On May 30, 2013, I hosted a special SEO webinar for 358 folks from BizFilings Business Owner’s Toolkit.  This was a very timely presentation because Penguin 2.0 was released just 8 days earlier on May 22.  The webinar covered what I call “old school” SEO tactics to avoid as well as the 5 steps I recommend due to the recent updates Google has made to their search engine algorithm.

At the end of the webinar, I received a TON of questions and I stayed on the line for an extra 30-minutes trying to answer them all.  I documented the most frequently asked questions and I want to share them here so everyone can benefit.


“What are your thoughts on meta data and it’s importance with Pengiun 2.0?”

Meta data typically refers to the Meta Description, Meta Keywords, and the Title tag.  The Meta Keywords no longer have any affect on your SEO so you can safely ignore that.  The Title tag is one of the most important elements on your page because it tells Google what your page is about.  Include your target keyword in your Title tag so that Google knows your relevant for your keyword.  The Meta Description is the text that shows up below your Title in the search results.  Write your Meta Description like a compelling ad to increase your click through rates when you show up in the search results. Just make sure you don’t force too many keywords into your Title and Meta Description — “over-optimization” can be counter-productive.


“Where can we find the Google keyword tool?”

Go to: https://adwords.google.com/KeywordTool


“What is the biggest difference between SEO and online ad optimization?”

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the process of getting your website to rank naturally in search engines like Google.  Ad optimization is the process of editing your ad campaign to drive more sales and get more return on investment.  SEO has nothing to do with advertising.  With SEO, you are going to get ranked in search engines like Google and you do not pay when prospects click on your listing.


“Are you penalized by Google if you DON’T utilize/optimize local google places?  For example, what if you are totally “virtual” and don’t rely on local market/audience – or offer a local office?”

No, there is no penalty for not using Google+ Local.
Related article: How to check if you have a Google penalty


“Will local listings/SEO provide benefit on “general” Google searches – or just on local searches?”

Local SEO (i.e. optimizing Google+ Local) will not benefit your website’s search engine rankings.  However, the opposite is true.  As you improve your website’s SEO reputation, then your Google+ Local rankings will improve as well.


“Is there a search engine optimization spot for virtual businesses (similar to Google plus local but for virtual)?”

No, there is no virtual listing in Google.  For virtual businesses, you need to focus on traditional SEO rather than Google+ Local.


“Google will penalize sites that have excessive links with exact match keywords in the anchor text. Is that true?”

Yes, ever since the Penguin update Google is penalizing sites that have unnatural link profiles.  Excessive exact match anchor text is unnatural so you are at risk to get penalized.


“How does guest blogging help out in SEO?”

The guest blog article should include a link back to your website.  Guest blogs are a great way to get other reputable websites to link back to your website, which in turn boosts your search engine rankings.


“Sites that go overboard with advertisements may also be penalized?

With the Panda update, Google penalized some sites that had so many advertisements it caused a negative user experience. With Penguin, Google is working hard to find websites that sell links.  When Google finds a link that you paid for, then Google ignores that link in their analysis of your search engine rankings.  So if you buy links to improve your SEO, then Google will eventually figure this out and you’ll lose the value of those links for SEO purposes (and potentially get penalized).


“Google Plus is not as popular compared to Facebook, Twitter etc. How does Google Plus help with SEO?”

Facebook is the leading social network by far.  In 2nd and 3rd place is Google+ and YouTube.  Google uses signals from Google+ in their algorithm.  Plus, Google personalizes search results based on your friends’ activity.  For example, if you can get a lot of Google+ fans, then when those fans search in Google, your content will be more likely to show up on the first page.


“How do I track my progress in moving up the Google rankings?”

I recommend you set up and monitor Google Webmaster Tools, which is free (http://www.google.com/webmastertools).  Plus, you can link your Webmaster Tools account to Google Analytics.  Both will show you your rankings for certain keywords.  In addition, I recommend the Firefox plugin called “Rank Checker” (http://tools.seobook.com/firefox/rank-checker/).


“What is a mobile-friendly website?”

A mobile friendly website is a website designed to fit on a small mobile screen.  Go to http://m.www.mainstreetroi.com to see a mobile friendly design versus our desktop website https://www.mainstreetroi.com.


“Do outbound links to other good sites (say 1 or two a post) with related information help my page?”

Outbound links to not help your SEO directly.  However, if you have zero outbound links, then that could look unnatural to Google.  I do recommend you link to other reputable websites when it’s appropriate because it will help your website visitors and it signals to Google that you’re not an overly-promotional website.


“If we have a reviews page on our site where customers can submit reviews, how can we get Google to read or show those?”

For obvious reasons, Google looks at online reviews from other reputable websites rather than reviews you post yourself on your website.  I recommend you get reviews on your Google+ Local page whenever possible.


“How can we track if we are a brick and mortar store, not an online retailer or service provider?”

To track online sales, I recommend you use a trackable phone number and use coupons with tracking codes.


“Can you suggest credible business directories (such as Yelp) that will help us build up out Google+ Local reputation?”

We include a list of business directories as part of our Local SEO Formula video course.  Go to http://www.thelocalseoformula.com to learn more.


“What is happening in 2015?”

In 2015, mobile website traffic is expected to surpass desktop computer traffic.  So it’s important to have a mobile friendly website ASAP.  Otherwise you’ll miss out on sales from people who get frustrated on your website from their mobile phone.


“What is considered “local” – zip code, state, region?”

The exact size of local is determined by competition, but a rule of thumb is to stick to the city/town level. In highly competitive locations, the radius is going to be smaller than uncompetitive locations.  For example, in New York City, your Google+ Local page will be difficult to rank for neighboring cities because the competition will be very high.  If you have lower competition then you’ll be able to rank for a larger radius surrounding your location.


“Is there any way for an e-commerce site to leverage Google+ Local?”

It’s an uphill battle.  Google created Google+ Local for local brick and mortar businesses.  Therefore, I do not recommend you try to use Google+ Local if you do not have a physical location.  If you do have a store, but you also sell nationally via your e-commerce site, then absolutely use Google+ Local for your store.


“Which one is best for my small business – a Facebook business page or website?”

First, you need a website.  That’s step one.  Then, you need to figure out if your customers are hanging out on Facebook.  If they are (and they probably are), then ask whether there’s a way for you to enter the conversations they are having on Facebook?  If yes, then it may make sense for you to have a Facebook Business page.  But first, focus on your own website.


“Is this a full time job? Will your marketing packages make this easier and less time is spent on SEO marketing?”

Marketing is MY full time job :)  So yes, marketing can definitely be a full-time job.  If you do not want it to be your full-time job, then I recommend you join Main Street Inner Circle (http://www.mainstreetinnercircle.com/).  We provide an Online Marketing Action Plan to help you prioritize your best opportunities and create a plan to get it all done efficiently.