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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.

COVID-19 marketing, fundraising/development, Google Ads, Google Nonprofit Ad Grant, landing page, online advertising, paid search, pandemic marketing, Post-COVID-19 Marketing, pull marketing, sales, SEM, Uncategorized

Should You Be Running Google Ads Search Advertising During Our Pandemic?

The answer to the headline above is “it all depends.”

Based on the current Google Ads campaigns I’m running for clients, it appears that average cost-per-clicks, in general, have decreased a fair amount during our pandemic. That means the price an advertiser will pay each time someone clicks on their ad and arrives at their website landing page is less than what it would have been pre-pandemic. So, who should be investing in Google Ads (also known as paid search, pay-per-click (PPC), or search engine marketing (SEM)) right now?

Organizations should be investing in Google Ads right now if:

  1. non-extravagant consumer goods products that can be shipped/delivered
  2. moderately priced services that can be accessed virtually/online, such as the ability to take a class or be coached virtually
  3. services and products that are a necessity, despite their cost. Examples of this would be services to repair a plumbing issue or a leaky roof or a new washing machine to replace one that broke
  • you offer a product or service that has a lengthy sales lead time, i.e., target audiences — whether they be business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) — tend to conduct a lot of research and take a number of weeks or months to make a decision to make a purchase of said product or service. Many individuals have more free time on their hands right now because of freed-up work commuting time and a significantly reduced number of social engagements. So, if they have a large future purchase in mind, it’s highly likely they are gathering information related to their probable purchase now. Examples of purchases with long lead time could be project management software or systems to be used by an employer or elective surgery to replace a hip.
  • you’re a nonprofit seeking donations to support your efforts to adapt or continue to offer services during COVID-19. Whether you have a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant under which you can execute such advertising, or you’ll need to pay for your own advertising, with the lower average cost-per-click we’re witnessing, Google Ads may be a very cost-effective fundraising tactic.

Be forewarned that the price of Google Ads and other forms of pay-per-click advertising, such as social media advertising, is expected to rise again — and perhaps rapidly — post-pandemic because of pent-up demand by organizations to promote their products or services. That’s why if you meet one of the requirements above and you’ve always wanted to test the “paid search” waters but believed the media (advertising buy) cost would be prohibitive, you might want to consider implementing a Google Ads campaign as soon as possible vs. waiting until things seem back to normal (or as close to normal as is achievable in 2020).

We are trying to “give back” as much as possible during these challenging times. We are glad to help any non-profit organization apply for a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant for free. We’re also offering the following special. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to discuss your pandemic or post-pandemic marketing challenges and opportunities. It’s never to early to start planning!

Being Found on Google, digital marketing agency, direct mail, Google Analytics, keywords, marketing consultant, Nonprofit Marketing & Communications, online advertising, organic SEO, paid search, pull marketing, push marketing, Results Analysis, Search Engine Optimization, search terms, SEM, SEO, target audiences, technical SEO, User experience, website

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.

Search Engine Optimization, SEM, SEO, social media, technical SEO, Uncategorized

Why SEO Is Not A One and Done Marketing Activity

Even if Google didn’t regularly change its algorithm that determines which organizations’ listings it serves up on the first two pages of search results, and even if new competitors haven’t entered your marketplace or existing competitors haven’t up’d their SEO game, your organization still needs to regularly revisit your SEO strategy and tactics. By regularly, I mean, at least quarterly.

My digital marketing agency is often engaged to implement activities related to keyword research and planning (such as employment of appropriate keywords in website content and behind-the-scenes website tags). While keyword research and planning is a large, complex, and time-consuming activity that doesn’t need to be revisited monthly or quarterly, there are a number of SEO review and audit type activities that should. I won’t repeat those activities in this post because I’ve already outlined them in the recent blog posts shared below, but I hope you’ll take the time to read or re-read these past posts. They outline easy tasks you can and should complete to make sure you are up-to-SEO-speed and that potential issues with your website aren’t impacting your SEO, or that tactics that you are or aren’t employing related to your social media presence, aren’t harming how your organization ranks in search engine results in some way.

Don’t have the time or capacity to complete the above monthly or quarterly SEO activities? My team is always here to help! E-mail or call us for information about the services we can provide related to quarterly SEO reviews.

 

 

integrated marketing, keywords, Objectives Setting, organic SEO, Search Engine Optimization, search terms, SEM, SEO, Target Marketing, traditional marketing, Understanding Your Environment, website

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.

online advertising, organic SEO, paid search, SEM, SEO, technical SEO, Uncategorized

CAPITALIZE ON SUMMER’S LULL TO GO AFTER LOW-HANGING SEO FRUIT

I’m sure there are exceptions to this, depending on how staff summer vacations are scheduled and the nature of services you offer and the time of year those you serve tend to use them, but in general, summer seems to be a slower time for many organizations. So along with blueberry & strawberry picking during the lazy, hazy days of summer, why not consider reaching out and snagging some low-hanging fruit related to SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?

Search Engine Optimization is all about making sure your organization’s website is well-positioned to rank high in search engine results listings for those terms most used by your target audience(s) to identify an organization that offers your services. There’s two broad categories of SEO tactics an organization can implement to improve how high up in results listings they appear for desired search terms: paid search (ads that appear at the top of Google, Bing, and other search engine results) and technical (non-paid activities you can undertake to improve where you come up in non-advertising/organic results).

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Detailed below are technical-SEO-tactic low-hanging fruit/SEO best practices to pick away at this summer. They’re presented in the order of what I believe to be the criticalness for addressing.

#1 – Make Visitors Feel Secure

  • If your site’s address is still an https:// vs. https:// one (insecure vs. secure), you are very likely being ranked lower in search engine results than your competitors and this issue is expected to worsen. Visitors don’t like visiting sites that aren’t secure and search engines don’t like to send searchers to such sites. Your website host or developer/designer should be able to install an SSL security certificate to convert your site from an insecure one to a secure one.

#2 – Think About the Company You Keep

  • If for whatever reason, a good amount of your site’s traffic is being driven by links (known as backlinks) found on sites that are considered “spammy,” this will also negatively impact where and how frequently search engines will share a listing that points to your website for terms relevant to your organization. Sometimes, many non-reputable organizations may be sending traffic to an organization’s site without your webmaster even knowing it. Read how to check for that issue and how to address it.

#3 – Mend Those Broken Relationships

  • Broken links, i.e., links on your site to another page of your site (internal link) or to the page of another organization’s site (external link) that don’t work and provide visitors with a “404” error message will cause search engines to “ding” you as far as results rankings go. Ideally, you should conduct an audit quarterly – not just during the slower days of summer – by clicking on all your site links to see if they still work.

#4 – Capitalize On Effective Relationships

  • Think about what highly respected organizations might be willing to post a link to your site from theirs since links from other credible organizations greatly improve your search engine results rankings. Reach out to those organizations this summer to ask them if they’d consider adding a link.

#5 – Plan for the Fall

  • Even if your site provides a good user experience and contains beneficial, comprehensive info., to succeed at SEO, you need to regularly update it with fresh content. Search engines reward organizations who do so. If you don’t already have a blog on your site, speak with your internal webmaster or external developer/designer about adding one (assuming you believe there are one or several internal or external individuals who can provide content). If you have a blog, but  aren’t posting regularly to it or aren’t good about “tagging” it to be found by search engines, think about how you could improve this come fall.
  • If you don’t have a “responsive” site, one that responds to the device accessing it – particularly mobile phones – speak to the individuals mentioned above about how you can address that issue in fall 2019.

And, speaking of fall, stay tuned for a late summer/early fall 411 piece that provides additional technical tactics for you to consider & pursue.