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How to get started with local SEO

Local SEO proved to be one of the biggest trends throughout 2016 and 2017, and is expected to continue doing so throughout 2018.

Businesses that have been able to optimize their on-page and off-page SEO strategies are already reaping the supreme benefits of local SEO. For others, there are undeniable opportunities to begin their local SEO journeys.

Google suggests that 80% users conduct online searches for local businesses, while 50% of users who do a local search on mobile for a business visit its store within a day. Yet businesses continue to miss the opportunities that local SEO provides.

Don’t be that business. Instead, use the tips and tricks mentioned in this guide to get started with local SEO.

Claim your Google My Business page and optimize it

Google+ might have mostly fizzled out, but Google My Business continues to be a cornerstone for implementing local SEO. If you’ve not claimed a Google My Business listing for your business yet, this is the time to do so. The chances of your business featuring on the front page in a local relevant search improve manifold purely by having a well optimized and filled out My Business Listing.

Go to, start the registration and verification process, and wait for Google to send you a postcard to your physical store location.

Make sure you understand that Google only allows real business owners to have their My Business pages; so you need to work out an arrangement with your digital marketing consultants so that you continue to own the My Business listing even if they depart.

Your business name, address, and phone number (abbreviated as NAP) must match what you have been using for digital marketing till now. Also, lay special emphasis on selecting categories, business hours, types of payment accepted, etc.

Then, have top quality photographs of the office front and insides uploaded on to the profile. Digital businesses without a location can hide the address to still be able to claim their My Business listing.

Here’s what a well maintained and optimized Google My Business profile could look like on a search page.

Understand and master the art of citations

Here’s it, put simply – every mention of your business online is a citation. More citations are good for your business’ local SEO. How does Google consider a mention as a citation? Well, your business NAP has to be mentioned for it to be counted as a citation.

Too many businesses have already lost several months of efforts in getting themselves mentioned online, purely because of inconsistent NAP. Though increasingly there’s consensus among digital marketers that Google actually triangulates data and identifies slightly different business names as belonging to the same business using NAP, we’d recommend you play it safe.

Keep on optimizing your website for mobile

Though this is something every website owner must do, local business website owners need to speed up their game particularly well. That’s because a majority of local searches are done on mobile devices, and are intent-backed.

Responsive layouts, intuitive user experience and interface design, etc. are the basics; you need to step past them! Google’s Mobile Friendly testing tool is a great starting point. I did a test on a post I was reading recently, and was impressed with the tool’s validation.

Add business directories to your to do lists

Apart from giving you a valuable citation online, business directory pages for your business also garner more visibility for your business. Here are some action points for you.

  • Start with the most notable business review directory websites such as Yelp and CitySearch
  • Next, use this list of business directories and create your business profiles on each (target at least 7 complete profiles per week)
  • Look for niche specific business directories and create your profiles there
  • Look for local business community websites, and grab your listing there
  • Check if the state government has a Chamber of Commerce or equivalent website, and look for a way to get a mention there
  • Use the services of citation aggregators like Infogroup, Acxiom, and Factual
  • Look for an opportunity for a citation via local newspaper websites
  • Of course, remember to get your NAP spot on every time.

‘Localize’ your website’s content

You can do a lot to help search engines understand your business’ local appeal by optimizing your website for the same. Local content, for instance, can help search engines contextualize your website’s niche to its local service. Then, you could include an interactive map widget to further enhance the local SEO appeal of your website.

Also, consider creating a separate local news section on your website, wherein you could post content about niche-related local events. This will serve you well in terms of allowing the usage of local SEO relevant keywords.

Businesses such as restaurants, lawyer services, house repairs and interior décor, etc. have a lot to gain by using these basic tactics.

Be very hungry for online reviews

A Moz report attributes 8.4% of ranking value to online reviews. It doesn’t sound much, but considering how 88% users depend on online reviews to form opinions on quality of businesses, brands, and products, the eventual impact of reviews is significant.

Google My Business reviews are the primary source of SEO juice; you need at least 5 reviews for Google to start showing your reviews. Facebook Business reviews must be the next on your radar, because of the trust they inspire among online users.

There are several other review websites you need to take care of, to maximize the local SEO benefit from the same. To get more reviews, try out these tactics:

  • Motivate store managers and field sales personnel to get reviews from customers on handy mobile devices, asking them log in to, for instance, Zomato or Yelp, and doing it on the spot (consider giving them a little discount for the same)
  • Use email marketing, with a single link that takes users to the reviews page
  • Consider using a social listening tool such as HootSuite to be alerted of your business and brand mentions, which you can transform into reviews
  • It’s worthwhile seeking services of online reputation management agencies for this.

Invest effort in local SEO relevant rich schema

Schema markup can be added to your website’s code to enhance its readability for search engines. There are several scheme markup tags that specifically focus on local attributes of your website.

Local schema markup tags assists local SEO in two ways:

  • First, it allows search engines to understand your business’ local relevance
  • Second, it means search engines can show your business page result along with rich snippet info such as phone number, address, business working hours, ratings, reviews, etc.

Here’s an example of how web results with local SEO schema markup appear on SERPs.

Local schema markup is beyond the scope of this guide, but here’s a good tutorial from Schema App.

Don’t forget to run your website through Google Structured Data Testing Tool to understand if the schema markup is done correctly.

Concluding remarks

As you read this, there are hundreds of potential customers searching for businesses in your neighborhood. Your website could be staring at them through their desktops and mobile phones, as soon as you get started on local SEO with the tips, tricks, tools, and methods described in this guide.

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Instagram is supposedly testing a feature that tells you when someone's recorded your story


Did you really think Instagram was going to stop copying Snapchat features in 2018? 

Now, Instagram is reportedly testing a new feature — one that Snapchat already has — that notifies users when someone’s taken a screenshot or screen recording of your stories.

SEE ALSO: Instagram just added a powerful new way to stalk people on the app

Tech news site WABetaInfo claims that Instagram is testing the feature, but only internally. The website previously reported on Instagram testing a new word-focused tool called “Text” that can be used in the app’s stories feature. 

According to WABetaInfo, users will see a special icon next to a person’s name if they take a screenshot or recording of your story. Read more…

More about Facebook, Instagram, Social Media, Screenshot, and Stalking

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One of Silicon Valley's most powerful CEOs compares Facebook to cigarettes


Facebook should be treated like other companies that make addictive, and potentially harmful, products.

That’s according to Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, one of Silicon Valley’s most influential leaders, who says it’s times for the government to step in and regulate social networks just as it does cigarettes. 

SEE ALSO: Facebook admits that, yea, maybe it’s not great for democracy

Speaking to CNBC from Davos, Switzerland, the Salesforce CEO shared some strong words when it came to the question of Facebook’s influence. 

“I think that you do it exactly the same way that you regulated the cigarette industry,” Benioff said.  Read more…

More about Tech, Facebook, Social Media, Apps And Software, and Salesforce

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How AI can uncover new insights and drive SEO performance

Columnist Jim Yu believes that by incorporating the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning, search marketers can move beyond simple observations and find new patterns in user behavior.

The post How AI can uncover new insights and drive SEO performance appeared first on Search…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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The Brand-Content Preferences of Different Age Groups

Which types of content do consumers of various ages want to see more of from brands? Do some content formats resonate more with certain age groups? Read the full article at MarketingProfs

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Four Agile Practices for More Efficient Content Production

Content creators have a tough gig. Too often, our colleagues view us as short-order content cooks who can whip up content at a moment’s notice. Fortunately, there’s a process designed to protect the content creators of the world. It’s called Agile, and it works beautifully in marketing. Read the full article at MarketingProfs

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The Strange Thing That Happens In Your Brain When You Hear a Good Story — And How to Use It to Your Advantage

In the classic tale, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick, a group of sailors were “zagging” off the coast of South America in 1821 when they came across something ghastly.

They were in a whaling ship named the Dauphin, under the command of a captain named Zimri Coffin. One day on the horizon a small boat popped into view in the middle of the ocean. Here’s an account of what the Dauphin crew saw:

Under Coffin’s watchful eye, the helmsman brought the ship as close as possible to the derelict craft. Even though their momentum quickly swept them past it, the brief seconds during which the ship loomed over the open boat presented a sight that would stay with the crew the rest of their lives …

First they saw bone — human bones — littering the thwarts and floorboards, as if the whaleboat were the seagoing lair of a ferocious man-eating beast.

Then they saw the two men.

They were curled up in opposite ends of the boat, their skin covered with sores, their eyes bulging from the hollows of their skulls, their beards caked with salt and blood. They were sucking the marrow from the bones of their dead shipmates.

Quick! Think about how you read that. How did your actual physical surroundings feel as you pictured the salt-caked beards of the cannibal shipmates? Did someone in the room with you happen to cough while you read this? Do you recall any background noises outside? Any trucks or sirens?

Chances are your brain pulled you fully into the story. Your imagination filled in the scene, and your present circumstances and surroundings faded into the background of your consciousness. This is what Jonathan Gottschall, who shares this anecdote in his wonderful book The Storytelling Animal, calls “the witchery of story.” It’s what our brains have been biologically programmed to do.

We’re hardwired to be pulled into good stories. Think about the last time you watched a movie or read a book and were suddenly snapped back to reality by a loud noise in the room. You hadn’t realized that you’d lost most awareness of your surroundings. You didn’t notice when the line between reality and the story world inside your brain began to fade. That process — which we go through every night while we sleep — is a survival mechanism that helps us do a better job of storing information in our memory.

We also know the areas of your brain that light up when you hear or see a story:

Something surprising happens when information comes from a story rather than just simple facts: More of our brains light up. When we hear a story, the neural activity increases fivefold, like a switchboard has suddenly illuminated the city of our mind.

Scientists have a saying: “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” When more of your brain is at work at a given point of time, the chances that your brain will remember the work it did increases exponentially.

Pretend, for example, you are in high school health class, and your teacher is giving a slideshow presentation. The first slide features a chart filled with stats on how many people die or are ruined every year from drug use. The teacher says, “Drugs are dangerous.”

In this moment, the areas of your brain responsible for language processing and comprehension will be working to absorb this information.

Now say the teacher takes a different approach. She puts up a slide with a photograph of a handsome teenager. “This is Johnny,” she says. “He was a good kid, but he had a lot of family problems that made it hard to be happy some days. He was quiet and got picked on a lot. So he started hanging out with some of the other picked on kids. One day, one of them offered him drugs. He started doing lots of drugs to make himself feel better. Ten years later, he looked like this — ” cut to a photograph of a sickly looking mid-20s young man with missing teeth. And then, the teacher gives the same message as the first: “Drugs are dangerous.”

During this lecture, all sorts of areas of your brain will be active. Areas that help you imagine what Johnny’s life is like. How he feels. How you might feel some of the same things.

Unsurprisingly, the second kind of presentation — the story — is a lot more memorable. Students who see that presentation are going to be more likely to think about Johnny next time someone offers them drugs. No matter what choice they make, they are more likely to remember the message that drugs are dangerous.

Do you see where we’re going? When we get information through stories, we engage more neurons. As a result, the story is wired into our memory much more reliably.

Imagine how this could change your next presentation.

Stories Generate Empathy at the Chemical Level

A few years ago, scientists packed a bunch of people into a movie theater to see exactly how stories work on our brains. They put helmets on the participants’ heads, strapped on monitors to measure their heart rate and breathing, and taped perspiration trackers onto their bodies. The participants looked around nervously, laughed as they made small talk, and fiddled with their helmet straps.

And then a James Bond movie began.

As the movie played, the scientists closely monitored the audience’s physiological reaction. When James Bond found himself in stressful situations — like hanging from a cliff or fighting a bad guy — the audience’s pulses raced. They sweated. Their attention focused.

And something else interesting happened: At the same time, their brains synthesized a neurochemical called oxytocin.

Oxytocin sends us a signal that we should care about someone. In prehistoric times, this was useful for figuring out if a person that was approaching you was safe. Were they a friend, or were they going to club you on the head and steal your woolly mammoth steak? Through oxytocin, our brains helped us identify tribe members whom we should help survive. Because that would help us survive, too.

Our heart rates rise when James Bond is in danger because our brains have decided that he — this familiar character — is part of our tribe. We generate oxytocin when we see him, which makes us empathize with his story when we watch it. And, circularly, the more of his story we experience, the more oxytocin our brain secretes.

That means that we’re not just watching James Bond. We’re putting ourselves in his shoes. At the deepest physiological level, it means that we really care.

Oxytocin levels can actually predict how much empathy people will have for someone else.

Stories Bring Us Together

It’s hard to learn someone’s story and not feel connected to them. The oxytocin we get from stories helps us care, whether we like it or not.

This is basically the premise of the film The Breakfast Club. A group of misfits is forced to come together for detention one Saturday. After sitting miserably for a while — hating each other — they start to share stories about their personal lives, their parents, and, of course, their dreams. Over the course of the movie, they form a bond. When they leave detention and go back to their different worlds, they remain closer than before. They aren’t necessarily going to be best friends, but they now understand and respect one another. You can imagine them standing up for one another against a bully or becoming close friends after high school, when the artificial boundaries of their cliques start to disintegrate.

But even more interesting, we don’t even need to share our own stories to build a relationship with someone. Sharing almost any story makes a difference. In a 2011 research study in New Zealand published in the Journal of Teaching and Teacher Education, researchers put kids from different racial and economic backgrounds together for a series of story time activities. The scientists found that even when the kids weren’t sharing their own stories — when they were simply reading storybooks — they developed empathy for one another. They felt more connected. And as they grew up, they were less racist and classist than other kids.

Storytelling, the researchers concluded, “fostered empathy, compassion, tolerance and respect for difference.”

This is why it makes sense that people still go on dates to the movies. On the surface, a movie is a terrible date. Both people experience the movie separately. It’s a parallel activity that doesn’t involve interacting with your date at all. And yet, it becomes a shared experience. Because your brain is wired to remember experiencing the movie’s story more deeply and vividly than other experiences, that story becomes subconsciously more meaningful to you — even if the movie was bad. And the fact that you and your date experienced the same story together actually brings you closer.

This is another way storytelling played a part in how we survived as a human species. When we were first building civilization, we grouped up in tribes. We had this magnificent brain, but we had to protect it against saber-toothed tigers and poisonous berries and thousands of other things that could kill us at any moment. We had to work together to survive. We had to hunt together, gather food together, make shelter together, and pass on lessons that we learned so that our descendants would survive, too.

But how could we do that, when we didn’t have a written language to record what we’d learned, how we’d survived? The answer, of course, was stories.

Evolutionary biologists say that the human brain developed the ability to tell stories — to imagine them and to dream them — around the same time as our ability to speak. Storytelling was an essential piece of the development and endurance of language.

And so we would gather as tribes at the end of our workday. We would take the wide world of stimuli from our time hunting and gathering and building. And we would package it all into stories — the stories that helped us remember and care.

This is an excerpt from the Amazon #1 New Release, The Storytelling Edge: How to Transform Your Business, Stop Screaming Into the Void, and Make People Love You by Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow. Order it today to take advantage of some awesome pre-order bonuses.

free guide to writing well


free guide to writing well

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Now You See Me: How To Defer, Lazy-Load And Act With IntersectionObserver

Once upon a time, there lived a web developer who successfully convinced his customers that sites should not look the same in all browsers, cared about accessibility, and was an early adopter of CSS grids. But deep down in his heart it was performance that was his true passion: He constantly optimized, minified, monitored, and even employed psychological tricks in his projects.
Then, one day, he learned about lazy-loading images and other assets that are not immediately visible to users and are not essential for rendering meaningful content on the screen.

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Work-Life Balance: Tips From The Community

In order to encourage web professionals to consider some of the key points of their working lives in this still nascent industry, we asked folks on Twitter and Facebook to share their best work-life balance tips that worked really well for them. We received lots of responses: most very sensible, many very insightful, some quite unexpected and a few deliberately tongue-in-cheek.
The most important thing to note when thinking about work-life balance is that it is different for everyone.

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SearchCap: Bing Hotel search ads, AMP rankings & SEO AI

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Bing Hotel search ads, AMP rankings & SEO AI appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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