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What To Expect Of Your Agency

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What To Expect Of Your Agency

Effective location-based SEO (local SEO) can have a substantial impact on your digital marketing success comparable to any other core marketing.

For a business that has a physical location, or many company premises to optimize for, the value of dominating your local online space cannot be overstated.

The same can be said for companies functioning and servicing within specific geographic areas that are core for company revenue and related success parameters.

There are many misconceptions about local SEO; for example, local SEO is only for small businesses, or that local SEO restricts total visibility online.

It’s important that, when looking to outsource your local SEO, you ensure your expectations of an agency and the deliverables you receive match your local SEO aspirations.

I hope this column will help.

SEO Agency Fundamentals

Whether it is local SEO deliverables or enterprise-level SEO services, any established and effective search marketing agency will provide the fundamentals expected as specialists in their field.

Typically, this would include:

  • A clear set of objectives unique to your immediate, medium, and longer-term requirements.
  • An action plan that reinforces what the priorities are and when key milestones will occur.
  • Access to data and the building of a larger data ecosystem for insights and action-taking.
  • Agreed and consistent ways to communicate, report on progress, and reinforce what is being delivered for your investment.
  • Iterative improvement from the ongoing application of expertise and evidence-led decision-making.
  • Direct access to key staff working with you to achieve your local SEO goals.
  • Simplified and relevant ongoing support and feedback to enable agility and pivoting of approach to maximize new opportunity and react to changing threats.
  • Proactive and effective customer care enabling collaborative working, or full outsourcing dependent upon client requirements.

There will be other priorities that may be unique to business circumstances and areas of increased perceived value to your current requirements, and these can be added to the above agency fundamental expectations where applicable.

As a tip, one thing to avoid in your expectations is a small set of very specific and localized SEO keywords to focus on.

These will be the five or ten you may look at on your mobile phone every week and curse the competitor who ranks there.

Whilst you may have some keywords more commercially important than others, please do not restrict your focus (and that of any agency you decide to work with) to solely focus on a handful of terms.

Consider the end goal of these terms and what you wish to achieve through local SEO success.

There may be thousands of relevant and highly effective search queries, plus many new and unique ones being discovered every day in your data.

You don’t want to lose sight of these and their potential value by having a blinkered focus on just a few.

If it’s easier to move away from standalone keyword goals, consider the topic rather than the term. This can be far more useful to measure local SEO gains.

Strong Technical Performance

Regardless of your local SEO goals and objectives, every local SEO campaign should factor in the website’s health, user experience, and overall technical ability to perform.

Traditionally within local SEO, this would focus on topics such as:

Add to the above a practical emphasis on:

You may want to factor in broader items historically associated more with bigger entities and brands, as well.

This could include providing easy access to information through the site architecture, and digital simplification to enable the user to get to their endpoint as easily and effectively as possible (including broader conversation rate optimization principles).

Evidence-Driven Content

It is not enough to provide expert industry opinion and localized content on a website with the expectation to dominate local SEO.

Any competitive local SEO campaigns should ideally be fueled with data (evidence backed) content at levels of quality and volume much higher than you may expect for local-orientated SEO campaigns.

The creation of content may be delivered by you in-house or outsourced to a marketing agency. But regardless of the approach to output, the dovetailing of data, local SEO experts, and leveraging of your unique industry insights is paramount.

It is this combined approach that will provide a competitive advantage, and enable you to consistently create the best of breed content, that has true standalone value both within the local niche and for broader brand and authority building.

From an agency, you should expect them to lead the local SEO content strategy and approach, providing ongoing recommendations using all available and relevant data sets to justify the; priority, focus, purpose, and ongoing impact of content being generated.

You would expect content to be created to leverage the value and metric success of existing content you have on your website.

You would also expect a consistent focus on new opportunities to ideate and implement new content reflecting the new data sets, and changing needs of your core business audience.

As with any comprehensive content strategy led by SEO, you would want to cover a range of user intent, focus on the actual value provided, and look throughout the spectrum of the information seeking and buying cycle.

Whilst this would be skewed towards local SEO, that does not restrict the impact.

Pertinent topic areas important to the business will likely have wider appeal and opportunity to grow site trust, backlinks, and perceived relevancy beyond the local demographic.

Local Authority And Trust Building

Local authority building is a mainstay within local SEO and a necessity for gaining ground within your online niche.

There are a number of consistent threads to this including:

  • Local brand building with PR and local media publications.
  • Business entity and relevant local and regional directory sites.
  • Links and mentions of the brand, company, and key staff in community and business forums.
  • Supporting local events, and sharing of expertise (and often resource, charity support, etc.).
  • Content promotion and placement (both local content and topical business products/services content).

Outside of the citation and link aspect of authority building is the deeper expertise, authority, and wider trust signal gains.

This includes in no small part the management, optimization, and ongoing growth of reviews and engagement through Google Business Profiles (for every business location), formerly Google My Business.

This includes (but is not limited to) search and maps optimization, profile completeness, promotion of content, and answering questions from your audience.

The more proactive you are with generating positive reviews as part of your combined business and agency focus (including targeted location-specific reviews), the faster you will see gains in your perceived online authority and local SEO results.

This needs to be through Google Business Profiles, Bing Places, and other established and trusted third-party review sites.

Content And Social Media

You need to look at how you and your agency can enable your website and brand to become truly embedded within the local community.

For some sites and brands, this may be many local communities, spanning a number of geographically dispersed regions, whilst for others, it may be a single location and a number of miles surrounding it.

Either way, the ability to enhance your website community focus through audience-aware content hubs, free community resources, and tools, and ideally local user-generated content, the better.

This will naturally tie into social media interaction, engagement, and promotion, as well as social listening and audience building, by a genuine understanding of their wants, needs, plus pain points.

And more importantly how your people/experts/staff, brand, and products/services can positively impact them.

In Summary

Businesses will have an array of bespoke requirements for their local SEO and the deliverables expected from an agency.

Some of these will be based on filters applied tied to previous experiences, and often lessons learned.

There are, however, a number of key standard expectations which you should always consider, as outlined above.

More resources: 


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Google Quietly Ends Covid-Era Rich Results

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Google Quietly Ends Covid-Era Rich Results

Google removed the Covid-era structured data associated with the Home Activities rich results that allowed online events to be surfaced in search since August 2020, publishing a mention of the removal in the search documentation changelog.

Home Activities Rich Results

The structured data for the Home Activities rich results allowed providers of online livestreams, pre-recorded events and online events to be findable in Google Search.

The original documentation has been completely removed from the Google Search Central webpages and now redirects to a changelog notation that explains that the Home Activity rich results is no longer available for display.

The original purpose was to allow people to discover things to do from home while in quarantine, particularly online classes and events. Google’s rich results surfaced details of how to watch, description of the activities and registration information.

Providers of online events were required to use Event or Video structured data. Publishers and businesses who have this kind of structured data should be aware that this kind of rich result is no longer surfaced but it’s not necessary to remove the structured data if it’s a burden, it’s not going to hurt anything to publish structured data that isn’t used for rich results.

The changelog for Google’s official documentation explains:

“Removing home activity documentation
What: Removed documentation on home activity structured data.

Why: The home activity feature no longer appears in Google Search results.”

Read more about Google’s Home Activities rich results:

Google Announces Home Activities Rich Results

Read the Wayback Machine’s archive of Google’s original announcement from 2020:

Home activities

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Google’s Gary Illyes: Lastmod Signal Is Binary

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Google's Gary Illyes: Lastmod Signal Is Binary

In a recent LinkedIn discussion, Gary Illyes, Analyst at Google, revealed that the search engine takes a binary approach when assessing a website’s lastmod signal from sitemaps.

The revelation came as Illyes encouraged website owners to upgrade to WordPress 6.5, which now natively supports the lastmod element in sitemaps.

When Mark Williams-Cook asked if Google has a “reputation system” to gauge how much to trust a site’s reported lastmod dates, Illyes stated, “It’s binary: we either trust it or we don’t.”

No Shades Of Gray For Lastmod

The lastmod tag indicates the date of the most recent significant update to a webpage, helping search engines prioritize crawling and indexing.

Illyes’ response suggests Google doesn’t factor in a website’s history or gradually build trust in the lastmod values being reported.

Google either accepts the lastmod dates provided in a site’s sitemap as accurate, or it disregards them.

This binary approach reinforces the need to implement the lastmod tag correctly and only specify dates when making meaningful changes.

Illyes commends the WordPress developer community for their work on version 6.5, which automatically populates the lastmod field without extra configuration.

Accurate Lastmod Essential For Crawl Prioritization

While convenient for WordPress users, the native lastmod support is only beneficial if Google trusts you’re using it correctly.

Inaccurate lastmod tags could lead to Google ignoring the signal when scheduling crawls.

With Illyes confirming Google’s stance, it shows there’s no room for error when using this tag.

Why SEJ Cares

Understanding how Google acts on lastmod can help ensure Google displays new publish dates in search results when you update your content.

It’s an all-or-nothing situation – if the dates are deemed untrustworthy, the signal could be disregarded sitewide.

With the information revealed by Illyes, you can ensure your implementation follows best practices to the letter.


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How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs Evolve

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How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs Evolve

There’s one thing standing between you and several days of SEO, socializing, and Singaporean sunshine: your boss (and their Q4 budget 😅).

But don’t worry—we’ve got your back. Here are 5 arguments (and an example message) you can use to persuade your boss to send you to Ahrefs Evolve.

About Ahrefs Evolve

  • 2 days in sunny Singapore (Oct 24–25)
  • 500 digital marketing enthusiasts
  • 18 top speakers from around the world

Learn more and buy tickets.

SEO is changing at a breakneck pace. Between AI Overviews, Google’s rolling update schedule, their huge API leak, and all the documents released during their antitrust trial, it’s hard to keep up. What works in SEO today?

You could watch a YouTube video or two, maybe even attend an hour-long webinar. Or, much more effective: you could spend two full days learning from a panel of 18 international SEO experts, discussing your takeaways live with other attendees.

How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to AhrefsHow to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs
Evolve speakers from around the world.

Our world-class speakers are tackling the hardest problems and best opportunities in SEO today. The talk agenda covers topics like:

  • Responding to AI Overviews: Amanda King will teach you how to respond to AI Overviews, Google Gemini, and other AI search functions.
  • Surviving (and thriving) Google’s algo updates: Lily Ray will talk through Google’s recent updates, and share data-driven recommendations for what’s working in search today.
  • Planning for the future of SEO: Bernard Huang will talk through the failures of AI content and the path to better results.

(And attendees will get video recordings of each session, so you can share the knowledge with your teammates too.)

View the full talk agenda here.

There’s no substitute for meeting with influencers, peers, and partners in real life. 

Conferences create serendipity: chance encounters and conversations that can have a huge positive impact on you and your business. By way of example, these are some of the real benefits that have come my way from attending conferences:

  • Conversations that lead to new customers for our business,
  • Invitations to speak at events,
  • New business partnerships and co-marketing opportunities, and
  • Meeting people that we went on to hire.

There’s a “halo” effect that lingers long after the event is over: the people you meet will remember you for longer, think more highly of you, and be more likely to help you out, should you ask.

(And let’s not forget: there’s a lot of information, particularly in SEO, that only gets shared in person.)

The “international” part of Evolve matters too. Evolve is a different crowd to your local run-of-the-mill conference. It’s a chance to meet with people from markets you wouldn’t normally meet—from Australia to Indonesia and beyond.

How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to AhrefsHow to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs
Evolve attendees by home country.

If you’re an Ahrefs customer (thank you!), you’ll learn tons of tips, tricks and workflow improvements from attending Evolve. You’ll have opportunities to:

  • Attend talks from the Ahrefs team, showcasing advanced features and strategies that you can use in your own business.
  • Pick our brains at the Ahrefs booth, where we’ll offer informal 1:1 coaching sessions and previews of up-coming releases (like our new content optimization tool 🤫).
  • Join dedicated Ahrefs training workshops, hosted by the Ahrefs team and Ahrefs power users (tickets for these workshops will sold separately).

As a manager myself, there are two questions I need answered when approving expenses:

  • Is this a reasonable cost?
  • Will we see a return on this investment?

To answer those questions: early bird tickets for Evolve start at $570. For context, “super early bird” tickets for MozCon (another popular SEO conference) this year were almost twice as much: $999.

There’s a lot included in the ticket price too:

  • World-class international speakers,
  • 5-star hotel venue,
  • 5-star hotel food (two tea breaks with snacks & lunch),
  • Networking afterparty, and
  • Full talk recordings to later share with your team.

SEO is a crucial growth channel for most businesses. If you can improve your company’s SEO performance after attending Evolve (and we think you will), you’ll very easily see a positive return on the investment.

Traveling to tropical Singapore (and eating tons of satay) is great for you, but it’s also great for your team. Attending Evolve is a chance to break with routine, reignite your passion for marketing, and come back to your job reinvigorated.

This would be true for any international conference, but it goes double for Singapore. It’s a truly unique place: an ultra-safe, high-tech city that brings together dozens of different cultures.

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Little India in Singapore

You’ll discover different beliefs, working practices, and ways of business—and if you’re anything like me, come back a richer, wiser person for the experience.

If you’re nervous about pitching your boss on attending Evolve, remember: the worst that can happen is a polite “not this time”, and you’ll find yourself in the same position you are now.

So here goes: take this message template, tweak it to your liking, and send it to your boss over email or Slack… and I’ll see you in Singapore 😉

Email template

Hi [your boss’ name],

Our SEO tool provider, Ahrefs, is holding an SEO and digital marketing conference in Singapore in October. I’d like to attend, and I think it’s in the company’s interest:

  • The talks will help us respond to all the changes happening in SEO today. I’m particularly interested in the talks about AI and recent Google updates. 
  • I can network with my peers. I can discover what’s working at other companies, and explore opportunities for partnerships and co-marketing.
  • I can learn how we can use Ahrefs better across the organization.
  • I’ll come back reinvigorated with new ideas and motivation, and I can share my top takeaways and talk recordings with my team after the event.

Early bird tickets are $570. Given how important SEO is to the growth of our business, I think we’ll easily see a return from the spend.

Can we set up time to chat in more detail? Thanks!

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