How to be Smart about Your SEM Efforts

business-plan A failure to plan is a plan to fail. As a business owner, monitoring your marketing plan is just as important as your taking initiative on your actual business plan. There are mistakes that owners new to online marketing make – don’t fall victim to these mentalities:

1) Don’t throw everything at the wall just to see what sticks

Whether you are throwing money, time, and/or resources at internet marketing, it’s crucial to have a step by step plan and measure the progress along the way. If you are first starting out, it may seem like a good idea, or even necessary to do it all: SEO, PPC, local, social, email, video, and more. With this approach, it is also hard to track which tactics work and which don’t. Instead of going full speed on all aspects of online marketing, focus and do research to see which medium would be best for your business.

2) Do not obsessively compare your business to competitors

Competitive research is a necessary step when starting out and part of a regular routine. It gives a good idea of effective strategies for your business model. Just because something seems to be working out for a competitor (or at least, if that’s what you hear or they tell you), remember that it is not the whole story. So the next time you hear that a competitor is benefiting from something, whether it is: paid links, broad terms for PPC, billboard, radio, or TV ads, think again.

On the business side of things, duplicating a competitor certainly won’t give you the same success. It’s about differentiating your business in what you do best – and it may even be something a competitor is missing out on, like good customer service and word of mouth referrals.

3) Instead of just talking about your goals, write it down and revisit often

It’s easy to get carried away and go off on tangents when brainstorming about your website and business. Make sure to take notes of what you want to achieve and what you see is going well or not so well. By putting your goals down on paper, you are more likely to follow through. Make it your mantra! Once the notes are laid out, you can develop a strategy and build a road map that will help you reach those goals. It may take some time and be frustrating but it is important to have a central place for all your goals and progress. Reasonable time frames will also help motivate your team to meet goals. Goals and thoughts won’t get put into action if they just sit there!

Improve Mobile Conversion with These 5 Tips

Daily time spent on a mobile device is at an all time high. Today, people spend about 3 hours on their mobile device. Five years ago, the average time spent was less than 1 hour a day! The results from this study are clear – if your website isn’t responsive or properly optimized for mobile devices, your business is missing out. Take a look at how you can improve mobile conversions with these 5 tips:

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1) Put contact forms and other important fields well above the fold

The obstacle with optimizing for mobile devices is the fact that users have to scroll so much to see what they want to see. So it is intuitive that a contact form on your mobile site fits above the fold, before users have to scroll down to input more information. Name, phone number and/or email address are the standard fields to include. Forget about address, where did you hear about us from, favorite color, first pet’s name, etc.!

2) Improve the checkout process

shopping-cart-conversion Nowadays, customers want to buy with ease. Instant gratification is at their finger tips, so make the buying process as easy as possible. Less clicks, shorter contact forms with less fields are a bonus because the font is bigger and allows more space for typing (or big fingers). Bonus tip: Don’t forget to have the proper SSL certificates installed.

3) Use local info and content

Ranking well in search results for a mobile device is more competitive than regular desktop results. Results on a phone are based on user location and many times, ranking in Google Local is the only way to get visibility. As you know, the map listings are more prominent and take up more space in results. As well as being in the actual city, optimizing your business NAP, having regional content is also a must have. Take a look at more best practices here.

4) Create and promote a sense of urgency

Want your customers to call immediately, book a reservation, or simply checkout? Having a call to action button that is visible and prominent is the key to promoting mobile conversions. On top of that, you can also promote deals or discounts for customers who act immediately: 10% off if you buy within the next 15 minutes, Happy Hour until 6pm, etc.

5) Check and improve site speed

Last but not least, continuously work on improving your mobile site speed. A bad connection or clunky code could cause a contact form not to load properly or not at all. As much time as users are spending browsing from a phone, they don’t have time for a slow site to load.

Will Windows 10 Affect Search and SEO?

windows-10 Unlike Microsoft’s previous fails (ME & Vista), their latest and final version, 10, is now available. It has been announced that this will be the final version of Windows because going forward, new and frequent releases will only occur on this version. Take a look as Forbes compares Windows 7, 8, & finally 10.

Cortana and Search Queries

Cortana is Microsoft’s personal assistant software and Siri’s counterpart. As more searchers use Cortana, the way they search will be different than traditional short queries or keywords. Much like how people use Siri, searching will now consist of longer, more natural language instead of just simple keywords. On a traditional desktop, a user might search “cheap cell phone repair”. Using Windows 10, a user might ask, “Cortana, what’s the cheapest cell phone repair store near me?”.

If you have been adapting content after the Hummingbird Update, you are on the right track. Optimization now includes much more emphasis on questions and related topics and explanation – rather than the keyword itself. This only further marks SEO’s movement away from generic and static keyword choices for optimization. Using this strategy in your content will only help your website across all platforms and deices in the years to come. Additionally, Bing Ads anticipates an increase of 10-15% more search volume by September 2015.

Windows 10 – Fully Responsive OS

Other cool feature of Windows 10 is that it is the first fully responsive operating system – this means across browsers, screen sizes, and applications. Which is all the more reason to go responsive with your website design. As devices and screen sizes grow and broaden, Microsoft Windows 10 will adapt.

If you have any comments or questions about Windows 10 and search, feel free to drop us a line on our Facebook page.

Why Are Competitors Outranking My Website?

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It can be frustrating to see competitor sites outrank your own, especially when there is no obvious reason that they should be ranking better. Unfortunately, it’s misleading and inaccurate to determine which site is “better” by just looking at it from an average user’s point of view. Take a look at some reasons why competitors might be outranking your site.

Website History

It might be surprising to know that a website’s age has a lot to do with its ability to rank. Generally, the older a website is, the more likely it is to have better link juice and website credibility when compared to a brand new website. But this makes sense – a website that is over a decade old has had more marketing efforts than one that was just created last month, no matter how much buzz you try to create.

On the other hand, there are some instances where new sites get an initial boost in search results until they settle down to their “rightful” place. The good news is that growing your website overtime will help you reap the SEO benefits of age.

Competitive Nature of the Industry

If your business specializes in something very innovative in a niche industry, chances that you are able to rank well no matter where the user is searching from. This is solely based on competitors. If you have no viable competitors, you’ll be able to dominate search engine result pages. This means that your website ranks nationally, across the United States, even if no geo indicators are included in the search query.

On the other hand, if your business is very generic, you’ll need to optimize for your specific location in order to rank well. Even ranking for “best burger place in Los Angeles” is tough. Which is why it’s helpful to target the specific neighborhoods: Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Downtown LA, West LA, Echo Park, Silverlake, Mid-City, Beverly Hills, etc.

Unoptimized Sites and CTR

Sometimes, you may see a very old (see first point!) and unoptimized website. It may have very little content and a minimal design, yet it still ranks well. What gives?! Combined with other factors (backlinks, authority, citations, etc.) this website may be ranking well for very broad and generic terms. The simple content, title tags, and optimization may prompt users to click-through often. As CTR is a ranking factor, you have to consider the user experience. Just because people are clicking through doesn’t mean that they are staying long enough to make a conversion. There is more than meets the eye when it comes to ranking and conversions.

Need a Free Site Analysis?

If you have questions or problems with ranking in comparison to competitors, feel free to fill out our Site Analysis form located at: http://www.emarketed.com/site-analysis. We’ll give you in-depth information that will help improve your website performance.

How to Evaluate Your SEO Campaign

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Because of the nature of organic SEO, it may take weeks or even months to see a difference in search engine rankings. The progress may be hard to see and results difficult to track. If you currently have a plan for search engine optimization, it’s a good time to stop and ask yourself how effective it is and how that progress is being tracked.

Organic Rankings

Whether you use a program, service, or manual web searches, regular ranking reports will help determine how well your website is doing. Especially after publicly announced algorithm updates or changes. Make sure to choose a wide variety of keywords to track including: broad phrases, long tail phrases, branded searches, and searches for your NAP.

Penalties

Speaking of algorithm changes, how did your website fare in the latest Quality Update? If your website has experienced a significant loss of traffic or rankings, it’s fair to say that your website has been affected. An effective SEO campaign will help prevent your website from being affected by such changes. But in the event that it is, keeping close track of these factors will help you better diagnose your website’s health.

Website Traffic

Luckily, Google Analytics makes it easy to compare different types of website traffic: organic, paid, referral, social, and other search campaigns. You can easily view changes month on month or from the past year. In the tumultuous world of organic SEO, it’s a good thing if your website maintains steady website traffic. Growing your traffic slowly is a long term goal. It’s when you see a significant drop in website traffic that you you should be worried. Even setting a small goal of growing your traffic 5-10% per year is a good start. You just need to know where you stand and what’s realistic for your website.

Conversions

The ideal website conversion rate is a mythical thing. Like the other factors discussed, it helps to keep track of different types of conversions that are relevant to your business. Why do you need to keep track of so many types of conversions? When you follow website traffic, phone calls, contact forms, or downloads, it makes it easier to pinpoint when something is no longer working and pinpoint the source of that problem.

Social Engagement

SEO success is definitely correlated to social engagement. Although there is no direct link, it still makes sense to keep track of metrics on your actual social profiles. Many predict that there will be a more transparent link between social media and organic SEO soon. If you are not aware that your business Facebook Page is losing Likes or your Twitter engagement is declining, you might continue to do (or not do) the same thing. This is where paying attention counts and you can focus your efforts on bringing back that social engagement.

A Different Kind of SEO Company

At Emarketed, we take a personalized approach when it comes to your SEO campaign and will carefully analyze all your website’s needs so that you get a customized marketing strategy. Contact us today for a free consultation and website analysis.

3 Simple Ways to Lower Your Bounce Rate

Your site’s bounce rate may not be the defining factor in your website’s success but it’s still an important one. Find out how you can lower the bounce rate and keep the much needed traffic on your website. low-bounce-rate

Find Out Where Visitors are Clicking

With tools like Crazy Egg or ClickTale, you can tell where visitors are clicking on your home page and other important landing pages. Viewing click and heat maps will give you a better idea of what the average visitor concentrates on. Use this information to your advantage and put the call to action or form where visitors focus so that conversion rates also improve.

While some features are aesthetically pleasing, it might be surprising to find out that a majority of visitors will probably not even scroll all the way to the bottom of your home page! Set your pride aside and get rid of it all together. Although a fancy box menu or video feature might seem like a good idea, it’s not worth it if no one is able to find it at the bottom of the page. This will also help with PageSpeed.

Improve Website & PageSpeed

After reviewing heat map tools, you’ll get a better idea of what is important to visitors and what’s not. By cutting down on images and other features that aren’t visited, you can cut down on the load time of the page and vastly improve your website speed. Seconds make a world of a difference and potential customers are even less patient when it comes to load time on tablet and mobile devices.

Need to compress CSS, HTML, or JavaScript files? Read more about that here: https://developers.google.com/speed/docs/insights/MinifyResources

Implement Intuitive Website Design

What initially may be a cool feature could actually be a distraction or intrusion. Simplify your website design so that there is clear messaging and obvious paths. Place popular items in navigation that is easy to find and use. It might be helpful to prominently display a search bar where users can manually type in what they’re looking for, rather than click around aimlessly. Remember, user experience determines good website design and a positive experience will only help improve your website’s bounce rate.

Questions about improving your bounce rate and website? Contact Emarketed today, our Los Angeles SEO specialists are ready to help – (888) 347-7757.

3 Non-Content Things Content Marketing Focuses On

focus-content-marketing Content marketing is all about different types of content… but what about when it’s not? Dig a little deeper and you’ll see that content marketing focuses on much more, especially the three things we are going to discuss today.

The Business Story

Before you push different types of content out, what is it that your business has to say? Are you devoted to serving the community? Solving a difficult problem? Righting wrongs of other businesses in the industry? A brand message sets a business apart from competitors and sets the mood and tone for your content marketing campaign. Depending on what that message is, it may be wise to use certain mediums over another. For example, videos may help in “boring” industries where the field is already flooded with written content.

The Audience

Secondly, WHO is it that this story is suppose to appeal to? Without knowing your core audience, the message may be lost amongst a sea of uninterested consumers. It not only helps to target who you want as customers but what phase of the buying circle they are currently in. Are they just browsing and price shopping? Or are they ready to pull the trigger and make the purchase? The difference between identifying an influencer and decision maker is a crucial one.

Technical SEO

Behind-the-scenes of content marketing, technical SEO factors come into play. This refers to properly optimizing the content and tracking its success. The tracking part is how you can tell what is successful or not. Consider Analytics your new best friend. For example, using the right Analytics, you can easily tell which blog posts get the most organic or social traffic. Add Goal tracking, and you can also tell which posts get the most conversions. Feel free to try these other tools.

Contact Emarketed today for help with your content marketing campaign and tracking – (888) 347-7757.

Top Beginner SEO Mistakes

seo-do-over Make no mistake, “beginner” SEO mistakes can and will happen to SEOs of experience … if you don’t pay attention. Whether you’re taking over an older website or starting from scratch, it’s crucial not to forget about the little things.

Taking Shortcuts for Immediate Results

When starting an SEO campaign, it’s realistic to expect that it will take time to achieve solid rankings and results. A n00b SEO misconception is that a brand new site will change everything & immediately. When these goals aren’t met in a short period time, it may be tempting to try alternative methods to boost results. Check on this article on SEO blunders even the biggest companies (like BMW and Toys R Us) have made.

Weird Issues with Meta Elements

Title and meta elements can be overlooked during a redesign… whether it’s having completely duplicate elements or none at all! Depending on the tools or methods used, titles and meta can even get switched so that they are no longer relevant to the actual on-page content!

To get into best practices, make sure that everything is unique as possible – title tags are 60 – 65 characters in length; meta descriptions are natural, unique and are between 150-160 characters in length. These elements can be crucial in conversion and click through optimization.

Neglecting Links & Under-Optimization

These past years have had SEOs shaking in their boots over fear of the next big Google update. SEOs have been so afraid of staying out of Google’s bad side by avoiding any type of optimization at all. This leads to a new type of problem – under optimization, out of fear that a website may seem spammy or keyword stuffed. Some SEOs may also fail to link pages internally or provide any type of navigation so that related pages can be found.

Remember that there is a balance between properly optimizing a website and going overboard. Read Google’s updated SEO starter guide here.

Contact Emarketed Today

If you need an extra set of eyes for an SEO audit or site evaluation, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

How to Personalize Your Scholarship Link Building Efforts

Despite the decline in “traditional” link building tactics, .edu, .gov, and .org links are still highly sought after. Recently, there has been an SEO trend concerning students and schools – businesses are offering scholarships in an attempt to get links from these prestigious sites. Sounds like a win-win situation, right? WRONG. In fact, many believe that in the near future, Google may be quick to jump on these and deem them “unnatural”. Read more: http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/how-to/2379527/are-scholarship-links-considered-unnatural-by-google.

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If you’re still interested in following through with a link building campaign based on scholarships, proceed with caution and remember some things:

What?

Here’s how it works: A business will offer a scholarship to high school students, grad students, or there are even some “scholarships” for non-students, who meet a certain criteria (age, goals, grades, school of choice, etc.)! The guidelines can be as narrow or general as you would like. The amount for the scholarship will vary from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Bottom line, a business offers a certain amount of money to a certain extraordinary individual who is worthy of receiving the scholarship money.

Why?

There are many goals to carrying out a scholarship campaign:
1) Generate positive buzz for your business
2) Support your alma mater, local school, or just help others in need
3) Be part of the community
4) Get strong social signals from promoting the scholarship
5) Link juice from schools or websites that link to your scholarship page

How?

The process described above can be time consuming and tedious. That’s why it helps if you have an internet marketing team to do all the heavy lifting for you. This is especially helpful if you plan to do the scholarship on an annual basis. Reaching out to get .edu websites to link to your scholarship is harder than it seems. It’s about contacting the right people and making your scholarship stand out.

Now What?

Scholarships are great, no matter what. But what makes your scholarship special? There are many scholarships that cater to students with good grades and although that’s great, it doesn’t really get your attention. Something like the Life Happens Scholarship Program, appeals to students who have suffered the loss of a parent. The American Fire Sprinkler Association offers a scholarship for the best essay about fire sprinklers. College Humor offers “The Average Student” Scholarship. The possibilities are endless.

Personalizing your scholarship will help your social sharing opportunities and make your cause (and business) more memorable… especially if you can get a clever tie in. It also shows that you care for a cause and aren’t just pushing a campaign for links. Remember, .edu links should only be part of your goals. Too many aren’t a good thing either. Diversity and being natural is still what matters in link building.

When to Give SEO the Cold Shoulder

SEO – All the time, 24/7. This mentality is exhausting and can actually end up hurting your website more than it is helping (see Google’s over optimization penalty).  In today’s world of search engine optimization, there are actually some instances where it is appropriate to “ignore” SEO. For the most part, it means focusing on the user first.

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1) Content – No matter what type of content is being written (blogs, web pages, downloads, press releases), the goal is to appeal to the potential customer. They don’t care about exact match keywords and repetitive phrases. They want to read something engaging that flows naturally.

When writing, it pays to put people before search engines. Search engines receive positive/negative signals from visitors, so when you keep the reader happy, it really goes full circle. Keep your readers happy and search engines are happy with your website too. On the other hand,  if you keep SEO first before people and website may suffer.

2) Social media – Where in ‘social media’ do you see ‘SEO’? Nowhere! And your social strategy should keep it that way. Social media is used for branding, engagement, reputation management, and customer service. Although there are positive SEO benefits from an active and effective social media profile, it’s more of an afterthought than the main goal. Search engine optimization should not be the front runner of any social media marketing campaign.

3) Landing pages for PPC ads – A piece of content on your website where you can completely disregard SEO? Say it ain’t so! Fortunately, you can let your creativity flow and put SEO behind when optimizing a landing page for a paid ad campaign. But when we say “ignore SEO”, it means ignoring the old, traditional pillars of SEO. No keyword stuffing, boring titles meant only for search engines and excessive/unnecessary internal links. Less is more here and the message of your content should shine here, not anchor text and long-tail keywords… although they should be used where it makes sense and not just superfluously.

Have Questions?

If you have more questions about when and when not to focus on SEO, give us a call today at 800-WEB-5421 for a FREE consultation.