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How Important is Google to Local Businesses?

In the digital marketing world, we focus a good portion of our efforts on getting found or showing up in Google and Google-owned networks for a good reason. In case you haven’t noticed, Google pretty much owns everything related to the internet. Of course, this is an overstatement,  but their products and related advertising tools have extensive reach and can be extremely valuable to businesses owners, particularly those in our North Canton community.

Consider Google’s Dominance  

Google’s DominanceDid you know that Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second? That works out to over 3.5 billion searches per day! You can’t afford to ignore how your business appears when people search for it – or what people are saying about you online.

Consider Google’s Economic ImpactEconomic Impact of Google

In the state of Ohio in 2015, over 34,000 businesses and non-profits benefited from using Google and it’s various advertising tools such as Adwords and Adsense. Google estimates it helped generate $2.92 billion in economic activity for Ohio alone (nationally over $165 billion). The potential economic impact is another reason why every small business should have a plan for utilizing Google.

Consider Google’s Local Rankings

Small businesses specifically have an advantage in their local markets because Google is very focused on returning results that are unique to the location where a search takes place, as well as the best possible result for the users. Google does this by considering these three factors for local results:

1. Relevance

2. Distance

3. Prominence

There is not much you can do about the distance factor in this equation. However, the Relevance and Prominence portions are areas you can influence. Every local business needs a local presence on Google, which requires a plan for providing relevant information to the search engines and for building prominence within the online community.

For many businesses, the local population, will be the most significant customer base. And even if your business reaches national or global markets, how you appear locally in Google can be an indication of your domestic or global presence.

Consider Google’s Potential Traffic  

When time, effort and budget are directed towards a businesses local search presence the results can be amazing. Consider this example of a client whGoogle Traffic o shifted their focus to providing Relevance and showing Prominence in their local search area.

After implementing a strategic optimization plan over a three-month span, their result was a 63% increase in organic traffic from Google! This increase in organic traffic allowed them to cut their PPC budget by more than $6,000 a month while maintaining continual growth in web traffic.

An additional benefit often seen is an impact on Bing and Yahoo traffic. While the user groups on these search engines are much smaller, they work in nearly the same way as Google does so your optimization efforts will carry over exposing your business to even more users.

Larry Page and Serge Brin, Google’s founders, once wrote: “Our goal is to deliver services that significantly improve the lives of as many people as possible.” Even though Google has become the giant monster that it is, their philosophy still holds true today. Capitalizing on Google’s dominance in the digital world and focusing on your local rankings can allow your business to thrive in the digital world and significantly improve your life.

If you are not sure where to start when it comes to Google or how your business appears in Google locally give us a call, leave a comment or fill out our contact form. Together we can build a strategic optimization plan and get your business showing up where it counts!

How Important is Google

content-pyramid-iconOver a decade ago we were preaching “content is king” – long before the field of content marketing was an actual thing. Sure good design, great page layout, and mobile friendly design are important. But it’s great content – and the presentation of that content – that ultimately sells your business.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking to a group of publishers at a seminar in Orlando on various digital marketing topics. One of the sessions I facilitated was an open discussion on “riding the jump to mobile” in which we discussed how mobile, especially in that particular industry, is really driving the approach to how we plan and present websites. One of the participants asked a great question; one that we hear frequently from the businesses with whom we work:

“People keep telling me that pages need to have less and less copy, especially for mobile users. Is that right?”

The answer? Sometimes – but not always!

It’s a commonly perpetuated myth that users don’t want to read; that all website pages should be short and visual with little copy. Instead, we are finding that website visitors will consistently spend a good deal of time reading long and in-depth articles if the topic interests them or meets a specific need. Long-form content, or articles over 1,000 words, are making a strong comeback – largely as a result of the mobile explosion. Users no longer prefer to click around to other pages or navigate through a series; they want to get all the information available with one click.

Not all of your website copy should be treated the same. Here’s a glimpse into how to take a strategic approach to planning your website copy.

Strategic Approach to Planning Website Content

A helpful picture for planning your website content is to think of it as a pyramid. At the top you have the least amount of information, as you go down a level it grows, and at the bottom it is most expansive.

content-pyramid-small
Download Graphic as a PDF

The key approach to remember here is that you provide bite-sized chunks on the main pages of your website – a sampling of what is available and important – and use it to entice readers further into the site. The deeper you go, the more specific detail and in-depth information you give on individual topics. And if you have plenty to say that is valuable to a customer, don’t be afraid to use as many words as are necessary to do it as you get deeper into the site.

These high quality, descriptive, detailed, deep pages are great for searchers who have specific questions and often want to learn all they can – without having to make a phone call.

Best Practices for All Website Pages

No matter the approach, poorly written or formatted copy will kill a visit no matter how few or many words it contains. Here are three best practices you need to keep in mind that apply to all the pages of your site.

Pages Should be 250 Words Minimum

When it comes to developing best practices for copy and search optimization, what Google says is generally what goes. And for good reasons: Google owns the search market, and in the vast majority of cases the largest single source of traffic to your website is Google.

Google is clear that each page of your website should have a minimum of 250 words of unique copy (so not counting header, footer, or sidebar material). If it doesn’t make that minimum, it will be held back in the search results.

Format for Readability

HTML markup such as headers and subheaders are critical for search engine optimization and for your readers. Using shorter sentences, paragraphs of alternating length, and good organization and formatting makes your content easy to scan and enjoyable to read. Make good use of:

  • An engaging page title (be descriptive and convey action)
  • Headers and subheaders
  • Bullet and/or number points for lists
  • Link to other pages on your site when you mention topics that are covered in more depth elsewhere
  • Bold sentences that convey key ideas
  • End with a specific call to action related to the page’s topic

Good formatting is key on short pages and long-form articles alike. Need an example? Follow how this post is formatted!

Write Quality

Every page of your website should be well-written, unique, and convey important information, key messaging points, benefits and differentiators, calls to action and your unique personality. Cookie-cutter or typo-ridden pages waste your time and your visitor’s time. And ultimately they drive potential customers away.

Great Copy is Strategy, Not Just Writing

Website content that converts visitors into customers requires strategy, not just well-written copy. And it certainly requires more than simply copying and pasting from a brochure or other materials.

Want to get started with a strategic plan for how you write and present your business through website content?

Contact Sanctuary Marketing Group today for a free assessment. Our team of strategists and writers will help you develop a content plan that grows your business.

Shorter Isn’t Always Better: Strategic Approaches to Mobile Copy
Local Search Ranking Factors

Ever wonder what it takes to rank high in the search engines? Ranking factors, despite being perceived as a great mystery, are in reality relatively straight forward. Create great content, get people to link to it, make sure your business listings are in order and you’re all set! Of course, I’m oversimplifying things. There’s a bit more to it than this, however knowing what the search engines are looking at provides a perfect place to start.

Every year the top SEO service providers pull their shared experiences, tests, and case studies to produce a Top Ranking Factors list.

For local business owners, this list is a valuable resource for deciding where to spend time and budget to put your business in the best possible position to be found in the search engines.

Check out this infographic on the top Local Ranking Factors.

Local Search Ranking Factors

Sanctuary provides optimization services for local businesses. Let us help you get your business showing up at the top of the search engines.

Search Engine Local Ranking Factors
Black-Hat-SEO

Back in 2012, Chris Auman wrote an article titled “5 SEO Tactics to Avoid at all Costs.” Needless to say, a lot has changed over the past four years when it comes to digital marketing and SEO.

Despite all the information on the web about how search optimization has changed and what not to do when it comes to SEO, we still find many companies dealing with old SEO tactics. Perhaps these are still around because of a less than reputable SEO provider or maybe just because companies haven’t had the time or budget to addressed their approach to search optimization.

With that in mind, we thought it would be a good idea to revisit these tactics for a little refresher on what you should not be doing. What Chris wrote in 2012 is still very much relevant in 2016.

 

Top 5 SEO tactics to avoid at all cost Black-Hat-SEO

#1: Keyword Stuffing – Keyword stuffing may happen if you are writing about something that requires certain keywords to be repeatedly used but it is still something that needs attention. While overusing certain keywords once worked to get your site or blog bumped to the top of a Google search, it now has the opposite effect. Saturating your piece with the same words over and over is a clear abuse of SEO and can now get you booted from search. Also, it makes the content clunky to read.

#2: Paying for Links – Having links and backlinks is something else that should happen naturally. Paying for this type of connection is considered unethical and will probably not get you the results you want. Creating fake websites just to increase the backlinks to your site is not an ethical practice to follow, which ties into the next point.

#3: Hiring someone to leave fake comments or to write false reviews and testimonials – The idea is that you should be attracting authentic versions of these for other users to see. If you want to encourage visitors to your blog or users of your product to leave real comments, reviews or testimonials that is one thing. If you go out of your way creating false reviews, you are operating with black hat marketing techniques.

#4: Hidden or Invisible Text – This is the practice of using text that cannot be seen by visitors to a site or blog but is detected by search engines. Again, it is considered a less than ethical tactic to use to rank higher on search engines. Using hidden text is seen as a form of spam,  frowned upon by most and if used, the site runs the risk of incurring a penalty from the search engines.

#5: Using Misspellings – This happens when you create content using keywords that are commonly misspelled as part of your content marketing plan. Using the misspelled version of the word but directing it to the correctly spelled version is frowned upon and not a good practice to get in the habit of for SEO.

While it may be tempting to use some tricks that are “in the gray area” you will more than likely be sorry you did. In the long run, it is never worth using these types of black hat approaches to SEO. Yes, it may take more time to build up the desired effect from white hat techniques, but the results will be better and longer lasting.

 

Avoid making these mistakes, whether intentional or not. If you are not sure whether your site falls into these traps or not or need direction on how to update your marketing approach, contact us. Sanctuary Marketing group has Digital Marketing strategists who are experts at this, and we’re here to help.

5 Sketchy SEO Tactics
Internal Linking Plan

Internal Linking PlanWhen reviewing a site from an SEO perspective, one thing I always include on my checklist is internal linking. We can usually tell how well a site is optimized by looking over the linking strategy. Implementing a linking strategy is a key step in optimizing your site, so it should be a part of your overall strategy.

We often assume just because we create a page and publish it that Google will find, index and rank that page. It’s the same line of thought as constructing a baseball diamond in the middle of a corn field. The “build it and they will come” mentality may work if the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson tells people to visit the baseball diamond (Field of Dreams reference), but in the online world this is not the case.

Think of internal links as a network of road signs that will tell Google where to go and what to look at. Driving down the interstate, you look for signs to direct you to your exit, and so does Google. Internal links direct the search spiders down the road of your website. Without these links, the spiders may just ‘drive on by’ the exit and miss your page. Eventually, it may be indexed but to help get the job done faster you need internal links.

 

The top 5 ways I approach internal linking

1) Use Main Navigation

Internal Linking

Putting links on pages that are in the main navigation means that those pages are just 1-2 clicks away. A page that is 1-2 clicks away from the homepage can carry some of the link equity through from the homepage. It also helps bring pages that are deeper in the site up on the IA ladder. However, filling the main navigation with links to every page is a bad idea, so don’t do that. Read more about User Friendly Navigations.

 

2) Use Your Homepage

The homepage is typically the most visited page on a site. This means a large portion of traffic is flowing through here. Utilize the homepage to gain exposure to high-value pages. This will do two things: First it will tell your visitors what is important and direct them to pages that are going to make you money. Secondly it will send a signal to Google and other search engines that these are important pages for them to crawl, index and rank. Links on a homepage are as important as the design of the homepage.

 

3) Capitalize on Popular Pages

This is my favorite tactic for starters. Capitalize on popular pages within your site. Find out which pages have the most external links (and presumably the most authority), pull this list together, and start dropping links to these pages throughout the site. This is a great way to build and share the link equity. External links are a completely different discussion but work in a similar manner. There are many different ways of gaining external links, just watch out for Google Penguins when doing so.

 

4) Use Breadcrumbs

A breadcrumb is a perfect place to capitalize on anchor text using targeted terms. Breadcrumbs also allows for several pages to link directly to each other. They can have 3 or more levels of links which allow for link equity to flow through each page. We always recommend using a breadcrumb whenever possible. They are part of our Best Practice for local SEO and rankings.

 

5)  Develop a Content Hub

Develop a hub of content that is similar or related. This hub will allow for curation of content that can be linked together. When content that is related is linked together, it provides context for the users and will help link equity flow between the pages. It also allows pages to be linked together that might never be connected otherwise. Blogs, related post plugins, categories, and pagination are all ways to achieve this.
These are just a few ways of executing good internal linking. Remember, internal linking is the thread that connects different pages of your site no matter how they are separated. With proper implementation, a good internal linking plan can be another notch in your SEO belt and provide one more signal to Google that you are ready to be found.

 

Get Help with Internal Linking & Digital Marketing for Your North Canton Business

Sanctuary Marketing Group in North Canton can help with developing a strong internal linking strategy. Give us a call @ 330-266-1188 or contact us here to talk with our strategist. We specialize in helping North Canton, Ohio businesses grow through effective digital marketing.

Internal Linking Tactics
Yelp Reviews

Google Stars They say any press is good press in Hollywood. In some cases that might be true, but in the respected business world a bad review can set a business back and do damage to the bottom line. Local businesses depend heavily on word of mouth, column reviews, Yelp reviews and other types of positive press to grow their business. But what happens when someone posts a negative review?

An average customer who has a positive or pleasant experience is less likely to leave a review without being prompted. However, if a customer perceives a negative experience, they are highly likely to express their opinion without any prompting. Thanks to the explosion of social media, these negative opinions can spread like wildfire and be very difficult to overcome.

As a local business in North Canton, it’s critical that you make a dedicated effort to build a library of online reviews that enhances your business’s credibility and showcases both the positive experiences and your positive responses to negative experiences alike. Here is a compilation of Sanctuary’s top advice for developing healthy online reviews.

 

Overcoming Bad Online Reviews

Wreck-it-Ralph said, “I am bad, and that is good, I will never be good and that’s not bad, there’s no one I’d rather be than me.” You can think of a bad review in the same way. Bad reviews can often shed light on deeper issues and if treated the proper way can build strong relationships between a business and its customers.

Yelp Reviews Chris Auman addresses this subject in his article “Why Online Reviews are Important and How to Get Them.

His first rule of thumb is simple, Don’t Fear Reviews.

“There will always be difficult customers and you can deal with them directly. But if you run a reputable business, your overall reviews should give an accurate picture of your business. If you’re afraid of reviews then maybe you have deeper business issues to deal with.”

It may sound backward, but dealing with negative reviews is the first step in getting positive reviews. It’s a reflection of your business model, which dictates how your business operates. “A perfect business isn’t one with perfect reviews; it’s one that deals with their reviews and feedback perfectly.” – Mike Ramsey.
Continue reading Online Reviews Are Important…

 

Onsite vs. Offsite Reviews

Part of combatting negative reviews is having plenty of believable positive reviews from happy customers. , And that’s why offsite reviews are important.

It’s a great practice to have onsite reviews and testimonies from real people. Nothing helps to sell your business better than the words of a happy customer. BUT we all know that onsite testimonials have been cherry-picked. We’ve even seen some that are completely false and made-up. As a society, we’ve become very cynical and untrusting of these reviews. A sad state to be in, but nonetheless it’s where we are.

Chris Auman states “The key to an effective review strategy is to encourage reviews on external web sites. If a business has a substantial amount of good, offsite reviews on external websites, it will instill confidence that real people have given their honest opinions about a business. But more importantly, reviews are an important signal that Google uses to determine search results.”
Continue reading Onsite vs. Offsite Reviews …

 

Getting Reviews in Google

review-us

Getting positive reviews in Google is important. They will show in the search results, and the more you have the better positioned you will be to outshine the competition. We’re talking more than just reviews from other sites showing up in a Google search; we’re talking about Google+ and those coveted gold stars!

Google doesn’t make this incredibly easy for users to do, but that is the point. They don’t want countless, mindless reviews flooding the market – and neither do you. Reviews are always a matter of quality over quantity.

There are ways to get reviews in Google, which you can read about in our post “How to get Reviews for Your Business on Google Plus.

The number one way to do it is to ask for it. A follow-up email after purchase, a link in a Thank-You page or a card you hand out with steps to follow are all good ways to achieve this. Remember, people are slow to post a review unless they’ve had a bad experience, so you have to ask for them. Amazon figured this out a long time ago and if you’ve ever bought something from them, you’ve received a follow-up email 5-7 days later asking for a review. It’s good practice.

However, asking and paying for reviews are two different things. Do NOT pay for reviews. It’s not worth it, and if you are a small business you could get into troubled waters that are hard to get out of. And it should go without saying that paying for reviews is  simply an unethical practice.
Continue reading Getting Reviews in Google + …

 

Get Help with Online Reviews for Your North Canton Business

There is a lot to know about encouraging good reviews on Google+. Allow Sanctuary Digital Marketing Group to manage the gathering and promotion of your positive reviews. Contact us today for a no-cost, upfront marketing consultation. We can take a look at your whole internet presence and tell you what’s working and what’s not.

Call 330.266.1188 and tell us a bit about your North Canton business. Let’s chat about your marketing needs and how Sanctuary can facilitate your online marketing presence.

Getting Online Reviews
Cross Device Conversions

As a business owner in North Canton, there is no doubt that you have seen the shift of marketing. From mailings to local newspaper advertisements then to the need to have a website. Now you hear rumors of the growth in mobile device usage and the complete, utter necessity to have a website that can handle the Mobilegeddon transition.

With all that you juggle, between inventory reports and employee management, my hope is that Sanctuary Marketing Group can be a helping hand in your digital marketing efforts. For that reason, this is what we have been learning about mobile marketing. Most of this will be directly tied to a webinar offered by Marin Software and SocialMoov, but I’m boiling it down you can understand and hopefully apply these mobile marketing insights. Here we go!

Mobile Use is Growing

Foremost, the reason that we are even having this conversation is because mobile devices and mobile device usage is growing, therefore mobile marketing is growing. Most of us wake up with phones in our hands and are also put to sleep by their glowing screens. Think about your day today, how many times have you used your phone? Personally, I have packed the following mobile device usage into my day:

  • Turned off my phone’s alarm clock.
  • Checked my email.
  • Scanned social media.
  • Texted my brother (all of that before getting out of bed).
  • I used the timer on my phone to know when to finish my french press.
  • I checked my bank account.
  • Rescheduled a bill payment.
  • Read a chapter of a book.
  • Played a game
    …and it is not even 11:00 AM!

Neni Pogarcic (Global Search Lead, Google) pointed out on the webinar that this is not an atypical morning for those of us going about our day. Not only that, but most of this can be done without even touching a computer. With that in mind, how are you going to appropriately reach the many who traverse their morning without touching traditional Google search or a desktop computer? The next question, beyond reaching those individuals, is how are you going to provide means for them to convert?

On-Device Conversions, Now Think Cross-Device

Device conversions, particularly in the world of digital marketing, used to be computers only, but think through all the conversions that take place on your phone now. Think for a moment, how many devices have you used today and how many conversions have taken place? 98% of users say they are cross-device users throughout the day. Users quickly bounce between websites, tablet apps, and smartphone notifications. Are you, as a local business owner, catering to the next generation of buyers?

Cross Device Conversions

Can My North Canton Business Win the Mobile War?

Here are three steps to succeed with mobile:

Three Steps to succeed with mobile
1) Incredible Experiences

While many understand that the desktop version of your website should include as much detail as possible, Google has spent a lot of time recently on spelling out the absolute best mobile design for websites, especially for businesses. Google has business owners ask questions about how close together your website’s buttons are, how wordy your pages are, and how usable your mobile website is? You can learn all about that in our summary of their updates — basically, ask yourself how easy it is to use and convert on your website? We’re here to help if you need any suggestions or work done. Just let us know your need help!

2) Relevant Advertising

Advertising should always aim to be relevant, but when you’re seeking to land on a mobile device it has to be all the more fine tuned. Do you know your audience and do you know how to reach them? Marketers have mere moments to reach individuals when they’re using their mobile devices (Google calls this Micro-Moments). Are you providing the absolute best imagery, copy text and advertisement destination URLs for your audience?

3) Insightful Measurement

If you are not appropriately measuring your efforts and providing insightful reporting, you might as well put a stop to all that you are doing. By putting the proper measures in place, you can use the results (whether positive or negative) from your efforts to refine future efforts.

This is a very brief summation of notes from the webinar The Path to Mobile Success, hosted by Neni Pogarcic (Global Search Lead, Google), Luca Angeli (Analytics Manager and Bidding Optimization Specialist, Marin Software) and Hoiling Wong (Product Marketing Manager, Marin Software).

The team at Sanctuary Marketing Group is available to help answer any questions that you have about Mobile Marketing.

Three Steps for Mobile Success
Local Mobile Search

You already have a mobile friendly site? Better be sure of that! On April 21, 2015 Google’s mobile ranking factors will kick in. Those who do not have a mobile friendly site will begin to see a “significant impact” in their search results, according to Google. This roll out will happen over the course of a week and will be a “Yes/No” on whether your site is mobile-friendly or not, there are no degrees of mobile-friendliness in this algorithm.

Mobile Usability
Our Mobile Planet: Understanding the Mobile Customer

Mobile is something we all should have been paying attention to anyway. According to a survey sponsored by Google and Ipsos MediaCT, smartphones have become an indispensable part of our daily lives. Smartphone penetration has risen to 56% of the population, and Smartphone owners are becoming increasingly reliant on their devices. In 2013, it was reported that 67% of smartphone users accessed the internet everyday on their phone and most never leave home without it. These number have undoubtedly risen.

Google is now stepping up the game with this update by ‘requiring’ businesses to have a mobile friendly website to be found in mobile search results. And it makes sense: Google wants to deliver results that their users can be happy using. As a business, you should have the same goal! Make your site easy for people use, and they will use it. To be clear, this will mostly likely only affect non-branded searches done through Google on your browser or the Google App. Those searching for branded terms will likely not see any changes in the results.

Local Mobile SearchOur smartphones allow us to research anything, anywhere. The moment an idea crosses our mind we can pull out our phone and begin the process of getting “more input.” Statics tells us that 94% of smartphone users have looked for local information on their device, and 57% of these users do it once a week, with a whopping 25% doing it every day. Being optimized for local search is a key part of being found.

So how do you make sure you’re ready for April 21st?

Usually updates come up with little or no notice, but Google said it wanted sites to prepare; so, you have some time to make your website mobile-friendly which is a big benefit for business owners. Assuming you have a mobile site already some of the usability issues can be quickly fixed to comply with what Google is looking for. We do offer web design services that can quickly identify any issues, and affordably provide you with a solution. If you don’t have a mobile site at all, we can help with that too.

Identify Mobile Usability Issues

Mobile Friendly LabelKnowing if your site is mobile friendly or not can be done by simply doing a search for your site on your smartphone. Since late last year, Google has been using a ‘mobile friendly’ label on sites which it has identified as being such. If the site does not have this label, then that means it has not passed the test, and there’s a strong possibility it will be affected by the update.

Identifying the issues that are keeping the site from being mobile friendly can be done quickly with a few tools Google provides. Each one of these tools offers varying features and should be used in tandem to assess current issues with usability. Google Webmaster tools will give you the specific items Google is looking for and alert you if the site is not in compliance. It’s also important to understand the potential impact on traffic, which is why I suggest looking at current mobile traffic. Understanding how these mobile visitors are getting to the site and what they do while they are on it will help in making decisions on improving the usability. Identifying landing pages, exit pages, and other metrics will provide information on hurdles users faces and potential areas of improvement.

  • Site validation: Validate your site with Google’s mobile friendly test tool. It’s important that all the elements of your site are crawlable.
  • Current user behavior: Google Analytics provides a wealth of information on mobile users. Identify how they enter your site, where they land, what they do and where they convert. This information will help you understand any hurdles they are facing.
  • Search appearance: Google Webmaster tools will show you what queries your pages are showing up for, what position they hold and which search results these users click. There are features with GWT that will alert you if Google finds usability issues and provide some guidance on the what to fix.

As with most Google updates there tends to be a “freak out” moment where we wonder if we’re going to make the cut. Remember this one simple rule, one that I live by, Don’t optimize for Google! Optimize for the user. If your site is built with user experience at the forefront, then you have nothing to fear. My colleague Jackie Baker has written extensively about The Best SEO Strategy is Always About Your Customers (Not Google).

Sanctuary Marketing Group is ready to assist businesses to make sure they don’t lose rankings and quality traffic on mobile searches after the change is made. Contact us at for a free consultation.

Google Mobile Friendly Update
Content Amplification

Content Amplification is the buzzword for digital marketing in 2015, and understanding what it means is the first step to putting it to work for your business. Let’s start by breaking it down:Content Amplification

Content = This word has 7 or more different meanings, however, for the purposes of this discussion we are only going to concern ourselves with two of them. “Content” is:

  • something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing, or any of various arts.
  • substantive information or creative material.

Amplification =  (amplify) to increase in volume of sound or to make something louder.

The sole purpose of amplifying anything is to reach more people, after all, that’s why we turn our amps up to 11!

In a nutshell, amplifying content is making your creative material reach more people online. You want your content to reach as many people as possible because each person it touches is either a potential sale or a potential referrer of a sale. It’s not enough to just create content, publish it and hope it brings in traffic. You have to work actively to get the word out.

So where do you start? Well, if you haven’t read “How To Amplify Your Content” by Chris Auman I’d recommend you start there. It’s a lengthy read chock-full of ideas to get you started — including The Sanctuary 7 Phases of Content Amplification.

Three Ways to Amplify Content

It all starts with a great piece of content. 5 Tips to Nail Planning Your Content Marketing Campaign can get you started in the right direction. Once you have an optimized piece of content ready for launch, there are three basic methods you can use to amplify it:

  1. Owned Amplification (You own the channel). These are your own social media channels, sites and email list. Hopefully, you are already engaged in different channels and have created some sort of following. This is the perfect place to start. You have a built-in audience that will (if you’ve done your homework) find your content engaging enough to share. Be sure to be creative with each channel and tailor the message in an appropriate way. Each channel has best practices, so be sure to follow those.
  2. Paid Amplification (You buy exposure). Don’t be afraid of pay-to-play amplification. Often paying for distribution can be a quick way to gain some traction for a campaign. Depending on your budget level, there are many options to choose from. Promoted tweets, boosted Facebook posts, content amplification services and more are all available. Do your research and find the best option to meet your budget.
  3. Earned Amplification (When others promote your content). It’s hard. It can be time-consuming. Earned amplification comes from doing amazing work. If your content is less than awesome it will be hard for others to share. Sharing something means attaching your name to it, and no one wants their name on junk. Think of it as quality link building, because that’s what it is. You want to gain a quality link, and most people want to give a link to quality content, so you need to produce quality material. You won’t be afraid to ask for a link if you are proud of your work.


What is Content Amplification in a nutshell?
Getting your strong, quality, content in front of the right people. Check out our Content Amplification Checklist. An easy to follow checklist that covers each step in the amplification process.

Content Amplification in a Nutshell

digital-marketing-knowledge5 reasons why educating yourself and engaging online is important for your success online

I recently wrote a post about my daily ritual of reading, sharing, engaging with others online and creating new content for my website.

I guess I got a little ahead of myself (Cart before the horse I would say) by talking about ‘how’ before talking about ‘why’. Regardless, I wanted to talk a little bit about why we urge our friends and clients to consider developing a ritual of learning and engaging online on a daily basis and how it can help them grow professionally and expand their digital footprint online.

Who is this article and advice for?

So, there are two parts to this argument — learning and engaging. Learning should apply to every person that has a job or owns a company. If you want to grow your company or as a professional, you need to continually educate yourself.

Engagement online, by contrast, will apply to those who are in charge of expanding their personal or company footprint online. (business owners, marketing managers, individuals who want to grow their influence, etc.)

If you’re following me, in short, this advice is for anyone who wants to grow professionally and use that knowledge to grow their personal, professional or business influence online using digital marketing and social media. (more…)

Education and Engagement — How to grow your digital footprint online
Web Search Results in Yosemite

Digital marketers and business owners have been talking for a while now about how it’s becoming harder to track local digital marketing efforts.

It used to be all about rankings online. Then it became about clicks and visits. Then we all became real sophisticated and started tracking conversions and calls coming through from the website.

Then Google, as they tend to do, decided that they’d like to make our lives as marketers and business owners a little more difficult. They started to show information within the search results. In fairness, they’re just trying to give the searcher the information they’re seeking with as little friction as possible.

But if potential customers are researching a local service provider, they can now get almost everything they need, right within the Google search results. They can judge the quality of the company with reviews. They can confirm where the business is located with the address. They can contact the company by phone. They can get directions to the location as well as other tidbits that help them decide if they’re going to engage with the business.

But this creates a problem if you’re trying to justify your marketing efforts. Essentially a customer could contact you and do business with you and you have no way to track that success back to anything related to your online marketing strategy.

Just to take the problem further and see where things are going in the future, I just upgraded my Mac to the new system software. And you can now search ON THE COMPUTER and it will not only search your computer – it will search the web and return results right there within the computer interface.

mac-local-search-results

So now Google has lost control. The marketer has lost control and now the business has lost control of any ability to track where a lead or sale originated unless you physically ask the customer where they found you. Many times they’ll just end up saying ‘online’ or they won’t be able to remember.

The bottom line is that justifying your local digital marketing activities is going to get harder before it gets easier. We should all keep an eye on how this evolves and continually find ways to track the value of our efforts when dealing with marketing online.

Why Tracking Local Leads and Conversions Online is Getting Harder

Great search engine optimization has always been, and will always be, about your customers. If you – or the company you’ve hired to do your SEO – are getting bogged down in the intricate technical details of search optimization, focused on adapting to Google’s latest changes, or overwhelmed by the detailed (and often conflicting) must-do’s touted by many SEO experts – you are probably losing out on a lot of valuable customers. Same as you are if you’re not doing SEO at all.

Great marketing in general has always been about knowing your business and knowing your audience (the “user intent” model currently taking the Google world by storm). SEO is just one more piece of that puzzle.

Why A Customer-Focused SEO Strategy Works

When it comes down to it, your organization’s needs are pretty simple: stay in the black and maybe even get a little ahead. And it’s your customers or supporters who make that happen – not search engines.

The best SEO strategy that actually provides ROI for your business focuses on leading your ideal customer through the process from search to purchase. It looks something like this:

  • Ideal customer searches for a solution to a need.
  • Your relevant web page shows up in the search engine results for phrases describing that need.
  • Ideal customer clicks on your link because it displays the most relevant and compelling answer to the question.
  • Ideal customer reads your relevant page that shows you understand the need, offers a solution, and explains why you can meet that need better than anyone else.
  • Now convinced, ideal customer easily completes the purchase, fills out the lead form, donates, or takes the intended action you’ve clearly provided.

Notice what’s missing? The bells and whistles of an optimization strategy that over emphasizes the importance of search engine technicalities – or is only about keywords and rankings.

Rather, this model focuses on the end result. It’s about getting the right people for the right reasons – and getting them to buy.

Do note: depending on the individual buyer, the industry, the types of products and other factors, the actual buying process often takes multiple visits to a site, sometimes from different sources, and may happen over time. This is why digging deeper in analytics matters.

How the Best SEO Strategy is Practically Implemented

You are the most critical component of a successful search engine optimization strategy. You, and an SEO expert or company who can guide you through customer-focused SEO and the elements of a practical implementation that you actually need.

Your Contribution to SEO Strategy

Nobody knows your organization or your audience better than you do. Start by identifying who your best customers are, what they care about, what their needs are, and what motivates them to choose you (and not your competitors). Determine what it is you want them to do: buy a product, submit a lead form, give you an email address.

Your Digital Marketing Company’s Contribution to SEO Strategy

You know your business, audience, and products, but a great digital marketing expert knows websites, search engines, and conversion strategy. You need a firm that will:

  • Get to know your organization, products or services, and audience.
  • Research your audience’s questions, needs, and interests online.
  • Build content that is compelling and relevant for your target audience’s expressed needs.
  • Ensure your website is technically sound, easy to use, and focused on generating conversions (purchases, leads, submissions, etc).
  • Implement basic but key on-page optimization strategies to ensure your content is found for relevant searches.
  • Recognize your individual needs and doesn’t force you into a cookie-cutter mold.
  • Constantly research and analyze visitor behavior in order to improve.

Practically, this will look like constantly improving your website to make it more successful with your visitors, regularly generating new, quality content, and always analyzing how to improve.

This way, you are putting your time, money, and effort into SEO work that impacts your bottom line for the long haul and won’t be obsolete the next time Google changes its algorithms.

Let Sanctuary Guide Your Customer-Centric SEO Strategy

At Sanctuary our goal is simple – to develop and execute an internet marketing strategy that will help your business succeed online. We can partner with you from the ground up by building a new customer and conversion focused website (or refreshing your existing one), and guiding, developing, implementing, and honing your best SEO strategy. Contact us today for a free assessment and quote.

 

The Best SEO Strategy is Always About Your Customers (Not Google)