In South Jersey and Philadelphia, you can find at least 50-60 companies or local SEO experts that offer monthly SEO/Internet Marketing services. Each one may offer something a bit different, from services, packages, etc., but there’s always one main factor that customers and clients use to make the choice of which SEO Agency they ultimately decide to work with.

Price.

While price is important in deciding to hire an SEO company, keep in mind the old saying “you get what you pay for” will always ring true. If you went to a mechanic and one place charged a significantly lesser price for services, would you be suspect? How about a house that’s $400,000 versus on that is $50,000? Which would you expect to be the better property to live in?

According to a survey on SEOMOZ (now MOZ.com), the average SEO company charges in two ways: by the hour, or a monthly retainer. The average going hourly rate ranges from $55 to $250 an hour, and up, and monthly costs can be all over depending on varied factors. So, let’s say we’re at $100 and hour, and you’re paying $99.00 a month. What could you do for an hour a month that would be worth it?

Here are 3 downsides to Cheap SEO.

Quality – The SEO agency in the city charges $1500 a month just for the basics. The other guy on Craigslist will do it for $250 a month. Then there’s all the “yellow book” related services that offer introduction packages starting at $99 a month. Forget the $1500 a month agency, who are they kidding?

Actually, it’s the other guys that are kidding you, out of your money. How much do you make an hour? Now multiply that by the amount of hours you work a day, week or month. Now what if your boss came to you and said we found someone to do your job for a quarter of what we pay you, would you be happy? Also, what if you were a boss and someone made that offer, but said instead of 40 hours a week, they’d work for less money, but also only put in 2 hours a week? Not exactly enticing, is it?

When you cut costs, you cut the amount of time that goes into your site. On the other side, it can also mean outsourcing the work to a lower cost worker overseas. So, now you’re site is being handled in the Philippines or India and the quality is all over the place. Sure your costs are down, but so it the quality.

Results – Let’s stay on time for this one. So, you’ve went with the cheaper SEO company because they have a great price. They’re now doing a whopping 3 hours of work a month on your website. That includes the time it takes to email you (logged and deducted), time to run reports (logged and deducted), maybe a phone call or two (logged, logged and deducted) and where does that leave you with actual Search Engine Optimization and Internet Marketing work done? 1-1.5 hours? I know I have phone calls with clients that take up 3-4 hours a month added up, so would that be fair to pay just to talk to your SEO company?

This means little to no results happen for anything significant. Oh, don’t worry, because the “cheap SEO” company already built that into their sales pitch, with the promise of landing 1 keyword in the top 10 in 9-12 months, or “it can take up to a year to see the top 50 even!” – Your results are going to reflect what has put in to the work. Low quality work means low quality results.

Cost – Yes, we mentioned price being a factor, but we’re talking cost. The salesperson at CHEAPO SEO sold you a great SEO plan for $250 a month. Much cheaper than the other company offered for $900 a month, or the other who wanted $1500. You just saved a ton of money!

Actually, no, you didn’t.

Let’s take $250, add 12 months. That’s $3000. You were sold something on price only, not features, certainly not benefits or results – but it cost less. You even negotiated a better price to get that $250, which was easily met by the eager salesperson wanting your business. Now, the other company outlined everything they would do, how many keywords, Google and Bing, all the right words. $900 a month, and 3 months in those clients are seeing leads, clicks and calls because they put the time into local listings, Google+ and Places, great new website content and new on-site SEO.The other company?

That isn’t even part of your services package!

In the long run, cost isn’t measured day 1. Internet Marketing is a continual process. SEO is a daily task to either do or monitor. What you save now, you may lose tomorrow. What you put out today might be returned 10 fold in a few months. Be sure you’re paying the right price for the right services, not something that just sounds good and doesn’t cost much. There’s a reason SEO costs what it does, and that’s mainly because it’s a skilled industry with people who should be informed and experienced in what they do, and in an industry that changes almost weekly. SEO in 2012 is vastly different in 2013, as it will be in 2014, 2015 and so on.

Penny wise, dollar foolish.

Your website, and your business, is your livelihood, and you should keep it in the best hands and with the best company managing it that you can afford. If you can’t afford SEO, then you probably should be trying to do it on your own, or not doing it. Search Engine Optimization and any Internet Marketing, Pay Per Click Campaign, Social Media Marketing all take an investment to do right. Many businesses small and large invest 1-2 hours a day on their Internet Marketing. Some companies, in many cases, have a team of dedicated in-house staff working with management and other departments to implement strategy.

SEO isn’t something that’s done cheap or that should be done cheaply. More damage can come from cheap, bad work than is worth the perceived savings. If you can’t afford to pay a dedicated SEO Expert or Internet Marketing Agency to handle your business, it’s better to invest in some good books on Amazon, or use your money wisely elsewhere, or hire an SEO Consultant to educate you on best practices so you can maintain your own projects and efforts efficiently.

In our ongoing efforts in refining our SEO Strategy periodically, achieving awards from advertising, marketing and paid promotions will pay off in the short and long terms.

As discussed in my previous article, a well-organized and successful local search engine strategy does take focus planning, systematic implementation and long term dedications.  The long hours of work will pay off with higher search engine rankings in a short period of time.

Here are five tips:

 

Google Local Listings

 

Google has the most accurate local business database.  They have combined this listing data with Google maps and Google plus profiles.  Users can list their businesses after small business verification process.  Google continues to improve its map navigation features in Local business listings.

 

Google+

 

Setup Google+ for your business and furnish it with interior shop images as these can be viewed when using the Street view, adding great value to new audiences, engaging videos and relevant topical posts that support your brand identify.

 

Submit to Local Directories and Create Local Search Profiles

 

It is important to complete local profiles of the three main search engines, Google, Bing, Yahoo.  These local search profiles are featured prominently on a search engine results page for a local search.  Basic listings are free but paid enhanced listings offer more options like pictures, logos, graphics and a more detailed description of your business.  Include local directories like Yellow Pages and Local.com and for many businesses it makes sense to have a Yelp presence.

 

Establish a multi-network presence

 

Create a multi-network presence by building your businesses profiles on as many social networks as possible, Linkedin, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr, Pinterest and Medium ensure your businesses address and contact details are filled out on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Think about your customers search habits

 

Where are they?  Are they searching from home or are they using their mobile devices?  If they are on the road, are they going to use speech recognition to search?  If so, it may be wise to adopt a far more diverse, set of long-tailed search queries, as your keyword focus?

Look at it this way, if a customer finds you in the listings, will they be put off by a poorly designed mobile site?  I hear over 50% of users say they would not recommend a business with a badly designed mobile website.

Conclusion:

Search engine results are personalized and depend on factors including your search habits, your social media connections, and your location.  Therefore, it is important for businesses to have a local search presence, especially if the business is one that only operates locally.

In late August, Google announced a new search algorithm called Hummingbird.

Google Hummingbird is not only an update, but a new manner in which the search engine will process a query. The new algorithm update will redefine how organic SEO companies and experts will view their practices.

What is new in Google Hummingbird?

Google will attempt to understand the intent of the query typed to produce more specific results. The search engine now will focus more on individual intent as opposed to individual words or search terms. The Hummingbird algorithm, which is semantic based, pays more attention to every word in the query and tries to ensure that the whole meaning and intent of the conversation is taken into account. The results that are then obtained because the pages match with the meaning or intent of the query.
One of the reasons why this algorithm will work is because it is seeking to be in tandem with the way queries are now posted.

Based on Hummingbird’s influence on SEO best practices should focus more on the following:

  • Queries, needs and problems posed. Focus on delivering the answer and provide solutions.
  • To identify the intent of the user, engaging with them on social media platforms will provide valuable clues.
  • Understand the idea behind the new Google algorithm and align themselves with new process of handling queries and searches.

Google mentions that SEO experts and companies need to be mindful of a few things, such as: high quality content that is shareable, link-able, engaging and original have nothing to be concerned about. The very basic signals that were important in the past continue to retain their importance.
In brief, based on the manner in which Google will now handle queries and data, organic SEO experts and companies will need to focus more on the intent and less on the keyword.

It’s inevitable in this day and age that consumers will turn to search engines to search for services, shop or look up questions they need answers to. Using Google or Bing is how people find their needs, replacing immediate word of mouth and Yellow Page listings that did not give more than name or number among many different listings.

This is where SEOSearch Engine Optimization, allowed businesses and web sites who followed best practices to rise to the top above their competition and to the eyes of a paying public.

The focus of SEO has always been the “keyword”, or “key phrase”, a search term one puts in to find products, services and information. It was through keywords that a business would optimize and gauge success, based off where they ranked in search.

It is easy to see the importance of ranking well, as a few spots can mean hundreds or thousands of dollars in business, or complete anonymity. It’s also easy to see why an SEO or a business owner could become obsessive over rank.

It’s frustrating, but ranking changes and with new algorithms and now Hummingbird, what had you #2 can have you #30 or vice versa before you know what caused it.

Does that mean success starts and ends with keyword ranking success or failure?

It’s important to have a quality and effectively run SEO strategy in place using best practices to lay foundation for success. This allows Google to place you in the best position it deems fit for your site.

Other factors in place are your location due to search personalization, which delivers results based off your location, more focused if you’re logged into your Google account.

You also need to check your analytics to see where your traffic is coming from. Do you have a large number of visits and conversions, even if you’re not ranking well? Check to see where that traffic is coming from. Social media, including Facebook and Google+, Twitter posts, Citations could all be pieces you have well in place that feed traffic to your site that outweigh your keyword ranking success.

Ranking is still a big factor to have in your favor, but don’t obsess with your position while not focusing on other areas of Search Engine Optimization that actually paying off and delivering sales, conversions and/or traffic.

MOZ, a leading Internet Marketing/SEO site, has compiled their annual list of Top SEO Ranking factors for 2015.

The data was compiled through a survey of 120 Search Engine Optimization Experts who detailed and ranked the individual factors on a scale of importance, highest to least.

Through this data, Moz analysed and utilized their own collected data to create the new list of factors.

One of the most interesting and certainly up for debate factors is Google +1’s being noted as a top factor in ranking. This is interesting since Matt Cutts from Google himself stated in a recent interview that +1’s were not a significant ranking factor. Either the day to day SEO’s have misinterpreted the importance of +1’s or Google is smoke screening to prevent abuse.

To view the entire MOZ Report, you can find it HERE.

Page authority, unique content and quality over quantity of backlinks are still important, and should always been a large focus of a successful SEO campaign. Social Media signals, LIKE’s and engagement equally show up as top levels of importance.

With the new Hummingbird algorithm in place, new data and analytics will be available that could influence the factors and their individual levels of importance.

To have your site reviewed for Top Ranking Factors for SEO and Hummingbird Site Analysis and Recovery, Contact Impact Internet Marketing at 856-778-7308 for more help.

3 Tips For Local SEO Success

Some of the best short and long term business growth will come from refining your SEO strategy periodically.  You will get rewards from paid promotions, advertising and marketing do have their rewards as we know.  These strategies need to be kept up which of course cost money.

A well-organized and successful local search engine strategy takes focus planning, systematic implementation and long term dedication.  If you perm the right methods of optimization by following procedures, you will see significant difference in your search engine rankings in a few weeks.

Research Keywords

This is a good one.  Assuming you’ve already established the niche for your small business.  By having this already worked out makes keyword hunting a bit easier since you already have an idea of who your main audience is.  You need to find out how many searches there are for these keywords and the competition you’re dealing with for the same words.  You can use free services to assist you with this step.  If you want further means, you can opt into paid services that will grant you access to even more word research options.

This keyword research is important because these words have to be all throughout your content for future optimization steps.

Choose an SEO Friendly Website Design

The type of code you decide to use, its organization and what it contains are important features of long-term SEO.  One rule is for optimization friendly design is you need to insure you build a site that is easy to read to the search engine indexing bots that crawl the web.

This means your site should not have too much flash especially for the demonstration of important content.  Quality content is the meat of what you want your viewers (customers) to focus on with your product.  Be careful not to use Flash as your site page navigation interface.

Once you’ve built your website, don’t forget to focus on the details on-page optimization.  These things include making sure that you have text-based HTML attributes to all videos, flash elements and images on your site.

Create Quality Content and Build Links

You’ve researched your niche keywords and created a great optimized website layout and you’ve got pages of SEO friendly URLs to fill.  This means you are now prepared for the most important part of long term, high quality SEO.  This is content.

By content, we mean quality content.  Update your site regularly with informative, useful and relevant to your target audience.  You need to create content that engages site visitors, making them likely to not only visit your website themselves but to share with others they know that have the same interests.

When this is applied consistently, it will bring you a reputation for expertise and trustworthiness that will attract the attention of not only more readers but also other sites with interests that are related to your own.  Your site visitors may share your page(s) through their social media accounts while other site owners will link to your content on their own from their own high quality sites.

These two trends are your best sources for organic link building, making you look popular in the eyes if Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.

Being focused on your company’s SEO strategic planning is an integral aspect of growing your small business.  By putting in the necessary and required time and energy into improving your SEO, will promote better growth opportunities and will insure your site and business is successful.

Having a properly optimized website and Search Engine Optimization is a must in this age where online is everything and how you fall in place ranking coverts to dollars and cents. You need to make sure you have every piece you have online working the best strategy and implementations in line with proper SEO guidelines.

SEO comes in two main areas of execution: On Page and Off Page, or On Site and Off Site. On-page SEO factors are things you can do to make your website more attractive to Search Engines.

Here are a few  important On-Page SEO factors to follow:

1. Content

The most important on-page factor for SEO is content.   The content must be high-quality with substance, leaving the reader wanting for more.  Search engines are designed to work for the user, not the business.  For a web page to be indexable for a given keyword, it must have content that fulfills the user’s search query.

Keep your web page current.  Mix text with images that relate to the title.  Create a news page with on-going changes, updates.  The page should discuss what people are looking for when they search your site.  Write content that is interesting and helpful for the user.

2.  Insert your keyword into the first 50 words

When indexing your site most search engines focus on the first part of your page.  For this reason, it is very important that you include your main keyword phrase into the first 50 words of your blog.

3.  Word your ‘Title Tags’ carefully

Title Tags  – it determines what text displays at the top of your browser screen when you view your website.  Your title tag usually determines the title of your website when it appears in the search engine results.  Use a lot of interesting keywords that will attract your audience.

These tags show the title of your web page.  This text shows up as the clickable heading of your search engine listing and at the top of the browser window.  It’s crucial that your title tags give the search engines a very clear message about the subject of your page, so they should contain the keywords that you want to optimize for.

4.  Include your keywords in your internal links

The search engines use the words in your text link or anchor text as a factor in determining the nature of the page you are linking to; this means that they assume a link with the text “Dog training” is probably a link to a site about dog training.

You can leverage this concept to give your own pages a boost.

5.  Use H1 tags and use them well

H1 tags are similar to newspaper headlines. They are the first things that the search engines look at when indexing your page and ideally, they will give a good indication of what your page is all about. If your H1 tags contain your keywords, then your page will be seen as more relevant.

The recent Paula Deen fall from grace and events in similar veins always bring to the forefront how important it is to maintain a strong reputation. The greater view you have of the public eye for good, the wider view you have in negative times. Seems we only grow in exposure during a negative event, and the bigger you grow, the harder the fall.

The field is littered with casualties of those who were mislead or through their own undoing lost everything due to poor Online Reputation Management. In this day and age, this isn’t something you can do after the fact, you must now be constant and continually proactive to maintain your good standing and your proud reputation.

Here are 2 simple tips to start managing your online reputation.

1. Sign up for Google Alerts!

Sound simple, but many people outside internet related industries aren’t aware of it’s existence. It’s a great tool to know what’s going on with your business, website and you! Set up alerts for the business name, the website address, and any members of the organization that might have a chance at being mentioned. This includes the business owner(s), and principals, managers or anyone that you have acting as a face for your company.

Using Google Alerts to start your Online Reputation Management is the beginning to identifying where you stand online and what’s being said about you.

2. Monitor your Social Media and Engage.

People will come to your business page on Google+, Facebook and Twitter. Most times it will be for something positive. When this happens, be sure to engage the customer positively. Thank them, show your appreciation for their business. Encourage them to spread the word, to keep checking back. If a customer feels appreciated, they will be less likely to do business elsewhere.

If for some chance the engagement is negative – stop! Think before you act and when you act act professionally. You can’t please everyone, even when you try your best to. Bad moods, bad circumstances, misunderstandings all lead to catalysts that could cause a bad experience. Or maybe you just didn’t do something right.

There was a restaurant making news recently, Amy’s Baking Company, who would engage with their customers by fighting with them. They were on the show Kitchen Nightmare’s where their experiences and bad reputation was only magnified a hundredfold. The fought with their main source of income and business, their customers. This is an example of how to do everything wrong. Once this became know, the door was open and everything came out and this business will never recover and most likely we’ve seen the end of them.

Address the issues at hand, and try to establish dialogue that shows the customer you have heard their concerns and wish to make amends, or take steps to prevent those issues in the future. If you potentially lose that customer, others may see you took the time to address issues and decide you’re worth giving a shot.

If you have a tendency to overreact, fly off the handle, act impulsively, or are unable to manage your online reputation, it is best to go with a company that professionally runs your online reputation management services properly and effectively.