Is It Ever Better to Start Over with SEO?

As a rule of thumb, business owners turn to us for search engine optimization (SEO) for one of two reasons: either because they have a brand-new company they want to promote, or because they haven’t gotten the results they were looking for in the past. In other words, they are either starting over or building on past campaigns.

Recently, though, we have been encountering a new kind of question: does it ever make sense to begin your SEO campaigns from a blank slate? In other words, should you even consider moving domains and beginning your online marketing campaigns as if you were a brand-new business even if you aren’t?

This would typically be a bad idea, given that search history, authority, and other search indicators are all tied to domain age and previous search activity. However, there are a few situations where starting fresh might make sense. Let’s look at a few of them…

When You Have Changed Names or Industries

Sometimes you can have the same business without having the same business. If you are in a situation where your name and/or location are the same as they have always been but your product or service mix is quite different, then starting fresh can be a good idea. This is especially true if you are getting inquiries that aren’t related to what you currently sell or offer.

When you have a new business it’s usually smart to begin with a new website. It might be hard to start over, but that’s usually the sensible long-term choice.

When Your Business Has Accumulated a Poor Online Reputation

Surveys show that around 90% of all customers look at customer feedback before trying a new business for the first time. So, if a Google search for your company name yields hundreds or thousands of bad online reviews, then achieving a high search ranking isn’t going to help you. 

Of course, this brings us back to the first point. If your business model is broken then you might need to re-launch—with a new name and at different online and offline locations—before buyers will consider giving you another try.

When You Have Found Yourself in Hot Water with Google

This is the situation we hear about most frequently these days. Some business owners, in a rush to make it to the top of search listings, have hired firms that relied on cheap tricks and quick gimmicks. Those can work for a little while, but they can also cause you to be blacklisted by Google. When that happens search spiders treat your content as if it doesn’t exist. 

In most cases the damage isn’t permanent. A team like ours can usually go through your site, piece by piece, and repair things one step at a time. In some severe instances, however, it can actually be easier to restart on a new domain and begin again from the ground up (while being careful not to repeat the same mistakes).

The Good News about Starting Fresh

It’s worth reiterating again that starting from scratch with Google wouldn’t be a good idea for the vast majority of businesses out there. However, if you were to go that route we have some good news: it’s not as difficult to get results as you might think.

As Google’s algorithms have gotten better, and knowledge around SEO has improved, the time it takes to make an impact in the search rankings has decreased. In fact, in 2021 it’s possible to dominate a local or niche portion of the organic market within just a few months. Add in some focused ads and a strong social media effort and you could be drawing in new leads and sales very quickly.

That’s good news for entrepreneurs who are just beginning, of course, but it’s also a good reminder for established business owners who haven’t seen much traction from SEO in the past. Start following a different plan and you could see results much quicker than you think!

SEO and Online Marketing Are All about Strategy and Execution

To turn your website into a source of leads and revenue you need two things: the right approach and an actionable plan to keep your business on track. We can help with both.

The Good and Bad of Blog Post Templates

Web design templates have been around for years. Some business owners (and even a few professional designers) use them to save time while creating WordPress sites, landing pages, and other common tools. Lately, content writing services have been getting in on the act. They have started offering blog post templates that are designed to help you pump out articles with less time and stress than ever before.

We are seeing these blog post templates everywhere, which means you’re probably coming across them as well. But should you be using them for content marketing?

To find the answer, let’s look at the good and the bad of blog post templates.

The Positives of Blog Post Templates

As with web design templates, starting with an article outline offers some advantages.

  • Blog post templates get you writing quickly so you don’t have to worry about creative blocks or staring at an empty screen.
  • Using a writing template gives you a structure you can follow, which can be important for those who have trouble organizing their ideas.
  • Often, blog post templates start with a simple idea that you can duplicate or adapt to virtually any industry.
  • The templates are based on popular article styles so the resulting post should theoretically be something readers will be interested in.

To sum these up cleanly, you would say that when you start with a blog post template, the hard work of writing is done. That’s a huge positive, especially if you’re the sort of person who has trouble being focused or motivated enough to sit down at your keyboard. However, there are a few downsides.

The Negatives of Blog Post Templates

In our business we often note that web design templates can be constraining. Blog post templates have some of the same drawbacks.

  • The topics and outlines you find in blog post templates are all very similar and generic. That makes it easy to crank out content, but hard to write something that stands out.
  • In some ways working with a template can stifle your creativity. It’s hard to generate an original portrait when you’re painting by numbers, and the same holds true when you’re writing from a list of predefined bullet points.
  • If you don’t do enough with your blog post templates, then you could end up with duplicate content on your website, causing Google to ignore the content you’re creating (which sort of defeats the purpose).

Those are some pretty big downsides. That brings us back to our original question.

So, Should You Use Blog Post Templates?

Blog post templates are kind of like training wheels for content marketers. There is nothing essentially wrong with using them, but you shouldn’t expect to compete with the leaders in your industry by filling in blanks, either.

Our advice? Give them a shot and see what kind of results you get—particularly if you’re someone who has struggled to create written content in the past. Over time, as you develop your own voice and rhythm, you can stop using them and move on to more effective content marketing habits.

3 Simple Tips for Higher Online Ad Engagement

We are at an interesting point in the history of advertising. On the one hand, it has never been easier to target and reach the specific group of buyers who need to see your ads. But on the other hand, it has never been more difficult to grab their attention… much less earn their business.

The key is to put all the advantages of modern search and social advertising platforms on your side without losing the interest of your market. In other words, it’s all about increasing engagement.

That’s what today’s post is all about. Here are three simple tips you can use to boost online ad engagement starting today

1. Join a Conversation Already in Progress

Most marketers attempt to attract customers by throwing a hook, headline, or image that catches someone’s attention. That can work, but an even better strategy is to join a conversation that is already going on in their minds and simply add to it.

If you know what your target market is thinking or worrying about, then use that knowledge. It’s infinitely more valuable than your products, your services, or even the benefits you provide. Not only do most people agree with themselves, but they tend to fixate on immediate problems and solutions. So, by touching on something they were already spending mental energy on, you can draw them into your sales funnel more quickly.

Not sure what sort of conversation is happening among your buying audience? Talk to a few prospects and customers or look into interest- or industry-specific social media groups. What you’ll learn will be invaluable.

2. Repeat Your Most Important Sales Points

Because of the way most of us interact with the internet these days, it’s difficult to get buyers to hold on to a train of thought. Even if they have an interest in what you provide, they might not act upon their desire right away.

With that in mind, an easy way to boost conversions and sales is to keep reminding them of what you can do. The most obvious way to accomplish this is by using retargeting ads that pull them back to your brand again and again. Just be sure that as you build your campaigns out, you stay with the most pertinent sales messages. Buyers can absorb one or two key points over time, particularly if they see them again and again. But throwing more than that can confuse or overwhelm them.

Repetition has been considered a “must-use” advertising strategy for a long time because it aligns well with human psychology. Put modern digital ad techniques to good use.

3. Get Creative in Your Delivery

If you are following strategies in the first two tips we’ve recommended, the only thing left to do is separate yourself from the competition. That means going the extra mile to stand out a bit.

We are all hardwired to notice things that are more interesting or attractive than usual. Do your advertisements fit that description? Many marketers, if they were being honest, would have to admit that they are wasting money on lackluster ads.

This is one area in your campaign where a good creative team can be worth its weight in gold. A team of designers, digital experts, and online ad specialists can’t tell you why buyers choose you instead of a competitor. But if you give them those insights they can emphasize them in a series of ads that convert again and again.

Want Help Shifting Your Ad Campaigns into Overdrive?

Putting together a profitable ad strategy isn’t always about spending more money or designing dozens of landing page variations. Often, it’s the result of small and consistent improvements made from one step to the next.

5 Things That Will Be More Valuable Than Cash to Marketers in 2021

As 2020 has officially come to a close, and as business owners start looking towards the new year, it’s understandable that many are keeping a closer-than-usual eye on their bottom line. The last 12 months have been completely unpredictable, and they have left even established companies in some industries scrambling around for cash.

There is no substitute for money in your business bank account, of course, but most of the entrepreneurs we know aren’t in dire straits. For them, our advice is to look at the bigger picture. We definitely think this is a good time to hold onto your money, but not if it stops you from winning customers or hurts you in the long run.

To help make sense of this advice, here are five things that will be worth more than cash to marketers in the coming year…

1. A Top Three Search Engine Position

When your company’s website is highly visible on Google, it allows you to reach an exponentially higher number of potential customers than your competitors. Then, you can continue generating leads and making sales even if you have to change your products, services, or pricing. Because organic search positioning builds over time, that’s an advantage that’s hard for anyone to take away.

2. A Sterling Online Reputation

Having a strong online reputationin terms of the right reviews and testimonialsis always important. When the economy is uncertain and money is tight, however, people are even more careful about the way they spend and whom they trust. For that reason, having lots of positive online feedback can give all of your sales and marketing efforts a huge boost.

3. A Strong Brand Identity

While brand identity and reputation are similar, they aren’t the same thing. When you have a brand that is well-known within your target market, it amplifies the effects of your ads, emails, and other outreach activities. If customers and prospects know what your business does, and they understand your unique selling proposition already, they will most likely to say “yes” to your offers.

4. An Email List Full of Buyers and Prospects

Email remains the most cost-effective sales and marketing tool around today. With a few clicks of a button you can reach out to hundreds or thousands of buyers at onceprovided you already have a list of subscribers to work with. Finding engaged subscribers who look forward to your messaging is a great way to generate consistent sales and make your business recession-proof.

5. The Right Marketing Advice and Strategy

Is it a little self-serving of us to say good online marketing advice is worth more than what you pay for? Maybe, but it also happens to be true. When you have a team of experienced professionals nudging you in the right direction, it’s easier to get results while avoiding common blunders. This is especially true at a time when many of your competitors are probably scrambling around trying to figure out their next steps.

How COVID-19 Changed Business Forever

It’s easy to say that COVID-19 has changed virtually every aspect of life in the past nine months. However, while some temporary measureslike social distancing, mask-wearing, and avoiding public gatheringswill probably fade away, some other changes will be permanent.

In our business, it’s easy to see how the pandemic emphasized the importance of having a strong website. Even though some entrepreneurs will be anxiously waiting for things to go back to “normal,” we think many of the shifts are irreversible. In other words, all the reasons your website was critically important to your company in 2020 will continue into the future. That’s because we were already moving towards a digital-first business landscape.

As a full-service agency, we deal with everything: print ads, branding, package design, and digital strategies. But this year has been all about online business. The internet has been critically important to marketers for years, of course, but current circumstances have shown what is possible and accelerated a trend that was already in motion.

What does this mean for you and your business going forward? Let’s look at a few things that are already becoming apparent…

Your Website is the Primary Point of Contact for Your Business

In many ways, your website is your most important piece of real estate, your best employee, and your biggest source of referrals all in one. That’s because it can be seen and interacted with by many times more visitors than you, your building, or all of your employees combined. That’s especially true if you’re using search engine optimization and social media to their fullest powers.

When you have a strong website in place it enhances your credibility. It’s easier for people to trust you, and to understand the unique advantages of your products or services. In order to gain these benefits, though, your website has to actually be impressive. It also helps if you can use interactive toolslike online chat and real-time social media feedsto engage visitors from the first moment they arrive.

It’s Not Just about Looks Anymore

Although we are in the “business web design” industry, we recognize that term has become something of a misnomer. That’s because the design (or aesthetics) of a website are no longer the primary or only consideration. What you can do with your pages is just as important as the way they look.

We’ve already mentioned the big benefits that come with using online chat to engage with visitors directly in real-time. What we have also seen this year is that ecommerce plugins, online scheduling tools, and video training modulesto name just a fewcan all make a website more valuable. These kinds of features boost revenue, save money, and make it more convenient for customers to do business with you.

COVID-19 Will Pass but Digital Business is Here to Stay

Speaking of decreased costs and increased revenue, it’s important to remember that bottom-line considerations have been driving business website upgrades for many years. There are a lot of business owners out there who only made changes to their websites out of necessity in 2020. Now that they’ve seen the benefits, though, they won’t be going back.

There aren’t many silver linings to the struggles we have seen in 2020. However, it’s never a bad thing when entrepreneurs and executives can discover lasting ways to find customers or save money. That’s why it’s a safe bet that the “new normal” of relying on business websites is going to be with us even as the pandemic stops being an ongoing concern.

7 New Year’s Resolutions for the Struggling Online Marketer

Do you feel like you aren’t getting the right kinds of results from your online marketing campaigns? Struggling to even get started with search engine optimization, social media, and digital ads? Or, do you feel like you’re always trying to catch up to competitors who get leads and sales from the web while you struggle?

If any of these situations resonate with you, then know you aren’t alone. We talk to dozens of business owners and executives every year who are going through the same things. With a brand-new year right around the corner, this is your chance to set your company on a different and more profitable path.

To help you make that change, here are seven New Year’s resolutions for any struggling online marketer to follow…

1. Review Your Business Website Regularly

Your business website isn’t one of those things you should launch and then forget about. Go through your pages, like a customer would, every month or two to look for problems or spot places where your content could be updated. This could stop your site from getting stale and prevent you from missing big problems (like broken links or missing plugins) that hurt your credibility.

2. Post Something New Every Week

Most business owners and marketing professionals struggle with content creation for the simple reason  like it never becomes a habit. You don’t have to write a long article, design a white paper, or dive into a video series every week. What you could do, though, is adding a few hundred words to your blog, updating your company’s Facebook page, and taking a snap for Instagram. Do that regularly (maybe on a Saturday morning) and you’ll develop habits that will build over time.

3. Get Familiar with Important Web Metrics

It’s almost impossible to make progress with your online marketing plan when you aren’t sure what’s going on with your website. Basic online statistics will tell you how many visitors are coming to your pages, how long they’re staying, and what they are doing when they interact with your site. Once you have a grip on those details you can develop smarter strategies and make better investments.

4. Try Something New Every Quarter

Most business owners (and more than a few web designers) fall into the habit of only working with the tools or techniques they are used to. For example, they might only post to Facebook because that’s what they pay attention to in their personal lives. It’s fine to start with what’s comfortable, but make sure you’re always trying something new to expand your boundaries. Before long you might come across a new source of leads or sales that you wouldn’t have otherwise discovered.

5. Build a Brand without Overselling

Your messaging is important. You want to stay on-topic with your blog articles, emails, and social media posts. But, you have to do that without always being in hard-sell mode. Finding the right balance can be tricky. Here is a good rule of thumb to follow: when in doubt, write or speak as if you were explaining something about your business to a colleague. That will stop you from getting too personal, but also keep you from being overbearing with your marketing.

6. Put Your Focus on Consistency

You might have noticed that many of the resolutions we recommend have to do with keeping your efforts and campaigns moving over time. That’s intentional. Success in online marketing doesn’t usually come from an all-at-once effort. Instead, it’s the cumulative effect you get from hundreds of posts, updates, and interactions. Just keep at it and you will make progress.

7. Stop Trying to Do It All on Your Own

Want to know a secret? Even in a web design and digital marketing agency like ours, it’s impossible for one or two people to do everything. There is just too much to look after between content creation, online reputation management, hosting plans, and dozens of other details. You can get help with all of these thingsand a lot more—by working with a team like ours. It will probably cost less than you think and could make a huge difference in your company’s profitability.

Want to Make 2021 Your Best Year Yet?

There is no easier or better way to make your business more profitable than by improving your digital marketing strategy. And, there has never been a better time to get started with web design, search engine optimization, social media marketing, and internet advertising.

3 Workable Social Media Strategies for Your Small Business

There are a lot of things for small business owners to love about social media marketing. It’s largely free, can help you reach a huge audience of potential clients and customers, and can actually be lots of fun if you’re doing it correctly.

Social media marketing has its downsides, though: for one thing, social media can be a huge waste of time when you’re busy with other tasks. Plus, there are so many social platforms to stay on top of… with new ones showing up all the time. 

With all of that in mind, it’s easy to understand why some business owners feel too overwhelmed to even attempt to put a social media marketing strategy together. In today’s post, we want to remind you that getting social media marketing right doesn’t have to be in all-or-nothing proposition. In fact, we have three workable strategies you might consider in order to give your growing company an extra boost.

Strategy 1: Do a One-Time Setup so Customers Can Find You

The first step towards finding success with social media marketing is just having a presence on the right platforms. Your prospects and customers should be able to find your company (not just your personal profile) on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, at a minimum. You should also have a presence on the major review sites for your area or industry.

The point is to ensure that people who are interested in working with you can find you on their favorite social channels. That makes it easier for them to learn about your business, contact you, or leave a review. It also reduces the possibility that they’ll contact a competitor whom they mistake for your business. Why give some other business owner a sale or review that was meant for you?

Strategy 2: Schedule Weekly Posts and Boost Your Content

Thinking a little bit bigger? You should still set up your social profiles, complete with business descriptions, contact information, and custom photos, logos, and usernames. You could go further by scheduling intermittent content updates. You might even consider charging a few dollars for each post that you put online.

The goal of this strategy isn’t to dominate your industry or area on social media, but to make sure that you stay on the top of your customers’ minds. If they hear from you once every week or two, they’ll be reminded of all the great things that you can do for them. Based on how informative or entertaining your content is, they might even share some of your posts with their own friends and contacts.

Strategy 3: Own the Social Space with Consistency and Creativity

The third strategy is even bigger. It involves regular (or even perhaps daily) posting of content, complete with boosts, hashtags, and messaging strategies. The key here is that you aren’t just posting a lot of content, but you are being creative and building a brand. It ensures that fans and followers will engage with your posts, helping you to gain a bigger viewership over time.

The difficulty with this strategy, of course, is that takes time, money, and attention. That’s why most small business owners don’t start here. In truth, many never even get to this point. If you are managing your social strategy well, you might start with the first strategy, move onto the second and eventually even the third. Once that happens, you are dominating the social space, and it can make a significant impact on your sales from one quarter to the next.

Are Your Search and Social Strategies Generating Results?

Lots of creative firms like to focus on the technical details of things like search engine optimization and social media marketing. We are familiar with these tools too, but we prefer actionable plans and real results. After all, if you aren’t getting new business from your content, then what’s the point?

Does Social Media Affect Search Rankings?

In the last couple of years, the lines between search engines and social media have blurred a bitboth for users and marketers. On the one hand, lots of everyday users (and buyers) are using social platforms like Facebook and Twitter to find information, not to mention products and services.

Pair these changes with the longstanding debates within the SEO community about the role of social posts and activities within search algorithms and you get a lot of confusion about the relationship between the two. So, you might be wondering: does what you do on social media affect your search engine visibility?

The short answer is “probably not,” at least not directly. However, the story doesn’t end there. To help you understand the relationship between social media activity and your Google search rankings, here are a few things you should know…

Continue reading “Does Social Media Affect Search Rankings?”

Should You Be Worried About Google Zero-Click Search Results?

Lately, web designers and search engine optimization (SEO) experts have been sounding the alarm on a growing trend: zero-click search results on Google.

If you haven’t heard this term and/or aren’t familiar with the concept behind it, we want to bring you up to speed. We are going to begin by telling you what zero-click search results are. Then, we’ll get into the bigger question of why you should or shouldn’t be concerned about them. 

Understanding Zero-Click Search Results

What you really need to know about zero-click results is that a large number of Google searchessome estimates say more than halfnever leave the company’s ecosystem. A person searches something, for example, and ends up at Google Maps, YouTube, or another Google-owned web portal to find the answer.

For users, a zero-click search result can be fast and convenient. However, for companies who rely on Google for lead generation, it can be disconcerting to know that fewer and fewer users are finding their way to third-party sites on the web.

Assuming that you get a lot of business from Google, or you prioritize SEO as part of your online marketing plan, you might be worried. However, there’s a decent chance these search queries aren’t that relevant to your business.

Why Your Business Might Not Be Affected

While it’s true that more and more Google searches are resulting in zero offsite clicks, it’s also true that users are interacting with search engines in ways that are relatively new. For example, people commonly ask Google to forecast the weather, get the starting time for the big game, or find driving directions.

There are specific web tools and portals losing traffic based on those sorts of search trends, but they may not fall within your company’s area of influence. Google isn’t recommending realtors, making appointments with architects, or giving inside advice on insurance products (as examples) within its family of web properties.

In other words, many of the zero-click search results are coming from new, information-based searches that don’t relate to industries like yours.

Looking for SEO and Online Marketing Alternatives

While we stand by the notion that most small and medium-sized companies aren’t being affected by zero-click search trends, that isn’t the same as saying they will never be affected. In fact, it’s almost inevitable that marketers reading this article will be at some point in the future.

Google changes like all companies do, and SEO is in a constant state of flux. The key is to understand that and adapt to conditions as they are right now and will be in the near future. For 2020, that means continuing to prioritize search engine optimization in its various forms. It also means keeping an eye on the horizon and experimenting with new ways to reach out to buyers over the web.

Contrary to what some business owners, executives, and web designers get locked into thinking, there are ways to find customers that don’t revolve around organic search results. The beginning of a new year is a great time to re-examine them and size up opportunities for the future.

Are Your SEO and Online Marketing Strategies Setup for Success in 2020?

Every month we talk with business owners and executives who are following old playbooks for online marketing success. What helped you find customers five years ago won’t work today, and in fact might hurt your search visibility or leave you playing catch up with your competitors.

Effectively Marketing to Your Company’s Advantage

At The Marcom Group, we often meet business owners who have tried marketing their company on their own but never quite achieved the results they wanted. Maybe branding and marketing your business has taken a backseat to your daily operations. You want more business and more traffic to your website, but you’re not quite sure how to accomplish that. Working with a professional, full-service advertising agency like The Marcom Group can provide you with the guidance and resources you need to more effectively market to your target demographic. 

The Marcom Group: Your Marketing Partner 

Many businesses owners don’t realize just how important marketing is from the outset. They may use cookie-cutter services to create their website and other marketing materials—but these templated services are limited in how much they can personalize to your business. Do-it-yourself programs can only offer so many functions—but with The Marcom Group, your options are nearly limitless. From your website to your logo to your social media advertising, our team can help you create a cohesive brand that will be a lot more effective at bringing your business to the next level. 

When companies use professional marketing materials, it can make a big difference in how potential customers perceive them. Done properly, a custom-designed business card, logo, and website can show that you are an authority in your industry. People will be more likely to trust you than someone who has put little effort into building their brand. Our staff consists of talented graphic designers, web developers, copywriters, and digital marketing strategists. Each member of the team specializes in their area, providing our customers with a level of customer service and professional expertise that they just can’t get with ready-made programs. We pride ourselves on being able to offer a variety of creative solutions for each individual company’s requirements. 

When we meet with a new client, we ask them to think beyond their immediate needs to consider their long-term goals. This often includes utilizing social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to improve their web presence and more effectively reach their target demographic. Social media is an important component of any marketing strategy, but many business owners don’t have the time to keep up with their accounts. Our team can work with you to create the SEO-enhanced content you want customers to see, post it across your accounts, and boost the posts to reach the right customers. 

We Take a Holistic Approach to Your Branding

New businesses may not have a huge marketing budget, which can make them wary of seeking out professional help. However, The Marcom Group partners with each client to maximize their marketing budget no matter how large or how small it may be. We offer a diverse range of services customized to your business. We use a holistic approach to consider all aspects of a client’s brand, from their brochures and trade show displays to their website and social media posts. This provides for more cohesive branding across all mediums, which helps to improve your corporate identity.  

Many of our clients are concerned with ranking high in online search results. This is important to earning more business from people who are searching for a particular keyword or phrase related to your industry. After all, people are more likely to select a business on the first page of their Google search than one that’s several pages in. However, you must have the right SEO plan in place to get that kind of result. For the best SEO rankings, your website must be secure, fast to load, and easy to navigate. It should also be regularly updated with high-quality content using a variety of mediums, such as photographs, videos, blog posts, and other interactive tools. We utilize the latest SEO strategies, including Google Ads, to improve rankings for our clients. From regularly updating plug-ins and checking security features to posting blogs and other content, we can manage all aspects of your website to optimize it for PCs and mobile devices. 

A business’s online reputation is paramount to their success, so we also encourage our clients to reach out to their customers to post Google reviews. This increases your online presence via a platform that more and more people are relying on every day. Replying to negative reviews can also demonstrate that you care about customer experiences. We make providing this level of customer service easy through automated responses that help you reach customers more quickly, saving you time while also showing prospective customers that you’re responsive to their concerns.