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SEO For Non-Profits: 7 Tips To Help Your Organization Get Found

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Learn how to get the most out of your resources and continue driving your mission forward through these 7 SEO tips.

Non-profit organizations can benefit greatly from exposure online.

SEO is a great way to gain organic traffic, regardless of the mission of the organization and the intent of the searcher.

Yes, there are opportunities through Google Ads grants and supporters to help drive traffic.

However, being found organically is a cost-effective and trusted way to gain long-term visibility and further the mission of a non-profit.

Most non-profits operate on lean budgets and have to be very judicious with their resources.

I have had the opportunity to work with many spanning focuses and missions aimed at healthcare, education, performing arts, adoption, orphanages, and more.

Within each non-profit, I have found tips that help regardless of most focuses and circumstances.

From solid funding to grassroots organizations, there’s a lot to be gained by focusing on seven SEO tips to help your organization get found.

1. Develop SEO Goals

I have personally heard from and witnessed non-profit organizations spend time somewhat aimlessly. I understand the fact that resources are limited and dollars potentially even more so.

That means it is even more important to have specific, realistic goals for what SEO could and should do for the organization. Disparate, scattered efforts that are working toward a specific goal are often wasted.

A lot of non-profits have specific stakeholder groups and different goals for each.

For example, I worked with a large national non-profit organization focused on a very specific disease.

Their audience included many audiences and potential visitors including those who were just diagnosed, scared, and seeking information.

Beyond that, they had goals for advocates, donors, those engaged in events, those interested in furthering legislation, and general supporters.

All had some level of awareness, engagement, and action goals layered on top.

With a large number of specific funnels, conversion actions, and stakeholder purposes for finding the org, engaging online, and getting to the ultimate goal, it is important to define specific goals and success metrics.

2. Create Funnels And Stakeholder Sections

Building on what I noted about the disparate stakeholders and types of goal actions, we can create paths for them and content within the website.

Non-profit sites can often be a mess. That’s not on purpose as it can be hard to work on all the content needed and to scale the website over time.

Survey your audience. Learn what they really want and what resources matter to them.

Tailor your content based on feedback and what you know about the cause.

Know that some people want to plug in a credit card quickly.

Others want to consume long-form content.

Even more might want to learn about events and ways to connect.

Give all of them their own path and custom journey.

My team is working currently with a large non-profit that funds a lot of worthy organizations and fosters entrepreneurship.

We have a laser focus on specific topics, content strategies, and investments to make sure that the right people are reached and that the org is positioned prominently for engagement compared to for-profit and other content sources.

3. Build Solid Infrastructure

This could have been number two, as it goes together with the funnel and stakeholder section building.

If you’re struggling with number two above, it could be because your site isn’t easy to manage.

Please note that all of the technical SEO needs are important for non-profits like they are in for-profit sectors.

On top of that, with the various funnels and goals, a solid UX and information architecture is critical.

We can’t lose people along the way or waste any precious impressions and clicks. We need sites that convince and convert users.

We have a story to tell and need it to be told without bounces and losing people along the way due to not finding the right content and spot for them on the site.

I saw firsthand how a local non-profit benefited from this type of approach.

As a tax levy, yet independent, a non-governmental non-profit that provided grants for mental health organizations, it had a lot of technical details to share.

The org had a very specific grantmaking process. That process could be hard to understand and follow.

The org spends a lot of time and focuses on awareness in SEO as well as Q&A.

Beyond that, it was important to share how taxpayer funds are used and how it serves the broader community.

All of those funnels, plus some for politicians curious are big reasons why the funnel and rich content model works so well.

4. Invest Carefully In Content

Content can be a big, open-ended question for non-profits.

There are a lot of really important things to say – both about the organization’s story and the voice it has in the cause.

Passions for blogging, creating resources, and telling the important story of the cause can drive a lot of great content.

At the same time, for some organizations writing can be put on the back burner when events, fundraising, and things central to the mission take the most time.

Content can be a big effort whether it is working or not and it might need more focus.

Or, it can be lacking and need more consistency and discipline.

Regardless, a sweet spot has to be found to fuel the areas of the funnel and focus that matter for organic search.

I can think of a great example who tells their story well and also serves as a leader as a resource of information.

They serve troubled youth and are an option for parents who are out of options for their high school kids.

They take in troubled youth from around the U.S. and have a high staff-to-student ratio serving them with love and highly skilled and accountable care.

Through their site, they share their research, expertise, and thought leadership in their space.

They also have an emotional and impactful story to share with prospective parents and students.

They do amazing work and serve a much-needed cause and do a great job of investing in content at the levels needed for those interested in stats and facts as well as they move others by resonating with their exact situation and emotions.

5. Leverage Partners For Links

In addition to technical and content aspects of SEO, non-profits need to also leverage off-page factors.

A big part of that is backlinks.

That means ensuring that all partners, advocates, and associates are helping the cause wherever they can by linking to the non-profit website.

Through natural links tied to relationships, I’m not talking about spammy or unnatural links.

If an aligned partner or organization is supporting the cause, simply make sure that they know where to link for the best possible user experience and to cue the search engines to that association.

Beyond that, any opportunities for outreach and network growth should also be considered.

Link research into comparable organizations should be done. This can help with development efforts as well as outreach to develop more partners.

An example of a non-profit organization gaining SEO benefits from backlinks is a flagship performing arts center.

As a venue, it has several resident organizations or other non-profits who call it home for their concerts and performances.

Beyond that, corporate sponsors, civic organizations, artists, ticketing sites, and more all naturally link to the center.

Leveraging all of the specific partners and relationships, the performing arts center fully leverages the value of the links and “votes” from those other sites to benefit their own.

6. Smartly Use Social

Social media has been one of the most debated things in terms of its impact on SEO. I’m not here to foster that debate in this article.

However, I can say that I ascribe to at least the correlation between social media activity and better SEO performance.

Again, not here for a debate.

If you can get on board with at least correlation (not causation), then please factor in your social media activity with your search strategy.

Look at the content you want to get ranked well and get links to.

Build your social strategy around that.

Get your own social accounts to link to it and get other people to share and link to it.

A national organization that I work with that is an association of intercollegiate athletics does a great job of this.

They leverage their investments in the content to get as much mileage as possible.

That means creating the content once and publishing it on the site and promoting it via Google Ads, social, email, and all possible channels.

Ultimately, they want organic search as well and know that as much engagement, links, and references they can get to their data, research info, and recruiting info they can get, the better it will perform organically. And, it does!

7. Plan, Measure, & Repeat

I can point to a number of great examples of non-profits owning organic search results and seeing real results from them. Most have a well-defined and intentional plan and effort in place.

It isn’t about trying harder.

It is about specific focus and knowing that there’s ROI or real, measurable impact that can come from organic search.

In so many of those successful cases, there’s planned action and tactics.

That means a regular and consistent effort in technical SEO factors, content, and knowing that SEO includes the word “optimization.”

It isn’t a one-time thing or a quick strategy.

It takes definition, planning, resources, and sticking with it.

You don’t have competitors in the traditional sense, but you do when it comes to gaining impressions and visitors and people talking about the content that you so deservedly want and need.

Wrap Up
You have a great cause and organization.

Your mission means a lot to a lot of people.

Don’t short-change it or miss out on your chance to gain visitors who have a range of interests, goals, and reasons they should come to your site.

Use these seven tips for non-profit SEO and get the most out of your resources and continue driving your mission forward.

If you are interested in original article by Correy Morris you can find it here

Why advertising will never die

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Advertising’s not dead, it’s not dying and no one’s going to kill it any time soon. It’s never been more alive, so instead of taking aim, let’s be dead proud of it.

People constantly declare that advertising’s dead. Fast Company recently claimed David Droga wants to kill it. Elon Musk said Tesla doesn’t do it. Jeff Bezos said only unremarkable brands need it.

Why do so many people do advertising down, even from within the industry? It’s a thriving global business that’s never made a bigger global economic impact.

The idea that advertising’s dead or dying is bizarrely persistent, given it can be countered with just three words: Alphabet, Meta, Amazon. Their combined revenue from advertising was around $240bn in 2021.

If Netflix also joins the party, and with Apple also having a fast-growing ad business, the FAANG flush will be complete (substituting the F of Facebook and G of Google for their respective owners). For the first time ever, a handful of the world’s very largest, most powerful companies are, or at least include, significant advertising businesses.

So, if your metric is commercial success, advertising has never been more alive. Which means anyone claiming advertising’s dead, dying or needs to be killed is firing blanks.

Why the idea’s so persistent

The ‘advertising is dead’ trope actually appeals to a pretty broad church, which probably goes some way to explaining its longevity.

Many are nostalgics with a rose-tinted view of the past, lamenting a perceived decline in the creative quality and emotional impact of the industry’s output. They tend to be creative agency veterans disappointed with the changes they’ve seen in the industry since the 90s. For them, the current commercial success of the industry has come at too high a cost to the industry’s creative soul. They perceive their industry as having been under attack from outside forces and having been changed beyond all recognition. Far from being evidence of its vitality, for them, the three corporations mentioned above are partly to blame for its demise.

But the ‘advertising is dead’ line is probably more commonly deployed by people hyping up the dawn of a new era and new technologies. What unites both groups, whether they’re mourning advertising’s loss or dancing on its grave, is a belief that technology is responsible.

Much of it is really just lazy headline writing. The standard headline in the genre is actually ‘Advertising as we know it is dead’ or the classic QTWTAIN (question to which the answer is no) ‘Is advertising dead?’. Often what these articles actually go on to say is ‘TV advertising has a smaller share than it used to and other advertising channels like X are growing’. So it’s often just clickbait from people who are signalling they’re modern, innovative and disruptive…with some newer, shinier kind of advertising to sell you.

You could argue it’s just a harmless sales trick. But it’s a sales trick that’s been repeated so frequently that the word ‘advertising’ has collected a ton of baggage. Baggage that’s shaped perceptions that it’s old-fashioned, on its way out, wasteful, inefficient and ineffective. So not harmless at all.

The new platforms had new forms of advertising to sell. New types of agencies and consultancies emerged to help brands take advantage. Existing agencies wanted to show they were keeping up without looking out of date. Individuals had careers to protect and couldn’t risk looking like dinosaurs. We’ve all in some way been complicit in depositioning our core product. I know I’ve been guilty of it.

The people with new kinds of advertising to sell created an imaginary world called ‘traditional’ advertising. An old-fashioned and inefficient method of producing and distributing advertising, made by old-fashioned ‘legacy’ companies, used by old-fashioned brands, bought by old-fashioned marketing people.

We all bought into a related narrative about a golden age of advertising in the 20th century, led by the glamorous, cool, creative geniuses of the ‘Madmen’ era, and the idea that this has now been replaced in the 21st by the left-brained, data-driven types of the ‘Mathmen’ era. Leaving aside the stereotyping, the problematic terminology and that any talk of a golden age in any field should always be treated with scepticism, it’s a compelling narrative with a kernel of truth, but it’s ultimately a false dichotomy. Has the proportion of ‘creative’ people in our industry really shrunk? Possibly. But have we all gone from being Madmen to Mathmen? Of course not.

Social media was initially framed as a way to help brands reduce their dependence on costly and wasteful advertising, by allowing brands to tap into communities of followers and reach more people for free. This essentially anti-advertising stance of course had to evolve as the platforms developed their ad products and adapted their algorithms. Social media became less ‘social’ and more ‘media’.

With ‘Don’t make ads. Make TikToks’, TikTok is playing a similar game – using a disruptive anti-advertising stance to advertise its ad products to ad agencies and advertisers.

TikTok’s ad campaign aimed at brand marketers

From this alone you can see how tainted the word ‘advertising’ and all its derivations have become. It would seem bizarre to anyone outside the industry, but even using the word advertising can sometimes feel like it sends out the wrong signals. We so often substitute it for alternatives like comms, campaigns, film, video, content, copy and of course the now ubiquitous asset. Anything but ‘ad’. Maybe we need to try to use that simple, useful, truthful little word a little more often?

Musk and Bezos on advertising

So far I’ve mostly been describing the collateral damage the industry has managed to inflict on itself from the inside. But just as damaging is how similar themes have been picked up beyond adland.

In the world of tech startups, word of mouth and virality are so highly prized that a reliance on advertising for growth has come to be seen as a weakness, a sign that a company hasn’t quite got the X factor, a tax on a poor product. In this environment, proclaiming you’re fundamentally opposed to advertising has become a way to promote your genius and the brilliance of your product to investors. A way of saying “we’re so smart that our innovation will earn us an outsized share of attention in the marketplace – we don’t need to do something as dumb as paying for ads”.

Debates about whether Tesla does actually pay for advertising or not usually come down to how you define ‘paying for advertising’, whether very narrowly (eg paying for TV spots or search ads), or very broadly (paying tens of millions of dollars to fire a product into space, place it in front of the camera and livestream the results to the entire planet).

If you define it broadly, as something like ‘the monetisation of attention’, Musk, already the world’s richest person and perhaps its greatest showman, is ironically a far more archetypal ad person than his CEO counterparts Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Sunder Pichai and Tim Cook – all in the ad business but not exactly ad people. Only time will tell if he can continue to support his position on paid advertising as Tesla’s strong grip on the EV market slips.

Whether Musk pays for advertising may be arguable, but Bezos’s U-turn is unarguably one of the greatest stories we have for the continued value and vitality of advertising:

  1. Bezos makes a famous and influential denunciation of advertising.
  2. He learns the value of advertising from Amazon’s own data and changes his mind.
  3. Amazon becomes one of the largest (and best) global advertisers.
  4. Amazon builds one of the world’s largest ad businesses.

Musk and Bezos are outliers. And yet, many brands continue to take inspiration from them by making overt rejections of advertising, often as a way to get attention and proclaim their genius in their early days. Similar claims from brands including Monzo and Brewdog were both later reversed when they grew and advertising was needed to help take growth to the next level. In fact it seems like there’s an immutable law of modern marketing that every vociferous rejection of advertising is later met with an equal and opposite endorsement of it.

Musk may not ‘pay’ for ad space, but he certainly has a deep understanding of one of its most valuable potential outcomes, fame. Many advertisers understand advertising but very few really understand fame. And unless you’ve got the same nose for fame as Musk, paying for attention is likely what you’re going to need to do to achieve it.

So it’s not just social media that’s guilty of deploying a kind of ‘bait and switch’ – claiming to be anti-advertising but then reversing their position when they need to make the commercials work – it’s a pattern that’s constantly being repeated by platforms, agencies and advertisers as they mature.

Let’s not do advertising down, let’s stand up for it and celebrate it

The ‘advertising is dead’ myth is especially bizarre because advertising has never been more alive. We have never had a wider, more varied array of options and opportunities available to us. But as an industry we often seem a bit embarrassed, even ashamed of what we do.

How the advertising industry uses the power of human imagination for commercial impact should be something we’re all in awe of. We’ve created commercially viable processes to harness human creativity, craft and design skills. We’ve developed the technology to distribute the output across billions of screens. When done right, our product can attract and keep people’s attention, entertain and move people, communicate powerful ideas, create indelible memories, and influence consumer behaviour both now and in the future.

Paid advertising in its huge variety of forms continues to provide a consistent, regular, controllable way of getting a company’s core message in front of new audiences that no other marketing communication can match.

Companies have many options open to them to help reduce costs and do things more efficiently, but few growth levers. Advertising is one and it’s proven. In fact there’s arguably no more researched, picked-over and proven discipline amongst all the different kinds of commercial activity most companies do.

The excellent work of Grace Kite and others in building the ARC database, a meta-analysis of hundreds of real-world case studies from companies of all sizes, categories and using all channels, shows advertising today returns an average £3.80 revenue for every £1 spent. IPA Effectiveness award winners return more, £13 revenue for every £1 spent, but they’re outliers, the very best of the best.

Advertising’s naysayers invariably have ulterior commercial motives for undermining perceptions of what it can do. It’s rare that they’re making any significant or serious point that’s in any way testable or backed up by data as robust as this.

Global advertising spend in 2021 was around $689bn and is forecast to reach $850bn by the end of 2024. Deloitte’s calculation of the overall economic contribution of advertising suggests that every $1 spent on ads generates $6 in broader economic impact. Which means advertising’s economic impact could be around $4tn annually. Roughly equivalent to the GDP of Japan or Germany. The role we play in driving the economy, and therefore society, forward is something we should be proud of. We often highlight advertising’s societal impact when talking about social purpose, but advertising’s economic impact alone should be a sufficient source of pride.

That $689bn would have been spent on trillions of ad impressions. Never have more ads been served to more people, more often. It probably doesn’t help advertising’s ‘brand image’ that they’ve also never been shorter, viewed on smaller screens, and attended to for shorter amounts of time. The shop window for our wares has definitely got smaller, less distinctive and less enticing (although with Netflix potentially joining the party, this direction of travel could be about to change). But that’s a technical issue that our ingenuity and creativity as an industry will overcome.

Could advertising be ‘better’ today? Of course. But everything can always be better. Are there big problems that need to be fixed in today’s advertising ecosystem? Of course. But are advertising’s problems existential? Of course not.

Advertising will be with us forever

When you take a much broader historical view of advertising, it reveals that – despite the peaks and troughs, the new channels emerging and existing ones evolving – advertising as a percentage of GDP always tends to stay remarkably constant over time. For decades ad spend has hovered around 1% of GDP in the US. Its growth mirrors the growth in the economy. It’s basically a historical constant. Wherever there are eyeballs, there will be advertising.

If you are interested in original article by Tom Roach, you can find it here

PersonalBrand

Finding your creative voice: An essential guide for building your personal brand

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Every designer needs a great portfolio. But that’s not just about presenting great work. However accomplished your projects are, people will be unwilling to hire or commission you if you don’t know how to write an About page or confidently pitch yourself.

In a nutshell, you need to become your own brand. And that means finding your unique creative voice: the way you present that brand to the world.

In this article, we’ll explore ways of discovering what makes you unique as a creative and finding your own creative voice. I’ll share how I’ve done this myself for Creative Boom, the platform I founded 13 years ago, and where you’re reading this article now.

First, though, we’ll look at some examples of creatives who found their voice to show you what the result looks like in practice.

The four creatives we feature below are all graduates of the Wix Playground Academy, a free, five-week online programme that supports and encourages emerging designers by helping them build a personal portfolio.

Four creatives who’ve found their voice

1. Ben Eli

Ben Eli is a London-based multidisciplinary designer currently designing for the independent streetwear brand, Lazy Oaf. The text of his homepage and bio convey what he’s about clearly and effectively and is infused with brightness and humour. That sense of personality is mirrored perfectly by his offbeat mix of typographic styles, to the extent that you don’t even have to read the words to get the idea.

2. Noa Beyo

Noa Beyo is a third-year undergraduate student based in Israel. Still, from the confidence and in-your-face effectiveness of her portfolio site, you’d assume she was an experienced creative director. Her ‘About me’ information is beautifully brief and to the point. And in presenting it, she gives some tried-and-tested design devices, such as a rolling ticker, a fresh and startlingly inventive lease of life.

3. Gang Buron-Yi

Hailing from the Netherlands, Gang Buron-Yi is a branding designer currently working with Google Brand Studio in London. His bio tells you everything you need with alacrity and quiet conviction, and we love the clever insertion of colourful icons to evoke a playful and fun mood to proceedings.

4. Asreen Zangana

Many talented designers fail to showcase their full personalities through their portfolios. If you need inspiration in this area, then just turn to website and visual designer Asreen Zangana. Rather than hide behind bland jargon and buzzwords, he’s refreshingly honest and direct about what he has to offer and all the more convincing for it. Plus, this conventional-smashing approach is nicely matched by an out-there design that shouldn’t work but somehow does.

How the four found their voice

It’s no coincidence that all of the four creatives we featured above have benefited from the Wix Playground Academy, an initiative by Wix Design to promote excellence in web design and contribute to the creative growth of emerging designers everywhere.

Its five-week programme puts a strong emphasis on finding your creative voice, as design lead and mentor Yotam Kellner explains: “We help people who haven’t had any experience in designing and building a portfolio through workshops, mentorship and training. It’s a structured, intensive course, and quite stressful to finish a website in just five weeks. But one of our graduates, Sofia Noronha, is now at &Walsh, Jessica Walsh’s agency, in NYC.”

Building a portfolio isn’t just a technical challenge, stresses Dafna Sharabi, academic consultant and content curation at Wix Playground Academy. “You need to be bold from the start – search for your inner designer,” she explains. “You need to try different things, experience new things. That’s why the Playground offers the chance to play, to experiment. We want our designers on the course to pay attention to those moments when they’re passionate about what they’re creating. And then it’s a case of: How do they translate this into words via their website? And their brand?”

At this point, you’re probably wondering what kind of things the students learn at Wix Playground Academy. Well, I was asked to host a session on finding your creative voice as part of the course. And so here, I’ll share some of the main tips I included in my talk.

Read on to discover how to find your creative voice in practice and the methods you can use to share it effectively online.

Write a value proposition

Writing a value proposition is a good starting point to find your creative voice. Get this right, and it can act as a guiding star or anchor as you navigate choppy seas throughout your career.

To be frank, a value proposition is a positioning statement that explains where you’re coming from and what you offer. It can be as long or as short as you like, but three paragraphs are usually about right.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. This thing is going to change many times over your career. So don’t overthink it: just get thinking about:

  • how you help others or improve their situation
  • the benefits you bring
  • how you’re special and differ from your competition.

Once you’ve finalised your value proposition, you can use it to improve your brand, your about page, your social media bios, and how you pitch yourself to potential clients or employers, or even journalists.

Why would someone hire or work with you? What benefits do you bring? How are you different from the rest? Your value proposition will reveal all.

So how did I write my own value proposition? Read on, and I’ll explain.

How I wrote my value proposition

Creative Boom originally began as a side project and a hobby, but it eventually reached a point where it had taken off and started to provide an income. It was time for me to write a value proposition. But I found it really difficult to define who we were or what our platform stood for.

This is when I went back to basics and thought, okay – what value does Creative Boom bring? How does it solve our audience’s problems? What benefits does it offer? How does it differ from the competition?

From here, I created our value proposition: the main reason anyone would want to click on Creative Boom. It’s a simple positioning statement that explains why we’re relevant, what value we might bring, and why anyone should follow us rather than our competition. Here it is in full:

Celebrating, inspiring & supporting

Creative Boom is one of the UK’s leading platforms dedicated to the creative industries. Founded in 2009, we deliver inspiration, insight and advice to seven million creative professionals each year.

From artists, graphic designers and illustrators to photographers, filmmakers and animators – we help creatives at every stage of their careers, that’s whether they’re graduates, working at an agency or in-house, freelancing or leading a team.

By exploring creativity through our online magazine, podcast, and entire network, we honour our original ethos: to celebrate, inspire and support the creative community, particularly the underrepresented, offering an inclusive space where everyone feels welcome.

This text explains why we’re relevant. Fundamentally, we’re about solving creative professionals’ problems by being a friendly and inclusive community that helps them progress in their careers.

It explains the value we bring is by offering inspiration, insight and advice – plus the chance to be featured to enjoy some free exposure and benefit from SEO.

And our unique differentiation is that we’re not elitists. We’re cuddly, and we want people to feel included when they visit our site.

Alternatively, I can break this value proposition down to just this one sentence: “Creative Boom is a friendly and inclusive platform that delivers inspiration, insight and advice to seven million creative professionals each year.”

Helping you evolve

A value proposition like this helps establish your brand voice and promote yourself to others. It keeps you focused, remembering who you are and what you stand for.

That means that however much your practice evolves and changes over time, you probably won’t need to rewrite your value proposition. Indeed, summarising the core principles that drive you can help when going through big changes.

Indeed, the 10th anniversary of Creative Boom in 2019 led us to embark on a major redesign, it also provided invaluable when, a year later, I launched a podcast, inviting both emerging and established creatives from all over the world – as it did in 2021 when we launched our online shop.

What really helped before I did all of this was knowing my voice and reading back aloud that value proposition.

Beyond the value proposition

Writing a value proposition is a great start in building your personal brand. But it will only go so far. For all your self-promotion, from designing your portfolio site to the way you post on social media, you have to add a dash of your unique personality, too.

If you’re struggling to find a consistent creative voice throughout all these activities, one strategy can be to create a mood board of all the things you loved as a kid – whether that’s watching Snoopy cartoons, listening to Queen or writing fan fiction. Because ultimately, business is about people. And people love people.

Here’s another tip: find a photograph of yourself that makes you smile and pin it to your wall by your desk. Look at it frequently. Remind yourself to be kind to that wonderful human. And remind you to check in with yourself once in a while. To remember who you are and what you stand for.

And one further tip: create a document today, right now, that is your Feelgood List. Whenever someone says something nice – via a tweet, an email, or in real life – write it down and add it to your Feelgood List. Because, trust me, you’re going to have days when you don’t believe in yourself. When you’re confused or lost, this list will help.

Do these three things, and no matter what the creative world or life throws at you, you will stay on track, keep improving, be a success, and most of all, thoroughly enjoy the adventure.

For more tips on finding your creative voice, listen to my podcast interview with Meg Lewis in which she shares her story on building a personal brand and finding her creative superpower.

Your About Me page

Now let’s get down to some specifics. Your About Me page is key to establishing and promoting your personal brand. For many people, it’ll be the first thing they ever read about you, so make it rich and full of life. It’s your first impression so tell people who you are, what you do, and your background. People want the juice.

Include your full name, too, because many don’t, which drives journalists insane. Another bane of our life is website contact forms, so if you have one, at least provide an email address.

And if you really want to impress the media, have a ‘Press Area’ on your website; here’s a great, if outdated example. Alternatively, just add a sub-headed title on your About page, reading ‘For Press Enquiries’, then underneath, say how you’re available for interviews.

A bonus is to add in a note that you’ve got a decent microphone, so you are available for podcast interviews. And also, mention you have press packs available, plus professional headshots. It all helps.

Check in with others

Do you know what’s funny, though? We still lose our way – quite frequently, which is why it’s good to check in with others now and again.

If you’re a freelancer, that might mean your regular clients and collaborators. If you’re a salaried designer, that might mean colleagues and managers. For us at Creative Boom, it means checking in with our audience, and we do that by carrying out an annual survey and asking people for their feedback.

Here’s what some people think of Creative Boom, and as you can see, it nicely matches our value proposition.

  • “Creative Boom is personal. It’s your friend. It’s a WALL-E Pixar character that’s not a big publishing corporation.”
  • “Everything Creative Boom does comes from a place of genuine passion and positivity.”
  • “Creative feels very inclusive and maybe not so London-centric compared to others in the field.”

I share these not to boast but to show you that positive feedback can reinforce your knowledge of where your distinctive creative voice lies. Conversely, if you’re getting mixed or negative feedback, it’s a sign that your creative voice is not coming through, or maybe you’ve misidentified what your true voice is.

The work is worth it

It might sound like a lot of work and hassle. But believe me, it’s worth it. Case in point: at the beginning of 2021 – thanks to finding my creative voice – I finally let go of my PR business to work full-time on Creative Boom. My platform has grown so fast since then, that it’s become the success I always hoped for and dreamed of.

My experience shows that a strong creative voice – your own brand voice – will guide you and help you have a successful venture or career. The rewards will come your way.

Wix Playground: Get involved!

Wix Playground celebrates design culture and creative freedom online. Its Playground Academy is a five-week intensive online program for new designers looking for the perfect reason to focus on developing their creative identity and building a stand out personal brand. Wix Playground also organises monthly events for creatives and publishes a free design newsletter. To learn more and get involved, visit the website.

Full article by Katy Cowan can is here

SEO

8 SEO costs that impact your ROI

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In SEO, there are obvious costs, but also some hidden costs. Learn how to understand the true, full cost of SEO.

One of the most common questions about SEO is “how much does SEO cost?” And to be honest, it can be tough to answer. 

So many variables go into SEO costs. Some are obvious, while some are not. With SEO, it comes down to getting what you pay for, like most things in life. 

SEO is an investment but one that’s sure to pay off in the long run – if you invest correctly. 

The two largest (and obvious) SEO expenses 

The two main factors contributing to SEO cost are the people (in-house and/or the agency you hire to help you) and the SEO software and tools you invest in. This will be where the bulk of your cost comes from. 

Let’s break them down. 

1. SEO specialists 

There are pros and cons to hiring someone to manage your SEO in-house vs. hiring an agency with an SEO team to assist you in optimizing your website. I won’t go too far down that rabbit hole. Just remember that you get what you pay for, regardless of what you choose to do. 

The more knowledge and experience a person or team of people have, the more their services will cost. While that may sound like an obvious statement, paying for someone’s expertise is often overlooked and undervalued.

SEO involves a lot of strategy. No one size fits all formula can magically make a website rank better and increase conversions. An SEO specialist or team must adapt and adjust its strategy to account for unforeseen challenges. 

For example, when Google releases a core algorithm change, it can tank a client’s rankings on SERPs, negatively affecting their SEO. When this happens, it’s up to the SEO specialist to adjust their strategy to account for the ranking signals Google is currently prioritizing.

2. SEO software and tools

The other significant cost associated with SEO is the software and tools you need to do your job.

There is no shortage of SEO tools available, both free and paid. They all market themselves similarly and claim to make optimization easier. But again, you get what you pay for.

Free tools are great for a small business that is just dipping its toes into optimizing its website, but they don’t give you all the information you need to do a thorough job. Furthermore, they may not be meant for SEO at all.

A prime example is Google Ads Keyword Planner. While it’s a great tool for paid search marketing efforts, it isn’t meant for SEO. The keywords used for PPC are sometimes different from those used for SEO.

A common mistake many people make is paying for lots of SEO tools or software licenses that essentially do the same things.

Again, without going down a rabbit trail since these are the obvious expenses, an example here of the tools you need are for auditing, research and crawling. You might find those all in one suite or use separate applications to meet your needs.

Other (less obvious) SEO expenses

3. IT and web development

Rarely, if ever, does a site come to an SEO team error-free. Therefore, the first thing most SEO professionals will do is run a technical audit on your website and fix the errors they discover. They do this because they know their on-page, content, and off-page SEO efforts would be wasted on a website with many technical issues that would ultimately keep the site from being indexed or ranking well. 

Technical errors range in complexity; therefore, the time, effort and cost to fix them also vary, but they often require the assistance of an IT person or a web developer. So, that often adds to the cost (whether internal or external) you’ll wind up paying. 

4. Content creation

Another unforeseen cost is the amount you may have to pay for quality content creation. 

Having high-quality content is an important piece in an SEO strategy. After all, you have to have something to optimize, right? 

If you aren’t creating high-quality content, you aren’t going to rank or get much organic visibility. Google and other search engines prioritize providing their users with the most up-to-date, reliable, and relevant content possible. So producing content that speaks to your expertise is essential for ranking well. 

Good copy for a website ranges in cost depending on the ask and the individual or team tasked with producing it. But it’s an expense you should prioritize in your SEO budget. 

5. Visual content

Another expense that needs to be factored into your SEO costs, especially if you’re doing SEO in-house, is visual content. You’ll need to use a subscription service or invest in original imagery from a photographer.

There are “free” options available for sourcing photos. But I don’t advise using them. It’s common to get cease and desist letters from lawyers telling you that you violated copyright laws by using these “free” images – or even worse, demanding you pay thousands of dollars in damages. 

Therefore, the best practice is to subscribe to a stock image service (e.g., Shutterstock, Bigstock), or hire a professional photographer to take photos for your website. Costs for this range but add to your budget nonetheless.

6. User experience

Improving your website’s user experience (UX) is often necessary when working on your SEO. If your end goal is conversion, you may get deeper optimization of what happens for users after they land on the site and click through.

UX involves making your website a pleasant experience for the user and helping them complete their goals efficiently. Tasks associated with UX often include improving the site speed and navigation, making the page mobile-friendly, compressing photo and video files, and more. 

But as with everything else, dipping into conversion rate optimization, which often includes UX work, comes with a price.

7. Local SEO

Local SEO efforts specifically can have hidden costs associated with many outlined, including the need for UX, copy and visual content.

Beyond that, it specifically has needs like data feed service subscriptions (to scale what used to be manual work) and any map pack advertising in Google Ads (or others) to supplement visibility.

It can often feel like local search can be done quickly and on a budget. In a lot of cases, for small businesses, it can. Beware, though, that the more competitive industry or more complex the business model you have, the more it will take in tools, content and time. 

8. Additional tools

You may need some extra tools to test things like:

  • User interaction.
  • Searching for and monitoring potential plagiarism.
  • Heatmapping of your website.

These tools come with a price and aren’t necessarily something you’ll need to budget for right away, but you may find them useful later. 

What you can do to prevent unforeseen expenditures during an SEO campaign

Fair warning. These can be pricey. A comprehensive site audit can cost as much as 3-4 months of SEO services. 

A comprehensive site audit focuses on three key components:

  • Technical factors
  • On-page SEO
  • Off-page SEO or external factors

I realize that the prospect of doing an expensive site audit before you do any actual SEO work may sound crazy, especially if you’re operating on a tight budget. But the benefit of running a comprehensive site audit is that you will know ahead of time what issues you may run into when optimizing your website. This allows you to budget for these fixes now, so you’re not surprised when they arise later.

Knowing where things stand across the spectrum of search variables and needs can uncover what would be a hidden cost that you should factor into the true, full cost of SEO for your organization.

Conclusion

SEO is a big investment. But it’s sure to pay off well in the long run. Understanding the obvious and hidden costs will help you prepare your budget and measure your ROI from SEO.

You can rear full article by Corey Morris here

How To Check & Remove Toxic Backlinks

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You’ve done everything the right way to get your website found by search engines.

You’ve created relevant content rich with keywords, added the right metadata, and ensured your layout is optimized for crawling by search engine spiders.

You should be at the top of search engine results – but you’re not.

What’s going on?

Believe it or not, your backlinks may be working against you.

The good news is that you can run an analysis of your backlinks to find the bad ones that may be bringing your website’s rankings down.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • The basics of backlinks.
  • How backlinks can both help and hurt your SEO rankings.
  • Ways you can identify and remove toxic backlinks with WebCEO.

Let’s start at the beginning and take a closer look at backlinks, how they work, and how they affect SEO rankings.

What Are Backlinks?

Backlinks, which are also referred to as incoming links or inbound links, are connections between one website and another.

Search engines, like Google and Bing, treat them like a vote of confidence from the referring site.

In other words, the more websites that are linking to a specific page, the more confidence the search engine has in the quality of that page’s content, which in turn plays a major role in determining where your site will be ranked.

This makes backlinks a vital part of off-site SEO practices.

Link building is so important, in fact, that there is a specific type of SEO professional who is known as a link builder.

Link builders spend their entire workday building and maintaining backlinks to increase traffic and boost page scores.

All Backlinks Are Not Created Equal

You didn’t think every incoming link was as good as the next, did you?

Of course not, you’re a savvy SEO specialist.

And you already know some backlinks are more valuable than others – and not just because of the traffic they send to your website.

Because we know link quality can vary, it’s time to look further into what separates a good or “safe” link from a bad or “toxic” one.

What Are Good Backlinks?

Quite simply, good or “safe” backlinks help your search engine ranking.

Search engines keep the exact details of what makes quality links under wraps, but good backlinks tend to share the following traits:

1. Good Backlinks Are From Authoritative Sites

Backlinks from popular and trustworthy sites are very useful for boosting your search engine rankings.

This concept is known as “domain authority,” and sites with a high level of authority can pass that “juice” on to your site.

On the other hand, bad backlinks from spammy, low-authority sites can have the opposite effect.

Think about it this way, which would you trust more, a link from the Wall Street Journal or one from a site advertising off-brand Chinese prescription medications?

Search engines feel the same way.

2. Good Backlinks Use Specific Anchor Texts With Your Target Keyword

Anchor text is the word or phrase users click on to visit a linked URL. (For example, “anchor text” in the previous sentence.)

Concise anchor text using your target keyword has a correlation with higher rankings as it gives the search engines a better idea of what type of content is on the linked page.

3. Good Backlinks Are From Sites Related To Your Page Content

Because Google seeks relevant content that provides supplemental information, the search engine values links from related sites over those from un-related sites.

This helps ensure queries are answered with helpful content, rather than random links from sites with no clear connection.

So, while your One Direction fan page may be a must-visit for Harry Styles fans, linking to your used car dealership’s website from it isn’t doing you any good.

And in fact, it may raise red flags and hurt your ranking. But more on that later.

4. Good Backlinks Are Dofollow Links

Make sure any relevant, good backlinks to your site are marked as “dofollow” links.

Search engine spiders track “dofollow” links from one site to the next.

These are the ordinary links you’re used to.

Conversely, search engines ignore nofollow links, or those with explicit instructions to crawlers to pass them by.

These nofollow links are commonly found on things like press release pages and paid advertisements and are not considered when determining your ranking.

That’s not to say nofollow links without their value. Just being mentioned on a high-quality site can give your brand an awareness boost.

However, that nofollow link will not boost your rank on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Nofollow links are basically the digital equivalent of Kylie Jenner tweeting that she loves your jeans.

But for SEO purposes, they’re not doing you much good.

So, where possible, aim for dofollow links.

We’ve covered what good backlinks look like, now it’s time to examine the flip side: bad backlinks.

What Are Toxic Backlinks?

As you might expect, toxic backlinks are ones that hurt your website’s reputation in Google’s eyes.

Many of these types of links have their origin in black hat SEO tactics, unethical attempts to game the search engine algorithm to get higher rankings.

To combat this SEO cheating, Google penalizes sites caught using these black hat tactics.

How To Check & Remove Toxic Backlinks

While there are a practically endless number of ways SEO black hats will try to get over on Google, there are a few that are obvious clues a backlink may be untrustworthy.

1. Toxic Backlinks Are From Spammy Sites

Most people are smart enough to know a Nigerian prince doesn’t really want to give them $10 million, but are you just as smart when it comes to noticing spammy backlinks?

There are entire websites dedicated to selling illegal or irrelevant products and these sites are usually packed to the gills with spammy backlinks, sometimes to your site.

Not only are these annoying, but they can be downright harmful to your website.

And it’s not because you don’t want them associated with your brand – if you have too many backlinks from spam sites, search engines can penalize you, even though you may be completely innocent of any wrongdoing.

In fact, many times you may not even know that spammy sites have linked to your website.

So, it’s important to always be on the lookout for spammy, bad backlinks.

2. Paid Link Mills Often Produce Toxic Backlinks

Paid link schemes have been around almost as long as search engines, from the first time someone realized backlinks contribute to rankings.

The way paid link schemes work is straightforward: links are sold either alone or as part of a package, to provide backlinks to site owners looking for a quick way to shoot up the rankings.

But search engines are aware of this tactic.

They don’t want top search engine results to just go to whoever bought the most backlinks, so these link exchanges are explicitly against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

As soon as search engines discover a new link mill, they start applying a penalty to sites using it.

3. Toxic Backlinks Can Come From Forum Or Blog Comment Links (Particularly Foreign Ones)

Let us start by stating: not all forum links are bad.

Those from quality sites with established users and with related content are beneficial.

However, like link mills, if you have hundreds of low-quality links coming in from foreign discussion forums, you’ll want to disavow them before they damage the ranking you’re working so hard to build.

4. Toxic Backlinks Are Sometimes Hidden

Possibly the very first black hat SEO tactic developed, unscrupulous webmasters are still trying to flimflam search engines with hidden backlinks, which are exactly what they sound like.

By using text manipulation, background colors, or other means, backlinks are hidden from users and search engines.

This is a clear violation of Google’s policies.

It’s important to make sure any links back to your site are clear, visible, and within Google’s policies.

5. Paid Or Sponsored Links That Pass PageRank Are Toxic

Another backlinking no-no is passing PageRank to the buyer of the ad.

While buying or selling pay-per-click ads is a perfectly legitimate practice, Google frowns upon links that are paid for, rather than organic.

You should always use qualifying attributes (e.g. rel=”sponsored”) to identify these links and avoid being penalized.

Make sure you’re validating link attributes to stay within Google’s policies.

How To Check & Remove Toxic Backlinks

So, we’ve got it all figured out now: safe backlinks are good, toxic backlinks are bad. But now what?

What’s the best way to check your links and clear out the ones that are harmful?

You could spend hours combing through every page of your Google Analytics account, identifying, visiting, and checking every individual link.

Or you could do it the easy way, with WebCEO Toxic Link Checker.

The most powerful and reliable spam link checker in the SEO sphere, WebCEO is integrated with Majestic, the largest link index database in the industry, which gives us access to data from over 2,371,111,956,878 URLs, with more being added daily.

It’s easy to use:

1. Quickly See All Of Your Backlinks: Analyze Your Backlink Profile At A Glance

Once you sign up for WebCEO, you’ll get a full list of domains linking to your website in a Linking Domains report.

The WebCEO Backlink Checker helps you quickly determine how many backlinks are pointing at your website, identify common anchor texts, check the diversity and authority of linking domains, and view the ratio of toxic/non-toxic links.

How To Check & Remove Toxic Backlinks

2. Easily Discover Good Vs. Toxic Backlinks: Identify The Quality

WebCEO’s Toxic Pages report makes it easy to determine which backlinks are helping your search credibility – and which are having the opposite effect.

You can evaluate each backlink individually using analysis metrics like anchor texts, Domain Trust Flow, Domain Citation Flow, Alexa Traffic Rank to determine which links to keep.

How To Check & Remove Toxic Backlinks

3. Instantly See Harmful Links: Which Links Are Causing Your Site To Lose Rankings?

With a proprietary toxicity formula, which can be fine-tuned to your needs, WebCEO helps you spot bad links so you can disavow them and eliminate the negative impact they have on your ranking.

How To Check & Remove Toxic Backlinks

4. Remove Toxic Links & Stop Them From Harming Your Site: Disavow With Ease

It has never been easier to create, import, and export disavow.txt files.

WebCEO has integrated functionality, allowing you to do it with just a few clicks.

How To Check & Remove Toxic Backlinks

Screenshot from WebCEO, February 2022

5. Get Alerts When New Toxic Backlinks Show Up: Schedule Automated Scanning & Set Alerts

Once you’ve cleaned all those pesky bad backlinks, you want to make sure they don’t reappear.

And if they do, you should be ready to disavow them.

WebCEO has an automatic toxic link alert feature that can alert you when new links to your website are discovered.How To Check & Remove Toxic BacklinksScreenshot from WebCEO, February 2022

You can set WebCEO to automatically scan websites you want to monitor.

You can also set email alerts to tasks, so you’ll know about changes immediately.

Between managing your website and staying on top of changing SEO algorithms, you have enough to do.

You can read original article by Brian Gareth here

complete-local-seo-audit-checklist

How To Do A Complete Local SEO Audit: 10-Point Checklist

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Are you missing out on valuable opportunities to rank, get found, and convert local customers? This 10-point local SEO audit can help.

At its core, SEO is a multi-faceted keyword, content, and competitive analysis exercise.

Local SEO, by extension, includes several specific tasks geared to establishing the relevance and authority of a business within a targeted geographic area.

Even before you can convince a local consumer your search result is the best answer, you must it prove to the search engines and earn a high enough ranking to get in the running.

Search engines like Google reference many different data points to determine who gets top billing in organic search engine results, featured snippets, maps, local packs, image, video, or other SERP features.

How can you identify and prioritize optimizations with the greatest potential to deliver converting traffic to your website and your door?

In this column, we’ll walk through an evaluation of each key facet of your local search presence and uncover your best opportunities to improve search rankings.

What does a comprehensive local SEO audit checklist entail?

  1. Keywords/SERPs.
  2. Website.
  3. Google Business Profile.
  4. Review management.
  5. Local business listings and citations.
  6. Local content.
  7. Google Search Console.
  8. Analytics.
  9. Backlinks.
  10. Competitor analysis.

These tasks are listed in typical order of completion during a full audit, but some can be accomplished concurrently.

1. Keyword/SERP Audit

The natural place to start a local SEO audit is in SERPs for the keywords and phrases you are hoping your business will be found for, in order to identify where you stand relative to your competitors and other websites/content.

This research can help you quickly identify where you have established some level of authority/momentum to build on, as well as keywords upon which you should not waste your time and effort.

SEO is a long-term strategy so no keyword should be summarily dismissed. Even so, it’s generally best to focus on those keywords you realistically have a chance to rank and drive traffic for.

You may determine some keywords are better pursued in the short term via a paid Google Ads strategy until you are able to build up your local organic authority.

There are several excellent SEO and keyword research tools available to automate the process of gathering search results for specific or topical groups of keywords and assigning value to keywords based on metrics such as search volume or keyword difficulty.

Ideally, you’ll choose a tool that will break down the different types of search features, so you can understand whether you or a competitor has secured any of this search real estate and then devise strategies or tactics to proceed accordingly.

Alternatively, you can conduct your own searches manually. In that case, do so in an Incognito Window in Google Chrome or Private Window in Safari to remove potential bias/personalization tied to your Google login, location, or personal search history.

Most automation tools have processes in place to do the same.

For those businesses also running PPC campaigns, close attention should be paid to the keywords and search terms working there.

It’s likely that top-performing PPC keywords will also be top performers from an SEO perspective.

SEO and PPC should complement each other for optimal results.

Different people search in different ways and it’s important to not limit your research to single keywords, but rather account for the various ways and phrases your audience may use to try to find you or your offerings.

Your keyword analysis and the resulting content you create should address the intent of searchers, which will vary depending on where they are in the buying cycle.

Some are just beginning their search for a product or service and are simply looking for information e.g. “Where can I find x?”, while others are ready to buy now e.g. “Order x near me.”

A broader keyword view will provide a better picture of the overall strength of your presence and where to best focus your attention.

2. Website Audit

With your focused keyword data in hand, you can now conduct a full keyword and technical website audit to ensure your site is optimized for maximum crawlability, indexability, and visibility.

A typical audit is designed to analyze the underlying structure, content, and overall site experience.

Here again, there are many site auditing tools that will crawl a website and then identify issues and prioritize actions to be taken based on SEO best practices.

A website audit and optimization can be broken down into several buckets.

Page Optimization

Web page optimization is all about ensuring pages are well structured, focused around topical keywords and provide a positive user experience.

As a search engine crawls a web page it looks for signals to determine what the page is about and what questions it can answer.

These crawlers analyze the entire page to determine its focus but specifically focus on Page Titles and Headings as primary descriptors.

Ideally, pages are keyword-focused and unique.

As such, keyword variations should be used consistently in Titles, URLs, Headings, and meta descriptions.

Google, and the other search engines, appreciate well-structured pages and will grab or create the components they need to construct a search engine result similar to the one below for “breakfast in Barrie.”

Note how the keyword “breakfast” is highlighted in the meta description.Google search for breakfastScreenshot from search for [breakfast in Barrie], Google, February 2022 Specifically, an audit will highlight issues related to:

  • Missing Title tags, or those that are too long (60 characters max) or duplicated.
  • Headings (particularly H1s) that are missing or duplicated.
  • Meta descriptions that are missing, too long (160 characters max), or duplicated.

Another important potential tag issue raised in an audit, depending on the nature of your local business, is image alt text.

As a best practice, all images should include relevant descriptive filenames and alt text, which may include pertinent keywords.

This becomes particularly important when images (e.g. product or service photos) are central to your business, as image carousels can and will show up in Web search results.

In every case, attention should be paid to the images appearing on your primary ranking pages.

Internal Link Audit

Over time, the various links within a website can become stale or outdated as content is moved or deleted.

A link audit will help you quickly identify any potential misdirected or broken links, which can create a less than optimal experience for your site visitors.

Links are likewise signals the search engines use to determine the flow of a website and its ability to direct searchers to appropriate, authoritative answers to their questions.

Part of this audit should include the identification of opportunities to crosslink prominent pages.

For example, if a page within your site has keywords that reference content on another page a link may be created.

This can have the effect of boosting both pages, provided the link logically guides users to more relevant content or an appropriate conversion point.

External links should also be considered, especially when there is an opportunity to link to an authoritative source of information.

From a local business perspective, this may include linking to relevant local organizations or events.

Pro tip: These links should ideally be opened in new browser windows, so your site visitors are able to continue on your site after they have explored any external links.

Schema Review

Featured snippets are increasingly superseding traditional organic search results in Google, as the search engine aims to provide the answers to questions directly within its SERPs.

Local businesses have an opportunity to have their content highlighted as featured snippets if they:

  • Publish highly authoritative and relevant content.
  • Use structured schema markup to tag content such as their local business details, products, events, FAQs.

An effective local SEO audit should include the identification of content within a website to which schema can be applied.

Mobile Audit

As more consumers begin searching via their mobile devices – especially for local services – it naturally becomes important for local businesses to provide a positive mobile web experience.

It will, in turn, affect how they are viewed and ranked by the search engines.

In short, websites need to load quickly, be easily navigated, and enable seamless user interaction.

Google offers a range of free mobile testing and three mobile-specific monitoring tools (Page Experience, Core Web Vitals, Mobile Usability) in Google Search Console.

More on this toolset below.

More in-depth user experience and SEO analysis can be done via Google Lighthouse, though a local business owner will likely want to enlist the help of a web developer to action any of the recommendations this tool provides.

Duplicate Content

High-quality, authoritative content is, by definition, original content.

As such, it’s important to let Google know if your website contains any content/pages which you did not create, by adding a canonical tag to the HTML header of the page.

Not doing so can have a detrimental effect on your authority and, by extension, your ability to rank.

Most site auditing tools will flag content that requires or has malformed canonical tags.

3. Google Business Profile Audit

A Google Business Profile (GBP) effectively represents a secondary website and highly visible point of presence for most local businesses.

An accurate, comprehensive GBP is critical to establishing visibility in Google Maps and organic search results.

A Google Business Profile audit should focus on the accuracy and completeness of the various components within the profile including:

  • Business information and location details.
  • Correct primary business category.
  • Hours of operation.
  • Correct pin location in Google Maps.
  • Proper categorization as a physical location or service area business.
  • Products.
  • Services.
  • Photos.
  • Offers.
  • Updates.
  • Events.
  • Appointment link(s).
  • Informational content.

The more complete the profile is, the more likely it will be viewed as a reliable local resource and be given appropriate billing in the search results.

Assuming you have claimed and are authorized to manage your GBP, you can access and edit your info directly within the search results.

Google Business Profile

4. Review Management

Another very important aspect of a GBP is reviews.

Local business customers have an opportunity and are increasingly willing to write reviews, which appear on the GBP for other customers to view and play a significant role in determining visibility in the local map pack.

Google will notify business owners as soon as reviews are submitted and they should be responded to ASAP. This goes for negative reviews just as much as positive ones.

However, we all get busy and so a complete audit should include an analysis of your reviews to ensure none have fallen through the cracks. This will also help determine whether there are recurring customer service and satisfaction issues or themes that need to be addressed.

Of course, there are also several other places for consumers to submit reviews including Facebook, local review sites like Yelp, and industry-specific sites such as TripAdvisor and Houzz.

A full audit should take inventory of reviews left on any of these services as they can show up in search results.

The search engines and savvy modern consumers will most certainly find them.

A quick way to discover what reviews you may have on lesser-known properties is to simply search “‘your business name’ reviews.”

Alternatively, here too there are several good software platforms designed to help business owners ask for and manage their reviews on GBP and other review sites.

Pro tip: Request positive reviews from all customers and politely suggest they reference the product or service they are reviewing, as this can have a positive effect from a keyword ranking perspective.

. Local Business Listing/Citation Audit

Local business listings and citations provide search engines with a way of confirming a business are both local and reputable within a specific geographic region.

It is important to have a presence in reputable local directories, review sites, business directories (e.g. Chamber of Commerce), or local partner sites.

Depending on the size and scope of your local business an audit of your listings and citations can be done in an automated or manual fashion.

Business listings and citation management tools can be used to find, monitor and update all primary citations with your proper Name, Address, Phone Number (aka NAP), and other pertinent business details found in broader listings (e.g. website address, business description.)

If you manage a limited number of locations and have the time, one quick method of identifying where your current listings can be found is to simply conduct a search on your business name.

The first 3-4 pages of search results should reveal the same.

If the goal is to understand where you are missing listing and citation opportunities, you can conduct a search on the list of keywords you have researched and want to be found for.

The most valuable directories and listing sites will be those which appear in the search results for these keywords.

It’s also important that you find and resolve any duplicate listings to prevent confusing customers and search engines alike with outdated, inaccurate information.

6. Local Content Audit

As noted, people search differently and require different types of information depending on where they are in their buying journey.

A well-structured local web presence will include content tailored and distributed for consumption during each stage of this journey, to bolster visibility and awareness.

You want to be found throughout your customer’s search experience.

A content audit can be used to make sure you have content for each of the journey buckets your audience members may find themselves in.

Informational content may be distributed via social or other external channels or published on your website to help educate your consumers on the products, services, and differentiators you offer at the beginning of their path to purchase.

This content ideally answers your prospects’ why, how, and what type questions.

Transactional content is designed to address those consumers who already know what they want, but are in the process of deciding where or who to purchase from.

This type of content may include reviews, testimonials, or competitive comparisons.

Navigational content ensures when people click through from Google after having searched your brand name or a variation thereof, they land on a page or information validating your position as a leader in your space.

This page should also include a clear call to action with the assumption they have arrived with a specific goal in mind.

Commercial content addresses those consumers who have signaled a strong intent to buy.

Effective local business sites and social pages must include offers, coupons, discounts, and clear paths to purchase.

Quality content is content your audience wants to consume, like, and share. In 2022, for many businesses, this means considering and experimenting with content beyond text and images.

Video content shared via platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and others is easier to consume and generally more engaging.

YouTube videos, in particular, can be optimized and do appear within organic search results.

Keep in mind, each social network includes a search function and any content distributed here should incorporate targeted keywords and hashtags to enhance visibility.

Pro tip: Make it easy for your readers to like and share your content by including visible share buttons; a simple best practice missed by far too many website owners.

While social signals are not a search ranking factor, shared content has a higher chance of being linked to, which in turn can positively affect authority and organic visibility.

7. Google Search Console Review

Google Search Console is an invaluable free resource for data related to keyword and content performance, indexing, schema/rich results validation, mobile/desktop experience monitoring, and security/manual actions.

A complete local SEO audit must include a review and analysis of this data to identify and react to strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats outlined in each section.

Website owners and managers will want to pay particular attention to any issues related to pages not being crawled/indexed or manual actions having been taken based on questionable practices, as both can have a detrimental effect on search engine visibility.

Google Search Console does send notifications for these types of issues as well as regular performance updates, but an audit will ensure nothing has been overlooked.

Google Search Console Overview

8. Analytics Review

Whether you are using Google Analytics or another site/visitor tracking solution, the data available here is useful during an audit to validate top and lesser-performing content, traffic sources, audience profiles, and paths to purchase.

Findings in analytics will be key to your content audit.

As you review your site analytics you may ask the following questions:

Are my top-visited pages also my top ranking pages in search engines?
Which are my top entry pages from organic search?
Which pages/content are not receiving the level of traffic or engagement desired?
What is the typical path to purchase on my site and can it be condensed or otherwise optimized?
Which domains are my top referrers and are there opportunities to further leverage these sites for backlinks? (see Backlink Audit below).
Use Google Analytics (or another tool of your choice) to find the answers to these questions so you can focus and prioritize your content and keyword optimization efforts.

9. Backlink Audit

Backlinks or inbound links are similar to citations but are effectively any links to your website pages from other third-party websites.

Links remain an important factor in determining the authority of a website as they lend validity if they come from relevant, reputable sources.

However, links from non-relevant or non-reputable sites can do more harm than good from an SEO perspective, and sometimes these links can be created without your knowledge.

It is therefore wise to conduct a backlink audit every six to twelve months depending on the size and scope of your website.

As with other components of an audit, there are several good free and paid backlink tools available, including a link monitoring service in Google Search Console, which is a great place to start.Google Search Console LinksScreenshot from Google Search Console, February 2022

In terms of auditing linking domains, you should quickly determine if there are any you don’t recognize or those which appear non-reputable or irrelevant to your local business.

Depending on the source, nature of the link, and the content it links to, it may be necessary to inquire about having the link removed.

An effective backlink audit has the dual purpose of identifying and building links via potentially valuable backlink sources, which can positively affect your ranking and visibility.

For local businesses, reputable local sources of links are naturally beneficial in validating location.

Potential backlink sources can be researched in a variety of locations:

  • Free and paid backlink research tools such as AhrefsSemrush, or Majestic. Identify any domains where your primary competition has acquired backlinks, but you have not.
  • Any non-competitive sites appearing in the organic search results for your primary keywords are, by definition, good potential backlink sources. Look for directories you can be listed in, blogs or articles you can comment on or publications you can submit articles to.
  • Referral sources in Google Analytics may reveal domains where you already have links and may be able to acquire more.

10. Competitor Analysis

A comprehensive local SEO audit would not be complete without identifying and reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of your competition.

You may already have a good sense of who your competition is, but to begin it’s always a good idea to confirm who specifically shows up in the search results when you enter your target keywords.

These businesses/domains are your true competitors and the sites you can learn the most from.

A recent Google algorithm update appears to signal more emphasis is being placed on results tied to the immediate proximity of a business, which means the most attention should be paid to your closest high-ranking competitors.

If any of these competitors’ sites and/or pages are ranking ahead of yours, you’ll want to review what they may be doing to gain this advantage.

You can follow the same checklist of steps you would conduct for your own audit to identify how they may be optimizing their keywords, content, Google Business Profile, reviews, local business listings, or backlinks.

In general, the best way to outperform your competition is to provide a better overall experience online and off, which includes generating more relevant, high-quality content to address the questions your mutual customers have.

Prioritizing Your Action Items

A complete local SEO audit is going to produce a fairly significant list of action items.

Many of the aforementioned keyword, site, content, and backlink auditing tools do a good job of prioritizing tasks; however, the list can still be daunting.

One of the best places to start with an audit action plan is around the keywords and content you have already established some but not enough authority for.

These are your keywords, webpages, and content assets sitting on the cusp of prominence in the local organic search results and Map Packs.

Determine how to best address deficiencies or opportunities to optimize this content first before moving onto more competitive keywords or those you have less or no visibility for, as we all know, SEO is a long-term game.

These audit items should be reviewed every 6-12 months, depending on the size and scale of your web presence, for the best chance at being found by your local target audience.

You can read original article by Jeff Riddall here