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 look on 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…

Continue reading “Making the Most of Your Local Business Profiles”

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…

Continue reading “7 Signs Your Business Website Needs Some Work”

What Business Owners Need to Know About SEO Today

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. And for another thing, 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 all the confusion and outdated information out there, let’s 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—especially in the form of blog posts and frequently asked questions—are getting a big boost.

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. Also they 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…

Continue reading “5 Frequently Asked Questions about PPC Advertising”

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…

Continue reading “Is SEO Actually Worth the Time and Effort?”

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.

What You Need to Know About Keyword Clustering and SEO

There is a new term floating around in the world of web design and search engine optimization: keyword clustering. More than a few business owners and marketing managers are wondering what it means, and more importantly, how it fits into their search and conversion strategy.

Today, we want to shed some light on this emerging SEO practice. Here’s what you need to know about keyword clustering and how it could affect your website and blog going forward…

An Overview of Keyword Clustering

You are probably aware that search engine optimization is getting more complex and competitive. There are more websites being crawled than ever, and advanced computers (in some cases even artificially intelligent machines) are using complex algorithms to sort through them. At the same time, searchers are getting more and more precise with their queries.

All of this takes us away from a single or simple keyword focus. It’s hard to type one or two words into Google’s search box, for example, and get exactly what you’re looking for. That’s leading us to a “long tail” of search, where multiple terms and complete phrases are thrown together to either signify or decipher the intent behind a query.

One way to give yourself an edge in SEO, then, is to target longer search terms with your site. That can be helpful, if you know your customers are looking for a very exact term or phrase. However, keyword clustering goes a step further. It involves having the right kinds of words in close proximity to one another, and sprinkled repeatedly through your website, to help create both keyword exact matches and context for your site.

In other words, a website like ours might have the phrase “business web design” used plenty of times. However, we might also sprinkle in terms like ROI, digital advertising, search engine optimization, etc., in the same paragraphs so it’s easy for Google’s spiders—and real searchers—to understand what our content refers to beyond the specific target phrases. That’s the power of keyword clustering, and it’s becoming a bigger part of the SEO process.

Using Keyword Clusters is Good for Both SEO and Branding

The great thing about using keyword clusters is that you aren’t just improving your search engine visibility (although many business owners and marketers will undoubtedly use it for that purpose). It’s also a way to think about your branding and positioning.

After all, when you’re forced to think about the context of your web pages, your attention naturally turns to things like target audience, searcher intent, and conversion strategies. You need to know who is coming to your site, what they want, and what you can do for them. In that way, using keyword clusters can help you tighten up your content and be sure you aren’t just attracting search traffic, but doing all you can to convert visitors into buyers.

The first step towards creating strong keyword clusters is to engage a proven web design and search engine optimization partner. Taking that step will prevent you from moving too far from your business goals or working with a team that isn’t going to get you the right long-term results.

Like most things in SEO, business owners tend to think of keyword clustering in terms of how many hits they can bring to a website, or how many places they can jump on Google. The real value, though, is in the way it can help the right buyers find you and take the next step.

Want to stay on the cutting edge of search engine optimization and online marketing? Contact our team today to schedule a free consultation and see what we can do to help you take your business to the next level!

4 Ways to Get More (and Better) Online Reviews

It’s no secret by now that online reviews drive sales. That’s true whether you have an online store, a professional services company, or a B2B business. According to some surveys and estimates, as many as 90% of all buyers will check out feedback left by other customers before making a purchase or committing to an appointment.

For a lot of business owners and marketers, though, the process of gathering online reviews can feel a little bit random. However, you don’t have to rely completely on luck to get the testimonials you need to make your company grow. In this post, we are going to share four simple and effective ways you can boost your online review profile. Let’s start with one that seems obvious but is often missed…

Continue reading “4 Ways to Get More (and Better) Online Reviews”

Are You Making These Facebook Advertising Mistakes?

Google AdWords and Facebook advertising are built on a similar premise: show your marketing messages to the right people and you can generate an instant response. However, they represent entirely different platforms that work in unique ways. It’s no surprise, then, that so many marketers try to transfer the success they’ve had using search PPC to social media advertising and come up short.

To use Facebook advertising profitably, you have to follow an approach that’s tailored to the social network itself. That means avoiding a few all-too-common mistakes that small business owners tend to make again and again.

Let’s look at a few common blunders you should watch out for in your Facebook advertising campaigns…

Continue reading “Are You Making These Facebook Advertising Mistakes?”

Using Search, Social Media, and PPC Together

Most of the business owners and executives who come to see us for web design and Internet marketing already know they need to be using search engine optimization, social media, and pay-per-click advertising. What they don’t necessarily know is how they should prioritize them and use them together. In fact, many aren’t sure of the distinctions at all.

That’s understandable—the men and women we work with our busy building and running their companies. They don’t have the luxury of learning the ins and outs of Internet marketing the way we do. So, if you feel as they do and aren’t sure how you should use search, social, and PPC to grow your company, here are a few things we want you to keep in mind…

Continue reading “Using Search, Social Media, and PPC Together”