10 Red Flags of a Shady SEO Provider

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Search Engine Optimization has been a buzzword for several years. Even people who may not know exactly what SEO is know it’s important in order to appear on the first page of Google. Because it is a rather convoluted conversation, many business owners stick to what they know, and hire a company to do SEO for them. Unfortunately there are several companies who take advantage of the complexity of it and may not be fully transparent in their actions. From giving the business owner wrong or bad advice to not following through on promised services, here are ten signs your SEO provider may not be legit.

 

  1. Producing Duplicate or Low Quality Content: Duplicate content is a big SEO no-no. However, some companies will copy and paste the same copy and simply swap out keywords in order to save themselves time and effort. No bueno.
  1. Lazy Tactics: Cramming all of your keywords into a title page and/or Meta keywords is just lazy and outdated. The SEO process takes more thought than that. 
  1. Blogs Only: There is so much more to SEO than blogging. Yes, blogging is one tactic in an overall strategy, but only focusing on blogs will not get you the desired results.

 

  1. Promises of a Low Bounce Rate: Depending on the website and its calls to action, the lowest bounce rate may not be your ultimate goal. For example, if you are urging people to call, a low bounce rate shows they are taking a long time to convert. Whereas if there is a high bounce rate, this could mean your customers are quickly converting and then leaving the site. If your SEO provider promises to drastically lower your bounce rate, you should ask them how they are doing it. There are companies that do it artificially by adding a script that pings Google Analytics, versus optimizing the content on the website.

 

  1. Al La Carte Services: SEO is an overall strategy that is broken up into several tactics, including copywriting, authoritative link building, Meta keywords, and more. These tactics work best when all done together. If an SEO company is giving you an option to choose one or the other, reconsider.

 

  1. Promised Outcomes: Google’s algorithms change with the wind. New businesses come into the market every day. Businesses change their strategies frequently. There are a lot of variables when it comes to organic listings, which is why nobody can guarantee rankings. If your SEO provider promised you the number one spot on a search engine results page, walk away.

 

  1. Cheap Services: SEO is a service that requires a human. It cannot be automated. And paying a real person to do real work is not cheap. This is very much a “you get what you pay for” service.

 

  1. Setup Fees: Because SEO is a manual task, not an automated one, there is nothing that needs to be “set up.” If a company tries to charge you a setup fee, ask them what it includes. A lot of research goes into an SEO project and providers will try to recoup the time by adding this extra fee. Or it is a possibility that they are just charging you extra money because they can. Either way, setup fees are something worth inquiring about.

 

  1. No Analytics Access: If your SEO provider set up Google Analytics, but won’t give you access, that is a huge red flag. And vice versa. If you already have analytics set up and your new provider doesn’t ask for access, buh-bye. How can they know what is going on with your website if they aren’t monitoring the website analytics?!

 

  1. No Monthly Reporting: R&M does offer quarterly reporting options for a client with a smaller budget, but monthly reporting is always recommended when it comes to SEO. Because there are constant tweaks being made and the organic listings atmosphere is frequently changing, it is beneficial to be able to see the continual progress.

 

If you are working with an SEO company and you noticed one or more of these red flags, cut your losses. Robmark Web has been Savannah’s top SEO company since 2008 and we pride ourselves on staying up on the latest trends and being fully transparent when it comes to our actions, access, reporting, and billing. Your success is our success.

Reviews Trump Testimonials in 2016

Google Reviews

A lot of pieces of the local marketing puzzle moved around in 2015. For example, Google’s 7-pack shrank to 3 and Google+ removed location information, marking two of the biggest recent changes in this arena. Until Google makes additional changes, right now, your business listing’s Knowledge Box and Google Maps are the only places where your business information, including reviews, is shown.

Reviews have always been important, especially when it comes to potential customers. And now that Google has purged information from the listings, including the business description, categories, and photos, all you’re left with is your business name, basic contact information, and reviews. This means the importance of these reviews has increased, so much so that it may be time to rethink your review/testimonial strategy.

Customers want to see unbiased, honest reviews on a third-party site, not hand-picked testimonials. Have you ever looked at your website analytics to find activity on your site’s Testimonial page? If you have one, it is most likely one of the least-visited pages on your entire website. Consumers want to read the good with the bad and gather enough information about a company to make a decision themselves.

That being said, instead of a testimonials page, we suggest a reviews page that links to various off-site reviews, including Google Reviews as well as other sites your customers may frequent. For example, restaurant-goers are more likely to use Yelp, while those reviewing a medical facility are likely to use Healthgrades.

Keep in mind that Yelp frowns upon direct links to a listing page. However, by conducting a Google search for “[your business] Yelp” and using that SERP URL as the link, you are putting the Yelp reviews on a platter for the user without sending them directly there, and Yelp sees it as the visit coming from an organic search.

Now your Reviews page is a wealth of useful information that a customer can appreciate. Having these links also makes it easier for customers to leave reviews. It’s a win-win!

Apple Maps to Crowdsource Business Listings

Apple Maps Connect

Apple’s map and navigation app has run into troubled waters over the last few years due to poor performance and strong competition from other apps such as the Google Maps app. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, has promised to work “nonstop” until it is the best map app out there, and even wrote an open letter apologizing for the lack of performance back in 2012. With that being said, fast-forward to today, and Apple Maps is still a bit of a disappointment.

It’s no secret that Google rules the realm of business listings, and Apple is desperately trying to keep up. So much so that the company is turning to you, the small business owner, for help. Apple has recently rolled out a new self-service data entry portal, Apple Maps Connect, which will assist business owners in uploading their business information to create an Apple Maps business listing.

Crowdsourcing this information is a win for both parties. Apple gets the data it wants and needs, while the business owner gets full control of a free business listing that will help drive consumers to their doorstep. If your company is already listed on Apple Maps, you will still be able to have control and edit when needed. The Apple Maps lists will not only show the street address, but will also provide the web address and links to the business’s social media accounts, including Yelp.

Business owners can reap several benefits of having properly optimized and verified local listings. Robmark Web assists local businesses in Savannah and the surrounding areas in setting up and managing local listings across multiple platforms, including Apple Maps, Google Local, Bing, Yelp, Manta, and more. If you are interested in creating new listings or claiming existing listings, please call 912-921-1040.

What Is The Best Digital Channel For Local Businesses?

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When it comes to local businesses, generating leads is a case of “work smarter, not harder.” There is very little time or money available to waste on avenues that do not generate any return on investment (ROI). That being said, which digital channels generate the most traffic and provide the most ROI for local businesses?

BrightLocal, a SEO software company, ran a survey with the objective of better understanding which digital channels take the most time and effort, and which ones deliver the greatest return, with hope that these findings could help local businesses make better-informed decisions about where to allocate their marketing time and budget.

Quality Leads
According to the survey, Organic and Local Search deliver the highest quality leads, followed by Direct Traffic and Google AdWords, which has seen an increase in quality leads from 2014. It isn’t much of a surprise that Search—Organic or Local—holds the number one spot, since they both have the advantage of attracting customers who are considered “high intent” and are already engaged in the purchase process, which means they are more likely to convert to a sale.

Direct Traffic also brings in high-quality leads because it is often comprised of returning customers or consumers who are already familiar with the business. This signifies appreciation or trust, which improves conversions drastically.

Social channels, though business owners are spending a reasonable amount of time optimizing them, aren’t delivering high-quality leads. However, social channels have proven valuable as engagement and communication tools used ideally to build brand affinity.

ROI
The survey’s findings for ROI are very similar to the findings for quality leads; Local and Organic Search prove to have the highest ROI compared to all other digital marketing channels. Though it does take time and money to develop a well-established, long-lasting presence in Local and Organic Search, businesses are getting out of it what they put in.

Website Traffic
Aside from quality leads and ROI, the survey took website traffic into consideration, as well, and according to the survey, Local Search was the leading traffic source. Local Search beat out Organic Search in the amount of website traffic by 6 percent, which is a 4 percent increase over last year. Local Search gives small and midsize businesses the opportunity to compete against larger brands and websites on the search engine results pages, however, the Local Search real estate is much smaller than the organic listings, especially since Google’s recent switch from seven local results to three.

Local Search has proved to be the winner of the title ‘Best Digital Channel for a Local Business’ with Organic Search as a close runner-up. Local Search drives traffic to your website, develops quality leads, and gives you the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to return on investment.

Robmark Web has experienced SEO specialists on staff who are able to work with local businesses on developing their Local and Organic Search presence. If you are interested in a local SEO consultation, call (912) 921-1040.

Your Company’s Domain Name Matters

Chossing a Domain Name

When starting a business, naming the company is somewhat a game of the chicken or the egg; which came first, the company name or the domain name? When considering a name for your company, you want something easy to remember that also describes the business, which is the same as a domain name. Easy enough, right? But, what happens when the name you picked isn’t available as a domain name? As of March 31, 2015, there are 294 million registered domain names, with registrations growing 6.5% every year. This means available online real estate is quickly decreasing, forcing entrepreneurs to choose more unique domain names to prevent stepping over any legal lines. When considering a domain name for your business there are several aspects you need to consider, including availability, the attractiveness, the ability to pronounce, SEO rank-ability, and extensions.

First, crosscheck your company’s name across the Internet, including on social media platforms, to make sure no one else is using it. It’s also important to consider cyber-squatters. Cyber-squatters register pre-established domain names across different extensions to profit off of the traffic. Established companies should consider buying popular misspellings of their brand, as well as different extensions to avoid cyber-squatters.

Next, you should consider the impression you want to give. New companies can opt for a branded domain, which could give some indication on what the company does, like Travelocity. Or, you can tap into human curiosity and go with something less direct, but easy to remember, like Kayak. Keep in mind that Millennials and Baby Boomers are attracted to different things so it is important to consider your demographic when coming up with a domain or company name.

According to Nielsen research, 84% of consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations above all advertising. Think short and catchy, something easy to pronounce. The days of keyword-rich domain names are no more. Not only does Google prioritize shorter URLs, but also users are more likely to refer to companies with catchy names that are easy to spell and don’t require hyphens.

Though .com is still the number one choice for a domain extension, there are now generic top-level domains that can help companies describe their service, such as .travel. Not only could this help describe your service, but also it can add some personalization and make it stand out in the industry. Remember when Overstock.com switched to O.co?

Buying a domain name is the first step in building a brand. Start your entrepreneurial journey on the right foot by considering the above. Need assistance choosing a domain name? Robmark Web’s team of SEO specialists and website designers are happy to assist you in finding the perfect fit.

Google Unleashes Panda 4.2

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Over the last 10 months, whenever anything happened on Google, it was speculated that it was the effect of the long-awaited Panda update. However, it wasn’t until last week that Google officially unleashed the newest update.

The launch of Panda 4.2 is slowly rolling-out and has reportedly affected about 2-3% of English-speaking queries. This update means anyone affected by Panda in the last update has a chance to re-emerge, if they have made the appropriate changes. This also means another opportunity to be penalized if you’re still not following the rules. Since Panda 4.2 is rolling out slowly, no drastic changes will be seen, but rather a gradual change in the listings.

The original Panda algorithm update launched in February 2011 in an effort to remove low-quality content from top listings on the Search Engine Result Pages and affected nearly 12% of English-speaking sites. There have been several updates to Panda over the years—some have been announced, and some have not. Have you seen any changes in your rankings since the new update?