How to Best Use Your SEO Company

 

Thin line flat design of web page building process, website under construction, site form layout and menu buttons interface develop. Modern vector illustration concept, isolated on white background.

With the right help, your website can be your most powerful marketing tool. But, do you know what the key of successful marketing is? Trust.

Trust is a tall order for your website to deliver because it requires:

  1. External markers—like your ranking in the organic search engine results pages and user reviews—to signal to new (and existing) users that your company really can be trusted to deliver on its promises

AND

  1. Web design that inspires confidence at a glance. Although users may already be “primed” to trust your brand because of top Google rankings and/or ratings and reviews, users still need to develop that trust first-hand. And the trust-building begins with their first impression of your website, so it better be good.

So, what does that have to do with your SEO company?

Much of what it takes to develop trust depends on the performance of your SEO company. To maintain Page 1 SERP visibility and keep users clicking through your site and converting to paying clients, you have to have a fresh, current website that delivers an exceptional user experience.

SonicSEO.com monitors your website’s performance and does all the “backstage” work necessary to maintain top ranking potential. However, there are some things we cannot update, refresh or add without you telling us (because we’re SEO experts, not mind readers).

To effectively use SonicSEO.com as your internet marketing partner for better online and offline results, you need inform us and have us update your website to reflect:

Changes to your physical location and/or contact information

Few things are more frustrating to users than a click-to-call number that gets a “Sorry, this number has been changed or disconnected” message. And your website isn’t helping you get more local customers searching on mobile devices if their GPS is sending them to your old store front.

Changes in product or service offerings—including names, promotions, packages, etc.

A user that gets all the way to an e-shopping cart only to find “Product No Longer Available” is not likely going to inspire a new search on your site for something similar to what they really wanted and can’t get. They’ll bounce and check out your competitor, instead.

Changes in key company personnel

If your customers need to reach specific team members to get the service they need, then make sure the right names, images, individual contact numbers, etc. are on the website. After all, the name of a personal who doesn’t exist at the company is no better than a nameless extension in an automated phone maze.

Changes to your logo

Your website is the backbone of your online branding campaign. It should reflect your business’ branding IRL. Changing a logo or color scheme offline without doing the same online creates brand confusion. It makes the customers who want to be loyal unsure if they have the right company…and any uncertainty about your brand is reason to explore your competitors.

Your website needs to accurately reflect your personality, your unique value proposition and your integrity. Any discrepancy between your online face and your real-world operations gives rise to doubt among your existing and potential customers. And doubt kills trust, which, in turn, kills sales.

Most of the changes your website should reflect are easy to do…but why take your time to do them? SonicSEO.com provides our customers with the responsive support they need to delegate all website updates to us (because sometimes there’s back-end SEO stuff involved) at no extra charge. If your SEO company is charging by the hour, consider a switch. Contact us to schedule a free consultation. 

So Google Finally Went Mobile-First…Now What?

Mobile FirstAs of March 27, 2018, Google officially began the rollout of its mobile-first index. Implementation started small with a few hundred websites. But, as of late April, global rollout has begun, ushering in a new era for search engine functionality and search engine optimization.

To Recap

Historically, Google’s algorithm indexed a full-size desktop website first. But, the mobile-first initiative is acting like an algorithm update and changing the way Google’s “bot” crawls the web. Now, the algorithm will index a mobile website first.

A mobile website may be:

  • Your company website that is built on a responsive framework that automatically scales the display based on user screen size
  • A separate version of your website that users can access by toggling from the desktop version and vice versa
  • A completely separate website

The mobile-first initiative is expected to impact rankings for many websites.

What You Have to Do to Maintain Search Engine Visibility in a Mobile-First World

By prioritizing mobile websites in its indexing, Google (and other search engines to follow) is prioritizing the mobile user experience. And by doing so, mobile-first indexing changes the ranking impact of some known factors. For instance, loading speed, while always important, takes on a new significance in the mobile-first world.

So, to maintain visibility in organic search engine results pages (SERPs), you have to make sure your mobile website*:

  • Loads fast

Site loading speed cannot be underrated in a mobile-first environment. Mobile devices are employed by users-on-the-go who have even less patience than desktop users when it comes to waiting for a website to be completely visible and functional.

Although Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is not the only way to increase site loading speed, it is a data structuring practice that Google has never been shy about favoring. So, AMPing pages may be a strategy worth considering to maintain top SERP ranking (or finally climb ahead of your competitors).

  • Features elements that display well on mobile devices

In addition to optimizing loading speed, you need to consider the user experience when trying to view and/or manipulate certain elements. For instance, even if you optimize images for fast loading and they automatically scale for screen size, is that infographic going to be readable without the users zooming in/out and repositioning it multiple times? Will the user know how to get back to the main page if they click something that directs them to an off-site tool or subdomain?

  • Is intuitive to navigate

User-friendly navigation has always been a ranking factor, but it’s even more important on mobile devices where users do not have a “big picture”—i.e., a full-size menu—to help them visualize the organization of the site.

If you have an ecommerce website, navigation is even more important because you have to make sure your viewers know how to keep moving down the funnel to complete a sale before frustration makes them abandon a cart.

As always, mobile-first indexing will use user behavior, like bounce rate and time on page, to rank mobile assets.

What SonicSEO.com Clients Have to Do to Maintain Search Engine Visibility in a mobile-first World

Some businesses may be left scrambling to get their websites back on the first page of mobile-first SERPs to maintain visibility. But not SonicSEO.com clients.

As an industry leader, we’ve known that mobile-first indexing has been coming for quite some time. So, we prepared. We made sure we did all the right stuff to make your website rank well no matter which version is given indexing priority.

Our clients’ websites have already been:

  • Built on a responsive or mobile-friendly framework
  • AMPed for top page-loading speed
  • Designed for easy navigation
  • Designed to eliminate elements that are likely to frustrate mobile users

No panic required.

If you need assistance updating your website for mobile-first performance, contact us to schedule a free consultation.


* Actually, we recommend making sure even websites intended for desktop viewing conform to mobile-first preferences because there is no reason to not to optimize every users’ experience.

How to Boost Your Online Reputation

Online reputationYour company works hard to establish a favorable reputation in the industry and with your consumers. But if you’re not putting in the effort to establish a favorable reputation online, then your real-world bottom line may suffer.

To get the best performance from your online marketing—i.e., increased online-generated leads and sales, increased visibility and real-world word of mouth referrals—you need to proactively build your brand reputation, not just reactively protect it.

Boosting Your Online Reputation Is More than Reputation Management

We frequently discuss reputation management; it’s an important aspect of customer service, and customer service is marketing. However, reputation management only maintains or preserves the reputation you already have. It is reactive in nature—it involves the actions you take in response to reviews, customer complaints and other press your company may have received.

Where reputation management is mostly concerned with your company’s relationship with existing customers, reputation building is about acquiring new ones. To convert prospective consumers into actual consumers, to push repeat buyers into raving (unpaid) promoters, you need to proactively boost your online reputation.

A few strategies to try include:

Create Content that Everyone Wants…and Wants to Share

Nearly every reputation-boosting strategy derives from this one. In addition to quality products and services—the stuff that drives your business’ profits—you need to offer free informative and/or entertaining content that builds brand awareness, consumer preference and brand loyalty.

And the types of content online users really want to consume are:

Videos. YouTube is the second largest search engine, so there is huge potential to expand your reach. Facebook videos also enjoy a significantly higher share rate than text-only posts. And, video allows you to more comprehensively represent your brand because users get visuals and voice for a more complete brand persona, which is layered on top of the actual message/information your video delivers.

Podcasts. Not every time or place is conducive to video watching, but many of those times are ideal for listening—e.g., in the car, on a plane, during a workout, etc.—and that makes podcasts an ideal format to share valuable content, like your expert opinion on the state of your industry, tips on getting the most benefit from your products or services, exposure to other thought leaders who inform your company values, culture and product development.

Long-form content. It’s one of the paradoxes of online user behavior—they want easy-to-digest content, and for many content creators, that’s translated into short content. But consumers often know that the brevity of pages may come at the cost of valuable information. So, they want the whole story, the in-depth analysis, the complete case study.

Although it should go without saying, we’ll say it again: quality content that will get shared is content that provides value to the users. Push marketing does not add value. Mudslinging about the competition does not add value. The content that helps them become more savvy consumers, saves them time and/or money or otherwise increases the quality of their lives is.

Position Yourself as a Visible Authority

One way to get an edge on your competitors and compel prospective consumers to choose your brand is to demonstrate your authority within your niche/industry. And for online users, authority is demonstrated by:

  1. Offering valuable content (see above strategy #1)
  2. Earned mentions (citations, references and backlinks) because of your content and your credentials

So, to build an authoritative brand:

Get Quoted. Your business leadership should have a face—some figure who can speak for your company as an industry authority. Whether it’s your CEO, COO or other brand ambassador, get this person “out there” where they can offer journalists and other media moguls as well as live audiences “sound bites” that make your name stick in the minds of your prospective consumers. (Businesses can do this old-fashioned way by making human contacts, but there are also online services for which you can register as a “source” so that journalists go to you when they need information or opinions on issues affecting your industry.)

Flaunt Your “Featured In’s”. When your brand and/or brand ambassador has been noticed by a news network, popular blogger or other professional organization within your industry, make that visible on your home page with a “Featured In” section. Give your viewers easily recognizable logos (with links) to see where you’ve been mentioned and/or where your authoritative contributions appear.

Of course, do not ignore the tried and true methods of establishing authority—BBB ratings, Angie’s list and similar directories and recommended vendor/service providers by trusted industry organizations.

Leverage Others’ Authority for Your Brand

The “Get Quoted” and “Flaunt Your Featured In’s” are two strategies to help you get noticed by online influencers and popular bloggers…and that gets you visibility in front of some massive followings. Plus, online mentions often come with links back to your own quality, shareable content…and that boosts your SEO performance.

But there’s no reason to stop there. If you are offering products, make sure they can be found (and purchased) on trusted ecommerce sites…and there’s none bigger than Amazon. Amazon wants to be the world’s one-stop online shop for everything, so they are happy to add credible vendors. They offer a number of online helps to get started like this guide.

Maintain Your Website

Remember that most off-site mentions will prompt users to visit your website and/or social media channels. Your online properties need to provide a user experience that reinforces the idea of you as an industry authority and a business that cares about relationships with your consumers. That means website maintenance and regularly freshening up content is a reputation-boosting strategy…as is reputation management (and now we’ve come full circle).

If you need help building and maintaining your online reputation so you can focus on running your business, contact SonicSEO.com.

How Your Company Website Can Help You Find Top Talent

Online job searchEmployers in nearly every industry face the same challenge—how to find qualified candidates. Or perhaps more specifically, how to find qualified candidates who fit into my company culture.

Before you divert your recruitment funds to outsourced solutions, make sure your company website has the potential to get your business found by job seekers with the right qualifications.

Job Hunters Need to See You

New college grads and experienced professionals alike often turn to online recruitment services like ZipRecruiter and Indeed, but they don’t stop there. In fact, they may not even start there. They may start at the Google search bar just as they would for any other search.

So, if you want to be seen by candidates, your job postings need to get you to the top of relevant search engine results pages (SERPs)…particularly because Google has restructured job-related SERPs so that job hunters can refine their searches by location, department, posting date and employer all without ever leaving Google’s property.

Plus, job hunters serious about building their careers and/or savvy enough to know that work environment and culture can greatly add to or detract from job satisfaction will do more research into the companies they are interested in. Your “Careers” section and job postings need to highlight your company’s leadership style, expectations and culture so that candidates can start to self-select whether or not they’re a good fit.

How to Help Job Hunters Find You

Optimizing your company website to attract talented candidates requires the same work as attracting prospective customers and clients. You need to:

  1. Determine who your target audience is
  2. Identify search terms they may be using to find jobs and companies that fit their skill set, experience and values
  3. Create content that provides the information job hunters are looking for
  4. Optimize on-page and back-end elements of job-related pages and posts for best search engine performance

Let’s break that down…

Determine who your target audience is

Maybe you absolutely must have an experienced professional who can hit the ground running. Maybe you have the experienced team who can nurture an industry newcomer. Create an avatar of sorts, a representative of the prospective employees you want to reach. Keep them in mind as you craft the “Careers” sections and job descriptions so that you appeal to your ideal candidates.

Identify search terms they may be using to find jobs and companies

Job hunters use common criteria to find suitable positions and employers, including:

  • Location
  • Title/experience level
  • Industry

Take some time to think about what job hunters may be typing into their search bars or speaking to their digital assistants when conducting online job searches. Make sure to incorporate key data in prime SEO real estate, like title tags, subheadings, etc.

Create content that provides the information job hunters are looking for

Companies looking to recruit top talent need to create content at two levels—

  1. Careers section—a navigational section of your website all its own that houses category-level and individual job postings. This is the section that gives you the most opportunity to share your company’s core values and describe—nay, sell!—your company culture.
  2. Job postings—individual pages explaining the day-to-day responsibilities, specific requirements, etc. of each position currently available in your organization.

When developing content for job seekers, you must think of them as potential clients. Appeal to their needs and interests the same way you do your consumers on other parts of your website.

On a very practical level, this means organizing your careers-related content so that users can intuitively navigate the section. For multi-site organizations, organize job postings by location first. For local companies, make it easy for job hunters to view postings that best meet their education/experience level and skill set. Make content easy to scan, incorporate images and videos so that they get a multisensory experience of your company.

Optimize on-page and back-end elements of job-related pages and posts

Creating content that meets job hunters’ intent will go a long way toward boosting your company and job listings in relevant SERPs. However, once you’ve edited your “Careers” and job posting content to incorporate keywords, there’s more you can do, such as:

  • Add job post structured data to facilitate search engine indexing and enhance your SERP presentation
  • Remove job postings that have been filled or are no longer available
  • Submit new sitemaps when your job postings change so that SERPs reflect the latest information on your site

Optimizing your website for recruitment may sound like a lot of work. But in reality, it’s not. Much of the content you need is the same content you have to develop for online recruitment sites anyway. And if you want those channels to deliver qualified candidates, the same consideration you need to devote to identifying your target audience and their intent should go into the online job postings for ZipRecruiter, Indeed, etc., too.

But, no matter how much work it takes to recruit quality talent, it’s is minimal compared to the hours you could spend pouring over resumes and conducting interviews of less-than-satisfactory candidates…not to mention the expense that comes with trying to train the wrong person for the job.

We Can Help You Optimize for Recruitment

Still, if you do not have the time or resources to optimize your careers section for recruitment, SonicSEO.com can help. Contact us to schedule a consultation so that we can better understand your needs and enhance your “Careers” section to attract the talent your company needs to thrive.

 

4 Strategies to Make Your Website Personal Search-Friendly

As technology evolves, so do users. GPS location turned mobile users into local searchers. Digital assistants have increased users’ dependence on their devices to find the products, services and locations they need. And, because search engine algorithms continue to deliver highly relevant results, users are starting to rely on them to find advice and recommendations personalized for them, thus beginning the era of Personal Search.

What Is Personal Search?

Personal search is the use of search engines to find information, products, services, etc. that fit the unique demands or criteria of an individual searcher.

For instance, a general search may involve the question “What are trending colors for living room décor?” or the search term “popular living room paint colors.” Personal search, on the other hand, asks, “What color should I paint my living room?”

What Makes a Website Personal Search-Ready?

For websites to be personal-search-friendly, they must offer content that can be individualized and/or content that resonates on a personal level with the user.

Here’s the rub: you cannot “personalize” your website to rank better in personal searches just by changing the pronouns you use in your copy.

Most marketing copy is written in second person, addressing the user/reader as “you.” The business/company uses first-person pronouns (I, we, us, mine, our, etc.) to refer to itself. Like this:

You need custom web design. At SonicSEO.com, we deliver.

You can’t just switch that so that the website viewer feels like he/she is reading about themselves. It introduces all kinds of grammatical and theoretical conundrums—not to mention, search engine algorithms are smarter than that. Because search engines are starting to index websites in ways much more closely aligned with how humans read and evaluate content, search engines cannot be so easily manipulated to improve rankings in personal searches.

Strategies to Personalize Your Search Marketing

Yes, it will take more work than simple pronoun substitutions to make your website personal-search-friendly, but it is possible to optimize for this new way of searching. Ways you can revise, update or upgrade your content to improve ranking in “for me” searches include:

    Developing customization tools

    Your website may already have content that outlines options and factors to consider to select the best one. But users do not want to sort through information that applies to everyone. Make their search easier by providing tools that produce custom-tailored results or recommendations based on their input.

    Companies that have done this include:

    Company Customization Tool
    Lending Tree
    Zillow
    Bank rate
    Mortgage calculator
    Brooks Shoe Finder
    Hale Cosmeceuticals Personal Skin Assessment
    Findation Makeup color match tool

    Admittedly, developing customization tools may involve a serious investment. However, compare the cost of development to the potential returns—increased traffic, completed online sales, actual phone calls to schedule service. It may be that you can’t afford not to create a personalization tool.

    Including case studies and testimonials

    For many products/services, the right choice “for me” is simply a matter of personal preference. In that case, encourage users to prefer your brand by including content that resonates with them emotionally.

    Case studies and testimonials allow users to see themselves in your past clients, helping them visualize your products and services as the solution to their needs.

    Encouraging users to seek further personalization

    For some businesses, there are just too many factors that affect product or service selection. If those factors are confidential in nature or simply too numerous to outline or explain, you need to make sure your users have the ability to get more personalized information at their fingertips—i.e., your email and/or phone number.

    Create clear calls to action so that users click or call to continue their quest for personal information with your company/brand.

    Making your business the expert

    The rise of personal search is all due to Internet users’ trust in anonymous reviews and search engine rankings for guidance. Position your business as the expert they consult.

    How? By providing content that proves you’re an industry leader, like:

    • Expert blogs
    • Testimonials from past and current clients
    • Press releases
    • Technical publications

    Post and promote the content that your business/members of your team developed, contributed to, evaluated, etc. so that users know you know your stuff.

Much of what it takes to rank well in personal searches is really the same as what it takes to rank well, period. The Internet marketing experts at SonicSEO.com already develop personalized content to boost your search engine performance and conversion rates. So, the rise in personal search is no cause for panic for our clients.

But, if you are not so sure how your website may deliver “for me” content, contact us. We offer website evaluations and consultations to help you find the personal search marketing strategies that can increase your performance on- and offline.

How to Find the Right Social Media Platform for Your Business

For most businesses, effective online marketing requires more than a website; it requires genuine social media engagement with your existing and prospective customers and clients.

Although, creating an account for your business on just about any social media platform is free, maintaining an engaging presence isn’t. To make the best use of your time and resources, you need to identify the platforms that best reach your target market.

Think about Product Presentation

Social media is all about engaging your audience. But before you dive into analyzing your target market demographics, pause to think about what it is you are selling because that will likely determine what types of posts you have to publish.


 

Analyze Your Target Audience

Now that you’ve limited your options down to those that best suit the types of posts you are most likely going to create—images or text-based posts—you need to identify the platform(s) your target market is using most.

Here’s a quick demographic breakdown:

Platform Volume Age Gender
Facebook Over 1 billion daily active users Largest demographic: 25-34 years old More women than men, although gap is small
Twitter 100 million daily active users

330 million monthly active users

Largest demographic:

18-29 years old, followed closely by users 30-49 years old

More men than women, although gap is small
LinkedIn 500 million users Largest demographic:

30-49 years old

More women than men, although gap is small
Pinterest 175 million monthly active users Largest demographic: 25-34 years old Significantly more women users, although more men are starting to sign up
Snapchat 187 million daily active users

300 million monthly active users

Largest demographic: 18-29 years old

71% of users are under the age of 34

Significantly higher use among females
Instagram 500 million daily active users

800 million monthly active users

Largest demographic: 18-29 years old Significantly higher use among females

Highlights:

  • Facebook has the largest reach across all age brackets. More than half of all seniors (aged 56 and older) are active Facebook users.
  • “Selfie sites” like Instagram and Snapchat are used significantly more by Millennials and Generation Z (the post-Millennial generation)
  • Twitter boasts the user demographic with the highest levels of education and annual income
  • Most of Instagram’s users are outside the US

So, what does this mean for your business?

If your target audience is:
Use this social medial platform
Mature adults (age 40 or older)
Facebook / Twitter
Professionals (B2B market)
LinkedIn
Millennials and/or young adults
Instagram / Snapchat
Mostly men
Twitter / Linked In
Mostly women
Pinterest

    Please note: We do not mean to suggest that you should only use the recommended social media platform… just consider it as:

    • As an addition to your existing social media accounts
    • A good place to start a social media marketing strategy

You may also use these demographic data and post considerations to craft messages on any social media platform that better resonates with your target market.

A Note about Instagram and Snapchat:
Instagram and Snapchat have similar user demographics and offer many of the same capabilities for individual users. However, for marketers, Instagram may offer a better choice for engagement with your target market because it is designed to be more public and provides native user analytics to help you track your posts’ performance.

Consider Practical Capabilities and Constraints

When it comes to finding the right social media platform to market your business, it’s not all about where your target audience is spending their time online; you matter, too. If your organization has the resources to support a full-time social media manager who can take, edit and upload photos all day, every day, then any social media platform can work for you.

However, a full-time, in-house social media manager is not the reality for the majority of local businesses. So, platforms with users who expect real-time engagement and new content added continuously—as in, several times per day—may not be the best fit. But you do not have to give up on social media completely. It can work for you; you just need a platform that:

  • Allows you to schedule postsThe pace of business is not constant. So, when you have some downtime, you may be able to create a number of posts, tweets, pins, etc. And if the platform allows you to schedule them (or integrates with a scheduling app), then you can spread your content out over the course of a week, a month or beyond so that your content always appears fresh even if it has been “on the shelves” for months.
    One note about this strategy: be mindful of what’s going on around the time you schedule the post. If you wrote a lot of holiday-themed posts because you had some extra time in December, it’s likely not the best fit for spring posts.
  • Enhance posts with stock images
    Users on any platform are not likely to engage with text-only posts, but if you’re too busy for impromptu photos or your work is not conducive to photo sharing (because who really wants to see live images of plumbing repair?), you can dress up your posts with stock images. (Just be careful to use images with open licenses or purchase a license.)

Because social media engagement on any platform will require a significant investment of time, any size business can benefit from a little help. SonicSEO.com offers social media and online brand reputation management services. Contact us to explore your options for social media marketing.