Category Archives: website optimization

(Easy) Ways to Improve your Website’s Local SEO Like a Pro

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Victorious corporate man celebrating with his arms lifted in the air because he improved website SEOSearch engine optimization was an entirely different concept when we set up shop 20 years ago. Today, SEO is more of an umbrella term covering all the different tactics that influence the hundreds of signals search engines use to compile search engine result pages. Though SEO has evolved, the value of excellent SEO has not; good SEO is still an important part of reaching (and converting!) local users into loyal customers. Here’s how you can (easily) gain valuable SEO points for your website—and towards your bottom line.

Improve your ranking

Optimizing your website may seem like an abstract concept, but the formula is very real. Use keywords and strong headlines in your website content, use a solid website structure during the designing process, and make sure your website loads quickly to gain favor with search engines and your customers.

Make it easier: Do your research. Contact a SEO provider with a proven track record, affordable local SEO services that have proven results, and the expertise to make it work for your business.

Start blogging (well!)

A website with updated, quality content helpful for online users is a precious commodity to your target audience—and therefore valuable to search engines. Note the adjective: quality. Poorly written advertisements just won’t cut it. Instead, invest your time in writing blog posts on topics relevant to your target audience with information they want to know. As you write, include relevant topics and keywords so the search engines find and put your post at the top of the list.

Make it easier: Supplement your content marketing with outsourced blog posts. Make sure each post is in line with your online marketing plan so the voice and topics are consistent.

Use social media

The relationship between social media and SEO is a complicated one, as outlined in this article by Social Media Today.  While having a solid social media presence doesn’t overtly or directly improve your website’s ranking, it does give you an outlet to push your content out.  The resulting clicks and links that stem from writing excellent content generate signals that the search engines need to move up in the rankings.

Make it easier: Make an online marketing plan that you can stick to and flexible enough that you can improvise with your social media posts (for current trends, interesting content, etc.)

Take an interest in reviews

If you’re like almost every other customer, online reviews matter: 88% factor online reviews into their purchasing decision (Source: Search Engine Land). Fact is, all the online reviews about your company—both positive and negative—matter, and can make a major impact on your bottom line. To make sure there is more positive than negative, establish a solid presence on all major review sites and monitor the reviews that are posted. Use negative reviews as an opportunity to showcase your company’s excellent customer service skills (tips on how to do so here).

Make it easier: Use a reputation management tool that can monitor and alert you to new reviews. To make the process even easier, contact a marketing company that has a quality reputation management tool ready (and that they can assist you with).

Your Top SEO Questions Answered by the Pros

question marks painted on a asphalt road surface signifying seo questionsWe’ve noticed a common theme when we talk to clients about search engine optimization (SEO).  The truth is that even though SEO has been around for awhile, and has evolved into an incontrovertible marketing tool, many business owners and managers have the same questions about SEO.  Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we hear about SEO—and the answers we have for business owners who need to decide if SEO is right for their business.

What is SEO? What is website optimization?

If you look in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of optimization is “an act, process, or methodology of making something as fully perfect, functional, or effective as possible.”  When applying this to getting your business found online, search engine optimization is the processes and content involved in creating an ideal website for search engines and users.  In the past, SEO was focused solely on search engines. Over the years SEO has evolved into a user-focused marketing tool.

Today’s search engines want to deliver quality information for online users, so modern SEO has evolved into a process of optimizing for two target audiences: search engines and your users (know who they are).  Website optimization is an important part of any marketing plan, along with content marketing (which improves your website’s SEO value), social media, and email marketing.

Why should I consider SEO? Is it black hat marketing?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most misunderstood elements of a solid digital marketing plan. Between the myths and the shady SEO vendors of the past (and present), SEO has earned a bad reputation that it really doesn’t deserve.

That being said, some of the SEO tactics used today (and in the past) are considered black hat, which are tactics that are used to manipulate organic results.  Be wary of SEO firms that mention buying links, directing users to non-relevant links, and writing content full of a keyword that doesn’t make sense (completely different than optimized writing).  Using black hat tactics to market your website can result in brutal search engine penalties that can take years to resolve.

The proof that SEO works (without black hat tactics) is in the data.  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 since launch. Better search engine results have meant more digital exposure for their business, higher website traffic, and stronger opportunity for online conversions.

Is SEO dead?

SEO has changed, but it is not dead. This is a misperception based on the fact that old search engine optimization tactics (keyword stuffing, spammy links, etc.) don’t work in the evolving world of online marketing. That doesn’t mean SEO is dead—far from it—it means that optimization has evolved into optimized writing and technology that delivers exactly what the search engines want: relevant, valuable content (both text and visual on your website, blog via content marketing, social media, etc.).

To get the results that modern SEO can deliver, business owners and managers can either learn the new and continually evolving art of optimizing a website, blog, and social media with well-researched keywords and topics specifically targeted at your customers or hire the professionals who can (and can keep up with it).  If you are a business with a local audience, you can take that a step farther by utilizing specific local SEO technology that targets customers in communities around each business location.

Is SEO going to get me in trouble with Google?

Black hat SEO (i.e. keyword stuffing, cloaking, etc.) can get your business penalized, but modern SEO tactics do not.  Writing optimized content your users want to read for your website and blog, adding pages to your website that deliver value to your customers, building a solid website with optimal structure—all these tactics gain you favor with Google.

What does SEO do for my website? Why should I care about SEO?

Believe it or not, a beautiful, mobile, and user-friendly 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—though there are ways to drive traffic to and optimize your website naturally. Customers have a ton of online options, and studies have shown that they make more than 60% of their purchasing decision online.  That’s where local SEO comes in.  Local SEO can get you at the top 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 is a smart marketing strategy because online is where people today are looking for products, services and information (and don’t get us started on the effect of mobile devices on search traffic). Statistics back this trend up:

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. With more than 90% of users turning to search engines for information, local SEO technology—like KD Interactive’s (shameless self promotion here)—can get your business website in organic search engine listings using keywords your audience searches for.

How does SEO help a company with multiple locations?

Local SEO can get you at the top 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 is a smart marketing strategy because online is where people today are looking for products, services and information (and don’t even get us started on the effect of mobile devices).

Want proof that local SEO works? One of our clients, a flooring company with multiple locations, 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.

When should I worry about my website’s optimization? 

Ideally, you should optimize your website before a redesign (along with these other elements of your website) or when launching a new website.  However, it’s never too late to use SEO tactics to improve traffic to your website and online conversions.

What should I look for in a SEO company?

We’re not going to lie to you:  there are a lot of SEO providers who make promises they can’t back up.  A quality SEO provider has:

Years of experience in technology

A good SEO company has years of experience in technology and keeps up-to-date with information about search engine ranking signals, such as page loading speed, links, etc.  SEO is always evolving, and a quality company isn’t stuck in yesterday’s technology.

Doesn’t use black hat SEO

If you hear words during the sales pitch—or in subsequent conversations—like, “cloaking” or “keyword stuffing,”—or they talk in generic topics about buying links or using content from other sites—alarm bells should go off in your head.  Black hat SEO tactics can get your website penalized so stay away from any company that even suggests it.

Provides data to prove their work

Because search engines are always striving to personalize search results, you can’t just go to your computer and see the results of your SEO efforts.  Ask for data that backs up their assurances of a quality job, and shy away from companies that decline to show you proof.  Choose a company that can give you reports detailing your local SEO results.

Can make recommendations about your online presence

A good SEO company can make online marketing recommendations beyond optimizing your website, such as content marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing.

5 Must Haves of Every Online Marketing Plan

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.

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.