Jul 18, 2016
High rankings in the search engines will make any website owner proud. As a leading SEO company in Chicago, we […]
High rankings in the search engines will make any website owner proud. As a leading SEO company in Chicago, we know firsthand the many benefits and advantages offered by a search engine optimization campaign. We also know the limitations on SEO. Work an SEO strategy just right and businesses of every size and scope, even a startup, can stand out from the online competition. However, there might be a time where an SEO professional tells you that SEO is NOT the solution.
Once our clients understand SEO, they often collaborate with us on ways to effectively include this method into their current web strategy. While SEO in Chicago is one of our core services, we don’t always recommend moving forward with a search engine optimization plan. Our reluctance to work with a client on SEO may initially come to a surprise. But we don’t shut the door on SEO without explaining why. We will sit down with our partners to discuss why, or why not, they should consider a specific marketing approach.
Not sure if you should team up with our Chicago SEO firm? Here are some of the most common reasons why SEO in Chicago may not make sense for your organization:
Industry Saturation (A.K.A. Too Much Competition): Type in a few common industry keywords; how many results return from your search? If you find yourself weeding through an endless list of competitors, a general SEO campaign may not prove enough to help you stand out from the opposition. At Design & Promote, we suggest pinpointing a few distinctive specialties to really separate your company from everyone else operating in your industry.
New Product Provider: Maybe too much competition isn’t the issue; perhaps you’re a business bringing a new product/service to market with no current competitors. Emerging product lines often struggle with a SEO strategy because customers simply don’t know how to search for your company. The team at our Chicago SEO company can help you create a plan that showcases your business in various search results based on solving problems for your consumer sect, rather than relying just on industry keywords.
Wanting Complete Site Control: As a business owner, it’s understandable to want some control over your website. However, an effective SEO plan often means strategically reworking your current content. If you are ready to give up some of your creative control, this type of marketing may not be right for you.
Not Ready To Commit To The Process: A plan for SEO in Chicago can yield impressive results; however, achieving sustainable marketing momentum requires time and patience. If you’re looking for a quick fix, this strategy probably isn’t the right option for you.
Keeping The ROI Bar Too High: Finally, many business owners come into the SEO process wanting maximum results, without having the appropriate type of budget to achieve it. Our team can work with you to ensure you have reasonable expectations on results. We can partner with you to take management steps forward to build sustainable momentum for long-term ROI.
Rest assured, if it turns out that SEO is not the right solution for you, it’s important to work with an agency who gives you some other options. There are other things you can do to craft your best online presence, i.e. redesigning your website or pumping up your social media marketing. It’s important to discuss your options with a search engine optimization professional.
Want to get in touch with a Chicago SEO firm? Contact the team at Design & Promote today!
You already know content marketing is important. Blogs, articles, case studies, press releases and other material that addresses your audience’s interests can encourage trust, generate leads and deliver conversions.
The question is what type of content should you produce? What topics should you address in your blogs and articles? What material should you cover in your case studies and press releases?
There’s a simple way to uncover these things; looking at your web analytics. Your SEO Chicago agency can show you how to leverage these data to create content your audience will love.
Web analytics are an important part of every search engine optimization campaign. They reveal how people are discovering your site, whether your search listings are compelling to them and how deeply they’re engaging with the material on your pages. That insight should inform your content marketing strategy.
For example, suppose you’re an orthodontist in Chicago. Your website showcases the services you offer to your community. You know you should create content that encourages people to call your office, but are unsure regarding the subject matter to focus on.
Your site’s search-based analytics can provide everything you need to get started. You’ll see the keyword phrases prospective clients used on Google to find your site. Examples might include “treatment for TMJ,” “ceramic braces” or “dental implants.” These phrases represent topics your target market wants to read about. Create content that caters to those interests.
The keywords people use to find your website suggest how close they are to making a purchase decision. You need to be able to distinguish between those that indicate commercial intent and those that don’t.
For example, suppose your web analytics reveals that people are finding your site after searching Google for “treatment for TMJ.” That alone doesn’t tell you whether those individuals are ready to call your office and schedule a consultation. They might merely be looking for information regarding treatment options. Or they might be looking for details concerning symptoms of TMJ.
But suppose your analytics reveal the search phrases “treatment for TMJ in Chicago” and “TMJ treatment financing.” These keywords show commercial intent. That being the case, it’s in your interest to create blogs, articles and other types of content that focus on those specific topics.
The SEO Chicago firm you hire to spearhead your search marketing and content marketing initiatives will have a system for using analytics to direct content creation. If you’re handling those chores on your own, you may not have such a system in place.
That puts you at a disadvantage.
It’s a good idea to establish guidelines that will streamline the process of using your search analytics to inform your content marketing. Otherwise, you risk wasting time with data that won’t significantly move the needle on your goals.
• Focus on keywords that deliver 5% or more of your monthly impressions on Google.
• Highlight keywords for which your site appears on the first page of search listings.
• Pay attention to keywords associated with a click-through rate of 20% or higher.
• Assign priority to keywords that signal commercial intent.
• Take note of keywords that deliver 10% or more of your monthly search impressions, but carry a CTR of 5% or less. Rework the pages that display for those phrases to make them more compelling to users.
Keep in mind the above recommendations are merely guidelines. The ones you establish to guide your content marketing efforts will depend on your current search visibility, goals and available time.
There’s no one single method to using search analytics to inform the creation of new, engaging content for your audience. There are a hundred ways to massage the data and leverage it for that purpose.
The important thing to remember is that you have a mountain of valuable insight at your fingertips. It reveals the topics your market wants to read about and the type of content that will move them closer toward making a purchase. Use that insight to your advantage. Create compelling content that speaks directly to your audience’s interests and needs, and watch as your organic search traffic explodes.
As a leader in all things SEO, Chicago web design firm Design & Promote offers a full range of digital marketing services that helps today’s businesses reach and engage their audiences. From corporate branding and social media management to landing page optimization and content marketing, Design & Promote can oversee your entire marketing strategy. Contact us today to find out how you can dominate your niche in 2016.
Twenty years ago, the fact that you had a website was enough. People would come for the novelty.
Ten years ago, it became tougher to attract visitors. But it was still easy if you knew how to build a mass of incoming links.
Today, competition for visibility and visitor loyalty is fierce. Your site not only needs constant exposure to your target market, but must also engage those who visit.
Why? Because the moment you drop the ball, your 10 biggest competitors will be waiting to court your audience. And you can bet they’ll pull out the stops to keep them engaged.
There are 21 things you should be doing with your site as 2016 rounds the corner. Together, they’ll help to ensure the right people see your site at the right time. Read on for the 21 keys to keeping your site visible to your target audience.
Key #1: Create A Sitemap
You should have a page on your site that contains links to other pages. That helps the search engine spiders do their job. Will the spiders be able to crawl your site without a sitemap? Probably. But why not make their job easier?
Key #2: Differentiate Your Title Tags
You’re trying to rank on Google for various keywords. Make sure each page on your site has a different keyword in the title tags.
Key #3: Reclaim Bad Links
Links are the currency of SEO. The problem is, there are a lot bad (i.e. broken) links out there. Go through your site and find internal links that are broken. Then, use Google Webmaster Tools to find external links that are broken. Contact the folks running those sites and ask them to correct the links.
Key #4: Focus On High-Value Keywords
High-value keywords are those that are relevant to your business and easy to rank for. Focus first on those that indicate commercial intent.
Key #5: Find And Purge Orphan Pages
Orphans have no links pointing to them. They get little to no traffic. And the few folks who stumble upon the pages usually leave unsatisfied.
Find such pages and get rid of them. On the slim chance your orphans are important to your messaging, add links to them on your sitemap.
Key #6: 301 Redirect Changed URLs
URLs change. Maybe you’re transitioning from dynamic to static URL. Perhaps you’re shortening them to make them easier to remember. Whatever the case, create 301 redirects on the old URLs to automatically send folks to the new ones.
Key #7: Customize Your Default 404 Page
If someone tries to find a nonexistent page on your site, they’ll be presented with a generic 404 page. Most such pages provide zero direction. But you can create a custom 404 that provides links to other areas of your site.
Don’t leave visitors hanging in limbo. Give them options.
Key #8: Install An Analytics Package
Analytics tell you where your traffic is coming from, which browsers your visitors are using and the most popular pages on your site. You’ll also see views, unique visits, bounce rates, goals, conversion rates and more.
Don’t miss out on this valuable data. Install analytics and start tracking your key metrics.
Key #9: Make Your Images Search Engine-Friendly
Just like you optimize your pages, you should also optimize your images. Make the filenames keyword-rich. Use relevant, keyword-rich alt tags. Keep the file sizes small so they’ll load quickly. Link to each image from an XML image sitemap.
Key #10: Blog
Blogging isn’t a fad. It’s a key business tool you can use to connect with your customers and prospects. Your site should have a blog regardless of your industry.
Key #11: Appeal To The Eyes
Written content is fine. But it’s not enough. People are drawn to visuals. Pull readers in by using attractive images on each blog post.
Key #12: Clarify Your Message
Are you trying to reinforce your brand story? Or are you trying to communicate why prospects should hire your firm?
Whatever the case, you have 3 seconds before you lose the visitor’s attention. If he or she leaves without understanding what you’re trying to say, it’ll take a Herculean effort to bring them back.
Be concise and get to the point.
Key #13: Have A Way To Get In Touch
You need a way to reach out to the folks who visit your site. Don’t expect them to return on their own. Most won’t. Instead, offer an incentive in exchange for the visitor’s name and email address.
Key #14: Provide Direction On Every Page
At the end of each blog post, tell the reader to sign up for your mailing list. On each product page, instruct the visitor to make a purchase. On your informational pages, direct the individual to download a white paper or case study.
Place a call to action on every page of your site.
Key #15: Add Social Media Buttons
Social sharing buttons encourage visitors to tell others about your content. Some social media tools allow visitors to add content to your site (you’re still the gatekeeper and can control what gets posted). Other tools allow folks to sign in using their Facebook or Google Plus accounts.
Social media integration will broaden your reach and increase your visibility.
Key #16: Map Out A Defined Visitor Journey
A visitor journey is the path a person will take once he or she arrives at your site. You define that path. Your goal is to move the visitor closer and closer to becoming a customer.
Key #17: Create A Responsive Design
Your site’s design elements should resize based on the devices used by visitors. Your site should be attractive and easy to navigate regardless of whether someone is viewing it on their laptop, Android phone or iPad.
Key #18: Schedule Automatic Backups
Don’t assume your server is bulletproof. If there’s a hiccup, you may lose portions of your site. Make sure you have backups in place to reload in the event a hiccup occurs. The best approach is to schedule backups to execute automatically on your server. Schedule them weekly at a minimum. If possible, have them occur daily.
Key #19: Make Sure Your Site Loads Quickly
Slow-loading pages irritate visitors. They also vex Google, prompting it to penalize your rankings. Optimize your page load speed to avoid both problems.
Key #20: Keep Plugins And Extensions Up-To-Date
Developers routinely update their plugins, extensions and themes to resolve bugs, add features, improve performance and tighten security. Make sure you have the latest versions installed on your site. Don’t risk a crash.
Key #21: Pay Attention To Admin Details
Do you know when your domain expires? Are you certain your credit card information is up-to-date at your registrar and host? Double-check these details. Then, add reminders to your online calendar to check them again when the deadlines approach.
If you want your site to be visible in 2016, there are a lot of details you’ll need to address. Contact our design experts to find out how we can help. Design & Promote can handle the marketing, search engine optimization, social media integration and brand messaging to ensure your site is found by your target audience.
As a leading SEO company in Chicago, we know that online marketing techniques continuously evolve. Here at Design & Promote, we focus on staying ahead of the Chicago SEO curve to consistently give our clients customized strategies and solutions that yield the results they deserve.
Case in point: other SEO agencies in Chicago may only offer online marketing tactics for content alone. Not at Design & Promote. We know firsthand that creating an effective Chicago SEO campaign means including both content and image strategies. Optimizing both copy and graphics can elevate results and give our clients a much needed browser boost with relevant searches.
Our SEO company in Chicago will optimize your page graphics, because at Design & Promote, we use the very latest innovations and tactics. During our partnership, we will work with you to conceptualize page layouts and pinpoint the right images to complement and strengthen your content campaigns.
One of the first things we will discuss is the placement of your graphics within your content. Many of our clients are surprised when learning just how “smart” the search engine algorithms can be. Most don’t realize that browsers can take in both the content and graphics as a whole and try to determine their relevance to each other. We use this to our advantage by only using images that reinforce the message and main topic found throughout the page.
Utilizing proper alt tags can also make a major difference in your Chicago SEO campaigns. We’ve all clicked on sites where the attached images won’t render; at Design & Promote can turn a rendering failure into potential opportunity. By using strategic alt tags (aka text displayed in the absence of a designated image), we can still convey your marketing message and compel users to click on.
Every online image has a dpi (dots per inch) total. As a general rule of thumb, our creative team strives to use graphics with a 72dpi for optimal quality and seamless download. It is possible to use higher dpi images; however, we stay below 300dpi to keep your pages loading seamlessly for an optimal user experience.
How you save your images can also have an impact on your browser victories. We never use generic file names such as “Image” or “Product.” Instead, we utilize keyword rich file titles so the search engines can recognize exactly what your page images are.
We don’t stop with file name alone; at Design & Promote we also consider file format as well to give your images an added SEO boost. We only use browser supported formats such as JPEG and PNG so your pages get the attention they deserve during relevant online searches.
Finally, rather than distributing your images throughout several directories, our team will create a consolidated image sitemap file for optimal return on your SEO investment.
Are you ready to get started on your customized Chicago SEO solution? Contact the team at Design & Promote today!
Web apps… mobile apps… responsive design.
A few years ago, most of us could ignore the above. None of them had a direct impact on our ability to rank pages in Google and pull targeted traffic to our sites.
Things have changed.
You can no longer afford to ignore how your website appears on mobile devices. Nor can you disregard the experience your visitors have while using their mobiles to navigate your site.
Why not? Because if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re going to see your rankings slip in 2016. Google, Bing and Yahoo have made it clear they expect your site to look good regardless of whether folks are looking at it on their laptops, tablets or phones.
Let’s talk about how responsive design will affect your search rankings in 2016. But first, a few definitions to make sure we’re on the same page…
Web apps – applications that run in your browser. You’re probably using them on a regular basis, even if you don’t realize it. For example, if you have a Gmail account, you’re using a web app.
Mobile apps – applications developed for phones and tablets. Do you listen to Pandora on your HTC One? Do you use your iPad to check in on Facebook? If so, you’re using mobile apps.
Responsive design – a method of building a website that automatically resizes according to platform. It ensures your site is as easy to navigate on an iPhone as it is on a 27-inch monitor.
Responsive Design And Search Rankings: What You Need To Know
“Mobilegeddon” officially happened on April 22, 2015.
The day before, Google announced it would start giving a ranking boost to sites that were mobile-friendly. If you were one of the forward-thinking business owners who had already made the necessary changes, you were in a good position. On the other hand, if you were caught unaware, you had to scramble in order to maintain your rankings.
Let’s say this is the first time you’re hearing that mobile-friendliness is a ranking factor. If that’s the case, you have a lot of work to do. Making your site mobile-friendly isn’t just a simple matter of installing a plugin. You need to rebuild from the ground up.
Before you set aside a lot of time and money for a design overhaul, it’s worth finding out whether your site already looks good on mobile devices.
A Simple Way To Test Whether Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly
There’s an easy way to test your site. Click this link and type your domain name into the form field on that page.
Google will analyze your site in real time – it only takes a minute – and tell you whether it complies with its mobile standards. If your site isn’t compliant, Google will display “Not mobile-friendly” in bold, red letters.
Underneath, it will list the reason(s). For example, you might see the following:
“Content wider than screen“
You’ll also be presented with a number of recommendations for making your site mobile-friendly. The recommendations are based on whether your site is built on WordPress, another CMS (content management system) or if you or someone else hand-coded it.
How To Make Sure Your Site Ranks High In 2016
Obviously, there are a lot of factors that influence how your site ranks in the search engines. Google and its counterparts take into account page load speed, keyword usage, backlinks from unique IPs and domains, and how you use anchor text in those links.
And that’s barely scraping the surface.
One of the factors that will be important next year is mobile-friendliness. It’s already important. But Google, Yahoo and Bing are expected to crank up the juice as more and more people use their phones and tablets to engage online.
Is your website ready for 2016? Does it boast a responsive design that resizes according to platform? If not, contact our team for help. Design & Promote has earned a reputation for building gorgeous mobile-friendly sites that deliver results.
If blogging is one of the ways you promote your business, make sure you’re SEO blogging. Writing a blog for SEO isn’t like writing an ordinary blog, it needs to appeal to both search engines and your readers. You may have heard that blogging is necessary, but unless you know how to write for search engine optimization, your blog is invisible to Google.
You may have content, but because you’re not writing for SEO, you will struggle to catch the attention of your readers (because they won’t find it through a Google search). Here at Design & Promote, a Chicago SEO company, we advocate using SEO blogging techniques to clients. And in this post, we want to share how you can improve your own SEO blogging strategy.
Your goal is to get a first page Google ranking, and the closer you are to the top of the page, the better. A good example of a company who improved their SEO ranking is Victory Rehab, a chiropractic group in Naperville, IL. If you search for “Naperville chiropractor,” you’ll find them listed second in Google and third among organic search results. If you look at the search results, you will notice that their description includes: “Naperville,” “chiropractic,” and “chiropractor” in bold – two of the words you entered into the search box. And notice that their blog uses the same “formula” in their meta description. See the graphic below for an example of a meta description.
Keywords are essential to ranking. Some SEO experts today suggest that you should research “high traffic” keywords to determine what words or phrases generate the most traffic from the search engines to your site. Not so fast! Businesses that want local traffic should include a geographic term, such as a town or state.
In the past, some website developers and bloggers loaded their copy with keywords; this made their copy sound artificial and awkward. Google algorithms are now focused on a site’s readability and downgraded site listings that sounded “spammy” from too many keywords. More SEO blogging mistakes to avoid:
• Place keywords in your title, post name in the permalink, first sentence, and a couple times throughout the copy.
• Use one or more keywords in the subheadings and in the meta description.
• Name images in your post with keywords, which will also help your ranking.
Google Analytics can help you optimize your web pages and blogs. Also, take a look at the most popular Google pages in a particular search and study how they’ve used SEO to improve their raking. Try to emulate those techniques in your own pages and blogs.
What should you do if your page or blog appears on the first page of a Google search, but it’s at the bottom of the page? This means you have already gotten Google’s attention, but you need to optimize a little more. There are a few ways to place your blog higher on a Google search page:
• Link the post to other content on your website. Websites seldom offer an encyclopedic knowledge of a topic. If you only briefly explain a topic in a blog, linking readers to a page that has more information boosts your SEO.
• Share the post to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and more. You can post directly or use a service such as Hootsuite.
• Build your backlinks so that other posts and websites link back to you. Creating reviews on sites like Yelp!, listings.local.yahoo.com, Hubpages, Google Places, and LinkedIn will help create backlinks to your site.
• Increase the length of the post. It’s important to know each site’s requirements and the word count and experiment with writing longer posts that are between 1,000-1500 words.
Remember to have a goal for each blog post. Two simple questions to ask yourself before blogging:
• What do you want to say?
• How can you tie it to a business goal and keyword?
If you’re all dried up for content, pay attention to the questions your clients ask and answer them in a blog post. You’ve heard it in school, don’t be afraid to ask a question because chances are someone else has a similar question. You can then later refer clients with similar questions to a blog post! For more insights on the value of SEO blogs and optimizing your blog with keyword research and placement, contact Design & Promote today.
Feb 21, 2016
How Content Marketing And SEO In Chicago Work Together You already know content marketing is important. Blogs, articles, case studies, […]
Nov 16, 2015
As a leading SEO company in Chicago, Design & Promote can help boost marketing ROI with your page graphics.
Nov 15, 2015
Ignoring this Change could Tank your Search Rankings in 2016 Web apps… mobile apps… responsive design. A few years ago, […]
Aug 21, 2015
If blogging is one of the ways you promote your business, make sure you’re SEO blogging. Writing a blog for […]