Does Yelp Help My SEO?

If you’ve followed our blog for a while you should know that the more inbound links and keywords found online regarding your website, should theoretically boost your SEO. But what about online reviews? Online review websites such as Yelp, Zagat, and even stores themselves can make or break a purchase decision. In an age of content shock and an overabundance of products and services, it’s become increasingly important for marketers (and small business owners) to be present at a consumer’s Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). The ZMOT is the moment before a purchase decision and it is crucial to gaining brand awareness in an age of ever-present technology.

The Power of Yelp

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[Images are screenshots, edited on Picmonkey]

If you are a small business owner, you likely know the importance of online reviews. They can sway the opinion of a potential customer in seconds, the outcome being either good or bad for your business. According to Search Engine Land’s post on whether or not Yelp really matters, Yelp is definitely important for SEO. Nowadays Google does take into account a company’s presence on Yelp. Google measures things like how many reviews a business has on Yelp, and how positive each review is. Google then factors this into their search engine ranking accordingly. Since Google’s Pigeon update rolled out, Yelp now shows up higher on the SERP than ever before. When typing in the name of a restaurant, Google most likely returns results that have Yelp within the first three results. This is good news for Yelp and (potentially) good news for the small business owner. In an age of localized search and mobile phones, it’s important for small business owners to take advantage of Yelp. Below are four steps to fully utilizing Yelp for your small business. 

 

 

Step #1: Claim your business.

Claim your business on Yelp. According to Search Engine Land’s article on Google Maps, Yelp and Local SEO in 2015, once you’ve claimed your business, you are able to be “active” on Yelp. This includes everything from updating information to responding to reviews and uploading photos. Doing this not only lets Google know you are active and present on Yelp and therefore are worthy of higher search rank, but it also allows you to monitor the feedback on your small business.

Step #2: Keep your information consistent and up-to-date.

Make sure your business name, address, and phone number are consistent across all your platforms, whether it’s your social media, your website, or your blog. Google attempts to “verify” businesses on Yelp using contact information. So long as your information is consistent, you should be verified, which will in turn help your search ranking.

Step #3: Encourage customers to leave a review (to a point).

Yelp sticker
[Image Source]
As a small business owner, it could benefit you to encourage customers to write a Yelp review for you. In a day and age where Yelp reviews are one of the first things consumers look at, it’s beneficial for you to have a good amount of positive reviews. If your reviews happen to be mostly negative, there’s no way to really hide Yelp from the SERP. That being said, if you find that you have a good amount of negative reviews, the only thing I can suggest is addressing them. So, how should you encourage Yelp reviews? You may or may not have noticed that some businesses display a sticker in their window that says something like “Review us on Yelp!” or “People Love us on Yelp!”. This is one way to let your customers know that you appreciate positive Yelp reviews. Don’t go too crazy with this option, however, because the goal of websites like Yelp are to provide the most honest, reliable information on businesses. If you’re product is great and your service is reliable, you should not have a problem in this area.

Step #4: Engage, engage, engage

As with any social media platform, it’s always best practice to actively engage with your customers. If someone leaves a lovely review of your business, respond and let them know that you appreciate it! If someone leaves a critique or a less positive review, respond and tell them you will address the issue ASAP. Customer service and customer engagement is everything!

Bottom line? You MUST be on Yelp and other online review websites. Ever since Google’s Pigeon update, these review websites often rank higher than a company’s actual website. It’s crucial for you to have a presence on review websites. Have any other tips for navigating Yelp and other review websites? Leave suggestions in the comments below.

Rock the Moz Bar

Here at Searchable, we have already talked about Moz a number of times, including their blog and their On-Page Grader. Today we are going to take a look at the Moz SEO Toolbar, an in-browser extension for Chrome and Firefox that lets you track SEO while browsing the web. While there are some upgraded features available with Moz Pro, we will be focusing on getting the most out of the free tools in the Moz SEO Toolbar.

The Basics

Being an in-browser tool, the Moz SEO Toolbar is always there to provide background information on your webpage or what makes a competitor’s website rank so high. The toolbar has two main features, the SERP overlay and the web page analysis.

SERP Overlay

The SERP overlay is a feature that helps explain why different web pages rank so highly on Google, Bing or Yahoo search. In this overlay, each result is shown with their page and domain authority scores. Page authority serves as an indicator of how strong the individual page is, while domain authority shows the strength of the website as a whole. For example, let us say you want to start a boutique cat clothing store. The Google SERP if you search the term “cats” looks like this:

Cats Search Engine Result Page
Each of the top 3 posts have mid-range page authority ranking and 100 domain authority. It would be very hard to break into this SERP.

On the other hand, if you search cat boutique, this is what the SERP looks like:

Cat Boutique Results Page
These pages have a much lower page and domain authority score on average. As a result, ranking high on the cat boutique SERP would be a much more attainable goal and something that would take a lot less time and effort.

Web Page Analysis

In addition to the SERP overlay, the MOZ toolbar also lets you gain insight into the what ranks certain pages so highly. Keeping with the cat boutique example, we can look at the top ranking result when you search for cat boutique.

Hemmingway Web Analysis

Hemingway’s has low page and domain authority, but a low spam score and decent Facebook activity. The low authority rankings mean the page does not have that much clout and is susceptible to being passed on the SERP. However, the low spam score means search engines are not penalizing the page for Black Hat SEO, and the Facebook activity shows the company is active on social media.

The two tools on the left of the toolbar help dig a little bit deeper into the page. The Magnifying glass over the web page is the page analysis tool. This tool pulls up information about a website that is important for SEO, such as headers and meta descriptions.

Page Analysis Tool

The other tool is the highlighter tool, which highlights links on the page.

Link Highlighter

In addition to looking into competitors, the web page analysis feature can also be used on your own web page. When used on your site, this tool can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses or point out holes in your website’s SEO.

As pointed out earlier in this article, and as can be seen throughout the images, there is a full version of this toolbar. The full version will give you access to more metrics and analytics and can be tried out for 30 days free of charge. The free version of the Moz toolbar should be more than enough to get you started on your SEO journey.

For the Chrome version of the Moz Toolbar click here. For the Firefox version, click here. For more posts about free SEO analytics tools, read Ana’s article on 4 Free SEO Tools You Didn’t Know You Needed.

4 Simple Steps to Beginning a Link Building Campaign

There are many ways to improve the findability of your business’ website or content, but link building campaigns may be the simplest. Link building is a fairly self-explanatory way to increase the amount of external links to your site or blog. Whether these links are from media outlets, similar businesses, or even from a friend’s blog, they matter and will boost your Google search ranking. Link building is the place to exercise some traditional public relations skills for the good of your SEO strategy.

For the sake of consistency, let us say that you are the owner of a small, neighborhood fitness center. Your website is mostly informational, but visitors can convert by signing up for your healthy living newsletter and buying memberships online, so it is important that people can find you online. Your referral traffic (traffic to your website coming from external links) is low, and you want to give it a boost. Here is a go-to guide for your fitness center (or any small business) that needs to build some link:

Step 1: Evaluate your external linkers

Who are the people who could possibly link to your gym’s website? They are stakeholders, customers, partners, fans, neighbors, etc.  Linkers are people who truly enjoy your business and want to tell the world about it. They are also people who will benefit from a friendly relationship with your business. Below is a list of outside sources (people) that could link to your fitness center website:

  •         Community leadership—Your gym is important to your neighborhood, so why not let people know about it? If your village/city/town website has a travel guide page or “things to do” section, your gym should be on it.
  •         Customers—Joe comes into the gym every morning at 5 a.m. and then writes about his workout, and his protein shake, afterward on his blog, which is all about lifting. Joe is a fitness freak and it couldn’t hurt for him to mention where he is doing all of the heavy-lifting.    
  •        Neighbors—When someone asks you where to get a post-workout smoothie, you always point them toward the small grocery store down the street. Make that mutually beneficial relationship permanent with a link.
  •         Past acquaintances— Do you remember last year when you were mentioned in your city’s newspaper for that article on New Year’s resolutions? Do you remember how the journalist didn’t link to your site, but just mentioned the gym’s name? If that story is still live somewhere, there is time to change that.

Step 2:  Reach out

It’s not enough to just keep pointing those yoga instructors toward the smoothies down the street. It’s time to initiate a working relationship. Make a visit to the shop down the street and ask them if mutual linking would be okay. Email the writer of that story from a few years back and ask them to make the simple edit of adding a hyperlink, especially if that story did or still does receive a lot of views. The next time you read one of Joe’s blog posts, tell him you think he should link to your site, so more people can be aware of the space in which he works out. Ask him more than once. There is no harm in following up. As you can see in Moz’s figure below, following up is an essential step in link-building and can lead to real results (i.e. more links!).

Moz link building steps infographic

In short, make friends. Your neighborhood could consist of the residents and businesses around you or your “neighbors” may be completely virtual. Either way, they are your community and it doesn’t hurt to help each other out by linking. Linking is like caring, except caring does not have a high probability of boosting your referral traffic.

Step 3: Keep track of your links

Once more external sites begin to link to your own, make sure that you are tracking those links. Use your analytics platform (most likely, Google) to see where your referral traffic is coming from and to what pages it is linking. Referral traffic, according to Avinash Kaushik, should account for about 20-30 percent of your total website traffic.

Make sure you note which pages receive the most links and which pages are more bare. It will help you better understand your own content based on what others find most useful.  You’ll want to try to imitate and improve upon your content that is popular among referrals.

Step 4: Spread the love  

Not only does having external links to your own content help your search engine ranking, but linking to those external sources also help you. The more you link to reputable websites, the more reputable your website will appear.

When linking out, don’t just copy and paste a URL. Use descriptive anchor text for linking to other websites. See what I did there? This will offer Google more keywords to be associated with a link and will help boost your ranking.

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[Source: Social Servings]
Overall, the opportunity to build links is easy and requires little technical knowledge compared to some other major facets of SEO (see above figure). So, put your PR pro hat on and start fishing for those links!