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How-to-create-long-form-content

How to create long-form content that ranks, gets read and converts

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Creating in-depth content is time-consuming and resource-intensive. Here’s a guide to ensure your long-form content efforts pay off.

There are many questions about content length in SEO and what ranks the best. 

While Google says there’s no specific word count they recommend, some studies have shown that long-form content tends to rank higher than short-form.

If you’re interested in writing long-form content, you probably want to make sure it’s going to rank, get read, and convert so you create an ROI for your effort.

What is long-form content? 

Most consider long-form content to be over 1,000 words. It’s a content piece that goes in-depth, offers extra value for the reader and includes more research, insights, and information than a quick read. 

Long-form content should leave the reader feeling comfortable with the subject and as if their questions have been answered and they know what to do with the information or how it applies to them.

What should you include in long-form content?

You want to create content that helps your reader. Think about them and what they need or want to learn from this piece. What questions do they have? 

It’s your responsibility to anticipate their questions and answer them in your work. If you’re unsure what questions they have, then think about what you want to ensure they know.

Use the following guide questions to identify which information is most important to help them get to the next stage:

  • What do they need to know?
  • Why do they need to know it?
  • What can they do with the information?
  • What baseline information should they know to make this make more sense?
  • What if they don’t have that baseline knowledge already?
  • How does this information impact them?
  • What’s their next step?

Don’t write a bunch of unnecessary fluff to try to hit some word count. 

You must ensure you’re providing value and helping your ideal customer so they want to consume more of your content. 

If you get them to the site but find nothing of value, they’ll be less likely to stay or return another time. 

Write to tell a story and provide value rather than writing to an arbitrary word count. Your content will be better in the long run.

Where do you start when creating long-form content to rank, get read and convert?

To start, make sure there’s a conversion path for your reader. Your content pieces need to tie to your products or services to drive revenue and conversions.

If you’re answering questions for your potential customer and providing helpful information, they’re more likely to convert if you offer a solution to their issues. Be helpful, and link to additional information that might help them move to the next step.

If you have an opt-in that ties to this content piece and is the next step for them, offer it in your work. You’re helping them and building your email list at the same time.

If you want your content to convert, you need to make sure there’s a conversion path. Everything you write needs to somehow tie to your core products and services.

I teach my students to choose content pillars that link to their products and services and write about topics related to those subjects.

Creating a long-form content piece and ranking at the top of Google is great, but if it drives irrelevant traffic, it won’t convert, and that’s a waste of your efforts.

How do you make sure your long-form content ranks?

We all know we have no control over the Google ranking algorithm, but we also know how it works and what’s most important from an optimization standpoint.  

First, verify there’s search demand for your topic idea, choose a keyword (or keywords) you can rank for, write for your audience, and finally, optimize your content piece.

Make sure there’s interest in your topic

Start by making sure there’s an audience for your content piece. 

It may seem like a great idea to you. However, if no one is searching for information on the subject, it’s unlikely that you’ll get much traffic due to low demand. 

That said, search volume is not the most critical factor in choosing a keyword, and we’ll talk more about that.

Brainstorm the topics you think you want to cover, and then go to Google and see what’s there today. 

  • Who’s written on the subject you’re considering using for your content piece? 
  • Is there already information on the topic? 
  • Do you have a new angle, new insights, or something more to add to the conversation? 

If not, this might not be the best topic. Search the topic and see what shows up in Google Suggested Search.

Is there something closely related to your topic that Google suggests, or are there questions related to it in the People Also Ask section? 

If you see your topic idea in either of those places, that’s good because it means there’s interest in your potential topic.

Research keywords

Once you know your topic is viable, use your favorite keyword research tool to identify the keyword or keywords you want to target for this new long-form content piece. 

Long-form pieces can rank for multiple keywords a bit easier than short-form pieces just due to the length of the content piece. 

Choose your keywords wisely. Look for a primary keyword with good search volume and the ability for your website to rank on Page 1.

Choose your keywords

Go to Google and see who’s currently ranking on Page 1 for the keyword you’re considering using as your primary one. 

  • Are the websites similar to yours? 
  • Are they more prominent brands or companies? 
  • How in-depth are the articles? 
  • Can you provide additional insight or value (not just more words) than the sites currently ranking?

If you see other websites similar to yours and content pieces that you feel aren’t as in-depth or are missing information on the topic you want to write about, then you’re probably making a good choice in your keyword selection.

Choose the keyword with the highest search volume that your website has the best chance of ranking for and is the word your Ideal Customer uses when searching for information on this subject.

How to make sure your content gets read

Now it’s time to write. Go back to your brainstorming notes. 

What information do you need to include to answer your readers’ questions?

Be sure you have that information. Sort it in a way that it’s easy to follow and understand so your reader wants to continue. 

A long-form content piece is a time commitment for someone to read.

Thus, you must provide value, insights, statistics, and things that are unique from something else they might have read on the subject before – or they won’t continue reading.

Format your piece in a reader-friendly way. This is especially important with longer pieces. Consider:

  • Using bullets and lists – white space is your friend.
  • Using headers (suitable for SEO and your reader). 
  • Breaking your text up into small, easy-to-read chunks. 
  • Keeping your sentences and paragraphs short.

It’s better to have many small paragraphs broken up with bullets and numbers than big blocks of text. 

People will shy away from reading a piece if the content isn’t formatted in a reader-friendly way.

Your final step is to optimize your content piece

Use your keyword in all of your SEO elements. Make sure it’s in the first paragraph of the copy, which it should be since your keyword is closely tied to your content topic. In most instances, your keyword will be in the title of your piece.

Add your keyword to your URL, image file name, and header tags, and use it throughout your copy. 

Focus on providing value, being helpful, and offering information your ideal customer needs rather than how often you use your keyword. You’ll use it naturally by concentrating on your reader.

Done right, long-form content is worth the investment

Long-form content can be a significant time investment. It takes longer to write in-depth pieces than quick bites or short-form. 

However, the payoffs can be great. Long-form pieces often rank higher in the search results than short pieces. 

And if you’re creating content with an audience, you can rank for and tie to your business, bring relevant traffic to your website, and hopefully, get the conversion. 

It’s worth testing long-form content if you haven’t done it yet. Not every piece you write has to be long, but those most important to your business should be longer and more in-depth.

If you are interested in original article by Rachel Lindteigen you can find it here

Doorway-Pages-SEO-and-Google-600

Doorway pages: An SEO deep dive

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Downplaying doorway pages can get you dinged. Here’s how doorway pages emerged, what Google thinks of them, and tips to avoid penalties.

I have an admission: I once created “doorway pages” on a large scale.

In my defense, this was years before Google existed. And, it was not considered spam in those days. 

Doorway pages might seem like a nebulous concept for some marketers to grasp. Since Google announced that creating such pages was considered illicit practice, there has been some confusion. 

However, such mixups are just as wrong as cloaking in SEO. So read on, and I will explain what doorway pages are, how to watch for them, and what to do about them.

What are doorway pages?

Google defines doorways as:

“…sites or pages created to rank for specific, similar search queries. They lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination.”

They also cite the following examples as doorways:

• Having multiple websites with slight variations to the URL and home page to maximize their reach for any specific query
• Having multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page
• Pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site(s)
• Substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browseable hierarchy

The early days of doorway pages

Doorway pages seemed like a mystical, magical thing back in the earliest days of search engines.

This is partly because, in the advent of the commercialized/public internet, everyone thought that website visitors would only enter your site via the homepage. 

Essentially, visitors would only arrive and enter through the “front door.” This idea led people to obsess over the design of homepages, while the rest of the website was often nearly an afterthought. 

Thus, as search engines absorbed and reflected webpages, it suddenly felt like reaching some high stage of Buddhist-monk-level enlightenment to realize that a website could now have many “front doors” through which visitors would enter.

I did not know what doorway pages were when I thought I invented them circa 1996/1997. Search engines grew first out of curated directories of links, but once pages began being spidered, things changed fast. I had been tasked with increasing traffic to one of Verizon’s biggest websites at the time.

I recognized that the site’s homepage could not be particularly optimized for ~8,000 business categories and ~19,000 cities. I realized that individual pages should be spawned, each optimized to rank for business categories, cities, or combos of both. 

I named my pages “portals” because the whole process seemed almost magical. I was following nearly mystical ritual-like designs in optimizing the pages and experimenting. I imagined I was virtually teleporting people who had a search need for “restaurants in springfield” or “doctors in bellevue” into our website where I would match them up with precisely what they wanted. 

Despite the lack of any guide or formula that talked about such doorways at scale, many others came up with similar solutions, seeking to expand content to match up with growing varieties of user queries in search engines. 

My “portal pages” skunkworks project was a clear success, although it would be some years further before leadership in the company recognized the value and allowed me to deploy the concept beyond my pilot research project.

The rise of doorway pages in search results

When doorway pages were first added to the list of spam practices, there was some degree of hubbub about them, with heavy emphasis expressed by Googlers reinforcing that the use of doorways was contravened. 

Not as much has been said about the topic in the years since. Google appeared to be increasingly circumspect about the imposition of penalties related to the practice and other quality rules. 

The lack of attention brought to doorway pages seemed to cause some marketers to believe that they are not a big deal. 

The typical rationalization is: “Amazon does it, and Google SERPs are full of Amazon, so…” 

Often, these folks employ doorway pages on their own websites.

There has been a spike in lawsuits involving doorway pages in the last six years. I first wrote about this in 2017, “Initial Interest Confusion rears its ugly head once more in trademark infringement case,” where I mentioned an older lawsuit where watch company Multi Time Machine sued Amazon for hosting a search results page for “mtm special ops watches” (and other similar keyword searches that could be related to the watch company’s marks).

Amazon hosted the “MTM special ops watches” page, but only showed search results for other competing products.

Multi Time Machine contended that this could confuse consumers expecting MTM products, which was therefore an infringement.

That suit was eventually dismissed as the court determined that no “reasonably prudent consumer” would be confused about the Amazon page that presented products that would be considerably underpriced for MTM watches.

In yet another case (“Bodum USA, Inc. v. Williams-Sonoma, Inc.”), French press coffee maker manufacturer Bodum sued their former retail partner Williams-Sonoma under similar circumstances.

Williams-Sonoma had sold Bodum products for a time but eventually discontinued selling them, opting instead to manufacture their own branded French press coffee makers.

However, the Bodum search results page on the Williams-Sonoma.com website continued to be maintained, only it now presented Williams-Sonoma products and not Bodum’s.

Thus, the circumstances, including accusations that the products themselves were confusingly similar, were arguably much more confusing than in the Multi Time Machine/Amazon case.

The Bodum v. Williams-Sonoma case settled out of court, with Williams-Sonoma adding a disclaimer to their web results, “We do not sell Bodum branded products.”

I subsequently spoke with the CEO of another company that formerly sold their products through Williams-Sonoma. In a similar sequence, the latter also dropped them, began featuring their own, competing products, and maintained a search results page that used (and ranked for) the dropped company’s brand name.

In Google’s recent overhaul of its Webmaster Guidelines, including renaming them to Google Search Essentials, Google could have easily avoided this category if they were no longer a concern.

Instead, the newly updated Spam Policies section page promotes Doorways to the second-listed contravened practice, right after Cloaking. Google also added another example of Doorways as well.

Google’s take on doorway pages: A brief history

Doorway pages were against the rules very early in Google’s 20-plus-year history. I could find reference to doorway pages in Google’s rules as far back as June 2006 (although I think there may have been a rule in place a little before that):

June 2006: Google Webmaster Guidelines prohibited doorway pages early on.

In a session at the first SMX Advanced conference in 2007,  Google’s former head of web spam Matt Cutts was asked for more descriptive guidelines.

Just a few days later, Vanessa Fox announced on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog that they had expanded on the guidelines, providing more examples, among other things.

The expanded text stated

“Doorway pages are pages specifically made for search engines. Doorway pages contain many links – often several hundred – that are of little to no use to the visitor, and do not contain valuable content. HTML sitemaps are a valuable resource for your visitors, but ensure that these pages of links are easy for your visitors to navigate. If you have a number of links to include, consider organizing them into categories or into multiple pages. But in doing so, ensure that they are intended for visitors to navigate the sections of your site, and not simply for search engines.” 

By 2013, Google’s Webmaster Tools content guidelines section had modified this description, stating:

“Doorway pages are typically large sets of poor-quality pages where each page is optimized for a specific keyword or phrase. In many cases, doorway pages are written to rank for a particular phrase and then funnel users to a single destination. Whether deployed across many domains or established within one domain, doorway pages tend to frustrate users.”

In 2015, Google saw fit to post an article on the Google Search Central Blog, further highlighting what Google disliked about doorway pages and announcing a specific “ranking adjustment” (read: a core update that would penalize doorway pages).

“Over time, we’ve seen sites try to maximize their “search footprint” without adding clear, unique value. These doorway campaigns manifest themselves as pages on a site, as a number of domains, or a combination thereof. To improve the quality of search results for our users, we’ll soon launch a ranking adjustment to better address these types of pages. Sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns might see a broad impact from this change.”

At their best, doorway pages could be an effort to provide navigation between search engines’ results pages and the most granular content within a website. If one had a limited crawl budget, such pages could provide collecting pages for many granular-level, individual website pages. 

But, at their worst, doorway pages could inflate a site’s indexed pages by thousands and millions of pages, lending little value between the various ones and seeking to enable the site to appear for many more searches than the site merited.

Jennifer Slegg’s analysis of the doorway pages ranking adjustment announcement at the time was that it was most likely focused on improving the quality of local search queries and mobile search results.

Indeed, local business directory websites had tried to index their webpages for all category and location combinations. (This was what my early doorway pages were, before the anti-doorway rules got instituted, as I worked for Verizon’s Superpages – one of the largest of the early online yellow pages.)

That said, there is cause to think that local directory sites somewhat get special treatment from Google (as I will describe shortly in the “Types of doorway pages” section below).

Barry Schwartz outright called the “adjustment” a “doorway page penalty algorithm.”

The automated penalty likely made many realize that doorway pages were considered a serious violation of Google’s guidelines.

Websites had been penalized for this in the past, but many believed that if their sites were not currently penalized, then what they were doing was okay in Google’s eyes.

This irrationally founded belief was proven untrue as the doorway page penalty rolled out.

Seven years later, a whole younger, fresh set of organic search marketers have forgotten that doorway pages are a serious violation, just as some did in the past.

This can happen as an oversight in some instances. Other times, SEO marketers can get progressively bolder and more ambitious about expanding indexable pages to the point where they have crossed a boundary. By then, Google detects doorway pages and dings them pretty sharply.

While having even one doorway page is considered against Google’s rules, in truth, doorway page infractions are determined by scale.

Having a few may not cause issues, but a large ratio of them versus meatier pages is far likelier to be detected, resulting in a negative outcome.

Types of doorway pages

Spammy city/region pages

This corresponds to Google’s example of “[h]aving multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page.” 

For instance, imagine a law firm in a small state like New Hampshire:

  • Creating pages targeted to “[legal specialty] in [city name]” with all identical templates having just the city name replaced on each page.
  • The pages all funneling users to a “Contact Us” page.

It would begin to look pretty spammy and repetitive if done for the roughly 234 towns in New Hampshire. 

But, also imagine this sort of thing done with over 19,000 incorporated cities and towns in the United States.

There is cause to think that local businesses for large metro areas implementing this (i.e., targeting the roughly 88 cities of greater Los Angeles or the more than 200 cities of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex) could incur a penalty, particularly if the business did not have a physical address in each targeted city, which would qualify it for having such pages.

Here is an example of a doorway page used by a current international business directory (name redacted).

seattle locla search results

There are clearly some caveats to Google’s algorithmic rules around defining spammy city/region types of pages. 

One can perform a search right now and see local business listings pages from major directory websites like Yelp and Yellow Pages appearing in the top search results for a huge number of business category keywords combined with local city names (e.g., “accountants in poughkeepsie, ny”). 

Sites like neighborhoods.com and nextdoor.com are doing great. If the page shows high-quality, valuable information about each city a website targets, it likely won’t be considered a doorway page. This is a key criterion that many seem to miss when assessing whether doorway pages are policed by Google. 

Now, if you display a page like “Attorneys in New York City”, but the page merely has links to listings for all the boroughs, that would qualify as a doorway page. 

If a user seeks “attorneys in nyc” and clicks on a page that does not contain listings for “attorneys in nyc” but merely links to other pages, then that would be a very poor user experience. 

But, if they clicked on the page and got listings of attorneys, that would not fit in the model of being a doorway page per se. 

You can understand this by searching for “attorneys in nyc.” You will see on the first page of search results listings from Justia, FindLaw, Cornell University attorney listings, Yelp, the New York City Bar Association, Martindale-Hubbell, and Expertise.com.

Microsites

Google does not refer to “microsites” in their guidelines, but this is what the tactic used to be called. 

Google’s current rule states, “Having multiple websites with slight variations to the URL and home page to maximize their reach for any specific query.” 

The concept of microsites was employed more when SEOs noticed that Google seemed to give ranking preference to websites incorporating the keyword in the domain name. 

Imagine if Target.com pursued this. They sell over 3,000 types of products based on their sitemaps file. 

Creating a “subwebsite” for each type of product with links back to their main website to conduct a purchase would have been massively irritating. It would also be largely unnecessary because Google can fully show their existing category pages in search results.

This is an attractive idea for website operators who think this will be a shortcut to successes they failed to achieve by insufficiently optimizing their existing websites.

I have argued with CEOs before about this very thing, telling them that “to successfully employ a microsite, you must market it equivalently to your main website – promote it, advertise it, use social media with it, etc – don’t do it, because nobody markets microsites sufficiently when they create dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of them!” 

You can create a special promotional website for a few things, but you better treat them pretty close to complete, standalone websites to achieve good rankings.

A unique, keyworded URL is insufficient in itself. This is not a shortcut to across-the-board high rankings.

Indexable internal search results pages

Google has stated for many years now that they do not want to index a website’s search results pages as this could be an infinite set of pages, considering all the many keywords that could be used to conduct a search on a website. Search-results-in-search-results is an irritating user experience.

This is perhaps the most confusing aspect of Google’s guidelines because there are a few ways to define “search results” on websites.

Category pages or item listings pages on some websites use website/database search functionality to display these types of pages.

Google’s SEO Starter Guide states:

“Avoid: Letting your internal search result pages be crawled by Google. Users dislike clicking a search engine result only to land on another search result page on your site.”

However, there are differences between allowing one’s category pages to be indexed (of a limited number and very specific) vs. having many variations indexed for category-type keywords that display substantially identical pages. 

This can happen with ecommerce websites when marketers create category pages including every variation of product options. Ecatalog software often supplies “faceted” navigation options that produce such pages. Here’s an example:

  • Micro SD Digital Cameras $100 to $250, 9 or less megapixels
  • SD Digital Cameras $100 to $250, 9 or less megapixels
  • Micro SD Digital Cameras $250 to $500, 9 or less megapixels
  • SD Digital Cameras $250 to $500, 9 or less megapixels
  • Micro SD Digital Cameras $500 to $700, 9 or less megapixels
  • SD Digital Cameras $500 to $700, 9 or less megapixels
  • Micro SD Digital Cameras $100 to $250, 10 to 11 megapixels
  • SD Digital Cameras $100 to $250, 10 to 11 megapixels
  • Micro SD Digital Cameras $250 to $500, 10 to 11 megapixels
  • SD Digital Cameras $250 to $500, 10 to 11 megapixels
  • Micro SD Digital Cameras $500 to $700, 10 to 11 megapixels
  • SD Digital Cameras $500 to $700, 10 to 11 megapixels

Now, some websites have such a breadth of content that they might be able to produce such pages without running afoul of a doorway page assessment. 

But many websites may display virtually identical content on such pages or display only a single product listing – which would have been served better by only having the product page itself indexed.

In yet more egregious cases, some websites have set up things such that when consumers conduct searches on their websites, it will automatically produce indexable search results pages for each of those queries.

This can result in loads of pages indexed with only the keyword name changing, while the contents of the pages are substantially or wholly similar to others on the website. 

This is the case for those Williams-Sonoma pages where an indexed search result for “bodum coffee makers” might be the same content as for a “French press coffee makers” category page.

Even more concerning, blindly generating pages from users’ search results can create pages featuring keywords that are no longer relevant to the website. In other words, spam and, put in another way, potential trademark infringement.

In one lawsuit I worked on, an online retailer allowed thousands and thousands of pages generated by users’ search queries on the site to be indexed, including for major brand names that the website did not carry, such as Nike, Versace, Burberry, Gucci, Yves St. Laurent, Chanel, Eddie Bauer, and more. 

An even greater number of pages were indexed from the website, focused on keyword phrases that would produce substantially similar to identical search results pages:

  • “white jeans”
  • “white jean”
  • “size 17 jeans”
  • “jeans size 17”
  • “black jeans”
  • “black rip jeans”
  • “black rips jeans”
  • “black ripped jeans”
  • “black ripped jean”
  • “ripped black jeans”
  • “black jeans men”
  • “black jeans mens”

Imagine these sorts of keyword phrases multiplied hundreds and thousands of times over, and you get the picture. Huge scale, duplicate content, and spammy.

Any website with substantial content and search functionality that uses the GET method can end up with indexed internal search results.

I had a client circa 2007/2008 whose business model was creating a sort of curated search results pages that got de-indexed by Google overnight when this rule was promoted. 

Substantially duplicate content propagated via keyword variations

You can already see how this could work in the example above where pages were indexed for an online retailer under multiple, highly-similar keywords, and the pages would have identical content.

There may be some level of plausible deniability where SEO software paired up with Shopify or other online shopping software can result in more and more user-generated search queries getting indexed as pages.

But, some websites have sought to programmatically create alternate versions of content pages using synonyms, keyword research APIs, AI, or some human editors. The page’s content could be published on multiple pages, each titled and headlined with different keywords.

Many thin content websites have done this very thing in the past, and it likely does not work well in Google these days.

The now-famous joke, “SEO guy walks into a bar, pub, inn, tavern…” illustrates
SEO’s stereotypical propensity for going overboard with keyword optimizations.
Do not do this with Doorway Pages, or your website could get dinged! Meme
postcard image courtesy of Someecards. Copyright © Someecards.

Unsure? How to avoid a doorway ‘ding’

You may wonder if you are at risk of having your website “dinged” by Google for having doorway pages. If you *know* you have doorway pages, eliminate them in favor of focusing on pushing the quality and promoting your other content pages. 

If you are unsure if you have what Google would consider doorway pages or want ideas on how to fix them, read on for some recommendations.

There has long been the suggestion that Amazon gets away with doorway pages because they have loads of PageRank. Therefore, Google displays many of Amazon’s doorway pages where other websites would not. 

With 135 million pages indexed and ranking for top product name queries across the board, Amazon is indeed in a unique position. Google can – and does – take the position that providing users with what they seek is the first and foremost priority.

So if the site is desired/expected in the search results, Google might allow infractions to pass to maintain the page in the search results where consumers can find it. That does not mean that Google likes doorway pages, however.

But, I do not think Amazon’s pages are particularly doorway pages.

Generally, if you click on an Amazon listing in Google’s search results for a product, you will find what you are looking for. Those can be category listings pages or specific product pages. 

But, you see pictures, typically, of what you are looking for, and the results are pretty satisfactory. This is a key determinant. 

Doorway pages are typically:

  • A sort of interstitial between Google’s search results and the actual destination pages users are seeking.
  • Duplicated across many similar keywords.
  • Are even spammed at keyword combinations with the content of the pages bearing little relation to what the user is specifically seeking.

The takeaway is not that “Amazon gets away with Doorway Pages”. The takeaway is that “Amazon provides a very satisfactory experience for searchers by delivering on the promise of the keyword targeting of their pages.” 

Here are some tips for reducing your risks of a doorway “ding”.

Simply remove doorways from the index

Google suggests using robots.txt, but I have another take. 

A robust internal link hierarchy is valuable for SEO, as that can help ensure Google finds and indexes the site’s granular content. 

For this reason, perhaps the quickest fix is to add a robots meta tag to those pages with a “noindex” directive, along with the “follow” directive to keep the links on the page getting crawled.

Keep internal search from generating pages

It is true that you can mine your internal website search data to discover keywords that your users may be using to find your type of content. 

You should still use that as a guide for creating new content, modifying existing content, or introducing other pages related to the top-searched terms. 

But do not let your internal searches automatically transform into pages of search results that search engines can index. 

Doing so will put your site squarely on an increasing curve of cookie-cutter-templated pages that will generate levels of duplication, pages with low value, and open you up to possible spam-hacking exploits. 

You should human-curate the pages added to your site, so stop the uncontrolled flow of pages created each time users type word combos into your search forms. 

You should also consider tech modifications if your internal search URLs are indexable because it is natural for users to share page URLs with others. This can result in user-generated external links growing over time until you involuntarily have a large set of doorway pages. 

You may need to set all those robot meta tags with noindex directives or disallow them in robots.txt. 

Alternatively, you could switch the search functionality to only work with the POST method, revoking the ability for full URLs to be bookmarkable/indexable.

Redesign your category pages to be richer

Category and subcategory pages do not have to be mere navigational lists of links to deeper pages. You can display top items from the categories on the page along with navigational links deeper. 

Informational text content could be included, as well as videos and preview snippets and links to related blog posts. Highlight the newest items, recently-updated content, top-sellers, or endorsement blurbs. 

In short, you want to transform what have been essentially linking pages for search engines into pages that are simultaneously highly usable and useful for end users.

Make core content pages more relevant for alternate keywords

If you are using doorway pages to try to have content that appears for many related keyword phrases, you are using only one SEO method. 

Instead of doorways, you can judiciously add one or two other keyword phrases onto the page itself if you add them in a natural way that reads well for users. Do not go overboard, or you will run afoul of Google for keyword stuffing.

Another option is to create external links pointing to the main page for any given topic, using alternate keyword phrases for the link text. Again, avoid going overboard with too many and do not resort to external link building to accrue the links. 

You could write posts on your website’s blog or in articles to link the alternate keywords’ text back to the main page for the topic.

Do away with doorway pages

Doorway pages have now been a contravened practice for about two decades. 

Google’s recent update to Search Essentials increased the prominence of doorway pages in the contravened spam policies section. They also added an example among those long present. 

This indicates that doorway pages continue to be considered a bad practice and every bit as severe as the other black hat SEO practices that are risky, wrong, and unethical. Otherwise, Google would have used the opportunity of updating the section to revoke the doorway guidelines.

Despite some level of rationalization and confusion on the part of the search community, doorway pages will continue to remain a bad practice.

It could penalize your website (or a portion of it) such that the pages are buried far down in the search results or even de-indexed entirely so that they cannot be found for any search.

Alternative optimizations can provide perceived benefits associated with doorway pages and reduce or avoid the conditions that can cause them.

Stick with contemporary SEO best practices and avoid involvement with doorway pages. You’ll see your organic search rankings program grow and benefit without the risks of getting on Google’s bad side. 

Managing doorway pages (by eliminating them) has further benefits as well. You’ll do away with potentially significant legal liability associated with the practice.

If you are interested in original article by Chris Silver Smith you can find it here

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Outgoing links: Are they beneficial for your site or not?

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When it comes to SEO, some questions divide the industry. The potential benefits of outgoing links is one example. Learn more here.

Google dismisses the idea that outgoing links are considered a direct ranking signal – but tests have proven otherwise.

Who should SEOs believe? Why should we link out at all?

When asked about the impact of outgoing links on “link juice,” Google’s John Mueller flatly ignored the question stating again that any advice containing the term “link juice” should not be taken seriously

Thus, we have to research a little deeper and go back a few years to find out. 

So what’s the difference between outgoing (outbound) and. incoming (inbound) links? 

This infographic by Morningscore explains it pretty well.

Morningscore - Outbound vs. Inbound Links

Most people in the SEO industry and beyond agree that links to your site alias incoming links, also called inbound links or backlinks, matter.

Inbound links are still an important ranking factor on Google. 

While the search engine continuously adds other signals to refine results, the original Google algorithm is based on counting and assessing the value of incoming links.

More complex additions like the RankBrain algorithm or the concept of expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T) ensure that only usable, credible and content-rich sites get ranked on top.

Yet the ranking itself still heavily relies on good old editorial links – those leading “back” to your site.

But what about outgoing links (i.e., links from your site to others)?

That has been an evergreen debate among SEO practitioners and marketers alike.

Let’s recap what we know about (outgoing) links first.

Mueller repeatedly said that they are not a direct ranking signal. Yet he and many SEOs still advocate linking out.

  • One approach could be called the egoistic one. It assumes that you have to hoard the authority you get from other sites by way of links. Thus, linking out as rarely as possible in order not to lose that authority, link value or “equity”.
  • The other approach (I abide by) is the rather altruistic one. It assumes that the web is built on links (hence hypertext as in hyperlinks) and the more you are interconnected with other sites – both ways – the better. 

Not only beginner-level SEOs are often literally scared to link out. Some experienced SEO experts are also not keen on risking their site authority on outgoing links. Why is that?

There are actually instances when Google penalizes sites for linking out or simply algorithmically reduces their ranking.

Here are a few examples.

Bad neighborhoods

Bad neighborhoods are often websites that are dealing either with adult subjects or gray areas like prescription-free drugs and gambling. They are also referred to as 3P (porn, pills and poker). 

Other obvious examples are so-called “warez” or copyright infringement sites in general. 

That said, even legit but low-quality sites you link to may have some detrimental impact.

“Link schemes” is a Google term describing all kinds of “unnatural” links meant to increase the chances of ranking on Google organically. 

Reciprocal links (I link to you so that you link to me) or link farms (interlinked sites just created, acquired or paid for the links) are common examples. 

Such links may get demoted by Google or lead to an “unnatural links” penalty.

Text link ads or in Google’s words “paid links” are links to other sites you have been paid for one way or another. 

These payments can be sponsorships, donations or free products as well. 

When in doubt, Google may penalize you for outbound links you have received some kind of remuneration for. 

Google wants you to add the “sponsored” attribute to such links. The same procedure also applies to paid reviews you have been asked to place on your site.

User-generated content (UGC)

UGC are comments, forum entries or any type of submitted content without editorial oversight linking out to third-party sites – which are also risky. 

Google advises you to use the “UGC” link attribute on such links. Check all contributions prior to publication ideally.

Guest posts, widgets, infographics, etc.

Over the years, Google has added a lot of common SEO techniques to the list of unnatural link practices. Some widely used link building techniques like guest posts, widgets and infographics were among them. 

Thus, when you have some of those on your site, you are required to use the “nofollow” link attribute on outbound links associated with them.

Broken, or dead links that have been linked out to reputable resources, may overnight become hazardous to your site’s health. 

It’s not just the SEO issues. You also risk your reputation when visitors end up on defunct sites, error pages or parked domains. 

Monitor and fix broken or redirected links regularly. The latter ones can be even more harmful as deceptive sites won’t always send an error code but instead a “200” OK to fool you to link to them.

No wonder many SEO experts got more and more reserved when it comes to linking out. Some of them only link to Wikipedia or the like “for the potential SEO benefit of linking out.”

Others play it safe by adding “nofollow” to all outbound links even though Mueller also stated that there is no benefit in that either.

Despite all the possible pitfalls (I didn’t even list all of them), there are also benefits to linking out – both for Google and also for the website owners who do it.

In 2019, Mueller published an actual video on linking out and why it matters. At 1:19, he specifically encouraged linking to other sites that “offer additional value and more context.”

Given Google’s increased focus on E-A-T criteria in the ranking algorithm, linking out to established sources and experts has additional benefits.

What does that mean specifically?

Proof of authority

How do you prove authority? You literally add the author’s name and short bio, then link out to their website and social media accounts. 

Anonymous posts by “admin” as the default author on WordPress are usually called or outsourced content that has no name attached to it. 

Such content is, of course, far less convincing to potential readers and also Google algorithms.

Citing sources

Even accomplished experts usually rely on the work of others. 

By citing and ideally quoting sources from scholars in academia, journalists and bloggers ensure their expertise is backed up by others. 

Linking out to sources, especially highly credible ones like universities, government agencies or leading publications (think The New York Times, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal), establishes credibility even if you’re not a world-renowned expert yourself yet.

More resources

No matter how extensively you cover a topic, there is always something to “read more” you haven’t mentioned. This goes beyond just crediting sources. 

Assuming that you have satisfied the reader and they are still interested, you are welcome to add more resources on the subject matter to broaden the scope of your content. 

Linking out to content that elaborates on some aspects you haven’t covered in-depth yet is a good idea to enhance a trustworthy article.

The web in general also benefits from sites actively linking out as sites devoid of outgoing links tend to become dead ends in the worst case.

Luckily, we don’t just have to rely on Google’s words. 

Some SEOs have actively looked for an answer by simply testing whether there is a positive impact of outgoing links. 

And there is!

Opinions are always to be considered with a grain of salt in the SEO world. Actual tests are often more reliable. 

The people of Reboot Online, “a data-driven SEO company,” have tested the potential effect of outbound links or lack thereof – not just once, but twice (first in 2016 and again in 2020).

As we can see above, the test sites which included outgoing links outranked the “stingy” sites that did not contain outgoing links.

Even test results may be biased of course, as the testers expected a positive impact. Reboot Founder Shai Aharony explains his motivation as follows:

“I’m repeatedly astonished at the numerous times we come across the absurd and old fashioned belief that Pagerank should be religiously kept within the site and that any outgoing links are ‘diluting’ your site’s authority…”

While it’s hard to ensure that a test only checks a particular ranking factor or hypothesis, SEO experiments can often provide useful hints for your ongoing optimization efforts. 

In this case, the test has been repeated so that we can be pretty sure that the results are valid. 

Ideally, you also conduct your own tests of course but it’s not an easy feat given the complexity of the current Google ranking algorithm.

Beyond the more or less obvious benefits that even Google spokespeople mention, there are many “social SEO” aspects of outgoing links that can ultimately improve your rankings or at least help you to gain traction in other ways.

Even if you still frown upon linking out to other websites for fear of risking your organic reach, here are some direct benefits of outbound links to be aware of before giving them up completely.

Getting noticed

First of all, when you link to someone – and usually there is a person who runs a website and who may notice – you are “getting out there.”

Especially when you’re new in a given niche, industry or market you want to “say hello” by acknowledging those who came before you. 

When I started a new blog in the past, I would usually make a list of “the best blogs” covering the specific topic the blog was meant to be about. 

As a welcome side effect, those lists not only would draw in other, already-established bloggers to my fairly new publication. They would usually also rank on top of Google for phrases like [(topic) blog].

Looking back at blogging about SEO for 15+ years I have to admit that many of my most valuable connections and often clients have been a direct result of my linking out to someone. 

Of course, numerous links did not get noticed, have been ignored or were acknowledged without any significant reciprocation. 

Yet those that did actually start a conversation and a process of relationship building have helped me a lot over the years. 

This is especially important for “introverts” who usually don’t go to conferences, meetups or trade fairs.

Give and take

Once you link out you give the present of attention, appreciation and often support. Even if you disagree with what you link, the vote has been counted by Google.

We have been primed for mutual aid for literally millions of years so when you receive a gift from someone, you are usually likely to reciprocate sooner or later. At least you are much more open-minded to suggestions down the road. 

Many people in the SEO industry reach out to a list of “100 prospects” and get a response rate of like 2%. Their main mistake is that they are contacting strangers out of the blue and asking for favors right away. 

Even if you don’t enjoy socializing with like-minded individuals working in the same industry, you are thus motivated to be friendly and literally make friends or “build relationships.”

User experience

No single person or even entity is all-knowing. Even Google can’t answer all queries in a satisfactory way. Thus while creating content, we will always rely on other people’s expertise. 

Even if you just rephrase it without directly quoting, you will probably not cover everything in as much depth as possible – so here comes the link. 

You can simply link to other content without having to reinvent the wheel and can stand on the shoulders of giants. This is a much better user experience than letting the visitor hang and not being able to cover the topic extensively enough for every reader. 

Let people read more elsewhere or check out the details you only mention without a lot of background. 

Don’t be afraid that they will leave the site. They will be more likely to return given the positive user experience.

Now that you are considering linking out for SEO or other benefits, you probably ask yourself how to link out to have a positive impact on your site. Follow these tips.

Do not add a ‘nofollow’ when you don’t have to

Some publishers and blogs add nofollow tags to all outgoing links in order to minimize any potential risks of linking out. 

Yet, that’s like saying that all of your content is untrustworthy and lacks editorial control. Not only is there no gain from it, but there is also an additional risk of appearing low quality. 

Make sure to treat each link individually. Add nofollow tags only when needed. 

Editorial links should be treated accordingly – as proper links with no potentially discrediting attributes.

Once you link out you vouch to some extent for the resource you link to. After all, you ensure the validity of the content you effectively recommend. 

Even if you disagree with the information you link to, you at least assign enough importance to it to send your visitors that way. Thus, it’s also advisable to check such links on existing content regularly. 

On WordPress, that task can be automated. Whenever a resource disappears, you have to unlink it or better replace it. 

No tool can warn you when third-party resources become outdated. Thus, it’s a good idea to check manually and regularly so that you don’t link to something that has been debunked or updated by now.

Another common shortcut is just linking out to Wikipedia instead of taking the time and looking up actual sources. That’s almost like saying, “just Google it!”

Most people have searched for a topic to find you and they have probably seen the Wikipedia entry above your result as well. 

They want to learn more, not just find out the basics like the definition of the keyword.

Make sure that the resource you link to offers some “additional value” for the reader. Do not just link out for SEO benefit. 

When someone notices you and ideally shares your content or, in the best case, links back it’s a nice-to-have. 

In the search industry, sometimes, it’s better to link to Google directly (even though they don’t notice or link back) than to a blog that only rehashes the news. 

In other cases, Google has only cryptic announcements you need some explanations on so a third-party blog is better. 

Mention experts by name and ‘ping’ them

When you link out to actual experts from your niche, industry or country you may benefit from their audiences noticing your content as well. 

In the past, WordPress pings ensured that every linked blogger would notice in their comment section. 

As that pingback and trackback features have been abused over the years, most blogs have deactivated that feature. 

You have to notify people manually again, like in the good old days before blogs. Mention experts you included by name and tell them that you linked to their content (on social media or by mail).

If you are interested in original article by Tadeusz Szewczyk you can find it here

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google-local-search-updates

Google Announces 7 Local Search Updates

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Google announced seven updates related to local search at its annual Search On virtual conference.

At Google’s annual Search On conference, the company announced seven new features and updates to local search.

These updates will significantly enhance how people explore neighborhoods, businesses, and restaurants in Google Search.

The local search changes rolling out soon include:

  1. Search for restaurants by dish
  2. Discover restaurant specialties
  3. More support for digital menus
  4. Enhancements to Google Maps’ Live View
  5. Aerial views of famous landmarks
  6. Immersive view
  7. Neighborhood vibe checks

Read all the details about these updates in the below sections.

1. Search For Restaurants By Dish

Google is upgrading its restaurant search capabilities with the ability to find local places that serve a specific dish.

Google is upgrading its restaurant search capabilities with the ability to find local places that serve a specific dish.

The new search experience will allow you to enter a query like “soup dumplings near me,” and Google will return a list of restaurants that offer it.

Google Announces 7 Local Search UpdatesScreenshot from: blog.google/products/search/food-restaurant-search/, September 2022.

You can get even more specific with filters for vegetarian dishes, spicy dishes, and more.

2. Discover Restaurant Specialties

Local restaurants commonly have a unique quality that they’re known for through the community.

Identifying the quality in a Google search can be difficult because star ratings don’t tell the whole story.

Soon, Google will help searchers preview and evaluate restaurants to understand better what makes them unique.

Here’s an example of a listing for a local restaurant with “people say” highlights at the top of the screen.

Google Announces 7 Local Search UpdatesScreenshot from: blog.google/products/search/food-restaurant-search/, September 2022.

Google uses machine learning to analyze images and reviews to find what makes a place distinctive.

3. More Support For Digital Menus

Google is expanding its coverage of digital menus while enhancing them with rich visuals and keeping them reliably updated.

In a blog post, Google explains how it can add more digital menus without any additional work required from restaurant owners:

“We combine menu information provided by people and merchants, and found on restaurant websites that use open standards for data sharing. To do this, we use state-of-the-art image and language understanding technologies, including our Multitask Unified Model.”

Google says it will showcase the most popular dishes and call out different dietary options, including vegetarian and vegan.

Google Announces 7 Local Search Updates

4. Enhancements To Live View In Google Maps

Google is upgrading a feature it introduced three years ago called Live View, which allows you to navigate directions while looking through the viewfinder of your phone’s camera.

In addition to navigating from one place to another, you’ll soon be able to search for things in your immediate vicinity.

Google shares an example of using Live View to find an ATM within walking distance of where a person is standing:

Google Announces 7 Local Search Updates

“Say you’re heading to an outdoor market and need to take cash out. With search with Live View, simply lift your phone to search and instantly see the ATMs in an area. You can also spot different places — including coffee shops, grocery stores and transit stations. We’ll show you business hours and how busy a place is, and you can tap on any location to view more details, like what services the barber shop down the street offers.”

Search with Live View starts rolling out in the coming months in London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Paris, and Tokyo.

5. Aerial Views Of Landmarks

Available today, Google is over 250 photorealistic aerial views of global landmarks.

Google Announces 7 Local Search UpdatesScreenshot from: blog.google/products/maps/4-new-updates-maps-searchon-2022/, September 2022.

Google doesn’t list all the landmarks with aerial views, other than to say they “span everything from the Tokyo Tower to the Acropolis.”

6. Immersive View

Immersive view will allow you to go beyond street view with an experience that takes you inside buildings and other establishments.

In addition, immersive view will show you how busy a place will be and what the weather will be like at a given date and time.

Google Announces 7 Local Search UpdatesScreenshot from: blog.google/products/maps/4-new-updates-maps-searchon-2022/, September 2022.

Immersive view rolls out in the coming months in Los Angeles, London, New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo on Android and iOS.

7. Vibe Check The Neighborhood

A new “neighborhood vibe” feature in Google Maps will give you a feel for a neighborhood before you visit.

Google will highlight what’s new, what the local gems are, and what’s worth exploring.

Helpful photos and information from the Google Maps community will appear on the map while browsing the neighborhood.

Google Announces 7 Local Search UpdatesScreenshot from: blog.google/products/maps/4-new-updates-maps-searchon-2022/, September 2022.

Google says it uses a combination of AI and user-submitted information to power the neighborhood vibe feature, which starts rolling out globally in the coming months on Android and iOS.

If you are interested in original article by Matt G Southern you can find it here

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Link-building-services

10 link-building services to scale your SEO efforts

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10 popular options when considering link-building service providers.

Link building is essential. While Google has made numerous advancements in machine learning and content comprehension, links remain a critical element of how Google ranks websites.

We know that Google doesn’t want you to proactively build links. They want you to create high-quality content and hope for the best (i.e., build it and links will come).

Whether you’re a well-known brand or a local SMB, you need to be findable in the SERPs when people are searching for your product, service or expertise. Getting that initial push to get the front page creates a virtuous cycle where the better you rank, the more links you get because of how well you rank.

Enter: link-building services. 

While link building is essential, it’s also tedious. It’s time-consuming. And, honestly, it can seem quite boring. (Though we’d politely disagree!)

Luckily, there are companies that can do this tedious and time-consuming work for you!

Link building, done right, can be a win-win – for your website and the site linking to you. The key is reaching out to your own personal network of publishers and bloggers within a niche to offer a piece of content that they can either write about themselves or link to when relevant. 

If you haven’t built the types of relationships that can turn into links – this is where link-building services providers become incredibly valuable. 

In this article, we will introduce to you to 10 popular options when considering link-building service providers. Choose wisely – there are always risks and rewards when choosing a link-building service to scale your SEO efforts. 

We’ll start shamelessly with our own and if you understand the risks and rewards of proactive link building this way, try them.

The following are in no particular order. We are not claiming anyone is better than any other. This is simply a list of link-building service providers you can choose from.

1. OutreachZ

Here’s what makes us a bit different. We are a team with vast experience in the link-building space and have identified and tried to address the following pain points.

Transparency: Unlike most services, you can pick the right publishers upfront from our marketplace. Metrics like the primary niche they operate in, organic traffic, and DA (by Moz) are filters you can apply to find the right blogs, so there are no surprises after reviewing the report.

Pricing: Unlike most service providers, we will not charge you hefty fees based on the domain metrics. Instead, we take a fixed success fee and pass on the benefit of a low cost of link acquisition irrespective of how big or small that publisher is.

Flexibility: Even with the marketplace model, you are working with us to get the job done and not waiting for the publisher to react despite operating on a dynamic pricing model like other marketplaces that only serve as a platform provider. You also have managed posts and custom link-building campaigns and the option to upload your content, so the number of ways you can get this done is highly flexible.

Now let’s move on to some other notable link-building providers.

2. Page One Power

Page One Power focuses on giving you a personalized experience. They will sit down with you to discuss your individual needs, analyze your existing website and give you a customized link-building plan. They are willing to do the research and heavy lifting for you, giving you the extra breathing room to focus on other aspects of your business.

3. Fat Joe

To help you get started as quickly as possible, Fat Joe features an intuitive order intake form and a dashboard to monitor active orders and manage them. They seem to be the go-to service provider for agencies that need a lot of links for multiple clients with tight deadlines and provide content services that seem reasonably priced.

4. The Hoth 

If you considered link-building services, there is a high probability you have come across The Hoth already. They are one of the oldest link-building service companies with diverse offerings across various off-page SEO services. Their dashboard is intuitive, and one can navigate through their diverse offerings quite easily; however, given their large-scale link-building services, you might have to be careful in picking the right product for you as some could do more harm than good if you do not understand the product and its risks, so talk to them about your goals before you go ahead.

5. No BS Marketplace

No BS could have kick-started the transparent approach to link building, where you get to pick publishers upfront that they would suggest based on your requirements. So if you appreciate transparency and would like tighter control on the links you want to acquire, they are another great alternative to look into.

6. uSERP

If you’re looking for a tried and true SEO and link-building agency that works with high-profile industry names like Robinhood, Monday, Freshworks, Hotjar, and others, uSERP fits the bill. Working with small businesses and large enterprises alike, they craft and initiate content-based link-building campaigns. 

7. Siege Media

Siege Media is another agency that offers content-driven link building, where they prospect and reach out to authority publishers in your industry with amazing content. Although the specific link-building services they provide won’t give you an exact number of links they can expect to build, they will provide you with a ballpark figure instead.

8. Posirank

The folks at Posirank have been at it for a while as well. The team offers both custom campaigns and some large publishers’ lists from which they could secure a backlink for you. In addition, they have an easy dashboard where you can quickly sign up and start your first link acquisition campaign immediately.

9. The Upper Ranks

Beginning its operations in 2011, this link-building company is a trusted business partner of some of the largest brands, including established names from the Fortune 500 list. The philosophy of their approach is to build relevant backlinks that could stand the test of time.

10. Hire a Freelancer: For many, hiring an experienced blogger outreach and link-building expert from Upwork could work out best, especially if you want to control the process at every level and keep the costs in check at the same time. There seem to be plenty of skilled freelancers for hire with great feedback.

Conclusion

Google is no fan of “link building,” – but who can blame them? For years, links were a commodity that was abused by SEOs.

But proactive link building is incredibly hard. As it should be. 

That’s why you should partner with an experienced agency with clear goals and quality control. For that, we highly suggest OutreachZ – but admittedly, we’re biased!

If you are ineterested in original article you can find it here

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untitled-design

Do You Still Need Directory Submissions For Local SEO?

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Local directory submission can help or hinder your local SEO depending on how you set it up. Here’s what you need to know.

The primary goal of local SEO is establishing visibility for a local business in the Local Map Pack and/or the top three organic search results. These typically reside just below paid Google ads and the Map Pack.

As with all SEO, myriad factors (i.e., the (in)famous Google algorithm) come into play to determine which businesses get top billing and the resulting coveted organic search traffic.

One set of factors from a local SEO perspective is local presence, relevance, and authority.

In other words, and from a common sense perspective, local businesses need to prove to the search engines:

They are indeed physically located within close proximity to their customer base.
They provide services or products which fall into specific categories.
They are a trusted/authoritative content source and answer their customers’ questions.
Local directories, by definition, are a vehicle through which businesses can address all three of these factors.

As such, the simple answer to our introductory question is yes, you do still need directory submissions for local SEO.

However, not all directories carry the same weight or authority and should be reviewed relative to the value they can offer.

This becomes particularly important for those directories requiring a fee for inclusion.

Further, there are some best practices related to data and contact information consistency to consider during submission.

Finally, tools are available to make the directory listing setup and ongoing maintenance process quicker, particularly for businesses with multiple locations.

There are a lot of directories, and maintaining information and content across all of them can become a burden for a small business.

We’ll review how to address each of these factors and how directories can help or hinder local businesses’ efforts to get found.

Local Presence And Consistency

It should be fairly obvious that for a business to rank well in a particular location, it must be able to prove it exists, resides, or is otherwise able to provide services within its specified service area.

Two primary vehicles for establishing a business’ location are its website and its Google Business Profile (GBP).

A local business website, when applicable, will include its physical address details, which can be tagged with local business schema to make it easier for Google to find and index.

Many sites will also include a map (preferably a Google map), which will likewise be referenced for location validation.

Lastly, geographic details can be incorporated into the title and heading tags, where appropriate, to reinforce the local focus of the business.

Creating and optimizing a Google Business Profile is effectively the process of reinforcing the information and focus of a local business website. Or, for some businesses, the opposite is the case.

Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) information should naturally match across these two properties.

Service areas chosen in GBP should be within close proximity to the business location.

Service categories should likewise be consistent.

Local directories then become an extension of these two primary points of web presence and validation for search engines.

Here too, the goal should be consistency, particularly for NAP information along with website URLs

Pro tip: If you can include more than one URL in a local directory listing, you should look to include as many relevant locally oriented links as possible, e.g., a link to your GBP profile, your Facebook page, and listings in other relevant local directories.

Local Relevance

Establishing local relevance is all about making sure you and your content are appearing in the correct directories and appropriate categories.

Naturally, any categorization should align with how you’ve defined your services or products on your site and in GBP.

There are three types of local directories you can identify and consider submitting listings to.

The first type we’ll call “global” directories. These are services like Yellow Pages, Yelp, and the like, which offer local listings and reviews in nearly every location around the world.

Many of these offer free “listings” but then demand a fee for advanced features, functionality, and/or visibility.

One way to determine whether or not paying a listing fee is advisable is to conduct an organic search on the primary keywords you want your business to be found for, and see whether or not the directory ranks well (or better than you) for those keywords in local search engine results pages (SERPs).

You can also simply ask a rep from the directory whether or not they can provide stats on the organic/referral traffic your paid listing will be able to deliver.

If they cannot provide such stats, you can be wary of their ability to provide a return on your investment.

Barrie Autobody Google SearchScreenshot from search for [Barrie autobody], Google, August 2022The second type of local directory is a more industry-specific directory, like TripAdvisor for travel and tourism-related businesses or Houzz for construction and trade businesses.

The same evaluation methods may be used here to determine whether or not these services can potentially deliver value to your business.

The third and final type is the more locally specific directories offered by local Chambers of Commerce, Service Organizations, and other non-global players.

The first two of this type should certainly be considered, as they can have the effect of validating local presence in a less subjective way.

Small, local non-global directories should, as above, only be considered if they can likewise prove the value they will deliver from an organic visibility or referral traffic perspective.

The directories you choose to submit to, and the categories within which your products or services can be readily found, will help to define your business’ relevance within your local community.

Local Authority

Listings within local directories, particularly those with established authority of their own, can help to boost the authority and potential visibility of a business.

You can also use the SERP test mentioned above to identify these authority boosters.

In essence, any directory which outperforms your website or GBP page for a target keyword represents an opportunity to both be found via the directory and gain authority through it.

Some directories, a la GBP, enable content or links to content to be shared.

While this can be time-consuming, it may be worthwhile to distribute your content to these directories in addition to other places like GBP and social media, depending on the visibility and relative local authority of the directory.

Reviews

As noted, many directory services offer review submissions – and while Google reviews are naturally preferred from an organic authority perspective, Google and the other search engines are aware of reviews published on other platforms.

Similar to the local SERP test, you should pay attention to whether or not either you or your competitors have been receiving reviews in places other than GBP.

Keep in mind that your potential customers may be looking at these reviews as well when considering purchasing from your business vs. another.

Managing Multiple Locations

Setting up and maintaining listings across multiple directories will take time, particularly if there are ongoing updates to business details or services.

This is, of course, amplified for businesses with more than one location.

There are paid services and solutions like Uberall, Semrush, and Yext for centrally managing multiple locations, which will typically cover the first two types of local directories referenced here, along with mapping services like GBP, Apple Maps, and Facebook locations.

Some of these services also enable review and social account management.

How Are Your Directory Listings?

So, yes, it’s safe to argue directory submissions are still required for effective local SEO.

To this end, perhaps the best place to start is with the suggested SERP test to understand where your listings and the directories stand relative to your keywords.

Alternatively, many of the listings management services offer a quick auditing tool to help get a sense of what coverage a business has across the most common local directories.

Then you can decide on a submission strategy that fits your visibility and traffic goals, as well as your budget.

If you are intersted in original article by Jeff Riddall you can find it here

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