Passover is upon us, and if you aren’t Jewish, try to get yourself invited to a Hebrew friend’s home to partake in a Seder meal because it is a fun tradition filled with love and family. During the holidays, many of us take time to reflect, and if achieving high ranking via a sound local SEO strategy is in your wheelhouse, you may want to use these 10 days to spearhead ideas while considering Google’s past, present, and its future which many believe will hinge on GPS integration. On April 10, the first day of Passover, a friend from Israel sent me this meme reminding me of GPS predictions:
Clearly, being chased by Egyptian chariots, the making of golden calves and the wild orgies that took place at their feet, talking serpents, Moses receiving the tablets, and falling manna from heaven slowed them down, not to mention the lack of GPS technology for finding the quickest routes. Although this meme brings smiles to the faces of many Jews and gentiles alike, it suggests of a big change ahead in terms of local SEO: Google search assistants in cars via integrated GPS.
Local SEO Behind the Wheel
Earlier this year, an article by TechCrunch announced that the auto manufacturer Hyundai is linking up with Google Assistant for car voice commands. The technology pairs Hyundai’s Blue Link software with Google Assistant to do things like start the car, lock the doors and to work alongside Google Home. Industry experts say it is the first step to automakers fully onboarding Google Assistant to provide drivers with answers to online search queries. Android Auto already allows users to access smartphone search functions via dashboard touch screens, and Ford has announced plans for its Sync 3 system to work through Android Auto and CarPlay. If we study the history of emerging technologies, it is clear the time will come when Google voice search capabilities will be embedded into each vehicle’s own software system.
Unleavened SEO, Keep Local Citations Kosher
The best digital growth marketing agencies don’t simply keep current with Google best practices, they plan strategies likely to resonate with the future climate of SEO. By now we know mobile is the future, but now more than ever we are seeing clear signs that mobile search in cars will roll out in mass exodus fashion. So why not start optimizing now, so long as the tactics don’t conflict with Google’s present algorithm structure?
Although there is no concrete evidence and opinions are mixed, some studies show that Google’s local algorithm correlates with citations to boost local rankings. HOWEVER much has changed in terms of best practices. Gone are the days of blasting your business name, and address and phone number (NAP) through companies that offer citation listings like Yext and Brandify. This practice now reads spammy with Google bots and will displease them as if they were battling a plague of frogs. In addition, if you have lots of backlinks through paid services like these you will likely take a hit. My SEO agency in Los Angeles cleared away an average of 800 citations for 12 clients, and as a result local pack rankings increased by more than 30%. Of course one could argue the results of one study like this still can’t be squared against studies indicating that it doesn’t matter. But here’s the point of greater proof: every single client who already ranked well in the local pack for specific keywords suffered zero drop in ranking when bad citations were removed. This proved one thing: removing spammy citations had no negative impact on client rankings where they were already performing well, and removing them boosted rankings for those struggling.
Keep your citations kosher; use industry-related directories, Google Places, Google My Business, and make sure your NAP is consistent. Finally, connect with experts who know how to perform mobile SEO for local businesses, and inquire about NAP listings in emerging vehicle software systems that will, eventually, pair with Google search.
Give Your SEO a Special Passover Seder to Improve Local Search
The Seder is a Passover ritual performed by Jewish families that incorporates the retelling of the Israelite’s exodus from Egypt in which a meal is served with five symbolic items. The idea is that people not only celebrate their liberation from bondage, but also find ways to connect their present lives to the past keeping them grounded with rich tradition.
In order to run a comprehensive SEO strategy that facilitates a clear channel for local optimization, it is important to understand Google’s history and how its algorithms have been continuously updated to give searchers the best experience with high quality results. For those who have been in SEO for more than 10 years, there is a clear path showing how various updates have been made to improve authority quality, content quality and all with a straight-shot to mobile optimization (local). There are five components surrounding SEO that one should focus on that symbolically correlate with a “search optimization Seder meal”, and it is as follows:
Avoiding Penalties (Bitter herbs) – The bitter herbs are taken to remind one of the harsh bitterness the Hebrew slaves endured in Egypt, and they can also remind us about the bitterness of Google penalties. Make sure you follow White Hat SEO procedures. Run monthly audits looking for duplicate content, never buy links, say no to keyword stuffing, don’t use unnatural anchor texts, and ensure you have zero broken links.
Healthy Link Strategy (Charoset) – Charoset is a sweet paste that represents mortar the Israelites made to build storage houses in the pyramids. They held grain and wheat; that which was nourishing and gave life. The “Charoset of SEO” can be considered as a comprehensive internal and external link strategy. If the links connect in ways that make sense with relevant content, natural anchor texts, and allow for easy navigation, they will circulate a powerful life force through your site.
Recovering from Penalties (Karpas) – This is a vegetable dipped into salt water at the start of the Seder that symbolizes the tears shed by the Hebrews as they toiled in pain. If you just partnered with an SEO agency in order to recover from a massive penalty, you too may be shedding tears. However, there are steps you can take to recover, based on each penalty. If the hit came from a Penguin penalty you will need to study your site’s anchor text distribution (note there likely never be another Penguin update, but you can still get a penalty). Determining the algorithmic penalty is crucial, and can be intimidating if you don’t know what you are doing. You will need to correlate the period of time when you experienced the loss in traffic with the dates of any new algorithm updates. If signs point to Panda, then you need to go over content quality.
Sacrificing Content for Aesthetics (Z’roa) – This is the lamb or goat meat consumed to remind observers of the animal sacrifice made at the Temple in Jerusalem. If you are designing a new website for a client in a market that requires a minimalist design with attention to visual imagery, you will be turning your content into a “sacrificial lamb”. Make sure to partner with an expert digital marketing agency that specializes in web development and SEO. These experts know how to write enough highly optimized content that can be strategically placed amidst the pictorial to not disrupt the design.
Combating Dropped Rankings (Beitzah) – A roasted hard boiled egg is consumed to represent the mourning over the destruction of the Temple. When your “rankings temple” has taken a hit across the board, you will likely go through a mourning process before getting back on your horse. First, check to see if others report a massive drop. If so, there was likely an update made to Google’s algorithm. If not, check your content quality, backlinks, and run a site audit.
Arriving at Your Local SEO Land of Milk and Honey
After the exodus from Egypt, Moses led the Hebrews to Canaan (present day Israel) where, as prophesied by Abraham, a land “flowing with milk and honey” (a place of great richness) would be awarded to the Jews so long as a number of laws were followed. The “Yahweh of search engines” too has its laws known as Google Best Practices, and if followed you will reach the Local SEO promise land of milk and honey with high organic ranking (Local Pack), increased sessions, a lower bounce rate, and high conversions. For local glory, be sure to use content that mirrors natural voice searches, be diverse, be specific, make sure your NAP is consistent and correct, and avoid the sin of spammy citations. Finally, consult with a top SEO company and look into the options for listing your NAP with GPS technologies. Shalom, peace be to all!