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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How to Make Your Content Voice Search-Friendly

For years, web design and online marketing companies like ours have been trying to help businesses to make their way to the top of Google’s search engine listings. In the last couple of years, though, that process has been changing dramatically. That’s because a lot of searchers don’t even use Google search bar anymore—instead, they turn to the Google mobile app, or digital voice assistants, to find what they’re looking for.

As with most things in the online world, this creates both challenges and opportunities. If you want more customers to find you, you have to have content that is voice search-friendly. Here are a few things you can do to get started…

Get an SEO Audit with a Focus on Mobile Search

During a search engine optimization audit, we take a deep look at your website, examining technical factors (like website structure, page loading speed, link naming, etc.) that can affect your search visibility. Additionally, we can pay special attention to search patterns and content to discover whether your content is accessible to mobile searchers. A website audit is fast, inexpensive, and perfect for getting more search traffic, particularly if you’ve never optimized your pages for voice search in the past.

Post Content with Lots of Natural Language Strings

Until recently, the essence of search engine optimization was working specific (and sometimes awkward) phrases into the fabric of your website. That’s because people tend to type in incomplete strings. However, when using voice search most of your customers will speak in complete phrases and questions. That means you should have lots of FAQs, natural-language blog posts, and other forms of related content on your site if you want to be found through voice search apps and digital assistants.

Ensure You’re Maximizing Schema on Your Website

We don’t know everything about Google’s search algorithms, but we are aware it uses schema to categorize things like events, news, and other pieces of web content. If you make the most of HTML indicators to point out different parts of your page or post, search engines will have an easier time figuring out how to “read” your content and decide what’s relevant for searchers who are asking specific questions.

Build Your Content into Scannable Blocks and Topics

You don’t just want people using voice search to find your website; you also want them to absorb the information and possibly take a next step. To do that, you should put your content into scannable blocks that are easy to browse on a small screen. Otherwise, a searcher might be overwhelmed by what they find when directed to your website and take their attention elsewhere—even though you had the information they were looking for.

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…

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Two Ways to Approach Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Along with a website that looks great, or more leads and sales, one of the top requests business owners and executives bring to us is a desire to stand out on Google and the other search engines. They aren’t concerned about search engine optimization (SEO) because they think it’s fascinating or enjoyable, but because they understand that earning a top search engine spot will help them to attract more customers.

That point is pretty self-evident, but it’s an important one to recognize. That’s because not every business owner is going to have the same ambitions, or the same level of commitment to promoting their company through search (or the internet in general). To get the most from your campaigns, creative team, and budget, you have to go into the process with the right ideas and expectations.

With that in mind, today we want to explore two different ways you might approach search engine optimization for your business website…

Philosophy #1: A Minimalist Approach to SEO

Some business owners want to benefit from search engine optimization, but aren’t willing to devote a lot of time or resources to the project. That’s understandable, and it can work so long as they hold the right expectations.

An experienced creative team can audit your website for technical problems, engage in a bit of keyword research to find out what your customers are searching for, and then do some on-site optimization. The likely result is that you’ll show up for specific search terms, particularly those related to your company name or geographic location.

If a lot of your business comes from local buyers or word-of-mouth advertising, that might be all you need. However, this sort of work isn’t likely to vote you to the top of Google’s rankings very often. To reach higher, you have to make a more consistent investment of time or money.

Philosophy #2: Aiming for the Top of Google’s Search Rankings

Just as some business owners want to do the bare minimum in terms of SEO, others want to shoot for the moon. They aspire to aim for a top three Google position for several different search terms and geographic areas.

To do so, they have to follow the same beginning steps as we outlined above. More attention will likely be paid to keyword research, but the basic initial plan is the same. The difference between the first philosophy and second, though, lies in the amount of subsequent work that needs to be done.

In order to truly dominate on Google, you can’t simply make some additions and upgrades to your website (as important as those steps are). If you really want customers coming to you again and again, you have to produce lots of relevant, high-quality content on a regular basis, develop a sales funnel, and get familiar with your web analytics. Additionally, you have to go back to those basic optimization steps again and again periodically to keep your website fresh.

You can perform a lot of these tasks yourself, but the bottom line is you’ll have to spend either time or money (and possibly a bit of both) if you want to blow the competition away on Google. Those investments pay off, but only if you follow through with them.

What Approach to SEO Works for You?

Now that we’ve laid out to different approaches to search engine optimization, ask yourself which one might be right for you. Are you more apt to optimize your site and post a few pieces of content infrequently, or to devote more time and resources to the project in hopes of getting bigger awards?

There is a bit of middle ground here, of course, and a talented creative team can help you make the most of a limited budget. However, if you are expecting to “do” SEO once and forget about it, then you should at least know where to prioritize your efforts and what to expect in return.

5 Ways to Create Web Content That Lasts

It takes a lot of time, work, and creativity to get your content marketing plan moving. That’s why it’s so painful to post something online and watch it go stale after a few days or weeks. Wouldn’t it be better to have your articles and posts keep generating views, shares, and leads for years to come?

Many business owners—not to mention professional copywriters—work to sidestep this problem by creating content that is “evergreen,” meaning that it stays in style for a long period of time. With a little thought and planning, you can do the same. Then, you won’t have to worry about watching your ideas fade after an early expiration date.

If that sounds good to you, let’s look at five ways you can create web content that lasts…

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