Monthly Archives: December 2015

6 of Our Favorite Tips for Optimizing Your Website

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SEO Optimize Keywords Links Signpost Showing Website Marketing OptimizationIt’s never too late to turn your efforts to website optimization. With the number of mobile searches now bypassing desktop searches and 95% of smartphone users reporting that they have looked for local information (Source: The Mobile Movement Study, Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT), every day is the time to seize the day and get your website up to search engine standards.  The good news is that optimizing your website isn’t that complicated if you know what you’re doing—and have the time to devote to your website optimization.

Write for your audience.

We feel like broken records with this tip, but there’s a reason why ‘knowing your audience’ is the number one rule of marketing. Knowing your audience is key to success when planning social media posts, delving into email marketing, planning a brochure, and creating optimized content for your audience.

Once you know who you are audience is, write for them. Use a brand voice appropriate for your audience, and select topics and key words they would use in their online searches. For example, if you run a pet store, you might write a blog post focused around the right dog food for their pet. As you write, think about your audience and what they would want to know. Include keywords and topics relevant to their query in your quality content.

Don’t focus entirely on search engines.

You’re trying to get to the top of Google, Yahoo, and Bing, so your efforts should be focused on optimization entirely for the search engines, right? That’s what many a business owner thinks, then wonders why their conversion rates are not increasing. If you want customers to visit your site, and buy from you, write your content for them—not just for the search engines. For example, while you should use keywords in your content for optimal results (here’s a great article on how to choose your keywords), writing an article stuffed full of the same keywords turns readers off and kills your chance to convert.

It’s never too early to think about site structure (and mobile users).

The structure of your website is an integral part of search engine optimization, so plan ahead. Start thinking about optimal site structure when building a new website, or find a company that does. Some of the items on your checklist should be: optimized URLs, pages that are easily shareable, relevant content, strong images and video, excellent title tags, mobile-friendly features. You read that last item right; use of mobile devices is not going away, and it is not going to decrease. Plan accordingly.

Don’t stop optimizing.

Once you’ve built an optimized website, don’t let your efforts end there. Websites with regular, high quality, updated content get better results with the search engines. What does that mean for your business? You need to deliver customer-focused, optimized content that speaks to your audience and contains excellent images and videos. If you don’t think you have the time or knowledge to deliver, contact an online marketing company that can create optimized content on a regular basis (called content marketing). Once you’ve contracted with the company, do them (and yourself) a favor: stay involved. Schedule regular contacts with the company so you can give them topics relevant to your company and feedback or questions that you hear from your customers during daily business operations.

Embrace SEO technology.

One of the most common misnomers we hear is that businesses only need optimized writing to get to the top of search engines. We wish it was true (how easy would that be?), but unfortunately it’s not. Getting to the top of search engine rankings is dependent on the structure of your site, updated content, optimized writing, and utilizing the right search engine strategy. For companies targeting customers across the United States, the right SEO plan is a national SEO strategy without any local focus. If your business is a brick-and-mortar location focused on growing a local customer base, contact a company focused on localized SEO. Localized SEO technology targets customers in your preferred areas, earning your company the top spot for customers searching for a local business that can solve their problem.

Be flexible.

Today’s SEO is not your grandma’s game of stuffing a page full of the same keyword. In fact, those kind of old-school SEO tactics, and black hat SEO tactics, can get your website penalized and kick your company off the digital map. Like most online marketing tools, SEO is a freight train running down the tracks. As search engines implement updates to improve user experience, be ready to adapt your marketing efforts and adopt best-use practices to get to the top of search engine results.

Of course, if you find you don’t have time (or the expertise) to use all these tips, you can always outsource your online marketing. You’ll get optimal results…without having to understand all the website optimization techniques, and without having to stay up to date on the latest updates in search engine optimization.

6 Items on Every Social Media Marketers’ List for Santa

santa holding wish listContrary to the popular holiday song, we’re not looking for front teeth from Santa this year; from talking to our clients and other social media marketers, we know we’re not alone in wanting more than pearly whites. The only kind of teeth social media marketers want is the metaphorical kind—the knowledge and tools that can give their brand an edge on our evolving social media networks. We’ve compiled a list of the basic “teeth” that every social media marketer should want from Santa to get maximum results on social media:

Awesome images & video

You know what words make us—and any marketer—cringe? “I just used whatever photos I could find on the internet.” Ugh. Just because a photo is on the internet does not give you the legal right to use that image.

Studies have consistently shown that social media posts and tweets with images have an edge over text only. GREAT images—not just mediocre ones—are a must in your social media marketing toolbox, making this one of our top items on any social media marketer’s list for Santa. If your business is on Instagram or Pinterest, take note: your great images should also be high resolution pictures.

Good scheduling tool

social media sites behind smart phoneA good scheduling tool is worth its weight in gold; we love our scheduling tool and would recommend this be one of the top items of your list for Santa. There are a few different scheduling tools to choose from; tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer can help you manage your profiles and schedule posts.

Once you’ve found your favorite, use these tips:

  1. Always make sure you read and check suggested content before you tweet it out.
  2. Don’t schedule too far ahead of time so you can stay on top of trending topics.
  3. Be flexible with your plan when needed.
  4. Create posts specific for the social media platform (i.e. adapt a tweet specifically for Facebook, avoid tweeting to LinkedIn, etc.) for optimal results.

Focus

There are a couple of different kinds of focus social media marketers want from Santa:

  1. the ability to focus efforts on the social media channels that fit their customer demographic for better results;
  2. a single-minded approach that keeps their efforts productive, even among all the social media distractions.

Knowing what social media site fits your brand (check out this infographic to match your customer demographic with the right social media platform) is almost as important as what you put on those social media channels. It’s a waste of your time as a business owner when you’re spending time on a social media site where your customers are not. If you need insight in this area, and on how to use the latest information for your purposes, contact a marketing firm that offers social media marketing services. We’ve said it before: there’s no shame or blame in placing your marketing in experts’ hands.

As for staying focused among the million distractions that come with social media, a social media scheduling tool is a good start; a social media marketing plan is more effective. If your business doesn’t have a written plan for your online marketing efforts, we’d recommend making it a New Year’s resolution for a better New Year.

Ability to see into the future

We think any social media marketer would love to see into the future, Santa. What’s the next hot social media channel? What are customers looking for in the future? Obviously, one of the biggest trends that is only going to grow in demand is meeting the needs of mobile customers. This is a continual process, but make sure that you are posting mobile-friendly content on social media.

Higher organic reach on Facebook

We know we’re reaching on this one, but any chance you could make this happen, Santa? Facebook’s declining organic reach has long been a sore spot for businesses trying to connect with their clients.

Goals

digital marketing conversion chart If you’re a company that jumped on social media without a goal or goals, it’s not too late to set a goal for next year (another New Year’s resolution). Once you’ve set those goals, prove your worth by measuring your results with metrics. Did you get more email addresses as part of your campaign? More messages? An increase in sales during your last campaign?

How do you get results from your evaluations? By taking those numbers, judging the effectiveness of your goals, and adjusting your efforts for the future. The result is…results. Relationship building. Conversions. In short, the number one item on every social media marketers’ list for Santa.

5 Common SEO Misunderstandings that Drive Us Crazy

seo misunderstandings graphic confusionWe would argue that search engine optimization (SEO) may be the most misunderstood tool in digital marketing today.  Everyone knows about social media marketing, and content marketing and email marketing have gained in popularity.  The tool that’s left out—the black sheep of digital marketing—is not as well known and buried in piles of SEO myths that aren’t true.

We’ve come across a few of these misunderstandings about SEO, and we have a confession to make: they make us crazy. If they’re not completely wrong, they cling to a morsel of truth that grew from a disreputable SEO practice.  It’s not anyone’s fault, really, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t try to clear up a few of the most popular SEO misunderstandings that we encounter on a regular basis.

SEO is ONLY about writing

We’ll say this up front: there is great value in optimized content on your website. Whenever you write content for your site, or your blog, you need to strategically optimize. This does not mean filling a page with the same keyword, or using the word so much in your text that your users are repulsed. It does mean creating content that people want to read, and using tips to optimize that content for the search engines before and during your writing.

However, there is more to SEO than writing. There is a technological side to SEO that the average user cannot tackle on their own. Your website development company should start this process when building a new website and a SEO company can take your website optimization from there. SEO companies use their unique technology to achieve results for a company. It can be done. We know it, because we’ve done it for numerous companies.

SEO is underhanded

Just the mention of the word “SEO” can bring to mind common black-hat SEO tactics: keyword stuffing, cloaking, link manipulation. Those tactics have tainted the image of SEO and spurred a host of misunderstanding about search engine optimization. SEO is always evolving; today’s effective SEO is not your grandma’s game of stuffing a page full of the same keyword. In fact, those kind of old-school SEO tactics, and black hat SEO tactics, can get your website penalized and kick your company off the digital map.

Today’s SEO revolves around quality content, effective technology, and optimized site structure. We know that sounds like a mouthful—a list of terms that you don’t have time for when managing a business. Contact a SEO company who can make sure your website has all the elements of an optimized website so you can manage all the users who visit and order from your site.

SEO is a one-time only feat

“There,” you think, “I’ve invested in this website. Customers come and find me!” Unfortunately that’s not how it works; creating an optimized website is only the start of your efforts. Search engines and your customers want fresh, updated quality content on a regular basis. Just the mere mention of those words brings shudders to many managers and owners, and we completely understand why. Quality content is a long-term commitment, as well as the efforts to promote that content (i.e. social media, email marketing, etc.). If you don’t have time, outsource your optimization efforts to a company that can.

SEO is only for national companies that sell online

Local search engine optimization technology can get you in front of search engine listings in towns and cities within a 10, 20 or 50 mile radius. Even if you don’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, integrating search engine optimization into your marketing strategy can drive potential customers to your brick-and-mortar location. With more than 90% of users turning to search engines for information, local SEO technology can get your business website in local potential customers’ organic search engine listings using long-tail keywords your audience searches for. Statistics don’t lie: 54% of Americans have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books (comScore), and a startling 95% of smartphone users have looked for local information (Source: The Mobile Movement Study, Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT , Apr 2011).

We are not Google

We don’t know where this idea came from, but this misconception comes up in conversation with business owners and managers from time to time. Search engine optimization revolves around creating content and structure for the search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo)—which is what we do—but we are not Google. We get results on Google for our clients, but you don’t have to be a search engine, or work within a search engine company, to get those top results.