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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The 5 Stages of SEO Effectiveness

Business owners tend to think about search engine optimization (SEO) in terms of it either “working” or “not working.” That is, they believe you either dominate on Google or can’t be found anywhere in the first twenty pages of the search listings.

It’s understandable that someone looking at SEO from the outside might take this view, especially if you aren’t used to getting traffic from search engines. However, the reality is most marketers move through a progression of SEO effectiveness until they either stop trying or run into a competitor who was working harder than they are.

To give you a sense of what that progression looks like, let’s look at the five typical stages of a profitable SEO campaign…

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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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How to Make Complex Website Development Projects Simpler

Taking on complex web development projects—websites with hundreds of pages, unique apps, and digitized content—can be daunting. Not only are there the normal technical and creative aspects to get past, but the sheer volume of the work can present logistical challenges. Additionally, big web design jobs usually have multiple personalities involved at the decision-making level.

Given all of these factors, it shouldn’t be a surprise that a lot of complex web development jobs tend to take longer than expected and go well beyond their initial budgets.

That certainly doesn’t have to be the case, though. Today, we want to outline a handful of steps you can take—in conjunction with your web design and development partner—to make complex web design projects simpler, smoother, and more efficient…

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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.

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.

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!

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.

3 Reasons Traditional SEO is Dying

Search engine optimization (SEO) is reaching an interesting point in its development. On the one hand, optimizing websites for search visibility through content, inbound links, and technical upgrades is more important than ever. On the other hand, it’s obvious to web design industry insiders who can see beyond the immediate horizon that traditional SEO is slowly but surely going away.

To help understand why, and what will take its place, there are three things you have to know…

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