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How Much Should I Be Paying for SEO? And Where Does Your SEO Fee Go?

How much Should I be paying for SEO?

By Jack Turner

When it comes search engine optimization (SEO) services, it can be helpful to understand what goes into a balanced, well thought out campaign before deciding how much to spend on it. Gauging how much to invest in SEO is not quite as cut and dry as calculating your PPC spend. There are several factors that you should think about when determining your SEO investment.

There is a notion out there that Organic traffic is “free” (aka not paid for through an ad), so many people ask exactly where their SEO fee they are paying monthly for is going. Although you are not paying for traffic directly, there are costs that go into making sure your site shows up on the first page of Google. It takes time, tools and content.

costs of SEO inforgraphic

When deciding how much you should be paying for SEO. Ask yourself, and your digital marketing company, the following questions:

How competitive is my market?

Market competition has two factors: your business’s target keywords and what city are you in. Going for the #1 spot as a snow cone shop in Fargo, ND is going to have much less competition than attempting to rank for “personal injury lawyer” in Los Angeles. More competition = higher spend.

Analyzing competitors’ sites is a great way to quickly check the market competition. Simply search your top keywords and get the URLs of the sites that are consistently showing up for these keywords. There are dozens of free online tools to check their backlink profiles, and also just clicking through their sites will give you a good idea of how much money they are pouring into their online presence.

If your competition is strong, you need to be stronger.

How quickly do I want to move up the rankings?

Different businesses have different timelines. As an SEO professional, I always tell my clients to be patient, as changes on your site can take months to get picked up by search engines. However, you can move up the rankings quicker if you invest more time/money into the site.

A company that is more seasonal like a landscaper might have a set timeline to get up in the rankings. If it is November and they want to be on the first page for their main keywords by May, they will want to spend more aggressively in the months of November-February to make sure the effects of the SEO boost their website’s rankings in time for the busy season.

SEO involves a mix of several strategies to build your site’s authority and standing in Google’s eyes (I will go into these later). An agency can “speed up” your climb on Google with a higher budget because it allows for two things:

  1. The ability to spend more time on your site. A lot of SEO work is time spent analyzing your site and coming up with strategies to beat out competing businesses/websites. A lot of SEO companies will even charge hourly for their work.
  2. It provides your SEO team more resources to build content for the site, build out local citations, and pay for various other services that increase your site’s credibility.

A knowledgeable SEO agency will be able to tell you exactly what they will analyze on your website and will have a robust plan for improving your site’s important SEO metrics.

What is the condition of my current site?

If a site is already built for SEO, or the site has a healthy backlink profile already, you may have an easier time climbing up the rankings. There are several tools that will give you a quick indication of your site’s SEO health. Website Grader is one of my favorites, especially to show SEO beginners. Of course, an SEO professional is better suited to analyze and explain your site’s health to you, as it is not always so black and white.

When auditing a new client’s site, an SEO professional might simply recommend that the business build a new site. This can be for several reasons:

  1. Cost – Building a new site might be cheaper than doing SEO for several months. Sometimes sites need a refresh. If you have had several web developers and companies working on your site it can become a mess. It can cost months of SEO to fix all of these issues. Instead, it may be more cost effective to build a site from scratch that has SEO in mind from the start. Plus, you’ll end up with a brand new, modern website.
  2. Bad Backlinks – Many SEO Agencies will, or at least used to, use poor backlinking strategies that can leave your site vulnerable. They build tons of bad backlinks using strategies that may have worked in the past but are now harmful to your site. Google has cracked down on many common link building strategies, causing numerous sites to be penalized. In this situation, it may be a good idea to change URLs and start over with a clean slate. It’s possible to keep your current site’s appearance and simply change the URL. Moz and Ahrefs are good web tools to quickly check your backlink profile.

If your site is suffering from SEO problems, our team can help you determine their cause and take action to fix the issues.

What are my current rankings?

Your current rankings can also play a big factor in deciding how much budget to allocate to SEO. If you are not ranking in the top 50 for any of your major terms, this is a sign that extensive SEO work needs to be done to get to the first page.

The amount of effort and time to get up the rankings raises exponentially as the site climbs up the rankings. Going from position 50 to position 12 can be as difficult as going from position 12 to 7. This is because as you go up the rankings, your surrounding competition is getting tougher, so it requires more work to outrank them. Think of a sports team going through the playoffs and each round getting more and more difficult to win.

Where exactly is my SEO fee going?

So you are spending more money on SEO to see expedited results, but what exactly are you paying for? Many people associate SEO with the service that provides you with “free” organic traffic. While you may not be paying per click, there are a lot of costs associated with SEO to ensure you are in a position to get these clicks. These SEO expenses include:

  1. Labor/Time – This is probably the largest cost associated with SEO if you decide to go through an agency. Time has to be spent looking through keyword rankings, creating content plans, analyzing data and reporting. Even if you decide to try and take on SEO in house, you will either be spending your valuable time to learn SEO, taking away the time of another one of your employee’s to learn it, or you will end up hiring another employee to manage it. No matter what you will be spending money on labor for your SEO efforts, so it would be advisable to hire an SEO professional who is trained and has done this kind of work for dozens of other sites.
  2. Content – Great SEO takes great content. We recommend adding new content to your website on a continuous basis to keep the site fresh and show Google that the site is being updated. Whether you write the content in-house or outsource it, this will cost you money and/or time.
  3. Backlink/Citation Building – Building out business citations and doing outreach to build backlinks can be one of the most costly, recurring monthly expenses for SEO. There are many online services which build out citations for you, however, they all have a monthly cost to maintain them. You can build out citations yourself, but again this costs time. Many online directories charge a monthly fee, especially for premium directories that generate a lot of traffic, such as Avvo for attorneys.
  4. SEO Tools and Resources – There are plenty of great free online resources for SEO, but you do get what you (don’t) pay for. SEO Agencies rely on paid tools to get great insight to improve their strategies. Moz, Ahrefs, SEMRush, Keyword tracking programs, Website crawlers, review monitoring programs, and reporting programs are just a few examples of the tools used by SEO agencies and businesses to create and implement their SEO strategies. All of these tools can become quite costly if you are only paying for them for one site. That is why SEO agencies are very cost effective, as they can spread out the cost of these tools across all of their clients.

It can be hard to quantify how much doing all of this on your own would cost you. An SEO agency, however, understands what is needed to plan an effective SEO strategy and put it into place. We can help you determine how much all of this would cost for your business.

Get a Quote on SEO Services

Many of the big online SEO services and even some smaller SEO agencies will give you a menu of services and their prices and you pick and choose what you want. This system works fine and makes their job easier, however, it is more beneficial for you to speak with an agency that will give you a custom quote on services. This allows them to build you an SEO package that fits your needs and leaves out items that you may not. This means you are only paying for what benefits you.

Contact The Search Engine Guys today if you are interested in receiving a custom quote on SEO or a website build. We can walk you through the SEO process and explain exactly what you should be paying for. Call us at (512) 394-7234 or reach out to us online.


Google is Still King (and Will Be for The Foreseeable Future)

When choosing to market online, Google and YouTube are essential channels you need to be on. Google is dominant, but just how dominant? And are they losing dominance? Some data shows that online ad revenue is being split more than it ever has, but when it comes to Organic Search, online advertising and video, there’s no getting around Google.

Google’s Rise

Google was not the first search engine to be created. Some of the first search engines became public around 1993 and the Google as we know it wasn’t officially launched until 1998. Yahoo, AskJeeves (now Ask.com) and MSN all came out with Search engines before Google.

So why, over two decades later, is Google the most dominant search engine, and one of the most powerful companies in the entire world? Because they did it better. There’s a lot of factors you can go into, but in the end, Google gave searchers the seamless user experience they wanted when making searches. People were getting the results they expected when they searched on Google. This all goes back to their algorithm and PageRank, but I will spare you those details for now. All you need to know is Google did search engines better and still does.

After 21 years of dominance, it stands to reason that Google would encounter fierce competition to take some of Google’s enormous search engine market piece of the pie, but no one has come close. 

Google’s Competition for Search

According to StatCounter, as of September 2019, Google had a 88.37 percent share of the United State’s search market. This includes Google Search, Google Image Search, Google Maps and YouTube. The rest of the 11.63 percent market share is split mainly between Bing (6.07%), Yahoo! (3.94%) and DuckDuckGo (1.28%). Since 2009, Google has gained almost 10 percent of the search market share in the United States.

Source: StatCounter Global Stats – Search Engine Market Share

Google has seen this rise in use, while also facing stiffer competition. Microsoft’s Bing launched in 2009 and DuckDuckGo is rising in popularity lately. DuckDuckGo promises to not collect user data, which is appealing to a number of people who are wary of Google’s data collection methods. While the sentiment is nice, it is difficult to create a great user experience without data.

All of the data says one thing, Google Search is here for the long haul, and if your business wants to be prominent on the web, then you need to be seen on Google.

Google’s Competition for Online Advertising Dollars

As mentioned earlier, there is more competition now  for marketer’s online advertising dollars than ever before. Facebook, SnapChat, Pinterest, Amazon and Twitter are all competing for Ad dollars and they are taking market share. This has led to Google’s ad revenue growth to slow, but it is still growing. Google Ad revenue in Q1 2019 was up 15 percent YoY and in Q1 2018 their ad revenue grew 24 percent YoY. 

So is Google going to see a decline in dominance? Eventually yes, but it shouldn’t dilute how important Google is for an Online marketing campaign. More and more advertising dollars are being shifted to digital marketing from traditional media every year. In 2018, $108 BB was spent on digital advertising in the United States. By the year 2023, it is projected that this amount will go up almost 100 percent to over $200 BB. 2019 is projected to be the first year where digital advertising spend outweighs the ad spend on traditional media (Billboards, TV, Outdoor etc.) in the U.S.. As the world becomes more digital, it’s natural that advertisers will look to diversify where they spend their money online so they aren’t as dependent on Google. However, it is unlikely that the power of Google, and what it can do for a brand online, is diminished.

Be Seen on YouTube

Google owned YouTube dominates the video search market. 95 percent of internet users are serviced by YouTube. If a company wants to be seen, they need to have a presence on YouTube.

YouTube is Responsible for 37 percent of All Mobile Internet Traffic. People sharing interesting videos and topics is what drives traffic to the site. That’s why it is so important your company is uploading unique content to their YouTube channel and website.

Market to the Masses

The great and mighty Google and YouTube are here to stay. Their products are an integral part of an internet user’s daily life. From using Gmail, watching YouTube videos to getting directions on Google Maps and much more, an individual could get their entire online experience only using Google products. Marketing on these platforms is more important than ever and their importance is not waning. 

If you are looking to run a SEO or PPC campaign to be seen on Google Search, or if you are interested in building a brand on YouTube, contact The Search Engine Guys. We help law firms and small local businesses take advantage of these platforms.

 


Social Media Ads – Where Law Firm Ad Spend is Shifting

What Used to Work

Lawyer advertising trends shifted away from billboards, print, radio, and television ads a very long time ago. Although law firms continue to include these mediums in their marketing strategies, it should be clear that nowadays marketing budgets are increasingly invested in digital advertising more than older, traditional methods. In fact, 2019 is on track to be the first year where digital ads will reign as king over offline ads. But this isn’t news. Online ad spend has been increasing for years now and law firm marketing has already adapted to advertising on the internet. Banner ads, Google ads and Facebook ads probably make up a large portion of your marketing spend right now; but have you taken a moment to wonder if you’re really getting the most out of your ad dollars?

The Theory of Attention Economics

Though online ads are the way to go; advertising on the internet isn’t enough. The internet is a huge space, with seemingly infinite content. You have to know where your potential clients are spending their time to break through to them. “In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients.” This theory by social scientist, Herbert A. Simon, perfectly captures the problem that marketing in the legal industry is facing. 

New Buying Process

Are you capturing the right attention? And are you capturing enough of it? These questions should be driving the development of your marketing strategy. If this is the first time you’ve asked yourself these questions – allow us to shed some light on your next campaign.

Daily time spent on social networking

The above graphic is a great representation of how people spend their time online. The trend is that social media is consuming more and more attention. Apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn are among the biggest platforms where people spend close to two hours a day, on average, browsing content. Perhaps more importantly, users tend to share content with their friends and followers which can cause certain images or videos to go viral. This is the modern iteration of word-of-mouth marketing, and the thrill of discovering viral content continues to bring users back to these social platforms in search for more. Spending time on social media therefore extends past the core function of socializing online with friends and family to a broader avenue for entertainment where brands, and law firms, can capitalize by advertising their message to thousands or even millions of people. 

Leveraging The Multi-Platform Approach

Again, your current marketing budget is probably already invested into some of these social ad platforms. So how do you know whether you’re doing it in the most efficient manner? The answer is data. One thing The Search Engine Guys has claimed since the start is that we are a data-driven firm. The way we approach social media ads and manage campaigns that produce results is by running ads on as many platforms as we can within our client’s budget. Casting a wide digital net to start off a major campaign gives you the opportunity to collect data on the ads we run. Running split tests with different creatives, ad copy, and media types returns information about the audience that the ad was served to that can help refine the ad’s set up and consequently its future performance. A small budget on various social ad platforms may not generate leads immediately, but the data that comes back is valuable nonetheless. Week after week, we monitor an ad’s performance and make any necessary adjustments to better serve the ad to an audience that is more likely to engage and ultimately convert into a case for your law firm. Take a look at some more data about today’s social media giants from online measurement company, SimilarWeb, below. 

social media usage

Mass Torts, Mass Returns

Going after mass tort cases has never been easier. Running a multi-platform campaign on social media ad networks can increase your case volume with the smallest cost-per-acquisition numbers you can achieve online. Whether you’re trying to maximize your cases with a definitive budget, or if you’re pursuing a mass tort with massive return and a limitless budget: multiplatform is the way to go. Some example numbers are below. We invite you to contact TSEG today to talk about your law firm’s objectives and how to best leverage social media advertising.


Multi-Platform Approach to Mass Torts

Multi-Platform Approach to Mass Torts

When a new mass tort lawsuit emerges, lawyers and marketers know that it’s time to act… and your next step can make you millions!

To get the most leads signed up in a cost-effective manner it is EXTREMELY important to be one of the fastest to market. However, being fast isn’t enough. Casting a wide net across various channels on the internet is proving to be the best way to improve your mass tort advertising. Here is the issue: if you are a digital marketing firm like ours, but you only work in one platform (like Facebook for example), you will only push facebook to your potential clients whether it has the best cost per acquisition or not. I have to ask you, how is this best for you? Simply put, it is not. You must spread your initial investment onto multiple platforms and then MEASURE! You will then see which platform has the best cost per acquisition. Sure, there are times Facebook is the winner. However, there are times when Google paid search is the winner, there are times when HULU is the winner, etc etc. Therefore, as a lawyer, don’t be swayed to put all of your eggs in one basket. Be smart, spread your investment dollars around the first few months and then hone in on the best result for you!

What Works

At TSEG, we manage lead-gen ad campaigns on different platforms such as Google Ads, Facebook, and Hulu Ads (plus many more). We deliver multiple messages to the potential client base and measure the return-data. All data that comes back from an ad is useful even if it doesn’t result in a lead. Once we analyze this data we will discover which ad copy, which creative and which platform works the best. This is the WINNING combination for you. Once this is obtained, we lever your dollars in the best way for you to achieve the best outcome for your firm. This data-driven practice helps us deliver ½ to ⅓ the lead generation costs of our competitors. Guess what? This is not a new practice for us. Since our inception, “data-driven” isn’t a buzzword, that is how we operate. This is the driving factor that lead The Search Engine Guys to be named one of the top 200 privately held companies in the US by Inc. magazine and this process propelled Ngage to the most dominant Chat platform in the attorney market.

Does a multi-platform approach cost more?

The short answer is no. Since we start off with a wide net – we only use a small budget to get started on a particular channel. This initial budget is to start figuring out what works and what doesn’t work. From there we improve on a weekly basis and then increase budgets.

“I Just Want Cases”

Some mass tort law firms have the ultimate goal to get as many cases as possible, without a budget limit. In these circumstances, the client may not care if the case acquisition cost may not be the driving force behind the decision. If this is the case for your firm, multi-platform is still the way to go as you need to generate as many cases as possible.

Multi-Platform Numbers

Below is a glimpse at some of our recent mass tort campaign numbers. These campaigns are running (or ran) on more than two platforms and have detailed strategies on each one.


Google My Business Verification and Optimization Guide

Google My Business Verification and Optimization Guide

One of the largest influencing factors on gaining local visibility on Google is the verification and optimization of your Google My Business listing. When people search for a lawyer near them they’re usually looking to hire someone, so it’s important the information about your business that shows up on Google is as accurate and optimized as possible.

What is Google My Business?

GMB is a free tool that allows you to manage your business information and lets you connect with customers across Google Search and Maps. GMB listings allow you to:

  • Add your contact information
  • Upload photos
  • Create a compelling business description to entice customers to contact your law firm
  • Display your hours of operation
  • Answer frequently asked questions
  • Monitor and reply to reviews that customers leave on Google for your business

These functions allow you to exert some control over what appears when potential clients search for your firm.

Why You Need a Google My Business Listing

If you are interested in boosting your local online presence, Google My Business is a great place to start. According to Search Engine RoundTable, Google has reported that 46% of all searches have local intent. If someone is looking to hire a lawyer, they may do a search for a “personal injury lawyer near me” or “Austin car accident attorney.” Focusing your efforts on the free-to-use Google My Business platform will not only allow potential customers to find your business online, but it will ensure that the information they see is correct.

In addition, Moz’s list of local search ranking factors shows Google My Business as one of the top-ranking factors in local map search and in local organic search.

How to Verify Your Google My Business Listing

Create a Google My Business Listing

  1. Log in to the Google Account you want associated with your business (or create a Google Account if you don’t already have one).
  2. Visit google.com/business and select “Manage now” in the top right-hand corner.
  3. Enter your business’s name.
  4. Enter your business address.
  5. Select a business category. Try to choose the most accurate category possible. For the legal field, you can choose categories like Personal Injury Attorney, Criminal Justice Attorney, Employment Attorney, Bankruptcy Attorney, etc.
  6. Input your phone number and website.
  7. Select a verification option.

There are several ways to verify your GMB listing. Here are the different options:

  • Postcard
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Instant verification
  • Bulk verification

Postcard

For this verification option, you will want to make sure your address is listed correctly. You can add a contact name that the postcard will be addressed to. The postcard will be mailed to the business location and will typically arrive within 5 days. Once you receive the postcard, log back into your Google My Business account and select “Verify now”. In the code field, enter the five-digit verification code that is listed on your postcard and click “Submit”.

If you don’t receive the postcard, you can request a new code by signing into GMB and clicking the “Request another code” button.

Phone

Some businesses are able to verify their location by phone. If you are eligible, you will see the option when you start the verification process. Make sure the phone number is correct before you verify the listing. You will be given a code through an automated message. Enter the code into your GMB dashboard.

Email

Some businesses are able to verify their location by email. If you’re eligible, you will see the option when you start the verification process. Make sure the email is correct before you verify the listing. You will need to sign in to the email address that the verification was sent to and click the verification button in the email from GMB.

Instant Verification

If you have already verified your business using the Google Search Console, you may be eligible for instant verification under the same email address. All you need to do is sign into GMB with the same email that you used to verify your business in Google Search Console. If you are eligible, you will see the notification for instant verification. If you don’t, it means that the category for your business isn’t eligible at this time.

Bulk Verification

If you have more than 10 locations for the same business, you may be eligible for bulk verification. To do this, sign in to your GMB account, select one of your locations and click “Get verified”. You will then click “Chain” and fill out the verification form with your business name country where you operate, all contact names who will be using the GMB account, phone number, business manager email (someone at the business who can verify you’re a representative of that business), and the email address of your Google Account Manager. You will submit this verification form and it can take up to a week for it to be reviewed and processed by Google.

How to Optimize Your GMB Listing

Once you have verified your business listing, you will need to optimize it by filling it out completely.

One thing to note is that anyone can suggest an edit to your business listing, even your competitors. When a searcher clicks on your business listing, there will be a “Suggest an edit” button. This will allow them to not only suggest edits to your listing, but the changes can actually be made live without you being notified. It is very important that you sign in to your GMB dashboard on a regular basis to ensure no one has made any unwanted changes.

Here are the different areas of the profile that you should fill out:

Info Section

Business Name

Make sure your business name is consistent with how it listed on your website and across all online directories.

Categories

Make sure the Primary Category is as specific as possible.You can list additional categories that apply under the primary category. For instance, if you are a personal injury lawyer, you will want to put Personal Injury Attorney as the primary category. You can list Law Firm, Lawyer, Legal Services, etc under it.

Address

Make sure your address is correct. If you are in a suite, you can include the suite number on the Address 2 line. If you are located in the same building as other attorneys, this can help differentiate your law firm from the rest.

Hours

Enter your business hours, including special hours for holidays, to let potential customers know when they can reach you and when they can visit your location.

Phone Number

Your primary number should be a local business number. You can add a toll-free number as a secondary phone number.

TIP: If you are using a tracking number for your GMB listing, make sure it has a local area code and is listed as the primary number. You will list your actual office phone number as the second number so that Google can still crawl it and see that it is consistent with the phone number on your website and other online directories.

Website

Enter the URL for your business website.

TIP: If you have a multi-location business, you can enter the location page on your website if one exists. You will want to send visitors to the most relevant page on the site for each specific location.

Services

Enter a full list of services your company provides. This will tell Google and anyone who sees the listing what your business does.

Description

GMB allows 750 characters in the business description, but only 250 characters will show up when someone views your business listing in the Knowledge Panel.

TIP: Because of this, you will want to make sure that you put the most important information at the top. This would include priority keywords and your city. Make sure to follow these business description guidelines provided by Google.

Opening Date

Add the opening date so that searchers know how long you have been in business.

Photos & Videos

One thing you don’t want to forget to do is to add photos and videos to your GMB listing. It will make the listing more engaging and will allow the searcher to learn more about your business. According to Google, businesses that have photos on their listing see 35% more clicks to their website. There are various types of photos you can add such as your logo, cover photo, interior and exterior photos, team photos, and more.

Photos should be at least 720 pixels wide by 720 pixels high and JPG or PNG files. Videos can be up to 30 seconds long, up to a 100 MB file size, and a resolution of 720p or higher. Videos should be taken at the business location, include people who work at the business, or directly pertain to the business.

Google Posts

Google Posts are social media posts that show up in the Knowledge Panel when someone searches for your business. You can take advantage of making the post more engaging by adding a photo, call-to-action, and a link to your website. Google Posts are live for 7 days and then you must post a new one. This is a great way to stand out from your competitors, drive traffic to your website, and inform potential customers of company events, special promos, events, and additional information about your business.

Q & A

Questions & Answers is a great feature on GMB that allows people to ask questions about your business that you can answer.

If you want to be proactive, you can create a list of frequently asked questions with the appropriate answers. Keep in mind that anyone can answer the questions posted by users about your business. You will want to make sure you closely monitor new questions that are posted and answer them as quickly as possible. If someone else answers a question and it isn’t accurate, you can reach out to the Google My Business support forums.

GMB Reviews

Online reviews are extremely important and can help you stand out from your competitors. They appear on your business listing, so it is vital that you are continuously working towards getting a larger number of positive reviews. In addition to obtaining reviews, it’s important to reply to all of your reviews. Not only does this show appreciation for the customer who left the review, but it also shows others that you are actively engaging with your listing and influences others to leave a review.

Online reviews have been known to impact local search rankings, click-through-rates, and consumer trust levels. In a study conducted by BrightLocal, they found the following key statistics:

  • 86% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses
  • Consumers read an average of 10 reviews before trusting a local business
  • 91% of 18-34-year-old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 57% of consumers will only use a local business if it has 4 or more stars
  • 89% of consumers read the responses to reviews left by the business owner

The Importance of Google My Business

On Google My Business, you can control how your business information is displayed on Google and Google Maps, so don’t miss out on this free business tool in order to gain more local visibility. Remember that Google is always looking at the business owner engagement and the engagement of searchers on your GMB listing, so it is important to continually interact with it.

Shea Benedict. President of Operations, The Search Engine Guys (A Division of Cloud 8 Sixteen, Inc.)
The Search Engine Guys is a leader in the Digital Marketing Space for the past 12 years.


What is the Importance of Online Directories?

When building out the marketing strategy for your law firm or small business, you might ask yourself if it’s worth taking the time to build out business citations and add firm to niche, relevant directories. Directory and listings management is tedious, time consuming, and can cost money. However, these listings are extremely important to maintain and build in order to get your site to rank in search engines and ultimately drive leads.

What Are Online Directories?

When we talk about online directories and listings, we’re talking about the many local listing websites that you might or might not be familiar with. These online directories display your business information, logo and (most of the time) link to your websites. Every online directory is different, but this is all that is normally included in a typical local listing:

Yelp listing outline

There are two types of listings we are interested in: Local Citations and Niche Directories.

Local Citations for SEO

You probably know the names of the big local citation sites. (Yelp, YellowPages, MapQuest, Foursquare, Bing For Business, Google My Business etc.) But you are probably not familiar with the hundreds of other local business directories on the internet. (Yalwa, USCity.net, Soleo etc.) Why would you want to be on a bunch of directories that most people have never heard of? I will discuss in depth later, but in short, the more your consistent business information is listed on the web, the more trustworthy you look to the major search engines. More trust = higher rankings.

Niche Directories for SEO

Adding your small business to directory sites that are only for businesses in your niche is also incredibly important. This is because links from these sites increases your site’s relevancy. More on relevancy later. 

Every niche has its own directories. For example, Avvo, Lawyers.com, and Findlaw are some of the major directories that an attorney should be on. Angie’s List and Houzz are directories that a home improvement company or contractor would want to be listed on. Just like general local citations, there are hundreds of smaller niche citation websites that you can be added to.

Why Should I Sign Up For Online Directories?

A lot of businesses and business owners who have created listings in the past are all probably skeptical of them for one reason, they don’t bring in a ton of referral business. Some bring in more than others, but in large part, you are not going to be getting dozens of leads each month from these directories. So if they aren’t directly bringing in business, why should I take the time to get listed everywhere? At TSEG, we build out local business profiles to do the following:

Links/Authority Building

Most of these directories send links to your website and they, for the most part, are very authoritative sites. Directories and local listings are an easy way to build up a business’s backlink profile, especially for a small business that has little to no online presence. Even though search engines don’t value these links as highly as those from a news website or authoritative blog, your backlink profile needs to be diverse, and these links do just that.

Niche Directories go a step further because they are not only adding authority to your site but they are also adding in relevancy. For an attorney site, a link from Lawyers.com is much more valuable than a link from a home improvement site because it is more relevant. Google and the other search engines look at the types of sites that are linking to you in order to decide how to rank you.

Majestic has an online tool where you can check the category of your incoming links. (Majestic is a paid online SEO tool, but there is a free trial if you want to try out on your site.) This is an example of the backlink profile for one of our attorney websites:

Link categories

Over 93% of his incoming links are “Law” related. This is an impressive relevance percentage and should cause no confusion for Google as to what kind of keywords they should be showing for. Having a variety of other types of sites linking to you is good and natural, however, the majority of your links should be relevant to your niche.

Link building is one of the most difficult tasks when it comes to SEO, but directory links are very straightforward to build and you can do it in bulk if you have the correct online listing management tool.

Consistent Business Information

Having a consistent business profile across the internet is very important for local Google Maps rankings. If you are struggling to get into the maps, but your site is ranking highly otherwise, you might want to audit your business information for consistency across all of your listings. If you would like to check your business information, we invite you to use our free tool.

Having a consistent online business profile sends good, what we call, “local signals” to Google. This means Google is confident that you are where you say you are. Google and other search engines will avoid ranking your listing in the highest map placements if they aren’t sure you are actually located there.

Having control of these online listings additionally gives you the preparation needed in case any of your business information changes. If your business changes it’s closing time, you want that to be reflected across the web. A customer showing up to your place of business after it has closed can hurt your reputation.

Referral Leads

Earlier, we discussed that many business owners have not put much effort into expensive online directories because a lot of them don’t drive leads. However, the top niche directories and local listing sites can generate leads for your business.

If you are wondering which directories you should join to generate more leads, simply search your keyword into a search engine.

For example:

Search results for "Dallas Car Accident Lawyer"


For the search “Dallas personal injury lawyer”, four of the top seven organic results are attorney directories (Super Lawyers, Justia, FindLaw and Avvo) and another one is a general directory for businesses (Expertise). If you are wanting your business to “cut” the line and be visible on the first page, then you should probably add yourself to these directories.

Now, to be listed at the top of those individual directories is a different story. Most of those sites make you pay for a “premium placement” or “top spot.” Prices vary, but this is not cheap. In my mind this falls more in the category of paid search, not SEO, since the results are not permanent.

Regardless, being on these directories increases your visibility, especially if you are a business that is having trouble showing up in the Search Engine Results.

This is the smallest benefit of these directories for SEO, however, it does not make it insignificant.

How Do I Build Out Online Directories? 

The first step to building out directories is figuring out which directories you are already on. The tool linked above can help with that.

Then it’s just about finding all of the sites you want to be added to and manually adding yourself. There are also citation services where you can get listed in many places at once. 

The easiest approach to setting up directories, though, is to have your digital marketing team help you out. They likely already have a list of sites they can add you to, as well as the tools needed to manage all of these listings.

How Much Do Online Listings and Directories Cost?

Many local listings are free. Yelp, YP.com, and Google My Business are all free. The directories that cost money are most likely going to be your premium niche directories. The costs vary for all of them and many require you to be in contact with a rep that can get you a quote. Some directories will charge you monthly and others require you to pay the year upfront. This is an important factor to keep in mind when setting up directories and budgeting.

Should I Set Up Listings For All Of My Business Locations?

The short answer is yes. Every location you want to appear map rankings should be added to every directory you can. For the paid directories, this will most likely be an extra cost, but it depends on the site. 

If you are not worried about local SEO, then you may not want to set up profiles for your extra locations on the paid directories. There is a law of diminishing returns for links from the same domain. The extra links from a site are probably not worth the cost if you are not worried about local rankings. 

Which Paid Directories Should I Use?

First, you want to decide on a yearly budget for directories. Every company is different. A good rule is you should be spending at least as much as your competitors are. Once you have a budget, you need to prioritize the directories. A number of factors can go into this, including:

  • The authority of the site – Ultimately, you want to be on the sites that have the most authority in Google’s eyes. You can check a site’s authority using a number of online tools, including Ahrefs and Moz.
  • How many links you get from a site – Some websites and directories send more links than others. Another factor to keep in mind is if the links are follow or no-follow. Here is a resource discussing the difference, but the summary is, you want follow links. You can use Ahrefs and Moz to check this as well.
  • The cost – You are going to have to weigh the cost of the directory vs. how much authority the link has. This is the most difficult factor.

Your digital marketing team should be able to audit the value of each directory that you use and recommend which directories you should leverage with your budget.

How TSEG Can Help

TSEG can help you with your listings management needs, including:

  • Setting up local listings
  • Setting up paid niche directories
  • Audit your current listings to make sure all business information is correct and find which sites you are listed on
  • Recommend directories that fit your business
  • On-going management of business information

This is just part of how TSEG can help your small business. To learn more about our SEO and Web design services, contact our team.


Quantity vs Quality of Reviews

Getting an online review from one of your law firm’s clients can make all of your hard work feel like it was worth it. Getting detailed, thoughtful testimonials for others to see is top tier word-of-mouth advertising since the review will stay up on your profile forever.

But what are potential clients really looking for in your reviews? Thanks to a recent study featured by Search Engine Land and conducted by Womply, we now have insights and correlations from over 200,000 small business’ reviews and revenues to help answer this question.

Perfect 5 star ratings can turn away potential clients

The results of the study support claims that a 5-star rating can actually turn away online customers for a few reasons. Firstly, a perfect star rating can be achieved with very few reviews. A low number of reviews and a high rating indicates a new and less established business. Internet users are also aware of cheap seo tricks out there that involve buying fake reviews to give a business a false appearance of being more established.

More interestingly, the study finds that the “sweet spot” for online reviews is 3.5 to 4.5 stars. This range is where the 200,000 small business analyzed were earning the most revenue. Womply goes as far as encouraging the use of negative reviews to achieve a healthy mix of review scores. To be more exact, businesses with 15-30% negative comments earned more revenue than the study’s average. Think about that ratio the next time a negative review blesses your profile.

However, the range from 3 to 4.5 star ratings is where 80% of business are, and when similar scores are seen across the board, online shoppers will likely use other criteria as a basis for comparison. Increasing your law firm’s Local SEO is a great starting-point, but having a strategic, data-driven approach to all of your digital marketing gives you the competitive advantage on all fronts.

Are you an aggressive law firm? Do you want to dominate your market? We may be available in yours. Schedule a call to talk about how TSEG can help your law firm grow.


What Does My SEO Company Do With My Money?

If you could pay Google “X” dollars per month to put your website in that highly-competitive first spot for every search, you would do it. The value of that top-ranked spot, not the amount of work that goes into getting there, is what matters to your business. That being said, there is no one we know at Google that we can pay to get you to the top spot. At the end of the day, all that matters are the results you get from your SEO provider, and we have to work our butts off to move you up the organic search rankings.

Every one of our clients wants to know exactly what they are paying us for on a monthly basis, and our answer will always be “whatever it takes to improve your rankings.” We know if we were at the other end of the call we would say that answer is b.s. However, it is not. There was a time that just filling in meta information could put a webpage at the top. Then tons of links with exact match anchor text, then lots of useless content, then interlinking all your clients, etc, etc, etc. Google changes all the time, so what we need to do to move sites changes all the time as well.

You evaluate your SEO company on your positions and if your “quality” traffic trends up. If you are not getting more cases, you need to work with your digital marketing company to see if you are getting the types of leads you want. You should have working relationship that allows you to promote/SEO the right practice areas to drive the right leads.

The last piece of the puzzle is the uncomfortable piece. Sometimes, it is our clients’ intake departments and processes that are failing. If we work together, we can actually monitor client intake for you, and will help you if necessary. We recently went out to a client’s office to help them with intake. The firm’s close percentage improved by 15% after our weeklong, intensive training. To us, this is what true partners (not vendors like the soda machine filler) do for each other. We do whatever it takes to help our clients succeed. We are your partner in every part of the equation.

SEO Companies Help Drive Traffic to Your Site

SEO companies have specialized experienced helping businesses rank on search engines. SEO experts know what it takes to help bring your website more organic traffic through search engines. An SEO company employs specialists in different areas of search engine optimization, providing a range of services, including developing a customized SEO strategy, auditing your site, and implementing the methods that will help your company reach its goals.

Natural search engine optimization requires time to build sustained traffic-producing outcomes. Once your website has reached the top of Google’s results, you can expect more consistent traffic – and visitors who stay on your site longer – as long as your SEO efforts are maintained.

By targeting the correct keywords on your website and providing value once a visitor lands on it, you can expect quality conversions and a significant amount of inquiries from your target market. The amount of inquiries is directly correlated to how highly your website ranks. An average web user will not go past the first five listings on a search engine results page. This shows how important it is to be in those top spots for your market, and why having an SEO provider gives you an edge over the competition.

SEO is important because of the quality, not just quantity, of your visitors. It helps people who are looking for exactly what you have to offer find you. You want to convey a greater sense of trust for your website and your company – SEO helps you do just that.

SEO Creates More Leads and Potential Sales

When you hire an SEO company, you’re paying them to improve your site by analyzing rankings, tracking conversions, and testing organic/paid traffic. After gathering the data, the SEO experts will refine and retarget their strategy for the best results.

The bottom line is that increased rankings contribute to more traffic, which then leads to more conversions/customers, which ultimately brings in more revenue for your company. Remember that SEO can take some time, but in the long run it will be worth it, as your return on investment will skyrocket.

If you are skeptical to try it out, ask one of the top five ranked companies on Google and see if they feel like the money they are paying for SEO is working or not.

Ready to get started with SEO? Call The Search Engine Guys at (512) 394-7234 or reach out to us online to get in touch with a member of our team.


The Search Engine Guys are a 2019 Austin City Excellence Award Winner!

The results are in!

The Search Engine Guys have been awarded a 2019 Austin City Excellence Award by UpCity. Out of 465 marketing service providers in Austin, we were selected as one of the top 20 based on our UpCity Rating, which measures digital recommendability by reviews, search score, domain authority and more.

As one of UpCity’s top 20 Marketing Service Providers in Austin, we’re able to cut through the noise, standout and create trust with prospective buyers. It’s an honor for us to be represented on the City Excellence Award List.

The infographic below goes more into detail on what makes a great agency in Austin and stats that highlight Austin as a marketing hub in North America.

About UpCity

UpCity helps businesses find marketing providers they can trust. The UpCity Marketplace creates and empowers successful relationships between businesses and marketing service providers. We provide transparency and insights to dramatically improve the marketing partner selection and purchase experience. Over 225,000 businesses visit UpCity each month seeking marketing services from over 33,000 providers in over 600 cities in North America. UpCity helps partners in the marketplace grow their business and build their digital recommendability. (Heidi Sullivan, SVP Product & Marketing, UpCity).


4 Things to Factor in When Picking a Marketing Company

by Ryne Goertz

Unless I receive a direct referral from a happy client, most of the prospective clients I discuss digital marketing strategies with are also talking to other potential digital companies, as they are looking for the perfect fit to help their business reach peak performance. During these conversations, it always seems like marketing companies are pulling the prospect in different directions, “You need to be only doing Pay-per-Click”, “You need a new website”, “For this type of campaign, you should really be focusing on Facebook Ads”, etc. So who is right? Who is wrong? How do you differentiate between all of the different website and digital agencies when you are being pulled in so many directions? How do you know you’re making the right move?

Here are four key factors you should be asking your website company about that can best help determine where you are on the map and how to achieve business goals:

Page Speed Update

In the past year, Google has updated its algorithm to start penalizing websites for how fast (or slow) they load or function on mobile devices. This can be a driving force in mobile rankings as well as help overall Google Ad Quality Scores. Google has a developers tool called Page Speed Insights. Plug in your website url in its entirety to get an accurate reading. For ex: Plug in “https://www.williamskherkher.com/” not just “www.williamskherkher.com”. If your website isn’t where you want it to be, ask your current company to look into the issues raised by the Page Speed Insights tool and make the necessary changes.

Pay-per-Click

Your PPC campaign can get expensive really quickly. Before you agree to an SEO company telling you to spend “X” amount, have them send you over a PPC forecast showing the amount of money it would take to be competitive. Google Ad’s forecasting tool allows companies to plug in your geographic area and search terms to determine a budget for the campaign. Based on Google’s historical data, they can predict cost, impressions, clicks, click-through-rate, cost-per-click, and how many conversions you can expect. Cost per click varies greatly per market, so it’s smart to know where your ad dollars are going and how you are allocating among keywords related to your business.

Hotjar or Crazy Egg

These two are tools that can help you see the activity of visitors on your website. They create what is called a “heatmap” that tracks how far down visitors are going on your page as well as where they are clicking. If your website is having trouble converting visitors, this tool could find the problem. These two are both great, however, don’t keep them on your site for long periods of time as they can tend to slow down your website speed, but one month’s worth of data could help you in the long run.

Tracking Leads

One of the things I hear the most from attorneys is that while they may be getting traffic to their site, the leads that they are getting may not be the types of cases they want to bring on. You should be tracking your leads that are coming through your site and listening to the calls or reading the contact forms/live chat transcripts (if you use one). How were they referred to your site? Are they quality leads? With these programs, you can track the keywords that were searched before the visitor landed on your page and called you. If you are repeatedly showing up for terms and getting calls that you don’t want, you should communicate that to your marketing company so they can adjust keywords and campaign strategy accordingly.

All in all, there are many different platforms that are available that can help you make an educated decision before even calling a potential marketing company. If a marketing company is just throwing out a number for you to spend without providing screen-shots of the problem and detail on their strategy to enhance your business’s performance, that is a red flag and something you should consider when choosing your digital agency. Choose an agency that knows your business, your goals, and is willing to share insight on how they will be managing your campaign. Transparency creates comfort in knowing that you are in good hands.

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