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Dart board, but off the mark

Does your web marketing or SEO company know “local”?

Using an offshore or even a non-local web marketer can have a significant and long-term negative impact on your web marketing, your search engine ranking, and your business success!

When you ask your web designer or ad agency to help with your web marketing, do you know who is doing your submissions? Often they subcontract to another company to do the hard work, and sometimes  that company (or the company they sub-contract to) is offshore. And you may not even know it.

If you are a LOCAL BUSINESS (and that’s most of you!) trying to reach LOCAL CONSUMERS with your website, your web marketing, and your Social Media, then you need to be very aware of your city, community, or neighbourhood. And your marketing needs to reach those living & working  CLOSE TO YOU.

Some people use SEO (search engine optimization) and web marketing interchangeably. This article focuses on non-paid or organic marketing based on the site itself, rather than cost per-click (CPC) or cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) paid advertising.

Good website content–and good web marketing done at this stage–can save your company hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in online advertising, over many years!

TransCanada FoundLocally Inc’s three websites attract over a half million visitors a month and we have NEVER done any CPC or CPM advertising, or even any paid media advertising.

We call it marketing by “word of mouse”!

We’re not saying if you follow these tips you’ll necessarily get the same traffic we do…. But it’s worth considering!

There are four approaches to increase your local marketing success:

1)     SiteMaps

Creating a file on our website called sitemap.xml helps big search engines like Google and Bing see a picture of your website, and determine which pages to crawl (or “spider”). And if they are not in the site map, they will consider those files for deletion from their index.

SteMaps help create deep links to pages (and content) within your website, and help search engines direct traffic to specific pages of your site, not just the home page.

Content Management Systems (CMSs) and tools like WordPress (and within WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin) can automatically create site maps of your content. There are also several websites that can generate a SiteMap.xml file for you. One we like is but will only generate 1000 pages maximum in the free version (not an issue for most websites).

You should also create and maintain web master accounts with the search engines for each domain, to keep them updated when your site maps are updated.

LIMITATION: Sitemaps are only used by search engines like Google and Bing, which in turn use them to crawl or spider pages inside your website. Directories typically only list and index your home page (or which even page you submit) and therefore do not care about the SiteMap.xml file.

WARNING: Changing site maps may delete old pages from the listings, even if those pages exist and have a REDIRECT (either JavaScript or 301) and/or Canonical redirect to the new content. This can significantly adversely impact site traffic until Google and Bing get around to spearing the new pages.

2)      Submission Software

There are several software tools to automate submissions, that send your website details to various directories and search engines around the world (depending on your scope). Tools like

AddWeb Website Promoter – Cyberspace HQ
Internet Business Promoter
SEO Suite™ (formerly Dymanic Submission)
Submit Suite
Web Position Gold (out of business)

These can automate a lot of your submissions, but are not optimized for each… A quick way of getting back-links to your home page, but not deep links.

If you are doing just your own website, many of these tools give a 30 day free trial. Go for it!

If you are a web marketing professional, you may prefer one of these over another. They packages can speed up your links & citations work. And certainly, they provide impressive looking reports for clients.

LIMITATION: These only provide links to sites that enable automated submissions, which is not close to 1005 of them, and they do not have a complete list of all local directories. They are lucky enough to have not a bad listing of national directories, but not for all countries, and often not for Canada.

WARNING: Some will also submit your site to FFA (“Free For All”) link farms,…. These may have an adverse impact on your Google ranking.. these links are hard to track and Google, tends to ignore them and the sites don’t generate traffic from real people (mostly from submitters to FFA software)

3)     Outsourced “citations” companies

There are companies, typically staffed in eastern Europe and in India, that can handle your submission process for you, and will identify local directories, global search engines, and submit pages to them. They have found saying they are in the “citations” business creates a higher value for them than “web submission”. It’s the same thing.

We have seen many such companies sub-contract for and handle submissions for various CANADIAN SEO companies. They are cheap, do a passable job, but have NO LOCAL KNOWLEDGE.

And, NO, we’re not going to point to any of these, since they are not Canadian.

To help these with their submissions, we have created a page on our blog Canadian SEO for non-Canadian SEO firms, yet most companies have not bothered to do any research on this topic or found out tip sheets (it’s on the home page of our web marketing blog) []

LIMITATION: They have no local knowledge. They do not understand Canadian or community geography, which communities you are trying to market to, and what local directories may exist to help promote your business and website locally.

These firms do dumb things like submitting Toronto businesses into our Vancouver directory. They often don’t realize the basics of Southern Ontario geography, and which communities (each with a corresponding FoundLocally directory) comprise the “GTA” (Greater Toronto Area). They don’t realize which communities are on Vancouver Island (like Victoria) and which are in Greater Vancouver.

4)     Local SEO companies

Local SEO companies have excellent local knowledge, simply by living in and doing business in your community. Of course, there are differences between providers.

We support local SEO companies is many ways:

  • We have our SEO and Web marketing blog
  • We have tip sheets for specific industries
  • Because we allow all sorts of specialized local directories to listing in OUR DIRECTORY, we provide a directory of directories. Some are free, some charge a listing fee, some charge an annual fee. Their business models are up to them, and we wish all companies the best with their businesses.
  • For those working with large multi-location businesses, typically chains or franchises we have a tip sheet to assist with mass submissions. Basically, you create ONE LISTING as a template, and ensure the description, products/brands (keywords), categories, Logo, and weblink are correct and then send us an Excel spreadsheet with all the other locations, and we clone the rest for you. This works great for retail or service franchises where each location has an identical product or service offering and the same logo is used for all locations.
  • Where individualized listings are preferred or can improve search results, we can provide a service to (starting with the Excel spreadsheet) go to individual pages of the website, grab specific descriptions and edit them to our length parameters. This will create very specific keyword rich listings for each location… HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for property management companies where each building is unique and has different features. THIS IS A FOR-FEE SERVICE, but very reasonably priced.
  • And we have a directory of SEO companies and web marketers in each community

LIMITATION: Web marketing is like influenza. One immunization is never enough, and it requires regular updating. Tools change, keywords change, consumers change, and your competitors are evolving and are updating their websites. Some web marketers suggest you do this on a monthly basis, others on a quarterly basis. In any case, DO NOT avoid web marketing activities on less than an annual basis. This is marketing warfare: and if your competitors are updating their web marketing more often than you, you WILL BE left behind.

Smart Tips

Here are some tips to help you with your web marketing, to improve your local visibility

  • Track your submissions…. Don’t resubmit your listing to a directory (it’s okay to resubmit periodically to a search engine). Multiple business listings in the same directory do not make you OR the directory look good, and multiple listings may actually violate Google’s “multiple copies of the same content” rule and your site may get penalized by Google
  • When a link-back to your site or location is confirmed, submit to Google and Bing, to increase your indexed links there, and improve our search engine ranking. Any updates to that listing will automatically update Google’s info
  • Test your keywords… don’t just test for the brand itself. If consumers are aware of the brand, they’ll go right to their domain. No search required. People use Google or Bing when they are looking for products or services LIKE YOURS or NEAR YOURS… make it easier to find your listing.
  • Domain links are good, but 80% of Google search results are for deep links… to specific pages inside a site that have specific content (keywords, localization) that meet the search parameters better than a domain’s home page.

Smart Tips for listings

Here are some important tips for your listing(s):

  • Check the categories in the FoundLocally directory, and periodically. Check if new ones have been added that can multiply the ways you can be found. We only permit categories for services you provide, not for “target markets” (if you sell to hotels, don’t select “hotel”), and not for components (just because you have a website, you are not a” web marketing” business, just because you have an accountant, you are not a “public accountant”, just because you have an office in a business center, you are not a “business center”)
  • Select the “Areas” based on the two CLOSEST TO YOU, to help those who want to work with a local business. If you select the two FURTHEST away from you, you will not broadcast your ‘service area” (as might be your intent) but will guarantee to get you NO LOCAL customers, since almost all will find you not the closest to the area they are filtering for.
  • Use the Products/Brands field to not only load keywords into your listing, but add a community prefix to help better target Google searches. For example, use “Downtown barbershop” not just ‘barbershop”.
  • Don’t keyword spam your listing name. FoundLocally is a business directory, and we expect your business name to be used, as do consumers. Use the Description and the Products Brands fields to load the listing with keywords… you have more room, and can multiply your search results, on our site, and on Google!
  • See post on Does your listing need a review?

Mark Ruthenberg

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