Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Local SEO Strategies to Help Small Businesses #semrushchat

Local SEO Strategies to Help Small Businesses #semrushchat

If your business has a physical address (e.g., a brick-and-mortar store), you need to consider investing your time and efforts in local SEO to earn new customers. Even small businesses shouldn’t be intimidated by their limited resources, because local SEO relies heavily on strategic planning.

By letting Google know where your business is located and what it has to offer, you not only will appear in the SERPs more often, but you will also show up in front of the eyes of your relevant audience.

Last week, Chris Countey, a Digital Marketer and Technical SEO Manager for Publicis Health Media, was our special guest on the chat. He and our other chat participants discussed local SEO strategies for small businesses.

Below you will find smart ways to improve your local SEO and boost your business:

Q1. In regards to local SEO, what are the most important elements on a website?

When it comes to local SEO, a website owner’s task is to convince search engine robots that their site is the most relevant for users in a certain location. To do this, you need to ensure that your website has all of the important elements that allow the robots to better understand your webpages and rank your site.

Let’s find out what these elements are:

  • NAP

In case you’re unsure, NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number. It’s important to ensure NAP consistency, which means that you need to have your full NAP across your website and use the exact same details when you mention your address across the web. This is important because your local search rankings are influenced by whether or not Google can find your business information on the web, and whether that information is consistent and matches that which is provided on your site.

  • Schema

You can add schema markups for NAP to provide search engines with what they need to display information about your business correctly. Schema allows search engines to gain more of an idea of the important information you are marking up, such as location and specific business-related snippets. With the help of these rich snippets, search engines can better understand your site content and show your local listings to more relevant local users.

  • Google My Business listings

Another essential element for local SEO is a Google My Business profile that enables you to appear in local search results for specific queries that are related to your product or service. To do this, you need to go to Google My Business and claim your GMB page, once Google sends you a verification code, you should enter that into GMB. This verification process may take 1-2 weeks, but it’s extremely important to your local SEO strategy. To learn more, you can check out this video on how to set up your GMB page.

Once you’ve verified your account, you should:

  • Choose the right categories for your business.

  • Provide a unique description.

  • Upload high-resolution images.

  • Add a local phone number and business address.

  • Add your days and hours of operation.

  • Encourage your customers to write reviews for your business.

  • Optimized meta tags and page content for local keywords

When creating a title tag for your page, you should consider including your brand name, where you are based, or the area in which you operate. According to Nifty, 80% of top pages have their location in the title tag and 65% of top landing pages have their business name in the title tag. It’s also worth including a relevant keyword in the title of your page.

Another important step is to have a detailed meta description that is relevant to what your users are searching for. Consider including the brand name, the location or area of operation, and your targeted keywords.

As for your page’s content, it’s important to include your location within it, but you need to add it where it fits naturally:

  • Embedded maps

Embedding a Google Map on your website is not a difficult process and is a great addition to your website. By embedding a map of your actual address from Google Maps on your “Contact Us” page, you will help your users to find your business and make your company more visible and searchable on Google.

You can also check Google’s guidelines to learn how to properly represent your business on Google.

SEMrush Chat Recap Q1

When planning your local SEO campaign, our special guest recommended paying attention to the details.  

Q2. What can a local business with one location do to ensure it ranks across multiple target cities?

Local businesses with one location typically rank well for a local search across the area in which their office is physically located. However, these companies tend to face a common issue: they provide services within multiple cities. So, how can these businesses rank for other cities where they also offer their services?

Local PPC

For companies that don’t have a physical location in their target city, Chris Countey‏ suggests considering a paid search approach. “Trying to game local SEO without a supporting address is going to cause headaches and won’t be the best use of your money,” tweeted Chris.

Google AdWords provides geo-targeting options that allow you to target your ads so that they only appear to users in a certain location or a specific set of locations. With this AdWords feature, you can ensure that you are not wasting your money trying to get clicks from people who are actually outside of your target area. A well-planned local PPC campaign can increase that chance that the users who are clicking on your ads are the ones who are able to receive your products or services. 

The importance of keywords

To rank for multiple locations and maximize your appearance in search, you need to use keywords that are related to your location, like the name of your city or your ZIP code. Don’t focus solely on things like the major metro area, instead, perform a thorough keyword research to find out which terms and phrases are applicable to your company and would be the most useful.

Local landing pages for each destination

You can also create local landing pages for each of your target destinations. This will help you optimize your content for each location and create more personalized content for your customers in the specified area. With this feature, you are able to target each Google My Business page to your landing page for each specific location.

Your city and points of interest in a certain area

Modern consumers are looking for hyper localized content. Therefore, local businesses need to consider creating localized content that will interest people in a particular area. You can create content that focuses on local points of interest (e.g., destinations or landmarks) that users can see when viewing the area. This kind of content can help you to improve your geolocation targeting and become more visible to people who are looking around a certain location.

You can also offer promotions specific to a certain area, cover relevant news, or mention specific local organizations to better connect with the community.

Let’s sum up the following key points.

SEMrush Chat Recap Q2

Hopefully, these tips can give you a good jumpstart on developing an effective campaign to rank across multiple locations.

Q3. How would a typical semantic hierarchy look on a local SEO campaign? How are keywords nested and how refined does it get?

One of the most talked about topics in local SEO is semantic markup, which is a code that is used in your website and contains metadata that describes individual pages on your site. Semantic markups help the search engines return more informative results for users.

According to Danny Sullivan, Google said that Hummingbird, its search algorithm, pays more attention to each word in a query to make sure that the whole query is taken into account. The goal is that the search engine can return more accurate results, i.e., pages that better match the meaning of the query. It means that the search engine will be focusing far beyond mere keyword matches and more on grasping the intent of the searcher. To do this, Google will have to rely on semantic markups to better understand both the meaning and the context of the queries.

Businesses now need to concentrate on providing content that is highly relevant to their target audience, using a set of keywords — not merely a single term for a single webpage.

Semantic markups can clearly define your business and its location. A good place to start applying the markup is to your business address and contact information within your site. You can also include hours of operation, payment types accepted, and more.  

Geographical modifiers, or geo tags, are location specific keywords which communicate local intent to search engines. When planning your local SEO campaign, you need to pay attention to these geo modifiers, such as places, names, and locations. Try to brainstorm keywords and phrases with the modifiers that your customers may use when searching for a business like yours.

The best type of content for your local business largely depends on the industry and your average consumer. However, you need to create specific content for each location that answers the questions that your customers may have. You can do this by using semantic markups for reviews, special offers, or events. For example, if your company is going to take part in some events or provide special services at particular dates or times, you can implement the Events Schema markup; for special offers, you can use Offer Schema.

Countey also mentioned which tools you can use when developing your campaign to find the most popular keyword variations: “With the rise of “near me” searches, the SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool can help you find the most popular variations.”

SEMrush Chat Recap Q3

It’s important that website owners seriously consider semantics when it comes to user intent as well as structure their sites and HTML markups accordingly.

Q4. If your local business is an established company, what are some important things to consider when doing local SEO?

Local SEO can be hard to understand. However, if done right, it can be very beneficial. If you want to learn how to boost visibility for your local business in the search results, take a look at these four tips for local SEO success from our chat participants:

1. Encourage online user reviews

User reviews are a viable element for any local business’ success. Both positive and negative reviews help you to build your company’s visibility in search results, as well as your responses to them. “If you’re established, make use of your previous work — testimonials, reviews, check-ins, and get them on the go!” tweeted Traffic Jam Media‏ @trafficjammedia.

You can also encourage your customers to leave reviews and ratings for your business, especially if they’re satisfied with its products or services. For example, you can send a short email after a service is provided or you can place a callout on your site. “In addition to sites like Yelp, encourage your customers to give you feedback on social media and travel websites,” recommended Chris Countey‏.

Make sure that you never post false reviews, by doing so you’re risking losing your earned visibility in search.

2. Build local citations

According to Whitespark, local citations are mentions of a local business on the web, with or without a link. Google’s algorithm takes citations into account, because they show validity. The more evidence Google can find about your business, the more credibility the search engine gives to that information. You need to make sure that all data that is related to your business is consistent across the Internet.

3. Set up location extensions in Google AdWords

Extend your Google AdWords campaigns by showing your ads with your business address, a phone number, or a map to your location. To do this, you need to use location extensions, which allow you to provide more information to local searchers, including a clickable phone number on mobile devices.

4. Check out if competitors bid on your name

Have you ever come across the following situation? You type your brand’s name into Google and the top result or results are competitors who have used your company’s name in their ads

If you answered yes, you’re not alone. This is quite a common issue, especially for brands who are established and well known. “If you’re well-known, even locally, competitors may bid on your name to piggyback off your success,” pointed out Chris Countey‏.

Unfortunately, Google doesn’t ban websites for such actions. This means that you need to take matters into your own hands. Countey recommends to keep track of these kinds of searches and create content that will combat your rivals by showing off your strengths that make your product or service the best choice.

“Just because you’re “established” doesn’t mean you’re ever done with SEO! Always be striving to get reviews, links, etc.” tweeted ThinkSEM‏ @ThinkSEM. Whether or not you are an established company, there is still a lot of work to do to ensure a new level of organic search traffic.

SEMrush Chat Recap Q4

There are other things that can be done for your local SEO. Please feel free to share your experience and views on the topic in the comments below!

Q5. What is the best way to handle the listings for a local business with two physical places in the same city?

Nowadays, companies with multiple brick-and-mortar locations face the challenge of connecting with consumers online to encourage them to visit their physical business locations. If your company has two or more locations in a single city, you should have a listing for each of them. Make sure that whichever page you point searchers to on your site, that your content provides a unique experience to your users.  

You need to have a separate, designated webpage for each of your locations. You can do this by creating a “Locations” tab in your header and listing out all your locations here. It’s worth referencing the neighborhood where each physical business is located in the page title.

Consider creating a unique landing page for each of your physical locations. By doing this, the GMB listing for your first location will link to the landing page for your first location, while the GMB listing for your second location will link the landing page for your second location and so forth. Location landing pages provide you with an opportunity to target your content to a specific group of searchers.  

When it comes to content, if you want to optimize for each of your locations, you will have to post unique, locally-optimized content for each of them on a regular basis. “Whatever you do, don’t create a one-size-fits-all locations page template. Be strategic, not lazy,” tweeted Chris Countey.

SEMrush Chat Recap Q5

If your business is a brick-and-mortar location, local SEO is a highly important part of your digital strategy. Local SEO is different from average SEO, and you must build your campaign accordingly.

We hope the tips from this post will help you ensure increased visibility in search engines and increased traffic to your website.

We would like to thank Chris Countey and our other chat guests for sharing great tips!

On – 24 Apr, 2017 By Becky Shindell


52 Local SEO Strategies for SMBs

52 Local SEO Strategies for SMBs
  • 1.7K

Search engine optimization for local businesses and SMBs is becoming more difficult and competitive. Local SEO best practices are continuously changing to keep up with new features that search engines add to how they display search results for local search queries.

For local businesses and SMBs, there are generally three main types of local SEO strategy categories to concentrate on:

  • Optimizing local listings and citations.
  • Optimizing your website and its content.
  • Optimizing and working on the links to your website.

Among these three main categories, there are specific strategies that will help optimize your local presence, ultimately bringing more traffic and visibility. Let’s look at each of these local SEO strategies in more detail. Then, I’ll list even more local SEO strategies and quick tips that you might not have thought of yet.

Optimizing Local Listings & Citations

Let’s start with your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) data. In order to get listed and ranked in Google Maps, you need to be a legitimate business, and in some areas, you’ll need a business license (depending on the type of business you’re in). That NAP needs to be consistent and listed the same everywhere or you’ll have problems later on.

Before you get started with local listings and citations, you’ll also need the following:

  • NAP of the business.
  • Website URL (list of internal location pages if more than one location).
  • A short description (up to 50 characters) which should include your main city name and type of business.
  • A longer description (up to 250 characters) that describes who you are and what you do. Include the city name and areas served if applicable.
  • Recent photos of your business.
  • Category of your business.
  • Keywords (that you’d like to rank for). These are typical “cityname keyword” type keywords.

The main strategy for local listings and local citations is to get as many as feasible in the right category, with consistent information such as your NAP data.

restaurants near me on iphone

Local citations are mentions of a local business, which includes NAP data. Local citations may or may not include a link to your website. There are generally two strategies for getting local citations:

  • Get the local listings yourself
  • Hire someone else to get them for you

Taking the time to get local citations yourself can be a really big project, especially if you’re in a competitive industry in your area. Competitors could have up to hundreds of thousands of local citations, which is nearly impossible to do manually.

If you’re a local business (SMB) in a fairly non-competitive market, then getting a handful of local citations manually is a good strategy. If that’s the case, a non-competitive local SEO strategy for local citations is to get these listings:

  • Google My Business
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Local (currently requires a payment to Yext)
  • Apple Maps
  • Bing Places for Business
  • MapQuest
  • Nokia
  • Yelp
  • Superpages
  • TripAdvisor
  • Foursquare
  • Angie’s List
  • Home Advisor
  • Thumbtack

The last two on the list are specific to certain industries, and you’ll want to search certain directories that are specific to your local business’ industry. Typically, these are easy to find — they’ll rank in the top 10 search results (on the first page).

Submitting to directories (and getting listed) will allow your local business to take advantage of what’s often referred to as “barnacle SEO.” Your business gets listed on pages on other websites that rank well for a certain keyword you’re targeting.

So for “Dallas carpenters”, Google lists sites like,,, and Getting listed on those sites will bring the business leads, as they’re ranking well in Google.

Once you have secured (and verified) those local listings, the next local SEO strategy is to get listed with the main data aggregators. There are four:

The data aggregators will take the information of the local business and aggregate it (make it available for literally thousands of websites to use). Be sure you’re using the correct NAP data and website URLs, as once the data aggregators get hold of your data, it’s tough to get it corrected and updated and can take quite some time.

Using a Third Party for Local Citations & Listings

Another local SEO strategy is to outsource local citations and listings. Several third-party businesses allow you to submit your local business listing to them (the NAP data, short and long descriptions, URLs, etc.), and they will then use their connections to get that data on other websites. Many have agreements with certain data providers, and can efficiently get hundreds, thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of local citations.

These third-party services include:

  • BrightLocal
  • MozLocal
  • Yext
  • Advice Local
  • Whitespark

Some of these services are better than others, mainly because of the agreements they have with other websites and their technology. Some submit to only 30 websites, and others like Advice Local will end up getting a local business thousands upon thousands of local citations, many of which include a link to the website. Be wary of any third-party websites that set up a local listing on behalf of the local business but won’t give the local business the login and password for those listings.

local restaurant

Reviews Are Key

Getting reviews of your local business, especially on Google, is going to help rankings and it will encourage others to visit your business. People do read reviews online, especially for service-type businesses (hotels, resorts, carpet cleaners, home inspectors, carpenters, and even car dealerships). So if your local business is a service-type business or another business where reviews are important, then creating a good strategy for dealing with reviews is key.

Local businesses need to request and encourage their customers to leave a review. There are a lot of ways to encourage customers to leave a review. Some businesses post a plaque at the business asking for reviews. Other SMBs encourage reviews by offering a “prize” each month to a random reviewer (one local business I frequent gives away an Apple iPad once a month to a random reviewer).

The local business should respond to reviews just as quickly as they are left, regardless if it’s a positive or negative review. If it’s a positive review or comment, thank the customer for leaving a review. If it’s negative, deal with it quickly and offer to take the issue offline to minimize any future problems and the negative review getting out of hand.

Too many local businesses will take the time to verify their local listings but won’t properly deal with reviews and respond to them in a timely manner. Local businesses should take the time to develop a strategy for encouraging reviews, tell employees what that strategy is, and designate one or two people to respond to reviews.

Here are a few other ways to manage reviews:

  • Designate one or two employees to handle the reviews.
  • Encourage reviews by asking your customers when they check out or pay for services.
  • Send customers a letter or postcard in the mail, asking for a review after you provide services.
  • Outsource the monitoring of and responding to reviews. Typically, your social media or SEO company (or consultant) will help monitor and respond to reviews. If not, hire someone part-time to handle it for you.
  • Add a link on your website to a few other places where customers can leave a review.
  • Add a form on your website so they can anonymously leave a review (or leave their contact info if preferred).
  • Create a comment box at your business, and provide a pen/pencil and forms. On the form, add a line for the customer’s email address. Ask them if you can post their review or testimonial online.

Reviews sent directly to the business can be posted on the company’s website (with the permission of the customer). Reviews left on a third-party website (like on Google, Yelp, etc.) cannot be copied and posted on the company’s website.

Reviews on third-party websites have in fact been given extra weight lately by Google. So sites like these, where customers can leave reviews and feedback, could potentially help with local rankings on Google:

  • Yelp (
  • Trip Advisor (
  • Yellowpages (
  • Better Business Bureau (
  • Manta (
  • Angie’s List (
  • Foursquare (
  • Facebook (

Another way to get more local reviews is to create a postcard or handout that’s given to customers. Tell them you’d like their feedback, and use that feedback to make your business even better. They can leave you a review on your website, or on any of these third-party websites (list the websites where you’d like them to leave a review).

Optimizing Your Local Website’s Content

Without going into too much detail about optimizing a local website, there are several on-site local SEO strategies that are important to consider:

  • Optimize for “Near Me” search queries
  • Optimize for local
  • Be a local content machine
  • Buy a local website or blog

google search restaurants near me

Optimize for “Near Me” Search Queries

Lately, there has been an upswing in the number of search queries that include the phrase “near me,” such as “restaurants near me” or “pharmacies near me.” Those two search queries assume the search engine knows where the searcher is located.

Local SEO Guide recently published a list of “near me” local SEO ranking factors. These include:

  • Google Reviews
  • Backlinks with city in anchor text
  • Percent of backlinks within city in anchor text
  • Profile views

Local SEO Guide found that for “near me” searches, you only really have to be located in the city in order to show up in the results for keyword queries that include “near me.” They found that “being closer doesn’t necessarily mean you rank higher.”

There are, however, things you can do to influence the rankings:

  • Add “near me” or “nearby” in the title tag of pages on your website. If, for example, you have a Store Locator on your website or a page that lists your locations, consider adding “Near Me” or “Nearby” in the title tag of that page.
  • Make sure you have a unique web page for each business location. If you have more than one location, each location needs its own page on your site. If you have more than one location in one city, consider optimizing each page for that part of town or the neighborhood.
  • Add “near me” or “near” and “nearby” in the copy of the pages whenever appropriate. For example, mention your location is “near the railroad station” or “the Dallas railroad station is nearby.” Consider using the names of other local event venues, city landmarks, or popular locations that people might search for.
  • Consider using “near me,” “nearby,” and “near” in the internal anchor text of links to location pages on your website.

Work on getting more backlinks specifically to your individual location pages that include “city name + keyword” in the anchor text of the links.

Be a Local Content Machine

One interesting tactic or “local SEO strategy” I’ve seen lately that works well is becoming a local content machine. Essentially, by adding a blog to your local business website and writing about local news and events, you’re producing content that others in the city will want to read and share, especially on social networks.

While you’re not necessarily writing about your local business, you’re branding the business locally. When someone wants or needs a company’s services, they’ll think of your business first since they’ve seen it so much online.

A local auto accident and personal injury attorney hired a writer to write articles every single day about accidents in their city. While they weren’t targeting the actual victims they wrote about, the social media shares went up dramatically and the attorney got his name out there in front of people in the city. Those social media shares did end up creating links to the website, which in turn helped local rankings.

Buy a Local Website or Blog

If you’re looking to add a lot of content fairly quickly to your local business website, consider purchasing a local website that already has the content you need. It could be a local hobby website with local news or articles, or it could be a local blog that has the content. Perhaps the owner doesn’t have the heart to keep up with the content like they used to or they could just use the money.

Approach a local website or blog about buying their site and incorporating and moving their content over to your local business website. Setting up redirects from the old domain name to your local business website will help pass any link equity and history over to your local business.


Optimizing and Working on Links

Google’s Possum algorithm update that happened in September 2016 put more of an emphasis on links. More specifically, local links or links from other local businesses and organizations are important.

Greg Gifford, from, recommends that you can “find easy link opportunities by looking at the relationships you already have.” Local sponsorships, local volunteer opportunities, and local offline groups can all lead to local links.

Need more ideas for local links? Use to analyze the link profiles of similar businesses in another city.

Another local SEO strategy for local links is to get links from competitors. Use a web crawler such as the Screaming Frog SEO Spider to crawl their website and review all of your competitors’ outgoing links. Then, see if there are any links you can get from websites your competitors are linking to. Essentially those competitors are passing link credit or PageRank to the other website that then passes it to your website.

Additional Local SEO Tips

Those are a few local SEO strategies that will help local search engine rankings. But if that wasn’t enough, here are a bunch more local SEO tips and pointers that you may not have thought of yet.

Local Listings

  • Undoubtedly, the number one local search ranking factor is the “proximity of the business to the point of search.” How far is the business away from the person who is doing the search? For example, Google knows where the searcher is (especially if they are using a mobile phone). The closer the business is to the person doing the searching, the more likely that business will show up in the Google Maps and Google local listings in the search results. Some businesses have been known to get a “virtual office” location (or multiple virtual office locations) just for this reason, especially if the customer never visits their location. While this a local SEO strategy I don’t endorse, it’s a local SEO strategy worthing noting — as a company’s competitors might be doing it.
  • Keep your local online listings up to date. If you know you have an update to your NAP data, make sure it gets changed online as soon as possible.
  • If you’re moving, start updating your local listings. As soon as you know the new address, start updating local listings online. It can take months for websites to update your listing, so the sooner you start, the better. Just as you update your “snail mail” with the US Postal Service when you move to a new location, you’ll want to make sure your local listings are updated as well. As previously mentioned, the address with the USPS should be the same exact address used in your local listings. Search engines most likely have access to USPS data and inconsistencies can lead to local ranking problems.
  • Consistency is key when it comes to NAP data and your business’ ability to rank well locally. Make sure your local listings are consistent and the same as it is on your website.
  • Audit your local citations. Inconsistent NAP data across multiple websites is one of the issues I see a lot. Auditing your local citations to make sure your NAP is consistent everywhere can really help local SEO. You might have multiple phone numbers, different versions of your address, or even a different address on some websites that list your NAP data. Removing duplicate listings and updating inconsistencies can make a huge difference.
  • Add updated photos on a regular basis to local profiles. Get on a regular schedule of taking new photos of your location and your business. Add new photos on Google My Business, your Facebook page, and other sites that will accept photos such as Yelp.
  • Add a budget for local ads. Use Google AdWords to target specific locations and target potential customers in your area. Google is now offering ads on Google Maps listings, so setting aside a budget for those ads will pay off.
  • Work on getting more reviews. It’s always a constant battle to get more online reviews than your competitors — but it’s worth it in the long run. Ask customers for reviews — in-store, at your location, and even via email if you have your customers’ email addresses. Ask for a review on Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor if you’re a hotel or resort. Always respond in a timely manner to every review that’s left, whether it’s a positive or negative review.

On-Site Local SEO

  • Add marked up code to your NAP on your website. The name, address, and phone number on your site should be marked up with the proper code. It won’t affect how it displays on your site, but the code will tell search engines just that — that it’s your name, address, and phone number. You can also add the markup in JSON-LD (JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data) code, which can help Google know about your NAP.
  • Add the proper link to your telephone number. Adding a “tel://” type of link to your phone number where it’s listed on your site will allow mobile visitors to click on the link and call you. This can also help search engines display your phone number in the phone call extension area in mobile search results.
  • Speed up your website’s load time. Optimizing your site for mobile devices can seriously (and quickly) help rankings. I’ve seen Google send more traffic to a website just because the website loads faster than it did before. This might mean moving web hosts, redesigning the website, or using a CDN.
  • All photos of your business should be tagged with the appropriate location information and keywords. Use an EXIF editor to add location information, keywords, and descriptions of each photo. Each image file can be updated with this information, which can include geotagged location information.
  • Multiple locations? Create a section on your website for each location. Don’t create just one page for each location, add additional content if possible. Each location will have its own unique personality with its location and employees. Why not consistently add content relevant to each location? Add a blog, add photos to make it relevant.
  • Use the proper syntax and keywords in your URLs. For each location, use a format like Link to each location in the main navigation on your website, but don’t link to sub-pages under each location.
  • Consolidate separate websites for each location to one main website. If you’ve set up a separate domain name and website for each location, move those websites to your main site. Redirect the domain names with 301 redirects and move the content to sub-sections on your main website. Each location will feed off of the main website’s authority to become more powerful. Don’t forget to update your location’s local listings so they point to the new URL on the main website as well.
  • Some local search queries can trigger featured snippets. Depending on your topic, you can increase your website traffic and visibility by showing up in “position zero” for some search queries. Position zero is the “featured snippet” that Google shows above all of the other search engine listings. Use to analyze the keywords you’re currently ranking for, and see if any of them include a featured snippet. Optimize the content to show up for the featured snippet. Other search queries may also trigger the knowledge graph, instant answer, local pack carousel, or images that you can optimize for.
  • Move your website to HTTPs. While you may not be taking credit cards or personal information on your website, moving your entire website to an SSL secure server will give you a leg up. HTTPs is now a search engine ranking factor for Google, and many local businesses haven’t moved their websites to HTTPs yet. So moving to HTTPs will put you ahead of your competition.
  • Add a blog. Write blog posts on a regular basis about local news, local issues, and local events. Post those on social media and link back to your blog post. Photos are always liked by local residents, and quite often they’re shared.

Local SEO Audits

  • Perform an audit of your website. There are several different types of audits available, including link audits, on-page audits, and local citation audits.
  • Local citation audits are good for identifying duplicate listings and inconsistent NAP data. I’ve recently seen a rash of negative SEO being done in the local listings, with some businesses receiving listings being built “for them” with bad data, courtesy of competitors. A local citation audit can identify a lot of these issues so you can deal with them properly.
  • Link audits are important, as local maps algorithms are increasingly relying on link data. Having low-quality links and off-topic links pointing to your website can hurt rankings.
  • On-page audits are also important to identify areas for improvement on your website. Fixing issues like formatting, metadata, heading, and even page load speed can improve rankings.

Off-Site Local SEO

  • Get your customers’ email addresses and use that data to target them on Facebook or for an email newsletter. You can upload your customers’ email addresses and phone numbers to Facebook and target them with ads. Then, create a lookalike campaign on Facebook to target even more people with the same demographics as your current customers.
  • Optimize for voice search. More people are using voice search to find local businesses. They use voice search to help them find a business near them. For example, they might ask, “Where is the nearest Italian restaurant?” Check out the Local SEO Guide study of “near me” local SEO ranking factors that I previously mentioned. It’s an interesting read.
  • Use the barnacle SEO strategy. For your main keywords (the ones you want to rank for), take a look at who is currently ranking — and it may not be your own website. If you can optimize your listing or show up well on another site that’s currently ranking for your keyword, then you’ll still see some traffic and get business. If a Yelp, Home Advisor, Thumbtack, Angie’s List, or BBB page is ranking, then make sure your local business is listed on those pages.
  • Participate and sponsor local events, local organizations, and help local non-profits. These will increase your local visibility and will quite often include a link back to your website, which ultimately helps your search engine rankings.

Final Thoughts

After doing local SEO for a lot of businesses over the years, I can’t point to any of these local SEO strategies or tips that will be the one “trick” to getting better local search engine rankings. It’s generally a combination of several (or a lot) of these local SEO strategies that boost a local company’s search engine rankings in both the maps listings and the organic SERPs.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Unsplash
In-post Photo: Unsplash
In-post Photo: Unsplash
Screenshots by Bill Hartzer. Taken April 2017

On – 25 Apr, 2017 By Bill Hartzer


See, Think, Do, Care: A New Way to Communicate Your SEO Strategy – Search Engine Journal

See, Think, Do, Care: A New Way to Communicate Your SEO Strategy
  • 1.5K


When discussing SEO strategy with the C-Suite, do you ever experience your audience’s eyes glazing over?

Sure, you can try to explain website optimization in terms of the top of the funnel, mid-funnel, and bottom of the funnel; every CMO has some understanding of that. But that still doesn’t effectively capture the essence of what organic search optimization should be today.

What if I told you there’s a better way to approach discussing SEO with business stakeholders, in a language they can understand?

I’m referring to the marketing model envisioned by Avinash Kaushik, digital marketing evangelist at Google, called “See, Think, Do.” His framework applies to all types of marketing strategies, regardless of the channel. Let’s look at how to apply this framework to discussions around the implementation of optimizing a website for organic search.

Understanding “See, Think, Do”

Discussing his framework in an interview with Acronym CMO Mike Grehan, Kaushik dismissed the age-old AIDA (Attention-Interest-Desire-Action) model, as well as the conventional consumer buying cycle of awareness, consideration, purchase, and loyalty.

Instead, he argues for taking a customer-oriented approach based on an understanding of the consumer’s journey. Grehan’s conversations around “intent-based digital marketing” align nicely with this notion.

“I believe when you develop content around intent and think in a more focused way about the ‘required experience’ on the customer journey, you begin to change the voice and the way you communicate, too,” according to Grehan. “You begin to think more of the individual and speak in a one-to-one tone as opposed to the often copied ‘mass media audience’ voice. The fact is, nobody watches the internet. You can’t compare it to the audience-designed broadcast medium. In short: Talk to ‘me’ — not my demographic.”

(I talk about intent briefly as well in this Search Engine Journal post on fleshing out the intent behind keywords.)

“I don’t think about awareness, consideration, purchase loyalty — these standard marketing models, I hate them,” Kaushik said in the video. “So I created a new one. I call it ‘See, Think, Do.’ And what it says is that rather than thinking selfishly as a company, you have to think from a consumer perspective.”

He adds, “Every single person in the world is in one of these four buckets [See, Think, Do, Care].”

The buckets of consideration that Kaushik is referring to happen when an audience is on their buying journey.

  • See: This stage is comprised of the largest, qualified, addressable audience
  • Think: This stage is the part of the audience that is actually thinking or considering a particular thing
  • Do: This stage is made up of that subset of the audience that is looking to buy

Below is an illustration from Kaushik that shows the See, Think, Do framework with the types of audiences that fall into each stage of consideration (with “Care” added for established customers):

Illustration of Kaushik's See, Think, Do, Care framework with the types of audiences that fall into each stage

In this model, “audience intent” is defined by behavior, not demographics or psychographics, Kaushik said.

So how does this model relate to SEO strategy? Tying it into the traditional way we think about how people search, Grehan compared See, Think, Do to search queries that are either informational, navigational, or transactional in this article.

The difference here is that the SEO of yesterday might focus on simply optimizing web pages with specific keywords from those three buckets (informational, navigational, transactional). Today, See, Think, Do coupled with intent-based optimization is focused on what the audience is trying to accomplish, and bringing in various elements on a web page to help them reach their goal.

Applying the See, Think, Do Framework to Website Optimization

Let’s look more closely at how you might apply the See, Think, Do framework when discussing and implementing the optimization of a website to drive organic search, conversions, and revenue. Keep in mind that when talking about optimization, we aren’t just placing keywords; we’re creating an experience through content and the various elements on a web page.

  • See: This includes the larger audience of people online that are interested in something, and relates to the more generic search queries we see, for example, “doorknobs.” In this phase, if you’re in the market of selling doorknobs, you might create informational content in various forms on your website about doorknobs; varieties, uses, features and benefits, installations, etc. Again, we’re thinking about the intent of the audience here.
  • Think: Your audience is essentially thinking about a purchase. Your website’s job is to help that decision become easier. In this phase, you might create buying guides for doorknobs. You might also have functionality on your product pages that allow a person to compare various doorknobs.
  • Do: This is enabling a conversion on the web page, whether that’s buying a product or signing up for more information from your brand or any other type of conversion you deem important. This is usually facilitated by the elements on the web page (for example, a noticeable “add to cart” button, an easy-to-find way to request more information or talking to customer service via chat, and so on).

Let’s remember that the traditional journey from the top of the funnel to the bottom is no longer linear. Yes, your audience will still likely go through all three phases to get to the conversion, but it does not mean that their actions exist in a silo.

While in the “See” phase and on an informational web page, your audience may benefit from choices in the other phases of the journey, so that they move along at the pace they choose.

As this presentation from McKinsey & Company outlines, the consumer decision-making journey today is much more circular than linear:

See, Think, Do: An Example

Kaushik shares an illustrative example of how ModCloth employs multiple See, Think, Do elements on any given web page on their site:

Illustrative example of how ModCloth employs multiple See, Think, Do elements on any given web page on their site

Why You Can’t Afford to Ignore the New Approach

Without an understanding of what your audience is trying to do, SEO strategies today can fall short, be too prescriptive and too tactical.

When you implement the wrong tactics, you end up measuring the wrong things, too. As Kaushik points out here:

Without great content, and an equally worthy marketing strategy across See-Think-Do-Care, data is almost completely useless. Scratch that. It is completely useless.

In an era where search engines are becoming smarter at identifying the web pages that answer your audience’s intent, you can’t afford not to consider models like intent-based optimization and See, Think, Do. Without it, your chances of visibility online are becoming slimmer.

Plus, approaching your conversations with the C-Suite in a more strategic way when discussing SEO is speaking a language they can understand, and presenting a roadmap they can get behind.

Image Credits
Featured Image: Depositphotos
Image 1: / See, Think, Do, Care Winning Combo: Content +Marketing +Measurement!
Image 2: / See-Think-Do: A Content, Marketing, Measurement Business Framework

On – 20 Apr, 2017 By Christopher Hart


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Moving Your Business Location For Dummies – Local SEO Guide

Helped launch Showtime Networks first website. From there to NBC’s Internet division and ran, launching some of the first TV to Web experiences. In 2003, helped launch InsiderPages which was acquired by CitySearch in 2006. Since then, helping clients big and small with this strange thing called “SEO”.

Is It Safe Marathon Man DentistAt this late date, if you are not taking care of your local listings on the Web when you move your business, congratulate yourself for being royally out of touch with how business works in 2017.

Last week I headed over to my dentist, Home Page DDS, for a cleaning and on the way recalled when I was there in November he had mentioned he was moving locations. While driving, I asked both Apple Maps and Google Maps for his new location. Neither had it. I checked his website and it still showed the old location. I searched my email. None of his recent newsletters had the new address or even any mention that he had moved almost three months ago.

I miraculously survived the trip, but by the time I had exhausted my resources, including leaving several messages on his voicemail and replying to his confirmation text, I was at his old office which was under construction. There wasn’t even a “We’ve moved to…” sign.

I pulled a hail Mary, called my wife, and asked her to look at the unpaid dentist bill that was sitting on our dresser to see if it had the new address. Bingo! #Prioritie$

Needless to say, when I got to his new office I told him he might want to update his location info on the Web if he in fact wanted his customers, not to mention his potential customers, to be able to find him, and not die in the process.

Because I am a great guy and all that, when I got home I went straight to his listing on Apple Maps and submitted his new address. Yesterday, since it was clear he hadn’t followed my advice yet, I also went to his Google My Business listing, marked that he had moved and submitted the new address.

So here we are five days later:

  1. I received notification yesterday morning that Apple had updated his listing:
  2. Google notified me that my “Business moved” submission was published (within ~30 minutes of submission):
    GMB Moved Confirmation
  3. Google has still not published his new address and now, thanks to my so-called help, it shows his business as “Permanently closed” UPDATE 4/3/17: Some time in the past few days Google published the listing for their new address but still shows their old address as “Permanently closed” when you search for the business name (see comments):
    GMB Permanently Closed
  4. His website and his Yelp page still show his old address. At least his Demandforce page is up to date as his is info in InfoGroup and Acxiom, which likely got this info from a new-mover or state business database:

    Acxiom Business Listing
    It is likely the Acxiom update is why Apple Maps accepted my submission. also has the right info, but it also still has the wrong info. I haven’t found any other local search sites or any other directories indexed in Google with the updated info. I imagine Google will update the GMB data as soon as he updates his website.I guess I should be happy that my teeth are cleaner than his local citation profile, but he shouldn’t be.

How To Move A Business on Google

  1. Update your address in your Google My Business listing. If you don’t have a Google My Business listing, claim yours here.
  2. Update your address on your website
  3. Update your address on the most relevant local directories for your business in order to send Google additional signals that you are in fact at the new address. You can do this manually or try our Local Citation Service. This also may help improve your Local Pack rankings. See our post on the large NAP consistency test we did in 2015.
  4. If your eyes haven’t glazed over yet, you may as well update your address on the following business data aggregators (These are mostly U.S.- businesses outside the U.S. will need to figure out the aggregators for their country):
    Neustar Localeze
    TomTom MapShare Reporter

How To Move A Business on Apple Maps

  1. Update your address on your Apple Maps listing. If you don’t have an Apple Maps listing claim one on Apple Maps Connect.
  2. Update your address on Yelp, Acxiom, Neustar Localeze and any other relevant Apple Maps business listings providers.

On – 27 Mar, 2017 By Andrew Shotland


4 things to note when optimizing for local SEO in 2017 | Search Engine Watch

SEO for businesses in 2017 will be revolutionary.

Within the space of 3 years, it has become significantly easier to find businesses, stores or items nearby, creating a shift in user’s intent and search behavior.

Users no longer have to include their location in search queries, such as inputting “coffee shops in Queens” into Google.


This trend has given way to the “near me” search query – Google “coffee shop near me” while in Queens, and Google will fetch coffee shops in your local area.

According to digital marketing expert Jordan Kasteler, 1 in 3 of all Google searches has local intent. This means users search for and expect local information in SERPs, and now more than ever, priority should be given to optimizing on-site and off-site strategies for local SEO.

Below are a few things to note when optimizing for local SEO in 2017.

#1: Title tags and meta descriptions still work

Title tags and meta descriptions are on-site HTML elements which reflect the content of your page, and are shown in SERPs and browser tabs as text. With Google increasing the width of the SERP to 600px, the length of title tags falls between 40 and 50 characters (best practices) while meta descriptions should be a maximum of 160 characters.

Titles display what your page is about to both visitors and search engine crawlers, while meta descriptions summarize the content of your page. Your title tags and meta descriptions must include the keywords you are trying to rank for, for example, “cheap hotels in Las Vegas” (title tag includes a keyword and locality).

Titles and meta descriptions must be unique, compelling and descriptive, as this can affect click-through rates from search results to your page.

Using the length guidelines above, ensure your title and descriptions are displaying in full on the SERP. Use tools like Yoast’s SEO plugin, SERP preview tool, and SEOmofo to emulate how your title tags and meta description will look in search results.

#2: Keyword research

Keyword research represents the very foundation of your SEO campaign and when done properly, keywords can drive traffic and rankings for your web pages. Keywords represent terms and phrases people type as search queries to find local businesses.

Keyword research for local SEO involves optimizing your web pages for keywords with geo-modifiers – i.e. place names and locations. For a furniture making business, a generic, non-local keyword might be “furniture makers” but for businesses optimizing for local SEO, an acceptable keyphrase would be “furniture makers Portland” or “furniture makers Portland Oregon”.

To optimize your keyword research for local SEO, brainstorm keywords or phrases with a geo-modifier that customers might use when searching for a business like yours. Run generated phrases or words through Google Keyword Planner or to get keyword ideas together with monthly search traffic stats.

Keyword research can be time-consuming, but rewarding when done properly. For a more in-depth guide, check out our complete guide to keyword research for SEO.

#3: Optimize for Google My Business and Bing Places for Business

Google My Business, formerly known as Google Places, allows you to display your business hours, phone number and directions to your office on Google Search and Maps. This service is free and will aid your SEO efforts, as your business is listed when customers search for your services.

When optimizing your Google My Business page, remember to upload your business logo and photos of your business (staff, office building, etc.).

For an online business with no physical location, you can hide your address, but be sure to fill in and validate every other piece of information entered. A misplaced phone number or wrong address can result in you losing customers and revenue.

For Bing Places, the process is similar to Google My Business. Though Bing cannot be compared to Google in terms of use and search traffic (3.5 billion searches per day), some customers nevertheless still use the search engine, and you might have what they are in need of.

if(jQuery(window).width()>500){setSameHeight(‘.related-articles-middle .related-article’);setSameHeight(‘.related-articles-middle .related-articles-col’);}

#4: Local structured data

Structured data, sometimes referred to as schema markup, are codes which are added to websites to provide search engines with in-depth information about your products, your business offering, prices of your products, location-based offerings and much more.

According to ACMQUEUE, a measly 31.3 percent of websites use schema markup, and most of these on a very basic level. Schema markup on your websites make your business stand out in the SERP with things like rich snippets, which in turn will boost your CTR.

There are various options for businesses when implementing Schema markup, you can optimize your website according to your business type (dentist, travel agency, etc.), events (business listing in upcoming events) and location (location markup).

Google is forcing marketers to use schema markup and is rewarding websites who use this feature as structured data helps crawlers understand your web pages and the content in it. To check if your website is optimized for Schema markup, you can check out Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.


The above points are a drop in the ocean for optimizing for local SEO, but implementing the points above will have you generating results and better conversion rates.


Eimantas Balciunas is the CEO of Travel Ticker.

Want to stay on top of the latest search trends?

Get top insights and news from our search experts.

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On – 13 Apr, 2017 By Eimantas Balciunas


Improve local SEO with Google My Business • Yoast

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Mobile Ranking Factors 2017: Is Your SEO Mobile Friendly? – Search Engine Journal

After two decades of growth and development, mobile devices now bring the largest chunks of traffic to online businesses, and their influence is only going to expand further and further. That’s exactly the reason for Google’s switch to mobile-first: to open new possibilities in the art of website optimization. To seize them, we need to answer one question first: How does one improve website rankings with mobile SEO?

There are a number of factors which make your mobile website rank higher (or lower) in Google, and they can be safely divided into three major groups: technical, user experience and content. There’s an additional group for a few other factors that can’t be included into the previous three, but still deserve mention. To help you get better acquainted with them, the editorial team of WebCEO has composed this list below that describes the most important mobile ranking factors.

Technical Factors

Site Speed – GOOD

This will benefit your site.

Who doesn’t like fast-loading web pages? They are a treat regardless of what device you use to surf the net. However, users tend to show less patience than usual with handheld platforms.

According to a Mobile Ranking Factors study by Searchmetrics, the average loading time in the mobile top 10 is 1.10 seconds, and being only a tad slower (1.17 seconds on average) sends you further down in the top 30. The line separating successful sites from the poorly optimized ones is shockingly thin, wouldn’t you agree? By the way, if the site doesn’t load in 3 seconds, mobile users just close the browser’s tab.

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) – GOOD

This will benefit your site.

AMP’s secret is being light on their HTML and CSS code. It makes pages easily pre-renderable and cacheable for browsers, and as a result, they load 30 times faster than regular pages – basically, almost as soon as you click on the link. Thanks to this neat ability, AMPs have a positive effect not only on rankings, but on click-through rates as well. No wonder they show up in almost every Google search result: after all, they offer the best of the best user experience.

Flash – BAD

This will drag your site down.

Perhaps this issue will be addressed later in the future, but for now, most mobile browsers don’t support Flash content and thus can’t display it. Which is why it’s best to have none on your mobile site. Otherwise, not only can users not see what you wanted to show them, but you also risk a penalty from Google for hidden content.

Technical Errors – BAD

This will drag your site down.

This goes without saying. A webmaster who allows errors and bugs on their site has no respect for themselves, their work or their users. This isn’t even a matter of ranking high in search results… though of course, that’s also a factor to consider.

If your site has issues that need fixing, users are most likely to run into errors such as faulty redirects leading to the site’s desktop version and non-existing pages (good old 404 errors). Small problems can turn exploring your website into one big problem, so don’t take too long dealing with them. And big problems that are already there demand even swifter action.

User Experience Factors

Unordered Lists – GOOD

This will benefit your site.

Who would’ve thought that something as ordinary and common as a list of whatever things could affect your site in a positive way?

Google seems to reward mobile sites for having unordered lists even more generously than desktop sites. This is not surprising because a neatly organized list is easy to scan. However, rankings begin to fall when the lists have too many elements in them. Because a small screen can display only so much at a time, the golden number of bullets for mobile devices is 9.

Images – GOOD

This will benefit your site.

A picture is worth a thousand words. This old saying holds water in web design, as well.

Apart from being aesthetically pleasing to the human eye, images are also easier to perceive and leave a stronger impression on the viewer than raw text. It’s not surprising at all that visual media are an integral part of creating an enjoyable site. However, one must not forget how abundant content affects the site’s loading speed. Optimize your images to reduce their dimensions and file size and avoid using too many. On average, a single mobile page has 4 images.

Intrusive Interstitials – BAD

This will drag your site down.

Pop-ups are the most hated enemy of all Internet users, desktop and mobile. They can be shameless enough on a PC even when they ask for something as innocent as your subscription – now imagine the same on a mobile device. Its much smaller screen makes it a lot easier to obstruct a site’s content with a single annoying pop-up form. Google knows this, and so they have rolled out an update that will smack the more selfish website owners with a good penalty in rankings. The algorithm still needs some work, but I hope you know better than to underestimate Google.

Small Font – BAD

This will drag your site down.

“What is this? A web page for ants?”

If you’ve ever tried opening a desktop site on a handheld device, you probably had trouble reading its contents. That’s to be expected when a page made for your standard PC display is shrunk to a mere 540×960 pixels. For that reason, the logical solution is to use large (recommended value is 16 pt.) font on your pages – at least above the fold. That’s where the page’s headline is placed, and that’s where it must serve its purpose to get the visitors invested in the content below.

Small Touch Elements – BAD

This will drag your site down.

Do you use interactive elements on your site, like buttons or checkboxes? They shouldn’t be so small that the user’s finger has trouble pressing on them. Imagine the frustration from trying to hit a pixel on a screen and missing ten times in a row. What do you think will happen to your conversion rates if visitors can’t fulfil their goal on your site?

Missing isn’t the worst-case scenario, though; it could get much more dramatic. If small elements are placed next to each other, the user might press the wrong one and end up posting his or her credit card information online for all to see! A bit extreme, but for an example, it brings the point across nicely.

Internal Links – BE CAREFUL

Mobile pages tend to have around 75% fewer links on them than desktop pages. This is due to the limitations placed on their size and content in order to improve UX. In a similar manner to other interactive elements, avoid placing the links too close to each other, as it’s too easy for a human digit to slip.

Content Factors

Keywords and Related Phrases in the Body – GOOD

This will benefit your site.

While keywords are still important, no web page is free from the risk of being over-optimized. SEO is like chocolate: too much can and will poison you! This works with keyword presence in your content, too.

And the rule of thumb is simple. The longer the text, the more keywords and related terms it’s likely to have naturally. But mobile sites normally have shorter texts, so it would be strange for them to have as many keywords and phrases. Avoid over-optimization and keep it natural for the amount of words you have.

Keywords in External Links – BAD

This will drag your site down.

Internet marketing is a dog-eat-dog kind of world. Even after doing your SEO perfectly, you can still trip over your own two feet and fall face down in the dirt.

If you know how backlinks work and what kind of advantage they provide, it should be easy to see how this could work against you. If you are aiming to rank higher for certain keywords, don’t help other websites rank for them by putting your keywords into the anchor text that links out to them. Google might interpret an outbound link with a valuable keyword in it as indicating a source that is more relevant to the page’s topic than your own site.

Word Count – BE CAREFUL

While desktop sites remain ahead of mobile ones in terms of how many words per page they use, the mobile sites’ word count appears to be growing little by little. Curiously, a higher number of words places you further away from the top position in rankings, but URLs ranked worse than the top 10 have roughly the same text length as in the top 3.

Setting aside the confusing statistics, you should try to make your content rich by the mobile screen’s standards rather than the desktop’s. Between 700 and 1000 words is plenty.

Additional Factors

Social Signals – GOOD

This will benefit your site.

Rich social engagement provides a ranking boost for a site regardless of the platform. Users browse social networks on mobile, too. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t use this to your advantage.

An average user spends about 30 minutes a day on Facebook alone. Over 77% of all content shared via mobile goes through messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, making them an excellent platform for attracting visitors (through means such as newsletters, invitations or ad targeting). Don’t forget that social media’s primary purpose is communication, and communication equals feedback! You won’t find it in such abundance anywhere else.

Local Search Optimization – GOOD

This will benefit your site.

Local SEO is essential for every business with a brick-and-mortar location. Mobile devices can be taken anywhere with ease and thus are more often used for finding places (including places to shop). Putting these two facts together, mobile SEO will give your business an even stronger presence on the Web.

But you may get discouraged if you try to research the conversions. According to data from Q4 2016, desktop websites got a 26% cart conversion rate, while smartphones brought only 16%! What gives? Well, there’s a really simple explanation: it’s because the shoppers prefer to make purchases on a larger screen. They use a mobile device to find what they want and then switch to a desktop machine to enter payment information.

See how important it is to have a site tailored for each type of platform?

Are you ready to claim the top spot in mobile search results for yourself? Sign up for a 14-day free trial on WebCEO and check your website for over 20 mobile ranking factors right away!

Check your website against critical mobile ranking factors now!

The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own.

On – 18 Apr, 2017 By WebCEO [Partner]