Are You Following an Old Approach to SEO?

Most business owners understand how important search engine optimization (or SEO) is to generating leads and sales from a website. Unfortunately, many are following old tips and best practices that no longer do them much good.

These include stuffing keywords on pages, buying junk links from overseas vendors, and using awkward phrases in marketing copy as a way to draw attention from search spiders. Not only are these techniques outdated, but they can actually work against you and keep customers away from your website, because Google will see them and consider your website to be a low-quality result.

If you worry that you might be following an approach to SEO that no longer works, here are a few things you should know going into 2019…

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4 Ways a Website Audit Helps Your Business

Wondering about getting a stronger business website, or improving your online marketing strategy to generate more leads and sales?

Your initial thoughts can probably include creating new content, launching a fresh ad strategy or redesigning your home page. But first, you might need to consider doing a simple business website audit. When you audit your existing pages, code, and content, you can learn a lot about your existing web presence. Also you can develop a sense of what you will need to do next to improve results.

Let’s look at four simple ways and see how a website audit can be more valuable than you think.

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Are Online Reviews Helping or Hurting Your Sales?

Business owners often scrutinize every corner of their websites. They look for anything that can give them an advantage over their online competitors. However, they often overlook a crucial part of the online marketing mix. One that makes a huge difference between new sales and missed opportunities. This “hidden” component of the online marketing puzzle is a company’s online reviews(reputation).

Surveys show that 90% of all buyers will check a business’s online reviews before they ever convert into a customer. If what they find on Google, Yelp, and industry websites is positive, they can move forward confidently. However, if they see lots of complaints and bad reviews they may take their business elsewhere. Then, you’ll have lost the opportunity to win a customer without ever knowing why.

With stakes so high, let’s dive into three stages to make online reviews a positive part of your selling strategy.

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Online Tactics that Support Offline Sales and Marketing

Within web design companies, there are discussions that off-line sales and online marketing tactics are no longer effective. Or at least, that they are inefficient and unnecessary. However, millions of small business owners would disagree. Small businesses use tools like direct mail, telemarketing, and billboard ads to find new customers every day. In some cases, with less effort and expense compared to some online marketing campaigns.

Does that mean businesses should be divided into those who use the web to acquire customers and those who don’t? Absolutely not. There are numerous ways you could combine your approaches to save time and money and boost sales all around.

Let’s look at some ways you can use online tactics to further off-line sales and online marketing campaigns.

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Making the Most of Your Local Business Profiles

Online business profiles—particularly on Google and Yelp—can have a profound impact on your ability to pull in customers from your geographic area. That’s because buyers tend to search the web first when they need to find a new company or vendor, especially if they’re using their phone while on the go.

However, while understanding the importance of local business profiles is a good first step, that’s not enough to actually make the most of them. If you want to see a consistent flow of customers going from your business descriptions on the internet into your company’s accounts, here are a few things you have to do…

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7 Signs Your Business Website Needs Some Work

Occasionally, we meet with business owners who aren’t sure they need our services. It’s often the case that they have been referred by a colleague or even a customer, but can’t tell whether they should actually invest in some upgrades to their existing web presence.

That’s understandable. Web design is about technical skill and personal preference. Besides, no one wants to spend money on creative work that won’t actually help them attract more leads or customers.

At the same time, however, there are a lot of websites out there that need immediate attention. Today, we want to give you seven clear-cut signs it’s time to make some improvements to the part of your business customers almost always see first…

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Today’s SEO for Business owners

If you are a successful business owner, then you’re probably at least familiar with the basic notions behind search engine optimization (SEO). You know that a strong position in Google can help you win new customers every week. And you also probably know that search engine algorithms and formulas are constantly changing and that a lot of the old tricks and ideas aren’t working anymore.

However, that does not mean you should give up on SEO. For one thing, the benefits of high search visibility are bigger than they’ve ever been. By some estimates, Google currently processes more than 4 billion searches per day. It has immense referral power for your company, and you don’t want to surrender that traffic or those sales opportunities. Keeping up with the latest search trends probably isn’t quite as difficult as you might think. In fact, you just have to know which current trends and ideas matter most.

In order to help you cut through the outdated information, we’ll take a look at what business owners need to know about SEO today…

Google’s Basic Formula Still Applies

At the heart of all search, visibility is the understanding that Google “reads” your website with automated spiders, looking for terms that match up with the ones searchers use. Also, it will see whether other high-quality websites within your industry link to you as a valuable resource. Get those two things right, and you’re bound to appear in Google more often.

You Can’t Spam Your Way to Success

In the “old days,” a lot of companies tried to game the SEO system by adding low-quality junk pages to their websites that featured the same search terms over and again. Others got away with directing thousands of meaningless links to their sites. These kinds of tactics stopped working a while ago because they could harm your search visibility. You can’t spam your way to SEO success anymore.

Geography Matters a Lot

Being that Google has essentially killed off the Yellow Pages, and millions of users are looking for answers from the phones and tablets while on the go, search engines now factor in geographic location more heavily into their algorithms. It’s important you have geographic terms in your website (like city and state names) so buyers and search spiders can tell where you do business.

Good Web Hosting Makes a Difference

Speed, consistency, and secure connectivity all count as search signals now. It means that fast and stable websites are more likely seen by customers. You can give your company a small advantage over your competitors by paying a few more dollars a month for good web hosting. It also happens to be a great way to improve website performance at the same time.

Mobile Search is a Huge Trend

Mobile search apps, digital assistants, and voice search tools are changing the way SEO works. That’s because people speak differently than they type. Websites with lots of natural language content are getting a big boost. Writing in the form of blog posts and frequently asked questions will help your website climb the Google ranks.

AI is Changing Everything

Google’s RankBrain and other artificial intelligence technologies are moving beyond additional keyword matching. They use advanced formulas to “understand” contextual relationships between pages and ideas on websites. They also determine quality by evaluating citations, links, grammar, and more. In other words, Google is mimicking its human users and figuring out which search results are good ones.

While it’s true that SEO is undergoing huge transformations, it’s also true that savvy marketers are getting a bigger return than ever on their campaigns and efforts.

5 Frequently Asked Questions about PPC Advertising

New clients often come to us with many questions about pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. It’s not hard to understand why. On the one hand, you can have a new campaign of PPC ads up and running within minutes. But on the other hand, those ads are going to cost you money, and you can watch your budget get eaten up hour by hour.

Additionally, most business owners understand—either from stories or first-hand experience—that PPC ads can lead to fast sales or lots of wasted dollars. So, they may be alternatively excited and apprehensive at the idea of running them.

You may be able to relate to some or all of these situations. In order to help you make good decisions for your company, we are going to share the answers to five frequently asked questions about PPC ads we hear all the time…

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Is SEO Actually Worth the Time and Effort?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

All business owners and marketing executives love the idea of social media marketing. It’s common sense: Google is currently processing somewhere around 5 billion searches per day. Who wouldn’t want a healthy slice of that traffic headed towards their own landing pages?

However, what stops them from following through on new search engine optimization campaigns is the reality that it can be difficult to bring traffic in from Google if you’re starting from a low initial search position. If you haven’t put time, money, and effort towards SEO in the past, it can seem daunting to even begin.

It’s not surprising, then, that we often hear different versions of the question: “Is SEO really worth the time and effort it will take?” To get at the right answer, here are a few things you have to remember…

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Don’t Let a Negative Online Review Kill Your Sales

One of the best and worst things about the digital age comes down to the fact that customers have more power over businesses than ever before. If buyers say good things about a company, that positive feedback will show up on search engines, social media sites, and review platforms like Yelp. Then, more customers will come flocking and the cycle will go on and on.

On the other hand, a bad review can dissuade new customers from even investigating a business, particularly if the feedback is recent and sharp. That means you always need to be ready to protect your online reputation.

Knowing how important customer feedback is, and how hard it can be to recover from an online complaint or criticism, let’s look at what you can do to keep a negative online review from killing your sales and marketing efforts…

Read the Review Like a Customer

It can be easy, when you’re reading feedback from someone who is critical of your business, to immediately get defensive. Try to resist that urge and look at things from the buyer’s perspective.

Specifically, you want to see if their complaint or poor review has any merit. What is it specifically they were upset about? Is there some chance other customers feel the same way but haven’t expressed their frustration or disappointment? If so, that’s a bigger problem than the review itself.

Look at Your Business First

After you have thought things through, consider making changes or improvements to the way you work. Talk to staff members. Adjust your pricing and policies. Or explain details to customers more thoroughly.

This is important because one bad online review can turn into dozens if you make the same mistakes again and again. It’s never fun to read something bad about your company, but it can be a good thing if it alerts you to a bigger problem.

Respond or Refute

After you deal with any issues in your company—or decide there isn’t a problem you have to worry about—it’s time to think about the review itself. You essentially have three options: to ignore the review, write a response, or refute it altogether.

Believe it or not, simply ignoring a bad review can be your best choice sometimes. You can’t please everyone, and other customers are going to know that, particularly if the review seems off-base or irrationally negative.

In many situations, the smart move is to simply respond to the review politely. Tell your side of the story. Apologize to the customer. Or promise to provide better service in the future. Any of these show that you care, and that you’re paying attention to customer satisfaction. For all of those reasons, you can even decide to respond to positive reviews in the same way.

And finally, if you think the reviewer was mistaken, or if the negative review is somehow fraudulent or aimed at you personally, you could always request that it be removed from your page on a specific platform. Negative reviews won’t be deleted by administrators very often unless you can somehow prove they are unhelpful to other customers. Still, it’s something you can try if you think there is a chance to have it taken down.

Monitor and Grow Your Online Reputation

There are several tools you can use to monitor your online reputation and encourage your best customers to say good things about you online. They cost you very little, and can make a huge difference in your online reputation over time.

That’s important because the best way to deal with a negative review is to simply get lots of better ones that show up beside it. Anyone who uses the internet knows that even the best products and companies occasionally get complaints. And buyers will largely ignore the occasional piece of bad feedback if it’s next to lots of testimonials from happy customers.

Are You Getting All You Could Get from Your Business Website?

If you feel like your website and online marketing campaigns aren’t as profitable as they could be, it might be time for a change in creative direction. At the Marcom Group, we can help you make the most of your time, budgets, and websites.