Google's Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, indirectly reinforced your need for industry-specific SEO during a recent Webmaster Central, contradicting a previous (Oct. 2, 2018) denial of differing algorithms for various industries. John said Google,
“…doesn't think about it that way; they look from the query – not the industry – but they’re related”.
The idea that rank factors have different weightings for domain types or business categories should not be news, but in case it is, here are some considerations, pointers, and gotchas.
Local Businesses, Service-Area Businesses
The first types of businesses we'll discuss are local and service-area businesses.
- Delivery Services.
- Dry Cleaners.
- Appliance and other Repair Services.
These are all examples of businesses from which Google expects a firm declaration of geographic relevance and location. Google presents these types of businesses for what they interpret as local-intent searches: made with a mobile device, a location beyond a ‘home’ IP address/cell tower location (Google perceives many contextual cues about device and geolocation).
Google prefers sites that are:
- And that perform well in mobile-first index by consistency and comprehensiveness of content from desktop to mobile.
Google also prefers sites whose Google My Business page is:
- Have consistent NAP listings and local links of quality and utility.
- Unique images.
- And answers genuine reviews from quality reviewers.
Directories and review sites (Yelp, Yellow Pages) are staples of local SEO and many of these share data sources. So if your, or your client’s, business serves an area or region, then it will pay to define it on GMB as a business category type(s), a service area for a business that prefers to do business distributed by phone or dispatched trucks rather than requiring a visit to a central office.
Send Google the signals it expects for local area businesses, and win the Map Markers, Map Pack, and Top 3 SERP listings that are so crucial for mobile visibility.
Schema such as:
- And Local Business Listing Schema
…all enhance Google’s comprehension and display of a local site in search, especially mobile. This can enhance your knowledge graph shown when your brand or company name is searched.
Structuring your data may also enable new Google services, such as in-SERP restaurant reservations. SEOs lament the loss of the “click-through” to the webpage, when in-SERP search results answer the query, but business owners are likely to celebrate an increase in impulse buys.
Also, a new wrinkle was just announced by Google — the patent to observe and act on ‘quality time’ spent in local establishments has been accompanied by “Welcome Offers” in exchange for following the business on Maps. This means as Google observes consumer’s in-store arrival and ‘hang time,’ it will begin highlighting the top five percent of businesses in a particular category with the “Local Favorite” designation.
To benefit from this designation, businesses need to:
To support these signals, businesses should ensure they have cell tower signal and offer solid WiFi extensively throughout the premises. This will allow Google to track the presence of customers – as creepy as that sounds.Google My Business pages tend to outperform all of the most popular site-builder services (Wix, SquareSpace, Weebly) in search visibility. (Surprise!)
- Rank well in Maps.
- Maintain a comprehensive Google My Business listing with fresh, favorable user-generated content.
- Demonstrate the ability to attract and keep people on premises.
- And inspire return visits.
A multi-property approach requires maintaining:
- Maps locations.
- Google My Business pages.
- A business’s own domain.
- A menu, order, and reservation site.
- And location-based directories.
These will provide multiple golden search opportunities.
It is expected that content will gradually accumulate on all of those web properties. Fresh photos and reviews must arrive from genuine users, preferably those with Google logins and multiple past reviews of other businesses and new offers and fresh posts will vitalize your presence.
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SEOs should consult and convince business owners of the value of cultivating online advocates, answering legitimate gripes, so that any online activity is good for business. Also, becoming a Google Local Guide can help SEOs practice and gain credibility.
Quality Deserves Freshness. Freshness Deserves Its Own Signals
Another signal that can vary in its importance or weight, depending on the industry, is freshness.
Some of these industries include:
All of these niches are likely to benefit from “sudden onset” SEO. What does that mean? For News items, Google has determined that Query Deserves Freshness (QDF). That is, searchers will appreciate results that are recent, timely, accurate, and continually forthcoming.
- Sports Scores.
- Financial Reporting.
- Stock & Bond Market Quotes.
- Popular Media.
An accelerated wave of fresh links sends a powerful signal. On other sites, for example, static blogs or ecommerce sites, a sudden surge of inbound links can signal new popularity, or the surge’s scale may warrant closer attention in Google’s quest against bulk link building — yet, newly-emerging links to updated, refreshed, cultivated pages will be expected signals in support of authentic news.
A high number of social sharing links that accumulate rapidly also propels the topical material to high visibility which, in turn, filters indirectly into search. It is immaterial if the social links are nofollow since the traffic and interest will also fuel a spike in searches and resulting click-throughs.
In the volatile, sudden-onset world of news, emotionally-propelled subjects will ride a trend wave that suddenly spikes, and almost as rapidly crashes. News sites rely on the combined effect of QDF, SEO, and social to lay down a carpet of individual spikes so dense that it creates a traffic plateau. Such search engine strategies may lack endurance.
As soon as the efforts and expenditure on activity, cultivation of amplifiers, and influencers end, so do the spikes. What remains is a meager trace of search visibility as out-of-date queries occur, to no doubt settle bar bets. As the articles grow in length, depth, unique information, perspective, and other resources, they are likelier to attract inbound links by fans, other publications, and enthusiast sites and blogs.Such added relevance gets another boost by citing entities that can be expected to be associated with the topic:
- Creative productions.
- Pundits and other entities.
These enrich the milieu of people, places, and things that make up a necessary and sufficiently comprehensive corpus deserving of SERP coverage for a broader range of associated keywords and phrases.
Outbound links would also be an expected feature, to enable further investigation of:
Schema that can enhance news and universal search presence include:
- Related entities.
- Information sources.
- And oeuvre (body of work related to art, music, or literature for sustained authority or relevance).
- Fact Check.
- Q & A.
- Paywall Content.
Performance increases may not be directly attributable to extended structured data with additional property fields from schema.org, but this can help to give Google more context around the entities on your site.
And that concludes our first part of this series about the different types of industries that require varying search strategies. In the coming posts we'll explore everything from events and blogs to Your Money Your Life (YMYL) and B2B websites. See you soon!