find a competitor who has a blog. Let’s say you’re selling dog food just like v-dog—if I search for “dog food” on Google, I can see some of my competition:

Google search results for "dog food"

At this point, I look for relevant competitors. For example, Chewy and American Kennel Club are good competitors for research. But I’ll skip sites like Amazon and Walmart, as they are just too broad to get relevant data from.

Next, plug the competitor’s URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and click on the Organic keywords report to see the keywords its website ranks for on Google:

Organic keywords report for chewy.com

In this example, it has over 700,000 keywords. That’s way too many to sort through. Let’s add some filters to make things easier:

  • First, set the KD (Keyword Difficulty) score to a maximum of 30 to find easier-to-rank-for keywords.
  • Then we can exclude brand name keywords using the “Keywords” dropdown, set it to “Doesn’t contain,” and type in the brand name.
  • If the website has /blog/ in its blog post URLs, you can also set a filter in the “URL” dropdown to “Contains” and type “blog” in the text field. In Chewy’s case, it doesn’t do that, but it does use a subdomain for its blog, which we can search specifically.

When you’re done, it should look like this:

Ahrefs keyword filters

In the case of chewy.com, this only shaved it down to 619,000 keywords. That’s still a lot—let’s filter it down further. We can apply the following:

  • Minimum monthly search volume of 100
  • Only keywords in positions #1–10
  • Only show keywords containing “dog,” since my example website only sells dog food, not all animal food

Here’s what it looks like with these new filters applied:

Filtering down Ahrefs' Organic keywords report

Now I can find some more related keywords like “what to feed a dog with diarrhea” or “can dogs eat cheese.”

Data for keyword "what to feed a dog with diarrhea"

In addition to picking interesting keywords, you can also get an idea of how to become a topical authority on the topic of dog food by searching “dog food” in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.

Overview for "dog food," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

This keyword is extremely difficult to rank on page #1 for. However, if we go to the Related terms report and set the KD to a max of 30, we can see keyword ideas that are still relevant but may be easier to rank high in the search results.

List of keywords related to dog food

Go through and click the gray + sign next to any keywords you may want to target to add them to your list of potential article ideas. 

2. Create templates for future blog posts

One of the first things I do when I create a new blog is to establish a repeatable template that I use for every post. Typically, it looks something like this:

Blog post template example

It has breadcrumb navigation to help with SEO and navigation, the article title and the date it was last updated, then a short intro with an image on the right to make the lines shorter (and easier to skim). Finally, I include a clickable table of contents to help with navigation, then get into the article.

Within the article itself, I will use headers (H2s) and subheaders (H3s) to make my content easier to skim and to help Google understand what each section is about.

You can make templates for every kind of post you plan on creating—such as list posts, ultimate guides, tutorials, etc.—and reuse them for every post you ever create. It’s a huge time-saver.

While you’re at it, you should also create a standard operating procedure (SOP) that you go through for every article. This could include writing guidelines, what to do with images, formatting, tone, etc.

3. Outline your article

I never dive into writing an article without outlining it first. An outline ensures the article is well structured and planned before you start writing, and it bakes SEO right into your writing process. It’s another big time-saver.

Typically, you want this outline to include:

  • Potential title or titles of the article
  • Target keyword
  • Brief description of the article angle
  • Links to competing articles on Google for research
  • Headers and subheaders, with brief descriptions of the section as needed

Here’s a look at part of an example outline I’ll either send to my writers or write myself:

Content outline example

I wrote a guide to outlining content, which you can follow here for the full step-by-step process.

4. Write, optimize, and publish your post

Next up, it’s time to write your article. As you write more articles, you’ll find what works for you—but you may find it easier to fill in the sections then go back and write the intro once the article is finished.

Here are a few writing tips to help you become a better writer:

  • Ditch the fluff – If a word isn’t needed to bring a point across, cut it.
  • Keep your paragraphs short – Two to three lines per paragraph is plenty, especially for mobile readers where the screen width is shorter.
  • Use active voice over passive voiceHere is a guide for that.
  • Make your content easy to skim – Include photos and videos and make use of headers and bulleted lists to share key points.

Once you’ve written your article, do some basic on-page SEO to help it rank higher in search results:

  • Ensure your article has one H1 tag – The title of the article.
  • Have an SEO-friendly URL – Include the keyword you’re targeting, but keep it short and easy to read.
  • Link to other pages on your site using proper anchor textHere’s a guide for that.
  • Ensure your images have alt text – This is the text Google uses to read what the image is about, as well as what is shown to readers if the image can’t render.

Finally, publish your post and give yourself a pat on the back.

5. Add product promotions, email opt-ins, and internal links

Before you promote your content, there are a few things you can do to squeeze more ROI from it—namely, you should add a way for people to either push them through the funnel toward purchasing a product or subscribe to your email list. I’ll give an example of each.

First, Solo Stove wrote an article titled “Ambiance Is A Girl’s Best Friend,” where it promotes its tiny Solo Stove Mesa as a way of improving a space’s ambiance: 

How to promote your products in a blog post

Beyond directly promoting your products in the articles, you can also add email opt-ins that give people a percentage off their orders. You may lose a little money on the initial order. But once you get someone’s email address, you can promote to them again and get multiple orders from them.

For example, Primary sells kids’ clothing and uses this email pop-up to promote money off its products after you spend a certain amount of time on its website:

Email opt-in pop-up offering a discount on first order

Just make sure your discount code only works once per unique IP address. You can learn more about how to do that here if you use Shopify.

Finally, when you publish an article, you should make it a point to add internal links to your new article from older articles. 

This won’t be as important for your first few because you won’t have a ton of articles. But as your blog grows, it’s an important part of the process to ensure your readers (and Google) can still find your articles and that they aren’t buried deep on your site.

Refer to our guide to internal linking to learn more about this step.

6. Promote your content

At this point, your content is live and optimized for both conversions and search engines. Now it’s time to get some eyeballs on it.

We have an entire guide to content promotion you should read, but here are some highlights:

  • Share the article on all of your social media channels
  • Send the article to your email list if you have one
  • Share your content in relevant communities (such as relevant Reddit forums)
  • Consider running paid ads to your article

There’s a lot more you can do to promote a piece, including reaching out to other blog owners. But I won’t cover all of that here.

The other important piece of promoting your content is getting other website owners to link to your new articles. This is called link building, and it’s a crucial part of SEO.

There are many ways to build links. Some of the most popular include:

Link building is an entire subject on its own. If you’re serious about blogging and getting search traffic, it’s a crucial skill to learn.

7. Scale your efforts

The final step in blogging for e-commerce is scaling up your efforts by creating repeatable processes for each step and hiring people to do the tasks you yourself don’t need to be doing.

You can hire freelance writers, outreach specialists, editors, and more. You can put together a full SEO team for your business.

If you’re not in a place to start hiring, there are still things you can do to squeeze more output from your time, such as creating the SOPs I mentioned earlier.

Final thoughts

Blogging is one of the best ways to increase your e-commerce store’s traffic and sales. It costs less than traditional paid advertising and can continue to provide a return long after a post has been published.

This guide will hopefully help you start your e-commerce blog and publish your first post. But remember that success with blogging doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it takes three to six months on average to see any results from your SEO efforts. Keep learning and be patient.

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The 5-Step Formula To Forecasting Your SEO Campaign Results

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The 5-Step Formula To Forecasting Your SEO Campaign Results

Looking to launch a successful digital marketing campaign for your business?

How do you select the best SEO keywords to expand your brand’s reach?

What can you do to determine the most effective ways to allocate your marketing budget?

Facing these tough decisions can put you on your heels if you’re not equipped with the right information.

Luckily, there’s a new way to leverage your company’s data to estimate your ROI and take the guesswork out of your next campaign.

With a simple mathematical formula, you can predict the amount of traffic and revenue you’ll generate before even setting your strategy in motion – and you can do it all in just five steps.

Want to learn how?

Join our next webinar with Sabrina Hipps, VP of Partner Development, and Jeremy Rivera, Director of Content Analysis at CopyPress, to find out how to analyze specific keywords and forecast your SEO results.

Not too fond of math? Don’t worry – we’ll provide access to free tools and a downloadable calculator to help automate this process and save you time.

Key Takeaways From This Webinar: 

  • Learn how forecasting your SEO can help you build better campaigns and choose the right keywords.
  • Get step-by-step instructions to predict revenue and website traffic for your next SEO campaign.
  • Access a free handout, resources, and online tools that will save you time and supercharge your content strategy.

In this session, we’ll share real-life examples and provide guidance for the decision-makers within your organization to start getting the most out of your marketing efforts.

By better understanding the market potential of your product or service, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions and effectively maximize your ROI.

Sign up for this webinar and discover how you can secure a sufficient marketing budget and use SEO keywords to forecast the results of your future content campaigns.



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Google SEO Tips For News Articles: Lastmod Tag, Separate Sitemaps

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Google SEO Tips For News Articles: Lastmod Tag, Separate Sitemaps

Google Search Advocate John Mueller and Analyst Gary Illyes share SEO tips for news publishers during a recent office-hours Q&A recording.

Taking turns answering questions, Mueller addresses the correct use of the lastmod tag, while Illyes discusses the benefits of separate sitemaps.

When To Use The Lastmod Tag?

In an XML sitemap file, lastmod is a tag that stores information about the last time a webpage was modified.

Its intended use is to help search engines track and index significant changes to webpages.

Google provides guidelines for using the lastmod tag, which could be used to alter search snippets.

The presence of the lastmod tag may prompt Googlebot to change the publication date in search results, making the content appear more recent and more attractive to click on.

As a result, there may be an inclination to use the lastmod tag even for minor changes to an article so that it appears as if it was recently published.

A news publisher asks whether they should use the lastmod tag to indicate the date of the latest article update or the date of the most recent comment.

Mueller says the date in the lastmod field should reflect the date when the page’s content has changed significantly enough to require re-crawling.

However, using the last comment date is acceptable if comments are a critical part of the page.

He also reminds the publisher to use structured data and ensure the page date is consistent with the lastmod tag.

“Since the site map file is all about finding the right moment to crawl a page based on its changes, the lastmod date should reflect the date when the content has significantly changed enough to merit being re-crawled.

If comments are a critical part of your page, then using that date is fine. Ultimately, this is a decision that you can make. For the date of the article itself, I’d recommend looking at our guidelines on using dates on a page.

In particular, make sure that you use the dates on a page consistently and that you structured data, including the time zone, within the markup.”

Separate Sitemap For News?

A publisher inquires about Google’s stance on having both a news sitemap and a general sitemap on the same website.

They also ask if it’s acceptable for both sitemaps to include duplicate URLs.

Illyes explained that it’s possible to have just one sitemap with the news extension added to the URLs that need it, but it’s simpler to have separate sitemaps for news and general content. URLs older than 30 days should be removed from the news sitemap.

Regarding sitemaps sharing the duplicate URLs, it’s not recommended, but it won’t cause any problems.

Illyes states:

“You can have just one site map, a traditional web sitemap as defined by sitemaps.org, and then add the news extension to the URLs that need it. Just keep in mind that, you’ll need to remove the news extension from URLs that are older than 30 days. For this reason it’s usually simpler to have separate site map for news and for web.

Just remove the URLs altogether from the news site map when they become too old for news. Including the URLs in both site maps, while not very nice, but it will not cause any issues for you.”

These tips from Mueller and Illyes can help news publishers optimize their websites for search engines and improve the visibility and engagement of their articles.


Source: Google Search Central

Featured Image: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock



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