Blog

Five questions to ask your digital marketing agency before hiring them

Working with a digital marketing agency can increase the speed and return on your digital advertising investment. An agency most likely has the resources and experience to achieve better results than either an in-house team or the up-and-down world of freelancers that come with widely varying skills and ability.

However, while most agencies will be quick to assure you that they have the capabilities to meet your digital marketing needs, you don’t want to be oversold. Choosing the right agency can reduce costs and lead to faster and more pronounced growth, while choosing the wrong agency for you can mean the wrong fit, a lack of results, and can be costly.

To choose the right agency for you, it is a good idea to ask some specific questions to see how they align with your expectations:

1. What is your process?

You can tell a lot about how well a business understands your digital marketing needs when they describe how they’ll meet those needs.

This slightly less-common question (compared to the standard “how can you help me?”) requires the agency to tell you how they work and how they’ll handle your campaigns. You can also tell how experienced and knowledgeable they are about your specific needs by how well they can describe their process to you.

2. What experience do you have handling clients in my field?

Here, you get more directly into the experience of the agency. While many will claim to be able to meet your expectations, not everyone will have experience in your particular field.

Ask to see examples of their previous work for clients that are similar to your business and your marketing needs. If they can’t produce them, they may not have as much experience or expertise as they claim.

You may be tempted to go with an agency that is unproven in your field, in the hopes that they’ll bring a fresh perspective or new skills to your campaigns. That decision is up to you – and could pay off with the right agency. For other business owners, trusting your campaign to an experienced firm that can show results in your field lessens the risk that you’ll spend money to get little or no return.

3. How do you use digital marketing for your own brand?

Perhaps experience isn’t as important to you as the skillset available at the agency. In that case, you’ll discover a great deal from how they market themselves. You might ask to see how they’ve handled their own campaigns to get a glimpse of the creativity they will show your campaign.

This isn’t the most important factor, however. Many successful agencies do little for their own brands, largely because they are focused mainly on their own clients’ success.

4. When will I see results and what will those results look like?

Agencies can be either too reluctant or too eager to answer this question, and that’s telling in both cases. If they aren’t willing to pin down precisely what success looks like within a reasonable span of time, that may indicate they lack the capabilities to deliver.

On the other hand, a time frame that seems too short with results that sound too optimistic should also make you reconsider.

Look for a reliable, scientific means of proving positive results and a time frame that gives enough time (but not too much) to start seeing those results. Digital marketing should take half a year or more to start seeing improvements, depending on your industry and area of focus. Make sure you have a way to measure the success of the agency with some data at some point during the working relationship.

5. What will this cost?

Cost is always a significant concern any time you are investing in your business. Before settling on your digital marketing agency, make sure you set some hard numbers, and there’s an understanding of just how much you are willing to invest to meet the results you expect.

Once you’ve received the right answers to these questions from a digital marketing agency, you’ll be in a much more comfortable position to select the team that is right for you. It’ll be easier to decide on the agency with the capabilities to meet your expectations and to deliver the results you are looking for.


Are these valuable leads? Why communication is key to optimizing PPC campaigns

What do you define as a conversion? A conversion, in internet marketing, occurs when a visitor on a website completes a desired goal, such as filling out a contact form, calling the phone number, or engaging in an online chat platform. That is the simple way to look at a conversion. On the other end of the spectrum, a conversion to a business owner may be defined as a purchase or a potential client sign-up. This is what makes our conversion numbers so important and something we always want to focus our efforts on.

Of course, it is not reasonable to expect all conversions will be high-dollar purchases for an e-commerce business or million dollar cases for a law firm, but at some point the conversion must be valued. Too often, I see a disconnect in communication between the marketer and the client when discussing which conversions from a paid ad campaign were worthwhile. This information is important to the marketer so they can figure out what keyword brought in that million dollar conversion and they can continue optimizing their PPC campaign. With this information, paid search experts can really focus on what is worth their time and effort, versus wondering, “Sh*t! Are these actually leads?”

Most marketers find themselves wasting time focusing on conversions/leads that may not be a qualified lead. This stresses the importance of following up with your clients to make sure that the leads you are bringing in are worth their time and money.

To sum this up, it’s important to ask yourself and your client the questions below when considering what to focus the campaign budget on and how to tailor the ads for those big-money keywords.

  • What does an ideal lead look like?
  • What are things that can make a lead disqualified?
  • What are you willing to spend for a qualified lead?

Communication is KEY. As a marketer, we can create pivot tables to analyze our ads and keywords with our conversions to better optimize our campaigns. But if the client says that 80% of those leads were junk, then our optimization is thrown out the window. We must follow up with clients on a consistent basis to make sure our efforts are giving them great return on investment. By implementing this practice, we can set up a pivot table of QUALIFIED leads and focus our efforts where they really need to be.


How Effective are Google Ads?

Spending money to advertise on Google is not cheap, so it’s a smart question for any business to ask how effective paid search marketing is in 2018. Have browsing habits evolved? Do people still click on ads?

In a 2017 study of Google users, 60% of participants responded that they will click on any result that is relevant to their search, regardless of whether it is an ad or organic result. Only 24% of participants responded that they would actively avoid clicking on ads. This means that 3 out of 4 people will still click on your ad if it is relevant to what they are looking for.

Because these potential clients are already looking for your product or service, it’s merely a matter of a click and an action (phone call, internet purchase, email, contact form, etc.) on their part to convert that into a sale or a potential sale.

Inbound marketing strategies like paid search advertising tend to generate a more significant return on investment (ROI) than outbound marketing strategies (email campaigns, scattershot social media advertising, postcards, flyers, etc.) because your audience is specifically looking for your services.

It is important to hire an experienced and reputable internet marketing firm as a resource to handle your online marketing efforts, including creating and managing your paid search campaigns. It is entirely possible to spend (and lose) quite a bit of money if you do not set up and manage the campaigns the right way. By hiring a firm that has experience in running successful campaigns, you can rest easier knowing that your money is being spent the right way.

If you are considering hiring a firm to help you take advantage of the more than 160 billion searches per month on Google, there are a few questions that you will want to ask your rep, including:

  • Have you handled campaigns in my specific industry before?
  • What type of ad spends have you worked with in the past?
  • What is the spend-range that you recommend for my specific campaign?
  • What is the communication process like? What type of reporting do you provide?

Once you have discussed their experience and plans for your particular campaign, you can be comfortable in handing the keys to your paid search advertising over to professionals who do this on a daily basis. As always, make sure to select a firm that you trust, and someone who you know will be looking to maximize your return on investment.


Communication is the Root of All Success

Have you ever purchased a service from a marketing company who promised to be there for you no matter what happens? After signing up, did your account manager fail to answer your call, or return your call much later in the week?

This is a clear sign that the company is either a.) unable to keep the commitment they made or b.) are trying to hide something from you. Companies don’t usually stay silent when they have positive results to show and are often quick to avoid you when something negative happens. The whole key to successful marketing is figuring out what is is working and what is not. Your success should be their success. Marketing is not a science and there isn’t just one equation that is successful for everybody.

Every account is different and there needs to be an ongoing dialogue between the account rep and the client. Marketing companies should use the data from campaigns that are not working just as effectively as they can from campaigns that are delivering. An unsuccessful campaign can tell them what efforts are not worth the time, effort, and investment, and they can instead put more work into strategies that are currently working for others.

As the client, it is essential that you feel comfortable to contact your rep whenever you have questions about anything. At the end of the day, the marketing company needs to be responsive to your concerns, feedback, and suggestions. They don’t have to agree with you and should be comfortable enough with you to voice their own concerns or tell you why they disagree with specific suggestions, but again, a healthy dialogue needs to take place.

Make sure you get to know the history and the strategy of the marketing company that you are signing a contract with. Also, be sure that your representative gets to know you as well. You should have a very good idea of what kind of company they are and how they handle their business by the flow of the conversation leading up to the signing of the contract.If they are missing scheduled calls or are rescheduling meetings consistently, these are red flags that most likely will not change when you sign up with them. Also, communication should not be limited to emails. There need to be phone calls included here and there to maintain that communication, trust, and professional relationship. It’s better to over-communicate than to not talk at all. Communication is the first step to solving any issues and alleviating concerns and needs to be present in every step of business.


Custom Photography Challenge

When I began my career at Cloud 8 Sixteen, Inc., I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to photograph attorneys from one of the most prestigious law firms in America. Fast forward two years and I am pulling up to Williams Kherkher’s office, a massive building located in Houston, Texas. Williams Kherkher is a personal injury law firm that was founded in 1983. Over the last 35 years, the firm has recovered billions for victims across the country. Photographing a firm of this caliber was both scary and exciting at the same time. I knew the shoot would be a challenge, but it was one I was ready to take on.

When I was first asked to do custom photography for this client, I thought, “Wow, what an honor! I wonder if I’m ready for this?” While I have years of photography experience, I had recently taken on this new role at work and was honored to be given such a huge opportunity. I spent the next few weeks mentally preparing for the assignment. I knew that this photoshoot would be very different from photoshoots I have done in the past. These lawyers were not my close friends or family. In fact, it was the first time I was meeting them. The only thing I knew about them was they were a big freaking deal.

I was so anxious the morning of the photoshoot. I couldn’t stop thinking about all of the unknowns. It was my first time seeing their office and I didn’t know what kind of space I would be working with. Lucky for me, all my nerves disappeared as soon as I was introduced to the lawyers at the firm. I finally realized that the day wasn’t about me but was about all the awesome people standing in front of me. The rest of the day was better than I could have ever imagined. I really enjoyed being pushed outside of my comfort zone and loved learning more about their practice. I left the office feeling extremely grateful for the day I had.

The most valuable thing I learned from this experience is that the client always comes first. If I would have continued the photoshoot believing that the day was about me and my photos, I would not have gotten the shots my client needed. Understanding this allowed me to capture images that highlighted the special qualities Williams Kherkher has to offer as a personal injury firm. When I look back on the day, I am proud of what I accomplished. I captured photos that I loved, but more importantly, I took photos my client was proud to show on their website.


4 Tips for the May 2018 Instagram Algorithm Change

It’s no secret that everyone is confused about the new algorithm change that Instagram decided to move forward with. In March of this year, Instagram changed the way posts are shown on the platform – no more chronological order. This month, Instagram decided to change the algorithm again. Now, posts show up in terms of engagement. This change could be perceived as positive or negative. From a business standpoint, this change makes it a lot harder for someone to see your branded posts, but it gives you the urge to work harder for your recognition. Here are four ways you can stay relevant on Instagram after its algorithm adjustment.

1. Give and Get

If you want people to interact with your posts, you have to be sure you’re interacting with them as well. If someone comments on your picture, try responding as quickly as possible to keep your engagement rates high. By engaging with your audience, Instagram rewards you by pushing your post to the top of your audience’s feed. Keep comments as personal as possible. The smartest way to go about this is by not responding with generic comments like “Thanks!” or “Good image.” If you respond generically, your audience will think you use an automated platform that pushes those comments out and they might unfollow you. Also, “like” the posts that you know are relevant to your brand because this will create a better relationship between you and your audience.

2. Run Instagram Ads

Running an ad on Instagram is a great way to increase your brand awareness, because you are in full control. Not only does it help with awareness, it might increase brand engagement by gaining more followers. When you create an Instagram ad, you have the option to pick what goal you are after. If your goal for an Instagram ad is to increase traffic to your website, you have the option to link your website to the ad so the user can easily visit your site. The best part of running Instagram ads is that you can create specific target audiences. You can choose between demographics, age, location, and interests. For example, you can configure your ad to only appear for males within the age range of 18-24 who are in Miami, FL. By creating a specific target audience, it is more likely that the user seeing your ad will want to engage with your account.

3. Day/Times are Important

It is important to check when your followers are most active on Instagram. If you registered your Instagram for business purposes, you can view multiple insights on your followers. Post your content during these times and try to increase engagement from the second you post. A lot of engagement in a short amount of time lets Instagram know that the content you posted is of quality and will rank higher in the algorithm (more people will see your post).

4. Utilize Instagram Stories

Why are Instagram stories more important than ever? Instagram cares about all engagement, not just a post or comment/like. Try posting a story on your account using a poll. You can accomplish this by creating a new story, taking a picture or video, and clicking on the square faced icon at the top right of the screen. Once you’ve clicked on that icon, you have the option to “create a poll.” Creating a poll is a great way to make people engage with your account. The more your users interact with your stories, the more likely your posts will show up in their feed. Use calls to action including action words like “Comment below” or “Swipe Up” because it influences the user to want to engage with your account.

click here to add a poll to your instagram storyJust because Instagram changed their algorithm to favor engagement, you shouldn’t neglect the other factors of running an Instagram account. Remember, an Instagram account is more likely to get a follow if the brand stays consistent. Try using the same filters and similar content to keep your account authentic. Lastly, use as many trending hashtags as possible. By keeping up with trending hashtags, your post is more likely to show up in the explore section and increase your chance of engagement. Instagram has been constantly evolving with the increase of users and it is important to follow their footsteps!

Follow us on Instagram to see how we use each of these strategies to keep our followers engaged.


Adios, Yahoo

Starting November of 2017, The Search Engine Guys is saying “adios” to Yahoo’s search engine. After years of collecting data from Yahoo, we’ve decided to let go of our old friend to redouble our efforts into Google and Bing.

Why Goodbye?

In recent years, the world of SEO has seen a decline in search volume coming from Yahoo. As of October 2017, Yahoo’s search engine market share has dropped to 4.51% as reported by NetMarketShare.com.

SEO Market Share

On top of dropping below 5%, The Search Engine Guys‘s clientele has expressed less and less interest with search rankings in Yahoo in comparison to both Bing and Google. As a result, we will no longer report rankings on Yahoo.

Additionally, Yahoo offers less in terms of access to search data and statistics. This is a major factor considering Google’s Search Console and Bing’s Webmaster Tools do just that: provide us with all the insights and diagnostics about our websites that we need. While Yahoo doesn’t have its own webmaster tool, Bing’s Webmaster Tools can serve some, but not all, functions for both search engines.

Yahoo and Bing

 
Yahoo and Bing

Since 2009, Yahoo has been a part of the Bing network. The partnership originally focused on paid listings in the SERPs. Search pages on Yahoo had to display advertisements from Microsoft (Bing) on all desktop searches. The organic listings in Yahoo were also powered by Bing’s search engine. Part of the deal included Yahoo giving up it’s search engine tech to be replaced by Bing’s.

Yahoo gained more control of the ads displayed on their search pages in 2015 in a new deal with Microsoft that limited Bing’s ads to only display on 51% of searches done on Yahoo. This part of the deal only covered desktop searches – Yahoo had complete control of the ads displayed on searches conducted through mobile devices.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, Yahoo is a mask for Bing when looking at organic search results. The TSEG team believes that abandoning Yahoo to monitor the rankings more closely on Bing while continuing to focus on Google will provide us with richer insights for the future of SEO strategies without compromising the 4.51% of total searches done in Yahoo.

If you would like to learn more about how SEO can help your website, contact us at (512) 806-7955. We’d be happy to walk you through the benefits of optimizing your website for Google.


New Design Alert: Hart, McLaughlin & Eldridge

We are excited to announce the launch of a new website design for Hart McLaughlin & Eldridge!

Overall, the site’s new style reflects the efficiency and the professionalism of this experienced Chicago legal team. Our designers focused on sharp lines with minimal clutter on each page, conveying a formal sense of simplicity and directness. The clean presentation of information, coupled with the crisp lines and the lack of distracting features, should inspire site visitors with confidence. We have found that frustrating or confusing website designs can discourage potential clients from ever contacting the business in question. Our goal with this site’s structure was to create a simple, easy online experience that can flow smoothly into a call or an email to this skilled legal team.

Stylistic Features

The homepage of the new design features rotating images of Chicago in the background. Our attorney’s targeted clientele will most likely recognize Millennium Park and the Buckingham Fountain. The first thing site visitors will see on the homepage is the assertive, reassuring directive “Start with the end game.” Scrolling down the page reveals what the end game is: “Results.” New site visitors will be heartened by the sense that this legal team already has a history of favorable outcomes for their clients.
The other main pages on the site—”Legal Team,” “Practice Areas,” “Accomplishments,” and “Contact Us,” are all tidy and structured. The Legal Team page presents uniform black-and-white photos of the firm’s employees. The consistency of the photos conveys a sense of respectability and attention to detail.
When it comes to simple ease of access, our “Practice Areas” page presents the legal firm’s various fields in neat, direct rectangular boxes. A quick scan can familiarize a viewer with many of their practice areas. The fact that the attorneys handle such a wide variety of cases should impart the idea that this is an experienced team with a wide array of skills.

Contact Us

We are certainly proud of this new design and excited to offer it to a respected client! If you are interested in learning more about how we fit our website design to our customers’ business needs, feel free to contact us at (512) 806-7955.


Are You Amped about AMP?

Accelerated Mobile Pages for Lawyers

Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, have recently been gaining a lot of attention, even though they were first announced in 2015 and were implemented in 2016. We’ve been receiving lots of questions about the value of AMP, especially when it comes to the search results. So far, we have been able to identify some positive features and a few drawbacks to these pages.

For those of you are interested in, here’s what we’ve gathered so far.

What is AMP?

AMP is an open source project that is a subset of HTML, the markup language and specifications for making websites. AMP has restrictions on the type of HTML tags website creators use that allow a mobile web page to load faster. It also includes a proprietary version of JavaScript, which also puts limits on functionality in favor of speed. It was initially engineered by Google, and therefore is obviously of import to SEOs. This is a continuation of Google’s push for more mobile-friendly web design.

The standard was first announced in 2015, began appearing in mobile search results last February, and was rolled out onto Google’s global mobile search results last September. Because AMP is a mobile standard, it only appears on smartphones, tablets, and other smaller-scale devices. It has no bearing on search results on PCs and laptops.

Benefits of AMP

The goal of AMP is to provide speed to mobile webpages, and that’s where it shines. Page speed is a very minor factor in Google’s ranking algorithm, but it’s incredibly important to mobile web users. As more people are searching via mobile platforms, the value of page speed becomes clear. If a webpage takes more than a few moments to load, many people simply hit their back button and go to the next one, which may load faster.

AMP pages have been receiving favorable treatment on search results pages, and even get a nifty lightning bolt icon next to their listings that indicates their AMP status, as shown below.
Accelerated Mobile Pages

As a result of their zippy load times, which are essentially instantaneous, visitors may be less likely to bounce off of AMP pages, which can have an indirect effect on rankings as well.

Drawbacks of AMP

For all of these benefits, it’s hard to imagine why we may be hesitant to add AMP to sites.

Many of our clients have some form of live chat on their sites. Because AMP pages are using a barebones version of HTML that severely restricts the types of elements that can be included in favor of reduced page load times, the JavaScript that chat systems (like Ngage Live Chat for attorneys) is built in won’t work in some cases. This can have a very real impact on lead-capture systems that may outweigh the load speed improvements AMP may provide.

AMP pages are also stored on Google’s servers rather than your site. Any AMP page that appears in a search result is essentially a copy of that page that exists on Google’s servers rather than your web host’s. While this isn’t a problem per se, it does transfer a lot of control to Google, since it makes your visitors Google’s visitors. This also has the added problem of making it difficult to share AMP links, because the URLs for the links are obscured.

Final Thoughts

AMP can be a great option if your website delivers only text and images, or if you want to keep things relatively simple. With that in mind, sites like that would load quickly anyway, though the boost AMP’s framework provides is welcome. A simple plugin for those using WordPress sites (like we do) makes creating AMP pages even simpler. The issue is that if you want to create a rich experience on your site, AMP’s restrictions and limitations can make delivering that kind of content impossible.

To discuss whether including AMP on your site would be worthwhile, contact The Search Engine Guys at (512) 806-7955.


How Positive Google Reviews can Help Your Business

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) 806-7955.

1 2 3 12

Ready to start working with us? Call (512) 806-7955 or Email Us Now