Search Engine Secret Sauce

The world of Local Search is an ever-shifting landscape. Sometimes it’s lollipops and gumdrops, and other times it’s a war-torn wasteland straight out of a video game.

While it’s always interesting, it can feel like the earth is moving out from under your feet. In this entry, we’ve collected some tried-and-true advice for our Partners on how to keep your head above water — no matter what’s going on around you.

Invest in Good HTML

No matter what kind of website you’re managing, if it’s a crummy site, no amount of wizardry, paid search, or clickbait titles are going to get people to stay and hear your message. Invest in good HTML, from a tried and true web designer. And, in turn, make sure that you yourself are passably familiar with web page encoding. It might seem like a huge investment, but the payoff is vast. Aside from being able to make small tweaks on the fly, even a passing understanding of HTML will allow you to look at the work a web designer is doing and know if it’s good, bad, and/or a SEO nightmare.

Good HTML also means good SEO practices from the ground up. Use title and meta tags, render as much relevant information in Schema, and make sure everything is indexed in a central site map. Having the strongest skeleton from the get-go will prevent mistakes and ensure high-quality traffic.

And remember that most basic of user experience rules: no more than three taps/clicks to information.

Leverage Rich Media

Content like videos, images, and other multimedia assets can enhance and extend a user’s time on site. Crawlers, too, often like to see varied, regularly-refreshed rich media content with all of the appropriate tags and descriptions.

Many times, a 1,000-word blog post becomes a far more digestible 30-second video. Other times, interminable paragraphs of text become clearer as an infographic. Experiment with different ways to present information to find one that both fits the brand you’re representing (in the case of our Partners, they may be representing either themselves or their client) and also ensures understanding of the most important and relevant ideas.

According to Search Engine Journal, regular content updates serve two purposes.

First, it signals to the search engines that your website is a reliable source for information. Second, it gives your website visitors something new to engage with every time they visit. […] Also, it gives you fresh content to share on your social media profiles, keeping your followers engaged Ė and coming back to your website.

We know that crawlers are more likely to return to a website if there’s a history of frequent updates. Ensure that your website is “seen” by the search engines in its more recent incarnation as often as possible. Nothing less can ensure accurate location information.

Write for an Audience

This last one might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s actually probably the most important item here. Write for an audience, a specific person. If you’re trying to find someone who’s a social sharer, write a post with a “clickbait” title paired with real nuance that they’ll share, but keep the piece focused. By contrast, if you want an exec, you’ll want to have illustrations — graphs, charts, and/or infographics laid out in readable fonts and short points.

Writing for the search engine, however, is a no-no. In essence, this becomes keyword-stuffing, a practice long since known to invite only penalties in the long term. A good SEO strategy is looking beyond the next week or month or quarter. SEO is earned over time; going for the low-hanging fruit every time could irreparably damage your clients’ standing in search. Be smart, and in turn aim for a smart readership.

Further Reading