Instagram, social media, social media strategy, social media voice

HOW & WHY SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS CAN BENEFIT FROM AN INSTAGRAM PRESENCE

A Joint Blog Post By Riley Goodrich and Gail Snow Moraski

Everyday, more than 500 million people log onto Instagram. People post pictures of their friends, their dogs, selfies, the vacation they are taking, the food they are eating… the list goes on. 

Seeing what your friends or other people you admire are up to in their day-to-day lives — as well as sharing what you’re up to — is great. But, the wonderful thing about Instagram is that it doesn’t have to be just for personal use, it can also be used for professional purposes like the following! 

  • Whether you’re a freelancer or own/work at a small business or non-profit, you can share images with information to help others and/or to encourage them to want to learn more about your services, products, or solutions to problems; therefore, create awareness about your organization
  • Learn about organizations or freelancers whom you might engage for services, buy something from, or just learn from!

As a business, having an Instagram account is a great way to expand your customer base and create a wider interest in and awareness of your products and services; this is not only applicable for businesses with multitudes of photos of their tangible goods, i.e., business or consumer products, but also for organizations that offer services. While many individuals and organizations have been using it to gather and share information for years now, today is better late than never to create a profile on Instagram.

For example, let’s take a look at our own organization’s (@resultscommandresearch) Instagram page

  1. Inspirational quotes

Posting motivational or inspirational quotes is a great way to connect with others online. By putting out positive energy, you are more than likely to get positive energy in return! When you open Instagram, the first thing you want to see is something positive. By following upbeat people and organizations online, you can help make social media a positive place.  

  1. SEO/marketing tips 

For Results Communications & Research, in particular, we offer SEO, or search engine optimization as one of our most-popular services. This is a service, not a tangible product. Even so, Instagram is a great place to show off what we can offer. By giving useful advice and sharing best practices, we can show what we know and that we are a subject matter expert (SME); this type of post is great because it encourages engagement and consumer education!  And, target audiences like it when organizations are willing to provide some information for free, like low-hanging SEO fruit they can tackle on their own.

  1. Celebrating national holidays and days, like #NationalChocolateChipCookieDay!

National holidays are a great reason to post. As a shared experience, these types of posts engage all types of people in the community and promote togetherness. Even if your organization is national or international, it’s always important for it to be viewed as part of the community where your organization is headquartered. It also helps to demonstrate that you have empathy, and that your organization’s reasons for being extend beyond making money.

  1. Blog post announcements 

Instagram is an awesome way to start a conversation. Because Results Communications & Research regularly publishes informational blog posts, we can post whenever there is a new topic and include the link for our followers to either cut and paste in their browser (if they take it directly from our browser). Or, add a clickable link in our bio section (this is a detailed discussion for another time but you can get more info. from reading bullet #8 below!) These types of Instagram posts increase engagement with both our business and our website!

  1. Be seen as a member of your community!

This goes along with what we mentioned above about celebrating national days and holidays. Engaging with the community online is a great way to build relationships. By following others online and liking/commenting on their posts, they are likely to do the same back! 

  1. Make it personal 

Show off who works with you! By giving your followers a “behind the scenes” look at your business, you are creating the precedent for a positive work environment and friendly customer interactions. Who wouldn’t want to meet your team?

  1. Question of the day – encourages comments and customer interactions 

By asking questions via instagram posts or creating polls on instagram stories, you encourage commenting and other online interaction! The more the merrier!

  1. Create a LinkTree! 

A linktree is a great way to put multiple resources in one easy and accessible place for those who are engaging with your Instagram profile! For example, you can provide hyperlinks to multiple blog posts and pages of your website on a distinct bio page that can be accessed via your Instagram bio. Check out this example: https://linktr.ee/alpharhoplastics

  1. Before and after! 

Show how your services have helped a client. For example, you could show how your content edits helped a client’s SEO via screenshots. In other words, showcase your success stories!

  1. Use Instagram stories to call out big news or offer a promotion/discount

Instagram stories populate and disappear after 24 hours. Lots of Instagram users click through tons of Instagram stories for fun. Presenting them with an incentive, like a promotion or discount, encourages them to click on your profile and engage with your business. Check out https://www.instagram.com/onlyinbos/. They post their own stories, but also those of organizations who want to advertise to OnlyInBoston followers (this latter opportunity is something we can arrange if it interests you). Simply click on the big circle that surrounds their logo to see the stories.

  1. Track traffic to your website from your Instagram profile using your Google Analytics account (if you use Linktree, or some other product such as “Later” that allows individuals who view your profile to click on posts, in a “bio” section that include hyperlinks to appropriate pages of your website).

The team at Results Communications & Research regularly develops and implements social media strategies for clients. We can also serve as your “social media voice.” No social media question is too small, so always reach out for help!

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Spring Clean Your Online Presence To Support Sales and SEO – Part II

A JOINT BLOG POST BY GAIL SNOW MORASKI AND RYAN BRUDER

Our first blog post in this two-part series focused on capitalizing on “spring cleaning” inclinations to tune-up your website and your social media presence. The purpose of this second post is to remind readers who run any kind of online ads — whether they be Google Ads (also known as search ads/search marketing), social media ads, or banner ads purchased directly from another external website — to revisit them and give them a thorough look-over if you haven’t done so in a while.

Since SEM (search engine marketing) is one of our digital marketing agency’s specialties, the focus of this piece will be on Google Ads, but many of reminders can be applied to other forms of online advertising.

OPTIMIZING YOUR GOOGLE ADS TO IMPROVE PERFORMANCE AND MAXIMIZE BUDGET

Often clients will engage our SEO company to analyze either current or past Google Ads campaigns to see what they could or should be doing differently or better. Or, to assume management of existing Google Ads campaigns. Because we are data geeks, we love getting under the hood of a Google Ads account — whether it be a paid account used by a for-profit organization, or a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant account that provides qualifiying non-profit organizations with $120,000 in free annual Google search advertising.

Elements of campaigns and associated ad groups within a Google Ads account that we review related to the above engagements that you should too, as part of spring cleaning your Google Ads, include:

  1. KEYWORDS — what terms have you indicated to Google are ones for which you want your ads shown and are these all still appropriate? Are there keywords you should remove? Are there keywords you should add?
  2. SEARCH TERMS — related to the above keyword element, what search terms (actual phrases that ad clickers put into Google’s search engine) have your ads actually been presented to searchers for, and are they the right ones? The “search terms report,” accessed via the keywords section of a Google Ads ad group, allows you to see the exact terms for which your ads are being shown. Are the terms appropriate? Should some of these terms be made “negative” keywords, i.e., terms for which you don’t want your ads to be shown?
  3. RECOMMENDATIONS — as shown in the printscreen at the bottom of this elements list, Google makes regular recommendations — via a recommendations report — regarding steps you can take to “optimize” your campaign, and therefore, improve click-thru rate, and reduce your cost-per-click. Types of recommendations we see Google regularly make include: removing redundant keywords (keywords that are very similar in nature) from ad groups, adding certain types of ad extensions (such as structured snippets or call-outs), adding conversion-tracking, and using responsive search ads, along with standard text ads you already have in place. Not just as part of your spring cleaning, but each and every type you log into your Google Ads account to check on campaign performance, you should review the various recommendations, and apply the ones that you think make sense for your account.
  4. SETTINGS — settings are assigned at the campaign level and allow for you to target specific geographies and set daily budgets, as well as other specifics about your campaign. At a minimum, as part of your sprng review, you should revisit your daily budget and the geography to see if they are still appropriate to the products, services, or solutions you are promoting via your ads.
  5. AD CONTENT AND LANDING PAGES — if you haven’t checked your Google Ads campaigns in a while, you may even be running ads that land ad clickers on pages that promote either events that have already passed, such as a fundaising one, or products and services that are seasonal in nature and no longer apppropriate ones to be promoting due to the time of year. As you conduct your spring review, be sure that the products, services, and solutions are still the right ones for your organization to be promoting, regardless of whether you are paying for ad clicks, or getting them free via your Google Nonprofit Ad Grant. Also, revisit what makes for an effective landing page, and consider making any appropriate tweaks to current ad landing pages.
  6. COST-PER-CLICK — as part of your review, give great thought to the cost-per-click associated with each of your active vs. paused ad groups. Does the profit you’d make from an actual sale to an ad clicker warrant the cost-per-click — therefore, what is the acquisition cost (this may be include other factors beyond the ad cost-per-click) associated with obtaining a new customer and does it make good sense from a profitability standpoint?
  7. CLICKS — this is likely stating the obvious, but if your ads aren’t generating a decent volume of clicks, therefore, visits to your website, does it make sense to continue to run certain campaigns, or certain ad groups within campaigns?
Google Ads Manager Dashboard

We know that Google Ads advertising, and other forms of online advertising, can be complex and confusing. If you are concerned that your campaigns aren’t set up right to maximize clicks, conversions (ad clickers taking desired actions on your website), and your advertising budget, reach out to us for a complimentary discussion or for us to undertake online advertising spring cleaning on your behalf.

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Spring Clean Your Online Presence to Support Both Sales and SEO — Part I

A JOINT BLOG POST BY GAIL SNOW MORASKI AND RYAN BRUDER

As you do related to your personal life and home, it’s important to do a deep cleaning and decluttering of your organization’s online presence once in a while. So, why not tackle it while you’re already in spring cleaning mode? We’ve outlined, by digital marketing vehicle, various marketing elements you should revisit — and may need to address — as part of your spring tune-up!

Your Website

  • SSL Certificate – We’ve discussed this in many of our SEO blog posts, such as this oldie but goodie, but if you’re still using an http:// vs. https:// address, and therefore, don’t have a security certificate associated with your website, you are hurting yourself from both a marketing and SEO standpoint. Chrome or other browsers may remind visitors your site isn’t secure — making prospective visitors afraid to visit. Plus, Google is less likely to serve an organization’s site up high in search results for relevant terms if the organization’s site isn’t secure.
  • Social Media Icons – Be sure that you house icons on your site (normally this is done in the footer or at the top of a website page) with associated links to each of the platforms on which you have a social media presence. If you no longer maintain a social media presence on certain sites, remove the icon from your site. Driving website visitors to an inactive social media profile won’t serve you well from a marketing standpoint.
  • Broken Links – As with the SSL certificate, broken links are irritating to both website visitors and Google. Google will ding you from an SEO standpoint, and visitors will wonder about the quality of products and services they’ll receive from you, if it appears you aren’t giving attention to and taking care of your website.
  • Blog Posts – If you maintain a blog section/page on your site, haven’t blogged in a while, and don’t plan to do so in the next few months, consider hiding that section of the site. As with broken links, maintaining a blog section that you don’t keep current can make website visitors think less favorably about your organization.
  • Outdated Event/Fundraising Info. – Ditto what we said about broken links and blog posts. Having outdated community events and fundraising events on your website just speaks to negligence, and not making & taking the time to keep your site current.

Your Social Media

  • About/Bio – You should revisit the About/Bio or other section of a social media profile that provides general/overview information about your organization to make sure it’s accurate and current. We’ve often seen organizations leave old phone numbers, URLs, or physical address info. up in these About/Bio type sections of their social media profiles. And, if you don’t have a link to your website included in the About/Bio section, you should add one — on any social media platform that allows for it — as a call-to-action (CTA) to visit your website.
  • Hashtags – As part of spring cleaning the above-mentioned sections of your social media profiles, make sure they include hashtags for which you’d like your profiles to be found. It may just be a matter of putting a hashtag in front of certain words that are already in the About/Bio section of your social media profile.
  • Following – Check to see who you’ve followed in the past, and determine which individuals and organizations it still makes sense to follow, based on how your organization has evolved. Since social media platforms limit the # of organizations you can follow, you might free your organization up to follow some new and more-relevant individuals and organizations by discontinuing following irrelevant ones.
  • Branding Elements – Be sure that all your profiles are using your updated branding elements, such as an updated logo and other images.
  • Pinned Post – Check to see if any posts that you’ve “pinned” (so that they appear first when anyone views your profile) still make sense to be a pinned post. As with broken website links and outdated event info., leaving outdated pinned posts up speaks to your organization not minding its shop closely enough.
  • Story Opportunities – Make this spring the time you give some thought to whether, and how, you should be taking advantage of “story” capabilities. A feature that many social media profiles have available are “stories”, or a snapshot that is featured on a user’s social media home page/newsfeed (and your profile) that disappears after 24 hours. With this tool, you can post a picture or video that contains messaging that you deem super important, so your followers will see it up-front/highlighted all day. This is a great tool to use if you are running a promotion or have a big announcement of some sort to make, such as the roll-out of a new product line or service. What we love about this related to Instagram is that, within the stories capability, there is a feature where you can include a link to a website page. Employing this opportunity will help drive additional traffic to your site — something that standard Instagram posts can’t do since you can’t include a hyperlink to your site in them.
  • Abandoned Social Media Presences – If your organization made the decision to no longer be active on a social media platform on which you previously had a presence, remove the profile, if possible. If you can’t, add a post that indicates you are no longer posting to that particular platform, but asking profile visitors to “please join us on x,y,z social media platform(s),” and provide links to your profile on those social media platforms.

Your Google My Business/Google Maps Profile

  • Outdated Posts – Google My Business (GMB) allows you to post COVID updates, event info., offers and more. It’s a great service, but you need to make sure that you remove or change any outdated information as part of spring and ongoing cleaning efforts!
  • Capitalizing on All Categories, Such as Women in Business – GMB allows you to identify your organization as one that is woman-led, veteran-led, or Black-owned. If your organization identifies as one of these, be sure to complete this info. in the Info. section of the GMB dashboard. As you’ll see, we did this with our own GMB profile to capitalize on the fact that we are a woman-owned/woman-led business.
  • Locations – If you have more than one storefront/physical location that customers and prospective customers can visit, consider taking ownership and managing a GMB account for each of your locations to make sure you don’t miss out on any local search opportunities, therefore, prospective clients searching on “x,y,z near me.”
  • Info. From The Business – The “info. from the business” statement (that you can enter via the Info. section of the GMB dashboard) provides 750 characters to tell prospective customers what your organization is all about. If you’re not already taking advantage of this large space to promote your business, your services and products, and the solutions to problems you offer, be sure to complete this statement.

Need additional information or help related to any of the above? We are ALWAYS here to help, so please reach out.

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Why I’ve Always Walked – Part II: No Excuses

I promised blog readers and myself that I would write a follow-up post to my original “Why I’ve Always” Walked” blog post, and based on my passion for walking, additional follow-ups to Parts I and II are likely to come. But, for now, we’ll stick to Part II and its focus, “no excuses.”

Gail Snow Moraski Back From a Winter Walk in Her Puffer Jacket

Wanting to keep up with my daily walks in late 2020 and early 2021, despite anticipated dips in New England temperatures, I made sure in Mid-October-2020 that I eliminated as many deterrents to walking daily as I could in advance of November – February colder weather. There’s been a lot of social media conversation around the “best or favorite item you purchased in 2020.” And while, a few furniture purchases for my breezeway to allow for outdoor visits with friends and the family were strong contenders, for me, the award for best purchase was and is my Tommy Hilfiger Faux-Fur-Trim Hooded Maxi Puffer Coat! Thank you Tommy and thank you Macy’s! Yeah, it cost me $157.50 since I purchased it prior to late-season sales (something I normally wait for when it comes to coat purchases), but to-date, it has been worth every penny I spent on it and then some. And, there’s still a lot of South Shore of Boston winter weather ahead of me!

I specifically sought out a coat that would keep me toasty warm while walking in all kinds of Northeast winter weather — winds, rain, snow, temperatures in the teens — without causing me to sweat too much or to feel too weighed-down. This coat is light-weight, keeps me super-warm, and it’s not made of Down, and therefore, doesn’t make me feel all clammy while walking in it. And, I love the fact that I can wear a lightweight sweater vs. a really thick one under it, since the coat itself is so warm. This prevents my movements from feeling/being restricted, and I don’t feel like a walking sausage when I walk!

I also invested in these boots from Toms because the sneaker-bottom works well for me and my ongoing right hip issue, and I don’t want concerns about keeping my feet warm, or having shoes that are comfortable to walk in, to get in the way of my walking either! They’re super warm and I always love the fact that a Toms brand purchase means someone who really needs one, will get a free pair of shoes.

Be Proactive About Preventing Obstacles and Eliminating Excuses

Yeah, that was likely more than you wanted and needed to know about my walking-related purchases. As a new year gets underway, I really just wanted to remind readers that when you take an offensive, proactive approach to health & wellness goals, or to other non-health objectives, you’ll increase your chance of success. I didn’t want any excuses to get in the way of my getting the exercise and sunlight I need to keep my mind and body healthy — particularly during our pandemic when it’s so important to one’s sanity to get outside and get a change-of-scenery.

“Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity”

I’ve always liked the expression “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” My ever-green blog post “While You Wait, Educate” speaks to this same premise. Maybe I’m stretching it a bit when associating buying a warm coat and warm boots with opportunity. But, hey, when friends have reached out to walk on a cold day, I’ve been ready for that opportunity to socialize, or when I run into neighbors while out walking, I have the opportunity to catch up a bit (socially distanced, of course!) because I’m warmly and appropriately dressed and don’t have to rush back inside/home.

With the start of a new year, I’d love to hear from my readers what preparations you’re putting in place to seize opportunities or to prevent obstacles from getting in your way of achieving an important personal or professional goal. So, please do share!

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Making Infographics and Other Website Images Consumable by Search Engines

Infographics — images that are designed to condense and consolidate a bunch of complex information, and present that information in a fashion that makes it understandable by a variety of target audiences — have a variety of plusses, including, but not limited to, the following key ones:

  • they tend to get shared by others, whether it be in a social media post or on a website, so they have a lot of potential to go viral
  • they provide a vehicle for graphically/visually educating audiences on topics or concepts that may be hard to grasp when simply presented via text

The downside of infographics is when they are added to website pages without what’s known as “embedded text” or an “alt-tag,” they:

  • aren’t accessible to those with vision impairments or learning disabilities who use a screen reader to crawl a site and read the text aloud to them
  • can’t be crawled and indexed by search engines, so even though they may contain many high-volume search terms (keywords) for which you want target audiences to find your site, Google, Bing, and other search engines won’t know that the images contain those keywords or reward you from a search standpoint for using them

Spoon-feeding Google What It Needs to Index Your Infographic

Thankfully, there’s an easy solution to the infographic challenge described above. Regardless of what CMS (content management solution)/website platform your site resides on, your website solution should provide for the opportunity to enter an “alt-tag” or “image description” to describe to search engines or screen readers what an image is all about. This is an opportunity associated with all images used on your site, not just infographics.

How to Write an Effective Alt-tag for Website Images

So, what are some best practices for writing an alt-tag to accompany an image on your site? KEEP IN MIND THAT WITH ALT-TAGS YOU ARE BASICALLY DESCRIBING THE PICTURE TO GOOGLE’S AND OTHER SEARCH ENGINES’ SPIDERS/CRAWLERS WHO CAN’T SEE. Therefore, it’s important to adhere to the following:

  • Keep the tag simple, clean, and authentic, plus descriptive. Imagine describing the image to someone who has their eyes closed.
  • Don’t overstuff/use too many high-volume keywords. Google will ding you for that. Focus on one or two and only use them if you would fairly naturally use them in describing the image in-question.
  • You don’t need to include the terms “image of” or “photo of” in your alt tag – just by the fact that Google is crawling an alt tag, it knows it’s related to an image or photo.
  • Keep to 125 characters (including spaces) or less (you can use the “Word Count” function in MS Word to check for this.)
  • In general, only include the name of your business if you are writing an alt-tag to go with your Logo artwork/image. If you were describing a picture to someone based on what you are seeing, unless the name of the company were in the image/photo, you would not know what organization was associated with the photo and wouldn’t naturally mention it. Exceptions to this might be a photo where you described a staff member of your organization and the alt tag included a phrase like “Gail Snow Moraski of Results Communications & Research donates a check to…”

Alt-Tag Example

The below image which is found in my blog post “Defining Your Differentiator With Detail” employs an alt-tag “a bunch of white balloons with one red balloon standing out and rising above the white ones.”

a bunch of white balloons with one red balloon standing out and rising above the white ones.

For more help on writing alt tags, visit https://www.cincopa.com/blog/the-dos-and-donts-of-writing-image-alt-tags/

An Additional Opportunity to Increase the Positive SEO Impact of an Image

When and where appropriate, consider hyperlinking your images, so that when a visitor clicks on the image, it will take them to another page on your site. Google rewards sites from an SEO standpoint that effectively use “internal links” to support a good user experience (note that user experience is expected to be a key component of Google’s search algorithm in 2021). That said, don’t “link” just for the sake of linking. Only include links when image clicks take site visitors to appropriate content.

Help Implementing The Above and Other Organic/Technical SEO Tactics

Our team is always here to either train your team on implementing organic SEO tactics, such as those that are the subject of this post, or implement such tactics on your organization’s behalf. So, don’t hesitate to reach out. We adore a good SEO challenge!

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Clearly & Regularly Communicate Solutions and How You Address Client Pain Points to Succeed at SEO

As I am and my team at Results Communications & Research, a Greater Boston SEO Company, have observed and demonstrated, succeeding at SEO goes far beyond incorporating high-volume search terms (keywords) that are the synonyms, or the exact phrases your organization employs in your digital content, for your various products and services.

Regardless of the nature of your organization, if you want to be found on Google, i.e., rank well in organic search engine results, you need to metaphorically borrow your clients’ boots and sneakers, and walk in their shoes. Why? Because often target audience members don’t enter the common/standard term for a particular product or service that you offer into a search engine like Google, including ones that your organization uses on your website or in other digital marketing materials or activities. Instead, they search for insight on how to solve a problem — whether it be a consumer/personal problem or a business one.

Let’s say you offer nutrition services that provide a number of benefits and support a number of positive outcomes and goal achievements, including helping individuals lose weight or have more energy. Your target audiences may not search on terms like “nutritionist near me” to find you. Instead, they may be putting terms like “how to lose weight” or “how to have more energy” into a search engine, such as Google.

How to Be Viewed As Part of the Solution, Not The Problem!

As an SEO agency that has been helping clients move the SEO needle since 2014, we suggest you adhere to the following game plan to support being found in Google and other search engines for the solutions and benefits you offer:

  1. gather a cross-sectional group of individuals who interact with customers or prospective customers on a regular basis, such as customer service representatives, account managers, salespeople, and marketing staff to brainstorm and document what your customers’ pain points are:
    • what ongoing challenges do they face in their daily life or in their professional life/business role that purchasing your product or engaging you for your service can help address or eliminate, or reduce the impact of?
    • what problems or solutions to problems are current or prospective clients searching on, e.g., how to improve project tracking, how to maximize my marketing budget, how to keep ice dams from forming on my roof, help for anxiety, best way to create a cohesive team. You get the picture. If you can’t gather a team — even via a video chat or conference call, consider creating an online survey to gather team members’ feedback — something we can help you with. Regardless of how you gather the info., you may want to share our “Defining Your Differentiator with Detail” blog post with individuals from whom you welcome insights. It may spark some great ideas about your target audience’s pain points and how you lessen and erase your clients’ discomforts.
  2. using the list resulting from the above brainstorm activity, use a keyword planner tool or engage an SEO expert to conduct keyword research for you, to:
    • determine which of the phrases/search terms you and your team identified are being entered most in search engines by your target audiences
    • identify high-volume (frequently used) phrases/search terms that are similar to the ones your team identified, but different from them, and therefore, additions to your list
  3. begin employing the terms that your keyword research reveals are the most frequently used ones (as long as you believe they are relevant to both the solutions to problems you offer and clients are searching on) in:
    • social media posts, profiles and hashtags
    • website content and behind-the-scene tags, known as meta tags
    • other digital and traditional marketing materials and activities to support your sales proposition and reinforce value

Need help executing the SEO game plan outlined above? We’re here to help with any of your SEO challenges, so please reach out!

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SEM and SEO: Understanding the Difference and When to Employ Each Digital Marketing Tactic

As the owner of a digital marketing agency whose primary focus is to serve as an SEO company (a firm that helps organizations be found on Google and rank as high as possible in search engine results listings for desirable terms in appropriate geographies), I have a great passion for helping both for-profits and non-profits determine when they need to employ SEO tactics, when they need to employ SEM tactics, and when they need to employ both.

What is SEO?

So what is SEO? SEO is the acronym for “search engine optimization.” In general, when someone employs the term SEO, they are referring to non-paid-advertising tactics that are executed to support a listing with a link to an organization’s website appearing on the first two pages of Google or other search engine results for search terms that are relevant to the products, services, and solutions to problems that their organization offers. Sometimes, SEO will be modified by the terms “organic” or “technical” to indicate a large variety and number of tactics that can be implemented to support an organization ranking well “organically” in search engine results. These include, but are not limited to:

  • incorporation of high-volume search terms, known as keywords, in website content and behind-the-scenes website tags, known as meta tags
  • establishment of a Google My Business profile to support ranking well in “local search”
  • saving image/photos with file names relevant to an organization’s products, services and solutions that Google or other search engines can crawl/index

While SEO does not involve paying for advertising, there are manpower costs related to implementing one-time and ongoing organic/technical tactics, and depending on your organization’s staffing level and digital marketing expertise, you may need to hire an SEO agency, such as Results Communications & Research.

What is SEM?

SEM is the acronym for “search engine marketing” and refers to ads such as the one below that appear in the top or bottom four spots on a search engine results listing page, in Google Shopping Ads, or on other Google properties or marketing opportunities. Sometimes, you’ll hear the following terms used in lieu of SEM:

  • paid search
  • paid SEO
  • online advertising
  • search advertising
  • Google Ads or Google Search Ads (this is advertising bought related to ranking well specifically in Google’s search engine for relevant terms; you can also purchase such ads from Bing and Yahoo)
  • search text ads
  • text ads
  • PPC (pay-per-click) advertising

Organizations often employ search ads/paid search when:

  • They are in a very competitive environment, i.e., other organizations are running paid ads – causing up to four ads to appear in search engine results for desirable terms before organic search/unpaid results listings
  • They’ve only recently implemented tactics on their entire website or on a specific page of their site to rank well organically for relevant terms, and can’t wait for such tactics to impact ranking results
  • Their website or specific site pages aren’t optimized to rank well in search engine results
  • Competitor sites or other pages of an organization’s own website rank above the site page that an organization wishes to rank well for certain terms

Are There Times When It Doesn’t Make Sense to Invest in SEO or SEM?

In general, implementing technical/organic SEO tactics is a best practice. That said, the only way to know if an organization’s target audiences are actively searching to identify someone offering the services, products, and solutions that the organization offers is to conduct keyword research.

If keyword research reveals that, at least for the time-being, individuals are NOT conducting searches, relevant to an organization, then less time and money should be spent in optimizing a website to rank well organically in search results. And, it wouldn’t make any sense to invest in paid search advertising/SEM since there wouldn’t be many appropriate searchers to whom to serve up ads. In the aforementioned case, you’ll want to employ marketing tactics, such as Google Display advertising or social media advertising where you put the idea in target audiences’ heads vs. waiting for them to search for someone like you. We discussed this aforementioned strategy of creating awareness of the benefits and features of a particular product, service, or solution, known as push marketing, in our blog post “Why Keyword Research Informs So Much More Than SEO.”

As Greater Boston SEO experts, we are always here to help you identify whether SEO, SEM, or both, are the right marketing tactics for your particular organization. We assist clients in making these decisions regularly, so that they maximize marketing budgets, as well as internal marketing team’s time. And, while we never guarantee results since there are so many variables at play, we’ve helped clients, throughout the U.S., who’ve engaged our SEO agency for SEO services, appear in the top two pages of Google Search results for certain terms — when they previously hadn’t — or move from page 1 to page 2 through both SEO and SEM tactics. So, please reach out for a complimentary discussion if you need help capitalizing on SEO and SEM opportunities.

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A Life Constant: Why I’ve Always Walked

Walking has always played a huge role in my life. During my early childhood years, when I lived in a very rural area, my five siblings and I walked everywhere — a long, uphill trek to a small candy store, in the many wooded areas of the very country-ish-at-the-time town of Burlington, Connecticut, and around and near two different ponds for swimming to which we had access.

Moving with my family at age 9 to a less rural part of Connecticut (Bristol) didn’t put a damper on my interest in and ability to walk great distances. Just the opposite. My twin, Audrey, and I had sizable walks to school, particularly related to our junior high school, which was a forty-minute walk from our home. As part of that long daily walk, we’d stop by the houses of friends along the way, so that they could join us on the “walking bus” to school. And on the way home from junior high and even elementary school, we’d take routes home that made the trip longer, but that afforded us the opportunity to purchase favorite snacks. In addition, I regularly walked to Bristol’s downtown area to shop, take advantage of the city’s great library, and accomplish other errands.

As you would expect, during college days at UCONN, I continued to walk a great deal. UCONN has a very large campus, so often class location required walking long distances, but UCONN also has a beautiful pond area for walking, known as Mirror Lake — an area to which I was often pulled. I attended the Universite of Rouen in France my senior year and logged a crazy large number of shoe- and sneaker-leather miles abroad, partly due to the fact that the home of the family with which I lived was a significant distance from the Universite, and partly due to the fact that I had the opportunity to spend blocks of time in Paris and other beautiful parts of Europe. Walking is such a great way to get to know a new city or area.

Fast forward to my first apartment post-graduation in Quincy MA (where I didn’t own a car) and to my 15 years of living in Brookline MA (where most of the time I didn’t own a car). I ran many of my errands on foot, but also regularly enjoyed non-errand-related amblings all over Quincy, Brookline and Boston. I often walked numerous stops past the closest MBTA (subway) stop to my employer/job or my home, just to get my mileage and my time in nature to clear my head in.

When I was a child and in my early 20’s, reasons for walking probably tipped more to it being the means to end — a way to get to where I needed and/or to run an errand. As I got older, walking began to take on a different role in my life for the following opportunities it afforded:

2019 Jimmy Fund Walk With Lifetime Friends

Particularly during our pandemic, many of my days have been “two-walk” days, and there’s even been some “three-walk” ones — either because of the need to emotionally manage daily work and personal demands and/or the tough news we’re constantly bombarded with. Or, to have the chance to visit and spend time with friends and family. Of course, walking looks a little bit different these days because of needs to social distance and wear masks.

Since our dating days, my husband, Jay, and I have always enjoyed nature and vacation walks together, but up until recently, I’ve been the primary “neighborhood” walker in the family, but now’s he’s joining me, or walking by himself, having recognized some of the benefits of walking that I’ve shared above.

This only scrapes the surface of why I am and have always been so passionate about walking. I’d love to hear why you walk, so please do share!

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Five Promotional Products for Challenging Times

The promotional product world looks very different now than it did in early March. It’s not all gloom and doom, but the way we interact with each other and stay in touch with our prospects and clients has certainly changed. Despite challenging times, you still need to promote your products and services, get in front of your target audience and generate new business.

So, what’s trending lately in the promo world to help companies stay top of mind? Let’s look at some new ideas and all-time favorites.  

Pens

Pens have been my all-time favorite product because they appeal to almost every audience. With the focus on everything being fresh, clean, and sanitized, a new pen is a coveted item. Antimicrobial pens are popular because they help fight off germs – plus, many come individually wrapped in cellophane to avoid any contamination.

Golf

Personalized golf balls are a crowd pleaser and they’re a cinch to customize. Just add your charity or business’ logo, message or photo, and voilà, you’ve got a unique and memorable giveaway. Some may even become collector’s items! Since golf is one of the few team sports that’s ‘open for business,’ many golf events are still on. Yet another reason customized golf ball remains a top choice!

Water Bottles

If you’re like me, you probably want to drink more water, but always forget to pack your water bottle.  Problem solved! Give your prospects and clients branded water bottles that they can’t forget! Water bottles are a health-focused promo gift that your target market can use every day – and the benefit is that your name is always front and center. Want a few ideas? Check out my client’s favorite water bottles.

Mugs

Do you start the day with a cup of joe or look forward to an afternoon tea? If that’s a yes, you know it’s not just part of your daily routine, it’s a time you really love. Chances are you have a handful of favorite mugs; some you’ve owned for years. Branded mugs make a reasonably priced and useful giveaway, and they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. Add mugs to your marketing budget for a promotional item that lasts year after year.

Hand Sanitizer

With everyone going back into the workplace, hand sanitizers are a necessity.  If you thought customized hand sanitizers were a popular handout before COVID-19, they’re now one of my best sellers. Hand washing is serious business, so much in fact that the CDC has an entire section on keeping your hands clean. There’s even a “Life is Better with Clean Hands Campaign”. Piggyback on that for great PR and to do your part to keep America safe.

Why Promotional Products Now?

Business is coming back and the same problems you solved before the pandemic, you’re still solving now. Don’t stop marketing. Let your clients and prospects know you’re well and alive and open for business. Promotional products that are reasonably priced and customized for your business, let the world know – “I’m here. How can I help you?”

Rachel Leone is president of Leone Marketing Solutions, a women-owned promotional product and apparel firm. She helps big brands and small brands stand out, get noticed, and generate leads through her promotional products and services. Thousands of new products are launched every day, and one of them may be just right for you, click here to browse her website. For more information or a complimentary brainstorming session contact her at 781.740.3171 or rachel@leonemarketing.com.

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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.