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Local SEO, Paid Ads, Website SEO: Why all Three Matter

A business providing services to a local market should not underestimate the importance of local SEO services. Local SEO efforts often produce more website traffic and more leads. Higher conversions result when your local listings are optimized to accurately reflect your business information, products and services.

Our Omaha SEO team can tell you over and over about why local search engine optimization is important, but how about I just SHOW you. But before I do… let me tell you one more time.

GMB, Apple Maps and Yelp are all big players in local SEO

An optimized Google My Business (GMB) listing will help you pull up in Google for relevant searches – as this information pulls into the local map-pack, which has high visibility. Get a Step-By-Step Guide for setting up your GMB page, if you don’t already have one.

Your Apple Maps listing helps your business rank well for Siri voice command searches. And with over 700 million iPhones current being used worldwide, many users are using Siri search on their iPhones. And, Yelp provides Apple with access to some of its business page information, including reviews. So, optimizing your information and managing reviews for Yelp could not only assist you in organic rankings, but can also help with visibility in Apple Maps.

OPTIMIZE MY LOCAL SEARCH

To help you visualize

Here’s an example Google search for Dentist Omaha.

Paid Ads, Map Pack and Organic Search Results Illustration

You will see the paid ads appear at the top of the page, then the map pack, then organic results. Then at the bottom of the page are more paid ads.

What does this mean?

This image shows us two things. First, it shows us the importance of having a local SEO strategy. The map pack pulls in GMB pages organically based on the search query, matching the GMB listing with the keyword(s) being searched. And, the first organic result is from Yelp. While that isn’t the case for every search result for every product of service Yelp still ranks well for local product and service queries.

Second, this image shows the need for a holistic approach to your web marketing strategy. A Google Ads strategy partnered with local search optimization AND website search engine optimization efforts will help your business appear in all three sections.

OPTIMIZE MY LOCAL SEARCH

Why you Should Optimize for Local Search

Local Search pulls results into the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) based on businesses and places near a user’s location. These local search results appear in the map, commonly referred to as the map pack or three pack, and results.

Being present in local search for relevant searches can dramatically affect your impact, pushing quality traffic and increasing conversions. Three critical places our Omaha SEO team pushes for local search impact is Google My Business (GMB), Apple Maps and Yelp. In fact, we’re offer a FREE optimization of all three of these platforms during December 2018.

Google Maps local search icon

Why is local search so important?

If you’ve done a Google search for a product or service, you’ve noticed that Google is putting more and more emphasis on serving results from its server instead of pages from individual websites. This is by design and is only the beginning of how Google plans to morph in a source of knowledge, instead of serving a knowledge buffet.

Considering these ongoing changes, local search is more important than ever. With its prominent placement on SERPS, the map pack can provide big results for your local business in the search engines. This information is pulled in through Google My Business account information.

Google serves its local results based on three main factors: relevance, distance and prominence.

HELP ME OPTIMIZE FOR LOCAL SEARCH

Of course, you should care about Google My Business.

An optimized GMB page is necessary for success in local results on Google. Not only does it appear in relevant searches on the map pack, but it also provides quick, easy to access business information for customers and prospects.

STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO SET UP GMB

Knowing that Google serves its results by relevance, distance and prominence, and that the most visible results are being served by Google’s servers, its easy to see why GMB is an important factor for local SEO success. All three of these factors play upon your accuracy and investment into the page. There is no way to pay for better local ranking on Google, but by filling your GMB page with accurate information and actively managing the listing your going to make progress toward being found on local search results.

screenshot of Google Search local map pack results

Why care about Apple Maps & Yelp?

If you’re not an Apple user, you probably don’t use Apple Maps. But you’ve likely heard of it, having marred with bugs and broken data partnerships. Nevertheless, Apple has put big money into fixing its Apple Maps App and its reputation over the last couple of years.

Apple Maps is relevant because over 700 million iPhones are currently being used worldwide, and many of these users use the default Siri search on their phone. Siri returns Apple Maps results and, in fact, to use Google Maps on an iOS requires an additional step to query a local business, product or service. With the popular rise of voice command search it’s clearly important to have an optimized listing on Apple Maps.

As for Yelp, it provides Apple with access to some of its business page information. And instead of building its own database for reviews, they utilize Yelp reviews. So, by optimizing and managing your Yelp listing to include accurate information and responses to reviews, you are syncing with Apple Maps to provide it better data.

Get in on local search optimization NOW

Do not wait to use these free tools for local SEO. Not only will these tools help you be found in local results, but when optimized and managed well, will help you to complete on Google amid its changing algorithms.

Want to make sure you get this local optimization in the bag? During December 2018 we are offering a FREE local search optimization, so don’t miss out.

OPTIMIZE MY LOCAL SEARCH

Online Videos Changing Consumer Habits and Marketer Strategies

Remember when the only way to watch your favorite TV show was to sit on the couch at the exact time the show was set to air? Oh… and you could only use the bathroom or grab a snack during the commercial break. How did we even SURVIVE this inconvenience? Needless to say, the way we consume TV content has changed.

More than half of 18-to 49-year-olds watch very little TV or do not subscribe to TV, according to Google, and the number of households without a traditional TV subscription rises each year. I probably don’t need to tell you this, but traditional cable and satellite providers are struggling, having lost about 415,000 subscribers in the second quarter of this year alone.

And while the struggle is real for cable providers, traditional TV content is not dead (and won’t be for the foreseeable future). Many factors, including video streaming services, digital ad spending and mobile user growth factor into the shift in TV entertainment. Social media growth, particularly that of YouTube, is among the top reasons why TV entertainment is a changing landscape.

illustration of man watching a show on tv

Why should you consider YouTube?

As of September 2018, the total number of monthly active YouTube users was 1.9 billion. People are not just watching YouTube on their mobile devices and they’re not just watching cute cat videos. In fact, people are spending twice as much time watching official TV channels on YouTube as they did two years ago, and they are watching it ON their TV.

YouTube is the second fastest growing search engine and the second most trafficked site, the first being Google. Owned by Google, YouTube applies the same principles of enhanced user experience and user-focused algorithms as the traditional Google search engine. And just as Ads on Google search offers affordable and targeted opportunities for web marketing, YouTube also offers targeted, affordable and effective marketing opportunities. In fact, more than half of marketers are advertising on YouTube, reporting that they see YouTube content driving views, engagement and purchases.

Launch a YouTube Campaign

What does this mean for your marketing dollars?

If your marketing goals and dollars are conducive to producing YouTube content and running ads, it could be worthy of your time. The data and projections can be compelling. Google estimates that by 2025, half of viewer under the age of 32 will not subscribe to a paid TV service. And it’s not because they’re not watching… it’s because they’re watching online video content instead.

Users view more than 500 million hours of video each day on YouTube. And if your customers are among them, targeting them on YouTube and re targeting them can increase click-through rate and conversion rates.

Get Started on YouTube

Make Your Website Faster: Tips to Increase Page Load Speed

In a time where Google puts its highest priority on user experience, and users are not willing to wait for much of anything… website load time is a critical factor for search engine rankings and retaining potential leads.

There are many factors to consider: browser, website host, device, page content, etc. But first, let’s start with YOUR website’s load time.

What’s my website loading speed?

You can check page load time through a couple avenues. If you use Chrome, you can use the Chrome extension “Page Load Time” or a separate tracker like Pingdom. You can also check if your website is loading fast enough for you visitors by checking your bounce rate. Bounce rate can be seen through Google Analytics. If the bounce rate is high, it can indicate load time is too slow. High bounce rate can also negatively impact Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Google Webmaster recommends a maximum of 2 second load time for an ecommerce website, but Google aims for a half a second. That’s fast.

Help Check my Website Speed

frustrated user waiting for website to load

How to make my website faster

Compress: The file size that the browser renders is king. The smaller the image the faster the load time. Here are some tips to optimize your images for faster website load time.

  • Resize your images before you upload them onto a page. Don’t load a 5000x3500px image when your image on the page displays at 500×300. Your browser needs to calculate this resizing, and this takes time.
  • Remove all the metadata from an image to reduce the image size. For example, you don’t need to know what camera was used, where the photo was taken, etc… This can bloat the filesize that the browser needs to render. This takes time.
  • Consider compressing your CSS and Javascript files so that they are condensed into fewer files and the overall bytes loaded is smaller. This can make future edits to your site tedious and time consuming, so be sure to consult your web developer and get their advice before doing this.
  • Consult your website hosting provider about how to utilize gzip to serve your website files to browsers. Compressing the resources that the browser requests can allow your browser to get information faster.

Help me Compress

Design, Coding & Content: The three main factors when building a website, all contributing to website load time. Here are some tips to optimize website design, coding and website content for fast website load time.

  • Remove the junk. Many prebuilt templates are built to sell and have ALL the features. By the time you have your content, images, page structure, etc. established, you’re left with a lot of dead weight you’re not using. Delete as much unnecessary data from your template as possible, including images, plugins and posts.
  • If speed is a top priority, consider getting a custom-built template. Often, prebuilt templates are built in a complex way to hide code, making it harder for others to “borrow” code. These hiding techniques are good at making it difficult to borrow, but they also sometimes make a browser load more files, or the structure of the code causes render blocking (some sections on the site cannot render until all the appropriate files are loaded). This can increase load time and create the illusion that the page loads extremely slow.
  • During the website design process, don’t force a ton of heavy elements into your design: Use fewer photos, host videos on YouTube, consider less “moving content” like ajax loading or lazy-load content.

Optimize my Design

Other Considerations: Consider utilizing the open source Accelerated Mobile Pages provided by Google. Basically, Google renders a snapshot of your site instead of reloading it for mobile users, so it loads lightning fast. But be sure to understand the problems with caching for this method of Google displaying your content.

How to design a fast website

The best route to go is to ditch the out-of-the-box solution and partner with a website design and SEO company. If you’re working with a team that builds websites to look beautiful with best SEO practices in mind, website load time will be considered through every step of the process.

Our website design and Search Engine Optimization Omaha team considers website load speed from the initial planning stages through our SEO strategy implementation. So, if you want to know how to design a fast website, let us know, or we can make it happen for you.

Make My Website Fast

5 Ways to Increase User Time on Site

It all comes back to user experience. Whether its design, functionality or content – a successful website provides a user with value. User experience is so important that it’s become the main driver for Google’s algorithm updates over the last several years. And it’s been said in some major SEO studies that one of the most critical factors for SEO success is user time on page. User time on site is directly correlated to user experience. If your website design is pleasing, if your functionality is friendly, and your content is engaging and valuable the overall time on site will increase. Abandoning visitors increase the bounce rate (user gets to your website and leaves without clicking anything), which reduces conversions and profits. You can find out your average user time on site through Google Analytics under Audience > Overview.
Here are five tips from our Omaha web design and SEO team for increasing user time on site:

Spruce up design

Your website design gives users a first impression. The design entices or turns away a user before they even start reading the content. So, make that first impression count with a website design that’s clean, functional and accurately reflects your business. A user-friendly website will also be mobile-friendly. Make sure your website is using responsive technology. Google will reward your website for responsive technology and the added value and readability will increase time on site for mobile users, also increasing your organic rankings.

Quality content

Among Google’s guidelines for content is “make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.” Contrary to the old-school way of thinking, keywords stuffed into mindless or irrelevant content will not increase SEO value. Your website content, page structure, design… everything… should be geared toward adding value to your users. This is relevant to pages relating to your core services and to your website blog. Feeding Google consistent content through a blog/news page can be great. But the quantity of content is no longer a key factor for SEO success. Instead, focus on quality of content. If you are unable to produce quality content for your blog, then get rid of it (or hire JM to do it). A blog that’s not being updating with quality content is likely doing nothing for your SEO value and it’s not building credibility for website visitors.

Internal linking

Keep users interested by pointing them to the next thing they’ll want to read. Across your website, link to related services or key team members when relevant. On blogs, link to other related articles whenever possible. This will help provide more relevant information that will appeal to user’s direct interests and be good for your website’s SEO. Links are crucial SEO ranking signals. Inbound links, outbound links and internal links help Google figure out what is relevant and authoritative.

Optimize website performance

You have less than one minute to keep a visitor on your website. And if even a small portion of that minute is being spent on load time… you’ve likely lost your visitor. You can check your website load time using free tools like Pingdom, and if you’re load time is more than 4 second… you need to make some changes. You can consider: Getting a new website host: Nothing you can do to optimize your website will make any difference if you have a bad website hosting company. There are VERY cheap hosting options available. I, for one, love a good deal. But you’re not looking for a good deal when it comes to website hosting… you’re looking for reliable, secure and support-focused website hosting. Use a caching plugin: Caching can result in a 10x speed gain over a non-cached website. And the plugin is free! Remove unnecessary plugins and update: WordPress (our preferred platform) has lots of cool plugins. But they may be slowing your website down. So, you need to weigh the options and get rid of the ones you don’t need. Also, updating your plugins is critical for site performance AND security. Optimize images:  There are plugins available that can compress and optimize images for faster load time. Or, you can make your images smaller to increase load time.

Attract the right users

A great design, good content, internal links and fast load times are not relevant unless you’re attracting the right users to your website in the first place. Use keywords and long-tail keywords that your ideal customer will search, bid on these keywords for Google Ad campaigns, and create good meta descriptions so users will understand what they’re clicking on before they get to a page. After making modifications to your website and strategy to increase user time on site, check your Google analytics and analyze the success of each page, individually. Your data will help you make informed decisions. Don’t know how to analyze the data? Our Omaha SEO team can. Don’t have time to write valuable content? We have an experienced copywriter. Don’t have the ability to make the changes that need to be made? No problem. We can help!

Help Increase my Time on Site

Spruce Up Your Logo, Set Up Expectations

Website design should reinforce brand by portraying culture, atmosphere and adhering to general design guidelines. And while it may sound like I’m stating the obvious… your logo is the pillar of your brand, with prominent website placement and from which all styles are derived.

A logo is your brand identity. And I bet you can count on one hand the number of times you’ve seen a website with the logo placed somewhere other than in the top left or center of the header. Right? This is because you want to use your logo to set up and meet expectations, both visually and functionally.

design and web icon

Setting Up Expectations

Your logo sets up expectations for customers with color, design and general “vibe”. If you’re not happy with your logo or don’t think your logo accurately portrays your business… STOP and redesign the logo. Don’t design a website around a brand you’re not 100% happy with. It’s an expensive mistake.

Recently, I was working with someone to spruce up a pre-built WordPress template, and she began to question her DIY logo. So, we put the website mockups on hold and focused our efforts on sprucing up her logo. It would have cost her more money in the long-run to design a website around a brand she didn’t love.

Spruce up my logo

A few recent examples in our portfolio include a logo recharge. Not a redesign, but rather an update to more accurately enhance a new website design and increase brand recall.

Sarpy County Cooperative Head Start didn’t even really have a logo on its website. So before our Omaha web design team tackled a redesign, we tackled that logo head-on. Here’s the website header on the current website:

Sarpy county head start old website header

And here’s the new logo we’ll be working with for the new website:

Sarpy County Head Start Logo

Another recent example is an Omaha pillar, I-Go Van & Storage. A simple logo spruce-up from our logo designer went a long way before we redesigned (new website to launch soon):

Old I-Go Logo
new I-Go logo

Meeting User Expectations

A website visitor has an expectation that your logo will be placed in the “usual spot” (upper left) – and expectations play a large role in user experience.

Case studies have shown that placing the logo in any location other than the top left-hand corner can hurt your site. NN Group found that centering your logos will make it roughly six times harder to return to the homepage of a site than left-aligned logos and that right-aligned logos hurt brand recall.

When designing the flow of a site, our web designers must account for the need to return to the homepage. Rather than providing a “home” button in the navigation bar, the logo has been the traditional and expected method for providing users with a way to return home. It’s beneficial to meet the user’s expectations and link the logo home. And for the visitor spending any time on your site at all, this continuous logo home-base can help reinforce your brand.

So, Don’t Use a Terrible Logo

Your take away: use a logo that reflects your culture, services and products. Don’t settle because it’s what you’ve always had, or because your DIY method saved you a couple thousand dollars. The gain from using the RIGHT logo in the right ways on your website is increased brand recall, increased conversions and long-term use of your current website design.

Spruce up my logo

Increase SEO with Traditional Marketing

While web marketing is our jam, we still believe in the power of traditional marketing to reinforce your online brand. Even at JM, we use traditional marketing efforts in the Omaha metro and we believe the branding power it gives directly effects our SEO.

For years, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has been thought to be a keyword game. Yes, using strategic keywords and regularly contributing rich content is still a factor in organic ranking. But search engines use many factors to determine a site’s rank and most do not rely on keywords.

What factors do search engines use for SEO rank?

semrush ranking factors

In 2017 SEMrush conducted a ranking factors study, analyzing the importance of 17 different factors for organic rankings. The top five factors are:

  1. Direct website visits
  2. Time on the site
  3. Pages per session
  4. Bounce rate
  5. Referring domains
  6. Backlinks

The factors that I’d argue can be strongly correlated to traditional marketing efforts are:

Direct Website Visits: Users arrive at your website directly, typing in your domain. This indicates to Google that the domain has high authority and value.

Backlinks: A backlink is any link from another website to your website. This indicates to Google that other people believe in the value of your website.

So what…?

dart board bulls-eye

Your marketing strategy “in-real-life” reinforces your company’s online presence. When people discover your offline brand, they are more likely to visit your website than to drive to your storefront and walk in.

Search engines know this and they recognize these direct visits as a mark of a strong, real life business. Since direct website visits are one of the greatest factors of high search rank, branding your business offline is a crucial part in strengthening your business online.

Also, develop relationships and partnerships in your community. Think speaking engagements, guest blogging, newspaper articles, supporting public charities. All of that community involvement and the publicity connected with it can bring even more potential customers to your site. It’s good for the place you love and it’s good for your SEO.

The point is…

If people see a bus ad, hear a radio ad, see your logo on a sponsorship banner, hear you speak at a seminar… they are more likely to look up your company directly, giving your business domain a powerful boost.

Being involved in your community by doing good and providing education can give you brand power AND SEO power through direct visits and backlinks.

So look at your current marketing efforts. Are they working together? Do they elevate your brand offline AND increase the value of your SEO efforts online?

Google Analytics can tell you a lot about the results your efforts are producing. And if you don’t know how to analyze that data, we do. Let our Omaha-based SEO team help you put together a comprehensive SEO strategy that can help you build power!

Help me with SEO strategy

Optimizing Google My Business for Multiple Locations

Google My Business has been around since 2014 and was intended to make local SEO efforts easier for local businesses. Recently, we wrote about the excellent FREE opportunity Google My Business provides to businesses amid a competitive Search Engine Result Page (SERP), and we provide a step-by-step guide for building a Google My Business page and how to optimize it.

In 2015 Google reduced the number of local results from 7 to 3, commonly referred to as the “3-pack” or “map-pack”, so it’s important to rank in the local Google My Business results. But competition is fierce.

google results 3-pack
The “3-pack” or “map-pack”

For businesses with multiple locations, how can you optimize for each location??

Optimizing each location

User proximity is the top local search ranking factor. This is often why results in the “3-pack” may have unclaimed pages.

Considering the number of searches that take place on mobile devices, and the visibility of the map on mobile search results, the value of multiple locations on Google My Business is clear. And the more locations you have, the more likely you’ll appear in results. But how can you get yourself positioned well for the “3-pack”?

You need to optimize for best results.

Verified listings: Each location must have its own verified and optimized Google My Business listing. Learn how to do that here. Each listing must link back to a corresponding location page, and not a main homepage. This means you need to have an optimized page for each location on your website.

Optimizing website pages: Each location of your business should have its own page. Each page should include the city and state of the location and contain unique content. Include a photo of the location with a good alt tag.

Gain reviews: For each location, gain reviews for increased online reputation. Unique reviews for each location will help you stand out, and positive reviews may help convert a prospect to a customer.

Consistency: Ensure your business name, address and phone number are an exact match, wherever they appear – including Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, etc.

Can we help?

Our SEO Omaha team highly values Google My Business as an excellent tool for local SEO efforts. And getting an optimized page for each location is only going to make you more visible and build credibility among users.

Don’t have time to create and optimize a Google My Business page for each of your business locations? Or don’t have time to optimize your website to assist in local SEO efforts? No problem. We can do it for you.

Get Help

Pay-Per-Click, SEO or Both?

In an ideal world, you would be focusing efforts on both SEO and paid advertising to increase website traffic and increase sales. Both can serve you more traffic and increased qualified leads. Maybe you’re not sold on Pay-Per-Click, or SEO is not going to give you the instant results you need, OR you just straight-up don’t have the budget to do everything. We get it.

So, this begs the question – which should you choose?

SEO and PPC are both efforts to place your website in front of quality customers above your competition, but through different means. So, before you have your mind made up about what’s best for your business, let our web marketing and SEO team give you some basics.

graphic comparing SEO and PPC services

Search Engine Optimization

SEO is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of visitors to your website through organic search engine results. So not only do you seek MORE traffic through SEO, but also users who are interested in your company/product. Organic results are results served without paying Google.

We recently wrote a post on quality website content that details how Google search works. Every search engine has a crawler that gathers information across the internet, brings back information and builds an index. This index goes through an algorithm that matches a search query with data.

There are many factors that play into SEO, and because of endless algorithm updates from Google and other search engines the factors are always changing. And while I won’t get into all the factors we consider when dealing with an SEO client, here are a few things you’ll want to consider about SEO to see if it’s a good fit for your business:

Long-term strategy: SEO is a long-term strategy. To gain a significant increase in traffic and quality leads can take up to a year or more. Depending on the equity your website already has in the search engines, you may be a tiny ant climbing up a huge mountain. The task is not impossible, but it will take time and money.

It’s not one-size-fits all: SEO strategies, and service costs, vary depending on where you are, where you want to be and how fast you want to get there.

Website design: To execute an SEO strategy your website needs to be optimized. This can be a large investment, but it includes a robust CMS, optimal site structure, valuable content, mobile friendly design and usability, among MANY other things. Without a solid foundation you cannot expect to see success in the search engines.

Build credibility: SEO strategies are often partnered with regular, valuable content. Investing in quality, relevant and consistent content as part of your SEO strategy not only builds credibility with the search engines, but with your customers and the community you’re serving. It’s also about about making yourself a valuable resource for the community your potential new customers come from.

Pay-Per-Click

PPC marketing through Google Ads offers advertisers two ways to reach people: 1. through Google Search Network and 2. through Google Display Network. Both use a PPC auction system, where advertisers bid to have their ads shown to matched audiences.

Google Search Network, or “search ads”, appear above organic results. The Google Search Network allows you to show your ads to users who are actively searching for the keywords that you’ve selected. So if you own a contractor business, for example, you bid to have this texted-based ad show up every time a user types in Windows Omaha.

PPC text ad example

Google Display Network shows ads to users who are searching for your product or service. These “display ads” are placed on websites you think your target will be on. These image-based ads work well for re-engagement campaigns, showing ads to visitors who have already been to your website, in hopes they will come back and purchase/convert. This is often called remarketing or retargeting. For instance, we purchased something from Williams Sonoma six months ago… and they are still retargeting us.

banner ad example

These Google search and display ads are a great opportunity to capture quality leads and is an excellent way to reach your target audience. So here are a few things you might want to consider about PPC advertising:

Long-term strategy: PPC, like SEO, is a long-term strategy. You’ll want to run ads and refine your reach/budget based on the data. These ads may bring much quicker results than trying to gain traction in organic rankings.

Cost: The cost is mostly dependent on your Google budget. If you’re in a highly competitive industry it can get pretty pricey.  If your AdWords campaigns are well-targeted, optimized correctly and have an appropriate CPC bid, you’ll be able to show your ads to a responsive audience, nearly guaranteeing a positive ROI. Many businesses can run successful AdWords campaigns for a reasonable cost relative to the amount of money you make with each conversion.

Remarketing: While retargeting is great for most businesses, it’s especially useful for eCommerce websites. You can create and target audiences of users who have already visited your website with tailored banner ads, including image and video ads. Through these dynamic ads, a product from your store can follow a prospect until they pull the trigger!

Target niche terms: PPC can provide an affordable way to advertise for a niche phrase. Often more specific keyword phrases can run much less expensive than a short keyword. So, for instance, instead of ‘tires’ consider ‘winter truck tires.’

Either/Or, or Both: You can choose to do text ads, or banner ads, or both. If you have little traffic to your website, you’ll want to consider text ads to drive quality traffic to your website. If you have a lot of traffic, but want to reengage that traffic, you’ll want to consider banner ads.

Assessing Your Marketing Goals

Your decision to invest in SEO and/or PPC Google AdWords should be based on your company’s marketing strategy. By assessing your long and short-term goals, your budget and your competition you should have a starting place for which service you should invest in.

Also, looking at the data can be difficult. Assessing where you are and where you want to be can be easier with the guidance of an experienced SEO and web marketing team. Let us know if we can help answer your questions, if you want to explore an SEO or PPC campaign for your business, or need help assessing your current SEO or PPC situation. We’re happy to help!

How to Handle Complaints on Social Media

The world of customer service has dramatically transformed from phone call support lines to a host of mediums including phone, email and social media communications. And, if you’re in the business of serving people you know that much of customer service is addressing complaints and making customers feel heard.

We’re in an age where many complaints are no longer handled one-on-one during a phone call, but publicly displayed for all to see. And the fact of the matter is, you probably feel like many of the complaints are not justified. And like many other businesses, you’ve tried to find ways to remove these unjust reviews and complaints as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) you likely cannot remove these reviews. Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Google, etc., are attempting to build a community where trust is built and people are heard – no matter the grievance. So whether the complaint is from a cranky customer, a disgruntled former employee or a troll… don’t let these haters taint your company’s credibility. Instead, use a complaint on social media to show everyone else how wrong these haters are!

F-E-A-R-S

Jay Baer, Founder of Convince & Convert, wrote an article on Buffer outlining a framework for dealing with haters on social media.

FEARS acronym

Let us break it down for you…

Find All Mentions

You cannot address a complaint if you don’t know it exists. Social media listening tools will find customer feedback that’s not use @ to tag you. Baer says only about half of the people who complain on social expect to hear back from the company and more than 1/3 of all tweets to companies were about customer service issues. And only three percent tagged the company directly with the @ symbol.

A social media listening tool can assist in finding any mention of your business so you can address the comment or complaint.

Show Empathy

Of course, when someone attacks us our defenses go up and we attack (or retreat). Neither of these options are good. So instead, take a minute and breathe. Assess the situation and respond with empathy. Like… real empathy. Not a canned response like we’ve ALL received from the customer service line of our internet company.

“I’m sorry that happened to you, ma’am.”

No. No you’re not.

Baer says inserting empathy in your response “…doesn’t mean the customer is always right.” But “It does mean the customer is always heard…”

Answer Publicly

I know many times you’d rather message the “accuser” directly to address the problem. Or even pick up the phone to call. BUT, a public response can gain trust from on-lookers. All the spectators sitting in front of their computer shoveling popcorn in their face waiting for the mic to drop want to see how you respond. And when you respond, and respond well, it shows your good character.

Reply Only Twice

This can be SO hard to do. Especially if the hater is raving and endless in their responses and attacks. Here’s Baer’s example of a fictional hater “Chad” and what a two reply response should look like:

Chad: “You guys are the absolute worst. I can’t believe you actually have the guts to accept American currency for your terrible product!”

Business: “We seem to have fallen short in your eyes, Chad. Can you tell me more about what happened, and I’ll do whatever I can to assist?”

Chad: “It won’t matter. It’s not like an idiot like you can fix all that’s wrong with this ridiculous company.”

Business: “I’m sorry you’re unhappy, and would like to help if possible. Please contact me via private message if you’d like me to give it a try.”

If a hater keeps complaining, at this point it will look like just that… complaining. And if you need only one reply to address a complaint, that’s great!

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Switch Channels

It’s likely that you cannot fully address an issue through Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Google, etc.. Notice in the example above they ask to continue the conversation via a private message. A complaint may require research to resolve, or private information that cannot be shared on a public forum.

It’s also pretty likely, depending on your customers and industry, that the hater may not want to pick up the phone to resolve the issue. Because for a lot of people, talking on the phone is archaic. So take advantage of the behind the scenes messaging systems most social channels provide.

For more information on how to handle complaints on social media, and for a more in-depth take on customer service in a time of public complaints, check out Jay Baer’s new book, Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers Happy.

Avoiding or Correcting Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is any substantial portion of content that appears anywhere on the Internet more than once. Content is considered duplicate when it appears on your website AND someone else’s website. It’s also duplicate when it appears more than once on the same website URL.

Duplicate content is not something that will necessarily penalize you in the search engines. However, it can still have an impact on your organic rankings because it can be difficult for Google to decide which version of the content is more relevant.

Duplicate content is penalized when it is deceptive; meaning it is deliberately duplicated on different URLs to manipulate the search engines. One of the main reasons Google does not favor this is because it can result in a poor user experience, and Google updates it’s algorithms regularly mostly because of its dedication to enhanced user experience. If Google thinks duplicate content is malicious, ranking will drop for all URLs with this content or a website could be removed entirely from the Google index.

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How does duplicate content happen?

Many times duplicate content is not intended to deceive the search engines. Here are some examples of non-malicious duplicate content:

Printer-friendly website pages: These pages are often a duplicate of an already existing page. It’s also common to use an alternative version of a URL in these instances. For instance, http://www.exampleurl.com/product and http://www.exampleurl.com/print/product. URL variations, like this, cause duplicate content issues.

HTTP vs HTTPS: If your site maintains versions at both http:// and https:// they are both live, visible and indexable to the search engines.

Copied Content: Some people will copy blog posts from other websites. Other times it’s less obvious… like duplicating large portions of content for each service page on your website, or for eCommerce websites it can exist in product information.

These few examples are among the most common causes of duplicate content.

Help me find duplicate content

Why should you care?

Duplicate content does not provide you any benefit. Consider that Google may not show the URL you wish, based on how they determine relevancy for a particular query.

Duplicate content will only be acted upon (punished) by Google if a review indicates that you engaged in deceptive practices. But, if your website does suffer from duplicate content issues then Google will select a version of the content itself to show in the results.

How can you address duplicate content?

While Google can do a decent job of addressing and ranking pages with non-malicious duplicate content itself, there are a few steps you can take for best SEO practice to ensure your website is indexed and ranked appropriately and fairly, despite having the same content in more than one place.

Nonindex meta tag: This is particularly useful for those printer-friendly webpages. You can block the printer-friendly version of the page using the nonindex meta tag and Google will not index it.View Post

301 redirects: We’ve discussed this previously, but if you’ve restructured your website or launched a new one with a new page structure, use 301 redirects to redirect users and Googlebot.

Consolidate Duplicate URLs: A page accessible by multiple URLs or different pages with similar content can be considered duplicate content/duplicate pages. Google will choose one as the canonical version, but you can tell Google which URL is the canonical version. Consider doing this if you have a mobile and a desktop version of your website.

Use Google Search Console: Here you can indicate how you wish Google to index your site and select a preferred domain. An example of this is HTTP vs HTTPS or WWW vs no WWW

Minimize your duplicate content: Review your website content and see where it’s repetitive. Take action yourself to reduce the words being duplicated on multiple pages. You can provide unique and valuable content on every page and then link to another with the content you need to be repeated. If you have an eCommerce website, take care to rewrite your product descriptions so they’re different than the manufacturer, or create ONE product with variations instead of 6 of the same product – the size being the only difference.

Need help?

If you have repetitive content across your website, but aren’t how to rewrite it, we can help. If you switched to https:// recently and are questioning if you have duplicate content issues as a result, we can help. If you need assistance implementing redirects after a website restructure, we can help. If you copied website content from your competitor and put it on your website… and now you’re a bit worried, we can help with that, too.

Help me review my content

What is Quality Website Content?

Website content is, perhaps, one of the most critical components of success for your website. In recent years, Google has put more and more emphasis on valuable content. So much so, that you’re likely to struggle with SEO success without putting thought into your website content and content structure.

We’ve said it a million times, but content is king. Google analyzes the value of your content and ranks it accordingly.

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So, how does Google search work?

Google delivers instant results to a user with three key processes: crawling, indexing and serving.

Crawling: Googlebot, a computer that crawls billions of pages across the web, discovers updates and new pages. The process begins with a list of URLs that have been determined from previous crawls in partnership with sitemap data provided by webmasters. When visiting each web page, Googlebot detects links on each page and adds them to its list of pages to crawl. New sites, changes to existing sites, and dead links are noted and used to update the Google index.

Indexing: Googlebot processes each page after a crawl. It compiles a list of all the words it sees and the location of the words. It also processes title tags and ALT attributes. It’s important to note that Google cannot process rich media files or dynamic pages.

Serving: Google serves results based on relevancy and is based on more than 200 factors! These factors include keyword usage, site structure, site speed, time spent on site, number of inbound links, quality of inbound links.

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How to determine your page structure

The page structure, or site map, shows the pages in your main navigation, sub navigation, footer navigation, etc. For an eCommerce website, you’ll also include the structure of your products – main product categories and sub product categories. When building a site map you should consider:

Current Website Structure: If you’re building a new website, the SEO value your current pages already hold in Google is worth considering. If your website is established and doing well in the search engines, you’re likely going to want to keep the page structure nearly the same. This can help avoid a major drop in rankings after launch and avoid a huge list of crawl errors.

Useless Pages: While the above statement is true, quite often there are just some useless pages on a website that add no value. Maybe it’s a page about a service you no longer offer, or a page with only a few paragraphs that adds no value. Regardless, ridding your website of useless pages, even during a new website build, is positive. However, post-launch you’ll want to make sure to implement a 301 redirect to avoid crawl errors.

The Data: Data doesn’t lie, people! If you’re struggling to determine your site map, or honestly don’t know if a page is adding value to your website, you can always consult analytics. Assuming your website has analytics installed. Google Analytics can provide data that will show you what pages people visit, how long they stay on the page, user flow, and MUCH more.

Now… what to put on those pages

Once your site map is set, it’s time to start collecting and writing content. Admittedly, writing website content is not the most exciting thing. I know because I’ve done it. And I am still doing it as we seek to continue to restructure and rewrite JM’s current website based on the data we are seeing in our analytics and AdWords campaigns. BUT, time put-forth now will benefit you for years to come.

Many people have no idea where to start when building website content. But, you’ll be happy to learn that you likely have a lot of content already drafted in many places. So start with:

  • Your current website
  • Business plans
  • Emails
  • Internal training documents
  • Existing marketing pieces

Each page should have valuable content full of keywords, a nice image that adds value to the content and a call to action.

What keywords do I use?

Select one or two keywords or keyword phrases you would like to be found under. Even ask your current customers how they found your business online to determine what keywords you’re performing best at. You can use some free tools to help determine what to use. Moz and SEMrush both have some pretty intuitive and free tools that can help you analyze keywords and your competition.

If you want more exact data to select your keywords, our web marketing team can help with that. Basically, we take a list of your suggested keywords and pull some data (because data doesn’t lie) through multiple tools. We can then see how many searches there are for a keyword, what the competition is like, and a list of other possible keywords to consider. Ideally, we want a keyword with a decent amount of searches and low competition.

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Define quality content

Who better to ask what is considered “quality content” than Google? Here’s some basic guidelines from the source, and here’s a recap of the article:

Basic principles:

  • Page content is for your users, not Google
  • Don’t do something just because you feel like the search engines will love it
  • Make your website stand out from others in your field by touting what sets you apart
  • Don’t put false information on your website

Avoid:

  • Automatically generated content
  • Pulling content off another website
  • Hidden text or links
  • Using irrelevant keywords

To wrap it up

Your website content is critical. If you don’t have the time to do it well, hire a pro. JM’s copywriter has experience writing for all kinds of industries, so let us introduce you to our copywriter.

And if you’re going to write your website content, let this be a high-priority item on your endless to-do list. Don’t let months go by, foregoing countless leads and business because you don’t have the time to dedicate to writing good website content. Let us know how we can help!