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Is It Time to Update Your SEO Strategy?

seo-896175_1280Have you ever searched your business on Google and wondered why your website didn’t come up first? Are you frustrated that your competitor ranks better than you? As a business owner in today’s high-tech world, having an online presence is essential for the success of your business. But did you know that in order to reach your target audiences through search engines, you need to have a top-notch SEO strategy?

In case you’re unaware, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Keywords used to be all the rage in SEO strategies, but the tips and tricks to reach the top of search results have changed since the beginnings of SEO.

Many businesses have marketing strategies that include regular updates to their website so that it is always modern, user-friendly, and bug-free. However, I’ve seen many gorgeous websites from successful businesses fail to reach the top of relevant search results because they forgot to update their SEO strategy.

To help bring your SEO strategy into the present, here is a comparison of SEO strategies of the past and what SEO strategies should include today:

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Now that you know the latest in SEO best practices, remember to integrate them into your quarterly or annual marketing plan. Create a content schedule and stick to it, because when you regularly post engaging content, search engine crawlers are triggered to visit your website more often to potentially improve your ranking. And I strongly suggest using an analytics platform to track your website traffic, so you will know if your SEO strategy is successful or needs to be revamped.

If you would like some help customizing an SEO strategy for your target audience, contact CreativeWorks Marketing today!

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Google AdWords Made Simple

Today’s economy is challenging for many businesses, but it’s an even bigger challenge for the SMB owner, who is forced to use increasingly smaller marketing budgets to increase brand recognition and drive sales through lead generation tactics.  One such lead gen tactic is Google AdWords. You’ve seen those ads that appear on the side of the page every time you search for something on Google. Businesses bid for this online advertising through Google AdWords. All you have to do is create an ad, and choose specific search keywords which you would like to target, and, voila! Your ads might appear on Google, next to the search results. The idea is that people interested in your product/service can simply click on your ad to either make a purchase or learn more about your company.

Sounds simple, right? Well, from a conceptual standpoint, it is. In practice, however, we have found that for many of our small business clients, using Google AdWords is more of a science.  Finding the “right” balance of key words, with the words used in the ad, together with the right bid amount takes many, many hours of ad monitoring, key word adjustment, ads revisions, as well as working to increase ad click-through rates and daily budgets.

Google AdWords is generally thought of as an ideal advertising “add-on” for small businesses with limited budgets, but even if you know what you’re doing, depending on your industry and keywords, it can be an expensive venture, and therefore needs to be closely monitored (in fact, hourly monitoring is best!).

Here are a few lessons that we’ve learned about Google Adwords for small business that I’d recommend to any small business considering investing in this advertising program.

  1. Before you create your ad, spend some time reviewing your web analytics to see what terms people are using to find you online at this point. Google Analytics offers this type of information.
  2. In combination with the keyword tool Google Ad Words provides, create a list of targeted keywords (narrow these down to focus on a specific service/product and your targeted audience).
  3. Create two very targeted ads. Always create two ads, so you can see which one is doing better, and simply replace it as the campaign evolves.
  4. Decide on your maximum monthly budget (I suggest being able to spend at least $100 a month).
  5. Direct the ad to link to a specific page on your site. Or, if you have the budget, create a landing page on your site specifically for this ad. For services, this page needs to have the ability to capture lead gen via a form or download. For products, this page needs to have a special offer.
  6. Launch the campaign, and monitor it hourly. Keep a close eye not just on your cost-per-click (CPC), and the Average CPC (how much you are paying on average per click), but also the first page bid estimate (which tells you how much you need to spend to be on the first page).  These three areas will help you to decide which terms you may want to pause, and which ones you might want to increase your bid rate on.
  7. You’ll need to make sure that you have metrics on your website to track the number of people that are actually coming to the linked page via Google.
  8. Run the ad campaign for a month (if funds permit), and generate a report at the end of each week to capture the CPC, which key terms did well, increase in traffic to your site via the ad, how many leads were generated (or products sold), and note if there is a pattern emerging. For example, you might notice that there are lots of clicks on Thursday and Friday mornings, and it tapers off over the weekend, and early in the week.  You can then decide to put more money towards your CPC on Thursday and Fridays.

I have tried to capture the basics to help create and launch your Google AdWord campaign, but it’s worth noting that this tool has a huge number of functions. There are other options to consider, including impression vs. clicks; how to increase your quality score; what is the advantage of display networks vs. search; what are filters and ad extensions; and how should you determine your campaign settings and so much more.

With such a deep online advertising tool with a multitude of variables you can see why, if used correctly, Google AdWords has the potential to increase your ROI. It does, however, require considerable thought, time and effort to make it work for your business.

Have you used Google AdWords in your small business?  If so, have you found it helpful?  Has it increased your ROI? Do you have any questions about how to set up a Google AdWords campaign? Please share your questions and comments below.

Online Marketing: How To Get Found

The phrase “If you build it, they will come”, may have worked in Field of Dreams, but in online marketing, we must build something, and create the avenues that help us get found.

In previous blogs, I’ve outlined some marketing approaches and the importance of knowing what to look for, what marketing tools you might require and what social media you might use on the journey to increase brand awareness and grow revenue. In this blog, I’d like to get back to basics and outline what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) activities are, and how they can help you to attain your online marketing goals.

The term SEO is frequently bandied about for show, these days, but let us never forget what it really means:  the process of improving the visibility of your website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural,” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”), search results. (Wikipedia)

SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines and which search engines are preferred by targeted audiences.

The goal is to increase your SEO to achieve the highest possible rankings for searches that are relevant for your business.  In simple terms, you want people to find you by typing certain words into Google or Yahoo or Bing.

Here’s some tips to help you better navigate the world of SEO.  If you need some more clarification on how best to increase you SEO, consult with a marketing agency you trust to advise you on the best strategy for your business.

1. Get indexed

The leading search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo!, use crawlers to find pages for their algorithmic search results. Search engine crawlers may look at a number of different factors when crawling a site. Not every page is indexed by the search engines.

Crawlers cannot read Flash sites.

2. Increase prominence

A variety of methods can increase the prominence of a webpage within the search results.

  • Cross linking between pages of the same website to provide more links to most important pages may improve its visibility.
  • Keywords
    The language of the search engines is keywords. Based on the words or phrases searchers use, search engines determine the most relevant fit and rank results accordingly. Writing content that includes frequently searched keyword phrases, so as to be relevant to a wide variety of search queries, will tend to increase traffic.
  • Meta data
    Adding relevant keywords to a web page’s meta data, including the title tag and meta description, will tend to improve the relevancy of a site’s search listings, thus increasing traffic.  Use your keywords properly in your page titles, page headings and alt tags (image descriptions).

3. GO BEYOND YOUR SITE

Search engines give significant weight to what happens beyond your web site. This is often referred to as off-page SEO. Updating content so as to keep search engines crawling back frequently can give additional weight to a site. The premise is that they place more trust in how credible you are to others, versus how you present yourself.  Off-page SEO means web sites, and other sources, directing (linking) interested parties back to you. The greater the number of credible back links to your web site, the higher your search engine ranking.

4. USE SOCIAL MEDIA

As with off-page SEO, the search engines place more weight on how you are perceived online.  Social media is another opportunity for your site to be indexed and increase your rankings. Social Media influences search engine rankings, so keep up the frequency of your posts. The more you post, the more there is to index, and the higher your rankings.  Search engines also take into account any content created or accessed by people in the searcher’s social network.Search engine optimization is something you need to take seriously if you want increased visibility and more inbound leads: build it, create the avenues, keep it fresh and they will come!

Have any SEO questions or stories you’d like to share?