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Why Search Marketing Matters for Your Small Business

DOES SEO AND SEARCH MARKETING MATTER?

Google is everywhere. The search engine’s influence on potential customers’ decision making is well documented, but can be confusing or daunting for many business owners. The numbers show that when businesses invest their money and/or time in SEO and search marketing, the benefits and relative affordability of the process bring an extremely high return. This article will shed some light on the reason it is worthwhile to invest in a search marketing strategy aimed at Google and the other search engines.

WE CAN’T ALL BE SEO EXPERTSs – THERE’S NOT ENOUGH TIME IN THE DAY

We’ve reached the point where even the least tech-savvy business owners have heard of SEO, and many have a good sense of what it entails. Being business owners, there isn’t enough time in the day for them to be SEO experts as well. Part of that is the nature of running a business. It’s time consuming so learning about search engines isn’t a high priority. Due to the time it takes to operate their business, owners have a need for someone to step in a do some Internet and search marketing work. Otherwise search results (or lack thereof) will lead potential customers to their competitors.

Another reason to invest in search marketing: Google’s search algorithm is now a constantly changing, fluid program. It requires knowledgeable and talented search marketing people that comprehend the process. The search results algorithms, known by names such as Panda and Hummingbird, used to change every few month to every quarter. It allowed savvy owners and marketing people to figure out the changes and the complexities every so often. Now, the constant fluidity of the search algorithm means there are real time changes in search results all the time. They can change from minute to minute, depending on what kind of work is being done behind the scenes and through customer interaction.

BEHIND THE SCENES – THE SEARCH MARKETING WORK

The work search marketers do for businesses varies depending on the goals, needs and the type of business. A startup requires linkbuilding and website optimization work, while an established company may benefit from PR, blogging and content management. All of these are part of search marketing and SEO, but it is important to craft a strategy that is customized for each client.

Businesses would benefit most from the whole array of skilled services a good Internet and search marketer provides. In reality, a company like Optimize Digital will work with clients to create a strategy based on business goals, budgets and needs. Successful SEO and search marketing work includes the following:

  • Website Optimization – Back end changes to Meta data and other HTML tags tell the search engines who you are, where you are and what you offer.
  • Social Media Optimization (SMO) – Consistency of posting and branding is something the search engines deem influential in the relevancy of a business to potential customers searching online. Very few business owners without a marketing person on staff have the time to take care of this important factor.
  • Content Management – As the online world has changed, so has the way businesses brand and market online. Websites without blogs and photos, posted consistently, are now penalized by Google. So is lack of social media content and interaction. There are values for these SEO factors in the algorithms – they either help you or hurt you in search results. A good search marketer will also cross-promote the blogs and articles by submitting them to PR and article submission sites that Google finds relevant. Which brings us to the next item.
  • PR – Publicity is the goal of PR. When it works, the (positive) publicity helps the brand substantially. But even if local media doesn’t pick up press releases, Optimize Digital distributes the releases around the web. When they are picked up it creates link traffic and gives a company’s website a bump in relevancy values for search engines. The result is better search results. Optimize is a little different – we think PR is a great way to help out with search results, especially because it helps satisfy Google’s requirement for original content.
  • Link building – Though this process of submitting links and business listings has become less important, it is still something that needs to be done for a comprehensive search marketing campaign. In order to get found online, businesses have to expand their online presence. Beyond Facebook and Google, companies who want to get found have a presence on Yelp, Angie’s List, Merchant Circle, Thumbtack, Manta and the rest of the sites that influence the search rankings.

There are some other services not covered here, such as PPC campaigns or paid automated software subscriptions.

What is Google Looking For?

Google search makes its money by selling end user information and brand exposure to advertisers. So for them, the relevance of a website to the searcher (potential customer) is paramount. To that end, the search engines release data from time to time that tells Internet marketing specialists like Optimize Digital what to focus on. For example, original content has become more important than links and link building over time.

There are both technical aspects of search marketing like website optimization and creative aspects like content and social media. A good Internet marketing specialist can get a business to show up on the first page of search results. But not all have the actual business management experience to help your business increase revenues. It takes someone with expertise and a successful track record of helping small businesses to increase traffic, increase revenues and get the best return on investment.

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Online Reputation Management (ORM)

The goal of Online Reputation Management (ORM) is to minimize the visibility of negative content in search engine results and replace it with positive content including blogs, press releases, media coverage, social media posts and positive reviews. Here we’ll cover why PR and SEO strategies are effective tools for ORM.

Public Relations as a Tool for ORM

  • For online reputation management to be successful, a stout public relations strategy is vital. The more positive press published and archived online for your business, the better your online reputation.
  • When a potential customer searches for your brand online, an effective public relations campaign will yield pages of positive coverage such as company expansions or new hires, awards or newsworthy events. There are also press release sites and blogger sites that the search engines deem influential. Optimize Digital creates and publishes curated content for these PR websites, press release websites and social media networks as part of our PR/SEO/ORM crossover campaigns.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Online Reputation Management

  • Search engine optimization is another proven solution to deliver measurable results in maintaining a company’s positive online perception and counteracting unfavorable results. Gain control over what users are viewing by using search engine optimization to manage your online presence. That includes responding to all reviews on social media and crowd review sites like Yelp. Website optimization and content management are the most important aspects of SEO for Online Relationship Management.
  • According to industry surveys, over 85% of consumers believe search engines are important when making decisions about where to do business. A well-rounded SEO strategy doesn’t just cover up negative feedback or articles, but makes the most of any publicity, promotes positive content and grows a company’s digital community.

A well-executed strategy of PR and SEO will push negative content or reviews further down in search results. 80% of seartchers never go past the first two pages of results. So a successful ORM project will show your potential customers the positive, current feedback and info about your business online.

Jesse Diamond

MARKETING & SEO GET FOUND ONLINE

www.optimizedigitalonline.com

Tel: 914-631-3613

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It is important for small businesses to have a trusted partner to stay on top of the latest changes, trends, challenges and opportunities presented by Google and the search engines.
At Optimize Digital, we keep ahead of the digital curve by doing research, a lot of reading, talking to other industry professionals at conferences and in the field, and of course practicing the knowledge and skills in the real world for our small business clients.

Here is an informative article from PC Mag that points out some SEO best practices that are beneficial in improving search results and getting noticed by potential customers online:

Link: https://www.pcmag.com/article/344253/4-google-seo-best-practices-to-help-get-your-small-business

Full article text below:

4 Google SEO Best Practices to Help Get Your Small Business Noticed

As Google adjusts its search algorithm, your small to midsize business (SMB) can maintain its high ranking if you follow these four search engine optimization (SEO) practices, compiled in honor of National Small Business Week.

Let’s face it: Once you start playing a game, you want the rules to stay the same. In the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, for example, you wouldn’t want to suddenly have forward passes outlawed. (Actually, wait a minute, I’m from Seattle; if we could go back to the Seattle/New England Super Bowl and outlaw forward passes with about one minute to go in the game, that would be awesome.) But, inmost instances, you don’t want the rules to change midway through the game.

Google’s plans to change its search algorithm sounds like it’s planning to change the rules of the search engine optimization (SEO) game. Viewed one way, this could cause problems for businesses—especially small businesses that don’t have the same deep pockets to afford website redesigns. Web-savvy companies build their websites with business intelligence (BI) and SEO in mind. Following SEO best practices can help a company appear higher in the web search rankings.

Google Penguin

Currently, one of the algorithms Google follows is the “Penguin” algorithm, which was announced in 2012. Penguin tries to decrease the search engine rankings of websites that violate the Webmaster Guidelines established by Google. As a result, higher quality websites appear at the top of the rankings. Penguin aims to remove “search engine spam.” Penguin 2.0 was released in 2013 and Penguin 3.0 followed in 2014. Whenever a new update is released, this can mean big changes for the way webpages are ranked within Google.

Penguin 4.0 was originally expected to be released at the end of 2015, but Google has remained silent about the release since then (which is no longer believed to be on target). On April 15, Google said there will be a formal announcement made when Penguin 4.0 is ready to be released, but there was nothing specific that could be announced yet. A core algorithm update launched in January, which some confused with Penguin 4.0, but the update was ultimately determined to be separate changes.

Starting in March, some other changes to Google’s algorithm began to occur. Speculation arose that these changes may be initial tests for Penguin 4.0. Speculation also suggested this was an update to Google Panda, another algorithm change that focuses on lowering the rank of lower-quality websites (rather than search engine spam or websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines). Google Panda algorithm changes tend to be released on a more gradual basis. Anecdotal information suggested that small changes were occurring, at least on a temporary basis.

Since late March, there has been evidence that the algorithm has changed, at least in part, but no formal announcement has been made—and no technical details have been officially released regarding how the algorithm will specifically change and affect users.

In honor of National Small Business Week, I’ve compiled four suggestions that small businesses should follow now and as more algorithm changes are rolled out.

1. Content is Still King

Content is one king that even Game of Thrones can’t kill. Google prioritizes compelling, fresh content in its rankings. If you want your website to rise in the rankings, you need to be publishing fresh, new content on your website as often as possible.

Google refers to this as RankBrain. Suffice it to say, your content can’t be simply a bunch of keywords. Google is trying to optimize for compelling, real-world content (the kind that writers create and that website visitors read). Increasingly, Google is trying to crack down on people who abuse the algorithm. Instead, Google is trying to use machine learning and intelligence to assess what is real content. Think of it this way: If you create content on your website that will genuinely attract your target audience, and then introduce fresh content on a regular basis, you will likely improve your search rankings.

2. Monitor Changes to Rankings

Have some of your pages gone up or down in search rankings since late March? If yes, review those pages in relation to the specifications Google has provided. And, even if you don’t know if your search rankings have gone up or down, review your traffic logs and see if you can observe any significant changes to the traffic to certain pages originating from Google. Compare traffic in January, February, or early March with traffic in late March and April.

3. Go Small

For the past year, Google has penalized websites that are not mobile-friendly. In March, Google announced that it was going to increase the importance of mobile friendliness in its search rankings. Google provides tools that you can use to determine the friendliness of your website for mobile. If your website isn’t already mobile-friendly, it’s time for you to embrace all of those small screens out there. The change in the algorithm to favor mobile websites was even given a name: “mobilegeddon” because the change could be viewed as the end of the world for non-mobile websites.

You can gauge Google’s preference for mobile by looking at its own website. It used to be that pay-per-click ads were positioned in the right-hand column. Now, paid ads are in the same column as organic search results, making them easier to be seen on mobile devices where screen widths are small. Work with your web hosting service to make this change as soon as possible.

4. Review Google’s Search Console, and Watch for Additional Changes

By accessing the search console, you should be able to track keywords. Look for changes. Do this fairly soon because Google only archives 90 days of data. As additional changes are rolled out, you may experience changes in your rankings and traffic.

Monitor both your logs and the press over the next few months to identify changes so that you can react quickly to them. By being an early adopter of changes that relate to Google’s updates, you can get a jump on your competition and rise in the rankings. So, hey, maybe changing the rules midway through the game is good after all.

Get in Touch

Optimize Digital

Online Marketing, Web Design & SEO Solutions – Get Found Online
520 White Plains Rd, Ste 500
Tarrytown, NY 10567

jesse@optimizedigitalonline.com
www.optimizedigitalonline.com

Tel: 914-631-3613

 

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Digital Marketing Pro Tips: Social Media Optimization (SMO)

At first glance, SMO is just another in the endless line of acronyms digital marketers use on a daily basis. In this case we have some actual use for our acronym, SMO. Why? Optimizing your website and your social media practices is a great way to increase the flow of traffic to your website, product or offer.

Here we offer some suggestions to make social media and your website work better for your business. After all, you’re most likely on social media already, so why not get the most out of it?

What is Social Media Optimization, and what are some of the ways it can help your business?

The main concept of SMO is to implement changes to optimize a site so that it is more easily linked to, more highly visible in social media searches and on search engines, and more frequently included in relevant posts on blogs, podcasts and video blogs.

The other side of SMO is implementing changes to your social media page and/or posts in order to better engage both with your target audience and the social media site’s search algorithm.

Below are suggestions separated into two sections: website SMO and Facebook best practices.

 

Optimizing Website Content for Social Media

Link to Facebook

Add a Facebook button to each blog post that links to your Facebook page.

Adding a “Share on Facebook” button would be even better

It requires downloading a WordPress plugin. While someone sharing your Facebook post is fantastic, someone sharing to his or her page via your blog creates the added benefit of the valuable-for-SEO back link.

More info on WordPress social share plugins here: https://www.bloggingwizard.com/top-wordpress-social-sharing-plugins-2014/

Contact Info in Blog Posts

Add contact info to blog posts, or at least a link to your contact page to make it as easy as possible for a potential customer who clicked through via a Facebook post to call or email.

Yoast Social Tab

If your website or blog was built with WordPress, use the Yoast plugin “Social” tab, when applicable, to optimize the blog for Facebook sharing. You can choose the exact title and description you want. Sometimes the blog article blurb used by Facebook does not contain the type of keywords you want to use.

For example, you could add geo-keywords (useful when boosting a post, described later).

You can choose which photo will show on Facebook. This is useful if the blog post has multiple photos.

UXO – User Experience Optimization

Optimize the blog post for “user experience” (UX), which is the implemetation of user-friendly structural and experiential factors and features that help improve your site for the general user.

User experience optimization (UXO) is relevant here because it has shown to be an effective way to engage your viewer for longer.

Once you get them to your site/blog, the longer you keep them there the better, for both SEO and conversions to customers. In addition, it is an important way to tell the search engine that the given page/article is relevant and useful for its users. Some methods include:

  • Using relevant, keyword-rich blog titles.
  • Using lists, bullet points, and H2 and H3 Headings to allow easy skimming.
  • Breaking up longish paragraphs so they are easy to scan.

Call to Action

Marketing studies show – it is beneficial to add a subtle call to action to the blog (or Facebook) post whenever it is possible to do so tactfully.

Facebook Best Practices for SMO

Advertise on Facebook

Boosting posts tactfully and strategically is a very cost effective way to get your business in front of new potential customers’ eyes.

Depending on the number of people you want to reach, $25 – $50 would expose your business to possibly thousands of people who could be potential customers.

During the setup of a sponsored post, you have the opportunity to target specific towns, demographics and even interests. Facebook analytics are useful; they even offer A/B testing.

Use relevant keywords in posts, as well as in the blog titles and Facebook descriptions (covered above).

Keywords are important for your website, blog content, and your social content. This also helps keep your content relevant to your target audience, especially in searches. Finally, it helps with SEO.

  • Use hash tags when appropriate – they are searchable.
  • Remember that Facebook is a search engine as well as a network.
  • Interact with your target audience on Facebook

Reply to all reviews (and on Yelp). Like other people’s and businesses’ posts, share the occasional post by a customer.

Optimize your Facebook cover photo

Facebook displays the cover photo at 828 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall on computers and 640 pixels wide by 360 pixels tall on smartphones.

The word out there is the best way to size your photo is to make it 851 x 315 pixels.

Keep mobile in mind. The photo will be automatically cropped.

It’s best to use people or even animals in the photo – that has shown create an emotional connection. Example here is Purina’s cover:

Include Links In Image Captions

This is sometimes overlooked, but image captions offer another place to add a link. It’s a small detail, but it can help add a bit of traffic back to your blog or website. This goes for your cover photo too.

Upload Video Directly To Facebook

Video has exploded in terms of importance for content marketing, with YouTube dominating as the online video platform of choice. Facebook has taken steps to be more competitive as a place to find prime video content. For this reason, Facebook prioritizes and favors video posted directly into Facebook, versus video shared from YouTube (or somewhere else).

Please don’t hesitate to contact Optimize Digital if you have any questions about social media marketing, or if you would like more information or training on social media optimization.

Get in Touch

Optimize Digital

Online Marketing, Web Design & SEO Solutions – Get Found Online
520 White Plains Rd, Ste 500
Tarrytown, NY 10567

jesse@optimizedigitalonline.com
http://optimizedigitalonline.comwww.optimizedigitalonline.com

Tel: 914-631-3613

 

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Business Owners: How to Utilize Video for Search Results and Online Exposure

Let’s dive right in – we all get the idea that video is huge now. From the streaming and binge watching of Netflix and Hulu to YouTube and Social Media; video is the future, and the future is now. Below are some insights, stats and suggestions about video, and how to use it to bring new customers your way.

1. Video is a Tool for SEO and Marketing that you have to Use

As your website becomes more optimized over time, it will start to rank higher in search engines for relevant search terms. As this happens, you’ll see an increase in traffic, or prospects viewing your site. Ultimately this increases sales too – as long as your website kicks your competition to the curb and acts as a lead generation engine.

Here are some stats about why it would be beneficial to begin incorporating video into your digital marketing efforts and budget (via www.inc.com):

  • It is estimated that nearly 80% of Internet traffic is video content.
  • People are 85% more likely to buy a product after viewing a product video.
  • Posts with videos attract 3X more links than text-only posts.
  • 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week.
  • 85% of the US Internet audience watches videos online.
  • The 25-34 (millennial) age group watches the most online videos and men spend more time watching videos on the Internet than women.

1a) Suggestion: Consider placing a video on your landing page (home page). Landing pages containing video have been proven to show increased conversion rates.

2) Google Favors Video for Search Results

Notice how videos tend to show up near the top of search results pages (SERPs)? It is because Google’s search algorithm and its AI prefer video. They prefer video because all the stats show Google’s users prefer video.

The metrics are different for different industries and economic sectors, but the facts show video is key for search marketing. Working with a digital marketer who knows video marketing is now a must for all business owners.

Here is a simple whiteboard video for Optimize Digital that often shows up in search results when people are looking for help with their websites, content marketing and social media, or SEO:

Periodically uploading a new YouTube video to your YouTube channel, even if it is from your vendors or suppliers, is another way to show the search engines that you are putting out relevant content on a consistent basis. Moreover it is in the current preferred medium.

Here is another video we made – for Willow Creek Dental in the Twin Cities, MN that reminds potential customers who they are, and prompts current ones to come back:

On the same note, a blog post with a video is more likely to catch the search engine’s attention.

3) YouTube is a Search Engine – Optimize Your Videos

YouTube is currently the world’s 2nd biggest search engine. Millennials use YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat and more to find what they’re looking for.

Focusing on YouTube for this article, it is important to optimize videos just as it is important to optimize photos and web pages:

3a) Optimize Video File Name: what is the subject of the video? Keywords are better than something like, “T1265.jpg”.

3b) Use Keywords in Video Title:

Here it can be useful to do a little keyword research to find out which videos show up well in Google search results. The videos on your YouTube channel should have great Titles for SEO. But the titles and descriptions also need to do a great job of marketing the video to Google’s search engine. One of the keys is to know which types of videos are searched for most, and which people watch.

In general, Google tends to show video results for the follwing types of keywords:

  • How-to keywords
  • Reviews
  • Tutorials
  • Funny videos

3c) Utilize the Video Description area to provide useful information (the search engine reads it):

Your video descriptions are important. Because Google and YouTube can’t “listen” to videos, they rely on your text description to determine your video’s content.

Here are the basic guidelines for the description:

  • Put your link at the very top of the video
  • Keyword optimize
  • Make the description useful for readers, and at least 250-words
  • Add other links where appropriate

Contact Optimize Digital for more information on optimizing your YouTube channel, and you videos, so they show up in Search.

3d) Tags

Tags aren’t vitally important, but they help. Just include a few keywords to help YouTube and Google learn what your video is about.

4) Suggestions on Getting Video Views

  • Place a link to your YouTube Channel on staff email signatures.
  • Promote your YouTube channel on Facebook.
  • Place a button/link to your YouTube Channel on your website.
  • Upload videos from your website onto your YouTube channel, using the optimization suggestions above.
  • Upload videos from your website onto your Facebook page, using the optimization suggestions above.
  • Upload videos from your website onto your Google+ page, using the optimization suggestions above.
  • If you’re already publishing videos on YouTube, the next step is to optimize them for search engines. If you have a bunch of videos on Instagram and social media – remember, Google and Facebook are competitors, so you won’t get search benefit from Facebook videos.
  • You’ll want to upload the video directly to both platforms. And don’t forget to link the videos in your blog to your YouTube channel.

Using the video marketing strategies and tactics above on a consistent basis will help you leap ahead of your competitors in search results. Not only that, it will also increase engagement, conversions, and your marketing ROI.

 

Optimize Digital

Online Marketing, Web Design & SEO Solutions – Get Found Online

520 White Plains Rd, Ste 500
Tarrytown, NY 10567

jesse@optimizedigitalonline.com
www.optimizedigitalonline.com

Tel: 914-631-3613

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The “Key” to Local SEO Keyword Strategy

At Optimize Digital, we focus on getting the maximum SEO benefit for your business. That usually starts with our clients coming up with a keyword list.

In fact, every business owner or manager should have a list of keywords that their clients would use to search for their business.

There are few ways to go about keyword strategy, depending on your goals and needs – here we’ll focus on Geographic keywords:

These are county, city or even neighborhood place names that target a specific area. A must for local SEO. We can help businesses focus on their core geographic markets where they already have a strong presence. Or, we can target areas in your market where you want more clients.

Here are some strategies we use at Optimize Digital:

  • Narrowing the search terms down to neighborhoods, e.g. “Northeast Minneapolis” or “Lindon Hills”, can produce better qualified potential customers, as well as increase the relevancy of your website. I.e. better search engine rankings.
  • Denote markets you serve in multiple places on the website: header, footer, sidebar, contact page.
  • We claim and update your business profile on the Top 50 Local Business Directories in the US.
  • We use geographic keywords in the content we publish and manage for your business.
  • The bottom line is that when you are looking for more lo cal exposure for your business, a geographic keywords strategy is the place to start. Without it, you lose focus of who your target market is, and where they are.

By: Optimize Digital

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New Optimize Digital Marketing Clients in Westchester, NY

Optimize Digital is thrilled to announce three new clients in Westchester, NY. All three provide great services for their community. In addition, they all have a serious passion for what they do. That is part of the reason they hired Optimize Digital to help them with digital marketing – to help their passion thrive.

1. Can’t Lose Diet, Harrison, NY

https://www.cantlosediet.com/cant-lose-diet-process/

“We are committed to promoting good health, learning better eating habits and achieving a healthy weight level for your body. Why? Because you are unique. Mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually, you are an individual unlike anyone else, and the Can’t Lose Diet works specifically to promote your optimum health and well-being. It doesn’t end there, however.Following the Can’t Lose Diet means you are making healthy food choices and purchasing locally-sourced products whenever available. Your successes help raise awareness for better healthy living as you engage in improving the overall health of the community.”

2. Gentleman’s Barber Spa

https://www.gentlemansbarberspa.com

“Imagine an exclusive club-like atmosphere where a man can indulge in the quiet luxury of a great haircut, a shave and the sense of serenity that provides a welcome interlude in our hectic lives. This is the founding idea behind Gentleman’s Barber Spa, created by world-class master barber Peter Palushi, formerly of London’s prestigious Truefitt & Hill and New York’s The Art of Shaving.

From the very moment that you step into the Gentleman’s Barber Spa, you sense the difference from the standard barber shop: the refurbished antique barber chairs from 1950s, the classic setting, the attractive and highly professional staff. And the range of services, from hair cuts to shaves, from facials to massage. It’s all yours. It’s all waiting for you. It’s all about Looking Great. Feeling Special.”

Contact Optimize Digital to discuss your digital marketing needs:

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