SEO

More people are relying on Search Engines to find local businesses[Study]

PEW Internet, one of the world’s leading research and survey companies, recently published its findings regarding how adults over the age of 18 find local businesses in today’s economy. The study involved 1087 adults, and each was asked about their online and offline search habits relating to seeking out local businesses, as well as which method they were most likely to use.

60% of respondents claimed that they do use the internet to seek out information on local businesses, not including bars and restaurants. Of these respondents, 47% claimed that the internet was the the search method they used the most. These findings claimed that 36% of respondents relied on search engines, while 16% relied on specialty websites. Only 1% of respondents claimed to rely heavily on social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.

The survey also states that respondents who did not rely mainly on internet searches used methods which included newspapers, recommendations from family and friends, as well as local television and radio broadcasts. The statistics for these individuals were as follows: 31% used newspapers, 22% used recommendations, 8% used television and 5% used radio.

When it comes to searching for restaurants and bars, the percentage points for online searches increase slightly. Of these respondents, 51% relied heavily on the internet for information on local eateries and clubs. 38% claimed that search engines were their main source of information, while 16% used specialty websites and 3% used social media. 5% of respondents searching for bars and restaurants using newspapers claimed to use the online version most often.

What is important to remember when analyzing these numbers is that respondents were offered the option to fill in more than one answer for a question, meaning some people who gave an answer of “search engine” may have also answered “social media.” This survey also states that respondents most likely to use the internet for searches tended to be young adults and females, as well as tech-savvy urban residents.

For online marketers, this information is invaluable. Whether you’re marketing a local business or a national business on a local scale, you need to take advantage of online opportunities that can get your clients’ businesses in front of potential consumers. This means adding accurate information about your clients to sites and directory services such as Google Places, City Search, Yelp, online phonebooks and more. This information needs to be static across all online business directories in order to not only help customers find the business you’re promoting, but also to assist in building a brand.

As a marketer, you also need to recognize the potential that this data has for PPC campaigns. By developing branded keywords for your clients, you will be able to use services such as Google AdWords to help drive local traffic to your client’s local business. Keep in mind that you may end up having to bid on hot keywords, but if you’re able to get them, they should be able to provide plenty of marketing exposure and potential business for you.

Explanation of how do Search Engines Work?

If you are getting ready to embark on your Internet Marketing journey you must know how the search engines work!

1. Crawler-Based Search Engines

The big 3 search engines, (Google, Yahoo, & MSN) are known as crawler-based search engines. Crawler-based search engines have three major elements. First is the spider, also called the crawler. The spider visits a web page, reads it, and then follows links to other pages within the site. This is what it means when someone refers to a site being “spidered” or “crawled.” The spider returns to the site on a regular basis, such as every month or two, to look for changes.

How do search engines work with the spiders? Everything the spider finds goes into the second part of the search engine, the index. The index  is like a giant book containing a copy of every web page that the spider finds. If a web page changes, then this index is updated with new information.

Search engine software is the third part of a search engine. This is the program (also known as the ranking algorithm) that sifts through the millions of pages recorded in the index to find matches to a search and rank them in order of what it believes is most relevant.

2. Search Engine Ranking Algorithms

All crawler-based search engines use a ranking algorithm to rank sites for any given keyword. The ranking algorithms of the major search engines can consist of hundreds of factors. However, for purposes of simplicity, rankings algorithms consist of two critical components: 1) Document Analysis and 2) Link Analysis.

In document analysis, search engines look at whether the search terms are found in important areas of the document – title tag, meta tags, heading tags, and in the body of the text.

In link analysis, search engines not only measure the number of links pointing to a site or page, but the importance of the site or page that provides the link.

The most well-known system for ranking sites based on link analysis is “PageRank”, which was developed by Google. As described by Google: PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important.”

Google’s toolbar (available here) includes an icon that shows a PageRank value from 0-10.

3. How do search engines work: PPC vs. SEO

It is important to know the difference between Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). PPC is a form of Internet advertising where advertisers only pay when a user actually clicks on their ad. With search engines, advertisers typically bid on keyword phrases relevant to their target market. When a user types a keyword matching an advertiser’s keyword list, the advertisements get displayed. Such advertisements are called sponsored ads, and they usually appear to the top and right of the “natural” or organic results on search engines (as depicted in the graphic below).

 

PPC advertising can be very expensive as target keywords cost in the upwards of a few dollars per click. This can really add up especially for keywords that receive thousands of clicks per day. Most small to medium sized companies hire SEO experts so they can boost their site’s “natural” or organic rankings, especially because their is no “per click” cost associated with organic rankings. Generally speaking, small to medium sized companies try to avoid PPC advertising, because it’s extremely expensive. This creates an even greater need for SEO services.

The most popular PPC advertising programs include: Google AdwordsYahoo Sponsored Search, and MSN adCenter. Other PPC programs include Ask Jeeves Sponsored Listings,ABCSearchMIVA, and SearchFeed. And this our explanation on How do search engines work?

[Local SEO] 5 Tips to boost your Local Rankings

No matter what your business size is you can benefit from a Local Listing on Google, Yahoo, and Bing. There are several factors that can not only boost your web presence but can help get your phone ringing and orders coming in more often.Local searches such as “Elderly Caregiver in Maryland” Or “Dog walker Manassas” can be found via the local maps section with a few edits to their local listing profiles. Try these out and watch your listings improve.
Tips to boost your local rankings
  1. Spread yourself like the plague- Making sure your address is on your website. If you own any other websites for your business make sure you include your main location on each website. Don’t forget if you have multiple business locations that you setup your local listings for those as well.
  2. Join your [Online] Community- Websites that relate to your business or your location that have forums or directories are great to list your business on. The search engines take into account your importance in your area by the mentions you receive on these websites.
  3. Don’t pass on the smaller guys- Yes Google does have a huge share of monthly searchers. However don’t forget the smaller players. There are still a large percentage of people using Yahoo and Bing search features. Don’t let your competition grab the searchers you might be missing.
  4. Encourage the happy customers-to leave reviews! There is no hiding the fact that your customers love your product and services than by showing the world. Just like links are votes for your websites reviews are visible votes. Having a few positive reviews will help the potential buy make their decision.
  5. Update your Whois- Many experts believe that having the most up to date contact information can help your local listings. Are your online properties matching? Making sure you have matching Local Listings and Whois information will help you grow in the rankings.
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