I’ve talked a lot about SEO throughout the 4+ years of this blog. One thing I’ve failed to shed light on is negative SEO. This will be a very short post on negative SEO but you can read more over at Moz.
What is negative SEO?
It’s an SEO campaign that is launched to HARM and not improve the rankings of website.
Who would do such a thing?
In most cases it’s a website and business owners looking to drop the search rankings of their competitors. They’re many business owners out there who will do whatever it takes to beat their competition. It’s unfortunate but it happens.
In other cases it could be an SEO company who doesn’t know what their doing or is operating on old SEO principles that Google now frowns upon.
How does it work?
The most common case of negative SEO I’ve seen deals with un-natural ways of link building. This would be adding a bunch of backlinks on low quality sites pointing to a website with the exact same anchor text. It’s the exact same issue one of our clients faced a couple of years ago when they hired what they thought was a trustworthy SEO company.
How to prevent it?
Last week I was doing some link building for a client when I noticed they had 29 00 new backlinks pointing to their site!!
Certainly wasn’t me. When I dug deeper I found all the new backlinks were spammy.
In short, there is no way to stop someone from building spammy backlinks. But there is a way to stop Google from connecting those backlinks to your site. You can use a backlink checker tool like Ahrefs to monitor your backlinks. Then you can use the Google disavow tool to disconnect these spammy backlinks and negative SEO campaign from your website.
By using Ahrefs you will be able to see the majority of backlinks pointing to your website. When you add your website to the dashboard, you can set up automated emails to be sent to your account whenever a new backlink is discovered. This is very helpful and a much easier way to monitor your backlinks.
I was just on Facebook and saw a sponsored post for Yellow Pages and their NetSync product. Being that I deem YellowPages a competitor of ours, I clicked the ad to find out more as I wanted to review the service.
YP has really gotten their stuff together. Their website looks way better and they are heavily marketing their services to business owners like yourself. I still believe their online marketing services are expensive for the customer service they provide. Over the last couple of years I’ve received plenty of emails from business owners who are not pleased with the cost of YP online marketing services.
What is Yellow Pages NetSync?
Upon clicking the NetSync link, you’ll see a couple of boxes where you can add your business name and phone number. I used my company and business as a trial. After less then a minute you are greeted with a score and a few websites/business directories where your business may or may not be listed.
Effectively, NetSync is a tool to track down mentions of your business name on business directories to see how your business contact information is displayed. It’s also able to see which of the top directories you are or are not listed in.
YP is pitching NetSync like this:
“Errors are costly. 3 out of 4 people lose trust in a business with wrong information and won’t search for that business again.”
Of course I don’t disagree with this statement. But I strongly believe this is the wrong pitch. Instead, having correct and consistent business listings is important for local search rankings.
Also, when anyone searches for a business name online, you’ll see that business’ website, their Google listing and contact details, then perhaps a Yelp and YellowPages listing. It should be a given that you have the correct contact information on all four of those platforms. Very rarely, if ever, will someone be on directory like Weblocal looking for a business.
Again, having consistent business listings is way more important for local search. That’s the second time I’ve linked to that post. Please read it!!
Back to it.
Within 5 minutes of me filling out my business details I received a call from a local number. Turns out it was a YP sales rep.
I started chatting with them and they are basically Yext in Canada. Yext is a company out of the US who provides the same business listing clean up service. They have taken control of many business directories in Canada and how they collect and update business date like name, address & phone numbers. So when someone signs up with NetSync, you plugin in your correct business contact details and then they update all of their directories they control.
It’s a really great idea and it saves the business owner money.
My only issue is with quality score they give you. My business was giving a score of 37%. I believe this is a bit of a scare tactic. I can say for sure that when I started Meaningful Marketing, I listed it correctly on many business directories. A business name and phone number search for Meaningful Marketing confirms plenty of consistency listings. I haven’t moved or changed business address which can really harm your local search rankings if not corrected.
If you see a low score, just search do a search. Something like “business name+phone number+address” and see what information the business directories have for your information.
If you clicked the “Fix Errors” button you’ll be directed to the costs page. This is a breakdown of their packages and costs.
The premium package is very similar to our Google My Business package which you can see below. The $50 is per month but with a 1 year contract so $600 + tax for the year.
- Add Business ListingsHaving many listings is important for your My Business page rankingsAdd Business Listings
- Business Listings Clean UpMoved or changed phone numbers? Having inconsistent business listings can hurt your rankingsBusiness Listings Clean Up
- Google ReviewsReviews are another ranking factor for your My Business pageGoogle Reviews
- Website RecommendationsWebsite Recommendations
- Add Business ListingsWe'll add your business to the top 50 directories your not listed in50 Business Listings
- Business Listings Clean UpWe’ll do 4 rounds of business listings clean up
- Google ReviewsWe'll create and help you implement a strategy to get more reviews for your page Strategy + Implementation
- Website RecommendationsWe'll provide you with a list of recommendations to be implemented to your website to help your Google My Business rankings
Our Google My Business package is $500 but we offer 25 more business listings, a review strategy for YellowPages, Yelp, and Google, and we make website recommendations to increase your local search performance.
I think the two services are quiet similar. Obviously I’d like to work with you but can understand choosing YP and NetSync. I’ve been critical of YP but having seen how Yext has offered this service, it’s a solid choice.
Yelp is clearly ramping up their sales teams as lot of our clients have been getting calls from sales reps. It’s probably due to the fact they didn’t meet their sales estimates recently. Regardless, this Yelp advertising review will help you determine if it makes sense for your business to advertise with them.
A few of our clients and yourself wants to know, is advertising with Yelp worth it? The answer depends on a few factors.
But before I list the four questions you need to ask yourself to determine if Yelp advertising is worth it, here is how their advertising works.
Yelp Advertising Cost
Since I’ve been in contact with a few Yelp sales reps, I’ve been able to acquire a link to their pricing and packages. Keep in mind that this link is for Canadian businesses.
Another thing to keep in mind is that those prices are based on a 12 month contract. Now that you have an idea of costs, where your ads will be displayed?
Three Display Options
Yelp offers three areas where your ad will be displayed. You can see in the screenshot below that it’s pretty straightforward except for the “search results page”.
The search results page is their “directory” of service providers or storefronts for specific search terms. We have one client who is advertising with Yelp and they’re an auto repair shop. So their ad gets displayed on the Yelp directory for “auto repair shops in Victoria BC“. Since they also offer a few different services, their ad would be displayed on other search results pages for those other services.
The competitors pages advertising is quite interesting and useful. People will find out about your competitors anyways. So if someone is viewing their Yelp listing, why not have your ad displayed there as well?
Now that you know where the ads are displayed, you might wonder how your budget or PPC is determined.
Yelp PPC Ad Budget
Each of the packages has click budget per month. How that budget gets divided is something I am unaware of. But within your business owners dashboard there is a section called “Yelp Ads” which allows you to see your CPC breakdown, amount of impressions and clicks. You can’t see how CPC is determined either. But for this client, a $2.46 CPC is pretty cheap.
That covers how Yelp advertising works. Here are four questions you need to answer to determine if it works for your business.
Four Questions To Ask Yourself
1) Do any Yelp directory pages show up in the search results ahead of your website?
Yelp has done a good job with their SEO and trying to rank all of their directory pages. When you search for your targeted search terms in Google or Bing does a Yelp listing show up ahead of your website?
In the screenshot above, it might worth it for our client who is listed two spots below the Yelp directory listing for “auto repair Victoria BC”.
When you search for your products or services, where does the Yelp listings show in the search rankings compared to your website? If it’s quite few or even two spots ahead, it might be worth going with Yelp.
2) Do you have a lot of competition?
This question is related to the last one. If you have a lot of competition and you’re not ranking very high in the search results, then you can leverage the traffic from the Yelp directory listing that ranks high.
The money spent on local SEO and trying to get better rankings might be better spent on Yelp advertising as you will see more traffic directly. This is especially true if you have a lot of competitors and your website is ranking on the fourth page and beyond.
But this money could also be spent on Google Adwords. I’ll cover Adwords vs Yelp in a bit.
3) How many views does your Yelp listing receive right now?
Once you have claimed your Yelp listing you’ll be able to see how many views your listing has received. Yelp’s definition of a user view is:
“User Views is a measure of how many times your Yelp page was accessed or viewed on the Yelp website, mobile website, and mobile apps. The forecasted value on the current month is an estimate and will change as the month progresses. Yelp may occasionally correct historical metrics to improve accuracy.”
So a view can come from someone seeing your listing in a directory and viewing your actual listing page. It would be really nice for Yelp to separate the two, as someone viewing your listing directly is far more valuable.
If your listing is getting a fair amount of user views, that number would increase significantly if lots of people are searching through a search engine for your product and landing on a few different Yelp directories. It would also increase if people bypass Bing and Google and head to Yelp and do their searching there.
Unfortunately Yelp doesn’t have stats for how many users view a directory like their “auto repair shops in Victoria BC“. This would make the decision much easier. So for now we’ll have to go off how many user views your listing gets.
4) How many products or services do you offer?
The more products or services offer, the more Yelp directories there will be. If you are an auto repair shop, you most likely offer brake repair, oil changes, tires & suspensions and more. In this case Yelp will have a directory for each service. This would then increase the amount of views your listing has.
You would have to ask the question to your Sales rep how a budget gets divided if you offer different services.
In the case of the auto repair shop I’ve mentioned, this screenshot below shows the increase in user views since we signed up with Yelp a few months back.
On the other side of this is if you’re a massage therapist that only offers that one service, you will only have one Yelp directory. This would mean your listing might not have as many views.
Answering the questions above will you decide. But I want to toss another option at you that you probably are already aware of, if not using right now.
Yelp Vs Adwords
The first question I asked above had to do with the Yelp directory listing and it’s search rankings. The idea of levering Yelp’s SEO and search rankings is an easier way to get targeted traffic to your Yelp listing.
But Google Adwords are an even better way as Google Ads will appear at the very top of the search results. There are lots of studies floating around in regards to the percentage of people who click on the Google Ads at the top. I’ve seen 20-35% click on the ads while the other 65-80% go to the Google My Business (maps results with 3 businesses listed) and organic search results.
The 65-80% could then come across a Yelp directory for your business’ products or services in the organic results. This coupled with the fact the Google Adwords CPC is going to be higher then the Yelp Ads might make Yelp a better option.
With that being said, if you do advertise with Google Adwords people are directly visiting your site. I’m a big believer in driving people to your website as you can control the flow of the visitors and see the Google Analytics stats and track things better.
If you advertise with Yelp, they want to drive people to your Yelp listing. You then have to rely on people clicking on your website link to see your website. It seems to be the case from analyzing a few clients’ Yelp ads that most people call the business rather then visit the website.
This is good, however, as you want people to call you after they reach your website anyways. They just miss out on learning more about your business. But they’ve called and that’s a major goal in any business.
So Is Yelp Advertising Worth It?
After all this it comes down to answering the four questions above. At that point you should have a good idea if it’s worthwhile to spend the money and advertise with Yelp. Obviously I would be cautious of the 12 month contract, but thankfully you can jump in between packages.
If you do decided to advertise with Yelp, it will be a far better option than going with Yellow Pages Online. YP is very expensive compared to Yelp, but Yelp’s SEO and local search rankings are just as good as YP’s for their directories.
If you have any questions regarding Yelp or online marketing, contact us today and we’d be happy to consult with you.
Spam. It’s every where.
We’ve all seen our fair share of spam. Including SEO companies reaching out to offer you “Page 1” rankings. Heck, I even get these emails despite having great local rankings.
But there another form of spam out there and I’ve been asked by some of my current clients if it’s legit. It has to do with your domain registration and if your domain is expired.
So what does this spam look like? Here is an email my client just received.
The email will seem pretty legit at first and if you’re not careful, you could waste your money. Worse yet you could give a website your credit card details.
Also to note the pricing. $67 is about $50 overpriced for domain registrations for a year. GoDaddy charges $14 for year.
So how can you answer the question of “Is my domain expired?” The first step would be to login to your domain registrar’s account and find out there.
If you don’t remember who you registered the domain with or forget your login details, go to WhoIs.com and type in your domain name in the top right and click “WHOIS”.
This will tell you both who you registered the domain with and when it expires. It even tells you where the website is hosted.
WhoIs is great resource for many reasons. Obviously the main being to know when your domain expires so you can avoid spam and getting taken.
A few months back I wrote about how Meetup.com can be a great way to get local backlinks. Today I wanted to let you know of another great local SEO backlink source, Reddit.
For the longest time I avoided Reddit. The main reason is the design of the website. I’m a design snob in some ways and viewing Reddit feels like it’s 1999.
But I’m always looking for local online discussion groups to engage with and to find backlink opportunities. Surely enough I found a subreddit for Victoria BC. A subreddit is a fancy name for a group. In that subreddit I found that there were a lot of on-going discussions about everything local.
What I also found is that many people use the Victoria subreddit for business recommendations. And this is your chance to use Reddit as a means to get local SEO backlinks for your website.
Before I explain how, DO NOT spam your local subreddit with a bunch of backlinks to your site. Engage in other discussions and add value to the community. You’ll get kicked out fairly quick by moderators if they notice you only post backlinks.
With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s help you find a local subreddit.
Search For A Subreddit
The first step is to search for a subreddit. By far the easiest way is to do a Google site search. If I was going to search for a Victoria BC subreddit, I would Google:
“site:reddit.com Victoria BC”
You can also use Reddit search bar located at the top right on the front page.
Now that you have found your subreddit, go ahead and search some terms that people use to describe your business. Use the same search bar within Reddit, but make sure you are in the subreddit before you do your search.
Otherwise, feel free to do a Google site search again. If I was looking for mentions of SEO, I would Google this:
In a way this is a lot like using Twitter’s search function to find local leads.
What happens when you do find a thread where someone is looking for your service or business?
How To Link & Two Benefits Of Reddit Backlinks
When you happen to find a thread where someone asks for a recommendation or is looking for your business, be sure to state you are the business owner and give your elevator pitch. Don’t oversell yourself.
When you do comment, make sure to link back to your website. Follow the formatting for links in the image below.
If I was to link back to this site, I would format the link like this:
By engaging with your local subreddit, you are in a way networking. The more active you become, the more trust and credibility you build. This is the first benefit.
The second benefit is that you get a high quality dofollow backlink. Backlinks aren’t the top factor when it comes to local SEO and better rankings. But it’s still important.
I’m sure hardcore Redditors might get annoyed about me posting this. But again, be sure to engage with your local subreddit. Heck, even keep an eye out for opportunities to recommend friends. Just DON’T spam!