We have created sites and provide maintenance for over 150 clients and small businesses. Our clients range from dental practices, veterinary practices, home construction, real estate, interior design firms, artists, entrepreneurs looking to build an Internet presence, non-profit corporations (discounted rates available for some non-profit organizations)/ 501c3 organizations, musicians, churches, adoption agencies, dry cleaners, interior design firms, design and procurement agencies, home builders, equestrian trainers, and restaurants! Whatever the business or organization, we will walk you through the process and make it effortless and enjoyable.
Search Engine Marketing for Beginners: 5 Important Terms to Know
In the U.S. alone, roughly 12 billion internet searches are performed every month and over 60% of consumers conduct web searches prior to making a purchase. Search engines are the largest driver of website traffic, and 60% of searches go directly to the top 3 results on the first page. These stats are hard to ignore, making the case for a robust search engine marketing strategy even more critical for your business. Fortunately, you can learn the basics of search engine marketing on your own for free. To start, here are 5 important terms that you’ll need to know.
Whenever you use a search engine and click on a website result, you’re driving organic search traffic to that website. In search engine marketing, the term organic refers to any search traffic that isn’t paid for, and nearly 90% of consumers start their product hunt with a search engine. Performing strong in organic search is a primary goal in search engine marketing (SEM), as it’s responsible for over 50% of all website traffic according to a study from marketing software firm, BrightEdge.
During your marketing research, you’ll often run into the term, SERP. SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page, and this is simply the page that lists all the web results for a given search term. These pages, or SERPs, are important because they’re the first things people see on their search. That’s why it’s critical to get to the top and make a great first impression once you’re there. In order to rank better in SERPs, you need to create and implement a series of SEM strategies to make your website more visible.
One important SEM strategy is search engine optimization, or SEO. In order to rank higher for targeted search terms and their respective SERPs, you need to optimize your website content, blogs, product descriptions, and any other published content for search engines. SEO requires a wide range of techniques, one of which includes the optimization of online content with search terms recovered from SEO keyword research.
Everything you type into a search engine is considered a search term. A search term, or keyword, can be anything from a question to a phrase. For example, if you were looking for an Internet marketing service in Minneapolis, your search terms will probably like the following:
- “Best internet marketing service minneapolis”
- “I need an internet marketing service in minnesota”
- “Internet marketing company minneapolis”
By optimizing their content with your search terms, a Minneapolis-based marketing service increases their chances of getting your attention online. To collect the most valuable search terms for your website, you need to use various keyword research techniques to generate a substantial list of search terms to rank for.
PPC is an advertising solution that can also raise a website’s SERP position. PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click, and on average, marketers spend over 30% of their total marketing budget on PPC advertising alone. PPC services charge the client once their ad is clicked, and each click helps improve a website’s search visibility. The most recognized PPC service is Google’s own Adwords service which allows you to bid on search terms to compete for visibility on SERPs. You can find these text-based ads at the beginning and end of a SERP.
Start Your SEM Strategy Today!
Stop missing out on valuable search engine traffic. Now’s the time to incorporate a SEM strategy into your marketing plan, and you can get the ball rolling right now with your trusted search engine! Learning about organic research, SEO, SERPs, keyword research, and PPC advertising is just the beginning toward crafting a new, memorable online marketing strategy for your business.
Photo credit: Rawpixel Ltd | iStock
Chances are, you don't update your website all that often. You're time-crunched enough as it is running a veterinary clinic or another small business. However unintentional, you ignore your business website until the company decides to move, offer a new service, or something else you consider newsworthy. This makes for a static website that may not draw the attention of the search engines that you had hoped. The search engine optimization (SEO) benefit you receive from regular blogging is just one of the many reasons why your company needs to incorporate it into its overall marketing strategy.
We have been (slowly) rolling out a series of blog posts about Why Blogging is So Critical to your business, and where to get this content. But, once you have the text that you're going to publish on a page, there are a few tips and tricks that help that content not only get found, but help your reader quickly and easily capture the critical points of what you are saying. Recently, Microsoft conducted a study surveying the attention span of humans. What do you think the time frame is?
Shorter than that of a goldfish.
I linked to the study above, and I do hope you read it (likely, if you share characteristics of the participants of the study, you'vealready left my page to check!). But the study also highlighted something critically important. That attention span isn't necessarily a bad thing--in fact, people actually are in a mode of wanting to be consistently mentally engaged. Their brains will quickly discern any new knowledge and quickly move on to the next piece of information. What does this mean for you?
Your content needs to be strategically formatted to allow your readers to capture a maximum amount of information, in minimal time.
How can your web content be enhanced?
- Bulleted lists of items
- Engaging images which support your text
- Bolded titles
- White space
- Concise, error-free content
As you'll note, that quick little list was easy to read--using the tips included help to allow the reader to scan bite-size pieces of information, rather than a novel.
Where can you find great images to correspond with your content?
- iStock Photo (paid subscription service)
- Thinkstock Photo (paid subscription service)
- Pixabay (images free of copyright, even for commercial use and are distributed under Creative Commons)
Those are our favorites, but there are many more. Just a few rules:
- Remember to read the attribution requirements carefully, as blogging often requires photographer attribution.
- Google images are not free for the taking.
- Even if you have an in-house photographer, it's appropriate to attribute his or her work.
Just a few extra moments of time can strategically improve the impact of your writing, and help cater to the attention span of your readers.
A few months ago we started a series of blog posts regarding the huge importance of ultilizing blogging as part of your website and search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. We're following up today with an answer to a question we frequently receive:
Where do I get content for my blog?
There are a few sources for great content, and unfortunately lots of sources for bad content. It's highly important that sites that provide "spun content" or key-word stuffed blogs are avoided. These not only are detected almost upon first glance by your readers, but can also harm your site ranking. Google gives preference to sites that have authentic and valuable content. Avoid cheap, easy methods of site ranking. If you have more questions about the many ways that black-hat (overly aggressive and often unethical SEO can harm your site) drop us an email to help devise a better plan.
Now that we have that out of the way, let's discuss great ways to find content!
Here are some of our favorites!
- Case studies
Take an example of a client for whom you provided a service. Chances are, there are multiple other clients out there with the same question or situation that needs to be addressed. Case in point? If you have assisted a dog with a seasonal allergy with high success, post before/afters and a brief description of ailment and treatment. Leave the high-level medical lingo aside--and remember to write at a level of approximately an 8th grader. (Remember our article here?) Provide a way for your clients to contact you with ease.
- Business Events
Have an upcoming open house? Participating in a local community event? These are fabulous ways to provide details, content about event, and give your clients a way to connect with you in person. Additionally, any philanthropic events help you connect at an even more respected level. An event gives you an opportunity for at least three touch points: Prior to event, day of event, and follow up. Don't let these opportunities elude you!
- Seasonal Information
How do the seasons affect your business? Can you highlight a different product or service based upon the time of year? Do it, and provide a reason for your recommendations. Additionally, provide contact info and/or source of obtaining the discussed items/service.
- Guest authors
Do you have a strategic relationship with another company? For example, if you're a dentist who refers clients to a trusted orthodontist, or a veterinarian to refers to a specialist in chiropractic or oncology, give the referred partner space on your blog. This is a spectacular way to contribute to increased SEO rankings for one another, in addition to getting quality content. Don't forget to link to the referred partner's website!
......Hire professional copywriters.
There are many wonderfully skilled writers out there. A specialized segment of them have additional SEO certifications that can provide you a double-bonus when placing content on the web. We are fortunate to have skilled writers as part of our team at Saris Web Design/Saris Media. With just a few brief questions regarding the article you would like to generate, they are able to write impactful, pillar content that makes you look good, and also focus on the career that you have, saving your time and opportunity cost.
Happy writing (and blogging!)
In 2013, L2 Research conducted a study to analyze the social media presence and performance of 250 businesses in five different categories. Researchers and online entrepreneurs alike were surprised to discover that businesses with an active presence on Instagram had engagement rates 25 percent better than other social media platforms. If you don't have an Instagram for Business, you are missing a huge opportunity to engage people with your brand.
Before you get started on the site, take the time to review the Instagram for Business page and learn more about best practices. The website provides a platform for you to share photos and video of your company's brand and the opportunity to pick up thousands, possibly millions, of new followers. However, it requires a smart social media strategy just like any other site.
There is so much conversation about the importance of content presence these days. So much so, that we are taking time out for a four part series on "Blogging: Mission Critical".
We've been fortunate to be a contributing author to Midwest Veterinary Supply via their site and print publications regarding website concepts that are truly important to veterinary site owners. However, many of these important concepts also translate to other business owners, as well. (See our June publication with them here: http://goo.gl/pbuEpW )
Today, let's take a moment to discuss why blogging is critical to your website presence.
One need look no further than what Google, itself, says on its webmaster page in response to a question regarding what makes a Google Friendly Site:
Give visitors the information they're looking for
Source of that content found here: http://goo.gl/mlRhu0
So, if Google, who sets all of the algorithms for SEO and all things page ranking tells you exactly what is critical, and quite frankly, lists content as the first item of what is important, it's pretty advisable to follow.
Where to begin?
The task may seem daunting. And perhaps, conversely, can appear first to be deceptively simple before the daunting part sets in. The advice that we can give here, and often is reiterated by the web-o-sphere and colleagues, is to set a goal, and stick to it. Initially, it's very simple to think, "I'll blog every day!". Truly, that works for approximately 3-4 days, but it's way too difficult of a schedule to maintain. Better plan? Pick a schedule, whether 1x per week, 2x per month, or monthly and execute and follow through. In a previous post of ours we talked about visiting the dusty museum (read here!)--is that how you wish Google to view your site? By setting even a simple schedule, 2x per month for new blog articles to appear, you'll have added ~26 pages of NEW CONTENT to your site by the end of a year. That's achievable and beneficial.
In the next three articles, we'll discuss: How to get Content, How to Enhance content, and Sharing Content, all as pieces of this very critical piece of your web marketing and SEO strategy.
Making a professional looking site can be an expensive investment; design software can lead into several hundred dollars and with graphics, video and animation software, it can add up rapidly. There are numerous ways you can find yourself saving money on website building and here are a few tips to help keep your costs down and more money in your pocket. Going it "on your own", while initially may seem like a good idea, may only lead to frustration and $ spent that didn't get you the response you'd hoped. How can you have a professional looking site, and still not break the bank?
Content Is Still King
Planning your site close to your target audience will help you choose the right keywords and phrases for SEO purposes, and is necessary to drive visitors to your site through search engines and other authors. The more details that you provide to your designer the most relevant and successful it will be in reaching your target audience. Researching the cost of building a website is a best practice because many times the price quotes are very high for flashy web designs and catchy animations that will never be the cause that drives visitors to your website. It is an easy mistake to make and is made often. Remember, content is king and its main focus should be on copywriting and marketing. Don't feel like you're a writer? Copywriters can effectively and efficiently sum up what you want to say, driving a message to your target client.
What's Your Flavor?
As with any business, planning, strategy and knowing your target audience is as important online as it is offline. Whether you want to get in touch with your artistic side or leave it up to the professionals, saving money on web design is out there; sometimes you just need to be a bit more creative or think outside the box. Know who you are, your vision and your mission, so that your designer can fully develop an understanding of what your message is that you want to present to the world.
From the beginning, include MOBILE in your strategy
People are on the “go”. In fact, from our research and comparative studies, we’re finding 40-60% of users are consuming site date via mobile devices. Plan from the beginning of your site strategy to have a mobile version in place—this will save you dollars down the road.
Questions on this? We're happy to help! We offer multiple solutions for a variety of budgets, without sacrificing in caputuring the essence of your business. Drop us a line!
TED--"Riveting talks by remarkable people".
If you haven't added this to your daily (or maybe weekly) perusal of content, please consider it. Numerous topics, amazing speakers and content that will stick with you beyond typical video content that may be beckoning your attention at any given moment.
This past week, one really caught my attention--perhaps due to being a mom, perhaps in working in an educational sector, and of course, in working in the business sector.
This video is amazing. Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth discusses predictors of academic and professional success--and guess what? It's not money, it's not IQ--it's GRIT. Yes--it's the perseverance, passion and stamina, and a somewhat unquantifiable character that truly provide effective indicators.
How does this apply to web/social media? There are no easy answers and quick passes to 'go'. It takes hard work, knowledge and a passion for conveying your message.
Be inspired....find your path, be gritty.
Photo credit: Dirt Steps by Peter Griffin
Working in technology, we are always tossing around jargon, acronyms and vocabulary that may not be the most user-friendly. Additionally, some of these terms become "commonplace" prior to them having a broad, market-wide opportunity to make themselves fully known. On occasion, we'd like to highlight some of these terms....
Software as a service, or SaaS is a distribution model for software in which applications are hosted by a vendor or service provider and made available to customers over the internet. With this distribution model, the software is basically hosted on the cloud. The software is accessed by the users by using a thin client on a web browser. Many business have begun to use software as a service especially office and messaging software, management software, CAD software, accounting, human resource management, and more. By utilizing SaaS, a company can reduce IT support costs by outsourcing their software to the provider of SaaS. In more recent years, sales of SaaS have multiplied and reached the billions. Software as a service is considered to be part of cloud computing.
The software used for SAAS has no need for physical distribution since there are no physical materials. The software can be sent almost immediately since it utilizes cloud computing. Commonly a monthly fee or a discounted annual fee is used. The initial cost is usually lower than the same enterprise software. SaaS software is usually priced based on the number of people using the application.
Since the cost for setting up a customer is relatively low, many of these applications offer a solution that is an alternative to traditional software. The prices are competitively cheaper and many times provide much better, more reliable applications. SaaS offers many benefits. For one, it has a much easier administration. All updates are automatic, so users don’t have to worry about getting a new version of the software. The software is also universally compatible, as all users have the same version of the software. Also, there is global accessibility--people from all corners of the world can access the software. This type of software is becoming much more prominent and for many people, is the main type of service that many people use. Cloud computing is becoming the wave of the future, and will soon replace physical software.
How does this apply to you? Many of the forms of software that you've grown accustomed to are now cloud based, i.e. Microsoft Office products now have a full line of in the cloud products. Additionally, Google has had a huge impact on this market with Drive, Docs, etc. Essentially, you can work from anywhere, from any device, and access all of your files within moments. Many forms of software that you used to have to pay for outright now are available to you at this monthly subscription fee--which really benefits you as a consumer, as you will always have the most current version of the software, and priced as we stated above, but monthly.
We work with some of the best networking at IT specialists in the Minneapolis/St. Paul geographic area. Looking for a reference or to apply some SaaS options? Let us know....we can point you to some great solutions!