Organic vs. Paid SEO

When telling my clients about the benefits of blogging, I will always highlight the fact that a regular blog is good for “organic” SEO. Some get the concept. Some don’t. That’s why I feel this article may be helpful for some.

There are many ways to boost your websites search engine optimization (SEO). Ultimately, those different methods will fall into one of two categories: Organic SEO and Paid SEO.

Paid SEO will entail running ads on search engine services and other pay-to-play services that can be expensive if you want to reach the top ranking. You’ll notice when you go to Google and perform a search, the top several listings will all say “ad” next to them. The same thing happens on Yelp and other sites where the more you pay, the more you are seen by searchers. As you scroll down, you will see other listings that come up. Most of these are using some form of paid SEO combined with other organic SEO strategies to achieve a higher ranking.

Is paid SEO bad? Heck no. If you can afford it, you want to take every advantage you can to make sure your website is seen first. It does add up, though, so you have to budget accordingly.

At the same time, you want to improve your site’s organic SEO appeal as much as possible. This is done through the content on your website, as well as other strategies like blogging, social media posting, internal/external links, etc.

Yes, you may end up paying someone (like NextGear Marketing, for example) to handle your blog or you may have to hire an in-house social media person. Unless you are doing all the work yourself, “organic” SEO does not necessarily imply “free.” It still goes back to the classic business adage that says you have to spend money to make money. Web content creation, blog management and social media activity should all be a part of your overall marketing budget in today’s digital age.

I consider myself an organic SEO specialist focused on creating engaging, searchable content for my clients. Whether it’s in the form of website copy, online press releases or weekly blogs, the organic side of things is where NextGear Marketing can make a difference for your small business.

To learn more about my business blogging packages and my personalized approach to content creation (there is nothing boilerplate here), contact NextGear Marketing today!

Is it Time for a Website Audit?

It’s crazy to think that 2020 is already here. Yet another year (and decade) has gone by so quickly!

Website Audit Time!

From a business perspective, there are a lot of New Year tasks that you have to complete. One thing you might want to add to your list is an audit of your website. Most people hear the word “audit” and shudder with fear of the IRS. If you prefer calling it a review or update to make it sound less painful, that’s fine with me.

The point is you (or someone important) should be taking the time to go through your entire website at least once or twice a year. Being that this is the beginning of the year, it’s a good reminder to accomplish this particular task.

Some websites are more in-depth and complex than others, so how long it will take will depend partially on the site itself. It should take as long as it needs to take to do it properly.

Why You Should Periodically Review Your Site

The goal of a website audit is to review everything to make sure it works, while necessary updates, revisions and corrections based on anything that has changed since the last time you went through it.

Go page by page and read all the content. Is it all still valid? Does the verbiage need changing or updating? Does content need to be added? Look it over carefully. Sometimes it’s just a good idea to make some edits while you are in there. It can help your content from becoming too stagnant. Even a few minor wording tweaks here and there can ultimately help with SEO.

At the same time, look at the design elements and functional aspects on every page of the site. Do all the links work? Do the pictures look right (clear images that are proportioned properly)? Are the colors, fonts and branding elements consistent? Make sure everything looks good and works appropriately. Think about the consumer experience when they visit the site. It should be easy to navigate and all the features should function as intended.

Other Tips

Don’t forget to look at the site on all platforms, including desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile devices. Try different web browsers, as well.If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you are already missing out on a ton of opportunities. Just because it looks good one place doesn’t mean it looks good everywhere.

If you have a blog with a lot of regular activity, you probably don’t need to go back and review every single post. That can be extremely time consuming. At least look at the main blog feed page to confirm that things are displaying properly with feature images, titles and intro blurbs. Also, you may notice some articles that are no longer valid or are way outdated. It may be time to delete them or update as needed.

If things are way out-of-date with your website as a whole, it may be time to consider a complete overhaul of the site or building a new one altogether. No website is designed to last forever, especially as technology keeps changing and altering the way the Internet is consumed. Updating the content regularly is a start, but eventually comes a time when you want to do something new.

If you would like an objective audit of your small business website, NextGear Marketing is here to help. Contact me today for more information about the process.

Why You Should Use Recurring Article Themes in Your Blog

This week, I want to talk about recurring blog article themes and ongoing article series. These can be great to utilize over the lifespan of your blog content campaign.

I’ve been working with more clients lately to establish recurring themes. This is a different concept than what I call “recycling” article topics, which is about doing a different take on a topic you’ve already written about in the past.

It’s More of a Publication Approach

Recurring themes are more like sections in a newspaper or magazine. Think about how your favorite magazine has an opinion article from the same author every month. Or, there is a sidebar section that follows a similar structure and headline, but speaks about a slightly different topic each month. A monthly newsletter is another good example of this concept.

Monthly Themes vs. Recurring Article Series

This same kind of approach can be used in a blog very effectively. Earlier this year, I started working with a new client and we decided to try and establish a different theme each month. Each article posted that month speaks to a specific topic, but all tie back into an overarching theme.

I have another client who I started working recently. We’re only 5-6 articles into the blog campaign, but we’ve already established several recurring article ideas that we can keep coming back to periodically. Some are monthly. Some are quarterly. Some are less structured. Still, it will help fill out an ongoing content calendar because we have these recurring article themes to come back to when appropriate. Rather than trying to cram everything about a large topic into one article, we can break down into bite-size chunks and talk about very specific topics in an ongoing fashion.

Keeping Your Content Calendar Stocked

If you run a new blog article every week for a year, you will quickly find that it gets harder and harder to come up with new topic ideas. Having recurring themes is one method that will help keep you from running out of ideas as time goes on. You always have some themes to revisit and add to. Some of the content may overlap a bit and you may find yourself recycling some old messages, but that’s just fine.

In fact, another good aspect of recurring themes is that it will give you a lot of internal link opportunities. As you continue the theme with each new article, you can refer (and, of course, link) back to the previous articles in the series. Internal and external links are good for SEO and can also help keep visitors on your site longer as they jump between multiple articles. Just always set the linked article to open up in a new window/tab, so they aren’t taken away completely from the original article!

When you are planning out your blog and content calendars, consider recurring article themes and ongoing series. You will find your content calendars easier to fill out and you will also create some very engaging content that gives readers a reason to keep coming back.

For help with your business blog campaign, contact NextGear Marketing today.

How to Be Proactive, Not Reactive

I have numerous clients that I am working with regularly. Many fall into one of two broad categories. They are either proactive or reactive in nature, and it definitely affects my role as a marketing consultant and content provider.

Proactive vs. Reactive

Proactive means they are always on top of things and ahead of the game. They like to explore new ideas and think things through, which helps make sure we’re on the same page before working on various projects. It provides more time to strategize and develop materials.

Then, there are those who are reactive. This means they typically don’t know what they want until they need it. It’s a lot more frantic because projects end up getting rushed and the results are much less predictable.

I bet you can guess which type of client I prefer working with! Truth be told, many clients fall somewhere on a spectrum in between proactive and reactive, which is perfectly normal. Sometimes you need to rush a project that comes up suddenly. Other times, it’s nice to have plenty of time to work out the details in a more methodical fashion.

Proactive vs. Analytical

Really, this boils down to human nature. Some people are thinkers and planners, which isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes it’s easy to overanalyze things to death. “Paralysis by analysis,” if you will. Other people are procrastinators and like to fly by the seat of their pants. This way of life brings its own challenge. I talk a lot about finding balance on the NextGear Marketing Blog, and this is another instance where it helps to fall somewhere in the middle. That said, my goal is usually to try and get clients to skew more toward the proactive side of the spectrum.

It’s almost always beneficial to look before you leap or follow the carpenter’s rule of “measure twice, cut once.” However, if you stand there staring at your goal without ever taking any real action, you won’t get anywhere either. That’s why I prefer using the term “proactive” rather than “analytical.” It’s important to think about what you are doing, but still have to be willing to take positive and decisive action to achieve your goals.

Where Do You Fall?

Are you more proactive or reactive when it comes to running your business and implementing marketing strategies? Is there room for improvement? How can we help you reach your goals?

NextGear Marketing is here to help with your marketing needs, from graphic design and copywriting to blogging and web content services. Contact us today for more information.

Sealing the Deal

I’ve been very busy lately working to sign on new clients and keep growing my business. It’s never easy, but the effort must be made to keep progressing.

As good as I am at marketing, my sales skills could use some refinement. I tend to like letting my work speak for itself. I like to provide information and education to help my clients make decisions on how they want to proceed. Sometimes, however, it takes a more aggressive “closer” mentality to get a contract locked in.

This is something a lot of small businesses and contractors struggle with. You could have the best marketing plan in the world that attracts a lot of attention for your business or generates plenty of good leads. Then, it’s a matter of sealing the deal.

In addition to great marketing, you need a good sales presentation, quality products/services and follow-up system to really keep expanding your business the right way.

Sales

It’s nice to be able to get people in the door, but it’s no good if you can’t get them to buy anything. Some people are naturally great at sales, but not so good at marketing. Then, there are people like me who are better at marketing than sales. Ultimately, you need to have both areas covered to be truly successful. You need to attract them to your brand and your business offerings. Then you need them to actually purchase something, whether it’s a service contract or physical products.

Product and Services

Next, you need good products and/or customer service. Your marketing and sales efforts might get someone to buy something. Unfortunately, if what they buy is less than satisfactory, it will lead to failure in the long run. They might write negative reviews or never buy your products again. When it comes to customer service, you want to provide a quality experience that builds trust and positive feelings. This can lead to repeat customers and positive word-of-mouth that will go a long way in building your business.

Follow-Up System

Last but not least, you need a good follow-up system to stay in touch with current and past customers. The idea is to stay in front of them and continue a positive relationship. This way they don’t forget about your business. Most importantly, it can generate more repeat customers and more referral business. Never be afraid to ask for referrals. Most small businesses depend on repeat and referral customers. A good follow-up system and messaging will make a huge difference on this front.

This is a pretty simplified view of this concept, but the point is what starts with good marketing needs to continue with the sales, products, services and follow-up that you provide. When all these elements are working together, you can build a better small business and keep achieving growth year after year.

For help with your marketing and follow-up systems such as email campaigns, direct mail and social media strategies, contact NextGear Marketing today.

I’m Living Proof Why You Should Outsource Your Blogging

I’m pretty transparent about the fact that I’m not as active on the NextGear Marketing Blog as I’d like to be. My first priority every week is making sure all of my clients’ needs are taken care of. In addition, I am always working to find new business. Then, if I have time I will put together a blog article like I’m doing right now.

My own situation is comparable to that of many small business owners. You have a lot of things to worry about and blogging often becomes an afterthought. Having someone in-house to manage the blog is nice if it’s a clear part of their job description. However, they may not have the proper writing skills or SEO knowledge that a professional blogger can provide.

In most cases, business blogs are started with the best intentions and then things fizzle out. It becomes less of a priority as you stay busy with other important business activities. That’s why it makes sense to outsource your blog content management to someone who knows what they are doing and can keep your posts consistent. Believe me, if I had the resources to have someone else manage my blog, I would. Until then, my clients always come first and this blog is a secondary priority.

If you have the means (and I should mention a weekly custom blog package from NextGear Marketing is incredibly affordable), then outsourcing your blog management makes perfect sense. You can have an expert doing the research and writing the articles for you. The articles will be optimized for SEO and ready to share on social media for additional engagement. All the heavy lifting is done for you and it won’t cost you much. It really is a win-win situation.

To learn more about professional blogging packages from NextGear Marketing and for examples of the weekly blogs I manage for all my happy clients, contact me today.

How Long Should a Blog Article Be?

This is a question I get from a lot of new clients when they sign on with one of NextGear Marketing’s custom blog packages. People are curious what the ideal length for a typical blog article should be.

The simple answer I would say is usually somewhere in the 300-600 word range is where I like to be. However, it’s not always that black and white. It often depends on the complexity of the topic you are writing about and the amount of source material you have to pull from.

Minimum Word Count Target

I usually aim to get at least 300 words out of the blog articles I write for my clients. Sometimes, it’s not so easy to get to that length, but it’s a good minimum to aim for. Other times, I am fully invested in a topic and before long I am looking at over 1,000 words in the word count!

If an article does get too long, I like to go back and trim it down the best I can. I have no qualms about posting an article that’s up to 700-800 words long if all the information in there is vital.

Split it Up if Necessary

If it does get longer than that, then I may suggest splitting the article over two parts. Multi-part articles or a connected series of themed posts over time are never bad ideas. They give you a great opportunity to link back and forth between the posts, which ideally keeps the reader engaged on your site for a longer period of time. One of my newest clients has done several monthly “themes” with the individual topics centered around bigger, broader concepts. Coming up with new themes every month has proven to be a challenge, but I do think the articles have benefitted in terms of continuity, SEO, internal links and reader engagement.

Depending on your products, services and brand messages, you may have less copy and more images/videos in your blog posts. That is fine. I would still recommend targeting at least a minimum word count of 200-300 words from a basic SEO standpoint.

Professional Blog Services

So, how long should the average blog article be? 300-600 words is a good range to aim for, but find your comfort zone and do what you can keep up with. If you can’t keep up with the blog, then hire someone like NextGear Marketing to do it for you.

To learn more about our blogging and other custom web content services, contact NextGear Marketing today.