Link Building or Content Building?

April 21st, 2014

link building or content building8 Good Reasons to Concentrate on Content, not on Links

So you have your business website set up to draw visitors from all over Orange County. It’s ready to entice them and convert them or at the very least to get an email address off of them. Now you have some place to continue adding content, like a blog or a customer service portal with easy navigation so that all of your visitors can find what they need and remain thankful to you for providing it.

Now the question is, do you concentrate more on building more content? Or do you work on linking more, other, highly ranked sites back to your existing content? That debate continues.

For lots of us big mouth experts, the answer is easy.

For the Orange County small business owner, it’s still, often, not so clear. Let’s look at it this way.

1) Content is the Far More Affordable Option

Most of the link builders you’ll meet are going to give you valueless or even damaging links. That’s the nature of the game. Links that are easy to get are useless and the people who can really build valuable links will really make you pay for them. The results still won’t be as good as what you can do with quality organic content and organic back linking.

Hiring and working with a decent copywriter is not expensive and has all kinds of benefits beyond simply building links and an interesting website. Find and work with a writer

– or even two or three. You may need to work closely with them at first, but a good copywriter will learn your business and your customer base.

2) Value

It’s far easier to measure the value of pages on your site than the value of links to your overall ranking. Unless a particular link is feeding you visible traffic, you won’t know the value of a link to your overall ranking. But pages of written copy are easy to evaluate in terms of “likes”, “shares” and traffic. Exact search terms might be a little more difficult to determine, but there is almost no limit to the number of search terms you can benefit from. Anyone who offers to “optimize” your site with fewer than a hundred search phrases is selling you short. Adding content means you’re always adding search terms.

3) Writing is Thinking.

That’s why a lot of people hate it, right? Working closely with a copywriter, or better, handing them a draft allows you to not just re-focus your service, your site and your business. You also get it far better spelled out so that you can see the cracks, the gaps – and the opportunities. Good copywriters know this.  Writing is about ten times more intensive than reading. If your business is not writing, you’re very likely operating on just a vague understanding of your business model. Re-writing your business plan every couple of years is just good business, and the more you have written, the better prepared you’ll be for the next draft.

4) Links don’t do P.R.

Content does. Content generates links, and you can, perhaps, estimate the extent of your public outreach just by counting up those links, but that’s not PR. Public relations is inserting your business into the public conversation. It can be a little more complex than that, but why shouldn’t you be there when the cameras are clicking and the pages are getting scanned?  Submission based links are all but wiped out as a valuable ranking factor. Guest blogging goes on, but it’s not valuable for the links, unless there is actual buzz.

5) Writers are everywhere.

You don’t have to get the very best writer, and especially not on the first try. On the contrary, you can always evaluate what they’ve done – and get another one if it didn’t work out. Doing that with an SEO team will cost about ten times more and take three times longer. Link builders? They were virtually wiped out by algorithm changes (Panda and especially Penguin ) and their links were too. But let’s look closer at those landscape altering algorithm changes.

6) Working against Google is just not viable.

Lots of business people would never do Black-Hat trades with their customers, suppliers or partners – yet they only think of Google in terms of gaming the system. Google has spelled out how it wants you to work with them. That work involves quality content that engages and educates your visitor – be they a customer or not. The plan calls for quality content, transparent business relations (and reviews) and natural, organic linking schemes. Not back linking plans.

7) Branding without a Plan is like Talking without a Voice.

Branding just baffles lots of business people, and were it not for Google and the Internet, business people would probably spend (lose) as much to Branding experts as they do to SEO consultants. The shame is, Branding will get you better returns and the more you do it the better you get at it. But you can’t do it without a plan. As mentioned above (#3), planning means writing, and thinking and reading and clarifying. Essentially, you’re writing up a “person” not a just logo and that person needs to be as complete as the people you know. Think about that.

Better yet, think about this. Fyodor Dostoevsky could write up a character in two pages. At the end of those two pages, you’ll feel that you know that person better than the actual people in your life. That’s the task of branding. There’s no better way to develop the elusive brand than to write it up, continually, over a period of time, and let it interact with your customers. It’s not only totally do-able, it’s what’s expected of you.

8) Thinking “They Already Get It” is a Recipe for Disaster

It’s a bit macho too. And that’s probably where most of the resistance to content comes from. Business people are no-nonsense, and telling stories and customer-service is too often presented as a ladies’ game. The truth is, people buy from people, not from companies. If people bought from companies, companies would all be vending machines. On the contrary, telling your complete story, in bite sized pieces, is smarter, and allows you to re-convince even existing customers to come back for more. Existing customers are your most cost effective source for new customers.

There’s not much more reason for resisting now is there, macho man? Work with your content. Work with a bright, energetic writer and you’ll wonder why you ever wasted so much money on SEO. A year from now, you’ll be re-inventing your business. Good luck!

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Tweaking the Irvine California Restaurant Website for Sales

March 31st, 2014

restaurant website seo orange countySeven Easy Tweaks You Can Make Today.

Destination Irvine, the Convention and Visitors Bureau website of the Irvine Chamber of Commerce, lists no fewer than 389 Irvine restaurants, cafes, eateries, supper clubs and dining rooms all over Irvine. Probably every one of them gets a handful of visitors every month from their listing on the site. The number of qualified sales they’re getting from that traffic is probably right down there next to zero, in the .0001 monthly sales range.

Standing out is important, but standing out in a list of 389 is next to impossible. These are just seven easy things you can do today to ramp up your sales and get your own website to finally pay for itself.

1) Make Your Contact Info, Location and Hours Obvious.

Make it really obvious. Put it on every page, and in the header and footer if possible. That’s all that half of your Internet visitors want, so give it to them. Let them make the call and you’re half way there.

2) Spell Out Your Menu.

This is the second most important thing on your menu. No matter how big it is, or how often it changes, your menu needs to be in HTML coded pages and not in a downloadable PDF. A PDF is just a devastating mistake that costs you customers, keywords and money. You’re webmaster needs to be as creative as your kitchen staff, but get the information up there in as many pages as are necessary. Don’t hold back.

3) Collect Email Addresses.

This one is simple. If you tweak your website until you are blue in the face, you might get 5-6% sales from visitors. Sending out regular well-crafted emails, that promote your brand and what you offer, should get you better returns. Better than 10% is possible and the bigger your list, the better the returns. Anyone of the major email-marketing service providers can get you started, and most of them will let you start out for free.

4) No More Seduction! Branding!

Remember, guests (or potential guests) don’t visit your site to get provoked into hunger. A nice “idea” of the cuisine is ok, but it’s not your job to seduce them (like old-school television was always trying to do). Rather, give some thought to the kind of “Person” they would like, or expect, in this situation, and be that person. That’s what good branding, done well, is all about.  If the experience of your restaurant is lavish, then pour some more on. But if you’re a no-nonsense, good deal for 30 or 40 bucks, then match your website to your no-nonsense customers. Either way, set up a communicative, honest space for sharing what you’re about, and share away.  The higher your prices, the more information people expect to justify the cost. Chef Bios really only start to be important at the upper-ranges of the market.

5) No Slideshows and No Flash!

It’s taken years for marketers to figure this out, but slideshows don’t work. Flash, even less so. Visitors realize what a slideshow is in about 1.5 seconds and they look away almost immediately. I bet you do it, too. So, why should your visitors be any different? Just eliminate all the sliders and the bells and whistles and go with solid, attractive design, that emphasizes your brand first and your location/contact info second. Then your menu.  Background music? You really need to step back from that one and probably have your head examined.

6) Mobile and Responsive Design

Most visitors are not going to come from the Chamber of Commerce website. People look for restaurant websites when they are 1) hungry 2) planning a dinner, lunch, meeting, date or something similar. Either of those can be taken care of from a smart phone, and are increasingly For the same reason as we discussed above, that visitors often have a distinct purpose for visiting, you must ensure you have a mobile website. Visitors to your restaurant website will often be on the move, making a decision on the spur of the moment. Visiting a website on a mobile device only to be presented with a broken website or one that is too large to load fast via mobile will drive traffic away. All Restaurant Engine customers get a mobile version of their website included to ensure visitors can find what they’re looking for regardless of the device they use to browse.

7)  Page Load Times.

This one isn’t necessarily a “tweak” and improving your page load times can get downright complicated. Most of today’s “responsive design” websites are much faster and so you really can kill those two birds with one stone. Page load times are just like waiting for the waiter, and you probably know that some people get impatient almost immediately. Make sure your images are not too big and talk with your webmaster about the other steps you need to take to speed things up for mobile or traditional internet visitors.

Finally, let’s look again at number 4. Branding is one of the toughest things for people new to online marketing to figure out. It’s easy to say “the personification” of everything that your business represents. But obviously in writing an article like the above, we have to consider not just all the different 389 restaurants in Irvine, but all the others who aren’t on that list. All of them – probably more than 500 Irvine restaurants – are struggling to distinguish themselves and to stand out.

Most of them are going to imitate what other restaurants are doing. That’s exactly the opposite of what they should do. If you want to really tweak for sales, start doing what the people you respect do. Offer honesty, integrity, and support to your neighbors and friends. Do it on Social Media, too. Give away advice for free. Put up your other local Irvine businesses – or non-profits – for free and let people know why you are doing it. Share some of their information too.

Do all of that, and you’ll see your sales take off.

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Local SEO Tips for Orange County Restaurants

February 24th, 2014

Restaurant SEO is all about Local SEO. For all but the very biggest and most famous restaurants, and especially in Orange County, there’s always going to be a big slice of the population searching for the right food – importantly – in the right location.

Local SEO is totally “location, location, location” and the great thing is – even obscure or hard-to-guess locations can not only benefit, but really shine. Look at it this way, 34 cities are incorporated in Orange County, and outside of those there are another 15 cities that are unincorporated – but just as good. Every one of these places is subdivided into more neighborhoods, hamlets, corners, zones and areas than any one person can name. Even the nicknames, or totally informal mini-neighborhood names will work and so will your plazas and malls and shopping center names.

You can break them down. So can your customers. If they’re not local, then they’re asking “Where are we?” and they’re getting accurate answers. You don’t have to memorize every place name in the county, just the ones relative to you, your customers, your delivery or service area and hopefully a good sample of the places surrounding.

TripAdvisor lists, at this writing, 7,094 restaurants in Orange County. Getting your restaurant to stand out from the rest is the point of this article.

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15 Things You Should Know about Content Marketing

January 28th, 2014

Content Marketing Cycle

Content marketing was a big, big buzzword for 2013, not least in Orange County. By the end of the year, as luck would have it, some very good pins were stuck into the bubble of people thinking that content marketing is the answer to everything. “Content marketing will never work” is the must-read for 2014, and the comments at the bottom are a must too. But before we get too contradictory right up front, keep in mind that Content Marketing was never the be-all-end-all for quick, impulse purchases and throw-away relationships.

If you’re thinking of content marketing for your Orange County business, you should also think of the multiple ways that content marketing is construed. Content marketing really is, simultaneously:

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Eight Things To Do Today To Get All Your Locations Noticed In Search

January 21st, 2014

Local-SEO-Tips---Whitepaper

As a local Search Engine Marketing Company, we deal with a variety of companies headquartered in Orange County, but have 20, 50 or even hundreds of locations nationwide. It is not small feat to get the local SEO in order for all of these locations.

Distinguishing each of your shops from corporate headquarters or a parent company website can be important or even vital, depending on what services are offered at each location.

We put together these eight vital steps, whether you’re in one, ten or twenty locations. A full sixty percent of the searches made – in your town too – result in a transaction. The market for local and mobile search is, frankly, too big to ignore and an ever-increasing local and mobile search audience is there. The question is can they find you?

Click here to download the Free Whitepaper

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10 Great Content Ideas for your Orange County Beachfront Business

December 18th, 2013

orange county seoNo one, anywhere, makes quite enough of the beaches in Orange County. It’s a great tourism economy and running a business in the Orange County coast can be satisfying and lucrative.

That should be a good thing because there is actually a big opening if you’re running a business anywhere in coastal Orange County – or writing a blog about one. Whether you’re doing content trying to nail traffic, or you’re doing it more for straight marketing and communications, try any, all or just the most appropriate of the following. Take this list, build it out, rough it up and then polish it and you’ll have ten great articles for the next 3 months of active marketing.

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Newsletter Statistics

November 22nd, 2013

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10 Steps to Prepare your Orange County Business Website for the Holidays

November 13th, 2013

orange county online shopping seoThis year’s holiday is going to be one for the books.

Even if all previous sales records are not broken, a good holiday season is going to seem like a major success come January.

Still, for your small business in Orange County or anywhere in Southern California, the holiday sales season is going to be a major test of your acumen.

Let’s get ready.

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QUICK TIP #5 – Social Media

October 11th, 2013
Social media is a great way to keep your customers engaged.  It can also be a great way for you to build up a following and up-sell your products or services. Customers today want to feel a connection with the companies they do business with.  Social media creates this connected community.
 

QUICK TIPS:

  • Don’t Just Talk About YOU!

Your customers or audience will swiftly tune you out if you just talk just about yourself. Post interesting content from other relevant sources.  Make sure your ideal customers will find this content valuable.

  • Be Patient

Social media marketing results do not happen overnight.  It takes persistent and consistent effort to produce successful results.

 

More on Social Media:

Start creating relationships with the customers you do business with.  Try using this weekly social media To-Do List from Hubspot.com to help you get started.

http://blog.hubspot.com/weekly-social-media-list-under-100-words-sr

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QUICK TIP #4 – Display Advertising

October 11th, 2013
People spend 95% of their online time browsing websites with display ads. Whether you are trying to target a regional customer base or focus on nationwide markets, e-Display ads can help you generate online leads, jumpstart stagnant sales, introduce new or seasonal products, and help build your brand.
QUICK TIPS:

  • Using Contextual Targeting

Know who you are selling to. Your demographic settings should be tailored to the audience of these websites. For example, if you sell golf clubs, make sure you maximize your ad spend by targeting your ads to golf related websites.

  • Test, Test, Test

Display Ads are generally a “top of the funnel” campaign. That means it’s very broad. Be patient and test various targeting settings to see which ones are most effective.

  • Monitor Your Campaigns to Increase Efficiency

Check your analytics to find out which demographics, topics and categories are performing best. Spend more of your budget on the websites, or targeting groups that show higher conversion rates.

 

More on Display Advertising:

Thinking about introducing new or seasonal products for the holidays?  In a recent study by Experian.com we can see that nearly 60% of marketers will utilize online display advertising this holiday season, topping other popular channels such as search, email, and print ads.  Click here to read more.

 

http://press.experian.com/United-States/Press-Release/49-percent-of-marketers-will-launch-a-holiday-campaign-before-halloween.aspx

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