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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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5 Questions Answered About The OpenAI Search Engine

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5 Questions Answered About The OpenAI Search Engine

It was reported that OpenAI is working on a search engine that would directly challenge Google. But details missing from the report raise questions about whether OpenAI is creating a standalone search engine or if there’s another reason for the announcement.

OpenAI Web Search Report

The report published on The Information relates that OpenAI is developing a Web Search product that will directly compete with Google. A key detail of the report is that it will be partly powered by Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. Apart from that there are no other details, including whether it will be a standalone search engine or be integrated within ChatGPT.

All reports note that it will be a direct challenge to Google so let’s start there.

1. Is OpenAI Mounting A Challenge To Google?

OpenAI is said to be using Bing search as part of the rumored search engine, a combination of a GPT-4 with Bing Search, plus something in the middle to coordinate between the two .

In that scenario, what OpenAI is not doing is developing its own search indexing technology, it’s using Bing.

What’s left then for OpenAI to do in order to create a search engine is to devise how the search interface interacts with GPT-4 and Bing.

And that’s a problem that Bing has already solved by using what it Microsoft calls an orchestration layer. Bing Chat uses retrieval-augmented generation (RAG) to improve answers by adding web search data to use as context for the answers that GPT-4 creates. For more information on how orchestration and RAG works watch the keynote at Microsoft Build 2023 event by Kevin Scott, Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft, at the 31:45 minute mark here).

If OpenAI is creating a challenge to Google Search, what exactly is left for OpenAI to do that Microsoft isn’t already doing with Bing Chat? Bing is an experienced and mature search technology, an expertise that OpenAI does not have.

Is OpenAI challenging Google? A more plausible answer is that Bing is challenging Google through OpenAI as a proxy.

2. Does OpenAI Have The Momentum To Challenge Google?

ChatGPT is the fastest growing app of all time, currently with about 180 million users, achieving in two months what took years for Facebook and Twitter.

Yet despite that head start Google’s lead is a steep hill for OpenAI to climb.  Consider that Google has approximately 3 to 4 billion users worldwide, absolutely dwarfing OpenAI’s 180 million.

Assuming that all 180 million OpenAI users performed an average of 4 searches per day, the daily number of searches could reach 720 million searches per day.

Statista estimates that there are 6.3 million searches on Google per minute which equals over 9 billion searches per day.

If OpenAI is to compete they’re going to have to offer a useful product with a compelling reason to use it. For example, Google and Apple have a captive audience on mobile device ecosystem that embeds them into the daily lives of their users, both at work and at home. It’s fairly apparent that it’s not enough to create a search engine to compete.

Realistically, how can OpenAI achieve that level of ubiquity and usefulness?

OpenAI is facing an uphill battle against not just Google but Microsoft and Apple, too. If we count Internet of Things apps and appliances then add Amazon to that list of competitors that already have a presence in billions of users daily lives.

OpenAI does not have the momentum to launch a search engine to compete against Google because it doesn’t have the ecosystem to support integration into users lives.

3. OpenAI Lacks Information Retrieval Expertise

Search is formally referred to as Information Retrieval (IR) in research papers and patents. No amount of searching in the Arxiv.org repository of research papers will surface papers authored by OpenAI researchers related to information retrieval. The same can be said for searching for information retrieval (IR) related patents. OpenAI’s list of research papers also lacks IR related studies.

It’s not that OpenAI is being secretive. OpenAI has a long history of publishing research papers about the technologies they’re developing. The research into IR does not exist. So if OpenAI is indeed planning on launching a challenge to Google, where is the smoke from that fire?

It’s a fair guess that search is not something OpenAI is developing right now. There are no signs that it is even flirting with building a search engine, there’s nothing there.

4. Is The OpenAI Search Engine A Microsoft Project?

There is substantial evidence that Microsoft is furiously researching how to use LLMs as a part of a search engine.

All of the following research papers are classified as belonging to the fields of Information Retrieval (aka search), Artificial Intelligence, and Natural Language Computing.

Here are few research papers just from 2024:

Enhancing human annotation: Leveraging large language models and efficient batch processing
This is about using AI for classifying search queries.

Structured Entity Extraction Using Large Language Models
This research paper discovers a way to extracting structured information from unstructured text (like webpages). It’s like turning a webpage (unstructured data) into a machine understandable format (structured data).

Improving Text Embeddings with Large Language Models (PDF version here)
This research paper discusses a way to get high-quality text embeddings that can be used for information retrieval (IR). Text embeddings is a reference to creating a representation of text in a way that can be used by algorithms to understand the semantic meanings and relationships between the words.

The above research paper explains the use:

“Text embeddings are vector representations of natural language that encode its semantic information. They are widely used in various natural language processing (NLP) tasks, such as information retrieval (IR), question answering…etc. In the field of IR, the first-stage retrieval often relies on text embeddings to efficiently recall a small set of candidate documents from a large-scale corpus using approximate nearest neighbor search techniques.”

There’s more research by Microsoft that relates to search, but these are the ones that are specifically related to search together with large language models (like GPT-4.5).

Following the trail of breadcrumbs leads directly to Microsoft as the technology powering any search engine that OpenAI is supposed to be planning… if that rumor is true.

5. Is Rumor Meant To Steal Spotlight From Gemini?

The rumor that OpenAI is launching a competing search engine was published on February 14th. The next day on February 15th Google announced the launch of Gemini 1.5, after announcing Gemini Advanced on February 8th.

Is it a coincidence that OpenAI’s announcement completely overshadowed the Gemini announcement the next day? The timing is incredible.

At this point the OpenAI search engine is just a rumor.

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Warning: Unpopular SEO writing opinion

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Warning: Unpopular SEO writing opinion

Unpopular opinion alert: Adding new blog posts may not help your site.

(No matter what that content marketing company told you.) 🙄

So many of my new clients — especially subject matter experts — don’t need new content (immediately).

They HAVE content — scads of it scattered across various platforms.

(Maybe that sounds familiar.)

What they DO need is someone to review their content and customer persona, pinpoint opportunities, and develop a baby-step approach to leveraging those older content assets.

Because there are always opportunities. 🔥

Before writing another word, ask…

  • Are you repurposing the content you have? Or are you writing it once and forgetting about it (which is so common)?
  • Is your customer/reader persona still accurate, or has your target audience changed post-COVID?
  • Do your sales pages showcase your benefits and speak to your customers’ pain points? Or are they flat and dull?
  • Does your content sound like YOU with a point of view? Or is there a massive disconnect between how you talk to clients and the words you use on your site?
  • When did you last take a peek at your old sales emails and email welcome sequences? Could updating those assets make you more money?
  • Isn’t it time to save time (and budget) and leverage your existing content?

If you need help untangling your content and messaging, let me know. I love creating content order out of chaos.

After all…

 

Warning Unpopular SEO writing opinion

 

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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Google Bans Impersonation In Ads

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Google Bans Impersonation In Ads

Google bans impersonation and false affiliation in ads, enforcing policy changes in March.

  • Google bans impersonation and false affiliation in ads.
  • Policy enforcement starts in March.
  • Violators will be banned from Google Ads.

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