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Search Engine Guide : Small Business Search Marketing
Search engine marketing news and information you can use to grow your business.

Search Engine Guide
  • 10 Ways SEO Works for B2B Companies

    by Jayson DeMers

    When marketers think of SEO, they often misunderstand its relationship with B2B companies. Typically, SEO is associated with B2C organizations, since customer acquisition is focused on a positive brand user experience. It's easy to forget, though, that marketing to other businesses still involves marketing to people and building relationships. The reality is that 67 percent of the B2B buyer's journey is completed online. B2B companies serious about establishing an authoritative web presence, unlocking the revenue potential of their website, and creating a positive user experience must invest in SEO today.

    SEO works for B2B companies by:

    1. Demanding better content. The biggest mistake marketers make is producing more content instead of better content. Since Google's Panda and Penguin algorithm updates focus on the quality of content, B2B brands that focus on SEO will generate better content than their competitors, which creates a better user experience. 

    When it comes to producing useful content, B2B companies must focus on what their peers value the most. B2B executives prefer professional association research reports/whitepapers, product reviews, customer case studies, and analyst reports over self-serving and promotional content.

    2. Engaging social users. Creating a Google+ Business page, if you don't have one already, is an excellent way to broadcast details such as your business hours, location, and reviews. Google+ Business pages allow B2B companies to add other pages and users to their "circles." Optimized pages should include a logo, descriptive tagline, and links to other social platforms.

    3. Building authority. Google authorship is an excellent tool that not only assists SEO, but is proven to get more click-throughs to your website. Google authorship displays the author's photo next to the search result, which draws the attention of web users.

    Furthermore, the longer a business invests in SEO, the stronger its web presence becomes. By focusing on valuable content in each SEO campaign, you'll begin to build a massive online presence that establishes your brand's thought-leadership in its industry.

    4. Generating fresh content. Regularly posting new content is key to keeping your business blog and website in favor with search algorithms. Fresh content shows that your site is regularly producing value for its readers while creating more opportunities for your content to appear in search results. Because economic challenges have elongated today's sales cycle, consistent content is paramount to converting leads. If you need help coming up with ideas for your blog, see "Little-Known Ways to Find Content Ideas for Your Blog."

    5. Building and maintaining relationships. When B2B companies focus less on promotional content and more on creating engaging content, then it's easier to build professional relationships. By using content to answer frequently asked questions, discuss consumer pain points, or provide industry news, you're able to harness the power of blogging to cultivate business relationships that matter.

    6. Prioritizing the budget. Now that Google results in 90 percent of search traffic to B2B websites, brands have no excuse to frivolously spend their marketing budgets. Spending must focus on SEO, PPC campaigns, content marketing, and social and mobile users to create the most effective digital impact possible.

    7. Differentiating your business from competitors. When it comes to B2C ecommerce sites, content is a luxury, but it's price that ultimately matters. No matter how beautiful the website or seamless the checkout processes, the cost largely determines whether or not the consumer makes a purchase.

    With B2B sites, however, investing in content is critical to stand out from today's competitive market. Content allows a brand to differentiate itself on its own terms after being connected to a prospective client.

    8. Creating a positive brand image. Even though B2B marketing content shouldn't be self-promotional in nature, the fact that you publish quality content becomes a marketing tool on its own. You immediately distinguish yourself as a brand focused on the client experience no matter what.

    9. Unifying digital platforms. The largest challenge for 64 percent of marketers is to produce enough content. By focusing on SEO, you discover that regular business blogging gives you content to promote through social media outlets. Using existing digital platforms to cross promote your brand's content means you'll never run out of things to post!

    10. Focusing on future trends. By 2020, experts predict that 85 percent of customers will complete a transaction without a single human-to-human interaction. Investing in SEO and content marketing now lays the groundwork for the future.


    Be sure and visit our small business news site.



  • A Simple Overview of Meta Tags

    by Stoney deGeyter

    It always amazes me at the number of people I come across who equate SEO with "adding keywords to meta tags." As if SEO is a bag of magic beans that when properly placed, grow your site to a #1 ranking--you know, where the goose that lays the golden eggs lives. I've seen that movie, and it's called a fairy tale for a reason. It's just not true!

    Let's go ahead and dispense with any magic beans misconceptions about SEO meta tags and clear the air. I'll make this as short and painless as possible.

    What are Meta Tags?

    SEO-Meta-Tags-300x225.jpg

    There are all kinds of meta tags, but only three that matter to an SEO. Two, if you don't count the keyword meta tag in all of it's useless glory (more about that below). And only one if you don't count the title tag, which technically isn't a "meta" tag. But for our purposes, we'll call all three meta tags relevant to SEO since that is what most magic-beaners think about when it comes to their understanding of SEO.

    Let's start with the Title tag. It looks like this:

    <title>Title Tag Text</title>

    The purpose of the title tag is for you to give your page a succinct title. Think of it like a newspaper headline. Each page is its own "article" that deserves its own headline that describes the content to follow. I've written extensively about the title tag for SEO purposes, so you'll want to read my Complete Guide to Mastering Title Tags for the non-simple overview.

    Next up is the Meta Description tag, which looks like this:

    <meta name="description" content="Meta description text goes here.">

    The meta description is a short summary of your page content. This is your chance to explain what the title can't. You have about 20 words to provide a compelling "description" of the content of the page.

    Finally, the almost-entirely-useless Meta Keyword tag, looks like this:

    <meta name="keywords" content="this, is, where, the, magic, bean, keywords, go">

    The original intent of the keyword meta tag was to allow search engines to easily see what keywords your page should rank for. There was once a time that this worked. But there was also a time that a "personal" computer was as large as an entire room of a house. Those days are long gone.

    I have also written a Complete Guide to Mastering Meta Tags, which will give you far more detail than I can simplify here.

    Why Meta Tags Matter for SEO

    I've said it before and at the risk of repeating myself over and over again, I'll go ahead and repeat myself again: A web page's title tag is the single most important piece of SEO real estate there is. But it's still no magic bean. The title tag provides the best on-site indicator of the content of the page, both to the search engine and the searcher scanning through search results, but rarely will a title tag alone push you above other competitors. Especially well-optimized competitors.

    Like the title tag, the meta description tag also appears in the search results. Unfortunately for magic-beaners, from a true SEO standpoint, neither the meta description nor the meta keyword tag help get you search rankings. Neither is an algorithmic factor. And since only the meta description tag gets any kind of visibility to searchers, it's the only tag other than the title, that you really need to be concerned about.

    Both the title and the meta description tag are important for generating clicks from your site from the search results, but only the title tag will help in any way with search engine rankings. So if you believe that those ten words in the title tag is the only thing an SEO does, then you're in a whole other world. That's kind of like thinking that the only thing a mechanic does is change the oil. Sure, that helps, but there is a whole lot more to making a car go zoom than changing oil! And, there is a whole lot more to making a website get ranked than editing meta tags.

    Now you know.





    Be sure and visit our small business news site.



  • How Schema Helps Your SEO Campaign

    by Jayson DeMers

    Search engine optimization (SEO) is the internet marketing discipline that aims to increase your website or other online presence (such as a blog or social media page) and visibility within search engine results pages, such as Google and Bing. For example, if you're a florist in Houston, your customers and potential customers are probably googling "Houston florist" or "flower delivery Houston" which means your site needs to display preferably in the first three Google search results. Studies show that people almost never go beyond the first page of search results and rarely look beyond the first few. So, it's important to do whatever you can to get ranked not only on the first page, but within the top three results when possible. 

    SEO is your ticket for targeted search traffic that's made up of buyers who are looking for products, events or services you're offering. Every business, regardless of where you stand, is interested in growing and upping customer leads; your website is the perfect conductor for this. Schema data can optimize your SEO, which in turn can cause an increase in targeted search traffic, which results in more customer leads. But what is Schema data anyway? 

    Know your tech speak 

    Simply put, Schema is a type of data markup structure that all the big search engines have been trying to weave into their algorithms ever sine 2011. If you include Schema markup within your site's coding, you're automatically improving your SEO. This happens by generating "rich snippets" which help search engines index your content and get found in search results pages. It also improves your visibility in niche search results (such as Video, Image, etc.) and improves your click through rate (CTR) within search results by adding visual elements to the result. 

    The end result is an increase in your organic traffic/leads. While the benefits of Schema markup are many, the best thing is that it essentially helps to grow your business online. It's a system that defines common microdata used by all major search engines, reducing redundant work and maximizing exposure. Microdata consists of tag sets, compliments of HTML 5, which lets you mark up your page with the vocabulary major search engines understand and translate; mostly Microformats and RDFA is used. 

    "Dummying up" your website 

    You might think your website is gorgeous and intuitive, but don't forget that algorithms (and not just people) are trying to figure out what's on your website, and how it looks and feels. This is, however, a major factor in modern ranking algorithms. Gather feedback from your users, and collaborate with your colleagues to get a solid answer to the questions; is my site really user-friendly? Does my site provide a positive user experience? 

    You might have put a lot of effort into your "Snippets" maximizing the use of the title, description and URL, and a "rich snippet" can make things even better by including images within the search engine results pages next to your listing. However, including Schema means search engines don't have to "guess" what the information is on your site or where it belongs. Search engines like things structured and simple; Schema helps you do this by giving you the tools to label content pieces and categorize them. 

    When that's done, search engines "know" what to do with every piece of content. You can assign properties including "sameAs," "additionalType," image, URL, and name. These are instructions telling search engines how to categorize them. Search engines play well with hard facts, bypassing their intelligence, and this is what's displayed to users like your customers. Schema gives you more accuracy, more precision, and puts more control in your hands. However, this wasn't developed to make business easier for you, but simply to ensure the most relevant information reaches users. 

    Schema and SEO 

    Put yourself in your customer's shoes. If you're looking for the best video conferencing technology and consider the first two choices that pop up, there are reasons why you'll choose one over the other. You're almost guaranteed to be attracted to the link with a face, more information and an attractive layout, right? Schema makes sure you have any relevant listings, ratings, breadcrumbs or images because this is all relevant data users want. 

    Using Schema will get you more clicks even if your website isn't necessarily at the top of search results. For example, a competitor might have Google's top spot but if you're number three, that Schema-enhanced layout is going to attract the eye even better and potentially lead to a higher CTR. Studies have been conducted using an eye tracking heat map, and links with photos and a more dynamic presentation simply get more clicks than non-rich snippets. The sooner you incorporate Schema into your SEO campaign, using mobile technology as an aid, the sooner you can enjoy better traffic.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.



  • Survey: 83% of Businesses Aren't Prepared for Online Threats

    by Jayson DeMers

    Following Target's data breach, in which the financial and personal data of 40 million Americans was leaked online, cyber security has been the focal point of businesses everywhere - or so we've been told. A report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, however, reveals that only 17 percent of businesses are fully prepared to prevent or combat a digital breach. 

    This information is particularly evident when considering another recent - and record-breaking - security breach. In February 2014, a number of incidents resulted in the theft of 360 million personal records; those stolen records then went up for sale in the virtual black market. One theft in particular consisted of 105 million records, which is likely the largest internet-related security breach in history. Furthermore, this data does not include the 1.25 billion e-mail addresses also available in this marketplace. Even more alarming is that the businesses and organizations from which this information was taken may be entirely unaware of the incidents, although it is also possible that they are unwilling to disclose details about the thefts. No entity is safe, either - social media, financial institutions, dating sites, and job search engines are all at risk. 

    These breaches can be more damaging than the theft of credit card information, because they include active user names and passwords. With this sort of information - which is often not encrypted - access is wide open to health records, business networks, tax information, and financial account information. And when consumers use the same user names and passwords for multiple accounts? It may make their lives easier, but it makes the work of hackers easier as well. 

    Because firms are not always legally required to report security breaches, it is difficult to truly grasp the magnitude of the issue. In fact, 57 percent of businesses and organizations decline to report such incidents. That leaves a small fraction of entities that are willing to collaborate regarding potential safety guidelines and best practices. 

    It does appear, however, that firms that have already been affected by security violations are taking things seriously. They are twice as likely as their unaffected counterparts to have intact safety with a third-part entity. Furthermore, it is expected that firms with a security-response protocol in place will rise to 80 percent within the next few years. 

    Factors Affecting BusinessesBusiness 

    must be alert and prepared to manage the ramifications of potential threats - and there are quite a few. 

    • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies are gaining popularity within workplaces. While there are a multitude of benefits to BYOD, significant risks include employee misuse of devices and company information, unreliable and inefficient applications, and minimal enforcement - or nonexistence - of policies and procedures.
    • The cloud is another virtual entity that has proven both beneficial and risky to businesses. Positive outcomes of utilizing the cloud can only be enjoyed, however, if there is sufficient data protection and assurance that personally identifiable information is strictly safeguarded. Businesses that fail to do so are penalized. 
    • After Target disclosed its security breach during the holiday season - a time when sales increase dramatically - the chain suffered a significant business slump. It can be concluded, then, that data thefts have multi-layered effects. Consumers are robbed of their personal information; businesses must then contend with wary customers, which may then contribute to the hesitance by entities to report said breaches. 
    • When businesses become victims of data theft crimes, their partners are affected as well. When Target was robbed, its partners were then forced to deal with their own security concerns. These are no small-name partners, either - Visa and MasterCard were among them. 
    • Aside from formal repercussions and system malfunctions, businesses that fail to effectively respond to threats will inevitably face dents in their reputations. Disgruntled customers whose records have been lost, for instance, will most certainly share their frustrations with others. Customer reviews and social media sharing are far-reaching, and negative reviews or comments on social media can compound the losses caused by the security malfunctions themselves. 
    Brand Protection 

    To avoid such catastrophic consequences, responsible businesses are protecting themselves by investing from the root of every website; it's server. Third-party web hosting providers generally offer IT services, and the industry is evolving as the need for increased security for their clients grows. Professional web hosts can ensure that business-class software is in place and up-to-date. 

    More web hosts, in an effort to protect not only their clients but also their own infrastructure, are beginning to implement software that automatically detects and removes malware. iPage, for example, searches for malware on a daily basis and immediately removes threats using its SiteLock Premium software. 

    Conclusion 

    In the wake of major headlines involving data breaches, it's more important than ever to ensure top-notch security. But saving face among a national media audience isn't the only incentive to do so; search engine algorithms are quickly detecting and de-indexing sites with malware. So, losing visibility with search engines is a major concern that will continue to increase the priority of server security initiatives for webmasters and IT admins in corporations over the next few years.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.



  • Yeah, But...I Can't Afford SEO!

    by Stoney deGeyter

    In many ways I'm an extremely budget-conscious person. I don't like spending money when I can get the same thing cheaper and just as easily. But, over the years, I began to discover a timeless truth: You truly do get what you pay for!

    Unfortunately, that's a truth I had to learn the hard way. Cheap iPhone charging cables on Amazon rarely last long. Cheaper quotes from a handyman usually mean he doesn't do a great job. Negotiate someone down in price, you're usually negotiating down on quality as well.

    I could go on, but I think most of you have experienced what I'm talking about. Which leads me to all you Yeah Butters who think they can't afford SEO. The truth is, you can't afford NOT to SEO your website!

    seo-bag-of-gold1-300x300.jpgNot long ago a company came to us wanting to invest in SEO. They were currently spending over $1.5M per year on offline ads, which is no small sum of money. As we talked to them about an SEO campaign that amounted to less than 10% of their phone book advertising, they asked incredulously, "How do small businesses afford SEM?"!

    Marketing Investment Is All About Priorities

    I find it odd that we easily find money for entertainment, but when it comes to investing in our businesses, we suddenly can't afford a good marketing campaign. Now I get it--one is a personal expenditure, and we are all need to enjoy life a bit. But if you look at the businesses that make the most money, it's usually those that provide some form of entertainment! If even a fraction of our "entertainment" money went back into business growth, there is almost nothing that a business owner could not afford to do.

    The beauty of online marketing is that it's all trackable. If you knew that for every $1 you gave me, you would get $10 back, what would you do to scrounge up $100, $1,000 or even $1M?

    Unfortunately, online marketing isn't as forecastable as that--there are no guarantees on your return--but good SEO has proven time and again to deliver profitable results. You just have to find the right partner to work with.

    There's Gold In That There SEO!

    Some businesses understand the value of SEO. Many companies we partner with started with small SEO budgets years ago. As they saw their businesses succeed through their online marketing efforts, they continued to invest accordingly. These companies have grown several hundred percent because they realized the value in SEO and were not afraid to keep investing in it.

    Not everyone can afford a large-scale SEO campaign. That's OK, but you have to start somewhere if you want to get anywhere. Many SEO firms offer everything from consulting for $100/hour to complete campaigns that run several thousands of dollars a month. Start where you can and grow your SEO budget as your business grows.

    Take a little and turn it into a little more. It's not the way to the quickest success, but at least its something. SEO isn't out of your reach. If you think you can't afford SEO, just remember that you can't afford NOT to SEO even more.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.



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