I talk to so many clients and business owners about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and realize that there is a lot of misunderstanding about it. I thought it would be fun to spend some time going over the basics and learn together what we can do to ultimately help increase traffic to your website.
But first, what the heck is SEO and why should I even care? In order to answer this question, you have to understand Google’s mission…this is straight from Google’s own words:
“People around the world turn to Search to find information, learn about topics of interest, and make important decisions. We know people rely on us so our commitment will never waver. As technology evolves, we will continue to help everyone find the information they’re looking for. We believe Search should: Deliver the most relevant and reliable information available.”
Let’s start there. Basically, Google wants to be the #1 guide when you’re looking for answers online. How? By giving you the most relevant information that you’ll find helpful to you. Why? Because if Google keeps giving you the best answers to your questions, you’ll start to trust them, and eventually, Google will become a huge part of your life.
In order for Google to keep their promise, they have to have their own set of rules (algorithms) to help them filter and determine what information is most RELEVANT out there and rank it accordingly. The higher the ranking, the more visible the answer will be for the people searching…meaning, it shows up in the order of relevance starting from page 1 of the search results.
So, why is that important to us as business owners? Because we want Google to look at the information on our website and be impressed by what we provide, so when they’ll show it to others as part of their promise to provide the most relevant and reliable information. And if Google wins, you win.
Here’s the ultimate question: How do I impress Google? How do I create, format, design, add content, structure and work on the website so that Google will determine my website to be credible and useful? Simple – know the rules (algorithms) Google has determined to increase your rankings, then do it authentically and do it well. But here’s the challenge: there are a lot of rules, and the rules change. Not only that, there are rules that are transparent and obvious and there are also rules that they do not share…not even within their own company. (They don’t want the secret getting out so no one can unfairly manipulate the numbers).
Here’s a reference that I hope you find helpful. This company began conducting a continuous study of Google’s algorithm 12 years ago, and for the last several years has published its results publicly. As the largest SEO firm in the US, it has a sizable data set on which to base its understanding of the factors that comprise Google’s search algorithm.
Below is the 2021 update, along with a description of each factor and a summary of changes from the past year. Also, here’s the link directly to their page if you’d like to read more about it.
I hope this gives you an overall picture of how SEO works. Unfortunately, it can get very complex and it’s always evolving. But I believe it’s important enough for us to pay attention to it and continuously implement the right factors into your website. I’ll be sharing more in the coming weeks about how you can raise your SEO game. Because what’s more important than receiving love from your mom? Receiving love from Google. 🙂
SEO ya later!
Think about the last time that your heart was so heavily burdened and your mind was going 100 miles per hour, you just couldn’t sleep. What were you thinking about?
If you know me, I am a great sleeper. I take 30 minutes picking out the right movie to watch, get all cozy, and after a couple of minutes of the opening scene…I am out! Most nights, I fall asleep before my head hits the pillow. Except for when I have something heavy on my mind.
Last week, we found out our dog Sugar (sweet Maltese of 15 years) became terminally ill. She stopped eating and her kidney was failing. They say 15 years is a good long life for most dogs, but I just couldn’t sleep thinking about missing her and also trying to figure out what next steps to take.
As a business, we always have to ask ourselves, “What problem are you solving?” But when we ask our customers the same question, they often fumble around not knowing exactly what their needs are…until, we ask them this: “What keeps you up at night? What is it about your current situation that causes such a heavy burden that you are not able to peacefully sleep?”
During our painful research of “what next steps to take” with our beloved Sugar, we ran across a lot of websites that offered the same solution for our heaviness, but they did it in totally different ways. I would like to share with you why we chose who we chose and how they met our expectations and delivered exactly what we hoped for. A peaceful transition for Sugar into her next adventure.
Why we chose this company:
1. Welcome Section: Right away, they acknowledged what we are going through and offered comfort. But what I really loved about what they said was that the focus wasn’t on the pet owners (us), it was on the pet…what they were going through and what we all could do to help. In this story, they made the pet the hero, not the pet owners. This captured my attention right away.
2. Information Section: They started educating us. They showed us why the services they offered were right for us. It answered the most pressing questions we have and it included a link to more in-depth discussions, research, and videos helping us understand and create a clear picture of the process and expectations.
3. Testimonial Section: They offered insight to the people who have used their service. Their testimonials were not templated or generic; they were real, heart-felt testimonials in letter form explaining in detail how much they appreciated the service and why.
4. About Us Section: Even though they were all well-qualified doctors, they focused very little on their own accomplishments but more on their own story of childhood and how they became animal lovers, and why they currently love what they do and how it affects people’s lives.
Why we didn’t choose the other companies offering the same services:
1. Welcome Section: They didn’t take the time to acknowledge the visitors’ heaviness that brought us to their site in the first place. They mainly focused on all the different services they offer right away. Felt very salesy and untrustworthy.
2. Information Section: It was vague and didn’t offer additional resources or videos to educate or address the difficult questions or even controversial issues or philosophies about their services.
3. Testimonial Section: Mostly short, non-descriptive and templated testimonials. They didn’t offer any personal stories or even detailed examples of what was helpful.
4. About Us Section: Heavy emphasis was on the credentials of the doctors. Their education and previous experiences. Felt cold…like reading a resume.
This is why copywriting matters. It’s the latest word in our definitions series, and it really does have the power to shape people’s first impression of you. Although I’ve never met or spoken to anyone from the first company, just from reading the copy on their website, I knew in my heart, it was the right company. And it was.
We all know how hard it is to find solutions to meet our most important needs. Here’s to being that company that answers people’s questions with the empathy they are looking for so that on sleepless nights when people go searching, they find you.
I am always reading the latest research about marketing, and during my content consumption phase, I hear this a lot, and I know you do too:
“In order to successfully engage and win the trust of your current and future customers, you have to continue to give VALUE. And the more value you give, the more trust you’ll earn.”
Okay, awesome!! But…what does it really mean? How do I know what’s valuable to my audience?
In his newest book Superfans, Pat Flynn paints a great picture of what VALUE is and how to provide it for your clients. He describes a conference where a speaker asked the audience if they saw a penny on the street, would they pick it up? Most people will keep walking…not worth their time. Then he asked, what about a quarter? About 50% of people raised their hands to say yes, they would stop. Finally, he asked, how many of you would pick up a dollar bill? At that point, most of the crowd raised their hands. In this example, all three levels of currency offered value, but the value of a dollar bill passed the threshold from “not worth my time” to “ok, I’ll stop.”
So, the next question is: how do I offer something that my audience will see as worth their time? How do we create the dollar bill level content that someone will stop for?
Here are 3 ideas to help you become a more valuable and trustworthy authority in your field.
1. Know your audience. I know, I know, you’ve heard this before….but really, KNOW WHO THEY ARE. What do they love? What do they hate? What are they good at? What are they bad at? Know their problems, know their frustrations, know their pain. And you know what you get to do? Help them out of their problems, help them out of their frustrations and help them out of their pain. How? Offer unique insights, tips, data, solutions and even inspiration.
I’ve been playing golf for a long time. I played competitively as a Junior and still keep a pretty low handicap (meaning, I am a pretty decent player…lol). However, I play with a lot of weekend golfers who are always frustrated at the game because they don’t improve. Why don’t they improve? Because they are weekend golfers – they never practice, but they all think they just need a magic cure. Knowing this inside information, I decided to start a podcast specifically for these weekend golfers and offer insights, tips, data, and solutions on improving their game by….inspiring them to practice. If you ever want to check it out, the podcast is called Better Golf Academy. I still get random fan emails saying how much I have helped their game.
2. Know your expertise. What does that mean? It means that whatever industry you are in, you are an expert whether you like it or not. You have unique insight that no one else has. You might not know it because it’s just part of your everyday life and you’ve been doing it forever so you take it for granted…but what you know and what you do is unique to a lot of people and they are dying to know what you know. Dive deep into the knowledge that seems so obvious to you, then share your journey and your findings.
Ever since I started camping, I’ve been researching a lot of camping gear. One of the essential needs when you are off the grid for 3-4 days is a reliable refrigerator, and in order to keep your refrigerator running 24/7, you need a good source of power. Well, how about a power unit that runs off of solar? Not knowing anything about this, I started my research and ran across a guy named Will Prowse. He’s a guru in his niche of off-grid solar power and I’ve learned so much from him. I trusted his expertise and ended up purchasing his recommended power unit. It’s exactly what we needed and for me and his other 472k followers, we find him and his content more than valuable.
3. Know your platform. In the golf example above, I chose a podcast as the way to get my information out to an audience. Why a podcast? It’s something I enjoy doing. Also, it’s less time consuming than a YouTube channel – video editing can be very tedious and tiring and I didn’t have a lot of energy for it. Editing audio for a podcast is more simple and something I feel like I could do consistently for a long time. Some of us think now that we have something to share, we need to use all platforms and channels to broadcast our content, but this can be overwhelming. Find one channel that fits who you are and that also provides an opportunity to reach the like-minded people that consume content on the same channel. Give it all you got and watch your audience grow.
I hope this helps get your creative juices flowing for how to strategize, create and broadcast your content. Don’t underestimate what you know – you really do have dollars in you that will stop customers in their tracks.
What’s the last thing you googled today? Wanna know mine? I asked Google why a washing machine smells like it’s burning. This was after my son texted us, “Hello, parental beings, my washing machine smells like it’s burning, what should I do?”
Well, Google immediately displayed a page full of resources and possible answers. Each resource led me to a webpage, which provided an article or a video. I spent about ten minutes searching, reading and looking through some of the pages, then came to a conclusion: call for service. I don’t want to attempt taking it apart to change out the belt (which I could do by just following the steps on the YouTube video it pointed me to). But, like I said, I don’t want to.
This story demonstrates one moment in the life of SEO – the next term to be highlighted in our Definitions series.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it’s the very process that happens every time we do a search. The engine scours billions of pieces of content on the internet and evaluates thousands of factors to spit out the most relevant and the most likely answer to my question, almost like magic.
So, how is this done? More importantly, how can my website be so loved and adored by Google that it will spit my link out to whoever is searching for the answers I can help them with? And how can my business get that distinguished rank of being displayed on the first page of the Google search outcome?
These are amazing questions. And if I knew the exact answers, I would tell you and we would all benefit from hundreds of people coming to our website everyday to read about our company and be convinced to do business with us. The truth is, given that Google handles over 2 trillion searches per year (40,000 searches every second), they have incredibly brilliant people outlining over 200 ranking factors (called algorithms) that help determine the best answers to the first pages of search.
The goal for every website owner that wants more traffic is to figure out what those 200 ranking factors are and try to implement them to your own website.
When Google is scouring (indexing or crawling) the content on your website, you want to be noticed and for Google to find your website credible – that’s when they start ranking you higher. Fortunately, Google is somewhat transparent about how they rank the sites, but also, there are some secret aspects of the algorithm that can penalize your ranking as well.
As we educate ourselves and continuously work to bring relevance to our own sites, there are 3 things to keep in mind when it comes to SEO:
1. SEO is not magic. It’s not something that you swirl your wand once and all the work is done. It’s a constant process that involves research, strategy, dedicated time and hard work. It takes patience, but it’s worth it to understand the full picture.
2. SEO is changing and updating with time. There are constant updates to the algorithm – they are always trying to improve and keep from people cheating the system. You’ll obviously need a successful strategy for your SEO efforts, but it’s also important to know that old and obsolete SEO tactics that used to be effective before might not be effective now. In fact, if you continue to use a dated strategy, you may hurt your SEO more than help it. You need to be constantly learning and evolving.
3. SEO loves valuable content. Content is king. Even after all these years, one thing still remains at the top of the priority list for SEO. Fresh content is still believed to bring more value to your site than anything else. Take your thoughts and ideas and put them into action with regular content creation. Not just content for content’s sake, but real, authentic and valuable content that will help others. Like answering why a washer smells like it’s burning.
I hope this gives you a good foundation of what SEO is and how important it is for our business. Because I’m literally about to call for appliance repair to whichever company has the best SEO strategy.
Starting this week, we’re introducing a new Definitions series, explaining more in-depth certain aspects of marketing. We know that business growth depends on some form of marketing, yet not all business owners ever stop to get educated about what goes into that. We hope this review of the fundamentals will help you develop a marketing strategy that works.
It all starts with Leads.
Most people define a lead as a “potential client or organization that has an interest in what you are offering.” Whether they encountered you through a Google ad, a mailer, a cold call or just through word of mouth, these possible customers have somehow reached out or responded back to you.
Once that contact has been made via call, email, DM, or letter, it’s now up to you to follow up on that “lead” and turn it into a sale. So, what’s the issue?
Well, a lead is not always a lead. I like to compare the entire sales process to the phases leading up to marriage. Basically, you don’t walk up to the person of your dreams that you just met for the very first time and ask for his/her hand in marriage. Why? Because it’s weird, and most likely, whether it’s business or personal, you’re going to get rejected.
Here’s how we clearly define each stage in the process with a lead to help you more effectively prepare for that wedding:
- The Subscriber Stage: This is the very beginning of the lead stage. This is when you get introduced through different channels (social media, ads) and you actually exchange contact information. Congratulations, but don’t jump to any conclusions yet.
- The Nurturing Stage: Let’s get real, once the contact information has been exchanged and the communication starts, it’s pretty common that they will ignore whatever you send, mostly because they don’t really know you. Eventually, you want to improve the interaction. How? Continue to offer valuable content, pursuing their interests and giving them more opportunities to visit your website, download resources, listen to your podcasts, register for a webinar, etc. You are nurturing your relationship during this important stage.
- The Marketing Qualified Lead Stage (MQL): As you continue to nurture, eventually they will show a genuine interest. Here’s where they finally say yes to your offers or even reach out to you for a meeting or a call. If they meet the criteria of your target market, this has now become a qualified lead.
- The Sales Qualified Lead Stage (SQL): They are now qualified and ready to buy. For most companies, this is where the hand-off happens. Marketing has generated a qualified lead; now it gets handed off to the sales department for the closure. In the dating metaphor, this is when you go ring shopping – it’s almost time to pop the question.
- The Opportunity Stage: You’ve worked hard to get here and to earn trust. Now it’s time to let them know that you are the right fit for them, where effort turns into opportunity. An opportunity to journey together for as long as you both shall live…and guess what? It sounds like this could be the happily ever after.
I hope breaking down the stages of leads helps you strategize a long-term master plan for your company, and allows even more growth to be generated as each stage is defined and nurtured.
Here’s to you and your business finding true love!
I used to travel a lot for my business. And, as a total extrovert, I so much enjoy conversations with complete strangers on the plane. My own personal captive audience stuck next to me for 3-4 hours, might as well get to know each other, right? Well, not always. People love to avoid talking to me. They have their headphones on, they close their eyes, they pretend to be reading something, they don’t make eye contact, etc. I make it a game to see what opening line I can present to either make them laugh or put them at ease so we can get the ball rolling.
Over the years, I’ve heard enough stories to write a book. Something about meeting a stranger who seems very interested in you, that you feel safe with and that you’ll never see again – it allows them to share their deepest and most private information with me. I remember crying with a young woman who had just lost her husband, advising a young and brilliant woman who was in a middle of an abusive relationship that she’s worth more, even a 14-year-old kid flying to his dad’s house for the summer sharing about how to make ton of money picking up golf balls from the course next to the house. I even helped him make a list of brand names and showed him how to categorize them and what to charge people.
What does all of this have to do with Instagram engagement?
Too often the mentality behind social media posts is that as a business, we will post something educational, informative, entertaining, or even just brilliant and we wait for everyone to flood in, make comments, share my information, click on the like button…etc. But, in reality…crickets. What are you doing wrong?
You might be acting like the passengers on a plane. Not actively trying to make eye contact. Not actively figuring out the opening line to start the conversation. Not interested in others (just yourself). Not allowing other people to feel safe. It’s funny, when I tell people of all the amazing folks I’ve met and talked to over the years on the plane, they’ll tell me that they’ve been traveling for business for years and never once had a conversation with anyone. And they wonder why they might be having trouble engaging online!
So, how do you organically grow your Instagram following and engagement? Here are some practical steps to add to your daily social media processes:
1. Engage with other similar accounts everyday. Help promote them, encourage them and develop an online relationship with them. When you engage their posts, it helps them become more visible. Also, other visitors will see you active on the accounts they follow, and they might end up following you as well.
2. Write great captions. This is your opening line to start a conversation. Ask intriguing questions, state interesting facts, be funny, be real, be authentic, be human, share your pain, share your solutions…you’ll be amazed at how many people want to engage with you as well. Oh, and if someone does make a comment, reply as soon as possible. Tag their account as you are replying – this pushes the posts to the top of their followers’ feeds.
3. Post more photos of people including yourself. Sharing information about yourself builds trust and makes it safe for people to get to know you and for them to open up with you as well.
Don’t get discouraged when you are not getting a lot of likes on Instagram – it doesn’t mean people aren’t seeing and engaging. Instagram has found a new algorithm that’s redefining what “engagement” really means. For example, here are some insights for each post that help paint a bigger picture: comments, shares, link clicks, bookmarks/saves, reach, impressions, and followers. Bottom line, if you keep engaging with others, you will eventually reap the benefits from the effort you invested in the relationship.
Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. Give me a call, or even better – let’s sit next to each other on a flight sometime soon!
The big update in our house this month is a new addition named Bailey.
She immediately brought so much love into our lives. It’s amazing how her simple desire to play, get attention, and be affectionate helps brighten up the day.
What does that have to do with email marketing? A lot, actually.
First, they’re both completely IRRESISTIBLE. I mean, just look at that picture! With that emoji heart, it almost feels surreal, but trust me, she really is that cute.
Email marketing can have that same power! Studies show that email marketing is the number one most effective vehicle for customer acquisition.
It makes sense – you’re able to connect directly at the epicenter of most people’s lives: their phone. Like a puppy, you nestle right into their inbox, next to messages from family, friends and work. Hopefully you also bring VALUE to the audience (as we talked about last time), making your emails even more fruitful.
And the great thing is, those effects are measurable. Here’s where email marketing might even be BETTER than puppies! It’s kind of hard to quantify “adorable”, but if you want to know if an email campaign is successful, the numbers are readily available.
Open-rate, click-through rate, bounce rate, even the unsubscribe rate. All of this gives you valuable insight into the audience response, and how that’s translating into new business.
But what about the cost? That’s where many of us get stuck. With puppies, it’s the vet, the training, the supplies, the food, and of course, picking up poop.
For an email campaign, the good news is, it’s actually one of the cheapest forms of marketing, with the highest ROI of any campaign. (No wonder we get so many emails everyday!)
But to do it right, it will take a valuable resource: TIME.
At BOS Media, our hope is that you are able to make it PERSONAL, customizing an approach that connects with your specific audience. If you ever need help figuring out your own email strategy, we would love to come alongside you to make it happen.
Like the puppy waiting at the door for you, we’ll be here whenever you need us. Give us a call!
What was your first email address? Mine was [email protected] I was so happy that my first and last name was available. It helps since I was the only Hanju that I knew existed. Until…I started getting these odd emails from people that claim to know me that I didn’t know. I found out later that there’s another Hanju Lee that lives in Baltimore who had the email [email protected] People were getting yahoo and hotmail mixed up which were two of three that existed at the time. The third one was aol.com. I ended up contacting Hanju in Baltimore to say hi. I wonder how he’s doing nowadays.
For those of us who got a start to our online presence via email, we can probably remember when gmail changed the email game. But looking back, it’s actually a pretty surprising origin story for what has become one of the biggest, most relevant and powerful companies in the world.
It didn’t start with the intuitive internet search engine to dominate all search engines (literally becoming a verb!) Their first major move was to offer something for free that people wanted and needed at the time: Free email.
Think about it…the revolution that led Google to who they are today all started with FREE.
So what’s the lesson here? Obviously, we’re not recommending you just give away your products. The key is to look deeper and have a greater appreciation for the extreme importance of what can be gained from this “free” exchange.
There’s a reason Google started with email.
Most small companies don’t think enough about building their contact list. One of the most important things a business can do for their future growth is to have a core base of subscribers and fans that they want to hear from.
That’s the brilliance of Google’s original strategy. Their “free” platform had us all lining up to GIVE THEM this valuable contact information!
Next thing you know, they had millions of users, which means millions of eyeballs on all the things that drive business in the Google ecosystem.
So the question is: what are some creative ways that you can be more intentional about capturing emails? What could you give away in exchange for that info?
No matter the size of your business, I hope this inspires you to start thinking of a strategy.
If you do it right, that free exchange could be extremely valuable.
Have a great week everyone. Talk to you next Thursday for some more insight on the power of FREE and how it can revolutionize your business.
“So… how you doin?”
If you watched the show Friends, you heard this line from Joey many times, and you saw how unsuccessful it was with the target audience.
But what if your company’s marketing is having the same effect?
As a business, we are often too worried about our own self-image, our own self-interest, and our own capabilities that we forget about what our clients really need.
The key question is you need to ask is, how ARE they doing?
Instead of looking at yourself, become a student of your client. Find out their wants, their needs, their hopes, their fears. Take the focus off you, and figure out how you can create solutions for them.
The irony of great marketing is: It’s not about you. When you do it right, you’re not trying to make yourself look good. You’re just the guide to help others achieve their goals and dreams.
It reminds me of the story that Gay Zenola MacLaren shared in her memoir, about a chance encounter with Mark Twain:
He opened the door for me himself. As we said good-bye, he put his fingers lightly under my chin and lifted my head up so that my eyes met his.
“Little girl,” he said earnestly, “keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
At BOS Media Group, we believe that’s how digital marketing should work – it’s about making others feel that they can achieve greatness.
Maybe it’s time to re-think marketing. Know your audience, position your company to serve those needs, and make them the hero.
Please let us know if there’s anything we can do to help you shine!