How to strip back SEO to boost your rankings

Better understand what search engines are looking for, and discover how you can ultimately improve your rankings

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the practice of making websites as search engine friendly as possible, so when users are searching for terms that are relevant to your business, your website will appear higher in the list of results. You can’t pay for this as it’s organic – it’s a mixture of skill, relevancy and some would say black magic!

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Naturally, people will be better in certain areas of SEO than others, although each of us will always benefit from ongoing improvement, understanding and refinement. It takes resourcefulness, dedication, persistence and creativity to hit the top spots; this is particularly relevant with the ever-changing nature of the Google algorithm and the need to keep up to date and informed.

The following will help you to have a better understanding of what the search engines are looking for, and how you can ultimately improve your rankings.

By stripping back SEO and breaking it down to what matters, we can focus our attention on what’s needed to achieve those gains, without being penalised.
We will start with what really matters, understanding Google’s latest 2017 ranking signals, and how to optimise for both humans and the search engine crawlers. We then create a workflow and move onto tasks associated with it. Let’s get started.

Onpage SEO is a absolute must

Google’s ranking is made up of 200+ components, or ‘ranking signals’. On page SEO is a critical element to fully take advantage of. Content relevance has to be both original and relevant to the search phrase to rank well, as well as optimising meta titles, descriptions, headers, image alts and the URLs.

User experience and trust

SERP (Search Engine Results Page) click-through rates can have a massive impact on rankings. The only efficient way to make your listing earn actual clicks from real users is to make it appealing and click-worthy. We utilize the meta tags for this with clear CTAs, combined with great user experiences to gain trust.

Pay attention to technical SEO

If your page isn’t optimised for mobile devices, it’s likely to be discarded from mobile search results completely. Google has also oficially confirmed that it uses page speed in its ranking algorithm, which can influence your SEO indirectly. 4xx and 5xx errors will also afect your site’s indexation and have an impact on user experience.

Take advantage of backlinks

The number of backlinks and linking domains is still a major ranking signal and has a massive impact on your ranking potential. Run regular link audits to spot any dangerous links early and have them removed in time. To acquire more high-authority links, look at your competitors’ profiles and try to win some of their links for your own site.

Create a workflow

From these search engine algorithm insights we create a workflow of actions, to actively execute your marketing strategy. These actions include: goals, actions, insights and reporting – the tasks that follow are associated with your workflow.

A good strategy starts with goals

When you have a clear idea about where you want to go, it’s easier to get there. Begin your marketing strategy by outlining what you would like to accomplish. Once you pinpoint your goals, set clear objectives for each goal using SMART goal planning and create Goal and Event Tracking within Tag Manager and Analytics.

Develop your buyer’s journey

One of the most important elements in building an SEO marketing strategy is empathy for your audience. Once you grasp what your target market is looking for, you can efectively reach and keep those users. Develop your buyer’s journey, by outlining what your target customer is thinking during: awareness, consideration and decision.

Tree-like structure

Ensure your most important pages are reachable from the homepage and they are arranged in a logical tree-like structure. The names of your URLs also reflect your sites structure and use breadcrumbs to facilitate navigation.

Marketing channels

Understand the First to Last Interaction in line with the buyer journey. What digital touchpoints do your users engage with at each stage? For example, during the awareness stage, what is your customer experiencing as they become aware of a problem they are having? What are their pain points and where do they go?

Keyword analysis and research

Ranking for the right keywords can make or break your website. By researching your market’s keyword demand you can not only learn which terms and phrases to target with SEO, but also learn more about your customers as a whole. It’s not always about getting visitors to your site, but about getting the right kind.

Encourage engagement

After you publish a piece of content, your next goal is to get people to engage with it. People share content from sites they trust, so reach out to your network and establish connections with influencers.

Be findable by search engines

Search engines won’t rank your site unless they can find it. It’s extremely important to make sure search engines are able to discover your site’s content, and that they can do it quickly and easily. Keeping a Logical Site Structure and utilising ‘rel=next and rel=prev’ will help with this greatly.

XML sitemap and RSS feeds

The XML sitemap helps search bots discover and index content on your site. Make sure it’s up to date and added to webmaster tools. RSS feeds are another great way to notify search engines about any fresh content you add to the site.

Master Panda

Google’s Panda ranking algorithm update sifts out pages with thin, non-authentic, low-quality content. Improve content quality by revising your brand messaging, aligning it with the projected path of your business and your target audience. Create useful, expert-level content and present it in the most engaging form possible.

Utilise canonicalisation correctly

Canonicalisation is a way of telling search engines which page should be treated as the primary version when several URLs return virtually the same content. The main purpose of this is to avoid internal content duplication on your site. Mark canonical pages using the rel=canonical attribute.

Improve UX and engagement

UX-related metrics have made their way into Google’s ranking algorithm. For example, site speed, mobile-friendliness and the HTTPS protocol. Striving for greater engagement and higher click-through rates also tends to bring better rankings as well as indirect SEO results in the form of attracted links, shares and mentions.

Earn social signals

Your Google+ posts can make it to Google organic search results, which is a great opportunity to drive extra trafic and gain more real-estate. Attract social links and shares with viral content that is easy to share. Create incentives to get more positive reviews and citations across the web.

Leverage rich answers

A rich answer is a snippet that already contains a brief answer to a search query. It appears above other organic search results and thus enjoys more exposure. Any website has a chance to be selected for the rich answers section. Identify simple questions you might answer on your website to increase your chances.

Make use of schema markup

Schema markup is used to tag entities (people, products, events etc) in your pages and content. Although it does not affect your rankings, it helps search engines better interpret your content and gives you more search engine real-estate. Never a bad thing.

Combat Penguin

Google’s Penguin ranking algorithm update detects artificial backlink patterns and penalises sites that violate its quality guidelines. Keep your backlink profiles looking natural, earned through others quoting, referring to or sharing your content.

Review your local SEO plan

Good marketing does not attempt to reach all people; it’s targeted to connect with a few specific and defined audiences. Capitalise on these audiences locally, by optimising your Google My Business listing (G+) and create incentives to get more positive reviews and citations across the web.

Don’t forget reporting

Measurement is an imperative element of all marketing activity. Ultimately, any report needs to focus on your KPIs. Perform these regularly to gain insights for your next steps and tests; the most common source of trafic information that will help is Google Analytics.

What to look out for?

Consider implementing AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), a Google initiative to build a more user friendly mobile web. Also be prepared for HTTP/2 a new network protocol that should replace the outdated HTTP/1.1. In terms of SEO, you will be able to gain some ranking boost due to the improved website speed.

Keyword research tips

Start by brainstorming your ideal customers search terms and establish a baseline list of keywords by using the free AdWords Keyword Tool. Go that little further by substituting in synonyms by going to thesaurus.com and gain new keyword ideas from Wikipedia articles around your existing keyword list. Take advantage of ubersuggest.io to generate variations. This works by scraping the autofill suggestions Google gives you. Also, spend some time on Quora, as it will highlight how people speak in their niche communities. And don’t forget to look at your competition and utilise Google trends, as it will show how keywords have evolved as a result of factors like seasonality, geographic location and media coverage.

Optimize content for a better ranking

Discover the ten steps that will help you understand what’s required to influence Google rankings within your content

In today’s content-driven world of digital marketing, it is a marketer’s goal to persuade a content-saturated audience to consume their particular content, share that content with their network, or make a purchase.

By the time you have finished reading this tutorial you will have a better understanding of how you can ultimately improve your rankings amongst this competition, boost your visibility and capitalise on the right audience through your content.

Ultimately your content is going nowhere unless people can search for and find it, so content should be written with an understanding of factors such as SEO and aimed at the right audience groups. The steps below will highlight how to drive more tra ic to your site, building a connection between your brand and your audience.

You may be in a crowded field, but you have a lot of opportunity to expand and make the space your own.

Get organized

Creating an editorial calendar enables you to prioritise your content tasks, getting into a cadence with publishing blog posts and social pushes. More importantly, it keeps your audience engaged by preventing your content from stagnating or being repetitive.

Organisation is absolutely crucial for success, although it won’t always be easy to stick to! Start by setting up a calendar, then brainstorm ideas (what questions can you answer, what themes are relevant, how can you inspire). Breakdown your content into social posts, blog posts, onsite copy, referrals, video… and so on. And layer on top of this your promotion, since content rarely succeeds on its own, and plan your frequency (daily, weekly, monthly).

Buyer personas — understand who your audience is

The focus of your content should be aimed at the audience group that contributes to the success of your business. Content will therefore be di erent based upon where the user is along their journey, a first-time visitor for example has no loyalty to the brand; hence the focus should be on inspirational content to convert — content and metas — and brand values to nurture.

Whereas existing clients have a di erent set of priorities and needs, therefore content needs to be served di erently. Nurturing them, encouraging advocacy and facilitating the ability to upsell are the keys in driving both customer satisfaction and further sales.

Learn from the competition

By reviewing the top performing organic content around your targeted keywords, you can take advantage of what works and then replicate it. Understanding the competition’s focus on content and keyword terminology will also help you to close the gap between those terms you are not taking advantage of and ultimately increase the amount of tra ic coming to your own domain.

Make sure you follow the 70%/20%/10% content rule

70 per cent of your content should be specific to your business vertical and services (Hygiene), because your audience needs that information to convert. It’s your day-to-day, always-on messaging; include industry news, reviews and offers.

20 per cent of your content should be inspirational (Hub), in order for your visitors to share it. It aims to develop a shared passion between you and your audience, keeping them coming back for more. You can do that by creating unique content that exceeds your visitors’ expectations — think of inspiring solutions, solving problems and answering the ‘What’ ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of your business, and how it can best serve your visitors.

Ten per cent of your content should be risky enough that it scares you a little (Hero), although it can attract enormous numbers of visitors, and in which you invest a lot of time and e ort. This may be content related to the most important event or product launch of the year.

The content and SEO overlap

An easy way to ensure the success of your content marketing e orts and improve the search ranking of a particular post is to optimise the on-page elements by applying key SEO techniques.

None of your content is going anywhere unless people can search for it and find it, therefore content should be written with an understanding of SEO goals. This includes a healthy solid foundation, content on the website targeting the right keywords and relevancy within the metas, such as: title tags, headers, meta descriptions, image alts and a good URL structure.

With these working together you will be able to rank for the right keywords, with visitors that actively convert since the success of each depends on the other.

Internal links and backlinks

Internal links help search engines identify the site’s most important content, provide context and help your audience by directing them to the most relevant pages. Make the most of anchor text within your links, with variations of your target keywords to boost rankings.

The number of backlinks (incoming links, directed at your website) is another positive indicator to search, in particular websites that carry similar content (topical relevance). Start link building both internally and externally with your best content to improve ranking.

The impact of a blog

Incorporating a blog into a website can have a huge impact on the overall website’s search engine rankings. Not only does it add keyword-rich pages, but it also increases the potential for incoming links from high quality websites, as well as advocacy from your audience as they share that content with their networks.

Aim for original and high quality content, since this will go a long way towards satisfying both the needs of your audience and the search engines.

And remember, given the number of distractions that your audience faces daily, strong headlines are key to encouraging their inspiration to click within a crowded marketplace. You can achieve this by understanding your audience’s pain points — solve their problems in a way that seems tailored to them, and give them both actionable insights and inspiration.

Remember visual content

Visual content — such as images, video and infographics — can be a very powerful tool for any brand looking to communicate more e ectively with its readers; especially since it can have a very positive impact on your brand’s reach, engagement, and sales.

Start by splitting up body text with compelling imagery (include image Alts) to encourage your audience to finish reading and boost your search engine ranking. Info- graphics also help to collate content into compelling and easily intelligible visual displays.

Your site visitors will also expect you to o er video content, show your personality as you connect with them with information that meets their needs.

How-to videos, demonstrations and customer testimonials are all opportunities to consider.

Create a promotion plan

Place a promotion plan behind your best content to improve audience engagement. This includes:

  •  Paid traffic that offers immediate results: Focus on the content synergy between advertising text, landing page copy and SEO metas. This will improve placement, by improving the quality score.
  • Social media that offers great brand awareness: Review your brand guidelines, tone of voice, targeted demographic reach and audience needs and wants.
  •  Influencers who can share your content and increase your outreach to engaged communities: Understand where your audience is and let them know you exist.

Measuring the success of your content is crucial

Assess both the positive and negative metrics within Google Analytics, continually evaluating your content’s appearance in search and how users ultimately interact with it. Build on the positives; learn from the negatives.

This includes ‘Soft’ metrics that are focused on measuring engagement, interaction and brand awareness. Look for bounce rates (high and low), time on page (high and low averages) and page views (in particular, redirection). And ‘Hard’ metrics, such as lead generation, shares, the number of people added to your list, and sales impact. The aim is to continuously learn from each content creation, setting and reviewing goals for each, and remaining agile.

TIP!! Fit content around your keywords

Keywords in your web content make it possible for people to find your site via search engines; they define what your content is about. Ranking for the right keywords can make or break your website, by researching your market’s keyword demand you can learn which terms and phrases to target within your content.

Start by brainstorming your ideal customers search terms and establish a baseline list of keywords with the AdWords Keyword Tool. Go further by substituting in synonyms with Thesaurus.com and gain new keyword ideas from Wikipedia articles around your keyword list. Take advantage of UberSuggest to generate variations, and spend some time on Quora, since it will highlight how people speak in their niche communities.

Deep Learning: Using Algorithms to Make Machines Think

Deep learning is part of the broader family of machine learning methods

Deep learning is part of the broader family of machine learning methods. It was introduced with the objective of moving machine learning closer to its main goal—that of artificial intelligence.

The human brain has evolved over many, many years and is one of our most important organs. The brain perceives every smell, taste, touch, sound and sight. Many decisions are taken by the brain every nano second, without our knowledge.

Having evolved over several thousands of years, the human brain has become a very sophisticated, complex and intelligent machine. What was not possible even as a dream during the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century has become child’s play now in terms of technology. Many adult brains can recognise multiple complex situations and take decisions very, very fast because of this evolution. The brain learns new things very fast now and takes decisions quickly, compared to those taken a few decades ago.

A human now has access to vast amounts of information and processes a huge amount of data, day after day, and is able to digest all of it very quickly.

Our brain is made up of approximately 100 billion nerve

cells, called neurons, which have the amazing ability to gather and transmit electrochemical signals. We can think of them as the gates and wires in a computer. Each of our experiences, senses and various normal functions trigger a lot of neuron based reactions/communications. Figure 1 shows the parts of a basic neuron.

The human brain and its neural network have been the subject of extensive research for the last several years, leading to the development of AI and machine learning technologies. The decade-long dream of building intelligent machines with brains like ours has nally materialised. Many complex problems can be now solved using deep learning techniques and algorithms. The simulation of human brain-like activities is becoming more plausible every moment.

How different is deep learning compared to machine learning

Machine learning was de ned by Arthur Samuel as, “The field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.” This was back in 1959.

In machine learning, computers are taught to solve certain problems with massive lists of rules, and are provided with models. In deep learning, the model
provided can be evaluated with examples and a small
set of instructions to modify it when it makes a mistake. Over time, a suitable model is able to solve the problem extremely accurately. That is why deep learning has become very popular and is catching every one’s eye. In the book ‘Fundamentals of Deep Learning’, the authors Nikhil Buduma and Nicholas Locascio state: “Deep learning is

a subset of a more general eld of arti cial intelligence called machine learning, which is predicated on this idea of learning from example.”

Deep learning explained in detail

According to the free tutorial website computer4everyone. com, “Deep learning is a sub- eld of machine learning concerned with algorithms inspired by the structure and function of the brain called arti cial neural networks.”

Andrew Ng, who formally founded Google Brain, which eventually resulted in the commercialisation of deep learning technologies across a large number of Google services, has spoken and written a lot about deep learning. In his early talks on deep learning, Ng described deep learning in the context of traditional artificial neural networks.

At this point, it would be unfair if I did not mention other experts who have contributed to the eld of deep learning. They include:
ƒ Geoffrey Hinton for restricted Boltzmann machines stacked as deep-belief networks (sometimes he is referred to as the father of machine learning)

  • ƒ  Yann LeCun for convolutional networks (he was a student of Hinton)
  • ƒ  Yoshua Bengio, whose team has developed Theano (an open source solution for deep learning)
  • ƒ  Juergen Schmidhuber, who developed recurrent nets and LSTMs (long short-term memory, which is a recurrent neural network (RNN) architecture)
    According to Andrew Ng, because of the huge volumes of data now available for computation and the recent advances in algorithms, deep learning technology has been adopted across the globe pretty quickly.The potential for applications of deep learning in the modern world is humongous. Application elds include speech synthesis, learning based on past history, facial recognition, self-driving cars, medical sciences, stock predictions, and real estate rate predictions, to name a few.

    Prerequisites to understanding deeplearning technologies

There are a number of discussion forums and blogs on whether one has to know deep mathematics to understand deep learning. In my view, this should be evaluated on a case-to-case basis. Having said that, it is better to know the following if you really want to understand deep learning and are serious about it:

  • The basic functions of neural networks
  • An understanding of the basics of calculus
  • An understanding of matrices, vectors and linear algebra ƒ
  • Algorithms (supervised, unsupervised, online, batch, etc) ƒ
  • Python programming
  • Case-to-case basis mathematical equations

Basics about neural networks

At its core, the neuron is optimised such that it receives information from other neurons and, in parallel, processes this information in a unique way, before sending the outcome (results) to other cells.

Because of the advances mentioned earlier, humans are now able to simulate arti cial neural networks using algorithms and computers. Each of the incoming connections is dynamically strengthened or weakened based on how many times it is used (this is also how humans learn new concepts). After being weighted by the strength of the respective connections, the inputs (Figure 5) are summed together in the cell body. This sum is then transferred to a new signal for other neurons to catch and analyse (this is called propagation along the cell’s axon and sent off to other neurons).

Using mathematical vector forms, this can be represented as follows:

Basics about neural networks

At its core, the neuron is optimised such that it receives information from other neurons and, in parallel, processes this information in a unique way, before sending the outcome (results) to other cells.

Because of the advances mentioned earlier, humans are now able to simulate arti cial neural networks using algorithms and computers. Each of the incoming connections is dynamically strengthened or weakened based on how many times it is used (this is also how humans learn new concepts). After being weighted by the strength of the respective connections, the inputs are summed together in the cell body. This sum is then transferred to a new signal for other neurons to catch and analyse (this is called propagation along the cell’s axon and sent off to other neurons).

Using mathematical vector forms, this can be represented as follows:

Some time back, in 2014, it was observed that a training set with a huge data set in a shallow net, with one fully connected feed-forward hidden layer on the available data, yielded 86 per cent of the test data. But if this same data set was trained in a deeper neural net consisting of a convolutional layer, pooling layer, and three fully-connected feed-forward layers on the same data, 91 per cent accuracy on the same test set was obtained. This 5 per cent increase in accuracy of the deep net over the shallow net occurs because of the following reasons:

a) The deep net has more parameters.
b) The deep net can learn more complex functions, given the same number of parameters.
c) The deep net has better bias and learns more interesting/ useful functions leading to invention and improvement of many algorithms.

A few algorithms

The scope of this article allows me to describe just a
few important algorithms, based on these learnings and improvements. The following are the most used and popular algorithms. They are categorised as training feed-forward neural networks.

Gradient descent: Imagine there is a ball inside a bucket and the goal is to ‘get as low as possible’. This requires optimisation. In this case, the ball is optimising its position (left to right or right to left, based on the condition) to nd the lowest point in the bucket.

The only information available is the slope of the side of the bucket at its current position, pictured with the blue line in Figure 7. Notice that when the slope is negative (downward from left to right), the ball should move to the right. However, when the slope is positive, the ball should move to the left.

The complexity of calculating the slope will become more and more challenging if, instead of a bucket, we have an uneven surface (like the surface of the moon or Mars). Getting the ball to the lowest position in this situation needs a lot of mathematical calculations and also more data sets.

Gradient descent isn’t perfect. There are some solutions around the corner that can help us to overcome these challenges, like:

a) Using multiple random starting states

b)  Increasing the number of possible slopes and considering

more neural networks

c)  Using optimisations like ‘Native Gradient Descent’

d)  Adding and tuning the alpha parameter

Finally, gradient descent that uses non-linearities to solve the above problem is popular. Here, Sigmoidal neurons are used as training neurons.

The back-propagation algorithm: The back-propagation approach was pioneered by David E., Geoffrey Hinton and Ronald J. Sometimes we do not know what the hidden units are doing, but what we can do is compute how fast the error function changes as we change the hidden activity. With this we can nd out how fast the error changes when we change the weight of an individual connection. Using this, we try to nd the steepest descent.

Each hidden unit can affect many output units, and to compute the error derivatives for the activities of the layers below, we have to back-propagate to nd the nearest values;  hence, the name.

Stochastic and mini-batch gradient descent: There are

three variants of gradient descent, which differ in how much data is used to compute the gradient of the objective function. Depending on the amount of data, one has to make a trade-off between the accuracy of the parameter update and the time it takes to perform an update. Instead of a single static error surface, by using a dynamic error surface and by descending on this stochastic surface, the ability to navigate at regions improves signi cantly.

a) Batch gradient descent: Batch gradient descent (also known as Vanilla gradient descent) computes the gradient of the cost function with respect to the parameter θ for the entire training data set:

b) Stochastic gradient descent: Stochastic gradient descent (SGD), in contrast, performs a parameter update for each training example — x(i) and label y(i):

Batch gradient descent performs redundant computations for large data sets, as it recomputes gradients for similar examples before each parameter update. SGD does away with this redundancy by performing one update at a time. It is therefore usually much faster and can also be used to learn online.

c) SGD uctuation: Batch gradient descent converges to the minimum point of the basin the parameters are placed in.
On the one hand, SGD’s uctuation enables it to jump to new and potentially better local minima, but on the other hand, this complicates convergence to the exact minimum, as SGD will keep overshooting. However, it has been shown that when we slowly decrease the learning rate, SGD shows the same convergence behaviour as batch gradient descent, almost certainly converging to a local or the global minimum for non-convex and convex optimisation, respectively.

Benefit from the power of local SEO

Understand what’s required to increase your localised search engine real estate, and push the competition down

If you are a local business that wants to get noticed in search, you have to understand what local SEO is and why it’s so beneficial. Without an understanding of localised SEO, your business will not be able to take advantage of the local online demand for your products or services.

As mobile usage increases so does the importance of local SEO – mobile users tend to search for nearby business on the go and require an instant solution. We can benefit from all that local buying intent, by understanding where the ideal customers are looking and how we can get in front of them.

During this tutorial I will help you to have a better understanding of how you can ultimately improve your local rankings, boost your visibility and how to capitalise on audiences locally.

Google My Business will be a key step in achieving your localised monopoly, as well as high-quality backlinks, citations, optimising your website and creating incentives to get more positive reviews.

It’s worth remembering good marketing does not attempt to reach all people. It’s targeted to connect with a few specific and defined audiences – in our case, local people with immediate needs and a stronger intent.

Be mobile friendly

If your page isn’t optimised for mobile devices, it’s likely to be penalised or discarded from mobile results altogether. As the majority of local customers will use a mobile device to search for nearby businesses, it’s crucial to ensure your website is mobile friendly. Take the test at:

https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly.

Rank for the right keywords

Ranking for the right local keywords can make or break a website. By researching your market’s keyword demand you can not only learn which terms and phrases to target, but also learn more about your audience as a whole. It’s not always about getting visitors to your site, but about getting the right kind that converts. Head over to the Google Keyword planner to get started:

https://adwords.google.com/intl/da_dk/home/tools/keyword-planner/

On-Page SEO is an absolute must

This includes a healthy solid foundation, content on the website, metas such as title tags, headers, meta descriptions, image alts and a good URL structure. It’s also the perfect opportunity to include location, product and service terms within these metas and a reason to choose you.

Target authoritative websites

A localised SEO strategy will always target high quality backlinks and citations from authoritative websites. The more backlinks and citations a local business website has across the web, the better positioned that website is to gain higher search engine rankings and expand its overall reach. Let’s break this down further.

Gain citations

Are mentions of your business name, address and phone number on other webpages? The di erence with a citation and a backlink is the citation may not link back, but it will mention your NAP. Being consistent is therefore imperative. Opportunities include localised and industry directories, blogs, exhibitions, shows and awards.

Good-quality backlinks

The number of backlinks and linking domains is still a major ranking signal and has a massive impact on your local ranking potential. Claim your local business listings, and add yourself to local directories. Tip – look at your competitors’ profiles, using sites such www.semrush.com/features/backlinks and win some of theirs for your own site.

Consistency is key

Be consistent with your localised information as Google doesn’t like contradictions and you want to avoid customer confusion. Ensure your website, backlinks and citations show the same information as you entered into your Google My Business page.

Make the most of anchors

Anchor text can make a real di erence, in particular in competitive local niches. Make the most of these by adding your product or service and its location. Give the search engines a steer to understand what keywords describe your webpage. A ‘co ee shop in Westbourne’, would be getting backlinks with anchor text: ‘Co ee shop in Westbourne’.

Perform competitor analysis

A competitive analysis is a critical part of any localised marketing plan. Having an insight into what your local competitors are doing can detail what is working well for them and how you can capitalise on it. Add yourself to their email newsletters, social platforms and setup Google Alerts from here: www.google.co.uk/alerts.

Google My Business

One out of every three searches on mobile is related to a location. Google My Business (previously known as Google Places) focuses on delivering localised results to these users. People want to get in touch with you easily, and those who aren’t already customers want information about your product or service. Google My Business is therefore an absolute must to boost your visibility.

The Local Map Pack

Part of setting up Google My Business is the Local Map Pack. These results (now limited to three) appear above all organic results, giving local businesses an edge over natural results. You just have to claim and optimise your free business listing – without it you won’t appear on the local map listings in the SERPs.

GMB setup

Start by going to www.google.com/business, and add all the necessary business information, such as name, address, business category and phone number. Optimise it further with compelling images, business hours, a description and reviews. Authorise the setup and wait for your Google postcard to arrive. This verification process enables Google to confirm that your business is legitimate. You then simply login and enter your PIN to verify your business listing.

Online reviews matter

Focus on actively gaining, monitoring and responding to your reviews in all social platforms, in particular Google My Business as these show up in Google when searching for your business. Consumers are actively using these scores more than ever in their decision-making process. Encourage users by giving them a link to leave a review. Go to

https://developers.google.com/places/place-id

Bully the page with AdWords

Take advantage of paid placements, to increase your overall Click Through Rate. You have the ability to advertise locally by targeting user location and localised terminology, attracting local customers with the products and services they are searching for. Bully the page and push the competition down.

Earn social signals

Your Google+ posts can make it into Google organic search results, which is a great opportunity to drive extra tra ic and add more real-estate. Attract social links and shares with viral content that is easy to share. Create incentives to get more positive reviews and citations across the web.

Voice search is too good to miss

An exciting opportunity for local businesses and marketers to increase conversion is through voice search. It’s actively shaping the future of local SEO, as it’s rapidly becoming the way customers will find you. Creating pages that are FAQ based or consist of long tail keyword content, will help you take advantage

Voice search tips

ComScore estimates that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be by voice. If you want your website to be found by voice search, it should be mobile friendly. Creating mobile- friendly pages and content that loads quickly is imperative. Test yours at https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/. People talk di erently than they type, so inevitably tail keyword phrases will be longer. Ask yourself the questions your audience may have, in particular their immediate needs and address them. Voice search also recognises ‘Near Me’ searches and turns to Google My Business listings to populate the results. Take advantage of users looking for physical businesses, by ensuring your account is up to date.

Make the most of Bing

The savvy marketer will capitalise on all tra ic sources, in particular if your audience is of an older demographic. If so Bing Places for business and Bing Ads are an absolute must, as those not familiar with the web will keep Bing as the primary search engine and not install Chrome. Capitalize on where your demographic is!

Add Schema real estate

Schema markup is used to tag entities in your pages and content; this includes products you sell and services you o er, making it easier for search engines to understand who you are and what you do. Add this to your HTML, via the Data Highlighter in Search Console and improve the way your pages are represented in SERPs.

Leverage rich answers

A rich answer is a snippet that contains a brief answer to a search query. It appears above other organic search results and thus enjoys more exposure. Simply identify simple questions you might answer on your website (such as FAQs) to increase your chances.

Keyword rich domains

Strike a balance between a brand-friendly and localised, keyword-rich domain. Localised keywords shouldn’t be the primary factor you consider when choosing a domain. Be memorable and sound authoritative.

Boost Business Productivity

It is worthwhile for every business to investigate

It is worthwhile for every business to investigate how best it can leverage the power of open source software to reduce expenses and increase revenues. This article takes a quick look at some of the key open source software that can help an organisation to perform well.

Businesses that restrict themselves to proprietary software like Microsoft Of ce get a raw deal. Not only do they have to pay for the software but they have to factor in the cost incurred every time the software becomes corrupt. This includes the fee to be paid to the computer technician to re-install the software. All this creates a vicious cycle, where costs and delays keep mounting. It should be the primary aim of every business to develop a system that automates maintenance to the maximum possible extent.

This is where open source software like LibreOf ce, Apache OpenOf ce, Scribus, GIMP, Inkscape, Firefox, Thunderbird, WordPress, VLC media player, etc, come in. My company, MultiSpectra Consultants, uses open
source software to the maximum possible extent, thereby streamlining business processes. It makes updating the software and its maintenance very easy. The required software can be freely downloaded from the Internet and updates can also be applied by simply downloading the latest version of the relevant software.

With free and open source software (FOSS) anyone is freely licensed to use, copy, study and change the software in any way, and the source code is openly shared so that people are encouraged to voluntarily improve the design of the software. This is in contrast to proprietary software, for which the software is under restrictive copyright and the source code is usually hidden from the users. The bene ts of using FOSS include lower software costs, higher security and stability (especially with regard to malware), better privacy protection and more control over the hardware.

So let’s take a brief look at some of the key open source software.

LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice

These are two actively developed forks of OpenOf ce.org, which is no longer being developed. LibreOf ce is being developed by The Document Foundation. The centralised launch centre of LibreOf ce for all its modules is a very useful feature. LibreOf ce was forked from OpenOffice in 2010. Its suite comprises programs for word processing, the creation and editing of spreadsheets, slideshows, diagrams and drawings, working with databases, and composing mathematical formulae. It is available in 110 languages. LibreOf ce uses the OpenDocument le format (odf) as its native format to save documents for all of its applications. It also supports the le formats of most other major of ce suites, including Microsoft Of ce, through a variety of import/export lters. LibreOf ce is available for Microsoft Windows, Linux and Mac OS. A LibreOf ce Viewer for Android devices is also available.

LibreOf ce and Apache OpenOf ce have similar modules called by the same names — Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base. A key advantage that LibreOf ce has over Apache OpenOf ce is the ability to save documents in the docx format. Although Apache OpenOf ce can read docx documents, it cannot save documents in this format. A brief overview of the modules of LibreOf ce follows.

LibreOf ce Writer: This is a word processor with similar functionality as, and le support for, Microsoft Word or WordPerfect. It has extensive WYSIWYG word processing capabilities but can also be used as a basic text editor.

LibreOf ce Calc: This is a spreadsheet program, similar to Microsoft Excel or Lotus 1-2-3. It has a number of unique features including a system that automatically de nes a series of graphs based on information available to the user.

LibreOf ce Impress: This is a presentation program resembling Microsoft PowerPoint. Presentations can be exported as swf les, allowing them to be viewed on any computer with Adobe Flash Player installed.

LibreOf ce Draw: This is a vector graphics editor and diagramming tool similar to Microsoft Visio and comparable in features to early versions of CorelDraw. It provides connectors between shapes which are available in a range of line styles, and facilitates drawings such as owcharts. It also includes features similar to desktop publishing software such as Scribus and Microsoft Publisher. It can also act as a PDF le editor.

LibreOf ce Math: This is an application designed for creating and editing mathematical formulae. It uses a variant of XML for creating formulae, as de ned in the OpenDocument speci cation. These formulae can be incorporated into other documents in the LibreOf ce suite, such as those created by Writer or Calc, by embedding them into the document.

LibreOf ce Base: This is a database management program similar to Microsoft Access. LibreOf ce Base allows the creation and management of databases, and preparation of forms and reports that provide end users easy access to data.

Wikipedia reports that a detailed 60-page report in June 2015 compared the progress of the LibreOf ce project with its cousin Apache OpenOf ce. It showed that, “Apache OpenOf ce received about 10 per cent of the improvements LibreOf ce did in the period of time studied.”

Scribus

Scribus is a desktop publishing (DTP) application and is free software. It is available for Microsoft Windows, Linux and Mac OS. Scribus is designed for layouts and typesetting, and prepares les for professional-quality image-setting equipment. It can also create animated and interactive

PDF presentations and forms. It is used in the design of newspapers, brochures, newsletters, posters and books.

GIMP

The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is a free and open source raster graphics editor used for image retouching and editing, free-form drawing, resizing, cropping, photo-montages, conversion to different image formats and more specialised tasks. It is the open source equivalent of Adobe Photoshop. GIMP is available for Microsoft Windows, Linux and Mac OS.

GIMP has been primarily developed by volunteers as a free software project, and is associated with both the GNU and GNOME projects. The version number used in GIMP is expressed in a major-minor-micro format, with each number carrying a speci c meaning. The rst (major) number is incremented only for major developments (and is currently 2). The second (minor) number is incremented with each release of new features, with odd numbers reserved for in- progress development versions and even numbers assigned to stable releases. The third (micro) number is incremented before and after each release (resulting in even numbers
for releases and odd numbers for development snapshots), with any bug xes subsequently applied and released for a stable version. The user interface of GIMP is designed by a dedicated design and usability team.

GIMP is presented in two forms — single window mode and multiple window mode. GIMP 2.8 defaults to the multiple window mode, in which a set of windows contains all GIMP’s functionality. By default, tools and tool settings are on the left and other dialogue boxes are on the right. A layers tab is often to the right of the tools tab and allows a user to work on separate image layers, individually. Layers can be edited by right-clicking on a particular one to bring up edit options for that layer. The tools tab and layers
tab are the most common dockable tabs.

The current version of GIMP works with various operating systems including Microsoft Windows, Linux and Mac OS. Many Linux distributions have GIMP as a part of their desktop operating systems, including Fedora and Debian.

Inkscape

Inkscape is a free and open source vector graphics editor. It can be used to create or edit vector graphics such as illustrations, diagrams, line arts, charts, logos and complex paintings. Inkscape’s primary vector graphics format is Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG); however, many other formats can be imported and exported. Inkscape can render primitive vector shapes (e.g., rectangles, ellipses, polygons, arcs, spirals, stars and 3D boxes) and text. These objects may be lled with solid colours, patterns, radial or linear colour gradients and their borders may be stroked, both with adjustable transparency. Embedding and optional tracing of raster graphics is also supported, enabling the editor to create vector graphics from photos and other raster sources. Created shapes can be further manipulated with transformations, such as moving, rotating, scaling and skewing.

Firefox

Mozilla Firefox (or simply Firefox) is a free and open source Web browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation. Firefox is available
for Microsoft Windows, Linux and Mac operating systems. Firefox for Android is available for Android (formerly Firefox for Mobile, it also ran on the discontinued Firefox OS). Features include tabbed browsing, spell checking, incremental nd and live bookmarking. Smart bookmarks, a download manager, private browsing and location-aware browsing are also available.

Firefox can have themes added to it so that users can experience it in a more personal way. There are websites where users can create and download personalised themes with their choice of colours and images. However, Mozilla has announced its intention to discontinue Firefox themes. The Firefox add-on website also allows users to add games, ad-blockers, screenshot apps, and many other useful applications.

Firefox was the browser that challenged Internet Explorer’s monopoly in the rst decade of this century, but has since lost momentum and the most popular browser
in the world now is Google Chrome.

Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird or Thunderbird is a free, open source, cross-platform email, news, RSS and chat client developed by the Mozilla Foundation. The project strategy was modelled after that of the Mozilla Firefox Web browser.

WordPress

WordPress is a free and open source content management system (CMS) based on PHP and MySQL. WordPress is installed on a Web server which either is part of an Internet hosting service or is a network host itself; the rst case may be on a service like WordPress.com, for example, and the second case is a computer running the software package WordPress.org. An example of the second case is a local computer con gured to act as its own Web server hosting WordPress for single-user testing or learning purposes. Features include a plugin architecture and a template system. WordPress was used by more than 26.4 per cent of the top 10 million websites as of April 2016. It is reportedly the easiest and most popular website management or blogging system in use on the Web, and supports more than 60 million websites. It has a Web template system that uses a template processor.

WordPress users may install and switch between different themes, allowing users to change the look and functionality of a WordPress website; these can be installed without altering the content or health of the site. Every WordPress website requires at least one theme, and each one should be designed using WordPress standards with structured PHP, valid HTML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).

WordPress is the blogging platform of choice for businesses along with Google’s Blogger. Blogging is also possible on Medium, Weebly and LinkedIn. A business aiming to gain visibility by blogging must have a presence on each of these platforms.

VLC media player

VLC media player is free and open source. It is a multimedia framework written by the VideoLAN project. VLC is a portable multimedia player, encoder and streamer supporting many audio and video codecs and le formats as well as DVDs, VCDs and various streaming protocols. It is able to stream over networks and to transcode multimedia les, and save them in various formats. VLC used to stand for VideoLAN Client but, since VLC is no longer simply a client, that no longer applies. VLC media player is available for Microsoft Windows, Linux and Mac OS. VLC is also available for Android devices. The default distribution of VLC includes a large number of free decoding and encoding libraries avoiding the need for nding/calibrating proprietary plugins. A key point in favour of VLC is its ability to play virtually every video and audio codec (note the inability of Windows Media Player to play the amr audio codec).

While open source software can be obtained free, there are also some issues involved when using these. One is the frequency of updates, which depends solely on the developers. Frequent updates are preferred so that the software remains useful. Another issue is the stability of the software. Business critical software must be stable and bug-free. Compatibility with proprietary software used by business partners is another issue. A company must be able to open a document sent by a business partner who uses proprietary software.

My company has developed what it calls the MultiSpectra OS. This basically consists of Ubuntu Linux with LibreOf ce, Scribus, GIMP, Inkscape, Firefox, Thunderbird and VLC media player.