How Do I Pick an SEO Company? (from the Owner)

Okay, there are lots of stories out there about SEO. I got the idea to write this long form (for me at least) exposé after reading Alistair Barr’s great article, “Mobile Devices Upend Google Search”. There were many references from professionals who are at bigger companies than my own – even WPP.

What I want to do is give the SEO prospect a better understanding of SEO as a topic, including why there are so many different directives, and how to move forward in enacting better SEO for their company.

SEO is a big topic. SEO is both simple and also highly technical. SEO can start with something as easy as writing on your site to something more complex, like schema data & CDN’s.

Web-wise, every business has its own complex individual position (not rank), which can be broken down into: Content, Design, Technical, Competition, Vertical, Unique Sales Proposition (USP), and Human Capital, Relationships. Though there may be others, these are the most influential I can name at this moment, in general terms.

Web-wise, most executives and managers don’t know (or can’t Identify) how all of this affects their current “SEO”/individual position. Some larger companies may have internal people who work on their website at varying roles and technical abilities.

The reason people and companies should use an SEO consultant or an SEO agency. is because these consultants and agencies have the ability to understand a large majority of your business’ complex individual position as well as an ability to work with your business to achieve more success. Usually, that means more sales; and what most executives are interested in is Market Growth/Profitable Growth.

What happens when “SEO” doesn’t work? Here are the raw reasons:

An Unqualified SEO’er, Lack of communication, Misunderstanding of SEO’ers abilities OR focus areas, Budget not sufficient enough to compete with competitors in vertical, No long-term outlook, Non-Transparent SEO’er.

What the Prospect should/could do to identify who to work with:

  • Phone conversation: This could be the first call, or a call scheduled for later. Get a general over-the-phone feel for the Consultant/Agency, knowledge level, skill level, SEO Areas of focus/skill. Most executives can hear weakness of hesitation in conversation. However, don’t hold it against them if they take a moment to mindfully respond to questions/examples.
  • In person meeting: Ths can take place at a place of your choise or at the agency. During the meeting, you’ll have an in-depth talk about the Consultant/Agency’s knowledge, skills, areas of focus as well as your specific goals, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), reporting you need to see, and on what schedule. Ask questions knowing that to answer, they may have to do specific research on the current position.
  • Hire them: Confirm you want to work with them, and commit.
  • Pay them: Pay on time, every time. A lot of Consultants/ Agencies go the extra mile for great clients. This usually means they put in more time than they get paid for. Don’t leave them hanging; they might have to stop their work until they get payment, which could delay goals and milestones.
  • Talk Often: This can occur once every two weeks or weekly, depending on the budget. The reasons to do this are too numerous to list.

SEO – An All Encompassing Phrase

Again, SEO is really an all-encompassing phrase with the level of complexity being very high and different for every company. Hopefully, this helps you understand the complexity and vastness of it. Don’t take all the short “quotes” you read in articles about SEO as truth. Instead, work with your internal team and your SEO Consultant/Agency to execute a winning plan.

image by oskay on flickr cc

Cutting the Cable Cord; The Future is Video Advertising

It is becoming increasingly difficult to reach younger audiences via television advertising, and soon from now – it may be nearly impossible. Forrester Research predicts that 50% of all TV viewers under age 32 will not subscribe to a traditional pay TV service by the time 2025 rolls around. Currently, “cord-nevers” (people who have never subscribed to a paid cable TV service) comprise 18% of the U.S. population. And while the majority of cord-nevers are ages 32 and older, roughly 7% of cord-nevers are people ages 18-31. [source]

image by tomislavmedak on flickr cc

Increasing Engagement with Video Advertising

Cable TV subscriptions may be on the decline, but perhaps not surprisingly, time on YouTube jumped [source] 44% according to Nielsen’s Google-commissioned analysis, primarily due to mobile viewership. [source] With this information, brands and ad agencies are being forced to re-think their media strategies. The following are some of the things that they need to take into consideration.

#1 – Combine TV & YouTube

Google performed a study of 3,000 U.S. campaigns and looked at how total reach of millennials would be impacted if campaigns had replaced some of their TV advertising with YouTube ads. They found that without spending an extra dollar, 46% of campaigns would have benefited from a TV and YouTube combo, with an average increase in millennials reached of 42% compared to TV alone.

#2 – Use YouTube to Grow Engagement for Your Brand

Studies show that including “TrueView” ads on your YouTube videos can increase the likelihood of the viewer taking action. In fact, of those who watch at least 30 seconds or more of a TrueView ad are 23X more likely to visit and/or subscribe to that brand channel, watch additional videos by that brand and/or share the video(s). Marketers should pay attention to what their target audience’s needs are, and engage them in the micro-moments that matter.

#3 – Boost ROI by Increasing Views of Past Video Content

According to Google, viral content on sites like YouTube have a longer shelf life than the 15-30-second commercials you see on TV. Branded videos on YouTube have a long shelf-life, earning views for months, if not years. Those who employ the use of TrueView on newly posted videos see significant upticks in views for past content – by up to 500%!

image by Marco Arment on flickr cc

Other Tips for Successful Video Advertising

#1 – KEEP THE VIDEO RELEVANT

Just like any content you would produce for your website or other social media, the context of your video should appeal to your target audience. The more relevant, the better chance your audience will watch the entire video.

#2 – PERFORM A/B TESTING

One way to figure out which video ad performs better is by conducting A/B testing with your audience. Create several different types of videos, play around with video titles, lengths, and content.

#3 – BE BRIEF

Today’s Internet users don’t have time to wade through lengthy, drawn out videos. Keep your video short and sweet. Get to the point early on, avoid language that sounds too sales-y.

#4 – HAVE CLEAR CTA’S

Just like your online content, your video marketing efforts should include a clear Call-to-Action (CTA). Include this at the beginning of your video, at the end, or in the middle. Ideas of the kinds of CTA’s to include: social media links, your website URL, etc.

#5 – BRAND YOURSELF

Make sure you include some form of professional branding on or throughout your video. Ex: Place your company logo near the top of the video, near the side, or at the bottom of the screen.

#6 – ONLY PUBLISH HIGH QUALITY VIDEO

There is nothing worse than trying to watch a poor quality video. Depending on your budget, it would behoove you to hire a professional videographer or someone with the knowledge and expertise to help you a video whose technical and creative qualities look great on a variety of digital devices.

As we close out 2015, have a look at some of the top trending videos in 2014.

17 Interesting YouTube Statistics

  1. There are at least 400 hours worth of video uploaded to YouTube every single minute. [via]
  2. Only 5% of the videos posted to YouTube are driving most of the views. [via]
  3. 58M videos (5%) of YouTube videos are responsible for 95% of views on the site. [via]
  4. YouTube was founded in February 2005. [via]
  5. Slogan from 2005 – 2012 was “Broadcast Yourself”. [via]
  6. YouTube’s founders, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, were all early employees of PayPal. [via]
  7. The first YouTube video, titled Me at the zoo, shows co-founder Jawed Karim at the San Diego Zoo. The video was uploaded on April 23, 2005, and can still be viewed on the site. [via]
  8. In 2014 YouTube said that 300 hours of new videos were uploaded to the site every minute,[20] three times more than one year earlier and that around three quarters of the material comes from outside the U.S. [via]
  9. The site has 800 million unique users a month. [via]
  10. In October 2006, Google Inc. bought YouTube for $1.65 billion. The deal was finalized in November 2006. [via]
  11. Once users are on YouTube, they are spending more time per session watching videos. [via]
  12. On mobile, the average viewing session is now more than 40 minutes, up more than 50% y/y. [via]
  13. The number of hours people spent watching videos on mobile is up 100% y/y. [via]
  14. More than half of YouTube views come from mobile devices. [via]
  15. YouTube’s mobile revenue is up 2x y/y. [via]
  16. YouTube has over a billion users — almost one-third of all people on the Internet — and every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube and generate billions of views. [via]
  17. YouTube overall, and even YouTube on mobile alone, reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S. [via]

image by Collin Anderson on flickr cc

Cutting the Cord, Prepping for a Cable-Free Future

While we can’t predict the future outright, all signs seem to point to one in which we access video content from multi-channel mobile devices. What has your business done to prepare? If you need help putting together a comprehensive Viral marketing campaign that gets RESULTS, contact Look to the Right today: (919) 926-8733.

5 Steps to a Faster Website

Today, the average adult has an attention span comparable to a goldfish. So, when it comes to your website, you’d better be sure you have everything in order. The first key to making your website faster:  page load speed.

page loading

Faster Page Load = Better

The amount of time it takes a web user to load your website is critical. This is especially true if you operate a retail or e-commerce business. Each second lost in page load time may be dollars lost in revenue. Take the following for example:

For e-commerce sites, web loading times are even more crucial than other sites. It has been found that a delay of microseconds can potentially cause a significant loss of revenue. Tests at Amazon revealed similar results: every 100 ms increase in load time of Amazon.com decreased sales by 1% (Kohavi and Longbotham 2007). Google discovered that a change in a 10-result page loading in 0.4 seconds to a 30-result page loading in 0.9 seconds decreased traffic and ad revenues by 20% (Linden 2006). [source]

One percent may not sound like a lot; however, when you consider how much business Amazon does every hour, every day, a one percent revenue loss is significant. The same can be said for smaller businesses or ‘mom n’ pop’ shops.

Building Customer Loyalty & Trust

According to Kissmetrics, nearly 50% of consumers expect a webpage to load in two seconds or less. Putting this into perspective, if an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year. [source]

In the time it takes your website to load (slowly), your would-be customer has already clicked off and found another online retailer to do business with. The impact of slow page load times that fail to meet customer expectations is far reaching. Not only can it create a lack of trust and loyalty; it can actually sully your brand and brandish your business as being unreliable.

Anatomy of a Webpage

website loading spinnerFiguring out why your webpage/website isn’t loading as fast as you’d like is a matter of thinking through the different components that make up your website. Each webpage is made up of the following:

  • 63% images
  • 16% javascripts
  • 3% HTML
  • 3% CSS
  • 16% other

If your website is loading slowly, it’s likely due to the fact that there is a large amount of content on the site, and that content isn’t structured properly. This is an important point to note as there are countless websites made up of thousands of webpages that function smoothly and load without issues.

How do you make a website faster? 5 Steps

So, how do you go about making your website faster? Consider the following tips [source]:

Make Your Website Faster By:

#1 – Optimizing Images

At 63 percent, images take up a huge chunk of room on most websites. Make sure you reduce the image file size before saving it or uploading it to your website. Photoshop, for example, has a “save for web” option to help you automatically reduce the file size. Otherwise, if you upload an image at its regular full size, the browser has to work hard to resize that image (hence the delays in page load time). There are also other online programs out there to help you reduce image file sizes.

#2 – Minifying Your Assets

Minifying your assets refers to the act of condensing the CSS code, which makes it quicker for web browsers to read the data on your website. This is a great thing as browsers will read the code with less gaps, which will help speed up the page load time. There are also plugins available to help you do this.

#3 – Combining Assets

Combining assets refers to the act of combining multiple files with a single file for CSS & JavaScript. Doing this will reduce the amount of times your computer needs to request and send data to from your a server to other devices.

#4 – Updating Your Web Browser

Technology moves fast, and it is important to keep up! One of the simplest things you can do is make sure that your web browser is up to date. There are various plugin available to help you out with this, and it is recommended that you let an experienced web developer handle this sort of update. On the plus side, an updated web browser can significantly improve site performance, and more.

#5 – Caching Your Website

When an individual web user visits your website, “caching” is what allows the visitor’s web browser to remember what files were used, and it will pull these files locally onto the user’s screen (versus having to make individual trips to the web server).

10 Tips for Social Media Success

by USDAgov on flickr ccToday, it makes sense to be involved on social media. The key to being successful with social media, however, is determining which social media channel makes the most sense for your brand/business, and coming up with a plan of action to better engage your target audience.

Marketing Your Brand via Social Media

Getting started in social media can seem overwhelming for some businesses because there are so many different social media sites available, and each one takes a considerable amount of time to set up, and manage on an ongoing basis. One of the rookie mistakes that many businesses make is setting up a profile on every single social media channel. Take a look at the following list of social media tips to help you better engage your audience.

10 Tips for Better Social Media Engagement

#1 – Listen.

Before you determine where to spend your time on social media, spend some time listening to what others are saying about you and about your industry. Where do you hear or observe the most conversations? This is where you need to be focused.

#2 – Engage.

A common mistake that many marketers make is trying to go for the hard sell immediately. This only turns customers off. Instead, focus on engaging them. Find common interests, tell your story, figure out how to relate to them on their level. Social selling focuses on just this. Eventually, you’ll find the right opportunity to introduce a service or product that your business offers

#3 – Post Quality Content.

Content will always rule the roost. Once you’ve listened to your customers needs, you can use that to build relevant, engaging content. Content should be: useful, informative, and shareable. Things to consider include: length of content, visual stimuli (images), and easy access to share (ex: social buttons).

#4 – Have a Plan.

Fail to plan. Plan to fail. Consider how you plan to produce your content, what mediums you’ll use, how often you’ll post it, and what niches you’ll target. Then, sit down and come up with a social media calendar, and be sure to include any editorial content, such as blog posts, press releases, and new landing pages. Share this with your team, and delegate responsibilities (if need be) so that you know who is posting what to where.

#5 – Don’t rush things.

Like most things done well, it will take time for things to come together. BE PATIENT. Set realistic expectations for your business, and recognize that true success is (and should be) a long term goal.

#6 – Find Influencers.

Determine who the influencers are in your niche. Look at how their social media is set up, listen to what they are saying and who they are saying it to. Take notes. Figure out what they are doing and how you can apply it to your own social media plan(s).

#7 – Create Value.

People love to buy, but they hate being sold to. So, how do you sell others on your brand or business model? Create value that they simply can’t pass up on. This goes back to quality content, listening to what people are saying, determining what the possible needs are, and figuring out how your business/brand can solve their problem(s).

#8 – Acknowledge Others.

Success isn’t built by one person. Rather, it is the result of multiple people coming together to provide a solution. As you craft and implement your social media strategy, don’t be shy about acknowledging others. Building relationships is what social media is about, and part of social media marketing success is reaching back out to those who have reached out to you.

#9 – Be Accessible & Responsive.

It’s easy enough to create content, publish it, and then leave it alone. Instead, you should be on the ball – using your social media content calendar to stay on top of the latest news, posts, and other publications to your website. People have short attention spans nowadays, and it is more important than ever to create content that people care about and that you’re available to help foster discussions about. *Hint* Don’t publish content and then drop off the face of the earth for a month!

#10 – Focus Your Efforts.

By now, you already know who your target audience is, what sorts of questions they have, and where they spend the majority of their time online. Next steps: Focus your efforts by spending your time where your audience spends their time online.

Ex: If you find that most of your customers are on LinkedIn, perhaps you can field answers or offer a professional opinion in response to questions that you’ve seen asked. As an alternative, you can also create content around common questions or problems related to your industry, and then share this content on social media channels that your customers use the most.

Data Security in the Digital Age: Risks vs Rewards

How does your company define risk?

In 2014 alone, breaches at just five companies affected 229 million people.

In 2014, the fifth annual “Cost of Cyber Crime Study” found that, over the year, the average cost of U.S. corporate cyber crime climbed by more than 9 percent, to $12,700,000. In 2015, that number increased 19% to $15.5 million.

by NEC Corporation of America on flickr cc

Data Breaches on the Rise for Businesses

The increasing prevalence of widespread data breaches has many business owners re-thinking their data security and trying to figure out ways to make data breach response plans a priority, whereas they hadn’t in the past.

According to the 2015 Second Annual Data Breach Industry Forecast, published by Experian:

“The risk of experiencing a data breach is higher than ever with almost half of organizations suffering at least one security incident in the last 12 months. To address this, 48 percent of organizations increased investments in security technologies in the same timeframe, and 73 percent acknowledged the likelihood of a breach by developing a data breach response plan.”

The increased risk of data breaches affect businesses, both big and small, and the effects can be devastating – not only for the business involved, but for those whom the business serves.

11 Cyber Crime Facts & Figures Worth Noting

According to the Ponemon Institute’s 2015 Cost of Cyber Crime Study:

  1. Cyber crimes are still on the rise.
  2. by Nick Papakyriazis on flickr ccCyber crime cost varies by organizational size.
  3. All industries fall victim to cybercrime, but to different degrees.
  4. Most cyber crimes are caused by malicious insiders, denial of services, and web-based attacks.
  5. Cyber attacks can be costly if not resolved quickly. (avg. resolution period is 46 days at a rate of $21,155/day)
  6. Business disruption represents the highest external cost, followed by the costs associated with information loss.
  7. Detection is the most costly internal activity, followed by recovery. (accounts for 53 percent of total internal activity costs)
  8. Activities related to IT security receive the highest budget allocation.
  9. Deployment of security intelligence systems makes a difference. (Security intelligence systems are efficient in detecting and containing cyber attacks, saving companies $1.9 million)
  10. Companies deploying security intelligence systems experienced a substantially higher ROI (23%) than others.
  11. Deployment of enterprise security governance practices moderates the cost of cyber crime.

Safeguarding Your Business’ Personal Information

By safeguarding your business’ personal information, you protect your brand, affiliates, and customers. Failing to put some form of data breach prevention in place runs you the risk of losing customers, brand trust, reputation, and revenue. Take the following example of Sony:

Case Study: Sony

Sony is know for producing high quality electronic products. In April 2011, Sony experienced a massive breach of its PlayStation Network, followed by successive breaches to its online entertainment division.

The result? More than 100 million customer records were lost, and several Sony business operations were forced to shut down in a matter of weeks. Adding to the fallout, Sony’s image was sullied, and the company received tons of negative press.

While Sony apologized and accepted responsibility for the data breach, the public’s general perception of Sony was that data security was more of an afterthought; it was something that Sony hadn’t taken seriously.

Failure to ensure that their customers’ information was safe led both a loss of reputation as well as a loss of trust. 

[source]

Shifting Accountability to Reap Rewards

We live in a data-driven society where information is exchanged online in a matter of seconds. This is beneficial for businesses, but as we have seen, you often assume risk with reward.

By shifting accountability and increasing scrutiny, business leaders can work together to prevent data breaches from occurring – or, at a minimum, they can offer faster, more effective solutions/responses if a breach occurs.

Facebook Advertising for Dentists – Choosing the Right Messaging

When you hire an Internet marketing agency to do web marketing for your dental practice, they should be aware of what level of discretion to use and how to present your dental practice in the most favorable light to current customers and prospects.

Facebook advertising, when done correctly, can be an asset to most dental practices, especially when it is part of a more comprehensive online marketing plan. Below, we take a look at an example of what NOT to do when it comes to Facebook advertising for dental practices.

Dental Web Marketing - Advertisement

Facebook Ads for Dentists: Why It Works, Why It Doesn’t Work

It is estimated that 75 percent of US adults experience some degree of dental fear, ranging from mild to severe. This can be caused by a poor experience, hearing about someone else’s poor dental experience, mass media, or a general lack of control and/or helplessness when in the dentist chair. It is no wonder that many people have some apprehension about seeing a dentist!

The above ad only acts to reinforce this notion of odontophobia by using an image of a Dental Implant that is about to be drilled into the gum line. This image is barely acceptable for any type of targeting and/or advertising in which you are trying to present dentists in a favorable light. Instead, the image likely scares away prospective clients who don’t know what a dental implant is, and it may even induce a sense of trepidation among those who are aware about dental implants and who, normally, don’t have an issue with seeing a dentist. We would NOT recommend it.

At Look to the Right, we have helped dental practices create successful Facebook advertising to reach their consumers. We take the time to get to know your dental practice. More importantly, we have experience working with clients in the dental industry and are sensitive to the messaging that needs to go into Facebook advertising to produce the best results.

Dental Practices Can Increase Reach with Facebook Ads

Facebook Boosted Posts are a relatively inexpensive way to create an impact for dental web marketing. You can choose your budget, spending as little or as much as you want. You also have the flexibility to choose how long you want to boost your post. Facebook boosted posts are automatically boosted for one full day. However, you can select up to 7 days.

Facebook ads and boosted posts are relatively simple to set up, and the ads offer you the ability to target specific demographic groups based on criteria such as: interest, age, location, income, etc. Because of this, your dental practice is better able to reach those who have interests and behaviors that are consistent with your ideal type of patient.

As a busy owner of a dental practice, there is often little time in the day left to successfully manage the details of an online marketing campaign. At LTTR, we are experts in Social media management and all other aspects of online marketing. We’ll work with you to make sure that your overall marketing goals are aligned with your Facebook Advertising.

by Joe The Goat Farmer on flickr cc

What Makes a Facebook Ad Campaign Successful?

There are different aspects of a Facebook campaign. The following are four key areas to focus on when creating Facebook ads for your dental practice:

#1 – Planning

In the planning phase, you determine what the goal(s) of your Facebook Advertisement(s) will be. Example: You want to create Facebook ads that focus on sedation dentistry to help acquire new sedation dentistry clients.

#2 – Budget

Facebook is flexible when it comes to budgets. You determine how much to spend!

#3 – Testing

If it is your first time running a Facebook ad for your dental practice, we may recommend doing some A/B testing to see which ad does better under a certain set of criteria.

#4 – Optimization

Once you have an idea of your Facebook advertising goals, budget, and messaging, it is time to optimize your ads by creating a unique story that people will not only want to click on; they’ll want to share it.

For additional information about Facebook advertising for dental practices, contact Look to the Right today by calling (919) 926-8733, or fill out our simple form below.