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…

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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.

What Mobile-Friendly Web Design Means to Your Customers

You have heard hundreds of times by now that you need to have a mobile-friendly website to compete online in 2020 and beyond. However, there is some confusion amongst business owners about what that actually means. Is it enough to have a responsive website that adapts to mobile platforms, or is there more to the equation?

To find the best answer to this question, we have to stop thinking like marketers and web designers. Instead, we should approach the issue through the lens of potential customers. What would mobile-friendly mean to them?

Through years of work, study, and user testing, we’ve identified several traits that need to be present for website to be considered truly mobile-friendly. Here are some of the most important factors…

A Website That Displays Cleanly on a Small Screen

This is the most obvious definition of a mobile-friendly business website, but it’s worth spelling things out. If someone can arrive on your site via a phone or tablet and finds strange layouts, distorted images, or other obvious issues, then they are very likely to click away. This isn’t a very high bar to clear, but lacking basic mobile functionality is a good way to alienate half or more of your potential customers.

A Web Layout That Works Across Several Browsers and Devices

Of course, just because your website looks great on one mobile device doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily going to display perfectly on another. You can’t afford to lose a huge chunk of business just because some of your customers like iPhones and others prefer Androids. That’s why pages and layouts need to be tested on a variety of screens and platforms. 

Reasonable Page Loading Times

Most of us have been through the frustration of trying to load a website that took several seconds (three or more) to come online. Your average mobile user will simply take their time and attention elsewhere. You can speed your pages up by investing in premium web hosting and streamlining your code for fast delivery. If you are unsure about your website performance, an audit might be able to give you the answers you need.

Content That’s Optimized for Mobile Devices

It isn’t only servers that affect website speed. The content you load onto your pages (particularly images and videos) can play a big role too. For one thing, it’s important that they are formatted with the correct size and resolution to display on both traditional computers and mobile devices. And for another, they need to be identified properly with HTML5 tags to prevent delays and errors.

Fast and Intuitive Website Interaction

Have you ever tried to navigate your way through a website, or complete a purchase, only to become frustrated and leave? This is an all-too-common experience in the mobile age. Remember that many of your customers will be tapping links and prompts with their fingers. They don’t want to type in long strings of information through forms, and will appreciate simple menus, click to call buttons, and other intuitive features that make it easy for them to complete tasks.

7 Urgent Steps for Marketers in the Covid Economy

As the coronavirus has taken over first the news, then our attention, and finally the economy, clients have come to us again and again with one question: “what now?”

The answer depends of course on the situation a business owner or executive is facing. For some, a Covid recession is a major event. For others, it’s a sad reality but not a huge business concern.

If you have the kind of company that is relatively unaffected by the current pandemic, then you might not be concerned with changing strategies or tactics. For all the rest of us, though, here are seven urgent steps you might want to take today if you haven’t already:

1. Don’t Panic or Make Rash Decisions You Might Regret

One of the worst things you can do, in this crisis or any other, is complicate matters by enacting quick decisions that compound the issue. This is a time to think clearly about what’s possible, what’s likely, and which opportunities or obstacles lie ahead. Take some time to get clear about what you’re facing and what you want to accomplish. Only then should you make strategic decisions.

2. Start Using Your Email Newsletter to Communicate

This is no time to be quiet or leave your customers wondering what you can or can’t do for them. While we would encourage you to reuse any outreach tools you have at your disposal; email is particularly well-suited for fast and effective communication. Let buyers know what’s happening with your business, even if nothing has changed. That way you won’t miss out on business because they have assumed you are cutting back.

3. Reach Out to Your Best Customers through Social Media

While email will probably be the preferred method of communication for the moment, don’t overlook the power of social media to connect with your best customers, clients, vendors, or partners. Some of them may prefer to communicate through these channels. And, sending a note through Facebook or LinkedIn (as examples) is more personal than reaching them through an email blast.

4. Look for Opportunities to Sell and Serve Your Market

Don’t assume there isn’t any business to be found in your industry, or that you know exactly what your customers want. Reach out to some of them and see if there are new opportunities to make your company a more valuable partner or resource. It might be that there are lots of ways you can serve buyers, or the community, that aren’t immediately obvious.

5. Investigate New Customers and Sales Opportunities

If your customers and clients are slowing down, don’t simply take it as a given that you will have to do the same. It may be that you are able to serve other markets (for instance, hospitals or delivery companies) who are doing a thriving business right now. Often, it just takes a bit of creative thinking and investigation to identify new sales opportunities, even in a downturn.

6. Cut Off Any Non-Performing Ads or Campaigns

We started our tips by advising you not to make any rash decisions. However, that’s not the same as saying you should stay still. If there are marketing campaigns or activities that just aren’t going to work in the current economy, then this is the time to pause or discontinue them. Don’t let your money go towards projects that aren’t going to benefit your business for many months to come.

7. Take Advantage of the Downtime to Get Better

One of the things that makes marketing hard is that most business owners and executives don’t have time to read books, take courses, or think about projects like a website overhaul. If there is any small silver lining to what’s going on in the world it’s that we have the opportunity to step back and be more intentional about our plans. Where do you want to be in a few months, and what can you do to make it happen?

5 Reasons to Upgrade Your Spam Protection Today

Recently, we have been reminding clients that our company has been offering state-of-the-art spam protection for years. In fact, we were one of the first creative firms in southern California to introduce inbox controls as part of our web design and hosting services.

With unsolicited emails bringing bigger risks than ever right now—including phishing scams, virus attachments, and ransomware—this is the perfect time to make sure your business is protected. Today, we want to share five simple reasons you should upgrade your spam protection if you haven’t already…

1. Dealing with Unwanted Emails Takes Time

You might think it doesn’t take long to clean spam from your inbox, but those wasted minutes each day add up quickly. In fact, you might be unknowingly spend a dozen hours on unwanted emails over the course of a year. 

Why not use the productive parts of your day on tasks that matter instead of dealing with spam?

2. You’ll Keep Viruses and Ransomware Out

It’s easy for even the most careful business owners or employees to accidentally click on an unknown email attachment just once. Then they may find their computers have become infected with viruses, malware, or even ransomware that restricts file access. 

With strong spam controls in place the odds that you’ll end up struggling with these hassles, or losing access to important data, are greatly reduced.

3. You Can Keep Control of Incoming Email

One worry business owners and managers have about using spam protection is that they won’t be able to receive messages from certain customers, or that they will no longer be able to view email attachments when they need to. However, with our email filtering service you always control what you want to receive and have the option of whitelisting important contacts.

In other words, you won’t miss out on any of the emails you actually need because you’re using spam protection with us.

4. You’ll Get Better Performance from Your Computers

Some companies try to fight spam and malicious emails using desktop software or antivirus suites. However, because these programs have to operate constantly, they can cause your computers to run slowly. And, they may create issues when you need to download or update software.

Our spam protection doesn’t need to be installed on your machines, so it won’t affect computer performance in your office.

5. Strong Spam Protection Costs Very Little

In most cases, getting the best of anything for your business means spending a lot of money. However, when it comes to keeping your inbox safe from spam, you don’t have to break the budget to get the coverage you need.

You can add email filtering to your web hosting package for one low monthly fee. It might be the best investment you make all year.

Why You Shouldn’t Do SEO Without Social (or Vice Versa)

When social media marketing started taking off, some business owners sought it as a way to replace search engine optimization (SEO). With a few tweets and posts, they imagined they might be able to break away from the competitive and sometimes-grueling cycle of generating and promoting content.

Lately, we have seen the opposite happening: that some small and medium-sized companies are ignoring their social profiles to get back to the more proven strategy of turning search visitors into customers. 

We think that’s a mistake. While SEO might be a more direct route to growing your bottom line, social media marketing still has its place. In fact, we don’t think you should invest time and money in search without also paying attention to your social accounts. Let’s look at why.

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Why you Probably Aren’t Ranking on Google

Amongst business owners and marketing executives, search engine optimization (or SEO) is like a professional sport. Although most decision-makers haven’t done much content writing or technical HTML work, they stay up-to-date on the latest trends and ranking on Google algorithm shifts. They become armchair quarterbacks of search marketing.

That’s generally a good thing. Anyone who has a vested interest in helping their business grow should know what SEO and ranking on Google are all about. However, there is a downside to the intense interest they have and search. Namely that new clients come to companies like ours looking for complicated answers to simple problems.

The details of the search engine optimization campaign are important. However, they only come into play once you cover the basics. To help illustrate what we mean, let’s look at a few Google ranking factors… 

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4 Incredibly Easy Ways to Use Your Company’s Social Media Accounts

Amazing as it might seem, we sometimes meet with business owners and marketing managers who tell us they don’t have the time or patience for social media marketing. They are either overwhelmed with other tasks, or don’t see a clear benefit to engaging customers and prospects through Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

We can understand this line of thinking. For one thing, most of the people we work with don’t have a lot of free time. And for another, it is harder to use social media to create instant leads than it is to generate business from search engine optimization or pay-per-click ads.

However, that doesn’t mean social media marketing has to be overwhelming, or that it won’t pay off. To help you understand why let’s look at four simple and effective ways you can use your business social media profiles every week…

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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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