What’s New for Seattle SEO in 2015

Marketing your website can be a big deal, especially when you’re trying to do so on a limited budget. SEO is usually the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of web marketing, but unfortunately, many people know surprisingly little about it, that it can change frequently, or that techniques which helped your site last month might actually hurt your website this month. SEO trends can vary a great deal depending on which search engine you’re marketing to, but the following include general rules for new SEO trends in 2015. If you need more help, consider hiring or asking a Seattle SEO expert.

SEO-2015

Keywords are Out But Not All the Way

In 2011, a 4% keyword density was the thing for putting you on the top of search. Fortunately, that trend is completely over and you no longer have to worry about percentages and keyword volume. But that doesn’t mean that you can ignore keywords completely. You still have to give Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines a good idea of what you’re talking about. A good rule of thumb is to use keywords as naturally as possible, only using them when you would without paying attention. You can also use Google’s SKTOOL to find a series of related keywords, you can use a thesaurus (Or just google) to find synonyms of your keyword, and then mix up phrasing and word usage. Keep in mind that your grammar and spelling should always be accurate.

Back End Optimization is More Important Than Ever

Back end optimization is often overlooked by many quick sell SEO companies, and their products and services rarely drive results. Back end optimization includes making sure that your website is search friendly, creating site maps, using appropriate meta tags, and so on.

Unique Content is Necessary to Rank

Another very important thing to consider about modern SEO is that if your content is not unique, you will not rank. This means that not only do you have to write 100% unique content for your pages, you also have to avoid doing any previously good techniques like spinning the article to post on other sites.

Quality Over Quantity

Good grammar, great spelling, informative content, and content longer than 350 words are all more likely to rank than throwing up a dozen small posts with no attention to detail. All search engines are now creating grammar and helpfulness metrics, which means that you have to start paying attention to content, quality, and readability. In some cases, this may mean paying for a professional writer.

Stop Link Farming

Whether you’re putting up guest posts, commenting with links back to your website, or adding your website to every directory you can get your hands on, just stop. It’s not helping you, and in fact, in enough quantity, it may even get you blacklisted. Instead, consider creating guest posts for the sole purpose of driving people to your website. If you don’t think the users will click through and follow it, then the link is worthless.

SEO is changing a lot, and whether you’re trying to market to a local Seattle audience, or aiming for something a little larger, it is important to follow the rules. Paying attention and keeping up to date with new rules is the only way to rank, unless you want to hire a professional Seattle SEO team to handle it for you.

Seattle SMM Tips: Do Share Campaigns Really Work?

If you spend any amount of time on social media, but especially Facebook, then you’re going to see a share campaign. Usually, these campaigns go along the lines of “Like and share this post and our page to win this item”. Or, if on Twitter, “Retweet and Favorite this post, and Follow our channel to win this item”. These share campaigns are popular, offer a reward in exchange for a behavior by a consumer, and are frequent across almost all types of social media. If you run a social media page for your business, you might be wondering if you should do the same thing, and what, if anything they will do for you. The following include tips from a professional Seattle SMM (Social Media Marketing) company, explaining exactly what share campaigns are, what they can do, and why you might want one.

What Can a Share Campaign Do?

The main goal of any share campaign is usually to build followers. No matter which social platform you’re on, the share campaign is aimed at reaching more people to build an audience of interested persons. Share campaigns can:

  • Increase page followers
  • Increase page visibility
  • Boost your social ranking
  • Boost exposure
  • Increase traffic to a website
  • Create leads
  • Create signups

Negatives of Share Campaigns

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Unfortunately, while you can build an audience with a share campaign, it isn’t going to be up to the same quality as a natural audience. Because many people will try to win things, even if they won’t consider buying them, not all of your new followers will even be interested in your product or service. Second, many people who participate in share campaigns just want free things, which means that some of your new followers may drop off in the weeks and months after your campaign ends. Furthermore, many of them will not want to buy your product. Therefore, while share campaigns can drive massive amounts of publicity, they won’t necessarily make you any money.

Pros of Share Campaigns

Share campaigns are the single easiest way to get your product a lot of exposure and quickly. Whether you’re offering a small prize or a big one, the more people who share your product, the more people who will see it. The more valuable your prize, the more people who will share it. So, essentially, if you have 1,000 people on your channel, and 30 of them share it, and 2 of each of their friends share it, and so on, you can quickly generate a large amount of shares within a relatively short amount of time. Because the average person has roughly 100 friends, give or take, this can quickly add up to a lot of exposure.

Share campaigns are not advantageous for everyone, especially if you’re operating on a very local basis, or have something that most people won’t buy because of a giveaway. For example, if you have a shoe store with a very specific type of shoes that no one else has, doing a share campaign can get you an audience, and can get people interested in sales. If you are a gardener giving away free fertilizer, then you can use a share campaign to bring people to your page, so that you can market to them later in order to push sales.

Will a social share campaign benefit you? The best route is usually to discuss your expectations and your needs with a local Seattle social media manager or marketer to see what they recommend.

Why You Should Hold a Kickoff Meeting With Your Seattle Web Development Team

Whether you’re hiring your first web development team or hiring someone to make small updates to your existent content, they will probably offer you a kickoff meeting (if they don’t, go find another developer). While it may seem like a waste of your time to get together and have a meeting with your web developer, after all, some people hire international rather than local Seattle web developers, there are a couple of pretty convincing reasons why you should take them up on the offer and attend the meeting.

What is a Kickoff Meeting

A kickoff meeting is exactly what it sounds like, it’s a meeting where you go over initial design ideas, tell your web developers what you want, and if you’re lucky, they will show you any preliminary ideas. This sort of meeting can be done over the web if you’re short on time, but you can also show up to get to meet your designers, and they can meet you to get a better feel for who you are and what you might want. Some developers will want to host the meeting in your place of business so that they can get an idea of what your business is like as well, which is helpful when creating a design.

What Should You Discuss with Your Web Designers

A great kickoff meeting will allow you to discuss your needs, desires, and requirements for the product. In return, web designers will discuss product viability, feasibility, budget, time constraints, and any preliminary options for the site. You’ll cover topics like your brand, your core products, your product purpose, and most importantly, getting everyone involved to submit ideas, suggestions, and other information which might be helpful for creating a finalized idea of what you want your website to be.

Seattle web design meeting

Preparing for your Kickoff Meeting

While your web developer should do most of the prep work for the kickoff meeting, you can make sure that you are prepared by bringing along ideas of what you want your site to look like, lists of requirements, timelines, and items such as crucial elements of your website. If you have a separate web designer, then you’ll want to bring them along to the kickoff meeting as well so that they can work with the developer, but most development teams include design in the package.

Other than that, you really just have to set up a time and a place, and then start talking to your web developers about what you want and need in a site. From there, they can decide which direction you want to go, get a better idea of the feel of your company, and choose an appropriate direction, so that you get a website you truly love. A good kickoff meeting sets the stage for a whole project, and the ability to hold them is actually one of the reasons why you should choose a local Seattle web development team, rather than choosing one in Austin, Texas.

Want to know more? Contact Rory Martin to discuss your web development needs.

How Seattle Social Media Management Can Help You With Your 2015 Business Goals

Whether you’ve set sales goals or customer goals, chances are that you want to grow your business for 2015. For many businesses, that may involve identifying new demographics to market to, spending thousands on costly radio or roadside ads, and hoping that consumers will come in. For others, it means appealing to a different kind of consumer by hiring a Seattle social media management company to run a campaign to boost sales. If you’re wondering how that works, let’s discuss what you get.

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Professional Marketing Plans and Strategies

Whether you want to increase your consumer base or drive actual sales, a social media marketing team can help you do it. When you first hire the team, they will sit down with you to discuss your options, various strategies, and specifics such as offers and promotions that they may want to use as part of the campaign. Then, they will design a campaign around your needs, your budget, and your time constraints, to create a marketing plan that will drive you the consumers and sales that you want within the set time period. Because planning and strategy are most of what’s responsible for a successful campaign, this is essential for reaching your target number of consumers or sales.

Local Knowledge

You know one part of your local customer database, a professional Seattle social team knows most or all of it. They also know the online areas and hotspots where they can best market your business, know local hashtags, know pages and websites where they can promote you, and know how to reach your intended audience. The largest reason that many small businesses fail on social media is an inability to reach their target audience, and with a professional company, you completely avoid this problem.

Why hire a Social Media Management Company?

When you hire a Seattle Social Media management company to come in and take over or create your social media accounts, you’re hiring a professional to market, manage, and quality check for you. You’re also getting the advantage of a trained team of professionals who know how to market, who know how to create sales plans, and who have pushed hundreds of thousands of consumers and likes in the past. While you could hire a full time social media manager for your company, this only works if you need a full time manager, and if you’re ready to pay the often high costs associated with a quality manager. Sure you could pay anyone minimum wage to do it, but they would not have any of the marketing experience or acumen that comes with hiring a professional.

Social media is a great way to reach a nearly unlimited audience, or to reach a very select target audience in your local neighborhood depending on your plans. A Seattle social media management team can help you to get in touch with that audience, and to convert them into customers using marketing strategies and offers. If you want to know more, schedule a meeting or call us to discuss your needs, or visit our Whitepapers to see how we’ve helped other local Seattle businesses.

Seattle Web Development: Do You Need Mobile Web?

Seattle Web Development: Do You Need Mobile Web?

If you’ve been looking around for a website designer then you’ve probably heard or seen the term ‘mobile web’ a few times. If you’ve been reading up on what your website should and should not have on a blog then you’ve probably heard it more than a few times. The mobile web is a vast and confusing place if you’re new to the world of web development, but, whether you have an existing website or you’re planning on hiring a local Seattle web developer to build one for you, you’re probably only wondering one thing about the mobile web, do you need it?

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What is the Mobile Web?

The mobile web is technically any part of the web designed for mobile use. For the most part, that means websites and menus which resize or adjust or are sized properly for phones and tablets. Because traditional websites are often too big to display properly, or display so small that it is impossible to read or select the menus comfortably, the mobile web makes using the web easier.

Do You Have Mobile Traffic?

If you already have a website, then the easiest way to see if a mobile website could benefit you is to check your mobile traffic. If you have any analytics program (the free version from Google will do the trick), you can easily check to see which percentage of your visitors visit on a browser vs. a tablet or phone. Some will even tell you the specific devices such as Samsung Galaxy or iPhone that you’re getting your traffic from.

If you don’t have a website or don’t have analytics (or don’t know how to use your analytics) then you can also go by general statistics. Right now, mobile usage is trending upwards, more than 60% of users research shops, restaurants, and stores on their phone before visiting them, and more than 70% of consumers research products and cross compare them on their phone before purchasing. Essentially, if you sell products, have a store, or have anything that users may want to research online first, then the mobile web could directly impact your sales.

What Are My Options?

There are multiple options for anyone who wants to have a website that’s compatible with the mobile web, but sometimes the best thing to do is to talk to your Seattle web developer about your needs and your site first. Some websites work well with mobile websites set up separately, although these do have their issues with search engine optimization and duplicate content. You can set your website to automatically re-direct to your mobile version whenever someone logs on from a mobile device. You can also have your web designer set up a responsive web desing that resizes based on your visitors, but this isn’t always ideal.

Do you want to talk about which mobile web option is best for your website? Try talking to one of the professional Seattle web developers at Rory Martin before you make your decision.

Seattle SEO Tips – Quality is the Most Important Ranking Factor

 SEO has come a long way in the past few years, and whether your Seattle SEO specializes in Google or Bing, times have definitely changed. Four years ago you could upload a post with a 4% keyword density and 100 backlinks and expect it to skyrocket to the top of search, but today, that same tactic is far more likely to have you tagged as spam and possibly even blacklisted by most major search engines. Google and Bing both now focus on quality as an important ranking factor, and many of them immediately rank the largest sites first (which is bad news for the little guys).

If you’re still posting your blogs on WordPress and blogger sites with links back to the original, paying for funnel websites, or creating thousands of links back to your site, you’re definitely making a mistake. The following include a few rules for Seattle businesses to live by when handling their SEO.

Pretend Google Doesn’t Exist

Or Bing. First things first, if you wouldn’t do something in terms of link creation or adding words without thinking of a search engine, you shouldn’t when thinking of a search engine either. Both Google and Bing are looking for quality in terms of keywords and links, and natural is the way to go.

Think Like a Reader

If you’re writing a blog or a website page and you’re thinking like you’re trying to sell to someone, then you’re thinking the wrong way. Instead, think about the reader experience as you go through the page. You should design your text, the quality of the text, and the number of links on the page based on how you think a user or reader would feel about it. Search Engine Land recommends reading the newspaper and deciding where you would put links, and see how they wrote content, to get the hang of writing for readers.

Put Quality First

Quality is your most important goal, for both links and on-page content. That means writing well-written sentences, using a spelling and grammar check, and proofreading everything. You want to have shorter paragraphs of no more than five sentences, and unless you’re targeting a highly educated audience, a fifth grade reading level. Make your content easy to read, and make sure that it is very easy to tell what it is about, without excessively repeating keywords. Think the same way with links. Try to accumulate them for their readership and activity rather than their PR (public PR is mostly irrelevant now as Google probably will not be updating the toolbar any further). If you put up guest posts or links, do so only with the idea that you want the readers to visit your site, and not for Google or Bing.

Want to know more about how to run a quality SEO campaign? Consider asking one of the expert Seattle social media managers at Rory Martin to help you handle your SEO, or to create a strategy for you. SEO optimization is more than just links and keywords, and hiring a professional can help you rank with the best of your competitors.

What’s the Difference Between Web Design and Web Development?

If you’re getting ready to hire a Seattle web design or development company to create your website, then it is important to know the difference between them. While many business owners often confuse the two, web design and web development are two different things, and depending on which you hire, will create vastly different outcomes. While some of the best Seattle website companies offer both, you should be able to distinguish between the two.

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What is Web Design

Web design is the visual element of a website. It includes your graphics, your layout, your branding, and usually a good part of your UX. Web designers are graphic artists and designers who specialize in creating websites. When you hire a web design company, you’re paying for someone to create the look and feel of your website as others will see it. Most of them then either work with a web developer to create a CMS and the back end code for your website, or use an existing CMS such as Joomla to skip the web developer. Things that a web designer may offer include page design, landing page design, brand analysis, website branding, lead generation forms, email marketing templates, and more.

What is Web Development

Web developers create the functionality behind your website, they also create the back end, where you can interact with your site, add content, and otherwise edit it. Web developers are code experts, and although some of them are also graphic editors and able to do web design as well as development, not all of them are. A web developer might create you a website, and then allow you to design the graphics, colors, and style yourself. Another might work with a web designer to hand you a complete website. Web development is programming rather than graphic design, and web development usually costs a great deal more than web design. However, if you don’t want to use a pre-existing CMS, then you do need a developer. Items that web developers offer include website design, ecommerce creation and integration, interface development, database management systems or integration, email marketing development, landing pages, form creation, and more.

Which Should You Choose?

Most of the time, you want a web team that handles both development and design. However, you can usually save money by hiring a web designer and using a pre-existing CMS like Joomla to power your site. In some cases, you may also want to stick with a developer. For example, if you’re creating a storefront that mostly just needs a banner header and focus on the products, rather than great design.

Essentially, depending on your website and your needs, you might need one, the other, or both. You can decide on your own which you need, or discuss your needs with a professional Seattle web developer to see what they recommend based on your budget, your goal website, and your needs. There are plenty of reasons to go either way, so your best bet is to talk it out with a professional and choose based on your needs.

Seattle Social Media Management: Social ROI

We’ve all seen posts and videos go viral on social media and make their owners thousands or in some cases, even millions. But, how does the return on investment of the web hold up for small, every day Seattle businesses who often have considerably less to spend on promotion and marketing. If you’re wondering whether Social Media Marketing even has an ROI, then you’ve probably never had a professionally managed social campaign. There are dozens of ways to make money off of social, but most small businesses just end up spending and sometimes wasting time on their social media. However, Social ROI does exist.

How Does Social ROI Work?

Social ROI, or return on investment, mostly results from sales generated through your social campaign. For the most part, this means that you have to use analytics and tracking to ascertain where you’re sales are coming from, how many click-through’s are coming through from your pages, and how many of those clicks are turning into sales. The easiest way to generate social revenue on a page with a lot of active followers is to post a discount code. When people use the discount code, you earn social revenue. For example, a restaurant shares an offer on their page where social users can show a coupon on their phone, or print it out, and come in to get free drinks. So, for example, if13 people come in with the coupon, you’ve generated 13 sales, even at a discount. If you offer a bring a friend or a referral discount, you can generate new customers. For example, if you offer a 30% discount to new likes to the page, new followers on Twitter, or to new email subscribers, you can create social revenue from entirely new customers who have never been to your business before. If you have a website with online items, driving sales becomes even easier, because you can build up a fan base who expect to see sales, promotions, and items that they want to buy.

How Do You Get There?

If you have a social media page of any kind then you know that there’s a big difference between ‘social ROI’ and getting there. Managing and growing a page is a lot of work, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. The trick is to be consistent, offer valuable information on your page in addition to sales and promotions, answer questions and be helpful, and add in a little interest through memes or photos. Growing a customer base organically isn’t always easy, but you can also direct old customers there and encourage them to post on your wall or leave a review, which means that others will see you.

Seattle’s social media managers have been creating a visible profit for local businesses for years, and there’s no reason why you can’t see the same benefits. Hiring a professional social management company gets you the benefit of a properly managed social channel, so that you can experience as much ROI as possible. If you want to know more about having a professional social media manager help your business, contact us today to discuss your needs, or your goals.

Is SEO Dead? A Guide for Seattle Businesses & Websites

If you’re into content or digital marketing then you probably use SEO, or at least plan to. SEO is one of the most popular forms of digital marketing, mainly because it offers a lot for what you pay. Rather than paying for what you get, like you do with PPC, you pay for a marketing strategy that could put you on top of search engine results for Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Unfortunately, time after time, we keep seeing articles with headlines reading some variation of “SEO is dead!”

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If you don’t work in the field of SEO, then you probably wouldn’t know any better than to believe it. After all, it’s on the Internet, right? Wrong, SEO is not dead. Search Engine Optimization will exist so long as there are search engines using algorithm and math based tools to find search results that match a keyword. That is actually the definition of SEO. Because we don’t imagine that search engines will have manually listed results to show when someone types in a search anytime soon, SEO is still alive and well.  You can still benefit from paying a Seattle SEO company to optimize your business, especially if you hire the right company.

Why Do People Say SEO is Dead?

One of the main reasons that you might keep seeing that SEO is dead is because SEO has undergone some very major changes in the past few years. By major changes, we mean that where two years ago, a couple of thousand links pointing back to your site might skyrocket you to the top of search, now it’s more likely to get you banned. And the same can be said of keyword stuffing, or the process of putting a percentage of keywords into your article (I.E. make “Seattle cupcakes” 2% of the article). These processes once worked, but they’ve been blacklisted on many search engines because they typically produce content that is spammy, irrelevant, and difficult to read. New SEO algorithms are more complex, harder to game, and offer better quality results. It also makes “SEO” harder for random people to get into selling a service and calling it optimization. So, scam SEO is dead. But actual optimization is still another thing entirely.

What Goes Into SEO?

If you want to know what actually goes into SEO and what you should be considering, we’d have to tell you, a lot. Google, the most popular search engine, uses over 300 signals in it’s algorithm, and most search engines have different algorithms. So there is a lot to consider. However, that’s one of the reasons why you probably want to hire a professional Seattle SEO company rather than winging it yourself. Some of the signals that search engines look for include quality, helpfulness, use of the keyword, a low exit rate, grammar, readability, site functionality, metadata, and even social signals.

Is that a lot to keep up with? Yes it is. Unfortunately, most search engines constantly change their algorithms, which means that policies, and strategies might be different tomorrow.

SEO is most definitely not dead, but many old ranking strategies are. That’s why you want to hire a professional SEO or digital marketing company that keeps up with changes, and offers you something that works, rather than a quick fix.

Seattle Web Design Tips: How to Tell Your Designer What You Really Want

Seattle Web Design Tips: How to Tell Your Designer What You Really Want

Communication between website owner and website designer has always been more than a little hazy, with the former often knowing what they want in theory without really knowing how to put that across in firm physical descriptions to designers. Most of the time “I want it to pop more” or “it should remind me of Pistachio ice cream” just isn’t going to cut it, unless you add more background information. Because even the best web designer can’t see your image, their idea of this thing could be something completely different then yours. So, here are a few of the best ways that Seattle web designers agree you can use to get across what you really want.

Make Sure They Know Your Business

If you hire a great Seattle web designer then the first thing they’re going to do is familiarize themselves with you and your business. If they haven’t and you’re not yet ready to switch designers, make sure you tell them about your ideals, business meaning, and anything else that they can use to recreate the feel of ‘who you are’ onto a website. Business branding requires personality, and you want to make sure that the web designer knows yours.

Share Concepts That You Like

If you take the time and go over a few websites or portfolio pieces with the web designer to let them know which styles and themes you  like and do not like, you stand a better chance of getting something that you love. While not every web designer wants to sit down and discuss their portfolio with you, it will definitely make sure that they go into creating the design with a good idea of which pieces you like.

Create Reasons For Changes

When you ask for changes try going into detail as to why. If you’re not familiar with graphic design or terminology, that’s okay, just use normal language and say why you want it to look different in your language. For example, rather than saying “it should pop more” say “I think that some of the colors should be brighter, I want it to stand out a little bit more, and grab attention”, and then explain why. Discussing your needs with your Seattle web designer allows them to do their job.

Discuss What You Want

If you don’t know what you want, then you probably want to either sit down and talk it out with the designer, or work it out before finding a designer. Unfortunately, you can waste a lot of time and money looking for the perfect website if you don’t yet know what that website is. So, get a good idea of what it is you want from your website, and then after a discussion with a designer or developer, get into the web project knowing exactly what you want. This ensures that you get what you want, and you won’t have to do multiple revisions or eventually completely scrap the project.

Hiring a Seattle web designer is a big deal but by communicating openly, sharing ideas, and making sure everyone is on the same page, you can ensure that you get a website you love.

© Copyright © 2012 Rory Martin Inc.
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