113 minutes | Feb 25, 2023
Using ChatGPT for SEO and Website Content Creation Properly
For anyone who has been around the Internet Marketing Clinic for a while, knows we always try to stay ahead of where the road goes. AI tools have turned 2023 on its ear, and it is not even March. In this episode of the IMCH, we are taking an in-depth look at how to balance AI tools like ChatGPT and your website, content or SEO efforts. There is a lot of very dangerous misguided implementations ideas so we wanted try and stay ahead of it and let you know what we think you should be doing and how to used this very powerful tool, but do it in a manner that you don't blow yourself up. Do not copy AI-generated content and paste it into a website Before you run off to ChatGPT and generate your entire website from scratch - stop. In our practice, we’ve already seen business owners attempt this with disastrous results. And that is what I keep seeing and hearing. It feels like, right or wrong everyone things they found the secret to creating mass pages to place on their website and that is just not true. Google has upped the useful content penalty possibly taking aim at cut-and-paste AI-generated content, and the search engine is getting better and better at detecting it. There are hundreds of AI writers out there, but it’s unlikely that any of them could evade Google’s AI detection for long. Why is Google seeking and destroying AI-generated pages? Because AI can’t produce a page that’s as well-written, organized and detailed as a human expert-created page. At least for now, human experts provide more value with their writing than ChatGPT or other AI tools. This is because AI content generators work by scraping and distilling what’s already on the internet. Google doesn’t want a web full of copycat content - it wants originality. And it wants original thinking because that’s what users want. From Google’s perspective, AI content generators have the potential to pollute the internet with identical pages and damage the user experience. On the other hand Google also is okay with AI content if they add to the web. If there is solid new information it more than likely won't get dinged. But you have to committed to making sure the information is not just spun and put out on the website. There are a few more problems with AI content generation, that you need to be aware of to avoid a penalty. Superficial reasoning and knowledgebase - ChatGPT and AI writers can spit out tons of information with every prompt, but because this information is sourced from thousands of sites - many of them low quality - the information tends to be superficial. This problem is more pronounced for niche topics and industries, where there are fewer inputs for AI to work with. Confusing conceptual linking and writing flow - AI also has trouble determining which pieces of information link together and how they should link together. Us humans do this naturally when we speak, because our communication is predicated on exchanging and responding to information provided by other people.That’s why AI writers tend to go off-track with topics or repeat themselves throughout an article. You won’t find an AI linking an insightful first-hand experience with the topic at hand. That kind of web-like conceptual thinking is still beyond the reach of AI. Difficulty with proper punctuation and grammar - Curiously, AI writers also seem to have the occasional issue with word order, sentence structure or punctuation. The longer the content, the more likely these mistakes are to emerge in a piece of AI content. It may not be long before these kinks are hammered out, but for now, the above should give business owners pause before they go all-in on AI. Doing so could wipe out your traffic now or in the future, when Google retroactively applies penalties for AI content-generation methods. All of this is subject to change as Google implements GoogleBard, its own AI Tool Everything in this article could become obsolete overnight - thus is the nature...
94 minutes | Feb 8, 2023
Marketing Tips for the AI World that has quickly arrived.
Buckle up 2023 is going to be one for the ages. Every year brings a new set of challenges for the digital marketing industry, but 2023 may bring more upheaval than normal. Multiple content-related updates in late 2022 appear to be targeted at identifying and deranking pages with low quality (potentially AI) content. Google has also made recent updates to its Search Rater Quality Guidelines - with added emphasis on communicating expertise and experience in content. Additionally both Google and Bing are rolling out chat modules for search that have the potential to upend digital marketing, especially for small businesses. Over this year as this rolls out we will address and work to find strategies that will work inside that framework. It may be a big deal. It may be a fad, no one knows yet. It's in part why I have been running these classes since 2007. Google is clearly raising the bar on what constitutes a high-ranking website. Quality content, quality performance, quality navigation and linking - there’s no more cutting corners for business website owners. That’s why we’re focusing on cleanup this week. The little things matter more than ever for digital marketing, and so we’re addressing some of the little things you can do to improve your standing on Google. Optimize your online presence with the right platform, plugins and patches First, if your site isn’t on WordPress, move it to the WP ecosystem. More than 40 percent of the internet is built on WordPress, so Google thoroughly understands it - and prefers it. If your site is built on any other platform - Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, etc. - then you’re at a major SEO disadvantage from the start. Assuming your site is built on WP, there is a plenty of plugin available. Many of these are useful for optimization purposes, whether performance or search engine optimization. A favorite of ours is Rank Math. Rank Math is an SEO plugin for WordPress that provides broad functionality. It offers deep insights, like tracking your position history for a particular keyword. It also integrates seamlessly with Google Analytics 4 and offers centralized control over many SEO functions, like configuring headers or metadata. And if you’re wondering just how entangled Google and WordPress are - Google has an official WP plugin called Google Site Kit. With Site Kit, your Google Analytics are available through your WP backend and through a single dashboard. Verify that your business is properly listed online Google uses your company’s location for local SEO purposes, which can be a problem if your actual location doesn’t match Google’s own data. It’s a problem that a lot of businesses have. If your company’s address or phone number have ever changed, there’s a good chance that your older addresses or numbers are listed somewhere on the internet. If there are many such outdated NAP citations out there, Google may place your business in a different market. The goal is to monitor your NAP citations and correct any that are inaccurate. Our clients have a tool to make these easy - one available through Yext. With Yext’s Optimize Location tool, business owners can get a status update on all of their NAP citations scattered around the web. This includes Google itself, along with Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, Bing, Yelp and a score of directory sites. If there are any NAP inaccuracies, it’s made obvious here, so website owners can correct the citation. To do that, you’ll need access to the account associated with the citing website. Businesses are in a constant state of flux, so it’s common for brands to lose control of certain accounts as employees are turned over and changes are made. If you do lose access to a citing account, you may able to correct the citation by submitting your company’s information to a major data aggregator like Acxiom or Localeze. Set up Google Analytics 4 so there’s no interruption in data tracking Google is overhauling its analytics platform and relea...
50 minutes | Jan 27, 2023
Softening the Ground for AI? : Google Content Updates
Google has always prioritized content in its rankings, but in the second half of 2022 and into 2023, the search engine giant has gone all-in on content updates. In the past several months, Google has pushed over at least three significant content updates, and its latest includes major work to its search engine content guidelines. We’ll take a closer look at this latest update and what website owners will need to do in response. A few notable changes in Google’s newest content update The bulk of the newest update concerns Google’s E-E-A-T (formerly E-A-T) standard. Before we dive into that, though, here’s a couple other notable changes from the update: Google is placing additional emphasis on the content’s author - One of the changes was to Section 2.5, a section that concerns the website’s operator and content creator. This change is actually an addition - a guide that helps quality raters determine a web page’s author.Why is this important to website owners? Because Google is clearly factoring in the content creator’s credibility for ranking purposes. That means business owners will need to invest in building this credibility. That’s where quality content and other page elements - like an author box and bio - come into play. YMYL pages are going to get scrutinized extra hard - Google has also added to Section 3.0, a section dedicated to defining quality content. One of the additions asks quality raters to assess whether a page concerns a Your-Money-or-Your-Life (YMYL) subject.YMYL subjects include medical, legal and accounting - subjects where wrong information or advice could do a great deal of harm to the reader. The content quality standards on these pages are higher, given the stakes involved. If you operate in a YMYL industry, it’s extra important that you develop expert-level content that conveys your expertise. It’s also important to remain on top and avoid introducing any topics outside of your field. Many more changes to the content quality guidelines were made, but the above are of relevance to business website owners. And another major update to be aware of is E-E-A-T, which we’ll address next. Meet E-E-A-T, Google’s guidelines for creating expert content While the above changes are noteworthy, it’s the E-A-T rework that’s getting the most attention. E-A-T has been around for years as a guide for quality content, and there’s an extra E to account for now. What was E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness and trust) is now E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trust). Google developed E-E-A-T to define what end users (the page’s visitors) are looking for when assessing content. As it turns out, users prioritize experience, expertise and authoritativeness when consuming content. As the website’s owner, it’s your job to ensure your experience, expertise and authoritativeness come through in your site’s content. This is what generates the most important letter in the E-E-A-T acronym - trust. How can site owners do that? Here’s how Google defines each part of the E-E-A-T formula: Experience: Does the content creator have direct experience with the subject? Experience is the new addition to E-A-T, and at first glance, it’s unclear where the line between experience and expertise exists. Regarding experience, Google wants to know if the content’s author has first-hand experience with what they’re writing about. For many topics, first-hand experience is the most valuable thing the writer bring to the page. Here are some examples: A restaurant review: Did the writer eat at the restaurant they’re reviewing? Comparing laptops: Did the writer try out both laptops they’re comparing? Offering travel advice: Did the writer travel to the place they’re talking about? As you can see, there isn’t expertise involved here - these are subjects anyone could write on without special knowledge. What’s important is experience. Expertise: Does the content creator have educati...
109 minutes | Dec 12, 2022
IMCH: Episode 218 2022 A Year in Review
Looking back at 2022 - a year of major Google updates Another year, another slate of algorithm updates from the world’s leading search engine. Google making changes to its ranking algorithm is nothing new - it’s always going on, actually - but 2022 saw a couple of impactful changes that website owners should be aware of. Ideally, you will have already made some of the necessary adjustments, but if not, we’ve got a quick recap here you can use to get up to speed. Table of Contents Add a header to begin generating the table of contents https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmW9-W3fbp0 Technical Performance While Google’s 2022 updates would eventually target content guidelines, the search engine started the year by making technical performance the focus. In a way, this was a continuation of Google’s Core Vitals update, which was pushed over during the summer of 2021. Specifically, Google wants websites to run faster and more reliably than ever. It’s easy to understand why. A site’s user experience (UX) remains a primary consideration for Google, because search engines don’t exist to promote businesses. They exist to connect users (the people entering queries into Google search) with the best possible answer to their search. A website’s UX describes how user-friendly the experience is on a particular page. If users are leaving the page before it loads or as soon as it loads, that lets Google know that the page is offering a poor UX. Search engines will always send traffic to a site with good UX metrics if given the opportunity. That means your site should also be optimized for UX. A major part of UX is a page’s technical performance. Does it load important content quickly? Does it respond to user interaction quickly? Does it remain visually stable while loading? These are critical performance metrics roped into Google’s Core Vitals update. The search engine is still raising the bar in terms of technical performance, so slow, unreliable sites are having added trouble in ranking well. Stay away from “cookie cutter” website builders If you’re building a website, Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, Shopify and others offer convenience. They don’t offer anything else, though, including technical performance or improved conversion rates. In today’s world of digital marketing, nothing beats Wordpress. With unmatched Google integration, unmatched versatility and unmatched support, Wordpress websites are far easier to rank on Google and other search engines. If you’re building a new site, start with Wordpress. If you have a website in a site-builder like Shopify, consider your options in moving the site to Wordpress. Content was always important, but helpful, expert content is now necessary Content has always been a top ranking factor for Google and other search engines, but what exactly that content should look like has changed over the years. And this year, Google made one of its most meaningful content updates in its history. Termed the helpful content update, Google is now prioritizing high quality, expert level content that provides value to the user. But what does value mean when it comes to an online blog? Users go to Google to answer questions. Google returns the best possible answer to their questions. As a site owner, your job is to get Google to pick your answer first. That means you’ll need to generate content that offers the following: Expertise - Google places a lot of weight on expertise. It does not want to rank a non-expert highly on any of its SERPs, as this reflects poorly on its own ability to spot valuable information. This is especially true if the question has to do with an expert industry like medicine, legal or accounting. Expert content answers a relevant query fully, from every angle possible. It may take 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 words to provide a complete answer, but Google prefers longer, more thorough content that short content that offers nothing new. Authority -
110 minutes | Nov 4, 2022
Episode 217: SEO Basics
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the primary components of digital marketing and is foundational to a successful website. Proper SEO gives your website the best possible chance at securing favorable search engine listings, and those top listings are valuable. In fact, the top 3 organic listings in Google gets an estimated 80 percent of all the clicks on a particular search engine results page (SERP). As your site moves up the rankings, its ability to attract traffic will also improve. That means more potential customers and, if your website’s effective at converting, more business. SEO is important, so we’re going back to the basics this week and covering search engine optimization 101. Table of Contents Add a header to begin generating the table of contents https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkfFB9p8E-w Understanding Google's Algorithm At its core, Google is an index, a directory. Google is a list of millions upon millions of websites that users reference when they need to answer a question. That query could be for a piece of information, for product reviews or for a business, but it always starts with a query. Google’s job as a search engine is to match the best answer to each query. To do this, Google utilizes a mathematical formula - an algorithm - to assess every website and page it comes across. This algorithm weighs hundreds of factors to determine whether a particular page is worth showing for a particular query. SEO is designed to make a website or page as attractive as possible to Google’s ranking algorithm. This means optimizing many ranking signals that tell Google that “hey, this website is worth considering for that question.” Organic vs. Paid Listings Organic listings are listings that have earned their spot through effective SEO practices. Websites that land a top organic listing have earned the favor of Google’s algorithm by optimizing factors like content, link building, page speeds, user experience and many others. SEO services provide the work needed to optimize those signals. Paid listings compete with organic listings for top SERP listings, but do so by paying Google instead of optimizing ranking signals. While traffic can be earned this way, it can be extremely expensive to manage and is considered less effective than winning organic traffic. We have circled the paid ads on the page vs. the organic listings that are encircled. How Does Google Find New Pages? Google finds new pages by “spidering” the internet. Google’s spiders explore the internet by navigating from link to link. Those spiders may follow internal links from one part of a site to another, or they may hop on an outbound link to another website. When spiders “crawl” new pages, they analyze it by looking at various signals and determining what it’s about. If the page is worth saving for future listing purposes, Google indexes the page, which means it stores it in a massive directory for possible future reference. One of the primary ways Google locates new pages and content is through the use of a sitemap. Sitemaps are documents that provide Google’s spiders with all the information they need to efficiently crawl your website - specifically the URLs contained in your site. This helps spiders build a more complete picture of your site and ensure deeper crawling. Submit Your Sitemap via Search Console Sitemaps are XML feeds that are easily generated with an SEO plugin like RankMath and can be submitted directly to Google. They are generally regarded as a requirement you must complete for your website to be indexed properly in Google. Fresh Content Always Performs Better Content includes the most important ranking signals for any page. One of those signals is the “freshness” of your content, and Google has directly confirmed this. The freshness of your content refers to its timeliness or how recently it has been updated. Content that’s written in relation to a current event, for example,
115 minutes | Sep 29, 2022
Episode 216: E-commerce for Businessowners
If you’re running an e-commerce website, then you’ve got competition. At last count, there were more than 20 million e-commerce sites in operation around the globe. Every one of those websites has the same goal - stand out, attract traffic and pick up conversions in the process. With millions of sites crowding the online picture, it’s never been more important to pursue best e-commerce practices when developing and marketing a website. That’s what we’re going to go over, along with some tips to help Google find and rank your e-commerce site. Table of Contents Add a header to begin generating the table of contents https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luEGhS1R9ww What is an e-commerce website? We’re going to be talking about e-commerce websites here, so let’s get the definition straight. Fortunately, it’s an easy concept to understand. E-commerce sites are those focused on selling a product or service to clients (other businesses or consumers), using a set of tools that make the process as simple and efficient as possible. An e-commerce website should provide the following functionality: Allow users to select and add products to their shopping cart. Securely process orders and payments. Manage shipping and provide shipping details to the user. Provide customer service to users. There are additional functions that e-commerce sites can perform. For example, an e-commerce site may allow people to create a profile, save previous order details for one-click ordering or let buyers redeem discount codes. In general, though, if your website sells a product or service, and it allows users to do this using a shopping cart and payment portal - you’ve got an e-commerce site. To support a successful e-commerce site, you need the right platform Now that we’ve defined e-commerce, what does an effective e-commerce site look like? It looks like one built on WordPress. Anything else will hold your site back. There are tons of website creation platforms out there for business owners. Pretty much all of them make money by convincing business owners to use their platform. That means they’ll make big proclamations about how SEO “friendly” their site is or how easy it is to get started. Here’s the problem: Almost every single site creation platform out there is poorly optimized for Google-centric SEO. If you’re using Shopify, Wix, Weebly, Squarespace or any other popular site creation platform, your site is already facing serious SEO headwinds. WordPress sites now blanket more than a third of the internet, and it’s the leading platform for e-commerce websites, too. Because WordPress is so ubiquitous, Google works hard to understand how WordPress websites are built and designed. Google’s familiarity with WordPress gives WordPress sites a major crawling and indexing advantage, which means better overall ranking potential. In summary, Google prefers WordPress sites because it can understand them better. If you’re using any other platform, you’re making it that much harder for Google to figure out what your business does and what it sells. Choose organic when it comes to website traffic So search engines understand and rank WordPress websites better. So what? Adwords work with Wix or Shopify sites and you can get traffic that way. It’s true that Adwords can pull additional traffic toward sites built in most platforms, but you’re paying for that traffic. And if your site is operating in a competitive space with competitive keywords to fight for, your ad costs can be eye-popping. We’re talking thousands of dollars every month to sustain traffic flow to your site. Even worse, your pay-per-click (PPC) expenses can, and likely will, change from month to month depending on how your ads do. It’s difficult to budget for this. That’s why digital marketing professionals prioritize organic search traffic for their clients. What is organic traffic and why is it valuable?
116 minutes | Jul 3, 2022
Episode 214 – Getting Started with WordPress
When I teach class, I always advise using WordPress because it gives small business a way to level the playing field. At Vertical Web we do a lot of things, but client advocacy is one of the biggest. We talk about why using a platform like Wix or Squarespace in my opinion does not allow websites to have the best chance to rank in Google and that should always be a priority. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqEg5ROZrIk I know we often hear well I just need to have it for credibility from small business owners. What they mean is having a website is a necessary evil but it doesn't need to be more than a virtual business card. And although that is one approach, the reality is that with the right vehicle and some mentorship you too can gain some traction on your website. It is in part why we offer this clinic and have for going on 20 years. This should be a goal. With this video and the use of starter templates, I think that creating a WordPress based website can be just as easy as creating a Squarespace website. Best of all this version will work much better to help bring clients to your become aware of your business through Google search. I have always recognized that for a brand-new person that has no idea, a point-and-click solution may appear easier. But the long-term negative impact really makes it not as good of a deal. So what I did was take the build of WordPress we use and provide it to our clients. I also added the tools you would need to succeed in both search and in reaching business objectives including email distribution and social media scheduling. Basically, all the things we speak about in class are included. What are the Most Essential WordPress Plugins We view some plugins as essential and if you asked me that question, my go-to answer would be you need a backup plugin (BackupBuddy or WP-Staging). You also need a strong SEO plugin and we always recommend RankMath over Yoast now. You need a security plugin (We like Ithemes). Lastly, you need an optimization plugin for speed (we like WP Rocket). Backup Software It is critical to have backup software on your website. This can be handled in two ways, but that doesn’t mean it's mutually exclusive whereas doing both is recommended. Daily backups are a must, and we recommend keeping them offsite like Dropbox, One Drive or Amazon’s Glacier. Through Vertical Web we provide Amazon Glacier for backup included in our WordPress hosting plans. The secondary way, which is also optional is a staging site, meaning we are using a dev site and then when we are happy with the changes, they are pushed into the live site. This is always a safer way to make changes or try plugins. In the long run, this avoids problems before they affect a live site. SEO Plugin I’ve talked about the superiority of RankMath in the past and they continue to out-innovate Yoast in my opinion. They provide a full set of tools that help make sure your website is properly buttoned up for Google. Speed Optimization Plugins (caching plugins) There are several speed optimization plugins that help your website pass Core Vitals. There are a few ways to handle all this. But we recommend WP Rocket in most cases. We have used Nitro Pack but it seems to have some consistency issues that it does not always improve the site 24x7. I’ve been in touch with their support with very little assistance although they did answer each of my tickets. But, frankly, you cannot have a product that does not deliver its result consistently. Therefore we provide WP Rocket with our WordPress hosting plans. Design Tools As for the design tools we recommend Elementor for various reasons and it is what I opted to do the demo with for the attached video. WP Bakery has not upped its game for core vitals which makes it far more difficult to succeed in the Core Vitals requirements. Divi Builder has been around for years and although many devs like it, I find it cumbersome.
97 minutes | Jun 26, 2022
Episode 213: How To Read an SEO Report
Each month I sit down to pick topics that are most relevant to the Digital Marketing landscape. Or, I am asked questions from clients that really can be a strong class topic. That is exactly what happened here. I had two different clients ask us to help them understand an SEO report. So out of that, this topic was born. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dH9vglF2gAU&feature=youtu.be Google Analytics The reality is I used at least 2 and sometimes as high as 4 types of reporting daily for websites. The elephant of the room is Google Analytics and I decided to talk through the parts of it that I use. Really the information in GA is outstanding and helps you understand how to make better decisions on your website if you know how to interpret the data. When you look at analytics it helps you understand active pages, demographics, and the customer journey. Now, long-ago Google Removed Keywords from those reports, because as I’ve come to understand now, you cannot provide a good customer experience if we are writing on just a keyword. Rather you should be topic-centered. This is a theme you will find in most of our classes and blogs. However, I still want to know what keywords my website is drawing so I can make sure that I am meeting the needs and that the website is being used as I intended. If I look at Vertical Web in total, there are four distinct topics and audiences I wish to draw with it. Truly it all comes down to small business owners that need digital marketing services. But I have the web hosting component, the web design component and the SEO, including local SEO or digital marketing component. And then I have our SEO classes that are live and on-demand. I have to account for each audience and client need on this website so the Keyword data helps me to understand what we’ve done well and what needs more attention to keep this all in balance. So keywords are important to help pick topics but not writing pages to the keyword. SEM Rush The second type of SEO report we use here is SEM Rush which allows us to pull through multiple different aspects of Google, including Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Google Business profiles. This is also the report we give clients to see their overall progress for the most part. In addition, we encourage clients to look back at the previous year for their data rather than the previous month. The reason behind that is that all businesses are cyclical in nature. Retail may do more during Christmas and Back to School than it does 4th of July or St. Patrick’s Day unless you’re an Irish Pub. Looking at the aggregated data helps clients understand the progress that has been made on the website. Although some SEO companies talk about how many terms they have in the top 10, we often find that what is missing in that analysis is are they money terms. If I look at Vertical Web, we have several thousand words in the top 10 and do 1.5 Million impressions per month through organic traffic. But, we need to look at how many of them have the probability to create a conversion. For us the page that talks about how to set up DNS for a Square Space domain, something we put up for a registration customer, does not really net us anything. So although it garners a lot of terms for use and that page ranks on well over 300 variants, it does not put one dollar in our company. Conversely, a term like Houston SEO or Web Design Houston is far more advantageous for us. Therefore, we need to nurture those terms. So don’t buy the line that your SEO company is doing anything for you just because you have a list of terms. Review those terms and make sure those terms support the goals of your business. Ahrefs The next tool we use, and we’ve seen reports is Ahrefs. I often see people ask which one is better SEMRush vs Ahrefs. And to me, it’s like asking which is better water or food. You need both to sustain yourself. And I think the answer here is the same. AHrefs,
116 minutes | Jun 21, 2022
Episode 212: The Ultimate Glossary of SEO Terms Explained
Digital marketing is a huge field, encompassing several fields of study and changing all the time. And like with any technically-heavy field, digital marketing comes with its own lingo that’s used among industry members. Here we’ll start delving into those terms and what they mean to digital marketing professionals. That way, when someone starts spitting out SEO slang, you’ll know what they’re talking about. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta4_8khnLZs Here’s the terms covered in the A-D Videos Above Above the Fold On a website, anything above the fold is sitting high enough on a page that you don’t need to scroll down to see it. This is what your site’s visitors are going to see first, so anything that’s important to that page’s purpose (making a sale, getting a visitor’s contact information, etc.) should be above the fold. The term is derived from newspapers (remember those?), because when a newspaper is folded in half, you can only see the most important headlines and content up top. The Google algorithm Every algorithm is a set of mathematical rules that a computer must follow to solve a particular problem. For digital marketing experts, there is only one algorithm that matters - Google’s search algorithm. Its search algorithm is what Google uses to determine where to rank a particular page or site. It includes hundreds of factors, all weighted differently to prioritize important site elements. For example, quality backlinks and quality content are major factors in Google’s search algorithm, so they are weighed heavily relative to less important factors. AMP pages An Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) is a page served up to mobile devices, and specific AMPs can be built for a variety of mobile devices. The idea behind AMPs is that they’re better optimized for mobile devices and so they load faster. However, it’s important to serve the same content for your desktop users and AMPs, to avoid issues with multiple page versions. AMPs are not the same thing as pages that use responsive design. Such pages alter their layout as the size of the browser window changes, while AMPs do not. Analytics When seo experts talk analytics, they’re usually referring to Google Analytics, though there are other analytics-based plugins that can serve the same purpose. With analytics, site owners can monitor the amount of traffic their site is seeing and where that traffic is going. This information can be used to improve underperforming parts of the site. Author authority Authority is a big deal to Google, and you can think of it as an analogue to trust in the digital marketing world. Anything with authority, whether it’s your domain, your brand or the author who puts your content together, will gets a ranking boost from Google. That’s because Google considers expert voices to be more relevant to users searching for answers allied to that expert’s field. Producing expert content under a particular author’s name is one way to build that author’s authority and give them a ranking advantage when they produce additional content. Anchor text Anchor text are the words used in a clickable link on one of your pages. On a page about winter clothing, for example, there may be a link to page that has winter hats for sale. The text used in this link could be “winter hats” for example, and that would be anchor text for that link. Anchor text is most relevant for internal linking purposes, and it can be used to establish relevant connections between pages on your site. Ideally, your anchor text will be short and highly relevant to the target page without overdoing it with keywords loading. Backlinks Backlinks are a vital element of SEO and one of the most heavily weighed factors in Google’s search algorithm. Backlinks are links from other websites that point to your site. You can think of them as endorsements for your own site, so every backlink boosts a site’s authority and establishes relevance in its industry.
112 minutes | May 27, 2022
How to Build a Website or How to Hire Someone Who Can
It seems like everyone is a web designer or an SEO expert these days. After all the years in this industry you learn to spot trends. When the economy is poor, the web designers come out of the woodwork. Everyone suddenly knows how to build a site and knows SEO. I am here to say that is an absolute fallacy. Reputable web designers are not part of the gig economy. And web design is not a side hustle.So what are some of the tell-tale, inside baseball signs, small business owners need to consider when looking for a Web Designer or SEO Company. Let me say up front, price should be the last consideration. I know it is easy for me to say, right? Not really, a solid web presence needs to be nurtured, so there really are two choices, learn to do it yourself, and that is the whole point of the our class series, Internet Marketing Clinic. Or, conversely you have to pay someone to do it that actually knows what they are doing. But I’ll say more on pricing here shortly. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-AwBZ6XofQ Where Do You Start with Web Design? The first thing all business owners should ask themselves is do they have the aptitude to do it themselves. Small business owners tend to be very wily in finding ways to get a job accomplished. Your website should really be no different. One of the barriers that often comes up is the fear of a computer. But as with anything, if you tell yourself you can’t do it or something is beyond you, it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Take your entrepreneurial can do spirit and apply it to this.Should you go down the do-it-yourself route, what you should not do is use DIY tools like Wix, Squarespace, Weebly. These are platformed based solutions. Although you can whip up a website quickly, it does not account for poor design choices, but more importantly, the lack of these platform's ability to do well in the organic listings of Google. These listings are free if you put your website together properly and the value of that must not be overlooked by small business owners.Now that we’ve told you what not to do, let's talk about what we should do. WordPress.org. There are a lot of reasons for it, but the reality is this software can be set up properly to meet the Google bench marks. This will greatly increase your probability of landing on the first page in your niche. Now, of course, there are delimiters because if your niche is crowded, the lift to get to the first page goes up. Often, those companies have folks like me on their payroll.Vertical Web has a customized version of WordPress available through our WordPress Web Hosting Plans that include all the tools preloaded and paid for making it a one stop solution for your WordPress needs. How to Pick a Web Designer or SEO Company? So, as I’ve already said, price should be one of the least important factors of who you trust with your business. But in the real world, it is not always a way to view it. So here are a few tips that might help you make the decision when the time comes to get a professional web designer to work with you.Does the company you're considering have a professional looking website?This seems like a now brainer, however I can’t tell you how many times we look at a competitor's website, only to find the website is a one-page WIX built site, with very few clients listed, if at all Is there an attention to detail?Is spelling correct? Are images properly sized and not distorted? If the website has flaws, this is often indicative of a few things that range from how thorough a company is; to their overall ability to write an effective website. If they can’t execute these things on their own website properly, how do you expect them to execute it on yours?Does the web design firm demonstrate an basic understanding of Google's best practices?Check the website’s title tag and see if it is indicative of what the company does, rather than their company name. Or worse, does the title tag say home.
84 minutes | May 12, 2022
Common Mistakes That Negatively Impact Website Success
Common Mistakes That Negatively Impact Website Success Errors Errors everywhere and not a person to help. We see errors everyday. Even sometimes we miss things. But what are critical mistakes that hamper you digital marketing success. Table of Contents The Platform And the Host We will start our list of mistakes at the most fundamental genesis. Two of the first decisions a person makes when they decide to start a website are where to host it and how to build it. Often this is the biggest mistake we see, is picking wrong based on your goals. If you wish to have a website that ranks in Google well. If you want a web hosting company that is geared toward Google success your choices are very limited. The website needs to be built in WordPress. Now granted there are two ways to approach this, .com and .org. Wordpress.com is a platform and should be avoided in our opinion. The right and clear path for a website's success is WordPress.org. There are a few reasons for it. First off you can choose where your website is hosted which is an extremely relevant point. This is a very important decision that will impact your website. A web host that has downtime is a problem. A web host that has slow or out-of-date servers and a throttled pipe is also a problem. Additionally, there are platform-based web hosts and they too are issues where you do not have the control over your own website or even if you can have a .htaccess file, a necessary tool in the SEO toolbox. I am often asked why I started a web hosting company and first and foremost, we needed to host our sites in a manner that best-supported search engines. At the time the only way we could meet the need was to bring hosting in-house. So that is what we did and ended up with a relatively large hosting company. Google finally came around to my way of thinking which was to include the core vitals as part of the algorithm. On-site SEO The next thing is how the little things being off can impact your website. Keyword research is paramount to having successful on-site seo success. The proper implementation of keywords though a page from the title tag to the Headline tags, and the navigation are supremely important signals that if don’t send them you are missing an opportunity. Having on-site SEO dialed in is an easy win and will more often than not move your website from page 2+ to possibly the first page easily. Backlinks There are two sets of issues that emanate from backlinks. One is totally ignoring them or two trying to game them. New website owners especially, often think put up 5 pages and boom people will find me. Well, the days of if you build it they will come is in the rearview mirror. The reality is that you need to be an authority. You need to be fresh and you need to be a thought leader. If you are an entrepreneur, this should not be a high bar. After all, if you are bold enough to start out on your own, leadership should not be hard for you. As a thought leader you should be putting out high-quality contact and in return, you will find people linking to your site creating the link equity needed. Now there are SEOs that feel link manipulation is the way to go meaning, buying links, PBNs that are hard to track. Spun content. All kinds of schemes that are highly against Google Guidelines. Link manipulation is by far one of the worst errors that can be discussed. Usually, the offenders are egregious in their execution. If you build a quality site, are involved in your community and are a professional organization, more than likely good quality links will come. Intellectual Property So this is a fancy term but what it means for this exercise is things like your domain name and your social media properties. In the 25 years since I’ve been working in this industry, I’ve seen so many unfortunate business owners come to us to help solve IP issues. They rang from Domains with wrong contact issues, divorce problems and even death.
89 minutes | Apr 24, 2022
Episode 209: All about Content
Their back! Well I think they never went away. What I’m talking about is content silos, or as ahref called them a topic cluster. On a side note, recently there was a post on twitter about how people rename things and then go Eureka, I found something new. This Eureka, whether called content hub, topic cluster or silos, have been around since day one. It is just we have not seen the emphasis in the recent past. I guess really since they started cracking down on the over use of anchor text on a page. One of the catalysts of this I believe is John Mueller’s recent discussion on AI and how AI technology and the posting of that type of content is against Google’s Guidelines. As I have always taught, nothing beats a good solid piece of well written and well thought out content. And although I fully recognize that my industry, SEO and Web Design both foster this, anyone with a business, should not have issues producing this level of information. After all that is why you are in business, to solve issues other people have that they cannot solve themselves. And that, is the exact thing you should be writing about. What I know from the SEO side of the world is that I could write down everything I know over and over and still very few people would get it correct. So don’t be afraid to produce content that gives answers and that paints yourself as an expert. There has been a lot of chatter too on the quality of the page and what is deemed good quality and how does Google portend to decide what is good and what isn’t. In on words how good is it AI in understanding the meaning and construction of a page. As a human I know a bad page, or spun page when I see it. But how well will machine learning address this. Additionally there are different types of on-page content. So we need to make sure we are using the right content at the right time in the right way. And honesty it can be tricky. So what types of content are their. And that’s is what else I discuss in today’s class. How do you write articles to meet the objects and how do you write them to create this content silos or Topic Clusters. What Types of Content are there? Topic Page So first lets understand the three page types. We have what we can a topics page and that is often the equivalate of a mini homepage for that section of the website. Often these are the pages that are linked in the navigation Evergreen Content Page: We also have an evergreen topics page that are usually nested under a topic. And of course, these are pages that as time goes on, will always stay relevant. For example, a page that talks about NASA, when talking about places to visit in Houston. NASA will always be NASA. Blog Page (posts) And then we have the colloquial blogs that are more relaxed and are often an editorial. More important, the facts of meat of the subject may change over time. So, time is a factor. As with all things, it’s always best to start with a mind map of your website. You must be thoughtful in this process and also, I color code mine so that when I look back at it I know what my intent was at the time I created the mind map. I also put traffic notes if they are applicable and they are a starting place if I need to make and SEO adjustment. Best of all you can tell what is a topics page (they are orange on my charts) and then what are evergreen supporting pages (they are read on my charts) And then grey lets my writers what points should be covered in each of those pages or if additional evergreen is needed. Remember To Create a Mind Map Mind Mapping We recommend MindMaple to do this with. It is free (so it says). It works on both OSX and Windows and can be easily shared. We also use this to create our keywords and understand what we should be adding to pages to be relevant. So this is an important step on the process. Once we know what type of page is needed we then try to get a feel for how long tha page should be.
115 minutes | Apr 6, 2022
Local SEO Tips for Getting on Google Maps
When a user does a search, Google determines if they are looking for something that is either close to them in proximity, or something that is further away. But with the passage of time, more searches are being pushed into a local space, and to be successful in that space, website owners have to understand how to make this perspective work for them. This is the core of what local seo is Every business owner should be identifying where they want to go in the future, how they get there, and how people are interacting with them. Then the key is to stick to that plan because if you start to deviate or hop around too much, Google will not understand what you are doing and it can hurt the success of your website in the long run. The most linear path to getting Google to notice your website is to list your business on Google Maps and set up your website in a manner that helps the search engine understand exactly who you are and what you do. Why Maps for Your Business Are Important Consider this statistic: ninety-five percent of online traffic that hits a website with a map will have come from the number one result on a Google map listing. In other words, a map listing equals more traffic to your website and therefore your goal should be to have your business appear on that list. With best practices, any business has the potential to make the map listing for a search results page in Google, but the less competitive an industry is because it is more localized, such as a chiropractor or a plumber, the easier it will be. Those businesses who are competitive with entities on a national scale for people’s business will generally have more difficulty. How to Get Your Business Listed on Google Maps If you don’t know anything about Google Maps, you need to, so I am going to walk you through some of the basics. The first order of business is to get your company listed on Google Maps by following these steps: Go to https://google.com/business and then sign in (if have not yet registered your business, do so now by entering your business name and address). It is better to use a physical address rather than use a virtual space or address as Google recently wiped out millions of websites for that exact reason. A brick and mortar business with a physical location will always rank better than a company with just a service area. Go to the info area and pick your categories. These categories will tell Google what your website is about. There is no way to assign a category that does not already exist. A category is not the same thing as a service that your business offers. These categories dictate how Google will see your business, not necessarily how you see your business. Getting these categories right is probably the most important part of this process because if you don’t get it right, you are kind of doomed from the get go. List your services. Some of this Google may fill in and some will need to be filled in by you. Make sure your list of services is valid and comprehensive. List your hours. Be sure to list accurate operating hours for your business. Make your profile picture your physical front door to the office. Google prefers to see, no matter how ugly, the physical front door to your business that has the logo and everything on it. This is just one more way for them to establish the credibility of your business. Take photos and put them up here. When you are somewhere for business, take a picture with your cell phone because it keeps track of your location and tells Google where you were when the picture was taken with the metadata. This can help both validate your service area and grow it. Get reviews. The more reviews your business has, the better off you are. Reviews should be from actual customers and are even better with keyword placement that relates to your business. Do not make them up or buy them. Be sure to reply to every review that goes up. Thank people for good reviews.
121 minutes | Mar 20, 2022
What is SEO? A Beginners Guide Part II. (Technical SEO)
This is the second part of our SEO for Beginners podcast. Because this section is vital for the success of any website when it comes to Google, I felt it best to put this section together all on its own. In SEO for Beginners Part I. I touched on some of the external decisions you need to make when creating a website that will rank for Google. We spent some time on picking web hosting. I built Vertical Web’s Hosting Infrastructure specifically to accommodate Google. And I did it long before Google even knew it needed to be addressed. We also talked about choosing the right platform. From my standpoint, WordPress is the only correct solution. I know it sounds a little narrow-minded but, singularly focused with Google as the target, it really is the most viable to do what is needed. And trust me there is a lot needed. Fundamentals of SEO or Technical SEO When I look back over the 20 years we have been building websites and ranking websites, there are some fundamental things that have always been present. Sometimes they take a more center stage focus within the Google Algorithm, and other times, they take a backseat. But having career ranking websites, I have found we have to make very little overhauls if you get the fundamental foundations right. I have sites that we have been responsible for the SEO, and although we need to modernize the appearance, the basic foundational issues are always correct. So what do I mean by fundamentals? They have become affectionately known as Technical SEO. And as I continue to weigh on-site vs. off-site SEO, I continue to find websites that have strong link profiles and terrible on-site SEO. It is really the opposite of a few years ago because everyone was so singularly focused on links, they took their eye off the on-site part of the process. So today’s podcast starts to look at exactly what this all means and how doing it right on day one saves you money and time, and gains you far more traction. And if you have an existing site, why your site must be brought into alignment. So although I skipped picking Keywords, and will do this in a different podcast, I had to talk about how you set your website up. The Signals Lead to the Benjamins – Google looks for signals, which are ranking variables that clue Google into what a page or a website is about. There is a factor of commonality and certain words that trigger Google that helps Google discern user intent. So we must understand those triggers so we can build pages for the outcomes we want. So the question then should be what are those triggers and how should my website and then my web page address them? They are structure, meaning, how is my website outlined and how is it put together, using the navigation as the roadmap. How am I utilizing headings to make them work to signal Google what the page is about? How do I use anchor text to create signals? In addition, all these signals will allow Google to produce the right search result for each query. And, best of all, if this is done right the user will be directed to the right page on your website, rather than be forced to land and then figure out where they are supposed to go. If you don’t afford your users this, what will happen is they will simply bounce back to Google. The end user expects to land in the right spot, so this is another reason the outline of the site must be set up correctly. When these items are put together correctly on a page, Google gets a clear picture of your website and therefore places it where they think it should be in their search result. By handling all these principles properly, your site will more than likely make it into the top 20 with very little effort, depending on how competitive the keyword is. And, once the site is placed, you will be able to fine tune it into the first page. It All Starts with a Mind Map I encourage everyone that wants to have a ranking website to create a mind map of that site.
115 minutes | Feb 28, 2022
Episode 206: Fine Tuning for ’22
We finally got to kick off 2022 with our partner Houston Community College’s Center for Entrepreneurship. In tonight’s class I picked several points that will be the key items for ranking well in Google for 2022. Web Hosting There has been a dramatic focus put on Core Vitals. Because I have a long track record of working in SEO and understanding how vital quality web hosting is the process, it only seems fitting to me that Google finally caught up to me with ideas of how a server affects the overall performance of a website. How slow web hosting can negatively impact the client experience, which is one of Google’s prime focus. Using Web.dev gives an extensive overview of how to improve your website for speed and if your website will pass the tests Google now requires. Of course the class always asks who is a good web hosting company and I always say we are. We provide top of the line hosting, especially focused on WordPress. Plus we know how to troubleshoot and fix most WordPress problems as they arise. This is now a focal point for success and winning a place at Google’s table. So find a good web host. If its not us, make sure you choose one that can handle the riggers of Google. One that has great support for your website. And make sure they understand or provide solutions that help with core vitals. Web Design The way in which you build your website is vitally important. From the platform you choose, to the way you put it together and assemble it, makes all the difference in the success level of the website. Going about getting a website build properly is vital to is success. Other considerations should be what is the best platform to build a website. We have long said platforms that are website builders, via a cookie cutter, rarely will rank well in Google Can it be done, yes, but it takes a lot of skill most business owners and SEO beginners just don’t have. Its always beset to setup so that your website succeed. A solid well ranked website brings brand awareness, which is a very important. A solid website that Google links and puts on the first page functions like a sales person for you. There is many benefits, but it takes planning on the frontside to get there on the back side. The general rule of thumb is to avoid cookie cutter point and click online platform designers. Learn to use WordPress.org. Web Marketing Clear messaging spoken from a position of authority is vital to you website success. Your readers want to know you a are a trusted source. This is vital for success. Yes we know it is hard to find time but really, by not you’re missing an important of the equation of having a modern business. The concept of being an expert is extremely important to this equation. We are all experts in the businesses we own, or we work in. Using this to drive your digital marketing is vital for long term success. Of course blogs are important but even more so now are also podcasts and videos to help your potential clients feel comfortable with doing business with your business Local SEO and Google My Business Local SEO is a now specialized for of SEO that is aimed at local brick and mortar or service area businesses ( electricians, plumbers). Often businesses don’t optimize their Google My Business presence and miss the unique opportunity it presents. Even worse some business owners don’t participate at all. Every business, regardless of size or scope of your business has a local domicile and therefore should have a Google My Business presence. Often when doing SEO for Lawyers or SEO for Dentists, this is a prime focus. But many services mid-size business will benefit as well from having a localized presence even if they serve a national audience. Overall these are the focal points for 2022 we should all be working towards mastering.
106 minutes | Feb 27, 2022
Episode 205 -A Beginners Guide to SEO: What is SEO?
When it comes to search engine optimization, people often overlook the value of basic SEO in their website and digital marketing operations. And some honestly may not even understand what to do or how to get started. It is never too late to make basic SEO an integral part of the website. As the owner of a company that offers SEO services as well as web design and web hosting, let’s talk about some ways you can get started today. What is SEO? And Why Does SEO Matter? Basically, utilizing SEO optimizes your website content to present it or feed it to the search engine in the best possible way. For a search engine optimization campaign to be successful, it must be feeding the customer AND Google. This balance is everything. SEO And Google One of the reasons SEO plays such a critical role in getting traffic to a website is because it is basically the art of feeding Google information in a way that gives your business placement on the first page of Google. Google is the largest driver of traffic for a website, coming in at a whopping 80 % of all unbranded traffic coming from them. The next highest source of website traffic can come from a social media platform like Facebook, but with a much lower yield of probably around five percent. When you compare sixty percent of traffic to five, it only makes sense to maximize your efforts in Google over other options. Google uses an algorithm, or mathematical computation, that combines roughly two hundred or so areas of data to rank a website. Google will take a page of content on your website and run it through the algorithm for a score. If you do enough things right, the algorithm may work in your favor, but the converse is also true. It is critically important to understand how a search engine works so that you can make your website and the pages conform to their algorithm, while still representing you're business with is best foot forward. Basic SEO Tips SEO is like a big jigsaw puzzle. When the puzzle is put together right, it creates an amazing picture. If one or more of the puzzle pieces is missing, it is nothing but incomplete. For the best yield from SEO practices, the goal is to do as many as you can at the best possible level because the end result is what Google will be looking at. Some good starting tips for basic SEO are: Post relevant and updated content. Google is looking for websites that share relevant and new information. For instance, if you are a plumber, a blog post might talk about frozen pipes and needs to do so in a comprehensive way that helps the reader. Keep content original and do not duplicate even material from another page on your own website. Do the legwork to get backlinks. Google will look at how many votes a website gets and part of that process is if someone makes a link to your website. In Google’s eyes, that gives the website value. Do not fake backlinks or buy them. Backlinks from a chamber of commerce or the Better Business Bureau can be good to have from the search engine’s standpoint. If you adopt good SEO, the backlinks should come on their own. Create the sitemap and submit it to Google through their search console. Utilize outside traffic. Google will take notice if a sizeable chunk of your website traffic is coming from somewhere other than them and may reevaluate your web page. At my company, we have diversified our traffic to come from a podcast and social media platforms. Be authoritative. In every piece of content put together for your website, own your authority on the product or services your website officers. In addition to verbiage, becoming a member of the local chamber of commerce and participating in your community can help with this. Good page speed. Google is looking at the speed of your webpages. Make sure they are running efficiently, which is typically a reflection of your web hosting company. Understand the importance of good keywords. Google will only know what you are talking about if ...
106 minutes | Feb 22, 2022
Episode 204: Local SEO for 2022
Table of Contents Add a header to begin generating the table of contents One of the biggest mistakes I see small businesses make is underutilizing Local SEO practices. If you want your local business to rank better in Google searches, Local SEO is a necessity because it reveals things about your specific location that could have you appearing in a user’s local search.The key to success is learning what exactly Local SEO is, how to implement it in your own website, how you can support it with Technical SEO, and how the combined effect can impact your business. Let’s walk through it together.What Is Local SEO?About ten years ago, Google started plugging map listings into their search results and defining virtually every word in the English language to help them better understand a user’s intent. The result is when a user searches for a term such as “auto mechanic” Google will surmise that they are looking for an auto mechanic, and likely one not far from where they are. Essentially, Google uses proximity searches and word definitions to provide a user with what they hope is the exact information they are looking for.If there is a map listing on a page, your goal should be to get in that local listing. This is key because the data seems to say that ninety-five percent of people go for the map listing results that appear when they do an online search. Specifically, your end goal should be to reach the top three options in the map listing to help maximize website traffic.Bottom line? Google is basing the results they provide on the intent of the user, and to do that they are assuming that when the user does a search, they want a local business. If Google doesn’t recognize your business’ address or where you do business, they have no way of knowing if you are local to a user or not, which means you are off the list. Implementing Local SEOThe best way to let Google know who you are by registering for their Google My Business program and to optimize your website for local searches. This is typically done best through signals such as: Google My Business registration. Register your business with Google My Business and take special care to fill out your contact information correctly and as you want it to appear everywhere. List your business’ hours of operation. Never change your phone number because it is connected to your business. Be consistent with how you list the URL of your business, whether that is with the “www” prefix or without it. Know where your Google My Business page points to and try to make a link back to it on the website. Make sure your business description is well-rounded.Owner Credibility. If a business is going to appear in the top results of Google’s map listing, Google wants to ensure that it is a valid business and not part of scam. They have some initial hurdles to answer and at times, we have had to submit documentation from the state showing the business is legit. This is a good reason to have all your paperwork in order.Physical location information. In the past, Google preferred a physical address to be connected with a business. They now understand all businesses do not necessarily have brick and mortars and will allow a designation of a particular service area. Personally, I still recommend using a physical address if possible because everything is based on proximity. It is also a good idea to use a photo of your office as the cover photo for your Google My Business page.Chamber of commerce membership. When you become a chamber of commerce member, it is a signal to Google that you are a legitimate business, and it tells them more about your location. In other words, if you are a Houston Chamber of Commerce member, Google will assume that your business is based in HoustonEnsuring that your business meets guidelines for Local SEO should increase foot traffic, leads from the website, and engagement. It is that important.
55 minutes | Feb 9, 2022
Quick Primer on Core Vitals and Technical SEO
I was invited to give a talk on SEO for the Houston West Chamber of Commerce and decided to talk this and make a bonus podcast out of it. This is a quick sprint though core vitals and how to use and interpret Web.dev. It is important to have a strong web hosting company to help with making sure you site passes core vitals. And, if it doesn't helping you make that work. We also did a quick on page technical SEO walk though to help business owners understand how to do a quick audit of your page. We touched on title tags, H1, H2 tags and other on page technical seo elements that if you did nothing else, but fix these items, your page would be more apt to rank on local or long tail search. This segment is one of the quickest ways to fix what's wrong with your website. Because of the icy weather we know a lot of you missed the talk in person or the opportunity to ask questions so we though we would put this up and if there are any questions please feel free to leave them in the comment section of the website site. This is a little shorter format than our normal Internet Marketing Clinic classes but was great to be back in front of people and we are looking forward to doing more in person events.
113 minutes | Jan 30, 2022
Digital Marketing Strategies for 2022
As many know I have always been a big proponent of creating a comprehensive marketing strategy where the digital part, is just that apart. So in this week’s podcast, we go through and unpack what that should look like and what you should be focusing on to set up a long-term sustainable strategy. What Business is NOT Doing When It Comes to Digital Marketing. So sometimes it's good to start in a place that highlights what we are not doing. There are 10 things that business owners don’t do or overlook. Really understand who your customer is first and foremost. Then think about who you want them to be. The reason I break that in two is that although imaging where you want to go is important for success; not understanding where you are can be a huge hurdle to growth Know what your analytics say. Understand your cost of lead acquisition. Develop an email mailing list Create a sustainable marketing budget Using social media as a billboard rather than a strategy. Keep databases clean Choosing the wrong vendor Automate everything you can. Stand out and be the expert Being flexible and being willing to pivot as needed Understanding the Sales Funnel on Your Website We hear a lot about funnels and how we should build them. And in the internet marketing clinic, we talk a lot about how to gain traffic to a website but equally important is how that traffic matriculates to sales. I think a lot of what we talk about in this the Internet Marketing Clinic the top of the funnel. How to get people into your sales process. But we are going to challenge each of our business owners to start looking at the next steps from traffic We see a lot of inbound marketing tactics, meaning offering folks something to get them to give you their contact information. Long term we should all have that goal. Either through education (white papers, webinars) chat or social media we need to encourage our end users to tell us who they are so we can continue to reach out and interact with them. It will take 17-23 touches before someone does business with you. So, part of our funnel goals should be to create ways to do that. We fish for clients with a big net and that is how internet marketing has been taught for many years, but we need to consider funnel and conversion actions. Who has a plan for client acquisition? This is something that we really overlook with our websites. Everything you do should be geared around making sure you create an environment and a marketing plan to acquire customers. Your business should have a very strong digital footprint as well as a strong traditional plan. Both work together to maximize your business. Your SEO should not be the only thing driving your business. You should never be a one-trick pony when it comes to marketing yet so many business owners fall into a trap of when something works never expanding outside of that path. What is your Business' Value Proposition? Experience says that most companies cannot define their value proposition to a prospective client. When you cannot do this, and you don’t have someone asking the right questions, you cannot drive messaging right. The messaging is not clear to prospective clients and therefore makes it very difficult for them to start to move down the funnel and move towards doing business with you. People know what to expect when they do business with Amazon or other big brands. But how do you convey that? This is more of a thought provocation rather than something I am going to answer. As a business owner, it is imperative that you define your value proposition for your clients. Are you Consistent with Web Site? Both your clients and Google start to look for consistency in what they can expect from you or your business. Feeding Google also feeds your clients and your social media properties that start to build a consistent footprint for your business. That consistency serves a few masters. One you are reinforcing your brand.
82 minutes | Jan 24, 2022
Digital Marketing Goals for 2022
As we all know goals are important. At the start of the year, they seem to be front and center. Digital Marketing for your business is no different. There is no time like the present to get started with it. Two Sides of the Content Coin Content discussions have been going on since the start of SEO and internet marketing. Despite the topic sounding the same the reality is that the end user has become more demanding in what they want. In the past we have said we need to put-up high-quality content, but we never really say why or what the benefits are from doing so other than maybe getting a higher Google ranking. Despite that being true, there are really two sides to this and as we walk into the new year that need become more defined. So for many years we have talked about adding content in the form of evergreen pages and blog pages to help feed Google. We are very deliberate in word count and in technical structure, but do we stop to consider the user. In years page, no they were just a piece of bait out on the internet waiting for a client to come a long, click through and realize how great we are. Those days are gone. Now we may put out a page of content, and we need to put the end user first. Google of course is still in the equation and structurally we do want to include certain items. However, the page now must be written from a more informational or educational standpoint. We need to demonstrate we are experts, a core theme we stress here at Vertical Web. So my challenge and goals for website owners and marketers are to write solid content for their users. Make sure its engaging and creates interest in what you do, but do not be pushing the ‘sale.’ There are ways to do that gracefully and usually if you can master that you have a far higher success rate in our present climate. Once you write out that content or those evergreen parts of your website then go back and fix it for Google, but in reality if you do that correctly, you are also fixing it for your end user Avoid Missing the Mark I often see website designers that miss the mark in being clear for their end users. It is always a good idea to create a clean website with a lot of white space and keeping is simple. But there is a thing as being too simple. Often to be creative with language, it often does not send a clear message back to others about what a website is about. If the website is unclear so will the ROI. End users are looking for information. They are picky in how they interact with the content. Adding confusion to the top of this will only diminish the value of what you do. In the same vein it is equally as important to make sure you are also using the right images to convey your messaging. Its again a common mistake we see, but images need to be aligned with the subject matter. Case in point, I am in the process of building our new verticalweb.com website and in that process I had gotten some outside brand opinion on positioning. And their comments were that we are a different type of company and then proceeded to suggest using abstract images for the home page. The problem is that the public has a certain expectation so putting a picture of paper ships in a bathtub does not convey we stand out in the crowd. There are so many jokes there. But the point of the matter is standing out in a crowd sometimes means you have to understand your audience and use images that work for them. Understanding and Educate Potential Clients Educating potential clients is always a solid way to earn trust and create leads. However, its one of those things small business owners often miss the mark on. Very often they want to tell people what they have to offer rather than listening to them and seeing what they need or how you can make their solution fit. Listening is one of the best ways to understand our clients. And best of all they often give you the content to your website on a silver platter.