Category: SEO Ideas

What is Keyword Research, and Why is it Necessary?

If you’re looking to drive organic traffic and improve your website’s ranking, keyword research is a necessary tool.

Rank Boss combines an understanding of search intent, traffic potential, difficulty, and business potential. For example, a list of keywords relevant to your brand.

seo

You can do this using a free tool or a premium paid one like Moz’s Keyword Explorer.

Keyword research is developing an extensive list of keywords for which a website owner wishes to rank in search engine results pages (SERPs). That involves digging deep into what people type into Google when searching for a certain product, service, business, or type of content. The goal is to find keywords relevant to the company and highly searched so that when someone clicks on one of the resulting SERPs, it takes them to high-quality website content that meets their needs.

The types of keywords marketers identify vary depending on their goals and the needs of their audience. For example, broad keywords associated with an industry, such as “making money,” have many searches but are highly competitive because many websites want to rank for those words. Luckily, with the help of a few free tools, it’s possible to find variations on a core keyword that have a smaller volume but are less competitive and can still drive traffic.

Once a business has identified the right keywords, it must create a content strategy focusing on them. That means creating posts, articles, and other content addressing those keywords. Search engines reward sites that are authoritative and useful, so making sure your content is genuinely helpful to your audience will go a long way toward helping you rank for your chosen keywords.

Another aspect of keyword research that’s becoming increasingly important is understanding how intent impacts SEO. Because a consumer’s search is more about the outcome they wish to achieve than just the information that carries that keyword, marketers must ensure their content matches that intent.

It’s often useful to conduct keyword research at the start of the content creation process or even before that to scope out trends and blind spots that competitors may have missed. It’s also wise to re-evaluate keyword research regularly to keep up with search engine algorithm changes and uncover new opportunities for ranking well.

Keyword research is discovering what search terms your audience uses to find products, services, and businesses like yours. You then use these keywords in your content to make it more likely that those searchers will see your content among the results of their queries.

It’s important to remember that keyword research is not just about the words you use but about understanding your target audience and their intent. Knowing why they’re searching for something can help you create content that addresses their needs, wants, and expectations.

There are several tools you can use for keyword research. Some are free, like Google Keyword Planner, while others require a subscription. A few of the most popular are Moz, Semrush, and Answer The Public. These paid tools offer more in-depth information on search volume, search difficulty, and other data that can be helpful when creating an SEO strategy.

The first step of the process is to develop a seed keyword. That is any keyword or phrase that defines your niche and helps you narrow down the search results. Then, you can enter the seed into a tool like Semrush to generate a list of keyword ideas for you to choose from.

Once you have a list of potential keywords, take some time to consider each one. The monthly search volume (MSV) and the competition level can be examined. The higher the MSV, the more competition there is for that keyword, so it may be harder to rank highly.

Similarly, the lower the MSV, the less competition there is for that keyword. It’s also important to consider what kind of content you will create for each keyword, whether a blog post or an e-commerce product page. You need to ensure that your content meets the searcher’s intent – if you try to sell something to a consumer looking for information, they will quickly leave your website.

Once you’ve settled on keywords, you can start creating your content. It’s a good idea to have an SEO checklist to help you keep track of your work and ensure that each piece of content you produce meets your goals.

Keyword research is developing a list of keywords that search engines estimate are likely to bring in traffic. For example, if you sell a product that helps people with back pain, you might want to target “back pain relief.” Then, you can create content around those keywords that align with your audience’s intent. With a good set of keywords, ranking well in search engine results pages (SERPs) is easier.

People type keywords into search engines when looking for information or products. But finding keywords can be challenging, even with the right tools.

Several keyword research tools are out there, all of which work roughly the same: you plug in one seed keyword, and the device pulls out suggestions for related keywords. The most popular and well-known is Google Keyword Planner, which is made for advertisers who want to display paid search ads on Google, but it’s a useful tool for SEOs, too.

If you’re on a budget or prefer a simpler interface, there are free keyword research tools that can help you find keywords. These tools usually only have a limited number of keyword suggestions and may not provide the most accurate results, but they can be helpful for beginners.

For more advanced users, there are tools like Answer the Public, which my agency uses at NP Digital, and Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, which is available for Pro members (though that membership also includes competitor analysis and other features not related to keyword research). These tools provide a more comprehensive data set but are often more complicated than Google Keyword Planner.

Once you have a list of keywords, it’s important to prioritize them and determine the effort required to rank for each. For example, if you’re writing an article about “back pain relief,” it will probably take much more time and resources to rank for that keyword than for “back injury recovery.”

Checking your competitors’ ranking for each targeted keyword is also good. That can help you identify gaps in your content and ideas for new pieces. It can also help you avoid keyword cannibalization when multiple articles or blogs target the same keywords.

Keyword research aims to help people find your business, whether you have a blog or an e-commerce website or offer local services such as lawn care. To do this, you need to develop a list of keywords describing your potential customers’ search terms when looking for your offer. Then, it would help if you prioritized those keywords based on traffic potential, ranking difficulty, and competition.

Many online marketing experts suggest focusing on keywords with low competitiveness and high traffic potential. Still, consider the search intent behind each keyword to ensure it’s relevant to your business. You’ll also think about how difficult it would be for your business to rank for each keyword and whether you have the resources and expertise to compete with larger companies that can invest heavily in SEO.

Choosing seed keywords is the first step in keyword research. These words describe your product or service and that you can plug into a tool such as Google’s Keyword Planner or a paid tool such as Ahrefs, Semrush, Wordtracker, or Ubersuggest. These tools will then generate a list of related keywords and phrases that you can use to refine your seed keyword.

While the criteria for identifying keywords can be debated, most researchers agree that keywords are the central building blocks of any cultural discourse. They are inescapable, and the choice of a keyword may reflect social interests as much as linguistic characteristics.

Four tips for SEM teams to adjust to a privacy-focused future

30-second summary:

Within the digital marketing space, the conversation around privacy and cookie changes has focused heavily on programmatic and paid socialBut how will third-party cookie deprecation and new privacy regulations impact paid search?Here is what search marketers can expect and how to prepare

In the digital marketing world, targeting, measurement, and optimization have foundationally relied on the ability to accurately track user behaviors and performance across the web. However, as we all know, platforms like Google and Apple have introduced privacy-focused initiatives over the past few years that complicate targeting and measurement for advertisers.

When discussing the impacts of these changes, much of the conversation has focused on programmatic and paid social, which are undoubtedly the digital channels feeling the greatest impact. What has not been discussed in great detail is the impact on search marketing. How should advertisers adapt their paid search strategies to adjust to these new realities?

Before digging into action items, let’s recap the newest updates and how they’ll impact paid search campaigns.

Chrome’s privacy updates will have a greater impact than iOS.

There are two key privacy changes top-of-mind for search marketers in 2021. App Tracking Transparency (ATT), introduced through Apple’s iOS 14.5 update, requires a user to opt-in before a company can track their data across other apps or websites. Fortunately, the impact of this update on search programs for most advertisers is limited. Advertisers may see fluctuations in universal app campaign (UAC) volume, and search properties with a larger app-based audience (for example, YouTube) will experience some degradation in measurement and targeting. By and large, though, the ATT update is more of an issue for programmatic advertisers than search marketers.

Google Chrome’s third-party cookie deprecation, coming in 2023, will have a larger impact on paid search. From a targeting perspective, remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) will become less effective without data on users’ behaviors across non-Google properties. As of Q3 2020, RLSA accounted for 20 percent of Google search ad clicks for Merkle advertisers – so this is a significant segment of traffic. There will also be new measurement challenges, especially for companies relying on proprietary reporting tech.

While iOS 14.5 is already a reality for advertisers, there is more than a year left to prepare for Google’s third-party cookie deprecation. There are several steps search marketers can take now to optimize performance within a more privacy-focused environment.

1. Lean into first-party data audience solutions to target

Effective audience segmentation and targeting will continue to be critical in search moving forward. Google offers several in-platform audience options, such as in-market and affinity audiences, that don’t rely on third-party data and can be leveraged by advertisers indefinitely.

However, there’s a greater opportunity for organizations to differentiate themselves by crafting a strong audience strategy using their own first-party data with Customer Match. Many advertisers already use Customer Match to some degree, but the data may not be refreshed regularly, or it may not be segmented in detail. The transition away from third-party cookies is the perfect impetus for fine-tuning a first-party data strategy.

First, advertisers should assess the quality of their first-party data. How comprehensive is the data that’s collected? Are there a lot of duplicate records, or is there a reliable unique record for each customer? All of the slicing and dicing in the world won’t be helpful if the data you’re working with is fundamentally flawed.

Next, marketers should assess opportunities to segment their customer lists in meaningful ways – a single “email subscribers list” isn’t going to cut it anymore. Smart segmentation is always important, but it will become even more critical because it will empower Google to build more tailored similar audiences.

After establishing segments, there must be a plan to refresh those audiences frequently. Determine an appropriate cadence for updating customer match lists and determine who’s responsible for doing it. Currently, this can be done through the Google Ads API or within the Google Ads interface.

Once a foundation is in place for your audience strategy, revisit your approach quarterly to ensure that segments continue to align with attributes important to your customers and your business. This also creates a natural check-in point to confirm that lists are being updated as expected and that they’re all receiving traffic. If needed, audience bid modifiers should be adjusted to reflect current performance.

On the topic of bidding…

2. Test or transition to Smart Bidding to take advantage of Google’s proprietary signals

While we, as advertisers, will have lesser user data available to us without third-party cookies, Google will continue to have a wealth of information about its users and their behavior on Google-owned properties. Google Ads’ Smart Bidding allows advertisers to take advantage of those audience signals to reach the right person at the right bid with machine learning. That’s not to say that segmentation isn’t important with Smart Bidding – it still is. One of the many signals the bidder looks at is all of the audiences a given user belongs to, including customer match audiences.

Advertisers can and should take advantage of custom audience segmentations through Google Analytics, Looker, or Google Cloud Platform (Big Query). And they should automate the pushing of defined customer audiences to Google marketing activation to maximize business data with Google’s Smart Bidding.

Whatever your advertising goals may be, there is likely a Google Ads Smart Bidding strategy to suit your business needs. For search marketers not yet using Smart Bidding, it’d be smart to start testing in early 2022 to iron out any kinks and have a full-blown Smart Bidding approach before 2023.

3. Get comfortable with new reporting methods

We’ve talked a lot about adapting to the changes to come with targeting, but privacy updates also create challenges for reporting. There will be a measurement gap that advertisers need to solve. Fortunately, Google Ads has solutions in place to help fill holes with enhanced and modeled conversions.

Enhanced conversions improve reporting accuracy by using an advertiser’s hashed first-party data to tie a conversion event to an ad interaction. Enhanced conversions are powerful in that they make a one-to-one connection between an impression or click and a purchase. Modeled conversions, on the other hand, find their power in scalability; Google has been using them to report on cross-device conversions for several years. When used in combination, advertisers get the benefit of precision where a one-to-one connection exists, while smartly estimating conversions in areas where it does not.

As privacy regulations increasingly muddy the reporting waters, the stakes are higher to work with Google to fill the gaps. If you’re relying primarily on proprietary technology for reporting, consider using Google’s measurement system to get a more complete picture of performance. Understanding the full impact of search is critical for being able to optimize and allocate budgets effectively. Note that Google’s global site tag or tag manager is required to appropriately track conversions.

4. Monitor universal app campaigns for performance changes

Advertisers using UAC to drive app downloads via paid search should closely monitor performance for those campaigns. So far, Merkle has observed a slow downward trend in tracked installs as a result of Apple’s ATT update. To avoid the effects of ATT, some advertisers are increasing their investment in Android or shifting spend there entirely. UAC can continue to be an effective channel for marketers, but reduced visibility on iOS may require bid or budget shifts in order to hit performance goals.

Conclusion

Privacy updates are changing the way marketers approach targeting and measurement. Don’t panic – but do put a plan in place. With the right adjustments, search advertisers can effectively pivot along with the industry. More than ever, advertisers must value first-party audiences driven by search to further customer engagement, experiences, and marketing ROI. Using that first-party data, in conjunction with machine-learning-based bid strategies and modeled and enhanced reporting, will create a foundation to help future proof search campaigns for privacy updates in the years to come.

Matt Mierzejewski is SVP of Performance Marketing Lab and Search at Merkle Inc.

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Zero click search: the new consumer comfort zone

30-second summary:

Zero click search presents advertisers with the opportunity to pro-long budgets during periods when the paid search landscape is hypercompetitiveBrands can cash in on zero click searches for the organic element of their overall search strategy to gain visibility and drive conversionsBarilla Group’s global digital & search marketing manager, Nitin Manhar Dhamelia advises on zero click search optimization and measurement

Historic context

Back in 1998 when Google was founded, it served 10,000 searches per day and by 2012 it was 3,500,000,000 searches per day.​ And in 2021, search volumes continue to explode with Google serving around 5,600,000,000 searches globally per day.​

Its success in becoming a transitive verb was borne when Google tasked itself with bringing order to the chaos of the world’s knowledge. It knew that to achieve this magnitude of top-of-mind awareness, the key would be to create a window to the web that was inclusive, accessible, and easy to understand for the general population; it knew that inclusivity would accelerate adoption. Even today, the search giant is always working on improving the consumers’ search experience and 2021 saw several key algorithm updates roll out – passage ranking, page experience, page titles, MUM, mobile-first indexing, and more.

Not too far ahead in the future, Google is going to make it even easier for consumers to access information about brands.​ But why?

Micro funnels

Because people visit Google in key decision-making moments along the buyer journey – essentially, each Search session can be deemed a micro funnel. In fact, after the pandemic, there is no undoing the great reset. Nearly, 15 percent of Google search queries Google attended were first of their kind. And 81 percent of consumers discovered new brands online during the pandemic.

“There isn’t a world where people revert back to their 2019 behaviours, and part of that is now a part of their comfort zones.” – Corie Barry, CEO, Best Buy

Google’s own recent retail report identified four key consumer insights:

Dynamic demand: People’s buying patterns will continue to change in response to unpredictable timesDigital inspiration: People will use the internet to be inspiredConvenience: People will prioritize convenience while shoppingSupportive spending: People will be more mindful of how and where they spend their dollars with “values” playing a major influencer

Even though less favored by advertisers, zero click searches are pockets of opportunity for brands to focus on as part of their branded search strategy.

With great power comes great responsibility

With its always-on innovation focus, Google is constantly expected to eclipse itself (for the better) and the way it aims to achieve that is by presenting information in ever more easy-to-digest consumer-friendly formats.​

Its solution? Bringing convenience and comfort to their searcher’s online journey with zero click search. This means redesigning the search experience to align with a lucid consumer journey, which in some cases implies that – the journey both starts and ends in Google, and without a single click in the search results:

Squid Game Google zero click search

In terms of how this translates into volumes of searches, take a look at the data from an industry study below:


Zero click search data

What does this mean for brands?

In my own research the split of traffic between the core search marketing channels for a keyword that has a “need” intent, calculates to:

Paid: 6.5 percentOrganic (above the fold): 31.5 percentOrganic (below the fold): two percentZero Click Searches: 60 percent

Extraordinarily, the last number isn’t too far off an original 2020 study that was made of a sample size that is far greater than most brand marketers might have immediate access to.

However, when smaller, localized in-house studies surface very similar results it drives the conversation forward into where we need to focus a proportion of our overall search budgets: creating data-driven content that contributes to adding value and top-of-mind awareness (TOMA) to consumers.

Tips for brands to optimize and measure zero click search

The people also ask (PAA) feature in Google (essentially website content derived FAQs in Search results) are around six times more likely to appear in a search results page versus featured snippets.  And therefore, PAA should not be underestimated as a branding tool. So the first tip is to create editorial content that resides on your website and optimize for PAA – using long-tail search data.

And the second tip is to optimize your content for featured snippets across brand and partner websites – your keyword traffic or search traffic insights could help prioritize this activity internally.

Another interesting insight that stood out was – regardless of the industry, most “big” brands will trigger a PAA.

PAA box visibility stats

Measuring zero-click performance

Gauging the impact of zero click search remains a frequently asked question itself and a continued enigma that has hampered brands from focusing on this highly important search facet. These are some valuable avenues for search marketers to track the zero click search features’ performance:

1. Understand relativity

Understand the relationship between impression volume and average ranking for a target keyword(s) in the Google search console to create insights into where branded content can trigger a zero click search result.

2. Track soft metrics

This is where the soft metric shines – so by focusing on zero click SERP features for brand vs competitor domains, it’s possible to create an index to track the outcomes and evolution of a soft metric such as ‘share of intent’. This will help you grow product or service awareness/consideration via the zero click search element of your Search Strategy.

Piecing all this information and tailoring it to your brand will positively add a new dimension to your search marketing strategy.

Nitin Manhar Dhamelia is the global digital & search marketing manager at Barilla Group. Nitin has a 15-year track record of global B2B/B2C team management, governance, commercial experience, across Americas, EMEA, APAC.

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You Sell Widgets, You Rank for Widgets, But You Also Want to Rank for Gizmos. Should Gizmos Get a Separate Site?

“Does Google expect my site to focus on just one thing?” is a common concern people have about their SEO campaigns, both local and non-local.  You might also have that concern if you’re thinking about wheeling out a service or product on your site that’s very different from your other services or products.

The one offering seems at least a little out-of-place with the other offerings on your site.  You wonder whether by adding it to your site you’ll mess up any existing rankings.  Maybe you also wonder whether the different/unusual service or product even can pull in some rankings on the main site, or if it needs to live on a separate site.

In considering an additional site, you’re not looking for extra work, but rather just don’t want to mess up a good thing or go on a fool’s errand.   Of course, there may also be a “branding” concern, but I’ll set that aside because it may not be an issue for you, or maybe you’ve already figured it out.  So I’ll assume your main worry is purely an SEO one – about whether you’ll water down your site and end up not ranking for much at all.

I’ll give you my short answer now, and fill in some gaps in a minute: you CAN successfully branch out on your site and rank for a service/product that’s different from the others, if you play your cards right that will not mess up your rankings for the other offerings, and unless branding is a big concern you do not need a separate site.

As usual, what I say is based on what I’ve seen for clients and observed in the wild.  In keeping with that, here are a few real-life examples I’ve been involved in, which may sound like the situation you’re in:

Example situation #1: A roofing company tries to rank also for siding terms and gutter terms, and succeeds.

Example situation #2: A divorce attorney tries to rank also for bankruptcy and personal-injury terms, and succeeds.

Example situation #3: A couples counselor tries to rank also for individual-therapy terms, and succeeds.

Example situation #4: A dentist who focuses mostly on cosmetic procedures tries to rank also for implant-dentistry terms, and succeeds.

Example situation #5: A battery shop tries to rank also for phone-repair terms, and succeeds.

I have more examples, but you get the idea.  In those cases and in many others I’ve seen, the branching-out didn’t involve whipping up a separate site for the different service.  You’ve probably also seen exactly what I’m talking about: No doubt you have seen some local businesses outrank you for terms that are dead-on relevant to your business and not very relevant to theirs, and thought “Why are they outranking me for that term – WTF?”

The kicker is that if those competitors went the route you’ve considered – if they had created separate sites for the relative oddball services or products – there’s a good chance they wouldn’t have outranked you.  Instead they chose to kept everything together, and it seems to have worked out perfectly.

 

But wait a minute.  Doesn’t Google care about the theme of your whole site?  Don’t you get some advantage from focusing on a niche?  Doesn’t Google favor specialists over generalists (especially in the Google Maps results)?

Yes, to some extent.  Where all else is equal, the specialized site has an advantage over the plump site, probably because generally more of the pages are relevant to the niche and viable to rank, because the domain name is probably dead-on relevant, because probably a greater percentage of the links are from sites relevant to the niche, and for about half a dozen other reasons I can think of (speculate on).  That’s why you can create a separate site, and why (with some work) it can be extremely effective.

But the older site and the newer site are not equal.  Probably the most important difference is the old site typically has more links from relevant sites than the new site will for a while.  Google knows more about the older site in general, and sees more signs of life, including whether you whip up a page for the new service and existing visitors go to it right away (even before it ranks for anything).  Your site may already have a smattering of rankings for terms related to the unusual service or product, even though you don’t have any pages for it yet.  The difference is that in one case you’re raising a kid for 5-6 years and then teaching him or her to ride a bike, and in the other case you’re only teaching a kid to ride a bike.  One of those processes is much quicker.

You have options.  You can whip up a new site to target the different or unrelated service, but it will take longer.  In my experience it’s easier to expand the range of terms the existing site ranks for.

How do you go about that?  By doing the basic steps I talk about all the time, most importantly:

On your longtime site that’s all about widgets, make a detailed page on the gizmo you offer.Go heavy on the internal links to the page about the gizmo, including on the homepage, main navigation, footer, and on a couple of other other products/services pages.Add to your homepage a section all about the gizmo(s). Keep all the existing content about the widgets you’re so renowned for.Get links from a couple of sites that are more relevant to gizmos than to widgets, to complement the links you’ve already got from widget-related sites.Get Google Maps reviews and other reviews from customers who bought the gizmo and who go into a little detail in their reviews.If possible, specify a “Gizmo Maker” or “Gizmo Seller” category on your Google Business Profile (Google My Business) page.Study the “performance” tab in Google Search Console and see if you’re getting any impressions for gizmo terms.On an ongoing basis add detail, internal links, FAQs, reviews, photos, videos, or other content to your “gizmo” page.In the later stage of that process revisit the idea of the separate site for gizmos. Yes, the one I said you should skip in favor of working on the existing site. If it ranks well, great.  It may.  Or if it doesn’t rank, you can always redirect or axe it.  It probably won’t do as well as the page (or pages) on the older site, or it will take more work than you’re willing to put in, but that’s what you’re here to find out.  Once you’ve avoided a situation where a dime is holding up a dollar, experiment away.

Do you have a site that seems too specialized for you to branch out on it?

To what extent do you have outlier pages that rank for very different terms from what your other pages rank for?  Why do those pages do well, as far as you can tell?

Any questions, puzzles to figure out, or strategy tips?

Leave a comment!

What Parts of Your Local SEO Can Competitors NOT Steal?

On your way to your seat at the Local Feast, they follow you around like a bad smell.  You toil to build a great page or resource on your site, and two days later they’ve copied it.  You put research and brain cells into your title tags, internal links, GMB categories, and citations, only to spare your competitor all that effort.  You get hard-earned reviews from happy customers, and then your competitor’s “customers” happen to write reviews on the same experiences.  In addition to stealing everything but your cattle, they may spam the map and diss you whenever anyone is listening.  Google won’t do much about any of it.

 

Copycats can get far, but only so far.  It’s like in chess, where a bad player can copy a grandmaster’s every move until the game-ending move.  In general, competitors who rip off your local SEO strategy will stop only once it backfires or otherwise stops working.  Between you and them, it’s a war of attrition.  You can outlast them.  The only question is how much they bleed out of you in the meantime.

What many business owners and SEOs don’t seem to realize is that, although you can’t stop competitors from ripping you off, you can make their strategy much less effective.  You do that by putting extra effort into certain parts that competitors can’t haul away  – what I like to call “protective moats” around your business.

What are some of those protective moats?  Here’s what I would consider the short list:

Your best links. Even if your competitors know of the specific good links you have doesn’t mean they (a) know how you pulled them off, (b) would be willing or able to put in the work you did to make those links possible, or (c) would see the same results. Of course, cheap-o directory links or links that require nothing more than payment/donations/dues are easy for your competitors to replicate (not that they’ll help either of you much).  But your finest, hardest-to-get links?  You probably have at least a few that took you (and maybe a helper) serious work to get, or that were the byproducts of years of work that you did without even thinking of the link.  Your competitors would have a very hard time landing those, and collectively they’re probably one of the major factors that have helped you in the local search results so far. Your offerings: services, products, or treatments. Just as some competitors are too lazy to market without ripping you off, they probably didn’t learn their trade as well as you have, and therefore can’t help customers/clients/patients in all the ways you can. You offer services or products, or perform treatments, or handle cases that they can’t.  Is it possible they could claim to offer those things and then do a bait-n’-switch on customers?  Yes, but then they’ll lose business, get torched in the reviews, lose more business, divert energy away from marketing the services they do offer, and possibly get into legal trouble.  The fulfillment part matters.  Meanwhile, your great range of offerings will help your visibility for niche or long-tail search terms, on top of giving you extra side-door ways to rank for the broader, most-competitive terms. (Relevant post: “Spin-off Pages: a Bazooka for Your Local SEO.”) “Practitioner” or “department” Google My Business pages. If you’re a dental practice with a pediatric dentist, that dentist can have his or her own GMB page.  With a little work on it and more work on the site (particularly on the landing page), that GMB page can rank for a whole range of “kids’ dentists” terms. The dental practice without the pediatric specialist has no such advantage.  The same is true if you’re a law firm with multiple attorneys, each with somewhat differing specialties, and one attorney specializes in immigration law: He or she can have a GMB page that ranks for “immigration lawyer” terms on top of whatever terms the main practice’s GMB page (or other attorneys’ GMB pages) rank for.  If you primarily sell widgets, but you also have a distinct area of your store where you repair widgets and another where you rent out widgets, then one or more of those could justify your having an additional GMB page for each department.  Unless your competitors have the same kind of staff or the same department, they couldn’t have those additional GMB pages – or the additional visibility. Your location. Even though it’s not hard to create and verify a Google My Business page at a bogus address, it may be logistically impossible or prohibitively tough for your competitors to verify GMB pages at your location. Even if they could get their own map pin right in your building, there is a good chance they’d be filtered out of the local map. Awards, certifications, and publicity. Certain distinctions often bring with them visibility for you on sites that may be big in your industry or your local market, and that themselves rank well in Google. They may also bring you good links, referral traffic, unstructured reviews, bragging rights, and branding power, which often the raw materials of effective SEO.  The fruit salad you earned may be the results of focused and intensive work, or the results of many years in the trenches.  Your competitor can start at the beginning, the way you did, but because a third party had to give you your props, there is nothing for a competitor to grab. Videos. If a video features your smiling visage, shows your business or branding, features your customers, or in general demonstrates how great you are, not only is it hard or impossible for a competitor to lift or edit, but also no competitor would want the video that results. Videos are inherently hard to rip off, which may be one reason that even all these years it’s still not all that hard to get them to rank for pretty competitive local search terms.  (Of course, the main benefit of a good video is to make your site more persuasive by embedding it on your site.) Persuasive reviews. Competitors can easily write or buy sock-puppet reviews, or fake their reviews in other ways. But those reviews usually won’t appear credible even on the surface, and will look even shadier when would-be customers look up who the “reviewers” are – none of whom seems to be a real person whose life can be researched a little through Google-fu.  Competitors can copy reviews, but they can’t copy authenticity.

There are always ants at a picnic, and you can assume some of your food will disappear or start marching away.  But if you pack enough food that the ants can’t or won’t eat, you’ll have plenty for yourself.

What are other aspects of local SEO that competitors can’t pick up and drag off?

Any first-hand stories about competitors who aped your strategies?

Leave a comment!

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