#5 Optimize for Local SEO & Citations

56Have you ever heard of a citation? Citations are any time your business name, address, or other identifying factor are mentioned on another website. Citations count in regard to SEO even if there is no link present.

All of the following citations counts, when it comes to SEO:

  • Your business name online
  • Your business name + phone number
  • Your business name + phone number + address

Believe it or not, even just your business phone number is considered a viable citation.

Types of SEO Citations

There are two basic types of citations that apply to SEO and that help with local search results. These include:

  • The structured citation: This is what you find on business listing web pages – Yelp, Angie’s List, etc.

Having citations helps you prove that your business is really what you say it is, is located where you claim, etc.

Google and Bing (as well as most of the other search engines) consider citations an essential part of their ranking algorithms. When all other factors are equal, a business that has a higher number of citations is going to rank higher than those businesses with fewer citations.

When you can achieve citations on well-established and well-indexed portals, it can increase the certainty that a search engine crawler has regarding the information about your business and how it needs to be categorized.

The Local Connection

Citations are an essential part of your Local SEO efforts. Each citation you receive for your business helps to validate that it is part of a local community. After all, it is pretty hard to “fake” being a member of your area’s chamber of commerce or a city index of businesses. Also, receiving citations on the newspaper website or on another local business website shows that you are present – making your site appear more trustworthy and increasing your rank in the search engines.

How to Acquire More Citations for Your Business

There are several ways you can begin collecting citations for your business now.

  • Complete profiles for any business listing site with business name, address, phone number, etc.
  • Request that other businesses add a citation to your page and do the same for them.
  • Join your local chamber of commerce.

When you acquire local citations, you can increase your rank and ensure your website is viewed as trustworthy.

#4 Don’t Forget About Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to everything you can do OFF your website to increase your ranking. This includes blog marketing, forum marketing, article submission, link building, etc. Off-page SEO is a crucial part of any well-developed SEO plan.

If you want an effective off-page SEO strategy, you need to ensure it includes all of the following elements.

Social Networking Sites

Social networking has grown by leaps and bounds from what it was in the past. Getting involved in various social networks is a fundamental step in off-page SEO. Make sure to sign up for the most popular (and relevant) social sites, including:

  • Google+
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Also, there are niche specific social sites to use, as well. These are a great source to find new customers and connect with others who may benefit from your services.


When you write a blog on your website, you give people a reason to keep coming back. It also ensures search engine spiders are crawling your site frequently. This helps you achieve a higher rank in the SERPs.

The question many people have is, “what do I post?” There are countless ways to reach customers, but the key is to provide them with the information they want and need.

While blogging is actually an on-page SEO tactic, the off-page element comes in here. You need to submit your blog to niche blog directories, as well as blog search engines.

Blog Marketing

Make sure you are posting comments on other blogs in your same business niche. This often gives you the opportunity to add your own link in the comments section. The links are then crawled by the search engines, which points them back to your site. These blogs are referred to as “Do-Follow” Blogs.

Link Building

This is perhaps the biggest and most important form of off-page SEO. Blog marketing (described above) is one form of link building. The key is to build external links on other people’s pages that lead back to your website. Some of the most effective ways to build your external links include:

  • Blog directories – similar to the “yellow pages” but each entry provides a link back to your website.
  • Forum signatures: Comment in forums to get a link back to your site.
  • Article directories: Publish various articles on an article directory, which can give you two or more links back to your site – per article.

Good vs. Bad Links

An important note with link building is that there are both good – and bad links.

Domain authority is determined by a websites “trust” factor. The more Google trusts it, the higher DA it will have. The goal is to try and have all your links attached to sites that have a high DA.

#2 and #3 Do Keyword Research

Every online purchase begins with a few words typed into a search box.

Keyword research is one of the most valuable, important, and high return activities in the search marketing industry. Being able to rank for the proper keywords can make or break your entire website. Knowing what keywords to target starts with keyword research.

Keyword research isn’t just about getting people to your site, but also making sure you get the right type of visitors.

The Secret Weapon of Keyword Research

There are secret weapons in SEO. One of the most valuable is Google AdWords Keyword Planner. AdWords is the advertising system used by Google. The Keyword Planner is free for anyone to use. (There is now some limit to the keyword tool’s ability if you don’t have an active AdWords account, so keep this in mind).

Prior to using this tool, you need to create a general list of 5 to 10 keywords and phrases related to the website. For example, for a personal injury attorney you could use: personal injury, personal injury law, personal injury lawyer, etc.

Generating your Keyword List is a multi-step process, but a crucial one for SEO success. The steps of this include:

  • Create a Google AdWords account (https://www.google.com/adwords/)
  • Choose the “Keyword Planner” tool
  • Click “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category”
  • Navigate to “Targeting” and choose the geographic area you want to target (you can choose zip code, metro area, state, country, and multiple locations)
  • Use your raw list of 5-10 keywords for the initial search; put the words in the first box (it is best to leave all other fields blank)

At this point, you have a list generated.

Deciphering Your Keyword List

In the report generated you receive a listing of words Google deems related to your root list. The report provides a bar graph of the search volumes, which spans over the previous 12 months.

Other notable items on the list include:

  • Ad Groups – provides insights on keyword association and helps you figure out keyword relevance.
  • Monthly Searches – How many times an exact keyword has been searched.
  • Competition – Is it a competitive keyword?
  • Suggested Bid – Typically only needed if you are planning on running an AdWords campaign.

As you scroll through the list, take note of the averages. It is a good idea to target keywords that receive a large number of searches monthly.

Build Your Spreadsheet

You can add keyword groups to your own spreadsheet by clicking the “Add to Plan” and create your keyword list. Once finished, you can download the entire sheet.

Don’t just try to target the keywords with the highest search numbers. You need to find keywords that have a combination of high volume, a higher suggested starting bid, and a higher competition value. These are referred to as “money words” and convert into better sales than other terms.

#3 Make Your Website Google Friendly with On-page SEO

on page seo

If you want your website to rank on Google for a specific keyword, you have to master two essential components:

  • On-page SEO

Here, you can learn more about on-page SEO, which is 50% of an effective strategy.

What is On-Page SEO?

This refers to optimizing the structure of your page in a way that makes it easier for web crawlers to find the keywords you have targeted.

When discussing on-page SEO, there are some factors that are more important than others.

The Process of On-Page SEO Success

If search engines are unable to find your site, you can optimize all day long but you will never appear. If you use a content management system like WordPress, you can easily check to see if your website is crawlable by just logging into the portal and choosing “Privacy” under the “Settings” tab. Make sure the “Allow search engines to index this site” option is selected beneath the “Site Visibility” heading.

If you don’t use WordPress, you can use Google Webmaster tools to see if the site is being crawled. To find this information simply click “Health” and then choose “Crawl Stats” to determine if the site is being actively crawled and how often the crawling is taking place.

There are several parts of your web page that have to be optimized for success. Here, you can learn about each one.

The Body

You need to include the selected keyword(s) in the body of your content at a minimum four times. If necessary, rearrange the keywords so they fit naturally in the text. Awkward wording can demote your site on Google.

Make sure to write content that is at least 50 words; however, the longer the content the better (as long as it is valuable and not gibberish).

If you put too many instances of the keyword in the document, this not only hurts readability but also your rankings. Try to keep all your content written for your readers but “tweaked” for the search engines.


If you use images, make sure that the keywords are added to the alt tag. Also, make sure you name the image so that it matches your keywords.

Page Title

This is what appears in the tab of the web browser used. If you hover over the tab, it should show the entire page title. The best way to create a page title is to use the following format:

Make sure whatever you create is enticing. After all, what’s the point of a top spot in the search engines if no one is clicking on it?

The Meta Description

This is what you see under your page’s title in the search results. Meta descriptions should be 156 characters and include your targeted keyword.

H1 Tag

The h1 tag is different from title tags. It is important to include the keywords in this and putting them as close to the front as possible. Try to use the keyword only once in the h1 tag.

If you use WordPress, the h1 tag is the default page title. You don’t have to do anything special here.


At the absolute least, include the target keyword in your URL slug, for example:

  • keywordvariation.com/keyword

On-page SEO techniques are crucial to overall search engine success. Keep this in mind when creating your web pages.

#1 Start With Your Marketing Strategy

Creating strategies and plans for marketing today is more challenging than ever before. In the past, simply launching your website on the World Wide Web was enough to ensure you earned first-page real estate.

While things have evolved, the fundamentals of marketing planning remain unchanged. Regardless of the channels available, you still need to know your customer, develop a superior brand proposition, and communicate this effectively.

It’s up to the search engines if you are found. Then, your content determines if a customer is going to do business with you.

Not only are you being judged by the search engine used, but also the Internet as a whole. If you don’t have a superior marketing strategy in place, you can’t succeed in the modern search engine economy.

A website alone is not a marketing strategy. It is part of an overall marketing plan and serves as your virtual world, business headquarters – but it is not everything.

Just because you makeover your website, it doesn’t mean you have “revamped” your presence and the opportunity you have to be found.

Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating, and satisfying customer requirements profitably.

Creating Your Marketing Strategy

Step 1: Get to Know Your Audience

Ready to develop a marketing strategy that yields results? You have to know your audience. Ask the following:

  • Who is your exact target audience?
  • What type of content does your audience like to consume?
  • What goals do you want to accomplish with your marketing and website?

Keep in mind, you may have a few niche specific questions to answer, as well. The more you know now, the better equipped you will be to create an effective marketing strategy.

Once you answer these questions, you can develop a buyer persona. These are invaluable when it comes to figuring out how to reach your target audience on a personal, emotional level.

Buyer personas allow you to get to know your target audience in a unique, personal way. What they look like, how they behave, what they are worried about, their preferences, etc. When you have buyer persona’s they can be used to hone your content into exactly what your customers need and want, leading to more profits.

Step 2: Determine Your Marketing Strategy Goals

You also have to know what you are trying to accomplish. Why did you create a website in the first place? Some of the most common reasons include:

  • Lead generation
  • More visibility
  • More sales

In fact, it may be a combination of two or all of these. Regardless of your goal, you need to ensure it is clearly defined. At this point, you have something to work toward. No goal is achievable if you don’t have an indication you have reached it.

Step 3: Create your Brand Value Proposition

What makes your brand, your company, and what you have to offer different? A huge part of your entire marketing strategy is to create a brand value proposition and make it clear across your website. When consumers come to your site, they want to know why you are the company to do business with. If you don’t have this defined, your customers won’t see value, either.

Creating a marketing strategy takes time, and requires you to answer difficult questions. In the end, however, you are better equipped to serve and meet the needs of your customers.

How to Design an SEO Friendly Website that Google Will Love

Your website is your online image.  And like it or not, no matter what business you are in, your business is an Internet business.

The web is the first place people go to search for products and services, and usually the last place they check before making a purchase decision.

It is tempting to price shop web design services.  The Internet is littered with web builder websites from likes of Wix, Weebly, GoDaddy, Squarespace, etc.    They look great, and they are cheap – but you get what your pay for, especially when it comes to lead-generation websites.

For a business asset as important as your website, trying to go cheap is one of the absolute worst things you can do.  You might get a shiny digital brochure, but there is a high likelihood that it won’t be Google-friendly, nor will it become your company’s marketing engine – which is what your need it to be

This means:

  • Your site won’t rank in search engines
  • Your site won’t be found by potential customers

In some cases, a poorly re-designed site can actually cause your rankings to plummet.

Does this sound alarmist?  We hope so, because the stakes are that high.

Even if by some miracle you have a decent looking site created, if it is buried in the depths of the cyber sea, it is a pointless investment.

Designer Red Flag – If you have found a web designer that talks nothing about SEO when creating a web design plan, don’t walk away – RUN!

Don’t Fall for the Web Design Trap

Having a great looking website is good; but, even more important is the SEO strategies put in place to ensure organic ranking potential. You are not just creating something that looks nice, your goal should be to create an optimized inbound marketing platform to attract and convert traffic into sales.

Yet most executive and business owners buy websites as a shiny product, and don’t think about SEO and online lead generation until these become issues after launch.

This is what we call the web design trap.

The SEO Web Design Balance

There are two parts of website creation:

  • The old method of designing for looks alone

A website’s sole purpose is to attract visitors and convert the visitors into actual, paying customers.

What is a SEO friendly website?

An SEO friendly website is a website that is designed and developed using SEO best-practices design layout and website coding.  The highest level of website SEO friendliness is when all of the following elements are taken into account:

  • Marketing strategy
  • Keyword research
  • On-page SEO and SEO coding
  • Off-page SEO
  • Local SEO and citations
  • Social media integration
  • Content
  • Reputation

Insider’s Tip: If you want to create a powerful inbound marketing hub, you have to create a website around your ideal clients’ search and content consumption habits. This is the only way you can attract and close new clients through a search engine. With strong SEO keyword research, you can take the guesswork out of web design and actually reverse engineer your website around the search behavior of your ideal customer, rather than relying on your best guess or the best guess of your web design service provider.

What to Avoid in the World of Web Design

Fast and cheap. Those are the factors some people look for when creating a website.

All this is going to lead to is dashed hopes of ranking in the search engines. When it is time to design your site, there are a few mass-marketing cheap website solutions out there you should avoid:

  • GoDaddy
  • SquareSpace
  • Weebly

These website builders are absolute nightmares when it comes to gaining SEO traction and the adage “you get what you pay for” definitely applies here.

Your Website – Your Image

Ultimately, you have final say over the website created. However, if you want success in the search engines and if you want to be found by potential customers, then you have to have a web design that gets results. This means SEO is top-of-mind during the entire process. This is the only way to achieve on-going SEO success.

Protect Your WordPress Site Against Malware and Hackers

WordPress is one of the most popular platforms for website building. Because of this popularity many nefarious people have reasons to attack websites built with wordpress. This means that security is a vital part of any new website using the platform. Also just like a home wordpress isn’t secured when first created but the measures that are needed to create a sense of security are routine in any CTU design. Other developers can easily offer a web page but few offer protection along with it. CTU makes both a priority. Protecting the cyber security of a website may sound foreign but it is a very important and needed feature. The potential risks associated with an unprotected website can create many issues for a business. Prevention is always a great method of defense in case of any kind of attack. Our security team uses a combination of constant backups and website scans to check for any problems that may surface. Our customers can trust that any design project of ours will be secured.

Why SEO is Important for Your Business

A well designed web page is a great thing but without proper SEO it can go to waste. SEO is what makes web pages show up in search engines and makes users capable of finding your business. This makes SEO just as important as a properly designed site if not more. Because if customers can’t find your business online, when they search for products or services no matter how functional your website is you will be unable to see a difference. This creates a vital connection between proper SEO management and intuitive web design. Only together can a business online presence truly thrive. That’s why an equal amount of support is put into any web design project of ours by our web design and SEO teams.