Author Archive

Local SEO: 3 Ways to Gain a Competitive Advantage

August 6th, 2010 by Jessica Runberg

While many of the clients we work with serve customers nationwide or around the globe, we offer local SEO services for those who serve a geo-specific area. Whether it be a region, state or even just a few surrounding cities, local SEO marketing is smart for small businesses.

If you’re a retail boutique in Beverly Hills, isn’t that where your advertising dollars should be?

Local SEO makes sense for hotels, doctors, spas, boutiques, home repair businesses, mom-and-pop restaurants and other locally operated companies. Here are 3 proven ways you can make local SEO work for your business:

1. Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

Local paid-search ads are so effective that it’s almost as if PPC was created specifically for this purpose. Unlike organic search results, paid-search ads instantly appear on the first page of Google. You can optimize your ads for geo-specific locations so that they’ll display directly to users with a matching I.P. address.

2. Organic Search

Of course, you don’t have to buy ads to get the word out about your business. We’ve helped countless websites launch wildly successful geo-targeted SEO campaigns that enable them to compete with “the big guys.” In the search-engine landscape, it doesn’t matter if you’re a large national chain or a mom-and-pop shop; the one with the best SEO will rise to the top of the search results!

3. Google Maps

If your business has a physical location, you need to be on Google maps. Local business results usually show up before organic search results so it’s a great way to get to the top of the search-engine results. Just be sure all of your business info is correct, including your name, phone number, address and URL.

Bonus Tip! There’s no better place to implement local SEO than on social media sites. Connect with customers who live in your area and “tweet” about specials or upcoming business happenings. Also, ask us about our YouTube video slideshow designed just for local businesses.

Increase PPC Conversions with a Landing Page Makeover!

August 3rd, 2010 by Jessica Runberg

While driving lots of traffic to your site is a noble aspiration, the ultimate goal is to get the sale. Once potential customers click through to your site, the content you have there needs to get them to act – and preferably to act now. This is especially important for PPC landing pages, which should always be designed with conversions in mind.

Here are a few simple landing page best practices you can implement right now to bring home the sale:

  • Send users to the most specific landing page on your site for the targeted keyword.
  • Use a clear and relevant headline that best fits the user’s search query.
  • Keep the verbiage short and sweet (and include all pertinent information above the fold).
  • Use bullets.
  • Use colorful and relevant images to sell the product/service visually.
  • Include a clear call to action.
  • Make it easy to convert (with as few clicks as possible).

These proven techniques not only offer a great PPC return, but some of the same ideas can also be applied to SEO landing pages. The major difference is that SEO landing pages need to have more verbiage on each page to rank highly in organic search results. But in the end, the idea is to make it incredibly easy for visitors to become customers!

Social Media Marketing Tips

July 26th, 2010 by Jessica Runberg

Whether you’re a Facebook and Twitter guru or are new to the social media scene, there’s always something to learn. Social media is one of the fastest growing marketing segments and if your business doesn’t already have Facebook and Twitter accounts, you should create them ASAP.

Social media is a powerful way to connect with your customers and can significantly increase your bottom line. Whether you use it to reach out to new customers or increase revenue from your existing client base, social media can be a powerful tool to increase sales and profits, and build customer loyalty.

The best part? Social media is an affordable and accessible way for any business to make waves on the Web. From mom-and-pop shops to Fortune 500 companies, here are a few of our top tips for social media marketing.

Use Multiple Platforms. Although you hear a lot about Facebook and Twitter, they’re certainly not the only games in town. Social media works best when you utilize a variety of platforms and proactively get your branded message out there. While we definitely recommend using the “biggies,” it’s important not to overlook the other fish in the sea. Consider Foursquare, Yelp, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr and others. Be sure to sync up any similar accounts for maximum exposure. For example, LinkedIn will let you display a synopsis from your latest WordPress blog, and you can set up Twitter to automatically send updates to your Facebook account.

Be Consistent. While consistency has always been a pillar of branding, it’s especially important online. All of your e-communications should have a similar look and feel, as well as a consistent “voice.” Make sure everything sounds like your company and that your company logo, color scheme and taglines appear in branded social media pages whenever possible. While each social media platform has its subtle – and not so subtle – differences, don’t use it as an excuse to take a piecemeal approach to social media. Make sure your social media efforts complement one another!

Join the Conversation. Whether you participate in the conversation or not, people are going to be talking about your company online. Actively following and, more importantly, participating in these conversations is simply an opportunity you can’t afford to miss. This is your chance to create some buzz about your business and proactively respond to any customer complaints in a manner that can not only save you the customer – but may also save your online reputation. Set up a Google Alert for your company name and don’t be afraid to chime in whenever you feel it’s appropriate.

Measure Your Results. While tweeting about your business and making YouTube videos beats “real work,” don’t forget that it’s not all fun and games. The ultimate goal of social media is to grow your business, and if it’s not working, it’s not worth your time. Be sure that you’re getting a good ROI from the time and dollars spent marketing your business in the social-media realm. How do you know if it’s working? As with SEO, Google Analytics will be instrumental in identifying trends and traffic sources. Be sure to also check out my post on social media ROI for a few of the ways you can monitor your economics.

Want more tips? Give us a call at 1-877-Rank-321 and ask to speak to one of our social media specialists!

Make Your Website Content “Sticky”

July 21st, 2010 by Jessica Runberg

Quick! Your website has 3.5 seconds to make a good first impression before the person who clicked though to your homepage moves on to the next search result.

Writing for the Web is different than writing for print. Online readers tend to have a shorter attention span and are quick to make judgments. If they don’t like what they see, they’re going to move on – and they’re going to do it in a hurry.

If you want visitors to stick around – and ultimately become customers – you’re going to have to make your content sticky!

Here’s how to write for the Web:

Keep It Short. While search engines like to see content optimized with important keyword phrases, it’s best not to overdo it. Keep your content short and sweet by giving visitors the information they need – no more, no less.

Make It Visual. It’s important to break up your copy to make it easy for visitors to scan your Web page. Use bullets, punchy headlines, sidebars, subheads, pictures and other copy-breakers liberally to make your content quick and easy to read.

Include Links. When appropriate, link to other pages on your site. This will encourage visitors to dig deeper into your site’s navigation, and ultimately become customers. This could include a link to related products on your site, a request for more information, a link to your blog, etc. Be selective and only include a link when it adds value.

All it takes is a few simple tricks to get – and keep – an online reader’s attention.

Why Website Marketing Works

July 14th, 2010 by Jessica Runberg

Whether or not you own an online business, marketing your company on the Internet is a very good idea. In North America, more than 75% of people use the Internet and the worldwide statistics are equally as impressive. It’s a digital world, folks, and the World Wide Web has created millions of new business opportunities.

Intrigued? Here are four reasons why website marketing works:

Reason #1: The Possibilities Are Endless…

Perhaps your business already has a website in addition to a brick-and-mortar store or maybe you sell your products or services exclusively online. This is a great start, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg of how you can effectively market your business on the Internet. With search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, banner advertising, blogging, mobile marketing, e-mail blasts and other Web-related communications, there’s an avenue for every organization to get their message across in a digital format.

Reason #2: It’s Highly Customizable

Website marketing services are effective because they can deliver a highly targeted message. A great example of this is Google’s new remarketing program, which can help you win back customers who abandoned your online shopping cart by displaying advertisements for your business throughout the Web. It’s pretty amazing stuff.

Reason #3: Search Engine Rankings Count!

Some paper-based advertising methods are falling by the wayside (think phonebooks) and consumers frequently turn to the Web to conduct research and ultimately purchase products and services. If you’re not ranking for your top keywords, you simply can’t be competitive. Plus, whether or not it’s earned, many people consider a high search-engine ranking as an endorsement for your website.

Reason #4: The Data is Unreal

You can keep track of all kinds of data regarding the effectiveness of your online marketing campaigns. From click-through rates to website traffic stats, you’ll always know exactly how your website stacks up. Of course, finding the right online marketing mix for your business will involve plenty of research, and perhaps a bit of trial and error, but that’s what the data is for. It’s a marketer’s dream!

In short, website marketing not only works – but it’s essential to running a successful business in the Internet age.

SEO Secrets Revealed!

July 6th, 2010 by Jessica Runberg

Pssst! While it’s no secret that SEO is a complex process, there are a few golden rules you can follow that will have an impact on your rankings – and they are things you can implement right now.

Here’s a list of some of our Top SEO secrets (be sure to pass it on!):

Select the Right Keywords. Too often, we see websites that take a scattershot approach to their keyword research (or don’t do any keyword research at all). Your keywords will become the basis for your entire SEO campaign (in other words, they’re REALLY important). Choose relevant keywords for each page you optimize and be sure your website can rank for them.

Not All Links Are Created Equal. Does your website have a gazillion backlinks? Good for you – that is if the links are high quality. Low quality links (irrelevant links or links with poor site statistics) will have little impact on your rankings and may actually hurt your business. Find quality links that will give your website a real boost.

Don’t Forget the Meta Tags. Including meta tags is one of the easiest ways you can optimize your site, and yet there are so many businesses that neglect to do this. Be sure to place a keyword or two (be careful not to go overboard) in your meta title and description tag to help search engines and customers figure out what the page is about. Even though the search engines don’t use description tags for rankings purposes, they still highlight matching keywords when they show descriptions to searchers.

Content Matters. Google’s robots read digital content and they like to see lots of it. The words you post on your website will tell the search engines and, more importantly, your customers, what the site is about. This is one of the most important aspects of on-page optimization. Be sure to sprinkle in a few keywords throughout the body content on each page (just make sure the content reads naturally).

Create Some Buzz. Buzz marketing is an excellent way to create backlinks and build upon your SEO efforts. Create content that makes others naturally want to link to you (whether it’s great content, a YouTube video, an eZine article, a podcast or other form of social media) and you’ll increase your traffic in no time.

What about the rest? We’re keeping those SEO marketing secrets locked away in the Search Agency idea vault. In all seriousness though, we have lots of tricks up our sleeves and we’d be happy to conduct an SEO site audit on your website and present our recommendations to you – simply give us a call!

Site Architecture: A Tiered Approach to SEO

July 2nd, 2010 by Jessica Runberg

Much like architecture itself, website architecture is multi-faceted in that it involves technical and aesthetic elements. An architect must design a building that is structurally sound, aesthetically pleasing and welcoming to its human inhabitants. If you’re missing any one of these three critical elements, the design will be a flop.

The same is true of websites. It’s just as important to optimize your website for actual visitors as it is for the search engines. If you want to take a tiered approach to SEO, you have to consider people, search engines and design when implementing site architecture.

People. One of the pieces of SEO advice we give clients is to design their site as if search engines didn’t exist. While we don’t usually mean this literally, it is a good idea to keep in your back pocket. Search engines want to see content, keywords and backlinks that look natural. Any attempt to over-optimize or otherwise make your website look spammy won’t win you friends in the search-engine world or with potential customers.

Most of the pillars of SEO are great for people and search engines, such as creating value-added and optimized digital content on your pages. In the end, the goal of SEO is to drive traffic to your site, so you want to make sure that it’s designed with the human visitor in mind.

Search Engines. Search engine spiders read code so you’ll want to make sure your website is up to speed in the technical arena. This includes having optimized meta tags, a proper navigational structure such as bread crumb navigation, an optimized site map, a 301 redirect in place if necessary and much more.

Without the technical know-how, it can be very difficult to reach your SEO goals. This is why many website owners hire an SEO firm to help them achieve the results they want. Behind the scenes, analytics software such as Google Analytics will enable you and your SEO services provider to measure your campaign’s progress and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Design. The Internet world moves lightning fast and most websites only have a few seconds (if that) to make a good first impression. If your website design isn’t attractive or otherwise appropriate for your business, potential customers are going to move on. Your overall design, layout and logo say a lot about your business. In this case, a picture truly is worth a thousand words!

It should be noted that the search engines can’t read images, so be sure to include anything you want them to see (such as optimized page titles and body content) in a text format. Also make sure that your website isn’t all form and no function; an easy-to-use website is an online shopper’s best friend.

It’s time to break out the proverbial SEO site architecture map and get to work on your website!

Social Media ROI

July 1st, 2010 by Jessica Runberg

Are you new to social media or aren’t sure how to use Facebook and Twitter marketing to increase your sales? This post is for you.

Social media marketing ROI is a hot topic; everybody wants to know how social media is going to make their business money. And let’s face it, that’s a pretty fair question.

But first, let’s get back to basics. No matter what you’re measuring, whether it’s social media or something else, ROI is defined as the ratio of money gained or lost on an investment relative to the amount of money invested. Therefore, you have to set up some baseline metrics prior to measuring your social media results.

This means you’ll need to determine what it is that you want to measure. You can customize your campaign to accomplish a variety of goals including increased sales, better customer retention, increased coupon-redemption rates and so on. Then the work begins!

When you launch your campaign, the first results you’ll see are generally referred to as non-financial indicators and can include:

  • Facebook friends
  • Twitter followers
  • Re-tweets
  • Social mentions
  • Increased site traffic
  • Blog comments
  • Positive press
  • Positive word of mouth

While these indicators are a good sign that your business is growing because of social media, you’ll need to find a connection between these non-financial indicators and revenue generation in order to calculate ROI. For example, do customers on your social networks purchase products from your website more frequently than others? What percentage of your coupons have been redeemed as a result of social media? If your Twitter followers increased by X%, then how much did your total revenue increase? These questions drive ROI.

From an SEO perspective, one of our favorite metrics is to measure how site traffic increases because of social media and how this traffic ultimately results in increased revenue. This is simple to track through Google Analytics or other analytics software platforms that your SEO services provider may be using.

The thing to remember is that no matter what metrics you decide to measure and how you measure them, the key to measuring social media ROI is to identify how it helps your business generate revenue.

Buzz Marketing: What’s All the BUZZ About Anyway?

June 28th, 2010 by Jessica Runberg

Buzz marketing is a form of word-of-mouth marketing that involves creating content that generates conversation or “buzz.” Much like
viral marketing, buzz marketing is all about spreading the word by building excitement for your business in a unique and creative way.

In today’s digital age, buzz and viral marketing are among the easiest and most effective ways to market your business. With the advent of Facebook and Twitter marketing, social bookmarking, e-mail forwarding, YouTube, Google Social Search and other shareable media, it would be a mistake not to try to create some buzz about your business.

How Do You Create Buzz?

The key to a successful buzz-marketing campaign is to disguise it as something other than marketing. While loyal customers may not mind a barrage of promotions and discounts for your business, those who are less involved may not want to hear the same marketing message over and over.

In other words, it’s best to spice it up a bit! Search Agency recently launched a Custom Facebook Application, which is designed to help our clients grow the number of people who “like” their business on Facebook. The App is customizable to the website’s products and services and generally includes a company contest or giveaway. People who “vote to win” will then have the App displayed on their wall and on the walls of their Facebook friends.

Because people tend to trust endorsements that come from their family and friends, this type of marketing tends to have a high ROI. It’s also interactive, which makes it all the more fun and buzz-worthy. Plus, people love to win free stuff and are more apt to enter a contest when it’s as easy as clicking a button on a trusted social media site.

How have you created buzz for your business?

Google Search Tips & Tricks: Part Deux

June 25th, 2010 by Jessica Runberg

Two weeks ago, we featured the first installment of some of our favorite Google Search Tips & Tricks. Now, I’m back to bring you the second installment of our favorite Google shortcuts. Without further ado, here we go!

#1 Use Google as Your Spell Checker. It’s actually pretty crazy how great of a spell checker Google is. If you type in a search query even remotely similar to the actual spelling of a keyword, Google will oh-so-helpfully point you in the right direction. It’s a lot more forgiving than the spell checker in Word and is sometimes faster than using a dictionary.

Bonus tip! Google keeps track of popular misspellings and includes search-volume data about them in the Google AdWords search tool. If your company name or products are often misspelled, this can be a great way to harness additional search volume.

#2 Check the Weather. Google’s so good, you don’t even have to type in your zip code. Just Google “weather” for the current temperature and a four-day forecast.

#3 Catch a Flick. Again, you don’t even have to type in your city to get the latest movie info. Just type in “movies” and you’ll get a list of showtimes in your area complete with descriptions, reviews, trailers and more.

#4 Use the OR Operator. Can’t decide between Maui or Kauai for your vacation? Then Google Maui OR Kauai and you’ll get results for both! Give it a try next time you’re feeling indecisive or simply want to narrow down your search results.

#5 Keep Your Time Zones Straight: Whether you work with clients or customers across the country or around the globe, it can be tricky to get the time zone right. Just type in “current time in Hawaii” and you’ll see the aloha islands are just three hours behind PST.

Of course, there are many more Google shortcuts out there. These are just a few of the ways that Google works its magic on the Web!