Archive for Local Search Engine Marketing

Online Marketing Sutherland Shire: Advice For Local Business Owners

In this – I have to say – horribly staged / canned video, Koozai’s Digital Marketing Manger talks very sensibly about local SEO and  how you can use it to work for you.  It might be staged but it’s still worth a watch if you are trying to create a local presence here in the Shire.  Skip to about 10mins in to save your time.

They cover;

  • Local Google SEO On-Page Techniques
  • Local Listings and Link Building
  • Social Media — How this can help with Local Google SEO
  • How to gain online reviews
  • Citations — What they are and how to get them
  • The “Don’ts” of Local Google SEO

Read More→

Sutherland Shire SEO: 11 Key Tactics The Pros Use

Why Sutherland Shire Businesses Need SEO

Are you running a Sutherland Shire business? Are you always looking for local customers?

You could be operating a local retail store in Gymea or Cronulla or you could be offering professional services like the doctors, dentists or lawyers do in Miranda.

It’s hard to know what to do with your online marketing – I struggle at times too. You probably know you need to do something because the good old yellow pages just doesn’t work anymore. But you don’t want waste your time and money doing stuff that does not work either.

Getting It Wrong Can Cost You

If you do the wrong thing, you could end up:

  • Putting money into you Sutherland Shire SEO using overseas link builders who know nothing about the Sutherland Shire area. Read why old style link building is dead.
  • Wasting time and effort creating a Twitter or Pinterest profile and getting a whole 1000’s of followers only to find they are all based in the USA and can’t buy from you.
  • Creating pages on your website  only to find that there are no searchers looking for those terms misleading keywords analysis or worse still not doing any keyword analysis. I recently spoke with someone who wanted to target the search term “cloud computing Cronulla” but there was clearly no traffic for that search term at the time.
  • Going after broad competitive keywords that seem useful, only to find it’s expensive to get traction and then discovering you actually merely get 1-2% of your total visits for that term.

Business Owners Are Deluged With Offers For SEO

Call Centre

Business owners get regular telemarketing calls

A recent survey by Bright Local in the US found that business owners were bombarded with offers.  When asked “ How many times per week are you emailed/called by an internet marketing or SEO company wanting to sell you their services?” The findings were worrying:

  • 35% of  SMBs are contacted every day by a search agency.
  • 57% of SMBs are contacted at least 2-3 times per week by a search agency.

The vast majority of SMBs are contacted by prospecting marketing /SEO companies on a weekly basis – one of my clients as contacted 7 times in one day recently. Do you feel hounded by these ‘customer-hungry’ agencies. What about that calls -are they irritating? I’m not surprised if you do…I find them irritating.

Remember most of these offers are likely dangerous to your online health. I’ve written a post about link building tactics you should avoid here.

There’s No Real Escape – You Do Need To Do Local SEO

If you have a physical address in the Sutherland Shire and expect people to go there, you should be doing SEO for that location. Most business owners will be able to increase sales with the right type of SEO strategy.

Here are 11 SEO tactics that nearly always a good investment in future lead and sales growth for a local business and practically guarantee a reliable outcome – nothing is certain in SEO.

1. Local Keyword Testing and Strategy

Focusing on keywords is as slightly over done activity, but it is a high ROI tactic. Rankings for the best keywords can really help your business effectiveness, and if you don’t get it bang on, you can miss out on a lot of leads and sales. The first thing you need to do is work out broadly what search terms Shire people might use to find a business such as yours.

Until recently, you could get this data from Google analytics. However, Google has stopped showing this information in Google analytics. It is still accessible and Google Webmaster tools and the AdWords keyword planner.

Do a survey

One way to get the information is to ask your customers the kind of search terms they use to find you if they didn’t use your business name.

So let’s say you’re an accountant in Miranda. During the conversation with your clients, it’s well worthwhile to ask what search terms they might type into Google find a business such as yours. You would find the expected terms such as “accountant Miranda” but you might just as well find terms like “cost of accounting for small business,” “top tax accountant in Miranda” and “ Sutherland Shire forensic accounting.” Build on this list with some brainstorming or tag the phrases offered with local suburbs to develop more search terms.

Once you know this, it’s a simple matter of going to Google and searching for those terms in seeing if you show up. Hopefully, you do.

Test the terms with AdWords

If you are uncertain if there is any traffic for a search term, you can easily test these phrases with some AdWords advertising. You don’t need to spend a bomb here, but it might be worth it to save chasing after keyword phrases with no search traffic.

2. Blogging

Once you know the keywords your customers use – write about them and related topics on your blog. Adding regular blog posts to your site has several positive impacts:

  1. It increases the total size of your site and it’s authority.
  2. It means it your site will be found for more keywords as your content reach increases
  3. You will attract more traffic from both of the above.

3. Know What’s Going On With Your Website

Make sure your website has Google analytics tracking set up in it. Google analytics is free, and it’s daft not to have a website so can understand what’s going on and was traffic is visiting the website. Even so, when I searched “accountants Miranda” and look at the first seven sites on the page 3 of 7 didn’t have Google analytics installed.

Ask your Webmaster if they have installed Google analytics on your website and get regular reports about the traffic coming to your site. It is also helpful install Google’s tag manager because it allows you to track much more easily, what is going on as people visit the website. Here’s Google’s info about Tag Manager

Particularly, it allows you to track events that happen on the website. Events are things such as clicks, video views and downloads. It can be helpful to understand the effectiveness of elements of your website, sales pages and the like. It’s a little complex to set up. Here are a couple of useful  links.

Furthermore, you should set goals for your website like the number of phone calls generated from the website, the number of contact requests or product sales generated from the website. You can set up goals and values within Google analytics and get reports on them regularly.

Here’s how this comes together use an example from the Cronulla Day Spa – which is set up pretty well for this.

Cronulla Dayn Spa - Goals And Events

Events and Goals on the Cronulla Day Spa Site

You could use Google Tag manager to track the number of external clicks to the respective social media sites of the Day Spa. In addition, the business could set up a goal in analytics to track the number of people who have entered their email address and subscribed to the email list. This would help them to figure out  if adding an offer to the heading such as “subscribe to get special offers” increases the subscription rate. It’s a great way of testing.

For sites such as this who offer online sales, it it also very useful to create a sales funnel to track the success rate of the shopping process as per the diagram below – the measured goal would be the the number and value of sales of Gift Vouchers.


an example of a sales funnel

An example of a sales funnel for Gift voucher sales on the Cronulla Day Spa site

Having baseline information allows you to make changes to the site in the data oriented way so that you can improve sales. You can see that knowing the ratio of people who add to cart vs. those who finally purchase gives you a great opportunity to test alternative approaches to checking out.

Information is power.


Address Technical Issues

4. Speed Up Your Site

The speed your pages load is an important issue these days. Google uses it as a ranking factor.

How long does it take for your site to load the first time?  Check it sometime when you are not in the office where it will load more quickly due to caching.

Slow to load is likely to annoy many of your web visitors. Cable, video and high speed mobile have all increased people’s expectation of how fast your site loads. Google’s own research reports that people consider sites to be slow when they take more than two seconds to load. Is you slow reducing your overall search engine ranking and your sales?

Some great tools for testing out site speed and deciding what to change are: Google’s own page speed tool, Yahoo’s Y Slow browser add-on for Firefox or Chrome and site-speed testing tool from which has the advantage of testing the speed of loading locally in Sydney.

I put my business website through one of the tools and this as a result I got. You can see that it shows me exactly where I should be improving:

Website Result for Online Business Builders

Website Speed Test Result for Online Business Builders


Using these tools you can easily find out if your site is slower than average and what is causing it. You can see that this page loads fairly quickly, and that it can be improved by caching, using as content distribution network and better managing the social media icon downloads.

5. Other Technical Issues

There are other technical issues that can cause problems with your website.

Make sure that you have set the domain version for your website. For example, search engines see www and non-www versions of the same pages as different pages – and they can be seen as duplicate content . This is easy to check, just enter into the browser and see what returns and then try it again without the www at the beginning. An example of this is and there are basically two duplicate pages and this is not helping the companies SEO.

Other techie things that can be worthwhile:

  • Check your content for flash or iframes and get rid of them if you can. If you have a lot of these on your website can restrict crawling by the search engine spiders.
  • Make sure that you are using static URLs and that your URLs are not too long.
  • Check for broken links on your site and get them fixed.
  • Create and upload a valid XML site map and submit it to Google Webmaster tools and Bing Webmaster tools.

One good way checking for all these issues is to run your website through the Screaming Frog SEO Spider analysis tool. You can use it free for a few times, but it does not allow you to save your output.

Whilst it’s vital that you incorporate links coming to your website, don’t spam. By taking an ethical route to your Search engine marketing tactics, you’re sure to enjoy significant gains over the long haul.

6. On-Page SEO Factors

You might also benefit from these additional tactics that improve how search engines view your web pages:

  1. The page needs to have good content that supplies a demand (answers the question your searcher is typing into Google). Supplying an internet marketing demand can involve a video, image or sound, and text. If the content does a good job as meeting the demand, then Google is going to rank it well. Is the content on your website the best answer to your searcher’s question?
  2. The good content needs to be linkable. Visitors need to be able to link to or share the content on the website. A web page with content that gets links, and shares is likely be ranked higher and dive more traffic to your site.
  3. The page needs a title tag – often called a meta title tag. This is the second most important on-page factors for a web page. Search engines use title tags for ranking purposes as well.
  4. The page URL must clearly show a hierarchy of information on the page. A hierarchy of information is used to determine the relevancy of the web page by the search engines that are reading the page.
  5. Where you use images on your pages, make sure they have keywords in the names – not DSC110203 etc. . Also use the Alt-image tag and caption to describe the image. Make sure the image is described in context – much as I have above.
  6. If you use video, make sure you use a video site map to tell Google what the image is about.
  7. A good web page will have unique content, cover specific bit of information with a lot of depth, and link back to its category page or home page.

7. Use Schema Mark Up

On-page mark up permits Google to appreciate the information on your web page and deliver richer search engine results to users. This makes it simpler for individuals to get relevant facts online. Mark up even enables new tools and applications that make use of the structure.

Commonly used Schema are:

There are lots of other things people are able to mark up but these are the main ones that apply to local business.

8. Claim and Optimise Your Google Local Listing

Many of the elements that are pertinent to national SEO are also applicable to local SEO. One important thing to do is to use your business name and address consistently across the web. First, decide on a standard format for your business name, address and phone number. Then, make sure you use it on every page of your website.

Use that same format in your Google local listing and complete it fully.

Use your city, and suburb names in your websites title tags, meta description and in the content of our site. I’ve already mentioned Schema mark up – use that for getting your local business details listed on your website. Yoast’s local SEO plugin does a great job of this if you have a WordPress website. It also adds some other mark up to your site such as KML files, Google maps and opening hours.

Find some local directories in your area. Websites such True Local, and You can find them fairly easily by entering the phone number or address of a few competitors into Google search with double quotes around them to get exact match results of the places your competitors are already listed.

Searching for local directories

How to search for a phone number in ” ” to reveal local directories.

So if you wanted so see all the listings for the, you would find their phone number on Google (who uses yellow pages?) And then enter “(02) 9526 1881” into Google Search. These results show all the listings they have online. If you are in the same or similar market, this list will give you a good starter for directories that you could develop your own listings.

Just make sure you use that same name, address and phone profile you developed to complete the  local listings.

9. Get Customer Reviews

Get your customers to provide online reviews – especially on your Google Local presence. Reviews help boost the ranking of your local listing so it shows up higher in the suburb search. It also helps it show in related suburbs. If your happy customer has a smart phone, get them to put in a review via the Google maps app. Open maps, search for your business name, select the name and scroll down to rate and review and leave a rating – it’s that easy. If they do it any other way, they will need to do it via Google + which makes it more complicated. Here’s how local hair and beauty salon Jamie Carroll might collect reviews from customers via their own smart phone.

How to get reviews on a smart phone

How to get Google Local reviews via a smart phone.


10. Mobilise Your Site For Better Searcher Experience

Given the relative importance of mobile search these days, there are three things you critically need to take care of in relation to mobile.

Your website needs to be able to be seen in mobile browsers, either as a specific standalone, mobile site or a responsive site which flexes for into different shapes based on the browser version used to look at the site:

  • Desktop
  • Tablet
  • Smart phone

As previously mentioned you need to get onto Google+ Local because it’s these sites that Google shows first for people searching for businesses such as yours on a mobile.

You should also make sure your ads are showing up properly on mobile. If you are using AdWords, for example, you need to set your mobile bids correctly based on the likelihood of a sale. For some industries such as cafes, or restaurants, a mobile caller could be of more value then a desktop called.

Coupled with this, you need to make sure that your landing pages are also good to look at on a smart phone.

I just searched for electricians Jannali on my phone, and you can see the results show that AdWords and Google Places listings show up first.

Screen shot from the Jannali Electricians search on mobile

The search result for the Jannali Electricians mobile search

However, an electrician who sets their site up correctly is going to get most of the business. The first two site from B’Bright Electrical and  OptiLink are not mobile responsive as you can see in the images below. This makes it difficult for a searcher to even find out about the business. The other three listings in Google Places are not connected to a website at all and offer the searcher no information to help them in the buying process.

bright electrical



11. Off Page Factors

Off-page factors refer to the text and inbound linking from other web site pages to your business website. This type of off-site factor is more difficult to control – and more rife with spam tactics. Search engines focuses on these off page factors to determine certain relevancy for search results. You can obtain links naturally when your content is shared or others link to what your what you are doing.

  • Here are some ways that you could get useful local online links.
    Offer your expertise to local media
    Interview someone of importance in the community
    Feature an important business or person on your blog
    Give reviews to local business you have patronised – business owners will often refer to them
    Sponsor or help a local charity

These 11 SEO factors will help your business gain more leads and sales in a way that both has a reasonable payback and is safe and effective.   There are plenty of other local SEO tactics…what have you found that works or does not work for that matter?

Getting Your Online Marketing Foundation Right

Intercoiffure headerThis post was originally created as a support item for the participants of the Intercoiffure Congress In Hobart on October 21st.

The post has links to useful “how to” articles that will help you set up your online marketing foundation; your website and your Google Places (or Google + Local) page.

Here is the presentation I gave at the conference.

You will find the social media part of the presentation here.


Lead Generation

If your website isn’t generating sales leads, it’s failing at its job. The smart thing to do in this situation is to fix whatever’s ailing your site.
from Reasons Why Your Website is NOT Generating Leads


Read about the most common mistakes to avoid when designing a site and tips on how to avoid them.

via Common Mistakes to Avoid When Designing Your Website | 3D
So, you have designed and developed a great website and that will attract your users’ attention. Definitely you have made important steps for a successful website.

via 10 Common Onsite SEO Mistakes | Web SEO Analytics

Google Algorithmn Changes

Each year, Google changes its search algorithm around 500–600 times. While most of these changes are minor, Google occasionally rolls out a “major” algorithmic update (such as Google Panda and Google Penguin) that affects search

via Google Algorithm Change History – Moz

On-site SEO

Two great posts from (SEO) Moz about on site SEO.

There are hundreds of “best practices” checklists for just where to put keywords and how you can undertake “on-page optimisation”. Nevertheless, as Google have progressed and as other sources of website traffic such as social networks, referring links, e-mail, blog sites, etc. have become valuable as well as interconnected, the actual nature of just what is “effective” is up for debate.

via A Visual Guide to Keyword Targeting and On-Page Optimization – Moz
What is a Title Tag? A title tag is the main text that describes an online document. It is the second most important on–page SEO element (the most important being overall content), and appears in three key places: browsers, search engine 

via Title Tag – Learn SEOMoz

Google Analytics and Webmasters Tools

This guide covers how to set up GWT in seven easy steps, from creating an account to adding and deleting users and associating your Google Analytics. Step 1 – Google Account To set up Google Webmaster Tools you will 

via Google Webmaster Tools: A Beginner’s Guide to Installation | White

This is a good guide on how to install Google Analytics code on a website and how to connect it to Webmasters Tools

via Google Analytics Training – How to Install Google Analytics Code
Name and Address Profile and Google Places

Google Places for Business is the perfect place to start your SEO campaign — by establishing your business’ identity on Google Places, it can show up in Google searches, Google Maps and Google+ Local. The following guide will help you create your local presence.



Your Businesses Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) should appear in the exact same way in your Yelp, Manta, City Search, YellowBot, and other business listing sites, as it does in your Google Places page


Website Lead Capture

Your leads are only as good as the internet site that creates them. Developing an effective web page that’s created for leads doesn’t have to be frustrating or time-consuming. By looking at some of the very best converting lead generation websites, you can find out specifically what works– and most notably, why.


Mobile Websites

Test your mobile site regularly to make sure your mobile-friendly pages work and do not result in errors or blank pages. Again, if your content is not available in a smartphone-friendly format, it’s better to serve the desktop version of the page than

via For SEO, Mobile Experience Matters – Search Engine Journal
Build a website that showcases your business on every screen from smartphones and tablets to computers and TVs. Your customers expect a great browsing experience regardless of what device they use.
A useful mobile website builder


Google Places Listings

How to claim and set up your Google Places listing.


Confused about how Google Places is different from Google+ Local? You aren’t alone. Do you need one, both, or neither? Google hasn’t made it easy for small, local businesses to understand, and it’s left many frustrated.

via Google Places for Business vs. Google+ Local – Search Engine Watch
In less than 5 minutes, you can get your business listing up and running on the largest search engine out there. Follow these steps to get started, add your listing and get it verified, plus how to optimize your listing so searchers 

via Getting Started With Google Places for Business – Search Engine


Please let me know what else you would like to hear about and your comments about the presentation. If you find it useful, please share.

Four Web-Related “Cons” You Should Avoid

We all hate getting ripped off right? So here’s some advice for local business owners from a   Sutherland Shire SEO company so you can avoid these.

Domain Name Registration Overpricing

I  own and manage many websites, so I’m regularly getting nice posted envelopes like these from the US. Read More→

Just What Is A Landing Page And Why Do You Need One?

Oman - Muscat - Main Highway Light Trail

Image by © Salim Photography/ via Flickr

Following on from my recent posts about the use of landing pages for AdWords search term small business accountant for my local Sydney area, some people have asked me…what is a landing page?

This blog post from the Koozai blog does a pretty good job of explaining just what a landing page is. In short it is a page that you want your visitors to “land” on. Oh and you also want them to act on the offer or value proposition presented on the landing page. Read More→

Small Business Accountant Landing Pages

In part one of this analysis, I looked at the importance of using landing pages in the adwords sales funnel.

We also listed three critical elements of the requirements of a landing page being:

  • Relevance.
  • Clear explanation of the value proposition and offer.
  • An obvious call to action.

In the second part of this analysis, I clicked a few ads for the search term “small business accountant” to see where they lead and then assess the landing pages in relation to the criteria above. Read More→

SEO Link Building Tactics You Should Avoid

Many websites are reeling from the impact of the recently rolled out Google Penguin algorithm update and in Part One of this series, we looked at what has changed recently in link building.

Knowingly or unknowingly, SEO’s and business may be using questionable types of link building methods in their desperate desire to rank highly in the Search Engine Result Pages in the quickest possible time. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Article marketing – Good content is one of the best tools for link building but when duplicate, spun or slightly rewritten articles clutter article directories, they lose their own value and that of the site they are linking to. Google has recently reduced the rankings of many article directories and Google’s Matt Cutts has said that they would rather see your great content on your own site.

Article directories are almost the most effective way to get your content taken by spammers and spread all over the web. These sites may sometimes even out rank you for your own content.

Directory links – If there is a pattern of too many links to and from low quality directories, this could hurt your website especially if the directories exist only for some web masters’ SEO businesses and not as useful resources for web surfers.

Blog comments – Relevant and informative blog comments are good link builders but using automated tools or software and commenting on unrelated blogs is spamming – and will be seen by the search engines to be so.

Social and forum profiles – Creating profiles in social platforms and forums typically include signature links. While signature links after posting comments may send traffic to your website, they are of low quality, not merit based and doomed to be ignored by search engines.

Guest blogging – Acting as a guest blogger or posting your articles on other people’s sites is a good idea. However, you need to be very careful as to what sites they are posted on. You need to ensure they are posted to sites that are related to your topic and that the other posts on that site are consistent. You don’t want your posts appearing on a site about cats if you are in the medical field. And you don’t want your links sitting in amongst others  that have a whole article about cats with an anchor text link to funeral services.

Content spinning – Automatic content spinning produces unreadable and senseless articles and even manual spinning and rewriting does not add any value to the web so the search engines are using sophisticated technology to detect this practice so that the results present in a search engine page are the best. Moreover, mass creation of articles results to a sudden increase in links that can make search engines suspect some form of manipulation.

Link exchanges – Link exchanges are risky because you cannot control the activities of the sites you have agreed to link with. If in the future these sites develop into a bad neighbourhood, your site’s trustworthiness can be compromised.

Private link networks – Most private link networks provide paid links, a practice shunned by Google search engines. These networks exist purely for link building but add little or no value to the web. In fact Google has recently de-indexed many of them.

Paid links – Paid links come in bulk. Improved search engine algorithms plus human review can determine inorganic types of link building techniques when they see surges in the quantity of links but a decline in their quality.

You can’t fall into the trap of Google Penguin if you put serious efforts into knowing and avoiding the types of link building tactics that generate unnatural links. When you are talking to SEO people – or considering one of those spam emails  saying your site is not ranking for important keywords, ask them what they do to build links to your site, and be very careful if any of the ones above are mentioned.

Remember that Google is looking to fill their top pages with high quality sites that are there because their content is great. An indicator to them of great content is the sharing of natural links – not ones manufactured by the SEO industry.

In <A HREF=””>part three</A> of this three part series, we look at questions a business owner should ask of a potential link building provider.

Power Pole Advertising: Website SEO and Online Marketing Review

Recently I found this advertisement nailed to a power pole in Oyster Bay, NSW and it got me to wondering why a business would get involved in this type of activity and what reaction it would have on potential customers.  In this review, names are obscured to protect the innocent as this review is being done to illustrate the issues and help readers rather than to criticise any one or any business.

Firstly, this is a search service.

  • Potential customers are very unlikely to buy the product / service based on convenience.
  • There are a number of attributes of the service that consumers can use to compare one service to another before they buy – much like home loans, insurance and carpentry.

This means it is important to recognise the consumer buying process in the sales funnel.

An advertisement such as this is most likely an attempt to generate some awareness locally as there is a picture of a local business and the phone number shown in the ad.   My ‘straw poll’ of users suggests that the reaction of most consumers would be one of two things when they saw the ad:

  • They would see the activity as cheap and desperate.
  • If they are in the market for removals, they may well go online and search for the name of this business.

As a result, the online presence of this business is important to the overall success of the sales funnel.


The first area of inquiry for an SEO person is the search terms used by consumers to find businesses such as this. We need to determine if there is a sufficient volume of keywords to justify chasing a search engine ranking for specific keywords.  Keyword strategy is the foundation of an online presence.

Even just a cursory look at the keywords using the Google Adwords keyword tool shows that there are significant volumes of keywords for terms such as:

  • removalists  = 8000+ exact match searches per month
  • removalists Sydney  = 4000+ exact match searches per month
  • Sydney removalists  = 500+ exact match searches a month

There are even some search terms relating to local area terms such as “removalist Sutherland shire” and “removalist Cronulla”.  I have not looked at search terms other than removalists related ones,  however, there are clearly enough keywords and sufficient volume to indicate that the hunt is worth the chase for SEO.

Some of these terms are also reflected in this furniture businesses website indicating that these terms are of interest to them and relevant to their business.

Google Places Listing (Google+ Business)

Many businesses will find that they get a great flow of leads and referrals from their Google places listing (now rebranded Google+ Business), so the first thing to review for this business is the quality of their Google places listing.

Here’s what I found.

  1. The listing had been claimed by the business. It’s surprising to me that Google Places has been around for a number of years and at least half of these free listings remain unclaimed by business owners.
  2. The business had added 6-7 of its own pictures to the listing. It is possible to add 10 pictures to the listing and should always be done. It was interesting to note that the site included a picture of “optimised by publicity monster”. However, it was also an interesting note that none of the photos were optimised by naming them with names relevant to the removal business. In fact one was called “Anderson’s removals maffra”, another was called “CB removals”… and both are probably not related directly to this Google Places listing – you can draw your own conclusion as to where these images perhaps came from.  It is always a good idea to name the photos with a combination of the keywords and the local area served. An example here would be “Cronulla removals” or “Sutherland Shire Furniture Removals”.
  3. The categories were all complete, with some local phrases within them.
  4. A notable omission from the Google Places listing was the absence of video. Google allows business owners to embed five videos in their Google Places listing. It is a relatively simple process to convert some photographs and videos using a service like Animoto and then embed them in the Google places listing via YouTube. This all adds weight and value to the Google places listing.
  5. There were a good number  (40+)  of local directory listings.  These local citations add a trust factor to the Google Places listing, and all business owners who want their Google+ Business pages to rank need to build some.
  6. There were no reviews on the Google listing. It’s a relatively easy process to ask customers to post a review at the end of your service delivery process. Google+ Business pages with more reviews are more likely to be boosted to the top of the listing so the exercise is well worth the activity. Add to this the fact that the social proof of positive reviews will massively help your conversion rates – collecting reviews is a really worthwhile activity.

Here’s an example of that effect of reviews on Google places listings for the search “Restaurants Cronulla”. Summer Salt Restaurant has the most reviews and the most complete listing.  It also ranks at the top of the Google Places 7 Pack.

This all suggests that the business is  missing out on a significant volume of impressions and potential leads.  Their Google Places listing could rank better in more suburbs if it was optimised to the fullest extent possible.

Given that this is a free listing and that it often appears on the first page of Google, it is a high ROI marketing activity for every business to take the steps required to fully complete their Google Places listing.

It is unsurprising, then, to find that this business’s Google Places listing does not rank very well – only appearing for 4 search terms.


Website Review

Google Places listings inherit some of the ranking power from the website they are connected to, and of course many consumers would visit the website prior to asking for a quote or buying a service from a business such as this. The website is a cornerstone of a effective online businesses presence.

So there are really two aspects that we are looking at when we review a website’s performance:  its search engine optimisation and its conversion optimisation.

Search Engine Optimisation Elements

Given that the furniture removals business is actually quite competitive from a search engine point of view, it is important that the basics on a website are taken care of from search engine engine perspective.

The good points:

  • The local Sutherland Shire/Cronulla presence was apparent from the copy and some of the images on the site.
  • The website offered some removals tips and a checklist.
  • It was possible to ask for a quote using the form on the website.
  • The phone number was very prominent on the website.
  • There was an attempt to add credibility by showing the Self Storage Association of Australia logo on the website.

This some areas of improvement from a search engine optimisation point of view:

  • The Meta title and Meta description tags were not well optimised. For example the Meta title for the “About Us” page was “About Us” and the Meta title for the “Packing Supplies” page was “Packing Supplies”.  The Meta description was not in written in a way that would generate any clicks from people who were looking at it on search engine result pages.
  • The first image on the page was called “istock……xsmall.jpg” when it was really an opportunity to name it for what it was about.
  • There is no use of the H1, H2 and H3 tags on the pages of the site.  Having keywords in these tags helps the search engines to determine what the site is about.
  • I could not find any Google analytics or tracking code on the pages of the site, suggesting that the owners have very little information about what is actually happening on the website for them to manage the performance of the site.
  • Permalink were not being used for the page URLs.
  • And perhaps worst of all, the exact same website was resolving to two different domain names, creating a duplicate content issue which Google had resolved itself by listing only the storage-related domain name. One would question the value of this, given that the removal-related terms are higher in search volume and probably profit potential. It should also be possible to create two different websites or to separate the silos of content within the existing website into content for the  removals business and content for the storage business. These approaches would improve ranking on the search engines for both. The current solution – one site, two domain names – is having a detrimental effect on one and is not helping the other.
  • The site also has only a hand full of inbound links. Links or backlinks are important to the ranking of a website on the search engine result pages. The ranking of most sites  can be improved by building back links to the website. In the current environment, Google is more aggressive policing the manufacturing of links. Thus  making links by the methods used by many SEO companies just six months ago is prone to failure because Google is discounting the value of these manufactured or in-organic links.
  • There was  no evidence of social media marketing for this site, which could help with the flow of leads to the site, conversion optimisation and inbound link building.

The net result of all of this is that the storage version of the website does not rank very well and that the removalists version of the website does not rank at all. With almost no exposure to the search traffic, the website is like having a brochure in the storage cabinet, and it’s possible the business owners are disappointed with the performance of their website in terms of the amount of business it generates for them.

Conversion optimisation

As already noted, it is good that a prominent phone number is shown on the website and that the website is clearly linked to the local area of the Sutherland Shire. It shows a picture of the premises, noted on the front of the website.

The website also offer free quotes and a offer to beat any credible competitor’s quote. The value of this offer was diminished by the “* conditions apply” get out clause without any clear explanation of what the conditions were.

The design of the website is rather clunky and old-fashioned with a bright blue background and orange and grey colouring. There is also a range of colours and fonts, font decorations and font sizes, leading to the impression that this website may have been made by a kid in the basement. The look/design of the website may be getting in the way of people committing to buying from this business unless they are looking for very cheap services – a low margin area to target either by design or by omission.

If the website had some traffic, and Google analytics were installed, it would be possible to test conversion optimisation opportunities such as changing the colour of the website, changing the style of the homepage of the website and changing the offers made on the homepage of the website.  This would determine which of these created the best look and offer for consumers as judged by consumers.

The conversion from the website could be further optimised by adding testimonials or reviews from past customers – real ones of course! As mentioned above, it is a relatively easy process to collect customer reviews and testimonials at the end of every service delivery, and if incorporated into a satisfaction survey it will provide useful business feed back all round.

Lastly, people do business with people, and I thought adding pictures of the owners of the business in the “About Us” area would significantly enhance conversion.  Also, using video to explain the points of difference of this business, comparing it with all the other furniture removal or self storage businesses in the area, would enhance conversion.


So this gets back to the question of, “Why is this business posting phone numbers on power poles?”

It seems to me that spending the same amount of money they are spending on power pole advertising and possibly other advertising could significantly enhance their online presence through:

  • Better ranking in the Google Places listing, leading to more impressions, clicks and calls.
  • Better ranking for their website leading to more calls, quotes and sales.
  • Higher conversions from customers who hit the website.
  • More leads and sales from social media as we know that people buy via word of mouth.
  • And perhaps more inbound linking from their social media presence as their content is shared around.

But of course I’m talking my own book! What do you think? I’d appreciate your comments and thoughts on this as a small business owner.

How to Leverage Pinterest in your SEM Strategy

How can you use Pinterest to your own advantage to not only create a stronger brand awareness but also to convey a strong and convincing brand message across different social networks? This article will show you… from selecting the right picture to go with your website to increasing your control over the content you share in this platform.

Content marketing is not just about words, it’s about anything and everything that conveys a message to your customer.

Read the full article here:  How to Leverage Pinterest in your SEM Strategy

If you need help with your online business marketing, contact us for a free initial consultation.


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