Posts tagged with ‘SEO’

How to Get Reviews Using Google Hotpot

This video outlines a free way to get your local business to appear higher in Google’s search results by having a Google places page, and asking your customers and clients to review your company there.  By the way, we are practicing what we preach here, too. If you are a satisfied client, would you please review us?

The Importance of Good Content and On Page SEO

Every once in a while an analogy comes along that explains why you should or should not do something that is better than a picture (Yes! Better than a picture!). With this in mind I would like to demonstrate to you the difference of having a great looking website without giving the proper attention to the content on the page or the on page SEO factors and a mediocre looking website that has paid attention to the content on the page and the SEO on page factors.

It’s much like shopping for a car. You see a brand new shiny corvette sitting in the corner with a great price tag. In fact, the price of this car is so low compared to everything else in the showroom that there is no question what car you will buy today and you find yourself driving off the lot in a great looking car.

You ride around town in the neighborhood and everyone who sees you waves and comments on what a nice looking car you have. You get ready to open it up on the highway and put the petal to the metal only to find out that you are being passed by F150 pickup trucks, Honda Accords and almost everything else on the road! You pull over and pop the hood and though the engine looks big, underneath you are being powered by a 4 cylinder motor that won’t take you anywhere.

Just like cars, the slick look and promises to turn heads can lead you to purchase something that’s not exactly what you need. It’s very important to buy a workhorse of a website and that’s finding out how it will perform; not just how it will look. That doesn’t mean you can’t get a good looking website, it just means the look should be secondary to performance.

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3 Essential Members of Your Desert Island Content Dream Team

Unless you are Superman or Wonder Woman (and we know she reads our blog.. hey there!), you’re going to require a helping hand now and then in generating the mountains of digital content expected of any thriving business with an online presence today.  You don’t have to hire content strategists like us, but it’s important to begin building a Content Dream Team that can crank out various multimedia, social and SEO/SEM content.

So, we asked ourselves, if we were stranded on a desert island, which three players would be indispensable in helping us generate our marketing content? (This is assuming that we would care about such things, being recently stranded on a desert island, and all…)  These are our answers:

  1. The Multimedia Pro. This is the person who can easily and effortlessly crank out video after video from their cool iPhone4, and upload them to YouTube seconds after catching a poignant story moment in the office or out in the field.  Make no mistake, the person who is a natural for this role is the person who is already engaged with the technologies to make this sort of thing happen, and that means that this person is particularly hard to source.  If you’re lucky enough to have one on staff doing something else, then make it part of their job description to follow around people and get this content captured and published to share with your hungry public!
  2. The Social Butterfly. I bet you never thought that the person who spends 2 hours a day on Facebook and Twitter while at work could ever prove to be an undiscovered asset to your company, huh? Well, maybe, maybe not. They’ve certainly proved how enticing and potent the medium can be.  And they certainly have an understanding of the workings of the various online social spaces.  But if they have an interest in helping you develop an authentic voice in those spaces, you may have just just hit pay dirt.  Ask them to give you a written proposal on how Facebook or Twitter could become a part of what they do for you on a daily basis.
  3. The SEO/SEM Robot. Writing articles, blog posts, submitting a site to multiple directories, and increasing the number of inbound links coming to your site from good sources is the bane of most small business owners. Who has the time?  Well, if you can add someone who has a penchant for technical details and obscure strategies, it’ll take most of this tedious-yet-essential stuff off your plate.  The best person for this job is someone who finds the Zen in keyword research and loves to get lost in formulating vast charts and spreadsheets of links and potential links to go after.

So there you have it. It’s not going to be easy to find natural fits for each of these roles, but we cannot see how you’ll be able to keep the content coming in any meaningful quantities without them.

When SEO Doesn’t Make Sense

I recently had a conversation with a doctor about search engine optimization.  He was excited to talk about the idea that he wanted his name, and to a slightly lesser extent the name of his practice, to pop up all over the front page of Google.  He was disappointed when he googled himself, not to see his name popping up at the top.  He wanted to know how much it would cost to get that kind of result.  I told him it wouldn’t be expensive at all.  He got excited.

I then told him that it would be money down the drain, with no real return on investment to speak of.  He looked puzzled, so I went on to demonstrate my point by pulling up a keyword tool on my iphone, and showing him the volume of people searching for his name. Zilch.  Or so few that the keyword tool wouldn’t embarrass him further by showing him just how few there really were, after you subtracted his own vanity searches.  His doctor-ego had just taken a hit, so I decided I’d better channel his energy in a positive direction.

Next, I asked him if he had any idea how many people searched for the name of the primary disease with which his particular specialty dealt.  We did the numbers (the name of the disease plus the name of the city in which he practiced), and he was astounded to see how many monthly searches there were.  Then I asked him if he would like for his name to appear all over the front page of Google for THAT phrase. To his credit, the light bulb sparked to life without much delay.  He asked me how much this strategy would cost, and I just smiled at him.

Rule # 1 of Search Optimization: There is a direct correlation between the number of searches a term gets, and the amount of money, effort, and time it will require to move the needle.

Rule # 2 of Search Optimization: There is a direct correlation between the number of searches a term gets and the potential returns to be had in going after the front page of the SERPs.

The work of SEO must always consider these rules when forming and deploying a meaningful strategy.

So what kinds of scenarios don’t make sense for a comprehensive SEO strategy?  I asked our SEO team to answer that, and this was their list:

  1. The market-busting product. If it’s so new and revolutionary that no one in the market even knows that they need it yet, then SEO is not going to help at all.  The real expense of marketing this kind of category-defiant product or service is in directly educating existing customers and potential customers about what your product is and does, and why it’s needed.  If no one knows what term or phrase to enter into a search engine to find you, they won’t be searching that way for you yet. (One exception is the revolutionary product that fits well into an existing, clearly defined market need, such as a new vacuum cleaner technology, or an amazing new spatula.
  2. The invisible Brand Name. Branding is a necessary function of marketing, but not necessarily the first priority of SEO. It’s not the low-hanging fruit.  Again, this comes back to knowing what keywords people use to find your product or service.  Getting the sale is the first priority, and if your brand name alone does not yet have the cache to move the market, stick to optimizing the keywords that describe your product or service until your other concentrated branding efforts catch up.
  3. The tangential product, or Red-Headed Stepchild. Many companies have a core competency they are known for, but there’s still this great little product or service on the side that seems to get far less attention.  SEO the heck out of it, right?  Well, maybe, maybe not.  If there is not a clear connection between the core offering and the sidebar deal, there may not be a smart way of leveraging the strength of the one to infuse the other with deserved attention.  Remember, Google doesn’t care that your company is branching out. It only cares about returning relevant search results to its visitors (and arguably making Gazillions in the process).  If your New Thing isn’t the same thing as your Tried and True Thing, the amount of effort necessary to get noticeable results begins to look a lot like an entirely separate SEO strategy, complete with its own budget and structure.  Diluting the strength of your tested and profitable web pages with large doses of The New Thing is not going to help anyone get rich(er).
  4. The low-profit per sale deals. We’ve had to talk some clients out of SEO, simply because the price point (and more importantly, the profit margin) on their typical sales didn’t justify the expense.  Quite simply, if the research shows that you can expect to pay the same price or more than you’ll net on a sale to acquire that sale through organic or paid search optimization activities, then either raise your prices, or find a different, more cost-effective method of marketing your goods or services.  We love to see clients who fundamentally understand the expected net value over time of a new customer relationship, because these are the clients we can truly have rational discussions about ROI expectations.  Don’t spend too much to acquire too little.
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Local Business & NAP – Why it’s Important

Back when the only way to find a business was by letting your “fingers do the walking” through the Yellow Pages, it was relatively easy for the business owner to change and/or forward a phone number. It was easy to get that address changed through the post office as well in a reasonable amount of time along with sending out change of address cards to vendors, clients and other “must haves” on your list. Yes, when the only source was the big yellow book there wasn’t much thought that had to go into a move, opening up another location or just making a business change of some sort; merger, name change or changing from one type of business to another. However, now that the internet pulls from multiple sources to get your NAP, (business name, address and phone number) all of a sudden it’s not as easy to get and maintain control over.

There is no longer just one place to go where you can enter in your new or changed information and then forget about it. In fact, there are many places you now have to visit to make sure your business listings are correct. We have heard of businesses that have had to revisit listings and directories multiple times before their information is corrected. Many businesses either don’t know this is something they need to pay attention to or find it too hard and time consuming to bother with so they don’t. The problem with not paying attention and correcting your NAP is the search engines (Google, Bing, etc) look to see that the NAP is consistent on as many listings as possible to put that business as high on the local listings as possible. NAP confusion can cause your business to be “out of favor” with the SERP’s, especially when it’s all about local search. You might beat it in time but in the mean time your competitors just might shoot right by you in local online listings.

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Do You Need a Website Audit?

Web Site Traffic Problems
One of the questions I get asked a lot is; “Why isn’t my website getting traffic?” When I tell them that I have no idea it takes them back a little because I am supposed to be an expert in the online traffic world. But just like real traffic, there are numerous things that can happen out there on the road that can slow, stall or bring traffic to a stand still and it’s the same with a website.

That’s why having someone conduct an audit when you have no idea what is happening is extremely important. It’s also much better for a real “live” person to do it so they can “see” what’s happening on the page; navigation, content, etc. I say this because there are companies that charge a fee to do an audit and all they do is run your website through a program to find keywords, density, links, etc. While all this is good stuff to know, I have yet to find a program that can help you with navigation, content, structure and strategy. That’s not to say that it won’t happen someday; but it has not happened yet.

Just last week I sat with a client that had no idea that the bots sent to the website couldn’t get past the front page. Everything past the home page was not being seen by the search engines. All of the page rank and page strength (a.k.a. juice) was coming from links that were going to the individual pages, which was good. However, they were not indexing the entire website because they couldn’t get in through the home page even though by looking at the home page one would “think” they were getting in because the visitor could.

This is just one of the things that could really impact a website and if you don’t have people looking at it that can connect the dots then you could spend a lot of unnecessary money to find the answer and correct the problem. Getting a website audit is well worth the cost to get your site working for you and your business.

The Moving Target Called Google

No one really knows what Google is going to do.
The one thing everyone can agree on when it comes to Google is that it is always in flux. It is this constant motion that both confounds some and challenges others. You might fool yourself into thinking you have tamed the monster for a little while but in time it will roar back in full form. This makes dealing with Google a very difficult thing especially when you have a million other things on your plate to get done in your business.

It’s no different here at Harkins Creative except for the fact that we HAVE to stay on top of the changes in Google for our clients as well as ourselves. It is a part of our business and we spend time and resources making sure we find out as much as possible about what Google is doing. The reason we pay so much attention to Google is simple; they control more search traffic than the other search engines combined! When someone else comes along and knocks Google off that mark, and that could theoretically happen one day, then we will start watching the new king of search. Until then we will all have to learn how to “dance” with Google and try to follow its lead; like it or not.

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