SEO Ranking Factors that Business Owners Should Actually Care About Local Search Engine Optimization

There has been lots of talk over the past year or so about ranking factor studies.  While has been famous for their bi-yearly SEO ranking factors study and survey, we’ve also seen players like Ahrefs, SEMRush and Backlinko come out with their own large scale, million+ data point studies on what factors correlate to the highest rankings in Search Engines.

This is no doubt a great source of data and insight, as well as a technical feat that should be admired.  However, if you aren’t careful, it could become a distraction to what is a true effective method for ranking websites.

Sometimes it’s best to keep things simple, and a list of 50+ different factors, with varying (perhaps conflicting) degrees of correlation among studies isn’t a great place to start if you are just beginning with SEO, or just trying to build or grow your local business’ web presence.

So, what exactly should a business owner or beginner SEO focus on?  Over the years I’ve worked on launching dozens of local business websites, and I’ve come to realize that certain key factors should be the focus, while others can be ignored without too much concern.  We’ll go into those below…

Content is Important, but be Reasonable

A main point I want to make in this post is that there are big differences between types of websites, both in what they want to accomplish and what tactics/strategies are effective and achieving those goals.

Content is a good differentiating factor between large scale sites and smaller local sites.  For the large website, content transcends a “ranking factor” and becomes a specific tactical aspect of growing traffic.  Targeting lots of longer tail keywords while leverage domain authority, gaining passive backlinks and funneling potential customers into their experience.

Sounds great, right? It is, but it’s not applicable to every situation, particularly a local business hoping to gain customers in their metro area.  Ranking for things like “fixing a cracked pvc pipe” is great, but of the 20 people that search for that term every month, probably none are your target customer.

Instead, first focus on content such as this:

  • Company and service descriptions that focus on user need and conversion rate optimization rather than worrying about spiders.
  • FAQ pages that are thorough and speak to actual user questions.
  • About page that gives history of company and personalizes the staff.
  • Custom reviews and case studies.

Also unnecessary: Dumping out 2,000 words on your sites homepage.  It’s not natural.  Keep it to around 500 words and relevant content and you’ll be fine.

All these pieces of content share something in common, they give you that lovely “word count” that SEOs love to tout, hits all the relevant keywords and “LSI”, but also achieves legitimate user needs.

NOTE: At some point if you’d like to start a more robust content marketing strategy, have at it!  My only point is that the most effective use of resources when starting out is to focus on these much more relevant and useful pieces of content.

Keyword Research, Title Tags and URLs

I’ll say it again and again, keyword research is the backbone of any SEO initiative.   Proper keyword research into the keywords of your target customer is where the money is at (literally).  You simply need to pair this will some standard on-page optimization to take full advantage.

Here I’ll focus on just a few ranking factors that will do almost all the heavy lifting when it comes to on-page ranking factors:


A Keyword rich URL is probably the #1 onpage ranking factor nowadays.  I personally believe it has eclipsed the title tag in terms importance, and thanks to WordPress permalinks, it’s just as customizable as any other part of your content.

In local services, you really don’t have to get too creative (like you might with long form articles).  Just peak at any local SERP, you’ll probably see the same URL slug in all the results (and that’s because it works).

Dump in the target keyword in your URL, and move on.

Title Tags

Title tags are the next most important factor.  This is especially important for your homepage, since you can’t get that URL keyword relevance (unless, of course, your company name has some keyword love in it).

In these situations, I try to squeeze 3 keyword variants into a natural sentence, with my brand name at either the beginning or end.

H1-H3 Tags

Next up are the H1 Tags.  While these won’t move the needle like title tags or URL keywords, they definitely help to craft the content.  What I like to do is find different categories within the keyword research (sub-niches within the niche), and make header tags for each of those.  It creates a nice semantic package to the page.

Links, Links, Links

Ah, Links.  It always comes back to links.  For good reason, too.  Anyone can put together a nicely optimized website (they don’t, but they could).  How Google tells the difference between the good, bad and ugly is largely with backlinks.

So what backlinks should local businesses focus on?  Well, it’s important to realize that local businesses don’t generally attract high powered links from large authority sites.  This is a good thing, because it means that you can succeed more moderate approaches.

Some great sources for links:

  • High quality, local directories (Yelp, Manta, etc). Make sure they are indexed!
  • Local organizations, chamber of commerce.
  • Partner and vendor websites (tend to be other local businesses).
  • Local newspapers.
  • High quality Press Releases (Be Newsworthy!)

If you get after all of these opportunities you will likely be ahead of your competition already.

People practice SEO in all manner of ways.  There is not a singular answer to how to approach ranking a website, but what I’ve hoped to accomplish here is to simplify things a bit for the local business owner or local SEO.

With 200+ ranking factors and almost that many opinions on what to do, sometimes it’s better to remove the chaff and narrow the focus.  Following these 3 general buckets, you’ll likely start to outperform your local competitors.  No need to worry about all the other noise…

Michael Hayes is a veteran SEO and owner of Darby Hayes Consulting, an SEO and PPC agency based in New York City.  He thinks Twitter is elitist so you should just email him at mike (at)

How to Optimize Your Pay Per Click Advertising Campaigns Pay Per Click Management

Don’t let your Pay-Per-Click advertising campaigns fall by the wayside this summer. Rather than ignore your online business efforts because sales might be slipping, use the time to increase your optimization and work on things you wouldn’t normally have time for. Optimizing your PPC ads can add up to significant returns in the long run, but who even has the time for that? Enter summer. The time of year that most people are on vacation, business slows down, and shop owners of all shapes and sizes start dreaming of the holiday season. Be ready well in advance this year by learning how to optimize your PPC ad campaign this summer or hire a PPC Agency to get the job done for you.

Take Advantage of Downtime

A good rule of thumb for any business owner is always to show up like you have work to do. This is especially important for home-based businesses that operate online, or small business owners that offer consulting services or sell products online. Just because there is no actual exchange of money taking place all the time does not mean that you do not have to continue to build your business. While some people might tap out and head to the beach for some lazy afternoons of summer, you will be using your downtime to gear up for the busy fall season. Take advantage of quiet afternoons to increase account optimization, plan your ads for the fall and holidays, and learn to use some new features of Google AdWords while you are at it.

Increase Account Optimization

There are a number of things you can do to help your Google AdWords’ account function more seamlessly. Optimization is one way to improve your posting time and ad creating time. Incorporating advertising extensions automatically is one way to save yourself time and effort. This feature allows Google to automatically place an extension on your ads so that they are more robust and take up more space online, which can increase the performance of the ad overall.

Use the Preview Function

When you find yourself with some time to spare this summer, plan and create your ads for the next few months. You can use your preview function to see how your ads are going to look, make changes to them on the fly, and integrate a whole marketing plan based on your ad creation for further expansion of your marketing efforts.

Always Use the Location Feature

Another good habit to get into is always to use the location feature in your Google AdWords. Using the location feature allows you to target or dismiss people living in certain areas and this can increase clicks exponentially.

While no one thing alone will create massive change, using your downtime to learn about the moving parts of Google AdWords can really make a difference in the long run for you. If you always find yourself saying you don’t have time to post your ads, try using automation for some features to save yourself time; create a marketing plan that is based off your AdWords, and always use the location feature. These can add up to results fast.

What to Expect After You Hire an SEO Company Austin

When a local business owner hires an SEO company for the first time they often don’t know what to expect.  I often get a phone call from the client about one to two weeks into a new SEO campaign and they are wondering when they will see the benefits.  When I first sign up a new client I am very clear that Organic SEO does take some time.  In fact an SEO campaign can take months before a business can see the benefits.  All things in Google are not fast and you don’t want them to be fast or you will have other issues that can wreck your domain.  You want your SEO campaign to be nice and steady but never super fast.

In the beginning of a campaign often the business owner won’t get a lot of phone calls quickly.  This is just the nature of the game.  I am completely up front about the amount of work that goes into a good campaign and I am also transparent about the amount of time before the client can hear the results by the phone ringing.  An organic SEO campagin is for the long haul and long term results.  The short term results you want to look at a Pay Per Click campaign.  I like to combine PPC with organic SEO for the best results for the client.  The pay per click will get the phone ringing quickly but the organic campaign will build trust and authority into the client’s site providing long term results.

Every business is different in what they can afford in their marketing budgets but its important that the business have a marketing budget that will allow for online marketing.  If your company isn’t online or if no one can find your website while searching terms that pertain to your services then you are not visible online.  Austin SEO Company Ysais SEO, offers different plans for different levels of marketing.  You can call today and ask for a free SEO consultation and work out a plan that is right for your business.  The best way to approach online marketing if possible is with a combination plan that allows the best of both worlds.  Not every business can afford to use the combination plan so it all depends on the amount of marketing budget the business has set aside for online marketing.  SEO campagins are important so most businesses should think about their budget and how much return they would like to see.  If you budget to low and it doesn’t bring in enough clients then you may consider increasing your budget.  Each industry is different and no two campaigns are the same.

Learn more about our services by clicking on the above link.  You can call us today at (512)657-8773 or fill out our form on the Contact Us page.

Ysais SEO

Austin, TX

Bring New Customers with Pay Per Click Pay Per Click Management

As my standard if possible I like to combine pay per click campaigns with an organic SEO campaign.  If your business can afford the marketing budget to combine the two campaigns you often receive the best of both worlds.  What do I mean by that?

A pay per click or PPC campaign can be created rather quickly.  It does take a few months of setting up and optimizing the account before you get the best outcome possible.  Once we have achieved our goals we have the option of increasing the campaign ad budget or staying the same depending on your company needs.  Often we advise to not only start with a Pay per click campaign but we also recommend an organic SEO campaign.

Pay Per click or PPC is for short term outcome while Organic SEO is more for the long term.  Organic SEO is something that stays around much longer and can be maintained by your SEO company.  A ppc campaign always needs to be managed by your SEO firm and you can stop the campaign at any time.  However, with PPC once you stop the leads will stop coming in.  If you combine both you see the leads faster while we work on your organic SEO for the long term.

If you have a current Pay Per Click Austin campaign give us a call and we can tell you if it is performing as well as it should be!  We are the Pay Per Click Management Experts.

Ysais SEO, Pay Per Click, (512)657-8773

Google Hawk Update SEO News Local Search Engine Optimization

August 22, 2017 Google has a Haw swoop out and made a swift in Local searches.  The Hawk update was only direct at local services so you won’t see this update for searches with out local intent.  We are still learning about the update and gathering information but this is what we know so far.

There is a filter that Google deployed to make sure one company doesn’t monopolize the entire first page of the SERPS.  The filter was changed and updated by a Google update called Possum (yes, they love all things animal!) and  instead of only filtering out a listing that shares the same phone number Google started filtering locations that were located next to each other.  I am sure at the time in the think tank this seemed like a great idea and Google made the filtering changes.  But we all quickly learned that if a business was located next to another business or in the same building as the other business and the two businesses were in the same industry one of the businesses would be filtered out.

There are many businesses in the same industry that are located in the same building or next to the same type of business.  This new filter began to cause a lot of problems and quickly everyone realized this filter wasn’t the best idea after all.  Google had the Hawk swoop in and change the filtering to make it a little less problematic.  If you are close to another company that is in your same industry you should not be filtered out any more.  But if you are located in the same building you are still going to continue to have the filtering problem.  While this change helps with some of the issues there are still problems if you are located 40 to 50 feet away from a competitor.  Think about how many hotels we see packed tightly next to each other!

With continued feedback Google will continue to make adjustments and your SEO Expert will continue to work on any issues you may have with any of the Google updates.

For more information on how you can grow your local business give Ysais SEO a call today.

Ysais SEO Services

Austin, Texas