Tag Archives: Google places

Why Google’s Geo Targeting in Local SEO is a Mess!

Why Google’s Geo Targeting in Local SEO is a Mess.

A research paper recently stated that search terms using a local intent keyword (the city, or zip, or major metropolitan area as examples) where decreasing by 10% over the last year. Part of this trend may have to do with the search engines doing a better job over the last few years of displaying local information based on where they assume the searcher is located. In that, a large problem exists.

Today Google thinks I am searching from Northglenn Colorado, while Bing thinks I am in Arvada Colorado. I am actually sitting in my home office in Lafayette Colorado. This can have a horrendous affect on my local searches, and I do a lot of local searches.

Here is the screen shot of my browser showing Northglenn as my location in Google.  To save time I am not showing the Bing Screen shot, but trust me it says and shows Arvada as my location. Note the location on the left side of the screen half way down.

Here is a Map of the Denver Metro area. Note that Lafayette (far north) is a long way (in local terms) from either Northglenn or Arvada. So, if I am searching for a local Plumber, or Chiropractic or Italian restaurant, Google and Bing will both show me results that are pretty worthless, unless I do add the local intent keyword (Lafayette).

 

I haven’t been able to find any great statistics (consistent) on the number of local searches with a local intent keyword, and those that just use the keyword alone. But the experts and my experience seems to call it about 50% of keyword searches for a local service will have a city in it.  What that tells you is 50% (or a large amount at any estimate) of searches for local services get poor results when it comes to the search engines local listings. Perhaps that’s why Google started using blended results so much more frequently over the last 18 months. They realized that many of the local searches where getting bad results.

Google guesses at your location by thinking you are where your ISP local router, wire box or POP (old telecom term) is. That’s why they think I am sitting in Northglenn. A city I never go to or through. A few months ago they thought I was in Thornton Colorado. So not only are they wrong, but they even change how wrong they are every now and then.

As a company that does a significant amount of Local SEO, and a piece of that being listings in Google Places (Or Google Plus for Business) Bing and Yahoo Local this can cause a real problem.

If my local client in Lafayette Colorado wants to be visible in Maps for their area, then in reality, we need to somehow get the site ranking in Maps for cities 12 miles away.  But that’s just for Comcast cable customers.  If you’re with another ISP they may have you in another city. Pulling your hair out yet?

So if Google is demanding accurate NPA information (as they should) for business listings don’t they then have a responsibility to provide accurate search information when someone searches for a local business?  Seems simple enough to do, they can have a statement on any search with local intent saying “We show your location as ______ (city).  If this is not correct click here to change your location settings.

Until then, both Local SEO companies and their clients need to be aware that a top Maps listing in their area, may only be getting served by the search engines in locations far- far away, and have very little value.  And we don’t even need to go into the Pay Per Click Ramifications, or at least save that for the next blog.

So, if you would do me a favor, feel free to add a comment below, and list the city you are sitting in, and then the city Google shows you in based on your browser.  This might be very interesting.

If we can help you as a business with your web visibility, or if you are an SEO as a sales consultant, please call me at 303 500 3053.

How to Sell SEO

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Google Plus for business (Places) Reviews Are Crap

Why Google reviews are crap.

Yes, I know, I am the one who for years has been promoting the importance of getting your customers (or your clients customers) to write reviews on your Google places page, now Google plus for business, and soon to be ???.  From a SEO stand point it has always been helpful, and more importantly from a on-line reputation concern.  But I recently returned from a long weekend with my wife and younger children to the Manitou Springs area of Colorado, and this has changed my view on how valuable Google reviews are.

Google 貼牌冰箱(Google Refrigerator)

Google 貼牌冰箱 ( Google reviews are crap)

You see, during the trip we took advantage of the touristy sites in the area, and they are many! Some lived up to their reputations while others didn’t. As a long time follower of Google reviews and other on-line reviews I found it odd that several of the attractions we visited seemed completely out of wack with the Google reviews we had read. And yes, I actually plan out the visit by looking into the things we want to do by checking reviews.

Today, as I did my duty as a Web Citizen, and went and wrote reviews on several review sites for the touristy places, the restaurants and the hotel we stayed at, I noticed an interesting trend. Now keep in mind, we didn’t go any where off the beaten track, these were your normal family go to places, and as a highly visited area of our great country, most of these places had a ton of reviews.

Image representing TripAdvisor as depicted in ...

Image via CrunchBase

The trend is, some of the places that had good Google reviews had very mid to low Tripadvisor.com over all reviews, and at least in our experience the Tripadvisor reviews seemed far more aligned with the actual experience, and the Google reviews seemed, well…  like they had reviewed the wrong place! And in several cases the tripadvisor reviews were good, and the Google reviews were bad…

Now if that was the inverse it might just be the old “people who have bad experiences have a tendency to write more reviews than those that write good reviews”.  But this was the opposite. So do people who write reviews on Google just have a propensity to be happier and nicer people who would never leave a negative comment?

City Hall in Manitou Springs, Colorado. In the...<<< ( That’s The Manitou Springs Chamber office)

My theory is far simpler, as I have a simple mind, (some might say a simpleton).

I think Google is just infested with fake reviews. Why? Because  it had become so important to small businesses that many made the decision to write their own reviews or entice others (and at times pay others) to write them for the business, a form of Internet prostitution if you will. I would even guess that Google knows this, and has taken extraordinarily stupid steps with their new review system to steam the tide, making it difficult to even get a real review published, and making it harder to understand the overall ratings by using a format that makes no darn sense to the average American when they acquired a restaurant review service, and applied it to every type local company. Insane? Details here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zagat

I was going to show you screen shots of it, but I want to stay on point, and that point is Google reviews are crap.

Now, should small businesses stop asking for Google Plus for Business reviews because Google reviews are Crap?  NO. You can’t. What has been created is a bit of a monster for businesses whose prospects search their services out on the Internet.  I do think we all need to complain and whine and do what ever we can to encourage Google to find a better way. I did a blog recently making the simply suggestion that Google verify reviewers the same way they verify business listings on Google places, through a postcard or phone call. I think that would go a long way in cleaning things up.

And frankly they may be doing the American public a great service if they just delete every review currently on Google places, send them to the respective business if they would like to post them on their site, and be ride of the problem for ever.

Can you tell I am upset over spending $75.00 at a tourist trap that (in my opinion) clearly either had false reviews, or completely insane customers who write delusional reviews after they get back to the hospital?

Now add into that the oddity that our hotel had pretty poor Google reviews, but pretty good tripadvisor and yelp reviews.  What’s that about? (I feel lucky not only because I married the most perfect woman on earth), but also because I read the tripadvisor reviews first.

I can only surmise that the Google reviews once again were written by the same bus load that stopped at the aforementioned tourist trap, or a competitor had these reviews posted, a nefarious tactic far more common than the public knows about, but will surely be uncovered more and more as time goes on.

So in closing, (thank god) as a consumer, check several sources for reviews. As a business encourage your customers to use several different on line review site. Tripadvisor, Yelp, Yahoo, Bing, City Search, Angies list and many more.  Spread the good word around the entire on-line community!

 

 

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Local Search Ranking Factors 2012

Search Engine Optimisation. Search Engine Opti...

Image by Hobo! via Flickr

Local Search Ranking Factors 2012

I know we are a bit early here, but I wanted to make one prediction about the annual local search ranking factors report that is published each year on the excellent blog about local search, at http://www.davidmihm.com

Local SEO’s love this report, and will invest a large amount of time reading and assessing each area they rate. I have always enjoyed reading the opinions of the some of the largest and best SEO firms in the world and comparing their thoughts on how important certain things are to your sites local ranking (Maps, places) to what I have seen over the year.

Question: H0w Important are Citations to ranking?

citation needed

Traditional the consensus has always ranked “Citations” as one of the most important ranking factors.  Once you get past the obvious factors of the address, claiming a listing, and the categories you use, it’s the top dog!  And in 2009 I think that was true.

Answer: Citations just are not very important any more!

Here is my prediction, and the reason behind it. The number and quality of Citations ranking factor will drop from very important to just important, maybe as low as number 8 on the top 10 factors.  Now here is my opinion based on what I have seen and bloged about for a year.

Citations are close to meaningless for ranking factor.  And all of the local SEO companies who are still chasing citations are 14 months behind the curve.  All of this changed in October 2010 and has continued to change with all the panda updates through out 2010.   Today, your local rankings are based  98% on the same factors that you use in organic search Engine optimization, once you get past the already stated  factors of having a local listing, and making sure you fill it out correctly.

Chasing the wrong stuff for local SEO

In a nutshell, it’s not a citation that makes any difference, it’s the quality of the page that listing and link (if included) is on. A very well respected SEO blog (and deserving so) recently published the top 100 (I think, may have been 200) citation sites.  So today and next week, and next year local seo’s will be taking their clients money and using a bunch of these “Top 100”  to try and increase their clients ranking. What a waste.

In the vast majority of cases, Google only looks at the page the citation is on and that specific pages value, not the domain.  So when your site is listed on (Pick one of the top so named citation sites) if the page your site is on has no or low P.A. value (Page authority as published by SEOmoz) or any of the other page quality tools you want to use that look at number of inbound links, and number of out bound, SEO juice from the other pages, and all that) then you have wasted your time. The bad news is the vast majority of the “top Citation Sites” fall into a low or no PA value for the page you end up listing on, and right now, because the mainstream SEO’s have not caught up to this lot’s of businesses are wasting a portion of their dollars on tactics that have not worked since 2009.

So why would I publish this, when my competitor’s read this blog, and it can be a great help in their business?  Because I truly do believe that what helps one business helps all businesses, and that the small business clients they have will benefit through this information.

But then again, I could be wrong, as most everything in SEO is an opinion. I do feel confident in this information, as since we changed our strategies and tactics to reflect the new local search world, we have seen a 100% first page top 3 ranking for every client.

Help me, help you, help me, help you.


 

If we can help you as either a business seeking a better Internet strategy, or a small SEO looking for addional help or support, please contact me through our site, or call me directly at 303 500 3053 ext 1

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The Difference Between Local SEO and Organic SEO?

 

Google Logo officially released on May 2010

What’s the difference between Local SEO and Organic SEO?

Before October 17th 2010 it was a clear distinction, but on that date (in Denver Search Engines Results
anyway) Google began merging search engine rankings between the Local Maps and the organic
results. Some search terms that the day before had returned the traditional 7 pack,  now had a few
organic results listed above the Maps, and some had a mix of maps and organic.

We have been researching how your organic rankings relate to your maps rankings recently in our
attempt to get  further understanding of what really determines Google places rankings. We know there
are lots of factors of course.  You can read about them all over the Internet. The common factors being
claim your profile, complete your profile, get good citations.

Yet, we have found several highly ranked places listings that have no citations, partially completed
profiles, and don’t seem to represent the common understanding of why a listing would be highly
ranked. One doesn’t even have a web site.

So we are comparing the highest ranked Places accounts in average to very competitive categories.
We are using the sites SEOmoz page authority as the organic score.  The theory is, if great on site SEO
scores are the major factor in Google places rankings.  Before October 2010, this was not the case.

We will be publishing some of the results as we get a broader base, from multiple cities, and keyword
categories.  In the early view there appears to be very little doubt that your SEOmoz score is a huge
indicator of your places rankings. We are looking into how your “categories”  relate to your rankings as
well. (An early hint is, not as much as you think) SEO News

Lot’s of data points to look at, and the first run we are keeping it simple.  SEOmoz page authority
compared to Places ranking and a few other tidbits.

There are some early surprises.  Where we do see a consistent  correlation between SEOmoz rank and
Places rankings, there are some glaring exceptions, and those are the situations we are most interested
in.

We will keep you posted on results as we understand them.

 

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The Difference Between First and Third in Rankings

Google

The most recent studies show that a web site ranked first for a keyword on a search engine will receive about 38% of all the clicks. The site in the third position gets about 8%.  Many  businesses are happy with rankings below the first or second position. If you are one of those, think of the revenue value of just moving up a few positions! You could increase your Internet sales 400%  by going to the next level.

How to move up in the rankings.

Moving from fourth to second can be a much greater move than even moving from the tenth page to the first.  Those top two positions are generally very competitive, and the site owners in many cases have an SEO firm working every month to keep those positions.

One of the most affordable ways to make that move is using our starter SEO plan if you are a local business.  Or if you are in a hurry to triple your on line sales and revenues, a custom SEO assessment and program.

Subscribe to our Starter SEO package, even if your on the first page!  We guarantee your rankings will improve.  More Information here Starter SEO packages.

Just subscribe today to get started or call us at 303 500 3053 ext 1 for a free ranking assessment. We are  A+ rated on the Better Business Bureau!

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Google Places Reviews and Rankings

There is far more to Local SEO in for Google places than just the ranking of your web site. The reality is, even if your site is in the first or second position for three of four keywords, you will still end up in the 3rd or 4th position for other relevant keywords.

 

Take our Friends At Vivax Pro Painting. Their site is ranked in the first or second position for just about every search you can imagine related to house painting ______ < add a city around Denver. But for a few searches they fall to 4th or so.

They still will get a high percentage of the clicks for one reason They have 6 reviews  and therefore have the “Stars”  on the SER places listing. This will draw people to click. If they had 2 reviews, or none, they wouldn’t stand out, and would lose about 75% of the possible clicks to their site because they are in the 4th position. The first three listings will get about 85% of clicks in a all things being equal situation. But by providing the searches with something that clearly makes your listing stand out, you can pick up a larger share of clicks, and therefore customers.

LOCAL SEO’s who focus only on rankings are not doing the best job they can… and their clients may be losing out on revenue.

That’s way we provide a turn key system to clients to get their customers to go to and review their services on Google and other important sites. It’s not SEO, it’s PR  and conversion tactics.

 

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Google Places Local Citation Sites

Google Local Citation Sites

We get a lot of questions about what sites to add that are good for Google Local Citations. Even with the recent changes to Google Places (not showing citations anymore) there is a considerable amount of belief that adding a “citation” link to your back link’s can be helpful in your Google Places rankings.

In our experience, adding sites for the primary purpose of gaining a citation had lost most of its value last year. We don’t make this statement out of simple opinion, but based on assessing local web sites places rankings for over 4 years.

For a brief time we thought Google may have just stopped indexing the deep pages associated with many of the common citation sites people would use. An example may have been a listing on Merchant Circle. Merchant Circle was built around (according to their PR) getting a local site ranked higher and bringing it more local traffic. I am not picking on them, there are hundreds of on line yellow page sites, and directories that web masters, SEO’s and others used for adding citations and trying to boost their sites rankings in Local directories. The truth seems to be; today those sites have almost no value in bring your local site traffic or rankings!

But Google does continue to index these pages. One difference between a year ago and now (August 2011) is many of these citations don’t show up as a link in our back link reports. And it’s not that we use just one back link reporting tool, we use 5 different tools, because you get different information from each, depending on their methodology on how they acquire the back links to a site. We also do manual checks to as a final scrub so to speak. So those lead us to looking at it in a different light. That being, more from a link value stand point, than a citation value.

So what happened?  And how can we learn from it.

Our opinion is pretty simple and falls in line with the basic principle that Google is looking for the best quality sites for a keyword search. We think this started in the Local search area with last October’s update when Google changed significantly how a Local Maps listing was ranked, by blending the organic ranking factors into the Maps results, or to be more accurate, by weighting those factors far more heavily.  And these local ranking factors have continued to evolve with the Panda updates this year.

Here is our thought. Pre Google changes the domain authority of the site you had a citation or link on was far more important than it is today, with the Page authority having less importance.  Let’s take a completely made up model of that.

Your link appears on a P.R. 7 site.  ( I know PR is not the metric to use and we don’t, but it’s the commonly understood vernacular of basic SEO) and your site appears on a page that has no external links to it or any real ranking authority of it’s own.  In the old days it was clear your site still received some value based on the domain authority.  Lets call it a formula like this. Link value equals: ( Domain Authority / 2 )+( Page authority / outbound links on page).  DO NOT TRY AND ANALYZE THIS FORMULA. I made it up and its only supposes to show that the domain had a higher influence on the Link value.

We think today Google is primarily looking at the page authority of your link or citation, and has discounted significantly the added value of the Domain Authority (P.R., or SEOmoz  DA) .  So a link or citation is as good as the Page it’s on, not the Domain it’s on.

Is it really this simple? No!  Those people at Google are smart as a whip as my Mom use to say (I still don’t get that saying,  or was it sharp as a whip, or tack? )  But for those of us who work on web visibility and promotion, it’s a good guide, and it’s working for us.

And it is in complete harmony with Google’s public position on why sites rank well. More on that statement later.

Like all opinions on what makes a web site rank well, this is just an opinion.  It does seem to be proving accurate to the extent we can test it with our web promotion programs. We would love to hear from others on what they see as important ranking factors.  Remember our Golden Rule of SEO.  If you would take a certain action irregardless of how it will affect your sites ranking, and only because it will give your site better traffic and visibility, it’s a good thing to do. If you are taking an action solely for the perceived value it will bring in your sites ranking, it’s not going to help long term.

P.S. (Bad news for all those marketing companies promoting that they will add a link to your site on 100 P.R. 7 blogs for $7.00.  huh?

Want to discuss this, or get more information?  Call us or contact us http://www.salesjumpstart.net Or if you are really interested in doing (or are doing) SEO  you may want to join our web optimizers club http://www.salesjumpstart.net/joinweboptimizersclub.html

 

 

 

 

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Google places in Denver

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Having your site rank highly in Google places is important. Many of the traditional (if one can use that term)  tactics for SEO help a great deal.

 

One of the big differences is with organic SEO you can truly target many keywords. In maps, Google will decide what search terms get a map and which do not. So organic seo will help with a lot of search terms even if Google does not show a map.

 

In searches where a Map is displayed, you will need to have a Google places account, and it is smart to claim it, and fill it out, so when prospects go to the places page, they will want to contact you.

Here are some Google places accounts we have helped with in Denver:

 

Stellar energy Contractors, different divisions.

Solar

Roofing

Electric

Home Insulation

Denver Basements

Alsco-Cardinal Home Improvements

I-legal E discovery

If you are in the DIY mode…  visit www.getlisted.org.  or contact us for professional help

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Google places change again… (Yawn)

Local SEO ExampleGoogle places has made some changes to what is displayed in your businesses Google places account.  Gone are the reviews from other than Google places users, although it will still show the links and number of reviews found on other review site (Yelp, Insider pages, and mores)

They also have removed the long studied (by local SEO firms) citations at the bottom of the page. Many bloggers are calling this a major blow to local SEO firms.  They base this on old and outdated local SEO tactic where a SEO would research the Citation sites found on the top ranked local maps competition and use those citations to get ranking for a client.  Frankly, that has not worked since fall of 2010. (Our estimate)

As we have been blogging about from time to time, Local SEO changed last October, when Google decided to mix both a sites organic rankings and Maps placement.  We had always used both Local directories as well as organic SEO to get our clients better Internet visibility, but for the “Local SEO” firms that where just using Local only tactics, the changes must have had a negative effect on client rankings.

So what do yesterdays changes mean to Local SEO?  Nothing. It’s still  the same premise.  Do great promotion and visibility programs for your site.  Don’t try to keep up with every change Google makes (it will drive you crazy),  just use sound marketing and promotion principles to get the right people to your site.

As this post is getting a great deal of attention and is ranked number 1 on Google for “Google places Changes”  I thought I should add some additional content that might be of use to someone interested in the subject.  I am assuming you are either a SEO or a business owner manager involved in the on-line promotion of your site?

Best current Local Maps (Google places) promotional tactics.

First, don’t fall in love with Maps.  Organic SEO on local intent SER can do as much if not more for you. Remember only 30%-60% of searchers are searching with a local intent term. The others are being served local sites because Google assumes they are looking for a local company.

Second.  Citations are dead. This is my opinion, but watching and assessing rankings for new clients seems to strongly suggest that  building the old Citation links and mentions is a complete waste of time. Only add your site to local directories that will actually bring you traffic!  Here is our YES list:  Yelp, Angie’s, local Better Business Bureau, and your chamber.  Also any niche directory’s with less than 10 0r 15 listings can be very valuable.  Don’t pay for listings!

Third. In the beginning your physical address has as much to do with your local ranking as anything. The address of your company and its proximity to what Google considers “city center” is a huge factor. Also, make sure your address(s) are displayed on your home page and contact page. As your site gains better trust and SEOmoz page authority your physical address will become less of a factor. Make sure Google knows what cities you service by using your Google places account, and mention this on your site.

Fourth. Using SEOmoz page authority as your guiding light is the best method for improving your rankings on Maps and organic. Combine the other tactics I am talking about with high quality back linking and content is the only way to improve your rankings that I see consistently work.

Fifth. Link’s and mentions from other local site’s are highly respected with Google.  Get your associates to mention you on their sites. Sponsor a local charities page, write real reviews of your local vendors that they can post on their site (include your Company Name Address and Phone, as well as your www if they will do that.

Eight.  Domain names matter. So do Company names. Yes, I understand that if you have been in business 10 years you can not change your name,  domain and address. Or can you?  If it’s a new campaign, go ahead and start with a keyword based domain name.

Nine. No follow links are good.  You hear a lot that no follow links pass no link juice (or whatever).  The point is to get your site promoted, so if a site is no follow, but can bring you good traffic, use it!  Twitter, Face book, most wordpress blogs are no follow, but have great traffic and, do you really thing Google is just blindly following the instructions of the site owner for what link is trustworthy and what link is not? Please.

Ten.  If you are going to work on your sites ranking and visibility, you are going to need to put in the time to do it. Figure an hour a day for 3 months. That’s 60 hours of sometimes productive, and many times non productive time, some one has to invest.

And then the golden rule: No one thing is going to put you in the top of a Google Places  search. I think you would agree, that all of the tactics I talk about are just good old fashion P.R. and promotion. Use this mind set… the P.R. mind set, what can I do to get my site (businesses/services) seen and noticed by the largest group of prospects possible.  And once I am noticed, what is it they are going to experience?

Putting all this work into a poorly developed site is a pretty big mistake, I had three restaurants I owned years ago and did a BIG radio promotion selling any thing on the menu for .79 cents on a Saturday morning. It was a disaster of course, we had a line out the door, and ran out of half our items. Service was slow, and the product went out lousy.  Not only did the promotion not work, it hurt us!

As in life, as in SEO ” above all, do no harm”

The best SEO advice?  Build content your prospects want to see.

If you are interested in doing your own SEO, or are a SEO looking for a little help, you may want to check out our web optimizer club

 

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Local Search Engine Optimization Changes

SEO in Denver ClientRecently there has been a great deal of discussion on the SEO forum’s and professional sites about how the Google Map rankings are changing.

We have been watching it very closely, and in a nut shell, the big difference between how you places account was ranked last year, and how they seem to get ranked this year is this:

Google places rankings now are based more on organic SEO  than maps criteria. There are two elements that remain important that were and are unique to Places. First, and I know this sounds  like I don’t have to say it, but you need to list your company in Google places if you are not there now, and fill out the profile with good categories.  Two, the address of your business as it relates to the city center still is important.

After that, We use to add a bunch of known citation sites. Most of those don’t even show up as a citation any more, and many don’t even show up as a link.  I wouldn’t forget citations, but I would down grade their importance a bunch.

Now it’s all about standard organic optimization.  Get your home page up to speed (easy)  and then add quality content to your site, and then add links from quality popular sites.

The best way we have found to determine how strong your site is (from an SEO prospective) is to use the free tool bar from www.seomoz.com If some or all of this is above your head, but you want to learn, SEOmoz is a great resource, as is SEO book  and Majestic SEO.

Once you have it downloaded it will give you a Page Authority rank for any page you are on.  It’s called PA  and you need to see how the sites that are ranking above you ranked on PA, and then look at yours.

Many sites that have had very little attention will be around a 10 PA.  In most local categories you will need a 25 to 40  PA for your site to get on the front page.  You can learn how to add ranking to your site at any of the sites I listed above.  I use the rule of thumb that you will need 10 hours SEO to get from 20-30, and 40 hours more to move from 30 to 40.  If you follow with that logic you are looking at 120-160 hours to move from 40 to 50. And of course, if you are a beginner Triple the time, as you will  be learning as you go.

Most SEO companies charge at least $100  to $150. an hour.  If you do the math, you can then decide if SEO is  viable  option for your business.  We have other options as well, including SEO management consulting, where we work with your employee to work through an SEO program.  And we do the complete SEO programs for you as well.

If your interested in Doing your own SEO work, you may want to look at joining our Web Optimizers club. It makes your life easier

 

 

 

 

 

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