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How To Get Your Google My Business Profile To Rank Better

We won’t recreate the wheel by explaining why your organization will want and need its Google My Business Profile(s) to rank as well as it’s website, particularly if you’re a local business with a limited geography. You can learn more about the importance of your Google My Business being found locally in our blog post about why you want your Google My Business Profile to appear in what’s known as the “Local Pack.

We recently did an audit for one of our SEO (search engine optimization) clients because we were surprised to see that the organization’s Google My Business Profile was no longer being served up as high in Google search results for relevant “near me” searches, as it had been. We took a close look at the organization’s competition (firms whom our SEO rankings audit tool showed were ranking far better for desirable search terms than our client). Since the client and our firm make sure their Google My Business Profile is very comprehensive, the only key differentiator we could determine between the client’s profile and competitor profiles that were ranking better was that the competitor profiles had far more Google reviews since all of our client’s’ Google reviews were positive.

Of course, we are making some assumptions that the above is the key reason why our client’s Profile isn’t ranking as well as competitors. But, given that service areas and business categories are accurate and complete, we’re posting to the Profile regularly and employing other Google My Business Profile best practices, it’s worth a shot to try to obtain more Google reviews from satisfied customers to see if it moves the SEO needle right?

How To Get More Positive Google Reviews

Google makes it so easy to ask satisfied customers to write a Google review on your organization’s behalf. Just follow these simple steps:

  • Log into your Google My Business Profile by having the e-mail address you created the account with open, and either typing the name of your organization into Google or your browser, or going to https://business.google.com.
  • You should see your profile laid out in the fashion below with the following menu of activities you can complete.
  • Click on the icon shown in the print screen above for “Ask For Reviews.”
  • Google will provide you with the URL you can share on your website, in an e-mail or text, or on social media for individuals to provide you with a Google review, such as the following URL: https://g.page/r/CblxOCik2bHfEBM/review (and, yes, that’s for our organization and we always welcome positive reviews).
  • Share the link with internal team members/employees, particularly those who interact regularly with prospective or existing customers, such as account and customer service representatives. If a customer mentions how happy they were/are with your service when interacting with your employee, your team member should be proactive about sharing the link to the URL you obtained from Google (following the steps outlined above) for someone to write a review about your organization.

It’s all so easy-peasy. So why wait to start growing your number of positive Google reviews to support your Google My Business Profile ranking higher up in results for relevant local searches?

Don’t Forget These Best Practices Related To Soliciting and Responding To Google Reviews:

  • For ethical and legal issues, never offer an incentive of any kind for a customer to write a Google Review on your behalf. Similarly, never imply that there will be negative ramifications if a customer doesn’t write a Google Review about your organization.
  • Post a reply to any reviews you receive. If a review is negative and appropriate, acknowledge what you could have/should have done differently, and regardless of whether it was warranted, share that your organization always strives to offer the highest quality products and exceptional service. Even if you don’t agree with the feedback, thank the reviewer for it, and definitely don’t get into an online argument about the feedback. Thank anyone who provides a comment or feedback for doing so. Visit our Google My Business Profile for examples or appropriate replies to comments received.

Need Help Ranking Better Locally?

Reach out today to schedule a complimentary discussion with a local SEO/local search expert.

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Celebrating Our Digital Marketing Agency’s 10-Year Anniversary: A Then and Now Story

Because one of the services my agency offers is PR — and we’ve had some decent success obtaining meaningful media coverage for some of our for-profit and non-profit clients (as documented in our Public Relations Portfolio) — of course, we reached out to The Patriot Ledger to see if they wanted to do a “then and now” story about our South Shore organization since they covered our story nine years back. We’re still awaiting news, literally and figuratively on that one, but we figured why not go ahead and share a similar version of that story on our blog using the highlights we shared with them? So, here goes…

Our Then Story

Here’s the telling of our story by a local reporter about a year after we launched our digital marketing agency, which eventually developed a specialty in search engine optimization (SEO) — which is why we often refer to our business as a Boston SEO company too!

I prefer to refer to my business as a digital marketing agency vs. a marketing consultancy because we do as much as hands-on work as we do developing & recommending marketing strategies.

Our story actually began with me launching my own WordPress website without the help of anyone else, and my officially hanging my digital marketing agency’s shingle via that site. And, if I knew as much as I know about WordPress and website development now as I knew then, I would have originally launched my site with WordPress.org (the platform that it’s on now) vs. WordPress.org, so I could use the many great WordPress plug-ins from the get-go! Or, I might also have considered Joomla instead, but owning a business and getting it right is all about the journey. And, you can’t learn what you need to learn without making a few mistakes and getting your hands dirty, right?

What’s been particularly challenging as an organization who helps others with their own marketing is, sometimes, as I’ve been known to share, “the cobbler’s kids have no shoes.” That means often we are so busy helping our clients with their marketing, we don’t have time for our own. The aforementioned said, we make every effort to have our firm’s own marketing activities (such as our website and social media profiles) serve as a shining example of how to maintain a strong online presence, and it’s great that we’ve been able to use our own business to test and try out various marketing activities — therefore, serve as a bit of a guinea pig — before we test or try something brand new with clients.

We’re proud that, over the last 10 years, we’ve literally written and posted over 140 marketing, SEO, and health-related (yes, health-related — keep reading to learn more) blog posts, and we’ve had a few guest or co-bloggers along the way too!

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Our Now Story

I believe and hope my story can motivate and inspire others considering opening their own business. Before, or right after I launched my business, I was told by one individual who works with entrepreneurs that 80% of female marketing consultants fail. I refused to be a statistic, and regularly told myself that during the first 5 years, which were the hardest. It takes a good five years to get the word out there and have business come to you organically/naturally thru referrals, leads, and recommendations from others — made by former co-workers and clients, existing clients, other marketing consultants and agencies, and other organizations who serve the same vertical/target audiences whom you serve.

My philosophy and dreams when I started my business have remained pretty constant and I’m pleased to report I’ve followed them. I’m particularly proud that I’ve been able to continue to offer what I believe, based on research, are very reasonable rates to small for-profit and non-profit organizations. Due to my years of experience and expertise, clients have access to the same level of knowledge and skills that they’d have access to via a larger marketing agency, but at much lower rates than what a larger agency might offer. And, because we have significant experience in both traditional marketing AND digital marketing, we can offer the majority of services a larger, full-service agency can.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned that I’d love to share with others starting a business is this: don’t think of others in your space as competitors. Think of them as collaborators – people who serve the same target audiences who may need your services.

Our Impact: Local (South Shore of Boston), National, and International

  • I’ve helped a number of young adults who grew up on the South Shore, or elsewhere in MA, get hands-on experience that they were able to parlay into a post-graduation job elsewhere.
  • Related to the above, I’ve had the great fun and pleasure of working with my nephews, my brother, my brother-in-law, and my late sister-in-law on various client projects.
  • I’ve also met with a number of college or graduate school students looking to pick my brain about careers in marketing and learn from me – including one in my neighborhood who found me thru a Google search! Yes, because early on I recognized I needed to create a Google My Business Profile for my own business to be found by local, relevant searchers and this is something I regularly help my clients with now!
  • I’ve given a large number of pro bono hours to nonprofits as part of a totally free consulting/volunteer situation or discussion, or as part of their paid arrangement with me. I’ve had a number of very interesting local nonprofit clients, including ones in the faith-based space, arts and music space, ones serving vulnerable populations, ones serving individuals with special needs, and one providing financially challenged teens the opportunity to serve vulnerable teens abroad, and more! Some have an international impact.
  • One of my specialties is helping nonprofits apply for a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant. I, then, often stay on and manage the Grant for them – $120,000 in free Google Search advertising annually. I can explain more.
  • I also have a number of for-profit clients on the South Shore, but my client base is national and I have had clients in New Orleans, CA, Texas, and more!
  • I’ve served over 120 for-profit and non-profit organizations in the 10 years I’ve been running my digital marketing agency/SEO company.
  • I had no idea when I launched my business that I would become an expert in something that I only had very little knowledge of at the time when I launched my business – search engine optimization (SEO). Many of my referrals for or sub-contracted work come from other agencies, marketing consultants, and website designers who need to pull someone into their client work/project who knows how to get websites and Google My Business Profiles ranking well in Google via organic and paid search (Google Ads) SEO activities. I’ve become a self-taught SEO expert and very proud of it. I just read and watched everything I could get my hands on, took Google Ads certification classes, and attended free webinars. I still do that daily as Google’s Search Engine will be switching to an AI one, and I’m already helping my clients be proactive about that and prep for it (Google SGE).
  • As indicated above, while I do sub-contracted or referred work for other agencies, marketing consultants, and website designers, many of my clients are my own clients, and I usually have a plate of about 12 – 15 clients for whom I’m doing ongoing, digital marketing work for on a monthly basis, plus also juggling several one-off/one-time clients at the same time. At any given point in time, I’m normally doing work for about 17 – 25 clients with the help of some fabulous interns and associates, as they were/are available.
  • My clients are diverse – large, small, business-to-business, business-to-consumer, product businesses, service businesses. I’ve done a bunch of marketing work in the food space, legal space, education space, and more! 
  • I’ve given a number of free workshops for SCORE and other organizations serving entrepreneurs, and I’m a SCORE volunteer and have provided tons of free advice to entrepreneurs by meeting with them on a complimentary basis. And, related to all of this, I’ve had a blast partnering with fellow marketing experts to give presentations that address multiple marketing areas of expertise! Thank you! You know who you are!
  • I’m a data geek and SEO geek and proud of it. I’m a huge data slicer and dicer and that’s what separates me from a lot of others in my space. I always say I won’t encourage clients to start or continue with marketing activities that don’t make sense for them based on what data is showing. I consider myself to be my clients’ accountability partner, and I’m not afraid to give tough love when I need to. I’m not afraid to voice a different opinion than other marketers. If I think something isn’t going to work, or isn’t working, I speak up.
  • I’m also proud that my marketing agency survived our recent COVID-19 pandemic and was extremely proactive about providing helpful insights from the very start of the pandemic for marketers to appropriately respond to the pandemic/pivot, such as these blog posts about using paid ads during the pandemic and how to make sure your social media presence wasn’t offensive and was relevant.
  • I give back significantly to the community. I was involved with the Braintree Relay For Life Committee for a while, and now, I do a number of charity walks in addition to all the other beneficial work I mentioned above.

Our Focus On Health & Wellness

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ll know that I’ll throw in a good blog post about walking once in a while. You can use the categories search tool/drop-down menu to search on “walking” to see the various walking topics about which I’ve written.

Since my corporate marketing days, I’ve always loved to share health & wellness tips — whether they be with fellow employees as part of an internal communications role, or with members of a health plan I worked for, and from the get-go with Results Communications & Research, I’ve aimed to inspire those with health (and other challenges) to never give up, and keep fighting via my “Keep Up The Fight” website page. And, I recently put up a new blog post about an invisible disease with which many health warriors who have battled or are battling other forms of illness have to contend.

Our Thank You

My digital marketing agency/SEO company and I would have never made it this far without all the help of great collaborators, cheerleaders (friends, family, my husband Jay, and other fellow small business owners), and most importantly, our clients who looked to us for expert marketing guidance and assistance. We have many clients with whom we’ve served as an outsourced marketing department for years, and we thank you for your faith in us! We’ve so enjoyed being a part of your business family! We also thank those who we haven’t had the opportunity to work with for as long as some of our long-term clients, but have enjoyed or are enjoying being a part of your organization’s success story.

What’s Next

I don’t know what the future holds for Results Communications & Research, but I’m excited about what’s to come! And, I know I will continue to try to give back as much as possible with the platform that this fun, educational, and interesting business provides!

Want To Benefit From The Marketing Services Of A Digital Marketing Agency/SEO With A Long Tenure And Who Gives Back?

Reach out today to schedule a complimentary discussion about how we can help your organization create awareness and/or drive inquiries and sales via our outsourced marketing and/or strategic marketing planning services.

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4 Free Google Accounts Each & Every For-Profit and Non-Profit Organization Needs

Regardless of whether your organization is for-profit or non-profit, because it’s highly likely you want target audiences to learn about your mission, products, services, and solutions, and you want to be able track which marketing and communications activities are creating awareness and sales/engagement, you’ll stand to benefit greatly from setting up and using the following four types of free Google accounts:

  1. A Google My Business Profile – this supports your organization being found locally by relevant searchers, since often Google will serve up a Google My Business Profile in lieu of a website for searches that include “near me” or the name of a city or town. You don’t want to miss on out on the opportunity to make target audiences aware of your organization!
  2. Google Analyticsa GA4 Google Analytics account will allow you to analyze which of your marketing activities are driving the most traffic to your website, e.g., Google Ads, social media advertising, organic social media posts, search-engine optimization tactics, or e-mail/e-newsletters.
  3. Google Search Console – this tool serves a couple of purposes. It allows you to see for which search terms Google is most frequently serving up your website. And, then, for which search terms for which Google serves up a listing (which includes a link to your website) are searchers then clicking on the link to visit your site. This free Google tool also lets you see, on average, where in Google Search results listings, a listing with a link to your site appears, and the % of people who click on a listing link when it is served up to them. You can also use your Google Search Console account to submit revised or new blog posts or website pages for indexing/crawling, so that you don’t have to wait for Google to find this new and revised content, and therefore, wait for Google to start serving it up in search results for relevant searches.
  4. Google Tag Manager – this tool allows you to set up tags that track various actions that a website visitor can take on your website. These tags basically “fire” and provide data to and in Google Analytics when visitors take actions like completing and submitting an inquiry form on your website, clicking on a hyperlinked e-mail address or phone number, scheduling an appointment, or purchasing something. Such desired actions by visitors are known as “conversions.” Without the use of a conversion-tracking tool like Google Tag Manager, you’re never going to know what marketing activities are causing website visitors to “convert,” and as a recent article about analyzing digital advertising results from Search Engine Land explains, that’s so important to understanding the effectiveness of various marketing activities and where to spend your marketing time and dollars.
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Need Help Setting Up Google Accounts?

Our team is always here to help. Contact our Boston digital marketing agency today for assistance or learn more about such services on our Google Analytics Set-up and Reporting and SEO services pages.

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Is Social Media Worth It?

On average, 110 individuals a month enter the question posed in our blog post title into Google. That’s over 1,300 individuals a year wondering whether they should be investing their time, energy, and money in social media.

Obviously, our Boston digital marketing agency and SEO company doesn’t know the intent behind the posing of this question. Are the searchers posing this question related to their personal use of social media or use of social media for their business? We’re guessing it’s a combination of both. That said, the purpose of this blog post is not to answer the question of how much time you should spend on social media related to your personal life, but rather, with a new year about to get underway, whether you should continue to invest time, energy, and money related to posting on social media and how much.

How Much Time & Energy Should My Organization Spend On Social Media?

The answer to the above is it all depends on the nature of your organization and the products and services you offer, plus the social media results you’ve seen to-date. I remember when organizations first started using social media to promote their businesses — I recall that happening in the early 2010’s. Both for-profit and non-profit organizations felt that if they didn’t jump on the social media bandwagon, they’d be left behind, have a huge competitive disadvantage, and maybe suffer great financial consequences. At the time I was in a marketing role at a health care organization, and quite honestly, I did champion the use of social media to create awareness of my organization’s services, but I don’t think I ever believed that social media was going to have an immediate, large impact on sales results. In many cases, as discussed below, social media has a less immediate impact and is more about creating awareness.

As a marketer, while I’ve often felt hesitant to voice the above and related thoughts about social media to other marketers, I’ve always been nervous and apprehensive about organizations moving too much of their marketing team’s or agency’s time and/or budget away from other traditional and digital marketing activities, and into organic social media activities vs. paid social media ones and/or investing too heavily in organic social media. Why? Because I just wasn’t seeing organic social media vs. social media ads moving the “conversion” needle, i.e., causing desired actions by target audiences, particularly when they visited an organization’s website.

Website Data Doesn’t Lie

For years now, I’ve been able to use various forms of Google Analytics to track either my employer’s or my clients’ website visitors — how they arrived on the site and what actions they took there. In many cases, very regular social media posting was driving very little traffic to their websites, and the traffic that was visiting their sites (due to clicking on a link to their website shared via a social media post or profile) wasn’t taking a desired action like completing a lead or inquiry form, or buying a product or service.

2024 Recommended Social Media Use By Businesses

So, what does that mean for organizations and their use of social media in the new year?

  • Consider how much time and money you have to spend on all forms of marketing, not just organic social media posting. Whether it be internal staff or an outside marketing consultant or agency that does the work, how many hours and what marketing $ budget will you have to spend in the new year for all forms of marketing?
  • Based on 2023’s time and $$ spend on social media (fees to agencies and/or consultants for their organic social media post work vs. social media advertising work and/or advertising buy), how much of your 2024 marketing budget and time would be spent on organic social media posting vs. social media advertising, and does it warrant that percentage of your overall marketing budget and time being spent on it? So, how will you know if it’s warranted? Ask yourself the following:
    • Do any sales or leads tracking systems, including Google Analytics (GA4) indicate that you are getting a sufficient number of inquiries or sales to justify the time and $$ associated with organic social media posting?
    • Do you often learn anecdotally from new and prospective clients that they learned about you on social media due to your posts or profile?
    • Does the product or service that you offer have a long lead time, i.e., do target audiences often take a long time and do a lot of research about your products and services before they make a decision, and therefore, is awareness creation among target audiences an important first step in the sales process?
    • Is your product or service one that target audiences tend to investigate on social media such as a consumer goods or consumer service one, like jewelry, clothing, a hairdresser, or a restaurant?

If you can answer “yes” to any of the questions above, then it’s likely you still want to have a fairly robust presence on social media in 2024 and, therefore, do want to continue to put out a steady stream of social media posts on the various platforms in which you participate. Keep in mind that daily posting is likely unnecessary and may actually be considered by target audiences as annoying. 3-5 posts a week is likely the ideal cadence for most organizations posting on social media.

Do I Need To Have A Social Media Profile On All Social Media Platforms?

The answer to the above is “no,” and if you do, it’s likely because you haven’t taken the time to really understand your particular target audiences and their social media preferences. Which profiles are they most likely to hang out on based on their age and interests — and are they personal platforms vs. professional ones like LinkedIn? Are there particular platforms like “X,” (formerly Twitter) or TikTok that your target audiences won’t/don’t visit and on which your organization wouldn’t want to have a profile simply because of all the negative press and sentiment associated with those platforms?

Add “first user source/medium” as a second dimension to your Google Analytics traffic acquisition report to determine which forms of social media are driving the most traffic to your website and/or your Google Analytics conversions/events reports (and add same “first user source/medium” dimension) to see which site visitors coming from social media are taking desired actions on your site. That will help you determine which platforms you should continue to post to most regularly, if at all (although don’t completely vacate a platform without encouraging visitors to follow you on another social media platform).

The Social Media Platform You Should Always Be Posting To

Being the SEO geeks and SEO experts that we are, we always say to our existing and prospective clients, “always think of your Google My Business Profile as another form of social media.” As we explain in our blog post about ranking locally, when Google decides to serve up your website in search engine results for relevant terms, depending on whether or not a geographic (city, town) or “near me” term was included in the search phrase, Google might serve up your website or it might serve up your Google My Business Profile.

To keep your Google My Business Profile ranking as well as possible in search results, be sure to keep it fresh/current, as Google rewards such profiles the way it does websites.

Need Help Related to 2024 Strategic Marketing Planning?

Need help figuring out where and how to spend your 2024 marketing $$ and time? Reach out for a complimentary discussion of your marketing challenges and opportunities.

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Blogging Is Still A Very Effective SEO Tactic

I recently watched a video from an SEO expert who stated that, for certain organizations, regular blogging may no longer be an effective SEO strategy.

The above is not what I’ve seen in the past and what I continue to see. My clients who make and take the time to write and post new blog posts on topics that their particular target audiences are interested in and need to better understand, continue to drive traffic to their website from audiences who have great potential to buy their products or use their services. And, they are driving those relevant audiences because they are ranking well on Google for desirable search terms (known as keywords) because Google is indexing their blog content and serving it up in search results in relevant geographies.

This is the image of hands that are on a laptop keyword and what is shown on the laptop screen is someone editing something that they are posting to a WordPress website. The image is shown to support our Boston SEO company's blog post about why you should continue to blog and how to blog effectively.

How To Blog Effectively

Anyone can “blog,” but how do you blog effectively to support SEO and actual sales?

  • Employ a keyword planner tool, like Google Ads’, to determine on which high-volume keywords your target audiences are searching
  • Use tools like Ubersuggest, Google Trends, and Answer The Public to see what questions your audiences has or what they are searching most about, and create blog posts that speak to those searches and questions
  • Use Google Analytics and Google Search Console to determine what new, or long-time, blog posts on your site individuals are visiting most and make sure that you:

Need Ideas About What To Blog About?

Our team can help you develop a blogging strategy that would include research to determine what you should be blogging about. Depending on the complexity of the products and services you offer, we can even write and post your blog posts for you and make sure they get crawled/indexed by Google.

Reach Out To Our Boston SEO Company Today!

We love a good complimentary discussion about any organization’s marketing challenges or opportunities — whether the organization be a nonprofit or for-profit. To-date, we’ve supported approximately 125 different brands, so there’s very few industries, products, or services for which we don’t have at least some relevant marketing experience; plus, we’re quick to learn new industries, products, and services. So, schedule your free call with our team of SEO experts today!

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Why You’re Missing Out If You Don’t Consider Joomla For Your Website CMS/Platform

While our Boston digital marketing agency doesn’t normally build websites for clients, we regularly advise our clients about what content management systems (CMS)/website platforms they should consider when launching a new website. We’ve also project managed the RFP/RFI process for several clients to arrive at the best-fit web developer and platform for a new site build. In addition, we often provide recommendations to clients for expert developers in various CMS with whom we’ve had the good fortunate to collaborate. One such collaborator and true partner is Robin Clapp at Web Design by Robin.

By working closely and collaboratively with Robin on the execution of SEO tactics on numerous mutual clients’ Joomla websites, we’ve gotten to know the many benefits to an organization of building and managing their website on Joomla. We’ve found it easy ourselves to use the tool to add new posts to resource/blog/news/articles sections of sites; plus, enter post title tags that support websites being found on Google for relevant high-volume keywords.

And, thru the results of SEO audits we conduct, we’ve become confident that, like WordPress and other sites built on non-drag-n-drop platforms, Joomla sites tend to rank well in Google when the proper SEO tactics are put in place. But, we’re letting Robin take it from here by sharing her thoughts below about why it’s a mistake not to consider Joomla as a website platform option when launching a new site.

From Guest Blogger, Robin Clapp, Web Design By Robin

While networking lately, I’ve been asked repeatedly, “What platform do you design websites on?” The reaction to my answer is confusion. They had never heard of Joomla. That’s okay! I don’t necessarily expect business owners to know all about website technology. So I put together these highlights to help them understand what Joomla is and why it is an excellent choice for a business website.

What Is Joomla and Why Should I Choose It For My Business Website?

What is Joomla and why should I choose it for my business website?

Joomla is the ideal Content Management System (CMS) platform for businesses and companies with websites with numerous pages and continuous content updates and additions.

At Web Design by Robin we have been designing custom websites in Joomla for 15+ years. Using extensive website development knowledge and years of experience developing websites in Joomla, each design is a custom experience tailored to your specific needs. Joomla provides a secure login and the ability to add, change, and remove content.

Benefits Of Using the Joomla Platform For Your New Website Include:

  • Joomla is a free, open-source content management system for publishing web content. Joomla is free and open-source because a community, not a company, owns it. The nonprofit organization, Open Source Matters, Inc. and the Joomla community develop the Joomla platform code where skilled Joomla specialists can design top-of-the-line websites.
  • Website content is template-agnostic. In the Joomla platform, content is created natively as individual elements. The template, in our case, a custom-designed template, is independent of the content, allowing for a design change while keeping the content as is.
  • Joomla has powerful role management and permissions built-in. This is useful if you have a variety of staff roles and responsibilities or tasks that they need to perform in relation to the website.
  • Content can be customized using custom fields. Custom fields include content and options such as video, audio, links, and images. Content can be categorized, tagged, searched, and sorted. All this is native to Joomla, making it an excellent solution for resource-heavy websites.
  • SEO metadata is easy to access and maintain in Joomla. Add your titles, descriptions, and alt tags in the same place you add your content. Joomla makes it easy.
  • Joomla is the leading platform when it comes to accessibility. If you choose accessibility for your website design, maintaining accessible content is easy going forward using Joomla’s built-in accessibility checker.

Joomla websites are beautiful, functional, and robust. At Web Design by Robin we design all our websites in Joomla. Check out our extensive portfolio to see just how diverse websites designed in Joomla can be.

What to learn more about Robin and Joomla?

Feel free to reach out to Robin directly, or ask us to make an introduction — we’d love to do so!

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Why It’s Time To Get Back To Internet and SEO Basics

As we mentioned in this recent blog post, there’s so much discussion going on right now about whether or not, and how soon, AI (artificial intelligence) will impact how search engines like Google determine what websites, Google My Business Profiles/Google Search & Maps listings, or other digital properties to serve up in search results.

We think, now more than ever, it’s important to return to why the internet, via which individuals are able to access various digital properties, was first launched. Certainly and initially, the internet was created to allow for easier sharing of information. We believe that, regardless of the decade in which we find ourselves living and working, websites and other digital properties should still continue to support the internet’s initial mission, and therefore, focus on the target audiences they serve and what information those target audiences expect to find on the online property in-question. Plus, focus on what information would be most helpful to those audiences.

Image is a gray square that has "2 Best Practices For Digital Information-Sharing That Also Support SEO" as a header in dark turquoise letters. Underneath in the square two smaller headlines read "1. Be Authentic" and "2. Be Fresh (Keep Your Content Fresh, That Is!". The logo of our Boston digital marketing agency and Boston Digital marketing agency is at the bottom of the image, Results Communications and Research.

Two Best Practices For Digital Information Sharing That Also Support SEO

So, what are two practices that are critical to effective information sharing that also support SEO (search engine optimization)/being found on Google?

  1. As we called out in our “SEO Is Not For Sissies” blog post that we wrote seven years ago (2016), BE AUTHENTIC.
    • Provide the best User Experience (UX) by not overthinking, and being real and being honest about who your organization is and the services your offer. While you want external organizations to link to your site, don’t offer compensation for sites to do so. Google recognizes when the connection between organizations is forced vs. real and natural. In addition, don’t just write for SEO. Tell a good story, get people talking about you, be newsworthy, etc. Write about the things that matter most to you and your customers.
  2. BE FRESH. Keep your website and any other digital property’s content fresh by continuing to produce and share new, content relevant to both your organization and your target audiences. Visitors to your online properties aren’t going to return if there’s no new information to be gleaned from your site, and Google and other search engines are way more likely to serve up a competitor site for relevant search terms (keywords) if that competitor site has fresher, newer content. What’s an easy way to keep your content fresh? Create and post a bi-weekly or monthly blog post!

Even if the two digital information principles/best practices above are all you have time to attend to due to limited staff, time, or $, barring any kind of technical issues with your digital properties, as Boston digital marketing experts offering SEO services, we believe you’ll be well positioned to be found on Google by the people you want most to find you. Plus, you’ll be supporting the internet’s original mission to share beneficial information effectively!

Don’t Have Time To Ensure Your Website Content Is Authentic Or Fresh?

The team at our Boston digital marketing agency, Results Communications & Research, has a significant experience serving as the blog voice for many of our clients, in addition to writing our own blogs. Schedule a time to learn more about our one-time and ongoing SEO services, or learn more here.

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Should I Hire A Marketing Agency, A Marketing Consultant, Or A PR Firm?

Regardless of the size of your organization, it can be confusing to figure out what type of marketing agency or marketing consultant to hire to help you create awareness, and ultimately cause sales of your products, services, and solutions. The ability to market digitally/electronically — that came with wide-spread adoption of the internet — brought with it the following changes when it came to organizations engaging outside help for their marketing (outsourcing their marketing), whether it be for one-off/one-time work or ongoing work.

How Digital Marketing Leveled The Playing Field For Both Advertisers and Ad Agencies

  • Organizations who couldn’t afford the high costs associated with producing TV, radio, transit, or outdoors (billboards or other) advertising, found new, more affordable marketing activities were now available to them in the form of social media posting and advertising, tactics that support websites being found on Google and other search engines for desirable search phrases (organic search tactics/SEO tactics), paid search engine ads/marketing (SEM), e-blast and e-mail marketing, and more.
  • Since many organizations looking for marketing help no longer required the infrastructure and diverse skillsets associated with marketing tactics that involved large production activities and costs, some realized they no longer needed to hire a full-service large advertising agency — think the type of agency featured in the acclaimed TV series, “Mad Men,” or on “BeWitched,” as smaller marketing shops, like ours, could meet their digital marketing needs and/or traditional marketing needs related to activities that don’t require a lot of production, such as Public Relations (PR), or print advertising.

Getting back to whom your organization should consider hiring for ongoing marketing services or one-time/one-off marketing project work/help, here’s one Boston digital marketing agency’s, Boston SEO company’s, and Boston marketing consultant’s thoughts — yeah, we consider ourselves to be all of the aforementioned, and for clients who engage us for non-PR work, we can also be engaged for help with PR since our Principal has a great deal of PR experience.

This is a square gray image with our Boston digital marketing agency's logo (Results Communications & Research's) logo at the bottom. At the top of the image in big bold letters it says "Should I Hire An Ad Agency, A Digital Marketing Agency, Marketing Consultant, Or PR Firm?" Underneath That In A Dark Powder Blue It Says" Read One Marketing Professional's Thoughts."

How To Figure Out What Type Of Marketing Firm To Hire And Questions To Ask

Branding and Design Firm. A firm that refers to themselves as a branding/brand and design firm primarily focuses on helping you figure out the look and feel of your brand, including the logo, colors, and graphic elements that will be associated with your brand. They usually offer website design services, but not always. And, some do offer other digital marketing or traditional marketing services thru collaborations or partnerships with digital marketing agencies, advertising agencies, or marketing consultants, or marketing freelancers. So, if you know you will need particular digital and/or traditional marketing services after working with the branding firm to develop or execute a new brand identify for you, ask in advance if they offer those services, so you will know whether you will have the burden of hunting around after for someone to help with traditional and digital marketing services — particularly to drive traffic to any new site you engage them to design for you.

Digital Marketing Agency. Digital marketing agencies tend to offer both higher-level strategic planning services, as well as hands-on/execution services, related to any marketing tactic that is digital or electronic related, including: e-blast/e-mail strategy and execution services, social media strategy and voice (actually writing and scheduling of social media posts), online advertising (social media/display advertising, Google Ads or other search engine advertising), blog strategy and voice work (actually writing and posting of blogs to your website), and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Most will offer content marketing services as well to help you figure out what content your target audiences are most interested in, and an editorial calendar for serving up such content on your website. Website content writing services likely will be available as well.

SEO Company. Because paid search engine advertising/marketing (SEM) supports an organization ranking well in relevant search engine results, as our Boston SEO company does, most SEO companies offer strategy and execution services related to both organic search/organic SEO tactics, as well as paid search advertising services. Some will offer some additional digital marketing services as well.

Marketing Consultant. In the almost nine years since we launched Results C & R, we’ve met a large number of marketing consultants. The degree to which they offer hands-on/execution work vs. developing high-level strategic plans tends to really vary. Some offer a number of hands-on services, in addition to helping you develop a strategic marketing plan, while others don’t do the actual marketing tactic execution work. If your organization has a number of internal marketing people who can actually oversee or execute the marketing plan developed by a consultant, a marketing consultant may be just what and all that you need.

Public Relations Firm/PR Firm. The focus of public relations firms is to get your organization unpaid-for-advertising/marketing. By helping your organization develop a strategy for causing various reporters and media to cover your story, they help your organization get mentions and attention without the cost of an expensive advertising campaign. PR firms also tend to offer event planning services since an event may be the perfect way to create awareness of your organization and/or create good will among your target audiences. Keep in mind that if you only need help with putting on an event vs. getting regular/ongoing press coverage, you could consider hiring an event planning firm. Many event planning firms also have experience getting media/reporter coverage for an event as well.

In general, the biggest overlap between a digital marketing agency and a Public Relations firm is that they both tend to offer social media services, since social media posts — particularly organic vs. paid/boosted social media posts — can help to generate good will and create awareness of an organization’s products, services, and solutions.

Advertising Agency. Nowadays, when people think of, or decide to hire an advertising agency vs. a digital marketing agency, it’s related to the fact that advertising agencies can pull in the right team members or hire the right contractors for a marketing campaign that requires heavy-duty production. As we mentioned above, scripting and executing a radio, TV (network or cable) or streaming advertisement requires the collaboration of a bunch of individuals with diverse skillsets, the renting of studios and/or locations in which to film, the hiring of “talent” for the broadcast spot — whether it be aired on the radio or TV. Activities like the aforementioned are often the reason why, in our current day and age, an organization would look to hire an advertising agency vs. a digital marketing agency. Although, most advertising agencies offer digital marketing services, in addition to traditional ones.

Web Design/Web Development Firm. Web design and web development firms are exactly what their name indicates — firms who help design and develop websites for clients. Many also offer logo design or other graphic design services because of their web designers’ ability to successfully complete such work. All web design/web development firms DO NOT offer SEO services nor do they always understand SEO, so if you expect or want to receive SEO services as part of your new website launch, be sure to ask any firms you are considering to design and develop your site, what knowledge they have of SEO and/or who they have on their team that has an SEO background. Otherwise, as we explain in this blog post, you’ll end up with a website that is not easily found via search engine searches.

Unfortunately, we regularly interact with prospective clients who had someone develop a beautiful, effective site for them, but the site is not being visited/found by target audiences because SEO tactics weren’t put in place by the web design/web development firm as part of the site development and design engagement.

This image shows the back of a dark-skinned woman who is wearing a striped white and light blue shirt. She is holding a pencil or pen above a notebook on her right-hand side and her left-hand is hovered over a laptop computer keyboard. The screen of the computer says "Marketing" in big blue letter. The image is being shown in keeping with our Boston Digital Marketing Agency's blog post about how to know what type of marketing agency or consultant to hire.

What Should I Expect To Pay A Marketing Agency Or A Marketing Consultant?

Based, again, on our 9 years of marketing agency and marketing consulting experience at the time of writing this post, we’ve found that, in general, the bigger the agency/marketing shop, the more expensive their hourly rate and marketing project fees are. Why? It mainly comes down to overhead and the costs of maintaining and marketing a larger organization, offering a large number of employees benefits, etc.

If your organization doesn’t expect to need the type of traditional advertising production work outlined above under the “Advertising Agency” section, you’ll very likely fare better financially hiring a smaller digital marketing agency or PR firm or a marketing consultant. Plus, you may end up getting more personal attention than you would with a larger agency. And, most smaller shops can pull in a collaborator, freelancer, or other agency or consultant, as needed.

We’re A Boston Digital Marketing Agency, Boston SEO Company, Boston Marketing Consultant, and Boston PR Firm All In One!

Due to our Principal’s more than 30 years of corporate marketing and consulting experience, we offer all the services called out in the heading directly above! We regularly meet with both start-ups and long-standing organizations — both for-profit and non-profit — for complimentary discussions about their marketing challenges and opportunities, so feel free to use our calendar app to schedule a FREE initial consultation https://calendly.com/gail-moraski.

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One Data Geek’s Thoughts On Key Implications Of Switching From UA to GA4 Google Analytics Property

Refer to it as you will — and we are seeing a lot of reference variability, such as GA4 and G4 — but Google Analytics’ new property version will soon be here to stay and pushing aside the Universal Analytics (UA) version (a version which all of us digital marketers and data geeks are very familiar with and have grown to love over the years.)

Since as a Boston SEO Company and Boston Digital Marketing agency, we ask each and every one of our clients to provide us with access to their Google Analytics data — so that we can help them determine what marketing activities are and aren’t working for them and what their general “website health” looks like — we are sorry to see the UA version of Google Analytics go. We’ve been using it 20 years, both in corporate and consulting roles, to assess the aforementioned.

Per Google’s own declaration, UA versions of Google Analytics will stop recording hits come July 1, 2023, which means the last day an organization can use Google Analytics to effectively track website visitor behavior with a UA property version is June 30, 2023. That said, our digital marketing agency is already hard at work learning the “ins and outs” of GA4, and working with our clients to make the switch late 2022 or early 2023 to this new Google Analytics property version.

We just completed several online classes offered by Google to learn about the many benefits of GA4 Analytics and how GA4 differrs from UA Analytics. While it’s fresh in our minds, we’re sharing our immediate reactions. We decided not to outline pro’s and con’s because general use, and our own use, of GA4 is too new and what we might consider a “pro” someone might consider a “con,” and vice versa.

Keep in mind we aren’t calling out similarities or things that will remain fairly constant across the two property versions. You can learn more about the general benefits of having a Google Analytics account here.

Key Benefits Of GA4 Analytics Over UA Analytics

  • G4 simultaneously tracks both mobile app and website data
  • G4 can often track a user across devices and platforms (UA was only able to track based on device ID) — this means if an individual originally visits your website using their phone, but later visits your site using their desktop, laptop, or other device, your organization will be able to track that individual as one user (currently in UA Analytics that same individual would likely be tracked as several users) and follow their user journey. Important note: You’ll likely see your “unique user” volume drop when you switch from UA to GA4 Analytics for the reasons outlined above and below.
    • So how does Google accomplish the above? By looking at three distinct identifiers or identity spaces:
      • User ID (this is an ID that an organization provided to a customer or prospective customer or other website visitor as part of their need or ability to login to the organization’s website)
      • Google signal (available when people are signed into a Google account, such as a Gmail e-mail account and have consented to sharing that info.)
      • Device ID (this info. comes from a user’s browser or app instance ID)

Key Differences Between GA4 Analytics and UA Analytics

  • GA4’s tracking emphasis is on user events vs. sessions (note that session info. is still available in GA4)
    • Many standard user events (activities that a user completes on a website, such as downloading a document) are automatically tracked in GA4 vs. UA Analytics. This means organizations will be far less dependent on using Google Tag Manager to set up event tracking, something we believe most organizations will welcome. We know we found using the aforementioned tool very cumbersome.
  • A smaller number of standard/pre-defined reports are available within GA4, but an extensive set of tools known as “Explorations” allow data geeks to slice ‘n dice data to their heart’s content. We’ve always found the best way to learn a new tool is to set it up and start playing around with it. We’ve found if you do some digging around in GA4, you’ll figure out where and how to access info. that you analyzed regularly in UA Analytics.

Interestingly enough, the Google-provided training we took highlighted the same items we highlighted above as benefits or differences in this grid that was shared in the training.

Need Help Setting Up A GA4 Analytics Property?

Our team of SEO experts and data analytics experts are here to help related to helping you set up a GA4 property or to answer questions about GA4. So please don’t hesitate to reach out!

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Understanding Google’s New Emphasis On “Helpful Content” Related To SEO

As we’ve shared on social media and with our SEO company’s clients, Google announced in September 2022 a key revision to their search algorithm (the algorithm they use to decide which websites to serve up, and in which order, for search terms entered in their search engine) to which each and every website owner should pay close attention. And, that is that they, as the #1 search engine used by individuals (92% or more of individuals use Google as their primary search engine), will be paying greater consideration to whether or not a website’s content is “helpful” or “unhelpful” when making search engine results listing ranking decisions. As you would expect, sites with “helpful content” are more likely to be served up and rank well in search results for relevant terms.

Impact of Google’s September 2022 “Helpful Content” Algorithm Change

We know first-hand how much of a shift in ranking can take place when Google views your site as one that shares “helpful content.” Our site now rank approx. 50 spots higher in Google search results for a high-volume, relevant keyword and that shift happened almost overnight. We believe that the positive shift was due to Google recognizing that our Boston digital marketing agency consistently publishes blog posts that are easily understood by a “lay person,” but also provide enough instruction to implement some of the marketing tactics we describe and recommend in our posts.

Shared below in Google’s “own words” is information from Google’s Search Central blog about how to ensure your website content is “helpful.” We’ve highlighted (via bold italics) what we consider to be the most critical policies to apply when making decisions about what topics to write about — and how to write about them — to make sure your content is beneficial to the various audiences who visit your site. All of their recommendations should improve your website’s “bounce rate,” i.e., the percentage of people who land/start on your site without interacting it in any way, such as clicking on a link or call-out, or visiting another page of your site. When prospective clients or clients are bouncing too quickly from your site, it’s an opportunity for a competitor to win them over on their site, right?

Unhelpful Website Content And How It Impacts SEO

The flip side of the positive practice of regular production and posting of “helpful content” is to eliminate content that Google may deem as “unhelpful (which could negatively impact how your website ranks for “desirable” search terms).” Such “unhelpful” content includes:

  • Short content that is “stuffed” with keywords and was primarily loaded to your site to support your site being found on Google for those keywords.
  • Content that is outdated — think events that have already passed or information that is no longer relevant or accurate, particularly pre-pandemic information since the pandemic greatly changed both business and consumer behavior.
  • Content that is all “about you,”, i.e., too focused on selling your products and singing your praises or sharing your differentiators without explaining how your prospective clients or clients would benefit from your products, services, and solutions, i.e., explaining what pain points of clients they would address.

Our team is here to help you interpret this most recent Google algorithm change, and put the right steps in place to make sure you respond to, and take advantage of, this recent Google algorithm change appropriately, promptly, and effectively. It’s very much in keeping with what we shared years ago in one of our very first SEO blog posts about making sure your website is “authentic.” So, please reach out if we can help you effectively navigation this change in algorithm — one we think makes is warranted, was a long-time-in-coming, and will provide for a far better user experience on all websites.

Google’s Explanation Of What “Helpful Content” Is

Source of information below: https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2022/08/helpful-content-update#:~:text=The%20helpful%20content%20update%20aims,successful%20with%20our%20new%20update%3F

Focus on people-first content

The helpful content update aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.

How can you ensure you’re creating content that will be successful with our new update? By following our long-standing advice and guidelines to create content for people, not for search engines. People-first content creators focus first on creating satisfying content, while also utilizing SEO best practices to bring searchers additional value. Answering yes to the questions below means you’re probably on the right track with a people-first approach:

  • Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
  • Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?
  • Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
  • After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
  • Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
  • Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and for product reviews?

Avoid creating content for search engines first

Our advice about having a people-first approach does not invalidate following SEO best practices, such as those covered in Google’s own SEO guide. SEO is a helpful activity when it’s applied to people-first content. However, content created primarily for search engine traffic is strongly correlated with content that searchers find unsatisfying.

How do you avoid taking a search engine-first approach? Answering yes to some or all of the questions is a warning sign that you should reevaluate how you’re creating content across your site:

  • Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?
  • Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
  • Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
  • Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
  • Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
  • Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
  • Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don’t).
  • Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?
  • Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there’s a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn’t confirmed?