Thursday, December 27, 2012

Social Media’s Role on SEO

The new year is vastly approaching and you want to drive more traffic to your website.  Makes perfect sense to us!  As a team of web designers and SEO specialists, we cannot stress the importance of SEO enough when it comes to getting more traffic to your website.  We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: social media greatly affects SEO rankings, but what is social media’s role in it all?  Here’s a few ways that social media can and will affect your SEO rankings:

Social media site content speaks to the search engines

Okay, well sort of!  Social media content, when updated regularly and when well written, lets search engines know that your business is an active online participant.  If and when social media engagement becomes a ranking factor for your website, you will surely benefit if you spend time on social media sites.  If you haven’t immersed yourself or your business in social media, now is the time to do it.  Don’t have the time?  Set up a consultation with a social media company or a marketing company well-versed in speaking social media

The more links back to your website the better

The more sites that link back to your website, the better your SEO rankings will be, so this means all those social media sites you have created and began using are great links back to your website.  Because social media sites point back to your website, it will help create better SEO rankings for your website.  As an SEO firm, we always tell clients to picture their website in the center of a spider’s web and that it’s their job to create extensions from that web that will bring people straight to their website.  That is exactly what creating and using social media sites will do for you.  Perhaps someone didn’t find your website yet, but they did find your social media page.  Great.  Now bring them to your website and sell them on your services and products.  That’s what it is all about!

Be an active participant

Don’t expect to receive any kind of rankings boost just because you finally set up that Twitter account last week.  You have to be an active participant and yes, the search engines know who is an active participant and who’s not.  This means that if set up your social media accounts a year ago, but have never used them, they will not do you any good.  Try to set aside time out of your day each day to post some relevant content for potential customers to read and for search engines to grab on to.  Being an active social media participant means that you are posting great, original content, reposting other people’s great content, and interacting with potential customers.  If you find that you just do not have the time consider speaking with a social media firm or a marketing company.

Social media sites provide an opportunity for optimization

Social media sites are a great place for optimization tactics to take place.  Utilize social media sites as a way to get friends, fans and followers back to your website.  Social media profiles can be optimized for search similar to internally optimizing a website, so tag your images, write a great about us or company bio and utilize those keywords. 

The ability of sharing content greatly affects rankings

Encourage friends, fans and followers to share your content.  Sharing content is a great way to give your search engine rankings a boost.  Use strong calls to action in all of your posts and encourage readers to share your content through social networks.

Comment or questions are always welcome, feel free to comment below or contact us.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

What to Expect When You Begin the SEO Process

You’ve began the process of search engine optimization in hopes that it will boost your search engine rankings and get you and your website in front of a larger audience.  What is to be reasonably expected when you begin the SEO process?  Here are a few things to expect when beginning the SEO process:

Rankings won’t happen over night

Often times people will post a blog or two, insert a few links and expect immediate results, but unfortunately SEO doesn’t work like that.  SEO results take time to appear.  Most SEO resources will tell you don’t expect to see any results until the 3 to 6 month mark and for the most part, that is somewhat accurate. 

As a Chicago SEO Firm, our search engine optimization specialists say that there are a lot of variables that will cause a website to rank or not rank highly for chosen keywords.  One variable would be the chosen keyword’s competition association.  If the words you have chosen are highly competitive words (meaning lots of people are using the same keyword) it will be a lot harder for you to rank on it.  It doesn’t mean you should discard the keyword, it just means it may take awhile for you to begin ranking on it.  The other variable that could really affect your ranking results is your industry competition.  If you are in an industry where lots of people are optimizing, then you should expect your own ranking results to take a little more time. 

It’s a time consuming process

Search engine optimization can be a very time consuming process for people and as an SEO firm, we completely understand.  Backlinking, blogging, social media postings, directory and article submissions, and all the other little external optimizing your doing can take up some serious time.  That is why there are lots of SEO companies out there.  If you’re going to pursue doing search engine optimization or really just internet marketing yourself, make sure you put aside enough time out of your day to be able to do it.  Doing the bare minimum isn’t going to get you those results you’re looking for.  If you find yourself with no time to do it (like so many people out there) consider looking for an SEO firm to do the work for you.  Typically, an SEO firm will charge you a set fee per month to perform SEO work.  That set fee will usually include a whole bunch of services determined necessary by both the client and SEO firm.  Working with an SEO company is a great way to get a professional's view on how to get the most out of your website.  An SEO company will help you map out a strategy that will get you rankings.

Stay on top of frequent algorithm changes

Every so often you can expect algorithm changes. In fact, SEOmoz reports that “Google will change its search algorithm up to 500-600 times.”  While most updates made are rather minor, it can still greatly effect your results.  Stay on top of the latest algorithm changes and do your SEO research as frequently as possible.  Another benefit to work with an SEO company is that their search engine optimization specialists stay up to date on the changes knowing exactly when they need to tweak your SEO plans to make sure you are getting the most of your chosen SEO package. 

Have comment or questions regarding beginning the SEO process?  Feel free to comment or contact us.  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Things You Need to Know About SEO

As a Chicago SEO Company we know that starting the all-important process of Search Engine Optimization is no walk in the park.  While many people want to see results overnight, the truth is that it could take anywhere from three months to an entire year to begin seeing solid numbers.  When starting SEO there are some basics you need to take into account to help see your website begin ranking for your chosen keywords.  Here’s our list of the core basics:

1- NO duplicate content: Under no circumstances should you copy content from someone else’s website and paste it on your own and not because that is just plain stealing, but because you will be punished by the search engines for such conduct.  The search engines are looking for original content and in that process, they are apt to rank websites with original content much more highly and penalize anyone who has duplicated content.  Search engine's are all-knowing.  They know who put up the content first and who put it up second and will punish the website that has the bootlegged content accordingly.    

2- Backlinking: Backlinking, what most SEO companies deem as an external SEO service, is the process of providing links to places outside of your website that link directly back to your website.  When you create links from external sites they need to be carefully created to be valuable as links for search engine positioning.  Backlinks are a great external SEO tactic to help your website to improve in search engine rankings. 

3- Quality content: As we already addressed, not only can your website content not be duplicated from another source, but it also needs to be good quality content.  Keyword stuffing your content, which just means filling your content with as many keywords as possible, will only hurt your rankings and the search engines will see that you are doing that and penalize you and your website accordingly.  Instead create great, engaging content that utilizes your keywords properly and that will help you increase your SEOrankings.

4- NO hidden text:  Are you hiding text in your website in hopes that you can trick the search engines into ranking you?  Think again!  Search engines are extremely smart and know when text is being hidden and yes, they will penalize you and your website for it.  Just say NO to hidden text!  Stick to lots of visible, quality text.

5- Powerful title tags:  Title tags are undoubtedly one of the most important parts of searchengine optimization.  Your title tags should comply with the theme of the page.  Each page should have a different title tag since all of your pages are different.  Search engines look to title tags as a simple phrase that lets them know what the page is all about.  It helps greatly with rankings, so make sure you are creating great title tags for all the pages belonging to your website.

Check back with us next Thursday as we continue on with our SEO-themed Thursdays.  If you have any comments or question regarding SEO, feel free to leave us a comment below or contact us with questions.  

Friday, November 30, 2012

Social Media Marketing Tactics for 2013

2013 is rapidly approaching and hopefully by now you and your company have already determined exactly what is going into your 2013 social media marketing plans.  Perhaps you are behind or you are looking to really boost your marketing plans for 2013, then consider a few of our social media marketing tactics for your 2013 plans:

1- Bump up your use of photos:  Consumers love great photographs.  These days we all may be too busy to stop and read a story, but what's great about a good photo is that it can easily grab people's attention.  For 2013, we suggest creating an entire integrated content strategy around photographs using social media sites like Instagram, Pinterest, or even Facebook.  

2- Focus on building consumer trust:  Since trust is such a big part of what makes or breaks a brand, work your hardest on building consumer trust.  Consumers today are savvy and know when they are just being pushed into purchasing a product.  What do you do?  Rather than just plastering ads everywhere, consider sticking relevant and useful content in a multitude of places.  Nowadays, consumers are apt to trust content that comes from a multitude of places in multiple formats.

3- Use your connections: We're all pretty aware that these days consumers are much more likely to trust a recommendation from a friend than social media ads.  Make 2013 a year full of great customer referrals.  Encourage customers to share your company's information via social media.

4- Get personal:  If you are hoping to built trust with customers through social media marketing, get personal.  No one wants to speak to the robot behind the company.  Consumers want to see who your brand really is, so make sure that in the 2013 months you are making an effort to get more personal with your customers.  Social media marketing is a great way to do just that.

5- Build on relationships formed via social media:  One of the best parts of engaging your business in social media is the relationships you are able to form just by using it.  For 2013 make it your personal mission to take social media relationships further.  Take relationships formed on social media to the next level and try out an email campaign to continually reach your audience.

Looking for more tips on improving your social media marketing for 2013?  Leave a comment below or contact us.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Creating a Content Strategy

We've said it before and we're saying it again... Content most certainly is king, especially in the world of search engine optimization.  Search engines reward those websites that successfully provide fresh, plentiful and relevant content, which is why creating a content strategy is so vital to your business's growth.   As a Chicago SEO Company, we know the power of good content and truly believe that good content not only attracts your target audience, but it also educates and builds trust with them.  Think of content as the foundation for your internet marketing efforts.  Consider the following tips when creating a content strategy:

Step 1- Assess and identify your goals:  Assessing and identifying your goals are definitely step one.  In order to figure out where you want to be, you have to first assess where you currently are.  Ask yourself questions such as: What are you currently happy with?  What would you like to see change?  Who are you trying to reach?  Are you looking to increase brand awareness?  Make a list of your goals first so you can begin to form specific content strategies around your goals.

Step 2- The message:  The crux of a content strategy is determining what your target audience needs to know.  To figure out what your target audience or customer needs to know you have to "swim in the same pool they swim in."  If your target audience is predominately on Facebook, join Facebook and interact with them.  Get a feel for who they are and what they want to know and begin to structure your content around them and their needs.

Step 3- Taking action:  Whenever you put out content for your customers you must identify what action your want readers to take upon reading your content.  Do you want them to buy your product immediately?  Do you want them to read more about your services?  Do you want them to simply contact you for more information?  Structure your content around the action you would like to see your customer take.  When it's done correctly, you'll begin to see the kind of participation you are looking for.

Step 4- Content distribution: There are a variety of ways that you can disseminate your content with options such as emails, blogs, social networking posts, press releases, articles, case studies, reviews, testimonials, etc.  It's not recommended to choose one and just see what happens.  Try a mix and determine which works best for your company and target audience.

Step 5- The results: Now what good would all of your hard work developing a content strategy be if you didn't track your results?  Probably not much good at all since you would have no way of determining what the new strategy has achieved without measuring.  Web analytics are a great way to measure your traffic, visitor activity, and whole lot more.  Measuring results lets you know what you are doing right and what you need to be doing in the future, especially when you compare your results against your initial goals.  

If you're looking for more tips on creating a content strategy, feel free to comment below or contact us.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Finding New Content

As a Chicago SEO firm, we find ourselves constantly explaining the importance of producing quality content.  The more relevant the content you produce, the more popular and relevant you are to consumers and the all important search engines.  We've said it before and we'll say it again, search engine optimization relies heavily on content.  Sometimes creating new, exciting, relevant content can become difficult.  Similar to writer's block, you may experience challenges regarding putting out new content.  So what do you do when the well of inspiration runs dry?  Tap into the following tactics to help save yourself from running out of content ideas:

1- Join groups on LinkedIn:  Looking for more blog fodder?  Consider rummaging through posts from various working professionals on LinkedIn.  A LinkedIn group hosts a plethora of different opinions that may spark an idea for fresh content.  Seek out active groups related to your field.  The best way to figure out whether a group is active or not is by the number of members and discussions there are.  Being apart of groups related to your profession will also keep your knowledge of your field fresh.

2- Tag clouds: Perhaps you want to build fresh content around current and new keywords.  Utilize social media and see what people are talking about.  Search for conversations on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn that discuss your product, industry or brand.  Drop the conversation into a tag cloud.  Tag clouds pull up all the words most frequently used in the text you dropped in.  This could give you new keywords to utilize and may help spawn new topic ideas.

3- Forums: Check out forums related to your industry.  Open forums are a great way to discover what people are talking about in relation to your industry.  Try it out!  Go to Google and type in your industry and forum and see what pops up.  Odds are you'll see millions of results appear.  Take advantage of it.

4- Ask around: Post a status on your social media sites or blog asking for content topics or suggestions.  This is a great way to figure out what others are looking for and usually, people want their voices to be heard.  You could even go as far as to post a poll or survey directly on your page asking for feedback.

5- Events:  Attending industry events is another great way to help generate topics for fresh content.  Whether it's a webinar or conference, attending events is a great way to connect with other people in your industry to exchange ideas and knowledge.  Look for events and topics related to your industry and start attending.

Looking for more tips on generating new content?  Comment below or contact us.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Facebook SEO Strategies Everyone Should Know

Facebook pages for businesses have become increasingly popular over time and more and more business owners are learning how to become Facebook marketers.  Facebook has tried to make it even easier for people to spread the word about their businesses by creating more optimization opportunities for pages to get more traffic through SEO.  As a Chicago SEO firm, we cannot stress the importance of search engine optimization enough!  It can do wonders to help you appear at the top of a Google search.  Outside of optimizing your Facebook page, you should also optimize your social media pages, like Facebook.  What can you do to optimize your Facebook page?  Focus your optimization on the following parts of your Facebook:

(1) The URL: We rank the Facebook URL as the most important factor in optimizing a Facebook page.  In the past, Facebook has been known to punish generically titled pages, so we suggest avoiding that in case Facebook cracks down on that again.   Choose a username that very closely represents your brand or business.  That's the best and safest option.  Also keep in mind that once you've chosen your URL you cannot change it, so if you're not sure, sleep on it.  Choose when you're certain.

(2) The page name: Choose the best name for your Facebook page and keep it.  Choosing the right name is vital, so choose carefully.  Your title should not be stuffed with keywords to avoid looking like spam.  Fans will be less likely to share the page with friends and more likely to hide your updates from their newsfeed.  Your name should authentically represent your business.  Recently, Facebook has been disabling updates for generically named Facebook pages, which will negatively affect their ability to reach fans.  Changing your Facebook page's name could hurt your rankings, so once you pick it, keep it.

(3) Info tab: Your info tab should feature metadata about your page.  This tab gives you the opportunity to provide more information about the page.  Filling out the info field gives you the ability to include keywords and links, which could help increase the content score for Google searches.

(4) About box: Similar to the info tab, the about box on your page should again feature plenty of content filled with keywords to help with search rankings.  The about box is one of the most frequently read sections of a person's Facebook profile.  Why is that?  Because of it's location on the profile page.  It is located at the top of the page right below the main picture.  Most people notice that section first, so make sure you provide good, keyword heavy information.

(5) Page stream:  Status updates are a great place to provide links to wherever you would like your Facebook friends to go and are a powerful way to help you place links right near the top of your page.  And get this-- Google boosts pages that link to relevant sites.  It really is as simple as that.  Provide links to external pages that coordinate with the rest of your page's content and Google will take notice, providing you with a rankings boost.

Looking for more tips on optimizing your Facebook page?  Feel free to leave us a comment or contact us.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Why Your Business Needs a Blog

Here at Integraphix we love to spread the word about how vital SEO can be to your website and in turn, how vital it can be to your business.  SEO can turn your website into a usable sales tool, working for you around the clock.  Aside from optimizing your website, consider writing a blog based around the industry your business is in for further optimization.  Why you ask?  Here are 5 reasons why your business needs a blog today:

Blogs will boost your web presence:  Looking to get your brand or business more recognition?  Blogs help boost your business's presence on the web.  Social media sites make it easier than ever to "tweet a link" to your posts or add the link to Facebook, which helps expose your blog posts to a wide audience, a majority of which you may not have had access to without the help of social media sites.    

Blogs can create brand advocates: Do you find yourself visiting a blogger's blog site frequently just to see the latest postings?  Do you feel compelled by someone else's blog content and enough so that you are purchasing their products?  Yes, that is the power of a blog.  If your content is constantly new, fresh, and appealing, it can create brand advocates.

Linking abilities to products/services: A blog is a wonderful place to link to products or services that you may find yourself mentioning in a post.  Internal links to outside content are a great way to help blog and product popularity as well.  If your business has a product or two that you'd like to sell, try writing something compelling about it and internally linking your blog post to it.  

Makes information available to everyone: Blogs help keep people updated on what's going on with you and your company.  Maybe people aren't reading your company newsletter, but perhaps they are indeed reading your blog, then use your blog to keep them in the loop.  Even if they don't read the newsletter, they can still get a rundown of what's happening with your company through your blog posts.  

SEO capabilities and blogs: One of the top reasons we love blogs here at Integraphix is the capabilities it gives for SEO.  Google, Yahoo!, and Bing love, love, love fresh content!  Blogs are a continuous stream of new content, which will easily catch the content-scanning eyes of the search engines.  The more you write and provide updates, the better your search engine rankings will be.  Utilizing powerful keywords and internal linking back to relevant pages (like your website) can help boost your rankings.

Want to talk to us about blogging?  Feel free to leave a comment below or contact us.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Optimize Your Pinterest

The power of search engine optimization doesn’t need to just be confined to your website and blog.  All of your social media pages, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or even Pinterest, should be optimized.  When we optimize, we prefer to optimize all the way, so this way you are maximizing your potential to be ranked higher by search engines.  While algorithms probably have not been accounting for likes, pins and comments quite yet, we certainly are starting to see more and more Pinterest results appearing in Google.  Here are some tips on optimizing your Pinterest page:

Don’t just repin, upload some of your own images:  Don’t get us wrong, repining is a big part of Pinterest’s purpose, but try to have an equal balance of pins that are repined from others and your own uploads.  Uploading your own images will have more weight when it comes to optimization.  Repining other peoples’ pins can help increase your page’s popularity.  After all, this is social media!

Pin from a variety of sources: Don’t pull all of your pins from one source.  Try uploading from multiple sources.  Having a variety of images from all different sources will help make your Pinterest page more interesting as opposed to other people or companies' pages repining from the same sources all the time.  Variety is the spice of life!

Name images you upload with keywords: The file name you have saved your images as can become important when it comes to optimizing your Pinterest page.  Instead of uploading a picture with a file name like 5832058209.jpg try something like chocolate-cake-recipe.jpg.  Make the file name relevant to what your picture and board are about.  If your entire board is about chocolate cake and the picture you’re uploading is a picture of chocolate cake with a recipe attached, then name it accordingly.  You want your chocolate cake board to utilize the keywords chocolate cake as much as possible. 

Leave lengthy descriptions: Pinterest always allows users to leave a description of up to 500 words.  Here’s the challenge: 500 words can be a little lengthy and perhaps be deemed as annoying or overkill, but we say use those words up.  Make your descriptions lengthy with plenty of keywords. 

Name your board appropriately: Pay close attention to what you name your boards since the titles of your boards will be apart of the search engine optimization process.  Say you own an Italian Restaurant and you want your page to come up in Italian Cuisine search results, then don’t name your board “Food We Love” or “Food We Make.”  Name it simply “Our Italian Cuisine.” 

As a Chicago Marketing Company, we have really been able to see the different search engine optimization makes for our clients.  Don't just optimize your website.  Optimize your social media pages as well to achieve optimal results.  If you have comments or questions on anything SEO related feel free to drop us a comment or contact us.