Susan Kelly – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Thu, 29 Dec 2016 09:04:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 6 Ways Google Webmaster Tools Can Improve Your SEO Strategy /6-ways-google-webmaster-tools-can-improve-your-seo-strategy-175876 /6-ways-google-webmaster-tools-can-improve-your-seo-strategy-175876#comments Mon, 25 Nov 2013 14:00:18 +0000 http:/?p=175876 Most search experts rely on Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) to analyze the technical aspects of a website. These experts focus on data like crawl stats, page errors and rich snippets. In addition to technical analysis, I recommend using GWT for basic on-page SEO improvements. Here are 6 easy ways to use Webmaster Tools to improve […]

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Most search experts rely on Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) to analyze the technical aspects of a website. These experts focus on data like crawl stats, page errors and rich snippets.

In addition to technical analysis, I recommend using GWT for basic on-page SEO improvements. Here are 6 easy ways to use Webmaster Tools to improve your on-page SEO.

1. HTML Improvements

Under Search Appearance, you will find HTML Improvements. This report provides a snapshot of any issues with your site’s meta descriptions and title tags, along with a record of any content that isn’t indexable.

HTML Improvements

In the SEO world, we know that it’s important to have unique meta descriptions and optimized title tags. This report allows you to easily identify title tag/meta description issues and prioritize your efforts.

For example, in the screenshot above, you can see that 634 pages have a duplicate title tag. If I were to click on the “Duplicate title tags” link, I’d be taken to a screen listing all 634 pages, giving me a quick and easy way to identify page titles that need to be updated.

2. Content Keywords

Under Google Index, you’ll find Content Keywords. This tool allows you to determine not what you think your site is about, but how Google sees it.

It shows the keywords that are used on your site, along with keyword variations and significance. These data help you quickly determine if you need more content created around certain keywords, themes and topics. It also shows which pages the keywords appear on. Very helpful! (See the examples below; keywords were shaded out due to confidentiality.)

Content KWs

3. Structured Data

Structured data is a helpful way to explain the content of your website to the search engines — which can, in some cases, can help with rankings and traffic. If you have structured data on your site, GWT has a feature that shows the type of structured data that Google was able to detect on your site, along with the URLs containing each type. You can find this report under Search Appearance > Structured Data.

Structured Data

Note: This tool includes only the top-level entities discovered on a page. For example, if your page contains a schema.org/Event that in turn contains a schema.org/Place, only the Event item will be counted.

4. Data Markup Helper

Under Other Resources, the Structured Data Markup Helper allows you to tag the data fields for events, products and more on your site.

If you aren’t sure where to begin with structured markup, this is an easy to use point-and-click tool. The nice part about this is that HTML changes are not required. Your mouse highlights and tags each key piece of data on the appropriate page of your website.

Data Markup Helper

5. Sitemaps

The Sitemaps section allows you to view all the sitemaps that you’ve added (or Google found) along with statistics such as the last date it was processed and the number of pages submitted and indexed.  These stats can be viewed by content-type, meaning Web, video, images and news.

Another great feature is the sitemap test option; you provide the URL of a sitemap, and Google scans it, quickly detecting any errors that need to be fixed.

6. Removing URLs

If you need to remove a URL from Google’s index, you can use the Remove URLs feature in Webmaster Tools. This can be a very powerful tool, but use with caution! Only use this tool if you want to permanently remove a URL (as opposed to redirecting it).

Google gives a great example in their help section — if you have accidentally displayed confidential information such as a credit card number and you need to have a page removed, you can request expedited removal of the URLs. You will find this tool under “Google Index” in the left-hand navigation.

Webmaster Tools For Fast, Easy On-Page SEO Fixes

I find that these tools help me prioritize SEO improvement efforts and reduce analysis time. But these six features just scratch the surface of what Google Webmaster Tools has to offer. I encourage you to explore the ways in which GWT can help you implement an effective on-page SEO program.

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Top Ways B2B Marketers Can Best Utilize Rich Snippets /top-ways-b2b-marketers-can-best-utilize-rich-snippets-139160 /top-ways-b2b-marketers-can-best-utilize-rich-snippets-139160#comments Wed, 21 Nov 2012 16:29:44 +0000 http:/?p=139160 There has been a lot of discussion in the SEO world lately around structured data and rich snippets in the SERPs. If you are not familiar with structured data, it is basically a way to explain the content of your website to the search engines in a trusted (structured) format. You can think back to […]

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There has been a lot of discussion in the SEO world lately around structured data and rich snippets in the SERPs. If you are not familiar with structured data, it is basically a way to explain the content of your website to the search engines in a trusted (structured) format. You can think back to the good-old-days when all you had to do was update your META tags… until this was abused so much that Google stopped using them.

What Is Structured Data & Why Should You Use It?

Although Google doesn’t currently use structured markup data for ranking purposes, there are several benefits from an SEO standpoint. By adding content in structured search verticals, this helps the search engine data feeds match the content on the page and return optimal results in the SERPs.

In addition, when the appearance of your listing is clear to the user, it stands out, and this in turn, should help improve response rate. According to Yoast, some sites see a 20% to 30% uplift in rankings, when using rich snippets because more people click on those results.

Now that you know what structured data is and why it’s important to utilize, let’s talk about ways B2B search marketers should use it.

Rich Snippet Examples

Rich snippets have really taken off with B2C (consumer-oriented) companies. We’ve all seen restaurant reviews, recipes and music events listed with rich snippets in the SERPs. Snippet information appears as extra lines of text in the listing. Rich snippets may include anything from a rating to song lyrics, to phone numbers and reviews.

Here are a few examples from B2C sites.

 

 

But, let’s not leave B2B marketers behind. Rich snippets can be very impactful for business marketers. Here are four steps to get you started.

Step 1. Market Research

Always start with market research to get the best results.

  • Decide what is right for you
  • Look at competitors — what are they doing?
  • Take a look in your vertical to see what markup types are generating rich snippets
  • Look to meet the following criteria:
    • Lifts you above the pack
    • Better description of what your page offers
    • Biggest bang for the buck

Step 2. Determine The Most Impactful Rich Snippet For Your Firm

As shown above, rich snippets can make your products or services stand out in the SERPs. Below is a list of some of the most common Rich Snippet formats that might apply to B2B companies.

  • Videos — include an image of the video, name, duration
  • Person – phone numbers and photos
  • Businesses and Organizations – location, review
  • Products – ratings, price, pictures
  • Authors – this is a great way to link to articles and showcase a thought leader in your company
  • Events – date, time, location

Step 3. Markup Content, Implement & Test

Applying semantic markup is a complex task and should be done by qualified personnel.

  • Schema.org (Schema.org) can help determine the best HTML tags to use for your content
  • Once your developer marks up your content, they will implement and test the code. Google provides a Snippet Testing Tool
  • If your rich snippets don’t appear, you can tell Google that you’ve added rich snippets to your site by completing this request form

Step 4. Measure Success

Always benchmark and measure to monitor your results.

  • Set an initial benchmark and determine success metrics
  • One recommended success metric is increase in response (click-through-rate)
  • Be Patient. It can take 30 days or more before the rich snippets will start displaying in Google

B2B Examples

Below are a few examples of how B2B marketers can use Rich Snippets.

  • Tag your webinars as Events
  • Use the Author tag on all whitepapers, downloadable assets and articles
  • Tag product spec sheets with the Product tag
  • Tag your pages with the Review tag so users can review information about a specific product or service

Rich snippets provide a great way to enhance your listings in Google so they stand out from the competition, which will ultimately bring more qualified users to your site. It’s well worth educating yourself on rich snippets and strategizing to ensure that you’re using them to full advantage. Get ahead of your competition and get started today!

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3 Steps To Optimize Your B2B Informational Assets /3-steps-to-optimize-your-b2b-informational-assets-109931 /3-steps-to-optimize-your-b2b-informational-assets-109931#respond Wed, 08 Feb 2012 15:29:48 +0000 http:/?p=109931 Does this situation sound familiar? Due to the success of your SEO program, organic traffic to your website is increasing. However, visitors aren’t engaging with specific aspects of the site and aren’t taking the desired actions. Why? Many B2B marketers fail to include informational assets in their overall SEO strategy. Information presented on your website […]

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Does this situation sound familiar? Due to the success of your SEO program, organic traffic to your website is increasing. However, visitors aren’t engaging with specific aspects of the site and aren’t taking the desired actions.

Why? Many B2B marketers fail to include informational assets in their overall SEO strategy. Information presented on your website such as press releases, case studies, newsletters, white papers, product demos, and how-to videos are all great ways to engage prospects, generate leads and acquire customers.

But, if they aren’t readily found by searchers, they will not realize their full SEO potential.

Here are three steps to fully capitalize on the SEO potential of your online informational assets.

1.  Select Specific Keywords For Each Asset

Just like your website’s overarching SEO strategy, your online assets must also include targeted keywords. The keyword set may be more specific and will likely contain long-tailed terms.

I encourage you to perform keyword research specifically around the topics of your press releases, studies, etc… to better understand your prospects’ online behavior and intent.

Review your analytics data as well and take a look at the specific search queries prospects use to find your site and access various information. By targeting the right set of terms, your marketing assets will become powerful tools to engage prospects.

For example, a B2B market research company is optimizing many of their webpages for target keywords such as “local market research”, “market trends”, and “consumer research”.

In addition to website SEO, they are also optimizing a research study that addresses the topic of green consumers. The SEO plan for this downloadable asset focuses on much more specific keywords such as “Green consumer research” and “eco-friendly market research”.

This comprehensive approach to SEO allows the main pages of the site to rank well for general terms while the research download ranks well for more specific search queries.

2.  Optimize Webpages & Asset Content

Optimizing online assets is not much different than optimizing the rest of your website. Specific tactics may vary based on the format in which the information is presented, but here are some general rules to follow:

  •  Use keywords in the page title and META descriptions for the page
  • Within the body of the asset, insert keywords into headings.
  •  Incorporate key phrases into the text links throughout the body copy.

For example: Click here for more information is not nearly as effective as Click here for more local market research data

  • Apply keyword-rich alt tags to all images                

3.  Utilize Social Channels

Blogs provide a wealth of content to your site, which is exactly what the search engines look for – current, up-to-date content. Blog posts can range from fun, light-hearted topics, to more serious, industry related topics. Your corporate blog is also a great way to promote downloadable assets.

By optimizing blog posts you make them more visible in search results.

Blogs should be used to:

  •      Provide a snippet of a press release
  •     Summarize a downloadable research report
  •     Promote a product video or webinar
  •     Preview a case study

Use other social media channels to promote optimized assets as well. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ should all be part of your integrated SEO strategy to optimize and promote informational assets.

If You Have Online Assets – Optimize Them!

Don’t forget to include marketing assets and informational downloads in your B2B SEO strategy. Capitalize on all the online tools at your disposal including press releases, case studies, product demos, white papers and webinars.

Create a specific SEO Plan and Keyword map for each asset and use your corporate blog and social channels to drive searchers to these optimized assets.

B2B marketers may actually have an advantage over consumer marketers due to the wide range of assets at their disposal. Informational pieces like webinars, white papers and product demos provide great channels to expand and enhance your B2B SEO strategy.

The goal is to not only for the main pages of your website to rank well in search results, but for your online assets to appear at the top of the results too. Remember that Google displays “everything” in the search results, including images, blogs, videos, news, etc… so the more assets that are optimized, the more opportunity your site has to rank well.

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Five Action Steps To Take In B2B Reputation Management /five-action-steps-to-take-in-b2b-reputation-management-96716 /five-action-steps-to-take-in-b2b-reputation-management-96716#comments Thu, 20 Oct 2011 16:48:42 +0000 http:/?p=96716 You’re actively monitoring the online chatter about your company. You’re utilizing a powerful social monitoring tool and have plenty of data. But are you truly prepared to respond when negative commentary about your business hits the web? One of the most effective ways to handle negative opinions in the marketplace is to proactively provide positive […]

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You’re actively monitoring the online chatter about your company. You’re utilizing a powerful social monitoring tool and have plenty of data. But are you truly prepared to respond when negative commentary about your business hits the web?

One of the most effective ways to handle negative opinions in the marketplace is to proactively provide positive information about your firm.

Here are five tips to actively respond to negative opinions and amp-up positive comments.

1. Update Your Company’s Blog Regularly

If your company doesn’t have a blog, create one! In general, the more you blog the better; daily is ideal.

  • Focus on positive information in your blog posts such as new product announcements, case studies, industry awards and accolades.
  • Insert target SEO keywords in your blog content to ensure visibility and enable you to compete with negative statements and reviews.
  • Be sensitive to your readers; what do they really need from you? For example, instead of blogging about your company in general, readers are likely more interested in current trends or hot topics occurring in your industry.
  • Encourage prospects, customers and interested parties to participate in your blog. Generate a multi-party conversation.

2. Incorporate Link Building Into Your Site’s Content & Online Assets

Link building is important not only in SEO but in reputation management. For example, promote assets such as press releases, white papers and market studies across your social channels. Add optimized links to these social posts.

  • Use keyword-rich anchor text when building links to define the page that it links to, both from the searcher’s perspective and the search engines.
  • Use the phrase you most want that web page to rank well for in the major search engines, and also a phrase that compels real people to click through and read the page. For instance, instead of using generic anchor text such as “white paper” to link to a market research paper, use a keyword-rich phrase that speaks specifically about the topic and is part of your SEO strategy.  Using the phrase “local market research” in your anchor text is much more effective than “white paper.”
  • Ensure press releases are optimized to allow you to use “official” content on your site and on third-party websites.

Derek Edmund offers a full list of link building tips in his Search Engine Land article, How to Scale B2B Link Building across an Organization.

3. Use PPC To Counter Negative Comments

PPC is a quick, effective way to promote the positives about your business and respond to negative commentary.

  • Create a PPC campaign that targets relevant keywords for your site to help promote positive content. Develop ad copy that promotes your company’s positives as well as countering the negative messaging associated with your business.
  • Create micro sites to target a specific issue or common complaint and turn it into a positive spin.

There is often a lot of chatter on forums and social networks related to your competition. This probably means that prospects are trying to compare and contrast the major players in your field.

By creating a PPC campaign and a micro site that includes a comparison chart, you are directly and positively responding to this market conversation.

4. Utilize Social Media Outlets & Industry Forums

LinkedIn; Twitter; Facebook; Quora. There’s a growing list of popular social networks and micro blogs that can be used to push positive comments to your prospects and customers.

  • Secure your brand on social networks by owning your Facebook and Twitter pages, so no one else can claim or use them.
  • Create profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter and other relevant social sites.
  • Be transparent and honest.
  • Engage people to help build relationships.

Social Media

For example, Techrigy, a social media technology company, was faced with the challenge of generating quality leads. They used Twitter to identify the people who were having conversations about social media monitoring tools and looked for trigger words that might show intent to buy. They “soft sold” by responding to questions and offering free demos to prospective customers.

Techrigy now averages two online demonstrations per day through Twitter and has closed more than a dozen deals through the service.

5. Create Video & Podcasts

Create online video or podcasts, perhaps interviewing a top executive at your company or an industry leader, possibly even directly responding to bad press you’ve received.

  • Post video to your website.
  • Post video to other sites such as YouTube.com.
  • Include keywords at the beginning of the video title and branding at the end.
  • Make sure your titles and tags are compelling to the viewer.
  • Respond quickly to comments (within an hour or two) after your video is posted. This will help build your core audience and help to increase the video’s ranking in the search engines.

Proactively Provide Positive Information

Do you look at this list and feel overwhelmed? Don’t be.

Online reputation management is a marathon, not a sprint. But it does involve much more than monitoring and data collection. It requires a proactive, positive outreach program. Take strides every day to ensure that your business customers see you positively on the web.

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What Do Caffeine And Mayday Mean For B2B Marketers? /what-do-caffeine-and-mayday-mean-for-b2b-marketers-46982 /what-do-caffeine-and-mayday-mean-for-b2b-marketers-46982#respond Wed, 28 Jul 2010 18:06:52 +0000 http:/?p=46982 Most of you have heard about Google Caffeine which launched last month and the algorithm update made in
May, nicknamed Mayday. For many B2B sites the algorithm change resulted in a loss of rankings and
traffic. Now that several weeks have passed, marketers are wondering how these
changes affect their website and what changes (if any) they should make. This column offers
practical advice for B2B marketers regarding these recent Google updates.

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Most of you have heard about Google Caffeine which launched last month and the algorithm update made in May, nicknamed Mayday. For many B2B sites, the algorithm change resulted in a loss of rankings and traffic. Now that several weeks have passed, marketers are wondering how these changes affect their website and what changes (if any) they should make. This column offers practical advice for B2B marketers regarding these recent Google updates.

First – don’t panic.

Marketers must first understand what each of these updates mean. Below is a quick summary of the changes and my recommendations on actions B2B Marketers should consider taking, if affected.

For starters, here are a few Search Engine Land articles that explain the updates in detail: Google Confirms “Mayday” Update Impacts Long Tail Traffic and Google’s New Indexing Infrastructure “Caffeine” Now Live.

The Mayday update – algorithm change

Google’s Mayday update included many changes such as unveiling a new logo, adding new search features and updating the algorithm. The major emphasis of the algorithm change is an increased focus on long-tail keywords and page speed. As a result, many B2B websites have seen a drop in rankings and organic traffic.

Increased focus on long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords (phrases that include three or four terms) are commonly used by B2B search marketers and are proven to generally have a higher conversion rate than shorter, more general words.

According to Google, long-tail keywords are indeed affected by the algorithm update as they are trying to find the best sites that match-up with searchers’ long-tail queries. This reinforces what Google has always stood by, reporting the most relevant results for any search query.

If you’ve experienced a drop in organic rankings and/or traffic since May, here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Add more content, or update existing content, to ensure that it includes the long-tail keywords you want to be found for.
  • Incorporate long-tail keywords in optimized META descriptions, page titles, anchor text links, videos, images and blogs.
  • Include long-tail terms in your off-page SEO efforts too, whether that’s social media or incoming links to help build the quality of these terms.

Increased focus on page speed

The other significant algorithm change that Google made is that they now include site speed as a ranking factor. Recent Google research shows that fast load speed increases conversions. In fact, they stated that a page that takes even less than a half of a second to load can have a negative effect on the user!

This increased focus on load speed may have an impact on B2B websites since many business sites include video, flash, product demos, product specifications, and other forms of rich media.

My recommendations:

  • Evaluate your home page load speed by using the Google Webmaster Site Performance tool.
  • Review your average load time and how your site compares to other sites on the web.
  • This will help you determine if performance should be a priority.
  • Install the Page Speed Plug-in — this open-source Firefox/Firebug add-on can be used on any site and will give you a score and provide a prioritized list of items to work on to improve site performance.

Based on the recent Mayday update, long-tail keywords and load time are two factors you should include in your SEO improvement efforts, but remember — Google has over 200 factors in their algorithm — and content and relevancy are still primary.

Next, let’s review how Google Caffeine is affecting many B2B marketers…

Google Caffeine: a new indexing system

In early June, Google announced that their new indexing system went live, Google Caffeine. Google states that:

Caffeine provides 50 percent fresher results for web searches than our last index, and it’s the largest
collection of web content we’ve offered. Whether it’s a news story, a blog or a forum post, you can
now find links to relevant content much sooner after it is published than was possible ever before.
Source: The Official Google Blog

So what does this mean for B2B Marketers? Since Caffeine speeds up the time it takes for Google to update its index — when you change or add content on your site, it will now be available to searchers in less time. This is good news!  What used to take up to a week or two to be live on
Google now may only take one or two days.

B2B search marketers don’t really have to do anything different due to Caffeine. Simply continue to offer fresh, relevant website content on a regular basis including your social media efforts, press releases, blogs, newsletters and video.

Stick with proven SEO best practices

Regardless of these recent Google changes, marketers should continue to adhere to proven SEO best practices. I do recommend that you analyze page speed and determine if load time is an issue for your site, and continue to focus on long-tail keywords.

The bottom line is no different than it always has been when it comes to SEO — keep your content fresh, relevant and optimized to ensure maximum organic search marketing results.

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Two Types of SEO Content Critical To B2B Marketers /two-types-of-seo-content-critical-to-b2b-marketers-24180 /two-types-of-seo-content-critical-to-b2b-marketers-24180#respond Wed, 26 Aug 2009 10:50:47 +0000 http:/?p=24180 We’ve all heard it before… Content is King! In the SEO world, one of the best ways to boost a website’s ranking is to have an abundant amount of unique, valuable content on your site. But, what do you suggest when the CEO or marketing team does not want to add keyword-rich content to your […]

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We’ve all heard it before… Content is King! In the SEO world, one of the best ways to boost a website’s ranking is to have an abundant amount of unique, valuable content on your site. But, what do you suggest when the CEO or marketing team does not want to add keyword-rich content to your site? Perhaps they want to keep the copy light, or focus on impressive graphics – yet, they also expect improved search results.

Anyone working in the SEO industry, in-house or at an agency, knows that content really is essential, but quite frankly, this may not matter to marketers or executives. SEO experts must develop content strategies that keep internal teams happy and simultaneously improve search visibility and results.

Content strategies to boost organic search results

Two highly successful content-development strategies that B2B marketers should consider are (1) adding a keyword-rich FAQ page, and (2) implementing local or regional content pages. I’ve found that these techniques tends to be less invasive than adding a significant amount of keyword-rich content to existing pages, and are more likely to be accepted by various stakeholders associated with a corporate, B2B focused website.

Create keyword-rich FAQs

It makes sense for nearly every website to have a Frequently Asked Questions or FAQ page. This is a golden opportunity to create keyword-rich, targeted copy to help increase your rankings and provide your website visitors useful information.

Here are some ideas to help create a FAQ section of a website:

  • Ask your sales team what the most common questions are that they receive in the field and expand upon those.
  • Use social media to monitor what your customers are saying on blogs and forums and if the same questions keep popping up, address them on your FAQ page.
  • Check your Web analytics data to find very specific keyword phrases and questions. I recommend that you look particularly for long-tail phrases that include three or more words. These phrases may not generate a significant amount of traffic, but they do provide great clues into customers’ needs and wants.
  • Make sure you target non-branded keywords. The point is to be found for more than just your brand. Look for very specific questions and topics and then expand upon each by including multiple non-branded keyword phrases.

Another benefit of a FAQ page is that it allows companies to promote multiple topics, and optimize for multiple keywords, on a smaller scale. You may not have enough content to develop an entire page devoted to a single subject, but creating a question and answer section still allows you to incorporate these important keywords into your site.

Capitalize on local keywords

Even national firms need to reach customers locally (or regionally). In fact, according to the Kelsey Group, 74% of Internet users perform local searches. In addition, 61% of local searches result in purchases (TMP/comScore).

It’s not hard to rank well for branded keywords because they are naturally used frequently throughout a B2B website. But if/when an executive asks, “why aren’t we ranking for relevant local search queries?” the likely answer is—there just isn’t enough local content on the site.

Focus on the most important locations

At least initially, most B2B marketers must decide where to focus their local SEO efforts. How do you determine the best locations to create content for?

Start by using tools such as Google Insights. The tool provides insights into the terms people search for in Google by creating a visual representation of regional interest on a map. You can type in a keyword and it will display the top regions that have an interest in that keyword topic.

Then, ask your sales or marketing team for the top zip codes where you have the most customers or have gained the most sales. Use your Web analytics data to parse out the top locations of qualified visitors.

Create unique content for each region

Once you narrow your list of top locations, be sure to create unique content speaking to each of these regions individually. If you’re a global company, create pages that speak to the challenges, customs, or standards of each particular country. The same could be applied on a national level, targeting regions in the U.S. and creating localized pages that address particular states, metro areas, cities, or even neighborhoods.

As unique local content is created, optimized for geo-targeted keywords and incorporate these words into your site; this will increase the visibility of your website within organic search results when localized B2B searches are conducted. Along with an effective navigational structure on your website, and with the support of link building efforts for these local pages, your company has a great opportunity to increase organic search rankings for local search queries.

I’ve seen a significant increase in organic visibility and traffic once keyword-rich content has been added to FAQ and local pages. For example:

  • Search visibility increased 45% within 30 days of content implementation
  • Organic visitors increased by 15% with new content
  • Organic listings within the top three pages of the search results increased by 200%

If key stakeholders are resistant to adding keyword-rich content to existing pages, SEO Experts must “think outside the box”. Content is definitely king… but B2B marketers must focus on finding a balance of content that will be palatable to executives and valuable to customers. Implementing a FAQ section and developing local/regional content are two such tactics.

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