How Much Should SEO Services Cost?

seo

While many companies understand the importance of hiring professionals to do their SEO, they often don’t understand the extent of the expertise, time and resources required to get the hoped for results.

The reality is that you seek out an SEO agency because they have the skill set and time to perform comprehensive SEO services — a combination you’re unlikely to find in one of your own employees. Those services cost money.

Search Engine Watch reports that most businesses pay between $2,500 and $5,000 for a monthly retainer and that seeking out rock bottom prices means you neglect to look for the best level of service. If a deal is too good to be true, it most likely is.

At iQuarius Media, we recommend using a monthly retainer model for your SEO services. SEO takes time. While we can make headway in the first 3-6 months, the most significant ranking results are achieved in the 6-12 month range.

We often describe keyword ranking like the art of plate spinning. Each plate represents a keyword and takes roughly the same amount of effort, man hours and hard costs to keep spinning.  The more keywords you have, the more hands you need employing all those other elements in order to successfully rank.

Search Engine Watch agrees that monthly retainers are the best way to go and they advise against employing companies that charge less than $750 monthly. Again, you want the best possible service — that requires paying for the time that must be dedicated to ensuring that your company ranks.

For a full understand of the possibly payment models, typical SEO costs and things you should be wary of, read the full Search Engine Watch article here.

Let iQuarius talk to the search engines for you, we know their language. Contact us to discuss your SEO services today 407-378-7817

Photo Credit: liferoiblog

Does Your Business Need a Blog?

brands, blogging, small business

The answer is an unequivocal, YES! Blogging is the foundation to holistic content marketing campaigns and it provides a channel for developing thought leadership. Instead of being another faceless brand, you can distinguish your business by lending it your credibility and defining yourself as an authority in your industry. Our social-media driven culture is also placing new demands on brands. Customers expect higher levels of engagement with businesses because of the access that the online world provides them. If your website is static, you aren’t set apart from your competition and you’re not convincing potential clients that you are the best possible company to purchase from/work with.

Still not convinced? Here are some of the best reasons why your business needs a blog:

Blogs help raise your Internet visibility

Search engines prefer blogs over the millions upon millions of static websites out there because the content is updated regularly. As you have probably heard many times before: content is king.  You want to be featured on the first page of a Google search? A consistently updated and bustling blog is the best way to land there. Creating regular content on topics relevant to your industry increases the chance of a potential customer landing on your website.

Say you’re a landscaper in Florida, creating a post about the top five ways to spend days or evenings in your garden not only advertises your services but helps those not specifically searching for a landscaper to find your company.

Blogs establish your authority

With the introduction of Google Authorship, establishing yourself (and your brand) as an authority in your industry has become obligatory. You want to be recognized as a trendsetter and thought leader among your competition, but you also want to show consumers why they should do business with you. Knowledgeable, original content proves your legitimacy while inspiring confidence in potential clients. This applies to all industries, as potential clients are more likely to do business with someone who has already established their authority.

For example, if you’re a dentist, regular posts on good dental hygiene will be valuable to potential patients and lead them to believe that your knowledgeable advice leads to knowledgeable care. People directly associate your content with your abilities; you want to be in control of your image.

Blogs reflect the culture of your company & values of your brand

Gone are the days where you can just claim to offer great customer service and exceptional products. Consumers want to know specifics and they want your unique approach to business. Blogging is the perfect opportunity to infuse your personality into your company. By providing your opinions on relevant topics of interest in your industry, consumers get an understanding of the person (or people) behind your brand. This works on multiple levels.

For one, it helps consumers relate to and understand your brand. Blogging can also be a great starting point for building the reputation of your brand. For example, if you’re a consultant and you have multiple articles offering free advice, you send the message that you are generous with your  expertise. Doing so also suggests that you possess such a wealth of information that there is plenty more of that same expert advice for clients who contract your services.

Blogs allow for interaction with consumers

If a potential consumer is visiting your website, you want to do everything you can to improve engagement. Static websites guarantee short visits whereas regularly updated blogs give visitors a reason to stick around. Chances are they’ll comment on a post, you comment back and before you know it they’re scheduling an appointment or placing an order.

Starbucks is an excellent example of increasing user engagement through blogging. While their posts are only tangentially related to coffee, Starbucks allows users to submit ideas for new drinks, food items, packages, and even store designs. They then blog about the ideas and encourage users to comment and rate the different items. This is a brilliant approach to blogging as it increases consumer engagement and creates original user-generated content.

While blogging doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking, it does require some planning and commitment. The key is to post consistently. Ideally, you should post relevant content for your target audience 2-3 times a week. Not only does this keep your content fresh (and therefore more likely to appear on search engines) but also encourages a consistent following.

For more advice on successful social media marketing strategies, iQuarius Media is an expert on helping  your brand’s online presence grow. Contact our Content Marketing Strategist, to discuss your blog and content marketing strategy.

Image Source: Lucy Catherine Photography

Google Now Makes Web Browsing More Visual

Google Now

Google Now

With Google’s newest mobile application for Android, there is no excuse to be late. Google Now will geo-locate you and give you a virtual nudge in the right direction when it’s time to get moving.

In other words, if you have a meeting on your Google Calendar, Google Now will identify how long it will take to get to that location and when would be the best time to leave.

What does this mean for the way users interact with Google? With Google Now, Internet searches return tabs and photos instead of the traditional blue hyperlinks changing the way Internet traffic is funneled to sites.

What Does Google Now Mean for Internet Search?

Mark Wilson of Fast Company explains, “They’re pulling us from an era of blue hyperlinks and typos to one fueled by the places we go and things we see, showing us the places we’re going and things we’ll see.”

As a result, photo content on websites is now becoming increasingly important. With the emphasis on visuals and less on content, the way people search for topics will change along with the results they see.

Hugo Barra, Director of Product Management for Android, explains: “You used to have to enter a search query or type in a street address, but that changes with Google Now.”

Similar to the way Google currently functions, Google Now will enjoy aggregating data in the same way in an effort to optimize search results. With Google’s new widget-like search feature, searches are fueled by tons and tons of user data; the more it collects, as you might imagine, the more accurate its predictions and suggestions will be.

Check out the video below for more information on Google Now.

Your business should be at the top of every Google search. Let the team at iQuarius Media optimize your site for SEO, Internet marketing, and more.

Basic SEO Strategies

If you don’t plan on using the services of a specialist or establishing a budget for your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices, you definitely ought to, at a bare minimum, make a few modest changes to your website.

Small details can have a powerful effect on search engine results and you will get far more website visitors if you understand what you’re doing and why. You don’t have to be an expert to get started. You just need a a little time for researching and a few days for executing the important changes to your website.

Keyword and Key Phrase Research

The most significant component of SEO is keyword research. You will need to determine which key phrases will drive visitors to your website and start composing a handful of posts that contain those keywords. There is a fine line between providing useful content for your users and publishing an article simply because you want your website to be keyword-rich. You have to concentrate on your users, and you should not position keywords and phrases in any other sentence just because you are seeking to boost your search engine ranking.

Link Building and Development

Another significant element of SEO is link development. If your website’s hyperlink is found on numerous pages, search engines will undoubtedly recognize it. Preferably, you will receive this recognition by submitting top quality subject matter and insightful articles and observations.

Stay Real and Natural

One of the most frequent errors website owners make in SEO when attempting to strengthen their search engine positioning is going too far. You may often notice content that does not make sense because a keyword is used in every sentence; or you may notice websites that have a list containing dozens of links as a result of link exchange. You don’t have to submit your website to thousands of article directories,  and you should not concentrate on adding your links everywhere on the net. This can work against you. A single valuable link is worth more than 1,000 links on new websites, so try turning your focus to quality, not quantity. If you think about what your visitors want to see on your website and figure out a way to keep them engaged.

Keep Going.

After that, it’s a matter of keeping fresh content coming so you can get in — and stay in — Google’s sights. Preferably, you’ll push out new content every few days. If you’re a company or individual that everyone’s talking about in their blogs, in the news, in magazine articles, in interviews and reviews, that counts as fresh content. However, most of us don’t set the Internet abuzz like that on a regular basis. We need to send out our own material and toot our own horns to get Google and the other search engines to take notice. And all this content needs to be tagged, keyworded, and promoted. Fresh content every few days — or more frequently, if you have the time.

On second thought, do you have the time? Don’t you have a business to run?

Our phone number is (407) 362-6503. Or, if you prefer, message us here.

Use Web Analytics to Become a Top Notch Marketer

All online and offline marketing campaigns should be tracked and measured. Let’s say you just wrote a blurb that promoted your website and there was an increase to that specific page. Without marking this blurb as a campaign within your analytics, what would you attribute the increase in traffic to? IN addition, having clear tracking for offline marketing, like trade shows, is an important way to compare the results of your entire marketing strategy.

Measure Traffic Sources. Find out how your visitors are finding you. Finding out which sources are driving the most traffic to the website will allow you to determine how well the search engines index the content on your website. You can also get the information to know if social media is actually working and which email campaigns are driving traffic. With the sources data, you can drill down further to strategize on what types of calls-to-action you place on specific pages.

Measure Conversion Rates. Getting visitors to the  website is the first step; getting them to convert into a lead or business is the next. Offering compelling content and clear calls to action will help to convert more of this traffic into leads for the business. Variant or A/B testing with landing pages and calls-to-action allow you to test which are converting at a higher average. Determine which keywords are giving you the best top, middle, and bottom of the funnel leads.

Ensure the data is clear. Focus on one metric. For example, if you notice an increase in traffic one week, can you tell what the cause of this increase was? You may notice there was a large increase of traffic from the blog; then, after drilling down further, you find that it was a specific article. This shows you that this specific content is compelling to your audience, and it would be a great idea to create more content on this topic.

Close the Loop. Most marketers are concerned about their marketing ROI and knowing where to devote more time, energy, and resources are important. Closed loop marketing finds out which campaigns are driving the most traffic, leads, and most importantly, customers. You want to devote your valued resources to marketing campaigns that are driving actual customers and business.

Proper web analytics can help you attract and retain customers and to increase the dollar volume each one spends.

Bing: 4 Reasons You Want Links

Bing’s Duane Forrester has posted about how Bing evaluates content quality and how it looks at links. He says you want links for a few reasons:

  1. Because they alert us to your website when it’s new or has new content
  2. Because they are a vote of confidence in your site – quality websites tend to link to other quality websites
  3. Because those links can send you direct traffic
  4. Because, over time, they can help establish a footprint that points to your authority on a topic (think guest blogging)

The main point is pretty much: Links are not everything when it comes to ranking in search engines. Nothing new there. Still, it never hurts to listen to the policies as they’re explained by the search engines themselves.

Duane Forrester says: You love links. We love links. Build for the right reasons.

How Many Links Do You Need?

On how many links you need, Forrester says, “Not as many as you may think. Again, as with so many other areas of search optimization, there’s no exact number here.  On popular phrases with lots of query volume, to rank well will require more links from trusted, quality websites to boost your rankings.  Less popular phrases can often require many less links pointed at your site to see the same lift in rankings.  This is where a targeted link building approach can pay off for you.”

The take-aways of the post, Forrester says, are: Don’t buy links, great content builds links, prove to users you’re a trusted authority (and links will follow), and social media can help grow links.

mashable

Ten Things to Avoid When Running an SEO Campaign

Even if you’re using the skills and expertise of an SEO firm, it is still important that you at least know the basics of SEO so that you can work with the company to make the results even better.

There are loads of things that you need to be doing within an SEO campaign, but there are also some things that you REALLY must avoid, and we take a look at some of these below with our top ten things to avoid when running an SEO campaign.

1. Waiting Too Long – One of the biggest mistakes most people make is waiting too long to even begin an SEO campaign. If you have a website you should be running some kind of SEO, no matter how young the site is, because a good campaign can help to get a higher ranking in the early days.

2. Targeting Competitive Keywords – If you sell houses then the chances of you getting to the top of Google for the keyword “houses” are going to be slim, to say the least. If you are working in an extremely competitive market, then you need to look outside of the box and start looking at easier keywords that you can rank for, because realistically, it is going to take a lot of time, effort, and a little bit of luck to top the charts for the most competitive search terms.

3. Ignoring Long tail Keywords – Many people think that they should always go for the most popular keywords, but these often tend to be the most competitive, so you need to look at the long tail keywords. If you targeted 5 long tail keywords that all attracted 200 searches a month but were less competitive than one that attracted 1000 searches a month, you stand more chance of getting the traffic you want in a much shorter time.

4. Writing Rubbish ContentContent is king for Google and the search engine is so advanced and sophisticated these days that it can easily spot duplicate content and also poor quality content. The main aim is to write high quality content that is useful, informative, and offers the user a good experience; or else you will just be wasting your time and hindering your progress.

5. Publishing Poor Articles – Content on your own site is very powerful, but you should also look at writing articles and releasing them on some of the more powerful article directories like EzineArticles. If you are going to do this, then make sure you only publish good quality articles, otherwise they will be rejected and, once again, you will have wasted your time.

6. Spammy Blog Comments – Although blog commenting can be a good way to get relevant links back to your site, if you go around adding poor and unrelated comments, then this is only going to backfire on you in the long run. If you are going to comment on blogs, then make sure that you post quality comments on quality
sites and check out the link follow status and the page rank / authority before you even begin.

7. Reciprocal Linking – Swapping links used to be one of the methods used for acquiring links until, like most link practices, it was abused and Google started to shy away from the weight it carried in rankings. Although it can be a good idea to swap links with local businesses or related businesses, do not waste your time swapping links and also limit the number of outbound links you have on your site.

8. Bad Link Neighbourhoods – Always avoid linking to or getting links from “bad neighborhoods” – sites like gambling, adult and other sites that might be considered a little bit risque. If you are found to have loads of links on these types of sites, then you are going to be in trouble, so always make sure you are careful about where links are added to your site.

9. Ignoring Your Own Website – SEO begins at home because if your website is rubbish, any extra traffic you generate will be a waste of time. Add to this the fact that if your meta titles and content are really poor, you are also going to lose out on ranking because two of the biggest factors when it comes to onsite SEO are meta titles and quality content.

10. Running Out Of Patience – SEO takes time – fact! You cannot expect to start an SEO campaign and get overnight results; it will take weeks, if not months, before you really start to get the results that you deserve if you run a good campaign. SEO should be an ongoing thing, running for as long as you decide to keep your website alive, because SEO is one of those things that goes on forever and is a constant effort.

Ian D. Spencer

Bing's Perspective on Quality Content

contentSince the Google Panda Update first launched back in February (and really for some time before that), there has been a lot of discussion about search quality throughout the industry – the quality of the content that search engines are returning in their results.

This is the whole reason the Panda update exists. It’s all about improving the quality of results. Some will dispute the success of that, but it is the reason for better or for worse.

But what about Bing? It doesn’t command nearly the search market share that Google does but, as it powers Yahoo search, it’s really the only major competitor in town.

Whereas Google had a list of questions one could ask themselves to asses the quality of their site, Bing has published a list of things to avoid, which reads as follows:

  • Duplicate content – don’t use articles or content that appears in other places.  Produce your own unique content.
  • Thin content – don’t produce pages with little relevant content on them – go deep when producing content – think “authority” when building your pages.  Ask yourself if this page of content would be considered an authority on the topic.
  • All text/All images – work to find a balance here, including images to help explain the content, or using text to fill in details about images on the page.  Remember that text held inside an image isn’t readable by the crawlers.
  • Being lonely – enable ways for visitors to share your content through social media.
  • Translation tools – rarely does a machine translation tool leave you with content that reads properly and that actually captures the original sentiment.  Avoid simply using a tool to translate content from one language to the next and posting that content online.
  • Skipping proofreading – when you are finished producing content, take the time to check for spelling errors, grammatical mistakes and for the overall flow when reading.  Does it sound like you’re repeating words too frequently?  Remove them.  Don’t be afraid to rewrite the content, either.
  • Long videos – If you produce video content, keep it easily consumable.  Even a short 3 – 4 minute video can be packed with useful content, so running a video out to 20 minutes is poor form in most instances.  It increases download times and leads to visitor dissatisfaction at having to wait for the video to load.  Plus, if you are adding a transcription of your video, even a short video can produce a lengthy transcription.
  • Excessively long pages – if your content runs long, move it to a second page.  Readers need a break, so be careful here to balance the length of your pages.  Make sure your pagination solution doesn’t cause other issues for your search optimization efforts, though.
  • Content for content’s sake – if you are producing content, be sure its valuable.  Don’t just add text to every page to create a deeper page.  Be sure the text, images or videos are all relevant to the content of the page.

If you’re living up to Google’s definition of quality, you probably won’t be doing too bad in Bing either, and if you’re doing well in Google, you’re probably getting a lot more search referrals from Google than you could ever get from Bing anyway, but it’s still helpful to get a look into Bing’s own thinking on this issue.

 

Thanks to Chris Crum of Web Pro News

Google Research: People Use Smartphones to Buy, Buy, Buy

A Google-commissioned study on smartphone usage has confirmed just how addicted we are to our devices and revealed how we use them to help make purchasing decisions.

The data, which were laid out by Google in detail during a webinar yesterday, revealed a ton of information about how we use the devices in general. A couple of takeaways were particularly interesting for businesses large and small.

Yeah, So We’re Addicted. So What?

For starters, 89% of smartphone owners use them on a daily basis, and many of them interact with their devices several times per day. People even said they’d rather give up such pleasures as chocolate, beer and cable TV than do without their treasured electronic companions. This is hardly shocking news, but it confirms just how connected smartphone owners are to their devices, a fact that has a slew of implications for marketers and businesses in general.

The research showed where (at home and on the go, mostly) and how people use their smartphones. Interestingly, more people (81%) said they browse the Web on their device than said they use native applications (68%). For ecommerce sites and other businesses, these numbers suggest that investing in one’s mobile-optimized Website could be more important than building native apps.

How Smartphones Help Us Buy Things

One thing for which people seem to use their iPhones, Blackberrys and Android devices quite a bit is shopping. Nearly 80% said they use their phones for shopping and shopping-related activities and 70% use their phones in stores.

Most people (67%) said they use their smartphone to do product research and then purchase an item in a store, followed by the 23% who research on their phones, check the product out in the store but then ultimately purchase it online.

 

The researchers also looked at what types of actions people take after conducting a mobile search. More than half (53%) ended up making a purchase and 68% visited a business online or in person.

Google Says Mobile Ads Work

People are far more likely to notice ads when using their smartphones than they are in many other circumstances. Eighty-two percent of respondents said they noticed mobile ads, and about half of them said they were likely to take some kind of action as a result, whether it be conducting more research or actually making a purchase.

The study was conducted by interviewing 5,013 U.S. adults (aged 18-64) about their phone usage. Although these results pertain to American users, a representative from Google said they’ve seen similar data in other countries.

 from ReadWriteWeb