Why SEO Shouldn’t Be An Afterthought

Have you ever questioned whether or not you need to invest in SEO now, or if you can simply hold off until your company scales? This is a common question that I hear all too often when talking with business owners. In this post, my goal is to share with you a few reasons why it’s critical that you start investing in SEO today and not wait. Out of respect for the privacy of our clients, I have altered the names and company information associated with any specific examples that I’ve included in this post.

Before we dive in, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Chayden Young and I’m the Accounts Director here at Epic Marketing. You’re likely wondering why Epic’s Accounts Director is writing an article on SEO. That’s a great question! In addition to managing our account management team, I also spend a portion of my day talking with prospective clients and am typically their first point of contact with Epic. Being on the front lines, I get the opportunity to learn so much about what companies are already doing to market themselves and can quickly see many of the opportunities in front of them.

I recently had a new client meeting with John, a business owner looking to expand his company. John had been working incredibly hard to establish his brand and a reputation for quality work and great service. I asked John what he was doing from an SEO side to promote his services. His response, while not so unusual, is representative of a widespread and all too common concern. John responded, “I’m not really doing a lot with SEO. I’m not really big enough to worry about it and have heard it’s a waste of money.”

After listening to John’s perspective on SEO, I realized that there are businesses out there that still don’t truly understand the value of SEO. Search traffic can be one of the most valuable marketing avenues a company can pursue. While the size and scale of these search campaigns can vary greatly, you should be investing in a base SEO strategy for your site. Your competition isn’t stopping SEO efforts and you can’t afford to ignore the value of search traffic to your site.

“you need to be investing in SEO today”

John and I continued talking and discussed why he hadn’t been doing SEO. He said, “when I first started my business, I was under the impression that SEO was something only large companies did. I didn’t really see the value in it. I’ve got a couple of friends that got burned by one of those $250 SEO packages.” A warning to those who might be tempted to go with the ultra-cheap SEO companies out there, It’s not worth the risk. Companies charging extremely low rates keep their prices low by providing a low-quality service that can harm your site. After being on the subject for a while, we came to the conclusion that John needed more information on SEO and specifically how it should play into his mix of customer acquisition channels.

Now I was on a mission to prove to John the value of SEO and how a quality SEO service can elevate his business to a new level. Returning to John’s point on how he believed only large companies focus on SEO, I knew that I needed to start there. Why does it seem like SEO is something that big successful companies focus on? It’s because it works! Aligning your website content with people searching for your products and services is one of the best ways to capture high-quality leads or direct sales. These people are looking for you, why not make it easy for them to find you? The value derived from this strategy can be immense and in the long run, cost significantly less than a paid advertising approach. SEO is an investment in your web presence, not a flash in the pan that builds no sustained value over time.

At our next meeting, I came a little more prepared. This time I brought an in-depth search report of people that were looking for his services on a monthly basis. It finally hit him how important it was for him to try and capture a small portion of this search market. He decided that he couldn’t wait any longer, because the longer he waited, the more he fell behind his competition.

We helped John build a new site that was optimized for SEO from the start. After his site was launched, he started to receive not only an uptick in organic traffic but a noticeable increase in leads from his site.

This story has an awesome ending for John. Unfortunately, there are a lot of companies out there that still let SEO be an afterthought. I don’t care if you just invented a brand new technology that nobody has heard of or your industry is as old as the dinosaurs, you need to be investing in SEO today, and if you don’t know where to start, you need to partner with someone who can generate the right results for you.

5 Basic SEO Tips Every Business Owner Should Know

Generally speaking, SEO helps your business be relevant to a target audience, increase site traffic, build brand awareness and improve user experience. SEO is a long term strategy that requires serious dedication. Approaching SEO can be scary, but it’s ok to start small. Small changes can gradually lead to great success. Here are a few “starting small” SEO tips:

Know Your Current Ranking

It’s hard to know if your SEO strategy is working effectively unless you know your current position and THEN monitor progress. Before starting a new strategy, track your current rankings.

So – how do you monitor your ranking? There are various tools designed to help you do this. If you’re just getting started, there are a number of free tools to help! You can start with tools like Traffic Travis, RankWatch, and RankScanner. One thing to note with free trackers – they don’t store your rankings over time. So, every month (or however often you are checking), I suggest exporting the list and comparing it the next time you check. There are also some great tools that cost money like SEMRush, WebCEO, and Ahrefs. These paid tools often have more features in their database. This could include things like audits, keyword research options, competitor information, etc.

Pay Attention To Keywords

It’s hard to discuss SEO basics without mentioning keywords, they should be the center of every optimization strategy. Keywords are search terms that people use to find relevant content online. Understanding how your target audience is searching and the keyphrases they’re using will help you better know what kind of content to optimize your website with. Use the keyphrases, and their synonyms in the headings, subheadings, meta descriptions, image descriptions, and web content.

It is important to note that using too many keywords could adversely affect your ranking. Google could label your site as spammy and penalize you for keyword stuffing. Always try to strike a balance. The balance I try to stick to is a keyword density of 2-2.5%. The content you write for your website or blog, shouldn’t be stuffed with keywords, it should be informative and answer the questions the user came to your site to get answered.

Create Internal and External Links

Most beginners underestimate the importance of links. Links are an integral part of SEO basics because they help to increase traffic to specific pages of your website. When creating content, always incorporate relevant links to other pages on your site and link externally to other authoritative sites. Ensure you use keyphrase focused anchor text that highlights what is contained on the page you are linking to. This will increase the chances of your page appearing when internet users search for the anchor text.

seo for beginners

Include Relevant Image Info

A key to SEO is understanding how bots crawl your website, but more specifically, your images. Bots (also known as crawlers) only read the text and overlook images. So file name, alt tags and image descriptions help them to know what the picture is all about. All image elements should include the key phrase, but also describe what the image is. Google is smart enough to know when you’re trying to trick them by stuffing more keywords. Your site or page could be penalized for making your content hard to understand for sight-impaired people.

Post Fresh and Relevant Content

An effective way to ensure your site has fresh content is by adding a blog that focuses on relevant topics. The blog will attract a significant number of readers, educate them on the subject and convert some of them into loyal customers. A blog gives you opportunities for internal and external linking and allows you to demonstrate your authority on the subject matter.

Content must be fresh, relevant and engaging. The idea behind a blog is not only to show search engines that you’re an active member of your community but also to become a resource for tips and tricks in your industry.

Even though SEO can be a complex topic, with a base knowledge of what your SEO starting point is, you can create a long-term game plan to scale the SERPs. If you’re on information overload, contact us today! Our team of SEO experts is ready to help.

SEO Glossary

Whether you’re new to SEO, or a seasoned manager, SEO terms can sometimes be hard to digest. The amount of terms that you deal with in any campaign is enough to hurt your brain.

We decided to create this handy guide for SEO newbs and SEO directors alike. And while this is a comprehensive list of the most common SEO terms, there are hundreds more that we aren’t hitting on. Hopefully, this can be a great starting point for you.

Feel free to click through the letters to get to the spot you’re most interested in learning about.

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

#

301 Redirect – a 301 redirect is used for a URL that has been moved permanently. These types of redirects pass roughly 90% of link equity. This is the most recommended redirect for SEO.

302 Redirect – a 302 redirect means that a URL was found and has been moved temporarily.

404 Redirect – a 404 error means page not found. This means that the page a browser was requesting isn’t found by the server.
410 – Redirect

A

Algorithm – complex data used by search engines to deliver results for a certain query. With a combination of algorithms, search engines are able to deliver ranked pages based on a number of signals and ranking factors.

Algorithm Updates – This is when search engines change certain signals and ranking factors for the current algorithm.

Alt Attribute – code that gives information to search engines and screen readers (accessibility for the visually impaired) to understand an image on your site.

Analytics -Analyzing and interpreting data to impact action in future strategies based on what has or hasn’t worked in the past. Learn more here.

Anchor text – Clickable word or phrases of a link, giving information to both people and search engines about what the website they’re clicking to is about.

Authority – Combo of signals search engines utilize to rank a website properly.

B

B2B – Business to Business. B2B SEO is the science of reaching professionals through search engines. It should answer 3 things: what are people looking for? How can we satisfy their needs? How do we convince Google that we can satisfy their needs?

Backlinks – Backlinks are inbound links that originate from someone elses’s website. If you link to Google, that’s a backlink for Google and vice versa. **Backlinks are one if the main signals in the algorithm right now to increase your rankings.

Black hat SEO – Going against Google Webmaster Guidelines. These are risky, spammy SEO tactics.

Bounce rate – The number of people who come to your website and leave without visiting another page. These depend widely on your industry, and although it’s not a direct ranking factor, it indicates website issues.

Broken link – a link (whether page or image) that leads to a 404 not found page. If you haven’t implemented a redirect (301), or if your website goes offline, this can create a 404.

C

Canonical – To reduce duplicate content, adding a canonical URL shows search engines which URL is the preferred page when multiple pages have similar (or the same) content.

CTR – Also known as click-through-rate, shows a percentage of users who click on an organic search result to visit your website. Calculated by dividing clicks by impression and multiplying by 100.

Citation – Also known as a local listing, citations are an online reference to your business name, address and phone number (NAP). Your NAP consistency plays a large role in your local relevance in search.

Competitor Analysis – When auditing a potential clients SEO efforts, look at competitors and what they’re doing that you aren’t doing and vice versa. There are SEO competitors (competing for the same keywords and search visibility) and direct competitors (companies that sell similar products and services to the same target audience).

Content – words, images, and videos that convey information to be consumed by your audience. Aside from link building, content is the most important ranking factor on Google. Search engines reward useful, informative and engaging content.

Conversion – this is an action completed by a user on your website like completing a purchase, downloading content, subscribing to a newsletter and filling out a contact form.

Conversion Rate – The rate that users complete a website action. Calculated by dividing the total number of conversions by traffic and multiplying by 100.

CRO – Optimizing opportunities for conversions on a website (homepage, landing pages, etc.).

Crawling – a program search engines to use crawl the web and more specifically, your website. Bots, spiders, and crawlers collect information and add it to a search engines index. The 3 types of crawling programs are:
• Google bots
• Crawler
• Spider

D

Directory – A list of websites in related categories that allows your website inclusion (free and paid). Slowly this type of link building isn’t as valuable as it used to be.

Disavow – If your website somehow gets hacked or includes a number of spammy and low-quality inbound links and can have negative harm on your rankings. You typically don’t have control over these links, but you can ask Google to ignore those links through their disavow tool.

Do-follow link – a link that passes link juice and doesn’t contain the nofollow attribute.

Domain Authority – Your strength and authority of your website, with a score between 0-100. It takes a lot of time to build up this “strength”, but it helps your rankings significantly.

Duplicate content – When more than one webpage contains similar if not the same content as one another (same website or completely different website).

E

Ecommerce – Buying and selling products online.

Editorial Link – Also known as a natural link, this is a link given by another website without you asking for it.

Engagement metrics – Ways to measure how users interact with your website. These include things like:

• CTR
• Conversion rate
• Bounce rate
• New vs. returning visitors

F

Featured Snippet – who/what/where/when/why/how query answers that Google shows in a block about the organic search results.

G

Google
• Analytics – Program to analyze and interpret data to impact action in future strategies based on what has or hasn’t worked in the past.
• Hummingbird – 2013 Google algorithm with a goal of understanding the context of queries instead of just keywords.
• Panda – 2011 Google algorithm update with a goal to reduce low-value content visibility.
• Penguin – 2012 Google algorithm update with a goal to reduce the visibility of overly-optimized sites, especially those with low-quality links and keyword stuffing.
• Pigeon – 2014 Google algorithm update with a goal to improve the relevance of local searches.
• Rankbrain – 2015 algorithm change that adds machine learning, the third most important ranking signal.
• Search Console – Program that helps you monitor your site for indexing errors and site speed.
• Trends – Google trends allows you to explore data for trends, stories, and topics.
• Posts – Google Posts is a feature that lets you include a post with your local listing to tell customers and potential customers about: Events, Products, Promotions/specials, Announcements.
• Tag Manager – A program that allows you to add tags and snippets of code to a website without the use of a programmer or web developer.

Guest Blogging – Link building tactic involving writing content for other websites in exchange for a backlink to your website.

H

Heading – Heading tags separate content into sections. H1 is the most important with H6 being the least important.

HTML – Hypertext Markup Language. Code elements used to improve SEO for websites.

HTTP/HTTPS – HTTP is how data is transferred from server to browser. HTTPS is the secure version of that. HTTPS is also a small ranking factor for Google.

I

Inbound links – Link pointing to one website from another website.

Index – A database that searches and retrieves information from a website to then use to match a user to the right query.

Internal link – Link from one page to another page within the same site.

IP address – IP stands for internet protocol. Every computer that’s connected to the internet has an individual, unique IP address.

J

Javascript – a programming language that can be embedded into HTML to add dynamic features to a webpage or site to make it more interactive.

K

Keyword
Cannibalization – In simple terms, it’s self-competition that happens when multiple pages on your site rank for the same query on the search engines. It can hurt your authority and lower your conversion rates.

Density – How many times a keyword/phrase appears in the content of a webpage. While there is no ideal percentage to help with rankings, it’s said to keep it between 2-3%.

Research – discovering relevant keywords to your focus SEO strategy. This can be done through research tools, analytics, competitor sites etc.

Stuffing – writing content that uses a keyword or phrase excessively.

Knowledge graph/panel – A box that appears at the top of the search results on relevant queries. Queries that have a quick, easy answer. These are things like song search, lyric search, recipe search, and celebrity searches.

KPI – Key performance indicators are ways to measure the results of your SEO strategies. These are things like the number of sessions, conversions, traffic, pages per session etc.

L

Local SEO – Local SEO targets potential customers within a specific geographic area. Optimizing content with localization, local listings etc.

Landing page – The first page a user lands on after clicking on a link from the search results.

Link building – Process of building high-quality backlinks that search engines use to evaluate the authority of your website.

Log file analysis – Assessing data kept in a log file to see trends, user movements through the site and understand how bots are crawling your site.

LSI – Latent Semantic Indexing is the keywords that are semantically related to the main keywords. You can see a list of LSI keywords for a keyword you use in a query at the bottom of the SERPs.

M

Metadata
• Description – the meta description is the sentence or two that shows up under the title of your website in the SERPs. Should be relevant, reinforce what the page is about and contain keywords or phrases.
• Title – the meta title, or title tag, needs to be unique to every page and describe what important ideas are covered in the content. Should keep between 8 and 10 words.
• Keywords – meta keywords is a tag that is used to highlight keywords or phrases that the page is targeting.

Metric – a way to measure the performance of campaign to see if it’s successful or not.

N

Negative SEO – an extremely harmful practice where webspam techniques are used to hurt a competitor.

Niche – Small group of people in a specific market or industry.

No follow/no index – a tag that tells search engines not to follow a specific external link or index a specific page in the index.

O

Off-page SEO – SEO strategies done outside of the website including: social media marketing, email marketing, influencer marketing etc.

On-page SEO – strategies put in place inside the website including optimizing images, metadata, content etc.

Organic search – the unpaid listings that appear in the SERPs, typically underneath the ads at the top. These results are analyzed and ranked by the algorithms and shown in the results based on a specific, related query.

Outbound link – a link that directs your website visitors to a different page on a different website.

P

Pagerank – PageRank measures the importance of a page based on backlinks to it. Each QUALITY link adds to your PageRank.

Page speed – The amount of time it takes for a website or page to load completely and is a big ranking factor.

Paid search – advertisements that appear above the organic search results.

Penalty – Search engines penalize websites for spammy tactics. This penalty prevents these spammed sites from ranking high in the results.

Pogo-sticking – When a user bounces back and forth between a SERP and the pages listed.

Q

Query – the phrase or keyword that users enter into a search engine.

Quality content – Content that helps you achieve your SEO goals of high rankings that generate leads or sales.

Quality link – A backlink that comes from an extremely authoritative, relevant website.

R

Robot.txt – a text file that tells search engines which areas of a website should be crawled and ignored.

Ranking – where, in the SERPs, your website appears in the organic search results for a certain query.

Reciprocal links – when two different websites have an agreement to exchange links with one another.

Redirect – a way to let search engines know that the location of a page moved. Users will then be directed to a new, but a relevant webpage.

Responsive website – a website that automatically adjusts to the size of someone’s smart device.

Rich snippet – structured data added to a website that provides additional context to a certain webpage to enhance a listing.

S

Schema – structured data or microdata that gives more context to search engines and helps show the positive tactics like positive reviews, events, products, location etc.

Search engine – a program that allows users to search queries and find answers and relevant information. Here’s a list of the most common search engines:
• Google
• Yahoo
• Baidu
• Yandex
• DuckDuckGo
• Bing

SEM – a term describing visibility in search engines that includes both paid and organic strategies.

SEO – making a business appeal to both users and search engines with a combination of technical and on-page marketing.

SERP – the page on search engines that displays after a user conducts a search query.

Sitemap – a way for crawlers and bots to navigate your website.

Status codes – response codes sent to a server after a link is clicked. Common codes are:
• 200
• 301
• 302
• 404
• 410
• 500
• 503

T

TLD (top-level domain) – end of a given web address. Like
• .com
• .org
• .net

Traffic – users and crawlers who visit your website.

U

URL – the web address entered into a browser to go to a webpage.

URL parameter – an added piece to a URL that tracks where traffic comes from like: facebook, twitter, google listing etc.

User Experience – the feeling users are left with after being on your website and interacting with your online presence.

V

Voice search – voice search requires you to use your voice to ask questions and conduct online search queries through smart devices.

W

Website navigation – How websites help users navigate through the site. There are a few different ways to implement navigation:
• Main
• Footer
• Breadcrumbs

White hat SEO – SEO tactics that specifically comply with Google Webmaster Guidelines.

Word count – The number of words that appear within your content. Low word count can signal search engines of a low-quality website.

WordPress – a popular website management/creation software platform.

X

XML Sitemap – a text format sitemap that search engines can read.

Y

Youtube – Second largest search engine that usually ends up with more search traffic than Yahoo and Bing combined.

Hopefully, this list helped you learn something or help you figure out an issue you were having with one of your campaigns. If we’re missing any super important terms that you use on a regular basis, let us know and we’ll get it added!

Most Popular Dessert by State in 2018

Current Mood = Dessert

If asked, picking one single dessert to eat for the rest of your life would be painfully hard. There are thousands of dessert variations to choose from, and like – #FOMO. 40% of consumers surveyed in a USA Today report say they eat desserts after a meal at least twice a week. 78% say they are more likely to eat dessert to treat themselves and 60% say they order dessert when they’re feeling happy.

Recognizing the challenge of different search queries (searching for recipes, places for dessert near you, etc.), we compared the top 3 searched desserts in each state utilizing the information found in Google Trends for the entire year of 2018. Mixed with some keyword research (some of these desserts sounded too absurd to be real – I’m talking to you, Florida and Georgia) we were able to finalize a list of the top dessert in each state throughout 2018.

A top choice by 1/5th of the states in the U.S. was a certain British pudding that, unbeknownst to me (and the entire staff at Epic Marketing), exists and apparently is delicious. Research showed and shocked our team to discover that Jell-O was not the top dessert in Utah, especially since it seems to be culturally popular! But hey, we decided that maybe Gelato is a distant cousin to Jell-O.

fav dessert by state

How did your home state compare?

National vs. Local SEO

Search Marketing started in the 1990’s and has gradually gotten more intense. Back then, it was as simple as keyword tags and keyword stuffing for you to rank well. In 2004, link farms started and helped you rank even higher on the search engines. In 2011, social media marketing joined in and since then, search engines have gradually intensified their algorithms, making it harder to rank using the tactics above.

In 2018, none of the things listed above will fly in your SEO strategy. If anything, doing these things will hurt your efforts. Understanding the strategy and techniques behind an effective SEO campaign is imperative for you to survive in the ever-changing online world. Whether you’re a national company or a local brick and mortar store, SEO will help your business succeed. However, there are different strategies and techniques for both of these types of campaigns (hence the reason for this blog post). Let’s dive into differentiating your strategy based on national vs local SEO.

What is National SEO?

National SEO is useful for businesses that aren’t focused on servicing a specific geographic area but want to reach a national or global clientele. Your main focus here is your brand. You’re constantly competing against other national brands, so you need to make sure your brand is just as strong if not stronger.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is about bringing visitors to your business or area. So if your business wants to focus 100% on local clients, local SEO will provide long-lasting growth. Local SEO allows you to target potential customers within a specific geographic area. With this, you’re speaking directly to the people who are in proximity to your business and therefore more likely to buy your product.


Local and national SEO share the same goal – rank higher in the SERPs to increase conversions and traffic. The differences they have has to do with how they reach this goal. Since the purpose of both national and local SEO is to optimize for search engines, it’s clear that they would have some similarities.

National and Local SEO Similarities

SEO Strategies

Backlinks are effective for both local and national businesses; they continue to weigh heavy in the ranking factors. The means to which you get backlinks differs slightly for both of them though. It’s important to focus on keywords/key phrases when writing guest posts. Depending on whether your campaign is local or national will affect the types of keywords, phrases, localization you use. As with the guest post itself needing to be specific, it’s also important to choose the websites you post to carefully. For a national campaign, I wouldn’t recommend using local directories or local websites.

Both local and national SEO campaigns can benefit from backlinks from resource pages and also creating resource pages on their own websites – each campaign will just be targeting different sites for different reasons.

National and Local SEO Differences

Keywords

National SEO: these campaigns typically have a much larger budget than small businesses and a lot more manpower which is what helps them succeed when they try to rank for generic keywords.

Local SEO: these campaigns have less manpower and would be smart to focus on geo-specific keywords since that makes more sense in terms of who their potential client would be.

Citations

National SEO: the algorithm runs a little different for a national campaign and having local citations won’t help their campaign at all.

Local SEO: Maintaining NAP consistency throughout citations is important and any inconsistencies can decrease your local SEO value. These citations weigh heavily in regards to local search results and the algorithm behind it. There are an enormous amount of citation sites available to add more value to your campaign.

local listings

Social Media

National SEO: Often times, national campaigns have more resources available which in turn usually means that they have better management of their social media accounts.

Local SEO: Social media can be a hard thing to manage or gain any sort of engagement from on a local level. It’s important to at least have business pages set up.

**For both national and local campaigns, social media can assist with your link building efforts in terms of social sharing.

The future is uncertain. Algorithm changes happen hundreds of times a year and sometimes it’s hard to keep up. Having a solid foundation of SEO should be a priority for your business. SEO is not dead, as some people believe. Websites will continue to compete for attention and placement in the SERPs. If you have knowledge and experience to increase your rankings, traffic, and conversions, you’ll see reap the benefits. First things first– choose a national or local SEO strategy.

SEO and Voice Search

There are over 1 billion voice searches performed monthly, and that number is likely to continue to grow. Thirty-five times more voice searches were performed on Google in 2016 than in 2008. So if you’re wondering if you should implement a voice-first website, the answer is a resounding YES. Throughout this blog we’ll give you a few tips and tricks to optimize your current site to be SEO voice-search friendly. But first a little background.

The Rapid Growth of Voice Search

The number of voice searches continues to grow rapidly, as 41 percent of adults say they have only started using voice search during the last six months of 2017 and 19 percent reported that they started using it at some point in the first half of 2017. By comparison, only 11 percent of people say that they have been using it for more than three years.

How is Voice Search Different than Traditional Search?

There are many ways that voice search and traditional search are different, but five things naturally rise to the top. Voice search users:

• Use conversational speech

• Ask queries based on location

• Provide a better understanding of their intent

• Count on featured snippets

• Want personal assistance

How successful companies can implement voice search SEO

User Queries

Traditionally, companies have relied on between one- to three-word search phrases to connect with users. As users turn to more voice searches, longtail keywords will become more important. Concentrate on answering questions that might be asked by people if they picked up the phone and called your company. One study looked at over 1,000 voice search queries and found that what and how-to questions were the most popular followed by when, where, who and why questions.

Location-based Voice Search

Since about 69 percent of all voice searches are done from a mobile device, it naturally follows that people may be looking for locations close to them. Therefore, brick-and-mortar companies should start by making a landing page for each of their physical locations. That page should include local landmarks like popular attractions, local schools and other places of local interest. Make sure that you have claimed your Google My Business account for each location. Use Google Posts to keep these listings updated with sales or special events. Use schema to connect websites to local locations and name, address, phone number (NAP) consistency through citations (these are all aspects of SEO).

User Intent

With traditional searches, it’s very difficult to determine user intent. For example, a person might type “recliner” into the search box, but Google and other search engines have no way of knowing what the searcher really wants to know. They could want to know where to buy a recliner, how to make a recliner or how to make a recliner comfortable for sleeping. Since voice searches are typically longer, it is easier to determine the user’s exact intent. This allows companies to do search engine optimization for voice search based specifically on each query type allowing them to meet user intent better.

Featured Snippets

In January 2018, Google announced that 80 percent of Google Home answers came from featured snippets. While snippets may be paragraphs, lists or tables, most of the ones used for voice search are either paragraphs or lists. Since most featured snippets come from pages that rank in the top 10 places, it is important to use white-hat search engine optimization methods to make sure that you are one of the top-ranking websites. Again, using schema, claiming your Google My Business and having a content strategy all seem to improve the odds of ranking higher in your niche. Aim at answering questions succinctly, stick to the facts and present them in a well-organized manner. Creating a list of frequently asked questions is often a great place to start but keep your answers under 45 words when possible.

Provide Personal Assistance

Siri, Echo, Alexa and Google Home are all programmed to remember important facts about the user. Companies must find a way to tie their SEO for voice search into what customers are wanting to accomplish, with their phones or smart devices. Think about how you can create pages that will allow potential customers to order your product or service using only their voice. Make it easy for them to connect with a person who can further handle their questions. Show how your product will help keep them safer or more entertained. Prove that your product is based on the latest research.

While many companies are still trying to cope with making their sites mobile-friendly, the forward-thinking companies are already optimizing for voice search SEO. The trend is only going to get stronger over the next few years. Optimize for voice search now and stay ahead of the trend. Your ROI will be well worth the time and effort. Contact our SEO experts at Epic Marketing to learn more about what we can do to escalate your business!

3 Fundamental Pillars of SEO Techniques

Moz recently stated that Google changes their algorithm 500-600 times a year. If their algorithm changes this frequently, shouldn’t your SEO strategy be changing too?

SEO is fundamental to boosting your organic search rankings and building your presence online. When done right, SEO can improve your company’s bottom line (leads, sales, etc.).

So what is SEO and what makes up a good SEO strategy? These are the three fundamental pillars of SEO and our techniques for building on them:
Structure
Content
Authority

SEO Pillar #1: Structure

There’s a technical side of SEO that people don’t really talk about, but it’s crucial for your long-term SEO efforts. Whenever we approach a new website or client we do a website audit to find the technical issues that either prevent Google from indexing it or that go against Google’s best practices. Here, we look at things like:

• Broken links
• Broken images
• Site speed
• HTML tags
• Internal linking
• External linking
• Sitemap errors
• Robot.txt errors
• Schema implementation

Fixing these errors make it easier for Google to crawl your site, rank you in the correct location and industry niche, and increase your visibility online.

SEO Pillar #2: Content

Google likes to know that your business is an active, relevant member of the web. To be seen as active, you should be releasing new content regularly and that content should be up to date. Google favors new content over old content and they want to know that you’re relevant to the industry you’re trying to rank in. Your content needs to be informative and focused on concepts that relate to the users intent.

If you want to do this effectively, you need to start by doing keyword research. There are a lot of resources to use for keyword research, but a few that Epic’s digital team uses are Google’s AdWords Planner, Answer the Public, and Ahrefs’ keyword explorer tool. Focus your time on keywords and create content that will benefit your users. There are 5 main types of searches that businesses should be aware of as they try to target content toward specific customers:

search engine optimization utah

Search intent is a big part of content creation and through trial and error, you’ll find your sweet spot.

Content is also where you have the chance to really localize your business. Localizing your content and site (technical SEO techniques), helps Google know where you’re located, what services you offer in that location, and ultimately decides your place in the local pack for certain keywords.

digital marketing utah

Through unique, quality content, keyword research, and listening to customer demand, you can own your industry online.

We’re hoping your question “What is SEO?” is getting answered slowly..

SEO Pillar #3: Authority

The higher you rank for relevant keywords, the more potential clients and current customers will see you as an authority. Google ranked you well because of the authority they think you have and the industry knowledge portrayed on your website (along with all of the technical factors we talked about). To gain higher authority, you can do things like gain backlinks from high authority sites, social references from respected accounts, have a content marketing strategy, make sure your NAP (name, address, phone number) listings are consistent through quality citations, and last but not least, do competitor analysis.

Doing a deep dive of your competitors’ site and rankings can help you find content gaps on your own site. We use a program called Screaming Frog to analyze their content. Pair that with Ahrefs’ content gap analysis and site explorer tool. This allows you to view your overlap areas with competitors, where you rank and they don’t, and what they rank for that you don’t. This is a great tool to help you create content that you know that your potential customers are interested in. The site explorer tool allows you to see their organic search, backlinks, referring domains, and paid search. Finding the gaps in their online marketing strategy can play to your benefit.

After you’ve put a strategy into place using the SEO techniques we’ve talked about above, measure your success. Did it work? Here are some KPI’s to look at on a monthly basis (if not more often):

• Traffic by channel
• Top entry pages
• Rankings
• Conversions from organic traffic
• Time on site
• Average page views
• Bounce rate

No one expects you to change your SEO techniques 500-600 per year, but adapting to the changes in search engine algorithms is essential to boosting your organic rankings, increasing your reputation online and to understand what is SEO. If you have any more questions, reach out to our SEO experts here at Epic Marketing.

Content Marketing Strategy Must-Haves for Your Website

Content marketing is its own kind of marketing beast. If it’s fed properly, it can be as majestic as a lion, king of the jungle and ready to engage. If it’s not given the proper digital diet and care, the content on your site lags like a sloth, unuseful and unseen at the bottom of Google’s SERPs (search engine result pages).

The good news is there are simple techniques that content marketers can use to help your website gain traction with search engines. These techniques provide the nutrition your site needs to continue to grow and thrive in the online jungle.

Here are five common components that you may want to incorporate into your content marketing strategy in order to help your site dominate search in your niche.

Too busy/lazy to read the whole thing? Here’s an infographic.

1. Call to Action

According to Optimizely.com, a call to action (or CTA) is a prompt of sorts that ask the viewer to act on a specific request. Some typical examples of CTAs include:

• Sign up now
• Buy now
• Learn more by clicking here
• Contact us today

The CTA is a common feature of the sales funnel and is one of the most important features. It increases sales and newsletter memberships. A simple call to action also allows you to extend the reach of your marketing efforts without having to do much.

The best CTAs are easy to read and stand out on the page according to HubSpot. Take, for example, DropBox’s bright blue sign-up button that stands out against its all-white background.

dropbox logo

Other effective calls to action include Panthera’s “Join the pride today,” which appeals to cat lovers; Quick Sprout’s “Are you doing your SEO wrong?”; and OkayCupid’s bright green “continue” button on the dark blue background.

2. Local Relevancy

When it comes to digital marketing, few techniques can help a local business owner out as much as having local SEO content on their website. As Yoast points out, most people who use local search terms aren’t looking to buy online. Instead, they need information that will direct them to a local brick-and-mortar store, where they can take the next step.

To attract these customers, you’re going to need to do a couple of things. First, you need to make sure that you’re using unique localized content for each page. Basically, this means that even if you have an office in two different cities for the same business, the content for each page won’t be carbon copies of each other.

You’ll also want to add your business’s contact information (name, address, phone number, email, etc.). Moz additionally recommends that you put a Google map on your site. All of this type of information helps search engines categorize your site correctly.

Additionally, you should be using keywords/ keyword phrases with a local flair. For example, if you’re a dentist in Fort Worth, Texas, make sure that your business’s website uses words like “Fort Worth dentists” or “dentists in Fort Worth” throughout.

3. Internal Links

The internal linking strategy that you use on your site is important. It shows search engines like Google the relevance of pages, the relationship between pages and the value of the pages.

There should be a lot of links to the most important topic-related pages, the ones that pass the most link value. From there, link to subpages about similar content. You want Google to see what pages have similar topics and information.

The anchor text used in linking is also important. Anchor text is the clickable text that your reader sees. It should contain keywords or relevant content to what it’s linked to. The content around your anchor text says more about relevancy to Google than the anchor itself, so be sure that you aren’t over-optimizing.

4. SEO Components

SEO elements like metadata, subheadings, alt text, and other components also help your website rank better by making it easier for search engines to categorize your content.

Metadata includes title tags and meta descriptions. Title tags indicate to search engines what your page is about. It’s currently recommended that title tags stay below 70 characters and include localization. Meta descriptions are written so the reader can understand what information your content is going to give them. These typically include a CTA and it’s recommended they stay below 140 characters.

Another important thing to have are headings. An H1 is the title of your page. It’s an HTML code that search engines crawl to understand what your page is about. It’s similar to a title tag, and oftentimes are the same. You should only have one H1 on each page so search engines don’t get confused about the topic of your page. Subheadings should be labeled as h2, h3 and so on.

For example, let’s say you’ve written a blog post about Alice in Wonderland. In this example, this is the H1 for your page. Some of the subheadings that might appear on your blog post would be “Alice Meets Hatter,” “Alice Cries a Pool of Tears,” “Alice Meets the Red Queen.” These subheadings give the reader a preview of what they’re going to read next. In this case, the content will be about the Mad Hatter, the pool of tears, and the Red Queen.

Finally, visual elements like photos and illustrations should have alt text that tells search engines what the photo is about. Going back to the Alice example, if you have a photo of Alice in her pool of tears, the alt text and file name should include that.

alice in her pool of tears

content marketing utah

5. Up-to-Date Content

Keeping the content on your website up-to-date is important because it signals to search engines that your website is current and you’re actively contributing to the web. Along with helping you build your reputation with search engines as an expert in your niche, it also helps keep your site at the top of the SERPs as long as the content is relevant and useful.

Typically, search engines favor new and relevant content over old and outdated content. And given the fact that millions of new pages of content are created daily, content updates are one of the simplest things you can do in your content marketing efforts to keep your site on top.

By incorporating calls to action, local relevancy, internal links, SEO components and up-to-date content you can make sure you have a majestic lion. It’s good to be king.

Content Marketing Strategy Infographic

 

A Guide to Google Posts: Connect with More Clients

When someone searches your business on Google, you want to be front and center. To do this, you need to incorporate PPC ads and have your Google My Business profile filled out completely. To add to this, Google introduced a feature in 2017 that lets you include a post with your local listing to tell customers and potential customers about:

• Events

• Products

• Promotions/specials

• Announcements

For local businesses, this means your listing stands out and gets more views and clicks to your site. This also helps current customers stay connected with what’s happening at your business. Your Google post should be brief, useful and call your customers to act on something.

Here’s an example we created for Epic. You’ll see that it shows on desktop and mobile.

Here’s what it looks like on desktop:

marketing google post

Here’s what it looks like on mobile:

ad agency utahIf you click on the post, you can see more info:

epic marketing agency utah

How to Create a Google Post

Log into your Google My Business listing and select “Posts”

digital marketing utah

After clicking on that, you’ll see a field that says”Write your post.”

From there you can add photos, descriptions, make it an event and add a button.

marketing company utah

Keys to Writing a Great Google Post

Post type: What are you sharing? Are you holding an event? Are you promoting an offer or special deal? Does your business have exciting news to share? Whether it’s to encourage customers to buy something or to announce a new change, consider what you want the post to do and what action people should take after reading it.

Photo: Your photo should draw attention to your post so that it stands out. The resolution should be 720px by 540px and should be simple yet direct.

Title: If you’re posting an event, you have the option of describing your event in 58 characters.

Detail: Although Google suggests keeping your description between 100-300 words, you have a character limit of 1,500. Be clear about what the event or offer includes.

Call to action: What do you want your customers to do? Include instructions like “Buy now”, “Reserve a spot”, “Call”, etc.

**Quick note: You don’t need to include your business name as it already will appear in the post. It’s recommended that you use all of the fields Google provides you with to maximize your impression.

To learn more about Google posts, get more tips and see more examples, visit the Google My Business Help Center or if you have additional questions for our SEO experts and your business, contact Epic Marketing today!

Making Local SEO Work for Your Business

Every company needs to actively engage in local search engine optimization to be successful.

Google can make or break your business, and with most people not venturing past the second page in Google’s search, you’re missing out on potential customers by not having a content strategy and doing proper keyword research.

One of the biggest hurdles that companies face when crafting their search engine optimization strategy is competing with the biggest players in the market. If you’re a pizza restaurant, for example, you’ll go up against industry titans like Pizza Hut and Papa Johns if you’re trying to be found for a term like “pizza”. These companies have huge budgets and spend millions of dollars on marketing to stay at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs). Most businesses don’t have the bandwidth or budget to compete head to head. What you can do though is focus on local SEO services offered to you.

Local search engine optimization operates on the same principles as the marketing you’re already doing. The difference is that it targets potential customers within a specific geographic area. With this, you’re speaking directly to the people who are in proximity to your business and therefore more likely to buy your product. Plus, you have a much better shot of showing up higher in the SERPs, it’s a win-win!

What Is Local Search Engine Optimization?

Local SEO services involve strategically choosing your keywords and adding in a specific geographic location. So, if you’re the pizza restaurant from our earlier example, you would use a keyword like “Pizza in Portland, Oregon” or simply “Pizza in Portland”. You’ll reach people in that area who are looking for a good slice and able to give your restaurant a try! Using a keyword research tool like Google’s keyword planner allows you to research how often a term is searched and make any adjustments to your organic and paid strategy.

What Are The Benefits Of Localizing Your SEO Strategy?

Localization does two things for you: it makes you a larger fish in a smaller pond which allows you to rise up through the search engine rankings more quickly and it puts you in touch with people who are both interested in your product and physically able to obtain it. If you’re interested in expanding your business to a larger market, localization helps tremendously. Building local credibility prior to establishing a national or international presence is essential. If you want to cement yourself as an authority in your town or city, local SEO is the key. Utilizing techniques like NAP consistency (name, address, phone number), local citations and meta data, you can dominate.

How Do You Localize Your Digital Marketing Strategy?

The first step is integrating properly localized keywords into your content. Write your website content and any supplementary blog posts with this purpose in mind. This will help you tremendously in organic rankings. Consider running Google AdWords alongside your organic campaign. Many successful companies run SEO and a Google PPC campaigns in tandem for maximum success. Together they add exposure on the SERPs and can help combat negative PR with keyword research. If you run a local PPC campaign, you’ll pay a lot less than you would for a generic, non-localized term and reach the more of the customers you want.

You can also leverage your social media platforms to enhance your local search engine optimization. Facebook ads are highly targeted and localized. The landscape of social is constantly changing, especially with the emergence of different advertising opportunities. Facebook has customizable audience options to target those who would be most interested. The data you collect from social campaigns might uncover other details about what audiences you really should be targeting and help you refine your overall SEO strategy.

Be sure that your website is completely responsive (mobile friendly). Google’s most recent algorithm is mobile-focused and takes into account if your site enhances the customer experience. There is a strong trend towards searching on mobile devices that isn’t changing anytime soon. People won’t tolerate pinching and zooming in on their smartphones anymore. Make your website as attractive and as user-friendly as possible.

Why Localized SEO Is Smart SEO

Local SEO is all about strategy. Focusing on local customers is an excellent way to boost your business. You’ll compete with fewer big players, attract customers who are physically able to consume your products or services and establish yourself as a local authority. This type of marketing is so important that even some big players, like Coke and Pepsi, are focusing on local markets to appeal to consumers in their hometowns. The advantage you have? You are actually a local business in your town, not an outside player. You can speak to people in person and you’ll stand out as a small business who serves the community. Don’t underestimate the support that a small business can get from their loyal patrons.

By employing smart keyword focus and maximizing social media platforms to emphasize your appeal locally, you’re making a smart business move that will pay huge dividends in the future! When evaluating your content and marketing strategy, stop thinking global and start thinking local. Contact Epic Marketing in Draper, Utah to see how we can boost your marketing through Epic’s digital local SEO services.