SEO Precautions to Protect Your Site

Hacker with laptopRecently hacking has been on the rise with more reports of hacked and spam content appearing in Google search engine results pages. There has even been a revival of older tactics such as bait-and-switch content hacks where users gain access to someone else’s site and begin publishing pages on topics that are not normally covered on the site. Google has said that this increase in spam content is not related to its recent algorithm updates but whatever the cause more and more sites are receiving malware warnings and experiencing hacked content. In order to prevent malware or hacked content it is necessary to monitor your site security, search visibility, SEO and overall site health. It is important to take preventative measures to stop hackers that are using bait-and-switch tactics to increase their search rank through your site.

Stay Updated and Secure

It is a good idea to keep an eye on your website every day from the standpoint of health, SEO and usability. You might even want to hire someone like a dedicated in-house employee or an agency to monitor your site for hacked content. It can also be helpful to run a daily security scan so that you are aware of any problems immediately before they get worse. You should also make sure to add your site to both the Google Search Console and the Bing Webmaster Tools. Both of these platforms provide site health diagnostics that will help you easily monitor what is happening on your site and help you resolve site recovery issues quickly. You should always make sure your software is up to date as well as many hacking issues are a result of outdated software. Always ensure that your platform, plug-ins and add-ons are all updated on a frequent basis.

Another precaution to take to prevent your content from being hacked is using the right kind of passwords. You need strong, unique and long passwords that will prevent a hacker from being able to guess your login. All passwords should have a combination of letters, numbers and symbols so that they are more difficult to guess. Other crucial issues are having a good quality hosting provider that offers good security benefits and support. A lower quality hosting provider may not be able to prevent hacking or help you when things start to go wrong on your site. It is also necessary to have site back up in the event that there is a breach and secure firewalls that are regularly updated. If you do not have site back up then you risk losing all your data. Ensuring that all your data is backed up and stored elsewhere means that you can revert back to previous site versions.

With the increase in hackers boosting their own sites while wrecking someone’s SEO content, it is more important than ever to make sure your site is secure in as many ways as possible. The more you invest time and effort into having a secure site the less you will have to worry about hacked content.

Marketing Myths to Avoid

E-mail marketing blue puzzle piecesAn online presence is the first step to taking advantage of internet business opportunities and a solid digital marketing plan can help create your presence. There are plenty of marketing ideas and strategies floating around that might sound promising but are actually not going to help you build an influence online. Myths about where to focus your marketing plan and how to expand your customer base may be misleading and prevent you from developing a well-rounded strategy that is truly effective. Here are some misconceptions about marketing online that are best to avoid.

Social Media is the Most Important Form of Marketing

While social media can provide a big boost to marketing, it should be included as part of a larger plan and not be the sole focus of your efforts online. Though social media is a way to organically reach a wide and engaged audience, most of the major social media platforms are now publically traded companies that have to generate profits for their shareholders. This means that most businesses must reach their audience mostly through paid advertising as the organic reach decreases. In many cases, email marketing can be an easier way to reach people that are a part of your community and close the sale in a way that isn’t possible on social media.

Add Everyone Online to Your Email List

Some people might believe in the strategy of adding anyone you’ve interacted with in some way online to your email list. This is not the best strategy because it does not create a list of people who are genuinely interested and can actually end up chasing away business. Those on your email list should be people who chose to sign up because customers will buy from companies they know, like and trust.

Try to Reach People Who Aren’t Interested

Businesses may now try to apply the idea of cold calling to their internet marketing strategy, sending out emails or posting about their services on Facebook groups. They may think that trying harder to reach people who haven’t expressed interest will somehow be profitable. The reality is that people need to get to know you and your services before they feel comfortable spending money. You should try to grow your audience in ways that show people why they should do business with you. Building an engaged audience and then developing a positive reputation will bring you more business in the long run.

Taking Advantage of Third Party Apps for Marketing

App Store Icon On Apple Deivice ScreenMuch of the recent growth in mobile media can be attributed to third party apps which have increased in usage by 90 percent since 2013. Since the majority of mobile media time is spent using third party apps businesses are now looking for a way to get involved in these apps to expand their reach. However, it may not be feasible for a small business to build their own solo app and expect much usage by their customers. The average smartphone user only visits about 25 apps each month and 96-99 percent of their time is spent on their top ten apps. Although businesses based on frequent habitual use like coffee shops or fitness centers can see a lot of usage for their apps, for most small businesses a solo app is not a good investment. The best option is to try to get exposure and focus marketing strategies on the most popular apps if you are a local business looking to grow.

Apps with the Highest Usage

Although Google Search is not the most used app as far as unique visitors, it is the dominant one used for search information. Other related apps like Google Maps and Google+ also rank high on the list so it is very important to claim your business on Google My Business and keep your business profile up-to-date. Facebook is by far the most popular third party app, with the majority of users spending more time on this app than any other on their phone. It is crucial then to engage with customers through Facebook by regularly posting photos, communicating offers and discounts or talking about upcoming events. Customers will see this information in their newsfeed via the Facebook app and stay connected to you. Messaging apps like the one used on Facebook or an app like Snapchat can also be a good way to speak directly with customers or advertise. Directory apps can also be useful to allow new customers to find you by searching on apps like YP, Yelp or Yellowbook. Listing your business in one of these directories makes it possible for customers to see your location and in some cases order something on-the-go. You need to make sure that your link is accommodating to these directory apps to take advantage of their potential.

Although mobile web is still the primary platform local businesses need to adapt to, app marketing strategy is also important based on the amount of time that users spend using these third party apps. Instead of creating an individual app, leveraging space on the most popular apps can be an easier way to help you gain exposure to new and existing customers.

 

5 Ways to Optimize for Both Customers and Search Engines

Customer Client Consumer Satisfaction Service Loyalty ConceptOne of the essential foundations for an internet marketing web presence is a company website with a solid investment in SEO. One question that often comes up when planning an SEO strategy is where to focus your optimization – on customers or search engines? In the past there may have been a trade-off in making this choice. However, now with more sophisticated algorithms modern search engines can understand and measure the kinds of factors that are involved in a great web experience for customers. In 2016 it is possible to optimize your website for both customers and search engines.

1) A Mobile-Friendly Website

Mobile searches have grown exponentially over the past few years and this year mobile use of Google search surpassed desktop searches. Mobile responsive websites are not just a bonus for customers; they are an essential part of their experience with your business. A website that doesn’t work well can alienate more than half of your potential customers. It can also affect your visibility and traffic from search engines since results from poorly working mobile websites will often not be shown.

2) Resolving Technical Issues

A website needs to be technically sound to avoid turning away customers or jeopardizing your SEO strategies. Issues like slow load times, broken links, confusing navigation, apps with glitches, server outages or outdated technology can cause a bad experience for customers who may abandon the site out of frustration. These kinds of issues can also seriously hurt your SEO efforts by sending negative quality signals that hurt your search rank. Technical issues can also cause search bots to incorrectly index important content or completely miss it.

3) Serving Prospects

The amount of information available to customers through the internet has greatly impacted the sales process. Potential buyers are researching your product and comparing with competitors so you need to make sure you serve prospects by giving them the best answers they search for. Performing keyword research to identify relevant topics and pain points, creating content that addresses customer needs and optimizing your website so that content is easily found and consumed can all help to better serve your prospects.

4) Customer Resources

Once you have gained new customers through SEO tactics, you need to have ongoing customer service and support available to them on your website to keep them coming back. Using SEO can make customer service tools easier to find such as FAQs, instructions, or product tips and tricks. A bigger customer resource section on your website will help save money in the long run because it can take the place of paid customer service reps.

5) Optimize Across the Sales Cycle

Since people don’t usually buy something the first time they encounter a brand it is important to provide content that will nurture prospects into customers. Providing entertaining blog posts, videos, or infographics as well as longer content like white papers helps you optimize across the sales cycle. Giving customers the information that they are looking for rather than trying to manipulate search engines can ultimately help to optimize your website for both customers and search engines.

 

Integrating Instagram Ads into Social Media Marketing

KIEV UKRAINE - APRIL 30 2015: Hand holds Instagram logoIn terms of social media networks, Instagram is one of the fastest-growing and widely used platforms around the world. It has experienced a meteoric rise since its $1 billion purchase by Facebook three years ago and the network now has 400 million active users making it a high ranking industry giant. Instagram can help maximize your impact with social media marketing and increase your search rank along with high quality content. With a new ad format that was recently introduced to advertisers, Instagram now offers us the chance to more frequently integrate the platform into a social media strategy. With a relatively young audience of 53 percent under the age of 29 it represents a premier opportunity for brands to expand their reach to millennials. Currently 32.5 percent of U.S. companies now use Instagram for marketing purposes and that number is expected to reach over 70 percent by 2017, eventually passing Twitter.

Increasing Your Presence

For companies already using Instagram as a marketing tool, they may know how to use the platform as a kind of digital photo album to increase brand awareness through images and hashtags. High quality images that look natural and less like an advertisement usually get the best response especially for more visual brands. Hashtags can also increase engagement with the photos, allowing you the chance to utilize popular and trending hashtags which can increase your search rank. While this approach is valuable, using the new ad format can add much more to a marketing strategy and help expand awareness of your company. There are now three types of Instagram ads available to marketers- image ads, video ads and carousel ads. These types of ads are closely related to their Facebook counterparts being that the platform is now owned by Facebook.

Using the Ad Format

Image ads are similar to Facebook link ads but have a heavier emphasis on the visual. These provide the ability to add a call-to-action button to an ad to help drive web visits and while still raising brand awareness. Carousel ads allow you to add multiple images within the same ad to showcase more pictures and calls to action with a single targeting option. With video ads you can add up to 30 seconds of moving images; however call-to-action buttons are not yet available for that type of ad. With the new ad format Instagram can be seamlessly integrated with Facebook so that marketers can take advantage of numerous advanced targeting methods. Integrating both platforms with the new Power editor can ensure that you can reach your target audience through a variety of channels. Utilizing Instagram and especially the new ad capabilities can be a huge boost to your social media marketing strategy. If you are looking to enhance your presence and spread awareness of your brand these new ads could be the right choice.

How to Determine Your SEO Content Needs

Website Seo And Analytics IconsIn today’s market, everyone knows that high quality content is more important than keyword density and we need to utilize content marketing on all websites to be successful. However, simply creating content without a clear strategy may not be as effective. You must first figure out the type of content that you need to reach your audience and define what works best. Identifying your target audience as well as their needs, interests and surfing habits can help begin the process of creating the right content. There are certain methods that can be helpful in defining your SEO content needs so that you are not spending too much time producing inefficient content.

Checking Out Search Results

If you have an idea for the type of content you want to produce you can first look into the popularity of that content, whether people are interested and how they are searching for that content. This can be done by simply taking a look at search results based on certain titles, keyword phrases and related topics so you know specifically what people are looking for and what type of content already exists. Searching for certain keywords can provide insight into whether people are looking for product and solution pages or more information-based content. When creating a content strategy, you must analyze search results so that you know whether your content idea is something buyers will like and can perform well in a search.

Analyzing Existing Content

To better understand what type of content you need you must also try to determine what information is necessary for customers to make a purchase. You can use analytics to evaluate what content is currently working or not working and how customers are interacting with the site. Using Google Analytics you can set up conversion paths and learn how visitors are moving through a site. Finding out what pages cause users to exit or which ones are performing well can help you evaluate what customers respond to the most. Looking into bounce rate and investigating the reasons why people navigate away from certain pages can help us understand what we need to give them in terms of content.

Understanding Customer Needs

Since creating successful content revolves around what customers are looking for, one of the most effective ways to define your SEO content needs is to find out directly from customers. Using customer surveys and emails to get immediate feedback on what is working with a website can help you improve your content. Live Chat can also be a useful tool to see what sorts of questions users are asking or what kind of content they are looking for. All these methods can contribute to a better understanding of what users want so that you can create the kind of content that people are searching for.

Top 5 SEO Trends for 2016 That You Should Know About

2016-seo-trendsThe beginning of a new year is always filled with excitement and also apprehension. Luckily, SEO trends for 2016 aren’t completely “new” and shouldn’t take you by surprise. Here are 5 important ones to focus on:

1) Focus on Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

We have talked a lot about optimizing conversion rates and we’ll say it again – CRO will be even more important in the years to come. The trick about this trend is that there are many different types of conversions and ways to track and optimize.

2) Search Query Trends Affected by “Digital Assistants”

Who, what, how, when, where, and why. These question-type queries will increase with the increasing use of digital assistance such as Siri (Apple), Cortana (Windows) and Google Now. Instead of focusing on singular keyword or keyword phrases, the trend has been going towards long-tail queries that are similar to natural speech when asking a question. This is perfect for meeting Google Hummingbird and RankBrain standards.

3 & 4) Domination of Google Knowledge Graph… and Google in General

If you haven’t noticed, Google has been making a great effort to keep searchers on the actual search results page without leaving or clicking through. Google Knowledge Graph (top or top right box in SERPs) is very prominent and useful. It has even been attributed to a drop in website traffic. A lot of people think this is unfair because Google pulls the information in the Knowledge Graph from other websites, in an effort to reduce the need for users to actually go to those websites.

As if Google’s Knowledge Graph isn’t enough competition, 2016 will be the year of even more of Google’s presence in search results. Whether it takes the form of the carousel, paid ads, or local packs, it only makes sense that Google will dominate Google search results.

5)Social Media Indexed in Search Engines

Google has been crawling and indexing social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn for some time now. The biggest change this year occurred in November, when Google announced that Facebook would begin to allow more of their pages to be indexed, even in-app content. Google has a similar deal with Twitter to crawl and index Tweets. The result? An even stronger relationship between social media and SEO.

If you have questions or need help with your marketing efforts in 2016, don’t hesitate to call Emarketed at (323) 340-4010 for a FREE consultation.

How to Get More Mileage Out of Your Social Media Posts and Website Assets

content-social-mileage With social media marketing, it’s usually a “one and done” type of deal. A post is posted, shared, or Tweeted, never to be repeated again. At least, that used to be the idea of how things were to be done. Nowadays, there are ways to extend the life of your website assets and even share them multiple times on social media. Here are a few ways you can get more mileage from your website assets through social media marketing:

Take Advantage of Trends Like #TBT and #FBF

Throwback Thursdays and Flashback Fridays are very popular social media trends and the good thing is that you can participate every week! Whether it’s re-sharing an old post, or re-posting a nostalgic Instagram post, these are all acceptable ways of keeping your old content and social media posts alive. As we near the end of 2015, sites like Facebook are keen to remind us of past events. Don’t be afraid to incorporate these trends into your social media campaigns.

Keep Adding to Evergreen Pages and Let People Know About It

The purpose of evergreen content is that they stand the test of time. This wouldn’t be possible if you weren’t constantly adding new content, information, and features. Even though the content exists on the same web page and URL, feel free to re-share it on social media once you get a new features such as: video, Q&A, infographics, reviews, and more.

Create a Multi-Part Series and Post the Old Ones to Refresh Peoples’ Memory

Do you have a particular popular blog post that you’re proud of? Feel free to follow-up on that subject to make a part 2,3 or A,B. This also creates linking opportunities for SEO.

If you have an engaging Facebook post with a lot of engagement, you can easily take a screenshot of that and re-ask or ask additional questions. Even if you want to just focus on one particular comment, you can take a screenshot or create a new image from that UGC (user-generated content) to give that topic new life.

Tie Your Existing Content to Current News and Trends

There are many ways that your products/services can relate to current events. For example, if a skateboard manufacturer can tie their posts into recent news of hoverboards catching on fire… specifically to show people that their skateboards don’t spontaneously combust. Be creative!

Repurposing content and social media posts/ideas doesn’t have to be repetitive or trite. The key is to not overdo it and reuse at appropriate times! Check us out on Twitter and Facebook for more information and ideas.

How NOT To Drive Yourself Crazy When Researching Competitors

competitor-spy Competitive research is an essential part of SEO analysis but scrutinizing every detail of a competitor’s website can leave you feeling burned out, paranoid, and even take away from reaching your business goals.

Here are some things to keep in mind so that you don’t lose sight of what is really important – doing what is right for your business.

Which Tool to Use?

There are SO many tools to use for competitive SEO research and analysis of your own website:

– Moz

– Ahrefs

– Screaming Frog

– SEM Rush

– Spy Fu

– SEO Book

– Raven Tools

– Bright Local

Many of these tools have “freemium” versions, where there are a limited amount of uses for free. This gives you a chance to try out which tools are useful for your analysis. Some tools may be too expensive or give too much or too little information.

All the Tools… It Will Be Fun, They Said!

While trying out new free tools is great to give a general overview of competitors, here is where the ‘potential-to-go-crazy’ part begins. Keep in mind that some tools (like SEM Rush) may inflate a competitor’s progress to the point where it looks better than it actually is. The reason is that these tools often use factors (like keywords) that aren’t completely accurate to the business or even industry. Traffic, clicks, and PPC spend may also be estimated and not accurately reflect reality.

Comparing With Your Own Site

Seeing competitors excel or get good “grades” in these tools can be especially frustrating but you also have to do the leg work to see how your own site performs according to these factors. If they are off from your own reports and analytics, it’s a good idea to use multiple tools to cross check a site’s progress – rather to solely rely on one tool.

SEO analysis tools are a good way to stay up-to-date with your website’s health but don’t forget to measure the things that really matter – conversions. Rankings and traffic can fluctuate month to month and year to year but historical data on calls, contacts, and purchases are the best way to go. And this is something that pretty much no online tool can match up to – calculating your business’ actual ROI! Keep organized (internally, within your business) and that is the sure way to measure your business’ success. Keep track of your bottom line and along the way, use as many SEO tools as you would like but don’t let the minutiae cloud your judgement.

Connect with Customers on Your Website Via Facebook Messages

facebook-messenger Facebook Messenger makes it easy to keep in touch with your friends and loved ones. It’s so convenient that it’s no wonder that some people prefer it over traditional emails or texting. Being connected on Messenger is reminiscent of the good old days on AOL Instant Messenger, when you could instantly reach/chat with a friend if they are online. The same idea is applied here, as Facebook has introduced a feature, a Facebook Page plugin for messages and events on your site.

Improving Customer Service and Satisfying Instant Gratification

Integrating Messages into your Page or website simplifies the communication cycle and makes it more fluid. If you have dedicated staff to monitor these Messages, it makes things easier for the business, as well as customer who is looking for a quick way to solve their problem. Even though it serves the same idea as an email or any other message communication, the “chat” function on a website is very helpful and sought after as it satisfies the customer’s need for instant gratification. The idea of talking to a real person is much more appealing than getting an automated email or response if you communicate in any other manner. And with the new plugin, it makes it even more convenient as visitors won’t even have to leave your Page or website.

For small businesses, this function is a great solution to improving customer service in 2016. Remember, if customers have a question or a problem, they will want to hear back from your business as soon as possible. Cutting down on the response wait time can only help. Read more here: https://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/2015/12/02/page-plugin-enhancements/ and let us know what you think or head on over to Facebook for further discussion.