SEO Tips: Beware of SEO Firm Cold-Calls

Let me set the scene for when you receive pitches for SEO.

It’s late at your office or maybe an early morning quick check of things to do.  You fire up the tableland take a last minute review of email.  An unsolicited note catches your eye, with a message like this:

Hi, my name is Terrance and I am the sales manager at Such-n-such SEO and Extraordinary Marketing services. I was just looking at your site and see that your site has the potential to get even more visitors. I just want to take the time to tell you how.  Now, let me ask you…

Ok, stop.  It is at this point you should put the note aside, and start onto other pressing business.

Because accepting to do business from a SEO firm that starts with one blind suggestion is a waste of time. Here’s why….

Results from one specific SEO suggestion cannot guarantee traffic or a significant improvement in performance.  The most complete SEO involves a combination of steps addressing page text, links, social sharing, and supporting code in a site layout will ultimately attract the right search engine queries  from the right customers.  To make such a combination valuable to the client, a SEO firm needs to review objectives with the website owner.  That means understanding the business as much as understanding the website.

Thus when approached with a cold call about SEO, you may be receiving word on a needed task such as revising metadata or updating links. But most times cold calling SEO firms approach potential customers with an obvious site tasks so that the salesperson can just get a foot in the door.  And many times, that foot is an unwelcomed one, selling unnecessary services or consuming precious time with poor follow up.

Most sites require an update over time. To ensure that the  it’s up to YOU, THE CUSTOMER to determine what and when that update is put into place.

Now, here’s what your business can do to manage cold calls.

  • Investigate the firm online before speaking with anyone. Are there customer reviews from legitimate sources.  Who is affiliated with the firm?  Gaining a sense of what they have done for past firms or customers is a big help, as well as giving your team a feel for how the SEO firm will operate.  A member of your business can then speak with the firm about capabilities, and then decide if doing business makes sense.
  • Speaking of capabilities, having ideas on what to expect from an SEO audit can help frame the questions to be asked. Learn what typically goes into an SEO audit here in this Zimana post.
  • Moreover, maintenance of a SEO strategy needs to be conducted periodically – check out this Zimana post about why SEO maintenance is essential.

Overall, remember that a SEO firm can gain some information from your site code to ask a seemingly relevant question, but don’t work with firms that have not proven their value to other businesses and people.

Digital Signage Augments Branded Search

There’s no doubt that online search remains a popular medium among customers in finding information. But with altered considerations for social media combined with updated online presence options, there can be doubt in how a bank should proceed to strengthen its appearance in a search engine.

One way to build customer recall is to develop a strategy for supporting branded keyword terms. Branded search results in an analytic solution is an expression of your customers’ recollection of your business online. Your bank should consider its brand strength – how can its current notoriety be used effectively.

The newest capabilities in paid search in Google and Microsoft’s Bing have linked ad services to other Bing and Google related platforms. The end result for paid search ads is an expanded relevancy towards intended customer segments and purposes. Google Adword Express, an Adwords extension, links your ads to Google Maps, highlighting its location. This provides a larger display on a computer screen, encouraging your customer to seek a bank branch if it is in a convenient location and increases the likelihood of clicking on an ad.

With regard to branded keyword terms, banks that have a long established relationship with its communities can put together a paid search strategy for extending branded search terms to these newly introduced services. Doing so would catch the segment of customers who are familiar with the bank but may not know what other services are provided. Features such as the aforementioned Adwords Express can be combined for provide further value online.

Branded search can be further augmented is an alternative appearance of services via a dynamic keyword insertion, a feature in which different keyword within an ad group appear in the ad based on the search query. The advantage can be grouping services together for a certain segment of customer, as well as creating a targeted campaign by context. So an ad for a “Bear Bank” offering home mortgage can have alternating text – refinance or first mortgage – in the title. A thought to consider is that words with similar meaning may differ in result appearance across search engines, so using additional tools such as Searchmetrics Suite and Wordstream can provide advanced keyword suggestions beyond the standard Google, Yahoo, and Bing accounts.

Digital signage ices the cake for many branded keyword programs by establishing customer recall of branded terms and intended service keywords in its media. The display’s impact occurs before the customer later decides to research services online. Customers will then recall the bank name and associated wording.

Once an ad campaign has been run, your analyst should confirm the impact from the results in a placement performance report. This report compares results across the campaign networks to identify and exclude poor performing ads based on networks. An online survey can be used at the landing page to assess if visitor did a search and had seen a digital display running. Influence from running a signage campaign can then be assessed, with a choice to pause the display message if the lift in click through rate is not significant.

Considering strategies to enhance paid search has a pay off. Recent white papers and studies are suggesting campaign sophistication in deploying paid search such as Google’s announced study back in 2012 that a combined paid and organic search usage can lead to a higher CTR. Enhancing branded search traffic with digital signage is one way in which a paid search campaign can lead to further payoff.

Paid search ideas to increase your conversions and extend your marketing budget

Google AdWords
Google AdWords can augment a mobile marketing strategy as well as a desktop marketing strategy

Fall can be a great time to review marketing campaigns over the past year and make adjustments, particular with the holiday sales season around the corner.  But any time of the year is a good time to review results from paid and organic search.  Not checking on how your site attracts customers can lead to no conversions –which means no online sales or downloads related to lead generation.

There are a few ideas can help your small business renew the focus of campaigns that lead to increased conversions.

Set analytics reports dedicated to monitoring changed contributions to website goals

Analytics reports can show which campaigns are effectively contributing to goals, as well as reviewing time on site and pageviews per visit to confirm that your ads are driving engaged visits to your site. Consider also specialty reports such as Google Analytics Multi-Channel Funnel to compare the value paid search contributed to site goals and how it changed from one period to another. This can reveal how to approach adjustment to keywords between paid and organic search.

Ensure campaign ad categories are easily distinguishable

You should create specific categories for paid search that can be reflected in the campaign and ad groups. Doing so makes campaign tagging simple to apply and permits better attribution of the ads that contributed to site goals.

Verify the budget allocated against the traffic created

Import your organic and paid search data into a spreadsheet and compare the amount of traffic against the percentage of ad budget allocated for the segment. Does it make sense for a keyword contributing 10% of traffic to receive 40% of a PPC budget? Creating a comparison table will answer this question.

Consider paid search as an augment for keywords targeted in organic search.

Some small businesses emphasize search in lieu of a PPC campaign, but many digital marketing research firms are discovering that a combined paid and organic search results for a given keyword can have a higher conversion rate than that for organic search results alone. Apply organic and paid search for your top terms that need more exposure. The lift in conversion rates overall should be higher than any slight cannibalization of search traffic from having an ad appearing alongside an organic search query result.

Use long tails keywords that could draw visits while achieving a lower spend on clicks

Conversion lift opportunities can sometimes lie in long tail keyword terms, attracting more relevant traffic with a lower spend than many highly volume terms. Long tail keywords are words with lower search volume than a head keyword – typically a branded term in some cases. But three and four phrase keyword terms related to your industry, product, or service can yield a better combination of relevant traffic.

Use Contextual Marketing to make ad spend more effective

To better ensure that the ads appear when customers are considering your services, consider networks that display ads in a more relevant setting to your targeted audience.  For example, an ad offering DJs services can be displayed in a network that includes content for weddings – an event in which these services are needed. AdWords offers contextual marketing option by running ads on partner sites of the Google Display Network. Facebook Ads operate in a similar manner – The keywords in Facebook Ads are matched to profile activity rather than search queries. So an ad for an auto parts store would show for profiles containing an interest in automobiles. The end result is an audience being more receptive to an ad because the queries are occurring in a more specific online community or environment.

Create ads for specific events

If an ad budget is extremely tight for your small business, you should create ads for specific happenings. Seasonal events, such as a holiday sale, can be effective. Another approach is setting an ad for specific geographic region where your business serves but may not be receiving visitors.

Place ads on ads networks related to your referral traffic

Referral traffic from other sites may be complimented with ad exposure to gain better response leading to conversion. Sites like Linked In and offer ad networks specific for a business audience, while Yelp and may be helpful for sales offers. There are also publishers such as Adsmoke, a platform that display ads at the beginning of a YouTube video, which can provide opportunities to match your ad to the context in which it appears.

Scan your site for overlooked keyword ideas with CPC opportunities.

Site content can change over the year, especially if a blog is hosted as a site subdirectory and a high volume of posts are created.  You can use tools to scan your site for additional keyword ideas. The results can lead to more affordable relevant words to use in an ad. Both Google Adwords Manager and Microsoft AdCenter can your website and generate a keyword list. You can compare the generated list with a keyword density list, to determine if a preferred keyword does not appear frequently in your site – thus a potential candidate for use in an ad to attract audience.

Gaining conversion takes time and investment. But evaluating campaigns with web analytics and segmentation brings an improved focus of your business’ marketing. Your ads will then tempt more potential customers, because they are being served to the customers you want for your products and services.


Polymer.js example

How Semantic Search Relates Online Content to Customers

Polymer.js example
This HTML mark up is a technical example of how semantic search works. It calls out specific parts in the code, like this callout designed to address a version of JavaScript called Polymer.  Although JavaScript case like this is not an influence on SEO, most semantic search is meant to address highlighting specialty HTML elements in a search query.

Search engines have subtly changed their methodologies over the past few years. One methodology that has yet to see widespread adoption has already experienced its most significant change yet.

Back in 2013, an ontology library site, Good Relations, announced an alignment of its markup structure definitions with those used on, a metatag library. The end result is increased consistency of definition usage among businesses, and a wider shared usage of structure markup among web developers and search engine optimization practitioners.

This merger occurred thanks to increasing search discovery needs for digital media. From music to webinar presentations, businesses have added numerous content to appear when potential customers research product and service information online.

The content has led marketing managers to give a refreshed look at their optimization strategies through apply semantic search. Semantic search involves organizing keywords and content with website element protocols and structure markup language. The organization makes the pages and site content more visible to nuanced search engine queries.

Good Relations and support separate protocols for semantic search. contains metadata meant for HTML5, an update of the venerable website structure code language positioned for future website development. Good Relations contains RDF – resources description framework that has proven utility for current retailers and E-commerce sites.

One strategic benefit for managers is learning enhanced ways to translate potential client language to its digital properties. If businesses within a given industry agreed to ontology for services and needs, those businesses can adjust their content tags to position its content to potential query results from those businesses. Imagine a video on better financing for construction projects – With a metadata protocol, now imagine that video section appearing in a search query run by a construction firm.

That exact example lies at the heart of HTML5. HTML5 added video- and music-related tag elements, developed to increase media exposure to relevant search engine queries. Other tagging protocols can help search engines recognized a group of authors – an aid to marketing teams leveraging personal brands of its members online (You can learn about what Google accepts in structured markup here – Bing also has a structured markup guide). The fundamentals of digital marketing is increasingly shifting toward strategic data ownership, which is supported through content marketing and semantic search.

With the – Good Relations alliance, digital marketers and website developers can optimize metadata and RDF information across varied content. The success of such an effort will create a true application of semantic search’s definition – the science of actual customer’s language.

How To Break Into Marketing – Discussion feat. Pierre DeBois and John Anhalt of SpotHub – @GAChicago

General Assembly invited Zimana founder Pierre DeBois and Joe Anhalt, Marketing Manager at Spothub to discuss the current state of digital marketing. The talk with budding students and young marketers took place in Space, an office incubator in Chicago.

Watch these three video to gain tips on what goes on during a typical marketer’s day, what is takes to develop the skills of digital marketing, and what are the latest trends impacting digital marketing today.