If you’re a new company and you want to thrive in your industry, the first thing you need to get ahold of is your brand identity.

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If you’re a new company and you want to thrive in your industry, the first thing you need to get ahold of is your brand identity. Branding is one of the basic aspects of online marketing, but it’s also one of the most important, if not the most. What do you want your customers to think of when they hear or read your brand online? Most companies and entrepreneurs tend to lose focus on this matter, especially if they are eager to “get by” and make a name for themselves straightaway. Continue reading

Qualities of an Effective Online Marketing Agency: Guide for Business Owners

To give your business a solid online presence, you need the help of an online marketing agency. Research shows that in 91% of small businesses, the CEO also serves as the primary marketer. Playing double roles doesn’t come as a surprise as 96% of these businesses have a staff of five or fewer.

Unfortunately, business owners and managers like you simply do not have enough time to dabble and experiment online. The core business – be it a bakery, carwash, dental clinic, or restaurant – needs you. You need to be running operations. Trying to learn the technical aspects of online marketing and sacrificing time for the business is not worth it.

So why burden yourself when you can leave the technical stuff to an agency, right? Correct! But now, here’s the challenge: how do you choose the right provider for your business? Here’s some helpful advice.

But First, Be Wary of Unrealistic Promises

Internet marketing consultants or companies typically make the same promise to business owners: more traffic, leads, and sales online. What business owner wouldn’t want those results, right? But the question is, can they really deliver? Are they telling the truth, or merely making promises to peddle their services? Just remember, if the promises are too good to be true, they probably are.

It’s easy to plunge into this pitfall as many businesses are in dire need of services, and are assigning these needs to providers. For instance, one research found that 63% of marketers will spend more on content creation this year. That’s how bad they need new content. Meanwhile, 50% will spend more on search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing efforts delegated to agencies.

But while you may badly need these services, remember that falling for “we’ll give you the moon and the stars” type of promises is the biggest pitfall small business owners make when hiring an Internet marketing agency. Be careful when choosing your online marketing provider. After all, that company will represent your business online. If they create a faulty and spammy website, publish irresponsible Facebook status posts, or write articles with terrible grammar, it’s your business that will bear the brunt.

So how do you choose the right online marketing service provider for your business? Here are two qualities you need to look for.

Expertise: Testing and Experience Combined

Unlike major corporations, small and medium-sized businesses have small and medium-sized marketing coffers, too. As an owner, you want to ensure that you will get your money’s worth when entrusting online marketing activities to an agency. And to ensure you get a return on investment, one of the things you should search for in an agency is expertise.

“Expert” level Internet marketing agencies typically possess these characteristics:

  • Carry out research and development
  • Conduct testing
  • Continuously improve services
  • Frontliner in the industry
  • Have sufficient experience

Agencies that are experts in what they do are always on the lookout for new techniques and strategies to help promote your business online. They do not merely rely on previous experiences. They keep on improving services by combining experience and results of new tests they conduct. They stay sharp through research.

That is why they understand what Google Panda and Penguin updates are, what the Hummingbird algorithm is, and what all of these terms mean to your SEO strategy. They understand how to maximize online maps, local directory listings, check-in sites, and review sites to boost your local online presence. They know that sharing content via social media is better than building cheap links and spamming. If a provider is a front liner in the industry, and has sufficient experience, there’s a good chance it can also handle and steer your business to online marketing success.

Passion: How Bad They Want You to Succeed

Passion, they say, is a subjective quality that you cannot measure. But if you ask any entrepreneur, they’ll say that passion is a crucial factor in the success of any venture. And for an online marketing agency to be able to help your business succeed online, they must be passionate in helping you achieve your marketing goals. How can you tell if they have this passion? Ask yourself these three questions:

  • Does this agency listen to my needs?
  • Do they provide In-depth consultation based on these needs?
  • Do they align their services toward my marketing goals?

If you answered yes to all these questions, and you’ve determined their expertise based on the characteristics we mentioned earlier, then you might just be looking at the online marketing agency you’re looking for. The important thing to remember here is that passionate agencies do not simply offer specific packages without first listening to you and analyzing your business. No one knows your business better than you do!

That’s why it’s important that the agency takes the time to listen to you and give you an in-depth consultation based on your needs. Knowing your marketing goals and business needs is always the first step to achieving online success. It’s also a very good indicator of the agency’s expertise and passion in helping your business make the most out of SEO, Local Marketing, Google, Social Media, Facebook, Responsive Web Design and online marketing in general.

We’re not shy to say we’re experts at what we do and we’re passionate in helping businesses succeed online. Call us now or send us a message to schedule your free consultation on online marketing today.

PPC Advertising: Online Marketing with Instant, Highly-targeted Traffic and Measurable ROI for Your Business

Business owners are reluctant to engage in online marketing activities not because they don’t want to see their website online, or they don’t have the budget for it. Mostly, it’s because they struggle to track Internet marketing’s return on investment or ROI. Indeed it is difficult to invest in something whose value is not obviously apparent. Good thing there’s PPC or pay-per-click advertising.

PPC not only gives businesses quick results, it also tracks these results – allowing owners to see exactly what they are making through this channel. In fact, a recent study showed that 50% of marketers that use PPC do so because they want to achieve or increase their measurable ROI. PPC is indeed the online advertising model businesses need right now.

‘Complex’ Concept Simplified

When business owners hear the word “PPC,” they usually think of it as a highly complex, completely technical, paid online advertising model that they should stay away from. And indeed you have reason to think of it that way. Perhaps you’ve been approached by a consultant before with terms like “spend, bids, impressions, CTR and quality score” didn’t really make sense to you. But really, what you should know about PPC is in the name itself: pay per click. Unlike other forms of advertising, you only pay when users click your advertisements. No click means no payment.

Paid advertisements may appear on various online locations but the simplest and most popular form of PPC is the search results text ad, which is displayed on top of and beside “organic” search results. Each ad is composed of four lines of text. Currently, 95% of PPC marketers consider these text ads as important, according to a digital marketing survey. Paid ads may also appear as banners on partner sites and on video content (such as YouTube). But in this article, we’ll focus on search text ads.

Should You Spend on PPC Ads?

Research by MarketingSherpa showed that online marketers indeed are dedicating a significant amount of their budgets to paid search. A quarter of the marketing budget is spent on PPC! Another 25% is allotted to the business website. SEO gets 21% of the pie. The rest is intended for email and other channels and activities. In the United States alone, search ad spending is expected to hit $22.86 billion in 2013, up from merely $15.36 billion two years ago, estimates by eMarketer showed. By 2014, it’s expected to reach $25.41 billion and by 2016, a massive $25.41 billion!

Here are other statistics that matter:

  • Estimated $22.86 billion U.S. paid search spending in 2013 (eMarketer)
  • By 2016, PPC is expected to become a $61.1 billion industry worldwide! (Kissmetrics)
  • Increase web traffic – 63% (MarketingSherpa)
  • Generate more leads - 62% (MarketingSherpa)
  • Increase online sales revenue - 57% (MarketingSherpa)
  • Achieve or increase measurable ROI - 50% (MarketingSherpa)

What these numbers is trying to say is this: PPC works. Online marketers are spending on PPC, and are looking to spend more on it in the future. This upward trend in spending says a lot about the power of paid search. But as research shows too, the main hindrance preventing B2C businesses from increasing online budgets is the difficulty to prove ROI. But what it you can track ROI, and see results instantly?

Instantly Appear on Google Search Results

One of the top reasons why pay per click advertising is popular among business owners is its power to propel websites to the first page of Google – “instantly.” Instant in this case is in comparison with SEO or search engine optimization, which is a slower but nevertheless necessary online strategy. With SEO, it can take time to rank on search engines, especially for competitive keywords. But with PPC, you can immediately ascend to the much-coveted search results page and advertise your business to interested prospects without waiting for months.

The instant appearance on Google search results brings instant traffic to the website. Research shows that increasing web traffic is top objective of 63% of PPC advertisers. So if you’re just getting started with SEO, or your website needs a traffic boost fast, you may use pay per click to get it.

Take note though that being on Google’s Page 1 is not just about extra traffic; it’s also about spreading brand awareness. Whenever users see your search result, they get an “impression” of your business. You do not pay for impressions. This means you get to give your brand exposure with little or no cost, and do it instantly. It’s also about converting the traffic to leads and sales.

Measurable: from Impression to Conversion

PPC networks such as Google AdWords and Bing Ads allow businesses to track a wide array of metrics, from impressions to clicks to conversions. These metrics enable businesses to see whether they are indeed getting the “conversions” or results they want from paid ads. You get to see how many people saw your advertisement, how many clicked the ad, and how many performed the desired action on your landing page.

Because you can measure impressions to conversions, you’ll be able to see how much a particular conversion cost you. Calculating your “cost per click” will let you determine the amount you spent for every advertisement clicked by a user. “Cost per conversion or action or acquisition” is the amount you spent for that lead, sale, or whatever conversion you are tracking.

Being able to measure not just traffic but also money spent and earned is an attractive feature of PPC. It is one of the reasons why pay-per-click is very popular in the retail industry, which accounts for 16% of businesses that run PPC ads. Case in point: Amazon. The e-commerce giant spent $55.2 million on Google AdWords in 2011. Retailers are tracking not just how many clicks they got but how much they earn from these clicks. Businesses in other industries are following suit.

Don’t be left behind. We can implement pay-per-click advertising for you and help you get instant, highly-targeted traffic and measurable ROI for your website and your business. Call us now or send us a message to schedule your free consultation on PPC advertising.

Beyond Local Online Presence: How Your Local Business Can Keep the Cash Register Ringing with ‘Local Search’

According to statistics, an overwhelming 78% of consumers research about products and services on the Internet before buying locally. The message consumers are sending local business owners is therefore clear: be visible online or get ready to close shop.

A lot of business owners have responded to this message by getting a website done. They also pay for SEO or search engine optimization services to make sure they appear on Google when their prospects look for products they offer. But is this strategy good enough to keep your cash register ringing every day? Or is there a better way to ensure your business dominates “locally”?

The ‘Problem’ with Your SEO Approach

Indeed, optimizing your online presence is a necessity. Some 90% use search engines such as Google to look for products and services. If you do not appear on search results, even your neighbors might not purchase from your shop, and it’s because you are “invisible” on Google. So, business owners employ agencies and professionals to conduct SEO or search engine optimization for their website. That IS the solution. Ironically, that is also the problem: Business owners tend to focus all their attention on SEO, and nothing more.

Traditional SEO works if you want to rank on Google. But if you own a local business and you want to appeal locally, you need to implement optimization efforts that are geographically focused. This goes beyond targeting keywords that include your geographic location. It means creating a “buzz” that 1) enables your business to dominate local search results and also 2) makes people actually visit your physical store and buy.

Higher Ranking, More Search Results

Local search factors differ from general search factors. According to the 2013 Local Search Ranking Factors study by Moz, some of the things you must consider for local search optimization are:

  • Place Page Signals – proper categorization of business, etc. (19.6%)
  • On-page Signals – NAP or name, address, phone number, etc. (18.8%)
  • External Location Signals – NAP consistency across listings, etc. (16%)
  • Review Signals – review quantity and diversity, etc. (10.3%)
  • Social Signals – Google+ authority, Facebook likes, etc. (6.1%)

The items above are signals that surveyed industry experts believe help websites rank in local searches. These ranking factors tell us how we can better rankings on local search results. But to “dominate locally” is another thing. You need to rank high for your website AND get more search results from external sites, too. This way, your business will have more chances of being found by users.

Therefore, you need to optimize your local online presence in other web properties, such as social media, maps, review sites, and local listings. They not only help improve your website’s overall rankings, they also ensure your local business shows up for more search results on Google.

Generate ‘Search’ for Your Local Business

To create Local Search for your business, you need to reinforce your typical SEO work with these location-targeted approaches:

Ensure NAP Presence and Consistency – According to MarketingSherpa, only 58% of businesses list their local business address on their website! This has two major negative consequences: first, a missing or inconsistent NAP can lead to a poor local search ranking, as Moz ranking factors above tell us. Second, it will prevent prospects – particularly mobile users – from taking further action. A study by Google and Nielsen showed that users who searched via a mobile device also called a business phone (7%), visited a store (17%), and made a purchase (17%).

Check for Duplicate Places Listings – Be sure there’s only one listing for your business at Google+ Local, Foursquare, Facebook Places, and Bing Local. You want everyone to check-in only at the right account – your account. Plus, you don’t want to confuse both people and search engines.

Get Published on Review/Rating Sites – According to BrightLocal’s 2013 Local Consumer Review Survey, over 80% of consumers regularly or occasionally read online reviews to determine whether a local business is a good business. In comparison, only 15% do not read online reviews. What’s interesting is that around 65% of consumers say positive reviews make them more likely to use a local business – significantly up from only 50% from two years ago.

Encourage Social Media Reviews – Some 58% of searchers are more likely to use a local business if a social network connection recommended it, says the Local Search Usage research. The study, which was conducted by comScore for 15miles/Neustar Localeze, also found that consumers who actively search for local businesses on social networks also use (50%) and submit (41%) consumer reviews.

Facilitate Web Check-ins – When customers check in on your shop using services like Foursquare, that activity is published and seen by his network. You can use promotions to attract check-ins. Some of the most popular promos are the “friend deal” (reward is given when a group of people check-in together) and the “loyalty deal” (reward is given after a number of check-ins). Why? Research by Pew Internet shows more smartphone owners are now using check-in or geo-social services. The percentage is at 18% as of 2012, significantly up from only 4% in 2010.

These are only some of the methods you can use to create a Local Search for your local business. Yes, traditional SEO will help your website rank well on Google search. But if you want to dominate your competition, you need to dominate local search with results. You must give prospects more links to click when search results are served. More importantly, you need to encourage them to go beyond searching at visit your store to buy. You can do this through “Local Search.”

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We can generate Local Search for your local business. Call us now or send us a message to schedule your free consultation on Local Search.

Anatomy of a Social Buyer: Use Social Media Optimization to Understand Your Customer & Get Sales

Social media optimization is a known business necessity. Owners understand that for their venture to withstand the competition and survive in the current economic environment, they need to be on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. They need to update fan pages, upload photos, and interact with their audience. After all, 67% of all Internet users use social networks, according to Pew Internet research. Indeed no online marketing strategy is ever complete without it. But at the end of the day, its sales—not likes, retweets, or repins—that keep the business going. So the question now is…

"Do businesses actually get sales from social media?"

Social: Vast Network of Networks

Despite doubts clouding social's power to keep the cash register ringing, business still believe in conducting marketing via social networks. In fact, 83% of marketers surveyed by Social Media Examiner consider social media as important for their business. The same source found that 59% or marketers are using social media for 6 hours or more each week.

As for which site is considered most critical to business, 42% of marketers asked by HubSpot for the State of Inbound Marketing report voted Facebook as their choice. Some 80% of U.S. social network users prefer to connect to brands through it.

Apart from Facebook, which now has 1.11 billion monthly active users; marketers also cited Twitter and Pinterest. According to a study by Edison Research, 51% of active Twitter users follow companies, brands, or products on social networks. Pinterest, on the other hand, is ranked by Experian as the third most popular social network in the U.S., based on traffic. Google's very own Google+ is continuously growing with 359 million monthly active users. Then, there’s YouTube, LinkedIn, and other popular sites.

So, Do Social Users Actually Buy?

Some 43% of social users actually do buy. The purchases happened after conducting some form of social action on the item, like sharing and favoriting, says global research provider, Vision Critical. Broken down by site, Facebook appears to be the best platform to drive sales as 38% of its users have purchased an item after liking and sharing it. Pinterest ranks second with 29% of users saying they have purchased an item. Twitter was third with 22%. Social sites can drive both online and offline sales, it was found.

What do they buy? Recent social-inspired purchases by users fall mostly under technology and electronics, with the category accounting for 34% of sales driven by Twitter and 25% by Facebook. As for Pinterest, the top category was food and drink (24%).

Which type of retail store or site did they buy from? Facebook users mostly purchased from a discount retailer (43%) and supermarket (18%). Discount retailer also ranked first for Twitter (31%) and Pinterest (26%). Twitter users also bought from a department store (31%) while Pinterest users purchased from a specialty retailer (21%).

The Social Buyer: Dissected & Analyzed

The social buyer exists, and is mostly (51%) between the age of 18 and 34. The 35-54 age group represents 34% of social purchasers while the 55+ age group accounts for the remaining 15% or so. Divided by sex, 56% are male and 44% are female.

The demographics change when mobile comes into the picture. The ratio between males and females further favors males, 69:31. The 18-34 age group grows to 68% of the total number of social purchasers using mobile. Facebook (43%) and Pinterest (38%) purchases are mostly not mobile but 35% of Twitter-driven purchases are purely mobile.

So what’s inside the mind of a social buyer? A whopping 70% of Twitter user-purchasers said they were “vaguely” thinking about purchasing the product at the time they bought it. Facebook (60%) and Pinterest (49%) users had the same mindset when they bought a product, adds Vision Critical. The difference surfaces in buyers who “had not thought about purchasing this product” when they bought it. Only 9% of Twitter user-purchasers fall under this group while the figure is 16% for Facebook. Pinterest appears to be the best site for unplanned purchases as 29% their social buyers weren’t even thinking about buying such item when purchased it.

How to Appeal to Your Social Buyer

Use a Specific Network’s Purchasing Influence – Auto posting the same exact stuff on all your social accounts is not the best way to approach social media. If you want to get social-inspired sales, you must understand how a particular network or social website influences a customer’s purchase decision. For example, 43% of Pinterest purchasers said they were influenced by the “additional information on the product,” according to Vision Critical. This means Pinterest is a great choice when providing product details, reviews and recommendations, different models, etc.

For identifying where prospects can purchase the product, 38% of buyers used Twitter. When alerting to a sale or deal, 37% credited Facebook and 32% Twitter. Some 32% got reminders to purchase through Twitter. But when it comes to providing a coupon code, the race is tight between Facebook (18%), Pinterest (14%), and Twitter (18%). The product discovery contest is also close: Facebook (31%), Pinterest (35%), and Twitter (35%).

Network Where Your Targets Are – Leading data firm comScore estimates 80% of Pinterest users are female. Repinly, an online pin directory, says the most popular Pinterest categories are as follows: food & drink, DIY and crafts, women’s apparel, and home décor. Head over to Google+ and the world turns upside down. According to SocialStatistics, nearly 87% of Google+ users are male. Students, early adopters, and engineers are some of the biggest groups. Go to LinkedIn and you’ll find a healthy balance of professionals from both sexes.
The idea is to analyze which site best suits your target market’s profile and then start your social media optimization campaign in that network. This strategy not only gives your marketing direction some focus, it also maximizes your resources.

Get Started in Focused Social Media Today – You can use social media optimization not just to get a legion of followers, but also to generate sales; a fact that's already been proven across multiple industries worldwide. The best approach right now is to get started—if you haven’t already—and give it focus to ensure you influence social buyers to purchase your products and avail of your services today. We can help you.

Need help with social media, attracting social purchasers, understanding your customer, and generating more sales from social networks? Call us now or send us a message to schedule your free consultation on Social Media Optimization.

Responsive Web Design: How Businesses Risk Losing Customers by Ignoring Google’s Recommended Mobile Friendly Configuration

Mobile Internet users are expected to outnumber desktop users by next year. It is therefore no surprise that Google is paying close attention to this development. And so should you. Because if your website is not yet “mobile responsive,” you may be turning away prospects who browse your web pages via smartphones, tablets, or laptops. And frankly, mobile users are prospects you wouldn’t want to lose.

Non-Mobile Ready = Non-Customer Friendly

A study by Sterling Research and SmithGeiger for Google found that a whopping 96% of users have encountered a website that is obviously not designed for mobile. This would not have mattered to you if not for the following findings also uncovered by the same study:

  • 52% of users are unlikely to engage with a company whose website brought them a bad mobile experience
  • 36% of respondents say a non-mobile-friendly site wastes users’ time
  • 67% of users are more likely to purchase if the site is mobile friendly

To add up to business owners’ growing woes, Internet research company comScore estimates that 52.4 million Americans now own nearly 58 million tablets. Another research group, Pew Internet, says 56% of American adults have a smartphone. Worldwide, there will be 1.4 billion smartphones by the end of 2013, adds ABI Research. That’s with a B, billion.

Take note that these devices are not just capable of connecting to the Internet; they will be connected to the Internet. Cisco estimates mobile Internet usage will skyrocket at a pace of 66% in the next five years.

Needless to say, Internet users – including your prospect customers – have been and will be viewing your website using mobile devices. That’s a major problem if your site is not designed to load properly on mobile.

Supported, Not Preferred: Dynamic Serving & Mobile Sites

In total, Google supports three configurations in serving content for smartphones: mobile responsive, dynamic serving, and mobile version website. The search engine prefers the first option. As for the other two, they are supported but not recommended.

Like responsive, dynamic serving uses the same URL for both desktop and mobile. But unlike responsive, it serves different HTML and CSS depending on the device. In this method, you will need to either 1) come up with a different set of code for mobile or 2) use JavaScript to change the code. If not carried out correctly, such as when Google crawlers are not alerted that the site serves varying or dynamic HTML, this option can even cause indexing problems.

The second supported-but-not-preferred option is actually creating another website, a mobile version of the main site. It is often carried out with a different domain, such as m.example.com, indicating it is meant for mobile visitors. The creation is the easy part. Ensuring pages properly redirect to their mobile equivalent pages is the tough task. Faulty redirects mean Google won’t be able to find and rank your mobile pages properly. And oh, now you have two sites to maintain (desktop and mobile) so you have twice as much optimization work to do.

Supported & Recommended: Responsive Web Design

And then there’s Google’s preferred method of servicing mobile users: responsive web design. Of all three configurations supported by the search giant, it leans on responsive more because of its many advantages not just in improving user experience but also in speeding up web page indexing and ranking. According to the official Webmaster Central Blog, here’s what Google has to say when building smartphone-optimized websites:

“Sites that use responsive web design, i.e. sites that serve all devices on the same set of URLs, with each URL serving the same HTML to all devices and using just CSS to change how the page is rendered on the device. This is Google’s recommended configuration.”

Because the desktop and mobile content are on a single URL, it is easier for user to find, link back to, and share that content. It is also easier for Google algorithms to assign the indexing properties to your content. “Google can discover your content more efficiently as we wouldn't need to crawl a page with the different Googlebot user agents to retrieve and index all the content,” the company explains.

What Makes a Website Mobile Responsive

In a nutshell, responsive is serving both desktop and mobile users the same exact HTML, changing only its appearance via CSS. This means your web pages load perfectly on all devices, regardless of screen size, without needing to change the HTML for each device or to create a separate mobile website.

A mobile responsive website has three key features: a flexible or fluid grid, flexible images, and CSS3 media queries. These features allow the website to “adapt to the viewing environment”. The website adjusts for viewers so they won’t need to scroll in all directions and zoom in and out whenever browsing via smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

Why You Need to Shift to Responsive Today

Be More Visible Online – The responsive configuration makes it easier for Google to index pages since its crawlers will only deal with one set of code. Since you won’t create a mobile site, you also avert the possibility of faulty redirects, allowing pages to be discovered and ranked.

Build and Improve Your Brand, Reputation – The Sterling Research and SmithGeiger study also found that 48% of users are “frustrated and annoyed” by a non-mobile-friendly site. Being perceived as “annoying and frustrating” won’t help your brand and reputation.

Capture Desktop and Mobile Targets – Desktop users roam your site effortlessly. But what if they use a smartphone or a tablet to browse? Some 48% of users think companies that have non-mobile friendly sites “don’t care” about their business. Googdbye, mobile user leads and sales.

Dominate Your Competition – The same research found that 61% of users will quickly go to another website if they don’t immediately find what they need on your mobile site. Keep your site non-responsive and your competitors will thank you for the customers you send their way.

Save on Development Costs – You need to spend upfront to get a mobile responsive website but it’s actually more cost-effective in the long run. It’s cheaper than building a separate mobile site and then maintaining two websites. It’s cheaper than losing mobile customers, too.

Give Focus to Your Marketing, SEO Efforts – It is hard enough to make your pages rank on the first page of Google for main keywords. Imagine if you had twice the number of pages you need to carry out optimization for. Imagine promoting a doubled number of URLs. Chaos will ensue.

Prepare Your Business for Long-Term Success – More and more page views are coming from mobile, and less from desktop. Next year, mobile viewers are expected to outnumber desktop users. With a responsive site, you are ready for this long-term shift in website traffic origin.

Ignore Google, Risk Losing Customers

Google is unrelenting when it comes to user experience, and that’s why it has the largest search share.
By following Google’s recommendation, you are providing quality experience to your site visitors, whether they connect via desktop or mobile. Remember, they are not just visitors; they can turn into leads that you can eventually convert into customers.

On the other hand, by ignoring Google’s recommendation of implementing responsive web design, you are preventing your site from being indexed by search engines the best way possible. You are also effectively sidestepping a crucial advice to improve your site visitors’ user experience, and therefore turning away prospect customers. So, do the right thing for your business: get a mobile responsive website today.

We can make your website and business mobile responsive, customer friendly, and ready for the future. Call us now or send us a message to schedule your free consultation on responsive web design.

Is Your SEO Service Provider Compliant with the Dreaded Google Penguin & Panda Updates?

Most people think of cute animals when they hear the words “Penguin” and “Panda” but for many search engine optimization service providers, these two words are to be feared. Google’s Penguin and Panda are algorithm updates that play separate roles in improving the overall experience of online users.

While algorithm updates should be primarily a concern for companies providing online marketing services, business owners who use SEO services should also know about them. That’s because if your SEO service provider happens to violate Google’s SEO guidelines, these algorithm changes will drastically affect your website’s ranking and your business will suffer the consequences. So before it’s too late, read our guide on the dreaded Google Penguin and Panda updates and what they mean to your business.

Introducing Penguin, the Web Spam Fighter
The Penguin algorithm is targeted at web spam. It was launched in April 2012. Its second version was released just this May, with two other updates in between Penguin 1 and 2.0. “The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines,” says Google’s official announcement. “Next generation” Penguin affected 3.1% of search queries.

Google search spam chief Matt Cutts advised webmasters to build websites that “people will tell their friends about and bookmark,” as opposed to conducting spamming. Web spam is often conducted by SEO providers desperate to get back links. In short, Penguin is about links.

Get to Know Panda, the Crusher of Poor Content
The other algorithm change that shook the SEO industry was Panda, which was designed to target poor quality content, particularly duplicate articles. It was launched in February 2011, with the most recent update rolled out just this July.

“This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful,” says Google’s announcement. At the same time, Panda will also improve the rankings of “high-quality sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis, and so on.”

What These Updates Mean to Your Business
In the online marketing world, there’s a popular term called “slap” which is when Google penalizes a website for “black hat” methods, or practices that violate its guidelines. Sometimes a penalty can be as “subtle” as a slight drop in rankings. Sometimes it’s as worse as being removed from search results. Regardless of what penalty your site receives, it can lead to a massive drop in traffic and in the overall positive reputation of your website. No traffic means no visitors, no leads, and no sales.

The hard part is recovering from these penalties. You will need to clean up your website, remove spammy backlinks, and so on. And then you will need to reinvest your marketing budget on more SEO efforts, this time hoping that you will not be penalized. Investing in non-compliant SEO service providers, therefore, is not a wise move. Any black hat activity they conduct can result to penalties for your website, and lost opportunities for your business.

How to Tell Compliant SEO from Spammy and Poor SEO
Not all business owners have the technical know-how when it comes to online marketing. That’s why they rely on trusted SEO service providers to take care of their websites and online presence. In essence, they entrust their business to SEO service providers. It is therefore crucial to know if you are indeed entrusting your business to a provider that is compliant with Google’s SEO guidelines and in tune with these search algorithm updates.

Here are some indicators that your provider is up to date with SEO best practices:

  • Focusing on High Quality and Fresh Content – Content must be written for the target audience and not for search engines. Content must be something of value, something useful to users connecting your business, products or services to them. It is therefore important that your provider makes an effort to understand your business, target market, products and services through consultation and provide a mechanism for regular creation of content.
  • Building Natural Backlinks – The best way for people to link back to you is to publish high quality content that is engaging and worth sharing.
  • Using Social Media – A smart SEO service provider uses social media to help spread your content in the digital social sphere. Likes, pluses, shares, tweets, and retweets strengthen your social signal which is important as it is part of the SEO signals that Google detects.
  • Saying No to Spammy Techniques – Make sure your provider does not involve spamming in their SEO practice. Unnatural or spammy links will get you and your website in trouble. A compliant, high caliber SEO service provider does not do the following:
  • Massive submission of articles to article submission sites
  • Massive forum postings
  • Massive guest postings
  • All of the above with the same sets of keyword-rich anchor texts
  • On-Page, Off-Page Optimization – Ensure your SEO provider optimizes not just the content on your site but also your navigation, SEO tags such as the title, description, alt texts; overall site structure. They also optimize (but not over-optimize) content and links placed on external sites such as blogs, press release sites, social media and social sharing sites.
  • Knows Panda & Penguin Updates – Online marketing services providers must know all about Google’s algorithm updates. If they could not provide consulting about it, then it’s either they’re not yet compliant or worse, they really don’t know about them.

How to Deal with Google Algorithm Updates
Recovering from Panda and Penguin penalties will be difficult and time consuming. But if that happens, you will need a comprehensive website audit report to know what could be the possible causes of the penalties. Bad links need to be removed. Bad content needs to be improved or taken down. Your compliant provider will know what to do.

The best way to deal with algorithm updates still, is prevention. While business owners need not know the technical aspect of SEO, it will help if they can determine whether a provider is up to date with the latest search algorithm changes. All it takes is to ask the provider about the items above. Doing so will give you some idea on whether they are compliant and if you can indeed entrust your website and your business to them.

Our SEO methodologies comply with the latest search algorithm updates, including Google’s Penguin and Panda. We are not into black hat techniques, spammy practices and over optimization of anchor texts. We focus on creating high quality and fresh content, building natural links, uses social media, maximizing Google+ for improved SEO footprint, and conducting on-page and off-page optimization.

Call us now or send us a message to schedule your free consultation on SEO.