BIM: Well, I certainly see it all over the place in Atlanta. So, talk to me about the links to the website. I know the map is location-based, how important are the actual quality of links and the content on the website to actually rank on the map?
Adam Vest: Sure. And, you know, I think those are two of the most important things that you can do for search engine optimization would be, other than having clean code on the website would be having fantastic content that’s not built for the search engines, but that’s actually built for consumption. And then, on the same token, having high-quality backlinks is one of the most important factors in determining your ranking. So, there can be a client with a backlink profile of over a thousand backlinks or 50,000 backlinks and then you can have a client with a handful of backlinks that are very high quality and that handful of backlinks will actually get that client to rank higher than having thousands and thousands of junk backlinks, broken links, things like that.
BIM: What exactly does high quality back look like?
Adam Vest: Well, what we like to say, domain authority is not necessarily a term that Google uses, but I think everybody in the industry kind of knows that they still look at page rank. They still look at DA. We kind of have a cut off when it comes to who we will backlink to. So, your site needs to have authority in order for us to link our clients to your site. And I think at the end of the day, a lot of those relationships are developed over time. So, having the right relationships with website owners, with business owners all around the country and especially here locally is very important because there are a lot of websites that have a very low domain authority score. You know, if you’re looking at Moz or, or one of these tools that still does show the DA Score, generally speaking, we have a threshold that we’re not going to go under as far as linking to their site.
BIM: And if you get a link from a good quality trusted site with a high domain authority and it’s relevant to your business, is there any backend SEO you could do pointing to that link?
Adam Vest: Well, you can certainly link out to whoever was kind enough to link to you in the first place. What we’ve found generally what’s generating these high-quality backlinks is great content and I think focusing on the content is extremely important in 2018. That was not always the case, but, the crawlers over at Google are getting smarter and smarter by the minute and they understand great content versus average content versus bad content. I think at this point having a great content development team is critical to the success of any agency and the success of any business owner as well.
BIM: And of course then there’s mobile, and especially since we’re talking about local a lot here, mobile seems to be extremely important for local searches. How is that having an effect on the search result?
Adam Vest: Mobile has revolutionized the industry. If you remember back to the days you know, not that long ago, we didn’t have cell phones. So now, we have these little computers in our pocket that can pretty much do anything that we need them to do as far as finding information. So, we’re seeing the majority of the searches come in on mobile devices, whether that’s an iPad or a tablet or a cell phone, whatever the case and optimizing for mobile now is an absolute necessity. Google gives you a significant ding if your site is not mobile optimized. With that being said, you can still have a website that’s mobile optimized and still not going to convert. So it’s important to pay attention to both the desktop and the mobile versions of your site if you really want to achieve the goals that you’ve set out to achieve with your online presence.
BIM: So when you have a new client coming in to see you, Adam, what’s the first thing that you do to explain all these things to them?
Adam Vest: Initially we’ll sit down with a client, and all of the packages that we offer are a tailor-made to each individual client. So, I think listening is really one of the most important things that we can do to start the relationship off on the right foot. And it really also helps to build trust when a client or a customer knows that they’re not just another number within your agency, but you actually take the time to get to know their business. That’s very powerful. So, initially, we’ll spend a significant amount of time doing keyword research for each client. But over time, we’ve been around for over three years now, so we’re starting to kind of see the same keywords over and over again for different industries. However, there are what’s called a long tail keyword that long tail keywords which are becoming more and more prevalent. So, because of that voice capability, the voice search capability, long tail keywords are important to optimize for as well. It’s going more and more in that direction. There’s just no getting around it when you have voice connected devices all around you, Siri, Alexa, Google, it’s extremely important to optimize your site for those long tail keywords that are going to get you found with some of these mobile devices.
BIM: So, how do you find these long tail keywords and what kind of content do you have to generate to make them rank?
Adam Vest: Well, as you said, it’s generating content and the way that we specifically find these long tail keywords is based on the industry. We’ll come up with 50 keywords that we’re targeting, and we’ll track those 50 keywords. A lot of agencies will track three, five, 10 keywords at a time. We like to track at least 50. The more, the better as far as we’re concerned. And what we do is based on the volume, based on our different analytics tools, we’re able to kind of see exactly how many searches are being done. It always surprises me to see some of these long tail keywords that people are using their voice to search for it. But, optimizing for them is critical these days and one of the ways that we’ll actually go about finding them and I think a lot of people miss this is to actually just start to search Google for that industry in the form of a question and what will end up happening is you’ll see a list of quite a few of the most common long tail keywords that you have to choose from.