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.

How to Measure the Effectiveness of a Blog Campaign

This is something I get challenged with all the time as a professional blogger. Clients want to know that their blog is effective.

How to measure the effectiveness of a blog can be tricky. First, its impact—especially from an SEO perspective—is long-term. It will have a cumulative effect on the overall search engine optimization of your website and individual blog post views should increase over time, as well.

SEO Impact

The biggest appeal of having a weekly blog (or however often you post) is adding fresh, unique content to your site every single week. It keeps your website from becoming stagnant and it should help slowly but surely improve your Google rankings organically.

You can look at the analytics for the site as a whole once the blog has been running for awhile, and you can also review the individual page analytics for each blog post. Unless you strike gold with the most interesting and engaging viral post ever, don’t expect huge numbers for each post’s views.

Viewership Ebbs and Flows

If you share links to each blog post on your social media pages and send out in client emails/newsletters, you can expect a brief spike in views once the post goes up and your followers click through to read the full article. Then, it will likely lull for awhile. A good article will continue to get regular views. Studying the analytics is a good way to know which types of articles get the best response.

Other things you can look at is contact click-throughs and link click-throughs from each individual blog page. Secondary to the overall SEO appeal of blogging, you want to see some engagement. If people are opting in, contacting you, clicking through to other pages on your website or actually buying your products/services directly from a blog page, then you know you have exceptional content.

Think Long-Term

Like any long-term marketing campaign, it’s important not to panic or overthink during the early stages of a blog campaign. You should really run it for at least six months before even looking too hard at the numbers. Even then, you have to remember it’s going to have a more cumulative effect on the SEO for your website, in general. Some posts may not get as many views as others, and that’s okay. If your site is getting ranked higher and/or getting more visitors over time, then the blog is doing its job whether you realize it or not.

It’s the same with other general marketing campaigns like a direct mail campaign, outdoor advertising or print advertising. Unless it’s specifically a direct response campaign, it can be hard to measure the effectiveness of an ad campaign—at least in terms of hard numbers. Usually, you just know that business is doing better and people know your brand name. Again, it’s a cumulative impact that takes time to really make a difference in your market.

Business Blogging with NextGear Marketing

To learn more about blogging for your business and how to get the most out of your blog campaign, contact NextGear Marketing today. Blogging for small businesses is what we do, so let us show you how to do it right!

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

I can’t believe we’re already almost a third of the way through 2019! I have been focusing on taking care of my clients and trying to grow my business. Sadly, that has left me neglecting one thing that can really help build my business: the NextGear Marketing Blog. That is why I want to make sure and remind any of my followers to sometimes do as I say and not as I do.

A Cautionary Tale

My own story is the perfect example of what a lot of small business owners do when it comes to their own blogs. They are good about it at first, but then it slowly becomes less easy to keep up with. Before long, it’s not a priority at all. I am so focused on taking care of my clients and doing other business activities that I tend to ignore my own advice and neglect my own blog.

Following My Own Advice

I may want to consider outsourcing my own blog content because that is honestly the best way to keep a blog effective and to stick with a desired publishing schedule. My clients turn to me to handle the blogs for them. This means helping find topics, coordinating content calendars, writing the articles, posting the articles on their blog portals and doing all the back-end SEO work that is also required to make each article as searchable as possible. Some clients will also have me post links to each article on their social media pages for more integration.

That’s the advantage of outsourcing the blog to an expert. Let someone like me do all the dirty work and keep your blog content humming along with professional writing, SEO knowledge and organization.

Put NextGear Marketing to Work for You

I may not remember to do my own blog every week, but that’s because I am focused on the needs of my clients. Let me do the same for you. You can rest assured that NextGear Marketing is here to get the job done right, and the prices for monthly blog packages are much more affordable than you might think.

Contact NextGear Marketing today for more information.

10 Ways to Make Your Business Blog Better

I see many small businesses out there who are pretty good about blogging, but there is always room for improvement. Having a blog is a nice start. However, you have to actually use it. Just posting a little blurb every once in awhile (when something comes to mind) simply won’t cut it. If you want to get the absolute most out of your business blog, follow some of these simple tips from NextGear Marketing.

1. Maintain a Consistent Frequency

It’s a good idea to set up a content calendar that will keep you on track with your posts. If you have a goal to post a blog once a week, set a day and time each week that the article needs to go up. Let’s say every Wednesday at 10:00 is your target. Put it on your calendar and make it a habit to make sure a new post goes up every single week at that specific day and time.

2. Use Your SEO Tools

Every blog platform has many built-in SEO fields that you need to be utilizing. Focus keywords, preview text, keyword/phrase lists, blog categories, custom URLs, page titles, etc.—familiarize yourself with what each one of these does to help improve the SEO of the blog post and then utilize these tools. If not, you won’t get the best organic SEO out of your blog.

3. Use Links

Every blog article you post should have some internal links (links to other pages on your website, including other blog articles that may be relevant to a referenced topic/term) and at least one or two external links (links to other websites with a relevant news article or informational resource).

4. Embed Videos

If you shoot videos on different subjects pertaining to your business, embed one of those video clips in your blog articles if they are relevant to the topic at hand. Sometimes, you can get in the habit of recording a simple video where you talk about the blog topic that’s being written about. Some people may prefer to watch the video. Others will read the article. Some will do both. Either way, it’s another way to grab attention and it also helps with SEO (especially if your video is properly titled and tagged).

5. Include a Feature Image

A feature image will act as a header which helps draw the reader into the article. It is also what will be featured on social media along with the article link—another way to draw more eyes to your blog posts. Use only stock photography that you have the rights to use (or take photos yourself) and rename the photo file to include the focus keyword and your company name.

6. Share on Social Media

Whether your blog is set up to autoshare any blog posts you make or you have to do it manually, make sure every blog post is shared as a link (along with that feature image) on all your social media pages. You may also consider boosting the post if you really like the content and think it will attract new customers.

7. Write Quality Content

This tip should probably be #1 on the list because it’s so obvious. If your going to have a business blog, make sure that you write quality content that is interesting, informative and engaging. Otherwise, what’s the point?

8. Proofread!

Take the time to proofread your blog articles before they post, or have someone else you trust (someone who knows how to write) proofread it for you. Typos and grammar mistakes will turn off many readers and you’ll immediately lose some professional credibility.

9. Strategize

Don’t just write about random thoughts or opinions that come to your mind. Give each article some thought and really invest your time in writing a good, relevant piece. Do research if you need to and create a content calendar at the beginning of the month to you have a strong strategy going into each article you write.

10. Hire a Professional

Last but certainly not least, consider outsourcing your blog to a professional blog writer who will offer the expertise and insight to make sure the job gets done right. It’s one less burden on your shoulders if you struggle finding time to keep up with your blog. More importantly, it’s about getting the most out of your business blog by hiring someone who knows what they are doing.

These are a few tips that should help you maximize the effectiveness of your business blog. For more information about NextGear Marketing‘s affordable blogging services for small businesses, contact us today.

Is 2019 the Year You Shift Your Blog into the NextGear?

Happy New Year everyone! It’s been a little while since I posted my last article, but the holidays kept me busy and it was a nice break. I hope everyone out there had a great holiday season.

Success in 2019

2019 is upon us. I hope to make this my best year ever and I expect all small business owners are looking to do the same. The new year brings new motivation to try new ideas, implement different strategies and seek out exciting opportunities for business growth. You have a fresh marketing budget to work with and it’s time to shift things into the NextGear.

Yes, that’s a purposeful play on words because NextGear Marketing is here to help you with your marketing needs. If you need custom content, advertising, print marketing, graphic design, consultation or copywriting, let us be your resource. Our rates are affordable and our service is personalized to your specific marketing objectives.

Business Blogging

At NextGear Marketing, one of our specialties is blogging for small businesses. If you already have a blog on your website, we can help you get the most out of it with custom-written articles, social media integration, links, tags and other effective SEO strategies. NextGear can manage your weekly blog (or whatever frequency you wish to post).

If you don’t have a blog, NextGear Marketing can get you started on the right foot with a custom blogging package. A good business blog will increase organic site traffic and improve SEO while engaging past, present and future customers with informative and relatable content.

You could task someone in the office to manage your blog, but are they content experts? Or, you could outsource your blog to NextGear Marketing and benefit from our approach at a fraction of the price it would cost you to hire someone on staff (and also much less that other larger marketing agencies would charge for a blog package).

Whether you want to get started with a great blog package or any other marketing needs you have, contact NextGear Marketing today for a no-obligation consultation.

What is Content Marketing?

If you’ve been following my blog or other marketing blogs, you’ve probably seen the term a lot. But what is “content marketing?”

You might see quite a few different definitions, but the simplest answer is to say that it is just how it sounds. It is the art of using content to build an effective marketing presence. It applies to all forms of marketing (print, online, social media, outdoor, radio, television, etc.). However, it primarily refers to online and social media.

Branding vs. Engagement

Not too long ago, websites were all about branding. You wanted a sharp-looking site with all the graphic bells and whistles to catch someone’s eye and show that you were a company worth taking an interest in. Though the aesthetics are still important and you want your site to be very user-friendly, content is now king. Success is all about what you say, how you say it and how you share it.

Search engines have evolved dramatically and social media has taken over our lives. Because of these undeniable facts, it puts a premium on producing engaging content that will attract consumers and build brand loyalty. From blog articles and overall site content to social media posts, clickbait ads and all forms of digital engagement, you must have good content and you must get people to see it.

The Benefits of Content Marketing

Effective content marketing will organically boost your SEO, improve consumer awareness, enhance your credibility and generate more leads. I would say these are all pretty important results that any business should be aiming for.

When it comes to developing content marketing, you should start with your end goal. What is the result you want to achieve? What action or engagement are you trying to create between you and the consumer? Once you know what you are looking to accomplish, then you can put a better strategy in place.

Content Creation and Sharing

Then, you need to create the content. Don’t just throw stuff together or plagiarize from other sources. Think about your topics, do the research and produce content that is informative, interesting and entertaining. Also, keep up a good frequency with blogging, social media posts, site content updates, reviews, post boosts and ad placements. Some content may produce immediate results while cumulatively it has a long-term effect in the minds of consumers just like all good forms of marketing should.

Now that you have good content, it needs to get in front of the people you want to see it. Choose your target audience(s) carefully. Use social media and other resources to get your content out there and create genuine engagements. You can have the best content in the world, but it’s worthless if nobody ever sees it.

Content marketing, when done right, is a very effective tool and it will probably be your most effective weapon in today’s marketplace. Put it together with a strong brand identity and other sound marketing strategies (both traditional and non-traditional), and you will certainly see the impact.

To learn more about content marketing or for a content marketing consultation, contact NextGear Marketing today.