Internet Marketing | Evolve Digital Labs

Internet marketing, also know as online marketing, is the process of promoting a business or brand and its products or services via digital assets using tools that help drive traffic, leads, and sales.

Internet marketing is a broad term that spans marketing tactics and strategies to include content marketing, email, search, paid media, and social media marketing.

Get on the Map with Geotargeting

Buy local! Support local shops! Boost the economy; shop locally! Not so long ago, it became trendy to give business to local brands, and it’s a progression that we should be proud of. Even the search engines start pulling for the “little guys.” Okay, so maybe their intentions aren’t necessarily to boost business for the mom-and-pop shops, but at least Google makes it easier for them to rank on the first page. It requires some effort, yes,  but with a little on-site proactivity known as geotargeting, you can be owning the map in no time. This blog post covers the importance of geotargeting, as well as the actionable steps you can take to dominate the local search field for your industry. Yeah, we said dominate.

1. Include tons of location-rich content Location-rich content, as you might have guessed, relates to physical location. This includes maps, images, driving directions, reviews, etc. Not only do these elements provide tons of useful information at a glance, they also make a web page more aesthetically pleasing and trustworthy, and send a statement to search engines that reads, “Look at me, I’m local.” Although some of these elements might be image files, and therefore not crawlable, this can be accounted for by using relevant alt tags that include local terms. Alt tags are the text that appears when an image cannot be seen. They give the search engines a pretty good clue about what images are about, when they are keyword relevant of course. 2. Own long-tail keywords Geotargeting is all about just owning relevant long-tail keywords in the SERPs. Locational modifiers put any keyword phrase into the long-tail category, meaning that they are more specific phrases with generally less traffic than their generic counterparts. Owning the results for these phrases isn’t as hard as you might think because keyword difficulty and competition is generally much lower. This is a good thing, as it helps businesses quickly dominate the local atmosphere and bring in more qualified traffic.  Think about it: the more specific a term is that brings traffic to your site, the further down the conversion tunnel they are when they get there. We like that. How long tail you want to get depends on a few different factors. One example is how crowded your industry’s market is at your location. If ranking for your industry in your city is too difficult, either make your location more specific (like to your neighborhood), or be more descriptive about your products/services (e.g. instead of “seo company” try “local seo company”). So here’s how to rank. Use these long-tail keywords throughout your site’s content, especially in important areas like title tags, URLs, and Meta Descriptions. Keep reading friend; we’ll get there. 3. Localize Title Tags Title tags are one of the most important tools that the engines use to determine content relevancy.  Be sure to include the location name in title tags, and put it as close to the first 4 words as possible, because this is where Google puts the most weight. Include product/service keywords next, so that Google ties together your location and your expertise. For example, Evolve’s title tag for our homepage could be something like this: St. Louis - SEO Experts | Evolve Digital Labs. For specific service pages, title tags should be something like: St. Louis a Search Services | Evolve Digital Labs.  Or if we want to get more specific to our area, we could have something like: Downtown St. Louis a Search Services | Evolve Digital Labs. Keep in mind that your primary keyword should be first, so if your company is found more frequently through service queries, switch the keyword phrases around. 4. Localize URLs Search engines also use URL names to determine relevancy. Be sure to include your location somewhere within the URLs of the pages that you are optimizing for local search. As a side note, best practice is to separate words using dashes (-) so that search engines can pull out these useful keywords. This will be demonstrated in the examples below. If you have multiple locations that you are promoting, start with the most general terms for the locations homepage and get more specific to each neighborhood as you go to each location page. For example, let’s say Evolve had multiple locations in St. Louis. The locations homepage URL might be: evolvedigitallabs.com/st-louis-locations. Then for the downtown location, the URL would be: evolvedigitallabs.com/st-louis-locations/downtown-st-louis. For this, it is important to do some keyword research and figure out what people are searching for. You might be surprised what your neighborhood is being called in search queries. 5. Include Local Terms in Meta Descriptions Meta Descriptions might not directly influence rankings, but they definitely have an impact on click-throughs. The words used in the Meta Description that match the words used in search queries are bolded. So, if someone searched “St. Louis SEO” and Evolve used this phrase in our Meta tag, it would stand out and most likely increase clicks.  6. Have a Local Address and Phone Number on Every Page Make sure that every single location page has a local address, city, state, zip code, and phone number, and make sure that this information is crawlable. This effectively shows search engines that any keywords on that page should also be associated with your physical location.  So not only would Evolve likely rank for SEO in St. Louis, but also for reputation management terms, etc. In other words, this is a quick way to improve local rankings for every page.  7. Create, Claim and Optimize Google+ Local Listings In case you haven’t heard, Google Places pages are no more; they have been replaced by Google+ Local pages.  This is a change for sure, but it gives businesses more room to optimize pages (and also more room for failure). If your business had a Google Places page, all the information has just been transferred over.  If you didn’t have a Google Places page, get with it and go make your Google+ Local page! In either case, be sure that you have actually claimed the page so that only you have access and you can make sure all the information is correct. The next step is optimization.  Do this by making sure that your name, address, and phone number are exact copies of how they are listed on your website.  Make sure that relevant keywords are included in your descriptions. Most importantly, make sure that your reviews and Zagat rating on your Google+ page are up to par. If not, get cracking on getting customers to give your positive reviews and rankings. We’ll talk about this a bit later.  8. Add “+1″ Buttons If you haven’t added a Google+ “+1” button to your social media buttons collection, be sure that you do. Obviously, this will help with your social media interaction. But what does this have to do with local search? One reason is that when people conduct searches while logged on to their Google+ accounts, Google ranks pages that have been +1ed by people in their circles at the top. So let’s say you are a St. Louis resident searching arestaurants in St. Louis. If someone in your Google+ network has +1ed a St. Louis restaurant, this will show up at the top of your results. From a company standpoint, you want to be that business that is +1ed by the most local customers. 9. Take Advantage of Local Business Directories Business directories such as Yelp and CitySearch are great resources for bringing in local traffic.  These sites automatically sort results by the searcher’s physical location, another important reason to make sure that your location is readily established. If you are not listed in a business directory and you would like to be, reach out to them and ask; most directories will get back to you because they want to have a thorough list. Be sure to also alert these directories if you are moving locations, or if their information is incorrect. 10. Encourage User Reviews User reviews really do have a big impact not only on brand reputation. More recently, they have started to influence search rankings. In fact, Google+ Local pages give a Zagat rating with each result, which gives you a clue that yes, Google does care what people have to say. Search
engines do not want a badly reviewed site coming up at the top of results. Sure, bad reviews happen, but try to balance them out by requesting reviews from happy customers too. There are lots of ways to do this, whether this is through email, direct mail, or something you personally hand to people when they are leaving your office or location. Give specific directions on which sites you would like them to put their review, which will generally be the ones that could use the most improvement. 11. Be Aware of IP Location, Hosting Location and Top-Level Domain The website’s IP address, hosting location and top-level domain are other areas that give clues to search engines about where a business is located. Make sure that your top-level domain and your hosting locations are both set to the United States. Most always this will already be the case, but if not, you could be ranking in Germany and not the U.S. and you would have no idea. Also, if possible, make sure the site’s IP location matches with the city and state where you are located or where you get the most business. Search engines can see your IP address, and they generally put this into consideration when placing your business in local search. Whew! Did you catch all of that? Geotargeting your website sounds daunting, but by following these steps, you’ll be that much closer to showing up on the map. Try them out and you might be surprised at how easy it can be.

Landing pages lowdown

What makes a good landing page?

This is a question we hear a lot. The term “landing page” has different meanings to different people, but Evolve has a simple understanding of this specific on-site feature. A landing page is the part of your website that a searcher is directed to from the search engine results page. We typically refer to landing pages when we create PPC campaigns because those ads are triggered by very specific keywords, thus condensing the audience of searchers to those who will be likely to click through.

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Site Audit: On-Site Aspects

Site Audit: On-Site Aspects

We’ve mentioned that our Site Audit has three main parts: On-Site Analysis, Competitive Analysis, and Keyword Research. These three reports work together to illuminate significant insight that clients then use to transform their online entities into successful, flourishing destinations. Read more

Get Digital STL

Evolve Digital Labs and Gorilla 76 teamed up to produce Get Digital.

Making the Plan at Get Digital

Derek kicked off the seminar by emphasizing the importance of designating a manageable starting point. We are overwhelmed by the number of digital mediums available. The standards, Twitter, Facebook, and the company blog, are not easy to control all at once. Additionally, it seems that more and more applications, tools, and social media sites are becoming relevant a such as Foursquare, Pinterest, and Google+. How in the world can a brand handle this much work? It’s exhausting and time-consuming.

 

In his presentation, Derek made it clear that you should start with what you can manage. What is the goal of your digital engagement? To increase sales in a particular service or product? To get more traffic to your website? Start with one channel that you can comfortably control. If it’s a blog, focus on that. If your strength is Twitter, condense all social activity to that one platform. Continue with this strategy until you are familiar with the routine and capable of reaching the set goals.

Additionally, if creating content online isn’t easy or natural for you, find the members of your brand who excel at it. Derek mentioned that nearly 50% of young adults between the ages of 18-24 are actively producing content online already. If there are members of your team who fit into this demographic and possess this valuable skill, why not utilize their experience for your brand?

In order to make sure the social involvement is a wise investment and not just hit-or-miss, you must first create a tactical plan. Using the same “one-channel” mindset, start with simple weekly content plans that focus on one area. It sounds cliché, but it’s the truth: brands should opt for baby steps before diving headfirst into social engagement.

 

SEO at Get Digital

After a quick Q&A session, Derek returned to the stage to kick off his Search segment by explaining the difference between “black hat” and “white hat” SEO techniques. It’s simple: “black hat” SEO is quick, easy, and short-lived. “White hat” tactics, however, take more time and effort, but they naturally result in lingering success. Because the former is the easier way out, many SEO “experts” convince their clients to participate in link buying, rather than ranking organically over time. But does that actually work?

Optimization is all about connectivity. By creating content and building activity, your site and brand will grow in awareness, drawing in a greater portion of potential customers. Derek compared how Google views websites to an airplane terminal map. The larger terminals are the ones that have the most activity because they have the most connectivity. Websites are measured exactly the same. When you create awesome content, people will naturally link to your site, revealing to Google your level of influence.

Where do you start with content? Start with keywords, which are essentially the power tools of your website. They connect you with your consumer. Even if you’re not ranking well for every keyword on your list, you can still focus on the few that you are ranking for and aim to refine your success.  It’s important to note, however, that content should truly be for the consumer. They’re the ones who will be digesting it. Don’t write for search engines.

Measuring and Analytics

There is an overwhelming amount of data you can garner from analytics, but in reality, only a small portion of that should be measured. What exactly do we mean by measuring? There are tools available that can capture all kinds of data about your website visitors. Here’s an overview of what you can measure from your site:

  • Referral traffic
  • Organic traffic
  • Performance of on-site content
  • Conversions
  • Even through social channels, you can measure your followers’ level of engagement.
  • Reach (the number of people who are seeing your tweets)
  • Resonance (what type of content are people receptive to?)
  • Network (are you talking to influencers?)
  • Search Engine measurements:
  • Rankings
  • Cost Per Click
  • Cost per lead
  • Visibility

Having access to this information is what makes digital marketing relevant, accurate, and powerful. Sometimes, though, it feels like too much information. How do you know which metrics to monitor and which to ignore (at least for the present)” Quite simply, you just have to define your specific business goals. Once those are clearly outlined, it will be easier to determine which measurements directly apply to your progress.

For example, if your business goal is awareness, it might be worth measuring social shares and Google rankings. Don’t forget to return to your website, though. As beneficial as social media sites are, your website is yours to use however you want (e.g. for measuring opportunity for keywords, content, and influencers). The most important thing to take away from Joe’s presentation is that these online tools, such as Google Analytics, allow you to customize which data they capture and emphasize, providing you with a clearer understanding of how to reach your goals. Digital marketing is so capable because it can yield real-time insights.

PPC at Get Digital

Derek began by explaining that Google’s algorithm, the process by which it sorts and presents results (among other things), is a very complicated one to understand. If you want to use Google AdWords successfully, you have to actually know what you’re getting into. Business owners who start up a campaign in AdWords typically move forward with Google’s pre-defined settings. But is that necessarily what’s best? For example, Derek mentioned that Google might suggest you allow your ads to be shown on mobile devices. Sounds great, right? More spread, larger audience. But what do you think the chance is of someone converting if you don’t even have a mobile version of your site? Slim to nada. Google wants your money, so they’re going to suggest the configuration that works best for them.

Non-believers of PPC haven’t succeeded in the search engine marketing realm. If you can grasp what it takes to harness the available resources and develop a holistic plan, then you will increase your ROI. Paid search allows brands the unique opportunity to reach users that are already interested, and even actively seeking a solution. We like that.

Killer Content

Jon Franko of Gorilla 76 took the stage to discuss the importance of creating and producing killer content online.

Jon started off with a simple question: what is content? What falls under that category? Answer: a lot of things! Quotes, photos, copy, links, audio, and video, to be exact. While it has turned into a bit of a buzzword, content can be summed up as any kind of messaging that you push out a whether on Facebook, a company blog, or even Instagram. Good content is not easy to generate a but Jon suggests that you first take time to simply listen to what is already available. Industry influencers, respected publications - they already generate relevant, useful information. Digest the content they create and then help them promote it. This act alone will increase the value of your presence in the social channels.

Once you start developing your own killer content, you might reach a plateau. It can be difficult to think of blog topics on the spot or throw a decent infographic together. What Jon recommends is to designate a Rip and Reserve folder. This can be a physical one that you keep near your desk or one that resides within your computer. It might even be handy to utilize both. Whenever Jon comes across an interesting idea, article, etc., he adds it to the Rip and Reserve folder so he can revisit later and possibly create something from it. This is a useful concept for organizing and storing inspiration.

Finally, Jon pointed out that arguably the most important part of producing good content is to do so on a consistent basis. If you ever want to become an expert in your industry, or at least accrue some sort of following, you have to produce content regularly. Follow those content calendars!

The show could not be pulled off without the help of a couple of talented and dedicated teams. So thanks from us at Evolve to the folks over at Gorilla 76. We owe the success to those guys and what they bring to this partnership. We could not imagine pulling this off without the dedication from our partners in Get Digital.

Simple Link Building Trends

Simple Link Building Trends

Link building matters.

But where do you start? Well, first we want you to fully grasp the point of link building, which is to direct traffic to your site. This can include Facebook “likes” and shout-outs on Twitter. Read more

Google reminds us they have social search by sharing it with the world and snubs facebook

Google reminds us they have social search by sharing it with the world and snubs facebook

Next week Google is going to roll out their social search integration globally. Some might argue this is in response to Bing’s Facebook integration announced a few days ago.

In the video below, Google takes you through the basic components to the social search results and how it can enhance the experience of search, essentially citing the ability to use your peer network to make better decisions. Read more

YouTube SEO – Can YouTube Channels Really Improve Video SEO Rankings?

Can YouTube Channels Really Improve Video SEO Rankings?

Yes. Using YouTube channels to improve video SEO rankings is a proven method thanks to the incredible popularity of the video-serving platform. It happens to be the largest video site in existence. Something even more impressive than that is the fact that YouTube comes in as the 4th largest website online-period. The art of website SEO is incredibly complex. That being said, the same is true for video SEO. Thanks to the ever-changing algorithms of search engines across the net, there is not necessarily a cut and dry answer for the exact do’s and don’ts of search engine optimization. The question is “what steps have been proven to increase rankings in the recent past?” Below are a few that have worked well for others, myself included:

1. Tags
While search engine algorithms that determine what websites should rank and where are continually changing, one thing remains constant: tags. Tags make up one of the most widely accepted ranking factors out there. Search engines use these tags to determine what the video in question is about and therefore what it is relevant to. Properly tagging the videos on your channel can only help your video to rank better. Of course, keyword stuffing is one thing that absolutely should not be done. Be sure to keep the keywords to a minimum when filling in the tags.

2. Link Building
If the concept of pointing links to your website has worked in the past, why not build links to your YouTube video channel? The more links pointing to your videos, the more relevant they will appear. One major mistake made amongst novices for SEO is the lack of using keywords for the anchor text. Pick two or three keywords you want to rank for and use those to embed the links that point to your video. For example, when pointing a link to a video that talks about satellite television programming, use the term “DISH Network” as the anchor text to embed your link. This tells the search engines that your videos are about DISH Network television programming and aids them in deciding how relevant your videos are to keyword searches for television programming.

3. Less is Just Less
When it comes to building your YouTube channel, it helps to have a lot of content on it. After all, your channel should be set up as an authority on the information it provides. The more information present, the more authoritative the channel appears. Search engines love relevant informational content from a big YouTube channel. YouTube and the content on it receive approximately 100 million visitors on a monthly basis. With the wealth of traffic possibilities available, there is no reason to not incorporate a YouTube channel into your video SEO strategy.  Those who understand how to best optimize their channels will undoubtedly notice an increase in their video SEO rankings.

This entry was written by a guest author. The author’s views below are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of Evolve: The Science of Search