How Important Are Exact Match Keywords?

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Whether you’ve been doing SEO for a while or you’re just getting into the topic, there’s a good chance that you’ve already done some research on keywords. In fact, you’ve probably received quite a bit of advice on how to best use keywords–that you should focus on long-tail keywords and phrases; that you need a specific keyword density so search engines can pick up your content; that you should be adding keywords into headers and creating anchor text.

Well, at one time, all of these tips were true. While many of these practices are now outdated, there’s a reason you’ve been hearing so much about keywords: At one time, keyword-focused strategies were at the top of any SEO’s game.

So the question remains, how important are exact-match keywords now? How do keywords translate into useful information for search engines? Read on and find out!

Back in the day

Because search is an ever-evolving practice, search engines have had to make a huge number of adjustments in how they rank sites over the years. These adjustments are referred to as “algorithm updates”. And with each of these algorithm updates, SEOs find new ways to help boost page rank. So back when the web was less sophisticated and the algorithms weren’t quite as effective as they are now, search engines looked for pages with keywords that matched the search query exactly. These were called exact-match keywords.

Keyword stuffing

Once SEOs noticed that the usage of exact-match keywords would get sites ranking higher, they began putting those keywords in all the content on the website. They’d put it in image descriptions. In headers. In footers.

It got so bad that they’d even put it in the background of the site–yes, as in the space behind the text and images–and just change the color so that it blended in with the background color. Talk about obnoxious (and shady).

Now that is something that Google strongly dislikes. In fact, they wrote a whole piece about why hidden text and keyword stuffing is bad. Needless to say, it didn’t take too long before they started penalizing sites that stuffed keywords.

Keyword density

A tactic used alongside of keyword stuffing was adhering to a specific keyword density. Many of the people who used to stuff keywords realized that the search engines had begun to penalize them for it, so they decided instead to hit a specific density of keywords per article, thinking that this made the text appear more “organic” to search engines and thus would not be flagged as spam. Their density goals usually ranged from 2-5%, and the keywords had to be an exact match.

Of course, this led to really sloppy writing. We’re talking keywords and keyphrases shoved in roughly every two sentences, leading to repetitive, grammatically- and syntactically-incorrect content. It was so obvious that it was “optimized”. And soon, Google began flagging many of those articles as spam, too.

So how do exact-match keywords work now?

As a part of the Hummingbird update in 2013, Google began taking semantic indexing into account. What does that mean? It means that the search engine is smart enough to parse sentences and pick up on keyword variations as well as topics and themes. This eliminates the need to try to stuff strangely-worded keywords into your content.

So let’s say that you run a site promoting salon services and you’re located in Atlanta, GA. Before, with exact-match keyword phrasing, you might only want your content to reference “salons in Atlanta, GA” so that you could rank locally for salon services.

With the Hummingbird update in place, however, you wouldn’t have to worry about it. If you have claimed your Google business listing and made sure that your address is correct, you’ll already have a location associated with your website. As long as your site contains content about salon services, Google will understand that when someone is searching for salons in the Atlanta area, there’s a good chance they might be looking for your page.

So if exact-match keywords aren’t as important now that Google utilizes semantic indexing, what should you focus on?

Website structure

When it comes to your website’s layout and the way the code is structured, you might think that SEO has nothing to do with it. Well, you would be wrong.

If your site is easy to navigate, then visitors will find the information they’re looking for without much trouble. Google looks at this data–how long is someone on your site? Do they click around?–which, if they stay a while and look at your content, implies your site has what they needed. But what if they just back out immediately? This would suggest they didn’t find what they were looking for, and Google will assume your site isn’t relevant to their needs.

So be sure to title your pages with descriptive words. Make your menus easy to navigate. Ensure your web designer has enabled a site map. All of these things are far, far more important than exact-match keywords.

Site speed

Something that you might not even consider to be an issue can often really make or break your SEO efforts–if your site is slow or has errors in loading, you could be damaging your ranking without even knowing it. So what can you do to make sure your website loads quickly?

  • Clean up any extra pages that you don’t use anymore (perhaps from an old design).
  • Get rid of plug-ins that are broken, outdated, or are otherwise unused.
  • Ask your web developer if there is any unneeded media or outdated code that you can get rid of.
  • SSL encryption could possibly give a ranking boost, although it’s not significant.

Other content tips

If you’re writing your own content, here are some good things to keep in mind:

  • Use proper grammar and sentence structure. Writing poorly comes off as spammy.
  • Choose a topic and stick to it. By using the topic keywords organically throughout the post, you will tell Google what the page is about.
  • Do not repeat the same words over and over again. You’ll look spammy.
  • Interlink your posts. Google loves links, including links on your own site.
  • Use images. When you use images with proper titles, you increase reader interest and you tell Google more about your topic.
  • Encourage conversation. Leave comment sections open. You can earn trackbacks to your post (other links) and make it easy for people to engage with you.

And there you have it! Exact-match keywords aren’t important today, but staying on topic and providing fresh, relevant content for your visitors is. So keep practicing your writing and let the ideas come naturally–and remember that you need to write for people, not for search engines.


Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to discover how we can help you be seen online.

No, SEO Isn’t Dead.

 

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If you  haven’t heard it before, you’ll probably hear about it sometime soon: SEO is dead, and we’re all a bunch of fools to invest any more time and money into it. We might as well just accept it now: We’re never going to be able to use any kind of strategy to boost our ranking on the biggest search engines on the planet.

Except that SEO isn’t dead. We’re not wasting money or time by investing in optimization services.

And there are strategies that help you boost your online presence. There’s no magic bullet, but there are best practices that successful SEO companies follow to get their clients more exposure.

So what gives? Why do people keep saying SEO is dead?

In this post, we’ll go over a few of the top reasons people cite for the “end of SEO”. Keep in mind that Google does change its algorithm frequently, and that what works today might not work sometime in the near future. But that’s natural. Change can be dealt with; strategies can be adjusted. Just because search is an evolving thing doesn’t mean that SEO has no place in today’s business marketing strategies.

Reason #1: People are losing trust in big businesses.

It’s a reflection of economic strife and increasingly-agitated people: Trust in leaders, particularly corporate leaders, is plummeting. With security breaches, scandals at the top levels of big businesses, and news about middle- to low-rung workers being mistreated or underpaid, it’s no wonder people are beginning to raise their eyebrows at large companies.

In fact, Google itself has gotten into a number of heated legal tiffs. People are actually more likely to trust the NSA than they are Google, according to one survey.

And that’s just it, isn’t it? Google is everywhere, almost omnipresent. It’s so ingrained into peoples’ lives now that there are comics and jokes about the search giant’s software being implanted in our brains sometime in the near future! “Big Brother”-type concerns used to be something that you only found in a George Orwell novel, but nowadays, they’ve become a real, legitimate concern.

All of this to say that because people are losing trust in big businesses, they’ve lost trust in Google. They fear where Google could go, given all its power. So when applying this to SEO, people assume that Google has the system rigged, and that you’ll have to pay increasingly more to be considered above other sites in the SERPs.

However, while the legal troubles have been concerning, that doesn’t mean that Google will be slowing down anytime soon. SEO is still effective in spite of all that.

Reason #2: People use apps to search, rather than Google.

Some people say that because people are searching for things using apps such as Amazon, Yelp, or Pinterest, that SEO is dead. They argue that when customers begin moving away from Google like this, optimization just doesn’t have the same kind of effect that it used to.

Except that that is wrong for two reasons:

1) People still use Google to find things, particularly small local businesses. Apps might draw some attention away from Google and the other search engines, but that doesn’t mean that people never use them. How many times have you looked for restaurants or movie tickets simply by typing it into Google? Probably a lot, right? Yelp reviews definitely have their place, but you don’t always go straight to Yelp to find a place to eat.

2) Sites/Apps like Amazon have their own internal search algorithms. And guess what? Those can be used to your advantage as well. It’s true that when people are shopping for things like Kindle books, they’re probably going straight to Amazon rather than Google. But again, this doesn’t mean that SEO is dead–you can even apply what you’ve learned to Amazon if you’re selling items there.

Reason #3: People are sharing links via social media, and that’s caused would-be Googlers to shift away from search.

Some claim that because people are always getting news and information from their friends on social media platforms, that means they don’t use Google anymore. After all, why search for “peeptoe shoes on sale” when you could just buy the exact same pair that your friend just shared with you?

If you thought you sensed some sarcasm there, you’re correct. People do take recommendations from their friends seriously, and people do click on links that their friends post to social media. But that doesn’t mean this is a 1-for-1 exchange with Google! Especially when it comes to shopping for clothes or local services, people will want recommendations, but they’re also going to want to shop around. And that means that they’re going to do some Googling before making their final decision.

Reason #4: Ad blocks and distrust of paid placement makes people avoid your paid promotions.

There is some truth to this statement. People get sick of having advertisements pop up in their feeds all the time. They want to be able to search without accidentally clicking on some spammy ad. And that’s a totally legitimate concern.

But not everyone blocks ads. And some people do still click them. It seems to depend on where you’re listing them. Facebook ads still work, and so do Google ads, although it’s getting more and more difficult to reach your audience through advertising without paying more competitive prices.

When it comes right down to it, though, people are more likely to trust a legitimate link rather than a sponsored ad. So SEO is still important in this scenario, too–you can pay to promote your site, but if you’re found organically, you have a higher chance of nabbing more clicks.


Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to discover how we can help you be seen online.

 

Why Search Engine Optimization is a Long-Term Investment

When it comes to search engine optimization, there are so many things to consider before you get started that it might seem like an impossible task to take on. From meta tags to building backlinks, and from content marketing to social media, it seems there’s a million things you need to do to play the ranking game–and actually do well at it.

But SEO is a long-term investment. It’s not a “set it and forget it” type of process–it’s a fluid, ever-changing industry, and it takes a lot of knowledge and dedication to keep up with all the latest strategies. Before we get into that, though, take heart–There are some things you can do to get started immediately:

  • Make sure to list your business on Google + and as many major directories as possible. Defining keywords, linking to your website, and providing vital information about what your business does makes it easier for the search engines to index you.
  • On that note, make sure your address, phone number, and business name are listed consistently across all directories. Search engines can create duplicate listings for slight variations in addresses, and this creates confusion for customers who are searching for your services.
  • Build a website with an easy-to-navigate structure and visitor-friendly photos. Make sure you include meta tag descriptions, provide search engine-friendly alt tag descriptions on photos, and submit a site map to Google periodically. Updating your blog or at least providing fresh content is a must. And you should always make sure your link structure is clear to search engines. I.e., website.com/blog/how-to-install-a-faucet is great; website.com/22560 is not.

SEO is ever-changing and increasingly complex.

But the nature of the beast is that SEO is an ever-changing process. Google is always trying to make its algorithm more accurate–for example, when you think of how search functioned in the 90s versus now, they have improved a lot at returning relevant results! Why? Because Google has invested a lot of time into researching user intent, so that when someone types in a query, he or she gets more accurate results. Naturally, the company is going to continue doing their research and honing the algorithm in the years to come.

What does all of this have to do with Search Engine Optimization? Well, put simply, SEO is the process of getting a site “Google-ready”. SEO experts take current Google data and make sure that client sites comply with it, so that they’re ranked higher in comparison to their competitors.

SEO experts must work with an algorithm that is unknown to anyone–and still try to stay in Google’s good graces.

So basically, once you’ve achieved that ranking, if you’ve hired good SEO people, you’ll likely hold that spot for a long time to come.

However, sometimes Google makes SUCH drastic changes that while you may have been ranking on page one on Monday, suddenly on Tuesday, you’re not ranking at all. You soon discover that you are lacking now-important SEO elements or utilizing outdated techniques.

For example, “keyword density” used to be a big concern for SEOs. They advised that articles and content on sites contained keyword-rich articles, using the exact same grammar structures every time the keyword was used, even if it didn’t make sense in the context of the sentence. Back then, this was actually a way some people would “cheat” Google–just stuff keywords in some text and end up ranking on page one! (By the way, this is what’s known as “black hat” SEO–doing things simply to cheat the system–and black hat techniques will get you booted from page one on Google’s next update faster than you could imagine.)

Now, Google actually punishes people for stuffing keywords. And the search algorithm has become sophisticated enough that Google can understand changes in a query’s grammatical structure. What that means is that you no longer have to JUST search for “landscapers cheap Lexington” to get relevant results, but you could search for “cheap landscaper in Lexington” and get basically the same thing.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a screenshot. Take a look at the pages:

cheap-landscaper-lexingtonlandscapers-cheap-lexington

Yep, the majority are the same links. One just has a map, so they’re listed as Google + business listings, and that’s where you’ll spy the difference. But the point still stands. Google is really good at interpreting what the user is looking for–affordable landscapers in or around Lexington. Whether you word it like Yoda or an English professor, Google wants to help you out, and does a pretty good job at it!

SEO experts are in it for the long haul–and so are you.

Because Google is always changing, search engine optimization must follow suit. There are those out there who say SEO is dead (there’s always somebody saying that about ANYTHING, though) and there are others who say it will become obsolete as search engines grow closer and closer to behaving like human minds. But the fact is, the web is always changing. People build new websites. New businesses crop up, while others close their doors forever. It’s not enough to rank on page one today. You have to work with experts to make sure that you continue to rank on page one in the future too, whether Google releases a major update or another business moves into your vicinity. So until Google can read your mind and pull up the best business to match your personality (eep–that’s some scary stuff, isn’t it?), search engine optimization will be a thing. SEO is a long-term investment, and if you have a great business at your side, it will be worth it.

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.

Back to Basics #4: Why Your Company Needs a Digital Marketing Firm

why you need a digital marketing firm
A digital marketing firm can help you reach your target market.

It used to be that a company could place an ad in the Yellowpages or the newspaper and almost immediately see their marketing efforts paying off. But those days have drawn to a close. In order to keep up with marketing in 2014 and beyond, you need to get your business online. Websites allow customers to find services and products at any time of day, and it gives you a chance to make a great impression before anyone even walks in your door.

Think about it: TV shows and music can be streamed online. Blogs and social networks deliver relevant, recent news and interesting articles. You can even read your favorite books on electronic devices. And when you search for a product that you need, where do you go first—to the phone book or to your favorite search engine? We bet you go online and search for services. So it makes sense that as a small business owner, you need to be where your customers are—online. But there’s one problem: Once you’ve set up your website, how do you make sure that your customers are finding you online?

That’s where a digital marketing firm comes in. A great digital marketing firm can mean the difference between customers finding your business instead of your competitor when they search online.

A Digital Marketing Firm Can Guide You

At Internet Local Listings, we know a lot about digital marketing. After all, it’s what we do—we work hard to get our clients’ websites visible across the web. We understand the ins and outs of local listings, boosting Google rankings, utilizing social media marketing, and building links. This is something that you, as a small business owner, probably don’t know a lot about. And that’s fine—you’re an expert on running your business, and you need to make sure you stay on top of those responsibilities.

What a digital marketing firm can do is help you run your business more efficiently. We’ll work with you to make sure your business is presented the way you want it to be. We’ll make sure your social media accounts are reflecting your desire to connect with customers. And we’ll be happy to let you participate in whichever way you feel comfortable. That way you can focus on running your company while we channel you passion for your business into a more prominent online presence.

digital marketing diagram
There’s a lot that goes into digital marketing! We can help you understand.

A Digital Marketing Firm Can Save You Money

Have you ever tried to advertise your business online? Maybe you bought ads on Facebook or Google, or maybe you paid to have your website listed somewhere. Whatever the case may be, if you’ve thrown money out the window on failed advertising endeavors, you may be feeling frustrated or even hopeless. But don’t worry. You can still market to your customers and not spend a fortune.

A digital marketing firm like Internet Local Listings can help you spend your marketing budget in the right way. There’s no need to pay for expensive advertisements that aren’t guaranteed to work. With packages starting at just $199 a month, Internet Local Listings has some of the best prices available on top-quality digital marketing services. Packages are customizable and you can get involved to any extent you feel comfortable. Want to send us pictures to use on your social media? Go ahead. Want to write your own content for a custom website? We’ll be happy to assist you (it’ll still need to be optimized!). Just let us know and we will be happy to work with you.

By working with a digital marketing firm, you’ll see real results. Putting ads up on Facebook or Google is a short-term solution to drive curious people to your website. But getting your website in front of your audience organically is much more worthwhile and a wiser investment in the long run, because it costs less and has a much wider impact.

A Digital Marketing Firm Can Connect You to Your Community

Small businesses are generally not concerned with appealing to customers all over the world. Small business owners tend to sell to local customers. From word of mouth advertising to old-fashioned window displays, local companies have different methods of capturing the attention of their customers. That is great—but to get a leg up on your competitors, you’re going to want to be on the front page of popular search engines as well.

That’s where a digital marketing firm comes in. We can get you listed all across the internet and help you rank higher in search engine results so that you can connect with your customers. Even better, you’ll rank organically in local searches. That means that when people in your town (or nearby towns) search for a service that you provide, your name will pop up. They’ll be able to find your store address and hours, and that makes it easy for them to contact you or to drop by to shop.

Why not cover all your advertising bases with digital marketing services? Increase website traffic and your web presence, and you’re well on your way to being found instead of your competitors. Call or visit Internet Local Listings today to speak with our digital marketing firm about your small business advertising needs.

 

3 Easy Google Ranking Factors to Implement on Your Website

Google Ranking Factors, Google Logo
There are a lot of Google ranking factors, but you can easily implement a few on your site–and you’ll see results!

Learning to market your own website can seem like an extremely daunting task, particularly if you’re new to being online. But there’s no need to worry. All it takes is learning a few easy tricks and you’ll start seeing improvement on your site’s ranking. So what’s the easiest way to improve your site’s ranking without spending a fortune? By learning a bit about content creation. Content creation is one of the top ways you can improve your site’s rankings because Google places a lot of value on websites with valuable content. This means that the successful sites update often with helpful posts. Google also particularly likes posts with pictures and great formatting that includes using bolding and italics. In this post, we’ll go over the top 3 easiest Google ranking factors to start implementing on your site—once you’re armed with this information, you’ll be ahead of the game!

Update frequently.

Google is constantly caching new data. As such, it’s important that your site stays up to date by posting fresh content frequently. This doesn’t mean that you need to update every hour, or even every day—but at least once a week should help. Easy topics include posting about what your company is up to, any specials you’re running, or events that are on the horizon. But don’t just promote yourself—always find ways to connect with your customers and engage them in a conversation. If you find yourself running low on post ideas, try thinking outside the box a bit. What would your customers like to learn about? What are some related interests that your readers might find useful? For example, let’s say you run a dog grooming studio. You might try writing about:

  • The best hairstyles of the Westminster Dog Show
  • The top foods to feed your dog to keep his or her coat healthy
  • Little-known facts about dog breeds throughout history

Your clients would find all of these posts fun, entertaining, and useful, and they’ll surely enjoy coming back to check out your site to see your new content. You can use these posts as a way to pitch your business as well—just include links to relevant products and services at the end of the posts!

Use images in your posts.

Not only does this make your post look better, but it is actually one of the easiest Google ranking factors to understand and implement. Most blogs allow you to set a “featured image” before you publish a post. You’ll need to upload a relevant picture and name it something descriptive. For example, the title “dog grooming scissors” is better than just “scissors”. Set this phrase as the image’s name and as well as the “alt” text. Why? Because images on-page deliver strong relevancy data through their file name, alt text, title, description and caption. Plus, when others share your post on Facebook or Twitter, the picture will show up with the text. People are much more likely—in fact, 42% more likely—to click on links with photos, so it’s a win-win all around! Here are a few key things to remember:

  • You’ll find the file name, alt text, title, description, and caption in your blog’s image editor. WordPress makes it very simple and intuitive. You can do it all from an organized “dashboard” while you’re crafting your post.
  • If you’re having trouble understanding how to use an image in a post, here is a great tutorial at ManageWP Blog. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing this already!

Use title tags and repetition.

This time, let’s say you run a salon, and you want to make sure that the search engines know that you have the best salon hair products. You’ve uploaded your image appropriately, and now you’re set to write your content. So how do you make sure your content stands out among the competition? There are two main things to consider. You don’t need to understand a lot about marketing to do this—it’s simple and easy. The first is to include the keyword in the title. This makes sense. If you’re writing about salon hair produts, be sure to put that in your post’s title. It’s that simple! Ideally, you should put the keyword toward the beginning rather than close to the end, but this doesn’t really make that much difference. To illustrate, an example would be:

  • Salon Hair Products: Worth the Price Tag?
  • Why Everyone Should Invest in Salon Hair Products

The first title would be better simply because “salon hair products” appears at the beginning of the title. However, both utilize the keyword, so they’re both good choices.

Keyword Repetition

One of the most important Google ranking factors to this day is the repetition of the keyword or key phrase. When Google scans your content, it will pick up on phrases that have been repeated. It will see this as relevant, and thus, you’ll rank higher for that keyword or key phrase. This is all well and good, but it’s also been one of the most heavily-abused ranking practices. You must be sure that when you write your content, your keywords fit in without being referenced too often. There is no magic number to aim for, but use it a few times in a natural way and you should be fine.

More About Google Ranking Factors

There’s so much more to ranking on Google than what was discussed in this article. But the information you’ve received here should help you learn the basics of blogging for search engine optimization! Now, as a small business owner, you can certainly take the time to craft your own posts according to these rules. However, unless you become an expert in the content marketing industry, you won’t be able to match the results you’d get by hiring professional writers.  This is also a time-consuming endeavor–you must update frequently to see results. So if you find yourself strapped for time and want to get the best services available, you can always give Internet Local Listings the chance to create great content for you! Simply call us or fill out our form here and we’ll be happy to talk to you about how we can put all the important Google ranking factors to work for your business.

Back to Basics #2: What is Social Media?

What is Social Media? Globe showing social media platforms.
What is social media? There are so many platforms to choose from that it can be a bit overwhelming for a small business owner.

Note: If you’re a social media expert, this post will probably not be of much help to you. But you can feel free to check out our other marketing tips and tricks here, or learn about our internet marketing services here.

Want more beginner tips? Read Back to Basics #1: What is SEO

And be sure to follow our blog for posts delivered to your inbox!

What is Social Media?

If you own your own business, you’ve probably been told that you need to set up social media accounts. And while you’re probably already familiar with Facebook and YouTube, you might not know a lot about Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or Google Plus. In fact, you might think that some of these platforms have nothing to do with your company or are completely useless in your advertising and marketing efforts.

Well, you would be wrong.

Social media is one of the most powerful tools you can leverage in your advertising campaign. In this post, we’ll talk a bit about what social media actually is, as well as how some of the top platforms can benefit your company—even if you run a small local business.

The Hidden Value of Sharing Content

Simply put, social media is text, images, and videos that can be easily shared across a public platform. It’s a bit like email—you can write your thoughts, include some pretty pictures, and send it off. However, unlike email, social media enables you to share your thoughts and media with everyone across your network at once. And those people can share it with people in their network, and so on and so forth. Plus, you can reach people who you never would have via email!

Are you starting to see now just how valuable this can be for advertising?

You’ve probably heard about certain things going “viral”: Grumpy cat, auto-tuned newscasts, and dancing babies are just a few of the contenders. All the publicity that these folks got originally came through social media sharing.

In other words, it was pretty much free.

Now, we can’t all expect to be the next big internet sensation, but we can use social media to increase customer engagement, gain free advertising, and promote a positive brand image. By understanding the power that social media holds for your company, you will be able to give yourself a leg up on your competition.

How Does this Benefit a Small Business?

Okay, so you’re on board with the idea of signing up for social media accounts now. That’s great! But before you go out and create 15 profiles, let’s talk a bit about the platforms we offer at Internet Local Listings, and take a look at the pros and cons of each. We won’t discuss the other platforms in this article.

First, not every company is built the same way. And not every social media platform will be perfect for every company. In other words, what works for a cupcake bakery probably won’t yield the same results for a roofing contractor.

Second, you should note that managing these accounts takes time and effort—so only sign up for the accounts you think will benefit you the most. You can easily become overwhelmed trying to maintain your accounts, and if you’re not doing a good job keeping up with your customers via social media, you’re not going to be getting the most out of your efforts.

The Platforms We Offer

Facebook Logo
Facebook is a great way for small businesses to connect with local customers.

Image courtesy of: http://thenextweb.com/facebook/2014/04/17/facebook-launches-optional-nearby-friends-feature-android-ios/

 

Facebook: Facebook is, hands down, the most widely used social media platform in the world. With over 757 million (yes, million) daily users, Facebook has a wide reach and is an untapped advertising source for many small business owners.

The pros of signing up for Facebook:

  • It’s easy to learn to use—you probably already have a personal account, and running a business page isn’t much more complicated than using a personal profile.
  • It’s free to sign up, and you’ll never have to pay a dime to run your own professional business page if you don’t want to. You can pay to advertise if you so choose, but you’re never going to be forced to purchase anything.
  • Facebook’s reach goes as far as you want it to, but it also has a strong local presence. You can build your network as you see fit for your company.

The cons of singing up for Facebook:

  • It’s oversaturated. Its biggest strength can also be a weakness, particularly for a small business or a new face on the internet. A Facebook page can be difficult to grow from scratch, and the companies who already have an established customer base tend to do the best.
  • Changes in Facebook algorithms mean that paid content is seen more frequently than free content. Basically, because Facebook went public, they’re finding more ways to make money. One of the biggest ways they’ve found is to have users “boost” posts by paying to ensure the content they share is seen by more people. If you don’t want to pay, there’s a bigger chance your content will be swallowed by the paid content.

So who benefits from Facebook?

Although established businesses tend to fare better, starting a Facebook page is an easy and effective way to engage your existing clients as well as inform potential customers about your products. It’s also highly valued by Google and can rank right under your own website—so even if you don’t see much point in sharing updates on Facebook, we’d recommend that every company sign up, even if only for the ranking benefits.

Twitter logo
Twitter can provide a global network for small businesses to engage with.

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Twitter: Twitter is probably the most understood social media platform that we offer for our clients. The reason for the confusion is that most small businesses hear about the “trivial” things posted on Twitter—what you had for lunch, a selfie, a dog doing a headstand (okay, that’s actually pretty impressive, right?). What they don’t know is that, when used properly, it can be a rapidly-growing social network, and it offers extremely fast and efficient content sharing. Sharing media on Twitter is practically mindless—one click of a button and you’ve sent off a “tweet” that you find interesting to your followers. They can tweet it to their followers, and so on. You only have 140 characters to work with, though, so you’ll have to get creative.

The pros of signing up for Twitter:

  • Twitter is easy to use and extremely efficient. You can connect with like-minded people quickly and engage in brief, to-the-point conversations.
  • Twitter was made to share links. If you tweet your blog posts or share a photo on Twitter, people will click. It’s very effective to boost page visits.
  • Although there’s a lot of bad content, it’s easily drowned out. Twitter moves fast. Don’t like what a person has to say? Block them or mute them and they’ll disappear from your feed. Want to amplify a positive voice? Retweet that person or tell your followers to follow them. Being social is easy on Twitter.

The cons of signing up for Twitter:

  • There is a lot of self-promotion on Twitter. Yes, you have signed up to promote your business, but the point of social media is to engage. If you’re out there screaming about how you have the best lawn fertilizer in all of Texas over and over again every day, people are going to unfollow you. Finding that balance between self-promotion and sharing can be tricky for newcomers.
  • It tends to be widespread. If you’re looking to connect locally, Twitter might not be the best place to advertise. People on Twitter tend to network from around the globe. Furthermore, most people you meet will probably be other business owners, and you’ll have to find a way to connect with them in a positive way.
  • As mentioned above, it’s brief. It can be frustrating to try to make an impactful statement in 140 characters or less!

So who benefits from Twitter?

We truly believe that almost any company can use Twitter to their advantage. Local contractors can connect with suppliers and other people in their industry. Spas can connect with big-name beauty brands and clients. Artists can network with other artists to promote their work. With a little bit of creativity, you can build a network that helps you in your marketing endeavors.

What is Social Media to you?

There’s a lot of time and energy involved in running a social media campaign—setting it up, scheduling regular updates, networking, answering customer concerns, and running promotions. And we only touched on the two platforms we offer for our clients at Internet Local Listings—there are certainly others to explore. What does your time and money mean to you? Are you ready to take the plunge?

If you’re interested in learning more about Facebook and Twitter or you’d like to hire social media professionals to maintain your accounts for you, simply contact Internet Local Listings here. We’d be glad to discuss your social media goals with you!

Back to Basics: What is SEO?

What is SEO, content marketing, social media

This is the first post in the “Back to Basics” series. To stay caught up on posts, follow our blog and posts will be sent directly to your inbox!

If you’ve been following our blog, you’ve probably noticed that we talk a lot about search engine marketing and optimization. And while that notion is easy to grasp, some of the terminology surrounding the subject can be a bit… exclusive. If you’re feeling a little in the dark about what internet marketing entails, then this post is for you. If you’re already well-versed in the intricacies of SEO, then you may enjoy reading about how to increase customer engagement, or our tips on implementing new marketing strategies this summer!

So What is SEO Anyway?

As you’ve probably gathered, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it refers to the process of crafting a website and its content around the algorithms search engines use to rank search results. It sounds confusing—and when you get into the details and science of it, it can be—but the concept is actually not very difficult to grasp. SEO covers a number of industries: Search Engine Marketing, Internet Marketing and Advertising, Content Syndication and Marketing, Social Media Management, and more. You don’t necessarily need to understand exactly what all of these terms mean, but it’s important to understand that SEO isn’t a precise science, and that it is applied across a number of industries—it’s dynamic; not static.

The good news is that for most small businesses, having a rudimentary understanding of SEO is enough to get started on improving your search engine rankings. So let’s go over a few things that you’ll need to know to understand the science of internet marketing!

  1. Content is king. If you haven’t heard this one yet, you’ll definitely start hearing it now that you’re looking for more information on search engine optimization.  What is SEO without content? It’s an incomplete effort at best. To rank better on search engines, you’ll need to provide the robots that “crawl” data on the internet with new and fresh content. And how do you do this? The easiest way is to start a blog. You can also opt for frequent social media posts, but you should note that in this case, the search engines will likely rank those sites higher than your own website!
  2. Organic results are best. Organic? As in, like the food? No, not exactly. Here, “organic results” means the results that pop up when you search for a specific phrase. Let’s say you’re looking for information on how to install your own windows. You’ll search for something like DIY window installation or installing your own windows. The results that pop up are “organic” search results. What is SEO’s role in this? Simple: You want to get the search engines to rank you for these kinds of terms, which are otherwise known as keywords. Do some in-depth keyword research and build your content around the best choices for your industry and local competition.
  3. People love social media. In fact, chances are, you’re already on Facebook, if not a number of other social media sites. Most of us are on social media in some capacity today, right? And it’s important that your website and company are listed across a few choice social networks as well. Not all industries are the same and thus not all social media platforms are suitable for everyone. Look at your competitors and see what they’re doing. Then create your profiles and start gathering your own fanbase. So then, what is SEO in relation to social media? The more you update your social media sites and interact with fans, the more attention you bring to your sites. Your social media pages will also appear in search results when customers search for your business’s name.

What is SEO to a small business?

Your small business may already be ranking fine for a couple of keywords. But the thing about SEO is that it’s a fickle beast—between Google, Bing, and Yahoo!, ranking algorithms are changing all the time. It can be difficult to stay caught up on all of these factors, particularly if you don’t have a dedicated marketing team. Chances are you’re doing this mostly on your own. And when you’re trying to run your business, do you realistically have the time and resources to spend learning about best SEO practices? Probably not.

These few tips should help you grasp a few of the main components of ranking—providing fresh content, choosing good keywords, and setting up social media accounts to connect with fans and customers—but the science goes much deeper than that. Search engine optimization is a necessity if you want to succeed as a business online.

If you’re interested in learning more about this subject, simply browse through our site or fill out a contact request form. At Internet Local Listings, we have over 50 years combined experience with SEO and internet marketing services.

What is SEO to you? An investment you’d like to make? Something you’d like to learn more about? Whatever it is, Internet Local Listings would like to help. Give us a call or drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, email, or via our contact form today!

5 Ways to Try New Marketing Strategies this Summer

Why not try new marketing strategies this summer!

2014 is already almost half over. We’re quickly heading into summer, and with that change come a different set of goals and priorities for business owners. Whether you own a contracting business or a salon, your summer advertising is going to have to change to better accommodate your clients and customers!

For many small businesses, the budget available for advertising and marketing purposes is scant, and that makes the prospect of shifting gears for your marketing campaigns rather frightening, to say the least. But changing your focus doesn’t mean you need to shell out tons of money. Here, we’ll look at 5 ways you can try out new marketing strategies this summer without breaking the bank and changing up everything you’ve put in place already.

  1. Shift Marketing Strategies to Include More Social Media Engagement. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again here: social media is imperative to your marketing success. If you’ve been lax on updating Facebook or sending out tweets, now is the time to brush up on it. Connect with your customers and clients in a meaningful way while they have lazier days at home over the summer months.
  2. Redesign Your Website. Is your website looking a little outdated or neglected? Now’s the time to revamp it. Invest in a little extra cash for a great designer and make sure that your site is attractive, informative, and easy to navigate. By doing this, you’ll make sure you put your best face forward for the summer, and you’ll be able to update your current events and seasonal specials while you’re at it.
  3. Hold a contest. It doesn’t have to be an in-depth or complicated endeavor. You can do a number of things easily and affordably through your own website or social media pages! For example, you can post a funny photo related to your industry, and ask people to come up with a caption for it. The best one gets a coupon or a free service. You could also have people vote on something, such as the best new product, or ask them for assistance in coming up with a new special. People love getting involved!
  4. Take a look at your keywords. Have you been ranking consistently under one keyword but just can’t seem to get a foothold on Google with any other keywords? It may be time to let them go and choose different ones. Use free tools such as the Google Keyword Planner or just do a simple search to see what kinds of results you get. Then plan accordingly.
  5. Start a blog. If you haven’t jumped on the blogging bandwagon yet, now’s a great time. Sign up for a free blog from a site such as WordPress.com and begin updating regularly. Talk about company news, plans, specials, and events. Let your clients and customers know what’s going on with you! Not only does this help keep them informed, but you’ll be noticed more by search engines when you’re continually providing your site with fresh content.

Shifting marketing strategies doesn’t have to be scary. Most of these can be done in-house for very little money. However, you should understand that it can be time consuming to blog regularly, manage keywords, update social media, and redesign your site. If you’re thinking of switching up your approach to marketing but don’t have the skills or resources to do it all on your own, just contact the internet marketing experts at Internet Local Listings. We’d be happy to walk you through the process and assist you in any way possible! Good luck with all your new marketing strategies!