How to Use Search Marketing to Boost Site Traffic – Seattle SEO Tips

Any Seattle business with a web presence is most likely already using at least some form of search optimization, whether just for Google, or for all major search engines. SEO is a great way to build your traffic by making tweaks to help search engines see and rank your content. But, one thing traditional SEO often leaves out is making that content appeal to the reader as well as to the search engine, and that’s where search marketing comes in. Because it doesn’t matter how many impressions your page gets if it’s not getting hits.


What is Search Marketing?

Search marketing is the process of making your content, landing pages, and web pages more appealing to visitors, so that they want to click through on the page, and so that they read it all the way down, spend some time there, and possibly even buy something.

How Does Search Marketing Work

Where SEO is all about tweaking the back end of your site, and using keywords and phrases to tell search engines what you’re talking about, search marketing is all about content. Everything, from photos and videos to the title and meta description counts, and it’s very important.
Titles – Titles help Google find your content, but they also have to be clickable. This usually means keeping your title under 60 characters so the whole thing shows up in search, avoiding click bait titles, but making the title informative and intriguing. This can be a difficult balance to achieve, and if you’re trying to decide between intriguing or informative, always go for informative.
Meta Description – A lot of people skip the meta description since Google’s announcement that they don’t really use it in search ranking anymore, but this is a bad idea. Curating the content for your meta description allows you to control what readers see in search before they clip. Google automatically previews the first few lines of the page, these lines aren’t often very inductive to clicking, and might include a repeat of the title. Use meta descriptions to write a short description, and to tell people what they will learn after clicking. Just don’t give them so information that they don’t have to click.
Content – Content is king of search marketing, but it doesn’t have to be written content. Any content, including audio, video, photos, and text are all great, so long as you include keywords, metadata with searchable information, and a searchable description. A combination of different types of media is always a good way to go. Your content should be high quality, aimed at the reader rather than Google or Bing, and only really mention keywords when they naturally fall into the topic. You can use keywords in titles and subtitles as well, but make it natural, and use stop words like of, the, and to when naturally included in the topic.
Optimizing your pages for your visitors, rather than just for Google, is always a great idea, because it improves every aspect of your search marketing. When your pages are optimized for users, your click-through rate goes up, your bounce rate goes down, and these factors both boost your search optimization.

If you want to learn more about search marketing, contact Rory Martin, a local Seattle SEO company, for a free estimate on your search project.


Should You Be Designing Your Websites Primarily for Mobile Browsers? – Seattle Web Design Tips

It’s almost common knowledge that mobile search is becoming more important than desktop search as users ditch clunky PCs and laptops that they don’t really use in favor of fast, portable tablets and phones. While computers will never be completely outdated, many consumers simply don’t use them for things that can’t be done on a suitably powerful tablet or phone. This means that as the prices of mobile devices drop, more and more consumers will switch to mobile and leave desktop entirely behind. In fact, mobile search outstripped desktop search in 2015, as announced by Google. But, with these facts in mind, should you be changing your web design tactics and aiming at mobile browsers first and desktop second? Generally, it depends on your audience, your content, and your goals.


Your Audience or Demographic

It’s important that you know your audience. Having at least a minimum understanding of your target demographic, which types of devices they use, and how they use them can be crucial in decision making. You can see most of this data via any analytics program, Google and Bing analytics are both good free options that allow you to see which percentage of your traffic is from desktop or mobile, but more importantly, allow you to track goals, to see which percentage of desktop or mobile are clicking through, making purchases, or following your goals on the site. This allows you to see which portion of your traffic is more valuable to you. For example, goals could include calling you, checking the directions on your website, or similar. Of course, it’s not always possible to track value based on a website visit, for example, many people may be checking out your website while in the store or while near the store.

Your Content

It’s a fairly simple concept that long form content tends to work better for desktops while short form content tends to work better for mobile, but it’s not always true. Tablets and larger phone screens are making it increasingly easier for mobile users to view long content, and in fact, it’s actually easier to read a long article on a tablet than on a computer because scrolling is easier and more natural.

Where Responsive Design Fits In

Responsive design means a website that automatically resizes based on the size of the screen and the device, but it does call for sacrifices. If you’re designing for the web, you’re obviously adding more buttons, making items smaller, and adding in more features. If you’re designing for mobile, you should be aiming for larger buttons and fewer features to make scrolling and item selection easier.

How do you choose? Mobile traffic is growing at a very fast rate, and unless a great deal of your valuable traffic is coming from desktop, you should consider stripping down and simplifying your web design to make it ideal for viewing on mobile. While much maligned by press, hamburger and drop down menus make this easier, because they can be tucked safely out of sight on mobile, so they don’t clutter an already small screen.

Do you want to know more about mobile design and whether or not it will work for you? Seattle businesses who want to work with a local web design company can contact Rory Martin for a free consultation and quote. Rory Martin is a local Seattle web design company with years of experience helping businesses in the area to launch a great website. Find out if we can help you here.


How to Quality Check a Seattle Web Developer’s Portfolio

Hiring a web developer can be stressful, especially if you’ve never worked with one before, mainly because most of us simply don’t know what to look for in a website. While the obvious ‘designs you like’ is fairly easy to look for, it doesn’t really tell you if the developer is any good. While it is possible to just choose a Seattle web developer because you like the sites in their portfolio, you can also try a few of the following tips to quality check the developer before you choose them.


Check Code

Most of us have no idea how code should look, even if we have some experience with it, but there are some free tools you can use to check. For example, the WC3 markup validation service will go through code and display errors for you. While it’s meant as a development tool, you can use it to quality check websites by seeing how many errors are there. Some are normal and even hard to avoid, because code is fairly complex and things happen, but if sites have massive amounts of errors, you definitely want to avoid the developer. Check it here.

WC3 also offers a mobileOK checker to see if the developer uses mobile friendly code. Find that here.

What does this tell you? Unfortunately, if the site is old or the site owner has messed around a lot and added things, errors could be purely of the owner’s making. That’s why it’s usually a good idea to test only the developer’s own website. Even then, if the website was created in a previous version of HTML, it will show a lot of errors that aren’t actually problems, simply because newer versions of HTMl, or of a CMS will use different attributes then originally written.

Check Site Performance

Site performance depends on multiple factors, including the host, server, number of users on the server, location, and the website itself. If you’re testing site performance, it is important to keep in mind that it might not be the website. However, if you’re paying for hosting from the web developer, or getting a local all in one web development and hosting package, then it is extremely important to test their website, or one that they’re hosting.

Google’s PageSpeed Insight tool is completely free, and will tell you how long the site is taking to load. How long is too long? Anything over 4 seconds, and you could be loosing as much as 25% of your customers. You can use it here.

Test Functionality

You can test website functionality without the help of anyone but yourself, you just need a few minutes to click around on a website that they have developed. You can try their own website, or something in the developer’s portfolio, but try to visit as many pages on the site as possible. You want to look for easy to use links and buttons, clean and easy to use and find menus, pages that load quickly, and design that makes sense.

Local Websites

Working with a local Seattle web development company can help you to reduce hassle, improve communication, and ensure that you’re marketing to your local audience, so you do want to check the websites and make sure that they’re actually local Seattle businesses. This ensures that your company really is right in Seattle.

Are you looking for a quality web developer located right in Seattle? Contact Rory Martin for a free quote on your website, or check out our portfolio.

Does Social Media Marketing Work for B2B? – Seattle Business Tips

Social media is a powerful marketing tool that most of us are familiar with for marketing to customers, especially in fashion niches, but does it work for B2B companies? Marketing to other businesses can be tough, especially with the dropping success rates of banner and text ads. Social media can be a great, and affordable way to reach other businesses, but only if you use it correctly. These tips from the experts local Seattle social media company Rory Martin will help get you started.


Use the Right Platforms

Every user demographic has their own platforms, and some platforms have more demographics than others. If you’re a B2B company, you have to choose your social media platforms carefully. For example, any business on Snapchat is marketing to customers, and they don’t really want to be marketed to. On the other hand, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google Pages are all great for marketing to other businesses, because not only do people look for business services there, they can see reviews, go through customer opinions, and see your location and business niche very easily.

Drive Opt Ins

Social media platforms can be extremely valuable, but an opt in list that gets business owners to sign up for your newsletter or a free course is even more valuable. Make sure you understand your target demographic, and then use Facebook’s Call to Action Button to create a signup, and add one on your website as well. This can create a valuable list of people who are actually interested in your content.

Market on Your Social Media

If you’re just sharing funny photos and helpful posts, you’ll probably build up followers. This is great, and it’s a great tactic to keep up. But you also want about 1 in 5 or 1 in 10 of your posts to be promotional. This means telling consumers directly about your content, featuring your existing customers, or otherwise highlighting your services. Offering coupons and sales is also great, but don’t do this too often, or users won’t be tempted to buy, because they know there’s another sale right around the corner.

Reach Local Businesses with B2B Events

Facebook events are a great way to get local Seattle businesses involved, because you can create an event, invite your existing customers, and then have them help you spread the word. What should your event be about? It does depend on your exact B2B niche, but education, product demonstrations, a networking party, or even an online webcast (so long as it’s valuable to your potential clients) can net a great response. Just make sure you put some marketing effort into it, and contact local neighborhood magazines to make sure that people show up.

Share Business Culture

Small to medium businesses are run by people, and like regular shoppers, they want to identify with the businesses they work with. Sharing your business culture, showing your ideals, and even photos of your office and products is a great way to boost trust in your business right on social media.

Want more help with your social media marketing? Whether you’re B2B, B2C, or even C2C, Rory Martin, a local Seattle social media company is here to help. Contact us for more information, or a quote. It’s on us.

How Reputation Management Affects Your Search Engine Results Pages

Whether you’re running a local, international, or even online only business, your website rankings in search affect your traffic and your sales. Even if you’re just marketing to local consumers who look your business up online with their phones shortly before visiting your brick and mortar shop, you need to come up in search engine results pages (SERPS) and you have to look good in those SERPS.

Reputation management is one way to work towards achieving both at once, and while management is not the end of your SEO dilemma, it will help your optimization process.

What is Reputation Management

Reputation management is the process of attempting to control the information online about your brand so that if anyone searches for you, they see good things. This can involve working to improve your brand and improve customer support to naturally generate a great brand image, spot correcting or working issues out with unhappy customers, replying to bad reviews online, getting bloggers and social media gurus to review and talk about your products, improving your SEO so that your pages and not your competitors pages come up first in search, and using reviews as part of your strategy.

Using Reviews – Reviews are the easiest part of reputation management for SEO providing you have a great product or service. All you have to do is distribute your products out to people with blogs (trafficked blogs, don’t waste your money on random blogs), YouTubers, Instagrammers, and anyone else with influence. If you’re a local company in Seattle, you do, of course, want to approach local bloggers and influencers, and you can use a variety of sites like Klout and Tomoson to find them. You can ask for reviews on Amazon, any of your sales platforms, your website, Google Plus, your Facebook page, and on blogs, just try not to ask for everything from the same person.

Solving Problems – It’s also important that you work to manage and control problem posts that come up in search. For example. If you’ve purchased a business and you have a bad review from 5 years ago on the top of search, users reading that review won’t have any idea that you’ve changed management, or policies. You’ll have to correct the issue, which in that particular case, means getting your pages and other reviews on top of search instead of that bad review.

  • Approach any customer complaint as seriously as possible as soon as they voice it. Try to solve the problem before it becomes a major issue.
  • Get everyone involved, and ask customers how they would rate their experience before they leave your store or website. Just don’t be annoying.
  • Offer free returns or replacements on products if they are broken, damaged on arrival, or not what was expected.

Getting Help from a Local Seattle SEO Company

Search engine optimization is a lot of work, and unless you’re not doing anything else, you probably don’t have the time or the experience to do it correctly. Local is also the best way to go, because you’ll be able to meet in person, hold the company accountable, and ensure that you’re on the same page without having to worry about time zones, not being able to get in touch, or similar issues. A local Seattle SEO company will also be able to help you with local trends, search terms, and location and micro location based terminology, which will help your site. They could also be familiar with your local competitors, local reviewers, and local websites you can contact to get reviews or a mention.
Want help with your search optimization? Contact Rory Martin for a free quote on your SEO.

How to Plan Your New Year’s Website With Your Web Development Team

The New Year is fast approaching, and in Seattle, that often means businesses get productive by starting plans for the new year, and often, redesigning or launching their online websites. If you’re planning a new website, then you need a web development team, and hopefully a local one based right in Seattle. However, you still need plans of your own, and here’s how to get started.


How to Get Started: Creating Ideas

If you’ve already found a local Seattle web development team to get started with, they will likely help you off with a kickoff meeting. However, you should have a list of ideas, wants, needs, and preferences when you go in. Much like if you were building an extension on your house or having a company renovate your kitchen, your web design team has to know what you want, why you want it, and what features you need. If they’re developing blind, they likely won’t even come close to what you need. A good start is finding websites that have a similar look and feel to what you want, writing down a list of features, why you need those features, a timeline (when you have to launch), color palette, business branding, and preferred style. You can use this information to get a quote, so you can find and choose a great local web developer.

For the Web Developers: Needs Assessment

At the same time, your web developers should be performing a needs assessment on your business. They will likely ask you questions, check your business, and decide what you need. This should involve demographic assessment, competitor overview, product and size assessment, and a search optimization assessment if your website is currently online and they also handle SEO.

The Kickstart Meeting

Once you both have notes, you’ll both get together (in person if you have a local Seattle team) and discuss your ideas, exchange notes, create new ideas, and look at concepts or themes. Most of the time the web developers will go over your preferred features and discuss them with you, decide which ones you really need, and point out if you missed anything. You’ll discuss style, and choose a website that works well with your user demographic, your business branding and style, and your personal preference.

Here, you will make most of the final decisions on ideas, but there are still a few more steps. Once you’ve approved the initial planning, you’ll still have to go through and approve mockups and wireframes for your site before they’re brought to life. You may also have to chose hosting, security features, and items like whether or not you want a blog or a comment system.

From there, all you have to do is wait to see your website for approval.

Why Is It important to Plan?

Taking the time to create a plan, strategize when and where you want to launch, and deciding on exact features and styles in advance can seem like a headache, but it will save you a lot of time and hassle in the future. It also makes the web developers job easier, as they won’t have to guess what you want or when you want it.

Are you planning to launch a new website or website redesign in 2016? Contact Rory Martin, a local Seattle web development team, for a quote, and we’ll get you started with your planning.

The 10 Web Design Trends You Need to Know for 2016 – Seattle Web Design

Building a website, or hiring a Seattle web design team to do it for you, requires a lot of work, but more importantly, it requires a lot of important design decisions. Choosing what you want partially involves making decisions based on your brand and partially involves choosing what your customers expect and want to see. These top 10 web design trends include some of the best and most recent website technology that you can use to make your website look modern, appealing and easy to use.


1. Minimalism

Minimalistic websites are extremely popular for a number of reasons. While many people suggest that multi-page websites do best in search, they can be complicated and difficult to navigate for your readers. Taking a minimalistic approach, cutting out everything that you don’t need, and including more blank space than menus and headers, will ensure that the reader gets a great experience. If you need more pages for search, you can always install a blog.

2. Responsive Design

Mobile is here to stay, and in fact, it’s surpassed desktops in search volume. Unfortunately, mobile doesn’t come in just one screen size, so responsive design is here to stay. You want to optimize your site for slow internet on mobile devices, multiple screen sizes, and short attention spans.

3. UX/UI

Planning your user experience and user interface is something we should have been doing all along. It’s important that your Seattle web design team takes UX into consideration when designing your site.

4. Hidden Menus & Hamburger Menus

Hidden menus and hamburger menus get a lot of criticism, but they’re here to stay. They also help to prevent a cluttered mobile page because the menu is tucked neatly out of site. THey’re also common enough that almost everyone know what they are.

5. Large Images

Big Hero images and image backgrounds are extremely popular, but they have to be high resolution to extremely high resolution, and mainly monochromatic. Using an image as your background, or for most of the page, captures attention and keeps it, and is better than using a small banner.

6. Ad blocking

Ad blocking may not be a web design trend, but with 144 million ad blocker users, it’s here to stay. That means web designers have to create sites around users who could be blocking ads, which can be difficult for sites that make money off of advertisements.

7. UI Patterns

UI patterns are increasingly popular, because they allow you to create an entire user interface using an existing pattern, which makes it easier for consumers to use, and easier for the designer. Most importantly, each one can be tweaked and adjusted to create something completely unique, which is better for your business recognition.

8. Rich Animation

Rich animation, such as animations and illustrations, moving buttons, and animated anything on the website are back in style, and they haven’t been as popular as they are now since the days of Flash in 2012. They take a little bit more work, and they aren’t always a good idea (I.e. if a large portion of your traffic is mobile), but they can be exciting, fun, and unique.

9. Web Design Layouts

Long Scroll – Long scroll websites allow you to tell your entire story on a single page, and you can replicate the appearance of a multi-page website by dividing content into sections. This is also great for mobile users. If you’re worried about people not scrolling, don’t. It’s been proven that the trend of not scrolling below the fold is over thanks to mobile users having to scroll anyway.
Card – Card designs break the website up into smaller portions, which are easier for readers to digest, and can be rearranged to your preference on smaller screens.
Dynamic Grid – Think Pinterest. These sites are perfect for shops and anyone that relies on images or video, and work extremely well on mobile devices.

10. Video

From video headers to profile images to video backgrounds, video is becoming a huge trend in web design, and is set to keep growing for 2016. Like animation, you should be cautious with using it if most of your users are on mobile, but it can be powerful, creative, and interesting.
Web design trends are essentially what’s hip in the world of web design. If you want to know more, or get a quote on your website, contact Rory Martin, a Seattle web design company.

How Reviews Benefit Your SEO & Your Social Media Marketing – Seattle Marketing Tips

Building your digital marketing strategy usually requires working in a great deal of different marketing techniques, and SEO and social media marketing are both very complementary to each other. While you probably already know that, one strategy affects both, as well as conversion and sales, and could be one of the most important strategies for companies with products to sell. That strategy? Reviews.

Whether you’re hiring a Seattle social media company to drive traffic and leads, or doing it yourself, your reviews greatly affect every part of your online marketing efforts, which makes them incredibly important.


How Reviews Affect Search

If you have a quality SEO company, then they’ve probably already put you on Google Local, and have likely started generating review strategies for your Google Plus and for your Facebook page. When users search for businesses in a specific location (I.E. Digital Marketing Company Seattle, Washington) on Facebook or on Google, they get back local search results based on businesses that have put their locations into the database. Here’s the important part. Your customer reviews show up in live search. If you have good reviews, this can greatly increase your conversion rate, because you automatically look more trustworthy.

How Reviews Affect Social Media

You probably already have some idea that reviews affect your social media. Social justification, or visible support for the brand, makes consumers much more likely to purchase, even if they’ve never heard of your brand before. For example, Amazon made more than $1 billion after introducing the “Was this review helpful” button, because users felt that individual reviews were that much more powerful. Pages with more reviews show up as more authoritative and more trustworthy, because users like popular opinion. Whether these reviews are on products, the entire business, or services doesn’t really matter.

How to Generate Reviews

The most important part of using reviews as part of your local Seattle social media or SEO strategies is that you shouldn’t use fake reviews. High quality reviews, from people who have actually used the product or service, are much better than any amount of fake, glowing reviews. If you’re on a social platform like Google or Facebook, the fake reviews can be removed, your account can be suspended, and you lose trust with your buyers if they catch you. Instead, using techniques like following up on an order with an email asking for a review, offering incentives in exchange for a review, using a slip or form in the package to remind users to review, or asking people in person is the best way to go. No, not all of your reviews will be glowing, but in an age where consumers know about fake reviews, it’s actually better for sales to have a small amount of negative reviews than to have all 5 star reviews. So, real reviews actually benefit you more than fake ones, even if they’re 3 or 4 star instead of 5.

Do you want to learn more about tactics for boosting your leads or sales? Talk to Rory Martin, a local Seattle social media company, and ask for your quote, or a consultation.

The Difference Between SEO and SEM – Seattle SEO Tips for SMBs

SEO or search engine optimization is a term that almost everyone knows, even if you don’t understand what it does. SEM is a less popular term that means Search Engine Marketing, and while it can include SEO, there’s a lot more to it. If you’re just getting into search, or are planning to hire a Seattle SEO company to help you with your search traffic, then it is important that you understand the differences.


What is SEO

SEO or Search Engine Optimization requires working with Google, Bing, and Yahoo standards to create a website that is most likely to come up in search. By creating a site that is high quality, following guidelines for search engines, utilizing keywords so search engines know what the page is about, and increasing your authority, you can influence whether or not search engines show your pages. This is hugely beneficial for making sales, driving traffic, or creating leads.

What is SEM

Search Engine Marketing is subtly different from SEO in that instead of only directing efforts towards search engines, you’re also putting some effort into converting searchers into traffic. For example, if you’re coming up on the first page of Google but not really getting any clicks, you’re probably doing something wrong with your search engine marketing. By tweaking the title, meta description, images, and reviews, you can improve the click rate so you can get more traffic. Of course, search marketing can also include PPC (Pay Per Click) to help you capture keyword searches for a specific item.

Why is this important?

Technically you need both SEO and SEM to really succeed or capture as much of a keyword as you can. Combining conversion techniques and search engine optimization is crucial if you want your SEO results to be valuable. For example, you need the page to be highly relevant to the search once the user clicks on it. If it isn’t, you’ll have wasted your efforts.

In addition, you need your Seattle SEO company to work with you to create relevant SEO content. If you’re marketing to high level companies then you have to work with keywords that they would use, and if you’re working with budget consumers, you have to work with keywords they would look up. It doesn’t matter if you’re #1 on Google for “Top 5 Digital Displays” if you’re product is a digital advertising displays, because most users who find your keyword won’t want anything to do with your actual product. SEM is about relevance to the user, not just coming up in search.

Creating a great search campaign requires a knowledge of both SEM and SEO, and you’ll have to consider your specific user demographic, budgets, and location in order to properly select targeted keywords. The good news is that if you have a Seattle SEO company, they will do the work for you, just make sure they understand that you want to talk to consumers as well as to search engine bots.

Want to learn more about how SEO and SEM can help your business? Contact Rory Martin for a free consultation or quote.

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Improving Your Website Security – Seattle Web Development Tips

Whether you’re using a CMS like WordPress or Joomla, or have a custom design, security is a huge issue that affects every site on the web. With thousands of websites hacked every day, using strong security is essential for your site, your investment, and your customers. Not only do hackers mess up the work your web designers put into the site (that you paid for) they can also redirect your clients and customers to pages where you don’t want them to go, infect their computers with viruses and malware, and steal their information. If you want to protect yourself and your reputation, you have to take steps to secure your website.


Make Site Backups

Site backups won’t protect your site, but they do allow you to cancel everything and immediately re-upload to your last working site if someone hacks it. If that happens, you will have to immediately change all of your passwords and add security, but it does allow you to get everything up and working again without losing money if your site is hacked.

Limit the Number of Failed Connections/Entries

You can limit the number of times that someone can attempt to log in before they are locked out. This is essential for blocking hacking bots, which input lets and numbers and words randomly until they gain access. Usually, 3 to 5 times is enough, after which you can require administrator assistance.

Change Your Login URLs

If you’re using ‘administrator’ or ‘login’ or ‘wp-admin’ to access your login, then you’re making a mistake. Change the database to change the URL. Your Seattle web development team can do this for you. What should you change it to? Make it unique, something you can remember, and short.

Use Stronger Passwords

If you’re using Password 123, or another similar, easy to guess password, you should try again. Don’t use anything related to your name, your business, signing in to an account, or your password. Try a password generator, or use an 8-15-digit password with lower case and upper case letters, numbers, and punctuation or special characters.

Be Careful

If you’re downloading and using free skins or site themes, they could include base64 encoding, which could allow hackers to distribute malware to your site. Only use themes from trusted sources.

Use HTTP Encryption

It is important that you use encryption on any pages where customers check out, pay for something, or input personal data. This is important to ensure that their data is not stolen, because you will be liable. If you store their personal data, you have to encrypt that as well. Put your security measures in your privacy policy document so visitors can check it. You can purchase a security certificate from a number of providers to set up HTTPS encryption.
Securing your website is important for your business and your reputation, so make sure you take the steps to protect it. Hiring a professional Seattle web developer to help you with making your site secure is a good step if you aren’t sure how to go about the technical aspects of security.

Do you want to know more about website security or features? Contact Rory Martin for more information.

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