Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Furniture Dealers: How and Why You Should Get Started on Pinterest

While Pinterest doesn’t have the brand equity of Facebook or Twitter, this site is an ideal fit for independent furniture dealers looking to expand their social media footprint. Pinterest is one of the fastest growing networks in the social media universe, growing from just under 50 million users in February of 2013 to over 70 million in July 2013. As opposed to Facebook’s social leanings and Twitter’s orientation toward news-related events, this growing network is basically built for businesses, with a catalogue-style format that visitors peruse in search of product images, pricing, and to learn where items can be purchased. In fact, Pinterest is considered to be on the leading edge of the next wave in social media; social shopping.

Here are three easy steps any furniture dealer can take now to get started:

1) Set up a business account – A basic account will likely suffice but building a business page will separate your offerings from individual sellers and hobbyists by displaying a professional interface that can be tailored to work with the style of your business’ website.
2) Allow “pinning” on your website – Image centric, furniture-based websites are ideal for “pinning”, which is basically a sharing utility that embeds pictures from your website on the boards of Pinterest users. Each image that is pinned to a Pinterest board will have a link back to your website.
3) Start building your Pinterest following – The fastest way to build an audience on any network, including Pinterest, is to actively engage with other community members. These engagements can be in the form of comments, pins, and sharing on other social media networks.
     
Pinterest may not get talked about as much as some of the other massive social networks, but for independent furniture dealers it could be the most profitable social media site. Additionally, the site’s focus on shopping makes for a more direct path to sales, as opposed to navigating the social protocols of the larger networks.

Friday, October 4, 2013

CRM for Electronics Dealers: 3 Benefits of an Optimized CRM System

Many electronics dealers, when strategizing on growing their revenues, will focus almost entirely on bringing new people into the store while spending little time and effort in the retention of their existing customer base. This concentration of resources on client acquisition, according to a variety of studies and statistics, ignores the value of the customers who have already made purchases from the store as well as the benefits of retaining them as repeat customers via the implementation of an optimized customer relationship management (CRM) system. These benefits include:
  • A holistic view of each customer’s interactions with the business – Having a system that aggregates information on each customer can reveal product and brand preferences, which can provide opportunities to communicate with customers in a more specific manner. For example, a customer who has a history of upgrading TVs offered by a specific brand can be advised of the next upgrade and when it will be available in the store.
  • More efficient marketing – A CRM system can be used to develop sub-categories of customers with similar purchasing histories, thus allowing the business to market specific products to groups who have already demonstrated an affinity for them. This is a far more efficient practice than marketing to untargeted groups where individuals have already signaled their preference for different brands or are unfamiliar with the products in the campaign.
  • The building of a loyal customer base – Customers who receive communications that are tailored to their interests, rather than generic advertisements, will develop a perception that the business “gets” them, and will hold that business in higher regard than one that is focused on just selling them something.
An optimized customer relationship management system can deliver a variety of benefits for electronic dealers with perhaps the most important one being the opportunity to know what their customers want. This knowledge can then lead to efficient marketing campaigns, higher conversion ratios, and brand building.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Is Facebook’s Move Toward Hashtags Good for Businesses?

If you're already using Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or Tumblr, hashtags are just part of navigating from one public topic to another. Facebook, which has made a mantra of its mission to bring offline friendships to the web, with official “friending” requiring approval from both sides of the relationship, has now announced that it too will incorporate hashtags in a move that can change a discussion previously limited to friends on the network to one that invites the public to join in as well.

For individuals, the move to conversations linked to hashtags brings the potential intimidation of engaging in conversation with a more public and potentially less friendly audience. For businesses, on the other hand, the potential for public participation in searchable hashtags can expand the reach of published posts from friends/fans/etc. to a public audience that is exponentially larger.

The objectives behind the move to hashtags are two-fold; to move into Twitter’s turf as a resource for unfolding news events and to build a footprint in the “interest network” space occupied by the likes of Pinterest, Instagram, Thumb, Tumblr, etc. In both of these types of networks, organization and functionality is centered on a topic or interest as opposed to a network of friends, as is currently the case on Facebook. Facebook will incorporate the new hashtag tool in the search bar, which will enable the viewing of and participation in posts on Facebook and other social networks where the same hashtags are active.

While not the primary driver of the move to hashtags, businesses on Facebook will derive numerous benefits from the move by expanding their reach and growing their audience by incorporating their high value keywords into Facebook’s hashtag system.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Habitual Search Engine Optimization

A common misunderstanding regarding search engine optimization is that doing it once is going to suffice and high page rankings will automatically follow. The reality is that SEO is an ongoing process that requires constant testing, man-hours, and analysis in order to provide the best results possible. The countless moving parts of SEO also require monitoring due to the changes in the search engine landscape and how they might apply to both you and your competition.

This is habitual search engine optimization and it requires constant attention to provide consistently superior results. The margin of keyword battles that have been won consistently and decisively may narrow. New search engines like Microsoft’s “Bing” get introduced. You add a new and unique product that can’t be optimized with the keywords you’re using currently.

* Analysis – Analysis of keywords and phrases is the foundation of successful search engine optimization. Focusing time and money on winnable searches versus highly competitive ones will prove to be more cost effective and result in a much higher return on investment. High rankings on search engine results pages from going after less competitive keywords will also occur much faster.
* Research – It’s imperative to stay current with what is working in search engine optimization. Knowing how Bing is different from Google for instance, can give you an advantage over competitors and access to new visitors. Another dynamic area is social media. Knowing how and where to maximize your optimization efforts can be the difference between success and failure. Only by doing some advance research will you be able to tell which platform will deliver optimal results as the difference in user demographics varies widely between MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.
* Tweaking - Google provides a ton of free data. They have tools available that will tell you what keywords you are ranking for, which keywords are driving traffic to your site and which ones aren’t, which pages have been indexed, where inbound links are coming from, and where the problems are on your site. Watching for shifts in keyword tendencies, making adjustments, and making sure your site is maintained can make a huge difference in driving both new and repeat traffic to your site.
* Testing – Test everything you do in your search engine optimization efforts. What was working at one point may not always work but you won’t know it unless you’re constantly testing results. Trends may go the other way as well, where terms that haven’t tested well previously start yielding traffic and conversions as a result of higher visibility and branding efforts. Testing to see where visitors are bouncing off of the site can provide intelligence on weak areas of the site and determine where fixes are needed to make the site stickier. Additionally, testing allows the website owner to know what’s working and to concentrate resources on those areas.

Search engine optimization requires constant attention to provide consistently superior results. Only by making SEO a habitual practice can a website owner maximize efforts, resources, and outcomes to keep traffic and conversions growing quarter to quarter. In many cases, the work required for habitual SEO can be too prohibitive to be done properly in-house. The Gervais Group specializes in all the areas of habitual search engine optimization, generating superior results on a consistent basis. Call us today at 770-529-2262 or visit Gervais Group at http://www.gervaisgroupllc.com

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Beyond Written Content


Keeping up with innovations in the alternatives to written content could be considered a full time job as website visits evolve from simple information gathering missions to full blown multimedia experiences. While the options have expanded dramatically, the ultimate purpose of any form of optimized content is to bring the visitor to the site and then keep the visitor interested while they move through the conversion process. That process may allow for one or multiple visits prior to the purchase of goods and/or services. Either way, the content must both engage the visitor and play a role in the conversion process. Going beyond written content can include any of the following:
* Videos
* RSS Feeds
* Webinars
* Live Chat
* Interactive Features
* Flash (Now that Google/Adobe are working to make it readable by crawlers)
Standing out from the competition has become much tougher as more businesses come online each day. Many of these businesses have a good grasp of what is entailed in winning keyword searches and driving traffic to their sites. If that knowledge base isn’t available in-house, or if there aren’t enough resources to execute a strategy successfully it can be outsourced to experienced web design and search engine optimization agencies.
Often the difference between businesses that succeed or fail on the web is their commitment to the execution of their strategy. A clear strategy, with measurable results and defined benchmarks is a great start toward running a successful operation on the internet. Any strategy will fall down when shortcuts start getting taken, distractions pull the plan off course, or patience is lost while the strategy is in its early stages.
With increasingly high expectations from visitors and an intensifying competitive landscape, websites require more attention, testing, and analysis to see that they are providing optimal results. It is at the web pages themselves where conversions occur and information is collected for future marketing efforts. Ultimately, those pages and content placed on them will determine the level of success of any online business.    
To determine what types of content will work best on your website; call The Gervais Group at 800-381-9358 


Call us today at 800-381-9358 or visit Gervais Group at http://www.gervaisgroupllc.com

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Staying Out of Bad Neighborhoods


Part of the competition that exists for high rankings on search engine results pages includes web site owners and webmasters that are willing to cut corners and manipulate the search engines to reach their objectives. Defined as black hat techniques, these practices are targeted by the search engines and penalized when discovered. The penalties range in severity from demotion of a ranking to the stock market equivalent of a de-listing where the site is taken out of the search engines’ index.
Unfortunately, the spiders that crawl websites cannot delineate between the intentional and accidental implementation of practices that cross the line into perceived manipulation. One of those manipulative practices is the linking of a website into what Google refers as “bad neighborhoods”. These bad neighborhoods/websites are typically spammers or link farms that may be tempting due to the traffic they tend to generate. These spam sights started popping up after Google incorporated link popularity into its algorithm to count links as “votes” from relevant sites toward ranking websites.
With the weight given to link popularity, it is now one of the main focal points for search engine marketing. Well aware of the practice, Google and the rest of the search engines will penalize a site if it is deemed that the site is linking to a “bad neighborhood”. Google is pretty clear on this in their guidelines saying, “Don't participate in link schemes designed to increase your site's ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or "bad neighborhoods" on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.” Fortunately, this guilt by association only goes so far. Sites are not penalized for inbound links from these same neighborhoods.
It can be difficult to determine whether a site or blogger you may want to link to has been penalized by the search engines at a glance but a download of the Google toolbar can reveal a site’s PageRank and whether it’s been removed from their index. On the toolbar, the sliding scale will show whether a site is indexed by the presence of a green bar which measures the site’s PageRank. Even the tiniest sliver of green in the scale means that the site is indexed and not on Google’s hit list.
The absence of any green in the scale is not irrefutable evidence that the site has been penalized but linking to it is going to represent more risk than reward for your site. The likelihood that this type of site has been penalized is much greater, however, and linking to it should be avoided.
Everyone has wandered into a bad neighborhood by accident at one time or another, and Google realizes that the same thing can happen on the internet. In another quote from their guidelines they state, “Also, be assured that we’re not looking to penalize folks for a ‘bad’ link here and there. Rather, our algorithms are tuned to look for patterns of ‘egregious’ linking behavior - both on individual sites and in the aggregate.”
The occasional mis-step is going to happen but, as in life, being aware of the areas that can be troublesome can keep you out of trouble and save you a lot of grief. The same can be said about the bad neighborhoods on the internet.


There is no need to be afraid of linking to sites whose scale shows only a tiny sliver of green on their scale. These sites have not been penalized, and their links may grow in value and popularity. However, do make sure that you closely monitor these kind of links to ascertain that at some point they do not sustain a penalty once you have linked up to them from your links page.
Call us today at 770-529-2262 or visit Gervais Group at http://www.gervaisgroupllc.com

Friday, April 5, 2013

Avoiding SEO Rip off’s


It’s a familiar story. A business owner gets a website built and, knowing he needs to drive traffic to the site to make it worthwhile, starts shopping for a company to do some search engine optimization. The bids that come in vary so much in price it’s like comparing apples and oranges. One of the biggest differences between the companies bidding for the owner’s business is that the ones with bids ranging from $100 to $200 all guarantee a page one ranking on Google, Yahoo, MSN, and the rest of the search engines in a matter of weeks. The bids that come in at $2,000 per month and above don’t come with any guarantees. Instead of guarantees, these companies give an estimate of hours doing link work, writing content, and doing press releases. “It’s a process, it can be done, and we’ll do all the necessary work to get you on page one”, goes the pitch. To make things even more confusing, the higher bids are more conservative about how long it will take to get to page one than the cheaper guys.

The business owner goes with the guarantees and low price of the cheapest bid. In real life, a nephew, a friend at the lodge, or his wife’s friend’s son just out of college can be substituted in place of the cheapest bid. At this point there are three possible outcomes for the endeavor:

1) Nothing – Either the winning bidder doesn’t have the wherewithal to deliver on the guarantees made or he does but ends up with a bigger, more lucrative project that takes most of his time. After dedicating long hours to the design, marketing, or whatever else the bigger project entails, there is just not enough time or energy to do what needs to be done on the smaller project. Both paths lead to the same destination; frustration, money spent, and no traffic to the site.
2) Something, but it’s not good – Trying to optimize a site by taking shortcuts and trying to trick the  search engines is one way to offer a labor intensive service for pennies on the dollar. Unfortunately, search engines are very good at detecting shortcuts and trickery and don’t take very kindly to either practice. “Black Hat” techniques, as they’re called, may be the only way to deliver on a guarantee for these types of companies but it also results in the site being black-balled from the search engines. The business owner is now put in a position where he has to shut down the original site and start from scratch with a new site.
3) The Business Owner Decides That Search Engine Optimization Doesn’t Work – Getting ripped- off with no results or getting them and then getting penalized for it, quite frankly, sucks. The bad experience convinces the owner that SEO simply doesn’t work and if there is going to be another website it will be one that people can find when they see its address on his business card.

This is a story that gets repeated on a daily basis which is unfortunate because search engine optimization/marketing, when done properly, can do exactly what it’s supposed to do. Doing it properly takes experience, creativity, and time. How much of each depends on the size of the market the business plans to address and how much existing competition there is in that market. A company in the business of supplying side view mirrors for ’55 T-Birds, for example, will require less search engine optimization/marketing than a company trying to get on page one for cell phone accessories.

Prior to starting a project, a responsible SEO firm will be able to determine keyword traffic, competition, and whether doing search engine optimization/marketing makes sense for the company. A viable project may take 100 hours of work to get started and 100 hours of work per month to achieve the desired end result of getting listed on the front page of the search engines. That works out to about $2 per hour for the guys bidding $200 per month for your project. As the saying goes, “If it seems too good to be true…”  
 

Algorithm Changes and Over-optimized Websites


As Google continues the follow-through on its mission to surface the sites that deliver the highest value information to its users, the king of search engines appears to be increasingly focused on penalizing sites that are over-optimized. There are several web design characteristics that can factor into a determination that a site has been over-optimized. If your site has any of the following, decreasing the optimization of your site may help to avoid being penalized and either preserve or improve its rankings on the search engine results pages (SERPs):

Titles that are so heavy with keywords that they don’t make sense – Increased sophistication at the search engine level means that stuffing titles with keywords will probably work against you. Instead, compose your titles so that they read logically for the people that visit your page and convey what the page is about.
Cramming footers with links – These types of links were once used in web design to score in search engine algorithms but not any more. Search engines now see this practice as designed to manipulate, which doesn’t make them happy at all. Instead, only put links in footers that will add value for visitors.
Useless content blocks – These keyword stuffed blocks are stuck on site pages to increase keyword density, adding nothing to the user experience. Instead, produce content for your site that is relevant to your related keywords and adds value for your visitors.
Links from farms and low-ranked non-relevant sites – It used to be “The more, the merrier” with backlinks, but no longer. As a caveat, losing these links will take a lot of work but it will be worth it. Instead, seek to build links selectively from relevant sources and authority sites.

The risk/reward ratios of all these practices are now heavily skewed toward the risk side of the equation as search engines target and penalize sites that use them. The second issue is that recovering from the penalties that are incurred can be a long and arduous path. With no upside potential and a very real possibility of disappearing from the SERPs these over-optimization practices no longer belong on your website. For more information on web design that aligns with the objectives of the search engines, visit: http://www.gervaisgroupllc.com/

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Brief Glossary of SEO Terms That Will get Your Website in Trouble


Search engine optimization and search engine marketing, when properly and ethically done, can yield spectacular results for companies that want to have a presence, build a brand, and generate revenues on the web. Much like any competition, there are no short-cuts to long lasting success in either search engine optimization or marketing. Still, shortcuts and tricks are often offered by companies promising guaranteed results at a cost of pennies on the dollar. Being a relatively new industry, there is much that is misunderstood about both the practice of and terminology surrounding SEO and SEM. What follows is a list of the kind of shortcuts and tricks that can backfire on a website, incurring penalties and/or landing it on a permanent blacklist.

* Black Hat Techniques – Black hat SEO is the catch-all phrase used to describe a variety of tricks and shortcuts that are considered unethical by the SEO community and the search engines. Use of these techniques can be tempting because of their lower costs and the fact that they can work temporarily. Basically considered a short sighted solution to a long term problem, these techniques will ultimately hurt the ranking of a website at best, with the worst case being that the website gets banned or blacklisted by search engines.
* Cloaking – A bait and switch technique designed to fool search engine crawlers. This tactic has a site’s server feed keyword rich content to the crawlers but if a visitor clicks on the link he will see completely different content.
* Doorway Page – A doorway page is meant to trick the search engines into thinking that a page is rich in relevant keyword content. These pages typically contain only keywords and are therefore useless for visitors.
* Hidden Text – Relevant or keyword rich content that is programmed into the html code which is invisible to the reader but will be picked up by search engine crawlers.
* Keyword Stuffing – Just like it sounds, the practice involves cramming as many keywords into the text as possible to increase the page ranking. Readers know keyword stuffing when they see it because of the blatant repetition of the same terms throughout the copy on a page. Keywords can also be stuffed in comment tags, alt tags, and in hidden text on the pages of the abusing site.

These are but a few of the unethical practices which describe black hat SEO techniques. The search engines are very aware of “search engine spam” techniques and are always on the lookout for them. Getting caught using them is costly both in terms of rebuilding a site that has been banned, and from the lost sales opportunities as a result of getting tossed out of the search engines. Also hurt in that type of situation would be any branding efforts involving the offending website. Building and marketing websites can be extremely lucrative over the long term when done correctly. Trying to cut corners using black hat techniques is a sure way to turn a short term problem into a long term quagmire.   Contact The Gervais Group today at 770-529-2262 or visit us at www.gervaisgroupllc.com

Monday, March 18, 2013

Converting Your Visitors with Search Engine Optimization


Search engine optimization, especially when integrated with aggressive search engine marketing, can send thousands of targeted visitors searching for information on, or seeking to buy products and services from, your website. Getting visitors to your website, however, is only half the battle. As successful as your SEO/SEM efforts may be in driving traffic to your site, you still have only three to seven seconds to keep those visitors from clicking away from your site and continuing their search.

Getting your visitors to stay on your site then becomes the key to achieving a conversion whether that means leaving contact information, requesting more information, or making a purchase. It all starts with making sure that when the visitor lands on the associated page they immediately receive information that tells them they have found what they’re looking for. This can be accomplished with a headline directly related to the original keyword used in the visitor’s search. As in any advertising campaign, that headline’s purpose is to keep the visitor reading the next lines of the content your search engine optimization company has placed below the headline.

The next lines of content should contain information on both the problem your visitor is trying to solve and the solution to that problem, naturally available through your website. The problem/solution relationship should address the subliminal needs behind a typical purchase:

The possibility to make or save money
Saving time
Greater convenience
Pleasure
Self-esteem, enhancement, or improvement

Similar to the headline, this aspect draws visitors further into the site and encourages them to continue to follow the conversion process. Be sure to provide a link to additional product or service details to more fully describe the benefits the buyer will receive as well as to provide links to technical information such as “how it works” and “why you need this”.

Concurrent with the sales process, the site should be working to develop the trust of the potential consumer. Providing information as an authority on the subject and delivering it in a clear and concise manner is great start. Adding proof in the form of testimonials, reviews, galleries, and money back guarantees should follow directly.

The “call to action” is where, after establishing authority, trust, and superior product/services, the visitors are encouraged to do one of the following:

Make a purchase at the site – Ideal for an easy to describe product service where person to person contact is not necessary. The shopping cart process should be easy to navigate and understand with clear terms, conditions, and guarantees. Offering secure transactions is a must.
Make a purchase or get more information via phone – Make sure your phone number is visible on every page.
Leave contact information – Maker your form interactive and easy to submit. Assure the visitors that their email is secure and that they will not be spammed if they provide it.
Set up a consultation – For complex or customized products and services an initial consultation may be required. Be sure to display your phone number and to respond quickly if the request comes in via email.
Sign up or subscribe to a newsletter – Use auto responders to get the information to your consumer as quickly as possible. Be sure to include the same conversion process in your e-newsletter as you have on your site.

Buy knowing your product/service, an SEO company will tailor the onsite conversion process toward the most relevant mode for your visitors. Financial services, for instance, would be highly unlikely to need a shopping cart for conversion while a financial information product may be perfectly suitable for one. By providing your visitors with the product/service they’re looking for, being seen as an authority on the subject, and providing a simple means of conversion, your website will do what you always intended it to do; grow your sales.

Call us today at 770-529-2262 or visit Gervais Group at http://www.gervaisgroupllc.com

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Where is Everyone Going? Changing your Website to Reduce your Bounce Rate

As the quest for instant gratification in search increases, the time it takes for a visitor to make a decision to stay with or leave a site has been reduced to just a few seconds. If the perusal of your landing page doesn’t immediately convey some sort of relevance to the search term which is delivering your visitors, they will bounce off your site, costing you the opportunity to turn them into a buying customer. If your site analytics are showing a high percentage of bounces within seconds, it’s time to make some changes. Here are a few to consider:

* Make sure your landing page immediately shows its relevance to the search term that’s driving visitors to your site. If people are arriving using a search term like “best plasma tv” be sure that the first thing they see on arrival is content related to plasma TV’s.

* Build your landing page so that it has relevance to the search term from top to bottom. This will serve to keep them on the site and increase the likelihood of conversion.  .

* Write your content for your visitors, not the search engines. Providing content that adds value for your visitors will keep them around as well. You do need to optimize page content for the search engines but be sure to balance your content so that your readers get value and the search engines see relevance..

* Start optimizing longer search terms. Using more specific search terms will deliver traffic that is looking for you information and your products.

* Keep your content fresh. Having new content makes your site feel dynamic and will encourage visitors not only to stay around but to return as well.

* Simplify your navigation.  Make navigation clear and simple so that your visitors can get around your site easily. 

Making these changes on your site can make the difference between keeping visitors on your site to purchase your offerings and having them bounce over to your competitors’ sites. The Gervais Group specializes in delivering a great visitor experience for those arriving at your site which can lead to higher conversion rates. For more information, visit www.GervaisGroupLLC.com/ or call (866) 530 7703.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

What to Expect from your Search Engine Optimization Campaign Beyond Rankings and Traffic

Successful search engine optimization campaigns deliver similar benefits regardless of the type of business behind the campaign. While much of the focus put on a campaign is directed at visitor numbers and rankings on the search engine results pages (SERPs), you should expect much more than just high listings and increased traffic to your site. Remember, it’s not the traffic that will make money for your site, it’s the conversions. Successful SEO objectives should be built toward converting traffic and include the “laying the pavement” aspects of getting conversions.

The benefits of the “laying the pavement” process includes 

* Building trust and credibility – Credibility and trust get built through the creation of high quality content both on and off the site. Articles which are seen as adding value and/or solving problems for a target audience are great for building both of these attributes. High rankings on the SERPs also add to the trust and credibility factor.

* Branding – The building of trust and credibility in turn fosters branding efforts. Considering the cost of branding efforts when traditional media ruled the day, the amount of money it now takes to build brand online looks like a steal.

* A better onsite experience for your visitors – Successful onsite SEO caters to the visitor experience by informing them immediately of the relevance of the landing page to their search terms. This experience is a key factor in keeping them on your site. Fast loading, quality content and intuitive navigation are other aspects of a positive visitor experience which enhances trust, credibility, and branding efforts even further.

* An increased rate of conversions – The combination of user trust, site credibility, branding and straightforward navigation will work together to deliver conversions at an increasingly higher rate.
Consistent search engine optimization and analysis of on and off-site metrics should be implemented to continually improve the functionality of the site. This, in turn, will help to improve your conversion ratio on an ongoing basis.

You should expect much more than just traffic and rankings from your search engine optimization company.  For more information on maximizing your SEO efforts, visit: http://gervaisgroupllc.com/ or call (866) 530 7703.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The New World of SEO and Social Media

Social media is here to stay and will continue to evolve in terms of the interaction between consumers and companies. In fact, Google has already disclosed that it looks at social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to help determine ranking positions. Matt Cutts went on to say in the video released at the end of 2010 that not only was Google incorporating social networking sites into their ranking algorithm, but that “Google was also figuring out how to take into account the credibility and authority of the author behind a Tweet or Facebook post.”

What this means for businesses and their SEO efforts is that they will need to ramp up their activity on social media sites to keep up with the changes Google is making in this respect. Further proof from Google lies in their move of social search results from the bottom of the search engine results pages (SERPs) page to the main body of organic search results, yet another signal that having an active social media campaign as a part of SEO efforts is more important than ever.

To this end, businesses need to be consistently producing quality content that social media users are going to want to share and republish. The more effective a company is at reaching out across its social networking assets, the greater the amount of exposure, links, authority status, and ultimately higher rankings on the SERPs.

This is not to say that social media should be the sole focus of a company’s SEO efforts, it’s that social media is taking up a bigger part of search algorithms and cannot be ignored. SEO campaigns still need to operate in diversified channels so that all marketing eggs aren’t placed in one basket. While it’s true that social media will play an increasingly larger role, the traditional aspects of SEO are still getting calculated within the search engines’ algorithms. As before, a diversified approach is still the best way to go in terms of full spectrum SEO.

The rise of social media sites doesn’t change the necessity of building meaningful relationships with consumers. It does make it more personal however. For more information on incorporating social media into your SEO efforts, visit: http://gervaisgroupllc.com/ or call (866) 530 7703. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The On Site Optimization Checklist

As search engines increasingly focus on user experience and their ability to deliver exactly what people are looking for, searchers have become quicker to react when they don’t see immediate relevance for their search terms. This reaction quickness now means that each landing page must clearly and immediately present itself as being relevant and valuable to visitors to keep them on that page and then entice them further into the site. The resulting fact is that well written content that compels visitors toward conversion has never been more important to the success of a site. Follow this check list to ensure that you are delivering what your visitors are looking for:

* Provide consistently fresh content – New content which conveys relevant information to visitors will differentiate your site from your competitors and keep visitors returning to keep abreast of what you’re presenting. Away from the site, fresh content can be instrumental in improving page rankings at the search engines.

* Placing relevant content where it needs to be – Content on the various landing pages of the site must be clearly related to the search terms that brought the visitor there in the first place. Be sure the page content is relevant to what your visitors are searching for or the “back” button will be clicked post haste.

* Time Sensitive Content – Time sensitive content verifies its freshness while providing the opportunity to tie current events to your products and services. This can enhance both credibility and relevance of your site, its products, and its services.

* Laser Targeted Content – Creating content directed only at your target market may seem narrow but the targeted visitors that arrive will find your content to be way more valuable than watered down, generic fluff. Don’t hesitate to offer highly specific and/or technical content as follow-on information after visitors hit the landing page. Conveying expertise in niche areas requires thorough knowledge which will build both credibility and trust. These, in turn, lead to conversions.

* Directional content – On top of everything else, content should guide visitors through the conversion process in as simple a manner as possible. Having calls to action and clearly defined navigation are both mandatory in order to move visitors toward and through the conversion process.   

The importance of written content on your site has never been higher and can be the sole difference between a website’s success and failure. Provide quality content and you’ll have enthusiastic new and return visitors that convert at higher than normal ratios. Ignore it, and the time and money spent driving visitors to your site will be wasted. The Gervais Group specializes in providing relevant and targeted content for websites that generates consistently optimal results. For more information, visit www.GervaisGroupLLC.com or call (770) 529 2262.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Social Media Marketing


Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are quickly replacing traditional means of communication, including email, as the favored way for people to stay in contact with each other. The sites allow for community building efforts in a multiple of ways but the common theme which runs between them is that of implied trust which encourages sharing of opinions, reviews, commentary and the like. The “word of mouth” aspect of this communication is extremely powerful and can be instrumental for a business in its marketing efforts as long as it’s done in a manner that fits in with the “spirit” of the social media sites.




To be seen as a trusted member of these communities, it is imperative that marketing efforts focus on adding value, over the impulse to sell, sell, sell.  Adding value can be done in numerous ways, including the providing of research, engaging in conversation, and responding to questions or requests for more information. As opposed to the methodologies of traditional marketing/advertising campaigns, blatant and unrelenting selling is seen as a huge annoyance in these communities and is generally considered as pure spam.

Participation in social media also presents the opportunity for brand building, again, in a different manner than typically thought of prior to the emergence of these social communities. The opportunity for direct contact with community members allows for a more intimate interface, and can provide a foundation which fosters trust, credibility, and familiarity with a company and its products, all important aspects of brand building. This direct communication can come in the form of providing content, guiding conversation, and the building or protecting brand perception.

One of the largest benefits of successful participation in these social media circles is that marketing, advertising, and brand building can now be done with great cost effectiveness on relatively large scale. The viral nature of these applications enables word to spread far beyond its initial dissemination at never before seen speed. The issue for companies in this arena is that community interface and all other aspects of participation must be done properly, or that viral benefit can quickly become a large and growing problem. For that reason, it’s extremely important to have an experienced social media marketing company on your side. For a free analysis on where your social media efforts should be focused, call The Gervais Group today at (770) 529 2262





    

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Professionals and Amateurs in SEO

The field of search engine optimization is can be divided into three categories; the professional SEO companies, the newcomers, and the do it yourselfers. Each of the levels of expertise can be categorized by skill levels, resources, and experience which translate directly into how successful the end result of an SEO effort will be. Unless directed at a completely un-served micro-niche, any SEO effort will require a defined process, resources, and the skill to see it through to a successful finish.

Here’s look at the three categories and the likely results from each:

* Do it yourselfers – This category is populated with two types of search engine optimization people; those that are on their own for budgetary reasons and those that assume that SEO can be accomplished using their existing skill set. In many cases, those who are operating with limited budgets get better results than the existing skill set group simply because they need to maximize the results for each dollar spent. This group will often use grass roots campaigns to begin developing revenues and then direct some of that income toward outsourcing the work to an SEO company due to affordability and the time commitment required for SEO campaigns.

* Newcomers – The field of search engine optimization draws new people looking to “put out a shingle” on a daily basis. These newcomers are usually small (1 to three employees) operations with skill sets which can vary widely. There are a handful of potential problems in dealing with a newcomer including the lack of any track record, determining their level of expertise, and their daily work load. Regardless of skill level and track record, if a two man operation starts getting busy, current clients will suffer in terms of level of service and SEO activities due to the fact that the company is now spread thin with limited resources and not enough time in the day to do everything.

It’s common in these situations for a newcomer to take on a new, high paying customer who requires putting everything else on the back burner or outsourcing the work of existing clients to an unknown entity.

* Professional SEO companies – Dealing with a reputable SEO company is, by far the best way to ensure a positive outcome for your search engine optimization efforts. These companies always have track records, satisfied clients, and a set protocol for developing SEO strategies, regardless of the type of business. This protocol always starts with keyword research, a step neglected by a high percentage of do it yourselfers and newcomers. The primary goal of the research is to define the keywords which will provide the best return on investment. On and off-site optimization practices are then determined from the results of the initial keyword research and the strategy is put into motion.

With keywords in place, the work then revolves around the labor, time, and resource requirements of implementing a successful strategy. A professional SEO company will always be able to describe the process in detail with realistic goals and objectives. Of the three options, working with a reputable SEO company is usually the most expensive choice, but the ultimate outcome in terms of return on investment, targeted traffic, and conversion ratios are typically much higher.    


Dealing with a reputable search engine optimization company can literally make the difference between success and failure. SEO companies, like the Gervais Group, which can provide past client successes and present search engine results are much more likely to deliver optimal outcomes than those new to the field. For more information, visit www.gervaisgroupllc.com or call (770) 529 2262.  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Link Building for Traffic and Search Engine Rankings

So life really is just a popularity contest? In the world of ranking websites it is, at least to a degree, as far as the search engines go. In this arena the votes come in the form of inbound links and the more links a site gets from other authority sites, the better. Links from other, non-authority” sites can either count for something or may not count at all depending on where they originate.

These inbound links, due to the weight they carry in the algorithms with the search engines, are one of the main focal points of search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. The SEO focus narrows on to the quality over the quantity of links due to the fact that links coming from irrelevant or non-reputable sources will not matter in the eyes of the search engines.   

Here are some of the factors that search engines use to calculate the value of inbound links:

* The credibility, reputation and trustworthiness of the domain from where the link originates - Inbound links from CNN, AOL, MSN, and the like would carry a much higher link value than one coming from a friend’s blog. 

* The relevance of the anchor text to the link – Using one of the search terms that is being search engine optimized as anchor text will score higher than a simple “click here” link.

* Where the link is coming from within the originating website – A link coming from, say CNN’s home page will score much higher than if it comes from a page that few if any people have visited.

* Where the inbound link is located on the originator’s page – An inbound link coming from above the fold will be more valuable than one that is buried at the bottom of a long page.

* The total amount of outbound links from the originating page – The fewer outbound links the better. In theory, this is how the search engines filter out links coming from link farms.

Inbound links to a website are much like votes of confidence or third party endorsements. When these links come from the big boys of the web, the search engines take notice and give credit for it. When the status of the link is high, coming as one of a few from a place of prominence on an authority site, even more credit is given. These are the links SEO’s strive for because a few of them can rank a website on the top pages of the search engines. For more information on how to get the most out of a linking strategy for your business, visit: http://www.gervaisgroupllc.com/.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Giving Your Website What it Needs

If you’re business is online, it’s pretty obvious that you need a website. The thing is, even if your business is done totally offline, you still need a website. Without one, chances are you’re either missing a lot of customers or they’re missing you.

The challenge is that just putting up a site isn’t good enough and the customers you’re missing will likely remain that way. Websites that convert visitors online or drive customers to a physical location (like your store) have several things in common that make them work.

Here are five of them:

1) Develop a strategy to help people find you online – Whether your business is local, national, or global you’ll need an SEO strategy so that people searching for the solution you provide can find you. Optimizing for keywords relevant to your solution that have traffic but less competition is great way to gain traction on search engines quickly.

2) Content that is immediately relevant for your visitors – If, for example, people are finding you using a search term like “kayak tours Alaska” make sure that the page their landing on when they arrive at your site is also immediately recognizable as being about “kayak tours Alaska”. Don’t make them search for what they’re already looking for.

3) Clear navigation – Make getting around the site clear and simple, with navigation tabs that are easy to find. Confusion is a bad thing and visitors react to it quickly by leaving the site, never to return.

4) Clear calls to action – Let your visitors know what you want them to do and make it easy for them to do it. This goes for making a purchase, requesting more information, or going into your physical location.

5) Start a blog – Having a blog on your site allows you put some personality into your site and products while playing a role in your SEO strategy, encouraging conversation and sharing information. It will also give you a venue to provide fresh content, attract some inbound links, and establish yourself as a trusted resource.

6) Local contact Information - A small business can to establish a lot of credibility by including a local address, a local phone number, and other ways to get in touch with your business such as Twitter or Facebook. Highlighting this information let’s people know that they can reach in a number of different ways which goes a long way in establishing your trust and credibility. Local information will also play a huge role from a local search engine optimization standpoint because it gives the search engines important information about where your business is located and the areas or neighborhoods you would most likely draw traffic from.

If you’re just starting out or looking for better performance, The Gervais Group can get your SEO, marketing, and website working at their best. For more information, visit:  http://www.gervaisgroupllc.com/.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Five Ways to SEO Your Way to Consumers Instead of Visitors

Getting traffic to your site is wonderful but visitors who don’t convert into consumers will come and go, leaving nothing behind. For a results-based website, just getting traffic simply isn’t good enough. In fact, a search engine optimization strategy which drives visitors instead of consumers is, at best, delivering a half measure. The key to operating a successful business on the web is the development of an SEO campaign which consistently delivers targeted traffic which, once on the site, converts from visitors to consumers. Here are five keys to getting targeted visitors/consumers to your site.

1) Keyword research – It may sound a little mundane, especially when you’re ready to charge ahead, but finding keywords and phrases that will drive targeted traffic to your site in a cost effective manner will be the foundation on which the rest of your search engine optimization strategy will be built. The determination of “low hanging fruit” keywords versus those which are highly competitive can mean the difference between success and failure of an SEO campaign. This research can be time consuming and may be better executed by an experienced SEO company. Whether you do it yourself or hire out, keyword research must be your first priority when setting the course for your search engine optimization strategy.

2) On-Site Content – The content on your site must first capture visitors to keep them from leaving to continue their search elsewhere. This capture must happen quickly as visitors typically make the decision to stay or go within seven to eight seconds. In this, your content’s relevance to the keywords your visitor used to find you is of utmost importance. Whether they are being sent to a landing page or somewhere else on your site, visitors must be immediately assured that they have found what they are looking for. For example, if one of your search engine optimized keyword is work boots, the page your visitor lands on should have content relevant to work boots placed where it can be seen immediately. A common mistake here is to optimize for work boots and then place the relevant content “below the fold”, out of the sight of visitors unless they scroll down to see it. Many won’t bother, clicking the “back” button never to be seen again. An SEO company will engage in additional on site techniques such as optimizing meta tags and making the site search engine friendly.
    
3) Off-Site Content – This type of content can come in many forms including articles, blogs, and press releases. Off-site content should always be written with your targeted keywords and phrases in mind. As this content can often be the first impression of your business, it should also be engaging, well-written and informative. A high percentage of off-site content should be created with the objective of driving targeted visitors from the article/blog/release back to the site, specifically to a page which is highly relevant to the subject and keywords used in the originating content.

4) Link Building – One way links from both relevant and high page rank sites are considered to be the most important aspect of getting to the front pages of the search engines. Acting as a quasi third party endorsement, these links are heavily weighted in determining a site’s importance and relevance to its associated keywords. Your own off-site content, as mentioned, should created with one way links back to your site as a means of getting these desired traffic drivers but, in competitive situations a link building strategy must also be employed. Link building (ask any SEO company), is highly labor and time intensive. Unless you have endless hours available, outsourcing this activity to an SEO company will definitely yield the best results.

5) Capturing Visitor Information – While not as exciting as capturing a visitor purchase, capturing their contact information and building your own data base will allow for direct communication with those which have been to your site. A great way to encourage visitors to leave their contact information is offer something for free, such as a mini e-book, white paper, or newsletter. With visitor and consumer contact information in hand; you can stay in regular contact with them to build rapport, trust, and credibility. Consistent contact which encourages repeat visits to your site will ultimately result in conversions, usually at a much higher rate than that for new visitors.

The Gervais Group implements successful search engine optimization strategies for companies of all types and sizes. For more information, visit them at www.GervaisGroupLLC.com or call (770) 529 2262.