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What to Know Before You Engage Someone for SEO Services

How To Be Found on Google - Results Communications and Research

There’s two broad factors any organizations should ponder before they engage an external individual or organization to help them optimize their site to be found on Google, ideally on the first two pages of search results. These are:

  • The Reputation/Credibility of the Firm or Individual In-Question
  • The Nature of and Time Frame Associated With the Services Being Offered

How to Determine if An Individual or Firm Offering SEO Services Is Credible?

My current clients, prospective clients, and I all regularly receive e-mailed or LinkedIn requests from individuals or organizations claiming that they can and will get our website to appear on the first page of Google search engine results for terms relevant to the services or products we offer, or to the solutions to problems we provide. In fact, these SEO vendors, sometimes use the phrase “guarantee” or “guaranteed” along with it. That’s a huge, huge red flag. Without talking to you about your organization’s objectives, the target audiences and geography you serve, and the competitiveness of your marketplace — as well as researching whether or not individuals are even searching for an organization who offers your products, services, and solutions — it is impossible for these SEO vendors to know whether or not it is feasible for a listing with a link to your website to appear on the first page of Google search results.

Being Found on Search - Results Communications and Research

Another big red flag related to ascertaining the credibility of any organization who approaches you about SEO services is whether or not their initial sales pitch to you includes selling you backlinks, i.e., links to your site that will appear on external websites and blogs. As we discussed in a previous blog post, the only external organizations you want sharing a link to your site on their own site or blog are highly regarded organizations with which you have a prior relationship or with which there are some synergies. Allowing an SEO services provider to arrange for such “spammy” backlinks on your organization’s behalf will ultimately cause a decline in how you rank in search results vs. improve how you rank.

Before you engage an individual or organization to assist your organization with being found on Google, ask for examples of the types of organizations to which they have provided SEO services, how they have analyzed and documented/demonstrated the positive implications of the services they’ve provided, and the steps/tactics they took to achieve SEO success.

How Do I Know What SEO Services I Need: One-time/Initial vs. Ongoing?

As we described in this blog post, if you’ve never optimized your website for search or paid someone to do so, and particularly, if you’ve never conducted keyword research related to it, you should be starting from scratch with your SEO and engage an SEO expert to conduct an initial/one-time/one-off review of your website and execute appropriate technical/organic SEO tactics. These tactics include but are not limited to:

  • incorporating relevant high-volume keywords uncovered via keyword research within your website page content and in your behind-the-scenes/meta tags
  • help setting up and/or optimizing a Google My Business Profile, so that you rank well locally and support being found more globally on search.

Once you have completed the important SEO work outlined above, if keyword research has indeed revealed that a high volume of individuals are searching to identify someone like you, then you’ll want to continue to take actions on a regular basis — daily, monthly, or quarterly — to make sure your organization is as well-situated as possible to be found on Google for relevant terms.

Ongoing SEO Services Packages

Many SEO experts and SEO consultants, like us, offer ongoing (monthly or quarterly) SEO packages. Services offered via an ongoing SEO package engagement likely will vary, but at a minimum, we believe they should include:

  • checking to see your site has no broken internal or external links
  • testing to see that your site load speed or the responsiveness/mobile-friendliness of your site isn’t negatively impacting where your organization appears in Google search engine results
  • ensuring that any new images that are added to your site include an “alt-tag” so they will be indexed by Google
  • making sure that any new pages or blog posts that are added to your website are indexed by Google
  • writing content (that includes high-volume keywords) for blog posts, FAQs, or other site pages to support being found for those terms on Google
  • maximizing your Google My Business profile by keeping it comprehensive, current, and posting to it with the same frequency that your post to other forms of social media to support Search Engine Optimization efforts.

Got questions about what we shared above? Please reach out. We’re glad to talk you through all of this, and if appropriate, we’d love to present you with a proposal to provide you with one-time or ongoing SEO services.

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Three Ways to Use Video to Boost SEO

By Guest Blogger, Nick Bartos, Social Motion

Video is valuable for any business, as it can be used to amplify your brand utilizing interesting visuals and engaging storytelling. However, many marketers and business owners may not know that video can also be used to support search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. Here is how to own search engine results even further – utilizing video.

#1: Create evergreen content, and host it in evergreen places

Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok are fantastic places to post videos – but unless those videos are consistently being served up to new individuals via paid ads vs. only being viewed organically by followers of or visitors to an organization’s social media profiles, the view-count is very likely to drop after the first few days of posting on these platforms. YouTube is the number two most used search engine behind Google. Utilizing a platform like YouTube will allow your video, and therefore, your organization, to remain in search results consistently. This will help your SEO efforts and allow your content to keep working for you, even after the initial drop off from feed-based channels like Facebook.

#2: Utilize your keyword research

Keyword research allows you to identify the high-volume “search terms (known as keywords)” which individuals and organizations are entering into a search engine like Google to identify organizations that offer the services, products, or solutions to problems that you do.

Use keyword research you already have to both inform your video and take advantage of the keyword research you spent hours collecting. If subscribed to an SEO service, such as SEMrush, or even if you just use Google Ads keyword planning tools, utilize the information offered by the software/tools. Many times, these services will  cause the researcher to think of blog post ideas based on their findings – do not be afraid to turn these into video! And, then be sure to tag your video appropriately in YouTube with the keywords for which you want your video to be found.

#3: Use Closed Captioning and Subtitles

The above is arguably the easiest way to help yourself. While you can use your video title, description, and tags as ways to help your videos rank, make it even easier for search engines to rank video for desirable terms by providing a transcript. Not only are you providing closed captioning for accessibility purposes (which search engines also applaud), but you are also providing a script for search engines to rank your video for appropriate search terms and keywords that you have incorporated in your script. Some services provide automated closed-captioning services, but they are not always perfect. It takes a bit of time to complete, but will pay dividends in SEO efforts.

If you want to boost your video presence online, check out Social Motion, a company dedicated to creating high-quality, buzz-worthy, and engaging content for social and digital media. We’re always glad to hold a complimentary phone chat with you to discuss your particular marketing challenges and opportunities and how video, such as the one I shared below, can help address them.

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Why "If You Build It, They Will Come" Doesn't Always Hold True

Over the past six years, as a digital marketing agency owner and marketing consultant, I’ve had so many prospective clients approach me with a specific marketing tactic/activity that they’d like me to implement on their behalf. As I’ve repeatedly expressed on social media, in other blog posts, and in my website’s content, I never encourage clients to implement or continue with a marketing activity that doesn’t make sense for them. So, as part of discussing the particular tactic for which they’d like my help, I do a “preliminary check” to see if their website is “optimized for search,” and, therefore, likely to be found by individuals searching on relevant terms for the products, services, and solutions to problems the client in-question provides. Instead of a costly advertising campaign or direct mailer, the client might be better served investing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which could have longer-lasting impact.

You would be amazed by the number of organizations — both large and small — who have spent significant $$ and time to launch a comprehensive, user-friendly, informative website, but didn’t realize they needed to implement off-page (behind-the-scenes tags) and on-page (content) SEO tactics in order for their site to be found on Google. Some website developers and designers are well-versed in SEO, others aren’t, and don’t offer the service automatically, or as an add-on when launching a new site.

The above means that a for-profit or non-profit organization may have invested in a beautiful, effective website as far as design, user experience, functionality (interactive tools) and content goes, but they won’t likely benefit from it to the degree to which they could/should. Their site becomes like a pretty little unknown island that no-one knows is there, and therefore, no-one visits. In sum, building their new site, didn’t mean people would come.

Another factor related to lack of visitors may be this. If the products, services, or solutions to problems an organization offers are not ones that individuals are aware of, and therefore, aren’t actively searching on, even the most-optimized-for-search website isn’t going to get a lot of visits that stem from search engine inquiries. If your product or service is a brand new one — think something you’d see on Shark Tank — your target audience may not even realize a product or service like yours exists. Or, particularly, if you’re a B2B (business-to-business) organization, prospective clients may identify an organization like yours by asking one of their contacts or colleagues for a referral.

Both of the scenarios outlined in the paragraph above equate to your organization not being able to rely on “organic search” to drive traffic to your website. But, if you want and need to confirm that individuals aren’t actively searching to find an organization like yours, read our recent post that explains how keyword research can help you figure out whether or not individuals are searching to find an organization with your capabilities.

So, what are the takeaways from everything we’ve shared so far in this post, i.e., how do you ensure “if you build it they will come?

  1. Don’t assume that searchers are searching to find you and/or what you offer. Take the following steps to determine if they are searching to find you, and how.
    • use your Google Analytics data to see what percentage of your traffic is organic (comes to your site as the result of a visitor clicking on a search engine results listing)
    • use your Google Search Console data to see for what search terms, if any, Google is presenting a listing with a link to your website in search engine results, and the # of individuals who are clicking-thru to your site as a result of it being presented
    • conduct keyword research for the specific geographies you serve to determine whether or not a significant volume of individuals is searching to identify an organization likes yours
  2. If the above exercises reveal that the percentage of organic traffic to your site is low (less than 30%), and your website isn’t being presented in search engine results for relevant search terms (keywords), but keyword research indicates a large number of individuals in your geography are searching for the solutions, products and services you offer, then you should optimize your website for search, i.e., implement organic/technical SEO tactics
  3. If keyword research indicates that only a small number of individuals in your geography are searching for an organization with your capabilities, it’s time to consider “push” vs. “pull” marketing. Push marketing is all about putting the idea of your product/service in individuals’ heads and making them aware that a your solution to their problem exists. Display vs. search advertising is just one form of this and this blog post explains the push vs. pull dynamic, but there are many other forms of push marketing, such as an e-mail campaign, print or broadcast advertising, or a direct mail campaign.

Results Communications & Research is always here to make sure your website isn’t an island onto itself, so reach out to make sure it gets the admiring visitors it deserves.

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Why Keyword Research Benefits & Informs So Much More Than SEO/Organic Search Results

Many business owners and marketers are not aware that or give much thought to the fact that keyword research and planning has implications far beyond organic SEO, i.e., beyond the putting of technical tactics in place (such as including high-volume search terms, known as keywords, in website content and page title tags) to ensure a listing with a link to an organization’s website or social media presence ranks as high as possible in search engine results for high-volume search terms relevant to the organization’s product and service offerings.

Before we get into how and why keyword research and planning extends beyond SEO, here’s Keyword Research & Planning 101:

Q: What is keyword research?

A: Keyword research is information generated by “keyword planner” tools, such as the tool that resides within Google Ads advertising manager platform, that shows the average monthly search volume (the number of people who have entered the phrase in-question into Google’s search engine over a month’s period) for search terms (keywords) relevant to the particular products and services an organization offers.

Q: How are keyword research lists generated?

A: Distinct keyword research lists are created for each of the products and services (and sometimes the sub-products and sub-services) an organization offers by walking in the heads of the various target audiences served and entering phrases (search terms) into a keyword planner tool which are thought to be ones target audiences would be using to identify providers of products and services relevant to the organization.  In addition to the nature and actual name of the products and services in-question, search terms should include problems for which target audiences might be seeking a solution, such as “how to lose weight quickly.” The keyword planer tool will then normally generate 100’s or 1000’s of similar search terms that individuals have entered into Google to identify an organization who offers relevant products or services, and their associated average monthly search volume.

Q: Why do I need to define the geography for each of my products and services before keyword research begins?

A: The phrases used by individuals to identify a provider of a particular product or service, as well as associated search volumes, may vary by city, state, part of the country, or country.

Q: What does keyword planning mean?

A: Keyword planning means going through the above keyword research exercise, and then making some decisions and outlining the actions you’ll take next related to the benefits outlined below, based on what an organization learns from analyzing and reviewing its keyword research.

key

Now, that we’ve got some terms and their definitions behind us, just what are the key benefits of doing/uses of keyword research? Keyword research can be used to:

  1. This one you’ve hopefully got down by now — Optimize your website for search (SEO), and therefore, improve how high up in search engine results a listing with a link to your website or social media presence (an organic vs. paid advertisement listing) appears for high-volume, relevant keywords entered in a search engine by your target audience(s).
  2. Inform an integrated marketing plan for one or several of your products and services by providing information on whether or not a sizable number of individuals are actively searching to identify organizations that provide the types of products and services you offer. If individuals aren’t actively searching for certain products and services, then your marketing plan will need to include more “push” vs. “pull” tactics. For example, your organization would not want to invest money in paid search advertising that is presented to searchers searching on appropriate terms, but display advertising, a form of online advertising that allows you to target individuals with certain interests or who are reading about certain topics, might be effective as a means to create awareness of your particular product or service among appropriate target. Learn more.
  3. Determine if there are new products or services you should be offering. Sometimes, a review of keyword research lists can reveal unmet target audience needs and opportunities to offer a new product or service.
  4. Determine if there are certain products or services you should be focusing on or promoting more, based on what keywords and associated search volume reveal.
  5. Uncover topics that are of interest/important to target audiences to influence what you talk about in social media posts, blog posts, videos, or sales materials. For example, you may discover problems for which your target audiences may be seeking a solution that you hadn’t thought of, and you’ll want to call that out in marketing activities and sales literature.
  6. Support non-website tagging activities, for example, what keywords to use as “tags” when you add a video to your YouTube channel or to use as “hashtags” in social media posts. Learn more about video tagging. Learn more about using hashtags in social media.

One of our SEO services for which we’re most engaged is keyword research. Reach out for a complimentary phone discussion if you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you on that front.

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Why Adjectives & Qualifiers Matter in the Game of SEO

Not that long ago, I wrote about the importance of “differentiating with detail.” The more detailed an organization can be about what makes them the best provider of a particular service or product, and therefore, how they stand out from a competitor, the better.

In somewhat of the same vein, as I help organizations of all shapes & sizes better position themselves to rank well in search engine results for the terms their target audience(s) are most regularly searching on, I’m continually reminded of the importance of detail and the benefits of “unpacking your adjectives” called out in the Schoolhouse Rock piece from my childhood below. What I’m seeing on a fairly consistent basis is this — organizations are not qualifying or describing their services or products in enough detail. They know what product or service they offer, and therefore, expect their target audience(s) will know too. The problem with this is that their target audience may not find them in the first place, through a search engine search, because the organization isn’t sending out appropriate signals via their website content and behind-the-scenes page title tags.

Here’s some examples that demonstrate the issue above:

Let’s say you’re a business-to-business (B2B) organization primarily offering consulting services to a particular industry or related to a particular function/department of an organization. You need to call that out in website page content and page title tags. For example, if your organization primarily works with higher education organizations or individuals in HR roles at an organization, you need to qualify/modify the phrase “consulting” in website page title tags and content, i.e., use terms like “HR consulting services” or “higher education consulting services.”

Only offer your products or services in a particular geography? Well, that’s another reason to break out the adjectives and modifiers like “Greater Boston”, “South Shore MA”, or “New England” in website content and page title tags like “South Shore MA digital marketing agency” or “digital marketing agency serving New England.” You wouldn’t believe the number of organizations I’ve seen with websites that have no “geographic triggers” in website content or page title tags to inform search engines where they operate/who they serve. In this scenario, it’s impossible to rank well in local search or in geographies you serve that are “not local.”

Are your services or products offered on both a wholesale (B2B) and retail (business-to-consumer (B2C)) basis or just one or the other, and is that obvious to search engines who are crawling/indexing your website content and page title tags? For example, if you offer food products that can only be bought retail or wholesale, are you making that clear through using the right modifiers like “hospitality industry food products” or “food products for the hospitality industry?” Or, “consumer food products” or “retail store food products?”

Do both businesses and individuals/homeowners need the type of services you offer, and do you only offer one or both? Make sure you spell that out through language in page title tags, such as “home roofing services”, “residential roofing services”, “commercial roofing services” or “business roofing services.” Or, “residential real estate appraisal services” vs. “commercial real estate appraisal services.”

I think you get the idea, and trust me, you’ll reap great SEO rewards just by keeping the above need to “modify” in mind when you either review an existing website from an SEO standpoint, or are writing page title tags and website content for a brand new site. And, as you go through this exercise, as our blog post reminds, think about how and when to use acronyms, industry jargon, scientific terms, internal speak, etc. to modify/qualify certain services or products you offer. Give great thought to whether your target audience(s) are using the aforementioned in the search terms they enter into a search engine like Google. If you don’t think your audiences are using those terms, forego using them in website content and page title tags, and instead, use the “lay person” terms that they are likely using.

Not sure what search terms/keywords your target audience(s) are most frequently entering in search engines to identify organizations that offer your particular products or services? Reach out. We’re keyword research and planning experts and can help you determine what phrases to focus on in website content and page title tags and how to best modify and qualify the products and services you offer.

 

 

 

 

 

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Are You Hurting Your Organization By Using “Internal Speak” With External Audiences?

During the past couple of months, I’ve had quite a few opportunities to discuss and help prospective and existing clients with their SEO (search engine optimization). SEO is a must for any organization that hangs a shingle. Unless your business is strictly a referral-based organization, and that’s the only way you tend to generate sales, you need to do all you can to make sure listings with links to various pages of your website appear at the top of search engine results for terms you deem relevant and desirable. That way, online “searchers” for your particular product or service can easily find you, and find you before your competitors.

Are You or Your Marketing & Sales Team Wearing Blinders?

blinders on related to seo

A critical SEO error I’ve been seeing organizations make is this — they don’t walk in the shoes of one or several of their target audiences. Sometimes, individuals responsible for sales and awareness-generation get so caught up in their organization’s inner/internal world (and in the case of this blog post, “internal” can mean internal to both your organization and your industry), they get blinders on, and are guilty of the following SEO blunders:

  • Overuse of Acronyms and Industry Terms — using acronyms or industry terms on their website that some or all of their external audiences likely won’t understand. Regardless of whether acronyms or terms you are considering using are used in a particularly industry vs. only used within your organization, before you use them, give great thought to whether any of your target audiences widely uses or would understand them, and be sure to explain what they mean to audiences who don’t — as I did with the acronym “SEO” in my first paragraph. You can do this by adding a brief explanation in parentheses after the acronym or industry term in-question, or linking to a definition or explanation elsewhere on your site or on another credible external site.
  • Creative Phrase/Name For Common Product or Service — to differentiate themselves from a competitor, coming up with a creative phrase to replace the normal or common term used for that same product or service. Organizations must keep in mind that just because they want to be known for/by this differentiating phrase, that doesn’t mean target audiences will be searching on that term, which could have a very negative impact on driving traffic to your site. Let’s say a firm offers financial planning services, but wants to refer to those services via a catchy, memorable phrase like “milestone money maximization”. If they only use the “milestone…” phrase throughout their website, searchers looking for “financial planning services” aren’t going to learn of them via a search engine search, as the search engine won’t find and index that phrase on their website.
  • Ignoring Needs of Certain Audiences — not addressing all of their audiences. As discussed above, while “internal speak”, such as acronyms and industry terms, may work for one audience, they may not work for all. For example, an organization may get client referrals from professionals such as healthcare providers, CPAs, lawyers, etc., but individuals may also come directly to the organization vs. being referred by a professional. That organization needs to make sure they use language that is understood by and resonates with both professionals and direct users of the service aka “lay people.”

One of the SEO services we offer, and with 30 years of marketing experience we’re experts in doing so, is review of websites with an objective, external eye, while wearing the shoes of each of a client’s audiences. We can fairly quickly identify where and how you might be negatively impacting your organic SEO, and ultimately, limiting sales and awareness among desired external populations, through “internal speak.”