Every Monday morning at 7:10 am, I am a guest contributor on CHOM 97.7 FM radio broadcasting out of Montreal (home base). It’s not a long segment – about 5 to 10 minutes every week – about everything that is happening in the world of technology and digital media. The good folks at CHOM 97.7 FM are posting these segments weekly to SoundCloud, if you’re interested in hearing more of me blathering away. I’m really excited about this opportunity, because this is the radio station that I grew up on listening to, and it really is a fun treat to be invited to the Mornings Rock with Terry and Heather B. morning show. The segment is called, CTRL ALT Delete with Mitch Joel.
This week we discussed:
Heather B. was off today.
One of the craziest weeks I have ever experienced in the digital space as a women went live on Facebook video and streamed the death of her boyfriend after a police stop (with her 4 year old child in the backseat). Beyond the tragedy and miles we have to go in terms of our society, the implications of live streaming everything can’t be underestimated. Here’s what Mark Zuckerberg had to say about it: "Yesterday, a Minnesota woman named Diamond Reynolds went live on Facebook immediately after her fiancé, Philander Castile, had been shot by police in his car. Philander later died from his wounds. In the video, Diamond’s 4-year-old daughter is watching from the back seat. My heart goes out to the Castile family and all the other families who have experienced this kind of tragedy. My thoughts are also with all members of the Facebook community who are deeply troubled by these events. The images we’ve seen this week are graphic and heartbreaking, and they shine a light on the fear that millions of members of our community live with every day. While I hope we never have to see another video like Diamond’s, it reminds us why coming together to build a more open and connected world is so important — and how far we still have to go."
Pokemon Go has taken many part of the world by storm. It’s one of the better applications of Augmented Reality, as the user is forced to go out "into the wild" and chase down Pokemon characters. People are loving it and – of course – it has already caused car accidents and injuries. Who has more fun than people?
Snapchat isn’t as ephemeral as we thought. They introduced Memories last week. Memories is a new way to save Snaps and Stories on Snapchat. It’s a personal collection of your favorite moments. So, don’t think that everything that you snap disappears once it’s viewed.
Editor note: This is a section of our soon to be completely redone SEO Guide. Enjoy!
Just like with regular SEO, local SEO has many misconceptions about strategy, tactics, and what should be happening when you put together a campaign. With this post, I aim to dispel the myths and misconceptions by going through every part of the process from beginning to end, starting with a local competition analysis. From there we will talk about the building blocks of local SEO: keyword targeting, technical SEO, content, and links.
When approaching any SEO endeavor, it is best to approach with the mindset of not gaming Google, but using white hat, holistic optimization best practices that will help make your site stand the test of time. Without further ado, I’d like to get right into it, because this guide is long. Grab a cup of coffee, sit back, relax, and feel free to comment, like, and share when you’re done.
Local Competition Analysis
A local competition analysis can make or break your local SEO campaign. By analyzing your competition, you can find out about the most important things they are doing to achieve organic results. From this competition analysis, you can move forward knowing that the information you have will help you achieve the results that you are looking for.
By looking at content, it is possible to figure out: what topics the competition is writing about, how many words are they writing on average, and the frequency of their content updates. By looking at content thoroughly, you can gain a clear understanding of what they are doing so you can adapt your strategy and beat theirs accordingly.
By looking at links, it is possible to figure out things like how many links the competition is getting, what kind of links, who they’re getting their links from, how often they are getting links, and when they are usually getting their links.
By looking at on-site factors like on-page optimization, it is also possible to develop a strategy that will outlast and beat their local strategy.
The factors you analyze in this local competition analysis will help you create a winning strategy.
Factors to Include in a Local Competition Analysis
Focusing on your market, your niche, and your locale, you will want to perform a deep local competition analysis. On the surface, a local competition analysis will include the following factors: content, links, and on-page SEO. Diving deeper, the local competition analysis should include the following in order to gain a clear picture of the local competitiveness of the market. Please make note that not all of these factors will increase local rankings – some will, but they are here in order to help you create a winning local strategy based on everything the competition is doing.
Local SEO Directories
Niche local sites
Editorial local links
Chamber of Commerce Links
Local .GOV links
Local .EDU links
Who is writing the content?
What is the content about?
When is the content being written?
Where is the content focused (locally)?
Why is the content being written?
How many social shares is the content getting? (While not a ranking factor*, this metric will help you in terms of finding quality content topics that resonate with the social audience).
John Mueller: “So in general, I don’t think we even see what people are doing on your web site. If they are filling out forms or not, if they are converting and actually buying something… So if we can’t see that, then that is something we cannot take into account. So from my point of view, that is not something I’d really treat as a ranking factor.
But of course if people are going to your web site and filling out forms or signing up for your service or newsletter, then generally that is a sign that you are doing the right things. That people are going there and finding it interesting enough to take a step to leave their information as well. So I’d see that as a positive thing in general, but I wouldn’t assume it is something that Google would pick up as a ranking factor and use to kind of promote your web site in search automatically.”
On-Page Technical SEO Includes:
High quality, validated HTML and CSS coding
Schema.org coding for local SEO
Locally-optimized title tags
Locally-optimized meta descriptions
Locally-optimized on-page copy with tight topical and keyword focus
What You are Attempting to Obtain During the Competition Analysis
This competition analysis should focus on the top ten results on Google. Do a search for your local area + keyword phrase in an industry you are targeting. For example, “Orange County personal injury lawyers”.
Use a combination of link analysis tools like Google Search Console, Majestic, SEMRush, Raven Tools, and AHREFs; export all the data; put together that data; and analyze the link profile. I recommend using at least two or three link profile analysis tools because single tools by themselves do not always have all of the data available.
What you are looking for in this link profile are things like:
Local SEO Directories
What directories do these sites have? What niche local links do these sites have? What kind of editorial local links do these sites have? Do these sites have any chamber of commerce links, and if so, which ones? Do these sites have any local .GOV or .EDU links?
Directories still work as a linking tactic, if it is done with high enough quality links and they don’t all appear to be spam. Really, though, it’s just a directory – pretty self-explanatory here. You’re looking for directories that aren’t all ad spam, meaning they do not contain many, many ads above the fold, and the ads don’t interfere with people looking for the link. The directories are generally clean, of high quality, and can drive high authority link equity.
Niche Local Sites
Niche local sites are those sites in your industry that are local authorities on their topics. They can be anything from animal rights organizations to charities to other sites that will help lend an air of authority when they link to you. The main idea when going after these links is to ensure that they are of high quality and not spammy in any way. These sites can also take on the guise of local partners. Please note that I am not advocating link exchanges in this way, because that is a bad idea. I am advocating for creating partnerships with other local businesses in order to obtain links that will help your site in the SERPs.
What we are trying to do is gauge the feasibility of beating the site in the search results. We don’t want to actually copy their link profile. By gauging ranking feasibility, it will be much easier to determine an overall linking strategy afterward. And the reason we don’t want to copy their link profile is this: I can’t be there to guide you every step of the way. If you slip up and optimize with a low-quality link, you could eventually get yourself a penalty by getting too many of them. It is very easy to continue old habits once you start.
Chamber of Commerce Links
Chamber links are essential to good local SEO. They provide high authority, can be a great partner-type link, and can also refer local business. However, it is important to note that not every Chamber of Commerce link will be a .GOV.
Local .GOV and .EDU Links
These links can be anything from local government offices or charities to local schools. The fact that they are .gov and .edu links are all just a major bonus. Things have not changed regarding the weight of .gov and .edu links. They still tend to be some of the highest quality links available.
Content Considerations for the Competitor Analysis
Who is writing the content?
What is the content about?
When is the content being written?
Where is the content focused locally?
Why is the content being written?
When gathering data for the local competitor analysis, it is important to consider things like who is writing the content, what the content is about, when the content is being written, where and how is the content being focused on locally, and why the content is being written. All of the above factors will help determine the content you will ultimately put on the site, and how to go from there.
Please note that Google’s John Mueller has stated that content doesn’t have to be long content in order to rank well.
John Mueller wrote: “There’s no minimum length, and there’s no minimum number of articles a day that you have to post, nor even a minimum number of pages on a website. In most cases, quality is better than quantity. Our algorithms explicitly try to find and recommend websites that provide content that’s of high quality, unique, and compelling to users. Don’t fill your site with low-quality content, instead, work on making sure that your site is the absolute best of its kind.”
On-Page Technical SEO
Basic URL Best Practices are Still King
This means: always makes sure your site is crawlable from a local standpoint. When using highly targeted, niche keyword phrases, use them in the URL as you name your page. If your site is not crawlable and technically accurate, you can’t expect Google to be able to rank it appropriately.
High Quality, Validated HTML and CSS Coding
Yes, I realize what most SEOs are going to say: high quality, valid HTML and CSS coding does not matter. While Google doesn’t have any such requirements in place, high quality coding does matter and can help rankings significantly as a quality attribute. When you code correctly, you reduce the chance of the browser having to “guess” what you’re trying to have it render. When you code and develop a website correctly, you reduce page speed and browser render speed. Page load time has become a factor in Google’s ranking factors.
Regardless, high quality, validated HTML and CSS coding should always be the end result of your site’s development work. If your competitors’ sites in the competitor analysis do not have such validation or high quality coding in their framework, then you have an attribute you can use against them – make sure your site’s coding and page speed is far better than theirs in all areas: well-optimized code, make server bottlenecks non-existent, etc.
Schema.org Coding for Local SEO
Schema.org coding should be on every website that has Schema data type information on it. It is crucial to getting that site to show up in rich snippets and the carousels of Google’s search results. If those sites don’t have Schema.org coding for the data types that are present on your site, here is yet another useful ranking signal you can optimize for towards your benefit.
Locally-Optimized Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, and URLs
Every site being optimized on a local basis should have locally focused title tags, meta descriptions, and URLs. What does locally focused mean? This means, if you are trying to optimize for keyword phrases like “Garden Grove personal injury lawyer” you should be using the city name in your target keywords.
Here are examples of locally optimized title tags, meta descriptions, and URLs:
Locally Optimized On-Page Copy With Tight Topical and Keyword Focus
In the competitor analysis, you are also looking for competitors who may or may not have locally optimized on-page copy with tight topical and keyword focus. This will tell you what the competition is actually doing for that on-page optimization.
Cheating With Your Competitor Research
If you really want to get nitty-gritty with the competitor research, I highly suggest performing an audit of your competitor sites with Screaming Frog. Just set the Screaming Frog settings to your desired specifications, crawl each competitor site, and after you export the Excel spreadsheet data, filter out all of the data so that only the titles, meta description, and URLs are showing up. You can even look up what they are doing to their H1 header tags as well.
Looking at all of this useful data will show you exactly what your competition is doing on-site—and will help you make yours better.
Start With Locally Focused Versions of Keywords Your Clients are Actually Looking For
Keywords and topical relevance are important factors to ensuring that your on-page optimization is properly targeted and fully optimized. When you perform your keyword research, you are looking for keywords that have a good search volume (above 70 or so average searches per month is a healthy number to shoot for), lower competition, and highly targeted niche keywords. A locally focused version of a keyword phrase for lawyers may look like this: Fountain Valley personal injury lawyers. If you try targeting personal injury lawyers by itself without a local focus, good luck. It will take massive amounts of links, authority building, and market penetration in order to expand to the type of reach that you want your marketing to accomplish.
When doing keyword research like this, it is important to consider the size of the market as well. If you don’t consider the size of a market like Los Angeles (with millions of pages in Google’s index and businesses that have already built up their authority), you will be in for a rude awakening if you promise a client they will see rankings in Los Angeles within three months. Not going to happen. It will likely take a year or more to achieve results on the first page of Google in a market the size of Los Angeles. And that is assuming that you have what it takes to beat the competition at their link acquisition and other optimization efforts.
Get Good Search Volume, Lower Competition, Highly Targeted Niche Keywords
Good search volume, lower competition, highly targeted niche keywords are diamonds in the rough. These keyword phrases will usually bring the most sought-after improvement to an important metric for your client: conversions. While lower competition is nice, good search volume should be at the top of your list when performing local keyword research. The higher the search volume, the higher the interest searchers have in that topic. If you don’t pay attention to search volume, you may get lucky with a couple of conversions. But, that kind of luck will run out eventually. Solid research is at the helm of any SEO endeavor.
Highly targeted niche keywords are those keywords that are targeted towards people who are performing searches for specifics within your industry. You have to dive deep into the details of your industry when trying to unearth these keyword gems. For example, if you know that people frequently perform searches for lawyers in Fountain Valley for auto accidents, you would want to use a keyword phrase like “Fountain Valley auto accident attorney”.
If you know that people frequently perform searches for specialized items in a particular industry, there is usually intent and questions behind those searches. By analyzing and thinking through potential intent of people searching for these phrases, it is possible to build a keyword list that includes questions about these topics that you can use to build even further, deeper, highly targeted topical content pages. These types of pages can end up being real converters for your client. The reason behind performing keyword research this deep is that you can then figure out what keywords are going to perform best for your client as a result.
Create Content That Will Entice Searches and Bring Traffic to Your Site
Using these keywords, you can then build a content editorial calendar focused around these topics. Once you have these topic ideas and a plan with goals set to create these articles by such and such a date, you can start really driving local SEO performance through these types of keyword phrases.
This is only one solution of several. I encourage you to experiment with this solution and find your own methods of developing lists of highly targeted, highly focused keyword phrases. From these keyword phrases you can develop content that even the most savvy industry regulars will love. This is what will help you grow that success metric that your client is counting on.
Learn more from Brian in this Marketing Nerds podcast episode about local seo:
Content: What Not to Do for Local SEO
I think it’s important to discuss some of the things you should not do, while also discussing what you should do. Sometimes, bad habits creep in that never should when you are performing the SEO properly. These include things like Wikipedia-type content, not being focused enough with your content, not being unique enough with your content, and keyword-stuffing.
Avoid, Avoid, Avoid Wikipedia-Type Content
I get it. You can’t visit the location, so the easiest thing to do is use Wikipedia-type content, write about the county seat, change a few words, and forget about it. The problem with this approach is that it has been done several million (billion?) times already. The real estate industry does it, the law industry does it. Everybody does it. The problem with this type of content is that the quality has become so diluted, thanks to millions of people copying and pasting, that it provides very little value.
Instead, the best thing to do is to take the content, perform your research, re-write it in a quality way, and provide something of unique value that the reader will enjoy.
Maile Ohye from Google talked about this during SEJ Summit 2016 in Santa Monica: “Focus on delighting your user.” I can’t think of any area of content writing that this applies to more so than local SEO content. Create this content in that way with the end goal of delighting your user in mind.
Create Your Content With a Niche, Local Focus
Just like how we created keywords with a niche, local focus, we want to make sure that we create our content with the same focus in mind. Create content in a way that aspires to this niche, local-focus content, while also focusing on what people in the industry want (all the information we learned from our competitor research earlier).
This content should be highly targeted and specific, being tailored to the end SEO goal in mind. You wouldn’t want to create informational text-based content when videos are all that’s necessary. And you wouldn’t want to create 10,000-word articles on sites where the only information people are searching for are local brick and mortar businesses.
The key is to tailor your content to that niche with the proper local and topical focus that creates a high-quality experience for users who are searching for these topics. It is pointless to just create bland, uninteresting content that reads like Wikipedia content. That is not delighting your user.
Put more thought and effort into creating your content and make sure that it fulfills all of these goals, as well as your end SEO goal.
Create Unique Content Per Page, and Per Site
It is extremely easy to fall into a trap of creating the same content per page, and the same content from site to site. I get it. You hate writing. You don’t wanna do it, you’d rather focus on SEO. What are you doing in SEO if you hate writing? It boggles the mind! Anyway…
When creating localized content it is important that this content from local page to local page is unique and provides unique value. Don’t just create bland, uninteresting content where the only thing that you change from page to page is the local keyword phrase. That is no longer going to work as a good content strategy. Instead, you may end up finding yourself slapped by Panda if you are doing that enough.
The other pitfall is creating the same content per site. This can happen especially if you operate an agency that has clients throughout the same entire niche. Like law. Or real estate. It can be especially challenging to come up with unique content where there are only so many ways you can say things in law. But, by doing the work to come up with unique, stellar content ideas that resonate with your website’s audience, you won’t have to constantly come up with content that sounds awful in its 100th variation.
Stay Conversational, Natural, and Avoid Keyword-Stuffing
The latest updates from Google, when they publicly discussed RankBrain, cover everything they have been saying for the past 15+ years: write your content naturally, focus on your user, and don’t keyword stuff. Gary Illyes discussed at SMX Advanced 2016:
“It’s a new signal. But the reason I asked about optimizing for RankBrain is because you don’t. It’s about making sure the user gets the result that is deserved for the query. If you write in natural language, you’re all set. If you keyword-stuff your content, that will almost certainly not be good for you.”
Links for Local SEO
Local SEO ranking factors typically are centered around on-page and off-page factors with a razor focus on local. Just like content, links are an important part of local SEO ranking factors. In the beginning, it is important to perform an analysis of the site and figure out where it’s at locally. Using a tool like Whitespark or Brightlocal can help you perform a local analysis of your site’s link profile. I would recommend starting here, and building on that.
If you have some local citations already, but not all, then you know where you need to be to get all of the others. But, if you have never done link acquisition for local SEO before, then it can be quite the daunting task to go after all of these local citations.
Including the Correct N.A.P. Information, Every Time
When claiming your local profiles and obtaining local SEO citations, it is important to make sure that your NAP info (Name, Address, Phone number) are all exactly the same. Don’t use Ste., Suite, and # in various instances of submitting the information on your site. This is not going to result in improved performance. In fact, it can actually sink your ship because this introduces too many noisy local ranking signals. We want to make sure that your links and citations are as strong as they can be. So, if your address is:
Some Business, Inc. 123 Standard Way Suite 400 Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Don’t submit it as:
Some Business, Incorporated 123 Standard Way, Ste. 400 Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Some Business, Ltd (when there isn’t an Ltd) 123 Standard Way, #400 Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Getting Started With Claiming Your Local Profiles and Local SEO Citations
When you first start out with claiming your local SEO citations, you may be asking: OK, so where do I start? Ideally, you should be sifting through the competitor research we performed earlier and looking at your competitor’s link profiles. By examining link profiles thoroughly, it can generally be a good way to figure out what local sites your competition is using. However, I say “generally” because doing it that way can only go so far: not every local site is going to have the URL local.business.com in it, and others will have regular .com domains.
That’s why I recommend using in-depth competition research along with tools as mentioned above.
Final Thoughts on Local SEO
At the heart of it, there is not much that is 100% different from organic SEO. You still have keywords, content, and links at the heart of optimization strategy. The difference comes when you consider the part of local SEO where the local focus comes into play.
It is so important to approach these strategies with a white hat, holistic, relationship-building approach in mind. The wrong approach to take on any of these tactics is a constant strong-arm approach that results in a penalty for your site. Focus on link acquisition, not link manipulation. Focus on delighting the user, not stuffing your content with keywords. Focus on creating a compelling user experience. Not haphazardly designed digital ecosystems.
In short, if you build it with high enough quality, the people you want will come.
I remember I discovered Help Scout’s blog and resources center a few years ago and I instantly became a fan. Their content is simply inspiring; carefully polished, beautifully designed, and useful, even for those who are not working in the Customer Support niche. I was surprised to rediscover them recently from a slightly different perspective. It seems they rank really high on great topics from their industry, and that helps their business a lot. It’s the perfect win-win situation everyone is looking for so I decided to dig a little deeper and uncover their “secret”.
For this I teamed up with Devin Bramhall, Help Scout’s Director of Content. She was more than kind and helped me understand how they manage to deliver high quality content that’s both delightful for their audience and for search engines.
For those who never heard about this brand, Help Scout is a Help Desk software. From an SEO perspective, targeting the “help desk software” topic is absolutely challenging right now. There are a few great, well-established products that already rank really high there.
I looked for the most searched for keywords on this topic and here’s what I found out: Help Scout is definitely present, but “not quite there yet”, if you know what I mean. You can see exactly how each website ranks for the most relevant 2 keywords in this topic (highest volume).
This graph was taken from SEOmonitor and it represents the total visibility score for each brand
Once we start looking at other topics, we see a completely different picture. Customer Service, a highly relevant topic for their target audience, is a territory evidently conquered by Help Scout.
I ran this analysis using SEOmonitor on a wide range of topics made out of keywords that someone in the awareness stage would use.
The situation is somewhat similar: Help Scout outranks its competitors every time. Some topics that clearly bring a lot of value to the company haven’t even been approached by competitors.
This clearly highlights that fact that the company pays a lot of attention to the SEO side of content: they pick the right topic, optimize for the right keywords, create an amazing on-page experience, and so on.
And their visitors seem to enjoy it as well.
On average, their visitors spend around 14 minutes on the website (SimilarWeb). This high level of engagement is also impacting their performance in SERP.
Suggested reading: If you want to learn more about how website engagement rates impact organic rankings, I highly recommend this study published by Larry Kim.
So what’s their BIG secret?
Well, I hope I’m not disappointing anyone at this point, but there’s no secret behind their success. They pick great topics, create in-depth articles, optimize the content and the page for higher conversions, and search engines reward them with great visibility.
Surprising or not, there’s one more thing they excel at, aside from strategy and tactics: the process they follow. I believe a great part of what makes their ideas work is the way they implement them, measure and learn from their results.
It’s all about the process
As far as building a growth machine goes, Brian Balfour has a great explanation: “stop looking for tactics first, and start focusing on establishing a growth process”.
So my conversation with Devin focused more on finding out who, how and what they use to turn their ideas into traffic and conversions sources.
At a first glance, their workflow seems pretty “standard”. The key here, as Devin herself emphasized it throughout our conversation, is that they invest in perfecting every step of the process.
There’s something worth mentioning about each step of the process.
Buyer persona profiles
Buyer Personas (also referred to as marketing personas) are usually created using a combination of data and educated guesses, representing the “ideal customer”. From a content perspective, they represent a blog’s readership.
Help Scout in particular has 3 different Buyer Personas and they provide the touchstone for their creative process. Having seen how well things work once you have a clear persona in mind, Help Scout even developed a “Persona” for their own company that answers to the questions: “Who are we, as a brand?”. I’ll tell you more about this a bit later.
What’s worth mentioning here is that they went above and beyond in describing their personas. Aside from demographics and background, their entire team is well aware of Heidi’s (The Support Manager) feelings, aspirations, challenges, professional goals – what she reads, how she talks, the things that customers like about her.
Content research and development
The Content team’s work process looks very much like an editorial flow. Devin’s team uses Trello to organize their activity from topic pitch, to drafts, editing and release.
If you take a look at any of their articles, you’ll notice they put a lot of heart and effort into delivering high-quality, useful materials. One of their go-to sources is Jstore. If an article refers to a technical aspect, it’s sent to a specialist for validation and final iterations.
1. Style Guide
In the end, nothing gets published before it’s checked against Help Scout’s style guide and gets a final review from an external proofreader. The style guide is often neglected, but Help Scout has everything written down and can be checked (and learned) by anyone joining their team.
Help Scout is working with an external editor. When you’re reading your own words over and over again (trust me!), most certainly you’ll miss a couple of things. You can find people through UpWork, or you can hire Ahna, Neil Patel’s editor.
Once the content is ready, Help Scout’s internal SEO specialist takes over the optimization process and the Growth Team makes sure the page is ready to assist visitors to further convert.
The design is another important element in the overall success. Check out their blog and you’ll notice you can immediately spot product updates from other content pieces. Their visual style is unique, and functional.
Steven Rayson, CEO of BuzzSumo also emphasises on the importance of a great visual style when building a brand.
Process is key, but it doesn’t have to repress creativity and innovation. In order to grow, you have to take a risk, once in a blue moon.
For Help Scout, that means writing for the people who read their blog, not their buyer persona. Heidi is a person, not a “persona”. She’s interested in a variety of topics, not only the one directly linked to customer support.
That’s how this article was born: The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding. So although this topic idea might sounded a bit “risky”, compared to the rest of their content, Help Scout, as a brand (as described in their own “persona”), likes to take risks. And so far, it paid off.
10.000 shares. Not bad at all.
What works for Help Scout, probably won’t work for you
Brian Balfour wonderfully summarized the only growth strategy that will work for you: “You need a process that is going to uncover the unique combination of things that works for your product, your audience, and your business model.”
There is one key lesson here, and it can be applied for any “how to” article: take everything you read as inspiration, not prescription – this article included. Implement what you find to be valuable for your team, and be ready to iterate fast.
If you don’t know it yet, Pokémon GO is freaking huge. According to SimilarWeb,
“Over 60% of those who have downloaded the app in the US are using it daily, meaning around 3% of the entire US Android population are users of the app.”
Average daily users have already surpassed Tinder and may soon pass Twitter’s app. Part of Pokémon GO’s appeal is it truly crosses age boundaries — people in their 20s and 30s remember Pokémon’s explosive popularity in the 90s and early 2000s, and kids now are beginning to see how awesome and fun playing in the “pocket monster” world can be. Because of the large demographic reach, there are so many potential uses for marketers.
While the app doesn’t offer any sponsorship or partnership programs right now, the future is certainly full of possibilities. Here are some of the current and potential ways marketers can get involved in the Pokémon GO hype.
How Can You be Part of The Conversation?
While right now there aren’t sponsorships or advertising available in Pokémon GO– there are still ways for marketers to get involved. If your business happens to be the site of a Pokémon GO gym or PokéStop, you can take advantage.
For example, this Mexican restaurant in my town is a PokéStop, where users can come by to get freebies to help them in the game:
Jose Peppers could welcome these users who are driving around (and stopping into) their business by offering a special deal. Maybe free espinaca dip or dessert if customers show the server their Pokémon GO account or checks into their restaurant with a Facebook update, tweet, or Instagram post.
Also, just promoting that your location is near a gym or stop can get more visibility and foot traffic, if you have a good social media presence:
If you’re a publisher, you can still take advantage. BuzzFeed has been postingseveral round-ups and news stories about the game already. If there’s a way to tie in your own business to the game without reaching or coming across as cheesy, it could be a cool way to take advantage of the conversation.
Offer Discounts, Meetups, or Free Swag to Users
Another thing businesses can do right now with the Pokémon GO app is to host meetups. Right now, users can only battle one another at PokéGyms, so if your business is near one (these are chosen by the app and are usually landmarks, like churches or parks), take advantage. Offer discounts to hungry users who are driving by or have a giveaway tent with free food to grow visibility for local users.
If you aren’t a food-based business, you can still get involved. Give away free t-shirts, offer charging stations since Pokémon GO is such a battery drain, or even water bottles since a lot of the game is done on foot (and it was released during the summer, where temperatures can soar to above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in many parts of the U.S.)
Once users feel comfortable with your restaurant or local business and know that you welcome Pokémon GO users, they may be more likely to visit again or recommend it to their friends.
Businesses can also buy lure modules and incense, which attract more Pokémon to the area. This could lead to increased foot traffic as well.
Sponsored Gyms, Stops, or Swag?
Although this isn’t available yet as of press time, Nintendo would be remiss to not at least consider letting businesses sponsor Pokémon GO gyms, PokéStops, or swag (like candy or pokeballs). Because users are visiting businesses in real-time to battle, get bonuses, or collect Pokémon, this could be a lucrative opportunity for Nintendo to brand with businesses to get more users out and about.
What a PokeGym looks like in the app
Even making a chain of multiple locations (like all Chicago McDonald’s, for example) temporary PokéGyms or PokéStops could create urgency, leading to more foot traffic for the McDonald’s locations and more engagement for the app.
If you’re still championing that 2016 is “the year of mobile,” we’ve got a not-so-big surprise in store for you. Mobile has already weighed anchor, stormed the shores, and been crowned king in the domain of search. Long live mobile. But, what about other promising trends prompted by this change?…
If you’re still championing that 2016 is “the year of mobile,” we’ve got a not-so-big surprise in store for you. Mobile has already weighed anchor, stormed the shores, and been crowned king in the domain of search. Long live mobile. But, what about other promising trends prompted by this change?…
Although Google is continually changing the ranking algorithm, links from other sites remain the most important factor that influences the position of your pages in Google’s search results. We all know that it is quite difficult to get backlinks, especially if you have a new site. That’s why we have the Starter Backlinks tool in SEOprofiler. The Starter Backlinks tool helps you to get links from good websites that will have a positive influence on the position of your pages. The new version contains more sites, and it offers comprehensive filters.
via Free Weekly Search Engine Optimization SEO News Read More…
Structured data has never been more important than it is today. We’ll talk about why briefly below, but that’s not what this post is about. This post is about giving you a new tool to add to your semantic SEO tool belt. My goal is to empower you implement semantic markup and structured data with greater ease and enable you to architect a more robust and complete web of linked data on your website (and beyond).
Structured data is more important than ever
I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. When Schema.org launched in June of 2011, search marketers gained access to an incredibly powerful tool: an extensive vocabulary, agreed upon by the world’s leading search engines, with which we could give our data meaningful structure.
However, there were two things holding us back from realizing the dream of a truly semantic web.
The difficulty of actually implementing said markup on our sites.
The markup’s limited utility in actually achieving some kind of tangible SEO return on our investment.
I believe JSON-LD’s big day at Google was a watershed moment in making implementation less daunting and, hopefully in the coming years, ubiquitous across the web (well, at least more so). Now that we have rapidly growing JSON-LD support from Google and powerful semantic attributes like Itemref and Itemid, the ability to give structure to the unstructured is within everyone’s reach.
The tangible SEO return has also never been greater! Beyond tried and true rich snippets for star ratings, pricing, availability, and breadcrumbs in search, we’re seeing richer and richer results, previews, and cards show up in Google. These are powered by, you guessed it, structured data and, more often than not, the recommended format is in JSON-LD. In light of Google’s recent launch of Rich Cards (starting with Recipes and Movies, but sure to be expanding to other Schema types soon), Top Stories with AMP, and Knowledge Panel Critic Reviews (which is currently by request and with Google approval only), we need flexible models for structuring bigger and bigger data sets.
Through using itemref and itemid, you’ll be able to mark up your data that much easier to keep up with the rapid evolution of semantic SEO. You’ll also be positioned to fully capitalize on new search features, regardless of whether or not they require JSON-LD or in-line microdata (remember that while Google is now all about JSON-LD, they’re not the only game in town).
That’s enough of an intro; let’s talk itemref and itemid.
What are itemref & itemid?
At their core, itemref and itemid are just HTML attributes. They’re actually very similar to other attributes that you’re already familiar with if you’ve worked with semantic markup before.
The 3 most common attributes in semantic SEO
Let’s quickly recap what itemscope, itemtype, and itemprop do. Feel free to skip to the next section, though it never hurts to brush up.
Itemscope: an attribute without a value that defines the scope of an semantic entity within your data. Everything within that itemscope is considered a part of that entity and everything outside of it is separate.
Itemtype: an attribute that goes hand-in-hand with itemscope and that does have a value. The value of the itemtype attribute is going to specify the type of entity you’re marking up and is most commonly a link to a URL on schema.org.
The challenge we face with inline microdata is that it’s brittle and breaks easily. It’s also very rigid in terms of implementation. Itemref and itemid help us overcome that!
Consider the page below:
The primary entity that you want to mark up on this page is a Product, but you’ll likely want to mark up the BreadcrumbList as well. Assuming that each highlighted area lives in its own <div> tag, you have some potential issues.
If you declare your itemtype="product" on the overarching <div> that contains all three areas, you forfeit the opportunity to mark up breadcrumbs. Why? Because a BreadcrumbList isn’t a valid a property of a Product.
If you declare your itemtype="product" on the blue <div>, you can still mark up the breadcrumbs on the red <div>, but you won’t be able connect the data in the green <div> to your main Product and your structured data won’t validate since offers (AKA, the price) is required.
Traditionally, you’d have a make a non-ideal compromise or have a developer change how the whole page was structured. There’s no way around it; that sucks!
How itemref and itemid empower you
With itemid and itemref, you can write semantic markup that reaches across disparate <div> tags and pulls in the data points you need without requiring any restructuring.
So what’s the difference between these two tags and when do you use one over the other?
Use itemref when you need to populate itemprops in your primary entity. For example, if the commentCount of a blog post was written in a <div> outside of the main post’s body.
Use itemid when you need to populate itemprops where the expected type (more on expected types from Schema.org) is another entity (not just a simple data point). For example, if you wanted to declare the publisher of a blog post, you’d want to point to a complete Organization entity (complete with a name, logo, URL, and perhaps even founder, address, contact points, etc.)
How to use itemref
An easy way to conceptualize the use of itemref is to imagine connecting a data blob to the semantic entity you’re working on. I first heard the term “data blob” from Jarno van Driel, someone who I’d consider my Itemref and Itemid Sensei, and I think it’s a fitting description.
noun | \ˈdā-tə- bläb\
a blob of data that just hangs around doing nothing special, until it’s called into service by another entity. More formally, a discoverable resource within a document.
To keep this brief, let’s assume you’ve already marked up your Primary Entity to the best of your ability and, for the purposes of demonstration, let’s say we’re marking up a blog post (AKA, BlogPosting). Furthermore, let’s say that the one itemprop data point we can’t get at using traditional means is the commentCount for the blog post; it’s in a <div> that’s completely outside the scope of the blog post’s body.
In order to solve this, we’ll want to mark up the commentCount as a data blob that contains an unlinked and unused commentCount property. There are three main steps:
Step 1: In the <div>, <span>, or other HTML element that contains the commentCount, add an itemscope attribute. That’s it. In a deviation from the norm, you don’t want to follow that by specifying an itemtype. That’s why it’s called a data blob; it’s independent data without a type. In fact, when you eventually test this in Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool, you’ll see it pick up on an “Unspecified Type.” That’s fine; just ignore it.
The finished tag should look like this:
Step 2: Wrap a new <span> tag around the comment count itself and specify what itemprop this is going to be. At this point, it’s a property of nothing and that’s okay.
Sidenote:Can Itemref Be Used with Meta Tags? Yes! Just go through Step 2 and Step 3 on meta tags in your <head> and you can reference them from an entity in your <body> tag using itemref! However, with meta tags there’s no need to add an itemscope; skip Step 1.
Now we come to my favorite part: hooking the data blob into the main entity. It’s incredibly simple.
Step 4: Find and edit the itemscope/itemtype declaration for your Primary Entity. In this case, it’ll look like this:
<div itemscope itemtype="http://ift.tt/1imrvKP;>
Step 5: Within that tag, add the itemref attribute and reference the unique id that you created in Step 3 above.
Boom! Now you’re cooking with itemref! Where before you had a pantry full of data that didn’t really go together, now you have an entity that is completely baked and you’re ready to roll.
How to use itemid
Using itemid is actually very similar and may even involve less new code than itemref. Since you use itemid when you want to reference another complete entity, this might be an entity that’s already on the page. If that’s the case, you just add a quick bit of markup and you’re good to go.
In the visual below, what we want to do is use the Secondary Entity to populate an itemprop of the Primary Entity.
Step 3: Within your Primary Entity, add a <link> tag wherever you want to call in the Secondary Entity and specify the itemprop you want your Secondary Entity to populate. Use a simple href attribute to point to the fragment identifier from Step 2.
Bonus: You can reference this secondary entity from multiple other entities and populate multiple itemprops, too! If this post were a company announcement on moz.com and Moz were both the publisher and the author, both of those properties could reference #mozOrg.
That’s it! Now, regardless of where these two entities live in the DOM (i.e., in your page’s source code), they’ll be linked together and can create something awesome.
“By your powers combined, I am a great blog post!”
Extending the power of itemid to JSON-LD
I can hear some readers asking, “The days of microdata are over! Now that Google’s going to support JSON-LD for everything, who cares?”
First, Google isn’t the only game in town and they don’t yet support JSON-LD for all Schema.org types (but, honestly, I think they will soon). That said, I still think it’s good practice to continue implementing structured data that less evolved crawlers can use.
Second, even though itemref can’t be used within the JSON-LD data model, itemid most definitely can, although in JSON-LD the property is called @id! And boy, does it come in handy.
Let’s talk about why you would use this and then we’ll get into how.
Why @id is great with JSON-LD
The why is pretty straightforward — just like when you’re using microdata, you are likely to have multiple JSON-LD entities on your site and, quite frequently, these will be housed in different scripts in the source code (or in different tags delivered via a tag management tool). Using @id, you can maintain your JSON-LD for each semantic entity separately and just make references between each entity as needed.
For example, consider the blog post you’re currently reading which has structured data for a BlogPosting delivered in JSON-LD. You could avoid having to include all the data for your publisher (the Organization known as Moz) in your JSON-LD script and instead reference a dedicated JSON-LD script for it.
You could host two independent JSON-LD scripts in your page <head> and link them using @id.
In this example, using @id is more cool than useful; it doesn’t save that much time or effort. In fact, it’ll add a bit more code to the page if you’re including two separate JSON-LD scripts (for a BlogPost and an Organization) on every page rather than doing it all in one tag.
Dealing with repetition
But what about when a single entity can be used to populate multiple properties in your JSON-LD? That’s where @id could save you a ton of time and hassle.
Imagine you have an Article page where you want to include structured data about the article’s publisher (#publisher), a video pertaining to the article (published by #publisher), and the article’s author (who worksFor #publisher). Suddenly, having the ability to leverage a single definition of the Publisher entity is very valuable!
If you’re not already sold on @id yet, here’s where it gets crazy. When you use @id with JSON-LD, you can extend its utility massively.
You can use @id in a JSON-LD script to reference entities on other pages and even other websites!
Let that sink in.
What this means is that you can deliver JSON-LD on every blog post that references an Organization JSON-LD tag on the homepage. You don’t need to repeat that data on each page or update every instance if a datapoint ever changes.
Here are just a few use cases in which you’d want to host JSON-LD for specific entities in centralized locations and reference them throughout your whole site.
Hosting your Organization JSON-LD on your company homepage and then using it as:
The publisher property on BlogPostings
The worksFor property on Person (on your team profiles)
Hosting Person JSON-LD for key personnel on your About page and then using those entities as:
The author properties on BlogPostings
The performer properties on Events
(If you’re a local business) Hosting Place JSON-LD about your city on a dedicated landing page and using it as:
The areaServed property on LocalBusiness
The eligibleRegion property on Offer
The foundingLocation property on Organization
The jobLocation on property JobPosting
With all of these scenarios, you can use @id to reference entities on other pages to create a literal web of linked data on your website!
How to use @id in JSON-LD
Here’s how to use @id in your JSON-LD.
Step 1: Edit your JSON-LD and give the entity a fragment identifier (e.g., #eru). This uses essentially the same format as the @type property, so you pretty much just copy that. Repeat this process for every JSON-LD script that defines an entity that you want to be able to reference.
The modification to your JSON-LD should look something like this.
Step 2: In order to reference one of those entities from JSON-LD on another page, provide an @id in the place of a value for the property in question. For example, instead of just providing a text string of “Moz” for the “publisher” on this BlogPosting, we’d refer to the uniquely identified entity by using its @id.
The modification to your JSON-LD would look a bit like this:
Now, if the entity you’re pointing to lives on a different page, just use the absolute path rather than the relative one. “#mozOrg” becomes “https://moz.com/#mozOrg”
But wait. There’s more!
This is the part that really blew my mind. Remember that you can reference entities not just on your own website, but on OTHER websites as well. Doing so is really simple, though you do need to have the ability to slightly modify the JSON-LD on both sites.
The possibilities here are insane! Just picture the semantic associations we’re forming on this post alone!
The good news
The process is exactly the same as what’s described above (using @id on your own website), but you definitely need to use the absolute path.
In the future, I’m hoping to share concrete proof that Google recognizes linked structured data across domains. Until then, the more cross-site structured data we create, the better our chances are of showing that this works!
Itemref & itemid in action
This wouldn’t be a very good tutorial if it didn’t leave you with something to fiddle with. The code example below will show you how to use itemref in microdata, itemid in microdata, @id to reference entities on the same page, @id to reference entities on other pages (hint: there may be a really cool entity over at http://ift.tt/29MB0rh if you want to check it out), and @id to reference entities on other websites.
You can even run this example’s URL through the Structured Data Testing Tool to see how Google interprets all the associations. Click here to see!
Until we meet again
I hope that this post has either given you some new tools that will help solve your structured data problems or has stoked your curiosity to see what’s possible with advanced JSON-LD. Good luck out there and happy optimizing!
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