Category Archives: SEO Tips

Local Citation Finder

local citation finder detectiveMany small business owners have learned recently, that citations help to push their Google Places ranking up in the SERPS (search engine results pages), and they are looking for local citation finder software, information, advice, and tools to help them.

We have been working with small businesses for years, helping them to get or increase their number of citations. During this time we have found many great blog posts, websites, and software on the subject, we have also developed our own techniques, which we want to share with you in this post.

Here is what we have learned about citation finder software

While it is okay to use software to find citation sites, you don’t want to use it to acquire them. Much like girls in the movie “Water Boy”, automatic submission tools are the devil. Automated citation submissions have been viewed as black-hat SEO for years, and since the recent Panda and Penguin updates to Google’s Search algorithm, you are almost definitely going to get penalized.

Exception to the rule

There is always an exception to the rule, and this one come by the name of yext (they spell it with a lower case y). They have partnered with a lot of cheesy directories and some not so cheesy, to do automatic submission. Yext got together with all the little directories a few years ago, they were afraid Google would eat their collective lunches in the small business marketing niche. They figured that if they partnered up, they could compete with Google. So for $99.00 a month you can automatically submit your business to the underlings.

Recently, Merchant Circle partnered with yext, if you have a Merchant Circle listing, your email probably gets hit once a week with yext advertisements. Spoiler Alert: The verdict is in, and most say it isn’t worth the money. One more quote from Water Boy: “Which brings me to my next point, don’t smoke crack!” – LT

Whitespark local citation finder software

This tool will help you find citation sites. This is a more advance type of do it your self tool. They will not only find you citations based on keywords, but they will track your local competitions citations too. These guys help you find all citation sources, not just directories.

They also help you to keep track of where you have submitted your company. Whitespark will cost you $20.00 a month, but they will let you run up to 3 campaigns for the dough. These guys are pioneers in local SEO, and I have used them in the past.

SEOMOZ Recent acquisition “” a free citation finder was the birth child of David Mihm a local search expert, but now the proud property of SEOMOZ. This is a great free tool that is gaining a lot of popularity. I believe it will cost money in the not to distant future. This website not only offers the citation finder, or as they say “See how your business is listed on Google, Bing, and other major local search engines.”, but, there is also a ton of great information about local SEO.

Not only the president but also a member

I am a big fan of the BBB and the Local Chamber of Commerce. I have every small business I work with join these two sites. If you scroll to the bottom of any page on my website, you will find a link to my A rated BBB listing, and also a link back to my local chamber. They are not only great sources for citations, but they actually drive paying customers to you. I get better leads from these two resources, than any other directory. Of course it matters what industry your in, if your in food service you may find you get more leads from Yelp or Urbanspoon.

Acquire Local Citations Through Sponsorship

Find a local little league team, adult softball team or such with a website or facebook page you can sponsor. When they post your company as a sponsor, ask them to include your contact info. A lot of local pubs have a website, find a dart team to sponsor and get a citation.

Plan to be a toys for tots drop off, all drop off locations are promoted on lots of local websites (just missed that bus for 2012 though, but there is always next year).

Most organizations have a Facebook page, even if they don’t have an official website. You could buy a case of cookies from the local girl scouts troop, and ask them to post your address in in return on their Facebook page as a place to buy cookies.

Acquire local citations through promotions

Run a promotion that benefits a good cause. We worked with an auto repair shop to run an oil change promotion benefiting the local homeless shelter. When you donated 5 cans of food, you got an oil change for $15.00.

The local news papers picked up this story and came down to take a picture of the owner, and of course they included the name, address, and phone number in the piece. The local garage expanded it’s customer base, up-sold some front-end work and brake jobs, while earning some citations.

Their are a lot of meet-up groups and organizations that need space to meet once a month or once a week. If you have the extra space, or if you don’t use your boardroom at night, you can find local hobbyist groups, book clubs and such that will list you as the place to meet.

You don’t need to be original to succeed. Find a good local cause that is already being promoted, and ask to co-sponsor the cause or event.

Put a webcam in your store front for citations

People love webcam sites, especially during harsh weather situations. For the cost of a $65.00 streaming webcam. You can post your location. CAMSCAPE is just one such site that lists webcams from all over the world. If you investigate this website be prepared for your work rate to suffer, because some of these webcams are awesome. Not only can you get a citation, but also you will get a link.

In conclusion, there are infinite ways to get local citations for your business. Use your own creativity and the principles and resources listed in this post to come up with your own ways to find citation sources.

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Here Is What The Best Link Builders | Link Building Services Are Doing

Person looking through magnifying glass

The best link builders are really good at finding and developing relevant content and resources for their clients. They develop and promote content to attract links, and they “search” the Internet for potential link candidates.

They scour the web for category specific: blogs, forums, thought leaders, groups, web pages, and other web resources for potential link candidates.

Once potential candidates are discovered, they are evaluated and ranked for relevance, and gettableness (get-able-ness = how likely to get a link). Many candidate discovery techniques are performed with an actionable plan in mind for getting a link from the specific prospect type. I’ll cover discovering candidates and acquiring links in a bit.

The best link builders and link building agencies act most-often as if search engines like Google don’t exist. When these marvelous link builders are not busy finding great resources and content to get links from, they are building their own killer content and resources to attract them.

The best of the best, act as if Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam department was standing right over their shoulder when deciding if a link is actually an asset. This is the essence of white hat link building.

Discovering Link Candidates

Link building pro’s utilize the millions of blogs, magazines, groups, and clubs that exist on the web. Whatever your topic, there is almost certainly an organization, crowd, gang, crew, league, gathering, contest, pool, posse, society, specialty directory, or Pinterest board where you can join the conversation in a meaningful way.

The way we like to find these groups, pages etc… is with Google search.

*Example: If you want to find blogs that mention kitten mittens try this search: inurl:blog intitle:”kitten mittens”. This search basically says to find url’s with the word blog, and that have kitten mittens in the title of the page. Results

You can find any page or file indexed by Google, Some of the most used advanced parameters are:

  • intitle: This one tells the search engine to find pages about what ever word follows the colon(:). * EXAMPLE intitle:keyword or intitle:”multiple keywords”
  • inurl: This one tells the search engine to return web-pages and documents with your keyword in the url.
  • site: is used to search a url. *EXAMPLE or the site: operator can be used to find a specific TLD (.org, .com, .edu).
  • – or minus is used to exclude. *EXAMPLE -cake tells the search engines note to return any results with the word cake, the minus operator, or – is a very powerful one for zeroing in on just what your looking for.
  • ~ or tilde, known as the synonym generator, tells search engines to also return synonyms of your keyword when placed directly in front. *EXAMPLE ~cake

If you would like a list of Google’s advanced search parameters, I recommend you head over to SEOMOZ, and read their paper on advanced search queries.

Discovering Link Candidates WITH An Actionable Plan

Guest Posting Plan

One of the easiest ways to get a link from a relevant webpages is by guest posting on blogs. There are millions of blogs out there that need content, but how do you find them? try this one: inurl:blog intitle:~keyword + “guest post” | “guest author”.

The above search is very powerful, it says to look for web addresses with the word blog in the url/address, with your keyword or synonyms of your keyword in the title, along with the words guest post or guest author. One thing to keep in mind when using the tilde (~) operator, it’s best to use single words.

Once you have found some prospects to submit a guest post, the best link builders are looking for a phone number, and calling the prospect. Yup, you will find that your success rate will improve by some 20% will a phone call. If you contact them via email, do not just send them some canned request. Have an article topic in mind, but always ask if they have any ideas about a piece you can write.

Getting Listed As A Resource – Plan

Doing guest posts can be hard work, how about just finding pages that list resources like your website. Now that you are learning to search the web for specific pages, I will let you figure out how to find pages or web addresses with the word resources or resource that match your category or keyword.

Some other link building words you may want to include along with your keywords when doing searches: directory, list, lists, links, submit site, submit url, submit a site, add url, reviews, library, association, resources, resource, Blogger, WordPress, tumblr, and add site.

Beyond Link Building

I used this search to find recently sold homes in specific towns, and that had a swimming pool, for a local pool service company that wanted address for their advertising post card: “recently sold”, pool, n.reading, ma. This query searched for homes that recently sold with a swimming pool in the town of Reading. I was able to provide them 150 local addresses for their direct mail piece, all in the local area of their service route.

Many SEO agencies have several content writers on staff, while others contract out this work. Expert link builders know that if a link is easy to get, it is probably not worth having, and reverse engineering your competitions links is a great way to always be playing catch up. Links that are really tough gets are the most rewarding.

I would like to hear some feedback and learn what you are doing to build natural white hat links. Lets ride the hash-tag #bestlinkbuilders to share comments and new posts about link building techniques, tips and advice.

Please post comments on twitter: @Inform_Local #bestlinkbuilders

Tips & Advice For Optimizing Your Webpages & Local Google Places Page

If you’re optimizing your local Google Places Listing or your webpage, first thing you have to do is decide which keywords and phrases you want to target.

I recommend using Google’s free keyword tool to see what kind of demand there is for keywords you may be considering, Google Keyword Tool. Each webpage on your website offers an opportunity to gain traffic / customers, and should be optimized for one keyword or key phrase. First use Google’s tool to make sure people are actually doing searches for the key words you are going to optimize for. There is no sense making your local Google Places page or web-pages relevant for terms no one is searching for.

Another great and free keyword tool is Google Insights; it can give you an idea of what time of the year keywords are in demand and for specific regions. Discover global, national, state and town demand for specific terms, and it allows you to compare one keyword or phrase against another.

Keywords That Get A Google Maps Local Directory To Display

There are keywords people search for that Google will show their local listings / Maps for and keywords they wont show Local Listings for. You have discover every phrase that will trigger their local directory. The only way I know to discover which keywords Google shows their maps directory for is by just typing them into Google and seeing.

Make a list of keywords that are relevant to your products and services. You don’t usually need to type in a city or state any longer, but you can try your keywords with, and without a geographical modifier.

When you do a search Google pings your IP address, So it knows roughly where your located. If you do a search for plumbers, they are going to list plumbers that are relevant to your locality.  Sometimes your Internet service will have your server located in a neighboring town, so you will have to type in your town to get slightly better targeting.

On Website Placement Of Keywords For Local SEO

Once you know the words you’re targeting you want to make sure keywords are in your pages title, in your url if possible and in your web page content and headlines.

Use the words naturally in a sentence, don’t stuff keywords or you will be penalized by search engines. Try to offer value, and remember you’re talking to a person, not a search engine spider. If it’s obvious your reader knows what town your located in, or if you have your address in the footer, it should not be mentioned anymore than absolutely needed.

Address & Phone Number

You want to make sure to place your address and Phone Number on every webpage, don’t rely on them just going to your contact pages. Each page has to stand alone, and be able to convert your visitor into a paying customer.

Don’t Be The Dead Sea

The dead sea has no inlets or outlets. Make sure you have at least one link going somewhere useful. If you want to optimize your “contact us” page, perhaps you can link to your local town hall, or chamber of commerce.

Right Brain – Left Brain

Not only do some people remember better because of images, but Search engine index them and people are searching for them too. Get some images on your pages, and yes every page should have an image. Did you know Google can read images? They can! They are really good with famous land marks. If I had a business in Boston Massachusetts Kenmore Square district, you can bet I would have a picture of the Citgo Sign citgo sign. Even if you don’t use a landmark, make sure your image “alt tag” has page relevant text.

Local Google Places Directory Optimization

Claim your business on local Google Places and fill out your company profile completely, then try to get your current and past clients to leave you reviews. Reviews are of supreme importance. A site with all bad reviews will rank above a site with no reviews. *Tip: Make sure you respond objectively to any and all bad reviews left about your company.

Another great way to promote your Places page is to link to it from your contact page, this can also help customers to find it and leave reviews for you.

While filling out your Google Places profile, you will be asked to pick a category your business fits best in. Take your time and find the best category for your business. I highly recommend reading Google’s guidelines on this subject. A high ranking on Google’s local directory can be very, very rewarding.

Your goal should be any of the top three spots on Google Places.

Local SEO With Video

Throw together a simple professional looking video that features your products and or services, business location and host it on YouTube. Make sure the title of your video, description area, and tags section are optimized with your keywords.

Remember 85% of people who buy locally, did research first online, and If you need help getting your local business optimized for search to give us a call, without an optimized website for local search, your invisible. 978-973-6048

SEO Tip – Get Website Traffic By Choosing The Right Business Name

The closer your business name matches a search people are doing anyway, the better. Most businesses tend to rank well for their own name, and good rankings mean more eyeballs will see your business, more eyeballs means more customers and traffic.

If your in a local service business, you may want to include the town you are located in, into your business name. People searching online will add the town or state where they live into their query. If someone living in Boston is looking for a local mechanic to fix their car, they will type something like: “Boston mechanic” “mechanic Boston” & “Auto repair Boston”.

Businesses That Begin With A/Number/Symbol

In the past, the yellow pages were the main source for people looking for a local service. Businesses listed with a symbol were listed first, then businesses listed with a number, and then it was alphabetical. So to be the first business option in the book, business owners used to named their company something like: AAA Auto Repair, or Acme Tire Shop, #1 Auto Repair, you get the idea.

Nowadays businesses are listed on search engines by relevance. Every website is crawled by search engine bots and ranked for the words on their page(s). But there is still an advantage to having an A/number/symbol as the first character of your business name.

Every link on a webpage passes link juice or ranking juice if you prefer to the site it links to, and the links that are at the top of a page pass more juice than the links lower on the page. Online directories group companies into categories, and then all the companies are listed alphabetically, and the ones at the top of the page, all your A companies, 123 companies, and # companies will get the most rank juice passed to them.

When naming your local business, remember to do a little research with Google’s keyword tool (just search for [Google keyword tool]), to discover what people are searching for the most in your area, that is keeping with your service, and if you name your business after that phrase, you will be on the road to success.

Written by Michael Kern