In the past, most local businesses never thought they could compete with major companies.  The marketing budget needed to really make a similar impact was usually way out of their capabilities.  However, with Google’s latest updates, it’s looking like the smaller business has a much better chance of staying within the public’s eyes.

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Today Google’s made a major change in Google Places (known to many as Google Maps).  The 7-box is no longer a separate entity, but is now merged with the full organic results.  This is a game-changer for SEO.

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You may have heard about this, but Bing and Facebook have joined forces, and now Bing is going to start displaying results based on Facebook posts.

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This is pretty big news.  Google’s just released (on 9/9/10) a new site, called the Google AdWords Small Business Center.  This is a site dedicated to helping people learn more about how to use AdWords or how to improve existing accounts.

There are several lessons here, with tips and even a link to the AdWords Beginners’ Guide.  It looks to be a good place for people to learn about AdWords, although the site by itself doesn’t appear to be fully comprehensive.  However, they do include links to other pages, including a link that allows you to search for an AdWords Pro (such as myself, yes, I am an AdWords Pro) to help take care of all of the work involved in managing your AdWords account.

At any rate – if you’re having trouble with your AdWords account in any way, I recommend checking out Google’s new Small Business Center.  It might give you the help you’re looking for.

As most everyone has noticed by this point, Google Instant is now live.  Searches provide results real-time, making the things you’re searching for appear more quickly, and in some cases, allowing searchers to find other results they may not otherwise have discovered.  There is a lot of speculation out there on how this will affect SEO.

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This was something that had been coming, but it was unknown exactly when the date would be.  Yahoo and Microsoft have made an alliance.  It’s called the “Search Alliance”.  Originally it was intended as a unification for paid advertisements, but it’s clear now that the unification is for both paid and organic listings; do a search on both Yahoo and Bing for a keyword phrase, and the results are now identical.

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I’ve been taking a look at some of my competition lately and seeing their bragging about achieving first page ranking for keywords, and in some cases top position ranking for keywords.  Well, for people who are looking to get SEO services from a company or an individual, be sure to keep some things in mind before being impressed by achievements such as these.

There’s a good list of things to double check (or to ask) when you see rankings like this in a portfolio:

  1. How many results do you get for that keyword in the search engine? If you do a search in Google and get under 200,000 listings, there’s a good chance it’s very easy to rank for that keyword.  There are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, if no one’s competing for the keyword, it’s easy to rank for.  But again – if no one’s competing for the keyword, chances are it’s not worth ranking for.  We’ve got a few clients with keywords that are ranked on the first page that have search results numbering over 6,000,000.
  2. What kind of traffic does that keyword get? There are different ways to learn about this, but you should see if the keywords that are being ranked highly actually get good traffic.  You may have a number one position, but if it only gets two searches a month – is it really something that’s worth it?  As always, there are exceptions to this rule (if you can close on one of those two searches and it’s worth six figures, that’d be worth it), but usually getting no traffic means the keyword is not worth as much.
  3. What other keywords are ranked for that site? So they have shown a single keyword phrase for their SEO’d site.  Is it the only one that’s ranked?  A good SEO should be able to rank highly for multiple keywords.  Ideally, multiple targeted keywords.
  4. Is the SEO company’s site ranking for keywords? If the company claims to do SEO, it would make sense that they would rank for keywords themselves, correct?  If you ask and they can show no good results for their own site in the search engines, be very cautious about trusting them with your own site.

When you hire someone for SEO work, they should be able to provide information on what keywords they are targeting and show you the results that it’s bringing.  Having a particular ranking is worth nothing if you don’t see results from that position in the search engine listings.  Check this list to see what those results are really worth, and if it’s good SEO or just easy SEO to put something into a portfolio.

Nothing really new here, but sometimes it’s good to see what the big guns think about search engine optimization.  Does Google approve of SEO?  Do they have an opinion on it?  Good?  Bad?

Well, they most certainly have an opinion on it.  In fact, they even offer solid advice to anyone interested on the Google SEO page (a page with guidelines, within the Webmaster Tools pages).

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It’s always nice to have SEO experts and pros answer some of the major questions any SEO might have.  It appears that someone has done just that.  Outspoken Media snagged a number of fairly big SEO experts and asked some great questions, in particular about link building.

It’s pretty lengthy, so in the words of the poster, grab a nice cup o’ joe and sit down to read through this set of jewels.  There are plenty of SEO questions to see answered.

Guest blogs are a new area of content creation becoming more prevalent in the blogsphere nowadays.  Is this something that is good for SEO?  Or is it worthless for link building?

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