It appears that Google updating the mobile Local Finder to the “restaurant style” carousel slider type display.

Earlier in the day Phil Barnhart pointed out that he was seeing this new display on dog grooming. I started seeing it initially on Chrome on iPhone as well across  many categories and by the end of the day I am not seeing it on iPhone Safari as well. It would appear to be a full rollout. This view has long been seen in restaurants and bars.

The take away: make sure your first and all of your photos are good!


Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.

Transactions in Local Search via Google’s Reserve with Google tool have historically been limited to Knowledge Panel results.

It appears that this transactional capabilities being expanded or will be expanded to include embedding calls to action directly into the Local 3-Pack search results. And given Google’s obvious expansion of the Reserve with Google we can expect to see these sorts of results in many new verticals going forward.

above search

Reserve with Google, Google’s back end tool that connects local listings to assorted booking tools but keeps the whole transaction process with-in the Google mothership, was first released last fall.

At that time, it was initially focused on Spas and Gyms that worked with a limited set of 12 scheduling apps.  In April of this year, restaurant booking using the Reserve app was added via OpenTable.

Subsequently Google expanded the number of scheduling app partners to now having 36 partners with an additional 33 partners “coming soon”.

Google has moved into new verticals with their reserve tool beyond those mentioned above. We know that Google is allowing for restaurant order take out via the Reserve with Google tool (or something very similar) using their “on-demand platform“.

demand tool OpenTable


We have also seen Google’s on demand tool showing up for Hotel bookings.

[Update] Tom Waddington pointed out that he has just stated seeing Reserve with Google showing up in the Garage Door category as well. Home services is an obvious area but one that I had not yet seen.

[Update] Sergey Alakov noted in August that Reserve With Google Expand[ed] to Attraction and Museum Ticket Purchase

The coming soon list includes Yelp, TA, Eventbrite, Thryve and CouresHorse to name but a few partners. So we can anticipate starting to see many, many more transaction types in the Knowledge Panel in areas perhaps as diverse as education, professional services, home stays and who knows what else

And if the above search is any indication, we will start seeing these transaction capabilities directly in the main local search results with ever increasing frequency as Google’s local search becomes ever more transactional in nature.

Book with Google partners:



Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.

Last week we learned of both a new Google My Business feature (in beta), ‘Add Product Collection’ and new GMB Insight’s data, ‘Branded Searches’.

Both are interesting features individually but together, they are even more interesting.

The GMB Branded searches, reported at SEL by Barry Schwartz, is apparently being rolled out. As noted in the graphic published at SEL, it appears to be a count of “customers who find your listing when searching for a brand related to your business”. I take that to mean if I search for nike shoes bufflo ny and I see “Rick’s Sports and Apparel” then it would be counted as a ‘branded search” for Rick’s.

Auto Repair ShopsIn typical Google fashion, though, they have muddied the waters as to exactly is being counted by providing this explanation in their help files:

  • Branded searches: A customer searched for a brand related to your business (e.g. a customer looking for fast food searched for “McDonald’s” and found your fast food restaurant listing). This category will only appear if your listing has appeared at least once for a branded search.

This is totally nonsensical as 1- this would duplicate direct searches and 2- a search for McDonald’s would return “your fast food restaurant listing”, it would return McDonald’s. I have asked for clarification from Google as to what it actually means, which very well could be a third definition.

The other product, still in beta, is a feature to “Add a Product Collection” that adds products to your mobile Knowledge Panel. It was first reported out by Nathan Schoell of DealerInspire. According to Nathan, if you are using the Product Collection feature then the Services tab in the KP disappears. He noticed the feature in Car Dealer categories and Auto Repair Shops.


The new feature was also reported by Cordell Crowley at the Local Search Forum where he saw the feature in the Florist category.

Image courtesy of the Local Search Forum
This mobile product tab shows both a Post Product post and the new Product Collection. Image courtesy of Local Search Forum.

When you step back and view these two developments from 10,000 feet several interesting possibilities arise. We know that Google in general and Google Local in particular is looking to vacuum up ever more granular data about the real world.

This recent FastCompany interview with Jen Fitzpatrick, VP of geo at Google and who effectively  has “overarching responsibility for Google Maps and Local”.  She noted:

I don’t consider mapping a solved problem anywhere in the world. To use your example, we might now have sidewalks or pathways through a park, but we still, by and large, don’t necessarily know which parks have playgrounds or which parks have barbecue pits. If you’re trying to plan an outing with your child or an event with your family, those are pretty important things that are going to deeply influence your decision about whether that’s a good park for you to choose for your next outing.

That’s just one example. It’s increasingly not enough for us to know just that there is a coffee shop on the corner over there. If you’re trying to decide whether to spend your Friday night studying at that café, it’s going to be really important to know if there’s a rock band playing there, or if it’s going to be a quiet, cozy setting.

Barbecue pits might be of interest in a broad sense to Google Maps but there is little monetizable value in that granular piece of information. It is the type of information that will attract users and keep users on Google Maps instead of elsewhere. But every person looking for a barbecue pit in Fireman’s park is also a shopper. And these new products speak to those shoppers in a way that is both useful AND monetizable.

Google has in the past said that ‘brands are how you sort out the cesspool”. But what does that look like at a local level where the websites are weak and Google’s broader brand understanding of most local businesses is very limited?

It looks like product. Paid product by major brands yes but more than that. Product in general, wherever it is, whoever is carrying it.


And, in case you haven’t noticed, Google has been on a spree to get localized product information and incentivize sharing it with Google local in a number of ways.

In May of this year, Google introduced a new Post type called a Product Post that showed in posts but also aggregated in the Product tab of the mobile Knowledge Panel.

Auto Repair Shops


Shortly after, in June, Google rolled out “See What’s In Store” as a free Knowledge Panel feature as part if its new inventory feed program.


Clearly, Google, at least in the mobile world, is working very, very hard to convince merchants to give it, product information. Product information in their Knowledge Graph makes it a trivial task for Google to understand the brand information about that given location whether the information is on the local business website or not.

The Insights report, highlighting brand queries,  gives a somewhat abstract feedback mechanism for a business to understand what folks are looking for and the various product “feed” mechanisms give that business a way to nurture those searches.

Given this arc of these recent developments I would not be the least bit surprised if the Product Collection feature makes it into the GMB API sooner rather than later. And this would provide an obvious monetization method much like the recent discussion around monetizing a Posts API for multi location brands.

What better way to answer customers queries, clear the cess pool and make money. All the while garnering an ever increasingly granular view of the local world that keeps Google Local more than one step ahead of the competitors.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.

Leading local SEO predictions: Reserve with Google will grow, real-time local inventory gets real

GMB messaging, voice search optimization, local inventory data, Q&A and the decline of SMB websites are all explored.


Reserve with Google. (Photo Credit: Henry Powderly)

Local SEO is has been an under-appreciated discipline in digital marketing. Yet management and optimization of local business content and reviews, including for multi-location brands, directly and indirectly impact trillions of dollars in annual consumer spending.

Roughly 90 percent of retail and an even higher percentage of service transactions occur offline. But search, reviews and social recommendations now influence a large majority of U.S. consumers in their purchase decision-making.

Since mobile search volumes overtook desktop queries just over two years ago, more marketers have come to recognize the importance of local SEO and its impact on lower-funnel, “ready to buy” consumers. Google has also placed increasing emphasis on local search and Google My Business (GMB), adding a dizzying array of features and capabilities over the past two years.

To understand where local SEO (and Google) are going, we asked some of the leading local SEO practitioners to offer advice for 2019. The following are their observations, predictions and recommendations.

Mike Blumenthal's prediction

Mike Blumenthal: “Google will continue to develop the capability to transact directly from the Knowledge Panel. They will continue to roll out new partnerships for their Reserve with Google to include integration with major players like Yelp and develop tools for additional segments. In addition, they will build out a back-end to the reserve interface that allows them to handle the complete transaction in certain, high-value verticals like hotels.”

“AR will start to show up in the conversation about local search optimization.”

“Businesses will start to see the value of getting and using their own, first party reviews for local content and social proof.”

local google

Mary Bowling: “Feed the Google beast! The more information about your business, your products and your services that you can provide clearly to Google, the more it will understand what you do, where you do it and which queries your company might be the best ‘answer’ for. Provide this information via GMB and other local listings, your website structure, content and schema, info on industry authority sites, relevant media mentions and by encouraging plenty of honest reviews.”

Miriam Ellis: “Real-time local inventory will become a real ‘thing.’ Pointy just passed the 1 percent adoption threshold of all U.S. retail businesses. Their device and their launch partnership with Google’s ‘See What’s In Store’ feature will start to be felt in local. Early adopters will be rewarded.”

“Sustainable local business practices will become increasingly influential in consumer decision-making as U.S. citizens experience messaging surrounding climate change in the run-up to a major election. Local businesses should green-audit their models and market their improvements.”

“Reputation will rule the day. Moz found that 91 percent of surveyed marketers agree that reviews impact rankings and Google says that 27 percent of local searches have the intent of reading reviews about a specific business. Local businesses must take a robust stance on the entire review management cycle.”

Joy Hawkins: “I predict Google My Business will add Q&A to the dashboard (long overdue), continue to roll out Local Service Ads to other industries and come out with a way to schedule Posts in the dashboard as well.”

Dan Leibson: “Bing will continue to be far and away the most critical voice search “channel” to optimize. The data is pretty clear: Amazon Echo has ~70 percent market share, yet voice search experts continue to promote an over-reliance on Google, especially regarding local voice search. Also, Bing’s local search data and experience are much worse than Google’s, so the optimization work has an actual short-term return.”

“The importance of websites will continue to be a huge trend in 2019. As brands continue to pour more and more dollars into their owned assets, their local search dominance will continue to improve and SMBs will continue to be left behind.”

“Google’s local pack results will continue to get worse and worse. It seems pretty clear that the focus on quantity of features and their quick roll out has negatively impacted their local pack results pretty heavily. Expect to see more automated review generation schemes in 2019, more keyword stuffing in business names and more fake locations. After all, it works and the downside is pretty minor.”

David Mihm Predictions

David Mihm: “Mike Blumenthal has done a great job promoting the concept of ‘Google as the New Homepage,” but I think 2019 is the year businesses (and agencies, for that matter) finally realize just how profound, and profoundly different, a concept that is when it comes to thinking about SEO.”

“In a story that flew under the radar in 2018, Google made a significant improvement in its local branding. It is now promoting the term ‘business profile’ to replace the esoteric ‘Knowledge Panel’ designation (a move I fully applaud).”

“This more approachable packaging will begin to help the average local business owner realize that Google My Business truly is the natural place to start your marketing journey on Google, in the same way you’d update and market your Facebook or LinkedIn profiles.”

“In addition to a fully-baked, well-optimized Business Profile converting more direct searches from customers looking for you, I think we’ll see more and more examples where content added within Google My Business begins to inform relevance for certain discovery queries.”

“I’m also predicting 2019 is the year that messaging becomes a principal feature in GMB. On the SMB side, messaging feels like the most natural area for Google to invest in next. It keeps businesses continually engaged with GMB. It’s a feature that doesn’t involve content creation on the part of businesses — an area they’ve historically struggled with. It provides a lighter-touch transactional mechanism for longer-tail industries or industries where Reserve is too complex for a simple user experience.”

“On the consumer side, it addresses a pain point for millennial searchers. It also keeps searchers in the Google ecosystem, rather than losing them to a website clickthrough. As GMB gradually becomes more interactive, messaging feels like an essential component of that effort.”

Andrew Shotland: “‘Optimizing for voice search’ will start to show up as a bold line item in most local SEO proposals even though the consultant won’t actually do anything about it beyond a normal SEO program.”

“Blog posting budgets will start to morph into GMB Posts management budgets.”

“Link building will continue to be the biggest line item in your local SEO budget, regardless of E-A-T optimization, search intent targeting, or any other tactic you may read about, even in this article.”


Where & How to Get the Right Reviews for Your Business

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Where & How to Get the Right Reviews for Your Business

Online reviews play a huge part in the modern customer’s journey.

Earning reviews is a necessary part of any modern marketing strategy.

But where should you get started if you want to take control and make the most of the consumer’s voice?

Let’s talk about the top review platforms, and the best way to leverage them.

1. Google My Business

Google My Business (GMB), the most recent incarnation of what was previously called Google Places and Google Local, is the starting point for any online review marketing strategy.

Ratings here determine your star rating in Google Maps results, as well as in the Google Local Pack, the list of Map results that show up when users perform a local search.

Reviews are the most important factor in determining where local businesses show up in Google search results, and Google My Business is the source the company trusts the most for these reviews.

And if you think this doesn’t affect you because your business is online instead of local, you’re wrong.

In one study that involved 30,000 sites, investing in reviews increased organic traffic from 5,500 to 8,000 in nine months.

But knowing that your Google profile needs reviews and actually earning them are two different things.

It should go without saying that an excellent product and superb customer service are a must here.

A strong emphasis on customer service should be reiterated, since bad customer service is more likely to lead to a review than positive customer service is.

In addition to thoroughly vetting your customer service and developing the best product you can, there are additional steps you can take to get the most out of Google My Business.


Where & How to Get the Right Reviews for Your Business

Let’s start with the obvious: you should set up a Google My Business profile, rather than let it sit unclaimed:

  • Go to
  • Select or create the Google account you want to be associated with your business.
  • Enter your name and address to search for your business.
  • Click on the appropriate location.
  • Click “Mail me my Code.” Google needs to verify your ownership of the physical location of your business. This is the simplest way to do it.
  • Add high-quality photos to your profile, with an emphasis on what aspects of your business and your products can be communicated most effectively through visual media.
  • Update all fields and descriptions and deck out your profile with the same care you would apply to your own website.

Now you will need to encourage your customers to leave you a review, and the most effective way to do that is to provide them with a direct link to the place where they can review your business. Here’s how:

  • Go to the PlaceID Lookup Tool.
  • Put your business name in the “Enter a location” field.
  • Click your business name. If you have trouble, enter your location.
  • On the map, beneath your business name and above your location, is your Place ID.
  • Copy your Place ID and paste it over “<place_id>” in this URL:<place_id>.
  • Visit the link and it should take you to a page where a Google review form will pop up.

This is the link you will need to share with customers at common interaction points to encourage them to leave a review, especially during interactions where you have reason to believe you have a satisfied customer on your hands.

A Few More Tips for Getting GMB Reviews

  • Integrate your Google My Business review link into your email marketing campaigns. Use your email signature to ask your customers to leave reviews.
  • Segment your audience and look for correlations between quantifiable interactions and customer lifetime value, and request reviews from those in your audience who are the most likely to be long-term customers.
  • Make it a part of your training to teach all customer-facing staff to ask for reviews from customers, especially where customers seem to be satisfied.
  • Where providing a direct link isn’t possible, have ready-made materials to teach customers how to leave reviews.
  • Write personal emails that request reviews. The context of the personal email should make it clear that the email is not mass produced.

2. Industry-Specific Review Sites

While industry-specific review sites don’t directly impact your star ratings in Google Maps and Google’s local search results, they do impact your rankings in search results, and star ratings in non-local search results are often visible before clicking through.

On top of that, 97 percent of customers say they’re influenced by customer reviews.

On every measure, the more reviews available, the better, which is why you want to earn as many reviews in as many places as possible, provided your products and customer service are meeting the expectations of customers.

Irate or irritated customers are the most likely reviewers – and they can do serious damage to your brand reputation.

So it’s important to make an effort to encourage reviews from a more representative sample of your customer base.

Industry-specific review sites are sites built for or usually used within specific industries, such as Yelp for restaurants and TripAdvisor for hotels.

You can use the tips discussed above for earning Google My Business reviews and simply apply them to these other platforms.


Where &#038; How to Get the Right Reviews for Your Business

You can find a list of industry-specific review sites here and here, but you can and should also find industry-specific review sites by performing Google searches for:

  • [your industry name] reviews/ratings
  • [your competitor name] reviews/ratings

The list of industry-specific review sites you will come across will be far larger than any list of review sites you should point customers to in a single email or interaction.

It’s important to be focused in deciding which review sites to send customers to.

If you feel it’s important to send customers to a wide range of review sites to avoid low numbers or poorly representative scores on some sites, this is best accomplished by rotating your review links rather than by overloading customers with too many options.

3. Product Review Sites

Product review sites are third-party sites designed to help companies earn reviews while vetting them for accuracy.

Because customers are more likely to leave a review when they know it will be vetted and published by a third party, and since customers are more likely to trust these reviews than those selected and perhaps manipulated by the company itself, reviews on these sites are more likely to lead to conversions and positive brand sentiment than reviews on your own site using your own native system.

Of these, Trustpilot is arguably the go-to starting point – sort of the Yelp of product review sites – in large part because Google trusts them enough to include their product ratings in the Google Shopping ads.

The platform is “open,” meaning that the reviews aren’t modified or moderated to give brands a biased positive score, so they are likely to positively influence both brand perception and search engine rankings in the long term.

One of the most helpful features a third-party review platform can bring to the table is the ability to incorporate reviews directly on your site (here’s how to do that with TrustPilot specifically).

A good product review site will also include the Schema markup necessary to get your star ratings listed in the Google search results, and have enough trust built with the search engine to increase the likelihood that those star ratings will be visible.

Taking advantage of product review sites allows you to take ownership of the story surrounding your brand and be a part of the conversation.

If you’re concerned about the fact that authentic reviews will inevitably point an imperfect picture, consider the following stats from Bazaarvoice:

  • Product page visitors who read and interact with online reviews have a 58 percent higher conversion rate.
  • When a site goes from having zero reviews to having 30, it can result in a 25 percent increase in orders. 100 reviews can result in a 37 percent increase.
  • As we discussed above, review volume has a stronger positive impact on sales than review score, with scores in the 4.2 to 4.5 range typically performing better than higher scores (which generally have fewer overall reviews).
  • Adding user reviews typically leads to a 15 to 25 percent increase in organic search traffic.

4. Social Media

The introduction of Facebook Local has solidified that brands need to consider social media not only as a marketing outlet but as a place where customers review businesses.


Where &#038; How to Get the Right Reviews for Your Business

Everything we discussed above applies to social media as much as it does to Google My Business, industry-specific review sites, and product review sites, but there are a few additional things to take into consideration:

Share Customer Reviews

Social media isn’t just a place where reviews are earned; it’s a place where reviews can be shared. The key is to do so tactfully.

When you share, retweet, post, and pin reviews your customers have left, it’s important to do so in a way that is more about that individual customer and less about the brand.

Social media is a place where people go to keep up with their friends and loved ones, so it’s important to respect the platform for its proper use.

Respond to Online Reviews on All of Your Platforms

This plays an important part in how your customers feel they will be treated, but this is doubly true of social media.

The word “social” is there for a reason. Customers expect you to be part of the conversation.

It’s important to be proactive – but not defensive – in responding to negative press.

Also, it’s important to recognize that social media responds better to actions, stories, and events than it does to words.

Resolve Customer Issues Publicly on Social Media

If you’re asking a customer to please contact customer support and take the conversation offline, onlookers will wonder what you’re trying to hide.

There are obvious lines that shouldn’t be crossed, such as revealing personal information, but publicly acknowledging a customer’s needs and treating them respectfully are important actions.

Although you should never give in to unreasonable demands, you should demonstrate how customers can expect to be treated by you.


User reviews play a crucial role in modern brand perception.

No marketing strategy can be considered successful without successfully addressing them.

While brands can’t control the content and sentiment of reviews, they can encourage a more representative and beneficial dialog by working with their customers to increase the number of reviews and the diversity of opinions.

These actions have been shown time and again to increase sales.

Do not neglect what you have learned here if you hope to master the art of branding in the years ahead.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita
All screenshots: Taken by author


Why NAP & User Experience Are Crucial to Local SEO


While it’s no secret that mobile usage surpassed desktop usage in 2015, another fact that often goes unnoticed is the change in user behavior in terms of the number of devices they use.

According to Google’s Consumer Barometer, the number of users who just use a single device to complete a journey has decreased from 32 percent in 2012, to just 14 percent in 2017.


Google Consumer Barometer (UK Trends)

This poses new challenges for local businesses, as users move between devices their search and discovery experiences will differ as parts of the Local Pack and local algorithms are weighted differently, namely the proximity of businesses to a user location.

As the guide has already established, NAP consistency is an important part of Google’s local and Local Pack algorithms, and building citations with a consistent NAP to your Google My Business listing and listed online addresses can influence your local rankings.

However, having a consistent NAP is also important to the user journey as online directories and social bookmarking sites aren’t just used by Google, they’re used by humans too.

When the User Journey Starts

A lot of people consider the user journey and brand experience to start when the user makes the first inquiry or spends significant time on a company’s website.

However, the journey starts a lot sooner.

Think with Google data shows that there are five touchpoints that, more often than not, lead to a purchase/affirmative site action:

  • Used a search engine.
  • Visited a store or other location.
  • Visited a retailer website or app.
  • Visited another website or app.
  • Used a map.

The user journey starts when they first see your brand either in search results listing, in the Local Pack, on a map, or at your physical brick-and-mortar store.

Local search is a crucial part of this journey and is even more important given that up to 78 percent of local-intent mobile searches result in an offline store visit within 24 hours.

This is where the consistent NAP becomes important, because users need consistent information in order to progress their journey. A lot of the time we make an assumption that users find our local businesses and brands through our websites, our guest posts and outreach, and our Google My Business listings.

Users, however, find our brand through a variety of online portals, including the directories where we build our citations and listings.

Influencing the User Journey at a Search Stage

When users are performing their first searches, this is your first opportunity to make an impression and be a part of the user journey.

If you’re appearing prominently in the Local Pack or within the SERPs, you want your users to click through to content that both provides value and satisfies their user intent.

Lazy Local Pages Help Nobody

In a lot of cases, when a website “localizes” it means the generation of local content and local pages. These are executed with varying degrees of effort, care, and detail, but ultimately lazy local pages help nobody.

A lazy local page is in effect a doorway page, a thin page that offers little value to the user and has the sole purpose of trying to rank for local search terms.

Google doesn’t like doorway pages (due to them offering poor user experience) and rolled out a doorway page “ranking adjustment” algorithm in 2015.

The Possum update in 2016 also went some way to tackling poor quality and spam, but this is a tactic that has been persisted with and in a lot of verticals they are still effective (until something better comes along).

Google’s official support documentation defines doorways as:

Sites or pages created to rank highly for specific search queries. They are bad for users because they can lead to multiple similar pages in user search results, where each result ends up taking the user to essentially the same destination. They can also lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination.

Even if you rewrite all the content on these pages making sure they’re not duplicate, but they all carry the exact same message just with a different city targeted, they offer no value at all.

Google can see through this, and users will be left dissatisfied.

Creating Good Local Value Pages

Admittedly, it’s a lot easier for companies that have physical brick-and-mortar stores in the locations that they want to target to create local pages with high value.

But this doesn’t mean that it can’t be done for companies offering an intangible product or service with a local focus.

Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines define content in two parts:

  • The main content.
  • The supporting content.

This is the way you should look at local search.

When someone in London searches for [plumbers in london], Google has to break down the query into both main and supporting sections, as well as look for intent.

  • “plumbers” the main part of the query, the intent is that the user is looking for a plumber/plumbing service.
  • “in london” the supporting element, the user wants the plumber to be local.

From this, Google retrieves relevant results with weighting and personalization given to the local intent of the query.

The main content of your website should reflect the product/services that you offer, with supporting content elements adding value and topical relevance around the location.

This can be implemented in a non-commercial way through the blog, as guides, or as resources.

NAP Consistency

As mentioned before, NAP consistency is important as the directory listings and citations we build aren’t just used by search engines. Potential customers find them, too.

An inconsistent or inaccurate NAP can lead to frustrated users, and potentially lost leads.

Common Reasons for Inconsistent NAP

From experience, inconsistent NAP can be caused by a number of human errors and business changes, including:

  • Changing business address and not updating previously built citations, directory listings, etc.
  • Having a different store address to the company registered address and using both online.
  • Generating different phone numbers for attribution tracking purposes.

Not only can all of the above cause issues for your local SEO, they can also cause a number of user experience issues – and poor user experience leads to loss of sales and damage to your brand.

User experience also extends beyond the Local Pack and SERPs to your website, how the local journey is managed, and whether it can satisfy all local intents.

Being able to track and accurately report on the success of marketing activities is vital.

However, there is a case for “over reporting” and “over attribution” in some cases, especially when it comes to local SEO.

Google Local Pack: User Experience & Attribution

Google’s Local Pack runs on a different algorithm to the traditional organic search results, and is heavily influenced by user location when making the search.

Google My Business has an attribution problem, and more often than not a lot of clicks from GMB listings are classified as direct traffic rather than organic traffic in Google Analytics.

The way around this is to use a parameter:


The parameter won’t cause NAP/citation consistency issues, so there is nothing to worry about there.

Having a consistent NAP means you’re more likely to appear within the Local Pack, and if you’re in the Local Pack studies have shown that you’re likely to get a high percentage of clicks on the results page.

If you’re likely to get a lot of clicks, it means you’re going to have a lot of users expecting fast loading pages and prominent information to satisfy their search intents.

Directory Attribution

This is a more common problem that I’ve come across working agency side, as well as one I’ve been asked to implement while working client side.

In order to track marketing efforts, I’ve known organizations to generate unique phone numbers for every directory that they submit the business to.

  • The pros: You can fairly accurately gauge an ROI on your marketing efforts
  • The cons: You end up with a lot of published citations with an inconsistent NAP.

Also, a lot of directories like to generate Google My Business listings based off of the data you input, as a sort of “added service”.

This leads to multiple Google My Business listings being generated for individual locations, with different phone numbers and sometimes different map pin locations.

This is bad for user experience, as they’re faced with multiple choices for one location with only one being correct. Such as this example for an online blinds retailer:


Online Blinds Retailer

It’s the same company in the same retail park but displaying two different phone numbers and two different closing times.

If a user sees both of these, it’s confusing and means they have to take an extra, unnecessary action in order to engage with your business.

Avoiding Spam Marketers

Another common reason I’ve seen businesses use false numbers on directory listings (when building them for SEO purposes) is to avoid the spam phone calls that follow.

While using a false number prevents the spam calls from reaching you, it also prevents genuine customers as well.

We often forget that a lot of things we do “for SEO” can also affect users and their experience with your company.

Getting Local Right

Local searches often represent higher than average conversion rates, as customers seeking out a local product or service are likely to pursue and complete their actions.

That being said, a lot of local businesses are still not taking full advantage of the opportunities in front of them and tying in performance and user satisfaction.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita
All screenshots: Taken by author


A Small Business Owner’s Guide to SEO

A Small Business Owner’s Guide to SEO

You’re a small business owner.

You started a company to do what you love and now you find yourself wading through tasks that have nothing to do with it.

You’re keeping track of receipts, paying bills, you’re the lead customer service rep, and you’re the janitor.

Oh, and somewhere in there you’ve got to find time to be the chief marketing officer and hope you have time left to do what you started a company to do.

I speak from experience on all these fronts and, as a veteran SEO of some 17 or 18 years, I can say that keeping up with search is its own job.

But you know you need to understand how to either do it at a basic level or at least know what the heck your SEO is talking about or perhaps even, what they should be talking about.

And that is the purpose of this article.

We’ll be looking at some of the top principles of SEO that every small business owner should be aware of.

You don’t need to master them, just understand:

  • What they are.
  • How they impact search.
  • What you should be thinking about as you either attempt to learn the strategies around them or hire someone who hopefully already does.

Following that we’re going to include a brief glossary of the more common terms I find myself accidentally using that causes my clients’ eyes to gloss over or the phone to go silent.

It isn’t your fault you don’t know the terms. But they’re handy to know as I accidentally use many of them out of habit and I’m sure you’ll come across them, too.

But we’ll start with the principles…

SEO Principle 1: Content User Intent


Woman with various user intents

You’ve heard it a thousand times I’m sure. Content is king.

No… it isn’t.

Content is what the search engines use to fulfill user intent.

User intent is king, and content is the means to that end.

I am not suggesting that you don’t need to produce content, quite the contrary, but as you ponder the type of content you’ll be producing what you really need to be asking yourself is:

“What content will increase the odds that you will fulfill the search engine users’ intents?”

Now, that might sound simple enough, they just searched for ‘nike shoes’ so clearly they want to buy them, right?

Perhaps and some might argue … probably.

Now ask yourself, on how many sites can folks buy Nike shoes?

Thousands. And every one of them meets this single intent in varying degrees.

You can increase your odds on meeting this single intent better than others by having a larger variety of shoes and including more information on each pair.

And now you’re only up against hundreds of sites that have done that. Hundreds that meet this same user intent.

But wait, we’re not really talking about the user’s intent, are we?

No, we’re talking about your intent.

You want to sell Nike shoes.

The user just entered ‘nike shoes’ into the search engine. We don’t know what their intent is.

As mentioned above, it may well be to purchase shoes and there are plenty of sites Google can choose from that fulfill that intent.

Here’s what Answer The Public shows for ‘nike shoes’:


A Small Business Owner&#8217;s Guide to SEO

Seems people might be interested in a little more than just buying the shoes, doesn’t it?

Google isn’t looking to fulfill your intent, they’re looking to fulfill the searcher’sintent.

A site that fulfills more intents and fulfills them well stands a higher chance of ranking as Google can have a higher confidence that their users’ intents are more likely to be met.

So yes… you need content. But only because you need to fulfill the user’s intents.

SEO Principle 2: Links


Links shaking hands

Ah, links, one of the top ranking signals we hear so much about.

As a business owner, knowing the ins-and-outs of links and link building can be a challenge at best.

Heck, link building is challenging even for seasoned SEO pros.

There are, however, a few things you need to know that will keep you on the right path.

Why Links Matter

Some will argue with the semantics, but at its core, you can think of a link as a vote and some votes are more equal than others.

When a site links to you that link passes what’s called PageRank.

More about that in the glossary below.

At its root, though, it’s counting as a vote for the content on the page being linked to.

The stronger the linking page, and the more visible the link, the more it counts.

Basically, the more likely a link is to be clicked across the internet, the more weight it carries.

What to Look for in a Link

So, what should you look for when either building links or proofing the links being built for you?

I’m not going to get into some massive outline of link valuation, it’s different in each scenario but there are a handful of rules that should always be followed.

Is there a reason outside of link building for the link to exist?

If the answer is “no” then it probably won’t pass weight.

This isn’t to say that it has to necessarily have been worth pursuing if it had no link value, there are strategies that are employed that produce traffic and value but not enough to warrant the cost without link weight being considered.

But if there is no reason for the link to be on a site, don’t bother putting it there.

Would you click the link and if so, would you be satisfied with where it went to?

I’ve seen links jammed into the oddest locations in content or on peculiar sections of a website.

If the link doesn’t serve a purpose to the visitor on a page, then it will likely carry very little in the way of weight.

Do your competitors have the link?

Having a competitor getting a link from a specific site is not necessarily a sign that it’s good. But a site that links to 3 or 4 of your competitors that are ranking well probably is.


Use your judgment but it’s generally a strong indicator or weight and of one that may be easy to secure.

Anchor text/readability matters

Anchor text is the text used to link to your site.

What you want to be sure of is that the anchor text used matches what the user would be expecting when they click the link.

It also needs to make sense on the linking page. Don’t force anchor text or your target page.

If you’re working on link building, link to what makes sense using the words that make sense.

Notice how I linked to Answer The Public above using their name? It’s what made sense.

When I link to internal articles I tend to use the article title or subject (e.g., the link to the ‘top ranking signals’ piece, also above).

Think about what a link would look like if links didn’t count and either do that or find a new link location when the phrasing and anchors you want will flow naturally to the reader and by extension, the engines.

SEO Principle 3: Technical


Woman coding

Technical SEO tends to refer to the code-side or server-side of your web presence.

The impact of technical SEO will generally be felt strongest in the following areas:

  • Speed.
  • Structured data / Schema (more on this in the glossary below).
  • Internal linking structures.
  • Scripts and tracking.
  • Content issues such as duplication and incorrect canonical tags.
  • Key Google-chasing URL functions such as switching to HTTPS.

Technical SEO is a vast area with various requirements and aspects, dependent on the site type, CMS (if applicable), and server/hosting environment.

The best globally applicable checklist I’ve come across is Alan Bleiweiss’ free SEO Audit Checklist – go download it. It covers more than just the technical side of things but in my mind, that’s where it really excels.

If you aren’t a technical person this is not your area and I can’t recommend enough to keep out.

Technical SEO is for technical SEO professionals.

You can easily do more harm than good if you don’t know what you’re doing.

SEO Principle 4: Local SEO


Stuff near me screenshot

If you’re focused on the local market, you’ll have heard of specific local SEO strategies. It’s a different type of SEO.

There are a lot of overlaps as one might imagine, but there are SEO elements specific to local.

As this article isn’t about outlining the specific strategies but rather the areas and principles you should be considering, what I want to make you aware of is that you or your SEO will be looking far more to local relevancy than overall site strength.

You can read this as: you’ll pay more attention to the local nature of links than volume and you’ll need to make sure your onsite presence reinforces your location. This is how a small mom-and-pop pizza shop can rank against major national chains.

This isn’t to say you simply need to jam your city into the content as much as you can (though having it in the title, heading tags and placed logically with content where appropriate is wise).

What you need to look at are:

  • The Organizational schema that applies to you and getting it onto the page(s).
  • Including an embedded Google Map of your Google My Business listing (verified) onto your contact page.
  • Verifying your business and location with Bing.
  • Being aware of citations and NAP (more on that in the glossary).

You’ll also want to pay more attention to smaller local papers and sites than larger, national ones in your link efforts.

This isn’t to say you should ignore large opportunities – they’re great – but the time involved is generally substantially more with greatly diminished returns for local.

Because of the specifics of this area, for those impacted, I would recommend starting with Search Engine Journal’s Guide to Local SEO Ebook that was published just a couple of months ago.

SEO Principle 5: Machine Learning


Robot learning

By now most of you will have heard of machine learning and more specifically, RankBrain.

RankBrain was Google’s first introduction of machine learning into their algorithms.

Understanding the influence of machine learning on the search algorithmsdoes not have to be complicated.

Machine learning itself is, but what you need to know is not.

Machine learning simply gives the search engines the ability to better understand content as a human would and context.

Before we get into that, here’s what Frédéric Dubut, a Senior Project Manager for Bing had to say:

“A major goal of our Bing ranking team is to build an algorithm that would rank documents in the same order as humans would as they are following the guidelines. You can only do so at the scale of the web by generalizing your ranking algorithm as much as possible.

It turns out that modern machine learning is very good at generalizing, so you can expect our core ranking algorithm to get closer to that ideal Intelligent Search product view that we hold internally and which we try to capture in our own guidelines.”

And even though we’re at the earliest stages of machine learning, it works well.

What you need to know is summarized in that statement. Machine learning and AI will carry the engines forward in understanding what should rank, not just what does rank.

Think about what would be required to tailor each search result to each searcher and build an algorithm for each type of search scenario. This is not possible with manually programmed algorithms.

Machine learning, as it matures, is handing to the engine’s the power to:

  • Process massive amounts of data.
  • Understand the meaning of that data and how the different points connect.
  • Use that information to tailor results to the best probability of meeting an individual searcher’s intent.

Basically, everything we’ve talked about above – machine learning puts in the hands of the engines the ability to read those signals as a human would.

Hopefully with that my constant tone of “it should look natural and ideally be natural” is making more sense. While some tricks might work today, their days are numbered.

And That’s It!

Hopefully you now have a stronger grasp of the SEO approaches that you, or those you hire, should be taking.

I’ve always believed that an understanding of “why” is always better than an understanding of “how” as it stands the test of time and allows you to better navigate the various “hows” that you will encounter in your further readings.

And speaking of additional readings, I promised a glossary.

Below you will find a glossary of some of the more common SEO terms I throw around on call and in articles, often without considering that the person hearing or reading them may not fully understand what I’m talking about rendering my point)s) moot.

Danny Goodwin produced a more compete and excellent glossary of SEO terms.

Here’s my shortlist…

SEO Glossary



  • Algorithm: A computer program, generally mathematical, used to rank websites. The search engines use a multitude of different algorithms to generate the results you see. In fact, there are many just to calculate the weight a link should pass to a target site.
  • Canonical or Canonical URL: This is an element that can be added to the head of a website (invisible to humans without viewing the source) and defines the URL that should be credited with the content found. For example, if one was to copy an article from another website for their users, one could use the canonical tag back to the source site, thus passing all weight to it and also avoiding duplicate content issues.
  • Citation: In local SEO, a citation generally refers to a reference of a site or web entity by specific other sites know to hold value as citation sources. Citation sources generally refer to those sites that reinforce NAP which we will be getting to shortly and includes sites like Yelp, Google My Business, Foursquare, etc.
  • Crawler or Bot: The search engines send out various bots or crawlers to discover new content. Think of them as spiders crawling “the web”.
  • Entities: While entities are complex, in its simplest form an entity is, “a thing or concept that is singular, unique, well-defined and distinguishable.” It can be a person, place, thing, idea and much more. The color red is an entity for example, and so is this sentence. It is anything that could be defined as a thing unto itself, without being confused with another thing based on what it is, and its location in space and time.
  • NAP: Short for Name, Address, Phone Number. In local SEO the consistency of a business’s NAP is considered an important signal and citation sources are generally used to reinforce it. I would suggest that consistent NAP is important for all businesses to reinforce their entity, not just in local.
  • PageRank: PageRank is a Google-specific algorithm which they define as, “… the measure of the importance of a page based on the incoming links from other pages.” In simple terms, each link to a page on your site from another site adds to your site’s PageRank. Basically, Google calculates the value of a page or site in part based on the number and quality of links coming into it. The value they assign to the links or target page are known as PageRank.
  • Pogo-sticking: Pogo-sticking occurs when a searcher clicks through to a site and then the back button without digging further in. Technically this term refers to a searcher who does this multiple times on a single results page, but it’s commonly used in reference to an onsite quality metric for a single site that the engines may-or-may-not use.
  • SEO, SEM & PPC: I’m including these all in one entry as it’s important to understand the difference as a collection. SEO refers to ranking in the organic search results, PPC refers to ranking in the paid results and SEM refers to both, but is commonly misused to refer only to PPC.
  • SERP: The Search Engine Results Page. Basically, what you see after running a query.
  • UX: UX stands for User Experience. The feel and usability of a website experienced by the user.

There are a lot more terms and if you’re unfamiliar with SEO as a whole I recommend reading the glossary linked to above but these are the ones I use the most often with clients that I’ve found cause the most confusion.


How (and Where) to Add Social Media Buttons to Your Site for More Engagement


With social shares on content down 50 percent since 2015, it’s feeling like a lost cause to even consider social media in your content plan.

And we’ve all heard the age-old “social sharing buttons are dead” statements.

Just like we’ve heard for SEO, content marketing, PPC, and just about every other marketing tactic that still works.

The biggest gripes that tag along with social sharing buttons are often from marketers who use them wrong.

Or on sites that don’t get enough traffic.

Most of the time, it’s the case of awful placements and poor usability.

Here is how and where to add social buttons to your site for maximum social engagement.

Where to Avoid Social Buttons on Your Site

Most marketers go wrong in two main areas with social sharing buttons:

  • Putting them on the wrong pages: nobody is going to share it.
  • Using poor social buttons with horrible usability: it’s too much of a hassle to use.

Where do social sharing buttons definitively not work?

On product, pricing, and features pages:


social sharing buttons product page

According to a study done by VWO, removing social sharing buttons on ecommerce sites product pages increased conversions by 11.9 percent.

This study has produced some controversy as to whether social sharing buttons actually work or if they negatively impact your success.

But it’s hard to tell for a few reasons:

  • It was on a product page. Who is going to social share a product directly from the product page before they buy it? Probably 1 in 1,000,000.
  • Low amounts of shares on a product page are similar to negative or zero reviews on Amazon. People don’t trust it. It works as “negative” social proof.
  • It is distracting people from the main CTA, which is to buy the product.

If you can add user-friendly social sharing buttons to the right pages, you can bet that social sharing is going to rise.

So, where do you add them?

Add Social Sharing Buttons Within Your Content

Possibly one of the best examples of social sharing button use is from HubSpot:


social sharing buttons within content

When consuming content on HubSpot and highlighting specific sections, a social sharing bar pops up, displaying options for Twitter, Facebook, email, LinkedIn, Messenger, and copy and pasting.

This is stellar usability.

It allows users to not only just share the entire article but share specific sections of the content they find interesting.

Plus when you copy and paste a section from the post, here is what it looks like:

“When you segment the above results by company size, the results get even more interesting.”

It automatically places the copied content into quotation marks and cites the source with HubSpot’s link.

Boom! Now that’s proper attribution.

When you select the social buttons like Twitter or Facebook, it does the same thing, automatically importing the quoted text and citing the article link.

Want more social shares with buttons? Follow HubSpot’s lead and incorporate it into the usability of the page, rather than just having static buttons on the side-bar.

Add Social Sharing Buttons Halfway Through Content

A white paper by Chartbeat found that 55 percent of site visitors read an article for 15 seconds or less.


Getting people to click in search engine results is hard enough as is, let alone getting them to stay around for content consumption.

So you can bet that those social sharing buttons displayed at the top of your blog post aren’t doing the heavy lifting.

If people aren’t even reading for 15+ seconds, they aren’t going to share your content.

With that being said, you should add them further down the page on your content, targeting more interested readers and high intent traffic.

If people are reaching the bottom of your content consistently, they probably loved the post.

And if they loved the post, your odds of generating a social share are far higher.

Sharing buttons at the top of your content can just be a distraction from the big picture:

Getting people to actively read your content.

So, try adding social sharing buttons towards the lower half of your content.

Or even at the end with a call to action:


social sharing buttons with call to action

Switch it up and see what generates more social shares for your content.

Display Social Sharing as Social Proof When Shares Accumulate

As you begin to accumulate social shares, you can flip the script and display social buttons at the top of your content.

Low shares on content can work against you if you don’t have years of built up brand awareness.

Imagine this:

Someone who has never heard of your brand decides to give you a shot in the SERPs against big brands.

They click on your content and see this:


social sharing social proof

Chances are, they are going to think:

That’s weird, why does this post have just a single social share? Is this content accurate? Is it bad? Should I find something else?

If you haven’t had time to generate tons of social shares yet, or a post simply didn’t get that many, avoid using static buttons at the beginning of your post.

It might negatively impact your ability to get more shares.

Conversely, if you have tons of shares, directly display them at the top of your post for massive social proof benefits:


social proof accumulating

The Best Social Sharing Button Apps and Plugins

Not all social sharing buttons and plugins are created equal.

Some are clunky, outdated, have bad usability, and simply look awful.

When it comes to sharing buttons, you want the opposite of that.

Here are some of the best on the market, both free and paid to experiment with.

1. Highlight and Share for WordPress – Free!

This plugin for WordPress works just like HubSpot’s, allowing users on your site to share your content when highlighting text.


highlight and share social sharing

This plugin is completely free for WordPress users and works with:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • WhatsApp
  • LinkedIn
  • Email

With it, you can enable themes, disable specific socials and customize the sharing options.

2. Social Warfare – Free to Paid

Social Warfare packs a bunch of different options for sharing buttons from static to fading in at specific points on your post.

It’s great for adding sharing buttons halfway through content to target interested readers.

3. Monarch – Paid

Monarch is the social sharing plugin under the ElegantThemes brand. It costs money to have access to the site and plugin, but it’s one of the best on the market.

It allows the most branding customization of any plugin out there and the most diverse animation sequences.

Want a superior plugin? You are going to have to pay a bit more.

But if customization is key for you, this is worth it.


Social sharing buttons can be highly effective when placed on the right pages at the right time.

But more often than not, most marketers just put social sharing buttons everywhere.

More buttons! You get a button, you get a button!

Sadly, this approach fails.

Want more social shares from your social buttons?

Place them within content when people highlight sections.

Add social sharing buttons halfway through content to target interested readers.

Only display social buttons at the top of posts when you have accumulated tons of shares.

Avoid cheap, clunks social buttons and opt for ones with greater usability.

Social sharing buttons are far from dead. It’s just time to start using them with intent.


A simple 3-step framework for improving your technical SEO

In a world where everyone’s fighting for relevance in search, technical SEO is a Swiss army knife you can use to improve your site’s usability, crawlability, indexation and ultimately rankings.

But it’s easy to get lost in the weeds while working through technical SEO fixes — many SEOs reach a point of diminishing returns where they keep making small changes that achieve frustratingly little. That’s why it’s important to understand what to prioritize as well as how to accomplish your goals.

This article explores three key pillars you can focus on to strengthen your technical framework. However, even though this article only explores technical SEO best practices, please remember that you cannot neglect your on-page SEO, such as content creation and optimization, and off-page SEO, such as link building if you want your website to rank well and compete for high-priority keywords.

1. Indexing and crawlability

Google needs to index your website’s pages before they appear in search. You can help the search engine out by ensuring that it’s able to find your important pages (ensuring they’re crawlable) and indexing them properly. This is SEO 101, but it’s a vital first step.

Ensure all essential pages are indexed

You can check the indexation status of your website by entering into your target search engine, using an SEO crawling tool, or logging into Google Search Console and then clicking on Google Index > Coverage.

If the number of indexed URLs doesn’t match the total number of URLs in your database that are open for indexation, this may be indicative of duplicate URLs and URLs that contain a noindex meta tag. You’ll need to identify the error and follow Google’s recommended fix steps.

Ensure all important resources are crawlable

Robots.txt will give you an at-a-glance idea of whether or not your most important pages are crawlable, but you might be facing a variety of other problems that you need to watch out for:

  • Orphan pages (on-site pages that aren’t linked to internally)
  • noindex meta tag
  • X-Robot-Tag headers

Optimize your crawl budget

The number of pages a search engine crawls on your website in a given period is called your “crawl budget.” It’s not a ranking factor but gauging how often Google crawls and indexes your pages might help you identify some technical sinkholes (and maybe even find pages that aren’t being crawled at all). Click on Crawl > Crawl Stats in your Google Search Console to see your daily crawl budget.

My team performed a crawl budget optimization analysis last year, which determined that some of the best ways to augment your crawl budget organically include:

  • Eliminating duplicate content and pages.
  • Restricting indexation of pages such as terms and conditions, privacy policies, and outdated promotions (in other words, pages with no SEO value).
  • Fixing broken links and redirect chains.

Another great way to improve crawl budget is to grow your link profile, but that will take time and investment in your off-page SEO campaigns.

Employ structured data

Schema markup improves your CTR by providing users with a clear snapshot of what your company does (via rich snippets), and it helps search engines gain a contextual understanding of your content. If you don’t have structured data set up for your pages, go to to learn how and review your snippets using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.

Don’t forget about mobile-first indexing

I want to avoid retreading too much familiar ground in this article, and Barry Adams published a great mobile SERP survival guide a few months back, so I’ll add to his comprehensive overview of mobile-first indexing by adding:

  • Factor voice search into your keyword research (Google’s so-called “micro-moments” [.pdf])
  • Weigh the pros and cons of AMP pages while creating your content
  • Consider whether most of your mobile users are local and whether or not you need to flesh out your local SEO campaigns as well

2. Site structure and navigation

Creating sites that are intuitive and easy to navigate helps both bots and users explore your site and understand its content. A flat site architecture, clear pagination, and a clean sitemap are just a few of the fixes you can make to improve UX and crawlability of your site.

Review your sitemap

Sitemaps help search engines find your site, tell search engines how your site is structured, and make it easy for them to discover fresh content. If you don’t have a sitemap, then it’s high-time you build one, upload it to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster tools.

Keep your sitemap up-to-date, concise (must be under 50,000 URLs but should be shorter if possible), and free from errors, redirects and blocked URLs. Also, make sure your sitemap codes properly by using the W3C validator.

Audit internal linking structure

You want to keep your click-depth as shallow as possible and anchor each internal link with text that clearly indicates where it will send users. The clearer your navigation, the better search engines will understand your website’s context. Also, don’t forget to weed out broken links and orphan pages.

Establish a logical hierarchy

Generally speaking, the more clicks it takes to access a particular piece of content from your homepage, the more in-depth that content should be. Ideally, every important page should be reachable within three clicks from the homepage (as long as they’re laid out logically and mapped to your ideal user’s buyer’s journey).

Check your hreflang tags

If your website uses hreflang tags to localize content for different locations, you’d better make sure they’re error free. Last year, SEMrush discovered that 75 percent of all websites have at least one error in their hreflang implementation, resulting in misdirects, incorrect content and lost rankings.

Make sure you regularly monitor and troubleshoot your implemented hreflangs, choose the best implementation method for what you’re trying to achieve, generate hreflang code for each page and update your hreflang tags for the mobile version of your website (if necessary).

3. Site speed

Cards on the table: “site speed” is a bit of a misnomer because there’s no magic button to make your site “go faster.” What you’re actually doing is making small technical improvements that improve user-centric metrics such as time to first content.

What makes these technical fixes so important is that you’re ultimately improving both your page speed and your Optimization Score — and while FCP/DCL metrics don’t currently impact ranking in any significant way, a Page Speed study we conducted in July proves that Optimization Score does.

average web page

Plus, faster sites have lower bounce rates and higher conversion rates. There’s really no downside to optimizing your website and delivering a faster user experience.

Here’s the short and sweet version of the nine advanced tips I covered in-depth in September:

Limit redirects

Each page should have no more than one redirect. When redirects must be used, use 301 for permanent redirects and 302 for temporary redirects.

Enable compression

Eliminate unnecessary data whenever possible. When it’s not possible, use a tool like Gzip or Brotli to compress content and reduce file size. Remember to use different techniques for different resources.

Reduce server response time to less than 200ms

Using HTTP/2 can give your site a site a performance boost and enabling OCSP stapling can speed up your TLS handshakes. You can also improve site speed by leveraging resource hints and by supporting both IPv6 and IPv4.

Set up a caching policy

Use browser caching to control how and for how long a browser can cache a response (according to Google’s optimal cache-control policy). Also, use Etags to enable efficient revalidations.

Minify resources

Use minification to strip unnecessary code from all of your assets, including CSS, HTML, JavaScript, images and videos.

Optimize your images

Images account for 60 percent of the average web page’s size. A few of the simpler tips: pick the best raster formats for your images, eliminate unnecessary image resources, and try to make sure that all images are compressed, resized, and scaled to fit display sizes.

Optimize CSS delivery

Inline small CSS files directly into the HTML document (just don’t inline large CSS files or CSS attributes on HTML elements).

Stay within the above-the-fold congestion window

Prioritize visible content by organizing HTML markup to quickly render above-the-fold content. The size of that content shouldn’t exceed 148kB (compressed). This is especially important for mobile users.

Remove render-blocking JavaScript above the fold

Inline critical scripts and defer non-critical scripts and 3rd party JavaScript libraries until after the fold to decrease rendering time. If you do have JavaScript above the fold, mark your <script> tag as async to ensure that it’s non-render blocking.


Now that you have a springboard to help you jump into the deep-end of technical SEO improvements, it’s time to start thinking about how you can use SEO to optimize your content and link profiles, as well as improve server-side latency. From migrating your website to an HTTPS domain to robust keyword research to optimizing H1 tags, there’s no end to the improvements you can make.