iMarket Solutions Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Content strategy’

How your Offline Interactions & Expertise Impact your SEO

Friday, June 8th, 2012

As you receive calls to your business throughout the day, are you keeping track of what kinds of questions come up? Are you having your support staff and technicians report back to you on what your HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, or other customers seem to ask about or care about the most?

It may seem simple: if they need an air conditioning unit, being cool in the summer is important to them. But what questions did they ask? What confused them the most about the whole process of installation or repair?

Being aware of this information can help you market your services more effectively online. Once you have this information, you should pass it along to your representative at iMarket Solutions so we can incorporate this into your online marketing plan!

We recently heard from a plumbing client who saw an increase in calls regarding sewer flies. Our customer contacted us with a request to add a blog post about this subject, and to include some additional optimization for that term on their website. This is already improving the results our client has seen in leads contacting them for service!

What else can you do to improve your SEO?

While we are always on top of your SEO strategy at iMarket Solutions, you can always benefit your business by providing us with details which are specific to your location or expertise.

For example, you may have a page for well pumps and another for main water line repair. Which cities are mentioned on each page? Well pumps are more common in rural areas, so we don’t want to optimize those pages for your metro area cities. Is the information provided on your service-specific pages appropriate for the type of service being covered in the content?

We suggest reviewing some of your more specific service pages and advising your iMarket Solutions representative how we can better target each service for the most appropriate locations.

Local search is a major part of your online success! While we are SEO experts in the HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, and other home improvement industries, we always benefit from the detailed information you can provide about your business to make your site more unique and more effective!

Not an iMarket Solutions client? You are missing out on dominating your market – contact us today for a free consultation about your online marketing needs. We do the hard work so you don’t have to!

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Google Instant: The Rich Get Richer, But So Can You!

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Last week, we talked about Google Instant, and our belief that Google Instant is designed to increase Google’s revenues by guiding searchers and online marketers away from “long-tail” search terms and toward more popular, high-cost search terms.

It’s not only rich Google who will get richer in this scenario. Wealthy companies with big advertising budgets will be able to afford to compete for the high-volume search terms, edging out the little guys who can’t.

Except…

We don’t think Google Instant will significantly inflate the price of local search terms.

In fact, we believe that Google Instant will probably push more people toward local results, and that’s great news for contracting companies.

Searchers these days are pretty smart. If they want a plumber in their local area, chances are they won’t just type in “plumber”. They’re going to type in “plumber” plus the town or county or neighborhood they live in, or their zip code. For naïve searchers who don’t specify a location on their own, Google offers two important prompts to guide them to local results. The Local Search map appears, providing searchers with a visual guide for choosing a plumber close to them. Plus, now Google Instant will suggest search phrases that include the town where the searcher lives, i.e. “plumber burlington vt”.

Of course, this feature of Google Instant makes it important for local businesses to be competitive for the search terms that are most popular in their local area. But in most markets (and certainly in non-metropolitan markets) we don’t believe that Google Instant will lead to a huge increase in competitiveness and pricing for local search terms.

Here’s why:

  • There are only a few reasonable ways for people to search for services in their local area: by town, county, region, zip code.
  • There is a natural limitation on the number of people who want a given service in a given region, and this in turn leads to a natural limitation on the number of people who offer that service. Google Instant is not going to increase the number of people with broken pipes in Burlington, and it’s not going to increase the number of companies that offer plumbing services.

That means that in most local markets, the search terms that are being used, and the number of companies competing for them, are already established. Google Instant won’t do much to change them, which means that the price for local search terms won’t increase.

The only thing that Google Instant will change is the number of people who search for local results.

All this makes us at iMarket extremely confident that iMarket’s unique “town by town” strategy is the perfect way to take on the new challenges and opportunities offered by Google Instant. Our core philosophy has always been to make our clients’ online marketing as cost-effective as possible by bypassing the big-ticket search terms and focus on the local search terms that bring real leads to contracting businesses. Google Instant is going to funnel more people to the local search terms iMarket’s system is designed to dominate.

Yes, Google Instant does make Google richer. But if you’re a strong competitor for local search terms, it can make you richer, too.

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Google Instant: The Rich Get Richer?

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

In September, Google introduced “Google Instant”. You may have seen Google Instant in action already: now, when you type in a search term in Google, text pops up below the box where you’re typing, giving you suggestions for search terms that might be appropriate. The suggestions come from the most popular recent searches using the letters or words you’re typing.

You may also have noticed that as you’re typing, organic search engine listings and pay-per-click ads flash immediately onto the screen – only to be replaced instantly by different listings and ads if your search term changes significantly as you keep typing.

This is certainly a pleasant increase in response time, though Google was already pretty speedy and users’ lives are unlikely to change much as a result of the improvement. (As The Daily Mash noted sardonically, “the average user performs 12 searches a day, meaning they will soon have more than nine extra seconds to devote to work or leisure interests.”)

But speed is not the reason Google introduced Instant Search. While users do benefit a little from the convenience, the real advantage goes to Google.

Here’s why:

For the past several years, most well-designed SEO strategies have included what is known as “long tail search”. To understand what is meant by this, imagine the most common/popular search terms about a given subject being the head of a comet, while the more detailed, specific, or offbeat searches relating to the subject trail behind as a “long tail”. Long tail search has become increasingly important as people have become savvier about using search engines and have realized that longer, more descriptive searches yield better results.

Long tail search terms have been a good deal for online marketers. Leads from long tail searches are often highly motivated, meaning that a well-designed website will have a good shot at converting these leads into customers. And the lower popularity of individual long-tail search terms means that it is easier and cheaper to compete for top placement for each term, both in the organic results and the pay-per-click bidding. As a result, most current SEO strategies involve competing for and bidding on a wide array of affordable search terms, rather than spending money on big-ticket search terms.

Here’s an example of what we mean by “long tail” search: If you just type “mortgage” into Google, that’s a broad, generic search. You’ll notice that only large mortgage companies can afford to compete for this high-volume keyword. But many people get more specific, and search on “mortgage refinance” (still quite broad and expensive), “mortgage refinance Vermont” (getting more specific), “mortgage refinance Burlington Vermont”, or even “mortgage refinance no-doc loan Burlington Vermont”. This last is a classic long tail search: it’s really focused, it’s not that competitive (there are only a limited number of companies that offer no-doc loans in Burlington, VT), and it will probably deliver an incredibly motivated lead, because the searcher is clearly someone who has already thought quite a bit about the kind of mortgage they’re looking for.

The only one not to benefit much from long tail search is Google. Google isn’t that interested in having people bid and click on long-tail search terms that bring in maybe 10 cents a pop. Google wants to channel people toward the more popular terms that go for several dollars per click. In our view, this is what Google Instant is designed to do. Google Instant guides users to popular search terms, and steers them away from creating their own, long-tail, not-very-profitable-for-Google search phrases.

Voila! Instant increase in revenue for Google, as more expensive terms get more clicks. The rich get richer with Google Instant…but what happens to the rest of us out there in the online marketplace who have been relying on long-tail search? If you’re a service business, the news may be better than you think – and that’s what we’ll talk about next week.

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Can Google Read Websites Built in Tables?

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Google can read tables, and sometimes it does, but it would prefer not to.

“Tables” refers to a group of HTML commands that are used to set up a grid on a webpage, and then to specify where and how text and images should be displayed on the grid. In the early days of the web, tables were the tool of choice for laying out web pages.

For many years now, though, good websites have been built using a much more efficient layout system called CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Essentially, Cascading Style Sheets are a master template that “cascades” through every page of a website, standardizing the colors, fonts, and layout for the entire site. (Tables still are used for showing actual tabular data, like comparison charts, but everything else is left to CSS.)

There are four important benefits to CSS:

  • CSS makes a website completely consistent – which makes it look really sharp and clean and professional.
  • CSS makes it much easier to adjust the look and feel of a website – you only have to make changes once in the master CSS template, instead of having to change each page of the site individually. (Those of us who were around for the very early days of the web remember how excruciating this was!)
  • CSS makes a website load much faster – the browser only has to read and interpret the layout instructions once and execute them for the entire site, instead of reading and executing them separately for each page.
  • CSS makes it much easier for Google to find and catalogue the actual text content of each page. If a website is built using tables, there are a lot of HTML commands at the beginning of every page to structure the layout, and then there are more HTML commands interspersed throughout the text to make sure that everything appears in the right spot. To figure out what your website is about, Google has to wade through all this bulky HTML – but Google has millions of websites to visit and probably won’t take the time.

Google’s mission is simple: to give people what they’re looking for on the web. It wants to list websites that are up-to-date, easy and pleasant to use, and that provide users with the information they need. A website built in tables is much less likely to have a good Google ranking because it’s old-fashioned, slow and tedious to use, and has content that’s hard for Google’s “spiders” to read and evaluate.

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iMarket Experts Teach Intensive Web Design and Online Marketing Seminars at the 2010 Meeting of Quality Service Contractors (QSC)

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

iMarket was the lead presenter at the CONNECT 2010 meeting of QSC (Quality Service Contractors) in Las Vegas on October 27-30.

A self-supporting business unit of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors National Association, QSC offers high-level training programs by expert consultants to help its members run their businesses more profitably and provide a superior level of service to their customers.

The meeting was attended by 87 plumbing companies from all over the US.

iMarket’s seminars for QSC members covered all the “Power Tools for Internet Marketing”, including:

  • Website design and programming
  • Online lead generation
  • Website and online advertising metrics
  • Search engine optimization
  • Pay-per-click advertising
  • Social media and content strategy

The goal of the seminar series was to enable contractors to understand how to create an effective online marketing strategy for their business, and hire the right people to develop and implement it.

The seminars were very well attended by CONNECT 2010 attendees. We received a lot of positive feedback, including this comment sent to iMarket President Nadia Romeo:

“Nadia, I wanted to let you know that you and your company did an outstanding job on the website presentation last week in Vegas.  I picked up several pieces of great information that will help separate my company website from many others in the industry.  The internet is constantly changing and very difficult to keep up with.  You guys are on top of your game. I felt the knowledge behind iMarket Solutions was amazing! Thanks, Rob Basnett, Basnett Plumbing, Heating & AC”.

iMarket offered the following seminars over the course of the weekend:

  • Building a Web Site – Web Design and Programming Do’s and Don’ts. Business owners inevitably have many questions when they launch a website. This seminar answered many of them, including: What are the best practices for building a website? What tools do I need to have an effective web presence? How do I tell the good web designers from the bad?
  • Branding & Lead Generation – Integration of the Internet into Lead Generation and Tracking Using Google Analytics. In this seminar iMarket experts explained how best to track customer acquisition channels and the costs associated with those channels. We also showed how to evaluate “return on investment” to determine which channels are the most profitable. In particular, we explored the valuable online metrics offered by Google Analytics.
  • Search Engine Optimization – The Basics and Pay-Per-Click Marketing and Google Analytics. In order for a website to be an effective marketing tool, it has to “speak” to the search engines—the online tools that help customers find your company. This seminar showed how to make sure that Google and the other search engines see and understand the value of your website so that your website gets strong placement in online search results. We also explained how to use online paid advertising to supplement free search engine results.
  • Social Media and Content Strategy. This session explored social media and content strategies that service companies can put into practice easily without expert help, plus some advanced strategies that are worth hiring outside experts to implement.

Click on the links above to view each presentation, or go to the full list of iMarket presentations.

Contact us if you’re interested in having iMarket present similar seminars in your area!

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