SEO Lunch ‘n Learn — a heads up on what’s new with Google search

Thanks to Mark Bossert from Top Local Rankings, attendees of Central Park Business Centre’s May Lunch ‘n Learn gained insight on what’s to be expected for companies wanting to get higher rankings with Google.

For those who didn’t know already, Google is constantly updating its search algorithm, making it more and more difficult to stay on top of the search results.  The idea is to eliminate irrelevancy while allowing value-added, quality sites to come up higher in the ranking for a given keyword.  As was learned from our guest speaker and local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expert, there are now over 200 points of criteria that will earn you favour in the Googlebot’s eyes.  Most of these items have to do with location, business name and videos.

In short, getting listed on search engines involves 3 easy starting points: A Google Places account, citation listings and video.  Sound easy?  Well it’s not.  Those are only the basics to get you started, and will prove a test to see if you’re up for the long hours of work involved in SEO…or if you need to hire someone to do it for you. Let’s review these 3 key basics.

Google Places

You might be surprised to find out that your business is already showing on the Google Map.  That’s because Google is so smart it has already found ways to locate businesses and include them in their results.  But that doesn’t mean you get phone calls.  In order for that to happen you need to:

  • Claim your listing and verify it (you’ll need a Google Account to do this)
  • Fill out your listing completely with:
    • Categories
    • Photos
    • Videos
    • Hours
    • Payment Accepted
  • Then add reviews by having your valued customers write testimonials for you!

There is a whole other search algorithm for the Google Places listings alone, and that’s what Mark and Top Local Rankings specializes in: “local search.”  For video training on how to get your company showing well where the Google Map is concerned, visit toplocalrankings.com or Google’s own step by step guide here: http://google.com/support/places/bin/static.py?page=guide.cs&guide=28247&topic=28248

Citation Listings

These are directory listings that include a lot more information than just your Web site.  Think of them as extended links.  Now your link is supported with your business name, phone number, address and, in some cases, even photos, videos and other elements that enrich the link.

Be sure to fill out everything you can on places such as:

  • YellowPages.ca (a huge provider of local information for many sites such as local.Yahoo.ca.)
  • Shop In Canada (a business directory)
  • Yelp (restaurant reviews, doctors, clubs, salons, and more)
  • City Direct.info (another business directory)
  • CanPages (another Yellow Pages)
  • ZipLocal (Click on ‘add a listing’ at the bottom of the page)
  • HotFrog (a Canadian business directory)

Videos

As Mark’s slideshow told us, people love videos.  It’s true!  There is more video uploaded to YouTube in 2 weeks than what all 3 U.S. TV networks were able to make in 50 years.  That amounts to 30 billion videos a month!

With that said, it will become harder and harder to rank on Google without video – both on and off your site.  For those camera shy readers who just pondered how bad it could possibly be to go out of business and live under a rock for the rest of your life, don’t worry, it’s not that scary!

Here are some easy secrets to creating a video:

  • Use your photos to make a slide show video. Upload to Animoto.com and it’s as easy as snap, crackle, pop!  Music included!
  • Tell a story. That’s how people learn.  Create the story line in advance to get it good the first time.
  • Concentrate on audio – it’s more important than you think.  Your picture might not be that great, but your audio will save you, just like it saved the Blair Witch Project.

Lesson learned here? As Mark says, “it may seem hokey at first, but get over yourself, practice and make more!”  He also adds, “You will get better and your traffic will grow steadily.”

Whatever you do, make sure you distribute your video, so it can be seen, shared and ranked. Go farther than YouTube by uploading to these other video hosting sites:

  • Veoh.com
  • DailyMotion.com
  • Vidilife.com
  • Videosift.com
  • En.sevenload.com
  • Metacafe.com
  • Vimeo.com

Now that we’ve covered the 3 basics to SEO, there is one final note that can’t be forgotten – your website!  Yes, you can get traffic roaring into your home page, but if it has no call to action and doesn’t look all that inviting, you might not get the results you expected.  So make sure that while you’re covering the basics, you’re also covering the ground work with a good quality landing page.  The best way to do this and help your SEO at the same time would be to have your site built entirely into WordPress, an easy-to-use and low-cost website design software.

So there we have it.  Those are the hot tips from Top Local Rankings. If it still feels overwhelming, give Mark a call:  778-385-0098 or visit his site at www.toplocalrankings.com. He would be delighted to assist if you find you just don’t have the time to take on your own SEO program.

Attendees were treated with having their specific questions answered which helped them to decide on appropriate steps to take for their business. Mark was most generous with  offering his advice.

Catch photos of the event on our Flickr stream here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/centralparkbusinesscentre/sets/72157624156378484/

Or, see below!

[flickrslideshow acct_name=”centralparkbusinesscentre” id=”72157624156378484″]

Watch for an invitation to next month’s session on June 18, with the author of The Jalapeño Handshake, Lydia Johnson.  Visit http://www.thejalapenohandshake.com/ and http://www.lydiajohnson.ca/ to learn more and get a sneak preview!