Posts Tagged ‘Seattle SEO’

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!”

seo-dead

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.

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Five Major Red Flags For a Seattle SEO Company

If you’re in search of a local SEO company to help boost your ranking in the Seattle area then all well and good for you. SEO is still one of the most potent marketing options, and, if done right, can actually offer unlimited return. Unfortunately, when done wrong, it can do the exact opposite and ensure that your site never sees any organic traffic. While there are thousands of ‘SEO companies’ out there, not all of them are created equal, in fact, many of them have no idea what ‘SEO’ is anymore. So how do you sort out the chaff? Here are five major red flags that should send you running.

Seattle SEO

SEO Copywriting

The truth is that there is no such thing as SEO copywriting anymore. Sure, you can optimize content here and there and make sure that the content is right, but today’s ‘SEO copywriting is more about good grammar, relevance, and helpfulness rather than using algorithms or keyword insertion. If they’re selling SEO copywriting, steer clear.

One Size Fits All Packages

If they have packages like “200,000 hits in one this period of time”, you can basically just turn around and run. Basic packages that offer a lot of results for one set fee look good, but they don’t really promise anything. Without a tailored and structured package designed to drive targeted traffic to your site, that traffic might as well not be there. Why? Because ‘traffic’ does not mean a consumer who wants to buy your products.

Backlinking Services

Whether it’s backlinking, guest posts, directory links, or automated linking, you have to steer clear. Backlinks can actually hurt your site more than help it, especially with Google’s new strict rules about relevance. If the links are not from an approved, relevant, and non-spammy source, then they could actually get you blacklisted on Google, which means no traffic from the world’s largest search engine.

SEO Tools

Are ‘SEO Tools’ one of their main sells? If so, you probably don’t want the company. Real SEO has very little to do with automation and more to do with good old fashioned marketing, back end optimization, and quality. It’s not about using tools to get the most done.

They Promise Quick Results

You probably want fast results. You would probably be happy if the traffic started pouring in tomorrow. Unfortunately, SEO doesn’t work that way. No matter what search engine you’re aiming for, fast results just aren’t happening if you do SEO right. In fact, time to results actually vary depending on the company, the search engine, and the number of competitors. Saying you will get ‘fast results’ is like promising that there won’t be anyone at the Starbucks counter if you go in fifteen minutes after they open. It’s possible, but not very likely.

A great SEO company offers quality digital marketing, not gimmicks and empty promises. Watch out for the red flags to root out the ones who won’t be doing your business any good.

Seattle Social Media Experts Discuss: Internet Marketing Teams

Whether your business is small, large, or somewhere in between, you need marketing. And if your business can make sales online, then you definitely want to focus a large percentage of that marketing on the internet, where you have the potential for a great deal of return with very little investment. Unfortunately, while social media might sound deceptively simple to those who are not familiar with marketing, it is often a task that requires expert advice in order to pull off correctly. But while you could hire just one person to manage all of your digital marketing, there are multiple advantages to having a team to do everything for you.

Collaborative Planning

If you’ve ever worked with part of a team then you know that there is a major difference between working with one person and working as a team. Collaborating on ideas and trends, creating strategies together, and creating marketing plans together allows for more dynamic marketing because more people submit ideas to create strategies and plans with more ideas and more perspective, which usually results in a better plan.

Better Content and Strategies

Another great thing about working with a social media or online marketing team is content and proofreading. Mistakes happen. In fact, even major publications like the Washington Post sometimes publish mistakes. But with a team handling your social planning, you are less likely to have problems with posts, marketing, and quality because each item goes through several hands before it ever reaches the internet. It also means that most of what you put online will be chosen from a selection of ideas rather than the only idea, because more people were working with the idea. This is highly beneficial to all forms of social and online marketing, especially when catering to a specific area like Seattle, where different people will be more knowledgeable about different demographics than an individual.

Specialized Team Members

When you hire just one person you’re getting someone who has a rough knowledge of a great deal of different social media tactics, and while that works for the most part, it’s hard to beat having multiple people who specialize in one area, such as affiliate marketing or blogging or social media posts. The result is that the people you bring into your company have more combined knowledge, and can make more informed decisions regarding the direction and content of your online marketing.

Unfortunately, unless you happen to be a much larger business with a considerable marketing  budget, you won’t be able to hire a team full time. While you might think that you’re stuck with hiring one expert, that isn’t quite true and you do have an alternative. Hiring a local Seattle social media marketing company to do your social and online marketing for your means that not only do you only pay for the actual work that you need, but also that you have a marketing team rather than an individual for much less than the price of a full-time hire. Of course, if you need full time, some social media teams can do that too.

Seattle SEO Talk: How Reviews Factor Into Your Local Search Rank

If you have a business and you sell locally but are not involved with social media, then you could be making a huge mistake. Recent studies show that not only do Facebook and Google pages show up in search results, but that your reviews actually greatly influence your local search ranking algorithm. The entire process works through Facebook and Google using their system of reviews with verified local businesses.

How Does Google Local Work

When you perform a search and you see a list of businesses come up next to a map, that is actually Google Local in action. You’ll probably also see stars next to each of those businesses, and that is Google’s reviews in action. One thing that you will definitely notice is that all of the options on the top are mostly either the most reviewed, or the options with the highest and best reviews.

Facebook is similar, but only shows up as a Facebook page, and does not usually show the reviews or the map in search.

Why It’s Important To You

As a business, you can create a Facebook or Google Local page, garner reviews, and pretty much skyrocket to the top of that search, although Google is easier fo this. Because many businesses do not yet have an active Google Plus page, you actually have an advantage if you get started now, because you have more time to get reviews, and to build a following on the page. Good reviews are actually proven to affect not only your local SEO, but also your click-through rate on those listings.

Getting Reviews

While you can’t guarantee a good review, even from a customer that you go out of your way to please, you can try to offer the best services possible and then ask for a review. Asking is the hard part, because you can’t usually just ask in person. Many short-term sale (such as product sales and restaurants) businesses have the most success with flyers and business cards, while long-term sales (such as automotive) have more success with mailable items that ask for a review after the sale is completed. In either case, be polite, make it as easy as possible. You can ask for Google or Facebook, but most customers will be annoyed if you ask for both. You can ask for reviews for both Google and Facebook, but it is against the terms of service to ask for reviews on Yelp, so try to avoid it, or do it in a way without a link.

Reviews can boost your click through rate, improve your ranking on local search listings, and make new customers more likely to buy from  you, so make sure you ask your customers for them. Just keep in mind that customers who aren’t 100% happy with your services are not obliged to offer a great review.

Want to know more about indirect marketing for you business? Contact Rory Martin today to discuss your options.

Seattle SEO – Five Outdated SEO Techniques to Stop Right Now

SEO has always been one of the biggest and easiest ways to get traffic with Google and it seems as though almost everyone has tried it at one point or another, some with more success than others. While Google’s SEO algorithm is constantly changing, and in fact, updates every 6-12 months, if not more frequently, many of the people we talk to are still using very outdated SEO techniques, some of which are extremely bad for modern SEO. Most of the time this is because they simply did not have the time to keep up with the changes, or decided that the changes wouldn’t affect them. If you’re using SEO and you’re ranking is suffering, or you’re new to SE0, check out these five major issues that could be hurting instead of helping your ranking.

Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is one of the most popular ways to drive backlinks, but unfortunately, most bloggers don’t write quality posts to send out to blogs. If you’re in the habit of sending out blogs to a variety of unrelated websites then you’re probably hurting your ranking. You can still guest blog, just keep the posts to a minimum, make sure that the websites are relevant to your site, and use links as sparingly as po

Optimized Anchor Links

Do you out your keywords and use those as links to your webpage for guest blogging or other articles? If you do, you want to stop it as soon as possible. Google is now listing optimized anchor links as a spam technique, which means that you can hurt your site’s rankings. Instead, try leaving an open URL, or linking to the name of the site.

Linking Out From Press Releases

While many websites and businesses have been using press releases as a back link source for some time, you could actually be penalized or throwing up a press release with no news and just a link. Press releases are for journalists looking for news stories, so make sure that you keep them that way. In fact, many press release sites are actually limiting links, allowing only no-follow links, and scanning for quality to make sure that you’re actually putting up news.

Keyword Heavy Content

Putting up a keyword dense blog in 2012 would  most likely have skyrocketed it to the top of Google for at least a week, while readers groaned and wondered if you were getting $5 every time you repeated “Green converse shoes”. As of 2014, it’s more likely to make sure that no one ever sees your blog ever again. There are plenty of ways to use keywords properly and none of them involve using the same keyword at more than 1% density, which is a maximum and not a recommendation.

Exchanging Links

Exchanging links is probably one of the worst things you can do for your SEO, simply because Google’s algorithms can see the return links. Because return links rarely happen naturally, this is an instant red flag to Google that you are trying to influence your SEO ranking. Because many of the sites that go around asking for reciprocal links are mostly focusing on building links, it could also hurt your site because you are linking to a low quality site.

Seattle SEO Management Tips for Business

If you’re running a local Seattle business and you want to rank for local searches for your types of businesses then you have your job cut out for you. Without a professional Seattle SEO manager to help you out, you’re going to have to research, plan, and strategize an SEO plan that will hopefully get you onto search above your competitors. Unfortunately, that’s not always easy. Seattle is a hotspot of small and medium businesses that are growing under the huge job market thanks to big tech companies in the surrounding area. With that in mind, here are a few handy tips to help you rank higher in local Seattle SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages).

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Content Marketing

Content is one of your most powerful marketing tools because content attracts visitors. By ensuring that your pages are localized and relatable to local readers, you are encouraging the citizens of Seattle to read your website. You’re also giving yourself more fodder for sharing on social pages to make them more popular.

Hyper Localization

What’s more, you also want to hyper localize your content. Yes it’s important to tell your readers, your ads, and to put on your website that you’re in Seattle, but don’t forget your local area, neighborhood, and street. For example, if you search for ‘restaurants in Seattle’ there are over 3,397 competing restaurants. On the other hand, if you search for “Restaurants in Georgetown, Seattle”, there are just 125 restaurants within that local area competing with you in search. When you narrow that down to “Restaurants on Airport Way, Georgetown, Seattle, you’re looking at just five search competitors. Apply that concept to your local area and your business and you could find yourself capturing hyper local customers.

Website Speed

You’ve probably heard this half a million times already in 2014, but it’s important. Make sure that your website loads quickly on every device or you are loosing your hard earned clicks. Enough said.

Go Easy on the Links

While Google loves to see new content, they’re not so hyped about the links. Take it easy on linking to and from other websites, and try to avoid guest blogging for the same of links. If you do include guest blogging in your policy, try offering your website URL without linking it. This will allow interested readers to follow you to your site without bringing unnatural links that could result in a Google penalty.

You probably already know that the backend of your site has to be in shape, that you have to research keywords, and that you should use them sparingly. You should also know that quality is more important than quantity, and that you will be penalized for trying to influence search. With that out of the way, you just have to make sure that your website is for your readers, offers value, and is what it appears to be about. Other then that, you’re on your own with creating your SEO strategy.

If you want to know more about what a professional Seattle SEO manager can do for you in terms of results, contact us at Rory Martin.

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Setting a Marketing Budget – How Much is Your Seattle SEO Campaign Worth?

If you’re planning on starting an SEO or marketing campaign for 2014 then you have a lot of decisions to make. First, you have to set a budget. Unfortunately, setting a budget on any sort of marketing campaign isn’t as easy as quoting a number and going with that. You have to decide a budget based on your spending goals, the company you’re hiring, and your potential for return on investment. Finally, all of this has to be tempered by your market and your demographic. For example, a localized Seattle SEO campaign is much smaller than an international one. Ready, let’s get started.

SEattle SEO Budget

Demographic

Your demographic should be a huge part of setting your budget. How many customers do you have the potential of reaching with a good SEO campaign? On top of that, how many of them are you capable of serving? If your target demographic is only very local, for example, Greenwood, then you’re not going to get much out of a thousands of dollar campaign. You need something small, and targeted locally, which typically means smaller budget. On the other hand, if you operate a web shop selling women’s clothing that delivers worldwide, then your demographic is as wide as you can get it. In this case, a huge marketing campaign would be in your best interest.

SEO Budget SEattle

What Affects Pricing

There are a number of factors that affect SEO pricing; especially in the Seattle area. Some companies charge more for SEO simply because they are more in demand. For example, an SEO professional with experience managing campaigns for big companies. On the other hand, some companies charge more just because they want to. On average, the following considerations affect pricing the most.
• Industry Competitiveness
• Current Ranking (Yours and Competitors)
• Size
• Resources Required to Achieve Results
• Geo-Location
• Current Risk
For example, if you are in a highly competitive industry such as finance, your ranking is quite low, and you have no real quality website or social built up, then your SEO company will have to invest a great deal just to get your SEO going. For that reason, your campaign would be more expensive. On the other hand, your website might already be in good shape, and all you might need are a few strategic links, better keyword optimization, and backend tweaking to improve website performance.

Defining Your ROI

Seattle SEO Budget

ROI is an acronym that stands for Return on Investment, while often nothing more than a bit of overused jargon by anyone who wants to sell you something, it is the single most important thing about your marketing campaign. Whether you’re investing in social media, in SEO, targeting the world, or targeting a small, local Seattle marketing campaign, you need ROI. Your return on investment is the money that you make from your marketing investment, and like any other type of investment, if it’s not there, then you need a new strategy. There are two types of basic ROI including ‘anticipated ROI’ and ‘actual ROI’. Deciding on your anticipated ROI is how you determine how much you can afford to spend on your initial SEO campaign, while your actual ROI is how you decide on what to continue spending.

What is your marketing campaign worth to you? To us, any SEO campaign is only worth as much as much as it can make you in actual returns. Want to know more? Contact us today to talk to one of our local Seattle SEO professionals.

What Can Hyper Localization Do For Your Seattle SEO Campaign

Hyper localization, it’s the new big thing, the ‘next big SEO trend’, and the first SEO trend in 2014. Unfortunately, most of us don’t understand what it can do, especially not in terms of sales. After all, doesn’t decreasing your market demographic decrease sales, actually not really. The thing about hyper–localization is that it’s meant for small business who serve a local area.

Seattle social media

So What is Hyper Localization Anyway?

What is hyper localization? It’s the process of taking a ‘local’ Seattle SEO campaign and turning it into a ‘local’ single street or neighborhood campaign. So for example if you’ve been advertising yourself as a ‘Seattle business’, you can now advertise yourself as a ‘Lake Union’ business. The difference is that instead of marketing to someone who might be a twenty or thirty minute drive away, you’re mostly targeting people within a five to ten minute drive, and hopefully walking distance as well. You can probably guess that this isn’t the right strategy for everyone, but might be able to see that for small businesses, restaurants, and bakeries, it can be a godsend.

Benefits of Hyper Localized SEO

Social SEO

Hyper-Localization Gives You In Depth Location Based Search Results

Targeting a very small and specific demographic has a number of pros and cons, but the cons are mostly only applicable to larger businesses. As a small cafe, you can benefit from hyper localized SEO by targeting the people near you to make more sales. You can also decrease your spending budget because you’re only spending money on a very small area. Most importantly, you’re actually more likely to make a sale because your target demographic doesn’t have to travel to see you. You’re right there and they can drop by at any time. Some of the most obvious benefits of hyper-localized SEO include the following:

• Less Keyword Competition
• More Interested Demographic
• Better Chances of a Repeat Sale
• Ability to Build a Community
• Relevance

Someone who looks up ‘baker on Broadway E’ is likely looking for somewhere to go pick up cupcakes. On the other hand, someone who looks up ‘baker Seattle’ is probably looking to see what options are available for a future order. So, in a way, hyper localization is a bit like using long-tails in that consumers are often searching relevant shops and stores where they can buy something, rather than researching their options.

Bakers on Broadway E.

Bakers on Broadway E.

Using Hyper Localization

Most social pages already engage in hyper localized SEO. For example, if you set up a small local business page on Facebook, you can put in your exact address, as well as your opening hours. Anyone who uses Facebook’s Graph search to look up ‘This sort of business in this area’ is going to find you. Google + also features this sort of optimization through Google Local Pages, but the difference is that you come up in Google search on the map as well, which can be a great deal more beneficial. While this is social media marketing rather than ‘SEO’, it can still do a lot for your local sales.

Hyper localized SEO is still catching on, but it also still has a ways to go. If you think you can benefit from this sort of SEO campaign, then why not try it out. Contact Rory Martin for a consultation on your localized Seattle SEO campaign.

Seattle SEO & The Long-Tail Keyword

If you do anything with SEO or marketing, then you are sure to hear about the long-tail keyword. With new Google search algorithms, new search results, and more people using longer searches, it is now becoming increasingly important for Seattle businesses to utilize longer keywords in order to keep up.

What is the Long-Tail?

The long-tail keyword is essentially a short phrase or specific search term that someone would use to look for something specific. While many people do use short-tail keywords to look for items, the results are much more vague, and usually used by someone first looking into an industry. So, for example, someone who is just starting to look into SEO might search for ‘SEO’ which wold bring up the Wikipedia page.

Seattle SEO

On the other hand, once that person has looked at the Wikipedia page, they are going to move on, and probably start looking for SEO companies to hire. A long-tail search for ‘Seattle SEO Company” is much more specific and as a result typically offers slightly more specific results.
Seattle SEO

About the Search Process

Right now, Google’s Hummingbird algorithm offers priority to websites that have the same long-tail keywords as the consumers search. So, if someone looks for ‘Marketing company SEO and Social” then they are going to get results that have all of those words. However, most people don’t start out looking for a long-tail keyword.

For example, if you’re considering hiring a Seattle SEO company but don’t know anything about SEO, your first search is going to be for ‘SEO’ or a similar ‘beginners guide to SEO’ where you would then read the Wikipedia Page, or browse around on sites like SEOMoz or SearchEngineLand in an effort to understand the process. For most people, the first searches are ‘what is it’, ‘how does it work’, and ‘do I need it’. While these searches can generate a lot of traffic, very few of them generate any sales.

Next comes the decision making process. The searcher knows what they want and they know what it does, so they start looking for something to buy. This is where the long-tail keyword comes in. The search for ‘SEO’ turns into “SEO company’s in Seattle’ or ‘Seattle Marketing’, which turns into a sale for one of the results.

Applying Long-Tail Keywords to Your Marketing Campaign

Unfortunately you have to know what your long-tails are before you can use them. If you only service a small area, then your long-tail keywords are obviously your location, but you also have to consider other specifics such as your exact products. A local bakery could utilize area and food specific long-tail keywords like, “Kirkland Wedding Catering” or “Where to Get Chocolate Cupcakes on 12th Street.”

Any long-tail keyword runs the risk of being too specific, but this is where keyword research comes in. A keyword with an average of 30 searches per month offers less traffic, but also the potential for 30 sales each month, as those 30 people find exactly what they are looking for. Broader searches offer more competition, and less chance of a sale, but can still be useful as well.

What Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm Means for Your Seattle SEO

Google’s latest update, Hummingbird, was announced on the 26th of September after already running for a few months. Hummingbird is a new search algorithm and is expected to affect some 90% of search, much of which has already happened. Unlike previous search algorithms Panda and Penguin which were updates to Google’s algorithm, Hummingbird is actually a completely new algorithm, making it Google’s biggest change in 3 years.

Google HummingBird and Seattle SEO

What is Hummingbird?

Hummingbird is quite simply the newest search algorithm from Google and is quite similar to the previous algorithm but with a few major changes. The biggest change is that most keywords are now geared towards semantic long tail search, meaning that questions and phrases now matter more than single word keywords. Google will also be paying attention to other statics like traffic, bounce rate, and time spent on the page rather than just your keywords. Essentially, Google is getting smarter, and Hummingbird is their smartest algorithm yet. Hummingbird is mobile optimized and designed to turn up the highest quality results as quickly as possible.

• Uses semantic or ‘speaking’ keywords
• Uses PR (Page Rank)
• Less Emphasis on Individual Keywords
• More Emphasis on Social Signals and Activity
• More Emphasis on Quality
• All Search is Now Secure

Earlier this month we talked about Google’s vanishing keyword data, which was actually the first sign of Hummingbird. Secure search means no more keyword data in Google Analytics, which also means changes.

Because most users are looking for answers to questions, Hummingbird is also moving towards an ‘answers’ rather than ‘results’ type search. As a result, titles with “How, why, and whom’ could be slightly more prioritized for future search. Website owners can also expect to see niche sites rising in the SERPS as they tend to have more specialized content on specific topics.

How it Affects your Seattle SEO

The Hummingbird algorithm affects your site in two different ways depending on whether or not you already had good SEO policies. If your SEO is good and you’re still ranking well then you can most likely just keep up what you’re doing, make sure all of your keywords are semantic, and if necessary update any articles or pages that aren’t semantic. Most of the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) have already changed so you can already see where you are. If you’re losing traffic, your domain authority dropped, or your ranking pages are showing up lower then you can blame Hummingbird.

If you have lost traffic because of Hummingbird, your best bet is to rework your content with quality and work on making your keywords more semantic. This means natural, flowing keywords that make sense when spoken aloud. Typically if your content is mostly aimed towards quality rather than SEO, then you don’t’ really have to worry about it too much.

Essentially Hummingbird integrates natural spoken search to make room for new search methods such as mobile and voice command search. If you want to learn more about it, consider contacting your local Seattle SEO expert to talk about your specific site or problem.

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