The Guide to Building Linked Unstructured Citations for Local SEO
Posted by MiriamEllisThis article was written jointly in partnership with Kameron Jenkins. You can enjoy her previous articles here.When you’ve accomplished step one in your local search marketing, how do you take step two?
You already know that any local business you market has to have the table stakes of accurate structured citations on major platforms like Facebook, Yelp, Infogroup, Acxiom, and YP.
But what can local SEO practitioners do once they’ve got these formal listings created and a system in place for managing them? Our customers often come to us once they’ve gotten well underway with Moz Local and ask, “What’s next? What can I do to move the needle?” This blog post will give you the actionable strategy and a complete step-by-step tutorial to answer this important question.
A quick refresher on citationsListings on formal directories are called “structured citations.” When other types of platforms (like online news, blogs, best-of lists, etc.) reference a local business’ complete or partial contact information, that’s called an “unstructured citation.” And the best unstructured citations of all include links, of course!
For example, the San Francisco branch of a natural foods grocery store gets a linked unstructured citation from a major medical center in their city via a blog post about stocking a pantry with the right ingredients for healthier eating. Google and consumers encounter this reference and understand that trust and authority are being conveyed and earned.
The more often websites that are relevant to your location or industry link to you within their own content, the better your chances of ranking well in Google’s organic and local search engine results.
Why linked unstructured citations are growing in importance right nowLink building is as old as organic SEO. Structured citation building is as old as local SEO. Both practices have long sought to influence Google rankings. But a close read of the local search marketing community these days points up an increasing emphasis on the value of unstructured citations. In fact, local links were one of the top three takeaways from the 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors survey. Why is this?

Google has become the dominant force in local consumer experiences, keeping as many actions as possible within their own interface instead of sending searchers to company websites. Because links influence...
7 Search Ranking Factors Analyzed: A Follow-Up Study
Posted by Jeff_BakerGrab yourself a cup of coffee (or two) and buckle up, because we’re doing maths today.
Again.
Back it on up...A quick refresher from last time: I pulled data from 50 keyword-targeted articles written on Brafton’s blog between January and June of 2018.
We used a technique of writing these articles published earlier on Moz that generates some seriously awesome results (we’re talking more than doubling our organic traffic in the last six months, but we will get to that in another publication).
We pulled this data again… Only I updated and reran all the data manually, doubling the dataset. No APIs. My brain is Swiss cheese.

We wanted to see how newly written, original content performs over time, and which factors may have impacted that performance.
Why do this the hard way, dude? “Why not just pull hundreds (or thousands!) of data points from search results to broaden your dataset?”, you might be thinking. It’s been done successfully quite a few times!
Trust me, I was thinking the same thing while weeping tears into my keyboard.
The answer was simple: I wanted to do something different from the massive aggregate studies. I wanted a level of control over as many potentially influential variables as possible.
By using our own data, the study benefited from:

The same root Domain Authority across all content.
Similar individual URL link profiles (some laughs on that later).
Known original publish dates and without reoptimization efforts or tinkering.
Known original keyword targets for each blog (rather than guessing).
Known and consistent content depth/quality scores (MarketMuse).
Similar content writing techniques for targeting specific keywords for each blog.
You will never eliminate the possibility of misinterpreting correlation as causation. But controlling some of the variables can help.
As Rand once said in a Whiteboard Friday, “Correlation does not imply causation (but it sure is a hint).”
Caveat:

What we gained in control, we lost in sample size. A sample size of 96 is much less useful than ten thousand, or a hundred thousand. So look at the data carefully and use discretion when considering the ranking factors you find most likely to be true.
This resource can help gauge the confidence you should put into each Pearson Correlation value. Generally, the stronger the relationship, the smaller sample size needed to be be confident in...
Local Search Ranking Factors 2018: Local Today, Key Takeaways, and the Future
Posted by WhitesparkIn the past year, local SEO has run at a startling and near-constant pace of change. From an explosion of new Google My Business features to an ever-increasing emphasis on the importance of reviews, it's almost too much to keep up with. In today's Whiteboard Friday, we welcome our friend Darren Shaw to explain what local is like today, dive into the key takeaways from his 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors survey, and offer us a glimpse into the future according to the local SEO experts.



Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!
Video TranscriptionHowdy, Moz fans. I'm Darren Shaw from Whitespark, and today I want to talk to you about the local search ranking factors. So this is a survey that David Mihm has run for the past like 10 years. Last year, I took it over, and it's a survey of the top local search practitioners, about 40 of them. They all contribute their answers, and I aggregate the data and say what's driving local search. So this is what the opinion of the local search practitioners is, and I'll kind of break it down for you.
Local search todaySo these are the results of this year's survey. We had Google My Business factors at about 25%. That was the biggest piece of the pie. We have review factors at 15%, links at 16%, on-page factors at 14%, behavioral at 10%, citations at 11%, personalization and social at 6% and 3%. So that's basically the makeup of the local search algorithm today, based on the opinions of the people that participated in the survey.

The big story this year is Google My Business. Google My Business factors are way up, compared to last year, a 32% increase in Google My Business signals. I'll talk about that a little bit more over in the takeaways. Review signals are also up, so more emphasis on reviews this year from the practitioners. Citation signals are down again, and that makes sense. They continue to decline I think for a number of reasons. They used to be the go-to factor for local search. You just built out as many citations as you could. Now the local search algorithm is so much more complicated and there's so much more to it that it's being diluted by all of the other factors. Plus it used to be a real competitive difference-maker. Now it's not, because everyone is pretty much getting citations. They're considered table stakes now. By seeing a drop here...
Five Quick SEO Tips for Optimizing Your Product Descriptions
So you’ve optimized your ecommerce site’s Home page and main category pages for relevant keywords, and your on-page content is compelling. Nice job! The Home page and category pages are some of the fundamentals of on-site SEO, and optimizing these first will draw visitors looking for a wide funnel of your items. However, before you decide you’re done with your on-site content and move on to the weird and wacky world of off-site, you have one last monster to tackle: product page optimization.
Since many ecommerce sites sell hundreds or even thousands of products, optimizing each product description for SEO can feel as daunting as it is critical. Start with the following five tips, and your products will be searchable superstars in no time.

Duplicating content from other websites — yes, even product descriptions — will put you on the train to Penalty Town.

1. Ditch the Manufacturer-Written Product Descriptions
This is perhaps the most important item on this list, and it’s also the biggest trouble spot for the ecommerce industry at large. You already know that having no content on your product pages is, well, a “no.” Users rely on product descriptions to learn about the item and make an informed decision. So rather than send their users off with no information and an inability to make a purchase, many ecommerce sites rely on manufacturer descriptions, which contain all the relevant product information they need in one easy cut-and-paste package. Unfortunately, duplicating content from other websites — yes, even product descriptions — will put you on the train to Penalty Town. Instead:
2. Create Unique, Conversion-Focused Content for Each One of Your Products
Manufacturer descriptions usually aren’t written with conversions in mind. As you begin writing your own product descriptions, think about what would compel your customer to purchase the product. What can it uniquely offer them? How can it make their life better or easier? What features does the product provide that similar products don’t? Does your shop offer the product at a lower price than the competition, or provide other incentives like free shipping? Try a few different calls to action and description styles, varying your word count, to see which type and amount of copy converts the best.

Try a few different calls to action and description styles, varying your word count, to see which type and...
The State of Local SEO: Industry Insights for a Successful 2019
Posted by MiriamEllisA thousand thanks to the 1,411 respondents who gave of their time and knowledge in contributing to this major survey! You’ve created a vivid image of what real-life, everyday local search marketers and local business owners are observing on a day-to-day basis, what strategies are working for them right now, and where some frankly stunning opportunities for improvement reside. Now, we’re ready to share your insights into:

Google Updates
Citations
Reviews
Company infrastructure
Tool usage
And a great deal more...
This survey pooled the observations of everyone from people working to market a single small business, to agency marketers with large local business clients:

Respondents who self-selected as not marketing a local business were filtered from further survey results.
Thanks to you, this free report is a window into the industry. Bring these statistics to teammates and clients to earn the buy-in you need to effectively reach local consumers in 2019.
Get the full reportThere are so many stories here worthy of your time
Let’s pick just one, to give a sense of the industry intelligence you’ll access in this report. Likely you’ve now seen the Local Search Ranking Factors 2018 Survey, undertaken by Whitespark in conjunction with Moz. In that poll of experts, we saw Google My Business signals being cited as the most influential local ranking component. But what was #2? Link building.
You might come away from that excellent survey believing that, since link building is so important, all local businesses must be doing it. But not so. The State of the Local SEO Industry Report reveals that:
When asked what’s working best for them as a method for earning links, 35% of local businesses and their marketers admitted to having no link building strategy in place at all:

And that, Moz friends, is what opportunity looks like. Get your meaningful local link building strategy in place in the new year, and prepare to leave ⅓ of your competitors behind, wondering how you surpassed them in the local and organic results.
The full report contains 30+ findings like this one. Rivet the attention of decision-makers at your agency, quote persuasive statistics to hesitant clients, and share this report with teammates who need to be brought up to industry speed. When read in tandem with the Local Search Ranking Factors survey, this report will help your...
Using a New Correlation Model to Predict Future Rankings with Page Authority
Posted by rjonesx.Correlation studies have been a staple of the search engine optimization community for many years. Each time a new study is released, a chorus of naysayers seem to come magically out of the woodwork to remind us of the one thing they remember from high school statistics — that "correlation doesn't mean causation." They are, of course, right in their protestations and, to their credit, an unfortunate number of times it seems that those conducting the correlation studies have forgotten this simple aphorism.

We collect a search result. We then order the results based on different metrics like the number of links. Finally, we compare the orders of the original search results with those produced by the different metrics. The closer they are, the higher the correlation between the two.That being said, correlation studies are not altogether fruitless simply because they don't necessarily uncover causal relationships (ie: actual ranking factors). What correlation studies discover or confirm are correlates. Correlates are simply measurements that share some relationship with the independent variable (in this case, the order of search results on a page). For example, we know that backlink counts are correlates of rank order. We also know that social shares are correlates of rank order.
Correlation studies also provide us with direction of the relationship. For example, ice cream sales are positive correlates with temperature and winter jackets are negative correlates with temperature — that is to say, when the temperature goes up, ice cream sales go up but winter jacket sales go down.
Finally, correlation studies can help us rule out proposed ranking factors. This is often overlooked, but it is an incredibly important part of correlation studies. Research that provides a negative result is often just as valuable as research that yields a positive result. We've been able to rule out many types of potential factors — like keyword density and the meta keywords tag — using correlation studies.
Unfortunately, the value of correlation studies tends to end there. In particular, we still want to know whether a correlate causes the rankings or is spurious. Spurious is just a fancy sounding word for "false" or "fake." A good example of a spurious relationship would be that ice cream sales cause an increase in drownings. In reality, the heat of the summer...
Product Image Optimization Tips for Better SEO and UX
Product image optimization is one of the most overlooked areas whens it comes to adding products and driving sales of your ecommerce business, and I completely get it.  It can seem a little daunting at first.  What’s the best size for my images?  What file type should I use? How do I upload an image without compromising its quality?  Just take a deep breath and don’t worry, it’s actually really easy.  I’m going to show you some great tips and tricks to easily optimize your images to get the best results.
With properly optimized images you can:

Improve your SEO and search engine rankings
Increase the load time for your site
Improve your website’s performance and usability
See an increase is sales and revenue

So let’s get started.
Start with the Best Images
Since your customers can't see your merchandise in person, having quality product photos is the next best thing. So, being sure to start with the best possible image is step number one.
For your products, there are two types of files to choose from when uploading your images, JPEG and GIF.  Let’s take a look their qualities and so you can better determine which file type to start with.



JPEG (or .jpg) has become the standard, goto file type for product images and for good reason.  JPEGs have a lot of great qualities like the ability to be compressed, which reduces the file size without compromising quality.  They can also show great detail without becoming a massive file.



GIFs (or .gif) don’t quite have the same quality as JPEGs.  GIFs tend to be used more for graphical elements like icons and design pieces.  GIFs do have a really cool feature which allows them to be animated, but that also bumps the files size up considerably.  In regards to image optimization, GIFs are not the best for large images where you want to see the product details.  GIFs are better suited for simple images used on your site.
Now that we’ve got that down, let’s see how we can push things further and create images that that are more than just skin deep.
Optimizing Your Images for SEO
It’s important to take advantage of every opportunity to boost your search rankings and the way you name your images can have a big impact on the SEO quality of your product pages.



It’s easy to just simply keep the name your camera assigns your image.  Maybe it looks something like “DSC141002.jpg”.  Does that look familiar?  Yea,...
What to Do with Your Old Blog Posts
Posted by -LaurelTaylor-Around 2005 or so, corporate blogs became the thing to do. Big players in the business world touted that such platforms could “drive swarms of traffic to your main website, generate more product sales” and even “create an additional stream of advertising income” (Entrepreneur Magazine circa 2006). With promises like that, what marketer or exec wouldn’t jump on the blog bandwagon?Unfortunately, initial forays into branded content did not always dwell on minor issues like “quality” or “entertainment,” instead focusing on sheer bulk and, of course, all the keywords. Now we have learned better, and many corporate blogs are less prolific and offer more value. But on some sites, behind many, many “next page” clicks, this old content can still be found lurking in the background.This active company blog still features over 900 pages of posts dating back to 2006This situation leaves current SEOs and content teams in a bit of a pickle. What should you do if your site has excessive quantities of old blog posts? Are they okay just sitting there? Do you need to do something about them?Why bother addressing old blog posts?On many sites, the sheer number of pages are the biggest reason to consider improving or scaling back old content. If past content managers chose quantity over quality, heaps of old posts eventually get buried, all evergreen topics have been written about before, and it becomes increasingly harder to keep inventory of your content.From a technical perspective, depending on the scale of the old content you're dealing with, pruning back the number of pages that you put forward can help increase your crawl efficiency. If Google has to crawl 1,000 URLs to find 100 good pieces of content, they are going to take note and not spend as much time combing through your content in the future. From a marketing perspective, your content represents your brand, and improving the set of content that you put forward helps shape the way customers see you as an authority in your space. Optimizing and curating your existing content can give your collection of content a clearer topical focus, makes it more easily discoverable, and ensures that it provides value for users and the business.Zooming out for a second to look at this from a higher level: If you've already decided that it's worth investing in blog content for your company, it’s worth...
What SEOs Can Learn from AdWords - Whiteboard Friday
Posted by DiTomasoOrganic and paid search aren't always at odds; there are times when there's benefit in knowing how they work together. Taking the time to know the ins and outs of AdWords can improve your rankings and on-site experience. In today's edition of Whiteboard Friday, our fabulous guest host Dana DiTomaso explains how SEOs can improve their game by taking cues from paid search in this Whiteboard Friday.




Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!
Video TranscriptionHi, my name is Dana DiTomaso. I'm President and Partner at Kick Point, and one of the things that we do at Kick Point is we do both SEO and paid. One of the things that's really useful is when SEO and paid work together. But what's even better is when SEOs can learn from paid to make their stuff better.
One of the things that is great about AdWords or Google Ads — whenever you're watching this, it may be called one thing or the other — is that you can learn a lot from what has a high click-through rate, what performs well in paid, and paid is way faster than waiting for Google to catch up to the awesome title tags you've written or the new link building that you've done to see how it's going to perform. So I'm going to talk about four things today that you can learn from AdWords, and really these are easy things to get into in AdWords.
Don't be intimidated by the interface. You can probably just get in there and look at it yourself, or talk to your AdWords person. I bet they'd be really excited that you know what a callout extension is. So we're going to start up here. 1. Negative keywordsThe first thing is negative keywords. Negative keywords, obviously really important. You don't want to show up for things that you shouldn't be showing up for.
Often when we need to take over an AdWords account, there aren't a lot of negative keywords. But if it's a well-managed account, there are probably lots of negatives that have been added there over time. What you want to look at is if there's poor word association. So in your industry, cheap, free, jobs, and then things like reviews and coupons, if these are really popular search phrases, then maybe this is something you need to create content for or you need to think about how your service is presented in your industry.
Then what you can do to change that is to see if there's something different that...

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