Lately we've been noticing a pretty major trend with large and small brands across the country. And its even bleeding into small business marketing. Being small is the new big. This idea of vintage, artisan, craft, limited run, one of a kind throwback to olden days seems to appear everywhere. We aren't sure this is a long term trend but with the growth of smartphone technology, smart homes, always connected, always on, 24/7 engagement, it seems consumers are longing for the way things used to be... or at least the idea of it. Brands are capitalizing on that whether it be on their leather ecommerce websites, the lastest craft brew, or a new pair of boots that look like they were made by a 1927 lumberjack.
Enjoy this spoof on vintage marketing by Quilted Northern. We think they hit the nail on the vintage #madeinAmerica head.
The #1 Question we were asked this year was:
"How do I get my website to show up more in search results?"
Here's the simplest answer that we often catch ourselves saying over and over again.
"You can improve the rank of your website by simply increasing the the number of high quality sites that link to your website."
Yes, its that simple. Which always leads to the next question:
"How do we do that?"
To answer that question, you have to understand the basics of how websites are interconnected. For search engines to crawl the thousands and thousands of websites, think of a "link" as being the streets between the websites being the cities. Search engines are able to discover how pages are related to each other by their links.
While links aren't everything in SEO, but a large portion of your websites ranking will be related to the quality of websites that are linked to it. As they say, you can tell the quality of a person by the company they keep. And in the same way you can tell the quality of website by the other websites they link to. Trustworthy people tend to hang out with other trustworthy people. And trustworthy websites tend to only link with other trustworthy websites.
So how do you know which links are most valuable? While no one knows everything about how search engines work other than the search engine operators themselves and their own proprietary process, here are a few of the main factors, that help the search engines signal which links are most valuable.
1. Worldwide Popularity - The more popular a website is the more links it will have. Which is why ESPN.com has a lot of high quality links and somthing like LocalSports.com does not.
2. Local/Topic Specific Popularity - For example, if you website is about Baseball Cards, a link from the Baseball Card Association of America carries more weight than a link about a bowling alley.
3. Anchor Text - Anchor text is one of the strongest signals for a search engine. If lots of links point to a page with proper keywords, that page has a much better chance of ranking well in the target phrase in the anchor text
4. Social Sharing - Although the search engines may treat socially shared links different than other kinds of links, they are noticed. There is much debate among search professionals as to how exactly search engines factor social link signals into their algorithms, but there is no denying the rising importance of social channels (which can read about here in last weeks blog)
Sam Casey the Managing Partner at Banyan Creative, a small business digital maarketing firm based in Matthews, NC. We love helping small businesses ensure their website is helping them achieve their goals.
Social Media and SEO share an unusual but intertwined relationship. Small business owners often come to us asking for help on how to drive more leads to their website. They often say something like "We post on social media a lot but its not making much of a difference for our ranking and its not bringing us more leads."
Since we have a lot of experience in optimizing websites for search, business owners ask us to build them stronger SEO. While there are no shortcuts to the SEO process there are quite a few acitivities that can help streamline your efforts and give your business a better chance to get results a bit sooner. Recently we were able to get an 8 location law fim to show up in local seach in all 8 of their markets within 2 months time.
With any SEO campaign, we always start with similar activity. We perform a needs analysis to understand why the client is not ranking. To start we focus on usual tried-and-true SEO tactics like shortening or lenghthening URL's, fixing meta tags, and also see the load time of speed of any website we work with. Once we know we are set up for success there we next turn to social media. Which is where a lot of businesses miss the mark, even if they are posting regularly. As we have discovered over the last several years, social media and SEO have a tricky but very important relationship.
Here's Your History Lesson
In a video back in 2014, Matt Cutts who was the head of Google's Web Spam team, said very clearly that there's a relationship between social media and organic search. Keep in mind Facebook and Twitter are treated like web pages, which means Google does not index every single social media post.
Its important for all marketers to know that Google made a deal with Twitter that allowed Google to see every single tweet without needing to index all of them for search. Because of the sheer volume of tweets, Google indexes 3-4% percent of all tweets. Matt Cutts was clear than seach engines don't factor Facebook liks or Twitter into web search rankings. Here's the murky part, we know that Google does correlate SEO ranking with a strong social media presence, but really know one knows how it actually happens. Google remains secretive in its decisions around social media and its hard to exactly pinpoint the impact of social. Brands continue to pour money into social media efforts, however its harder to correlate the two compared to PPC. Recently we have found out some loose connections between the two.
How Social Helps Legitimize Your Business
We find when sites aren't showing up in Google results and your SEO tactics are correct, its often because search engines still don't know your brand exists. When there are no social media profiles to prove your business is legitimite, Google can't validate that. What we recommend as a best practice with all our businesses is set up social media profiles on each platform: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google My Business Listings, and these profiles when properly filled out will help search engines understand how to show your business when people are searching for services you offer.
Social Networks as Search Engines
View your social media profiles as a well to help people and search engines find your business until your website holds a stronger ranking. We have find that the companies that we work with that are on top of their main search results, they also believe in the power of social media to impact that ranking. They are putting time and investment into regular profile updates on each platform. In most cases social profiles will give your businesss a chance to compete on Google. This lesson on social media can really help your SEO be more effective and be found easier by customers looking for your services. As we often say around here, there are no shortcuts in marketing, just like there are no shortcuts in diet and exercise. If you want to hold a strong ranking for the long term, social media as an indirect, yet non-negotiable, must have in your small business marketing toolkit if you want to grow.
Sam Casey is the Managing Partner at Banyan Creative based in Matthews, NC. He is passionate about the helping business find creative ways to show up in front of their customers on the web all across the Charlotte Metro region.
Click-through rate (CTR) isn’t a topic that gets many people fired up… but we can’t emphasize enough just how important a metric CTR is. Clicks lead to sales and conversions, and earning that click, whether through paid social advertising or content marketing, is one of the toughest hurdles to overcome. Once you figure out the formulas that work on your audience, you’ve pushed past one of your biggest obstacles to selling online.
If you’re looking to improve your organic click-through rate, don’t miss this new infographic from Louis Foong.
10 Ways to Improve Click-Through Rate in Search
1. Identify your lowest CTR content. Grab your search analytics from Google and plot your organic search CTR against your organic ranking in Excel. Use this graph to identify your top 10% and bottom 10% keyword/pages. Don’t mess with the “unicorns” (your top 10%). Work on improving the “donkeys” (bottom 10%). Doing this can increase clicks by 6x.
2. Dump “keyword heavy” title templates. You know what inspires a click? Titles that aren’t blatantly keyword-stuffed! Stop this practice.
3. Get emotional. Emotional hooks drive clicks. You might think SEO is all science, but in actuality there are strong elements of both science and artistry in search engine optimization.
4. Get relatable. It’s time to start writing like a human, not an SEO robot. Maybe your SEO-heavy title will get better rankings than a “non-SEO” title, but will it get clicks? Is it relatable? If not, then a high ranking doesn’t do you much good. Instead, write from a specific perspective. Foong gives the examples of The Comedian, The Feel Good Friend, The Hero or Villain, and The Bearer of Bad News.
5. Use a numbered list. They boost CTR by 36%. (There’s a reason why we have a number in the title of this post, right?)
6. Use a proven headline template. The most engaging articles on the internet use a title format like this: number + adjective + content type + subject.
7. Use “power words” in your description tag. Words like “amazing,” “instant,” and “premium” can go a long way toward earning that click.
8. Use descriptive URLs. Microsoft found that descriptive URLs get 25% more clicks than generic URLs. If you’re using WordPress or any other similar website builder, there should be a setting to do this automatically for new pages and blog posts you write.
9. Experiment with different headlines. Play with capitalization, ellipses, punctuation, emojis and other options.
10. Change and test the headline on Facebook. The same emotional appeals that work on Facebook will work in Google search. Facebook is a great free way to test out your titles.
Need assistance in improving your click through rates on your content?
Sam Casey is the Managing Partner at Banyan Creative. He enjoys learning each day abiout how to optimize content for search and testing out new strategies to help businesses grow.
Banyan Creative launches new website for the Smith Family Wellness Center in partnership with Project 658
Last week, the Smith Family Wellness Center was blessed, dedicated, and officially opened. Through the partnership of Project 658 and the Steve Smith Family Foundation, this wellness center was built to provide the highest level of care for the emotional, medical, physical, and spiritual needs of at-risk families in Charlotte. This clinic is part of a holistic outreach model aimed at providing care for the entire family. Project 658 contracted out Banyan Creative to build a mobile friendly website for the Smith Family Wellness Center
Their mission is bold. They are tackling the most vulnerable communities in our city, caring for those struggling to find adequate care. Today in Charlotte, one in six people don't have access to medical and counseling services. One in four women are victims of domestic violence. These numbers reflect real people facing real challenges in the neighborhoods among us. Project 658 Executive Director Dustin Swinehart said "We believe there should be a place where every person has access to wellness care and where every person is welcomed. We want to bring hope back to the hopeless. This is why the Smith Family Wellness Center exists."
Through the partnership of the Wellness Center and The 658 Center, families will have access to one campus that includes medical care, counseling services, clothing, food, education, and job training. An integrated team of social service providers, professionals, and skilled volunteers will steer families toward a healthy life, enabling them to be self-sufficient and productive members of our city.
This is 658 and Steve Smith Family Foundation seeks to restore hope and change our city: one life at a time.
The Baltimore Ravens nominated Steven Smith to be the Walter Payton man of the year for this contribution to the local community and service.
Want to be part of the work of the Smith Family Wellness Center? This project is a collaboration of Project 658 and the Steve Smith Family Foundation, and is operated by Project 658. Whether you'd like to contribute your time, services, in-kind gifts, or financially, reach out to them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We were honored to be apart of this impactful work in the city of Charlotte.
The #1 question we were asked in regards to small business marketing in 2016 was "How do I get my website to rank better on Google?" The answer to this is quite simple. However the execution of that answer can be much more complex. If you don't know anything about SEO, rankings or Google, my recommendation is to create content that people like, search engines can understand. Developing that idea a little bit further ranking content or your website on Google boils down to three ingredients:
1. Quality Content
2. People Reading it
3. Google Knowing That
These 3 factors are over-simplified concepts to concisely communicate what it takes to rank on Google search.
SEO Ingredient #1 For Ranking on Google: Quality Content: This is pretty self-explanatory, after all, is what shows up on search engine results pages (SERPs).
SEO Ingredient #2: Quality Content that Ranks is Content that People Love. Its so important to know your audience well enough to create content ideas that they will read and that resonates with them. Reminder that, Google takes it cues from visitor engagement with their content. If people share or repost your content Google notices that. And the more authoritative that repost or share comes from the better. For example if marketing expert Seth Godin shared your content on his blog and linked to you that would be much more authoritative than your neighbor posting the article on Facebook.
But just writing something you know people will love might not get the volume of visitors you need engaging with your content to send Google the signal that your content is worthy of ranking on the first page.
So the goal here is to drive a good volume of visitors who have high engagement rates.
An integrated marketing strategy where you promote your content across all those channels can boost its reach.
Andy Crestodina’s graphic and quote from this blog post about content promotion really sums it up:
“Traffic often leads to more traffic. Once we get visitors, some of them may lend a hand and help us with content promotion.”
Sam Casey is the Managing Partner at Banyan Creative based in Matthews, NC. We are experts in small business marketing with a focus in search marketing on the web. We love seeing small businesses grow!
Sam Casey is the Chief Creative Officer and Managing Partner at Banyan Creative.