By Cliff Tillery, MakeItLoud.net
By now, you’ve probably at least heard the term “search engine optimization” or SEO, right?
You may still think it’s Voodoo magic (it is. Although the only chickens SEO nerds really sacrifice come in the form of a sandwich.)
You might even think your business could use some of these services. In most cases, you’re right. I mean, who doesn’t want their business on page one of the search results? (“No, no, not me! I want my business right there next to Jimmy Hoffa on page 2 and beyond!”)
So, while you may have heard of this marketing tool and understand how important it might be to your business, there are still some things that most nerds won’t tell you about when you’re trying to find the right provider- that is, until now.
This post is going to reveal what’s behind the curtain with the magic of search engine optimization. Moo-ha-ha! (That’s our evil cow laugh!). We really want you to see that all offerings around SEO aren’t the same which can really trap business owners into something they’re paying for that isn’t worth it.
What is SEO, and Why is it Important?
SEO (search engine optimization) is the practice of making your website pleasing to the Search Engine Gods, so that your site earns one of the coveted spots on page one.
How do we do that? Well, it ain’t easy.
It’s like putting a 10,000 piece puzzle together of two polar bears mooning you in a blizzard… without the box as a guide.
Since most people turn to Google for their search results, that’s clearly the 900-pound polar bear we have to make the happiest. Bing is like a little baby polar bear- still important.
Being on the first page of Google serves the following purposes:
● Increasing the visibility of your business.
● Driving targeted traffic to your website. (These people are looking for what you do!)
● Providing more opportunities to gain customers.
● Growing brand awareness.
● Helps establish trust with your business (I mean, you’re ON the FIRST page!)
So, Is SEO Worth It?
We realize that if you ask this question to a company that provides this service, the answer is going to be an unequivocal “YES!!!”, but really, is it?
Yeah, it actually is. Why? Simple, for most businesses, it’s about sales (one way or another), so it’s a statistical fact that the more people that see your business on page one, the more likely they are to click on it and the more the people go through your digital front door, the more likely they are to buy your products or services. In the long run, SEO should pay for itself especially if your average client is in the thousands. Like any marketing element, you want to make sure that the math makes sense.
These are the very basics of SEO.
Before You Consider SEO
Before you consider hiring an SEO company to help you, there’s one very important thing you should know about this marketing element. Your website has to not suck. (Read more on whether your website sucks or not.)
A lot of people in this industry won’t tell you that.
Trying to get an ugly, poorly designed site that hurts your eyes on page one is like trying to fly an aircraft carrier. They just aren’t built for page one. It’s not about my tastes or yours. It’s about what Google wants.
Given that, there are a lot of SEO agencies out there that won’t tell you that your site’s dysfunctional and will gladly take your money. We still see websites that look horrible on your mobile device or don’t have SSL’s (if you don’t know what that is, it’s ok, but yeah, your site should start with “https://domain name.com.”). Learn more about web design.
Worse, they’ll give you the standard line, “It usually takes 3-6 months before we start seeing an increase in rankings” which essentially locks them into a guaranteed income for that amount of time before you start realizing that there’s not going to be any increases.
This kind of thing makes everyone in the industry look bad. There are a lot of people out there who are genuinely trying to do the right thing, but like any industry, there are a few knuckleheads who try to pull this “churn and burn” trick.
Real digital marketers have this crazy thought that if we do right by our clients, they’ll actually KEEP us around to continue to do the right thing by them. This can be a major difference between providers. A key question here is “What is the average time your clients stay with you?” You’re looking for an answer of several “years” here.
So, the takeaway here is: before you hire a reputable SEO company like Make It Loud to get your business more visibility, make sure to ask them whether your website is good enough to actually BE on page one of the search results. We’ve had plenty of people ask us for these services and we have rejected them and told them to invest in a better website before looking at paying marketing elements that drive more traffic to the site.
What Exactly Do You “Do” For SEO?
This is a fair question to ask anyone you are considering hiring to do this work. The answer shouldn’t make you feel like you should’ve played more Scrabble as a kid and learned bigger words.
Far too many SEO nerds speak jargon. The goal here is simple: to sound smarter than their clients. For some, it’s a self-esteem thing. Just as a physician went to school for eons to learn how to save your life, he or she needs to be able to tell you in simple terms what’s wrong with you and how they’re going to fix it. Rather than baffling you with BS, it’s important that your SEO company can explain what they’re going to do in simple terms.
There are well over 200 ranking factors that Google uses to determine if your site deserves to be on page one or not. Even that sentence is misleading (probably on purpose by Google) because there are likely more than 400 elements they use to rank your site.
That being said, the answer you get to the question above should involve things like:
- Keyword research (words/phrases people search)
- Page Titles (meta tags) and meta descriptions
- Creating and editing good content for your site
- Technical SEO and other things to help improve your page speed
- Schema markup
- Website architecture
- Heading tags
- Foundational backlinks
- Niche and guest post backlinks (high-quality links)
- Linking your site to webmaster tools like Google search console and Google Analytics
- A bunch of other super nerdy-sounding stuff.
So, how much of that stuff is important and will help move your site to page one, and how much of it is fluff?
That’s the $1000/month question, isn’t it? (That’s around the average monthly cost most reputable companies charge for SEO. If they charge less, they do less, so you get what you pay for.)
A Tale Of Two SEO Companies
Look, all marketing is a trip to Vegas. While you’re there, you’re probably going to gamble, and if you gamble, you have a real shot at winning….and losing.
So the goal here is to hedge your bets and at the very least, do some educated gambling.
If we had to, we’d tell you a cautionary tale of two companies that both provide search engine optimization. The reality is that you, as a business owner, can’t naturally assume that just because both companies say they “do” SEO, that they actually do the same thing.
Both can baffle you with jargon that sounds really important but doesn’t move your site up the rankings. For us, the demarcation line that separates the good and the bad SEO firms is content.
The good ones write the necessary content for you. The bad ones make promises like, “we will get your business page one results in a month for the low, low price of $399/month.” Most good SEO nerds wouldn’t turn their laptops on for that much less be able to stay in business with all the work that’s involved.
How SEO is Sold
There are a few ways that SEO is offered to a business owner. Here are the most popular in order:
By Location & Industry: This is where we ask you, “Where do you want the most visibility for your business?” The point here is obvious. If you’re a dentist, people will only drive 5-15 miles to be tortured by a dentist, so having a dental practice in Buford, but showing up in downtown Atlanta makes no sense.
On the other hand, if you’re a roofer, you probably want as much visibility as you can afford to buy because you go to them.
The idea here is that we can focus our efforts to get you more visibility locally (around your business), regionally, or nationally. Obviously, it takes less work to get you ranked in Lawrenceville Georgia than it does in Gwinnett County, Atlanta, Georgia, the South, or nationally. As the pond gets bigger, there are more fish to compete with to get seen on page one.
The industry piece of the pricing equation comes into play when we think about the industry you’re in. This has to do with how competitive your industry is from Google’s perspective. Certain things like anything in competition with Viagra, weight loss, realtors, etc. are brutally competitive- so much so that many SEO nerds will tell you that they don’t even recommend you invest in this marketing element since the market is so saturated.
By Keywords: This approach to pricing can be straightforward, but there can also be some trickery involved. Some agencies will say, we will get you ranked by X number of keywords. Obviously, you would want prior approval of that keyword list so you could make sure these terms/phrases have enough search volume, are relevant to what you do, and can be conversion-friendly.
The potential trickery here is that we could get a dentist ranked for “pink tutu” pretty rapidly, but for most dentists, that phrase wouldn’t lead to more patients.
Some agencies have started experimenting with other models but these are the big ones.
The White Hat/Black Hat Thing
Years ago, people would advertise that they “only do white hat SEO” which was interesting because most people didn’t even know what “black hat SEO” even was.
While the reference is clear, white hat SEO means they only do things that Google considers “good SEO”. The problem is that Google hates SEO because it messes with their precious search results. Given that, Google would say there is no such thing as white hat SEO. When and if Google runs the world, there will only be Google Ads or Pay per click which is still how they earn 90+% of their revenue.
Black hat SEO puts your site at risk for being de-indexed entirely (and that’s just bad). Not only is that a terrible thing to do for your SEO clients, but it’s just dumb. The lawsuits that have been won on that kind of thing include far too many zeros to stay in business. Based on that, you don’t really have to worry about agencies that engage in black hat tactics. It’s like a bank saying “Hey come deposit your money! We promise not to steal it when you do!”
The digital marketing nerds at Make It Loud have been working with SEO for the past 15 years, and their SEO clients have been with them. This company handles the GABB’s SEO.Read More
ATLANTA, GA: The Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA), working with Atlanta-based digital learning company MLevel, is offering THRIVE Georgia – a training program that allows businesses with up to 500 employees in the Georgia restaurant sector to educate their employees virtually on the latest state regulations to ensure they are compliant and safe.
THRIVE Georgia courses cover dining room configuration and layout; employee safety; and environmental safety and sanitation, ensuring employees understand what is expected of them and to keep themselves and their colleagues safe.
For 10 weeks, restaurants will have access to complimentary training, developed in collaboration with various restaurant and legal partners, and the powerful analytics on the MLevel platform. The goal of the training is to quickly achieve content mastery and for everyone in the restaurant to feel better prepared to get back to business. Updates to content will be made in real-time as Georgia regulations evolve with the nature of the pandemic.
Georgia Gov. Brian P. Kemp signed an order, effective June 16, 2020, relaxing some restrictions on restaurants. In restaurants and dining rooms, there is no longer a party maximum for the number of people who can sit together, according to the governor’s office. There is no longer a limit on the number of patrons allowed per square foot. Workers at restaurants, dining rooms, banquet facilities, private event facilities, and private reception venues are only required to wear face coverings when they are interacting with patrons. In a bar, now you can have fifty people – up from twenty-five – or thirty-five percent of total listed fire capacity, whichever is greater. For salad bars and buffets, a worker can use cafeteria-style service to serve patrons or the establishment can provide hand sanitizer, install a sneeze guard, enforce social distancing, and regularly replace shared utensils to allow patron self-service.
“Safety is and has always been our industry’s number one priority. It is a critical time for restaurants to do everything they can to elevate customer confidence, including employee education,” said GRA CEO Karen Bremer. “The THRIVE Georgia COVID-19 mitigation training program perfectly aligns with Governor Kemp’s latest executive order, and will continue to be updated as regulations change. This is an opportunity I hope every restaurant in Georgia takes advantage of.”
To apply, businesses simply need to visit the THRIVE Georgia website and fill out the waiver and information form. Once submitted, applicants will receive their login credentials within two business days from the MLevel team. Upon competition, restaurants will receive a THRIVE Georgia certificate to display in the restaurant.
“We are excited to be able to partner with the Georgia Restaurant Association and help our fellow small business owners reopen. We want to provide confidence to our fellow community members in Georgia so they can return to enjoying the pleasure of eating out and support our local businesses,” said MLevel CEO Jordan Fladell.
About MLevel: MLevel is an industry leading, digital learning platform based in Atlanta. Utilizing microlearning and gamification backed by powerful analytics, they empower their clients and learners to achieve job mastery. Learn more at www.mlevel.com.
About the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA): The GRA’s mission is to serve as the voice for Georgia’s Restaurants in Advocacy, Education and Awareness. The GRA is sanctioned by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) to operate Georgia’s only not-for-profit representing the state’s foodservice industry. From large chains to start-ups, the GRA helps make Georgia a better place for restaurants to do business and helps make restaurants better for Georgia. For more information, visit www.garestaurants.org.
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Find out how you can harness a simple, effective marketing strategy to grow your business when internationally known author, marketing and business strategist Diane Conklin speaks on Wednesday, Aug. 21, to the Georgia Association of Business Brokers. The GABB is the state’s largest association of professionals dedicated to buying and selling businesses and franchises.
Diane’s topic, “Marketing Success Secrets: How To Grow Your Business & Attract More Ideal Clients With Simple, Effective Marketing Strategies,” will include tips specifically aimed at business brokers and their clients.
The GABB meets at the Georgia Association of Realtors at 6065 Barfield Road, Sandy Springs, GA, 30328, and the meeting will last from 10:30 a.m. to noon preceded by a free light breakfast networking session at 9:45 a.m. Rob Tamburri, CPA PFS, managing partner of Balog + Tamburri, CPAs, is the sponsor of the meeting.
Diane is a direct response marketing expert who specializes in showing business owners how to turn their businesses into money making machines using rapid profit acceleration, leveraged business growth and strategic implementation by integrating their online and offline marketing strategies, media and methods, to get maximum results from their marketing dollars with Complete Marketing Systems.
For more than 25 years Diane has been leading small businesses to bigger profits through her coaching, consulting, marketing funnels, systems, live events and by providing done-for-you services to clients all over the world. As the founder of Complete Marketing Systems, Diane has been involved in many campaigns grossing over $1,000,000.00 several times in her career, and she routinely helps people grow businesses to six figures, and beyond. Diane was voted Glazer-Kennedy Marketer of the Year for her innovative marketing strategies and campaigns and was nominated for Atlanta Business Woman of the Year.
The monthly meeting begins at 10:30 a.m. and is preceded at 9:45 a.m. by a free light breakfast and networking session. There is networking with coffee and pastries from about 9:45 to 10:30 and the meeting will last from about 10:30 to somewhere between 11:30 and noon.
The GABB is the state’s largest and oldest association of professionals who specialize in brokering the purchase and sale of businesses and franchises. Broker members help owners determine the asking price of their business, create marketing plans and strategies for selling their business, identify and qualify buyers, and have the knowledge, experience and skills needed to help maintain the confidential nature of the process. The professionals of GABB relentlessly pursue professional development so they can provide superior, ethical services for all customers and clients. Affiliate members include bankers, lawyers, appraisers, insurers and other professionals who work closely with brokers to help owners and buyers get to the closing table.
For more information about GABB, please contact GABB President Dean Burnette at 912-247-3209 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or GABB Executive Director Diane Loupe at email@example.com or 404-374-3990.
1. They want you to hold money in your escrow account (usually a large dollar amount so the deal is attractive). The risk is that the deal or client requires you to transfer some or all of the money out of your account before you bank has time to verify the funds are legit and can cover the transfer. This actually happened to a Georgia attorney awhile back and it was in the AJC. Talk about bad publicity for the attorney who got suckered; he was very embarrassed.
2. The transaction involves an overseas or out-of-state company wanting to do a deal with either an individual or a business in located Georgia, and they need a Georgia attorney or other professional to represent them.
Technology can help business owners get top dollar when selling their business, according to Keith Gregg, Chairman/CEO of Chalice Wealth Partners, a San Diego-based wealth tech member organization for independent wealth advisors.
Gregg, in February 8, 2019 article in Forbes, “Using Tech to Enhance and Sell a Business,” says some small business owners limit their search for a potential buyer to their professional network or rely on an appraisal service to determine what their business is worth. He writes that the right technology can help avoid these pitfalls. He explains how important it is to address three important areas before placing your business on the market.
Before looking for a buyer, Gregg recommends upgrading aging software and hardware. Upgrading systems can be particularly important for attracting younger buyers. It is common for businesses to be successful without proprietary technology or procedures, but that doesn’t mean that technology should be ignored.
Important information should be digitized, as this data will be vital for the new owner to grow the business over the long haul. Incorporating software that can track and analyze data across the business is likewise valuable. Using software, such as customer relationship management and financial management software, will showcase that your business has been modernized.
Determining the value of your business can be tricky and laborious. Gregg recommends opting for a professional business valuation, as he feels, “business valuation calculations can remove much of the guesswork from the process.”
You should expect a business valuation calculator to include everything from verified data on comparable business deals, including gross income and cash flow figures and more. There are even industry-specific calculations that can be used as well. The main point that Gregg wants to convey is that business owners should use tangible and proven data to sell their businesses. Like upgrading systems appeals to younger buyers, the same holds true for using verified data to sell.
Take Advantage of the Digital Marketplace
Gregg’s view is that perhaps the single greatest technology for business owners to leverage is that of the digital marketplace. Sites that link businesses with prospective buyers can help to streamline and expedite the sales process. Through such sites, it is possible to go deeper than a specific industry and even explore sub-sectors, thus enhancing the chances of finding the right buyer.
Technology can be used to help sell businesses in a variety of ways. An experienced and proven business broker will leverage a whole range of tools to assist business owners when selling their businesses. When you opt for a proven business broker, you can expect to receive offers from serious and vetted buyers and, in the process, save a great deal of time while maintaining confidentiality.
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