Do You Really Need SEO?

SEO water glassWe have a client with a product so unique, only a handful of markets use it. The site serves companies that play in that market with product updates and industry news. No one other than the businesses who need their product subscribe to their newsletter or product update notices. This client does not need SEO. They have, but they don’t need it.

However, we believe that most companies benefit from the basic building blocks of SEO—The Five C’s: Code, Content, Connections, Communications, and Capture.

Let’s take look at each building block:

Code

Every website should have underlying code that Google, Bing, and Yahoo can use in order to rank the site on a search engine results page (SERP). These are often referred to as meta tags. How to write certain meta tags is a science in itself and usually requires identifying the keywords used by direct competitors.

Content

The content on your site (and content about you elsewhere on the web) is your single most important SEO ingredient. SEO-friendly content satisfies the search engines and delights and amazes your prospects. Keyword phrases done well are subtle, relevant, and read like we speak. If you’re overaggressive with SEO keywords, a site can actually be “punished” with a lower rank or no rank at all. Writing SEO-friendly content is an art.

Connections

It’s called link-building, and it’s the most difficult to do well because it requires engagement. Not the proposal-leading-to-marriage kind of engagement, but link exchanges with “influencers” in your market. So if your site boasts the world’s first electric tractor, you want Farm Industry News writing about you and linking to your website. Don’t pay anyone to find broken links on other sites with the offer to replace the broken link with yours. Google wants high quality SERPs and will punish those who abuse their algorithm.

Communications

Social media is not SEO. But using social media to engage with customers and influencers is one of the best ways to create the connections that lead to SEO-helpful links. Don’t get me wrong, we all belong at the Social Media Marketing Table. So when you post, keep in mind who you are posting for—your customer and a potential industry influencer.

Capture

As Alice said to the Cheshire cat, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” When looking at website traffic, we can’t know how well we are doing today unless we know how well we did yesterday. Google Analytics embedded in a website is just the beginning. Knowing how to analyze the data, then change, alter, add to or get rid of certain content on your website is critical to a site’s success.

What if No One is Picking Up What You’re Putting Down?

Let’s say you have invented a new product that has proven immensely popular with the friends and family whom you persuaded to try it. It could be the next top-seller gadget for 2018, but no one is searching for it because no one knows it exists. Running keyword research is a waste of time—keywords won’t exist yet. You have to create them! In these cases, the best SEO tactic is paid search in an awareness campaign. The good news is that the cost of paid search is affordable—there’s no competition in this case. Once there’s demand, return to an SEO strategy and drop or scale back any AdWords campaign.

Want to check out your website’s SEO potential? Email us and we’ll send you our SEO Best Practices Guide. Or just call (772) 932-7969. Do it now!

Web Builder vs Web Designer

There’s an old adage attributed to copywriter Gary Halbert (1938-2007), “The Prince of Print” that goes like this:

What does it take to have a successful restaurant?

Great location? No.
Superior service? Nope.
Good prices? Nope.
Ambiance? Not even close.
Amazing food? Actually, not even that.

To have a successful restaurant … you need a starving crowd.
Everything else is a means to serve that crowd a little better—to get their attention
and give them what they want.

Your business has its own version of the starving crowd. It’s up to you to figure who’s starving. Or is it?

dog and catHalbert goes on to say that once you know who’s starving, get their attention and give them what they want. If you have a successful business now, you’ve got a pretty good handle on who is picking up what you put down. But guess what? Those starving people can now find you!

New customers, patients, clients, donors, whatever, tell Google their problem, and like magic (not really magic, more like an algorithm) up comes a menu of solutions providers. Often, the list is long, so you want those eyeballs to see your business name right in front of their eyes. Not an easy task! But we’ll get to that later.

So now they found your website and it’s beautiful. They love the look. But they’re still starving because they can’t figure out in the first 3 seconds how you can solve their problem. This is pretty common when you’ve chosen a website builder like Squarespace.

I mean, would you hire me to take photos at your wedding? I’m a whiz on my iPhone camera and have Photoshop, so why not? It’s just the most important day of your life. Well the same thing applies to your website.

There are so many complicated back-end things that go into a beautiful custom website that have nothing to do with design:

  1. Write marketing copy or repurpose existing copy that is intelligently packed with keywords in the right tone and voice for your business.
  2. Build a navigation scheme around that copy that gets attention, raises curiosity, engages visitors so they spend time on your site, and finally, to get a visitor to engage or take action.
  3. Ask questions in order to know you and your business; do exhaustive research on the competition and outline a strategic marketing plan. (Clients often get more out of this process than any other).
  4. Refresh a logo or repurpose images to put your best face forward online.
  5. Implement and integrate SEO, social media, email marketing, blogging, e-commerce, CRM, and more.
  6. Provide for approval a written content document and a static mockup of the site before the actual site building starts.

If you’ve thought about using a website builder, give us a call. We’ll buy you cup of coffee, lay out the pros and cons in a fair and honest way, and give you a chance to really understand your options. If we move forward, great. If not, no hard feelings and you never know what’s down the road. Just saying though, next time, coffee is on you. I like the Flat White at Starbucks.

Conversational Commerce

There’s a new term in marketing—Conversational Commerce. The term is an outgrowth of the rise in popularity of social media. Consumers are learning about brands and products on Pinterest and Instagram, and being sold on Facebook and Twitter. This is social media for business. And while it’s free to build a social page, it can take years of sharing updates to build an audience, even when paying to play.

Social MediaThe digital world is getting crowded, and to be seen and heard among a cluttered landscape of messages, photos, and videos you have to disregard the old way of thinking that social media is free and easy to use, to the new reality that you need to pay to promote your posts and updates and increase quality to maintain loyalty.

To get started (or back on track) choose the social sites that give you the best opportunity for an investment return. We’ve listed our top recommendations by Monthly Active Users (source).

Facebook (1.87B). The Facebook platform is forgiving. Editors have plenty of opportunities to edit, delete, hide and rank posts, and specific audiences can be targeted. All businesses, large and small, want a Facebook page in order to interact with their consumers on the go — and because Americans of all demographics are spending more time on Facebook than anywhere else. However, Facebook Messenger (1B) can be considered intrusive.

Pinterest (150M) and Instagram (600M) and Tumblr (550M). If your product or service has a high visual component, these are your go-to channels. Pinterest will have a slightly more mature audience while Instagram appeals to millennials and young people.

Twitter (317M). Unless you are a politician, best-selling author, fan-favorite actor or rock band, Twitter may not provide the payback you want for the time it takes to write one 140-character tweet. Twitter’s growth has stagnated for business users, but it still has over 300 million followers.

LinkedIn (106M). Once the social page for job seekers, Linked-In commercial marketers are there now to build a brand, advertise, publish content, or sponsor someone else’s content.

WhatsApp (1M) is sometimes used by business for customer communication and support, and Snapchat (300M) has been used by business for the occasional scavenger hunt, usually centered on fast food.

YouTube and Google are like salt and pepper. Staples on the dinner table. For video publishing, a YouTube page is a must. The benefit of using Google+ is simple truth: Google search likes it when you play in their sandbox and having a Google+ page helps your business website rank higher in search results.

One of the greatest misunderstandings about social media marketing is that it’s important for businesses to BE on social media. Not true. It’s important for businesses to be ACTIVE on social media. Being active means that you are willing to allocate the people, time, and budget that’s required to manage the “art” of social media interaction and monetize and track its results. Or hire someone who can.