Category Archives: Search engine optimization

5 Must Haves of Every Online Marketing Plan

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Puzzle Squares On Smartphone Shows Pieces of Online MarketingWhen we were coming up with a title for this post, the logical choice was ‘5 essential elements of an internet marketing plan.’ Though logical, that title didn’t strike us as strong enough—not nearly strong enough to emphasize how much owners and managers need these must-haves to achieve online marketing results.  No one is going to find out about your website just from its mere existence (called the ‘if we build it, they will come’ phenomena).  Your business MUST have a solid internet marketing plan with all the essential elements that drives customers to your online presence—and converts them to paying customers.

Solid website

A solid website seems like a given; after visiting thousands of sub-par websites, we’re here to tell you that isn’t true.  Your online marketing efforts should revolve around your customers (not what you want them to know, but what they want to know) to drive traffic to your website.  Without a solid website for customers to land on and use, all your online marketing efforts are going to result in a big goose egg.  A solid website includes:

  • Text your English teacher would approve (i.e. no spelling errors, typos, grammatically correct),
  • Excellent user experience (clear call-to-actions, user-friendly navigation, etc.),
  • Design targeted toward your primary audience,
  • Mobile-friendly features and option,
  • Easy-to-read content written specifically for your audience,
  • Loading speed,
  • Quality images,
  • Contact information.

It’s important to note that you need all of these elements when building a solid website.  We’ve all seen websites that have some of these elements but not other key parts; we’d strongly recommend you go down this checklist and make sure your website checks off all the boxes.  If it doesn’t, find a company that can build a solid, customized website for your company—and provide all the services that go into a high-quality website (professional writing, design, security, etc.)

SEO

SEO Optimize Keywords Links Signpost Showing Website Marketing Optimization road sign for local seoSearch engine optimization is creating an optimal website and content for search engines to rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). There are many different ways to optimize your website, but here are some of general, basic ways:

  • Adding regular and fresh user-friendly web pages/content targeted for your primary audience
  • Using search engine optimization tactics such as writing strong, accurate headlines and building an optimized website structure
  • Hiring a search engine optimization firm to optimize your website and use specialized SEO technology to target your local customers and get to the top of their search engine list.

Local search engine optimization technology can get you at the top of organic search engine listings in local towns and cities. Even if you don’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, integrating search engine optimization technology is an essential part of reaching local customers searching for information and services. More than 90% of users turn to search engines for information, and local SEO technology—like KD Interactive’s—can get your business website at the top of local organic search engine listings using long-tail keywords your audience searches for.

Content Marketing

blog at center of targetContent marketing is creating and sharing content relevant to your customers. One of the most effective content marketing tools we have found is a blog. A blog is a website filled with content, such as written articles, videos, photos, podcasts, infographics—the possibilities are endless.

The goal of content marketing is to build trust. In the past, this trust was earned over the phone or in person. Now, customers are using search engines to find information. Excellent content marketing delivers the information your customers are searching for on the internet (on search engines and on social media), and gives them links to find more out about products, and to contact your business. A second part of this goal is that regular content builds trust with search engines. By posting regular blog posts, you are showing search engines that your content is updated, quality and relevant—three criteria they use to rank websites for search engine users.  If you don’t have time to maintain a regular content marketing schedule, contact a company that can produce professional content specific to your business and targeted at your customers. We’ve said it before: there’s no shame or blame in outsourcing. Remember that you still need to allocate time to give input.

Content should be shared via social media, email marketing, as guest posts on other blogs, even as customer service when a question is asked.

Social Media Marketing

social media sites behind smart phoneSocial media marketing is using a social media network (or networks) as a way to communicate with your customers and potential customers, and for them to communicate with you through posts, comments, and reviews. Social media marketing gives your business these benefits:

  • Ability to provide excellent and prompt customer service. Studies show that customers expect a response within two hours, and that number is dropping. Respond promptly, because studies also repeatedly show that customers come back to businesses who have delivered quality customer service in the past—even if their product or service costs more than competitors.
  • Unsolicited testimonials. Customers can leave reviews or comments about your products on your social media sites. Obviously, these reviews can go both ways, but you can also turn those negative comments into a positive. Start by not deleting negative comments or reviews. Instead, embrace the opportunity to show your business can provide excellent customer service. If the reviewer is particularly angry, use these tips to defuse the situation.
  • Chance to sell your products and services. We’ve seen businesses where customers messaged to set up appointments. We’ve seen other customers comment on pictures on social media and tag their friends because they really like the product.

When choosing what social media network to join, determine what networks your customers are on. Factor in the amount of time and commitment you have for social media.  Automation tools can help with this process, but don’t overuse social media automation.   Be real on social media and avoid the common social media marketing ‘traps’ that some businesses fall in.  A solid social media presence consists of regular posts (the definition of regular is dependent upon the social media network), relevant resources, and prompt replies to customers questions and comments (excellent customer service).  To check all those criteria off your list, designate a staff member (or company) adequate time to devote to your efforts.

Email Marketing  

Statistics have repeatedly shown that using emails to communicate with your customers and potential customers gets results. A staggering 66% of online users made a purchase as a result of email marketing. To get started in email marketing, you need emails of interested customers and good email marketing program.  Don’t send out thousands of emails from your company server.

To get the best results out of your email marketing, don’t buy random email lists.  Spam emails are a sure turn-off for customers and potential customers. Instead, compile a strong email list by:

  • Offer your customers a one-time discount if they sign up for your email list.
  • Train every salesman or staff member to incorporate a request for a prospect’s email address in their sales pitch in-store or at tradeshows.
  • Add an opt-in option for customers making on-line purchases.
  • Create a social media contest, and include an honest request for their email in the contest.

Craft emails with all the elements of a essential email marketing piece:

  • Truthful, eye-catching email subject line.
  • Strong media, videos, and visuals.
  • Craft a strong call-to-action (CTA).

Online Marketing Diagram Shows Blogs Websites Social Media And Email ListsIntegration

For optimal results, integrate all your online marketing efforts into a regular, coordinated internet marketing plan.  Start with a strong, optimized website with search engine optimization, and create a blog with topics that drive traffic back to your website.  Finally, create a schedule in-line with your business cycle that promotes your content (email marketing, social media marketing) and your website. Test out what email captures your audience’s attention, keeps it, and drives them to purchase.

20 Things You Can Learn from Our 20 Years of Marketing

20 Target Showing Anniversary of our Experienced Marketing CompanyCue drum roll.

We’re been around for 20 years. That’s right, we’ve provided 20 years of marketing services. In those 20 years, we’ve learned a thing or two (or three or 20 or…).  We could write a novel about how marketing (and online marketing) has evolved over the years, but everyone loves a list (it is one of the most popular content marketing ideas). We’ve found that one of the most important services we can provide is educating our clients…so here it goes: 20 concepts about search engine optimization, email marketing, social media and content marketing you can use in your online marketing efforts.

  1. Online marketing ALWAYS changes.
  2. Knowing your audience has, and always will be, the #1 rule of marketing. It’s also the key to success.
  3. Small businesses can achieve BIG results on an affordable budget. Don’t assume an online marketing company is too expensive.
  4. There’s no shame or blame in outsourcing your company’s marketing. Many a marketing effort has, and will, fail because of a manager or owner with good intentions.
  5. There are do’s and don’ts of outsourcing that every company manager or owner should understand if they want to get marketing results.
  6. The best inspiration for your marketing can be found with the people who interact with your customers.
  7. Search engine optimization is always evolving (it’s not dead, just evolving). This is one SEO myth that drives us crazy—among others.
  8. Not all search engine optimization technology is created equal.
  9. Design your website for your audience (see #2) and optimize your site for search engines and your customers.
  10. Integrate ALL your marketing tools for optimal results.
  11. ALWAYS remember you are marketing to humans. Don’t focus too much on search engines; you are writing for real people (if you need assistance, outsource—see #4).
  12. Content marketing is not advertising. Stop yelling at your customers! Instead, ask this question.
  13. Headlines matter…in the “old” days on mail pieces, and today in email and content marketing.
  14. Every content marketing plan needs to be accompanied by a solid promotion plan.
  15. You don’t have to be on every social media site (here’s how to target your efforts).
  16. Marketing doesn’t work without excellent customer service to back it up.
  17. Be smart with the ways you cut corners in your social marketing efforts—it can backfire.
  18. Don’t jump into social media without everything you need to achieve results—and don’t be intimidated by the list of social media must-haves. Small businesses can achieve results on a small budget (see #4).
  19. You have to commit to online marketing, and stick to it. This is just one of two R’s to use in online marketing.
  20. There is so much more to learn, and continue to learn, about online marketing (see #1). Follow marketing blogs and publications for information, or outsource to a company that keeps up with the latest information and trends.

5 Tips to Generate More Website Traffic

cursors clicking on a computer generating website trafficYou don’t just put all your time and effort into creating a website to let it sit, and not generate anything more for your business. Screaming to the world, “We’ve got a new website! Come visit it!” just doesn’t work. The good news is generating more website traffic to your website, and, ultimately, more leads to your business isn’t as complicated as it sounds.

Use search engine optimization

Even if you don’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, integrate search engine optimization into your strategy to generate more website traffic. More than 90% of users turn to search engines for information, and local SEO technology—like KD Interactive’s (shameless self promotion!)—can get your business website in organic search engine listings using long-tail keywords your audience searches for. The increased exposure of a good search engine ranking in turn leads to more clicks, more website traffic, and more conversions.

Create fresh content

Once you’ve created an optimized website (we’ve given you optimization tips here), don’t stop. Keep giving your customers and potential customers—and search engines—content relevant to them through a blog or other content marketing tool. The goal of your effort is to build trust and generate clicks, so it’s essential that you don’t just produce ho-hum content. Produce quality content. Give your customers and potential customers what they want: entertainment, answers to their questions, knowledge. If you optimize that information with relevant keywords that are relatable to your audience, you’ll kill the proverbial two birds with one stone: you’ll show up in search engine listings for keywords your potential customers are searching for and you’ll get more website traffic from your content.

Plan a strong content distribution plan

If you produce quality content, share your content via social media sites, emails to your customers, even as customer service when a question is asked. Once you start writing content, create a calendar of content topics, social media posts, and customer emails.

For your social media posts, use a good scheduling tool, such as Hootsuite and Buffer, to help you manage your social media profiles and schedule posts. Don’t schedule too far ahead of time so you can stay on top of trending topics, and be flexible with your plan when needed. Share relevant content from other sources, and mix your content in. Always link back to your website pages or blog pages to keep generating continual website traffic. Online marketing results occur from regular work, so don’t give up. If you don’t have time to keep up, outsource your efforts to the experts and give the company the necessary information they need to market your business.

Don’t just focus on website traffic

One of our clients, a flooring company, saw their website traffic double in just four months because of search engine optimization. In 30 days, their unique visits increased 122% and hit an impressive increase of 200%. Website traffic is just a number unless you can convert those visits to customer interest. The flooring company receives form submissions every week from potential customers, with 60% of those visits stemming from their search engine optimization package. The moral of this testimonial is that generating more website traffic means nothing if you don’t have a well-designed site with clear call-to-actions that convert your traffic to paying customers.

Integrate your online and off-line marketing

Don’t treat your online marketing as a stand-alone. If possible, create one calendar of on-line and off-line marketing efforts to ensure that you are integrating the two efforts into one, strategic plan. Add your website URL to your mailers, in-store promotions, and advertisements. Include your specials to your blog(s) and social media channels to reach your online and off-line audience, and to meet (and exceed) your goal of generating more website traffic.

6 of Our Favorite Tips for Optimizing Your Website

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.

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.

Don’t Listen to these Bad SEO Tips

search engine optimizationThe world of digital marketing is fraught with misconceptions and bad advice. We’ve found this to be true in almost every part of digital marketing; if we had a penny for every bad piece of social media marketing advice we’ve heard, we’d be buried in pennies. That penny pile would have nothing on search engine optimization, which is full of junk ideas and misunderstandings. The pile of pennies of SEO misconceptions would reach to the sky; that’s why we’ve tackled some of the worst SEO tips we’ve heard, and the truth behind them:

“SEO is dead.”

We’re getting really, really tired of this. SEO is not dead, it’s just changing. The days of keyword stuffing and buying links are gone, and has been replaced by SEO tactics centered around technical aspects and optimized content that gives your users, and the search engines, what they want the way they want it.

These new SEO tactics achieve results; we’ve seen a local flooring company increase their website traffic double in just four months because of search engine optimization. In 30 days, their unique visits increased 122% and hit an impressive increase of 200%. Website traffic is just a number unless you can convert those visits to customer interest. The flooring company receives form submissions every week from potential customers, with 60% of those visits stemming from their search engine optimization package.

“SEO is not technical; it’s just about writing optimized content.”

Don’t ignore this piece of advice, but put it into context. Optimized content, text written for optimal results on search engines, gives your business website a digital marketing advantage. However, technical SEO pushes that advantage over the edge and positions your website well on search engine results pages (SERPs). To maximize that investment, invest in an ongoing content marketing strategy, which produces fresh content relevant to your industry and your audience. Content marketing provides updated content to your customers and your search engines on a continual basis.

“Buying links gets you to the top of the search rankings.”

Buying links also gets you penalized by Google. It’s a black hat SEO tactic that you should never listen to. If you produce excellent content through content marketing, or have excellent content produced for you, you’ll earn those links without penalties.

“You don’t need SEO if you don’t sell products online.”

Completely false. Think back to the last time you were looking for a plumber, or a dentist, or carpeting. You went online and typed in “local plumbers,” right? Just because your company doesn’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, doesn’t mean that you don’t need SEO. 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). Making an affordable investment SEO technology means your company is on the list next time one of your local potential customers types in keywords that pertain to your business.

“SEO only works for national companies.”

No, no, and no! We’ve helped businesses of all shapes and sizes achieve local results—online exposure in front of potential customers in surrounding communities—with our search engine optimization technology. 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. With more than 90% of users turning to search engines for information, local SEO technology—like KD Interactive’s—can get your business website in organic search engine listings using topics and keywords your audience searches for.

“One SEO firm is as good as the next.”

No. Like any other industry, you have to weed out the good from the bad. Be wary of outlandish promises and guarantees. Ask for references and testimonials of past successes; steer clear of firms that use black-hat SEO practices, such as keyword stuffing and buying backlinks. Ask your SEO firm to see their technology; a demo can give you the full picture of what you’re in for, and the SEO results you’ll achieve.

4 Sure-Fire Ways to Sabotage Your SEO Results

search engine optimization technologyAre you trying to drive more traffic to your website? Have you taken the words ‘optimized website’ to heart? Are you getting results? If not, it may be because you’re unintentionally sabotaging your own results. You’re not alone. The internet is full of websites that don’t reach their search engine optimization goals because they lose focus in four common areas.

Not thinking about your audience

When you’re trying to rank for the search engines, it’s tempting to focus solely on search engines. How can you make Google happy? What does Bing want that gets you to the top? Remember, search engines want to deliver user-focused content to search engine users. So focus on your customers. (Do you know who they are? If not, that should be your first step.) What are their pain points? Common questions they ask? Information they search for? Remember, what they are searching for is not just about your products, it’s answers to their questions, so don’t get too focused on you and your products either. Think of the process as a pizza restaurant with delivery. If you produce the delicious pizza (information) your customers want, then the delivery boy—search engines—becomes busy delivering your product to customers.

Being too worried about keywords

The days of keyword stuffing are over. In the ‘good ole days,’ your website’s ranking used to revolve around how many times you could put a keyword on one page. Google was looking for keyword density, and many companies responded with website pages full of a keyword and no valuable content for the customer.

That was then, this is now. Today’s search engines are looking for valuable content, and thin content stuffed with a keyword doesn’t cut it. In fact, keyword stuffing can get you penalized and destroy your search engine rankings. That doesn’t mean that keywords don’t count when trying to achieve SEO results; we’ll tell you how important they are, and how they are important in achieving results for our clients. What it does mean is that it’s up to you to deliver valuable content to your customers with keywords and relevant topics that your customers are looking for. To put it simply (and very generally): make your customers happy, make the search engines happy, get better ranking results. If you don’t think you have the expertise to craft that content, and create the perfect balance, contact experts in SEO writing that can. It’s a small investment that can pay big in the rankings.

Thinking you can do it all yourself

Optimizing your website with valuable content is half the equation (both when writing content for your new website and content marketing); technology is the other half. 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, you need to integrate search engine optimization into your marketing strategy because local SEO technology—like KD Interactive’s—can get your business website in organic search engine listings using terms and the professional content your customers are searching for.

Not being selective about your SEO provider

A quality SEO technology firm can convert online users into customers, and get your business website at the top of search engine rankings in local markets. A sub-par SEO firm delivers promises that they can’t back up with testimonials or valuable metrics and statistics. For example: one of our clients, a flooring company, saw their website traffic double in just four months because of search engine optimization. In 30 days, their unique visits increased 122% and hit an impressive increase of 200%. Website traffic is just a number unless you can convert those visits to customer interest. The flooring company receives form submissions every week from potential customers, with 60% of those visits stemming from their search engine optimization package.

Shy away from companies that promise #1 rankings for almost no money; ask the company for testimonials and about the SEO tactics they use. You don’t want to get sucked into a gimmick with no results, or a company that uses SEO tactics that could get you penalized by search engines (i.e. buying backlinks, keyword stuffing, etc.) If you have any other questions about local SEO or want to see it in action, ask us. Breaking down the basics of SEO, and helping make sure that website optimization is working for you—and not against you—is what we do.

Are you taking advantage of all the digital marketing tools that increase sales?

search engine optimizationYou know you need to do something about online marketing, but you don’t know what. You’ve heard all the buzz terms: social media, search engine optimization, content marketing, online marketing, email marketing, digital marketing, blog; but you have no idea what they mean, and how to use them for your business. You’re not alone; we talk to business owners and managers every day who are in the same boat. They know their business needs the online exposure. They know it is the wave of the future as statistics repeatedly show that more people are using online to find local businesses—and not the phone book.

Increasingly, we’re finding more and more of our job is to educate business owners about these tools; they know they need them, but they don’t know why or even what they are. We’ve addressed why in past blog posts, but here’s the what of digital tools and, more importantly, how to make them work for your business.

SEO

local seoSearch engine optimization is just what it says—creating an optimal website for search engines to browse and rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). There are three different ways to optimize your website:

  • By creating regular and fresh user-friendly web pages/content users want to read.
  • By using search engine optimization tactics on your website such as writing accurate headlines and excellent content on each page.
  • By hiring a search engine optimization firm to optimize your website and use specialized SEO technology to target your local customers and get to the top of their search engine list.

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, you need to integrate search engine optimization into your marketing strategy because people are looking for products, services and information online—a lot of people. More than 90% of users turn to search engines for information, and local SEO technology—like KD Interactive’s—can get your business website in organic search engine listings using long-tail keywords your audience searches for.

Content Marketing

content marketingContent marketing is creating and sharing content. One of the most effective content marketing tools we have found is a blog. A blog is a website filled with content, such as written articles, videos, photos, podcasts, infographics—the possibilities are endless. The goal of a blog is two-fold:

  • To give your audience what they want. The #1 rule of marketing is to know your audience. If you are a sports retailer, your audience is going to be different than a spa or wedding venue’s customers. Find out what your audience wants to know and give it to them. How do you figure that out? Ask them. Listen to them on your social media sites. In a way, you’re using a business blog to provide customer service.
  • Build trust. If you give your customers and potential customers what they want: entertainment, answers to their questions, knowledge, you can earn their trust. In the old days, this trust was earned over the phone or in person. Now, customers are using search engines to find information. They’re cruising the web because it’s convenient and easy to find what they need, both in information, services and products. Or they’re clicking on links they receive in their email. A business blog gives them the information they’re looking for on the internet, and gives them links to find more out about products or to contact a business. A second part of this goal is that regular content builds trust with a tool that more than 90% of online users turn to for information: search engines. Top search engines gauge your website’s validity and the strength of your pages based on the content of your website pages. By posting regular blog posts, you are showing search engines that your content is updated, quality and relevant—three criteria they use to rank websites for search engine users.

A business blog is full of content that should be shared via social media sites, emails to your customers, as guest posts on other blogs, even as customer service when a question is asked.

Successful business blogs contain relatable and regular content. What does regular mean? Regular means that you post content once, twice, or three times a week, or twice a month—whatever you can manage—without gaps in content posting. Unfortunately, many business blog writers start out with best of intentions and lose steam. If you don’t have time for a business blog, contact a content marketing company that can keep your blog updated with content specific to your business. We’ve said it before: there’s no shame or blame in outsourcing. Use this list of do’s and don’ts for outsourcing, and remember that you still need to allocate time to give input to get maximum content marketing results.

Social Media Marketing

social media marketingSocial media marketing is using a social media network (or networks) as a way to communicate with your customers and potential customers, and for them to communicate with you through posts, comments, and reviews. This is a two-way street! While you may be on social media networks for sales conversions, this is your chance to listen to what your customers want and give them relevant resources to help solve their problems (and no the answer to their life problems is not always your product or service!). Social media marketing also gives your business other benefits:

  • Ability to provide excellent and prompt customer service (with an emphasis on prompt!). Studies show that customers expect a response within two hours, and that number is dropping. Respond promptly, because studies also repeatedly show that customers come back to businesses who have delivered quality customer service in the past—even if their product or service costs more than competitors.
  • Unsolicited testimonials. Customers can leave reviews or comments about your products on your social media sites. Obviously, these reviews can go both ways, but you can also turn those negative comments into a positive. Start by not deleting negative comments or reviews. Instead, embrace the opportunity to show your business can provide excellent customer service. If the reviewer is particularly angry, use these tips to defuse the situation.
  • Chance to sell your products, and your company. We’ve seen businesses where the customers messaged to set up appointments. We’ve seen other customers comment on pictures on social media and tag their friends because they really like the product.

When choosing what social media network to join, determine where your audience is online. For example, if your audience is predominantly female, choose a social media network with a strong female following. Also factor in the amount of time and commitment you have for the network or networks. Many a business has signed up for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and the works because they want to be everywhere and everything, without a thought about the amount of time it takes to properly maintain each social media network. Each network has its own audience and way of doing things. If you’re not playing by the “rules” on each social media network, you’re not going to get the results you signed up for. A solid social media presence has:

  • Regular posts (the definition of regular is dependent upon the social media network)
  • Relevant resources for your customers
  • A customer-centric presence, not a business-centric approach
  • Prompt replies to customers questions and comments (excellent customer service)

If you want to cash in on the benefits and opportunities that come with social media but don’t have the time, outsource your business social media page or profile to experts that can manage your social media network(s). Remember, don’t measure your success on the number of followers, but on the number of engaged followers.

Email Marketing

digital marketingStatistics have repeatedly shown that using emails to communicate with your customers and potential customers gets results. A staggering 66% of online users made a purchase as a result of email marketing. To get started in email marketing, you need emails of interested customers. Note the catch: interested customers, so don’t start buying random email lists. Even worse, if you “steal” emails, such as sending numerous emails to an email account without proper consent; you run the risk of getting your server blacklisted after the email user flags your emails as junk. So what’s the best way to create a valuable list of interested customers?

  • Give them an incentive. Offer your customers a one-time discount if they sign up for your email list.
  • Create a graphic or pop up on your website or blog. Chances are, if the user is interested in your website or blog articles, they want to know to more. This is your chance to deliver with emails that contain valuable information and discounts.
  • Include your ask in your pitch at tradeshows and events. Train every salesman or staff member to incorporate a request for a prospect’s email address in their sales pitch. Take the opportunity to keep the interest of potential customers with valuable information (not just sales pitches) and relevant discounts.
  • Give your customers the option during or after their purchase. Add an opt-in option for customers making on-line purchases. Put a card in your shipments asking customers to keep in touch.
  • Ask your customers for their email addresses on social media. Create a social media contest, and include a request for their email in the contest. Just make sure you are honest about what you are asking; you don’t want to lose your customers’ trust.

Once you’ve got a reliable email list, make sure you don’t just blast out emails with sales offers. Take the same approach you take to your social media marketing and content marketing efforts; be sure to include all the significant parts of a successful email:

  • Create great subject line. All great email headlines speak to your audience. Whether that is through an attention-grabbing headline (e.g. 5 things you’re doing wrong) or a title that speaks to their pain point or entertains them. Don’t produce a headline to get their attention, or uses all the key words that your audience is looking for, and doesn’t deliver any value. Remember, the best way to sell to a customer is to build their trust. Misleading them has the opposite effect.
  • Use different media and visuals. Don’t use a one-size-fits-all mentality when planning and selecting visuals for your digital marketing efforts. Create videos and graphics for every different preference, or purchase them.
  • Craft a strong call-to-action (CTA). The definition of a CTA is not always about a purchase. A call-to-action can be a graphic, asking your audience to contact you with questions (remember you want to build trust) or inviting their input (about a product, a funny picture, anything).
  • Keep testing. Test out what email captures your audience’s attention, keeps it, and drives them to purchase.

Integration

Remember that all these digital marketing tools are most effective as part of a digital marketing tool box. Always make sure that the right hand knows what the left hand is doing; create a schedule to make sure that you are taking full advantage of your digital marketing efforts. If you don’t have time, find an effective marketing company that can; outsourcing can be the solution that guarantees that your business is getting the most out of your digital marketing tools.

5 Reasons You Can’t Afford to Ignore Local SEO

local seoYou’ve heard the joke “Where do you bury a dead body?” “On the second page of search results.” Now that you’re done laughing, we’re here to tell you it’s true. If you’re a number cruncher, we’ve given you statistics that back up the joke; if the numbers aren’t enough to convince you, we’ve got other numbers for you to consider: revenue received from the increase in website traffic from search engine optimization. In this post, we’re going to give you the missing piece of the puzzle: the five reasons that SEO generates increased website traffic and extra business revenue.

In the past, you knew where your website stood in search engine rankings. Not anymore. Today’s search engine results are focused on user experience, with the goal of giving users customized results based on their preferences and location. Getting your website to the top of those users’ search engine results is a challenge, and an ever-evolving one, but a worthy investment of time and effort that gets results for five key reasons:

  1. Local SEO technology gets you in front of local customers. Yes, we’re stating the obvious. 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, you need to integrate search engine optimization into your marketing strategy because that’s where people are looking for products, services and information—-a lot of people. With more than 90% of users turning to search engines for information, local SEO technology—like KD Interactive’s—can get your business website in organic search engine listings using long-tail keywords your audience searches for.
  2. A beautiful and functional website is not enough. “There,” you think, “I’ve invested in this website. Customers come and find me!” Unfortunately that’s not how it works. Customers have a lot of online options, and studies have shown that they make more than 60% of their purchasing decision online. So how do you get your new website found? Contact a reputable company that can achieve results with search engine optimization, updated content and social media marketing. Together, these three digital marketing tools get your website found by local customers—and keep you there.
  3. Search engines are replacing phone books. Statistics are proof of an trend: 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). More and more, American consumers are looking to the internet to find local solutions and information. If you’re not online, you’re not on their radar.
  4. Your competitors are using it. We’ll be honest; we don’t know if your specific competitors are using SEO. However, we do know that thousands of businesses are utilizing digital marketing tools including search engine optimization, social media marketing and content marketing as part of their marketing strategy—and getting results.
  5. It works. Paid search engine optimization technology is one of the most effective online marketing tools for businesses. One of our clients, a local print company, was positioned at the top of search engines just a week after utilizing our SEO technology. Their results were localized, with their company showing up in cities and towns search results within 30 miles of their location including a major metropolitan area. They also invested in content marketing to keep their site content updated and give their customers value, yielding long-term results; their printing firm has remained at the top of the major search engines—Google, Yahoo and Bing—since launch. Better search engine results have meant more digital exposure for their business, and stronger opportunity for online conversions. Another one of our clients, a flooring company, saw their website traffic double in just four months because of search engine optimization. In 30 days, their unique visits increased 122% and hit an impressive increase of 200%. Website traffic is just a number unless you can convert those visits to customer interest. The flooring company receives form submissions every week from potential customers, with 60% of those visits stemming from their search engine optimization package. If you want to tap into that same local search engine technology to get results for your company, read our blog post about SEO terminology or see it in action.

5 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About SEO

search engine optimizationWe recently saw a graphic that pointed out that what you often view as basic or common knowledge, others see as advanced—and often you don’t even realize it. It made us realize: they’re RIGHT. We have found that saying to especially apply to search engine optimization (SEO), an online technology many don’t understand, and is dogged by SEO lies and misunderstandings. Perhaps because of the latter, there seems to be a lot of basic things that people don’t understand (even beyond the terminology and acronyms). So, without further adieu, here are our answers to some of the things people don’t know about SEO (or at least get you started):

  1. SEO requires research. If you want to get max results from a SEO program, you have to know things—or find them out. The first, and most important, piece of information is identifying your audience. Who are your customers, and potential customers? What do they want to know? What problems do they have? If you want to know if a SEO firm is genuine, ask them about their keyword research. Legitimate firms do an extensive amount of research to get the best results for their clients.
  2. You don’t have to put a lot of effort into SEO. SEO can be intimidating and overwhelming. There’s so much to know, and the list seems to keep getting longer: website structure, content optimization, graphic alt text descriptions…you get the idea. While optimizing a website takes a lot of effort, you don’t have to be the one to put in the effort—or to keep up with the latest evolutions in SEO. The answer: outsource to a company that can. There’s nothing wrong with trusting another company with your SEO program, social media or content marketing. To be clear: that doesn’t mean you won’t have to do ANYTHING. Your SEO firm needs your input to create and manage an online marketing presence in line with your business goals.
  3. Even if you don’t sell products online, you still need local SEO. 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, you need to integrate search engine optimization into your marketing strategy to drive potential customers to your brick-and-mortar location. With more than 90% of users turning to search engines for information, local SEO technology (like KD Interactive’s) 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).
  4. SEO is always, ALWAYS evolving. 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. If you’re tired of trying to keep up, find a company that does.
  5. SEO is an integral part of your online marketing strategy. One of our clients, a flooring company, saw their website traffic double in just four months because of search engine optimization. In 30 days, their unique visits increased 122% and hit an impressive increase of 200%. Website traffic is just a number unless you can convert those visits to customer interest. The flooring company receives form submissions every week from potential customers, with 60% of those visits stemming from their search engine optimization package. Fact is: local SEO works. If you have any other questions or want to see it in action, ask us. Breaking down the basics of SEO, and making it work for you, is our job—and it’s one we don’t take lightly.