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.
When deciding how much you should be paying for SEO. Ask yourself, and your digital marketing company, the following questions:
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.
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:
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.
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:
If your site is suffering from SEO problems, our team can help you determine their cause and take action to fix the issues.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Reviews from your clients on Google play an important role in your marketing efforts. Good reviews have been correlated with better local rankings and higher click-through rates (CTR). People read reviews before selecting an attorney, so reviews help legitimize your firm to prospective clients. If they see that you’ve helped other people in their area, you are humanized and become more than words and pictures on a screen. You stand out from the herd. Reviews are essential to building a strong online presence and capturing as many positive reviews as you can should be a part of your marketing strategy.
With that in mind, it must be said that your reviews have to be positive for them to have the impact you want on your firm. Negative reviews can end up hurting your efforts. Take, for example, the case of Donald Tobias, a lawyer who received a mysterious one-star Google review that simply said “It was horrible.” Tobias had never met or worked with the person who left the review, and it seems as though the reviewer mistakenly left a review on his page under the assumption they were commenting on the death of another man named Donald Tobias who was hit by a train. Google refused to take down the review, despite Tobias’s objections. This can obviously have negative consequences on his business.
There are ways for firms to respond to reviews on Google, so there is some form of recourse from misleading or toxic reviews, and Google has been known to remove some reviews, such as those from competitors. However, another way to combat a negative review is to simply outnumber it with positive reviews. A person reading reviews of your firm will question the one review that claims to have had a bad experience when faced with numerous people who were happy with your service.
Getting clients to leave positive reviews of your firm can be a challenge. Typically, people aren’t moved to go out of their way to leave a review unless they’ve had a bad experience. For the most part, clients who receive service they are satisfied with don’t feel the need to go online to leave a review. However, when they are prompted to leave a review, these positive interactions can be captured and added to your online profile. Adding positive reviews to your firm’s Google profile can help you get more clients. Getting more clients can net you more opportunities to deliver great service and therefore get more reviews.
We have software that helps streamline how law firms get Google reviews. It enables your firm to obtain reviews from happy clients with a simple text message. They can complete their review right on their mobile phone in a matter of seconds. You can see a demonstration of the software below.
To learn more about The Search Engine Guys‘s reviews platform, contact us at (512) 394-7234.
Here are the two main reasons you should make sure your website is mobile friendly:
To test if Google considers your website to be “mobile friendly” click here.
Keep in mind that if you have a great website and don’t want to go through the process of re-designing it from scratch, we are able to convert your website into a responsive theme. Depending on your design, some or many elements may need to change… but we can often maintain the overall look and feel of your design.
If you would like to explore a new responsive website, or converting your existing website to a responsive theme – call us at 800.267.1704 and one of our account managers will help you determine your options.
Here at The Search Engine Guys, we take pride in our agility; we’re quick to execute client requests and responsive to Google algorithm updates, all while managing our daily tasks. As a player in the tech and web game, having an edge up on our competition is always important. And we would not be able to maintain our competitive edge without a variety of tools at our disposal, day in and day out.
As the SEO Strategist, the tool I use most when I’m working is Majestic SEO. Majestic offers a myriad of tools to really take a deep look at a given website. Similar to many other online services (including search engines), Majestic SEO compiles what I personally believe to be the largest and most complete data set available. While they are not the only service to provide this kind of reporting, based on my experience, the metrics that Majestic SEO uses are the most beneficial and accurate on the market. From the Majestic page “About Us“,
Majestic SEO surveys and maps the Internet and has created the largest commercial Link Intelligence database in the world. This Internet map is used by SEOs, New Media Specialists, Affiliate Managers and online Marketing experts for a variety of uses surrounding online prominence including Link Building, Reputation Management, Website Traffic development, Competitor analysis and News Monitoring. As link data is also a component of search engine ranking, understanding the link profile of your own, as well as competitor websites can empower rational study of Search Engine positioning. Majestic SEO is constantly revisiting web pages and sees around a billion URLs a day.
The most frequently used Majestic tool would definitely be the Site Explorer. Its easy-to-navigate interface allows large data sets to be parsed and summarized to make sure you see all of the most valuable information about a site all on one page. Simply enter in the URL you wish to investigate, click explore, and voila!
Once you’ve entered in your URL, you’re whisked away to find the Explorer Summary. This page displays all kinds of valuable information, like:
While this page displays only a summary, being able to visualize the important pieces of each section lays the foundation for professional site analysis. There are clickable tabs that allow you to delve deeper into each section, as you’ll notice below:
On May 22nd, Matt Cutts announced that Google had begun rolling out an algorithm update known as Penguin 2.0. Webmasters were quick to notice that many of the sites that lost ranking on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) had something in common – over optimized anchor text. What had once been a viable strategy was now being frowned upon. Without a tool like Majestic SEO Explorer, noticing these trends would have been much, much harder.
Another thing to love about Majestic SEO is the multi-tiered pricing structure. For starters, if you are interested in exploring a site that you own, there is free access by going through a quick validation process. This free access extends only to exploring your own site, but for the average website owner or in-house marketing guy, this is a perfect taste of what is to come with the monthly pricing.
The first paid package is the Silver tier at $49.99 a month. Compared to Majestic’s two major competitors, this entry level tier is easily the most affordable. This package offers everything that an individual or small business would need, including 60 detailed reports a month, and a maximum of 5 million analyzable back links.
The second paid tier is the Gold tier, at $149.99 a month. Compared to Majestic’s competitors, this mid-level package is still the most affordable. The major differences in the Silver and Gold packages are the increased number of detailed reports allowed monthly (300 a month) and an increase in the maximum number of analyzable back links (25 million). This tier will offer plenty of functionality and has plenty of allocated resources for even a large, enterprise-level corporation.
The final, largest tier is Platinum. At a whopping $399.99 monthly, you are offered the ability to run a staggering 950 reports per month and analyze up to 100 million back links. The big difference in the Gold and Platinum tiers is the ability to access the Majestic API, giving developers easy access to parse the database and extract information to build their own reports.
At The Search Engine Guys, we have subscribed to and used Majestic SEO on a daily basis for over 3 years. We would not be able to handle the high volume of client reporting and data analysis we examine without the tools provided by Majestic SEO, and recommend it to anyone looking for a comprehensive way to do website analysis. With continued updates and support, the team behind Majestic continues to impress us, and we’re looking forward to maintaining our relationship with the company for years to come.
To contact the author, emails can be sent to: email@example.com
Since the idea of the internet and websites first caught on around 1989, marketers and designers have been studying intently to find the best way to leverage consumer interaction. Just like in traditional marketing, a great deal of research is conducted with the intent of discovering how web users engage with the information on any given website. When The Search Engine Guys take on a new client for design and optimization, one thing we try to keep in mind is the way people naturally scan any given page for information that they’re looking for. Luckily, we don’t need to spend much time researching this user interaction because there are plenty of other groups interested in this kind of data, and they have made it readily available to anyone who searches for it. I want to provide a little bit of insight into some of the more popular studies on eye-tracking and how we use these data in our designs.
The idea of tracking eye movements and creating diagrams dates back to the late 1800’s when a French ophthalmologist noticed his test subjects were reading in a series of short stops and quick movements, as opposed to a long, smooth sweep. Here is an early diagram of fixations and saccades, the quick movements from point to point:
This observation was further explored in the 1900’s, first with primitive contacts that had aluminum pointers, and later by reflecting beams of light off of the subjects’ eyes and onto a film. It was later observed that eye movements are largely dependent on the task given to the user. To quote Alfred L. Yarbus,
“Records of eye movements show that the observer’s attention is usually held only by certain elements of the picture…. Eye movement reflects the human thought processes; so the observer’s thought may be followed to some extent from records of eye movement (the thought accompanying the examination of the particular object). It is easy to determine from these records which elements attract the observer’s eye (and, consequently, his thought), in what order, and how often.”
In the 1980’s we saw the advent of real-time eye tracking using computers. This allowed for a much more accurate depiction of how the user interacts with any given image or text. The pieces were finally coming together to lay the foundation for eye tracking on web pages.
Well, not in the scary big brother sense. In 2009, Microsoft sponsored a popular study titled, What Do You See When You’re Surfing? Using Eye Tracking to Predict Salient Regions of Web Pages. The premise of the study was to gain “an understanding of how people allocate their visual attention when viewing Web pages”. While there had been similar studies in the past, the researchers point out that these studies were generally ambiguous, only identifying scan paths as opposed to fixation time, or using only three different sample pages for test subjects. Leveraging an eye-tracker built by Tobii Technology, Microsoft presented 361 web pages to 20 test subjects. With the data they collected, Microsoft was able to describe the general flow of eye movements, which provides us with invaluable information about user interaction. A few notable facts:
The study suggested that those who use the internet once or more a day spend less time actually reading the content, and scan pages faster than those who do not use the web as often. Other findings include:
The most linked-to research done on eye-tracking was conducted by the Nielson Norman Group, or NN/g. The study is a 355 page report based on usage data from over 300 users looking at hundreds of different websites. The findings revealed many important insights.
We found that users’ main reading behavior was fairly consistent across many different sites and tasks. This dominant reading pattern looks somewhat like an F and has the following three components:
- Users first read in a horizontal movement, usually across the upper part of the content area. This initial element forms the F’s top bar.
- Next, users move down the page a bit and then read across in a second horizontal movement that typically covers a shorter area than the previous movement. This additional element forms the F’s lower bar.
- Finally, users scan the content’s left side in a vertical movement. Sometimes this is a fairly slow and systematic scan that appears as a solid stripe on an eyetracking heatmap. Other times users move faster, creating a spottier heatmap. This last element forms the F’s stem.
F-shaped Heat Maps
NN/g also reported several interesting bits about different reasons users utilize search functions, how they analyze those search results, and how they choose which to choose:
One final point worth mentioning from this study is the classification of scanning behaviors, and why people may read more or less content on your website.
- Exhaustive review: People look extensively and repeatedly at an area or page because they expect the information they want to be there, but they cannot find it.
- Directed scanning: A person looks for specific information such as a name or word and expects to find it on the page.
- Motivated scanning: Scan patterns fueled by good page layout, interesting content, personal interest, or a trusted suggestion.
- Impressionable scanning: A person is more open to reading the words as the author has written them.
Here at The Search Engine Guys, we pay attention to details like these to make sure that our clients’ websites are optimized to capture the attention of the user. Our goal is to make sure the user has quick access to whatever information they may have been looking for. Contact and brand information is seen quickly, followed by easy navigation to deeper areas of information. Thinking about it, it makes sense that web designers use this kind of knowledge to help map the flow of a website. Being able to leverage the instincts of a user means higher conversion rates and in turn, more leads, and that’s good news for everyone.
To contact the author, emails can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
At the annual Search Engine Strategies conference in London last week, Searchmetrics founder Marcus Tober lead a session on “Meaningful SEO Metrics.” In the presentation, Tober tackled a variety of topics including the move from page rank to author rank in the future of SEO.
The presentation began with Tober explaining the importance of the “SEO visibility” metric. He said that the cumulative number of all relevant keyword rankings for a market reveal important trends. The ranking on single keywords is worth less, according to Tober, because of personalization, localization, and search history. Analyzing SEO strategies with this broader scope will allow businesses to see trends that are independent from seasonal effects or traffic spikes based on independent events.
One of the most notable moments in the presentation was when Tober directly disputed a statement made by Google Engineer Matt Cutts. When asked if Google +1’s affect a website’s ranking, Cutts answered “Not really.” Cutts claimed there was no “direct effect” on rankings from +1’s, but said Google does “have an authorship proposal.”
According to Tober, Cutts was not telling the whole truth. Tober excitedly told the audience that +1’s do indeed influence search. He explained that several experiments conducted over the last year in Searchmetrics Labs found that Google+ triggers instant indexation. He claimed that based on analysis with different unique postings, “URLs with a +1 are being indexed instantly and rank for the title as well as some longtail queries.”
These findings, Tober said, illustrate the move from Page Rank to Author Rank in SEO. He quoted Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt saying “Within search results, information tied to a verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results.” Tober continued to say “the true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”
Tober concluded the presentation by reminding SEOs to focus on the big picture and not get bogged down studying one metric. He recommended that marketers measure activity and outcomes saying, “understand how the business makes money, build a simple model, and remember that the best metrics guide behavior.”
Internally at the search engine guys we have been watching this closely… since May of 2012 Google+ profiles, circles and +1 (as well as other social media profiles which may factor into the author-rank equation) have become increasingly important to our SEO strategies. Please contact us to schedule a call with a web strategist if you have questions about SEO, author rank and how to prepare your website to “weather the storm” as Google continues to shift from page rank to author-rank.
According to research firm eMarketer, Google is likely to exceed Facebook in selling online display ads in the United States. Google is expected to have a 15.4% share of the U.S. market. eMarketer said Google is projected to make $2.31 billion in revenue from online display ads. These are more profitable than the text-based ads that appear next to search results and account for the bulk of Google’s revenue.
This lead in online display ad marks a historic day for Google. This is the first time ever that it will be the leader in three different modes of online advertising: display ads, web-search ads, and mobile ads.
eMarketer calculates that Facebook will hold 14.4% of the market this year with $2.16 billion in U.S. revenue. Back in February, eMarketer predicted that Facebook would be on top with 16.8% of the market and Google with 16.5%.
(Graph from The Wall Street Journal)
eMarketer estimates that the display ad market to grow 21.5% to almost $15 billion in the U.S. this year, compared to last year’s $12.3 billion. Collectively, Google and Facebook will have nearly 30% of this year’s display ad revenue. In the year 2014, eMarketer predicts the two companies to have 37% of the market.
Google continues to make it easy for advertisers to use one source for all of their online marketing needs, via traditional desktop Adwords, Mobile adwords, display ads and re-marketing – both within their search network and on thousands of partner websites within Google’s content /display network.
Contact us at The Search Engine Guys if you would like to explore options for PPC advertising on Google’s network.
Last week Joe Devine, CEO of Cloud  Sixteen, Inc., spoke at the 2012 summer session of M&L Legal Management and Marketing forum. The goal of these seminars is to provide an arena in which different personal injury lawyers and law firms can gather together and share ideas on how to be successful in their industry. Since 1992, Marshall Hughes and Lee Coleman have been sponsoring these events. Past seminars have taken place in Aruba, Utah, and the Dominican Republic.
This year’s conference took place at The Fairmont Hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia from June 21 – 23. The topic of Joe’s talk was “The Art of Designing Your Website for Maximum Conversion.”
Last week, Joe Devine, CEO of Cloud  Sixteen, Inc., spoke at the Western Trial Lawyers Association’s annual seminar, lasting from June 11th to the 14th, at the Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui, Hawaii. The theme of this year’s conference was “Pride, Passion & The Practice of Law.”
The conference had a number of guest speakers discussing various topics, and Mr. Devine spoke about the benefits that search engine optimization and live chat can have specifically for attorneys’ practices. This is the third year that Mr. Devine has spoken at this conference.
Last week, Cloud  Sixteen, Inc. was excited to be invited to be a part of the M&L Legal Marketing and Management Seminar in Palm Beach, Aruba. The conference was founded in 1992 by J. Marshall Hughes and Lee Coleman, and they have continued to host this event bi-annually since that time. This has allowed Legal marketers to bring their knowledge and expertise to the Law Firms in attendance.
This year, Cloud  Sixteen, Inc. CEO Joe Devine was invited to speak at the conference, held from January 11th – 16th. Some notable sponsors for the event included Plaintiff Investment Funding, Innovative Legal Marketing, Lien Resolution Services, LLC., as well as other established marketing firms. We were proud to be a part of this great event, and hope that we can continue to participate in the years to come. Thank you to M & L Legal Marketing and Management for putting on such a great event, and we look forward to the next seminar in summer 2012!