Natural Search Blog


Check Out New Google Maps Labs Features

Many Google Maps users may have missed the recently added button, allowing users to opt-in to try out some of the Google Maps Labs beta features. The Labs options can be accessed via the new little icon button found in the upper right of the user-interface, if you’re logged-in to your Google account:

Google Maps Labs Icon Button

The new features might also reveal some secrets of Google Maps ranking factors. It’s definitely a space that’s well worth watching for local search marketing experts.

Google Maps Should Consider A Canonical Phone Number Tag

Google Maps, local search engines, internet yellow pages and other online business directories often receive biz listing info from a great many sources and must merge it together (see my description of this in Eric Enge’s interview with me). When this happens, loads of variations in the business’s name, address and even phone number can cause listing data to fail to be merged. All this makes me think we might need a “Canonical Tag” for phone numbers! Read on, and I’ll elaborate… (more…)

10 Practical Actionable SEO Tips To Boost Your Website Visibility

Today’s post covers ten practical actionable SEO techniques that can give your site a major boost and help it achieve better visibility in the major search engines. These observations are made by Whitespark, a SEOmoz member who attended the recent SEOMoz PRO Training series.

These tips are easy to implement and will suit a majority of the businesses on the web. With paid traffic getting more expensive with each passing day (and yet providing only 12% of traffic on the web), it is high time all website owners started ramping up their organic seo efforts. These tips will certainly help in improving a site’s natural search visibility which still accounts for 88% of the traffic on the web.

There are a few proprietary tools (created by SEOMoz) that are mentioned in the post. These tools do a great job of automating the mundane tasks thus saving valuable time and giving great results to help you plan your strategy. You have to be a paid PRO member to access these tools.

(more…)

Microformats Hit Mainstream!

Microformats LogoOver on SEMClubhouse I’ve written up a post on “Why Use Microformats?” which is a mild criticism of Michael Gray’s recent post on “HCards, Microformats and Address Data does it Matter for SEO“. Essentially, Michael suggests people should prioritize implementation of hCard into local info webpages as a lower-priority, back-burner project. I not only believe that Yahoo’s SearchMonkey developer platform and Google’s new Rich Snippets display are proving that the search engines consider the Microformats protocol to be important, but anything presented as a back-burner or rainy-day project for many major corporations pretty much relegates that work to never be done at all.

With the advent of Rich Snippets in SERPs, I think I can safely declare that Microformats have now hit mainstream! (more…)

Key to Relevance: Title Tags

I recently penned an article at Search Engine Land on Leveraging Reverse Search For Local SEO. In it, I describe how in certain exception cases, one may benefit from adding the street address into a business site’s TITLE tag. It’s not the first time that I have mentioned how TITLE tags are key to relevance in Local Search — I’d previously mentioned how critical it is for local businesses to include their category keywords and city names in the TITLE as well.

Yet, a great many sites continue to miss this vital key to relevance, and they wonder why they fail at ranking for their most apropos keywords. Keywords for which they’d otherwise have a very good chance at ranking upon!

Key Relevance: Title Tags
W3C calls the TITLE the “most important element of a quality web page” (more…)

Town Changes Name For Better Google Rankings

This is just too cool to pass up mentioning in local search news: a town in Europe has decided to change it’s name in order to get better rankings in Google!

EUThe town of “Eu” in France has been edged out of search rankings for the term, since other pages about the European Union are ranking higher. According to them, they’re missing out on a lot of tourism because individuals simply cannot find information about them.

I’ve previously blogged in Ultimate Local SEO Tactics a tongue-in-cheek post recommending changing a town’s name for search optimization purposes, but I didn’t think it would actually happen!

Now, I’d say they possibly could save some money/trouble by first hiring some SEOs to try to help them rank for the term. For instance, it might be possible to get the Wikipedia page for Eu to rank on the first page.

In fact, I’ll call for a bit of generous community action here – why don’t all you other local SEO’s out there blog about this city and link to their Wikipedia page as well?  Let’s help that poor town out!

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Decider Enters Local Search

Decider logoHumorous faux-newspaper, The Onion, has launched a new local directory site called Decider in beta. While The Onion is famous for its satirical “news” articles, Decider is a decidedly serious guide intended to complement their other offerings like serious classifieds and the A.V. Club (The Onion’s arts and entertainment site).

Decider brings local business listings for bars, restaurants, music venues, events, and reviews. It appears to be targeted to the college-to-early-thirties demographic, and sports advertisements on the pages.

When I heard about Decider, I immediately though, “oh, yet another business directory site among the many others,” — a thought apparently shared to some degree by Andrew Shotland. (more…)

Australian Yellow Pages Finally Optimizes For Search Engines

Sensis LogoThe Australian edition of Lifehacker reports that Sensis, Telestra’s yellow pages division, has finally allowed bots to crawl their online yellow pages so links to their listings are now showing up in Google SERPs and other search engines. Previously, they were apparently blocking Google and bots by either using robots.txt disallow rules and/or blocking the bots with network access rules.

Australian Sensis Yellow Pages in SERPs
Australian Yellow Pages in Google results (click to enlarge)

Amusingly, Lifehacker mentions, (more…)

Should Businesses Rename Themselves For Better Search Traffic?

Mike Blumenthal has a great article this week, going over some aspects surrounding how businesses may opt to rename themselves for purposes of local search engine optimization within Google Maps.

As he mentioned, I’d previously listed this idea in my somewhat tongue-in-cheek post on “Extreme Local Search Optimization Tactics” some time back.

While my Tactics were intended to be a bit over-the-top, the tactic is indeed likely to work to varying degrees in different search engines and internet yellow pages directories, as Mike outlines. I should note that I only endorse the engineering of business names for purposes of branding and for purposes of targeting business-category/product/service terms for which the company involved is actually providing. (more…)

Travel Searches, Local & More Searches Turning Case-Sensitive in Google SERPs

Some of us at Netconcepts have been noticing that keyword rankings in Google search engine results pages (“SERPs”) have been turning case-sensitive for some queries lately. Search Engine Roundtable highlighted that the case sensitivity issue had been reported for queries seen in the UK, but we’ve been seeing it for queries committed from the US as well.

For instance, search for something like “fossil watches” and compare with “Fossil Watches”, and you’ll see that a few of the listings in the SERPs trade ranking positions:

Google SERPs Case Sensitive - Fossil Watches
(click to enlarge)
(more…)

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