Google has made several strides in defending the web against black-hat SEO techniques and link scheming since the initial roll out of the Penguin Algorithm update in April 2012. Penguin has undergone 6 updates since its introduction; the latest being Penguin 3.0 in October 2014. The main objective of Penguin is to decrease search engine rankings of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, and 3.0 just provided a major benefit to local small businesses. Therefore, the sooner small businesses learn how the Penguin operates and ways to utilize the benefits Google has offered to improve online presence, the better.
What is the deal with Penguin 3.0 and how will it Affect Local Business?
Google has changed their ways on how they interact with local search and results by integrating localized results. Pre-Penguin 3.0, small businesses really didn’t have a fighting chance to rank for a broad term. For example, a broad term query such as “massage” will now direct the user to a local massage studio based on location, rather than “web-wide” rank of the past.
There is no better time than the present for local businesses to engage in online marketing, specifically in local search optimization. Improve your local business post-Penguin presence by taking advantage of the few tips offered below:
- Be Mobile Optimized: More than a half of all local searches are done on a mobile device. This alone should be an incentive for local businesses to optimize for mobile. Lead potential customers to your door step by having a mobile version of your site that is responsive.
- Content Marketing: Local content marketing allows businesses to engage with their audience and obtain natural links and social indicators, which in turn attracts quality local leads rather than just increased traffic. Content marketing can be managed through search engines, blogging, mobile and social media. Know what your target audience wants and provide them with content that provides relevant information that speaks to them.
- Local Citations: Links, local citations and brand mentions are a must with Penguin 3.0. Citations play a major role in SEO with a great emphasis on local search ranking. The more your business name, address and phone number are found on sites relevant to your specialty and location, the higher your search ranking. One of the most important steps to begin with is to make sure your citations are correct across the board (i.e. YellowPages, MapQuest, City Search and even the local Chamber of Commerce). If they are different across the web, your local presence will be doomed. Citations help authenticate businesses and provide search engines with valid and reliable business information.
- Multiple Locations – No Problem: Create a page for each location. Prior to Penguin, Google used separate local results. But, now that Penguin 3.0 is here, local results are integrated into general search content. This is a huge plus because Google is making a great attempt to incorporate local results whenever possible. This leads to the point at hand… If you have multiple locations, a page for each location should be created to accurately appear in local search results. Putting all locations on one page will hinder search results and you may be overlooked.
- Blogging: Focusing on brand citations and creating natural back-links are integral elements in local SEO optimization. One of the better link building techniques is guest blogging, but it must be done correctly to avoid Penguin penalties. Contributing relevant content to industry related publications allows local businesses to make their content, services and information more online noticeable. Natural links that lead back to a business’ website will enhance authority and local SEO rankings. Writing a blog on a relevant website will help introduce your website to a relevant audience without becoming a direct competitor.
- Google+ Reviews Count: Google is placing more emphasis on local reviews and rankings. Search engine positions are reacting now to what the customer has to say about an organization and are becoming more natural. It is important to encourage happy customers to write reviews. Sending personalized emails to your customers asking them to visit your Google+ Local Page is one of the most effective ways to ask for a review. Or, better yet, set up a link on your website or blog that will link your customers to your Google+ Local Page. Quoting positive reviews in a testimonial page is also viewed as positive content on your site.
- Google+ Local Page: Optimizing Google+ Local Pages is one of the best things a business can do to boost online presence in Penguin and in local SEO. Google+ Local listings provide local small businesses an opportunity to claim a prime spot in local search engine results pages if they have optimized.
The Post-Penguin Era has debuted, and is not expected to fade anytime soon. More updates can be expected, which means small businesses will have more opportunities. Be local savvy, and work a few of these tips to a successful online presence while keeping up with the Penguin!