What is SEO and How Does it Work?

Part 1 of 3.

Part 1 of 3.

SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of increasing the quantity and quality of organic traffic to your business website.

The first goal of SEO is to draw the highest quality traffic to you site. What does this mean? If you have a local liquor store but Google is telling internet users that you are a bar and grill, the current SEO efforts are working and need to be refocused so that Google is crystal clear that you are indeed a liquor store. You need to then make sure that all content and SEO related assets, on both the front end (the visible part of your website) and back end (under the hood, the part of the website that you don't see) make this clear to Google.

The next goal is to attract more of the high quality traffic that you based your initial SEO efforts on. The more high quality content that you create for your website, the more that Google's crawlers have to gather and the more your site is vetted with Google.

Creating awesome content (blog posts, infographics, videos, etc.) makes people want to visit your site as well as share the content with the world. Google likes this because it wants your pages to be interesting to users and come off as authoritative. This will ultimately win for you because this will only make Google want to show your website content to more people. Don't forget to use phrases and words that are going to appeal to and resonate with the people you ultimately want to convert into customers and clients.

Many other elements such as meta descriptions and title tags must be in place and executed perfectly to bode well with Google's crawlers. You don't really need to understand these elements in depth unless of course you want to learn how to do SEO yourself. But if you are going to hire someone to do your SEO, you will know that they know there stuff as over time you will start ranking higher and higher as users are searching for the solutions that you can provide.

Don't forget to make all of your website content easy to share. Beyond that, make sure to keep it coming! You really can't do enough content creation as long as it's genuine, authoritative and provides value for the user.

So does every business need SEO? We will explore this question on the next part of this 3 part series :) Do you  have more immediate questions? Feel free to reach out any time! jeremy@chicagomarketingsolutions.com or call Jeremy at 773-234-7798.

 

Is Email Marketing The Best Digital Marketing Money Can Buy?

Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, email marketing is about the most powerful, efficient and value-driven online marketing resource today.

Let us explain:  Yes, social media is social driven, as it should be. Kind of like that new swanky sports car your neighbor just got as an all-too-obvious ode to his youth after his recent crash into middle age. It’s glitzy and hums like a tiger, but at the end of the day, he keeps the Buick to take him farther on less gas, without as much maintenance and more safely. Balance. Bottom line, he needs to have both to if he wants to fill both needs. And if you hadn’t noticed WE ALL have LOTS of needs today and all need LOTS of options.  We are the entitled generation. Give the people what they want.

Now make no mistake, we are social-first, meaning we value the VALUE of social media first and foremost as it is an incredible way to grow a long term relationship with a database of followers that you can repeatedly market to on a day-to-day basis.  If you aren’t using social media for your small business, we’d love to hear from you if you truly feel you are crushing it without [We can safely assume the inbox will remain quiet but are absolutely open to hearing your stories:  jeremy@chicagomarketingsolutions.com].

That said, it is absolutely true that social media is more time consuming and takes more effort than email.  By design and if used the right way, email marketing can pack a MASSIVE wallop in terms effectiveness, ease of message consumption, and indigenous promotional components.   We all have to remember that social is NOT a market place, it’s a place for companies to be social, tell stories, provide added value and stay in the psyche of your potential and current customers.

The Direct Marketing Association reported that a recent study found e-mail marketing to offer an ROI of $57.25 for every dollar spent. That’s more than 150% more than the ROI for non-e-mail online marketing, including search engine optimization and search engine marketing.
Again, that’s not to say social media isn’t a powerhouse of marketing potential. If done skillfully, social media marketing offers a great way to be in front of millions of waiting eyes for your brand and brand message and market over and over again to them. Nice. It captures the attention (even if briefly) of a broad audience and grows every day in its ability to target your message to a given demographic.

But when you look at the real power of email marketing to not only proliferate your brand message, but to actually take that message to the next level and make that all-too-important sale, this is where social media reveals itself as an altogether different beast.  Read on to find out how to strengthen your email efforts via social.

Let’s look at the native elements involved in email marketing. You’re reaching out to an opted-in consumer (at least you’re supposed to be) in their own very personal realm, their inbox, communicating your brand’s core values while building on the trust that got you in their inbox in the first place.

Simply put, email was made  just for marketing. With social media, marketers are trying to retrofit a digital medium to suit needs that are not only not indigenous to that medium but must be clouded in subterfuge (so that marketing appears social) to even be tolerated, let alone received, by its community. In social, you are competing in a mind numbing stream of information & competing with cat videos, selfies and endless other bits of micro-content. However,  if you are good at it and know how to use each respective social platform to story tell, it is a field day for marketing, especially when integrated with email.

Social platforms like Facebook and Twitter are meant  for social activity. An intrusion into that activity with sales-based messaging can not only fall short on your readers but actually damage your business’ brand. And with the new “Mute” button Twitter is launching, your social marketing dollars could be wasted without you even knowing it [UNLESS you are doing it RIGHT meaning , in a native sense].

Email marketing simply offers the best means of communicating your brand message through educational and brand-reinforcing content that gives the reader fundamental insight into why your brand is the one they signed up to learn more about in the first place. Email marketing powers the value of your business and brand right where your audience lives.

Given the sheer volume of content flowing, the efficacy of your marketing can easily get lost on many you may be reaching via social marketing. But every reader you reach via email marketing has given you the opportunity to make your pitch in the first place. By and large, a greater proportion of those you reach via email marketing will be open to your message than those you reach on social media.

But, you say, aren’t more people reading social media than email? The simple answer: No. The fact is that there are more than three times the number of active email accounts than Twitter and Facebook combined.

And email is more personal. With Facebook and Twitter, messages are blasted to a community, and when you do reach out with personal messaging, it’s cumbersome and less-conducive for professional corporate communications. (Again, it’s meant to be casual, social).
Email can be given a personal touch while maintaining a very corporate feel. So a financial management firm touting its recent quarter’s performance numbers, for example, will find its message better received in an email marketing message than in a Facebook post.

So what about making a sale, landing that new client? Sorry, there’s no app for that. Facebook and Twitter are but a step in the process. Email marketing can get the job done. Built in eCommerce value with “buy now” buttons that take the reader to your online shopping cart, coupons and high value, exclusive offers are all native to the email experience. On social media, they’re mostly a nuisance.

The fact is people don’t utilize social media to shop or conduct business. They utilize social media to be social. They check-in with friends, find the latest cute baby video and look for the newest meme. They don’t, as a rule, use social media to conduct business (whether it’s B2B or B2C).  However, you can use social media to listen to what people are saying, whether it’s directly about your brand or related topics and learn how to better have a conversation there.

People do, however, conduct business via email everyday and have been since its inception. So it’s only natural to field offers, learn more about a product or service, check rates and, yes, close a deal in your inbox.

The real challenge for marketers in harnessing the power of the email marketing is amassing opted-in email addresses. And that’s where  you leverage your social standing.

Be social on Facebook, be social on Twitter. Heck, be social on Pinterest or any of the other endless social platforms, if you want. Have a ball in every new digital mixer that comes along. But to maximize your marketing budget, take that conversation to the inbox when you really want to start integrating your marketing. Be present on as many relevant platforms as possible and send the information around all of them, strategically.

Use social to tease your brand message, wrapped up in a cute and witty, eye-catching posts. But when you’re ready to talk value proposition, and brand value, make your social call to action one that converts the interest your online community has in your business into an email address so you can really talk turkey and show them the power of your brand philosophy in a medium made for commerce.

At the end of the day, using social as a springboard for email marketing makes the most sense. Instead of forcing a square peg into a round hole. You’re using both digital mediums in ways native (and not contrary) to their functions for a seamless marketing campaign that turns “friends” into clients without hurting your brand in the socialsphere and becoming ‘that guy’ at the cocktail party who’s always trying to sell everyone in the room life insurance.
 

3 Ways to Improve Your Small Business Google Local Listing

If you are a business that is trying to improve its visibility on Google, the best thing you can do is supply it with the most accurate information possible. When a person in your area searches for products like yours, it is best to have your business information listed in your Google Local page so that when the search results page returns options, your business appears prominently.

To do so, here are 3 easy ways to make that happen:


1) Make sure your business information is correct and complete

Having the wrong address listed will result in the wrong location appearing on the map of your page. Double-check to make sure your zip code or suite number is listed correctly.
Post your official website on your page. This is not only good SEO, creating a back-link to your site, but will improve your page’s appearance in search results.
You also have the option to list payment options (cash, credit, etc.) in your listing. Be sure to list any special payment options or limitations you might have (don’t include American Express if you don’t accept it.)

You can also list your business hours. This is becoming more and more important as Google is getting better at including this information in search results.

2) Choose the Correct Categories for Your Business

In your Google listing, you are given the option to choose what categories you will appear in in Google search results. It is best to choose the categories that are most accurate to your business. If you’re a donut shop, do you really want to be surrounded by listings for sports equipment stores?

Go down the list of suggestions that Google provides and pick the best fit. You also have the option to create your own category if none apply. That can be helpful as you may have niche business that then has low competition in search results!

3) Do Some Fact Checking

Google your business name. In the results that appear, is your business information accurate? Does it match your Google listing? If not, try to contact that website and make a correction.
You can also get your site listed on other directories, such as Foursquare, Yahoo!, Merchant Circle, Yellow Pages, all for free! These all create an accurate portrayal of your business online, AND create good SEO with back-links to your site.

You can also encourage visitors to your store to write a review on your Google local listing page. This is fast becoming a more important sign by visitors of the trustworthiness of your website and services. These also are a signal to Google’s algorithm that you are an authority on your specific field. After a purchase, or an email sign up on your website, add an automated message thanking the person for their purchase and include a link to your local page. Ask the person to leave a kind word.

These simple steps can help you to appear more frequently in search results pages for the categories you wish to appear, as well as better promote your business to new visitors. The best part is that it is easy and free. So do yourself a favor and start the process today.
 

Chicago Law Firm Marketing Success Case Study

CHICAGO LAW FIRM BRANDING CASE STUDY

Industry: Legal, law.

Client Challenges & Needs: Chicago based firm, Legal Ally provides small business legal services, focusing on serving women and the LGBT community. Steve Smith, principal of Legal Ally approached us for a solution to create branding including a professional logo, business website as well as a business card for the launch of his new firm. He had a specific balance that he wanted to achieve in terms of aesthetic, color and appeal for the target market.

Solution: Through our correspondence we were able to pinpoint the look and feel that the client was hoping for. We provided an initial array of design options to consider and worked through edits and drafts until we came to the logo that the client was happy with. From there, we gave the client premium WordPress theme options to choose from to represent the firm. Upon finding the perfect theme fit, we then built an SEO optimized WordPress business website styled with the company colors and aesthetic.

Results: Armed with a professional website to move forward with, the client has continued to work with us on website updates as well as an additional business card tailored to the client coaching services.

Testimonial: "I was extolling your virtues to a colleague the other day. Thanks for all of your great work." -Steve Smith, Attorney

Client Website:  http://www.yourlegalally.com/

PPC 101: What is Google Adwords Advertising and Is It Right for Your Small Business?

Best Chicago PPC Adwords Marketing Firm

You may have heard of this term before, or similar terms, like search engine marketing or search engine management. It may, however, still be a concept you don’t understand. If that’s the case, you may be missing out on a great opportunity to advertise your business online. Let us give you the primer on pay per click advertising, and why you might want to add it to your marketing efforts.

So what is PPC?

1)      It is traffic to your website.

At its basic level, it is a wave of traffic that is brought to your site through search engines like Google and Bing. It is different from what is referred to as “organic” traffic because you are “purchasing” these visits to your site.

2)      How does it work?
When you choose to use PPC advertising, you set up a campaign that includes keywords that reflect your products and services that you want visitors to purchase. These keywords are terms that your potential customers will use to find similar services in a Google search.
In order to get traffic for these terms, you would place monetary bids on these keywords. You would bid on these terms because it is a competitive market with other advertisers bidding on your terms as well. These terms, when entered by a Google searcher, activate your ads to appear.

That’s right. You would build ads in your campaign that appeal to and entice visitors to click and then visit your website. At this point, if your website is optimized for these visitors, they should then complete a desired action on your site (buys a product, fill out a contact form, etc.).

Seems like a lot of work? It is. But it could very well be worth the effort for your particular business. Because it works, and has worked for as long as search engines have been allowing advertising on their networks. Why?

3)      It is traffic that is more likely to convert.

That’s right. Paid traffic is more likely to convert because these are QUALIFIED LEADS. That means that your keywords MATCH their buying intent, and the visitor is more likely to complete a conversion on your site because they are FINDING WHAT THEY NEED QUICKLY.

Let’s try an example. A person who has a website selling bike helmets decides that they need advertising. So they set up a campaign and choose to bid on terms like “need a bike helmet,” “bike helmet for sale,” “cool bike helmets on sale,” and the like. A searcher enters a similar term or that term exactly into Google, and the ad appears. The person clicks, finds what he needs and a sale is made.

You might be thinking, well that is okay, but why should I bother spending money like that. This is why:

4)      It is advertising that you can track directly to the creation of revenue.
If you spent money on print ads, flyers, posters, commercials on radio or billboards, you are taking a “shotgun” approach to advertising. You spray the world with your message and hope it translates into sales in your store. I’m sure you’ve felt the frustration. Where is my money going?

PPC allows you to be surgical with your ad spend. You can make tailored messages that reflect your unique offerings. You can put them directly in front of customers who intend to buy items such as yours. You can use the amazing tracking and reporting that advertising systems give you to track a sale and revenue all the way back to the term that WAS FIRST ENTERED INTO THE SEARCH ENGINE, which gives you even more insight into how your products are being found.

The best part: you can do this, for a just a few dollars for each visitor. Sometimes, depending on the item, you could get traffic for change of a dollar. Doesn’t that seem to make more sense?

5)      So how do I go about this? How do I make this happen for me?
Hire a professional digital marketer. You wouldn’t hire a clown to fix a leaky faucet. So why would you hire anyone else other than a professional marketer to advertise for you and drive revenue?

A digital marketer will be able to build and operate a pay per click campaign faster and more effectively than you or a person on your staff. This is because they have the experience, time and skill to optimize for conversion and get the most out of your advertising dollars. They will be able to work with you to make better decisions on your campaign and gain better results.
What is pay per click? It is immediate traffic that converts. It is an advertising investment. It is a tool to help sell your products. It is an essential component of your online advertising. It is a tool that professionals can use to help you grow your business.

Pay Per Click is not right for every businesses for a number of reasons. We don’t like having our clients spend their marketing budgets on services that aren’t relevant or potentially fruitful for them. Wondering if PPC advertising is right for your small Chicago business?

Let’s talk:  jeremy@chicagomarketingsolutions.com | 773-234-7798

How to Leverage SEO When Creating Content for Your Company Blog

Best Chicago Blogging and Content Creation Agency

Your blog is your direct line to your audience, the potential customers looking for products or services like yours. However, you need your blog to APPEAR when customers are using terms in search engines. The best way to do that is to use SEO in your blog writing. Here are some quick tips to help you along.

Write for your audience

Your audience has specific needs and interests. Your blog is the answer to their prayers. The key is to know what they are interested in.

If you are an accountant, you might write about ways to save money on taxes, tax breaks, new tax laws, deductions, etc. If you are a limo service, you might write about the attractions in your town and how a limo can get you there more easily. Perhaps write about special occasions, like weddings or bachelor parties, and how a group of people can have fun in a safe way.

Know what they are interested in learning about. Become their mentor supplying them with information that they can use. Your authority will build and you will be seen as a resource.

Use the words that your audience is using to search in your blog titles

This is the basic elements of how to use search engine optimization for your blog. Search engines are used by people that enter their own words to locate their needs. Search engines are meant to bring back the best suggestions, meaning websites. This includes your blogs. By optimizing your blog entries for terms that real people are using, you increase the chances of your blog showing up in search results and then being clicked on.

Build your blogs around the topics that your audience searches for on search engines. Google’s algorithm will categorize your blog posts according to these signals and place you in search results pages that appear when your audience is looking for information.

Use H1 and H2 tags in the body of your blog

These tags are also signals to Google’s algorithm of the importance of terms in your blog posts.  They direct the spiders to know which terms and concepts are most important in the blog. You can learn more about these here.
Using these also helps your reader to more easily scan and ingest the material within your blog. They act as mile markers to catch your reader’s eye and to direct them to the main points of each section. They are very helpful in SEO and user experience.

Add a Meta Description and A Keyword Friendly URL

A meta description is the two lines of text that appear beneath your blog title in search engine results. This is a caption of what the blog contains, and is useful to the reader to determine the relevancy of your blog. It should contain keywords related to your topic, and be written in a way to help attract attention.

A keyword friendly URL is meant to also help Google to more easily categorize and reference your blog. It is also a good user experience to see the terms that they are searching for appear in the URL, as it is further proof that the piece is relevant to their interests.

These tips can help your improve how your blog appears in search results pages, as well as increase your appearance as an authority on your subjects. Implementing these concepts will improve your business prospects over time and thus your bottom line.

 

 

 

Chicago Music Teacher Marketing Success Case Study

Industry: Music, Music Teacher


Client Challenges & Needs: Sol approached us when he really wanted to see an increase in his client list. Sol had experienced some success with craigslist but heard about our creative craigslist efforts and wanted to learn about our approach.


Solution: Robust Craigslist campaign adding more polish to his previous efforts there and A/B tested to to reach optimal performance. Consulting for social media and SEO approach to expand and add value to his online visibility.


Results: Aided in tripling Sol’s client list in just 3 months.


Testimonial: “Jeremy is the greatest! A friend of mine recommended Jeremy for marketing and expanding my business. At the time I was in dire need of a few more students, I was about to close shop. In the space of a few weeks, my business went from an agonizing to thriving. When he came in, I had about nine students a week, and, three months later, I was at 27 students per week: the biggest increase in the smallest amount of time I ever experienced in 20 years.
I found Jeremy to be the ultimate pro. Whenever I contacted him, he was very quick to reply. I recommend Jeremy with the highest confidence to anyone looking to improve their business. He is a lucky find!” – Sol Garnier, Drum & Piano Teacher


Client Website:  http://mydrumlessons.com/

 

Chicago Accounting Firm / CPA Marketing Success Case Study

Best Chicago Accounting Firm and CPA Marketing

Industry: Accounting, Tax & Financial Services


Client Challenges & Needs: John approached us, dissatisfied with the ultimate performance of a pricey direct mail campaign as well as a request to take a deeper look into his current marketing efforts to see what could be accomplished.


Solution: After an audit of John’s past marketing efforts, we saw a huge opportunity on craigslist. We took John from having one ad running that was text-only to several branded/polished ads running at once that spoke to and better positioned the full gamut of his services as well as established a social media presence which had not previously been leveraged.


Results: Aided in doubling John’s sales from the previous year.


Testimonial: “I have been slowly but steadily growing a CPA practice in Chicago for the past four years. For the first few years, I engaged an out-of state marketing consultant who guided me in producing large direct mail campaigns and door to door flyer distribution. These methods were cost effective at first, although massively time consuming. And recently, their effect has been waning. I determined that a more progressive and fresh approach was needed. I heard great things about Jeremy Glickstein from a mutual client. His approach to online advertising and social media had tremendously improved traffic for this client so I decided to give him a try.Working with Jeremy is a pleasure. He is a ball of energy and takes full ownership in his role in getting my message out there. He designed, implemented and continues to maintain an expansive craigslist campaign for my firm. Furthermore, he revolutionized my business Facebook presence and got me on humming on Yelp as well. In the past month, I have secured nearly $7,000 in new business directly related to Jeremy’s efforts at a cost of only $1,600. I highly recommend his services to everybody except other Chicago CPAs!” -John J. Griffin, CPA


Client Website:  http://www.johngriffincpa.com/

 

 

Crowdfunding Success With Our Chicago Food Company Client

Best Chicago Food Product Marketing Firm

Industry: Food, Apple Sauce


Client Challenges & Needs: Mullen Foods approached us expressing an interest in running a crowd funding campaign via Kickstarter to complete an initiative to expand into multiple US regions.


Solution: We crafted a custom crowd funding campaign anchored by a robust social media and PR plan.


Results: Publicity across multiple media platforms including TV, radio and print. Reached $33,747 of a $25,000 goal (135%funded). Rapid, continued growth of social media following across multiple platforms.


Testimonial: “I have found Jeremy to be very professional, accessible at all hours and reliable. He created an absolutely incredible Kickstarter campaign and I was able to not only make my goal, but exceeded it. Through his social media campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest we have been able to increase our customer base by thousands of people. He is an extremely creative and really knows is marketing and social media campaigns. I have received a great deal of positive feedback from my Facebook friends regarding is witty and informative posts. I feel very fortunate to have work with him and I know that our company has benefited greatly from his services.If you are looking to start a social media or crowd funding campaign, I would highly recommend Jeremy Glickstein and the Chicago Marketing Solutions team. They know social media and can deliver what ever you need.” – Jim Mullen, Owner of Mullen Foods


Client Website:  www.mullenfoods.com


Press Placements via our PR ( Public Relations) Efforts:


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/28/jim-mullen-applesauce_n_4170325.html


http://khitschicago.cbslocal.com/2013/10/25/paralyzed-on-duty-chicago-cop-now-seeks-funds-for-homemade-apple-sauce-company/


http://wgnradio.com/2013/11/08/jim-mullen-from-mullens-food-chicagos-finest-applesauce/


http://www.myfoxchicago.com/story/23934943/former-chicago-cop-usues-kickstarter-to-take-moms-apple-sauce-nationwide


http://chicagoist.com/2013/10/24/kickstarter_projects_we_love_mullen.php


http://www.newmobility.com/2013/10/paralyzed-chicago-police-officer-making-best-apple-sauce-world/

 

Chicago Handyman & Electrician Marketing Success Case Study

Chicago's Best Handyman and Electrician Marketing Firm

Industry: Service, Electrician & Handyman


Client Challenges & Needs: Punch List approached us after a once fruitful Google Adwords Pay per Click campaign took a severe downward spiral and a hiring a freelance marketing gun who was hard to get a hold off and not creating a return on investment.


Solution: Recognizing that trends were changing and that eyes had moved to mobile and social, Punch List sensed that content marketing was the way to go. After an audit of past efforts we proposed and launched a 3-prong attack:


1) The client expressed an interest in eventually expanding to other markets in the Illinois area as well as nationally. We immediately implemented a re-branding of the company visual identity developing an agency quality look and feel to represent the kind of growth they were looking to achieve.

2) We implemented a native social media plan, quickly growing the client fan base more than 1000% in the first month of service and directly linking client to several thousands of dollar in sales in the following months.
3) We built a robust content package, consisting of 12 utility based blog posts per month, leveraging Youtube with promotional videos, commercials & video client testimonials as well as hit the streets for a good, old fashioned canvassing efforts, linking client to several thousand more in sales.

OUR CREATIVE for Punch List


Punch List Motion Graphics Business Trailer:


 
Punch List Video Customer Testimonial:

 

 Punch List Commercial:

 

Results: ROI of 150% gain, ever increasing visibility across digital platforms & we have consistently kept Punch List on page 1 of Google organic search via our content and SEO efforts.
Testimonial: “We were super impressed right away. Our social media following increased over 1000%. Jeremy has added money to our bottom line. It’s exciting to see that from your investment. If there is one thing I could recommend to businesses in Chicago or anywhere, it would be to pick up the phone and call Jeremy!” – Jim Copenhaver, Owner of Punch List

Client Website:  www.yourpunchlist.com