Best Questions to ask an SEO Agency

Snake oil salesmen. Scam artists. Outdated, ineffective tactics.

When you’re thinking about hiring an SEO agency, you want to avoid any and all of the above. But with so many people claiming to be SEO experts these days, how can you weed out the con men and find a capable SEO partner?

There’s good news. Even if you don’t know much — or anything — about SEO, there are still questions you can ask that will help you determine if an agency is worth hiring or just making promises they can’t keep.

1. Can You Guarantee Specific Results?

The best answer: “No. Nobody can.”

2. How Long Will It Take to See Results?

The best answer: “I’ll need to check how competitive your niche is, but typically it takes about three to six months to start seeing results.”

3. Have You Ever Worked With a Business Like Mine Before?

The best answer: “You bet! Here are a few examples,” or, “No, but we’ve worked with businesses in a similar situation — here’s how we helped them.”

4. How Has SEO Changed in the Past Few Years?

The best answer: “Things have changed an awful lot! From the Penguin update, which changed how people build links, to the Panda update, which influenced how we create content, all the way to Google Hummingbird…”

5. What Parts of the SEO Process Do You Outsource?

The best answer: “While we handle all of our strategy in house, we do outsource X to [credible provider]” or “We handle everything in house — would you like to meet our team?”

6. What’s Your Link-Building Process?

The best answer: “We take a content-first approach to attracting links while also capitalizing on safe, proven outreach and content promotion methods.”

7. How Do You Choose the Keywords We’ll Be Targeting?

The best answer: “It’s a combination of relevance, searcher intent, traffic volumes, and competition level.”

8. What Metrics Do You Think Are Most Important to Measure?

The best answer: “It’s multi-faceted, but the most important thing is that we’re driving leads and sales.”

9. What Will the Process for Implementing Changes Look Like?

The best answer: “Anything that lets you know they have a system in place and that they understand changes will need to be made.”

10. What Do Your Reports Look Like, and Can I See One?

The best answer: “Absolutely! Here’s an example of what we send out clients. Let’s talk through it.”

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What is an SSL Certificate?

What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL Certificates are small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details. When installed on a web server, it activates the padlock and the https protocol and allows secure connections from a web server to a browser. Typically, SSL is used to secure credit card transactions, data transfer and logins, and more recently is becoming the norm when securing browsing of social media sites.

SSL Certificates bind together:

  • A domain name, server name or hostname.
  • An organizational identity (i.e. company name) and location.

An organization needs to install the SSL Certificate onto its web server to initiate a secure session with browsers. Once a secure connection is established, all web traffic between the web server and the web browser will be secure.

When a certificate is successfully installed your server, the application protocol (also known as HTTP) will change to HTTPs, where the ‘S’ stands for ‘secure’. Depending on the type of certificate you purchase and what browser you are surfing the internet on, a browser will show a padlock or green bar in the browser when you visit a website that has an SSL Certificate installed.

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Using Microsites to Boost Your Online Marketing

The current version of the Tech 1 Peripherals website is actually the fourth maybe fifth, it’s been updated so many times that one looses track. A point to be made here is that our site is constantly being changed, not because it is a bad site but because we look for new creative ways to present our business. However, it is difficult to focus our website to speak to only one portion of our business. At Tech 1 Peripherals we do Website Design and Development, Digital marketing, and IT support. It can be frustrating to find the easiest solution to showcase all three areas on one website and give each their proper attention. Instead of getting frustrated though, an idea popped into our heads, let’s create microsites.

Microsite definition: A customized, branded website with a specific purpose and function. While the main Tech 1 Peripherals site will speak to every function of the business the microsite is designed as part of a marketing campaign to promote a particular product or service.While your all-inclusive corporate website may be designed to cover all of the bases and answer every question that someone might have about your business, the microsite (also sometimes called a “sitelet”) isn’t designed to be all things to all people. Instead, it’s designed as part of a marketing campaign for a particular product or service, allowing for a level of branding and specificity that would be out of place or get lost on the company’s main website.

When to Use a Microsite

Microsites aren’t for everyone. If you need to promote your product or service within the larger context of your business, or if you feel that you cannot effectively promote something without telling your entire brand story, then a microsite probably isn’t for you.

If that’s not the case, then you need to think strategically about your plans for a microsite and ask some important questions. Consider the list below; if you can answer “yes” to two or more questions from this list, a microsite could be a good fit for your business.

  • Have you already defined a marketing strategy, and would it be better executed on its own?
  • Are you having trouble meeting a particular sales or marketing goal on your main website?
  • Can the subject matter of your intended microsite stand on its own?
  • Is your main website dynamic and interesting enough to support a viral marketing campaign?
  • Do you have the time and resources necessary to develop an effective microsite?
  • Could the aggressive SEO strategy you’re planning to use potentially cause problems or damage the reputation of your main website?
  • Are you an affiliate marketer looking to target a number of niches?

Again, if you can answer “yes” to two or more questions, a microsite could be a good fit for you. Remember, it takes time and money to develop an effective microsite, so be sure that your plan fits into your overall marketing goals.

What Microsites Can Do For You

A well-executed microsite can benefit your business in a number of ways, including:

  • New ways to find your site. Microsites give people another way to find your business online.
  • The ability to experiment. Want to experiment with a marketing message or technique that is bold, unique and outside of your normal approach? Microsites allow you to be more daring and try tactics that would be out of place on your main website.
  • Creating a specific message. A microsite allows for ultra-specific branding of a product or service, including logos, taglines and a domain name. This type of branding, even in the short term, on a main website would create brand confusion.
  • Unleashes the power of marketing. Corporate websites are often designed by committee, with multiple departments all clamoring to get their messages onto the main site. With a microsite, marketing can build an entire site around their ideas for a product or service without trying to dilute the message around everything else that’s happening on the main site.
  • More conversions. The specificity of microsites means that visitors don’t have to spend time searching your main site to find what they need — it’s all right there. When they find it quickly and easily, they are more likely to respond, creating more conversions.
  • Reputation management. When your business has several non-redundant websites, they will usually show up in search results together. If that’s the case, these multiple sites will show up earlier in search results, pushing any negative or derogatory results further down the page and out of sight. You do not want to create a dozen microsites just for this purpose, especially if they are not unique and valuable, but keep in mind that microsites could play a role in an overall communication and reputation management strategy.
  • SEO value. Multiple sites means more likelihood of showing up in search. Again, the idea is to be specific, focused and relevant.
  • Greater chance of going viral.  Think about the sites and campaigns that have gone viral: They are usually edgy, unique and very focused. You don’t usually find corporate websites going viral. When done well, your microsite could help your business go viral, especially since they are usually much easier to share.

With all of the benefits of microsites, there are some drawbacks. Microsites cost money to create and promote; you can’t just create a microsite and hope that people find it. Make sure there is enough money in the marketing budget to create a site that’s useful and link-worthy.

Microsites offer the flexibility that allows you to try new things and take a little bit of risk with your marketing. Compared to a full corporate website, they are relatively easy to create and launch, and the benefits can be well worth the time. If you have a product or service that could use a little marketing boost, and some creative ideas for promoting it, it might be time to think “small.”

Need help mapping out your content strategy?

The ultimate goal of your marketing campaign is to drive more leads to your brand. Without a properly centralized strategy tying everything to your campaign objectives and business goals, you risk losing potential customers during the buying process due to a lack of focus and a disjointed narrative. Tech 1 P can help you map out a strategy that wins customers and gives you the results you crave.

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Google My Business

Simple Ways to Manage Your Google My Business Page

Do you have a Google My Business account? It’s important to learn how to manage the reviews your page is receiving. If you want to respond to an existing review or flag something that may be deemed inappropriate, here are simple steps  to manage your page. First, log in to your account at https://accounts.google.com/Login. Then, open the page where the review in question is posted and select the “About” tab. Scroll down to find the review and you’ll have the option to either respond, flag or share the review.

1. Respond to Reviews.

Whether you want to answer a customer’s question or thank him for the great review he gave your business, responding to reviews is an easy way to communicate. Click on “Respond” in the bottom left section of the review and the dialog box will appear. You will then type in your response and hit “Submit”.

2. Flag Inappropriate Reviews.

Of course, reviews were implemented so customers can give their opinion of your business and the service they received. However, sometimes these reviews can be inappropriate, abusive or fraudulent — therefore, it’s important for these to be flagged and then removed if necessary. To flag a review on your page, click on the small flag icon in the lower right corner of the review. This will then open a new tab in your browser where you’ll be able to submit your objection to the review. Next, you can simply fill out the form provided and click “Submit”. However, even after you’ve submitted the form, flagging a review doesn’t guarantee that a flagged review will actually be removed. Google’s parameters for acceptable content are very generous, but feedback is taken into consideration for the immediate issue. This will then contribute to the overall picture of what reviews should be acceptable.

3. Share Reviews.

When you receive an excellent review from a customer, you’re obviously going to want to share it for others to see! Google makes it easy for you to share reviews to your Stream for others to see. Reviews are found under the “About” tab on your Google My Business page. If you would like a specific review to show up in your “Stream”, click on the share icon in the lower right corner. You will then have the option to “Add A Comment” and select the audience you would like the post shared with. Simply complete the information in the dialog box and select “Share”. Then, the post will be immediately shared on your Stream. With these small steps, it’s easier for a business to maintain and understand their online presence through Google My Business. By keeping up with the customer reviews, it provides businesses valuable insight into what they’re doing correctly and what they could improve on.

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Milk the Internet for All It’s Worth

The giant companies of the Internet offer online sustenance to the masses. They feed people with information, satisfy the hunger to connect and give companies fuel to run successful businesses in the digital age.

Sure, consumers and business people have to pay for the prime Internet services (advertising and other premium services) but the core services are free. By this I mean the gamut of services available that can help small businesses succeed: web search, maps, directories and reviews.

The giant Internet companies operate on such a large scale that they can literally give away their services — at least at the most basic level — to the everyday Joe. Take Amazon and eBay. Using just one of those platforms, someone could sell sports memorabilia from a corner of the kitchen and reach millions of potential customers, without spending much more than time.

Without even printing up business card, an entrepreneur can carve out a niche on the web by taking advantage of the opportunities that the Internet’s biggest players offer small businesses. Here are three ways (with many options that are free or at minimal cost) to mine the offerings of large online companies to the advantage of small businesses:

1. Protect the company’s online identity.

While many buy insurance to protect their interests in case something bad happens to their company, a lot of small-business owners aren’t in the habit of protecting their online identity. Yet it’s possible for misinformation (or worse) about a company to be circulated online. This is a real risk (like a flood or a fire) to the viability of a business.

Online products like SinglePlatform, BrightEdge and Get Found (offered by my company, GoDaddy) make it easier for a company to have control over basic information posted about it on large popular sites such as Bing, Google and Yelp. Now companies can manage that information from one central location.

2. Add social-media marketing to the daily list.

SearchMetrics came out with this 2013’s list of the top search-engine ranking factors — and seven of the top 10 now involve social media.

Groom the social profile of a business by posting relevant content on the sites frequented by its target customers. This takes time and developing a strategy to manage these tasks well. But today a business active on social networks amounts to a more successful one.

3. Determine the best channels to reach clients.

Many consumers use a combination of trusted apps to look for products or services. Do additional research to discover the online channels that will work best to reach target customers in a specific geographic market and be sure the information posted about the company is correct online.

Those businesspeople who are building relationships with customers face-to-face and online — especially via meaningful engagement on social platforms — should ask customers how they found out about their company.

Leveraging all these online resources takes time.

Embrace technologies that offer time-saving solutions for small and medium-size businesses to get the full benefit from the web, such as mobile apps that enable payment via a linked PayPal account or GoDaddy’s Get Paid. Or try an online bank application.

That’s how to milk the Internet for its affordable small-business services without squeezing the last ounce of time from a daily schedule.

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SEO tips

3 Simple SEO Tips

Here’s how you can get your website found–even if you’re not an expert in SEO.
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A friend recently asked me to write about the difficulties that start-up owners go through to optimize their website and get found.

Without optimization, your website will be a tiny speck of salt in a vast–and rapidly expanding–cyber universe. Chances are, your market is probably packed with competitors, and any SEO consultant is going to ask for thousands of dollars a month just for the basic package.

Aside from dedicating every waking moment to understanding how SEO works, what new tactics are trending, and what Google really dislikes this year (coming in the form of Penguin and Panda updates), it’s going to be quite hard to start receiving significant sales in the first months–or year–after you go live.

Here are a few things you can do to get started:

Optimizing Your Page Titles

Adding meta titles to your pages is the first and simplest thing you will need to do to let search engines know, “Hey, I’m out here, and I’m relevant for this keyword”.

Every SEO expert will tell you that prior to beginning, they will need to find what the relevant keywords for your site are. Truth be told, this is something you can also do yourself. If your industry is particular (or specific), you probably know it better than any consultant.

Do some research, and find out what the most relevant keywords for your site are. Look at your competitor’s page titles, for example. Aside from this, I would focus on “long-tail” keywords, which involve phrase-like words and are more specific to a particular topic (3 or 4 words). Long tail keywords convert better, and are easier to rank for.

“Natural” Link Building

Everyone that has a website has heard about link building, which essentially entails getting other websites to link back to your site. How to do this, however, has changed dramatically in the past few years, and doing it incorrectly can actually hurt you.

Recently, Google’s algorithms were created in a way to detect “unnatural” links like certain paid links, overdone anchor texts, etc. This can get complicated for a freshman SEO strategist, but the bottom line is, links should not be forced. They should happen organically, and the way to solicit them and be successful at getting good links has a lot to do with the content you create.

Great ideas for natural link building involve writing guest posts on interesting blogs, successful social media activity (and building followers), and associating yourself with other bloggers with relative interests. A high-traffic blog is only as good as its content, otherwise readers wouldn’t visit it often. If your cause is interesting–and related to a topic fellow bloggers care about–chances are, they will want to talk about you.

Fascinate With Content

Aside from writing content on other blogs, you also need to write interesting content on your website. In the old days, writing content on your website could include a bunch of gibberish and bad grammar. As long as the targeted keywords were jammed in there somehow, you would have good rankings on search engines. Those days are gone. Nowadays, creating fascinating content is the one distinguishing factor that can be unique to you.

From info graphics to video blogs to inspirational stories, you have to put yourself out there. Say something bold. Write about things that people care about. Put out an inspirational image. Make your audience laugh, cry… make your readers identify with your experience. This is my strongest suggestion for any aspiring ecommerce start-up: start with a daily blog, build your followers, and then blend in your ecommerce shopping cart onto your site. If you apply the analogy of the chicken and the egg, content is definitely the egg, which comes first in my book.

Once you get these three points down, you should start seeing an increase in traffic, a deeper interest in your products, and eventually, it should transfer into sales. As soon as your sales start growing, reinvest your earnings on expanding your traffic-building strategies. From PPC campaigns, to affiliate marketing, to an SEO consulting firm, they’re all options I recommend–once you have an initial following.

I still look back at the early years of doing business and think that the grassroots strategies we came up with back then–in the guest bedroom of my old condo–were far more brilliant and exciting than what we do now. It’s hard, but doable! After all, what that’s worth it, isn’t?

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content marketing for seo

Content Marketing is King

Google has laid down the law with their Panda and Penguin updates, and they want websites to meet a specific criterion to qualify for good rankings. Quality content is at the top of Google’s shopping list, and Webmasters need to know the difference between content and quality content and how Content Marketing is King.

Quality Content

Writing a lot of redundant content will not generate the results you want. Quality content offers something of value to the website visitor. This value can be found in a tutorial that teaches the proper way to use a product, or an interesting article about the benefits of using a particular product or service. Your content needs to be factual, well written, interesting, and helpful.

Recycle Content

Recycling your content in different formats is different from spinning the same content into several articles that are basically the same. When you recycle content you transform your text into new formats, such as video presentations, an image story, or colour graphs that present a visual narration of the content. Use some of this content in social media marketing to bring new visitors to your website.

Evergreen Content is Sustainable

Evergreen is content that will be as valuable next year as it is today. Reports, white papers, graphs and charts, images, and tutorials are all unique and sustainable content formats. Google wants content that is always relevant. To succeed in this marketing endeavour you must create content that people want to share.

Use Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin are considered the leading social media websites. Using these sites effectively requires minimal learning, and there are numerous websites dedicated to teaching you the best social media marketing methods. Posting valuable content to social media sites will bring new visitors to your business website. Use social media to advertise new products and services, as well as link to instructional articles and tutorials. Link your social media posts to your website, where all of your content resides. Use share buttons. A simple snippet of code will add graphic share buttons to your website for all the social media sites.

Keep Your Brand and Content United

Your business and personal life must be sperated. if your product is real estate, don’t intersperse articles about short sales with photos of your daughters karate accomplishments. People want to know you take your business seriously and will be available when you are needed. Keep a separate personal social media site for family and friends. Keep all your business content on one website, and link your social media sites to your primary business website.

Content does rule in SEO marketing. Long-tail keywords, valuable content, consistent use of social media, and dedicated marketing is the best way to get high rankings.

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rebranding your organization

Rebranding Your Organization

When done right, rebranding your organization can help your business gain a competitive edge. It not only can keep your brand fresh but it may also help customers better understand your products or services. However, the downsides to rebranding — time and money — can be intimidating to many small-business owners and entrepreneurs.

Taking time to effectively plan for and implement a rebrand is certainly not a corner any small-business owner wants to cut. But is there a way it can be done without eating up your entire marketing budget? Absolutely. Rebranding your organization doesn’t have to cause you to go broke.

1. Tap influencers in your industry to help raise awareness for your new brand. Can’t afford a PR team to help launch the rebrand? No problem. Reach out to any influencers whose audience is similar to the audience you’re trying to reach, and make sure you can offer something in return for an influencer’s help.

2. Utilize your social media followers. For brands with a strong community, it could be as simple as a announcing the new brand and watching your brand ambassadors get the word out. Companies that lack a strong community should consider sweepstakes that awards @mentions or a coupon for every person that likes a branded post. (Just be careful to make your offer relevant to your core constituents so you don’t just attract gamers.)

3. Get employees on board. Besides reaching out to your social-media followers, ask employees to also be brand ambassadors. Get T-shirts, backpacks or other merchandise, slap your logo it and ask employees to wear your company swag.

Make sure your swag is something your employees will actually like and use, as it will increase the chance that your swag is worn or displayed voluntarily. Finally, once you’ve created the gear that no employee can resist flaunting, it’s not a bad idea to host networking events and incentivize your employees to show off their new branded gear to friends and collegues.

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Facebook Advertising Cost

Understanding Facebook Advertising Cost

Determining Facebook Advertising Cost

How much does Facebook advertising cost? How much should I spend on Facebook Ads? When talking to businesses about running Facebook Ads those are the top two questions asked. Especially considering the need to track ROI on paid ads.

A short answer would be: Spend less on each customer you get through Facebook Ads that they are worth to you.

Before we can elaborate further on how to determine that we need to look at the types of campaigns available on Facebook.

Facebook Advertising Campaign Types:

Every Facebook campaign requires that you choose a pricing structure. The options are CPC, CPM, CPL, & CPA, you should note that CPA is only available if you choose “Website Conversions” as you “Ad results”. CPL is only available if you choose “Page Likes” as your “Ad result”.

  • CPC (cost-per-click): in this campaign type you only pay when someone click on your Facebook Ad.
  • CPM (cost-per-mille): in this campaign type you pay Facebook when they’ve shown your ad 1000 times. Meaning this campaign type is a cost per impression, when a Facebook users sees your ad once that is considered an impression
  • CPA (cost-per-action): this allows you to not only track but optimize how much you spend to get someone to take an action (or convert) on your website after click on your ad.
  • CPL (cost-per-like): much like the campaign type sounds you are paying Facebook for every “Like” your Facebook Pages receives this campaign is great for helping a new company make a splash and get noticed in their particular area or industry.

Finding Your Cost Per Acquisition

You can start by using Facebook’s built-in Cost per Action tracking, this will give us the cost of the initial action that a user will make on your website. If the action is to make a purchase than congratulations you know what your cost per acquisition will be. However, if you are looking to have your user download an ebook, sign up for a newsletter or fill out some type of form, you will need to add an extra variable to this equation:

CPA x (Number of Leads that Convert / Total Number of Leads)

After determining your Cost Per Acquisition you can determine if the cost for Facebook Ads is in line with your marketing efforts and start to build out the best ad campaign for your business. Building an ad campaign on Facebook is like building the perfect social media which you can read about here.

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digital marketing for healthcare

Digital Marketing Tips for Medical Entrepreneurs

Every sneeze or sniffle has people running to Dr. Google for a diagnosis.

Google could be as much of a doctor as Dr. Seuss, but for many, it’s the first step when solving a medical problem.

Still, it’s clear that consumers rely heavily on the internet for medical information. For that reason, digital marketing has become essential, but many doctors with small practices don’t know where to begin.

Here are my top digital marketing tips for medical practitioners:

Evolve from then to now. Modern medicine predates the internet by, oh, a few hundred years. This industry has evolved as a whole, so now it’s your turn. However, many medical professionals who have been in practice for several decades already are reluctant to take things digital. But fear not! With a smart website and social presence, it’s possible.
Manage your online reputation. Finding a new doctor is just like finding a new restaurant. Search for the type of doctor you want (or cuisine of food), look it up reviews on Yelp and check out the services (or menu) on their site. Customer reviews are a driving force for businesses in all industries, so it’s crucial to keep an eye on reviews and be aware of how patients feel about your practice.
Grow your business with simple digital marketing techniques. Consumers are always looking for more information. A strong website with valuable, helpful content can boost your SEO and provide much sought-after info for potential patients. Start a blog or produce YouTube videos (check out USA Vein Clinic’s YouTube channel for an example) and share these articles with your Facebook and Twitter followers.

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